Armed forces in Beirut
Photo: AP
Lebanese ruling party: Disarm militias
Hezbollah rejects proposal following Sunni-Shiite clashes, saying weapons 'aimed only at Israel'

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri convened a meeting of the ruling party Saturday, three days after clashes between Sunnis and Shiites broke out in Beirut.


Party members suggested that weapons be banned in the capital, aside from those required by security forces. Hezbollah rejected the idea out of hand.


Those present at the meeting condemned "the mass of weapons and gunmen in Beirut, its neighborhoods and amongst its houses, which together with the tension provide ample means for a violent explosion".


The party also called on the military and security forces to take more action against such occurrences.


"The citizens of Beirut are saying all together that such an incident cannot repeat itself. We are saying no to weapons and gunmen in the streets of the capital, and ask that Beirut be demilitarized of weapons," a statement released after the meeting said.


It added that all weapons not belonging to the military should be "gathered up and placed in the hands of the Lebanese government".


But Hezbollah's representatives in the Lebanese parliament say there is not much chance the proposal will be implemented.


MP Ali Moqdad said that "the weapons of the resistance (Hezbollah) are aimed only at Israel, but they must cover all of Lebanon. These weapons are legitimate, respectable, and against civil war."


His colleague, MP Walid Succariyeh, told the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily that Hezbollah's goal was to "cover all of Lebanon's territory with weapons of the resistance".


"The war with Israel is not taking place solely in its southern region, but in all of Lebanon. What is stopping Israel from deploying troops in Beirut, the Biqa valley, or other regions, such as was carried out in 2006?" he asked.


Succariyeh wondered whether the government wanted to attempt to turn Beirut into "an area like the Monaco principality, where tourists can spend the summer and play cards".


"Do they want us to raise white flags and surrender the streets of the capital? This proposal needs to be refined, because what is needed is not a dismantling of weapons but rather organization and supervision of it," he said.


It was not the first time the government had called for the disarming of militia in its territory. The issue was discussed during the "National Dialogue", which came to an abrupt halt after the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.


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