Mustaqbal: Probe Must Target Those who Prevented Negotiations on Troops in 2014
Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc threw its support Tuesday behind ex-PM Tammam Salam in connection with the latest controversy over the 2014 kidnap and consequent execution of Lebanese troops at the hands of jihadist groups.
“Ex-PM Tammam Salam's balance and wisdom contributed to rescuing Lebanon from the woes of internal strife, saving the town of Arsal, and avoiding the shedding of a lot of innocent blood in a staged battle,” said the bloc in a statement issued after its weekly meeting, referring to the army's 2014 clashes with the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups.
“Certain parties showed intransigence and insisted on blocking negotiations that could have led to the release of the servicemen. They later thwarted several initiatives that could have achieved success had it not been for suspicious incidents that involved gunfire and shelling against the mediators who were in charge of the negotiations,” Mustaqbal added.
The bloc also categorically rejected “the detestable and suspicious accusations and campaigns that some parties have waged against the national role of then-PM Tammam Salam.”
It noted that the some parties have deliberately stirred controversy with the aim of “deviating attention from the latest negotiations that led to the withdrawal of the IS terrorists.”
“We insist on a comprehensive probe by the judiciary, starting by the phase of intervening in Syria, the import of the IS group into Lebanon, and the blocking of the negotiations” in 2014, Mustaqbal added, in an apparent reference to Hizbullah.
It also stressed that the probe that President Michel Aoun has ordered should also address “the latest negotiations that a certain group has conducted to recover its captives and the bodies of its fighters, allowing itself something it had prevented the Lebanese state from doing.”
A Hizbullah-led agreement with the IS group has allowed Lebanon to recover the bodies of nine troops who were abducted in 2014 and eventually executed. The deal involved the evacuation of hundreds of IS militants from the Lebanese-Syria border region to eastern Syria.
While certain parties have slammed Hizbullah for allowing the IS militants to “flee justice in air-conditioned buses,” the Iran-backed party and some of its allies have accused Salam's government and ex-army chief Jean Qahwaji of alleged misconduct and inaction that supposedly led to keeping the servicemen in captivity.
Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has argued that the negotiations with the IS militants were the “only way” to recover the bodies of the slain troops, while Salam has emphasized that he had sought to protect civilians in the border town of Arsal during the 2014 clashes, accusing rival parties of obstructing negotiations that took place that year.