Berri Urges Cooperation with Syria, Defends Salam, Qahwaji and IS Negotiations

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Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday stressed that cooperation in all fields between Beirut and Damascus is vital for the two countries, as he defended ex-PM Tammam Salam and former army chief General Jean Qahwaji in the face of criticism over the 2014 anti-jihadist clashes.

“Lebanon and Syria are a strategic need for each other… Syria represents Lebanon’s only land route to the world… and we’re still seeking its help as a source for electricity,” said Berri in a speech marking the 39th anniversary of the disappearance of AMAL Movement founder Imam Moussa al-Sadr and his two companions.

“We have treaties and agreements with it and we need to build a partnership the same as we did with Egypt,” the speaker added.

“Lebanon and Syria lie on the border of the Palestinian cause and are both targeted by Israel. Both countries aspire to liberate their occupied land in Golan, the Shebaa Farma and the Kfarshouba Hills, and to achieve just and comprehensive peace,” Berri noted.

His remarks come after controversy in the Council of Ministers about economic cooperation with Syria and after calls by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah for military and security cooperation with Damascus were met with strong opposition from Lebanese parties opposed to the Syrian regime.

“The same as our war on terror required our participation in international alliances and we thanked the U.S., Britain and France for their support, we should coordinate between the two countries (Lebanon and Syria) to dry up the sources of terrorism,” Berri added.

“No one voiced criticism when we received U.S. and British aid. Instead of being in a national festival, they (some political parties) are even trying to dissociate themselves from a victory that was achieved by the army and the resistance,” Berri went on to say, referring to offensives by the Lebanese army and Hizbullah on both sides of the Lebanese-Syrian border that ended with the surrender and withdrawal of Islamic State militants from the region.

“They are saying that the resistance engaged in negotiations without informing the state, but (General Security chief) Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim was not negotiating on behalf of ‘his father or my father.’ He did not do any move without coordinating with the president and the premier,” Berri added.

The speaker also congratulated “the people, the army and the resistance on the achievements of the army’s operation and the liberation of the outskirts, and on the operations of the brave resistance that liberated the outskirts of Arsal, Flita and Qalamun, in cooperation with the Syrian army.”

Nine bodies likely belonging to Lebanese troops abducted by IS in 2014 and eventually executed have been located and recovered as part of a Hizbullah-led deal with the jihadist group. The deal also involved the evacuation of the jihadists and their families to eastern Syria and the handover of a Hizbullah captive and the bodies of several Hizbullah fighters.

The agreement sparked major controversy in Lebanon, which prompted Hizbullah, the Free Patriotic Movement and some of their allies to slam parties in Tammam Salam’s 2014 government as well as former army chief Qahwaji, accusing them of inaction that led to the abduction of around 30 Lebanese troops and policemen during the 2014 Arsal battle against IS and the Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front.

Berri defended Salam and Qahwaji on Wednesday and urged an end to the political bickering.

“The martyrs of the army and the resistance died for us all. They had loved ones, relatives, children and dreams. They were martyred for you and for your parents and children, so why should we abandon them?” Berri said.

“Why should we pin the blame on PM Salam or General Qahwaji while the current government is the same previous government albeit for the exit of the Kataeb Party and the participation of the Lebanese Forces?” the parliament speaker wondered.

Timeline

30 August 2017, 19:11

Berri: Why should we pin the blame (for the abduction of the troops) on PM Salam or General Qahwaji while the current government is the same previous government albeit for the exit of Kataeb and the participation of the LF?
30 August 2017, 19:00

Berri: The martyrs of the army and the resistance died for us all. They had loved ones, relatives, children and dreams. They were martyred for you and for your parents and children, so why should we abandon them?
30 August 2017, 18:59

Berri: I stress our adherence to Resolution 1701 and the call for respecting it should be addressed to Israel, not to us.
30 August 2017, 18:55

Berri: No one voiced criticism when we received U.S. and British aid. Instead of being in a national festival, they are even trying to dissociate themselves from a victory that was achieved by the army and the resistance. They are saying that the resistance engaged in negotiations without informing the state, but Maj. Gen. Ibrahim was not negotiating on behalf of “his father or my father.” He did not do any move without coordinating with the president and the premier.
30 August 2017, 18:52

Berri: The same as our war on terror required our participation in international alliances and we thanked the U.S., Britain and France for their support, we should coordinate between the two countries (Lebanon and Syria) to dry up the sources of terrorism.
30 August 2017, 18:47

Berri: Lebanon and Syria lie on the border of the Palestinian cause and are both targeted by Israel. Both countries aspire to liberate their occupied land in Golan, the Shebaa Farma and the Kfarshouba Hills, and to achieve just and comprehensive peace.
30 August 2017, 18:44

Berri: Lebanon and Syria are a strategic need for each other… Syria represents Lebanon’s only land route to the world… and we’re still seeking its help as a source for electricity. We have treaties and agreements with it and we need to build a partnership the same as we did with Egypt.
30 August 2017, 18:31

Berri stressed that Maj. Gen. Ibrahim negotiated over the IS-held troops “on behalf of the state” and after coordinating with President Aoun and PM Hariri.
30 August 2017, 18:17

Berri: We support any collective action agreement that achieves security for the Palestinian camps and keeps them away from any domestic conflict.
30 August 2017, 18:12

Berri: We salute the security agencies and their role, martyrs and members… Instead of wasting time on bickering, we call for launching developmental projects, especially in the Bekaa.
30 August 2017, 18:10

Berri: We congratulate the people, the army and the resistance on the achievements of the army’s operation and the liberation of the outskirts, and on the operations of the brave resistance that liberated the outskirts of Arsal, Flita and Qalamun, in cooperation with the Syrian army.
30 August 2017, 18:08

Berri: We call on the relevant authorities in Lebanon, Libya and the Arab League to offer all the support needed to the committee following up on the case of Imam al-Sadr.
30 August 2017, 18:05

Berri: Together with the media committee and the imam’s family, we are mulling steps related to international law that are aimed at preserving the cause… The imam and his two companions are still alive and should be liberated and there is no place for despair.
30 August 2017, 18:02

Berri: We can say that Imam Moussa al-Sadr and his two companions are still alive and should be liberated.
30 August 2017, 17:57

Berri: Imam al-Sadr taught us that the country’s strength lies first in its unity and in its people, army and resistance.
30 August 2017, 17:55

Berri: Imam al-Sadr taught us that every aggression requires resistance… He made us realize that Israel’s terrorism on the southern border is the other real face of takfiri terrorism.
30 August 2017, 17:52

Speaker Nabih Berri in speech commemorating 39th anniversary of disappearance of AMAL Movement founder Imam Moussa al-Sadr: I call on you to observe a moment of silence and recite al-Fatiha for the souls of the martyrs of the army and the resistance.

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