Lebanon's Christian leader Geagea in crosshairs with Hezbollah

Author: Idris Okuyucu

Publication Date: 28/10/2021

Source: Anadolu Agency

Samir Geagea believes that Lebanon will not have bright future unless Hezbollah is disarmed

Samir Geagea-- leader of the Lebanese Forces party -- is once again in the limelight as he was summoned to a military court following armed clashes that occurred in Beirut in mid-October.

Christian leader Geagea, one of the important partners of the March 14 bloc standing against the Assad regime, Iran, and Hezbollah, is accused of killing seven members of the Hezbollah and Amal movement.

Hezbollah accused Geagea as the main perpetrator of the bloody attack on Oct. 14, a charge the Christian leader denies.

 Polarization of Lebanese politics

The rift between the political parties over their conflicting opinions on Syria and Iran has deepened following the crisis in Et-Tayyuna region.

Geagea is blamed for being the perpetrator by the March 8 bloc partners, Shia Amal Movement and Hezbollah, while he has the support of the Sunni Mustaqbal Movement comprising the March 14 bloc and the Lebanese Forces. He has not won support of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.

Anadolu Agency has compiled the highs and lows of Geagea's political and military career.

Student participating in civil war

Geagea was born in October 1952 in Beirut. His father was an officer in the Lebanese army.

His education in the Faculty of Medicine at the American University of Beirut -- on a scholarship provided by the foundation of renowned Lebanese writer Kahlil Gibran -- came to an abrupt halt due to the civil war that erupted in 1975.

Despite never completing his medical education, his nickname in Lebanon has remained Hakim -- Arabic for doctor.

During the civil war, Geagea joined in the ranks of the Kataeb Party against the Palestinian groups in the civil war and he was actively involved in clashes since 1976.

His name was mentioned in the removal or purge of many Christians opposing his party. in 1978, the militants under his command were involved in the "Ehden Massacre" in which former Lebanese President Suleiman Frangieh's son, wife and three-year-old daughter were killed.

Geagea used the Kattara village in northern Beirut as headquarters until 1983. He was then appointed as the commander of the Christian Lebanese Forces.

According to the open sources, he strengthened his position within the party by removing those reportedly opposing him or in contact with the Assad regime.

As of 1986, Geagea succeeded in remaining as the leader of the Lebanese Forces.

Appointment as minister twice after civil war

Following the Taif agreement signed in 1989 to put an end to the destructive civil war that went on for about 15 years, Geagea and the Lebanese Forces under his leadership surrendered their weapons to the army.

Although he was appointed as the state minister in the first Cabinet established on Jan. 24, 1990, Geagea later refused the post, saying the Cabinet was under the control of the Syrian regime.

Geagea was appointed as minister once again on May 16, 1992, however, he once again turned down the post citing the overt Syrian regime interference in the country's internal affairs and its influence over the government.

Imprisoned for 11 years for opposition to Assad regime

Geageawas vocal against the Syrian occupation in Lebanon and reacted strongly to the armed groups allied with Syria and Iran as they did not hand over their weapons to the army. Following the civil war, he was among the parties clearly taking a stance against the Assad regime and militias under its influence.

He later called on Syria to withdraw from Beqaa Valley while urging parties to comply with the Taif Agreement.

It was not long after that he faced some accusations. It was alleged that he took part in a bombing that targeted a church in northern Beirut on Feb. 27, 1994.

In addition to the church attack, he was also accused of assassination attempts on four leaders, including former Prime Minister Rashid Karami

Geagea, for his part, rejected all accusations and said the Syrian regime conspired against him. He was imprisoned on April 21, 1994.

Release in 2005 via Cedar Revolution

The Sunni prime minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri, was killed in a car bombing in February 2005 and an "independence uprising" broke out in the country to end the 30-year-long Syrian occupation.

Finding itself in a difficult position, the Syrian regime was forced to withdraw its troops that amounted to some 14,000 as of April 27, 2005.

The first government formed in this period, labelled as "Cedar Revolution" in modern Lebanese history, issued amnesty on July 18, 2005, and Geagea was released after 11 years and three months behind the bars.

Important partner of Anti-Syria March 14 bloc

Once the Syrian occupation was over, the Lebanese Forces Party led by Geagea returned to active politics.

Speaking in northern Beirut in 2008, a year ahead of the elections, he apologized before the public for events that happened amid the civil war.

In the 2009 elections, his party could send eight lawmakers to the parliament composed of 128 seats.

As for the elections of 2018, the Lebanese Forces won 15 seats in Parliament and it stands as an important figure of the anti-Syria March 14 bloc.

Staunch stance against Hezbollah, Assad regime

Geagea stands as one of the politicians openly criticizing Hezbollah and its ally Assad regime and says Lebanon will not have a bright future unless Hezbollah was disarmed.

In an interview with Al Araby in 2019, Geagea said Lebanon would not prosper unless Hezbollah acted in line with the Constitution just like the other parties, adding Hezbollah should hand over its weapons to the army or security forces.

He further noted that they could not agree on a cease-fire with Hezbollah but they were not clashing. Geagea also noted that he was the only leader tried over the civil war and his fight would continue to the day the Assad regime was brought down.

*Writing by Ali Murat Alhas


Link: https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/lebanons-christian-leader-geagea-in-crosshairs-with-hezbollah/2405636

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