Lebanon's Druze leader warns Hezbollah of possible war

Other News Materials 10 February 2008 16:13 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Druze leader Walid Jumblat on Sunday warned the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah that the anti-Syrian March 14 majority coalition was ready to go to war if the Iranian- and Syrian- backed group was behind the country's political crisis.

"If the others (the opposition) want war, then March 14 (the majority coalition) is ready. And if they want peace, March 14 is also ready," Jumblat said at a press conference.

"War does not scare us. We have no problem with war or rockets," Jumblat said referring to Hezbollah's possession of thousands of missiles.

Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said his group had increased its stock of rockets since the 2006 summer war with Israel ended, despite attempts to keep arms from being smuggled into southern Lebanon.

Last October, Nasrallah said his group had 33,000 rockets.

"We will seize the rockets from you because we don't fear martyrdom," Jumblat said, adding, "we cannot let the ruler of Hezbollah (Nasrallah) take the decisions of war on behalf of all the Lebanese."

He also warned of "armed groups planning to carry out terrorist attacks against the army."

Jumblat said the current dispute was between the "Hezbollah militia and the government, which is the only one that can take a decision to go to war or peace."

The anti-Syrian ruling majority has intensified its warnings this week after the opposition has threatened to take to the streets and destabilize the country.

"If they (the opposition) want a confrontation we are ready for it," majority leader Saad Hariri said Thursday as he was planning a February 14 mass rally to commemorate the 2005 assassination of his father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Lebanon has been without a head of state since November 23, after pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud stepped down at the end of his term with no elected successor.

A parliament session to elect Lebanon's president has been postponed from February 11 until February 26.

Parliamentary speaker and key opposition member Nabih Berri has not given a reason for the postponement.

The announcement came shortly after Arab League chief Amr Mussa left Lebanon Saturday after failing to negotiate a solution to end the crisis between the Western-backed ruling majority and the Hezbollah-led opposition.