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Hezbollah threatens regional security: Lebanese Sunni cleric

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The Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah “has become a dangerous militia, threatening the region’s security as well as civil peace,” Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir told Al Arabiya TV, in comments to be broadcast Friday on the weekly program “Point of Order.”

Acting as “Iran’s party,” Hezbollah “assaults all the Lebanese, even free-thinking Shiites,” added Assir, who is the imam of Belal bin Rabah mosque in Sidon, southern Lebanon.

Many politicians, including Hezbollah, deal with Sunnis as if they are a “defeated sect in Lebanon,” by appointing and removing the Sunni prime minister at will, said the cleric.

He described “Iranian hegemony on all Lebanese” as more dangerous than the Israeli occupation.

However, he said he does not support the Israelis or favor an attack by them against Iran, and is not calling for the disarming of a resistance.

“We want a defense strategy. Hezbollah was the party of the resistance, but it changed its principles when it used its weapons internally in Lebanon and in Syria,” said Assir.

The door is open to dialogue with Hezbollah, he added, lamenting that “arms control political life in Lebanon.”

Assir accused Sunni politicians of using extremism as a scarecrow to frighten others and present themselves as a moderate substitute.

“I’m with empowering the legal government and giving it full control over weapons, along with a defense strategy,” he said.

“I want to live in peace with all other religious sects. We don’t have any negative position towards any sect. Our problem is only with the Iranian project.”