Hezbollah has warned America and the UN against ‘being party to’ Lebanon’s ‘internal conflicts’.
Hezbollah TV Al-Manar last Saturday reported on statements by Hashim Safiy-al-Din, chairman of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, during a school graduation ceremony, in which he said that ‘the call by the head of the illegitimate government, Fu’ad al-Siniora, for a supposed cabinet session is an illusion’.
Safiy-al-Din is first shown warning the Lebanese people against ‘this new sedition that has started to show its face’, and saying that ‘no one must heed (US Ambassador in Lebanon) Feltman’s advice’.
He accused Feltman of encouraging certain political players to mobilise their masses under promises of US protection, and accused the United States of pursuing sedition in Lebanon by urging certain political parties to seek confrontation.
Al-Din added: ‘We in Lebanon do not have a constitutional government, what we have is a group claiming to be a government, a group usurping authority in violation of the constitution and law.’
He referred to what he described as an ‘illegitimate cabinet meeting’ called by Prime Minister Fu’ad Siniora to approve a UN plan to try suspects for the killing of former premier Rafiq Hariri at an international tribunal.
Al-din said: ‘All decisions taken by this supposed session are ink on water – they are worthless and meaningless now and always.’
Al-Din maintained that ‘this timing has to do with US efforts to exacerbate the situation in Lebanon’ out of its fears of any political settlement or productive and rational dialogue ‘because the Americans are now in a position where they cannot direct matters’.
He said: ‘In addition to the unconstitutionality of this government’s decisions, we feel that any country or party in this world that treats this government or its decisions as legitimate will in doing so force itself as a party in our internal disputes.
‘And I do not think that any party in the world, be it a country, the United Nations or any such entity, has any interest in being party to internal conflicts.
‘When they treat the decisions made by a certain group as legitimate and constitutional when they in fact are not, then they will have turned themselves into a party to this conflict.’
Meanwhile, Ammar al-Musawi, member of Hezbollah Central Council and former member of the Lebanese Chamber of Deputies, stressed that the opposition was not confused (by the assassination of Minister Pierre Gemayel) and that it still believes that priority should be given to the formation of a national unity government as the way out of the country’s crisis.
In an interview with Syria’s Tishrin newspaper, he said the opposition now has an additional argument in its favour; namely, that the ruling team cannot be left to temper with the destiny of the country after its negligence in protecting government ministers and its attempt to exploit Minister Gemayel’s assassination crime.
Al-Musawi said: ‘A national unity government must be formed to address all the files, beginning with the latest assassination crime and other things.’
Asked what the opposition will do if the government team rejects its demands, Al-Musawi said: ‘Let this team then bear the responsibility for its intransigent positions and its readiness for confrontation, as one of its leaders said.
‘We believe that this team stood aghast as the assassination did not give it a chance to take the country towards another agenda.
‘The opposition’s agenda is still more appropriate for the country.
‘If Fu’ad Siniora, the head of the unconstitutional government, believes, through his call on the ministers of Amal and Hezbollah to reverse their resignation decision, that the assassination has cornered the opposition, then he is wrong and he is belittling the crisis.’
On Siniora’s insistence on holding a meeting for the ‘unconstitutional government’ after Gemayel’s assassination to approve the draft on the international tribunal, Al-Musawi said: ‘Al-Siniora’s call is an attempt to mislead people.
‘We stress that the assassination, despite its ugliness, will not change our agenda or back us into a corner, especially since the illogical exploitation of the assassination crime by the government forces was so flagrant that many observers asked: “is this a funeral or a festival of political exploitation of what happened, as if they were waiting for the crime to be committed?” ’
He added: ‘The problem lies in the ruling team’s insistence on its programme.
‘It views the issue of the international tribunal as a contentious issue although everyone knows that we approved the tribunal and that we only wanted to discuss the details in an objective manner in a national unity government where each party presents its views.
‘This is how the tribunal’s plan should be approved; there should be no attempt to “smuggle” this plan.
‘We ask: Why is there all this rush, as if the tribunal will never be approved if it is not discussed today? We feel that the aim is to turn this social issue into an explosive issue.’
On the objective of the latest assassination and the parties that stand to gain from it, the Hezbollah Central Council member said: ‘It is obvious that all the positions and activities of the 14 February (anti-Syrian) forces after the assassination were aimed at helping the government team regain the initiative and the offensive against the opposition, especially against the Free Patriotic Movement under General Michel Awn.
‘Also, the government team’s blatant negligence in protecting its ministers, especially after learning that there was a plan to assassinate ministers, places this team in the circle of suspicion.
‘The government team is mainly responsible for what happened.
‘We are still awaiting answers as to who committed the crime, and the time given to the government to give these answers is limited because the crime was committed in an ordinary manner and it is easy to investigate it and arrive at quick results if the government team has the decision.
‘But if they want to be sluggish, then this proves the need for and the importance of the opposition continuing its activity to change this government, which is no longer constitutionally legitimate.
‘The assassination gives the opposition an additional reason to change the government team because this team wants to take advantage of things and it does not know any meaning for responsibility although it is in the position of responsibility.’
On the US interest in the assassination, Al-Musawi said: ‘The first thing we can note here is that the crime facilitated the approval of the international tribunal’s plan at the Security Council.
‘The Council members were discussing the legality and constitutionality of the tribunal from the Lebanese perspective.
‘When the news of the assassination came, the discussion was settled and no one objected.
‘This shows how the assassination was used. With the 14 February team retreating, the United States might not hesitate to lead things towards domestic strife and revenge to save what it could save from its influence in Lebanon.’
Asked about the risks of domestic sedition in light of the breach of security by elements from the Lebanese Forces party after the assassination, Al-Musawi said: ‘Let the government shoulder its responsibility and prevent its lackey and stooges from encroaching upon others, such as the attacks on the offices of the Free Patriotic Movement and the insults to General Awn, former Prime Minister Dr Salim al-Huss, and His Eminence Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah.
‘Let this government curb its followers and then things will be fine.
‘But when the government sends its people to do these things, it bears additional responsibility.
‘We know that Samir Ja’ja and Walid Junblatt are working to create tension in order to maintain their gains in power.
‘But we realise that we are able to prevent sedition and explosion.
‘We are going ahead with our programme to bring down the government while being eager to evade any form of tension.’