Nasrallah Calls For National Unity Government In Lebanon

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HEZBOLLAH Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has criticised the visit of British Premier Tony Blair to Lebanon in a recorded interview broadcast by Al Jazeera TV on 12 September.

He also discussed the political make-up and future of Lebanon, strongly criticising the performance of the government and calling for a national unity government.

Nasrallah said of the ‘future lebanon’, ‘We are not seeking anything new.’

He added: ‘But since this tug-of-war has been going on in Lebanon, we subscribed to the Al-Ta’if Accord even though we had reservations over it.

‘It has been regarded as the possible internal national settlement in the aftermath of the war that was going on in Lebanon to which we, as Hezbollah, were not a party, God be praised for this

‘We were not a party to any internal or civil war in Lebanon.’

He continued: ‘At the end of the day, this accord spelt out the identity. The issue of Lebanon’s identity, which had always been a topic for debate, was settled, and became part of the constitution.

‘This matter concerns Lebanon’s location and structure. It also created a mechanism for political reform. However, this mechanism was deactivated.

‘I say: We might not need a new accord or a new formula. Meanwhile, some are saying that we seek to stage a coup. This is nonsense.’

Nasrallah added: ‘We want the Al-Ta’if Accord to give us a strong, just, fair, and reassuring state.’ He continued that the ‘14th February Forces’, referring to the leading Lebanese anti-Syrian political alliance, raised a hue and cry when Hezbollah called for creating a national unity government in Lebanon, which is provided for in the Al-Ta’if Accord.

Nasrallah argued that Lebanon, which is emerging from war and facing huge challenges, including the handling of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and the reconstruction challenge, needs a national unity government.

He contends that the current Lebanese government does not enjoy the necessary ‘popularity’ on the street.

Nasrallah says that the Lebanese government does not want the Free Patriotic Movement, headed by Michel Awn, to be part of the government. He added that the majority in the Lebanese government does not want its opponents to be one third of the government, given the fact that government decisions on basic issues are passed with a two-thirds majority plus one.

Nasrallah said that the 14 February Forces do not represent half the country’s population, but they seek to stay in power and monopolise it. He added that this might have something to do with certain political commitments or promises the government has made, or with some economic commitments it has made.

Nasrallah pledged: ‘We do not want to force anything. We are not saying that we seek power. We have never done that.’

Nasrallah goes on to say: ‘This Hezbollah is saying: I do not want anything; I do not want anything for myself. I am neither demanding amendments to the Al-Ta’if Accord, nor demanding amendments to the constitution, nor seeking a quota or anything at all; I am not seeking anything.’

He noted that Lebanese affairs cannot be appropriately handled through a monopolistic exercise of power by a single team.

Nasrallah was asked about a recent statement, which Bin-Jiddu describes as ‘harsh’.

In response to the statement issued by the 14 March Forces, Nasrallah said that ‘from day one of the war, 12 July, a large section of these forces and figures, and their media outlets, did not deal with the issue as a war against Lebanon and ignored that there was a very difficult situation’.

He said that some people inside Lebanon were stabbing Hezbollah in the back while it was confronting Israel.

He added that despite all this ‘stabbing’, Hezbollah exercised a large degree of self-restraint on the domestic front.

Nasrallah criticises those who claimed that Hezbollah staged the wear to obstruct the international tribunal or to help Iran in its nuclear negotiations.

He says that these people think that Hezbollah was weakened by the war. He describes them as ‘stupid’ because, he says, even Israel is saying that ‘Hezbollah is still keeping the larger part of its military strength’.

He says that if Hezbollah is an Iranian ‘tool’ then these forces are a ‘US tool’.

Asked about the recent statement issued by the Council of Maronite Bishops, which spoke of a feeling of Christian marginalisation, he says that Hezbollah chose not to respond to it because it did not want to give anyone the reason to accuse Hezbollah of sectarianism.

He notes that some other forces, including Christians, Sunnis and Druze responded to the appeal. He said: ‘We disagree with the Maronite bishops in some of what they said, and we have our own assessment of it.

‘However, we have made a decision not to respond because some members of the 14 February Forces would come out and say that Hezbollah is insulting the patriarch and the bishops, or that Hezbollah will soon declare war against the Christians and their sacred things.’

He said that the doors for dialogue between Hezbollah and the Maronite Church are open.

Nasrallah criticised the visit by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to Lebanon. He said that Tony Blair allowed US planes to use British airfields to transport ‘smart rockets and bombs to Israel to kill our women and children and destroy our infrastructure’. He said that Blair is an ‘accomplice in the killing’.

He also criticised Prime Minister Fu’ad al Siniora for receiving Blair, saying that they did not show any respect to the feelings of the families of the victims. He added: ‘The first mistake committed by our prime minister and the political forces supporting him was that they acted unethically and inhumanely regarding the feelings of the people who were killed, wounded, damaged and displaced. They never took their feelings into consideration. This is regrettable.’

Referring to Blair’s offer to give aid to Lebanon, Nasrallah added: ‘He said in his news conference that he will give 40 million pounds. How silly?

‘We are a small party in Lebanon and we have already paid more than that. You are a partner in the destruction of our country and in murdering us.

‘If you only pay the blood money for those who were killed, the 40 million pounds would not be enough.’

Asked how Hezbollah would deal with the government in the future and whether it will stay in the government, Nasrallah says that Hezbollah plans to review the situation and that ‘my brothers and I have not yet decided either way, and have not decided a definite path’.

Asked about developments in the negotiations with Israel over a prisoners’ exchange, he said that the only thing that was decided so far is ‘the channel of negotiations’ which, he says, was the United Nations. He said that negotiations have not started yet, and that only the ‘principle of negotiations and the channel of negotiations have been decided. The other things will follow, God willing.’