Having failed to take advantage of the crisis to hand over Lebanon to the Hariri-Miqati-Siniora clique, main responsible for the decay of Lebanon since 15 years, as well as to the diktats of the IMF, Macron crossed all the red lines, unable to understand that France no longer runs the show in the Middle East. Hezbollah, for its part, has firmly denounced his conduct while respecting the rules of diplomacy, as a mature actor who knows its political and military power and has nothing to prove. As for French mainstream newspapers like Le Monde, as the sycophant journalists they are, they engage in gross falsifications to support the official narrative, taking advantage of their virtual monopoly on information.

By Resistance News

Read Nasrallah’s response in full below.

On September 26, Lebanese Prime Minister Mustapha Adib announced his resignation, having been unable to form a new government by the deadline. He was appointed on August 31, in the wake of the French initiative aimed at forming a government within 15 days. The previous government led by Hassan Diab resigned days after the Beirut port explosion on August 4, which killed some 200 people and left thousands homeless.

The Western media have blamed the Hezbollah-Amal tandem for this failure, accusing them of having demanded that the Ministry of Finance be devolved to a Shiite, allegedly violating the requirement of independence and neutrality, or even, according to France’s main newspaper Le Monde,  trampling upon customs and the Lebanese Constitution:

But [Nasrallah] did not explain the Shiite duo’s stubbornness in [wanting] to control the financial portfolio, contrary to the Constitution and customary rules.

In a press conference on Sunday, September 27 that lasted nearly an hour, held in linkup between Paris and Beirut, Macron strongly criticized the Lebanese political class in general and Hezbollah in particular, using reproaches and epithets light-years away from traditional diplomatic language (is this why the Élysée does not provide transcripts of presidential speeches?). Macron notably denounced

[…] a political class subjected to the deadly game of corruption and terror. […] The leaders of the Lebanese institutions did not wish, clearly, resolutely, explicitly, did not wish to respect the commitment made to France and to the international community. […] The Lebanese authorities and political forces have chosen to privilege their partisan and individual interests to the detriment of the general interest of the country. […] They made the choice to hand over Lebanon to the game of foreign powers, to condemn it to chaos instead of allowing it to benefit from the international aid which the Lebanese people need. […]

Lebanese politicians have made it impossible, by their dark maneuvers, to form a mission government capable of carrying out the reforms. Some first preferred to consolidate the unity of their camp rather than that of the Lebanese as a whole by negotiating among themselves to better trap others, by reintroducing a sectarian criterion that was not agreed by all for the appointment of ministers, as if competence was related to faith. The others believed they could impose the choices of their party and of Hezbollah in the formation of the government, in total contradiction with the needs of Lebanon and with the commitments explicitly taken withme on September 1. They did not want to make any concessions, until the end. Hezbollah cannot simultaneously be an army at war with Israel, a militia unleashed against civilians in Syria and a respectable party in Lebanon. He must not think he is stronger than he is and it is up to him to show that he respects the Lebanese as a whole. In recent days he has clearly shown the opposite. […]

No one has lived up to the commitments made on September 1. All of the (Lebanese ruling class) bet on the worst with the sole aim of saving themselves, of saving the interests of their family, of their clan. They won’t. To all of them I say today that none of them can win against the others. I therefore decide to take good note of this collective betrayal and of the refusal of Lebanese officials to commit in good faith to the contract that France offered them on September 1. They bear full responsibility. It will be heavy. They will have to answer for it before the Lebanese people. […]

I assert very clearly this evening my condemnation of all political leaders. […]

[The Lebanese leaders] are afraid of Hezbollah, they are afraid of war. […]

The question really is in the hands of President [of the Parliament Nabih] Berri and Hezbollah: do you want the politics of the worst today, or do you want to re-engage the Shiite camp in the camp of democracy and Lebanon’s interest? You cannot claim to be a political force in a democratic country by terrorizing with arms and you cannot be around the table durably if you do not keep your commitments around the table. […]

I am ashamed. I am ashamed for your leaders. […]

You have a system of terror that has taken hold and that Hezbollah has imposed. […]

Macron therefore accused the entire Lebanese political class, all officials and all institutions, without exception, in extremely serious terms (traitors, perjurers, corrupt, terrorists, profiteers, clans, despising the people, untrustworthy, etc.), while absolving France of all responsibility, of any breach: “Where are the responsibilities? They are not those of France.” And clearly, according to him, the greatest part of the responsibility for this failure would fall on Hezbollah, characterized as “militia, terrorist group and political force”, and threatened with sanctions or even of war if it does not come to a better frame of mind:

Sanctions don’t seem like the right instrument at this stage, [but] I haven’t ruled them out at some point. […] There are two lines, there are not three: there is a line which, I believe, is still the one followed by the international community, which is to get behind our initiative and the (French) roadmap. There is another line which may seem attractive and which has been taken by some, which is what I would call the worst-case policy, which is to say basically, we must now declare war on Hezbollah, and therefore Lebanon must collapse with Hezbollah.

So many bellicose declarations which did not prevent the virtuoso of 49-3 [clause of the French Constitution allowing the government to compel the majority if reluctant to adopt a text without a vote, and end any obstruction from the opposition] and torturer of the Yellow Vests from concluding by emphasizing his humble and prudent attitude (“I have a lot of humility”) and his respect for the sovereignty of the peoples (“The line which is mine everywhere [is] that of respecting the sovereignty of peoples”). One can only imagine what the gist of his speech would have been without these valuable qualities.

In a speech of September 29 that lasted nearly an hour and a half, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, responded at length to what can only be characterized as a blatant attack by the French President, trampling on the proprieties and on the sovereignty of Lebanon, to the point that even the pro-NATO Le Monde characterized Macron’s intervention as an “incendiary speech”, a “cannon blast” by a “professor scolding a class of dunces, who cannot open their mouth in front of him”. But we should not rely on the mainstream media to know the content of the speech of the Secretary General of Hezbollah. Here is a list of the approximations, omissions and falsifications of Le Monde in its account of Nasrallah’s intervention, reviewed and corrected by the statements of the chief interested party.

An agreement on the content, but the style is to be reviewed, according to the head of the Lebanese Hezbollah”. Thus begins the brief, free-access article in Le Monde devoted to this speech. Yet Nasrallah made it clear that he denounced both the style and content of the French attitude, and especially developed his criticism of the substance, which occupied almost all of his speech. If he remarked that “We know the French as well educated people, diplomats, who use a (tempered) language even if the content may be vehement, trying to wrap it with conciliatory words. I don’t understand what happened to them on Sunday night.”, he stated unequivocally that he was not only denouncing “the style”, but that “the procedures, the format and the content” of Paris’ approach must be “thoroughly reviewed”: “I call on (France) to (fully) reconsider things at the level of its conduct, actions, understanding, analysis, conclusions, and even management and language used.

In essence, what did the French initiative plan? According to Le Monde,

Lebanese political parties, including Hezbollah, had pledged to Mr. Macron, who came to Beirut in early September, to form a cabinet of “competent” and “independent” ministers from the political swamp within two weeks, condition for the release of international aid essential to the recovery of the country in crisis.

Nasrallah confirms this point, adding a crucial question:

All you talked about was forming a mission government with competent, independent ministers. Very well. But these independent ministers, who should name them? Who was to name them? It was not mentioned in the (French) initiative. No one agreed on how to appoint these ministers.

The very appointment of the Prime Minister responsible for forming the government was not negotiated. In fact, Mustapha Adib was appointed by a Club made up arbitrarily of four political opponents of Hezbollah, the former Prime Ministers Fouad Siniora, Najib Miqati, Tammam Salam and Saad Hariri, leaders, members or affiliated to the pro-Western 14-March alliance. Nasrallah reports it in detail:

At this time, a Club was formed, the Club of 4 (former) Prime Ministers. It is not fair to speak absolutely of a “Former Prime Ministers’ Club”, because the former Prime Minister (Salim) el-Hoss is still alive, and was not a member. Prime Minister Hassan Diab is also a former Prime Minister today (and was not present in this Club), so that makes two former Prime Ministers (who were excluded from this committee). This Club started to meet, as they declared, on several occasions, [and] they came up with three names, (clearly) favoring Professor Mustapha Adib. All the clues showed that they had appointed Professor Mustapha Adib as Prime Minister.

That night, as everyone was in a hurry and we had a 15-day deadline (to form the government), we inquired about the identity of this man, his liabilities and the data concerning him (which was) reasonable and positive, and in order to make things easier, we have not placed any conditions (on his appointment as Prime Minister), we have not asked for an encounter with him, we have not made any prior agreement with him. Some people are now saying that it was a mistake from our side, but whether (this decision) was right or wrong is not the point. Either way, our endorsement clearly expresses our desire to make things easier. We wanted to facilitate (the success of this French initiative). Because in any government, the most important figure is that of the head of government! But we accepted this suggestion (of the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”) on the assumption that this government would be formed on the basis of the broadest representation, and the broadest support (of all political forces), so that it would be able to move forward and get things done in such difficult circumstances.

If Nasrallah stressed the notable absence of Hassan Diab and Salim el-Hoss, two former Prime Ministers of Lebanon still alive, in the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club” who chose the new Head of government, it is because their presence would have allowed for a better representation of the balance of political forces in Lebanon. Indeed, these 2 independent figures did not belong to the March 14 alliance, and were closer to Hezbollah and its allies of the March 8 alliance, which is the country’s leading political force, holding the majority in the Parliament since the 2018 elections. In fact, it is the parliamentary minority of March 14, notoriously hostile to Hezbollah, that chose the Prime Minister, who must be Sunni according to the Constitution but can belong to any political party. But from a conciliatory perspective, and with the understanding that the government must be formed in a concerted and representative manner, Hezbollah did not object:

If we have to talk about who obstructed and who facilitated (the French initiative), I would remind you that we accepted the appointment of Mustapha Adib without prior agreement, without conditions or discussions. We have presumed good intentions (from everyone). But it was in the perspective of moving towards an agreement and facilitating (the joint formation of the government).

However, contrary to expectations, there was no consultation for the formation of the government thereafter, neither with the President of the Republic, nor with the political forces represented in Parliament, as Nasrallah points out:

After the appointment of Mr. Mustapha Adib, […] there was no discussion, no interview, no debate, no solicitation of each other’s opinions (in order to form the government). To the point that subsequently, the President of the Republic was forced to summon heads or representatives of parliamentary groups to discuss it with them. Because (the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”) considered that (any consultation) was useless. And I’ll explain why. Even with the President of the Republic, who in reality does not represent a (particular) political force, but is, according to the Constitution, a partner in the formation of the government, his role not being limited only to accepting or rejecting (such or such government). He had the right, from the start, to discuss with the Head of Government the distribution of portfolios, the names of ministers, the nature of the government, etc. But it hasn’t happened once. Not even once. It’s like it was just a matter of forming a government and submitting it to President Aoun for approval or rejection, with no (possible discussion or) alternative route.

If he signs (his approval for such a government), it will mean a de facto government which will not have been discussed with him at all, neither at the level of its nature, nor at the level of the distribution of portfolios, nor at the level of the names of ministers, which amounts to remove the main remaining prerogative devolved to the President of the Republic after the Taif agreement, namely his participation in the formation of the government. And France must be aware of its (serious) mistake —I am now starting my denunciation. France was covering a political operation which would have led to the removal of the main remaining prerogative of the President of the Lebanese Republic. And if President Aoun refused to sign, the country would be turned upside down, the media & political opponents were ready (to go wild), as was French pressure, accusing President Aoun of obstruction (and sabotage). Of course, I don’t know if there were any negotiations with the Progressive Party or the Lebanese Forces (which are part of the March 14 minority alliance), but I know that there have been no negotiations with the political components who are our friends & allies, and with whom we hold the majority in Parliament.

Has Hezbollah gone against “the Constitution and customary rules” by demanding a say in the formation of government and the appointment of Shiite ministers, as Le Monde claims? Or was it his opponents who decided to ignore both the Constitution and customary rules and use the alleged advantage conferred on them by the initiative of their French godfather? The Lebanese Constitution, mentioned without further details by Le Monde, stipulates that

The President of the Republic shall designate the Prime Minister in consultation with the President of the Chamber of Deputies based on binding parliamentary consultations, the content of which he shall formally disclose to the latter. [Art. 53]

The Prime Minister is the Head of Government […]. He shall conduct the parliamentary consultations for forming the government. He shall sign, with the President of the Republic, the Decree of its formation. [Art. 64]

The sectarian groups shall be represented in a just and equitable manner in the formation of the Cabinet. [Art. 95]

The constitutional requirement to involve both the President of the Republic and the Parliament in the appointment of the Prime Minister and the formation of the government, flouted by the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”, is manifest; and in a country where the President is elected by Parliament, it is eminently more democratic to let the Parliament, elected by direct universal suffrage (albeit on a confessional basis), form the government, than to leave it entirely to the prerogative of an individual appointed by 4 personalities belonging to the same faith and to the same political force, in addition to being a minority, even if it enjoys the favors of France. Moreover, in a restricted-access article, Le Monde half-heartedly acknowledges the preponderant influence of the pro-Western alliance of March 14 in the formation of the Adib government:

“We were being asked to hand over the country to the Club of former Prime Ministers,”Nasrallah added, referring to the alliance Saad Hariri forged with three of his predecessors to closely direct Mustapha Adib. But he did not explain the stubbornness of the Shiite duo in controlling the financial portfolio, contrary to the Constitution and customary rules.

Without specifying the fact that a single political group, the March 14 alliance, had appointed the Prime Minister, Le Monde presents the requirement of Hezbollah’s participation as contrary to customs and to the Constitution, while it is quite the opposite : it was a democratic and constitutional requirement, by virtue of which the Parliament, which directly represents the people, unlike the Prime Minister and the President who represent them indirectly, must participate in the formation of the government. Hezbollah is not claiming, as Macron absurdly claims, that “competence [is] linked to confession”, nor is he rejecting, as Le Monde maintains, “the idea of ​​a collective of experts chosen on the basis of their skills”. Given the sectarian nature of the voting system in Lebanon, it is obvious that the democratic requirement must involve the representatives of each political force elected to Parliament in the choice of the holder of the ministerial portfolios which will be attributed to them, on both a political and religious basis. Far from a derogation to the “customary rule”, this is how ALL previous governments have been formed, without exception, since 2005: after an agreement of the political forces on the name of the Prime Minister, the nature of the government and the distribution of portfolios were negotiated between them, and each parliamentary group appointed its ministers, accepted without discussion by the Head of government. The only innovation in this scheme was that of Hassan Diab in 2019, when he allowed himself to negotiate the names of the proposed ministers until a personality accepted by both parties was proposed.

If Hezbollah is indeed the only party to have opposed the plan put forward by the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”, it is quite simply because it is the only party which has been consulted by Saad Hariri, acting as the representative of both Prime Minister Mustapha Adib and the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”. But the law, use and common sense made it necessary for Hariri & Adib to meet with all the forces represented in Parliament, though  they declined to. Contrary to what Le Monde claims, it was not simply a question of the Minister of Finance and Hezbollah, and far from remaining silent on this subject, Nasrallah justified at length the requirement to see each politico-confessional force appoint its own minister:

Certainly there were negotiations with us, that is true. Because naturally, for one reason or another, the force represented by Hezbollah and Amal could not be ignored [the Shiites are the main community in Lebanon, and the first political force, all their deputies being part of the Amal- Hezbollah alliance].

The first point of negotiation was that [Hariri demanded that] the government be formed of 14 ministers. The second point was the rotation of ministerial portfolios, implying that we abandon the Ministry of Finance. The third point is that all the ministers had to be appointed by the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club” (who are Sunnis) for all faiths: Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Druze, they wanted to appoint all the ministers. Fourth, they alone were to decide on the distribution of ministerial portfolios among the various faiths. When we asked them how they were going to proceed, they did not answer, everything was left to their whim. In short, they were deciding everything, and we and the other forces in the country just had to take good note (of their unilateral decision). […]

Why do you want to impose new uses, suppress (the role of) parliamentary groups and the parliamentary majority, suppress the President of the Republic and suppress political forces, and monopolize the formation of the government in the interest of a single party, which represents only a part of the current parliamentary minority, although we respect it and respect its position? But this is a whole new way of doing things, which contradicts the traditions, the Constitution and the democracy that Mr. Macron demands of us! […]

If it had been agreed that political parties do not participate in their appointment, Saad Hariri is the leader of a party (and therefore should not have participated). Just as Najib Miqati heads a party, and Fouad Siniora is a member of a party. Why should one political color have the right to appoint all ministers, while all other forces do not have this right? […]

In this project, the most important thing was to see whether the Hezbollah-Amal duo accepted the plan or not. I am saying it frankly. That’s why they didn’t negotiate, discuss and argue with anyone else. They thought that if Hezbollah and Amal walked along, no one would be able to stop this project, because even if President Aoun wanted to exercise his constitutional prerogatives, he would find himself isolated, confronted and put under pressure.

The French initiative, which presented itself as a desire to overcome political and confessional divisions, therefore quickly turned out as a juggernaut aiming to erase all the components of Lebanese political life, except one, that of the pro-Western and pro-French March 14 led by Saad Hariri, who wanted to monopolize the process of forming the government and therefore monopolize the political decision. This was obviously unacceptable to the March 8 parliamentary majority, as Nasrallah explained:

What has been proposed during the last month  is not a government to save Lebanon. What was proposed by the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club” is that in the end, all the parliamentary groups of the country, all the Lebanese political forces, the President of the Parliament and the President of the Republic hand over the country to them, unconditionally, without discussion, without debate, and without asking any questions. What will be the nature of the government, who will be in it, how will the ministries be distributed, etc., none of these points was to be debated, and it was necessary to rely blindly on the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”and accept the government that they were preparing to form (unilaterally), otherwise the sanctions would fall, as would the French pressures which would make us bear the responsibility in the eyes of the Lebanese people and the international community, presenting us as saboteurs. This is the project that has been put forward for one month. […]

If we have rejected this form of government, it is not because we would or would not want to be in the government. The fundamental question we are asking ourselves is that of the interests of Lebanon, of the Lebanese people, the recovery of the country… Because we can go from bad to better, and from bad to worse. The question is, in which direction are we going? To whom were we about to hand over the ark of our salvation? Who would have been at the helm of the saving ship? These 4 Prime Ministers were Prime Ministers from 2005 until just a few months ago. Isn’t it true? They have been Heads of government for 15 years. They are not the only ones responsible for the current situation, of course. We all bear some responsibility. But it is they who bear the greatest burden of responsibility. For they were the Heads of government, and had ministers & officials in (all) (successive) governments. I pin responsibility on them, and I ask them to take responsibility and not to run away from (it). We must help each other, cooperate, work hand in hand. But to believe that we can save Lebanon by handing over the country to the political force that bears the greatest responsibility for the situation we have arrived at for 15 years is completely illogical and even absurd.

The French initiative was indeed planning to put old wine in new wineskins, closely “directed” by the old wineskins which would simply remain behind the scenes but continue to pull the strings: it is the complete opposite of the revival touted by the marketing of the French roadmap, and of Macron’s promises that “no one will give money as long as those who led this villainous system for decades are there and as long as the system will be held by the same people with the same rules”. It is precisely the status quo and the impunity of the “profiteers” that Paris wanted to maintain.

Faced with the irreconcilability of the two parties, Hariri refusing to negotiate, and Hezbollah understandably refusing to give in to this attempted hold-up which tried to instrumentalize the emotion aroused by the national disaster of the explosion of the port of Beirut, France then intervened, asking Hezbollah why it was obstructing government formation and putting pressure on it. Here is Hezbollah’s response, as reported by Nasrallah:

We replied: “O our dear ones, o our friends, did the French initiative provide for a government of 14 ministers?” They said no. “Did the French initiative provide for a Club made up of 4 former Prime Ministers to appoint all the ministers of the government for all faiths?” They said no. “Did the French initiative provide that they would distribute the portfolios between faiths on their own?” They said no. “Did the French initiative provide for the rotation of portfolios, and that the Ministry of Finance would be removed from this faith in favor of another?” They said no, and said they just wanted a smaller government —14, 12, 10, 18 or 20 ministers, and it was up to us to come to an agreement on their appointment. Great. So how are we obstructing the French initiative? Because the debate is now between us and France. They have spoken publicly, to the media, so I do the same. What I am saying is true. The roadmap of the French initiative is accessible to the public, O Lebanese people, and does not mention any of this. […]

In the end, France accepted our view that the Ministry of Finance should remain with the Shiites —I will make clear later the reason for the insistence on this issue and the importance of this point—, but asked that he be appointed by the Head of Government, that is to say by the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”. But we replied that we are not simply looking for the minister to be Shiite and from Shiite parents. We are committed to this minister being Shia because of the decisions he will have to make, and on which we must have a say (it is an issue of political allegiance, and not merely of faith). The Head of Government is capable of finding a Shiite official who is 100% loyal and sincere to him. This is not what we are looking for. We want each denomination to appoint its ministers, even if the Head of Government can refuse names 10, 20 or 30 times, until one can be found that works for all. But this idea was categorically rejected by the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”.

The negotiations were therefore only a vain masquerade, and Saad Hariri wanted, as in 2005 when he capitalized on the emotion aroused by the assassination of his father Rafik Hariri, to fully seize the power, by appointing so-called technocrats selected not so much for their competence, which must be determined collegially and not by co-option, but for their political allegiance. Scarlett Haddad sums it up in L’Orient le Jour, a French-speaking and pro-Western Lebanese daily:

Under the pretext of having chosen Mustapha Adib, the former Prime Ministers have arrogated themselves the right to dictate his attitude, when they should, like the others, have stayed aside. Moreover, in his three meetings with the two Shiite emissaries Ali Hassan Khalil and Hussein Khalil, Mustapha Adib repeated on several occasions that he was obliged to conform to the will of the four former Prime Ministers, since they had named him. In this regard, Amal and Hezbollah recall that they accepted his appointment (the former Prime Ministers had sent a list of three names, two of which were unacceptable for Amal and Hezbollah), but that does not mean that they accept to be totally marginalized in the formation of government. Ultimately, they could have agreed to be, if that was the case for all political parties. But they found out that they were excluded, even from the choice of the Shiite ministers, not to mention the Finance portfolio, while the former Prime Ministers themselves intervene in all the decisions of Mustapha Adib, and that set off their alarm bells. Moreover, this issue was raised during the meeting between Hezbollah’s head of external relations, Ammar Moussaoui, and the French ambassador, Bruno Foucher. But despite this metting, Adib had not changed his style. He did hold two meetings with the Shiite emissaries, but without clearly answering any of their questions. Amal and Hezbollah thought that a trap was set for them. They had the feeling of reliving the situation of 2005: under the shock of the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the Future Movement and the PSP then hastened to conclude with them the famous quadripartite agreement to wrest the parliamentary majority and then turn against them by excluding them from power. Thus, the two parties had the feeling that their opponents were once again seeking to take advantage of an immense tragedy to initially exclude them from executive power, before turning against them. […] And now? The circles close to the Shiite formations believe that it is still quite possible to save the French initiative. But this requires respect for political and community balances.

None of these essential facts is reflected in Le Monde’s report, which suggests that all political parties agreed to pull back in the best interests of Lebanon, while Hezbollah would have rejected any compromise and got tough, caring about nothing but the conservation of its weapons:

Tuesday evening, Hassan Nasrallah raised the one once again, stressing the need for his party to be part of the government, through partisans or not, in order to “protect the back of the resistance”.

This falsification is perhaps the most blatant of all of Le Monde’s lies, and aims to describe Hezbollah as a party from abroad which has nothing to do with the well-being of the Lebanese and only wishes to preserve its military arsenal, supposedly guarantor of its political strength. In fact, Nasrallah precisely said the opposite. In 2005, he explained, Hezbollah had indeed decided to join the government “to protect the back of the Resistance”. But today, he continued, the situation is very different, Hezbollah having nothing to fear for itself, and it is only for Lebanon that it is worried:

I want to explain why, quite frankly, it is impossible for us to be absent from the government. Quite frankly, we fear for what’s left of Lebanon, economically, financially, and in every way. We are afraid for Lebanon and for the Lebanese people. I have already said that we are not afraid for Hezbollah (which would survive and maintain its power even if Lebanon collapsed, because Iran will always be there), but for the country, for the people, for the future of this country. If a government had been formed (without us), how would we know that it wasn’t going to sign a blank check to the IMF and give in to all its demands without discussion? I’m not accusing anyone but it’s a possibility. I know each other’s beliefs (and the March 14 submission to the West). As a parliamentary group, are we going to give our confidence to a government knowing, or very strongly presuming, that it will blindly sign the IMF’s roadmap, without discussion? Whatever the conditions of the IMF, Lebanon would comply. Should we not be afraid that a government, using the pretext of our financial situation or any other pretext, sells national assets? It is already proposed in some projects to sell State property (massive privatization). Should liquidation of Lebanon’s assets be carried out on the pretext of the need to obtain money to pay off the debt, remedy the paralysis, etc., etc., etc.? Shouldn’t we be afraid of such a government, when, and I solemnly assert this to you, during previous governments, two-thirds or more of the ministers bitterly defended an increase in VAT? If the intended government had been formed by Mustapha Adib, the first decision he would have made was to increase VAT on everything. The tax policy would have hit the people, while we promised the Lebanese people that we would not allow it and would not accept it. Can our people endure an increase in VAT? Because of a proposed tax of a few cents on Whatsapp calls, people took to the streets on October 17 (2019). Shouldn’t we fear a government with which we do not know what will happen to the savings of the people in the banks? No our dear ones, we fear for our country, for our people, for national assets, for the savings of the inhabitants. We fear the IMF conditions and we fear to go from a bad situation to a much worse situation.

Though Western media often obscure this reality, Hezbollah is not merely a formidable anti-Zionist, anti-imperialist and sovereignist armed force close to Iran (while its Lebanese adversaries are mere tools of the Washington-Paris-Riyadh Axis) and a Shiite Islamist party representing the largest demographic community in Lebanon; it is also a progressive social force in the service of the most deprived, opposed to the ultraliberal doxa defended by the West and its godchildren of March 14. It is not to protect its weapons that Hezbollah wants to participate in the government, it is above all to protect the sovereignty of Lebanon and the purchasing power of the most humble Lebanese, who would be abused by the March 14 oligarchy ruled by billionaires like Hariri and Miqati.

In conclusion, Nasrallah denounced Macron’s attempt to put Lebanon under trusteeship, and the real attack against Lebanon’s national dignity that his speech constituted, calling on him to renounce interference, pressure and threats:

We welcomed President Macron as a friend of Lebanon, who loves and wants to help Lebanon, get it out of its crises, bring together divergent points of view: this is the way (genuine) friendship, benevolence, mediation, fraternity and love (are expressed). But in no case can there be for anyone, be it the French President or anyone else, the power to impose himself as guardian, governor, ruler, judge & executioner of Lebanon. To my knowledge, the Lebanese have never taken such a decision. […]

I would have liked President Macron to say that it was (only) Hezbollah that thwarted the initiative, no problem, and I wish he had spared the rest of the political forces. […] There is nothing more important than respect. There is nothing more important than the dignity of people. What was violated two days ago (during Macron’s intervention) was national dignity. […] Whoever stands up and accuses everyone without distinction —institutions, parties, political forces, etc.—, in truth this undermines the national dignity and it is unacceptable.

This (paternalist) conduct and this way of doing things will never succeed in Lebanon, whatever the identity of those who exercise them and of those who support them. Whether it is the United States, France, Europe, the international community, the Arab League, the planet or even the whole universe, the language of threats will never work with us. This will never work in Lebanon, and whoever you are, you are wasting your time (trying to intimidate us).

President Macron accused us of terrorizing people, but those who accuse us of intimidating are those who have exercised a policy of intimidation during the past month, against the Presidents (of the Republic, of the Council of Ministers and of the Parliament), parliamentary groups, and political parties & forces in order to impose such a government. The threats, the sanctions, the dangers (mentioned), the idea that we’d be heading for the worst (namely war against Hezbollah), etc. You saw the language (used by Macron). All of this is now public. But it won’t work.

Le Monde‘s approximations and falsifications aim both to denigrate Hezbollah, presented as an instrument of Iran indifferent to the fate of Lebanon and the Lebanese, while it is its best defender, and to perpetuate the myth of French influence in the Middle East by validating Macron’s approach, allegedly accepted even by his fiercest opponents despite some criticism about the style. These illusions may flatter Macron’s oversized ego, but encourage him to keep his doomed paternalistic and neo-colonialist posture. By perpetuating this ignorance, France is only moving further away from Lebanon and the Middle East in general, where its once dominant role is now largely eroded and will be nothing but a bad memory tomorrow.

***

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on September 29, 2020.

We translate in full the central part of the speech devoted to the failure of the French initiative and to Macron’s press conference, key passages of which we have quoted above.

In introduction and conclusion, Nasrallah briefly touched on the role of the United States in the resurgence of ISIS in Lebanon and elsewhere, the situation in southern Lebanon and the unprecedented disappearance of occupying forces along the entire length of the border since several months, driven awat by fear of an inevitable Hezbollah response, Netanyahu’s recent lies about stockpiles of missiles stored in urban areas of Beirut and the doomed Bahrain-Israel deal.

Source: https://video.moqawama.org/details.php?cid=1&linkid=2168

Translation: resistancenews.org

Transcript:

[…] Regarding the internal political situation, I will address the issue of the government, the formation of the new government, the French initiative, and the recent press conference of French President Macron. I want to bring this up first to explain to Lebanese public opinion what happened —of course, there are details that I will only cover briefly, and some truths that I will keep hidden for now, in order to leave the doors open, but I want to present a sufficient picture, I consider that it will be sufficient to understand what happened. And I also want to express our comments on President Macron’s press conference, and about where we are headed.

Regarding the government, after the explosion of the (Beirut) port on August 4, 2020, and the resignation of the government of Hassan Diab, as well as the visit of the French President to Lebanon, and the launch of the French initiative, there were two meetings at the Résidence des Pins (residence of the French Ambassador to Lebanon), in the presence of the French President and 8 parties, political forces or parliamentary groups, which became 9 during the second meeting. An initiative has been presented, the text of which is present and circulated in the media and on social networks, and anyone can refer to it, nothing being hidden about it. We have all said that we support the French initiative. The first step was the formation of a new government. I will get to that in detail in a moment. The first step in the first phase was to appoint the Prime Minister who would form a government. I will tell it as it happened, citing the names, because the Lebanese people have the right to know things clearly. Nothing is secret, and there are no secrets in Lebanon, but I will talk about the facts.

Who were we going to name as Prime Minister? We have agreed that the parliamentary groups will consult on this matter, no problem. We said we would have no problem with the Prime Minister being Saad Hariri, if he wanted to. If he wanted to nominate someone, we had to see who he was going to suggest, and discuss it among ourselves, and accept or not. These were the initial discussions. At this time, a Club was formed, which I will call the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”, because I will often talk about it, the Club of 4 (former) Prime Ministers (Fouad Siniora, Najib Miqati, Tammam Salam and Saad Hariri). It is not fair to speak absolutely of a “Former Prime Ministers’ Club”, because the former Prime Minister (Salim) el-Hoss is still alive, and was not a member. This Club was therefore made up of the last 4 Prime Ministers. Prime Minister Hassan Diab is also a former Prime Minister today (and was not present in this Club), so that makes two former Prime Ministers (who were excluded from this committee). This Club started to meet, as they declared, on several occasions, which is not a problem for us, on the contrary, because we want the greatest understanding between the different forces, movements and political parties of Lebanon, and these people have parliamentary groups and represent political forces. So they came up with three names, (clearly) favoring Professor Mustapha Adib, at least that’s what we understood. All the clues showed that they had appointed Professor Mustapha Adib as Prime Minister.

That night, as everyone was in a hurry and we had a 15-day deadline (to form the government), we inquired about the identity of this man, his liabilities and the data concerning him (which was) reasonable and positive, and in order to make things easier, we have not placed any conditions (on his appointment as Prime Minister), we have not asked for an encounter with him, we have not made any prior agreement with him. Some people are now saying that it was a mistake from our side, but whether (this decision) was right or wrong is not the point. Either way, our endorsement clearly expresses our desire to make things easier. We wanted to facilitate (the success of this French initiative). Because in any government, the most important figure is that of the head of government! In any government, the most important figure is the Prime Minister! But we accepted this suggestion (of the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”) on the assumption that this government would be formed on the basis of the broadest representation, and the broadest support (of all political forces), so that it would be able to move forward and get things done in such difficult circumstances. We therefore accepted this suggestion, very well, everyone was reassured, and the French President came for his second visit, and met everyone after the appointment of Prime Minister Mustapha Adib, inviting us to continue to carry out the French roadmap, reforms, etc.

After the appointment of Mr. Mustapha Adib, the protocol meetings with parliamentary groups (making the appointment official) were held, and it all ended. The Prime Minister has been asked to do so. He’s a respectable and respectful person, I don’t mean anything bad about him, but (the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”) told him to wait, and that someone was going to negotiate. Naturally, the negotiations had to take place with the parliamentary groups, because they are the ones who issue the vote of confidence, and it is not enough that they have (accepted the) appointment of the Prime Minister. There are parliamentary groups that did not vote for the appointment, but could vote confidence (in the government). But they haven’t spoken to anyone, with no political force, at least from what I know. There was no discussion, no interview, no debate, no solicitation of each other’s opinions (in order to form the government). To the point that subsequently, the President of the Republic was forced to summon heads or representatives of parliamentary groups to discuss it with them. Because (the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”) considered that (any consultation) was useless. And I’ll explain why. Even with the President of the Republic, who in reality does not represent a (particular) political force, but is, according to the Constitution, a partner in the formation of the government, his role not being limited only to accepting or rejecting (such or such government). He had the right, from the start, to discuss with the Head of Government the distribution of portfolios, the names of ministers, the nature of the government, etc. But it hasn’t happened once. Not even once. It’s like it was just a matter of forming a government and submitting it to President Aoun for approval or rejection, with no (possible discussion or) alternative route.

If he signs (his approval for such a government), it will mean a de facto government which will not have been discussed with him at all, neither at the level of its nature, nor at the level of the distribution of portfolios, nor at the level of the names of ministers, which amounts to remove the main remaining prerogative devolved to the President of the Republic after the Taif agreement, namely his participation in the formation of the government. And France must be aware of its (serious) mistake —I am now starting my denunciation. France was covering a political operation which would have led to the removal of the main remaining prerogative of the President of the Lebanese Republic. And if President Aoun refused to sign, the country would be turned upside down, the media & political opponents were ready (to go wild), as was French pressure, accusing President Aoun of obstruction (and sabotage). Of course, I don’t know if there were any negotiations with the Progressive Party or the Lebanese Forces (which are part of the March 14 minority alliance, opposed to Hezbollah), but I know that there have been no negotiations with the political components who are our friends & allies, and with whom we hold the majority in Parliament.

Certainly there were negotiations with us, that is true. Because naturally, for one reason or another, the force represented by Hezbollah and Amal could not be ignored [the Shiites are the main community in Lebanon, and the first political force, all their deputies being part of the Amal- Hezbollah alliance]. We therefore discussed with the representative of Mustapha Adib. The identity of the representative of Mustapha Adib or of the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club” posed no problem for us. But it turned out that the representative we spoke to was Saad Hariri (who represented both Adib and the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”).

During the discussions, the points that we understood about the government during the first days, and about which there was dissension between us and Hariri, were as follows. Of course, the negotiations were cordial and respectful.

The first point of negotiation was that [Hariri demanded that] the government be formed of 14 ministers. The second point was the rotation of ministerial portfolios, implying that we abandon the Ministry of Finance. The third point is that all the ministers had to be appointed by the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club” (who are Sunnis) for all faiths: Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Druze, they themselves wanted to appoint all the ministers. Fourth, they alone should decide on the distribution of ministerial portfolios among the various faiths. When we asked them how they were going to proceed, they did not answer, everything was left to their whim. In short, they were deciding everything, and we and the other forces in the country just had to take good note (of their unilateral decision): we had to take note that the government would have 14 ministers —of course that was the conclusion, but the discussion was calm and respectful—, we had to take note of the rotation of the portfolios, we had to take note of the distribution of the portfolios (between the different faiths) and we had to take note of the names of the ministers who would represent all the religious sects. That is all.

We have debated these points. Regarding the first point, we agreed that 30 ministers were too many, and even 24 ministers, but if we keep only 14 ministers, it is (so to speak) giving two ministries to each person. Even with a single ministry, it is already difficult to operate effectively and competently. This is one of the problems in our country: it is difficult to find competent ministers capable of leading their ministries, (and this problem would have been magnified). Why give two ministries to each minister? We could have agreed on 18 or 20 ministers, it was open to debate, but they insisted on 14 ministers, (refusing any concessions on this point) despite the fact that most of the political forces who were then consulted by the President of the Republic did not want 14 ministers, being in favor of the widest possible representation.

Likewise for the second point, we were opposed to portfolio rotation, and the issue of the Ministry of Finance is well known.

The third point is that of the appointment of ministers. The question is not only that of the Ministry of Finance. Even after establishing that such and such a ministry should be attributed to Christians, Sunnis, Shiites or Druze, they wanted to appoint the said ministers themselves, instead of the political forces or parliamentary groups that represent those faiths. Even leaving the parties aside, the parliamentary groups representing the confessions had to be involved, because they are the elected representatives of their communities: they are the elected representatives of the Lebanese people, and in particular of their faith. But (the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”) didn’t want to involve them in any way, just notify them (of their decision). Of course, this point was unacceptable to us, it was not negotiable. Not just for Shia ministers. That a single political force designates all ministers of all faiths is in our eyes a (great) danger for the country.

Let us take a step back and consider the Taif Accord, the constitutional prerogatives and traditions. Very good. From the Taif Agreement (1989) until 2005… It is not useful to refer to the way governments were formed before the Taif Agreement, because today there is the Taif Agreement. It is not useful to refer to the way in which the governments were formed from the Taif Agreement until 2005, because until 2005, we will be objected that this happened at the time of the Syrian tutelage and the Syrian administration. Very good. So let’s look at things from 2005 to this day: how were all the governments formed, in which you [March 14 Alliance] most often had the parliamentary majority, and were the main political force in the country, applying the Taif Agreement?

(Let’s look at things from) the first government formed after Syrian forces left the country, or during their departure, namely the government of Najib Miqati, to this day. There were always negotiations and agreement on the person of the Prime Minister, who then personally negotiated (with the political forces) to agree on the number of ministers and on the distribution of portfolios, then the ministers were appointed by deputies or parliamentary groups representing each faith, without even the Prime Minister negotiating the names proposed. The only deviation from this took place with the government of Hassan Diab, and we accepted it without problem, namely that the Prime Minister could reject a proposal from deputies or political parties and ask that another minister be suggested to him. We were open to this even before the government of Hassan Diab, and it is with him that we put it into practice. And we were and still are ready to do it this time around. In our view, this is a positive step which strengthens the prerogatives of the Head of Government. It doesn’t weaken him. This was the Prime Minister’s practice in force from 2005 to the present (for the formation of the government). When he came to an agreement with the parliamentary groups and political forces wishing to participate in the government, they would agree on the portfolios and their distribution, but each force appointed its own ministers, and the Prime Minister did not debate the names put forward to him. Today we say that the Prime Minister can debate and refuse the names that are suggested to him, and whoever is refused, we will put him aside and come up with other names. In truth, it is a reinforcement of the prerogatives of the Head of Government, different from all previous stages since the Taif Accord to this date. That is, anyone who wants to use sectarian language and claim that this weakens the status of the Prime Minister, in any case, it strengthens him more than ever! We agreed and considered it normal and logical.

But (this time, the way Ministers would be chosen) remained a point of dispute (between us and the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”).

Regarding the distribution of portfolios (between the different faiths), same thing.

Even with regard to the names put forward (for the post of minister), we were ready to negotiate several ideas that were put forward to us, such as the appointment of ministers who do not belong to any party, or who did not participate in previous governments, or that the Prime Minister can refuse 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 names of ministers who will be proposed to him. We said we didn’t have a problem with that. All of this made things easier and did not obstruct the process! But they remained inflexible in their desire to appoint all the ministers themselves.

They remained inflexible on these four points until the 15th day, without even having taken the trouble to discuss and debate them with the President of the Republic: we had to accept (without discussion) 14 ministers, the rotation of portfolios, the appointment by the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club” of all the ministers, and the distribution of portfolios among the different faiths by the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”. It was unacceptable as far as we are concerned, and we reached a dead end.

Of course, we can discuss this process by comparing it to the way things were done since 2005 to the present day, because they talk about traditions, but governments have never been formed according to these ways. And we can even discuss it from a constitutional point of view, by referring to what the Constitution says about the formation of the government and the role of representatives of the faiths. Because when the Taif Agreement made government the main body of power, the decision-making force, that was something new; and it was established that all faiths should be represented in this government through the representatives of these faiths in the Parliament. I will not dwell on the exegesis of article 95 of the Constitution (affirming the need for the end of confessionalism, but stipulating that in the meantime, “The communities will be fairly represented in the formation of the Government.”), but I only want to say that we can debate the constitutionality (of the procedures of the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”), by saying that this interpretation is possible, without imposing myself the interpretation of this article.

Either way, without getting into a constitutional dispute, these procedures are not those that were in effect from 2005 to the present day. Why do you want to impose new uses, suppress (the role of) parliamentary groups and the parliamentary majority, suppress the President of the Republic and suppress political forces, and monopolize the formation of the government in the interest of a single party, which represents only a part of the current parliamentary minority, although we respect it and respect its position? But this is a whole new way of doing things, which contradicts the traditions, the Constitution and the democracy that Mr. Macron demands of us!

It was at this point that France began to call everyone and put pressure on everyone, in the last days of the 15-day deadline, speaking to the Presidents (of the Chamber of Deputies, of the Council of Ministers and of the Republic ) and to the party leaders —of course, the contacts with us were different—, 30-minute, 45-minute calls from President Macron, the guy was making an effort, that’s good, but in which direction was he making his efforts? I am not going to speak of the debates which took place with the others, which do not concern me, but of those which took place with us. “Why aren’t you in, why are you obstructing things,” we were asked. “We want you to help and make things easier,” we were told. All this was said in diplomatic language but with pressure, threatening us with terrible sanctions, etc.

We replied: “O our dear ones, O our friends, did the French initiative provide for a government of 14 ministers?” They said no. “Did the French initiative provide for a Club made up of 4 former Prime Ministers to appoint all the ministers of the government for all faiths?” They said no. “Did the French initiative provide that they would distribute the portfolios between faiths on their own?” They said no. “Did the French initiative provide for the rotation of portfolios, and that the Ministry of Finance would be removed from this faith in favor of another?” They said no, and said they just wanted a smaller government —14, 12, 10, 18 or 20 ministers, and it was up to us to come to an agreement on their appointment. Great. So how are we obstructing the French initiative? Because the debate is now between us and France. They have spoken publicly, to the media, so I do the same. What I am saying is true. The roadmap of the French initiative is accessible to the public, O Lebanese people, and does not mention any of this: no 14 ministers, no rotation of portfolios, no method of appointing ministers, no distribution of portfolios

In the end, France accepted our view that the Ministry of Finance should remain with the Shiites —I will make clear later the reason for the insistence on this issue and the importance of this point—, but asked that he be appointed by the Head of Government, that is to say by the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”. But we replied that we are not simply looking for the minister to be Shiite and from Shiite parents (it is an issue of political allegiance, and not merely of faith). We are committed to this minister being Shia because of the decisions he will have to make, and on which we must have a say. The Head of Government is capable of finding a Shiite official who is 100% loyal and sincere to him. This is not what we are looking for. We want each denomination to appoint its ministers, even if the Head of Government can refuse names 10, 20 or 30 times, until one can be found that works for all. But this idea was categorically rejected by the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”.

Finally, Saad Hariri declared that he exceptionally accepts that the Minister of Finance be Shiite, but that he must be appointed by the Prime Minister. But we had already rejected this idea 5 days before. He claimed he was drinking the poisoned chalice by accepting this, but there is no reason for you to swallow poison, O Saad Hariri, we wish you health, and God preserve it, and I hope that we will get along eventually, no problem. But what you are suggesting is not a solution, and cannot be the solution. Then the other 3 members of the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”declared that they did not agree with what Saad Hariri had said. I don’t quite understand this story (a puerile attempt to fool us), but we’re not interested in its details anyway.

We reached a dead end: we did not agree on the form of government, on who would appoint ministers, on the rotation, or on the distribution of portfolios. Because of the dead end, the head of government resigned.

I want to make it clear that there was a desire among some to impose a de facto government. I won’t name them, but there was clearly the will to send everyone to hell by (unilaterally) forming a government, appointing ministers and submitting it to the President of the Republic for approval. If he signed, so much the better. If he didn’t sign, everything would be set up against him. But they felt that he would sign because of the difficult situation of Christians and the Free Patriotic Movement, his desire to see his mandate crowned with success, French pressure, etc. They thought he would have no choice, even if they were sorely mistaken about it, because they underestimate President Aoun.

Mustapha Adib, seeing that he would not achieve anything and wouldn’t gain broad support, and not wanting to go towards a confrontation, decided to resign, and it was a respectable choice. We wish he had waited a bit more, but whether he resigned on his own because he couldn’t stand the situation, or has been asked to step down, I don’t know, but it isn’t important anymore.

After the resignation of the Prime Minister —I am still narratiing the facts, I will soon come to our assessment— the media machine financed by the Americans (and their allies) unleashed against President Aoun, Hezbollah or the tandem Amal-Hezbollah, depending on the targets of each. We had been designated as responsible of the failure beforehand, even before the failure of Mustapha Adib. France got angry and announced a press conference of President Macron, and all Lebanese were waiting to see who they blamed. And we all heard his press conference, and the questions and answers from Lebanese (pro-Western) journalists that followed.

After summing up the facts, I would like to make the following comments and clarify for all the following points.

First, what has been proposed during the last month —after the first 15 days ended, 15 days have been added, which makes a month— is not a government to save Lebanon. What was proposed by the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club” is that in the end, all the parliamentary groups of the country, all the Lebanese political forces, the President of the Parliament and the President of the Republic hand over the country to them, unconditionally, without discussion, without debate, and without asking any questions. What will be the nature of the government, who will be in it, how will the ministries be distributed, etc., none of these points was to be debated, and it was necessary to rely blindly on the “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”and accept the government that they were preparing to form (unilaterally), otherwise the sanctions would fall, as would the French pressures which would make us bear the responsibility in the eyes of the Lebanese people and the international community, presenting us as saboteurs. This is the project that has been put forward for one month.

Of course, this was all founded on a wrong assumption. In this project, the most important thing was to see whether the Hezbollah-Amal duo accepted the plan or not. I am saying it frankly. That’s why they didn’t negotiate, discuss and argue with anyone else. They thought that if Hezbollah and Amal walked along, no one would be able to stop this project, because even if President Aoun wanted to exercise his constitutional prerogatives, he would find himself isolated, confronted and put under pressure. (I’m telling you) so that you understand our position. What has been proposed for a month now is not a rescue government, but a government appointed by a “Four Prime Ministers’ Club”, made up of 14 ministers, a sort of Board of Directors, specialist civil servants whose political decision is entirely vested in a single group, which is part of the parliamentary minority in Lebanon and represents only one political color (that of March 14). They represent a large part of Sunnis, but they do not (even) represent all Sunnis. There are many elected Sunni MPs who are not part of this alliance (and are close to Hezbollah).

Such was the plan put forward, and we all had to walk along. But it was all based on a misreading, namely that the current situation was difficult, that people were afraid, were helpless, that the pressures were exerted (from all sides), that the (American) sanctions were coming, already having struck two (former) Hezbollah ministers, Ali Khalil and Yusuf Finyanus, with threats of (additional) sanctions against a list made up of 94 personalities, etc., etc., etc., in addition to French pressure… If they could use such (threatening) language with us, while they are very careful when addressing us, telling us to fear the worst if the project does not come to fruition, what have they told the other (less powerful) forces, what have they threatened them with, what kind of pressure did they put on them? So much for the first point.

In this regard, I want to say that this (paternalist) conduct and this way of doing things will never succeed in Lebanon, whatever the identity of those who exercise them and of those who support them. Whether it is the United States, France, Europe, the international community, the Arab League, the planet or even the whole universe, the language of threats will never work with us. This will never work in Lebanon, and whoever you are, you are wasting your time (trying to intimidate us).

President Macron accused us of terrorizing people, but those who accuse us of intimidating are those who have exercised a policy of intimidation during the past month, against the Presidents (of the Republic, of the Council of Ministers and of the Parliament), parliamentary groups, and political parties & forces in order to impose such a government. The threats, the sanctions, the dangers (mentioned), the idea that we’d be heading for the worst (namely war against Hezbollah), etc. You saw the language (used by Macron). All of this is now public. But it won’t work.

Second, if we have rejected this form of government, it is not because we would or would not want to be in the government. The fundamental question we are asking ourselves is that of the interests of Lebanon, of the Lebanese people, the recovery of the country… Because we can go from bad to better, and from bad to worse. The question is, in which direction are we going? To whom were we about to hand over the ark of our salvation? Who would have been at the helm of the saving ship? These 4 Prime Ministers were Prime Ministers from 2005 until just a few months ago. Isn’t it true? They have been heads of government for 15 years. They are not the only ones responsible for the current situation, of course. We all have some responsibility. But it is they who bear the greatest burden of responsibility. For they were the Heads of Government, and had ministers & officials in (all) (successive) governments. I blame responsibility on them, and I ask them to take responsibility and not to run away from (it). We must help each other, cooperate, work hand in hand. But to believe that we can save Lebanon by handing over the country to the political force that bears the greatest responsibility for the situation we have arrived at for 15 years is completely illogical and even absurd.

As far as Hezbollah is concerned, you know that before 2005, we didn’t want to participate in governments, (but then we changed our mind). Why? I talked about it a lot during the 2018 elections during the electoral rallies, and I explained why we had to be present in governments (after 2005). It’s not because we’re after honors, ministries, dignities or money. Glory to God who has provided us with His blessings, so much so that we have no need of this State’s wages, budget, or wealth. I had spoken of a clear reason, to which I will add a second reason today. The reason I mentioned was the need to protect the rear of the Resistance. I’ve explained it at length, and no need to repeat myself. Some of our friends say that Hezbollah does not need to participate in governments to protect itself. This is a respectable point of view, but we do not share it. Why? We have to be in government. Whether it is a partisan government or not, it is open to debate. But we (had explained that) must be present in the government to protect the rear of the Resistance, so that the experience of the government of May 5, 2008 is not repeated [the government of Fouad Siniora and Walid Joumblatt wanted to dismantle the underground communications network of Hezbollah, central element of its military force, and to push the army to fight the Resistance; this seditious plan was neutralized by force of arms, the only time where Hezbollah used its weapons on the domestic scene]. Who was this government made up of? From the very people who want to form the new government today. It is exactly the same as the government of May 5, 2008. The government of May 5, 2008 had taken a dangerous decision which was going to lead to a clash between the Lebanese Army and the Resistance, which is an American, Israeli and Saudi project. We were able to avoid it. Quite frankly, we have no fear of the military institution, the leadership of the military, or its officers and soldiers. Because it is a national and patriotic institution. But we have the right (and the duty) to be wary of political authorities and political decision-making. And we decided to be present in the government to protect the rear of the Resistance. This is the first point (which I mentioned in 2018).

And as for the second point that I will announce now, during all the past debates, Hezbollah was accused of being an armed Resistance, of having fought in Syria, Iraq, and whatnot, in Palestine, and of neglecting the economic, financial and social situation, etc. And a whole host of accusations and equations have been deployed (against us), like our weapons in exchange for (ending) corruption, (saving) the economy in exchange for Resistance, etc. I will not discuss this point, but I want to build on it, in order to explain why, quite frankly, it is impossible for us to be absent from the government. Quite frankly, we fear for what’s left of Lebanon, economically, financially, and in every way. We are afraid for Lebanon and for the Lebanese people. I have already said that we are not afraid for Hezbollah (which would survive and maintain its power even if Lebanon collapsed, because Iran will always be there), but for the country, for the people, for the future of this country. If a government had been formed (without us), how would we know that it wasn’t going to sign a blank check to the IMF and give in to all its demands without discussion? I’m not accusing anyone but it’s a possibility. I know each other’s beliefs (and the March 14 submission to the West). As a parliamentary group, are we going to give our confidence to a government knowing, or very strongly presuming, that it will blindly sign the IMF’s roadmap, without discussion? Whatever the conditions of the IMF, Lebanon would comply. Should we not be afraid that a government, using the pretext of our financial situation or any other pretext, sells national assets? It is already proposed in some projects to sell State property (massive privatization). Should liquidation of Lebanon’s assets be carried out on the pretext of the need to obtain money to pay off the debt, remedy the paralysis, etc., etc., etc.? Shouldn’t we be afraid of such a government, when, and I solemnly assert this to you, during previous governments, two-thirds or more of the ministers bitterly defended an increase in VAT? If the intended government had been formed by Mustapha Adib, the first decision he would have made was to increase VAT on everything. The tax policy would have hit the people, while we promised the Lebanese people that we would not allow it and would not accept it. Can our people endure an increase in VAT? Because of a proposed tax of a few cents on Whatsapp calls, people took to the streets on October 17 (2019). Shouldn’t we fear a government with which we do not know what will happen to the savings of the people in the banks? No our dear ones, we fear for our country, for our people, for national assets, for the savings of the inhabitants. We fear the IMF conditions and we fear to go from a bad situation to a much worse situation.

I am not claiming that we have quick fixes. We have put forward alternative solutions, such as the petroleum products of Iran (which can be acquired in Lebanese currency or against goods) which would save billions of dollars to the State Treasury, turning to the East, without renouncing the West if possible, namely towards Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, etc. France is afraid of these alternatives, and especially the United States. There are alternatives (to the West). We are not talking about replacement but about cooperation (with both East and West, to our advantage). But as far as we are concerned, we will never turn our backs and close our eyes to blindly hand over the country to any government that will run the economy and the finances of the country as it pleases. This is no longer an option. It is not just a question of participating in power or not.

Second, when you blamed all the political forces for the failure, Mr. Macron… I am not going to defend Hezbollah. On the contrary, I would have liked President Macron to say that it was Hezbollah that thwarted the initiative, no problem, and I wish he had spared the rest of the political forces. In reality, there are political forces in Lebanon that no one has spoken to, that have not been solicited, with whom no one has negotiated, and who do not even know what happened! If we ourselves, who were involved in the negotiations, did not know the names of the ministers, nor (the distribution of) portfolios, it means that other forces knew absolutely nothing (of what was going on). So how can you blame them like you do? You accused all the Presidents of the (Lebanese) institutions. All right, (let’s say that) the Speaker of the Parliament (Nabih Berri) is part of the (Amal-Hezbollah) tandem. But the President of the Republic, what is the mistake he made, what are the failings he is accused of? Why should he be held responsible? Because Macron put the responsibility on (absolutely) everyone: the Presidents (of the Parliament, of the Council of Ministers and of the Republic), the institutions and all the political forces. He even included the President of the Republic! What are the errors or inadequacies he is accused of? The issue didn’t even reach him! Nobody came to bring him a proposal for the distribution of portfolios and names of ministers!

Third, when we are blamed and accused of leading the country to the worst, I say it is quite the opposite! What we have done is prevent the country from going to the worst of the worst. We are still in a bad situation, but we hope that the (French) initiative will reconsider its approach and that the Lebanese will cooperate so that we can go from bad to good (and not from bad to worse).

Next point, what are the promises we made that we would not have kept? A roadmap has been put on the table. Our brother Hajj Mohammad Raad, God preserve him, leader of the parliamentary bloc of the Loyalty to Resistance, and true representative of Hezbollah at the (negotiating) table, frankly said that we agreed with 90% of the content of this roadmap. Macron asked him if he was sure, and he said yes, although he did not determine what 10% we disagreed with. But even assuming that we would have accepted 100% of this road map, it stipulates in no way the method that was implemented, nor this mode of government formation (by a single political color, minority and hostile to Hezbollah, to the detriment of all the others). O President Macron, what have we promised and how have we broken our word? How can you accuse us of breaking our commitments and being unworthy of respect? How can you accuse us of perjury? At first you talked about a government of national unity, and then you backtracked and gave up on the idea. We understood and didn’t object. Some have spoken of a translation error, others of American or Saudi pressure, whatever. All you talked about was forming a mission government with competent, independent ministers. Very well. But these independent ministers, who should name them? Who was to name them? It was not mentioned in the (French) initiative. No one agreed on how to appoint these ministers. If it had been agreed that political parties do not participate in their nomination, Saad Hariri is the leader of a party (and therefore should not have participated). Just as Najib Miqati heads a party, and Fouad Siniora is a member of a party. Why should one political color have the right to appoint all ministers, while all other forces do not have this right?

Mr. President, O Lebanese people, we have never made a commitment to accept any government at all, whatever be its formation and whatever be its composition. We have never made a commitment to hand the country over to any government at all, regardless of the way it’ll be formed and regardless of its composition. No one has agreed on how the government will be formed and how the ministers should be appointed. This was neither mentioned in the project nor in the (French) initiative. On the contrary, the initiative was instrumentalized to impose this project on the Lebanese political parties and forces. O French President, we are well-known, both to our friends and to our enemies, for keeping our promises and our commitments, and our (high) credibility with both friends and enemies is well established. Our way of doing things is well-known, and when we make promises it is well-known that we are willing to sacrifice anything to keep those promises. We go so far as to anger our friends and allies for keeping our promises. I don’t need to give examples, this is well-known (in Lebanon).

Among the points that I would like to mention is that no one has the right to use promises of financial aid to simply suppress the main political forces of the country, and wipe out the result of the elections (which gave the parliamentary majority to Hezbollah and its allies). President Macron tells Amal and Hezbollah, the Shiites, that they must choose between democracy and the worst. We have chosen democracy. What you are asking us is contrary to democracy. If democracy is not elections (and respect for their outcome), then what is democracy? The 2018 elections elected a parliamentary majority. And what you are asking, O President, is that the parliamentary majority withdraw and hand over the country and its own neck to the parliamentary minority, to a part of the parliamentary minority! We have chosen (to respect the result of) legislative and municipal elections, to respect the preeminence of the Parliament (main political body according to the Constitution), and to cooperate. We didn’t choose the worst.

We did not choose war. We didn’t attack anyone. It was the Zionists who attacked our country, forcing war on us and occupying our territory, seizing our choices and our resources. And it is they who threaten our country. We did not go to Syria to fight civilians. We went to Syria, with the agreement of the Syrian government, to fight the groups that you yourself designate as terrorists and takfiris [Nasrallah did not mention the well-known fact that France has armed, financed and supported these terrorist groups ]. And France is part of the international alliance (which claims to) fight them. And you yourselves are present in Syria (for this same reason), illegally, without the agreement of the Syrian government. We did not go to fight civilians in Syria, but to defend our country, Lebanon, as well as Syria and the region against the most dangerous project in the history of the region after the Zionist project, namely the terrorist and takfiri project.

We are not part of the corrupt class. We have never stole government money. Everyone knows where our money comes from, clearly (it comes from Iran). We have neither money nor financial oligarchies to defend, nor private (lucrative) projects to defend. We do not allow anyone to address us in this way or describe us in this way.

If we have to talk about who obstructed and who facilitated (the French initiative), I would remind you that we accepted the appointment of Mustapha Adib without prior agreement, without conditions or discussions. We have presumed good intentions (from everyone). But it was in the perspective of moving towards an agreement and facilitating (the joint formation of the government). As for giving up (everything) or surrendering the country blindly, that is quite another matter.

We are not playing the game of terrorism and intimidation against anyone in Lebanon. Macron has unfortunately thrown this accusation, aimed at questioning the result of the elections (which would have been obtained by the threat of weapons), but you only have to question your embassy and your intelligence services in Lebanon, who will tell you how many media, journalists, politicians, newspapers and social networks, in our small country, insult us day and night, vilify us day and night, denigrate us day and night, slander us deceitfully and unfairly day and night. And they live peacefully, not fearing for their lives. If they were afraid (of us), they wouldn’t open their mouths. While there are Arab countries that you protect and of which you are the friend and ally, and where nobody dares to publish even a Tweet to express a position against the normalization (of relations with Israel), or a criticism against such and such king, such prince or such regime. No, we don’t intimidate anyone. If anyone is afraid, that’s their problem, but we don’t intimidate anyone. And you just have to come and ask the locals.

The last point on the matter is that I hope that the French leaders will not (blindly) listen to certain Lebanese (sides), and that if they themselves hold this wrong view, they will amend it. We must not blame everything on Iran, which would have hampered the French initiative by asking for intransigence on the appointment of ministers, and asking the Amal-Hezbollah tandem not to let go of the Ministry of Finance. All of these accusations against Iran are meaningless and unfounded. Iran is not like that. Iran is not like you (France or the United States, countries who interfere, threaten, demand, impose, etc.). Iran does not interfere in Lebanese affairs. The decision in Lebanon is in our hands, it is we who determine what we want to do, what we accept or refuse. We in Hezbollah, in the Hezbollah-Amal tandem and with our allies, decide everything that concerns us in Lebanon. Iran does not interfere or impose. You know that for 20 years, and even for more than 20 years, because I speak of the period when I was the Hezbollah Secretary General, during which the link with Iran is made directly with me, since 1992, all those who were talking (about Lebanon) with Iran, Iran invited them to speak directly to us, because our decision is in our hands.

Hezbollah is accused of delaying matters pending the outcome of negotiations between Iran and the United States, while there are no negotiations between Iran and the United States. At least during this election period, it’s official, Iran has made it clear that there will be no dialogue (with the Trump administration). Some claim that Iran is pressuring France (in order to get a favorable vote) in the Security Council (regarding the proposed US embargo). But this is completely absurd. If this ignorance and wrong thinking persist, nothing will be achieved in Lebanon, for wrong assumptions will always lead to wrong results.

Mr. Macron, if you want to identify those outside Lebanon who thwarted your initiative, look towards the United States which threatened sanctions and imposed sanctions, and look towards the King of Saudi Arabia and his speech at the UN (where he violently attacked Iran and Hezbollah).

As for the form (of your intervention), when you come to say that all the political forces, all the Presidents, all the constitutional institutions, etc., have committed a betrayal, by what right (do you say such a thing)? What are you basing yourself on? Who said they committed treason? First, we don’t accept that you accuse us (of anything) and say that we have committed treason. As far as we are concerned, we categorically reject it and condemn it (firmly). This condescending behavior with us and with all the Lebanese political forces is unacceptable. We do not accept this language or this process. We do not allow anyone to doubt our dignity and honor, or the fact that we keep our promises and respect others. We do not accept anyone accusing us of corruption. And if the French friends have corruption files on Hezbollah ministers, deputies or officials, indicating that we have taken State money, I accept that you hand them over to the Lebanese justice, and we’ll hand over anyone who is affected by such a corruption case. It is a very serious challenge, which I have put forward a hundred times and which I reaffirm. But just throwing gratuitous accusations like that, denouncing the entire political class and all the institutions as corrupt, is unacceptable.

When President Macron visited Lebanon, we welcomed the French initiative. But we have never accepted that he is the attorney general, investigator or judge, we have never accepted that he is the guardian, the ruler or the governor of Lebanon. No way. We welcomed President Macron as a friend of Lebanon, who loves and wants to help Lebanon, get it out of its crises, bring together divergent points of view: this is the way (genuine)friendship, benevolence, mediation, fraternity and love (are expressed). But in no case can there be for anyone, be it the French President or anyone else, the power to impose himself as guardian, governor, ruler or judge & executioner of Lebanon. To my knowledge, the Lebanese have never taken such a decision. This is why we hope that the conduct, style and substance will be completely revised.

To conclude on this point, we have welcomed the French initiative, and today, His Excellency the Lebanese President has extended (its implementation deadline). We always welcome the French initiative in a benevolent manner, and are ready for dialogue, cooperation, openness, discussion and debate with the French and with all the friends of Lebanon and all the political forces in Lebanon. But the procedures deployed during the past month, the arrogance that has been exercised, the trampling of truths and realities that has taken place must not be repeated, otherwise we will not achieve any results. We are ready (for dialogue) and want this initiative to succeed, we support its continuation, and we rely on it as others do, but I call for (a full) reconsideration of things at the level of its conduct, actions, understanding, analysis, conclusions, and even management and language used. Because there is nothing more important than respect. There is nothing more important than the dignity of people. What was violated two days ago (during Macron’s intervention) was national dignity. There are people who are angry with certain members of political factions, it is their right to be angry, but there is more important: whoever stands up and accuses everyone without distinction —institutions, parties, political forces, etc.—, in truth this undermines the national dignity and it is unacceptable. We know the French as well educated people, diplomats, who use a (tempered) language even if the content may be vehement, trying to wrap it with conciliatory words. I don’t understand what happened to them on Sunday night.

Regardless, for the sake of our country, we remain open (to dialogue). Currently, at this new stage, it is natural that after what has happened, the parliamentary groups must return to dialogue, consultation, meetings, and the French say that their initiative is still on the table, very well, now we have to see what are its new ideas, its new bases. I am not going to come up with ideas or solutions today, or state our terms and red lines, because it requires dialogue with our friends and allies, but we must not despair, we must cooperate. We are always committed to the cooperation of all, to mutual understanding of all, and to remain positive, to move from a bad situation to a good situation, and not from bad to worse. […]

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“Any amount counts, because a little money here and there, it’s like drops of water that can become rivers, seas or oceans…” Hassan Nasrallah

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