As I pledged yesterday my speech tonight would be on the political developments in Lebanon and the general political situation especially pertaining to the government, the STL, funding the STL and what is connected to it.
I am before two topics. The first topic is important and it helps as a prelude to usher to the second topic. The first topic has to do with the general political speech in the country because this topic in itself is requested, and it is in itself a prelude that helps me to approach the second topic with transparency and faithfulness.
First and as for the general speech, it is clear that not only lately but for years, there is a political party in Lebanon which uses political and factional speech while provoking the other party in various means and topics. This is a very dangerous issue which we must be aware of.
Brothers and sisters! This is a call to all the Lebanese: Let’s agree on an essential basis which says that what is taking place here is a political conflict and a struggle on political causes which have nothing to do with religious and doctrinal affaires. So it has nothing to do with what this group or that group believes or what this faction or that faction believes, or what the followers of this sect or that sect believe. It rather has to do with the political ideas, political conceptions, political projects and political programs.
Second let’s also agree that criticizing leaderships, political or even religious authorities, parties, forces, organizations or currents is not a criticism for the sect. For example, the President of the Republic is Maronite. If anyone has any remarks on him, whoever the President of the Republic may be, that would not be a criticism for the Maronite sect or the Christianity in Lebanon? As another example we say that the Speaker in Lebanon is Shiite. This is according to the composition in Lebanon. Criticizing the Shiite Speaker in Lebanon, whoever the Speaker is – is not a criticism to the Shiite Sect in Lebanon. We as Shiites must not act as such. The same applies to the Premier who is from the Sunnite Sect. Criticizing him must not be considered a criticism or an attack or an aggression on the Sunnite Sect.
The same applies as well to the parties and political movements no matter the scope it claims it represents. So if there is a political party which claims it represents its political majority, criticizing this party or having a conflict with it must not mean criticizing the sect or attacking the sect. That applies to the various sects including the Shiite sect. The same also applies to religious authorities with our respect to all religious posts. So criticizing any religious post is not an attack on the sect, the religion, the sect, the followers of this religion or the followers of this sect.
Here in Lebanon, there is fear from such issues. Thus when we differ with a specific political movement or political party, we disagree with it, we criticize it, and it criticizes us. We may take sharp stance and that may turn to a sectarian or factional struggle. Indeed personal insults to whoever is forbidden. That is not allowed legally, legitimately, morally and ethically. That has nothing to do with presidents, religious posts, parties or representation. It is forbidden to insult, abuse, debase, defame or accuse of lying any human being whether man or woman and of whatever social status he or she is. Still doing so must not be considered an attack on his or her sect, religion or faction. This is an insult on him personally. There are means to achieve these rights, and they are legal means. From our side, we stress that we are committed to such a speech. We also refuse that upon every story or incident that anyone shows up to say that we Shiites or we Sunnites or we Christians or we Druze or we whatever? What is such speech? And where to is such speech taking the country? Who owns the right to speak in the name of the entire sect even if there is an alliance within the sect and even if we are talking about Hezbollah and Amal Movement? As for us, you may observe, all our political speeches from the onset of these crises and our stepping into the political scene in the country in 2004 and 2005 till this very day. We never referred to ourselves as Shiites. We did not refer to others as the followers of a definite sect or definite sects. We rather always took pain to have our speech, terms and language committed to this stance. Accordingly, I do not want to remain talking in general. In what goes with this prelude, I want to address the Future Movement and its leaderships, deputies and media with this call or speech: Enough with this adopted media policy especially that they are utilizing sectarian and factional provocative language. They also at times make use of events to make baseless accusations to evoke sectarian ordeals in definite regions.
I will cast one example only because we have to go to our essential topic.
Some time ago, a Lebanese Army patrol or a Lebanese Army Intelligence patrol entered the village of Irsal or stepped the entrance of the village of Irsal. I do not want to go into details on whether they made arrests or not or whether people came and they assaulted them or not. That needs scrutiny. Well the event was over, and it was addressed. The Future Movement showed up to say that Hezbollah men were with the Army Intelligence and were breaking into the village of Irsal. Indeed the issue is sensitive. We are talking about the village of Irsal whose residences are from our Sunnite brethrens. Their story says that Hezbollah is attacking the people of Irsal and so and so… Then the first deputy showed up to say his word. A statement was issued by the Lebanese Army to clarify the issue. Still they did not respond to the statement of the Army. A second and a third deputy and – I believe – a fourth deputy showed up. Indeed these deputies are all from the North. At least the deputy I saw is from the North. I did not pay attention whether there was anyone of the Future Movement deputies in Bekaa who said anything of this sort. I did not pay attention. This is baseless. What is the goal from this uproar over the baseless event for days? This is sheer lying, deception and falsehood. Do the deputies of the Future Movement want the region of Baalbeck-Hermel for instance which lives in coexistence and harmony despite its diversity to be hurled into sectarian struggle? For whose interest is that? Does the Lebanese national interest require that? Does the unity of the Lebanese stance require that? Does the interest of the Arab Spring require that?
I want to ask the deputies of the Future Movement about that. I hope they will answer me not with insults but with logic. I will also cast one example only for if I am to give all examples I will stay to the morning.
In the same framework and even when they go to political speech with those who differ with them in their viewpoint on the political topic, they use the language which comprises insults and abuses. This allows me to tackle the issue of Tripoli with a couple of words. That’s because in the past weeks and for several weeks all their work was on Hezbollah in Tripoli. Hezbollah is arming. Hezbollah is establishing security zones. Indeed all of that are lies. Hezbollah is provoking its allies and friends in Tripoli. So far that is not a problem. We can tolerate all of that. There is no problem in that so that some of those do us harm. No! In fact, as for media war, there is war between us and America, “Israel”, NATO and all the west. As such, these turn into minute details. However, when they come to our allies, what terms do they use? They say they are tools or collaborators or the like. If The Future Movement considers its allies collaborators, our allies and friends are not as such.
First our allies and friends in Tripoli and in the North in particular are from wellborn political families. They are struggling political forces which existed in Tripoli and the North before the Future Movement existed and before Hezbollah was established in fact. They are far more ancient than you are. You are the new element in the field.
Second, our relations and friendships with these political forces and those allies and friends came before the establishment of the Future Movement and prior to our political dispute with the Future Movement.
Third: They are true popular forces which the elections of 2005 and 2009 showed that they have weighty popular representation despite the fierce confrontation of hundreds of millions of dollars which was waged against them including election bribery, a current of accusations that whoever votes for them would be voting or electing the killers of Premier Rafiq Hariri and the vast local, Arab and international media machinery. Still these friends and allies in Tripoli and the North proved that they enjoy a true, weighty, firm and deep-rooted popular base which might not be toppled by intimidation, dollars, insults or accusations. These are the true political forces that someone might bargain on. They also proved – and they are as such – that they are the ones who care most for their city, region and sects despite their varied sectarian belongings.
Here I call on the leadership of The Future Movement to draw the moral through an internal evaluation and not in newspapers. Let them say what they want in newspapers.
It seems that this provocation on our friends, allies and on us in the past few weeks in Tripoli and in the North and the accusation that there are some who want to evoke ordeal come in the framework of mobilization for the festival which they wanted to hold and which they wanted to be a historic turning point in the Lebanese political life. However that did not take place. I call on them to carry out a serious and true evaluation to draw the moral on the magnitude of popular participation. That’s because that was a central festival from all of Lebanon. So it was not a festival in the north only. Let them also draw the moral from the magnitude of participation from the city of Tripoli where they daily show up and impose themselves as speakers in its name while neglecting the other forces, personalities and the true political families in Tripoli which differ with them in their viewpoint.
I wrap up the subtopic on Tripoli and the North saying: The relation which exists between us in Hezbollah especially and these national and struggling friends and brethrens whether families, parties, forces, movements and fronts in Tripoli and the North in particular is true and faithful. This relation is a source of honor to us and to them. The relation between them and between the party of resistance which fights Israel is a source of honor to us and to them.
To wrap up the first topic, we realize that this very logic is what is taking place in Lebanon and Syria together as concerning the Syrian events. This is what the Lebanese people and the Syrian people alike must notice.
There are some media outlets in Lebanon, some Arab media outlets and some international media outlets which are trying to depict the situation in Syria as if it is a sectarian struggle while it is not as such. Through watching some of the Syrian media opposition and some of the satellites you might form an idea about the future which those people are preparing for Syria. It is that simple. You don’t even need me to make any explanations. Just watch once some of these satellites – some of which are not known and I will not name them so that they won’t become famous – and listen to the speech and see some of the faces to know what future do those people promise Syria and the people of Syria and the people of the region with.
Why do they insist on sectarian and factional instigation though those who are being accused and killed do not use this logic or resort to this language? Here I will be talking from a Lebanese perspective. For example, there is insistence from some Arab media outlets or some Syrian Opposition media outlets that there are 3000 fighters (from Hezbollah) in Syria. See how precise their information is. Praise be to Allah for seven or eight months, their number never increased or deceased. Since the first day, they talked about 3000 fighter. Days ago they mentioned the same number. Their number does not increase or decrease. Never did any of them get tired, is martyred, is wounded nor run away (No one runs away as far as we are concerned). There is this insistence on 3000. We made a first and a second denial. Then they made a new claim that thousands of fighters from Al Mahdi Army from Iraq entered Syria. What are they saying then? They are saying: O Sunnites rise. The Shiites are coming from Lebanon and from Iraq to fight in Syria. Isn’t this what is being meant? Isn’t this factional and sectarian instigation? Assader Movement made a first, a second and a third denial. Still their media insists on this. That means an insistence on factional and sectarian instigation.
Here I wrap up the first topic saying the following: Where do those who make factional and sectarian instigation want to go?
As Lebanese, we must ask ourselves this question. At the same time, I hope all our Syrian brethrens would ask themselves where to do those want to reach, and what does and whom does that serve?
This is a true question. If these poles believe that through factional and sectarian evocation they may cause terror and bully the other poles to make them yield, to silence them and to make them announce their surrender, here I tell these instigators that you are deluded. You are deluded. Here I mean ourselves at least. We are a people who are not intimidated by instigation. This kind of speech does not harm the level of our faith and conviction, the level of our commitment, steadfastness, the strength of our hearts, the strength of our will and our deep-rootedness. That does not make any difference. No one must forget that during the 28 years of the life of the Resistance – and not only during July War – we were subject to the worst, harshest and fiercest psychological war whether through the media or through assassination. It was a war which harms one’s determination and will. Still it never harmed our determination and will. Thus that does not lead anywhere. Do not bother yourselves then.
This then might be the goal of those who make sectarian and factional instigation. Some might have frantic ideas for example. Indeed so far I do not say that anyone has such an idea though true some talked about it. “So and so your turn is coming. Such and such is coming”. So if they are trying to pluck up courage by some changes in the region – I do not believe this is a general position but if anyone is thinking that he may pluck up courage by someone in some place under a definite situation to uproot the other parties – I also tell them that you are really deluded. This stage is over. In Lebanon and apart from the regional and international equation, no one may uproot anyone especially according to the Lebanese formation.
Where to do those want to go? To ordeal? To civil war? What will the result be other than they be with their own hands, with our hands and with everyone’s hand destroying our country, devastating our country and messing with our country as the Lebanese did at some times in the past. That only led to no winner and no defeater results. So let’s make a settlement. Why do we go there?
I want to wrap this topic saying that this policy and this methodology is with a blocked horizon and it will lead no where. From our side, I would like to appease all and say to those who make lies and accusations: We do not want to go into a battle with anyone in the Lebanese internal. They talk about May 7th. May 7th had its own circumstances. You staged the attack on May 7th. It had its own circumstances.
We do not want to go into a struggle with anyone. However if anyone wanted or plotted or anyone is plotting to get engaged in a battle with us, he may know from now what the outcome of the battle would be.
I conclude this topic saying: Yes I call for being rational and calm and that the speech remains political. In politics say what you want. There is no problem. However let’s evade sectarian and factional speech and sectarian and factional instigation. I wrap up telling them: He who prepares poison is the one who eats it.
As for the second topic, we come to the government, the STL and funding the STL.
Very briefly I will make a narration of a situation you experienced. However I will make this narration to complete the image and to reach the current position. We shared in the former government headed by PM Saad Hariri which was called the government of the national unity government. We were faithful. We acted with utmost faithfulness to make that government successful and to make it achieve something to the Lebanese through the cooperation of all of its components. Then it was said that the title of the government is the “priorities of the people”. Indeed that government received a confidence which I believe no other former government in the history of Lebanon ever received. It is the government of PM Saad Hariri.
However practically and despite the support of the government, the parliamentary support and the political backing among others, the government did not manage to move in that direction. It took a different track.
With time we used to say never mind. Things do take time. Things will be addressed Inshallah. We were approaching a very great and important event which is the so called indictment which was due to be issued then. Indeed it was later postponed. It was postponed by politics and political efforts. Everyone knows that. We were approaching the issuance of the indictment which was issued in 2006, published in foreign newspapers and was issued as it was written in newspapers.
So the government was to become before a true problem. How will it deal with the indictment? Later on there will be funding, the protocol and the judges. How will the government deal with that? We then ushered into a governmental crisis.
Afterwards, Saudi-Syrian mediation took place. It was later known as the S-S mediation. The mediation moved on. They visited Lebanon and meetings took place in Lebanon. The mediation carried on for several months. There was a discussion even on the details but we were clear since the beginning that the time limit for this mediation is the issuance of the indictment. So even if that was not announced, if there were seriousness and sincere intentions to address the issue, that is supposed to take place before this time limit.
Everyone also knows – I do not want to go back to the near past and speak about it in details – who worked day and night to abort the S-S efforts. He is namely PM Saad Hariri and March 14 Bloc. Effective leaderships from March 14 Bloc were working day and night on all levels to cripple the S-S efforts. Syria was informed formally by Saudi Arabia that negotiations were over. There are no S-S efforts anymore. Let everyone assume his responsibility. Thus we – the Opposition in the former government – moved towards toppling the government because we considered that what is taking place is indeed against the national interests, the extended hands, the broad hearts, the willingness for negotiations and the search for ways out and settlements. We also felt that something great is being prepared for the government and that a new government will be followed in the next stage. Thus the previous government flopped and it was clear that the previous Opposition – meaning the current Loyalists – will head to naming another respectful Sunnite personality as Premier other than PM Saad Hariri.
Here a new mediation intervened. It is the Qatari-Turkish mediation. A Summit was held in a hurry in Damascus. Turkish PM Receb Taib Ardogan, Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad, the foreign ministers of both countries beside other personalities met there and set a definite formula. Then both ministers came to Lebanon. It was supposed that they hold extended talks with political leaderships. Then was the meeting with Saad Hariri. Then there were several meetings with other political leaderships. Some meetings were cancelled because they stayed for more than four hours with President Saad Hariri. They agreed and then wrote this text which was written and printed at PM Saad Hariri’s. My meeting with them was at 9:30 or 10 at night. However, we met around 12 after midnight because they were late and because they were to come with a comprehensive agreement.
This agreement was made, and indeed both ministers have the right to suppose that they made a very great achievement and that they brought along a solution to the current crisis in Lebanon – meaning the STL – and that was unexpected. They made a prolonged presentation and delivered this text. They said they hope we will respond to it.
There are two sections in the agreement. I will not read it all. I will rather read a part of it. There is a section which was supposed to be announced, will be read in a press conference and will be signed. The other section is not announced but it will be signed as well. It was supposed to be signed by the President, the Speaker and the supposed Premier. This section will remain secretive – meaning under the table. However all of us are committed to it. They were very optimistic to the extent that the moment we agree at midnight, a meeting will be held in the morning in Ankara at the level of the foreign ministers of Turkey, Syria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and France.
France intervened. On the light of the meeting in which all will bless this agreement, a press conference will be held in France, and it will be headed by President Nicola Sarkuzi. These details are very important. It will be attended by Turkish PM, Qatari Prince, a representative of the Saudi King as well as the US Secretary of State Clinton to bless the agreement. Now I say as scholars say in their books when tackling a sensitive issue: Now contemplate. Come on agree with us and tomorrow we will go for signing the agreement. In fact what is the deal presented in this agreement?
First, we – Hezbollah – will dispense with the STL. O Hezbollah, we will save you from the STL. Yes the first beneficiary of this agreement is Hezbollah and its allies. In fact, it is not known whether the allies of Hezbollah will benefit from the agreement. We asked them: What will you do to us?
First: Stop funding the STL. President Saad Hariri will commit himself to that when the government is formed. This is part of the agreement. If it was violated the government will collapse, and all the countries which sponsored the agreement will demand him of that.
Second: The Lebanese judges will be withdrawn from the STL.
Third: The protocol will be annulled – and not extended. So it is not that we wait until March 2012, we might then extend or not. This indeed needs discussion. The agreement is committed to that. They even told me more than that. This is written and was to be signed by the presidents. The states were to guarantee that. The man was willing to do more than that. They told me – No, I will postpone that to another time.
What does the text say? Clause 6: To preserve security and peace in Lebanon, the designate Premier Saad Hariri – when signing the agreement – will announce that the stance from the STL requires reconsideration. Then that will be inscribed as the first topic on the agenda of the first session for the government to take legal procedures – This is not debatable – on the withdrawal of the Lebanese judges, halting funds and stopping cooperation with the STL. That means annulling the Protocol; it does not mean not renewing the Protocol. Executing what was mentioned in the agreement must coincide with the steps which will be taken regarding the legal procedures on pulling out the three above-mentioned points.
Then it was required that the three presidents sign underneath.
So the two ministers came to tell us: O Hezbollah, we came to save you. An indictment will be issued against you, your brethrens and your men. There is the STL before you. There is so and so before you. We are extending the rope of safety to you. Any man, any rational man accepts. Let’s see what is required in return.
In return, re-nominating PM Saad Hariri is required as well as having the majority of the government indeed from the other side, protecting the political, security, financial and judicial team of the Premier, addressing all the previous crises which have to do with laws and drafts… In other words: O Hezbollah and Hezbollah allies hand the country in to Saad Hariri (while regarding his title) and the allies of Saad Hariri. Be committed to guarding and not toppling the government. Be committed to protecting this economic, financial, judicial, political and security team whatever its performance is. In this way, we save you from the STL. If the day comes when there would be an interest in broadcasting the text in the media, we will circulate it. However we are being somehow precautious. This is what was presented to us.
In the meeting, they insisted on knowing my personal viewpoint indeed. I told them we have a collective leadership. Let me go back to the brethrens for discussion. We also have allies. So allow me to contact them. They said: No. We want to know your personal viewpoint. If you were positive, that gives us hope. I told them: I personally do not agree on this solution. They asked me why. I am furnishing you with this presentation because it later was the very evaluation of Hezbollah Shura and the very evaluation of our allies with whom we were and with whom we toppled the government together. I told them you are bargaining with us on our interest and the interest of Hezbollah. The interest of Hezbollah is clear in relieving me from the STL. Indeed I have interest in that. However you are bargaining with me on the interest of Hezbollah and the interest of the country. The interest of Lebanon – the state and the people – is being bargained for the interest of the Party. He asked me to explain that. I told him that this government came to power with the utmost number of confidence votes. It’s the government of national unity, and most of the political forces in the country defends it and grants it a chance to work and make achievements. However, what did it do? What did it present? This government is fruitless and does not lead anywhere. Well in Lebanon there is an executive authority which is the government. The head of the executive government is the Premier. Well, the Premier – Here I am presenting a practical, moral and ethical evaluation which does not allow me to insult any person – proved after a year in post that he does not follow up, summon ministers to sit with, hear from them and ask them what they are doing. What are you doing with your files, administration, ministries, problems so that I address them at the government? There are no files which are being addressed. None of the people’s causes are being addressed. On the contrary, things are being left to councils to tackle. There is no seriousness. There is no follow up. There is no responsibility assuming in a very difficult situation on the financial, economic, living, political and security levels and there is Israel in our neighborhood… Even more, on the day of Adeisseh incident – I gave them this example – the Lebanese Army was left alone. The head of the national unity government was in a vacation. He did not interrupt his vacation though the country was on the verge of war. Well a serious premier does not act as such. We add to that our evaluation to the performance of the team and its project and policy as well as our evaluation of the former government of PM Fouad Saniora. This is a well known evaluation.
Consequently, I am one of the people and a section of the people in this country – including you who are sitting here – who entrust me on their fate, future and the future of their children, dignity, livelihood, security and stability. I believe that should I agree on this bargain, I will be betraying this trust.
Still when they saw that, they said: Well, Sayyed, talk with your brethrens and try to figure out a way out or a solution. I told them that is great. Since the very beginning I told you I have to talk with my brethrens. And this was their evaluation too as well as the evaluation of our allies as well. We thus informed them that we can’t carry on with this premier, this formula and this project. Look for another option. We were open to other options. I add that when I presented the evaluation – indeed I was frank and I gave details more than what I provided you with – both ministers could not defend. I am talking about events which are a year old and not 100 years old and which are narrated by so and so who is quoting so and so… All of us lived these events. They said you are right, O Sayyed, but there are priorities and there is something more important. Addressing the STL is more important and the only one who is able to address the STL is PM Saad Hariri. I told them: Your Highness! As for us the country is more important. For the sake of the country and its security, integrity and dignity we offered our much loved leaders, masters, brethrens, children and dear ones as martyrs. Consequently, I do not make a bargain at the expense of this country. Let the STL carry on no matter what happens. We reach that far. The story was over and after all a new government will take over in the country.
Before wrapping up this section, I would like to make clear that what took place later is a great oppression – meaning accusing the Syrian leadership and the person of President Bashar Assad of crippling the agreement in Lebanon. This is not true. I frankly tell you that the Syrian leadership hoped that the Turkish-Qatari mediation will work in Lebanon. It encouraged us, and it wished that would take place. Indeed we have our decision, and truly the Opposition in Lebanon takes its decision itself. Because some people are accustomed of being subordinate and tools, they do not believe that. Well, it is up to them. Even all what they say concerning the current funding issue is valueless. Then, Syria had an interest in boosting its ties with Qatar and with Turkey. Its greatest interest was in that. Second, it had an interest in boosting its relations with Saudi Arabia. There was a definite Syrian interest in that. However we in Lebanon put the interest of Lebanon above the interest of Syria. Thus we refused the bargain. I only say that for history.
Later PM Najeeb Mikati was nominated to form the government. Since the very first day we advocated a national unity government in which the other party partakes. You know that consultations lasted for a month between the designate PM and the other team, and they refused. However, from the very first day they accused the government and the designate premier of treason and betrayal and they demanded on him to resign. They announced the goal of his toppling and announced the slogan of funding the STL from the very first day. The man hadn’t have come into power yet. They asked him what you will do concerning funding the STL and cooperating with the STL. However the essential event now is funding the STL because cooperation exists. Is there anything in the country which the STL did not violate? Everything was violated – the census office, car mechanics, cards, identity cards, fingerprints, professors, pupils and records of those who entered and left Lebanon since 1992. So everything was violated. In fact, is there still anything which the STL did not take yet and wants to take? Perhaps it is updating data which they daily demand.
They did not evoke the issue of funding because they want the STL to be funded. I followed the reactions yesterday and today. I was really lost whether March 14 Bloc are happy or sad with what PM Mikati did. We are not happy. Are they happy or sad? I do not know. I was lost. Since the very first day they asked him what you would do with funding the STL. They wage a war of funding with MP Mikati. The target was not funding the STL because they knew that the government would move on under all conditions whether it was funded by Lebanon or not. The story of funding the STL was a means to pressure and blackmail. Some days ago the official spokesman of the STL said that our financial needs of 2011 are covered. However, it is required that Lebanon lives up to its international commitments according to its logic. They know that the STL will carry on whether it was funded by Lebanon or not. If this government will achieve justice nothing will cripple it and it will carry on because funding will take place from other sources.
They also know that their head did not only give up funding the STL to remain in power, he rather gave up besides funding the STL, cooperating with the STL and accepted withdrawing the judges and even more and they know that.
Now when someone is shameless, he does what he wants.
Since the very first moment, they started asking: What about funding? What will you do with funding? They produced a factional sectarian atmosphere over this issue. Indeed here I am against PM Mikati in evaluating this atmosphere. I consider every state post as a national post above all. PM Mikati used to say: I am from the Sunnite sect. What will I do with my Sunnite sect, my Sunnite atmosphere and my Sunnite post? They let things reach that far. They made any PM who will come to power feel as a traitor to the Sunnite sect if he did not fund the STL. Who said so?
We have proven with facts, figures and indications that the STL is politicized, unfair, conspiring and leaking. Whom is it formed from? It is an American-Israeli court which targets the resistance and aims at causing a civil war in Lebanon. So if it was not funded, the PM will be considered a traitor of the Sunnite sect. What is this logic?
This was said and they worked on that for months.
The government continued. However the bargain of the other team – who did not believe in this government and its president one day and who was working to topple it for the first day and who refused to offer it a one-month-chance – was waiting for the funding to become due. So when funding is due, we’ll see what will happen. Either the government will burst from within and they come back to power or if for example the government disagreed, funding will not take place. Then the Sunnite PM will be accused of historic treason. So all the options would return them to power.
Days before the interview with PM Mikati when he said that if funding did not take place he will resign, one of the senior figures from March 14 Bloc said that the solution in Lebanon is in forming a technocrat government. They did not hope and they were not definite whether PM Mikati will resign. So it was not clear to them how a way out will be figured out or whether a way out is possible or not. Nothing was clear to them. They were acting as if the government will continue to be. Then one of the senior March 14 Bloc figures said that this government must resign and a technocrat government must be formed to lead the country at this sensitive stage. When they heard PM Mikati threatening to resign, this very figure said some days ago that the only way out is in forming a government purely from March 14 Bloc. How did the whole world turn around in few days? How is it that the interest of the country was in something and no soon it became in something else? Anyway, they were waiting for this moment.
Here we come to funding and the course of events which took place before wrapping up my speech in a while and giving our stance.
Well, let me be transparent from the very first moment. Let me say what is with and what is against us, and what is with and what is against them – meaning our partners in the government:
First: Since the first steps of the formation we did not put any conditions on PM Mikati on funding the government or withdrawing the judges. Truly, if someone said we put these three conditions and he committed himself to them, the answer is no that is not true.
Second: As far as this issue is concerned, from the very beginning we agreed on addressing this issue and on cooperation and mutual confidence.
Third: In our evaluation we believe the PM Mikati embarrassed himself very much when he committed himself politically and in the media and in interviews that he is decisively committed to funding the STL apart from the wish of the constitutional institution which is so called the government while he knows that the majority of his government do not support this choice. Here we have the right to show admonition to the Premier because we are partners. He also led things in the last weeks to a very sharp and inappropriate point when he announced his intention to resign if funding the STL collapsed.
Well, here we ushered into a governmental crisis. This debate coincided with the seclusion of the ministers of Reform and Change Bloc for reasons which have nothing to do with funding the STL. The stance of the Bloc, its Head, its deputies and its ministers apart from their various political belongings from the STL is clear. However they announced that. They have their remarks from the very beginning. This is one of the points upon which debate between us took place during the previous period of time. It’s the governmental performance. We have always called for having tolerance and granting time. They used to consider that as a waste of time. The government is wasting time and is not addressing the files. Thus they secluded themselves and they said why they did so. They are righteous in their demands and conditions when they talked about the judicial file, appointments, the living file, the economic file, the administrative file… They are righteous in that.
We have become in the government before a governmental crisis and before a due event. What about funding the STL? Should the government meet and funding the STL be put to vote – because it was put on the agenda of the government – and it did not pass, that will mean that the Premier will resign. Thus the government will fall. A weighty bloc of ministers in the government seriously thought that they would resign first before the Premier would resign.
Well for contemplation and reconsideration, let’s see where things might reach. In this framework which I will say now, we were and we are still as far as the STL is concerned. Thus we say the following:
First: As for us, this tribunal is not constitutional and it is illegitimate. It’s a US-Israeli tribunal. It is politicized and unfair. It will remain as such until the contrary is proved with evidence. We have presented evidence to a great extent. It is also an oppressive court.
Second: We used to and still refuse any form of funding and cooperating with it based on this evaluation and classification.
Third: Was the government to convene and was the funding of the STL to be presented in the session, we would have voted against funding. This is the position of the majority of the ministers in the government.
Fourth: Was this issue to be presented in the Parliament, we would have voted against it. We would have done the same in the Finance and Budget Committee.
Fifth: We refuse to pay the funds of the STL from the pockets of the Lebanese people. Do you remember that in the previous occasion I said that if anyone wanted to fund the STL, let them solve its problem as they would solve the problem of the UNESCO or go to the Arabs. They have money. The west has money as well. So that’s your problem. Solve it then. It’s not I who is concerned in this issue. However we refuse that the STL be funded from the pockets and money of the Lebanese people. This was our stance. This is still our stance.
Indeed, amid all this argument, we continue with our dialogue, meetings and cooperation with the Premier and all the components of the government. We have stressed on our desire that the current government remains, continues and that the flaws in its performance be addressed because we see in that a great and a definite national interest.
I do not want to talk about the uncertainties. Now the Premier took a decision on his own responsibility. He announced it yesterday (Wednesday). He said that he took his responsibility according to his competence. We later knew about the loan and the means of receiving this loan. He said he can spend from the money of the Higher Committee for Relief and that does not need the approval of the government or the Parliament. Rather he as a Premier may spend. Now he took the money as a loan from the Supreme Committee for Relief. Will he receive donations? This is another detail which I am not sure of. Days will clarify this. However what I understood today or what I was told is that it is sure that this money will be considered donations or grants given by sides, states or individuals to the Supreme Committee for Relief and through them the loan will be settled.
He considered that he took a stance and fulfilled his commitment and used his competence. I really do not know whether this procedure is legal or not and whether it is constitutional or not. That needs experts to say their word. The Premier also said that his goal is to protect Lebanon because he is convinced that if the government did not fund the STL, sanctions will be imposed on Lebanon and Lebanon will be isolated among other intimidations.
It is strange that the USA, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Syria were to sponsor an agreement to halt funding the STL, withdraw the judges and halt cooperation. We were to be rewarded for that. However later we became to deserve punishment for that.
So the issue is not that of justice and the government. It is rather a political issue. It has to do with who is in power and who is not in power.
Others in Lebanon share the very convictions of the Premier. We believe that much of what is said are sheer intimidations and we do not agree on this evaluation.
Anyway, the Premier took the decision yesterday on his own responsibility and away from the constitutional institutions in which we share in decision making – whether in the government or in the Parliament. After all this presentation, what is our stance?
While stressing on all what I said a while ago, I say the following:
In adherence to the political stability in the country and the persistence of the current government and its continuity and upon the condition of activating it, we say:
First: While stressing our firm stance on refusing the legitimacy and constitutionality of the STL and to all forms of funding it and cooperating with it, no crisis will be found in the country. We will put the supreme national interest above any other consideration as we did with the agreement which the two Qatari and Turkish ministers presented to us. We do not agree but we will not cause a problem.
Second: It is required or it is logical that if that is a loan, that this loan will have to be settled through grants and donations and not from the money of the Lebanese people of the Lebanese Treasury. If the issue will be evoked later in the government or in the Parliament, we are against it and we will refuse it to the end as we refused that the issue be agreed on in the government no matter what the results would be. This was our stance. Thus there used to be a search for ways out and solutions. Will the loan be settled through grants and donations? This is the business of the Premier anyway. Before moving to the final section in this topic, it is my obligation to thank the political forces that backed the decision of refusing funding the STL no matter what the repercussions would be and they are numerous on Lebanon. I thank our allies, friends and brethrens. I will not mention names so that I won’t forget anyone. I also thank the parliamentary blocs who were committed with us and all the ministers who showed solidarity with us though some of these blocs or these ministers were intimidated on the personal level. They were terrorized in the sense of telling them that your names will be listed in airports, you will be prosecuted, and you will be summoned to the STL. Still the stance of these ministers remained firm. Was this to be evoked in the government, it would have toppled through voting for sure. So thanks to these ministers, their parliamentary blocs, their political forces and all those who stood by this issue from us and from our Resistance.
Indeed we understand that one aspect of this stance is pursuant to the conviction of these forces, blocs, ministers and deputies. This was their announced stance from the STL and this is how they evaluated the STL and its goals. The other aspect is an expression of faithfulness and honesty and this is the truth of the existing ties.
Well, we reach this far. We turned this page and we do not want to bargain. Bargaining on that was presented on us and on some of our friends whom we consult with at one stage of discussion. Neither we nor our friends ever thought of bargaining. Bargaining on the false witnesses, on appointments and on files will never take place. That means that we go to PM Mikati and tell him that you committed yourself to that and you embarrassed yourself and we want the government to continue to be. Well, let’s evoke this issue in the government and we will pass it. An idea was presented to us to the effect that two ministers fail to show up, two ministers do not vote and two ministers accept among such Lebanese games. However we want you to commit yourself to so and so. This was impossible because this issue was to us an issue of a principle, and I do not bargain on my principles with anyone. This was the stance of our allies. Well, the decision was taken. Some people were sad. Others were happy. Others had prepared new neckties and suits. They wanted to become ministers. However that did not work. Anyway, we reached this far. Wrapping up my political address, I have two things to say to the Premier. This is his obligation. This is not a bargain for taking this decision.
As for the first issue, I hope that he is hearing me. In fact our delegation did not discuss this issue with him and he will hear it on the TV screen just like you. I also like to say it openly. All the terms PM Mikati used in his speeches during the past period showed that he is committed to justice. I do not want to discuss now whether this court will bring along justice or injustice. This is another research. He is committed to justice, and as a Premier and his national belonging might not permit him not to fund the STL. It was mentioned in his speeches that his Sunnite belonging does not allow him not to fund the STL. He had used such terms. From this very post, I call on PM Najeeb Mikati – who as well as we are accused unjustly of being the head of the government of Hezbollah. They will label all what is taking place as scenarios and giving out roles – that your commitment to justice and your national belonging and Sunnite belonging call on you to be just to other people who are oppressed. They are the four officers – two senior officers of whom by the way are from your honorable Sunnite Sect. So do them justice through personally putting on the agenda of the government a point in which you call for opening the file of the false witnesses, vote, call and seek so that the current government decide to refer the false witnesses file to the Judicial Court. Your justice, national belongings and Sunnite belongings require that from you, O Premier! If you consider yourself before a trial in funding the STL, you are as well before a trial in the file of the false witnesses.
In this atmosphere of all of these discussions, I am transparent and frank. I tell you: Yes, we were silent on this file so that we won’t embarrass the Premier because we see the magnitude of pressure and attack he is being subject to. The world was all of a mess. However, things are over. You took the decision of funding the STL. Where are we going with this file? Isn’t it pursuant to justice, national belonging and even sectarian belonging that this issue be settled one way or another?
The second point is that it is time this government be active and productive. It’s time that it does not postpone files and do not bet on events and changes and waste time. It must rather assume its national responsibility. In this framework, all the demands of the Reform and Change Bloc are real, objective, true and logical demands which we fully back and which we must work to achieve because that helps us to have a productive government which assumes responsibility in the upcoming stage.
I have a final comment. Though we are in Ashura I will give this example. I heard yesterday and today that following: Well great! Since PM Mikati decided to fund the STL on his own responsibility, then Hezbollah acknowledged the legitimacy of the STL. Hezbollah does not have now except to cooperate and to hand in the accused whom I call oppressed and falsely accused. How was this conclusion drawn? When we were young students, they used to teach us logic. They always used to tell us that there must always be a relation between the introductions and the conclusions. This is what is called evidence. It is not right to say that the sun is shining and the sky is blue; so my father is right in his conflict with his neighbors! What does this have to do with that? If my father does not agree with his neighbors on a definite story, is that a proof that the sun is shining and the sky is blue? The evidences of March 14 Bloc are as such. They talk with such logic. They philosophize things and say this is an olive tree, and this house is strong and hard. Then this car is for me! What does this have to do with that? PM Najeeb Mikati was cautious. He did not evoke this point really in the government because he knew it would not pass in the government even if that led to his resignation. He knew that. We would have voted against it and brought the clause of funding the STL down apart from the repercussions which it evoked in the government. He went to a way out. He had his convictions. He acted according to his responsibility. He is free. This is his business. Does that mean Hezbollah acknowledged the legitimacy of the government? Then the car is mine and my father is righteous!
I hope Inshallah that we will manage before this event which is not over yet – meaning the government crisis and the governmental status – that all the components of the government cooperate, that we carry on working because the great national interest has always been above every other consideration. As for us, it is above every other consideration. This is what we always learn from Sayyed Ashuhada whose memory we are marking in this occasion – Abi Abdullah Al Hussein (peace be upon him).
Speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on December 1 2011
As I pledged yesterday my speech tonight would be on the political developments in Lebanon and the general political situation especially pertaining to the government, the STL, funding the STL and what is connected to it.