The Lebanese Government statement
“… the Government statement, on the basis of which we participated in the Government, talks about the Lebanese Government’s endorsement of resistance and its national right to liberate the land and the prisoners.
“How could a resistance liberate prisoners? Go to George Bush for example?”
Nasrallah, Al Jazeera,
“We took great joy in seeing the Cedar Revolution. We understand that the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the street to express their desire to be free required courage, and we support the desire of the people to have a government responsive to their needs and a government that is free, truly free.”
A few months later, the
US President did not demur when Israel’s Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, promised
to “turn Lebanon’s clock back 20 years” . He was happy to see the sovereignty of the
“free and independent and sovereign Lebanon” with “a government
that is free, truly free”
violated remorselessly by its neighbour, over a thousand of
its citizens killed and a quarter of them driven from their homes - using
armament supplied by the US and largely paid for by US tax dollars. It’s as well
Hezbollah in government
Bush and Siniora didn’t
give a press conference when they met at the White House on
In the Lebanese elections in May/June 2005, Hezbollah won 14 of the 27 seats assigned to Shiites in the 128-seat parliament and, for the first time, it went into the Lebanese Government, taking the Ministry of Water and Energy. Mohamed Fneiche is the Minister. Hezbollah is on the US State Department’s list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” . In September 2002, when he was Colin Powell’s deputy in the State Department, Richard Armitage said of Hezbollah that it “may be the A-team of terrorists and maybe al-Qaida is actually the B-team” .
This was an awkward issue
When the Siniora
Government was being formed in July 2005, reporters gave State Department
spokesman, Adam Ereli, a hard time on this issue. He announced at a press briefing on
“We’re releasing a statement after the briefing today, welcoming the agreement between the President of Lebanon Emile Lahoud and the Prime Minister Designate of Lebanon Fouad Siniora on a proposed list of cabinet members for the next Government of Lebanon. We believe that this is a positive and an important step forward that reflects and is responsive to the will and desires of the Lebanese people as expressed through historic elections.
“This list needs to still be approved by parliament, but if and when it is approved, we certainly look forward to working with the new Government of Lebanon …”
The obvious question was: will you be working with the Hezbollah minister? It was asked:
“One of the innovations of this cabinet is a member of Hezbollah. Does your welcome for this cabinet extend to that individual? And will you be working with him?”
This rather spoiled Ereli’s enthusiasm for the new Lebanese Government, because he had to say:
“… we have a policy towards Hezbollah, it’s clear, it hasn’t changed and to the extent that there are active members of a foreign terrorist organization in a government, then our ability to interact and work with those individuals is circumscribed.”
Ereli was faced with this
question repeatedly in various guises that day and the next at State Department
briefings. And it can be guaranteed that
the matter would have come up again on
Endorsement of Islamic Resistance
In fact, the American press could have made Ereli’s life even more difficult in July 2005, had they known the basis on which the Siniora Government was formed. For, not only did it contain a Hezbollah Minister, the policy statement on which it was put together and approved by the Lebanese Parliament recognised the role of Hezbollah’s military wing, Islamic Resistance, in combating Israeli aggression. This means that, in Bush’s terms, each and every member of the Government, including Siniora himself, supports terrorism. All of them are complicit, not just the Hezbollah Minister.
I first heard about this
policy statement from an interview by Hezbollah Secretary General, Hasan
Nasrallah, broadcast on Al Jazeera on
“… the Government statement, on the basis of which we participated in the Government, talks about the Lebanese Government’s endorsement of resistance and its national right to liberate the land and the prisoners.”
I have been unable to lay my hands on a reliable English translation, but I have located what purports to be a rough translation here . A section of this entitled Resistance and Foreign Policy contains the following:
“Protection of the [Islamic] Resistance and recognition that it is a genuine Lebanese manifestation of our right to liberate our lands from any occupation …
The translation is not the best, but the general drift is clear (and it’s consistent with Nasrallah said). There is little doubt but that anybody who joined the Lebanese Government on this basis is, in Bush’s terms, a supporter of terrorism.
It is worth noting that the Lebanese Army website also recognises the role of Hezbollah in ending Israeli occupation and its continuing role today :
“The national resistance
which is confronting the Israeli occupation is not a guerilla and it has no
security role inside the country and its activities are restricted to facing
the Israeli enemy. This resistance led to the withdrawal of the enemy from the
bigger part of our occupied land and is still persistent to free the farms of
Shebaa. Preserving this resistance
constitutes a Lebanese strategic interest [my emphasis] with the aim of
relating the struggle with the enemy and regain all the Lebanese legitimate
rights achieving and at the forefront the withdrawal of
Again the translation is not the best, but the drift is clear. Clearly, the Lebanese Army also supports terrorism, in Bush’s terms.
Q: You started by saying that you’re ready to help train and equip the Lebanese army.
Q: Even if elements of Hezbollah elements are integrated into this army considering that it represents a large portion of the population?
SM: Hezbollah is a terrorist group. We’re ready to work with the Lebanese Government.
Q: So you’re saying that you are willing to train and equip and help a Lebanese army that is free of Hezbollah elements?
SM: We are ready to train and equip Lebanese armed forces when the conditions on the ground are right.)
Other aspects of statement
There are other interesting aspects
to the Lebanese Government policy statement.
On prisoners held by
“the commitment to continue follow-up on all Lebanese prisoners and missing in Israeli jails.”
“A commitment to the Beirut Arab League Initiative (namely recognizing the State of Israel if Israel agrees to return to the 1967 borders) and the respect for all UN resolutions and international law and legitimacy.
“A belief in the right of return of the Palestinian refugees ….”
In a section entitled Lebanese-Syrian Relations:
“Rebuild excellent Lebanese-Syrian relations; excellent in its depth, strength, transparency, and equality; excellent in putting its common interests above all considerations; excellent in meticulously implementing the memoranda of understandings among both countries.
“A commitment to
coordinate with the Syrians in negotiating any peace settlement with
This is noteworthy because this Government is presented in the West as anti-Syrian, unlike its predecessors.
Hasan Nasrallah speaks
In his Al Jazeera interview , Hasan Nasrallah argued that Hezbollah’s kidnapping of Israeli soldiers in order to exchange them for Lebanese prisoners was in line with the Government statement, pointing out that it “talks about the Lebanese Government’s endorsement of resistance and its national right to liberate the land and the prisoners”.
In March 2006, a “national dialogue”
“Yes, I told them we would maintain the border calm. That was our policy. … I used to say there are four points, two of which can stand delaying, procrastination, and making reminders about them. No problem about that. The first issue was the continued occupation of the Shab’a farms. In this respect we can take our time. This is a limited piece of land. We do not want to go to war because of the farms, not a war like the one taking place now. The second issue is that of the air and maritime violations, and even the land violations. We can put up with these. Yes, violations of our sovereignty are condemned, but we would not raise hell because of them. However, there are two issues that can stand no postponement. The first is the prisoners’ issue, for this involves humanitarian suffering. The second is any attack on civilians.”
Specifically, on the prisoners’ issue, he said:
“I told them on more than one occasion that we are serious about the prisoners issue and that this can only [be] solved through the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. Of course, I used to make hints in that respect. Of course I would not be expected to tell them on the table I was going to kidnap Israeli soldiers in July. That could not be.”
So, Hezbollah regarded its
kidnapping of Israeli soldiers on
In this interview, Nasrallah also
said that neither
“True, I had not informed the Lebanese Government, but neither had I
informed my closest allies.
He was also at pains to
state that Hezbollah’s actions had not been carried out in pursuit of the
“Are we that crazy, that I and my brothers want to sacrifice our souls, our families, our honourable masses, and our dear ones in order to have Syria return to Lebanon, or to postpone the international tribunal, or for the sake of the Iranian nuclear file. Can you imagine such statements! This is an insult. It is an insult to our patriotism and commitment.
“Yes, we are friends of
“Never! Hezbollah has
never taken advantage of these friendships except for the benefit of
“Yes, the result of this
The “international community”
And on the “international community”:
“Politically, the international community, first, has never been with us.
So I cannot say that is not with us, isolating, and forsaking us just today. It
has never been with us. Moreover, it has mostly been against. For example, we
have been listed on the
international community adopts international resolutions of which
Never has a truer word been spoken.
Labour & Trade Union Review