Meanwhile, Hizbullah Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah tried in a speech to downplay Hizbullah’s role in forming the new government. The Hizbullah-affiliated Al-Manar TV quoted Nasrallah as saying, “Threats against Mikati will be useless and saying that he is Hizbullah’s candidate is wrong, because in 2009, he was running on Hariri’s list and he was a centrist man. These slogans are only to pressure Mikati, and we understand that this is aimed to incite sectarian strife.”
Nasrallah later continued, “The next prime minister will not be Hizbullah’s, nor will the next cabinet be. This is being propagated only to mobilize foreign powers against Lebanon, especially the US, Israel, and those involved in the Israeli–American project in the region.”
Lebanon’s governmental turmoil came out of disputes between Hizbullah’s group and Hariri’s faction due to the nation’s cooperation with the international Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which has been investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and could implicate Hizbullah members in the killing. After Hizbullah and its allies pulled out of the government to topple it politically, a rearrangement of support in parliament allowed their faction to name the next prime minister.
Nasrallah argued his group’s main focus was to be left alone, not to take over. “We are not power seekers. Before 2005, we did not take part in any cabinet. We never asked for a ministerial portfolio, administration, or government…We want two things from you: Leave us alone; don’t plot against us or backstab us.”
The US, meanwhile, appears to be taking a wait-and-see approach regarding the new government as it forms, although the Americans threatened that Hizbullah’s degree of involvement could harm ties between the two nations. The US has provided Lebanon with millions of dollars of military aid over the years.
Speaking to reporters, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “We are watching the situation closely and carefully in Lebanon. We are monitoring new developments. As you know, the government formation is just beginning. A Hizbullah-controlled government would clearly have an impact on our bilateral relationship with Lebanon.”
Clinton indirectly referenced Lebanese support for the STL investigation into the 2005 assassination and concerns about Iranian involvement in Lebanon as important to the US. “Our bottom lines remain as they always have been. First, we believe that justice must be pursued and impunity for murder ended. We believe in Lebanon’s sovereignty and an end to outside interference. So as we see what this new government does, we will judge it accordingly.”
Posted on January 26, 2011
Source: (By Joshua Spurlock, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, January 25, 2011)
Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org/Ricardo Stuckert
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