Sayyed Nasrallah’s Full Speech Tackling Latest Political Developments on December 13, 2019
Translated by Staff
Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s speech tackling latest local political developments
I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan. In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and prayers and peace be upon our Master and Prophet, the Seal of Prophets, Abi al-Qassem Muhammad Bin Abdullah and his good and pure household and his good and chosen companions and all the prophets and messengers.
Peace and Allah's mercy and blessing be upon you all.
I felt it was my duty to address you today following a month-long hiatus. I speak to you in light of recent developments and the sensitive moment we find ourselves in, especially regarding the appointment of the prime minister and the formation of the government.
Of course, today’s address is all about the situation in Lebanon despite very important regional issues. But I will devote the time to the Lebanese situation.
I want to talk about four topics. Two are long, and the other two are shorter.
The first point concerns recent American statements and the US approach to the situation in Lebanon. This is very important. The second topic is about the government – where we currently stand and where we are heading. The third point concerns security. The fourth includes some remarks on living conditions.
The first point: how the Americans are dealing with the situation. This isn’t only relevant when it comes to Lebanon but all countries in the world. When protests, demonstrations, sit-ins or popular movements erupt in any country, we quickly find US interference. They may not have anything to do with these movements, demonstrations, revolutions or popular uprisings. But when something of this sort erupts in any country, we find the Americans rushing to exploit and employ these demonstrations, protests or popular movements to serve their interests and projects and not the interests and aspirations of the protestors.
They take advantage of the demonstrations, openly and shamelessly. They portray to the world that they are the ones running these demonstrations and protests, regardless whether it is true or not. They declare their support and backing for these movements, demonstrations and protests. They also announce their willingness to provide assistance. But in reality, they will provide help and assistance to those who serve American interests and projects and meet US conditions.
This is the general rule. We saw this during the Arab Spring. We are seeing this in Latin America, Hong Kong and countries across Asia and Europe. We even see this in countries allied to or friendly with the US.
This is typical American behavior. Now, let us apply this to Lebanon, and the brothers in the region and from around the world who are facing similar circumstances.
In Lebanon after October 17, protests started in a number of areas as a result of the government’s wrong decision to impose some fees and taxes.
Since I am talking about the Americans, I will remind you about Feltman’s lengthy testimony just days after the demonstrations started. He also summoned Lebanese people to the US Congress. They gave testimony that expressed their personal opinions. Then things escalated from there. We then heard the US secretary of state, his aides and members of Congress talk, interfere and set conditions. All this, of course, was met with silence because this is not interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs! This went on until yesterday or the day before yesterday when the US envoy at the UN Security Council and US Secretary of State Pompeo spoke.
I actually want to focus on what these two said.
Let me just remind you of what the Americans said in the early days of the demonstrations in Lebanon. Let us start with the remarks from the UN envoy [Kelly] Craft.
“We are going to see upheaval whether in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, wherever it [Iran] is,” [Craft said]. The upheaval is not the result of corruption, righteous demands, unemployment, an economic crises and oppression. This means that if the U.S. maximum pressure campaign does not produce results, the upheaval will continue.
“We have a lot of tools to use and we will continue to use those with Iran.” This means that these protests are American tools. They are saying this. I am not accusing anyone. The Americans see the protests and demonstrations in Iraq, Syria and Yemen as tools used to pressure Iran to stop its “malicious behavior”.
We will talk about Pompeo’s remarks a bit later. From the start, the Americans assumed that the demonstrations in Lebanon on October 17, 18, and 19, the climax of the protests during which large numbers of people took to the streets, were against Iran. Even though, the protesters did not raise any slogans related to Iran or Iranian influence during the first and subsequent days of the protests. The grievences were domestic in nature related to social, financial, economic and political issues.
The Americans also assumed that these demonstrations are a revolution by the Lebanese people against Hezbollah and against the weapons of the resistance. Of course, some Arab and Gulf media outlets helped them get to this conclusion. Even though during the climax of the demonstrations, no one mentioned Hezbollah or the weapons of the resistance. On the contrary, Hezbollah was being asked to join the movement. How could they rise against Hezbollah at a time when they are calling for it to join them and admonishing it for not joining the movement? But this is what the Americans assumed. It is either that they are fooling themselves and lying to themselves or they are fooling the world. Lebanese reports covering these events might also be providing false and misleading information. However, this assessment of the demonstrations in Lebanon is wrong.
Of course, do not be surprised. The Americans might not be lying to the world or to themselves all the time. No, they might have wrong information. And a lot of American failures in foreign policy arose from wrong assessments based on wrong and misleading information from their agents, tools or friends.
In any case, the Americans naturally want to utilize any demonstrations. What do the Americans want to use the protests in Lebanon for? They want to solve their own problem and not the problem of the Lebanese people. Pompeo said this a few months back when he visited Lebanon. He also repeated this a few days ago. As if the problem in Lebanon and the Lebanese people is Hezbollah. As if the impasse in Lebanon is because of Hezbollah.
According to Pompeo, the Lebanese people should get rid of this problem, threat and impasse. This is their responsibility, and the U.S. is ready to help the Lebanese people eliminate this threat. Is this the reality of the situation in Lebanon? Of course, one of the funnier and more striking claims by Pompeo is that the U.S. is ready to help the Lebanese people remove Hezbollah from their system and country. [Removing us] from their system, we get it. The Americans want to help the Lebanese people remove Hezbollah from the government, from administrative posts and from the parliament. It is difficult to apply because no electoral law can eliminate Hezbollah. They are trying to play this game in other countries. But the Americans know that whatever the electoral law is, it cannot remove Hezbollah from the parliament because of its extensive popularity.
But the funny thing is how the Americans want to remove us from their country. They think Hezbollah came from Arab and Islamic countries, from Africa, from Asia and from Latin America. I don’t know. Should we make it clear to them that we have been Lebanese for hundreds of years and not more than ten years. All of this indicates the absurdity of the American approach to this issue.
Here, it is clear how the Americans are taking advantage of the situation to solve their problem. I will not waste your time talking about statements other than those from the “Israelis’” and the Americans’. The others are just add-ons. If we look at “Israeli” statements, including those of Netanyahu, current and former chiefs of staff and ministers, we find that they see this as a golden and appropriate opportunity to pressure Hezbollah, isolate it, weaken it and disarm it, or at the very least secure concessions from Lebanon by signing an oil and gas agreement along the disputed territories.
Hence, even the “Israelis” have come to solve their problem in Lebanon. They do not have any sympathy for the Lebanese. Neither the Americans nor the “Israelis” sympathize with the Lebanese people.
I would like to comment on what Pompeo said. Of course, I will read the text for you for the sake of accuracy. After talking about putting pressure on Lebanon, he says ‘But the responsibility lies with the Lebanese people. The responsibility for how the Government of Lebanon will be formed and shaped falls to the Lebanese people to demand Lebanese sovereignty, Lebanese prosperity, Lebanese freedom from influence, from outside entities.’ Except for America, of course.
Pompeo adds, ‘We have a designated terrorist organization there, Hizballah, and the – I know that the people of Lebanon understand the risk that that presents to their freedom, their capacity to deliver for themselves.’ Where did he get this realization from, this understanding!
He continues, ‘This is not an American proposition; it is the – a proposition of the Lebanese people.’
Now, Pompeo has become the official, honest and faithful spokesman for the convictions and opinions of the Lebanese people! Did the Americans come and conduct opinion polls in Lebanon and concluded that this is the opinion of the Lebanese people? Or did they conduct a referendum and found that this is the opinion of the Lebanese people? Did the elections that were held nearly two years ago and under the best law in the history of the Lebanese state express the opinion of the Lebanese people that Pompeo is talking about? This is standard American deception.
‘And we do stand ready to do the things that the world can do to assist the Lebanese people of getting their economy righted, getting their government righted,’ Pompeo says.
The first point I want to comment on is that he says that Hezbollah is a danger to the Lebanese people.
Pay attention! The Americans want to solve their problem and the problem of “Israel” and not the problem of the Lebanese. Hezbollah, yes, proudly, is a danger to “Israel”, to its ambitions, its threat, its project, its hegemony and its control. And we all know “Israel's” ambitions regarding land and water. Now, we should also add oil and gas. So, is Hezbollah a threat? Yes, it is a real threat. It is the primary threat, constituting the main force in the resistance alongside other Lebanese resistance factions. They know this. The Lebanese state alone without the effectiveness of the resistance, would face difficulties. We all witnessed this along the border.
Even though the Lebanese Supreme Council of Defense decided not to allow the “Israelis” to build walls on disputed areas, the “Israelis” disregarded everyone and built walls. They simply did it because the resistance left this matter to the state and because we did not say we will prevent them. If we had said that we would prevent the building of walls, you would have seen how the “Israelis” would think twice before building walls. And now, there is the issue of the ships. A ship came to explore Lebanese territorial waters in the economic zone. This matter is left to the state. However, “Israel” knows that if the resistance made a firm decision to shoulder this responsibility that it is currently leaving to the state, they would not be able to build walls. Also, no one would be able to enter Lebanese waters to explore on behalf of “Israel” or do anything related to oil and gas for “Israel”.
Yes, Hezbollah is a threat to American hegemony projects in Lebanon and the region, including Condoleezza Rice’s new Middle East. Hezbollah’s presence on many battlefields is no secret. It is something we take pride in. It is true that what happened in Syria and elsewhere is a point of contention in the country. Hence, Hezbollah is a threat to American interests and projects and not to Lebanese national interests and the Lebanese people. On the contrary, it is the defender of the Lebanese people, their freedom, dignity, security, stability and honor.
Now, the Americans and the “Israelis” were not able to address this threat. So, they have come to take advantage of Lebanon’s economic, financial and living situations to address this threat. They have come to take advantage of this situation not to solve it. It is as if they are saying ‘O Lebanese people, this is a threat. You should address it. If you want us to help you, address this problem for us.’ They want the Lebanese people to shoulder this responsibility and make it their problem. It is not their problem but rather “Israel’s” problem and the problem of the American hegemon and its projects in the region.
This is number one. Why would the Americans want the Lebanese people to shoulder the responsibility of solving its problem and that of “Israel”? Because the Americans and the “Israelis” have failed for decades to address the threat from the resistance. The wars, the regional situation, the assassinations, the sanctions, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to defame the resistance and inciting the supporters of the resistance against it all failed to address this threat. What happened recently is a huge failure for the Americans as well, even though they are lying to themselves. I do not want to go into details. And the opinion polls that they conducted also confirmed that they had failed in this matter. Therefore, all the methods used to confront the resistance in Lebanon and get rid of what they consider a threat to their ambitions and projects failed. So, you, the Lebanese people, will solve this problem if you want us to help you. Is this called assistance or blackmail? Do these people really care about Lebanon, the Lebanese people, the poor and the needy in Lebanon? Are they helping them from a humanitarian and moral perspective and in accordance with international and human rights law, or is this a form of blackmail practiced by the US administration and the “Israeli” government against the Lebanese people? What are the Americans proposing? Give up your strength, your defensive capability, abandon what could protect your sovereignty, oil, gas and water, in the hope that we will help you. Feltman gave us two options either "sure hunger” or “possible uprising". He was honest here when he said “possible uprising” because it is still unclear if there will be an uprising.
Before I talk about the government, there is another point I want to make. Do you trust the promises of the American administration? I ask you not to trust them. Look at U.S. allies and friends around the world. Look at how it abandons them. Look at how it leaves them in the middle of the desert to face threats, how it humiliates them, how it blackmails them, how it milks them, how it steals from them. This is America. Do you trust America and this American administration?
Third, stay away from these countries. I will not name these countries because they include Arab countries, and I do not want to cause more problems for Lebanon. There are countries that have submitted to U.S. conditions. These countries lost their leading regional role and turned into ordinary countries despite the fact that they used to be very important in the region and in the world. They did this in exchange for support and assistance. Have they overcome their economic, financial and social crises, or are they moving from one crisis to another, from one problem to another? Look at this and learn from the experiences others have had with the U.S. and with some international institutions.
They want us to give up our strength and be subject to guardianship. They want us to abandon our country’s independence and our sovereign decision-making process. I call on the Lebanese people to be vigilant, not to be influenced by these misleading calls and not to accept incitement because what the Americans are doing is incitement. They are inciting Lebanese people against each other, pushing towards sedition or chaos.
Frankly speaking, I tell the Lebanese people if they cooperate with each other, use their minds, knowledge, will and capabilities, they will be able to get out of the current crisis, deadlock and dilemma. We are in this situation because of divisions and severe difference in opinions. The country is not in this situation because of diversity. It is the result of sectarianism as well as calculations based on partisan and regional affiliations.
But if we rise above all this, sit with each other, agree that Lebanon is in a state of emergency and agree to join minds, hands, fists and capabilities, we will certainly be able as Lebanese to save our country from the current financial and economic crisis.
Before I conclude with the first part, I would like to point out something important. Recently there have been some external actors, some of which are from the Gulf, that are working from time to time on fabricating or distorting statements issued by Iranian officials. They fabricate statements from an official, minister, president, and a commander in the Revolutionary Guards or the army. When you run a fact check, you find that they did not say that. They did not even issue a statement. They invented his speech. Or he might have issued a statement, but they misquote him. Of course, the objective is to provoke some Lebanese people who quickly get excited before making sure or asking questions about the truth. For example, when they listen to Pompeo, they understand English. They do not need anyone to translate for them and to say that there was a mistake in the translation. The same when they listen to Craft and Feltman. They are not affected, and the sovereignty is remains intact.
But as soon as they find a provocative statement on a social media account or a news agency hostile to Iran, we start seeing articles and reactions, including calls for President Aoun and other officials to take a stance or else. And this happened a few days ago when the statement of one of the brothers in the leadership of the Revolutionary Guards was misquoted. We simply called them. I was one of the people when I saw the statement, I said that this is definitely not logical, and it was impossible for one of the brothers in the Revolutionary Guards to have spoken in this language. And when I went back and looked at the text in Farsi – and I happened to understand Farsi – he did not even mention Lebanon or that if “Israel” attacked Iran, we will destroy “Israel” from Lebanon. Lebanon was not even mentioned in his whole statement. They added Lebanon to the statement. All hell broke loose among some people who did not make sure. We went back to our brothers in Iran, and they said that this is not true. He did not say this, and we have the full statement. The Iranians issued a statement, and we thanked them. They were even respectful in the way they dealt with the comments made by the Lebanese defense minister.
There are people who insist on making up or misquote statements for Iranian officials to provoke some Lebanese people, to corner the president and a lot of state officials and also to corner Hezbollah, its allies and its friends as well as Iran’s allies and friends. This is intentional. This is part of the media and psychological warfare that is currently taking place. Therefore, I wish that nobody gets provoked and upset. Wait and see if these statements if these statements are issued by Iranian officials or if these statements are wrong and untrue. Certainly, neither the brothers in Iran nor us accept this.
I would like to add something here that is out of context. But I want to take advantage of the statement that was quoted to provide information and send a message. Some imagine that if Iran were to be attacked, it would count on its allies to retaliate. I want to give the Americans, the “Israelis” and everyone accurate information. Whoever attacks Iran, Iran will respond to them. The Islamic Republic of Iran, even from a moral standpoint, does not accept to stay silent and rely on its friends and allies to retaliate. Now, how its allies and friends will behave in case Iran was attacked is their business. But when it comes to the Islamic Republic of Iran, that is not the case. If the “Israelis” attack the Islamic Republic, Iran itself will retaliate. If the Americans attack the Islamic Republic, Iran itself will retaliate. Therefore, these statements, which are mainly attributed to Iranian officials, contradict the policies and methodology of the leadership in Iran. This is just to reassure those who are worried. In any case, we conclude this part by repeating what I said on day one. This applies to Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and other places. Anyone who has a problem and wants to demonstrate and protest or even fight for his demands must not allow the Americans and the “Israelis” to take advantage of their movement, their demonstrations, their positions and their protests in the interest of America and “Israel” because this will be a very big national loss.
I move on to talk about the government. Since the first few days, since October 17, I gave an address on Imam Hussein’s Arbaeen and spoke about the government. I said very clearly that we do not agree on resignation of the government. And I mentioned the reason why. Among the reasons I mentioned was that if the government resigned, it will be difficult to form a new government in Lebanon, and it will take time. And this is not in the interest of the country because the financial and economic situation cannot tolerate a vacuum. The living situation cannot tolerate vacuum. I spoke about this on Saturday on October 19. Then, after several days, the prime minister submitted his resignation, and of course that means the government’s resignation.
Up until today, it’s been two months. We’ve always had a problem forming a government. Now, we not only have a problem in the formation of the government, but we also have a problem in appointing [someone to head the government]. Later on, I will say which direction we are heading towards. But this is the situation.
In any case, God willing, consultations are supposed to be conducted on Monday. We hope that a mandate will be given to those chosen by the majority of votes to be charged with forming a government. But also the appointment process will not be an easy task. In any case, all this time that was lost before and now, we pray to God that no more time is wasted. This time lost is lost from the Lebanese people and their interest. On the other hand, in our opinion, the best situation that we talked about more than once is for the government to remain and for the protests and demonstrations to continue.
In the early days of the protest, I said that we will not join you. But I said, you stay in the fields and squares. That is during the first few days. Of course, after that on Friday, I asked the supporters of the resistance to leave. And I mentioned the reasons why. The best situation was for the government to remain and for the protests and demonstrations to continue because this could have been a means to put pressure on the government – it actually did put pressure on the government – to take reform steps as well as quick and effective procedures and measures, whether in the government or in the parliament, and to achieve a lot of things that serve the interest of the Lebanese people economically and financially. We saw at that time one of the fastest achievements was a budget without taxes and fees. If we had continued like this and if the government stayed for a month, two months and three months, and the people remained putting pressure and protesting, the government would have been ready and mentally qualified to meet, do serious work and introduce the reforms.
But practically, when the government resigned, there was no one left to respond to the demands. There was no one left to introduce reforms. There was no one left to take measures and action. When the prime minister resigned, apparently, some in the movement considered it a victory and an achievement. But actually, the resignation of the prime minister and the government led to a waste of time. First, it prevented the parliament from working. It led to the disruption of the institutions that are supposed to introduce reforms, meet the demands and listen to the pains of the people and the protesters. In my opinion, matters got worse. What has happened from that day until today? Prices hiked. Many commodities in the market are not available anymore. People are being threatened with gasoline, bread, medicine, hospitals, strikes, laying off workers, companies announcing bankruptcy, increase in unemployment, crises in banks, deposits and depositors, disruption in security, robberies, cutting off roads, confrontations on the streets, throwing garbage at the doorsteps of officials – this is a new phenomenon. I do not know where they got it from –affecting the holiday season and decline of confidence in the country, etc.
Had the government remained and the people continued to protest and pressure the government peacefully and without insults and inappropriate behavior, we would not be where we are right now. I am not holding any side responsible. Everyone who brought the country to this current situation bears responsibility. Practically, when the government resigned the priority was no longer about medicines, hunger, job opportunities and the economic and financial situation. The talk became about who will be the next prime minister, how will the government be formed, will it be a technocrat government or a government of expert, politicians or techno-politicians. What do the Americans want? What do the Europeans want? What are x person’s conditions? Will this person accept or not?
Hence, the country headed towards another place that has nothing to do with the reasons the people took to the streets on October 17 for. Let us look closely to what happened. Some might not agree with this assessment. In any case, this is our point of view, our assessment and our opinion. In any case, after the resignation of the prime minister, we became in a new situation where the country is need of a government. The country needs a government. This means that the political forces, and in particular the parliamentary majority, have a new challenge ahead of them which is forming a government.
Why am I saying the parliamentary majority? Yes, we are part of the current parliamentary majority. The parliamentary majority bears the primary responsibility for forming a government because any government in Parliament needs the vote of confidence of the parliamentary majority. There is a special sense of responsibility. In addition, the Lebanese president is also essential in this majority and in this great political camp. Hence, we have some choices. This is what I wanted to say. It is not that I am talking about the past but because this debate is still continuing. And I would like to speak transparently with the Lebanese people since this concerns you, your fate and your future and present. We had choices. These choices were not assumptions. Discussions were held, articles were written, and comments were made regarding these choices. There were officials belonging to our political camp or allies and friends who have expressed their stances for or against some of these options. And we respect all these opinions. The first option was to form a government of one color, as they say in Lebanon, which includes the Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah, the Amal Movement, the Consultative Meeting [parliamentary bloc], the Marada Movement, the rest of our friends, the Nationalist Party, etc. Hopefully, we did not forget anyone. Of course, we have forgotten some. So, go ahead form a government of one color. Give us a majority in the Parliament and name a prime minister with a majority. When he becomes [prime minister] designate, you can form a government that would gain the vote of confidence. So, go ahead and shoulder your responsibility. There were also some in the other camp calling for this option and inciting on it. They were saying go ahead and form your government and bear your responsibility.
Of course, there were two opinions in our political camp. One opinion which said let us go ahead with this step, and another opinion was opposed to going forward with this step. There is no doubt that taking such a step requires great courage, and there are many courageous people within our political camp. Everyone is courageous. It does not mean that those who opposed this option which is forming a government of one color is a coward and not courageous. The matter is related to identifying the interests of the country and the dangers against it, especially at this unique stage. When we approach this issue, we, Hezbollah, are against the formation of a one-color government. The same with the brothers in the Amal movement. The positions of the rest of the colleagues are known because they expressed them. But we and the Amal movement not speak about our opinion in the media because we were still discussing it internally. Now, there is talk about the constitution preventing the formation of a government of one color. There is a jurisprudence regarding some articles in the Lebanese constitution that say that you cannot form a government of one color that excludes major sects or major parties in main sects.
I do not want to discuss the constitution. I do not want to discuss jurisprudence related to a certain article of the Lebanese constitution. Put this discussion aside. This needs jurisprudence. I want to discuss the national interests. I want to discuss the dangers to the country.
First of all, I would like to remind everyone that before this current parliament, that is the two previous parliaments, the parliamentary majority was for the opposing camp. But we and our political allies requested the other camo to form a national unity government based on the national Lebanese interest. The higher interest requires that there be a government that includes all the main parties and sects in the country. When they were the majority, we did not accept them to form a government of one color. We requested from them to form a national unity government. Now that we are the parliamentary majority and to be fair to ourselves and with our proposals and our past, we should not opt for a majority government or a government of one color. Now that we are the majority, we must abide by what we requested from the others when they were the majority. This is in principle. Now, the country is going through the most dangerous economic and financial crisis in its history. Hence, any government that wants to address this financial and economic crisis basically needs internal stability and internal calm in Lebanon. That is, it needs the people to go back to their schools, universities, farms, factories, and jobs. Production should resume. Tourism should resume. Imports and exports should resume. We are talking about a financial and an economic crisis.
But if a one-color government is formed in light of the existing tension that will escalate – blocking roads, demonstrations, doubts in the constitution, doubts in the representation and accusations regarding the Taif agreement – how would it be able to address the crisis with these threats?
Also, overcoming the crisis requires everyone’s cooperation and not evading responsibility for the current situation in Lebanon. This is also inconsistent with a one-color government. There are those opposing and others with this kind of government. There are political, media and popular factors. Any salvation government will be forced to take not so popular measures and steps. So, when it is a government of one color, there are those who are not included in it waiting for it to make a mistake. Then, we will head to more tension and political bickering. Why? Then, the whole situation will enter chaos.
Apart from it being a government of one color, there are threats from abroad. In the current government, our presence is limited. I have explained this matter in more than one occasion. There is no need to repeat. Yet, there are people who say that this is a Hezbollah government, even though it is not. Therefore, if we were to have a one-color government, it will be criticized for being a Hezbollah government much more so than before. Does this serve Lebanon’s current interest? Of course, it is not in Lebanon’s interest.
If I want to take into consideration the partisan and sectarian interests in a one-color government, we will be the strongest and most influencial. This is not in the interest of the country or the Lebanese people.
In the same context, if we talk about another one-color government. Let us call this suggestion the second option, even though it is one color. The second option is for the Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah, the Amal movement, the rest of the friends and allies say we do not want to participate in the government. So, you, the Future Movement and the rest of their friends and allied political forces go ahead and form a government and shoulder the responsibility. This is an existing and proposed suggestion. Let them take responsibility. If the country is going to collapse, why should it collapse on us whilst we are partners. Let it collapse on their heads. We also disagree with this suggestion. We disagree with this suggestion because it does not serve the interest of the country. If you were to ask me what is more comfortable for you? Yes, it would be to leave [the government]. But can the country handle it under current circumstances? Is it required to save the country or to see who we should hold responsible if the country were to collapse!? Should we be responsible, should they or should this party or that movement? Does the national responsibility require this? Or does the national responsibility require that everyone shoulder the responsibility, take part, attend, and make concessions and cooperate to save the country? This is the national responsibility. I also have a question. If we want to say that you, the other camp, form a one-color government, how will they take the vote of confidence in the Parliament? We are the majority. If we give them the vote of confidence that means we are responsible. If we don't want to give them the vote of confidence this means we are calling for vacuum. This is not a realistic and logical. Therefore, a government of one color including us alone or consisting of the other team alone in our opinion is an inappropriate option, does not serve national interest and does nothing to help save the country at this stage.
The third and fourth options are based on the idea of partnership with the largest representation possible. I do not want to say a national unity government. As you know, last time I said that even the government that has recently resigned, cannot be called a national unity government because there are respected political parties in the country that are not included in the government. Let us say a government of national partnership, a government with the largest possible representation. There are some who proposed that the popular movement participate in this government. We said we have no problem. However, a problem will arise later on when the movement or someone in the movement want to name their representatives in the government. The popular movement says we have no leadership. It did not even accept to form a delegation to hold talks with His Excellency the President, nor did it accept to present official spokespersons in its name. How will this popular movement in Lebanon present ministers to represent it? Anyway, this is a dilemma that we will face when we start the formation of the government.
The common point between the third and fourth options is that we are calling for a partnership government, a government with the largest representation. This option does not contradict with the constitution or any jurisprudence related to the Taif Agreement. On the contrary, it agrees that everyone should take responsibility, ensure stability domestically, calm the situation on the street and work with a sense of responsibility. But the difference between the third and fourth options has to do with the prime minister. The third option entails a government led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri. We had no problem with this option from the start. But of course, what is being said in the media or in some gatherings that we are holding on to this option and are not accepting any other is not true. The proof is the fourth option that we accepted and moved forward with. So, the third option is a government headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri. We did not have any problem. We agreed on it, and we have been calling on the government headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri not to resign. Hence, this is the third option. However, this option was not achieved because Prime Minister Saad Hariri set a number of conditions that most of our political camp or all of our political camp found them inappropriate or incorrect. Some these conditions were inappropriate, and others aimed to exclude [some political parties]. So, we had to negotiate these conditions and address them. Thus, this led to moving to the fourth option.
In the fourth option, we are talking about a government that includes the majority, the Future Movement and other political factions. Option four involved Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the Future movement suggesting a candidate that will represent the Sunnis and is approved by the parliamentary majority since it will be the one voting for him and giving his government the vote of confidence in Parliament. Hence, it was natural that the majority should agree on him. We accepted this option, and names were suggested. The first name was Mr. Safadi. We did not suggest this name. I will not say who and how it was suggested. This is a detail. But this name was mentioned. It was presented to us, and we accepted it. We said we had no problem. After that certain events took place, and this came to an end.
Another person was named. We did not suggest him. Former Minister Bahij Tabbara’s name was suggested. We said we have no problem, and we accepted it. Also, this came to an end. Then, a third person, Mr. Samir Al-Khatib, was named. We did not suggest him. So, there were three names that were agreed upon, and the matter was almost solved. But it failed. We were not the ones who took the initiative and suggested these names. These names were suggested to us. We said we did not have a problem. If Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the Future Movement agree, this helps. This means that you are working according to the constitution and working on this partnership. We also said that they must agree and participate in the government as well.
Regarding the issue of Mr. Samir Al-Khatib, the name and the basic principles of government were agreed upon. Of course, we did not get into names and dossiers because this comes after the appointment. But in the final hours before the consultations, the matter also came to an end. I also do not want to go into details. The consultations were postponed. His Excellency the President postponed the consultations based on the wishes of the parliamentary blocs. Most of the main parliamentary blocs requested from the President to postpone the consultations for several days to see what can be done.
So, this third option is on the table and is still on the table. But of course, Prime Minister Saad Hariri must ease some of the conditions that he talked about. The fourth option is still on the table. If they once again agree on any other name to head the government and form a partnership government, even for a transitional period, we are open to it. We have no problem, and we believe that the solution in the current situation lies with the third or fourth option.
The International Support Group said we they want a reformist government. Very good! We do not have a problem with a reformist government. A reformist government does not necessarily mean a government of technocrats or a political government or a techno-political government or a government of experts. Yes or no, we will discuss this later on. What is important is a capable government. A reformist government means a government capable of achieving the required reform, a real government that will save the country from the current situation. The reformist government requires everyone’s participation.
We rejected a one-color government and insisted that the Future movement must take part in this government. We also insist that the Free Patriotic Movement take part in this government. A government should not be formed on the basis of canceling or excluding any main political player that can significantly help in pushing the country toward salvation and rescue it.
On Monday, consultations are supposed to take place. Until this moment, the parliamentary blocs have not yet agreed on a name. On Monday, each block will name whoever their candidate without prior agreements. We will see what will happen on Monday. The Loyalty to the Resistance bloc will also expresses its position on Monday. I do not want to anticipate the situation from now. We hope that on Monday a candidate, who has the majority of votes or has the required number of votes, be designated. After the appointment, we talk about the government formation. Each party will then negotiate with the prime minister-designate. We will try to cooperate to form a government as soon as possible. This is what we have at the moment, unless something new happens between now and Monday evening. This is with regard to the government.
I will talk briefly about the security situation. Of course, I would like to thank many people in some places in Lebanon – in fact, it is not in several areas but all the Lebanese areas – who were and continue to be patient with the roadblocks. We all know the disadvantages and dangers of these roadblocks and the tragedies that befell some people because of them. Throughout this period, people were humiliated. They suffered hardships. They faced dangers. Some people were martyred because of these roadblocks. But the people were patient and endured the hardship. They were mindful and responsible everywhere. Certainly, in some place, some people wanted to sow chaos. They wanted people to clash by spreading rumors, some of which were new and others old. This caused tension in more than one place. But many people were patient and showed endurance. I call on these people to exercise more self-restraint. God willing, we are at the final stages of the situation. God willing, we are nearing the solution. Hence, whoever is blocking roads for whatever reason, will soon have no justification. But until then, we need to be more patient and more vigilant. So far, people have avoided clashes and dangerous confrontations.
Second of all, we also need to control some of the street clashes and some tensions that moved from place to place. Some Gulf and Western media outlets portray the Hezbollah and Amal supporters and members attacked and assaulted people. That is not true. Hezbollah and the Amal movement never made a decision of this kind. Rather, they formed committees to control the people. There was a lot of provocation taking place. Those who know it, know it. Those who are behind it also know it. Our supporters, Amal and Hezbollah supporters, exercised a lot of self-restraint.
Yes, in some cases, emotions and anger spiraled out of control, but once again we took action to control of the situation. Even though there are provocations, yet they should be met with self-restraint. To all the people and individuals who tend to get provoked and tense, I call on them to exercise self-restraint and vigilance and to be patient. You have to follow me on this because regarding this matter, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, myself, the leadership of Hezbollah or the leadership of the Amal Movement all agree to preserve calm and not be dragged into a problem or tension. We all agree that this is not in our or the country’s best interest.
Frankly speaking, it reflects negatively on our supporters and environment, especially some slogans and practices.
Emotions must be controlled, and we must practice the utmost self-restraint. We must not give neither our enemies nor our opponents nor those who wish us harm anything to offend us with or use against us.
Hezbollah made no such decision, nor did the Amal movement. And when Hezbollah, the Amal movement and the rest of the allies make a decision to take to the streets, they know how to do so and how to organize and manage themselves and raise their slogans because their movement will be purposeful, specific and focused a certain objective.
Anyway, this needs to be controlled. It is clear that the Lebanese army and the security services are more serious in opening roads. This should be noted. We call on the Lebanese army and army command as well as the security services to quickly address the situation whenever roads are blocked. It must not continue for hours. They should respond quickly. It is known that these people who are blocking roads do not have any cover today, not political, not popular and not even cover from a party. We even hear from some who identify themselves as leaders of the movement say they do not agree with this type of practices.
They should also not be lenient towards security problems such as theft and kidnappings taking place. If the Lebanese security services showed lenience or considered that the situation does not call for it to interfere, this matter will increase and become dangerous. This implies to the people to take matter into their own hands and see how they will defend their shops, pharmacies and neighborhoods. This is dangerous and completely inappropriate.
Regarding the security situation, the Lebanese people have so far exercised a high level of responsibility, and they are called upon to continue acting responsibly. God willing, we are approaching an end to this situation.
The last point is regarding the livelihood. Of course, until a government is formed, we will continue to call on the caretaker government to shoulder its responsibilities. Neither the prime minister nor the ministers in the government can consider themselves to be no longer responsible. No, they are responsible towards the people and towards God in this world and in the afterlife. They are responsible in accordance with the mandate granted to them by the law as officials in the caretaker government. Therefore, they should assume responsibility, especially if the formation of the government takes time. the caretaker government has to take responsibility regarding the financial situation, the economic situation and livelihood, etc.
Until that takes place, people also have to take social responsibility, what we call social solidarity.
Today, a lot is being said about some people's attempts to take advantage of the current situation in the country and increase the prices. I will not name anyone, for example some bakeries, pharmacies, fuel and merchants. I am not talking about a specific group of people. I am talking about anyone who is selling something far a price. There is talk that there are entities that take advantage of the situation in the country to raise prices. I would like to address these people and appeal to them. Now is not the time to raise the prices. There are some who are trying to increase their profit. For example, before their profit margin was 50%. Now they are trying to increase it to 60, 70 or 100%.
I would like to address this segment and tell them the following:
We need solidarity between all the people. It is said that when the economic situation collapses, it will collapse on everyone. Then, it will not be important anymore who will be saved and who won’t. no one will be spared. The entire country, all the people and all the areas will suffer harshly because of this collapse. So, we need solidarity and cooperation. Prices should not be raised. People should not work to raise profit. I even call on them to lower their profit.
There are individual initiatives in some shops, supermarkets bakeries, gas stations or pharmacies. These are individual initiatives. But what is more important is we all stand together and in solidarity with one another. We are not telling people not to profit or lose profit. In fact, no one will lose anything. Most of the debate has to do with the percentage of profits, even when profit rates are lowered. If we bear each other, we will preserve our social security, our country and the fabric of our society. We should help each other so that we can overcome it.
People should not take advantage of this situation to profit or monopolize and hide goods. Hiding goods is a crime, legally, religiously, morally and on the humanitarian level. Sometimes some forms of striking are meaningless to some syndicates. If there is a fuel problem, you cannot shut down gas stations. Look for other means to object and put pressure with those you have problems with. You can hold protests, sit-ins and even go on hunger strike. But closing gas stations, what will that do to the country? Another example, the syndicates will not like this, is when syndicates decide to close bakeries and cut off bread from the people. Anything related that concerns the people – gasoline, diesel, bread, medicines, hospitals – should not be toyed with. No one should gamble with these. Look for another means of putting pressure. The gasoline stations’ duty is to continue selling until they run out. The bakeries should continue selling bread until they run out of flour. And the pharmacies have an obligation to continue selling medicine until it runs out of stock. But you should not do this to people’s basic need just because there is a disagreement on the percentage of profit or something to do with imports and exports. This might be the reason. Whatever be the reason, the basic commodities that are important to people's lives must not be used to put pressure or counterpressure. We need this cooperation and this solidarity so that we can overcome the current, dangerous phase.
In conclusion, we hope that consultations take place on Monday. We hope that a candidate be designated and chosen by the votes. And when we have a prime minister-designate, then we will talk about the government, its formation and what is required from it. Perhaps discussions would then be more helpful and more serious because we would be addressing actual challenges.
May God help everyone and push away misfortune. I pray to Allah Almighty to help everyone to shoulder their national and historic responsibilities at this time to our country, preserve its security, civil peace and internal stability and to save it from the various crises.
May peace, Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you all.