Full televised speech delivered by Hizbullah Secretary General, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, on the Lebanese presidential elections on Friday January 29, 2016.
In His Name
I take refuge in Allah from the stoned devil. In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Most Merciful. Peace be on the Seal of prophets, our Master and Prophet, Abi Al Qassem Mohammad, and on his chaste and pure Household and on his chosen companions and on all messengers and prophets. Peace be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings.
Tonight’s speech is dedicated to one topic, the presidential file and the presidential elections in Lebanon. However, allow me first to highlight some brief, recent developments.
Condemning the aggression against the mosque in al-Mahasen
We condemn the vicious attack staged by the Takfiris today against Imam Rida Mosque in the town of al-Mahasen in the Saudi region of al-Ahsaa, causing many casualties. We extend our solemn condolences to the families of the oppressed martyrs, and we ask Allah Almighty for the quick recovery of the wounded and for aid and steadfastness to be bestowed on the oppressed, targeted citizens there. This is a very dangerous incident that highlights the need to address the roots of terrorism and boost security measures that are necessary to protect citizens.
Offering condolences to Hamas
Second: Today we also witnessed in the Gaza Strip the funeral of seven resistance fighters from our brethren in the Ezzeddine al-Qassam Brigades, who were martyred while performing their jihadi duty while working in tunnels, which were/are one of the main arms of the resistance in Palestine against the previous or upcoming “Israeli” aggressions, or in confronting any threat.
Third: I offer my salutation of awe and grandeur to all those who are safeguarding the Lebanese borders. In these days, we have witnessed snow, very cold weather, and storms. Here on the coast the temperature was zero. What would really be the case for those on the top of high mountains? In fact, one feels ashamed before their steadfastness, perseverance, and sacrifices. We salute them and bow before the steadfastness, patience, and tolerance of the army’s officers and soldiers and the resistance men on top of the mountains in the snowy storms and in this very cold weather. The Lebanese people must appreciate the sacrifices, tolerance, and steadfastness of these heroes.
Fourth and last, before ushering into our main file, we are glad for the agreements that took place and led to the resumption of the Lebanese governmental work, and we are hoping that it will hold intensive sessions to catch up with all that was delayed. and that they will be committed to the agreed mechanisms. To avoid nagging about problems, we must laud the positive approach of all the political forces that led to addressing these complexities and thus leading to this outcome. Special thanks to Speaker Berri for his personal and intensified efforts and for putting up with the sufferings he went through in the past few weeks to reach these good results, and consequently, the reactivation of the governmental work.
On this occasion, we appeal to the cabinet that will meet Tuesday, forcefully affirming and hoping that it will be fair with the Civil Defense volunteers and agree to grant them their rights as a show of esteem to their great sacrifices and their industrious work and exposure to danger to save the lives of others. They really deserve this national, humane, noble, and moral stance which the cabinet must repay them with in its next session, God willing.
In the available time, I will try to tackle the presidential issue from most of the sides. Indeed, I will not manage to talk about everything. Some points of information or data will be kept till later; however, we will interpret what took place and what shaped our stance and vision, and how we will deal with this file in the coming stage. I will cover all of these points tonight God willing. But what I want to say now is that while preparing for tonight’s speech, I found a tradition that I would like to say at the beginning of my speech because it is a good aid offered by Imam Zain al-Aabideen, Ali bin Al-Hussein (Peace be upon them): “The best opening key to everything is honesty, and the best end of everything is loyalty”. It is a very nice saying. Everything has an opening key; the best of these keys is honesty in what we say, honesty in our commitment, and honesty in our stance, and the best end is loyalty.
Iran and the Lebanese presidential elections
We will move step by step.
The first point: In the context of my word, I will try to address and comment on some accusations because in past months we refrained from addressing the presidential issue in the media because in fact, there was something serious taking place that required direct action, dialogue, communication, and bilateral meetings. This is what we used to call for always. But unfortunately, overbidding, incitement, blackmail, settlements, and contests ruled for months, and are still ruling, and we were targeted many a time.
My answer to that comes in the form of several points.
The first point has to do with the accusations that Iran is obstruct the Lebanese Presidential file. This is the ever repeated symphony the latest hit of which is “Perhaps this is Iranian democracy.”
First, my address is to all the Lebanese. As for the Islamic Republic in Iran, the greatest, first (most) powerful regional country which the world recognized and is courting now, was never in need for the issue of Lebanon’s presidential to secure a nuclear agreement or any other accord.
Where is the evidence? Is everyone free to make whatever accusations? Let’s be a bit logical. Ask the 5+1 states. Praise be to Allah, the Lebanese have vast relations. Have you ever heard that Iran discussed the presidential elections in Lebanon or discussed Lebanon as a whole on the 5+1 negotiations table over the Iranian program? Grant me this, and I will do such and such in Lebanon. Settle this for me, and I will settle this in Lebanon. That never took place.
They moved in the agreement, as I used to say, the Iranians always used to refuse any discussions apart from the nuclear agreement: neither Iraq, nor Lebanon, nor Syria, nor any other issue. The agreement was signed despite “Israeli” and Saudi attempts to prevent its conclusion. Later there were attempts to prevent its being put to force but it was implemented anyway.
In the past few days, the Iranian President, His Eminence Sheikh Hassan Rouhani, went to Italy, the Vatican, and France. Ask your friends: had the Iranian delegation evoked the presidential elections in Lebanon, or was the other side taking the initiative to evoke this issue? If anyone is obstructing in order to invest in his international and regional relations, when will he do so? Over a year and a half had already passed and nothing of this sort took place.
On the contrary, the others are calling on Iran to intervene; still they used to have the decisive answer. Well, whoever has evidence or an indication that Iran is seeking to invest in the presidential elections in Lebanon for its interest, let him present his evidence for people to see. As for moving along in accusing people with no evidence, that is oppression, and if some people are really convinced in that, this would be ignorance and dumbness. If some people know that is not true but they make accusations anyway, that is oppression and part of the political game based on oppression, lying, and delusion.
Iran has nothing to do with this file. It does not intervene and will not intervene. Do not bother yourselves. Do not wait for Iran from the first day, to this day, to the future. You can ask. I myself yesterday made my contacts to be sure, though I am convinced, but I wanted to have precise data between my hands today on what took place between President Rouhani and President Hollande. Well, why don’t you ask? What will the French tell you? Who evoked the issue and what was the Iranian answer? This is Iran’s chance. It wants to have ties with Italy, France, the Vatican, and Europe and conclude agreements and accords. Now is Iran’s opportunity to sell and buy. Well, why did not Iran evoke the issue, and why when the issue was evoked to it, it answered with the answer we all know?: ‘this is a Lebanese internal issue, we support what the Lebanese themselves agree on. Talk with our allies, and see what they say. Let the Christian agree’. This is the rhetoric they use. This is what the Iranians say from the most senior official to the lowest official. So I hope that this issue is over. I don’t want to give it more time. Enough with this! If you are serious, there is no need to wait for Iran and the situation in the region. Go for internal dialogue which I will tackle at the end of my speech.
We must not wait for regional and international developments. I tell you again: do not be late and wait. The developments in the region and internationally are not in your interest even as another party. We told you that previously, and here we are telling you so again.
Praise be to Allah, Syria is not in the sphere of accusation because everyone believes or considers that Syria is preoccupied in confronting the global war taking place on its territories, though we hear some words to this effect from time to time. That’s why they focus on Iran.
On democracy in Iran, I would like to refresh the memories of some to the effect that over the past 37 years, Iran has hled more than 35 elections, whether presidential, municipal, parliamentary, or for the council of experts. During the eight-year-war launched by Saddam Hussein, who was supported by Saudi Arabia, the USA, the West, and internationally, on Iran, it did not suspend elections. In Lebanon, whether rightfully or not, we search for whatever pretext to run away from elections.
Under rockets and shelling, Iran never suspended or postponed elections at a time when some of your friends and dear ones did not conduct elections in their entire life. So please let everyone know his status when talking about the Islamic Republic and democracy in the Islamic Republic. So let’s put our feet on the ground, see our problems, and try to address them. In Iran, there is an Expediency Discernment Council which is a constitutional authority that mediates disputes erupting between constitutional institutions. While here, if a dispute took place, everything will be crippled because there is no constitutional authority. We hope the dialogue table we have becomes an expediency council. This council had set for Iran a so-called strategy for what it aspires for in the next 25 years on the economic, scientific, technological, technical, administrative, cultural, educational, social, political, military, and industrial levels. How are we in Lebanon to compare ourselves to the Expediency Discernment Council at a time when we don’t know how to solve the trash problem, (trash) which is accumulating in our streets and roads? Did you like me saying this? I will stop here.
Accusing Hizbullah of not seeking presidential elections
The second point is accusing Hizbullah incessantly that it does not want presidential elections, and that it wants to bargain over the issue of the election, and wants something in return for facilitating the vote. What does Hizbullah want in return? They alleged that Hizbullah wants a constituent assembly or constitutional amendments. Indeed there are people in the country who have nothing to do except talk and write and waste their time accusing others. Some say Hizbullah wants a greater share in state institutions. Where is our share in the country to talk about having a greater or a lesser share? This is nonsense.
When we spoke about a settlement, we did not mention a constituent assembly or amending the regime or increasing our share. On the contrary, we talked about a settlement to facilitate electing a president in the sense that people would offer concessions to each other. Everyone would take what makes him feel secured and steadfast and thus the entire crisis would be settled according to the rule of no winners or losers. For example, the president would be from this camp and the minister from that camp, and as for the election law, we would make some concessions, and they make some concessions, and thus we would reach an election law.
So on the contrary, when we talked about a settlement, I was talking about concessions and not amendments, profits, and increasing our share, and consequently, we are betting on presidential elections to gain them. I also said that all of that would abide by the Taef Accord. But some parties either do not read or do not listen, or things are final to them. No matter what I say, they have announced animosity and use all illegitimate means to confront you and provoke others against you.
In this framework, their last hit was that Hizbullah in fact does not want presidential elections. I will answer this by the end of my speech. But this is really baffling. At times they say Hizbullah wants General Aoun; at other times they say Hizbullah wants Minister Franjiyeh. We will tackle this point too. Still, at times they say that Hizbullah is linking the presidential elections to the nuclear agreement. Then they say that Hizbullah is tying presidential elections to constitutional amendments and profits and shares. Then they further said that Hizbullah does not want presidential elections to take place at all. Hizbullah prefers a presidential vacuum.
Relations with Allies
The third point is Hizbullah’s allies and its relations with its allies. This is beneficial when discussing presidential elections and the entire political situation in the country.
Our relationships with our allies is based on mutual respect, confidence, and understanding. It has strong principles which we agree upon.
Perhaps, there are many points and details which we do not agree on, but there are essential points which we agree on. This is the March 8 bloc and those who are with it – whether you consider the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) a part of the March 8 camp, or with it, or allied with it. Apart from this detail, this is not a comprehensive camp. It is a political camp that does not have a leading party or a sole leader. This camp undertakes dialogue among its various parties and makes discussions, whether multi-fold or bilateral or trilateral. We act according to what we agree on. As for what we disagree over, we try to convince each other; we organize the disputes among us with all love, care, and respect.
This is our relationship with our allies for those who want to carry any political approach or political evaluation or political analyses in the future.
Similarly, concerning the Yemeni war, this Saudi oppressive aggression on Yemen and on the Yemeni people, we took a very tough stance and we still do. But we did not recommend our allies to do so too. We did not approach this issue with them. We did not ask them to take a decision because we know that would cause awkwardness for many of them, and we do not want to do so.
Anyway, our relationship with our allies is based on mutual respect, confidence, dialogue, and communication. We act according to what we agree on, and should we disagree on anything, we try to reach a common ground, but in the end we try to organize our disputes and guard our unity.
When some offer another depiction of our relationship with our allies, they would be humiliating our allies and humiliating us too. Our relationship is not as such. We do not impose anything on anyone, and we do not force anyone to do anything. We have dialogue and discussion, and we exert effort and make attempts. We do not turn our back; on the contrary, we are always in a shuttle movement. Indeed, we never give up. We do not deal with any topic to acquit ourselves. No, we take pain to achieve the goals we aspire for and work for them day and night.
Here, there is a decisive central point in our stance from the presidential elections which I will express later on. The point is that alliances at times are based on intersections of political interests. This is not the case with us. Our alliances are not based only on political interests, whether they are strategic or tactical. They are rather based on mutual trust, respect, and friendship. So our relations have an emotional aspect. There is friendship, affection, and respect. So it is not all about politics and interests. It is not sheer calculations and buying and selling and profits and losses. We take pains to build relations between political forces and religious factions in Lebanon on the bases of internal confidence, serenity, and peace. So if we are five or ten or twenty or a group of movements which have common political interests, we move next to each other. Still we do not keep our hands on our backs for fear our ally would stab us in the back. We do not fear that our ally is keeping a sword and at anytime he is offered a better proposal or more political gain he would stab his allies and move, leaving them back behind him. We do not believe in this kind of alliances, and we do not accept this kind of relationship or practice them anyway.
Let this be very clear. Tonight I want to say things as they are. Perhaps everyone will be sad, and perhaps everyone will be content. However, I want to express this stance and end this story. For several months we haven’t heard but nonsense and provocative rhetoric. We just hear a collection of fabrications and silly accusations. I will wrap this up too, and close the door before those who seek to provoke sedition and magnify some normal disputes and natural differences.
This is what we look forward to in any tie. In fact, when we say we have moral commitments which are not only personal, we would be talking about establishing a kind of relationship in the country that preserves the society before talking about the state. We must build a community and build a nation as a prelude for building a state for it later on. Such a society must not be disintegrated or lacking mutual respect or characterized by not living up to one’s promise or forsaking your ally or even setting an ambush for him.
If this is the view of people to each other in this country, how are we to build a society or preserve our nation, or how are we to move towards building a state when talking about building a state?
So this is what governs our relations, stances, and alliances, and we take pains to guard them. We do not say we are infallible or saints. We may make mistakes or be neglectful. Perhaps in some cases we are incapable and not neglectful. These are our capabilities and capacities, but that remains our intention, comprehension, and decision.
Over the past stage and since the beginning of the presidential election crisis to our day, the other camp or the opponent or the rival – whom I do not call an enemy – has always been seeking to create disputes among the various allies in our camp. With our allies from the Sunni sect, they work on the sectarian level. With the rest of our allies they work on the political level. Recently, the focus was above all on causing disputes between us and the Amal Movement on one hand, and between us and the Free Patriotic Movement on the other.
The relationhip with Amal Movement
As far as our relationship with the Amal Movement is concerned, and which was recently the preoccupation of some who tried to talk in councils, give speeches or write articles that harm this relationship, I am really ashamed to quote the nonsense some used. They try to depict the relationship between Hizbullah and the Amal Movement as if Hizbullah is trying to have control over the Amal Movement or as if the Amal Movement is subsequent to Hizbullah at a time when all evidence shows the contrary. No one has one simple indication to prove this unjust accusation. On the contrary, the relationship between the Amal Movement and Hizbullah is based on mutual respect, trust, dialogue, coordination, and almost daily talks that covers all causes and issues.
As I said before concerning all our relations with all our allies, we act according to what we agree upon. As for what we disagree on, we carry on with dialogue over it or postpone it. After all, we organize our disputes and guard our strong strategic relations until this duo became a model in Lebanon and in some states in the region too. Make your inquiries to this effect, and you will see for yourself. Still some want to penetrate even through this colossal wall built by Hizbullah and the Amal Movement, because if they did not write as such, speak as such, or act as such, they will not earn their living. But who has evidence or an indicationor that the relationship between the Amal Movement and Hizbullah is that of a superior and an inferior?
Neither we follow them nor do they follow us. We respect each other, recognize each other, highly esteem each other, understand each other, and agree with each other as I said before.
The relationship with the Free Patriotic Movement
Regarding the relationship with the Free Patriotic Movement, since the signing of the understanding between General Aoun and me – Hizbullah and the FPM – in St. Michel Church ten years ago, they have been working to hit the relationship between the FPM and Hizbullah. They try to evoke doubts about the agreement and about intentions. They seek to target this agreement. They hunt for any partial dispute though the agreement was on essential, great causes that have to do with the national situation and have nothing to do with much of the things that might be a source of disagreement between the FPM and us. They might differ over them even within the FPM or within Hizbullah. Still they got ready to hunt and exploit these disagreements. Here allow me to tell the people/supporters of FPM that they are exploiting them more than the people/supporters of Hizbullah. As for the people/supporters of Hizbullah, they are trying to disperse them and influence the performance, the alliances, and the agreements of their leadership. Thus the target of this attempt to spread doubt is mostly the people/supporters of the FPM and the Christian milieu in general, more than the people/supporters of Hizbullah in particular.
Since 2006 to our very day, there is an incessant attempt to hit this target. There were many important events, the last of which was the presidential elections. because this event means a lot to the FPM and to General Michel Aoun. Thus from the very beginning, they plotted to exploit the details, the following up, and the circumstances of the presidential elections to hit the relationship between Hizbullah and the FPM. Anyway, I will mention all of that when I list the details in a while.
These are the points I wanted to tackle first before moving to the second section which tackles the course of events – meaning the way we moved in this event, and the way things moved.
I will talk from our point of view. Indeed some people may misunderstand things though I will talk in the Arabic language and according to rules and logic. Well, if someone says I am tall, does that mean the others are not tall? If he says he is honest, does that mean the rest are liars? No, it may be that among the rest there are liars and honest people. If someone says I am needy, that does not mean that the rest of the people are not needy.
Supporting the candidacy of General Michael Aoun
Anyway, I will talk from Hizbullah’s perspective. So no one is allowed to say about others what I will say. I am not talking about others and their circumstances, goals, backgrounds, considerations, methods, tracks, or culture. This is their own business.
I am concerned to talk about Hizbullah because for over a year and a half they have been launching a wide and broad campaign against us; so there is no problem if we in one night only comment on this issue.
Well, with the beginning of the presidential issue, Hizbullah’s leadership mulled its choices, and we unanimously agreed that General Aoun is naturally a candidate who enjoys the required characteristics, a considerable popularity, and a good politics, among other traits that I do not want to reiterate as I have tackled tens of times.
A year and a half ago and based on these characteristics and our political vision, and out of loyalty to General Aoun’s stances (so it is not out of loyalty only but also based on political considerations and the characteristics available in General Aoun), we decided to back this nomination, and we discussed the issue with several of our allies. However, apart from the outcome of these discussions, at least all our allies were informed that we would talk with General Aoun, and we would inform him that we support his candidacy. I am talking about Hizbullah.
So in fact, I want to say that General Aoun did not call on us to nominate him or to vote for him. He is a natural candidate, and we took the initiative and told him: “General Aoun! You are a natural candidate. As long as you are a candidate, we took a decision to support you. What is required from us? How can we help to facilitate you becoming the president? We are ready to do whatever we can do. So we did not tell him in the meeting that took place that we are with you as an act of courtesy, and let’s see what you can do. No, we told him that we are with him, and we will seek with him to do all that we can do. We informed all our allies of this, and they know that for a year and a half we have been seeking and we are still seeking. Well, some friends asked me personally saying: do we support the candidacy of General Aoun?
Here I want to clarify the difference between saying that Hizbullah’s candidate is General Aoun and between saying they General Aoun is a natural candidate or the candidate of the Reform and Change Bloc and Hizbullah supports this candidate, because unfortunately they exhaustively and negatively exploited this point. They asked whether we are embarrassed by General Aoun. Is the issue solely moral, ethical, and having to do with loyalty only? I told them that this is not the case. It rather has to do with politics and our vision, comprehension, and approach to the upcoming stage. These are the considerations of this issue with all honesty. Some people are honest, and many of the others are maneuvering. Forgive me for saying so.
Well, we went to the first session. General Aoun had a wish. He said that I still did not announce my candidacy. So I hope you will not write my name. Thus we, our allies, and others casted an empty vote, and the other two candidates got the known number of votes.
Then things went towards political contacts which I will tackle in the following section. Here I will tackle what has to do with us. After we casted an empty vote, the other party and its politicians and journalists started exploiting the incident. Why didn’t Hizbullah vote for General Aoun? That is at a time when neither we nor General Aoun said a word. They started saying that Hizbullah does not want General Aoun, and they made a big fuss about it. I testify that they are fully committed to their business, and it seems that they have a specialized chamber for that. It’s because when I read the statements of some March 14 personalities, I felt that one person wrote them (all) but changed a phrase here and a term there. We who write texts can at times understand some of these things. Now we in the March 8 bloc do not have such a thing.
Anyway, they played the symphony that if Hizbullah really wants General Aoun, it would have announced his candidacy. Why is Hizbullah silent? Allow me to tell you what was reported to us, but might not be true anyway. It was reported to us that some of the people/supporters of the FPM were touched by this kind of speech. Indeed, General Aoun is never for one moment influenced by this as well as the group acquainted by the details of the negotiations, sessions, and meetings. But people in general are touched by such an atmosphere, especially since there are things they are not informed of for a definite interest or things they must not be told. Well, at a certain moment we announced the candidacy of General Aoun. It was on the night of the tenth of Muharram. On that night too I said that we would accept dialogue with the Future Movement. But should we head towards a dialogue with the Future Movement without announcing our candidacy of General Aoun, we would be presenting a subject matter that may be misused by the other party to create confusion and instigation. Thus we announced our stance and supported the candidacy of General Aoun. The next day, they said General Aoun is Hizbullah’s candidate. What does Hizbullah’s candidate mean? That means we must fight him in the Arab world, in Europe, and around the globe. General Aoun is Hizbullah’s candidate means that if you do not vote for him you are not honest….
We really have witty people who exploit everything. In fact, they fabricate a lie from nothing, what if they find something which they can use as a platform for their political and media war?
Anyway, they misused this issue and later they started saying that Hizbullah is not serious. Though Hizbullah nominated General Aoun or supported General Aoun’s candidacy, still it is not serious in this candidacy. Hizbullah is hiding behind General Aoun to obstruct the presidential elections in the interest of the nuclear agreement, the events in Syria, and so on.
Indeed, what shall we do? Let’s see. Tell us what the solution is. In consistency with our seriousness in supporting this candidacy, we made contacts, held meetings, and exerted efforts, and what is most important is that we practiced our constitutional and democratic right by not attending the parliament’s session to vote for a president. We said we do not attend. We said that we do not attend a session in which we do not guarantee the victory of the candidate we back. They all stood against us. You are obstructing the presidential elections and we are still accused of obstructing it. We accept that. Say what do you want? We will obstruct the presidential elections as long as we don’t see that such sessions guarantee the victory of the candidate we trust in. Is this our right or not? Still they proceeded in their game.
Later officials in the Lebanese Forces and others said the true candidate of Hizbullah is not General Aoun but rather Minister Suleiman Franjiyeh – soon we will dedicate a part of our speech to our friend and ally MP Suleiman Franjiyeh. They claimed that Hizbullah wants to burn the card of General Aoun for the sake of leading Minister Franjiyeh to the presidency.
Well, then we reached a place in which we had an overt support to the candidacy of General Aoun. Since then we are working and details are known to everyone.
The second section is related to the course of events and the dialogue between FPM and the Future Movement which preceded our official announcement of our support to this candidacy. Contacts took place between General Aoun and PM Saad Hariri in Paris. Several meetings followed. They were discussing things between them, and we were provided with feedbacks. Indeed, we did not go into details because we did not require or expect that. We had a general idea, the broad lines, and the main points. We overtly and covertly backed this contact and dialogue asserting that we had no problem. On the contrary, we would be happy to reach a conclusion, and it would be great should you reach an agreement because we really want a president in Lebanon.
Well, after months or weeks, it was said that things were about to be finalized if I am not to say that they were finalized already. Things only need the final touches. They talked about allies and reorganizing the situation in the region. Then we were surprised that things were frozen. They fell in a coma. They were even frozen. Then it was said that Future Movement allies in the March 14 bloc, especially the Christians and more precisely the Lebanese Forces, entirely refuse this candidacy and this agreement. Later it was said that Saudi Arabia was the side that objected. I am saying it was said because I do not want to assume fully the responsibility. It was said that Saudi Arabia put a veto on General Aoun. Things were frozen and entered a coma.
Here I want to prove an essential point that says that because we trust our allies – all our allies-, when any of them heads for dialogue with any other side, even if it was an antagonistic opponent to us, we are not worried or afraid or perplexed or feel anxious. That’s because first we trust in our allies with whom we have a relation of trust and honesty. So we agree on the essential points. This applies to all what followed that and what might follow in the future. In principle, we back any dialogue between any two Lebanese sides no matter what sect they belong to or whether they are from one sect or from various sects or from trans-factional groups. We support any such communication, agreement, or accord, because after all it is required from all sides in this country to agree and be in harmony with each other. We all agree that there is no leading sect, there is no leading party, and there is no sole leader. Because of its composition, this country does not move forward except with agreement and harmony. We used to always call for bilateral, trilateral, fourfold and fivefold talks. We support this and do not have any problem with this or feel worried from this by any means.
The relation between the Future Movement and MP Franjiyeh
Well, Suleiman Bek Franjiyeh is a friend and an ally. Because of the mutual respect and trust, he informed us of the negotiations. That does not mean that should one of my allies inform me of something, I have to convey that to the other allies. Perhaps he does not accept that. These are trusts. He said that the Future Movement is contacting me concerning such and such. We told him: watch out Suleiman Bek! I am afraid someone is plotting for a conflict or to cause a dispute between you and General Michael Aoun or between General Aoun and Hizbullah, because anything you would do or agree on with them, it will be said that it is impossible that you agreed on it without Hizbullah’s approval, and that would mean that Hizbullah forsook General Aoun and broke the promise it made to General Aoun, leading to a problem, and in fact we did not forsake him. He said that we do not have to worry. Let’s see where we reach with them. We told him even more. We warned him that he might hold one, two, or three meetings, and then they might tell him that the other allies in the March 14 bloc did not accept and Saudi Arabia had a veto (on it), just as what took place with General Aoun. He said: Don’t worry. Let’s carry on and see.
Here I am talking frankly the very words as they were said. The discussion moved along and reached the possibility of preparing for a meeting between MP Franjiyeh and PM Saad Hariri in Paris. Our friend and ally informed us and asked for my viewpoint. He said that he would go and see. We told him well we will see. He said that he had a question: what if it seemed that they are serious about nominating me? We told him the following which is recorded and written. We told him that would be a new piece of data. Anyway, you know that we gave a moral and political commitment to General Aoun. If that seemed to be serious, that would be a new piece of data which requires discussions with General Aoun and with the rest of the allies. If it seemed that they are serious, we would then discuss the issue. You know that we trust you, and you are our friend and ally, and we believe that you have the characteristics that qualify you to be a president. This is undisputable. Still, we made a moral and political commitment with General Aoun. If things seemed to be serious, we must then talk with General Aoun and see whether he accepts or not, and within which framework or agreement or package or notion. So at least there must be a discussion. Is it not allowed to make discussions? No, it’s not. This does not conflict with the moral or political commitment. After all that would be a new fact (on the ground).
Well, if I was to be told that this nomination is serious, I would have to sit with General Aoun or the other allies to discuss the issue, taking into consideration that there are several proposals or ideas, whether we accept or not. That’s the way we must respond. But in the way things went we had to work as a fire fighter after the parliamentary bloc nominated a candidate and that was leaked, and all the people in the country came to know about it before anyone said anything! So there was no dialogue over this new fact (on the ground) to see if it would be taken into consideration or not. I do not want to accuse anyone when saying the way things were managed was intentionally wrong or not. Put this aside. That will be revealed with time. However, anyway, the way this issue was approached was wrong, and it had a negative impact within March 8 and within March 14 too. Such a sensitive, critical issue mustn’t have been approached as it was.
Moreover, there were many leaks which I do not believe. I believe only what MP Franjiyeh told me. These leaks had negative impacts on political figures and sides and media outlets in March 8 or allied with March 8, which forced them to write inappropriate articles or issue unfitting comments.
Indeed, we did not agree on that and that was issued without our knowledge. Still we do not have control over all who write or talk or take a position. As I said before, we do not have a chamber of this kind that runs these stances. Anyway, that caused confusion even within our circles. Now I would like to tell at least those who listen to me and believe me: That is not true. I don’t believe these leaks. I just believe what MP Franjiyeh told me.
When it was leaked in the country that MP Franjiyeh concluded a complete agreement in Paris that had to do with the government, its composition, the election law, and the appointments among other points – perhaps they were 10 or 15 points- the man said that did not take place. He said he did not conclude an agreement in the name of Hizbullah or March 8 or in the name of our political camp. Perhaps he said that personally if he became a president he would do such and such and accept so and so. These are the limits of the story. So he did not present himself as a negotiator in the name of all our camp. A large section of our camp was not aware that such contacts were underway.
Anyway, that caused confusion, and again we returned to political games. At the time this new fact was presented in a wrong way, it was required that people reconcile, work calmly, talk with each other, and make discussions. They may accept or not. I am talking theoretically apart from any commitments. But rather the new development was the subject of bargains, overbidding, bazaars, and negative political investments. Where is Hizbullah? Why is Hizbullah silent? Hizbullah didn’t say anything? See, Hizbullah’s true goal is to lead MP Franjiyeh to the presidency. Hizbullah was deceiving and lying to General Aoun. Forgive me for using such terms but it is they who talk in such a way.
The course of things so far proves that this is a false, groundless accusation. Well, let’s take it for granted that Hizbullah’s true candidate is MP Franjiyeh all of the time, and Hizbullah was deceiving General Michael Aoun. Well, we went to the parliament. We must have had voted for MP Franjiyeh as others would vote for him too, he would receive the required votes, and he would become the president of the republic. He would be His Eminence the President of the Republic. Why didn’t that happen so far? Why is Hizbullah accused of being the impediment before MP Franjiyeh being a president? How are we the impediment and he is our true candidate and over a year and a half we were deceiving General Aoun? Isn’t this an oppression which must be contemplated?
Now we are before a new status quo – the new nomination of our ally and friend MP Franjiyeh by the head of the Future Movement and the Future Movement. So far it is not officially announced but it is potentially so, and we are supposed to take a stance and announce it. Then doubts aroused to the extent that the minds of some circles within the FPM were manipulated – excuse me O’ people/supporters of the FMP. Demands were made on Hizbullah. What is Hizbullah’s stance? Why is Hizbullah silent? Here we end this section, and we took pains in this section to keep things under control to preserve a chance for dialogue so that the various sides talk with each other and guard the unity of our camp as much as possible, and we saw what befell the other camp.
The Lebanese Forces’ nomination of General Aoun
Now we arrive to the fourth section which is the nomination of the Lebanese Forces of General Aoun. This is the last section before I wrap up my speech with our stance. A communication took place through which intentions were revealed. I go back to the very principle which says that we trust our ally General Aoun as we trust any other ally. Now as we are talking about General Aoun, should he have talks with the Lebanese Forces or any other party or side in the world, this is his own business. As long as there is trust and honesty, there are pillars for this relation. We do not have any problem in such talks. Later on, the stance developed. A dialogue took place and might have led to the Lebanese Forces nominating General Aoun. Indeed this came following the stance of the Future Movement and its nomination of MP Suleiman Franjiyeh. Here too we have no problem. We are committed to this nomination. Should our political rival who has this long history with the FPM announce his support to the nomination of General Aoun, would that make us feel sad? Why should we feel so? Some hollow people say: Hizbullah is perplexed. Hizbullah is confused. Hizbullah is cautious. In fact, it is you who are perplexed and confused and lost. As for us, from the very beginning we know ourselves and studied all considerations. We know where we want to reach and what our choices are. We are relaxed and confident of our local and regional situation. In fact, we are very much relaxed.
Why should we feel sad? On the contrary, we are happy. At least now we can refer to all the accusations that the leadership of the Lebanese Forces wrote regarding Hizbullah supporting the candidacy of General Aoun for over a year and a half as applicable on it, as now it is supporting the candidacy of General Aoun itself.
As for us, we welcome or at least have no problem should any two Lebanese sides reach an agreement. On the contrary, we support that and pray that all parties make agreements and reconcile with each other and peace prevails in our community among all sects and within all sects too and among all its political forces. We do not have any problem in that.
Last week, the Loyalty to Resistance bloc did not meet and issue a statement. Before saying why, I want to say something for the future. First, you know us. We do not maneuver and change our mind every day. Here I am telling the entire Lebanese people, our friends and our foes. When we have a stance or when we make a commitment, we are not obliged, or no one obliges us to renew our stance or commitment every day or every week or whenever a small or an important incident takes place. Second, we wanted to wait a little and see the scene following this great, important, dramatic development. What is the reaction of the country? Then we would have enough time to issue a statement or to talk, whether I or any of the other brothers. So not issuing a statement has nothing to do with the reconsideration of our stance which I will assert now. So we are not perplexed or confused. No one embarrassed us. On the contrary, a considerable political party in the country that has deputies in the parliament and which used to have an old conflict and rivalry with the FPM, and a candidate for presidency, adopted supporting the candidacy of General Aoun whom we support. How is it logical that I feel embarrassed or perplexed and not know what to say?
I will talk in the colloquial popular language so that we would understand each other. Still when we waited for ten days or a couple of weeks, see what happened. See the grudge in this country. Even this positive development was exploited to cause a conflict and sow discord between the FPM and us. I will go back to the story from the very beginning in 2006 in two points.
The first point is provoking us and our people/supporters. When someone came to interpret the ten clauses according to his disposition, he said that General Aoun had changed his stance from Hizbullah sharing in the fight in Syria. He changed his stance as per the resistance. So what are they telling us? What are they telling our masses – that is because our masses observe, follow, analyze, and talk with us just like all masses in the country. They feel the pressure as there is a public opinion….Someone somewhere is trying to tell us that General Aoun sold you in the main cause to gain his nomination by the Lebanese Forces. Such rhetoric does not leave any minor impact on us, not even with the percentage of 0.0000%, because our relationship is based on friendship, honesty, trust, and agreement on the basic causes. I do not accept such an interpretation. I accept what General Aoun said as I accept what MP Franjiyeh told me when he went to Paris or held a meeting in Paris.
The second point has to do with provoking the masses of the FPM with saying: Where is Hizbullah? Why is Hizbullah silent? Why did not Hizbullah take a stance? Why is Hizbullah still speechless? The ball now is in Hizbullah’s court. The issue is over. I do not want to use their unbefitting terms. They also said that Hizbullah is now required to gather his allies and contact MP Franjiyeh and tell him to withdraw. Hizbullah is supposed to pressure the rest of the allies and say so and so and do such and such. Then we would go to the parliament and the story would be over. O’ FPM masses! The problem is with Hizbullah. If Hizbullah wants General Aoun to be the president, now it can impose that on its allies. We would go to the parliament and elect General Aoun as President of the Republic.
Another one would say if Hizbullah wants MP Franjiyeh to be the president of the republic, now we would head to the parliament and elect MP Franjiyeh as president. Is it as simple as this? Are such things misused for negative political exploitation and for distorting relations among people? Or do we want to have a president for the republic who would rule, form a government, and build a state? Then, we would have true peace in the country and develop ourselves, solve our problems, and address our crises. Or is the story that of grudge, recording goals, and distorting relations between people? These are boyish acts. Is such a sensitive file approached in such a way, and is a state built with such a mentality or way?
Anyway, as for the first point (provoking us), we said we did not get influenced with such provocation. The issue may be simplified by going back to the principle I said before. Our relations with our allies are not as such. We talk, make discussions and dialogues, and say where the interest is. There is an interest here; there is no interest there; that’s what we see; we give and take; we argue…But we do not oblige our allies, and we never once obliged any of our allies to take any stance. We do not oblige anyone. Neither they nor we accept this. Any other rhetoric is an insult to them and an insult to us. I highlighted this when talking about the principle.
No March 14 President
Anyway, we reach a point now in which apparently there are three candidates, but actually there are two candidates: General Aoun and MP Franjiyeh. I will wrap our vision, how we see the scene, and our stance in a brief word:
First: Some people say we are embarrassed and perplexed, and they played on that once and again. On the contrary, so far we see the political scene as providing our political camp with a great political gain. It is a great political profit if we are to see the scene. Many wrote to this effect. I am not fabricating anything. March 14 is split on themselves. A primary force from this camp supports General Michael Aoun, our friend and ally whom we support his nomination, and another basic force in March 14 supports the candidacy of MP Franjiyeh, our ally and friend too. Are we losers or gainers? Are we to be perplexed or relaxed?
The political crop we harvest from the current scene is the following:
1- There isn’t any more a president from March 14. It is they who are saying so and not me. This is the outcome of this political scene. The scene says there isn’t a president from March 14.
When we say that we want to build a nation and a community, how could anyone expect from Hizbullah to fail to live up to its word? For example, someone else may not be committed, committed with conditions, or has his reasons. Everyone may say his conditions and considerations. As for us, since we gave our word to General Aoun, the man never wronged us, and our commitment is based on mutual trust and the basic causes we agreed on.
Before a commitment of this magnitude, should I or Hizbullah, pursuant of any political development in the presidential file – even if it is that my friend, ally, and the light of my eye nominated himself – abandon my moral and political commitment, the alliance, the relationship, and the stance which we have been working to achieve for a year and a half, only because there appeared a way out? Moreover, perhaps someone would tell me: “Your interest is more with MP Franjiyeh.” My stance has nothing to do with MP Franjiyeh having the characteristics of a president or with lacking trust between us. On the contrary, we share mutual trust and respect. I am talking from this perspective. We are known. We have a long history. Someone may say: “O Sayyed! O Hizbullah! This does not work in Lebanon. This is Platonic rhetoric.” Well, this is us. This is our history. We keep our commitments even if we lost in politics. We keep our commitments even if we are beheaded.
In one case only we may retreat. If General Aoun says that he withdraws his candidacy. Then our commitment would be annulled because it is not valid anymore. Then we would be free, and the camp which made this absolute commitment would be free too.
Otherwise, I do not have any way out. There is no way out. This commitment has nothing to do with me being morally embarrassed now. No, I am committed, and Hizbullah is committed and will keep its commitment. We are not embarrassed with this commitment. We made this commitment after deliberation. We made it willfully and while being fully aware. This is our stance, vision, comprehension, and belief. I have a couple of words to say to this effect to our friends and dear people/supporters of the Marada Movement. Indeed, MP Franjiyeh heard them from me personally. I tell all the devotees of MP Franjiyeh. If a year and a half ago we made the commitment with MP Franjiyeh and said that we would back him in the presidential elections, should all horizons be blocked and the entire world unanimously vote for another candidate who is an ally of ours, we would have been now with MP Franjiyeh. Is that clear? This is the story. Let no one analyze in any other way. This is the truth pertaining to this issue. This is its magnitude.
Calling for more dialogue
The Allegation that Hizbullah backs a vacuum
There is the last point that I want to tackle because I promised to return to it by the end of my speech. It is pertaining to the saying that Hizbullah does not want General Aoun or MP Franjiyeh, and that Hizbullah’s interest is in a presidential vacuum, and its candidate is a vacuum. Many from among the other camp talk as such. They must find something to attack with. If they don’t attack us, what shall they do? They don’t have a regional battle or any other thing other than attacking us. They say that Hizbullah has conditions. Here I would like to say a couple of words with absolute simplicity and you can try us because we are loyal to this candidate. In consistency with what we started with pertaining to honesty and loyalty, I say that if it is guaranteed that tomorrow the parliament convene and elect General Michael Aoun as president for the republic, we would go, partake in the session, and vote, and we do not want constitutional amendments, a constituent assembly, being under Taif, with a package or without a package. We are ready, and we would go for it.
We did not talk about a package to elect a president. We have no problem in electing a president without a package. This package is for you and not for us. Anyway, we took what we want from the package as long as both primary, noble, and dear candidates are from this political camp. If without a package, why should I fight for it? If you don’t want a package, what shall I do for you?
When I talked about the package, that was to facilitate things in the country so that things would move, a president would be elected, and we would have a Premier and a government would be formed without having to wai ten months for its formation. We would enact an electoral law, prepare for parliamentary elections….I only evoked this point to answer the recent accusation. God willing I hope that this situation and this new scene would offer an opportunity for more contacts and more dialogue besides guarding the relations based on mutual trust and respect, because we Lebanese do not have any choice other than reaching an agreement and trying to reach this possible outcome.
Now I remembered something I wanted to say when talking about democracy. A couple of days ago, I read something that really provoked me. I read that Hizbullah does not want municipal elections and is embarrassed and is seeking someone to fit this accusation on.
Municipal elections on time
We call for carrying out municipal elections on time. If extending the term of municipal councils was proposed in the parliament or in the cabinet, we will oppose it by all means. That is final. We want municipal elections, and we want to elect a president. We want the Lebanese to reach an agreement, and we want to live together. We have done all what we did to defend our country. We offer martyrs and wounded daily to defend our country and to isolate our country from the fierce, bloody developments in the region. Whoever accuses us would be unjust to us. Still, we are not infallible. Whoever has evidence let him present it to the people or to us, and we would correct our mistake.
Best regards! May Allah grant you good health to do goodness! Peace be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings!
Source: al-Ahed News