Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah announced that his party has made its final decision on whom to back in the presidential elections, and stated, in the second and final part of this comprehensive political discussion with As-Safir, that announcing the name of the nominee awaited the opportune time and proper coordination “with our political team.”
Concerning his opinion about the candidature of Samir Geagea, the head of the Lebanese Forces, Nasrallah said: “Irrespective of our assessment of Geagea, his positions, history, ideology and political aspirations, and notwithstanding our view of any March 14 candidate or nominee, it is only normal and logical that we back and support our own candidate, whose ascendency to the presidency would, in our opinion, serve the greater national interest for which we strive. This is a great opportunity to elect a Lebanese-made president, and to successfully conclude the presidential elections through an internal national decision.”
He noted that domestic factors affected this upcoming event more than at any other time in the past, and expressed belief that “if any candidate garnered the required majority, and the internal atmosphere was conducive, then matters would probably move in that direction.”
Nasrallah warned that the continued disagreement of political forces about the identity of the president, and the expiration of the natural and legal timeframe for elections, would lead to a vacuum and engender international or regional intervention. If political powers and parliamentary blocs fail to achieve this milestone before May 25, then every day, hour and minute thereafter would increase the pressure on those political forces to elect a president — with “some Christian factions” held responsible for disrupting the process, and not allowing the ascension of a president possessing the largest representative influence.
Nasrallah asserted that Hezbollah’s stance [in objection to] extending the incumbent president’s term was “absolute and final.” He continued to say that the threat of a vacuum “must not scare the Lebanese,” and the Maronite Patriarchate was at the forefront of those calling for the election of a new president.
He added that the stances adopted by President Michel Suleiman in recent months had deprived him of the status necessary to preside over a national dialogue centered around an issue as serious and important as that of a defense strategy.
Nasrallah also indicated that any steps serving to prevent bloodshed, alleviate worries and pave the way for reconciliation are important indeed. He affirmed that there were no hurdles standing in the way of initiating a political discourse or opening the channels of communication, on any level, with the Future Movement, explaining that “we do not want to hold any faction responsible for the interruption of dialogue in recent years.”
Nasrallah had a positive view of the security plan adopted by the government in the north and the Bekaa. He stressed that the security and judicial approach should be complemented by a comprehensive political, socioeconomic, developmental plan that goes hand in hand with real conciliation efforts between the various political movements and factions. He also called for the expedited appointment of governors for Baalbek-Hermel and Akkar provinces, and expected the government, through its work and achievements, to provide an opportunity for all. He also lauded the performance of Prime Minister Tammam Salam.
In response to a question about the demands by some for Hezbollah and Amal to lift the political cover afforded to some gangs in the Bekaa, Nasrallah said: “No one is protected by us and we thus cannot lift any cover. We are ready though to help and facilitate efforts.” He wished the plan success, even if raising the issue in the media during the past few days had inevitably led to the escape of those targeted by security measures in the Bekaa. He also affirmed that the party has not, nor will it provide, cover for any cases of corruption in Lebanon, and that he is keen on preventing corruption from permeating its ranks, leading to him decisively dealing with such issues.
Nasrallah reiterated that Hezbollah supported all unconditional assistance given to the Lebanese army, regardless of the donor faction. He expressed faith in the army’s doctrine, and confidence in the inability of anyone to negatively affect it: “This institution is endowed with a clearly national doctrine, as was proven by its conduct, performance and sacrifices throughout the past years.”
He emphasized that relations between the army and the resistance movement were good, particularly south of the Litani River, all the while indicating that the resistance movement required the presence of a strong and cohesive community, as well as a robust, capable and just state. But he did indicate that current circumstances were not conducive to finding ways by which the Lebanese political system could be developed, and he stressed that doing away with political sectarianism was unrealistic in the current political atmosphere.
While stressing the importance of building the state, Nasrallah said: “We are serious in proposing the building of a strong, capable and just state. We are not a substitute for that state in any shape or form. Even when it comes to the resistance movement — we in the resistance or as resistance fighters will go back to our schools, mosques, universities, and fields as soon as we see that our state has become capable, strong, and able to defend Lebanon.”
Nasrallah reasserted that the Israeli and jihadist threats were existential. He backed Saudi-Iranian rapprochement and any Arab and Muslim efforts aimed at reducing the damage, while expressing belief that Lebanon did not provide the jihadists with a nurturing environment. He added that Hezbollah refused to form a jihadist faction in Palestine because the party, as a whole, was in the service of Palestine, as a whole.