Gebran Bassil: Our agreement with Hezbollah failed to build the state in Lebanon
The head of the Free Patriotic Movement in Lebanon, Representative Gibran Bassil, considered that the “Mar Mikhael” agreement between his movement and Hezbollah “failed to build the state,” calling for the party’s weapons to be placed “within the state’s policy” without the goal being to dismantle it.
Bassil added, in an interview with Anadolu Agency, that the current understanding (established by current President Michel Aoun) with Hezbollah needs “development in terms of reform and state-building,” considering that the party’s return to government meetings “is part of the response to development, but it is not Adequate”.
He believed that “the dispute is clear and significant with Hezbollah regarding internal matters, and if it is resolved, on the basis of which the issue of electoral alliances will be determined,” stressing that he does not currently have “any plan or goal” regarding the presidential elections.
Bassil, Aoun’s son-in-law, emphasized the Arabness of Lebanon, and that they wanted “the best relations” with the Gulf states, stressing at the same time the need not to prevent them from having relations with other countries, such as Turkey and Iran, describing relations with Ankara as “good.”
Parliamentary and presidential elections
On March 27, Lebanon is scheduled to witness early parliamentary elections instead of May 8.
Bassil said, “The Free Patriotic Movement will contest the parliamentary elections in all Lebanese regions. Its project remains the same, and it is the project of the state, which cannot exist in the presence of corruption.”
Regarding his party’s alliance in the elections with Hezbollah, he replied that “the disagreement is clear and significant with Hezbollah regarding internal matters,” and “if these matters are resolved, then on their basis the issue of electoral alliances is determined.”
He also considered that “the free patriot constitutes a popular situation in Lebanon, and accordingly he can run in the elections alone.”
And whether the chances of Marada Movement leader Suleiman Franjieh are high to be the next president of the republic, Bassil replied that “the issue of the presidency includes several considerations, including popular representation after the upcoming elections, and the issue of political options such as knowing the parties that will support him and enable him to form a majority in Parliament, in addition to to his electoral programme.
Bassil (a Maronite Christian) considered that “the presidential elections are not crystallized and it is too early to talk about them, and at the present time I do not have any plan or goal for the presidency.”
As a reminder, the president of Lebanon (a Maronite Christian) is elected by the members of the House of Representatives (parliament).
Understanding with Hezbollah
On October 13, a government session was postponed indefinitely following the insistence of ministers affiliated with Hezbollah and the “Amal” movement, that the council discuss the file of investigations into the explosion of the port of Beirut, in preparation for the dismissal of the judicial investigator, Tariq Al-Bitar, after he was accused of “” politicization of the case.
Basil did not answer in denial or confirm whether he was aware of the decision to return “Hezbollah” and the “Amal” movement to participate in the cabinet sessions, after they were suspended for more than three months.
He believed that “the return of the duo to the government was inevitable, because the boycott was neither justified nor convincing. But the return is not enough, and it must be completed with a set of steps that lead to stability in the country and address the people’s problems.”
For two years, the Lebanese have been experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis, which has led to a record collapse in the value of the local currency against the dollar, as well as a shortage of fuel, medicine and other basic commodities, and the collapse of their purchasing power.
Regarding the secret of the steadfastness of the “Mar Mikhael understanding” between the “Free Patriotic Movement” and “Hezbollah”, Bassil replied that “the national need for him is the secret. The aforementioned understanding preserves unity in one way or another, knowing that there are enough internal differences to undermine it, because the most important point is It is the building of the state.”
He continued, “The agreement helped us confront Israel and prevent (ISIS) from occupying Lebanon, and prevent internal fighting, and this is essential, but not sufficient to build a state, as the agreement failed to build the state.”
On February 6, 2006, the Secretary-General of “Hezbollah” Hassan Nasrallah and the head of the “Free Patriotic Movement” (at the time), the current President Michel Aoun, signed an understanding at St. Michael Church in Beirut, to work together to address important issues, most notably the “building Country”.
The memorandum of understanding consists of 10 items, most notably the “election law”, “Lebanese-Syrian relations”, “protecting Lebanon”, and another item entitled “State-building” that stipulates the adoption of standards of justice, parity, merit, integrity, a fair and independent judiciary, and addressing corruption at its roots. .
Regarding Hezbollah’s weapons, Bassil said that “it is necessary that it fall within a certain executive framework, to be within the policy of the state, and this is possible if some leave the idea of the conspiracy.”
He stressed that “the goal should not be to disarm Hezbollah, but rather how to use it for the benefit of the country.”
Bassil revealed that he “met Nasrallah not recently,” and denied that they had discussed the issue of the investigating judge in the Beirut port explosion, Tariq Al-Bitar.
He considered that there is “a state of stagnation (stalemate) in the file,” stressing “the importance of completing the forensic investigation to reach the presumptive decision (the accusation), and it is not necessary to remain in a state of stagnation.”
And he considered that “the investigation into it is discretionary (exceptional), but it is not politicized, but today there is a fatal stasis, and we want the judiciary to bear its responsibility.”
This explosion destroyed the port on August 4, 2020, killing 219 people and wounding about 7,000 others, as well as damaging large areas of Beirut; As a result of the explosion of materials that had been confiscated and stored there for years.
Despite the resignation of George Kordahi, Lebanon’s Minister of Information on December 3, a diplomatic crisis still exists between Lebanon on one side and Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states on the other, which weighs heavily on Beirut.
Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador to Beirut, and asked the Lebanese ambassador in Riyadh to leave, which was later done by the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen, in refusal to statements about the war in Yemen made by Qardahi before he took over the ministry.
Regarding his relationship with the Gulf states, Basil said, “It is not permissible to portray us as being in a hostile position with them, as we want the best relations with them.”
He continued, “Because Lebanon is an Arab country, and it should not be at odds with it (the Gulf states), and it has priority. But at the same time, we should not be prevented from having relations with other countries, such as Turkey, Iran and others.”
“We have good relations with Turkey, and we can cooperate with it to provide renewable energy for Lebanon or other issues,” he concluded.