Naim Qassem, Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah, in an Exclusive Interview with Alaraby TV

Alaraby TV

The Deputy Secretary General of the Lebanese Hezbollah, Naim Qassem, accused Saudi Arabia of "seeking to control Lebanon’s political track". He added that the Saudi government had created a problem with Lebanon, despite the Lebanese government’s corporation with the Gulf countries.

In an exclusive statement to Alaraby TV, Qassem stressed that the Saudi Kingdom must be able to see Lebanon as a free and independent country, instead of trying to impose its political agenda on the country.

Qassem denied the existence of serious efforts to end the conflict, adding that "there were no mediations, but rather a direct demand for the resignation of the Lebanese Minister of Information, George Kordahi, without any pledges or promises in return." Qassem stressed that Minister Kordahi should be the first and last decision-maker regarding the issue of resignation, saying that Hezbollah will support any decision he takes.

On another note, Qassem called on the government to address what he described as the “judicial investigator’s domination over the Beirut port explosion case.” The Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah said that judicial investigator Al-Bitar could not prevent the parliament from taking action within its jurisdiction to try presidents and ministers. Qassem said that Hezbollah is interested in the government continuing its efforts, but demanded that some urgent files be addressed “one way or another.”

Qassem revealed that meetings were held behind the scenes with the help of the three presidencies. He stressed that cabinet meetings, which are suspended at the moment, will be resumed once a solution that can be accepted by all parties is reached.

Qassem reiterated his accusation of Tariq Al-Bitar of targeting Hezbollah's allies and excluding other parties through flimsy justifications.

Regarding the Tayouneh incident, Qassem called for holding the Lebanese Forces accountable for the “massacre”. He described the event as a “prelude to a civil war", stressing that it is not possible to build any kind of relationship with the Lebanese Forces Party.

Regarding the date of the upcoming parliamentary elections, Qassem said that March 27 is a tentative date, which can only become final if President Michel Aoun signs it. Qassem said it was probable that the elections would take place between May 8 and May 15, because the Lebanese President would not approve of an earlier date, in his opinion.

He indicated that some parties expect these elections to change the political game and make shifts in the current balances, adding that the former “March 14” forces and civil society organizations who are “linked to the embassies”, as he put it, will try to gain the majority in Parliament to control the upcoming presidential elections to alter Lebanon's policies.

On the relationship with the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), Hezbollah’s Deputy Decretary General Qassem expressed his party’s commitment to the agreement signed with the FPM in 2006, stressing that the two parties will run together for the parliamentary elections in all Lebanese districts. Qassem ruled out the discussion of a candidate for the upcoming presidential elections before the results of the parliamentary elections are announced, considering the issue premature.

On another topic, Qassem considered that the Lebanese Central Bank’s governor must be held most responsible for the economic collapse in Lebanon, calling for accountability.

He said that the international community does not want the current government to address real problems, while Prime Minister Najib Mikati is applying some limited treatments that are “closer to sedatives.”

Qassem also made it clear that Hezbollah believes it is essential, for the interest of Lebanon, that every condition proposed by the IMF is well-studied.

Regarding the demarcation of the border with Israel, the Hezbollah official considered that all current discussions are still superficial. He said that the party chooses to wait for the Lebanese State's decision on this matter, to avoid political biddings.