Hezbollah has lambasted remarks by US Ambassador to Beirut Elizabeth Richard about the resistance movement’s role in Lebanon’s new government, saying they violate the country’s sovereignty.
Hezbollah’s Thursday statement came after Richard said during a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Tuesday that Washington had “concern over the growing role in the cabinet of an organization that continues to maintain a militia that is not under the control of the government.”
In the new cabinet, two ministries out of the total 30 ministries are headed by Hezbollah lawmakers. The health ministry, which has the fourth largest budget in the state, is also headed by Jamil Jabak, who is close to the resistance movement, but not a member of it.
The statement issued by Hezbollah lawmakers hit back at Richard’s provocative comments, saying, “The negative American position on Hezbollah, which American ambassadors are eager to repeat after meeting with any official in Lebanon, is rejected and condemned.”
The US stance, the statement added, “violates national sovereignty and ignores a legitimate right in international law – the right to self-defense and to resist every threat and aggression” and is biased towards “the terrorist entity” of Israel.
Lebanon announced the formation of a coalition government last month after much debate over the line-up of the cabinet, ending months of wrangling amid fears of a major economic collapse. On Friday, Lebanon’s parliament approved the government by giving it a confidence vote.
Together with groups and individuals that regard its defensive potential as an asset to the Middle Eastern nation, Hezbollah managed to win over 70 of the 128 seats in Lebanon’s parliament in an election held last year. Hariri, who is backed by the West and Saudi Arabia, lost more than a third of his legislators in the election.
The US accuses Hezbollah of terrorism even as the resistance movement has been fighting Takfiri terrorist groups such as Daesh and al-Nusra Front, preventing their reign of terror to spread to Lebanon from neighboring Syria.
Hezbollah was established in the 1980s following the Israeli invasion and occupation of southern Lebanon. The movement waged a long resistance campaign against Zionist forces and pushed them out of southern Lebanon in May 2000.
Since then, the group has grown into a powerful force, dealing a humiliating defeat to Israel in the 2006 war, which shattered the occupying regime’s myth of invincibility.