A: The Islamic Republic in Iran did not interfere in the elections of the presidential elections in Lebanon, and I believe that if the Iranians were asked, they will refer the issue to the Lebanese, themselves. What I know about Iran is that it is impossible to interfere in the person of President. Indeed, it cares that the president have several demanding and convincing characteristics. This is the case of all the friends who love Lebanon and care for it.
Q: As if you are underscoring the local factors?
A: Yes, I believe that the local and internal factors are more influential this time than in any time in the past. So, if a candidate or a supposed candidate for the Presidency of the Republic obtained the required majority, and the supporting internal atmosphere was made available, things will move in that direction.
Yes, what will open the gate before international and regional intervention at whatever stage of the presidential elections is: the disagreement of the Lebanese political forces over the personality of the president; the end of the legal, normal, and specified time; and, consequently, vacuum. However, suppose that the political forces now could reach a definite agreement or a definite result- for sure their decisions and choices would be final.
In other words, I can say that we are before a true chance to make a president in Lebanon and to achieve the presidential elections by a national internal decision.
Q: This legal period is valid until May 25th, 2014.
A: Even after May 25th. The only difference is that after May 25th, the door would be open before international and regional intervention.
Q: In your evaluation, when this cabinet was formed by the thrust of international and Arab forces which formed it, isn’t this an indicator that vacuum is a supposed and serious possibility for some “states”?
A: It might indicate that. Anyway, forming the government was indispensable because without the cabinet, the presidential elections would be more difficult. Not forming the cabinet would be an assertion on the discrepancy of the political forces and sides. If they are unable to form a government in which the political forces are represented with definite rates, indeed it would be more incapable of electing a president for the Republic.
Thrusting towards forming the government was broader than being a prelude for presidential elections or a precautionary measure against vacuum. The formation of the cabinet; its discussion of files, decisions, and achievements; and the start of meetings between political forces promote the chance of agreeing over a president. When I say ‘agreeing on a president’, I don’t mean a settlement president or a president from the middle. There may be strong personalities who have a true representation in the country, and a true chance to agree on.
Q: It is generally taken by the Christians that for Muslims, the Speaker must represent the most influential Shiite bloc and the Premier must represent the most influential Sunnite Bloc. Why doesn’t this apply to Christians, especially Maronites?
A: We agree on that. We do not have any problem in that.
In the previous elections, our stance was known. We stood next to the figure who has a strong representation in the Christian square; however, the international, regional, and internal settlement took things in another direction.
Q: The polls carried out by Bkirki and a survey carried out by As-Safir, and which will be published this week, showed that General Aoun gained the first place on the Lebanese as well as on the Christian level.
A: If we are in harmony with the principle you mentioned a while ago… this result must be respected, indeed. However, the problem is that some Christians make a problem of that, and I agree with them. But, they, themselves, are responsible for this result as they cripple the personality which represents them most from reaching essential and required positions, including presidency.
Q: You own the crippling one third and the March 14 Bloc owns the crippling one third. However, none of the two blocs are able to put a decisive end to the dilemma. I mean, you have the ability to cripple, but not to decisively end the dilemma. How is it possible to get out of this crisis?
A: When we talk about an appropriate personality that has a vast representation and enjoys the required characteristics of becoming president, then no doubt it would require the approval of the essential forces from both sides or the approval of both sides.
One bloc cannot lead its candidate to the presidency without the other bloc.
Q: It is as if you are calling on the other bloc to adopt your candidate, while the other bloc is calling on you to adopt their candidate?
A: That’s true.
Q: That would lead the country to vacuum.
A: We are now in the stage of discussions. Discussions are taking place, in one way or another, in more than one place. Almost always, they are bilateral discussions. Let’s wait for these discussions. Where will they lead? Then, we can judge things.
Q: What if Hizbullah was to choose between vacuum and extension, even if it were for one year at the very last moment?
A: As for us, our stance on extension is final and decisive. Threatening by vacuum must not frighten the Lebanese. Should the political forces and parliamentary blocs not be able to make this achievement before May 25th, then after May 25 th, every day, every hour, and every minute will exert pressure on the political forces to elect a president. Consequently, from now until May 25th, the political forces might feel that they have plenty of time because we are within the legal time. However, after the legal time is over and after entering vacuum, I believe that would not be frightening or an impediment before presidential elections. It would rather be a pressing element on everybody, especially since all the political forces do not want vacuum.
Q: Some accuse you of pushing towards vacuum.
A: Some in Lebanon find it easy to make accusations, and to say that the so and so party or the such and such movement wants presidential vacuum. Personally, I think good of everybody and say that no one in Lebanon wants presidential vacuum. That is clear for me. Consequently, the end of the specific legal time will pressure everyone towards filling this vacuum, especially that many are calling for, continuing, and exerting pressure to make this achievement. If this entitlement is not achieved before May 25th, to us, that is not frightening or worrying.
Q: International, regional, and Arab characteristics stress that the president guarantees stability. Do these characteristics apply to your candidate?
Q: Did Hizbullah reach a final word on amending Article 49 of the Constitution?
A: We did not discuss this yet.
Sayyed Nasrallah: The Government…A New Chance
Q: The cabinet might make a chance or cause a crisis in the country in light of its performance. What is your evaluation in light of the decisions taken so far?
A: I believe that the chance is greater than the crisis.
Q: Might new appointments be made in addition to the appointments that took place so far?
A: This is the way things are now. The atmosphere in the parliament is positive, and so far, things are moving on a high level of positivity, agreement, and mutual understanding. Moreover, there is an implicit understanding to fill the vacancies during the upcoming stage within the legally approved mechanism. I believe that the general atmosphere is positive, and the possibility of having a chance is greater than having a crisis.
Q: In your evaluation, are we moving towards parliamentary elections, or will an extension take place again?
A: What is logical and normal is that parliamentary elections take place in the upcoming stage. Whether there is a president or not, the cabinet can carry parliamentary elections. However, some sides in Lebanon might show some reservations on carrying parliamentary elections in the absence of a president for the Republic.
Q: There is also the problem of the election law – meaning the Election Law of 1960.
A: This problem exists in all cases – in the past, currently, and in the future- and I really don’t know to what extent we can agree on a new election law.
Q: Are you contacting PM Tammam Salam?
A: Yes, contact exist, and it is normal.
Q: What is your evaluation of his performance?
A: From the very beginning, we believed that PM Tammam Salam is an acceptable, logical, and open personality, and that he would act accordingly. This is what we find in his performance really, and the relations are positive, good, and kind with the Premier.
Q: The security plan will proceed towards Bekaa. If Hizbullah was asked to raise the political cover from the abnormal phenomena such as the gangs of kidnapping and robbing, will you be with the cabinet with the same momentum that you showed in Tripoli?
A: Some media outlets had circulated that Hizbullah and Amal Movement were asked to raise the cover; in fact, we did not cover anyone to be asked to raise the cover. Moreover, in the past years, Hizbullah; Amal Movement; the dignitaries of Bekaa region, and especially northern Bekaa; the heads of municipalities; heads of municipal unions; municipal councils; and mayors were all calling on the state to execute a security plan in northern Bekaa, and that the security forces arrest those involved in kidnapping, stealing, and preparing ambushes….
It is the state which was failing to carry out its responsibilities. Firstly, no one prevented it from doing that; no one did ever cover anyone else all across the past years. On the contrary, the state was called upon. It was the state which was putting off and failing to carry out its responsibilities. At times, it might carry out some limited operations; then it would stop. We always used to provide the political and popular cover for the official security forces to carry on their missions on the level of the region, as this is a very important popular demand.
Moreover, in the current stage, we strongly support this, and we are ready for every aid and every cover, and for offering all the required facilities. We hope that this plan would be successful, although the evocation of this issue in the media in the past few days had normally led to the flee of those targeted by the security measures in that region.
However, in all cases, it is good and important that the state start taking serious steps in this perspective, which might set the pillars for further steps in the future. What is important is that the state continues its work and does not stop at a certain stage.
Q: Do you bear the blame for the developmental situation in Bekaa- although you were part of the cabinets and parliaments- as the result in Bekaa is almost zero?
A: No, it is not a zero. In the past years, very good things were achieved on the level of roads, telephone lines, power networks, water networks, and sewage pipelines in the region.
Whoever goes to Baalbeck-Hermel can simply notice the difference of its condition now, and its condition some 15 or 20 years ago.
However, the main problem now in Bekaa is not that of roads, power, water, or telephone.
The true problem now, as is the case in most of the Lebanese regions while being most urgent in Bekaa, is finding work opportunities – meaning, the means of living for the residents of that region. We have a great problem in this issue at the level of the nation, and this can’t be addressed in installments and in a limited way; it rather needs a general address.
Hizbullah deputies and ministers, along with their allies, sought and are seeking to find a solution. This comes within our priorities in working in that region.
In the past, we sought to form a province in the region because that, too, has developmental and economic results. That was achieved to a great extent. The essential and anticipated step is nominating a mayor to the Province of Baalbek-Hermel, and I believe that the government would achieve that as there is an endeavor to place this among the priorities of the upcoming nominations: appointing a mayor to the Province of Baalbek-Hermel and a mayor to the Province of Akkar.
Sayyed Nasrallah: Utmost Support To the Army and Its Steadfast Creed
Q: What is your evaluation of the Saudi donation to the Lebanese Army via the French?
A: In principle and apart from the donating side, we back any unconditional support presented to the Lebanese Army. We always used to call on states and governments to offer aid so that the army acquires such aid.
At one stage, we also sought our friends to achieve this goal. Even after Syria withdrew from Lebanon, Syria offered aid to the Lebanese Army. The Islamic Republic in Iran always used to announce its willingness to do that; however, the problem here was in the Lebanese political decision. Some would refuse; others would show reservations- I understand the reason behind such reservations; the reason is fear from the Americans and some Arab states.
Anyway, in principle, we support and back any aid to the Lebanese Army and any contribution to strengthen the Lebanese Army. So, I won’t say we don’t have any reservations as this is an inappropriate word.
This is on one hand. On the other hand, this aid came from Saudi Arabia via the French. We will not comment on this via the media because we don’t know all the details: Are there conditions or not? What are the considerations of this step or this initiative?
I do not want to mention the existence of conditions as there might not be any conditions. I rather say: We do not have enough information to judge accordingly. Still, we overcame this issue. For example, the ministerial statement mentioned this donation. We did not object. The future and the results of this donation will appear with time.
Some might hail the results before they take place. Some might show doubts. I don’t want to hail nor to show doubts. I only say that we have to wait for the results of this step. Later, the kind of these weapons, capabilities, and equipment which will be offered to the Lebanese Army will be revealed. Then, we can judge the nature of this step. However, I will stress again on the principle: With the exception of “Israel,” any state can indeed offer aid to strengthen the Lebanese Army as that would be a good step.