Head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) MP General Michel Aoun said Saturday that “March 14” forces might be able to “absorb” the shock caused by MP Walid Jumblatt’s recent actions but they cannot “reverse” what happened.
In an interview with Sawt al-Mada radio station, General Aoun said, “March 14 forces might be able to absorb the shock caused by Jumblat’s departure, but they cannot absorb the action itself.”
Aoun was talking about the last stance for the Democratic Gathering leader who has said earlier that his alliance with “March 14” forces was out of necessity and must be terminated. “The majority is no longer a majority. It is now a group of minorities and forming a coalition is inevitable in the country,” the FPM leader said on the impact of Jumblatt’s move on March 14.
On a possible meeting with Jumblatt, Aoun said “circumstances are starting to ripen. It won’t be long before we meet.” He added that he did not have any preconditions for such an encounter.
Public Works and Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi said that the date and location of the Jumblatt-Aoun meeting are still under negotiation.
Aoun said Jumblatt’s move “resembles in general what we did in 2005.” He said the Progressive Socialist Party leader came across the “same vacuum that I found because the scope of the majority is limited to individuals and does not include the people as a whole.”
He said Jumblatt can afford to change directions “without paying the price politically, inside his party and with his public. But this is not possible with all parties.”
“What distinguishes Jumblatt from others is his steady leadership and the support from his base, which enables him to be daring and engage in self-criticism,” Aoun said.
“I believe Jumblatt was shocked by the US stance on the May 7 incidents, in addition to the US contribution to the May 5 government decisions, which is why he reevaluated the reasons behind the position he found himself in and this led him to admit his mistake,” Aoun said.
“The Lebanese Forces and the Phalange party will become a minority, and the March 14 alliance’s project is over,” he said, adding “The March 14 Christians do not know where they are heading. This is like riding a ship without a compass.”
“They are against Hezbollah’s weapons arsenal but they do not have any blueprint, at the same time they want to negotiate with Israel,” he added.
General Aoun described Maronite Patriarch Sfeir as a religious but not political reference and said the Patriarch’s biggest mistake was to warn of a threat to the Lebanese entity. “We have the noblest past in preserving Lebanon, no one sacrificed as much as we did, and I do not allow the Patriarch or anyone else to say otherwise,” he said.
Regarding the cabinet formation, Aoun said he had asked for five ministerial seats but refused to specify names before finalizing portfolios.
He said Telecommunications Minister Gebran Bassil was the victim of a political campaign against him during his term as minister, despite making significant achievements, such as ending black market cards and expanding the mobile network. “We are willing to replace the Telecommunications Ministry with a very significant ministry,” he said.
He also noted that he had a deep personal and political relationship with Marada Movement leader MP Sleiman Franjieh.
Aoun also said the US and Europe encouraged Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri to engage in dialogue with Hezbollah but at the same time prevented him from communicating with Aoun because they want Christians to be isolated. “Our agreement with Hezbollah is a form of implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1559,” he said. He noted that this resolution infringed on some powers of the presidency.
“Israel used to solve its problems within its neighborhood through the use of force, but it failed in 2006 and it will fail again because the Resistance is stronger,” Aoun said. He added that the UN Security Council believes Israel’s claims without seeking proof, but do not believe the Lebanese even if presented with evidence.