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Hezbollah claim US interfering in Gov’t formation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- Jeffrey Feltman, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and Mohammad Reza Reza Shibani, the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Middle East Affairs, have ended two simultaneous visits to Lebanon during which they met with Lebanese officials. Feltman came to reiterate a clear US stance, namely that the [US] relationship with the Lebanese government will be assessed on the basis of its cabinet statement, and its make-up. Shibani came to reaffirm Iran’s principles in support of the resistance and the government.

In this context, Hezbollah parliamentary sources have said that “Feltman came carrying a US message for President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister-Designate Najib Miqati that the government should not see the light. He also came to reiterate impossible US terms, especially the condition that the cabinet statement should include a clear signal that Lebanon abides by the decisions of the international tribunal”.

Sources have told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The Americans are exploiting what is happening in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, knowing that Syria is unable at present to push toward the formation of the Lebanese government because it is preoccupied with its internal affairs. Thus, as they have always done, they are using the Lebanese card as a bargaining chip in the negotiations and to put pressure on Damascus”. Regarding the degree to which Suleiman and Miqati accept the “American pressures”, the sources said that President Suleiman’s stance is close to that of the United States, because he wishes to reconnect what was cut off with the March 14 group, and because he wishes to re-admit this group into a national unity government. As for Prime Minister-Designate Miqati, he is cautious about dealing with what is being proposed, although he is now convinced that the 14 March group refuses to participate in any government of the kind that Suleiman is proposing”. The sources also pointed out that “Feltman came to hear new developments about the internal situation in Syria”. The sources added: “Syria has always played the role of facilitator in the government formation process. These days, however, in view of the fact that the lines are cut off between Syria and its allies in Lebanon, specifically with the three main components: the 8th March [alliance], Miqati, and Suleiman, matters will continue to stagnate until the internal situation in Syria crystallizes”. Regarding Shibani’s visit, the sources said: “The Iranian visit is a move to seek reassurance about the situation in Lebanon, and about the Lebanese-Syrian relationship, particularly since Shibani was Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon. He has also come to hear about the latest developments in Syria, and their impact upon Lebanon”.

In a related development, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said that he was unable to receive US Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman because he had a “busy schedule between Beirut and the south. My presence in the south allows me to see a clearer picture. Moreover, we have confidence in most of the officials with whom Feltman met”. It is worth noting that Speaker Berri met with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Reza Shibani on the same day that Feltman had requested a meeting with him. This sent out a clear signal. While Feltman’s meetings were confined to a limited number of officials, Shibani visited most of the political and spiritual leaders, and also met with Hezbollah Secretary General Al-Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah. After meeting with Prime Minister-Designate Najib Miqati, Shibani expressed hope that Miqati would succeed in forming the government, and then “practically” implement the agreements that Iran and Lebanon have signed. Shibani reiterated “the principled stand of the Islamic Republic of Iran in standing alongside Lebanon, the Lebanese people, and the brave Lebanese resistance as well as alongside the Lebanese government”. In his turn, Miqati affirmed “the importance of the relationship between Lebanon and Iran and the need to work to develop this relationship in all fields and to implement the agreements signed by the two countries, particularly in the field of economic development”. During a banquet in his honor at the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, Shibani said: “The Arab and Muslim world is passing through a fresh life and a new resurgence, thanks to the Islamic and human reawakening and the popular revolutions against dictatorial and corrupt regimes”. Shibani added. “These revolutions bring tidings of a new Middle East without the United States, the Zionist entity, and their allies in the region who imposed on Lebanon and its courageous people an unjust and unequal war in the summer of 2006”.

Mohammad Reza Shibani went on to say: “The noble popular revolts erupted exactly from the countries that were considered as part of Israel’s national security and part of the strategic western alliance, especially the American alliance. They were partners in the crime that Washington and Tel Aviv committed in imposing the 33-day war and the 22-day war on Lebanon and Gaza. These countries were also considered as supports for the US strategic and security policies in the Middle East and North Africa”. Shibani added: “No doubt, a new balance of forces has arisen and is crystallizing in the region and in the international order. The huge losses that the United States and the Zionist entity and their allies have suffered so far are inevitable losses that cannot be compensated. The aforementioned axis is now focusing on preventing more losses, controlling the situation, and buying time to absorb the spiritual and psychological shock and to understand the developing situation”.