Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Member of the Future Trend Bloc in the Lebanese Chamber of Deputies Mustafa Hashim has levied stinging criticism at Syria and Iran, saying that both countries have exploited his country to achieve gains in their conflict with the United States and Israel.
Hashim told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Arab nations “are aware and understand that Syria is hindering the solution in Lebanon,” and that if Syria objects to the fact that “the Shab’a Farms are Lebanese,” it has to present the maps that prove this.
Deputy Hashim stresses that deciding who represents Lebanon at the Arab summit is not in the hands of Prime Minister Fouad al-Siniora, “but it is in the hands of the Council of Ministers collectively,” because it is the entity that performs the duties of the president in the light of the current presidential vacuum. Hashim emphasizes that the Future Trend wishes “not to link the convening of the Arab summit (scheduled to be held in Damascus at the end of this month) to the election of the Lebanese president.”
Hashim points out that the memorandum that he presented as a member of the Lebanese parliamentary delegation to both Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu-al-Ghayt during the delegation’s recent visit to Cairo included the demand for the demarcation of the borders with Syria; saying that, “The Shab’a Farms are Lebanese. These are the borders of Lebanon, and if Syria objects, it has to show us the maps [that prove its claim].”
Regarding the possibility of dialogue with Syria to put an end to the current disputes, Deputy Hashim says that the Lebanese dialogue table has shown in the past the importance of establishing normal relations with Syria, and “at the Chamber of Deputies all agreed, both the majority and the opposition, on the need for the demarcation of the borders and the establishment of diplomatic relations [with Syria]; then Prime Minister Fouad al-Siniora went to Syria, but unfortunately the dialogue did not continue.”
With regard to the fear that the entire aim of the Arab initiative is only to elect the Lebanese president, and to keep the government of current Prime Minister Fouad al-Siniora as it is, the Lebanese deputy explained that, “Such fears are unfounded, because as soon as the president is elected, the government will submit its resignation, and a new government will be formed. However, this solution is hindered by the Lebanese opposition, with Iran and Syria behind it. Iran wants to keep the Lebanese card as a hostage in its dialogue with the United States about its nuclear dossier, and Syria wants to exploit the Lebanese card to strengthen its position in the negotiations with Israel if there is peace.”
Regarding assurances requested by the opposition at the quadripartite dialogue sponsored by the Arab League secretary-general, the Lebanese deputy points out that the majority has asked for the participation of all in the decision on war and peace: “This should be a unanimous Lebanese decision, and not in the hands of a single group on the Lebanese arena. His Eminence Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah has declared an open war on Israel after the assassination of Imad Mughniyah, and by this Hezbollah wants the decision of war to be left up to it.”
Hashim says that the recent visit by the majority delegation to Egypt was to deliver a memorandum to Musa and Abu-al-Ghayt to stress the importance of the Arab initiative in resolving the Lebanese crisis on the basis that it is the only initiative that is capable of settling and resolving the crisis. He added that, “The majority has offered all the facilities to make the initiative succeed. The memorandum (presented to the Arab League and Cairo officials) explains the viewpoint of the majority with regard to the identification of those who place obstacles in the way of the initiative, and the memorandum also includes the demand for the demarcation of the borders with Syria.”
With regard to whether the international tribunal still is behind the Lebanese crisis, Deputy Hashim told Asharq Al-Awsat that “We believe so, and we believe that Hezbollah is under pressure. It is well known that the opposition ministers withdrew from the government when the issue of the tribunal was presented, and then they resigned from the government after the system of the tribunal was ratified at the Council of Ministers. They said: We have reservations. We asked them to submit these reservations to the Lebanese people and to the UN Security Council, or to the Chamber of Deputies, but they refused.”
With regard to whether the disarming of Hezbollah is at the core of the problems of the Lebanese crisis, Deputy Hashim stressed that, “No one in Lebanon talks about disarming Hezbollah. Everybody is calling for drawing up a defense strategy of which the weapons of Hezbollah are a part.” Hashim explains that Sheikh Saad al-Hariri, leader of the Future Trend, has stressed that the article about the disarming of Hezbollah in the UN Security Council resolution is rejected, and “it is the subject of discussion among the Lebanese groups within the framework of a common defense strategy.”