Sheikh Kasem: Lebanon Presidential Void is US Decision
04/01/2008 Hezbollah deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Kassem unveiled a decision by Washington to keep Fouad Saniora as "Prime Minister." Sheikh Kassem's words came as Lebanon is witnessing strained political wrangling and rows between the loyalty and opposition blocs over the guaranteeing one third of ministers in a national unity government. "We know exactly why you (loyalty) don't want the guaranteeing third. Two months ago, and I have to reveal this, one of the main figures in the country held a meeting with Feltman (US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman) and the dialogue was related to us by a third party. Feltman said that he had told the February 14 bloc that they only have two choices; either to elect a president with the half-plus-one formula or to let Saniora's government continue ruling. When asked about seeking a way to bring MP Saad Hariri on top of the government, Feltman said that we (Washington) prefer Saniora over Hariri to top the government; however we cannot accomplish this through normal procedures. It is best that Saniora's government keeps ruling even if this goes on until parliamentary elections (2009)." Sheikh Kassem challenged the February 14 bloc to go for early elections if this dialogue never took place.
The deputy Secretary General denounced Saniora's comments on Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah's TV interview on Wednesday.
Saniora accused Hezbollah of aiming at changing the political system and torpedoing the Taef agreement. "Nasrallah doesn't mind prolonging the presidential void to reach his purpose," Saniora said in a statement. Sheikh Kassem described Saniora's long statement as one written by someone who seeks prominence and strives for a certain value. "Those who seek prominence and strive for a certain value usually intrude upon 'heavyweights'. But the context of Saniora's statement was incompetent," his eminence said.
He added: "Saniora said that Hezbollah wants to impose veto power on the government. Who said that the guaranteeing third is Hezbollah? It is Hezbollah, the Amal Movement and the Change and Reform bloc (of MP General Michel Aoun). Therefore, there are many parties in this country who have the right to rule and participate." Sheikh Kassem criticized Saniora and his ruling bloc for setting other democracies as example for the way to rule the country. "Who said that we have a minority-majority democracy in Lebanon? Our regime is sectarian with a consensus democracy. If you want to have a minority-majority regime, then let us apply this democracy on everything. You can't threaten us with this because you cannot tolerate such democracy," the deputy Secretary General said.
Sheikh Kassem insisted that the opposition wants a solution to the ongoing crisis, "but they (loyalty) don't."
He lashed out at Saniora and his government for failing to make accomplishments in Lebanon, at least during the past year. "When Saniora or someone from his ministerial bloc says: 'we are not responsible for the lack of security, deterioration of economics and social and political instability; we also cannot take legal action for many considerations,' then what is this government doing? The most unsuccessful government yet is Saniora's government. And then you (Saniora's bloc) talk about public debt. People know that the public debt has reached 45 billion dollars, but why? Isn't it because of the financial policy of Fouad Saniora which he practiced in past governments?" Sheikh Kassem asked.
"Saniora brags that during the past year, he realized 4910 resolutions, but this means 4910 violations of the constitution," he added.
'Fall of Saniora Poses Strategic Danger on Israel'
04/01/2008 Since the rise of the head of the unconstitutional government Fouad Saniora to power, the Israeli overt and covert support to him has not yet ceased. Reviewing a series of Israeli positions makes it crystal cleat that Tel Aviv reckons Saniora's fall would pose a strategic danger on Israel. Yoram Binur, Israeli specialist in Arab affairs told Israeli Channel 2 that "for Israel, the success of demonstrations to topple Saniora is not only a tactical danger but a fundamentally strategic one as well."
After Israel's 2006 aggression against Lebanon, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed craving for meeting Saniora. Olmert had announced on November 7, 2006 that mediation between him and Saniora is underway to fix a meeting for them.
"I hope things would happen in Lebanon, and I can say that two great leaders are working upon my request to pave the way for personal meeting between me and Saniora," Olmert said.
Moreover, Olmert told the German Newspaper Der Spiegel on December 14, 2006 that he had tried to remove any force that endangers Saniora, adding that nothing would strengthen Saniora more than weakening Hezbollah. For his part, then vice PM Shemon Perez told the 'Kol al-Arab' weakly newspaper, that he had met with Lebanese officials without disclosing their identities, and that Israel is concerned that Saniora's government doesn’t fall.
Meanwhile, former military intelligence chief, Aharon Zeevi, praised Saniora's government saying that "from what we are reading we have no doubt that Saniora's government is considered a Jewish government and the steps that we are taking to support Saniora overtly are in fact hurting him."
Some Israeli parties even demanded the government stops IAF overflights over Lebanon "because they can weaken Saniora on the one hand and give Hezbollah more legitimacy," according to Yediot Aharonot. Perhaps the clearest evidence of Israeli support to Saniora and his ruling bloc is the Winograd Report. Parts of the "Partial Winograd Report" have been removed because they include names of the Lebanese figures from the February 14 bloc who had played a major role in starting the Second Lebanon War, according to Israeli media.
Monday, January 7, 2008
Sheikh Kasem: Lebanon Presidential Void is US Decision