Lebanon 'failed state' under Hezbollah leadership, says party's ally

Hezbollah ally Gebran Bassil attacked Hezbollah for preventing Lebanon's cabinet from meeting.

A Hezbollah flag and a poster depicting Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah are pictured along a street, near Sidon, Lebanon July 7, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/ALI HASHISHO)
A Hezbollah flag and a poster depicting Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah are pictured along a street, near Sidon, Lebanon July 7, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/ALI HASHISHO)

Gebran Bassil, the head of the Hezbollah-ally Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), attacked Hezbollah for holding up Lebanon's cabinet for over two months on Sunday, saying that the state is a "failure" under Hezbollah's leadership, according to Lebanese media.

The FPM and Hezbollah have been allies since 2006 when they signed a memorandum of understanding known as the Mar Mikhael agreement. The agreement established an alliance between the two parties and expressed a commitment to a number of principles on how the Lebanese state should be structured.

Bassil called for a major change to the entire system of government in Lebanon, saying “we want a civil, secular state, a strong army, a productive economy and an independent foreign policy," according to Naharnet.

Referring to Hezbollah's refusal to allow a cabinet meeting unless Justice Tarek Bitar is removed from the Beirut port blast case, Bassil expressed outrage that "some have turned consensual democracy into a veto right for every sect, and they're using it to paralyze Cabinet or even prevent voting on ordinary resolutions."

Bassil additionally stressed that the "resistance" (referring to Hezbollah's military forces) must remain under the state and not above it. "We cannot afford to lose the state for the resistance."

Gebran Bassil, leader of Lebanon's biggest Christian bloc, the Free Patriotic Movement, gestures as he speaks after a parliamentary session at UNESCO Palace in Beirut, Lebanon, October 19, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/ISSAM ABDALLAH)Gebran Bassil, leader of Lebanon's biggest Christian bloc, the Free Patriotic Movement, gestures as he speaks after a parliamentary session at UNESCO Palace in Beirut, Lebanon, October 19, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/ISSAM ABDALLAH)

The FPM leader additionally expressed outrage that Hezbollah was maintaining its alliance with the Amal party, blaming Amal for holding up votes in the parliament. Bassil claimed that Hezbollah had no answers for the issues at hand and that their only answer was "Berri!" according to Naharnet.

“Lebanon cannot be without a state! They (Hezbollah) are losing people's sympathy and the problem has become with all communities, from all orientations and sects, both allies and rivals," stressed Bassil. "I have warned that the problem has become deep within the FPM's bases, and when I no longer become convinced of some things, I do not try to convince them of them."

Despite the criticism of Hezbollah, Bassil stressed that the FPM still chose the Mar Mikhael agreement over joining with the Christian Lebanese Forces, saying that the Force's leader, Samir Gaegea, "has always been linked to foreign interests, whether Israel or the United States."

However, Bassil warned that while joining with Hezbollah would make them stronger in elections, the FPM would rather be alone if it meant retaining their honesty and dignity. Bassil additionally stressed that he had tried to improve the Mar Mikhael agreement with Hezbollah behind closed doors and was only making these public statements because those talks did not meet their demands.

Bassil's comments come a week after Lebanese President Michel Aoun, the founder of the FPM, attacked Hezbollah for holding up the cabinet meeting, demanding that the "unjustified, deliberate and systematic blockage which dismantles the State and drives it to its demise" be ended.

"By which law, by which logic, by which constitution is the Council of Ministers blocked, asked to make a decision that does not fall within its powers and have its action frozen over an issue that does not represent a pact-related disagreement?" said Aoun.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah is set to speak on Monday at 6 p.m. to mark the second anniversary of the assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.

Hezbollah has expressed strong opposition in recent months to Bitar continuing the investigation. The case has been suspended multiple times due to allegations of bias filed by officials who have been charged by the judge.

Both implied and explicit threats have been made by Hezbollah and its allies against Bitar in recent months, claiming that the investigation is being influenced by foreign and political pressure.

The investigation into the Beirut port blast has also been halted for a fourth time due to a lawsuit by ex-ministers who Bitar had summoned for investigation.