BEIRUT: Hezbollah Chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah Sunday urged rival groups to resolve the presidential deadlock in the shortest time possible, adding that his group sought a president who would back, rather than abandon, the resistance.
“Starting today, we have entered a very critical phase in Lebanon, which we should deal with in a calm manner to preserve civil peace and stability,” Nasrallah said via a television screen in the southern village of Bint Jbeil as Lebanon celebrated Liberation Day.
“These are difficult times, but people can't lose their temper. We must maintain civil peace and continue dialogue on the national level.”
“What is important is to exert all efforts to shorten the period of time [in vacuum] and have an elected president as soon as possible, rather than observe and wait for regional developments,” he added.
Lebanon plunged into a presidential vacuum Sunday with the end of President Michel Sleiman’s six-year term and no candidate capable of garnering the required majority to win.
Nasrallah said the Lebanese still had a chance to elect a “Lebanon-made” president, who he said should be “strong, capable of preserving stability and peace, backed by his environment and the people, capable of reassuring the various political groups and be able to truly help Lebanon overcome this difficult phase.”
The Hezbollah chief also spoke about negotiations between Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun and head of the Future Movement former PM Saad Hariri, saying Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea’s candidacy was aimed primarily at obstructing Aoun’s chance of becoming president.
“This challenging candidacy was only announced to cut short another candidacy ... because we and they know that the latter [Geagea] did not have a chance of reaching the post,” Nasrallah said.
He also accused his rivals in the March 14 coalition of seeking to extend Sleiman’s term
“They did not have any intention at all to elect a president before May 25 but [instead intended] to extend the president’s mandate ... and they offered us so many things for such a purpose,” he added. He also called on politicians to keep the issue of the salary scale and appointments at the Lebanese University outside of the political debate.
Nasrallah, whose ties with Sleiman deteriorated in recent months over the former president’s opposition to Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria, also said his group sought a president who would not backstab the resistance.
“We don’t want a president to protect the resistance. The resistance in Lebanon is the one that protects the state, the people and the sovereignty,” he said.
“We want a president that does not conspire against us, [does] not backstab us, and remains solid on their position to support the resistance ... that’s not a difficult condition,” Nasrallah added.
Nasrallah also touched on the tripartite formula of the “Army, the people and the resistance,” which has come under scrutiny from the party’s critics in light of Hezbollah’s military presence in Syria.
“I want to affirm here the policy of deterrence ... as the only means capable of protecting Lebanon, its land, people, state and resources,” he said.
“As long as there is an imbalance of power [between Lebanon] and the enemy, this will remain the only available strategy ... and no one has ever offered a serious [alternative] strategy to achieve that balance,” he added.
Sleiman had presented a national defense strategy in 2012 that would have incorporated Hezbollah’s arms in the Lebanese Army, which would remain under the state’s command. The National Dialogue session which was scheduled to discuss Sleiman’s proposal was boycotted by Hezbollah in protest of the former president’s stance on the resistance.
Earlier this year, Sleiman said political parties should not cling to “wooden equations,” referring to Hezbollah’s “people, resistance, army” tripartite formula.
Nasrallah responded to Sleiman once again during his speech, saying Hezbollah was committed to the “golden tripartite formula.”
“Whether it was written in the Cabinet’s ministerial statement or not, the spirit of the formula is well preserved, meaning, it exists,” he said, referring to the current government’s policy statement.
He also reiterated that the resistance maintained its deterrence force against Israel despite the conflict in Syria, saying: “Despite developments in the region particularly in Syria ... the resistance is working day and night to develop and improve its deterrence force which is what worries the enemy.”
Nasrallah vowed to respond to Israel’s violations on the border with Lebanon, which he said had increased in recent months.
“The rate of Israel’s violations have increased with soldiers shooting and yelling at Lebanese farmers, and so on ... the normal solution to such issues is being handled by the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL,” he said.
“And if the situation has not yet reached a dangerous level, then such a solution is acceptable,” Nasrallah added.
“But if it reaches that point which requires our intervention, then we will not remain silent with reards to these offenses and violations,” he warned.
During his speech commemorating the withdrawal of the Israeli Army from south Lebanon in 2000, Nasrallah said that Syria's regime and the "resistance axis" will emerge victorious in the Syrian conflict.
"Syria will triumph and the resistance axis will triumph," he said, speaking two weeks ahead of the June 3 presidential election in Syria.
Thousands of Hezbollah fighters are backing the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad against rebel groups.
Nasrallah underlined that the foreign fighters in Syria who will eventually go back to their countries of origin constituted a “threat to global security.”
Defending once again his party’s involvement in the Syrian conflict, he said that the turn of events there demonstrated that Hezbollah’s “analysis and our stance were correct.”
“There will come a time when all truths will be revealed and only then will all the governments in the region, including the governments that conspired against Syria and paid money to fuel the conflict in Syria, will come forward and thank Syria for avoiding a series of disasters, troubles and drastic repercussions,” the Hezbollah leader said.
“Even here in Lebanon,” Nasrallah continued. “Those who criticized our involvement will eventually thank us, even if they don’t do so in public.”
Nasrallah hailed Syria as “the heart of Arabism,” adding that Lebanon’s biggest neighbor stood up against Israel.
“Syria still supports the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance. Why shouldn't we support our allies?” He asked.
Nasrallah highlighted the U.S. and Israel’s ambition to divide the Middle East saying, “the other project hasn't achieved a decisive victory, and it won't.”