Lebanon Elections

Nasrallah blasts Future's 'failure' to boost Lebanon's economy

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah speaks at an event, April 13, 2018. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: At an electoral rally for the southern Zahrani-Tyre district on Saturday, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah criticized the Future Movement for its "failure" to build Lebanon’s economy.

“There has been a kind of understanding in the country, that one party [Hezbollah] will fight for the country and protect it, and another, the Future Movement, will take care of the economy,” he said in a televised address from the Imam Hussein Mosque in Tyre.

“[Hezbollah] has been able to say, ‘these are my successes.’ We protect our country. Stability and security have been available since 2006,” he said, referring to the end of the war between Hezbollah and Israel.

“But where is the success of the economy file? Everyone agrees that we have an economic problem, that we have a huge debt, that the agriculture and the productive sectors are at an all-time low. We are ready to admit you succeeded if we can touch it,” he said.

The Hezbollah leader said he wasn’t interested in getting involved with economic issues, “as some people are saying, but I want to say that those in charge failed.”

Referring to ongoing plans to create a National Defense Strategy, expected to address the controversial issue of Hezbollah's arms, Nasrallah said his party was ready to confront the issue. “We haven’t run away from talking about a National Defense Strategy, and we will discuss it. But you [the Future Movement] are the one running from forming a national economic strategy,” he said.

“Corruption is rampant in all institutions. When we talk about a strong country, corruption has no place. There is no discussion, no need for debate, the steps are clear. But ... if the country stays like this, the country will crumble.”

Nasrallah also said that confessionalism was creeping into all sectors of Lebanese society, saying the issue was more important than dismantling the confessional system in the government itself. “Water is now confessional,” he quipped. “Next we’re going to have gas blocks [in the Mediterranean Sea] distributed according to sects.”

He criticized some politicians for choosing to help or ignore certain sectors based on whether or not their sect stood to benefit. “What kind of country operates like that? We can’t say it’s the fault of the United States, Arab countries or Israel. We have to take responsibility.”

He said political parties that exploited the confessional system to cement their support only further entrenched secularism in the country.

“When you have a minister working for his sect, his town and his kids’ [wellbeing], can we still call him a minister for Lebanon?”

Nasrallah urged support for Hezbollah and its ally the Amal Movement, stressing that candidates from the parties were united.

“Here in Zahrani-Tyre, you are not just voting for Parliament members, you’re voting for the next speaker [of Parliament],” a role currently occupied by Amal leader Nabih Berri. “There is no debate [among Hezbollah] that he should be reelected as speaker and he is the party’s strongest representation,” he said.

“I hope that on May 6 ... you will choose the Hope and Loyalty [electoral lists], the hope for the future. Your vote is a message in Tyre-Zahrani and all of south, that we won’t abandon the resistance and we won’t turn our back.”





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