By Mohammad Mazhari

Americans striving to return Lebanon to chaotic situation: West Asia commissioner for human rights

July 3, 2020 - 13:28

TEHRAN – The commissioner for West Asia at the International Human Rights Commission is of the opinion that the U.S. is using all means to push Lebanon toward chaos.

“Americans are striving with all means to return the chaotic conditions in Lebanon again,” Haissam Bou-Said tells the Tehran Times when asked about U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea who last week accused "Hezbollah of destabilizing the country and jeopardizing Lebanon's economic recovery."

Shea's statement was considered by many Lebanese as offensive, pitting rival groups against each other.

Analysts likened Shea's words to pouring oil on the fire of sectarian strife in the country.

Bou-Said is among those who say the ambassadors must avoid interfering in the host country's internal affairs.

“Interfering in the host country's internal affairs, inciting any group to another group, calling for participation in demonstrations, gatherings, and meetings for a coup against the host authority or creating any riot is unacceptable.” Bou-Said points out.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: Many Lebanese accuse U.S. ambassador of obviously interfering in Lebanese internal affairs and violating international conventions. What is your comment on it?

A: These are not just accusations, but a reality that has occurred since she arrived in Lebanon and assuming her duties as U.S ambassador to Lebanon. What Ambassador Dorothy Shea has done in the media through her statements is baseless, false, and offensive to the Lebanese people; few of the Lebanese people agree with what she said, for political and sectarian reasons. It is true that we, as an international human rights committee, cannot agree on the necessity of acquiring a weapon of any size, however by the principle of deterring the Israeli regime that occupied Palestine and still violates every day the rights of Muslims and Christians together, it becomes necessary to find ways to defend.

Q: What are the reasons for making such provocative statements in such a situation? Should we expect new developments?

A: The reasons to make such statements at this time and intentions of the American administration is obvious; They are striving with all means to return the chaotic conditions again, especially if we take many factors into account, including worldwide protests against racism in the United States. After the American police killed George Floyd, and their efforts to reinvigorating the extremist "takfiri" groups in West Asia and North Africa, as well as the Caesar Law passed in 2016 which was activated a few weeks ago.

Yes, in response to the second part of your question, we have to be somewhat cautious because the rapid developments in the Arab streets, especially in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, and probably soon in Tehran according to the information we receive, indicate malicious intent on the pretext of human rights. Still, the center for planning these developments is in another place designed to apply the "American and Israeli" agenda in the region.

Q: How do you evaluate Lebanese officials' reaction to the controversial statements of the American ambassador?

A: We issued a statement supporting the Lebanese prime minister's reform plan presented to the Lebanese Parliament. This plan is faltering as a result of conflicts between political groups in Parliament, and this reflects on the government's performance in terms of making decisive decisions. However, in the case of Ambassador Dorothy Shea, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nassif Hitti summoned the American ambassador on Monday afternoon to inform her of the government's dissatisfaction with her statements and interventions in Lebanese internal affairs under Article 41 of the Vienna Convention of 1961. But it seems that Ambassador Shea, who is not from President Trump's school, in her military experience, has yet to understand how dangerous it is to break the law.

In the second part of your question, we have asked for the international article's application that explicitly indicates the warning or expulsion of any diplomat doesn't respect international conventions.

Q: What do international conventions say about missions of ambassadors?

A: Ambassadors in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 have many advantages that cannot be mentioned here, and the most important advantages are diplomatic immunity, which allows them not to appear in the judiciary and not be held accountable in any government department in the host country, but there are also regulations and standards for ambassadors prohibit engaging in any business or any work that might result in financial benefits for them.

Moreover, any kind of interfering in the host country's internal affairs, inciting any group to another group, calling for participation in demonstrations, gatherings, and meetings for a coup against the host authority or creating any riot is unacceptable.

Q: What is the basic reason for the current economic crisis in Lebanon?

A: The economic crisis in Lebanon today is the result of the accumulations of wrong policies and financial engineering carried out by previous governments since 1992, when former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri came to power, bringing the economic sector under the control of his government. Lebanese central bank governor Riad Salameh occupied his position with absolute powers during Prime Minister Hariri's term. Therefore the current economic crisis in the country is the result of those policies that did not succeed for many different reasons, including the failure of the peace negotiations in 1993, which was counted on by Hariri's government, as well as financial waste in Lebanese administrations as a result of conflicts between political groups. There are also productive and non-productive projects that have also been the basis for being shared between political parties, each benefited according to the size of its parliamentary bloc and its representation in the government.

Today, Diab's government tries to manage and contain the consequences of those policies; some political leaders in Lebanon are still active and sabotaging the efforts to support the Lebanese government, which decided to turn towards the East to find financial aid and rise again.

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