By Mohammad Mazhari

U.S. interfering in Arab countries to guarantee Israel's security: Lebanese journalist

July 4, 2020 - 10:56

TEHRAN – A Lebanese journalist believes that U.S. interference in the Arab countries is first and foremost intended to provide security for Israel.

After U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea's comments against Hezbollah in an interview with Saudi state-owned broadcaster al-Hadath, her words were rebuffed as open interference in the domestic affairs of Lebanon and a violation of diplomatic norms.

Shea had accused Hezbollah of obstructing economic reforms in Lebanon.

"Frankly, this resembles an act of war against a certain group of Lebanese society," Abir Bassam tells the Tehran Times 

Bassam says, "It is not the ambassadors' job in general to discuss the country's internal affairs." 

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What is your comment on the statements of the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon?

A: In the best-case scenario, we can say that the ambassador was critical of Hezbollah in Lebanon. However, it did not stop at this stage. The ambassador accused Hezbollah of taking the Lebanese government hostage and holding back its economic growth.

Firstly, this kind of speech addresses the Lebanese people and their officials and is considered interference in domestic affairs.

"This kind of remarks (by the U.S. ambassador) is provocative to those who have always been aligned with the resistance movement, and even causes frustration to those who are against Hezbollah."Secondly, this kind of remarks are provocative to those who have always been aligned with the resistance movement, and even causes frustration to those who are against Hezbollah.

Thirdly, it is not the ambassadors' job in general to discuss the countries' internal affairs. Besides, this shows Americans' intentions towards Hezbollah and Lebanon's stability, which is becoming more and more fragile since the 17th of November 2019.

The ambassador's accusations present an aggressive political attitude towards a certain group of people who are part of the Lebanese population and are officially represented with Hezbollah parliamentarians in the Lebanese parliament. Frankly, this resembles an act of war against a certain group of Lebanese society.

Q: Do you think these statements signal new developments in Lebanon? 

A: It might be. Or perhaps the Americans are preparing for such a thing. In the end, the Americans' interferences in the Arab countries have been aimed at one end goal, which is the security of Israel.
However, the Resistance in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, is their biggest challenge to protect Israel. And it is still true. Hence, one element of protection for Israel can be provided by recalling for civil war in Lebanon again.

Q: Why Lebanon's economy is in crisis? Is Hezbollah really jeopardizing the economy in Lebanon?

A: The Lebanese fundamental economic crisis has started with the economic procedures adopted by the governments of Lebanon since 1991. The economic policy was based on services, turning Lebanon into a service provider state in the region. These services depend mainly on monetary services and different kinds of tourism: from sightseeing to medical tourism. To a large extent, this marginalized agriculture and industry and made Lebanon dependent solely on imports and very little export. However, Lebanon had to compete with other main countries that have been remotely providing these services and doing an excellent job, such as India, Australia, and Belgium. Lebanon, especially after the 15-year civil war (1975-1990), cannot be such a competitor to these states.

This policy was deeply related to the atmosphere that prevailed in 1990, with many Arab countries signing peace treaties with Israel. Syria was leading such peace talks as well, after the first war in the (Persian) Gulf in 1990. However, the foundation of such economic policy proved to be based on cartoon boards. Syria withdrew from the peace talks, Rabin was killed, and Lebanon backed by Syria continued its resistance against the Israeli occupation in South Lebanon. In this period of history, Hezbollah demonstrated formidable Resistance and Islamic Resistance that led to significant accomplishments against Israel until the liberation of the South in May 2000.

Regarding the second part of the question, it can be simply stated in the following mannre: the U.S. will not give any financial aid to Lebanon as long as Hezbollah is in the government. The U.S. doesn't have any problem with Hezbollah as a political party; it has a problem with its Axis of Resistance; in other words, it has a problem with Hezbollah's advanced missiles arsenal, which brings us back to the basics that are the Israeli's security! 
Therefore, the World Bank will not be giving any more loans based on its conditions. Hezbollah insists that the conditions should not contradict Lebanon's sovereignty and its autonomous decisions. It argues that the World Bank is not allowed to interfere in the Lebanese internal and external decisions.

Q: Do you expect the Lebanese government to contain the economic crisis?

A: Diab's government has been doing fine with all the crises accumulated during the past 20 years. However, this government is not getting the support it needs even from the parties that have brought it into existence. Too many conflicting interests are governing these parties and, in particular, the coming (U.S.) presidential elections.

A sharp fall in the value of the Lebanese currency is the worst thing that was tasked with this government to deal with. Working with a central bank governor who has allowed the smuggling of the dollars outside the country and guarding the U.S. interests are among the major obstacles, as politicians and fiscal specialists have repeatedly accused him of. The dollar price defines the prices in Lebanon, including gasoline, bread, rice, vegetable, meat, medicine, etc. 

The government's main problem is that it has not been able to present an emergency policy for passing the current stage or a long-term plan to face the following phases. 

The government's measures are trying to take into account the development of the agricultural and industrial sectors. Still, Lebanon's borders to the East are closed, even with its sister country, Syria. It is under American restrictions; it seems that Lebanon is unable to face these challenges.

In the end, all should take responsibility for this condition, including the current government and the majority in the parliament. They need to take bold steps towards Syria, Iran, China, and Russia…etc. It should get close to the whole countries mentioned above, or at least Syria. This is a must.

Q: Concurrent with increasing pressure on Hezbollah, the world is witnessing the Israeli move to excavate gas on Lebanon's marine border. What's your evaluation of this?

A: In my opinion, it is irrelevant. Israel must have received the U.S.'s approval to take such a step, which meets Trump's need to establish something he can please his AIPAC voters with.

It will have an added value for both the Israeli and the Americans if the Lebanese government and Hezbollah do not take bold steps in the face of the Israeli move. It will be a retreat for Lebanon and the Resistance.

Still, if they (Lebanon) make a move, the consequences must be measured carefully. At the end of the day, Israel does not want to open war on its "northern borders". However, if the Americans decided to do so, the Israelis could not refuse, as it happened in 2006. The war was an American decision.

I believe that both the Israelis and the Americans want Iran's head on a spike first. Thus, Hezbollah will be out of Syria; this is their aim. I came across that in many of my readings. They pushed for war against Iran; it turned out to be very costly for the Americans, especially after what the U.S. had experienced in Ein al-Assad in Iraq. Indeed, this is the scale by which I would measure the Israeli step. Nevertheless, until today, Israel has not come even a meter close to the Lebanese territorial waters. So, let us wait and see!



 

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