Former Lebanese Presidents, Prime Ministers Arouse Ire of Hezbollah for Letter to Arab Leaders Decrying Terrorist Organization’s, Iranian Interference
Five former Lebanese presidents and prime ministers aroused the ire of Hezbollah and its supporters this week for penning a letter to Jordanian King Abdullah II requesting that the Arab world cease allowing the Lebanon-based terrorist organization and its patron, Iran, to interfere in regional affairs, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the letter — signed by Amine Gemayel, Michel Suleiman, Najib Mikati, Fuad Al-Siniora and Tammam Salam — was published in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar on Wednesday, ahead of the 28th Arab League summit in Amman. According to MEMRI, the epistle set out principles for Lebanon’s domestic and foreign policy — among these the “upholding [its] exclusive authority… and its security apparatuses to wield arms and opposing illegal arms,” an allusion to Hezbollah.
Other references to Hezbollah, without specifying the Lebanon-based terrorist organization by name, included opposition to its control of various parts of Lebanon, its involvement in Syria and its helping Iran to meddle in Arab affairs in the region.
The letter, translated by MEMRI, reads in part:
In light of the dangers threatening our homeland Lebanon and our Arab ummah, we, former presidents and prime ministers of Lebanon… emphasize [that Lebanon must adhere to the following principles]:
1. Complete commitment to the Taif Agreement and to the full implementation of all its clauses, as well as to the [Lebanese] constitution and to coexistence among all Lebanese…
2. Lebanese commitment to its Arab affiliation, to the Arab consensus, and to the resolutions of the Arab League and of the legitimate international [bodies] regarding Lebanon and the Arabs – first and foremost [UN] Resolution 1701 that guarantees Lebanon’s security vis-à-vis Israel and upholds its right [to regain] its territories that remain under Israeli occupation.
3. Commitment to the 2011 [sic] Ba’abda Declaration, which pronounced Lebanon neutral vis-a-vis the policies of [regional] axes and regional and international crises, in order to spare it the negative consequences of regional tensions and crises and safeguard its supreme interests, its national unity and the security of its citizens. This, with the exception of [Lebanon’s] commitment to international resolutions and to the Arab consensus, as well as to the just Palestinian cause, including the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their lands and their homes rather than be naturalized [in Lebanon]; [as well as] commitment to refrain from interfering in the Syria crisis and to condemn foreign interference in the affairs of Lebanon and [other] Arab [countries].
4. The Arabs must show solidarity with Lebanon [in the following matters]: the liberation of its lands [the Shab’a Farms, held by Israel]; the rejection of illegal arms [i.e., Hizbullah’s arms]; and the need for the Lebanese state and its military and security apparatuses to exercise sole control over all Lebanese territory, as entailed by [the principles of] sovereignty, rule of law, and legitimacy. [The Arabs] must also support Lebanon so it can meet the challenges [posed by] the crisis of the Syrian refugees [living] in Lebanon and extend it political and material assistance until the [refugees] return to their homes.
5. We, the undersigned, believe that the security and unity of Lebanon are based upon several foundations, chiefly support for a [Lebanese] state that exercises full and exclusive control over all Lebanese territories; rejection of illegal arms; opposition to all forms of terror; and respect for the Arab and international legitimacy [i.e., resolutions] and the principles of coexistence…
According to MEMRI, the letter appears to convey opposition to Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s recent defense of Hezbollah.
While on a visit to Cairo in February, Aoun told Egyptian news channel CBC, “As long as Israel continues to occupy lands and the Lebanese army is not strong enough to stand up to it, we feel the need to have the resistance army as a complement to the Lebanese army’s actions. The resistance’s arms are not contrary to the state project…It is an essential part of Lebanon’s defense. Hezbollah represents the people of the south. They are the inhabitants of the land who defend themselves when Israel tries to occupy or threaten them.”