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Hezbollah: “for a non-sectarian Lebanon”

12. April 2007

Interview with Dr. Ali Fayyad, President of the Consultative Center for
the Studies & Documentation known as Hezbollah’s Think-Tank and
member of the party’s executive

Question: Regarding the situation in Lebanon seven month after the end of the war, do you feel that the UN troops are protecting the Lebanese population or do you consider them to be occupation troops?

A.F.: I think that the US resolution 1701 can be approached from two different points of view. We can say that the United Nations are controlled by the USA and that the UNIFIL want to help Israel and consequently try to disarm Hezbollah. But at the same time you can also say that there are many paragraphs of this resolution that state as the main role of the UN troops in the South of Lebanon to help the Lebanese people and the Lebanese government to safe Lebanese sovereignty. Based on this point we announced our attitude towards the UN troops in the South of Lebanon. We said that we are ready to deal positively with them if they will help Lebanon and not help Israel. We can say that this is our condition for dealing positively with the UN troops in the South of Lebanon.

Question: Do you think that there is the danger of a new aggression by Israel?

A. F.: This is a serious threat. The Israelis said that they are working to re-prepare their army to be ready for a new war against Hezbollah and against Lebanon. I think we have to take this seriously.

Question: What is the internal situation in Lebanon like? The alliance of opposition force had been mobilizing for the resignation of the Siniora government, but this attempt has failed. Can you explain to us why?

A.F.: Now in Lebanon there is a big division between two political groups. The first one is inside the Siniora government. Those are pro American. And there is a Lebanese opposition which refuses Lebanon to be controlled by the Americans or by the West in general. We think that today no solution to this crisis is close. We are going towards an escalation and the main obstacle to reach a compromise between the two groups is the American attitude. The USA is preventing a compromise between them and they announced frankly that they refuse that Hezbullah be given an appropriate representation in the Lebanese government.

Question: What was Hezbollah’s proposal for the compromise?

A.F.: There are many issues. First of all we have to be an active part of the government. We have to get a third plus one of the members of government. Secondly there has to be a discussion about the internal organization of the international tribunal. This is our right. We have to discuss the functioning of this tribunal based on the principle of keeping the Lebanese sovereignty. How can we prevent this tribunal to be politicized? Third, we have to agree on a new electoral system in Lebanon. These are the three issues.

Question: This was the compromise that you had proposed to the Siniora government. Are these also the main points of Hesbollah’s political programme?

A.F.: Yes, this is our programme. Our main objective is to save the Lebanese stability. We need this stability because of the weak Lebanese economy. And we think that Lebanese national unity is necessary to face the Israeli and American challenges and the Israeli threat against Lebanon.

Question: When speaking about unity in Lebanon, you are speaking about unity with forces like Jumblat or Geagea that have clearly sided with the US. How can Hezbollah as a resistance movement call for unity with such forces?

A.F.: We have to be pragmatic in this case because Lebanon is a sectarian society and some of these leaders represent important confessional groups in Lebanon. Finally we have to build up our country and I think there will not be stability between the different Lebanese groups. Yes, we don’t agree with their policies and alliances. We have completely different perspectives on the future of Lebanon. But we refuse to deal with these differences by fighting or by returning to the civil war. In this case we have one choice. We have to find a compromise, but a special compromise that keeps the position of Lebanon orientated against America’s position in the Middle East.

Question: What is Hezbollah’s long term project for Lebanon? What kind of society do you want to build in Lebanon?

A.F.: First of all we are striving to building a Lebanese political system without sectarian structures. We want to keep the Lebanese sovereignty. We have to build up the Lebanese armed forces in a way which can prevent Israel to attack our society, our country. We are eager to have good relations between the resistance and the Lebanese armed forces. And finally we have to cooperate with the other groups in order to find a solution to the Lebanese economic crises which is very dangerous.

Question: Are you willing to integrate the forces of Hezbollah into the Lebanese army?

A.F.: We are prepared to prolong the discussion on this point. First of all we have to determine the national defence strategy and after that we can say what is the future of the resistance and where could be the position of the resistance inside or outside the armed forces.

Question: Do you propose a change of the treatment of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon who have not been granted any rights by the Lebanon state so far?

A.F.: This is an essential point in our political programme. We have been working and will continue to do so to give the Palestinian refugees full rights, as Lebanese people have it. This includes the right to work in Lebanon, the right to receive assistance by the state and all other civil rights.

Question: In Europe, Hezbollah is perceived as a radical Islamic organization. The Cairo Conference calls for unity in struggle between Islamic and leftist forces. What do you think about this issue?

A.F.: We are a national resistance movement. We have specific goals. We want to liberate our occupied territories. We are striving to liberate our prisoners from Israeli prisons. And we want to defend Lebanon against the Israeli threat against our national sovereignty. We are a political party working to reform our political regime. We are a democratic party because we are trying to develop in a progressive sense the relations with other Lebanese groups, Christian groups, the national patriotic current lead by Michel Aoun and other secular groups like the Communist party and the Nasserite party and all others which agree on our political programme especially regarding the necessity of resistance against Israel.

Question: Does Hezbollah support the Iraqi resistance and how do you think the threat of a civil war in Iraq can be overcome?

A.F.: I think the civil war between the Iraqi groups is a real threat which we have to face. We have to encourage the different Iraqi groups to work for their unity. I think the conflict between the Iraqi people, especially between Shiite and Sunni and between Arab and Curds is a plotted American strategy. We announced and I have also done so today that we support the Iraqi resistance against the American occupation.

Question: Do you think that there is a danger of the split of the Arab resistance movements over the question of Iran?

A.F.: Iran is a big power in the region and I think it is the first power that confronts the American power and its military troops in the region. We have to help Iran, all of us have to help Iran in this battle. If the US will attack Iran, this will even increases the threat of an American aggression against the whole region. We have to reconsider the picture that we have of Iran and in particular we have to understand what Iran is doing in Iraq. I refuse the ideas about the Iranian sectarian role in Iraq. I have a different opinion on that and I call on other political forces to make an effort to understand the reality of the Iranian politics in Iraq.

Cairo, April 1, 2007