Fears grow over Iran’s influence in Lebanon after Hezbollah, Amal cabinet move
BEIRUT: A decision by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement to end the Lebanese Cabinet boycott has led to speculation that Iran is taking steps to control Lebanon’s political system.
Lebanese Forces MP Ziad Hawat said, “The order came from Tehran, so the ‘disturbance duo’ decided to free the Cabinet meetings. These are the repercussions of external negotiations.
He added: “The ‘disturbance duo’ has pledged the country to outside will. But the legislative elections are approaching and the time for reckoning has come.
The two parties announced on Saturday that they would attend cabinet meetings after a three-month boycott.
The decision came as a surprise to many and had a positive impact on the exchange rate on Sunday.
Reacting to the announcement, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said he would convene a cabinet meeting as soon as the finance ministry forwards a draft budget.
He added that the decision “aligns with his repeated personal calls for everyone to participate in taking national responsibility in a way that preserves the national compact, especially in these critical times the country is going through.”
Mikati’s office noted the need “to establish a recovery plan to start the negotiation process with the International Monetary Fund”.
Some political observers said the two parties face a political stalemate and popular pressure accusing them of escalating crises.
The legislative elections are approaching and the two parties “want to absorb popular resentment before the date of the said elections next May”.
Other observers linked the two sides’ decision to “regional developments regarding the Vienna talks”.
They believe that “the decision to disrupt Cabinet meetings served an external agenda, particularly Iranian, and that they may have ended their boycott to show flexibility in the complicated negotiations”.
The two parties said in their joint statement on Saturday: “We announce our agreement to participate in Cabinet meetings to approve the national budget and discuss the economic rescue plan, and everything related to improving the living conditions of the Lebanese people. “.
They claimed that the decision came “following the acceleration of events and the escalation of the internal political and economic crisis to an unprecedented level, with the collapse of the Lebanese pound exchange rate, the decline of the public sector and the collapse of incomes and incomes of citizens”. purchasing power.”
Hezbollah and Amal also mentioned in their mutual statement that their boycott was due to the “unconstitutional steps taken by Judge Tarek Bitar in the Beirut port explosion case – the flagrant violations of the law, the flagrant politicization, lack of justice and lack of respect for normalization”.
Instead of Bitar presiding over the case, both sides have called for a parliamentary panel to look into the matter.
This demand, however, has yet to be carried out, as the prime minister has refused to “interfere with judicial operations”, with his party strongly supporting Bitar.
Phalange Party MP Samy Gemayel said Hezbollah and Amal “believe they owe us a favor by ending the boycott”.
He added: “They paralyzed the country for a year to form the government they wanted and they boycotted it to prevent justice from prevailing in the ‘crime of the century’.
“It is the Lebanese people who pay the price. There is no work, no electricity, no heating, no bread and no medicine,” Gemayel said.
He added: “Accountability for humiliated people will be obtained through elections.”
In his Sunday sermon, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi commented on the latest developments regarding the Cabinet sessions.
“In the democratic system, procedural authority must operate in accordance with the powers given to it by the constitution, without being subject to any unlawful pressure or condition,” he said.
He warned against “resorting to the disruption of legislative and presidential elections – scheduled for next October – for suspicious personal purposes.
“The disruption of the Cabinet, the political escalation, the continued provocation, the use of justice to undermine opponents and the reversal of priorities reassure neither the Lebanese people nor the brothers and friends of Lebanon.”
Internet services were interrupted in Lebanon on Sunday due to diesel shortages, adding another essential service to the list of victims of the country’s economic crisis.
The Energy Ministry, however, flatly denied a report by Israel’s Channel 12 headlined “Washington Approves Deal to Supply Israel’s Gas to Lebanon.”
The ministry said that “the gas supply agreement between the Lebanese government and the Egyptian government clearly stipulates that the gas must come from Egypt, which has large quantities of gas.
“This gas will go through Jordan and then to Syria, which in turn will benefit from it.”