Across the Bay

Monday, July 24, 2006

Walid Jumblatt Slams Nasrallah

Lebanese Druze MP Walid Jumblatt strongly criticized Hezbollah's chief Hassan Nasrallah in an interview published on Sunday in the Saudi-owned daily Asharq al-Awsat. It's packed with jabs. Here's a translation of what he said:

"The priority now is to stop the offensive, and then we gather the state together and go back to where we stopped at the national dialogue to discuss the subject of the defense strategy [i.e., Hezbollah's weapons]. At the same time we are saying that there should be no weapons outside the control of the state. We must send the Army to the south, and the decision to go to war should be in the hands of the state, not in the hands of one party, who, in the name of the umma or what have you, throws Lebanon into the unknown." He added, "what took place throws Lebanon into the struggle between two axes: Iranian-Syrian on one side and American-Israeli on the other."

Commenting on Nasrallah's recent interview on al-Jazeera, Jumblatt said:

"I could not find a Lebanese element anywhere in his talk. He reminds me of Arafat's experience in the siege of Beirut in 1982. In the end, Arafat left Beirut, but things are different here."

He added, "Iran has decided to fight the US by launching a war against Israel, which is an American [client] state of sorts, in response to the conflict over the nuclear issue. As for Syria, it wants to escape the international tribunal [for its role in the Hariri assassination.]" He asked, "Does Hassan Nasrallah have any Lebanese part when he talks about having friends in Damascus and Tehran? This insults our intelligence. As for his saying that whoever supports me deserves praise and whoever does not will be held accountable, that is a message. We received the message."

Jumblatt warned of a project "to reconsider the Taef Accord and the political direction, the reconstruction and the reconciliation [efforts] of Rafik Hariri."

As for what could be done to end the crisis, he said, "the matter is out of our hands. The decision is his in the end. He is mistaken when he says that he is relying on the cabinet statement, because no one commissioned him to fight in order to restore the Shebaa Farms and the prisoners. The Farms are liberated through [border] delineation [with Syria], and then through a request at the UN. The prisoners' case is solved through finding the body of Ron Arad." He warned, "the Lebanese public opinion is not convinced of the method and the price we are paying to bring back the prisoners, Hassan Nasrallah's way."

The solution in Jumblatt's opinion is for Hezbollah to "hand over its decision and its arms to the Lebanese state according to the mechanism of the [national] dialogue." He mentioned that "PM Fouad Seniora said in the last session of the dialogue that the summer was promising tourism-wise, and that one and a half million tourists were expected in Lebanon. Nasrallah replied then, 'you see Mr. Prime Minister, the weapons of the resistance do not scare off tourists.' But what happened did scare them off and has turned thousands of Lebanese into refugees."

He then asked Nasrallah, "where do you stand with respect to Lebanon and the Lebanese state? If you are a target, then now the entire country is a target." He denied having any contacts with Hezbollah in order to find a solution to the crisis, saying, "we have commissioned PM Seniora to negotiate in order to find solutions." He added, "there is great hope pinned on Speaker Nabih Berri, who was one of the pillars of the Taef Accord, along with [former] PM Hariri, for the sake of the future of the Shiite community in Lebanon, for a large community and a partner in the country should not feel as if it was dealt a blow after this storm passes."