Macron blasts Hezbollah, accuses group of highjacking democracy
BEIRUT: French President Emmanuel Macron hit back at Hezbollah after it blocked the formation of a government, warning the group "not to think it is more powerful than it actually is.”
Speaking at a news conference dedicated to Lebanon’s latest crisis, Macron warned that the Iranian backed group cannot “act as both a militia and a political group.”
"It cannot at the same time be an army at war against Israel, a militia raging against civilians in Syria and a respectable party in Lebanon,” Macron declared.
He called on the group to pick a lane and demonstrate whether is “it is truly a political party or simply behaves in ways dictated by Iran and its terrorist forces.”
Hezbollah should "not think it is more powerful than it is... It must show that it respects all Lebanese. And in recent days, it has demonstrated the opposite," Macron said.
On Saturday, Macron’s initiative crumbled when Prime Minister-designate #Moustapha Adib submitted his resignation after failing to come to terms with Hezbollah and Amal over the makeup of the upcoming government.
In response, Macron said Lebanon’s political class had “betrayed" their obligations and committed "collective treason" by failing to form a government.
Macron, during his last visit to Lebanon earlier this month, had agreed with rival political factions on the necessity of forming a government free of partisan affiliations.
Despite the assurances he was given, the Shiite duo of Hezbollah and Amal had refused to relinquish control of the hotly contested Finance Ministry. Both groups also wanted to directly nominate their other Shiites Ministers.
“They [Lebanese officials] have shown they are willing to plunge the Lebanese people into chaos... None of them have been able to uphold the promises made in August and September,” Macron said.
The French leader, in a bid to avoid a “civil war,” attempted to engage Hezbollah in the hopes that they would “consciously put the country before their interests.”
“There are two lines in Lebanon, the first is to back our initiative, the second is to declare war on Hezbollah,” Macron said.
“I decided against the second,” he said, as it would lead to “the collapse of Lebanon along with Hezbollah.”
“Shiites, Hezbollah and [Speaker Nabih Berri’s] Amal Movement have a choice now,” Macron said.
“Will they choose democracy and Lebanon or the worst option,” the French leader added.
Macron also ruled on immediate sanctions on political figures at the moment, questioning their efficiency.
He did, however, extended his deadline once again, giving Lebanon's political class four to six weeks to implement the roadmap he presented on September 1.
The UN-backed donor conference to shore up humanitarian support for Lebanon is still scheduled to take place in October, he said, with all funds raised bypassing governmental institutions.
Macron has visited Lebanon twice and attempted to navigate Lebanon’s delicate sectarian laden political system to pave the way for a government capable of implementing necessary reforms.
Without these reforms, he said, Lebanon will never unlock billions to revamp its ailing economy and infrastructure.
The French president also alluded to a possible change to Lebanon’s national pact and a rebalancing of power dynamics if the deadlock and crises deepens. He cautioned that such a process is lengthy and includes risks.
Lebanon’s collapse was only accentuated in the wake of the August 4 explosion of hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate at the Beirut port which killed more than 190 people, wounded thousands and destroyed large parts of the capital.