Mashnouq accuses Mikati of deceiving Lebanese on STL funding


March 14 MP Nuhad Mashnouq launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Najib Mikati over the weekend, describing him as disingenuous over the issue of funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as well as belittling the intelligence of Lebanese by misrepresenting Hezbollah’s clear opposition to the court’s funding.

“He Mikati is deceiving the Lebanese when he pretends to be the champion of defending the funding for the Special Tribunal, forgetting or ignoring that the issue of funding is not a favor by anyone but a national duty on Lebanon imposed via an international resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter,” the Future Movement politician said in a statement Saturday.

Mashnouq’s remarks were aimed at a recent interview Mikati had with the BBC in which the prime minister said Hezbollah had not closed the door on the issue of funding for the U.N.-backed court.

“Mikati joined a party ‘but’ by trying to belittle the Lebanese under the slogan that the doors are open to all possibilities except the possibility [of providing] the Lebanese their genuine right to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon … and this through his individual and unique reading of the words of [Hezbollah Secretary-General] Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah,” Mashnouq said.

In an interview with Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station on Oct. 24, Nasrallah voiced outright rejection to the court, let alone funding it, and said that ministers in the Cabinet, where Hezbollah and its allies hold a majority, should either arrive at a consensus on the issue or, if that failed, put it to a vote.

Speaking to the BBC on the eve of his first official visit to the United Kingdom Thursday, Mikati acknowledged that Hezbollah held reservations about the STL, which in July indicted four members of the resistance group in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, but said that “Nasrallah left the issue to the constitutional institutions to play their part.”

Asked about Nasrallah’s suggestion that individuals that support the court fund it themselves, Mikati asked: “When someone says, ‘why not pay from your own pocket,’ does this not mean an acceptance to the principle of funding?”

Mashnouq criticized Mikati’s analysis of Nasrallah’s remarks on the issue of funding and said even its leader would be perplexed.

“Of course Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah would be the most perplexed about Mikati’s remarks for [Nasrallah] is the one who left no room for doubts during his interview that the party rejects outright the court,” Mashnouq said.

On Mikati’s comments that Hezbollah had in principle accepted the issue of funding for the court, worth some $32 million, Mashnouq said: “[Mikati] is deceiving the Lebanese when he considers that ‘if you want to fund then from your own pocket’ meant acceptance in the principle of funding.”

Hezbollah denies involvement in the assassination of Hariri and says the tribunal is part of ‘U.S.-Israeli project” aimed at targeting the resistance group and sowing strife in the country.