Ahmad Fatfat, a senior Future Movement parliamentarian hinted that Hezbollah may have given its approval for the extension of the terms for top military posts in Lebanon last week by Defense Minister Samir Moqbel. .
Moqbel’s move obviously angered its ally Free Patriotic Leader Michel Aoun who wanted to put his own men into the important posts.
“Aoun’s real problem is with his allies,”Fatfat told Voice of Lebanon radio on Monday.
Fatfat pointed to ‘changes in the region’ as a reason for Hezbollah’s more cooperative attitude. The MP could have been alluding to current diplomatic movement throughout the region to solve the crisis in Syria after Iran struck a deal with western powers over its nuclear program . Iran is Hezbollah’s chief financial and political backer and the group is often accused of putting Iran’s interests ahead of Lebanon’s.
If what Fatfat said is true, it points to an encouraging trend throughout the region and in Lebanon particularly to end political deadlock that has plagued it for over a year.
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Zarif is visiting Beirut on Tuesday.
Over the weekend, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, an FPM official and Aoun’s son-in-law, defied the government when he declared: “The greater the challenge, the tougher we [the FPM] get inside state institutions and outside of it, … because if anyone believes that we are the kind of people who back down from our principles, they are mistaken.” This declaration reinforced Aoun’s Saturday diatribe against Army Commander Jean Kahwaji, who was accused of politicizing the military institution, although no such evidence existed. At the time, Aoun showered Hezbollah with praise, adding: “Had it not been for Hezbollah, Christians would face the same [fate] as that of those of Nineveh in Iraq,” in reference to the persecution of minorities at the hand of extremist forces.
Lebanon’s leading Christian authority Patriarch of the Maronite Church, Cardinal Mar Bisharah Al Rai defended the state.
“We reject to receive protection from anyone and only the state, the presidency, the institutions, the army and the security forces can protect us,” he said.
For now, Aoun may be bidding for time to see whether his allies will reveal their real intentions over a proposal presented by General Security chief Major General Abbas Ebrahim, which called for raising the retirement ages of senior Army officers, including Aoun’s son-in-law, Brigadier General Chamel Roukoz who heads the Army Commando Unit. Speaker Nabih Berri, who ruled out Aoun as a future head-of-state, added salt to injury when he told several visitors, according to the usually well informed Al Nahar daily, that the FPM’s recent maneuvers in the cabinet—which was topped by an unprecedented shouting match between the foreign minister and his prime minister on July 9, 2015—proved fatal for a Roukoz appointment too.
Berri is Hezbollah’s closest ally and his criticism of Aoun could very will signal that Hezbollah has finally decided that the former general has become a huge liability , according to observers .
Warning to Aoun
This is just in…
Government sources revealed to the al Jamhouriah newspaper that “Hezbollah” handed over to his allies including General Michel Aoun, a brief message calling for the need for restraint to the maximum limits, and not to get involved in any confrontation with the army