BEIRUT: Hezbollah and its allies in the Lebanese government on Saturday widened their attacks on the US over alleged meddling in the country’s political future.
In an interview with the Central News Agency (Al-Markazia), Muhammad Fneish, Hezbollah’s minister in the caretaker government, referred to “foreign interference in our affairs” and said: “We want to form a sovereign government that is distant from US desires and foreign accounts.”
He said that recent statements by former US ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman had “complicated matters.”
Feltman told a US House of Representatives hearing last Tuesday that most Lebanese people have lost faith in Hezbollah and that there is growing anger against Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil for providing “Christian cover” for the militant party.
The comments sparked outrage in Lebanon with Hezbollah and its allies accusing the former envoy of “interfering in Lebanon’s internal affairs.”
Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem joined the criticism on Saturday, accusing the US of “meddling in the formation of a new Lebanese government.”
“Hezbollah is determined not to fall into strife,” he said, adding: “I do not see signs of a civil war in Lebanon.”
As widespread street protests in the country entered their 38th day, MP Salim Aoun, a member of the parliamentary bloc loyal to the president and the Free Patriotic Movement, claimed that protesters have created a “political movement.”
“No matter what we give them, nothing pleases them,” he said, accusing international bodies of backing the demonstrations.
“We know who is intervening and what their goals are,” Aoun said.
Amal MP and Hezbollah ally Ali Bazzi asked: “Is it true that there is aim to create a political vacuum and chaos in the country?”
Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin also questioned the motives of the civil movement. Speaking in Beirut, he said that “people’s demands have turned against Hezbollah, and this is a very serious matter.”
Zasypkin urged “the Lebanese parties to find a compromise solution that satisfies everyone on the formation of a government.”
However, former Future Movement MP Mustafa Alloush described Hezbollah’s claims of US meddling as “ridiculous.”
“To say that the US is behind a movement that brought thousands of people on to the streets to demand tax cuts and jobs is a ridiculous accusation. Will they prosecute people for high treason?” he asked.
“Hezbollah supporters who are paid by Iran, take up arms, and fight and kill people, are not held accountable. How does this make sense?”
Public affairs analyst Walid Fakhreddine also rejected claims of a US conspiracy, saying: “We have seen these accusations at the beginning of the movement and now they are back. We were accused of treason and of receiving funding for the protests. They do not understand what is happening. People are now in a different place.”
Fakhreddine warned that the ruling class is “dragging the country into financial and economic collapse.”
“They insist on leading the country into bankruptcy. What is required is an independent transitional government that will hold early elections,” he said.
“They think people are revolting because they want to be represented in government. This is not true. The civil movement does not want to share power. We are looking for a homeland. They accuse us of demagoguery. We are a people who want real reform, not their corrupt reform.”