Aoun: Not True that Hizbullah's Influence over Lebanon is Increasing
President Michel Aoun stressed Wednesday that “it is not true that Hizbullah's influence over Lebanon is increasing.”
“This is the U.S. vision and it contradicts with reality, seeing as Hizbullah has maintained the same political presence it had in the previous government, and it is not true that its influence over Lebanon is increasing,” Aoun told a delegation from the Editors Syndicate, when asked about the U.S. concerns over Hizbullah.
“What some political circles say sometimes in this regard is mere bickering and even at the security level they say that Hizbullah has influence in the South and the Bekaa but there is no security authority higher than that of the army and security forces, which carried out major security operations recently in the region and consolidated security and stability,” the president added.
U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard held talks Tuesday with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and relayed to him U.S. concern over Hizbullah's “growing role in the Cabinet.”
Hizbullah “continues to make its own national security decisions” and “continues to violate the government’s disassociation policy by participating in armed conflict in at least three other countries,” the ambassador said.
Warning that “this state of affairs does not contribute to stability” and is “fundamentally destabilizing,” Richard added that she was very hopeful that Lebanon “will not be derailed from the path of progress now before it.”
Hizbullah has named a health minister and two other posts in the new Cabinet. U.S. officials have called on Hariri's government to ensure the group does not receive support from public resources.