Nasrallah Says Hizbullah Won’t Join Govt. without Berri, Tasks Him with Negotiations

Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced Friday that his party will not join the new government should Speaker Nabih Berri refrain from taking part in it, noting that the parliament speaker is authorized to negotiate over “portfolios and shares” on behalf of the two parties.

“We won’t join the next government if Speaker Berri and the AMAL Movement do not take part in it and Speaker Berri is authorized to negotiate over portfolios and shares on behalf of AMAL and Hizbullah,” said Nasrallah in a televised speech commemorating late Hizbullah commander Mustafa Shehadeh.

“Speaker Berri is a major guarantee and everyone who disagreed with him over the presidency must realize this,” Nasrallah stressed.

“One must thoroughly recognize the major positive role that Speaker Berri played and his delicate administration of this juncture… He could have stripped the (presidential election) session of its quorum but he didn’t,” he said.

And calling for the formation of a national unity government and “the cooperation of all forces,” Nasrallah pointed out that Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri “has said that he will exert efforts in this direction.”

“After having facilitated the designation of a new premier, we are also keen on facilitating the formation of the new cabinet, but positivity, cooperation and non-exclusion are needed,” Nasrallah underlined.

As for Hizbullah’s ties with newly-elected President Michel Aoun, Nasrallah noted that “there are no deals or agreements between us and President Aoun but rather confidence.”

“We trust him and his independence and patriotism,” he emphasized.

Reminiscing the period that preceded Aoun’s election as president, Nasrallah said Hizbullah faced “a lot of injustice and false accusations throughout two and a half years,” hoping those who “launched false accusations” will “reevaluate their stances.”

“Hizbullah does not deceive or lie,” he stressed, referring to allegations that Hizbullah “did not want presidential elections” or that it was “lying to General Aoun.”

“From the very first moment, we were honest in our stance and in our support for the normal candidate Michel Aoun and in the fact that we wanted the election of a president. We wanted this man to become president and we did not change our stance for a single moment,” Hizbullah’s chief underlined.

In an apparent reference to Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Nasrallah added: “Even after the election, someone kept insisting on taking credit but we did not jump into this debate. There is a party that is insisting on saying that they embarrassed into taking part in the Oct. 31 vote, but why didn’t they do this two and a half years ago?”

“One of the parties said that Hizbullah’s commitment to Aoun was only ethical and not political, but we support Aoun, what he represents and his characteristics,” Nasrallah emphasized.

Aoun was elected president on Monday after he received key support for his presidential bid from al-Mustaqbal Movement leader Saad Hariri, which ended two and a half years of presidential vacuum.

Aoun also received crucial support for his nomination from Hizbullah and the LF.

Analysts have warned that Aoun’s election will not be a “magic wand” for Lebanon, which has seen longstanding political divisions exacerbated by the war in neighboring Syria and has struggled to deal with an influx of more than a million Syrian refugees.

In addition to pledges of economic growth and security, Aoun said in his oath of office that Lebanon must work to ensure Syrian refugees “can return quickly” to their country.

Aoun also pledged to endorse an “independent foreign policy” and to protect Lebanon from “the fires burning across the region.”