Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's televised speech delivered on Wednesday in which he announced Hezbollah's electoral program and addressed a number of political issues.
I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan. In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and prayers and peace be upon our master and Prophet, the Seal of the Prophets Abi Al-Qasim Muhammad, and his good and pure family and all his good and chosen companions and all the prophets and messengers.
Before I begin talking about my main topic this evening, I would first like to congratulate all Muslims on the occasion of the month of Rajab with all that this month means including the divine opportunity to worship, fast, recite the Qur'an and to be close to Allah.
And I also congratulate all for the dignified and great occasions associated with the Messenger of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) and the birth of a number of Imams of Ahl al-Bayt (Peace Be Upon Them) [the family of Prophet Mohammad].
Second, it is the first day of the Hijri solar year, which is celebrated by hundreds of millions of Muslims and non-Muslims belonging to certain nationalities such as the Iranian people, the Afghan people and some people of Central Asia, the Kurds and other nationalities. With the start of the new solar year, we congratulate all of them and ask God to make it a year for good and blessing. Also on this day, customs and traditions - good traditions - were observed with people celebrating Mother's Day. From this podium I address my beloved and precious mother and the mothers of the martyrs - the martyrs of the resistance from all parties and factions, the martyrs of the Lebanese army, the martyrs of the security services, as well as the martyrs of the Lebanese, the Palestinian, the Syrian, the Iraqi, the Yemeni, the Iranian, the Afghan, the Bahraini, and all the people of our region. Wherever we go, we will find them in large groups. They are the mothers of the martyrs, the wounded, and prisoners. Thousands of prisoners languish in prisons. To the mothers of fighters and mujahideen who fill the squares and defend this nation, congratulations to all of them and all of you.
Tonight, the main topic is the announcement of the electoral program for Hezbollah's MPs and the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc. I will read the text and try to shorten in the program a lot, with some explanation. But I do not want to explain everything. God willing, at the beginning of April we have many election festivals in many areas. I will talk, God willing, in these festivals to address some of the contents included in this announcement that I am reading now and also to talk about achievements.
Given the time available, I will focus on reading the announcement. I will stop at some points to explain and comment briefly and leave detailed comments for the coming weeks.
Second, I will discuss some electoral affairs, especially since we are only a few hours away from the deadline of withdrawing nominations and the formation of the lists.
Third, there will be a quick review of our position regarding the Rome Conference and the Paris Conference as well as the defense strategy.
First: the electoral program
We are talking here about an electoral program. I will not talk about a political document for Hezbollah. Therefore, we are not tackle the situation of the region, our vision regarding the region, Arab relations, international relations, and the future outlook of the state in Lebanon and the regime in Lebanon. All this is present in the political document. However, the electoral program focuses on headlines that Hezbollah, through its MPs who will attend the parliamentary seminar, wants to work to achieve. After lengthy discussions, we also sought to take a series of factual headlines. That is why we did not add headlines while knowing that they cannot be an electoral program, not in four years or in eight years. It is possible to have a political document and I will not give examples so as not to drain time.
We are talking about a four-year election program, a set of points, positions and addresses that Hezbollah's MPs, the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc in cooperation with the rest of the political forces and the parliamentary blocs in the parliament, want to achieve, God willing, in the coming years.
I will read the introduction and then start with the headlines.
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Merciful. To the Lebanese, the upcoming parliamentary elections represent a serious opportunity for the Lebanese people to re-produce their national authority, benefiting from the state of stability and safety provided by the protection umbrella thanks to the equation of the army, the people and the resistance. The security present in Lebanon is due to this equation. There is a dispute in the evaluation, but this is our opinion. There is a new electoral law based on proportionality in which we contributed greatly to its adoption. It will allow the Lebanese to better express their choices better and correct the parliamentary representation as much as possible.
In this sense, we take part in this election to remain the sincere voice that expressed the aspirations of our people and their hopes. Since our first participation in the Parliament in 1992, we swore to be the voice for the honorable resistance and protector of the sacrifices of its people and mujahideen. From our position in parliament, we work to defend Lebanon and protect it in the face of its lurking enemies including the "Israeli" and Takfiri enemies. This is the role we will maintain to protect Lebanon, its people, oil, water and all its natural resources, both through speech as well as through participation in international forums and parliaments inside or outside the Parliament or even through voting, legislating and enacting laws to achieve this end.
This role played by the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc is based on what it has achieved over the past years. I will talk about this later. [It is also based on] its active presence in the Parliament and carrying just, national issues, especially the issues of liberation and protection. [It is also based on] its voice that expresses the belief of common living, maintaining civil peace and promoting dialogue among the Lebanese in the country of diversity and convergence. [It is also based on] its presence and contribution at the level of legislation, supervision and the completion of a large number of laws to serve the general interests of the state and citizens.
Based on this, we present to the dear Lebanese people our electoral program that the bloc will work to achieve over the next four years, God willing.
First, in the political and administrative reform
Working towards achieving political and administrative reform within state institutions, including managing money and seeking to improve its performance through the following:
1- Develop the current electoral law based on proportionality to the best, especially with regard to Lebanon's adoption of one electoral district and giving the Lebanese youth the right to vote at the age of 18.
2 - Strengthening the legislative role of the Parliament (the effective parliament and we want to make a greater effort even if the government did not send projects and laws, the parliament is responsible for setting laws to regulate public, economic and political life...) and initiate to submit proposals for laws. Activate its supervisory role so that it can hold the executive authority accountable. The biggest problem in the current political system is that the government always feels safe as a result of the combination. This means being safe from accountability, even being safe from question and not accountability or safe from being questioned. This is a problem, and we must find a solution for it.
3. Developing the judicial system and empowering the judiciary to be an independent authority to achieve justice and integrity without distinction between citizens.
4. Enhancing the role of the supervisory bodies, foremost of which is the Central Inspection and the Bureau Accounts, and amending the laws that govern them so as to ensure their effectiveness and independence.
5 - Developing the Ministry of Planning, which some are avoiding. We, in Lebanon, need a Ministry of Planning. What we mean by planning is its broader and comprehensive sense - a place, a respectable ministry, where there is a minister and a specialized cadre. It utilizes all experts, specialists and study centers to provide the Lebanese state and government with policies, plans and programs and poses as the independent mind of the government that helps all the ministries and administrations.
Today, for example, we want to borrow about $ 17 billion, but within what economic vision? And who put this vision? Where was this vision discussed? We need a Ministry of Planning to develop visions, policies, plans and programs and help ministries in this regard so that the state and the whole country focus on a clear vision and clear objectives. We insist on this item, and we will demand it in the Parliament.
6 - Give special attention at this stage to fight financial and administrative corruption amid the approved legal and administrative mechanisms. I will return to this headline shortly.
7. Provide the necessary resources to strengthen the security and military institutions, foremost of which is the Lebanese National Army. And provide the necessary financial resources to enable it to carry out all its tasks, primarily the army, to carry out its national tasks in defending Lebanon and maintaining security and stability in it.
8. Adopting the country's expanded decentralization law.
After the Baalbeck Hermel Governorate and followed by the decrees applied, Akkar did the same thing. And now a new province has been approved in Mount Lebanon, which means that the governorates have been divided. So it is time to head towards the extended administrative decentralization. It has very large benefits at the administrative, developmental, financial and service levels. Although this item exists in all electoral programs, no one understands why this is not working.
9 - Adopting the principle of tenders in the mandates. We are talking about principle. To manage one or more tenders, how do you manage tenders? This is a detailed matter. But the principle is that we commit ourselves, through our electoral program, to the Lebanese people, not to agree neither in the government nor in the Parliament on any consensual commitments because it is one of the most dangerous and widespread source of waste and corruption. We insist on the principle of tenders. Adopting the principle of tenders.
We do not want to sleep among the graves. We do not want to see "nightmares". This is a commitment. I am announcing it now. Let no ally minister, a friend, an opposing minister, a government we like and a government that we do not like blame us. Tonight, I am announcing a commitment to the Lebanese people. Hezbollah's MPs and ministers in the government and in the Parliament did not agree to award any project without tenders. Developing the tender law, how do we manage the tenders? How will this subject be amended? This is another research. Now we are talking about the principle. We did not agree to any consensual awarding. Someone might say that this might put us back a month, that can puts us back two months, and this a year. Delay is better than to loot public money and to have a culture of looting and corruption in the country.
Thus, relying on the principle of tenders in the contracts and the adoption of a modern law made especially for public tenders ensures the highest levels of transparency.
We are discussing laws, administrations, and mechanisms in the government and the Parliament. But this must be the principle.
10. Enhancing the role of the Civil Service Board and making it an exclusive gateway to employment in the public sector. We came in late. We do not have employees in state departments. Our brother Hajj Mohammad Fneish was the Minister of Administrative Development. Despite that we participated in developing a mechanism for selecting first class employees, general managers. This choice, of course, guarantees a high level of opportunity and efficiency but eliminates quotas. At the time we came, we did not have a share. We did not demand our share. But we preferred this method. Now here, we say, let there be a Civil Service Board. This cuts the way for quotas between parties, leaders and political forces. Also, people will not need to wait at the doors of leaders, ministers, MPs and parties. Let the Civil Service Board be the sole gateway for employment in the public sector within a transparent mechanism and well thought out and calculated regulations, provided that all public functions in the Lebanese state are subject to testing and choosing the most efficient, staying away from favoritism and quotas, and of course based on the rule that they abide by the results of the Civil Service Board. No political interventions should take place, neither from our side nor from anyone else for the benefit of one or the other.
11 - Activating mechanization and linking information to facilitate the transactions of citizens. We also find this in all programs. But this requires effort. This saves time for citizens so as not to wait at the administrations. It also saves effort and money, reduces bureaucracy and facilitates transactions and other affairs. Harmony and integration between the different ministries of the State will arise.
In the last few weeks, we have been hearing this, but in the last few weeks a lot has been said by presidents, ministers and officials. "The situation is serious, so they went so quickly that they put the budget for 2018, and they want to reform the budget, finish the government and take it to the lower house, So I got discussions b That if we complete this flight, Lebanon will become like Greece or not become like Greece? If this new means that we are at a dangerous stage on the financial, economic and social level, the danger reaches to a certain extent, a danger to the existence of the state and the existence of the country, and the security and stability of society if the financial situation continues in this way, and continued spending on it, so the most serious issues Which leads to disaster that corruption and waste continue to exist as it is actually said, and in general a general science. It is necessary for everyone, including us. This does not mean that we did not work on the subject before, but now I want to announce that, this is new in the 2018 program. I also announced this to the Lebanese people and made pledges. Everyone has to deal with the issue. The fight against waste and corruption in all departments and institutions of the state is linked to public money both, as waste and corruption is one of the most important reasons that will lead the country to disaster, and the issue of control is an absolute national priority. We will commit ourselves and work on the basis of this priority in the next stage.
Within this title which we called the administrative and political reform, allow me to go back to the corruption and waste file.
In the last few weeks, we have been hearing from leaders, ministers and concerned officials that the situation of the country, state and the public finance is serious. That is why they quickly put the 2018 budget. They wanted to reform the budget. It ended up in the government, and then they took it to the Parliament. There was austerity here, fixing there. Good. Everyone has come to realize that the country's situation on the financial level has become dangerous. Thus, discussions were held that if we continue like this, will Lebanon become like Greece or not? Thus, this new development means that we are at a serious stage on the financial, economic and social level. The danger reaches to a certain extent. There will be danger to the existence of the state, the existence of the country, and the security and stability of society if the financial situation as well as spending continue this way. So the most serious issues which leads to disaster is that corruption and waste continue to exist as it is actually. There is general knowledge about it. It is necessary for everyone, including us -this does not mean that we were not working on the subject before. Now, I want to announce what is new in the 2018 program. I also announce this to the Lebanese people and present pledges. It is necessary on everyone to deal with the issue of fighting waste and corruption in all departments and institutions of the state that is linked to public money. Waste and corruption are one of the most important reasons that will push the country to disaster. The issue of fighting [corruption and waste] is an absolute national priority. We will commit ourselves and work on the basis of this priority in the coming stage.
After a thorough study, we decided to work on this absolute priority in cooperation with all the political forces, parliamentary blocs and officials in the state and based on the will of the Lebanese people in the face of waste and corruption as well as everyone who agrees with us and they are many. We know we will face difficulties. We will be faced with new enmities we do not need. Today, America and some regional countries are spending money to bring animosity to us. We know that tackling this file will bring us animosities and internal sensitivities. We do not need that. But it seems that the country has reached a point where we can no longer be patient in treating this serious disease that might destroy the state and society. That is why, God willing, we will work on this option. How will we work? What will we do? We will explain later. Now we will just suffice with the headlines. This means we, in the leadership of Hezbollah, have decided to form a special organizational framework, i.e an office, a special body within the party headed by a full-time official along with a group of deputies and the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc as well as officials and specialists. Their task is to do this job. There is waste and corruption, how do we face them? Through the dossiers and details, making sure of the data, the legal, judicial, and political mechanisms. The same way we have a framework that works on the resistance and another that works on the cultural issue, we will form a framework tasked with confronting waste and corruption. Of course, we will face them through our ministers in the government, our deputies in the Parliament, our political leadership, and through our relations and our contacts. This will be included in the plan and in the program. But also let me tonight say the following:
First, we are committed to remain because today we have entered the state - in one form or another - and in the ministries even if we do not take the basic ministries. But this has become part of our responsibility. We first commit to keep our organization and party clean and not involved in any corruption or waste. This by itself requires a great deal of effort in a country whose state, administrations and component where the "sly is the one who knows how to ‘reach out'". This is the first commitment.
Second, we will consider our internal priority is to confront corruption to preserve the state, the country and the society, and to prevent the financial and economic disaster from taking place if the country continued in this way.
But because we want to start with this level of priority, importance and attendance, let us begin with ourselves. Now, later and soon, we will announce who, how and what is the mechanism. But we will start from ourselves. I tell everyone, I start from myself, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, then to Hezbollah's ministers, to Hezbollah's deputies, Hezbollah's managers if there were any in the state, knowing that if there were the number would be very little, mayors belonging to Hezbollah, or were brought in that is accounted for Hezbollah, and any Hezbollah official. I say that you start from me. Anyone who has any data, information, accusation or doubt, of course based on a given, let us not accuse each other, that is in the mechanism we adopt, let him kindly tell us. In the beginning, if any one of us extends his hand on public money, participating in waste or corruption, tell us who he is. Give us evidence because we are absolutely determined to preserve the path of the martyrs, the path of jihad and the path of sacrifices. The one who wants to tackle waste and corruption, should first start from himself, from his home, his ministers, his deputies, his mayors, and his leadership. This is what we will resort to. Of course, this task is big and serious despite all the sensitivities existing in the regional situation. I tell you I will follow this framework personally despite all the other concerns because it is clear that we are in front of a dangerous stage where exceptional responsibility is needed.
Secondly, in the economic and financial policies. We look forward to a state of caring and attention, not a state of collection and control; a state that reduces disparities between society groups and provides basic and social services on a transparent and fair basis; a country that adopts an economic system based on work and production, not on income and speculation, and raises the ability to compete externally. This requires working on the following:
1 - Control and rationalization of spending that suits the general financial situation of the state, the needs of the Lebanese people and the development of the national economy.
2 - Reduce the cost of public debt and limit indebtedness, especially in projects that are not feasible.
3 - Reform the tax system to ensure justice and face any form of taxation that affects the popular categories of low income and the poor. And you know, there were parties working to raise the Value Added Tax to 15%. There was a big confrontation in the Parliament - regardless of who is employing this issue via the media or not. This is a real challenge facing the Lebanese people. An end to tax evasion should also be put.
4 - Demanding that a five to ten-year economic plans and programs within a clear economic vision be put.
This is what we call for, a Ministry of Planning and others aimed at saving rates, investing, creating job opportunities, as well as developing the economy and utilizing expertise, including the capacities and expertise of the expatriates.
5 - Providing production sectors, especially agriculture, industry and tourism with the necessary care and attention through support, protection, providing infrastructure, reducing the cost of production inputs, reducing the cost of credit, encouraging banks to provide financial facilities and correcting trade imbalances and agreements with foreign countries.
6 - Exert the utmost efforts to address the electricity crisis by expediting the adoption of the necessary steps to increase production, addressing the problems of transportation and distribution, and the immediate implementation of programs and projects previously approved - this exists but must be implemented- and implementing the relevant laws. Also solving the water crisis by expediting the implementation of the projects planned in this field, and requesting from the government to appoint a Board of Directors for Electricity of Lebanon [EDL Board of Directors].
7 - Completion of the necessary measures to maximize the use of petroleum resources, and the formation of the legislative, legal and institutional structure that ensures transparency in the exploration and production processes and to control them, and the optimal investment of this wealth in the field of sustainable development.
This is a very sensitive subject and very important for the country, and therefore is one of the biggest things to anticipate. God willing, if this wealth was extracted and Lebanon has money, what are the priorities? Are priorities paying off the debt? Are priorities the sustainable development? Or is there something else this money will go to? This is one of the major entitlements for the government, the Parliament and the Lebanese people.
8 - Reforming the telecommunications sector to increase its productivity, forming its regulator, and establishing the Lebanese telecom company mentioned in the telecommunications Law.
Third: In the social and developmental policies:
1. Establishing developmental plans for all regions on the basis of achieving balanced development and ensuring their approval and monitoring its proper implementation.
In detail, the lists will announce what it will do in this area or in this district or elsewhere. I am only speaking in broad terms.
2. Securing comprehensive health coverage for citizens and approving the law of Social Protection and Guaranteeing Old Age.
3. Raising the efficiency of government hospitals and their absorptive capacity as they suffer from recurrent problems in funding and administration. Working to reduce the medical bill by reducing the monopoly in the drug market.
This matter needs detailed discussion. Do you know that in Lebanon the price of a medicine is among the most expensive prices perhaps in the world or at least in the region? What is the reason? Can we make the price of medicine cheaper? Yes, we can and much cheaper. There is simply a monopoly of the drug market. Go on government deal with this issue. Go on Parliament deal with this issue. There is no possibility? Why? Because it is understood who is behind the drug market monopolists. Monopoly that also meets with greed.
In some cases, there is monopoly and there are some parties that control the market. But they are merciful to people. They reduce the prices and accept reasonable profits. But there is greed. The same medicine sold in the Lebanese market is imported from other markets at a very uneven price. This is among the reforms that we must fight for.
4. Finding the necessary legislation to raise the level of public education, exceptional attention to vocational education, and to strengthen the Lebanese University and restore its powers.
5. Develop an integrated guidance plan to manage the solid waste crisis, including real-time and strategic solutions.
6. Develop a comprehensive strategy for public transport, given the psychological, economic and environmental damage suffered by the Lebanese people due to the chaos of traffic congestion, especially in the capital and its surrounding areas.
7. Demanding from the concerned authorities to implement laws protecting public and communal properties, especially the sources of natural resources associated related to water (including groundwater), forests and protected areas.
8. The government should follow-up on completing the projects of sewage stations at the riverbeds, especially at the Litani and Assi rivers considering them as sources of irrigation and drinking water.
There is a major catastrophe. This is a national disaster that has nothing to do with one region to another. There should be work to speed up the implementation of the law to protect the Litani River Basin, secure the construction of the Assi dam and regulate the sector of conveyors and crushers.
As for the rest, we can say that it is included in the social policies. We can say that it is general.
9. We include this in the social policies. Enacting laws that protect women and secure their legitimate and natural rights. This deserves more care and attention.
10. Giving special attention to the protection of the family, in exchange for projects which I claim are conspiracies, the facts of family disintegration, the protection of family, children and juveniles, as well as prisoners and social cases that suffer from discrimination as domestic workers and enslavement. What century or age are we in? There is slavery, disguised slavery found in the homes of many people. This needs laws that protect them. The state needs to bear the responsibility. [There should also be] attention to people with special needs.
11. Completing the compensation of the July 2006 aggression, especially for institutions, vehicles and crops through the budget law or a special law in this regard.
12. Adopting a general amnesty law, taking into account the regulations that determine who deserves amnesty.
In the previous program, we announced this item and promised it. I assure you that over the past years we have worked on this subject. A number of our deputies and of lawyers as well as concerned officials [worked on this subject]. We contacted competent authorities in the State and the Ministry of Justice. We brought all the sentences, all the prisoners, and all those who have arrest warrants issued against them. There was a huge and large numbers in the Bekaa, the North and elsewhere. How can we reach a law? We have worked on this subject for months, but there were always obstacles facing it. It is not the time to explain them. It is accurate to say that we will continue to work towards the adoption of a general amnesty law so as not to promise the people for nothing. This is not easy due to the country's political, security and sectarian complications as well as the red lines. It is not easy, but we must continue to work towards achieving it.
13. Complete the trial of prisoners and improve the prison situation, especially women's prisons. There are tragic situations in some prisons.
14. Develop a comprehensive legal, information, educational and health plan to combat the scourge of drugs in all its aspects. This danger, this disease, this soft war is sweeping into houses, areas, towns and villages. If there is anything in the country today that transcends sects and regions, it is the scourge of drugs that must be fought with a clear national and strategic confrontation.
15. Working to find suitable solutions for the return of displaced Syrians to their country.
This is a great, important and essential issue; so far this is still governed by politics. Today, when we come and say, my brother, these displaced people -for humanitarian reasons- are living in tents, living in places with the most difficult conditions of life. Today a large part of the Syrian territory is safe. In case I brought a colored map that is usually posted on websites, you can see today that there is a huge area of Syrian land, cities, towns and whole areas which are safe. People there are living normally, working and learning in schools and universities. There are hospitals and everything.
Having these displaced people remain in Lebanon is primarily a burden on them, the harsh way of life they are living. A burden on the Lebanese economy. We are talking about a stifling financial crisis. The officials are talking about 13 billion dollars spent so far. There is no international aid. Let them return to their country to lessen the burden on Lebanon.
Also, when we talk about job opportunities today in all the Lebanese areas - this has also surpassed sects and regions. There is a problem called unemployment and the loss of job opportunities. All this can be dealt with, including the security issue related to this, all the results related to this subject. Brothers, why don't we want to address it? We do not want to talk to the Syrian government! In any case, now is the time for elections. We do not want to press anyone. We do not want to show that we are pressuring anyone or pressing anyone. Let us get over with the elections. After the elections, this issue must be seriously addressed because this is one of the forms of addressing the catastrophic situation that everyone in unanimously agreed is present in the country.
These are the main headlines in the electoral program. In God's will, in occasions, me, my brothers, officials, deputies and candidates will explain and elaborate in media forums, festivals, lectures and seminars. God willing, we will adhere to this program and work to achieve it during the four years. Whether we succeed or not, or partially succeed, we must sincerely and with dedication seek to reach a conclusion.
This is first. I still have a quarter of an hour or a third of an hour. I want to speak about the headlines or the three remaining headlines.
The first point regarding the electoral issue. I want to talk a bit about friends and allies. Over the past few weeks, we have held meetings, of course not personally because my situation does not help. Our brothers, the officials, have made a wide range of contacts and meetings either to form the lists we are in - that is there are candidates from Hezbollah with other allies or no. There areas where we do not have candidates, but we have friends and allies, and we have voters as well.
We have tried to be loyal, honest and transparent with everyone and we - the brothers of course - have exerted great and appreciated efforts. All the political forces have difficulties, and as we spoke days ago, today the elections are not March 8 and March 14. Not at all. This has no place in the upcoming elections. Despite that we tried with our friends and well-known allies to make people understand that they should be on one list and be cooperative. We made the maximum effort.
In the places where there was understanding, the subject was dealt with within a few hours, such as the coalition between the Amal movement and Hezbollah, a few hours. The discussion was not long because we understand each other and leave room for each other. There is no problem in this subject. As Parliament Speaker Mr. Nabih Berry said in a press interview or in a meeting on Wednesday that within 3 hours we finished everything. It is true, in a few hours we finished everything.
But when it came to the lists, of course there is a great effort being undertaken. Now, I want to say some things in this context. Some of us expected - whether right or wrong - that we assume a role we cannot play and we are not convinced that we are assuming it. For the sake of forming a list, we have to pressure someone, threaten someone, or ask someone to withdraw or to run.
We do not know how to act in this way. We are patient. We establish dialogue, discuss and give and take. In the end, the people agreed, "Praise be to God". If the people disagreed "We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return". For each situation we have a short prayer [Dhikr]: in agreement "Praise be to God", in disagreement "We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return" because disagreements always lead to failure. This is the maximum thing we can do. We have done our best, and now there are a few hours until the deadline to withdraw candidates ends and a few days left for the formation of lists.
Tonight, I would love to tell everyone that we have done what we were able to and are done. We cannot do anything else. We do not impose anything on anyone. It is excellent where we agreed. Where we differed, everyone takes the choices they see fit. We do not pressure anyone to withdraw. We did not even pressure anyone to run. We tried to convince people to be together and we couldn't. There are places we could and there are others where we couldn't.
But the message that I want to deliver in this part to allies and friends, is that brothers, this law - now it is not known what political forces will do with this law after four years because there are people who are tired - is an opportunity now. When we fought to have a law based on proportionality, it was first in order for all the Lebanese people to have a better chance of representation - and this we have announced. Secondly - we announced it too - this [law] also gives our allies and friends a better chance to get to the Parliament. But if our allies do not want to understand each other, to be modest to one another, and do not want to ease the conditions for each other, then there is a divine method [Sunna]: conflict leads to failure and therefore the loss of this opportunity. Tonight, I only have a keen brotherly advice to give.
During the next few days left to form the lists, everyone has to calm down, thinks and calculate well. I call for humility and compromise. There are those who want more than their size and there are those who have large numbers. Let them be a little humble. I call for understanding and harmony. We have done what we could.
In this context also, it was mentioned in some media that Hezbollah imposed on a certain party a certain candidate and on a certain movement a certain candidate. That is a lie and defamation and has no basis. We did not interfere with any of the parties or any of the allies by naming its candidates, never. Any other talk is a lie and slander. And if any one of this party or this movement or this organization says otherwise he is escaping responsibility and throwing it at us. We have nothing to do with this. We only named our candidates. There are independent candidates that we allied. They are included in our lists. But we did not interfere in naming any of the candidates at all. This is the first point in the electoral process.
God willing, God will guide us all and help us all. If we cooperate, we can achieve something in this subject.
2- With regards to Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement and what was brought up and written. In the past few weeks, we were always in contact. There has been intense communication at the central level. I would like to emphasize that our strategic relationship still exists and our political understanding still exists. We may differ in some files or we may agree in some files because understanding and alliance does not mean that we turn into a single political party. Hezbollah and Amal did not turn into a single political party despite the power of the alliance between them.
As for the electoral issue, we have agreed in some districts. In the next few days, we will announce the constituencies in which we will be in unified lists. This is the case of all the political forces that exist today in the country. After the elections, we will continue our understanding, our relations and cooperation in many of the files in which we will cooperate.
The last point on the electoral issue: a few days ago, I spoke in an internal meeting. There were people who misquoted me. Some political parties tried to exploit it, knowing that this is recorded and I can bring it on the screen. It is related to Baalbek-Hermel. I was misquoted as saying that that candidates opposing our list or not included in our list or the others are allies of Daesh and Nusra. I did not say that in the first place. I specifically said regarding the other candidates not on the list that we have friends. Indeed, we have friends. There are people who withdrew and there are people who are continuing. There are allied political forces, there is an alliance between us and them, there candidates from the Free Patriotic Movement. Those I consider them allies of Daesh and Nusra?! They supported our position 100%. Well, I said regarding the remaining candidates there are friends and this is their natural right to run but there are - and I repeat and I'm saying it on television - there are candidates for forces that supported the armed groups and provided them with material, media and political support, visited them, presented them as revolutionaries and protectors and prevented the Lebanese Army for years from ending the battle with them. We will talk about this in detail later, God willing. This is what I said, these people want to represent the area. The people of the area must decide on the subject. We did not say that we will carry arms at anyone, and we will not threaten anyone. The residents of the area have the right to say who represents them. The Muslims and Christians who were threatened in Baalbek- Hermel are concerned in choosing who represents them. The get to say who reperents them either those who defended them for years and lived in the barrens during the snow, at night exhausted and presented martyrs and wounded, or those who supported the armed groups or prevented military decisiveness with them to the last moment. In the end, some people accepted. That is what happened in the Jroud Dawn [operation]. This is what I said. If this speech is problematic, there is no problem. But I do not accuse the rest of the lists in Baalbek. I never accused, and I do not accuse the rest of the lists in Baalbek - Hermel that they are a group of Daesh and Nusra. This is not true.
The last thing, we can move to the three general issues; The Rome conference, which gathered support, aid and loans to support the Lebanese army and the Lebanese security services. Some also tried to say that Hezbollah has reservations, that it is annoyed and is objecting. This has no basis. On the contrary, in the electoral program we say that we want to support the army and the security services. We wrote this before the Rome conference. We are with support that strengthens the Lebanese army and the security services that enable them to maintain security and stability in Lebanon and defend it. Of course, it is important that the Lebanese army be given the weapon in which it can face "Israeli" threats, "Israeli" aggression and "Israeli" violations. This is the basic criterion.
As for the Rome conference, we do not have any problems at all. Any assistance to the Lebanese army and the security services is welcome and we thank those who provide it, but on the condition that it does not set conditions and later wants to interfere with the political and security decision of the Lebanese state. Similar to what the Americans tried during the Jroud Dawn Operation. Now, if they were aid it is excellent; if they were loans, of course there will be discussions in the government, the Parliament. The important thing is that the loans should be for basic needs of the army and the security services. Because if it was additional debts with debt benefits that is called public debt service, the Lebanese people will have to bear it. But if it was non-essential, then it needs to be discussed if "it deserves to burden the Lebanese people with it and then we impose taxes on them". This needs discussion.
The second point is regarding the subject of His Excellency the President of the Republic General Aoun's invitation to discuss the defense strategy after the elections. There are also articles that were written and asked, we were asked on this subject. We say everything in honesty. No one discussed this subject with us. We heard about it from the media. But we do not have any sensitivity. This is the president's natural right. He can call for a dialogue to discuss the defense strategy in the framework he finds suitable. It can be discussed through dialogue. It can also be discussed other forms of dialogue. I do not know because we were not asked to discuss this subject.
But the principle is to discuss a national defense strategy. Tonight, I want to say that we have no sensitivity regarding this issue, especially if it was issued by His Excellency General Michel Aoun. You know the previous dialogue. I discussed this issue at length when it was headed by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. At that time in 2006, we presented our vision and I was present with them and explained in detail and in length. The one who possesses the argument, logic and experience confirmed by recent events will not get sensitive from any discussion or serious and national research at this level of importance and sensitivity. To some writers, some politicians, and some media outlets that will be working on this, we do not have any reservations. The president can turn to this issue in the appropriate way that he sees after the elections.
The last point, Rome and the project that was being discussed today in the government, which amounts to about 17 billion. Of course the subject is presented in a way that we are going - excuse me the Paris conference - we are going to Paris and we will bring funds to Lebanon and we will make a change in Lebanon, oh our happiness in Lebanon. The subject only needs a little reflection so we would not be carried away, because it is sensitive. First, if the government is going to bring aid to Lebanon, it is excellent, excellent. We must all salute it and thank it. Well done. But generally speaking - I am being cautious when I say in general - it is a debt. We are going to get loans. There are countries that will loan Lebanon that means debts. You have to be patient a bit. These are debts. We will discuss this in the government. When they come to Parliament, you have to allow us to discuss this. All the Lebanese should discuss this. In the end, we have a debt. I do not have precise number. But what the officials are saying and what we are hearing from them is $ 80 billion in debt. We pay them debt service and they increase. And we want still want to add on top of it $ 17 billion.
In principle, we do not have a problem with the origin of borrowing. It is natural that you want to bring money to the country to strengthen the economic structure and to operate the infrastructure, to move the situation in the country. Let no one come out tomorrow and say that we are engaged in a doctrinal or religious debate. No, in principle there is no problem. The discussion is a detailed one, in the sense that these debts - if of course they gave them 17 billion - well, how will this debt later be paid? How much are their interests? How will their interests be secured? These need answers. You cannot say I will bring $ 17 billion for the country. Do you want to go tomorrow after you bring it and say either you agree with me to increase the Value Added Tax to 15% or the country collapses? Don't bring it, my brother. Be patient. To pay all these debts, will you set up new taxes and charges on the poor, oppressed and crushed category? Then, slow down. This is the first discussion. How will it be handled? What are its interests? We want to understand this subject from A to Z. all of us as Lebanese should understand this subject. This is not a political, partisan, sectarian or doctrinal issue. This is a subject that concerns everyone.
The second point is the feasibility. We want to set up additional debt on the country. What is the feasibility of these projects that we want to implement? Does this country really need or that? I am not discussing the presented project, I am speaking in general. Sometimes the project might be for electoral reasons. It might be for political reasons. It may not be the first priority. It might be the lowest priority. Let us go to the priorities.
Now the government will go to the conference. There is no problem. Let it go and discuss. No one should have a problem on the subject. But what we are concerned about is that the country should not be dragged into an atmosphere of absolute support, and that the one who opposes means that he is against development, the economy, infrastructure and services. No, hold on. There is a dossier that will later be tackled including all the debts that came to Lebanon to be used in the infrastructure. Where did the entire fund go? Every Lebanese is paying interests and taxes from his pocket, from his livelihood, from his kid's milk. Put this aside. We will discuss this later. But what is coming is new. You should not allow this. It is the duty of the ministers, the parliamentary blocs, the deputies, the arties, the civil society and all the group of the Lebanese people to ask the ministers deputies and the officials. They should ask us and anyone else: should we approve this debt, what are you basing it on? How will it be paid? Who will pay the taxes? Are these viable projects or not? You should allow the people to be a partner in the decision-making regarding this subject.
This is what I liked to say tonight. There are of course major political developments in the region that are being discussed including the "Israeli" and American topics as well as daily threats. Every night it is said that the positions, the Syrian army positions, Hezbollah positions, the positions of the allied forces in Syria will be bombed by US aircraft. Be careful there are American-"Israeli" exercises. There are developments in the region and the world. Tonight we will mix regional and international issues with the announcement of the electoral program. God willing, we will talk about these topics in upcoming meetings and we will take the suitable stances and shed light on them.
God give you wellness. Peace and God's mercy and blessings be upon you. And again to all mothers, the most beautiful mothers and the dearests mothers many happy returns. Peace and mercy of God be upon you.
Source: Hezbollah Media Relation, Translated by website team