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Lebanon: Questions Raised over FPM’s Strategic Alliance with Hezbollah

Lebanon: Questions Raised over FPM’s Strategic Alliance with Hezbollah

Wednesday, 9 June, 2021 - 10:15
Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (L) shakes hands with Christian leader Michel Aoun during a news conference in Beirut, Feb. 6, 2006. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

The relationship between Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) has once again raised questions, with striking statements by the head of the FPM, MP Gebran Bassil, who said that the Mar Mikhael agreement signed by Lebanese President Michel Aoun with the party’s secretary general in 2006 “succeeded in preventing sedition but failed to build a nation.”

In recent media comments, Bassil announced that the presence of arms outside the authority of the Lebanese Army “is not normal, but an exceptional situation that must not continue.”

His remarks came following leaked information about differences between him and the representatives of the Shiite duo – Amal Movement and Hezbollah – over the formation of a new government.

Sources close to Hezbollah refused to comment on Bassil’s words.

“It is not the first time that Bassil launches such positions and it will not be the last; but our policy in dealing with our allies is not to comment in the media, but during our private meetings, if any,” the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

On the other hand, FPM sources denied disputes between the movement and Hezbollah, saying Bassil had already spoken about the failures and the achievements of the Mar Mikhael agreement.

The sources explained that Bassil admitted that the presence of weapons outside the framework of the Lebanese army was not normal, “but at the same time he stressed that (Hezbollah)’s arms have protected Lebanon.”

“Discussing the defense strategy today is not a priority in light of all the economic, political and social crises that Lebanon is suffering from,” they added.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, political analyst Qassem Kassir said that the head of the FPM “is trying to preserve all political options internally and externally.”

“Through his declared positions, Bassil wants to show that he is keen on his relationship with the party, but at the same time he puts forward new ideas that may open new opportunities for him.”

In response to a question about the party’s position on Bassil’s approach, Kassir said: “The party is keen on maintaining a good relationship with the FPM and does not want to pressure it at the moment.”

On the other hand, Lebanese Forces MP Wehbi Qatisha described Bassil’s words as “Hollywood stances.”

“When Bassil’s popularity erodes due to the alliance with Hezbollah - as we head towards the parliamentary elections - he resorts to such positions, which do not reflect his real stance,” Qatisha said.

“He is allied with the party but wants to send a message to his supporters to tell them that there are differences [with Hezbollah]. This is not true,” he added.

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