Lebanese Parliament Member Dr. Nabil Nicolas from the “Change and Reform” bloc says Lebanon will continue to fight against Israel and extremist and terrorist groups under the new president.
“There is no difference between takfiris and Israel just as there is no difference between one hand which threatens Lebanon with a sword while another hand threatens it with a gun,” Nicolas said.
In an interview conducted in Beirut with Marwa Osman, freelance journalist based in Beirut, Lebanese Member of Parliament Dr. Nabil Nicolas from the “Change and Reform” bloc emphasized that the new Presidential era is one of unity and resistance. The following is a transcript of the recorded interview with Lebanese Member of Parliament Dr. Nabil Nicolas from the “Change and Reform” bloc and member of the Free Patriotic movement in Lebanon exclusively for Khamenei.ir.
Q: What was the point which led to a successful ending for the Lebanese Political deadlock concerning the Lebanese presidency after months if not years of disagreement?
A: Of course the main reason for our arrival at this point with the Lebanese presidency is the fact that there were no other options for our rival political Parties who had bet on all what happened and is happening in the region in an attempt to improve their conditions, but when they made sure that the situation in the region is moving towards a contrary situation to what they had wished for, they found themselves obliged to accept General Michel Aoun as president of the Lebanese Republic. It was their only solution. We saw our rivals return to the option that was set by our political team 3 years ago and which was the perfect consensual option for all the Lebanese since the reliance of our rivals on western powers or other regional ones did not produce the desired result for them. I therefore believe that the conviction of the political adversaries in Lebanon, that the best solution, was electing of General Michel Aoun, President of the Republic.
However, the real breaking point that led to the election of General Aoun as President of the country was indisputably regional and territorial changes. When our political adversaries in Lebanon saw with their own eyes that what they aspire for will not be happening, they rushed to change their plan of work to solve the current crisis in the country, but we know there is a possibility of changing their mind later. Regional change of events in Syria in general and Aleppo in specific and events in Iraq, specifically in Mosul forced the parties to submit to the fait accompli and the election of General Aoun.
Q: Now after General Michel Aoun has become president, do you think that your current allies namely Hezbollah are putting you in an embarrassing situation in regard to them fighting against the takfiris in Syria and how will that affect the internal political arena in Lebanon?
A: For us in the free patriotic movement, despite all the talk in the press and the alleged leaks, I can safely say what General Aoun has always said and believed, which is that he never had doubts with the intentions of Hezbollah toward him personally or toward the Lebanese internal affairs which General Aoun believes in. This is why this issue is no longer the subject of debate after today. We have no doubts whatsoever with what Hezbollah has done or what Hezbollah will do in the future.
Q: How do you see the new era in Lebanon in the midst of the clear divisions between political parties and factions within Lebanon, especially with regard to the strategic files such as the armament of the Lebanese resistance and their fight against terrorism?
A: I think that the inauguration speech delivered by President Michel Aoun was clear concerning the strengthening of the Lebanese army to be able to protect the Lebanese borders, but also within the speech there is mentioning of the resistance against Israel and against takfiri terrorists, which means that there is no change to the matter of the armament of the resistance. As long as there is terrorism that threatens the country and as long as Israel exists and threatens us every day, the Resistance will remain and will continue fighting. First, no one can prevent people from resistance and self-defense. There is no international law that prevents us from the defending ourselves. Therefore, as long as the threat exists then the resistance inevitably exists as well; whether it exists secretly or out in the open, the most important issue is that it exists. President Michel Aoun said that we abide by paragraph 8 of the Treaty of the Arab League which prevents any Arab State from interfering in the affairs of another State. Second, resisting is a right, and the right of people to defend themselves; therefore it is our right to defend ourselves and when all attacks against us stop, then we can talk about whether or not we still need the resistance.
Q: Some in Lebanon consider resisting Israel differs from resisting against takfiri terrorism, thus criticizing Hezbollah’s war against takfiris. How would you respond to that?
A: There is no difference between the takfiris and Israel. They are both the 2 sides of the same coin. Because Israel threatens our Lebanon and so do the takfiris. What is the difference between one hand which threatens us with a sword while another hand threatens us with a gun? No difference at all.
Q: Talking about the repercussions of the new presidential era in Lebanon for the countries of the region, what is the message that was sent to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following the election of General Michel Aoun as president of the Lebanese Republic and the main candidate close to Hezbollah?
A: Saudi Arabia is currently in a very messy position and I think that the new political era in Lebanon is a chance to alleviate the pressure off the kingdom as a result of what would happen in the region as a whole. Saudi Arabia is now burdened with the problems of Yemen and the war on the Yemeni people, a war that had no logical behind it from the very beginning. KSA also has grave economic problems in addition to problems with countries in the region such as Turkey and other states; this prevents the Kingdom to actually have any affect in the internal Lebanese politics. It would therefore be the best option for Saudi Arabia at the present time to help calm the internal bickering in Lebanon. This was clear from the statements of the kingdom where they were saying recently that Saudi Arabia does not want to intervene in the internal Lebanese affairs while when General Aoun was nominated 2 years ago for the presidency, the kingdom was vocally against the nomination. However, the shifts on the ground and in regional politics prompted Saudi Arabia to automatically change its stance. Now Saudi Arabia is not only voicing a position of non-intervention, but also reached a stage where it has stated that the head of the Future movement, Saad Al Hariri, has to bear the responsibility of his own actions. Meanwhile, ultimately the Kingdom sent a representative from the Saudi embassy in Lebanon to attend the session to elect the president. Moreover the alliance between the resistance- Hezbollah- and General Michal Aoun, who is a man of resistance himself, forced the rest of the parties to accept the fait accompli because if they waited any longer, the political solution would have endured them with a higher cost.
Q: Does Saudi Arabia‘s refraining from the Lebanese political arena signal a possible similar retreat from the politics of other regional states namely Syria and Iraq knowing the relatively small size of Lebanon compared to other states?
A: It’s no longer about the geographical size of Lebanon; it is now about how Lebanon weighs in the region with regard to its power on the ground. Before the year 2000, Lebanon was the weakest state in the region, but after the liberation of South Lebanon in the year 2000 from the Israeli occupation without restrictions or conditions and also after the Israeli entity’s huge defeat in the war of 2006, Lebanon was no longer weak and confined to its geographical size. Lebanon is now the only state that broke the Israeli curse. We know very well how Israel was threatening all Arab states. Israel was and still is crossing over into Saudi airspace with its military aircrafts unrestrained and once it even targeted a nuclear reactor in Iraq. While Lebanon today exerts a significant influence on all the politics of the region. Lebanon today represents the dignity and honor of all Arabs. Lebanon changed the saying which held that ‘Lebanon’s power resides in its weakness’ to ‘Lebanon’s power resides in the power of its resistance.’
Q: Let me take you back in time 25 years to the end of the Lebanese civil war, what did you, as a political bloc, expect for Lebanon 25 years ago and what have you witnessed to actually happen after all these years?
A: We were expecting that Lebanon would be a strong State, certainly, but if you ask me if we expected to achieve this dream of claiming the presidency of the Republic, I can tell you that it was indeed a dream. I recall that I grew up in a house of resistance and was not born into a wealthy family, so we always had faith that Lebanon despite its small geographical size is a country made strong by the humans living in it; people who chose to dismantle rocks and plant apple trees in their place. The Lebanese are attached to their land which enabled them to grasp victory. Therefore, we in the free patriotic movement in Lebanon were aiming towards victory, but we did not have the conditions required to become victorious. Eventually as you see we achieved this dream through the will of the people, because we openly admit that without the liberation of the year 2000 and the victory of the year 2006, Lebanon would still live in fear. Today we see all the Lebanese fearless. Let us observe and learn from the citizens of South Lebanon who continued their lives and built their homes on the border line with occupied Palestine.
Q: What reinforced the consensus and understanding of such a political deal brokered between the Christian free patriotic movement and an Islamic Hezbollah in a country like Lebanon which was exhausted and destroyed by the civil war?
A: The Arab Christian public in general are open to others and they are spread in most of the Arab States and even in Lebanon they live between all communities in parts of the country and in different sects. What happened is that the free patriotic movement found in Hezbollah a similar openness and a shared determination to improve Lebanon; most importantly we found a deep connection to their land. Hezbollah and the free patriotic movement both share a deep culture of attachment to the land and nature. The basis of our agreement and then our alliance was a humanitarian one. After that came our aspiration for power along with our pride with the achievements of our people and our resistance. I recall completely in the July War many warned General Aoun of the possibility of Hezbollah losing its war against the Israeli aggression which had advanced warplanes, but General Aoun’s response was: “A warplane has never rooted a victory flag” and the power of the Israeli machine cannot be victorious over a Lebanese Hezbollah resistance fighter. Therefore I think that this willpower and this mental model and this humanitarian point of view is what prompted us to meet and reach an understanding more than any other reason.
Q: Finally, what do you estimate will be the impact of the election of General Michel Aoun as president of the Lebanese Republic on the axis of resistance in the entire region and in Syria in particular?
A: It is our duty today to stand with the resistance to help them feel stronger against all adversity, because the top of the Pyramid of the Lebanese state, President Michel Aoun, will not allow anyone to stab the resistance in the back. Reiterating what the Chief of the resistance, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said, our duty is to reassure our fighters on the front line that their families in Lebanon are safe and secure; for when a fighter is reassured that his mother land and his family are all safe, his fighting spirit will surge to the highest point. Which is why today, all of us must help the resistance to reassure it that it is backed and protected by its people and its allies. This position for General Aoun is a red line which he will never retreat from. We, following President Michel Aoun, view the resistance as the dignity of Lebanon; and the dignity of the Lebanese for restoring the land precedes any another matter. Therefore we assure the Lebanese that all this talk will not be able to alter the principle of General Aoun: that Lebanon must be a country of resistance as long as there is an enemy be it the takfiris or the Zionist regime; any enemy that threatens our very existence.