US, Saudi Arabia meddling in Lebanon elections: Hezbollah

Tasnim – Lebanese Hezbollah Resistance Movement’s second-in-command, Sheikh Naim Qassem, warned that the US and Saudi Arabia are meddling in Lebanon’s parliamentary vote, slated for May, so that fewer Hezbollah members would make it to the next parliament.

“Washington and Riyadh are making attempts to see a drop in the number of Hezbollah representatives in the parliament,” the senior cleric was quoted by al-Minar TV network as saying.

Last month, secretary general of the Hezbollah resistance movement, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said that Lebanese voters should not cast their ballots in favor of those who would hand over the country to the US, compromise over oil reserves with the Israeli regime, conspire against Hezbollah or destroy the country’s economy.

He said when voting in parliamentary elections, people should ask themselves what Hezbollah had offered to Lebanon and the nation, concerning the anti-Israel resistance front, stability and services.

“Your support for Hezbollah in the elections preserves the blood of martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the resistance movement,” Nasrallah said.

The vote is scheduled to be held on May 6.

By midnight Tuesday, nearly 1,000 candidates had registered with the Arab country’s Interior Ministry to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections that promise to be hotly contested between rival political factions and blocs, as well as independents and civil society groups jostling to gain seats in the 128-member legislature.

Earlier this month, Anis Naqash, a Lebanese political expert, told Tasnim that Lebanon’s general election is a source of concern for the US and Saudi Arabia, which are seeking to compromise with Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and Samir Geagea’s party ahead of the election.

Saudi Arabia is looking for a role in Lebanon after its failure to force Hariri to adopt tough stances against Hezbollah by keeping him inside the kingdom, Naqash said.

Hariri travelled to Saudi Arabia on last week in his first visit since his abrupt -and later rescinded- resignation from Riyadh in November.

Hariri last travelled to the kingdom on November 3 and unexpectedly resigned in a televised statement a day later.

His address from his home in Riyadh sparked outrage in Lebanon over what was publicly perceived as the abduction of a sovereign state’s prime minister by another country.

The move put Saudi-Lebanese relations to the test with President Michel Aoun refusing to accept the resignation and calling on authorities in Riyadh to release his country’s “detained” prime minister.

Hariri, 47, ultimately returned to Beirut weeks later after France’s mediation efforts, and withdrew his resignation.