Aoun rejects US claims about Hezbollah’s clout on Lebanon govt.

Press TV – Lebanese President Michel Aoun has strongly dismissed latest allegations by the US ambassador to the Arab country that the Hezbollah resistance movement is now wielding more influence on the Beirut government.

“This is the US vision and it contradicts with reality. Hezbollah has maintained the same political presence it had in the previous government, and it is not true that its influence over Lebanon is increasing,” Aoun said on Wednesday evening.

He added, “What some political circles say in this regard is mere bickering. At the security level, they even say that Hezbollah has influence in the South and the Bekaa (Valley). This is while there is no authority higher than that of the army and security forces, which recently carried out major operations in the region and beefed up security and stability.”

On Tuesday, Ambassador Elizabeth Richard met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, and voiced Washington’s concern over Hezbollah’s “growing role in the Cabinet.”

Hezbollah “continues to make its own national security decisions – decisions that endanger the rest of the country,” she claimed.

On February 4, the Hezbollah secretary general flatly rejected allegations by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his movement is in control of the Lebanese government, stressing the new administration belongs to all political factions participating in it.

The Israeli premier is “provoking the United States, European countries and the [Persian] Gulf states against the Lebanese government, claiming that it is controlled by Hezbollah. Such false claims have serious international repercussions,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said as he addressed his supporters via a televised speech broadcast live from Beirut.

Nasrallah underscored that the new Lebanese government consists of various political parties, and that Hezbollah is just one of them.

In response to certain media reports that the new health minister is a member of Hezbollah, Nasrallah pointed out that Jamil Jabak, who is a doctor by profession, is solely close to the resistance movement, but not a member of it.

Lebanon announced the formation of a government on January 31, ending over eight months of wrangling amid fears of a major economic collapse.

Lebanon has one of the largest public debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio in the world. The figure stands at around 150 percent, and much of it has been accumulated through the cost of servicing existing debt. The economy has suffered from years of low growth.

Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil told Arabic-language al-Akhbar daily newspaper last month that his ministry was “preparing a financial correction plan including restructuring of public debt” which was needed to spare Lebanon “dramatic developments.”

“The public debt cannot continue in this way,” Khalil said. Details of the plan had not been revealed to anyone, he pointed out.