After the terror group he leads dictated the makeup of a new Lebanese government, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah denied that Hezbollah controls Lebanon, The Times of Israel reported Monday.
Nasrallah’s remarks were aimed at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, earlier this week, told visiting ambassadors, “Iran has many branches, one of them is Hezbollah, which has now joined the Lebanese government. This is a misleading description — Hezbollah actually controls the Lebanese government and this means that Iran controls the Lebanese government.”
Nasrallah, in a speech broadcast on Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV channel, said, “The new Lebanese government is not controlled by Hezbollah.”
“The new Lebanese health minister is close to Hezbollah, but not a member of the party,” Nasrallah added.
He charged that Netanyahu was “inciting the US, European countries, and the Gulf states against the Lebanese government.”
However, Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explained in a policy brief published Friday that control of the lucrative health ministry was important to Hezbollah.
“The new minister, Jamil Jabak,” Badran wrote, “reportedly is the former personal physician of Hezbollah’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah.”
Control of the ministry was one of the non-negotiable demands that Hezbollah made of the parties in the government.
The United States, according to Badran, must now deny funds to the ministry to comply with U.S. law, even though Hezbollah “will surely protest that the new minister is not technically a card-carrying member” of the terror group.
More generally, the terror group has insisted that other sects include politicians sympathetic to the Iran-backed group into their coalitions. This means that “Hezbollah stripped any one party, even allies, of the ability to veto government decisions independently,” Badran wrote.
“Hezbollah now controls a majority coalition of all the Lebanese sects,” he continued “The government formation process demonstrated clearly how Hezbollah actually runs the entire political order, underscoring the reality that Lebanon and Hezbollah are, in effect, synonymous.”
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