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April 22, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 9921

Fmr. Lebanese Ambassador To The U.S. Gabriel Issa: I Support Increasing Hizbullah's Arsenal 'Dozens Of Times Over' And Its Presence At The Border; The U.S. Demand To Disarm Hizbullah Will Lead Us To A Civil War

April 22, 2022
Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 9921

Gabriel Issa, the former Lebanese ambassador to the United States, said in an April 14, 2022 interview on OTV (Lebanon) that not only does he support the presence of Hizbullah's weapons on the Lebanese border, but that he even supports increasing Hizbullah's arsenal dozens of times over because it protects the Lebanese people. He said that it is hypocritical of the U.S. to "grumble" and call for the dissolution of Hizbullah and other Lebanese militias because today's situation in Lebanon is America's doing. He explained that the issue of the militias' weapons will be resolved when the regional issues are resolved, and he pointed out that Lebanon is facing many other problems. In addition, Issa said that by pressuring Lebanon about Hizbullah's weapons, the U.S. is trying to push Lebanon towards civil war. Moreover, Issa said that the U.S. threateningly told the Lebanese that they must not contribute to the reconstruction of Syria in the aftermath of the Syrian civil war, even though Lebanon was impacted by the war more than any other country. Issa, an Aoun-ally, was appointed ambassador to the U.S. in July 2017 and presented his letter of credence to President Trump in January 2018.

To view the clip of Gabriel Issa on MEMRI TV, click here or below.

"Not Just Keeping Them – I Support Increasing [Their Arsenal] Dozens Of Times Over"

Gabriel Issa: "Personally, I support the weapons of the resistance on the border – not inside Lebanon and not across the border. On the border. It protects all of us. But what I am talking about is who was behind..."

Interviewer: "So you are in favor of [Hizbullah] keeping the weapons of the resistance?"

Issa: "Not just keeping them. I support increasing [their arsenal] dozens of times over. I confronted senior American officials who came to talk to me. I said to them: 'You allowed for this.' They said it was the Syrians, not them. So I said: 'You allowed Syria to invade [Lebanon].' The same thing happened with regard to the Taif Agreement. I said to them: 'You imposed the ruling system of the Taif Agreement on us.' Their answer was: 'It was the Saudis, not us.' The Americans always deny responsibility. They say that they did not allow Syria to [invade Lebanon], that they did not allow Saudi Arabia to impose the Taif Agreement on us... All [the Americans] who say today that we do not have the right to do this – they themselves formed a militia and invented the concept of a militia and of a mini-state within a state. Not only did they invent this notion, but they have imposed it on us for many years, and now they grumble about the existence of [the Hizbullah] militia? You have the same background. You said that you were defending Lebanon, and [Hizbullah] also says it defends Lebanon. The [Americans] have no right. Okay, so there are weapons that not held by the Lebanese army. Sure, there is a problem and it will be resolved when the regional issues are resolved. But today, in the elections, all you hear is people suggesting to take away the weapons of the resistance, as if this is the only problem."

Interviewer: "It is also noteworthy that no one mentions the weapons of the Palestinians in the refugee camps."

"We Were Completely Prevented From Doing This – I Am Not Saying That We Accepted This, But This Was The Language They Used With Us"

Issa: "Absolutely. We talked about when the mini-states within the state began, and when the Lebanese army came to restore its control of this Lebanese land, everybody opposed it. Today, the Americans are inciting us to send the Lebanese army to take away the weapons of the resistance. What does this mean? That they want to push us towards a civil war. This is what I am against.

[...]

"[The Americans] pressured us with regard to many issues. For example, they pressured us with regard to our dealings with Syria. We were directly informed about this in a threatening tone. I was at the meeting when they said: 'Don't even think about contributing to the reconstruction of Syria.' This is the language they used. They threatened to impose sanctions on us. Lebanon was forbidden from helping in this reconstruction, even though this was an opportunity for the Lebanese. We paid a higher price for that war than other countries, considering the size of Lebanon, its economy, and its population. We were the country impact the most by that war, so at least, when the reconstruction begins, let us offset some of it – I'm not talking about benefiting from this but at least some offsetting some of our losses. No. We were completely prevented from doing this. I am not saying that we accepted this, but this was the language they used with us – not only with me. Officials more senior than me were also present, and they were told to their faces, by the top American in charge of the Syrian portfolio: 'I came to tell you that you are forbidden from participating in the reconstruction of Syria.' During the discussion, we said: 'Why? We have the right to do this.' But he said: 'I did not come to negotiate with you. I came to inform you.' This was the language he used."

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