On February 11, 2017, in an interview with the Egyptian channel CBC, Lebanese President Michel 'Aoun defended Hizbullah's possession of weapons, saying: "So long as there is [Lebanese] land occupied by Israel, and so long as the [Lebanese] army is not strong enough to fight Israel, we feel that the weapons of the resistance are vital to complementing the weapons of the army." He added: "Hizbullah's weapons absolutely do not challenge the state and are a main part of defending Lebanon."
'Aoun's statements sparked criticism from UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag, who tweeted: "Recalling SCR 1701 vital 4 Lebanon's stability-security. Resolution calls 4 disarmament [of] all armed groups. No arms outside control of state."Kaag later told the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar that 'Aoun's comments were concerning and that she intended to set a meeting with him to discuss the issue.
Sigrid Kaag's February 13 tweet
The following day, on February 14, 2017, Hassan 'Aliq, a columnist for the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is known for its support of Hizbullah, published an article titled "Sigrid Kaag, Shut Up!" which harshly attacked Kaag for her opposition to Hizbullah's weapons. In it, he demanded that she "shut up" and even told her: "Die in your rage." He went on to argue that Kaag, like other Western diplomats in Lebanon, is displeased that the Lebanese regime is headed by a powerful figure such as 'Aoun, who refuses to bow to them and speaks candidly. Hizbullah, he wrote, has become a "massive regional force" that grows stronger every day, amasses armaments, possesses game-changing weapons, operates south of the Litani River, and disregards the existence of Security Council Resolution 1701. He added that the Lebanese people support Hizbullah's increasing strength and "will be displeased with the resistance if it attains anything less than a nuclear bomb."
Following are excerpts from 'Aliq's column:
"Lebanon is attractive to consuls. It is home to an army of politicians, people who yearn to be ministers or MPs, businessmen, clerics, members of the media, key figures in society, intellectuals, and the like – who worship the [foreign] consuls and draw strength solely from [serving foreign] embassies [in Lebanon]. Nothing is valid for them unless it is issued by [some] superpower. They say that the former French ambassador to Beirut, Barnard Émié, sunk into a deep depression after his [recall from Lebanon] and his reappointment as his country's ambassador to Turkey. [This is because] in Beirut, Émié partnered with [former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon] Jeffrey Feltman in order to 'engineer' the regime in Beirut [to operate according to their will] after the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. He was guest of honor at countless meetings and banquets. No one contradicted him. He was above the [Lebanese] constitution, and his influence was greater than that of the law. The difference between him and any high commissioner who ruled Lebanon before 1943 is merely in their official duties. Conversely, in Turkey, he is strictly an ambassador who represents the interests of his country, without servants, without motorcades, and without the applause that accompanied his arrival at meetings. He receives no gifts, is not invited [to events], and there are no politicians willing to do anything just to receive a recommendation from 'his eminence' to include their name on the list of people who will receive some order of merit from the Élysée Palace.
"The weight of the American ambassador to Beirut is several times that of the French ambassador. He is a god to many politicians. Additionally, the British ambassador and the EU representative are treated, at the very least, like prophets. In recent years, the list of people worshipped [in Lebanon] also saw the addition of the UN Special Coordinator [for Lebanon]. This same UN, which is powerless to do anything in the world, has a high commissioner in Lebanon who runs from the home of one [Lebanese] politician to another, from this ministry to that administration, and from one association to the next, without being stopped by anyone... Because this is Lebanon, the UN Special Coordinator becomes a high commissioner in the fullest sense of the term. Sigrid Kaag currently serves in this role. The comments by President Michel 'Aoun two days ago [February 11, 2017] regarding the role of the resistance [i.e. Hizbullah] in Lebanon angered [Kaag], who reminded us of [UN Security Council] Resolution 1701 and of the regular empty talk of 'disarming all armed groups.'
"This lady, who does not address any Israeli violation of Lebanese sovereignty or the occupation of the Jaroud 'Arsal area by ISIS, and who operates as a very low-level clerk in the American administration, who opposes strengthening the Lebanese army, told the website [for the Lebanese daily] Al-Nahar yesterday [February 13] that 'Aoun's comments were 'concerning.' She later denied to [Lebanese news channel] LBCI that she had commented on 'Aoun's remarks.
"We must say the truth: 'Aoun's remarks are indeed concerning [to them]. For the first time in 10 years, the international community encounters a Lebanese official at this level, who speaks candidly...
"But in fairness, we must thank Kaag for her courage. Yesterday she took it on herself to speak for her American, British, French, and European colleagues, who are displeased with 'Aoun and his positions, and who oppose anything that includes even a possibility of constructing a strong state in Lebanon. This is because it is better for them [if Lebanon] remains a submissive [private] estate that requires their protection, and nothing more.
"Ms. Kaag, thank you for your courage, but die in your rage. The Lebanese resistance has become a massive regional force. Its capabilities increase daily in terms of armament, equipment, and manpower, as well as in terms of the game-changing weapons [it possesses], both north and south of the Litani [River]. As for Resolution 1701 – it is the last thing on our minds. In fact, one might assume that the resistance members who dig the underground missile silos have forgotten that [Resolution 1701] even exists, or haven't even bothered hearing about it in the first place. The only thing on their minds, as the defenders of our country's security, is to increase the might of our resistance. Many Lebanese will be displeased with the resistance if it attains anything less than a nuclear bomb.
"Ms. Kaag, this country is completely different than what you think. There are people here who believe it is an independent and sovereign nation, including the man at the head of the regime – Michel 'Aoun.
"Ms. Kaag, speak nicely or shut up."