Exclusive: US ordered economic collapse in Lebanon - Bassil
FPM leader Gebran Bassil talks with Al Mayadeen in an exclusive interview ahead of the Lebanese legislative elections.
There is a "paralyzed" political system in Lebanon that cannot be upheld, Lebanese Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil told Al Mayadeen on Wednesday.
The problem in Lebanon lies in the fact that there is no political resolve to find solutions to save the country, Bassil said, noting that "we are part of a political status-quo that we reject, but we do not have the majority for us to implement our plans."
He also asserted that there had been an "attempted coup against us through [the October 17 protests], and that cannot be described as a revolution. He also called for a civil state with administrative decentralization to help the country out of sectarianism.
The leader of the Lebanese Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil to #AlMayadeen: "A coup was carried out against us on October 17, and it cannot be described as a revolution."@Gebran_Bassil #Lebanon https://t.co/4iMOcBNIz2— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) April 27, 2022
Touching on the Mar Mikhael Agreement between his party and Hezbollah, Bassil said the accord gave Lebanon the strength to confront foreign plans for the country. "I believe that protecting the arms that protect the state and the priority of building a state go hand-in-hand," he added while underlining that the resistance's sacrifices to protect Lebanon from Israeli aggressions had to be acknowledged.
He also told Al Mayadeen that it was nonsensical that whoever caused the Lebanese economy to collapse still had political cover and stressed that it was time to rectify Beirut's fiscal policies.
"There are several foreign parties that sought the collapse of the Lebanese state, and this idea was reinforced under the former US Donald Trump administration," Bassil underlined, stressing that "we will know whether there are any political conditions that will be imposed on Lebanon after its issue is put on the negotiations table with the International Monetary Fund."
US decided to strike Lebanon's economy
He, however, revealed that the United States had decided that it did not want Lebanon to collapse; Washington wanted to make it unable to recover from its economic crisis. "The decision to import energy from Egypt and Jordan was a response to the Lebanese step to import diesel from Iran," he added.
In a similar vein, Bassil stressed that the inflation crisis caused by the US dollar was a tool used by Central Bank Governor Riyadh Salameh to serve personal and electoral interests. "What kind of protection [does he have so that] when a judge issues a ruling against the Governor of the Banque du Liban and the ruling is not implemented by the state apparatus?"
The Lebanese politician underlined that he did not expect the US sanctions imposed on him to be lifted before the presidential elections in Lebanon, "because they are a politically-motivated decision."
Elections to be held as scheduled
The FPM leader linked the return of the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon to France's "limited" effort, noting that there were parties within the country that were serving foreign parties at the expense of the state.
Bassil revealed that he was pursuing the filing of an official complaint into the spending on the elections, which he said "went over the ceiling," though he did highlight that it had not been found that Saudi Arabia intervened by funding any party or figure running for the election.
"We seek an amicable relationship with Saudi Arabia that is not based on dependency nor monetary gains," Bassil said.
He also stressed that there were parties that come to terms with the fact that it was not possible to change the political balance in Lebanon through elections.
Regarding the prospects of him visiting Syria, Bassil said such a visit would come in due time after the elections. A visit to Damascus "would serve Lebanon's economic and political interests," he added.
He also touched on the Lebanese foreign ministry's statement condemning the Russian operation in Ukraine. Bassil claimed he would not have approved the contents of the statement had he known of them beforehand, "and we have great relations with Russia".
He also assured that the elections "will be held on time, and I do not see any indication yet" to postpone them, adding that there were parties in Lebanon lying to foreign powers about their standings in the election in order to garner more funds.
Bassil also underlined to Al Mayadeen that the FPM does not bribe the electorate into voting for it. "We do not seek votes that do not align with our political alignment."
"How can we see ourselves as a majority alongside Parliament speaker Nabih Berri while we have opposite political views?" he said in response to reports that his party holds a majority within parliament. He also highlighted that it was not necessary to elect speaker Berri to head Parliament again.
"The upcoming elections could have an effect on the presidential elections," he also highlighted.