The French – Hezbollah romance continues

The French initiative and the attempts to form a government: The French continue meeting with senior Hezbollah figures, as the “Shiite duo” (Hezbollah and Amal movements) continue to insist on receiving the mandate to appoint the finance minister.

On September 16, the French ambassador to Lebanon, Bruno Foucher, met with Hezbollah’s international and Arab relations chief Ammar al-Moussawi (see the picture above) as part of the French effort to form a new government in Lebanon.

Ammar al-Moussawi, a Lebanese politician, son of a family from al-Nabi Chit in the Beqaa valley, born in 1962 in Haret Hreik. In 1988, his brother, Zaid Jamil al-Moussawi was killed in a battle with the IDF in the town of Meidoun. Al-Moussawi, one of the founders of Hezbollah has held political and military positions. In addition to his role as head of international and Arab relations, al-Moussawi also serves as a member of the Hezbollah Political Council. He studied political science at the Lebanese University and was a member of parliament sitting on the Shiite seat, representing the Baalbek and al-Hermel districts from 1996-2005, as part of Hezbollah’s “Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc”.

According to Salem Zahran, a journalist close to Hezbollah, the discussions related to the French initiative and the formation of a new government in Lebanon. In a meeting with the French ambassador, al-Moussawi reiterated the position of the “Shiite duo” (Hezbollah and the Amal movements), according to which they must obtain the Ministry of Finance and name their own ministers.

The leader of the Amal Shiite movement, Nabih Berri, who serves as Speaker of Parliament, has appointed the Minister of Finance in the Lebanese government in recent years. The reason Hezbollah and the Amal movement insist on accepting the appointment of the Minister of Finance is clear to all. One can learn about the reasons for the “Shiite duo’s” insistence on the appointment of the Finance Minister from the details of the American sanctions recently imposed on former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil.

Khalil made it easier for Hezbollah to obtain financial gains by making monetary transfers allowing Hezbollah to evade sanctions; he took part in exempting Hezbollah from paying electronic income taxes and transferred funds from Lebanese institutions to Hezbollah in a way that allowed these institutions to evade US sanctions. To alleviate US financial constraints on Hezbollah, he used his influence to exempt those who belong to Hezbollah from paying most of the taxes and supported Hezbollah with about 25% of the state treasury money.

The mindset among Hezbollah supporters concerning the French involvement is reflected in the following quotes from the internet: “Said Ammar al-Moussawi did not discuss with the French ambassador and did not negotiate with him. Let it be clear: he told him what the decision was. Did you hear? Told him. We do not receive orders, we receive what we deserve and that is”…

On the other hand, a number of caricatures were found on the web against the “Shiite duo”, vis-à-vis the issue of appointing the finance minister: The first notable caricature mocks the Shiite duo’s insistence on appointing the finance minister, even while the ship (Lebanon) is sinking (inspired by the scene in the movie “Titanic”):

Shiite duo’s insistence on appointing the finance minister, even while the ship (Lebanon) is sinking… (The art of Boo)

A second prominent caricature, based on the Shiite emblem of the Battle of Karbala, shows an illustration of a warrior in the Battle of Karbala carrying a flag; the caption on the flag was changed with Photoshop from “Ya Hussein” to “Ya Ministry of Finance”. Attached to the photo is the following caption: “As part of the defense of the Ministry of Finance in the year 680” …

“As part of the defense of the Ministry of Finance in the year 680”
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Tal Beeri

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