Lebanese Justice Minister Resigns Over Hezbollah Influence
Mon, February 22, 2016
Supporters of Ashraf Rifi demonstrate in Lebanon. (Photo: © Reuters)
Lebanon’s Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi resigned over the influence of the Iranian sponsored Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah in the Lebanese government.
Rifi, a long-time opponent of Hezbollah, quit after Saudi Arabia pulled a $4-billion deal to equip the Lebanese security forces. Rifi blamed Hezbollah, the political wing of which sits in the Lebanese government and the military wing of which is fighting on the regime side in Syria’s complicated civil war.
Rifi blamed Hezbollah’s influence for preventing Lebanon from backing Saudi Arabia in the Gulf kingdom, which Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil refused to do at two international meetings.
“There is an armed party that is dominating the government’s decisions” he added.
“Hezbollah has used this government to consolidate its project of a mini-state” AFP quoted Rifi as saying. It wanted to use it as a tool to extend its control over the state and its decisions. I will not accept becoming false witness and covering for those trying to dominate the state and its institutions ... that is why I am presenting my resignation.”
Hezbollah was founded in the mid-1980s under Iranian sponsorship in part to fight Israel, but has since moved beyond its original purpose. The only armed faction to keep its weapons at the end of the Lebanese Civil War in 1990, Hezbollah is thought to be more powerful than the Lebanese military.
It has participated in the Lebanese national unity government since May 2014. Splits within the Lebanese government between pro and anti-Hezbollah elements have frustrated all efforts to appoint a president and the country has not had one since May 2014.