BEIRUT: Hezbollah is pushing for a government that prioritizes Lebanon's national interests and resists US hegemony, its leader Hassan Nasrallah said Monday.
Lebanon has been without a fully functioning government since Prime Minister Saad Hariri submitted his resignation almost two weeks ago. Hariri capitulated to thousands of protesters' demands who accused the decades-old political class of leading Lebanon to the brink of economic collapse.
Nasrallah also accused the U.S of blocking capital inflows into Lebanon, hindering Chinese investments and threatening sanctions for doing business in Syria.
"The state should bolster the agricultural and industrial sectors," Nasrallah said, arguing that the "Iraqi market presents a historic opportunity for Lebanon."
He also urged discussions with the Syrian government to open the export routes to Iraq, which will bolster local production.
Nasrallah also accused the U.S of hindering progress in the demarcation of Lebanon's maritime and land borders with Israel to block Lebanon from extracting its own oil and gas.
Lebanon has yet to begin its offshore oil and gas exploration despite signing an agreement with a consortium of energy firms last year.
In the midst of a massive contraction of its economy, with economic growth falling below the 0 percent mark, Lebanon has also been hit with U.S sanctions targetting its banking sector. In August, the U.S targetted Jammal Trust Bank, accusing it of aiding and abetting Hezbollah. The bank denied the charges but was forced to go through liquidation./
"Our money is not in the banks and the sanctions on the banking sector are sanctions against Lebanon and the Lebanese people which seek to divide our people," Nasrallah said.
Lebanon has found itself caught in the crosshairs of a wider U.S-Iranian conflict, with President Donald Trump's administration seemingly determined to implement an economic pressure campaign on the Islamic Republic and its proxies.
"Iranian and Chinese companies are willing and able of investing in Lebanon but the U.S prohibits them," Nasrallah said.
Lebanese firms, meanwhile, are also refraining from investing in Syria fearing possible retribution from the U.S, Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah also threw his support behind Lebanon's judiciary, saying that his party is willing to cooperate even in cases involving its members.
“If there is any case related to a Hezbollah official, I urge you to start with us, and I guarantee Hezbollah’s respect,” Nasrallah said, addressing the Higher Judicial Council during as protests entered their 26th day.
Tackling corruption should be Lebanon’s priority, he said, acknowledging that a political consensus is forming on the issue. Consensus over the makeup of the government, however, has yet to materialize.
"When it comes to the government formation ... the meetings are ongoing and the discussions are underway in the country," he said. "I will not discuss this matter ... and we will leave the door open."
Hariri, sources say, has pushed for a Cabinet free from the traditional political parties, as per the protesters' demands, but has met opposition from Hezbollah and to a lesser extent its ally the Free Patriotic Movement.
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