This week, Lebanon‘s top Christian cleric, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi, made a fierce statement directed at Hezbollah, not in an official way, but in the form of a leaked video.
In the video, speaking to Lebanese in the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, Al-Rahi asked a list of stern rhetorical questions aimed at the leadership of the Iran-backed party.
“Why are you standing against neutrality? Do you want to force me (Lebanon) to go to war?” asked Al-Rahi, as though speaking on behalf of the country.
“Do you want to keep us in a state of war of your choosing? Do you ask for my opinion when you do go to war? Did you ask for my approval to go to Syria, Iraq, and Yemen?”
“Do you ask for the government’s opinion when declaring war and peace with Israel? Given that the constitution says that declaring war and peace is upon the decision of two-thirds of the government’s votes.”
“Why don’t you ask for my opinion and approval, but I have to ask for your opinion and approval?” Al-Rahi asked, referring to how Hezbollah‘s Parliamentary bloc has a say in all government decisions.
“You’re not looking out for (our) interests, nor the interests of your people,” Al-Rahi criticized.
The stance resonates with a large population of Lebanese, even Shia Muslims from within Hezbollah. Al-Rahi revealed that people from Hezbollah visit him secretly in Bkerki to complain about the conditions that they are also suffering.
They tell him things such as ‘These weapons are against us, we can’t take it anymore,‘ Al-Rahi said and added, “This means that they (in Hezbollah) are hungry like us.”
Al-Rahi’s leaked message came across not only as harsh criticism of Hezbollah but also poked at the Lebanese leaders’ double standard in dealing with the party.
Last year, U.S. Ambassador in Lebanon Dorothy Shea said, “Through his relationship with Hezbollah, Bassil covers the party’s weapons while Hezbollah covers (Bassil’s) corruption.”
Today, Lebanon is on the cusp of forming a new government that will dictate the future of the country, and whether Hezbollah will be at the helm of it or not is a matter in the hands of Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri.