BEIRUT: Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said Tuesday contacts to resolve the Cabinet crisis were under way, stressing that the group was keen on the continuation of the present government and that the formation of a new one was out of the question.
Nasrallah also reiterated his support to Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying the resistance group backed the embattled leader as a matter of principle in the face of Western and Israeli attempts to topple him.
“We are keen on preserving the continuity of this government and there is no need for mediation given that it is everyone's responsibility. There are ongoing contacts to resolve the crisis in the Cabinet,” Nasrallah, who spoke on the occasion of Prophet Mohammad’s birthday, told supporters via video link at the Mujamaa Sayyed al-Shuhada complex in Beirut’s southern suburbs.
“And for those who have started to put on their ties and suits, I say there will be no new government to replace the [current one] and this Cabinet will carry on,” he added.
Lebanon’s government plunged into a crisis last week over differences between Prime Minister Najib Mikati and ministers loyal to Change and Reform bloc chief MP Michel Aoun over the thorny issue of civil service appointments. Mikati suspended that Cabinet session and then subsequently decided to suspend all further meetings until the government’s cohesiveness is restored.
Both Aoun and Mikati accuse each other of obstructing the work of the government.
Nasrallah said Mikati's Cabinet had been a source of stability amid regional unrest, adding that it was “not the time for political tensions in the country.”
He also touched on the crisis in neighboring Syria and defended Assad’s actions.
“The Syrian leadership has agreed to most of the reforms demanded and the leadership is ready for dialogue and now they [opposition] are saying it is too late. How is it too late and there is a civil war in Syria?” Nasrallah, who has showed full support to Assad since the uprising began 10 months ago, said.
“Whoever is keen on preserving [stability] in Syria would never say that it was too late but would instead launch dialogue and without prior conditions for the resignation of the president,” he added.
Nasrallah also said that there was a collaborative effort by the West, Israel and some Arab countries, in a clear reference to Gulf Corporation Council, to end the rule of Assad.
"There is a U.S., Western, Israeli decision along with some moderate Arab countries to force the collapse of the regime, knowing that most of these countries lack democracy and human rights,” Nasrallah said.
He added that such a decision was not in the interest of the Syrian people.
In previous speeches, Nasrallah has slammed the Syrian National Council, the main anti-Assad opposition group, accusing them of seeking to "destroy” Syria by moving closer to the U.S. and Israel.
The leader, who made a rare public appearance in Beirut last year, has also said that Lebanon would be the country most affected by the crisis in Syria.
On Saturday, both Russia and China vetoed a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution prepared by the West and Arab countries that condemned Assad’s lethal crackdown on anti-government protesters. According to the U.N., the crackdown has killed over 6,000 people, mostly civilians.
Assad maintains that the deaths have been at the hands of armed anti-government gangs, vowing to crush them.
In his speech Tuesday, Nasrallah recalled that the Syrian government had promised major political reform including a multi-party system and the annulment of an article in the country’s constitution that gives exclusive ruling power to the Baath Party.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who arrived in Damascus earlier in the day and met with Assad, said Moscow and Damascus wanted to revive the recently suspended monitoring effort by the Arab League, whose plan to resolve Syria's crisis Russia and China vetoed at the U.N. Security Council.
Lavrov quoted Assad as saying that he was willing to launch dialogue with all political groups in Syria.
Opposition groups have dismissed similar pledges made by Assad.
The Hezbollah leader also denied reports that his group was involved in unrest in Lebanon’s neighbor, criticizing media coverage of the unrest.
Nasrallah said events in Syria could not be described as a sectarian war, “although there are some who are seeking to plunge the country into a civil war.”
He also praised ally Iran’s aid throughout the group’s history and said his group enjoyed complete independence in its decision-making.