Press TV has conducted an interview with Emile Lahoud, the former president of Lebanon, to discuss Israel’s role in the ongoing tension in Lebanon. The following transcript is the first of the two parts of the interview:
Press TV: I have already spoken to Amine Gemayel and Michel Aoun, you know how they interpret Lebanese politics but I would call you the voice of reason, a person who does not have conflict of interest, so maybe you can tell me what is going on in Lebanon. Why is it that we do not have an effective government, as we speak?
Lahoud: Well as you said now I am not in politics but I can tell you of my experience who 18 years – nine years as commander-in-chief and nine years as President – and when you are out of politics, you see the whole scene, you are not involved.
So I can tell you all our troubles in Lebanon have been since the creation of Israel in 48. [They] started at the time when the Israeli state was created and we had refugees coming to Lebanon and this later as you know we had troubles in Lebanon and meanwhile Israel who thinks twice about Lebanon because it is anti-Lebanon – as you know Lebanon is made out of 18 different sects of religion whereas Israel wants to have the state as a Jewish state – and since then the trouble started.
In summary, all our troubles come from Israel through the US because it has a lot of influence in electing the President of US and always I give an example George Bush, the father, who had been through all the important positions in the US, he became Senator, he was governor, he was head of the CIA, he was ambassador to the UN and then vice president and President, because the last year of his tenure, the first term, he did not give money to the Israeli army – at the time I remember ten billion dollars – and he was ousted in the second term whereas his son who his mother says about him that she was surprised he was elected because she was thinking about another son, Jeb, and she said I do not think he will be up to it, well he was elected twice because he was helping Israel.
So the influence of Israel comes through the lobby they have in the US which they affect the election of the president and when something happens in the Middle East, Israel tells the Americans. Americans because of their AWACS the Saudis and the [Persian] Gulf [states] must do whatever they want so whatever they tell them they do and the Saudis and the [Persian] Gulf [states], they have the fanatic, the Takfiri [ideology], etc. and they tell them. So there is an indirect relation between the Takfiris and the Israelis.
And why I am saying that? Israel through this influence they have and I call it always it is the “aircraft carrier of the US in the Middle East”, it has everything for Israel – I mean to have the influence, the gas, the petrol, etc. So what is happening, the Israelis do not want to have stability in Lebanon. So through proxies – US, France, the West, etc. – they influence the Lebanese and they want to keep it on a confessional differences between the Lebanese so that they become weak, like we had they call it “the Spring Democracy”.
Well they have been trying to keep Lebanon with an election law that is very confessional whereas from my experience I found out that the problem of Lebanon will be solved very easily in changing only the law of the elections. Why? Because the member of parliament now must talk about his own sect of religion to be re-elected, whereas if you make Lebanon, and all Lebanon is four million people, I always give an example a small department in any other country where elections can take place very easily [for] four million people, they make it one circumspection so that the west will need the east of Lebanon, north of Lebanon needs Beirut, etc. so they talk national and when Lebanon talks national it is very strong.
Another reason that we have these troubles is that – I give myself as an example always, because it happened with me – is the corruption in Lebanon. When I was elected, I did not know any Saudi Arabians and I did not know even Syrians or anybody. All my studies were in the US and I am naval engineer, I was all my education in London. But when I arrived here, the first day I arrived, whenever there were problems – it has just started the resistance in Lebanon – the US ambassador would phone me – I was just appointed commander-in-chief and say why these terrorist are making trouble with the Israelis? So I would say, at the time they were occupying our land, so as a Lebanese I am the commander-in-chief of a national army, I have to help these Lebanese to regain their land. Let the Israelis go out, then we will talk and he did not like that.
At the same time, the first week I was elected, I was surprised when the President of the Republic tells me to come and see him and I see in his office and this is something I said on televisions all over since 20 years but nobody listens why as you know the West has got a lot of media and they can show whatever they want. We do not have the media needed, so what happens – and this is very important, why corruption in Lebanon – is that the Saudis did not know me, suddenly I found the ex-head of the intelligence bureau in Lebanon, colonel Johnny Abdo, who was at the time I became ambassador of Lebanon in France with a suitcase on the table, he opened it in the presence of the President of the Republic. He says, ‘look general, this money since 82, I was nominated in 89, so seven years have passed, Sheikh … brings half a million dollars cash every month, not year, to the commander-in-chief and all commanders since 83, because many were changed since 83 until I was nominated, they get half a million dollar per month.’
So I thought he wanted to help the army, I said, ‘very nicely, why don’t you give it to the government and the government puts it in the money of the army like the public money the army gets and we spend it on the army?’ so he says, ‘No. you must understand this money is to buy the officers to bring them to your side so that you have most of these soldiers with you.’ So I said, ‘how these officers and soldiers will fight and are ready to die for their land if they get money every month and I get the rest of the money?’ and I stood up and I said, ‘I do not want that.’ So the President said,’ I told you, he is mad’ – because they had known my mentality before – ‘ so give it to me.’ and the President of the Republic at the time … who was taking every month half a million dollars cash for himself to spend like he wants.
Why I am saying that? If they tried with me as commander and later when I became President, some other Arab countries came and said, ‘Okay, this is five million.’ I remember when came with a suitcase … the week I was elected as President. These are things that happen. Why I am telling you, just to tell you why there is no state in Lebanon.
Press TV: So it was not only Saudi Arabia?
Lahoud: Other Arab countries as well and I remember very well Johnny Abdo as well at the time he said and these Arab countries, but now you are elected President, why are you afraid. Because they thought I was afraid to take the money because I wanted to become President.
No. they do not believe that it is my duty not to take this money and when they told me that I asked for the commander of the Republican Guard and he said what are you doing, he said he will put you in prison, they ran away and what I am saying, that if the commander-in-chief in Lebanon who they do not know, they tried to bribe him with half a million dollars a month, and then the President of the Republic with half a million dollars a month plus, because I knew that after me, the next President, he was asking from Qatar and help me in that and that because I do not have money. It is not true. The state has money to make for example with finding excuses to make barracks for soldiers but the money is there in the state. But no, they would take in the name of the barracks and put them in their pocket.
So what I am saying that if the commander takes and the President, I mean they tried to bribe the commander and they tried to bribe the President, so in between you have members of parliament, you have ministers, you have Prime Ministers, you have speakers of the House, so I think like they tried the commander and the President, they tried the others and I remember on television the guy that was asking me the question, he said, ‘why don’t they come up on television and say the same thing?’ I said because all of them were bribed and they cannot talk about it.
Why I am saying that? Because whenever there is an important matter to be solved in Lebanon, the people that are paying them will tell them, ‘look, you are getting every month, you want me to tell the world that you were being bribed?’ so they make blackmail.
Press TV: So they are doing it right now as well, the Saudis are still bribing top Lebanese politicians, as we speak?
Lahoud: Sure. If they did not know me, they tried in 89 and then later when I was President until I left 18 years, but when I became president I stopped the money because the money was arriving to some offices as well and I remember very well the first meeting I had been one month in office, the President of the Republic who knew that I refused the money and he was taking it but he was trying to play politics, I remember at midnight he woke me up and said they are asking you to come to the council of ministers. At the time the council of ministers was still in western Beirut because the army was divided for one year until we went to … where we made the united command and I arrived at midnight and I did not know because at the time Walid Jumblatt was not still friendly with Hariri, Hariri at the very beginning, the end of 89, beginning of 90, because he was not getting the money at the time but later they became very friends, so you can find why they became friends.
Anyway, so the President I remember all the ministers were witnesses, they were there. He asked me like this. He said, ‘commander-in-chief, we are asking you in the middle of the night because Walid Jumblatt is saying that there are some officers in the army that used to take money from outside their salary. What do you say?’ And he knew very well a month before what happened but he thought I would be afraid because the President was asking. I said, ‘yes, there were officers and I stopped that.’ And he said, ‘why don’t you put them in prison?’ I said, ‘you know very well President that they pay cash and you were a witness,’ in front of all the ministers. And I had been at the time on the two-months nominated as commander.
What I want to say in summary, Israel by their proxies – America, France, some western countries, they have a lot of power in the world, Saudi Arabia, the [Persian] Gulf states, etc. they want to keep Lebanon in corruption and in confessionalism because they do not allow them to have an election law.
And because of that I say now they say the most important thing is to elect the President. Even if they bring the best President, he will not be able to do anything with such a parliament. You say what is the solution, I said it may times, you make all Lebanon one … and so that for example the … as they call them or the Christians say but the Muslims are more, so they take our seats, they keep the same number of seats for each confession. For example now there are 35 Maronites in the 128 member parliament, they will keep 35 but they will be elected by all Lebanon not the Christians elected by Christians and every time he is elected, the Christian member of parliament, he will say I brought to the Christians, he will not say I brought to the Lebanese. And that is why during our tenure we were talking national though the parliament was not national but we could make a national army because we were not saying Maronite. I am proud to be a Maronite but I am a Maronite in my church not in the state. In the state I am here when I am responsible for the good of the people not for the good of myself and my family and this is very important that the people know the corruption started there and most of our politicians are being bribed by every month until now they get money. Some of them changed their policy, they are not anymore with them but they still get the money and they get from other places. You cannot build a state with corruption and confessionalism.
Press TV: I was asking Amine Gemayel who killed your son Pierre; he said I do not know, it is still being investigated. Then I asked Michel Aoun who do you think killed Amine Gemayel’s son? Michel Aoun says that he sees Israel as the prime suspect in this, all the assassinations – Rafic Hariri, Pierre Gemayel and many others. Who do you think is killing these people in Lebanon?
Lahoud: That is another reason just to prove to you that the corruption and confessionalism are brought from Israel and when it does not work, they declare war on Lebanon. We had it. They were occupying our land for 28 years and then in 2000 because we united a national army so we could defend the back of the resistance and we won on Israel. In 2006 we won on Israel and when they cannot do anything, they go to assassinations.
I can tell you when the assassination of Hariri happened, the first week I had an international media that came to Lebanon, I still have the interview. The first thing he said it was …, the French, I mean all over the world and it was all direct. He told me is that, exactly and the world was watching a week after the killing of Hariri, he said all the world says that you and President of Syria killed Hariri. What do you have to say? He said why are you so surprised? I said, ‘do you have a proof?’ he said no. I said when you do not have a proof, you see who benefits most. I said Hariri did whatever we wanted. He asked me to make my term longer three years and he came and elected that and during that time, it is all written, he said Hariri we are going through very difficult times and we have to have a strong President. And only two days ago before his killing his son went, I remember it was a Saturday evening, he came, Saad Hariri to Faraya in the mountain, there was snow, two days before he was killed with Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd at the time he was the most influential in Saudi Arabia, his father Fahd was the King and they said we did not want to take from your time in the office. We came here just to say hello and invite you for dinner and we like to be together. I said no, I will invite you to dinner. Maybe next week we will talk about it and Saad at the time said my father sends his best and he is in Beirut. I said can I talk to him? He said just now he will call you and he called me and things were going fine.
So he said who? I said the enemies of Lebanon killed him. He said how? I said because they want to change the resistance and they are against the resistance, the Israelis. With me being President, they cannot so they want to make something very big so that there is turmoil in Lebanon and like this they can change the power in Lebanon. That is what they did. And he said how can Israel do it? I am saying 2005. I said the same thing I just told you. I said Israel talks to the US, US to Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia to the fundamentalists, extremists and they might have done it but the idea comes from there.
Press TV: So you see an Israeli-American-Saudi alliance behind the killing of Rafic Hariri?
Lahoud: It could be. I am saying if you do not have any proof, you look for who benefits the most. Israel benefits the most and the other countries do what Israel wants in the Middle East. And the proof is that now ten years have passed, nobody knows who killed him. Why? Because the satellite that was watching over the area where he was being killed was US and Israeli and both of them, the US says at that time ‘it was not working’. The Israelis say we do not want to give you any news. And all they are doing now just asking. First they accused us, they found there is nothing. They accused the officers that were responsible of security, put them in prison for years and they let them out because they are innocent. Third, they accused Syria, it did not work. Now they are accusing Hezbollah but who benefits most? So the same thing with all the killings in Lebanon whether it is Pierre Gemayel and you know very well he was a very good politician and the others and I can tell you that whenever Israel cannot do anything it works with confessionalism, indirect because they do not pay, they have the Saudis and the [Persian] Gulf [states] paying and if it does not work it is killing.
(Source / 13.11.2015)