Lebanon is a fractured society partly controlled by Hizbollah. Many in the public back this reality and yet:
Lebanon’s prime minister-designate Najib Mikati describes the powerful Hezbollah, whose backing was key to his nomination, as a “tumour,” in a 2008 US diplomatic cable revealed by a Lebanese daily on Tuesday.
The billionaire businessman, who was appointed premier in January, is quoted as telling US officials that the Iranian- and Syrian-backed militant party was a “tumor that must be removed”, according to the Arabic-language Al-Jumhuriya.
The newspaper was citing a WikiLeaks cable filed by the US embassy in Lebanon on January 12, 2008.
“Mikati, speaking as a ‘statesman’, argued Lebanon could not survive with a Hezbollah mini-state,” according to the cable.
“Regardless of his personal views on the group, Mikati said he was expecting Hezbollah to bring Lebanon to a ‘sad ending,'” it added.
“He assessed that Hezbollah was just like a tumour that, whether benign or malignant, must be removed.”
Mikati’s office released a statement saying the comments did not “reflect his convictions” and had political motives, without specifying.
“The prime minister will not get involved in debates with any party, especially over … words and positions that are in part untrue, in part inaccurate and most of which go back years,” read the statement.
Mikati’s criticism of Hezbollah surfaces at a sensitive time as he struggles to form a government amid bitter rivalry between opposing camps in Lebanon.
Hezbollah toppled the Western-backed government of caretaker premier Saad Hariri in January over his refusal to disavow a UN-backed court probing the 2005 assassination of his father, ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.
The Netherlands-based tribunal is expected to indict members of the Shiite group in the case.