On Monday 10th, 2022, more than 200 Lebanese personalities gathered in Beirut for the launch of the National Council to End the Iranian Occupation in Lebanon (original name in Arabic المجلس الوطني لرفع الاحتلال الإيراني – al-majlis al-watani li raf’a al-Ihtilal al-Irani). According to the former Lebanese member of the Parliament Fares Antoun Souaid, the Council aims to find a solution to the Lebanese crisis resulting from Iran’s occupation of Lebanon represented in the country by Hezbollah.
The Council, according to its founding statement, comprises parties, individuals, opinion leaders, youth, intellectuals, expatriates and politicians, provided “full commitment to the principles, and based on the preamble to the constitution, which stipulates the finality of the Lebanese entity and its Arabness.” According to its founders, the Council’s goal is to break free of Hezbollah’s armed hegemony over a country that has always posed a threat to Lebanese sovereignty.
The launch of the Council gathered about 30 personalities in Beirut and 165 Lebanese from the Diaspora who participated through an electronic conference. Around 200 people discussed the foundations and program of the Council and chose the former member of the Parliament, Ahmad Fatfat, as Chairman of the Council for a transitional period until the internal system, and open elections are held.
The Maronite Lebanese politician Fares Antoun Souaid said in a statement to the media agency Asharq Al-Awsat that:
“The council’s launch from Beirut aims to lift the Iranian occupation because we consider that the national crisis in which Lebanon is floundering in terms of economic, political, living, financial and diplomatic, is due to Iran’s occupation of Lebanon and its control, through Hezbollah’s weapon, on the state-building process…the arms under the command of Iran abolished the Republic and the institutions that became unable as a result of its paralysis to solve the problems of the Lebanese.”
Fares Antoun Souaid explained that the newly formed Council does not deny that corruption and mismanagement are severe problems in Lebanese politics, although the current priority is to liberate the country from the Iranian grip and Tehran’s influence exercised through Hezbollah’s arms.
The Council includes Lebanese political, economic, human rights, and media figures, including former ministers Ahmad Fatfat, Mouin Al-Morabi and Hassan Mneimneh, lawyer Ghassan Mogagab, economist Tawfiq Gaspar, political activist Roderick Nofal, activists and academics Ruba Kabbara, Lina Tanir, jurist Edmond Rabat and others.
It is unclear how effective the group can be in reducing Iranian influence. Most experts believe that the disarmament of Hezbollah can only happen if there is an international and Arab step, which is currently outside the political sphere. On May 15th, 2022, Lebanon will host the parliamentary elections after a long period of economic and political crisis.