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Hezbollah’s deputy chief blames Beirut port blast investigation judge and “those behind him” for cabinet deadlock

Hezbollah’s deputy chief blames Beirut port blast investigation judge and “those behind him” for cabinet deadlock

Hezbollah's deputy leader Naim Qassem on Saturday renewed his party's criticism of Investigating Judge Tarek Bitar. (Credit: AFP)

BEIRUT — Hezbollah deputy secretary-general Naim Qassem on Saturday renewed his party’s criticism of the judge investigating the 2020 Beirut port explosion, blaming Tarek Bitar and “those behind him” for the cabinet deadlock.

Here’s what we know:

    • In a speech commemorating the Prophet Mohammad’s daughter Fatimah, Qassem said that “Bitar and those who support him are directly responsible for the blocking of constitutional institutions and the work of Parliament.”

    • His comments were an implicit reference to the failure of the cabinet to meet since Oct. 12 due to divisions over Bitar’s investigation. Hezbollah and Amal have said they will boycott the government until the judge investigating the Beirut port explosion was removed from the case.

    • Qassem said that Bitar has “caused confusion in the judiciary,” and said that Parliament must handle the trial of ministers, a reference to the investigating judge’s charges against former ministers Nouhad Machnouk, Ghazi Zeaiter and Ali Hassan Khalil.

    • Opponents of Bitar’s investigation have called for Parliament to move the investigating judge’s prosecution of former ministers to the Supreme Court, a rarely used body to try presidents and ministers.

    • Qassem also said that “clients of the US embassy and NGOs that follow the orders of the US embassy …. are contributing to the US siege of Lebanon,” an implicit criticism of civil society and activist groups that Hezbollah and its affiliated media often accuse as working for Washington D.C.  


BEIRUT — Hezbollah deputy secretary-general Naim Qassem on Saturday renewed his party’s criticism of the judge investigating the 2020 Beirut port explosion, blaming Tarek Bitar and “those behind him” for the cabinet deadlock.Here’s what we know:    • In a speech commemorating the Prophet Mohammad’s daughter Fatimah, Qassem said that “Bitar and those who support him are...