BEIRUT — Hezbollah's show of military force last Sunday demonstrates that the party sees itself as "above the sovereignty of the Lebanese state," opposition, independent and Forces of Change MPs said during a press conference Friday in Parliament.
“Hezbollah sent a number of messages to Lebanon and the international community through its military exercises... Hezbollah wanted to make the Lebanese, Arabs and the world understand that its sovereignty is above the sovereignty of the Lebanese state,” the statement, which ran in the state-run National News Agency, accused.
The collective of 31 MPs consisted of 20 Lebanese Forces (LF) members, four MPs from the Renewal Bloc headed by Michel Moawad, four Kataeb MPs and three Forces of Change MPs.
Hezbollah conducted a military demonstration on Sunday near Mlita, South Lebanon, to an audience of local and international media. The event came ahead of Resistance and Liberation Day celebrated on May 25, which commemorates the 2000 withdrawal of Israeli troops from South Lebanon.
During the exercises, Hezbollah showed off its artillery mortars and drones, and its fighters paraded on all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles. Fighters simulated hand-to-hand combat, while some of the exercises were conducted "with live ammunition."
Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech Thursday that the display of military power was part of a "policy of deterrence that is bearing fruit."
“The lives, present and future, of the Lebanese are hostages to [Hezbollah's] project," the 31 MPs said at their press conference Friday.
"The order of the state in Lebanon, from the election of a president to the reconfiguration of the executive authority, are hostages to this ever-present weapon of imposing power over the rest of the Lebanese, stopping any attempt to create any political balance with it and its national allies,” they added.
“The party tells us through the military maneuver that this weapon protects the corrupt and disrupts the institutions, including the government and Parliament, and prevents reform ... what Hezbollah carried out in its military parade completely contradicts the concept of the state with all its criteria. Hezbollah has become shunned by the Lebanese people."
The MPs also called for the implementation of UN Resolution 1559, which calls for respect to Lebanese sovereignty and territorial integrity, and UN Resolution 1701, which prohibits all armed militias from operating anywhere in all of Lebanon.
They concluded by calling for the dismantling of the “parallel economy that Hezbollah built through smuggling via legal and illegal crossings, encouraging tax evasion and protecting corruption.”