Yesterday, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) MP Michel Aoun announced that he mediated between Hezbollah’s Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah, and the leader of the Future Movement (FM), former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, which coincided with the restoration of security and political channels of communication between Hezbollah and the FM.
Is Lebanon witnessing a new political scene based on a five-party alliance in the government that can manage a truce, which would in turn allow the election of a new president?
In 2005, the four-party alliance excluded the FPM which had won an unequivocal majority of the Christian vote in the parliamentary elections. The new alliance includes, in addition to Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, the FM, the FPM’s Change and Reform bloc, the Phalange Party and the Progressive Socialist Party. Based on the sectarian considerations governing Lebanese politics, the sectarian representation in this alliance appears to be complete. This five-party alliance seems to have become a reality, as an increasingly positive environment seeps out little by little.
Aoun announced yesterday that he mediated between Hezbollah and the FM, and specifically between Nasrallah and Hariri. In addition, a step was taken in the same direction yesterday, prior to Aoun’s announcement, when the head of Hezbollah’s Liaison and Coordination Unit, Wafiq Safa, visited the new Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi at his apartment in Achrafieh.
The official goal of the meeting was to offer congratulations to Rifi for his ministerial appointment, but the form the meeting took gives it additional significance. In addition to Rifi and Safa, the meeting was attended by the head of the Internal Security Force’s (ISF) Information Branch, Colonel Imad Othman and director of the ISF Operations Room, Colonel Hussam al-Tannoukhi.
According to political sources, Tannoukhi – who is on good terms with the leaders of both Hezbollah and the FM – arranged the meeting which relaunched the security and political communication back channels between the two sides. This back channel had maintained contact between both parties until Rifi’s retirement and the rising political tension between Hezbollah and the FM.
While at Rifi’s home, Safa called the new interior minister, Nohad al-Machnouk, and congratulated him on his new post. Political sources said that this “positive environment comes as a follow-up to the efforts that resulted in the formation of the new government and can be relied upon to carry the government through future political junctures such as the ministerial statement and the presidential elections.”
In a related matter, Aoun confirmed that he met both Hariri and Nasrallah, explaining: “Whoever wants to conduct mediation to bring disparate parties closer together has to talk to everyone, that is why I met both of them.”
When asked if his willingness to accept Rifi as interior minister during consultations on government formation angered Hezbollah, Aoun replied: “I was not present during the distribution of ministries and I am not the prime minister charged with assigning ministers to the various ministries. There was a difference of opinion between Hezbollah and the FM on this issue. To form the government, we suggested a kind of solution based on exchanging posts.”
Regarding concerns over the ministerial appointments of Machnouk and Rifi, especially since the Interior and Justice ministries could facilitate the work of terrorists and takfiris, Aoun argued “this issue is handled by the judiciary and the government as a whole and does not rely on the authority of one or two ministers.”
Akhbar Al-Yawm News Agency revealed that a family dinner was held Thursday evening at Aoun’s home in Rabieh and it included FPM minister Gibran Bassil and the director of the Future Movement’s presidential office, Nader Hariri. The obstacles that were still facing the formation of the government were overcome at this meeting.
In addition, information emerged in the past few days that Bassil traveled to Saudi Arabia last week where he met Saad Hariri.
Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other regional countries backing Syria’s rebels must acknowledge their failures to bring down the Syrian government, and join efforts for a political solution to end the two and a half year civil war, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday.
In his first televised speech in over a month, Nasrallah said dialogue is the only option to bring an end to a conflict that has already left over 100,000 people dead and threatened to exacerbate tensions across the region.
“I call on Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other Gulf states to revise your stance,” he said. “You won’t reach anywhere by relying on a military victory. Put this hatred (for Hezbollah) aside and think with your minds. Think about your interests, the interests of the region, the survival of the region.”
He condemned calls by some Lebanese politicians from the March 14 alliance for the United States to launch an attack on Syria, warning that any strike would cause global repercussions, and that Lebanon would be the first casualty.
Those same politicians calling for the West to intervene in Syria have accused Hezbollah of endangering Lebanon by sending troops to Syria, Nasrallah added, urging them to evaluate the consequences of a US attack across the border.
Nasrallah said that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries believed their support to rebel forces would lead an overthrow of the Syrian government within months, and are using Hezbollah as a scapegoat “to run away from their failures,” by accusing it of occupying Syria.
“For two and a half years, they used everything in their disposal … to control Syria and they failed. Of course [Hezbollah] are foreigners, we are not Syrian, but [what about] the tens of thousands of foreign fighters who you brought from all over the world? Are they occupying Syria?”
He noted that the Syrian government has expressed willingness to engage in dialogue with the opposition, and emphasized talks as the only suitable option to achieve peace.
Nasrallah also flatly denied accusations that his powerful Shia movement had obtained chemical arms from Syria, saying that he was principally and religiously forbidden from using such weapons.
- Text of Nasrallah’s September 23 speech Hezbollah chief… (yallasouriya.wordpress.com)
There has been an ongoing information war being fought for hearts and minds inside and outside of the Middle East. The war has mostly been tied to Syria. As the US and its allies begin to focus their attention on Hezbollah in Lebanon, the media war now includes the events in Lebanon. This, however, has not stopped the media attempts to depict the fighting in Syria in sectarian terms as a regional war between Shias and Sunnis or to demonize Syria’s allies…
In regards to Syria, the Israeli media, the Saudi media, and Lebanon’s Hariri-owned media — which belongs to Hezbollah’s US/Saudi-supported rivals — have all carried the same August 2013 AFP story or some derivative of it that deceitfully reports that Iran and Hezbollah are now running Syria. The Jerusalem Post, Arutz Sheva, the Daily Star, Ya Libnan, Al-Arabiya, the Saudi Gazette, Hürriyet, Naharnet, France 24, Fox News, and the Dubai-based Gulf News are examples of the type of media that carried this so-called news. Here is an extract of the text which sums up the entire image that the article is trying to engrain into the minds of its readers: “Assad ‘no longer runs Syria. The real rulers of Syria are the Iranian (elite) Revolutionary Guard… with the participation of Hezbollah fighters,’ Jarba said.” The entire report is built around a quote by Ahmad Al-Jarba, the leader of the foreign-controlled and funded Syrian National Coalition.
How the Mainstream Media Legitimizes Terrorism Against Lebanese Civilians
Next the same media outlets finessed the news about the terrorist bombs planted in Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahiyeh. The August 15, 2013 terrorist bombings in the neighbourhood of Al-Rouweiss (Al-Rweiss) were downplayed and, in a manner of speaking, legitimized by the media through their selective use of language. The attack on Al-Rouweiss come about a month after the July 9, 2013 terrorist attack on the neighbourhood of Bir Al-Abed. Both are densely populated neighbourhoods in Dahiyeh. The Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) in the United States took quick notice of the biased media framing. IPA asked the following, on August 16, 2013, through the title of report: “Why Isn’t Beirut Bombing Called ‘Terrorist’? What’s Behind It?”
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akbar is worth looking at to get a grasp of the biased media reporting that has been used to reframe the events as legitimate. It commented thus on August 17, 2013: “The Western media have double standards when it comes to ‘terrorism.’ Within hours after two bombs were detonated at the Boston Marathon last April, many in the media had christened it a ‘terrorist attack.’ Meanwhile, the August 15 bombing in Rouweiss that killed at least two dozen is a ‘blast’ that occurred in a ‘Hezbollah stronghold.’” As Al-Akhbar observes, the phrase “Hezbollah stronghold” plays a prominent role in giving the impression that the civilian neighbourhoods bombed in Beirut were armed barracks. Al-Akhbar even nicely sums up some of the biased titles used to describe the terrorist attacks:
Wall Street Journal: «Car Bomb Blasts Hezbollah Stronghold in Lebanon»
BBC: «Deadly Lebanon Blast in Beirut Stronghold of Hezbollah»
LA Times: «Massive Explosion in Beirut Rocks Hezbollah Stronghold»
Washington Post: «Bomb Explodes in Hezbollah Stronghold in Beirut, Injuring Dozens»
Reuters: «Over 50 Hurt as Car Bomb Hits Hezbollah Beirut Stronghold»
Associated Press: «Car Bomb Rocks Hezbollah Stronghold in Lebanon»
France24: «Car Bomb Rocks Hezbollah Stronghold in Beirut»
Mixed with the other narratives that the same media outlets are painting, the terrorist attacks are being tacitly portrayed as some type of legitimate retaliation. Readers are basically led to think that that the terrorist attacks in Dahiyeh were a military act against some type of Hezbollah base.
How the Mainstream Media Lies and Deliberately Places the Blame on Sunni Muslims
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, responded to the terrorist attack on Al-Rouweiss by categorically saying that the attacks were not the work of Sunni Muslims. He gave a speech saying that there were going to be those groups and individuals that would try to blame the terrorist attacks in Beirut on the Sunnis and said that these groups and individuals should be outright dismissed. In fact, he said that anyone that used this divisive logic was an “Israeli” and a partner in the goal of creating massacres. He made it clear that the individuals who planted the bomb did not represent the Sunni Muslims or the Arabs or the Syrians or the Palestinians. In a message to the US and its allies, he also said clearly stated that Hezbollah was aware that the intelligence services of the US and its allies had infiltrated various terrorist groups and manipulate them as tools.
Despite Nasrallah’s clarity, his words were totally changed by the same media outlets that were legitimizing the terrorist attacks in Beirut. The Israeli media, the state-run British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Al Jazeera, and Al Arabiya would blatantly fabricate the news and claim that Nasrallah “blamed the Sunnis” or try to manipulate readers into getting the impression that he did. The New York Times titled an August 16, 2003 article on the terrorist attacks as the following: “Hezbollah Makes Vow to Step Up Sunni Fight”. It never even mentioned that Nasrallah went out of his way to say that the people involved in the terrorist attacks were the tools of the US and Israeli government and not really Sunni Muslims. Instead Ben Hubbard focused on sectarianism in Lebanon and wrote: “In short, Hezbollah has more enemies than it used to have.”
The BBC wrote a similar article on August 16. It also used a grossly misleading title. The title being “Hezbollah blames Sunnis for bomb”. After a large number of people caught it, the BBC changed the title to “Beirut bomb: Hezbollah’s Nasrallah blames Sunni radicals”.
Exposing the Yellow Journalism at Work as a Tool of War
Aside from their direct or indirect links to these media outlets, even the political actors involved show that the way the news is reported is not isolated. Saad Hariri, the leader of the Future Party and a Saudi client, even responded to Hassan Nasrallah’s speech by saying that he had no right to designate what groups are terrorists. Hariri’s overlords in Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, refused to even condemn the terrorist attacks. This again is tied to the attempts to reframe the terrorist attacks in Beirut as a legitimate military act.
This type of yellow journalism that relies on misleading headlines that essentially say everything while the hollow articles carry and have little or no newsworthy material is not politically neutral. It is a weapon of war. All these articles are agitating for bloodletting in the Middle East, specifically between Shias and Sunnis. This type of journalism either directly or indirectly stokes the fires of sectarianism in Lebanon and the Middle East with the intentions of spreading sectarian animosity. This is why it deliberately ignores and refuses to even acknowledge the main points of Nasrallah’s speech that clearly pointed the finger at Israel and the US and said that the terrorist attacks had nothing to do with Sunni Muslims.
The extremism of Canada’s support for Israel just keeps growing.
The latest example is the Conservative government in Ottawa helping convince theEuropean Union to list Hizballah’s military wing as a “terrorist” organization. After that decision was taken, Foreign Minister John Baird declared, “We are thrilled that the European Union unanimously has agreed to designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization. We’ve been pushing for this.”
The National Post detailed Canada’s behind-the-scenes effort to get the EU to list Hizballah as a “terrorist” organization. Despite opposition from the Lebanese government, a foreign ministry official told the paper that this was “a clear priority that was set out by the minister.”
Canadian diplomats held bilateral talks with various European countries and also pushed for Hizballah to be listed at numerous multilateral meetings. At both a recent United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime meeting and a UN conference on radicalization in Europe, Canadian officials pressed key EU officials to define Hizballah as a “terrorist” group (“Canada pushed EU to add Hezbollah to list of banned terrorist organizations, official says,” 24 July 2013).
Canadian law enforcement and security officials were also part of the lobbying effort. Reportedly, they’ve been feeding their European counterparts information about the supposed threat Hizballah poses to both Canada and Europe.
The Conservatives push to get the EU to list Hizballah was given a boost when six Israelis were killed in Bulgaria in July last year. Within hours of the bus bombing, Israel claimed Hizballah was responsible, yet more than a year later it’s still unclear exactly who committed this crime.
With a Canadian passport holder allegedly implicated in the bombing, Ottawa jumped at the opportunity to get involved in the investigation. Presumably, Canadian investigators shared information with their Bulgarian counterparts designed to steer them towards the conclusion that Hizballah was responsible.
In response to the EU listing its military wing as a terrorist group the Hizballah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said: “Why don’t you classify the state of Israel as a terror state? Why don’t you classify Israel’s military wing … as a terror organization if you recognize Israel is occupying Arab lands and refuses to implement international decisions for decades now? The entire world bares witness to the massacres perpetrated by Israel” (“Nasrallah to EU: Why not brand IDF as terror group?,” Ynet, 24 July).
Nasrallah raises an important point that Canadian foreign affairs professionals must be familiar with. It’s a simple fact that Israeli forces have killed far more civilians than the military wing of Hizballah.
The Israeli military and its allies in Lebanon have killed thousands of civilians. In fact, Hizballah was created in large part to fight the Israeli occupation of that country. Israel has conducted scores of targeted assassinations in many countries across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Certainly, Canadian foreign affairs officials must remember Gerald Bull. This Canadian engineer and designer of the Iraqi “supergun” was, according to CBC journalist Linden MacIntyre, shot dead by Israel’s secret service Mossad outside his residence inBelgium in 1990 (“Murdered by the Mossad?”, CBC The Fifth Estate, 12 February 1991).
And what about members of the current Israeli government who support illegal settlers and the killing of dozens of Palestinian civilians?
But apparently none of this “terrorism” bothers Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government. The Conservatives are either ignorant or relish their hypocrisy.
Though they are allowed to support the Israeli military, Canadians can go to jail for sending money to a group operating a school or medical clinic in Lebanon “directly or indirectly” associated with Hizballah, which comprises an important part of the Lebanese governmental and social service structure.
Dozens of Canadian companies sell to the Israeli army and many groups with charitable status promote the Israeli military. The Canadian Jewish News is full of advertisements for such groups: “Express your Zionism by serving as a civilian volunteer on an Israeli army supply base,” reads one ad. Another advertiser, the Libi Fund, runs educational projects for the Israeli military.
Established in 1971 the Association for the Soldiers of Israel in Canada also provides financial and moral support to the Israeli military. A June 2009 Canadian Jewish Newsad promoting the group invited readers to “show your support for the brave youth of the IDF at our gala dinner.”
Prominent Toronto couple Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz, who own or control more than two thirds of Chapters/Indigo/Coles bookstores, created the Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers. Reisman and Schwartz provide up to $3 million per year for post-military scholarships to individuals without family in Israel who join the Israeli army. After completing their military service these non-Israeli “lone soldiers” gain access to this scholarship money.
For the Israeli high command (Heseg’s board has included a number of generals and a former head of Mossad) “lone soldiers” are of value beyond their military capacities. Foreigners volunteering to fight for Israel are a powerful symbol to reassure Israelis weary of Israel’s behavior. Schwartz and Reisman’s support for Heseg has spurred a campaign to boycott Chapters/Indigo/Coles, which controls 70 percent of Canada’s retail book trade.
The Harper government is plowing full steam ahead with its support for Israel. Double standards and morality be damned.
For 25 years now, Hezbollah has been engaged in a war with many powerful intelligence outfits from around the world. These intelligence agencies have devoted tremendous resources to collect information on the party, in addition to pursuing both its civilian and military activities, not to mention carrying out assassinations against its cadre and leadership.
Israel has played a key role in these efforts, but it is hardly alone. After the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005, Hezbollah was subjected to the most ferocious campaign against it, with former US ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman admitting before Congress that Washington spent $500 million to undermine the party’s image.
After the outbreak of the Syrian uprising and Hezbollah’s open declaration of its involvement in the country’s fighting, the campaign intensified, with mounting threats to the party and its supporters that they may be subjected to revenge attacks.
First, the Resistance’s Dahiyeh stronghold was shelled with rockets. Similar attacks followed on many towns and villages in Baalbeck and Hermel. These were followed by roadside bombs targeting Hezbollah members on the main Lebanese highway to Syria, culminating in the massive Bir al-Abed blast in the heart of Dahiyeh.
Hezbollah is in a state of high alert due to the fact that it has been forced to fight simultaneously on two fronts. This has prompted Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah to tell the party’s cadre that they must be prepared for attacks that may involve both Syrian and Lebanese groups, without dropping their guard against their main enemy – Israel.
On the eve of Hezbollah’s engagement in the battle of Qusayr, it initiated a plan that involved:
– a series of practical steps to prevent the killing of Lebanese civilians held by the Syrian opposition in the north of the country;
– securing areas that may become targets of reprisals, including the border areas, Beirut, and South Lebanon.
The question today is: Who thought up an adventure of this kind against the Resistance? I wonder whether they thought about the party’s reaction.
Who are these people? Are they groups within the Free Syrian Army or the Salafi al-Nusra Front? Are they jihadi elements in Lebanon active in the North and Bekaa? Could they be Palestinians who have abandoned their cause to work as agents serving another agenda?
Who is helping them inside Lebanon? What are the Internal Security Forces (who take orders from the Future Party) doing about it? They seem to care little about people’s safety and are mainly concerned with collecting information on the Resistance.
In any case, Hezbollah has surprised friend and foe on more than one occasion in their intelligence capabilities. So, will the Resistance surprise us again by revealing who is behind these attacks?
The European Union is paving the way for Israel to justify a war on Lebanon, Hezbollah’s general secretary said late Wednesday, two days after the 28 member states issued a decision to put Hezbollah’s military wing on its terror list.
“EU countries should know they are giving legal cover for Israel to launch any war on Lebanon because Israel can claim it is waging war on terrorists,” Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech at the annual iftar ceremony held by the Women’s Committee of Islamic Resistance Support Association of Hezbollah.
“These countries make themselves undeniable allies during any Israeli aggression on Lebanon, on the resistance and on any target for the resistance [in the country],” Nasrallah added.
The EU 28-member bloc agreed Monday to blacklist Hezbollah’s military organization as a terrorist group following years of relentless US and Israeli pressure.
The EU cited accusations that the powerful Lebanese Shia movement was behind a bus bombing in Bulgaria last year which killed five Israelis and their driver, as well as the party’s involvement in the Syrian conflict.
Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the Bulgaria bombing.
Last month a new socialist-led Bulgarian government backed away from the claims of the previous administration, saying that the EU could not justify blacklisting Hezbollah solely based on the little evidence produced to implicate it in the crime.
“It is important that the (EU) decision be based not only on the bombing … because I think the evidence we have is not explicit,” Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin had told national state radio BNR.
Nasrallah noted that the EU’s official statement will be issued within days and the party will see then what is to be discussed.
He also posed the question to the EU of why the union hadn’t considered placing Israel’s army on its terror list.
“[The EU] repeatedly admits that Israel occupies Arab land but hasn’t implemented international resolutions for ten years. The whole world has witnessed the Israeli massacres,” he said.
Nasrallah advised the member states to reconsider the decision, stating that it is doomed to fail and that “the decision wasn’t worth the ink it was written with.”
The EU’s blacklisting of Hezbollah’s military wing is merely the result of external pressure and interests, he said, instead of being based on values and principles. He added that the effect of the decision is nothing but psychological.
“In this country, resistance fighters fought the Israeli occupation, endured a lot of pressure and sacrificed martyrs. Then you come to those who are the sons of these people and say they are terrorists. This is abuse to fighters, to their people and to their successive governments,” Nasrallah stated.
“This decision aims at making us bow, at forcing us to step back and be afraid. But, I tell you that all you will get is failure and frustration,” he said, adding that anyone who thinks the resistance will be undermined by the decision is either “ignorant or delusional.”
The General Secretary hinted jokingly at having members of Hezbollah’s military wing in Lebanon’s new government, assuring viewers that the resistance has gained credibility among people in Lebanon and the Arab and Muslim world.
“The most important thing for the Lebanese resistance is to get the support of its people and to express their will, pride and view in defending their land and their sovereignty,” he said.
“The Resistance will remain and will be victorious by God’s will,” Nasrallah concluded.
Mainstream media fail to mention that key anti-government forces in Syria swore to kill all the Shiite Muslims and to march straight into Lebanon after Syria.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary-general, announced his party’s entry into the Syrian conflict on May 25, 2013. The Syrian National Coalition immediately denounced Hezbollah while the US Department of State reacted to Nasrallah’s announcement on May 29 by demanding an immediate withdrawal of Hezbollah’s fighters from Syria. The rubber stamp Arab League would eventually, and very predictability, condemn Hezbollah’s entry into the Syrian conflict, whereas it has ignored the involvement of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and their allies.
Qusayr, situated on the road between Damascus and the Mediterranean coastline of Syria in the northwestern portion of the Syrian Governate of Homs, would become a central focus of Hezbollah’s involvement inside Syria. After the victory in Qusayr, the war hawk Charles Krauthammer would embarrassingly proclaim that the US was hesitating too much while Russia and Iran were taking charge of the situation in Syria with Hezbollah.
The US had not hesitated in reality, but had failed to topple the government in Damascus. Most probably prompted by the pressure of their Saudi and Qatari paymasters, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government would react to the victory in Qusayr by cutting its ties with Syria, calling for a no-fly zone, and attacking Hezbollah for its involvement in the Syrian conflict. As an indicator of the failure of its regime change project, the Obama Administration would leak to the press that it was considering a no-fly zone too. Ironically, Egypt’s President Morsi and many of the same people that criticize Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia for their involvement in Syria refuse to criticize Turkish, Saudi, Qatari, British, French, Jordanian, Israeli, and American involvement.
Hezbollah is also a Target of the Syrian Conflict
Undoubtedly Hezbollah did discuss its intentions to enter the Syrian conflict with its patrons in Tehran and coordinated with Iran and then, to a lesser extent, with Russia through Iranian officials and through consultations with Aleksandr Zasypkin, Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, and then Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov during his April 2013 visit to Beirut. The involvement of Hezbollah in Syria, however, is purely defensive. Moreover, Hezbollah is one of the last external players to be involved in Syria.
It is the same type of reports that constantly claim there is a substantial Iranian military presence in Syria, but can never manage to give solid proof or any form of confirmation about their claims, that are the ones that simplistically de-contextualize Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria. For example, rockets were launched into Dahiyeh, the working class southern suburb of Beirut that is the political stronghold of Hezbollah in Lebanon’s capital district, and the town of Hermel, in Bekaa, hours after Nasrallah announced his party would enter the Syrian conflict.
Most reports about this failed to recognize the nature of the rocket attacks. The rocket strikes were more than a mere warning from the anti-government forces inside Syria, in fact they were part of a steady stream of escalation that deliberately aimed at expanding the war into Lebanon and spreading the fires of sedition. Attacks were being conducted in areas inhabited by Hezbollah supporters much earlier and before Hezbollah even intervened in Syria. Whether it is done intentionally or unintentionally, this type of reporting conceals the fact that Hezbollah intervened in Syria mainly to protect itself and Lebanon’s diverse population, and it fails to identify who the real perpetrators of the violence are. The mainstream media in places like the US and UK also fails to mention that key divisions of the anti-government forces inside Syria have sworn to kill all the Shiite Muslims they get their hands on, and to march straight into Lebanon after Syria.
From the beginning of the Syrian conflict Hezbollah agreed that the Syrian people should have the democratic freedoms that Hezbollah itself enjoys in Lebanon and it has agreed that Syria is in need of political reforms. Its entry into the Syrian conflict is aimed at preventing the takfiri death squads that have amassed in Syria from marching against Lebanon and committing the same type of crimes in the towns and homes of the Lebanese people they have been committing against the Syrian people. Because the takfiris have announced that they will purge the Levant of the Shiite Muslims and all others that they do not accept, the conflict was unavoidable. Rather than wait, Hezbollah chose to act in a war that the anti-government forces in Syria deliberately initiated against Hezbollah through a stream of assaults on the Shiites living on the Lebanese-Syrian border. As a preview of what is in store for the Shiites, after their defeat in Qusayr, the anti-government militias marched into Hatla and massacred many of its residents, including old people and young children who all had their throats slit. One video of the massacre titled “The storming and cleansing of Hatla” surfaced with the man filming it stating that all the Shia Muslims would suffer the same fate. What happened in Hatla, including stories about vicious rapes and mutilations, has only strengthened the support in Lebanon for Hezbollah’s intervention.
Hezbollah is protecting Lebanon and the Levant’s minority groups
On July 14, Nasrallah went on Lebanese television to say that Hezbollah was fighting to defend both the people of Lebanon and Syria from the abominations of “an American, Israeli and takfiri project to destroy not only Syria but the entire region.” Speaking on Al-Manar, he told his supporters and allies that the entire world had gone to Syria to fight in one way or another using their money or shipping weapons or through media warfare. It was only natural for Hezbollah as one of the main targets of the war to get involved. He added that the Lebanese government had unfortunately failed to protect the 30,000 Lebanese Christians and Muslims that have been attacked by the Syrian anti-government forces on their borders. Hezbollah acted to protect them.
Nasrallah’s sentiments are widely shared inside and outside Lebanon. According to Mohsen Saleh, a professor of political philosophy at the Lebanese University and an expert on Hezbollah, the threat of “takfirism” is now working to terminate all diversity in the region in league with Israel and the US. The Muslim Brotherhood is tied to this project too, but “it is now collapsing and in a state of decay” according to Saleh. “The Brotherhood came into power a hundred years too late,” he told me. While visiting him at his office, he explained that all of Lebanon’s different communities are afraid of the takfiris as they have witnessed their crimes in Syria. This is why the Maronite Catholic Church and the multitude of Christian denominations in Lebanon are increasingly standing behind Hezbollah. He confidently said that all of Lebanon’s different sects will improve their relations with Hezbollah due to the mutual threat they all face. When I asked Saleh about Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate, who is linked to Hezbollah’s rivals in Lebanon, he pointed out that Tamman Saeb Salam is not a puppet. In a discreet gesture of support distinguishing him from the Hariri camp, Tamman has said that Hezbollah will remain a resistance group no matter what happens due to its intervention in Syria.
The Druze community, which is the Lebanese group that is the most vulnerable to a takfiri attack in the country, is reconsidering its relationship with Hezbollah. The Druze community is also unhappy about the statements of Walid Jumblatt, its prime chieftain, which have been supportive of anti-government activities in Syria. Trying to please his Saudi paymaster in Riyadh, Jumblatt has gone as far as to say that he personally supports the Saudi-backed Jubhat Al-Nusra. Well aware of the dangers to their community, the Druze of Syria have shunned Jumblatt and continued to support the Syrian government.
Russian officials have also supported Hezbollah’s stance, Moscow views Hezbollah’s position as one that aims to protect the different people of Lebanon and Syria. Moscow does not want the takfiri brigades to enter the North Caucasus or to attack any of its sister-republics and allies in Central Asia. As opposed to the United States and its allies, Russian foreign policy in the Middle East openly promotes diversity and the protection of Christians and minority groups.
Unlike Hezbollah, the US Does Not Give a Damn about Arab Christians
Dr. Naji Hayek, a Lebanese Christian, sums it all up by stating: “Hezbollah is fighting for us, for me!” He made the statement after we watched Michel Aoun live on Orange TV declaring that he supported Hezbollah after fighting erupted in the Lebanese city of Sidon. If the takfiris make inroads into Lebanon, he assured me that he would pick up his gun and fight too. Hayek, a surgeon, a professor at the Lebanese American University, and an advisor to Michel Aoun—the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, the largest Christian political party in Lebanon—helped draft the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act and used to submit intelligence reports about Syrian activities in Lebanon to the US Senate. He was once a member of Lebanon’s National Liberal Party and a close friend of Samir Geagea, the Christian warlord extraordinaire allied to the US and Saudi Arabia. Hayek was even injured while fighting against the Syrians for Michel Aoun.
Things have changed since then and new alliances have formed. Syria is an enemy no longer and Samir Geagea is no longer a friend. Hayek told me bitterly that the US has never hesitated to manipulate and then drop the Christians in Lebanon. He even showed me a heated email exchange between him and Jeffrey Feltman, while Feltman was serving as a US assistant-secretary in the US State Department, where Feltman in reference to Hezbollah accused the Free Patriotic Movement of being aligned with “evil.” In retrospect, Hayek realizes that the US had different motives when the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act was drafted. Furiously, he talked about “the twenty-five year old kids working at the Lebanon Desk in the [US] State Department with [Bachelor of Arts] in history” that are disconnected from reality in the Middle East which he has had to deal with.
“I am not a fan of Bashar Al-Assad, but I support him one hundred percent, because the alternative in Syria is an extremist government,” Hayek emphasized. Should the Syrian government fall, Hayek’s fear was that the corrupt Hariri family and the March 14 Alliance would invite a Muslim Brotherhood government in Damascus to invade and occupy Lebanon. As a key interlocutor between Michel Aoun and the United States, he explained to me that the Hariri family had no problem with the Syrian presence in Lebanon and in fact they were opposed to a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon and would obstruct his work in the United States. He explained that the reason for this was that the Hariris used the Syrian military to enforce their hegemony in Lebanon. “Hariri corrupted the Syrians,” he explained. The Hariri clan would bribe all the high ranking Syrian officers in Lebanon by paying them millions of dollars. The problems between the Hariris and Syria began when Bashar Al-Assad wanted to put an end to corruption in Syria and refused to let the Hariris continue with their game.
Relations between the Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus and the Lebanese Resistance had already reached a high-level of coordination and mutual support even before the outbreak of the Syrian crisis. At the time, the two allies tended to respect each others’ boundaries, recognizing each other’s key roles in the region.
The onset of the Syrian crisis only served to further intertwine their interests as both became targets of the Syrian opposition and their regional and international backers.
In the early stages of the uprising, Hezbollah tried to play the role of mediator, seeking ways to open up channels between the regime and the opposition. But quickly, developments – like Israel’s growing involvement in the crisis – prompted a qualitative change in the relationship between Damascus and the Lebanese Resistance.
Assad’s response to the latest Israeli attacks on Damascus would have not meant much if it did not also have the strong support of Hezbollah, Iran, and even Russia – with the Resistance openly declaring its willingness to take part in any effort to ward off Tel Aviv’s threats.
This could lead Hezbollah’s Lebanese opponents to exploit mounting sectarian tensions, particularly in Sidon and Tripoli, in order to turn up the pressure on the Resistance and its popular base.
Although Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah justified in detail his party’s involvement in Syria, he did not mention – for his own reasons – that the role of the Resistance in Syria’s internal front is not without its limits, and largely depends on the course of events there.
The party has already declared that one of its goals is to push those forces that pose a threat to the Resistance away from Syrian areas adjacent to the Lebanese border. However, when it comes to confrontation with Israel, we can expect an increased and ongoing role for Hezbollah, particularly in the occupied Golan Heights.
Price of Involvement
As for the price that Hezbollah is likely to pay for its involvement, the two rockets that struck southern Beirut on Sunday morning are but a sign that there are those preparing for a campaign of terror against the Resistance.
It is difficult to foresee the trajectory of events after Nasrallah’s call to arms alongside the Syrian regime, but early signs suggest that the coming period will be one of heightened tensions among Lebanon’s political forces, particularly as the dream of toppling Assad is slowly fading away.
This could lead Hezbollah’s Lebanese opponents to exploit mounting sectarian tensions, particularly in Sidon and Tripoli, in order to turn up the pressure on the Resistance and its popular base.
The concern here is that the country’s internal security services have shown themselves to be completely ineffective in diffusing Tripoli’s interminable sectarian violence. So what if it is discovered that the Future Movement, and those powers behind them, hold sway over the state’s internal security forces.
Finally, I invite everyone to take a different approach to the crisis facing our region: To the extent that the Americans, Europeans, and those Arabs in their service succeed in reviving the colonial legacy of division and warfare among the Arabs, this will automatically raise the question of different kind of unity for the other side, which could lead to surprising results that no one could have expected.
Let us dream and hope!
Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.
Hezbollah’ Secretary General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah told his cadres in a private gathering that the Islamist group “has changed” and that the group’s ultimate priority is to “protect Lebanon”, a source reported to Al-Akhbar.
“Hezbollah has changed and its priorities have changed based on circumstances,” Nasrallah said.
“There was a time when we used to see Lebanon as a colonial construct that was part of the Ummah,” he added. “That was in our early days, and the country was going through a civil war. All parties were calling for a nation that fit their liking.”
“Today conditions have changed. We believe that this country is our country, and that the flag of the cedar is our flag that we need to protect, too. At this stage, our priority is to protect the state in Lebanon and to build it.”
The remarks appear to fly in the face of accusations by Hezbollah’s opponents that the group is a proxy of Iran, functioning as a “state within a state.”
“What I am telling you isn’t mere rhetoric. We are convinced of this and must work to apply it,” Nasrallah said at the close of his remarks.
Hezbollah launched into the Lebanese political scene during Israel’s brutal invasion of Beirut in 1982 as a hodgepodge of Islamist groups supported by Iran.
In 1985, the groups coalesced under a single party with a manifesto that declared its loyalty to be to the Islamic Ummah, and Iran’s supreme leader rulings to be a source of the group’s bylaws.
The 1985 manifesto also mentions “the obliteration of Israel” as one of its primary goals.
This is not the first time Hezbollah rescinds Ummah-related sections of the manifesto. In 2010, an updated group charter identified Lebanon as the party’s “homeland and the homeland of our fathers and ancestors.”
“We want Lebanon to be sovereign, free, independent, strong and capable … it should be mentioned that one of the most important conditions for the establishment of a home of this type is having a fair state, a state which is capable and strong, as well as a political system that truly represents the will of the people and their aspirations for justice, freedom and security, stability and well-being and dignity,” the charter went on to say.
The chief counterterrorism adviser to the US President Barack Obama is putting pressure on the European Union to label the Lebanon resistance movement Hezbollah as a “terror group”.
John O. Brennan on Friday criticized the European for its failure to join the United States in designating the Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Brennan also said that Iran and Syria should be punished for supporting Hezbollah.
On July 24, The European Union flatly rejected an Israeli call to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist group, despite being under pressure from the US.
The EU regards Hezbollah as an active political party in Lebanon. It says there is not enough evidence to warrant listing the Lebanese group as a “terror group” like the United States.
Led by France, Europeans countries argue that their relations with Lebanon, where Hezbollah provides extensive social services and its political wing holds government power, would be damaged by the designation.
Currently, among the 27-EU member states, only the UK and Netherlands are in favor of adding Hezbollah to the EU list of terror which would freeze the group’s Europe-held financial assets.
The renewed pressure from the US comes only weeks after Hezbollah Secretary-General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah confirmed that the Lebanese resistance movement had sent a drone into the Israeli airspace.
The aircraft crossed hundreds of kilometers above the sea and entered the occupied territories from southern Palestine and flew over several Israeli strategic sites without being detected by Israeli Air Force’s radars, he said.
Security analysts say the incident indicates that the Israeli military is incapable of handling a surprise attack despite the numerous military maneuvers regularly conducted by the regime.
- Will EU do Israel’s Bidding on Hezbollah? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- UK Calls to Add Hezbollah’s Resistance to EU’s Terror Watch List (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Hezbollah confirms sending drone into Israeli airspace (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The IDF shot down a Hezbollah-piloted drone over the northern Negev desert earlier this month after it possibly captured images of secret Israeli military sites. Earlier, Tel Aviv praised the IDF for its rapid response to the security breach.
The drone was launched from Lebanon and crossed into Israeli airspace on October 6, and stayed airborne for three hours before being intercepted, the Sunday Times reported.
Sources in the region claimed that the unmanned aircraft traveled more than 300 kilometers, and transmitted pictures of preparations for Israel’s joint military exercise with the US, the newspaper said. The aircraft also reportedly spotted ballistic missiles, airfields and likely the nuclear reactor in Dimona.
The British newspaper said that the first missile an Israeli F-16 fighter jet shot at the done missed its target. After the incident, Israeli leadership praised the country’s air forces for their “sharp and effective” response to the violation of the country’s airspace.
The drone is the new Iranian Shahed-129, operated by Iranian Revolutionary Guard technicians with the help of the Hezbollah, the report said.
Earlier, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah took credit for the aerial infiltration, saying that the aircraft was designed by Iran and assembled in Lebanon.
He said the drone was deployed in response to what he called Israel’s repeated violations of Lebanese airspace since 2006. He identified the Dimona reactor as the mission’s main target.
“This flight was not our first will not be our last, and we give assurances we can reach any point we want. We have the right to dispatch recon planes over occupied Palestine at any time,” Nasrallah said.
- Hezbollah confirms sending drone into Israeli airspace (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Hezbollah Secretary-General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah confirms the Lebanese resistance movement has sent a drone deep into the Israeli airspace evading radar systems.
The operation code-named Hussein Ayub saw Hezbollah’s drone fly hundreds of kilometers into the Israeli airspace and getting very close to Dimona nuclear plant without being detected by advanced Israeli and US radars, Nasrallah said during a televised speech late on Thursday.
“This is only part of our capabilities,” he stressed, adding that Israelis have admitted to their security failure despite being provided with the latest technologies by Western powers.
Hezbollah secretary-general stated that Hezbollah’s drones are made in Iran but assembled by the resistance movement.
Hezbollah plans to send more drones over Israel in the future, he added, adding that the operation shows the resistance movement is ready to defend Lebanon.
The resistance leader further dismissed Western accusations of Hezbollah’s intervention in the Syrian unrest, describing the allegation as “sheer lie.”
“Hezbollah has not fought alongside Syrian forces…. It is not true that Hezbollah is going to take some land from Syria,” Nasrallah stated.
Hezbollah’s leader also rejected allegations that Abu Abbas was the movement’s commander in Syria, and condemned insurgents in Syria for threatening Lebanon.
“Threatening Hezbollah is of no use,” he emphasized.