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.
Free Patriotic movement leader, Michel Aoun addressed Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, saying his party was with the resistance on the same path.
In an interview with al-Manar TV, General Aoun said his party would not abandon resistance, saying it has been part of the movement’s being.
“We can’t stand against a part of our people who have been sacrificing and dying for the sake of our country, land and people.”
Asked whether the General rued his position in regard to Hezbollah, Aoun told the al-Manar correspondent: “Never… you should not ask me such a question.”
Asked for his position toward resistance in case of an Israeli attack on Lebanon, Aoun stressed that the FPM would support the resistance.
“We will take the same position and behavior. We will be as eager as we were in July War in 2006 in supporting the resistance because it’s part of our being.
Addressing Sayyed Nasrallah, Aoun affirmed that the FPM and Hezbollah were in the same path.
“To Sayyed Nasrallah I say we are in the same path until securing victory at the end.”
Concerning the equation of people-army-resistance, the FPM leader said there were attempts to dismantle this equation, stressing that any occupied land, however small it was, had dignity.
“The attempt to dismantle the equation of people-army-resistance is an offensive one, which aims at subjecting our country to an International political equation, in a bid to threaten its entity in the future,” Aoun told al-Manar correspondent during the interview.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Wednesday accused the US and Israel of using legitimate grievances in Syria as an excuse to destroy the country and the resistance to Israel’s control over the Middle East.
Speaking after the death of three senior Syrian politicians in a bomb attack on Wednesday morning, Nasrallah hailed the men and warned that Syria risked destruction if it slid further into civil war.
“(The West and Israel) took advantage of the legitimate demands of the Syrian people…they put Syria into a war, they forbade negotiations,” he said.
“What is required (by the US) in Syria is to divide it, to destroy it, to rip it apart just like Iraq,” he said, referring to the chaos left behind after 10 years of US occupation in Iraq.
Nasrallah said that Israel had been concerned by Syria’s increased military capabilities and had sought to sow discontent in the country.
“They looked at Syria and saw over the past years… first of all a new military strategy began in Syria,” he said, adding that before the uprising the country was “a real military power that (was) capable of presenting a real military threat to Israel.”
Speaking on the sixth anniversary of the 2006 war with Israel, in which the Jewish state suffered defeat at the hands of Hezbollah, Nasrallah said Hezbollah’s victory had increased concern about Syrian strength.
“There is only one army left that is not connected with the Americans. Its the Syrian army. Since the July (2006) war they have been working on destroying this army,” he said.
Nasrallah also confirmed that the “most important” weapons used against Israel in the war were supplied by Syria.
“Syria is a real supporter of the resistance… on the military level as well,” he said. “The most important missiles that landed in occupied Palestine were manufactured or made in Syria.”
Call for calm
Referring to Lebanon Nasrallah called for calm in the country which has seen an upturn in violence in recent months, much of it related to the Syrian crisis.
“I call for calm and patience. You have heard a lot of curses and you will hear a lot of curses in the future,” he said.
“This doesn’t concern only the Sunnis and the Shia… amongst all sects there are some who are trying to rip apart our community.”
The Shia leader also urged all sects in the country to move away from provocative language, calling for a new document dealing with sectarianism.
Under the new rules, he said, “if a Shia person, whether he be a politician or a religious person, if he says anything offensive then we, the Shia, will stand against him. Same goes for the Sunnis, the Druze and the Christians.”
“Can we go ahead and adopt such a document in Lebanon?”
He also backed the current government to continue despite ongoing tensions between rival factions, saying such debate was healthy.
“In the government we have disagreements… but there are positives as it shows it is a coalition government, not a government of Hezbollah,” he said.
- Who’s Holding The Captured Lebanese? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Two of 11 Lebanese abducted in Syria to be released: captors (dailystar.com.lb)
Conflicting reports dominated the story of the Lebanese pilgrims that were captured in Syria near the Turkish border. The event has transcended the captors and the abductees to become a foreign policy priority for many countries involved in the Middle Eastern crises.
The sequence of events surrounding the abduction of the Lebanese pilgrims last Tuesday in the vicinity of Aleppo, Syria goes as follows.
Lebanese Shia returning from a visit to religious sites in Iran were kidnapped by Syrian Sunnis fighting a regime that they view as allied to the hostages. The news reached Lebanon, which was seething with Syria-related tensions, from the “wars” in its north to the “conquests” of the Tariq al-Jdideh and Caracas neighborhoods of Beirut. Nothing could have been better designed to inflame passions and get the sectarian genie out of its bottle.
Shia in the southern suburbs of Beirut, South Lebanon and the Bekaa, took to and blocked streets, as Sunnis in the North, Beirut and the Bekaa had done the previous week. Some Syrian-owned shops in the suburbs were attacked, and some angry youths nabbed Syrian workers. Things could have developed further with tit-for-tat kidnappings or worse.
So the long-awaited Sunni-Shia fitna (strife) had finally arrived. The heat was turned up further by news from Iraq. The bombing of a busload of Lebanese Shia pilgrims killed three and injuring two.
This need not necessarily be what the kidnappers planned to begin with. But opportunities can be seized when they present themselves.
However, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah succeeded in averting an explosion. Shia supporters of Hezbollah and Amal heeded his call to come off the streets, as he promised to work on resolving the issue. Tempers cooled off a little, enabling a flurry of domestic and regional political contacts to be held.
Turkish intelligence then identified the location of the Lebanese pilgrims and their captors. The Turkish foreign ministry was informed that they “have the abductees.” Turkish chief diplomat Ahmet Davutoglu, eager for his country to regain the role of regional mediator, quickly made that public.
All of Lebanon – including its rival political camps – proceeded to voice its satisfaction, having earlier condemned the abduction. The country was swept by a wave of optimism and “love”. Al-Manar conveyed the greetings of the people of the southern suburbs to Sheikh Saad Hariri and their gratitude for his efforts, and Nasrallah did the same in his Bint Jbeil speech. Future Movement MPs strutted and swaggered on the resistance’s TV channel. Things looked like they were heading for a happier ending than the Lebanese could have hoped for.
Then something unexpected, and still unexplained, happened. The hostages were “lost” somewhere on the way between where they were being held in Syria and Adana airport in Turkey.
Informed sources offer two possible explanations for this.
The first is that the Turkish foreign ministry was over-hasty in announcing the release of the hostages. Davutoglu informed his Lebanese interlocutors that they “have the abducteees,” and that he expected them to be freed on Saturday night. But in intelligence parlance, “we have them” does not necessarily mean “they are in our custody,” especially given the profusion of armed Syrian opposition factions on the ground.
Davutoglu almost certainly spoke after the hostages had arrived at a point in Syria close to the Turkish border. There, something happened which held up the entire exercise, severely embarrassing the government in Ankara. Claims made about the hostages’ fate on various websites appeared implausible as Turkey had continued to reiterate the hostages’ well-being. Official Lebanese sources also told Al-Akhbar that “the hostages are all fine.”
The other explanation also relates to over-haste, but differently. After announcing the end of the affair, Ankara came under pressure from the US and Qatar. Why, they protested, should Nasrallah be given another victory and credibility boost? According to the sources, they saw it better to drag things out for a few days longer to make more use of the issue that could serve their interests on many levels.
First, it would help with eroding grassroots confidence in the Hezbollah leader. Nasrallah could also be blamed for any harm that may befall the hostages, after he included Bashar Assad in the list of people he thanked in his Bint Jbeil speech. One could refer in this regard to statements made yesterday by Syrian National Council (SNC) head Burhan Ghalioun and Syrian Liberal Party chief Ibrahim al-Zoabi.
Also, public anger would put an end to the recent easing of tensions in Lebanon, and keep the spotlight focused on the Shia masses – whose expressions of anger have hitherto been controlled – and away from the Salafi uprising in the north, the Tariq al-Jdideh incident, the accompanying emergence of armed manifestations, and all the talk of al-Qaeda sleeper cells and others in the process of waking up.
Following the same logic, a prolonged period of anxiety about the issue would cause a rift between the resistance’s mass base and both its leadership and the Syrians. When public anger and outrage boil over, Syrians cease to be “our dear brothers and guests living among us.” It is within this charged atmosphere that local officials in some areas with Shia majorities have been advising Syrian residents to take precautions for their safety.
Finally, the “national unity” displayed by Lebanese political rivals over the affair and their contacts with each other seemed to be establishing a basis which could be built on, amid renewed calls for national dialogue. That would relieve – and possibly refloat – Lebanon’s current government, with its policy of dissociation from developments in Syria, and lead to a general easing of tensions over developments there. That would not be to the advantage of the international campaign against the Syrian regime, in which Lebanon now has a pivotal role.
The facts remain unclear, and contacts are continuing to be held. Pending further developments, the Shia political leadership in Lebanon is acting with caution. Every effort is being made on the ground to contain the possible fallout, depending on how the affair concludes – especially if a decision has been taken somewhere to make things worse.
- Nasrallah calls for restraint after Syria kidnapping (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah has denounced the abduction of 13 Lebanese citizens by Syrian armed militants but also called for restraint and a measured response.
On Tuesday, Nasrallah said it is the duty of the Lebanese government to ensure that the abducted people are able to return home safely.
“We will work day and night until those beloved are back with us… The Lebanese state and government have a responsibility to work toward the release of those kidnapped,” he added.
Commenting on the situation and the recent violence in Lebanon, he asked the Lebanese people to exercise self-restraint and said that nobody should resort to violence.
“I call on everyone to show restraint… It is not acceptable for anyone to block roads or carry out violent acts,” Nasrallah added.
Anti-Syrian government armed militants kidnapped the 13 Lebanese people near the Syrian town of Aazaz, which is on the border with Turkey. The Lebanese were returning to Lebanon after visiting Shia shrines in Iran.
The armed militants reportedly hijacked their bus, then kidnapped the men and released the women.
There is no more information about the whereabouts of the abductees.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011. While the West and the Syrian opposition say the government is responsible for the killings, Damascus blames “outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest and insists that it is being orchestrated from abroad.
… In response to some people who threatened to kidnap Syrian nationals in Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah said that this act of revenge is forbidden and that the Syrian nationals are “our brothers, and nobody should make such unacceptable act personally.” …
Abbas Shoaib, Hassan Mahmoud, Hussein al-Siblani, Ali Abbas, Abu Ali Saleh, Mahdi Ballout, Hussein Arzouni, Hussein Omar, Mustafa Yassine, Mohammad Monzer, Awad Ibrahim, Ali al-Ahmar, Ali Zgheib, Rabih Zgheib, Ali Termos and Ali Safa.
Hezbollah Secretary-General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah has accused some Arab countries of stirring up trouble in Syria by blocking a political solution to the unrest in the country.
Nasrallah said on Friday that certain Arab countries are arming and funding terrorist groups fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and prevent the opposition from entering into negotiations with the government.
The Hezbollah chief also accused those countries of sending fighters into Syria to fuel unrest in the country.
He also said that the US and the West do not want to send troops to Syria and instead they are trying to spark racial, tribal and sectarian confrontations in the country.
Head of Hezbollah resistance movement also accused the US and the West of adopting hypocritical approaches regarding protest movements in the Middle East region. Nasrallah said while the US and its allies describe dialogue as the only way to end protests in Bahrain, they all oppose political solution and support violence when it comes to Syria.
He also said that the US and Israel want to destroy the Middle East by dividing its people and spreading chaos.
Nasrallah has repeatedly said that the US and its allies oppose reforms in Syria and that they seek to ignite a civil war in the country.
- Nasrallah Calls for Unconditional Dialogue in Syria (altahrir.wordpress.com)
Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah said his party was not involved in recent bombings that took place in India, Georgia, and Thailand earlier this month, while reiterating the party’s intention to avenge the killing of its leader Imad Mughniyeh four years ago.
“It is insulting for Hezbollah to avenge its great leader by killing ordinary Israelis, as for those who are our target, they know who they are and they are taking measures and I tell them to remain doing so for we shall avenge Imad Mughniyeh in an honorable way,” Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah was speaking during a televised speech Thursday evening to commemorate the martyrdom of three of the party’s top leaders, Ragheb Harb, Imad Mughniyeh, and Abbas al-Mousawi, at the hands of Israel. Nasrallah reiterated the continued arming of the resistance and repeated his call to pull out from public use personally owned arms.
Commenting on the Arab revolutions, Nasrallah criticized what he termed as “the interference of [Lebanon's] March 14 and their sending of weapons and bolstering of fighting among the Syrian people,” reminding the rival political group of their objection to Hezbollah’s support of Bahraini protestors and material aid to resistance in Palestine via Egypt.
Nasrallah cautioned against discord in Egypt and pointed fingers at the US and Israel for fomenting it, saying that Israeli officials are living in a state of anxiety due to its dwindling power.
He also lamented that “Arab peoples and governments are not occupied with Palestine” while Palestinians, including prisoners on hunger strike, and Bahrainis, are left to their own devices.
In relation to Syria, Nasrallah said the regime has its shortcomings as acknowledged he says by its leadership but that “it has stood in the face of the US-Israeli project and supported resistance.” While the regime did not open up a front in Golan, none of its detractors, Nasrallah argued, has opened such a front or supported the resistance.
Nasrallah criticized the total refusal to engage with dialogue with the Syrian regime and opt for a political solution in Syria by the same people who call for negotiations with Israel and have engaged with it for decades. He leveled similar criticism against those who bar the supply of weapons to Israel while sending weapons to Syria so the “Syrians fight each other.”
Nasrallah wondered why there is “a Western-Israeli-Arab insistence to fight in Syria and topple the regime” suggesting it is cause for political reflection.
- Iran Falsely Charged with India and Georgia Attacks (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Nasrallah Calls for Unconditional Dialogue in Syria (altahrir.wordpress.com)