Haaretz Columnists Propose Genocide In Lebanon, Promote Right of ‘Artists’ To Rape Young Girls ‘For Their Art’
Haaretz’s original headline for an article by Amitai Etzioni, a noted Israeli-American academic.
SEATTLE — Haaretz is famed in many circles as Israel’s leading liberal newspaper. In 2011, the New Yorker’s managing editor, David Remnick, deemed it “easily the most liberal newspaper in Israel and arguably the most important liberal institution in a country that has moved inexorably to the right in the past decade.”
The newspaper is part of an Israeli journalistic dynasty founded in the 1930s by Gershom Schocken, a Jewish-German immigrant. His son, Amos, is now publisher. Remnick had these glowing things to say about Amos:
“He is … a singular force in Israeli journalism on issues such as free speech, equal rights for Israeli Arabs, the independence of the Supreme Court, and the exposure of military abuse.”
However, analysis of two recent opinion columns published by Israel’s “most important liberal institution” reveals another side to the story.
Distinguished Israeli-American academic calls for annihilation of Lebanon
Amitai Etzioni, a noted Israeli-American academic, published an alarming piece last month arguing that Israel should not endanger its own troops, who he claimed would be expected to identify and dismantle many of Hezbollah’s 100,000 rockets before they could be fired. Rather, Israel should use a devastating weapons system that would save Israeli lives while annihilating large swaths of territory in which Lebanese civilians live.
Etzioni, 87, is the University Professor at George Washington University, where he serves as director of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, a think tank. The noted sociologist is best known for his advocacy of communitarianism, an academic theory which, in some ways, is a perfect distillation of Israeli attitudes toward individual rights. Etzioni argues that while such rights are important, they must be carefully calibrated so they don’t interfere with the interests of society as a whole. This is precisely the way in which the Israeli national security state persuades citizens that protecting their security is a greater good that justifies sacrificing the interests of the individual.
Etzioni’s Haaretz op-ed was originally titled, “Should Israel Flatten Beirut to Destroy Hezbollah’s Missiles?” That title has been significantly softened to tone down the genocidal content of the piece itself; it now reads: “Should Israel Consider Using Devastating Weapons Against Hezbollah Missiles?”
From this brief excerpt, perhaps you can judge for yourselves which title is more accurate and why it was changed:
“I asked two American military officers what other options Israel has. They both pointed to Fuel-Air Explosives [FAE]. These are bombs that disperse an aerosol cloud of fuel which is ignited by a detonator, producing massive explosions. The resulting rapidly expanding wave flattens all buildings within a considerable range.
Such weapons obviously would be used only after the population was given a chance to evacuate the area. Still, as we saw in Gaza, there are going to be civilian casualties.”
Etzioni vastly understates the lethality of what are otherwise known as FAEs or thermobaric weapons. The Guardian quotes a clinical description of their impact from the Marine Corps Gazette :
“Thermobaric, or ‘fuel-air’ weapons … form a cloud of volatile gases or finely powdered explosives. ‘This cloud is then ignited and the subsequent fireball sears the surrounding area while consuming the oxygen in this area. The lack of oxygen creates an enormous overpressure. … Personnel under the cloud are literally crushed to death. Outside the cloud area, the blast wave travels at some 3,000 meters per second. … As a result, a fuel-air explosive can have the effect of a tactical nuclear weapon without residual radiation. … Those personnel caught directly under the aerosol cloud will die from the flame or overpressure. For those on the periphery of the strike, the injuries can be severe. Burns, broken bones, contusions from flying debris and blindness may result. Further, the crushing injuries from the overpressure can create air embolism within blood vessels, concussions, multiple internal hemorrhages in the liver and spleen, collapsed lungs, rupture of the eardrums and displacement of the eyes from their sockets.’”
Russia used FAEs in Chechnya, and the United States employed them in Fallujah. Some experts on the laws of war have declared the use of FAEs a war crime. In 1992, Michael Ratner, founder of the Center for Constitutional Rights and one of the world’s leading legal experts on these matters, noted that FAEs violate international law:
“The use of asphyxiating gases is prohibited. The U.S. violated this by its use of fuel-air explosive bombs on Iraqi frontline troops; these bombs are terror bombs which can burn the oxygen over a surface of one or two square kilometers, destroying human life by asphyxiation.”
He further noted that FAEs are “outlawed by the Hague and Geneva Conventions, which prohibit the use of weapons causing unnecessary harm to combatants.”
It should’ve been clear to Haaretz editors that they were publishing an op-ed that not only urged Israel to commit war crimes in the next Lebanon war, but that these weapons would also open Israel to charges of genocide given the extraordinarily high death toll that would ensue.
The Israeli Defense Forces itself has developed a similar military strategy for its attacks against Hezbollah. The Dahiya Doctrine, developed by Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who would go on to become chief of staff of the IDF, argued that Israel must wreak maximum damage on the civilian neighborhoods of Beirut in which Hezbollah was based. Such devastation would force the Islamist group to pay a maximum price for its attacks on Israel, he asserted. This is precisely what happened during the 2006 Lebanon war, when the Shiite neighborhood of Dahiya, in which Hezbollah’s leadership took refuge, was reduced to rubble. Over 1,000 Lebanese civilians were killed in that conflict.
The strategy appears to have had little deterrent effect. Hezbollah now possesses more than double the rockets it did in 2006 and poses an even fiercer threat to Israeli targets when the next war breaks out.
Etzioni’s claim that FAEs would be used only after civilians were warned to evacuate the target area is pure sophistry. Civilians in war zones have no shelter or refuge. There is nowhere they can go to escape the military onslaught. This has been proven repeatedly both in Gaza and Lebanon.
Israel makes no attempt on the battlefield to provide sites where civilians may shelter safely. It has repeatedly attacked locations such as U.N. schools, killing massive numbers of civilians. In Lebanon, it has attacked convoys of civilians fleeing combat zones and U.N. facilities where civilians have taken refuge. Faced with such a dilemma, many civilians would prefer to take their chances and remain in their homes.
Further, Israel’s attempts at “warning” civilians are feeble at best: The IDF sends targeted communities SMS messages and drops fliers from airplanes warning them to flee. How does a frightened resident whose cellphone battery has died or who is too frightened to venture out of his or her home learn about Israeli orders to flee?
The most cruel and calculating portion of Etzioni’s essay is his call for Israel to recruit pro-Israel “experts” to join war games in which they would be called upon to use these diabolical weapons:
“ … The time to raise this issue is long before Israel may be forced to use FAEs. One way this can be achieved is by inviting foreign military experts and public intellectuals, who are not known to be hostile to Israel, to participate in war games in which they would be charged with fashioning a response to massive missile attacks on Israeli high rise buildings, schools, hospitals, and air bases.
In this way, one hopes, that there be a greater understanding, if not outright acceptance, of the use of these powerful weapons, given that nothing else will do.”
This would supposedly condition the world for future Israeli use of FAEs. Etzioni is essentially calling for pre-approval of war crimes. These enablers would be offering Israel a kind of “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for genocide.
Etzioni: Falsification of historical memory and Nakba denial
Amitai Etzioni has long served as a mouthpiece for the whitewashing of Israel’s moral sins. In March 2014, he wrote an op-ed in the Daily Forward in which he attempted to recount the history of the village where his family settled after fleeing Germany in 1935 and arriving in pre-state Israel:
“In 1935, as Nazi influence grew, my family escaped, joining four other families of the same background to form a new settlement in Palestine in 1936. They named it Kfar Shmaryahu (it’s next to Herzliya). The five families… cleared the rocks, drilled a water well, paved a road before erecting a bunch of modest homes and farming the land. All this was done on previously unoccupied land — land that was lying fallow next to an Arab village called Sidney Alley. …
The relationship between my parents’ village and Sidney Alley varied over the years, ranging from comfortable to tense. However, as far as I recall, no shots were fired, and most assuredly, no one was driven off land or out of a home. Those who lived unmolested in Sidney Alley until 1948 left at that point. We were told that they took with them keys to our homes that they somehow acquired, and had agreed among themselves who will get which of our homes after the seven Arab militaries that attacked the weak and newborn Israel defeated it. I never saw any evidence that supports this tale, but I know firsthand that no Israeli forces drove out the people of Sidney Alley.”
Soon after Etzioni’s account was published, Maher Mughrabi, a Palestinian-Australian foreign news editor for the Australian Age, exposed how woefully inadequate Etzioni’s account and his memory are. In a Letter to the Editor of the Forward, which he also shared with me via email, he wrote:
“Etzioni recalls the neighbouring village’s name as ‘Sidney Alley.’ This surely must strike anyone with an ear for Arab idiom as improbable. … However, if you think a bit about what this place might be called in Arabic, it turns out the mosque is of Sidna (or Sayyidna, meaning ‘our lord’) Ali. And it turns out that if you are not Etzioni, you can remember a history of displacement from this place.”
The mosque of the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of Sidna
Further, the Palestinians of Sidna Ali were indeed driven from their homes not just by “shots fired” but by cold-blooded murder.
Zochrot, an Israeli NGO dedicated to memorializing Palestinian villages destroyed in the Nakba, offers a fuller account of the events leading to the tragedy of Sidna Ali. A family in the village owned a dairy and orchard on its outskirts. Their Jewish tenant invited Lehi militants to train on the farm. Someone appears to have reported this to British authorities, who then raided the farm, resulting in the killing of four Jewish militants and a commander.
Villagers of Sidna Ali drawing water from communal well (source: Palestine Remembered)
To exact revenge, Lehi returned to Sidna Ali, captured five family members, lined them up against a wall and executed them. The killers deliberately permitted a few members of the family to flee so they could spread the word of the massacre among the Palestinian population. At that point, many remaining villagers saw the handwriting on the wall and fled in terror (this was in the period before the war and ensuring mass expulsions had happened). Those who did not flee were forced to flee later by menacing gunfire sprayed by Jewish forces.
You can see that one of America’s towering academic figures leaves much to be desired when recounting Israeli history. If he wrote as sloppily in his own field as he does on these subjects, he would be labelled a fraud. But instead, the pages of Israel’s leading liberal newspaper are opened wide for him to call for mass murder against Lebanese civilians.
One has to wonder how a newspaper editor decides a contribution from Etzioni about Hezbollah is even relevant. He is not a philosopher of war or ethicist like Asa Kasher or Princeton’s Michael Walzer. He is not an expert on military strategy or Israeli Defense Forces affairs. What is Etzioni’s expertise on the subject?
And even if he had expertise, how does one justify publishing an op-ed calling for genocide? It would appear that Haaretz has, in some fundamental way, gone off the rails.
Haaretz literary editor approves of rape in pursuit of artistic ‘excellence’
This becomes even more clear in the second example of a woefully misguided piece published by Haaretz. In 2013, a popular Israeli entertainer, Eyal Golan, was investigated for allegedly raping teenage girls. His father was later convicted of pimping girls to his cronies, though no charges were ever brought against Golan. In response to an Israeli TV interviewer excoriating him last month for his dissolute personal life, he responded that he made no claim to be a moral exemplar or, as he put it, “the Pope.” On the other hand, and paradoxically, he called himself a “moral man.”
Eyal Golan enjoying the lush life with female admirer
On March 5, Benny Ziffer, the newspaper’s literary editor, responded to a particularly pugnacious recent Israeli TV interview with Golan by a noted female program host. Ziffer’s column launched a crusade not just to redeem Golan’s reputation, but to claim that it is the right of all artists to engage in antisocial behavior (like raping young girls) as long as they do so for their art. Further, he claims that societies which persecute such creative souls are suppressing freedom of expression and the artistic impulse (my translation is from the Hebrew piece):
“Cultured nations know that in order for art to exist and creativity to flourish, artists must enjoy moral privileges and freedoms not available to others. Even tyrants harboring no tolerance for individual freedom understand that artists must be permitted to live a Bohemian existence; and that this is part of the unwritten agreement between a society and its artists, who are offered extensive latitude under ethical norms which permit wild behavior, especially in the sexual realm.
Artists from Goethe to Eyal Golan hover intoxicatedly in the air above the heights of artistry and creativity. They must feel most intensely those things that are considered the basest sexual urges in life, like intercourse with young female admirers. Without this, there would be no creativity, despite all the pain this is liable to cause these young women, whose lives may have been damaged.”
The journalistic crime committed here is rendered even more severe by the fact that the author is neither freelancer nor columnist, but senior editorial staff.
Again, one must wonder what Ziffer’s editor was thinking when he or she approved such journalistic trash for publication. Besides the claims in this passage being pure intellectual bunkum (since when did Goethe ever justify raping young girls in order to delve deeper into his artistic impulses?), did no one at the paper stop to consider the backlash that would stem from this rape apologia?
Haaretz readers have started a petition (Hebrew) calling for the firing of Ziffer. It’s doubtful this will have any impact on Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken, whose approach to criticism is to dismiss it with hurt indignation.
I can attest to this personally. In 2012, the newspaper published an expose about Israeli museums which did not offer Arabic-language inscriptions for exhibits, as required under a law guaranteeing multi-lingual accessibility for publicly-funded cultural institutions. I wrote to the reporter, asking why Haaretz itself never published in Arabic. I argued that doing so would offer a pioneering statement from the nation’s leading liberal daily about the critical importance of embracing the Arabic-speaking Palestinian minority. I suggested, to that end, Haaretz consider publishing an Arabic-language supplement.
Instead of a response from the reporter, Schocken himself replied disdainfully that if I thought such a project was so important that I should find him funding to support it. It was a response, doubtless to say, I found disingenuous, as it wasn’t my job to secure investments in his newspaper.
The following year, Haaretz published its first article in Arabic, an editorial urging Palestinians to “get out and vote.” Ironically, many members of the Palestinian minority do not vote precisely because the institutions of the Jewish majority (like Haaretz ) are largely closed to them. Generally they enjoy second or third-class rights within society, thanks in part to the patronizing approach of elite Ashkenazi Jewish institutions like it.
Haaretz refuses to publish Ziffer’s column in English edition
It should come as no surprise that Ziffer’s op-ed was not translated into English or published in the paper’s English edition. The editors there perhaps had a better understanding of their own readers and determined there was no need to inflame them. But in truth, this is a form of self-censorship. If you want to publish misogynist trash, why only publish it in Hebrew? Why not proclaim proudly to the rest of the English-speaking world what your journalistic values are?
If, as David Remnick argues, Haaretz is the best of Israeli journalism, what does that tell us about Israeli society in general and its Fourth Estate in particular? It tells us that the weight of being a garrison nation in a state of perpetual war has corroded whatever liberal values Haaretz may have once championed. It tells that no matter how much higher are the standards Haaretz upholds than those of their competitors, they are indelibly stained by historical sins of the their society.
Breaking: Managing editor cancels Ziffer’s weekly column
When reached for comment on this story, Aluf Benn, the newspaper’s managing editor, declined, but he did allude to a major forthcoming development.
Shortly thereafter, on Wednesday, Israeli business news site Globes reported than Benn had decided to cancel Ziffer’s weekly column in response to the March 5 piece.
In his final column, published on Wednesday, Ziffer apologized for what he wrote. He added, oddly, that it was all part of a twisted game he played on behalf of his audience:
“I entered into the role of provocateur [Author’s Note: literally, “playful devil”], and the game was good and yielded rewards. The audience was enthusiastic and begged for more and more columns in which I played the the game of provocateur. I reaped success. Together with the intoxication of success, this blurred within me the boundaries between the game and reality.”
Haaretz later published Ziffer’s apology in its English edition. But without the context of the original article (published only in Hebrew), readers of the English edition have no idea what “monstrosity” Ziffer is apologizing for. And that’s probably the way Haaretz’s editors prefer it. Rather than being fully transparent, it has the effect of further concealing the original offense.
Still, Ziffer remains as literary editor of the paper. He will also continue writing other articles for the paper. Presumably, Benn believes that by giving Ziffer a lower profile and “disappearing” his byline, readers — especially female readers — will be able to forget this disaster. In the past heyday of Israeli macho behavior, perhaps Haaretz could’ve gotten away with this. But can you imagine the Washington Post or New York Times in this day and age permitting its literary editor to write such swill and not firing him? The very thought seems preposterous.
“AL decision to adopt the Gulf Cooperation Council is rightful and represents a positive shift,” Israeli daily, Maariv quoted Livni as saying.
Livni meanwhile, called for concluding an alliance between Israel and “moderate Muslim countries” including Gulf states and some Arab countries which blacklisted Hezbollah, the Israeli paper said.
On the other hand, the Israeli politician called for preventing Hezbollah from taking part in the parliamentary elections in Lebanon, according to Maariv.
“Livni also urged not to make distinction between Hezbollah and ISIL,” the daily added referring to the Takfiri group operating in Iraq and Syria (so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Levant).
One day, my son, all this will be yours
With a series of blatant measures, Saudi Arabia and its regional allies are evidently trying to destabilize Lebanon. The development is apiece with how Saudi Arabia and Turkey have both sought to undermine the ceasefire in Syria and to escalate that conflict to a region-wide level.
A New York Times report this week poses a rather naive conundrum: «Diplomats and analysts have spent several weeks trying to understand why the Saudis would precipitously start penalizing Lebanon – and perhaps their own Lebanese allies – over the powerful influence of Hezbollah, which is nothing new».
Well, here’s a quick answer: Russia’s very effective squelching of the covert war for regime-change in Syria. That has sent Saudi Arabia and Turkey into a paroxysm of rage.
Russia’s military intervention in Syria to defend the Arab state from a foreign-backed covert war involving myriad terrorist proxy groups, has dealt a severe blow to the machinations of Washington, its NATO allies and regional client states.
While Washington and its Western partners seem resigned to pursue regime change by an alternative political track, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are stuck in the covert-war groove. They are betting that the terrorist proxy armies they have weaponized can somehow be salvaged from withering losses inflicted by Russian airpower in combination with the ground forces of the Syrian Arab Army, Iranian military advisors and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia.
Hence, the immediate breaches of the cessation called a week ago by Washington and Moscow in Syria. Turkish military shelling across the border into northern Syria is not just a breach. It is an outrageous provocation to Syrian sovereignty, as Moscow has pointed out.
Simultaneous Saudi military mobilization, including Turkish forces, on its northeast border with Iraq, as well as the reported deployment of Saudi fighter jets to Turkey’s Incirlik airbase opposite Syria’s northwest Latakia province can also be viewed as calculated moves to undermine the tentative ceasefire. The logical conclusion of this reckless aggression by both Saudi Arabia and Turkey is to precipitate a wider conflict, one which would draw in the US and Russia into open warfare.
The series of Saudi-led initiatives towards Lebanon should be interpreted in this context. In the past week, Saudi Arabia and its closely aligned Sunni monarchies in the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The word «anachronistic» comes to mind, belying an ulterior motive.
The Saudi rulers, led by King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, also announced that they were canceling plans to grant Lebanon $4 billion in aid. Most of the aid was to be in form of military grants, to be spent on upgrading the Lebanese national army with French weaponry and equipment.
Without providing any proof, the GCC states – Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman in addition to Saudi Arabia – issued travel warnings to their nationals intending to visit Lebanon. The GCC also claimed that Hezbollah was interfering in their internal affairs and trying to recruit Gulf nationals into the organization to fight in Syria. The GCC has even threatened to deport Lebanese expatriate workers, some half a million of which work in the Gulf.
There were also regional media reports last week of a large cache of weapons having been seized by Greek authorities, stowed illicitly onboard a cargo ship sailing from Turkey to Lebanon.
The cumulative intent seems patent. The Saudis and their regional allies – who have been pushing for regime change for the past five years against the Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah-allied government of President Bashar al-Assad – see the escalation of regional instability as the best way to salvage their covert war in Syria.
Washington, London and Paris probably have sufficient cynical intelligence to realize that the covert war involving terrorist proxies is no longer a viable option – given the formidable forces arrayed in support of the Syrian state, not least Russian air power.
The Saudis and the Turkish regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan appear to be inflexibly wedded to the covert war agenda. For these powers anything less than the outright removal of Assad would be seen as a grave blow to their despotic egos and, for them, an unbearable boost to their regional rival, Shia-dominated Iran.
The GCC criminalization of Shia-affiliated Hezbollah is obviously a fit of revenge-seeking given how the militia has ably helped the Syrian army retake major areas from the regime-change Sunni extremist insurgents, in conjunction with the Russian air strikes. The steady shutting down of border crossings in Latakia, Idlib and Aleppo has cut-off the terror brigades from their weapons supply routes via Turkey. This is partly why the Erdogan regime has responded by cross-border shelling in order to give re-supply efforts a modicum of artillery cover.
Moreover, the Saudi-led campaign to sanction Hezbollah is also aimed at destabilizing the sectarian fault lines inside Lebanon. Hezbollah may be denigrated by Washington and some other Western states as a «terrorist group» and of presiding over «a state within a state» due to its military wing which exists alongside the Lebanese national army.
Nevertheless, Hezbollah has constitutionally recognized legitimacy within Lebanon. This is partly due to the militia’s primary role in driving out the US-backed Israeli military occupation of the country in 2000 and again in 2006. For many Lebanese people, including Christians and Sunni Muslims, Hezbollah is held with pride as an honorable resistance force to US-led imperialism in the region.
The party – which Russia also recognizes as a legitimate national resistance movement – comprises about 10 per cent of the Lebanese parliament and holds two cabinet positions in the coalition Beirut government.
So the Saudi-led proposal to sanction Hezbollah seems nothing more than a gratuitous bid to open up sectarian fissures that have cleaved Lebanon in the recent past during its 1975-1990 civil war. The provocation of labeling a member of government in a foreign state as «terrorist» – seemingly out of the blue – has to be seen as a tendentious bid to destabilize. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah this week condemned the Saudi bid to inflame sedition in Lebanon, and it is hard to disagree with that assessment.
There are still pockets of extremist Sunni support within Lebanon that the Saudis and Turkey appear to be trying to incite. During the Syrian conflict, there have been sporadic outbreaks of violence in the cities of Sidon and Tripoli by Salafist elements with close links to Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Now those same elements are being incited to take to the streets again.
It is not clear if Lebanon can hold together. A government minister linked to a pro-Saudi faction has resigned in recent weeks over what he claims is «Hezbollah domination» in Lebanese politics.
Many Lebanese are discontented over social and economic problems dogging the country. A refuse-collection backlog over the past year has left large parts of the capital overflowing with putrid waste. The tiny country of four million is also feeling the strain of accommodating some one million Syrian refugees.
The thought of re-opening old wounds and re-igniting the horror of civil war is a heavy burden on most Lebanese citizens that may be enough to make them baulk at malign pressures.
But what can be said for sure is that the role of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the other Arab monarchies is absolutely unconscionable and criminal. They seem fully prepared to plunge yet another neighboring country into a sectarian bloodbath in order to gratify their illicit regional ambitions.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, says the Arab member states of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC), which recently listed the resistance group as terrorists, do not have the interests of Lebanon in mind.
During a live televised speech on Sunday, Nasrallah said those who assume that the Arab regimes will protect Lebanon have “pinned their hopes on a fantasy.”
Had Lebanon waited for a unified Arab strategy in the face of Israel instead of opting to resist against the occupying regime, “then the fate of this territory would have been the same as the fate of the territories Israel has taken control of,” he said.
On Wednesday, the six-nation Arab bloc issued a statement labeling Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The [P]GCC comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
“Many of these Arab countries today, who designate us as terrorists, what do they have to do with this resistance and these victories and these achievements?” Nasrallah said.
Israel unleashed an all-out offensive on Lebanon 10 years ago under the pretext of releasing Israeli soldiers allegedly captured by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. The invasion claimed the lives of nearly 1,200 Lebanese people, most of them civilians.
The Tel Aviv regime was, however, forced to retreat without achieving any of its objectives after Hezbollah fighters displayed heavy resistance against the Israeli military.
“Back then, we said to them (the Arab countries) ‘we don’t want anything from you… Today, we also say to them, to these regimes, ‘We don’t want anything from you. We don’t want money, nor do we want weapons, nor do we want support or blessing,” he said. “Just leave this resistance alone, leave this country alone, and leave this people alone.”
He blamed some Arab regimes for conspiring against anyone standing against Israel.
Nasrallah also underlined the assistance provided by the resistance group to the Iraqi government in its fight against the Takfiri terror group Daesh and reminded that Hezbollah did not wait for any orders to initiate its anti-terror fight in Syria and only fulfilled its religious commitment.
The secretary general of Hezbollah also addressed the tension that has been bubbling up between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, causing the former to take a raft of hostile measures against the latter.
“If it’s angry with us, it has the right to. I understand Saudi Arabia’s anger. Why? Because when one fails, at the very least he will be angry,” Nasrallah said.
He went on to explain that the Saudi rage has emanated from the kingdom’s failures in Yemen and Syria.
“In Syria, there’s a very great Saudi anger because what they had calculated in Syria [was that] in two or three months, ‘Syria would fall into our hands,’” Nasrallah said.
Hezbollah has been successfully aiding the Syrian military against foreign-backed militant groups.
“He, who confronts Saudi Arabia in Syria is the real defender of the Lebanese national interests,” Nasrallah said.
“The same goes for Yemen. The estimations of the new Saudi leadership was that ‘we will decide the battle in Yemen. We will teach a lesson to all the Arab countries and the Arab world… and we will impose ourselves on the Arab world,’” he said.
Saudi Arabia launched a campaign of military aggression against Yemen in late March last year in a bid to bring fugitive former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a Riyadh ally, back to power and undermine Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.
Riyadh has, however, failed in accomplishing either of the two objectives, and has become entangled in a prolonged expensive war, whose adverse economic impacts—along with economic mismanagement—have gradually been giving rise to domestic discontent inside Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia will take delivery of French-manufactured arms originally ordered for the Lebanese army, following Riyadh’s recent decision to retract USD four billion in military aid to Beirut.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced the plan on Saturday during a visit to France.
Last month, the Saudi regime said it had suspended USD three billion in military assistance to the Lebanese military and another USD one billion to the country’s internal security forces.
The aid was cut after Lebanon refrained from endorsing Saudi-crafted statements against Iran at separate meetings held in Cairo and Jeddah.
The move also followed victories by the Syrian army, which is backed by fighters of Lebanon’s resistance movement of Hezbollah, in its battle against Takfiri terrorists battling to topple the government in Damascus.
“We made the decision that we will stop the USD three billion from going to the Lebanese military and instead they will be re-diverted to the Saudi military,” Jubeir told journalists in Paris, adding, “So the contracts (with France) will be completed but the clients will be the Saudi military.”
The aid is vital as the Lebanese army is fighting Takfiri militants from the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and Daesh near the country’s northeastern border with Syria.
France’s arms delivery to Saudi Arabia comes amid Riyadh’s ongoing military aggression against Yemen and its support for militant groups in Syria.
Several European countries including Germany, Britain and France have been engaged in major arms deals with the Saudi regime, turning a blind eye to calls by rights groups to cancel the agreements.
Back in February, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for the imposition of an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, and urging EU member states to stop selling weapons to Riyadh as it is accused of targeting civilians in Yemen.
According to a recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Saudi Arabia’s imports for 2011-15 increased by 275 percent compared with 2006–10. The British government has licensed USD 7.8 billion in sales of arms, fighter jets and other military hardware to Riyadh since Prime Minister David Cameron came to power in 2010. France also signed USD-12-billion contracts with Saudi Arabia in 2015 alone.
Yemen has been under military attacks by Saudi Arabia since late March 2015. More than 8,300 people, among them 2,236 children, have been killed. The strikes have taken a heavy toll on the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools and factories.
The US government has been urged to impose economic sanctions on any company doing business with the private Iranian airline Mahan Air, four US senators wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Mahan Air for its support for terrorism and funneling of weapons to Hezbollah and to the government of President Bashar Assad in Syria, yet the airline continues to operate with a network of partners throughout Europe, the senators pointed out.
“Mahan Air continues to operate and even expand its international business network… It is time to impose sanctions now on companies aiding Mahan Air,” Senators Kelly Ayotte, Chris Coons, Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal wrote in the letter on Friday.
“We urge you to immediately identify to us all known entities engaged in commercial transactions with Mahan Air and take action now to sanction those companies, including freezing all assets of those entities found under US jurisdiction,” the lawmakers said.
Mahan Air flies to and from Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy, as well as Persian Gulf Arab allied nations. The airline has recently introduced new flights to Russia, the senators added.
The Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf have declared Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, which has been fighting terrorist groups in Syria and Israeli occupation, a “terrorist group.”
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council officially added Hezbollah and all groups affiliated to its so-called list of “terrorist” organizations on Wednesday.
In a statement, GCC’s Secretary General Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayan accused Hezbollah and associated groups of committing “acts of aggression”, recruiting “youth” inside the Persian Gulf littoral states, smuggling “weapons and explosives”, sowing “sedition” and instigating “chaos and violence.”
The bloc, however, did not provide any evidence for its allegations.
The GCC comprises Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait.
The move by the six-member bloc is the latest measure against Hezbollah, which is fighting terrorists in Syria.
In 2000 and 2006, when Israel launched two wars on Lebanon, Hezbollah fighters gave befitting responses to the Tel Aviv regime’s acts of aggression, forcing Israeli military to retreat without achieving any of its objectives.
The GCC have taken a series of measures against Hezbollah since Saudi Arabia last month halted a $4- billion aid pledge to Lebanon’s security forces.
The aid suspension came after Beirut did not follow Riyadh’s lead and refused to endorse joint anti-Iran statements at separate meetings held in Cairo and Jeddah.
On February 26, Saudi Arabia blacklisted four Lebanese firms and three individuals over alleged affiliation to Hezbollah, and imposed sanctions on them. The kingdom also ordered its citizens not to travel to Lebanon, and is poised to expel the Lebanese citizens working on its territory.
On Tuesday, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah said Saudi propaganda against Hezbollah has led to a political conflict in Lebanon, and advised the Lebanese youth against playing into the hands of Saudi Arabia, which he said spreads lies about Hezbollah and wrongly accuses the resistance movement of sowing sectarian strife between Shias and Sunnis.
He also denounced the Arab world’s silence in the face of Riyadh’s aggression on Yemen, where over 8,000 people have lost their lives since the Saudi onslaught began in late March last year.
Nasrallah warned that there are some Lebanese groups hoping to see a war in Lebanon just like the one Riyadh has waged against Yemen.
This comes as the Persian Gulf monarchies themselves stand accused of supporting extremists and terrorists in the region.
Local media outlets in Turkey reported that the Greek coast guard detained on Sunday a Turkish ship loaded with weaponry, adding that it was heading towards Lebanon.
The ship which took off from the Turkish city of Izmir on February 4 contained six containers, two of them holding weapons and munitions.
The Greek authorities also arrested all the crew members who are: six Syrians, four Indians and a Lebanese.
Al-Manar’s correspondent noted that the Turkish officials have not commented on the report.
It is worth noting that Turkey has been providing the terrorist groups in Syria with weaponry, inflaming the crisis which erupted in 2011.
A former director of America’s Central Intelligence Agency has said that the international agreements made after World War Two are starting to fall apart, and may change the borders of some countries in the Middle East.
“What we see here is a fundamental melting down of the international order,” Michael Hayden told CNN. “We are seeing a melting down of the post-WWII Bretton Woods American liberal order. We are certainly seeing a melting down of the borders drawn at the time of Versailles and Sykes-Picot. I am very fond of saying Iraq no longer exists, Syria no longer exists; they aren’t coming back. Lebanon is teetering and Libya is long gone.”
Hayden described the current situation as a “tectonic” moment. “Within that we then have the war against terrorism; it is an incredibly complex time.”
He explained that there are two fronts in the war. “The way I think about it, we Americans with our military backgrounds, call one element the close battle and the other the deep battle. The close battle is the one you and I are able to see everyday, that’s the heat-blasting fragmentation against those people who are already convinced they want to come kill us, and frankly, we are pretty good at that one.”
However, he said that the US is “not good” at the deep battle. “That’s the production rate of people who want to come kill us in 3, 5 or 10 years. Fundamentally the problem there is that that is not our fight.”
Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam has called for national unity in the face of Saudi pressure after Riyadh suspended a $4 billion in aid to Beirut amid a diplomatic row.
During a Thursday cabinet meeting, Salam highlighted the importance of national unity and urged ministers to “take into consideration the Arab consensus during the difficult and delicate crisis [the country] is passing through,” Information Minister Ramzi Joreige quoted him as saying.
Beirut-Riyadh ties have recently soured after Saudi Arabia suspended a $3-billion package to the Lebanese army and a remainder of $1 billion in aid to its internal security forces earlier this month.
The suspension came after Lebanon refused to endorse joint anti-Iran statements issued last month at separate meetings held in Cairo and Jeddah.
Riyadh also called on Tuesday on all its nationals in Lebanon to leave the country due to deteriorating political relations with Beirut.
Lebanese ministers rejected Saudi calls for apology to the kingdom. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mohammad Fneish said Beirut had “committed no wrong for which to apologize.”
Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan also voiced surprise over Riyadh’s measures against Beirut. “I don’t understand this great equation: we either apologize or we must bear a collective punishment.”
Economy Minister Alain Hakim, however, urged calm and said the country should not “panic before any measures by [Persian] Gulf states because such fears harm our economy.”
Saudi severed diplomatic relations with Iran on January 3 in the wake of the attacks on two of its diplomatic missions in Iran amid the angry protests over the execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. This is while Tehran condemned the violence and made dozens of arrests after the incidents.
A number of Riyadh’s allies, including Bahrain, Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti, also followed the kingdom’s lead under pressure and broke off diplomatic ties with Tehran. The Saudis pledged the Somali government USD 50 million in aid on the same day Mogadishu declared it had cut ties with Iran, according to a leaked document.
Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah has slammed Saudi Arabia for suspending aid to the country’s army and said the move exposes the real face of Saudi Arabia and refutes its claims about fighting terrorism.
The Saudis are apparently irked by the victories of the Syrian army, backed by Hezbollah resistance fighters, against the Takfiri militants fighting to topple the Damascus government with the backing of Riyadh.
Meanwhile, some analysts believe the Saudi regime is pressuring Lebanon to regain the influence it lost there in 2011, when the cabinet of former pro-Saudi prime minister, Saad Hariri, collapsed.
They say the kingdom might take further steps against Lebanon such as stopping flights to the country or evicting thousands of Lebanese nationals working in Saudi Arabia.
A number of Lebanese media outlets also speculate that Riyadh is exerting pressure on Beirut to secure the release of a Saudi prince jailed in Beirut for drug smuggling.
Saudi Prince Abdel Mohsen Bin Walid Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was arrested in Lebanon in late October with two tons of amphetamines at the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut last October.
The Kuwaiti embassy in Beirut advised on Wednesday citizens to leave Lebanon unless it was necessary to stay, Kuwaiti News Agency (KUNA) reported.
In a statement, the embassy also called on the Kuwaitis tending to travel to Lebanon to re-consider their plans.
Saudi, UAE and Bahrain have already issued similar travel alerts without submitting clear evidence about any security threat over the Lebanese territories.
Saudi Arabia has advised its citizens Tuesday against travel to Lebanon and urged those already in the country to leave it, citing “safety” concerns, a few days after it halted military aid to Lebanon.
“The Foreign Ministry calls on all citizens not to travel to Lebanon for their own safety,” the Saudi news agency SPA quoted a ministry official as saying.
“It also urges citizens residing in Lebanon or visiting it to leave and not to stay there unless for utmost urgency while observing vigilance and caution,” the official added.
The ministry also called on Saudis in Lebanon to contact the kingdom’s embassy in Beirut for “the necessary help and attention.”
UAE has also banned its citizens from traveling to Lebanon and decided to downsize its diplomatic mission in the country, according to AFP.