Thursday, January 17, 2008

Nasrallah: 'Best Way to Prevent War is to Be Ready For it'

This interview summary was originally published by the Lebanese website Promise:

A summary for al-Sayyed Nasrallah’s interview on NBN on 2nd of January, 2008.

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said Wednesday that the solution to the Lebanese crisis lies in the partnership that is realized through a constitutional guarantee, namely the guaranteeing one-third of ministers within a national unity government. "The governing coalition's refusing all attempts to set the foundations for a true partnership has proved to be the main obstacle hindering any solution," Sayyed Nasrallah said during an interview with NBN television. He added that Hezbollah and the opposition were fighting against US plans for this country rather than against the ruling team. His eminence also accused the February 14 bloc of obstructing all international initiatives to solve the crisis in Lebanon. "The ruling coalition considers granting us a guaranteeing minority as 'political suicide,' this is weird. Whenever there is an internal crisis in any country, or when a country has just come out of a war…it seeks to form a national unity government, except for Lebanon where a national unity government is a 'political suicide.' The real problem today is the principle of partnership, that is the guaranteeing one-third, which if given to the opposition it would mean 'no settling of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.' We say that the opposition acquiring a 'guaranteeing third' means blocking US plans in Lebanon," he said.

Sayyed Nasrallah's last public appearance came on the eleventh of November 2007, when he delivered a speech to commemorate "Martyrs Day".

Hezbollah's chief stressed the opposition is working on countering US influence in Lebanon. "The US works on having a pro-US government in Lebanon which would fulfill its goals. So if the US wants to have a military base in Lebanon, the Lebanese government would facilitate it…The US want Lebanon to abolish the resistance of Hezbollah and everyone who thinks of facing Israeli greed and aggression…The US wants to settle the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon not for humanitarian concerns but to terminate the right of return and the whole Palestinian cause. The US also wants to use Lebanon to pressure and blackmail Syria to force it to surrender to the US plan in the region (the new Middle East)," Sayyed Nasrallah said.

His eminence said the opposition would not remain silent in face of the ruling coalition's attempts to monopolize rule. He added that France's mediation with Syria on Lebanon's political crisis would go on despite the two countries breaking off contacts over the issue. He said that "France's mediation has not finished, despite President Nicolas Sarkozy inappropriately raising the tone" of the talks by officially halting contacts with Syria. "The French and the Syrians are attempting to arrive at a compromise ... but if this mediation fails and this government insists on remaining in power while practicing the authorities of the president of the republic, then within a week or ten days…we (opposition) will decide on the steps to be taken. The opposition is maintaining calm because there are mediations in process and we give special heed to open the way for these mediations to render them successful."

Sayyed Nasrallah also confirmed that Hezbollah backed the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, General Michel Suleiman, for the presidency. But he warned that electing General Suleiman will not solve the problem unless a national unity government, in which the opposition has a guaranteeing one-third of ministers, is formed. "As long as there is a U.S. decision not to give the opposition a guaranteeing one-third, this means there won't be a presidential election," he said.

Asked whether Hezbollah endorsed calls to amend the Taif Accord that ended the 1975-1990 Civil War, the Hezbollah chief said his party never considered the pact "as the core of the deadlock."
"We don't consider the Taif Accord as the core to the problem; we never called for it to be amended and we will never do, unless all the Lebanese agree to that," he said. He acknowledged, however, that Hezbollah had "comments" on Taif Accord, and called for "accurate implementation" of the agreement, which altered Lebanon's system of confessional power-sharing. "We demand that some unclear constitutional articles be interpreted or at least explained, such as the quorum to elect the next president or shares of Cabinet seats," he said.

Addressing the issue of media reports alleging divisions inside his party, Sayyed Nasrallah said they "make Hezbollah officials laugh and these are attempts to mutilate our image." "Hezbollah is one of the most homogenous groups…There is harmony among us all."

Tackling the issue of political assassinations, the Hezbollah chief stressed Israel was responsible for most of them. "No one has a greater motive for these assassinations than Israel…Their ambition is to drag Hezbollah into an internal war in Lebanon. There are those inside Lebanon who blame Hezbollah for the murders. This serves Israel's agenda and fulfills the goals of the assassinations. Israel is trying to drive a wedge between Syria and Lebanon and accusing Syria and its allies in Lebanon of these killing weaken Syria. Israel wants to prove that Lebanon is unable to take care of its security; something that would open the door for foreign security and intelligence services into Lebanon, similar to what is happening in Iraq," Sayyed Nasrallah said.

His eminence acknowledged that al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden has accused him of allowing UN forces into Lebanon. "We are not in any competition with al-Qaeda. True, there are two points of view here – they have their way and we have ours in resistance, jihad, addressing civil issues, politics and categorizing people. We dealt Israel a first defeat in 2000 and a second in 2006. We have our interests and our country. They can go ahead and disagree with us."

The Hezbollah Secretary General also accused Israel for 'sluggish' pace of negotiations over fate of two captured soldiers. "After the last deal we were optimistic and things seemed to be progressing positively, but we were surprised by Israel's lackadaisical attitude towards the negotiations." Sayyed Nasrallah revealed that Hezbollah still holds the remains of Israeli soldiers killed on Lebanese soil during the Israeli war against Lebanon in 2006. "Hezbollah is in possession of human remains the Israeli army left behind on Lebanese soil. We've offered to return these remains within the framework of the negotiation efforts, but the Israeli side did seem interested in the offer," he said.

On the possibility of another Israeli war against Lebanon Sayyed Nasrallah said that everything is possible. "In fact the Israelis are the one talking about war. When we hear Ashkenazi (Israeli army chief of staff) saying that 'clear and decisive triumph will be on our side' in the next war with Lebanon, it means that he (Ashkenazi) is talking about a coming war." The Hezbollah chief added that the resistance is on full alert. "The best way to prevent a war is to be ready for it," Sayyed Nasrallah said. "I tell the Israelis that we can target any point in occupied Palestine. I'm not only in the process of a psychological war; I tell the Israelis that the war will be very costly."