Monday, October 31, 2011

Interview of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah by Al Manar TV

Batoul Ayoub: In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Most Merciful. Peace be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings. Dear audience! This is an extraordinary episode of our program "Between Parentheses" broadcasted life tonight. It is extraordinary because our guest – the Sayyed – is extraordinary as he shows up in all stages and times. It is extraordinary in its contents because the region is experiencing circumstances which are more than extraordinary. It is a stage of great changes which necessitates an extraordinary word articulated by a man whose speech is trusted by the foe before it being trusted by the friend.

Topics are great and interacting whether on the internal or regional levels. Events are speeding up, and fear from the unknown is promoting apprehension among huge masses as broad as the Arab and Islamic world from what is being schemed to the region. Civil war is lurking in the minds of many. Fear of dividing the region is preoccupying the minds of everyone. Sectarian and factional ordeal forcefully exists on the agenda of these panting to robbing the Arab revolutions. These questions need answers, and Hezbollah the tough factor in the equation, besides being the number one wanted on the agenda of those abusing the region, is concerned about providing its audience with the satisfactory answers to reinforce the factor of confidence and appeasement and to mushroom worry among its enemies.

Your Eminence, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is our guest tonight to interpret the features of the current stage and to present the viewpoint of Hezbollah on all the developments in the region starting with the end of Ghaddafi, the US withdrawal from Iraq, the US accusations of Iran of attempting to assassinating the Saudi Ambassador in Washington, the new developments in Bahrain and the prisoner swap operation between Hamas and the Israeli enemy. We will also put between parentheses tonight Hezbollah's viewpoint over the situation in Syria and its influence and repercussions on the situation in Lebanon which is heading towards new events starting with the STL and funding it, the fate of the new majority government and does not end with the security stability at home and the fears of Israeli threats from behind the frontiers.

I have the honor to pose these enormous and serious topics between parentheses on your Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Peace be Upon you, your Eminence.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Peace be upon you.

Batoul Ayoub: Your Eminence, we start with the general scene: Arab revolutions which you referred to as popular movements. You talked about US attempts to control them. First, how does Hezbollah view this general scene?

Sayyed Nasrallah: In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate the Most Merciful. Following several months for the starting off these Arab revolutions and through our contacts, acquaintances and information which we gather from trusted sources, facts were made clear. That asserts the viewpoint which we've been saying from the very beginning – meaning that what is taking place is a true national movement in the countries. What has started in Tunisia and in other Arab countries also which we will go over consecutively is the outcome of national and popular will. It is not an American project, and it is not logical that it be an American project because these regimes are US regimes. The Tunisian regime, the Egyptian regime, the Yemeni region, the Bahraini regime and even Ghaddafi in his latest years was on a great degree of cooperation and coordination with the Americans. So how may it be that the USA seeks to topple subordinate regimes? Perhaps the Syrian regime is the only regime which we may label as a regime not subordinate to the US will. In all cases, our reading of the events which was enforced with the given, certain information and indications is that what took and is taking place are genuine Arab revolutions and not a US project. True the Americans surfed in and tried to confiscate these revolutions and sought to derail them from their noble sought targets. However this is natural. We do not expect from the US administration to give in to revolutions which are attacking subordinate regimes.

Batoul Ayoub: Your Eminence! Months following the start off of these revolutions starting from Tunisia to Egypt to other countries, do you sense US success in taking control over these revolutions, knowing that for example in Tunisia we started witnessing elections and they are preparing for elections in Egypt.

Sayyed Nasrallah: To evaluate whether the Americans managed or not depends on their targets. When they intervened in these revolutions, they had goals which they wanted to achieve. Among these goals are:

- First, lessening the losses of the Americans

- Second, bettering their image before the Arab and Islamic peoples. That's because polls carried out years and even months ago clearly show the extent of loathe and the refusal of the Arab and Islamic peoples of US policies, US administration and US conduct and performance. There is a clear categorization of this administration as being a terrorist, criminal administration.

- Third the alternative regimes. By stepping these squares forcefully, the Americans want to be a partner in making the alternative regimes. If they were able to bring about a new subordinate alternative regime, that will be great. So the whole story would be that the regime is new, fresh and healthy. Should it enjoy a popular cover that would be better. Otherwise, they will try to be partners in making the alternative regimes. These are the goals. Were they able to achieve these goals? I say that up till now, we can't say a decisive word about the outcome because that has to do with the days to come. In Tunisia for example, people took part in elections and this is excellent. The rate of participation was very high. Some say it was 70%; others say 80%; others say it overstepped 80%; some say it is between 80% and 90%. Well we are waiting the results of the elections. Will the results be respected by the international community or not? Consequently, the new regime will be established on the light of the popular will which was expressed by the elections a day ago and the results of which will come to light tomorrow. The same applies to Libya and Egypt… So we can't say something final now on whether the alternative regimes are popular regimes or regimes which are subordinate to the US administration. Here is the challenge.

Batoul Ayoub: My question is how may we confront this attack to prevent the US administration from achieving its goal and crashing these revolutions so as to keep these revolutions popular movements exclusive to every country away from the USA?

Sayyed Nasrallah: This may take place first through popular awareness to the effect that the US administration is not a friend of theirs. It might have made use of some difficult and tough circumstances in some countries. It might have tried to present itself as a friend and a defender and a helper though not long ago it was a defender and a protector of these dictatorships and is still a defender and a protector of harsh dictatorships which still exist. So the first thing that counts is awareness. Second comes direct and massive popular presence whether in squares or in ballots and partaking in elections and discarding with some sides which at times issue fatwas against partaking in parliamentary elections. Ballots are one of the modern ways to express the will of peoples. Let's talk about countries where regimes are said to be toppled i.e. Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. In these three countries if these peoples remained forceful, followed up, cooperated and kept their goals and their fate before their eyes, I believe it is possible that the Americans be obliged to lose the opportunity. I believe that these people may impose their will through political presence, ballots, awareness, agreeing and national unity. That's because when the Americans and the west in general will find that the regime which will take over is a popular regime with a popular government which expresses a popular will and does not serve their interests they will besiege this enfant regime and topple it and push the country towards ordeal and chaos. They will make use of any internal dispute or discord whether it was racial, regional or geographic, sectarian, factional or has to do with sides as is said in North Africa. Here the leaderships of these peoples must be very aware and careful. They must consider that the true achievement of the revolution and the blood of the martyrs is linked – besides being forcefully present in squares – to agreement, national unity and avoiding any conflict or making haste to create a conflict.

Batoul Ayoub: In this framework, I recall a word given by US Foreign Minister Hilary Clinton to the effect that from amid Arab revolutions springs fear on minorities. Before this term, there was talk about the alliance of minorities in face of the majority. Do you sense in this scene fear on the fate of minorities? And how might that be confronted? Is it through the alliance of minorities in face of the majority? Is this alliance able to prevent these fears?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Well, first let me say that this issue is sensitive. It has to do with the region as a whole and indeed we are concerned by it on the Lebanese level because this term is mainly used in Lebanon. Before talking about an alliance between majorities or minorities or the like, let's first say an alliance in face of who. So we must specify first what the threat is to see if we need to make in face of this threat an agreement or an alliance or not? So consequently, the nature of this threat imposes the nature of the allied forces. That's because the threat makes the threatened ally in face of the side threatening them. This is the natural logic. First let me specify the source of threat. I don't want to make polls. So these are not statistics but primarily the first threat in the region is the existence of the state of Israel. This is the first threat to the whole peoples in the region whether Muslims, Christians, Arab, other races, peoples, governments or regimes. This is indisputable. So first, the existence of the state of Israel poses a threat. In Palestine this threat is clear. So Israel poses a demographic threat. It did not target Muslims only. It rather targeted Muslims and Christians alike especially that the state of Israel seeks to become a pure Jewish state – a racial state. Second comes the threat of the US project especially in the past ten years when the Americans came to form a Neo Middle East. Indeed, this project flopped. Now there is an attempt to revive this project. It flopped as a result of steadfastness, sacrifices, resistance movements and opposing regimes. Now there is an attempt to revive it. Indeed, the Neo Middle East they talk about is founded on the basis of re-dividing the region to states on racial, sectarian and factional basis and also to conflicting countries. Consequently Israel remains the strong, able country which is the oasis of democracy in a conflicting and struggling ocean. Well this poses a threat. So the US project – the Neo Middle East project which wants to divide the region - is a great threat. Well whom do these two threats target? The Christians in Lebanon or in the East? The Shiites? The Druze? The Alawis? Ismailis? Let's mention the minorities. Or the Sunnites? It is a threat to everybody – Muslims and Christians alike. All the peoples of the region face this threat. There is a third threat. By this we will be somehow narrowing the range. We will frankly talk about the third threat. It is the fanatic current which accuses others of unbelief and adopts killing as their means and method. Well this threat is not against Christians alone or the minorities in the region or in Lebanon. It is not only in face of Shiites, Druze, Alawis or Ismailis or Zeidis or Abadiyeh. It is against all of these. We must stress this idea so that I reach goal. We do not believe there is not a Sunnite majority – Let's be frank - that is targeting the regional and sectarian minorities in the region. Consequently, the Sunnite majority does not pose a threat. The Sunnite majority is also threatened as the regional and factional minorities in the region are threatened. They are threatened by Israel, the US project of division and the third factor.

Batoul Ayoub: Let's for example examine the issue of Copts in Egypt or the Christians in Iraq.

Sayyed Nasrallah: This fanatic, butchering current which accuses others of unbelief calls itself jihadi while that is not true. Let's start with Iraq. Let's start at least with the US occupation of Iraq until today or until recently. No followers of any sect or religion in Iraq were spared suicide attacks - which can not be called martyrdom operations -, booby trapped cars, assassinations and mass liquidations. That comprises Shiites and their mosques, husseiniyas, the shrines of their Imams (peace be upon them) and their visitors, schools, markets, libraries, gathering places… That comprises the Sunnites as well. Suicide attacks were executed by Al Qaeda and by these groups against Sunnite mosques the last of which took place in the month of Ramadan in one of the most important mosques in Baghdad - the mosque of Um Al Qora. Some time ago, I was watching one of the Arab satellites. They were hosting Sheikh Ahmad Samurai - as I still remember his name is – the Head of the Sunnite Endowments in Iraq. The mosque was targeted. He was hit and 30 Sunnites were martyred while praying and scores were wounded. While presenting the Sheikh, the anchor said that to the knowledge of the audience so far 250 Sunnite mosque Imams and speakers were killed. The Sheikh said no the correct number is 350 Sunnite mosque Imam and speakers. He also held these extremist groups and specifically AlQaeda responsible of these killings. The anchor tried to blame other sides – regional countries for instance. It seems this blame did not appeal to her. The Sheikh however told her that he decisively says that more than 90% of these operations which attacked Sunnite mosque Imams and speakers in Iraq were staged by AlQaeda. AlQaeda itself acknowledges that and assumes responsibility of that while bragging of that too. Killing took place in Sunnite regions as well as against Christians. No religion followers in Iraq were spared these attacks. No worshipping places in Iraq whether Muslims or Christians were not targeted. No race followers in Iraq whether Arabs, Turks or Turkmen but were targeted. Some time ago, I even heard Dr. Ayman Zawaheri – allow me to say names – saying that so far they have executed more than 4000 suicide operations in Iraq. He calls them martyrdom operations. How many of these operations were executed against the Americans? 200? 300? 400? 1000? At least 3000 suicide operations targeted the Iraqi people, Army and police. So here we can't say that the minorities are targeted. Everyone is targeted. All the Iraqi people were targeted and they are still up till now. Booby trapped cars are still being detonated. Suicide operations are still being staged. Here I want to conclude that not only the Sunnite majority is targeted. I am talking on the level of the region. Moving to Afghanistan, I remember that before the US occupation of Afghanistan, when Taliban was occupying regions, it entered Mazar Sharif and killed thousands from Tajiq and Hazar. Tajiq are Sunnites while Hazar are Shiites. Taliban claims that it is an Islamists jihadi movement. So the suicide operations do not attack the NATO forces in Afghanistan; it rather attacks ordinary civilians the majority of whom are Sunnites. The former president - Burhaneddine Rabbani – is an Islamist man and the leader of an Islamic movement with a great history in resisting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. He also played a uniting reformist role. He was killed in a suicide attack. Still he was a Sunnite Islamist.

The same applies to Pakistan. Months ago, a Sufi shrine where Sufis gather was attacked by a group of suicide attacked who killed 200 Muslims and wounded hundreds. These are Sunnite Muslims besides the Shiites who are killed in Queta and other areas. I will give one more example from Pakistan. There is a Sunnite mosque there. So it is not a Sufi mosque but because the Imam of the mosque criticized Taliban politically, they sent him a week later a suicide bomber who exploded the mosque and killed the mosque Imam and 100 Sunnites who were praying. See also what is taking place nowadays in Somalia. So let's give no more examples. Millions of Somali men, women and children are threatened with famine. The world is incapable to provide them with supplies. Well why don't you reach a truce? They do not do that. They are killing each other through suicide bombers! Noteworthy, that the government and the opposition are followers of the Islamist current. This is the threat. Consequently, I want to reach the following conclusion: I will wrap up saying we do not need an alliance of minorities to confront a Sunnite majority. This is wrong. We need a broad national Islamic-Christian alliance which comprises the followers of the various regions, sects and races which are threatened by Israel, the US project and the current that accuse others of unbelief and to confront the threatening factors. This is what we need.

Batoul Ayoub: Is it possible to achieve this?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Yes, it's possible to achieve this. After all, for sure there are in the Arab and Islamic world senior leaderships on the political level, on the level of religious authorities whether Christians or Muslims or whether Shiites or Sunnites as well as on the level of the followers of other Islamic factions, and on the level of prominent parties and movements. To be even more frank, the Sunnite religious authorities and the Sunnite Islamists movements shoulder more responsibility. We are all responsible because after all when I show up in face of this current, the whole issue might easily be turned into a sectarian and factional issue. However, when a Sunnite scholar, a Sunnite authority or a Sunnite Islamist movement shows up to face this issue, the impact would be different. In Iraq, if we want to list the choices of these currents, they forbid partaking in elections. Well they are free. But they accuse of unbelief and deem permissible to shed the blood of those who partake in the elections. Who must stand in face of that? So this is a general responsibility which we must all cooperate to shoulder. Thus we do not call for the alliance of minorities. Some at times try with equivocation to accuse us of that. I do not believe that the even the Christians in Lebanon – we will defend them for a while – or those who belong to other minorities in Lebanon or in the region call for the alliance of minorities. We discussed this with each other, and this is how we depict the situation.

Batoul Ayoub: Your Eminence, as we said there are many topics. There are several revolutions in almost all Arab countries starting with Tunisia and Egypt among others. Developments are rushing in a dramatic way especially in Libya with end of Ghaddafi, the announcement of his death and announcing Libya yesterday a free country. The question in this framework is how do you believe the future in Libya would be?

Sayyed Nasrallah: There is a huge responsibility concerning Libya. First we are very happy for the victory of the Libyan people and the end of fighting and conflict there. Today the Libyan people are before great responsibilities. First, they do not only need to change the regime. They also need to rebuild Libya anew. They need to build a state. They need to form a new regime and set new institutions because it doesn't seem there was a true country there. There used to be a tribal regime in Libya. So besides the great demolition that afflicted Libya, there is a great challenge to the effect of reconstructing edifices and reforming souls because after all any war leaves great wounds. Hereof, there is a call for popular agreement, forgiveness, tolerance and healing wounds so that they might not be exploited to create a gap in the lines of the Libyan people. The challenge which is as important as well is guarding the sovereignty and independence of Libya so that it benefits from its own natural resources because since now NATO members started showing their interests. For example, the French Defense Minister said the Libyan people owe them very much and must be grateful to them. So since now they started making demands on the Libyans. Well this necessitates above all a political will in Libya. Inshallah we hope the Libyan people would be able to reconstruct their country and their state, guard their sovereignty besides what we mentioned a while ago: popular presence, popular corporation, partaking in elections, accepting the results of elections, tolerating each other and working with a united unanimous mind, and Inshallah Libya will have a prominent future.

Batoul Ayoub: Here it is impossible to talk about Libya without tackling the fate of Imam Mussa Assader and his two companions. In this framework, does Hezbollah have any new or exclusive indications which reveal the fate of Imam Sayyed Mussa Assader?

Sayyed Nasrallah: First let me say that the Lebanese in general and the followers and devotees of Imam Assader in particular are living special emotional days. For years, it has always been said that one of the important opportunities that might help in restoring, the return or the freeing of the Imam - or at a lower degree we say revealing the fate of the Imam as we usually do not use this term – is either the death of Ghaddafi or the change of the regime in Libya. Now both took place. Consequently, let me say that we are before decisive days or weeks as far as this issue is concerned. Up till this very moment there is no information to which we might resort because search is not complete yet. Well Tripoli fell but was there a precise search there? Are there secretive prisons which are not discovered so far? We do not have any assertions. What about Sert and Sabha? These are the cities in which it was always been said that Imam Assader was imprisoned in. Consequently the search must be completed. Now the Lebanese government is showing concern and tackling this issue in a serious way. It dispatched a delegation to Libya. The President and the Premier are showing great interest. Indeed Speaker Nabih Berri and the family of Imam Assader are giving the issue extraordinary attention. Well, I believe there is a serious and close follow up. There are also friends helping on this framework. We hope that the delegation who went to Libya would through their contacts reach somewhere. We also hope that the caretaking council – as we always used to address it with statements - would take this issue into consideration. We know their challenges are enormous but this topic means a lot for us and for Palestine. After all, Sayyed Mussa was not an Imam for the Shiites only; he was an Imam for the country and for the Resistance. He used to raise the banner of Al Qods and the Palestinian resistance. Consequently, undertaking this responsibility must be among the humanistic and jihadi priorities which we hope to reach results in soon.

Batoul Ayoub: Inshallah. Your Eminence, we will tackle another topic now which is no less important that the Libyan issue. It is the announcement made by the US President Barak Obama last week. It was a sudden announcement which took everyone by surprise on the final US withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the year 2011. How does Hezbollah read this announcement? Where do Hezbollah fit it? Is it in the framework of the defeat of the US project in Iraq or in the framework of ground tactical measures the Americans are paving the way for?

Sayyed Nasrallah: In our viewpoint and without exaggeration, what took place is a true victory to the Iraqi people, the Iraqi resistance and the steadfastness of the political forces which are not subordinate to US will. It's a true victory to the axis of opposition in the region and to all those who stood by the side of the Iraqi people besides their political will, steadfastness and resistance. It prevented Iraq from turning to an easy bite for the Americans. On the other hand, it's a historic defeat to the Americans. This is not what I am saying. It is what those who launched the war are saying i.e. the US Republican Party. The party is expressing what took place saying this is a historic US defeat and a victory to some countries and foes in top of which is Iran. They have mentioned that. In fact, this is a historic blessed achievement. We felicitate the Iraqi people with all their components especially their resistance, martyrs and prisoners who are still in prisons but hopefully the Iraqi government would set them free. Here there is a very important moral. If Iraq was a secure country to the Americans where they may do what they want, was Obama or anyone to be obliged to take a decision to pull out all US troops in Iraq? Indeed not. He would have remained, established bases and consecrated this presence even on the legal level. So this was not to take place was it not first to the resistance – I am saying first – which has turned Iraq to a flame under the feet of the Americans. They came to realize that there are unbearable losses – human losses, economic losses, financial losses and psychological losses. Second come the steadfastness of the Iraqi people and their tolerance of the repercussions of this war, this resistance and this confrontation. They also offered sacrifices as a result of these erroneous fanatic movements. I mean it was possible to achieve victory with much fewer losses and sacrifices were it not for these movements. I do not deny that some of these movements partook in the resistance. However, if they exerted all their efforts in the resistance, the achievement would have been greater and faster, and the sacrifices of the Iraqi people would have been fewer. Here we must be fair and mention sharing in the political operation. There has always been a dispute in Iraq on the resistance and the political operation. We used to tell our friends that the correct path is partaking in both tracks: sharing in the resistance and sharing in the political operation. That's because the political operation must not be left to be managed by political parties which are subordinate to the Americans or by political leaderships which have made contracts with the Pentagon or the CIA or the US State Department. Well this exists all over the Arab world. They receive salaries and orders. The participation of original faithful Iraqi forces in the political operation – even if some accused them of unbelief and this is unsound – led to the formation an Iraqi parliament and an Iraqi government and an Iraqi regime which is not subordinate to the US will. It rather observes the considerations of the Iraqi people. That's because there are elections and they take the results of the elections into consideration. So as the Parliament is popular and the government is elected from the people, they are concerned in observing the will of the Iraqi people. So what led to this great historic victory? It's the resistance, the faithful and not the subordinate partaking in the political operation, the steadfastness of the Iraqi people and the support of the opposing countries. There are countries who embraced the Iraqi people, its resistance, its political parties and political operation as well as its displaced. This is one of the most important landmarks of the US defeat in the region.

Batoul Ayoub: Will the USA offer Iraq on a plate of silver to this opposing axis?

Sayyed Nasrallah: It will present it neither on a plate of silver nor on a plate of gold. It is obliged, and it will withdraw from Iraq defeated as Israel pulled out from Lebanon defeated. The Americans sought industriously to extend the security agreement with the Iraqi government. The Iraqis refused and said we are through with this agreement. They talked with another language. The Americans sought through negotiations with the Iraqis to keep some 50 thousand soldiers in Iraq. The Iraqis did not agree. They reduced the number to 30 thousand soldiers and then to 10 thousand soldiers under the pretext of protecting the US embassy and opening consulates in the various provinces and keeping trainers and counselors. The Iraqis did not accept. The discussion which was not settled yet was over 3000 soldiers under the title of trainers, experts and counselors. This is being discussed by the Iraqi blocs; however what is not open for discussion among the Iraqis is offering them immunity. We all know that the US administration can't dispatch its officers and soldiers to any country without providing them with immunity. So even if the Iraqi government agreed to keep 500 or 1000 or 3000, it is putting conditions for their presence which the US administration can not transcend under any price.

Batoul Ayoub: Where is Iran from that? Will it pay the price? Does that explain the timing of the campaign against it to the effect of accusing it of the alleged conspiracy to attempt to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador in Washington? How does Hezbollah read this? We will hear Hezbollah's analysis, answer and viewpoint after the break.

Batoul Ayoub: You Eminence, as for the US threats and accusations for Iran that it attempted to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to Washington, how does Hezbollah read this alleged conspiracy if we can call it, the timing of these accusations and the goal from them?

Sayyed Nasrallah: As for the timing, I will say information and this was published in information sources. The Americans called for opening a hot line with the Iranians so that they talk directly and openly and not have to take appointments a month ahead. So they were seeking continuous direct contact with the Iranians. They named the US general to assume this post. To my knowledge they even suggested the name of the Iranian general they want to contact them. However, the leadership in Iran refused that.

Well, the Americans need a hotline badly. Their pretext which they talked about and which they announced is the situation in the Gulf - meaning the Gulf waters. However, the true reason is that they want to talk about Iraq and Afghanistan above all apart from the other causes in the region. That's because they consider that Iran has direct influence in Iraq and Afghanistan. As they are to withdraw defeated, they want to preserve a part of their interests and try to make a specific way out for their withdrawal. Well, the Iranian refusal angered the Americans. They created for them this fabricated false file to pressure them. So in my opinion, the goal from opening this fabricated file is not preparing for a war against Iran. It might be rather for imposing new sanctions on Iran to pressure it. The goal is that Iran sits on the table of direct negotiations with the Americans. This is still rejected by the Iranians up till now.

I want to say that during the meetings that used to take in some European capitals and in which the five permanent states used to attend in addition to a UN representative, the Iranian used to accept partaking in a collective meeting. However the Americans have always sought for a bilateral meeting with the Iranians at the margin of these meetings. However the Iranians never accepted. So they created this story to exert pressure on them. This is if we are to talk about the direct reason.

As for exploiting it, this file might be exploited to impose further sanctions on Iran to make it succumb. This might be exploited for further tension in the region between Iran and Saudi Arabia. After all, Iran is an influential regional state and Saudi Arabia is an influential regional state. It might be also given an Arab-Persian dimension. It might be given a Shiite-Sunnite dimension too. (Batoul: To nourish ordeal in all its dimensions) So it might be exploited as such as well. However, I believe that the direct main reason is Iran's refusal to open this direct hotline with the Americans.

Batoul Ayoub: Your Eminence, you limit it to this level at a time some say that these accusations are tantamount to setting the ground for a military attack on Iran or to stage a military strike against Iran. Does that come as a result of the US early withdrawal from Iraq or for setting the ground for a strike taking into consideration the statements made by US War Minister who when visiting the Israeli enemy entity said that we called on Israel not to stage a strike against Iran! So it seems as if the ground is being ready for that?

Sayyed Nasrallah: The Americans are not ready to wage a new war. I believe that many strategic experts in the region say what I am saying. The reason is the military and security defeat that inflicted the US armies in Iraq and the region and what is inflicting it in Afghanistan. It's the financial and economic situation in the United States. Imagine, sister Batoul, that a Republican and not a Democratic candidate who is still engaged in preliminary elections in his party because they haven't named their final presidential candidate yet is raising the following slogan: Halting all US aids including aids to Israel. What does this highlight? It highlights the depth of the financial and economic crisis in the USA. Is this USA which is living such a financial, economic, moral and psychological situation able to wage a new war? And against who? Against the Islamic Republic in Iran! I rule out that. This is intimidation. I believe this is a threat which is over or which is at its feeblest levels, and what you mentioned as an evidence is in fact an evidence on this conclusion. When the US Defense Minister says take care and do not take an individual initiative and strike Iran and let the whole region be involved in a war that means they do not want war. They solely want to pressure Iran to give in, harmonize and tone with the US project and interests. Indeed we always aspire that the brethrens in Saudi Arabia do not move in this project especially that it is a void file. It was said that they arrested someone who did not have a gun or explosives. He did not have a hand grenade or anything else. It is known that he is an Iranian man with an American nationality. What's strange is that when Iranians suit any Iranian with a US nationality, the Americans defend him saying he is an American. Why in this case they stressed that he is an Iranian?

Second, it is said that he has ties with the Mafia. Moreover, no state in the Third World executes a critical security operation as such. He is an unknown person. So how is he to contact the Mexican Mafia to stage an assassination? The saying goes: Be rational with the rational. It is supposed that their speech be reasonable, balanced and acceptable. In all cases, awareness is demanded not to be dragged or to serve US interests because any Iranian-Saudi tension or any tension among the states in the region is not to the interest of the states or peoples of the region but rather to the interest of its enemies.

Batoul Ayoub: Before moving to the Palestinian topic and its achievements, it is inevitable to tackle what is taking place in Bahrain. The crisis is still open between the Bahraini government and people. On the other hand, you had previously articulated your positions. You were blamed that you are not with freedom and democracy. However, the issue is golden now. After months, the crisis is still open. Did Hezbollah change its approach to this revolution?

Sayyed Nasrallah: As for the first part of the question, we usually do not interfere in Arab affairs. Even when the movement started in Tunisia we did not express our position because we viewed that as an internal affair. When we staged the solitary gathering, it was to show solidarity with the Tunisian, Yemeni, Egyptian, Libyan and Bahraini peoples. So we did not show solidarity with Shiites and not with Sunnites or with Sunnites or with the followers of one sect instead of another. By then the events in Syria haven't have started yet. So we showed solidarity with peoples who are revolting against regimes which are loyal to the Americans and submissive to the US project. Their stance from the Arab-Israeli struggle is well known. They are also tyrannical regimes. So they are peoples who are calling for freedom, sovereignty and the return of these countries to the bosom of the nation and the causes of the nation. We backed all the revolutions. Second, as for Bahrain, I believe the Bahraini people are exceptionally oppressed. That's because you see many platforms – even the platforms of some Arab revolutions – when they talk about the Arab revolutions and the Arab Spring, they list all the states with the exception of Bahrain as if it is not an Arab and Muslim country and as if it is not part of the Arab region and as if the regime is democratic and elected there. All the reasons for a revolution in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya exist in Bahrain: the nature of the regime, its regional stance, the system of which it is a part, internal tyranny. There is no elected council. Half of the council members are appointed. Its authenticity is confiscated or limited. You feel the oppression. I tell those who are accusing us of having multiple standards in our position from Syria that I have an argument over multiple norms. Can you tell me according to what united standards you work? Here I will tell you why my position is different as far as Syria is concerned. May they tell me frankly why in Bahrain they have a different stance knowing that what is taking place in Bahrain is a very huge popular movement which is being suppressed? There are scores of martyrs, hundreds of wounded besides prisoners who are being tortured in prisons. Confiscations are taking place. Employees are being fired from their work. A doctor was punished for treating a patient. Even more and as far as I know, the Bahraini opposition hasn't found up till now a satellite to broadcast on worldwide. See the degree of besiege. This is at a time satellites are being inaugurated for other Arab revolutions. I am not speaking against that anyway. I add to that the peacefulness of the movement up till now. We did not see so far a gun, a bomb, a dagger or even a stone with the opposition. We rather find that the movement of our brethrens in Bahrain is very peaceful. After all, the will of the people and the leadership of the movement decide the nature of the movement and not me or anyone else in the world. Every people know their country best. Anyway, despite the oppression and the besiege and the abandonment of many for this oppressed people, I believe that this people have a strong conviction in their right. They have a clear insight, will, bravery and patience. They are demonstrating now. They may carry on for a year or three years. Whoever bets on their exhaustion is betting on façade. After all, they will achieve their goals because they want an elected government which enjoys all authorities. Where are the callers for democracy in the world? I want an elected government.

Batoul Ayoub: What do you directly address the Bahraini people who are demanding these rights with?

Sayyed Nasrallah: I will not address them with anything so that it is not labeled as intervention. I know that the Bahraini people are very patient and very aware. We recommend what we recommend in every country: internal coherence, guarding unity, the unison of the movement, harmonizing with the aware and wise leadership which is present in the square and which diagnoses the nature of the stage best. After all, this regime must give in to the will of the people.

Batoul Ayoub: Your Eminence, the achievements in the region are not being made in retail. Among these achievements was Hamas' prisoners swap operation: 1027 prisoners for Gilaad Shaleet. How does Hezbollah read this swap operation and what do you see in this achievement which showed anew the rightfulness of betting on the choice of resistance.

Sayyed Nasrallah: We view the issue of Gilaad Shaleet and the swap operation a pure achievement from beginning to its end. We start first by taking him as a prisoner. It's a great achievement that the Palestinian resistance manage to capture an alive soldier. Second comes the ability to keep Gilaad Shaleet safe and sound away from the hands of the Israelis and their numerous collaborators for five years. This is also a very great achievement. Third we point to the steadfastness of the people of Gaza in particular. We recall that Gilaad Shaleet was the pretext for besieging Gaza and later for the war on Gaza. The people of Gaza remained steadfast. They did not tell Hamas to hand in Shaleet. The steadfastness of the people of Gaza is essential too. After all, the Israelis stood in a place where neither security operations nor the siege nor the war could restore Shaleet. Thus they headed to a swap operation. I bear witness that the leadership of Hamas remained steadfast for long, and it imposed conditions. Was there any weakness or defect in following this file they wouldn't have reached this good result. So we see the whole issue from its beginning to its end a pure, historic and great achievement. It's most important feature is that it consecrates the culture of resistance and the choice of resistance. This resistance managed with all pride and without any grudge from anyone to free persons with life sentences, who partook in resistance operations and who are accused of killing occupiers. However and even in the framework of a settlement, it resulted in an argument within the enemy entity to the effect of this swap operation having empowered Hamas and the choice of resistance. Netanyahu said we are considering the options of empowering the authority even if the authority was given the prisoners - and it must be given - but after all he will begrudge them saying I set them free for you. However this wasn't to take place in the past. He is submitting to the will and the conditions of the resistance which remained steadfast along with its people.

Batoul Ayoub: In this framework we are talking about 1027 Palestinian prisoners and one Israeli prisoner. This puts a great question mark on the value of man to the Israelis, the Palestinians and the Arabs. In general, doesn't that degrade the swap operation?

Sayyed Nasrallah: This issue was over since the Palestinian resistance was revived. The Palestinian resistance had important achievements on this level when the Palestinian resistance as well as Lebanon started having interest in the prisoners and even with the bodies of the martyrs and their remains. Consequently, it carried on several successful swap operations in more than one opportunity. This asserted that we as Arabs and Muslims take care and have interest in our prisoners and martyrs. Consequently, this issue is of no negative aspect. If it's one for a thousand, this is what facts specify. If we have 1000 Israeli prisoners and they have 100 prisoners and the swap necessitated that we hand 1000 for 100, we would have given in 1000 for one also because the sanctity of man in our religion, culture and doctrine is very sublime. In any swap operation, the discrepancy in numbers is of no value. As for they having great interest in their prisoners, that is true. Some were not able to tolerate when I once said that the enemy has a positive point which we must acknowledge. Sharon, the killer of children, the perpetrator of massacres, the committer of Sabra and Shatila massacres, takes pain to restore his prisoners and the remains of his soldiers. This is a positive point for the enemy. However on the other side if we abandoned our prisoners this is a trait of dishonor. In case we assume responsibility, that'll be logical.

Batoul Ayoub: Your Eminence, you considered the swap operation a pure achievement. However some pointed at the timing of the swap and Hamas' seeking it at this timing. Some say the timing of the swap was a result of the difficult situation Hamas is passing through in the Syrian interior as we have started witnessing the transfer of Hamas from beneath the Syrian-Iranian cloak to the Egyptian bosom. How do you interpret this issue? Do you give it this aspect? You tackled the conditions within the enemy's entity and the Israeli negotiator. What about Hamas – the other side in the swap?

Sayyed Nasrallah: What I will say is information and not analysis. It happened that we are acquainted to some of these files and we know things different to what is written in press and said in the media. All what is said to the effect of Hamas' leadership intention to step out of Damascus is totally untrue. Neither does it want to step out nor does anyone want it to step out. Moreover, the government in Syria does not want Hamas to step out, and Hamas itself does not want to step out. This is first. Second, as for the swap, they have been working on it for years before the so called Arab Spring and all the events which are taking place now. A year or more ago a swap was about to be reached. Israelis made important concessions but they were not enough for what Hamas leadership demanded. Thus the swap was delayed. Now when the brethrens in the Palestinian resistance and especially Hamas found the formula appropriate, a great achievement and an opportunity, the swap was completed. We hold discussions with the brethrens in Hamas. I was among the persons who used to go for making a swap as soon as possible. I used to tell them: Gilaad Shaleet is alive now. Suppose that he got sick. Let's say he choked to death. In case he died his worth will differ. So far the Israelis failed to specify his location and restore him. However if a technical mistake took place – May Allah forbids - and Israel could restore him in a security operation. That'll be catastrophic. So it's not true that time plays a role to the interest of the Palestinian resistance. Completing a swap in a near time with the highest ceiling is a recommended achievement in all cases. Here I assert to you and to the audience on behalf of the brethrens in Hamas that the swap took place apart from any political considerations to the effect of its timing. Its considerations are mere humanistic.

Batoul Ayoub: Before moving to a break and to wrap the Palestinian file, I have a question: Following this achievement which reactivated greatly the choice of resistance, how do you see the future of the Palestinian cause in the light of a two-state-solution and Mahmoud Abbass' vigor activity in the United Nations?

Sayyed Nasrallah: As for the two-state-solution, I do not believe there is another viewpoint. It will not pass in the Security Council. The US Veto is announced and ready. Thus all US efforts to better its image are flopping. One of the most important reasons for its flop is its absolute commitment to Israel whether on the security, political, economic or military levels. So all US logic on democracy, human rights, respecting peoples and the wills of people collapse and its falsity and hypocrisy are disclosed when it comes to Palestine. The independent Palestinian states in 1967 in the Security Council will meet the US veto with no doubt. However if it will pass, that'll be in the General Assembly. I believe if it reached there for voting it might pass. As for the Palestinian cause in general, I believe that the movement taking place in the region is for the interest of the Palestinian cause. Today Egypt is another Egypt, Libya is another Libya, Tunisia is another Tunisia, Yemen will be another Yemen and Bahrain will be another Bahrain. Consequently, there is a great movement in the region. The Americans or the west will not be able to prevent the Libyan or Egyptian or Tunisian people from expressing their convictions. They were not neutral. They were rather prevented from expressing their convictions and viewpoints on the Arab-Israeli struggle. This is acknowledged by the Israelis. So the term of 'Israel's strategic environment' in the region has changed dramatically against the interest of Israel. That is in addition to international changes noticeably the financial and economic situation in America and the European states. The state of Israel is a fabricated entity. It lives to a considerable extent on aids. It is a state with a definite employment. If the priorities of those who employed it changed and are not able to supply it with power and the elements of strength, I believe that Israel will move towards more feebleness, weakness and loss of choices. Consequently, there will be new, great and positive gates opened before the Palestinian people to restore their land and sanctities Inshallah.

Batoul Ayoub: How does Hezbollah approach the situation in Syria? Does Hezbollah anticipate the end of the crisis there soon? We will have the answer of Hezbollah after a short break.

Batoul Ayoub: Your Eminence, we came to the Syrian file. Everyone is waiting to know frankly and with transparency Hezbollah's approach of the situation in Syria. According to what norms Hezbollah made this approach in which Hezbollah seems to be playing a solo?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Well good. On this issue we will talk with transparency, clarity and responsibility. Some always try to say we have double standards. I made a speech during the anniversary of the martyrdom of our teacher Sayyed Abbass Mussawi in Nabi Sheath town in which I said that our position from the Arab popular movements and revolutions is based on clear and permanent norms. I then mentioned 3 or 4 norms to avoid any kind of duality. We said that our norm is the following: First, what are the stance, relation and position of the regime from the US-Israeli project in the region? The regime might be submissive to the US will and serves the US project in the region. This is one case. There is another case in which the regime might not be submissive or subordinate or serves the US project. There is a third case which is even better. That's when the regime rejects and opposes US conditions and even stands in face of the US-Israeli project in various shapes. So the first point that counts is the position of the regime. No one might neglect this point or else he'll be unfair. So the essential point is the position of the regime. Second comes the willingness of the head of the regime to make reforms. If the regime is first subordinate to the US project and second unserious and unwilling to make reforms and people revolted against it, we will stand with these people. That is very natural. Under all norms, considerations and criteria we can't but stand by their side. There is no pretext and it will be illogical for us not to be by their side. Thus I asked a while ago those who are not with the Bahraini people, why aren't they with the people of Bahrain?

As for the Syrian issue and via implementing these norms we first ask: Is this an opposing regime? Yes it is an opposing regime and anyone who has an argument, let him argue with me. We all recall that in 1982 at least when the Americans came with the project of liquidating the Palestinian dome, turning Lebanon to another Israel and imposing a settlement in the region, Syria stood to support the resistance movements in Lebanon and Palestine, and we could topple this project. In the past decade, the same thing took place. There was an American project of a Neo Middle East. Syria was among the states which stood in face of the project and helped in toppling it and flopping the project of a Neo Middle East. That is not to the interest of the Syrian people only but also to the interest of the peoples of the region and the interest of the Arab and Islamic nation. Syria was among the states which took this stance at a very advanced stage. We all recall that following the occupation of Iraq, Colin Powell came with an endless list and threatened President Bashar Assad. This President did not submit and did not feel afraid saying that the Americans are now in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. There is no Soviet Union. There is US hegemony over the world. So "let me like the other Arab regimes find a way out for my dilemma". He did not act as such and preserved his stance beside the resistance movement in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq which is a very sensitive issue. Well in Palestine, the story is well known; there is Israel and there is Arab consensus on the issue of Palestine. However in Iraq there is direct confrontation with the Americans. Perhaps President Assad is the only Arab president who used to talk about Iraq saying "Iraqi Resistance". So he did not accept all of these conditions and he did not submit. During July War in 2006, before the war and after the war, the Syrian regime and the leadership in Syria were always subject to pressure, remained steadfast and are a partner in the victory of the resistance movements. For controversy, some say why there is not Resistance in Golan? There is an answer for that and the Syrians give it. However, it is enough that Syria stood by the resistance in Lebanon and the resistance in Palestine and the resistance in Iraq. This stance, support and commitment were decisive. That means it was a secondary helping factor. It was a decisive helping factor in the victories which were made in all these fields. So this regime had made all of these things. Are we not to call it a resisting opposing regime? What do we call it then? What did we keep for other regimes? So this regime is resisting and opposing. This is number one.

Second, since the first day of the opposing popular movement, President Assad and the leadership in Syria said we are ready and we believe in reform. We take it for granted that there are great mistakes and his speech in the university was clear. He talked of great numbers and mistakes which need to be addressed and causes which must be confronted. He is serious about reforms, is capable of making reform and started with making reform. However the confrontation took another track. Internal confrontation commenced as well as foreign pressures. It became clear that what is demanded in Syria is not reform or achieving democracy. It is rather toppling the resisting opposing regime. Here I am saying this and I am responsible of what I am saying. Let the whole world hear: Now if President Bashar Assad went to the Americans and offered his obedience, the issue would be settled in Syria. In fact, the Americans remained with Husni Mubarak to the very last moment. They tolerated Ghaddafi to the last moment. They stayed with Zein Al Aabideen Bin Ali to the last moment. In Bahrain they are still with the regime. Even in Yemen, you may ask the Yemeni opposition. They will speak to you of the US position which supports the current Yemeni regime. So the problem with the Americans was never with democracy, freedoms and reform. This speech is baseless. What counts is whether the regime is in harmony with them or not. The goal in Syria is toppling the regime which has this stance and bringing along a regime with a different stance.

Thus what does the Syrian opposition which says it is an internal opposition say about the Palestinian issue and the national issue? It almost has no speech to this effect. Why? That's because they do not want to bother the Americans. Some of the opposition figures in fact have relations and contacts with the Americans. This exists in Wikileaks and no one has extracted it! I do not want to argue because I do not categorize all opposition movements alike. Opposition movements vary. However what I want to say is that according to the second norm, there is a regime which wants to make reforms. Still the situation went in the track of confrontation. So it became clear that the goal is not reform. In fact, no level of reform will be accepted from this regime because what is demanded is changing the regime and toppling it.

The third point which is important and which I want to pose at is the will of the Syrian people. Let's see what the will of the Syrian people is. The will of overwhelming majority of the people of Bahrain is well known. The same applies to the overwhelming majority of the Libyan people, the Egyptian people and the Yemeni people. That's clear. Now what about the will of the overwhelming majority of the Syrian people? We have seen demonstrations in support of the regime and President Bashar Assad and reforms. I'm not speaking of a demonstration of millions and the like. Hundreds of thousands demonstrated. They are expressing the viewpoint of people who exist. It is known that in Syria the largest cities are Damascus and Aleppo. Even before, massive pro-reforms demonstrations took place in most of the Syrian cities. Are those from among the Syrian people or not? Is that Syria or not? Shall I back this people or not? What I know through indications and information, through following up, through acquaintances and through our contact with the various sections of the Syrian people – We have diversified friendships in Syria. Even those who have nothing to do with the regime or who don't have good ties with the regime were open to us and are still because the resistance was a unifying characteristic – is that the majority of the Syrian peopled are with the reforms. Consequently, I am in harmony with this norm and in harmony with the will of the Syrian people. This people have stood with their leadership – meaning President Bashar Assad. Syria remained steadfast in the hardest ten years which have ever passed. He remained steadfast in face of the US attack to have control over the region. Would have he been able to remain steadfast if his people were not with him? So thanks for this people this regime could remain steadfast in face of the US project. This people along with its regime stood by the resistance in Lebanon during the days of July War. They received tens of thousands of displace at least. They are also saying we want this regime who wants to carry on reforms. No one is saying - not even President Bashar Assad or anyone else in Syria – we want to stay as we are. Never! Everyone is saying we want reforms. Everyone is saying there are mistakes, and everyone is saying we need time and cooperation for treatment.

I wrap up the stance saying: We are not with toppling a regime which is resisting, opposing and ready for reform and has started with reform. We are doing so for the interest of the Syrian people because the alternative which the west and the other camp want seeks to take Syria to a regime which succumbs to the US will and gives Israel what it wants such as the so called Arab moderate regimes. This will not be to the interest of the Syrian people or the position of Syria and its regional and national importance. The other option is that it will take Syria to civil war or would lead Syria to division. So when I become loving and caring to the Syrian people, I must stand and say that it is forbidden to take the Syrian people to results or situations which are not to the interest of the security, stability, the political, regional and national value and national unity of Syria. That's because the strength of this people is in their national unity. Consequently and frankly what is demanded in Syria is calmness and stepping out of the street, stopping any kind of conflict and confrontation, going to the dialogue table and cooperating to carry on reforms. In our view point, the interest of the nation, the interest of the resistance, the interest of confronting the US-Israeli project and the interest of the Syrian people is in that. Thus we have this clear and transparent stance. Others differ with us in the viewpoint. I have argued with many of them. Some people also sent me messages. So we are ready for discussion. We are ready to talk with precision and according to facts and figures. What is in fact taking place in Syria? Even a considerable part of what is said in media outlets is groundless pursuant to the magnitude of the popular movement in Syria and the nature and magnitude of clashes which take place. I am very much interested in the issue. I will give an example. They said that in so and so city, there is a massive demonstration. There is fighting. There are martyrs and wounded. We in Lebanon know as we are "one people in two countries". People talk to each other. We peek at the country whether through the Lebanese media outlets or through friends or through acquaintances. They would say there is nothing at all. There are no demonstrations or clashes. On the contrary there is traffic jam, people are crowded, and there is much noise.

If someone wants to go to Damascus, he would be scared to do so when he watches some Arab satellites. He would be afraid and he would think that Damascus is wrecked whereas the situation is natural there. People are living normally. The situation is normal. It's calm in most of the regions in Syria. True there are some tension zones but after all this is an internal affair in which I do not want to interfere. Thus this is our stance and this is our norm. It's the same norm and the unity of norms is prevalent over our stance from all the Arab revolutions. Consequently through this viewpoint we see the interest of Lebanon, the interest of the nation, the interest of the project of the resistance, the interest of confronting the Zionist project and the interest of the Syrian people and Syria's position. Thus calmness prevails in Syria, people go to dialogue and reforms are carried out.

Batoul Ayoub: Is that why you work to protect the regime in Syria by dispatching thousands of fighters to defend keeping the regime of Bashar Assad steadfast and in power according to many accusation which were denied by Hezbollah but still there is insistence and assertions on these information. Does that have any grounds?

Sayyed Nasrallah: This is sheer falsehood and fabrication. I have previously commented on that. Unfortunately some people who call themselves Islamists and fear Allah insist on this accusation. Well let them present their proof and evidence. This is absolutely untrue. There are no thousands or a thousand or even half a soldier. In this issue we do not interfere at all. We have a political stance which we express in a political stance. We have a media stance and we work to illustrate, explain, clarify and help in clarifying the image in Syria where we find fit through our political relations. We also try to correct the vision and options in this direction. As for approaching any field affair, that is absolutely baseless. Moreover, those who talked about that said that the regime will fall in two weeks but the regime did not fall. This was said eight months ago, then in the month of Ramadan. Now they say information says so. The US Ambassador who talks with March 14 Bloc – who do not have by now but their bargain on the ousting of the situation in Syria – tells them that the issue will not be over in weeks or months. See they started talking about a year and two years. The regime in Syria or the leadership in Syria or the followers and backers of this choice in Syria are not weak to the extent of demanding from Hezbollah or others to send them men or fighters or the like. This is not true. This is invalid by all means.

Batoul Ayoub: Did you start feeling that the popularity of Hezbollah is retreating in the Arab and Islamic world as a result of these positions which you always take pains to explain?

Sayyed Nasrallah: There are usually main principles. Man must be committed to his principles. The man who believes that he is a part of a great confrontation project at the level of the nation – This is one of the faults some in March 14 Bloc find in us. It's that Hezbollah is part of this nation. This has become a shame for some of the Lebanese – must be committed to his principles apart from the fact if people understood him or nor or whether his popularity retreats or not. That's because this is not his target. Now we have gained great respect in the Arab and Islamic world due to our resistance and steadfastness. But did we resist to gain respect? No! We fought to liberate our land, to defend our nation and to topple a serious US project of hegemony in the region. Now if people hailed us we will be grateful. Indeed we care for people's respect, adoration and understanding. This is important to us but this is not what rules our performance and political conduct especially if we were talking about great interests and principles. I recall that when America invaded and occupied Iraq, I gave a speech and Hezbollah had its stance. Our media outlets had an anti-war stance. People started criticizing us in a bad way. They said that we are with Saddam Hussein. We paid the price of our stance against the US war and invasion of Iraq. Some Shiites criticized us as well as some Sunnites and Christians. However when we took our antiwar stance, we were committed to our principles. We could see that the goal from the war was occupying Iraq and dividing the region and the Neo Middle East. Today I say again that the risks of the US war on Iraq were overcome because of the awareness, will and resistance of the Iraqi people or else Iraq would have ended in the grip of the USA. The Iraqi people offered at least hundreds of thousands of martyrs and millions of displaced. Were the Christians only displaced? A considerable number of Shiites were displaced and a great number of Sunnites were displaced though Christian displacement was prominent because the number of Christians is not very great. We took our stance and there was great division in the nation. Moreover, there were Islamist movements there of the same origin. Some were with and some were against. Quarrels and media campaigns were launched. So when I am in a place when I see the whole scene and there are principles, I remain committed to my commitments. Now my commitment to my principles in this period of time will influence the understanding of some sides and their respect. They are free to respect us or not. We respect ourselves and are in harmony with ourselves, belief, religion and values. When we are in harmony with our principles, I have no worry as far as this issue is concerned. Now did Hezbollah's popularity retreat or not, well no one carried out polls. However it is normal that in files where there is sharp division over them on the level of the nation, the stance you take in some direction will influence your position according to those who moved on the other direction.

Batoul Ayoub: There is today an Arab movement taken by the Arab League. There is an Arab delegation headed by Qatar who is seeking to visit Syria in an expected visit Wednesday. Syria welcomed this visit. If we tackled the political track of this crisis, are you hopeful as far as this Arab movement to address this crisis is concerned? Do you bargain on the Arab role in this crisis?

Sayyed Nasrallah: I prefer to wait the meetings that will take place in Damascus. That's because some Arab movement pressure forcefully in the direction of toppling the regime and not in the direction of achieving reforms. I have said whom the toppling of the regime serves whereas whom reforms in the regime serve. The latter serves the Syrian people, the resistance and the region. Some Arabs forcefully move in the other direction. They at times practice political, sectarian and factional instigations in that direction. There were attempts in the Arab League to freeze the membership of Syria and to isolate it on the Arab level. However they flopped. Let's see on Wednesday whether this movement is positive or negative.

Batoul Ayoub: Do you put this movement in the framework of acknowledging the Syrian National Council for example – meaning acknowledging the opposition inside and abroad in an attempt to provide an Arab cover for a western intervention?

Sayyed Nasrallah: The Arab League did not make an acknowledgement of this kind. I also believe that the composition of this committee and the partaking states enjoy a kind of balance and positivism. So let's talk about positivism more that negativity. We hope Inshallah that our Arab brethrens understand the situations and play a helping role to achieve security, stability to the welfare of Syria and in support of reform.

Batoul Ayoub: It seems that you are talking with optimism and positivism about this Arab movement. Do you believe that Syria have overcome the harder stage? You have said previously that should Syria overcome this stage, it will emerge stronger than the challenge. Now and months after the crisis, had Syria overcome the stage of danger?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We may say that to a great degree. No one may talk decisively. Syria is still subject to pressure. On the inner scene, the popular movement is on its least level; however, some are moving towards armed action and this is dangerous. In some regions, things would have taken a dangerous inclination was it not for the precise treatment on behalf of the leadership in Syria. However, what is worse is the foreign pressure and talking about sanctions and siege. A while ago we have watched in the news how the Americans withdrew their ambassador for security reasons. Syria as well responded by withdrawing its ambassador in Washington for consultations. This expresses their firmness and strength. So they did not keep their ambassador in Washington. They withdrew him for consultations. This is an indication of strength and not of weakness. As a result of the seriousness of the regime, the existence of a very strong and a very broad popular base which is with reforms and also the perception of a great section of the Syrian people of the risks resulting from some tracks which some want to impose on Syria, I believe that they have overcome that to a very far extent. However, more efforts need to be exerted. Indeed making haste in reforms is necessary. See the steps they commenced with: forming a committee for drafting a new constitution and the upcoming parliamentary elections. Indeed when the Syrian people see that the Law of Parties is a serious law, the Law of Media is a serious law that will help in canceling the remaining percentage of risks.

Batoul Ayoub: What about the risks coming from abroad? Those who made the military sample work in Libya are tickled by making this work in Syria. They go for the possibility of repeating this scenario in Syria. Do you find these risks serious and actual?

Sayyed Nasrallah: At one stage, they talked about repeating this scenario, and it flopped at its local section at least. However, there is a big difference. First, the popular stance in Syria is different in the sense that there is still a popular majority with the regime while in Libya the popular majority was against the regime in a tough and sharp way. The second point is "It may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you". The enemy is always a reason for wrath. However at time geography is helpful. The existence of Syria in the neighborhood of the Israeli entity – the so called the state of Israel – makes the Americans and the NATO hesitant – I am not saying that it prevents – about taking a military act against Syria. That is not for the sake of Syria or its people or to spare its blood or for the sake of freedoms but rather for fear that an attack on Syria would lead to regional developments which might harm Israel and hurl the region in a very enormous regional war. So because the priority of America and NATO in the region is Israel above all, I rule out – I don't want to be decisive – a military action against Syria.

Batoul Ayoub: Do you expect that the crisis lasts for long on the light of this analysis of the situation in Syria?

Sayyed Nasrallah: This has to do with the treatments taking place. There are very great efforts exerted in Syria. Politicians and religious scholars have honorable positions. That's besides the integrity of the military institution and the openness taking place within the civil society. Things need time but I can't set a time for you.

Batoul Ayoub: Lebanon is not detached from these developments especially with the involvement of some groups in smuggling arms and supporting and showing sympathy to the Syrian opposition. Do you expect that to have negative reflections on the relative stability in Lebanon?

Sayyed Nasrallah: As for Lebanon and Syria, we all know that our security is one. It is supposed that all the Lebanese take this for granted. Some neglect that. The security of Lebanon is from Syria and the security in Syria is from Lebanon. This is unquestionable. What is taking place in Syria is definitely reflected in Lebanon, and what used to take place in Lebanon used to be reflected definitely on Syria? Thus when the Lebanese said they wanted to keep Lebanon apart from this struggle that was a sound position. As for politics, let everyone say what he wants. The same applies on the media level. However, on the battlefield, let's keep Lebanon aside. This has to do with the study on frontiers and violations. Today March 14 Bloc say the Lebanese government or the Lebanese state is not fully assuming its responsibility as it is not taking a stance from the so called Syrian violations on the Lebanese frontiers. We approach this file with one glance. First, is Syria a friend or a foe? On the official level, they say it's the state of law and institutions. No Lebanese government ever categorized Syria as an enemy. Some political forces categorized it as an enemy. However the official stance never categorized Syria as an enemy but rather as a friend. So you are imposing your convictions on the state. They criticize us saying we impose our convictions on the state. In fact, you oppose the convictions of the state. The official institutions in Lebanon say that Syria is a friend and not a foe. The official institutions in Lebanon label Israel as a foe and not a friend. Let's see according to the international law and norms, when an enemy breaches the borders, how do people act and when a friend breaches the border how do men of the state act? Do they act as March 14 Bloc are acting? No, when an enemy makes a violation, statements and condemnations are issued besides raising a complaint to the Security Council as well as taking field measures. March 14 Bloc is totally foreign to that because in the deep recesses of its mind it does not deal with Israel as a foe. I will not say it considers Israel as a friend. Deep inside they do not see Israel as an enemy. That's why the decisive violations which are confirmed by the UNIFIL do not find any reaction on behalf of March 14. According to international norms, at least when there are borders between two states and if one state while pursuing some wanted for example, it violated the borders, they send a delegate and address the issue. That's because they are two friendly states. They do not make a media and political campaign and demagogy against the other state as March 14 forces are calling on the government of Najeeb Mikati to do. This is unfair and incorrect. If Syria is a friend and a violation was made on the borders we do not make a big story about it in Lebanon. We rather go to the friend and tell them we hope this issue is addressed. Second as we call on the Lebanese government to treat the Syrian violations – in case they are taking place – the Lebanese violations – namely smuggling fighters and weapons - must be addressed. That is confirmed. In my opinion this is confirmed. Why when the Lebanese government or the Lebanese security apparatuses arrest an arm dealer or smuggler they make big fuzz about it? So they want to condemn Syria for breaches which it's not known if they are taking place or not. I also add that today you are calling on the government of PM Mikati to take a stance from the breaches. Well who says they took place? Did March 14 Bloc send a committee to the border which saw that breaches took place here and there? First, there are some regions which aren't delineated. In other places the borders are not clear. Second, no official or neutral side said or was decisive on violations taking place on the border. Still suppose that a breach took place at the border. How is that to be addressed? It is addressed as the government did. It dispatched a senior security delegate to Damascus to hold talks with Syrian officials to discuss means of addressing the issue. Thus I hope that Lebanon is kept apart especially on the field level. I also call on every Lebanese through his friendships and relations to push things in Syria towards dialogue, negotiations, concurrence, peacemaking and reform. This is better for Lebanon and for all the political forces in Lebanon. As for those who make their considerations on the basis on toppling the regime in Syria believing that will be for the interest of Lebanon, they are mistaken and adventurers at the same time. So I hope they will reconsider this issue.

Batoul Ayoub: We usher into the Lebanese issue in details by listening to the evaluation of Hezbollah of the experience of the government and shedding light on the ministerial solidarity within the government.

Batoul Ayoub: Your Eminence! The Lebanese issue is the hot issue. Everyone is waiting to hear your answers tonight and your approach to this issue, your evaluation of the experience of the government after about four months. Are we before the government of Hezbollah?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Indeed we are not before the government of Hezbollah. This is a direct answer. However, unfortunately the other party and since the first day on which the government was formed tried to say that this is the government of Hezbollah. However they could not promote this issue for long. The issue was over. Only a few talk about that now. That's because as for the formation, if there is a ruling party as they say, such a party in any place in the world can in two or three days form a government. It wouldn't have taken four or five months of discussions and arguments from various political sides. The Premier, the President and the heads of parliamentary blocs were all influential in forming the government. They were decisive and essential. And later discussing the ministerial statement, the amendments which took place and all the sessions that took place up till now give an impression. Let me give a true description though anyway they already did that. General Aoun days ago talked about this description and I believe that Mr. Walid Jumblat tackled this issue. So more than one side said that the government is tantamount to various and diversified political forces which have their vision, specialties and priorities. This description is valid. This leads us to say that today all the forces partaking in the government say that this government is not the government of Hezbollah. So within the government there are diversified views and a rich discussion. Yes some try to classify this discussion as clashes or conflicts. On the contrary, in fact discussion is demanded. If the government of Hezbollah enjoys this level of democracy, discussion, multiple views, affinity and conversation that is great. That means that Hezbollah is not a dictator party. This is the fact about the government. Consequently and unfortunately today if the government moved all in one line they say Hezbollah is the ruler of the government and people do not have any will and things are moving rapidly. If discussion, conversation, diversity and at times differences in view points take place, they talk about clashes and the lack of ministerial solidarity and governmental combat and that the government will burst from within. This description is not true and precise. I conclude saying we are before a national government which represents the parliamentary majority and popular majority. It truly consists of diversified political forces which have their viewpoints and priorities which might meet at times and differ at others.

Batoul Ayoub: Are you satisfied with the experience of this government taking into consideration the achievements and performance of the government during these four months?

Sayyed Nasrallah: They are less than four months. It is natural that when we try or evaluate this government, we must be aware first of the fact that this government is assuming the responsibility of the Lebanese situation which the successive governments inherited enormous debts, terrific crises, vast vacancies in administration, and the lack of a vision on the economic and social levels. This government has inherited all these great crises. Now the government must address them. We as well as all the Lebanese aspire that the best achievement be made, the utmost effort be exerted and the best results be yielded. Still if we looked at the government taking into consideration its variety, construction and the discussions taking place within it, we would come to know what this government has achieved within a hundred days or a bit more. I will mention a number of rapid topics. However what I know and I was informed of by my brethren ministers during the last session is that PM Mikati or the President of the Republic called on the ministers to show up and explain to the people what the government has done during these hundred days. Well I will offer my help though I am not an official governmental spokesman but rather an observer or a partner in the government and make the following conclusion:

First, for the first time we have a rectified power plan. So it was endorsed in the cabinet and referred to the Parliament and was the subject of broad discussion. So for the first time we have a power plan about to be implemented Inshallah. This is a very great achievement as we are talking about a hundred-day-old-government which observed light in difficult local, regional and international conditions and is being subject to pressures and intimidation.

Second, this might be the first government that receives an elections law two years prior to the date of elections. Almost always in Lebanon, the elections law used to be handed months before the date of the elections. Now the Interior ministry handed the elections law. Now will the political forces accept it or not this is another field of discussion. However, today the government distributed this draft and the discussion over it will be wrapped in the government and this is an achievement.

Third, the Ministry of Finance presented a budget draft law. For years we used not to have a budget. That means that the government is committed to the law and is establishing a state of law and is working according to the law. Now the Finance Minister did his obligations. Well will the various sides in the government agree on some taxes or not or on the issue of financing the STL this is something else. However today we have a budget which was distributed on the ministers, and consequently, it is about to be under discussion. As for nominations, there is huge disorder in administration where the government took the initiative to make important nominations and will carry with this issue. Indeed this needs discussion because this is the structure in Lebanon: sectarianism and sectarian and factional distribution of posts and the commitment of the government to the mechanism endorsed by the previous government. All of that is tantamount to an evidence of impartiality. That's because some political forces have no representatives or first, second, third or even ordinary employees in the administration. Still these political forces have a golden opportunity to bring in employees of their political belongings to the administration. However, they accepted to adhere to the mechanism and this is an evidence of impartiality. There is special care in living, social and economic affairs. Take for an example approaching the file of the poorest families. Though it is still at its early stages and it needs a ministerial decision, however, it was adopted and it is moving on. Even more, in most ministries there are achievements on the national level. The ministers are concerned in explaining and interpreting these achievements to the people. One of the most important achievements of this government is the security stability prevailing in the country. After all, the Lebanese Army, the security and military institutions and the governmental administration are an interacting issue. Today we have excellent security stability under the tensed situation in the entire region compared to the situations in other places.

One of the brethren ministers told me that during these hundred days this government discussed and took 1100 decision. Indeed there are small issues while others are great. That means that the government is effective and fruitful in the affairs of administration, the state and the people. So in general, we have a fruitful government which has made achievements. Should some political forces say that is not enough, they have the right to say so. However, if I am to evaluate and if we went back in history in Lebanon, rarely did a government achieve in such a short period of time and under such local, regional and international conditions what the current government has achieved.

Batoul Ayoub: In a show of being fair and not in a show of overbidding, some say that achievements of this government are great and numerous to the extent that – and they give as an example – the President of the Republic and the Premier are showing interest even in voting for Jeita Grotto so that it be counted among the Seven Wonders of the World among the prominent and noticeable Lebanese interest in this tourist landmark. Do you encourage that?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We are with them as far as this issue is concerned. That's because this is a governmental inclination and all the forces are partners in it. In my turn, I call on the Lebanese to partake in voting for supporting this project so that Jeita Grotto be counted among the World Wonders. In fact, it is among the World Natural Wonders. Some find in it a tourist aspect. That is true but we find in it a manifestation of Allah's Names and Attributes. We support this inclination as it indeed is beneficiary to Lebanon on the moral, value, economic and tourist level. Thus I add my voice to the voices of the presidents and ministers and support the Minister of Tourism and call on the Lebanese to partake in the vote because they might still be in need for some thousand votes. So it is good that all brethrens and sisters who hear us partake in this issue.

Batoul Ayoub: Your Eminence, in the framework of talking about the evaluation of the governmental performance and before tackling Hezbollah's relation with the Premier, it is inevitable to ask about the relation of Hezbollah with one of the members of the Medial Bloc – the President of the Republic. How is your relation today?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Even the Premier categorizes himself as medial.

Our relation with the President is good. There is continuous contact. This prevails. There is no disconnection. There are conversations and talks over the essential and sensitive issues. There is also sincerity. You know that especially over the resistance the President always has clear and great stances. Even during his latest speech in the UN he was very clear over this issue.

Batoul Ayoub: What about your relation with Premier Najeeb Mikati? Are you satisfied with the way he approaches topics?

Sayyed Nasrallah: The same thing applies here. That is certain as Premier Mikati was our choice. We have supported this choice and we do not feel remorse for this choice. Now we are with this choice. Consequently, when I talk about the achievements of the government, no doubt the President, the Premier as well as the ministers who represent the political forces are all partners in making these achievements. He who is in the post of the first principle and the first to be concerned has the most virtues.

Batoul Ayoub: We do not want to move over the various files in a hurry. Your Eminence, we will take about how you will support PM Mikati as far as financing the STL is concerned in a while. But now what about the relation of Hezbollah with its allies especially that recently there are talks about nonchalance prevailing in the relation between the National Free Movement and Hezbollah. How much is this precise and is there nonchalance or difference really?

Sayyed Nasrallah: First and in general our relation with all the allies is excellent. In fact, our relation is strategic and is based on visions, understandings and principles. I would like to appease everyone to this effect. In fact there is a real problem in Lebanon because much of what is written, said or broadcasted is groundless. At times a story might be true but they exaggerate it. At other a story might be groundless; still it is evoked and exaggerated too. Anyway, the allies have shown in the past stage and in the current stage their steadfastness, clarity, stance and sincerity especially that some allies were not practically represented in the government but still they support it and bargain on it. That's because they support the great and broad national inclination which the government expresses one way or another. So as far as the allies are concerned, everything which is said on nonchalance here or tension there is invalid. The second point which I would like to tackle is similar to what I said about the government. When we talk about Hezbollah, Amal movement, the National Free Movement and other forces or parties we are not talking about one party. We are rather talking about various political movements, parties and forces. That means that there are common points and fixed principles but indeed there are differences in some stances and visions and perhaps in expressions and terms. At times there might be more keenness. At other times there might be more calmness. That has to do with the various topics. This exists or else we would have been one party. So since we – meaning the previous opposition and the current loyalists as I do not call it March 8 Bloc since the National Free Movement was not in March 8 Bloc beside other forces. So let's call ourselves the current loyalists – are not one party, it is natural that there be differences over some viewpoints and issues. As for the National Free Movement, there isn't any nonchalance or disorder in our relation. On the contrary, the relation is strong and effective. We continually hold contacts and discussions. Ipso facto this is not limited to the National Free Movement. However, now in the government we go over diversified files, topics and issues which we have not discussed before as most of what we are facing today in the government is not mentioned in the Agreement Paper. These are all new topics for the National Free Movement, for us and for the other political forces represented in the government. Still and unfortunately there is a mechanism in the Lebanese governments in Lebanon in general which do not give time for discussion. That means that 48 hours prior to the session they distribute the agenda which consists of 80 or 90 points. They provide the minister with a huge file. So the minister himself fails to have sufficient acquaintance with the issues. The political force the minister represents also does not have enough time to discuss the agenda according to its convictions and views besides coordination with other political parties. Indeed we try to coordinate with each other on all topics but at times for the lack of time and the intensity of files and discussions which take place, there might emerge some persons with high voices and others with lower voices. We might also see some persons who are more enthusiastic about a definite topic than others. Thus I believe that this is a sign of life and vigor. However this is not limited to our relation with the National Free Movement but to all the components of the government. There are many issues which we can't as a party give our ministers our viewpoint on so that they express it in the government. Thus one of the points that the brethrens evoke is that some issues be distributed a week or two ahead of the session including the primary and great plans. As for the secondary issue, there is no problem if they were distributed 48 hours ahead. But that doesn't work with sensitive and critical issues. This is the magnitude of the issue with utmost transparency.

Batoul Ayoub: What about your relation with MP Walid Jumblat especially after your last meeting?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Al Manar will also host General Aoun. Ask him then as I believe he talks with transparency. When General Aoun talks about differences in viewpoints and priorities saying that some have more inclinations to this viewpoint while others move more to the other direction that does not mean that there is nonchalance in the relation but rather we are discussing this issue as political forces partaking in the government. I also want to highlight a final point which is that we are moving in a government that comprises a number of components. When moving in some files – I don't say we have the priority of preserving the government in all issues. I rather am saying that it is inevitable that we take into consideration the ability to preserve the government with its current components and at the same time make the utmost number of achievements that are to the interest of the Lebanese people and the state of Lebanon while observing the nature of the existing composition in the government.

Batoul Ayoub: Will Hezbollah manage to pass these two points and find a balance between them? I want your answer but after tackling your relation with the Socialist Progressive Party and MP Walid Jumblat.

Sayyed Nasrallah: The statement which was issued following our meeting talked about a strategic alliance and a strategic relation. In all cases, we are not one party. There are points which we have common views on and others on which we have different views. When we met, Bey Walid said his view points and I said my viewpoints. He had his evidences and I had mine. We differed over some points and we met on others. However that does not mean conflict and struggle. We are forces which exist within a current parliamentary majority and within a current government. We are interested in observing this relation, dialogue and agreement on the greatest number of issues as well as on cooperation. This is the truth about the current relation.

Batoul Ayoub: Have you sensed the intention of re-localization?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Not at all! I only say that this exists in some media outlets only and in some saloons. I did not sense anything of that kind at all.

Batoul Ayoub: Your Eminence, when tackling the achievements of the government you did not talk about the security achievement. Do you see that the government has made a security achievement? Do you see that there is steady security stability in the country or are you dissatisfied with the situations?

Sayyed Nasrallah: There is security stability under this government and to be fair there was security stability under the former government. So at least under the former and the current governments there has been security stability. Now we are talking about the current government. Security stability still exists. Thus we see the advancement of economy and tourism. Indeed they were influenced by what is taking place in the environment. However, the conferences which were supposed to take place in Lebanon are taking place in Lebanon currently. Many come from abroad on the Arab, regional and international levels. If anyone around the world nurtures a sense of insecurity, he wouldn't come to Lebanon to hold conferences. This is regional and international evidence on security stability. True personal incidents occur. This has always taken place in Lebanon under all governments. This occurs all around the world. We see how the European states or the USA are presented as oases of security. I can make a challenge and let them carry on polls. In Lebanon with its small area and little population, the number of personal incidents is less than any American state and even much less than the city of Washington or New York alone. So these personal incidents must not lead us to conclude that Lebanon is not a secure country. Yes and unfortunately the political forces in the framework of their struggles and conflicts exaggerate and magnify the small incidents as means of targeting the other party politically. That exists but I believe there is a high level of security stability in the country and there is no need to worry in this perspective.

Batoul Ayoub: Your Eminence, Hezbollah is accused of muddling this calmness and relative stability in the sense that you are arming your allies in the North and settling security zones what held some deputies in Tripoli to threat to hit the street for example.

Sayyed Nasrallah: In general, our common policy is not to answer the current of accusations we receive. That's because if we are to answer all what is said by some deputies from the other bloc and its politicians, prepaid media outlets, websites and magazines, we would've needed to issue some 30 or 40 statements daily. That's because we meet a current of fabrications, lies and accusations the most of which is exaggerated. So if someone blocked the street, they accuse Hezbollah of blocking the streets. If someone opened fire, they accuse Hezbollah of opening fire noting that Hezbollah would be the side opened fire on. Thus we always used to avoid responding. However, as far as this issue is concerned and due to its sensitivity, I will answer. First, our common policy is not to comment on this great attack which is similar to a machine that works all day long. As for the North, the story has to do with the background. In Lebanon some talk about democracy, diversity and pluralism saying that we must have diversity in Lebanon and diversity within the sects as that makes richness. However within their sects they are unipolar. They can't tolerate diversity or pluralism. This is the truth. Consequently, we find that when there are other political forces whose popular status is improving, polarity is increasing and institutions are enlarging, they got mobilized on the spot. They view that from the perspective of ordeal as if it is the end of the world. This exists. Even worse, they approach the Shiite status – I will allow myself to talk with this rhetoric – with criticism saying there is Shiite duality at a time we are two and not one in fact. We are not one; we are two. Well at least accept the duality within your sects. In this case in particular as we are talking about the North, the Future Movement does not accept any duality. All through the past years, our brethrens in the Islamic and national forces which belonged to the former opposition and the current loyalists had been subject to aggressions whether through attacking their offices, opening fire on them or being terrorized on the media and psychological levels. They were accused of killing PM Rafiq Hariri during elections and at other occasions. They were isolated under sectarian and factional pretexts. They tolerated the intolerable all through the past years especially in the North. So the Future Movement does not tolerate dualism or pluralism and considers itself as the sole and only representative. What is taking place in the North now? As a result of the changes taking place in the Arab region, the defeat of the US project which influenced all the allies of America in the region and as a result of the change taking place in the country and the failure of the project of the other bloc and its performance and conduct which nurtures many points of weakness, there is a change in the Lebanese public opinion among which is a change in the public opinion in the North. So in the North, some political forces are enjoying better popular status. Thus they are confronting that with accusing Hezbollah of arming and erecting security zones. So I tell you this story is groundless. I heard of this story in the media. I even contacted my brethrens who are responsible of the political and organizational relations with these forces and asked them whether anything of that took place. Did you hand arms to anyone? They said this is untrue. So I assert decisively that this story is no more than a media, political and psychological attack to confront the ease, development and expansion of these political forces in the North.

Batoul Ayoub: Before these approaches and change in positions, where do you fit the speech of the Maronite Patriarch Bshara Rai? The positions and views he expressed led to a strong attack against him especially when talking about minorities which we tackled at the opening of our episode as well as the arms of Hezbollah. During his visit to an Ki-mon at the United Nations he tackled the arms of Hezbollah and approached this issue in a way many considered as positive. How did you approach that?

Sayyed Nasrallah: As for the attack on the Patriarch, it is unfair. I will not exaggerate and others had even said what I will say. In my opinion, the Patriarch gave a description. He did not say whether he supports or not, opposes or not. In all what he said, I believe he did not say what includes support to the regime in Syria or support to the arms of the resistance. So let's be fair and let's be objective and do not give things dimensions they can't bear. The Patriarch described outer facts through which he tackled worry in some places. Well several leaderships such as General Aoun and the National Free Movement, Bey Sleiman Franjiyeh and Al- Maradeh movement, Tashnaq Party, independent political figures, former and current ministers, former and current deputies and other political forces have always through the past years presented a reading on such topics. For example as far as the arms of the resistance is concerned, the Patriarch said that Hezbollah says that it is a resistance movement. So he did not say I, the Patriarch say that Hezbollah is a resistance movement. So I do not understand why they are attacking him. Is someone to be attacked in such a way when he describes a status quo? What if he said I consider Hezbollah a resistance movement? What would have they done then? To this effect and unfortunately some deputies from the Christians among March 14 Bloc gave speeches in which they want to rid the Patriarch from his Christianity. So the Patriarch said Hezbollah says it is a resistance movement and it wants to keep its weapons to liberate the remaining occupied Lebanese territories and to defend Lebanon. O international community! Pressure Israel to withdraw from the remaining occupied Lebanese territories. Arm the Lebanese Army to defend Lebanon. Then we shall go to Hezbollah and tell them there is no need for your arms. Eliminate all pretexts and excuses. What is the problem in such logic? As for Syria, the man talked about fears and he is rightful. So let no one insist stubbornly. Even those who met yesterday saying they do not want help from anyone need protection. All the peoples in the region need protection: Sunnites, Shiites, Alawis, Druze, Christians…We all need protection. This protection is provided by our unity, alliance and assuming responsibility. The region is worried. See what took place in Iraq. Where are the Christians of Iraq? As I said the number of Shiites is great and they could tolerate. The Sunnites showed tolerance. Turkmen and the Kurds tolerated. Those who were killed among Shiites and Sunnites are by far more than those who were killed among Christians. However due to their limited number, the displacement of Christians was overt. However there are displaced in Iraq as well as abroad. This causes caution really. Now should someone push the situations in Egypt or Syria – May Allah forbid – towards ordeal or civil war what would happen then? So he is rightful in being worried about the Christian existence. People have the right to be worried over their existence. So this is legitimate caution. Consequently, I call for treating the man evenly by reading what he said as he said it. Let us not give what the Patriarch said more than what he implied and thus let him negatively assume more than what he can tolerate. Let's be fair as far as this issue is concerned.

Batoul Ayoub: Your Eminence, before going to a break and talking about the STL, the prominent event last week was the visit made by a senior Hezbollah delegation to Moscow. In which framework do you put this visit which Hajj Mohammad Raad considered a founding visit? Does this visit pave the way to openness to the capitals of decision making such as China for example? What are the goals of the visit to Moscow?

Sayyed Nasrallah: For over a year, Loyalty to Resistance Bloc received a call from the Russian Douma to visit Russia. We were following up the issue with the Russian Embassy to set the appropriate date. There were several options concerning the timing and it was postponed until this timing. Unfortunately, many people imagine things, write them down and consider them facts while having no information at all. The visit to Russia came upon a Russian parliamentary call and it is an old call which was made even prior to the Arab revolutions, the Russian veto as far as the Syrian issue is concerned, the STL indictment and the toppling of the government of Saad Hariri. Now its due timing came, and the timing is excellent. Consequently, it is a founding visit because it is the first time a delegation of ours visits Russia, meets with officials whether in the Douma or the Foreign Ministry and discussions and exchange of view points take place. We have our viewpoints which we spoke out here. We let them hear our viewpoints directly. The most important point which was a point of consensus during the meeting was preserving security and stability in Lebanon and Syria as well as the positive aspects in the region. What was most important was standing in face of any foreign intervention that's because foreign intervention ruins the region and destroys it. Russia may play a sensitive role to this effect. As for China, the plan of going to china is an old plan and Inshallah soon a delegation will visit China. Visits to other states will be made and that will be announced later.

Batoul Ayoub: Before informing us about Hezbollah's stance from financing the STL, it is noticeable that financing the STL was the cause of political controversy for almost two months while Hezbollah was committed to the policy of silence. Why?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We adhered to this policy as a result of a definite vision. Since the very first day on which the government was formed, the other bloc threw before PM Mikati the issue of financing the STL. From the very first day they asked whether he will finance the STL or not. Notice that this issue was not evoked some four months ago. However now is its due time and its timing became proximate. In fact, through this issue they thought they could embarrass PM Mikati taking into consideration sectarian and factional considerations besides the international status. Well PM Mikati, what will you do as far as this issue is concerned? Ipso facto, PM Mikati has the right to answer and express this view point. He said his viewpoint and I know that is his viewpoint. He is saying his convictions as far as financing the STL is concerned. This is his right. Everyone who is convinced in financing the STL has the right to say his convictions. This is one of the characteristics of the current government. Even the President expressed this conviction. Now why were we silent? Indeed some political forces were asked and they gave their answers. As for us, our brethrens haven't had political interviews for a period of time. When we give speeches, we say what we want. We remained silent deliberately. That was not because we do not have a stance or we can't express our stance as it was clear that the other bloc wanted to drag the components of the government to a sharp and uproarious debate over a topic which is not due at the time being. That's because they try to make use of any topic that might cause disagreement, disagreement or a crisis of confidence among the components of the government. I reiterate that is their right. Let them do whatever they want. However we must not be dragged or fall in traps or tramp on mines which are erected for us.

We considered that this issue will take us to a debate which we can dispense with. Now let the whole world give speeches and issue a hundred or two hundred statements with or against funding the STL. Where will this decision be finally taken? In the government. When it comes to the government we will have our word. That's why we avoided going into an argument over this issue though today I will tell you our position.

Batoul Ayoub: Is it due time then that Hezbollah announces its stance from financing the STL?

Sayyed Nasrallah: It's strange. This does not need analysis, speculations or jurisprudence. Hezbollah's position does not need to be announced. Hezbollah does not agree and is against financing the STL. That is frankly speaking, and that is as a result of Hezbollah's reading of the STL and its backgrounds, the way it was established, the way it takes its decisions, its performance and conduct, its gaps and its targets. Hezbollah does not agree on this tribunal in principle, in general and in details. Ipso facto, Hezbollah is against financing the STL. However I will not go into an argument over that. I will only ask: Who will finance the STL? If anyone wanted to finance it from his own money, he is free to do so and this is up to him. Well I have no control over people's wealth. If financing will take place from the Lebanese Treasury which means the money of the people, who will take the decision? Either the government or the Parliament. So why do we argue and go into disputes in the media? Well soon the issue will reach the government at its first stage. In the government all political forces which are with or against will say their logic and give their evidences, and we are among these forces. We will then say to the President, the Premier and our fellow ministers that we are against financing the STL for such and such reasons. We will speak logic and give evidences: 1,2,3,4,5. They will give their evidences and talk about fears. Some political forces will interfere in the discussion. Some would want to discuss the legal and constitutional aspects of the STL while another group will talk apart from the legal and constitutional aspects of the STL. They rather would want to discuss the conduct and performance of the STL. A third party would want to discuss the exploitation of the STL. There are various points of discussion over this issue. So in principle, we – the callers for harmonious democracy - hope that this issue will be discussed in the government, and we are working to reach a consensus via our discussion in the government and through bilateral discussions outside the government. Well if no consensus was reached, it's not I or any minister who takes the decision for a vote. This is a decision to be taken by the head of the session, the President and the Premier. If they found out that discussion is exhausted and no agreement was found and there are two viewpoints, voting will take place. Then people will vote and express their viewpoints. We hope that by approaching this issue we will emerge with conviction and agreement as in that lies the absolute interest.

Batoul Ayoub: Should things move towards voting, don't you feel that might lead to the embarrassment of the Premier and consequently his stepping out of his post and thus will be the end of the government?

Sayyed Nasrallah: No there is no embarrassment or emergence. The Lebanese Premier is the head of the government. So he is the head of the executive authority. He is not a king or a prince as some people tried to depict him. There is a decision under Taif Agreement which is recited every morning and every night: The decision is to be taken by the Premier. The government as a whole is the authority. PM Najeeb Mikati is a democratic man. He is a man of institutions. He knows this idea more than any other person. Consequently, the issue will be discussed fully whether in bilateral or collective discussions in the government. One case is that the government does not agree. Indeed it's financing which needs approval and not the contrary. What needs to be voted on is financing because it is part of the budget or later it may come as an individual decision. So if things went towards voting and the decision of financing did not reach the required number of votes, everyone has to give in to the decision of this constitutional institution.

As for the issue of embarrassment, I would like to say something. Some people from this very day say if the issue of financing the STL was not endorsed, PM Mikati must resign as they from the day he was nominated asked him to resign. Some people accused him of betrayal. Others accused him of treason. In fact, did they give him even a one-hour-chance to try him according to his performance in it and ask him to resign accordingly? Since the very first moment, they're asking him to resign. Following few days they held a conference and called on the international community to boycott PM Mikati and his government. Indeed all of that flopped. So this is not more than a means to exert pressure. There is something else which I will postpone talking about now. Whoever wants to call on PM Mikati saying that your stay in power is linked to the approval of the government to finance the STL – It's not that he approves as he already approves. His government must approve – and consequently if your government did not approve you have to resign are oppressing PM Mikati. I tell them: Accept from PM Mikati what you accept from yourselves. We leave this card to the future. Indeed it is understood. However perhaps a time will come when we will be obliged to say O men have patience. This is the Turkish-Qatari Initiative. This is the discussion which took place. This is the text. I will show up on the TV screen and read the text. The text is written. I am committed to it though PM Mikati did not adhere to it. When we made an agreement with PM Mikati and voted for him, he did not commit himself to stop funding the STL, pulling out the judges and not renewing the protocol. So stop tackling this issue and do not embarrass the man anymore. That's because embarrassing him might force us to say facts which might not suit you on this perspective. However PM Mikati knows that he is now assuming a very great national responsibility which is achieving stability in the country. This is a national priority as well as a regional priority and an international priority. Let's return to those who make negative exaggerations. It is very natural that if he could convince his government to finance the STL, it will fund the STL. If he couldn't convince it to finance, he is a Premier within institutions, and according to his culture and background I do not believe that'll lead to any problem.

Batoul Ayoub: Pursuant to your discussions and nomination of PM Mikati, does Hezbollah have guarantees that if things went towards voting and led to disapproval over the issue of financing the STL, PM Mikati will not resign?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We didn't discuss this with PM Mikati, and we didn't hear anything of this sort from PM Mikati. In fact, the issue of resignation was not approached by us or by him. If there is any discussion whether bilateral or in a ministerial framework that was over whether we finance the STL or not. Where does the interest lie? What are the repercussions? The discussion moves in this direction.

Batoul Ayoub: In the framework of interest, through not financing the STL, you would be putting Lebanon before the challenge of the international community saying that Lebanon is not executing international resolutions. With putting Lebanon in such a position you will be putting all the achievements of the government which we tackled at stake.

Sayyed Nasrallah: The first point of argument – and this will be discussed in the government – has a legal aspect and it goes to the effect of: Is Lebanon committed to funding the STL or not? There are two approaches. It is enough to have two legal jurisprudences to find a solution. So is Lebanon committed, or was what the previous government committed itself to a show of high morals and thus the story is over? For example it committed itself to finance the STL for a year or two, so why are we committed to finance the STL the rest of the years?

There is much intimidation. I would like to remind that when the government of PM Saad Hariri was toppled and PM Mikati was nominated, the language which was heard in the country was to the effect of this government which PM Mikati will form will lead to the isolation of Lebanon, to the withdrawal of ambassadors, to sanctions being imposed on Lebanon, to threatening Lebanon and many other exaggerations. Well, nothing of that sort took place. On the contrary the whole world first waited for the formation of the government. The government was formed and the world accepted it. That took place at a time when there was a discussion somewhere – no one talked to us about that however we knew of it – to the effect of orienting Hezbollah against naming party members but rather friends due to international pressure and the international situation. No one talked to us to this effect. Still we nominated two party members namely brethren Hajj Mohammad Fneish and Brethren Professor Hussein Hajj Hassan. So the government was formed and no one in the world boycotted it. Where are the sanctions imposed on Lebanon as a result of forming the government? On the contrary even the Americans showed up to say we want to see the governmental statement. The ministerial statement was issued. Well that's the end of the story. These are facts which people deal with today. The international community is not preoccupied with Lebanon. We must see the situation in the region and the international situation today. It's to the good fortune of Lebanon that there is an international and regional priority and interest in the stability of Lebanon. Thus Lebanon is stable. So Lebanon is not stable only because of the government, the army and the security institutions. The story in Lebanon is well known.

The priority in Lebanon is for stability. President Mikati knows this and hears of it. March 14 Bloc group knows and hears this. So do the Americans and others. So this is not thinking good of the Americans. We are talking factual politics. Why do they push Lebanon towards risky direction to the effect of sanctions on Lebanon, boycotting Lebanon, withdrawing ambassadors and penalizing banks! What is this? Thus I hope no one puts us and himself in an atmosphere of intimidation. If Lebanon did not pay the money, there are others who would pay it. There is a clause on that in the recommendation pertaining to the STL and the Secretary General might search for a financing source. Many people are ready to pay from their own pockets and from other sources. Some people stood up and said if Lebanon does not finance the STL that will not lead to make the STL inactive. Well, that's great! So why are we making a problem out of that? Thus the sixty millions in addition to the euro exchange rate which will be paid from the Lebanese people treasury would be put in the Fund of the Poor and the Poorest Families which was sponsored by President Sleiman and attended by the presidents. That'll be better because the STL will not be inactivated if we did not finance it.

Batoul Ayoub: Let's handle now the STL and its impact on Lebanon. Upon the issuance of the indictment, it was said that this batch of recommendations will leave a negative impact on the Lebanese street and cause sedition. Did the STL lose its ability to cause chaos and do you have new evidences that this tribunal is politicized?

Sayyed Nasrallah: That's because during the past two years, great effort was exerted in Lebanon and abroad on the media, technical, judicial, legal and political levels. I will interpret that for the public opinion. As for the press conferences which were held and in which experts partook, I believe that the effort exerted, highlighting the conduct and performance of the investigation and the former and current General Prosecutors created a different idea in the minds of the Lebanese people and that appeared in polls. In what did that help? When the authenticity of the STL was hit on the level of the Lebanese people and on the level of the Arab and Islamic public opinion, the impact of the indictments and the false accusation which was sought to cause sedition were halted. Thus when the indictment was issued, nothing took place in the country. That's because this issue was dealt with during two years of continuous effort.

Well will the indictment have any impact later? In my opinion, the impact of this issue came to an end. They will head to trial in abstentia. Let them do what they wish to do in abstentia. That's because the accused brethrens do not trust or accept this tribunal even to brief an attorney. In the worst cases, a decision in abstentia will be issued pursuant to the trial. Let them issue whatever they want. This tribunal was established to reach decisions. Will these decisions be able to change any of the formulas in the country and in the nation? I believe that the situation in Lebanon, the region and the world has transcended the issue of the STL and its ability to have any impact.

Batoul Ayoub: Your Eminence, do you expect a war or not? It is also indispensable to stop at some Lebanese details. For example, as far as the elections law is concerned, does Hezbollah support the suggestion of a law of relativity?

Sayyed Nasrallah: I have previously tackled this issue and said that from the party perspective we have no problem in any election law that might be issued. Political forces usually examine such a law and make their evaluations taking into consideration how many deputies and what is the magnitude of the bloc the law provides them with. This is a normal right which is uncontroversial. At other times we would need to view the issue from a national view point. From the national perspective, we are open to discussion. Indeed, we have no problem with relativity. The suggested forms on relativity are also debatable. However we do not close the parentheses here. We rather open them and say this issue is worth of being discussed. Some political forces have their fears and we have to examine their fears. After all this is an essential idea. The election law is one of the most important issues in the country. So Inshallah it will not be handled with a rush. It will be discussed in and outside the government. Moreover, it will be referred to the Parliament. We are open to all the options and propositions and we have no problem with relativity.

Batoul Ayoub: Among the points Hezbollah ministers in the government are criticized for is not interacting with zeal. So they do not interact with zeal with the social and economic issues as they do with the primary and essential causes. This is one of the points the ministers of Hezbollah are criticized for within the government; In general, Hezbollah is criticized for not dealing with the economic and social issues with the same degree of zeal.

Sayyed Nasrallah: First this is not true. However, if I want to be precautious as some might have some remarks on the form of action I will say this is not precise. As for the social issue and social demands, in the previous governments we were always asked how you partake in the government and there are syndicates you belong to and are demonstrating against the government? Today this government which is adherent to the majority and a great section of the syndicates also is adherent to these political forces of the majority. Now how do we disintegrate this issue?

We say the following and this is my personal viewpoint. We hope the day will come when politicians and political forces step out absolutely from any syndicate work. This is an aspiration. It might be close to idealism in a country like Lebanon. Still I hope if only we might reach this stage and the syndicate work becomes again purely the work of syndicates. That's because after all political forces and political polarization influence the syndicate work one way or another starting with elections, choosing the seats of the syndicate work… However even if we were in the government as well as in syndicates, am I able to prevent members of syndicates and teachers or professors from striking or demonstrating? This is their natural right and if they did not do that what else may they do?

So here we are with the strike and the demonstration. However, here I have a recommendation. Let them strike and demonstrate to pressure the government of which we are a part. That is logical and natural. However, to what extent are we able not to harm the interest of the students and the people and the like? We must avoid that. Let's always have this maxim which might have included a kind of discrepancy. This is as far as the syndicate work is concerned. As for the government, we adopt all syndicate demands without overbidding anyone. We hope they would all receive the best salaries. However even in the former government we used to work with the former Premier and the former Ministry of Finance to reach the highest levels possible to better the conditions of these sections in a way which the Lebanese government and treasury may tolerate. So even in the former government which wasn't called the government of Hezbollah but rather they used to call the government of PM Saad Hariri we used to try to play a conciliatory role. That means not heading towards clashes because this is a social syndicate issue which must be addressed through dialogue. Some of our ministers were criticized for trying to conciliate between the rightful demand of the syndicate members and the ability of the government to accept and bear that. That's why I said I do not want to say that is not true but rather not precise. Well, this is one.

Second, there is another point. We do not say we are content with the results. After all we are searching for better results, and that is still possible and opportunities are still open for remarks and the demands of the syndicate committees. However one thing might be difficult to be done in the government and still must be done. Well for the first time in history, may this kind government which is making great achievements to be done for the first time hold a closed meeting to figure out an economic-social-financial vision for the situation in Lebanon. In the light of this vision, laws are ratified; programs are set to treat crises. This is indispensable. I believe if we took our time in discussing this viewpoint – that's because the issue of salaries did not take enough time due to pressure and over-crowdedness. The economic bodies did not approve. The syndicates wanted something else. The Minister of Labor had his viewpoint. The Ministry of Finance had another. So not enough time was taken. However, after all, something which did not satisfy both sides was presented. What is correct is that we carry on with what we have while heading towards putting a economic vision which is comprehensive and all-inclusive even if for the first time it. In light of this vision, we might say we want these reforms, these measures and these procedures. As such I believe we may reach somewhere.

Batoul Ayoub: Amid all these developments and hot movements in the region, the question that expresses itself in your presence is about an Israeli War. Do you expect an Israeli War on Lebanon through which Israel steps out of its isolation? Earlier in this episode, we talked about the crisis the Israeli entity enemy is passing through and the isolation it is suffering from. It's the state of being as feeble and weak as a spider web. Do you expect such a war through which Israel steps out of its isolation?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Indeed no one is able to approach this issue in a decisive and final way by saying for example that Israel will not wage a war against Lebanon, or wage a regional war or anything of this kind. What we talk about are mere suppositions and interpretations. Briefly I say this. Indeed when we talk about the state, the resistance, the Lebanese Army and the military, they must get ready for the worst scenarios and do not yield to political analysis so that they are not taken by surprise. However, as far as political analysis is concerned, we say that under the current conditions – meaning the post July War experience and the Israeli enemy war losses and frustrations - if they want to head to a new war they must guarantee its outcome which is not guaranteed. See the changes which are taking place in the region. So how are they to make another war whether against Lebanon or against Gaza at a time Egypt is another Egypt, Tunisia is another Tunisia and Libya is another Libya? The region is changing. Should we gather the indications within the Israeli interior we find the gaps and the morals drawn from July War by the Israeli Army, the strategic environment in the region, the strength of the Resistance in Lebanon, the current structure in Lebanon. All of that leads us to rule out Israel waging a war against Lebanon.

Batoul Ayoub: In the framework of talking about the strength of Lebanon – meaning the strength of the Resistance – it was prominent last week Ban Ki-mon's speech in which he called on the Resistance to hand its arms. Do you assure him tonight that Hezbollah has taken practical measures to gather its weapons in a move to hand them in?

Sayyed Nasrallah: In fact, we did not even issue a statement to comment on the statement of the UN Secretary General because we considered that the region and the world are in one place and he is in another. Today the arms of the Resistance, the presence of the Resistance, the culture of the Resistance, the threefold golden formula we talk about in Lebanon (The Resistance-People-Army Formula) are the elements of the primary strength which no one may overlook. Well they launched a 33 day war, they killed and displaced people, they committed massacres and we did not become lenient as far as this issue is concerned. Well now a mere statement made by the UN Secretary General or an international institution will not indeed make any difference.

Batoul Ayoub: To wrap this episode I ask your Eminence: In 2006, you got engaged in a war to topple the Neo Middle East scheme and you emerged triumphantly. It was the war imposed on us. Today what do you promise in this episode the dear supporters and with what do you address the enemies and the rivals too?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Despite some things and some atmospheres which are taking place in the region and causing caution, in general our evaluation is that things in the region are moving positively to the interest of the peoples of the region, the interest to the project of resistance and opposition and the interest of the nation. We will witness further retreat and defeat of the US project and the Zionist entity. We see the future as being promising. I believe the margins of the enemies of the nation and especially Israel have become very narrow as compared to any time in the past. On the contrary, the conditions, changes and developments in the region serve the aspirations of the peoples. After all, we in Lebanon and as a Lebanese people and through our previous experience, own a number of points of strength through which we may confront all the developments and changes. There are no reasons for worry. I rather say we have all reasons to be hopeful Inshallah.