Sunday, September 9, 2012

Full interview of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah with Al-Mayadeen TV, September 3rd, 2012

Q: Revered audiences! Today, we have a very special interview at a very serious moment with His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. On politics, security, the Resistance and the strategy we talk with the Sayyed.

The region is boiling. Thus with the Sayyed we talk about the changes and the great international game and the international and regional struggles. We talk about Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, the Gulf, Iran, Turkey, Israel and others.

Sirs! Hezbollah is in the center of the storm and the volcano.

Thus with the Sayyed we talk about the Islamic movements, the intifadas of the age, the Arab revolutions and the serpent of sectarian ordeals.

Israel threatens Iran, and America holds Tehran responsible of terrorism and world catastrophes. Thus with the Sayyed we talk clearly about what if an attack was staged against Lebanon, a military attack was staged against Iran or a military campaign was staged against his strategic ally President Assad in Syria.

That's besides Lebanon indeed and how he sees the future and the upcoming events.

Your Eminence the Sayyed! Welcome and many thanks for honoring us at Al-Mayadeen TV Channel. This is your first appearance on our blooming, developing, small, and humble but ambitious channel.

A: May Allah grant you success.Q: Your Eminence! We have talked about many topics. If we are to give the region and the situation a broad strategic topic, how does the Sayyed describe that?

A: In the Name of Allah, The Most Compassionate, The Most Merciful. In brief, I may say that we are before a stage in which major changes on the level of the region and the world are taking place and in which a new regional system and a new world system are being manifested.  Consequently, what is taking place now - more precisely what has been taking place in the recent years and what will take place in the coming years - will reveal the status quo, the future and the fate of the region at least for decades. Q: Where do you find the formation of the new world system? Where do you find its signs? Where does it manifest itself?

A: Indeed it is enough for example to hear an essential pole – namely Russia along with China - trying to reestablish itself in the new world system.

On what is taking place in Syria, they say that is not anymore a sheer internal affair. There is rather a new world system which is manifesting itself, and the indications has started in the Security Council. We may talk about a new world system and new alignments, new axes, about the termination of uni-polar and the one leader authority over the world and the return not only to the bipolar authority but rather to a multi-polar system. This has started to be formed. We will not go back to the US-Russia duo; we will rather go to a situation in which there are many very influential poles in the world. There are many great states in the world which are very influential. There are also states in the region which are having influences which is transcending the borders of the region. This is on the international level. Even on the level of the region, it is clear that there are regimes which are decades old have collapsed. There are new regimes which are being formed. There are new axes and alliances which are being formed. That means that we will be before a new regional system and a new regional situation.Q: You talk about regional states and perhaps about Turkey and Iran as being two primary powers in the region and two players in fact. Well, at least Turkey is in a member in NATO, and it still has a role while Iran seems to be shooting. As for the Arab world and the Arab countries and even we as currents and elites, are we players in the expected world system or are we played with?

A: So far we are played with to a great extent. However, we may become great players on the level of the region and on the level of the world. I am talking about Arab peoples, governments and states.

Let's take Egypt as an example. Egypt is before a new due event and a new challenge. It is restoring its regional and national position. Should Egypt restore its position, it may forcefully be influential on the regional situation and the international situation as well.

You know the status Iraq used to have in ancient decades. Saddam Hussein drove Iraq out of the regional equation when he hurled it in the first war with Iran and the second war with Kuwait. After all, Iraq became isolated and besieged until it ended up where it is now.

Today Iraq may return and be reconstructed anew. It may play a regional role again though that was lost for decades.

This is one example. We have several examples. At least, Egypt was absent. Now it might come back. Iraq was absent and it might be restored. We know that always in the Arab world there is a group of Arab states whose influence is very high and effective.

At one stage, Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq were so. When Iraq was driven out as a result of what took place, Egypt remained as well as Saudi Arabia and Syria. Even this troika was disjointed as a result of the recent conditions.

Today there are countries which are trying to restore their role. They may play a major regional role. Consequently, if we gathered all these regional roles, I may say: Yes, the Arab world can play an international role and not only a regional role.

However, this depends on the will of the peoples who revolted, got awakened and are trying to hold the reins of power and decide their future.Q: This is on the level of governments, regimes and states. It goes without saying that they are the primary determining factors. What about the currents – for example, what about the resistance current?

Do you see that the resistance current is also linked to these changes which are taking place in the countries, states and authorities or is it a player noticeably that it moves in the opposite direction?

A: In my evaluation, the development of events in Syria formed a break. I have tackled this point in Al Qods Day. Until before the development of events in Syria, the changes which were taking place in the region were clearly serving the resistance current on the level of the Arab and Islamic world. That was evident in the revolutions in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain and the popular movements and current which we were witnessing. We know these leaderships, currents, and parties, and we know their stance from the Palestinian cause, their stance from Israel, and their stance from the resistance.

When it was doomed for these currents to triumph in some of these currents and to gain victory over the regimes which were existing, it is natural that there would be a great hope for the resistance men in the region and much worry was nurtured by the Israeli enemy especially what took place in Egypt. We were following up Israeli media and stances. In brief, I may say that Israel was lamenting in a way it did not lament for decades while it was witnessing the fall of Husni Mubarak.

The alternative which was supposed to be presented then was the Islamic, national, Arabism currents whose stances from Israel, Palestine, and the resistance movements were known. It was natural that these movements have a chance in the countries where things were settled. Then their stances from the main issues – especially the Arab-Israeli struggle - would be made clear. Until that moment, I believe that the so called strategic environment was being formed to the interest of the resistance project and the resistance tract at the expense of Israel.

When events in Syria started developing in this bloody way and all calls for dialogue and settlement to reach a way out flopped (God willing we will talk about this when talking about Syria), and media, arms and money started moving towards Syria according to political classification on the level of governments, forces, states, peoples, currents and popular parties, we ushered into the stage of doubt. I do not want to say that the strategic environment which we said was formed came to an end. No! We entered the stage of ambiguity and doubt on the light of the Syrian developments. The way of approaching these developments and events and the way this event is addressed would draw a clear strategic environment.

I believe that potentially and to a great extent actually – now if we went to the very peoples and political forces and currents and contacted them while detaching ourselves from the scene – the Syrian scene - imposed on us by the media and the world – I have no doubt that these people who for decades have been with the resistance, the current of the resistance and the choice of the resistance are still as such now also.

The division is similar to what took place in Iraq in 2003 though not to this severity due to difference in some given and conditions which I do not want to tackle now. However, that was surmounted later as we have witnessed the Arab and Islamic stance in July War 2006 and in Gaza War by the end of 2008. Thus, I still hope Inshallah that we would be able altogether on the light of what we say and do to transcend this stage and to contribute altogether in forming a true strategic environment on the level of the Arab and Islamic world which would serve the central cause – Palestine. Q: Under all circumstances and the labor witnessed by the region and the world, you still adhere and insist that the resistance is a strategic choice and not only a military action and that it is a method, an intellect and the means to a comprehensive project.

A: I even say more. For us, the resistance is our essence and nature.

Man can't be separated from his essence and nature. Here I would like to address the public opinion: All what is taking place in the region have goals. At least one of its results is rendering Palestine abandoned and Al Qods outside the circle of interest, consideration and follow up. Even more, that aims to turn the resistance fighters to critical groups as far as the Palestinian issue is concerned. I really mean what I say, and I believe those who are hearing me understand fully what I mean. That has history and precedents. Anyway, I warn against that and tell everybody: No matter what the divisions were, no matter what stances were, no matter what differences were, Palestine and Al Qods are a ideological, religious, legitimate, humanistic and moral responsibility. For any resistance movement, Palestine and Al Qods are its monotheism, religion, prayers and fasting. Consequently, risks, divisions, differences, and critical positions must not harm the very root of this stance and this direction. Thus as far as confronting the Zionist project and enmity with Israel are concerned, our stance is final regardless of the changes in Lebanon and the region.Q: When we talk about Hezbollah, we talk about its history in the resistance. Your Eminence, after the break, we will start with this topic. You are a resistance as far as confronting Israel is concerned noticeably that you wrapped up saying Palestine and Al Qods remain the compass forever.

Your Eminence! This is a section of several stops. Can you tell us which are the most important stops which aroused your attention and influenced you and which you consider turning points whether on the military, strategic, political or personal level?

A: All of these stops are very important, essential and influential. Indeed at this moment, I recall the dear martyrs – Martyr Leader Sayyed Abbass Mussawi (May Allah be content with him), Martyr Sheikh Hajj Imad Moghniyeh (May Allah be content with him), His Eminence Sheikh Ragheb Harb and all the other martyrs. They are the brethrens who if these achievements and victories were made with the aid of Allah Al Mighty that would have been with the blessing of their steadfastness, jihad, blood, sacrifices besides the resistance of the sacrifice-offering fighters who are still waiting and never change or would ever change….Q: Well you mentioned the martyrs whom your son Hadi (May Allah have mercy on him) is among. However on the strategic level, which stop was a turning point? Was it the Palestinian resistance, the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the invasion of Lebanon, July War, the Grapes of Wrath…?

A: In fact, these events are like the rosary. They have the very order of the beads in a thread. These events are linked to each other. You can't separate one event from the other in general. That means that the establishment of the state of Israel led to the rouse of the Palestinian resistance as a reaction, the Islamic revolution in Iran, the strategic repercussions on the regional and international levels, and the invasion of Lebanon, the launching of the varied and diversified Lebanese resistance factions. That's because before 1982, the title of the resistance was Palestinian more than Lebanese which was an alternate or a support. From 1982 onwards the title of the resistance became Lebanese with its various forms and names and events.

I believe that in the struggle with Israel, the victory of 2000 was important and the confrontations of 1993 and 1996 – the Liquidation and the Grapes of Wrath according to Israeli terminology. However the turning point of 2000 was important because this victory was clear, clean, absolute and unconditional. Days ago, we were following the events in Sinai and the Israeli demands made on the Egyptian government: If you want to drive in tanks you need permission. If you want to bring in airplanes you need permission too. The tanks you drove in must be driven out. I did not get acquainted with the details. I did not hear precise information of this kind; however, in appendices there are conditions which were dictated on the Egyptian State.

Today, we can sense the achievement of 2000. Everyone went to the Lebanese borders. The Lebanese citizen is able to dig a well, build a home and do whatever he wants there. The army may be dispatched. The army may not be dispatched as well. Tanks, troop carriers and cannons may be installed there. The Israelis can not set any condition on us. The victory of 2000 was a true absolute achievement which has established for unconditional victories. Q: You Eminence! Camp David Agreement imposes on the Egyptian side not to dispatch its military troops on a large border area which they even divided into parts, whereas in Lebanon the case is the very opposite. The whole world and Israel itself are calling on the Lebanese Army to be present there with greater and increasing numbers…

A: Yes, the case is the very opposite. Thus year 2000 was an important turning point and indeed year 2006 was an important turning point. Indeed, the martyrdom of PM Rafiq Hariri is an important turning point to the effect of its impact on Lebanon and the region. Some took that in a direction that does not serve the interest of the struggle with the Israeli enemy. We believe that was one of the goals of the assassination of PM Hariri. Indeed, 2006 was a historic and strategic turning point in the full sense of the word. In a brief word I may say: If the achievement and the victory of 2000 hammered the last nail in the coffin of Great Israel, July War has hammered the last nail in the coffin of Greater Israel. We are today before a sheer Israel which is not great or greater. However, it is in our hands as Arab peoples and governments and states in the region to turn it to become again great or greater. So this was achieved. Q: This is the main point. Your Eminence! In our talk now, allow us to start primarily from this Israeli strategic dimension. The paradox is that frankly speaking the Arab situation is now witnessing definite files. As I have mentioned in the prelude, there is a volcano and a boiling situation. Everyone is now talking about Syria primarily whereas your speech is always against the current and totally wide of the subject. You always insist on Israel. You still talk about Israel. Why do you – at this very moment – insist on talking about Israel? It is not only so. You also address it with threats and warnings?

A: There are two dimensions in this topic. As for the first track, since decades, the Americans and the Israelis and those along them used always to work to cancel the Palestinian cause from among the interest and the priorities of the Arab and Islamic peoples and governments. Thus it is said that for decades, the events, developments, revolutions, ordeals, and conflicts over the borders and demarcations among other disasters which fell on the heads of the Arab and Islamic peoples were meant to keep Palestine their last concern and so that their logic would be: We have our own problems. Let's address our own problems before addressing the cause of Palestine.

Every event is being exploited. I am not saying that the revolutions which took place are a US conspiracy. I will tackle this later. Any event which takes place in the region – even if it sprang from the will of the peoples and even if it has rightful goals – are being exploited and highlighted to a very great extent so as to oversight the Palestinian scene and the Israeli issue. It is said to Israel seize the opportunity, as is being done now. Because the whole world is occupied in other places, now the Israelis are seizing more pieces of land in the West Bank and annexing them to Great Al Qods. The area of Great Al Qods is increasing and settlements are increasing in Great Al Qods before the very eyes of the whole world. Still no one is taking any action – whether the Arab League, the organization of Islamic Countries, the Islamic Cooperation Council, the United States, and the Security Council. This is not among their sphere of concerns. What is taking place on the Maqdessi people in Al Qods and what is taking place on the Islamic and Christian sanctities, especially Al Aqsa Mosque, are outside their sphere of concern.

What is our mission? Pupils of religion – I am talking about myself –, religious scholars, religious men, political leaderships, elites, dignitaries, parties and forces must work to cripple this goal. If it is not a goal, they must work to cripple this outcome. They want us to forget Palestine and Al Qods. Thus we must always remind people of Palestine and Al Qods even in the most difficult internal conditions and even if we were fighting in this lane or that street. We must remind the world that the main cause is Al Qods. The compass will remain pointing there. This is the first dimension.

The second dimension or the second reason is Israeli threats. I find it weird that some Lebanese politicians commented on my speech on Al Qods Day saying: "What is going on? Why is so and so threatening? He wants to make a conflict for us with Israel." These do not in fact read anything that is issued by Israel or is said by Israeli officials. They do not read or listen – that is if I thought good of them indeed. Well, Israeli officials for three or four weeks or for two months have been threatening in an incessant way of destroying Lebanon, destroying the region, destroying the infrastructure in Lebanon, crushing the resistance in Lebanon, imposing conditions on Lebanon while Lebanon is silent. Unfortunately, this government – even if we support and back it – did not so far issue even on stance because it says that this issue is referred to the dialogue table. We would tackle that when we go to the dialogue table. No definite and clear stance is issued by the dialogue table because of its construction and formation. When Israel threatens and intimidates Lebanon, it is our duty to stand and say: No! This era is over. This is the other dimension.

Thus we depend in what we say first on keeping the compass pointing at Palestine and Al Qods and that the primary problem in the region the mother or corruption, the cancerous gland, the absolute evil – as Imam Mussa Assader used to say – is Israel. Second, we are in the position of defending ourselves, our country, our honor, our homes, our sovereignty, our dignity and thus we are concerned in confronting threats with threats – threats that are based on facts and not mere wordiness. These threats are in fact leading to deterring results too.Q: What does convince the Arab public opinion which is outside Lebanon and outside the current threat that Palestine as this very point in particular must be the point of the compass and the primary cause and that Israel still forms a threat? What convinces them of that? Is it the existence of Israel, US policies, the existing Arab alliance, or what in particular?

A: Brother Ghassan! I believe that the case primary is that the Arab world, Arab peoples and Arab elites do not need to be convinced. I mean the case is not that of convincing and evidences. Now even the so called Arab Moderation – I met some of them and I do not recall their names – some leaders of states and some primary figures in states tell me for example: You say what we can't say. You express our conscience, history, feelings, honor and what you say is right and the truth. However, we are in international conditions, and there is America, the West and the East and the like. So, there is no problem in convincing them.

Yes, we need to reorganize our priorities. For example, what requires discussion now is not the essence of the issue. Consequently, the very existence of Israel and the danger of Israel on the region are for granted. Sixty years of intellectual, cultural, ideological, media, and psychological mobilization and Israel's mistakes, aggressions and savageness are enough. So we need always to discuss priorities and reorganize priorities. Q: Your Eminence! Allow me to ask this question. Several months ago, when Eilat operation took place, stances and statements and even articles were written saying that even if these operations were legitimate, please postpone such issues for some time because it would pave the way for a battle with Israel that would embarrass us while the priorities now are the Arab intifadas and revolutions and not changes. Even more, some Islamist intellects – I won't say others – started talking to the effect of: Jordan first! Egypt first! Lebanon first! Tunisia first!?

A: This is wrong. We tell everybody if Israel was left alone it will restore its power, deterrence, might, and project as its aspirations and dreams are still valid. It does not need to restore them. It needs only to restore its power, hegemony, and standing.

We all agree that its project is still valid. Well, postponing would make all our governments, states, and regions collapse before the Israeli threats and bullying. The problem has always been here – i.e. in organizing the priorities.

Indeed we lead internal discussions, and I believe there is no contradiction as is the case here in Lebanon. Your priority would always remain confronting the Zionist project with the various forms, tools, and means while tackling the internal affairs. However, some people usually have this misunderstanding which says that when there is a priority that means one and nothing else. A priority does not mean one and nothing else. Priorities mean there is two and three and four and five. However there is a one. We may be careful of the second, the third, and the fourth without neglecting the first and without working at the expense of the first. Leaderships are indeed concerned in managing this.

For example, in Lebanon, I want reforms and I believe in reforms and want to work on reforms. However, I have a ceiling too. Here we may differ in practice with the other allying political forces to the effect that the limits of reform or political business or internal political struggle stop at the ceiling of the first priority which I consider a more important and a greater strategic interest. Human mind, the biography of scholars and even now the whole world work on reorganizing their priorities. We are not saying abandon your peoples; abandon your states, abandon your governments; do not care for reform, freedom and democracy; do not care for the daily loaf of bread and development and the like. No! We must care for all of that and work for securing that. However the first priority must always remain the most dangerous which threatens the entire nation and its security, future, stability, waters, oil, wealth and sanctities – namely the Israeli issue. Thus we always call for paying attention to this priority. Q: "Focoshima". This is an Israeli term and not one of our own invention. Your Eminence! Now we recalled what you said: "We may with several rockets turn the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis into hell." May you please explain this to us.

A: Indeed. First, it is important to highlight the context, as the context is also important. I was then talking in the speech I delivered on Al Qods Day. I hadn't enough time. Well, there is a good point which the people must know. How does the Israeli think?

Israelis usually plan for the first strike. When I was talking during July war speech on the Qualitative Balance Operation, I wanted to point to this. Well, the first strike in 1967 was hitting the airports in Egypt. The first strike in Gaza War was hitting a gathering for the brethren Palestinian policemen. Hundreds were martyred. So always in the Israeli mind there is something called the first strike. In the Qualitative Balance Operation, we considered the first strike the sensitive and essential strike. What the Israelis think of in the future is that Hezbollah has rockets. They are making suppositions that they are installed in such and such places. This is one of the suppositions. I am not saying this is the only strike. The air force would raid and destroy all of these places. Consequently, they would say where the deterrence power they (Hezbollah) own is. The deterrence power is nothing more than the Kalashnikov, RPJ, or the ABKC or the Katusha. Indeed, the Katusha was at one stage a deterrence power. However today the situation is different; they pull out the deterrence power from you. Thus they violate the country.

The first message I wanted to convey is that even if we supposed that in the worst possibilities that you – O Israelis – can strike all of these targets, after all there are goals or rocket posts or rocket platforms would remain intact and away from your data and would be spared from your first strike. If only these rockets remained for us – this is the worst possibility – they would be taken into consideration by us. The best possibility which the Israelis may take into consideration is this. Well, what I wanted to tell them first is this first message. If we supposed that at the first strike only few rockets remained - God forbids that things would move in this direction – these few rockets are able to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis into hell. This is the first message. So do not bet on the first strike.

Second we come to the point you asked about in my speech. In fact, tonight I will not commit myself to any definite goals. We will keep our hand open. However, these targets are not few according to our data and information and according to what they referred to as goal bank. Yes we have a bank of targets. There is a great number of targets of this kind. Their coordinates are available with the Resistance and our rockets can reach them and are in fact pointed in that direction. We have taken the worst possibilities into consideration and consequently this is what forms–Q: A true deterrence power. Are they only military targets or there are nonmilitary targets too?

A: No, when they talk about destroying Lebanon and destroying the infrastructure in Lebanon they are not talking about military targets. You know that at the onset of July War and more precisely on the first and second day, we stroke military targets only and we did not target settlements or military goals. However, when the enemy started striking our villages, cities, roads… our reaction was striking such a kind of targets.

Well, I am confronting the Israelis; they say they want to destroy the country; on the other hand, I say that I will do all what I am able to do, and what I can do does not need a large amount of rockets. Well there is something called Israeli points of weakness. One of the Israeli points of weakness is the existence of targets of a civil nature or an economic, industrial, electric, chemical or nuclear nature. Well let them take into consideration all possibilities. So the Israelis must know that there are no more controls in any aggression. We do not have any more controls. Indeed I mean by I Hezbollah. Well, perhaps tomorrow one of them might say we do not have chemical weapons and we would not use such weapons. Well this is final to us. However, I do not need chemical weapons apart from the legitimate and rational stance from that. The Israelis have plants, bases and communities, and I have rockets. My rockets are in face of that, while your targets are in face of what you threaten us with at the level of the country. Thus do not let us commit ourselves to anything. Q: Even concerning chemical weapons, we never heard that you might not use it. Indeed you never tackled this issue before. However, you have committed yourselves now not to use chemical weapons.

A: Previously, we didn't use to tackle this issue. However, this is a legitimate clarification. Q: So you do not have chemical weapons and you will not use such weapons.

A: Now for legitimate and humanistic reason we won't. However, Israel has chemical weapons and nuclear weapons. Still we do not need chemical weapons or nuclear weapons. There are targets in Israel which if hit would lead to the same results. Q: Frankly speaking, you did not commit yourselves now to talk about details. However, the indications and hints you frankly made are not simple. In fact, they are dangerous. You are talking about military, civil, electric, chemical, industrial, and nuclear targets. Well, what did you leave in Israel then? Your Eminence! Hezbollah now owns the military and rocket capacities which enable you as a resistance to target or strike any target. You have the capacity, seriousness, the decision and the determination to target any goal. I hope I would hear an answer and not a conclusion.

A: That's true.Q: Say it in a full sentence please.

A: Yes, that's not something new and the Israelis know that too and accept it. That might be because of their information and given as well as the field events which were made manifest during July War. In more than one occasion I said and here again I will reiterate and stress: Any target along Occupied Palestine from the border to the border which may come across your mind may be reached by the rockets of the Islamic Resistance. It is we who choose the targets indeed according to a schedule, according to a priority table and according to their efficiency. That's because it is not required to hit any target. The war must rather go to what is influential, painful and has a deterrent impact. Yes, we own these rockets that might hit any target whether military or nonmilitary. That's apart from the cities and settlements. That is undisputable. Yes this capability is possible. The Israelis know it is possible. Here I am telling you since 2006 onwards this is taken into Israeli consideration in a frank and clear way.

Yes, today there is a deterrence power. Indeed they talk pursuant to the results of July Way. They say there is deterrence from both sides. Well, during July War, there was nothing taking place in the South. From 2000 to 2006, there was not any front or fighting on the southern borders. There was something which we used to consider reminiscent operations in Shebaa Farms. However the goal of July War was to crush the Resistance in Lebanon. They failed to crush the Resistance in Lebanon. However, since that day up till very moment, there is true deterrence as a result of Israeli information and data. Thus here, I am able to tell the Lebanese, our peoples and our region: Yes, if the will was found and we thought fully and set our priorities we can do something with our capabilities. We do not need huge capabilities. This is Israel in fact.

In 2000, I said a phrase which some considered an ordinary phrase, an emotional pose or poetry. That was when I addressed the Palestinians and told them that Israel is feebler than the spider web. Here I am telling you: "Israel is feebler than the spider web." However, this spider web is protected by an arsenal and reinforced concrete fabricated by our governments and states and the states which support Israel. However, as for Israel, it is a spider web. Thus since 2000 onwards, you could hear in the arguments - if you follow up with the Israeli issue – their discussion if whether they are a spider web or not. If it was a casual phrase why did it have an impact on the Israeli conscience and mind? That is because they really and factually sensed that in the Israeli status quo.

Today this Israel has many points of weakness. All what we need to do is to discover these points of weakness and work on them. If we posed before the points of strength, we will be scared. If you said you want to present a scene to me only. Israel has the most powerful air force in the region. The Israeli Army is the fourth, fifth, or seventh army in the world. Israel is backed by America. Israel is backed by the west. Israel's economy is advanced. If you put me before all of these characteristics as some Arabs do, the story would be over. So what are we to do? Are we to give in or accept the morsels which Israel offers the Palestinians and the Arabs?

However, this very Israel has very critical and crucial points of weakness. These are some of them. Well, I might as well work on the points of weakness and try to cripple the repercussions of the points of strength. Here lies the importance of the way followed by the Resistance when we sit for discussion in Lebanon. They would say the Israelis have an air force which is the most in the region. Well, yes such an air force may destroy any classical army in barracks. However, it can't destroy a popular resistance. The most powerful air force in the world can't destroy it.

This is the experience of Yugoslavia. All experiences lead to this conclusion. When I say the Israeli entity has points of weakness, I can work on these points of weakness. I can address the enemy with these weak points which the enemy knows. You asked me why they believe me. That's because they talked about that. I did not invent anything. Well the Israelis carry internal arguments. After all, they have a brutal antagonistic community. However, they have points which we must pose at. Israel is a state of institutions whether we liked it or not. It is a democratic state in a Jewish framework whether we liked that or not. They make discussions; they have a collective leadership; and their contests take place in the Knesset, in the cabinet, in the army, in the security bodies, in the press and in the street. Well we follow up all of these contests. Some people to prove their viewpoints they provide evidences. Well we know these evidences, and when they give them as evidences they assert my convictions, data and information. Well, some might say that the Israelis do not talk anymore about these topics. I tell them they can't but talk about these topics. They will carry on talking about these topics.

Well, don't they know that Hezbollah follows up with their stances, articles, analyses, Winograd's results and what the post and prior eras? They know. However, anyway, the construction of the society will carry on as such. However, today I will say: No! We have power. I am not saying it is a mighty power; however, it is an influential power. So let know one understand from what I am saying that I mean the quality and the quantity. No! This very power of the Resistance in Lebanon today can form a true deterrence power and it has formed that already. Q: Your Eminence! There is a difference between the deterrence power and the power of targeting the enemy directly. We remember very well that in the past you used to say: If you hit Rafic Hariri (May Allah have mercy on him) Airport, we will hit Ben-Gurion Airport. If you hit a power plant, we will hit a power plant. If you downed a building, we will down buildings.

A: The Resistance has only a defensive dimension. Q: Well, today you are talking about more than that. You are saying that you will hit posts which will not only turn the lives of hundreds of thousands to hell but also would kill tens of thousands. What does that mean?

A: When the Israelis want to destroy our country, I will do all what can I do. You have the right to be surprised. Perhaps in the Arab world, we are not accustomed to this level of challenge. However, now we reached this level of challenge. Yes, there is a way out. The way out is all these huge Israeli factories, societies and power plants. Well if we suppose that we are afraid on the power plants we own, all of these plants need to be repaired and changed. However, they own power plants which are still in the middle area. If these plants were hit, they will not only usher into darkness, the economic repercussions will be gigantic. They even say that they need six months to reorganize and reconstruct them. During this period of time, what are the economic losses which the enemy will be inflicted with? Well, all of this must be taken into consideration when I tell the enemy that I can hit a power plant. Q: Your Eminence! From what you are saying, we can understand that you have precise coordinates for these plants, posts, factories and airports which are present all over Occupied Palestine to the furthest point. You are very much certain of them so that you threat in such a way. You own rockets. But do you have all of these coordinates…?

A: Yes! Well, if we don't own that, we would not have said so. Here I would like to say something. Hezbollah and I personally verify everything. It is true that everyone knows that this is part of a deterring war and a psychological war. However, this psychological war might at times depend on events and facts, and at other times it is based on lies and intimidations. From the very beginning, we lead a psychological war on the bases of facts. Today, the Israelis believe us because there are thirty years of struggle between the Israelis and the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon – and not with me. For thirty years of struggle, the Resistance never for one day lied on its masses, friends or enemies. It never promised without fulfilling its promise. It never made a claim and it was revealed that this claim was void. That had never taken place for thirty years. This is a very important accumulation. Well today, our people believe us and our enemy believes us too. Well, on what is that based? Indeed, first this is success granted to us by Allah Al Mighty. Second, it is the result of a thirty-year-old-experience. Consequently, Mr. Ghassan and dear audience, when I make any threat, if I was not sure, certain and confident that all the elements of executing this threat are fully available, I do not even say one word. There is something personal which used to take place at times. In some speeches in which we would have taken a decision to convey messages to the Israelis, I used to contact through the internal network the concerned brethren from the military Resistance leaders and tell him I want to say so and so; are you sure that your information is true. He would say yes. If he had the least hesitation, I would not say that. I am not seeking to gain audience you know. Through what I say I am leading a battle with the enemy. Consequently, I do not lead a losing battle. Q: It has been prevalent even in Arab countries lately that your threats do not necessarily express a psychological war but rather want to cover a state of despair, embarrassment and a true crisis experienced by Hezbollah as a result of the Syrian crisis.

A: Indeed that is not true. First, if there are no Israeli threats and intimidations, they may then search for interpretations. For example someone might say: "What is taking place in the world? There is nothing at all. The Israelis are silent. The front is calm. Why is Hezbollah then threatening and fuming with rage?"

However, the case is different pursuant to the latest flow of Israeli threats. Today for example, one of the senior Israeli militants and generals say: We consider that the true threat in the region which surrounds us is Hezbollah. We consider Hezbollah the essential threat. The latest classifications set Hezbollah as the strategic threat to Israel. The case is not that of borders, settlements, some soldiers and peasants. It is rather a strategic threat to the entity of Israel. When there is this level of threat, we are concerned to answer. This is first. So the existence of an Israeli threat is what interprets our response and not what they say at all.

Second, there is the story which they every now and then say to the effect that we are confused, worried and lost. I want to ask you a question as you have a personal experience with us. During July War, you visited us in Dahiyeh.Q: You Eminence! You are saying in Dahiyeh!

A: No problem. We met in Dahiyeh. We put a condition on you not to say that, but I can say that. We met in Dahiyeh. Most of the world was against us. Now at least there is Russia, China, India, South Africa…. There is another axis. There is a second axis. The whole world – the international community, the security council, the industrial countries, the G20 as well as a wide section of the Arab world and a wide internal Lebanese section - then held conferences and issued statements against us.Q: You were labeled as adventurers.

A: Yes…. The Israeli air force was destroying everything. Our masses were away from their houses. Our homes were demolished. Our headquarters were downed. We were engaged in the fiercest battles. Here I want you to bear witness before the audience. Were we worried?

The interview is recorded. It is available. They can observe that moment. We are not talking about the post war era. No that was taking place amid war. Was I or Hezbollah worried, confused, afraid, lost or perplexed?

No! Our obligations were clear to us. There was clarity in our conduct. There was clarity in our stance. There was clarity in the point we were going to reach. We did not have the least doubt. We were certain that we will emerge from that battle victorious with our heads raised high. We promised the people and we promised ourselves indeed while trusting in Allah Al Mighty always.

The story is the same now. In fact, the situation now is much better than in July War. So if someone wants to make a political reading for the international situation and the regional situation and the local situation and for the nature of axes, alliances and divisions, the situation today is much better than the situation during July War. If then we were not worried, lost or confused, why should we be so now?Q: I have committed myself for six years not to talk about this point. However, as long as you asked for my testimony, I will say the following. You Eminence! Much has been said to the effect that I was anesthetized, kidnapped and placed in a box and the like. However, here I am saying that it was the easiest and most facile visit to your Eminence ever. I even know the place.

Second: It was said that the interview took place in the third or fourth floor under the ground. Well, we have the right to say it was in the third floor in one of the buildings, and we faced no problems.

A: Now you can talk at your ease and say what you want. Q: Well that is enough…. Third, I remember very well that the security officials told me: So and so, you know the situation. So please you have half an hour at most. However, when you came in I told you less than an hour while you said: Take your time. In fact, we stayed for an hour and a half. There are in fact many other important details which I do not want to mention now.

Your Eminence! You said there is no problem in that?

A: In the light of that, there is an interpretation and an extra message for every adoring friend as well as for every antagonistic enemy and every bargainer if he is an enemy and for every adorer if he is worried. I assert for you that on the contrary we are appeased, assured and confident as we have our own reading. I am not talking about supernatural events. We rather are so according to an objective reading of what is taking place now in the world on the economic, political, security, and military levels as well as on the level of alliances, changes and axes and according to what is taking place in the region, the structure of the region, the changes in the region, Syria, Lebanon, North Africa and the entire region. On the contrary, our reading of the future is very optimistic. Now they might ask: How is that so? Our answer is: That's similar to the very question they asked on the first days of July War. However, if we sat and read what took place in July War, now I won't ask you to bear witness, I rather want the testimony of the sirs on the Lebanese national dialogue table. Didn't I present the scenario of the fighting that took place during July War on the dialogue table for the Lebanese people to hear? Didn't I said that in case of fighting with the Israelis these are their points of weakness and these are their points of strength while these are our points of weakness and our points of strength. This is how we may act. We have the capability to gain victory in this war. I was not talking about supernatural elements or dreams. This is the optimism of assuredness, confidence and certainty. Indeed an essential part of that has to do with the ideological and religious background and trusting in Allah Al Mighty. However Allah Al Mighty has also asked us to seek the reasons and get prepared and ready and gain power and make an objective reading for that without intimidation, fear, exaggeration, excessiveness or negligence. In light of such a reading we say: No.Q: Anyway, we must reach some conclusions. In case Israel attacked you, will your response be merely defensive or your military choices would be further than that?

A: All the options would be open. All the options are primarily possible. We might not be content with defense. Once I said something. When Israeli War Minister Barak told his soldiers: Get ready for entering Lebanon. A day may come when we would return to Lebanon, I then told the fighters: Get ready. A day may come when we may enter Galilee. This is still valid. This is one of the possibilities open before us. Q: You do not stop at warning and threatening. Indeed in response to the Israeli threats, you are saying that you have the capacities and the capabilities. You are saying more than that. You will not be content by defense. If the Israelis imposed a battle on you, you might enter Galilee.

A: It's good that the people know. What I am saying is not new. However asserting it is important. Do you see all what has been taking place in Lebanon since 2000 till this very day and since 2005 till this very day? Some people believe that Hezbollah is preoccupied and there are thousands of internal files which are exhausting Hezbollah. We in Hezbollah have a large group which is the group of resistance men. This group is not by any means concerned in the entire political situation and the internal situation and all the existing problems and crises. This group is totally unoccupied in that. This group works as if there is no internal situation whether happy, sad, feeling unease, feeling at ease, or feeling under pressure. They are unconcerned. They are in another track. They work day and night in training, preparing, arming, plotting, amending plots, and getting ready. Their whole concern is in that. This is not a small group. Thus since 2006 until this very day, the ability of Hezbollah grew. That is not poetry or verse composition. When we talk about tens of thousands of fighters and tens of thousands of rockets and about a great capacity and about the ability of entering Galilee, this is based on industrious work, money, capacities and the best among our men being invested in this perspective. Well, were we asleep since 2000 we would have been crushed in 2006. On the contrary, since 2000 till 2006 we were working and getting ready. Now I am sitting with you. In another place – rather places – a cadre in Hezbollah is working for a day that might come. Here we can't abandon our responsibility. Thus I tell you not to be surprised or astonished. Was I to be occupied and was Hezbollah with all its senior figures and members to be occupied with the political details, the resistance will not develop or advance. It will retreat and become feeble and be hit with disorder. Things do not move as such. Q: In the Victory Celebration you said there are more than twenty rockets. What number may you give us? If not precisely tell us more than what number?

A: There is much more, Mr. Ghassan.Q: Israel believes that the main danger and the strategic danger is Hezbollah. However, the threat by Iran is true and great. There is a great international argument. America, Europe, the Arab world and Israel are talking about the threat posed by Iran. Do you really believe that Israel might move towards striking Iran in the coming few weeks or months?

A: I believe the Israelis disagree among each other. Even more, it seems there is a great argument and a wide discrepancy among the Israelis on this topic. Netanyahu and Barak are serious in going to a battle. Their reading is that things must not remain as such. The issue is not that on nuclear power. They as well as the Americans and the international community and the Israelis certainly know that there is not any military nuclear power in Iran. Iran does not move in that direction. However, it is required that Iran be hit because Iran is a strong, modern developing Islamic state which is gaining more power, might, and influence on the regional level and thus is forming an absolute enemy to Israel.

So the problem with Iran is not nuclear arms. They know that there is no nuclear military power. However, this is Iran that since 32 years did not change and alter whether in its conduct, stance, and terminology as far as the Palestinian cause is concerned: Palestine is from the sea to the river; Palestine is the right of the Palestinians; Al Qods must be restored to the nation. Israel is a cancerous gland that must be extracted from existence. Since then we hear this very terminology. We do not hear them only in the demonstration held on Al Qods Day in Tehran streets. We also hear them in the nonaligned nations conference where it is supposed that the Iranian leaders be somehow diplomatic to trim edges as the Lebanese say and to try to find common areas. However, as far as this issue is concerned, there is nothing of this sort. This is part of their religion. The Israelis believe that Iran is a problem, and the nuclear title is just a pretext to strike Iran. It is a pretext and not a truth.

So Barak and Netanyahu have a reading that says Iran must not be allowed to gain power and develop. We must strike it. We must drag the entire region into war. They know the reactions. Thus a section of Barak and Netanyahu's mind says that we must drag the entire region into war. We must drag the Americans into war. Some Arab states must also be dragged to war. We must turn the table on everyone. We must get engaged in an adventure because in this adventure we might step out intact. However, if we left Iran alone for a year or two or ten or twenty, the future is clear. The future is the end of Israel. They are not mindless. They are talking rationally. That is when they talk about the efficiency. In Israel there is always an argument over the efficiency and the costs, another group argues first over the efficiency and then about the costs. Netanyahu and Barak try to exaggerate the efficiency and belittle the costs. They say three hundred or four hundred casualties. In July War – which was a war with Hezbollah and not Iran and in which nothing really happened in the region – there were between 150 and 170 Israeli casualties most of them are militants. Indeed this is what is declared. Well what would be the case in a war with Iran? Where would the region be? Another group says: No! The efficiency is argumentative and the costs are very high too.

In my viewpoint and according to the given in the Israeli entity – the state of institutions – all of the first rank militants are against a war and all the first rank security leaders are against a war. Today or yesterday, Winograd who made an investigation in the situation of the army, the internal front, and the Israeli capacities in July War said we are not ready. The Internal Front Minister whom Netanyahu discharged said before everyone else said that: We are not ready. The opposition is also against that. When Israel gets engaged in a war it tries to reach a national consensus. The problem now is among the cabinet, among the ruling coalition, and among the security. Thus I rule out – I do not say I am absolutely certain and I do not say I know what is hidden – that Israel embarks on a war of this kind.

Today, we add to the Israeli internal argument, the economic situation in America and the economic situation in Europe. You know that Miracle boycotted Netanyahu for two months. It contacted him and talked with him about striking Iran. The French were clear today too as well as America and the statements of the US Chief of Staff General Dems. Indeed this is an important issue. Some people might pass over that without noticing it. However, Israel posed before it for a long time. That expresses a US inclination, and the international community does not move in that direction. It's not because of morals, values, norms and international laws. No! They do not move towards a war because Iran is strong and because they don't know where striking Iran would lead the region to.

Based on all of these indications, I personally rule out that the Israeli enemy in the coming few months at least would stage an aggression against the Islamic Republic and its nuclear edifices. I also believe that Netanyahu and Barak are trying to benefit from this escalation so that they would be told: Don't hit Iran in return for a number of billion dollars; don't hit Iran in exchange for this kind of warplanes; don't hit Iran in return of taking this kind of rockets which reaches the tunnels for example. They are blackmailing America and the world. Q: Pursuant to information, can you assert that if Iran was militarily attacked, Iran's response would be - as they say - great and decisive. And what do the Iranians mean with the decisive and great response which might destroy even Israel? What do they mean by that?

A: The Iranians must answer this question. I do not want to interpret their words. However, according to the very essence of the topic I can assert that to you based on my information and not my analysis and conclusion. My information says based on what I heard from Iranian officials whether decision makers on one hand and others on the other hand that the decision is made – meaning ready. A decision has been made on responding and that the response would be very great and that Iran would not remain silent or would tolerate striking any of its nuclear edifices and that the borders of the response would not be limited to the Israeli entity. US bases all over the region would be targets for the Iranians. Q: Would that be the case if Israel – and Israel alone – targeted Iran?

A: America holds the responsibility of this attack. There is a misunderstanding in the Arab world concerning the relation between Israel and America. We will repeat and reiterate it. This is the lie of the Zionist lobby which says that the Jews rule America and are the decision makers and the able and the like. No! America is the decision maker. In America there are major companies. There is a triplet or a troika: the oil companies, the arms companies and the so called Zionist-Christian Alliance. Israel was in the past a British tool. Now it is an American tool. According to our understanding and culture – which are the culture and understanding of Imam Khomeini (May Allah be content with him) and Iran – there is nothing like Israel moving and dragging America afterwards. America holds responsibility for whatever Israel does. Israel is a mere US tool. Well, it has pressing means through which it tries to convince the US administration. Both have ties with each other just like the son and his father. Perhaps the son does not give in to his father simply: I want this. Do that for me. Get that for me. However after all, the father is the decision maker. As far as what is taking place in the region, America is the decision maker. It holds the responsibility of every deed Israel undertakes. Q: In conclusion, in case Israel strikes Iran, Iran would deal with it as an Israeli-US strike. It would hit Israel directly as well as US bases in the region – all bases or what base?

A: They will strike as far as their hands can reach, and their hands reach far to do every good deed Inshallah. Q: For sure, you know that your stance as far as Syria is concerned has brought along tough and severe criticisms. Still and after more than seventeen months, you still stick even more to your stance as if your conviction has increased that what you have said in the first weeks has been verified after all this interval of time. Can you clearly explain to us your stance from what is taking place in Syria now?

Q: We have always tried to explain our stance in the various occasions. This is a new opportunity. You remember that all through the previous years, when the Arab movements started, Hezbollah used to distant itself from any internal situation in the Arab world. In more than one speech, I used to tell all the peoples who supported us in the Resistance before year 2000 and during July War: Don't expect from us or wait until we take part in any internal struggle between the peoples and the regimes. We committed ourselves to this stance. Thus when the Tunisian Revolution started, we did not comment or issue any statement or take a stance for the first week or ten days as you remember. Some misunderstood us as if we were against the Tunisian Revolution. We were rather moving according to the rule. However after all what was taking place in the Arab world – Tunisia, Yemen, Libya, Egypt and later Bahrain until reaching Syria – it was impossible to say I am not concerned or I don't want to express my position or take a position. Thus we set rules and bases. Whenever we carry discussions with other sides, I always tell them that any decision must be based on rules which must be the very rules always and which must not change from one place to another. We do not shift rifles from one shoulder to another. We do not alter our position as soon as some given which has to do with our instant interest alter. No, we have principles and rules. From the very first day, we said we have two rules. The first rule is the stance of this Arab regime from Israel, from the Palestinian cause, from the resistance, from the resistance movement, and from the US-Israeli project in the region. If this regime is with the US project… - i.e. negative - that would be against the interest of the resistance. Then that would be enough for us to be against the regime and with any rebel against this regime. So we view it from the perspective of the struggle in the region and the perspective of the Palestinian cause.

The second rule is if the regime is not willing to carry dialogue or reform. If we are before a regime which is within the US regime or at least negative as far as the struggle with the enemy is concerned and is also unwilling to carry dialogue or reforms, I would be with the people revolting against it whether they revolted against it civilly or militarily. I have no problem in that. Thus in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Bahrain we moved according to this rule. We did not even tell anyone not to resort to arms. However on the other hand, there is a regime which does not want dialogue, reform or does not want to address the crisis, the solution offered by the ruling side in Bahrain was that the people go back to their homes! However, when we come to Syria, from the very first day we moved according to these rules. Some people say: What is your religion, law or jurisprudence? Well this is the Qoran and the Prophetic Tradition. Let's resort to the Book of Allah and the Tradition of His Prophet. This is a country in which the regime is against Israel, against the Israeli project and against the US project as well. You know that the regime in Syria did not stand only with the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance; it also backed the Iraqi resistance in a clear open way. So there is someone who is saying I support whoever fights the US troops in Iraq. So the regime is showing extreme courage. They might say he did not open the Golan Front. However, he did what is more dangerous than opening the Golan Front and you do not dare to do what is much less dangerous as far as the resistance project and the resistance movements are concerned. Well, we have a regime of this kind. Second, well yes this regime has great problems. No one can say there are no problems. All or most of what is said about the problems is true. This is acknowledged by the people in the regime themselves. However, this regime showed willingness for dialogue and reform. So if we have a regime which is against Israel and with the resistance and is willing to carry dialogue and reforms, shall I go and fight it and destroy Syria? Shall I appeal for international military intervention to protect the civilians in Syria as we heard in the flash that the Head of the National Council is seeking that? What did the military intervention in Iraq lead to? It led to the killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Iraqi officials are saying so. Someone might ask: "What is the difference? Why are you with the revolutions in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Egypt while your stance is different in Syria? Indeed our stance is different because the regime in Syria is different according to the rules we talked about. First, it is with the resistance against Israel, and second, it has showed great willingness for dialogue and reforms. Well, let's go for dialogue. Here see where the essential danger lies. Here I have an advice to the Syrian Opposition. Indeed we do not accuse anyone or say they are traitors or collaborators though indeed there are collaborators who are paid agents to the Pentagon and the CIA. This exists. There are also people who are national and convinced in what they say. They have visions on which we might differ from them.

What I am saying is that from the very beginning the classification was wrong. When we in Hezbollah take a decision and even when Iran takes a decision that would be clear because we sensed this given with our hands. Well, let's talk in details. With the beginning of the events, I went to Syria during the first week and met President Bashar Assad. I told him: Your Excellence! It seems that the situation would develop. There are popular demands which are rightful. There is a number of files which must be addressed. The man said more than I did. I told him what the solution is then. Are you ready? And you know that we have friends in the Syrian Opposition who talked with us. It is also well known that there is a friendship between me and President Assad. Is there a way or a possibility for dialogue? He said: Yes, dialogue is possible. If they want direct dialogue, I am ready. If they want a sponsoring state, I am ready too. Q: This took place in the first week?

A: Yes, that took place during the first week. I told him: Your Highness! Are you ready to carry reforms? He said yes I am ready to carry reforms.

We know that the president in Syria is nominated through a referendum. I asked him: Do you agree to make an amendment so that the president would be elected? That means that one or three or five run the elections and compete then the president is elected? He said yes.

I asked: Do you accept so and so? He said yes. Do you accept such and such? He said yes. I even asked him a question which he then told me to keep as a secret because we must negotiate on it and we can't talk about. Still the man showed his willingness and then he executed it and it is not a secret anymore. I asked him even if negotiations with the Opposition led to their dissatisfaction with all of that and said we want to cancel Article VIII from the Constitution. He told me then that for the sake of addressing the internal situation in Syria, reunification and guarding Syria, I am willing to go to the end and to cancel Article VIII from the Constitution which considers the Socialist Arab Baath Party the leader of the state and the society.

I along with those whom I contacted, followed up with them – some of whom were Islamic movements as well as Iran and other countries – Q: Your Eminence! Is it difficult to clarify more?

A: There is no need to say names.Q: Do you mean the Islamic Opposition?

A: No! They are Islamic movements which have ties with the Syrian Islamic Opposition. The Iranians contacted the Syrian Islamic Opposition and the Syrian National Opposition.

Well, I am before such a regime and such a president who says he is ready for dialogue and he is ready for reforms and even for canceling Article VIII. If we want to carry reforms in Syria what might be done more than this? This is a constitutional change! However what took place? The Opposition refused to go into dialogue saying it wants no reforms and that it wants to topple the regime. Well, toppling the regime is something else, and this is where we differ. As far as toppling the regime is concerned, there is not any regime who would say: You are welcome! The floor is yours! No regime says that especially if it is a regime which has a vision, a stance, a strategy and a project and wants to defend its position. Thus things moved towards clashing, confrontation, and fighting, and consequently towards bloodshed and demolition.

Despite all what is taking place in Syria and despite what is taking place in the media which is provoking people to fight in Syria and despite fatwas which are being issued backing fighting in Syria and sending arms to Syria and sending money to Syria – indeed we never saw that while confronting Israel-, I from the very first day and until this very moment say I do not give anyone a fatwa to kill in Syria, I do not send arms to Syria, I do not send money to Syria. I rather say: Stop fight and let's head towards dialogue. Let's reach a political settlement. There are sponsoring countries. Iran is willing to be a sponsoring country as well as Russia.

Didn't Moscow call the opposition for dialogue in Moscow? Though the Syrian leadership first said that it does not accept dialogue except in Damascus, it then retreated and accepted dialogue in Moscow. The Opposition did not accept, and this is a mistake in evaluation. What are we saying? We are saying: Do not destroy Syria. Do not disjoint Syria. Do not ruin Syria. Spare its blood and guard its people and army. It is the only army which is outside US hegemony. Until this very moment and despite all what took place from the moral, humanistic, legitimate and political levels, the only acceptable logic is that people stop fighting and go back to the dialogue table to seek a political settlement. Q: Even after all of this bloodshed. There are thousands-

A: This is fate. In Lebanon, 200 thousands were killed, and the country was destroyed and ruined. What choice did the Lebanese have? Do we carry on demolishing and ruining and destroying each other and canceling each other or do we move towards a settlement that addresses the situation?

I have a different approach to the regime of Saddam Hussein. Now some Arab nationalists would feel at odds with me. I believe that the regime of Saddam Hussein offered great services to Israel: his war against Iran and his war against Kuwait and bringing the Americans to the Gulf…. However when the Americans came to occupy Iraq, we in Hezbollah announced a stance which is against the US War against Iraq and against occupying Iraq. Some would say our stance was sectarian. We also called for an Iraqi national dialogue. With who? We called the Iraqi Opposition to carry an Iraqi national dialogue with Saddam Hussein. We called for an Iraqi Taif. We called for resorting to ballot boxes and for elections. We called for an establishing council in Iraq. We called for a constitutional change. Then I was abused by many people in Iraq and Kuwait among other places. However, that did not change our stance.

Even more, we contacted the Iraqi Opposition. We did not seek to record a stance only. We contacted the Iraqi Opposition and talked with the Iranians. During the last visit made by Iraqi FM (Naji Sabri) Al Hudaithi to Tehran, Kamal Kharazi was then the Iranian FM. The proposal I made was presented. The Iranians adopted the proposal I talked about without prior coordination with the Iranians. However, Al Hudaithi made the very mistake the Syrian Opposition is making now. He said: What are you saying? We can pile them in two Pullmans and throw them in Euphrates River. So he did not acknowledge the Iraqi Opposition and he did not accept to make dialogue with the Opposition. Still that was our position as far as Iraq is concerned.

Today, we are taking the very stance so as to spare Syria more demolition, killing, bloodshed and devastation. We also have a president and a regime which says I am ready for dialogue, reforms, settlement and to stop bloodshed. Though first they said they want national dialogue, now they are ready because there is a state which is sponsoring dialogue. Q: Several states, Gulf states, and almost all the world are requiring changing the regime and they put an essential condition for that which is toppling president Bashar Assad. Do you believe this might be a solution?

A: In the opposition, things may differ from one and another. However, these states aim at toppling the regime and not toppling Bashar Assad in person. It is required that this regime, strategy, position, and political option on the regional and internal levels change. So toppling the president is not the whole story. It is required that the political regime in Syria change its options and turn into an Arab "excessiveness" and not moderation system. That's because there is nothing called Arab moderation. This is lying and we are reducing its impact on us. There is a true Arab excessiveness regime in every dimension. It is required that the regime in Syria change into an Arab excessiveness regime. Now if President Bashar Assad personally and those with him accept to change into an Arab excessiveness system the story will be over in Syria. Some comrades in the Opposition will discover that they were being exploited in a project which has nothing to do with reforms, changes, democracy and elections.

I even have more to say. Amid the crisis, one of the primary Arab states who are backing the armed movement in Syria as well as American sides sent the following message to President Bashar Assad through mediators: Change your stance with respect to the Israeli topic, and sever your ties with Iran and Hezbollah, Hamas and the resistance movements in the region and you can then consider the story over. Q: Influential Gulf states?

A: I said an Arab state. Do not seek to go deeper. A time may come when we may call things with their names.

So the story is not that of reforms. The man is ready for carrying reforms and has carried many reforms so far. If they say these reforms can't be implemented, well we can get sponsoring countries. Call on Syria's friends whom you attack and accuse to guarantee that these reforms be executed. So the story is not that of reforms or changing the person of the president. The story is that of the regime, the position and the political choice. This is the truth. This is what we dubbed in Egypt as the state of uncertainty. This is what Mrs. Clinton said. She said: We are in a state of uncertainty. So far we are seeing a loss which might not be concluded. What compensates in the strategic environment? Losing Egypt might be compensated by the loss of Syria by the resistance axis. Here I am telling you the resistance axis will not lose it in all cases. Q: Leader Sayyed Ali Khamenai himself talked and approached this issue. He defended as if Iran is willing to get engaged – and I am not saying to take an adventure - in any option. Did things reach that much on the Iranian level?

A: The Iranian approach is that they believe that the alternative would be an excessiveness regime. Things would even be worse than that if a regime was established on the mistakes which are being perpetrated. Now it is unknown where to Syria is heading. So let's limit ourselves to the regime and the alternative regime. Establishing an Arab excessiveness regime is very dangerous on the region, on Syria, on Lebanon, on Palestine and on the sanctities. We know that Iran's stance from Israel is final. America's policy in the region and Middle East policy is Israeli. That means that it sees Israel's interest. Iran's policy in the region is rather to the interest of the Middle East and Palestine. That means that it views the region from the gate of Palestine and Al Qods. Thus he takes this stance because he knows the repercussions of this stance. Still I want to make clear that when the Islamic Republic or Imam Khamenai takes this stance he would be saying at the same time: keep the regime and make reforms. Let no one say we want the regime to remain as it is.

For example as far as Bahrain is concerned, at one stage Iranian-Saudi meetings took place at a senior level in the past few months. The Saudi official told the Iranian - who was not a mediator but rather discussing regional files: The solution in Bahrain is that the Bahraini people are called on to go back home. He even said more. He said that these are religious and form an Islamic movement. They believe in Wilayat Al Faqih. So let the Wali Al Faqih tell them: O men! Go home. Then they will go back home and the story will be over in Bahrain. This is a mere simplification which means that the regime remains as it is. As far as Syria is concerned, no one said let the regime remain as it is. We are saying that the regime requires reform. The people there are ready to carry reforms. However, toppling the regime serves America and Israel. Thus the expression made by Imam Khamenai was clear and final.Q: What does that mean on the Iranian level?

A: Iran is exerting true efforts in the nonaligned movements. All through a year and five or six months, Iran had been dispatching delegations to Turkey. It partook in discussions and talks with the Turks. When Egypt announced forming or the draft of forming a committee – despite it being incompetent – which comprised Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, the latter did not hesitate. When Kofi Annan came, they absolutely cooperated with him. Whenever there was a call for an international or regional activity to help, Iran used to offer help. It did not take any stance. It only says: O people! Let's stop the war and head for dialogue. We are ready to offer the guarantees you want. It is offering that not to say that it did what it must do and then turns its back. No it is really working on this issue, and it is working to form a serious and true communication group so as to reach the required end in Syria. Q: In case military intervention took place in Syria under the pretext of toppling the regime and rescuing the Syrian people, as the Opposition says, what may Iran?

A: I do not know.Q: Do you expect military intervention in Syria?

A: I rule that out. First the Europeans talked to that effect. Indeed there is a problem in the capabilities. The French were clear that the NATO without the Americans can't do anything. The Americans are in trouble now. They have withdrawn from Iraq. The scene might have been better than that. It was possible that they withdraw in humiliation and from a definite perspective they withdrew with humiliation. That means the Iraqi government and the Iraqi political components scored high when they unanimously refused to grant immunity to American officers and soldiers what ended up in their withdrawal.

So the Americans withdrew from Iraq. Do you know what does Iraq mean? Today the Americans are searching for a way to negotiate with Taliban. Taliban's headquarters are in Qatar. Is the decision solely Qatari? It is more than that. The Americans are searching for a way to sit with Taliban and talk with them to wrap up the story of Afghanistan. Q: Do you mean by "more than that" that it is the seat for negotiations between America and Taliban?

A: Well, it might be so.

So the Americans are not in a state that allows them to get engaged in more wars and assume the expenses and responsibility of more wars. I also believe that as far as Israel's interest in striking Iran is concerned, the Americans are afraid that might lead them to a war and consequently why do they want to make a war in Syria? This is first.

The second point is where to would the repercussions of military intervention in Syria lead the region? This is open, and no one has guarantees. There is an essential weak point in western, American or a NATO military intervention in Syria – namely Israel and that was not the case in Libya.

Third, who said that the Americans want things to be settled in Syria? Ask the Syrian Opposition. Don't they have doubts in the US position? That does not mean that America wants the regime to remain. No! America wants the war to take its time so that Syria would be destroyed and so that no army and people would remain. This is what America wants. This is what it worked on in Iraq. The first thing it did when it entered Iraq is that it dismantled the Iraqi Army though it could have used the Iraqi Army. Second, it opened the gate wide open for internal ordeal and civil war. I am responsible of what I am saying and I swear by Allah that many of the suicide bombers – the Islamists who detonated themselves in the Shiite and Sunnite mosques and in Christian churches – were brought along to Iraq and their missions were facilitated by US officers because America wants ordeal in Iraq. However, the stance of scholars in Iraq and religious authorities as well as political forces prevented a major sectarian war. The Iraqis have really paid a high price. America wants what it wanted to do in Iraq and failed to do, because of the Iraqi resistance against the US occupation and the political performance, stance and steadfastness, to take place in Syria.

America may be able and may be uninterested. That's because Israel's response in the region may lead the whole region to be engaged in a war. That may not be the case too. However, for sure America is not in a hurry. The scene in Syria appeals to it. Why? You have hinted to that in the prelude. That's because that scene will not be limited to Syria. This scene has its repercussions on the entire region. It also reorganizes alliances and coalitions. The US-Israeli dream in the region is that chaos prevails so that Israel remains the diamond on top of the crown while conflicts spread on racial, national, sectarian, factional, regional, and tribal considerations. Can't we see that the region is moving in that direction?

I rule that out, and the shouting of the Syrian Opposition is the best evidence. I mean why are they shouting daily? That's because they went and met and heard the US unwillingness at the mean time. I am not denying that in the future. I am telling the Syrian Opposition, the Syrian people as well as the Syrian Army this must make you more suspicious of the Americans and the US administration as well as Israel. Q: But how can Syria carry on while there is internal and popular division and division even at the level of the neighboring countries, at the level of ties with Turkey and the Arab states? Syria was detached from the Arab League and the Islamic Cooperation Organization and its ties with Turkey are very bad. What would remain in Syria even if the regime remained?

A: The true step to be taken now is that the major regional countries which have to do with what is taking place in Syria - meaning Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt as well taking into consideration that it has a somehow different approach – backed with international aid meet for dialogue to seek a settlement and a political solution in Syria. There is no other solution. To be fair and square, no one can ask the regime to give in as it is a regime and not a person, and no one can ask the Opposition also to give in and tell them to go home as what took place in Bahrain. To be fair and to take both sides into consideration, you have to say: Stop fighting. There are sponsoring countries. Let's go for dialogue. Thus we would head towards a political settlement. This is what preserves Syria for all and preserves all of us too. The greatest service which would be made now for Palestine and Al Qods and for the Muslim scholars who are worried about Al Aqsa Mosque – and we all have the right to be worried about Al Aqsa Mosque and Al Qods from the Judaizing campaign – and the Palestinian cause, the Palestinian people and the unity of the nation is that these state together impose on the regime in Syria and the Opposition in Syria a ceasefire, a dialogue table, and a political settlement. That would be the best peaceful end. Any other logic would be seeking to reach a result which is controlled by emotions more than by minds. Q: As you have hinted to this point, we may move to tackle the serious repercussions of the Syrian crisis on the sectarian and factional relations in our Arab countries. Your Eminence! Do you agree with us that there is a division, a kind of sedition, and great congestion whether in Syria or outside Syria? Even in the approach you mentioned now, didn't you start from the very active, Islamic, intellectual rule which you share with a great number of Islamic movements along which you have struggled? You were together in the opposition. Now a section of these oppositions is ruling. Still, you are all now at odds. So how are we to put an end to this sedition, and what can you tell us about this Shiite-Sunnite congestion in particular which we have been witnessing lately? Many Sunnites believe that the issue has a sectarian and factional dimension. There is a Shiite Crescent in the process of formation here, and there is a desire for hegemony over this majority.

At the same time, there may be small groups who think as such. But major Islamic movements and senior religious men too think in the same logic.

What shall we do to spare the nation the essential woes as far as the Shiite-Sunnite sedition is concerned?

A: It is a major mistake to give what is taking place in Syria a sectarian dimension for it is not as such. It is rather a conflict between political choices. In Syria, some people are with the regime while others are against the regime. There are scholars whose knowledge and piety are acknowledged and who have jurisprudential, intellectual and political vision on what is taking place. They are Sunnite religious men whether in Syria or outside Syria.

Well, today the higher voice – if it is possible to express it as such – is the voice which is trying to give the issue a sectarian or factional dimension and that has to do with the media capabilities and some positions. Well this is dangerous, and this is not to the interest of the opposition in Syria or to the interest of reforms and changes in Syria. That's because he who cares for Syria and its unity and for changing the regime or reforming the regime must not touch this dangerous aspect – namely the sectarian and the factional dimension. That is because going deep in this dimension means destroying Syria or dividing it. It does not by any means mean reforming it or carrying changes in it.

First, we must pay attention to this point. True we are before a crisis which does not have to do with Syria only. The crisis is striking the chord of Shiite-Sunnite sedition and trying to exploit all what is taking place and investing it in a sectarian way. Thus all of us in the Islamic world are concerned to contain this event to prevent it from spreading wider.

Let's take what was taking place in Iraq as an example. What took place in Iraq was not simple. There are tens of thousands of martyrs, casualties and wounded.

When the Takfiri group – whom I believe are backed by the CIA – exploded the Shrine of Imamain Askariian in Samarra, we organized a demonstration. I talked and said that some would accuse the Sunnites of detonating the shrine in Samarra noting that this shrine has been embraced by the Sunnite Samarra City for more than 1000 years. It guards it dearly. So how are we now to say the Sunnites attacked the Shrine? Go and search for the Takfiri groups and those who back them. The Takfiri who kills me kills you. The Takfiri who explodes this shrine explodes a mosque with a Salafi imam.

I once heard something that took place in Pakistan and was startled by it. I asked who this imam is. Is he a Sufi? They said no the imam is Salafi. He was killed along with 100 persons who are performing Friday prayers in the suicide attack. The reason was because he criticized Taliban's political and military performance during the previous Friday sermon and defended the Pakistani Army. Thus they send this suicide bomber for him and killed him along with 100 prayers.

The story is not that of Sunnites and Shiites. There is a Takfiri movement that attacks all other sides and is being invested by intelligence agencies.

Wasn't it possible that the story turn to a mounting Sunnite-Shiite ordeal that might have spread all over the Islamic world? Shiites and Sunnites might have killed each other wherever they would be. However the stance of the religious authorities and the position of the political leaderships in and outside Iraq helped in seeking reunification. If an explosion took place, we have to seek reunification. Thousands of martyrs were on the streets. They are the visitors of Imam Hussein in Karbala. There are 100, 200 or 400 martyrs. Let's seek reunification. We must not fall in the trap installed by the Takfiri groups and those who back them.

The worst danger we may face cause political disagreement at most. However we give it a sectarian dimension. That is typical to the disagreements that take place in Lebanon. This opens the gate for the responsibility that must be assumed by religious elites and authorities whether institutions or leaderships in the Arab and Islamic world and whether they are Sunnites or Shiites. We must sit and approach this issue. Political elites and the Islamic movements must seek a serious true dialogue and not a theatrical one. We are not seeking conferences. Conferences provide a good atmosphere. People sit with each other and shake hands with each other and embrace each other. That makes a tension-relieving scene. However what we need is not televised conferences. We rather need to sit with each other and carry a serious discussion with each other.

We may ask about the issues that are leading now to evoking Sunnite-Shiite provocations. The Syrian issue is one of them. It is being invested to this effect. However, in fact it has nothing to do with that. It was rather being invested in this direction.

We may put a list of crises and head for addressing them. There are things which the Shiites must assume and things which the Sunnites must assume. I will give two actual examples so as not to go on talking in a general way.

They talk about Shiite expansion. Al Azhar senior Sheikh always warns against this expansion in Egypt and asserts that he will prevent it. Where is the Shiite expansion in Egypt, Your Eminence dear Sheikh? We do not want to invent an illusion and call it an enemy. Where is the Shiite expansion?

I will go back to figures later. I recall that the counselor of one of the Arab princes talked to me two years ago and said that some Gulf rulers have an issue which must be addressed. I asked him what this issue is. He answered: There is a conviction that you as well as President Bashar Assad are converting Syrians to Shiites and that there are 7 million Shiites in Syria. This is not true but it may be believed after all. Thus we sit and discuss this issue. What is the truth about Shiite expansion? We resort to facts and figures. Indeed that is not true. I went to Damascus and told them this. Syrian intelligence even worked at that. There are not even hundreds in Syria.

Hundreds of Shiites converted to Sunnites. Today, the world is open to each other. People watch TV outlets, satellite channels and the internet. Shiites are converting into Sunnites and Sunnites are converting to Shiites. These are personal cases and not an expansion. You are talking about millions who are converting into Shiites! Where are they? If that is true, who is responsible for that so that we address this issue?

This is one problem.

Some Shiites maltreat the companions of the Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon him and his Household). Our religious authorities must take a stance. His Eminence Imam Khamenai took a frank and clear stance saying that maltreating Um Al Mumineen Sayyeda Aisha or the companions of the Prophet of Allah or the Islamic symbols is forbidden. Q: Your Eminence! What are you saying?

A: All of us say that, and I am not an authority for Taqlid. I am rather someone who follows the Jurist leader and I back this inclination. We now go to address this issue and say where from this Shiite person who has a satellite channel in London got his money? Search among your group – the British and the British intelligence – who furnished him with money and allowed him to stay and permitted him to have this satellite channel to stir sedition between Sunnites and Shiites. Well, great! These are two examples.

Here I am telling them: Stop the so and so satellite channels – without naming them and making an advertisement for them – who work day and night to label all other sects and not only Shiites as unbelievers. They got their money from you. They belong to you and their seats are your countries.

This Takfiri wave is based on killing. I would like to be clear at the end of the interview. I do not ask for a certificate on my Islam from anyone, and I do not want a certificate on my Islam. In the Islamic Summit they said they would like to carry dialogue between the various sects and they considered Jaafari Shiites one of these eight sects which they acknowledged. I do not aspire to that.

Let us remain unbelievers in your viewpoint but do not deem our blood, money and honor permissible.

What is worse than labeling others unbelievers is killing them and labeling the blood of Muslims permissible. To kill an American soldier or to explode a small Wells car, there is no problem if 50 Iraqis or 50 Syrians were killed!

How do we solve this problem, and where did the Takfiri come from? Where is his money from? Who supports him? Who covers him? Let's address this crisis.

Well brothers! Where do our problems lie as Shiites and Sunnites? Let's address what you as well as we must address. There are very many common points in religion, ideology, jurisprudence, values, teachings and interests as an Islamic nation. Let's fix these common points. There is no way out in fact except through a serious, truthful and careful internal discussion.Q: How can you spare Lebanon this crisis?

A: In Lebanon, we are exerting huge efforts. I called for endorsing an honor covenant because in Lebanon they are working on evoking ordeals. When I say "I", I don't want to hold some people responsible and spare others this responsibility.

As for the Shiites, we are being responsible. Resort to the archives since April 2000 or let's say 2005 until this very day. Whenever a Shiite religious man in Lebanon or a Shiite personality, a Shiite deputy or minister or professor or a Shiite daily or a Shiite TV channel maltreats Sunnites or Sunnite figures or sanctities, we take a stance against him. However, in the other hand, it is required from our brethrens in the Sunnite leadership and Sunnite scholars and political forces in the kind Sunnite sect to take a stance as well.

At times I criticize the Future Movement on political grounds. I do not criticize Sunnites; in fact, many of the Sunnites are our allies, friends and dear ones. They stand by our side on the most difficult situations. My disagreement with the Future Movement is political. However, when a mufti here or a Sheikh there or a professor or a daily evokes this file saying: You Shiites of Lebanon have been as such all through you history. This is an attack on Shiites and on the symbols of Shiites. That would lead to a difficult situation. Horns of ordeal must be silenced. This is the responsibility of Sunnite leaderships.

I always tried to transcend this issue. However, those who when talking day and night and in Friday sermons and in interviews and while voicing their political stances, abuse and maltreat Shiites – so he is not criticizing or arguing with us; they are rather abusing and maltreating the Shiite figures in Lebanon – must be silenced.

So far we are practicing control and enlightenment. We will carry on as such and we have no preference in that. Many Sunnite leaderships and scholars in Lebanon are exerting much effort. I know that and I am not saying so out of courtesy. What is more important always when talking about an honor covenant is to transcend sectarian speech and to start with a kind word. Hereof we get started.

I say that the solution in Lebanon is as such; let there be political argument and political disagreement; let there be overlap of interests or concurrence of interests; however, let's evade sectarian and factional speech and let us disagree to the furthest extent. If we guarantee this evasion to a considerable degree we can transcend what we are experiencing. Q: We come now to Lebanon. There is a legitimate question after passing through all of these stages. Why do you still adhere to this government?

A: I will defend the government in something it is oppressed with. This government is not less efficient from the previous governments. Let the other political bloc tell us what the great efficiency which the previous government achieved and the current government failed to achieve is! In Lebanon we have a governmental crisis. This is a manifestation of the political crisis and the complicate political structure. It has nothing to do with the current structure of the current government. This is first.

So I am not going to get started from efficiency and inefficiency. I believe that this government is as efficient as the previous governments. True it does not express the aspirations of the people and the aspirations of the forces partaking in it. If some political forces who partake in it criticize it, that would be because they aspire to better its efficiency. However, what is more important in our view point and within the current internal and regional given is that we believe that preserving stability and security in Lebanon to a great degree is possible through keeping this government. Some seek to push things in Lebanon towards chaos. They move in that direction, we daily hear threats. Well, if this government ceased to be that means we would be stepping to the unknown. Choosing between the known and the unknown, we are with the known regardless of the remarks on it. Q: Why don't you form a neutral government – a technocrat government which might supervise the upcoming elections? Why don't you form a national unity government again?

A: He who knows Lebanon knows that in Lebanon there is not anything such as a neutral government. This is nonsense. The technocrat in Lebanon is political. In Lebanon, we have politicized children, bread is political, and the employee is politicized. There is not anything neutral or technocrat or the like.

As for a national unity government, President Mikati said he wants to form a national unity government, and they blocked him for a month. The other side refused a national unity government. It's not we who used to refuse that. Q: Now do you back a national unity government. Do you have a problem in forming it?

A: I believe that the current internal and the regional given are not helpful. For example, in case President Mikati resigned or if the government was toppled and anyone was named even at the condition of forming a national unity government, such a government won't be formed in less than five or six months. For how long did we stay to form not a national unity government but rather the current majority government? We – the current majority Bloc - stayed for four or five months arguing among each other and with the Premier and the President of the Republic before we could form this government. If we are to form a national unity government we would need a year and not five months. The country does not tolerate governmental vacancy. Q: Your Eminence! There remains the cause of the kidnapped. Perhaps it is a catastrophic painful cause. Lately you have detached yourselves from handling it. You tackled it when it first took place. However after all of these developments we can't but tackle it. Where did this cause reach?

A: From the very beginning and as far as this cause is concerned, we said that the government must assume the responsibility. Something ambiguous took place somewhere – that is if we went back to the very beginning of the story – when the Premier and the Speaker were told that the kidnapped are now in Turkey and would come to Lebanon from there. It was natural that people in Lebanon celebrate. Q: Your Eminence! At that time you said they are safe. Suddenly, it appeared that they are in somewhere else.

A: The side which was mediating – namely PM Saad Hariri and his friends – informed the Premier, the Speaker and the President and we too were informed via some officials in the Lebanese state who are friends of Saad Hariri that the kidnapped are now in Turkey and that we will dispatch a plane to Turkey to return them to Beirut. Thus the people celebrated. Thus I showed up, as I had a speech then, and thanked the officials and all the rest of it. Then it was revealed that the scene is different. An ambiguity took place. We will not handle it extensively. Then the kidnappers tried to exploit this ambiguity to make political demands. As a result of the sensitivity of this issue and as the government must assume the responsibility, we referred the issue to the government and the state and they are following the case. There is hope that things reach a good ending…. Some Muslim scholars in the North are also helping. Many thanks to them and may Allah reward them on that.

Finally, I would like to say something. If anyone wants to convince us of a stance from what is taking place in Syria, we are ready for discussion. We do not close the door before anyone. Come and try to convince me. I will listen to your logic and you will listen to my logic. But do not take a group of innocent people and detain them and detach them from their families and exploit them in the media to practice pressure on me and on others so that I change my political stance. This is not my political stance. This stance is based on a viewpoint. They may call it "jurisprudence" or "an understanding". In all cases, this is an incorrect way. If they are guests, my message tonight via Al-Mayadeen is: If they are guests and you are honoring and hosting them, thanks for your hospitality. However, isn't it due time that this hospitality come to an end? The Arabs host for three or for days and then things are over. So these are innocent people. It's not through this scene that you convince others about the upcoming future in Syria. It's not through detaining innocent people so as to pressure another political party or more than one political party to change its viewpoint. If you are truly freedom seekers, don't detain innocent people then. If you are justice seekers, do not be unjust to oppressed people. Consequently, this issue can't be addressed in such a way. Q: Are you sure none of them is a Hezbollah member?

A: None of them is! They are a group of visitors. Most of them are old in age. They detained them on the Turkish borders and said that Hezbollah dispatched them to execute operations! This is absurd. Anyway I do not want to go more into details. Tonight as I wrap my word, I address the kidnappers saying: If you are freedom seekers, set free the detainees. If you are justice seekers, do not be unjust to them. If you really care for having a relation with the Lebanese people – even some said with the Shiites – that's not how relations are built. As for exploiting the innocent to practice pressure on the various political parties to change their stance, this will not lead anywhere. Q: On the other hand, there are kidnapped here and even in Dahiyeh. Your Eminence! In your latest speech, you clearly said things are beyond control. Perhaps you heard the great comments that were made to the effect that Sayyed Nasrallah is threatening and consequently he is talking in his own language – namely the language of arms.

A: No! I said let the people understand that as it appeals to them. I gave a shout of the agonized. You can't come and call on me to control the situation. There is a problem here. Today there is a difficult situation in the country. All people possess arms whether before or after Hezbollah owned arms. All the people have courage and heroes and are able to form military wings. This is the status quo of the country. What is required today from us all is to cooperate to preserve civil peace and the security and stability of the country in every possible way. However, as Hezbollah, I can't undertake an armed action under the title of security and stability. Here is where the problem lies. If we resorted to arms to establish security and stability, they would say "a state within a state" or "he is practicing the power of arms". If we did not put this power into effect they would say "They are not controlling chaos and they assume the responsibility of this chaos". This has become illogical. All what we are saying is that the state is responsible of controlling the security situation. Our political, social, and moral responsibility and our special ties help us to offer aid in keeping the situation under control. However, when as a result of media provocation we reach an uncontrollable situation, do you want the people not to block the Airport Highway while TV screens are broadcasting that the 11 kidnapped were killed in Azzaz. How can then I prevent the people from blocking the Airport Highway? Shall I hold arms in their face? I am not ready to hold arms in their face. Lately things have moved beyond control. Thus the kidnapping operations which took place weren't to our knowledge. We did not agree on them. We are not content with them. I do not accept that anyone be kidnapped. When the incidents first started, I said there are innocent people. Do not aggress against people. There are many detainees whom we even made contacts through our friendships and said that it is nonsense to keep them.Q: The Pope will visit Lebanon soon. Does Hezbollah have a definite vision, stance, or viewpoint from this historic visit?

A: As we have welcomed the visit of the late Pope, in the name of Hezbollah and the masses of Hezbollah, we welcome the visit of the Pope to Lebanon as is the stance of the rest of the Lebanese. We will deal with this visit as an extraordinary historic visit and we will stand next to the rest of Muslims and to the Christians in Lebanon, and Inshallah we are ready to partake and express our presence and respect in all the agenda programs in which all the Lebanese with their various belongings are supposed to partake.