Thursday, May 30, 2013

Interview given by President al-Assad to Lebanese Al-Manar TV (UPDATED WITH VIDEO)

President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to al-Manar TV broadcasted on Thursday. Following is the full text of the interview:

Al-Manar: In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Assalamu Alaikum. Bloodshed in Syria continues unabated. This is the only constant over which there is little disagreement between those loyal to the Syrian state and those opposed to it. However, there is no common ground over the other constants and details two years into the current crisis. At the time, a great deal was said about the imminent fall of the regime. Deadlines were set and missed; and all those bets were lost. Today, we are here in the heart of Damascus, enjoying the hospitality of a president who has become a source of consternation to many of his opponents who are still unable to understand the equations that have played havoc with their calculations and prevented his ouster from the Syrian political scene. This unpleasant and unexpected outcome for his opponents upset their schemes and plots because they didn’t take into account one self-evident question: what happens if the regime doesn’t fall? What if President Assad doesn’t leave the Syrian scene? Of course, there are no clear answers; and the result is more destruction, killing and bloodshed. Today there is talk of a critical juncture for Syria. The Syrian Army has moved from defense to attack, achieving one success after another. On a parallel level, stagnant diplomatic waters have been shaken by discussions over a Geneva 2 conference becoming a recurrent theme in the statements of all parties. There are many questions which need answers: political settlement, resorting to the military option to decide the outcome, the Israeli enemy’s direct interference with the course of events in the current crisis, the new equations on the Golan Heights, the relationship with opponents and friends. What is the Syrian leadership’s plan for a way out of a complex and dangerous crisis whose ramifications have started to spill over into neighboring countries? It is our great pleasure tonight to put these questions to H. E. President Bashar al-Assad. Assalamu Alaikum, Mr. President.

President Assad: Assalamu Alaikum. You are most welcome in Damascus.

Al-Manar: Mr. President, we are in the heart of the People’s Palace, two and a half years into the Syrian crisis. At the time, the bet was that the president and his regime would be overthrown within weeks. How have you managed to foil the plots of your opponents and enemies? What is the secret behind this steadfastness?

President Assad: There are a number of factors are involved. One is the Syrian factor, which thwarted their intentions; the other factor is related to those who masterminded these scenarios and ended up defeating themselves because they do not know Syria or understand in detail the situation. They started with the calls of revolution, but a real revolution requires tangible elements; you cannot create a revolution simply by paying money. When this approach failed, they shifted to using sectarian slogans in order to create a division within our society. Even though they were able to infiltrate certain pockets in Syrian society, pockets of ignorance and lack of awareness that exist in any society, they were not able to create this sectarian division. Had they succeeded, Syria would have been divided up from the beginning. They also fell into their own trap by trying to promote the notion that this was a struggle to maintain power rather than a struggle for national sovereignty. No one would fight and martyr themselves in order to secure power for anyone else.

Al-Manar: In the battle for the homeland, it seems that the Syrian leadership, and after two and a half years, is making progress on the battlefield. And here if I might ask you, why have you chosen to move from defense to attack? And don’t you think that you have been late in taking the decision to go on the offensive, and consequently incurred heavy losses, if we take of Al-Qseir as an example.

President Assad: It is not a question of defense or attack. Every battle has its own tactics. From the beginning, we did not deal with each situation from a military perspective alone. We also factored in the social and political aspects as well - many Syrians were misled in the beginning and there were many friendly countries that didn’t understand the domestic dynamics. Your actions will differ according to how much consensus there is over a particular issue. There is no doubt that as events have unfolded Syrians have been able to better understand the situation and what is really at stake. This has helped the Armed Forces to better carry out their duties and achieve results. So, what is happening now is not a shift in tactic from defense to attack, but rather a shift in the balance of power in favor of the Armed Forces.

Al-Manar: How has this balance been tipped, Mr. President? Syria is being criticized for asking for the assistance of foreign fighters, and to be fully candid, it is said that Hezbollah fighters are extending assistance. In a previous interview, you said that there are 23 million Syrians; we do not need help from anyone else. What is Hezbollah doing in Syria?

President Assad: The main reason for tipping the balance is the change in people’s opinion in areas that used to incubate armed groups, not necessarily due to lack of patriotism on their part, but because they were deceived. They were led to believe that there was a revolution against the failings of the state. This has changed; many individuals have left these terrorist groups and have returned to their normal lives. As to what is being said about Hezbollah and the participation of foreign fighters alongside the Syrian Army, this is a hugely important issue and has several factors. Each of these factors should be clearly understood. Hezbollah, the battle at Al-Qseir and the recent Israeli airstrike – these three factors cannot be looked at in isolation of the other, they are all a part of the same issue. Let’s be frank. In recent weeks, and particularly after Mr. Hasan Nasrallah’s speech, Arab and foreign media have said that Hezbollah fighters are fighting in Syria and defending the Syrian state, or to use their words “the regime.” Logically speaking, if Hezbollah or the resistance wanted to defend Syria by sending fighters, how many could they send - a few hundred, a thousand or two? We are talking about a battle in which hundreds of thousands of Syrian troops are involved against tens of thousands of terrorists, if not more because of the constant flow of fighters from neighboring and foreign countries that support those terrorists. So clearly, the number of fighters Hezbollah might contribute in order to defend the Syrian state in its battle, would be a drop in the ocean compared to the number of Syrian soldiers fighting the terrorists. When also taking into account the vast expanse of Syria, these numbers will neither protect a state nor ‘regime.’ This is from one perspective. From another, if they say they are defending the state, why now? Battles started after Ramadan in 2011 and escalated into 2012, the summer of 2012 to be precise. They started the battle to “liberate Damascus” and set a zero hour for the first time, the second time and a third time; the four generals were assassinated, a number of individuals fled Syria, and many people believed that was the time the state would collapse. It didn’t. Nevertheless, during all of these times, Hezbollah never intervened, so why would it intervene now? More importantly, why haven’t we seen Hezbollah fighting in Damascus and Aleppo? The more significant battles are in Damascus and in Aleppo, not in Al-Qseir. Al-Qseir is a small town in Homs, why haven’t we seen Hezbollah in the city of Homs? Clearly, all these assumptions are inaccurate. They say Al-Qseir is a strategic border town, but all the borders are strategic for the terrorists in order to smuggle in their fighters and weapons. So, all these propositions have nothing to do with Hezbollah. If we take into account the moans and groans of the Arab media, the statements made by Arab and foreign officials – even Ban Ki-moon expressed concern over Hezbollah in Al-Qseir – all of this is for the objective of suppressing and stifling the resistance. It has nothing to do with defending the Syrian state. The Syrian army has made significant achievements in Damascus, Aleppo, rural Damascus and many other areas; however, we haven’t heard the same moaning as we have heard in Al-Qseir.

Al-Manar: But, Mr. President, the nature of the battle that you and Hezbollah are waging in Al-Qseir seems, to your critics, to take the shape of a safe corridor connecting the coastal region with Damascus. Consequently, if Syria were to be divided, or if geographical changes were to be enforced, this would pave the way for an Alawite state. So, what is the nature of this battle, and how is it connected with the conflict with Israel.

President Assad: First, the Syrian and Lebanese coastal areas are not connected through Al-Qseir. Geographically this is not possible. Second, nobody would fight a battle in order to move towards separation. If you opt for separation, you move towards that objective without waging battles all over the country in order to be pushed into a particular corner. The nature of the battle does not indicate that we are heading for division, but rather the opposite, we are ensuring we remain a united country. Our forefathers rejected the idea of division when the French proposed this during their occupation of Syria because at the time they were very aware of its consequences. Is it possible or even fathomable that generations later, we their children, are less aware or mindful? Once again, the battle in Al-Qseir and all the bemoaning is related to Israel. The timing of the battle in Al-Qseir was synchronized with the Israeli airstrike. Their objective is to stifle the resistance. This is the same old campaign taking on a different form. Now what’s important is not al-Qseir as a town, but the borders; they want to stifle the resistance from land and from the sea. Here the question begs itself - some have said that the resistance should face the enemy and consequently remain in the south. This was said on May 7, 2008, when some of Israel’s agents in Lebanon tried to tamper with the communications system of the resistance; they claimed that the resistance turned its weapons inwards. They said the same thing about the Syrian Army; that the Syrian Army should fight on the borders with Israel. We have said very clearly that our Army will fight the enemy wherever it is. When the enemy is in the north, we move north; the same applies if the enemy comes from the east or the west. This is also the case for Hezbollah. So the question is why is Hezbollah deployed on the borders inside Lebanon or inside Syria? The answer is that our battle is a battle against the Israeli enemy and its proxies inside Syria or inside Lebanon.

Al-Manar: Mr. President, if I might ask about Israel’s involvement in the Syrian crisis through the recent airstrike against Damascus. Israel immediately attached certain messages to this airstrike by saying it doesn’t want escalation or doesn’t intend to interfere in the Syrian crisis. The question is: what does Israel want and what type of interference?

President Assad: This is exactly my point. Everything that is happening at the moment is aimed, first and foremost, at stifling the resistance. Israel’s support of the terrorists was for two purposes. The first is to stifle the resistance; the second is to strike the Syrian air defense systems. It is not interested in anything else.

Al-Manar: Mr. President, since Israel’s objectives are clear, the Syrian state was criticized for its muted response. Everyone was expecting a Syrian response, and the Syrian government stated that it reserves the right to respond at the appropriate time and place. Why didn’t the response come immediately? And is it enough for a senior source to say that missiles have been directed at the Israeli enemy and that any attack will be retaliated immediately without resorting to Army command?

President Assad: We have informed all the Arab and foreign parties - mostly foreign - that contacted us, that we will respond the next time. Of course, there has been more than one response. There have been several Israeli attempted violations to which there was immediate retaliation. But these short-term responses have no real value; they are only of a political nature. If we want to respond to Israel, the response will be of strategic significance.

Al-Manar: How? By opening the Golan front, for instance?

President Assad: This depends on public opinion, whether there is a consensus in support of the resistance or not. That’s the question. Al-Manar: How is the situation in Syria now?

President Assad: In fact, there is clear popular pressure to open the Golan front to resistance. This enthusiasm is also on the Arab level; we have received many Arab delegations wanting to know how young people might be enrolled to come and fight Israel. Of course, resistance is not easy. It is not merely a question of opening the front geographically. It is a political, ideological, and social issue, with the net result being military action.

Al-Manar: Mr. President, if we take into account the incident on the Golan Heights and Syria’s retaliation on the Israeli military vehicle that crossed the combat line, does this mean that the rules of engagement have changed? And if the rules of the game have changed, what is the new equation, so to speak?

President Assad: Real change in the rules of engagement happens when there is a popular condition pushing for resistance. Any other change is short-term, unless we are heading towards war. Any response of any kind might only appear to be a change to the rules of engagement, but I don’t think it really is. The real change is when the people move towards resistance; this is the really dramatic change.

Al-Manar: Don’t you think that this is a little late? After 40 years of quiet and a state of truce on the Golan Heights, now there is talk of a movement on that front, about new equations and about new rules of the game?

President Assad: They always talk about Syria opening the front or closing the front. A state does not create resistance. Resistance can only be called so, when it is popular and spontaneous, it cannot be created. The state can either support or oppose the resistance, - or create obstacles, as is the case with some Arab countries. I believe that a state that opposes the will of its people for resistance is reckless. The issue is not that Syria has decided, after 40 years, to move in this direction. The public’s state of mind is that our National Army is carrying out its duties to protect and liberate our land. Had there not been an army, as was the situation in Lebanon when the army and the state were divided during the civil war, there would have been resistance a long time ago. Today, in the current circumstances, there are a number of factors pushing in that direction. First, there are repeated Israeli aggressions that constitute a major factor in creating this desire and required incentive. Second, the army’s engagement in battles in more than one place throughout Syria has created a sentiment on the part of many civilians that it is their duty to move in this direction in order to support the Armed Forces on the Golan.

Al-Manar: Mr. President, Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would not hesitate to attack Syria if it detected that weapons are being conveyed to Hezbollah in Lebanon. If Israel carried out its threats, I want a direct answer from you: what would Syria do?

President Assad: As I have said, we have informed the relevant states that we will respond in kind. Of course, it is difficult to specify the military means that would be used, that is for our military command to decide. We plan for different scenarios, depending on the circumstances and the timing of the strike that would determine which method or weapons.

Al-Manar: Mr. President, after the airstrike that targeted Damascus, there was talk about the S300 missiles and that this missile system will tip the balance. Based on this argument, Netanyahu visited Moscow. My direct question is this: are these missiles on their way to Damascus? Is Syria now in possession of these missiles?

President Assad: It is not our policy to talk publically about military issues in terms of what we possess or what we receive. As far as Russia is concerned, the contracts have nothing to do with the crisis. We have negotiated with them on different kinds of weapons for years, and Russia is committed to honoring these contracts. What I want to say is that neither Netanyahu’s visit nor the crisis and the conditions surrounding it have influenced arms imports. All of our agreements with Russia will be implemented, some have been implemented during the past period and, together with the Russians, we will continue to implement these contracts in the future.

Al-Manar: Mr. President, we have talked about the steadfastness of the Syrian leadership and the Syrian state. We have discussed the progress being achieved on the battlefield, and strengthening the alliance between Syria and the resistance. These are all within the same front. From another perspective, there is diplomatic activity stirring waters that have been stagnant for two and a half years. Before we talk about this and about the Geneva conference and the red lines that Syria has drawn, there was a simple proposition or a simple solution suggested by the former head of the coalition, Muaz al-Khatib. He said that the president, together with 500 other dignitaries would be allowed to leave the country within 20 days, and the crisis would be over. Why don’t you meet this request and put an end to the crisis?

President Assad: I have always talked about the basic principle: that the Syrian people alone have the right to decide whether the president should remain or leave. So, anybody speaking on this subject should state which part of the Syrian people they represent and who granted them the authority to speak on their behalf. As for this initiative, I haven’t actually read it, but I was very happy that they allowed me 20 days and 500 people! I don’t know who proposed the initiative; I don’t care much about names.

Al-Manar: He actually said that you would be given 20 days, 500 people, and no guarantees. You’ll be allowed to leave but with no guarantee whatsoever on whether legal action would be taken against you or not. Mr. President, this brings us to the negotiations, I am referring to Geneva 2. The Syrian government and leadership have announced initial agreement to take part in this conference. If this conference is held, there will be a table with the Syrian flag on one side and the flag of the opposition groups on the other. How can you convince the Syrian people after two and a half years of crisis that you will sit face to face at the same negotiating table with these groups?

President Assad: First of all, regarding the flag, it is meaningless without the people it represents. When we put a flag on a table or anywhere else, we talk about the people represented by that flag. This question can be put to those who raise flags they call Syrian but are different from the official Syrian flag. So, this flag has no value when it does not represent the people. Secondly, we will attend this conference as the official delegation and legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. But, whom do they represent? When the conference is over, we return to Syria, we return home to our people. But when the conference is over, whom do they return to - five-star hotels? Or to the foreign ministries of the states that they represent – which doesn’t include Syria of course - in order to submit their reports? Or do they return to the intelligence services of those countries? So, when we attend this conference, we should know very clearly the positions of some of those sitting at the table - and I say some because the conference format is not clear yet and as such we do not have details as to how the patriotic Syrian opposition will be considered or the other opposition parties in Syria. As for the opposition groups abroad and their flag, we know that we are attending the conference not to negotiate with them, but rather with the states that back them; it will appear as though we are negotiating with the slaves, but essentially we are negotiating with their masters. This is the truth, we shouldn’t deceive ourselves.

Al-Manar: Are you, in the Syrian leadership, convinced that these negotiations will be held next month?

President Assad: We expect them to happen, unless they are obstructed by other states. As far as we are concerned in Syria, we have announced a couple of days ago that we agree in principle to attend.

Al-Manar: When you say in principle, it seems that you are considering other options.

President Assad: In principle, we are in favour of the conference as a notion, but there are no details yet. For example, will there be conditions placed before the conference? If so, these conditions may be unacceptable and we would not attend. So the idea of the conference, of a meeting, in principle is a good one. We will have to wait and see.

Al-Manar: Let’s talk, Mr. President, about the conditions put by the Syrian leadership. What are Syria’s conditions?

President Assad: Simply put, our only condition is that anything agreed upon in any meeting inside or outside the country, including the conference, is subject to the approval of the Syrian people through a popular referendum. This is the only condition. Anything else doesn’t have any value. That is why we are comfortable with going to the conference. We have no complexes. Either side can propose anything, but nothing can be implemented without the approval of the Syrian people. And as long as we are the legitimate representatives of the people, we have nothing to fear.

Al-Manar: Let’s be clear, Mr. President. There is a lot of ambiguity in Geneva 1 and Geneva 2 about the transitional period and the role of President Bashar al-Assad in that transitional period. Are you prepared to hand over all your authorities to this transitional government? And how do you understand this ambiguous term?

President Assad: This is what I made clear in the initiative I proposed in January this year. They say they want a transitional government in which the president has no role. In Syria we have a presidential system, where the President is head of the republic and the Prime Minister heads the government. They want a government with broad authorities. The Syrian constitution gives the government full authorities. The president is the commander-in-chief of the Army and Armed Forces and the head of the Supreme Judicial Council. All the other institutions report directly to the government. Changing the authorities of the president is subject to changing the constitution; the president cannot just relinquish his authorities, he doesn't have the constitutional right. Changing the constitution requires a popular referendum. When they want to propose such issues, they might be discussed in the conference, and when we agree on something - if we agree, we return home and put it to a popular referendum and then move on. But for them to ask for the amendment of the constitution in advance, this cannot be done neither by the president nor by the government.

Al-Manar: Frankly, Mr. President, all the international positions taken against you and all your political opponents said that they don’t want a role for al-Assad in Syria’s future. This is what the Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal said and this is what the Turks and the Qataris said, and also the Syrian opposition. Will President Assad be nominated for the forthcoming presidential elections in 2014?

President Assad: What I know is that Saud al-Faisal is a specialist in American affairs, I don’t know if he knows anything about Syrian affairs. If he wants to learn, that’s fine! As to the desires of others, I repeat what I have said earlier: the only desires relevant are those of the Syrian people. With regards to the nomination, some parties have said that it is preferable that the president shouldn’t be nominated for the 2014 elections. This issue will be determined closer to the time; it is still too early to discuss this. When the time comes, and I feel, through my meetings and interactions with the Syrian people, that there is a need and public desire for me to nominate myself, I will not hesitate. However, if I feel that the Syrian people do not want me to lead them, then naturally I will not put myself forward. They are wasting their time on such talk.

Al-Manar: Mr. President, you mentioned the Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal. This makes me ask about Syria’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, with Qatar, with Turkey, particularly if we take into account that their recent position in the Arab ministerial committee was relatively moderate. They did not directly and publically call for the ouster of President Assad. Do you feel any change or any support on the part of these countries for a political solution to the Syrian crisis? And is Syria prepared to deal once more with the Arab League, taking into account that the Syrian government asked for an apology from the Arab League?

President Assad: Concerning the Arab states, we see brief changes in their rhetoric but not in their actions. The countries that support the terrorists have not changed; they are still supporting terrorism to the same extent. Turkey also has not made any positive steps. As for Qatar, their role is also the same, the role of the funder - the bank funding the terrorists and supporting them through Turkey. So, overall, no change. As for the Arab League, in Syria we have never pinned our hopes on the Arab League. Even in the past decades, we were barely able to dismantle the mines set for us in the different meetings, whether in the summits or in meetings of the foreign ministers. So in light of this and its recent actions, can we really expect it to play a role? We are open to everybody, we never close our doors. But we should also be realistic and face the truth that they are unable to offer anything, particularly since a significant number of the Arab states are not independent. They receive their orders from the outside. Some of them are sympathetic to us in their hearts, but they cannot act on their feelings because they are not in possession of their decisions. So, no, we do not pin any hopes on the Arab League.

Al-Manar: Mr. President, this leads us to ask: if the Arab environment is as such, and taking into account the developments on the ground and the steadfastness, the Geneva conference and the negotiations, the basic question is: what if the political negotiations fail? What are the consequences of the failure of political negotiations?

President Assad: This is quite possible, because there are states that are obstructing the meeting in principle, and they are going only to avoid embarrassment. They are opposed to any dialogue whether inside or outside Syria. Even the Russians, in several statements, have dampened expectations from this conference. But we should also be accurate in defining this dialogue, particularly in relation to what is happening on the ground. Most of the factions engaged in talking about what is happening in Syria have no influence on the ground; they don’t even have direct relationships with the terrorists. In some instances these terrorists are directly linked with the states that are backing them, in other cases, they are mere gangs paid to carry out terrorist activities. So, the failure of the conference will not significantly change the reality inside Syria, because these states will not stop supporting the terrorists - conference or no conference, and the gangs will not stop their subversive activities. So it has no impact on them.

Al-Manar: Mr. President, the events in Syria are spilling over to neighboring countries. We see what’s happening in Iraq, the explosions in Al-Rihaniye in Turkey and also in Lebanon. In Ersal, Tripoli, Hezbollah taking part in the fighting in Al-Qseir. How does Syria approach the situation in Lebanon, and do you think the Lebanese policy of dissociation is still applied or accepted?

President Assad: Let me pose some questions based on the reality in Syria and in Lebanon about the policy of dissociation in order not to be accused of making a value judgment on whether this policy is right or wrong. Let’s start with some simple questions: Has Lebanon been able to prevent Lebanese interference in Syria? Has it been able to prevent the smuggling of terrorists or weapons into Syria or providing a safe haven for them in Lebanon? It hasn’t; in fact, everyone knows that Lebanon has contributed negatively to the Syrian crisis. Most recently, has Lebanon been able to protect itself against the consequences of the Syrian crisis, most markedly in Tripoli and the missiles that have been falling over different areas of Beirut or its surroundings? It hasn’t. So what kind of dissociation are we talking about? For Lebanon to dissociate itself from the crisis is one thing, and for the government to dissociate itself is another. When the government dissociates itself from a certain issue that affects the interests of the Lebanese people, it is in fact dissociating itself from the Lebanese citizens. I’m not criticizing the Lebanese government - I’m talking about general principles. I don’t want it to be said that I’m criticizing this government. If the Syrian government were to dissociate itself from issues that are of concern to the Syrian people, it would also fail. So in response to your question with regards to Lebanon’s policy of dissociation, we don’t believe this is realistically possible. When my neighbor’s house is on fire, I cannot say that it’s none of my business because sooner or later the fire will spread to my house.

Al-Manar: Mr. President, what would you say to the supporters of the axis of resistance? We are celebrating the anniversary of the victory of the resistance and the liberation of south Lebanon, in an atmosphere of promises of victory, which Mr. Hasan Nasrallah has talked about. You are saying with great confidence that you will emerge triumphant from this crisis. What would you say to all this audience? Are we about to reach the end of this dark tunnel?

President Assad: I believe that the greatest victory achieved by the Arab resistance movements in the past years and decades is primarily an intellectual victory. This resistance wouldn’t have been able to succeed militarily if they hadn’t been able to succeed and stand fast against a campaign aimed at distorting concepts and principles in this region. Before the civil war in Lebanon, some people used to say that Lebanon’s strength lies in its weakness; this is similar to saying that a man’s intelligence lies in his stupidity, or that honor is maintained through corruption. This is an illogical contradiction. The victories of the resistance at different junctures proved that this concept is not true, and it showed that Lebanon’s weakness lies in its weakness and Lebanon’s strength lies in its strength. Lebanon’s strength is in its resistance and these resistance fighters you referred to. Today, more than ever before, we are in need of these ideas, of this mindset, of this steadfastness and of these actions carried out by the resistance fighters. The events in the Arab world during the past years have distorted concepts to the extent that some Arabs have forgotten that the real enemy is still Israel and have instead created internal, sectarian, regional or national enemies. Today we pin our hopes on these resistance fighters to remind the Arab people, through their achievements, that our enemy is still the same. As for my confidence in victory, if we weren’t so confident we wouldn’t have been able to stand fast or to continue this battle after two years of a global attack. This is not a tripartite attack like the one in 1956; it is in fact a global war waged against Syria and the resistance. We have absolute confidence in our victory, and I assure them that Syria will always remain, even more so than before, supportive of the resistance and resistance fighters everywhere in the Arab world.

Al-Manar: In conclusion, it has been my great honor to conduct this interview with Your Excellency, President Bashar al-Assad of the Syrian Arab Republic. Thank you very much. President Assad: You are welcome. I would like to congratulate Al-Manar channel, the channel of resistance, on the anniversary of the liberation and to congratulate the Lebanese people and every resistance fighter in Lebanon. 


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rapid acceleration of events in the US/NATO war on Syria: comparing threats

Following the Moscow meeting between Lavrov and Kerry and the announcement of an international conference on Syria it was to be expected that all parties would scramble to be in the strongest possible position to bargain.  Indeed, this is exactly what happened:

1) The Syrian government launched a successful assault on the strategic town of al Qusayr.

2) The US Senate passed a resolution allowing the arming of the anti-Syrian opposition.

3) Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah warning that "Syria had friends" and that these friends would not allow the US backed Takfiris to overthrow the government.

4) The EU lifted the (largely symbolic) arms embargo on Syria.

5) Russia for the first time officially confirmed that S-300 would be given to Syria to "deter foreign intervention".

First, let me say that the US/EU threat is largely a symbolic one.  It makes the always clueless European leaders feel like they have some hair on their chest and it gives US Senators some brownie points with AIPAC.  But that's about it.  Since they beginning of the war, weapons have been flowing into Syria in large quantities and the official embargo was a farce since day 1.

In contrast, the liberation of al Qusayr, the semi-official involvement of Hezbollah, Nasrallah's pledge to stand by the Syrian government and Russia's determination not to allow a foreign intervention are all signs of a heightened determination not to surrender Syria to the US/NATO/Israel/al-Qaeda coalition.  The most important development here is, I believe, Nasrallah's warning that Hezbollah will stand by the Syrian government.

The Russian S-300 are excellent air-defense systems indeed, but they are not some kind of magic weapon, in particular not in the absence of an integrated multi-layer air-defense system.  In contrast, a "full throttle" Hezbollah intervention in the Syrian conflict would truly be a "game changer" to use Obama's favorite expression.  Why?

The truth is that Hezbollah has been reluctant to enter into this conflict.  Not only does this war violate Hezbollah's sacred principle of not shedding Arab blood, but it distracts the Resistance from its primary objective: resistance against Israel.  Finally, while Hassan Nasrallah and the Syrian government are trying their utmost to prevent this conflict of becoming a sectarian one, the conflict is taking on a gradually nasty sectarian nature which is a real threat to Lebanon.  To put it simply, Hezbollah does not want the war in Syria to turn Lebanon into another Iraq (where only yesterday 66 Shia were murdered in a bomb attack in Bagdad).  For all these reasons Hezbollah *as an organization* did not enter into this war even though several hundred Lebanese Shia, including some affiliated with Hezbollah, did intervene to protect their relatives and fellow Shia across the border.  Still, and this is crucial, even the recent Hezbollah intervention in support of government forces around al-Qusayr are nothing compared to what Hezbollah could bring into the fight if the Resistance decided to use its real power to strike hard.

This is a classical "weapons vs soldiers" issue which civilians typically fail to understand.  So let me clarify what we know about this so far:

Government forces: 

1) Weapons: the Syrian military is equipped with largely outdated Soviet equipment.  While it has tanks, helicopters and military aircraft, these are of limited utility in urban warfare in particular in the absence of advanced communications and networking equipment.  The few modern systems (such as the Tochka tactical missiles) Syria has are not sufficient to make a real difference against the insurgency (besides they are mostly targeted as Israel anyway).

2) Soldiers: after some definite difficulties at the beginning of the war, the government forces are now largely composed of very skilled soldiers with extensive urban warfare experience, finely honed tactical skills, excellent morale and popular support.


1) Weapons: the insurgency is equipped with much more modern small arms, communication gear, anti-tank weapons, etc.  It has few tanks, no military aircraft and, crucially, appears to have only a few MANPADS (portable surface to air missiles).

2) Soldiers: the vast majority of insurgents are minimally trained and they lack the complex skills needed in urban warfare.  The main exception to this rule is the al-Nura group which while not the most numerous is by far the most effective combat force being composed of international jihadists with very real combat experience.  Still, the bulk of the so-called "Syrian" insurgency is composed of foreign nationals who get killed by the government forces as fast as they are shipped in by the "Friends of Syria" network which is attempting to topple the Syrian government.

Here is the West's dilemma: while the US/NATO cannot ship tanks, APCs or artillery systems into Syria in significant numbers, it could provide the insurgency with enough MANPADS to make a real difference for the Syrian Air Force.  However, giving MANPADS to crazy jihadis is something which makes a lot of people very nervous.  Also, SU-24s, SU-22s and MiG-23s are not all that easy to shoot down with MANPADS, in particular over mostly open, flat or hilly, terrain.  So giving many MANPADS to al-Qaeda types in Syria might not be worth the risk.  Finally, the truth is that the insurgency already has MANPADs, but that they did not yield much of an advantage.

Now let's look at what can Hezbollah offer the Syrian government:

At least several thundered highly trained combatants with extensive urban warfare experience and top level morale.  These soldiers could be supported by advanced electronic warfare capabilities and equipped with top of the line infantry weapons.  Finally, should the tide change in favor of the insurgency, Hezbollah could provide an outstanding cadre to organize the defense of Syrian towns and villages from the insurgency.  If the situation became really critical, it is a safe bet to say that both Iran and Russia, and even China, would open wide the spigots of financial and military aid to provide all the pro-government forces with whatever is needed to avoid a NATO/al-Qaeda occupation of Syria.  In other words, Hezbollah can provide exactly that which Russia and China cannot: "boots on the ground".  And very very skilled "boots" indeed, as capable as anything the Russians our Chinese could send in themselves.

For centuries the Shia have resisted oppression and persecution, often by formidable enemies, by repeating the dramatic words of words of Imam Husayn Kullu Yamin Ashura wa Kullu Arzin Karbala (Every day is the Ashura and every place is Kerbala) which can be interpreted to mean oppression and evil must be opposed at any cost, everywhere and at all times.  You can be absolutely sure that Hezbollah will fight, and fight hard, to resist the combined oppression of the West, the Zionists and the Takfiris whose only "values" are greed (for the West), racism and self-worship (for the Zionists) and hatred (for the Takfiris).

Furthermore, a major war involving US, NATO, al-Qaeda, Israel on one side and Hezbollah, Russia, China and Iran on the other side could easily spill over into not only Lebanon, but also Turkey, Iraq and even the Gulf monarchies (via Iran) and CENTCOM.

Finally, it is pretty clear that Iran will never allow Hezbollah to be over-run, not by NATO, not by somebody else.  As for Russia and China, they appear to be determined not to allow an overthrow of the Assad government and, even more so, not to allow a direct attack on Iran.

My conclusion is therefore simple: what the West is doing right now is posturing, waving an angry fist, promising fire and brimstone on anybody who would dare resist it.  The Syrians, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia and China are simply preparing to fight.

There is a great American expression:" it is not the size of the dog in the fight which matters, it is the size of the fight in the dog".  Now let me ask you this: which dog would you fear most?  The one that loudly barks and runs in circles, or the one which lowers his head, bears his fangs and takes a combat posture?

The Saker

Speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during the Resistance and Liberation Day on Saturday May 25, 2013

Note: after thinking about how to best present the speeches of Hassan Nasrallah on this blog and lisening to your suggestions, I came to the conclusion that the "least bad" option was still to post it here full length since this is the only way for me not to pre-judge which part of the speech each of you would find important or secondary.  I hope that you don't mind this.  The Saker
In His Name

I take refuge in Allah from the stoned devil. In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Most Merciful. Peace be on the Seal of prophets, our Master and Prophet, Abi Al Qassem Mohammad and on his chaste and pure Household and on his chosen companions and on all messengers and prophets. Peace be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings.

Thanks for your attendance, and welcome on your day – the day of your victory, the day of your resistance, the day of your salvation from the occupation.

First, I would like to offer my felicitations on the great and fragranced anniversary of the birthday of our lord and master – The prince of Believers, Imam Ali Bin Abi Taleb (Peace be upon him). I also felicitate you on this great national day – the Day of Resistance and Liberation.

In these moments, we recall all the martyrs, all the families of martyrs, all the wounded, all the detainees, all the freed detainees, and all our people who remained steadfast in their lands and tolerated the repercussions of their steadfastness. We recall all those who offered sacrifices whether from the army, the people and the resistance and whether Lebanese, Palestinians, or Syrians – on top of whom the senior leaders – the master of the Islamic Resistance martyrs, Sayyed Abbass Mussawi, the Sheikh of the Islamic Resistance martyrs, Sheikh Ragheb Harb, and the field leader of the victory, Hajj Imad Moghniyeh, along all the martyrs who offered sacrifices. Was it not for their sacrifices, this victory and this day was not to have taken place.

Special regards to our people in western Bekaa among whom we wanted our ceremony to take place this year. We wanted them to host our ceremony to recall this good land and its great martyrs and dear fighters and loyal, proud, and steadfast people who offered massive sacrifices, and to recall and announce our high-estimation to the people of this region and the central role they played in the history of the resistance, the jihad of the resistance, the sacrifices of the resistance, and the victory of the resistance.

Allah Al Mighty says in His Holy Qoran: {We sent Moses with Our Signs. Bring out thy people from the depths of darkness into light, and teach them to remember the Days of Allah. Verily in this there are Signs for such as are firmly patient and constant, grateful appreciative}

For sure, May 25, 2013 is one of the Days of Allah in which Allah's mercy, blessing, victory, support, kindness, and bounty on our steadfast and resistant people were manifested. Likewise, Allah's wrath, anger, might, and overwhelm on the Zionists who occupied, aggressed, humiliated, and surmounted were manifested. Thus our victory was one of the Days of Allah, and their defeat was one of the Days of Allah as well. Such a day which came to be a day for the resistance and liberation must remain vivid in our recollection and must be marked by the generations to come.

Brothers and sisters! On this day which came to be a day for resistance and liberation must remain vivid in our recollection and be entrusted from one generation to another – from our children to our grandchildren and our great grand children because it sums up a deep national historic experience and great sacrifices, morals, lessons, pains and expectations, and because it is the way which is always open before an honorable, noble, revered future.

This is one of the days of Allah which must not be forgotten as must other days in our age: the day on which Israel pulled out from Gaza Strip because of the Palestinian resistance and the sacrifices of the Palestinian people on September 2005, as well as the day on which America pulled out from Iraq due to the Iraqi resistance and the sacrifices of the Iraqi people in December 2011. These are great days which must be turned into Holidays on the level of the homeland as well as on the level of the entire nation. They are not only holidays for the Lebanese, the Palestinians in Gaza, and the Iraqis. They are rather holidays for the entire nation which is targeted by the US-Israeli project embodied in the military occupations of our countries and lands; thus these days must be unforgettable. Likewise, we must not forget the very gloomy days which we must mark every year: the Nakba of May 1948 and the Naksa of June 1967. We must put these days besides each other in our modern history. There is a Nakba; there is a Naksa; and there are victories. The Nakba which took place in 1948 is not only a catastrophe that befell Palestine and the people of Palestine only. It is rather a catastrophe that befell all the Arabs, all the Muslims, and all the peoples of the region whether Christians or Muslims. It is wrong to deal with this Nakba as a catastrophe that concerns a definite country and a definite people. Our nation, our region, and the peoples of our region are still to our day and after 65 years bearing the consequences, impacts, and repercussions and severe, negative results of that Nakba. The same applies when we talk about the Naksa. We must recall these painful events to draw lessons and morals from them. Moreover, we must muster our courage from the victories which took place. Some people want us to forget these days because they want us without recollection, history, and consequently, without a cause.

Brothers and sisters! This year we mark this day while we as Lebanese and as peoples of the region confront a group of threats, challenges, and dangers on top of which are two grave dangers which I will talk about in the available time. I will also talk about the means of confronting them. The first danger is that which has been existing and continuous since the Nakba: It is Israel and its intentions, greed, and schemes. This is the first danger.

The second danger is the changes taking place in Syria, in our surrounding, at our borders, on the gates of our cities, villages and houses, and the predominance of Takfiri groups in the field.

To confront the first danger, we must first look southwards – unfortunately, we are in a time in which we became obliged to look southwards and northwards. Southwards, we find Israel still carrying on in its project in occupied Palestine with utmost serenity. It is not subject even to criticism by the international community: Judaizing of Al Qods, Judaizing Palestine, confiscating the territories remaining in the territories occupied since 1948, settling in the West Bank, arresting detainees….

This very Israel and since July War 2006 has been carrying daily drills. It's preparing itself and putting schemes and reconsidering plots. It stages war maneuvers and combed arms maneuvers. It also stages maneuvers on the internal front level. A year after 2006, Israel staged a maneuver on the internal level which it dubbed Turning Point I. On the following years, it maneuvered Turning Point II, III, IV, V, and VI. Every year, there is a comprehensive maneuver in the entire entity on the level of the internal front. What does the internal front mean? The maneuver starts with the Premier, the army, the police, and the civil defense. They check shelters, warning sirens, communication means, ambulances, hospitals, roads, and the capacity to receive the displaced and emigrants. They have been carrying comprehensive maneuvers yearly for six years by now. This year, and namely tomorrow on Sunday – perhaps many of the Lebanese don't know that – they will carry a maneuver on the internal front level. This year, however, they did not call it Turning Point VII. They rather called it Strong Force I. So they carried six maneuvers on the internal level and scrutinized the points of weakness.

I am not talking about all of this to waste time. They pointed out the various points of weakness and gaps here and there and addressed them in the following year and the years that followed. Now, the enemy is saying: I have a strong internal front, and I'm ready for war on all fronts and for the worst hypotheses.

Unfortunately, man talks about his enemy who is working properly concerning his interests and schemes. Moreover, they formed a new government portfolio dedicated to protecting the internal front. So there is an internal front minister whose job is to run the entire internal front in case anything took place against the entity. This is a case; there is a person in charge of it. Whereas here in Lebanon when the Ethiopian airplane fell in the sea, we got lost. Who is responsible of the catastrophe of the airplane which fell in the sea? Point at the person in charge. Who is in charge of the evacuation operations? Who is responsible of the people and the administration? We got lost; whereas the enemy has an internal front minister.

Anyway, Israel threats Lebanon every day. It musters its troops and tanks on our southern borders. Troops have been mobilized for several months by now and not from a day or two or a week or two ago. They are at a high level of readiness. It stages an aggression on Syria, shells Syria, and threats.

Let's talk about Lebanon. Since 2006, Israel is preparing, getting armed, maneuvering, plotting, addressing the gaps, and controlling the simplest detail in the fighting front and the internal front. I have a question: What have we prepared in Lebanon? I mean by "we" the Lebanese and the Lebanese state. When I say the state I do not mean the government only. I do not mean this president or that president. I talk about the state as a whole. What did the Lebanese state prepare to confront any potential danger which may take place in the region on the Israeli level? What did the Lebanese people do for any potential danger apart from what the state prepared? Did the Lebanese people call on their state and the state's institutions to prepare and resume the responsibility?

Let's talk frankly about this topic. Here we are talking frankly. In the other topic, we will talk frankly too. We must not be courteous to each other. That's because we are at a critical historical moment. We are at a sensitive historic moment. There is no time for courtesies. There is no time to hide behind our fingers. There is no time to bury our heads in the soil. It is rather time to raise our heads high and to confront hurricanes and to resume responsibilities. This is the stage we are passing through now.

Thus we came to talk frankly: What have we did then? This is the Lebanese state. What have we done then?

Let's start with the army. We all call for a strong army able to defend the nation and to assume responsibility. I will ask about their number? What about the human force? What about the arms? What about the equipment? What about providing the army with capabilities and capacities which enable it to deter the enemy? What about the awe of our national army in the eyes of the enemy? There is no answer.

Let's talk from 2005 to this day. That's because before 2005, there used to be a hanger on which everyone used to hang everything. It's the Syrian custody. We are now a state of sovereignty, independence, and freedom, and the Lebanese state is independent. Well great! For eight years what have we done as far as the army is concerned? What have the state done so far? We all know the status by now.

Well, at times we hear no answer or mere excuses only: There is a problem in funding; nobody is assisting us, the Americans are putting a veto. It is not allowed. It is forbidden. No Arab army is allowed to get armed if these arms are to fight Israel. No Arab army is allowed.

Between parentheses, I would say that Russia likes to sell Syria antiaircraft rockets. So the rockets are not to stage aggressions against any country. They are to defend Syria. They are S-300 rockets. However, the Americans and the Europeans are intervening against that. Syria is not allowed to possess S-300 rockets because that makes an imbalance. However, some Arab states are being sold advanced US weapons by billions of dollars. Why? That's because there are guarantees and certainty that not one bullet from these weapons would be shot on Israel. The true fear is from the Lebanese Army. It's national army. If this army is given orders, the political cover, and the capacities, it will fight as the resistance is fighting. Why? That's because the men in this army have the very nature of the men of the resistance. Its men are the children of this people. The men of this people are the children of this environment. This is the national culture. This is the nature of the Lebanese people.

Now I will move to the civil level. On the civil level, what have they done? What has the Lebanese state done? Since 1948 to this very day, what has it done on the civil level? This is the internal front in Lebanon. Look! Israel is afraid from rockets. It's not afraid from air force. It is difficult to find air force which may reach Israel. However, Israel has the strongest air force in the Middle East and can reach any place in the Lebanese internal front. Who is responsible of the internal front? Which minister or official or general manager or organization or administration is responsible? Let's keep the administration aside. What have they done concerning hospitals, ambulances, national defense forces, or at least concerning warning sirens or radars that indicate that airplanes have entered the country's airspace? There is nothing of this sort at all. We do not even have infrastructure. When the Israelis stage maneuvers on the internal front level, they check the shelters. In Lebanon we have no shelters to check. They check the security rooms. In Lebanon, we do not have security rooms. Why? That's because there is not. There is not a responsible state.

Is it required that the resistance assumes the responsibility of civil domain as well? The state has to answer this great question. Well, yes we must exclusively record that there are achievements on the level of the infrastructure which were made in the South. That was not achieved pursuant to the determination of the state or to a decision made by the state. Today is a day for fairness. To be fair, I say that was achieved due to personal efforts and demands made by Speaker Nabih Berri within the game of the state and authority that exists in Lebanon. However, apart from that what did take place? Tell me what you did. This is the great glorious Lebanon state.

Brothers! In the Lebanese state, in all generations and stages, confidence is acquired and not imposed. You can't tell people to trust you in spite of their will. You must have a performance and conduct that make people trust you and entrust you with their blood, honor, money, children, generations, lands, future, and dignity. This is not achieved via a word or a decision. This is achieved through practice.

For example on the civil level, do you know what do they do in Israel? They construct settlements along the border – they did so at the border with Lebanon, Syria, Golan, and Jordan. So originally there would be no town or village. They build a village and call it a settlement. They bring in Jews from Ethiopia, Romania, Argentina, and from all around the world and let them live by our borders and pay them allowances. They support them, provide them with lands, facilities, and job opportunities, train them, and supply them with arms as well. That's because these settlements have a security role on the border, and they are a part of a defensive plot according to the Israelis.

On the other side, our front villages from the sea to Bint Jbeil to Marjoun, to Hasbayeh until reaching Rashaya and the entire border area are nearly uninhabited. We have towns and villages for hundreds of years. So we did not make a village. These villages have their own people, residents, and owners. It's not required from the state except to set a program to let these people to make them remain in their lands. It is not required that the state pay them allowances. Let it only offer them job opportunities so that they stay in their land. Why is it that the front towns are almost uninhabited? That's because there is not a responsible state. Few days ago, when talking about the resistance in Golan started – if you follow up with the news you would have noticed – the settlers in Golan started demanding the Israeli cabinet which started discussing rearming the settlers in Golan. As for our villages at the border, the arms which are owned by people are according to the Lebanese state and many political forces illegitimate and must be disarmed.

There are totally two different mentalities. So the problem here is not administrative. The problem is in the mind, essence, nature, and orientation. There is a strategic problem. There is a problem which is that the Lebanese state in its construction does not deal with Israel as an enemy. It does not deal with Israel as a threat. The last concern for many of the Lebanese officials since the establishment of this state until this very day is to think of means to confront the Israeli threat, and what would we do if we faced an aggression to defend Lebanon, the Lebanese people, and Lebanon's dignity. Here lies the problem. So it is an essential and not an administrative problem.

Well yes, some in Lebanon prepared to confront any Israeli threat in the future and any Israeli aggression in the future. This was made by a part of the Lebanese people – namely the resistance. I do not mean only the resistance of Hezbollah. You know that I always say that today's victory is the fruit of all efforts, sacrifices, fighters, parties, factions and everyone who exerted an effort in this path starting by the first establishment of the Lebanese resistance by His Eminence absented Imam Sayyed Mussa Assader (May Allah safely restore him and his friends) until reaching everyone who offered any sacrifice in this path and for this sake.

After 30 years of amassed experiences, human and materialistic capabilities, Lebanon today possesses this power. This power – the resistance with all its factions - defeated Israel and brought it out of Beirut, Mount Liban, Sidon, Tyr, Nabatiyeh, Western Bekaa, Rashaya and later on from the border line. It also confronted Israel in July 2006, and since that war to our day it is continuing its mission and industrious efforts to get armed, prepared and trained. Yes this is what exists today. What do the Lebanese have now? This is what they have. When the Israelis look at Lebanon, they fear this. On the other hand, many in Lebanon search for means to get rid of what we have – this resistance. They are not able to disarm the resistance. Here I am telling you: You are not able to disarm the resistance because by these arms the resistance fought and defeated Israel. These arms are embraced by the people. You are not able to disarm the resistance. Let's confiscate these arms then – meaning that arms must be in such and such place or are used following orders from such and such a post and the like….

Brothers and sisters! All of these evoked suggestions – I do not want to carry an argument as I want to tackle the other topics – do not defend a homeland, or defend a country, or deter an enemy.

The current status quo may deter the enemy. However, at this stage, if we decided or agreed on putting the resistance, the arms of the resistance, and the fighters of the resistance under the order of the state, that would be the end of these arms, the resistance, this status quo, this deterrence power and this awe.

Why is it so? It's because now we have a state which can't guard a funeral for a martyr in Sidon. We have a state which can't stop this bloody, painful, sorrowful struggle in Tripoli. We have a state that can't agree on a new election law. We have a state of sects and a state of regions.

Do you believe that a state as this can take a decision to confront the enemy or deter it or frighten it and make it observe its limits? This is not the case. Following July War we said: Build a strong, fair, able state and I would be the first along with my brethrens to go back to our mosques, schools, and plantations. We will still be resistance men who would fight following the orders of the state.

However, what state must it be? It must be a strong, fair, able state.

Under all circumstances, I call on the officials in the Lebanese state – all officials in the Lebanese state – and on the people too to recognize the true grave danger. Let no one act as if there are no dangers and as if Israel is peaceful and calm.

No! Israel is getting ready and maneuvering. It is mobilized, and it is following all changes and developments in the entire region. We can't know the procedure which the enemy may take.

Brothers! The one who is honored today – Imam Ali Bin Abi Taleb – says: If you sleep, that does not mean you are overlooked. Sleep as much as you want; your enemy is vigilant, ready, waiting to seize the opportunity and take the initiative. What are you doing on your behalf?

Indeed in the Islamic resistance, we will carry on assuming our responsibilities. Let no one mistakenly believe that media campaigns, pressures, and doubts may make any difference. That would not change anything. As for putting us on the list of terrorist organizations, we have been put on the list of terrorist organizations for a long time. This is mere ink on paper which makes no difference.

For over thirty years, we have not been living in the field only; we are also living a psychological, media, and political war and under massive pressures. However this couldn't one day harm our will, determination, and resolution. Thus I tell our people who trust the resistance and bargain on the resistance that their resistance will remain by their side and defend them, and they will always raise their heads victoriously Inshallah.

In the framework of talking about a strong, able, responsible state, we say that the presence of a state under whatever circumstances – even if it is not strong and able – is better than having no state or vacuum or chaos. Any state is better than chaos, on rational, religious, and moral grounds. Today, this parliamentary event is due, and the Lebanese and all the parliamentary blocs failed to reach a new election law. The campaign lasted for a year against us. Today the campaign came to an end, and rightness came to be revealed. For a year, a campaign has been waged against Hezbollah particularly and against March 8 Bloc and against all our political alliance. However – praise be to Allah – we had the lion's share from this campaign: Hezbollah want to take the country to vacuum; Hezbollah does not want a parliament; Hezbollah does not want elections; Hezbollah does not want a government; Hezbollah is establishing for vacuum in the entire state because Hezbollah wants to take the country to another place. On Friday, it was verified that this was all groundless fabrication and lies. Why? That's because we were waiting for a new election law but could not reach it. There is the law of 1960 which is cursed by the Lebanese, rejected by the Lebanese, buried by the Lebanese, and then the Lebanese disentombed. There can't be anything worse than that. However, we took a decision to run the elections before March 14 to tell them that we refuse vacuum and the law of 1960.

Consequently, we are today before three options: either that people go to elections according to the law of 1960, or that we head towards extending the term of the current government – and we agree on extension while discussing the period of extension or a miracle takes place or I don't know when and we agree on a new law. However, for sure we are against vacuum.

Now we come to the second note. We renew our call for sparing Lebanon any internal clash or conflict. We disagree over Syria. You fight in Syria; we fight in Syria; then let's fight there. Do you want me to be more frank? Keep Lebanon aside. Why should we fight in Lebanon? There are different viewpoints, different visions, and different evaluation of obligations. Well so far so good. However, let's spare Lebanon fighting, struggle and bloody confrontations. We are committed to this, and every day we assert this commitment in action and in practice. What took place in Sidon in the past couple of days is very bad; however, we kept aside as we do not want to make a problem. We care for Sidon, the people of Sidon, and the security of Sidon. What is taking place in Tripoli must be stopped by all means.

This is an unfruitful absurd bloody clash. Whoever wants to defend Syria, whoever wants to back the opposition let him go to Syria. Whoever wants to advocate the regime let him go and fight in Syria too. Keep Tripoli to its kind people whether in Bab Attabbaneh or Baal Mohsen or the other neighborhoods. This conflict makes the heart shed blood and the soul sad. Thus we here renew this call and tell our brethrens and people in Tripoli that there is no hope in this fighting which will lead only to more pain, suffering and melancholies. I call on all of them to frankly and unanimously agree that the state and the state's security and military institutions – especially the Lebanese Army – are the only and the true guarantee to our civil peace. Thus we must resort to it to confront any internal problem or clash of this sort.

Now we move to the other topic. No doubt tackling this topic is very sensitive and very critical as it puts us before a totally new stage.

Brothers and sisters! What is taking place in Syria is very crucial and decisive for Lebanon, for our present and our future time. Today and as I have said at the beginning of my speech, let's not hide behind our finger and bury our heads in the soil. Let's not deal with what is taking place in Syria as if we live in Djibouti. No, we are here at the border with Syria. God willing we are strong enough to talk and strong enough to act. Thus, let's talk with the required frankness in this critical historic moment.

I will make a quick briefing. Since the beginning of the events in Syria, we had a clear political stance. We said that the popular calls for reforms are righteous. We said that this regime has important positive points especially concerning the resistance and opposition. It also has negative points and imperfections. Thus reforms are required, and the way for reforms is political dialogue. No one is to target his rifle or to open fire on anyone else. Neither the regime nor the opposition is supposed to do so. We know what Syria means to Lebanon, to the region, to the Arab-Israeli struggle, to the resistance movements, and to the Palestinian cause. Thus from the very first day and despite our humble capabilities as a party but investing our good and great relations on the regional level, I personally along with President Bashar Assad and other personalities and sides in the opposition sought to undertake political dialogue so as to reach a political settlement. Here I bear witness that President Assad agreed but the opposition refused. If anyone is asking about the issue from a legitimate and jurisprudential level, the Syrian leadership from the very beginning and all through the way used to agree to sit at the dialogue table to reach a political solution. It used to accept carrying essential reforms in the regime. However, the opposition used to refuse dialogue since the very beginning and still does so to our very day nurturing the hope that the regime will be brought down within few months. They depended on definite data and imagined that he who is backed by the US, France, Britain, Germany, Europe, Arab oil countries, Turkey…will gain victory for sure within few months or few weeks.

There was something wrong in their estimations. Anyway, events developed quickly within two years. It was clear that an axis was being formed from all of these countries which I have mentioned a while ago. This axis is led by the United States which is for sure the final decision maker. The English, the French, the Italian, the German, the Arab, the Turkish… all of them work for the American. We also know that this axis is implicitly supported by Israel because the US project in the region is Israeli cum laude. In fact, there is not anything else. There is not anything called the US project in the region other than the Israeli project. AlQaeda and other Takfiri groups got enrolled in this axis. They were paid for that and they were offered facilities from all over the world. Let no one convince us that these tens of thousands of fighters from the various Takfiri and extremists groups – who refuse everything but themselves – came stealthily to Syria. They were given visas and offered facilities. The gate was opened before them to come to Syria. A media, political, diplomatic, economic, and financial war was launched on Syria. Tens of thousands of fighters from all over the world were funded, armed and then exported to Syria. Tens of thousands of fighters did not annoy so called Syria's friends in Amman a couple of days ago. However a small group from Hezbollah entered Syria; that was considered foreign intervention.

Well, we did not intervene all over the past period of time. We did not intervene until some months ago. To be honest with you, we remained working with the various sides to the effect that Syria would be demolished; it would fall; it would be lost; there is no way out other than through dialogue. We invested all our relations with Islamic forces, national forces, and nations. However, all of that was in vain. The other axis insists on carrying on in the battle to the end. They do not talk about dialogue. There is nothing other than toppling the regime by all means.

Well, I know that through these couple of years, there were reasonable suggestions and appropriate settlements. The Syrian leadership implicitly agreed on them, and they are still secretive so far. These suggestions and settlements were presented to regional states but were rejected because these states can't bear the remaining of this regime by any means. No matter if Syria would be destroyed. What is important is that this regime is brought down. In the past few months, we reached the following estimation: Many changes took place in Syria. Well after two years, what is the given? There is an opposition abroad. We are not accusing all. Some people do not have ties and are not affiliated. They are logical and have a viewpoint. They have rightful calls, and they are ready to carry dialogue. This is their natural right, and we respect this right. This is true for a part of the Syrian opposition.

There is another part. Well brothers! There is a part employed by the CIA, the Pentagon, and the so and so intelligence. Their decision is not in their hands. Well, this is the opposition abroad.

Do the land, the armed groups, the regions from which the state pulled out or from which the state was pulled out and came to be under the control of the armed groups listen to the opposition abroad? Now they want to carry discussions in Geneva. Do these armed groups listen to them? The west, the Arabs, intelligence agencies, media outlets, you and I know the following truth: The greatest power and the overwhelming current which dominates over the political forces controlling over the field is the Takfiri group. No one from them listen to the opposition abroad. Anyway, I previously mentioned that they were brought along to be fought with. Afterwards, they will pay the price for that. In whatever settlement that takes place in Syria, they will pay the price. Now the western states seem to be perplexed from this rapid change in the Syrian armed groups before their peoples and public opinion. Well, how are you arming people of this kind?

This characteristic started to dominate the Syrian opposition which is obtaining funds and arms from several Arab and regional states. These Arab countries want to get rid of the regime and of these groups as well. Thus they facilitated these groups' departure from the country; however, they are aware that one day they will come back to the country. They have acquired fighting experiences and avaricious ways in slaughtering and killing and are ready for any kind of confrontation. We will talk about this later on.

Well, this is our estimation now. Brothers and sisters and all those who are listening to us in the Arab and Islamic world! The story is not anymore, a people revolting against a regime. It's not that of reforms anymore. The man is ready to make reforms. Let's head to dialogue then. But no, the story had become totally different.

Well, this exists now in Syria. Now I will say our vision clearly on which we build our acts and deeds. We consider that the takeover of these groups on Syria, or on a number of Syrian provinces especially these bordering Lebanon pose a great danger on Lebanon and the Lebanese and not only on Hezbollah or the Shiites in Lebanon. That poses danger on Lebanon, the Lebanese, the Lebanese state, the Lebanese resistance, and common existence. I have evidence on that. I am not unfairly accusing these groups. In case these groups took over the provinces bordering Lebanon, they will pose threat to the Lebanese whether Muslims or Christians. When I talk about Muslims, I mean Sunnites, Druze, Shiites, and Alawis. So I do not mean the Shiites only. I mean the Sunnites first. Do you want evidence? Take Iraq as evidence. Today those who are fighting in Syria are an extension to the so called Islamic Iraq State organization. Ask the Sunnites in Iraq about the Islamic Iraq Organization. How many Sunni scholars did they kill? How many leaders of Sunni Islamic parties which are not affiliated to it did they kill? How many mosques in Al Anbar, Falloujeh, Mousel, Ninewa and other cities did they bomb? So they did not bomb only mosques and Husseiniyas for Shiites and Christian churches. No! They also killed many sheikhs of clans. This organization brags that they have executed 4000 or 5000 suicide operation in Iraq. Most of these suicide operations targeted Iraqis from all sects, factions, religions, and races. I want to tell you even more. A couple of days ago or a week ago elections were taking place in Pakistan. Isn't that true? Do you know what the problem with the Takfiri mentality is? They label others unbelievers for the most trivial reason and not only for ideological or factional reasons. They label others unbelievers for political reasons also: whoever partakes in the parliamentary elections is an unbeliever. His blood is permissible. His money is permissible. His honor is permissible. This is the Takfiri mentality. They do not discriminate whether he who is partaking in elections is Sunni or Shiite or Christian. That makes no difference to them. They state this fatwa openly. They have always killed people at ballot boxes in Iraq- in all the Iraqi provinces. Well, how many people did they kill in Pakistan? Most of those who were killed in Pakistan and in the election campaigns and at the ballot boxes are Sunni Muslims and Sunni scholars. Scholars who wear Turbans were killed by Taliban in Pakistan because they label whoever partakes in the Parliamentary elections as unbelievers.

I do not claim. I have polls. I say that this Takfiri mentality killed in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia - in these four countries only – Sunnites much more than other Muslims, Christians, non Muslims, and non Christians. This is the mentality of Takfiri groups.

O Lebanese people! O peoples! I am a brother who is advising you. I am your young child. There is an experience before your eyes, why do you make yourselves blind not to see it. Tunisia is suffering from this epidemic; Libya is suffering from this epidemic; all the states which made this epidemic and exported it are suffering from it. We are promised that Lebanon would be afflicted by this epidemic.

This is the danger. This mentality does not accept dialogue. They have nothing called trimming edges. They have nothing called priorities. They have nothing called common points. They have nothing other than labeling others unbelievers for the most trivial reasons. You are an unbeliever! It's not only so! Your blood, money, and honor are permissible. What future for Syria do you foresee under the mentality of such groups? What future for Lebanon, for Palestine, for the peoples of the region do you foresee? Can you tell me? Let's be logical. Put the factional and the sectarian issue aside. This is a grave danger.

So we are not approaching the issue from a Shiite or Sunni perspective as some try to accuse us. We are rather approaching the issue from a perspective from which we see Muslims and Christians alike threatened by this current, mentality, and Takfiri project that is creeping to the region. Here I am telling you. This project is funded and backed by America because this is what remained for it to destroy the region and thus to take over it again before the awakening of the peoples, the up-rising of the peoples, and the wills of the peoples.

I do not want to frighten anyone. This is the truth. Thus you saw that from the very beginning people from the Syrian opposition used to say that the regime would be brought downed in two months or three. The regime would be toppled and we will come to you in Lebanon. They said so. This exists in newspapers and in media outlets. By that time, we haven't had issued a political stance yet. They were offering credit cards to the Americans and the Israelis: we are ready to avenge from the resistance which had made victory in 2000 and which foiled the Neo-Middle East Project in 2006. We are ready. We want you to support us.

From the very beginning, they kidnapped the Lebanese visitors in Aazaz. Then the aggression against the Lebanese in Reef Al Qusair was launched to displace them. This has come in the framework of this mentality, comprehension, and vision. This is first. I have three points to highlight. First we have this development which is called the dominance and control of the Takfiri group which – in case it over dominated – would render the future of Syria, Lebanon, and the region very tough and dark.

Second, Syria is not anymore the battlefield for a popular revolution against a political regime. It is rather a square for imposing political projects led by America, the west and their representatives in the region. Well, we all know that the US project in the region is an absolutely Israeli project.

Third, I frankly say that Syria is the backbone of the resistance, and the support of the resistance. The resistance cannot sit with hands crossed while its backbone is held vulnerable and its support is being broken or else we will be stupid. Stupid is he who stands motionless while watching death, the siege and conspiracy crawling towards him. He would be stupid then. However, the responsible, rational man acts with absolute responsibility.

Brothers and sisters! Should Syria fall in the hand of the Americans, the Israelis, the Takfiri groups and America's representatives in the region which call themselves regional states, the resistance will be besieged and Israel would reenter Lebanon, impose its conditions on Lebanon, and renew its greed and projects in it. Lebanon then will enter the Israeli era again. If Syria falls, so will Palestine, the resistance in Palestine, the West Bank, Gaza, and Holy Al Qods. If Syria falls in the hands of America, Israel, and the Takfiri groups, the peoples of our region and the countries in our region will head towards a dark and tough era. This is our estimation.

There are two parties in the struggle. The first struggle is the US-western-Arab-regional axis along with the Takfiri groups in the battlefield. These are those who stab chests, behead, disentomb, and destroy the past which is 1400 years old. In the past, the followers of the various religions had often lived peacefully, and mosques, churches, and shrines remained intact under governments which were mainly Sunni. However, these today are destroying the past, the present, and the future. They refuse any political solution and insist on fighting.

On the other hand, there is a state or a regime which has a clear stance from the Palestinian cause, the resistance movements, and the Zionist project and is at the same time announcing its permanent readiness for dialogue and for political solution and reforms. Whoever wants to be here or there is free to do so.

As for Hezbollah, it can't be in a front which Israel, the US, and those who stab chests, behead others, and disentomb graves.

You may be wherever you want. As for Hezbollah, it can't be in a front which wants to destroy all achievements, waste all sacrifices, and drag us again as slaves to America and Israel pursuant to ever renewing Neo Middle East projects which we have toppled their previous version with the blood of thousands of martyrs.

Hezbollah can't be in the other side, in the other front, and in the other position. You may be wherever you want to be. Whoever wants to remain neutral is free to do so. Whoever believes that he can't change the equation is free to believe so. Since 1982, there have been many who believe they can't change the equation at a time the Lebanese resistance changed not only the local equation but also the regional equation.

From this stance, we today consider ourselves defending Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria.

It goes without saying that this stance would make us subject to great media and political campaigns. Even when we were silent and when we did not intervene, they sought - through their media pumping and media and psychological hegemony all through these two years in which man did not dare to say one word of righteousness - to make us followers of this project. They wanted us to parrot what others say and move as the wind moves us. Today we are aware that we will be subject to a massive campaign which has started a long time ago pursuant to what took place in the past few days. I would like to tell you that media campaigns did not ever calm down and will never calm down whether we intervened in Syria or not. There is an old decision which is funded with hundreds of millions of dollars and is aimed at spreading untrue articles, books, lies, slogans, fabrications, and news.

As for categorizing us on terrorist lists, this is not new. On the contrary, there are people in Lebanon and in other countries who wish that the head of a regional state mention their names. They wish to be mentioned by a known personality in the Arab world. Pursuant to this norm, we are mentioned by the head of the greatest power in the world. When he visited Israel, he remained reiterating the word Hezbollah from the first day to the last day of his visit. Well we are happy and not sad because Europe sees that we are able to change games. This is a great thing of which we are proud.

As for the terrorist list which you possess, it is of no effect.

Accusing us on sectarian basis is to no avail, and our history bears witness of that whether in Lebanon, Palestine, Bosnia and Herzegovina and everywhere else. Brothers! We went to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The best young men among us went there. We had camps. Perhaps this is the first time we talk about this issue with this degree of clarity. We fought there and martyrs fell. Whom were we defending? We were defending Sunni Muslims in Bosnia. There are no Shiites in Bosnia. All what we have bore so far as far as the Palestinian issue is concerned comes pursuant to our ideology. We bore that and are still bearing much harm. We can't be accused of sectarianism. Our stance in Iraq was clear. Our stance from all events is clear. Attempts to harm our will, morals, determination, and families of martyrs are a failure.

I would like to tell you something because in the past two days things which are groundless were written. Go and interview the families of martyrs and hear what these kind honorable people say. They have grasped the truth before anyone else. All what I will say now have not been said by anyone before in the media or even in internal sessions.

Are we able to hold internal session for all people? Well we can hold sessions for our brethrens; but we can't hold sessions for their fathers, mothers, wives, and daughters. They are saying what we are saying now. That means that we are a year and a half retarded from these noble people.

To every house our brethrens went, they did not hear from the families of martyrs except great words which we have heard a part of only in our previous confrontations. Unfortunately, today a media outlet still insists that a father of two martyrs in Bekaa had a heart attack and thus died. He is still alive in fact, and he had sent me a message with the brethrens who visited him saying that he is ready to be a part of this battle along with the rest of his children and all his money. These are the families of our martyrs.

Well they talk also about our young men. Here I am telling you that our young men do not go to fight by force. We do not force anyone. We never forced anyone all through our 30-year-history. Never a brethren went to the front unwillingly. They rather go willfully and consciously.

In fact today, we are committed to rationing due to the great enthusiasm our fighters and masses are showing. Many are not allowed to go because we are supposed to be present according to a limited and fully considered numbers. Otherwise, these dispirited liars would have seen a different scene as we are not only ready to declare jihad; in fact with a couple of words you would find tens of thousands of mujahedeen heading to these fronts.

We have taken procedures since a long time. If a family has a lone son, we do not give him permission to go to the front except pursuant to his parents' consent. Until this very day, the parents of lone sons send me a signed letters, and the sons tell us our parents gave us permission. Still the brethrens say: no perhaps you imitated the signatures. Then the father and the mother would come and demand that their lone son be sent to the front. I took a procedure and told the brethrens that even if the parents consented, don't send a lone son to the front.

Well I have letters from fathers and mothers who insist on us to allow their lone sons to go to the fronts.

You do not understand this resistance, the masses of this resistance, the environment of this resistance, and the culture of this resistance. You haven't understood it for thirty years by now, and you will never understand it. That's because you always understand in a wrong way. You make wrong consideration and thus you reach wrong conclusions. Wrong preludes lead to wrong conclusions.

Brothers and sisters! We are thus before an absolutely new era which have started now. It has started in a clear way in the past few weeks to be more precise. This new stage is called fortifying the resistance and protecting its backbone and fortifying Lebanon and protecting its backbone, and this is the responsibility of all of us.

I am not demanding from anyone to share us in assuming this responsibility. We do not want to depend on anyone. We are the people of this battle as we were the people of all the previous battles. We are its men; we are the makers of its victories Inshallah. We as well as you – our honorable generous people, people of endless bounty and generosity, people of patience and tolerance, and people of sacrifices and consolation – will carry on this path. We will shoulder this responsibility. We will tolerate all sacrifices and the repercussions of this stance and this responsibility.

At the end of the ceremony of the Resistance and Liberation Day, I tell you what I told you on the first days of July War 2006: O honorable people! O fighters! O heroes! As I used to promise you of victory always, I promise you victory again.

Hundred returns. Peace be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

On this Memorial Day, something worth remembering - the Empire will fall!

On this Memorial Day when doubleplusgoodthinking zombies of the Empire remember the men and woman who have served in the US military, let us remember the many millions of people murdered by these global killers.  Let us remember all those whom the Empire has murdered, killed, oppressed, tortured and exiled in the name, of course, progress, 'manifest destiny', democracy, human rights, anti-communism, anti-terrorism and all the other lame excuses for global imperialism.  Let us remember that there is not a single American alive who could truthfully claim that he fought in a war in defense of his country, faith or family: Anglo wars are always wars of aggression, motivated by greed even if they are justified by lofty ideals.

The USA is, of course, just a direct continuation of the old British Empire who, in pursuit of democracy, progress and civilization, managed to invade every single country on the planet except only twenty-two (source):

In white the few countries the Anglos never attacked
Nowadays, with its 700+ military bases and its global Anglo alliance with the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand (the ECHELON countries) the Anglosphere seems even more powerful, but the fact is it is already ripping at all its seams. In fact, the US global Empire is crumbling under its own weight.  Eventually, all empire collapse under their own weight, as this song by the Spanish group Ska-P joyfully reminds us:

This is my (wholly unofficial) translation of the lyrics:

History repeats itself, and filthy empires follow each other
None of them were good, and sooner or later they all collapsed
The Roman Empire collapsed, and later the Spanish Empire
And the Yankees will fall, they shall not be an exception

They conquer other countries and impose their poor culture
They plunder resources while sowing poverty and resentment
They manipulate the media
Depriving us of the truth
And their military bases watch over us

But there has never been an empire nor will there ever be one
Capable of resisting the strong pressure
Of peoples united against the invader


You can see its horrible tentacles
In every illegal war, imposing their power together with Israel
Free trade serves their interest
Their European dogs defend them very well, and the rest, they give to you!



The Saker