The secretary-general of Hizbullah, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech during a ceremony honoring the electoral team in Sayyed Shouhada (peace be upon him) Complex in Beirut's southern suburb of Ruways.
The following is the full text of the speech:
"In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, Thanks and Praise be to God, Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds, peace and prayers be to the seal of the prophets, Prophet Muhammad, his infallible household, his chosen companions and all the prophets and messengers ...
Honorable jurisprudence scholars, MPs, brothers and sisters peace and God's mercy and blessings be upon you all...
The purpose of tonight's meeting was titled 'Honoring' but it is to give thanks... it is true that those meeting here tonight represent the central electoral team, Beirut, Mount Lebanon and the north, but regarding the brothers and sisters in far away areas in the south and the Bekaa, to whom this speech is also directed, we did not want them to have to travel such long distances in traffic to attend.
The main subject in tonight's speech is the elections, their course, our assessment of them, the influencing factors and the results, additional to dealing with the coming stage, especially that I nor any of the brothers since Monday 8 June to the day, have provided any assessment, reevaluation or a reviewing of events, as of course we needed time to study the details prior to giving any assessment of what actually happened.
But before entering the topic of the meeting we must give our warmest condolences to the virtuous and kind family of His Eminence Dr. Sheikh Fathi Yakan, May God have mercy on his soul, to our brothers in the Islamic Action Front in Lebanon, to all the Lebanese, Muslims and those who loved the late great Islamic scholar and preacher Sheikh Fathi Yakan.
At the same time I would like to do this man, leader and guide some justice of what he rightfully deserves.
He was a truly dear big brother, virtuous scholar, honest preacher, strong advocate for unity of Muslims and the Lebanese, a true supporter and one of the founders of the Islamic and jihad Resistance Movement in Lebanon, supporter of the resistance movements in Palestine, Iraq and the region. He was one of the icons of jihad, struggle, steadfastness, dueling and sacrifice in the face of the American - Zionist project in our region. Extremely clear in his order of priorities from an intellectual, doctrinal, scholarly, political and jihad, he was the Imam of the Friday prayers in downtown Beirut when the largest prayer in Lebanon's history that brought Sunnis and Shiaas together behind his Imamhood and under his platform and the goal of advocating a national unity government in Lebanon, in the aftermath of the events that occurred after the July War.
I ask God Almighty to grant his Eminence-the great late Imam His peace and compassion, to assemble him with the prophets and Imams on Judgment Day, to inspire his family with patience and solace and to grant his brethren, colleagues and students success in following his path.
There are several titles I will go through one at time.
I will focus on some core issues ... I will not be able to expand on all the points, details and particulars, so I can cover all the topics.
Since 8 May to the day, much has been said in the media, newspapers, seminars, dialogues and discussions. Many have made assessments, whether from 'March 14', the opposition, inside and outside Lebanon, or by neutral parties.
The core topics I want to cover with the aim of correcting some of the things that have been said:
- Present and future matters and how to deal with them
- A reading of the results and the reasons
- An evaluation of how to deal with the next stage
- A word of thanks at the end of the talk.
First the objective
From the very beginning we announced that our goal was not to increase Hizbullah's MPs or the MPs in the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc, and as we had said our goal was for the national Lebanese opposition to win the parliamentary majority that enables it to implement a broad and transparent reform project already agreed upon...
This was the objective which regretfully was not achieved.
We will come back shortly to the results that came out after the elections.
But, a question was raised after the results came out.
I saw articles, news reports and certain political sides circulating a rumour in the media and in some private meetings that Hizbullah did not really want the opposition to win the parliamentary elections, claiming that this was the reason 'Hizbullah did not exert all its full efforts to win, because it feared the post-election period!'
My direct, frank, clear and quick answer is this not true in its entirety.
Whether some people say these things out of good faith in us or whether some use such talk to place a wedge between us and our allies in the opposition, (right now I do not want to enter into analyzing motives) I will simply say that such talk is not true.
Hizbullah believed in this objective, worked towards it in all sincerity, seriously and faithfully. It cooperated with all its allies, making every effort possible domestically and regionally, politically and in the media, socially and at every level to achieve this goal, to win, but there were reasons and factors why the results were otherwise, and I will address some of these aspects during this talk.
Yes, I will not hide it; we did fear winning the elections.
Winning meant we would have to shoulder immense responsibilities, to face enormous challenges.
Winning places us under the responsibility to live up to our word, to deliver on promises and pledges we made, because we are a people who deliver on our promises.
We cannot make promises only to forget about them after we win.
Such responsibility is not about power and wealth, and before being held answerable to our people in this world, we consider ourselves answerable to our Almighty Lord on Judgment Day for such a responsibility.
We therefore felt the glory and burden of this responsibility, and therefore in all honesty I do not deny we had apprehensions about winning, had we won, as part of or complete opposition...
..But that did not affect our will and resolve and in all frankness we dealt with this matter on the basis of "If you fear something, lunge headlong into it" (Imam Ali Bin Abitaleb [pbuh]).
This is why we remained firm and strong when the results were announced.
Of course, we were disappointed by them, since we considered the elections as only a station along a long course and not the end of the world, the universe or of history.
Now if you ask whether we were disheartened, disappointed or not?
Well, I want to say this in a lighthearted manner.
When one of two teams playing a board or soccer game loses, this team would definitely feel disappointed, let alone if that team had a national reform project, had invested tremendous efforts, whereby people made sacrifices and endured much hardship in the process, yet still this goal was not realized... in which case it is only natural for this team to be upset or disappointed!
However it is one thing being upset or disappointed and a completely different thing to feel disheartened, dejected, weak or have their resolve rattled.
No, we were not shaken, because we are still who we are, we are still in our place, and as far as we are concerned nothing has changed for us at all.
At the same time I want to commit myself to the existing ceiling of calm in the country, which we have been preserving since the start of the announcement of the results, otherwise if it wasn't for this self-imposed ceiling there were many topics I would have wanted to cover in various ways..
This is the first title.
I will cover all the rest of the titles, but none of what I am about to say in any way means we do not accept the results of the election ... no, but there are facts that must be told, light must be shed on certain subjects in order to treat them accordingly, to address and remedy some negative aspects and to be realistic in the self- process criticism about some points, in order not to go to the level of self-flagellation as some who lose or who do not achieve their goals do...... Self-imposed commitment to the ceiling of calm.
Second: Media and political speech
During the electoral campaign, the other team carried out a huge smear campaign against the opposition saying completely and utterly baseless lies. Unfortunately it showed that the other team did not find a moral problem in adopting methods based on slander, lying and misinformation just for winning the elections or gaining some additional vote.
These are the mildest terms I could find to describe such conduct.
However, we did not do that. During the electoral campaign we did not accuse anyone of falsification, nor did we depend on rumours or lies; anyone believing otherwise can openly negate and challenge my claim.
I say we could not do that, as was rightly described in media debates during the election period, that while "the opposition gradually took on a defensive position 'March 14' went on the attack."
I will give an assessment of this subject.
We could not do this because we have our religious, moral and ethical standards and obligations that prevent us from reverting to illegitimate methods even in parliamentary elections.
Of course, there was another reason that had strongly influenced the results...
During the campaign we were talking about national partnership, a Government of national unity, of solidarity and of cooperation.
In a media confrontation this meant we were not able to destroy all the bridges with the other team. If we wanted to open up files, make charges based on events and facts, dig up pasts and frighten the public of a future under the others' rule, we would have had plenty of ammo for such confrontation.
Had we said made charges against the other camp and won the elections, how could we explain to our support base and constituents our sitting down and forming a national unity government with that team? We will loose our credibility.
Because the descriptions we would have had to use against our competition do not allow us to coordinate or cooperate with them in subsequent government.
As for them they have no qualms to issue all sorts of descriptions against us and later sit with us as if nothing happened at all, this may not form an obstacle with their support bases.
It is for this reason the opposition gradually shifted, particularly in the final weeks from being on the attack to a defensive speech, because lies started pouring down on us while we all had to carry umbrellas because we could barely keep up with the amount of lies coming down.
Before the elections I referred to some headlines on such issues as:
• The tripartite rule,
• Shortening the term of the president,
• Accusing the opposition of not wanting the elections to run,
• Accusing the opposition of wanting to impede the counting of votes,
• Accusing the opposition of intending to refuse the results if not in its favor, to blow up the situation in the country,
• Frightening people of weapons, especially those of Hizbullah and the resistance, and its impact on elections,
• Wilayat al-Faqih - The Guardianship of the Jurist and the Islamic State
• The Third Republic,
All of this and more were used, some I have previously commented on, but I shall address briefly again shortly.
First I will comment on some matters that came under the context of media speeches a day prior to Election Day, although it is before the 7th of June and is behind us now, I will comment on it because it is important for after the seventh of June.
A-The media statement issued by His Beatitude the Patriarch
The media statement issued by His Beatitude the Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir on Saturday ahead of Election Day, circulated and later withdrawn, but after it had already been circulated and distributed.
His Beatitude spoke about two points:
1- The threat to the Lebanese entity
2- The threat to Lebanon's Arab identity
The threat to the Lebanese entity
Of course, as a Lebanese citizen, I could not absorb or understand how His Beatitude the Patriarch reaches the understanding that "if the opposition won the elections, the Lebanese entity becomes threatened"?!
Until this moment I cannot say I understand it to even discuss such a statement.
But I do have a question that His Beatitude has been in Bkirki since the eighties, nineties and after 2000, during this period we have all seen "Israeli" wars, assaults, massacres, displacement of our population, resettlement projects and the imposition of settlements and conditions on Lebanon, not once have I heard His Beatitude speak about the entity being threatened!
Throughout the eighties and the years that followed, and everything "Israel" did and represents, even now after Netanyahu's speech, "Israel's" past, current and future threats, as far as the Lebanese entity is concerned, over 20 or 25 years of His Beatitude holding his position as Patriarch, did that not call His Beatitude to talk about the threats to the Lebanese entity as a whole, yet the victory of the opposition prompts him to take a stand of such a very high ceiling?
Of course, this is higher and more dangerous position than the story of the Guardianship of the Jurist, we are often given comments about.
The threat to the Arab identity of Lebanon
Here we have to ask whether the national Lebanese opposition is considered Arabs or not?
If Syria is what is intended by such a statement, Syria is Arab and no one has claimed otherwise.
In addition, whether Lebanon establishes distinct relationship with Syria as an Arab state, or with a different Arab axis (I do not want to go into naming those states whose current influence is evident in the Lebanese arena), does that mean its Arab identity is preserved with that axis yet with Syria it isn't?
Or may be the intended party is Iran, even though Iran is not Persian anymore and what exists in Iran is an Islamic culture, the faith of Arab Mohammad, the Hashemite of Mecca, the Qureishi, Tuhami, Alm'dhari etc...
...And the founder of the Islamic Republic is an Arab, a descendant of the Prophet Mohammad the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) ...
...the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran today is His Eminence Ayatollah Khamenei is too, he is a Sayyed Qureishi, Hashemite son of the Messenger of God, son of Ali Bin Abitalib (pbuh) and Fatima al-Zahra (pbuh)... they are Arabs.
Anyway, Iran could be the intended side by that insinuation.
Now I do not want to go into much detail but I really like to hear from His Beatitude how the opposition's victory threatens Lebanon's Arab face-identity?
Nonetheless, we must build on this for the future, and I suggest to the brothers and our allies to take seriously the concerns of the Patriarch and formulate a bundle of suggestions and proposals based on research and studies to affirm and strengthen the Arab face-identity of Lebanon, to later present them to His Beatitude the Patriarch to support in a public statement.
B-The Guardianship of the Jurist
We can forget about what was said before the seventh of June, but just for future reference I would like to draw attention to this particularity to the various Lebanese parties, friends, loved ones, competitors, call yourself what you will.
There is nothing wrong with differing in politics, accusing even harming each other politically may be permissible, for example you can say what you want about Hizbullah and its relationship with Syria, its relationship with Iran, or when we are accused of being 'Iran's group', collaborators' or in the Iranian axis, this is all tolerable in politics.
I wish to draw the attention of the political forces and leaders, as well as the media in Lebanon that "freedom of religious belief" is written in the constitution of Lebanon.
Is this not true?
This means no one of the followers of all religions has right to offend the religious belief of another, even if they do not believe in those beliefs or even if they find them unacceptable.
That in Lebanon, there is the freedom of religion, which guarantees the freedom to believe, may be it is something they do not know about, in which case I like to inform them that for us the subject of the Guardianship of the Jurist - The Imamate is a part of our religious beliefs, attacking it is an attack against our religious beliefs.
Whoever likes to engage in a religious debate with us can do so and we are open to that, concordant of course with not having anything to do with elections, political campaigns, the government and parliament.
Religion scholars, men of thought and culture can sit together, hold seminars, debates and discussions, issues of theology and the whole line of prophets and messengers, issues of jurisprudence, the world and the Hereafter, this is no problem.
But I would like to stress this aspect is a part of our religious belief. It is true that one could get out to say that there is no consensus among the Shiaas in the world or in history, that there are many or numerous religious beliefs that do not have consensus, but a large part of the Shiaas believe in this matter, just as there are many religious beliefs among other sects without consensus within their main religions.
Not being the subject of consensus does not make it cease being a religious belief worthy of respect.
With all care, love and respect for all, I would like to address the media in Lebanon and outside Lebanon, but specifically Lebanon as s a country of law and Constitution we pride ourselves on, I ask all, to please refrain from offending our religious beliefs, yet in politics you can say whatever you like about us.
C- Frightening the people of the opposition's win
During the elections there was talk of the implications of a victory by the opposition, and how the world would have dealt with Lebanon had the opposition succeeded. There was talk about the Gaza-option, that Lebanon could become like Gaza and "Israel" would launch a war against Lebanon. Of course "Israel" later focused on such talk when Barak made clear threats against Lebanon. It was also said that America would reconsider their aid to Lebanon, and that some Gulf States will pull out their financial assets out of Lebanon.
All of this talk was said.
Regarding this point I have a final comment: If all you ('March 14') said during the elections is not true, we will then just add it all to the production-mills of lies, deception and forgery...!
If all that you said is true, it indicates that America, the West and all outside countries were used to apply pressure, disrespecting the will of the Lebanese voters and people; hence they came to pressure, intimidate and threaten the voter to force his vote in a different direction.
Of course, many Lebanese did not succumb to this intimidation, but no doubt a certain segment was affected by it.
Thus the reality of the situation, if we are to describe the elections that took place in Lebanon, which they said could not be held under the intimidation of the weapons of the resistance and Hizbullah, these elections did occur but under American, "Israeli", Arab and Western intimidation, to impose options on Lebanese voters that may not necessarily reflect the real will.
This also means that the world that talks about democracy and the people's will accept any results provided it serves their interests, if the results do not, then these countries will treat the results with suspicion even fight them, such as what happened in Palestine for example (I will not touch on the Iranian elections now that is an internal matter.)
I advise the March 14 media, politicians and analysts to stop interfering in the Iranian [presidential] elections, because they do not understand anything with regard to the issue, and before we know it they will start presenting President Ahmadinejad and Mir Hussein Moussavi respectively as March 8 and 'March 14' (the two competing Lebanese political camps), this is absurd!
In any case, Obama got the point right yesterday, as there clearly there is no 8 and 'March 14' in the US, and yes, there are uncertainties round the elections, and those who slipped between the demonstrators and started riots, fires, killing, burning and caused destruction, because there are enemies of the regime.
His Eminence the Sayyed leader yesterday said those who committed such acts were known villains who do not belong to the supporters of any of the candidates, whose ugly faces have been uncovered and are now known.
Now some friends in Iran have ruined this wedding because of a disagreement on the issue of counting of votes. Usually in Iran such problems do occur but I would like to stress and assure you that due to the blessings of the presence of the supreme jurist, the presence of His Eminence the Sayyed Leader, the great deal of awareness among the officials coupled with the dedication of the Iranian people Iran will easily overcome this ordeal, God willing.
The dreams built and hopes pinned on such disturbances are but illusions and mirages.
Third: The expatriates
In any case the world does not acknowledge forty million Iranians who stood from morning till evening to vote, under the Islamic regime and under the mantle of the guardian jurist!
Where else in the world do you find such phenomenon?
Where in the world do we find 85% of the people casting ballots in presidential elections?
If we are to criticize some people in the electoral process, we must also be fair to others and defend them as well, and do not allow any offense to them.
The expatriates were an effective factor in some of the electoral districts in Lebanon, decisive in the case of some districts.
Our view is that it is the expatriates right to vote even if they have not been to Lebanon for forty or fifty years, if they have not shared in the suffering and the hardship or live in another world altogether. Holding a Lebanese citizenship according to Lebanese law entitles them voting rights.
We respect their right to come to Lebanon to participate in the elections and cast their votes, and it is unacceptable, not only on the level in winning or losing districts of opposition and 'March 14' forces, but as a whole no one has the right to offend the expatriates or paint them in an inappropriate picture.
In the end they are Lebanese, their legal right are preserved by law, and they have their convictions which they came to express with their votes.
It was obvious there were tens of thousands of expatriates who came to the elections, or let us say in many cases they were brought in to the elections, to sensitive districts of close counts in particular.
In order to give a fair presentation I will focus on the Zahle district example as it is considered the district that tipped the balance, otherwise we would have been at the equal number of 64 seats for each of both camps, with no winner and no looser.
There is no doubt the other team strongly focused on this district, and I saw on television in an honoring ceremony for the expatriates in which one of the winning candidates stood up to say "I thank you very much, for if it was not for your arrival we would not have won in this district."
The debate here is not about the right to vote but the inequality of opportunity between the opposition and 'March 14' forces.
It is true that like the 'March 14' the opposition also brought expatriates, but there is no equality in opportunities:
- Financially, the difference is vast, in other words if we are to spend money to bring in voters from abroad and they do the same there would be great imbalance, this is besides the legal question of whether the law allows this level of electoral spending or not? I am only describing the situation here.
Facts no doubt confirm that reports presented in the "Newsweek" and other media saying that up to $750 million were spent to bring in expatriates ... then seeing the numbers of expatriates coming in and their manifested distribution internally.
But yes huge funds were spent and unequal opportunities were invested in bringing in the expatriates.
The other thing is related to the States where the expatriates reside, many countries have made facilities for the 'March 14' group, while the others did not have any of these facilities, on the contrary, there was pressure exerted on us in return, security and psychological pressure and I do not want to go into naming States.
Hence on the expatriates' topic, they have their right to come and vote, but there was no equal opportunity at all. Later if the issue of the expatriates to vote abroad is to be implemented or come to Lebanon to vote, such matter would need some safeguards and discussions in the coming phase.
Fourth: The electoral spending range
[Allow me to joke about this huge some of money: If this is how far you ('March 14') were prepared to go, you could have given us the $750 million and we would have left you the majority for this year. With $750 million we could complete compensation payments, serve disadvantaged and vulnerable areas, help the suffering and later resume with politics.]
Despite the existence of a law that governs electoral spending, a tremendous level of spending occurred in recent months on media, services provided, asphalt for certain unsealed roads, schools fees, food rations, hospitalization bills, payments, etc... This issue is not that much of a concern as far as we are concerned, good for the people I say.
The people probably wish there were elections every year to see their children's school, university and hospitalization fees paid, aid packages and food rations provided, their village roads sealed etc...Again, here we are not talking about the legal aspect of how much the law allows.
But what is dangerous, degrading and humiliating and leads to a real contest of the election results is the buying of votes. Where the voter is actually told 'to take a particular voting paper to the voting box in return for a price'!
The voter is in a sense told to withhold his/her conviction or voice while he/she rents out his voting right on Election Day in return for a certain price. Then to have his political conviction back to him after the elections, this actually provides for a legal contestation of the election results.
This is why when I used the Zahle district as an example, as you know I like to confirm and double check things before I announce them, in Zahle's case witnesses say that the price of votes reached $2,000 or $3,000 per vote and increased as the closing of the ballot boxes drew nearer.
Supporters of the opposition in the Zahle district were offered $500 just for having their identity cards (which the voter needs to vote) withheld on election day, so they do not vote for the opposition, in cases even a thousand dollars were offered.
In other words, money was paid for concealing certain votes and to purchase others.
Does that reflect the real will of the Lebanese people and the voters? No.
If we approach the people in that district now and tell them there is no money in return for withholding their ID cards or for votes, would it be possible to have the same results? No, under such conditions it would be impossible for results to be the same.
Of course, this is something dangerous. Here I am not trying to avoid acceptance of the outcome of the elections, no, but a great deal rests on this and as I said at the outset, whether I have doubts about the integrity of the elections, yes, I say it brings doubt into the results of the elections, the resulting level of legal representation and all the ensuing effects born from that.
But we are closely watching this issue through legal process; we will contest them in lawful means, and not through sit-ins, blocking roads or demonstrations that may affect the current calm and harmony observed in the country.
Fifth: religious, sectarian and racial incitement
There is no doubt that the religious, sectarian and racial incitement has had a significant impact during the elections and unfortunately some of the incitement is still present after the elections.
In my opinion the financial matter is less dangerous and less serious, lack of equal opportunities is too, and so are political charges and accusations but the most dangerous aspect seen in the elections in this country is the religious, racist and sectarian provocation and incitement.
Because for those who sold their election rights and voted, the whole thing is over by the end of the elections, since wounds created by political differences are quickly healed through political convergence; but religious, sectarian and racial incitement and provocations open historic wounds difficult to heal, and unleash blinded instincts that take the country into the unknown.
Here of course I want to pause a little to sound the alarm, and I proudly like to say, as I said before June 7, that as far as we are concerned, if anyone sees any discrimination in our discourse or rhetoric whether religious, ethnic or racial, to please direct us to it and we are prepared to fix it and apologize for it.
But I know we have not at any point used such discourse.
This was not the result of our commitment I might add, but pragmatically speaking, we have not needed to resort to such discourse because we are not weak...no, we are not weak.
Such discriminatory rhetoric was used in the parliamentary elections and is still being used now after the elections. The two most targeted groups I am compelled to say using sectarian speak, only in defense and not to attack anyone, are the Shiaas and the Armenians of Lebanon.
The Armenians were attacked as a result of their political choices, Armenians who were naturalized 100 years ago more or less, were suddenly branded foreign subjects in Lebanon and no longer Lebanese, yet those naturalized 10 or 12 years ago were now fully fledged Lebanese only if they voted for the other team ...this is racism.
Such talk is racist.
Of course, opening this door in Lebanon is very dangerous, as someone might start considering the Lebanese Kurds as foreign subjects, or start questioning the origins of the rest of the Lebanese whether Turkish, Turkmenistani, Persian, etc...
Opening such door is shameful regardless of the reason behind it.
The other thing is that the Armenians were no longer even considered Christian by the other group. Certain parties in Lebanon when counting the Christian votes in Lebanon, they now counted out the Armenian votes from Christian representation!
I know that the Armenians have not become Muslims and that they are all still Christians in Lebanon, Catholic and Orthodox Armenians, unfortunately the Armenian community- during and after the elections -continue to be attacked with racist, sectarian and non-moral spears in their chests.
Their political choice must be respected whatever it is. They are not to be considered national partners only if they vote according to a certain mood, then be deny it if their political convictions differ.
I did mention the Armenian aspect before the Shiaa one, because the Armenian issue is a little less complicated to explain. As for the Shiaas, please allow me to talk about that, which is probably the first time I cover the Shiaas in Lebanon in a speech.
In the last elections a great deal of provocations took place, some aspects were evident others veiled; the central point was that if the opposition won the elections it meant the Shiaas would rule Lebanon.
Now this was said openly in public lectures and seminars, in meetings and media articles. It was also said in a veiled fashion through political speech under titles such as 'Hizbullah Islamic State', the State of 'the Guardianship of the Jurist', the State of 'the weapons of the resistance', or the disseminated talk that should the opposition win General Aoun would not rule, nor would any of the other opposition personalities, but Sayyed Hassan only!
The entire speech was focused on the central point that an opposition win in the elections meant the Shiaas will rule Lebanon!
The only term I can use under the current calm we are all observing to describe such talk is that it is all lies and falsification of truths and facts, misleading to public opinion, and nothing less, since we have said on more than one occasion that our greatest ambition as Shiaas in Lebanon, is genuine partnership.
This Lebanon can only be upheld by the cooperation, partnership and togetherness of all its components. This is what we believe in, acknowledge and recognize and all other talk is misleading.
As a religious confession, we have been excluded, forgotten, neglected and ignored, yet all we aspire to in this country is true partnership and we believe in:
• The specificity of Lebanon
• The Diversity and pluralism of Lebanon, with no qualms about saying that
• Lebanon which cannot be governed by any single party, group, confession or sect, no matter the strength or ability of that party, group, confession or sect...acknowledge and recognize, all other talk is misleading.
Abusive language began during and after the elections, when such terms as the "Shiaa bloc" or the "Shiaa vote" started being used. Some would say that a certain MP won because of the Shiaa votes, as if it is something to be ashamed of.
The biggest insult to the Shiaa was to say it is a deaf bloc that does not think, discuss or feel, is without vision, totalitarian, its followers go like (I won't say like what) to cast their ballots without thinking.
This is an insult we do not accept.
That they are a mass who do not think and can be directed to serve any list of candidates. Of course this talk is now found in some newspapers and the media, politicians are using this kind of talk as well.
This we find insulting and do not accept, but I will comment on this subject with the following:
1- I want to remind them that the Shiaas in Lebanon are not one single party, the trend of wanting exclusive representation of their sect or confession exists among other confessions in Lebanon where certain parties here or there are known for such attempts, conversely we do not have this trend.
The Shiaas in Lebanon are not only a sect [with a single identity]; they are [represented by] more than one party, with many intellectual trends and orientation.
We do not claim exclusive representation of all the Shiaas, Hizbullah and Amal movement do not make such claim whether individually or together, this is the truth.
None of us claims exclusivity of representation nor aspires the elimination of the other. Such notions according to Shiaa foundational make up of culture and doctrine, jurisprudence and spiritual belief, education, conscience and history are unworkable and impermissible.
We are a human group brought up on the multiplicity of religious jurisprudence references, open jurisprudence access, multiplicity of Jurist Guardians and leaders, besides the multiplicity of intellectual as well as political trends.
2- Yes, there is currently a coalition of Hizbullah and Amal, an alliance of two large movements based on mutual respect, cooperation and collaboration, additional to genuine transparent discussion and dialogue.
But even these two groups do not claim exclusive representation of all the Shiaas. The Shiaas have a broad scale cultural presence in various religious and intellectual positions that are not related to Hizbullah or Amal Movement, however, this presence, as I will shortly explain, meets with Hizbullah and Amal at the major national and political choices.
3- Some choose to see the Shiaas as a single bloc not for sectarian or religious reasons-because the Shiaas are like the rest of the confessions and sects in Lebanon who have had their disputes, fought and competed in parliamentary and municipal elections-but because today that which unites them whether in Hizbullah, Amal or any other group are the major pan-national political choices.
This is the true position of the Shiaa community in Lebanon.
The choices as Shiaas we meet on are not about having hostility toward anyone else in Lebanon but on:
• the resistance option
• that "Israel" is absolute evil and an illegal entity
• on rejecting occupation and domination of Lebanon's independence and sovereignty
• on nation-building
• the Taef Agreement and
• the principle of national partnership
• on having natural and distinctive ties with Syria and with the entire Arab world
• on having a clear ideological position of the Palestinian cause, the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance
These are the options we meet on.
Today, win or loose we pay the price for these choices, whether we make peace or not, but the moment we give up these choices our position will be viewed differently by the Americans, the west and the rest of the world.
Because the Lebanese Shiaas united and met on these options which have become the conviction, culture, commitment and faith they expressed in the 2009 elections.
This is why they did not give up their votes according to how much money was paid but according to conviction, their votes could not be bought -I will provide some numbers about how that is so-nor did they submit to intimidation, not by Barak who said that "voting for Hizbullah will place Lebanon face to face against the might of the 'Israeli' Army."
Although his talk targeted all the Lebanese, but it mainly targeted the Shiaas in the south, the Bekaa and the southern suburbs, basically the places 'Israel' extensively bombed during the war, yet the Shiaas gave Barak their response in the elections by choosing the resistance.
The Shiaa constituents were not deaf, they came to express their views and convictions, no one told them to vote according to a religious opinion, which some until now still claim is the reason behind such a high number of Shiaa votes; and I say let them prove it by bringing forward anyone who says they voted because they were to told to vote in a certain way because of religious opinion.
Unfortunately, the only time we had to use the language of religious opinion with our bases was in 2005 elections for the single reason that the course of the election could have lead to strife and sedition in Lebanon. We applied religious opinion to prevent sedition, and unfortunately that time we voted for them then.
But anyway who is it talking about religious opinion in these elections?!
Pragmatically speaking again, the people did not require religious opinion anyway, because the Shiaa motives, incentives, awareness, sense of responsibility and the gravity of this stage was enough for them all to go to the ballots, and for the expatriates to travel to Lebanon at their own expense and vote in the various districts for their conviction and choices.
The Shiaas came to the polls not out of religious opinion, or because sectarian incitement, but because they had a picture formed in their minds of all the good things that would happen in the country if the opposition wins the elections.
They also have on their mind their loyalty to the many allies in the many varying districts, who stood by them in the tough and testing times of the July war, so they decided that beside the existing political alliance we share, it is now a time to express our faithful and moral loyalty to these allies.
Otherwise how can anyone explain the electoral teams in the Baabda, Mount Lebanon and north regions? (Districts where no Shiaa candidates are running)
This is an indication of something more important, that the Shiaa voters had actually come specifically to give a strong message, seeing that this message was a focal point in the election climate-this is not to say that a great many other non-Shiaa Muslim and Christian voters did not give that very same message as well, but since I am talking about the Shiaas I will keep focus on this angle.
It is an expression of the mood.
In the wake of the July war the media machine, which I call the black chambers local and satellite channels and different media, began to disseminate talk about how the Shiaa mood in Lebanon had started to detract from supporting the resistance. Claiming that the Shiaas grew tired of this option that embracing the resistance was propped up by money, weapons, intimidations and the like; even collaborators who were caught and arrested recently said that during and after the July war, the Zionists main information target in Lebanon was the monitoring and collection of the public mood in the street, the Shiaas in particular.
They wanted to know what people are saying in the Dahyieh, in the Bekaa and the South. The "Israelis" were very much interested to know what people in these areas were saying.
I would like to tell you that one of the most important goals in the war for this level of destruction of buildings, homes, factories, shopping malls, this level of killing of women and children-our women and children, such cruelty and brutality the "Israelis" confronted us with, among other objectives it was to harm the Lebanese people's awareness and mood, the Lebanese Shiaas in particular. And the Lebanese Shiaas came out on June 7 elections stood in long queues, even in districts where no competition existed where they knew their candidates will win for sure, they still voted to give a message to both inside and outside, to Barak, Netanyahu, Lieberman and to Begin in his grave that the Resistance is still in their conscience, minds, flesh, blood and faith.
This is the strongest message, the most powerful message sent by those who were targeted in the July War, who suffered massacres against their women and children, they homes destroyed and not yet rebuilt, the 1.1 million people displaced for more than 33 day away from their homes in the July war, they came out to say that the killing, displacement and destruction can not separate them/us from the resistance because the resistance is not a gang or a party brought in from a remote far away country, the resistance is us... us....us, we the adults and elders, women and children, workers and students, professors and farmers and peasants in the fields, we who created this resistance did not import it, nor was this resistance imposed on us by anyone.
This is our choice, the choice of our ancestors and descendants, our children and the dearest to us all, this is the message all of you loudly and clearly sent out on June 7 for the entire world to hear.
Talks of withdrawing the discussion of the weapons of the Resistance from public handling to [exclusively at] the national dialogue table and away from public debate is certainly a good position.
Offers of guarantees we have been hearing talk of, is no doubt good to hear too, and I hope such climate continues to prevail; meanwhile we are open to listen and to dialogue.
I would also like to tell the Lebanese and the world and anyone seeking or talking about guarantees, reassurances, and to those searching for our points of strength, I say this that you the ones sitting in front of me here, you and all your folks, the Shiaas and the rest of the Lebanese who embraced, defended and protected this resistance, the guarantee is you, yourselves, you are the guarantee.
This is why after the election results were released, I was very clear when I said there is no need to be concerned for the resistance, as long as you people, its people, its community, its builders, its flesh, bones and blood, as long as you are its heart and mind there is no need to be concerned for the resistance in Lebanon.
This is the existing climate.
When these Shiaas who are considered "deaf" by some went to the ballots to vote, they carried with them this background, mood and climate.
In contrast, there are people over the past few months who claimed to represent certain Shiaa currents; they claimed that Hizbullah and Amal are misleading the people through money, employment and services. They promised that if given money they could change the situation.
One of them founded a movement and was given $40 to $50 million, which he spent in a few months in south Lebanon, even the people he recruited on full time basis did not vote for him in the district where he ran as candidate, he received 743 Shiaa votes compared with 36,000 to 37,000 Shiaa votes for the Amal and Hizbullah candidates.
$40 to $50 million did not even bring him 800 votes. This is an indicator. Those who go to some rich Arab countries telling them that the whole story in the south, the Bekaa, Baabda and elsewhere is one of money, and that given money they could change the situation. They were telling fibs to take money, which if spent differently here it could bring more positive results.
Because this is a mood, a Shiaa direction based on their thinking, intellectual and cultural choice, not on extremism; if someone comes to south Lebanon with even $100 million, criticizes and attacks the resistance and its weapons, detracts from the sacrifices of the resistance and its martyrs, when the resistance itself, is none other than those before whom he was making these attacks!
Would anyone in any areas, any father or mother of a martyr, prisoner or wounded be willing to sell their son's blood for millions of dollars to this or that leader from here or there?
We as Shiaas have long finished with lords of political feudalism; hundreds of millions of dollars could not revive something remotely related to political feudalism among the Lebanese Shiaas.
This is in relation to a candidate who lost in the elections.
It is also my duty to mention to the people, with all due respect, that in some districts in the south, the Bekaa Valley, in the Dahyieh and elsewhere some Shiaa candidates, who competed against Hizbullah - Amal Shiaa candidates, acquired 1,000 or 2,000 votes, but those votes went to candidates who were not considered hostile to the resistance choice, many of them even considered friends of the resistance, but insisted to carry on with their own candidacy due to their own considerations.
Even if we take the winning candidates, take Zahle for example (because a great detail can be based on this Zahle issue in future) where the Shiaa votes reached 16,857, the picture looks thus:
- The share of the winning Shiaa candidate for the Shiaa seat in Zahle was 422 votes.
In other words he did not even reach 500 votes, compared with the opposition candidate who won 15,655 votes!
- In the Western Bekaa, the Shiaa votes in the ballots were counted as 12,950. The winning candidate for the Shiaa seat in the Western Bekaa got 844 votes to 10,699 to the opposition Shiaa candidate.
- Beirut III district: the winner for the Shiaa seat obtained 1,064 votes from 17,820 votes, compared to 14,182 votes to the Shiaa candidate of the opposition.
Well what does that tell us?
This means there is a large sweeping mood, emphasizing it is not religious or sectarian extremist, but based on political awareness and will, the historic awareness of these voters who kept up with events over the past years, before and after the "Israeli" occupation, who have always been at the heart of the Lebanese plight, challenges and the unfolding developments of Lebanon.
The figures I am presenting here, in no way means I do not consider those candidates not winning, to the contrary, I consider the winner in Beirut's III district the representing MP for the Shiaa seat of that district.
This is his legal right, because our electoral law says that it does not matter how many votes the candidate should gain from his sect but from the total voters of his district regardless of their.
However just as I respect the will of the voters in Beirut, the will of the voters of all other areas must also be respected and no one has the right to belittle the votes of the Shiaas, Armenians or anyone else for that matter.
Sixth: the technical side
1- Electoral Staff: According to semi-final assessments we checked and from keeping up with events from the beginning of the elections, I like to confirm that Hizbullah's campaign staff-who incidentally were not only party members but included Hizbullah sympathizers and supporters including Shiaas, Sunnis, Druze, Christians, Allawites and all sects-worked hard and efficiently.
I wish to take this opportunity to give gratitude and thanks to you (electoral teams) for your efforts.
The electoral staff of our allies worked hard, but only they can assess their own efforts from which we can learn for the future.
2- The Polls: Regarding the polls, there was a loop hole. The presented polls excluded from consideration the expatriate factor. These polls may have taken into account local vote buying, because they were conducted within electoral districts not including the expatriates flown into constituencies from abroad.
That is why we notice that in the districts where expatriates did not vote, the opinion polls were compatible with the election results; on the other hand they were incompatible in districts where expatriate factor was heavily used.
We place no blame on opinion poll centers, and of course this too will be taken into account as a learning experience to benefit from in the future. But I will make a comment on the issue of opinion polls, as I have read and heard many ask the question about where the opposition erred, and that its error was in having considered itself a winner based on opinion polls.
Such talk is not very accurate.
It is true that opinion polls gave victory to the opposition based on local Lebanese field data, which excluded the expatriate factor; this is while the other side started showing signs of concern in their own constituencies, due to their own opinion polls that also favored victory for the opposition.
Because of this sense of alarm in the last two weeks, and a real fear of potential loss the other side spurred a significant determination effort in some districts where suddenly media and electoral spending exceeded all limits.
Here I would like to reassure the opposition support base that the opposition did not base its performance and strategy on opinion polls because despite all polls we maintained the view throughout the elections that either side could win or loose by one or two votes.
Hence the inclusive possibility of loss, knowing that surprises and changes could occur in such battles. And away from any self-whipping I stress that the electoral management in the opposition did not slacken but invested its greatest efforts. If a certain discrepancy was found in the electoral staff then that discrepancy is in that particular area and not caused by opinion polls.
Nonetheless, this is still to be benefited from for the future.
3- The opposition speech that confidently spoke of an electoral victory.
Some have said that such confidence caused a sense of relaxedness among opposition voters actively discouraging them and the opposition forces into calm.
This is not true, to the contrary when the opposition was saying it will win it was at maximum performance, but claiming the election win is a method used in election campaigns in all parts of the world and by all sides.
Yes, I admit that such reassured talk left a negative psychological impact on the opposition's support base when the opposition failed to win the majority. This is something to consider and learn from for the future, but that this had an impact on the course of the electoral process and that different election results would have come out had it not been used, is simply untrue.
4- Opposition elections speech errors, as mentioned earlier, it was said that some speeches of the opposition had mistakes or lapses committed. We say no one is infallible, this is in isolation of whether an actual mistake did or did not occur, but I would like to assure you that pooling in all these errors together would still not have altered the course of these elections, since the governing factors were the ones I mentioned earlier.
In addition, just as the great number of errors committed by the other side did not affect the election outcome, due to the influencing factors being else where and completely different, I believe the opposition's media errors did not contribute to the results, because the controlling factors of the results were the ones I have mentioned.
Seventh: in the results
It is true; the opposition did not win the parliamentary majority, nor did it have parliamentary majority prior to the elections, therefore, it did not achieve the goal it set out to achieve.
The opposition did not lose either, but maintained its position in the face of a real world war. Money, intimidation and threat, America, "Israel" and the West, satellite channels, media and lie fabricating mills, and the opposition withstood all of this.
I would like to tell you that after we what came out in the elections, the opposition crowd especially in Mount Lebanon, they should give many thanks to God that the opposition endured and maintained its positions.
The opposition acted calmly and responsibly with regards to the results, which it accepted in isolation from the submitted legal appeals, but here I would like to ask, as I do not know nor want to accuse, but had the opposition won, how would the other team and the world have responded to such a win?
This confirms that we in the opposition are democratic with a true sportsmanship spirit, and at least we can say we succeeded in this test. The others have not had this test yet, we will see how they fare when their test comes how they deal with the results.
The opposition also demonstrated having a broad scale national presence among all confessions and areas:
- We covered the Shiaa aspect
- In Christian areas, the opposition withstood some of the toughest battles in the elections
- On the Druze and Sunni levels, percentages were descent and good, especially when in some Sunni districts some symbols of the Sunni-opposition after fierce electoral battles sometimes obtained nearly a third to half the volume of votes. This is of course excellent and can be built upon.
Hence the size of the opposition alliance on national scale today is a real foundation for further work to serve the project for our alliance.
When I spoke on Monday after the election results were released, and said we will look at the parliamentary majority and the popular majority, many studies and surveys have been conducted since giving forward a lot of numbers, and as you know I am very reserved about figures, but I would like to assure you that whatever and however we compile and add the resulting data and whichever way we look at it we can unequivocally and categorically say that the result of the June 7, 2009 votes gives the opposition the popular majority in Lebanon.
Some, who usually theorize about the will of the Lebanese people, cannot do so now by relying on a parliamentary majority that differs from popular majority, they can no longer claim that certain political choices are the wishes of the Lebanese people as a people. No, this parliamentary majority is directly linked to how electoral districts were zoned and divided up according to the current election law.
Hence, this popular majority has a moral and political value, even a constitutional value when facing anything that may threaten or contravene co-existence, the National Covenant and National Partnership.
Are they the parliamentary majority according to the election law we had agreed to?
Yes, they are a real parliamentary majority, until the outcome of the appeals comes out. This is something we do not deny.
But the opposition is the popular majority.
Though a popular majority may not have any parliamentary value, but it has sentimental and political value.
Eighth: Concerning the next phase
1- Will aim to preserve our coalition and relationship with all opposition forces, without exception, to emphasize the continuity of this coalition and this relationship, no matter the position held by the opposition in the next stage.
We confirm and reaffirm our relations and commitments to our allies and remain loyal to them, and all meetings, analysis, guarantees and promises outside of that to remain under this ceiling and not to interfere with this primary asset.
2- Hizbullah's candidate in the elections for Parliament House Speaker is President Nabih Berri.
3- The parliamentary majority has the constitutional right to name the prime minister.
4- Hizbullah's participation as a party or as part of the opposition in the next cabinet is linked to the majority's proposals and suggestions. I do not want to pre-empt, nor close doors but rather keep open this existing environment.
5- We will demand the majority to fulfill the promises of reform it made when announcing its electoral agendas in finance, economics, development and the many other headings. One of the most important functions of the Loyalty to the Resistance Parliamentary bloc, as MPs, and Hizbullah as a political movement in the country is to cooperate with the rest of the opposition on pursuing the parliamentary majority to fulfill the promises they made during the election campaign.
6- We will work on fulfilling promises we made during the election days God willing, regardless of whether we join government or not.
7- We will follow up the legal aspects with our allies in some of the districts, particularly the Zahle district in solidarity with Cabinet Minister Skaf and the popular bloc. We take what happened in Zahle seriously from a legal point of view.
8- Regarding the topic of the national dialogue table, we stick to what we said before the elections that we will continue to participate in the dialogue table, and we will see which criteria is to be adopted for forming the table of dialogue? I think this would be among the subjects of discussion in the next stage. I hope the resistance weapons from a political, moral and image of the country point of view vis-à-vis "Israel" is outside political and media consumption.
9- We will demand for a formal response from the coming government, whether we are inside or outside it, mainly at the dialogue table, in reply to "Israeli" Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech, which wrote off Palestine, the Palestinian cause, Arab dignity threatening the entire Arab world. This needs a confrontation plan rather than a few words or a statement here a press conference there, which will not suffice. This matter is not a conversation subject it is a grave matter.
Before the elections when mainly some of the opposition leaders spoke about the settling the Palestinians, others accused the opposition of using such talk as a scarecrow, but now that Netanyahu's speech ended this discussion, nothing about it is secret anymore.
Obama backed Netanyahu's speech by commending it as positive, important and progressive, when in truth there is nothing positive, important or progressive about it at all, but rather it was the opposite all backward.
I wish to emphasis what I said a couple of days ago, that Netanyahu's speech revealed the American deception. Whereby while Obama was on his way to the region, Netanyahu made an extreme and tough speech; Obama was then supposed to arrive as if he wants to put pressure on Netanyahu, only to come out to later tell the Arabs to accept what Netanyahu is offering 'as the best he could squeeze out of the "Israelis", otherwise get nothing!'
I would like to stress, to you and to those who assess in good faith, that what is happening now is 'not' an "Israeli"-US disagreement the way some Arab elites try to analyse and promote.
What is happening is an US-"Israeli" plan, a scheme with a clear division of roles between the US and "Israel" to deceive the Arabs yet again, but the people of the region will not be deceived.
We will demand for a national plan on how to confront Netanyahu's plan to settle the Palestinians, while preserving the dignity, humanity, civil and human rights for our Palestinian brothers in Lebanon. This is because we should stay aware not to issue fiery racist, sectarian, religious speeches while discussing the subject of Palestinian settlement and how to face the displacement-transfer plan.
This "Israel" has been carrying out 'Transformation 3' the biggest military maneuvers in its history, had we not alerted the media spotlights to the event "Israel" would have escaped everyone's attention, as they continue their exercises till this moment.
May be they are training for an all out war that destroys the whole region in order to impose its conditions on the region according to Netanyahu's vision, to regain its deterrence ability.
This may be the fruit, as far as "Israel" is concerned, of the possible relocation of the 1948 Palestinians God forbid.
If the relocation of the Palestinians was allowed a natural line, this would land the Palestinians in Lebanon. Hence the question: "what is the plan to confront this displacement or 'transfer' both Netanyahu and Lieberman dream of?"
This subject needs to be confronted and efforts coordinated, antagonism must be abandoned, we must seek the points of strength, place rumours and ill-intentions aside, to see how to cooperate to protect our country which is a part of this region that is located on a fissure line of political targets, earthquakes and storms.
This is our vision for the coming phase.
In this meeting, I present to you one by one here, and all brothers and sisters of the rest of Hizbullah electoral teams in the south and the Bekaa, to all brothers and sisters and friends in the electoral teams of the opposition forces, to our supporters and the supporters of the opposition at large, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart and I give you the deepest expression of gratitude I can muster, as I can not find adequate words to express my gratitude and this emotion.
On Monday night when I spoke about the election results and accepting them, some of the brothers said I should have said more to the people, when I said I could not find the expressions or words that sufficiently convey the depth of the gratitude and emotion that matches the magnitude of the sacrifices, presence and also the emotion expressed by this public.
Now to say that people feel upset for not having won the majority, I say yes, they have every right to, because this subject concerns them, their future, their fate, country and dignity, people like me cannot find the appropriate words to convey the gratitude and appreciation to the people who undertook such level of responsibility, sacrifices and presence in the field.
I say this in all honesty, no compliments are being made here at all.
While I was preparing for this speech and until now while I speak, I am still searching for anything...any word that can convey this gratitude... May be some of the language we used on 22nd September after the victory in the July war, after the legendary steadfastness-and today too we come out of legendry steadfastness, may be the few expressions said then can convey my inability to express the extent of my feelings of gratitude now, by calling you most honorable, dignified and blessed people.
I want to thank the expatriates who came at their own expense to participate in the referendum on the resistance option in the different regions. I would like to thank the men, women and the elderly who stood for long hours in queues and endured harm in order to give their vote and express their convictions and mood.
Special thanks to my dear brother and beloved brother His Eminence Sheikh Naim Qassem, General Coordinator of the parliamentary elections in Hizbullah, and to the brothers who helped him during this stage, to all the officials of the electoral cadres, to the brothers the MPs who won and who will form the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, which will be faithful to you and to the resistance, and God willing to express your will, choices and convictions.
I renew my thanks to the other brothers the MPs who were in the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc and now are no longer...I would like to assure you that everyone made tremendous efforts, worked night and day, but we are, as we say in our culture, we do what we must do and accept the results whatever they may be, we accept the results, learn from them, build on them and continue on the path.
... The path ahead is full of hopes, broad horizons and wide open prospects...
And Peace and God's mercy be upon all