What Happened Behind the Scenes of the Interview With Sayyed Nasrallah?
By Imad Marmal - Al-Joumhouriya Newspaper
The televised interview with Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah carried a lot of connotations due to the positions and sensitive information that it revealed. But not everything appeared on air. There are things that unfolded behind the scenes. The full picture would be incomplete without these details.
At around 7:00 pm Friday evening, the Al-Manar crew began its journey to the location where the interview with Sayyed [Hassan Nasrallah] was to be conducted. The security measures adopted for this particular interview were the same as those on other occasions. Black curtains covered the windows of the cars used, making it impossible to know the route the vehicles took and their final destination.
Remarkably, at each stop, the security detail of the party [Hezbollah] was very polite with us and apologized for any inconvenience those precautionary measures caused. Perhaps the enthusiasm of conducting the long-awaited interview with Sayyed at a time of great complexity and vital issues contributed to alleviating the stress caused by those necessary security measures. In addition, the security escorts were courteous, making it easier and adding a level of smoothness to the whole process. Not long after departure, we arrived at the location chosen for the interview. It was a large hall. A part of it was allocated for the studio where the episode would be broadcast. On the other side, there was a reception hall lined with sofas and a table in the middle that was filled with teacups, plates of sweets, dates, walnuts and raisins.
We were immediately received by Sayyed’s aides and warmly welcomed. Meanwhile, the crew was finalizing details concerning the studio, which was "engineered" in a way that suits the status of the interviewee and the memories of the July war. The walls were decorated with Quranic verses and pictures that captured the experiences of the war and its different stages.
At about 8:30, Nasrallah arrived with a smile that showed an early indication of his satisfaction. After an exchange of handshakes and hugs, Sayyed entered the studio, examining it and expressing his opinion regarding some of its features. Before zero hour, he sat on the seat allotted for him to test it. He noticed that it was not comfortable enough and suggested replacing it with a more suitable one.
Minutes before the interview was about to start, Sayyed addressed us.
"Tonight I will surprise the “Israelis” with a plan that will show them that they are exposed to the rockets of the resistance," he said.
At that moment, we were confident that the interview would be exceptional. The leader of the crew was quick to ask the cameraman to zoom into the map as Nasrallah began to explain its content.
We asked Nasrallah about his health. He assured us that he is fine. We told him that he appeared to be keen in trying to reduce his weight. He smiled and replied that there was a “breach” during the month of Ramadan when his weight increased a little more than the limit approved.
It's nine o’clock. The interview is now live on air. It starts with remembering the July anniversary and the equations it set. Nasrallah did not wait long to send messages to the “Israeli” entity. During the first break, one of Sayyed’s aides walked in and presented him with initial reactions to his positions, especially among the “Israelis”. He pointed out that “some circles within “Israel” called his speech the ‘map speech’.” Nasrallah seemed delighted, hinting that the first ‘salvo’ of his messages hit its target.
As the discussion resumed, Nasrallah returns to addressing the challenges facing the region and Lebanon, as he continues to draw the strategic equations.
During the second break, Sayyed catches his breath as he sips on a glass of carrot juice. As the interview resumes, he picks up where he left off. Three and a half hours later, the curtains falls on Nasrallah's longest interview. The people around him begin to give their impressions about the interview while signs of satisfaction and fulfillment appeared on his face despite the lengthy exchange. After chatting about the content of the episode and its potential effects, Sayyed allows the room to take personal photos with him. In the meantime, one of the attendees brought up the question of the official exams and their results. Nasrallah did not miss the opportunity to make a funny remark.
"If my son had achieved an excellent result, some would have linked it to Hezbollah’s strength and its weapons," he said. “I am satisfied with him just passing. This is better."
Sayyed bids us farewell and then departs smoothly. As for us, we return the same way we came using the same procedures and measures.