Hizbullah Secretary-General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah: An exclusive interview with As-Safir- Part 1-2
Q: Where does "Israel" stand with what is taking place in Syria and the region?
A: From the very beginning and through our follow-up, I sensed a state of worry in "Israel." It is really strange that there is someone in this Arab world at this time who is still following, day and night, what is taking place with the "Israelis," what they are saying, what they are planning, and their conferences, studies, choices, and arguments.
Until before the start of the events in Syria, the "Israelis" were worried. We wouldn't be exaggerating if we said they were even terrified. They held conferences on the strategic environment, and they considered that there were very enormous strategic changes in the region.
This is not to the interest of "Israel." Thus, we dub it 100 percent to the interest of the resistance. Isn't this the case? This was what they considered. They also considered that there is an axis which had started to be formed in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. They saw that the toppling of Husni Mubarak would take Egypt to another place. Then was the turn of Libya which was followed by Tunisia. Apparently, they saw a scene in which the entire region was moving towards that axis.
Also Apparently also, they had the right to feel worried because there were great leaderships of parties, forces, and movements in the region who apparently seemed to take hold of the regime in many of these countries. Later, the speech of these leaderships changed from absolute enmity towards the USA to strategic ties and interests with the Americans.
Prima facie, the "Israelis" were very much worried. Even a dispute took place in the general staff, calling for the establishment of several military squads to guard the southern borders (the borders with Egypt). To that extent, the "Israelis" were worried. Things were moving in the direction of reconsidering the military structure until the events started in Syria.
When the events started in Syria, the "Israelis" changed 180 degrees. They cooled down and felt appeased. At an early stage, they said that this axis, which we feared was forming, no soon started disjointing and disintegrating. They used such terms abundantly. Indeed, according to my conviction and my follow-up to the speeches of senior "Israeli" politicians and military men, the "Israelis" prefer all choices in Syria to the choice of the remaining of the regime of President Bashar Assad, for sure.
These are not predictions. In their arguments and statements and even in their hidden arguments, they prefer all other choices. They benefit from partitioning Syria, demolishing Syria, and the continuity of war in Syria for 20 or 30 years. They even reached a point in which they compared the remaining of President Bashar Assad and this regime on one hand, and the groups which they call "Supreme Jihad" groups in their terminology. They said that they prefer the "Supreme Jihad" groups to the regime of President Bashar Assad. There is logic in that. What is this logic?
I am not answering on their behalf. They said that President Bashar Assad and the regime in Syria are part of this axis: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine - meaning the resistance movements. Should the "Supreme Jihad" groups rule Syria, internal war would carry on among them in Syria. This is first.
Second: They do not have the ability to build a state, and we have seen their experience in Afghanistan and other countries. Thus, they are not able to form an existential threat to "Israel," whereas, this axis forms an existential threat to "Israel" and not only a strategic threat. They consider Syria to be part of this axis.
Third: The "Supreme Jihad" groups have a priority and that is, fighting this axis and not fighting "Israel." That means that the "Supreme Jihad" groups would fight Hizbullah, the Iraqis, the Iranians, and even the Sunnite resistance groups which do not pledge allegiance to them. This is clear to the "Israelis," and that is why they profess it.
As such, the enemy felt relaxed and suggested that this axis started cracking. Syria started to weaken. To them, that was a dream. We know that studies were carried out by the "Israelis" following the July War: the formation of Winograd and the arguments that took place to find a way out. Since then and before anything called the "Arab Spring," the popular revolutions, and the Islamic awakening, the "Israelis" said that they cannot get engaged in another war with Hizbullah for several reasons. They can't even get engaged in a war with Iran. The only way out for the "Israelis" was to hit the middle link in this axis - meaning Syria. They talked about this point early enough. However, it was not clear to them how that would happen. Indeed, they were talking about an "Israeli" war against Syria. When the events started in Syria, it achieved one of the most important "Israeli" choices. Thus, they felt relaxed.
Q: This is what took place three years ago.... What about now?
A: Now, when the "Israelis" evaluate their strategic environment, the scene is different from what it was like three or two years ago. Today, the "Israelis" believe that they do not have any problem with the Egyptian front. Concerning Syria, they are seeing Syria bleeding before their eyes. The resistance axis is facing a great problem.
The Palestinians are facing a very tough situation due to the internal struggles and the preoccupation of the nation. True- the nation has always been preoccupied; however, Palestine was always there in their speeches. So, the Palestinians now have a problem. Gaza is suffering from extra problems which did not exist in the past. Let's say that the frigidity that arose between Hamas and this axis (Iran and Hizbullah), and the boycott with Syria had their influence, too.
All in all, when the "Israelis" view the region - the "strategic environment," as they call it - they find out that the rate of major risks and threats which they imagined or expected three years ago decreased. The situation now is not as such. In the entire region, their true crisis is with Iran. Iran is a very worrying element. They are worried from any agreement, approach, or settlement between Iran and the West.
Yes, they are worried. The Americans always need to assure them and feed them back with all the details so they won't be taken by surprise. They are worried about Iran. Thus, we notice that when the world discusses the nuclear program, the "Israelis" demand that Iran's nuclear rocket power be added to the discussion. This is an "Israeli" demand before being an American demand. So, Iran posed and is still posing a problem to the "Israelis."
First, concerning the resistance in Lebanon, the "Israelis" express their fears from various perspectives. They suppose that the development of the situation in Syria might encourage President Assad to hand a definite kind of weapons to Hizbullah, which he had not furnished the party with in the past. This is what the enemy is evoking. They fear a weapon that might break the balance, saying that this is a red line which they will not tolerate.
This causes worry and tension. These are the pretexts they are using now and which they used when staging their raid on Janta as they claimed that a truck was conveying qualitative arms. That is not true.
Second: True- the "Israelis" might view Hizbullah's presence in Syria as an element of exhaustion. However, the "Israelis" view the issue from another perspective, too, which is more dangerous to them. It has to do with the accumulation of experience of Hizbullah. For example, Al Qasir battle took place, and it was tackled in the media and by politicians in the Arab world. Those who are with you hailed your work; those who are against you gloated at your grief. That's the whole story concerning the Arab world. However, the "Israelis" had another view of the scene.
Q: Can we go more into details in the "Israeli" approach?
A: The "Israelis" approached what took place in Al Qasir from A to Z. They tackled all the details and even the minute details, the roles, the magnitudes, the procedures.... They pondered over that and carried out studies about the battle. No doubt that our involvement in places which we were obliged to enter - whether in Al Qasir or Qalamoun or Damascus - apart from Hizbullah's participation next to the Syrian troops, had led to new experiences.
Here I am talking from a totally military perspective. We get engaged in battles which are totally different from the resistance experience in Lebanon. Thus, after Al Qasir and Qalamoun, the "Israelis'" eyes are indeed set on Al Jalil (Galilee).
Now, the "Israelis" are observing the experience Hizbullah is accumulating in Syria. Will this experience enable Hizbullah to go in new courses should a new war takes place with Lebanon one day in the future? This is seriously being discussed. This for sure has its influence, too. Now, their utmost sources of worry are Iran, Hizbullah, and indeed Gaza, which is still posing a great concern to the "Israelis" though its conditions are more difficult.
Indeed, the "Israelis" now worry should this axis gain victory in Lebanon. They are expressing this explicitly because they suppose that this axis will gain victory. They are even saying more.
They say that should Syria overcome this war, that would be a victory to the entire axis. Consequently, they are worried should President Assad gain victory. This explains the ties between the armed forces in Quneitra Province and the "Israelis." At the borders, the story had transcended the injured and the hospitals. These groups have a very great margin. They even enjoy total freedom of movement.
There are no "Israeli" reservations on the movement of the armed men and their armament as well as their existence and training and on the points they control. At times, "Israeli" shelling might aim at serving and covering the field movement of the armed men. Things have reached this far on the ground. We must give some of our concern to this triplex. As a resistance in Lebanon, we are observing very strong ties between the armed forces in that region and the "Israelis."
Q: Are there red lines or limits to the existence of Hizbullah in the Syrian geography?
A: We exist where we should exist.
Arab Revolution and Foreign Meddling
A: I believe that in the Arab and Islamic world and even in the West, there is not one reading to what took place. Rather, there are several readings. Even when you approach the given, you find contradictions at times. However, we, as Hizbullah, have discussed this over and over again. Through our given and relations, we are inclined to say this idea: What took place had true popular roots which surprised everybody. There were "weevily", corrupt, weak, and feeble regimes on the moral and psychological levels.
It was time that they collapsed according to the rules of history and human societies. It was time that such entities and structures be reaped. What took place is that there was a kind of accumulation in the popular level, some of which is related to the internal situation such as corruption, tyranny, dictatorship, prisons, freedoms, hunger, poverty, and deprivation. The other part has to do with the fight with "Israel." For example, some friends came from Tunisia and told me the impact that the July 2006 War had on the Tunisian youth and on the intifada that took place in Tunisia. Aren't the Arab peoples angry because of the Arab regimes' stances on the Palestinian issue? Yes, there is mounting anger.
Arab peoples feel humiliation, defeat, and feebleness; these were the expressions which were used in light of the July War. The story transcended Lebanon - this small country - or the resistance in Lebanon. It became the story of the ability to act and make achievements. This also has a great impact on what took place. Later, they sought to conceal this.
In fact, this is what we understood when the events started in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. Things started on the popular level and surprised the regimes, as well as the Americans, the French, the West, the international community and the regional states as well. Everyone was taken by surprise with what took place.
They did not see that these movements would develop and grow to the extent of toppling a regime here or there. Well, later the regimes were perplexed. They did not know how to act due to their feebleness, weakness, and the lack of popular support. Let's take Husni Mubarak as an example. He could not find ten thousand people to demonstrate in support of him. Thus, he rented the ‘The battle of the Camel' [a battle that took place at Basra, Iraq on 7 November 656]. We record here that Saudi Arabia was the first to stand against all of such movements from the very first day. Glory to God! It was against the movements in Tunisia, Egypt, and Bahrain; however, it was with the movement in Syria! For example, it said no word on Libya because of its enmity to Muammar Gaddafi.
Regional regimes were shaken; they did not know what to do. The Americans were perplexed at the beginning. They had more than one viewpoint; we can suppose that the State Department had a view point; the CIA had a view point; the Pentagon had a view point. The Americans were perplexed on the way of dealing with the new developments.
Here, we can put an end to the second theory with which we do not agree with, though it has many supporters. This theory says that all of that was a US-"Israeli" plot. This is not true. The evidence is that if you go back to the roots of the popular intifadas [uprisings] in more than one Arab country, you will find some Arab youths who were later joined with parties, groups, and movements.
Being a colonial state and a great power, the USA had their choices after all; no matter how perplexed it is, it can overcome its worry. It is a pragmatic state. It has no ideology or main principles. It is pragmatic. It cares for its interests. What do their interests in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Iraq, Iran, and Syria demand? They would act according to their interests. When the Americans wanted to act according to their interests, there emerged the following theory: Which trends, groups, movements, or parties are fit to rule these governments and run these countries following the collapse of the previous regimes, whether they accept these Islamic movements or not? Indeed, I have my reservations on the term, "Political Islam."
Q: Why do you show reserve?
A: I say ‘Islamic movements'; there is nothing called ‘political Islam' and ‘nonpolitical Islam'. This categorization is not precise and debatable. We can talk about Islamic movements, Islamic parties, and Islamic groups, but we cannot talk about ‘political Islam'. Anyway, there was a supposition which is not very far from logic- there is a true view about the Arab world. The Islamic current and the parties of the Islamic current are the most spread and organized parties; at first glance, these parties were the most able to form the alternative. The Americans have no problem in that.
I believe that the Americans have no problem in any place in the Islamic world where an Islamic movement rules. "Israel," too, has no problem in that. They have no problem if you are an Islamist who wears a beard, if your wife wears a veil, if you pray the five prayers, and if you perform Hajj and Umra [pilgrimage to Mecca] and do whatever you like. Eat whatever you like, and dress the way you like. Just tell me your stance on "Israel"? What is your stance on oil? How do you deal with wealth, and what is your stance on America and its project in the region? Are you with the American project? Then you are welcomed! If you are against the US project, then war must be proclaimed against you.
In depth, they have no problem. Originally, this is the English mentality. The English are the owners of this theory. Thus, they opened the gate wide open before some Islamic movements or some Islamic groups in more than one place. The conditions in every country differ from those in other countries. No doubt, every country has great difficulties. The heritage is enormous, and the expectations of the people and the rebels are enormous, too. After all, none of these countries could find the alternative that is able to achieve the least expectations of the rebels and the revolutionists.
So far, everything is clear. However, to continue you need information. For example, is self-inefficacy what led to these collapses and partitions, and consequently, put these Arab states now before further divisions which will soon turn to a fait accompli? Can't this be transcended? Is self-inefficacy what led to that, or are there, in some place in the world, great powers along with regional states which are plotting to push these countries to partition? Was self-inefficacy invested, and was no serious aid offered? Were there provocations and ordeals, and were all means exploited so that none of these countries reunite and that these countries go towards partition? This is possible. But, there is no whatsoever information.
Q: What about the "Israelis"?
A: As for the "Israelis," their interests are clear. Their interest is in more disintegration, further partition, and more fighting indeed. No matter on what basis that takes place: sectarian, factional, intellectual, familial, tribal, racial.... What is important is that we kill each other or we fight each other all across the Arab and Islamic world. This is a sure interest to "Israel."
However, is it "Israel," through its apparatuses and its Mosad, who is doing this in the Arab and Islamic world? I do not believe that "Israel" has all of this power. At times, "Israel's" security ability is somehow exaggerated when they say that it is able to tear apart and disintegrate the Arab and Islamic world! However, as far as its interest is concerned, "Israel" for sure has an interest in that.
I also said previously that this needs given and information. As for the Americans, the Americans, too, have interest in that. They have an interest in the region for disintegrating and blazing for a year, or two, or three, or four or five. After all, it will settle in partitioning the parts - meaning more weak, feeble petty states. This serves the US hegemony over the region, besides confiscating all the countries' capacities and abilities while safeguarding the US advanced military base in the region - meaning "Israel." This is the US interest.
We favor the idea that says that the movements started popularly; however the revolutions had true inefficacy. If they want to do self-criticism, they must accept this. They lack leadership, making plots, having an agenda, and a strategic mind. So, they have a number of problems. There are enormous points of weaknesses, whether on the structural level, or on other levels. Then came he whom they supposed would help, but it was revealed that his interest is in disintegrating and partitioning.
Thus, we went towards disintegration and separation. I know that there are regional and Arab states in the region who are participating at least in discussing this partitioning of the major Arab states. I listened to this debate. Even three years ago and before everything about the "Arab Spring," there was a serious debate among the Americans primarily. The French and the British were close to this debate. However, now the decision is American. This is my information. My information has a Gulf source! The debate reached the future of Saudi Arabia. I was informed about a debate on the need to divide Saudi Arabia to several states.
Sayyed Nasrallah to the "Israelis": Shebaa Operation Made By Hizbullah
Q: How do you view the "Israeli" raid on one of the party's target near the Lebanese-Syrian borders?
A: We view the recent "Israeli" raid in the sense that the "Israelis" are trying to benefit from the present condition to change the rules of the game- or, more precisely- to change the rules of engagement.
In the past few years, the "Israelis" tried to reach a stage in the South in which they would be able to enter several meters inside the Lebanese territories. That was addressed through the UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army. It is not expected from the resistance to be present along all the borders to prevent the entrance of "Israeli" soldiers several meters inside the Lebanese territories.
However, it was revealed lately that the "Israelis" are trying to enter deep inside the Lebanese territories. They have entered several times to achieve several aims, including field reconnaissance because air reconnaissance does not solve the problems as there are angles which air reconnaissance does not cover. There are details that can't be covered by air reconnaissance. Thus, field reconnaissance is indispensable. They might enter also to implant spying devices like the devices which were discovered on the wired communication network in the South. So, they enter to serve several aims.
At that time, we took a decision, and consequently, we implanted two huge bombs in Labbouneh - a region which is in the deep Lebanese territories. So, it is not 10 or 20 meters away from the borders. When the detonation took place at that time, one of the aims of the operation was to convey a message to the enemy to the effect that we will not tolerate a change in the rules of engagement, and that any place you enter and we come to know, we will confront you. We have the decision, the determination, and the courage to confront.
With time, the "Israelis" might have had an ambiguity to the effect that the resistance is now feeling uneasy, weak, perplexed, afraid, and worried, as the other party in Lebanon is trying to generalize through its media outlets.
The importance of Labbouneh bomb at that time is in the message that the resistance eyes are still wide open and is ready for confrontation despite its fighting in Syria.
It was supposed that "Israeli" soldiers be killed in the Labbouneh bomb and that is very natural. However, no one was killed; they were only wounded. We are not responsible if there were killed or injured soldiers. We were executing a normal military operation.
Following Labbouneh operation, it was clear that the "Israelis" started reorganizing their affairs on the basis that things are not easy. I have tackled this issue in Aita Shaab ceremony openly. I also said that tourism at the borders is over now. I was precautious in what I said: Wherever we know the "Israelis" will advance and violate the borders, we will confront them. This is so that no one would say that the "Israelis" advanced here or there and we did not retaliate. Thus, I said: Wherever we know.
This cause is being addressed. So far, it is not apparent that there are any violations other than what is taking place at the borders between the technical line and the Blue Line. The soldiers would enter 10 meters or 4 meters. Days ago and more precisely when the banners were removed in Khalet Wardeh, the breach was 14-meters-deep.
Q: The "Israelis" are repeatedly justifying the raids on Syria and lately in Janta using the pretext of Hizbullah's qualitative war?
For years, the enemy has been reiterating this. However, the tone increased in the past few months. Indeed, we are not concerned with saying whether we received arms or not because we are not engaged in a media war with the enemy, in the sense of saying that we have entered arms but you did not shell. We are not concerned with that.
When the "Israelis" staged a raid against Janta, they did not claim responsibility of the raid seriously. So far, they did not claim responsibility, too. "Israeli" media outlets have tackled this issue. "Israeli" analysts also mentioned it. However, so far, there isn't any official claim of responsibility. However, close officials who are employed to serve "Israeli" goals claimed that the aim was a truck that was conveying qualitative arms to Hizbullah. Well, this is not true.
We back the analysis that says that the raid has more than a serious raid and targets a definite target. In fact, it is an attempt to explore things and an attempt to change the equation and the rules of engagement.
That means that the "Israelis" would shell a military position for Hizbullah, and Hizbullah would remain silent and would not make any reaction because they are preoccupied in the Syrian front. Consequently, that will lay the foundations for future strikes. So, if Hizbullah remained silent on that, tomorrow the enemy would strike any truck or target or house or any place under the pretext of qualitative weapons as they are committed to striking qualitative arms.
Even the place the enemy chose is calculated:
Firstly, the enemy chose a military target amid hills where there are no civilians around.
Secondly, the region is equivocal: Is it Lebanese or Syrian land? In that region, there are Lebanese territories owned by Syrians; there are also Syrian territories owned by Lebanese.
When we issued the statement, we did so to assert that we refuse any change in the rules of engagement.
Today, I will exclusively reveal to As-Safir this piece of information: The resistance is behind the bomb of Shebaa Farms which so far Hizbullah did not claim responsibility for. Hizbullah is behind it. This is not the retaliation. It is part of the retaliation to the "Israeli" raid. We do not want to commit ourselves to the policy of reporting everything we do. This is a new policy.
Previously, in the South, this policy was part of our work. We claim responsibility for everything we do.
Today, we are not concerned in claiming responsibility or denying responsibility for anything. We might be concerned or not. However, as far as Shebaa Farms bomb is concerned, we claim responsibility for that, and we also say that this is part of the retaliation. Indeed, the "Israelis" understood one hundred percent that Hizbullah is behind the operation. What appeared at Twitter to the effect that the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" [ISIL] was behind the operation was not taken seriously by anyone. The "Israelis" understood very well that there are no changes in the rules of engagement, and that this resistance took the decision and has the will, determination, seriousness, and courage to retaliate. The message to the enemy is to the effect that if you hit a military target, the resistance will retaliate by targeting a military target.Following the operation in Shebaa Farms, the message was clear: We retaliate, and we do not tolerate any change in the rules of engagement to the interest of the enemy because the story here is not rules of engagement; it is rather deterrence.
Should the "Israelis" return to the policy of violation, and "Israeli" warplanes or artillery start shelling military targets and then that expands to targeting civil targets with and without pretext, that would mean that all what has been achieved so far during the past years - at least since the April Agreement in 1996 to 2006 to this day - would be lost.
Q: Was the message conveyed, in your viewpoint?
Q: Are you able to get engaged in a war with "Israel" while you are present in Syria?
Q: Would the "Israelis" go for a war against Lebanon at this stage, and would the front be limited?
The enemy's chief of staff says: "When the next war would start, the first rocket that Hizbullah would shell would enter my window." In that, he means that the resistance in Lebanon owns very precise rockets which reach Tel Aviv and enter the window of the chief of staff.
In the previous war, the battle reached northern Palestine, mid-Palestine, and Affoulah. Now, we are talking about Tel Aviv. They know that. They can't tolerate a long battle in which the entity in depth would be targeted by rockets in an exact, precise way.Do the "Israelis" guarantee a quick decisive victory should they go to a war with Lebanon?
So far, no one in "Israel" says that. They were taught not to have great expectations and "raise the roof" for fear that they might not be able to achieve any of them.
Taking the political given into consideration, we see that nothing changed between the situation now and the situation in the past.
On the regional and international level, I can say that our situation is better. Relatively speaking, the regional and international situation of the resistance in Lebanon is better than on the eve of 2006 war.Moreover, "Israel's" interest now is that the first preoccupation of the entire region remains in internal struggles. Today, "Israel" needs the Arab and Islamic peoples to forget all about it.
Waging any new "Israeli" war would put the struggle with the "Israeli" enemy on top of the priorities in the Arab mind, Arab conscience, and the Arab street, and the "Israelis" are not in need for that. Hereof, I say that according to the military and field givens on one hand, and the political given on the other, I rule out any "Israeli" war on Lebanon.Q: Where can we place the assassination operation which took place at the outskirts of Dahiyeh and which targeted Hajj Hassan Lakkis? Are you absolutely certain that "Israel" was behind it? A: That's how we understand that, and our primary given asserts that.
Q: It is frightening that "Israel" has become that much close!A: The problem is that "Israel" has always been that close.
To read Part 1-1 click here.
To read Part 2-1 click here.
To read Part 2-2 click here.
Source: As-Safir Newspaper, Translated by Al-Ahed News