انهيار «لحد 2»

يوليو 7, 2018

روزانا رمّال

بين الحديث عن وساطة روسية وتدخل مباشر مع المسلحين أدى إلىنوب السوري هو إسقاط توجّه إسرائيلي بالسيطرة على الحدود واستبدالها بالجيش الحر الذي عرفت به الأزمة ببداياتها قبل ظهور جبهة النصرة وداعش والجيش الحر الذي شكّل الجزء الثاني الشبيه بـ «جيش لحد» في جنوب لبنان. وهو الجيش المنشق أصلاً عن الجيش السوري. وهو الذي كان من المفترض أن يقلب المشهد ويؤسس أرضية كتائب متعدّدة تجمع مجدداً تحت إطار جيش سورية الجديد بعد إسقاط النظام، كما كان مفترضاً. هذا الجيش الذي انشقّ جزء كبير منه عبر إغراءات مالية لأصحاب رتب رفيعة وانسحابات فردية عاد وتبعثر مع مشروعه الأساسي بعد أن كشف حلفاء الرئيس السوري عن نية الانضمام معه الى الحرب. فكان أن انضم حزب الله وإيران وروسيا وصارت آمال هذا الجيش أبعد.

احتلال الجنوب اللبناني قرابة عشرين عاماً يكاد يكون المثل الأوضح لجهة الاهتمام الإسرائيلي بالحدود في شتى حروبها. والإبقاء على احتلال الجنوب اللبناني باهظ الثمن وقع ضمن تجاذبات داخل الجبهة الإسرائيلية أخذت الكثير من صقورها نحو الانكفاء أو بالحد الأدنى الابتعاد عن فكرة الانسحاب قدر الممكن حتى أُجبر ايهود باراك وزير» الدفاع – الحرب» الإسرائيلي آنذاك للانسحاب تحت ضغط عمليات المقاومة المتتالية التي ضاق بها الجنود الإسرائليون ذرعاً حتى سموا جنوب لبنان «أرض الجحيم».

بالواقع، فإن هذا الجحيم قد بدأ فعلياً لحظة الانسحاب الإسرائيلي الذي كلّف توسيع نفوذ حزب الله من لبنان لسورية وصولاً الى العراق واليمن. الأمر الذي يعني الكثير والذي أكد أن مسألة الحدود هي الأقدر على تقويض الحركات المقاتلة وضبط أي نوع من أنواع المقاومات.

الحدود الشمالية مع سورية رئة «حزب الله». وهي مثال آخر على أهمية الاحتفاظ بمداخلها ومخارجها احتفاظاً بنقاط القوة خلال المعارك. وعرف ان اهتماماً بالغاً من القيادة السورية وحزب الله بنقطة المصنع اللبنانية التي كانت محطّ عناية كبرى لئلا تغلق أثناء الأزمة وكان ذلك.

من الجنوب السوري بداية القصة، ومنها النهاية. من درعا الشرارة ومنها وداع المؤامرة. هكذا يصف السوريون فرحتهم بعودة الجنوب السوري تدريجياً، لكن هذا الجنوب الذي يشكل قلقاً عند الإسرائيليين وحده سيكون محط أنظار الأيام المقبلة في ما يتعلق بوجود إيران فيه إلا أن المؤكد يبقى فرط عقد مشروع إنشاء جيش لحد ثانٍ بشكل نهائي في تلك المنطقة، تماماً كما سقط هذا المشروع بعد عشرين عاماً في جنوب لبنان.

8 أعوام تكفلت بردّ البقعة الجغرافية الواقعة عند حدود الدولة السورية مع الكيان المحتل لهضبة الجولان. ومن الجهة المقابلة تمكّن الجيش السوري من بسط سيطرته على معبر نصيب. وهو معبر تجاري حيوي لكل من الأردن وسورية ولبنان والعراق «جنوب درعا» الذي يضمّ أيضاً محافظتي القنيطرة والسويداء.

الاتفاق الأخير يقضي بتسليم الإرهابيين أسلحتهم مقابل فض النزاع والانسحاب، لكن الأهم في الجزء المتعلّق بمحافظة القنيطرة، حيث يسيطر الإرهابيون التكفيريون سيبقى الأبرز. وهو ما أكدته كاميرات الرصد وتحرّكات الأجهزة العسكرية الإسرائيلية في الساعات الماضية التي عكست قلقاً كبيراً وإرباكاً واضحاً من ردود فعل محدودة تعني الاستسلام لأمر واقع جديد من دون تطوير أو تصعيد المشهد حتى اللحظة، لأن شيئاً لن يكون مطمئناً لجهة فرض الجيش السوري سيطرته من جديد مقابل الوجود الإيراني حزب الله في تلك المنطقة.

الوجود الإيراني والقلق الإسرائيلي منه لا يزال الطرح الأوحد. وهو يخضع لتمسك سوري رسميّ على أساس أنه موجود بموافقة دمشق، خلافاً لقوى عسكرية أخرى ولدول أحضرت طواقمها العسكرية من دون تلك الموافقة.

انهيارات الجنوب السوري التدريجية تغلق صفحات ولادة جيش منشق كان من المقدَّر له الحياة بحراسة منافذ «إسرائيل» مشابهة لتلك التي عاشها جيش انطوان لحد في جنوب لبنان. وكان مقدراً أن تبقى هذه الصيغة سنوات طويلة كما بقي الجنوب اللبناني أسيراً للسلطات الأمنية الإسرائيلية، في ما يُسمّى تأمين المدى الحيوي لـ«إسرائيل» وبسط سيطرتها الأمنية على المنافذ والمعابر الاستراتيجية.

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EXCLUSIVE interview with Syria’s President Bashar Assad

 

President Assad’s Al-Alam TV Interview, June 13, 2018.

H.E. President Bashar Al-Assad gave the following interview to the Iranian Al-Alam TV:

Question 1: Mr. President, there are many issues which we will talk about, but in the light of the victories you have achieved, the main focus remains the south of Syria. What’s happening exactly, or what is the nature of what is happening in the south of Syria?

President Assad:  To put it simply, after the liberation of al-Ghouta, it was suggested that we should move south. We were faced with two options, as is the case in all other areas in Syria: reconciliation or liberation by force. At this point, the Russianssuggested the possibility of giving reconciliation an opportunity, similar to what happened in other areas, in order to restore the situation that prevailed before 2011. In other words, for the Syrian Army to be deployed in that area, which is an area of confrontation with the Zionist enemy. And of course the terrorists should leave the area. This proposition suits us. Up till now, there are no concrete results for a simple reason which is Israeli and American interference; for they put pressure on the terrorists in that area in order to prevent reaching any compromise or peaceful resolution. That is how the situation stands now.

Question 2: So, it hasn’t been decided whether to move towards a military operation or towards reconciliation?

President Assad:  No, contacts are still ongoing between the Russians, the Americans, and the Israelis, while nobody is communicating with the terrorists, because they are mere tools, and they implement what their masters decide ultimately. This is what happened, i.e. there was an opportunity to reach reconciliation, but the American and Israeli interference prevented that possibility.

Question 3: Of course, this is the reality there. But on the other hand, there are those who talk about many things taking place in the south. Mr. President, is there a certain deal, what is the price? Is there really a price for concluding this deal in the south? Let me talk frankly about the issue of getting the Iranians to leave the southern region in return for al-Tanf, for example. What did the Americans demand, or let’s say, what was the price the Americans asked to approve the reconciliation process in the south?

President Assad:  For the Americans, there is a general principle they follow in dealing with any problem in the world. The only price they ask for is absolute hegemony, regardless of the issue and the place. Of course, we shall never provide that price; otherwise we wouldn’t have fought this war for years. We have been fighting for the independence of Syrian decision-making, for the Syrian homeland, and for the unity of Syrian territory. As for Iran in particular, let me be very clear: the Syrian-Iranian relationship is a strategic one not subject to a deal in the south or in the north. This relationship, in terms of its implications and results on the ground, is linked to the present and future of the region. Consequently, it is not subject to the price tags of the international bazaar. Neither Syria nor Iran has floated this relationship on the international political bazaar for it to be subject to haggling. The proposition was made by the Israelis with the objective of provoking and embarrassing Iran. At the same time, this comes in line with the international propaganda campaign launched against Iran regarding the nuclear file. It is not a separate issue; for everything happening now is linked to Iran in order to create an international position against it. As for us in Syria, the decision concerning our land is an exclusively Syrian decision. We are fighting the same battle, and when we have a decision concerning Iran, we will talk about it with the Iranians and not with any other party.

Question 4: Of course, we will talk more about Iran and in more detail, but since we are talking about the southern front, let’s explore it further. Practically, in the same context, there is the MOC which hasn’t stopped its operations since the beginning of the war on Syria about eight years ago. It is working and is still active, and is directly linked to the Israelis. But we have noticed recently that it has been reactivated, and there are more communications. Mr. President, does this mean that the Syrian state is practically moving towards a military decisive action in the south regardless of the consequences, whether things reach a stalemate or not? Is a decisive action in the cards for the Syrian leadership?

President Assad:   No, MOC has nothing to do with this decision. MOC has been linked to the presence and the role of the terrorists since the beginning of the war on Syria. That’s why it existed: in order to lead them militarily. Consequently, the continued existence of this operations room means the continuation of the role given to these terrorists, i.e. they are equipped and prepared to carry out more terrorist acts. MOC is linked to the terrorists and not to the role of the Syrian state. Our role has nothing to do with it. Our decision has been clear from the beginning: we will liberate all Syrian lands. As to when to move south, north, east, or west, this is a purely military issue. But regardless of MOC, we have moved towards the south and we are giving the political process a chance. If that doesn’t succeed, we have no other option but to liberate it by force.

Question 5: But there is a confrontation in the south, and the issue is not limited geographically to Syria in the larger political sense. There are the Americans, the Russians, the Iranians, the Israelis, and Hezbollah. All these parties are there in the area. What does that mean? How are you going to deal with this?

President Assad:  You are talking about two axes: one supporting terrorism, and represented by the US, Israel, and some flunkies in the region including some Arab and non-Arab states, and an anti-terrorist axis. The first axis supports terrorism and seeks hegemony, while the second axis seeks independence. So, there can be only one result for this confrontation, i.e. the victory of one of these axes. At least, as far as the anti-terrorist axis is concerned, it will not give up the process of cleaning Syria and the region of terrorism and will not give up on the unity of Syrian territory.

As to the other axis, will it change as a result of the reality on the ground? Let’s wait and see. But in terms of substance and convictions, it will not change, while in terms of the political practices dictated by reality and the facts on the ground, it might.

Question 6: Will the Americans leave al-Tanf?

President Assad:  The Americans say they are ready, but everyone knows that the Americans are historically professional liars in politics. So why should we believe them? Also, we have to wait and see.

Question 7: Mr. President, what’s happening now in Jordan? Is it linked to what’s happening on the southern front in particular, i.e. is it linked to what is being plotted in that region, in your view?

President Assad:  In fact, the only information we have is what we hear in the media. In any case, we wish Jordan stability, not chaos, because the latter will have a negative impact on us.

Question 8: Since we are talking about the south, let’s close this file. Mr. President, what would make the Israeli occupation agree to the return of the Syrian Army to the borders, i.e. a return to the situation which existed at the beginning of 2011, after seven years of repeated Zionist attempts, directly and indirectly, to undermine the Syrian state, the regime in Syria, and stability in Syria. Why would it agree now to the return of the Syrian Army to the borders and to the occupied Golan?

President Assad:  Certainly, neither conviction, morality, nor international law means anything to the Israelis. Since the beginning of the war, particularly when it started to have a clear military nature on the southern front in particular, the Israelis used to shell Syrian forces continuously, and consequently provide direct support to the terrorists. Israeli artillery and aircraft are the terrorists’ artillery and aircraft. That applies to Jabhat al-Nusra of course. Nothing is going to change this Israeli approach. As far as we are concerned, Israel’s approval had no role at all. Despite Israeli support to the terrorists, we have been doing our job, and the Syrian Army is fighting its way towards the southern front, and has liberated a number of areas within the limits of its capabilities. So, with or without its approval, the decision is a Syrian one, and this is a national duty we shall carry out.

Question 9: So, a return of the Syrian Army is better than having resistance in the Golan, for instance?

President Assad:  For the Israelis?

Journalist: Yes.

President Assad:   I think the two options are bad for the Israelis. Both of them are bad. Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has repeatedly talked about Syria’s relationship with the resistance and a Syrian role in the resistance. So, how would the Israelis choose between two bad things for them?

Question 10: As you said, Mr. President, Israel has financed, supported, and more dangerously was capable of enlisting a large number of Syrians, some of whom were treated inside occupied Palestine. They talked about it. In the future, how would you deal with this large number of Israeli agents? Maybe some of them were misled and Israel might have exploited the financial and living conditions of some; and some have chosen to side with the Israelis. How would you deal with them in the future?

President Assad:  This is true; we cannot put everyone in the same basket. There are different reasons for moving in this wrong direction; and these people have wronged the homeland and every Syrian citizen. Ultimately, they are the children of this homeland, and we all bear responsibility for this problem, not only those who have done wrong. When crime, for instance, becomes widespread in a certain country, the whole society bears responsibility for this crime, not only the security agencies or the criminals themselves. The first thing that should be done is to accommodate these people. Second, we need to address the root causes which led to this case of weak patriotism. The causes here are many and complicated, and the scope of this interview doesn’t allow for all of them to be mentioned.

Question 11: In the same context, while you are talking about restoring the Syrian air defense systems and confronting the Zionist occupation, statements have been made by leaders of the Israeli entity that they will strike at the depth of Syrian territory. How would you deal with that situation, particularly that balance has been achieved recently, i.e. balance between Israeli aggressions and Syrian responses?

President Assad:  Basically, we haven’t stopped responding. First of all, we haven’t stopped fighting terrorists, and at the same time we haven’t stopped responding to Israeli aggression within the capabilities available to us, militarily and technically. Moreover, the more these capabilities improve; the response will be better and higher. But in fact the strongest response to Israel now is to strike the Israeli army existing in Syria which consists practically of the terrorists.

Journalist: You consider them an Israeli army?

President Assad:  Of course, for they are acting clearly and starkly in Israel’s interest. The first acts they carried out were attacks against the air defense systems. What is the link between air defense systems and the terrorists acting as infantry on the ground? This was an Israeli order. It was an Israeli-American order because it is the same thing. So, they are Israel’s army inside Syria; and the first strike against Israel, politically, militarily, and in every other area, is to strike Israel’s terrorists inside Syria, whether they belong to ISIS, al-Nusra, or the other groups linked to the Israeli plan and strategy.

Journalist: If Israel escalates, are you prepared to respond more forcefully?

President Assad:   This is what’s happening. It is escalating, and we are responding. Ultimately, we are fighting the war within the capabilities available to us, and we are doing our best within these capabilities. A response does not need a political decision. I stress that responding or not responding is not a political decision. It is a national decision, and it was taken from day one. But implementing this decision depends on what we can do militarily and not politically.

Question 12: In terms of capabilities, there is one issue in the media which we are always following, i.e. the S300 Russian missiles. Russia says, “We will deliver these missiles”, and then says, “We will not deliver them”, which means that the issue is not clear. What is happening exactly? Why this Russian hesitation, in your view, in delivering the S300 missiles to Syria, while some other countries have been seeking S400, i.e. they are ahead of us in this regard.

President Assad:  You know that military action and military considerations are part of political considerations. Consequently, a statement, even if it is of a military nature, carries at the same time political messages. So, why did the Russians say that they want to send or not send? This is a statement that the Russians should be asked about because it might be part of their political tactics. As to the military aspect of the statement, which concerns Syria, it’s not our custom to talk about the weapon which will be delivered or not delivered. The evidence was that the weapons used in response to the last two aggressions, the tripartite aggression and after that the Israeli aggression, were not announced by Syria. We traditionally do not announce cases of a technical military nature.

Journalist: So, even the nature of the response is not linked to the issue of the S300 missiles?

President Assad:  No. The same applies. Even if the S300 missiles will be provided or not provided, we will not say that they were delivered to Syria. A weapon is used when it must be used.

Journalist: Is there a possibility that you have developed certain weapons?

President Assad:  This remains a possibility. In any case, the result is the same: weapons shouldn’t be talked about until they are used. Weapons announce themselves only when they are used.

Question 13: Mr. President, let’s return to the political aspect, since we are talking about the southern front. Regarding the general situation, in light of all that has been achieved on the Syrian arena today, the most prominent actor is the tripartite alliance, or what is being called the tripartite alliance. I mean Syria, Iran, and Russia. What is the nature of this alliance? Is it a temporary alliance, in the sense that it is linked to fighting terrorism or to certain developments on the Syrian arena? Recently, we have started to see – or let’s say some have focused on certain points in order to show – a certain fracture in this alliance. What is your take on that and what is the actual reality of this alliance?

President Assad:  If we talk first about the Syrian-Iranian part, for 40 years, and in the different conditions that the Middle East region has gone through, this alliance remained solid. So, there is no reason to say that it is temporary or otherwise. The new element in the war on Syria is the Russianelement, and that’s why this tripartite alliance came into existence. Our relationship with Russia is now about seven decades old. Despite the fluctuations and the fall of the Soviet Union, the rule of President Yeltsin, and the deterioration of these relations to a large degree for us, it has never reached the stage of reversing this relationship with Syria. Russia continued to deal with Syria as a friendly state, and we have imported everything from Russia, including weapons, during the different stages of the sanctions imposed on Syria. It is not in the nature of the Russians to build temporary or self-serving alliances or to sell out on relations in order to get deals done. The relationship is definitely a strategic one, but the political statements allowed for these speculations.

These statements also aim at sending messages in different directions. Maybe, sometimes the language or the choice of particular terminology might not be helpful and might take the statement in a different direction at odds with the content of the statement. This happens from time to time. However, these statements shouldn’t be taken out of context: the Russian view of the relationship with Iran is a strategic one. As for Syria, the Russians do not interfere in Syrian affairs. If they have a certain opinion, they raise it with us and say that in the end, the decision is that of the Syrian leadership and the Syrian people. This is a constant principle for Russia. Therefore, the alliance is a strategic one, and if there are differences, such differences happen within the Syrian state, and you see differences within the Iranian state and within the Russian state. It is natural for us to differ on daily tactical details, for why conduct a dialogue if we agree on everything? We meet extensively in order to reach agreement.

Journalist: So, this tripartite alliance is being consolidated.


President Assad:Of course. This is dictated by reality, interest, and international changes that make it necessary for this alliance to be consolidated. As long as the other axis supports terrorism, and as long as we, together with Iran and Russia, feel the danger of terrorism, not only in Syria, but also on all these countries and on the whole world, and as long as Syria, Iran, and Russia realize the importance of abiding by international law, these facts make the existence of this alliance necessary.

Question 14: But there are those who say that Syria will get a price if the Iranians leave Syrian territories. Is there a certain political, moral, or military price in this regard?

President Assad:  As I said in the beginning, as long as this relationship is not floated in the bazaar, they cannot offer a price, and the answer will be clear. That’s why they don’t dare suggest this price. This issue was raised by different countries, including Saudi Arabia for instance, at the beginning of the war, and not only at the beginning, but at different stages. The proposition was that if Syria cut its relationship with Iran, the situation in Syria will be normal. This principle is basically rejected by us.

Journalist: So, there were initiatives, so to speak, made in this regard by Saudi Arabia.

President Assad:  During the war?

Journalist: Yes.

President Assad:  Of course, more than once, and in a clear manner.

Journalist: Directly?

President Assad:  Directly. The relationship with Iran was the basis for every proposition; and Saudi Arabia’s position on this subject is public. I’m not revealing a secret.

Question 15: An issue is raised, whether in Syria, Iran, or Lebanon, about the nature of Iranian presence in Syria. Some call them Iranian advisors. Even the Syrian Foreign Minister used the same term. At the same time, we notice that there are Iranian martyrs. Frankly, Mr. President, what is the nature of Iranian presence in Syria now?

President Assad:  The term adviser is sometimes used in a broad manner, i.e. these advisers have been with us, through the longstanding relationship with Iran, even before the war, because the military relationship is close. When a military formation moves to a fighting position, the adviser becomes a fighter. So, the word can be used in different senses. There are certainly Iranian advisers in Syria, and there are groups of Iranian volunteers who came to Syria, and they are led by Iranian officers. Iran has fought with and defended the Syrian people. It offered blood. That’s why when we say “advisers” this is a generic term, but this doesn’t mean that we are ashamed of any Iranian presence, even if it is official. But we use the word “advisers” because there are no regular Iranian fighting units in Syria.

Journalist: Full formations.

President Assad:   Exactly. There are no battalions, or brigades, or divisions. First, we can’t hide them, and then why should we be ashamed of that? When we invited the Russians legally to come to Syria, we were not ashamed of that. And if there were an Iranian formation, we would announce it, because such relations need agreements between the two states endorsed by parliaments. Such relations cannot be concealed.

Journalist: And you invited Iranian advisers to come?

President Assad:  Of course, from the beginning we invited the Iranians, and then we invited the Russians. We needed the support of these countries, and they answered the call.

Journalist: Mr. President, you said more than once that there are no Iranian bases in Syria.

President Assad: That’s correct.

Journalist: Why there are no Iranian bases, while we notice that there are a number of Russian bases?

President Assad:   There’s nothing that prevents the existence of such bases as long as Iran is an ally as is Russia.

Journalist: This means that if Iran requested the existence of such bases, you would agree?

President Assad: If we ask. We will ask them to agree. I mean that we could ask for the existence of such forces to support us. Iran has never asked and does not have an interest except in fighting terrorism. But the evolution of the war made it necessary to develop the nature of this presence.

This happened as far as the Russians are concerned. In the beginning, Russian support, like Iranian support, was different from what it is today. The support for terrorism has developed internationally and globally when the Syrian Army confronted those terrorists, and with that Russian and Iranian military presence developed. At a certain stage, we found – with the Russians of course – that the existence of air bases was necessary to provide air support to the Syrian Army. And now, if we find, in cooperation, coordination, or dialogue with the Iranians, that there is a need for Iranian military bases, we will not hesitate. But now, Iranian support in its present form is good and effective.

Question 16: Why haven’t you visited Iran so far, although you visited Russia more than once?

President Assad: That’s correct. In fact, there was a scheduled visit to Iran a few months ago, and it was postponed and not cancelled. It was postponed because of an emergency in Syria related to the development of battles. There is certainly no reason which prevents such a visit, and I’ll visit Iran hopefully soon on the earliest opportunity. This is natural, but the issue is logistic, no more, no less.

Question 17: Mr. President, I move to another file. Last week, it was the Jerusalem International Day, and the Palestinian cause is going through its most difficult stages. We are talking about the “deal of the century”, and moving the American Embassy to occupied Jerusalem. What do you have to say about Palestine? Is Syria still capable of supporting the Palestine cause? Basically, wasn’t one of the most important objectives of the war on Syria to get Syria out of the axis of resistance and to prevent it from supporting resistance, whether in Lebanon or Palestine?

President Assad: The Palestine context, since 1948 up till now, has been a complicated one, because the regional context is complicated. Of course, it is complicated because the colonial West, which is particularly supportive of Israel, has always created elements which aim at one single thing. First, to drive to desperation the Arab citizen who is historically attached to the cause of Palestine and who has always considered it a pan-Arab cause that touched him even on the national level.

The other objective has been to distract the Arab peoples together with states or societies in general to marginal causes so that they do not have time to think about Israel. And they have succeeded to a great extent, most recently through the so-called Arab spring which has aimed at destroying the political, military, and psychological infrastructure of Arab societies.

Nevertheless, recent development have proven that the Arab people is still conscientiously attached to the cause of Palestine. As for Syria – since it has been part of these plots to undermine the Arab condition in general – first, for Syria to support the cause of Palestine, it should first of all destroy the Israeli army in Syria. Restoring stability in Syria, striking terrorism, and foiling the Israeli plot in Syria is certainly part of supporting the cause of Palestine. The support might be indirect with direct consequences, but these direct consequences are linked to the internal Palestinian condition. We shouldn’t forget that the Palestinians are divided between groups which resist Israel and are genuinely linked to the cause of Palestine, and other groups which are against the resistance and support surrenderist and defeatist peace, while there are other groups which use resistance as a title in order to achieve their political objectives under the slogan of religion. This is of course the Muslim Brotherhood’s approach.

Question 18: Are you prepared to offer whatever the resistance asks of you, whether in the form of political, military, or any other form of support?

President Assad:  Politically, we haven’t changed. The Palestinian question for us is still as it was ten years ago and decades ago. It hasn’t changed. As to what we can offer, this has to do with two things: first, Syria’s current capabilities; and there’s no doubt that the priority is given now to cleaning Syria of terrorism. Second, it has to do with the Palestinian condition and the parties with which we can deal within the Palestinian arena.

Question 19: Since we are talking about resistance, there is the other side. In addition to some countries which stood beside Syria in fighting terrorism, there was also a role played by the resistance in Lebanon, particularly Hezbollah, which provided a great deal and contributed to fighting terrorism. What do you say, Mr. President, to resistance fighters and families of martyrs and the wounded?

President Assad: When all these groups of resistance get together to defend Syrian soil and Syrian citizens, including the Lebanese resistance and the brothers who came from Iraq some of whom reproached me for not mentioning them by name, I take this opportunity to stress that there are brothers from Iraq to whom we give the same weight of any resistance fighter who came from any other country.

There are also the families of resistance fighters who came from Iran and sacrificed their blood in Syria. We should put all these in the same basket next to the Syrian martyrs, fighters, and their families. To those I say that all the letters, the words, the sentences, and the whole of literature are much less than a single drop of blood. Therefore, words are of a much lesser value than what they have offered. What’s more important is what history will write about them.

In fact, when we talk about writing history, we need to highlight that history needs a strategy and needs tactics, but the fact remains that strategy without implementation on the ground has no value. It remains mere thought which we might include in books and essays. But the reality is that these individuals in these countries, this group of resistance fighters, not politics, write history. I would like to use the answer to this question to express to them all my love, respect, and appreciation, and my reverence to the fighters, the wounded, and martyrs, and to all their families who are courage incarnated and who sent these individuals to Syria to defend it and fight terrorism, so that these families become models of morality and principles for present and future generations.

Question 20: Have you asked Hezbollah to leave Syria? A few days ago His Eminence Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah talked about this issue and said that nobody can get us out of Syria unless the Syrian leadership asked us to do so.

President Assad: The battle is long and ongoing. When we talk about this tripartite alliance – and if we consider it a quadruple alliance when we add Hezbollah, we talk about the tripartite alliance in terms of the states included, but in the end Hezbollah is a basic element in this war – the battle is long, and the need for these military forces will continue for a long time. When there is a need, and when Hezbollah, Iran, or others believe that terrorism has been eliminated, they will tell us that they want to go home. As Sayyed Hasan said, they have families and daily interests, which is normal, but it is still early to talk about this subject.

Question 21: Up till now, there are still areas under the control of terrorism and areas under occupation. At the same time, regretfully, some Arab countries, and here I am talking particularly about Saudi Arabia, announced that it is ready to send forcers to Syria. On the other hand, a few days ago popular tribal units were formed to resist occupation. Are these really popular resistance units? Do they receive support from the Syrian government? Does this mean that the army cannot liberate those areas, and that’s why it is asking for the help of the tribes? What is the nature of this issue?

President Assad: There are different forms of this resistance which appeared a few years ago. In the beginning they were fighting ISIS before they started to fight the occupiers. They were against ISIS in the central and eastern regions, and there were cases where they appeared in other regions which were not given media coverage and about which we hear sometimes through information and indications.

Now, this situation has started to expand. So, it’s not one single case. There are a number of cases which might be individual sometimes, or in the form of small groups not affiliated to an organization. In any case, our position as a state has been from the beginning to support any act of resistance, whether against terrorists or against occupying forces, regardless of their nationality, i.e. American, French, Turkish, or Israeli. We support these resistance forces based on our national role as a government.

Question 22: What about Saudi Arabia and sending Saudi forces to Syria?

President Assad:  First, when we talk about a state, we should assume that such a state can take decisions independently. That’s why we will not talk about the role of Saudi Arabia. You better ask me about the American decision on this issue.

Question 23: On the other hand, there are a number of Arab countries which we talk about and which had a role or contributed to the role or to the destruction of Syria. These countries are now trying to get to Syria through the reconstruction process. What do you say in this regard, particularly that these countries are the ones which have capital and huge financial power? How are you going to deal with that?

President Assad: Reconstruction in Syria is not a cause for concern for us. It needs two factors: first, the human factor which is more important than the financial factor. When a country like Syria possesses the human factor, the financial cost will be less when it comes to reconstruction. This is self-evident, and we possess all these factors despite the fact that many competent and qualified Syrians have immigrated because of the war.

But we still have the capability to start reconstruction. And the evidence is clear now, for the state is moving forward and reconstruction has begun. As to money, the Syrian people have financial capabilities, capital, most of which is not in Syria, but outside Syria. But there is capital waiting for reconstruction to begin, so it will begin investing. On the other hand, there are the friendly countries which have capabilities and have the desire; and we have the desire to have them participate in reconstruction, so that they benefit and we Syrians benefit from this process. In the end, we do not need those countries and we will never allow them to be part of reconstruction.

Journalist: Never?

President Assad: Absolutely.

Journalist: Not even if there was a need in this regard, I mean in terms of financial resources?

President Assad: Financial resources are not everything. As I said, this is available. There are different sources in the world and in Syria for capital.

Question 24: With these tough years, we are talking about the legendary steadfastness of the Syrian Army, the Syrian people, the Armed Forces. If you wanted to talk about two cases, the most difficult case or incident that you have encountered during these years, and on the other hand the best and most beautiful case.

President Assad: It is natural, at the heart of the military battle, for the best and worst cases to be linked to the development of the military battle. If I say that the worst cases were when terrorists used to control a certain area, this is self-evident, but it is related more to specific battles, particularly when the area is strategic or the city is big with a large population. Consequently, the impact will be much greater psychologically and in terms of morale.

But there was an ongoing situation which we are still living and we must think about: when a martyr or a group of martyrs fall, and this is ongoing on a weekly basis for us, we must think that a family lost a dear one who cannot be compensated. He might be compensated by achieving victory at a certain stage, but on the family, psychological and human level, you cannot compensate a dear one lost to a certain family, or maybe a friend. This is a very painful situation which we have lived and continue to live. This will not stop until the war itself stops. But there were painful cases at the beginning of the war, when you see this huge lack of patriotism. They were perhaps a minority, but a large minority, of individuals who were prepared to sell the homeland and trade it together with their principles, if they had ones, in return for money or a certain interest, in addition to a certain percentage of extremism.

On the other hand, there were victories, particularly when victories started in the city of al-Qsair in 2013, and culminated in the city of Aleppo in 2016, that was the beginning of the major victories. That was followed by Deir Ezzor, and today we are living the joy of liberating Damascus and its countryside. This is a situation we have all lived through, and you were with us, and I am sure you feel the same joy.

Question 25: Have you felt tired at a certain moment? Have you felt hesitant at a certain moment, in light of all the decisions you have taken, have you ever, even for a moment, thought of leaving? Haven’t you said to yourself: let me save my family and resign, as some people did at a certain point in time?

President Assad: This question might be raised in a personal manner. When I am faced with a personal situation as an individual, I might feel despair after a few months. I might feel tired or bored or I might want to move to a different situation, or give up. That is possible.

Journalist: As an individual?

President Assad:  Of course, as an individual, but the case you are proposing is not personal, it is national. Imagine yourself in a different condition, perhaps building something on your own. You feel tired, but when you see a large number of people helping you build it and share the same determination, you forget the tiredness.

Now we are in a national situation. We are talking about millions of Syrians. When you see a shell striking and victims falling anywhere in Syria, you feel frustrated. But when you see life being restored to the same area after one hour, your psychological condition changes. When you see that the electricity worker, the oil worker, the teacher, the employee, are moving side by side with fighters, moving without despair and without tiredness, how can you feel tired? This is a collective condition not related to me as a person. It has to do with our human condition when we are together as a society. How do we live? This defines whether you are tired or not. Would the Syrian society have arrived at this stage of despair and surrender, I would certainly have been with it. I would have surrendered because I do not have the necessary elements for steadfastness. This is self-evident.

Journalist: Thank you very much, Mr. President, for giving us this opportunity, and for your candidness in answering these questions. Thank you very much.

 

Dr. Mohamad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

Editor-in-Chief

alibrahim56@hotmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/Mohamad.Abdo.AlIbrahim

http://www.presidentassad.net/

 

  

   President Al-Assad Interview with the Iranian Khabar TV, October 4, 2015.

President Bashar Al-Assad’s Interview with Iranian TV, June 28, 2012

PRESIDENT ASSAD/ IRANIAN TV INTERVIEW (September 17, 2008)

Related video

President Assad’s Interview with Russia Today, May 30, 2018

 

President al-Assad: We will liberate every part of Syria…The Americans should leave; somehow they’re going to leave …Israel is losing the dear ones of al-Nusra and ISIS and that’s why it is panicking

May 31, 2018

Source

Damascus, SANA

President Bashar al-Assad has said that with every move forward for the Syrian Army, and for the political process, and for the whole situation, forward in the positive meaning, towards more stability, our enemies and our opponents, mainly the West led by the United States and their puppets in Europe and the region, with their mercenaries in Syria, they try to make it farther, either by supporting more terrorism, bringing more terrorists to Syria, or by hindering the political process.

In an interview given to RT, President al-Assad added that after the liberation of Aleppo and later Deir Ezzor, and before that Homs, and now Damascus, actually the United States is losing its cards where the main card was al-Nusra that was called “moderate.” But when the scandal started leaking, that al-Nusra is part of Al Qaida that was supposed to be fought by the United States, they looked for another card. This card is the SDF now.

President al-Assad said: We’re going to deal with SDF by two options: the first one, we started now opening doors for negotiations, this is the first option. If not, we’re going to resort to liberating by force, to liberating those areas by force. We don’t have any other options, with the Americans or without the Americans.

The Americans should leave; somehow they’re going to leave. They came to Iraq with no legal basis, and look what happened to them. They have to learn the lesson. Iraq is no exception, and Syria is no exception. People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore, President al-Assad added.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Mr. President, thank you very much for inviting us here, for giving us this opportunity, having spent years now traveling to and through Syria reporting from here, it is an honor to finally meet you. But, Mr. President, since time is short, first question: your latest victories in Ghouta, in Yarmouk, they have drastically changed the situation on the ground in Syria. How much near the end of this war are we now in your estimation?

President Assad: First of all, you’re most welcome in Syria. With every move forward in the battlefield, with every victory, with every liberated area, we are moving closer to the end of the conflict, and I always said without external interference it won’t take more than a year to settle the situation in Syria. But at the same time, with every move forward for the Syrian Army, and for the political process, and for the whole situation – forward in the positive meaning, towards more stability – our enemies and our opponents, mainly the West led by the United States and their puppets in Europe and in our region, with their mercenaries in Syria, they try to make it farther, either by supporting more terrorism, bringing more terrorists coming to Syria, or by hindering the political process. So, our challenge is how can we to close this gap between their plans and our plans, and I think we are succeeding in that regard, but at the same time, it’s difficult for anyone to tell you when. But it is getting closer, that’s self-evident.

Question 2: Your latest military victories, they have been – objectively speaking – spectacular; the speed at which rebel defenses that have withstood for years have collapsed. Are you planning on retaking all of Syria by force? We’re talking about Idleb, the borders with Israel, SDF-controlled territories.

President Assad: The war is the worst choice. I think every Syrian agrees upon this fact. But sometimes you only have this choice, especially when you talk about factions like Al Qaida, like ISIS, like al-Nusra, and the like-minded factions – actually most of them have the same ideology; Jaish al-Islam, Ahrar al-Cham, and so on – they’re not ready for any dialogue, they don’t have any political plan; they only have this dark ideological plan, which is to be like any Al Qaida-controlled area anywhere in this world. So, the only option to deal with those factions is force. At the same time, in other areas, we succeeded by implementing reconciliations, especially when the community in those different areas made pressure on those militants to leave those areas. So, I think the best choice is to make reconciliation. This is our plan. But when it doesn’t work, the only method to resort to is the force.

Question 3: With regards to reconciliation, how wise is it to send all of these veteran jihadists with their small arms to Idleb? By now, tens of thousands have gone to Idleb, they have consolidated, they have built defenses. Eventually, as you say, you’ll have to fight them. On the other hand, are you perhaps planning on building an area that is outside of government control?

President Assad: Actually, we always say we’re going to liberate every area, so it’s impossible for us to intentionally leave any area on the Syrian soil outside our control as government. This is natural. And as you know, Idleb was captured by the terrorists in 2015 with the Turkish support. It was mainly captured by al-Nusra and some other supportive factions. Actually, we started the reconciliations before that time, but every reconciliation that happened after that time, after 2015- it was, I think, May 2015- every faction wanted to leave the city or the village, they choose to go to Idleb. This is a very good indication that they have the same ideology, because they choose to go to al-Nusra area, they didn’t choose to go to any other area. So, we didn’t send people to Idleb; they wanted to go there, because they have the same incubator, they have the same atmosphere, way of thinking, and so on.
This is one part, the other part, which is the military aspect of your question; the plan of the terrorists and their masters was to distract the Syrian Army by scattering the different units all over the Syrian soil, which is not good for any army. Our plan was to put them in one area, two areas, three areas. Let’s say, if you have two or three or four frontiers, better than having tens, or maybe more than one hundred frontiers at the same time. So, militarily, it is better. They chose it, but it’s better for us from the military point of view.

Question 4: On the other hand, talking about similar mindsets, Idleb is predominantly… the rebels there overwhelmingly are Sunni. As a Sunni myself, I have a long distant relative who came to Syria to fight against you, to resist you, because he was told that you were targeting… you were killing Sunnis, and that is what many people in Idleb believe. Why is it that so many people in all these different countries, in America, in Russia, these Sunnis, these Muslims, they believe that you are oppressing them?

President Assad: Because the first narrative when it started, internationally – mainly in the West, of course – and within Syria and in some mainstream medias in our region and in the West, their plan was to create this rift within the society. That will make things easier for them; “when you have such a civil, kind of civil war between sects or ethnicities,” and it failed. Now, they keep using the same narrative, at least to encourage some fanatics in different places in the world to come and defend their “brothers” in this area, because that’s how they imagine; they imagine that there is conflict between sects. So, because of their narrow-minded way of thinking, maybe, or their ignorance, they came here just to support their “brothers”. Now, if I’m going to tell you this is right or wrong, your audience doesn’t’ know me, they don’t have any idea maybe about my credibility, but I’ll tell you, you know Syria very well, it’s better to go and see the reality on the ground. Now, if there’s such a narrative, let’s say, in reality, sect killing another sect, Syria should be divided now according to sectarian lines. You should come to this area under our control and see one color or a few colors of the Syrian society, you should go to the other area where you have the terrorists, you should have different colors, and the reality is not like this. Now, in Damascus, in Aleppo, in Homs, in every area under the Syrian government’s control, you’ll see every spectrum of the Syrian society, with no exceptions. So, this reality will debunk this narrative. I mean, how could they live with each other while the government is killing them according to sectarian basis? It doesn’t work.

Question 5: Fair enough, but with regards to negotiations and reconciliation, there have been efforts to start talks to achieve a result in Geneva, in Astana. There has been limited success, but it hasn’t been all that great. Now, let’s be honest, you’re winning, you’re winning on the ground, your forces are advancing, the rebels are in retreat. Why would you negotiate with them now, that they’re losing?

President Assad: Since the very beginning, we said whenever we can save Syrian blood, we have to go forward and deal with any initiative, any kind of initiative, even if they have bad will. Some initiatives have bad will, but in spite of that, we dealt with them. And the reality now, if you go around Syria, the reality, the results that’s been embodied by the reconciliations is proof of what I’m saying. Without this policy, without this intention of saving blood, negotiating, talking to people, we couldn’t have reached these reconciliations.
This is one thing. The other thing, not everyone who fought the government have the same basis; some of them have ideological background, some of them for financial background, some of them they made a mistake in the very beginning, they were forced to go in that direction, and they couldn’t withdraw, so you have to open the doors, and you have to distinguish between different kinds of people. And the most important than this, is the majority of the people who were against the government – apparently – in the different liberated areas, actually, in their hearts they are with the government, because they could tell the difference between having government and having chaos.

Question 6: Well, with regards to talks and, you know, retaking areas by force, let’s take for example SDF-controlled territories in Deir Ezzor. There have been clashes there between troops who are loyal to you and the SDF itself, the United States’ partners, and the United States brought to bear force, to stop troops loyal to you from taking territories. This has happened with al-Tanf as well. How are you going to deal with the United States’ presence, military presence, in Syria?

President Assad: After the liberation of Aleppo and later Deir Ezzor, and before that Homs, and now Damascus, actually the United States is losing its cards. The main card was al-Nusra that was called “moderate.” But when the scandal started leaking, that they are not moderate, they are Al Qaida that was supposed to be fought by the United States, they looked for another card. This card is the SDF now, because when as it seems, as you just mentioned, we are moving forward in the different areas to defeat the terrorists, the only problem left in Syria is the SDF. We’re going to deal with it by two options: the first one, we started now opening doors for negotiations, because the majority of them are Syrians, and supposedly they like their country, they don’t like to be puppets to any foreigners, that’s what we suppose, so we have the same basis. We all don’t trust the Americans for decades, not because of the war, because they always say a thing and do the opposite, they tell daily lies. So, we have one option is to live with each other as Syrians, like forever.
This is the first option. If not, we’re going to resort to liberating by force, to liberating those areas by force. We don’t have any other options, with the Americans or without the Americans. We don’t have any other option. So, this is our land, it’s our right, and it’s our duty to liberate it, and the Americans should leave, somehow they’re going to leave. They came to Iraq with no legal basis, and look what happened to them. They have to learn the lesson. Iraq is no exception, and Syria is no exception. People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore.

Question 7: But with regards to retaking territories, it seems inexplicably whenever you eliminate one threat, say, be in Ghouta, another threat seems to materialize, and this has happened repeatedly. Now, we have the Israeli energy minister who is threatening that his country could, quote, “liquidate you and your government.” Are you afraid, and how do you take that threat?

President Assad: Since we were born – I’m talking about my generation and most of the generations now in Syria – we lived under the threat of the Israeli aggression. This is something in our unconscious feeling, so to say that you’re afraid while living with the same threat for decades, this is nonsense. The Israelis have been assassinating, killing, occupying for decades now, for around seven decades, in this region, but usually they do all this without threatening. Now, why do they threat in this way? This is panic, this is a kind of hysterical feeling, because they are losing the “dear ones,” the dear ones al-Nusra and ISIS, that’s why Israel is panicking recently, and we understand their feeling.

Question 8: Well, Israel is now seemingly striking across Syria, airstrikes, at will. They’re boasting publicly on camera again and again that your defenses, they’re powerless to stop them, that they can do in Syria whatever they want. Is that true, is there anything you can do to stop Israel carrying out its airstrikes in Syria?

President Assad: Actually, the first target of the mercenaries in Syria was the air defense, before attacking any other military base, it was the air defense, and you would be surprised at that time; why do they attack the air defense? The air defense will not deal with the “peaceful demonstrators” as they say or the “moderate forces,” and it cannot deal with extremists anyway. It’s another thing, it’s built to defend the country. This is the other proof that Israel was in direct link with those terrorists in Syria. So, they attacked those bases, and they destroyed a big part of our air defenses. Now, in spite of that, our position, let’s say, our air defense is much stronger than before, thanks to the Russian support, and the recent attacks by the Israelis and by the Americans and British and French proved that we are in a better situation.
Now, my answer to your question, the only option is to improve our air defense, this is the only thing we can do, and we are doing that.

Question 9: Israel says that its strikes are, so far, that they aren’t targeted against you, the President or the government, that they’re targeted at Iran, and they’re to keep Iran – which is your ally – weak in Syria. It’s strange, but Iran being here, they are your allies, it’s no secret, they have helped, but them being here now puts you at threat. Would you ever consider asking Iran to leave?

President Assad: The most important fact regarding this issue, is that we don’t have Iranian troops. We never had, and you cannot hide it, and we’re not ashamed to say that we have, like we invited the Russians, we could have invited the Iranians. We have Iranian officers who work with the Syrian Army as help, but they don’t have troops. And the starkest fact about their lies about this issue, the Iranian issue, that the recent attack a few weeks ago, they said that they attacked Iranian bases and camps, as they said, allegedly, and actually we had tens of Syrian martyrs and wounded soldiers, not a single Iranian. So, how could they say that we have it? So, it’s a lie. We always say that we have Iranian officers, but they work with our army, we don’t have troops.

Question 10: Changing subject now, with regards to chemical attacks. There are now regular alleged chemical attacks happening in Syria. Your government and your allies have said that you had nothing to do with this. Your allies have backed your claims, denying any responsibility, saying they have no knowledge of you carrying out these attacks. The question is: in whose interest is it to gas opposition to you?

President Assad: That is the most part of the answer: in whose interest? That is the question. Is it in our interest? Why, and why no? Because the timing of this alleged strike was after the victory of the Syrian troops in Ghouta, let alone the fact that we don’t have chemical weapons anyway, and let the other fact is that we are not going to use it against our people, because the battle in Syria was about winning the hearts of the civilians, this is the main battle, and we won it. So, how can you use chemical weapons against civilians that you want them to be supportive to you?
This is first. Second, if you want to use it, let’s suppose that you have it and you want to use it, do you use it after you finished the battle, or before, or during? It’s not logical. Second, if you go to that area, it was a very cramped area by armies, by factions, and by civilians. Whenever you use such armaments or weapons in that area, you’re going to harm everyone, something that didn’t happen. And if you go to that area and you ask the civilians, there was no chemical attack by anyone. Even the Western journalists who went there after the Ghouta was liberated, they said “we asked the people and they said we didn’t see any chemical attack.” So, it was a narrative, it was just a pretext in order to attack Syria.

Question 11: Well, it may have been a pretext, but we don’t have proof that, you know, even we have rumors on Twitter, a few videos of… confusing videos showing allegedly the aftermath of an attack, is enough to justify for the United States, its allies, launching cruise missiles at Syria. What if, conveniently, there is another attack, alleged attack? Could there be a lot more missiles aimed at Syria?

President Assad: Of course, it could, because when the Unites States trampled over the international law, on daily basis sometimes in different areas for different reasons, any country in the world could have such an attack. What’s the legal base of this attack, what’s the legal base of their aircrafts, with their alliance, the so-called “anti-terrorist alliance” that supports the terrorists actually, what’s the legal base of that alliance? Nothing. What’s the legal base of the attack in Yemen, in Afghanistan, on the borders with Pakistan, etc.? There is no legal base. So, as long as you don’t have an international law that could be obeyed by the United States and its puppets in the West, there is no guarantee that it won’t happen. That happened a few weeks ago, and it happened last year, in April 2017, and that could happen anytime, exactly, I agree with you.

Question 12: But the response Trump promised was going to be extreme and severe, according to his words early on. The response that we saw, the strike that we saw after the latest alleged chemical attack was, it seems to be much more symbolic, much smaller in scope, and there was unexpectedly again a delay when Trump promised the attack and when it came. Why was there a delay? Did it have something perhaps to do with Russia?

President Assad: It has two aspects, as we saw it. The first one is they told a story, they told a lie, and the public opinion around the world and in the West didn’t buy their story, but they couldn’t withdraw. So, they had to do something, even on a smaller scale. The second issue is related to the Russian position, that time, as you know, that the Russians announced publically that they are going to destroy the bases that are going to be used to launch missiles, and our information – we don’t have evidence, we only have information, and those information are credible information – that they were thinking about a comprehensive attack all over Syria, and that’s why the threat pushed the West to make it on a much smaller scale.

Question 13: Well, with regards to the United States’ relation towards you, President Trump has called you, quote, “Animal Assad.” Do you have a nickname for the US president?

President Assad: This is not my language, so, I cannot use similar language. This is his language. It represents him, and I think there is a very known principle, that what you say is what you are. So, he wanted to represent what he is, and that’s normal. Anyway, it didn’t move anything, and this kind of language shouldn’t move anything for anyone. The only thing that moves you is what people that you trust, people who are level-headed, people who are thoughtful, people who are moral, ethical, that’s what should move anything inside you, whether positive or negative. Somebody like Trump will move nothing for me.

Question 14: With regards to the United States’ presidency, there is an interesting thing, you know, I came up with, thought up of a while ago; there are now in Syria forces from five nuclear powers, five nuclear powers directly engaged in military operations in Syria, be it boots on the grounds or airstrikes. Some of those countries are on different sides. How Syrian is this civil war still?

President Assad: The word “civil war” has been used widely since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, even by our friends, and by our allies by mistake, without understanding the content of this meaning. Syrian “civil war” means there are sectarian lines based on either ethnicities or sects or religions or maybe political opinion or political currents, let’s say, something we don’t have in Syria. In reality, in the area controlled by the government, which is now the majority of Syria, you have all these diversities. So, the word “civil war” is not correct. What we have actually from the very beginning are mercenaries, Syrians, and foreigners being paid by the West in order to topple the government. This is the reality, the mere reality, the very stark reality. Everything else is just masks to cover the real intentions. Talking about political differences, moderates, peaceful demonstration; we don’t have civil war in Syria. If we had civil war for seven years, we should have been divided by now. You cannot have one country, united country, united society, it’s not geographically because now of the Unites States’ puppets and the Turkish puppets. If there were a civil war, then you should have a divided society. Go by yourself, deal with different spectrums of the Syrian society, and you can answer that question in the same way I’m answering it.

Question 15: But with regards to potential escalation. Okay, there are proxy forces from all these five nuclear powers, as well as the other forces engaged in Syria, but you, as the President, again, you must have information. How close have we come during this civil war… during this war to an escalation between these nuclear powers?

President Assad: In reality, we were close to have direct conflict between the Russian forces and the American forces, and fortunately, it has been avoided, not by the wisdom of the American leadership, but by the wisdom of the Russian leadership, because it is not in the interest of anyone, anyone in this world, and first of all the Syrians, to have this conflict. We need the Russian support, but we need at the same time to avoid the American foolishness in order to be able to stabilize our country.

Question 16: And just briefly, one last question. The closer we get to the end, is the danger of an escalation, in your estimation, is it decreasing or is it, on the other hand, increasing?

President Assad: As I said at the very beginning, the more we get closer to the end, the more they want to make it farther. What does it mean? The more stability you have, the more escalation we will have. The more reconciliation you have in one area, the more killing and destruction and trying to capture more areas by the terrorists we’ll have. That’s why within the reconciliation, when we started reconciliations in many areas, the other factions in the same area tried to destroy it, because they have the orders from the outside not to go toward any reconciliation, of course, you have the orders with the pocket of money. So, what you say is correct, but the more escalation we have, the more determined we’ll be to solve the problem, because you don’t have any other choice; either you have a country or you don’t have a country.

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you very much for your insights, and thank you very much for welcoming us here and giving us so much of your time. We wish you all the best, the Syrian people all the best, and a swift conclusion to this awful conflict. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

President Assad: Thank you, thank you for coming to Syria again.

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Fatima Salameh

25-05-2018 | 08:49

It would not be a “Resistance and Liberation” holiday without hearing from him. He holds the title of the pro-resistance president and the “man” – described as such by the master of victory.

Emile Lahoud

His national and historic positions, which never abandoned the resistance, testify to that. The path of President Emile Lahoud, the nationalist, is full of honorable stances that carried Lebanon from the age of dependency to liberation. He defended the resistance before he knew them. It is enough that he is one of those who sought to liberate the land. The historic victory of 2000 was the pride of his reign and the result of his courageous positions that supported the path of Jihad at a time when the entire world stood against him. He was offered a lot in exchange for abandoning this path. He chose to work with conscience and in accordance with his convictions, which are not bought and sold.

In an interview with al-Ahed, President Lahoud recalls many stages, from his time as commander of the Lebanese army to the time he took over the presidency. His does not conceal his “joy” with the liberation of the land during his reign. He describes this event with pride. He tells how he learned about Hezbollah and its leader for the first time and how very proud he was of meeting him [the leader]. He often expresses his happiness that he is living in the time of the resistance fighters, who have returned Lebanon’s stolen dignity.

Emile Lahoud

Below is the script of the interview:

Eighteen years after liberation, what does President Emile Lahoud remember from that era?

It is the most beautiful day of my life. Before that date, there was no hope that we would be able to regain our dignity. Our land has been occupied for 22 years. All the officials who inherited the government were accustomed to this issue until it became obvious. Truthfully, I never heard of Hezbollah. When I took over as army commander, I was living in Rayak. The atmosphere was charged against Hezbollah. When I wanted to visit my family in the north, they used to send me telegrams asking me to be careful and watch out for Hezbollah members who intended to kill me. However, the teaching inside the house, which does not know a path of sectarianism, made me not interested in the matter, even though the picture in my mind drawn about Hezbollah is that it was a Takfiri group. When did I learn of Hezbollah? It was in 1991, when I took over the army command. A decision was issued by the Lebanese state to position the army in the South. I went to Tyre. One of the officers told me: “For 22 years, I was deployed here. I was a company commander and we received instructions that ‘if a militant is caught, we must hand him over to the intelligence services, who in turn will imprison him.’ You are a new army commander, what are your instructions for me in such a case?”

I asked him, what is their nationality, are they Palestinians? He said no, they are Lebanese who want to return to their villages, which are occupied by the “Israelis”, and they carry out operations against them. Sometimes we catch them before they arrive as they are on their way to the valleys. What do you want us to do in such a situation? I told him: “Lebanese who want to return to their villages that are occupied by the Zionists are resistance fighters. You have to support them.” He told me, “appreciated” and he rejoiced. It was the first time an officer thought in this way. ” To me, as Emile Lahoud, any nationalist army commander should not ask permission from anyone to issue such an order. Should I stand in the face of those who seek to liberate the land! On the contrary, I should be an absolute support for them.

Then I returned to Beirut and the President of the Republic, Elias Hrawi, told me:

“Emile are you crazy? You are supporting people who are causing trouble at the border. Tomorrow an “Israeli” soldier will be killed and [“Israel”] will attack all of Lebanon.” Do you want to ‘destroy’ Lebanon?

I told him:

“Have you ever heard of an army commander whose land is being occupied and he gives an order to his officers that whoever liberates the land should be imprisoned? We must support them. He told me: I give you an order to confront them. I told him: I will not obey.

In 1993, the resistance became stronger than before. The Zionists were annoyed and exerted pressure on the Americans, who in turn pressured the Lebanese state and the Security Council. The latter took a decision to get rid of Hezbollah. The Lebanese state at the time issued a decision. I remember an incident that took place at the time. Members of the army spoke to me. They told me that a Zionist tank bombed a Lebanese area and killed a woman. What do you want us to do? It was the first experience with “Israel”. I asked them: is there a Lebanese tank in range? They said yes. I said, what are you waiting for? Respond. At this point, the President of the Republic summoned me and told me: “Emile, what is happening? How could you do that and give an order to respond? I told him this is what I must do. He asked me more than once to eliminate Hezbollah with the support of the UNIFIL forces. I told him: You are not understanding me, I will not do it. He told me: ‘Tomorrow is the meeting of the Supreme Council of Defense and you have to attend.’ I said, ‘I will not attend.’ He replied, ‘then we will take the decision without you. Someone else will be the army commander.’ I told him: let him come. I am doing my duty and what my conscience tells me. The next day I came late to the meeting. I found them meeting with the UNIFIL commander. They designed a map for the elimination of Hezbollah. I told them: what are you doing? Fold this map. The commander of the UNIFIL forces replied: ‘they have taken the decision in the Security Council.’ I told him: let them take whatever they want. I will not comply. Let them bring another army commander to carry out what they want. What right does the Lebanese state have to order a national army to strike its people because the “Israelis” are annoyed?

Emile Lahoud

All this and you had no interaction with Hezbollah. When was your first direct contact with them?

After all these years, there was no contact between us. But there was absolute support on my part.

The first contact in which I got to know Hezbollah was in 1997 when I got a call saying that Hadi, the son of the Secretary General of the party, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, was martyred. I told them, this is the first time that an Arab leader presents his son as a martyr. I want to get to know him. Indeed, the measures were taken. I found him relaxed although the news of his son’s martyrdom was announced an hour before my visit. We spoke for about ten minutes as I consoled him. I felt that we would win and triumph with this leader. Days passed, and we did not meet. In 2000, at the time of the liberation, Sayyed Nasrallah asked me to meet him. So we met and he presented me with an “Israeli” rifle. After that, I never saw him until I left the presidency. At the time, we sat for about three hours and talked about everything. He told me, ‘I do not know you.’ I told him, ‘We met in good conscience.’

What does to Emile Lahoud that the land was liberated during his reign as you have always described this event with pride?

It means my dignity. I take pride in this event very much. I am glad that the dignity of the Lebanese had been restored during my days. Is it possible that the “Israelis” occupy our land for 22 years and no one is shaken. Only a handful of resistance fighters met and liberated the land and defended us. Without them, “Israel” would have been among us.

How did the liberation of the land contribute to your military experience?

We can achieve the impossible. Many asked me what I was doing. No one can resist “Israel”. I told them, you will see. The resistance is the immunity of Lebanon. I am surprised how some people speak after the conclusion of the elections on the need to disarm the resistance, after all that it has done! They certainly get money from their masters who incite them to do so.

How do you perceive the golden equation, which you supported early on?

Without the golden equation, Lebanon would no longer exist, especially after the events that took place in Syria and Iraq, which made Lebanon strong and able to stand up to “Israel”. Unfortunately, we did not learn that we must preserve it through national action and not through sectarianism.

Today, the Palestinians are doing all they can to liberate their land. What is your advice for them given the experiences with the liberation of Lebanese lands?
There is no talk with “Israel” except in the language of force. I do not want to criticize, but when I hear some Palestinian officials talking about the need for a settlement, this does not return the land. The solution is only by force, just as we did in Lebanon. Here, I recall an incident. At one of the closed summits of the Arab heads of state in Khartoum, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said ‘how can I possibly pay for the salaries for the ‘Strip’ when the Zionists are not allowing the funds to arrive. I ask you Arabs to mediate with the concerned parties to put pressure on “Israel” so that the money can reach us. I told him, ‘Abu Mazen, behave like we did in Lebanon. It is shameful to beg for our salaries. We have to attack them by force. If you acted like Lebanon, you will not be here right now.’

You have always said that the the crisis in Syria will conclude with a victory. How do you describe the situation seven years after the crisis started?

Syria triumphed. The losers including the Zionists and the Arabs are coveting a winning card. That is why they are pressing in the last quarter. But they will not triumph. The crisis will soon be over and with it the conspiring mentality in Lebanon will end.

A final word

How lucky we are that we have lived in the time of the resistance and the men who sacrificed themselves for the homeland.

Source: Al-Ahed

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In Solidarity with Palestine: Occupation Unacceptable, Palestine is destined to Liberation

 

14-03-2018 | 15:45

The Global Campaign to Return to Palestine held its fourth annual convention in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut, entitled the Fourth Global Convention for Solidarity with Palestine: Entire al-Quds the Capital of Entire Palestine.
 
Palestine

The gathering, which took place between March 11 and March 14, 2018, hosted a group of prominent activists from all over the world, most of whom were honored for their activism for the sake of the Palestinian cause.


Speakers voiced great support for Palestine and the Palestinian people, especially amid US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the “Israeli”-occupied holy city of al-Quds.


In this regard, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, an activist and spokesman for a minority branch of Neturei Karta, an anti-Zionist group stated that:

“Since the beginning of Zionism, Torah Jews living in the holy land have been viciously beaten, arrested and murdered for simply voicing their opposition to the Zionist “Israel”. They are likewise arrested and beaten for refusing to serve in the “Israeli” army.”

He further stressed that:
“Our hearts cry with all the victims, the Jews and Palestinians, all of us are suffering together under this satanic Zionist “Israel”.”
“Let the world know, this is not a conflict between religions, Zionist “Israel” is not a Jewish state! It is only Zionist and should never be referred to as a Jewish state,” Weiss added.
“The occupation of Palestine is simply an unacceptable occupation. We plead with the world bodies to rethink the justice in establishing a state against the will of its inhabitants, the original Muslims, the original Christians and the original Jewish community. We plead with the world leaders and those bodies to free Palestine and end its unjust occupation.”
He further expressed sympathy saying
“Our hearts are with al-Quds, our hearts are with Palestine.” 
On the sidelines of the convention, al-Ahed news website team interviewed prominent participating foreign figures among them the parents of martyred hero Rachel Corrie, the American activist who was massacred by an “Israeli” occupation forces armored bulldozer in a combat zone in Rafah, Palestine.
 
Corries

Mrs. Cindy and Mr. Craig Corrie stressed that:
“For all of us that care so much about these issues, care about the Palestinian people, and care about people everywhere, it is important to connect. It is so exciting to connect with people all around the world, who are finding ways to respond to the needs that are here. It is very heartening to come together and see and hear directly from the people who are most affected by this, to hear what most on their minds at this moment, that helps us go home and share with people there where we need to focus.”
They further considered that the Lebanese people are committed to helping the people of Palestine.
“We all need to go back to our different places and of course those of us from the United States have an incredible another work to do on this issue and so many others. And having met people in solidarity with the people of Palestine, I think it is much easier to do it, and Inshallah (God’s willing) we will make a change.”

“There are steps that would come out of here (the conference). They may take time to see what those accomplish, and we may not realize when we are doing those steps what we are accomplishing. One thing we’ve learned with the 15 years since we’ve been working on this issue is that you don’t know where the ripples will go.
 We certainly realize what our daughter Rachel has done and we hear that reflected back to us, and 15 years later from all over the world there’s pretty amazing this young woman could have some impact like that. So, we try, we do what we can, and Inshallah we will help.”

Commenting on Trump’s decision regarding al-Quds, the Corries considered that only a little has been said about the decision.
“We will hear more about that. We of course feel such great responsibility for that and discouragement about it, we object it strongly.”

One thing we want the Palestinian people to know is that there are many organizations that support them. One of the heartening things to us here is to see people from all over the world. We just want them to know that support is there. There is much work to be done, they added.

“If there is any sort of good side to this is that it is clear and manifests to the world that the US is not any sort of broker for any deal between “Israel” and Palestine. Palestinians have known that for the entire time,” Mrs. and Mr. Corrie stressed.

They further considered that the liberation of Palestine is inevitable. It has taken too long, and it may take a considerable time. It is clear that we have to work to our justice, and that will be to the benefit of all of us.
Gilad
Meanwhile, in another interview, Gilad Atzmon, a British musician and an author, originally from the “Israeli” entity after renouncing his citizenship, he stressed that although he is not a Trump supporter,
“I think that this is the best thing America has done for very many year, because it brought to light that America is not a negotiator, it is rather a side on the conflict. I’m not talking as a Trump supporter, but I think that everything Trump is doing somehow leads to very positive developments, it brings light to this conflict. We people have to take positions, and this is positive.”
 
Elsewhere, he said that
Palestine will be liberated, there is no question about that. Though there are few questions that remain open. “I don’t have any doubt that “Israel” can’t any longer sustain its existence. Some “Israelis” have been brave enough to stand up and to admit that “Israel” has never been founded.”
For his part, Jimbo Simmons, an Indian American member of the Choctaw Nation and of the Governing Council of the American Indian Movement expressed that the Indian people’s solidarity goes way back to the 1970s as the American Indian Movement when we received a solidarity message from the Palestinian people during our struggles.
 
Jimbo

“For me, I still long to learn more how we as native people and indigenous peoples in North America could support the Palestinians in their struggle more effectively. That’s why I’m here to learn more in this respect,” he said.

“I like for the Palestinians to know that Trump doesn’t represent Indian people and Indian nations, he only represents his own self-interest. So, what he’s doing will not end support and will never end support of America,” Simmons noted.

Sometime, all of us will be liberated in the future, but we have to struggle. Some of us won’t see the enemy’s up, but at the end it is a generation struggle, so it continues and continues’ and my children, as well as the Palestinians’ children will live to see that accomplishment in their lifetime, Simmons said when asked about any hope of Palestine being liberated.

For her part, Ms. Emily Hurndall, mother of Tom Hurndall, a British volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement, and an activist against the “Israeli” occupation of Palestine who was shot in the head in the Gaza Strip by a Zionist soldier, said:
 
Emily

“I’ve come to understand that so many people over the world are operating, agencies, campaigners and people from different sort of disciplines. Everybody is working separately and everybody is using their skills and knowledge to support the Palestinians in their human rights, but if we can find a way to disseminate, unite and work together even better in a concentrated way, because it takes so much effort and time to overcome Zionist lies and “Israelis'” lies… so much time is wasted. If we can find a way to cut through all that, and just work more effectively to use our time better….”

 

To the Palestinians, Mrs. Hurndall expressed anger on their behalf “because it could not be more designed to provoke, it cuts to the quick of everything that means to be Palestinian; that their identity is wrapped up with al-Quds, it is just the center of their identity, and therefore it is deep-rooted and it says everything about Trump.”
Trump has total ignorance and lack of awareness, and lack of empathy to everything that means to be Palestinian, she said.

“Given the steps the Palestinians have made, I know it is incredibly slow, but given the steps of these last years, and given social media, there is no going back now.
 This is not an issue that people want to let go. There is no question of people letting it go. And the messages are spreading internationally, we are getting much better spreading the message. And therefore, there is no way it is going to succeed without horrendous battle or real struggle. Freeing Palestine is going to happen, but the more people know about it we can’t let it go,” the lady concluded.
Amid hopes to see the occupied lands liberated from the Zionist settlers, there is no doubt that a very hard work needs to be done on different levels until this ultimate goal is achieved when the sun of freedom rises over every grain of the entire Palestinian soil.
Source: Al-Ahed
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أول استقلال مع «ميشال عون»

روزانا رمّال

نوفمبر 22, 2017

صودف أن عيد الاستقلال في لبنان يتزامن هذه السنة مع أكبر عملية ابتزاز يتعرّض لها، ومع أصعب اختبار دستوري وميثاقي لاستكمال ممارسة مهام المؤسسات العامة، فأحد لم يكن يتوقع بعد كل أيام السنة من الودّ والانسجام السياسي الحاصل جراء الصفقة الرئاسية الحكومية أن يكون حضور الحريري لملئ كرسيّه في جادة شفيق الوزان خلال عرض الاستقلال السنوي هو حدث ينتظره اللبنانيون والمراقبون الدوليون، لم يكن متوقعاً أن يصبح الواجب الوطني مفصلاً من عمر الدولة اللبنانية ولحظة يتنفس فيها الصعداء لبرهة ثم تنحبس الأنفاس حتى يقرّر الحريري اطلاع اللبنانيين على فحوى الابتزاز الذي اتفق عليه المعنيون عبر إرغامه على ما «لا طاقة له به».

إنه أول استقلال مع «ميشال عون» كما يناديه اللبنانيون. هذا الرجل الذي لا يعنيه لقب الرئاسة لأنه مناضل قديم… في أيام الاستقلال يظهر المناضل ميشال عون بشكل واضح او ربما أوضح. في ايام الاستقلال يقول عون للبنانيين والعالم لن أقبل بهذه المهزلة، وقفوا عند مسؤولياتكم، ومستعدّ للتضحية بالرئاسة. يعرف جيداً هذا المناضل أن تحدي المجتمع الدولي، وخصوصاً الدول العربية بقيادة المملكة العربية السعودية يعني «مقتلاً» في هذه الظروف التي تمر بها الرياض. وهي ظروف لا تقبل فيها المملكة المساومة وسط خيارات عمودية بين إقصاء أمراء كبار ورجال أعمال وقطع للعلاقات مع دول جارة مثل قطر، ونسف كل ما يتعارض مع سياستها بضوء أخضر أميركي. يعرف عون جيداً من دون أن يحتاج أحد ليذكره بما جرى سابقاً مع الرئيس اميل لحود عندما تمّ عزله بدعم أميركي مباشر وأول مَن عزلوه هم جزء من اللبنانيين الذين قرروا خوض غمار التجربة الى آخر الطريق فقاطعته الدول الكبرى والصغرى وصار قصر بعبدا خالياً من أي زائر يشير إلى أن الرئيس لا يزال موجوداً يمارس مهامه بشكل طبيعي ما خلا بعض الحلفاء.

القلق لا يزال حاضراً، وعون كما اللبنانيين يترقبون المزيد من الخيارات باتجاه التعاطي مع لبنان، وربما الرئاسة، هو الذي يدرك ان استهداف الحريري هو استهداف للصفقة التي أتت به الى قصر بعبدا. يعرف أن التضحية بهذه الصفقة وارد. وهو بذلك يضع نفسه أمام خيارات صعبة ويعلن استعداده لخوضها، لا يبالي الرئيس اللبناني بمقاطعة الرؤساء العرب والأجانب له. هذا ربما بديهي فقد فهم خصومه قبل حلفائه ذهنيته والخلفية التي ينطلق منها في مواقفه، لكن الأهم هو شيء آخر وفي مكان آخر. الأهم ان الرئاسة اللبنانية لأول مرة من خلال عون استطاعت قلب مزاج المجتمع الدولي والتأثير عليه بتحدّيه وتصلّب موافقه. وهنا لا تتم مناقشة صوابية مواقف عون من عدمها بل تتم الإضاءة على تعاطي الدول الكبرى مع الرئيس اللبناني خلال الأزمة فقد كانت هناك إمكانية غير مسبوقة من حشد اهتمام غربي كثيف، بالرغم من اعتبار خصوم عون انه حليف حزب الله وإيران بمفهوم «التبعية» ما يدحض هذا الكلام جملة وتفصيلاً. فقد بدا ان الأميركيين والفرنسيين وهم أكثر من يمكن ان يقدّموا مؤشراً بديهياً عن الموقف من عون لحظة فشل خطة الاستقالة المفترض أن تخض البلاد والمؤسسات، فقد بدا الرئيس ترامب والرئيس ماكرون بعد أن ضبط عون إيقاع الازمة مجبرين على السير وراء الموقف الرئاسي اللبناني الذي أحرجهم وصار أمام الفرنسيين مسؤولية كبيرة في تلقي الدعوة اللبنانية في التدخل والبحث باسترجاع رئيس حكومة لبنان من منطلق التلويح بتدويلها أولاً وباعتبارها قضية حريات وخرق للدستور اللبناني ثانياً.

تسلّح عون بالشارع الذي التفّ وراءه يقول جزء كبير من اللبنانيين إنها المرة الاولى التي شعر فيها بالاستقلال الحقيقي، لأن رئيسنا استقلالي. ها هو «يخالف» خطط الغرب ولا يقاطعونه ويصادق الإيرانيين ولا يفرضون عليه عدم التعاطي مع المملكة، بل هو زارها فوراً لدى انتخابه رئيساً، بل هو غير مستعدّ لتلبية شروط أحد. ها هو يحالف الشيعي «حزب الله» ويحمي كرامة السنة «تيار المستقبل» وكرسي الرئاسة الثالثة.

الأكبر من الاختبار في زمن الاستقلال هو الشارع اللبناني الذي التفّ حول الرؤساء عون وبري والحريري والتفّ وراء الوحدة الوطنية. وقد اكتشف الكل أن اللبنانيين هم يد واحدة في لحظة صادقة تتعلق بمهابة وكرامة البلاد، وأن اللبنانيين ميالون او تواقون للتمسك بالثوابت الوطنية، إذا لم يتم العبث بأمنهم واستقرارهم وتهديدهم او فرض عليهم رؤساء كرسوا الرئاسة اللبنانية لخدمة مشاريع أو اصطفاف معين بدون التوقف عند مقام الرئاسة.

في زمن الاستقلال صار للرئاسة اللبنانية «قيمة». فبدون مجاملات او جدالات يعرف كل لبناني أنها كانت كرسياً فارغاً حتى ولو تمّ ملؤه فصلاحيات رئيس الوزراء طغت لفترة من الفترات، وتسلّحت بالجو السياسي الإقليمي الملائم. وهناك رؤساء أساؤوا استخدام صلاحيات رئاسة الجمهورية، لكن الأهم أنهم لم يدركوا او يلتفتوا إلى الحفاظ على مهابة هذه الكرسي وحدها أمام المجتمع الدولي.

أما عن خطاب الاستقلال:

فالاستقلال مع ميشال عون هو توضيح كل شيء وليس ترفاً أو عيداً ولا عرضاً عسكرياً.

الاستقلال مع ميشال عون هو وحدة الوطن.

الاستقلال مع ميشال عون هو التصدي لـ «إسرائيل».

الاستقلال مع ميشال عون الابتعاد عن الفتنة.

الاستقلال مع ميشال عون هو حماية الدستور.

الاستقلال هو نصيحة أبوية صادقة.

لبنان مع ميشال عون سيّد، حر، مستقل..

 

مقالات مشابهة

A Walk to Liberation…

Fatima Haydar

25-05-2017 | 16:03

It’s much more than your ordinary hiking trip. It’s when the land speaks to heaven.

A Walk to Liberation...

With every step I take, the land underneath my feet whispers stories of brave men who trudged up Mount Safi, better known to Southerners as the Revolutionaries’ Mountain.

Mount Safi with its rough terrain and cruel weather is never forgotten, but it is during this time of year that visitors particularly southerners pay tribute to the mighty mountain.

Seventeen years had passed and Mount Safi stands proud safekeeping secrets of the brave Revolutionaries’ stories of heroism and endurance. Stories waiting to be told… waiting to be passed on from one generation of Revolutionaries to another.

A Walk to Liberation...

With only a backpack on my back, I set out on a walk that changed my perception of the littlest of things. At 10:15 a.m. [Beirut time] the hiking group I accompanied met with Abu Hadi, a Hezbollah field officer, who took us on an excursion.

The Hezbollah-sponsored daytrip was held on the occasion of the Resistance and Liberation Day. On May 25, 2000, Lebanon’s southern villages witnessed the withdrawal of the occupying “Israeli” entity – a date which marks the victory of a brave handful over the apartheid entity’s so-called “invincible army” in South Lebanon.

Our two-hour walk which started from Ain Boswar, a village in Nabatieh Governorate in South Lebanon, ended in Mleeta, the Hezbollah Resistance Museum or the Tourist Landmark of the Resistance, as it is officially known.

A mile or two up the mountain with nothing much to carry cannot compare with the same miles walked with 40 to 50 kg [88 – 110 lbs.] of military equipment that the Revolutionary men carried under enemy bombing and fire.

A Walk to Liberation...

Abu Hadi, a veteran in his mid-forties, wore his military uniform that camouflaged with the surrounding. With his southern Arabic accent, Abu Hadi tells us about the profound relation of Mount Safi to its neighboring villages that endured moments of heroism and pain at the same time; as the area had been shelled during the “Israeli” aggression in 1993 and 1996.

The veteran officer went on to talk about the mutual relationship between the Revolutionaries’ Mountain and the Revolutionaries themselves, who had gotten used to dwelling in the area prior to the 2000 liberation.

He told us how the men would carry their military supplies and weaponry in addition to food and gas tanks from nearby villages up to their camp site at Mount Safi, pointing to an old man-made well where they would get water given the lack of pipelines.

A Walk to Liberation...

In his will, Martyr Abdulmalik Karaki tells Martyr Moustafa Karaki: “Whoever wanted to be assigned to Safi Mount particularly in the pre-liberation stage [2000], would have to sacrifice greatly and be physically fit.”

The presence of the Islamic Resistance on Mount Safi dates back to 1986 – 1987 due to its strategic location as it overlooks the Western Beqaa area, Said, Tyre and the towns nearby, Abu Hadi added.

Back then, Great Martyr Leader Sayyed Abbas al-Mousawi managed the Resistance’s military operations from Mount Safi.

Abu Hadi noted the strategic importance of Safi stressing that had the “Israelis” occupied it, the entire South would have fallen.

It was a beautiful day for a hike. Luckily, it wasn’t too hot.

At times, mist would cover the entire mountain transforming the field into a heavenly place; a view that sends you into a state of serenity and peace.

All the way up Mount Safi, the sole thought on my mind was how tiring the hike is. I wondered how the Resistance men bore the hike through the years.

Women and young ladies from different walks of life took part in this life-enlightening walk. Like me, they were all pushed by the curiosity to experience what it is like to be a Revolutionary, as many of them are mothers, sisters, wives and daughters of these honorable men.

A Walk to Liberation...

A light breeze blew as we sat listening to Abu Hadi narrating stories of valor. Under a big branched tree sat Hajje Zeinab, mother of martyr Abbas al-Mousawi who fought in Syria.

For Hajje Zeinab, the mother of seven young men, the walk is a continuation of her son’s path. She had already sacrificed a son and is relentless to sacrifice the rest for the sake of Prophet Mohammad [PBUH] and his Household.
Given her life experience and wisdom, Hajje Zeinab advised us to learn from the events of Karbala and withstand the way Sayyida Zeinab did when she was deprived of her loved ones by Yazid.

I would never forget her comparison of Imam Hussein [AS] and his loyal Sahaba who fought Yazid and his tyrant army; she said “Hezbollah men are the successors of Imam Hussein [AS] and they are fighting the same army of Yazid – the ‘Israeli’s and their Western and Arab allies are the Yazids of this age.”

At 12:30 p.m., we reached Mleeta weary, thirsty and hungry. The women and young ladies were all desperate for a cozy place to relax in.

As I sat in the restaurant, sipping a cup of hot chocolate, I look at mighty Mount Safi. I smile. I take a deep breath of fresh air. I think of those brave men who suffered and persevered so that we are safe and free. I think of those courageous Revolutionaries fighting today to defend our honor.

To Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah… To all the honorable men of Hezbollah… To the sons of Imam Hussein [AS]… To whom we owe our lives… This is dedicate to you.

Many Happy Returns to you, the makers of victory.

Source: Al-Ahed News

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