تركيا عاصمة الخلافة الماسونية

د. قاسم حدرج

تحوّلت تركيا منذ ثلاثة عقود الى عاهرة أوروبا وفعلت كلّ شيء في سبيل أن يرضى عنها قوّادها فيمنحها الجنسية الأوروبية، وهو الأمر الذي لم يعجب منظمة بيلدربرغ التي تريد لتركيا الإسلامية ان تلعب دور الوسيط بين «إسرائيل» والعالم الإسلامي، بعد أن فشلت أدوات أميركا العربية في تحقيق هذا الهدف، وذلك تمهيداً لإعلان قيام الحكومة الموحدة للعالم بقيادة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية التي يتحكم بها المجمع الماسوني وجله من الصهاينة أمثال روتشيلد روكفلر ومورغن… وبناء على هذه الرؤية وبعد اجتماع المنظمة السري في العام 1999 والذي حضره حاكم مصرف تركيا المركزي سليمان غازي ووزير الخارجية ايمري غوننزاي، أعلن مسعود يلمز استقالة حكومته بشكل مفاجئ ليبدأ بعدها بثلاث سنوات عهد حزب العدالة والتنمية الإسلامي، وإلى يومنا هذا والهدف من وراء إعادة الإسلاميين الى السلطة بعد أن كان تمّ حظر أحزابهم والتشديد على مدارسهم الدينية وكلّ النشاطات التي تتعارض مع علمانية تركيا ذات الوجه الأوروبي هو إعطاء تركيا الصبغة الإسلامية في واقع أوروبا المسيحية بحيث ترفض انضمام 50 مليون مسلم إلى مجتمعاتها وبحيث انّ أيّ استفتاء سيحصل في العمق الأوروبي لانضمام تركيا الى الاتحاد سيقابَل بالرفض استناداً الى الخلفية الدينية، وهذا ما سيدفع تركيا وحكومتها الإسلامية الى العودة للتركيز على مصالحها وطموحها في منطقة الشرق الأوسط كشريك لـ «إسرائيل» في قيادة المنطقة وتحديد سياساتها والتي ستصبّ في مصلحة الرؤية الماسونية الهادفة الى قيام الحكومة الموحدة للعالم ولأجل هذا الهدف فقد عقدت منظمة بيلدربرغ اجتماعها السري في العام 2007 في اسطنبول لأنّ تركيا ستكون قطب الرحى في «إدارة» مشروع «الربيع العربي» الذي سيؤدّي الى بسط سلطة الاخوان المسلمين على عروش المنطقة بأكملها تمهيداً لعقد شراكة مع الدولة اليهودية.

وقد تمّ في هذا الاجتماع تنصيب أردوغان سلطاناً للأخوان المسلمين بحيث يستعيض عن ضياع حلم الانضمام للاتحاد الأوروبي بحلم أكبر وهو إعادة إحياء الخلافة العثمانية، ونلاحظ انّ التحضير لهذا الأمر بدأ بإنتاج العديد من المسلسلات التركية والأفلام التي تحاكي هذه الحقبة مثل حريم السلطان وقيامة ارطغرل وقيامة عثمان وفيلم محمد الفاتح ووادي الذئاب…

وجميعها ينطلق من خلفية دينية إسلامية وبأنّ تركيا هي الوريث الشرعي لهذه الخلافة، وبالفعل بدأ أردوغان بتنفيذ المخطط الماسوني وكلنا يعلم بأنه قام بتحضير المخيمات في العام 2010 أيّ قبل انطلاق «الربيع العربي» وأتقن تمثيل دوره في مسرحية مرمرة ليضفي على نفسه هالة الزعيم الإسلامي المتصدّي لهموم المسلمين، وبالتالي خلق أرضية صلبة لمخططه الجهنّمي وبدأ التنفيذ في العام 2011 انطلاقاً من تونس مروراً بمصر وليبيا في مسرحيات رعتها المخابرات الأميركية وتمّ تنصيب الاخوان المسلمين على رأس حكومات هذه الدول وكان قبلها قد نجح في وضع حركة حماس في قبضته ولكن العين كانت على دمشق درة التاج في هذا المشروع والتي سخر لها أردوغان كلّ إمكانياته الاستخباراتية واللوجستية والدينية والتجييش الإعلامي.

وتولّت قطر مهمة التمويل وكان المتوقع ان يسقط النظام السوري خلال أشهر على أبعد تقدير، وهو ما لم يحصل ودخلت إيران وروسيا على خط المواجهة وكذلك السعودية مما أدّى الى تعقيد المشهد وبدأت الارتدادات السلبية على الداخل التركي الذي خرج عن النص وبدأت عملية تدفق اللاجئين باتجاه أوروبا وفلتت بعض الجماعات الإرهابية من قبضة أردوغان مما نتج عنه قرار إزاحة أردوغان من خلال محاولة الانقلاب التي أفشلها الروسي واستطاع بعدها استيعاب جنون أردوغان الذي تقمّص حقيقة دور السلطان العثماني وجمح في تحقيق هذا الحلم، فاضطرت اميركا ساعتئذ الى محاولة تأديبه وترويضه عبر ورقة دعم الانفصاليين الأكراد وبعد أن نجح الروسي ودبلوماسيته الجليدية في استغلال التخبّط التركي وبحثه عن طوق النجاة من مقصلة الغرب نجح في تقليص الحلم الأردوغاني الى مستوى اعتباره شريكاً في رسم خارطة النفوذ الجديدة ملقياً على عاتقه أصعب مهمة وهي كبح جماح عشرات آلاف الإرهابيين الذين اعتبرهم ورقة قوة بيده سيلقيها على الطاولة لحصد الأثمان السياسية وخروجه من هذه الحرب الطاحنة كمنتصر من خلال اعتباره شريكاً رئيسياً في الحرب على الإرهاب وفي الداخل البطل القومي الذي استطاع القضاء على الخطر الكردي وعدم الرضوخ للإرادة الأميركية وتحقيق مكاسب اقتصادية عبر اتفاقية السيل لنقل الغاز الروسي وقرصنة الغاز في المتوسط من خلال اتفاقية رسم الحدود البحرية مع ليبيا مستغلاً حالة الانقسام والاقتتال الليبي ولكن ما أفشل مخططات أردوغان وهدّد تحقيقها هو موقف القيادة السورية وسعيها الى تحرير كلّ شبر من الأراضي السورية رغماً عن أنف أردوغان والتي وصف الرئيس السوري

تهديداته بالفقاعات الصوتية مما ضاعف من حالة جنونه فقام زجّ بالجيش التركي في هذا الأتون وهو ما لن يحتمله طويلاً وسيعرّضه للقصاص الداخلي بمباركة غربية لوقف تهديداته بتدفق اللاجئين وشرقية وبعد أن أصبح يشكل خطراً على العروش العربية واختزال أدوارها في معادلة النفوذ في المنطقة خاصة كعراب لـ «صفقة القرن» والتي من ينجح بتمريرها سينال حصة الأسد من الدعم الأميركي.

من هنا يمكننا القول بأنّ الحلّ الوحيد لأزمة أردوغان التي إن لم تنتهِ باغتياله على يد جيشه ذي النزعة العلمانية على حساب الجيش المحمدي كما يطلق عليه أردوغان فإنّ عليه أن يقوم باستدارة كلية تتمثل في مشاركته بقتال الجماعات الإرهابية.

وعمل فكي كماشة عليهم في إدلب ليسدل الستار على المسرحية الإرهابية على مشهد يبدو سوريالياً ولكنه ليس مستحيلاً وقد كان العمل جارياً عليه من خلال اللقاء الذي عقده اللواء علي مملوك وفيدال حاقان والذي لم يكتب له النجاح، ولكن المتغيّرات على الميدان قد تعيد إحياءه لأنّ أردوغان رجل بلا مبادئ وقد أيقن بأنّ حلمه قد تحوّل إلى كابوس ولم يتبقّ له أمل سوى بتحقيق حلم الصلاة في المسجد الأموي، ولكن في الصفوف الخلفية بإمامة

الرئيس القائد المنتصر الدكتور بشار حافظ الأسد.

*مستشار في القانون الدولي

زمن انتصارات محور المقاومة في حروب الجيل الرابع والخامس

د. ميادة ابراهيم رزوق

عرف العالم عبر تاريخه عدة أجيال من الحروب، ولكلّ جيل سماته من حيث أنواع الأسلحة المستخدمة وطبيعة الخطط والتكتيكات والاستراتيجيات وميادين المعارك وغيرها. ووفقاً لرأي بعض المحللين الاستراتيجيين والعسكريين وأبرزهم ويليام ستركس ليند فإنّ معاهدة «صلح ويستفاليا» عام 1648 وارتباطها بنشأة الدول القومية وامتلاكها القوة والأسلحة العسكرية، كانت بداية نشوء الحروب الحديثة، حيث تميّزت حروب الجيل الأول وهي حروب الحقبة من1648 حتى1860 بأنها حروب تقليدية بين جيوش نظامية وأرض ومعارك محدّدة بين جيشين يمثلان دولتين في حرب ومواجهة مباشرة، وتعتبر حروب القرن الـ 17 وَ الـ 18 وَ الـ19 ضمن هذا التعريف ومن أمثلتها الحروب النابوليونية في أوروبا 1815-1803.

أما حروب الجيل الثاني فهي حرب العصابات التي كانت تدور في دول أميركا اللاتينية، وهي شبيهة بالحروب التقليدية ولكن تمّ استخدام النيران والدبابات والطائرات بين العصابات والأطراف المتنازعة. وتعرّف حروب الجيل الثالث بأنها الحرب الوقائية او الاستباقية والتي انطلقت من وحي نظرية «الردع بالشك» وهي نظرية سياسية عسكرية ظهرت في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية عقب انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي السابق، وتعني عملياً الضربة الاستباقية وشنّ الحرب ضدّ كلّ ما من شأنه أن يهدّد الأمن القومي الأميركي او السلم العالمي. وتشكل الحرب على العراق نموذجاً عنها علماً أنه طور الألمان هذا الجيل من الحروب خلال الحرب العالمية الثانية باعتمادهم المرونة والسرعة في الهجوم فضلاً عن المفاجأة والحرب خلف خطوط العدو.

وبالانتقال إلى نوع آخر من الحروب الحديثة تدعى حروب الجيل الرابع والتي هي حرب أميركية صرفة طُورّت من قبل الجيش الأميركي وعرّفوها بـ «الحرب اللامتماثلة» حيث اعتمدت على أسلوب حرب العصابات والجماعات الإرهابية مثل (داعش والقاعدة والنصرة) لشنّ عمليات نوعية دون الحاجة إلى أرض معركة تقليدية كما في السابق ولا لنقاط التقاء بين جيشين متصارعين أيّ حروب بالوكالة أهمّ أدواتها «الإرهاب، وقاعدة إرهابية غير وطنية أو متعدّدة الجنسيات تستخدم تكتيكات حروب العصابات والتمرّد، حرب نفسية متطورة من خلال وسائل الإعلام الجديد والتقليدي والتضليل الإعلامي والتلاعب النفسي، منظمات المجتمع المدني والمعارضة، والعمليات الاستخباراتية والنفوذ الأميركي في أيّ بلد لخدمة مصالح الولايات المتحدة الأميركية وسياسات البنتاغون» وتستخدم فيها كلّ الضغوط المتاحة السياسية والاقتصادية والاجتماعية والعسكرية، بالإضافة إلى إحداث حالة الفوضى Creative chaos في مواقع الصراع بين أطراف محلية تتيح للدول الكبرى التدخل وتوجيهها لمصلحتها ومن التطبيقات العملية لهذه النظرية ما حدث في العراق عام2003 إلى ما عُرف باسم (الربيع العربي) الذي اجتاح عددا من الدول العربية من نهاية عام2010 ، ويمكن ربط ذلك بتوصيات تقرير لجنة «فينوغراد» بعد العدوان الصهيوني على جنوب لبنان في 12 تموز 2006 بعد فشل الحروب المباشرة بترميم قوة الردع واللجوء إلى الحرب الناعمة والذكية التي تستخدم الإعلام وشذاذ الآفاق كأدوات أساسية في تفاصيل أجندتها لصناعة الفوضى والفتن في سبيل الوصول إلى شرق أوسط جديد (إسرائيل) أحد أهمّ مكوّناته يُسند إليها الدور الاقتصادي والعسكري والسياسي والأمني في إدارته.

ولكن مع إرهاصات الفشل والهزائم التي مُنيَ بها محور حلف الولايات المتحدة الأميركية بمكوّناته «الأوروبية والإسرائيلية والتركية والسعودية وبقية حكومات الرجعية العربية» بكسر المهابة وعدم قدرة الردّ منعاً للتدحرج نحو حربٍ كبرى يخشون خوضها جميعاً، وذلك بدءاً من الانتصارات التي حققها الجيش السوري في الميدان إلى إنجازات أنصار الله في اليمن باستهداف المحمية الاقتصادية العسكرية الأميركية «منشأة أرامكو عملاق النفط السعودي»، إلى إسقاط إيران لدرة الصناعة العسكرية الأميركية الطائرة المسيّرة، إلى العملية النوعية التي قامت بها المقاومة الإسلامية «حزب الله» بتدمير آلية عسكرية صهيونية عند طريق ثكنة «أفيفيم» في الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة، إلى انهيار القبة الحديدية الإسرائيلية تحت وطأة صواريخ فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية في غزة، إلى تغيير قواعد الاشتباك مع العدو الصهيوني في لبنان وسورية وفلسطين، مما دفع بالولايات المتحدة الأميركية إلى الاستمرار بسيناريوهات بديلة تعتمد جيلاً أكثر حداثة من الحروب يدعى بحروب الجيل الخامس جوهره استنزاف طاقة الدول الرئيسية وتشتيت تركيزها من خلال تهييج الشعوب وتفجير الساحات من الداخل لإسقاط الدولة الوطنية مستخدمة العقوبات المالية والحصار الاقتصادي ووسائل الإعلام والفضاء الالكتروني من أجل الانفجار الاجتماعي والاقتصادي والذهاب إلى الفوضى للاستمرار بالابتزاز السياسي من تهويل وتهديد ومناورة أملاً بتحسين أوراق التفاوض عند التسويات لإرساء قواعد اشتباك جديدة تحفظ أمن الكيان الصهيوني المحتلّ، مستندة بذلك إلى إمكانياتها وقدراتها في الميدان الاقتصادي من خلال امتلاك والتحكم بالنظام المصرفي العالمي وأنابيب النفط والغاز والمال وشبكة العلاقات الدولية والدبلوماسية، فعمدت في الساحات اللبنانية والسورية والعراقية والإيرانية إلى العمل على تجويع الشعوب وتفجير التناقضات الاقتصادية والاجتماعية وبالتالي تعميم نموذج الدولة الفاشلة التي لا تمتلك الامكانيات لتلبية حاجات ونماء شعوبها… لتراهن بذلك على انتهاء التسويات بإعادة ترسيم الحدود البرية والبحرية بين لبنان وفلسطين المحتلة، وتقييد سلاح المقاومة وحرية حركته في مواجهة العدو الصهيوني، وخروج إيران وحزب الله من الأراضي السورية والعودة إلى قواعد اشتباك 1974 مع الكيان الصهيوني على حدود الجولان السوري المحتلّ، وإخراج الصواريخ الثقيلة من يد الحشد الشعبي ليد الجيش العراقي وإلزام قوى الحشد الشعبي بعدم التحرك خارج حدود العراق.

في زمن الانتصارات تؤول هذه السيناريوهات إلى فشل جديد وخاصة بعد اغتيال القائدين قاسم سليماني وأبو مهدي المهندس التي وحدت كلمة وقرارات وطاقات الشعوب في محور المقاومة، إلى تصاعد انتفاضات شعبنل في فلسطين وتأييد العديد من الساحات العربية للقضية الفلسطينية بأنها قضية العرب المصيرية وصفقة القرن ميتة قبل ان تولد، وحكومات عراقية ولبنانية خارج الإملاءات الأميركية تعمل حثيثاً على إنقاذ البلاد من الانهيار المالي والاقتصادي والذهاب إلى الفوضى، وفي سورية دولة مؤسسات، دولة قوية وقائد حكيم مدرك ومحيط بتفاصيل المؤامرة بأبعادها العسكرية والاقتصادية والاجتماعية، وشرائح شعبية موالية بقوة تعمل على عزل أية حركات لها وظائف سياسية، وجيش أسطوري يحقق انتصارات في معركة إدلب تلقن أردوغان درساً وترسي معادلات جديدة تؤكد صعوبة العبث بالداخل السوري، فيكتب التاريخ أنّ صفقة القرن إلى مزبلته وأنه زمن إنجازات محور المقاومة بعد أن ولّى زمن الهزائم والنكسات والانكسارات.

القوميّون العرب يواجهون الإرهاب!

د. محمد سيد أحمد

في ظلّ حالة من الإحباط واليأس مما يحدث داخل وطننا العربي منذ مطلع العام 2011 حيث هبّت رياح الربيع العربي المزعوم وبدلاً من أن تكون نسائم ربيعية لطيفة منعشة، وجدناها رياحاً خريفية محمّلة بالأتربة التي تزكم الأنوف، وشتاء قارص البرودة محمّلاً بالأمطار الثلجية والصواعق الرعدية المرعبة، وصيفاً شديد الحرارة تحرق نيرانه كلّ من يتعرّض لها، وخلال أيام قليلة من الأحداث كنا قد تكشفنا حقيقة المؤامرة التي تتعرّض لها أمتنا العربية، ونبّهنا وبحّ صوتنا بأنّ ما يحدث هو مؤامرة كبرى على أوطاننا بهدف تقسيمها وتفتيتها من جديد – بعد التقسيم والتفتيت الأول في مطلع القرن العشرين – ضمن مرحلة جديدة من مراحل المشروع الاستعماري الغربي بقيادة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية واصطلح على تسمية هذه المرحلة بـ «الشرق الأوسط الجديد».

وفي إطار مشروع الشرق الأوسط الجديد قامت القوى الاستعمارية باستخدام آليات جديدة تماماً في العمل على تقسيم وتفتيت أوطاننا ومن بين هذه الآليات تطوير آلية العنف والتطرف والإرهاب التي هي بالأساس صناعة استعمارية غربية نشأت مع الاستعمار القديم في مطلع القرن العشرين حيث احتضنت بريطانيا القوى الاستعمارية الكبرى في ذلك الوقت التنظيمات الإرهابية الوليدة داخل مجتمعاتنا المحتلة ومنها جماعة الإخوان المسلمين، حيث قامت أجهزة الاستخبارات البريطانية بدعم حسن البنا وتنظيمه الذي خرجت من تحت عباءته كلّ التنظيمات الإرهابية الحديثة في ما بعد، وخلال العقود الأخيرة ومع تبلور مشروع الشرق الأوسط الجديد وجدت القوى الاستعمارية الجديدة متمثلة في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية الوريث الشرعي للاستعمار الغربي في ما بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية أنه يمكنها استثمار هذه التنظيمات الإرهابية لتقسيم وتفتيت مجتمعاتنا العربية من الداخل دون الحاجة للتدخل العسكري المباشر كما كان في الماضي خاصة بعد خسائرها الباهظة في أفغانستان والعراق حين قرّرت السير وفق المنهج القديم.

ومع مطلع العام 2011 كانت قد أعدّت العدّة وتمّ الاتفاق والتنسيق بين القوى الاستعمارية الغربية والتنظيمات الإرهابية لتعمل بالوكالة في تنفيذ أجندة المشروع التقسيمي والتفتيتي لمنطقتنا العربية باستخدام ورقة الفتنة الطائفية والمذهبية والعرقية، حيث أشعلت هذه التنظيمات الإرهابية النيران بالداخل ودارت الآلة الإعلامية الغربية الجهنمية الجبارة لتغسل أدمغة الرأي العام العالمي وإيهامه بأنّ هناك ثورات شعبيّة داخل هذه المجتمعات العربيّة ولا بدّ من دعم هؤلاء الثوار من أجل إسقاط الأنظمة الدكتاتوريّة وتحقيق العيش والحرية والعدالة الاجتماعية والكرامة الإنسانية لشعوب هذه الأوطان، وتمكّنت الآلة الإعلاميّة الغربية ومعها الآلة الإعلامية العربية العميلة من خداع الرأي العام داخل مجتمعاتنا والأمر نفسه تمّ في الوقت الذي كانت القوى الاستعمارية الغربية تدعم وتجيش وتسلح الجماعات الإرهابية للاستيلاء على الحكم لتقوم بعد ذلك بعملية التقسيم والتفتيت التي تستهدفها في الأصل.

ورغم النجاح النسبيّ لمشروع الشرق الأوسط الجديد في مرحلته الأولى في مطلع العام 2011 حيث تمكن من إشعال النيران بالداخل العربي في تونس ومصر واليمن وليبيا وسورية إلا أنّ هذا النجاح لم يتمكّن من الاستمرار طويلاً حيث تمكّن الجيش المصريّ من إحباط وإفشال المخطط عبر مواجهة شرسة مع الوكيل الإرهابي مما أجبر الأصيل الاستعماري الأميركي على التراجع مؤقتاً عن مشروعه في مصر، وفي الوقت ذاته كانت المواجهة الشرسة والمعركة الكبرى والحرب الكونية بين الجيش العربي السوري والوكيل الإرهابي على كامل الجغرافيا العربية السورية حيث نجح في إحباط وإفشال المخطط عبر معارك لا زالت مستمرة حتى اللحظة الراهنة في إدلب. واستطاعت سورية أن تقلب موازين القوى الدولية عبر تحالفها مع روسيا التي عادت من جديد كقوة عظمى بعد غياب عقدين كاملين عن الساحة الدولية كانت الولايات المتحدة الأميركية خلالها هي القطب الأوحد في العالم. ووقفت روسيا ولا زالت مع سورية في حربها ضدّ الإرهاب المدعوم أميركياً، لدرجة جعلت الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين يصرّح بأنه لن يترك معركة الإرهاب في سورية حتى لو وصلت الحرب إلى شوارع موسكو، وفي الوقت نفسه يصرّح وزير خارجيته سيرغي لافروف هذا الأسبوع أنّ القضاء على الإرهاب في إدلب آخر معاقل الوكيل الإرهابي على الأرض العربية السورية أمر حتمي، وهو ما سيجبر الأميركي عن التراجع مؤقتاً عن مشروعه في سورية.

وفي ظلّ محاولات جيوشنا الوطنية التصدّي للوكيل الإرهابي كان موقف النخب العربية مخزياً فهناك من قام بالانخراط في دعم الوكيل الإرهابي سواء بشكل مباشر أو غير مباشر، وبذلك أصبح في خندق الأصيل الاستعماري الذي يسعى لتقسيم وتفتيت مجتمعاتنا، وهناك من فضّل الانسحاب من المعركة ولزم الصمت سواء بوعي أو دون وعي وهو ما يصبّ في النهاية في صالح مشروع الوكيل والأصيل، وهناك من قرّر خوض المعركة إلى جانب وطنه وجيشه، وعلى الرغم من قلتهم إلا أنهم صمدوا صموداً أسطورياً، وفي ظلّ هذه الأجواء الكئيبة والمحبطة على مستوى النخب العربية يأتي من بعيد بصيص من الأمل عبر ضوء خافت في ظلام دامس، مجموعة من الشباب القومي العربي في المهجر يتحرّكون ويجوبون العالم شرقاً وغرباً في محاولة لتأسيس هيئة شعبية عالمية لمناهضة العنف والتطرف والإرهاب، لتكون صوتاً مدوياً مدافعاً عن أوطاننا داخل أروقة المنظمات الدولية الرسمية وغير الرسمية، ليقولوا للعالم أجمع أننا من وقف وتصدّى للإرهاب، ونحن مَن تآمر الغرب الاستعماري على أوطاننا عبر الوكيل الإرهابي لتستمرّ عمليات سرقة ونهب ثروات شعوبنا المغيبة عمداً مع سبق الإصرار والترصد، فلهم كلّ التقدير والاحترام. اللهم بلغت اللهم فاشهد.

Iran’s Cultural Attaché in Lebanon: Soleimani Was Transnational, Multi-dimensional Personality that Scared Trump

Iran’s Cultural Attaché in Lebanon: Soleimani Was Transnational, Multi-dimensional Personality that Scared Trump

By Nour Rida

The martyrdom of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani has created a ripple effect in Iran and the region, still being the talk of the town.

It is the political dimension of his assassination that is mostly discussed in the media. However, it is important to note that the martyr, was not merely a military personnel despite the fact that most of his pictures come in army clothing or on the battle fields. Gen. Soleimani was multi-dimensional personality that scared Trump, he was unique, humane, and fought against imperialism and the colonialism of minds.

In an interview with al-Ahed news, the Cultural attaché of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Lebanon, Dr. Abbas Khameyar said that media has not shed enough light on the reality behind martyr Soleimani’s personality, which he described as “transnational”. He assured that when he was alive, he foiled all attempts of dissecting the region and stood in face of all hegemonic schemes.

Military serves to protect civilization

“We should pay attention to the different dimensions of General Soleimani’s personality. He wore his military clothing most of the time, he was in the battlefields among the soldiers fighting Takfiri groups in the region. However he was like a shelter or umbrella protecting Iran’s civilization and culture,” Dr. Khameyar said.

He noted “When we talk about Iran and the major accomplishments of the Islamic Republic, the first thing that comes to the mind of people is: military accomplishments. Of course we confirm that Iran’s accomplishments and capabilities on the military level are amazing, but it is not the end. This strong military that Iran has built over a period of time and with perseverance is in fact a force of deterrence and serves as protection to all other accomplishments. In other words, the military was never a goal that Iran sought to reach, it is a means by which it protects its culture, civilizations, existence, sovereignty and other. It is a power of deterrence that protects Iranian accomplishments in the different scientific fields.”

The diplomat underscored that the military character of Hajj Qassem holds a lot of dimensions within its folds. He had a mission to protect Iran’s humanitarian, cultural and civilizational existence as well as its Islamic civilization. In fact, Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei stresses this aspect. “The battle between us and our foes is a battle of civilization par excellence. We have to realize that holding on to our civilization, customs and traditions is an integral part of our identity and existence and that the military serves to protect it.”

Targeting Civilization

Touching on US President Donald Trump’s threat to target 52 historical sites, Dr. Khameyar highlighted that “the uncivilized opponent knows that targeting our civilization hurts, and so he does it on purpose.”

Since the Islamic Republic of Iran decided to free itself from the manacles of American supremacy in 1979, the US has become so occupied with attempts to destroy Iran’s civilization and culture. This is not an unplanned thing, it is calculated and intentional. Iran’s heritage is the oldest among many across the world. It also enjoys a strategic geographical position which makes the US more obsessed about controlling it.

Targeting cultural heritage: a mindset

According to Dr. Khameyar, “Trump’s words and his threat to target Iran’s sites was not a slip of a tongue, but rather part of the hegemonic mindset. To understand this, we can look at historians like Bernard Lewis and the strong impact he had on the US decision-making. He wrote a paper in 1979 under the title “Iran in history” and presented it in Tel Aviv.”

Dr. Khameyar pointed out that “this policy of dissecting the region and ruining its heritage and culture was seen across the region in what some call the ‘Arab Spring’ and others call the ‘Arab awakening’; names do not really matter and it is the legacy of Lewis and people who have adopted his thought. We have seen the destruction of museums and libraries in Iraq after the collapse of the Saddam regime, and the same scenario in Egypt. The head of the National Museum of Iraq told me in person that in less than 36 hours after chaos spread when the Saddam regime collapsed, more than 15 thousand antiquities were either destroyed or stolen. Also in Syria, the Takfiri groups adopted the same policy of destroying cultural and historical heritage in Aleppo, Palmyra and other cities. If it were not for the popular and youth groups that quickly took action, all this heritage would have been destroyed.”

The diplomat noted “Lewis says Iran is one of the civilized countries that was immune in face of any attempts to ruin its heritage and culture for at least two centuries. His advice to confront such countries like Iran is through division, so Iran should be divided into a great Baluchistan, a great Khorasan, a great Azerbaijan and so on. ”

Bernard Lewis, a British-American historian of the Middle East, has been formidably influential in America – his policy ideas have towered over presidents, policy-makers and think-tanks, and they still do. For those who might not have known this: The “Bernard Lewis plan”, as it came to be known, was a design to fracture all the countries in the region – from the Middle East to India – along ethnic, sectarian and linguistic lines. A radical Balkanization of the region. He seems to be Mike Pompeo’s intellectual hero. For example, Pompeo says: “I met him only once, but read much of what he wrote. I owe a great deal of my understanding of the Middle East to his work … He was also a man who believed, as I do, that Americans must be more confident in the greatness of our country, not less.”

Soleimani preserves heritage, humanity

Assassinating General Soleimani comes within the same context.

Dr. Khameyar added “The military façade of general Soleimani is indeed a shield that protects and preserves the humanitarian, cultural and historical heritage of Iran and the region. His personality was also multi-dimensional. He was on the battlefields to help fight terrorist groups, but he was also among the poor inside Iran, trying his best to help them out. During the floods that struck Khuzestan last year, he was among the first to be there and provide help. Tens of stories have emerged after his assassination, showing a person of modesty, chastity and humanity and this is what made him so popular among the Iranians and this is why millions poured down the streets to participate in his memorial.”

The Iranian diplomat explained that the people called him the general of hearts and love. “This has its roots in Iranian poetry and literature. When we talk about “Eshq”, meaning love, the great poets of Persia cross our minds like Hafez and Rumi. They are internationally well-known for their ingenious and unique works. And when we mention the Shahnameh, which is the book of epics we talk about heroic characters. Today, General Soleimani is an epic, a real one though. He also exemplifies Karbala, which is an integral part of Iranian and Islamic culture and history.”

Demonstrations renew Iran legitimacy

Dr. Khameyar underlined that the millions of people who attended his funeral or headed to the streets in all the Iranian cities in fact were like a sea of human beings, with its tides extending outside the borders of Iran as well.

“The huge ceremonies in which most Iranians participated represents another referendum to the legitimacy of the Iranian government. It is also like a consensus and approval to the resistance front or what is known as the axis of resistance in the region. Despite the desperate American attempts to destroy Iran and despite the sanctions, pressure and different means adopted to harm Iran, the martyrdom of Hajj Qassem fixated the resistance front and united the Iranian people. Today, we can say that the resistance has become globalized, since martyr Soleimani is a transnational personality that transcends borders and geography.”

A smart-power personality

Describing the personality of martyr General Soleimani, Dr. Khameyar said that we can perhaps call it a smart-power personality; it combines both soft and hard power together.

“This smart-power is demonstrated in a few things: the spread of the culture of resistance among Iranians and other peoples of the region, the strengthening of the popular will, the persistence and perseverance of the Iranians in face of all difficulties and the rising voices “We are all Soleimani” across Iran and the region. It is also exemplified in what happened in the Iraqi parliament, where MPs urged US forces to leave the Iraqi territory, and in the marches of millions of people also outside Iran. Now hard power comes in the form of the missiles that precisely targeted the Ain al-Assad US military base located in Iraq, and maybe new strikes in the future to deter the occupiers, who knows. This military strike was not intended to kill, it was a clear message that US hegemony can be defeated, and that the US army is not invincible.”

Dr. Khameyar also noted “Today, the resistance axis is globalized, and the resistance forces are stronger on all levels. Again, when we say resistance we do not mean a military resistance only, we rather mean an axis of resistance that is developed on all levels.”

Describing General Soleimani with Iranian poetry, Dr. Khameyar said the poem of “The Breath of the Christ” fits him really well.

Hafez said “I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through-listen to this music.” The Music of the Divine, of the breath of Christ – Music that melts and opens the heart and frees the soul of any willing to listen.

For the Arabic version click here

LIVE: Putin holds annual press conference in Moscow

December 19, 2019

The version from RT on Twitter is the best one available currently:

https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1dRKZLQDDYDJB

English Soundtrack:

Putin holds annual press conference in Moscow

Vladimir Putin addressed State Duma deputies, Federation Council members, heads of Russian regions and civil society representatives in the Kremlin.

Dear friends, we have gathered here today in connection with an issue that is of vital, historic significance to all of us. A referendum was held in Crimea on March 16 in full compliance with democratic procedures and international norms.


More than 82 percent of the electorate took part in the vote. Over 96 percent of them spoke out in favour of reuniting with Russia. These numbers speak for themselves.

To understand the reason behind such a choice it is enough to know the history of Crimea and what Russia and Crimea have always meant for each other.

Everything in Crimea speaks of our shared history and pride. This is the location of ancient Khersones, where Prince Vladimir was baptised. His spiritual feat of adopting Orthodoxy predetermined the overall basis of the culture, civilisation and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The graves of Russian soldiers whose bravery brought Crimea into the Russian empire are also in Crimea. This is also Sevastopol – a legendary city with an outstanding history, a fortress that serves as the birthplace of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Crimea is Balaklava and Kerch, Malakhov Kurgan and Sapun Ridge. Each one of these places is dear to our hearts, symbolising Russian military glory and outstanding valour.

Crimea is a unique blend of different peoples’ cultures and traditions. This makes it similar to Russia as a whole, where not a single ethnic group has been lost over the centuries. Russians and Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars and people of other ethnic groups have lived side by side in Crimea, retaining their own identity, traditions, languages and faith.

Incidentally, the total population of the Crimean Peninsula today is 2.2 million people, of whom almost 1.5 million are Russians, 350,000 are Ukrainians who predominantly consider Russian their native language, and about 290,000–300,000 are Crimean Tatars, who, as the referendum has shown, also lean towards Russia.

True, there was a time when Crimean Tatars were treated unfairly, just as a number of other peoples in the USSR. There is only one thing I can say here: millions of people of various ethnicities suffered during those repressions, and primarily Russians.

Crimean Tatars returned to their homeland. I believe we should make all the necessary political and legislative decisions to finalise the rehabilitation of Crimean Tatars, restore them in their rights and clear their good name.

We have great respect for people of all the ethnic groups living in Crimea. This is their common home, their motherland, and it would be right – I know the local population supports this – for Crimea to have three equal national languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar.

Colleagues,

In people’s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an inseparable part of Russia. This firm conviction is based on truth and justice and was passed from generation to generation, over time, under any circumstances, despite all the dramatic changes our country went through during the entire 20th century.

After the revolution, the Bolsheviks, for a number of reasons – may God judge them – added large sections of the historical South of Russia to the Republic of Ukraine. This was done with no consideration for the ethnic make-up of the population, and today these areas form the southeast of Ukraine. Then, in 1954, a decision was made to transfer Crimean Region to Ukraine, along with Sevastopol, despite the fact that it was a federal city. This was the personal initiative of the Communist Party head Nikita Khrushchev. What stood behind this decision of his – a desire to win the support of the Ukrainian political establishment or to atone for the mass repressions of the 1930’s in Ukraine – is for historians to figure out.

What matters now is that this decision was made in clear violation of the constitutional norms that were in place even then. The decision was made behind the scenes. Naturally, in a totalitarian state nobody bothered to ask the citizens of Crimea and Sevastopol. They were faced with the fact. People, of course, wondered why all of a sudden Crimea became part of Ukraine. But on the whole – and we must state this clearly, we all know it – this decision was treated as a formality of sorts because the territory was transferred within the boundaries of a single state. Back then, it was impossible to imagine that Ukraine and Russia may split up and become two separate states. However, this has happened.

Unfortunately, what seemed impossible became a reality. The USSR fell apart. Things developed so swiftly that few people realised how truly dramatic those events and their consequences would be. Many people both in Russia and in Ukraine, as well as in other republics hoped that the Commonwealth of Independent States that was created at the time would become the new common form of statehood. They were told that there would be a single currency, a single economic space, joint armed forces; however, all this remained empty promises, while the big country was gone. It was only when Crimea ended up as part of a different country that Russia realised that it was not simply robbed, it was plundered.

At the same time, we have to admit that by launching the sovereignty parade Russia itself aided in the collapse of the Soviet Union. And as this collapse was legalised, everyone forgot about Crimea and Sevastopol ­– the main base of the Black Sea Fleet. Millions of people went to bed in one country and awoke in different ones, overnight becoming ethnic minorities in former Union republics, while the Russian nation became one of the biggest, if not the biggest ethnic group in the world to be divided by borders.

Now, many years later, I heard residents of Crimea say that back in 1991 they were handed over like a sack of potatoes. This is hard to disagree with. And what about the Russian state? What about Russia? It humbly accepted the situation. This country was going through such hard times then that realistically it was incapable of protecting its interests. However, the people could not reconcile themselves to this outrageous historical injustice. All these years, citizens and many public figures came back to this issue, saying that Crimea is historically Russian land and Sevastopol is a Russian city. Yes, we all knew this in our hearts and minds, but we had to proceed from the existing reality and build our good-neighbourly relations with independent Ukraine on a new basis. Meanwhile, our relations with Ukraine, with the fraternal Ukrainian people have always been and will remain of foremost importance for us.

Today we can speak about it openly, and I would like to share with you some details of the negotiations that took place in the early 2000s. The then President of Ukraine Mr Kuchma asked me to expedite the process of delimiting the Russian-Ukrainian border. At that time, the process was practically at a standstill. Russia seemed to have recognised Crimea as part of Ukraine, but there were no negotiations on delimiting the borders. Despite the complexity of the situation, I immediately issued instructions to Russian government agencies to speed up their work to document the borders, so that everyone had a clear understanding that by agreeing to delimit the border we admitted de facto and de jure that Crimea was Ukrainian territory, thereby closing the issue.

We accommodated Ukraine not only regarding Crimea, but also on such a complicated matter as the maritime boundary in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait. What we proceeded from back then was that good relations with Ukraine matter most for us and they should not fall hostage to deadlock territorial disputes. However, we expected Ukraine to remain our good neighbour, we hoped that Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Ukraine, especially its southeast and Crimea, would live in a friendly, democratic and civilised state that would protect their rights in line with the norms of international law.

However, this is not how the situation developed. Time and time again attempts were made to deprive Russians of their historical memory, even of their language and to subject them to forced assimilation. Moreover, Russians, just as other citizens of Ukraine are suffering from the constant political and state crisis that has been rocking the country for over 20 years.

I understand why Ukrainian people wanted change. They have had enough of the authorities in power during the years of Ukraine’s independence. Presidents, prime ministers and parliamentarians changed, but their attitude to the country and its people remained the same. They milked the country, fought among themselves for power, assets and cash flows and did not care much about the ordinary people. They did not wonder why it was that millions of Ukrainian citizens saw no prospects at home and went to other countries to work as day labourers. I would like to stress this: it was not some Silicon Valley they fled to, but to become day labourers. Last year alone almost 3 million people found such jobs in Russia. According to some sources, in 2013 their earnings in Russia totalled over $20 billion, which is about 12% of Ukraine’s GDP.

I would like to reiterate that I understand those who came out on Maidan with peaceful slogans against corruption, inefficient state management and poverty. The right to peaceful protest, democratic procedures and elections exist for the sole purpose of replacing the authorities that do not satisfy the people. However, those who stood behind the latest events in Ukraine had a different agenda: they were preparing yet another government takeover; they wanted to seize power and would stop short of nothing. They resorted to terror, murder and riots. Nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites executed this coup. They continue to set the tone in Ukraine to this day.

The new so-called authorities began by introducing a draft law to revise the language policy, which was a direct infringement on the rights of ethnic minorities. However, they were immediately ‘disciplined’ by the foreign sponsors of these so-called politicians. One has to admit that the mentors of these current authorities are smart and know well what such attempts to build a purely Ukrainian state may lead to. The draft law was set aside, but clearly reserved for the future. Hardly any mention is made of this attempt now, probably on the presumption that people have a short memory. Nevertheless, we can all clearly see the intentions of these ideological heirs of Bandera, Hitler’s accomplice during World War II.

It is also obvious that there is no legitimate executive authority in Ukraine now, nobody to talk to. Many government agencies have been taken over by the impostors, but they do not have any control in the country, while they themselves – and I would like to stress this – are often controlled by radicals. In some cases, you need a special permit from the militants on Maidan to meet with certain ministers of the current government. This is not a joke – this is reality.

Those who opposed the coup were immediately threatened with repression. Naturally, the first in line here was Crimea, the Russian-speaking Crimea. In view of this, the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol turned to Russia for help in defending their rights and lives, in preventing the events that were unfolding and are still underway in Kiev, Donetsk, Kharkov and other Ukrainian cities.

Naturally, we could not leave this plea unheeded; we could not abandon Crimea and its residents in distress. This would have been betrayal on our part.

First, we had to help create conditions so that the residents of Crimea for the first time in history were able to peacefully express their free will regarding their own future. However, what do we hear from our colleagues in Western Europe and North America? They say we are violating norms of international law. Firstly, it’s a good thing that they at least remember that there exists such a thing as international law – better late than never.

Secondly, and most importantly – what exactly are we violating? True, the President of the Russian Federation received permission from the Upper House of Parliament to use the Armed Forces in Ukraine. However, strictly speaking, nobody has acted on this permission yet. Russia’s Armed Forces never entered Crimea; they were there already in line with an international agreement. True, we did enhance our forces there; however – this is something I would like everyone to hear and know – we did not exceed the personnel limit of our Armed Forces in Crimea, which is set at 25,000, because there was no need to do so.

Next. As it declared independence and decided to hold a referendum, the Supreme Council of Crimea referred to the United Nations Charter, which speaks of the right of nations to self-determination. Incidentally, I would like to remind you that when Ukraine seceded from the USSR it did exactly the same thing, almost word for word. Ukraine used this right, yet the residents of Crimea are denied it. Why is that?

Moreover, the Crimean authorities referred to the well-known Kosovo precedent – a precedent our western colleagues created with their own hands in a very similar situation, when they agreed that the unilateral separation of Kosovo from Serbia, exactly what Crimea is doing now, was legitimate and did not require any permission from the country’s central authorities. Pursuant to Article 2, Chapter 1 of the United Nations Charter, the UN International Court agreed with this approach and made the following comment in its ruling of July 22, 2010, and I quote: “No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to declarations of independence,” and “General international law contains no prohibition on declarations of independence.” Crystal clear, as they say.

I do not like to resort to quotes, but in this case, I cannot help it. Here is a quote from another official document: the Written Statement of the United States America of April 17, 2009, submitted to the same UN International Court in connection with the hearings on Kosovo. Again, I quote: “Declarations of independence may, and often do, violate domestic legislation. However, this does not make them violations of international law.” End of quote. They wrote this, disseminated it all over the world, had everyone agree and now they are outraged. Over what? The actions of Crimean people completely fit in with these instructions, as it were. For some reason, things that Kosovo Albanians (and we have full respect for them) were permitted to do, Russians, Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in Crimea are not allowed. Again, one wonders why.

We keep hearing from the United States and Western Europe that Kosovo is some special case. What makes it so special in the eyes of our colleagues? It turns out that it is the fact that the conflict in Kosovo resulted in so many human casualties. Is this a legal argument? The ruling of the International Court says nothing about this. This is not even double standards; this is amazing, primitive, blunt cynicism. One should not try so crudely to make everything suit their interests, calling the same thing white today and black tomorrow. According to this logic, we have to make sure every conflict leads to human losses.

I will state clearly — if the Crimean local self-defence units had not taken the situation under control, there could have been casualties as well. Fortunately this did not happen. There was not a single armed confrontation in Crimea and no casualties. Why do you think this was so? The answer is simple: because it is very difficult, practically impossible to fight against the will of the people. Here I would like to thank the Ukrainian military – and this is 22,000 fully armed servicemen. I would like to thank those Ukrainian service members who refrained from bloodshed and did not smear their uniforms in blood.

Other thoughts come to mind in this connection. They keep talking of some Russian intervention in Crimea, some sort of aggression. This is strange to hear. I cannot recall a single case in history of an intervention without a single shot being fired and with no human casualties.

Colleagues,

Like a mirror, the situation in Ukraine reflects what is going on and what has been happening in the world over the past several decades. After the dissolutionof bipolarity on the planet, we no longer have stability. Key international institutions are not getting any stronger; on the contrary, in many cases, they are sadly degrading. Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right. They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle “If you are not with us, you are against us.” To make this aggression look legitimate, they force the necessary resolutions from international organisations, and if for some reason this does not work, they simply ignore the UN Security Council and the UN overall.

This happened in Yugoslavia; we remember 1999 very well. It was hard to believe, even seeing it with my own eyes, that at the end of the 20th century, one of Europe’s capitals, Belgrade, was under missile attack for several weeks, and then came the real intervention. Was there a UN Security Council resolution on this matter, allowing for these actions? Nothing of the sort. And then, they hit Afghanistan, Iraq, and frankly violated the UN Security Council resolution on Libya, when instead of imposing the so-called no-fly zone over it they started bombing it too.

There was a whole series of controlled “colour” revolutions. Clearly, the people in those nations, where these events took place, were sick of tyranny and poverty, of their lack of prospects; but these feelings were taken advantage of cynically. Standards were imposed on these nations that did not in any way correspond to their way of life, traditions, or these peoples’ cultures. As a result, instead of democracy and freedom, there was chaos, outbreaks in violence and a series of upheavals. The Arab Spring turned into the Arab Winter.

A similar situation unfolded in Ukraine. In 2004, to push the necessary candidate through at the presidential elections, they thought up some sort of third round that was not stipulated by the law. It was absurd and a mockery of the constitution. And now, they have thrown in an organised and well-equipped army of militants.

We understand what is happening; we understand that these actions were aimed against Ukraine and Russia and against Eurasian integration. And all this while Russia strived to engage in dialogue with our colleagues in the West. We are constantly proposing cooperation on all key issues; we want to strengthen our level of trust and for our relations to be equal, open and fair. But we saw no reciprocal steps.

On the contrary, they have lied to us many times, made decisions behind our backs, placed us before an accomplished fact.This happened with NATO’s expansion to the East, as well as the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders. They kept telling us the same thing: “Well, this does not concern you.” That’s easy to say.

It happened with the deployment of a missile defence system. In spite of all our apprehensions, the project is working and moving forward. It happened with the endless foot-dragging in the talks on visa issues, promises of fair competition and free access to global markets.

Today, we are being threatened with sanctions, but we already experiencemany limitations, ones that are quite significant for us, our economy and our nation. For example, still during the times of the Cold War, the US and subsequently other nations restricted a large list of technologies and equipment from being sold to the USSR, creating the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls list. Today, they have formally been eliminated, but only formally; and in reality, many limitations are still in effect.

In short, we have every reason to assume that the infamous policy of containment, led in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, continues today. They are constantly trying to sweep us into a cornerbecause we have an independent position, because we maintain it and because we call things like they are and do not engage in hypocrisy. But there is a limit to everything. And with Ukraine, our western partners have crossed the line, playing the bear and acting irresponsibly and unprofessionally.

After all, they were fully aware that there are millions of Russians living in Ukraine and in Crimea. They must have really lacked political instinct and common sense not to foresee all the consequences of their actions. Russia found itself in a position it could not retreat from. If you compress the spring all the way to its limit, it will snap back hard. You must always remember this.

Today, it is imperative to end this hysteria, to refute the rhetoric of the cold war and to accept the obvious fact: Russia is an independent, active participant in international affairs; like other countries, it has its own national interests that need to be taken into account and respected.

At the same time, we are grateful to all those who understood our actions in Crimea; we are grateful to the people of China, whose leaders have always consideredthe situation in Ukraine and Crimea taking into account the full historical and political context, and greatly appreciate India’s reserve and objectivity.

Today, I would like to address the people of the United States of America, the people who, since the foundation of their nation and adoption of the Declaration of Independence, have been proud to hold freedom above all else. Isn’t the desire of Crimea’s residents to freely choose their fate such a value? Please understand us.

I believe that the Europeans, first and foremost, the Germans, will also understand me. Let me remind you that in the course of political consultations on the unification of East and West Germany, at the expert, though very high level, some nations that were then and are now Germany’s allies did not support the idea of unification. Our nation, however, unequivocally supported the sincere, unstoppable desire of the Germans for national unity. I am confident that you have not forgotten this, and I expect that the citizens of Germany will also support the aspiration of the Russians, of historical Russia, to restore unity.

I also want to address the people of Ukraine. I sincerely want you to understand us: we do not want to harm you in any way, or to hurt your national feelings. We have always respected the territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state, incidentally, unlike those who sacrificed Ukraine’s unity for their political ambitions. They flaunt slogans about Ukraine’s greatness, but they are the ones who did everything to divide the nation. Today’s civil standoff is entirely on their conscience. I want you to hear me, my dear friends. Do not believe those who want you to fear Russia, shouting that other regions will follow Crimea. We do not want to divide Ukraine; we do not need that. As for Crimea, it was and remains a Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean-Tatar land.

I repeat, just as it has been for centuries, it will be a home to all the peoples living there. What it will never be and do is follow in Bandera’s footsteps!

Crimea is our common historical legacy and a very important factor in regional stability. And this strategic territory should be part of a strong and stable sovereignty, which today can only be Russian. Otherwise, dear friends (I am addressing both Ukraine and Russia), you and we – the Russians and the Ukrainians – could lose Crimea completely, and that could happen in the near historical perspective. Please think about it.

Let me note too that we have already heard declarations from Kiev about Ukraine soon joining NATO. What would this have meant for Crimea and Sevastopol in the future? It would have meant that NATO’s navy would be right there in this city of Russia’s military glory, and this would create not an illusory but a perfectly real threat to the whole of southern Russia. These are things that could have become reality were it not for the choice the Crimean people made, and I want to say thank you to them for this.

But let me say too that we are not opposed to cooperation with NATO, for this is certainly not the case. For all the internal processes within the organisation, NATO remains a military alliance, and we are against having a military alliance making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory. I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit NATO sailors. Of course, most of them are wonderful guys, but it would be better to have them come and visit us, be our guests, rather than the other way round.

Let me say quite frankly that it pains our hearts to see what is happening in Ukraine at the moment, see the people’s suffering and their uncertainty about how to get through today and what awaits them tomorrow. Our concerns are understandable because we are not simply close neighbours but, as I have said many times already, we are one people. Kiev is the mother of Russian cities. Ancient Rus is our common source and we cannot live without each other.

Let me say one other thing too. Millions of Russians and Russian-speaking people live in Ukraine and will continue to do so. Russia will always defend their interests using political, diplomatic and legal means. But it should be above all in Ukraine’s own interest to ensure that these people’s rights and interests are fully protected. This is the guarantee of Ukraine’s state stability and territorial integrity.

We want to be friends with Ukraine and we want Ukraine to be a strong, sovereign and self-sufficient country. Ukraine is one of our biggest partners after all. We have many joint projects and I believe in their success no matter what the current difficulties. Most importantly, we want peace and harmony to reign in Ukraine, and we are ready to work together with other countries to do everything possible to facilitate and support this. But as I said, only Ukraine’s own people can put their own house in order.

Residents of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, the whole of Russia admired your courage, dignity and bravery. It was you who decided Crimea’s future. We were closer than ever over these days, supporting each other. These were sincere feelings of solidarity. It is at historic turning points such as these that a nation demonstrates its maturity and strength of spirit. The Russian people showed this maturity and strength through their united support for their compatriots.

Russia’s foreign policy position on this matter drew its firmness from the will of millions of our people, our national unity and the support of our country’s main political and public forces. I want to thank everyone for this patriotic spirit, everyone without exception. Now, we need to continue and maintain this kind of consolidation so as to resolve the tasks our country faces on its road ahead.

Obviously, we will encounter external opposition, but this is a decision that we need to make for ourselves. Are we ready to consistently defend our national interests, or will we forever give in, retreat to who knows where? Some Western politicians are already threatening us with not just sanctions but also the prospect of increasingly serious problems on the domestic front. I would like to know what it is they have in mind exactly: action by a fifth column, this disparate bunch of ‘national traitors’, or are they hoping to put us in a worsening social and economic situation so as to provoke public discontent? We consider such statements irresponsible and clearly aggressive in tone, and we will respond to them accordingly. At the same time, we will never seek confrontation with our partners, whether in the East or the West, but on the contrary, will do everything we can to build civilised and good-neighbourly relations as one is supposed to in the modern world. 

Colleagues,

I understand the people of Crimea, who put the question in the clearest possible terms in the referendum: should Crimea be with Ukraine or with Russia? We can be sure in saying that the authorities in Crimea and Sevastopol, the legislative authorities, when they formulated the question, set aside group and political interests and made the people’s fundamental interests alone the cornerstone of their work. The particular historic, population, political and economic circumstances of Crimea would have made any other proposed option — however tempting it could be at the first glance — only temporary and fragile and would have inevitably led to further worsening of the situation there, which would have had disastrous effects on people’s lives. The people of Crimea thus decided to put the question in firm and uncompromising form, with no grey areas. The referendum was fair and transparent, and the people of Crimea clearly and convincingly expressed their will and stated that they want to be with Russia.

Russia will also have to make a difficult decision now, taking into account the various domestic and external considerations. What do people here in Russia think? Here, like in any democratic country, people have different points of view, but I want to make the point that the absolute majority of our people clearly do support what is happening.

The most recent public opinion surveys conducted here in Russia show that 95 percent of people think that Russia should protect the interests of Russians and members of other ethnic groups living in Crimea – 95 percent of our citizens. More than 83 percent think that Russia should do this even if it will complicate our relations with some other countries. A total of 86 percent of our people see Crimea as still being Russian territory and part of our country’s lands. And one particularly important figure, which corresponds exactly with the result in Crimea’s referendum: almost 92 percent of our people support Crimea’s reunification with Russia. 

Thus we see that the overwhelming majority of people in Crimea and the absolute majority of the Russian Federation’s people support the reunification of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol with Russia.

Now this is a matter for Russia’s own political decision, and any decision here can be based only on the people’s will, because the people is the ultimate source of all authority.

Members of the Federation Council, deputies of the State Duma, citizens of Russia, residents of Crimea and Sevastopol, today, in accordance with the people’s will, I submit to the Federal Assembly a request to consider a Constitutional Law on the creation of two new constituent entities within the Russian Federation: the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and to ratify the treaty on admitting to the Russian Federation Crimea and Sevastopol, which is already ready for signing. I stand assured of your support.

Sayyed Nasrallah: One Color Gov’t Rejected, US Taking Advantage of Protests

Source: Al-Manar

December 14, 2019

Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah

Sara Taha Moughnieh

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah tackled the latest internal developments in a speech he delivered Friday.

Dividing his speech into four parts, his eminence started with the US intervention in the Lebanese situation. Second, he covered the government formation file, third he talked about the security situation and finally he referred to the economic and social responsibility.

US Intervention

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that the US interferes in every movement that takes place in the world in order to divert the public demands to serve their own interests not the people’s interests.

“The Americans take the side of protests worldwide and express their support for their demands but in reality all the aid they offer is that which serves the US interests. This was the US role in the Arab Spring, Latin America, and East Asia, and this the US approach in general,” he said.

His eminence referred to US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft’s statement saying: “Craft talked about ongoing protests in Lebanon, Yemen, and any place which Iran is present in, not any place which has corruption. She also considered that strikes will continue if pressure did not bring results. The Americans regard the protests as means to put pressure on Iran.”

“The Americans assumed that the Lebanese protests are against Hezbollah and Iran, knowing that they did not propose anything like that. Their slogans were economic and righteous ones while the Americans assumed since the first day that they were public protests against Hezbollah… and Arab and international media tried portray that,” he added, noting that “US Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo called on the Lebanese to get rid of this obstacle called “Hezbollah” and the US is ready to help them with that.”

Sayyed Nasrallah asked: “Do the US and Israel want to help the Lebanese people or blackmail them? The US equation for the Lebanese is for the latter to abandon their strength element so that the US helps them… The US and Israel have failed for decades to solve the obstacle which the resistance formed, therefore they are trying to take advantage and blackmail the Lebanese to achieve that.”

In parallel, his eminence referred to “Israeli” statements which considered that this is a historic opportunity to weaken Hezbollah and to make an agreement with Lebanon on the oil and gas.

Sayyed Nasrallah assured that “Hezbollah is a great threat. A threat on US agendas and interests not on the Lebanese interests. In contrast, it is the defender of the Lebanese interests and dignity.”

His eminence further indicated that “the Israeli is building a wall on the border because the resistance left this issue to be dealt with by the Lebanese government. If the resistance spoke against that the Israeli would have thought a thousand times before taking this step. The same applies on the oil digging in the regional waters.”

Sayyed Nasrallah called on the Lebanese not to trust the US promises, noting: “look how the US left its allies in the middle of the crises and humiliated them. Look how the countries who submitted to the US role became regular countries after having had a great role in the world. They want us to abandon our power, independence, and sovereignty… but if the Lebanese cooperated, they are capable of getting out of this crisis.”

Fabrication of Iranian statement

Concerning the latest fabrication of a statement by an Iranian official in which he was quoted as saying that “Iran will respond to any attack on it, and the response will be from the Lebanese territories”, Sayyed Nasrallah assured that there are sides who seek to create tension and incite against Iran in order to put Hezbollah, the presidency and allies in a critical situation, and these sides fabricated this statement which is not true in any way.

His eminence said Hezbollah instantly contacted their Iranian allies to ask about the statement and the latter denied its existence to instantly issue a clarification after that.

In this context, Hezbollah SG indicated that “some think that if Iran was attacked it will refer to its allies to defend it, and let me correct this misconception and assure that Iran will defend itself by itself, it will not stay silent and will not accept to be defended by anyone… If its allies wanted to take action, that would be their own decision.”

Government formation

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that “Hezbollah was against the government resignation in the first place because the formation of a new government would take time and the economic and financial situation does not bear vacuum. Some considered that the resignation of the PM was a victory but in contrast, it was time wasting and instead of responding to the demands and initiating with the reformations people had to focus on the government formation.”

“The best case scenario would have been for the government to stay and the protests to continue and in that case many achievements would have been made,” he added.

“We are now in front of several choices, the first is a one color government which could get the highest number of votes in the parliament, and our political opponents were pushing toward that, while in our political team some supported it and others didn’t. We, as Hezbollah and Amal movement refused this choice because it poses danger on the country, besides that it contradicts the constitution. Just like we refused a one color government in the past and called for a unity government, we refuse it now even as we have become the majority. The current crisis requires everyone’s cooperation. The second choice is a one color government formed by the opposing political team, and we refuse that because the country’s situation is unbearable. The third and fourth choices are partnership governments which protest delegates take part in, I don’t know how this can happen as the latter was incapable of choosing a leadership or form a delegation to visit the president. The third choice is a partnership government headed by Saad Hariri and the fourth choice is a partnership government headed by someone else. The third choice was not implemented because Hariri put unacceptable conditions so we moved to the fourth choice and accepted all the PM names that were proposed by Hariri but this did not succeed. The third and fourth choices are still on table, what’s important is to form a government that could make reformations and just as we refused a government that does not include the Future Movement, we will refuse a government that does not include the Free Patriotic Movement.”

Security Situation

Sayyed Nasrallah saluted people for their patience on the road cutting which aimed at causing riots and dragging them into clashes, adding: I call for further patience as we are getting closer to the solution.

His eminence assured that some media outlets’ claims that Hezbollah and Amal movement were attacking protesters are not true and great efforts were made to control the street and absorb the anger.

Economic situation and social responsibility

Sayyed Nasrallah called for social solidarity in order to overcome this tough situation. He called upon business owners not to take advantage of this crisis to raise prices of their products but instead lower the prices and get little gains until we get over this phase. No one should manipulate or take advantage of anything related to people, from bread, medicine, fuel, etc… these must not be used as pressure tools.

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Sayyed Nasrallah: The US is Exploiting Lebanon’s Protests, No for One-Sided Gov’t

Sayyed Nasrallah: The US is Exploiting Lebanon’s Protests, No for One-Sided Gov’t

Zeinab Essa  

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered on Friday a speech in which he tackled the latest internal developments on the Lebanese level, particularly the formation of a new government.

Warning that Lebanon is passing through a sensitive moment regarding the formation of a new government, Sayyed Nasrallah clarified that “Whenever protests erupt in a certain country, we find the Americans quickly interfering and seeking to exploit these protests in a rude and clear way that serves their own interests and not those of the protesters.”

On this level, His Eminence explained that

“the Americans try to convince the world that they are orchestrating these protests, whether that is true or not. This is the case Latin America as well as in Hon Kong as well in the so-called Arab spring.”

Image result for kelly craft unHe cited the US envoy to the UN, Kelly Craft who said that the demonstrations will continue in Lebanon and Yemen and wherever Iran is and not in any place where there is corruption. “The Americans view the demonstrations as tools to pressure Iran.”

“Since the first day, the Americans assumed that these demonstrations reflect the Lebanese revolution against Hezbollah and the resistance’s resistance, and some Arab and Gulf media helped them in this, knowing that no one raised this issue,”

Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted noting, that

“The Americans are either deceiving themselves or the world, or some Lebanese are sending wrong and misleading reports.”

Commenting on the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statements on Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah recalled that

“Pompeo’s statements regarding the demonstrations claimed that the stalemate in Lebanon was caused by Hezbollah, and thus he called them to get rid of it.”

Slamming Pompeo’s statements as reflection of the US silly approach, His Eminence underscored that

“Pompeo’s statements reflect his pressure on Lebanon to remove Hezbollah from the state, which is impossible due to its popular presence. The US evaluation of the Lebanese protests  is wrong.”

“The American exploitation to the Lebanese demonstrations is clear, parallel to the “Israeli” consideration that what is happening in Lebanon forms an opportunity for them,” he highlighted, pointing out that

“Pompeo, with his comments, considers himself to be the mouthpiece and expresser of the Lebanese people’s opinion!”

In response to Pompeo, the Resistance Leader stressed that

“Hezbollah poses the first threat to “Israel” in the face of its ambitions as well as a threat to the schemes of the American hegemony in Lebanon and the region. Hezbollah never formed a threat to the interests of the Lebanese people, but rather a defender to their interests.”

“Both the Americans and the “Israelis” are practicing the policy of blackmail,” His Eminence warned, cautioning that “the American equation that they want to impose on the Lebanese people is ‘give up what preserves your sovereignty so that we help you’.”

To the Lebanese, Sayyed Nasrallah raised the following question:

“Do not believe the American promises. Draw lessons from the countries that surrendered to the US conditions. Have they overcome their financial woes?”

He also urged the Lebanese to be aware of and not to be affected by the US deceptive calls and incites pushing towards sedition and chaos. “Everyone who has a problem and is protesting should not allow the Americans to take advantage of his movement.”

“From the beginning, we did not agree on the government’s resignation because the country cannot tolerate a vacuum,” His Eminence stated, noting that “the government’s resignation has made matters worse on various levels. “It also paralyzed state institutions that should have been implementing reforms.”

Regarding the recent fabrications, Sayyed Nasrallah revealed that

“Some Gulf countries are fabricating statements attributed to Iranian officials. The IRGC  general mentioned nothing about Lebanon in his statement. Some parties are fabricating statements attributed to Iranian officials in order to embarrass some Lebanese parties.”

“Iran itself will respond to those who attack it [whether the US or “Israel”] and it will not depend on its allies,” he added.

Back to the Lebanese internal scene, His Eminence declared: “Forming a government of one color requires courage, but the risks and ramifications have been studied. We in Hezbollah and the brothers in Amal Movement are against a one-color government. In parallel, Sayyed Nasrallah wondered:

“If a one-color government is formed in light of the existing situation, the situation will get worse and how can it deal with a crisis with this level of danger?”

He reminded that “The National Pact forbids the formation of a one-sided government.”

“The consultations are supposed to take place Monday and we hope a PM-designate will be named,” he went on to say, predicting that

“The formation of the government won’t be an easy process. After the designation of a PM, we will talk about the line-up and we would negotiate and cooperate with the PM-designate to form the government.”

According to Sayyed Nasrallah, “The solution to the current crisis is cooperation and concessions to save the country.”

He once again explained that

“Hezbollah had no objection on a government headed by PM Saad Hariri. However, he proposed inappropriate conditions. A reformist government does not necessarily mean a technocrat government.”

In addition, he announced that Hezbollah insists on the Free Patriotic Movement’s representation in the government as no party should be eliminated. “The parliamentary blocs have not yet agreed on a PM’s name and the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc is to unveil its position on Monday.”

On the same level, His Eminence urged “The caretaker government to shoulder its responsibilities regarding the economic situation.”

Calling on the Lebanese army and its leadership to accelerate the opening of any road that is being cut, Sayyed Nasrallah reiterated that

“blocking the roads during the protests put people at risk as some seek chaos and clashes.”

Once again, His Eminence called on supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal movement to control nerves, and be patient so not to be drawn to any tension. “On the security level, the Lebanese have so far acted with responsibly. We, God willing, are nearing the end.”

Regarding the social aspect of the economic crisis, Sayyed Nasrallah urged “People to come together socially and to show solidarity with each other.”

To whoever is taking advantage of the situation and raising profits, His Eminence said:

“Now the situation needs everyone’s solidarity. And if the country collapses, everyone will be severely affected. Everything that has to do with the lives of the people from bread to gasoline and medicine shouldn’t be manipulated.”

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Quo Vadis, Lebanon?

Global Research, December 03, 2019

Good bye, Lebanon, metaphorically and truly.

Good bye to a country which, many believe, actually has already ceased to exist.

For five long years I have been commuting between the Asia Pacific and the Middle East.And Beirut, for all that time, was one of my homes.

I arrived in Beirut when the situation in the region was beginning to be unbearable; when destabilized, tortured Syria commenced losing its children in large numbers. They were forced to leave their homeland, heading for Beirut and the Beqaa Valley, and in fact, to all parts of the world. I arrived when Syrian refugees were freezing to death, exploited and brutalized in ancient, godforsaken villages lost in the deep, lawless Lebanese valleys.

I was not supposed to write about it, but I did. I was not supposed to see what I saw. It was the UN’s shame, a well-hidden and well covered one, obscured by technical jargon. Refugees were not called refugees, and camps were not really officially registered as camps. What you had clearly seen with your own eyes, you were told, was actually totally something else. But it wasn’t. Eyes hardly lie.

Lebanon’s mirages, sandcastles and myths. If you live here, they surround you, suffocate you, choke you, all the time.

I arrived when the Palestinians began rebelling inside the horrific camps; hopeless, monstrous places where tens of thousands of human beings have been forced to live, for decades, without help, with hardly any rights.

And I left when the country collapsed. When the gap between the haves and have nots reached such enormous proportions, that it often began to appear that there were actually two different countries, even universes, on the same tiny geographical territory that is called Lebanon.

*

But before I left, there was an uprising.

Of course, periodically, there are rebellions here, which are misleadingly called “revolutions”. The“revolution” of 2005, of 2015, and now again, in 2019.

I worked in the center of Beirut, in the squares packed with the protesters. I tried to understand, to analyze, to find context.

And what did I witness? Huge clenched fists, those of the Serbian “Otpor”, a CIA-Serbian (extreme right-wing) ‘organization’, which forced the government of Slobodan Milosevic out of power, and which later infiltrated and destroyed genuine revolts all over the Middle East; revolts cynically called by the Western mass media – “Arab Spring”.

I actually saw many signs of Otpor, a sister group of Canvas, and when I asked protesters in Beirut whether they knew what these organizations represented, they replied that “no”, they didn’t but “they’d definitely ask their designers”.

There was a lot of waving of flags, plenty of singing, and even dancing. Rebellion Lebanese-style. One big party. Smiles, laughter, even when things get desperate.

Protesters have many grievances, and they are willing to discuss them, openly: corruption, hardship, almost non-existent social services, and hardly any future.

But do not look for any signs of ideology here, in 2019: this is not a communist, or even a socialist, rebellion, although historically, Lebanon has vibrant socialist and communist movements, both of them.

One thing is certain: protesters “do not like ‘elites’”, but you will search in vain for slogans denouncing capitalism; something that is so common in Chile and of course, in Bolivia (but not in Hong Kong, where the riots are clearly backed by the West and by some local ‘elites’).

Protesters do not like electricity blackouts, water shortages, filth accumulated everywhere because of the failed garbage collection and recycling. The protesters hate the high prices, and traffic jams.

But what do they want, really?

*

They want a “better Lebanon”. But what is that?

A Lebanon free of racism, for instance? No, I never saw any signs denouncing racism.

When I first began living here, I was horrified by the bigotry of the locals.

A driver working for one of the UN agencies, did not even try to hide his ‘beliefs’:

“The Turkish nation has improved. In the past, they only screwed Asian women, and as a result, they all looked like dogs. After they conquered the Balkans, and began screwing European women, their stock got better.” 

Arriving at Rafik Hariri International Airport, I often saw humiliated Philippine, Ethiopian, or Kenyan women, locked in crowded rooms, guarded by Lebanese security forces. They looked like slaves, treated like meat. Unhurriedly, their “owners” would come to fetch them, signing release papers, leading them away.

The abuse of domestic workers in Lebanon is horrific; torture, rape and death are common. Foreign workers are regularly committing suicide. While there is hardly any legal protection for them.

Is this going to change? Are protesters demanding a “better Lebanon” which would once and for all finish with this sort of discrimination?Again, I have never heard about such demands.

And what has been sustaining Lebanon, financially, for decades?

All over West Africa, unscrupulous, racist and brutal Lebanese businesspeople have been exploiting local folks, while plundering natural resources. The things that I heard in Ivory Coast, would shock even the most hardened readers. But are there any slogans in Beirut demanding theplunder of West Africa stop?

Another fabled source of income are the narcotics, grown and processed in the Beqaa Valley. If it were to be marijuana, who cares? But Lebanon is producing heroin and cocaine, but above all, so-called “combat drugs”, including Captagon, which is used on the battlefields of Syria and Yemen. Captagonis regularly smuggled out of the country by the Saudis, and used in jihadi operations, as I have reported.

Is this going to end? Are Lebanese protesters demanding a “better Lebanon” without drugs that are helping to kill and torture tens of thousands of innocent people, all over the region?

What are the other sources of income here? Banking, of course. Banks that operate all over the Middle East, and the Gulf.

And, of course, “foreign aid”. Aid which is supposed to “help the immigrants”, as well as the poor Lebanese who are “suffering from the waves of refugees”, arrivingfrom countries destabilized by the West. These funds regularly disappear, fully or partially”,into the deep pockets of the Lebanese elites, who make sure to generate profits no matter what: when the refugees keep arriving, and even when they leave.

Before I departed, I spent one week wandering all around Beirut, day and night, searching foranswers, looking for signs that the protesters were really determined to change the country. Not just for themselves, but for everyone in Lebanon, and for the entire Arab world.

I encountered too many abstract slogans, most of them of Western origin. Not even a trace of Syrian Pan-Arabism. Nothing that would even remotely resemble internationalism. This was clearly a “European-style” rebellion.

*

As always, the Lebanese security forces were intimidating me and many others.

Coming to Martyr’s Square, at night, I only pointed the lens of my camera in the direction of a group of lazy, cynical looking soldiers, and it propelled them immediately into action. They tried to force me to delete the images, to apologize. I did not budge. I had no problem photographing police in Hong Kong, or in Paris, Chile or other places. And I have had enough, after 5 years here, of these inept and arrogant brutes.

But here, the armed forces are “unique”; not much is expected from them. It is Hezbollah which comes to the rescue of Lebanon whenever it is attacked by Israel. Hezbollah fighters are well trained, and they are disciplined. While the Lebanese army (and its various “forces”) is manned by those who cannot find a decent job. If it protects somebody or something, it is the Lebanese regime, sustained by the West and Saudi Arabia.

I refused to hand over my phones and cameras to them.

Arrest me,” I offered, extending both my hands.

They did not. It would be too much effort, and paperwork.

Later, the protesters hugged me:

“It is great that you did not surrender your material to them. You see, if it was us, the Lebanese, they would beat us up, and smash our cameras.” 

A lady protester added:

“You never know what they are hiding, but they are hiding something, always. Perhaps they did not want the world to see how lazy they are. They stand here, in clusters, doing nothing, chatting. Then, when they get tired of doing nothing, they mobilize and attack us. They are unpredictable.”

A couple of months ago, during the short conflict between Israel and Lebanon (Israeli drone attack and Hezbollah retaliation), I managed to drive to the border, as I had on several previous occasions.

Almost the entire defense of Lebanon has been resting on the shoulders of Hezbollah, with UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) troops, consisting of Indonesian, South Korean, Italian, Ghanaian and others forces, patrolling the frontier in armored vehicles, and providing mostly psychological deterrence from the large fortified bases, including the one at Naqoura.

Lebanese armed forces have very little ability to defend their country. That includes the Lebanese Air Force, which mainly counts on things that could be described as toy airplanes, with converted Cessna models.

Now, theLebanese army and police are facing and confronting their own people, protecting the regime in Beirut, as well as foreign, mainly Western and Saudi, interests.

*

But back to the main question which is, surprisingly, very rarely asked by the Western mass media outlets: “What do Lebanese people really want? What is the goal of the uprising?”

Rebellion began on October 17, against proposed tax on WhatsApp calls. It soon turned into call for resignation of the entire government; call for total overhaul of the Lebanese system. Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, resigned. Others stayed, but country has been paralyzed for weeks.

Some Lebanese call what is happening on the streets of Beirut, Tripoli and other cities, an “October Revolution”, but in reality, this uprising has very little to do with the iconic Russian Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

However, one positive thing is that many Lebanese people are now calling for direct democracy, and for a people’s parliament.

Alessandra Bajec recently wrote for The New Arab newspaper:

“Protests and strikes are not the only nationwide thing dominating Lebanon. Open discussions held by groups of citizens is the latest phenomenon happening on the streets of Lebanon. 

A series of open discussions led by a variety of groups of citizens are held daily around Lebanon helping to feed the hearts and minds of the revolutionary movement since the start of the country’s so-called “October Revolution”. 

I witnessed those gatherings in Beirut. It is an impressive idea, in a way far more advanced than what has been observed in Europe, during the recent protests in France and elsewhere.

It is clear that Lebanese rebels have had enough of the sectarian politics, of savage capitalism (although, this is not being pronounced as such), and of the endemic corruption.

For decades, after the devastating Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), thecountry remained bitterly divided. Again, it is actually something that is not supposed to be discussed, even mentioned, but allegiances in this nation of (officially) 4.4 million, have been commonly pledged toreligious leaders and movements, and not to the state.

David Morrison wrote in Labor & Trade Union Review:

“Lebanon’s political system has a uniquely confessional character, which has its origin in the National Pact of 1943.  Under this unwritten Pact, the President of the Republic must be a Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the President (Speaker) of the Parliament a Shiite Muslim. 

What is more, 50% of the 128 seats in the Parliament are allocated to Christians, and 50% to Muslims, and these allocations are further sub-divided for Christian and Muslim sects.  In total, seats are allocated to each of 18 sects.  Nationally, the 64 Christian seats are allocated as follows: Maronite 34, Greek Orthodox 14, Greek Catholic 8, Armenian Orthodox 5, Armenian Catholic 1, Protestant 1 and Others 1; and the 64 Muslim seats are allocated as follows: Sunni 27, Shiite 27, Druze 8 and Alawite 2. 

So, in total Christians have 50% of the seats, and the Sunni and Shiite communities just over 20% each. 

There was no provision in the National Pact for altering these allocations to reflect demographic changes.  And there is still none today.  These allocations may have corresponded to the proportion of each sect in the electorate at one time, but they certainly don’t today.  But it’s impossible to say with any precision what they should be, since there hasn’t been a national census since 1932.  This is a very sensitive issue within Lebanon, an issue that has the potential to trigger civil conflict.” 

Naturally, this sclerotic and stale system of secretive divides and coalitions, led to outrageous corruption. Religious and family clans managed to amass tremendous wealth, while enjoying almost absolute impunity.

Discussing sensitive political issues with various Lebanese protesters and activists in 2015 (“You Stink” movement), as well as during the recent uprising of 2019, I came to the clear understanding that most of the educated protesters (and Lebanon is without any doubt one of the most educated nations in the Arab world), have been totally rejecting the sectarian system. In fact, they were thoroughly disgusted with it.

As early as in 2015, one of the main demands was to “unite Lebanon”; to make sure that it gets governed by people elected based on their virtues and excellence, instead of religious beliefs.

Particularly young people have had enough of those escapes to Cyprus (in order to get married), if a couple belonged to two different religions, or if one or both individuals had no religion at all. They were revolted by the fact that their child could no be registered in their own country, if there was no official Lebanese marriage certificate.

And most of the people I spoke to, understood that the shocking lack of transparency on which the Lebanese regime has been thriving, only serves those very few extremely rich individuals and families. The economy of the country is shattered, debt is at 150% GDP, basically unserviceable, and the divide between the rich and poor, monstrous. For millions, leaving the country became the only option. But luxury marinas are full of lavish yachts, while Maserati sport cars and Range Rover SUVs are parked all over the capital, in front of luxury restaurants and bars.

The Lebanese revolutionaries are organizing open discussions, but that is not all – they want a totally new political system.

The problem is, they are not sure, which one.

But, they are certain that by holding open forums and public meetings,they will, eventually, find out what precisely it is they want.

Alessandra Bajec continues witha description of direct-democracy groups:

Rachad Samaha, a social activist and core member of the free discussions group adds, “We were talking among ourselves about how we could be more involved in the revolution… not just by joining protests, but through helping to bring people together to discuss issues that we are all fighting against. We can then reach some common ground.” 

Centering such group discussions over the need to change the current political system, and put an end to sectarianism, and possible ways to fix the country’s rapidly declining economy has been the leading drive for prompting exchanges of views between people from within the largest protest movement. 

The major matters of national concern voiced by citizens taking part in the talks include the accelerating economic crisis, the embezzlement of public funds, the decades-long ruling political elites who are being held responsible for the deepening crisis, and the confessional system, where power is divided among sects and has created patronage networks and clientelism at the detriment of the population.” 

All this is true. But this is Lebanon, the Middle East, where nothing is really simple.

Here, the West has a tremendous influence, and so do the best allies of Washington in the region, the Saudis. All this money ‘wasted’, all that eye-closing, simply ought to have guaranteed certain allegiances.

Under the surface, the West, Israel and Saudi Arabia are all after Iran, and Iran is allied with Hezbollah, and Hezbollah is the only true and powerful social force in Lebanon, where almost everything public has been already privatized, or stolen, or both.

Hezbollah is also the only true protection that Lebanon has, against Israel. While the West does not want anyone to be protected against Israel.

Predictably, Hezbollah is on the “terrorist list” of the United States, and on the lists of several of its allies.

Hezbollah had a strategic alliance with the previous government of Hariri, who resigned several weeks ago (and Hezbollah was warning against pushing for the collapse of the government, and even tried to clear the roadblocks erected by the protesters).

Now, what will really happen if the protesters win? Who will be benefiting? What if the old regime collapses; what if there is no more Hezbollah, and no more protection against the “Southern Neighbor”?

*

What kind of Lebanon can replace this present, terribly inefficient, even brutal and corrupt state?

If you are in Achrafieh neighborhood, the richest place in Lebanon, where the old Christian money resides, you would be told, by many, things that you would most likely not want to hear.

You’d be “explained” that Lebanon was supposed to be a Christian country, that the French created it as the only Christian state in the Middle East. You would hear Palestinians being insulted, horribly, and you would see posters of extreme-right-wing political leaders.

Once, there, I had a haircut, and an old barber parted with me, by raising his right hand into the air, and shouting: “Heil Hitler!” (After that, I quickly switched to a Syrian barber).

A neighbor once told me:

“French imperialism? Oh, but we would love to have the French back! That would be brilliant, to be colonized by them, again, no?” 

It was not a joke. He meant it. Each and every word, that he uttered.

These things are not supposed to be written about, at least not in the mainstream press. But this is not the mainstream press, and I believe that without understanding these nuances, it is impossible to understand Lebanon, and what could happen if the revolution wins.

Who is singing and dancing at the center of Beirut? Who is demanding for the resignation of the entire regime? Are these mainly Christians or Muslims? I am not sure. Judging by the number of headscarves, most likely, the majority are not Muslim. But again, I am not sure. This is not a question that one can present, to the protesters.

This is definitely not a revolution that would advance the interests of the Muslim-socialist Iran. And the same could be said about what is going on, simultaneously, in Iraq.

Can Western-backed “secularism” convert Lebanon into a Western outpost in the Middle East? Could it further hurt, even damage, Syria? Theoretically, yes. Could it hurt the interests of non-Western, anti-imperialist countries like Russia and China? Most definitely.

Is that what is happening? Could this be another shade of the “Color Revolutions”, or a continuation of the so-called Arab Spring?

No one can answer these questions, yet. But the situation has to be monitored, extremely carefully. Given the history of Lebanon, given its position in the world, its political and economic orientation, as well as education, the country can go either way. Given the choice, people could opt for a socialist state, or of returning to the Western colonial realm.

The West is doing all it can to bring Lebanon into its orbit. The clenched fists of Otpor are clear proof and warning of it. It is a well documented fact, that Canvashas been operating here at least since 2005.

 

*

Leaving Beirut, at the gate, I was once again stopped by anofficer of the security forces. He was rude. They always search for Israeli stamps or for exit stamps, or something, in the passports. And I had enough of him. Here, at Rafik Hariri, I saw them, for years, humiliating Ethiopian women, crushing Syrians, while treating like gods, white visitors from Europe and the United States.

“Why not fight Israelis, instead of women and children?” I suggested to him, grinning.

And all hell broke loose. And they dragged me away from the gate. And the giant Boeing 777-300 had to wait, as Air France refused to back down and download my luggage and leave me behind.

They called some generals back in Beirut. They were jumping around, shouting something, bluffing. I couldn’t care one single bit. My work here was finished. In Paris, I had nine days to kill, writing, before departing for South America. Waiting there, or in some filthy jail in Lebanon, made very little difference to me. I would have liked to be in Damascus, but my visa had already expired. So, I just waited.

In the end, they let me go. Prisoners who are not scared, are not fun to hold.

The airplane maneuvered towards the runway, then the engines roared, and we took off. Halas.

My memory cards are holding hours of footage from all corners of Lebanon. I was not sure what will I do with it.

Above all, I was not sure what the Lebanese will do with their own country.

A giant clenched fist was stickingout from the Martyr’s Square. Was this a foreign implant, a well-planned sabotage, or a genuine symbol of resistance?

On Independence Day, the fist was burned down, destroyed. Vandals!, screamed foreign media. I am not sure: this is extremely complex country.

The country was collapsing. Perhaps it has already collapsed. People were talking, shouting, singing. Some were living in dire misery. Others were driving Ferraris and torturing imported maids.

The country has been desperately trying to go forward. But forward could mean many, many different directions. In Lebanon, for each person, for each group: forward is towards somewhere else!

*

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Andre Vltchek

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, and a writer that penned a number of books, including China and Ecological Civilization. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published.

All images in this article are from the author

Assad to Paris Match: France Should Return to International Law

 

Syrian President Bashar Assad interview Paris Match
Syrian President Dr. Bashar al Assad explained that France needs to return to International Law, in Paris Match interview.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad received Régis Le Sommier in Damascus, for one of those rare interviews given to western journalists whose countries engage in war crimes against Syria. Le Sommier, co-editor of the Paris Match weekly, immediately reminded Dr. Assad of their meeting in November 2014. He did, however, show some decency by not mentioning his book, Assad, based on the earlier interview, and about which Paris Match once remarked, How can a journalist face up to a tyrant? Exclude him from his scope of investigation? Or approach him, try to grasp his mechanics? The question arises regularly at the whim of the dictators who parade at the head of certain states. 

It is fascinating to view the derivative outcomes of these “rare” interviews. Le Sommier created a book, published in 2018. In May 2013, Marcelo Cantelmi used his ‘rare interview’ to launch a scathing attack on Syria and its President al Assad, before releasing dribbles of the interview, over a few days. In January 2015, Foreign Affairs managing editor, Jonathan Tepperman, used his rare interview to also launch a series of anti-Syria propaganda reports — including his complaints that the presidential palace was not bullet-ridden, and rat-infested — via his report on the interview and his being interviewed about the interview…weeks before the actual interview was published.

Le Sommier was discreet enough not to mention Paris Match‘s sweet report on Belgian Michel, armed terrorist in Syria, who returned home to a more simple life as a baker’s assistant. It is possible that Belgian Michel would be a household deity in the western world, had it not been for those annoying terrorist attacks in Paris, mere weeks after that interview.

weapons-crimes-against-syria
Shortly before the attacks in France, Paris Match ran a lovely report on Belgian Michel’s life after returning from ”fighting’ in the SAR

On 27 November, Paris Match published its “exclusive” interview, except the fine print noted it was only exclusive “excerpts.” The bottom of the excerpted interview contains a clear warning, Toute reproduction interdite.

These excerpts shockingly missed significant points made by President Assad: France needs to turn to the standards of International Law; Erdogan is immorally threatening blackmail against Europe; terrorists against the Syrian state are subject to Syrian law.

It is a breach of International Law for one or more countries to arm an insurrection against another country. It is a breach of International Law to engage in military aggression against any country, except in self-defense. It is a breach of International Law for any country to deploy its military into another country, without that country’s explicit invitation.

Syrian President Bashar Assad interview Paris Match
President Assad tutors Le Sommier in International Law, 20 November 2019.

The bottom of the Paris Match excerpts contains a clear warning, Toute reproduction interdite. One might wonder if this prohibition is a Kafkaesque authorization for other media to engage in monkey dung flinging journalism, as one of the UK tabloids immediately did.

Daily Mail flung its dung in one of the most outrageous headlines since the NATO Spring was dumped into Syria: Jihadis face execution without trial in Syrian jails as Assad says foreign ISIS members will be hanged. Nowhere in the Paris Match interview does Dr. Assad say such a thing. He says, We have courts specialized in terrorism and they will be prosecuted.

Daily Mail continues to fling more dung, hitting peak colonialism in wailing about the Brit terrorist John Letts being stuck in an overcrowded jail — poor baby, let us wail for him and ignore the UK’s part in dumping their human garbage into Syria, shall we?

UK, US Holding Tabqa Dam Hostage in Syrian Negotiations?
English terrorist, John Letts, at Syria’s Tabqa Dam.

Continuing with its coprophilia journalism, Daily Mail reached back in, and flung even more, this time in the form of the Saydnaya overcrowded, “torture” jail, as Syria is that paradoxical Utopia where there are no actual criminals, but the prisons are overflowing, nonetheless.

image-saydnaya prison
The Saydnaya Prison building.

The following is the transcript of the Paris Match Le Sommier interview with Syria’s President Bashar al Assad:

Question 1:  Good morning.  I met you five years ago, specifically in November 2014.  At that time, your government controlled only a third of the country.  Today, your army has returned to the border regions with Turkey.  Do you feel that you have won the war?

President Assad:  Let’s be precise, it is not my war to win or lose.  The narrative pushed by the West is: the war of the President who wants to remain in office; while in fact, it is a national war – the Syrians’ war against terrorism.

You are correct in your statement that we have made significant progress in this war, since we last met, but that doesn’t mean that we have won.  We will win when terrorism is eliminated.  It is still present in certain areas in the north, and what is more dangerous is that support for this terrorism still continues from Turkey, and from Western countries – whether it’s the United States, Britain, or France.  That’s why it is too early to talk about victory.

Question 2:  Do you really think that France continues to support terrorism?

President Assad:  Definitely; in previous periods, they were supplying weapons.  This may have changed in the previous months, or last year, but let’s put things into perspective: when French forces come to Syria without an invitation from the legitimate government, this is occupation.  There’s no real difference between supporting terrorism and providing military forces to occupy a country.  It is the same context, but with different titles.

Intervention:  But the French came to support the Kurds who were fighting ISIS.  That was their mission.

President Assad:  But, can we send Syrian forces to fight terrorism in France, without the request of the French government?!  Globally, states are governed by international law, not by their intentions.  It is not enough to have the desire to fight terrorism; there are international rules for fighting terrorism, and of course, here, I am presuming that there are good intentions.  However, we do not believe that there are good intentions.  The Syrian government is fighting ISIS, why wasn’t it supported?  And why does the French government fight ISIS and yet support al-Nusra, when in fact they are both terrorist organisations?!

Question 3:  Perhaps you are referring to the period when Hollande was President of the Republic.  Actually, the French Foreign Minister, Fabius, himself said at a certain point that you do not deserve to remain alive.  What is the position now with Emmanuel Macron?  Have you felt a change in the French position?

President Assad:  In form yes, in substance no.  When there is occupation, it is one form of terrorism.; we need to acknowledge this fact.  We need to talk about change in substance not in form.  We are not interested in statements, but with action on the ground.

Question 4: How do you want change to happen on the ground?

President Assad:  Simply, by going back to international law.  We do not ask the French government for anything; we do not ask for political, economic, or security assistance.  We don’t need them, and we are capable of managing our own affairs in Syria.  But we want them to return to the international order, which doesn’t exist at the moment.

Today, there is international chaos.  We don’t want them to support the President, this is of no concern to me; it doesn’t concern us if they say he is good or bad, this is also a Syrian matter.  But what we do demand is that they stop supporting everything that could cause more bloodshed, killing, and suffering in Syria.

Question 5:  France faces a real problem related to the Jihadists in Syria.  Do you have Jihadists in your prisons?

President Assad:  Regardless of nationalities, this is a matter for the competent authorities who have the statistics.  But in any case, if there are Jihadists, they are subject to Syrian laws.

Intervention:  But you should know if there are French nationals in your prisons?

President Assad:  I don’t have any statistics.  For us, terrorists are terrorists, whether they were French or Syrian.

Question 6:  If you signed an agreement with the Kurdish “People’s Protection Units,” and the army entered that region and restored all this land, you’ll find that there are prisons, and in these prisons, there are 400 French Jihadists.  What are you going to do with them?

President Assad:  Every terrorist in the areas controlled by the Syrian state will be subject to Syrian law, and Syrian law is clear concerning terrorism.  We have courts specialized in terrorism and they will be prosecuted.

Intervention:  So, you don’t intend to repatriate them to Europe as Recep Tayyip Erdogan has done, for instance?

President Assad:  Erdogan is trying to blackmail Europe.  A self-respecting man doesn’t talk like this.  There are institutions and there are laws.  Extraditing terrorists or any convicted person to another state is subject to bilateral agreements between countries; but to release people from prison knowing that they are terrorists and sending them to other countries to kill civilians – this is an immoral act.

Question 7:  Going back to the ongoing conflict, eight years of war, the country devastated, whole cities destroyed, half the population are displaced or refugees, and hundreds of thousands of deaths.  Do you acknowledge that you wouldn’t have won this conflict or this war without Russian or Iranian support?

President Assad:  War is tough and not easy, and we are not a superpower.  We have been fighting against the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world.  Logically, there is no doubt that the support of our friends has reduced losses and helped us regain our territories.

If we are to ask, whether Syria would have, without this support, gone towards partition or full defeat?  This is a hypothetical question now, because sometimes it is difficult to predict the result of a tennis match involving two players, let alone a war with tens of players and hundreds of thousands of fighters!

Question 8: Have you thought, for a single moment during this war, of leaving, going into exile, for instance?

President Assad:  In fact I haven’t, for a simple reason: the option neither existed nor was it considered, it was only suggested by Western officials.  As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t exist and it doesn’t concern me.  I would not consider this option unless it was suggested by the Syrian people, and when I say the Syrian people, I mean the majority.  I do not mean a terrorist minority, nor a minority hatched up by foreign intelligence services, nor a minority of those who demonstrated because they were paid to do so by Qatar.  This option was never suggested by the majority and that’s why I remained.

Question 9: But militarily, al-Nusra Front reached places only a few kilometers from your residence in 2013, to al-Abbasiyeen neighborhood, al-Abbasiyeen Square.

President Assad:  That’s true. Damascus remained almost besieged for years, sometimes completely, sometimes partially; shells were falling on us on a daily basis.  This in itself was a greater motive for me to remain and defend my country, not to flee.  I am doing my constitutional duty in defending the people against terrorism.

Question 10:  Now, let’s talk about reconstruction.  It is said that reconstruction will cost 300 or 400 billion Dollars.  Do you have a plan to get the people out of this conundrum, despite the embargo and the sanctions imposed on you which actually harm the people and increase their suffering?

President Assad:  This is absolutely true. Nevertheless, some of our industries have expanded, not the other way around. The pharmaceutical sector, for instance, has expanded.  As to rebuilding what has been destroyed, you can visit Aleppo, which had suffered large-scale destruction at the hands of terrorists, and year-on-year, you can see a difference and that the state is rebuilding the city together with its population.

Intervention:  But the Syrian Pound is in very bad shape, at an all-time low, and you need to find foreign investment.  Does China, for instance, and other countries want to invest?

President Assad:  Most recently, in the past six months, some companies have started to come to invest in Syria.  Of course, foreign investment remains slow in these circumstances, but there are ways to circumvent the sanctions, and we have started to engage with these companies, and they will come soon to invest.  But this doesn’t mean that the investment and reconstruction process is going to be quick, I am realistic about this.

Intervention: What are your estimates, how many years?

President Assad: This depends on how many years the embargo will continue, and the methods it will use.  It also depends on Syrians returning from other countries, which they are starting to do so gradually.  It’s difficult to give an answer to this question, but of course, it is a process that will be on-going for years.

Question 11: How many Syrians have returned to Syria?

President Assad:  Over a million Syrians in less than a year, and the process is accelerating, particularly after Damascus and the southern region and its environs were liberated.  Of course, the return of Syrians is also related to rebuilding the infrastructure and the availability of other services, like electricity, schools, and hospitals; regrettably, these three sectors have been the worst-affected by the embargo.  Furthermore, there is Western pressure for refugees not to return to Syria, for them, this is a humanitarian card which can be used to achieve political objectives.

Question 12:  A large number of immigrants left the country because they opposed you, and because they suffered from the atrocities of the army.  How can you invite them back?  How do you encourage them to come back?  Would they be covered by a general amnesty, for instance?

President Assad:  First, most of them are supporters of the state and not the opposite.  The evidence of this was the presidential elections which they took part in 2014 and voted for the President.  The largest number immigrated because of the war itself and its economic consequences, so there is no problem with their return; these people can return normally and without an amnesty.  Others are dissidents who have not committed any crimes and there is no warrant for them, the fact that they oppose me is not an issue, since we have dissidents within Syria and we are constantly engaging with them.

With regards to the amnesty, we have granted amnesties more than once, most recently a few months ago, because some people fear returning without an amnesty and believe that they will be arrested; although only those who carried weapons are arrested, and even those have been pardoned.

Syrian President Bashar Assad interview Paris Match
President Assad and reporter Le Sommier were in the same room, on the same planet, despite what some monkey dung flinging journals might infer.

Question 13: Last year, when al-Ghouta returned to government control, I went there and met some young rebels who carried weapons.  The Syrian officers were asking them to hand in their weapons and that they will not be harmed.  Their response was: you want us to give up our weapons because you want us to join the army, and we don’t want to.  They left to Idleb.  What’s your take on that?

President Assad:  In actual fact, some of those who went to Idleb left their families with us (government-controlled areas) and we are taking care of them; if they were afraid, they would not leave their families. This is the first point, the second, is that there are some militants who went to Idleb but later returned to our side. They asked and we allowed them to return. They received an amnesty, because the majority of them were told that the army will kill you. This happened of course when they were isolated from the state for seven years, but when the army went into al-Ghouta, normalcy was restored, and people now live a normal life. We must realise that some of them were fighting not because they were extremists, but they had no other choice: either to fight with the terrorists or to be killed. They are returning to us gradually after the felt reassured.

Question 14:  Today, there are numerous demonstrations in Iran, and the same in Lebanon and Iraq.  And all those demonstrators are asking for dignity and for wealth not to be concentrated in the hands of the few in their country.  Wasn’t that the case of the demonstrators who went out at the beginning of the Syrian crisis?

President Assad:  If we want to talk about the banners that were being pushed – like dignity, freedom, and others, they can be beautiful masks but what lies behind them is ugly.  Let me give you some examples:  Bush killed a million and a half Iraqis under the pretext of democracy; Sarkozy contributed to killing hundreds of thousands of Libyans under the pretext of freedom for the Libyan people; and today, France, Britain, and America are violating international law under the pretext of supporting the Kurds, who are a part of the Syrian population, not an independent group.  In Syria in 2011, these very same banners – dignity and freedom – were used to kill policemen and civilians, and sabotage public property.  Therefore, we should be more concerned with the facts on the ground and what’s actually happening than with headlines.

Intervention:  But in the beginning, there was a popular uprising, and real demands.  There was no existence of Al Qaeda.  Why did you use violence at the beginning?

President Assad:  Let’s talk numbers: the largest number of demonstrators in Syria was 170,000.  For arguments sake, let’s assume this number is inaccurate and so let’s multiply it several times over to reach a million demonstrators; the Syrian population is over 23 million, so these figures are not representative of anything.  So, in terms of size it is not a popular uprising.  Second, a popular uprising does not occur when people are paid by Qatar to demonstrate.  Third, I wouldn’t have been able to remain, with the government, in power for nine years in the face of a popular uprising.  No one can withstand a popular uprising, and an example here is the Shah of Iran – despite all attempts and Western support, they could not keep him in power.  So, calling it a popular uprising is wrong or at least unrealistic.

Question 15: At the beginning of the war in 2011, you released prisoners from Sednaya.  You are accused of doing that in order to inject Jihadist poison in the ranks of the opposition.  How do you respond?

President Assad:  Every few years, we grant an amnesty to prisoners in Syria.  This was a general policy before the war.  When an amnesty is issued, there are some categories which are excluded like espionage, drug trafficking and others.  However, in the law we did not have a category called extremists and so the amnesty includes everyone.

In 2011 specifically, there were convicts who were released because they had served their sentences and not because of an amnesty.  What do we gain if we release extremists or terrorists in order to kill officers of the Syrian Army and civilians?!  The Western narrative said that we did so in order to demonize the peaceful demonstrations; but in fact, they demonized themselves because in the early weeks, they posted videos – which can be found on the internet – where they killed policemen, attacked and slaughtered civilians.  This is actually what happened concerning the release of prisoners.

Question 16:  I talked a short while ago about Sednaya, but you have other prisons and detention centers.  A colleague of mine named Manon Loizeau who made documentaries about rape cases in your prisons.  What do you say to that?

President Assad:  There is a difference between policy being implemented and individual action.  Harassment or rape are not prevalent in Syrian society; but if there are such cases, they are punished by law.  These are individual cases.

We condemn any such policy anywhere in the world because it is immoral; it also undermines stability in Syria.  You cannot talk about stability and a peaceful relationship among the population if there was killing, torture, or any other kind of abuse.

Intervention: Those documentaries were filmed with Syrian witnesses, and these incidents happened to them. They were not talking about things happening in their society because they were ashamed of them. But they were witnesses who suffered from these practices?

President Assad:  No. You are talking about a story. A story is one thing and documented proof is another.  Everything that was presented was unsubstantiated, the photos were not verified.  Who are those witnesses?  They were hidden and not named.  In most of these cases, Qatar financed these reports, and adopting them would need a professional investigation.  If we were to put morality aside, logically, we do not have an interest in such acts.

This is against our interests, so why should we do it?!  What do we achieve through torture?! What is the result – revenge?!  If you go to the areas which were under the control of the opposition and then were retaken by the state, you will see the opposite.  We are not schizophrenic: tolerant in one place and torturing people in another.  These are mere political allegations.

Intervention:  Once again, I stress, i.e. there is an emphasis on this point, but these witnesses were not funded by Qatar.  They were witnesses who were met in refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan.  And they suffered.  And the person who documented these testimonies is a very trusted journalist.

President Assad:  There is no such thing as trust in these cases.  There are mechanisms and there are verified facts, there is no room for stories.  Who verified the witnesses’ stories?  Who verified that those witnesses had actually suffered to start with?  I can discuss this story with you when I have the facts in front of me, but I can’t discuss rumors or stories.  When facts exist, those who commit any crime are prosecuted by Syrian law, this is the norm.

Question 17:  Donald Trump mentioned Syria when he extended thanks upon the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  Did you give the Americans information, and did you know the whereabouts of al-Baghdadi?

President Assad:  I always laugh when this question is raised, because the more important question which should be asked is: was al-Baghdadi really killed or not? And did this “fantastic play” staged by the Americans take place in reality?

Intervention: But ISIS acknowledged that!

President Assad:  Yes, of course.  But ISIS was created by America; ISIS is part of the play and they taught al-Baghdadi how to act when he was in American prisons in Iraq.  That’s why I’m saying did this big play actually take place?  We don’t know.  It doesn’t mean that he wasn’t killed, but if he was, it wasn’t because he was a terrorist.  They were able to strike ISIS when it was taking oil from Syria to Iraq, but they didn’t; and when ISIS attacked the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor, the Americans bombed the Syrian Army instead of ISIS.  So, no, we did not cooperate with the Americans over anything. You cannot cooperate in the fight against terrorism with those who are supporting terrorism.

President Assad:  It’s one of Trump’s cute jokes.  It’s a joke.

Question 18: In our meeting in 2013, you assured me that the Syrian Army never used chemical weapons in al-Ghouta.  But after that came the case of Khan Sheikhoun, and then Douma. Why is the evidence mounting up suggesting that the Syrian Army used chemical weapons?

President Assad:  To date, there isn’t a single shred of evidence; the use of these weapons would have caused the deaths of hundreds or thousands of people and this did not happen.

As to this build-up: firstly, it was because the Syrian Army was advancing in the fight against terrorism and they were looking for a pretext to strike at it, and that’s what happened.  This narrative was used in two situations: either because we had made a significant advance, and it was an attempt to threaten us in the hope we’d stop, or because we were preparing for a large operation, and so it was an attempt to threaten us before the start of the operation.

Second: we were advancing and making good progress, so why would we need chemical weapons?  That is the question.  More importantly, every place we enter, there are civilians whose lives return to normal.  How could they remain there while we were using chemical weapons?!  In fact, the lies in Western media and in Western politics have no limits on this subject.

Journalist : Thank you.

— Miri Wood

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The Lebanese Color Revolution Is a Defining Moment for the Resistance

Global Research, November 21, 2019
Image result for feltman march 14 movement

What originally began as an expression of legitimate outrage at the Mideast country’s dysfunctional government and endemic corruption quickly transformed into a Color Revolution aimed at carrying out regime change in Lebanon through the removal of Hezbollah from its government, the threat of which makes this a defining moment for the Resistance because its supporters’ loyalty is being tested to the core.

Lebanon is undoubtedly in the throes of an ongoing Color Revolution that’s already succeeded in securing the resignation of Prime Minister Hariri in response to large-scale protests against the Mideast country’s dysfunctional government and endemic corruption, sparked as they were by a proposed tax on WhatsApp calls that served as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The unrest has been condemned by two key members of the Resistance, Ayatollah Khamenei and Hezbollah leader Nasrallah, who warned against the participants becoming useful idiots in the US, “Israel“, and the GCC’s plot against their homeland. The first-mentioned tweeted that “I recommend those who care in #Iraq and #Lebanon remedy the insecurity and turmoil created in their countries by the U.S., the Zionist regime, some western countries, and the money of some reactionary countries. The people have justifiable demands, but they should know their demands can only be fulfilled within the legal structure and framework of their country. When the legal structure is disrupted in a country, no action can be carried out”, while the second urged his supporters to stay away from the scene of the disturbances and emphasized how much the government’s fall could destabilize their fragile country.

Nevertheless, the situation still remains unresolved despite Hariri’s resignation, and ever-louder demands have made within Lebanon and through some Alt-Media outlets that Hezbollah should leave the government in order to resolve the crisis. The Resistance group, which functions as a socio-political and military force, had nothing to do with the trigger event that sparked this explosion of unrest, though the very fact that it’s now increasingly being targeted for removal from its elected positions in the government proves that there are forces that had intended for this to be the outcome all along when they encouraged the unfolding of events there. It shouldn’t be forgotten that US Secretary of State Pompeo ominously hinted at an ultimatum being made to Lebanon during his visit there in March when he thundered that “Lebanon faces a choice; bravely move forward as an independent and proud nation or allow the dark ambitions of Iran and Hezbollah to dictate your future”, which strongly suggests that the US at the very least tacitly has a hand in guiding developments to that aforementioned end. What’s so disturbing about the latest narrative twist is that it appears to have the support of a critical mass of protesters, including those who have outwardly supported Hezbollah prior to this moment but evidently harbored deep feelings of antipathy towards it that are only now being publicly expressed through this “anti-corruption” “populist” pretext.

It’s impossible to accurately generalize every one of these supposed Resistance supporters feels this way, though sharing some plausible explanations could nevertheless still help to make sense of this previously unexpected trend. Hezbollah’s military might is appreciated by most patriotic Lebanese after it liberated their country from “Israeli” occupation in 2000 and prevented a second such occupation in 2006, though some look suspiciously upon its social activities because they wrongly interpret them through a sectarian lense. In addition, the group’s involvement in fighting terrorism in Syria side-by-side with the IRGC reinforced the weaponzied fake news perception among some that Hezbollah is just an “Iranian proxy”. These growing doubts about the group’s long-term strategic intentions might not have been able to be publicly expressed in such a direct way without risk of receiving accusations that the person voicing such views is unpatriotic, hence why they may have hitherto been outwardly supportive of Hezbollah despite internally cultivating hatred towards the organization and waiting for the “opportune” moment to express it in a way that couldn’t be as easily framed as part of a self-serving sectarian agenda on their part. That chance arrived when the proposed WhatsApp tax served as the catalyst for large-scale protests against the government as a whole, during which time it became “acceptable” among some to attack Hezbollah for its supposedly “corrupt” alliance with certain political forces.

It should be said at this point that Hezbollah is a responsible stakeholder in Lebanon’s stability and therefore understands the need to make tactical decisions in pursuit of the larger strategic end of preventing external forces from driving wedges between the country’s cosmopolitan socio-religious groups, hence why it’s entered into the certain political partnerships that it’s had out of its interest in working within the legal system to carry out responsible reforms to the best of its ability. These noble intentions have been deliberately misportrayed by those who have wanted to remove Hezbollah from the government for some time already as part of their never-ending campaign to delegitimize it, after which they believe that it’ll become more susceptible to the joint US-“Israeli”-GCC Hybrid War against it. A similar modus operandi is being pursued in nearby Iraq, where Resistance forces also hold considerable sway within the government but are plagued by the same accusations of allying themselves with corrupt figures, which is being used by agenda-driven forces to misportray them as “guilty by association” despite the reason for these tactical partnerships being the same as Hezbollah’s. Even worse, the similar events in both countries are being described by Mainstream Media as a “new Arab Spring“.

There’s no question at this point that legitimate anti-corruption protests have been hijacked for regime change ends aimed at removing Resistance forces from power in those countries, especially since both the Ayatollah and Nasrallah touched upon this in their recent statements on this topic, though there are still those who outwardly profess to support the Resistance’s broader mission but refuse to stop participating in the unrest there. This represents a true moment of reckoning for the Resistance that will ultimately separate its true supporters who have faith in this movement’s leaders from the opportunistically fraudulent ones who betrayed the cause as soon as they “conveniently” saw the “publicly plausible pretext” to do so. It doesn’t help any either that many Alt-Media outlets that used to have Resistance-friendly editorial lines are portraying the protests in a positive light despite the Iranian and Hezbollah leaders warning against the credible risk that they could spiral out of control and end up advancing the strategic goals of the Resistance’s enemies, which further confuses the audience at large who can’t countenance how or why this is happening, preferring instead to put their faith in those media forces instead of the leaders whose movement they had previously professed to support. As the situation remains unresolved, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen next, but it certainly doesn’t look good.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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US Is the Source of, Not “Solution” to Syrian War

 

Global Research, November 12, 2019

After the supposed US “withdrawal” from Syria – Western media outlets have causally reported on US troops now preparing to occupy Syria’s oilfields east of the Euphrates River.

Articles include carefully selected “experts” who avoid any mention of how illegal or indefensible the presence of US forces in Syria is to begin with, let alone any mention of “why” US troops are preparing to “claim” Syria’s natural resources.

The Guardian in its piece, “US plans to send tanks to Syria oil fields, reversing Trump troop withdrawal – reports,” illustrates a voluntary dereliction of due diligence in investigating or questioning Western actions in Syria.

One is left to assume what the US would claim as its excuse for remaining in Syria – likely based on a narrative of denying terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda or the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) and their affiliates access to resources to “fund” their return to the region.

The most obvious and sustainable solution would be to transfer control of Syria’s oilfields to Syria itself. Syria has overcome terrorist organizations in all areas Damascus has now restored order to, and with the restoration of its oilfields and related industries, would be in an even better position to both rebuild the nation and defend against the very elements who destroyed it in the first place.

But this assumes that the US is interested in preventing the resurgence of terrorist organizations in the region – ignoring the fact that the US deliberately created them in the first place and deliberately used them to both trigger, then fuel the Syrian war from its very beginning in 2011.

The US is the Source of Syria’s War 

As early as 2007, real journalists warned of US plans to bolster opposition groups linked to terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda in a bid to undermine Iran and its ally Syria.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?,” would provide an ominous, but crystal-clear warning of what awaited both Syria and the wider region.

Hersh would warn:

The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

The article would mention the Muslim Brotherhood by name and described specific US support under what was then the Bush administration already being funnelled to the group in Syria.

The Brotherhood is an extremist front with direct ties to Al Qaeda and who were at the epicenter of the supposed “Arab Spring” in 2011. From 2011 onward – then under the Obama administration – US support continued in the form of both financial and military aid.

Articles like the New York Time’s, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.,” would admit to billions of dollars worth of arms from the US flowing into Syria to fuel the destructive war.

Despite Western media claims that the Syrian conflict was being fought between the government and “moderate rebels,” the US State Department itself admitted that within the first year of fighting, Al Qaeda had already established a dominate position on the battlefield.

In an official statement on the State Department’s own website designating Al Qaeda affiliate – al-Nusra – a foreign terrorist organization, it was admitted:

Since November 2011, al-Nusrah Front has claimed nearly 600 attacks – ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations – in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. During these attacks numerous innocent Syrians have been killed.

If the US and its allies were providing billions of dollars worth of weapons and equipment to “moderate rebels,” who provided al-Nusra with even more weapons and equipment enabling it to dominate the battlefield?

The US – as it has done in virtually all other wars of aggression abroad – simply lied about the nature of those it was arming – having from the beginning and just as journalists like Seymour Hersh warned – deliberately armed and aided extremists to wage a proxy war of regime change against Syria.

Arsonists, Not Firefighters 

Nothing the US has done in regards to Syria has amounted to genuine efforts to end the conflict. Throughout the conflict the US continued to adjust its war propaganda to justify first its invasion and occupation of eastern Syria to “fight ISIS” – then to incrementally move toward justifying a direct US military intervention against the Syrian government itself with troops “serendipitously” already staged inside Syrian territory.

From 2015 onward in the wake of Russia’s intervention – direct US military intervention was taken off the table and the US occupation confined to eastern Syria where its unsustainable narrative regarding a Syrian “Kurdistan” withered.

Today – we find a US still attempting to justify its illegal and indefensible occupation of Syrian territory. Syria and its allies have attempted to provide Washington with a host of face-saving opportunities to withdraw and allow the conflict to finally end – returning peace and stability to the nation of Syria and its people.

The US continues to pose as part of a “solution” to the very Syrian crisis journalists like Seymour Hersh as early as 2007 revealed the US had deliberately engineered.

Just as an unrepentant arsonist would not be involved in efforts to extinguish the fire they started – the US cannot be involved in efforts to resolve a conflict it itself started – nor is the US at this point demonstrating any genuine desire to end the conflict.

Squatting on Syrian oilfields is yet another intentional tactic being used to draw the Syrian war out even longer – impeding the Syrian state’s access to its own resources needed to fuel the country and fund reconstruction.

Far from firefighters, the US is an unrepentant arsonist blocking firefighters from doing their job. US foreign policy has become so overtly malign that the Western media is unable to even address basic questions such as “why” the US is remaining in Syria – and doing so amid Syria’s oilfields.

Just as has been the case throughout the Syrian war, US machinations will be defeated by Syria and its allies patiently creating conditions on the ground in which current US policies are no longer tenable forcing Washington to fall back further still.

In the meantime, continued efforts to expose the truth of this war’s genesis and to prevent those who were responsible for it from attempting to prolong it further by posing as “peacemakers” and “protectors” is essential. If the US wants to pose as “peacemakers” and “protectors,” Syria and its allies may allow them to do so only to save face amid their total and otherwise unconditional departure from Syria.

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Tony Cartalucci is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Kilichdaroglu: Dialogue with Assad is the Key to Solving the Problems Erdogan Created

 

Turkey CHP Party Leader CHP lideri Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (Kilichdaroglu)

Kilichdaroglu, the CHP Republic People’s Party leader in Turkey met with Al-Mayadeen’s and Turkish veteran journalist Husni Mahali, the talks covered the blunders caused by Erdogan which harmed the Syrian people and harmed Turkey as well, tarnishing its image, causing severe financial hardship on the Turkish people, and isolating the country regionally and on the international political arena.

Husni Mahali is, himself, a victim of the Turkish pariah Erdogan and his oppression and dictatorship, Mahali was imprisoned by the highly flawed Turkish judicial system which fell under the influence of Erodgan and his anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood AK Party. Mahali’s crime was expressing his opinion in articles and interviews criticizing Turkish policies against Syria.

The following is from Al-Mayadeen Net, first published in Arabic on November 01, 2019:

Turkey CHP Party Leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu Kilichdaroglu with Al Mayadeen Husni Mahali
Turkey CHP Party Leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu Kilichdaroglu with Al-Mayadeen Husni Mahali

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the Republican People’s Party CHP in Turkey and its leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroglu (Kilichdaroglu), have taken a clear and decisive stance against the Turkish President’s policies and his direct intervention in Syria.

This is the position taken by a number of Turkish politicians, including former Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Shinar of the Erdogan government (2002-2007). in addition to Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis in the first government of justice and development after the 2002 elections, with them are a number of journalists, academics, generals and retired diplomats.

One of them is Turkey’s former ambassador to Washington, Faruk Lugoglu, who met President Bashar al-Assad on 5 September 2011 in Damascus as a representative of Kilichdar Oglu.

Since that date, Kilichdaroglu has taken a clear position against the policies of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Syria and the region in general, “He is following America’s instructions in Syria as a partner in the Greater Middle East project,” he said.

From this point of view, the question of Syria was necessarily the main topic during our long meeting with Kilichdaroglu, where we discussed the details of Turkish domestic policy as well.

The CHP leader blamed the Arab media for his lack of interest in his anti-Erdogan party since the beginning of the Syrian crisis. I said to him, “In this case, I will summarize what I hear from you for Al-Mayadeen Net, at least the resistance media, you also resisted the so-called Arab Spring. Our host smiled and said, “You also paid the price. They put you in prison but you still write and talk here and abroad.”

We started our interview from the talk of the hour, the first was the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. Kilichdaroglu’s response was swift and decisive: “The threat of IS continues, despite the killing of its leader, Baghdadi and several of his aides, this is because the organization has sleeping cells in Syria, Iraq, and other countries. Thousands of ISIS members and their families are in camps protected by Kurdish militias after hundreds have been transferred to Turkey, others were transferred to US bases in western Iraq.”

“The organization had cells and rings in 76 Turkish states,” he continued, “for ideological reasons, Erdogan did not see ISIS as a terrorist organization. ISIS carried out a number of terrorist acts in Turkish cities including Istanbul, Ankara, and Gaziantep, these operations resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Turkish and foreign citizens, which the Turkish authorities could have prevented, but it did not do so by government order, If it had seriously confronted ISIS since 2014, when it threatened to destroy the mausoleum of Suleiman Shah near Raqqa, the organization would not have reached its point in Syria and Iraq.”

Kilichdaroglu reiterated his stated position on more than one occasion regarding Turkish military operations east of the Euphrates, “Erdogan’s logic is fundamentally wrong because he and his followers are talking about conquests as if Ankara were fighting to annex the eastern Euphrates to Turkey,” he said, “Nor does he draw lessons from his failed experiences in Syria. He spoke of a safe area along the 480-kilometer border with Syria. but he settled for to two narrow areas between the Ras Al Ain and the Tal Abyad, he was forced to end military operations on the instructions of Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.”

He added: “He (Erdogan) should have discussed this issue from the beginning with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, because Turkey can get rid of terrorism and terrorists except through reconciliation with, and thus direct coordination and cooperation with the Syrian state as the landowner east of the Euphrates, because the elimination of terrorism and terrorists is primarily the responsibility of the state and the people of Syria, We must help them in their fight against terrorists of any name, from Nusra to ISIS, the Free Army (FSA), the YPG, the SDF, and others. Moreover, Turkey can only address the refugee problem with Damascus without forgetting that Erdogan is primarily the cause of this problem.”

Erdogan’s Policies in Syria Are a Sign of the Total Bankruptcy of Foreign Policy

Regarding the background and reasons for accusing President Erdogan on this subject, Kilichdaroglu has again made clear: “Erdogan is the one who sent weapons and combat equipment to terrorist groups in Syria in cooperation with some Gulf (Gulfies) and Western countries, he incited Muslims to kill each other, he allowed thousands of foreign terrorists enter into Syria via the shared border and their wounded were taken to Turkish hospitals for treatment, he then sent them back to Syria and announced that he would pray at the Umayyad Mosque, to this end he pursued racist, sectarian and nationalist policies, and acted as a sultan who decided everything.”

Kilichdaroglu blamed Erdogan for the isolation of Turkey because of his provocative and hostile policies, as he put it. And he said, “Thanks to these policies, we no longer have any friends not only in the region but in the world, including those countries that were allies of Ankara at the beginning of the Syrian war.”

Kilichdaroglu expressed surprise at Erdogan’s repeated talk of his commitment to the unity, sovereignty, and independence of Syria, he said: “Erdogan himself continues his adventures inside Syria and sends his troops inside Syria, he supports, equips and funds tens of thousands of armed men within the framework of the so-called Syrian National Army, which Damascus considers a terrorist organization as we consider the Kurdish militias in Syria terrorists.”

Kilichdaroglu appealed to President Erdogan to stop his military plans and projects and to consider a gradual withdrawal from Syria, and to establish diplomatic relations, friendship and good neighborliness with the Syrian state and people, this will contribute to the consolidation of broader regional relations with neighboring countries, especially with Iraq and Iran, “It is time for these countries to cooperate and agree to address their crises together away from any outside interference of any form, this will be in Turkey’s favor in all fields,” Kilichdaroglu confirms.

The Turkish opposition figure emphasizes the need to create the conditions for a final solution to the Syrian crisis within the framework of UN resolutions and recommendations of the Astana, Sochi and Geneva platforms, and calls for the assistance of the Syrian people of all ethnic, religious, sectarian, social and tribal groups in order to determine their fate freely and democratically without any external interference; he also stresses the need to protect their secular, pluralistic, and civilized system within the framework of the new Constitution without any external interference or pressure, which is the constitution that will be agreed upon by the members of the Constitutional Commission that started its work in Geneva.”

Kilichdaroglu says: “Erdogan should explain why he suddenly became a bitter enemy of President Assad and the Syrian people, and why he antagonized the Syrian state, which did not do anything against Turkey, despite all that Erdogan did against it, although he still supports and protects the terrorists in Idlib, despite his pledges in Sochi.”

Kilichdaroglu considered that Ataturk’s slogan “Peace at home and peace in the world” is very important and serves as a basis for Turkey’s relations with neighboring countries. He said: “Ataturk was also careful not to interfere in the affairs of other countries, he recommended not to interfere in Arab-Arab differences.”

Cleggadoglu expressed his dismay at President Donald Trump’s style in his letter to Erdogan, also his tweets in which he threatened Erdogan and Turkey. He clarified that: “In diplomatic relations, there is what is known as reciprocity, if Trump insulted Erdogan, Erdogan should reciprocate, not only in his name but also in the name of the Turkish state and nation.”

He added: “It seems that Erdogan is afraid of being pursued by the US judiciary because of his personal wealth and the wealth of his sons and family. Trump’s treatment of President Erdogan is a subject that deserves to be taught in the faculties of politics and international relations after he proved for some reason that he is afraid of Trump. He will only have to cancel his scheduled visit to Washington on July 13th.”

Kilichdaroglu considered that Erdogan’s policies in Syria and the region are an indicator of the total bankruptcy of foreign policy, which leads him to distract the Turkish people with outside matters so that they do not think about their daily problems, that is the financial crisis and its repercussions on the high prices, taxes, and the deterioration of the value of the Turkish lira. According to Kilichdaroglu, these issues were a reason for Erdogan’s defeat in the last municipal elections, where CHP candidates won in a number of important cities notably Istanbul and Ankara, in alliance with the democratic forces.

At the end of the meeting, I thanked Kilichdaroglu for his personal interest during my continued detention and trials, more than ever, he seemed optimistic that his party would come to power in the upcoming elections, after all polls show Erdogan’s popularity continues to decline because of his blunders, the most important his endeavors to control all state institutions and facilities, especially the judiciary, that Erdogan expects to help him get rid of all his opponents and put them in prison, as long as they object to his policies at home and abroad, especially in Syria.


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Lebanon’s “Revolution” Is Without Revolutionary Ideology

Global Research, October 31, 2019

There is a revolution in Lebanon without a revolutionary ideology. It is spontaneous, and if memory serves one well, spontaneous revolutions end up badly for the left. Although the left was at its peak in the less spontaneous German uprising of 1918-1919, the right-wing militias defended the state, won and murdered Rosa Luxemburg.

There is practically very little left left, and the slogans of the Lebanese spontaneous revolution are as shallow and insidious as any of its Arab Spring predecessors. Calling for the removal of the sectarian system without removing its associated capital will rotate the same class into power with another form of sectarianism.

Sectarianism is the form of working-class differentiation or the basis of capital, a social relationship rooted in history and incarnated by much of the working class. To misunderstand the impulsiveness of the uprising is suicidal for remnants of the socialist forces. People want bread and democracy, but it is geostrategic-rent bread, as opposed to homegrown bread, and Western-style democracy, or the rule of US-led capital delegated to its local proxies that they want. ‘Words mean so many different things’ and there is paucity of alternative revolutionary concepts.From the spectrum of democratic choices, only shades of selective democracy are being proposed.

These are democracies that alienate the masses. They are based on the central democratic model where most vote for an imperial government to bomb and invade a developing country because they share a vested interest in imperial rents. In a selective democracy there are natural underlings and theworking-class lets capital to do what is best for capital. The ideology of capital incarnate in the working class, now the thingified people who replicate the thingified capitalists, reflects the short-termism of profit making. In Lebanon much has been invested in the idea that what is good for business is good for me. In short, there is a crisis of revolutionary consciousness and alternatives as elsewhere.

The crisis in Lebanon however is severe. For thirty years, the private Lebanese banks owned by the comprador ruling class charged five to ten times the prevailing world interest rate on bonds of the Lebanese government. Today, the state’s debt to the national banking sector is close to twice the income of the country. After thirty years of borrowing to reconstruct, Lebanon has no potable water supply, public transport, electricity, and cannot even remove its trash. Its capital city and only freshwater lake are possibly the most polluted on earth. Jobs are scarce, and emigration is high. The neoliberal policy of fighting inflation under open capital account, dollarized the economy, usurped much of national wealth, and brought the share of the wage bill from national income from about 50 percent in the late nineties to twenty five percent in 2015. With so much rationing of credit to production and indirect taxes dragging down demand, most private-sector loans owed to the banking sector are non-performing or unlikely to be repaid. The state cannot service its debts without draconian tax and privatisation measures. After years of austerity to pay exorbitant interests on a self-fuelling debt, the public, business and household sectors are all effectively insolvent. If the US decided to delay disbursements to finance future spending with more debt, the house of cards could come tumbling down.

In development finance, this latter point of US-governed international financial institutions (IFIs) lending US dollars on time to pay for state spending or imports, lest otherwise the national currency tumble and inflation lead to hunger and riots, is called the short-leash policy. It is a textbook case. In Ghana for instance, President Kufuor had to abide by the conditionality of privatising the Ashanti gold mines as loan disbursement was postponed forcing the population onto the streets just before the 2001 elections. In Lebanon too, the newly proposed reform programme by the incumbent prime minister proposes a fire-sale bonanza of most public assets. Through resource divestiture, neoliberalism imparted inimical growth in the productive forces, including productive capital stock, employment and growth in the incomes of the poorest working strata. Capital-biased institutions blocked broader participation in the decision-making process as the state retreated and vacated the ground for the imperialistically-funded civil society. Neoliberalism, the reigning ideology, does not choose people who are corrupt and in the business of promoting their self-interests. It creates the historical context into which it is only possible for corruption to grow. Corruption defined not in terms of personal ethical considerations is integral to a market economy and gauged by the rate of transfer of public into private wealth. The open capital account, the peg to the dollar, the tax on the poor and the privatisation of public assets are examples of context/corruption.

The prevailing concepts with which the crisis is being tackled are the same ones that were used as weapons against people in the past. Tax workers and privatise public assets – that is Moses and the prophets. Clearly, such measures, or the demands to try the corrupt without eliminating the context of corruption, are not at all revolutionary. To be sure, there are no revolutions without revolutionising the concepts with which reform is carried out. In view of the socialist ideological disaster, the only concepts available for public consumption are the putative neoliberal ones. The working class asks how do we pay for a debt that has become the wealth of the comprador class, as opposed to how we get rid of the comprador and its neoliberal policies. The comprador, to be sure, is a class, a historical social relationship of power reproduced by ideology, by the idea that not only our bread is imported, but our conceptual framework as well. For now, the salient conceptual alternatives are all about increasing state revenues from bread and butter tax to service an odious debt. In the case of Lebanon, the leakages are so pronounced that no matter the earnings from privatisation, the remedy would still be short-term. No one is talking about debt cancelation or, lesser serious reforms, like standstill agreements whereby the banks take zero interests until the economy recovers.

In Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and to a lesser extent Tunisia, the spontaneity of the Arab Spring, the revolution in times of socialist ideological retreat, resulted in deeper crises. The revolutionary spontaneity in Lebanon appears to further destroy the national sources of people’s incomes, which are already quite low. However, the Lebanese banks also have put themselves at risk by lending at rates that brought the economy to a halt. Had they accepted lower rates of return over longer periods to allow the country’s productive capacity and demand to rise in order to earn more in the future, their business would be more secure; that is simple arithmetic. However, the chemistry of sectarianism, the political process by which capital fakes its differences to acquire more rents from the state, is quite complex. It is sort of like a Buick competing with a Chevrolet although both are General Motors. The banks do not truly belong to Lebanon. They are institutions of the international financial class, the social relation that has organised the resilience of capital for centuries. It is a class that personifies the reason of the commodity as self-expanding value. It is impersonal and objective, it is history and knows no right or wrong. It is a class neither obtuse nor short-sighted. It risks some funds for the bigger booty, prospects of control and the business of militarism.

The Middle East is a region of war and oil. Physicians for Social Responsibility noted that the global war on terror has killed 4 million or more.[1] The US has spent 32 Million per hour on war since 2001, which means some financial institution was absorbing the war debit as credit and billions were made in the spinoffs of the financial markets.[2] Now these numbers are gross underestimates, but they are indicative of how true, as Karl  Liebknecht pointed out, that war is big business. Lebanon is at the heart of this region and it has almost always been in war whether with US-Israel or its Lebanese proxies. The now dormant inter-communal proxy war may awaken again. There is much more to be gained by the international financial class as it scapegoats its Lebanese compradors and immiserates Lebanon to the point of eroding the social basis by which Lebanon conducts people’s war in self-defence. The world ruling combination of finance and militarism could set Lebanon ablaze again. The evident objective of imperialism is to contain Hezbollah, but the not so obvious objective is the de-valorisation process, which reduces the costs of inputs for capital over its economic cycle. To shed light on the situation in deeply divided Lebanon, it is best to project the course of developments by moving from the broader political picture to the narrower one inside Lebanon.

Looking at Lebanon from the outside in

Had these been revolutionary times, or times in which radical concepts prevailed, nothing short of the expropriation of the robber baron class, the nationalisation of the banking sector, and the regulation of the capital account, could have been proposed as remedies. A revolution in revolutionary times and in this bloodied area may involve immediate violence against the ruling class. However, never in the past 200 years have the socialist alternatives available to humanity to organise its metabolic rate of reproduction been so absent. So far, the anarchy of production has overconsumed man and nature, yet economic planning, the historical priority by which to respond to the existentialist calamity, does not even figure on the spectrum of debate. The rich die earlier as a result of pollution related diseases, but not as early as the poor. The Veblenian consumption trap of recognition for status and power self-consumes the participants of all social classes. Impulsive uprisings are afoot across the planet, yet the people one sees on the streets are not the masses. They are not armed with progressive ideology, with ironclad modes of organisation, and a preparedness for peoples’ war. Capital is pure violence. People or working classes without revolutionary thought and the exercise of violence in self-defence are neither masses nor proletariat. They are appendages to capital, thingified people.

The business of imperialism in the Middle East is bigger than the business of Lebanese banks. Nearly nothing to do with Lebanon’s internal political landscape has to do with Lebanon. Lebanon’s development and politics are all about the US’s ambitions to control the region, especially to retain hegemony over the Persian Gulf. Reigning over the Gulf is the power that underwrites global dollarization and the imperial rents attendant thereupon. In fact, the United States is already on a low-key war-footing with Iran, a war whose boomerang effect is part of the effort to contain China. The deepening sanctions, the US armed proxies and Kurdish secession are but the tip of the US-offensive. Unmistakably, no matter the calculated costs, US-capital whose mind is the reason of the commodity is preparing to strike the Eastern flank of the Persian Gulf. For the commodity and its reason, war is a means but also end in itself. The Gulf happens to be a most strategic waterway from which thirty percent of seaborne world oil supply passes every day. Hegemony over the Gulf is priceless. True, the US exports oil, but hegemonising oil is a source of controlcumpower, and power, both military and ideological, is the primacy in the primacy of politics. Without that primacy, without arresting the development of others and regulating labour reproduction, there will be no profits. Power is what makes a subject of history; a subject who is capable of moulding social relations to accommodate low-cost production. The subject in value relationships also shapes how much of what is being produced goes to capital, and how much goes to labour, albeit over the lifecycle of society. A powerful subject implements the demands of possibly the most egregious of laws, the law of value. This is no simple double entry bookkeeping in dollars designed and printed by the US-treasury. Capital is not a person; it has real people working for it. It is a social being or a social relationship, which political economy names capital for brevity or coquetry.

The US is the operating structure of capital.  It already controls the western shores of the Gulf and to control the eastern shores would undoubtedly strengthen its position at the helm in the international division of labour. If the US leaves things as they are and accepts Iranian partial control over Gulf waters, it would also have to accept a downgrading of its imperial stature, which would imply massive tectonic realignments of global powers, including perhaps an orderly workout of the US’s debt and its overstretched US dollar, among other losses de-structured around imperial rents. But the Gulf for US imperialism is an indispensable condition of empire. It epitomises an existential question for an empire whose crisis deepens with the ascent of China. Lebanon, bordering Israel to the North and in possession of effective weaponry, threatens the imperial security arrangement for the surrounding region.

That Lebanon is socially and constitutionally sectarian and geopolitically rent-based is no anomaly under the rule of capital. Working class division or sectarianism is the normal condition of the labour process under capital. Without labour differentiation, capital, the ruling social relation, will appear for the fiction that it really is and cease to be. The French, former colonial power in Lebanon, and their heirs invested heavily in Lebanon’s sectarianism. Lebanon is sort of a precursor in sectarianism or a first experiment in the process applied in distinct ways in Iraq. As a society disarticulated along sectarian lines, a country whose national productive capacity was destroyed by war, Lebanon survives by geostrategic rents. It imports nearly twenty billion US$ and exports around three billion US$.  These imports require the county to raise its interest rate and set aside nearly the equivalent of its GDP in reserves to finance imports. And although the country almost always has a primary surplus, as it reduces spending on schools and health to service the debt, it runs a significant fiscal deficit as a result of servicing high interest-internal borrowing. The interest rate is kept too high to account for the risks and to draw in dollars to address balance of payments shortfalls.

Most of debt is internal, 80 or 90 percent. Such is an odd case for a small country recovering from years of war in the developing world. Lebanon’s debt to GDP is said to be at nearly150 percent, but it is in fact bigger (total income is about 50 billion US dollars). Only countries under the financial umbrella of US-led international finance can boast such an internal borrowing record while maintaining a currency peg and low inflation rates. A caveat is in order here: the debt to GDP ratio may be much higher because sometimes after 2005, the private bank responsible for issuing national statistics corrected the GDP figures upward to make the debt to GDP ratio look smaller. In December 2006, the debt to GDP ratio was 183 percent, and oddly enough, it went down to 151 percent in 2018. Lebanon did not have a national bureau of statistics then and most statistics were produced by one of its private banks. One must use the qualifying ‘nearly’ when speaking of figures, for although statistics everywhere are a point of view, they are even more so in Lebanon.

Lebanon’s Banks are family and political nomenklatura-owned. These financial institutions have drawn tremendous profits from holding high-interest state debt. They did so knowing that the faulty reconstruction efforts boosted by a constitution that denied the representation of labour in the state made sure that all funds destined for reconstruction went to banks and to the ruling comprador class. Without social reconstruction nothing constructs, and people build the sect leader not themselves. The post-war constitution reconfirmed sectarianism de jure, and the masses became many sects competing for rents from the state through their own sectarian leadership.  Lebanon’s financial institutions are overstocked with cash because of banking privacy, and a considerable portion of their assets is of dubious origin. Their assets are about quarter of a trillion US$. They have an interest in putting the state into debt and buying the debt to launder much of their illegitimate cash. A former finance minister complained that the central bank overruled him and issued bonds at high interest rates even when the state did not need to borrow.

In 1990, the government issued reconstruction bonds at about forty percent yearly rates. The banks gladly obliged and doubled their initial loans in about two years.  As noted above, the complex chemistry of baleful sectarianism is more complicated than the calculus of the debt. Banks earned tremendous rents on bonds and placed part of the capital abroad, while the remaining portions rolled over into additional debts. As time went by, new loans financed old and new debts, especially as internal and external deficits gaped wide. The debt grew as Lebanon’s tepid growth rates, powered by public and private borrowing to boost consumption, induced further austerity. Austerity compressed demand far below what was necessary to boost state revenues to settle new interest payments. As in typical Ponzi schemes, the debt grew at higher rates than the economy. If the scheme unfolds now, the earlier huge banking profits have been deposited abroad. The resulting runaway inflation would cripple the economy.

Non-oil exporting states in the Near East are traditionally geopolitical rent states. After the first Arab oil boom in the seventies, these countries became more dependent on rents. It was a combination of IFI supported structural adjustment and Gulf aid and remittances that gradually de-industrialised them. De-industrialisation deepened their dependence on handouts, or properly put, imperialist investments in social divisions and imperialist securitisation. It would be bizarre to believe that the US-Euro imperialism that has mown down nearly a billion people in its wars since 1500 A.D. benevolently delivers aid to humanity, or it would make efforts to arrest wars and the natural disaster. It is rather odder to entertain the thought that the Gulf states enjoy any significant autonomy to deliver aid without American consent.

As is typical of social processes under capitalism, which homogenise cultures and traditions and erase variety, Gulf aid to almost starving lower strata laced with Salafism homogenised the multifarious traditions of Islam. From dress codes to burial customs, the otherwise tolerant Islamic world was becoming more like a Xerox version of Saudi Islamism. To be sure, the Saudi version of Islam is a modern, colonially reared and concocted tradition meant to hold cultural and industrial development at bay while Arabian oil falls into the grip of empire. Gulf rents delivered to Lebanon and other states were plainly linked to the US’s political objectives to contain socialism and to create weak and internally divided states.  US-sponsored rents from the Gulf not only eroded national production requiring indigenous knowhow, they reduced the state-distribution functions and the capacity of the state to deliver social welfare. Almost everywhere, the vacuum was filled by US-supported Islamists and liberals. During the Arab Spring, Islamists commandeered the revolts and with unconditional funding from the Gulf, they either attacked their states or were elected and introduced yet more neoliberal programmes than their predecessors. For post-war Lebanon things were no different. Rents bred either the liberal NGO’s or the Islamists. The former on paper declare women or any identity to be equal, but in actuality they do not deliver them from poverty. Liberalism is arguably more devastating than Islamism because it completely erases the social class or reality under the banner of freedom. It is indeed a freedom for humans to perish early from hunger while enjoying the liberty of fitting into an identity pre-selected for them by capital, the social power and the agent of history. Islamists, on the other hand justify the demobilisation of resources by divine fiat. Neither speaks of freedom from want.

Post-war Lebanon which had suffered the destruction of its infrastructure and industry depended more on external sources of funding to maintain consumption.  As the state emerged weaker after the war and its social function was delegated to US-European sponsored civil society or to the parallel institutions of the sect. To rephrase an earlier point, what we see in the demos of Lebanon today is a thirty years investment in reactionary politics personified in people who suffer the same dire class conditions under phantasmagorical doses of intense neoliberalism. The social reaction could boil into a solid class position, but the left is weak in terms of organisation and resources, while the Gulf or European backed NGOs and sects have at their disposal extensive financial means.

In addressing the causes of lapses in development, mainstream social science falsely dichotomises constituents of the agency of history into internal and external. It blames the victimised classes for their self-inflicted misery. It does it so that history absolves the US-European structure of capital. But these Arab working classes are too weak and consistently under assault, often by the belligerence of war and poverty, and violently prohibited from organising into agents of history. The defeated are consistently stripped of agency.  The truly powerful make historical choices. They truly vote in historical time. The colonials or later US imperialism lay down with the power of their bombs, starvations, invasions, and tailored constitutions the margins of actions available for subjugated people. These powers impose the historical imperatives. They empower and institutionalise sectarian and ethnic forms as purveyors of rent from the subjugated state such that the state is always in a state of low or high intensity civil war. They set the material foundations and impose a false scarcity to promote inter working-class war. And by doing this they make profits from the war and set the stage by the continual disempowerment of people to make future profits.

The Lebanese, for instance, can cast this or that vote for the sectarian lackey of imperialism who will do whatever to provide jobs for some of his sect members. However, his rent acquisition action always comes at the expense of other sect members and the working class as a whole. Incomes under capital are rents and if sects bid against each other they lower the share of social wage from the total income pie for the whole of the working class.  The dividedness also weakens the state by the loss of sovereignty arising upon the living insecurity of the working class and holds it hostage to imperialist strategy. In the case of Lebanon, the short leash of finance, the few billion dollars needed to service the debt are currently being delayed and US imperialism is calling the shots. It has something up its sleeve and it has to do with Hezbollah. The US-led financial class through its control of the Lebanese finance casts the real vote in real historical time. It just sits back and watches, while the vote of the vanquished Lebanese population, rhetorically speaking, appears as a mere ornament of modern-day slavery.

The big divide and Iran

The US spares no effort to destabilise the region. As should be obvious, it does so because by devastating and warring it empowers itself and reduces the reproduction costs of labour. This latter point is at the heart of higher profit rates not only because the pressure of refugees on wages, but also in terms of the real value, the real commodities and the hours of labour it takes to sustain the working class, much less is expended on labour. In political economy parlance, that is called a reduction of necessary labour, which is another way of saying if capital pays less than is necessary for people over their lifetime, it makes more profits. In-fighting lowers the cost of people and what they own in resources.

At this historical juncture, fomenting the Sunni-Shiite divide, the in-fighting at play in Iraq and elsewhere is both an end in itself and end to weaken Iran. Also, by raising tensions in the Gulf, and by virtue of its gigantic military presence there, US-led capital holds the world in suspense relative to the instability it injects in oil supply routes. Imperial ransom from the rest of the world tallies with protracted military tension or turmoil in the Gulf. The scurry to the safety of the dollar market alone resituates the US atop of the global pyramid. War or tension in the Gulf is a win-win situation for ‘US-led capital.’ The use of the term US-led capital is more appropriate than the use of the term US because the poor in the US are also subjected to the wrath of their home grown imperialism. The recent figures on poverty in the US indicate that half the population subsists at below the poverty line.[3]

Regionally, Israel, a state constructed around Jewish identity, has an innate aversion for Hezbollah and a less-sectarian Lebanon. Although Israel has no aversion to its adversaries wallowing in class conflict painted over by religion, Hezbollah is a successful paramilitary force and a model for people’s war. To be sure, Hezbollah’s power, its victory in liberating South Lebanon, had reconfirmed the effectiveness of people’s war. No weapon superiority bestows an occupier with the power to rule over a people against their will. Outright victory of an occupying force over an occupied people was and is no longer possible, short of complete annihilation – naturally under the rule of capital that means the continuation of wars. Hezbollah is stronger after its experience in the Syrian war and better armed. For that reason, Israel is keen to have Hezbollah consume itself in Lebanese misery or in an inter-communal war. Aware of Israel’s intentions, Hezbollah had solidified its ties to other progressive forces in Lebanon and the region.

As per the old lessons of national liberation wars, the premise of larger and deeper fronts, especially ones that involve grassroots support that combine security with development, better positions liberation struggles. Although anti-imperialism is not a class-inherent characteristic of the Iranian ruling classes, imperialism deprives peoples, peoples from all sort of classes and not only the working class in developing formations, not only of their control over resources, but also of their lives or longevity. Imperialism often consumes the peripheral comprador, the labour aristocrat and possibly the whole of social nature with its uranium-laced bombs. It depopulates to earn profits. The prematurely wasted life in wars or war related austerity is itself a product of militarism, just as a coke can is a product of the Coca-Cola corporation and industrialism. The more cokes and wasted-lives are consumed-realised, the more returns capital generates.

The Iranian ruling class is a rentier class. While some in Iran delude themselves with mini imperialist ambitions, the struggle of Iran’s people is a struggle to literally exist. Dreams of grandiosity related to past empire is delusional for Iran. The reality that Iran will meet the fate of Iraq or Afghanistan is demonstrably present. The barometer of the strength of its national front remains the extent to which it socialises, subsidises basic commodities, and creates social employment positions founded on a national money cycle – free from international finance, to cement the grounds for people’s war. Iran may have inroads in the Near East, but these were cavities purposefully carved by the US, not by some conspiracy, but by the reason of history abiding by the desires of the self-expanding commodity. Fetishism, the rule of commodities, through its ideology commands real processes and people believe that their imaginary relations to these real processes are real. Their relationship to the sect is not real because the only reality is that of the social class as it produces what people need to survive. Put differently, it is living labour deprived of better living conditions that produces and reproduces people and not identity. A reading of the historical moment, the balance of forces, would clearly show that Iran is in a position of self-defence. Its present government, however, is short on the delivery of jobs and welfare to solidify the social grounds for people’s war. Based on the premise that encroachment wars in this region are an industry of militarism and that imperialism reinforces waste accumulation through depopulation, the security of Iran through Hezbollah is a shared and co-dependent security with Lebanon.

Security in Lebanon is inversely related to sectarianism – here one has in mind the historically determined modern identity sect that acts a conveyor belt for rents. The sect imposed by imperialism as a form of social organisation vitiates class unity, consciousness and the solidarity required for anti-imperialist struggle. The degree to which sectarian divisions surface and security sinks principally corresponds to the retreat of socialist ideological crisis worldwide. In better times, before the Lebanese war, working class cohesion was in the process of formation diluting sectarian differences. Some indicate that inter-sectarian rapprochement under progressive parties and slogans was the reason for which imperialism unleashed its right-wing cronies against the masses igniting the Lebanese war of 1975-1989. After the war ended in 1989, the right learnt its lesson and rents were channelled to sects by degree of loyalty. Such was the effort to obviate the real social being of people, the working class and its institutions. The Lebanese revolution faces the weight of a history in which a cultural identity instrumentalised by capital has acquired a supernatural power. Received perception has it that against all odds such identity exists in the same shape and form it is across history.

The demos prove that class is the reality that resurfaces in times of crisis. Penuries of bread and democracy, poverty in Lebanon, are cross-sectarian. Bread and democracy are presupposed by social relationships before they become things or acts. They are historical and power relationships obtained from class struggle. These concepts, the bread and the democracy, even for the left they have become reified and ahistorical. They are simply the things and the boxes of the ballot boxes. They are maintained as such because Western Marxism peddles them as such. The Western left-intellectuals, with slightly more leisure than others in the developing world, churn out concepts that fit the R2P designs. Overlooking capital’s history and the current social and natural calamity, these pseudo-leftists harbour a deep fascination for the selective democratic model of Western capital and see its atrocities as prerequisites for progress.

Conceptualised differently, bread is the social wage share that requires delinking from the West, working class solidarity and, necessarily but not exclusively, armed struggle against imperialism. Development obtains from combining security with resistance. Poverty in Lebanon could have been worse than Egypt’s without Hezbollah and its resistance. Some sectarian leaders are using the poverty they inflicted upon people through their banks to negotiate a higher share of imperial rents as a price for handing over Hezbollah.

Democracy is an end to alienation. People no longer relinquish the popular will through the voting system. It is about the organs of labour consistently voting for labour in state policy with or without the ritual ballot box. Democracy is not labour as ‘an’ organic constituent of the state, it is ‘the’ organic constituent of the state. Yet, few understand the depth of the conceptual crisis and the idea that people’s representation in the state has to be organic. Demanding one-man one-vote realises democracy only when man is social man; the real man of society reproduced by the value of society, the socially necessary labour invested in him or her. Social man is a subcategory of the working class and, therefore, democracy is the rule of the working class.

Who is more democratic China whose revolution of 1949 heralded prosperity and eliminated poverty or the US which sinks half of its population and half the world into poverty? The working class is there, but it is not brought into focus because people have been taught to think in forms devoid of history, in the ‘now,’ while indeed the ‘now’ or the present do not exist in real time. Capital paid teachers, universities and media to distort people’s minds and erase the social alternatives. The cliché capitalism won against socialism has become truth as if history is a football game and not an ongoing process of massacres and environmental destruction. Without being democratically armed with weapons, without revolutionising concepts and ideology, the working class will always be a proletariat in waiting.

People negate the system, but adopt the conceptual alternatives of the system itself as their alternatives. As they uncritically assimilate the rule of capital, no matter what procedure of voting they choose, they will be electing capital’s authoritarianism. As capitalists and working people personify things or commodities, the development attendant upon the production-consumption of commodities by commodities will continue to end in the human and environmental waste visible all around.

Lebanon again

The crisis in Lebanon was inevitable. Why the banks usurped so much so as to debilitate the state has to do with capital’s objectives to create a social crisis capable of weakening Hezbollah. As the currency falls and the cost of living rises, sectarians and their NGOs are at work to derail the uprising. History bereft of socialist ideology is on their side. The NGO’s will divert cries for justice into a cry against Hezbollah. The US’s conditionality here is being put as such: hand over the weapons of Hezbollah and get the funding needed to maintain the consumerist standard of living. But borrowing short term will only delay the onslaught of poverty for few months. For imperialism, the reason of the commodity adopted by history, the poverty of all sects is necessary because it cheapens inputs from humans and otherwise in production and profits.

To reiterate: the reason why the private banking sector has sucked the country dry with exorbitant interest rates for such a long time is because its patron the international financial class makes more money out of poverty and war in Lebanon and the region. The bigger world financial class and its militarism may sacrifice the smaller Lebanese banking class. However, no matter how sects are positioned on the inside, events in Lebanon will unfold in synch with how the US fares in its regional war offensive. A glimmer of hope exists here as the rise of China arrests the growth of European civilisation, a store of culture whose ethos is to waste or to accumulate by waste. The real world happens to be a planet plagued with overproduction crises, which necessitate that money should be made in wars and in socially imposed under-consumption. Waste produced under waste accumulation also produces a consumerist man indulged in an overly entropic mode of self-consumption. Scarcity constructed to differentiate labour or to pit the working class against each other by designating quaweaponizing identity as the vehicle for rent acquisition abounds. In terms of the real physical scarcity however, not even oil is scarce anymore.

Capital’s logic of cost minimisation, the production of waste for profit, becomes the repository of the system. In times of socialist ideological retreat, the absurd becomes real as reality conforms to the logical forms of mainstream economics. Value relations become waste relations, the ruling class becomes the wasting class and the working class becomes the wasted class. The formalism of capital’s mainstream logic, the two-dimensional diagrammatic in which prices clear excess commodities, becomes more and more a condition in which the excess commodity to be cleared is living labour. Arresting European civilisation, the body of knowledge and traditions of expansion by war, the structural embodiment of that wasting capital, is the historical necessity.

Subordinately, the flux of this spontaneous revolution in Lebanon is a test of the left’s resolve. The left is poised against imperialist NGOs with logistical support from the Gulf states destined to lure the support of despairing people with bribes needed for survival. As people lose income, the left has to provide the alternatives. For the working class to become a proletariat, it must broadly align against reactionary positions. So far, spontaneity mixed with liberal or Islamist NGOs has been a suicide-trap for socialism. The left can commit the anecdotal suicide, it could jump from the superstructure and hit the base, but it could also through struggle carry the day.

*

Renowned author and Middle East analyst, Professor Ali Kadri teaches Economics ath the National University of Singapore (NUS). He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

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Notes

[1] https://www.mintpressnews.com/do-the-math-global-war-on-terror-has-killed-4-million-muslims-or-more/208225/

[2] https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/03/21/we-have-spent-32-million-hour-war-2001

[3] Yes, Half of Americans Are In or Near Poverty: Here’s More Evidence https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/10/16/yes-half-americans-are-or-near-poverty-heres-more-evidence

مناقشة هادئة لخطاب خالد حدادة الغاضب

أكتوبر 29, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– كتب الأمين العام السابق للحزب الشيوعي اللبناني خالد حدادة مقالاً نشره على صفحته على الفايسبوك، يناقش فيه المواقف التي أطلقها الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله، في إطلالته الأخيرة حول الحراك الشعبي والمخاطر والمخاوف والشعارات. ولغة حدادة القاسية الأقرب إلى نبرة القطيعة وليس الحوار، تستحق النقاش كما الحجج التي ساقها لتفسير موقفه، ليس فقط لكونها تعبّر بصورة غير رسمية عن مواقف تفسر اصطفاف الحزب الشيوعي اللبناني، وتفلسف هذا الاصطفاف، بل أيضاً لأنها الأشد جرأة ووضوحاً من بين همهمات في صفوف الكثير من اليساريين والوطنيين الذين يدعون حزب الله للانخراط في الحراك ودعمه والمشاركة في قيادته، ويأخذون عليه عدم ترجمة ما قاله من تقدير وتفهّم لأسباب الحراك ودوافعه بالانخراط فيه، بل بتغليب موقف التحفظ والحذر من الأفق الذي يرسمه الغموض في قيادة الحراك الفعلية، رغم طمأنة حدادة بأن كل شيء سيكون تحت السيطرة، لأن الفقراء في الشارع والمدافعين عن حقوقهم هم الذين سيحصنون الحراك كما حصنوا ويحصنون المقاومة .

– يبدأ حدادة مقالته بالقول إن خطاب السيد جاء تغليباً للبنية المذهبية للحزب، كشريك في نظام طائفي وأكثر من ذلك قدّمه السيد أمس، كحامٍ للنظام عبر إطلاق لاءاته الثلاث المناقضة لحس الناس ومطالبها: لا لإسقاط العهد، لا لاستقالة الحكومة، لا للانتخابات المبكرة . ويضيف باختصار وضع السيد خطاً أحمر هو النظام نفسه . وتناول حدادة مخاوف المقاومة من غموض القيادة والتمويل ودور السفارات والحاجة لتحصين الحراك بالقول للسيد بلغة التحدي هل فعلت أنت ما هو واجب لتحصين هذا الحراك الشعبي والوطني والمحقّ على حد تعبيرك؟ أعتقد أن خطابك بالأمس سيساهم في تقوية وزن ودور السفارات، في محاولة حرف التحرّك. نحن سنتصدّى لذلك، الفقراء في الشارع والمدافعون عن حقوقهم هم الذين سيحصّنون الحراك، كما حصّنوا ويحصنون المقاومة ، واصفاً دعوة السيد للحراك ببلورة قيادته وصولاً للتفاوض بالتحدّي قائلاً أنت تعرف يا سيد أن كل التحركات لا تبدأ بالتفاوض إلا مع البدء بالتنازلات من المسؤولين، سأطلب منك العودة الى مسار الثورة الإيرانية وليس ما سُمّي بالربيع العربي ، شارحاً خريطة الطريق التي يراها سبيلاً للحل بالقول مطالب الساحات واضحة، عدا عن الجانب المعيشي فإن الشارع، بعفويته، وضع مساراً مسؤولاً: استقالة الحكومة، تشكيل حكومة انتقالية موثوقة، إقرار سريع لخطوات إعادة المال المنهوب والأملاك العامة وسواها، إقرار قانون انتخاب جديد نحن نريده وطنياً خارج القيد الطائفي وعلى أساس النسبية ، إجراء انتخابات مبكرة ، مضيفاً ابدأوا بالخطوة الأولى عندها يصبح التفاوض مجدياً .

– مناقشة كلام حدادة لا تستقيم من الأعلى إلى الأسفل لأنه وضع النتائج في الأعلى وترك الأسفل للمقدّمات، فالقبول والرفض لاستنتاجاته وتقييمه لموقف السيد كحامٍ للنظام وللفساد، واعتباره أنه غلب البنية المذهبية للحزب كشريك في نظام طائفي، أو وصف دعوة السيد لتحصين الحراك بوجه تدخل السفارات بالتحدي واعتبار كلام السيد يخدم تعزيز نفوذ السفارات، سيتوقف على تفحّص ما عرضه حدادة من تصوّرات يمكن تلخيصها باعتباره أن توازن القوى في الحراك تحت السيطرة لصالح برنامج ينتهي بانتخابات مبكرة، وفقاً لنظام نسبي وخارج القيد الطائفي، وأن كل المطلوب من السلطة التي يشارك فيها حزب الله أن تنحني للحراك باستقالة الحكومة، وبعدها سيكون كل شيء قابلاً للذهاب نحو تحويل الحراك إلى ثورة. وهنا يعتقد حدادة أن دور حزب الله يجب أن يكون بالدفع لاستقالة الحكومة متخلياً عن دعوته لإسقاط العهد، بقوله، عند استقالة الحكومة يبدأ التفاوض، مستعيناً بالتشبيه بالثورة الإيرانية، لاعتقاده ربما بأن السيد لم يقرأ أو يطلع على تجارب الثورات الملوّنة التي شملت أغلب دول أوروبا الشرقية التي يعرفها السيد حدادة جيداً، ويعرف ما آلت إليه مع استقالة الحكومات، وأن حدود ثقافته السياسية تقف عند تجربة الثورة الإيرانية.

– المفصل إذن هو استقالة الحكومة، التي يثق حدادة ومعه آخرون أنها مفتاح الحلول، المفتاح الذي يدعون السيد نصرالله لاسترداده، وبهذه الاستقالة سيتولى الشعب ومعه المدافعون عن المقاومة الذين قاموا بتحصينها بتحصين الحراك ، فهل يبدو كلام حدادة دعوة لسيناريو قابل لسيطرة أم هو القفزة في المجهول التي تقف وراء الخشية والحذر اللذين طبعا كلام السيد، والتدقيق الذي هرب منه حدادة لا يمكن للسيد إغفاله، فلنفترض أن الحكومة استقالت اليوم، وبالتأكيد لا نظن أن حدادة يدعو لحكومة بديلة برئاسة الرئيس الحريري أو أي من رموز الطبقة الفاسدة كما يصفها، فهل لدى حدادة و الفقراء والمدافعون عن حقوقهم معه، الذين حصنوا المقاومة ويحصنونها، اسم لرئاسة الحكومة يناسب تحقيق الأهداف التي يسوقها باستسهال القدرة على حماية تحقيقها بموازين القوى الحاكمة للحراك، والتي تدخل فيها فعالية الحضور المنظم عبر أحزاب وجمعيات تملك مقدرات مالية وتنظيمية لا يمكلها حدادة و الفقراء والمدافعون عن حقوقهم ، ويتاح لها بقوة السفارات، التي يستخفّ حدادة بحضورها في الحراك، فرصٌ مستديمة للسيطرة على وسائل الإعلام الوازنة والفاعلة والمموّلة، والتي تكرس بثها لما هو أبعد من تغطية الحراك نحو الإمساك بدفته السياسية والتنظيمية ورسم خطواته. السؤال هو: ماذا سيحدث في اليوم التالي لاستقالة الحكومة، ولأن المنطقي أن الحراك الداعي للاستقالة سيتمسك بالدعوة للامتناع عن تسمية أي من رموز الطبقة الفاسدة لرئاسة الحكومة البديلة، أن تفشل الاستشارات النيابية بالخروج باسم مرشح يقبله الحراك، ويبقى أمام الفقراء والمدافعين عن حقوقهم والمقاومة التي يحصنها حدادة ويعد بتحصينها، ونحن نصدق صدق نياته هنا، خيار واحد، هو التساكن مع الحكومة المستقيلة كحكومة تصريف أعمال لا يمكن مطالبتها بشيء ولا مساءلتها على شيء، وعجز عن استيلاد حكومة جديدة، بل حتى تسمية رئيس للحكومة الجديدة، وتمضي أسابيع وشهور، ويبدأ التفاوض، نعم التفاوض، ولكن ليس مع حدادة ولا مع قيادة يبلورها الحراك، بل بين السفارات، على رمي اسم غامض يضمن الخارج تسويقه في وسط الحراك، بصفته من التكنوقراط والخبراء المشهود لهم بالكفاءة والنزاهة، ويخرج الحراك يحتفل بالنصر لبدء مسار حكومي جديد، يعوّمه الغرب والعرب مالياً، كما يقترح ديفيد أغناسيوس في مقالته في الواشنطن بوست تحت شعار منعاً لخسارة لبنان على طريقة خسارة سورية. ويبدأ شعار أولوية النهوض من الوضع المالي الصعب بالتسلل لفرض معادلة تحييد لبنان، تحت شعار النأي بالنفس، وبالتأكيد لا محاربة فساد ولا محاكمات ولا استعادة مال منهوب، والانتخابات المبكرة تصبح أحد اثنين، ذكرى جميلة أو انتخابات على القانون الحالي تعيد إنتاج المجلس الحالي مع حجز حصة للقوى التي سيطرت على الحراك، وليس للوطنيين واليسار حصة وافرة منه، بل للذين قادوا فعلياً وصاروا حزب رئيس الحكومة الجديد. فهل هذا هو المسار الشعبي والتغييري الذي يريد حدادة من السيد نصرالله فتح الطريق أمامه؟

– ربما لم يكن لدى حدادة الوقت ليتذكر أن الثورة الإيرانية كانت لها قيادة واضحة وبرنامج واضح وقائد مُجمَع عليه قبل أي بحث بكيف ومتى بدأت بالتفاوض، ولن يمانع السيد من التفاهم على اعتبار نموذج الثورة الإيرانية فيصلاً في بت الخلاف، بدعوته الواضحة لبلورة هذه القيادة والبرنامج. وليثق حدادة أن هذه هي بيضة القبان، وضوح القيادة والبرنامج وبعدها لن نختلف مع حدادة حول توقيت التفاوض قبل استقالة الحكومة أم بعدها، فبوجود الوضوح في القيادة والبرنامج تتغير أشياء كثيرة. وربما ايضاً لم يكن لدى حدادة الوقت للانتباه لمخاطر استقالة الحكومة في ظل غياب قيادة وبرنامج للحراك، ولا الوقت لفحص سيناريو آخر، هو البدء من رأس الدرج بشطفه وليس من أسفله، أي إلزام الحكومة والمجلس النيابي، بقوة الحراك وثقة حدادة بالقدرة على التحكم بضبط أدائه لمحاربة الفساد وإسقاط النظام الطائفي، بإصدار قوانين الانتخابات المنشود وقانون رفع الحصانات والسرية المصرفية عن كل من تولّى الشأن العام الموعود، وتحديد مرحلة انتقالية في هذه القوانين، التي تتشكل بنصوصها هيئات قضائية مستقلة للإشراف على تطبيقها. ووفق المرحلة الإنتقالية تصدر لوائح المتهمين بجرائم المال العام خلال ثلاثة شهور، وتتشكل حكومة من غير المرشحين بالتزامن، لتتم الانتخابات في نهاية المرحلة الانتقالية المحددة بستة شهور، لتنبثق الحكومة الجديدة من نتائج الانتخابات وفقاً للقواعد الدستورية، ويكون في المجلس الجديد وفق قانون الدائرة الواحدة والنسبية واللاطائفية فرصة تمثيل للقوى التي رسمت خريطة طريق نظيفة وواضحة للحراك، ومنها الشيوعيون واليسار، ويكون على حزب الله ومعه مَن يشاركه الرؤى في الحكومة ومجلس النواب كما وعد الضغط لضبط الإيقاع بالتناغم مع مطالب الحراك الواضحة بقيادته المعروفة لضمان السير بهذه الخطة، ويكون بقاء الحكومة الحالية كحكومة فعلية تسائل وتحاسب وتطالب بتنفيذ متتابع لبنود الخطة الإصلاحية وتصويب الخاطئ فيها، بدلاً من تصريف الأعمال الطويل بغياب أفق حكومة إنقاذ موعودة. فهل هذا السيناريو دفاع عن النظام الفاسد وتعبير عن بنية مذهبية غلبت روح المقاومة، وترسم خطاً أحمر حول النظام أم تضع خطوطاً حمراء حول مشروع غامض يُرشّ عليه بعض السكر الذي سرعان ما يزول بأول فركة يد، فيكشف لنا الخادم الحقيقي لتأبيد نظام الفساد بل تجديد شبابه بنسخة متوجة بشرعية شعبية تماماً كما فعل الربيع العربي.

– مشكلة بعض اليسار أنه يعيد في الحراك تكرار التجربة التي خاضها منذ التسعينيات بخروجه من المقاومة نحو سراب السلطة، والحديث عن منعه عن دوره فيها، ورمي مسؤولية تراجعه على حزب الله، لأنه يريد من حزب الله توظيف قوته في المقاومة لصناعة دور للآخرين في السلطة. وقد لا يُفهم الغضب والتحدي في نبرة حدادة إلا باعتباره ترجمة لهذا التكرار، الرهان على توظيف مكانة وقوة حزب الله لحجز مقعد فاعل في الحراك، لا يبدو أنه متاح اليوم، لكنه للأسف مقعد لا يخدم تحصين البلد والمقاومة ولا الحراك نفسه إذا بقي مصطفاً تحت شعار لم يكن له يد في رسمه. وما ورد في هذا النقاش ليس إلا دعوة للتفكير مجدداً ليضع اليسار والشيوعيون في مقدمتهم خريطة طريق موصلة للأهداف التي نثق بإخلاصه لها، ويقود حواراً مع شركائه في الخيارات المناوئة للهيمنة الأميركية والعدوانية الصهيونية، وصولاً لتفاهمات تتوزع فيها الأدوار كل من موقعه بدلاً من لغة الأحكام الظالمة، والتهم اللتي تصير افتراء، تترجمها نبرة التحدي والغضب، التي لن توصل إلى مكان ولا تقدّم شيئاً للبلد والحراك والمقاومة.

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October 25, 2019

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah warned Friday against the looming schemes to exploit the protests in Lebanon in favor of the Israeli and international interests.

In a televised speech, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that Hezbollah is afraid for the country which may get involved in a civil war just as a number of regional countries.

Video here

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Lebanese-American Presidential Advisor Pleads Trump to Intervene in Lebanon’s Protests: They See You as Leader of the Free World

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October 26, 2019

The Lebanese-American presidential advisor Walid Phares pleaded the US President Donald Trump to intervene in the ongoing protests in Lebanon.

In a tweet, Phares addressed Trump, “2 million Lebanese citizens have been protesting in Beirut & many towns against deep corruption in their Gov. & Hezbollah terror threat .They see you as the leader of the free world & their voice for justice. They want to make Lebanon free again!”

Phares has been  well-known for his anti-Hezbollah stances and was one of the main theorists of the March 14 political bloc in 2005 movement in Lebanon.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Iraq to Officially Demand Syria Return to Arab League: Minister

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October 13, 2019

Source: Al-Manar English Website

The Iraqi foreign minister Mohammad Ali Al-Hakim announced that his country is going to officially demand Syria’s return to the Arab League, adding that most of the Arab countries underscored such a step.

Holding a press conference after the Arab foreign minister meeting, Al-Hakim said that all the Arab countries, except Qatar and Somalia, highlighted the importance of preserving Syria’s unity and integrity, denouncing the Turkish aggression.

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نقاط على الحروف هل ينتبه الأميركيّون
إلى اللعب بالنار؟

أكتوبر 4, 2019

ناصر قنديل

لم يعد ممكناً تجاهل المعنى الدقيق لتوقيت التصعيد الذي يشهده الملف الاقتصادي خصوصاً في لبنان والعراق، وتحويله قضية متفجّرة  في الشارع، والقضية كي تكون واضحة للبحث هي فقط التوقيت، وليست أبداً نفي أسباب الغضب الشعبي أو مشروعية هذا الغضب. فالفساد قائم هنا وهناك، والاستهتار بأوجاع الناس قائم هنا وهناك. والمحاصصة قائمة هنا وهناك، والجوع والبطالة والضغوط المعيشيّة قائمة هنا وهناك، لكن كل ما هو قائم قائم منذ زمن، ولم يطرأ عليه جديد بحجم يفرض توقّع ردود أفعال بحجم ما هو قائم، وربما يمكن إضافة مصر إلى القائمة التي تضمّ لبنان والعراق بطرح سؤال التوقيت  في الشارع، والقضية كي تكون واضحة للبحث هي فقط التوقيت، وليست أبداً نفي أسباب الغضب الشعبي أو مشروعية هذا الغضب. فالفساد قائم هنا وهناك، والاستهتار بأوجاع الناس قائم هنا وهناك. والمحاصصة قائمة هنا وهناك، والجوع والبطالة والضغوط المعيشيّة قائمة هنا وهناك، لكن كل ما هو قائم قائم منذ زمن، ولم يطرأ عليه جديد بحجم يفرض توقّع ردود أفعال بحجم ما هو قائم، وربما يمكن إضافة مصر إلى القائمة التي تضمّ لبنان والعراق بطرح سؤال التوقيت.

قد يكون واضحاً لكل متابع أن للتوقيت صلة بخطوات انفتاحيّة على سورية اتخذتها الدول الثلاث أو أعلنت العزم على اتخاذها، عقب الإعلان عن نجاح مساعي تشكيل اللجنة الدستوريّة السوريّة وصدور إشادات بتشكيلها من واشنطن والرياض، العاصمتين اللتين منعتا سابقاً أي انفتاح مصري أو لبناني أو عراقي على سورية يتجاوز حدود الشكليات الدبلوماسية، بينما جاءت الخطوات المعلن عنها نوعيّة، بحجم عودة سورية إلى الجامعة العربية، كما قال وزير الخارجية المصري، وبحجم فتح معبر البوكمال – القائم وما يعنيه من فرص استراتيجية أمام العلاقات بين سورية والعراق واستطراداً من ورائهما إيران ولبنان، وكذلك الفرص الاقتصادية الواعدة لسورية بوجه العقوبات. أما لبنان فترجم سعيه الانفتاحي بفتح ملف عودة النازحين بتعاون الحكومتين، وكلها تبدو تجاوزاً لخط أحمر أميركيّ سعوديّ يريد ربط كل انفتاح بقاطرة تقودها واشنطن والرياض بتوقيتهما. وهذا لا يعني ولا يجوز أن يعني أن الذين نزلوا إلى الشارع عملاء أميركا والسعودية، بل يعني أن صواعق التفجير للشارع أميركيّة سعودية ومعلومة بالأسماء كيفية تحضيرها وتفجيرها، وأن نوابض التلقي في الشارع منظمات مموّلة من برامج المساعدات الأميركيّة لما يُسمّى بمؤسسات المجتمع المدني.

 ما لا تنتبه له واشنطن هو أنها تلعب بالنار، فدول وقوى محور المقاومة ومعها روسيا، بعد الانتصارات الكبرى التي حققتها جميعاً، لن تترك التآكل والهريان أن يصيبا بيئتها الشعبية، ولا الفوضى أن تنخر بيئتها السياسيّة، وعلى الأميركييّن أن يلتفتوا إلى كون قواتهم تشكل نقطة ضعف مكشوفة لا تحميها خطوط حمراء. ولعله من اللافت ما تقوله سورية في هذا التوقيت عن وجود وسائل مشروعة ستلزم الأميركيين بالرحيل، ومثلها كلام للحشد الشعبي عن التمركز الأميركي في العراق، وأخيراً كلام مهم لوزير الخارجية الروسية سيرغي لافروف عن خطورة الغارات الإسرائيلية في سورية، والأهم القول إنها “قد تدفع الوضع للخروج عن السيطرة”.

واشنطن مدعوّة لإدراك معادلة الحرب المالية مقابل الحرب العسكرية، والفوضى في الشارع تقابلها مقاومة الاحتلال، وأن التملص من معادلة للهروب إلى أخرى سيزيد الوضع تعقيداً، وربما يكون دقيقاً ما قاله لافروف أنه قد يخرج عن السيطرة، وتبدو الأسابيع المقبلة حاسمة على هذا الصعيد بضوء ما ستحمله أخبار الشارع في بغداد وبيروت.

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The full text of Khamenei.ir’s interview with Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah

sayyed hassan

Source

October 03, 2019

Nasrallah

Masseer Especial Journal, which belongs to Khamenei.ir, has conducted an interview with Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is published for the first time. The following is part one of the interview:

I would like to start the interview by asking you how the situation in the region was, at the time when the Islamic Revolution became victorious. How was the situation in the West Asian region? Particularly given that one of the important dimensions of the Islamic Revolution is its regional and international implications, what changes occurred in the regional equations following the Islamic Revolution and what events have we witnessed? With the Islamic Revolution gaining victory, what took place in the region in general and in Lebanon in particular?

In the name of God the Beneficent, the Merciful. First, I would like to welcome you. If we go back to the past and observe the developments, we will find that, very shortly before the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, a very significant incident took place in the region, namely the withdrawal of the Arab Republic of Egypt from the Arab-Israeli conflict and the signing of the Camp David Treaty. This event—due to the important and effective role of Egypt in the aforementioned conflict—had a very dangerous impact on the region as well as on the Arab-Israeli confrontation over the issue of Palestine and the future of Palestine.

After that incident, in the first place, it seemed that the confrontation was going on largely in favor of Israel. This was mainly because other Arab countries and Palestinian resistance groups were not able to confront major powers without the help of Egypt at that time. So, firstly, the occurrence of such an incident led to the emergence of a deep division among Arab countries.

Secondly, you remember that at the time, there was a US-led Western bloc opposing the USSR. Therefore, there existed a split in our region: the gap between the countries associated with the Soviet Union—that is, the Eastern bloc—and the countries depending on the United States, the Western bloc. Accordingly, we could see a deep divide among the Arab countries in the region, and this gap had devastating consequences for the nations and of course, also had an impact on the Arab-Israeli conflict. At the time, the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States essentially affected our region and its developments.

In the case of Lebanon, it should be said that Lebanon is also part of this region, and thus, it has been severely affected by its developments, including Israeli actions, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the divisions in the region. At that time, Lebanon faced domestic problems as well, and was suffering from the civil war. The Israeli enemy occupied parts of southern Lebanon in 1978, that is one year before the Islamic Revolution, and then created a security zone called the “border strip” on the Lebanese-Palestinian borders. The Israeli enemy, through this security zone, continued its daily aggression against Lebanon, its cities, villages and people. Indeed, we faced a very serious problem: the Israeli occupation in parts of southern Lebanon and its daily aggressions. Israeli warplanes and their artillery bombed southern Lebanon; abduction operations and multiple explosions by the Zionist regime continued in its worst form, and people were displaced following these brutal acts. These events also took place between 1977 and 1979; that is, not long before the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

Did they use the Palestinian presence in Lebanon as the pretext?

Yes; the Israelis objected the existence of Palestinian resistance and operations carried out by Palestinians. However, this was just an excuse because Israeli’s runs of aggressions in southern Lebanon began in 1948, when Palestinian resistance was not present in southern Lebanon. Palestinian resistance set base in southern Lebanon in the late 60s and early 1970s, especially after the events in Jordan and the arrival of Palestinian groups from Jordan in Lebanon.

It was in those circumstances that the Islamic Revolution of Iran gained victory. This victory came at a time when an atmosphere of despair was dominant in the Arab and Muslim world and concern for the future was widespread. Egypt’s withdrawal from the Arab-Israeli conflict and the signature of the Camp David Treaty, the imposition of a humiliating political process on the Palestinians and Arabs, as well as the weakness of the rulers of the Arab countries all provoked the despair, grief, hopelessness, disappointment, and worry for the future at that time. Therefore, the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran in such an environment, revived the lost hopes in the region and among the nations to begin with, particularly the Palestinian and Lebanese people.

This victory (the victory of the Islamic Revolution) also brought about the resurgence of the hopes of a nation that had been cornered by the existence of Israel. Because the position of Imam Khomeini (Q.S. – May his spirit be blessed) regarding the Zionist project, the necessity of the liberation of Palestine, and standing shoulder to shoulder with Palestinian resistance groups was clear from the beginning. Imam Khomeini (r.a) believed in supporting the people of Palestine, liberating every inch of the land, and obliteration of the Israeli entity as a usurping regime in the region. Therefore, the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran created a growing hope for the future and increased a hundred fold the moral and motivation of the supporters of the resistance as well as the resistance groups in the region.

The victory of the Islamic Revolution also created a balance of power in the region. Egypt fled the fight against Israel and the Islamic Republic of Iran entered. Therefore, the balance of power in the Arab-Israeli conflict was restored, and for this reason, the resistance project in the region entered a new historical phase. This was the starting point for the Islamic movement and jihad in the Arab and Muslim world and among Shi’as and Sunnis alike.

Imam Khomeini (Q.S.) introduced several mottos regarding various subjects such as the question of Palestine, Islamic unity, Resistance, facing and confronting the United States of America, stability and sustainability, trust and confidence of nations in God and in themselves, revival of faith in one’s own power when confronting the arrogant powers and towards the realization of victory. Undoubtedly, these mottos had a very positive and direct impact on the situation in the region at that time.

In addition to the general atmosphere created by the Islamic Revolution and the new spirit that Imam [Khomeini (r.a)] inspired in the hearts of the people of the region, resurrecting the resistance, what memory do you specifically have of Imam Khomeini and his stances regarding the resistance in Lebanon and by Hezbollah?

Yes, in the year 1982. If we want to talk about it, we should consider the liberation of Khorramshahr in Iran. The Israelis were deeply concerned about the war between Iran and Iraq, or Saddam’s imposed war against Iran. For this reason, after the liberation of Khorramshahr, the Israelis decided to attack Lebanon. Of course, this action had its own root causes, and there was a profound connection between the victories in the Iranian front and the Israeli aggression against Lebanon. This was how the Israelis entered Lebanon, Beqaa region, Mount Lebanon Governorate, and Beirut suburbs. At that time, a group of scholars, brothers and fighters had decided to form the Islamic Resistance and establish the Islamic-Jihadi foundation of [the movement of] Resistance, corresponding to the aftermath of Israeli invasion.

By then, Israel had not penetrated in all of Lebanon and had only reached about half of Lebanon—that is 40% of Lebanon’s total area. 100,000 Israeli soldiers entered Lebanon. They brought with them American, French, English and Italian multinational forces on the pretext of maintaining peace. Meanwhile, there were militias in Lebanon who were involved with and collaborated with the Israelis. By pointing to these facts, I mean to picture how very, very bad the situation was at that time.

Subsequently, a group of scholars (ulema), believers, and Mujahid brothers decided to launch a new movement for Jihad in the name of Islamic Resistance, which shortly afterwards was renamed “Hezbollah.” The formation of this front coincided with the decision of Imam Khomeini (Q.S.) to send Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces to Syria and Lebanon to oppose and confront Israeli aggression. Initially, the intention was for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps troops to fight alongside Syrian forces as well as Lebanese and Palestinian resistance groups. But after some time the scope of Israeli attacks became limited, so this was no longer a classic battlefield, and the need for resistance operations by popular groups was felt more than ever.

It was at that time that Imam Khomeini (QS) replaced the mission of direct confrontation by the IRGC and Iranian forces, who had come to Syria and Lebanon, by offering help and providing military training to Lebanese youth, so that they—i.e. the Lebanese youth themselves—would be able to deal with the occupiers and carry out resistance operations. This is the first [of Imam Khomeini’s positions].

Therefore, the mission of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps forces in Syria, as well as the Lebanese Beqaa region—in Baalbek, Hermel and Janta, that is, where there were training bases—was changed to providing military training to the Lebanese youth. They taught the Lebanese youths the methods of warfare and provided them with logistic support. The mere presence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Lebanon at that time gave the Lebanese youth and Resistance groups a purpose and a high spirit to stand up to Israel.

As I said earlier, it was decided that a large group would be formed and nine representatives were selected on behalf of the pro-resistance brothers, including the martyr Sayyid Abbas al Moussawi (r.a), to pursue this important issue. Naturally, I was not among these nine people, because at that time I was young, about 22 or 23 years old. These 9 people travelled to Iran and met with the officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran. They also had a meeting with Imam Khomeini (QS). During their meeting with Imam Khomeini (r.a), while offering him a report on the latest developments in Lebanon and the region, they presented their proposal for the formation of an Islamic resistance front. They said to Imam Khomeini (r.a): “We believe in your guidance, your authority (wilayah) and your leadership. Tell us what we need to do.”

In return, Imam Khomeini (r.a) insisted that their duty was to resist and stand against the enemy in full force, even if you have limited means and are in smaller numbers. This is while Hezbollah had a smaller number of members then. He said: “Start from scratch: trust in the Almighty God, and do not wait for anyone in the world to help you. Rely on yourself and know that God helps you. I see you victorious.” It was an amazing thing. Imam Khomeini (r.a) regarded this path as auspicious, and thus, the meeting during which our brothers met with him, laid the foundation stone for the formation of the Islamic resistance front, under the auspicious title of ‘Hezbollah’, in Lebanon.

At that time, our brothers told Imam: “We believe in your guidance, authority and leadership, but in any case, you are very busy, and you are at an old age, and we cannot allow ourselves to continuously disturb you about different issues and problems. For this reason, we are asking you to name a representative to whom we can refer on various issues.” Then he introduced Imam Khamenei (May God continue his oversight), who was the president at the time, and said: “Mr. Khamenei is my representative.” Consequently, the relationship between Hezbollah and Ayatollah Khamenei (May God protect him) began from the very early hours of the establishment and foundation of this group; we were always in contact with him in different times, we met with him frequently and gave him reports on the latest developments and he always praised the resistance.

I remember the issue of several Hezbollah martyrdom-seeking members. You know that the first experience of a martyrdom-seeking operation took place in Lebanon, and was conducted by our brothers. The brothers sent a video file—before publicizing it in the media—containing oral testaments of those fighters seeking martyrdom, who had carried out a major martyrdom operation in Lebanon, and had shaken the invaders to their core. This video was played for Imam Khomeini, and he watched it and discussed it. The testaments were very beautiful and full of enthusiasm, mysticism and love. After watching the testaments, Imam Khomeini (r.a) said: “These are young [chivalrous] people. All of them were young.” He then said: “These are the true mystics.” The fact is that the Imam was strongly affected by the testaments.

Imam Khomeini’s collaboration, support for, and attention to the resistance and Hezbollah of Lebanon continued until the very last day of his auspicious life. I remember about one or two months before the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a), when he was ill and rarely met with domestic officials and even less with foreign officials, I went to Iran as a member and an executive official of the Hezbollah council and met with Ayatollah Khamenei, late Ayatollah Rafsanjani and other Iranian officials, and asked if I could have a meeting with Imam Khomeini. I was told that he is ill and does not meet with anyone. I asked them to try and they agreed to do their best. Then I went to the office of Imam Khomeini (r.a) and put in a request for an appointment. At the time, one of our friends among Imam Khomeini’s household, Sheikh Rahimian (May God protect him)—who paid particular attention to the Lebanese—shared the matter with the late Sayed Ahmad Khomeini (r.a), and I was informed on the second day to get ready for a meeting. Naturally, we were all surprised. I went to meet Imam Khomeini (r.a) and nobody else was there, not even Sayed Ahmad; not even any of the Foreign Ministry’s officials or IRGC staff, who would usually attend the meetings, were there. Sheikh Rahimian accompanied me to Imam’s room but then went and left me alone with Imam. I was overwhelmed and awed by his presence.

Imam Khomeini was sitting on a high chair and I sat down on the floor. Awestruck by his grandeur, I could not say a word. Imam asked me to get closer. I went closer and sat next to him. We spoke and I handed to him a letter I had brought with me. Imam answered the questions I had shared with him regarding the developments of that time in Lebanon, then smiled and said: “Tell all our brothers not to worry. My brothers and I in the Islamic Republic of Iran are all with you. We will always be with you “. This was my last meeting with Imam Khomeini (r.a).

 I wish we had time to hear more extensively from you about that time. Thanks again for the opportunity you gave us. You said that, Hezbollah was formed and began its activities during a very difficult time. You correctly mentioned that Iran itself was dealing with an invasion of its borders. In Lebanon, the Zionist regime periodically attacked the people and committed murder and plunder, and in any case, Hezbollah began its work in such a difficult situation. You also said that Imam Khomeini referred you to Ayatollah Khamenei to be in touch with him. I would like to ask you to point out some of the important pieces of advice that Ayatollah Khamenei (May God continue his oversight) gave you after the passing of Imam Khomeini, and let us know the measures that he guided you to take during his presidency. What we mean to make clear, when we reach the time of Imam Khamenei’s leadership, is the history of why Hezbollah was very pleased and reassured with his election as the leader of the Islamic Republic. What has happened that made you feel that way?

From the very first moment of our relationship with Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, I call him, in my own words, Mr. Leader (السید القائد). So let me use the same word, the Leader, to refer to him. My brothers had a Hezbollah Council within Hezbollah, with 7-10 members—changing at each stage. The members of this council always met with the Leader during his presidency. What I wish to say about that time, almost 7 years of Ayatollah Khamenei’s presidency before the passing of Imam Khomeini…

Was there a specific person to go between Hezbollah and Ayatollah Khamenei?

I get back to this point. The fact is that the Leader particularly valued Lebanese groups and provided them with sufficient time. I remember meetings that sometimes lasted for 2, 3 or even 4 hours. He listened carefully to what we had to say. Our friends and brothers also described the issues for him in details. As you know, at the time, they were not all on the same wavelength, and our brothers had different views. The Leader listened to all the comments, views, and opinions. Naturally, there was no Arabic language problem either, because he was fluent in Arabic and spoke it well. He spoke Arabic beautifully.

Nonetheless, he preferred to be accompanied by an Arabic translator; He usually spoke in Persian, but had no need for translation when the Lebanese spoke in Arabic. His full mastery of Arabic language contributed greatly to his deep understanding of the problems and the views of our Lebanese brothers. The important point is that, despite having full authority from Imam Khomeini, the Leader tried to play the role of a guide, and helped us make the decisions ourselves. I always remember that in every meeting, at that time and after being appointed as the Leader, whenever he wanted to comment, he would indicate ‘my suggestion is’. For example, he had reached a conclusion, but he would ask us to “sit down, consult with each other, and make the correct decision.

Indeed, the Leader at that critical stage managed to play an important role guiding the group in cultivating Hezbollah leaders and commanders intellectually, scientifically, and mentally, so that our brothers could make decisions confidently and by relying on their own capabilities even during the most difficult situations. He would make comments but he would refer to a Persian proverb that said: the expediency of a country is recognized by its owners. His Eminence would say: you are from Lebanon and thus have a better command of your affairs. We can only make a few comments and you can apply them, but it is you who will make the final decision. Do not wait for anyone to make decisions on your behalf. Therefore, the role of the Leader in the training, growth and swift development of Hezbollah was very significant.

In the first years, our brothers went to Iran two or three times a year—that is, they would travel to Iran about every 6 months—to learn about the Iranian officials’ viewpoints regarding the developments in the region, as at that time, developments in the region were taking place very rapidly. Naturally, at that time there was also the war; the 8-year imposed war against Iran and its implications for the region. Therefore, our brothers constantly needed to exchange information, consult with and get support from Iran. At that time, if our brothers were faced with an immediate and urgent problem, they would send me to Iran. Because I was younger than the others, and there was no systematic protection, or anything similar in place for me. I was alone, carrying a bag with me. This means that my trips to Iran, since I was not well known, were not complicated and there was no security threat around me.

On the other hand, I was acquainted with Persian language more than my other brothers in Hezbollah, and for this reason, they preferred me to travel to Iran. From the very beginning, there was compassion and affection between me and my Iranian brothers. My brothers in Hezbollah would tell me: you like Iranians and the Iranians like you too. So you should travel to Iran. On behalf of my brothers in Lebanon, I met with the Leader for one to two hours. Even when all issues had been discussed and I was prepared to leave, he would say: “Why are you in a hurry? Stay, and if there’s anything left, let’s discuss it”. That stage was very important for Hezbollah, because Hezbollah had focused on fundamental issues, fundamental approaches and fundamental goals. They made a collection of varying opinions, but we eventually managed to compile a single united book. Now I can say that we have a unified viewpoint in Hezbollah. Different perspectives have been unified and consolidated due to the events and experiences that we have gone through, and thanks to the guidance, advice, and leadership of Imam Khomeini (r.a) while he was alive and of the Leader after the passing of Imam Khomeini.

I wish there was more time to listen to your memories at length…

You will at some point say ‘I wish’… [laughs]

Anyways, our time is very limited. Putting that period a side, now let’s talk about 1989, when Imam Khomeini passed away to the mercy of Allah, and our people and every devotee of the Islamic Revolution were mourning. Those moments were naturally critical moments for both our country and the devotees of the Islamic Revolution. Please explain briefly what the state of your affairs was, at the time when Ayatollah Khamenei was chosen as the successor to Imam Khomeini? Also tell us more about the events that you encountered at that time, after Imam Khomeini’s passing away, in the regional and international arena.

We had a very critical period at that time, because that era coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the beginning of American unilateralism and the end of the Cold War. At the same time, we saw that the Zionist regime started talking about peace negotiations, and on the other hand, the Islamic Revolution was in a particular situation. Obviously, the Americans had plans for the post-Imam Khomeini (r.a) era. We would like you to talk about those circumstances and describe them to us, and about how the Leader responded to the important developments that took place at regional and international levels?

As you know, during the lifetime of Imam Khomeini, members of Hezbollah of Lebanon and the supporters of the resistance, had close ties with him, both intellectually and culturally. However, Hezbollah members were also emotionally and passionately dependent on Imam Khomeini. Like many Iranians who fought against Saddam’s war on Iran, they really loved Imam Khomeini (r.a). Members of Hezbollah of Lebanon regarded him as an Imam, a leader, a guide, a Marja’, and a father. I have never seen the Lebanese love anyone so much. Consequently, the demise of Imam Khomeini on that day brought about a mountain of sadness and grief to the Lebanese; a feeling definitely not less intense than the sadness and grief of the Iranians. This was the emotional connection between the Lebanese and Imam Khomeini (r.a).

But on the other hand, there was a major concern at that time, and it was that the Western media were constantly talking about the post-Imam Khomeini era (r.a), claiming that the main problem was this man and that Iran would collapse after him and a civil war would break out; that there would be no substitute for the leadership of the country. In this regard, a very intense psychological warfare had started in those years, in the last year of the glorious life of Imam Khomeini (r.a), [particularly in the light of other incidents including the dismissal of Late Ayatollah Montazeri and other issues]. For this reason, there were concerns. At that time, we were being told that your source of support—i.e. the Islamic Republic of Iran, upon which you rely and in which have faith—will start a downfall and collapse after the passing of Imam Khomeini. That was for the second issue.

The third issue, regardless of the psychological warfare, was our lack of information about the situation after the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a). We did not know what was going to happen after him, and what turn the events were going to take; so we were worried. We were following up on the events after the death of Imam Khomeini (r.a) on television, and when we saw national security and the calm in Iran as well as the glorious presence of the Iranian people at his funeral, we regained some confidence and peace of mind.

We were reassured that Iran would not go towards a civil war, nor would it collapse, and eventually the Iranians would choose a suitable leader in a reasonable and sincere atmosphere. We, like all Iranians, were waiting for the decision of the Assembly of Experts on this matter. The fact is that the election of Ayatollah Khamenei as the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran by the Assembly of Experts was unpredictable for the Lebanese. Because we did not know Iranian figures properly and we did not know if there was a better, more knowledgably and more competent person to replace the Leadership. We only knew the Iranian officials that we were in touch with. Electing Ayatollah Khamenei for this responsibility, surprisingly and unusually, made us feel happy, fortunate and confident.

In any case, we passed through this stage. We started our relationship and this relationship continued. After a short time, we traveled to Iran and offered our condolences for the passing away of Imam Khomeini (r.a) and we met with the Leader. He was still at the Presidential office and received people there. We pledged allegiance to him in person and directly. Our brothers told him: “During the lifetime of Imam Khomeini (r.a) you were his representative in the affairs of Lebanon, Palestine and the region as well as the President of Iran, so you had time [for us]. But now you are the leader of the Islamic Republic and all Muslims, and therefore, perhaps you do not have enough time as before. So, we would like to ask you to appoint a representative, so that we do not disturb you continuously.” At this moment, the Leader smiled and said: “I am still young and I have time, God willing. I pay special attention to the issues of the region and the resistance and therefore we will remain in direct contact with each other. “

Since then, unlike Imam Khomeini (r.a), he has not appointed any representative to refer to about our issues. Naturally, we did not want to bother much, and did not require much of his time. Especially because in the first years, the early years of the establishment of the movement, he was involved in everything. The principles, goals, foundations, criteria, and guidelines that we had, provided a solution to every issue. All of this was a divine blessing; the blessing of guidance was quite clear and we did not need to constantly refer to him. So, we continued to do the same as the Leader had told. This should answer that part of your question about our relationship with Ayatollah Khamenei after his election as the Leader and the authority for Muslims [wali amr al muslimin] after the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a).

But regarding the events that happened, it should be noted that the events after the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a) were, naturally, very critical and dangerous. At that time, the important issue for us was to continue the path of resistance in Lebanon, an issue that the Leader had emphasized from the outset. The Leader provided the officials of the Islamic Republic with many recommendations and words of advice, to attend to the Resistance in Lebanon and the region, saying that, just as during the lifetime of Imam Khomeini (r.a), when we followed this path with the thoughts, methods, principles and culture of Imam Khomeini (r.a) on our agenda; today I persist on this path and insist on the need for it to continue.

Therefore, as a blessing from the Almighty God, there was no change in the position of the Islamic Republic in its support for the resistance in the region, especially in Lebanon, not even in the face of changes within ministries and official entities in Iran as well as some differences in their political policies. Therefore, not only such a change did not happened, rather things went on in a better way; because these stances were strengthened after each president’s and each official’s term and this happened as a result of direct attention by the Leader to Hezbollah of Lebanon and the resistance in the region.

Now we can enter the discussion on the events that took place. Where would you like me to start from? I am ready. I mean, we can now address the political events; because we have already elaborated on our relationship with the Leader and how we kept working with him after the passing of Imam Khomeini (r.a.).

The most important issue for us at that time, i.e. during the leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei, was the issue of domestic problems of Lebanon. At that stage, as you know well, there were some problems between Hezbollah and the Amal movement, and the Leader paid special attention to this matter. Hence, the most important thing that happened to us during the early years of Ayatollah Khamenei’s leadership was the resolution of discords between Hezbollah and the Amal Movement. This blessed resolution, was brought about as a result of special guidance and advice by the Leader, as well as contacts between the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the leaders of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, including the current chairman of the Lebanese parliament Mr. Nabih Berri and Syrian officials. Subsequently, Resistance groups in Lebanon got united and this was accomplished thanks to the Leader and his strong emphasis [on unity].

The Leader opposed any issue, any conflict or dispute among Lebanese groups and constantly stressed the need for extensive relations between them as well as achieving peace by any means necessary among them. These efforts took years to bear fruit. That is to say, it took 2 or 3 years for us to pass through that stage. The foundation of the close relations between Hezbollah and Amal that we see today were laid by the guidelines of the Leader, and today the relationship between Hezbollah and Amal is not strategic, but beyond strategic. Through the resolving of the problems between Hezbollah and the Amal Movement and the cooperation between the two, we were able to continue the resistance and attend to defending Lebanon and the south of Lebanon. The achievement and the great victory of 2000 against the Zionist regime were realized as a result of this unity. In 2006 and during the 33-day war of the Zionist regime on southern Lebanon, this unity helped us again, and we were able to resist during the “Tammūz War” and impose a defeat on the enemy. Today, political victories in Lebanon and the region continue to be achieved. One of the fundamental factors of Hezbollah’s political, national, and military power is this coherence, unity and friendly relations.

I recall that at that time, after the martyrdom of Sayyid Abbas al-Musawi (r.a), our brothers chose me as the secretary-general. Later, we met with the Leader. He brought up some issues, saying: “If you want to make the heart of Imam Mahdi (May Almighty Allah Speed His Reappearance) and also the hearts of all the believers happy, you have to work hard to preserve the calm in your country. You have work with each other, especially Hezbollah, Amal, Allama [scholar] Fadlallah and Sheikh Shams al-Din.” At that time, Sheikh Fadlallah and Sheikh Shams al-Din were both alive and the Leader strongly stressed reinforcing internal unity in Lebanon. His emphasis was on maintaining unity among the Shi’as, as well as between Shi’as and Sunnis and other Muslims. He also emphasized on the necessity of unity among Muslims and Christians and would insist on it during internal meetings; that is [he promoted] an open door policy for all Lebanese. This was the second issue. The primary issue was the relationship between Hezbollah, Amal and the domestic situation of the Shias. Another important issue that he emphasized was the open door strategy of Hezbollah towards other Lebanese political groups, despite religious, political, and ideological differences. The realization of this important project was also on account of his wise leadership.

There was an emphasis on continuing the resistance, confronting belligerence and determination to liberate southern Lebanon. That’s why the Leader also focused on the issue of resistance and its progress. He always insisted that resistance should progress, grow, and ultimately take back occupied lands. Hence, he always diligently encouraged the Resistance to persist on the path it had taken. You know that at that time there was a problem that some resistance groups, other than Hezbollah, had got entangled with internal political affairs, and thus, they had been gradually distracted from the mission of resistance. This would make the resistance limited to Hezbollah and the Amal Movement—chiefly Hezbollah. Even inside Hezbollah, there were some of our brothers who were inclined to get involved with domestic politics. But the Leader always emphasized the need to give priority to the mission of resistance and Jihadi tasks.

Part 2

Imam Khamenei’s prediction of Oslo Accord and Netanyahu’s error

One of the important events that took place in the region at that time was the formation of a process of reconciliation through Arab-Israeli negotiations, which is referred to as the “peace process”. This trend was shaped after Arab-Israeli negotiations. Recall that in 1993 an agreement was reached between Mr. Yasser Arafat and the Israelis, represented by Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres; an agreement that was finalized under the auspices of the United States. This agreement was eventually named the “Oslo Accords”. This was naturally a very dangerous issue, and had a negative impact on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The danger was that, according to the agreement, the PLO recognized Israel and thus effectively a Palestinian group—not an Egyptian one like Anwar Sadat—abandoned the lands of 1948, the lands occupied by the Zionist regime during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Also, in that agreement it was mentioned that the topic of the negotiations would be East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the issue of other parts of Palestine is already done. This was a major fault.

On the other hand, the agreement opened the way for many other Arab countries to begin negotiations and reach an agreement with Israel, eventually normalizing relations with Tel Aviv. This was a very dangerous issue. At that time, the Leader, and the Palestinian resistance groups including Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine opposed the Oslo Accords. The Commander in Chief and some Palestinian groups opposed the deal. So did Hezbollah and the Lebanese groups. We rallied against this agreement, but were shot, and we had martyrs for the cause in Beirut’s Southern Dahieh.

In any case, it was a turning point and a very dangerous period. We pondered over what reaction to adopt against the Oslo accord. Should we deal with it politically and through the media, and call on the Palestinians to resist and insist on their rights? The emergence of this issue (the Oslo Accords and the ensuing phase) led to the expansion and consolidation of relations between Hezbollah and Palestinian groups, including Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, and also strengthened the path of resistance in the occupied territories of Palestine. Remember that at that time, a major martyrdom-seeking operation was carried out by Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants in the heart of Tel Aviv and Quds, and shook the Zionist authorities to their core. It was after that operation, that an extraordinary meeting took place in the Egyptian city of Sharm El Sheikh with Clinton and Yeltsin, the then Russian president in attendance. Many countries in the world also attended this meeting. Meanwhile, the late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad rejected participating in the meeting.

The fact is that the meeting finally declared war on three groups: first Hezbollah, second Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, and third Islamic Republic of Iran due to its support for resistance in the region. Despite its large sphere, the meeting did not manage to introduce fear in the ranks of Hezbollah and other resistance groups in the region, especially since at that time, the position of the Leader regarding the resistance—that is continuing the Resistance and persisting on the path— was absolutely straightforward and resolute. Therefore the Oslo accord brought about a series of events; events that were very crucial and hazardous for this procedure.

We also had the Madrid conference.

The Madrid conference was before the Oslo Accord. It was then that the talks started. The important point here is that the Leader has a deep insight and exact understanding of the future. I believe that his accurate perception of the future is part of his unique abilities, derived from his deep faith in, submission to, and relationship with the Almighty God, rather than having an only rational aspect.

At that time, certain talks started called the Israeli-Syrian negotiations. The Syrian President of the time was Hafez al-Assad and the Israeli Prime Minister was Yitzhak Rabin. The talks between them were initially secret and later made public. They would meet in the United States and under Clinton’s supervision. Representatives of President Assad and Rabin’s cabinet met with each other in the United States, and they were about to come to an agreement. At that time, it was said that Yitzhak Rabin had agreed to return the occupied Golan to Hafez al-Assad.

Accordingly, there was an assumption in the region that Israel and Syria were coming to an agreement. This atmosphere existed in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and the entire region. I remember that at that time some would ask us “if an Israeli-Syrian agreement is reached, what will you—that is Hezbollah—do? If Syria and Israel come to an agreement, what stance will Hezbollah take? If such an agreement is made, what will be the fate of Hezbollah and the Islamic Resistance groups?” We organized several meetings to discuss the matter, and plan for the future. We thought then that an agreement was already made between Assad and Rabin. It was not only Hezbollah but all Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians assumed that the agreement had been finalized. We organized internal meetings to discuss the future. We talked about political, military, artillery issues and even the name of the group. Some raised the question whether or not to keep the name “Hezbollah”? Or if we should adopt a new name to fit the new phase? Some of our brothers were on the U.S.’s black list and there was this debate whether to keep them in Lebanon or make it for them to leave Lebanon? For example, Martyr Hajj Imad Mughniyah was on that list.  So we compiled a collection of various suggestions.

Did Hezbollah not have a communication channel with Hafez al-Assad to be informed of his decision?

The point is that all the available data and information assured us that the Israeli-Syrian negotiations would result in an agreement. At that time, Hafez al-Assad’s main demand was to take back the Golan, and that would withdraw from the June 4, 1967 borders; and Rabin had agreed to meet those demands. Eventually we went to see the Leader. He was very patient with us, because during this visit, we mentioned all the issues raised and the suggestions offered by different people. He listened to all of our words in that meeting which was held with some Iranian officials in attendance, and while all Iranian officials—and all officials unanimously and with no exception—believed that the Syrian-Israeli talks were over, His Eminence said: “It is good that you consider the worst-case scenarios and probabilities and plan to face them; but I tell you this will not happen, and there will be no peace treaty between Syria and Israel, so discard whatever you have written and prepared. You should continue to resist, and double your efforts to increase your weapons, facilities and human resources. Do not worry; because there will be no peace treaty between Syria and Israel.” All those present in the meeting, including the Iranians and the Lebanese, were astonished by the firm remarks of Ayatollah Khamenei. His Eminence did not say that, “I consider it unlikely” or that, “there might be other possibilities”. Not at all. He resolutely declared this will not happen. He said strongly and firmly: “Forget it and put it away; continue to do what you were doing in a better and stronger way than before.”

Anyway, we were surprised. We returned to Lebanon, and we continued to work based on the Leader’s point of view. Only two weeks after our visit to the Leader, a big ceremony with more than 100,000 people was held in Tel Aviv, wherein Yitzhak Rabin was giving a speech, when someone from among extremist Jews opened fire at and murdered Rabin. After Rabin, Shimon Peres was elected prime minister of the Zionist Regime. He had a weak personality, because he was not perceived by Israelis, in terms of historical and military background as well as trustworthiness, as competent as Rabin.

Subsequently, large operations were carried out inside occupied territories, namely Tel Aviv and occupied Quds, which shook the foundations of the Zionist Regime’s power. After that, the Sharm El-Sheikh summit—that I mentioned—was held. Then, in 1996, Israel attacked Lebanon in an operation called Operation Grapes of Wrath and marked the unprecedented genocide in Qana—a tragedy later known as Qana Massacre. In response, we resisted against the Israelis and became victorious. Shortly thereafter, that is in 2 or 3 weeks, elections were held in the Zionist Regime, during which Shimon Peres was defeated and the Likud party replaced the Labor party as the dominant party, and Benjamin Netanyahu became the Prime Minister of Israel. After coming to power, he said “I do not adhere to any of Yitzhak Rabin’s and Shimon Peres’s commitments with regard to Syria and the negotiations with Hafez al-Assad”. Therefore, the Israeli-Syrian negotiations ended. We are talking about the year 1996 and now in 2019, where does the peace process stand? It is in its worst status.

As you pointed out, in that atmosphere, there was a feeling that an impending compromise was going on, and meanwhile, the Palestinian people were being slaughtered. Did other countries contact you to encourage Hezbollah to follow the movement? Did the countries which favored this compromise contact you in this regard? Did they send a message to encourage you to accept to compromise with Israel?

There was no direct contact with Hezbollah. They had no hopes in us; because they knew about our wisdom, willpower, faith and determination. But in general, some Arab countries pressured Lebanon. They pressured the Lebanese government and people to compromise with Israel. They threatened that Israel would destroy Lebanon if they did not accept to compromise, and the Arab world would turn away from Beirut. There were such pressures, but there was no significant contact; because they knew what our stance was and we saw how they have absolutely no hopes in us. This was God’s blessing for us.

Some raise the question why the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon cannot accept any of the projects offered by the US and the Zionist Regime for compromise–from Oslo to the Deal of Century? The question is raised why Iran and Hezbollah do not provide the prerequisites to end these conflicts? Another point about Palestine is that some imply that the Palestinians themselves are interested in some form of compromise. What is your opinion about these questions? On the other hand, we see that some Arab rulers and figures are pretentious in their support for the Palestinian cause and standing for the Palestinian aspirations. What are the indicators for identifying the true representatives of this movement and thinking?

Regarding the first part of the question, I would say all the offered projects for the Palestinian cause violated the rights and the interests of the Palestinians. They say, according to the Oslo Accord, the lands usurped in 1948 are not included in the negotiations. That means two-third of Palestine is to be regarded outside the negotiations. Well, this is a major act of oppression; that is, in its basis and foundation, it is a major form of oppression. Then, they do not even give them the remaining one-third of Palestine. They do not even say that they would give the West Bank to the Palestinians and only negotiate on East Quds. At that time, even as for the Gaza Strip, the Zionists acted passively on the issue of Gaza. Shimon Peres said “I dream of a day when I wake up and I am told that Gaza has gone under water”. This was their territorial viewpoint.

In the case of Quds, in all the offered proposals, the Americans and Israelis never agreed to give back East Quds to the Palestinians. Even during the last negotiations in Camp David between Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak, the matter of Quds [Jerusalem] was brought up, and the Israelis said: “Of Jerusalem, whatever is on the ground, for you; but what remains underground of Jerusalem is for us”. As for the Palestinians who were expelled from their homes, the Israelis have explicitly stated that they would not allow them to return to their lands. This is while millions of displaced Palestinians were living in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and other countries of the world dispersedly. Would any wise man accept such a thing?

Even if we accept the above-mentioned proposals which are based on the two-state solution, a question is raised: which Palestinian state? A state with no national sovereignty, no borders, no sky or coast, no airport, etc. What kind of a state is this? Thus, the proposals that have been presented on the question of Palestine since long ago—from the Madrid negotiations to the bilateral talks and the Deal of the Century—indicate that the situation has become worse day after day. Let’s talk about the Deal of the Century. Recently, Jared Kushner spoke about the Deal of the Century, and explicitly said that according to this plan, Jerusalem (Quds) is for Israel. He announced that major Zionist settlements in the West Bank would be part of the occupied territories. Therefore, there is basically no discussion of a two-state solution; that is, one that includes a true Palestinian state. Even the Palestinians themselves do not accept such plans.

Accordingly, we gradually come to the conclusion that, firstly, if you see that the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hezbollah of Lebanon and other resistance groups do not agree with the proposals on the Palestinian question, it is because all these proposals are very oppressive to the Palestinian nation as well as to the Islamic Ummah, overall. Secondly, the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people won’t accept these plans. Today, it is absolutely clear that there is a complete consensus among the various Palestinian groups and parties in response to the Deal of the Century. It is not that some of them accept and others reject the proposal. The Fatah and Hamas as well as other movements, despite their disagreements, have no doubts about rejecting the Deal of the Century, and are on the same page with this regard. The Palestinian nation, both inside and outside the borders of the country, reject the Deal of the Century. Thus, opposition to this plan is not confined to Iran and the resistance groups in the region. Rather, Palestinians themselves oppose the Deal of the Century.

On the other hand, we must have a thorough understanding of the positions of Imam Khomeini (r.a.), the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah and the resistance groups against the Zionist regime. The fact is that Israel is not a problem only for the Palestinians; rather, the stabilization of the sovereignty of Israel is a threat not only to the Palestinians, but also to all Arab and Islamic countries. The stabilization of this regime is a big threat to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and even the Islamic Republic of Iran. Israel has nuclear weapons and more than 200 nuclear warheads. The regime has always sought to expand its dominance over the whole region. There is another important point that we have learned from Imam Khomeini (r.a.) and also Ayatollah Khamenei, which is the fact that Israel is not a regime independent from the US; rather, it is regarded as a U.S. arm in the region. Who is after warmongering in the region? Who conducts invasion and aggression? Who meddles into other countries’ affairs? Hence, the existence, survival, power and promotion of Israel—either through peaceful or non-peaceful means— is a major security threat for all the countries in the region, from Iran to Pakistan, and even for the countries of Central Asia and Turkey.

Therefore, those resisting Israel today, are in fact defending the Palestinian people and their rights, of which they have been divested, and they are also defending themselves, the sanctities and defending Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and other countries. Israel will not withdraw from the ‘Nile-to-Euphrates’ goal and this goal has always been presented as a Torah dream Israel has been trying to realize. Israel is a military base in the region that serves the interests of the United States. We all know that the United States wants Iran to return to the pre-revolutionary times, i.e. a monarchy, just like Saudi Arabia, so that whenever it demands oil, Iran would give oil and whenever it demands oil prices be dropped, it gets realized. You saw that Trump personally declared that he took $450 billion from Riyadh. Trump openly announced that receiving this $450 billion was much easier for him than receiving $100 from an illegitimate booth somewhere in New York. He wants Iran to be like Saudi Arabia; in fact he wants all countries in the region to be just like Saudi Arabia. Who is Saudi Arabia relying on? On the monarchists in the region as well as the Israeli entity that possesses nuclear weapons and threatens countries of the region.

Accordingly, the important strategy emphasized by Imam Khomeini (r.a.) was that if we want to have a safe region, live in permanent peace, defend our national sovereignty and integrity of lands, and if we want all countries of the region to enjoy national sovereignty and true freedom, none of them is possible to achieve as long as there is an Israeli entity. They seek to fixate the Israeli entity by means of peace treaties.

Today, who is the vanguard of supporting the aspiration of a Palestinian government and leading it?

Today, there is no question that Ayatollah Khamenei (May God Continue His Oversight) bears the flag of the Palestinian cause. Today, no one doubts that the Islamic Republic of Iran, with its determination, will and power, is the vanguard and the main nucleus and main pivot that steers the Resistance movement.

Israel and its authorities announced in 2000 that they would leave southern Lebanon and tried to pretend it was voluntary. Did they voluntarily leave or were they forced to leave Southern Lebanon?

The Israelis wanted to retreat from southern Lebanon due to the significant financial and human forces’ damage imposed on them by the Resistance. There is no doubt that it was the Resistance and their operations that forced Israel to leave southern Lebanon. In Lebanon, no one has any doubt about it; that is to say, everyone acknowledges it. Had it not been for the Resistance’s daily operations, Israel would have remained in southern Lebanon; there is no doubt about it. Of course, the Israelis, even when they were under the most extreme pressure from the Resistance, tried to gain a concession from the opponents and to impose their prerequisites on Syria and Lebanon. At that time, Lebanon as well as Syria—whose president was Hafez Al-Assad—rejected granting any concession to Israel. This helped the Lebanese government a lot, since Syria had a significant influence on the Lebanese government and helped it to reject Israel’s conditions. Here, I would like to add a point about the talks between Yitzhak Rabin and Hafez Al-Assad: one of the factors contributing to the discontinuation of the Israeli-Syrian negotiations process at that time was the stance Hafez al-Assad’s took; because when the Israelis came to the June 4 borders, Hafez Assad insisted to take back the Lake Tiberia. He said that it belonged to Syria and had to be returned to Syria. This was one of the factors that led to the discontinuation of Syrian-Israeli negotiations after the death of Yitzhak Rabin and under the rule of Shimon Peres.

Now let’s go back to the issue of southern Lebanon. We were saying that the Israelis tried to receive concessions from Syria and Lebanon and impose their prerequisites on them. The Syrian and Lebanese governments also expressed their opposition to this issue. Hezbollah and the Resistance in Lebanon also rejected it. On the other hand, Hezbollah Resistance continued its operations until the Israelis came to the conclusion that their remaining in Lebanon was costly and they could not gain any concessions from Lebanon. So they decided to leave Southern Lebanon without any prerequisites. Also note that at that time, there were domestic pressures in the occupied lands on the part of settlers on the Israeli regime to leave Syria, especially because the families of the Israeli military and the families of the dead were demanding Israel not to stay in Lebanon. More interestingly, they had set July 2000 as the date for leaving Lebanon, but the intensity of the operations of the Resistance forced Tel Aviv to withdraw from Lebanon and thus, with complete humiliation and precipitation, the regime’s military forces left southern Lebanon. This occurred by God’s grace.

I’d like to ask another question and I’m willing to close this discussion here. Ayatollah Khamenei said a few years ago, that Israel won’t survive to see the next 25 years.

Before coming to that, we need to finish the topic of the year 2000 victory. I remember a very important memory of Ayatollah Khamenei. You remember I said that in 1996 his Eminence had said no peace treaty would be achieved between Syria and Israel. In 2000, a few months before Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, and in accordance with our plans, we traveled to Tehran to meet with Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian officials. We—that is the Hezbollah council—traveled to Iran. On that trip, we also were accompanied by the military commanders of the Resistance for the first time. Nearly 50 commanders of the Resistance traveled with us.

At that time, we thought that Israel would not retreat from Lebanon in 2000. We were not sure, but we assumed it was unlikely that Israel would retreat in 2000, because we believed that Israel would not accept to retreat without imposing some prerequisites. We said to the Leader: “It is unlikely that Israel will withdraw from southern Lebanon. It seems that Israel will stay longer in Lebanon and we will need more time and more operations to make Israel withdraw with no preconditions.” Then he asked: “Why do you think this is unlikely?” We responded: “Because this measure would be a major threat to Israel. Israel withdrawing from south Lebanon with no preconditions represents obvious resistance and this will be considered the first obvious victory of Resistance, naturally affecting Palestine and Palestinian nation’s domestic developments; something that would pose a strategic threat to Israel and would signal to Palestinians the message that the main path is that of resistance and not negotiations. A message that told them: negotiations took your lands and sanctities away from you, but resistance liberated Lebanon and south Lebanon.” It was then that the Leader stated: “I recommend you to seriously assume that Israel will leave Lebanon and you will be victorious. You continue your activities and plan for the future based on this assumption. Plan on how to face Israel’s retreat from Lebanon on military, field work, media and political aspects.” We were surprised to hear these words, because we all believed that Ehud Barak—who had just won the election— would not act on his promise of retreat, because his conditions had not been met and particularly that he had not achieved security commitments either. That is to say, neither the Lebanese government, nor the Syrian government and nor Hezbollah of Lebanon had made security commitments to Israel. Thus the question was that, how would it be possible that Israel would retreat? This seemed unwise and illogical.

Even more important than that, following the meeting, in the evening, we went to the Leader’s home with our brothers from the Resistance, including the late Hajj Imad Mughniyah. Our brothers were those from the resistance, fighting on the front lines of the battle and could be martyred at any moment. After entering the Leader’s house, we and our brothers went to a great hall where prayers were performed. At the time, our brothers were wearing military uniforms, with keffiyehs worn around their necks, and looked a lot like the Basijis on the Iranian fronts. We were only supposed to perform congregational prayers with the Leader, and to offer our greetings before ending the ceremony. The Leader performed the prayers and after finishing Isha, he rose to greet his Lebanese brothers.

Then the Leader told his companions to move away. Then he said to me: “I am here to listen to you”. At this moment, one of our brothers came and kissed the Leader’s hand. Some of the brothers began to cry, and some of them were so impressed that could no longer stand on their feet. They slowly came forward. One of the brothers kissed the Leader’s hand, and when the second one bent down to kiss his feet, he did not allow it. He went back and told me: “Tell them to sit down and calm down so we can talk.” A speech was not planned for that ceremony. I asked my brothers to keep calm and I started translating the Leader’s speech for them. Among the issues he addressed—which I believe emerged from his spiritual vision and not simply from political analysis, rather from something deeper— was that he said: “You will be victorious by the grace of God. Your victory is much closer than what some people think. “He pointed to me because we had said that Israel’s withdrawal in such manner was unlikely. Pointing with his left hand, like this, he said: “Each and every one of you will see with your own eyes that you will be victorious.”

After that we returned to Lebanon. At that time, we carried out large operations and, of course, many members of the Resistance were martyred. May 25 came, and Israel’s surprising, unexpected and undignified retreat from southern Lebanon began. Also several were martyred during our progress towards the border. It was here that both predictions of the Leader of the Revolution were realized. First, the victory of the Resistance happened very soon, only a few months after that meeting; and second, all the people who were present at the meeting with the Leader and participated in the frontline operations, lived on to witness the great victory with their own eyes.

The question I wanted to ask before was that Ayatollah Khamenei said a few years ago that Israel would not see 25 years from now. [Meaning, there will be no Zionist Regime in 25 years.] There were interpretations of this sentence. Some people considered it to be definitive, and they started counting the days until it comes true. On the other hand, the front of Arrogance began to scoff at some of the interpretations of the statement. You have stood against the Zionist regime at different times and experienced various battles against this regime. Given your experiences, when you heard this statement from Ayatollah Khamenei, what was your perception and feelings about it?

First, I was not personally surprised by the remarks made by Ayatollah Khamenei, because we had heard similar statements in our private meetings in the previous years, especially in 2000, after the victory over the Zionist regime. We paid a visit to Ayatollah Khamenei a few months after the victory, and he was very delighted of the victory. We spoke about the future. At that time, he said: “If the Palestinian people, the Resistance in Lebanon, and the nations of the region perform their duties appropriately, and we continue this path, then certainly Israel cannot last for a long time in the region.” At that time, he mentioned something less than 25 years.

So when I heard the Leader’s 25 years remark, I concluded that he has given Israel extra time. That’s why I was not surprised. On the other hand, it should be mentioned that the Leader’s statement on Israel is absolutely serious. According to our experiences, some of which I already mentioned, we believe that the Leader is a person endorsed by Allah, the Almighty, and that what His Eminence states sometimes emerge from some other source–as it happened in the 33-day war. It should be noted that all data, investigations and information show that such an event (the elimination of Israel) will occur, but the realization of this matter is not unconditional, and it would happen under certain conditions. Therefore, if we resist and continue on the path we have taken, factual and field conditions indicate that Israel will not be able to remain in the region in the next 25 years.

We have done a lot of research and studies on the Israeli regime; trying to find answers for the following questions: what are the foundations of this regime? What are the hidden factors that have led to the existence of this regime? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this regime? Therefore, this shows that the Resistance has always exploited research as well as the power of logic and thinking based on existing facts.

Although there has been a revolutionary spirit in the fight against Zionism, this does not mean that the fight lacked research and rationality. I do not know the hidden dimensions of the Leader’s words. Based on field studies and real investigations, we can clearly say that Israel cannot survive, because the existence of Israel in the region is not a natural existence; rather, its existence does not match the nature of the region. This entity has been imposed on the region cannot and hence cannot become normalized and turn into a normal issue.

Moreover, even if the Arab monarchs, emirs and rulers want it, all the nations of the region oppose the existence of Israel and firmly reject this illegitimate entity [against their rulers’ will]. The elements of weakness are ample in the Israeli entity, so the likelihood of the collapse of this regime is very high. I refer to two examples of Israel’s apparent weakness: first, Israel’s power is now heavily dependent on the power of the United States. Consequently, if anything happens to the United States of America—like what happened to the USSR, from the collapse of its economy to internal problems and discords and natural disasters or any other incident that might get the U.S. busy dealing with its problems and lead to a reduction of Washington’s influence in the region, you will see that the Israelis will get their stuff and evacuate in the shortest possible time. Therefore, their destruction does not necessarily entail a war.

Israeli regime’s existence in Palestine depends on the U.S.’s spiritual, psychological, military and economic support. If the U.S. gets busy with its own problems, Israel will have no chance to survive and there would be no need for a war with that regime. This is just one example, truly foreseeable.

Everyone knows that the United States allocates an annual amount of $3 billion to Israel. Meanwhile, Israelis enjoy US $10 billion worth of US banking facilities per year. A part of U.S. taxpayers’ money is spent on Israel. Moreover, the most advanced technologies are transferred to Israel; Washington’s support for Israel is completely obvious. One of the most important reasons behind the humiliated stances taken by Arab regimes towards Israel is their fear of the United States, not fear of Israel itself. If a day comes when some Arab regimes and Arab armies free themselves from pressures by the U.S., their stances towards Israel will be different. Even the armies and the regimes themselves [will take a different stance].

Let me make another example: the governments of the world usually build armies for themselves, but it is said that Israel is an army made for the regime. In the world, a country’s army might collapse, but that country will stand. For example, after the U.S. war on Iraq, the Americans dissolved the Iraqi army, but Iraq remained and did not disappear. There are countries in the world that do not have an army or have a weak army; however, Israel is a regime that cannot survive without a strong army; if its army is defeated, or if the truth of the Israeli army—that is its weakness and instability—is disclosed to the settlers and they realize that this army is incapable of supporting them, you will see the Israelis will get their stuff and flee.

My dear brothers! Israel has many lethal weaknesses. That is why I believe that in the shade of a national will power against the survival of this regime, regional and international events will take place in this regard. I am among those who strongly believe in the new generation and God willing, this generation will enter Palestine and perform prayers in Quds, and there will be no Israel.

Sayyed Nasrallah p3

Imam Khamenei’s secret letter delivered to Hezbollah by General Soleimani

The 33-day war was a good test to see how powerful Israel is and how powerful Hezbollah and the axis of Resistance are as opposed to it. At some point, the Israeli army attacked several Arab countries and defeated them in a 6-day war. In the 33-day war, the Zionist army’s attacks on Hezbollah’s sites as well as on the innocent people in southern Lebanon were severe, but these attacks ultimately failed, and it seems that this war and the resulting victory became a turning point in the history of the region. What is your analysis of this war, and the defeat that Israel suffered as it failed to achieve its goals. In other words, what directions will it lead Tel Aviv to?

We can discuss it more broadly and refer to the aftermath of the 9/11 and the emergence of Neo-Conservatives in the U.S., i.e. the George Bush era; because the war on Lebanon was part of the same project and a bigger plan. It was at this point where the importance of the leadership role of Ayatollah Khamenei in the region became increasingly evident. George Bush and his associates used the 9/11 incident as the excuse to attack the countries of the region; fir they had the intention of conducting such attacks even prior to the 9/11. They chose to target Iraq on the pretext of possessing weapons of mass destruction. However, after the 9/11, they had to go to Afghanistan first and then move to Iraq.

So an American project opened in the years 2000 and 2001. Washington believe that the peace process in the region between Arabs and Israel had declined. The Resistance achieved a major victory in Lebanon, and consequently Israel retreated from southern Lebanon. Iran also became more and more powerful both in terms of its domestic affairs and in the whole region. This was a great victory for Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and even Palestinian resistance groups. Iran was also becoming more power day after day both domestically and regionally. After seeing these events, the U.S. decided to have an extensive military presence in the region so that, firstly they could pursue their interests, by gaining dominance over the oil resources and natural resources of the countries; secondly, they could impose a solution on the region that would benefit Israel and fixate its existence.

To achieve this goal, they needed to eliminate any obstacle. These obstacles Resistance in Palestine, Resistance in Lebanon, the Syrian government, and Iran. This was the project they were pursuing. All documents and evidence prove that. Well, after the 9/11, they had to go to Afghanistan, because the determining part of the neo-cons and George Bush’s project included encircling Iran and isolating it. The U.S. troops based in Pakistan, their forces in the Persian Gulf countries and the Persian Gulf waters as well as their forces based in Syria and the some neighboring countries were deployed to Afghanistan and then Iraq to complete the encircling of Iran.

Naturally, before isolating Iran and attacking it, the Americans would need to completely dominate over Iraq, destroy the Resistance in Palestine and Lebanon, and then put an end to the life of the Damascus government; that is, [destroy] Iran’s friends in the region and those countries the U.S. regarded as Iran’s strong allies and arms in the region. They also sought to annihilate those who would resist humiliating peace with Israel, because peace with Israel was one of the conditions for isolating Iran and attacking it. That is to say, the first goal was to expand the direct military presence, and then to overthrow the countries, to destroy the resistance groups, to establish an Arab-Israeli peace, and to form a single Arab-Israeli front led by Washington to attack Iran and overthrow the Islamic Republic and take over the country. This was the U.S. project.

Thus, the first step was the war in Afghanistan, and the second step entailed the war in Iraq. I will tell you about the third phase and what happened. After the occupation of Iraq, if you remember, Colin Powell, who was the U.S. secretary of state at that time, went to Damascus with a long list of U.S. conditions, and met with Bashar al-Assad. He wanted to exploit the environment of fear that had been created following the U.S. attack on the region to impose his conditions on Assad regarding the Golan Heights, Palestine, Palestinian Resistance, Hezbollah of Lebanon, etc. Anyway, it was a long list [of conditions]. Despite the U.S.’s threats, Bashar Assad refused to surrender to them.

So the Americans failed and moved to the next phase. At that time, the elections of the Palestinian Legislative Council were scheduled. The U.S. assumed that the Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, would win the election, and that Hamas and other resistance groups would be defeated. Washington presumed that the PA would win and then begin to disarm the Palestinian Resistance and commence the process of reconciliation with Israel. But what happened? A major surprise; Hamas took to the Legislative Council by winning the vast majority of the votes. After that, the U.S. took their next step, which entailed a military strike on Lebanon. At that point, the 33-day war and the Resistance of Hezbollah took place.

The goal of the United States was to eliminate Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine, and then to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon. For after achieving their goal, they had plans to go to Syria after in order to overthrow the government of Damascus, and after that make peace with Israel and normalize relations between Israel and the Arabs; and afterwards to encircle Iran and isolate it. Naturally at that time, the victory over the Palestinian Resistance and Israel’s victory over Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad’s government could have been a major achievement for George W. Bush by which he could attain more victories at congress as well as presidential elections.

In late 2006, when mid-term congress elections were around and George Bush needed to win two third of the seats, an imminent American writer told me—and of course late he wrote it—: In order to succeed in congressional elections and even presidential elections, George W. Bush desperately needed to enter the electoral campaign like a cowboy, carrying three bloody severed heads: the head of the Resistance in Palestine, the head of Hezbollah’s Resistance and Bashar al-Assad’s head. If Bush succeeded in winning these three heads, he could win two-thirds of congressional votes for his party and, at the same time, he could guarantee a war against Iran.” The main purpose of what would happen was, in fact, to end the Palestinian issue and provide the preliminaries for a war against Iran. I am going to elaborate on this topic and I hope a there will be an opportunity to explain this matter to the Iranian nation so that they will properly realize the fact that the ultimate goal of the conflicts and disputes in the region is not only Palestine, but the ultimate goal is to restore the U.S.’s domination over Iran, over its resources and facilities and to bring it back to what it was during the reign of the Shah.

Well, at this stage of history of the developments in the region, Iran’s position, and the positions held by the Leader were of high importance. First, in the spiritual sense. Well, the U.S. entered the region. Obviously, there is neither the Soviet Union, nor the socialist front,; rather there is only one domineering, arrogant, and merciless power in the world called the United States. This power decided to launch a military war in the region and entered the region with its armies and military equipment. All but a few were frightened and startled. Here, we remember the stances taken by the Leader regarding the U.S.’s invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq. Ayatollah Khamenei travelled to different provinces of Iran and reassured the Iranian people, the nations of the region as well as resistance groups, and delivered speeches wherein he strengthened the spirit of resistance and never surrendering to the U.S.’s historic and severe attack on the region. This was indeed a very difficult mission. I remember that after the invasion of Afghanistan and prior to the occupation of Iraq, I traveled to Iran to meet with the Leader.

I told him that some concerns had risen in the region. See what outlook he adopted. He turned to me and said: “Tell all our brothers not to fear; rather, the coming of the Americans to the region signals achieving freedom in the future.” I was surprised to hear this statement. He pointed with his finger this way and asserted: “The Americans have reached the peak but with their invasion of Afghanistan, their decline has started. If the Americans truly believed that Israel and other Arab regimes and their mercenaries in the region were capable of supporting the interests of Washington, they would have never deployed their armies and navies to the region. Thus, this military act taken by them is a sign of their defeat and the failure of their policies in the region. Had they not failed, they would not need to take such measured.  When the Americans come to the conclusion that they must act directly in order to achieve their interests in the region, this is a sign of weakness, not power. When any army, no matter how big and powerful, moves thousands of miles and goes to an area where there are living nations, such an army will surely be defeated and collapse. Therefore, the U.S. coming to the region marks the beginning of their fall and decline, not the beginning of a new era for them.”

Ayatollah Khamenei recurrently reiterated this point, putting it in different words on different occasions. However, he told me this very clearly and obviously, and I quoted him and we discussed this issue together. Anyway, it was the year 2006 when we took up the path of resistance. If you remember, on the very first day of the war, the Leader issued a statement wherein he endorsed the Resistance and stressed the need to resist and fight against invaders. This measure on his part was very valuable for us, our nation, and our combatants; because we are talking of a tough battle wherein we witnessed bloodshed, martyrs, and wounds.

When we saw that our wali e-amr, our leader, our frontrunner, and our marja’ encouraged us to resist, our spirit and motivation increased manifold and we powerfully engaged in a war against the invaders. After a short time and only within 4 or 5 days—that is when Israel had bombed all places it knew, the Americans assumed that we were in a weak position, we were scared and it was our time to surrender. At that time, the Americans spoke with Sa’d al-Hariri, who is now the Lebanese Prime Minister. A-Hariri was not the prime minister then, he was the head of a parliamentary fraction to which the prime minister of the time, Fouad Siniora, was inclined. Al-Hariri contacted us and reported that the Americans—that is the negotiator was the U.S. government—are ready to stop the war on southern Lebanon if three conditions are met.

The first condition was that Hezbollah releases two Israeli prisoners it had captivated. The second condition was that Hezbollah becomes completely disarmed and turns into a [merely] political party. The third condition was that Hezbollah agrees with the deployment of multinational forces to the south of Lebanon. That is, neither the international forces affiliated with the U.N., as you call international organizations of the United Nations. At that time multinational forces had already entered Iraq. These forces were not afflicted with the U.S. Security Council, rather they belong to the U.S.

The goal was to make us  accept that multinational forces be deployed to Lebanon, to the Lebanon-Palestine border, the Lebanon-Syria borders s well as in airports, coasts, and the Lebanese entrance and exit gates. That is, an international occupation and an American occupation. Naturally, we rejected these three conditions and continued to fight. At that time, Condoleezza Rice visited Lebanon. What did she tell the Lebanese? She talked of the determining battle and that Hezbollah would definitely be defeated and destroyed, and made the famous remark that “the region was going through the pain of giving birth to a new Middle East”. This is the “New Middle East” we were talking about.

Despite all this, the resistance stood and became victorious. Therefore, the first round of the U.S. project failed in light of the results of the Palestinian elections. The second round failed in Lebanon; that is the plot to destroy Hezbollah miscarried. Consequently, the third round also miscarried; because it was planned that after the destruction of Hezbollah, the war would go to Syria, and Israel and the U.S. would attack the ruling government in Syria. This did not happen, either. These were the first, second, and third failures that the United States faced.

With regard to Iraq, the Leader’s position was absolutely clear. He insisted that the United States should be recognized as an occupier in Iraq. All official stances taken by the officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran also indicated the occupation of Iraq by the United States. After a while, public resistance began in Iraq. While it was assumed that the U.S. would stay in Iraq, dominate it and take control of it, in the end, Washington had no option but to leave Iraq as a result of the armed and sincere resistance in Iraq—not a resistance like that of the Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda or takfiries— as well as a mighty political stance and the emergence of a national willpower in that country. Henceforth, the United States left Iraq, albeit in the light of an agreement. When the U.S. withdrew from Iraq, I explicitly stated that this was a great achievement and victory for the Iraqi resistance, but unfortunately nobody celebrated this great victory of the Iraqi people. This great victory of Iraqis during which the United States was forced to leave Iraq in 2011 should have been celebrated.

Eventually, all U.S. projects in the region miscarried at this stage: all-American projects from 2001 to 2011, or the “New Middle East” project failed. The United States failed to win control of the region in order to bring about a disgraceful peace deal with Israel, normalize the Arab-Israeli relations to eradicate the Palestinian question, destroy resistance movements, dominate over countries, and isolate and invade Iran. How did this happen? Here we see the role of the Leader, the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as its allies and friends in the region. They were the ones who foiled these plots.

Naturally, the Al-Saud and the rulers of many Arab and Persian Gulf countries were an integral part of the United States’ plan in the region and they were in some way a means for implementing the American plots. Israel was the U.S.’s most important means for realizing its plans in the region. However, those who stood up to the U.S.’s plots and conspiracies were the Islamic Republic of Iran led by Ayatollah Khamenei, Syria led by President Assad, the Resistance in Lebanon and their allies, the Resistance in Palestine and their allies, sincere political and national leaders in Iraq—headed by the religious clergy in holy Najaf—, and Islamic and national groups in the region.

But who played the most important role, empowered others, and supported them? The Islamic Republic of Iran and Ayatollah Khamenei’s position, stances and determination. We were at the heart of the events that took place between 2001 and 2011—that is during a decade—and their obvious outcome was the defeat of the U.S.

I will close this part of my speech with a memory of Ayatollah Khamenei (May Allah protect him). In the 33-day war—which actually lasted 34 days, but is called the 33-day war—the Lebanese people were naturally very worried, at the beginning of the war, about what they was going to happen. What happened? Even some Lebanese officials contacted Saudi authorities, asking Riyadh to intervene as a mediator and end the war in southern Lebanon. The Saudis replied to the Lebanese officials by saying: “No one will interfere. There is a U.S., international and regional consensus that Hezbollah should be eradicated and crushed. Hezbollah has no way but to surrender or be destroyed.” Obviously, our decision was to fight back and there was a strong willpower for fighting and a spirit of Karbala ruling the whole of Hezbollah. This quote by Imam Hussain (a.s.) was always in front of our eyes that: “Beware that the humiliated man, son of the humiliated, has pressured me between the sword and surrender in humiliation. Never to humiliation!

We were faced with the two options of war or a humiliated surrender, and we chose war over the other. In the early days of the war, our dear friend and brother, Hajj Qasim Soleimani, contacted us. He came to Damascus, contacted Beirut and said that he needed to meet with us. We asked him: How do you want to do it? We said to Hajj Qasim Soleimani: “The Israelis are bombarding all the bridges, roads, and cars, and you cannot reach us.”

This dear friend of ours told us that he needed to get to us, because he had an important message from Ayatollah Khamenei to deliver to us. We arranged the situation, so eventually Hajj Qasim came to Beirut’s southern suburbs during the early days of the war. He said that when the Leader (May Allah protect him) was in Mashhad, he called on all the officials of the Islamic Republic—including the current and former presidents, the current and former foreign ministers, the current and former defense ministers, the current and the former IRGC commanders, and other officials to hold a meeting together.

Hajj Qasim explained to me that during the meeting, the war against Lebanon and its objectives as well as the question as what the war would lead to were examined. From the outset, the Islamic Republic of Iran considered the war on Lebanon to be part of the United States’ plan in the region and not an issue separate from that plot. Hajj Qasim said that all of the participants in the meeting unanimously agreed that the Islamic Republic of Iran had to stand alongside the Lebanese resistance, Lebanese government and people, as well as alongside Syria; because there was the threat that the war would be spread to Syria and therefore, Iran needed to use all its political, financial and military capabilities to help the front of Resistance win. Hajj Qasim further said that once the meeting was over and Maghrib and Isha prayers were performed, the audience were about to leave when the Leader asked them to stay longer, saying: “I have words with you.”  This happened after the first meeting; that is, the first formal meeting.

Afterwards, Ayatollah Khamenei turned to Hajj Qasim and said: “You write what I say, then go to Beirut and give it to that [particular] person. He will discuss the matters with his friends and brothers, if he deems it proper.” After describing the events, Hajj Qasim started reading the Leader’s words for me. Among his words, the Leader had said: “The captivity of Israeli soldiers by the Lebanese Resistance was a hidden divine grace; because the operation forced Israel to enter Lebanon, in respond to your action. The Israelis and the Americans were preparing themselves to attack Lebanon and Hezbollah late summer or early fall 2006, and so you would have been caught by surprise, while you were not ready for a war. Therefore, the captivity of the Israeli military forces by you was a divine blessing that brought about progress in time; so the war did not happen when the United States and Israel had planned it; it happened when they were not ready for it and they were just getting prepared, while you were already prepared for it. That is to say, it happened at a time when there was no source of being caught by surprise.

This statement of the Leader was later confirmed and verified great figures. For example, when I referred to it in the media, the eminent professor Mohamed Hassanein Heikal acknowledged it in separate programs on Al Jazeera channel at that time. Meanwhile, one of the great American writers, Seymour Hersh, confirmed the matter. I should point out that when I raised the issue in the media, I did not attribute it to the Leader.

Another point that Ayatollah Khamenei had referred to in that message was that he had said: “This war is very similar to the Battle of the Confederates, which happened during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.). This war will be very difficult and frustrating, it will threaten your existence; you are obliged to be patient in this war.” In this part of his message he had quoted the Quranic verse “and hearts almost reached the throat … you started to think of God with suspicion; [the Quran; 33:10].” The Leader had also said: “you should place your trust completely in God.” Also, the third part of his message read: “You will be victorious in this war.” I had heard a similar sentence before—I do not exactly remember if it was before or after that—but someone narrated Ayatollah Behjat (Allah’s mercy be upon him), as telling us: “Be sure, and be certain that you will win the war, God willing.”

But the interesting and important point in the Leader’s message was that he had said: “you will win the war, and after that you will become a regional power to the point that no other power will be able to confront you.” At that time, I laughed and said to Hajj Qasim: “We will turn into a regional power? If we manage to survive the current battle and maintain our existence, we have made a great achievement.” Then, I commented jokingly: “My dear brother! We do not want to become a regional power.” But anyway, Ayatollah Khamenei’s letter on that day created some sort of assurance in me. From that day on, I was sure that we were going to win the war and after that, we were going to become a regional power; which actually happened.

Did his Eminence recommend any duas and supplications during the 33-day war?

During the early days of the war, I received a letter from the Leader, which I still keep. At that time, I also received a letter from my brother and friend, Mr. Hejazi. Mr. Hejazi advised us in his letter to recite some supplications, but I do not exactly remember if he had attributed the recommendations to Ayatollah Khamenei. I do not remember that very well, but I remember that the supplication “Jowshan” was recommended by the Leader—as far as I recall now.

The supplications “Jowshan Saghir” and “Appeal to Imam Mahdi (God’s greetings be upon him and may God hasten his reappearance)” as well as “Ziarat Ashura”, besides that well-known supplication were among the recommendations in this regard. But in general, I would like to refer to my experience on knowing the leader.

We would naturally recommend the same to our brothers. These are among the sources of strength for Hezbollah in the wars. Supplicating to God and relying on Him has always been part of our schedule, and the Leader always emphasized it. Ever since we knew the Leader, he always insisted on spiritual matters: that is, the need for trust in and reliance on God, the Almighty. He recited in all meetings: “If you help God, He will help you and make you steadfast (in your faith); [the Quran; 47:7].” He always stressed that what the Almighty God says is no joke; His words are explicit and this is God’s promise. God will surely fulfill His promise. He has always insisted on trust in God’s promises. Even now, at times, he specifically focuses on this matter in his statements. He particularly emphasizes on reciting Duas, supplicating to God, and asking for His assistance.

I remember at times we felt exhausted, because we faced very difficult phases and the situation was frustrating. In one of the meetings, His Eminence told me: “whenever you feel exhausted, in face of threats and difficulties, find a quite a place, get in and close the door. So for a short while—a few minutes, 15 minutes or 30 minutes—speak with God with your own words; there is no need to recite a supplication. With the same language you use to speak with others, speak with God; talk to Him about your sorrows and pains, and ask Him to help you. Don’t all of us believe that the Almighty God is always present, witnessing everything, and capable of doing anything? The Almighty God knows all our needs and there is no barrier between Him and us. He will welcome us at any time, and He will hear us, by any language we speak. If you do so, you will see that the Almighty God will grant you power, will and energy, and He will open all His doors to you.” Since then, we have acted based on the Leader’s recommendation and we have seen its fabulous results.

Several questions remain, and we don’t have much time left. There are two issues that we won’t discuss here: the enemy’s efforts to create divisions between the Shias and Sunnis, and the issue of Islamic awakening. In addition, during the last seven to eight years, we have witnessed the emergence of an important event in the region:  an event that has had very strategic effects in the region; and that is the events and crisis in Syria. In your opinion, why was Syria chosen for the implementation of the plots in this region, and what were the dimensions of this crisis? Another question I’ like to ask is why, despite the heavy costs, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hezbollah got involved in the Syrian crisis? What would have happened if they hadn’t engaged in this affair? What were the presumed repercussions that led Iran and Hezbollah to assume their engagement in Syria as essential?

This is related to our discussion about regional transformations from 2001 to 2011. We said that the end was marked by the U.S.’s withdrawal from Iraq, their defeat in Lebanon, their failure in Syria, their defeat in Palestine, and therefore, the miscarriage of the U.S.’s plans in the region. After 2011, this situation—failures of the U.S.’s plans—is still ongoing. This is an important and historic phase in the life of the region, the life of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei (May Allah protect him); for in the early 2011 the Leader referred to it as the phase of “the Islamic awakening”; which is called the “Arab Spring” in the region.

I would like to speak about the Islamic awakening in the region before starting the debate on Syria. The Arab Spring, the Islamic Awakening, or massive popular uprisings in the region first erupted in Tunisia, later took place in Libya and Egypt, and then happened in Yemen. These incidents were followed by conflicts in Syria. Briefly, based on what was happening at that time we concluded that after the U.S.’s plans and attacks miscarried, Obama tried to compensate for the defeat.

The nations of the region became awakened and began to take action in hope of making changes. It was in this context that the Arab regimes found themselves at a disadvantage. A great opportunity was provided for the nations to overturn the regimes. My inference and many others’ conclusion was the same as what the Leader had suggested since the very beginning. He had said that “these national movements are genuine national movements.” The Tunisian movement represented the Tunisian people and their national will, the Egyptian movement represented the will of the Egyptian people, the Libyan movement represented the will of the Libyans, and the Yemeni movement was the same. All the slogans that these movements were chanting and the goals they were trying to accomplish rose from their popular and national views and interests.

Thus, we saw the true impact of Islam and the Islamist movements in this great movement and the awakening of the nations. That’s precisely why the Leader called it the “Islamic awakening.” But what was the main problem with this Islamic awakening? The problem lied in the lack of a leadership and unity. You see, the Islamic Revolution in Iran was a massive popular revolution, but what made this revolution successful and strengthened it after the victory was the existence of a leader, Imam Khomeini (r.a.). Another factor that led to the victory of this revolution was unity among all the people, authorities, and scholars who unanimously supported Imam Khomeini (r.a.).

Therefore, at that time there was a unified nation and a leader who outlined the policies and strategies for the orderly progress of the affairs. So the problem that existed in these countries (revolutions)—except in Syria which I will discuss later—was the lack of a reliable and united leadership. There existed many leaders and many parties with no unity among them: they had disagreements. When they wanted to negotiate with each other, their disagreements emerged. This also affected the people, so the people were divided, too. It even led to civil wars in certain regions.

The Americans and some countries of the region entered the scene to take possession of and defeat the national movements in different countries. Here, the U.S. played an important role. France also got involved in North Africa. Moreover, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined in fiercely to eliminate the Islamic Awakening—the Arab Spring—and eliminate popular uprisings. They were trying to achieve their goals by mobilizing their media power and supporting military coups in the region. We all know how the situation unfolded in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. But in Yemen, the situation is different. They tried to take possession of the popular uprising in Yemen for their profit, but a large part of the Yemeni nation, with national and political resistance, continued to support dear the brother Al-Sayyid Abdul-Malik al-Houthi and the Ansar Allah movement, and stood against the foreigners until an unjust war was imposed on them: the war which continues to this day.

Now we get to the case of Syria. What happened in Syria had nothing to do with the “Arab Spring” or “the Islamic Awakening”. What happened in Syria was the implementation of the plot of the U.S., Saudi Arabia and some countries in the region to block the achievement of the movement of Resistance; particularly, because at that time the popular revolution in Egypt had made Israel very worried about its future in the region.

At that time, the Israelis held big conferences in which they spoke of the strategic atmosphere. They were even considering re-establishing some military battalions and sending them to the Sinai borders. This shows how worried and frightened Israel was about the changes in Egypt.

After they lost hope in turning the Syrian government into their ally, their desirable goal to pursue in Syria was to overthrow the government and the ruling system. What many do not know is that before taking actions to overthrow the Damascus government, much effort was made so that President Bashar al-Assad would lead the Syrian movement to another direction. The Saudis worked on this issue so hard that even “Malik Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz” personally went to Damascus, despite the fact that he had boycotted Syria. The Qatari government also worked hard to achieve this goal. Turkey and a number of other Arab countries, including Egypt, during the ruling of Hosni Mubarak, also tried to push Syria into joining the opposing front. By giving political and enticing financial promises to Assad, the U.S. and their allies tried to push Syria to another direction, the so-called “Arab moderation”, which we actually call “Arab surrender.”

Nevertheless, President Bashar al-Assad and other Syrian leaders consistently emphasized their firm support for the Resistance, believing that the Arab-Israeli conflict persisted. Bashar al-Assad believed that there would be no peace in the region without resolving the issue of the occupied Golan, and compensating for the unaccomplished rights of the Palestinians.

=All in all, what happened was that the Americans failed to make Damascus comply with them; Washington knew well that Syria had a pivotal status within the framework of the Resistance. If we want to explain the precise role of Syria with regard to the Resistance, we should mention the Leader’s description of the country. He stated: “Syria is the pillar of Resistance”. Today, without Syria, Lebanon’s resistance will be marginalized. Without Syria, Palestinian resistance will be marginalized, because Syria is one of the main components of the body of Resistance in the region. Some believe that Syria is like a bridge for the Resistance, but I believe that this country is more than a bridge, because Syria is one of the main components of the body, intellect and culture as well as the thinking and will of the Resistance in the region. This fact was proved especially after the 33-day war. Syria’s position, Syria’s support, and Syria’s stability were threatened during the 33-day war: [the plot was that] while the United States is present in Iraq and the borders of Syria, Israel would expand the scope of the war and attack Syria and launch a massive war against Syria. But Bashar al-Assad did not back down, and resolutely and sovereignly continued to support the Resistance during the 33-day war.

After the end of the 33-day war, the Israelis did some research and eventually concluded that in order to end the Resistance in Lebanon and Palestine, they first needed to abolish Syria and they planned to do so. Since they could not take over Syria through their policies, they opted for a military option. If they had been able to create a military coup by penetrating the Syrian army, they would have done so, but they could not. After this failure, the Americans and Israelis abused the freedom of expression in media and political space of Syria and pushed the transformations to a direction which created chaos and internal conflicts in Syria. Since the very early days of the anti-government protests in Syria, I saw first-hand that President Bashar al-Assad organized meetings with the leaders of opposition leaders and tried to meet their demands.

But, afterwards, the demonstrations turned into military operations, just like what happened during the occupation of Daraa. The Americans, Saudis and some other countries in the region sent al-Qaeda, ISIS and Al-Nusra Front Takfiris from all over the world to Syria so they dominate over Syria and put an end to the Syrian state. To serve the interests of whom? To serve the interests of the US and Israel. To serve the interests of the powers who look forward to extinguishing the Palestinian issue; to serve the interests of the powers who want to encircle, isolate and attack Iran. This is the truth. Therefore, the Syrian issue was by no means a problem of people seeking a certain type of election or reform, because Bashar al-Assad was ready to discuss any option that the people wanted. But others quickly took actions to occupy the areas and hit the Syrian army, security forces and Syrian institutions to overthrow Bashar al-Assad through a military solution.

They opened the borders and many ships came carrying loads of military weapons. Joe Biden himself says that tens of thousands tons of weapons and ammunition were delivered to Syria. The U.S. spent hundreds of billions of dollars in this country. What for? To realize democracy in Syria?! ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra were seeking to establish democracy in Syria? Were those who regarded the elections as the worst sin, considered voters in the elections as pagans, and killing them as legitimate, seeking to organize elections for Syrians? The answer was clear; and today, it has been proved that what happened in Syria did not have anything to do with elections, reforms or democracy-related matters; because Bashar al-Assad was willing to negotiate these issues. But they [the West] were in a hurry to overthrow the Syrian government and dominate the country.

What hastens the collapse of the Saudi regime is its officials’ actions

As I’ve mentioned in some media outlets, one and a half years after the start of the Syrian crisis, around 2012 or 2013, Malik Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz sent a special envoy to Bashar al-Assad. Saudi Arabia sent a message to Assad, declaring that if he withdrew from the Resistance and ended his ties with Iran, the war on Syria would be stopped and a solution to the takfiri groups would be found, and Assad would be recognized as President, forever. The Saudis told Assad, “we are demanding neither reform nor anything else, and we are willing to pay hundreds of billions of dollars to reconstruct Syria”. Therefore, the goal was completely different from the demands of the nations in the Arab Spring. The goal was to rob Syria off its historical status, to rob off its rights and to draw it out of the Resistance movement, to prepare the grounds for the obliteration of the Palestinian cause, for the stabilization of U.S.’s position in Iraq, and the isolation and encirclement of Iran. Well, since day one, our understanding of the war was this. I hope that the brothers in Iran will help disperse the information on these facts. Some U.S. officials and Syrian opponents said that if they could dominate Syria, they would immediately enter Lebanon to get rid of Hezbollah. Others said they would go to Iraq. So, the issue was not just Syria.

When the president of the United States, Donald Trump, acknowledges that Obama, Clinton and the CIA created the terror group ISIS and sent it to Syria, was the terrorists’ goal to establish democracy in Syria and the election, or they sought to destroy this country? That’s why we clearly knew from the first day that the goal of the war on Syria was not related to such matters. The goal of this war was to overthrow the Syrian government, destroy the Syrian army, and expand dominance over Syria, so that Syria would yield up its rights and grounds would be prepared for the destruction of the Palestinian issue, the normalization of relations with Israel, and the elimination of all the aspirations and dreams of the nations of the region. We agreed on this conclusion in Lebanon, for example in Hezbollah, and there was not even one single different opinion among the members of Hezbollah regarding the goals of the war against Syria. Even Ayatollah Khamenei—who is also approved by God and enjoys great historical insight and awareness, as well as the characteristics of the famous and exceptional leadership—believed in the principle that the Syrian issue was not a matter of democracy, reform, and so on.

I pointed out in some gatherings that there were people suggesting that Iran had ordered us to enter Syria, but this is not true. We decided to enter Syria because we felt seriously threatened by the situation in Syria and Lebanon. There was the risk that the war would soon be drawn into our towns and villages. We were willing to engage in the war, but after all, it required permission and support—and the former, i.e. permission, was more important.

I paid a visit to the Leader, I explained my data and inference about Syria and its transformations, and I presented my own arguments. I learned that his view about the events in Syria was much clearer and deeper than our view. His positions with regard to Syria and its transformations were clear from the very beginning. He said that this was a plot for overthrowing Syria, and it targeted Syria, the status of Syria with relation to the Resistance and the Palestinian issue, the Resistance movement, and also the Islamic Republic of Iran; because after they finish with Syria, they would attack Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. This is what actually happened. They came to Lebanon and occupied a part of Al-Baqaa, and if they had been able, they would have occupied more areas. But we and the Lebanese army stood up to them and besieged them in mountainous areas.

You saw in Iraq, Takfiri terrorists were quickly transported from the east of Euphrates in Syria to Iraq, and they dominated the province of Al Anbar over a very short period of time. This province accounts for over a quarter of Iraq’s total area. They also subjugated Mosul, Saladin, and other parts, reaching an area 20 kilometers from the city of Karbala and 40 kilometers from Baghdad. This means that we actually saw over the past years, what Ayatollah Khamenei had judged at the beginning of the Syrian events. There, the reason for the Leader’s firm position as to side with Syria was revealed. The Islamic Republic of Iran adopted this position, and we, too, taking this position, went to Syria and fought there. The Syrian government, people and army resisted the plots. A large portion of the Syrian population supported the government and resisted. We have always said that after God’s grace, this was the resistance and endurance of the Syrian government, people and leaders that led to the victory of Syria. Hezbollah of Lebanon, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iraqi friends, and Russia were the arms that assisted Syria, and the main task was carried out by the Syrian government, people and army. If the Syrian leaders surrendered, if the Syrian army collapsed, or if the Syrian people stopped supporting the government and the army, we would not have achieved anything in the big war in the Levant. We only assisted them.

So, now we are here. I will finish this part of my talk by mentioning anecdotes of my visit to Ayatollah Khamenei and the spiritual capacity of this dear and honorable Sayyid. After the Syrian crisis began in 2011, a US-led international coalition entered this country, and all the countries of the world believed that Damascus would collapse within only two months. All the Arab countries believed this. Even some of our friends also believed that. So, we also felt a little worried, even though we didn’t really believe that. The dimensions of the matter were not clear for us, and we were very worried. At that time, some countries like Turkey and Qatar, with which we were in contact prior to the Syrian crisis, sent us messages. At that time, Mr. Davutoğlu who had a political responsibility came to Lebanon.

Did this happen before the Istanbul summit or after that?

No, it was after the events and before the Astana meetings. Astana meeting was held after Davutoğlu’s visit. I am currently talking about the transformations in the first and second years of the Syrian crisis, especially in the first year. The Turkish leaders sent us messages that “We are willing to give you a guarantee. You stand back and do not count on Syria, because we guarantee you that Damascus will fall in two or three months.” Many brothers in Iran were also influenced by this atmosphere. At a meeting with the Leader and a number of Iranian officials, we learned that some Iranian authorities were also influenced by the atmosphere formed in the region. But in that meeting, contrary to the views and opinions of all the countries of the world, the experts of the region, and even a number of Iranian officials, the Leader turned to me and said: “We have to make Syria and Bashar al-Assad win, and they will eventually win.”

Meanwhile, all the world said a different thing. After about 2 years, the signs of the realization of this prediction by the Supreme Leader of the Revolution were also revealed. Now that we reached this point, we are possibly witnessing a major and historic victory in Syria. Imagine for a moment that ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front and their American allies had become victorious in Syria and had subjugated this country, what would have happened to Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran? And what would the fate of the nations of the region have been? What would the fate of Palestine and Quds have been? In the case of the victory of the Takfiris, the deal of the century would have come about long ago, and it was enacted by this day. If today Ben Salman told the Palestinians to accept minor things they were given, what would have happened to Quds and Palestine? Therefore, if we want to know the importance of the victory that was achieved in Syria, we must reverse this question and ask: if we had not won and had been defeated in Syria, if they had won, what would be the situation in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, and the whole region? When we answer this question, we understand the importance of what the fighters have accomplished in Syria and the significance of their resistance.

You repeatedly emphasized that the rulers of different countries contacted Bashar al-Assad, giving him various promises of the financial and political kind, and even guaranteed his remaining in power, but he eventually refused to accept these promises. What was the reason for Bashar al-Assad’s persistence and resistance against these promises, and what caused him to endure so much pressure?

It was mainly because Bashar al-Assad did not trust the American and Arab parties. On the other hand, Assad knew their experience; because they all consider granting concessions. Yet, he himself is not a man who would give concessions in exchange for the essential and national principles. Bashar al-Assad believed that offering any concession in exchange for national principles would be risky for Syria’s existence, national sovereignty, and its status in the region.

Before Syria faced this situation and Iran, Hezbollah and Syria itself and the government of Dr. Bashar al-Assad opted for this solution, were other alternatives investigated to see if other options were available or there was basically no other way from the beginning?

Our initial option was negotiation, and a political settlement was our priority. The Syrian government, our brothers in Iran, and we in Hezbollah made numerous contacts with the Syrian opposition and invited them to negotiate for deciding on a political settlement, but the opposition strongly rejected political negotiation and discussion and believed that the Syrian government would fall within two to three months. I remember that some influential parties in the Syrian opposition told us that we intended to revive the dead! They said that the Damascus government was done with and they would not accept to negotiate with such a government. This was their mistake in calculations because they absolutely refused to negotiate a political settlement. But their even bigger calculation mistake was that they engaged in military action too soon, which was their main objective in Syria. As I mentioned earlier, their goal was not to establish democracy in Syria or to implement reforms in this country. Their main goal was to overthrow the Damascus government, hit the Syrian army and, change the equations in the country. Yes, that’s right; there was no other option when the Syrian government and its friends and allies opted for an armed resistance option.

An important matter that has always been emphasized by Ayatollah Khamenei is the policy of approximation of Islamic denominations and that members of different Islamic denominations should be able to coexist peacefully and should by no means be hostile toward each other. Meanwhile, we see some movements that add fuel to the fire of religious disputes, under the influence of the propaganda and policies of the foreigners—who are enemies of both Shias and Sunnis. What is your view about the policy of approximation of Islamic denominations promoted by Ayatollah Khamenei, and also emphasized by Imam Khomeini (r.a.)? What has this policy achieved? And what issues, do you think, can threaten this policy at the moment?

Firstly, this is one of the fundamental principles raised by Ayatollah Khomeini (r.a.) under the title of Islamic unity, solidarity among Muslims, the closeness of Islamic denominations, and the proliferation of the spirit of convergence, cooperation and coordination among all Muslims. The Islamic Republic of Iran has always favored this policy. After taking up the responsibility of leadership, Ayatollah Khamenei, too, continued this policy forcefully, always stressing it. The truth is that this is also the policy of the original Islam of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Quran. Unity among Muslims, the policy of approximation of Islamic denominations, is an Islamic logic that all Muslims should heed.

Much effort has been made in this regard. Since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, extensive relations were developed among Islamic parties and Muslim scholars across the region and even the world. Moreover, many congresses and conferences were held during these years to promote the policy of approximation of Islamic denominations. Undoubtedly, the attitude of Imam Khomeini (r.a.) and also Ayatollah Khamenei toward the Palestinian cause has played an important role in gathering all Muslims under one single flag, i.e. the centrality of the Palestinian cause.

Much effort has been made in this regard. If we look for the good results and the achievements of the policy of approximation of Islamic denominations, we will find them in recent years; because the most dangerous incident since 2011 was the U.S.-Saudi project aimed at creating faith and tribe related sedition and divisions between Shias and Sunnis in the region. This is more dangerous than what happened in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain. I remind you of four years ago; now we are in the fifth year. When the aggressive U.S.-Saudi coalition took military action against Yemen, the Friday Prayers’ Imam of the Great Mosque of Mecca (Masjid ul-Haram) announced during the Friday Prayers sermons that the war on Yemen was a Sunni-Shia war. The Saudis tried to present the Syrian war as a religious and ethnic war, too. A lot of efforts were made in the media and huge amounts of money were spent to make the different wars in the region look like sectarian and tribal conflicts. All these attempts failed. The Shias rejected this rationale. Many Sunni scholars and Sunni figures rejected this rationale. This has been one of the results of this policy pursued over the past 30 years.

Relations between the Shias and Sunnis, the efforts of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as the positions held by Imam Khomeini (r.a.) and Ayatollah Khamenei created solid relationships in the Muslim World, so that the Islamic world was able to nullify the biggest sedition aimed at creating an internal war between Shias and Sunnis. Naturally, we should continue this policy, although we have successfully passed this stage, and we have overcome many risks so far.

I believe that the United States and Saudi Arabia suffered a tough defeat in their efforts for causing sedition in the region and thus failed to make Iraq’s events seem like a Sunni-Shia battle. We saw that Sunnis, Shias, Iraqi nomads—including Shias and Sunnis—all stood against ISIS, and prior to that, they had resisted the occupation by the United States. In Syria, too, the people, including the Syrian army, the popular forces or the allied forces, who fought against ISIS, Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups were mostly Sunnis. That is, those who fought in Syria were mostly Sunnis, fighting alongside Shias and members of other Islamic denominations.

Therefore, based on what has happened so far in Yemen or other countries, I strongly believe that the division-provoking project has miscarried, which means that the Islamic Ummah has been largely spared of the risk of being afflicted with religious sectarian conflicts. We should continue this strategy to strengthen this achievement. Enhanced relations, cooperation, support of the Palestinian cause, resistance to the U.S. and defense of the nations of the region can lead to increased unity and solidarity among Muslims.

Sometimes, the adversaries of the Palestinian nation, the Islamic Revolution, and the Resistance movement propagate the idea that the people of Palestine are Sunnis. They also attribute other characteristics to the Palestinian nation so that under the influence of the propaganda, the Iranian people become skeptical toward the Palestinians. They try to create the ambiguity that ‘why should Iran support a Sunni nation?” But we have always seen that Ayatollah Khamenei has stressed and stresses that the Palestinian cause represents the most important matter of the Muslim world, and he has never adopted a Sunni-Shi’a perspective with regard to Palestine.

This position by the Leader has existed since the occupation of Palestine by the Zionists, and this is the position taken by all scholars, jurists (Faqihs) and religious authorities (marja’s) in Najaf and in the holy city of Qom and among all Shias of the world. Even beyond this, our great scholars and marja’s, who are said to be traditionalists and not revolutionary—if it is appropriate to say this about them—support the Palestinian cause, accuse the usurper Israel and provide assistance to Palestine; all of them have issued written permissions to grant part of the religious donations and Imam’s share to the Palestinian Resistance. This is a great action. You know that our marja’s are generally cautious about spending the Imam’s share, but they allow Imam’s share or some of it to be allocated to the Palestinian Resistance. Now, who were the members of the Palestinian Resistance? The members of the Palestinian resistance are Sunnis, not Shias; many were not even Islamist, for example, they were inclined to nationalist or leftist parties. Our marja’s did not include any prerequisite for assistance and authorized part of the Imam’s share to the Palestinian Resistance so that Palestine would be liberated. This means that there has been a great insight and awareness.

As for the question of Palestine, as Ayatollah Khamenei has pointed out on many occasions, if we search the whole world, looking for a matter that has remained intact, and its legitimacy is completely clear in terms of legal, religious, moral, and humane principles, it is the matter of Palestine. The enemies are trying to distract us from the Palestinian cause, using all the tools at their disposition and various weapons. This is an effort that has been made in previous years, i.e. when they sent Palestinian suicide bombers to Shia areas to carry out terrorist operations. That’s why I said on Quds Day a few years ago: “Why do you send Palestinian people? Why do you hire them to kill our women and children? If you are seeking to distract us from the Palestinian cause, then kill us everywhere: by every door, in every mosque and hussayniyah. We are the Shia of Amir al-Mu’minin, Imam Ali (a.s.), and we won’t let go of Palestine, the Palestinian nation and the holy institutions of the Islamic Ummah in Palestine.” These efforts in theory and practice are known. Undoubtedly, it is a matter of the Truth and Islam, so the Islamic Republic of Iran, we and all Muslims must take actions for this cause, based on their religious and divine duty.

Given the importance of this matter, I would like to ask two questions. First, the general view of Ayatollah Khamenei is clear about the approximation [the policy of approximation of Islamic denominations], and he initiated a movement of approximation at the beginning of his term of leadership. I would like to ask you to give some more concrete examples of his actions and views on the unity of Shia and Sunni and the approximation dialogue. For example, it is indicated that he has announced as forbidden (haram) to disrespect Sunnis sanctities, and so on. Secondly, some pretend that the issues that have occurred in different Islamic countries like Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and Bahrain over the past years have been based on the disagreements between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and others have entered into conflict, on their behalf. How much can this be true?

As for the first part of the question, the formation of the “Congress on approximation of denominations”, holding several conferences and gatherings in Iran, the special attention the Leader gave to these gatherings and his insistence on attending them and speaking to the audience and the Muslims of the world are some of his measures for promoting approximation. We also constantly observed during the conferences on Islamic unity in Iran that the Leader presented himself among the Shia and Sunni scholars and met with them, ignoring all the security and non-security considerations. The main reason for this attitude is his emphasis on the necessity of spreading the culture of unity among Islamic communities and Muslim scholars. His Eminence endorsed gatherings that bring about unity among scholars.

We, in Lebanon, have the “gathering of Muslim scholars”, which is one of the good and successful experiences for unifying the Islamic denominations. A large number of Shia scholars and Sunni scholars are present at this Islamic gathering. Whenever our brother organizers traveled to Iran for the gathering of Muslim scholars and met with the Leader, his Eminence praised the formation of such a gathering and emphasized the necessity of promoting it in other Islamic countries. In recent years, he has taken some brave positions. In these years, we have seen that many efforts were made aiming to disunite and divide Shias and Sunnis, and unfortunately, some Wahhabi and Takfiri movements, as well as some Sunni-attributed satellite channels such as Safa and Wesal, have tried to takfir (denote excommunication to) the Shia, attributing big lies to Shias. They attributed certain beliefs to Shi’ism that the Shia do not hold at all.

On the other side of the spectrum, some satellite channels are attributed to the Shia community, figures and groups that have nothing to do with Shi’ism, and none of the current notions, such as ‘the Islamic Ummah’, ‘the global Arrogance’, ‘Autocracy and Tyranny’, ‘freedom’, and ‘defending sanctities’ are important to them. The only mission of these satellite channels is to divide Shias and Sunnis by using insulting words to criticize the opposite community. That is what the Leader referred to as the “London-based Shiism”.

The type of activities of the satellite channels attributed to each community– either Shia or Sunni– shows that they are both conducted by one single force. For instance, we see that some channels attributed to Shias use insulting words for certain wives of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) or his companions. The Wahhabi channels then broadcast some of these cases. This means that each of these channels plays a complementary role in arousing sedition and sectarian conflicts between Shias and the Sunnis. Naturally, this had a dangerous impact on Muslims. I have discussed it with some major Sunni scholars in Lebanon and other countries like Syria and Egypt, who similarly believe that this is very dangerous. We believe that only one person can solve this problem and stand up to this wave. Because it requires bravery and a high position so that a sovereign position can be taken for it, in other words, so that the sedition is completely defeated.

While meeting with the leader some years ago, I mentioned these issues and the names. He also stated: “It is true; what is happening is very dangerous. One of the worst things is insulting the prominent figures of the denominations, and we need to adopt a strong position with regard to this event.”

 I remember that some years ago the Leader traveled to the province of Kurdistan and had a speech in the city of Sanandaj. In that meeting, he emphasized the fact that insulting Sunni figures was haram (forbidden). Nevertheless, shortly after his speech, the so-called Shia satellite channels started disparaging Sayyida Ayesha, and accused her of things that the Shia had never mentioned before. This was an event that could have caused big sedition in the countries of the Muslim World.

Afterwards, some of the religious scholars addressed a letter to the Leader of the Revolution, asking an istifta’ about the law applicable to insulting prominent figures of the Islamic denominations. The Leader’s response was so powerful and explicit that it had a significant impact on Arab and Islamic countries. I assure you that the speech of the Leader in Sanandaj and then his assertive answer to the scholars’ istifta [enquiry] about the actions of the channels attributed to the Shias and the Sunnis blocked the way to sedition and made futile the efforts of those who tried to arouse conflicts. Moreover, by God’s grace, at that time many honorable Marja’s in Qom and in Najaf issued separate declarations, explicitly announcing that the real position of the Shia community is the same as what Ayatollah Khamenei had stated.

As an answer to the second part of the question, I should say, the interpretation that the transformations in the region is indeed a Saudi-Iranian conflict, is a mistake. The conflict existed in the region even before the Islamic Republic was established; when the Soviet Union on one side and the United States of America and the West on the other side were in conflict. In addition, before the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran, there existed Arab-Israeli conflicts in the region. The Arab-Israeli conflict existed since 1948, before the victory of the Islamic Revolution. Therefore, Saudi Arabia’s problem with many countries of the region and many resistance groups in the region dates back to the time before the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. This is a well-known fact. So when the Islamic Revolution became victorious in Iran, and the Pahlavi regime, as one of the best friends of the U.S., collapsed, the Islamic Republic was established in Iran and started supporting the Palestinian cause, the resistance groups and the underprivileged in the region. From the very first moment, Saudi Arabia declared hostility to the Islamic Republic. Of course, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) extended the hand of friendship to all Arab and Islamic countries from the very early days of the Revolution. Despite this, since day one, Al Saud found that the existence of the Islamic Republic of Iran was a threat to the interests of the United States, Israel, the tyrannies and autocrats, as well as the mercenaries of Washington and Tel Aviv in the region. For this reason, Saudi Arabia became an enemy of the Islamic Republic.

They say, when in the war against Iran, they sided with Saddam, they paid $200 billion to support Saddam. At that time, however, oil was cheap. I remember a few years ago, one of the Saudi princes, Nayef, said that if Saudi Arabia had been able to pay more money to Saddam at that time, it would have done so. Therefore, Saudi Arabia was the initiator of hostility, war, and conspiracy against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Whereas, Iran had extended a hand of friendship to it. Saudi Arabia’s problem with Iran basically derived from the same reasons that had hampered Saudi Arabia’s relations with other countries which supported the Resistance in Palestine and the region. This is a fact. There is no such thing as a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the region.

Regardless of the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia always opposed the resistance groups even before the victory of the Islamic Revolution. So our problem with Saudi Arabia is not related to the positions of Iran. Saudi Arabia’s opposition to Palestinian resistance throughout history also has nothing to do with Iran. For example, when there was a great deal of hostility between Saudi Arabia and Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, the Islamic Revolution in Iran had not been in place, yet. Therefore, the controversy during the era before the establishment of the Islamic Republic has its own clear reasons. When the Islamic Revolution of Iran became victorious and the Islamic Republic started attending to the affairs of the Islamic and Arab Ummah, then Saudi Arabia started showing enmity to Iran. This is the reality.

 At the end of the discussion on Saudi Arabia, I would like to point out that recently the Supreme Leader, referring to the fact that some are equipping Saudi Arabia with missiles and nuclear weapons, said “we are not upset, because soon this equipment will be at the disposition of the Islamic fighters”. How do you evaluate this statement of the Leader?

The ruling regime in Saudi Arabia is an old regime; very old and aged. Perhaps this regime, for natural reasons, is going through its final era. The Al Saud family has inflicted all kinds of oppression on others during the last 100 years and looted the property of their own nation. Corruption is rooted in every part of this regime, and suppressing freedom in this country has reached its highest level. In addition, the monopoly of power within the members of the Saudi family has peaked in the last 100 years.

But what will precipitate the end of this regime is the performance of its current officials, which is completely different in terms of both appearance and method of action, with that of the former officials of Saudi Arabia. For example, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a war against Yemen, and now we see that he is committing horrible crimes in that country. Undoubtedly, the adoption of such a decision, namely, the war on Yemen and committing crimes against civilians, will have a negative effect on the future of the Saudi regime. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s apparent interference in the affairs of various countries is among other factors that will affect the future of this regime. For example, in the countries of the Arab world, we see that Saudi officials interfere in every country and try to show themselves as sided with the nations.

In the past 40 years, we have seen that Saudi Arabia has tried to present itself as a friend of all countries and all nations, pretending to be a good state which helps others. However, we hear for the first time that the slogan “Down with Al Saud” resonates in many Arab countries. For the first time, we see that political and national groups, as well as governments, are openly opposed to Saudi Arabia’s crimes and interference in Arab countries. Saudi Arabia’s involvement in countries such as Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan can be seen. Even in Libya, where there is a military conflict now, at least one of the parties involved says that Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are conspiring to destroy Tripoli and Libya.

Today, in many Arab and Islamic countries, many personalities as well as parties, movements, scholars, and governments abhor Saudi Arabia’s attitude and oppose it. Add to this the Saudi stance on the question of Palestine, and in particular the so-called Deal of the Century. Saudi Arabia’s humiliation, indignity, and disgrace before Trump will normally undermine Saudi rulers’ dignity and power. The Saudis have always shown themselves to be independent of others, to be honorable and to be servants of the Holy Shrines. Trump’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia and what he says at celebrations today is worth considering. Look at Trump’s recent remarks on Saudi Arabia. “I called the king of Saudi Arabia and told him I love him,” he says. He says he told the king of Saudi Arabia: “You have a lot of money and we have paid a lot of money to support you. You must pay for the support.” He says he has gained a huge amount from Riyadh, much easier than earning $100 from a New York store. Look at Saudi Arabia, its media, its officials; absolute silence! Even their friends in the world, their media in the world did not speak a word. This is the ultimate humiliation. Trump makes similar remarks to ridicule and humiliate Saudi Arabia. The Americans laugh at the Saudis and ridicule them.

This is while if a person from the Muslim world made similar remarks about the Saudis, they would be furious.

Definitely. They might even cut off diplomatic relations with the leaders of that country and accuse them of disbelief [kufr] and sentence them to capital punishment! I cannot but say that Saudi Arabia has never experienced such humiliation, vanity, weakness, humiliation, and scandal in its history. That’s precisely why I think the current Saudi rulers will not stay in power for a long time. Divine and historical traditions and the nature of affairs indicate that they cannot endure for long.

Sayyed Nasrallah p5

How did we defeat the U.S. in its ISIS project?

Over the past few years, we have witnessed popular uprisings in some Islamic countries, including Yemen, where the people rose up. We also witnessed popular uprising in Bahrain, but in all of these cases, Saudi Arabia, with its interventions, has been trying to suppress these popular uprisings in the region which seek the establishment of Islamic and anti-Zionist governments. As you know, Ayatollah Khamenei has always emphasized the role of the people in creating a general movement to confront Zionism. That is, even if certain measures are taken by the Resistance movement, he still focuses on the people of the region, and he always raises hope that the people will rise up. Even in the case of Palestine, when some of the Palestinian leaders sign inappropriate agreements for a compromise, he says that the Palestinian people are opposed to this. Accordingly, given his emphasis on the role of the people, how do you evaluate and analyze the role of the people in the developments of the Islamic world in the perspective of Ayatollah Khamenei and based on the meetings you have had with him?

What we heard from the Leader (May Allah protect him) on public occasions, in public meetings or private meetings, was that he emphasized on massive popular movements in all matters. He always emphasized that if you had a certain organization, this organization should always be at the heart of its supporters and the people, and no organization or party should be separated from the involved people; the true power is the power of the people’s presence. Of course, this is what we saw during the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. We have also had such an experience in Hezbollah in Lebanon. Our power as Hezbollah in Lebanon is not only due to military capabilities, but also due to the popularity that this group has gained among various grassroots groups.

In Palestine, too, those who are fighting against Israel’s aggression and conspiracies—including the Deal of the Century—are the people of Palestine. The Palestinian resistance movements were able to resist, fight and take strong positions thanks to the support of the Palestinian people. Today in Yemen, without the presence of the people and the popular support of Ansar Allah, could Ansar Allah, under the leadership of dear brother Sayyid Abdulmalek Al Houthi, be able to enter the fifth year of battle and continue to fight? In many Yemeni cities, like “Saada” and “Sana’a”, we see massive popular presence, while there are many problems, including war and the spread of cholera and other diseases and the siege of Yemen. Yet, all the Yemeni people, men and women, old and young, take to the streets in every occasion, and this popular presence has given the Yemeni army and popular committees the power to resist Saudi-American invasion.

Another example is Iraq. Who stood up against ISIS? In Iraq, people stood up against ISIS terrorists. In Iraq, those who were able to resist ISIS, were the Iraqi people and the Popular Mobilization Force, after the fatwa of the Marja’iah [religious leadership] and support of Ayatollah Khamenei and the Islamic Republic of Iran. If the Iraqi people hadn’t supported the Popular Mobilization Forces, the army and the Marjaiyah, resistance against the Takfiri terrorism and defeating it would not have been possible. It’s the same in all arenas. So the matter of the nations is a fundamental matter.

Now what has actually been the main factor that has been able to keep the Palestinian cause alive—after decades of conspiracy and deceiving—and has defeated the U.S.’s plans and plots against the Palestinians, one after the other in the region, has been the popular support and not the positions of the governments. The popular stance, the uprising of the nations, their attention to the issues, their involvement, their sacrifices, and their resistance has always been the cause of victory. We say in Lebanon’s literature: “The nation and resistance are like the sea, that is, like water and fish.” The fish cannot survive out of the water, and this means no resistance movement can resist and win outside the circle of the nation and widespread popular support.

You referred to Iraq; well, we have witnessed very important events in Iraq over the past recent years, and we can say that during this period, two important incidents took place; the first event was the occupation of Iraq by foreigners after the fall of Saddam, and the second was the formation of ISIS terrorist group. After the formation of this terrorist group, Iraq was severely invaded and significant parts of the country were occupied by the members of this group. But, both the American occupiers and ISIS occupiers finally had to leave Iraq. What role did the Islamic Republic of Iran play in the shifts in Iraq? What were the macro-level policies of the Islamic Republic regarding these events and its role in preserving the unity and integrity of Iraq? In recent years, some events also took place in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region that we would like you to talk about, as well.

Firstly, since the start of the occupation of Iraq by the United States of America, the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Leader (May Allah protect him) was quite clear towards the occupiers. The Islamic Republic of Iran rejected the occupation of Iraq by the United States. Even before the U.S.’s invasion of Iraq, Iran’s position was clear. After the occupation of Iraq by the United States, the Islamic Republic of Iran, with a clear position, called for the withdrawal of the U.S. from Iraq so that the Iraqi people can themselves manage their country. This was a great political stance.

Secondly, after the occupation of Iraq by the U.S., the Islamic Republic of Iran made many efforts to unite Iraqi parties, movements and various groups, so that they form a unified position against the occupiers. Meanwhile, the Americans at that time were trying to take advantage of the internal disagreements in Iraq to stabilize their occupation. Therefore, the second attempt (of IRI) was to coordinate the positions of Iraqi leaders, groups and parties, who had  intellectual, political, religious, tribal, and regional differences. In order to achieve this important goal in Iraq—namely to unite different parties—the Islamic Republic of Iran established good relations with all Iraqis, including Arabs, Kurds, Turkmans, Shias and Sunnis.

Thirdly, the Islamic Republic of Iran supported the stance taken by the religious Marja’iah [religious leadership] in Najaf, Ayatollah Sistani (May Allah protect him), the eminent Marja’iah [religious leadership] of the Shias, because the positions of the Marja’iah [religious leadership] in Najaf were very important and had a significant impact on shaping the central and crucial events. For example, after the occupation of Iraq, the U.S. sought to impose a new constitution on the country, to which the Marja’iah [religious leadership] objected and declared that the Iraqis should decide on the constitution and agree on it. This is just one example of the cases when the Marja’iah [religious leadership] intervened.

Among other important factors was that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s support strengthened and inspired the Iraqi resistance groups who resisted the American occupiers. The position of the Islamic Republic of Iran was explicit; they regarded the resistance in Iraq as legitimate and the natural right of the Iraqi people. They believed the Iraqis had the right to engage in armed resistance against those who had occupied their land. Eventually, the U.S. couldn’t achieve its goals in Iraq.

Moreover, in one of the stages, along with the honorable Marja’iah [religious leadership] in Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran worked hard to prevent conflicts among members of different denominations in Iraq. At that time, the takfiris who had entered Iraq, were seeking to cause conflicts between the Shias and the Sunnis by suicide bombings in Shia community areas, such as their mosques, Hussainiyehs, the shrines of the immaculate Imams (a.s.) including the shrine of Imam Hussain (a.s) and the shrines of Imams Askariin (a.s.) in Samarra. Most of the suicide bombers were from Saudi Arabia and their car bombs were also sent to them by Saudi Arabia’s Intelligence services. So although Riyadh endeavored to create religious schism in Iraq, the efforts of the religious Marja’iah [religious leadership] in Najaf and the Islamic Republic of Iran prevented tribal conflicts and a civil war—even if some struggles and contests occurred.

As a result of political resistance and political effort on the one hand, and armed resistance on the other hand, the U.S. found it impossible to stay in Iraq. During the premiership of Nouri al-Maliki, they sought to sign an agreement to withdraw from Iraq, and eventually the signing of an agreement between Baghdad and Washington led to the decision of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. Naturally, the U.S. wanted to stay in Iraq for longer. During the negotiations for the agreement, they tried to maintain about 50,000 troops of the total 150,000 U.S. forces in Iraq, but the Iraqis refused to accept. [The Americans were bargaining by diminishing the number]: they accepted to leave 30 thousand, 25 thousand, 20 thousand, and finally, 10 thousand of their forces in Iraq, but still the Iraqis opposed; obviously, not all the Iraqis, but this was the view of the public in general. The Iraqi government rejected the granting of diplomatic immunity to American troops and military forces. Consequently, Washington under President Barack Obama concluded that there was no choice but to leave Iraq.

Yes, the Americans retained their embassy in Iraq and a large number of embassy protection forces, as well as some of their consulates, but their open military presence was over, and the American military bases were closed down and America’s military retreat from Iraq was announced. This was a great victory for Iraq and the Iraqi people. Another incident occurred when ISIS inflicted calamity and pain on the Iraqi people. Everyone knows about ISIS. ISIS took advantage of its presence in Syria, at the east of Euphrates and the Badia (the Syrian Desert). You remember that this group then occupied 40 to 45 percent of the territory of Syria. ISIS’s leaders were Iraqi, indeed, the main leaders were Iraqi, and they paid special attention to Iraq, and therefore they were counted on. The United States of America and some countries in the region, and more than others, Saudi Arabia, were behind-the-scenes players of what ISIS did in Iraq. We all recall that when ISIS arrived in Mosul, Diyala, Anbar and Salah al-Din, many satellite channels affiliated with Saudi Arabia and some Persian Gulf countries reported on the event as a major victory. ISIS dominated a number of Iraqi provinces and facilities in a short time. The Iraqi forces collapsed and ISIS was on the verge of entering Karbala and even Baghdad. The situation was very dangerous. Even ISIS had reached only some hundred meters to Samarra, and it had become a threat to the shrine of Imams Askariin (a.s.).

In the early days, the Islamic Republic of Iran rushed to aid Iraq. Iraq’s religious Marja’iah [religious leadership] decided on certain positions, and Ayatollah Sistani issued the fatwa of jihad kafayee. The Iraqis became prepared to rise up but they needed assistance for managing and commanding, weapons and facilities. At that time, a significant part of the war armaments and facilities of Iraq had been robbed by ISIS. The Iraqis said that many of their firearm warehouses were empty. We remember that in the early days, dear brother Hajj Ghasem Soleimani and the brothers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps went to Baghdad to organize resistance groups rooted in Iraq and coordinate them with Iraqi government forces. Mr. Nouri al-Maliki also cooperated very well. Resistance to ISIS began. After a few days, Hajj Qasem came to Lebanon and met with me. He asked us to send about 120 Hezbollah members to Iraq to command operations. He said that combatants weren’t needed because there were so many combatants in Iraq, but commanders were needed for operations in different areas. So we sent a large number of our brothers to Iraq. The borders between Iran and Iraq were opened so that weapons were provided via the border areas and that there would be no need to send them from Tehran and distant places. Importing armaments started, providing arms for the Iraqi army and the Popular Mobilization Forces set off, and the fight began.

All Iraqis know the reality. We said that the Islamic Republic of Iran rushed to aid Iraq, while taking firm positions. Rejecting ISIS’s dominance, the Islamic Republic started fighting against the Takfiris openly and unhesitatingly, and assisting Iraq. The best commanders in the Guard Corps went to Iraq to help the Iraqis. All of the facilities of the Iranians were provided for the Iraqi people. Everyone knows that the Leader’s stance on helping the Iraqi people and Iraqi forces to impose a defeat on ISIS was that there was no red lines that would prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from offering the aid.

Praise be to God, thanks to the religious Marja’iah [religious leadership] of Iraq, the fatwa of jihad Kafayee, the firm positions of the Leader, the valuable aids provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran, the direct involvement of the Revolutionary Guards’ brothers and especially the Quds Force, the measures taken by the Popular Mobilization Forces and the Iraqi forces as well as the national unity and solidarity of the Iraqis, in particular, among the Shias and Sunnis and Kurds in confronting ISIS, after a few years, a great victory was achieved in face of ISIS. This achievement would not have been made without the historic and great positions of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Leader, the positions of the religious Marja’iah [religious leadership], the actions of the Popular Mobilization Forces, the Iraqi government and the Iraqi forces.

Recently, you warned of the re-emergence and reactivation of ISIS.

I highlighted two issues, which the Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, also referred to. The threat posed by ISIS—which is called the “Caliphate State”—is persisting in Iraq. Of course, there is no government under this name now. They formed a government between Syria and Iraq, which was a large government; that is, at some point, their government was larger than what was left of the Syrian and Iraqi governments. The ISIS government ended. The ISIS army, that is the big military infrastructure of ISIS, ended. However, the group’s major leader is still alive, and there are naturally questions about his fate as well as the role of the United States in this matter.

Many of ISIS leaders are still alive, and have been saved from the east of Euphrates and various battlefields. ISIS has small groups that are based in different parts of Syria, Iraq and other parts of the region. They carry out anti-security activities: they engage in suicide attacks, bombings, they kill people; and these are the threats we have to counter. This means that if the ISIS and its security infrastructure are not completely eliminated, ISIS will remain as a threat to Syria and Iraq, as well as to Iran, Lebanon and the entire region.

Based on our information, the Americans have taken some parts of ISIS to Afghanistan. Now the question is whether the members of this group will act against the Taliban in Afghanistan or against the countries of Central Asia. The case is open. A part of ISIS was transferred to North Africa. In the future, it will not be surprising if ISIS is used to exert pressure on China, Russia and other countries, because the U.S. resorts to such methods. Another issue, I called attentions to, is related to Trump, the U.S. and Iraq. Trump insists on the U.S. forces remaining in Iraq. The warning I gave was that Trump is trying to fulfil his electoral promises, sometimes succeeding, and sometimes not.

He might not succeed, but he is trying to fulfil his promises. For example, during his presidential campaigns, Trump promised to transfer the U.S. embassy from Quds to Tel Aviv, which he did. He promised to recognize Quds as the eternal capital of Israel, which he did. He promised to retreat from the nuclear deal, which he did. He promised to intensify sanctions against Iran, and he did so. Well, he also made some promises that he failed to realize. For example, he could not build a wall between Mexico and the United States because he failed to gain the Congress’s approval and the funding. Yet, he is still striving to fulfill this promise.

So this man strives to fulfill his promises. Well, one of the promises he made, which he insisted frequently, was that the departure of the U.S. from Iraq during Obama’s administration was a mistake, and that the U.S. should stay in Iraq. This means that he does not want to leave Iraq, although this is not what the Iraqis want. The second issue is that he says, “Iraq’s oil belongs to the U.S., because we spent $ 7 trillion to free Iraq from Saddam Hussain,”—in his words—“and this should be paid back to us”.

He says, “we need to exploit Iraq’s oil and sell it to get our money back”. When asked how, he said, “we would send the U.S. Army to dominate the oil fields, encircle the oil fields and prevent Iraqis from exploiting these fields. We would use their oil for years and then we will deliver it to them”. Can Trump do this? Maybe not, but he will try to do so. Therefore, I warned that the Iraqis should be vigilant about the plots and dangers of this man who has focused on their oil. Just as he is focusing on Saudi’s capital and is plundering it, he also seriously considers looting Iraq’s oil. What can prevent Trump is the Iraqis’ vigilance, their willpower and their diligence.

Trump’s overnight trip to Iraq apparently infuriated him.

Exactly. He says ‘we sent our military forces, we had casualties, we spent a lot of money, and now we have to travel to Iraq overnight. That’s right.

Since the early days following the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the U.S. officials were angry with Iran. Well, the Shah regime was obliterated, so they lost the regime which was dependent on them, and was their biggest base in the region. Since forty years ago, the U.S. has been faced with resistance on the part of the leader of the Revolution, the Iranian people and the Muslim nations that support the Resistance movement against the Front of Arrogance. Therefore, Americans are very angry with Iran.

You probably remember the famous quote by martyr Beheshti which was derived from a verse of the Holy Qur’an: “The U.S.! be angry with us, and die of this anger.” In this situation, Ayatollah Khamenei states that U.S. is declining in West Asia and Islamic countries, and this power will go away, and the nations of the region will become victorious. I would like to learn about your opinion on this analysis of Ayatollah Khamenei; and what proofs do you think support it?

Firstly, what Ayatollah Khamenei has said about this issue is based on experience, information and concrete realities in the region. One of the hallmarks is the withdrawal of the United States from Iraq, despite the fact that the U.S. had entered Iraq to stay forever, and not to leave it. The United States was unable to stay in Iraq and had to return to the country under the pretext of ISIS. This country cannot remain in Iraq. If the Iraqi authorities and people make the determination to dismiss U.S. forces, they will succeed to do so in a few days. The United States is not strong enough to stay in Iraq against the will of the Iraqi people. Well, this was the first sign and example.

The U.S. was also defeated in Syria. Even eight months ago, Trump announced that the U.S. forces settled in east of Euphrates had plans to retreat. But other officials persuaded him to let the forces stay for six more months. He recently wanted to pull the U.S. forces out again, but he was told that this should not be done, because the departure of the United States was like a major defeat for the U.S., and it would disappoint Washington’s friends in the region. So he decided to let the U.S. forces stay; however, they could possibly leave Iraq any moment. In a telephone conversation with Mr. Erdogan, he said: “the U.S. is leaving Syria; Syria is left for you to do whatever you want with it.” This infuriated Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Therefore, the Emirates embarked on immediately reopening its embassy in Damascus. Well, this was about Syria.

In Yemen, too, it was not only Saudi Arabia that was defeated; rather, the United States also suffered a defeat. The United States became frustrated and despondent in Yemen. Today, the United States cannot impose what it wants on the countries of the region, except in some cases like dealing with the craven among the Al-Saud. The United States is unable to impose its demands on many countries in the region. Washington cannot defend its interests. Remember that 20 years ago, the U.S. went to Somalia and could not stay in that country even for a year, and eventually they left it, humiliated. The United States has become too weak to stay in and dominate over the region; its power is declining day after day. This has happened in the wake of the nations’ awareness and confidence. The obvious manifestation of this failure is that the United States has been trying to encircle the Islamic Republic over the past 40 years, and to overthrow its Islamic system, but it has always failed. They say ‘we are not seeking to overthrow the Islamic Republic, we just want Iran to change behavior and method’, yet they failed.

The Islamic Republic continues to adhere to its values, principles and positions, even though 40 years have passed, and its policy has been quite clear since Imam Khomeini (r.a.).

Pompeo came to Lebanon, and met with Lebanese officials. Then, during a press conference, he said to the Lebanese people, “you have to be brave and fight against Hezbollah”. Nevertheless, he did not receive one single positive answer. When Pompeo came to Lebanon, even those who are our rivals told him: “We cannot confront Hezbollah and it is not acceptable for us to cause a civil war in Lebanon.” This means that the U.S.’s demands and decisions are not even accepted by its friends. These are not our friends, they are our rivals. The reason is that, firstly, we are strong, and secondly, our opponents know that pushing toward a civil war negatively affects Lebanon in general. Therefore, they rejected to confront Hezbollah.

Even now that Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, are seeking to impose the Deal of the Century on Palestine, we see that the entire Palestinian nation reject this plan. From Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to Fatah, the Liberation Organization, and Mahmoud Abbas are against the Deal of the Century. Mr. Abbas accepts to compromise, negotiate and give concessions, but he says: “this type of contract and compromise is not even acceptable to me; because it is so disgraceful and insulting that no Palestinian can consent to such a plan.” Even in the last meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers, despite the fact that many of the participants were not honest, they stated in a declaration: “We cannot accept political solutions against international agreements and laws.” This means they oppose the Deal of the Century. They said this publicly; but why? Because they know that their nations will not accept the Deal of the Century, even if a person like Trump supports this plan.

Hence, there are plenty of signs indicating the defeat of the U.S. Moreover, now we see the current leaders of the U.S.—namely Trump, Bolton, Pompeo—have no respect for others. They don’t consider diplomacy; and they are greedy, arrogant and haughty. Therefore, they humiliate their friends and allies and damage their relation with them. Their behavior toward the Europeans, the tensions in their relation with Russia and China are examples of these behaviors. Nobody knows to which direction they are leading the world. If you ask the public opinion whether they think the U.S. is a reliable government, you will get a negative answer. Now the U.S. leaves all treaties and agreements; it seeks to impose its demands on the international community. This kind of behavior has disrupted and weakened America’s image. Therefore, the signs of the U.S.’s defeat are very clear in many countries.

One of the signs of this major U.S. failure in the region is, in my opinion, the situation of Hezbollah and Lebanon today. I traveled to southern Lebanon two days ago and went as far as the frontier with the occupied Palestine and visited the area. There was a time when the Zionist forces would enter the Lebanese territory whenever they wished, and even advanced up to Beirut in 1982, committing many crimes and killing many people and even many Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. In short, they did whatever they wanted to and committed any crime with impunity. During the 33-day war, they attacked from air and ground. Two days ago, I saw the Lebanese people live in peace and security in the area, and they were not at all worried about being attacked by the Israeli enemy. I saw there, that now it is the Zionists who have built walls to protect themselves. All this shows that Hezbollah, which grew and evolved over the course of about 35 or 40 years, has become a great power today, against the will of the Zionists and the U.S. So much so, that it has given Lebanon a special credibility and this is a national pride and power for Lebanon. Those scenes show that during these years, the U.S.’s plan to completely eliminate the resistance movement has completely failed, and today, the Israelis consider themselves defeated in this region.

That’s right. At least since 1982, when the Zionist aggressors invaded Lebanon, this was part of an American project for Lebanon and the whole region. Since then, every U.S. plan and project has failed in Lebanon. These failures occurred in 1982, then in 1985, and later in 2000, 2005, and 2006, and finally in the current period. Today, the U.S. cannot impose their will on the Lebanese people and their attempts have failed, by the grace of God. The same is true about the Israelis. As you have seen and said, southern Lebanon is in peace and security, which is unprecedented for the past 70 years; that is, since the creation of the Israeli usurper and cancerous regime. You know that southern Lebanon and the border with the occupied Palestinian have always been insecure. The Israelis carried out military invasions and bombarded it. They crossed into the region, kidnapping army men, security forces and even ordinary people.

They ridiculed the Lebanese. For example, in the 1967 war, when Israel sent separate army units to the Sinai, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan, Israeli war minister was asked if an army unit had been sent to Lebanon. He replied: “No, it is not necessary. It’s enough to send a music band to occupy Lebanon.”

That is the extent they disparaged Lebanon. That period ended by the grace and help of God the Almighty. Today, in southern Lebanon, they do not dare bombard, kidnap, kill, or even trespass. They are very cautious and constantly in fear; because they know that in the event of any aggression, the resistance gives them a decisive answer, which in our view signifies observing the rule of the game and the conflict.

Southern Lebanon has always been frightening [for Israel], and today northern Palestine is the same. Colonialists, settlers, and Israelis in northern Palestine—and not the people in our towns and villages—are scared. This time, it is the Israelis who are building walls and defensive lines, when before, they were always in an offensive position. We were always in a defensive position, but today, we are in an offensive position. It is us who threaten them today; that we will one day enter the occupied Palestine by the grace of God. Hence, thank God the equations have changed, and this has been achieved in the wake of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, through the leadership of Imam Khomeini and the Leader (May His Oversight Last), constant support, and unwavering positions of the Islamic Republic of Iran alongside Hezbollah and the resistance groups in the region.

The image of Hezbollah and the Islamic resistance of Lebanon—in the minds of most people who are not familiar with it—is the image of a military organization. They think Hezbollah is just a military organization. In addition to its defensive and military dimensions to protect Lebanon and to undertake the responsibilities it has defined for itself in that regard, what services has Hezbollah offered to the Lebanese people? We have heard a lot about the progress that Hezbollah has made in science. Besides, there has also been progress in terms of education and literacy rates in that region, especially as compared to before the formation of Hezbollah. These facts have been little publicized. Please tell us more about it. Given the emphasis placed by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution on the progress and investment in the scientific fields of Iran, do you feel you are among the addressees of this remarks?

Naturally, we consider ourselves to be the addressee of these words too, and believe that this is part of our duty, and we work towards this goal. Regarding Hezbollah, from the very beginning, we were concerned with this issue, but today it has become more important and we are paying more attention to it. Hezbollah is not just a military organization, but a popular movement. This group is a popular movement rather than a [political] party, but it is called the Party of Allah. Hezbollah acts like a national and popular movement. In addition to armed resistance and military activities, Hezbollah engages in various activities. Hezbollah has religious activities, and has scholars and missionaries in religious seminaries who carry out promotional activities in different areas. This is a great change. If today you look at the number of religious students in Lebanon compared to the past, you will realize that the proportion of the Lebanese population who are students of religion is significant. If we include our brothers in the holy cities of Qom and Najaf al-Ashraf too, it will make for a spectacular number. This is unprecedented in Lebanon’s history. Regarding ​​religious activities, in many towns and villages of Lebanon, there was not a mosque before. But today, there is no village in which there is not a mosque. There are also mosques in different parts of cities. For example, in Southern Dahieh, even though hundreds of thousands of people live there, there were only 3 or 4 mosques; but today, praise be to Allah, there are mosques in most of its neighborhoods.

Today there are seminaries in different regions. Seminaries for women, as well as cultural, scientific, and religious studies institutions for women can be found in different regions. Organizing religious ceremonies during Muharram and the holy month of Ramadan, organizing Qur’an recitation gatherings, and holding Muharram processions—which are getting more traction year after year—are among other religious activities of Hezbollah. People are keener on religious occasions and activities in Ramadan and the nights of Qadr.

Beside religious activity, Hezbollah has academic and educational activities. We have the strongest student organizations in universities. The most powerful student organizations at universities are those affiliated with Hezbollah and include both boys and girls; they have a significant presence in universities. They have a strong and active presence at universities among university professors, and school teachers in middle schools and high schools. Hezbollah Group is one of the strongest and largest student and educational groups in Lebanon’s schools. They carry out the same activities as those carried out by Hezbollah student organizations at universities.

Therefore, there are cultural, intellectual, media, political, and scientific activities. In the official examinations, we see that girls and boys who are members of Hezbollah, always rank top and are successful in government and official examinations. We have diverse cultural and social activities for different groups. For example, we have a large division called “Women’s Councils” in Hezbollah. Women’s societies are found in all villages. They communicate with all women; organize cultural classes, and ceremonies on religious and political occasions; provide social aid, and govern women’s affairs in different places. We also have a division for teenagers called “Imam Mahdi (as) Scouts”. This organization, in terms of the number of male and female members, is the largest Scout organization in Lebanon. This is another cultural, intellectual, religious, social and, of course, recreational activity.

We have schools under the name of Imam Mahdi (as) Schools, from kindergarten to secondary school, in different regions, including Beqaa, Beirut and the south. A few years ago, we also set up a University of Religious Education. This university has diverse colleges. We also have a radio station. Al Nour radio is one of the strongest radio channels in Lebanon. Al-Manar TV station also belongs to us; in this field, the range of our activities go beyond television. There are also some institutions of social and service activities in Lebanon that belong to Iran, but are run by Hezbollah brothers. For example, the Martyr Foundation, the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, and others. These institutions provide services to the families of martyrs, disabled war veterans, and underprivileged families. We take care of many poor families in need, and a large number of orphans.

Another important area of activity is medical care. We have hospitals, surgery, and therapeutic clinics. We also have a large civil defense organization that helps emergency patients. All of this is supervised by Hezbollah, and not the Lebanese government. All these institutions provide people with health, medical, social and financial services. We have an extensive institution called Imam Kazim (as) Qard al-Hasan [interest-free loan] Institute, which is known as the ” Bayt al-mal of Muslims”; but called the Imam Kazim (as) Qard al-Hasan [interest-free loan] Institute. This institution has branches in most districts and has given tens of thousands of interest-free loans to the people. This is also one of the important and well-known matters in Lebanon.

In addition to all the service centers mentioned, Hezbollah also runs other institutes, such as “Constructive Jihad,” which basically helps people in agriculture. We provide a great deal of assistance in this regard. I may have forgotten some other things. Among other important issues is the participation of Hezbollah in municipal elections. Today, Hezbollah is present in most municipalities and many of the heads of municipalities are among our brothers. These municipalities also particularly serve the people. So, if you go to different cities of Lebanon today, you’ll see the situation there is quite different compared to 10, 20 or 30 years ago.

Well, we get to the participation of Hezbollah in parliamentary elections and the presence of our members in the parliament. Naturally, the number of Hezbollah members of Lebanese parliament does not reflect the true size of this group; that is, this number is not proportionate to the true size of Hezbollah. Because, we tend to form a coalition and hand over several seats to our allies so that they also have a strong presence in the parliament. Our representatives serve the people of their regions in the parliament. We participate in the government and have ministers, and we hold ministries such as the Ministry of Health which are naturally to provide services. The current health minister is among the most active ministers of the government. Therefore, apart from the military dimension, Hezbollah is also politically, socially, and culturally active. We have institutions that are active in communications, and even poetry, literature, painting, and music.

But what the media usually concentrate on is the military dimension, since the most important action by Hezbollah since 1982 was defeating Israeli occupiers and achieving the first manifest Arab victory. This was a huge and great action. That is why Hezbollah’s military dimension is often highlighted. Also, Hezbollah went to Syria to fight against the Takfiris and against a project of foreign domination over the whole region. As a result, its military dimension has been wide and essential. However, other activities of Hezbollah continue strongly; even though they are sometimes not adequately portrayed in the media.

I was listening to your speech on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution; I noticed you pointed out some of the problems the Lebanese people face such as the problems with electricity. When we come to Lebanon sometimes, we see the problem of electricity is very serious, and in fact, it is a concern for the Lebanese people. I heard that Saudi Arabia is one of the obstacles. Please tell us about the needs to solve this problem in Lebanon, the government’s lack of serious action to solve the problem and how it is Hezbollah’s concern.

We follow these cases. Not just Saudi Arabia; the main problem is the United States. For example, what disrupts cooperation between the Lebanese government and the Islamic Republic of Iran? Threats posed by the U.S. Some in the Lebanese government are afraid of the U.S. and their sanctions against Lebanon. Otherwise, a few years ago, delegations from Iran came to Lebanon with offers of help and loans. But they are afraid of U.S. threats and sanctions. The U.S. block [cooperation between Iran and Lebanon]. The U.S. prevents Lebanon from cooperating with not only Iran, but also with Russia and even China. For example, the Lebanese government can buy weapons and use Russian military equipment and armaments, but it does not do so because the U.S. has threatened the Lebanese government saying: “If you buy arms from Russia, we will cut all our aid to the Lebanese army.” Well, China has plenty of opportunities and is willing to cooperate with Lebanon. But why do Lebanon’s doors not open to China? The main reason is the U.S. threat of sanctions. The United States now does not threaten Lebanon of occupation and does not send military forces to it. Because they know that if they enter Lebanon, they cannot occupy and dominate this country. The U.S. knows that in this case, their experience in Iraq would be repeated in Lebanon; as it has already had such an experience in Lebanon in the past. But now the United States resorts to sanctions. When they threaten a country with banking, foreign currency, and trade sanctions, the other party gets scared and back off.

But in any case, we are pursuing in the government, along with the officials, the issues concerning Lebanon and the Lebanese people to the extent of the authorities’ capabilities. To this date, the U.S. has supported Israel in the south, preventing the Lebanese from extracting oil and gas in southern Lebanon; because Israel has threatened [them]. Naturally, we are also threatening [them]. But the companies come looking for a guarantee, and the United States penalizes any company that comes to extract oil and gas in that region, of course, if any company dares to come in the first place. So, the main problem is the United States. Of course, Saudi Arabia is also pushing to prevent serious cooperation with the Lebanese government. For example, Lebanon needs to work with and interact with Syria now, but some Lebanese government officials who count particularly on the relations with the United States and Saudi Arabia do not try that, although the interests of Lebanon require to do so.

Lebanon is an interesting example for those who think cooperation with the United States can solve their problems, and sometimes complain, asking why the Islamic Republic does not resolve its issues with the U.S. government to help resolve its problems. Well, Lebanon has no political problems currently with the United States, and has a good political relationship with it; but the main obstacle to Lebanon’s progress is the United States. I read somewhere you said “we are superior to the Zionists in three areas.” One of the areas you mentioned was in intelligence and information. Well, it’s said that the intelligence system of the Zionist regime is one of the most advanced information systems.

Even during the reign of previous regime in Iran, when they wanted to organize very high levels of intelligence training, they either sent SAVAK agents to the occupied territories, or they brought some trainers from Israel to hold courses in Iran and strengthen Iran’s intelligence systems. Now, you have said that you are superior to Israel in terms of the intelligence system. Based on the points I mentioned and that there are people who might not accept your remark, what explanation do you have in this regard?

I do not remember saying that we are superior. That is, I do not remember saying that we are superior to them. I said we have some information about the situation of Israel that helps us defeat it. We cannot claim to be superior to Israel in terms of intelligence. It is not true. They have some capabilities both technically and in terms of their services. Currently in Lebanon, the services of the U.S. and the services of the European and Arab countries are all at the disposition of Israel. They are technically powerful, and their drones are always flying in our skies, but we do not have such superiority. What I said was that in the past, we had no information—or very poor information—about Israel. But now our strength is that we have much information about Israel, and we know about its bases and barracks, the strengths and weaknesses of its army and its capabilities. We can collect this information by use of various methods. What we need to be able to strike the enemy is this amount of information that we have today, but it is not correct to say we have superiority.

So I would like to ask a question related to the point you mentioned, and then you could continue your words.

That we managed to launch a psychological war against the enemy and affect the enemy’s people showed that my information and the news and issues I was talking about were true and real. The Israelis said: “Wow … they have got so much intelligence.”

One essential point in the context of military confrontation with the Zionist regime is an intelligence surveillance over the enemy, and to use this intelligence in various fields, both in defense of yourself and in planning attacks against the enemy. How much intelligence surveillance has Hezbollah currently gained?

We have an excellent intelligence surveillance that is unprecedented. Hezbollah obtains the necessary intelligence using various methods. The most important intelligence is what we need for any future war or confrontation, or to face any possible threat from Israel. We have an excellent intelligence surveillance and keep track of every development on the enemy’s side. We track the intelligence about the developments related to the enemy, whether obtained through public or confidential methods. But the important thing is to analyze this intelligence; that is, it is important that we evaluate and investigate the intelligence, even when obtained through public means, in order to arrive at a conclusion. This is important.

Hezbollah’s strong point is that it always examines ideology, culture, traditions, customs, weaknesses and strengths as well as the developments related to Israel. This always puts Hezbollah in the context of what goes on within this regime; so that we know how they think, what they like or dislike, what affects them and what problems they are facing. We also know what political, religious and partisan divisions and discords exist within this regime and what the differences between the personalities are. We also evaluate the enemy’s political and military commanders and possess such information. This increases our power to a great extent, and helps us face and confront the enemy through various strategies.

Throughout what you said, you made some remarks about Ayatollah Khamenei on different occasions. I would like to ask you a bit more specifically, considering that you have been in contact with Ayatollah Khamenei for nearly forty years; what are his most prominent personality traits in your opinion? Especially since you have naturally known other important personalities, what makes him singular in comparison?

Firstly, whatever I say in response to this question, I might be accused of bias out of the passion and love that I have for him. Because of this, it may be said that I have brought these issues forward out of affection and love for the Leader. But, realistically and far from the emotional aspects, I have to say that after this extensive experience I have found the Leader possessing exceptional character traits. Sometimes you talk about someone and say that they have good characteristics, of which one or more are excellent and extraordinary. But regarding the Leader, I have to say that he has many exceptional characteristics. For example, his intense sincerity towards God, Islam, Muslims, the underprivileged and the oppressed is an awesome and remarkable devotion. Perhaps this is one of the indications that he is approved by God. This sincerity is very deep and uncommon. When I speak of sincerity, I do not just mean his personality; I have lots of evidence for this. This sincerity lies in his intrinsic personality, in his leadership and in his authority, and does not stop at a certain limit. He always preferred the interests of Islam, Muslims and the public over any other issue.

For example, one of the most prominent features of the Leader is his piety and righteousness. This is a well-known matter. Recently, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and elsewhere has been trying to attack the Leader’s personality. But, idiotically, they have focused on an aspect of his character that nobody would believe their words. For example, they propagated that the Leader’s personal wealth reaches $200 billion.

One of the distinctive features of the Leader is his moral character and his personality traits. Whenever we meet him, we can see humbleness in his face. Every Lebanese who has travelled to Iran and met with the Leader, in private or in public, has been amazed by his humbleness and modesty. Here in Lebanon, we see that even the head of a small municipality in a small area, is not as humble as the Leader before the people and his visitors.

Others feel that rather than an Imam, a Leader, and a sovereign, they are meeting a loving, caring and affectionate father. Regarding his modesty, and paternal behavior, I told you before that whenever we expressed our views, he would weigh in by saying “my suggestion is …”, and asked us to evaluate it for ourselves. This is one of the signs of the modest, kind and paternal behavior of the Leader. This behavior is fatherly because it teaches us how to mature, and make decisions, and it is kind because he does not want to put us in a difficult position and force us to decide.

Another one of his characteristics, is his extensive political and historical knowledge. The Leader knows our region, despite the region and its developments being very complex. I am referring to the West Asia region, also known as the Middle East, and in particular Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and of course specifically Lebanon. The issues in the region are extremely complicated and even many regional politicians and thinkers make mistakes in analyzing the situation. Meanwhile, we have found every analysis by the Leader to be accurate and reasonable over the past 40 years. Every stance he has made towards the countries of the region, even countries where their own people have been unable to analyze their own issues, has been correct. This is extraordinary.

One of his distinctive features in my opinion, is his absolute trust in the Almighty God. We are not talking about someone who has isolated himself to pray or someone who is active in teaching or in scholarly activities and claims to trust God absolutely. The real test is to have a responsibility as important as that of the Leader, to lead the Islamic Republic, lead the Ummah, confront the U.S., the imperialists on Earth, and the arrogant powers, and to support the oppressed and the underprivileged, go to the most difficult battles, and say I trust in God, and really do have trust in God. That is the difference. This is the true faith in God and the ability to nurture it in others. What is meant is not just claiming to have this trust, but to create and nurture it in the hearts and minds of others like the Hezbollah of Lebanon. It is in the shadow of this trust that progress, consciousness, endeavor for the sake of God, and victory will be achieved. It is through this trust that the Iranian nation and the Iranian youth have stood against the U.S. and faced challenges. If the Leader himself had not achieved such a great level of trust in God, he could not pass it on to others.

In the intellectual realm, today there are very few Muslim thinkers in the Muslim world. There is a difference between a thinker and an educated person. We have many Muslim scholars who have written many books and delivered many lectures, but there are not many Muslim thinkers, the like of the martyr Motahhari, or the martyr Sayyid Baqir Sadr who are among the thinkers of the Muslim world. Today, the number of Muslim thinkers in the Muslim world is very small. There is no doubt that someone who listens to the Leader’s speeches, reads his books and listens to his statements and advice, especially during the month of Ramadan, when he meets with different groups, realizes that he is a great Muslim intellectual leader. Perhaps there is no other thinker in the Muslim world of his stature. That is, no Muslim intellectual is currently comparable to him.

Regarding the subject of jurisprudence and fiqh, naturally, the Leader’s scientific character, and his status among scholar has not been adequately presented. I do not claim to be a scholar, but I know many knowledgeable and mujtahid brothers who are scholars themselves and have attended the Leader’s fiqh classes, and have given solid testimonies about his mastery of Islamic law, and his command of jurisprudence and fiqh. When providing testimony regarding his authority in fiqh, this testimony has gone through testing, investigation, and serious scientific examinations, and not based on an emotional stance or the like.

Today, the struggle continues. Who is conducting this struggle, and its requirements, including science, knowledge, thought, and real identification of the issues in every political, economic, social, cultural, military and security dimensions? Who is conducting this struggle which requires deep insight and courage? One may have insight, but lack the courage and spirit of sacrifice with his soul, life, and blood. Which leaders possess all these features all together? This was a summary of the Leader’s characteristics. Although, if one wants to study his exceptional and distinctive features, one would learn about many of them.

You pointed out his courage. In your opinion, what was the most courageous decision by Ayatollah Khamenei regarding the issues of the region?

You know that after the events of September 11 in the U.S., George Bush and the neoconservatives in the U.S. were outraged. They misused the anger of the American people as a pretext to break every legal boundary and international norm. On that day, George Bush declared that the world is either with us or against us. He sent U.S. troops to Iran’s neighbors. We are not talking about U.S. troops deployed to, [let’s say] Brazil. We are talking about forces deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and countries surrounding Iran and its neighboring waters. Bush did this to show his blunt and fierce hostility.

Anyone standing in his way, he would try to destroy. Many in the region were in a state of great fear and horror; because they thought that the U.S. would come and take over the region.  I remember, at the time articles were written claiming the region would enter an American era for 200 or 300 years, and no one can stand up to the United States and defeat it. Who stood up to the United States? The Leader. This stance does not only require historical wisdom, political knowledge, piety or sincerity. It also requires a great deal of courage. He stood against the only arrogant imperialist superpower in the world; a fuming superpower that does not abide by any rule. He stood up to them, not in a subdued state, but taking an attacking posture. In conclusion, the person who has led the fight against the American project in the region over the past years has been the Leader.

When we were talking outside of this interview, you described the decision to get involved in Syria also as a very courageous decision.

Of course; there is no doubt that all of these decisions have been courageous. But you asked me about the most courageous decision. The most courageous decision was to stand against the stupendous, fierce and utterly mad tornado of the United States, and to reject any kind of kneeling or surrender to this tornado and ultimately vanquish it.

About the book “Certainly, Victory Comes with Patience” that you also referred to, during the ceremony marking the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution; please tell us if you remember an interesting point or remarks from this book.

First of all, when this I received this book before its final edition, I read it the same night. It was sunset when I received this book. That night, I read it with great enthusiasm. I first read the introduction written by the Leader in his own handwriting. An introduction in Arabic, which is obviously, also in Persian alphabet. I was surprised. I knew that the Leader is fluent in Arabic, but the text I read was of the highest level of rhetoric and was very eloquent and expressive. I do not think that today, any Arab native could write a text of such beauty and eloquence in Arabic. This was the first thing I noticed at the beginning of the book.

Likewise, what was said in the introduction of the book, regarding its language and expression was very significant. Because I had heard from a brother, Dr. Azarshab that: “This text – i.e. the Arabic text – is written by the Leader, and I have only made simple modifications to it “. The text of this book is a great and very important text in Arabic literature and rhetoric. Many Arab literary figures, not scholars, but literary figures, cannot write a text with such excellent rhetoric and eloquence.

Another feature is a clear, detailed description of the events. The Leader has narrated the events beautifully, in a way that many of them are new to the Arab world, although this may not be the case for the Iranians; because there is of course a Persian version of this book. I had read some books about the Leader’s memories and his life; a collection of many books. But this was the first time I read a book in Arabic written by the Leader himself, which includes extensive details. It was very effective. And, of course, the amount of oppression, pain, suffering and solitude that the Leader and other brothers endured became apparent to the people. But anyway, he narrates his personal recollections, and not those of the others, who are not the subject matter here. Obviously, the Iranian nation, religious leaders, officials, and even those who took up responsibilities later suffered a lot and made many sacrifices for the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

In your meetings with the Leader, what language are the meetings held in?

I speak Arabic and he speaks Persian. But sometimes, at the beginning of the meeting, he asks some questions in Arabic. For example, he asks about how we are, and about our families and brothers in Arabic. But he continues in Persian. Indeed, it was an agreement at the beginning of his leadership and even during his presidency, but mostly during his leadership. Because I understand Persian. But some of my brothers in the Council understood Persian to a certain degree. So, they used to bring an interpreter to the meetings with the Leader. He said in the beginning that we should rely on an interpreter. At a meeting where the Leader, the Lebanese and some Iranian brothers were present he said: “We will not rely on an interpreter from now on. The Iranians must learn Arabic to understand what you say, and the Lebanese must learn Persian, so they do not need an interpreter.” Since then, there has never been an interpreter present at any of our meetings with the Leader.

Clearly, you have many memories of your meetings with the Leader. These memories are related to politics, military discussions, etc. some of which have been explained. Now, at the end of this conversation, if we ask you to share with us one memory that is very sweet and interesting for you, of the many memories that you have, which one would it be?

(Sayyid Hassan laughs) Now, we need to search. They are all good memories. (Sayyid Hassan laughs) It’s difficult to choose one. You know that in the 1990s, i.e. in 1997 or 1998, we were going through a difficult period because of all the hardships, challenges and many dangers and we were very tired. We were in a very difficult position, both domestically in Lebanon, and in our foreign affairs, and the issues related to Israel and our neighbors. Naturally, at that time, I was young. My beard was completely black, and the burden I had on my shoulders was beyond my capacity. I sometimes travelled to Iran. To the Leader I said: “Our Leader! What do I do? “At that time, the Leader answered:” You are still young and your beard is still all black. What complaint should I make about fatigue, with all my beard grey?” He said: “It is natural for anyone to face challenges, difficulties and dangers, sometimes coming from enemies and sometimes from friends. Often, the hardships coming from friends are heavier than those from the enemies, and it causes more pain. Well, ultimately there are limitations in many things. Sometimes a man gets tired mentally and needs someone to guide him and show him the way forward. Sometimes a person needs someone to hold his hand; sometimes he needs someone to calm him down and give him spiritual and moral relief; sometimes he needs someone to increase his strength and reinforce his determination. Well, for all the things we need, we have God the Almighty and do not need anyone else. We have God the Almighty. God the Almighty, through His Kindness and Compassion, has allowed us to call Him and talk to Him at any time and place.”

These words were all by the Leader, stated without any formalities. He continued: “For that reason, whenever you feel tired or overwhelmed, I recommend the following. Enter a room alone, and for 5 or 10 minutes or a quarter of an hour, talk to God the Exalted. We believe that God is present, hears, sees and knows, and He is capable, rich and wise. That is, God has everything we all need. So talk to Him, and for this purpose, there is no necessity to read the Prophet’s (PBUH) or the infallible Imams’ invocations. No, in your own language, say what weighs on your heart and minds, using your everyday language. God will hear and see, and He is generous, benevolent, forgiving, merciful, and the source of guidance and knowledge. If you do this, God gives you peace, confidence and power, and takes your hand and leads you. I say this from experience. Try it and see the result. “

Then I told them that God willing, I will follow his advice. Since then, I have done this occasionally and seen the blessings of this advice and guidance from the Leader. No matter how great the hardships, if we resort to this means, the doors of the great divine blessing will open to us. This was the most important thing we did during the 33-day. Whether I, or my brothers, we each sought a secluded corner, and we would resort to God the Exalted and ask for guidance, support, determination, power, courage, and so on. God the Exalted is so generous.

Thank you very much. At the end of this conversation, I would like to ask your Excellency if you would like to say a few words in Persian to the Iranian people.

It’s hard for me. I speak in Persian in our private meetings, but because it is for the media, I have to be cautious.

We cannot thank you enough for the amount of time you dedicated for us, several hours both yesterday and today. We are grateful, and God willing, this interview will be a source of blessing and goodwill for the Iranian nation and the Islamic Ummah. May Allah keep you in good health; you are a source of pride for all Muslims.

 

مصر لن تفتح ذراعَيْها للفوضى والأخوان

سبتمبر 30, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– شكلت زيارتي للقاهرة عشية السنة الخمسين لرحيل الراحل العظيم جمال عبد الناصر، حدثاً وجدانياً وسياسياً، والأهمّ فرصة لسماع وتتبع نمط تعامل شرائح ونخب مصرية عديدة مع ما يجري في مصر، وما يعتقد المصريون بألسنة قادة الرأي بينهم حول ما يتوقّعونه من مكانة حاسمة لمصر في توازنات ومعادلات إقليميّة، يرونه سبباً في لحظات الاهتزاز الكبيرة التي تعيشها المنطقة أن يكون الطلب خلاله على أدوار من مصر، مشفوعاً بالرسائل المشفرة، التي يمكن أن يأتي بعضها أمنياً، كما يقرأون في تصاعد بعض العمليات التي تستهدف الأمن المصري وما قابله من ترتيب جهوزية استثنائية للجيش والأجهزة، وهو ما قالته العمليات الأخيرة في سيناء، ويمكن أن يأتي بصيغة توظيف مدروس لمناخات التعب الاقتصادي والاجتماعي لشرائح شعبية أو مناخات القلق والتذمر والتطلعات لشرائح شبابية، وقد علمهم الربيع العربي، وما حدث مع ثورتهم الأولى، ألا يروا في كل ما يلمع ذهباً، وأن يقتصدوا في استخدام مصطلحات من نوع ثورة وانتفاضة واحتجاجات عفوية، حتى لو كانت لهم مآخذ كثيرة على أداء الحكومة ومؤسساتها، أو على بعض ما يظنونه بروداً في التعامل مع المتغيرات وتبديلَ بعض الخيارات أو تطوير بعضها، يعتقدون أن بلدهم معني فيه، وأن زمن انتظارها قد طال.

– التوق لدور قيادي لمصر في الأزمات الدائرة في المنطقة يبقى نخبوياً بالتأكيد، رغم مشاعر شعبيّة عارمة تفجّرت في ذكرى رحيل جمال عبد الناصر استعادت في بريق العيون ولهفات العناق وبحة الحناجر، تلك الأيام التي كانت القاهرة مركز صناعة السياسة الأول في المنطقة، وأحد المراكز العالمية المعدودة التي يحسبُ حسابها الكبار في قراراتهم. والتوق يبقى أقوى لدى الناصريين الذي يشكلون بيئة ثقافية حيّة وجمهوراً مشبعاً بالقيم والأخلاق، وكل منهم لا يخفي حجم تعلقه بالمقاومة، ووفائه لفلسطين، وعشقه لسورية، ويحكي بلا حساب أحلامه عن التطلع ليوم تكون فيه مصر كما يحب أن يراها درة تاج في هذا المثلث، لكنهم يستدركون بالقول، طبعاً لا ضغط على مصر بوسائل خبيثة ومؤذية أو رهانات مقامرة او انتهازية مشبوهة، طلبا لتحقق مثل هذا الحلم، بل هو أمل بتطوّر موقف الدولة ومؤسساتها، نحو سقوف تعبر فيها بوضوح أكبر عن اصطفافات تستثمر على تطورات المنطقة، وتغيرات موازينها ليكون لمصر بعض مما يحلمون به، ولو بالتدريج وبتواضع التمني، خصوصاً أن ما خبروه من خوف وقلق على مصر ووحدتها وأمنها واستقرارها، ومكانتها وتحالفاتها، ونبض مواقفها، خلال فترة تولي الأخوان المسلمين مقاليد الأمور في بلدهم، جعلهم يضبطون إيقاع مواقفهم، وحتى مشاعرهم، أو غضبهم أحياناً، على التمسك بمعادلة ذهبية أظهرتها عاصفة الخماسين التي سُمّيت ربيعاً وأصابت بلدان المنطقة، وهي أن الأوطان والجيوش توأمان، وبعدهما تأتي السياسة، بعيداً عن التطيُّر اليساري الذي شغل بال كثير من النخب والأحزاب خلال عقود مضت تحت شعار لا للعسكرة.

– الطلب على دور لمصر يأتي من الذين يخسرون معاركهم في الإقليم، وخصوصاً الذين يربكهم عدم انخراطها في أدوار عرضت عليها ورفضتها المؤسسة العسكرية والأمنية والدبلوماسية بقوة، سواء في مراحل الحرب السورية التي سبقت ثورة 30 يونيو، وتسلم الجيش مقاليد الحكم وإطاحته بقوة الشارع ودعمه لحكم الأخوان، أو في مواقع مشابهة، تملصت منها مصر وجيشها بذكاء، ولكن وبصورة أشد خصوصاً، تبدو العيون مفتوحة على التراجع التركي الإقليمي، وحاجة أنقرة التي خسرت رهاناتها في سورية وتخسرها في ليبيا، لمنع مصر من التقدم نحو المنصة السياسية للترتيبات والتسويات، كجهة تلقى القبول والترحيب من أغلب اللاعبين المحليين والإقليميين، ويخشون من أن يكون العبث والفوضى، أهدافاً بحد ذاتها دون سقوف القدرة على إحداث تغييرات كبيرة، تبدو مستحيلة، في ظل معادلات واقعية باتت تحكم مزاج الشارع وعلاقته بالمؤسسة العسكرية كخط أحمر غير قابل للتفاوض من طرفيه. فيصير العبث والفوضى هدفين لبريد رسائل يحاول الضغط والإرباك، ولو استخدم وقوداً له نيات طيبة، او أوجاعاً مشروعة، أو مآخذ ونقاط ضعف تتداولها الناس في صالوناتها وترغب بتلافيها وتفاديها، أو تطلّعات وطلبات ترغب بإسماعها والأخذ بها.

– لا قلق على مصر من الذهاب إلى الفوضى، ولا خوف على مصر من عودة الأخوان، ولا خطر ثالث سوى هذين يراه المصريون هذه الأيام ويضعونه في الحسبان، وبعضهم المتحمّس للدفاع عن أداء مؤسسة الحكم، ولو بقوة عمق ما تعلّموه من عبرة ما جرى عندما خطف الأخوان ثورتهم الأولى، لا يمتنع عن تقديم دفاعاته عن السياسات الرسمية وحساباتها وحجم الضغوط الاقتصادية المحيطة بمصر وحاجاتها الكثيرة، رغم ضيق الموارد، وبالتوازي حجم القيود التي تربك حركتها لتطوير مواقفها ورفع سقف حضورها، ودرجة الحساسيّة العدائيّة المتوجّسة التي تحضر فيها التعاملات الغربية والإسرائيلية مع كل خطوة تخطوها مصر نحو دورها الطبيعي في المنطقة، خصوصاً من البوابة السورية، التي سيلحظ بقوة كل زائر لمصر يلتقي نخبها ويجس نبض شارعها، أنه شأن مصري، لا يزال يتردد معه كلام جمال عبد الناصر سورية قلب العروبة النابض ، أو التذكير بأن الجيش السوري هو الجيش الأول كما جرت تسميته في مرحلة الوحدة السورية المصرية ولا يزال، أو أن مصر هي الإقليم الجنوبي وسورية هي الإقليم الشمالي، وبالمقابل الكلام الذي قاله حكم الأخوان ذات يوم سبق ترحيلهم من السلطة، عن القرار بالذهاب للقتال ضد الجيش السوري، فكانت الخطيئة المحرّمة التي دقت معها ساعة الرحيل.

– بعد كل هذا الكلام المشحون بالقلق والرغبة، بالطموح والخشية، بالعقلانية والحماس، يلتقي كل نقاش مصري على معادلات تختصر، بالثقة بأن ما يجري في المنطقة سيمنح مصر، التي تقف بثبات عند خط رفض الاشتراك في الخطط والمشاريع المسمومة للمنطقة، وكلما هزمت هذه المشاريع وتلقت المزيد من الضربات، فرصاً لتتقدّم مصر أكثر، ولو تأخّرت حيناً أو ترددت أحياناً، ويلتقي كل نقاش عند حد أدنى عنوانه الحفاظ على استقرار وتماسك مصر، وعلى التمسك بعدم التهاون مع كل ما من شأنه فتح الأبواب أو الشبابيك أمام عبث وفوضى يستعيدان مشهد الأخوان، أو تفوح منهما رائحة أجنبية، أو تفضح خلفياتهما الأسئلة المالية عن مصادر التمويل، وكلام كثير عن تصادم واهم خاضه مشروع الأخوان بعنوان الدين بوجه الجيش، وتصادم واهم آخر يسعى إليه البعض بين المال والجيش، لأن المصريين لن يسلّموا رقابهم لأصحاب الشركات، ولا الصفقات، ولا المقاولات، فيما كثير من مآخذهم وعتبهم على حكومتهم ينبع من حجم نفوذ هؤلاء، لكن الخلاصة تبقى ثابتة، مصر لن ترجع إلى الوراء ولو كان التقدّم إلى الأمام بطيئاً، ومثلما كان عنوان التراجع الممنوع هو التورط في الحرب ضد سورية، فعنوان التقدّم المأمول هو الانخراط في صناعة الحضور مع سورية ونحو سورية وفي سورية.

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US Now Admits it is Funding “Occupy Central” in Hong Kong

Global Research, August 22, 2019

This article first published almost five years ago on October 1, 2014 is of particular relevance to an understanding of recent developments in Hong Kong.

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Just as the US admitted shortly after the so-called “Arab Spring” began spreading chaos across the Middle East that it had fully funded, trained, and equipped both mob leaders and heavily armed terrorists years in advance, it is now admitted that the US State Department through a myriad of organizations and NGOs is behind the so-called “Occupy Central” protests in Hong Kong. 

The Washington Post would report in an article titled, “Hong Kong erupts even as China tightens screws on civil society,” that:

Chinese leaders unnerved by protests elsewhere this year have been steadily tightening controls over civic organizations on the mainland suspected of carrying out the work of foreign powers.

The campaign aims to insulate China from subversive Western ideas such as democracy and freedom of expression, and from the influence, specifically, of U.S. groups that may be trying to promote those values here, experts say. That campaign is long-standing, but it has been prosecuted with renewed vigor under President Xi Jinping, especially after the overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych following months of street demonstrations in Kiev that were viewed here as explicitly backed by the West.

The Washington Post would also report (emphasis added):

One foreign policy expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive subject, said Putin had called Xi to share his concern about the West’s role in Ukraine. Those concerns appear to have filtered down into conversations held over cups of tea in China, according to civil society group members.

“They are very concerned about Color Revolutions, they are very concerned about what is going on in Ukraine,” said the international NGO manager, whose organization is partly financed by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), blamed here for supporting the protests in Kiev’s central Maidan square. “They say, ‘Your money is coming from the same people. Clearly you want to overthrow China.’ ”

Congressionally funded with the explicit goal of promoting democracy abroad, NED has long been viewed with suspicion or hostility by the authorities here. But the net of suspicion has widened to encompass such U.S. groups as the Ford Foundation, the International Republican Institute, the Carter Center and the Asia Foundation. 

Of course, NED and its many subsidiaries including the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute do no such thing as “promoting democracy,” and instead are in the business of constructing a global network of neo-imperial administration termed “civil society” that interlocks with the West’s many so-called “international institutions” which in turn  are completely controlled by interests in Washington, upon Wall Street, and in the cities of London and Brussels.

Image: While the Washington Post would have readers believe NED is in the business of promoting “freedom of expression” and “democracy” the corporate-financier interests represented on NED’s board of directors are anything but champions of such principles, and are instead notorious for principles precisely the opposite. 

The very concept of the United States “promoting democracy” is scandalous when considering it is embroiled in an invasive global surveillance scandal, guilty of persecuting one unpopular war after another around the planet against the will of its own people and based on verified lies, and brutalizing and abusing its own citizens at home with militarized police cracking down on civilians in towns like Ferguson, Missouri – making China’s police actions against “Occupy Central” protesters pale in comparison. “Promoting democracy” is clearly cover for simply expanding its hegemonic agenda far beyond its borders and at the expense of national sovereignty for all subjected to it, including Americans themselves.

In 2011, similar revelations were made public of the US’ meddling in the so-called “Arab Spring” when the New York Times would report in an article titled, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” that:

A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington.

The article would also add, regarding NED specifically, that:

The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department.

 

Image: US Senator John McCain on stage in Kiev, Ukraine cheerleading US
funded sedition in Eastern Europe. In 2011, McCain would famously taunt
both Russia and China that US-funded subversion was coming their way.
“Occupy Central” is one of many waves that have hit China’s shores since.

 

Pro-war and interventionist US Senator John McCain had famously taunted both Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping’s predecessor in 2011 that the US subversion sweeping the Middle East was soon headed toward Moscow and Beijing. The Atlantic in a 2011 article titled, “The Arab Spring: ‘A Virus That Will Attack Moscow and Beijing’,” would report that:

He [McCain] said, “A year ago, Ben-Ali and Gaddafi were not in power. Assad won’t be in power this time next year. This Arab Spring is a virus that will attack Moscow and Beijing.” McCain then walked off the stage.

Considering the overt foreign-funded nature of not only the “Arab Spring,” but now “Occupy Central,” and considering the chaos, death, destabilization, and collapse suffered by victims of previous US subversion, “Occupy Central” can be painted in a new light – a mob of dupes being used to destroy their own home – all while abusing the principles of “democracy” behind which is couched an insidious, diametrically opposed foreign imposed tyranny driven by immense, global spanning corporate-financier interests that fear and actively destroy competition. In particular, this global hegemon seeks to suppress the reemergence of Russia as a global power, and prevent the rise of China itself upon the world’s stage.

The regressive agenda of “Occupy Central’s” US-backed leadership, and their shameless exploitation of the good intentions of the many young people ensnared by their gimmicks, poses a threat in reality every bit as dangerous as the “threat” they claim Beijing poses to the island of Hong Kong and its people. Hopefully the people of China, and the many people around the world looking on as “Occupy Central” unfolds, will realize this foreign-driven gambit and stop it before it exacts the heavy toll it has on nations that have fallen victim to it before – Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Egypt, and many others.

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