US Threatens Lebanon: Leave Hezbollah or Total Collapse

US Threatens Lebanon: Leave Hezbollah or Total Collapse

By Marwa Osman

Beirut – On March 22, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Beirut threatening the Lebanese by giving them two options: either confront Hezbollah or pay the price. What Pompeo said eight months ago was repeated by former US ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman, before Congress. What he meant was that the Lebanese had two options: either to adhere to Washington’s policies, or to collapse. Washington’s policies also mean standing up to Hezbollah [in his testimony, Feltman repeated the word Hezbollah’s 49 times], weakening his allies in any future elections, and forming a technocratic government.

Jeffrey Felmann presented his vision of the situation in Lebanon. “What happens is related to American interests,” he said. The mobility in Congress seemed remarkable, as the Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and International Terrorism [a branch of the House Foreign Affairs Committee] met in a session entitled:

“What is next for Lebanon?

The demonstrations, that the US is so interested in, has been taking place in Lebanon since October 17, are according to Feltman “not about the United States”. Feltman cautioned that it is necessary for his country to avoid turning the focal point of the protests against the US, because the outcome of what is happening will affect Washington’s interests, whether positive or negative, “in what could be a pivotal moment in the history of Lebanon.”

Over the years, many have been surprised by Lebanon’s amazing ability to stay afloat. Remaining intact politically and economically, amid circumstances suggesting an imminent collapse. Feltman pointed out that predictions of Lebanon’s fate often proved wrong. This time, however, it seems different. Lebanon’s internal and external debt management is not only increasingly complex in a stagnated economy, but the public is exhausted and angry at the sectarian rhetoric and lame excuses used by political leaders to advance their narrow political and financial interests. As a result, the Lebanese political system as a whole is subject to hostile public scrutiny, and Hezbollah, according to Feltman, is only the target of such scrutiny.

Feltman’s preposterous propaganda was not surprising, given Pompeo concluded his visit last March by seemingly encouraging an uprising against Hezbollah when he said,

“It will take courage for the nation of Lebanon to stand up to Hezbollah’s criminality, terror, and threats.”

Pompeo’s threat was clear: If Lebanon fails to limit Hezbollah’s political and military power, it would risk not just losing US aid but also a more severe response, possibly in the form of debilitating national sanctions.

Pompeo attacked the Lebanese Resistance for carrying out “Iran’s agenda” in the region at the expense of Lebanon’s domestic order and “the prosperity of future generations.” However, what the secretary of state fails to comprehend is that if the United States follows through on this plan to inflict collective punishment on Lebanon over Hezbollah, the results are likely to be the opposite of what administration officials intend.

Hezbollah’s allies inside Lebanon are today ever more defensiveness towards the party to a point that it seems US officials have completely misunderstood our internal political system. Pompeo, Feltman and whoever is hoping to damage Hezbollah with these protests, has completely missed the fact that Lebanon’s sectarian political system forbids treating Hezbollah, which has a parliamentary faction legitimately elected into office, as an illegal entity. US officials and their regional and local affiliates seem to have missed that the military power of Hezbollah, with its Iranian weapons and training that no one is denying, is superior to that of the Lebanese Armed Forces. It has successfully branded itself to the Lebanese public as capable of standing up to Israel in ways that the Lebanese army manifestly cannot.

Even Lebanese officials critical of Hezbollah dismissed Pompeo’s calls to directly challenge the group, warning that were they to follow his advice, the country could descend into a second civil war. That assessment may be overly exaggerated. The United States, however, is undoubtedly risking Lebanon’s basic stability in ways that may ultimately benefit Hezbollah rather than harm it.

The United States, which has already imposed sanctions against Hezbollah leaders and Hezbollah-affiliated businesses, hopes to step up pressure on the Shia community, could now risk facing resistance even from the US’s local allies, who fear that pushing too hard could trigger a backlash and endanger the tiny country’s fragile peace.

President Aoun, Hezbollah’s biggest ally in Lebanon, has repeated on many occasions that the country’s priority is to preserve national unity and peace while affirming especially during his latest TV interview last week that

“Hezbollah is a Lebanese party that has a popular base representing one of the main [religious] sects in the country.”

It simply now seems that the American efforts to weaken and isolate Hezbollah might have only succeeded in creating countless practical problems for the party that it can outmaneuver in simple steps but did nothing to accomplish the fundamental United States goal of containing Hezbollah politically and militarily.

Meanwhile, lasting effect of US policy is yet to be seen. However, even when we have the likes of Pompeo and Feltman believing the US should adopt a more nuanced approach towards Hezbollah, it is only normal fathom that the United States has limited power to coerce actions from Lebanese politicians and institutions. The question the Trump administration should be asking is whether sweeping sanctions against the Lebanese government and institutions would weaken Hezbollah or rather strengthen it in the longer run.

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Powerful Iraqi group says they will remain part of ‘axis of resistance’ despite foreign pressure

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:30 A.M.) – The Secretary-General of Harakat Al-Nujaba, Akram al-Kaabi, said last week that Iraq will remain part of the “axis of resistance” despite foreign-led initiatives to detach the Iraqi society from the regional developments.

“Our enemies want Iraq to be an apathetic society and not react to what is happening in our region. This goes against our beliefs,” al-Kaabi stated, as Press TV reported.

Al-Kaabi stressed that based on Islamic beliefs, Iraq cannot be separated from the greater Muslim world and the regional “resistance axis”.

“Major organizations affiliated with the Zionists, the United States and the Saudis are managing a media war against the resistance and are seeking to target our youth and our moral values,” he added.

The Harakat Al-Nujaba chief added that it was unfortunate that some of Iraq’s elites and leaders had been influenced by this foreign-backed trend.

“If our positions are based on the enemy’s media objectives, this will surely deviate us,” he noted.

Al-Kaabi made these comments shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Baghdad to discuss the ongoing situation with Iran.

In addition to being one of the most powerful paramilitaries in Iraq, Harakat Al-Nujaba is also a close ally to Iran. They have both fought alongside one another inside Iraq and Syria.

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What Putin and Pompeo did not talk about

May 15, 2019

by Pepe Escobar : Posted with permission

What Putin and Pompeo did not talk aboutRussia is uneasy over the destabilizatihttp://by Pepe Escobar : Posted with permissionon of Tehran, and on other hotspots the powers’ positions are clear.

Even veiled by thick layers of diplomatic fog, the overlapping meetings in Sochi between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov still offer tantalizing geopolitical nuggets.

Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov did his best to smooth the utterly intractable, admitting there was “no breakthrough yet” during the talks but at least the US “demonstrated a constructive approach.”

Putin told Pompeo that after his 90-minute phone call with Trump, initiated by the White House, and described by Ushakov as “very good,” the Russian president “got the impression that the [US] president was inclined to re-establish Russian-American relations and contacts to resolve together the issues that are of mutual interest to us.”

That would imply a Russiagate closure. Putin told Pompeo, in no uncertain terms, that Moscow never interfered in the US elections, and that the Mueller report proved that there was no connection between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

This adds to the fact Russiagate has been consistently debunked by the best independent American investigators such as the VIPS group.   

‘Interesting’ talk on Iran

Let’s briefly review what became public of the discussions on multiple (hot and cold) conflict fronts – Venezuela, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran.

Venezuela – Ushakov reiterated the Kremlin’s position: “Any steps that may provoke a civil war in the country are inadmissible.” The future of President Maduro was apparently not part of the discussion.

That brings to mind the recent Arctic Council summit. Both Lavrov and Pompeo were there. Here’s a significant exchange:

Lavrov: I believe you don’t represent the South American region, do you?

Pompeo: We represent the entire hemisphere.

Lavrov: Oh, the hemisphere. Then what’s the US doing in the Eastern Hemisphere, in Ukraine, for instance?

There was no response from Pompeo.

North Korea – Even acknowledging that the Trump administration is “generally ready to continue working [with Pyongyang] despite the stalemate at the last meeting, Ushakov again reiterated the Kremlin’s position: Pyongyang will not give in to “any type of pressure,” and North Korea wants “a respectful approach” and international security guarantees.

Afghanistan – Ushakov noted Moscow is very much aware that the Taliban are getting stronger. So the only way out is to find a “balance of power.” There was a crucial trilateral in Moscow on April 25 featuring Russia, China and the US, where they all called on the Taliban to start talking with Kabul as soon as possible.

Iran – Ushakov said the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal, was “briefly discussed.”.He would only say the discussion was “interesting.”

Talk about a larger than life euphemism. Moscow is extremely uneasy over the possibility of a destabilization of Iran that allows a free transit of jihadis from the Caspian to the Caucasus.

Which brings us to the heart of the matter. Diplomatic sources – from Russia and Iran – confirm, off the record, there have been secret talks among the three pillars of Eurasian integration – Russia, China and Iran – about Chinese and Russian guarantees in the event the Trump administration’s drive to strangle Tehran to death takes an ominous turn.

This is being discussed at the highest levels in Moscow and Beijing. The bottom line: Russia-China won’t allow Iran to be destroyed.

But it’s quite understandable that Ushakov wouldn’t let that information slip through a mere press briefing.

Wang Yi and other deals

On multiple fronts, what was not disclosed by Ushakov is way more fascinating than what’s now on the record. There’s absolutely no way Russian hypersonic weapons were not also discussed, as well as China’s intermediate-range missiles capable of reaching any US military base encircling or containing China.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, third right, meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, center left, in Sochi on 14 May 2019. Photo: AFP / Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service / Anadolu

The real deal was, in fact, not Putin-Pompeo or Pompeo-Lavrov in Sochi. It was actually Lavrov-Wang Yi (the Chinese Foreign Minister), the day before in Moscow.

A US investment banker doing business in Russia told me: “Note how Pompeo ran like mad to Sochi. We are frightened and overstretched.”

Diplomats later remarked: “Pompeo looked solemn afterwards. Lavrov sounded very diplomatic and calm.” It’s no secret in Moscow’s top diplomatic circles that the Chinese Politburo overruled President Xi Jinping’s effort to find an accommodation to Trump’s tariff offensive. The tension was visible in Pompeo’s demeanor.

In terms of substance, it’s remarkable how Lavrov and Wang Yi talked about, literally, everything: Syria, Iran, Venezuela, the Caspian, the Caucasus, New Silk Roads (BRI), Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), missiles, nuclear proliferation.

Or as Lavrov diplomatically put it: “In general, Russia-China cooperation is one of the key factors in maintaining the international security and stability, establishing a multipolar world order. . . . Our states cooperate closely in various multilateral organizations, including the UN, G20, SCO, BRICS and RIC [Russia, India, China trilateral forum], we are working on aligning the integration potential of the EAEU and the Belt and Road Initiative, with potentially establishing [a] larger Eurasian partnership.”

The strategic partnership is in sync on Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan – they want a solution brokered by the SCO. And on North Korea, the message could not have been more forceful.

After talking to Wang Yi, Lavrov stressed that contacts between Washington and North Korea “proceeded in conformity with the road map that we had drafted together with China, from confidence restoration measures to further direct contacts.”

This is a frank admission that Pyongyang gets top advice from the Russia-China strategic partnership. And there’s more: “We hope that at a certain point a comprehensive agreement will be achieved on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and on the creation of a system of peace and security in general in Northeast Asia, including concrete firm guarantees of North Korea’s security.”

Translation: Russia and China won’t back down on guaranteeing North Korea’s security. Lavrov said: “Such guarantees will be not easy to provide, but this is an absolutely mandatory part of a future agreement. Russia and China are prepared to work on such guarantees.”

Reset, maybe?

The indomitable Maria Zakharova, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, may have summed it all up. A US-Russia reset may even, eventually, happen. Certainly, it won’t be of the Hillary Clinton kind, especially when current CIA director Gina Haspel is shifting most of the agency’s resources towards Iran and Russia.

Top Russian military analyst Andrei Martyanov was way more scathingRussia won’t break with China, because the US “doesn’t have any more a geopolitical currency to ‘buy’ Russia – she is out of [the] price range for the US.”

That left Ushakov with his brave face, confirming there may be a Trump-Putin meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka next month.

“We can organize a meeting ‘on the go’ with President Trump. Alternatively, we can sit down for a more comprehensive discussion.”

Under the current geopolitical incandescence, that’s the best rational minds can hope for.

 

Lebanon Shows Entire World Pride in Face of US Tyrant

 March 23, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his entorage waiting for President Michel Aoun at Baabda Palace

Mohammad Salami

US officials’ visits to the world countries in most of the cases seem to be political raids aimed at imposing certain conditions which serve the interests of Washington and its allies.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived on Friday (March 22) in Beirut to convey the Israeli demands and conditions to the Lebanese officials, pertaining the demarcation of the marine borders and the natural resources investments.

Pompeo also wanted to pressure the Lebanese officials against tackling the displaced Syrians file in order to exploit their crisis in the US scheme which targets Damascus.

Pompeo and his entourage started touring the various decision-making centers in Beirut in order to provoke the Lebanese against Hezbollah resistance which has protected the country from the Zionist and the takfiri enemies.

The victorious country decided to show the heavy guest and the entire world how power can never defeat national dignity and pride, blocking the way of the US tyrants’ schemes in Lebanon and the region.

President Michel Aoun coldly shook hands with Pompeo and disregarded his assistant David Hale, stressing during the meeting that Hezbollah is a Lebanese party stemming from a popular base that represents one of the main sects in the country.

Aoun also asked Pompeo for his country’s assistance in the return of the Syrian refugees to the safe areas in Syria, stressing that the refugees’ return operations administered by the General Security will continue.

House Speaker Nabih Berri received Pompeo and highlighted the importance of maintaining stability in Lebanon and the need to deal with the maritime borders issue, including Lebanon’s Special Economic Zone.

Berri also stressed that Hezbollah is a “Lebanese party represented at the parliament and the government. Its resistance and that of the Lebanese are the result of the continued Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory.”

Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil explained to pompeo the dangers posed by the issue of the displaced Syrians in Lebanon, asking for US help in this regard and stressing that Hezbollah is a non-terrorist party that has a great popular support.

The US Secretary of State, consequently, failed to impose on the Lebanese officials any of Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s conditions, stating that his talks in Beirut were “negative”.

As coincidences may convey truth more than planned events, Pompeo’s “yellow” necktie says so much about the yellow flag which have been always squeezing the US plots in Lebanon and the whole region.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Charging into Venezuela – Disastrous Overstretch for US

Charging into Venezuela – Disastrous Overstretch for US

MARTIN SIEFF | 24.02.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

Charging into Venezuela – Disastrous Overstretch for US

Are Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton and (farcically titled) Special Envoy for Restoring Democracy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams agents of influence for Russia and China? The idea has a lot more going for it than most of the ridiculous paranoia sweeping Washington over the past years.

If Russia and China really wanted to subvert the national security of the United States, they would seek to plunge Washington into a completely new, open-ended war with no practical resolution in sight on another continent far away from either of them where the United States itself had absolutely no major strategic interests at all, apart from fantasies of domination and greed.

Such a war would also serve the purpose of burning up an increasing share of the defense budget that otherwise could be spent on modernizing the US armed forces.

Repeated congressional testimony over the past two years by Service chiefs confirms that these forces remain woefully aging and out of date despite record size defense budgets. This is testimony to the incompetence, corruption and sheer wastefulness of the military-industrial-congressional-complex (MICC).

Most of all, such a war would weaken the US armed forces and distract them from what is now supposed to be their primary strategic goal, as set out by the Trump administration itself of focusing on great power competition, primarily with Russia and China.

The sudden obsession with provoking a full-scale military confrontation with Venezuela does not fit this ambitious agenda: Instead it subverts it and guarantees US failure and defeat.

Pompeo and Bolton appear to have successfully sold the Venezuela adventure to President Donald Trump on the grounds of eliminating Russia’s main friendly nation in the Western hemisphere that has hosted flights by Tuploev160 supersonic “White Swan” nuclear strike aircraft, the best strategic bombers in the world.

However, it is clear that Trump was sold a bill of goods and that Bolton and Pompeo are energetically pushing for mission creep to eventually insert major US military forces in Venezuela to topple legitimate President Nicolas Maduro and replace him with the farcical National Assembly Speaker Juan Guiado.

The US Fourth Fleet has been activated in the Caribbean and Bolton has been preparing to deploy thousands of US ground forces in neighboring Columbia – which incidentally continues to pose a far greater threat to US national security by its cocaine production and exports than Venezuela has ever done.

But why are they doing it? Venezuela’s vast oil supplies certainly make a tempting target. But previous US efforts at regime change, most notably in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven woefully incompetent in securing control of their victims’ strategic resources, much less organizing them for profit.

The British Empire – which seized and ran Iran’s oil resources for more than 40 years from 1911 to 1953 and Iraq’s from 1918 to 1958 – proved vastly more efficient in its day at arranging such matters.

On the other hand, the recklessness and indeed plain stupidity of charging into Venezuela and risking opening up an endless war in a tropical jungle environment for the first time in half a century since Vietnam ought to be obvious to the National Security Adviser of the United States.

US forces remain overstretched and exhausted, caught up in major unending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and sucked into highly dangerous commitments in Georgia and Ukraine and the Baltic States any of which could escalate through recklessness or sheer incompetence into global war.

The US armed forces desperately need a time of peace and retrenchment such as they enjoyed under President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s and President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to rest, recover and re-equip themselves. But Bolton, with his usual explosive cocktail combination of recklessness, gambling and hard-charging ignorance is not giving them that.

Bolton and his neocon coconspirators have always narcissistically prided themselves on being strategic “geniuses” much as Wile E Coyote, the endlessly hapless comic buffoon of the classic Warner Brothers Road Runner cartoons always did. Instead, in reality they have always been catastrophic clowns who did not have a clue what they were stumbling into. Venezuela is repeating that classic nightmare pattern.

A quarter of a millennium ago, a real strategic genius King Frederick the Great (Friedrich der Gross) of Prussia cautioned, “He who tries to defend everything defends nothing.”

One hundred and twenty years ago, the masters of the British Empire preserved their far-flung domains by applying the same principle: They settled all their outstanding differences with Russia and Japan in order to focus on the one primary existential threat arising for them with Imperial Germany’s construction of a new High Seas Fleet.

However, Bolton, Pompeo and their minions are deaf to such precedents. They reckon themselves far wiser than old King Frederick or than Winston Churchill, who appealed in vain through the 1930s for Britain to forge an alliance with the Soviet Union and resolve its differences with Italy in order to focus on the one true threat to everyone – Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime in Germany.

Getting involved in Venezuela does much more to weaken US power in Afghanistan, Eastern Europe and the Middle East than anything the governments of Russia, China and Iran combined could come up with, even if they wanted to. It is a classic case of strategic overstretch and dissipation of effort.

Bolton and his friends have become victims of their own rhetoric, drunk on their own mad delusions. They really believe that the United States has become an eternal hyper-power, virtually omnipotent and inexhaustible – able to project limitless power in every direction simultaneously.

Friedrich Nietzsche was right: Those who the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

Venezuela, Hezbollah and Iran: The latest hysteria from the US ‘backyard’

Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin magazine.
The US ‘obligation’ to respond to manufactured threats constitutes preemptive justification for yet more pernicious activity
A poster showing Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is seen in Beirut in 2006 (AFP)

Speaking on 6 February to Fox Business about the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a grave warning about outside interference in the South American nation: “People don’t recognise that Hezbollah has active cells. The Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America.”

The next day, the US Southern Command’s Admiral Craig S Faller informed the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran “has deepened its anti-US influence campaign in Spanish-language media, and its proxy Lebanese Hezbollah maintains facilitation networks throughout the region that cache weapons and raise funds, often via drug trafficking and money laundering”.

As usual, concerned media took the ball and ran with it.

Sensationalist drivel

In one exemplary piece of sensationalist drivel for Radio Farda – the Persian-language component of the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty network (with a website also in English) – Penny L Watson babbled about the threat posed to the US on account of Hezbollah and Iran’s alleged conversion of Venezuela into a base of operations.

As of 2010, she asserted, there were “as many as six terrorist training camps” scattered around the Venezuelan capital of Caracas and Margarita Island off the country’s coast, regularly hyped as a terror hotbed. (I myself incidentally visited the island around that time and didn’t manage to track down a single “terrorist”, despite being in the company of a Lebanese-Palestinian friend who had fought alongside Hezbollah against the Israeli occupation of Lebanon.)

We’d be forgiven for perceiving the Caracas-Tehran one-stop as something less than a smoking gun

A New York Post article by Benny Avni, who surmises that “Iran’s clerics” must be “trembl[ing] as they watch their old Caracas allies teeter”, brings up another pet factoid regularly regurgitated by right-wing fearmongers: the possibility of air travel between Venezuela and Iran.

Back in 2009, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon sounded the warningthat “we know that there are flights from Caracas via Damascus to Tehran”. Given that it is also possible to fly with minimal difficulty from Caracas to places like Tel Aviv, however, we’d be forgiven for perceiving the Caracas-Tehran one-stop as something less than a smoking gun.

Renewed onslaught

Other intriguing neo-conservative arguments have over the years included the notion that former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was peeved about the US-facilitated coup against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in part because “the Iranians had opened a ‘maintenance’ facility in Honduras for… ‘tractors’ produced in Venezuela, in reality a drug transshipment warehouse”.

Venezuela's self-proclaimed acting president, Juan Guaido, speaks to the media in Caracas on 4 February (AFP)
Venezuela’s self-proclaimed acting president, Juan Guaido, speaks to the media in Caracas on 4 February (AFP)

In the 2009 Oliver Stone documentary South of the Border, the late Chavez himself appropriately highlights the absurdity of right-wing propaganda by joking, in reference to a Venezuelan corn processing facility: “This is where we build the Iranian atomic bomb.”

Now, the current crisis in Venezuela – rendered ever more acute by US President Donald Trump’s staunch backing of Juan Guaido, who spontaneously proclaimed himself interim president of the country in January, has unleashed a renewed onslaught of Hezbollah-Iran hysteria.

The Insight Crime website, for example, suggests that Hezbollah’s “explicit support” for Nicolas Maduro – who, it bears mentioning, is in fact still the legitimate president of Venezuela – “could be the first step in confirming links between the South American nation’s government, the terrorist organisation and organised crime groups”.

US support for death squads

Among Hezbollah’s criminal allies, we are told, is Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel – i.e., the same cartel that was reportedly in cahoots, for an extended period of time, with none other than the US government.

To be sure, it goes without saying that the United States – a country that has for the duration of its contemporary existence been thoroughly implicated in global drug trafficking – is rather unqualified to deploy narcotics related accusations against Hezbollah. Even more so when the accusations don’t hold water.

US continues trafficking in deceit with Hezbollah ‘narcoterrorism’ unit

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It’s also true that, while the Trump administration busies itself portraying Maduro as a uniquely evil oppressor with uniquely evil terrorist allies, the US is the entity that, during the Cold War, contributed to the slaughter of literally hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans, from El Salvadorto Nicaragua to Argentina to Guatemala and beyond, via vicious support for right-wing dictators and death squads.

Hezbollah and Iran naturally boast no such history in the hemisphere. And yet, as with the Soviet menace of the past, they’re the ones that must be demonised at all costs for the crime of challenging US hegemony – and converted into a direct existential threat to the homeland.

Right-wing hallucination

Granted, things are getting especially scary now that, as the ultra-Zionist Clarion Project recently reiterated, “Hezbollah operates two gold mines in Venezuela to fund its terror activities”.

This particular hallucination is admittedly a bit less creative than the “Hezbollah pig farm in Liberia”, which we learned about last year from US Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counter-terrorism Nathan Sales.

Additional cause for alarm is provided by Eldad Beck, who in 2012 reported for Israel’s Ynet News about “Hezbollah’s cocaine jihad”. Calculating that Mexico was then “home to some 4,000 Muslims” out of a total population of 115 million, Beck warned that the number was “enough to cause concern in the United States – and Israel should be concerned as well”.

Hezbollah supporters hold images of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution in Beirut on 6 February (AFP)
Hezbollah supporters hold images of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution in Beirut on 6 February (AFP)

Now, Beck has resurfaced at the Israel Hayom newspaper with an exclusive story, according to which “a senior member of Venezuela’s opposition, which supports interim President Juan Guaido, told Israel Hayom… that the presence of Iran, Hezbollah and other Arab terrorist elements in the country ‘is very concerning’”.

The official is quoted as stating that “Israel can help us establish the necessary apparatuses to contend with this problem when the political change in Venezuela [is] realised”.

Surprise, surprise.

Bring on the imperialism

Over at Foreign Policy, meanwhile, Colin P Clarke argues in a slightly more pessimistic dispatch titled “Hezbollah is in Venezuela to stay”, that the “best-case scenario for Washington could be an ascendant Guaido administration that agrees to combat Hezbollah’s influence – if the new government is willing to accept a US presence in the country to begin training Venezuelan forces in the skills necessary to counter terrorism and transnational organised criminal networks with strong ties to Venezuelan society”.

In other words, bring on the imperialism.

In his interview with Fox Business on Hezbollah and Iran’s alleged machinations in Venezuela and throughout South America, Pompeo declared: “We have an obligation to take down that risk for America”.

But the real risk, of course, is that the “obligation” to respond to manufactured threats constitutes preemptive justification for yet more pernicious US activity worldwide.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Hezbollah Stronger than Ever, Warsaw Summit Doomed to Fail

Sayyed Nasrallah: Hezbollah Stronger than Ever, Warsaw Summit Doomed to Fail

Zeinab Essa

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered on Saturday a speech in which he tackled various international and internal topics.

Addressing thousands of people commemorating Leader Martyrs’ Day, Sayyed Nasrallah confirmed that the Resistance’s strength has been increasing linearly  on daily basis so that it reached its current power.

“This force did not come without facing difficulties and making sacrifices,” His Eminence stated.

On the event, His Eminence recalled that “Our leaders were strong and never shaken or weaken.”

Back to Sheikh Ragheb Harb martyrdom, he highlighted that late Sheikh Resistance Leader stood firm and refused to shake hands with the Zionists.

“Sayyed Abbas al-Moussawi talked about the coming victory despite the environment of surrender and weakness that prevailed at the time,” he said, noting that “Sayyed Abbas believed in the victory of the resistance and the end of the Zionist occupation to Lebanon and was looking forward towards Al-Quds.”

As he emphasized that the United States and “Israel” have done all what they can do all over the years to defeat the Resistance, Sayyed Nasrallah hailed the fact that the “Resistance has created equations, entered the era of victories and closed behind it the gate of defeat.”

He further denounced the “takfirist, terrorists and others who are only tools in the American scheme.”

Hailing the current Resistance strength, His Eminence revealed that “in the formation of the Resistance there are 40 axes and each axis possesses more than the resistance had on the eve of 2000 liberation.”

“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was correct in his concern that Hezbollah is now stronger than ever,” he added, pointing out that “The US thinks the source of power is in the weapons, or with money, and so the US sanctions Hezbollah to try to limit its power.”

Moreover, Hezbollah Secretary General underscored that “ the secret of our Resistance’s strength is not only in the weapon but in the strength of faith and determination.”

“The “Israeli” talk about invading Southern Lebanon has become worthless and the Zionists do not trust their army today,” he warned, assuring the Lebanese that “the enemies can’t defeat our Resistance as long as we have this determination and strength.”

Sayyed Nasrallah also said:

“We are strong but we keep our humbleness, specifically with the oppressed people who put their hopes on us, as for the thieves, we treat them differently.”

Undermining the US claims of Hezbollah’s presence in Venezuela,  he refuted all the US claims concerning “Hezbollah’s influence and cells in Venezuela.”

“We express our solidarity with Venezuela in face of the American schemes, but the American claims that there’s a Hezbollah influence are funny,” Sayyed Nasrallah clarified.

Back to the “Israelis”, His Eminence sent a sounding message:

“If the “Israelis” have enough information about us, they will become more deterrent.”

“We are strong in the face of the “Israeli” entity  and its army isn’t prepared to wage war against us,” he stressed.

In addition, the Resistance Leader unveiled that

“the “Israelis” have become afraid that Hezbollah enters the Galilee and storms their settlements.”

On the regional scene, Sayyed Nasrallah explained that

“The regional conspiracy scheme  is resembled by the American hegemony, the occupation of “Israel” and the remaining subordinate regimes.”

Citing an important observation about “Israel’s” role as tool of the US Empire, His Eminence said:

  • “Netanyahu thinks the Americans work for him but he works for them, and all the others do too.”

“America gathered in 2011 hundred forty countries to eliminate the regime in Syria but it failed,” he added, warning that “the enemies are trying to rally the world to conspire against the resistance after the failure of their wars to eliminate it.”

In parallel, he stressed that “The lack of preparedness of the “Israeli” army is one of the consequences of its loss in 2006 war on Lebanon and 2014 aggression on Gaza.”

Commenting on Warsaw summit, the Resistance Leader emphasized: “Today they are gathering the world in Warsaw to support Netanyahu, besiege Iran and target the axis of resistance, and this does not frighten us.”

However, he assured: “Today we’re in a much better situation than before. Warsaw conference is fragile and its first aim was targeting the Palestinian cause.”

“ [Abd Rbo Mansor]Hadi’s foreign minister sitting next to [Benjamin] Netanyahu confirms who is behind the battle in Yemen. The aggression on Yemen is an “Israeli”-American war carried out by Saudi Arabia, UAE and Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.”

Lamenting some Gulf monarchies surrender, His Eminence said: “Bahrain’s foreign minister sitting to Netanyahu’s right shows that the ruling regime is part of the “Israeli”-American structure.”

Revealing the goals of the recent conference, Sayyed Nasrallah went on to say: “the real goals of Warsaw Conference is to erase the Palestinian cause, moving towards normalization and gathering in face of Iran and the resistance.”

“Iran today is stronger than being targeted by any  war,” His Eminence said, noting that “Iran’s response to threats and sanctions was the participation of tens of millions in the 40th anniversary of the Revolution’s  victory .”

He also expressed that the “main concern is over the Palestinian cause and hence the our Islamic people must be aware in the battle against normalization.”

In response, Sayyed Nasrallah uged: “All Arab peoples must return and stand against normalization as the Palestinian people refuse to surrender and normalize.”

On the Syrian front, he announced that “Daesh’s presence in Syria is about to end.”

“Hezbollah was part of the major battle to eliminate Daesh till the Boukmal. The largest area in Syria was liberated by the Syrian army and the allies, including Hezbollah,” His Eminence reiterated, noting that “Who will come out and announce the end of the battle with Desh is the greatest hypocrite in the world Donald Trump.”

According to Hezbollah Secretary General, “ In Lebanon, America was preventing a confrontational with Daesh, and in Iraq, it was America who made Daesh via Trump’s statements.”

Sayyed Nasrallah underscored that “All the evidences confirm that the Americans were a factor in delaying the end of the battle with the Daash and they wanted it to last for many years.”

“This is while Americans created al-Qaeda [terror network] themselves and then claimed to have eliminated it. They emboldened [former Iraqi dictator] Saddam Hussein and supplied him with various weapons of mass destruction, and one day got rid of him over allegations that he had developed such munitions,” he highlighted.

On the internal front, Sayyed Nasrallah said that “Iran had frequently expressed eagerness to assist Lebanon, arguing the Beirut government had turned down such offers due to opposition from the US and Saudi Arabia.”

“The lingering power outage in Lebanon is the result of political bickering. Iran could have resolved the matter with its expertise. It is unwise of the Beirut government to think that Iran wants to wrest control over Lebanon,” he stated, calling the “Lebanese government must not let corruption flourish, and must root out the menace. It must act lawfully and courageously, and spend public funds for civil services.”

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