Lebanon’s President: Justice will be served, economic siege now lifted

Via The Saker

Lebanon’s President: Justice will be served, economic siege now lifted

August 11, 2020

Original link: http://middleeastobserver.net/lebanons-president-justice-will-be-served-economic-siege-now-lifted/

Description:

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun fielded various questions from local media surrounding the fallout from the national disaster at the Port of Beirut on August the 4th.

Source: Al Jadeed News (YouTube)

Date: August 7, 2020

(Important Note: Please help us keep producing independent translations for you by contributing as little as $1/month here)

Transcript:

Lebanese President Michel Aoun:

Lebanese people are angry and I am angry too, and they have the right to be angry. But as you know, excessive anger causes people to boil with rage (and act incorrectly). So our responsibility today is to reveal the truth, because public opinion is slowly changing its direction, it is moving towards deflecting blame onto innocents and not the perpetrators. Nothing but the (ongoing) investigation can reveal what happened, and we are working on it, first by assigning the officials (responsible for the investigation), and then by following the required actions after this investigation.

I want to reaffirm today that we understand the heartache of the Lebanese people (who lost their dear ones), (hearts) that will not be healed unless they take revenge from the perpetrator. And punishing those responsible (for the explosion) is the only (possible) path that we can tread in order to heal the heartache.

In addition, we will seek to compensate them for their material losses. But this is not the real condolence. Rather, the real condolence is expressed by achieving justice. You know me or your parents do, I am Michel Aoun! You know me in war and in peace, no one can drive me towards (committing) a mistake and no one can prevent me from revealing the truth. I wanted to talk today so that all citizens hear me, and ultimately, I belong to these citizens, I did not come from the palaces but rather from the homes of these people. I know every house, I know all families from north to south and from east to west, and they feel my love and affection.

They knew me in war and in peace, they witnessed how I don’t draw back from any responsibility and I never hesitate to defend my country. In this sense, what is the homeland? The homeland is people. Today, I condole all (Lebanese) people with all my heart through these words, and my second condolence is expressed by realising justice, (a type of justice) in which no (guilty individual) will be excluded. This time is not like usual where the weak are the scapegoats of powerful officials. Here I recall the quote of Honore de Balzac, a famous French writer, “Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.” In this case, there will be neither weak nor powerful, the courts’ doors will be wide-open for the perpetrators (regardless who they are).

Reporter:

Your Excellency, in my name and on behalf of my (press) colleagues we extend our sincere condolences to you as President of all the Lebanese people. My question is: In the Council of Ministers you determined the structure of the investigation committee – have you received any information yet about this investigation? I mean the causes of the blast? And how do you take some people’s demand for an international investigation? Don’t you think that the purpose behind demanding an international investigation is hiding the truth?

President Aoun:

Yes of course, and we have a historical example in the form of a similar incident which indicates to us that “The late decision is useless”, because the judgment should occur fast. Here we refer to what they say, “Late justice is (in fact) not justice (at all)”, justice should be immediate yet without hastiness, such that the criminal is determined as well as the innocent.

In this case, we can say that there are two possibilities divided into three parts: The first part is how these explosive materials entered (our country) and were stored in the Port (of Beirut), and here the responsibility rests with the officials who were aware of the storage of these materials for 7 years. During this period, a number of governments and officials came to power, some of which wrote to the relevant (Lebanese) authorities in the port warning them about (the danger of) this issue. No doubt that there was a lack of awareness and negligence in doing what is required so that we don’t reach what has occurred today. It is possible that (the explosion) was caused by negligence or by external action, whether via a missile or a bomb. Personally, I requested the French President to provide us with aerial photographs (of the explosion) in order to determine if (the explosion) was caused by a bomb. In case they don’t have these photographs, we will request them from other countries.

Reporter:

Mr. President, you said that courts will be opened for (both) weak and powerful (Lebanese officials), you also said that there were (Lebanese) officials who have written letters about the danger of these (high) explosive materials in at the port, and yesterday we heard about arrests starting from the head of the port’s temporary committee and other employees. Today, Lebanese people are awaiting at least for the arrest of a former minister or a current minister or an official, yet till now we didn’t see any of this. The story begins in 2013 and stretches up until today, and thus there are many concerned ministers (in this file).

President Aoun:

Do you know how many problems have been accumulating from 2013 until today ?! Many (officials) came (to power) successively, and things need time. We can’t (just) randomly send any minister or citizen to jail. We have to be rational and to listen to the statements of all those tied (to this matter), in order (for us) to make the right decision.

Reporter:

Your excellency, if the (investigations) lead to the finding that (a) prime minister (holds) some responsibility (for the disaster), will that prime minister be prosecuted, in addition to all (officials) below the prime minister’s post (that are found to be in the wrong)? And will the (political) cover that is rooted in (each official’s) religious sect play a role this time as it usually does? And why are (political) investments being made directly accusing Hezbollah of being the responsible for the (Beirut) explosion by claiming that (Hezbollah) was hiding stuff there in the port. This (narrative) has caused much confusion. So, can we say now that the true story is the one that you have just told, Mr. President?

President Aoun:

The investigation has not revealed anything yet. The port officials and those who are responsible for the port storages are now under investigation. Those responsible for the explosion are being identified according to a report prepared by the (Lebanese) State Security.

Reporter:

Mr. President, yesterday Mr. Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, was in Beirut. How was the atmosphere of the discussions? Did he discuss with you the issue of an international investigation into (the port) explosion because yesterday at the press conference he spoke about this issue when he was asked about it?

President Aoun:

(I think) it is just a piece of advice. The issue of an international investigation was not raised.

Reporter:

Well, how was the atmosphere of the discussions? Did you discuss France’s aid to Lebanon and was the CEDRE conference suggested (as a solution)?

President Aoun:

Definitely we spoke about aid but we didn’t specify what that will be. Today, we are before several types of aid:

1) food and medical aid;

2) reconstruction assistance.

(So far) we have resolved the first problem (concerning the food and medicine); we still have the issue of reconstruction which we are now in the process of planning how we will implement that.

Reporter:

Mr. President, yesterday the French President suggested a new issue which is forming a new pact with Lebanon. What is meant by a ‘new pact’? How did you receive this idea? Are we before the establishment of a new political regime? Are we before a new international understanding (regarding Lebanon as a polity)? Can you please clarify the French view in this regard?

President Aoun:

We are certainly before changes, and when we say changes we mean a new regime. So, yes, we have to reconsider our political system. It became clear to all that the consensual system (in Lebanon) is a paralysed system in which no one can pass any resolution and achieve it quickly. Any decision must be consensual and must be first approved by multiple authorities. Ten (people) cannot reach an agreement and that’s why rarely do we see reforms (being passed).

Reporter:

So, are we going towards internationalising the Lebanese conflict?

President Aoun:

No, no. if we are not able to govern ourselves, no one can govern us. Second, no one has the right to violate Lebanese sovereignty during my term as president.

Reporter:

Mr. President, some information or rather news stated that, your excellency was aware (that) the explosive materials were (stored there at) the port. So we would like to know about this issue from you. Also, you spoke about accountability, will the government pledge to proceed with the accountability process till the end and not spare any (corrupt official or individual)?

President Aoun:

Yes, we were informed around July 20. (A) military specialist directly called the Secretary General of (Lebanon’s) Higher Defence Council, discussed the issue together and called upon all those concerned. As I said, nothing can console and compensate people for their loss. What happened, those who have lost dear ones cannot be consoled. What may console people a little bit is the investigation and justice. In addition, there will be no political cover for anyone.

Reporter:

Mr. President, it is clear since a year ago that Lebanon has been facing an international siege or has been abandoned, whether by its regional or international surroundings. We have noticed in the previous two days after the (port) explosion that there is solidarity concerning essential foodstuffs, reconstruction and such matters. Yet it is clear that even during such a crisis and dire situation, (Lebanon) is still abandoned. Are there any endeavours being made to overcome these obstacles that have been placed, particularly by the Americans?

President Aoun:

The explosion broke the siege. Approximately all heads of states, i.e. the US, Arab and European states, communicated with me and declared their support for the Lebanese people and their readiness for financial and material aid. Indeed, all these states have started sending planes loaded with medical aid that we were really in need of. (Lebanese) hospitals have consumed all the available medicine they have. The number of people wounded and injured is nearly 4000, thus we are in need of all the materials used in surgery since they are almost finished. All the states responded to our calls rapidly, and you can notice the number of planes loaded with medicines and medical materials that are arriving.

Reporter:

Mr. President, you said that you received on July 20 a report from the relevant authorities and that both your Excellency and the Higher Defence Council have sent that report to the relevant (state) bodies. Your honour, as the President of this country and as the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, why didn’t you issue a direct order to remove these explosive materials especially since the report indicates how dangerous they are in such a populated area.

President Aoun:

These explosive materials were stored in the port from 7 years ago, from 2013. I am not responsible, nor do I even know where they are stored, nor how dangerous they are. I have no direct authority over the port, there is a hierarchy (with oversight over the port) that must know (and act) upon its responsibilities. All were aware of the presence (of these materials). Is not reporting the same as ordering? When you report something that says necessary actions must be taken, is it not the same as issuing an order?

Reporter:

Should not there be a complete revision of the entire port, since it seems like the (Port of Beirut) is like the Cave of Aladdin, no one knows what is stored inside it, nor what is going into it or out of it, nor does anyone have authority over it. Should not the port be (completely) overhauled?

President Aoun:

(Is an overhaul) required just for the port?!

Reporter:

At least the port, since it is the reason behind the disaster we are facing today, and the vagueness surrounding the port (and how it functions) has been an issue for a long time…

President Aoun:

It is the case at the Port (of Beirut), the Central Bank (of Lebanon) and all places of authority (and government institutions). Is there anything that does not require (urgent) change and reform (in Lebanon)? Why (else) are we talking about reforming (and establishing) a new political system as you said earlier? Do you have any idea about the (magnitude) of the cumulative and accumulated problems that we are suffering from since the 1990s?

Reporter:

General, you spoke about the public anger and you said that they are totally right. However, some political parties are investing in the public anger. You said that these explosive materials have been stored (in the port) since more than 7 years, but some are trying to place the responsibility of what is happening now on the current government. Moreover, some are trying to impose a blockade on a certain political party. What do you say about that?

President Aoun:

That is happening of course, and some have surpassed the normal limits. The person can make accusations (perhaps), but it is not his responsibility to decide to take revenge (himself). They are truly taking revenge, but not revenge from the perpetrators but rather political revenge. The way the (current) investigations around financial (corruption in the country) are taking place creates indignation and anger at us (the current presidential administration). This indignation arises against us because we are taking significant measures of reform that could affect certain people whom the (angry people) know very well. All (Lebanese) people know them well but no one mentions their names.

Reporter:

Mr. President, will what happened on August the 4th (i.e. the Port Disaster) be able to reunite the divided (Lebanese) political class, some of which is corrupt, and some of which is responsible for what happened today? But is it even possible for the (Lebanese people) to have the necessary awareness (and wisdom) after this disaster that befell Lebanon?

President Aoun:

No, they (certain politicians) sleep and wake up to the dream of gaining power through all possible means. Always people stand side by side as they face family, neighbourhood and national tragedies, even if there is enmity between them, real enmity, they overcome this enmity and keep it aside and go forward to carry out their duties. I didn’t hear yet that any of the (Lebanese politicians)…[inaudible]

Reporter:

Mr. President, you have mentioned that the international blockade is over following the August 4th (disaster). But on the 4th of August we were before a real catastrophe in terms of the loss of life and an economic catastrophe as well. Today Lebanon (continues) to suffer from this matter, can we say that international aid will be offered to Lebanon within this context?

President Aoun:

Yes, Lebanon will be offered significant international aid. We are setting up a plan aimed at rebuilding Beirut such that it will become more beautiful than what it was.

Reporter:

This talk confirms the holding of an international conference for the reconstruction of Lebanon ….

President Aoun:

Not just reconstructing – there are states ready to immediately launch the reconstruction (on their own). Though our idea is the most suitable, whereby it seeks to give every state a specific part (of the damaged area) to reconstruct it. This way the reconstruction will be accomplished faster and easier.

Reporter:

Will the investigation into this (disaster), Mr. President – you upon whom the Lebanese people rely and who believe your presidential term is one dedicated to reforms – allow us to break through the sectarian barriers and enable all related files to be opened transparently?

President Aoun:

Without investigation justice won’t be achieved. No one will admit his guilt without accountability. When held accountable, he will confess to it. And here our own problem lies. We cannot forgo (the principles of) justice and democracy. Instead of helping us (to unveil the truth) they (certain people) insult us on social media and they call it “free speech”. Even though there are laws that outlaw insults. It is only in Lebanon where you find that “insult” equals “free speech”.

أهداف توقيت العودة إلى التصعيد في الشارع

حسن حردان

طرح توقيت العودة إلى التصعيد في الشارع السؤال عن أهدافه الحقيقية، لا سيما أنّ التحرك استبق نتائج التحقيق الجاري في أسباب الانفجار في المرفأ، ولم يتمّ تحت عنوان المطالبة بعدم التستر على المسؤولين والمتورّطين فيما حصل من فاجعة، بل شهدنا محاولة مكشوفة ممن استغلّ معاناة الناس لأجل التعمية على الأسباب الحقيقية التي أدّت إلى تفجير مستودع الأمونيوم التي تتحمّل قوى ١٤ آذار جزءاً كبيراً من المسؤولية فيه، حيث كانت هذه القوى في سدة السلطة وتتحكم بمفاصلها بين أعوام 2٠١٣ و٢٠١٩.. وازدادت إلحاحية هذا السؤال، انّ هذا التحرك اتخذ طابعاً سياسياً واضحاً، ظهر من خلال تركيز من استغلوا معاناة المواطنين، هجومهم على العهد والحكومة وحزب الله، وتحميلهم مسؤولية الكارثة في ظلّ خطاب تحريضي تقوم به بعض المحطات التلفزيونية المعروفة بارتباطاتها بحزب القوات اللبنانية والسعودية لإثارة الفتنة.. وهو ما أفرح كيان العدو واللوبي الصهيوني في الولايات المتحدة…

يمكن القول إنّ هناك جملة من الأهداف غير المعلنة يُراد تحقيقها من وراء هذا التصعيد المفاجئ في الشارع ومحاولة إعطائه زخماً عبر اقتحام بعض الوزارات والعبث بمحتوياتها وحرق صور الرئيس ميشال عون..

أولا، الضغط لإسقاط الحكومة واستقالة النواب في سياق السعي الى إجراء انتخابات نيابية مبكرة رهاناً على أن تقود الى إحداث تغيير في المعادلة السياسية واستعادة قوى 14 آذار الأغلبية النيابية والعودة الى السيطرة على مقاليد السلطة… وفي هذا السياق تندرج استقالات بعض النواب والوزراء بهدف هز الحكومة لدفعها الى الاستقالة وكذلك دفع أكبر عدد من النواب الى تقديم استقالاتهم…

ثانياً، قطع الطريق على النتائج الإيجابية الناتجة عن الانفتاح الدولي على لبنان، واستمرار المساعدات التي ترافقت مع حركة دبلوماسية كثيفة تجاه بيروت، وعقد مؤتمر دولي خصص لجمع المساعدات المالية لإعادة إعمار ما دمّره الانفجار في بيروت والمرفأ، وسط دعوة الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون المشاركين للتعجيل بدعم لبنان قبل أن تعمّ الفوضى فيه، مما يشكل متنفساً للبنان، وتخفيفاً للحصار الأميركي المفروض عليه منذ أشهر، وبالتالي تعزيز موقف العهد والحكومة الحالية، وسقوط رهانات قوى ١٤ آذار ومجموعات الـ NGO على عرقلة جهود الحكومة لمعالجة الأزمة وصولاً إلى إسقاطها.. لقد كان واضحاً أنّ أكثر ما أقلق قوى ١٤ آذار إنما هو الانفتاح الفرنسي الأميركي على العهد والحكومة والذي ترجمه اتصال الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب بالرئيس ميشال عون وإعلانه المشاركة في المؤتمر الدولي لدعم لبنان، وزيارات المسؤولين العرب والإقليميين والأجانب.. ونتائج زيارة الرئيس الفرنسي ايمانويل ماكرون ولقائه برئيس كتلة الوفاء للمقاومة النائب محمد رعد على هامش الاجتماع الذي جمعه مع رؤساء الكتل النيابية اللبنانية، ومن ثم ردّه على أسئلة الصحافيين بقوله.. إنّ حزب الله يمثل شريحة واسعة من اللبنانيين ولديه كتلة نيابية وازنة…

ثانياً، قطع الطريق على التحقيق الذي تجريه الدولة في انفجار مستودع نيترات الامونيوم والذي أظهر سرعة وجدية من خلال توقيف القضاء للمسؤولين عن الجمارك وإدارة المرفأ، والذي يأتي في ظلّ عزم وإصرار من قبل الرئيس عون ورئيس الحكومة بأن يصل التحقيق إلى تحديد المسؤولين والمتورطين الفعليين ومحاسبتهم، على الاهمال والتقصير او التعمّد في إبقاء شحنة الامونيوم كلغم خطر في مرفأ بيروت، والذي انفجر وأدّى إلى كارثة وفاجعة أصابت بيروت وكلّ لبنان.. ومعروف أنّ معظم المتورطين هم تحديداً من قوى ١٤ آذار لأنّ نيترات الامونيوم تمّت مصادرتها من الباخرة الآتية من جورجيا عام ٢٠١٣ وجرى وضعها في مخزن في المرفأ ولم يتمّ التخلص منها رغم خطورتها، لا بل تمّ تجاهل كل التحذيرات من خطورة بقائها، والتي أكدتها المراسلات بين الجهات المعنية في القضاء والسلطة التنفيذية وإدارتي الجمارك والمرفأ.

ثالثاً، محاولة التأثير على التوجّه الأمريكي الفرنسي، بعد مدّ العون والمساعدات للبنان، والتي تهدف الى قطع الطريق على تفرّد الصين وروسيا وإيران والعراق بتقديم الدعم والدخول على خط إعادة بناء ما دمّره الانفجار.. وبالتالي الحيلولة دون اتجاه لبنان صوب الشرق، والحفاظ على النفوذ الأميركي الغربي والعمل على تعزيزه، ولذلك بدأ فريق ١٤ يشعر بقلق من أنه لم يكن بالإمكان حصول هذا التدفق الكبير في المساعدات العربية والدولية إلى لبنان، وتوجّه المسؤولين العرب والأجانب إلى بيروت، واعلان الاستعداد لمدّ لبنان بالمساعدات، لولا وجود ضوء أخضر أميركي أوعز بذلك وترجمه اتصال ترامب بالرئيس عون… الأمر الذي يظهر أنّ فريق ١٤ اذار غير مدرك لأبعاد الموقف الأميركي الفرنسي وخلفيات الانفتاح على العهد والحكومة وهو قطع الطريق على اضطرار لبنان الى التوجّه شرقاً إذا امتنعت الدول الغربية عن تقديم المساعدة له…

إذا توقيت التحرك في الشارع والتصعيد واستغلال معاناة الناس، يأتي في سياق حملة إعلامية سياسية بدأت من اللحظات الأولى للانفجار، بهدف التصويب على الحكومة والعهد والطعن بشرعيتهما، والعمل على محاولة تدويل التحقيق في الانفجار، ووقف التحقيق الوطني، وصولاً الى محاولة فرض استقالة الحكومة وإجراء انتخابات نيابية مبكرة، وإعادة خلط الأوراق والتأثير على المواقف الدولية لا سيما الموقف الاميركي الفرنسي.. والحيلولة دون تقديم المساعدات المالية إلى الحكومة اللبنانية.. وهو ما حصل بتأكيد مؤتمر المانحين على تقديم الدعم بإشراف الأمم المتحدة…

لقد طرح اتصال ترامب وزيارة ماكرون وتواتر زيارات مسؤولين عرب وأجانب إلى بيروت، السؤال بشأن ما اذا كان هناك تبدّل في الموقف الأميركي الغربي يقضي برفع الحصار عن لبنان، أم أنّ الأمر مجرد خطوة تكتيكية لإظهار التعاطف والتضامن مع لبنان لتعزيز النفوذ الأمريكي الفرنسي، وخلق مناخ يمنع دخول روسيا والصين على خط إعادة بناء وإعمار ما أسفر عنه الانفجار من كارثة في المرفأ وجزء كبير من مدينة بيروت.. هذا السؤال سيبقى مطروحاً إلى أن تتضح الأمور في الأيام المقبلة لمعرفة ما إذا كان هناك استدارة أميركية فرنسية وجدت في الكارثة فرصة لفك الحصار.. لقطع الطريق على إمكانية توجّه لبنان صوب الشرق لمساعدته على مواجهة الكارثة التي تجعله بأمسّ الحاجة إلى المساعدات العاجلة للخروج منها، لا سيما أن الكارثة جاءت لتفاقم من حدة الأزمة المالية والاقتصادية والاجتماعية التي يعاني منها لبنان منذ أشهر.. لكن بيان المؤتمر الدولي لدعم لبنان أظهر ان الموقف الأميركي الفرنسي فصل بين الدعم لإعادة إعمار ما دمّره الانفجار، وبين الموقف الذي يشترط موافقة لبنان على شروط صندوق النقد الدولي لتقديم القروض له…

في كلا الأحوال فإنّ الأزمة في لبنان دخلت مرحلة جديدة، من جهة تتوافر لدى الحكومة والعهد فرصة لإخراج البلاد من الكارثة التي أصابتها، يوفرها لها الدعم الكبير، الدولي والعربي، الذي بدأ منذ اليوم الأول لحصول الانفجار الذي زلزل بيروت وضواحيها.. ومن جهة ثانية نحن أمام إمكانية تضييع هذه الفرصة إذا ما استقالة الحكومة، ودخلت البلاد في مرحلة مديدة من تصريف الأعمال، لأنه ليس من السهولة الاتفاق على قانون جديد لإجراء انتخابات مبكرة، ولا الاتفاق على تشكيل حكومة وحدة وطنية، أو حكومة لا تحظى بتأييد الأغلبية النيابية.. وحتى لو افترضنا أنه اتفق على إجراء انتخابات نيابية جديدة مبكرة، فإنّ كلّ التقديرات تشير إلى أن نتائجها لن تغيّر كثيراً في المشهد السياسي… وبالتالي نكون أضعنا وقتاً ثميناً يحتاج اليه لبنان لإيجاد الحلول لأزماته وتجنب المزيد من تفاقمها..

Nasrallah denies any Hezbollah activities at the port, calls to end incitment and impunity (full speech)


Date: 8 August 2020

Author: lecridespeuples

Source: https://video.moqawama.org/details.php?cid=1&linkid=2148

Translation: resistancenews.org

Key points:

  • The tragic context requires a sacred union, in order to overcome the humanitarian crisis, and not to settle political accounts; Hezbollah has mobilized all its resources to help the victims
  • All the accusations claiming Hezbollah is somewhat responsible are outrageous, because Hezbollah has never had any activity, no warehouse and no role or control over what goes on in the port; this slanders constitutes an incitement to civil war
  • At this stage of the investigation, no hypothesis can be ruled out as to the intentional or accidental nature of the explosion, but criminal negligence seems to be proven in all cases.
  • An impartial investigation must identify and severely punish all the culprits, and break with the traditional sectarianism of the judicial system which judges people according to their political and religious affiliation; without a fair & transparent trial and full accountability, Lebanon will always be a failed State
  • The Lebanese army is the body most able to carry out this investigation, and all the calls to form an international commission of inquiry are only delaying tactics aimed at perpetuating the establishment and impunity.
  • Lebanon must use the current opportunities to overcome the US embargo and revive its economy
  • All those who hope to weaken Hezbollah through this crisis demonstrate their moral bankruptcy and lack of lucidity

Transcription:

Prior to this terrible event, I had announced a speech for Wednesday (August 5), and I intended to speak about several issues which were the hottest news at the time, namely:

– the situation on the border between Lebanon and occupied Palestine, and the ongoing clash between Hezbollah and the Israeli enemy;

– the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (and the expected verdict) on August 7 (concerning the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005);

– the coronavirus, its development and the recent increase of cases in Lebanon;

– the oil shortages and the gasoline crisis in the country;

– other questions related to the regional situation.

But when the catastrophic event happened on Tuesday (August 4), I decided to postpone my speech, and today I am not going to bring up any of these topics, but only talk about one point, namely the cataclysmic event that occurred (in the port of Beirut) and the humanitarian crisis that engulfed Lebanon and the Lebanese people in recent days.

[A major and unprecedented cataclysm]

Regarding the event itself, first of all, we are faced with a colossal incident, a great tragedy, be it from a humanitarian or national perspective, or by any (other) criteria. There are more than 150 martyrs, the vast majority being Lebanese. Notably, there are a large number of Syrian martyrs, and martyrs of various nationalities. There are thousands of injured. The latest figures speak of nearly 80 missing people. As a precaution, let’s talk about dozens of missing people. There are tens of thousands of families who had to leave their homes damaged (and rendered uninhabitable) by the explosion. Thousands and even tens of thousands of people have lost their property, their source of livelihood, their business. (Not to mention) the state of fear and even terror that has indeed struck the hearts of millions of people, and not hundreds of thousands of people, for the inhabitants of Beirut and its suburbs make up almost half of the population of Lebanon, if not more [Lebanon’s population is almost 7 million]. The buildings were shaken to the point that people believed there was a huge earthquake, and each neighborhood felt like the explosion was happening in its own neighborhood. What people have experienced in terms of fear and worry, be it men, women or children (is indescribable).

Of course, the consequences of all of this are huge and very dangerous, as are the (apocalypse) scenes we have all seen. We are facing an event which has considerable consequences on the humanitarian, economic, health and social levels. Concretely, the port of Beirut was almost completely destroyed, which implies a necessary reconstruction of the port, with economic repercussions which are added to the serious financial and social crisis which the country was already going through. In short, at all levels, we are facing a major cataclysm.

I extend my sincere condolences to all the families of martyrs… One thing should be stressed: you know that Lebanon, in general, is divided along sectarian and regional lines, and that a region can be affected (by a problem) without affecting another. But this explosion has crossed sectarian and regional lines: there are martyrs and wounded from all sects, and all the neighborhoods & regions (of the capital) have been affected. Beirut is the city of all Lebanese, and embraces all Lebanese. The inhabitants of Beirut are a microcosm of all Lebanese people, in their different regional, religious and sectarian affiliations. This tragedy made no distinction.

I therefore extend my sincere condolences to all the families of martyrs, and I ask God the Most High and the Exalted to inspire them with patience and endurance in the face of the loss of their loved ones, and I also ask Him to grant a speedy recovery to all the injured and to all those who have been affected (in one way or another). I ask God the Most High and the Exalted to inspire them all with the patience and the ability to bear and endure (this tragedy), and to grant the determination (required) to overcome this terrible ordeal to all those who have been affected, whether in their relatives, homes, livelihoods or property, or who have been displaced from their homes. I ask Him to give them the patience, endurance and mutual assistance (required) to overcome this tragedy. Of course, this requires the Grace of God the Most High and the Exalted, and the cooperation, effort and sacrifice of all.

By this brief description, I wanted to indicate that we are facing an exceptional event, at least in the modern history of Lebanon, which requires exceptional behavior at all levels, whether at the psychological level, at the level of action on the ground, at the media, political and judicial levels: all measures must be strong and exceptional because of the major and unprecedented nature of this event.

Of course, man is unable to express (as it should) his feelings in front of our people, our beloved ones in Beirut and its suburbs, in all the districts of Beirut and its suburbs, and put into words the suffering, sadness, sorrow (that we feel), as well as our solidarity and our presence by their side, and our (sense of) common responsibility.

Likewise, in the face of this event and its consequences, and I will now turn to the other points, we were able to see several things in Lebanon. I want to talk about each scene, comment on it and take a stance.

[The sacred union of the Lebanese people and their institutions]

First, the popular scene alongside the State. Since the first hours, very naturally, the departments concerned, the security, military and health authorities, civil defense, emergency services, firefighters, all have been on the ground, but what is remarkable is the popular atmosphere, the ardor of the people in all regions, this rapid presence of many civil and popular groups and associations, whether they are firefighters, ambulance workers, rescue organizations, volunteers, in order to help the State authorities, because this situation exceeded the capacities of the State, whether it be hospitals, doctors, nurses, blood donations… It is perhaps the first time that Hezbollah officially appealed for blood donation, and thank goodness all the required blood was obtained, even though the number of injured was huge from the start.

This atmosphere of compassion & popular responsiveness has also continued in the clearing of debris, the cleaning of streets, houses and squares, and we still see a massive presence of volunteers in these squares. A (large) number of municipalities and communities, religious associations and political forces, families and houses have announced their willingness to guarantee housing for those who have lost their homes, whether it is temporary damage or total destruction. Despite all the financial and social crises that the country is going through, we have seen such a level of compassion and solidarity. Of course, we also have to consider the psychological and emotional side that has reached a high level of excellence, namely this (massive) ardor, this sadness, this compassion. At the popular level, we do not see abuse or indifference, everyone feels concerned, everyone is affected. These are the emotions of the inhabitants. We must give this scene (of popular solidarity) a very high grade, at the level of civilization, humanity, ethics, nation, emotions. It is evidence of the conscience, life, soul, culture, ethics and humanitarian and national feeling of our people in all regions, in all sects and in all places.

[Total mobilization of Hezbollah to rescue and relocate the victims]

Of course, as far as Hezbollah is concerned in this regard, from the first moments, the presence of our bodies, our associations, our members and our popular base, the municipalities and communities in which we are represented or present, I considers that they did not spare any effort, and that they were present (massively). And today, I confirm once again that Hezbollah, at the level of all its bodies, associations and staff, and of all our human and material resources, we are entirely at the service of the Lebanese State and the Lebanese government, and of the relevant ministries, and we are available to all our people and all our fellow citizens who have been affected by this tragedy.

Of course, I want to stress our relocation project for disaster victims, because we have had a lot of experience in this regard since the 2006 war, and I hope people will take it with due seriousness. And I confirm once again what the president of the community of municipalities of the southern suburbs of Beirut and various municipalities in Lebanon announced: any family who has lost their home, and who need time to clear or repair this home, and needs a temporary accommodation in the meantime, we are open, happy and ready to help these families through this project, with the Grace of God. It is not acceptable for a single family to remain on the streets, nor for them to feel like a burden on their relatives or friends who host them because they have requested them. Temporary housing can be provided until further notice, in order to give them time to return home as soon as possible, when their homes have been repaired and cleared.

[Exceptional international solidarity despite US sanctions]

The second scene was abroad, namely the positions of many States and governments in the world, of the great religious authorities in the world, Muslims and Christians, Sunnis and Shiites, political forces, Resistance movements, leaders, scholars, elites, media, parties, etc. Lebanon and the Lebanese people have been the object of great compassion internationally, and many countries have announced their readiness to provide assistance, while we are under siege: the United States has clearly announced that they were not going to besiege a group or a party, as some try to claim, but all of Lebanon. If only they were content to besiege only one party or group! This is what we have been asking for from the start! You have a problem with us (Hezbollah), so besiege us, and only us, without chastising and making a whole country and a people pay the price!

Anyway, we thank all the countries that sent us aid, all the friends and brothers, Arab, Islamic and other countries, the whole international community. Some have announced that they will help us, and we hope they will keep their word (without fear of US sanctions). Likewise, delegations & ministers from various countries came, and the most visible was the visit of the French President to Lebanon. We positively view any help and compassion with Lebanon, and any visit to Lebanon in these days, especially if it is part of aid to Lebanon, or a call for cooperation and dialogue between Lebanese. We look at this kind of visit (in a positive way). We want to focus on the positive side. Perhaps some call for vigilance and concern (over the hidden motives of these visits), and express fears (of interference which may be legitimate), but at the present stage we prefer to consider this kind of visit in its positive aspect and focus on the positive side, (at least) for the time being. [Note: the section of the speech concerning France was read verbatim by Nasrallah on a statement prepared in advance, while for the rest of his speech he spoke spontaneously and had only prepared notes; this reflects Hezbollah’s mistrust and lucidity in the face of Macron’s initiative and outrageous statements of interference, which he prefers not to comment on for the time being in order to remain in a perspective of sacred union; it should be noted that the main politicians behind the explosion appear to be France’s closest friends, namely the Hariri clique.]

Therefore, this external and international scene was on the whole positive, and was full of compassion, and I consider that this opens an opportunity for Lebanon, as a State and as a people —I will come back to this in conclusion— to get help, and open a way out in the face of the state of siege and the difficulties that Lebanon was going through recently.

[The moral bankruptcy of Hezbollah’s opponents]

The first and second scenes are therefore positive, but the third scene (which I want to evoke) is the internal Lebanese political scene, and certain external elements. In general, it is said that dignified peoples, who have a certain level of culture and ethics, a certain sense of responsibility and humanity, a sense of national interest, even when there are struggles and disputes among themselves, when a great national tragedy occurs, or a terrible event occurs, everyone temporarily freezes their struggles and disputes, as well as their personal calculations, to rise above all these (partisan) considerations, and to behave on a nobler ethical and human basis, and everyone helps each other to overcome this tragedy or this catastrophe. Once the crisis is over, things can resume their usual course. Things are like this (in general) all over the world.

Sometimes we have even seen that in the midst of war, when a tragic event such as a massacre occurs, the enemies conclude a truce, a ceasefire, even in the midst of war! It does happen and it is well known (even against Israel), but I will not waste time citing examples. But outside of war, within the same country, where there is a government, an opposition, rival political forces, when a catastrophe affects everyone, all regions, all families. What happened was not a tragedy that only targeted certain categories of the population, no. In general, in such situations (of national disaster), differences are temporarily put aside, and everyone helps and cooperates (even with their political opponents), and adopts more dignified language, with different sentiments, and different statements and political speeches. Likewise, the media behave differently, with humanity and ethics, each granting a respite (to their adversaries), if only for a few days, at least a few days (of truce)! I’m not talking about months or years, no, a few days, (one or) two weeks! To give people time to recover the remains of their martyrs, to heal their wounds, to visit the wounded, to assert the fate of the missing people, to put out the fires, to clear the debris, to find a way to relocate the displaced, etc. After that, we can reopen the accounts (and rekindle the rivalries), no problem.

[A cabal of calumnies]

But unfortunately what happened in Lebanon with this incident is that from the first hours of this tragedy and this cataclysm, and even from the first hour, not the first hours, when no one yet knew what was going on or had happened… In the first moments, people spoke of an earthquake, and it was only later that it was established that it was an explosion . (We still had to determine) what type of explosion it was, where in the port it had taken place, what had exploded, what was in the hangar that exploded, how did the explosion happen, was it an accident or an intentional act, etc. Even before anyone knew the answer to these questions, the Lebanese and Arab media, and certain political forces expressed through their official social networks, and even through some public statements by officials… These are not from obscure people running (Twitter or Facebook) accounts, but statements on television and in the media, made as soon as the explosion was known to the public, and while the fires in the port were not yet extinguished, and the destruction and amazement was the lot of all the Lebanese and the whole world. But these people spoke out in the media and announced their position before they knew anything. Their position was decided in advance: the cause of the explosion in hangar number so-and-so at the port of Beirut was a Hezbollah missile warehouse that exploded and caused this unprecedented terror and cataclysm. Or, they said it was stockpiles of Hezbollah ammunition, explosives, or weapons. The bottom line is that it must have belonged to Hezbollah, whether it was missiles, ammunition, explosives … And then, even when the official authorities announced that it was not missiles, weapons, ammunition, explosives or anything like that, but (ammonium) nitrate used as a fertilizer or an explosive, these people said that this nitrate belonged to Hezbollah, that it was the Hezbollah that brought it, that it was Hezbollah that stored it for 6 years, and again Hezbollah, Hezbollah, Hezbollah.

Without even knowing whether this explosion was criminal or accidental, whether it was an accident due to fire or otherwise, or whether it was an attack, or, as some have claimed, an air attack, missile or whatever, none of that interested these people at all. Accident or crime, missile, drone, fire, etc., they didn’t care. The important thing was to affirm that this hangar belonged to Hezbollah. Why? So that they could tell the Lebanese people, the inhabitants of Beirut, the inhabitants of the suburbs of Beirut, to all the Lebanese, that the one who had destroyed their houses, killed their children and their relatives, destroyed their port, their livelihood and their property, had injured thousands of you and terrorized you, it was Hezbollah, Hezbollah was responsible for everything.

Of course, this is a huge injustice done to us, a crime, and I don’t know if this can be seen as falling within the scope of free speech, freedom of the press (or rather defamation and incitement to hatred and violence). These questions need to be debated. At the moment… Let me talk a little about our feelings. We are among the killed and injured. Among the martyrs and the wounded, there are our relatives, our supporters, Hezbollah members. All these people have a job, they are workers, they have cars, they gave first aid (many firefighters and rescuers died), etc. Likewise, our feelings extend to all of our people, not just those who support Hezbollah. We are filled with sincere friendship for all Lebanese, and we are very moved by what happened. While in the throes of tragedy, we endured on top of that the suffering of oppression (these slanderous accusations). Some have told me it is not worth talking about. No. I have to talk about it, for sure! For the degree of oppression (constituted by these gratuitous attacks) is exceptional: just as the event is exceptional, the oppression inflicted on us is unprecedented. Even before an investigation was launched, before anyone knew what happened, some media, some Lebanese and Arab TV channels, since the incident began and until now —they haven’t changed their tune— asserted that the hangar belonged to Hezbollah, that what exploded was Hezbollah missiles, Hezbollah explosives, Hezbollah nitrate, Hezbollah, Hezbollah, Hezbollah, Hezbollah… We heard nothing else from them, because there is no other (hypothesis) for them. It is a great crime committed against us. And their method has been to lie, lie, lie and lie and lie again, until people believe it. And it seems that some people, because of the pangs of tragedy and disaster, and the media hype (putting the blame on us), it is possible that it had an influence on some, although in general we rely on people’s awareness and lucidity, and their knowledge that these sources have no credibility, and have a whole history of lies, deception, inventions, falsifications and inversion of reality.

[Hezbollah has never had any activities or storage in the port]

Despite the fact that, as some of us have said, these accusations (are so ludicrous that they) do not deserve an answer, if there is anyone that can be affected by these allegations, perhaps some will say that Hezbollah has not made any statement or denial or comment, and out of respect for reasoned minds and public opinion, I would like to stress and confirm today: I deny in a firm, categorical, absolute, final, total and definite way that Hezbollah has absolutely nothing in the port. There is no weapons warehouse, no missile stock, not a single rocket, a single rifle, a single grenade, a single bullet, (a single drop) of nitrate, there is nothing of all this, neither in a hangar nor outside a hangar, neither now nor in the past, there is nothing and there never has been anything. Nothing at all. There is absolutely none of that. Either way, the results of the investigation will be known soon, and everything will be proven and demonstrated, because such things cannot be hidden. If the blast in the harbor was due to missiles, ammunition, weapons or anything military, the investigation will (infallibly) reveal it. As for nitrate, we already know where it came from, who brought it into the country, how many years it was stored there, etc. All of this will be established and confirmed by the investigation. I don’t need more than this brief denial, because all I care about is that no one would give credit to these lies and fabrications (because of Hezbollah’s silence), and to denounce this enormous oppression inflicted on Hezbollah and the Resistance in Lebanon.

Of course, some opted for another wave (of slanderous accusations) when they saw that the majority of local media, commentary and data (favored another direction)… Even Trump, for example, in the White House, walked in this direction at first, talking about a possible bomb, or whatever, but the United States backed out. I have seen yesterday and today that the majority of international media and journalists have abandoned the hypothesis (of a stockpile of Hezbollah weapons), except for a few voices in Lebanon and the Arab world. Thus, those who launched (this slander) are now all alone (to support it), because all the media and all the voices in the world are anxious to keep a minimum of credibility, even if they are our enemies engaged in a political war against us; but when it turns out that the accusation is clearly a lie as shiny as the sun at its zenith, they (have enough good sense to) back off and conjure up other possibilities.

[Hezbollah has no control over the port and has never interfered in its affairs]

Another thing some people have said is that Hezbollah controls the port of Beirut, run it and supervise it, and that nothing can happen in the port without us knowing it, seeing it and giving our consent, etc. These are also lies, deception, forgery and great injustice (against us). We don’t run the port, we don’t control it, we don’t oversee it, we don’t interfere in its management or affairs, and we had no idea what was going on in the port and what was (stored) in the port. Some objected: “Is it possible that you are more aware of what is in the port of Haifa (reference to the stocks of ammonia that Nasrallah threatened to target in the event of Israeli strikes on Lebanese infrastructure) than what is in the port of Beirut?” Of course! Hezbollah’s primary responsibility is resistance (against Israel), and it is normal that Hezbollah be more aware of the port of Haifa than of the port of Beirut, which is not our responsibility, while the port of Haifa is our responsibility, because it is part of the deterrence equation and the defense strategy of Lebanon. But Hezbollah does not rule, control, interfere or know anything about what is going on in the port of Beirut, what is there and what is not there, how things are managed, it is a matter that we ignore and in which we do not interfere at all. But anyway, we will continue to hear this (second) wave (of accusations), these (false) allegations, because if the hangar does not belong to Hezbollah, we must find something else to blame Hezbollah for the tragedy. Because as far as these oppressors are concerned, the important thing is to place one responsibility or another on Hezbollah, and to look for a pretext, an allegation, a lie, a forgery (which allows it). I’ll ay no more on this issue.

[Defamation and the incitment to civil war must be punished severely]

Either way, investigations are ongoing, and the truths will emerge quickly, as this is not a question that will take time. I believe that the criminal, security, military and technical investigation will be able to quickly establish (with certainty) what was in the hangar, what was the nature of the explosives and how it was triggered, because at the technical level, this does not require much time, and the truths can be expected to come to light quickly.

When the truths come to light, I hope that the Lebanese public opinion, in all regions of Lebanon, because in our country there is a problem in terms of punishments and responsibilities, and in the name of freedom of opinion and expression, some (media and politicians) accuse, insult, abuse, oppress and lead the country to the brink of civil war, and (despite all this), ultimately, the Criminal Court imposes them a (mere) fine of 10 to 50 million Lebanese pounds (6,000 to 35,000 dollars), and it stops there. What I want to ask the Lebanese people is that they should themselves judge these media (and politicians) and condemn them. In what way? By ceasing to give them the least credit, the least importance, and by ceasing to consult them or to look at them. Because when we know that such media has no credibility, and that it is based on lies, manipulation and falsification, and that it participates in the battle that targets our country (to destroy it), then we must condemn them and turn our backs on them for good. And it is in my opinion the most important punishment (that can befall) these false and falsifying television stations which push to the civil war. This should not be taken lightly! This is not a (simple) political accusation. When somebody comes and tells hundreds of thousands of people that it is Hezbollah who is responsible for this carnage, all these deaths and injuries, all this destruction and all this displacement, what is it (if not pushing the country towards civil war)?

[A political instrumentalisation of the crisis]

On the other hand, still concerning the political scene, on the other hand we saw the political instrumentalisation of the incident, and all those who had a problem with so and so reopened this problem (in this tragic context), whether it is the Lebanese National Pact, the government or other political forces, and of course those who have a problem with us. Today, I do not want to open an argument with anyone, and we are putting off (the settling of accounts) for later because we remain attached to avoid settling political or personal disputes, out of ethical, humanitarian and national considerations. This is the time for solidarity, compassion, mutual aid, to heal wounds, to clear debris, to determine the fate of the missing, to treat the wounded, to help people return home, which is a vital priority. The country needs this kind of attitude and calm for several days in order to overcome the crisis. Then we can talk politics and settle accounts. Our position will be firm. And as for certain analyzes which compare the current situation with previous experiences (assassination of Hariri in 2005, etc.) or build hopes (on capitalizing on this tragedy for political gains) like so many of their past illusions, (remember that) for a long time, some people (Hezbollah adversaries) chased after mirages, only to realize that they were all mirages, but I will talk about that later. At this point, I don’t want to get into these considerations, and I don’t want to attack anyone. I’ll put it off until later. The priority is compassion, cooperation and mutual aid, to overcome these days of pain, suffering and humanitarian crisis. Let’s put all the differences aside and get back to political (disputes) later.

[Impartial investigation and exemplary punishment for all those responsible are essential to save Lebanon]

My last point, which is most important, is investigation and retribution. A huge, terrible and dangerous event has happened. First, there must be an investigation. His Excellency the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister declared from the outset that there will be an impartial, resolute, firm, definitive and strong investigation, and that whoever will be identified as having a responsibility in this incident, by his actions or by negligence, corruption or insufficiency, will be held to account, whoever he is, big or small. Very well. It’s a good start. The Lebanese are now asking for action and effort (in this direction). I consider that faced with the shock of the event, there is national, popular and governmental unanimity, of all political parties and all deputies, etc., demanding that an exhaustive, frank, transparent, precise, fair and impartial investigation be carried out on this event, and that whoever bears any share of responsibility be judged and condemned in the most severe and exemplary manner —a fair punishment, of course (not a lynching). We are also among the voices that demand this loud and clear. We must not allow anyone to be covered or protected during the investigation, and truths to be withheld about anyone. It is not tolerable that the investigation and then the trial should be done in the “Lebanese fashion”, that is to say in this well-known way where one takes into account religious and sectarian calculations and balances. Anyone who was inadequate or negligent, instigated (this event) or engaged in corruption, has no religion or sect, as is the case with collaborators (of the Israeli enemy). They should be judged on the basis of what they have done, not on the basis of their sectarian, religious or political affiliation. Neither the investigation nor the trial should be conducted on a sectarian basis (requiring a precise ratio of Sunnis, Shiites or Christians). Whoever is in charge, whether they belong to several sects or are all from the same sect, whatever their political affiliation and group, whatever their family clan, truth and justice must prevail and determine the position, the investigation and the punishment.

[The investigation must be carried out by the Lebanese army, the only institution with unanimous support]

Likewise, with regard to the investigation, one hears calls, opinions and thoughts. I want to address certain political forces who are talking about the question of the investigation (and asking that it be done by international bodies, like Macron did). The official security authorities are quite capable of carrying out this investigation: they have the technical capacity and the required expertise, that is certain. But you have doubts about their reliability (and impartiality). I ask you a question: because sometimes, political settling of accounts (are flagrant), and the thread of lies is short. All the political forces in Lebanon affirm their confidence in the Lebanese army, the national institution (par excellence), guarantor of stability and security in the country, guarantor of sovereignty. We have heard many poetic praises to the glory of the Lebanese National Army. Very well. So let the Lebanese army take care of the investigation. I believe that the services of the Lebanese army have already been requested, the military police it seems to me. If the Lebanese army is an institution that enjoys the confidence of all Lebanese people, all Lebanese political forces and all Lebanese leaders, let us entrust it with the task of carrying out the investigation, since you say you trust it! At least let the Army do the investigation, since you trust them! Let them investigate and reveal the findings, so that everyone can see them.

There is yet another choice. Maybe some Lebanese have confidence in one body, but not in another. It’s possible. So let’s form a plural investigative committee, where each security body which you trust will be present, even if in my opinion charging the army is sufficient, independently of the other bodies which can have the trust of some but not of others. Everyone says there is unanimity around the Army, so let the Army investigate! Let the military conduct the investigation, and let them announce its findings to all people, not just the courts, on their own responsibility. Let them declare that they, the Lebanese army, with their expertise, their capacities and their means, carried out an impartial and transparent investigation, and these are their conclusions, O Lebanese people, concerning the explosion which took place in the Port of Beirut. This will suffice to manifest the truth for all to see.

[Lebanon’s survival as a genuine State is at stake]

In this regard, I would also like to add something very important. Just as the event is exceptional, today the attitude of the Lebanese State towards this event will be in our eyes decisive and fateful. This will determine the future of Lebanon. In what way? Today it is not about the President of the Republic, the National Pact or the government (which can come and go at the whim of elections and crises). It is about (the safeguard of) the Lebanese State, (which will depend) on the way in which the authorities will behave in this regard, be it the judicial body, the army, the security services, and even the Chamber of Deputies. It is about (the sustainability) of the (Lebanese) State and its institutions. Everyone has some responsibility for the trial and the punishment. The way to act in the face of such a catastrophe, which has affected all sects, all neighborhoods and all regions, and must in no way be tinged with sectarianism, religion or politicization, a national and humanitarian tragedy par excellence, the way State institutions will behave about it, as well as political leaders and the various political forces in the country, will have a fateful consequence for the whole country. What will this fateful consequence be? How this tragedy is dealt with will determine in the eyes of the Lebanese people —and in my eyes the verdict will be irrevocable— whether there is a (genuine) State in Lebanon or not. The second question (which will find an irrevocable answer) is about the hope of building a State (in Lebanon). Because I tell you quite frankly: if the Lebanese State and the Lebanese political forces —whether in power or in the opposition—, in such a case and such a cause, do not achieve a result in the investigation, and fail to punish (all those responsible), it means that the Lebanese people, political forces, State institutions (are bankrupt), and that there is no hope to build an (authentic) State. I don’t want anybody to despair, but I accurately describe the reality.

But we must (all) work so that this despair does not happen, in order to confirm, create and sow hope (to see a real State) among the Lebanese. Today, all the calls to fight against corruption that may have denounced a biased judge, a cowardly judge, a force that buried court files for such or such consideration, (are eclipsed by the magnitude of this case). We have to see a heavy punishment, because even if the investigation reveals that it was an intentional act or an aerial bombardment, the fact that this nitrate was stored in this way for 6 or 7 years clearly implies that there was a (criminal) negligence, inadequacy and corruption on the part of judges. This is where the war on corruption must (be a priority)! If in this case all those who call for a war on corruption, and we are part of it, if we are unable to do anything (to identify and punish all the culprits), it means that we are unable to do anything (forever). Game over. We will frankly declare to the Lebanese people that it is impossible to fight corruption, to fight neglect and insufficiency, and we will say, “O Lebanese people, you have no State and there is no hope of building an (authentic) State, so it’s up to you to see what you can do with yourselves”. To me, such is the magnitude of the question. So that people do not say later that it was a tragedy (without culprits) and forget about the matter, we make it clear that as far as we are concerned, it is impossible to forget this disaster, to move on and to allow let it be neglected. The whole truth must be revealed about this tragedy, and those responsible must be tried without any protection, whether political, sectarian or partisan. If that doesn’t happen, yes, I will consider that there is a crisis of the regime, a crisis of the State, maybe even a crisis of the (Lebanese) entity, some will be entitled to go this far. And some people try to ignore it, one way or another.

Therefore, I call on State officials, at all levels and in all authorities, to show the utmost seriousness and determination, whether to complete the investigation or to judge and blame, and chastise all those responsible for this tragedy. This is required so that the leaders and the political forces can give hope to the Lebanese people that there are authorities, a State and institutions, or at least that there is hope that a State be erected on the basis of truth, justice, transparency and the protection of the Lebanese, because sometimes the consequences of corruption, negligence and incompetence accumulate and become apparent after several years, and can be destructive, like what happened in this terrible event where in seconds, in a matter of seconds, tens of people were killed or missing, thousands were injured, hundreds of thousands of families were affected and had to leave their homes… And some people say that God prevented an even greater tragedy, and that if this hangar had not been so close to the sea, and without such and such peculiarities of the site, if this same amount of nitrate had exploded in a different geographic configuration, perhaps the whole city (of Beirut) would have been destroyed. All this in an instant, in a matter of seconds, because of corruption, neglect and incompetence, and no one should say it is simply because of the intricacies of the bureaucracy. Never. We are talking about stocks that could completely destroy the capital and certain suburbs (in an instant). The blame cannot be blamed on the intricacies of bureaucracy.

[Lebanon must seize the opportunities of the crisis]

In conclusion —because I won’t be long today— I would like to finish with two points.

First point, in these days of tragedy, humanitarian catastrophe and sacrifice —because even today there have been sacrifices, martyrs, wounded, displaced persons, means of subsistence destroyed, an enormous weight added on the the Lebanese economy and the Lebanese State—, (we must not forget) that from the abyss of crises, from the matrix of crises, opportunities arise, whether they are internal, regional or international opportunities. The international attitude towards this event is an opportunity that the Lebanese must seize and take advantage of, both State and people, and they must not let these opportunities be lost because of their differences. We must seek out the opportunities that have been created by these crises and take advantage of them in a united manner and through cooperation.

[Hezbollah’s enemies must stop chasing mirages]

And the second and last point to conclude, is that I declare to all those who, from the first moment, launched a campaign against us, against the Resistance and against the Axis of Resistance, trying to take advantage of this tragedy, you will get nowhere, and I tell you that frankly and sincerely. I also declare to the masses (who support) the Resistance, and some of whom are perhaps worried, scared, wonder what is the (underlying) atmosphere, if this is a big regional or international plot , (I reassure them by reminding them) that the regional situation is very different (from what it was before), as is the international situation (much more favorable to us than ever). We are very different from what we were, and so is the (Axis of) the Resistance (we are stronger than ever), so there is really nothing to worry about (for us). These people (our adversaries) run after mirages, as they have always run after mirages. All of their choices have always been doomed to failure and defeat.

And I say this to our adversaries: just as you have been disappointed and defeated (in all your past undertakings: Special Tribunal for Lebanon, 2006 war, war in Syria, etc.), you will once again be disappointed and defeated. You will not achieve anything. This Resistance, by its credibility, its sincerity, by the confidence of the Lebanese people in it, by its (victorious) battles, by its positions, by its attitude and its behavior, and by its strength, its place in the country and in the region, is too large, too strong and too noble for it to be tainted by (the slanders) of certain oppressors, liars and falsifiers of the truth, who (constantly) incite sectarian rivalry, and who encourage civil war. They have always worked at this and have always failed, and they will fail again.

[Conclusion]

May God have mercy on the martyrs, and heal (promptly) the wounded, and I hope that by His Grace, the missing will be found alive; even if they are hurt God will heal them. May God grant patience and endurance to the families of the victims, as well as patience, relief and determination to all the families who have been affected and have suffered from this tragedy, be they our families in Beirut or in the suburbs of Beirut. With the Grace of God, through the mutual aid and solidarity of all, and the endurance of the State in its various institutions, as well as the efforts of political forces and the Lebanese people in its various categories, we will succeed in overcoming this ordeal and build a better tomorrow, and come out of it stronger and more resolute in our determination to persevere, endure and be victorious.

Peace be upon you, as well as the mercy of God and His blessings.

Donate as little as you can to support this work and subscribe to the Newsletter to get around censorship.

“Any amount counts, because a little money here and there, it’s like drops of water that can become rivers, seas or oceans…” Hassan Nasrallah

(Translation of key points): Nasrallah’s speech on Beirut Disaster

August 08, 2020

Source

(Translation of key points): Nasrallah’s speech on Beirut Disaster

Original linkhttp://middleeastobserver.net/translation-of-key-points-nasrallahs-speech-on-beirut-disaster/

Description :

Key excerpts from Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s latest speech surrounding the Port of Beirut disaster several days earlier.

Source: Various networks

Date: 7 August, 2020

(Important Note: Please help us keep producing independent translations for you by contributing as little as $1/month here)

Transcript:

Hezbollah chose to view all forms of support & visits to Lebanon positively

We look positively at every form of help and (show of) empathy – and every visit to Lebanon – during these days, especially if it comes within the context of helping Lebanon, or is aimed at calling for unity, cooperation and dialogue between the Lebanese. When we view such visits, we wish to focus on the positive side to them. Now, perhaps some may call for caution, or express concerns or fears. We prefer to view such visits during this current stage in terms of their positive aspects…

An opportunity for Lebanon to exit from state of isolation & difficulty?

Thus, the international and foreign scene was positive in general, and empathetic, and I believe that this also opens up an opportunity before Lebanon, both at the state level and in relation to its people, perhaps there is an opportunity – and I will get back to this later – for (Lebanon to receive) support or for opening up a door from which (the country) can exit from the state of isolation and difficulty that Lebanon was suffering from during the previous period.

Hezbollah categorically denies ever using Port of Beirut for arms-related matters

I wish to affirm today, in a certain, absolute, decisive, categorical and firm manner, that there is nothing that exists for us at the Port (of Beirut). There (was) neither a weapons stockpile, nor a missile stockpile, nor a (single) missile, nor a rifle, nor a bomb, nor a bullet, nor (any amounts of ammonium) nitrate, there is nothing of this sort at all, neither a ‘warehouse’ nor anything else. Neither is there anything now, nor was there anything in the past. Absolutely nothing of this sort (exists) at all. And in any case, soon the results of the investigation will confirm (this reality).

Hezbollah has more knowledge of Port of Haifa than Port of Beirut!

We neither administer the port (of Beirut), nor do we control it, nor do we interfere in it, nor do we know what was going on in the port, nor do we know what was present in the port. Some people said: ‘is it possible that you know about the Port of Haifa (in Israel) more than you know about the Port of Beirut?’.

Hezbollah’s main responsibility is resistance. Hezbollah might know more about the Port of Haifa than it knows about the Port of Beirut. (Knowing about) the Port of Beirut is not (Hezbollah’s) responsibility, yet (knowing about) the Port of Haifa is (Hezbollah’s) responsibility, because it is part of the deterrence equation and the (Resistance’s) defence strategy for Lebanon.

Hezbollah is not administering, nor controlling, nor is it interfering in, nor does it know what is happening at the Port of Beirut, nor what is present there and what is not present there, nor does it know how things are being administered there. This is something we do not interfere in at all.

Now is not the time for political wrangling, now is the time for national healing

We saw the political exploitation of the (disastrous) event (by many). Anyone who has a problem with somebody else (went ahead and) opened up that file (during this crisis). Anyone who has a problem with the (current) presidency, with the (current) government, anyone who has a problem with other political forces, and of course those who have a problem with us (went ahead and brought to the fore their problems during this crisis)…

I don’t wish today to engage in any (political) wrangling with anybody, this is something that we will delay, because we are still adamant that ethically, patriotically, and humanely, today is not the time for settling political and party accounts. It is (rather) the time for solidarity, empathy and cooperation. A time for attending the wounds (of the people), for rescue efforts, for determining the fate of those who are missing, for treating the injured, for helping people to return to their homes.

For a number of days the country requires a level of calm and empathy so that we can overcome the ordeal. Thereafter, we will speak politics, and we will engage in debate. Our facts are strong, and our position is strong, and our stance is strong.

While some forces call for international investigation, Nasrallah points to Lebanese Army

In terms of the investigation, we are now hearing various calls, opinions and ideas. I would like to ask certain (Lebanese) political forces who are speaking about this. (Investigating) this matter (i.e. the Port explosion) is something that can be done by the official Lebanese apparatus, it has the technical expertise, experience and personnel, there’s no doubt about this. However, certain (political forces) are questioning whether this apparatus can be trusted.

Okay, I ask you a question, because sometimes lies within the political realm can only go so far. Okay, all political forces in Lebanon say: ‘we have faith in the Lebanese Army’, the ‘national institution’, the ‘institution that guarantees the stability and security of the country’, the ‘institution that guarantees the sovereignty (of Lebanon)’. And recently on Lebanese Army Day, we heard so many poems and praises (of the Army).

Okay, let the Army go ahead…if this institution that is the Lebanese Army, is trusted by all Lebanese, and trusted by all Lebanese political forces and political leaders, then assign the Lebanese Army (with the mission of investigating the incident). Considering that you all have trust in it. At the very least (assign it) with the investigation. The Lebanese Army, which you trust, will go ahead and carry out its investigations, and then provide the results to everyone.

…Okay, everyone says there is a consensus around the Lebanese Army, okay, then assign the Army with the investigation (mission). Let (the army) go ahead and investigate and then announce the results to the Lebanese people, and not just to the judicial authorities…this is enough to unveil the truth.

Prosecuting those responsible for tragedy is final chance for idea of a ‘Lebanese state’

I also want to add something very important, just as this event (of the explosion) is an exceptional one, today the manner in which the Lebanese state acts in relation to this event will – in our opinion – be fateful. How will it be fateful?

…The Lebanese people will be able, in light of how this event is treated, will be able to come to a conclusion – I am one of those people, as a Lebanese (citizen), who will be able to come to a conclusion on the following matter: is there a state in Lebanon or not? The second question: is there any hope for building a state or there is no hope for building a state (in Lebanon)?

Because I tell you frankly: if the Lebanese state, and the Lebanese political class – whether they are in the (current) ruling government or the opposition – if in this file and matter they fail to reach a result with regards to the investigations, and if they fail to prosecute (those who are responsible), then…(the conclusion will be reached that) there is no hope for building a state.

I don’t want to lead anyone towards hopelessness, I am merely defining (the situation). Yet we need to work so that this hopelessness does not come about. So that we can ensure the existence of hope, so that we can bring about hope ourselves, so that we can sow this hope for the Lebanese.

Today, all the calls for ‘fighting corruption’ (in Lebanon) that use to reach dead ends in the form of say, a corrupt judge here, or a cowardly judge there, or say a side that tries to close a particular investigation and clear up the evidence, or due to say certain considerations, okay, what (obstacle or dead end) will face this matter (i.e. the explosion at Port of Beirut)?

In this matter, it may be revealed that – and yes, a part of it is definitely (related to internal negligence) – meaning that even if it turns out that say, a plane came and struck the Port (thus causing the explosion), or even if it was a pre-planned operation, however, if it turns out that this (ammonium) nitrate had been sitting there at the Port in that manner for 6 or 7 years, that would mean that definitely part of the issue relates back to negligence, shortcomings, and corruption (by certain Lebanese officials). Okay let everyone come forward and fight corruption (here in this issue, which is the most pressing of issues).

If in this issue, all those who claim that they are fighting corruption (in Lebanon) – and we are of those people – fail to do anything, then it means there is no possibility for us to achieve anything (in this regard). Finished. We (then) ought to get up and be honest with the Lebanese people and tell them: ‘there is no possibility for us to do anything, neither to fight corruption, nor confront negligence and the shortcomings, and O’ Lebanese people, you should know that you do not have a state, and there is no possibility of establishing a state, so you should go sort yourself out (on your own)’.

In my opinion, the situation is this grave. So that no one later says that this is a tragedy, and time will (heal) and make people forget e.t.c. As far as we’re concerned, this incident cannot possibly be forgotten, nor is it allowed for anyone to ignore it. This tragedy, this incident, the truth must be uncovered regarding it, and those responsible must be prosecuted, free from all political, sectarian or party protection.

الحياد ومخاطر الدعوة إليه في لبنان؟

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

في خضمّ ما يعانيه لبنان من حصار أميركي، وانقسام داخلي ومخاطر متعددة العناوين من صحية (كورونا) ومعيشية مع تفشي البطالة وتفلت الأسعار، ووضع أقل ما يُقال فيه إنه من أسوأ ما شهده لبنان منذ إنشائه بقرار من المفوض السامي الفرنسي في العام 1920، في خضمّ هذا الوضع المأسوي البائس أطلق البطريرك الماروني لأنطاكية وسائر المشرق من لبنان مواقف تتعلق بواقع لبنان ومستقبله بناها على مقولة «الشرعية المصادرة» داعياً إلى حياد لبنان، الحياد الذي يرى فيه علاجاً لكلّ ما يعتور لبنان من مآسٍ وما يتهدّده من مخاطر. فهل الحياد يشكل فعلاً علاجاً لأمراض لبنان ويمكن اعتماده؟

للإجابة على هذا السؤال نبدأ أولاً بالتوقف عند معنى الحياد وطبيعته وشروطه المحددة في قواعد القانون الدولي العام وقانون النزاعات المسلحة والعلاقات الدولية، تلك القواعد التي تقول بان حياد الدولة يكون واحداً من ثلاثة: أولها الحياد العسكري، او الحياد المؤقت وثانيها الحياد الاتفاقي او الحياد الدائم، وثالثها الحياد الإيجابي عبر الانضواء في تكتل دولي محايد بين معسكرين دوليين متصارعين ولذا يسمّى «عدم انحياز»، وقد تبلور عملياً في حركة عدم الانحياز التي شكلها في منتصف القرن الماضي الثالوث المصري الهندي اليوغسلافي (عبد الناصر، نهرو، تيتو) وكان لبنان عضواً فيها ولا يزال رغم أفول شمسها وتراجع دورها حتى شبه الاضمحلال بعد تفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي وما سبقه من غياب القادة التاريخيين الثلاثة الذين شكلوها، وبالتالي إنّ الدعوة إلى الحياد المتقدّم الذكر والمسمّى أيضاً بالحياد الإيجابي لا يعني بأيّ حال هذه الحركة أو ما يشبهها ويبقى أن تكون الدعوة إلى حياد مؤقت أو دائم.

بيد أنّ الحياد المؤقت أو كما يسمى أيضا الحياد الحربي هو موقف تتخذه دولة ما بإرادتها المنفردة التي لا تتوقف عند إرادة الأطراف المتواجهة في نزاع عسكري، موقف تحفظ فيه الدولة علاقتها السلمية العادية بكل الأطراف من دون أن تنحاز لأي منهما ودون ان يشكل أي منهم خطراً عليها او يقتحم إقليمها لاستعماله في الحرب ضد الطرف الآخر. أي تعلن الدولة حيادها بنفسها وتتخذ من التدابير ما يقفل إقليمها بوجه كافة الأطراف، وتحفظ علاقاتها السلمية المتوازنة مع الجميع، فهل هذا ممكن في حالة لبنان الراهنة؟

قبل الإجابة نعرض للحياد الدائم او الحياد التعاقدي، الذي يختلف عن الأول لكونه لا يمكن أن يبرم بإرادة منفردة او يعطي مفاعيله دون ان ترضى الدول الأخرى به اقله الدول التي لها مصالح مع الدولة المزمع إعلان حيادها، فإعلان هذا الحياد وإحداث مفاعيله يشترط عرضاً (إيجاباً) من الدولة، وقبولاً من الدول الموجّه اليها ثم إبرام معاهدة يوقعها الجميع تنشئ حالة حياد الدولة المعنية. فإذا قامت هذه الحالة وجب احترامها، او فرض حمايتها لذا يجب على الدولة المعنية ان تمتلك القوة العسكرية الكافية للدفاع عن نفسها وعن حيادها.

فإذا راجعنا حالة لبنان على ضوء ما تقدّم نجد انّ إقامة حياد مؤقت او دائم تتطلب في الحد الأدنى إرادة وطنية جامعة تقرره، وقوة عسكرية مانعة لتحميه، وعلاقة سلمية مع كل دول الجوار والإقليم موسومة بعدم وجود صراعات معها حول أي من المصالح، ويُضاف اليها في حالة الحياد الدائم، قبول الدول المعنية به للتمكن من توقيع اتفاقية الحياد كما تفرض قواعد القانون الدولي العام، فهل تتوفر هذه الشروط في الحالة اللبنانية؟

نبدأ بالإرادة الوطنية الجامعة، ونرى ان اللبنانيين منقسمون عمودياً بين فئتين رئيستين، فئة تفاخر بالانتماء إلى الأمة العربية وتعتبر نفسها جزءاً منها، وفئة لا تستسيغ فكرة الانتماء ولا ترتاح إلى ممارستها، ويضاف إلى ما تقدّم وجود من يعيش انتماءه إلى الأمة الإسلامية أيضاً فضلاً عن العربية وهؤلاء يرفضون فكرة الحياد بين أمتهم وبين أعدائها لانهم يعتبرون مصالح الأمة هي مصالحهم، وهنا نذكر بموقف هؤلاء المعترض أصلاً على فكرة قيام لبنان المستقلّ عن محيطه ويرون أن قبولهم بالدولة المستقلة بعد زمن لا يعني تنازلهم عن انتمائهم، وعليه لا ينتظر من هؤلاء القبول بفكرة الحياد التي تترجم بالنسبة لهم انسلاخاً عن جسم الأمة عربية كانت او إسلامية، واعتقد انّ صاحب طرح الحياد انتبه إلى هذه الثغرة ولطف طرحه بالقول «بالحياد مع الاستمرار بالاهتمام بالقضايا العربية المشتركة». ولكن هذا التلطيف وهذا التراجع لا يغني ولا يسمن، فالحياد له قواعده وضوابطه فأما ان تلتزم ويكون الكيان محايداً أو لا تلتزم ولا يكون، أما سياسة «النصف نصف» فهي تلاعب على الألفاظ لا يعتدّ به، ولنقل صراحة ان تشكل إجماع لبناني على الحياد بمفهومه القانوني أمر مستحيل الآن وهنا ننوّه بموقف الرئيس العماد ميشال عون الذي واجه به صاحب الطرح قائلاً «الحياد يستلزم وفاقاً وطنياً» كلمة مختصرة قد تكون كافية لنعي الطرح كله.

أما الشرط الثاني المتمثل بامتلاك القوة الدفاعيّة اللازمة لحماية الحياد، قوة تكون وحيدة لا شريك لها على الأرض اللبنانية أي إقامة الجيش القادر على حماية لبنان، فهذا أمر شبه مستحيل الآن ويصعب تحققه في المستقبل في ظل 3 عوامل تحكم الوضع اللبناني أولها القرار الغربي بمنع لبنان من امتلاك تلك القوة التي تقيد التحرك الإسرائيلي وتمنع «إسرائيل» من تحقيق مطامعها في لبنان، ثانيها وضع لبنان المالي الذي يحول دون شراء الأسلحة والتجهيزات اللازمة لبناء منظومة دفاع مجدٍ، والثالث انقسام لبنان حول فكرة التحوّل إلى أسواق السلاح البديلة، وبالتالي يجد الجيش اللبناني نفسه محاصراً بضيق ذات اليد، والقيود الغربية، ورفض داخلي للبدائل ما يبقيه من غير سلاح يُعتدّ به لمواجهة المخاطر وتبقى القوة الدفاعية الرسمية الكافية حلماً لا يطال وتكون الحاجة إلى الحلّ الاحتياطي المتمثل بالمقاومة الشعبية أمراً لا مناص منه كما يرى رئيس الجمهورية العماد عون أيضاً، الأمر الذي يرفضه صاحب فكرة الحياد. وهنا انقسام آخر.

أما شرط إقامة علاقة سلمية متوازنة مع دول الإقليم لا عداء فيها فإنه أيضاً أمر مستحيل، فجيران لبنان اثنان دولة سورية الشقيقة، والكيان الصهيوني العدو الغاصب. واذا كانت العلاقة مع سورية محكومة بعوامل الأخوة والصداقة وبالاتفاقيات المبرمة معها والتي تنص على أنها علاقات مميّزة كما ورد في اتفاقية الطائف، فإنّ العلاقة مع «إسرائيل» عكس ذلك تماماً، فـ «إسرائيل» عدو للأمة التي ينتمي اليها لبنان ولا يغيّر من طبيعة هذه العلاقة إقدام بعض العرب على الصلح والتطبيع معها، كما أنها عدو للبنان تغتصب حقوقاً وتطمع بحقوق ومصالح في البر والبحر أرضاً وثروة وتنتهك السيادة وتهدّد مستقبل لبنان وجوداً ودوراً ووظيفة. وأيّ حياد يطرح قبل أن نستنقذ حقوقنا ومصالحنا من براثن «إسرائيل» يكون فيه انتحار ذاتي وخدمة للعدو، حقيقة وعاها صاحب الطرح كما يبدو وألمح إليها متأسفاً بالقول «للأسف… إسرائيل عدو» وطبعاً أسفه لا يقدّم ولا يؤخّر في طبيعة العلاقة بل إنه ينسف فكرة الحياد التي يطرحها.

وأخيراً نصل إلى فكرة قبول الحياد من قبل مجموعة الدول المعنية بالعلاقة مع لبنان، وهو قبول يشترط استباقه بأمرين، تصفية العلاقة والنزاعات حول المصالح البينية ثم عرض (إيجاب) يتقدّم به لبنان من اجل ان يستدعي القبول والموافقة عليه من قبل الطرف الآخر. وهنا نجد ان ما يحكم علاقة لبنان بـ «إسرائيل» جملة ملفات خطيرة منها توطين الفلسطينيين والخروج من الأرض اللبنانية المحتلة والاعتراف بالحدود البرية دون مناورة لإعادة ترسيمها والإقرار بالحدود البحرية دون الطمع بمساحات من منطقة لبنان الاقتصادية، فهل تقر «إسرائيل» بهذه الحقوق؟ نسارع للقول طبعاً لا. وها هي صفقة القرن تؤكد بكل وضوح انّ الحلّ الذي تطرحه يطيح بمصالح لبنان تلك، وبالتالي أي سلام يبتغى مع «إسرائيل» في ظل أطماعها تلك؟ أما سورية فيكفي ان نعود معها إلى مواقف سياسية أعلنت من قبل مسؤوليها لنجد أنها كلها تقطع برفض القبول بحياد لبنان ما يقود إلى القول إن الجوار غير جاهز للقبول بهذا الحياد أي يتعذر قيام الحياد الاتفاقي او الحياد الدائم.

حقائق اعتقد أن على مَن طرح الحياد ان يتوقف عندها، وبالتالي يكون من الأفضل له وللبنان ان يتجنب طرحاً مستحيلاً في مثل هذا الظرف بالذات، إذ لن يكون للطرح أثر او مفعول إلا زيادة الانقسام والتشرذم وإضافة ملف خلافي جديد تستفيد منه أميركا في خطتها الرامية لإنتاج فراغ سياسي مترافق مع الحصار والتجويع المنتج للفتنة والاقتتال الداخلي والممهّد لعدوان «إسرائيلي» على لبنان.

*أستاذ جامعي – خبير استراتيجي

مقالات متعلقة

%d bloggers like this: