Hezbollah lashing out in Syria but feeling squeezed at home and in Europe
Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech on Saturday where he, for the first time, admitted that Hezbollah is all-in to keep Bashar assad in power:
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday vowed “victory” in Syria, where militants of his powerful Lebanese Shiite movement are fighting alongside regular troops against rebels trying to topple the regime.
“I say to all the honorable people, to the mujahedin, to the heroes: I have always promised you a victory and now I pledge to you a new one” in Syria, he said at a ceremony marking the 13th anniversary of Israel’s military withdrawal from Lebanon.
Nasrallah said Hezbollah would always stand by its allies in the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad, stressing that its own interests were at stake.
“We will continue along the road… bear the responsibilities and the sacrifices,” he said in a video-link of a speech delivered live on a huge screen.
“This battle is ours… and I promise you victory,” he said.
“Syria is the rear guard of the resistance (Hezbollah’s fight with Israel), its backbone, and the resistance cannot stay with its arms folded when its rear guard is exposed.
“We are idiots if we do not act,” said Nasrallah who avoids appearing in public for security reasons.
He is bizarrely trying to justify this by playing the Israel card, one that the Arab public is increasingly sick of:
In a televised speech marking the 13th anniversary of the Israeli pullout from southern Lebanon, Nasrallah also said that “if Syria falls, so will Palestine, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem. We will enter a very dark phase.”
He also spoke about Israeli preparations for a possible conflict with Hezbollah and said that Israel formed a new government portfolio dedicated to protecting the home front. “In Israel everything is geared up for a conflict year round and all year they hold maneuvers. Israel fears rockets, because we have no air force. The Israelis built towns along its borders. They are bringing in Jews from Ethiopia, Romania, and Argentina, and placing them by our borders and providing them with money and arms. On our side of the border, our towns are nearly empty.”
Nasrallah did not present the fighting as a conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, but rather as one waged between heathens serving a Western Zionist agenda and the Syrian resistance that refuses to accept the dictates of the West.
Nasrallah unequivocally stressed that the fall of the Syrian regime would be a blow to the “resistance.” “Syria is the backbone of the ‘resistance,’ that cannot sit still and wait while its backbone is being broken,” he said. “If Syria falls in the hands of the Americans and the Israelis and the American representatives in the region, the ‘resistance’ will be isolated and Israel will enter Lebanon and force its laws upon it. Lebanon will return to the Israeli era.”
In his speech, Nasrallah tied the U.S. and Israel to Jihadist organizations working under the aegis of al-Qaida in Syria: “These combatants coming from many countries received many allowances to leave their countries and arrive at Syria, this is the American method of destabilizing Syria from the inside, using these organizations that brand everyone is heathens, those organizations that had killed more Sunni Muslims than anyone else. An example of this is what is happening in Iraq, Pakistan, and Somalia. We think that the armed forces taking over Syria are a great danger to Lebanon and all the Lebanese, not only Hezbollah or the Lebanese Shiites.”
Lebanon’s majority non-Shi’ite population is not happy at being dragged into a war they have nothing to do with:
Al-Mustaqbal Party leader Saad Hariri stated on Saturday that Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah is demanding the recognition of the “State of Hizbullah,” considering that the resistance has announced its “suicide” in the Syrian border town of al-Qusayr.
“You have announced yourself the end of the resistance on Liberation’s Day,” Hariri addressed Nasrallah in a released statement in which he responded to Hizbullah leader’s speech in the commemoration of the liberation of the South earlier on Saturday.
“You have announced the resistance’s political and military suicide in al-Qusayr.”
Hariri accused Nasrallah of releasing a Fatwa that calls on the Lebanese to get involved in a war on Syrian territories.
“Your speech has no value to us, to most Lebanese and definitely to the Syrian people in all political, national, ethical, legal, religious and human measures.”
The opposition to Hezbollah’s Syrian adventure was apparent this morning, as a group fired rockets at Hezbollah positions in Lebanon itself:
Rockets slammed into a Hezbollah stronghold outside Beirut, injuring at least four people, hours after the Lebanese militant group’s leader declared he could mobilize thousands of fighters to help Syria’s rulers beat an insurgency.
As many as three rockets hit a southern suburb of Beirut this morning, damaging homes, Al Jazeera satellite TV said, showing shrapnel-damaged walls and cars. Lebanese President Michel Suleiman called the spillover from Syria’s civil war an act of “terrorist saboteurs” who do not want peace and stability for Lebanon, Lebanon’s National News Agency said.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s willingness to bet Lebanon on Assad has pushed some European states to declare it a terror group:
At the beginning of this week, the United Kingdom submitted an official request to the European Union to list Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization. The move was shortly followed by supportive statements from both France and Germany.
“Given the decisions that Hezbollah has taken and the fact that it has fought extremely hard against the Syrian population, I confirm that France will propose to place Hezbollah’s military wing on the list of terrorist organizations,” French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius said on Wednesday after the Friends of Syria meeting in Amman.
The move from the EU Troika also comes almost a year after a suicide attack attributed to Hezbollah left 6 dead in the Bulgarian sea side resort town of Burgas in July 2012. At the same time that the Bulgarian investigation into the Burgas attack was underway, Cyprus was dealing with the case of Taleb Hussam Yacoub, a Swedish-Lebanese national who admitted in court that he had been recruited by Hezbollah. The young man described his role as a courier in several European capitals, as well as his surveillance missions on Israeli tourists in Cyprus and Turkey. However, it was Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria and its increasing evidence of support to Bashar al-Assad’s regime that made France and Germany abandon their hesitation, analysts say.
Now Lebanon has a scorecard of Hezbollah’s diminishing clout as a legitimate player in Europe: