Hezbollah Lebanon’s leader Hasan Nasrallah made a televised speech on 16 February 2014, in which he elaborated on the supposed reasons for the group’s involvement in the Syria war. But what he had to say can only be described as scare-mongering and justifying one crime with another.
Nasrallah claimed that the second-biggest threat facing the region, following that of Israel, is what he called “takfiri terror”, in reference to Sunni extremists who regard all other religions and sects as ‘kuffar’, or infidels.
“Lebanon is a target for the takfiri groups,” he said. “And part of their project and their priority was to come to Lebanon after finishing from Syria. This is why they followed the strategy of controlling the Lebanese borders with Syria… And since the Americans and Israelis are engaged with these groups, then targeting Lebanon would be certain because of the presence of the resistance – which is the greatest threat to Israel – in the country.”
‘Resistance’ here refers to Hezbollah Lebanon, as the group usually describes itself.
Mr Nasrallah wants us to believe that the battles in Syrian regions close to the Lebanese border (Homs, etc.) over the last two years had nothing to do with Bashar al-Assad’s forces attacking civilian protesters in those areas, or with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) trying to cut off supply lines of Syrian regime troops between the south and the north. He wants us to believe that they had nothing to do with the FSA’s attempts to secure paths for military and food supplies for the opposition through Turkey and Lebanon or with liberating towns and cities occupied by the regime forces and the militias fighting alongside them. It was all about the ‘takfiris’ trying to get into Lebanon, according to Nasrallah. Nice try.
Even more interesting was Nasrallah’s attempt to re-write history and to pre-empt criticism of him being a ‘justificationist’ by accusing his enemies of doing exactly that:
“There were discussions in Lebanon in light of the explosions and suicide attacks, and some said that this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Hezbollah’s engagement in Syria. They adopted this justificatory logic, which will continue even after we became partners in the same government.”
This reversed cause-effect argument then leads him to the ‘logical’ conclusion that Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria has been all about self-defence:
“Don’t we have the right to interfere to stop the killing, stealing and raping of women which 30,000 Lebanese have been suffering in Al-Qusayr? What if those takfiris whom we defeated in Qusayr came to Lebanon? What if, God forbidden, they took control over all Syria? How would the picture be like then?”
What 30,000 Lebanese in Al-Qusayr? Where did that come from? When did the ‘Qusayr takfiris’ say they wanted to go to Lebanon next? It’s just classic scare-mongering.
Of course Mr Nasrallah did not forget to promise victory, like any good military commander trying to boost his troops’ morales would do: “We will triumph in this battle and it is only a matter of time. What this battle requires on various levels is available, this is a crucial battle, but its destiny is victory.”
Naame Shaam would like to remind Mr Nasrallah, and those who still believe him, of a few facts:
– The Syrian and the Iranian regimes that support Hezbollah also played a big role in creating and facilitating the takfiri threat that Mr Nasrallah is talking about (Al-Qaeda offshoots in Syria), not least by releasing their members from prison at the beginning of the revolution, facilitating their funding and arming, and not really fighting them while brutally attacking all the other factions (check Naame Shaam’s previous reports on these issues). The aim was obviously to back up their claims that the Syrian revolution was, from the beginning, a foreign conspiracy involving Islamist terrorists, or takfiris, which then justifies these regimes’ brutal attacks on people protesting for freedom and dignity.
– Moreover, the recent wave of terrorist car bombs in Lebanon started well after Hezbollah Lebanon got involved in bloody battles Syria in 2013 (Qusayr, Eastern Ghouta, etc.) and can only be explained as retaliatory reactions to this involvement.
– Sepah Pasdaran’s orders to Hezbollah Lebanon to send its fighters to Syria to support the Assad regime in late 2011 and early 2012 pre-dated the growth of the ‘takfiri threat’. At the time, the revolution was mostly unarmed civilians protesting en masse across the country, in addition to increasingly growing numbers of defecting soldiers and locals picking up arms to defend themselves. It was the regime’s brutal attacks on these protesters and one massacre after another that did not leave Syrians any other option but to pick up arms. And it was the Iranian and Russian governments’ support (money, arms, fighters, international diplomacy, etc.) that enabled the regime to do so.
– Those that Hezbollah Lebanon is now fighting in Yabroud, and in many other areas of Syria before that, are not takfiris. The vast majority of them belong to local, relatively ill-equipped brigades that have no links with Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and other more organised and better armed Islamist factions. Not to mention all the unarmed civilians that Hezbollah and Sepah Qods fighters have participated in killing and displacing in these areas.
Hasan Nasrallah’s speech can be found at: