Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah reiterated his party’s solidarity with the Assad regime on Tuesday, accusing Western-backed powers and Arab autocracies of using the protests to try to force President Bashar Assad out of power to undermine resistance forces in the region.
In a wide-ranging televised speech to commemorate the birth of the Prophet Mohammed, Nasrallah also explicitly stated that his party receives financial support from Iran, without which, he said, the resistance in Lebanon would not have persisted and triumphed.
Nasrallah called for unity among Sunni and Shia Muslims in the face of US designs. The US, he pointed out, cares solely about the political loyalty of a leader, not their sect, citing the case of Iran’s Shah who was Shia.
“For America it is not about a sect which the leader belongs to, it is about his political orientation. The guilt of [the Iranian revolution] is that it overthrew America’s ally,” he said.
Speaking about the continued conflict in Syria, which has seen breakaway groups clash with government forces and over 5,000 people killed according to the UN, Nasrallah indirectly blamed the rebels for pushing for civil war when offered concessions by the governments.
Currently many rebel leaders have refused to meet with government figures without an explicit promise that Assad step down but Nasrallah called on all sides to negotiate without delay.
“The opposition in Syria has refused reforms and dialogue which triggered a civil war, not a sectarian one,” he said. “Those who are keen on Syria should engage in dialogue without conditions.”
Nasrallah also accused the Western media of deliberately overestimating the scale of the violence to try and help foreign powers influence the agenda in Syria.
On Saturday there were widespread reports of a military barrage in Homs shortly before Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning President Assad and calling on him to step down.
Nasrallah said that the international media had aired misleading reports about the alleged attacks on the city in order to put pressure on the Council.
“On the day of the meeting of the Security Council…they said that Homs was under fire with up to 400 killed and 39 buildings brought down. I was touched by this,” he said.
“We have our friends in Homs who have nothing to do with the regime. We called them and said ‘what is going on?’ But they said nothing is going on,” he added.
“However [with] the timing of this news, anyone who sees this will be affected. Is this based on facts or is this part of a battle to achieve certain goals?”
“Nobody could deny that there is an American-Israeli plan for regime change in Syria,” he added.
Responding to accusations that Hezbollah forces had been involved in fighting in Syria to support the regime, Nasrallah denied the claims had any basis.
“They say Hezbollah is targeting Zabadani [in eastern Syria] with katyusha rockets. Oh my god. How is Hezbollah bombing with katyusha rockets?…Where are the bodies of the Hezbollah fighters? You couldn’t hide this,” he said.
Nasrallah also confirmed that the movement has received Iranian financial support since they were formed in 1982.
In recent months a string of reports in Western media have claimed that the party is involved in drug trafficking and money laundering across the world.
Nasrallah categorically denied the accusations, saying that such practices go against the party’s principles and that there was no need for such support as long as the Islamic Republic of Iran is present.
“Time and again they speak about the drug networks in Latin America and Europe and they say Hezbollah is financing these activities. This is forbidden for us,” he said.
“God, with the Islamic Republic of Iran, has enabled us not to resort to others. We are enriched, not poor, we don’t need money,” he added.
Nasrallah also used the religious occasion as an opportunity to call on Sunni and Shia Muslims to put their differences aside and unite against the common enemy of Western imperialism.
He denied accusations that Hezbollah are a sectarian organization and reiterated that he did not want Lebanon to be an Islamic state.
There has been increasing sectarian tension in Lebanon, with divides over Syria being reinforced by media reports.
“For all Muslims who worship different sects we don’t want them to be one sect. Nobody before [the Iranian Revolution] of 1979 claimed that unity means Sunni becomes Shia or Shia becomes Sunni.”
“We don’t want anyone to abandon their ideas or make concessions on Islamic ideology. Any sane person will tell you it is in the interests of the Muslims and the Christians in the East to cooperate with each other,” he said.
(english.al-akhbar.com / 07.02.2012)