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Local Editor, 12-02-2010
In light of the Resistance Week, the week of commemorating the martyred leaders Sheikh Ragheb Harb, Sayyed Abbas Moussawi, and Shahid Imad Moghnieh, moqawama.org held an exclusive interview with the Deputy Secretary-General of Hizbullah H.E. Sheikh Naim Qassem.
During the Interview, Sheikh Qassem discussed different aspects of the resistance week and its significance. He also talked about the "Israeli" threats and Hizbullah's promise to revenge for Moghnieh's assassination, in addition to tackling the different disputed issues in the Lebanese political arena.
Obama's administration, its confusion and failure had its own share in the interview as well.
Full interview With H.E. Sheikh Naim Qassem:
Q 1: Where did the idea of annual commemoration of the resistance week come from?
On the 16th of Febrauary 1984, Sheikh Ragheb Harb was assasinated, and so we decided to commemorate the first anniversary of his martyrdom on the same day in 1985. In that ceremony, we declared the first political manifesto of Hizbullah entitled "The open message", especially that the party did not have comprehensive political presentations available for the people.
Therefore, we saw that this commemoration was the best chance to announce the political start off, as during the first period since foundation, we paid great attention to the Jihad (struggle) issue but with little media appearance and political interviews.
Soon we realized clearly that the resistance cannot invest its work through developing it and achieve the desired benefits without political presence and appearance, represented by the leaders in a way or another.
And so, the first year anniversary of Sheikh Ragheb's martyrdom in 1985 was the inception point of the resistance week.
Since the event was not an ordinary one, and due to the need of holding multiple ceremonies, seminars, and activities that highlight the importance of the Islamic Resistance, a week had to be scheduled so that activities would be carried out properly in the different regions and by different factions rather than be restricted to one day.
In fact, the title of the ceremonies was the Martyr Sheikh Ragheb Harb. Later on Former Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Abbas Moussawi became an adjacent title, and recently followed by the title of the martyred leader Imad Moghnieh (May God bless them).
Consequently, if we join the last two leaders along with the leadership of Sheikh Ragheb Harb, we see that the idea of the resistance week falls in its proper place in order to make room for the different activities.
Q2: The resistance week has become a week of commemorating the martyred leaders. What effect did the assassination of the leaders leave on Hizbullah's path?
"Israel", like many others in this world, thinks that the assassination of the first symbol and prominent leader will cause a state of panic and depression, which weakens the movement.
But what they noticed that Hizbullah is very different. Every time Hizbullah loses one of its leaders, it holds responsibility in a more comprehensive way and works on filling the gaps that occurred. There are also burdens of keeping the movement ongoing. We have to prove to the enemy that we are more developed, more concerned, and stronger every time we give away martyrs who ascend to heaven.
Therefore, those observing the situation notice that Sheikh Ragheb Harb's assassination was a huge moral booster to our path, especially that an assassination of a great scholar holds symbolic meanings and is clear evidence such leaders are in the frontlines.
This embodies an important experience as the leaders do not order people to do what they do not abide by.
Then was the assassination of the martyr Sayyed Abbass Moussawi. They -very well- know Moussawi's role among the youth, how much they love him, and they realize also the progress the party has achieved in a short time during which he was Secretary General, especially on the social level, not to mention the resistance level.
But what happened is that God the Almighty blessed us with a lovable and capable leader, H.E. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Following that, the party progressed a great deal, and took benefit of what had happened before. It was inspired by the blood of martyr Sayyed Abbass Moussawi.
But today, with Imad Moghniyah being our martyr, clear it is that his martyrdom has left huge responsibility upon the party.
Thus, the party with its leaders and officials was on alert in order to fill the gaps that might arise. So, development and creativity surfaced, and more effort and investment of powers and efficiencies were displayed.
This was an additional proof that the assassination of a leader or official in Hizbullah, will have a positive impact and not the other way around, especially that all leaders expect assassination and await martyrdom. Martyrdom to us is not a reason for relapse, but it is a reason for pride.
The matter is that we miss those martyrs because they are our beloved, Mujahideen (strugglers), workers and faithful, but practically speaking, this urges people for further continuity.
The assassination of the leaders enriched the resistance process. It proved that our leadership is not in an ivory tower safeguarded; rather it is in the premise. It pays the price from itself, its children, its beloved, its comfort, and life necessities around it. This only gives our journey more power.
Q 3: It has been two years since the assassination of martyr Imad Moghniyah, and since his martyrdom, the Zionist scenarios of how Hizbullah will avenge this assassination spread around. How do you see this fear and panic of the Zionist? And does the resistance still keep its promise?
The Zionists know that as Hizbullah, when we say we act, and if we promise we keep our promise.
The promise was made by H.E. Sayyed Hassan to retaliate to the assassination, and this pledge is still on. Yet we do not specify the time and place, we see that our responsibility is to fulfill this promise in the proper way and at the right time. Because the Zionists believe in our credibility, we have noticed that they always live in obsession, taking different precautions. They threaten, fearing the revenge might take place at an undesirable time that would lead to unbearable outcomes.
Either ways, the impact of the promise is clear among the Zionists. This step is very important. What remains is the ultimate result, and this is related to the circumstances and time. God willing, it will occur at the right moment.
Q4: Everybody is convinced that there is an inevitable confrontation between Hizbullah and "Israel", nobody knows when, and the enemy threats continue. What is your reading of the constant "Israeli" threats? And is there really an upcoming war?
First, "Israel" wishes to go to war instantly so that it would get rid of a problem called Hizbullah. The "Israelis" believe that Hizbullah disrupted their colonial projects in the region. Hizbullah also drove "Israel" out of Lebanon and thus took away their power of deterrence, which they bragged about and used to frighten the whole world.
Therefore, "Israel" thinks there must be a fierce military strike on Hizbullah, yet according to their information and according to field facts; they realize that striking Hizbullah is very difficult, given that their 2006 July war experience was a failure on all levels.
Thus, how could they confront Hizbullah that benefited from the 2006 experience, and is now much stronger than before, in terms of ability of withstand and confrontation.
We see that "Israel's" desire does not fit with field circumstances and the present political reality, because "Israel" lives in a state of frustration. On one hand, it stands in the way of reconciliation, and it is notorious among people that it is the problem despite all justifications. This leaves a question mark on "Israel". A number of European leaders started to demand "Israel" to solve the problem, stating that "Israel" itself is the complex.
Second, the Goldstone report and its reflections confused them. In addition, "Israel's" image worldwide is very bad, and the world is fed up and cannot tolerate it getting worse.
Furthermore, there is Obama's administration that is still confused. It has not solved its problems neither in Iraq, nor in Afghanistan, or in the region. So how will it start a new problem and enter new war? Everyone has noticed how things roll in Lebanon towards arranging some issues and forming a national unity government, whereas the US stands still, as it is incapable of taking over Lebanon, as it has left this country as a last priority, waiting to see what it can solve in the region.
And so, considering political given, we find that the idea of war is ruled out in the near future, even though as a resistance we reiterate our readiness and preparation in confrontation as if war is to happen tomorrow, regardless of the political assessment.
Q5: In the wake of the American decision of multiplying the strategic arsenal of the Zionist enemy on one side, and the Syrian preparation and Iranian technological development on another, do you agree on Syrian foreign Minister's statement that if a war was launched on Syria or Lebanon, it will be a full scale war?
There is high tension in the region, and we can say it is on the verge of a volcano. The regional issues are intertwined and have reached a point where it has become hard to separate between its different factors.
Suppose that "Israel" along with the United States, decided to wage a war against Iran, naturally, Iran will retaliate against the American military bases and against "Israel", and then this will drag the region -in one way or another- to a comprehensive war.
The same story goes if an aggression occurred against Syria in one way or another. Who then is able to restrict the aggression and its consequences, and even if it occurred on Lebanon, who would say that it will only be at a small range or that it will expand?
The issue is that if the flame of war is triggered, we never know where it gets and to which extent it will reach, especially that "Israel" always concentrates on carrying maneuvers to confront a possible battle with Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas in Gaza. When maneuvers are based upon such intent, this means "Israel" intends to drag the region to a war, regardless of the views of the other parties in the region on how to deal with it.
In fact, we are before a war which if takes place, "Israel" will be the one to start it because Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizbullah do not have the intention in starting a battle or being the cause of the breaking out a war.
So who can trigger off a war then? It is "Israel" that always threatens, and it basically built its entity on war and aggression.
Based on this, nobody can predict the extent of war, if it starts in any place of the region.
We should not exhaust ourselves with analyzing the extent and size of the war because there are many possibilities, and each kind of aggression has got its proper retaliation. So if it is a comprehensive aggression, the retaliation will be comprehensive as well. And if it is limited, maybe the retaliation will be more than limited.
I do not know what will be the nature of the "Israeli" aggression. But I can assure that Hizbullah is in a defensive position and not in the position of initiating a war.
The case is the same for the other parties; Iran, Syria and Hamas. Therefore, we can say that "Israel" will decide if there will be a war in the region or not.
As for the parties confronting "Israel", they are also in a defensive state and not in the position of taking a decision of waging war.
Q6: Moving on to the political issue, after Parlaiment Speaker Nabih Berri suggested the formation of the national body to eliminate political sectarianism, we have witnessed an argument between Berri and the Head of the Free Patriotic Movement General Aoun. This gap widened more with bringing up the subject of lowering the voting age. To what extent does this issue threaten the unity of the opposition? And what impact does it have today?
There has been a misunderstanding in the coordination of the national body issue in order to eliminate political sectarianism and in the issue of the voting age. Thus, this has led to a contrast in the approach of dealing with these two subjects by Parliament speaker Berri on one hand and by General Aoun on the other.
If there had been more accurate coordination, we would have overcome these echoes which have been made by the media.
But thank God, given the fact that the intentions are good, and as the opposition blocs agree on the basic rules and are determined to be united, there was a "coordination meeting" between the political assistant to the Secretary General and the political assistant to Speaker Berri along with the minister Jebran Basil representing General Aoun.
All the issues that were disputed in the political and media arena were discussed. In addition, an agreement was reached on dealing with these issues, and on going back to direct discussion away from the spotlight, and that is what happened.
We have seen during the past few days how coordination has been effective. Minister Bassil visited Speaker Berri in order to coordinate some issues. Therefore, there is no need to fear for the opposition as it is united, and it is in the best interest of all parties to be united.
Of course Hizbullah wants it to be so. Hizbullah is ready to exert every effort to fill gaps that may occur as it is normal that different views exist among the factions of the opposition.
Q7: What is the expected resolution to the dispute over lowering the voting age?
We will not be nervous in case the Election Age act is withdrawn by the government in response to demands by parties such as the Free Patriotic Movement whose Minister Gibran Bassil demanded that the withdrawal be placed on the Ministerial agenda. We have been very clear on the subject. We are the ones who took the initiative to sign the act. We are the ones who took the first step to announce our adoption of the age of 18 benchmark. In any case, if the act fails to be adopted pass the required route, we will not use this as grounds for discord. To the contrary, we will consider the act a law we would have loved to see pass, and in case it didn't pass this time, it could pass later.
But if the act were to be voted on in parliament and could not be withdrawn, in all frankness we will vote for the act. Sides from the opposition might vote against the act. We will maintain out realism and accept the opposing viewpoint, and other sides will accept our stance regardless of the success or failure of the act.
This represents an example of disagreement within the opposition leading to no problems within the opposition itself. We deliberated over the subject among ourselves and agreed that in the event that we arrived at a point where incongruity would become evident, it wouldn't lead to a problem within the opposition. We would prefer not to be placed in a situation in which we would vote with and against [the same act as an opposition].
Q8: How do you perceive the Islamic Resistance experience in Lebanon's political life?
The resistance produced an excellent jihad work experience. It has also strived to offer a positive experience in politics. However, political work in Lebanon is completely different than Jihad work and confronting "Israel". I may even say that one political success is equivalent to fifty or a hundred successful Jihad successes. The reason goes back to the fact that in Jihad there is no room for division; there can only be sacrifice, and we are practiced in sacrifice.
But in political work there may be interests, benefits, overlapping in sectarian, regional, or personal issues, in addition to many complicated matters which are difficult to resolve for a good reason: the country is home to everyone, and no single party may solitarily take it in a direction. One is obliged to work with others. Therefore, if a certain icon or personality or party decides it doesn't want to work properly and hinders and complicates matters, then it will afflict us and other people as well.
Therefore in political work, we try our best to set an example. It's not easy to see important or huge or quick achievements because in Lebanon, matters progress slowly and there are many obstacles. After all, we had our try with parliamentary elections and accepted the results. This is truly significant. We also gave a try at ministerial work. We set our example with our ministers in their monetary integrity and administrative performance. We also have a parliamentary experience.
We strive hard in the people's interest. To everyone's witness, our parliamentary bloc is always the first to debate acts, motions, and projects, and the first to follow up on these matters. But in this country, our achievements will always be lower than our aspirations.
Q9: What is Hizbullah's position on the municipal elections? Is Hizbullah with or against delaying the election?
We are still deliberating the matter trough the cabinet and Minister Ziad Baroud's suggestions. We will wait and see what the mood in cabinet is. We have no problem at all if it is held on time, and we have no problem at all if the sides involved agree to a short delay which would not hinder the proper execution of the election in a climate void of tension.
In other words, Hizbullah is not troubled by the timing issue in both cases, if it is held on time or if is delayed on condition that the concerned parties agree on the benefit of delaying it.
Q10: How do you regard the Bristol statement? Will Hizbullah participate in the commemoration ceremonies for Premier Rafik Hariri?
I would rather we didn't exaggerate things. What happened at the Bristol Hotel was a meeting to prepare for the commemoration of Premier Rafik Hariri on March 14th by a group that believes it is entitled to commemorate him in this manner. They are free to do as they wish. Therefore it the question ‘Are you going to participate' can't be asked because the commemoration ceremony would adopt a unique Bristol-meeting manner. Why would we jump the line on a matter that could cause a problem for them and for us?
Let things take their natural course. Let them commemorate him whichever way they please. And the circumstances might change in the future allowing for different approaches to the commemoration. Then there would be no rivalry over a matter that shouldn't pose a problem for anyone. It's the loss of a person we ought to commemorate with no complications in a manner similar to that which the families of those lost conduct commemorations, big and small, conduct, or in a manner which people interested in reviving his memory find appropriate.
Q11: How would you describe the relationship today with the Future movement?
The mood is better than before. We hold intensified meetings with Premier Hariri on issues concerning the government and the country. This, in turn, is reflected positively on the relationship with the Future Movement. Yet there are no direct practical steps between Hizbullah and the Future Movement. However the mood is better and more flexible than before. We see no reason why we can't reinforce communication and coordination on some matters to ease the general mood in the country. Our relationship with the Future Movement is a normal, tensionless relationship which, at the same time, has not developed well. It could be better, and we are ready to make it that way.
Q12: At what level is the relationship between Hizbullah and the PSP? What progress has Hizbullah made in attempting to pave the way for MP Walid Jumblatt's visit to Syria?
Hizbullah's relationship with the PSP is developing at a fast pace. We are coordinating on a number of issues, and, thank God, it is safe to say we have shut the door behind us on the tense climate in the Choueifat meeting. Hence, there is ongoing communication and cooperation in matters requiring cooperation.
As to Mr. Jumblatt's visit to Syria, the matter has its own due course. The visit will take place when the circumstances ripen. I would prefer that the media not circulate the topic too much so nobody gets offended. The media has circulated the topic to a point where it has become embarrassing for the concerned parties. Everyone knows Hizbullah is interested in resolving all problematic issues and aiding more reconciliation. We hope Mr. Jumblatt visits Syria soon.
Q13: Your Eminence mentioned the US administration earlier and described it as ‘confused'. One year after US President Barack Obama's inauguration, how do you evaluate his performance in the past year?
I fail to find a positive point in Obama's year-long period in office. He is drowning in failures. He proved incapable of fulfilling a single promise he made, at least on the level of politics in our region. If we take a close look at Palestine, we'll find that the current US administration covers all "Israel's" criminal actions: the Gaza siege, the continuation of settlement building, and crippling Palestinians' lives. This occurs whereas the US government provides "Israel" with more armament, training, political sponsorship in the United Nations and protection from the Goldstone report, in addition to doing everything to disburden "Israel" in its international and regional status at one fell swoop.
This is a biased stance, denoting only that the Obama administration is not serious about finding a solution. Obama even admitted that he gave an inappropriate overdose of hope. In reality what he did manage to do was to attempt to pressure Arabs on the pretext that if they weren't cowards, they would normalize relations [with "Israel"] for nothing in return, something no Arab ruler can do. History proved this impossible.
What has Obama succeeded in? He's sent thirty thousand troops to Afghanistan; this is an escalation. What has he done in Iraq? He continues its occupation while the Iraqis pay the price dearly for his occupation. What has he achieved in the region? He boosted the race for armament and sponsors ‘creating' a problem among the regional states.
On Iran: He could have easily reached an agreement with Iran to swap Uranium for peaceful enrichment under the watchful eye of the IAEA. Why do they insist on subjugating Iran and hindering its strive for nuclear power in a normal manner?
All of this points to the failure of the Obama administration.
We have no hope [on Obama] as long as politics moves in this direction and as long as the US keeps thinking it can subjugate the world by force, ignoring the feelings, needs, and the demands and justice of the region,
In: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Middle East
Tags: Hezbollah, lebanon, Iran, nasrallah, Mognieh, website, terror, jihad, cihaderi, beirut, insurgent, shia, islam, Imad
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