Hassan Nasrallah’s TV Interview

I should first explain that we in the US can’t watch Hezbollah’s TV station Al-Manar. Zionists in US Congress decide what we can watch on the Middle East and what we can’t watch. At one point, they wanted to ban Al Jazeera, but lately they have grown fond of the network after the eruption of the Arab uprisings. They must have heard of the role the network is playing on the side of the Arab counter-revolution. They not only banned Al-Manar TV but they declared it a terrorist organization. Nasrallah’s interview aired on the station Tuesday was intended to address both domestic and Arab issues. But his view on the Arab uprisings was the most interesting. He seems to disagree with his own media when he asserted that Arab uprisings are not part of a US conspiracy. Hezbollah media, including Al-Manar, have been promoting the silliest conspiratorial scenarios regarding the Arab uprisings. Such scenarios have become popular among advocates of the Syrian regime. Al-Manar website features such outlandish conspiracy theories that last week they had one scenario in which Prince Bandar personally disguised himself and snuck into Syria to implement the Zionist conspiracy against Syria and to kill Imad Mughniyah.

Nasrallah unwittingly distanced himself from his media in his analysis of Arab uprisings. But his analysis of Syria fell short of showing respect for the Syrian people and their legitimate grievances against the regime. He dwelled on the virtues of the foreign policies of the regime as if they suffice for the population to be content. He spoke about reform in Syria while talking about a conspiracy against the regime. Of course, the conspiracy against the regime is real, but the popular uprising against the Syrian regime is all too real aswell. The people who are taking to the streets in Syria are not tools of a foreign conspiracy. Also, Nasrallah failed to deliver sympathy to the Syrian people who are opposed to the regime. He failed to convince them that his support for the regime is not insensitive to their plight as a population living under a dictatorship. To be sure, Nasrallah points out the double standards in Western and Arab media treatment of the uprising of Syria, versus the treatment of the uprisings or protests in Bahrain or Jordan or any other pro-US dictatorship. But that is not the fault or the making of the Syrian people. There was an opportunity for Nasrallah to express consistent support for Arab uprisings, but he did not. He basically invokes the inconsistency of Western attitudes toward Arab uprisings, as if that justifies the inconsistent attitude by Hezbollah. This is not to necessarily argue that his stance toward Syria is dictated by sectarian calculations, as is implied by sectarian-obsessed Saudi/Hariri media. It is more likely that Hezbollah relations with Syria are more political, especially if one remembers the early phase in the history of Hezbollah when it clashed repeatedly and violently with the Syrian regime. In 1987, Syrian troops entered Beirut and inaugurated their new rule by massacring a number of Hezbollah fighters. (Of course, Hezbollah’s alliance with Shiite sectarian forces in Iraq, including with groups that are part of the local structure of the occupation, and their silence vis-à-vis Sistani’s services to the occupation, can only be explained in sectarian terms.)

Hezbollah has a Syria problem: the traditional esteem that most Syrians held Nasrallah with is now a thing of the past, despite continued support by Syrians who support the regime. Hezbollah first reacted to the Arab uprisings by showing enthusiastic support for the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Here were two regimes that were clients of the US and who cooperated with Israel. Hezbollah was very pleased to have them go. And Hezbollah, unlike several Iranian leaders, did not comment on the Arab uprisings by making silly arguments that they were inspired by Iran’s revolution. The last time the Iranian revolution inspired any Arab was more than three decades ago. It is a thing of the past. But when the uprising hit Syria, Hezbollah changed course. Long gone were the cheers and enthusiasm. Suddenly, Hezbollah media started sensing an outside Zionist conspiracy. For some inexplicable reason, Hezbollah could not understand why the Syrian people who have suffered from decades of dictatorial rule by the Assad family would be inclined to depose the regime.

Nasrallah revealed that deep down, the party is aware of the Syrian popular criticisms of its stance, although that stance is being exploited by sectarian Saudi/Qatari media. But one can’t stand with a dictatorial regime while hoping to win support of the people under its rule.

Comments

One thing I wish As'ad Abu Khalil dealt with in depth in his coverage of Nasrallah's speech was the argument that the majority of the population still support the regime, regardless of how grotesque it is. This, in Nasrallah's opinion, makes it a totally different picture from Libya, Yemen, Bahrain etc. where such support for the regime is not in place.

(from a larger post on my blog: http://naseemmitrah.blogspot.com/)

comrade as'ad, it is about time to understand or to admit that what is going on in syria is the second chapitre of the tammouz 2006 zionist war on lebanon. come on comrade, for potatoes' sake!!! can u really seperate what is going on in syria from what is being cooked for the whole region since 2005, 2006, 2008(gaza and 5-7 ayyar)... and now syria 2011???!!! dont u see a logic sequence of unsuccessful zio-gulfo-american attempts to destroy the Resistance front?????????

To be fair as'ad does admit the existence of a foreign plot against syria. His appraoch is multithreaded though: get rid of all injustices at once. It's admirable, but just unrealistic. That isn't to say Hezbollah should sacrifice the syrian people and leave them to suffer for the sake of the greater good. It's not their decision anyways.
As far as foreign plots are concerned, Fawwaz Traboulsi in his book A history of modern Lebanon cites british declassified documents which speak of plans by CIA/MI6 to commit acts of sabotage in Lebanon,Iraq,Jordan and Turkey serving as a pretext for those countries to invade syria and topple its ba'thist regime. The plan was to be facilitated with internal uprisings. It appeared that none of the countries agreed to participate except Turkey. This is back in 1957.

Hezbeleb, who are you kidding?! Hezbollah's Shi'ite allies in Iraq planned the Iraq war with the Jewish Neo-cons and rode in on American tanks with nary a word from Hezbollah proving it's sectarian colours that when it's allies collaborate with the Americans, it's A-ok for Hezbollah.

In politics it's natural for close allies not to break ties or weaken each other and to have a certain level of accommodation at multiple levels. It's naive to think otherwise. The examples are numerous. There are no exceptions in this matter.
Idealistic and dogmatic intellectuals are largely marginal and ineffective, to say the least. The reason that they do not have a significant role is their inability to prioritize for reaching even the most popular of their political goals. They're commended for their strict principals, but historically they are largely irrelevant, it's an unfortunate reality of life and politics.
Good politics is what is possible and desirable with minimal overall loss. There are no ideal regimes anywhere but the hope is to improve and increase awareness that will cause the desirable change with the least human, material and economic loss that all people will suffer from, especially poor people.
If Assad declares that he does not want to make reforms, then As'ad would be correct. Same thing if a reasonable period of time passes without change.
Nassrallah mentioned the need for Libyans to have a truce and move on to build their country, institutions and society. Rightly so, he's against internal violence in a country in favor of dialog not dogma.
That does not mean there should not be accountability to any criminal act by anyone. The Syrian people will have to find the best formula for themselves, they should not wait for anyone to tell them what to do.

If any of these uprisings, even by a large majority vote, decides not to support the regional common struggle against Israel then I'm against them. The hope again is that they would all not lose sight of the main regional struggle, the liberation of Palestine.

The author is obviously a man of conviction and does not tolerate any one, any country, any organization which sees its own interests as paramount. He sees things as very black and white, no grey (and he can certainly afford to). I don't believe that Hizbullah can afford to lose the Syria regime in its current form, this is truly a extistential threat. Equally, anyone who does not see the sectarian nature of the syrian revolution (which Asa'ad also wrote about) is blinding themselves. I should not even have to mention the united states clear hand in directing its regional proxies to support the syria opposition. I think its simply a case of Hizbullah trying to rationalize its support for the regime in syria, just as the US is trying to take advantage of situation to get rid of the Asad regime which is the only serious road block to forcing any new regime to make peace with Israel in exchange for a lavish peace dividend, as was the case for Egypt and Jordan. Anyone who thinks that the generals in cairo didn't get their marching orders from washington or at least the ok, is kidding themselves. It was a damage limitation excercise, better to lose one man than the whole country (same applies for the recent actions in Yemen).

Hassan Nasrallah has always been very clear and very consistent on the purpose and mission of Hizbullah: they are a national resistance movement whose only priority is defending Lebanon against foreign aggression.

The Syrian regime played a vital role in supporting the Lebanese resistance, especially in 2006, when it allowed arms to be transported to Lebanon via Syrian territory.

Given the fact that Lebanon has no alternative land route, what's Nasrallah supposed to do? Alienate the regime that made it possible for Lebanon to resist the latest Israeli invasion? What if those who overthrow the Asad regime turn out to be agents of Israel's patron, the US (or their Saudi proxies)?

And what if Israel decides to invade Lebanon yet again, and Hizbullah is blockaded on all sides, at the mercy of the Israelis?

I'm sure that Nasrallah sympathizes with the Syria people's desire to be free, but as he has made eminently clear on many occasions, his responsibility is above all to Lebanon.

The moral approval of all those now criticizing Nasrallah will be worth what, exactly, when that happens?

I understand the need for reform in Syria but overthrowing the regime is the worst way to achieve this, unless one wants to see Syria go through what Iraq and Libya have. Nasrallah is a wise and honest man. We need more leaders like him.

yeah right like the kings in in Bahrain. They are very wise. We must bring the Bath Party back in iraq of course. It was much calmer than.

Bahrain king? Libya's NATO rulers brought back king's flag, not mentioning other nice things. And it was up to Iraqis, not to USA decide what to do with Bath party.

Anyway, the same forces are helping Bahrain king, raping Libya and threatening Syria. Nasrallah is NOT one of them.

so why the syrian people can decide for themselves. With free elections in Libya, there would be no foreign intervention. But Gadafi wanted to play the Assad-Game.

yes, sure, all NATO bombs are about "free election". In Bahrain they have such election, right? Because of it NATO is NOT bombing Bahrain?

Should I list all times when USA toppled elected, but not lackeys of USA, rulers?

And just look into Afghanistan - what a nice election they have now, have they not?

In short, the only reason for imperialist aggression is not such nonsense as "free election" lack, but the lack of slavish obedience for imperialist masters.

In Syria, they have Saudi and USA intervention NOW, what it has to do with Syrian people?

And Iran has no imperialist agenda right. No of course not. China and Russia love arabs too right. When the iranian intelligence infiltrating the iraqi intelligence than it`s alright. As long as it is not NATO right. Iran is also not sectarian. This is why not a single sunni is left in Baghdad. not to mention the situation of iranian sunnis. Why don`t bring iraqi Bath party back. No. Because it`s sunni right?. Assad Baath Party and elite is shia. So it`s ok. I know from my own experience with iranians regardless of political views that Anti-Arabism is part of there Identity.

"Assad Baath Party and elite is shia"

Hmm, I have thought I was arguing with some well-meaning but ill-informed person. Now, I see that KH is a sectarian one, who prefers USA/Israel/Saudis to Iran only because Iran "is shia". I am an atheist Jew, and I would not give a damn who is shia and who is not. Iran under Shah (USA-installed and Israel-loved) was shia as well. So what? I would never support such Iran.

By the way, Iran happened to be the ME state, so it does have some to do with the ME. Last time I checked USA, UK and other NATO states only reason to be in the ME is colonialism.

Yes, Russia and China support Iran not out of big-heartness. But they both are not waging several aggressive wars all over the world just now - and NATO is.

Now, imperialism is NOT about simply wanting to have influence over one's borders. " imperialism has to do with capitalism, capitalist accumulation, transfer of wealth from other countries to the imperial centre, extraction of surplus value from the labouring masses of the imperialised countries, the enrichment of the imperialist bourgeoisie, enforcement of capitalist relations of production in the dominated countries etc etc." In short, it is about what NATO is about, but not Iran.

Now, if one has some grievances with post-Saddam Iraq one should first of all blame USA/NATO. Esp, if one supported their "regime change" aggression. Without such aggression there would be NOT Iran influence in Iraq. One really has to be more prudent in one's wishes, or be ready to consequences if one is not.

But mr As'ad AbuKhalil, tell me or give me a definition of what you call "the syrian people"? Is the syrian people those millions who demonstrated their support to Bashar elAssad two days ago in Damascus and Aleppo and Lattakya? Or the syrian people are ONLY those few hudreds of supposed "thowwar" aired pemanently on Aljazioneera tv and Alarabyya? Just tell me, from a democratic point of view, who represents more the syrian people???

Obviously you are very naive and most probably never lived in Syria. You are free to believe what you like but the fact remains that if those pro-Bashar demonstrators do NOT attend the rallies they are screwed and so are their female family members. Bashar should he is a lion against his own people but a mouse towards the zionists who at any time and any place w/o warning fly their jets over the MOUSE's palace and bomb any location while the MOUSE can choose to retaliate at the time and place he feels he chooses! what a bunch of cowards, cancers, we need to expel them.

well, no matter how many "if" u put to try to redraw the image and try to persuade us that YOU few hundreds are the people, the fact is (or the factual reality is) that millions of syrian people are demostrating their support for bashar elassad, while YOU, few hundreds, only have the support of the petro-dollars and aljazeera&co (which never made any revolution succeed). and the other fact is that all those who think they are performing a revolution in syria, aren't but lousy people, coz after more than seven months, you are INCAPABLE of bringing down the regime! waw, what a revolution!!!
a real revolution doesn't need to seek help from outside, a real revolution doesn't need any Security Council vote or a "no fly zone", a real revolution doesn't need fake media to aquire froce and reliability. a real revolution is a devastating storm that nothing stops. but you, after seven months, you cant even perform one single national strike!!!

oh yeah. So let the people decide. A few hundreds. Of course if they are surrounded by military forces. I have never known before that syrian hasbra trolls exist. Until now. I have a question. What about the children that were tortured to death. Of corse the salafist did that right?

Silence with regard to Sistani's alleged services to the occupation cannot be seen as sectarian unless Hizbullah has treated non-Shi'i clerics with comparable stands differently. In point of fact, Hizbullah has not criticized Sunni or Christian clerics for "services to occupation" unless they have legitimized or supported such an occupation. One may criticize Hizbullah for setting a low bar in terms of which clerics it refrains from criticizing, but to imply that there is a sectarian bias reflects As`ad's own sectarian lenses more so than Hizbullah's.
And in terms of Hizbullah's "alliance" with Shiite sectarian forces, it's difficult to see how that can "only" be explained in sectarian terms. Certainly, in view of Hizbullah's diplomacy with non-Shi'i religious and political forces, especially the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia, other plausible explanations can be found. The said diplomacy may be frustratingly restrained, and it may even be sectarian, but to say that is the "only" possible explanation again reveals no more than As'ad's own biases.

But are they really trying to win the support of the syrian people under its dictatorial rule or democratic rule? I mean they certainly do care about who would take over after the fall of Assad, but it's not prudent at all to immediately switch from support of Assad prior to March 2011 to complete condemnation, when there was strong indication early on that the country was the target of a foreign plot.
I also fail to see why meeting with shia iraqi figures and their respect to Sistani as an religious figure is proof positive of sectarianism. I don't think sectarianism is the right term here. So in other words as'ad is saying that a shia political figure cannot meet with another shia without it being sectarian. Does As'ad mean that whenever Hezbollah meet with Iraqi shia clerics they plot against sunnis. If they don't, then his claim is meaningless and irrelevant.

Let the people decide. Like in Iraq. Ok. Do you understand?. The iraqi people decided for schwa rule. And thats there right. Let the syrians decide in a election.

no I don't understand. your reply is a complete non-sequitur unfortunately. Where did I say that they shouldn't decide their fate.

.

Than why they shoot on demonstrators. Why they torture children and people in general all over the place. I want that bahrain have free election as I want that Syria have free election. If the Bahrainis decide that they want to be Part of Iran. Than be it.

. "I want that bahrain have free election as I want that Syria have free election." Nice. And I want see be made of apple juice.

Free election is just words. If Saudis could buy votes, there is NO possibility of such thing. And, anyway, if USA/Israel do not like the result of the elections, they always could bomb the people who voted "not right". Or to use another means, just as nice. Bahrain rulers are supported by the same forces that attack Syria, so it is clear that there has to be something difference between Bahrain and Syria. And the difference is not about "free election", but about imperialism and Zionism - Bahrain rulers are OK with it, but Syria's ones are not so much.

By the way I have never heard from protesters in Bahrain that they want "to be Part of Iran". It is Saudi/USA/Israel anti-Iranian propaganda's claim that in Bahrain it is an Iranian plot and not a domestic movement.

I think the point made was not about meeting other Shia political or religious figures.
The point is about supporting those figures that are cooperating with the American occupation in Iraq while being opposed to the Israeli occupation in Palestine and Lebanon.

So they oppose the American/Israeli occupation and their allies everywhere BUT not in Iraq (incidentally those allies where shia!!!). The inconsistent policy is obviously sectarian in nature.

you're blurring the lines between meeting with Iraqi shia clerics (for whatever reason) and supporting them(iraqi shia clerics) in their lack of resistance (or even support) of the american occupation. If you don't want to go to that deep a level of debate as to why does hezbollah meet with the iraqi shia clerics, then calling it inconsistency in position is adequate and fine though not necessarily true. But they can't be sectarian because of that reason. Because they meet with non-shias who share the same position w/r to the occupation.

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