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|INTERVIEW: Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah
"Intifadah is the most important issue in the region"
Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah is the secretary general of Hizbullah, the legendary resistance force which forced the Israelis to flee from south Lebanon in the summer of 2000, a first in Arab history when the zionist occupier fled without any conditions whatsoever. This also demonstrated that Hizbullah way is the only method to deal with the Israeli occupation. PLO, having abandoned this way is still lost in the maze of Oslo. History has not seen more wicked negotiators than the zionists who do not mind re-negotiating issues settled after years of hair-splitting.
Hizbullah is still a resistance force in south Lebanon which fears fresh Israeli invasion anytime. The Israelis still occupy the Shib'aa farms of south Lebanon. Hizbullah is also a respected political and social force in the Lebanese society and enjoys the trust of the Lebanese people and state who are grateful that its sacrifices cleansed the homeland of the zionist occupation.
MG editor Zafarul-Islam Khan was recently in Beirut. He interviewed Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah in his formidable Bir al-Abd headquarters which have time and again bore the brunt of Israeli aerial aggression. Excerpts:
|You achieved a historical victory which was not possible even for large Arab armies. What is the position on the front now. Has the Shib'aa Farms issue been solved? We no longer hear about engagements with the Israeli occupation although you had said two years ago that resistance will continue until Shib'aa is freed…
After liberating most of the occupied lands the Lebanese Resistance took up a number of responsibilities. First, to liberate what still remained under occupation in the Shib'aa Farms area but you should know that Shib'aa Farms is a very small and narrow strip.
Our second responsibility was to work for the liberty of the prisoners in Israeli jails. We are not working for the freedom of only Lebanese prisoners whose numbers are not very large in any case. Instead we want to seek the freedom of all the political prisoners, that is those arrested by Israel for their support to the resistance in Palestine. There are large numbers of Palestinian youth in addition to a smaller number of Jordanians, Syrians and people from other nationalities.
Our third responsibility was to safeguard our military mobilisation in Lebanon since Lebanon faces constant Israeli threat. Israelis always threaten to wage another war against Lebanon. Resistance is developing the conditions in order to be able to face a war like this. Added to this is our new priority: to support the Intifadah (uprising) inside occupied Palestine. Everyone knows that the level of cooperation and coordination between Hizbullah and the Intifadah is high. Our main task is to support our Palestinian brothers so that they may continue to resist and continue their Intifadah which is the most important issue in the region.
As regards operations in the Shib'aa Farms area, we do undertake operations from time to time despite the fact that it is a very small area which does not suit big operations of the kind we used to undertake in the past.
But the fact is that it is not the question of Shib'aa Farms. The struggle is one and it cannot be divided into Lebanese and Palestinian. Israel is threatening the whole region. We consider ourselves in a single war. We are one part of it and the Intifadah in Palestine is the other part. Today the Intifadah in Palestine represents the frontline and we do whatever we can to support it.
How is your relationship with the Lebanese State now after the disarming of the militias. Isn't it true that Hizbullah has now turned into a political party?
No, no disarming has taken place. Hizbullah's arm is not for the Lebanese interior. This arm exists in the south of Lebanon in the vicinity of the borders of Israel which usurps Palestine. The Lebanese State continues to support the existence of the resistance. The Lebanese people too continue to support the resistance. They know that the resistance is a power for Lebanon.
The existence of the resistance alone stops any new Israeli aggression and ensures a kind of balance. The Israelis threaten Lebanon a lot but they have not dared to unleash a new aggression. A few weeks ago, and for the first time, Lebanon was able to benefit from water in the south without Israeli approval. In 1965 the whole Arab League stood by the side of Lebanon which had built a water facility at the source of the Wazzani river but the Israelis bombarded it. Now Lebanon is alone and yet Israel did not dare to bombard the new water facility due to the presence of the resistance which had threatened that it will reciprocate with a similar strike against northern occupied Palestine. Israel says that Hizbullah has a large number of rockets of various distances and therefore it takes Hizbullah into its account before any aggression. Lebanese people know very well that the powerful and armed existence of Hizbullah in the south is a powerful deterrent to any Israeli aggression. Therefore this arm continues and no one has disarmed it. On the contrary, this arm enjoys the official and popular support of Lebanon. True, there are American pressures but there is no pressure from the Lebanese government. Rather there is coordination between Hizbullah and the Lebanese government in respect of Israeli threats to Lebanon.
At the same time Hizbullah all these years of its armed resistance has also functioned as a political party inside Lebanon. It has its media, social and educational organisations. It has deputies in the Lebanese parliament and it takes part in the municipal elections. A number of municipalities are headed by Hizbullah people. Hizbullah enjoys vast political relations in Lebanon. It functions inside Lebnaon as a political party and on the front as a force of armed resistance.
Your achievements on the resistance front were stunning. Did you match them up in social, political and educational fields?
In fact resistance is one of the main reasons for the popular support Hizbullah enjoys in Lebanon. But we are supported also for our other activities. Hizbullah runs a large number of schools and educational facilities in poor areas while at the same time supporting other educational institutions so that these may absorb larger number of students from poor areas.
Hizbullah also runs healthcare institutions like hospitals, clinics and health centres in various areas. It has institutions to take care of the families of martyrs and prisoners. It also has institutions to support the poor who have no supporters in their families. It also offers financial, food and health benefits to these poor and provides a roof over their heads. It helps them to become productive and offers them job opportunities. Hizbullah also has media institutions like Manar TV, which is known to you. It also has a radio station which is almost radio number one in Lebanon.
Our presence in the municipalities helps us to develop poor areas. Here in the southern suburb of Beirut Hizbullah runs the municipality like some other areas in south Lebanon. In a nutshell, Hizbullah is active in all fields. We have a powerful women's organisation. We have a very powerful students' organisation which is active in Lebanese universities. We also have a scouts organisation which takes care of children of up to 15 years of age. It is called Imam Mahdi Scouts which is Lebanon's largest.
I can say that there is no field of educational, trade union activity where we are not present. For instance we have guilds for physicians, engineers, chemists, accountants, businessmen and the like. They all belong to Hizbullah and take part along with other Lebanese societies in the elections of the professional syndicates and trade unions.
Hizbullah tried to be present in all fields and it is open to all other forces and cooperates with them. This is one of the main reasons why the Lebanese are not afraid of Hizbullah. They are not afraid of the resistance because Hizbullah is open to relations with all. If we had better elections we will win more seats in Parliament, much more than our present strength of 12 deputies who belong to all communities and are committed to the line of Hizbullah. There are certain complications and pressures. Otherwise the real representational and popular strength of Hizbullah is much more than this.
How are your relations with Amal Movement out of whose belly Hizbullah emerged?
To start with, it is not accurate to say that Hizbullah emerged from the belly of Amal. The fact is that when Hizbullah was established in 1982 in the wake of the Israeli invasion it comprised a number of groups. One of these groups came out of Amal. Another group was active under the name of Al-Da'wah Al-Islamiyah which had its origins in Iraq just like some Islamic movements have their origin in India. This was a Lebanese group which had its origins in Iraq. There were other independent Islamic groups which were not affiliated to any party or organisation. There were also some university professors who were active independently. All of them sat together and established Hizbullah.
Therefore, Hizbullah did not come out of anybody's belly. It was not a splinter group. Rather it was an expression of the coalition of a number of Islamic groups which came close after the Israeli onslaught. They all believed in a clear Islamic resistance to occupation and therefore they united. In the beginning it was akin to coalition but now it is a single party, a single organisation and a single movement. Today it does not sport anything related to its previous condition. It has a single line and single spirit.
It is well known that Hizbullah is Lebanon's most well-knit and most active organisaiton. We cooperate with Amal in all shared fields. There is positive competition which does not rise to confrontation although we are active in same areas. We are very keen on coordination and cooperation as far as possible. This understanding rules our relations with Amal.
What do you say about the current situation. Do you see a possibility of the US diverting its attention to Hizbullah as a movement resisting Israel?
Israeli government's priority is to get rid of Hizbullah, Hamas and Al-Jihad Al-Islami, that is all resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon. America too is concerned with this priority and therefore it places us on its list of "terrorist organisations" and pressurises all our friends and supporters and accuses them of supporting terrorism. It squeezes us in various regions and pursues our brothers who it claims are affiliated to us. It also pressurises Iran and Syria and Lebanon so that they may in turn pressurises us.
During the last few months they have eased pressure on us since Iraq is their priority now. But still there are Congressmen and officials in the US administration who from time to time attack Hizbullah and accuse it of terrorism and threaten us of the difficult accounting ahead.
Now that the US Security Council has passed its resolution number 1441 and the world is looking at the return of the inspectors to Iraq, the Iraqi affair may be delayed for a few months. During these few months they will return to focus on Hizbullah, Hamas and Al-Jihad Al-Islami especially because Jihad operations are taking place in occupied Palestine. This night [Nov. 15] is a blessed night because a great operation has taken place inside Palestine. In Al-Khalil [Hebron] area there are a number of Israeli occupation army casualties. We anticipate pressures in the coming weeks as before or even heavier than before.
In any case we are used to all this during the last twenty years which we have spent under pressures and threats and continuous Israeli aggressions and American threats of war against Lebanon and Hizbullah. Our assets have been confiscated and our men chased around. All this is not new to us. We believe in what we do. We are defending our people, our land, our sacred places. Whoever takes up such a responsibility has to bear all consequences. We know from the beginning whom we face. We anticipate more pressures and we, Allah willing, also enjoy faith, courage and ability to face such threats.
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