Nasrallah opens his Iranian playbook

Published: 23 April 2015
Nasrallah opens his Iranian playbook
©AP Images

During his recent visit to #Lebanon to hold talks with government officials, the US Deputy Secretary-of-State Antony Blinken found #Hezbollah’s policies perplexing. “If I am Lebanese and I want my country to be peaceful and stable, it’s hard to understand their actions,” he said. His criticism was levelled at #Hezbollah’s military support for the Assad regime, which Blinken asserts is contributing to the refugee crisis in #Lebanon and serves as a recruiting tool for the #Islamic_State in neighbouring #Syria.

In reality, there is nothing perplexing about #Hezbollah’s behaviour when, although its members hold Lebanese nationality, their loyalty is firmly with the ayatollahs in #Iran – and always has been since its founding in 1980s. #Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan #Nasrallah receives his directives from #Iran’s Supreme Leader, so it stands to reason that he would agree to join the fight, irrespective of whether that decision harmed his own country’s security or economy.

Similarly #Nasrallah’s remarks pertaining to the Saudi-led #Arab intervention in #Yemen could have just as well emerged from the mouth of the Ayatollah Ali #Khamenei’s ventriloquists dummy. Just like his master in Qom, he launched a vicious attack on #Saudi_Arabia. “Yemenis do not need to prove their #Arab or Islamic identity,” he said. “It’s those invading #Yemen who must prove they are real Arabs...”

He should be challenged to prove he is a real Lebanese when a true son of the soil would feel gratitude for last Monday’s delivery of French-made weapons and anti-tank missiles, paid for by #Saudi_Arabia as part of a US$ 3 billion Saudi initiative to upgrade the Lebanese Army.

Adding insult to injury, he threatened the Kingdom, saying, “The revolutionary leadership of Ansar Allah, this great leader Badr Al-Din Al-Houthi, now has the chance to attack and infiltrate into #Saudi_Arabia; however, he doesn’t because he is performing what is called ‘strategic patience’.” At last, a glimmer of truth from his lips!

#Saudi_Arabia, that is #Iran’s end game, not the #Arab World’s poorest country #Yemen that’s fast running out of natural resources, including clean water.

#Nasrallah is acting true to form. But I was shocked to see a ‘Breaking News’ strap line on Future TV that read: “#Nasrallah’s speech against #Saudi_Arabia is just one of big mistakes added to [his] many mistakes.” I was further surprised to read the Future Movement’s uncharacteristically vehement response to his anti-Saudi rhetoric, which cut to the core of the problem. Its leader, #Saad_Hariri didn’t mince words. He accused #Hezbollah’s chief of importing his rhetoric from #Iran and of using “falsification and deception” detrimental to #Lebanon’s interests on Twitter.

In a statement, Hariri slammed #Hezbollah for luring Tele Liban into airing #Nasrallah’s rant against the Saudi leadership, originally broadcasted on Syrian state TV. Government-controlled media should not be used as a platform “to offend an #Arab country and insult #Saudi_Arabia, its officials and its role... for the sake of #Iran and its regional policies,” he said.

Hariri didn’t say anything that anyone who knows anything at all about #Lebanon already knows. But now that he’s admitted in unmistakable terms that #Hezbollah works for #Iran, the real is:
“What does the #March_14th bloc, more particularly the Future Movement, plan to do about it? #Lebanon is an #Arab country. #Lebanon is a member of the #Arab_League. In this case, how can any Lebanese patriot tolerate the continued presence of an armed militia in the knowledge it pays obeisance to a foreign leadership that’s hostile to the #Arab world?

However, I don’t derive any sense of hope from Hariri’s straight talking or his party’s clear statement, because talk is cheap unless backed up with action. #March_14th is ostensibly in control of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior, which should have issued an arrest warrant for #Nasrallah and his associates by now.

Unfortunately, the Minister of Interior Nouhad Machnouk - formerly the late Prime Minister Rafic Hariri’s political and media adviser and one of #Hezbollah’s most hawkish critics – is now a proponent of dialogue with #Hezbollah.  When asked by the Lebanese paper The Daily Star why he softened, he replied “What other choice do I have?” Should we understand from that response that, in reality, he isn’t in control of his own ministry?

Nevertheless, I am prepared to give him and the other #March_14th ministers the benefit of the doubt. I must assume that even if they had the will, until recently they lacked the means. But now that they control the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior, they have no excuse for shirking their duty to their country and its people.

Convictions without courage are worthless. It is their responsibility to ensure ‘Iranian’ traitors face justice in a court of law. How long will they continue appeasing betrayers who undermine #Lebanon time and time again?

When they have no problem getting together with #Hezbollah officials socially I cannot help but wonder is their harsh rhetoric against #Nasrallah little more than an attempt to appease their own constituents. If that is the case, they will lose their following. The Lebanese aren’t stupid; they will eventually see through this facade, this sham, if they haven’t already.

As long as #March_14th politicians manoeuvre this way and that like skilled chess players without ever actually shouting ‘checkmate’, #Hezbollah will strengthen its grip - especially when it stands to benefit from increased Iranian funding when sanctions are lifted on #Iran if and when the P5+1 – #Iran nuclear deal is sealed. I can only urge the #GCC States to be wary of these masters of manipulation whose prime goal is to safeguard their own political futures without taking necessary risks.

One of the few open and transparent major political players is Free Patriotic Movement head, #Michel_Aoun, who says whatever he feels - for which he has my respect - even though he is in #Hezbollah’s camp, which he entered not out of a shared ideology but rather political expediency. If this presidential candidate decided to position himself at the heart of #Lebanon’s camp and distance himself from the Iranian proxy, he could prove to be a game-changer. I would challenge Aoun to do the right thing... to reject those who would crush his homeland underfoot if so ordered by the leaders of #Iran and stand with those who want nothing more than their country strong and independent.

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