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Full Text of Sayyed Nasrallah’s Interview with Al-Mayadeen

Full Text of Sayyed Nasrallah’s Interview with Al-Mayadeen
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Translated By Staff

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Dear viewers, peace be upon you.

There is something strange about Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. When he speaks, he draws attention. When he is silent, he draws attention. His presence attracts attention. And his absence draws attention. When he speaks to a crowd, he draws attention and mobilizes people with his energy. And when he speaks behind closed doors, he draws attention and is convincing through the strength of his serenity.

There is something strange about Sayyed Nasrallah. When he addresses his enemy, he draws the attention of the politicians and commentators as well as the military and security officials. The analyses start and are never-ending. Today, we are living in the era of tweets. Some of these seriously analyze what he said and meant and take into account. Meanwhile, others focus on his body language to the extent that it begins to border on dullness. They wonder how he was moving his hands, lips and glasses and raising his finger, then take that into account.

There is something strange about Sayyed Nasrallah. When he warns the occupation leaders of the consequences of adventurism, he draws attention. They are quick to respond with messages of reassurance through mediators. This happened repeatedly, regardless of the occupation’s denial and its poor psychological warfare. And when the most dangerous man to them declares that he does not want war but is ready to respond to any aggression, he draws attention. The “Israeli” public believes him more than they believe their leadership and officials. This is also regardless of the occupation’s obstinacy and the weakness of its electronic armies and those carrying local and Arab nationalities.

There is something strange about Sayyed Nasrallah. Some Arab rulers accuse his resistance of terrorism. They say the man is lead rather than a leader. They say his party is a fragile organization despite its iron-like appearance and his supporters are mislead and overpowered by taklif shari’ [legitimate religious empowerment]. If this is so, then why launch all these open and hidden political, security, media and PR wars against a person who is not a leader according to their delusions? Why impose all these sanctions on a party that is nothing in their eyes? Why blockade and demoralize its supporters? If we had a say in this, we would say with historical fairness: the supporters and the environment of the resistance are quite exceptional in our contemporary history with regard to their loyalty, a sense of belonging, sacrifice, belief, honor and patience. Here, we cannot but wonder. If Sayyed Nasrallah, his party, his resistance, his allies and supporters in Lebanon, Palestine, and the Arab world as well as the world's activists and free people are nothing, is it not attention grabbing that this man’s confident silence – which he carefully chose – unnerves the occupation, its intelligence apparatus and its aids in our countries, prompting them to search for the reasons, worry about the background and fear the effects should he decide to act? Why? Sayyed Nasrallah decided to break his silence at this particular time, at a time he carefully and intelligently chose. Does it not arouse attention that a wave of questions and hopeful anticipation as well as expectations was then raised?

There is something strange about Sayyed Nasrallah. He draws attention for having practical imprints in resistant Palestine, practical influence on steadfast Yemen, practical presence in Iraq, which is pioneering liberation, a practical loyalty in Syria that has triumphed over Takfirism, terrorism and the projects of division and fragmentation, and a practical symbolic influence on Arab countries. He also has a fundamental and practical leadership role within the axis of resistance – a description that will require a lot of words one day. Perhaps this is also why Sayyed Nasrallah attracts attention; when we use a hashtag, just a mere hashtag, for this year’s discussion, millions and millions of people interact as Sayyed breaks his silence in accordance with his own timing and not that of “Israel”. Their participation and contribution are appreciated. All the thanks to all of them.

Tonight, we say it calmly and humbly with confidence and clarity. This year’s discussion, God willing, will be an important space for clarification and explanation. It will also be a stance, a source of information and a message. This year’s discussion may also be a shock to those who doubted, promoted lies and sadistically and unpleasantly created false news. Some should feel ashamed, especially those who argued that the discussion was filmed a while ago, and that it was arranged from beginning to end. The person repeating this is, in fact, speaking as he looks at himself in the mirror and reflects it on to others.
We are here today live on air, somewhere comfortable and beautiful in Lebanon. Good evening, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Thank you for accepting this invitation. Thank you for your time in giving us this year's discussion.

Sayyed Nasrallah: You are welcome.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Your Eminence, we received hundreds of thousands of questions for you. But I start with a remark given to me by Abu al-Nour. In fact, he advised me ‘not to forget to start your discussion with {In The Name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful} during the 19th meeting between us in 2019. In The Name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful and In Allah We Trust.
This is also one of the thousands of questions. Why have you been silent since November 10 and decided to speak now?

Sayyed Nasrallah: In The Name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful. Certainly, the silence or retreating from the media did not have any connection to health conditions. I will return to this later because I have been asked about the health situation a lot during this period. I assure you that all that was said is baseless lies. My brain, heart, my body as well as my soul, mind and affection are all fine, God willing. I do not have any health problems, and I have not suffered any health complications at all.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Didn’t you go to Shiraz?

Sayyed Nasrallah: I wish. This did not happen at all. On the contrary, in a previous refutation, I told those who promoted these rumors that I do not suffer from any health problems. Thank God. Although in the past weeks I turned sixty, thanks to God and by the grace of God, I have no health problems. And all that was said are lies. It is funny to hear that some writers and some sites did not only talk about an illness, they said he died and has been in the refrigerator for days and that Hezbollah’s leadership is meeting under special circumstances. Anyway, I raised this subject in order to tell people that we live in a time where the slogan should be {investigate}. I tell them do more than just investigate. You investigate when the news might be a lie or the truth. But when you receive the news from a deceitful, malicious and spiteful person and a liar, you should disregard it, ignore it and not consider it.

As for the true reasons, first of all, as you all know I do not talk or deliver speeches a lot. When there is an occasion, I have to address it. I am saying this as a rule for later. On some occasions, I am tasked with responding to, speaking on and addressing issues. For example, on the anniversary of the martyred leaders on February 16, I have to deliver a speech. It is part of our tradition in Hezbollah. There are occasions that I have to speak on. Sometimes there are events and developments that occur. We study it, do I address it or should the other brothers do so. We do not have a hobby of speaking just for the sake of speaking. The fact is that in December and January, we did not have occasions. It just so happens that our central events, such as Martyr's day, the martyrdom of the leaders, Ashura, and Al-Quds Day, especially the events that are celebrated according to the Hijri [calendar] do not fall in December and January. There was no occasion for me to deliver a speech.

Second, several developments occurred. The important event was the so-called North Shield or Northern Shield. God willing, we will talk about it tonight. After Netanyahu announced at a major news conference alongside former Chief of Staff [Gadi] Eizenkot something greater than military measures and less than a war, calling it Operation Northern Shield, and launched an extensive media campaign, honestly I met with the brothers and assessed the situation. We had several ideas. I am talking about the second or third day following Netanyahu’s announcement. As a result of the discussions, we concluded that it is best to leave Netanyahu, Eizenkot and the “Israelis” to say what they want until the end of the operation. It was clear that both, Netanyahu and Eizenkot, were in need of this huge media campaign. We did not want to help them and be part of their massive media campaign. So my brothers in Hezbollah and I decided not to comment on Operation Northern Shield until it ended.

And confirming this point is the end of Eizenkot’s term. They announced the end of Operation Northern Shield for him to leave with an achievement – I will assess this achievement. By the way, it is not done yet. Until yesterday, the diggers were still looking for tunnels, on Friday and Saturday. Before coming here, I called the brothers and told them ‘in your report yesterday you told me that the excavators are still working along the border’, what about today? They told me it was a holiday since it was Saturday. I was not aware that they are off on Saturday, and I thought the military worked on Saturday. Eizenkot declared the end of an unfinished operation in order to list it among his achievements. Thus, we made the decision to remain silent until the end of the operation.

Talk about the health situation, death, going to Shiraz, the hospital in Damascus and the Iranian doctors, and a state of alert began a few weeks ago. In fact, I also consulted with the brothers. We concluded that maybe these people wanted to lure me to speak to the media according to their timing. I do not want to speak according to their timing, we choose the timing.

We do not want to set up a rule that whenever a silly website or a ridiculous writer issues news or analyses talking about my illness or death, I have to go on television and tell people I am fine and healthy. This means I will be on television everyday. Therefore, I tell all the supporters and the enemy as well, we are not obligated to do so, to deny or not deny. We do not have a fixed rule. This is up to us. But this time, we decided to keep silent so as not to commit ourselves. In previous times, we denied them. If we had done so this time, we would be setting a precedent that when some news site, a newspaper or someone says I am sick and we do not deny it, this means ‘he is sick’. We do not want to obligate ourselves to this.
Another thing, you and I met last year in the end of 2018 and agreed on this year’s discussion to be in January. I said if I spoke once or twice, our meeting would be repetitive or boring to people. I would not like people getting bored of me. That is all.

Anyway, the month of February is coming and we have three occasions during which I will deliver addresses, God willing.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: All the health, wellness and longevity to you. Nevertheless, Your Eminence, a remark though. It seems like in what you have said so far, you are addressing the enemy, the “Israeli” enemy. But wasn’t there a possibility to reassure the local environment and the supporters? In the end, they were also worried, the supporters, friends and loved ones were also worried.

Sayyed Nasrallah: No, they were reassured in one way or another. Some calls were made internally. Some questions were asked internally. Some signals sent by some friends sufficed. But the important thing is that the internal environment is beginning to understand. It must fortify itself in order to stop them from ‘working us’ with regard to this matter.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Your Eminence, let us now talk about the subject of the Northern Shield and the tunnels. Without a doubt, it was a big event. The “Israelis” wanted it to be a very big event and not a media event. They even took it to the UN Security Council. “Israel” said it discovered and destroyed tunnels belonging to the party on the occupied Palestinian territory. My question is, first what is your first comment regarding the subject of the tunnels? And frankly, were you surprised with “Israel's” discovery of these tunnels?

Sayyed Nasrallah: I will speak in details and as you like because the “Israelis” are waiting for that and I will fulfill their desire. Also our friends are waiting for it. But first let me base my talk about the tunnels on a rule that says I am not obligated to accept or say that Hezbollah dug these tunnels, regardless of who dug those tunnels. Because we always prefer what we call a constructive ambiguity. No one should work for the “Israelis” and provide them with free information. Until now, the “Israelis” claim that a certain side dug these tunnels. But so far they have not provided any real proof. Why should I solve this problem for them? In any case, I am not concerned with saying what I should not say. Transparency, here, in the battle does not mean being transparent in everything. But we state facts.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: But there are tunnels?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Of course, there are tunnels and have been discovered. That is true. Let us start from that reality and move forward. Yes, there are tunnels in southern Lebanon – regardless of whether they are old or new or whether they were dug after or before the 1701 [Resolution] that is before or after the July war, regardless of who dug them, regardless of their number and regardless their value and importance. Yes, there are tunnels. After many years, the “Israelis” discovered a number of tunnels. This was not surprising, but what was surprising is that it took the “Israelis” a long time to discover them. You know, our border is different from that in Gaza. Our border is a mountainous rocky land. It is not easy for any side digging a tunnel or striking a hammer at the border to not be heard. I would like to say that the matter did not surprise us. It is a normal thing for that border. Years ago during a speech, I commented on what [Ehud] Barak said when he was war minister in Netanyahu’s government – he was not prime minister then. I have to speak about this because it has a strong relation with the Northern Shield subject and what is happening in the north. Barak was at the northern border of Palestine boasting as he addressed the “Israeli” soldiers. He told them prepare yourself for the day when your government will order you to invade southern Lebanon. The next day, I delivered a speech. I said ‘O, Islamic resistance fighters, prepare yourself for the day when the resistance’s leadership might ask you to takeover Galilee.’ Since that speech, we have a dossier called the Galilee file and Hezbollah and the Galilee file. This has a strong relation to what took place a few weeks ago. 

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Your Eminence, you have pointed to old and new tunnels. According to your information, are there old tunnels dug before the 1701?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Of course, there are. And this confirms the failure of the “Israeli” intelligence. This is what I wanted to mention tonight as well. According to my information, at least one of the tunnels discovered in the past few weeks is a 13-year-old or 14-year-old tunnel. In is inside occupied Palestinian territory. This means that in the past 14 years, the “Israeli” intelligence, the “Israeli” army, the “Israeli” security services and all the “Israeli” technologies failed to discover the existence of this tunnel inside their land. Of course, some “Israeli” media have reported that one of the tunnels may have been 13 years old. This is an accurate assertion, which is close to the truth. But I confirm that some of these tunnels are older than the July war and the 1701 [resolution]. And this indicates a 13-year-long intelligence failure.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: According to your information, have all the tunnels been uncovered?

Sayyed Nasrallah: This must remain ambiguous. I really want to ask a question. Of course, I will answer your questions. And if there is something I did not say or you did not ask about, I will say it on my own. Among the important things in this context is that the former chief of staff and former defense minister, [Moshe] Ya'alon, told the settlers in the north during the Northern Shield Operation that they knew about the tunnels two years ago. This is because the settlers said that two years ago we told the army that there are indications of tunnels being dug at the border or in the north. But the army denied this categorically. What does Ya’alon say? ‘Yes, there were tunnels. There were tunnels being dug. But we lied to the settlers in order to mislead the enemy.’ My question to all the settlers in northern occupied Palestine is: are you sure Netanyahu, Eizenkot and the new chief of staff are not lying to you about no more tunnels in the north? You must check this matter.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Does this mean that there is no more threat being posed to the Galilee? Because even though Netanyahu ended what he called the Northern Shield operation, today you surprise us with the news that the operation is not done yet. Today, this information states that they are still looking [for these tunnels], that is, it is not finished. However, he held a press conference and boasted that they finished everything and primarily put a stop to this danger. Does this mean that there is no more threat to the Galilee?

Sayyed Nasrallah: He is promising his people that to present a false achievement. I want to start from this particular point. When he held the press conference and Eizenkot stood beside him, he announced that ‘we will start an operation in the north, and we will uncover the tunnels.’ He was the one who said that among the functions and objectives of these tunnels was to prepare for the Galilee operation that Hezbollah has been threatening. First of all, he did us a very nice favor in the media. This is one of the reasons we remained silent. First of all, Netanyahu, Eizenkot and their entire staff always deal with Arab threats in general and the Arab countries and armies and even Arab resistance movements with disregard and mockery. By issuing his statement, Netanyahu was telling the “Israeli” society that what Hezbollah said about the Galilee operation is real and serious, that “Israel” is taking this matter very seriously and is planning based on this, and that it is announcing Northern Shield operations to thwart this threat to the Galilee. More than that, the main reason for all these walls being built and the huge cement barriers being set up today, the change in the geography of the border area, and the conflict with Lebanon over several hills is “Israeli” fears over a possible Galilee operation. Because I said ‘might’. If I said ‘might’ and they are scared to this extent. What if I had said ‘definitely’? We have not reached the stage yet where we say ‘definitely’. Its time will come. Thus, all these border measures confirm that they are looking at Lebanon with confidence. Yes, they said that ‘in the coming war, we might enter Galilee.’ They might enter Galilee. They did not say this as part of a psychological and propaganda warfare or that he is just delivering a speech as some Arabs do. Hence, this matter is not important. A lot of money is being spent now along the border. As I have said there are walls, the measures and the change in the geography of the area. Moreover, the largest drills in “Israel’s” history were held at the end of 2017 during which a week was dedicated to the defense of Galilee and the north. These are all excellent for us. We may need to exert a lot of effort if I wanted to convince the “Israelis”, the “Israeli” society and the army that ‘if one day we made a serious decision to enter Galilee, we will enter.’ Netanyahu and Eizenkot saved me a lot of effort in doing so. Of course, they did this for their personal reasons. They were not intending to do us a favor in this regard.

The second favor he did for us was instilling fear and panic in the hearts of the settlers in the north free of charge. This is what the “Israelis” said as well. Some of his opponents told him that. I watched some settlers from the north saying on western media that ‘before the Northern Shield Operation, we were reassured that there are no tunnels. What we feared most was missiles falling on us if a war broke out. So we would fixed ourselves in safe rooms and shelters. But if we did not know how they plan to enter, where will we escape to?’ The tunnel operation did need such huge media coverage. Because of this huge media coverage and for his personal gains – I will return to this later – Netanyahu did us a favor in the psychological warfare and instilled fear, horror and panic in the hearts of all settlers in the northern occupied Palestine.

Mr. Ghassan, you have to be confident that starting from the Northern Shield Operation an onward, when any settler in the northern settlements hears a hammer strike, he will call the “Israeli” army and say, ‘I hear the striking of a hammer’. Netanyahu presented this one. That is why we remained silent. We said ‘why interrupt him when he is presenting us with all these services?’ Let him speak.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: I am afraid – between quotations – that you have now given your supporters in the south a password to ‘strike the hammer’ in their homes.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Thirdly, Eizenkot and him – we will not talk about the new [chief of staff], let him take his time a little, deceived the “Israeli” people when they declared that the Galilee operation was over because we discovered the tunnels, blew them up and closed them. Netanyahu is not a general. But Eizenkot considers himself a general and a strategic thinker and a theorist. What kind of general who understands military work conclude that if Hezbollah wanted to enter Galilee, it would dig tunnels across a vast border area of 100 kilometers and crams thousands of fighters in four or five tunnels to take over the Galilee? What kind of military mind is this?

Ghassan bin Jiddo: How will Galilee be captured?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Ask them. They will tell you. Some of their generals who understand will tell how. All of them understand. I acknowledge that the enemy understands. But sometimes they put their personal interests first and lie and deny facts. But the generals who understand in “Israel” said that Hezbollah does not need tunnels to enter the Galilee. The nature of our border, the geography and even our demography is different. They are also helpful. This is one of the problems that Yitzhak Rabin, a historic military commander in this entity, always spoke about. 

To enter the Galilee, you do not need tunnels. Yes, the tunnels may be a limited and partial help. But an operation this big, if it was decided to take place in one of these days, needs the entire border, including valleys, the hills and the mountains. I tell them, you do not know from where we are going to enter, if we decide. In case a war erupted in Lebanon, we will decide whether or not to enter the Galilee. We are not talking about initiating a war so as not to cause accusations. Tomorrow someone will say that Sayyed wants to ignite a war and is threatening to ignite one. No, all of this is in the defensive context. They do not know how we will enter; above the ground, below the ground, we come down on them from the sky, meters high. A short while ago, one Lebanese station reported on motorcycles that fly two, three and 4 meters high and that Hezbollah has experience in flying motorcycles.

In any case, I personally laughed a lot when I heard Netanyahu and Eizenkot say that the Galilee operation and the threat of that operation are eliminated once the tunnels were discovered. First, there is a fundamental gap in this thinking because the Galilee operation does not depend on the tunnels. There is also a detailed gap in this assessment which is how does he know that all the tunnels have been discovered?

Ghassan bin Jiddo: If I want to summarize now. First, in your strategy, you do not necessarily have to enter and seize control of the Galilee. But you may be forced to, if the “Israelis” attacked Lebanon and launched a full-scale aggression – that is a full-scale war. Your military plan might include the taking over of Galilee. A takeover of the Galilee – if you took the decision, this is for the “Israelis” – might take place in different ways. It might be through the tunnels. It might be through the motorcycles, or thousands of fighters as you have mentioned. It might be from the air, the sky, etc. Wouldn’t the thick and tall cement wall hinder you, Your Eminence, especially that it is in a disputed area? It is a Lebanese area but it is disputed between you and occupied Palestine? 

Sayyed Nasrallah: Yes, this is in our plan. In order to defend our country, we have the right to take all defensive measures. That is what we believe. There are those who do not think so. That is their business. Let someone take all required defensive measures to protect the country, and we will retreat. But as long as the alternative is not ready so far, we consider ourselves concerned with defending our country. In the face of the war the “Israelis” are threatening with, the destructive war, the displacement and explosions – you hear what they are saying – it is also our right to resort to all elements of strength. I tell you frankly. Yes, it is part of our plan. It is included in our plans, on the field and on paper, the plan we train on, maneuver on, preparing for. The plan that is ready. Yes, part of our plan for the coming war is to enter the Galilee. But plans are activated in light of the course of the war. In the war, we decide to enter or not to enter. I do not want to give the “Israelis” definitive information on this matter. But I want to assure them that this is part of our plan as they are planning. God willing, we can do this. What is important is to have the ability. When we have the ability, the decision depends on the circumstances, the data and the interests.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Do you have the capabilities?

Sayyed Nasrullah: We have this capabilities. Yes, without a doubt. We have had the capabilities for years. Following the experience from Syria, it became much easier for us than we thought. As for these walls that they erect and mentioned in the Qur'an 1400 years ago – {They will not fight you all except within fortified cities or from behind walls.}. These are cowards who hide behind the walls. We found solutions even for these walls, God willing.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: How will it happen?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Of course, I will not tell you.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Do not give us a military plan. But how will it happen?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Everything has a solution. They have minds, and we have minds. Our minds are more important than theirs. It is important to use our minds.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: More than once, Sayyed, you threatened “Israel” that if it attacks, it would receive a startling response. In your last speech on November 10, you confirmed this, but you used the word "We will respond and you will regret it". What do you mean by “they will regret it”?

Sayyed Nasrallah: When this happens, everyone will know what “they will regret” means.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: I repeat, do not give us military plans, Your Eminence. What does it mean the “Israelis” will regret if they attacked and will see a startling response?

Sayyed Nasrallah: So as to know not to repeat such aggression because the price of the aggression will be more than it is expecting. After all, one of our discussions tonight is to call on Netanyahu, the new chief of staff and those around them in the entity not to make mistakes in assessing what is happening in the region, especially when we get to the issue of Syria. But let us continue with the tunnels and return to this general point.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Please, with respect to the “regret” part, is it a complete regret? Is it a regret related to the cities? Is it related to the establishments and institutions as well as their achievements? Does this mean they will regret from the Galilee to the end of their border with Gaza?

Sayyed Nasrallah: I will go along with you. After all, our options are open. Anyway, the rhetoric of the arrogant Americans and the “Israelis” always tells you that all options are on the table. Today the resistance, the axis of resistance, along all fronts is in a position to say all options are on the table and all our choices are open. We say with wisdom and courage – because sometimes some try to hide their cowardice with wisdom – that we set out at all the necessary requirements for steadfastness, victory and strengthening the deterrence in this battle without hesitation. 

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Allow me, you have mentioned two phrases now: steadfastness and victory. Does steadfastness mean that you deter the “Israeli” aggression from achieving its goals, which is at the very least eradicating and deterring it completely? Does victory mean that “Israel” will finally cease any aggression?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Here, there is a lot of discussion about the details. Sometimes we talk about a comprehensive aggression, a war, and say, ‘well if you want to confront this war, what are your objectives in confronting this war? In other times, we are not talking about – there is another option – the comprehensive war. There is an attempt to change the rules of engagement. We are talking about a certain specific strike to change the rules of engagement. We will not allow. The first topic is vast and requires a discussion by itself. But if your question is regarding the other topic, we will not allow the enemy to change the rules of engagement or impose rules of engagement on us. In the accumulation of the work of the resistance, we reached a certain level of deterrence that we have to maintain, at the very least. We must even work to strengthen it when the enemy tries to change the rules of engagement. Of course, I am talking here about the Lebanese front. The issue of Gaza is up to the brothers in Gaza. On the subject of Syria, we talk about it in Syria.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: What will Sayed Nasrallah say now if the “Israelis” said they changed one of the rules of the engagement? What can the “Israelis” do now that you consider a change in the rules of engagement? The wall, for example, which is now inside the Lebanese border because this border is a disputed land, isn’t it Sayyed, according to you and to Lebanon? Is the wall regarded a change in the rules of engagement?

Sayyed Nasrallah: This is another matter, and it has nothing to do with the rules of engagement. For example, regarding the issue of the borders from the beginning, I recall in 2000 on the eve of the “Israeli” withdrawal from Lebanon, that is on May 23, 24 and 25, I delivered an address. This is a big question in the country. What will Hezbollah do at the border? I said that, we are first and foremost, concerned with liberating the Lebanese land. I was asked, what is the Lebanese land to you? I said, it is not the resistance that determines the Lebanese territory but the Lebanese state. I said the state and not the government because this is a matter of sovereignty. The parliament, the government, the presidency, and the state as a state are concerned with this matter. When the state says this land is Lebanese, we as a Lebanese resistance are concerned with liberating this Lebanese land. At that time, His Eminence President Emile Lahoud, then-Prime Minister Selim al-Hoss, the government and the parliament considered the Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shouba Hills Lebanese territories. So we considered them Lebanese territories. That is why, if you noticed, it was not part of our previous rhetoric. We used to say the border strip without mentioning the details. Lebanese army officers, officially mandated by the Lebanese state, headed to the border. The resistance did not interfere in the border demarcation. Of course, our background in these points is partly intellectual, partly ideological, partly legal, and partly constitutional and political as you want. The issue of borders as well as the issue of whether this land is Lebanese or not is the state’s business. Therefore, it is the one that will or will not accept, demarcate or not demarcate. With regard to this dossier, we told them you take responsibility. You are the ones responsible in front of the Lebanese people.

Therefore, in the subject of the wall, we stand behind the state. And the resistance stands behind the army. I declared this before and this is not new. Therefore, we all have to wait and see how the state acts and how it follows up on this file. Later, action is done accordingly. This is a different issue. 

I am talking, for example, if the “Israeli” enemy bombed targets inside Lebanese territory, if they carried out a security operation inside Lebanese territory, or if it carried out an assassination inside Lebanese territory.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Assassination of whom?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Assassination of any person.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: The assassination of the resistance or ..?

Sayyed Nasrallah: An assassination that is aimed at us directly. We expanded it a little; if it killed any of our brothers in Hezbollah, specifically in Syria. We have expanded this after the Quneitra incident. Yes, we will consider this an aggression, and we will respond. Yes, the aggression includes an aerial bombardment. It is not a condition that it strikes a Hezbollah target. The matter concerns all of Lebanon. It concerns the security of Lebanon, the stability of Lebanon and the sovereignty of Lebanon.
In any case, this issue has plenty of proof. What I have mentioned are examples and not to limit. So as not to show later that if the “Israeli” did something he did not mention, this is not a violation of the rules of engagement...

Ghassan bin Jiddo: When do you think “Israel” is in the process of launching a war and not a limited attack?

Sayyed Nasrallah: This does not need thinking. At that day, we will all feel this. The war has its clear and obvious features.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Any war in the sense of mass bombing and ground invasion? For example, if the “Israelis” decided today to bomb key positions of Hezbollah it considers them military sites, factories, as it says. What would you consider this?

Sayyed Nasrallah: I am telling you. We will deal with any operation that hits a few specific targets as an attempt to change the rules of engagement and change the balance of deterrence. But any wide-scale operation, even if the enemy considers it limited, we will treat it as a war and a declaration of war. There is no precise divider between a wide-scale operation and the declaration of war. It is pushing towards war.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: This is what is intended, that is the “Israelis” may sometimes miscalculate that they are targeting a certain point inside the Lebanese territory but targets you as a resistance. They may consider it merely an attack that requires a simple response. But they may be mistaken and you consider it war and a full-scale aggression, and you respond to them.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Any way, this will, God willing, come soon in the evaluation. One of the problems of 2019 is the fear of miscalculation on the part of the beleaguered prime minister who is morally bankrupt and accused of corruption. He wants to escape anywhere. The subject of the tunnels coincided with the accusations against him. Thus, he does not have a problem presenting himself as a false hero to his people and to the people of the north as well as instilling horror among the people in the settlements in the north just to fortify himself against the “Israeli” judiciary. By the way, the judiciary it self is corrupt and is plagued in corruption scandals. He does not have a problem to take things in Syria to a level that might lead to a great full-scale confrontation in order to improve his electoral conditions or to prove that he is a strong, tough and competent defense minister. I warn the “Israelis”. I do not want to interfere in their elections because to us Netanyahu, Barak, who died and who is still alive are all the same. But to the “Israelis”, they might be different. You have to pay attention that this man, especially in the weeks and months leading up to the elections, might make mistakes in assessments due to his personal crises and ambitions. He is a man ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of remaining in the post of prime minister or staying out of prison.   

Ghassan bin Jiddo: If he made a miscalculation, are you ready to respond?

Sayyed Nasrallah: The whole axis and we are ready to respond. Of course, the decision is up to the axis. We will talk about these separately according to each country. With regard to us in Lebanon, I was clear when I said – not now – two months ago – before the being silent. I said in a speech that there are data, information and threats that the “Israelis” will bomb in this place and in that. I said if you thought you could bomb this or that place, we will definitely and absolutely respond.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: I will talk about the axis. But my question comes from the many people who contacted us and wrote us asking. Does Your Eminence consider that from now until the “Israeli” elections, Netanyahu and the people around him might make mistake in assessment and launch aggression he thinks is just an attack and you consider an aggression that might lead to a major military escalation? This is regardless of the axis, here in Lebanon. I am not talking about Syria.

Sayyed Nasrallah: In Lebanon, it is unlikely. But I don’t rule it out. The place where he can make an error in assessment is Syria. He might miscalculate in Gaza as well. But he will be more mindful in Lebanon.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: And why?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Because of the different circumstances.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: If his miscalculated in Gaza, what does it mean to miscalculate in Gaza, Your Eminence?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Now, for example, putting more pressure on Gaza. Gaza will not accept to starve. Gaza will not accept this blockade. Gaza will not accept any more violations and killing of its people, cadres or leadership. There is psychological preparedness in Gaza, especially after the latest achievement and the true victory that took place morally, politically, militarily and on the field in the latest confrontation. The people of Gaza will not be forgiving and will not deal with any “Israeli” aggression lightly. 

Ghassan bin Jiddo: What will they do?

Sayyed Nasrallah: As they did in the past and even more. One rocket fell on Ashkelon. When the “Israelis” saw that this missile targeted the first roof and the second, the entire State of “Israel” as well as the “Israeli” community said ‘Come, brother, let us reconsider this matter.’

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Would there be any military response from Gaza?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Of course.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Are these information or analysis, Your Eminence?

Sayyed Nasrallah: You do not need information or analysis. This is true knowledge of the leaders and the Mujahideen and even the people of Gaza and the residents of Gaza.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: I know, but I am talking about a fundamental pillar of the axis of resistance and has basic relations with the Palestinian resistance.

Sayyed Nasrallah: I assure you that they will not tolerate and will never be forgiving. They are in different circumstances.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: We have received questions, if you may allow Your Eminence, if such an attack has been launched at Gaza.

Sayyed Nasrallah: First of all, finish talking about the tunnels because I was programmed in this way. You directly took me to Gaza. Regarding the tunnels, if we still have something to talk about, so be it. I have a few additions on the tunnels.

On the subject of the tunnels, I was talking about Eizenkot. He also participated in terrorizing the “Israelis”. What did he tell them? He did not say that these tunnels had noting to do with the war. He told them that these tunnels were engineered by Hezbollah – as he alleges – in order to initiate an attack and bring in 1,000 or 1,500 fighters to carry out massive terrorist acts that would have shaken “Israel”. He said 1,500 fighters would enter from the tunnels and initiate an attack. We are not talking about a war, areal bombardment and high “Israeli” preparedness. No. It will be by surprise. When people are sleeping, the tunnels will be opened. This is the image Eizenkot is presenting. 1500 Hezbollah fighters would enter the north and carry out acts of terror – as they called it – that would shake the enemy's entity. What kind of horror would this man find among his community? You claim today that you closed the tunnels. New tunnels might be opened. What would you tell them?

Unfortunately, the only thing Eizenkot saw from the accomplishment on the subject of the tunnels is to get out if his post as chief of staff with a great, imaginary achievement on his record, even at the expense of the security, reassurance and the feelings of colonialists and settlers. Our Palestinian brothers call them settler flocks in the north. He is done and has left. But the disaster is that Netanyahu is continuing with this subject.

Therefore, I want to say regarding the tunnels dossier that the matter was given far more importance than is warranted. It does not deserve the name Northern Shield Operation. It is a set of measures and procedures. Sometimes you may find that there is some problem, a breach, some development, you send your military to address it, for example. That is how big the subject is. The tunnels operation does not eliminate the already prepared Galilee operation. It does not even affect it by ten percent. The operation also failed politically. Perhaps one of the objectives of the operation was to cause chaos and division in Lebanon. You know the Lebanese. They disagree a lot. One of God’s blessings is that there was harmony at the level of the Lebanese state – that is the President of the Republic, the Parliament Speaker, the Prime Minister, the state institutions – when dealing with this incident. There was a state of harmony among the Lebanese public. The door was not opened for Netanyahu, his media mouthpieces and tools to influence or cause any division or conflict within internal Lebanese affairs, for example. Perhaps, remaining silent helped maintain this atmosphere. 

Thus, if it was designed to target us politically or through the media in Lebanon, then it has failed. Netanyahu also expected that when he takes this matter to the UN Security Council, he would entice the international community. He would try to take a decision to amend the mandate of the UNIFIL to be turned into forces that serve, i.e. a police in southern Lebanon, serving the “Israelis”. They have failed in doing so before and in 2006. They failed in doing so last year. He tried to push to this direction through exaggerating the tunnels operation, but also failed. One of the reasons for this failure is the official Lebanese stance with all its components. I want to be fair. In Lebanon, our allies or who are not our allies always deal in terms of either zero over 100 or 100 over 100. Sometimes when we agree on a position, in harmony and in accord over a position, the stance is excellent. The official Lebanese position at the Security Council was one vote and one position. We must commend Kuwait’s position in this matter since it represents the Arab group. The French position was also distinct from the American position. In the end, there he also failed in the Security Council. 

Netanyahu put a set of objectives. In my opinion, all of Netanyahu's objectives set for the Northern Shield Operation failed. He provided us with great services through the media as well as psychologically and morally. Yes, he achieved a single achievement which is uncovering a lot of tunnels. It is not known whether they are all the tunnels. But this is not the end of the world.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: They are not new. There are also the old tunnels. Eisenkot, who has now left the post of chief of staff, was described as one of the most important chiefs of staff and has accomplished great achievements in Lebanon and Syria. Can we say that Eizenkot – as he ended his term with the Northern Shield Operation – left disappointed?

Sayyed Nasrallah: He left his post recording a great achievement of illusions. It should not even be called a military achievement. If they wanted to conduct an examination in “Israel”, which some generals discussed, they would conclude that calling what happened in the tunnels operation a military operation or Northern Shield Operation is a deceptive label.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Of course, it is an operation less than a war. At best it is measures and not an operation.

Sayyed Nasrallah: It is much less than an operation.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Is it like the Litani operation, for example?

Sayyed Nasrallah: When they heard him say an operation, we expected him to discover about 20 or 30 tunnels, for example. They did not find anything.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Is there such a number?

Sayyed Nasrallah: God knows.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Your Eminence, we were talking about this wall the “Israelis” built, and the defense council here in Lebanon met and discussed this. Maybe after a while you may also have to discuss the defense strategy again. My question is, first of all, do you consider Lebanon’s stance a normal one taking into account the positivity you mentioned on the one hand and its inaction with regard to the wall on the other? Secondly, are you prepared to discuss the defense strategy again in light of what happened?
Sayyed Nasrallah: In the past, when it was said that he would build a wall on disputed land, they say it is disputed. It is not disputed. It is Lebanese according to the Lebanese state and not just according to me, as a Lebanese. The Lebanese state considers it Lebanese land. “Israel” regards it as a Palestinian land. UNIFIL sees it as disputed. The Supreme Defense Council met under the chairmanship of the President and the presence of the Prime Minister, the relevant ministers, the Commander of the Army and the relevant leaders of the security services. At the time, a decision was taken to prevent the “Israelis” from building this wall, and the army was authorized to shoot if it was necessary. This was months before. Of course, because we are there in the golden equation: the army, the people, and the resistance. We are the resistance and part of the people. We were notified that there was an official direction towards something like that. We are in the government. So it is natural that our ministers be notified about such direction. We decided to stand behind the army. Thus, we told our brothers to be alert and did not want to carry out any action so no one accuses us of seeking tension or dragging Lebanon into a battle, clash or something along those lines.

Thank God, the Lebanese state and the Lebanese state institutions took a strong decision. And we put ourselves at the disposal of the leadership of the army in that region. Of course, the army came out and declared its readiness. The Americans, French, “Israelis”, UNIFIL and others were informed of this stance. So the “Israelis” stopped. And this was considered an achievement.

The Supreme Defense Council met again due to some developments. According to the information I have, this decision was confirmed. There could be details, I heard today, that are being circulated. I have not had the opportunity to check them. But what I know is that the Lebanese decision is still in place. And similarly as in the past, the French, the Americans, the Russians and other sides are contacted to warn the “Israelis” against taking this step.

Now this is a problematic point. There are attempts by the “Israelis”. The “Israelis” today are putting stones and the next day they stop. Then the excavators come. There is a complicated situation now along the border. In my opinion, this is worth checking. This is the state’s responsibility. State officials are primarily responsible in checking what is currently going on at the border. Is it right to leave the “Israelis” to comfortably complete the construction? This will be registered negatively for all of Lebanon. It will not be registered to one party without the other. It is a negative point for Lebanon. Or do we have to deal with the issue in a different way? If we have ideas or suggestions, we will present them to the state officials through our direct channels and not through the media.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Are you ready to discuss a defensive strategy again?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We have always been ready to discuss the defense strategy. When this was discussed in the National Dialogue in 2006, I put forward a complete strategy. No one discussed it with me. Then, the war broke out later. And all the meetings that broached this topic did not address it with the required seriousness.

Anyway, some think that we are worried and frightened. On the contrary, we have a strong logic. We have strong arguments. We depend on knowledge, experience, facts and achievements. We go to the defense strategy session with a lot of strong options, not just one paper which says the solution is for you to surrender your weapons to the Lebanese army. Is this a defensive strategy? In conclusion, we are ready to discuss the national defense strategy at any time and anywhere and without any conditions. On the contrary, we were the first to call for setting up a national defense strategy. This is mentioned in the understanding on February 6, 2006 between Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement, and we signed it.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Before going to a commercial break, Your Eminence, what is your interpretation of Netanyahu and his deputies’ programmed, systematic, continuous, and escalating rhetoric in recently and their stepping out from being mysterious in what they are doing to announcing everything they are doing?

Sayyed Nasrallah: One of the reasons is the development in Syria. The developments in Syria are great and very important. “Israel's” concerns in Syria are great. Why? There is an “Israeli” strategic failure in Syria. What “Israel” has been betting on from 2011 until today has failed miserably. Now, Netanyahu is trying to use this military and media hype to cover this failure. We will talk about this in detail. But we have to expect from now on until the elections a loud voice and an unwise performance from Netanyahu because there are elections. You know that Lieberman caused him a problem during the Gaza operation. There is an attempt to present him as a weak, coward prime minister, does not belong to the generals and is not from the generation of the generals. He wants to prove himself even at the expense of the “Israelis” this time and not only at the expense of the Arab people. They always elected and voted at the expense of our blood. But their predicaments brought them to a point where they are voting at the expense of their own blood.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: But in 1996, Shimon Peres thought of the same thing. He was weak and attacked Lebanon in the Grapes of Wrath, believing that this would benefit him.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Based on Sharm el-Sheikh, he thought the whole world was with him.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: But he lost in the elections at the time.

Sayyed Nasrallah: This is because they are idiots.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Before going to a break, allow me Sayyed, the “Israelis” consider and are still repeating that the red line now is that you manufacture inside Lebanon or along the border accurate missiles. I remember Your Eminence, I think in 2006 or 2007, after the July war, at the time you surprised us and shocked the “Israelis” when you said we have missiles that reach the end of occupied Palestine’s south. Now, it seems that as if they are discovering something new called the precision rockets. Can you solve this puzzle for us?

Sayyed Nasrallah: At one point, they had a problem with us possessing missiles with a range of over 20 kilometers. Usually, resistance movements possess the Katyusha with a range of 19 to 21 kilometers. The resistance possessed rockets with a range of 40 kilometers, and can reach Haifa. They tried to prevent this matter. But they failed. Later, the resistance said it had rockets that reached ‘beyond Haifa’. Then during the July war we said ‘beyond, beyond Haifa’, that is Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv was, first and foremost, what was meant by ‘beyond, beyond Haifa’. During the July war, we hit Haifa and the center. Tel Aviv was not hit.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: You know, Your Eminence, this is the first time you are explaining this. So, by ‘beyond, beyond Haifa’, you meant by it Tel Aviv in 2006!

Sayyed Nasrallah: Certainly, it is the most important proof of ‘beyond, beyond Haifa’. Thus, if you remember during the war when they threatened to bomb Beirut, I threatened to bomb Tel Aviv. I cannot threaten with something the Mujahideen cannot do. With time, despite all the “Israeli” attempts, they despaired of the possibility of preventing Hezbollah from having strong and destructive long-range missiles, i.e. covering the distant between Lebanon and Palestine. They could not find a solution for this. They say small numbers, many, thousands, hundreds. It is all details. One missile fell on Ashkelon, and you saw what happened. Imagine, for example, that several of these large rockets fell simultaneously on Tel Aviv. Let them ask the residents of Tel Aviv. There is one thing some of their generals say truthfully. They are honest with their community when they tell them that the next war, if it happens, will not be like the previous wars. That is we fight at the border and you drink tea in the cafes of Tel Aviv. No, that is over. All of occupied Palestine will be the battlefield for any coming war. If we use long-range, inaccurate missiles, doe this mean they will not hit Tel Aviv? They will hit it. They will hit wide cities and camps. They will not go to a specific target like the Defense Ministry, the airport, a specific airbase, or the building of the commander of the air force. An inaccurate missile cannot strike such targets because it has a wide margin of error. A precision missile does not have a wide margin of error. The error can be between five meters, ten meters, fifteen meters, or even fifty meters, my brother. You are talking about an air base, a large building, and so on.

The “Israelis” practically acknowledged the inaccurate missiles. Their entire narrative now speaks about precision missiles. Would you allow me to tell the “Israelis” a joke?

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Please, go ahead.

Sayyed Nasrallah: I tell the “Israeli” people that it is in your interest to tell Netanyahu that it is better to let Hezbollah possess precision rockets. It is better. If the day comes when we have to respond to Tel Aviv and I have precision missile, I can strike a military barracks. If I do not have them, I will strike the military barracks, but I will miss by 500 meters or 1000 meters. This means, the missiles will fall on the people. As people, their interest is to have precision missiles.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Is this a joke or a threat?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Which ever you like.

Ghassan Bin Jiddo: It is a threat in the form of a joke.

Sayyed Nasrallah: A joke or a threat, as you want. After all, its dilemma now is the precision missiles. It kept saying ‘we will strike Syria’. Here we return to the failure in Syria. ‘We will strike Syria to prevent the precision missiles from entering Lebanon or to prevent Hezbollah from possessing precision missiles.’ On the tenth of Muharram, months ago, I told the “Israelis” that this matter is over. ‘You are targeting Syria without an objective.’ This is a given. It is over.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: ‘It’s over’ means you have precision missiles.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Of course, we have a sufficient number of precision missiles. It does not need to bomb Syria to achieve this objective. This objective is long gone.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Sufficient number of what?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Sufficient number [of precision missiles] for the confrontation in any future war.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Excuse me, sufficient number to hit what?

Sayyed Nasrallah: To hit any target we want included in our plan during the war. The “Israelis” are diminishing the importance of the subject when they say that the numbers are low. It is fine. Let them relieve themselves. This is good. It reduces their embarrassment and tension in the region. I do not want to debate them with the numbers. I would just like to say that this matter is over. It has been achieved. Of course, they used this matter to stir some media noise. For example, when Netanyahu went to the United Nations and took out the map, saying here there is a missile factory, here is the Al-Ahed field, and so on. That day, using our policy of constructive ambiguity, we did not deny or confirm. Thanks to the Lebanese Prime Minister, Mr. Gebran Basil, who launched a very important initiative. All the embassies contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking for confirmation. He specified places. All the ministries of the world asked their ministers to check the data the Netanyahu announced. Foreign Minister Basil took the ministers to these places. There are hangars in Ouzai that were opened at the request of journalists working with certain media networks. They were opened and nothing was found. Is it possible that we moved them within 24 hours? If Netanyahu is claiming so and so, let him prove it. He has films, pictures, satellites and drones that do not leave the skies of Dahiyeh [southern suburbs of Beirut]. He could have easily told them ‘here you go, they moved them.’ therefore, his information was a lie and false in the subject of the rockets. He tried to do something close to the subject of the tunnels.

As for us, we possess precision rockets. What we need, we already possess. What we need, we no longer need to transport. What we need in the face of any battle that may be imposed on Lebanon, we possess. He might consider it little. It is fine. Let him unwind. There is no problem. I will not insist today on saying that we have a lot [of missiles] not to embarrass Netanyahu. No, I care that he calms down a bit. 

Ghassan bin Jiddo: If we want to summarize now, we can say that the operation of the tunnels that the “Israelis” talked about and made it into a big deal, did not confuse you.

Second, the major military and political achievement they are talking about seems to be even an illusion. Even General Eizenkot is disillusioned. 

Thirdly, following the uncovering of the tunnels, they became a scary and confusing factor for the “Israeli” settlers in the north of Occupied Palestine and Galilee, instead of being an aiding factor. 

Fourthly, you are warning the “Israelis” about Netanyahu, telling them that he might exaggerate in his tensions and recklessness because he might miscalculate. And if he miscalculates, your response will be fierce, and he will regret it.

Fifthly, you possess military capabilities, in particular, precision missiles that hit any target which is part of your military plan.

Sixthly, where is the scene in Syria? After the break, Your Eminence, if you please.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Welcome our distinguished viewers to the year’s discussion with Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah.

Your Eminence, during the break we were informed that a number of “Israeli” channels are broadcasting this interview live. Some channels have even begun to comment, which is undoubtedly notable. In the general and strategic overview of the Syrian file, accurately and clearly, are we heading towards a final, decisive and comprehensive victory in Syria or is the solution still complicated and therefore we cannot say the war is going to end and the axis of resistance, or Syria cannot to talk about a victory on the horizon?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We can talk about a very great victory in Syria and that we are in the final stages. Of course, it is unrealistic before addressing the situations in the north, which is Idlib and northern Aleppo, and in east of the Euphrates to say that the file is closed and that victory is fully achieved. Both situations are different. But all the dangers that we feared in 2011, that is, since the start of crisis and over these years have been overcome, thank God Almighty. Today, the situation in Syria is at its best in comparison to the start of the war.

This also applies to the remaining files. This is very important. The Syrian leadership is in a position of power. The problem in the east of the Euphrates concerns the state and the leadership because it is Syrian land. But the impasse is a Turkish, Kurdish, and American dilemma in the first place with regard to the east of the Euphrates. And it is an internal Kurdish-Arab stalemate with regard to Idlib and the northern region. The Syrian leadership, the Syrian state and the Syrian army with the help of its allies are definitely able to resolve the battle in northern Syria. It was able to do so. That was the direction after the liberation of southern Syria. But back then, the international and regional interventions, the Astana states, the direct Turkish efforts with the Russian state as well as the Astana meetings – even Iran was part of this discussion – opted for other forms of addressing the situation in the north. This decision was due to humanitarian reasons related to the millions of displaced people. It was also due to bloodshed for example. They chose a formula that has not succeeded until now and is still under assessment as well as confusion with regard to the Turkish-Russian relationship.  

Thus, there are two files I think so far, if we are speaking on the field. Today on the battlefield across all areas under the control of the Syrian state, the state has full and complete control.

On the subject of east of the Euphrates, what was the path? The path was that the Kurdish units and parties with Western, American, French and British support – but in fact it is American support – and through the direct American presence were establishing their control throughout the entire area of the east of the Euphrates until the Syrian-Turkish border. They were in the position of power and wanted to negotiate with the government. There were attempts to negotiate with the regime. I have no problem saying ‘regime’. In Syria, some people consider this phrase to be incorrect. I consider the word ‘regime’ to oppose chaos, but in the old Arabic literature the word ‘regime’ has become a bad word. In any case, the Kurdish parties and sides depending on the American support presence in the east of the Euphrates, set high conditions. I do not think the state in Syria can afford such settlements or measures. This is a detail we may not need. On the other hand, the Turks have a problem. These solutions they are offering, includes keeping Kurdish forces, even if they were part of the Syrian army. This matter is a big problem for Turkey. Of course, I rule out that the Syrian state accepts that the Syrian army be formed of elements with a certain sectarian color or ethnic color. The culture, political mentality and ideology in Syria do not allow this. In any case, Turkey regards the Kurds and the Kurdish parties as a Syrian version of the PKK. And therefore, they are terrorist organizations and threaten Turkey and the national security in Turkey because there are Kurds on both sides of the border. Thus, the Turks have a problem even though it is an American ally. The Kurds are also a US ally. But Turkey and the Kurds have a problem. The Kurds consider that the Turks are targeting their existence. Meanwhile, the Turks consider that the Kurds are a threat to their national security. There is a problem here.

On the contrary, the Syrian state and the regime may later be the solution. Why might it be the solution? What are the possible scenarios? Erdogan and Trump came close to clashing over of the east Euphrates files. ‘Trump, you are protecting terrorist organizations and parties and this threatens the Turkish national security, and we are your allies, etc.’ Trump took the decision to withdraw. This is a separate story. We will speak about this on its own. He told him, ‘Syria is yours’, terrifying the Kurds, the Kurdish parties and America's allies in the region. This is also related to the situation in the region. We will talk about this shortly. The Turkish army become more prepared for a military battle, which means fighting between the allies of the US, between the Turkish army using the Syrian opposition factions and the US-backed Kurdish units which are financed by the Gulf and Europe. These units are still funded by the Gulf States.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Excuse me, the Kurdish forces allied to America in Syria are funded by the Gulf?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Of course, from Saudi Arabia and from the United Arab Emirates and with a US decision and a Saudi-Emirati conviction. We will return to this topic when we talk about the Arabs and Syria.

When the Turks want to invade Syrian territory today, they will have a problem with the Americans and the Europeans. They are also and attacking Syrian sovereignty. The result of this battle will be unknown. Russia does not approve of this Turkish move. It will strain the Russian-Turkish relations. What is the logical solution? The logical solution is when Erdogan returned from Moscow.  I personally have not yet seen the recent Moscow discussions. In the previous discussions, Turkey’s foreign minister, defense minister and the head of the intelligence met with the Russians a while back regarding Idlib and east of the Euphrates. They did not reach any results. It was a failure. But general things were announced. This is just information. Later, Erdogan went to Moscow to discuss this matter and find a solution. What did Erdogan talk about when he returned? He spoke about the Adana Agreement. The Adana Agreement, signed in 1998 in the era of the late President Hafez al-Assad, was made to regulate the situation on the border and address the problem of the PKK. Certain measures were set with a Syrian-Turkish consent.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: During the term of President Demirel at the time.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Thus, when he says that we should go back to the Adana Agreement, this means it must be recognized that the only solution in the east of the Euphrates is deploying the legitimate Syrian army along the border. And when the Syrian army, the Syrian leadership and the government in Syria become responsible for the border with Turkey and are the ones present in the east of the Euphrates, then they can implement the Adana Agreement. To assure you that the dialogue is direct, the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced a while ago that Syria is committed to the Adana Agreement but Turkey is not committed because it is infiltrating the border and supporting as well as arming the terrorists. Thus, this is the solution.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: There is an understanding, if you allow me Your Eminence, that the Turks want to amend the Adana Agreement to allow the Turkish army and not only the Syrian army to deploy along the border inside Syrian territory.

Sayyed Nasrallah: President Erdogan going back to the Adana Agreement as a reference to the discussion – whether he wants to apply this agreement or amend it – is a good development, in my opinion.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: He is forced to discuss it with the Syrian state when he used to refuse discussing before.

Sayyed Nasrallah: I assume and estimate that the leadership in Syria is not in a hurry to address this issue. Let them take their time. The Kurdish units and the Turks are also taking their time in this matter. This is one file.

Of course, I want to add something on the east of the Euphrates topic. I think that within a short time, the Kurdish units supported by the international alliance will completely eliminate Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”] in the small pocket opposite to Albukamal. The area they [Daesh] control is very narrow with a length of 7 kilometers and width of 10 kilometers. It is probably two medium-sized towns. Most of them are already surrendering. The families are getting out. They are reaching settlements. I think, as usual, foreign fighters stand their ground and eventually surrender and detained. There are thousands of Daesh [fighters] in the Kurdish units’ camps. They offered these detainees to countries asking to take them. Take your children from us, and we are feeding them.

I think Daesh will be eliminated in this pocket. This file is open. When we are done with Daesh, we will breathe easy. The Syrian state and the Syrian army will also breathe easy. The presence today in Albukamal and Deir ez-Zor is all because of the threat that it [Daesh] poses. There is no war or fighting between the Syrian army and the Kurdish units. There is a climate of negotiation, dialogue and finding solutions because the lines are open. The military, security and political line is open. This will is ease the Syrian Arab Army. We will all breathe easy on this front. The United States was the reason why the Syrian army and its allies were prevented from continuing the battle and finishing off Daesh last summer when Deir ez-Zor and Albukamal were liberated. It informed Russia that its American planes will bomb its forces should they advance. That is why they stopped at Euphrates River and the mission fell on the US-supported Kurdish units. It is a small pocket and it has taken them seven to eight months. This is politicizing the situation. Why were they in a hurry? Because Mr. Trump wanted to withdraw from Syria. This pocket coincided with the withdrawal. You cannot say you triumphed over Daesh in Syria and that you are leaving when you still have this pocket.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: What about Idlib?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We have to follow the discussions between the Russians and the Turks regarding the topic of Idlib.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Pardon me, you surprised us by saying that. The media has been repeating this. But for the Secretary General of Hezbollah to say, it is final. You said last year the Syrian army and the allies were about to embark on a military confrontation to liberate Idlib. Did I understand it accurately?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Correct.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: To fully liberate it?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Many units and military teams were moved from the south and from the vicinity of Damascus to the area there. Preparations were made and later international, Turkish, Russian calls as well as the Astana [Talks] came.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: At that time, did the Russians also agree, regardless of the Turkish intervention?

Sayyed Nasrallah: What I know, at the very least, is that the military leadership was in a hurry. It was the one urging the Syrian forces and the rest of the allies to hasten the transfer of the troops to the north. Later, politics got in the way and they made this final settlement.

Gahssan bin Jiddo: In the future, what can happen? Now, Your Eminence, you know that the Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front) or the so-called Tahrir al-Sham has almost taken control of all the regions there.

Sayyed Nasrallah: It controls Idlib. They have names:  Idlib, western Aleppo and south of Aleppo. For example, we have the Euphrates Shield area and Ghosn al-Zaytoun area.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: I am talking about Idlib. Now, the Nusra Front and Tahrir al-Sham control that entire region. It is a leverage the Turks use to negotiate, compromise and perhaps blackmail with? Or could you eventually turn to a military solution against Turkey?

Sayyed Nasrallah: The options are, in fact, open. Of course, now everyone is giving priority to the political approach. In any case, postponing the confrontation in Idlib was expected. Factions will engage in ugly fighting amongst themselves. This is what happened. This is one of their problems in Syria, in general. The fighting that we have been seeing in the past few weeks was ugly and broke all boundaries. They say they are Islamists, but they broke all the religious humane and moral boundaries in this battle. I used to follow them. Practically, the Nusra Front eliminated all the factions close to Turkey. Did Turkey agree to this operation? This is a confusing question. Was Turkey unable to stop this operation from happening? Is Turkey dealing with the outcome of this operation as a fait accompli and employing it in politics? These are confusing questions that need data and information. In any case, I think that the Nusra Front controlling this area embarrasses Turkey more. Because the Nusra Front is classified in the Security Council, internationally and in many countries, except for a few, as a terrorist organization. Hence, it is not a Syrian opposition faction – national or Islamist – that Mr. Erdogan can protect and say that it has legitimate demands and must be part of the political solution in Syria. Thus, there is a great force in the Idlib area that is classified and recognized as a terrorist organization. Russia also considers it a terrorist force that is controlling this area and cannot be part of the political solution. How is this issue addressed? That is why I think this is a problematic issue and the political solution is difficult. There have been attempts to persuade Tahrir al-Sham to enter a new coalition with other groups and have it be dissolve within that formation. It would be said that it is a new Syrian national Islamist movement that has not relations to Al-Qaeda or the Nusra Front. That is to say it will transform. It loses its former body and nature and merges into a new structure with a Syrian national or Islamist dimension. Then it becomes part of the Syrian solution. We are done with the talk about ‘overthrowing the regime, changing the regime and returning to Damascus’. The Nusra Front was not qualified for this matter. Abu Mohammad al-Joulani or Um Mohammad al-Joulani has nothing to do with it. This has to do with a fundamental problem within the culture, ideology and composition of these fighters. Some of them, including foreign nationals, were brought from all over the world.

I think there is no clear path as to where the issue of Idlib is heading. Turkey is embarrassed with regard to this matter. It is probably the reason for the statements from Turkish officials, maybe Erdogan, saying that we agreed on the importance of confronting terrorism in Idlib. Who is in Idlib?

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Cavusoglu

Sayyed Nasrallah: Cavusoglu. Even on the table in Russia, the Turks cannot defend this issue and say they will be part of the political solution. Therefore, either Turkey finds a solution to the Idlib issue. It is not a condition now, maybe in two months or three months. We do not know how things develop. Or in the end, Idlib is a Syrian region. I know President Bashar Assad and I know the Syrian leadership. I don’t believe that the Syrian leadership is in the process of leaving any part of the Syrian territory to the armed groups, especially for this type of Takfiri and terrorist groups.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: The conclusion in this North is that Turkey, the US and the Kurds as well as the armed forces there are all in crisis in that region. With regard to Idlib, which is now controlled by the Nusra Front, a political solution is not possible. First, because the Nusra Front is classified as a terrorist group. Second, its mentality, basically and fundamentally, cannot return to Damascus. The solution in the end will be a solution to liberate that region because the Syrian leadership cannot accept pockets for those Takfiris there even if they are under the supervision of another state. Thirdly, there is a question mark and ambiguity regarding the Turkish position and the Turkish state.

But I will go back to the United States because it is essential here, Your Eminence, in the general and strategic overview. Now, Trump has announced that he will withdraw from Syria. He described Syria as sand and death. My question is: is it a tactical withdrawal and part of the growing American power. He wants to put you all in trouble amongst yourselves? Or is it serious departure, and thus an American defeat?

Sayyed Nasrallah: I think Trump is serious and sincere about withdrawing troops from all places he mentioned. He is honest with himself. He made electoral promises during his electoral campaign. He has elections in two years. He wants to achieve everything he promised in his electoral campaign. In fact, he has achieved part of his electoral promises so far. One of his electoral promises was ‘why send our children abroad to die in this region or that, and defend, be killed and spend money?’ He said ‘we spent 7000 billion dollars’, but a few days ago he said ‘we spent seven thousand and sent our armies and made sacrifices and I secretly go to Iraq and come back secretly. This shows that we are a failure.’ He even says if we are to stay to defend Saudi Arabia or the Gulf countries they should pay. If Europe wants us to defend it, it must pay. If we are going to defend Japan, it must pay. When you listen to Obama speak, he talks about human rights, democracy and elections. There is a lot of hypocrisy in his narrative. From the first day, you hear Trump talk about billions and millions, dollars, must pay, and so on. He did not respect anyone in his approach. The language he used with Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states in general, was very demeaning. He spoke to his allies, the Europeans, Japan and South Korea like the "neighborhood bully". He wants people to pay money. But he loots their resources, oil and minerals and overpowers their political decision. He does not see all this. He only sees ‘I am protecting you and you have to pay billions of dollars for such protection.’

He, thus, committed to withdrawing the troops. What is happening now in Afghanistan? Today, the Taliban announced, we and the American delegation, headed by Khalilzad, sat in Doha and agreed. We agreed on a draft agreement. We have to review and they have to review it. The draft agreement includes the exit of all foreign forces from Afghanistan within 18 months. This is Trump. We should take this as a basis and address the Lebanese people, the people of the region and the countries of the region and ask where is America heading to in our region.

I think from the first day he became President, Trump wanted to withdraw this modest number of American forces in Syria. They were there under the pretext of being part of the International Alliance during Obama’s term. But his team asked him to slow down. This serves Iran, Russia and President Assad. We are still new. So the man waited. With time, he found that it is useless. That is why seven months ago, I think, he was speaking in a forum and improvised saying ‘we will be coming out of Syria, like, very soon.’ 

We are in a time that requires checking the translation. I told one of the brothers, ‘my brother do you have the English text? He said yes.’ I told him to send it to me and highlight this phrase ‘very soon’. I found that the media was reporting it accurately. Former Secretary of Defense Mattis and other sides objected, stating that this is a free victory for Iran, Russia, and President Assad. It is a wrong and impulsive decision. There is an important story to be told here. There is information. I can even tell you its sources. They asked him to give them some time. If you insist on getting out of Syria, let us gain something in return. No problem. How much time do you need? Six months. The six months period was not officially announced. But CNN and some US media leaked the news that Trump gave his defense secretary a period of six months to withdraw from Syria.

The Americans spoke to the Russians and told them we are ready to get out of all of Syria and not leave any soldiers behind. We are even ready to get out of the al-Tanf area.

A few days ago, a US official said that we will withdraw from Syria, but we will remain in al-Tanf. On that day [when the Americans spoke to the Russians], they said they would even leave al-Tanf. However, their condition was the withdrawal of Iranian forces as well as Hezbollah from Syria. They wanted to talk to the Iranians and President Assad to reach this deal, a coordinate Iranian-American exit from Syria. We are ready. They wanted to leave anyway. They decided to take a price.

At that time, the Russians informed the Iranians and President Putin informed President Rouhani. President Rouhani sent me the message. The Russians sent a high-level delegation to Damascus and met President Assad and informed him of this. They waited for an answer from the Iranians and the Syrians.

While discussing with the Iranians, I was among the bodies that have been asked about this matter in a consultative point of view. I told them that the Americans were leaving whether they liked it or not. They are looking for a price to save face, cover up their exit and say we got out with a great victory. Daesh, however, was not eliminated yet. They wanted to say that we got out but were able to get the Iranians out of Syria. Of course, in America Trump will make it into a great achievement and Netanyahu will make it a greater achievement in the “Israeli” entity.

The Iranians rejected. We are here at the request of the Syrian government. We came to Syria to fight terrorism and the Takfiri groups, which are still in Syria. The reason for our presence did not cease yet. So, there is no point in us getting out. 

President al-Assad also gave the same answer. He said I refuse to let the Iranians leave. Perhaps the term ‘forces’ is not accurate. There are generals, officers, advisers, and logistics. He said ‘I refuse to compare the Iranians to the Americans. The former came at our request. The latter are occupiers. The former are friends and the latter support my enemies. The battle here is not over yet. If they wanted to leave, I will tell them I disagree and you must stay. 

To be fair, of course, Russia did not exert pressure. It was just a messenger. You know in the media, there is an attempt to disrupt the Iranian-Russian relationship. Sometimes, the Russians complicate things; But to be fair, at that time the Russians conveyed the message respectfully and said there is an offer. When the offer was rejected, Russia conveyed the response to the Americans and that was it. Trump was informed that this attempt is futile. Work hard on a Daesh because they had a six months deadline. That is why you notice recently, operations and aerial bombardment have increased and they have massacred in order to eliminate Daesh in Deir ez-Zor.

The deadline was over and Trump did not surprise anyone. War Secretary Mattis and other officials in the United States have known for seven months that the deadline is six months. You could not do anything and you did not benefit. So, the man decided to leave.

Why does he want to leave? He said sand and death. To begin with, the Syrian people mean nothing to him nor does the future of Syria. On the positive dimension, nothing including the elections, freedom, democracy mean anything to him. He is only concerned about “Israel” and maybe some red lines, some discipline and some groups. He says I can serve these through political hegemony, political solution and pressure. He said the air force remained active. When they bombed Damascus following the chemical film, where did they come from? They came from Qatar and from the Mediterranean’s Al-Udeid base. He does not need bases in Syria to continue the military pressure on Syria. He can do it. Thus, he is exiting from the east of the Euphrates and fulfilling one of his electoral promises. This expresses failure. The idea of withdrawing troops from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq as well as decreasing the number of troops and reassessing is really a new strategy. That is what I call the Trumpian version of the American project.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: So he is not maneuvering and not being tactical. He is serious about this matter and as you described him honest. But in the end, it is an expression of failure so as not to say defeat. It is not necessarily a defeat for Trump, but a defeat for the American course as a whole.

Sayyed Nasrallah: It is a failure and a defeat as well. Now the state of hesitation is caused by the fact that the Americans came back and told him that ‘the Kurds are our allies’. I will tell you why this last hesitation took place. The last hesitation when Trump announced the withdrawal. He said that Syria is sand and death. But he said something more important than that. How long will we remain the policeman of the Middle East? He gave more than one signal that these forces in this area need not remain. With time, I want to get out of this area. This is what he caused in the regime Mr. Ghassan. I will leave “Israel” for later. He caused a state of great depression and severe fear in the Saudi regime, many Gulf States hostile to Syria and all of America’s allies whether they are organizations, parties, figures or countries. He knows them. He tells them ‘without us, you would not have lasted a week. Without us, your planes will not fly in the sky and not land. Without us, Saudi, you would be speaking Persian.’ He is telling them that ‘without us’ and ‘we will not stay as a policeman’ and ‘we will leave’. What he said created a state of confusion, weakness and fear in the region. This is the first thing. Therefore, these countries and groups, including the Kurdish parties came to Beirut, asked to meet with Hezbollah and met with us. The parties concerned in the negotiation with the Kurdish units traveled from here and headed to Moscow and then to Iraq, where they asked for an Iraqi mediation with President Bashar al-Assad.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Who do you mean exactly? The Syrian Democratic Forces?

Sayyed Nasrallah: The Syrian Democratic Forces, that is the parties involved in political negotiations are moving quickly to Moscow, to Iraq, to Lebanon, why? Because they felt that he [Trump] betrayed them. This is from the east of the Euphrates.
As for the countries, everyone started thinking of strengthening the relationship with Russia. Some wanted to reconsider the relationship with Iran. People started arranging and wants priorities in Syria. Here, the story of the Arab issue in Syria comes. Should I say it now or later?

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Continue this point precisely.

Sayyed Nasrallah: My information … We have seen in recent weeks that the UAE has reopened its embassy in Syria.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Before that Bashir, President Hassan al-Bashir.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Well done, President Bashir came to Syria. Did he come alone?

Ghassan bin Jiddo: What is your information?

Sayyed Nasrallah: A Saudi green light.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Information.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Yes, a green Saudi-Gulf light. In the end, President Bashir in the last period went to that team. And the issue of going to President Bashar al-Assad is a matter that means much to them.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: Pardon me, it was not a Russian arrangement that angered Saudi Arabia and the UAE?

Sayyed Nasrallah: The problem now between President Bashir and Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with his coming to Syria, but with Saudi Arabia's failure to fulfill the promises and financial commitments, which were unfortunately offered to President Bashir in return for sending Sudanese battalions to fight in Yemen. This problem has nothing to do with Syria.

Anyway, President Al-Bashir’s visit to Syria, the UAE Embassy, the announcement of the Foreign Minister of Bahrain regarding the embassy. By the way, he was lying. He said that ‘our embassy in Damascus remained open and so on. This is not true. We started seeing an Arab atmosphere and leaks from Saudi Arabia. Major General Ali Mamlouk went to Cairo. There was talk that perhaps President Sisi is coming to Damascus. There was also talk that the Mauritanian president is coming to Damascus and so on. What is the reason? Here too, the information is from more than one source. In light of Trump's decision to withdraw and the resignation of Mattis, who was a reassuring element for many, and the concern present in the US administration, a state of very great fear among the Saudi and UAE camp was growing, specifically among these two countries, the Saudi-UAE duo.

They held an evaluation session in Abu Dhabi at a very high level. Where are we in Syria? The battle with President Assad is over. Their camp has failed. All those we financed are now at Mr. Erdogan’s. This means that all those who came out of Syria and were funded by Saudi Arabia left through southern Syria. They were funded by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and “Israel”. They are all now in the north, that is, with President Erdogan. For them the battle with President al-Assad is over. Our factions, our parties, our groups and our factors of influence have failed. It is over. President Assad is a reality and the state has won. The other axis has won in Syria. There is still a dangerous thing, which is Trump’s decision to withdraw. The Kurds have no sanctuary except President Assad and Damascus or a Turkish entry to the east of the Euphrates. Trump told Erdogan that Syria is yours. This means if Turkey wanted to enter Syria, this is a dangerous project for Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Can you imagine that the assessment reached to the following conclusion that the first threat in Syria is not Iran. Turkey is the first threat. Iran is number two. Because President Assad proved himself in the equation, they probably placed him in third place. We can agree with Russia. It forms some sort of guarantee. Their view of Russia is less distressing. They considered Turkey as the danger.

You know, they always think in a sectarian manner. Iran, in the end, forgive me for speaking so frankly, is ultimately a Shiite state. To what extent will its influence be in Syria? While Turkey is a Sunni state and has history of relations with Syria. It is neighboring state and a border state. If Turkey entered Syria, who will make it leave? Here their heart is aching for Syria? No, their heart is not aching for Syria. They consider that the progress of the Turkish project in Syria is the progress of the Turkish-Qatari axis, according to their classification the axis of the Muslim brotherhood. This will revive this project and targets, as they believe, the Saudi, UAE and the Egyptian regimes and so on. Thus, we have to go to Syria and open up to President Assad and to the state in Syria. We keep our rivalry with Iran. We try to reach an understanding with Russia and put a barrier to any progress of Erdogan's project in Syria and thus in the region.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: What happened that they retreated from opening up to Damascus?

Sayyed Nasrallah: The openness began. The talk of Syria's return to the Arab League began. President al-Bashir went to President Assad and spoke to him about the subject. To me President Assad's position was not surprising.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: He spoke to him about what? What is the information available?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Syria should ask. It should send a letter stating that the situation in the region has changed, and that we are keen on the Arab atmosphere and Arab unity and Arab harmony. We want to return to the Arab League. This is the content of the message. The response was ‘we did not get out of the Arab League to ask to return to it. We did not resign from it to withdraw our resignation. Those who took us out must ask us to return.’ This is a cherished, dignified and unexpected position. If the Arab regimes expect that when they tell President Assad and Syria that our doors are open and point with their fingers and Syria will go to them with open arms, they are mistaken. Syria will return to the Arab world. It is in its interest to return to the Arab world. But it will do so with dignity.

The new thing that happened is that they conducted an evaluation in America. Mr. Trump, what did you do? Where are our allies? This ally is now with Russia, and that one is with President Bashar al-Assad. This ally, which is Turkey, is now a threat in Syria and not Iran. We want Iran to remain their enemy. What should we do? Of course, in Lebanon there is very big detail. In what state were the Lebanese political forces that were betting on the fall of the Syrian state and government when they hear Mr. Trump was withdrawing troops from Syria? They took a decision for Mr. Pompeo, to go on a tour of the region. The reason for Pompeo’s tour was these people were in a state of depression and collapse of their morale. They began reconsidering their options, relationships, future and fate, fearing for their thrones. Pompeo’s visit was to make tem stand on their feet again and reassure them that ‘we are with you. We will not abandon you. We do not want you to leave the region. The proof is come with us to Warsaw. We will hold a conference to confront Iran’s influence and threat.’ He also sent David Hill to Lebanon because Pompeo is bigger than Lebanon. Hill conveyed the same content to reassure the people who are scared, downtrodden, cautious and lost about US policy in the region.

But, since we reached this part of the discussion, I want to conclude this point with the following. The Americans can not do any more than what they did. I tell the governments of the region, its rulers, its people, its movements and “Israel” – in the end, we return to “Israel” – the Americans will leave the region. They are getting out of Syria. They may be two months or more or les late. But he has already taken the decision. My brother, he is leaving Afghanistan. He left it for the Taliban. This is because in the deal he took a commitment from Taliban not to allow the return of Al-Qaeda and Daesh to Afghanistan. He behaved as if Taliban is the future government that will provide assurances to the United States. Isn’t this a resounding defeat for the US in Afghanistan? They classified the Taliban as a terrorist organization.
The Americans are leaving. Can the armies launch a war? Trump will not launch a war for Mohammad bin Salman’s sake or Mohammad bin Zayed’s or even for Netanyahu’s. Of course, Netanyahu is more precious to Trump. But even for Netanyahu, Trump will not launch a war. The United States of America is not in a situation that allows it to launch a war in our region due to the internal economic situation of the country. There will be no American war in our region. To the existing governments and regimes, the US wants to gather you again and take from your money, media and blood to face Iran. It has been on Iran’s case for 40 years. Now we are nearing the 40 years anniversary [of the Islamic Revolution], 40 years. Tell me what can the United States along with all the tyrants of the world do that they have not done yet to overthrow this government and blessed Islamic Republic?

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Relatively speaking, now you have revealed to us a very important piece of information that the UAE-Saudi duo has met and made some assessments, perhaps at a major political and strategic security level. The conclusion they reached is what you said. But despite that, it seems that they have succeeded in: first, restraining the Arab states from opening up to Damascus; and second, now we are hearing a new type of rhetoric.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Restraining them is a normal thing. They can be quickly restraint. You are assuming that these are brave, independent and real-willed countries that can rebel against their American masters. No.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: What is meant is that it has returned not only to mobilize them, but as if the US returned in such a way that it became the axis once again, that is Saudi Arabia, the UAE and all countries returned to be what is described as moderate countries.

Sayyed Nasrallah: This is not called success. This is called preventing a rapid collapse, a state of collapse of the other axis.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: In this case, did it slow down or stop the opening up to Syria?

Sayyed Nasrallah: The language that we heard and has been conveyed to us is not yet clear on whether they decided to stay with no contact or full negativity. I will give you an indication. Two days ago, there was a meeting between an Emirati and Syrian economic delegation – I am not sure whether the meeting was in Damascus or in the UAE. At a certain level, I think they will continue. At a certain level during secret meetings, later it becomes clear that there are visitors who came to Syria and important figures from some of these Arab countries who have not been announced. But this matter is in the hands of the Syrian leadership. It may announce it later. High levels in terms of the security apparatus at least.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Heads and intelligence agencies, for example?

Sayyed Nasrallah: For example.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Decision-makers?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Yes.

Ghassan Bin Jiddo: From these active Gulf States?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Let us now say from Arab countries. Do not narrow the circle for me and tell me Sheikh or Sayyed, Sir or Hajj, doctor or engineer. This much is enough. Of course influential.
Now the Americans are trying to rally these Arab countries back. But of course they have not yet provided them with anything convincing or reassuring telling them that we will not leave Syria for Turkey. This is what Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egyptian President Sisi and others want to hear clearly. Therefore, we might see some slowing down or coldness to rush toward Syria in the Arab topic. I am not claiming that this subject will completely end. Thus, I conclude this point by saying that the Americans failed in Syria. Of course, Netanyahu was the one who was most disappointed by this failure.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Only one more point, Your Eminence, on the issue of President Bashar al-Assad. You mentioned a little while ago when the Russians conveyed an American message stating the importance of the Iranian ally and other allies to withdraw. He refused this issue. I would like to go back to the last address a few months ago. At the time he mentioned the allies, thanked and gave them with very positive signals; the Russian ally, the Iranian ally and he named Imam Khamenei as well as the resistance in Lebanon. Your Eminence, my question is: Is this salutation coming President Assad’s loyalty? It is known that this man is morally loyal with all his allies. Is this salutation from a moral loyalty or is a message with strategic depth? These are my allies during the war and steadfastness and thus are my allies in the later stages? Those were my allies during war and steadfastness, hence they will be my allies in the coming stages.

Sayyed Nasrallah: It is both. The two can be combined. It is a moral and strategic position as well. He thinks in this way. He makes all those who have visited him so far and tried to get close to him clearly and frankly aware that those who stood with me and with Syria during these years and helped me prevent it from falling into the hands of the terrorists and division and so on, ‘I can not give them up or cut off my relationship with them, whatsoever.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: I am not talking about cutting off relations. I am talking about the strategic dimensions. Where will Syria exactly be in the next stage after the final political solution? Is it within this strategic option of maintaining open relations with the West or return to square one, which we started from in 2011?

Sayyed Nasrallah: It is in this position, in this strategic option, can open wider relations with the West. It is possible. President Bashar tried. Before him, President Hafez tried. But the problem was always the West wants in return of relations more concessions and submission, for example. The Syrian leadership refuses this, now and then.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: I'm taking you to the “Israeli” side. Is it in this equation? What is the relationship between Syria and “Israel”, especially after the American decision?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We consider that there is a battle between Netanyahu and us. Netanyahu now presents himself as leading victories on multiple fronts and employed this in his visits to Oman and Chad. We saw how he dealt with the tunnels. Weren’t you the Prime Minister from 2011 until today? Where is your project in Syria? Why do not you be honest to your people and tell them you have lost all your bets so far in Syria? He bet on the downfall of the regime and the downfall of President Assad. He bet on the collapse of the Syrian army. He bet on the terrorist and tyrannical groups in taking control of Syria. He provided them with support. Before leaving, Eizenkot admitted for the first time that they [the “Israelis”] gave arms and ammunition to the armed groups, medicine and hospitalization. It was public. But as an official confession that you provided them with weapons and ammunition was surprising. You fought with them in southern Syria. You were targeting the Syrian army’s positions and cannons in many operations when the terrorist organizations were losing. And you were part of this global, diplomatic, media political, security and military war on Syria. Your objective was to overthrow President Bashar, the downfall of the regime and the collapse of the Syrian Arab Army. What did you achieve? Where are the groups you armed and defended in Syria now? This is first.

Today, Netanyahu has returned to saying that our guarantee is our army, our borders and our entity. But you have not practiced this for seven years. This is the first failure. The second failure. You set an objective for your attacks in Syria to bomb for logistical purposes in order to prevent Hezbollah in Lebanon from obtaining qualitative weapons and precision rockets. That is why they were vague and did not admit it, both Eizenkot and him. Why was this subject insisted upon? There is a political and media side to all this. It also has to do with the personal dimensions and the elections of both of them. He sometimes says we conducted 200 bombing operations, other times he says 200 and then 400. What was the result? You were not able to prevent the arrival of the required capabilities to Lebanon. You also failed in Syria. You conduct bombings. But that does not mean that you are achieving the objective. Anyone can bomb.

The third objective was to drive Iran out of Syria. You went back and forth to Moscow. You used your influence in America to the extent that the Americans based their withdrawal from Syria on Iran leaving Syria. This failed. Tell me where is the achievement in Syria he is boasting of?

If I want to make a quick assessment on this point, I would say the “Israelis” were disappointed in Syria. Everything they’ve done from 2011 until today did not lead to a result. This is Syria with its army rising again. Its air defenses have become stronger and better. Its army has now more experience. Syria will heal and will be built again. It will be better than it was, God willing. Despite the pains and wounds it endured, it will not abandon its national and Arab responsibility.

There is one more issue remaining. Netanyahu says that through military force, I want to force Iran to leave Syria. This is not a new objective. He has been working on achieving this for several years and failed. So far, he has failed politically to drive Iran out of Syria. He also failed militarily by bombing Iran out. Where does Netanyahu want to go with this? Which has happened in the past few days in Syria’s airspace is of course and undoubtedly a great development. Therefore, at the beginning of this interview, I asked him to pay attention very well and not miscalculate. At any moment a decision might be taken. I don’t want to say the decision has been taken. At any moment Syria might take the decision to address the “Israeli” aggressions against it in a different manner. It will be addressed by the Syrian state and the axis of resistance too. Why am I telling him not to miscalculate? You are asking me what changed? He has been more than two months and more than two years bombing, and the situation is still the same. While he is bombing, of course, he is somewhere paying attention to the rules of engagement until this moment, for example when it comes to Hezbollah or the Iranians. When our brothers in Quneitra were martyred, an Iranian Brigadier was martyred with them. The “Israeli” denied knowing that there was an Iranian present with them. That is as if they are saying we do not want to kill Iranians. We killed Hezbollah young men and the response was in Lebanon. He is attentive not to kill from our young men because we are committed to responding in Lebanon. Even if it was an operation targeting Syrians, the “Israelis” try not to kill. To be fair, sometimes Syrian officers and air force personnel who are directly fighting get killed in the process. Even Iranians. If I remember, at T4 martyrs fell. You might tell me what is the difference? The difference is first, during the past period everyone’s priority was not to go into a big fight with the “Israelis” in Syria. The priority was to finish the internal battle. It is true the internal battle is not yet over, but we are in a better position. This is a variable. Netanyahu and his people must pay attention to this variable. The psychological, moral, logistical situation as well as the situation on the field and the capabilities in Syria now are different from the year 2018, 2017, and 2016. 

The second important variable is that the Syrian army greatly recovered. The third and most important variable is Syrian defense and its ability to confront, which has improved significantly. Some can even see the Russian factor from a negative angle. But it can be seen from a positive angle because the Russian factor may give some margin to the “Israelis”. But it cannot open all the margins for it to go far.

Even our axis in Iraq is now relaxed. Daesh is eliminated. Even in Iran. Trump was waiting for on November 14, when the sanctions come into force. He said that millions would take to the streets and the regime would fall. Iran assimilated the issue. Not even a small sit-in took place. Therefore, Iran, despite the sanctions, is coherent and comfortable. We are relaxed in Iraq. We are relaxed in Syria. We are relaxed in Lebanon in general from a strategic point of view.

Therefore, there are important variables. All the estimates that are now presented by the senior generals and respectable institutions in the “Israeli” entity have a strategic environment in the region is different from last year and before last year. They are saying the war is dangerous and will not be at one front or with one side. They are saying it might come down on us from all the fronts. What will come on the internal front will be very great and very dangerous. They must take all these variables in the strategic environment into account. Of course, our axis is taking into account as well.

I would like to say the conclusion because time is beginning to run out. The conclusion I would like to say tonight is a message to Netanyahu that you have to be careful about going too far in Syria. Do not miscalculate and do not take the region into a war or a great confrontation.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Do we understand that all the recent “Israeli” attacks, which frankly, Your Eminence, is becoming pretty insulting since we’ve received thousands of questions, do we understand that the lack of response from the axis in general – Syria is defending itself when “Israel” attacks, we always hear the reaction that it is defending – is a result od a political decision or a military inability? At the same time, when we talk about a political decision, is it a self-made political decision or is it because of – I do not want to say influence or pressure – a Russian wish not to respond?

Sayyed Nasrallah: It is a political vision. It is a political decision emerging from the organization of priorities at that stage. It is not a military inability at all. It is a political decision that regulates the priorities.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: A self-made political decision?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Yes.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Now, when you tell Netanyahu that he should be aware that the axis might respond, the axis isn’t it? Is my understanding accurate? The axis and not Damascus, the axis may respond?
Sayyed Nasrallah: But at the forefront of it is Damascus. Damascus is the first decision maker.
Ghassan bin Jiddo: If Netanyahu goes too far, the axis might respond, to what extent? Can we believe the words of Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari at the Security Council? Of course, he was speaking on behalf of Damascus and his leadership and not from his own. Are you waiting for us, for example, to respond to Tel Aviv?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Everything is possible. In a moment, everything is possible.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Is the axis of resistance considering the strategic assessment of this matter now?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Certainly. When we talk about events this kind, there is communication and assessment.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Now you communicate, consult and evaluate this matter.

Sayyed Nasrallah: There is communication, evaluation, examination, scrutinizing, take lessons from and reassessment of the situation.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: What you said a little while ago that Netanyahu should be aware that the axis might respond. You are talking on behalf of the axis and not just as Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Of course.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: So, Netanyahu was sent a clear message today, and the public opinion, which has wondered as well, I think he has also received a precise answer regarding this.
Of course, time is running out. We expected to end the year’s discussion at this moment. If I may, Your Eminence, give us an additional half hour. Also to our viewers, I ask them an additional half hour of their time. We will talk quickly and with brief answers about Lebanon, Bahrain and part of Iraq. We hope so, Your Eminence, and we are very confident in your intensification and concentration of the answers.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Your Eminence, regarding Palestine, is it possible to say that the “Deal of the Century” is frozen or over?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We cannot say that it is over. But was largely shaken. It may be frozen. I would like to repeat what I said before. I said this deal has three sides, Trump, Netanyahu and Mohammed bin Salman. You see in what situation Netanyahu is. You see in what situation Trump is. I believe that the most important part of the “Deal of the Century” was Prince Mohammed bin Salman. That deal needed an Arab part, an Arab country with a leading position and a certain religious sanctity, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and has thousands of billions of dollars. It has media, religion, money, dinars and everything. He promotes and imposes this project. Of course he does so in return for 50 years on the throne. This is the real “Deal of the Century”.

Anyway, Prince Mohammed bin Salman is in a difficult situation. He needs a lifeboat. He is no longer a pillar on which to build a project of this size in the region on. He needs someone to save him in Saudi Arabia, the region, the Arab world and even in the United States and in Congress also. This is the result of his failure in Yemen, his failure inside the kingdom and why Saudi Arabia is suffering today as it passes through the worst stages of its life at every level, as well as the crime committed at the Saudi consulate against the journalist Khashoggi. Because of all these events, I think today that this side is no longer part of the equation. This means that Mohammad bin Salman cannot do anything for the “Deal of the Century”. This is one. The Arab backbone has fallen. My information says that Kushner, in early 2018, met with the Jordanians and the Egyptians as well as several Gulf and African countries. All of them, including the Egyptians said that this deal was heavy on our shoulders. We need a strong shoulder. The only strong Arab shoulder that can carry this project are the Saudis and Mohammad bin Salman. And he has fallen. 
In addition, there is a real problem in the “Deal of the Century”. Even if Mohammad bin Salman remained. There is an existing problem. The Palestinians are to be commended for this. You will never find a Palestinian, no matter what his post was in any Palestinian faction or organization or his position was, who would sign on the deal. The Palestinians, for example signed the Oslo Agreement. We have a clear stance regarding the Oslo Agreement. You might impose on someone to bargain on the interest of the refugees. At the border, someone might agree to demilitarized state. Someone might swap lands. But you will never find a Palestinian willing to sign a deal that does not include east Al-Quds, at the very least. The real problem in the “Deal of the Century” is that where would they get a man like that? The whole project of the “Deal of the Century” is built on this basis. Thus, this is a project that originally carries its own failure within it. It is not viable.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: You have always positively pointed out to the Palestinians, the official side and Fatah. At this point, can we say that the axis of resistance, mainly Iran and Hezbollah, has a very good relationship with the military wing, the Qassam brigades, despite frosty period between you and the major resistance faction, Hamas, over the past years?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Even with the political wing.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Now, you are telling us even with the political wing. You had excellent relations with the resistance factions and with other national factions, not just with Hamas and Jihad, even the other national factions. We received a couple of questions, Your Eminence, shaming you for not establishing relations – I am talking about the axis of resistance – with all the Palestinians. In other words, you do not look at all the Palestinians as a whole but rather as pieces, mainly Ramallah, the authority and Fatah.

Sayyed Nasrallah: We have a relationship with everyone. We have a relationship with the Fatah movement. The Palestinian Embassy represents the Authority and not the Fatah movement. We have a good relationship with them and receive them constantly. When the [US] embassy was moved to Al-Quds, I received all the Palestinian factions. A delegation from Fatah and from Ramallah came. I met with them personally. They regularly meet with my brothers. Therefore, we, Hezbollah, have relations with all the factions with no exception.

Syria also had relationship with everyone. Now, if there is a problem in the relationship it is with Hamas only, with Fatah, with the Popular Front. The rest of the organizations are in Syria and abroad. As for the Islamic Republic, the Embassy of Palestine in the Islamic Republic follows who follow? The Palestinian Authority. It does not belong to Hamas or to the resistance factions or to the coalition forces. Yes, of course, the relationship is not warm or cold. The level of coordination and communication differ. This is normal because we differ in visions, programs and priorities. But even our axis is keen on having relationship with everyone.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: You spoke a little while ago about the weakness of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Do you think that this weakness may reflect positively on the resolution of the Bahraini and Yemeni files?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Of course.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: How?

Sayyed Nasrallah: First in Bahrain, I have always said this even in the media. If the decision was in the hands of the Al-Khalifa regime and their rulers, they could have gone into dialogue with the Bahraini opposition, which has always supported dialogue. I know the Bahraini opposition asked several countries to mediates. Qatar entered the mediation and later they accused Sheikh Salman of spying for Qatar. Turkey entered the mediation. Then Turkish foreign minister Oglu went to Bahrain mediating to solve the Bahrain crisis. The prince of Kuwait entered the mediation. Several countries entered the mediation. But when they returned the conclusion was the matter was with Saudi.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Now how is Saudi Arabia? Can it be reflected positively or not?

Sayyed Nasrallah: So far, it has not been positively reflected.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Because the life sentence of Sheikh Salman points to extremism and not vice versa.

Sayyed Nasrallah: So far, it has not been positively reflected, but it might reflect positively. If the situation continues the way it is, it may reflect positively.

This is also the case in Yemen. In fact, what is preventing a solution and dialogue or even preventing the launching of dialogue in Bahrain is Saudi. Tomorrow, anyone in the regime in Bahrain can respond to me. But this is the truth that all the people of Bahrain know.

As for Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have gone too far. Thanks to the steadfastness of the Yemenis and their heroism. I consider their steadfastness legendary. I am talking about knowledge, the military and the field. One plus one equals two. They used to say that the resistance’s experience in Palestine is being taught in military academies in the world. It is most useful and wise to teach the Yemeni experience in military academies in the world is. It is amazing.

In any case, the Yemeni people were steadfast and patient. The worst forms of war, economy, starvation, disease, economic siege, treachery, sectarian incitement, aerial bombardment, destruction, were launched against them. But they persevered.

Today, the Saudis and the Emiratis reached a point where they cannot continue the war. Even the so-called international community is tired. My brother, where are you heading? It has become embarrassing. In any case, I think that our brothers in Yemen are thinking the following. We have to be careful. But they also want to find a solution. The war must end. Why should the war end? It is not out of the goodness of Trump’s or Mohammed Bin Salman’s heart or anyone who was involved in this historic crime against the people of Yemen and the civilization of Yemen. It is because of the field and military failure. He brought all the mercenaries in the world and failed. The ceiling is the political solution. That is ending the war and going to a political solution. The deadline given is not clear. But in any case, I know that the brothers in Yemen are very cautious and must be so because the other party imposed on them the facts and the international situation to address this matter. But if they sensed negligence, forgetfulness or weakness, their priority is certainly to change the equation and return to their old options.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: There is no doubt in what you said about the legend of the Yemeni people militarily and in steadfastness being taught in the world. But the Yemeni people also proved to be great. They learn and be educated. The Yemeni people have arts, education, music and love. They are a people that teach us and all the free people of the world. 

Sayyed Nasrallah: I did not previously follow the Yemen and Saudi Arabia file very much. But when the crisis began, there was a problem with the mentality and a sense of arrogance toward the Yemeni people. I know that Mohammad bin Salman me with some figures and told them ‘you want to convince me that the Yemenis produce missiles? The Yemenis produce drones? Yes, Mohammad bin Salman, these Yemenis that you are belittling, who are besieged and hungry and being killed day and night is producing missiles and drones. In a hundred years, you will never produce missiles or drones. If Iran really could deliver these missiles to Yemen despite all the American, European, Western, Gulf, and Saudi satellites in addition to a sea and land blockade, then you have a disaster.

Ghassan Bin Jiddo: Regarding Lebanon, Your Eminence, before we talk about the government file, what is your take on the economic summit hosted by Lebanon, the performance of the President of the Republic and the performance of Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil? Clearly and directly.

Sayyed Nasrallah: directly on the insistence on holding the summit. Regardless of the remarks raised about some of the invited parties, the problem of Libya, for example. Also holding the summit and managing it, as well as the talk that was said at the summit, especially the political talk. But it is practically an economic summit. They issued great expectations about the summit which were wrong. If kings and Arab presidents came, the value would have been moral and political. But it is nothing economically. The summit was decided since 2013. Perhaps when they decided in 2013 in Lebanon, they thought that Syria would have fallen. They did not expect that Syria’s situation is different.

Anyways, the economic results of the summit have nothing to do with the level of attendance. These are the Arabs and this is what they reached economically. But the summit and the political language that was used was related to the Palestinian refugees and the right of return. It had something to do with Al-Quds. The talk about it was excellent. It had something to do with the brave Lebanese position. What the president also said about the demand that Syria return and that we Arabs should ask Syria to return. This is a very important position. Personally, I liked his courage when he said it is shameful to ask permission from anyone or wait for permission from anyone. Of course, the attendees were annoyed. After all they were told that you are waiting for a US permission.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: You mean Minister Gebran Bassil?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Of course, Minister Bassil told them this. In addition, the language spoken by Minister Gebran regarding the subject of His Eminence Sayyed Musa al-Sadr and demanding the Libyan state to take real responsibility in this matter. It is able to do so. I call on them. You are able to help in this case. You are not responsible for what happened. You were not the rulers at the time. But you did not do the real thing. You are capable now. As it was said during the summit, it is not a Shiite cause. It is a national cause, a Lebanese cause. An Arab cause and an Islamic cause. It means a lot to many Muslims in the world. So, I think that the summit regardless from some of the remarks and confusions that occurred was a reasonable and successful summit. What is important in it is the administrative aspect and the political content.

As for the issue of the displaced, of course, there was a development in the situation. Perhaps we did not reach the high position that Lebanon aspires to. You know the Lebanese, they disagree among themselves regarding the situation. But this too was a development and an achievement.
Ghassan Bin Jiddo: Of course, President Aoun behaved like a head of state with poise. But today and yesterday, we received hundreds of questions. I am not exaggerating. Almost all of them are asking the same thing. How does Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah look at President Michel Aoun, his ally and former president of the Free Patriotic Movement, as well as the movement’s current head Minister Gebran Bassil? How does he see the future of the relationship between Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement?

Sayyed Nasrallah: First, with regard to General Aoun, since you separated them. We are how we used to be with the President. Nothing has changed in the relationship, affection, communication, understanding each other and strategic causes. For example, in the tunnels incident, I mentioned that everyone, including General Aoun, was on the same page. This is normal. During the July war, we were partners with Parliament Speaker Berri. Today, the president is not the head of the Free Patriotic Movement. Today, he is the president of the Lebanese Republic. Yet, his performance, stance and strength have not changed. The relationship and trust between us has not been shaken. We might disagree on details like in the past, in 2006, 2007, 2008 and later, during the elections as well as student, union and professional elections. It happens. We have long separated between detailed procedural issues. We are two parties and not one. The same when we talk about the Amal Movement and us. We are two parties and not one. But the relationship with His Excellency is not flawed. On the contrary, if there was a misunderstanding between him and I, he would letter me and I would letter him. So, we clarify to each other. We are very keen on this relationship. And most importantly, when confidence and affection remain, the rest of the things can be addressed.

Some consider that the personal relationship between me and Mr. Gebran Bassil may be special. However, some would joke to the extent of saying that Sayyed tolerates Gebran. In truth, our friendship started at the start of the relation between the party and the movement. Our relationship is based on respect, friendship and honesty. I honestly say, this friendship with General Aoun and with Mr. Gebran Bassil was strengthened by 2006 and after that Wikileaks. There are people who said one thing in public and said another thing in internal meetings with the Americans. But General Aoun said the same thing in public and during internal meetings. The same goes to Gebran Bassil. Of course, not everyone in the movement did the same thing. There are members in the movement who said one thing in public and said something else during internal meetings with the Americans.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Regarding the performance during the last period? In general.

Sayyed Nasrallah: As for the head of the movement, Gebran, personally, is a credible man. I tell everyone, who discusses with me, based on my experience with him in 2006. 
We may disagree. For example, we discussed a lot regarding the electoral law and the electoral alliances. We discussed and got weary together. This is normal. We are allies and each one has their own accounts. The point I want to reach here, and in fact I want to address the supporters of the movement as well as the supporters of the resistance and not just Hezbollah’s is that when we are allies is does not mean that we are one. This also applies to with us and the Amal movement or us with other political forces. If we become one, then we are no longer allies. We become one party or one movement. We are two. When we say two, it might mean two different cultures. Two projects that might differ in some horizons, literatures and visions. Otherwise, we would not be two. But we have great strategic, tactical agreements. Hence, even in the topic of Amal and us, one should not hear, for example, from Parliament Speaker Berri the same logic that they hear from me, regardless of whether we have the same convictions or not. In the end, he is the Speaker of Parliament. He cannot speak about the Saudi issue the same way I speak. We might believe in different things. But even if Berri and I agreed and had the same convictions when it comes to Saudi Arabia or Yemen. However, he has a certain way of speaking about these. He also has different convictions. But we are in agreement in most of the matters. No one expects from Gebran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic Movement, or our friends in the Free Patriotic Movement – because the problem is not only with Gebran – to have the same literature, the same language and the same strategic vision that are related to the regional and national situation as us. Here, I am talking about general things so as not to delve into details.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Is the original alliance still fixed?

Sayyed Nasrallah: The alliance is there. The understanding is there. The relationship is there. The communication is there. In the most complicated and difficult issues, we talk to each other and communicate with each other. There is no problem in this matter. The same thing I say to our supporters, I also tell the supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement.

Let me tell you something. During one of the meetings David Hill held in Lebanon, he said to a group of people that we must bet and work to sow division between Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement. This was in the recent meetings during his visit to Lebanon. There is work being done on this subject.
Our brothers and friends in the Free Patriotic Movement should also be calm. Hezbollah is not the Free Patriotic Movement. Hezbollah is Hezbollah, and the Free Patriotic Movement is the Free Patriotic Movement. This means that if the head of the movement said something that does not mean that we all agree with him. If I disagree and I have a remark or someone from Hezbollah commentated, they will make a big deal out of it. This is a problem we face in the social networking sites. Most of the times, the problem starts with someone else and we get dragged into it. It might start in Lebanon. It might be from Tel Aviv. They have set up an electronic army over there. Saudi Arabia has an electronic army as well. Now in Iraq, there is also an electronic army defaming scholars and religious authorities. In Lebanon its starts like this. Then you find chaos with the Amal movement, Hezbollah, the Patriotic movement, the Future movement and the socialist movement.

We have to be calm and tolerate one another. On February 6 we have the 40th anniversary for the Islamic Revolution. We chose February 6 to leave distance with February 16, so that there is a separation between the two speeches. My brothers told me ‘but on February 6 it is so and so’. I told them that is good. This way I can talk about the regional and the local topics.
This relationship exists, and I hope the Lebanese tolerate and bear one another. Allies bear each other. We even tolerate people who are not our allies. We are also keen on giving and taking as well as discussing.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Suleiman Frangieh, is he still in this eye?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Suleiman Frangieh remains there. It has not changed.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Despite all the positivity you have mentioned and that we should tolerate each other, there are accusations that have arisen a few days ago. Hezbollah is being accused of wanting to change the Taif agreement and go to the tripartite. Your clear answer, Your Eminence.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Clearly, this talk has no basis, to be transparent. Some Christian circles speak of this. They say the tripartite is the interest of the Muslims. Some circles are inciting them against this speech. The tripartite is in the interest of the Sunnis and Shiites, namely the Muslims in particular. The Shiites would take third. The Sunnis would also take third. The Christian would take third. The Druze’s seats would be determined later. But this topic is baseless. First of all, I deny that this topic has any basis. We Shiites, here I talk on my behalf, on behalf of Parliament Speaker Berri, Hezbollah, the Amal movement, the Shia Council, Shiite scholars, Shiite women and Shiite children in Lebanon. The greatest part of the accusation is directed to the Shiites in this matter. We have never spoken this in a public or private gathering. I can claim that it did not even occur to us. This is the first time we hear this talk. I said this in the media. The Iranians told this to me, and I told it to Mr. Berri. The Iranians told me via the French. Lebanon’s 2005-2006 problem. The country is in crisis. They want to go to a political solution. The French proposed this idea to the Iranians at the Iranian Foreign Ministry. Not to accuse the French, they did not propose it as a project but rather as thinking out loud. That is as a research, so to speak. The Iranians asked me about this. At the time, I sent to Berri about this matter. We told them it was wrong and we have not considered it. That was that. Then it was leaked in Lebanon by that side.

Today, we did not out this matter forward. I challenge even those who have fears or worries to bring me a Shiite sheikh, not from Hezbollah or Amal, or a Shiite journalist, anyone that has relations with the Shiite decision-makers. Let him say the he suggested this idea.

This is completely baseless. This has always been part of provoked concern and fear among the Lebanese, so that the people fight each other.

I admire one of General Aoun’s expressions a lot. He said following the result of the understanding. There is security in the country. That is good. Understanding created internal peace. We need internal peace. What does internal peace mean? It means that people are comfortable with each other and reassured with each other. It does not mean that at the smallest problem, you would find that the trenches are back and the people carried sticks and then weapons. We need internal peace. Those who are talking about the tripartite are preventing us from attaining internal peace. They want fear and concern to take over a large segment of the Lebanese people especially the Christians. It the same thing in provoking fears among the Sunnis by using the Taif agreement. You know, our Sunni brothers in Lebanon consider the Taif to be a historical gain. Great, no problem. Every period of time, they are told that Hezbollah and the Shiites will so and so. Here, the y accuse the Christians with us. They want to change the Taif. They want to abolish the Taif. I even joked once saying that as if it is required from us to put away the accusation that during the Adhan we have to say after ‘I testify that there is no God but Allah’ ‘I testify that the Taif is the book of God’. They have reached this extent.

My brother, we do not want to change the Taif. We don’t abolish it. One day, Patriarch Al-Rahi said that it is necessary to develop ways in closing the gaps and develop the Taif. I spoke the same language. It was made into a big. On one day during the Arab Spring, I spoke about the idea of establishing a founding conference but at the same time what did I say? A founding conference for the development of the Taif agreement and not abolishing it. It was made into a big deal. Someone else would have probably been stubborn about it. I just withdrew. I told them, brothers, I meant to develop the Taif and not to draft a constitution. Now, brother, we have withdrawn it.

We are not thinking about the tripartite or changing of Taif, or even the development of the Taif or filling the gaps in it. We are saying that this should be done with a Lebanese consensus and accord. Therefore, there is no need to worry about this. There are always certain sides that provoke concerns among the Lebanese popular and political elements because they do not want internal peace. 

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Perhaps during the last five minutes, Your Eminence, you can talk to us about to the government. To what extent are you prepared to wait until the government is formed? Second, are you prepared to wait indefinitely, provided that you hold on to your request regarding the consultative meeting or the appointment of a minister who is known as the Sunni minister from the axis of Arabism and the national resistance?

Sayyed Nasrallah: First of all, we insist on forming a government. We want to form a government. It is in the interest of all Lebanese people to form a government as soon as possible. We have said this from day one.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Does Iran have anything to do with it? Does the American-Iranian problem have anything to do with it?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We have provided all the facilities since day one. When I mentioned ‘counting’ in the last speech before the silence, I did not mean to count according to sect in Lebanon. I meant to count I the elections. To count the deputies and the blocs. Some people went too far. We did not stop at the counting. We did not say that we the two blocs, the Loyalty and the Development and Liberation, are 30 deputies so we want 8 ministers. We could have taken the six ministers plus one Sunni and one Christian too or Druze or and Alawite. We could have done more than that. We, the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc, Development and Liberation, our nationalist brothers, our Sunni brothers in the consultation meeting, the Marada, Prince Talal and others, could have formed a bloc of 40 to 45 deputies and say we are the largest bloc in Lebanon and we want 10 ministers.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Why didn’t you do that? It would become a national political direction and not a sectarian trend.

Sayyed Nasrallah: We did not do that because we did not want to disrupt the issue, because we wanted to accelerate and facilitate the issue.

Ghassan ibn Jiddo: But you were misunderstood.

Sayyed Nasrallah: That is what I said last time when I spoke about humility and the kindness of the heart. I admit, we should have done that. During the speech, I said we should have done that, but we showed good will. I, for example, did not expect that they would deal with our allies in this way because they were saying a national unity government and all the results of the elections. These are the results of the elections.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Are you still committed to this?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We are committed. But let me continue with an additional thing. Never did Iran have anything to do with formation of the government – from eight months or nine months until today. Never did Syria have anything to do with the formation of the government. Regarding our camp, there is no outside influence. Usually in Lebanon they say we are waiting for whether Trump will withdraw from the nuclear agreement or not. He withdrew and the government was not formed. They are waiting 14-11 – the date of the start of US sanctions on Iran – it was not formed. So, what are we waiting for? Now, there is a new tone. They are waiting for the Warsaw Conference. Now, Hezbollah is disrupting the formation of the government. This never occured to anyone, Ghassan. It did not occur to me. I am one of Hezbollah, my brother. I want to disrupt the government, but I did not have the Warsaw Conference in my mind, nor did we have the knowledge about it. This is the absurdity and stupidity that we have in the country.
We have no external consideration. We told them the results of the elections are great. They have the right to one minister. Give them a minister. Since day one we said that. At some point the movement and I got upset. We did not surprise anyone with this matter. We did not surprise the president or Gebran, or the movement, or Prime Minister Saad Hariri or anyone concerned with the government formation. Since day one or at least two months or three months before the problem, we have been saying that they have the right to be represented and so on.
Today we say that the government must be formed and no there is no other choice than this.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: According to your information, will there soon be a breakthrough or not?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Not to be optimistic or pessimistic, there are serious efforts. There is work being done day and night. There are still two complications. Someone is saying that the complication lie on the portfolios. No, the complications are in making the minister from the consultation meeting a minister and the distribution of the portfolios. The two complications still persist, but in there has been extraordinary effort in the past few days, last night, and today. There is an attempt to find solutions to these two complications. Will we get a result or not? It requires prayer.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Last question, Your Eminence. Frankly, this is the most commonly asked question that we’ve received in Lebanon. The economic situation is difficult. The social situation is more difficult. The fight against corruption so far has not started as required, as you promised. What is your take on this?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Look, sometimes there is doubt about whether we are serious or not about this issue. We are serious about it. Of course, the economic situation in Lebanon is not the result of one, two or three years. It is the result of decades of wrong policies, rampant corruption in the administrations and so on. First, I would like to tell the viewers that we need time. No one expects that after six or seven months of fighting corruption you will find results. You can ask me where am I now. But you cannot ask me why I have not gotten rid of corruption in Lebanon. This is a long, difficult, complicated, dangerous and sensitive battle. But we insist on fighting it. We did not hesitate or waver even though when we looked into the files we saw how hard they are. I will give you an example in two minutes. When I announce this, a prominent figure in Lebanon – without naming him – an expert who cares about me said, ‘Sayyed Hassan and his brothers tomorrow will look into the files. They will find corruption but will not find any corrupt persons to hold them responsible.’ Of course, the man is an expert and has experience and a dinosaur in politics. Go on, guys. Let us see. It turned out that the biggest problem in Lebanon is corruption under the law. The first way to fight corruption is to fundamentally change some rules. For example, the amicable contracting out law. For example, this road costs fifty million dollars to build. I contract a company for sixty million dollars, ten million for me and 50 million for them. But is there a document that proves that I took ten million for me to submit to the judiciary? There is no document. When it comes to documents, we are so good. The law allows him to contract out someone. Therefore, the first huge step as we wait for the parliament and all the political forces in the country is to abolish amicable contracting out. We have to resort to tenders. I am not claiming nor is Hezbollah is claiming that tenders will 100% cut off the road to financial corruption. Tenders will complicate the matter by 90%. It will complicate the matter and make it very difficult. However, it will make detecting corruption easier. Not like the amicable contracting out which takes place in the dark of the night.

We have signed. The Development and Liberation bloc signed. Now, there is a discussion between us and the Strong Lebanon bloc and other parliamentary blocs. We are discussing this issue. If a law is passed by the parliament, we of course are with everything going through tenders to expand this administration. Making the work of this law easy so that all projects can be implemented and we do not disrupt the country. To the Lebanese people and not just Mr. Ghassan, the first step required to fight corruption is to close the door on corruption. The old corruption needs solution. I want to fight the existing corruption and the doors of corruption are open! Closing the door of corruption begins with legislation, laws, regulations and mechanisms that prevent thieves, corrupt people and robbers from exploiting state money in Lebanon and loot state funds in this way. We will continue until the end.

Of course, not having a government affected our situation. One of the problems in fighting corruption that has emerged before us and will grow, but we will also face it, is the political interference in the judiciary and political cover of the corrupt. We studied all of these and faced them. Our files and our staff are ready and we move forward, God willing. I believe that the fight against corruption can fortify the country. All the political forces say they are ready to cooperate in this matter.

The economic, financial, social and livelihood issue is the priority of the next government. I even said in the last speech, which was an angry speech, that we really want a government that would spend the money it will get from CEDRE on the Lebanese people. This is our battle. The greatest battle now is Hezbollah and all the forces in Lebanon committed to fighting corruption. We have a new experience. Money, most of which are loans, would come. They are not gifts. Will this money be spent on useful projects? Will its theft be prevented? This is the real battle we will be fighting.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: Frankly, I am asking on behalf of everyone here in Lebanon, one more minute, Your Eminence. Everyone thought your relations with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the Future Movement will enter a turning point. It would be positive following his detention in Saudi Arabia. But that did not happen. To be fair, the man is calm with you. But there was no qualitative leap that has been sought and is still being sought, why?

Sayyed Nasrallah: These are due to regional and internal conditions and difficulties. He cannot ignore Saudi Arabia on this subject. I understand his situation. Prime Minister Saad Hariri is not with us. I can testify that he is trying to round the corners with all the political forces in Lebanon, regardless of his previous assessment of what happened with him, who stood with him and who conspired against him. He is trying to round the corners. He is trying to play a role on this level. But in the end there are the regional situation, camps and the different axes and some visions and domestic sensitivities. I think do not allow. 

Ghassan bin Jiddo: To what extent are you open?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We are keen on openness, cooperation and positivity with Prime Minister Hariri. Are we attacking the Future Movement? Not a word from me, or from our deputies or ministers or leaders. Nothing. But they attack us, day and night, using very cruel phrases. My brothers tell me that it seems like they have nothing better to do than insult us. Of course, I ask Prime Minister Hariri to silence them. They have nothing to say but insult Hezbollah. But we do not exchange insults. What is the point of that except provoking sensitivities, commotion and hatred in the country. It is useless. In politics, we sit. In the previous government, we were very cooperative. He witnessed that the most cooperative and positive ministers were Hezbollah’s ministers.

We are positive in this matter. We do not have any scores to settle with anyone in Lebanon. We are very keen on the country. I tell all those who will come out tomorrow and say for example ‘one of Al-Mayadeen’s promotion for tonight’s program’: you are waiting for the Lebanese Republic’s General Guide’. This is absurd. Today, the truth is that we do not want to rule Lebanon. We have nothing to do with a lot of the appointments, projects and occurrences in the country. Yes, we can fight a domestic battle. But we do not fight such battles. There is one domestic battle we want to fight which is the fight against corruption. We are not ruling the country and we do not want to rule the country. I repeat for the thousand time, if the Lebanese unanimously say Sayed we accept that you and Hezbollah for the government with all its members from Hezbollah, we will not disagree on one or two ministers. I tell them ‘forgive me and God will forgive you’. Hezbollah does not want this at all. Hezbollah knows its size, limits and the difficulties in this country. It is very realistic and knows that Lebanon can only be manages through the understanding of all of its components. This is Lebanon’s characteristic. If we ignore it, we will lose ourselves and lose the country.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: This year’s discussion was with Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Thank you very much for your time. If I may say one more thing. You said something about us meeting a while back regarding the preparations of this program. It is suffice to say that I am a witness to the general public – Arab and Islamic – that Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah over the past months when he was silent was fine. He was more than fine.

Sayyed Nasrallah: I was very active and I lost weight as well.

Ghassan bin Jiddo: All health and longevity, Your Eminence, thank you.
Thank you to our distinguished viewers for tuning in. Good-bye and until we meet again in another discussion next year, God willing?

Sayyed Nasrallah: If God keeps us alive

Ghassan bin Jiddo: In God’s safety