Sayyed Nasrallah Discloses History of Relationship with Martyr Qassem Soleimani
Translated by U-News Press Agency, Edited by Staff
In an exclusive interview with U-News Press Agency, Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah outlined the rise of the resistance in Lebanon, the relationship between the resistance and the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps [IRGC] and the establishment of al-Quds Force at that time, which was led by Lieutenant General Martyr Qassem Soleimani.
Sayyed Nasrallah underlined that after the ‘Israeli’ invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the ‘Israeli’ army occupied southern Lebanon and a part of the Lebanese Beqaa region reaching the capital Beirut and its suburbs.
"At that time, Imam Khomeini ordered to send Iranian forces to the region to assist the Syrians and the Lebanese to confront the ‘Israeli’ occupation," Sayyed Nasrallah noted.
The resistance leader went on to say: "I remember at the time a joint delegation from the Guard Command and the Army Command came and met with the Syrian leadership. After that, some Iranian forces came to the region. Back then, the advance of the ‘Israeli’ invasion stopped at a certain point as there was a will to the entire Lebanese lands or provoke a fight with Syria. This was stopped and we were facing a new reality called occupied Lebanese land of approximately more than half of the Lebanese area."
Sayyed Nasrallah recalled: "At that time, the mission of the Iranian forces turned from fighting to defend the rest of Lebanon and Syria, into assisting the Lebanese people to establish a local Lebanese resistance from the Lebanese themselves to fight and confront the ‘Israeli’ occupation."
Sayyed Nasrallah further explained: “Based on the change of mission that occurred, a large part of the Iranian forces returned to Iran given that the front in Iran was raging in the 'Eight-Year War', and part of the forces stayed here. Those who stayed were the guards.
His Eminence noted that the guards who remained there were present in Syria and Baalbek-Hermel region because this area was outside the circle of the ‘Israeli’ occupation.
“Since then a direct relationship arose between the brothers in the IRGC, the Lebanese scholars and the Lebanese youth, foremost among them was martyr Sayyed Abbas al-Mousawi, martyr Imad Mughniyah among other brothers."
Sayyed Nasrallah went on to say that "the relationship started since then on the basis of forming and creating resistance groups in all of Lebanon to confront the ‘Israeli’ occupation forces. This was the beginning of the relationship which continued from that day until now."
“Of course, at the beginning, there was no such thing as al-Quds Force in the IRGC formation. Later, after the end of the war imposed on Iran, His Eminence, [Imam Khamenei] ordered the formation of a force within the Guard, including al-Quds Force which still exists so far."
Spiritual Harmony with Hajj Qassem
Speaking of his relationship with martyr Soleimani, Sayyed Nasrallah said he was appointed the Commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force.
Sayyed Nasrallah said that his first meeting with General Soleimani took place in Lebanon, explaining "after his appointment as commander of al-Quds Force, he came to Lebanon and we met here in a session aimed to get us introduced together. I did not know Hajj Qassem before that and we had not met before as he was at the fronts in war in Iran."
He continued "the first meeting was here in Beirut and we knew that he became the new commander of Al-Quds Force appointed by His Eminence Imam Khamenei," noting that "Haj Imad Mughniyeh, Haj Mustafa Badreddine and other brothers who are still alive were also at the meeting."
"From the first meeting, in fact, we felt psychological, spiritual, and intellectual harmony from the first hour as if we had known Hajj Qasem for decades, and he has known us for decades."
Appointing Hajj Imad Mughniyeh and Hajj Qassem Happened By Coincidence
Sayyed Nasrallah further revealed the circumstances behind the appointment of martyr Hajj Imad Mughniyeh as a jihadist assistant to the Secretary General.
He noted that Hajj Imad’s appointment was an internal arrangement by Hezbollah, adding "before that, we had two commands. A command managing military work, and another command managing security issues, and the two commands were connected to the Secretary General of Hezbollah."
"As time passed, it appeared to us that we need to further expand our work and this means a person as a jihadist assistant running these posts and assisting the Secretary General in managing it. At the time, it was agreed that Hajj Imad is to be the jihadist assistant," Sayyed Nasrallah explained.
His Eminence noted that the appointment of Hajj Imad coincidentally came in parallel with the appointment of Hajj Qassem as al-Quds Force Commander.
In this context, Sayyed Nasrallah added that this managed arrangement was discussed with Hajj Qassem and other officials, pointing out that Hajj Qassem supported this step.
Hajj Qassem, Resistance Fighters Were Friends at Personal Levels
Sayyed Nasrallah said that Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani frequently visited Lebanon, hailing this as a merit.
His Eminence said although Hajj Qassem was al-Quds Force Qommander, he did not just sit at his office in Tehran, rather he went to the field and had frequently and continuously visited Lebanon and used to stay here for days.
“Hence, a friendly relationship arose between him and the brothers regardless of the relation within the frame of their work. He and the brothers were friends on the personal level,” Sayyed Nasrallah underscored.
"This also occurred in other fields, Haj Qassem and the other Syrian, Iraqi and Palestinian brothers in other fields in which he used to operate, had strong and solid personal relations, as well as with different officials and this is of his successes," Sayyed Nasrallah added.
His Eminence continued: "Of course, with Hajj Imad there was a much stronger relationship. They [Hajj Qassem and Hajj Imad], had a very affectionate and friendly relationship as if they knew each other decades ago. A home-relationship arose between them too, that is, he goes to the house of Hajj Imad and sits with his family and children and gets to know them."
General Soleimani Is Not Just a Military Leader
Sayyed Nasrallah underlined that General Soleimani was a comprehensive figure, not just a military leader.
"With Hajj Qassem, we were in front of a comprehensive figure, we did not feel that we were just sitting with a General specialized in military affairs, rather he deeply and strongly understood political, economic, and cultural matters in addition to military, security, and other matters." Sayyed Nasrallah said.
He affirmed that "soon, there is a friendship, love, affection, and brotherhood, and this type of relationship helps a lot to unify ideas, visions and cooperation, and to overcome any problems or differences in some details that may arise."
Haj Qassem's Support Precipitated the 2000 Victory
Sayyed Nasrallah illustrated Lieutenant General Soliemani’s role in supporting and developing the resistance capabilities in Lebanon after being appointed as the commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force.
"From 1985 to 1998, the year in which Hajj Qassem held responsibility in al-Quds Force, the development [of the resistance] was slow due to the limited military capabilities and the limited human capabilities." Sayyed Nasrallah said.
"When Hajj Qassem held this responsibility, and Haj Imad held the responsibility in almost the same year, he sought from the beginning to secure a large level of military and material capabilities from Iran and opened the doors to an advanced level of training to raise human competence," Sayyed Nasrallah explained.
His Eminence stressed that "there is no doubt that the victory in the year 2000 is not the result of only the previous two years, but rather the result of the quantitative and qualitative accumulation of the resistance's work in Lebanon since 1982. However, the last two years were special for the quantitative and qualitative development that precipitated the victory and defeated the enemy."
Soleimani's Qualities A School To Be Studied
Hezbollah Secretary General explained the characteristics of Lieutenant General Soleimani stressing that his qualities are a school that should be studied and considered.
Sayyed Nasrallah said Hajj Qassem used to go to fields, he is the one who usually came to Lebanon and meet resistance leaders, adding that he used to come and meet the brothers in the resistance face to face in the fields.
His Eminence underlined that this has several advantages in management and leadership as it gives a sort of power to the fighters and expresses respect and admiration for them leaving moral and emotional effects.
He added that this enables him to listen and get to know all opinions and point of views including those of fighters at the battlefields.
Sayyed Nasrallah recalled: "I remember that when he came on some visits, he sometimes suffered from toothache, and any person could not bear this pain. However, when we ask him to go a doctor he refuses and says that we could get him after the end of the session. He used to stay, bear the pain, take decisions, and at the end go to the doctor."
Sayyed Nasrallah said that "among the important characteristics is that he is persistent, diligent, which means he is constantly following up."
Sayyed Nasrallah counted more qualities of Hajj Qassem noting that he had been extremely modest. “This modesty was influencing, Hajj Qassem was very humble even with ordinary individuals and ordinary people."
He said that the martyr was "the man present in adversity in the difficult days, for example in the ' 33-days July 2006 War', he came from Tehran to Damascus and called us and said I want to come to you to [Beirut] southern suburb [Dahiyeh], we told him that this was not even possible as bridges and roads were raided by ‘Israeli’ warplanes," noting however that “he was very determined and said that if you do not send cars to pick me up, I will come by myself. He insist on coming and he arrived, and stayed with us all the time."
Sayyed Nasrallah continued: "In the events of Syria and Iraq confronting Daesh, the Iraqi brothers have been telling us that he has always been in the front line and walks in the front line. Of course this is an advantage, usually the generals sit in the back and run armies, teams or brigades."
Soleimani Visited Lebanon Every Two, Three Weeks
The resistance leader said that Lieutenant General Qassem Soliemani used to visit Lebanon every few weeks and not every few months.
Sayyed Nasrallah affirmed that General Soleimani’s visits to Lebanon were on weekly basis as he came to Lebanon every two or three weeks.
He stressed that his visits were on regular basis, adding that he used to come to the southern suburbs of Beirut and sometimes he went to the south and to the front areas to meet the resistance members there.
"Of course we always tried to prevent him from going to the front area, but in general he always visited the brothers in the south," Sayyed Nasrallah added.
Imam Khamenei Promised a Major Victory before 2000, Which Came True
Before the liberation of the south, Sayyed Nasrallah said that he, and his companions in the resistance, thought it was unlikely for the ‘Israeli’ occupation to leave Lebanon in a short time.
"Our assessment was that the ‘Israelis’ will not leave the south because usually the ‘Israelis’ do not leave the land until after security agreements, obligations and pledges and it is very difficult to them to accept exit under the pressure of fighting as if they accept this it would constitute a very large strategic shift and will become the basis for a completely new situation in the region," Sayyed Nasrallah noted.
However, Hezbollah Secretary General added that the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, during his meeting with Hezbollah Consultative Council said they should put the possibility of ‘Israeli’ departure from Lebanon as a legitimate possibility and to plan on this basis.
"But for the soldiers, he told them your victory is very big and closer than some would think. And he looked at me and smiled, then he pointed with his left hand, and I do not forget this scene, and said to them 'you' [they were 50 brothers fighting on the fronts and they were the leaders of the front lines], he told them 'you all will witness this victory with your eyes.'"
"The victory took place on May 25th, 2000 and all the 50 leaders who were with His Eminence [Imam Khamenei], have witnessed the victory with their own eyes and no one was martyred before witnessing the victory. Hajj Qassem, of course, was present at this meeting and he arranged the entire visit and meeting," Sayyed Nasrallah affirmed.
Unlike Analysts, Imam Khamenei Said ‘Israelis’ Will Exit Lebanon
Sayyed Nasrallah said that at the time when Imam Khamenei saying that the ‘Israelis’ will leave the occupied land in Lebanon with no conditions and in a very short time which will constitute a great victory for the resistance, all the analyst in the region were thinking the opposite.
Sayyed Nasrallah expressed that the prevalent analyst and experts of Syrians, Palestinians, even Iranians and others was that the ‘Israelis’ will not leave the region with no commitments, agreements and pledges.
His Eminence further stressed that Imam Khamenei was clear and decisive in this regard.
Hajj Qassem Shared With Brothers in Resistance the Same Way of Thinking
Sayyed Nasrallah said "one of the very good things in our experience with Hajj Qassem is that he and the brothers in the resistance were thinking the same way."
Sayyed Nasrallah said General Soleimani and leaders in Hezbollah "used to think the same way, and the discussion that took place were not of two different sides or points of view rather from people of one school that look at things the same way."
"Hence, we all had the thoughts of Hajj Qassem and the brothers on the phase following the ‘Israeli’ withdrawal from the south in 2000. We found that we did not need any effort to convince each other as we were all thinking the same way." Sayyed Nasrallah underlined.
‘Israeli’ Defeat in 2000 Has No Precedent
Sayyed Nasrallah said that after the liberation of southern Lebanon in 2000, "it was clear to Hajj Qassem and our brothers that the ‘Israelis’ would return to revenge because of this defeat as it was historic and changed the view of the Palestinian and Arab peoples as well as the Islamic world towards ‘Israel’, the ‘Israeli’ entity and the future of the ‘Israeli’ existence."
Sayyed Nasrallah said "the withdrawal of the ‘Israeli’ enemy from the land that they occupied by force, their withdrawal by force under the pressure of fire without restrictions or security agreements or pledges, this has no precedent. Therefore, ‘Israel’ will not allow this strategic, intellectual, military, field, and political transformation. Hereby, the ‘Israeli’ will return to revenge and will wage a war on Lebanon to say that the resistance that defeated me in 2000 will be crushed and will pay the price costly."
He pointed out that many "considered that ‘Israel’ had left Lebanon, so the matter ended and the resistance had to rest, go, sleep and take a vacation, but Hajj Qassem, Hajj Imad and the brothers were determined since the second day of liberation in 2000 to start preparing for the potential war."
"Here comes the main effect of Hajj Qassem, which is that he opened new fronts for Hezbollah, for example, we have a real missile force. What I am saying now is known to the enemy and I am not revealing secrets, there is a real missile force because in a new military confrontation you need a new type of combat and weapon. "
Sayyed Nasrallah explained that establishing a new missile force for the resistance in Lebanon was not an easy thing," adding that "you need human competence and scientific level. We bring the missiles from a remote location to Lebanon, and in Lebanon you have to set them up, hide them from the enemy and the friend in order to be able to benefit from them in wartime."
Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that "when the events happened in 2006, Hezbollah was at a high level of readiness to get involved in this war," affirming that this readiness and the victories they achieved in this war was due to God Almighty and this level of readiness.
Haj Qasem Was Moral, Spiritual, Psychological Support during ‘Israeli’ War
Sayyed Nasrallah said that during the recent ‘Israeli’ aggression on Lebanon “the resistance was in a state of intense psychological pressure due to the negative international, Arab and even the Lebanese internal position, but the presence of Hajj Qassem among the brothers was a moral, spiritual and psychological support."
Sayyed Nasrallah revealed the presence of General Soleimani throughout the July war in Lebanon, adding that "at one stage of the war, we almost got to the point to bomb Tel Aviv, but this did not happen and as a result of the extensive and calm discussion we set an equation that we said to the enemy if you bomb Beirut, we will bomb Tel Aviv, and indeed the enemy submitted to this equation in wartime and did not dare to bomb the city of Beirut."
Sayyed Nasrallah affirmed that over the period of the war, “Hajj Qassem has been happy for our happiness and saddened for our sadness, he felt our pain, and he was one of us, and keen on us."
Hajj Qassem Was Target of Indiscriminate Shelling During July 2006 War
Sayyed Nasrallah revealed that "during the recent ‘Israeli’ aggression on Lebanon, we were concerned on the martyred Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and this is normal."
"I was worried about him and all the brothers. This is normal because the issue was depending on Allah Almighty’s care, and the ‘Israelis’ sometimes bombed a lot of buildings indiscriminately and not according to information," Sayyed Nasrallah explained.
He further asserted that "the ‘Israelis’ at the time of the war couldn’t know my place neither the place of Hajj Qassem, Hajj Imad, or the central operations rooms. They did not know, and therefore they were not able to bomb any place where these people or any operating rooms were located."
However, Sayyed Nasrallah went on to say that “we were afraid of indiscriminate shelling, sometimes they bombed a group of buildings simultaneously and in a sequential and organized manner. It was possible that in this indiscriminate shelling that Hajj Qassem or any brother bearing this responsibility was martyred. This concern has always been present until the end of the war, and the one who preserved us was God Almighty.”
General Soleimani Conveyed Imam Khamenei’s Message in 2006
Sayyed Nasrallah revealed the content of the message sent from Imam Khamenei and conveyed by martyr Soleimani during the first days of the July 2006 War.
Sayyed Nasrallah said "Imam Khamenei’s message says that the operation of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon capturing two captives is mercy from God Almighty," explaining that this came "at a time when some considered it a sin."
Sayyed Nasrallah continued "His Eminence said that the ‘Israelis’ and the Americans have been planning a war against you, against Lebanon, at the end of the summer and the beginning of the next fall... they were preparing and arranging for this war when you conducted the operation of capturing the ‘Israeli’ soldiers and they found themselves in front of a fait accompli.”
Hezbollah Secretary General added that the letter said "They [the ‘Israelis’] said if the opportunity came, let us start the war... If they conducted the war they have been planning, they would adopt the factor of surprise and start the war without any reason, surprise you and strike your positions, homes and fronts, and after that they would destroy everything and kill your leaders and enter Lebanon."
Imam Khamenei’s message read: "When you carried out the operation capturing the two soldiers and they were forced to go to confrontation at that time, you grabbed their factor of surprise because you were ready, prepared and awake for the ‘Israeli’ response, because God Almighty, through the process of capturing the two soldiers and your readiness to confront the ‘Israeli’ reaction pushed a great scourge away from you that was being planned to take place at the end of the summer of 2006."
Altruism at Its Best: I Wish I Was the One Who Died Instead
Sayyed Nasrallah commented on the death of martyr Hajj Qassem Soleimani. He held back his tears, saying that he had wished that he would be the one who died and not Soleimani.