Sayyed Nasrallah’s Full Speech On The Latest Developments / 13-3-2020
Translated by Staff
Sayyed Nasrallah’s full speech on the latest developments delivered via satellite on 13-3-2020
I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan. In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and prayers and peace be upon our Master and Prophet, the Seal of Prophets, Abi al-Qassem Muhammad Bin Abdullah and his good and pure household and his good and chosen companions and all the prophets and messengers.
Peace and Allah's mercy and blessings be upon you all.
Tonight, I would like to talk about several topics if time permits.
Among the urgent topics that concern everyone at this stage is the new coronavirus outbreak. This topic has become the number one concern not just for Lebanon or the people in our region but the whole world. It has become the primary concern in China, where this pandemic first broke out, in Europe, the U.S. and in countries of our region in west Asia.
I am going to talk about this topic, but I will not delve into the details. This is the task of the competent authorities such as the ministry of health, the doctors and the World Health Organization (WHO). So, I will not be repeating what they said in the past few days and weeks.
Rather, I want to set a framework for dealing with this tremendous development and define our responsibilities. First, we have to acknowledge that we in the midst of battle. Whether we are talking about Lebanon or the whole region, this is no longer a battle fought by one country. It is in fact a global war. It is a global war that is being fought by the countries and peoples of the world. It has become a priority for governments and people all over the world.
First, we must feel like we are fighting a battle. Thinking in this way is important in order for us to approach the matter and address it. There is an enemy and there are targets in this battle. The targets must confront the enemy. The experiences of the resistance, all the resistance movements and all the wars in the world, teach us that the enemy should be clearly identified. However, the problem in this battle is that the enemy is the new coronavirus. This virus is still unknown to the world. They are still researching about it, analyzing it and trying to decipher its secrets to find a cure in the form of medication, or a vaccine. This enemy is still unknow. Its dangers have become mostly clear in the past few weeks. It poses great danger. Hence, this enemy poses a great threat. How?
It threatens people’s lives. One type of enemy is the one that destroys homes, burns farms, disrupts security, and annoys your peace of mind. This enemy launches a war against you and can hurt you emotionally or psychologically. There is another type of enemy that wants to kill you and kill people. Its target range is not limited to villages, cities, countries, or even continents. It has global reach. It does not stop at a certain number of casualties – hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, or millions.
Some media outlets in the U.S. are talking about very pessimistic estimates. They are talking about tens of millions, between 160 million to 225 million infected cases. These are just estimates made by some American media outlets expecting the number of infected cases in the U.S. alone to reach these figures.
Therefore, we are facing an enemy that poses a great and clear danger. We are not saying this for us to surrender, panic, or feel scared and frightened. But because we must know our enemy and the threat it poses, so we can assume our responsibilities and fight it.
In any case, it does not only threaten the economy, the academic year, or the different aspects of life. As I said, it also threatens lives. The most important thing is to preserve people’s lives, to stay alive and healthy. People’s health is the priority. It must be the priority – as I will explain in the objectives. We can compensate for losing a school year. We can compensate for an economic downturn. We can compensate for anything else. But those who pass away, the loved ones that we lose and leave this world, they are gone. That’s it. We’ve lost them. Therefore, this is the enemy, and this is the threat.
What should be the response against this enemy and threat? What should the decision be? It should be to fight it. This is obvious. There are certain debatable axioms in our country and in many places around the world. For example, when “Israel” invaded Lebanon and occupied its lands, waters, airspace, and sovereignty, the axiom was to resist – which was controversial and debatable.
Hence, the choice should be to resist this occupying and invading enemy that has become a global pandemic. The choice should not be to surrender, despair, feel defeated or helpless, or to feel unable to do anything or make it easier. Rather, the decision must be confrontation and resistance. It should be fighting this battle with a resolute spirit and by assuming our responsibilities.
Third, when we talk about this confrontation or this responsibility, it must be general and inclusive. Let us take Lebanon for example. The responsibility in Lebanon today lies with everyone in the state, including the leaders, the government and all its ministries. It is not just the health ministry which is concerned with a certain aspect of the battle. It is the judiciary, the parliament, the army, the security forces, the municipalities, all state sectors and institutions, and everyone working for the state. The Lebanese people – young or old and in all the regions – must also shoulder their responsibilities. The non-Lebanese nationals who are residing in Lebanon including the Palestinian refugees, the displaced Syrians, and other Arab and non-Arab nationals residing in Lebanon should be a partner in this confrontation and must assume their responsibilities during this battle.
Of course, each person should assume their own responsibility and do what is required of him. Everyone in this confrontation is required to do certain tasks. This battle is more comprehensive and requires everyone’s efforts and for every individual to shoulder his responsibility. This battle may differ from political or military battles. During a military battle, some people might fight, and thus, the onus falls from the rest. Some might fight the political battle, taking the responsibility from the rest. But in this battle, everyone is responsible. Everyone should do their part.
In a military battle, the army and the security forces are the ones fighting on the frontlines. Similarly, in the resistance’s battles, the fighters, the mujahideen, or the resistance fighters are the ones fighting on the frontlines. On the political front, political leaders and politicians are at the forefront of the confrontation. In this type of battle, the ministry of health and other similar ministries, their staff, the state-run hospitals, private hospitals, the doctors, the nurses, the first responders, and anyone working in the health sector in the country are the ones fighting on the frontlines. We must see them as officers, soldiers, and resistance fighters fighting along the frontlines. We must appreciate their efforts. I will return to this point later.
Hence, everyone must assume their responsibilities in this battle.
The next point is the objective of the battle. What will it be? Let us say we are at the heart of the battle. What is the objective of this battle that we are fighting? What are we hoping to achieve? Knowing the objective helps us know the course of action. Defining the objective helps in setting up plans and programs, knowing the manner of cooperation, and evaluating the right and wrong moves – are we heading towards achieving the objective, are we falling behind, or are we succeeding?
What should the objective be? To await medication or treatment for this pandemic. It would be excellent if Lebanese scientists and Lebanese scientific institutions were partners in this process. Until then, the objective is to contain and prevent the pandemic from spreading and to limit the loss of life. That is if we can limit the loss of life from 100 to 20. Losing 20 is better than losing 100. Reducing human losses is the priority because, as I said, we can compensate for other things like education, the academic year, the economy, trade, and industry even they are not functioning properly in Lebanon. But in any case, we can compensate for everything that has value apart from human life. The priority is to preserve people’s lives, safety, and survival. This is the objective.
This objective is divided into two parts. The first part involves preventing the spread of the virus as much as possible. The second part is the treatment of the infected cases. It is true that there is no medicine yet, but there is a possibility to treat the infected cases. Is the objective achievable? Yes, it is an achievable objective. It is neither a theoretical objective nor an impossible one. It can be achieved.
With regards to preventing the spread of the virus, theoretically, all the competent health and medical authorities, starting from WHO to everyone else say that if individuals, families, and governments, follow the prescribed measures, which you have heard about a lot – there is no need for me to repeat because I am no expert – they can limit the spread of the virus to a great extent. Hence, theoretically, it is possible. Practically, it has been done in China, and we have seen the results that were announced so far. God willing, the results maintain this trajectory. So, it is possible theoretically. And the Chinese experience says it is possible and can be done.
Regarding the second part, which is treatment and recovery of the infected cases, WHO and other health experts say recovery is possible and the percentage is high. Practically, reports show that tens of thousands of people recovered from the virus in China, thousands recovered in Iran, hundreds recovered in other places in the world. Recoveries are being announced. So, the recovery of the infected cases is possible scientifically, theoretically, realistically, and practically. Preventing the spread of the virus is also possible practically and theoretically. And as an experience, it is a fact.
Thus, the objective that we are setting for this national battle is a realistic, practical, and an achievable goal. Yes, it needs action, decisiveness, will, endurance, patience, implementation, measures, accuracy in follow-up, and assuming responsibilities.
Now, we have set the framework. We said that we are fighting a battle, and this battle is part of a global war. Today, we as Lebanese are not alone in this war. We also spoke about the enemy, its nature, and the threats and dangers it poses. We also spoke about the degree of responsibility, the objective, and the required measures that the competent authorities outlined. In the context of this battle, I must recommend and stress on several things.
The first thing we need in this battle is cooperation and solidarity. We must fight it with a human, moral, and patriotic spirit. This should be the case in all other countries. This is not only for Lebanon. The people of every country must cooperate with each other, with the state, with the government, with the security forces, with the media, and with various institutions. Everyone without exception must cooperate in this battle. The prevailing spirit must be a positive one. This battle is not the time to settle scores, target someone politically, or take revenge. I do not want to go into arguments. There have been debates over certain matters and choices in the country since the very beginning. There is no problem in having disagreements over options, but the language used was inappropriate and wrong.
I do not want to argue with anyone. I want to overcome this matter. But I would like to say that those who have political aspirations and continue to argue will not achieve any of their political objectives. It will only lead to more hatred, more grudges, more psychological fragmentation among the people in Lebanon.
What is required is positive engagement. This does not mean that we should not criticize. On the contrary, let people criticize, advise, and express their opinions in the media, to the relevant ministries, to the relevant government committees, and officials. This is normal. No one is talking about silencing voices. But approaching and addressing these cases requires a spirit of morality and humanity. Gloating should have no place here. It only expresses moral decadence. It is the negativity that leads to more losses. It also expresses moral and national decadence.
What is required is the spirit of cooperation. We should act with full responsibility. Arguments are a waste of time and pointless. We all know that there has been an ongoing debate over resistance since 1982, and we are in 2020 now. A few days ago, when a number of resistance fighters were martyred in battle, the same question arose – what are you doing in Syria? From 2011 until today, there have been letters, articles, and dialogue regarding this choice. Still, we have not reached common ground.
Hence, I don't want to get into arguments over everything that takes place. There is no problem for anyone to criticize or give one’s opinion. But we must stay away from any language that might cause grudges, enmities, and divisions. Let us not designate the coronavirus according to ethnicity, continent, region, religion, sect, area, or political party. It is a pandemic that does not discriminate. It knows no race, border, or sect. We are fighting a battle to preserve humanity. Thus, it must be fought with a humane spirit.
The second point is to emphasize the human, moral, national, and legal responsibility when fighting this battle. Since I am a scholar of the religious sciences, my position here is different from government officials. I would like to add the religious responsibility.
Generally in Lebanon, Muslims or Christians – whether religious or not – we believe in God, the Day of Resurrection, and Judgement Day. We believe that we will be asked [about our actions]. Muslims and Christians, according to their religions, know that God Almighty commanded us in his heavenly teachings to preserve the human soul. He considered it the most valuable thing. Even in the provisions of Islamic law and jurisprudence when scholars issue precautions, they say precaution with wealth and with honor. But the highest precaution is that of the blood and soul. He asks to preserve the human soul. Preserving people’s lives and safety is at top of the top duty conclusively and decisively.
If we believe in Judgment Day … What I wanted to add today concerning this battle is that we must fear God Almighty while we are fighting it. How can this be translated into practice? Through adhering to your duty to protect yourself, your life, your safety as well as the safety of your family and the people around you. This is your religious duty, your divine duty. This is the duty of every man and woman. You will be asked about this on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever ignores this duty is committing a sin, not an ordinary sin, but one of the major sins, the kabair.
Hence, this matter does not fall in the circle of favored or recommended actions. Rather, we must absolutely abide by the instructions and measures.
All religious references and our well-known and senior references issued statements and fatwas stating that everyone must adhere and commit to the measures. They did not say it is a favored action or that you have the choice to commit or not to commit. We must commit to the recommendations issued by the concerned responsible and official health and medical authorities that are spearheading this battle, especially the authorities in the medical field. Here, we are no longer talking about the law. That is if a person did not abide by the law, the army, the security forces, or the judiciary will arrest and prosecute him. This is the court of this world.
I would like to familiarize you with the court of the Hereafter. This is everyone’s responsibility and not just the religious people. I am addressing all the people now. On Judgement Day, you will have to answer God the following: did you preserve yourselves, your lives, and the people around you? Or did you ignore and forsake yourselves and did not commit to the recommendations? Answering these questions and being judged accordingly are is going to be difficult.
Of course, we should fight this battle with this spirit of religious and divine spirit and have a sense of religious responsibility and that we will be tried in the court of God on the Day of Judgement. In this world, you can escape the prosecution of the judiciary or the security forces. There might be someone providing covering for him and protecting him.
But on Judgment Day you cannot hide or flee. There is no escape from God’s judgement and God Almighty’s government. According to our view and knowledge, I believe that this religious restraint and responsibility is one of the most powerful factors contributing to victory in this battle as it was in the resistance’s battle.
The miracle the resistance created was not due to its equipment, the number of its fighters, or its experiences. These are important and fundamental factors, but the most important factor is its knowledgeable, loving, pious, and responsible spirit that extends from this world to the Hereafter. The resistance is mindful of the time when it will have to stand before God and be asked about our occupied land, our sanctities, our honor, our riches, our waters, our dignity, and our sovereignty. This is the spirit the resistance had during battles. We should have the same spirit when we fight this battle.
What is also important is for people, especially the religious ones, not to allow themselves to be dragged into arguments. The senior religious authorities suspended Friday and communal prayers. Why? Because there is a more pressing matter at hand. We should set aside everything that opposes this important matter without any reservations and hesitation. There must not be any arguments regarding this matter.
Christian religious scholars and authorities also suspended services in churches because of this most important matter. All heavenly religions call for preserving lives. So, this is the second point.
In the third point, I will delve into some details concerning this battle. We need transparency and honesty. This should be applied in Lebanon and in other countries. I am talking about Lebanon because we are part of the battle. Any person who feels that he has been infected with this virus or shows symptoms must be transparent and honest. He should tell the truth to the concerned authorities. He must go to the hospital and get tested to know whether he has been infected or not. He also has to self-isolate at home. This is not a favored action, O people. This is a must. Reason, morals, and religion stipulate this. We should not overlook this matter or be ashamed to report that I am showing symptoms or have been infected with the virus. We should not think that being infected will affect your dignity or your political status. What is this talk?
You are committing one of the biggest sins if you conceal this because it can kill you or kill others. One of the senior religious references in the holy city of Qom even said that – of course, based on certain data and conditions – whoever infects another person and leads to his death must pay blood money of the person whose death he caused. This is how big the matter is. No one should underestimate it at the religious level.
Thus, there should be honesty and transparency. If the infected person is ashamed of coming forward. His family, mother or father, his relatives, the people he works with, or his friends should reveal his condition. In other words, the infected person should reveal his condition, and it is not permissible for those who know about his condition to cover up on him. Concealment or providing cover is not permissible. There should be absolute transparency. You should tell the infected person to head to the hospital or the laboratory or to the concerned authorities and to be tested. This should not be taken lightly.
I would like to point out something since I am following up on the situation very closely. The ministry of health has been transparent since the beginning. All that has been said about corna cases in Lebanon being withheld by the ministry of health or by Hezbollah – there are those who are accusing Hezbollah. This claim is absolutely not true. It is a lie.
The first case was uncovered by the ministry of health and the its working group. Some people revealed the identity of the victim to the media and was dealt in an inappropriate manner. The dear sister’s identity and picture were circulated. Transparency was to this extent. Whenever a case was discovered through testing or through information, it was announced on a daily basis.
And if announcing cases were delayed, it was because they were not discovered or the infected people did not declare their condition or people close to the infected did not report them. The health ministry is working in a very clear manner, and it should continue in this way. I tell them that they should continue in this manner regardless of the difficult facts. Until now, the number of infected cases is still bearable. But even if we reached a high number of infected cases or deaths – God forbid – truth should not be concealed from people. People should be told the whole truth because this helps raise the responsibility, the level of mobilization, and the level of seriousness in dealing with the situation. It is the right of the people to know. Also, by doing so, the ministry of health and other ministries would remove themselves from the blame game.
Of course, the issue of transparency and honesty today is a major problem in the world. Let us take, for example, countries that are classified as the First World and democratic countries or superpowers with their media and freedom of speech. Didn’t Britain hide the numbers? It was not transparent and honest. Every day, the British government would say that there are 5, 10, 15, and 20 cases. But yesterday, British officials announced that the number of cases is between 7000 and 10,000. There was no transparency. But in Lebanon there was.
In America, Trump even tweeted a few days ago, “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life and the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”
Why would you get upset, if we just have this number of infected cases? Trump mention the number of the infected in the hundreds and the number of deaths in the tens. And in the end of the tweet, he wrote: “Think about that!”
He is downplaying the matter to this extent. He says despite last year’s flu and the deaths of 37000 people, he said life and the economy went on.
Now, of course, Trump is facing a catastrophe in the US. His speech yesterday had negative repercussions, and today he is forced to make a second speech. While he downplayed the topic, Ohio governor and the state’s health director said the opposite. Of course, the govern backs her statement on CNN. I read this. You know nowadays anything that is printed or in social media might be fake. All need to be checked thoroughly. But the fact is that I watched the man on television say it. The governor said that in our state of 11 and half million people, we estimate that we have 100,000 infected cases. And in the future, we will not be able to test everybody because our medical apparatus is not prepared.
Who is the biggest liar? He is the biggest liar. The battle against the coronavirus revealed that Trump is the biggest liar on earth so is the US administration, the US vice president, and the team following up on the matter. Today, the US secretary of state cruelly and vulgarly accuses the Iranian officials of lying to their people when the fact is that since the very beginning Iranian officials transparently announced the numbers of deaths, infected, and cases in recovery. This is a point of pride for the Iranian officials.
Unfortunately, there are people gloating on the Gulf media. Shame on you. The deputy health minister, for example, or brother Dr. Velayati was infected because he was the chief of Tehran Hospital combating the virus and not because he was the chief advisor of His Eminence the Leader. It is a source of pride when officials, doctors, and concerned ministers as well as other figures stay in the country with their people and not pack up their bags and leave to safe places with their families.
In any case, Pompeo accuses the Iranian officials of lying. Echoing his accusations are Pompeo’s people in Lebanon who are accusing the ministry of health and Hezbollah of concealing the truth and lying. This is not true. Pompeo is the liar. Forget about Pompeo’s people. We said we do not want to engage in arguments.
In any case, this biggest liar, the president of the Great Satan, at the same time, says we are ready to help Iran. First of all, go and help yourself. Solve your own problem and the catastrophe you are heading towards because of your administration, intransigence, arrogance, pride, ignoring the facts, and disregard for people. You only care about the dollar, the barrel of oil, and gas.
Second, if you want to help Iran, lift the sanctions. Iran does not need your help. Just lift the sanctions even in a way that will allow it to import medicine and medical equipment.
In any case, this is one form of American hypocrisy.
The fourth point is complete commitment, O people, complete commitment to governmental procedures and measures not just those issued by the ministry of health. When the ministry of education says that schools are suspended, it means schools are closed. It does not mean that if I own a private school, I open it. When it says universities are suspended, it means universities are closed. Everyone should abide by the measures issued by the government as well as all the ministries, including the ministry of labor. When restaurants are asked to be closed within certain limits, they should be closes within those limits. All these measures must be respected and followed.
Fifth, the most important point regarding the measures related to preventing or containing the spread of the virus is halting gatherings and meetings, quarantine, and self-isolation that is staying home with one’s wife and kids. One can stay home and not go anywhere.
O brother pray home. There is no need for you to pray in the mosque or go to church. I will speak on behalf of the Muslims and the Christians. Except for those who have to go out because if they didn’t work, they will not be able to secure their daily bread, or those who have to go to work or else they will be fired. They can go out until the Lebanese government takes measures that must be followed. In any case, even though this disease is dangers, yet it is easy to combat. Despite its dangers, the way to fight it is simple and easy. You have to do the following measures: washing, disinfecting, eating, going, coming, self-isolation, and stopping the gatherings. What do you need? You need to make some decisions. What should we do?
We are bored! This is a war. You have to consider that you are living in a state of war. During the time of war, do you go on a tour? Do you go skiing? Do you go on a picnic to the river? During the war, people follow war measures. If you please, consider these as measures taken during a war. Therefore, these gatherings in mosques as well as religious, social, and political activities should be suspended. As for the martyrs’ families, there will be annual martyrdom anniversaries in the coming days. We all understand each other here. Please, do not host celebrations, meetings, gatherings in the husayniyah, even in the cases of death. God willing, there will be no martyrs falling in the line of duty.
But assuming that a martyr fell, let us commemorate their martyrdom with the least number of mourners. The dead person is gone, may Allah have mercy on his soul. God will welcome the martyr. Let the mourning ceremony include a few people, the family members of the martyr. We have to get over the issue that the resident of a village feel that they have to show their respects to the family of the deceased and take part in the funeral procession as is the custom in our villages and countries. These are beautiful customs.
But for now, set aside this beautiful custom. It is no longer beautiful during this battle. What is beautiful is a fewer number of mourners possible. I am not telling you what is wajib [duty] or not. I am just hoping so that we can overcome this stage. With regard to this matter, I hope that people do not put pressure on other people, on themselves, and on the family of the deceased. A few days ago, I saw on social media a family of a deceased, who had earlier invited people for a mourning ceremony, announced the cancellation of the consolations. Many thanks to them and God bless them. That is excellent. In other words, the family of the deceased or the martyr’s family should do the initiative and tell people not to attend. The family should tell the people to recite the Fatiha to the deceased and pray for him, and that’s it. Thank you, and we do not need anything else from you.
Hence, these things should not be subject of compliments, customs, or traditions. All these activities should be frozen. These are details. So, the main topic is there should be no gatherings. People should self-isolate and stay away from each other. They should only go out when necessary. In some cities, people have gone to their villages. This is a good thing. But this does not mean that we went to the villages to socialize and go on tours there. No, we go to the village and stay home. The virus spreads in the villages as it does in the cities. But the spread is more dangerous in the cities because they are more populated.
The sixth point is related to the state and the people. Caring for the medical and first aid staff. We said that these are at the front line these days. Hence, it is our duty to thank all the officials who have assumed their responsibilities during this period. We extend our thanks to the minister of health, the working group of the ministry of health, the public hospitals, especially Rafic Hariri Governmental Hospital in Beirut as well as the hospital management, its doctors, and nurses. All the thanks and greetings to them because they are at the front line. We must support them morally. We pray for their safety and for everything that can help these staff.
In addition to the above, we thank the responders in all the institutions including the Red Cross, the different health committees, and the scouts. Also, I recommend, suggest, and wish that the Lebanese government consider exceptionally supporting them. For example, a few days ago there was a problem related to their budget, their salaries. It should not be delayed. Today, other expenses should be postponed. Everything should be spent for this battle. They should be given their full rights.
They should even be given something called an additional gift, an extra effort, an additional burden. The risk they are facing, the burden they are carrying, and the stress they are facing is more than that of the regular circumstances. Therefore, thanks to all of them. These staff should be supported morally, psychologically, and financially. People should make them feel appreciated. They should be thanked. People should know about the sacrifices they are making.
I hope they follow Iran’s footsteps. I don’t know if other countries did the same. There are some people in Lebanon as soon as you mention Iran, they get repulsed. In Iran, they implemented His Eminence the Leader’s suggestion as proposed by the ministry of health. A doctor, a nurse, a paramedic, or anyone whose job entails fighting the coronavirus, would be considered a martyr if they got infected by the virus and died. This, of course, comes with moral and financial support for the martyr’s family.
I hope in Lebanon, these medical teams receive this honor since we are talking about a battle. When Lebanese army soldiers, security forces, or state employees are martyred, their families are given financial and moral compensation. Like them, these teams should also be treated in the same way.
Seven, preparing from now for the worst-case scenario:
We must now cooperate to prevent the spread. But let us suppose for some reason, the spread occurred. The ministry of health, the rest of the ministries, the institutions, and the people, should prepare for the worst-case scenario. We should prepare places. There are countries in the world, some considered developed and capable medical wise, used hotels, schools, and universities. There is no problem, even at the level of planning, to prepare places, equipment, and staff for worse situations, God forbid we headed to worse situations.
Here, I must also thank the students at the Lebanese University in the Faculty of Health as well as other colleges and universities who volunteered and donated. University students who study medicine, health, or nursing should serve as a backup for the medical staff in case we headed to a more difficult situation. The important thing is to prepare places, equipment, and medical staff for the worst-case scenarios. We should not sit and wait. I just wanted to emphasize this idea and take it to the widest extent possible.
In this context, I must say that Hezbollah has put – and already announced that – all our capabilities as well as our health and medical staff, our resistance fighters, our men and women, our human capacity, our institutions, and our material capabilities at the disposal of the government and the ministry of health to fight this battle. The Lebanese government is the leader of this battle. We are not claiming anything at all because this is a different kind of battle. We do not possess all its complete tools. The state has them. We and others can be helpful factors.
Eight, to learn lessons from the experiences of other countries – China, Italy, Korea, Japan, Iran, France, Germany, Belgium, even the Americans. What is the problem in this? We should learn from the experiences of other countries to save time and effort and not to repeat the same mistakes because time is valuable and precious. Time is of the essence in this battle. The hour, the day, two days, and three days all count.
Nine, this battle should be the absolute priority for the government, the state, the Lebanese people, the residents of Lebanon, the media, all influencers, and everyone who can make an effort. This battle must be given the highest priority.
Tenth, social solidarity. (I am running through these points quickly because they are clear.) When the government enforces measures such as closing restaurants or halting tourism, this means a lot of people will not receive salaries. This will pose another problem – we might be avoiding the coronavirus but might be facing hunger. This might disrupt the social security. Before we ask the army, the security forces, and the judiciary to shoulder their responsibilities in preventing disruption to the social security – this as the state’s capabilities are known – we should focus on the people’s responsibility of social solidarity.
In every village, in cities, in neighborhoods, families, and everywhere there are people who are well-off, wealthy people, people with money. We should help each other. There are already families, people in the villages and neighborhood who have started to offer their help a few months ago. But we urgently need this now.
I would like to address my speech to Hezbollah officials in the villages and the cities because I can ask them to commit. Officials and religious scholars in villages, towns, and cities must consider that part of their responsibilities is take care of families around them that might not have food or the most basic needs. We have to cooperate, show solidarity, and donate as much as we can. This should be part of our responsibility.
The Lebanese government should also include this matter in its agenda. It is not enough for it to ask people not to go to work or schools. There are also some people who are in a hurry for the state of emergency. I tell you from now, the Lebanese government is the one that announces the state of emergency when it sees fit. Do not put it on Hezbollah. You are free. You are the ones leading this battle. The Lebanese government, the prime minister, and the ministers are the ones leading this battle, of course, under the supervision of His Excellency the President along with the Speaker of Parliament and all state institutions.
Whenever you see that the time has come to declare a state of emergency in Lebanon, this is your responsibility, go ahead. Do not pay attention to anyone. But until that moment, when you are asking people not to go their work, you should look for an alternative or else people will be without salaries and livelihoods.
We know that a lot of people in Lebanon work on a daily basis. when they do not work, they do not have money to pay for food and bread. This issue is part of the battle. It is not just about the hospitals and the medicine. This is a complementing part of the battle. If we addressed the first part and ignored the second part, we will lose social security as well as the first part which is combating the spread.
In this context, while following up with the events in the past few days, I have seen banks in many countries declaring its readiness to help their governments. These banks have large sums of money and deposits. So, they declared their readiness to provide support and not to ask high interest rates. They offered support for governments and the health sector to enable them to face this unbridled pandemic.
I call on Lebanese banks to act responsibly. We all know that the state’s budget is in a bad state. You, the banks, have lots of money. You have been profiting and making tens of billions of dollars since 1993. Now, you must shoulder the responsibility, and of course optionally. Legally, it is the job of the government and parliament to oblige the banks. As a Lebanese citizen, I ask the Lebanese banks and tell them that you should be among the first to extend a helping hand and offer financial support for the Lebanese government and the health sector. You should also show social solidarity to people so they can endure, and eventually the country wins the battle.
I do not have many topics left. I still have to talk about the second topic and then conclude. I will talk briefly about the second topic.
The last point regarding the coronavirus, in my opinion, is the most important point. When fighting this battle, O people, O dear ones, we must be armed with faith, faith in God, glory be to Him, in Allah the Merciful, the most Gracious, the Almighty, in whoes hand is the realm of the heavens and the earth, in Allah who is competent over all things.
This faith must be strongly present in our minds, hearts, and souls as we fight this battle and all battles. We must seek refuge in God Almighty. We must pray for His help and guidance.
This battle requires patience, persistence, endurance, hope, firmness, determination, and will. We must not despair. God will give us everything. In this battle, we need guidance. We need the guidance of the scientists, the doctors, the laboratories, and the research institutions in the world. There is a possibility that we might not see any results in the coming months, or a year or two. God will guide them. He will show them. Allah is the one who will open the doors for them, the closed doors. Seeking refuge in God and having faith in him must be stronger than ever while fighting this battle. Look my brothers and sisters. The most dangerous thing in any battle, be it political or military and now medical, is when one of the warring sides becomes frightened, feels helpless, weak, and despair. Even a great army that possesses a nuclear weapon or great capabilities, when overwhelmed with the spirit of defeat, will be defeated. What is important is the core – the heart. We have to overcome everything that is causing people to be scared and frightened. Spreading fear or despair – and that we cannot do anything because this pandemic has not cure and we cannot survive it – is real disaster. It is a crime. It amounts to wrecking havoc on earth. One should pay attention to how he speaks and what he writes on social media. Terrorizing people, intimidating them, spreading lies and the spirit of defeat, despair, and weakness means that we will be defeated. We must overcome all of this.
Let us suppose we are at war or even in the face of death. Let us assume that a certain infected person was isolated and remained in the hospital for a period of time. The doctors said that age and other factors caused his death. All is good, God willing. Indeed, you are to die, and indeed, they are to die. Every soul will taste death. We will all die. His time has come. So, we do our jobs. We should not give up just because our time has come. Our religious obligation is to do all we can to preserve our lives. But let us assume that death has come, we accept God’s will and continue our lives. It is the same as the war. During the war, our homes and livelihoods were destroyed, our loved ones killed and wounded. People were displaced. Others became homeless. But we persisted. When we persist, we overcome and triumph. But if the killing, the wounds, and the destruction resulted in defeat, then we will lose everything. It is the same in this battle. Faith, here, gives us strength. Prayers, pleading to God and seeking refuge in Him – every person in his own way because the relationship with God is open. It can be in any language and style you see fit. Talk to him as if you are talking to anyone. He hears you. He knows what you are saying and what is in your mind and heart. He knows when you are honest. Thus, we need this faith, prayers, and this strong spirit.
Our resolve must not be shaken. We must be strong in facing this challenge even if the facts are difficult. In wars, they used to inform us that there were a hundred martyrs, two hundred martyrs, a thousand martyrs, five thousand martyrs, ten thousand wounded, and a hundred thousand homes destroyed. And we were not shaken. That is why we achieved victory. Today is no different. Whatever the losses that this pandemic will inflict, we must face it with strength and toughness. The strong are the ones who will stay and will achieve victory. I ask God Almighty for good health and safety for all and victory in this battle, God willing.
I will talk briefly about the last topic before the conclusion. In the past few weeks, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding it, not because it is controversial but because it is one of the most important and biggest challenges facing the Lebanese government.
Now a press conference: Trump officially declares a national emergency and asks all sectors to join efforts – bring his tweet three or four days ago, look what he said then, and what he is saying now –and work to obtain $50 billion to fight COVID-19. He directly runs towards money!
Regarding the financial and economic issue in the country, the government Prime Minister [Hassan] Diab is thanked for accepting to take the responsibility. It held extensive meetings to develop a reform plan regarding the financial and economic situation. It announced that its priority is financial and economic rescue in the first place. It is working on this matter. Of course, the coronavirus has taken a big portion from this responsibility. The government still needs time to complete its plan because this is a difficult, complex, and not an easy matter.
Regarding Hezbollah’s position, I would like to say a couple of words and conclude.
First of all, we did not present a plan to the Lebanese government. Some writers, some politicians, and some media outlets said that the government is implementing Hezbollah’s plan or adopting Hezbollah’s plan. I am negating the issue. We did not present a plan to the Lebanese government. We have a plan. We have a vision. We have main ideas, and we have discussed during the years, especially during the past few months. But in all honesty, I tell you we did not present a plan. The Lebanese government is the one that should present a plan. It mandates a ministerial committee that meets and presents its plan. We have our opinion and ideas. We are the same as any other political party in this country. All the political blocs in the country discuss, comment, and advice. But we are not responsible to present a plan. It is also not right for us to shoulder this kind of responsibility. There should be a plan where everyone takes part in setting, making, approving, and shouldering its responsibility. This is the first point.
And I previously called on every party, every parliamentary bloc, and every institution that has ideas to present them to the concerned ministers or the relevant ministerial committee. The prime minister’s door is open. The president’s door is open. The parliament speaker is closely following up. They can go and present their ideas. What is important to us is that the current Lebanese government take reform steps. The more these steps garner national consensus or broad national support, the more likely and the greater it is to succeed.
The second point regarding the financial and economic issue that I wanted to refer to is the issue of seeking help from international institutions, the International Monetary Fund, any country in the world, any international framework, the European Union, the Islamic Action Organization, or the Arab League, even if they were not concern about anyone. But in general, our position is very clear. There is no confusion. Unfortunately, some in Lebanon are working on it. What is the problem if the Lebanese government asked for an advice or a counseling from anyone in the world? We have no problem with it, and we did not even have any reservations about it although some say that we are reluctant about that. This is not true. This is first.
Second, we do not object to any party that wants to provide unconditional assistance to Lebanon, a soft loan, or any kind of assistance – of course within the political regulations adopted by the state. Because the headlines now read that Hezbollah is refusing foreign aid to Lebanon – it is part of the lies and the misinformation that is spread in all fields. We have no problem with any assistance, support, or loan that is unconditionally given within the approved legal constraints.
Third, we do not have a problem if the loan, aid, or plan was provided under conditions. But what are the conditions? Conditions that do not violate the Lebanese constitution. Let us assume, for example, someone said we are ready to lend you a soft loan of 50 billion dollars provided that the Palestinian refugees are resettled. This condition is against the constitution. Let any brave and strong person in Lebanon stand up and say I agree with this condition. I am just mentioning an example. I do not see a problem if the condition did not violate the constitution and the law, does not affect the Lebanese sovereignty, and achieves or at the very least does not violate the national Lebanese interest? We do not have a problem even if it was from the International Monetary Fund, any international institution, or any other place as long as the conditions do not violate the constitution, the national interests, or the government's reform plan.
Let me give you a clearer example. It is quite a big example and they might say O Sayyed this is out of question. One of the simplest examples is that I loan you but as you to increase the value added tax or VAT on everything to 15% or 20%. I tell you from now, we in Hezbollah are against this. You can say whatever you want. Who in Lebanon can take the decision to raise the VAT to 15% or 20%, who?
We had a national unity government where most if not all the political parties were represented, and still this government could not save a couple of cents on WhatsApp. People, then, took to the streets. What government in Lebanon can take such a decision? And is it in Lebanon’s interest? Is it in the interest of the Lebanese people?
There are many other options that we have not resorted to, and this is always being discussed in the media, in the advisory committees, and in the government. There are many options that we have not tried. To reach there, we just need to make a decision. From now, we are against any assistance whether from the IMF or anyone in the world that would condition Lebanon to increase taxes on the poor and people with low income. Say whatever you want. People who agree with this option and have the courage to say it should not hide. Let them say on TV that they agree with increasing the VAT because this is the way we address the situation in the country. But we are against this option. Hence, it depends on the condition.
But if someone offered helped and demanded conditions. What are the conditions? For example, if they asked us to shut down unproductive and inactive institutions and find an alternative for the people working there, we have no problem with this. This is a demand. Or if they asked us to enact anti-corruption laws. This is a national demand. This is one of our demands, Hezbollah’s demand. If they asked to enact laws of transparency, financial accountability, and financial expenditure, if they wanted tenders and not contracts by mutual agreement, or if they wanted a real and independent judiciary, we welcome them. These are excellent conditions.
So, the situation here is not about the position alone. It is position that depends on the nature of the conditions and commitments. Our brothers said that we do not accept Lebanon to be put under IMF tutelage. This made a lot of controversy. Who in Lebanon accepts to place Lebanon under the sponsorship of the IMF?! Who accepts to place Lebanon under anyone’s sponsorship and not just the IMF’s?!
It is unacceptable that Lebanon be placed under anyone’s tutelage. It is forbidden for Lebanon to hand over its financial and economic management to anyone and for anyone to dictate policy. The Lebanese government or the Lebanese state is the one responsible for the financial and economic management. It is the decision-maker. It accepts and rejects what it wants. It implements what it wants. No one is to dictate conditions or force it on to something. This is our position. But if the IMF wanted to provide assistance and funds to Lebanon and sets conditions that do not contradict neither the constitution nor our national interests, then we have no problem with this issue.
Even yesterday, for example, because the brothers in Iran asked for assistance for a $ 5 billion assistance from the IMF to fight the coronavirus. Almost all of the news in Lebanon was arguing with Hezbollah. How come Iran asks assistance from the IMF, and you are preventing the Lebanese government from cooperating with the it? When did we stop it? Who said we are preventing that? Who said we refuse Lebanon asking help from the IMF? Our brothers said we do not accept guardianship or dictating conditions. Who accepts Lebanon to be under guardianship? Who accepts Lebanon to be dictated?
The CEDRE conference is a project that is mostly based on loans, a couple of billions of dollars. The donors conditioned reforms. We were in the government, and we did not mind it. It is a normal condition, and we agree to this condition. But if CEDRE or anyone else dictated conditions on Lebanon in return for assistance, it might cause the country to explode. Several months ago and not so long ago – we are not talking about years – the Lebanese national unity government took a decision to increase a couple of cents on WhatsApp, you saw what happened in the country. So, should we accept dictating terms of this kind?! No. As for any assistance even with logical, reasonable, and possible conditions, there is absolutely no problem with it. So, people can rest assured and this issue cease to be a point of contention.
Of course, there are other options other than the social solidarity that I mentioned earlier. Several days ago while I was following the news, banks in some Western countries offered those governments financial support to help them save commercial, industrial, and agricultural companies – that is the economic situation – from collapsing. Great! Banks in Lebanon are one of the options. Now, these banks have protectors, it’s fine. You are telling us to present our ideas. Well, one of the options is the Lebanese banks. I don’t want to mention a precise number to avoid discussions. I asked and checked. They told me that banks in Lebanon made at least tens of billions of dollars from getting loans, debts, treasury bonds, etc. Tens of billions of dollars. You increased your capital, took money abroad, and helped other people get money out. This money was coming out of the Lebanese people’s pocket.
Now, you took this illegally or legally, halal or haram, is another discussion. But this is the reality, today. I am not forcing you. I am merely advising you. A few months ago, when I spoke about this matter, media outlets backed by the banks, accused me of threatening the banks. I did not threaten the banks. I said something different. I will repeat and say. When Lebanon came under occupation, Lebanese families sent their children to fight. Some were martyred and others wounded. Some of the wounded are now disabled. People’s homes were destroyed. Some people made sacrifices to bring back Lebanon’s freedom, sovereignty, dignity, and security. Some people sacrificed their most precious possessions.
Today the challenge is not occupation. The challenge is an economic collapse. And you have billions of dollars. So, go ahead. Help and sacrifice the way those families sacrificed their most valuable possessions. What is more valuable than money? What is money? The human life, the children, the beloved, the husband, the wife and family are more precious than money.
In order to preserve this country’s freedom, sovereignty, dignity, security, survival, resources including the oil and gas that will be extracted, which you, the banks, as well as others will benefit from, the Lebanese people sacrificed their blood. Now, the real challenge facing Lebanon is not the occupation because it is an existing threat and it has a solution. But the real challenge is the financial and economic situation.
What does Trump tell them? You are going to pay. To the banks, you have to do the initiative. You have to shoulder your responsibilities. But first and foremost, you have to have a sense humanity and shoulder national responsibility. You have to make the initiative and not argue. You have to tell the offer assistance to the prime minister like the rest of the banks in the world did. These are respectable banks. Gather yourselves and head to the prime minister and tell him we, the banks, in light of the current situation, will make a contribution to the Lebanese state in this amount – whether to prevent financial collapse or in the fight against COVID-19.
You should take this step. This is your humane, moral, patriotic and religious responsibility – if you are people of religion and you care about religious legitimacy and reason. You must shoulder this responsibility.
I would like to conclude with the regional situation – the events taking place in Syria and Yemen. There is no time left because the coronavirus topic took up all the time. But I will say a few words regarding the event that took place in Iraq because we cannot overlook it. The US aggression last night against the military camps, sites, and civilian installations for the Iraqi army, the Iraqi police, and the Popular Mobilization Units, which is an official body, as well as civilian facilities such as the airport being built in Karbala, which is a civilian facility and not a military base.
What the Americans did last night was violation of Iraq’s sovereignty of Iraq regardless of any agreements, even if they relied on agreements. Who told them that they can bomb and destroy? If they wanted to use Iraq’s airspace, they need permission from the Iraqi government. The Americans crossed all lines. They acted arrogantly, insolently, angrily, foolishly, and blindly. Usually foolishness and blindness lead to the abyss.
The crime committed by the American occupation forces yesterday in Iraq, certainly began to receive the appropriate responses and will receive more appropriate responses from the Iraqis, the Iraqi government, the Iraqi parliament, the Iraqi people, the Iraqi parties, and the Iraqi resistance – this dear and honorable people who refuses to live under the humiliation and arrogance of these tyrants, oppressors, and demons.
We ask God for mercy for all their martyrs. God willing, Iraq and the people of Iraq, with their faith, steadfastness, and resistance will be able overcome this serious and new challenge.
God willing, everyone remains healthy and safe. Through prayers, effort, work, honesty, sincerity, and togetherness, we will overcome this difficult stage, and we will emerge from this war triumphant and our heads up with the help and grace of God Almighty.
Peace and the mercy of God be upon you.