Sayyed Nasrallah’s Full Speech Tackling Latest Political Developments on June 16, 2020
Translated by Al-Ahed Staff
Sayyed Nasrallah's speech on the latest developments delivered on 16-6-2020
Televised speech of Hezbollah’s Secretary General, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in which he tackled the latest security, political, and economic developmgents, including the Caesar Act.
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.
I’ll be covering many topics tonight, some of which are very important, and I will need to take more of your time, God willing.
I would like to extend my condolences to all Muslims on the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Jaafar bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (PBUH), the grandson of the Messenger of Allah (may God bless him and his household). He was martyred around this time in history.
Imam Jaafar al-Sadiq is known in Islamic history among all Muslims and schools of thought. He was a mentor of scholars and the teacher of many imams of Islamic schools as well. Thousands and thousands of scholars have graduated from his pulpit and school. It was even said that there were four thousand scholars or narrators in Medina alone who said: Jaafar bin Muhammad told me.
First of all, I wanted to shed light on this anniversary.
Second, it is my duty to renew my condolences and express feelings of sympathy for the family of the dear brother and beloved late Dr. Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, may God have mercy on him.
I extend my condolences to his family in Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria and express my sympathies. I pray for them to find patience and solace. I also extend my condolences to my brothers and sisters in the Islamic Jihad movement, its leadership, cadres, the mujahideen, to all our brothers in the Palestinian resistance factions, and to the dear, beloved, and patient Palestinian people.
Of course, I would like to talk a little about this very important leading, jihadist, intellectual, and political figure. Had the health conditions and measures in the country been different, we, as brothers, mujahideen, and comrades in arms, would have held a memorial ceremony in his honor fit for him. But these circumstances afflicted all of us and affected all countries in the world. So, a few words honoring him are also necessary at the beginning of this address tonight.
To the Islamic Jihad movement and a large segment of the Palestinian people, brother Dr. Ramadan Abdullah Shallah was a wise and great leader as well as a great Mujahid. He was also a brother to us.
I will now talk about my personal relationship with him. He was a beloved brother and a loyal and dear friend. I feel a personal loss. Our relationship goes a long way back. We had a lot in common, including our age. We had many long meetings, and I knew him well. The experiences I am recalling tonight, even if briefly, are sensual. I am not quoting anyone. What I will be saying is what I witnessed throughout or relationship and exchanges during difficult days, hardship and prosperity, and during the circumstances in which we lived together. I bear witness to these words.
Brother Dr. Ramadan Abdullah Shallah was faithful, loyal, and honest with God Almighty. He was also loyal to the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people. He was a true leader, committed to the resistance to accomplish goals. He possessed all the qualities of a good leader. He was also an intellectual figure. He worked hard to maintain Palestinian unity and unity between the Palestinian factions, prioritizing cause over party. He was keen on the unity of the factions and the resistance in Palestine, Palestinian national unity, and the cooperation of the Palestinians and understanding one another. These are also important matters. His concerns and activities extended beyond the Palestinian cause to the entire Muslim Ummah.
Another aspect in Dr. Ramadan’s personality was his concern for the countries in the Islamic nation. This dominated most of our discussions. His interests and responsibilities, even sentiments, extended beyond Palestine and the Palestinian cause. He believed in Islamic unity and bringing Muslims together. We used to discuss methods of unifying the Muslim world and bridging the Sunni-Shia divide. We looked for new ways that could achieve this unity and integration between the followers of different Islamic schools of thought. This was part of his interests, especially during the difficult days in recent years in what was called the Arab Spring in the Arab world. We were faced with a real earthquake, an intellectual, political, security, and military earthquake. Dr. Ramadan had his methodology and principles in addressing these events.
I must add here that following the martyrdom of brother Dr. Fathi Al Shaqaqi, may God have mercy on him, Dr. Ramadan Abdullah assumed a leadership position. He was able to develop and push the Islamic Jihad movement towards cohesion, consistency, and development, especially in its jihadi, organizational, and political dimensions, under the leadership of Dr. Ramadan, may God have mercy on him. Under the leadership of Dr. Ramadan, the Jihad movement developed and made a place for itself in the Palestinian arena and in the battle with the “Israeli” enemy – the Palestinian battle and the battle of the region.
Worth discussing the emotional dimension of Salah's personality - he felt the pain, joy, successes, and failures of his people and fighters on a personal level, unlike some leaders who treat subordinates or people as mere tools. This is an important matter. There are people who do not care about the human or emotional dimensions. To them people are just a tool for a political or economic end. Such leaders treat humans as no different than a tank or a rifle, and if thousands of them die, starve, or grieve, they don't care. But true jihadi leaders care for the lives of their followers. Dr. Ramadan would cry over the deaths and suffering of his people. We need more of this.
Some decision-makers in politics, military, and economy see people as banks and money, while others see them as people with feelings and dignity that must be respected and sanctified. The matter differs.
All supporters of resistance and the Palestinian cause, all concerned with holy places in Palestinian, Christians and Muslims, have lost a great leader with the death of Ramadan Shallah. We always asked God Almighty to heal him, but we accept God’s will. May He have mercy on him. We hope that his brothers and loved ones in the leadership of the Islamic Jihad movement continue his path as we will. As Palestinians face the great danger of international, regional, Arab, and Zionist conspiracy against their rights, land, and being, they need a figure like Ramadan Shallah now more than ever. They need his spirit, approach, intellect, courage, his love, and his intensity in the face of enemies. We must all continue this path, God willing.
We must also honor a fallen and dear Hezbollah commander Hajj Hassan Farhat, aka Hajj Abu Ali Farhat. He was known within our ranks as Hajj Abu Ali Farhat Hassan Hajj Hassan. Maybe a few knew him by Hajj Hassan. Hajj Abu Ali was a member of the founding generation of Hezbollah, part of the generation that gave and sacrificed everything for the sake of the resistance in Lebanon. There is no founding person or a founding group. We cannot attribute founding Hezbollah to a specific group. Rather, there is a generation that carried this banner from the first days following the “Israeli” invasion of Lebanon in 1982.
Hajj Abu Ali Farhat belonged to the founding generation of Hezbollah and Islamic Resistance in Lebanon. He began his path as a mujahid, carrying a rifle, engaging in operations, gathering fighters to carry out attacks, until he achieved a regional leadership position by 1985 in Iqlim al-Tuffah following the withdrawal of the “Israeli” enemy from Sidon, Tyre, and Nabatiyeh. He assumed large responsibilities in combating the “Israeli” occupation of the south Lebanon Security Zone. He also had several responsibilities in the resistance, including commanding operations, central training to transfer expertise, experience and competence, and taking part in all wars of the against “Israel”, including July 1993, the Grapes of Wrath in 1996, the liberation in 2000, and the July 2006 war. He was also Hezbollah field commander in Syria and had a distinguished role in the Aleppo battle where great dangers were thwarted from the city and many towns in that region were liberated, including Nubbul and al-Zahraa.
He continued with his responsibilities in the resistance until the last moments of his life. I knew Hajj Abu Ali [Farhat] personally. When I talk about brothers that I know, my talk is of high responsibility. At times, we even lived in the same place for months and met daily. I knew this leader personally. He was humble, religious, calm, wise, patient, and easy going. You would never feel him as a burden. He would give and not take, and never demanded anything in return.
I am talking about some leaders, and I would like to focus on this trait. He never asked the resistance, the supporters of the resistance, his people, or God for any gratitude. He was a mujahid and a believer. This was his spirit. He respected and loved others. All this was known.
To us, therefore, Farhat is an exemplar as a person, a resistance leader, family man, etc. He was a role model for everyone Hajj Abu Ali Farhat dealt with in his personal, organizational, jihadi, and military life. This is the case with the jihadist leaders in our march. He worked away from the spotlight like many other resistance leaders. They became known and their pictures revealed after they left this world.
Once COVID19 passes, it is our duty to hold a ceremony to honor Abu Ali Farhat, and if I am alive by then, it will be my duty to be of service to that ceremony. I also ask God Almighty to have mercy on him. I extend my condolences to all his family, relatives, and loved, and I pray they have patience and find solace.
I will delve into the political matters now. I have several topics related to Lebanon that I have to discuss.
1- The internal political and security situation
2- The economic and financial situation
3- The Caesar Act that targets Syria first and foremost and its repercussions on Lebanon – the Lebanese should take a position towards this barbaric American law
1- The internal political and security situation
The first point:
The talk about the government’s resignation or overthrowing the government that has been circulating in the past few days is baseless. This is a rumor that spread throughout the country like a wildfire. It is false. We haven't heard anything related to this from our allies or in our discussions with them. This was reported in some media outlets and on social media. It is entirely false. And I would like to use this as proof to highlight the extent of media and political tampering in Lebanon. I call this tampering and toying.
For example, when protests and violence erupted last week in response to the spike of the dollar, people blamed the "Shiite Duo", Hezbollah and the Amal movement, — specifically Hezbollah – and said we wanted to topple the government and the prime minister.
It is strange. On the one hand, they call it a Hezbollah government. They then say we want to bring down this government, which they claim is ours. Is Hezbollah this stupid to want to bring down their own government? This shows contradiction, confusion, and tampering. This matter was never raised.
In our opinion, the interest is that this government continue and make efforts. And the current situation in Lebanon does not bear any changes at this level.
The second point:
We have always called for calm. If the priority was to address the economic, monetary, financial, and living conditions in light of political wrangling and popular tension, I do not think that the Lebanese people and the Lebanese state can overcome this difficult stage.
A natural and important condition is political calm in the country. In this context, we have to support all reconciliation efforts between the political leaderships. Any reconciliation efforts - like the one hosted in Ain al-Tineh yesterday by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri between different Druze factions - must be supported.
After the events that struck the mountain and some areas, any similar move is very important. Any initiative of this kind must be supported and encouraged. People must work for its success and remove it from scoring points at the political scene or negative political rivalries.
The third point:
The call by some parties to protest on Saturday. Regarding the June 6 protests and their call to implement UNSC Resolution 1559 and disarm Hezbollah, we think it is wrong, and inappropriate, and an injustice to attribute that day's protests to the October 17 Revolution. It is not fair to the October 17 revolution and revolutionaries for one simple reason. Many supporters of the October 17 Revolution oppose this position [disarming Hezbollah]. They do not have a hostile position towards the resistance. Therefore, attributing this call to the whole protest movement is inappropriate, wrong, unjust, and a sin.
The major demand and the priority of the October 17 protests is not disarming Hezbollah, despite some within it are focusing on the issue. The real problem is not Hezbollah’s weapons. The real problem is the economic situation and living conditions, including job opportunities, the spike of the dollar price and the decline of the national currency, import and export problems, absence of some commodities from the market. These issues affected social security as well as people's lives and psychological conditions. This is the priority.
Demonstrating, protesting, or expressing any position or using any legitimate and legal means to serve addressing these issues is natural, required, and understandable. There is no problem with it at all.
Including 1559 resolution to the demands has negative effects because it will lead to divisions within the protest movement, as we have seen so far. We saw many of the parties that participated in October 17 movement distance themselves from it. This is why the June 6 protest ended up being a weak one, even according to the media supporting those protests. It talked about the failure despite the money that was spent and the US embassy’s big bets on this movement. One of the main reasons is the confusion between issues and slogans. I call for a separation between them. If anyone wants to protest Hezbollah weapons, let them do so. We have no problem with that, and we're not worried about it — but don't mix this issue with the rest of the protest movement’s popular and righteous demands. It is unacceptable and condemned, and it should not be exploited.
A final word regarding this issue to those insisting on raising this slogan. These people are now known. This is laughable. It is part of the political toying. Some are even spreading conspiracy theories about the June 6 protests – that Hezbollah spread the slogan to disarm the resistance and implement the 1559 resolution as an excuse to thwart the popular movement.
This is insulting people’s intelligence! Do people spreading this believe they can fool the rest?
All the Lebanese people know about the statements and calls, the official and televised statements, and statements on social media and newspapers, as well as the parties that called its supporters to participate in the June 6 protest under this slogan. The political forces behind the June 6 demonstrations are well known to all Lebanese.
Now, if these people are working for us and serving our interests, this is a great thing – Hezbollah even has a hold on its enemies, rivals, and those who plot against it. These are like Hollywood movies.
In any case, you can talk day and night about disarming the resistance – on TV, social media, news outlets. You can even right reports to the Americans or the Gulf states. It is not a problem. But if you're serious, you're going about this the wrong way — with slogans, protests, insults, and screaming. This will not change anything at all.
What you need is to convince the supporters of the resistance that you are offering a better alternative to Hezbollah's weapons. The resistance is not about the weapons. The resistance presented before the Lebanese people, the Palestinian people, and the peoples of the region a path and a strategic way of thinking in the conflict with the “Israeli” enemy that leads to the liberation of the land and defend the country, its waters, its land, its goods, its dignity, its sovereignty, etc.
And in the past decades, this logic had real evidence on the ground. And people saw the results of this logic. What is the alternative logic? What is the alternative you're offering?
Speaking in theories or resorting to the law and constitution sometimes might not solve the problem. You have to present some logic. You can talk from now until eternity, but with mere slogans you aren't going to convince the people who faced the daily “Israeli” aggression since 1948, especially in the south and the western Bekaa whose residents suffered most due to the occupation and daily attacks. You are merely exhausting yourselves if do not offer a genuine alternative. For the supporters of the resistance, this has now become an ideology, a belief system, and a strategic vision that has demonstrated its efficacy. You can't address the matter with slogans, cursing, and protests here and there. In any case, I will not add anything anymore to this point.
The fourth point:
This point is also related to the political and security situation – the acts of violence a few days ago as well as the attacks on private and public property, the security forces and the army, and blocking roads, and even more dangerous was cursing important symbols, whether Muslims or Christians, Sunni or Shiite.
In this context, I would like to emphasize the following:
1- To remind people of our decisive position following the start of the movement, revolution, or the October 17 uprising – call it whatever you like. All the Lebanese remember. I gave a speech two days before the Arbaeen of Imam Hussein (PBUH). I spoke about this matter. And I told that protesters that if they wanted to achieve results, they must be aware of certain matters. I called for not attacking public or private property, not to clash with the security forces and the army – because they are your sons, brothers, and loved ones – to avoid cursing political or religious symbols, and not to block roads.
We emphasized on all these points during the speech. We've been consistent on these points since then. We confirm that they must be avoided for one simple reason – these methods don't serve the purpose of pressuring the government into implementing reforms. Not only that, these methods are counterproductive and will move the people away from the protesters. If anything, this leads to building barriers between them and the people. It creates enmity and hatred among the people.
For example, when you set a roadblock and block the road on a Saturday or Sunday, you are creating long queues. Thousands of cars will stand still for hours under the sun. These people all will take an emotional, psychological, and political position against you – who are you to block the road under the pretext of social demands.
The worst is cursing and insulting people. This will lead to divisions, sedition, and chaos. I do not believe that people want chaos.
So, I affirm that this is our commitment – from the leadership to all the joints of our movement as well as our friends and allies. We always talk about this issue. For us, this is a fundamental, human, ethical, religious, and patriotic topic. No one should make any mistake when it comes to this matter.
2- Regarding cursing and insulting political and religious symbols, this reflects a certain moral deficiency and lack of discipline, on social media, in the street, and even in the traditional media in Lebanon. There is a lack of discipline in this matter. It is our responsibility as well as the responsibility of the political force, the religious and political leaders in the state and in society as well as the elites not to allow our country to slip into chaos and sedition, particularly of a sectarian nature. We are all responsible for maintaining self-restraint.
But this will continue. This happens every day on social media. Sometimes the media sheds light on it. A few months ago, a person insulted Amir al-Mu'minin Ali bin Abi Taleb on social media. The Shiites took this as a personal attack. During the June 6 protests, some cursed the mother of the believers and the wife of the Messenger of Allah, Aisha. Our Sunni brothers took this as a personal attack.
There is no discipline in the media and social media. There is moral decadence and security breaches in the country. That is the electronic armies - belonging to the “Israelis” and others - want this country to fall into sectarian strife. These armies are ready every day to curse and insult the symbols and sanctities of all Muslims and Christians as well as all political forces to pit them against each other. Should we put the fate of our country and people in the hands of agents, ignorant individuals, and spies, or should we act responsibly? And how do we act responsibility? By not blowing matters out of proportion. For example, if someone insulted Imam Ali, what should we, the Shiites, say? We should say that these views don't represent Lebanon’s Sunni community or its beliefs. This person is either foolish, an agent, or was paid to sow sedition. We should demand from the authorities and the judiciary to look for this person, arrest him, and deal him. We should not take matter into our own hands.
Keep this matter confined to the individuals who committed the offense, and don't attack their family, village, or political party, let alone their sect. This is what wisdom, righteousness, religion, national interest, brotherhood, and morality say. But blaming all Sunnis is a crime against us [Shiites] first and foremost.
The same thing happened recently. Whenever a Shiite youth insults or offends Sayyeda Aisha, the mother of the believers, the wife of the Messenger of God, how should the Sunnis behave? And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another.
This young man made a mistake. he committed a sin, a crime – call it what you want. However, his family are not responsible for his actions, neither is his sect or his political party – if he belonged to one. The religious scholars and leaders in his sect are also not responsible. We should not pour gasoline on the fire and put the country on the brink of sectarian strife by opening files that dates back a long time for personal gains.
The same applies to Christian/Muslim relations, if someone from one religion insults the symbols of another, especially when this is coming from youths speaking in the heat of the moment. But what amounts to national, moral, and human treason is that political or religious leaders get involved in this kind of incitement. Allow me to express concern regarding this issue because it is not over yet.
This is going to continue happening because this is the mood of the country. So, leaders of any insulted sect must be the first to step to the forefront and tamp down tensions. If we adopt this principle, this approach, this method of treatment, we can avoid risks, losses, and negatives. Of course, it would be great if we could get to a point where we are no longer insulting each other. But that's a heavy lift now. I am not saying it is hopeless. But if we adopt this mechanism in approaching this issue specifically – because it is more sensitive than attacking private and public property. A person attacking property is arrested. The damages can be compensated. But the rift it causes enters every house and creates sedition. It must not be tolerated.
The fifth point:
The last point is related to the recent violence that took place Saturday in Beirut and Tripoli. These acts are completely condemned, religiously, morally, and legally. Even if someone is hungry or upset, they have no right to commit violence or vandalize shops, stores, offices, cars, homes, etc. This is condemned, and no one can support it, accept it, or condone it.
Unfortunately, the violence took place as a result of the rumors that spread that the price of the dollar went up to 7000 LBP when the actual was 5000 LBP. People got angry and took to the streets in more than one area. Then violence broke out. From that time until today – the violence is still taking place while I am addressing you – who committed these violent acts? Who took to the streets? Who committed acts of vandalism? I will say what is being said.
It was the Shiites who came from Dahiyeh [the southern suburbs pf Beirut], the supporters of the Shiite Duo Amal and Hezbollah. Some went further to say that this was organized by the leadership of Hezbollah and Amal. You can read this in articles and was reported by some media outlets. The leadership sent the young men to pressure the government or to topple Hassan Diab. Some men were calling for toppling Riad Salameh. This was an organized, planned, and systematic.
Well, work on this matter is still underway as if it were the truth. I would like to say a few words regarding this. First, I want to note that violence also happened in Tripoli. Did the Shiite go to Tripoli and do this? Did people from Dahiyeh go to Tripoli and commit violence? These acts are condemned wherever they are committed – in Beirut, Tripoli, Dahiyeh, Tyre, Baalbek, Jounieh. This is the first question.
The second question: I want to add my voice to the parliamentarians’ and officially demand the security and judiciary apparatus to act. There are videos of the people who took part in the Saturday protest. Go after the people who vandalized, interrogate them, and see whether they are politically affiliated and whether their political parties ordered them into the street.
It is, therefore, wrong to blame Dahiyeh – as a geographical area – and the Shiites – as a sect – for the acts of violence that took place on Saturday, which we condemn and reject. We also denounce violence and vandalism. We condemn this malicious campaign. But we need to see where this campaign of blame came from because this is not natural and far from innocent. We call on the security apparatus as well as the judiciary to act and bear the responsibility and hold those responsible for this campaign accountable.
To be clear and transparent, we spoke to the army and the security forces to set up checkpoints and block roads to prevent the people on motorbikes from entering. We don't want problems in the country. We don't want anyone cursing or attacking people. It's not in the interest of the country or our interest for this to happen, and we're not going to act against our interest. Even though we asked the security apparatus and the army, some motorbikes managed to escape from several areas.
As a result of what happened on Saturday and last Saturday, Hezbollah and Amal agreed to send our guys into the street to impose discipline – of course without weapons – to pursue the people committing vandalism and roaming around on motorbikes. We even spoke with them and told them their actions were counterproductive. We expended all efforts we could to restrain them because we don't want one "street" clashing against another "street."
Here, I would like to say something. Of course, some media outlets and political parties called it private security. Let them say whatever they want about Hezbollah using its private security, when it comes to preventing sedition, sectarian strife, and a conflagration in the country, we will do whatever is necessary to prevent that, including deploying security forces to prevent clashes.
Such talk is of no value when the great national interest becomes calming the street, controlling the street, preventing clashes that lead to discord and chaos, this becomes the duty of all.
Frankly, say whatever you want. In the future, when the need arises for the young men of Hezbollah and the Amal movement to head to any square, street, and crossroad to prevent a clash, a confrontation, or chaos, we will do so. Take note from now.
Also take note that the way Dahiyeh is being treated is unacceptable. Because it is baseless. There is almost a million people living in Dahiyeh. There are Sunni people, Christians, and Syrians. There are also the Palestinian refugee camps. However, the majority of the population are Shiites. However, if one person from Dahiyeh commits an action, it is improper to blame Hezbollah and Amal. If young men on motorbikes left Dahiyeh and drove into Hadath, Beirut, Ain al-Rummaneh, or Khaldeh, it does not mean they belong to Hezbollah or Amal. This is incrimination. This is not permissible at all. This is irrational and illegal.
They say Hezbollah and Amal don't represent all the Shiites. Great! Here, we go back to the issue of the Hezbollah government and how the Hezbollah protest wants to topple the Hezbollah government. On the one hand, they say the Shiite duo does not represent all Shiites. In the other, if one Shiite individual said or did something, they blame Amal and Hezbollah! We cannot move forward like this. This type of logic needs to be addressed.
Therefore, we are not presenting ourselves as being responsible for any action that comes out from the Shiites – like the Sunnis and the rest of the sects. There are people who do not agree with the doctrine of Amal and Hezbollah, their path, and their leadership. They exist but in a limited percentage. Ten, 20, or 50 of them can take to social media or drive motorcycles or take to the street and cause problems. Is it right to hold the entire Shiite community or Hezbollah and the Amal movement responsible for this and take the country towards sectarian strife? This is not acceptable at all.
They're even accusing Hezbollah of smuggling goods on trucks to Syria via Tripoli. Why would we do that via Tripoli? You are saying Hezbollah controls illegal crossings in the Bekka. Why not just smuggle through those? If you're going to lie and spread rumors, at least make them believable.
I just wanted to shed light on this matter – the extent of slander and moral degradation and chaos in making accusations. If you want to accuse, go ahead, but at least let there be a kernel of truth to it, not a blatant lie.
I call on the Lebanese state, the judiciary, and the security apparatus to shoulder their full responsibilities.
And if one day someone assaulted public or private property and you arrested him and held him accountable, and we or anyone else interfered, announce that and say Hezbollah, the Amal Movement, or this certain political party is protecting the perpetrator.
Again, I call for calm, deconfliction, restraining social media activists who are creating strife in the country. This matter needs attention and should be addressed. It is the responsibility of religious and political leaders, the media, the authorities, and every individual in this country.
2- The economic and financial situation
The first point:
It is related to what has been taking place in Lebanon for the past few days – the rise in the price of the dollar and the decline in the value of the national currency, the Lebanese pound. I will also discuss its repercussions on the country in terms of prices, import and export, and the availability of goods and materials; its repercussions on institutions and companies that declared bankruptcy and laid off employees; its psychological and social repercussions – the anger and rage among the people. This a challenge. We shouldn’t learn to live with it or adapt to it. We all need to look for a solution. Government officials and the Lebanese people should cooperate to fix this problem or at least alleviate some of its impacts.
I want to talk a little bit on this point and then moved to the second one. I will talk briefly about the price of the dollar. We are all familiar with the supply and demand. If the demand on any commodity is higher than its supply, its price will increase. And if the supply of a commodity is higher than its supply, its price will decrease. What is happening here is that there is a high demand on dollars in Lebanon, but there is little supply of it. There is no solution for the high demand on the dollar because people will continue to demand it. There are policies that have led to a lot of dollarization in the Lebanese economy. Importing goods is required to be in dollars. Therefore, there is high demand on the dollar, which is natural. However, the problem is with the low supply of the dollar in the market.
Let us look for the reason behind the shortages in the supply of the dollar. Why is there lack of dollar in the market? For the purpose of manipulation. So that the price of the dollar would increase, and the price of the Lebanese pound would decrease. This has repercussions.
Now, we are talking about data. We are not implicating anyone. We are talking about facts.
First, the information I am disclosing is definitive and certain. It is an official piece of information and not something I read somewhere. No! There is definitive and conclusive information that the Americans are preventing the transfer of required amount of dollars to Lebanon. I will get back to this and say why.
The Americans are pressuring Lebanon’s central bank not to inject enough dollars into the Lebanese market. This isn't secret information, this is known and discussed in the Lebanese media. The Americans say they are doing this because they claim that when the dollar is injected into the Lebanese market, Hezbollah and others are buying them up and sending them to Syria and Iran.
Last time I spoke about this to clarify things. I noticed that in the two weeks after my address no one said that we are collecting dollars from the market and sending them to Iran. However, they are still saying that we are collecting the dollar and sending it to Syria. For this reason, the Americans, the US administration, the US Treasury, and the US State Department are preventing the dollars from coming to Lebanon.
Second, they are putting pressure on the central bank to inject less than enough dollars into the market so that it faces this problem. This is real. To know where the problem is, we have to know who is causing it. When you're going out to protest, you must know who you are demonstrating against. Why are you protesting in front of these shops in downtown Beirut?
Third, what I am about to say is included in the investigation being conducted by the security apparatus and the judiciary. Our information is that the judiciary is determined to carry on with the investigation. This is what we have been calling for. We do not want to put doubts on anyone or accuse anyone. We want to eat grapes. Since the security apparatus and the judiciary launched an investigation, why don’t you continue with it? Tell people the truth. Is Hezbollah the one collecting dollars from Lebanese markets and taking them to Syria? If Hezbollah is indeed transferring dollars, then let the security forces investigate the matter and show us proof.
I always talk about this matter. By doing so, I am harming Hezbollah because it is exposing us more to the American. But I have repeat and say it. We are bringing dollars to Lebanon and not collecting from Lebanon. How and where is a different story!
There are people buying dollars and taking them out of Lebanon but not to Syria. There was a specific bank, which I won't name, has been doing so. Tens of billions of dollars have been collected since August 2019 and taken out of Lebanon – not to Syria and Iran though. This bank is protected by certain political parties. Now, go ahead and tell people the truth.
During official sessions, some relevant officials said that $20 billion dollars have been smuggled abroad between September 2019 and February 2020. But not by Hezbollah or Amal and not to Syria and Iran. Here, some questions regarding the background of some groups in the October movement could be answered since the money was collected in September, that is before the October movement was launched.
Who took out $ 20 billion from banks in Lebanon and took them abroad? This is official talk said in an official session. It can be found in a written report as well as in an audio recording.
Isn’t it a problem when $ 20 billion is taken out of the country and the bank buys tens of millions of dollars within months is overlooked?
The problem is that there are money changers in Lebanon selling dollars to the Syrians at the Masnaa border. I am not denying this. This happens, but only to a certain extent. Go ahead, hold them accountable and arrest them. Have we protected anyone? We have not. But the problem is not here. This is an American lie.
The issue of the dollar is a conspiracy, first and foremost, against Lebanon, the Lebanese people, the economy, and the Lebanese pound and then Syria. Syria is just an excuse. That specific bank did not smuggle tens of millions of dollars to Syria. Ask the governor of Lebanon’s central bank if any of the $ 20 billion went to Syria, and how much.
So, there is someone running this operation, trying to take dollars out of Lebanon to cause economic collapse in the country. This is the truth.
Regarding this issue, we should know who our enemies are, so we can hold him accountable. We should know that they are our slaughterer and executioner, the ones humiliating our country and our people and see how we can address this matter and confront them properly.
Therefore, the issue is bigger than a legal or an illegal money changer. This is simplifying the dollar problem in Lebanon. On the contrary, it is a smokescreen to hide the monsters responsible for preventing dollars from arriving in Lebanon.
Now, some people might say that our problem is bigger. It is with the Americans and not money changers that we can arrest or a bank. Should we give up? Of course, no. we should not give up. We have a responsibility to address this problem. Here, I will talk about a couple of points regarding the economic and financial situation.
The first point:
The government must take several measures regarding the financial issue today. It must inject dollar into the market in a carefully thought out manner. It must also control the buying and selling operations, the exchange offices, and the banks. It should monitor this arena and strike with an iron fist like the rest of the countries do. This is no longer a matter of freedom in buying and selling. Rather it is a matter of national security.
The issue of the dollar supply and the price pf the Lebanese pound is not a matter of the liberal or the capitalist system. It is a matter of national security, meaning the judiciary, the security services, and the joint operations room that was formed in the General Security must do their work seriously and with full force. This is on the one hand, and they must be supported by all Lebanese.
On the other hand, the Lebanese people should not believe rumors that will lead to the destruction of the country. Such rumors are the dollar going up to 7000 LBP or 8000 LBP or the absence of certain commodities from the market. Then people would take to the streets with parties demanding the downfall of the government. All this is a game on social media. We should not believe the rumors or spread them. People spreading rumors are also violating national security and must be held accountable.
The second point:
I would like to talk about a new idea tonight. I tell the Lebanese people, first, there are alternatives and other options. Second, we are definitely fighting a battle of public opinion. Third, we have to look for serious solutions.
What I will be telling the Lebanese people is something we spoke about with some Lebanese officials. We want to continue and have an understanding with them. We have to ask ourselves how we can lessen the burden of needing the hard currency. If the dollar is the pressure point used against us, for even basic needs, how do we reduce demand for the dollar? You need the dollar to buy gasoline, gas, diesel, flour. We used to talk about missiles and cannons. Now we want to talk about these because they are one of the tools of the battle today.
To buy medicine, medical equipment, raw materials for industry, etc. we need the dollar. If the central bank does not have enough dollar to cover all this because it will be in trouble with the Americans. It is not a new idea, but it is new if implemented in Lebanon. Can we address these files without the dollar, without needing it?
I like to speak things simply. I am not fond of using terminology.
Can we find a country, a friendly, regional, close or distant country that will accept this? Iran is an example of this country. We can ask the Iranians if they would sell the Lebanese state gasoline, gas, diesel, fuel, oil derivatives, petrochemicals, and other materials without using the dollar. I gave Iran an example. There might be other countries that would accept to do business without using the dollar but rather the Lebanese pound. We can do something like this.
But from past experiences, we have to convince the Lebanese side to accept it first before we talk to the Iranians or the others. I am saying this at my own responsibility. The brothers in Iran might be surprised to hear me talk about something this big, and I have not discussed it with them. In the past, when our brother Hajj Mohammad Fneish was electricity minister, I went to Iran for two weeks and discussed with the Iranian minister of electricity as well as other officials the electricity issue in Lebanon. We brought back a proposal and a project that was not adopted in Lebanon.
But before we talk to our Iranian brothers or any friendly country in this matter, the Lebanese officials should accept. Another alternative is bartering. This country might not take Lebanese lira in exchange for fuel. But it can take Lebanese products whether agricultural or industrial. This can happen with Iran and other countries.
The second example is easier. We can even apply this with other countries in the region. What will this achieve? This will stimulate Lebanese production, move the wheel of the economy, create job opportunities, demand for dollar will be reduced, and the price of the local currency will increase. In the beginning, there will still be demand for the dollar, but this demand will decrease, and the value of the Lebanese lira will increase. This alternative has many advantages. It will reduce American leverage over Lebanon. We will be able to provide what we need without the dollar or any other hard currencies. This will relieve Lebanon a lot. I tell the Lebanese people not to despair. There are alternatives.
I also urge the Lebanese people to help me convince the Lebanese officials if they refused in fear of US pressure. If they are afraid of the Americans, should we stay afraid of them? The Americans will not have mercy on us. Being afraid is unacceptable. This is an option that must be taken into consideration. We will discuss this seriously with the Lebanese officials. If we sense a little bit of acceptance, we will send a delegation to meet with Iranian officials and officials of other countries.
There is another thing. A few months back, I spoke about China and heading eastward. By doing so, we were making an argument with the government and the officials and telling the Lebanese people that there are alternatives.
We have been following up on this in the past few weeks after the coronavirus eased a little. Today, I have definitive and certain information, that Chinese companies are ready to start injecting money and without all these complications arising in Lebanon. I do not say anything I am not sure of. We will not be giving them money, rather they will be bringing money into the country. What will happen if the high-speed rail project from Tripoli to Naqoura was achieved? Would it not bring money to the country? This will bring investment to the country. Would it not create job opportunities and make a huge shift in the economic, social and living issues, etc.? Imagine a fast train from Tripoli to Naqoura. I am officially telling you Chinese companies are ready to help us. They are also ready to build power plants on BOT basis – that is the Lebanese state will not pay a dime at present and that the Chinese will discuss with it the payment process. In the past few days, we also asked the Chinese if they are ready to construct a tunnel between Beirut and the Bekaa. The Chinese companies are prepared to invest in these projects on a BOT basis.
I am not saying that Lebanese officials refused this proposal. On the contrary, I know that there are some ministries who were positive and opened doors tom debate. But when the coronavirus hit the country, everything was postponed. Today, people are starting to live with the coronavirus, and we don't have much time to waste. I am with this issue being decided. If the Chinese are ready to help us, why are we waiting for the Americans?
I have taken a lot of time. I ask of you to bear with me a little longer. I want to address the Lebanese and tell them frankly, the Lebanese people cannot continue like this, sitting and waiting for the Americans.
There are negotiations underway with the International Monetary fund. I don’t know how long the negotiations will take. Some are saying a year. Can the country last a year? This is one.
Two, the French and the Europeans are waiting for American permission to start working on CEDRE again. The Arab countries, especially the Gulf states, regardless of their willingness and motivations, need US permission. The Americans are using the Lebanese economy to achieve their interests and not that of Lebanon. There is no such thing as the Lebanese interest in the American calculations. They don't care for us. I'll say more. There is no such thing as American interest in Lebanon, only “Israeli” interests and security. They care about “Israel’s” land and maritime border, gas and fuel in our territorial water, and “Israel’s” future. This is what the Americans work for in Lebanon. They don't care if we live or die. This means nothing to the Americans, their president, or their ambassador to Lebanon. So, should we continue waiting for the Americans?
Should we wait until we are hungry and humiliated? You have to learn a lesson from the way the Americans treat their allies and friends in the world. They humiliate, insult, and steal from them every day – not just countries in our region but European ones too. According to the media, the US president reduced US forces in Germany by half without even consulting the German government. The Germans found out from the media. This is America’s friend and ally in NATO. These are the Americans you are betting on, my dears. To those betting on the “Israelis”, take a look at a tape recording of people standing behind barbed wire on May 24, 2000. To those who are betting on the Americans, just go back and see videos of Americans throwing their Vietnamese tools out of helicopters in Vietnam. Frankly, the Americans are pressuring Lebanon to subjugate and destroy it, in whose interest? In the interest of “Israel”. It is not in the interest of Lebanon’s sovereignty that they violate and not out of love for the Lebanese people they are punishing.
Since the beginning of the sanctions, we told them we have no problem being sanctioned. If you want to put us in the terror list, we have no problem. Punish us, we have no problem. But why are you punishing the Lebanese people? If the Americans have a problem with Hezbollah’s weapons, fine, let them punish us. Why are they punishing the Lebanese people? What reason, law, or religion permits this? This is how the Americans operate. If they have a problem with a country's regime, they punish the people. They have a problem with the governments in Syria, Iran, and Venezuela, so they punish these governments’ people. Same goes for Cuba and North Korea. What's the humanitarian, legal, or religious justification for this?
Are the Americans allowed to do this? No. If they think this is how they will turn the Resistance's base against it, they are mistaken and are wasting their time. If you are betting on us to starve or let Lebanon starve, I tell you we will not. And we will not allow the country to starve. I have confidence in what I am saying. If you are betting that hunger will force us to be humiliated and hand our country to you and be under the mercy of the “Israelis”, you are mistaken.
Even with regard to Hezbollah’s arms, what are some doing? They're trying to lead us to an equation where we surrender our arms in return for bread. We won't accept this equation, and if it comes to this, we have our own equation – a more dangerous equation and let them go analyze [what I mean.]
Allow me to simplify the matter to the Lebanese people. It is like someone sitting in a garden surrounded by wolves. This person has a weapon that can prevent the wolves from killing him and his family. Then, someone tells him to hand over his weapon or he will starve them to death. If he surrendered his weapon in exchange for bread, what will he do when the wolves come to get him? How will he defend his wife and children? So basically, he is given the option to be killed by either a weapon or by starvation. This same equation applies to Lebanon.
The international resolutions or the UN Security Council do not protect Lebanon. Look at Yemen. I left Yemen to the end, so I can talk about it. On the same day that the submissive and humiliated secretary general of the United Nations de-listed the Saudi-led coalition for killing and maiming children in Yemen, Saudi fighter jets committed a massacre in Saada province, killing women and children.
Who will defend Lebanon against “Israel”? Look at the Palestinian people, who is protecting them? Part of the West Bank was annexed. Despite rejection from the Palestinian people, Jordan, and the Europeans who said that the move was illegal, it did not stop the annexation. If the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well as abroad did not call for accountability, no one in the international community will ask about the Palestinian people.
After 1948, the only thing that protects Lebanon, its sovereignty, water, gas and fuel, its people, and its integrity is our weapon. And if they try to make us choose between starving us to death or killing us, I tell them we won't starve, and we will not surrender our weapons. We will kill you. We will kill you. We will kill you. Surrendering our weapon is not an option for us.
There are other alternatives. When I say turn eastward, I'm not saying close the door to America, France, the West, or the Arabs. No, open the door eastward and westward, to everyone in the world except “Israel”. America is our enemy, but if you want it to help Lebanon, fine. Anyone but “Israel”.
We have to do business with any country in the world that can help us dispense of the hard currency and sell us gasoline, gas, fuel, foodstuffs, medicine, and materials for industry in Lebanese pounds. We should not wait for anyone or appease to anyone. We have to welcome and appreciate any country or company in the world ready to come to Lebanon and invest on the BOT basis. We do not accept that our people be starved to death or humiliated. This will never befall our people in Lebanon.
3- The Caesar Act
I wanted to address Iraq and Yemen, but I will have to postpone it. I apologize to the Iraqis. I will talk about the Caesar Act because Lebanon and Syria will be affected by this.
I always insist that Syria emerged victorious against the global war waged against it. It triumphed militarily and politically as well as at the security level and psychological warfare. They failed to subjugate and divide Syria. So, the Caesar Act is the last American weapon to defeat Syria. It will impose a severe blockade on the Syrian state and people. If Syria did not emerge victorious, they would not have needed the Caesar Act.
So, now they're going to impose a blockade on Syria to put pressure on it. No one is allowed to cooperate with Syria, its central bank, other banks, state institutions. You know that the economy in Syria is mostly based on the public sector. Hence, they want to starve Syria and strike its currency. Is this out of love for the Syrian people? Is starving the Syrian people an expression of love?
I would like to remind everyone about the first two years of the Syrian crisis. During a televised address, I said that Syria’s allies will not allow Damascus to fall. This was when Damascus was a in dangerous situation. Some were surprised by the statement.
I want to tell the Syrian people and everyone concerned with Syria that Syria's allies who stood beside it during the military, security, and political war launched against it will not abandon Syria now as it confronts this economic war. I am sure of this. Hezbollah is one of the forces working on this.
In any case, the Syrian government is working hard to deal with Caesar Act as well as its repercussions. The Syrian people must cooperate with each other and demonstrate solidarity to overcome this stage. The Syrian people must not let anyone fool them into thinking that the objective of the Caesar Act is to change the Assad regime.
In fact, the target is the Syrian people and bringing chaos back into the country because most of Syria is now safe, quiet, and stable. Some want to bring back the civil war into Syria. To thwart these malicious US objectives, the Syrian people should show solidarity, be patient, and cooperate. The government, the leadership, the people as well as Syria’s friend will work together by Syria’s side. Those who gave blood and made great sacrifices since 2011 to defend Syria will not spare any effort to protect it against this new economic war.
Any Lebanese rejoicing over this must realize that the Caesar Act will impact them as well. The Syrians might have a better chance in absorbing the repercussions of the Caesar Act than us in Lebanon. Syria is Lebanon's only land outlet to the world. When we talk about imports and exports, we mean Syria. When we talk about looking for markets for our agricultural produce, we are talking about Syria. Those – the Americans – who are trying to close the Lebanese door to Syria are implicitly trying to force Lebanon to open the door to “Israel”.
Those calling on closing the borders with Syria will later call on us to open our borders to “Israel”. Then, this border with “Israel” will be publicly opened with some Arab countries. This is not acceptable in Lebanon. Syria is Lebanon’s only land outlet for its import and export, finding markets for Lebanon. The trade and economic exchanges between Lebanon and Syria existed even in the worst political circumstances and bilateral relations. For us, Syria, now and in the future, represens the greatest opportunity for Lebanese companies to go and participate in the reconstruction process. Even the former Lebanese Prime Minister called in forums that Lebanon should have its biggest share in the reconstruction of Syria.
But how can this be done under the Caesar Act? This harms Lebanon and the Lebanese people. I am not saying that the Lebanese government should fight with the US. I know this isn't possible. What I am saying and calling for is that we not submit to the Caesar Act. There should be no official or popular decision to submit to the Caesar Act. This law is targeting Lebanon and Syria. It aims to starve the people of Lebanon and Syria.
There is an opportunity for our people to find job opportunities and live descent lives so you can make something, cultivate, and have a productive economy. The Americans are trying to close all doors to Lebanon, to break, humiliate, and pressure you to submit not to the Americans but to the “Israelis”, similar to what is taking place in the rest of the Arab world. I repeat and say, with regard to this matter, it will never happen in Lebanon.
In conclusion, I would like to tell the Lebanese that we are facing a great challenge today. Hunger, the economy, and the dollar is another form of war that we must fight the same way we did with the coronavirus. It needs a mentality and spirit of war. Can we do this? Yes, we can. We don't need the Americans. There is a big world in front of us, and the sky is the limit. There is a lot of goodness, and we have many friends.
We should have the will to unite and cooperate. We should not help spread sedition and sectarian strife because this is part of the plan that was made to subdue and destroy this country and starve the people. All this must not be allowed.
May Allah reward you. We have taken a lot from your time, so I apologize. Peace and Allah’s mercy and blessing be upon you.