No one cares for the speeches of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah anymore. For years, satellite channels neglected to broadcast his speeches simply because people weren’t interested after they lost their luster and relevance. Yet, the speech he delivered recently on the anniversary of the July 2006 war was somewhat different, for it was delivered shortly after several of the Syrian regime’s prominent leaders had been assassinated; leaders who were once considered to be the umbilical cord feeding and supporting Hezbollah.
The speech was different this time as Nasrallah appeared apprehensive and anxious to an unprecedented degree, even more so than when he came out in August 2006 to beg the Arabs to mediate with the US and force Israel to end its bombardment of Lebanon. In his recent speech, Nasrallah tasted the bitterness of losing key symbols in the Syrian regime, whether as individuals, such as Assef Shawkat, or in their capacity as Syria’s Ministers of Defense and Interior. Nasrallah was part of the crisis management cell administered by the Syrian regime’s elements and adherers, considered to be the most aggressive and tyrannical entity involved in repressing the rebels. This is why he was telling the truth when he said that those killed were his comrades in arms.
The speech highlighted the state of panic that has engulfed the al-Assad regime’s allies, who are now attempting to muster strength following the assassination of some of the regime’s prominent leaders. However, the speech also contained rhetoric that was largely anticipated, as Nasrallah stressed his explicit support for Bashar al-Assad, and even extended his heartfelt condolences to the crisis management elements who lost their lives, despite the fact that they carried out massacres against Syrian civilians.
The speech touched upon two important issues that deserve to be contemplated: Firstly, Nasrallah demonstrated a great degree of simplicity and naivety in attempting to clean up Bashar al-Assad’s face when thanking him for manufacturing the missiles that Hezbollah used against Israel in the summer 2006 war, and that Islamic resistance groups launched against Israel from Gaza. In fact, this was not an endorsement for Bashar, but rather an accusation. If al-Assad really had enough armament potential to defend Lebanon and Gaza, then why hasn’t he liberated the occupied Golan Heights, which are closer and more pertinent to Syria? Besides, the missiles used by Palestinian resistance factions are manufactured locally and are considered extremely primitive. Armament experts call them “cartoon missiles” because they are mere fire crackers that only produce noise; they fly off at random directions and never hit their targets. Even when Bashar al-Assad tried to bring Syria into the domain of manufacturing nuclear warheads, when he built a small facility in Deir al-Zour deep in the Syrian soil, Israeli troops infiltrated the site and spent a full night there inspecting, examining and collecting samples, whilst Bashar al-Assad and his army leaders were all asleep.
Nasrallah justifies what the regime is doing in Syria on the grounds of confronting a Zionist conspiracy to dismantle the only Arab army that is standing up to Israel. This is despite the fact that for more than a year, the whole world has witnessed the Syrian army, with the logistical assistance of the Russians and the Iranians, fighting against Syrian revolutionaries who began with a peaceful revolution, before they later on received the military support of army defectors. Yet no one has sought to offer heavy or advanced weaponry to the revolutionaries. The international community remains reserved, Jordan is abstaining from offering any assistance in order to ensure its internal security, Turkey has failed to impose a buffer zone, whereas in Lebanon, the Syrian regime’s opponents do not dare to bring even a motorbike or a kite across the border into Syria.
Nasrallah says that the West refuses to arm any country that may pose a threat to Israel, but does not object to arming the Gulf States. Yet the irony here is that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Iran’s ally and Nasrallah’s rival, last week appealed to Washington to help arm the Iraqi army’s air and ground forces. In the coming period, especially after the fall of the al-Assad regime, Iraq will be of great importance to the regional dispute between the Arabs and their Persian rival.
The other striking issue in Nasrallah’s speech is that he neglected to mention that during the Syrian revolution, the Syrian regime’s forces, including elements from Hezbollah, have bombarded Palestinian refugee camps in Syria. Al-Raml camp in Latakia was shelled by gunboats, and the regime’s forces also attacked Yarmouk camp in Damascus, as well as camps in Aleppo, Hamah and Homs. In his speech, Nasrallah dared to warn the Palestinians against returning the Palestinian cause to the Arabs, claiming that it would be lost for another 60 years. He reminded them that the “resistance” axis that has sided with them in recent years is now on the verge of collapse.
Nasrallah is well aware that the Palestinian resistance factions, especially Hamas, have agreed a truce with Israel and that, ever since the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin eight years ago – may God rest his soul, we can no longer count the number of ceasefires and armistices that Hamas has brokered with Israel. Ahmed Yassin, whose assassination was bemoaned by all Arabs, was a symbol of pure struggle and resistance, and hence, he received considerable Arab support. The day of his release from an Israeli jail in 1997 was a cause for real celebration, and Arab states like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar all competed to provide treatment for him. He headed first to Egypt under the invitation of President Hosni Mubarak, and then on to Saudi Arabia where he received a hero’s welcome and a royal reception, and was visited in hospital by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, who was crown prince at the time. The King was quoted as saying to him “I have come to emphasize to the world that I adopt the same stance as you.” At the time, Ahmed Yassin was heading the resistance movement, and despite his intellectual and methodical differences with the Palestinian Authority, he was keen for the reconciliation of the Palestinian people and was even keener for improved Arab relations. In fact, we can say that the Palestinians only abandoned their resistance to Israel and became embroiled in in-fighting after the Palestinian cause became a commodity to be bought and sold by Ayatollah Khamenei.
In reality, the Palestinian cause has never once been detached from the Arab mindset, apart from Gaza, which is subject to the domination of an estranged government that has chosen to side with others. As for the Palestinian cause, with all its historical and human depth, it has remained in the hearts of all Arab states.