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Hezbollah rejects chemical weapon reports, welcomes Lebanese security in Dahieh - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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ISRAEL OUT  Israeli soldiers are seen near an Iron Dome battery near Jerusalem, om Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013.  (AP Photo/Gil Yohanan)

ISRAEL OUT Israeli soldiers are seen near an Iron Dome battery near Jerusalem, om Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Gil Yohanan)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Monday discussed recent developments in Syria and Lebanon in a speech which prompted observers to say Nasrallah was softening its stance on regional issues.

Nasrallah said the movement welcomed the deployment of Lebanese security forces in its stronghold of Dahieh in Beirut to take over security duties in the area. Meanwhile, Nasrallah denied reports that Syrian chemical weapons were transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon, adding that he rejected chemical weapons on “legal and religious grounds.”

Nasrallah laughed off reports that chemical weapons were transferred to his movement, saying the transfer of such weapons was not like “transporting wheat or flour,” and that “Hezbollah did not ask our brothers in Syria to transfer such weapons and will not do so in the future.”

Observers said Nasrallah’s a speech–which emphasized the necessity of finding a political solution for the Syrian issue, “was an attempt by the movement to avoid international conflict” and therefore, avoid more sanctions, by seemingly softening Hezbollah’s stance.

Political researcher Qasim Qasir told Asharq Al-Awsat that the softening of Hezbollah’s stance was “not a radical shift” and that the movement’s apparent position was a result of “the improving in international political environment, especially between the Americans and the Iranians, and also the changes in the Syrian arena.”

Qasir said the change in Nasrallah’s discourse was in harmony with the policies of new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani. He said the tangible change “could be linked to the international climate and the improving Arab-Iranian relations, as well as Iranian relations with the West.”

Another political researcher, Tawfiq Al-Hindi, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Nasrallah’s declaration that he rejected chemical weapons “contradicted the movement’s strategy which focused on fighting Israel in order to eliminate it.”

Qasir said Hezbollah “had no benefit in saying it had anything to do with chemical weapons, because it is not a state, and its strength did not rely on weapons of mass destruction, but in its tactical capability.”

Qasir added that Nasrallah’s declaration relieved the tension which has existed among its supporters since the recent explosions in the Dahieh, and the threats of strikes on Syria. He said Hezbollah was a pragmatic movement which was and capable of adapting to regional changes.