(Asharq Al-Awsat) What next after the Israeli war; was it a victory?
(Fadlallah) I believe that some might not agree with using this term “victory” as an expression; that it was a strong steadfastness that the resistance was able to achieve in the battlefield with the Israel. We believe that Lebanon was able to Achieve victory in this war, whether in the battlefield or that of the Lebanese people who stood up in rebellion against all the plans of capitulation that they wanted them to fall into.
Asharq Al-Awsat) Has Lebanon’s role changed after this war?
(Fadlallah) I believe that this battle was able to achieve a qualitative leap at the political level by foiling the US policy in Lebanon because the America of Bush wanted Lebanon to turn into a base for American influence.
(Asharq Al-Awsat) Lebanese voices were raised during the war criticizing one party’s unilateral war and peace decision?
(Fadlallah) When we look at the issue objectively and with a cool mind, we do not see that the resistance took the war decision unilaterally because when we examine the event, the capture of the two soldiers and the confrontation that followed, it becomes clear that the resistance was not thinking of declaring war. This is what the resistance statements said after the event. The resistance was not the first to bombard the Zionist entity’s north but retaliated against the aggression that targeted it and Lebanon. Its war was a reaction to the aggression. We therefore say that those saying the resistance took the war decision unilaterally are wrong and do not examine things accurately. The resistance responded to the Israeli aggression that targeted it directly and targeted the Lebanese civilians at the time when the government washed its hands of the resistance and took a neutral stand on the basis that it was not responsible. But we notice here and in this Lebanese official weakness that Israel did not accept this but held the Lebanese Government responsible.
(Asharq Al-Awsat) Do you see a possibility of the resistance continuing?
(Fadlallah) One point was raised at the dialogue sessions and it was this: What is the defense strategy in Lebanon in the absence of the Lebanese Army’s actual and military capabilities to stand up to Israel. We do not argue the Lebanese Army’s loyalty through its command, officers, soldiers, and national creed. But the governments were unable to achieve for it the balances of power. We also know up till now that the United States does not want the Lebanese Army to be a force with the capability to confront any Israeli aggression. Therefore the resistance proposed agreement on a strategy for defending Lebanon and for the resistance to be part of this strategy. The resistance leaders stated that they agreed with all the Lebanese to work to establish a strong and capable country with the ability to defend the country with its own forces and then there will be no need for the resistance.
(Asharq Al-Awsat) What have recent events impacted the Lebanese Shiite’s situation and their relationship with other communities?
(Fadlallah) I will not talk about the Shiites in sectarian terms but as a group of the Lebanese who were able to achieve for Lebanon what no other community was able to achieve. This is the liberation of the Lebanese territories at the hands of the Islamic Resistance — which is, between quotes — a Lebanese national Shiite resistance that was able to liberate Lebanon and defeat Israel. We observe strongly that the Shiite public came out from this war stronger and more united. But this does not mean that all the Shiites agree with the resistance on this. We are saying that there is a case of openness inside and abroad in the Islamic Shiite situation. We therefore do not impugn those with some observations about this or that situation. But everyone must know — the Shiites and others — that any homeland which is in a state of war with the enemy, then everyone should stand with the battle, especially if there is steadfastness, to those who like to talk about steadfastness, or victory. We do not prevent anyone from talking about the negative points or mistakes. No one is infallible. But we are saying that all the voices must be with the battle in the case of war.
(Asharq Al-Awsat) What about the relationship with the other communities?
(Fadlallah) The Shiite community remains open to the Islamic Sunni community, the Druze one, and the Christian communities in all their varieties. The Shiites do not represent an isolationist community but a national one open to Lebanon as a whole. There is no homeland for the Shiite except Lebanon. They do not replace Lebanon with any other country and do not accept any custodianship that confiscates their will, whether it is Arab or non-Arab. They reject the others who accuse them of acting on the basis of Syrian or Iranian custodianship. If the others are accusing them of being regionally subject to Syria and Iran, then why are they pained when the others accuse them of yielding to the United States and France?
(Asharq Al-Awsat) What is the truth about the Syrian and Iranian influence inside the Shiite community?
(Fadlallah) We do not believe there is an active political role. To say that the Shiites take their instructions from Syria is not correct. But we also know that there is not a country in the world that does not try to act through what it believes to be its interest in this or that domain. If Syria or Iran sees some benefit in some Lebanese situations, then what about the United States and France? Those are saying today that they do not want Lebanon to be a stage. But we know that Lebanon was born a stage and will remain a stage because of the sectarian system that has a gap here and a gap there from which the others enter and because Lebanon’s freedom gives a chance to anyone who wants to benefit from it. Lebanon’s problem is that it is the homeland of freedom in a region where there are no freedoms.
(Asharq Al-Awsat) Are you not apprehensive about Lebanon the “homeland” from Lebanon the “stage”?
(Fadlallah) Lebanon the homeland was made to be the stage since it represents the country with a sectarian system. We are therefore reading these days analyses about the Christian role, the Sunni, or the Shiite one. If Lebanon is the homeland for its citizens, then there is no meaning for the sectarian element. Lebanon represents a disunited states and not a unified state for its sons.
(Asharq Al-Awsat) You have labeled those demanding the disarmament of the resistance traitors. Following the deployment of the army and the international forces in the south, will there be scope for resistance action?
(Fadlallah) I did not want to call anyone traitor. But if the disarmament of a state that is in a war is raised, would this not be tantamount to treason? I thought with this logic because those were demanding the disarmament of the resistance, the only force in the country which can defend it, at least in these special conditions, while the Israel weapon destroying Lebanon remained. Is this patriotism and loyalty to Lebanon? When there are real guarantees that Israel will not commit aggression against Lebanon and the state reaches a level of strength by strengthening the Lebanese Army and to be a strong, capable, and fair state, then there will not be a need for the resistance weapon.