Unfortunately, the Israelis talked of their “enemy’s enemy” and “friend’s friend”. Isn’t the Israeli enemy the benchmark? Isn’t this rudimentary? This is part of our Islamic lexicon.
Of course there were objectives behind Israel’s attacks which it sought to realize. I want to define this reality so I can discuss the nature of the [Syrian] response and so that we can understand it.
One of its objectives, especially over the past two years— its objective and that of others— is to remove Syria from the military equation in the struggle with Zionist enemy. First of all, Syria hasn’t made a peace agreement with Israel as other Arab states have. Although there is a hudna (truce), everyone knows—the enemy knows this more than friends do—what Syria offered resistance movements for tens of years now and especially over the past few years, particularly the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance movements. If the day comes when our brothers in the Palestinian resistance will declare on their pulpits what they used to admit in private meetings, they will say that no Arab regime has offered us what the regime of Bashar al-Assad offered us.
The Israeli knows that one of the most important sources of strength for the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine is Syria. This is why they want to remove Syria from the [military] equation and they want to besiege the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine. What this siege means is that any material or moral or military support from whoever supports the resistance must end. The Israelis said they won’t allow the transfer of any weapons which could upset the balance of power with the resistance into Lebanon. Now they are saying they will prevent the resistance’s military capability from growing, meaning we won’t even allow you to increase the weapons you currently have. So they struck Damascus and its environs, in order to tell Syria—and we should read this part carefully so we understand the nature and scope of the Syrian response—that the continuation of support for the resistance and the transfer of capabilities will spell the demise of the regime and a declaration of war on Syria. Therefore, the real objective behind the latest attacks is the subjugation of Syria and breaking the will of its leadership, army and people and to permanently remove it from the resistance equation.
By the way, everything you heard in the media about 200, 300 and 400 [Syrian army] martyrs, is all lies. Unfortunately, we heard on [Arab] cable tv takbeer [cries of Allahu Akbar] and jubilation, because Israeli planes were bombing Syrian facilities or locations or bases. This is very sad. According to the reliable information I have, those killed were 4 or 5 martyrs from the Syrian army who were guarding these places.
So these were their objectives. How should one respond? First of all, one must thwart the aims of the aggression. This is the minimum response for resistance and mumana’a movements, and if possible, to turn the magic on the magician. And this is what the Syrian leadership did. There are some well-meaning people who want Syria to bomb occupied Palestine for reasons related to morale, and some hateful people who want it to bomb occupied Palestine so that war can break out between Israel and Syria and let all hell to break loose.
The first [Syrian] response: You Israelis are saying that the aim behind your aggression was to prevent the resistance’s military capability from growing, so the first response is that if you consider Syria to be a weapons’ conduit for the resistance then know that Syria will continue supplying the resistance with weapons. This is a huge strategic decision. More than this, if you are claiming that the aim behind your aggression was to prevent the resistance’s military capability from growing, then Syria will provide the resistance with game-changing weapons that it did not possess before. This means upsetting the balance of power.
Show me one Arab regime which would dare to openly supply the Palestinian resistance with so much as a rifle, let alone a game-changing rocket. And then we have a leadership which was bombed just two days ago which says I want to give them weapons they don’t even have. This is Syria’s strategic response, and it is much more significant than firing a rocket or launching an attack on occupied Palestine.
The second strategic response, which is no less important or dangerous, is to open the Golan front—opening the door to the popular resistance on the Golan front. In this war you have launched on Syria, the threat has been turned into an opportunity.
Let us set the third response aside for now. To go back to the first response, we the resistance in Lebanon announce that we are ready to receive any sophisticated weaponry even if it is game-changing and we are ready to protect this weaponry and use it to defend our people, country and sanctities.
As for the second response, just as Syria stood by the Lebanese people and supported its popular resistance materially and morally until this resistance was able to liberate South Lebanon, we in the Lebanese resistance declare that we will stand by the popular Syrian resistance and offer it our material and moral support, as well as cooperation and coordination, in order to liberate the Syrian Golan.
[Chuckling] The third response is a huge deal so we won’t discuss it now.
All the latest events and responses and positions taken by the Syrian leadership suggest that it is a leadership with nerves of steel, that it is a very wise leadership which is managing the battle with the Israelis with a strategic mind and not in an emotional or impassioned manner. This is how the resistance and mumana’a axis has foiled all schemes in the region since the 1990s.
Whoever wants to retrieve Jerusalem, whoever wants to achieve Palestinian rights and realize Palestinian aspirations, should know that this won’t be achieved in the Arab league or the UN or the Organization for Islamic Cooperation or anywhere else. The only choice has always been resistance and remains so.
Oh Palestinian and Arab people who reject Israeli hegemony, you will not find anyone to stand by your side except he who has stood by your side for tens of years. Protect those who stood by you, protect the sources of strength in your axis. Any serious effort to find a political solution in Syria which refuses to allow Syria to fall into the hands of the US, Israel and the takfiris is effectively the battle for Palestine, the battle for Quds, the battle for the Aqsa mosque.”
Over and above the sense of empowerment, security and much needed assurance people in our political camp derive from Seyyid Hassan’s speeches— especially at strategically critical times as these— another important reason so many of us eagerly await his speeches is a very personal/emotional one: when so many of our former political heroes have fallen from grace, so many intellectuals who once inspired us have opportunistically joined the mainstream, and too many people in our lives have disappointed and hurt us by becoming everything they promised they would never turn into, Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah—who is recognized even by his staunchest enemies as “a man of his word” , a man who “delivers on his promises”— somehow serves as a beacon of hope. His honesty, transparency and consistency helps us regain our childlike faith in humanity. When Seyyid Hassan speaks the world seems less absurd; we are reminded that there are some people we can still trust, people who will always remain principled, people who will continue to love and care for us, people who will never let us down. Seyyid Hassan doesn’t have a cult of personality, nor do we idolize him, we simply love him because he is real, because he is true.
Some highlights I translated from Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah’s speech today on the occasion of the annual commemoration for the Resistance’s leaders:
Whoever thinks that because Syria is embroiled in a bloody struggle and therefore it cannot be part of any confrontation that might occur with the Israeli enemy, Syria that was a support during the July War is now preoccupied with its internal struggle and therefore can’t support the resistance…..so this is an opportune moment that can be exploited to isolate the resistance. Some might miscalculate and believe that the resistance is weak and that this is the right time to commit a violation or an aggression or to launch a war, I tell him on the commemoration of Seyyid Abbas and Sheikh Raghib and Hajj Imad, you are greatly mistaken. Today, the resistance in Lebanon is fully equipped, we have everything we need inside of Lebanon, we don’t need to transfer anything either from Syria or from Iran. Everything we need for the next battle is already inside Lebanon…
In all calmness I warn the Israeli that the resistance in Lebanon will not tolerate any violations on Lebanese territory…They [the Israelis] have an electrical plant in northern Palestine, with just a few missiles we could plunge Israel into darkness. The Israeli themselves have admitted it would take 6 months to make this plant operational again…
[I swear] on Seyyid Abbas’s and Skehikh Raghib’s and Hajj Imad’s pure blood, that the sons and students and comrades of Seyyid Abbas and Sehikh Ragheb and Hajj Imad have greater resolve and determination today to confront any aggression and to keep the pledge and to keep the score [that must be settled] open [here Nasrallah is alluding to the “open war” concept he used in February 2008 after Mughineh’s assassination].
I tell the MP Saad al-Hariri, we sat with your father, the martyr, in the past and we discussed the resistance and its weapons and we told him that our priority is the resistance and all other matters were open to debate and political power wasn’t our priority. And he told me I support the resistance’s weapons not only until the prisoners are released and the Shebaa farms are liberated but until a comprehensive and just peace agreement is reached. I told him that is what we call a settlement not a comprehensive and just peace because for us that means the return of every inch of Palestine to the Palestinians… And he told me: if there is a comprehensive and just peace while I am still Prime Minister, and I come to you and tell you that the Arabs and Syria and Lebanon and Palestine have signed a peace agreement and there is no longer any need for the resistance, come and let us settle the weapons issue or you can hand them over or sell them, and you tell me no, then I will resign and leave Lebanon because I am not willing to fight the resistance. This was your father….
If there is a party which makes political concessions and relinquishes power, and remains quiet about daily insults for the sake of the resistance which protects the country, is that a shortcoming? If the purpose of our weapons was to preserve power then how can one accept the contradiction Saad Hariri makes when he says that we are making political concessions to protect our weapons?
It has become increasingly clear that the proxy war on Syria is not merely intended to unseat the Assad “regime” with the sole aim of weakening the Resistance axis. The ultimate goal of the US-NATO-GCC-Israeli axis is, as Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly warned, to destroy the only strong army in the region, besides Israel’s, and in so doing, to dismantle the Syrian state as was the case in Iraq and Libya.
This objective is all the more apparent when one considers how the Syrian Arab Forces’ rank and file is predominantly Sunni (see this BBC report here if you need mainstream media confirmation of this) and consists of all sects. As such, the Syrian army represents all Syrians, not merely Alawites. This objective is also evidenced by the fact that this army is not fighting merely to protect the Assad leadership as the opposition and its backers would have us believe, nor is it reducible to an armed militia of the regime’s.
Irrespective of whatever atrocities may or may not have been committed by individual soldiers, as an institution, the Syrian army is fighting both Syrian and foreign rebels who have collectively instituted a reign of terror in areas under their control, far more brutal and repressive than that practiced by the regime in the past. In confronting groups who harbor sinister and divisive ambitions, the army seeks to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity, national sovereignty and communal coexistence.
No army fights an internationally-waged war like this one, for two years straight, simply to preserve a regime. No army fights to the death with minimal defections [compared to other Arab countries] for anything less than a national cause, and that cause is Syria.
It is no coincidence then that Iran, Hizbullah and Russia, as well as nationalist opposition figures like Haytham Manaa and regime insiders like Farouk al-Sharaa, have called for the preservation of the Syrian Arab Forces. All those who want to see the army defeated and who reject the dialogue initiative proposed by Iran and others before it—an initiative which could very well result in the opposition winning the presidency and making significant gains in parliamentary elections— are effectively advocating the wholesale destruction of Syria as a state and not merely the overthrow of the Assad regime. The irony is that in such a non-state, they will achieve neither power nor victory, only division and bloodshed. Such is the nihilistic character of the Syrian opposition.
Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah’s charisma and widespread popular support have been a source of mystery and consternation for Israel and the West, whose officials and pundits often attribute his far-reaching influence to his oratory skills or his ability to deliver on his promises. While both qualities are integral to his—and by extension Hizbullah’s— popularity, the moral authority that he wields has as much, if not more, to do with the fact that he is not merely a religious or political leader, but the prototypical counter-hegemonic “organic intellectual” that Gramsci called for in his writings; a non-traditional intellectual and thinker who arises from the people and reflects the aspirations and needs of the people. Nasrallah’s relationship with the people is a dialectic one—he both guides them and is guided by them. What makes Nasrallah’s words so powerful is that he does not bring consciousness “from without” nor does he indoctrinate a politically passive people with the resistance culture, but he harnesses the people’s pre-existing sense of justice and channels it into action, effectively synthesizing theory with praxis. As a critical pedagogue, he raises the people’s level of critical awareness, enabling them to recognize injustice and to discern the most strategic means of confronting it.
Nasrallah represents not merely a new discourse or political line, or even a new political culture or identity, which pre-existed his advent to power as Hizbullah’s Secretary-General, but a new rationality with its own alternative understanding of reality, its own discourse and epistemology— hence my blog’s URL, “resistance-episteme”. And it is this Moqawama rationality that enables those who have it to intuitively KNOW where to stand on given political positions like Syria, and to KNOW, as opposed to merely believe, that Israel is doomed to collapse.
When we call Nasrallah our leader we do not mean it in the narrow sense of a following, but in the sense of an oppressed people who chose from among their ranks the person who best personifies their sacrifices; who best articulates their passions; who best communicates their position to the outside world; and who best guides them because his deep connection with the people has granted him the unique ability to be guided back by them. And that is why we call him the Leader of the Resistance.
Much is being said and written about Khaled Mishaal’s press conference yesterday in which he thanked Egypt, Qatar and Tunisia but failed to mention Iran, Syria or Hizbullah. Here is what he said: “I salute President Mursi’s decision to stand by us from the first moment and sending the Prime Minister Dr Hashim Qandil [to Gaza], and I salute the Tunisian Foreign Minister’s visit and salute once again the Qatari Emir for breaking the political siege on Gaza.” When cornered by a journalist who asked about Iran, Mishaal responded “Our dispute with Iran over the Syrian crisis is no secret, but we will not forget Iran’s support for us in the past.”
Mishaal’s failure to recall the Resistance Axis—Iran, Syria, Hizbullah—military and political support for Hamas and the Palestinian resistance, was not lost on Nasrallah who responded in a speech a few hours later:
The question here arises, despite the blockade imposed by some Arabs, how did the weapons reach Gaza, how did Fajr 5s reach Gaza? And how did Grad rockets reach Gaza? And how did anti-tank missiles reach Gaza, Kornet and other types? And how did anti-aircraft missiles reach Gaza? And WHO sent it? And who transported it? This is the big question that needs to be asked today, before we discuss which states are bringing us medicines and giving us a few cents. We need to ask who enabled Gaza to stand on its feet today , to fight and make surprises and to shell Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and to fire at planes and battleships…The Arabs have acknowledged they besieged Gaza.
We must ask anew about the role of the Islamic Republic in Iran and the role of Syria. And I tell everyone [quotes from Quran here in my rough translation], “he who doesn’t thank the creature, doesn’t thank the creator; and gratitude perpetuates blessings, and if you are thankful we will increase them [the blessings].” However, God says in the Quran that few worshipers thank him.
Iran and Syria and Hizbullah will not abandon Gaza and its people, and just as we were with them over the past several years we will continue to stand by them, even if we disagree on some political positions here and there. We are fulfilling our religious , national and humanitarian duty when we stand with them. The main battle is this battle which requires everyone to stand with them [Gaza].”
The response was clearly critical and even somewhat dismissive of Mishaal’s rhetoric (the allusion to Qatar’s money). But although it was a stinging riposte, it was also a reassuring one: that despite Mishaal’s ingratitude and Hamas’ position on Syria, Hizbullah and Iran would continue to support it as a matter of principle and ideology. Supporting Palestine is the foremost duty for both actors . In fact, were Iran or Hizbullah to discontinue support for a Palestinian resistance which is actively resisting, both actors would be undermining their ontological security; that is the security of their political identities as particular kinds of actors. In short, they would be undermining their own raison d’étre.
Nasrallah’s remonstrations should therefore not be construed as a demand for some kind fealty owed to Iran or Syria, which would effectively reduce such support to pure self-interest rather than ideological or political obligation, but rather, to two central concerns : First, is the fact that Hamas didn’t merely fail to thank its Resistance Axis allies, but that it thanked Egypt, Qatar and other “moderate” Arabs on more than one occasion, and omitted any reference to Iran, Syria and Hizbullah (actually Nasrallah doesn’t mention Hizbullah, only Iran and Syria). Had it not thanked anyone this omission would surely not have been such an issue.
Second, is the fact that this selective gratitude—and a misplaced one at that given Egypt’s token gestures of support for Gaza and the continuation of its blockade, as well as Qatar’s purely monetary support—isn’t occurring in a political void but in the midst of an unprecedented level of anti-Shi’ite sentiment in the region and in the context of a highly sectarian climate. In paying homage to his Sunni Ikhwan brethren in Egypt who have done little more than pay lip service to Palestine while closing more tunnels than Mubarak—and excluding the support of Shiites actors who have never had any problem arming Sunni resistance groups, Mishaal was unwittingly reinforcing sectarian tensions in the region. As has become patently obvious to all, sectarianism has become the new Israel and sectarian sentiment only serves to distract from the struggle against Israel and normalizes it in the region.
But none of this is to say that Hizbullah’s or Iran’s military support for Hamas and other resistance groups will be effected by either of these grievances. Ismail Haniyyeh’s interview on Al-Jazeera Arabic earlier this year is very telling in this respect. Despite the clumsily written title of the video, and the AJ interviewer’s biased and heavily loaded questions, Haniyyeh’s rather reserved answers actually demonstrate the unequivocal and consistent nature of Iranian support for Hamas, despite the latter’s abandonment of its Syrian sponsors. I have transcribed excerpts from the interview below:
Q. Many reports claim that Iran changed the nature of its support for Hamas because its asked Hamas for a clear stance on Syria
A. Our relationship with Iran is a good one, Iran stood by our side and supported our people and our resistance
Q: was this only in the past but not at present or in future?
A: No this remains the case, in one form or another, it continues
Hamas was always careful that whoever supports the Palestinian people should not ask for anything in return in terms of political positions or political blackmail
Q: So you were subjected to blackmail [by Iran].
A: No I am describing reality. The reality is that Hamas’ relationship with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt and Jordan is a balanced relationship based on the [principle that] support for the Palestinian people is a duty and that Hamas can’t be in anyone pocket in exchange for this support….
Q: So you have no intention of making any concessions in return for the continuation of support?
A: WE HAVE NOT BEEN ASKED TO MAKE ANY FUTURE CONCESSIONS
“The future of our region is for the steadfast heroes, not the sheep [with indirect reference to the Qatari PM’s description of Arabs as helpless sheep vis-a-vis Israel]. In Palestine, Lebanon and many countries in the Arab nation, there are lions and heroes. Whoever sees himself as a sheep is only referring to himself, he has no right to claim that most Arabs have become sheep.
“What is required from the Arab countries is to help and arm Gaza, rather than working as mediators between the [Palestinians] and the Israeli enemy. We should ask who enabled Gaza to stand on its feet and to fight and to bomb tel Aviv and Jerusalem..we should revisit the Iranian and Syrian role in this matter. Today the Arabs are admitting they besieged Gaza; the real Arabism and real Islam is for Arab countries to send weapons to Gaza. Iran and Syria and Hizbullah will not abandon Gaza and its people, and just as we were with them over the past several years we will continue to stand by them, even if we disagree on some political positions here and there. we are fulfilling our religious , national and humanitarian duty when we stand with them. The main battle is this battle which requires everyone to stand with them [Gaza]. “The Arabs are sending truck loads of weapons to the Syrian opposition, but they do not even dare to send one bullet to Gaza for fear of the Americans.”
I have translated below some excerpts of a longer speech Nasrallah made this evening on the occasion of Ashura. In these excerpts, Nasrallah underscores the strategic achievements made so far by the Palestinian resistance.
”It is not premature to speak of a victory in Gaza.
If the Palestinian resistance was weak-willed, or its people were disappointed in it and it displayed weakness by calling for a cease fire, then nobody in the world could have halted the aggression; it would only have helped Israel achieve its aims.
The Zionists were deluded into believing they could destroy the resistance’s rocket capability.
The Israelis thought that after just couple of days of shelling the resistance would be screaming for a cease-fire at any price.
The resistance is now imposing its conditions [referring to the statement issued by Meshaal after his participation in the meeting with Turkey Qatar and Egypt in Cairo] and one of its conditions is a complete lifting of Israel’s siege on Gaza and ending assassinations and aggression. And the resistance is not in such a state whereby it must pursue a cease-fire, because a cease-fire doesn’t serve its interests and these are rightful demands on its part.
Talk has begun about fears of a reversal of the scene, and talk has begun about the financial and economic implications for Israel if it were to go all the way.
Even talk of a ground invasion is more like intimidation and pressure at this point…The Israelis will be committing an act of sheer folly if they launch a ground invasion in Gaza.
The information [we have] is that Israel is urging states to help it secure a cease-fire
The resistance in Gaza has the capability and the will and the required planning, plans they have developed, and gaps that have been filled.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference has not issued a position.
Many other ministers [at Arab league meeting] gave speeches that were mainly self-flagellating, without taking a position. Until now, not even the minimum has been done. What’s required of the Arab states is a position which pressures Israel to end its aggression and which responds to the Palestinian resistance’s rightful conditions
We did not hear any threats to cut relations [with Israel] or cancelling or suspending agreements or using oil as a weapon or raising the price of oil or reducing oil production to put pressure on the US.
We are concerned that some Arab states will pressure the resistance to relinquish its just conditions.”
Nasrallah explains why Israel has chosen to attack now (aside from the upcoming Israeli elections which he also discussed): “Israel is taking advantage of the turmoil in Syria in its onslaught against Gaza. Today’s aggression is happening in a different context from 2008. In 2008, the Resistance Axis was more capable of extending support to Gaza and the resistance there and this was the case before 2008 and after 2008 and we can see the results of this on the ground today. One of the supply lines to Gaza has now been cut and that is Syria. It can no longer provide logistical support, although it can still take a political stand.
Israel is taking advantage of the fighting in Syria, of the reversal of priorities, of the transformation of enemies into friends and friends into enemies. It sees this as a good opportunity to restore its deterrence and to strike at missile capabilities in Gaza, which Israel is aware, will be hard to replace in light of the situation in Syria.” Indeed, as Nasrallah affirms, our struggle against the Empire and its colonial outpost, Israel, is one. The resistance project is a joint one and the fate of Palestine will determine the fate of the entire region.
Breaking news. Well, exciting news at least: My sources tell me Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah is going to make an important speech tomorrow night at 20:30 Beirut time, in which he will discuss the drone that flew 400 km into occupied Palestine [aka Israel] last Saturday—deeper into the Zionist entity than ever before. Israel had been speculating whether it was an Iranian or Hizbullah drone, and, in the event of the latter, if it was produced by Iran for Hizbullah. Nasrallah will obviously clarify all these details tomorrow and most likely engage in some serious psychological warfare that will terrify the enemy. The Zionists can deploy all the Iron Dome and Patriot defense systems they want. Hizbullah can enter occupied Palestine whenever it wants.