A: In principle and apart from the donating side, we back any unconditional support presented to the Lebanese Army. We always used to call on states and governments to offer aid so that the army acquires such aid.
At one stage, we also sought our friends to achieve this goal. Even after Syria withdrew from Lebanon, Syria offered aid to the Lebanese Army. The Islamic Republic in Iran always used to announce its willingness to do that; however, the problem here was in the Lebanese political decision. Some would refuse; others would show reservations- I understand the reason behind such reservations; the reason is fear from the Americans and some Arab states.
Anyway, in principle, we support and back any aid to the Lebanese Army and any contribution to strengthen the Lebanese Army. So, I won’t say we don’t have any reservations as this is an inappropriate word.
This is on one hand. On the other hand, this aid came from Saudi Arabia via the French. We will not comment on this via the media because we don’t know all the details: Are there conditions or not? What are the considerations of this step or this initiative?
I do not want to mention the existence of conditions as there might not be any conditions. I rather say: We do not have enough information to judge accordingly. Still, we overcame this issue. For example, the ministerial statement mentioned this donation. We did not object. The future and the results of this donation will appear with time.
Some might hail the results before they take place. Some might show doubts. I don’t want to hail nor to show doubts. I only say that we have to wait for the results of this step. Later, the kind of these weapons, capabilities, and equipment which will be offered to the Lebanese Army will be revealed. Then, we can judge the nature of this step. However, I will stress again on the principle: With the exception of “Israel,” any state can indeed offer aid to strengthen the Lebanese Army as that would be a good step.
Q: Is there any fear of any harm befalling the doctrine of the army?
A: We are not worried at all. Some things were said in some media outlets or behind the scenes which are valueless in our viewpoint. It’s because the case of the Lebanese Army is not that those who own its arms and ammunition rule; yet rather, it’s the national doctrine and the political decision that rule it.
The national doctrine of this institution is crystal clear, and it has proved that through its performance, conduct, and the sacrifices it offered all throughout the past years. The political decision, especially in the framework of the current cabinet or any cabinet that would be formed in the future based on harmony or on the participation of the various forces, guarantees that no security or military institution be exploited by any side. This is an opportunity, too, to laud the efforts and sacrifices of the Lebanese Army and the wisdom and bravery with which this institution deals with the current events.
Q: What about the performance of the resistance and its relation with the army in the region of southern Litany?
A: In the region of southern Litany, there is absolute Lebanese commitment, whether on the official level or at the level of the resistance, to the recommendation of UN Resolution 1701. The resistance has no armed appearances in southern Litany. It is committed to this, and it is convinced in it, too. The ties with the Lebanese Army are excellent in that area. There is no problem at all.
Q: What about the ties with the UNIFIL?
A: The ties with the UNIFIL are good. At times, there are some problems between some residents of the villages and the UNIFIL, and that is addressed whether through direct contact between the UNIFIL, the mayors and the sides present on the ground, or through the Lebanese Army because the army guarantees addressing these incidents. At times, these problems are not caused by political reasons or come as a result of a political stance from the UNIFIL or a popular stance.
At times, it comes as a result of the conduct of some individuals. For example, they might enter to some inner neighborhoods or take shots of some houses or centers. People react to that in a definite way. At other times, they might not observe the customs and traditions of these villages; however, later, things would be addressed. At times, the UNIFIL leadership or officer might apologize for the mistakes made. However, in general, the relations are good and natural with the UNIFIL, and I don’t think that they might have a negative impact on the situation in southern Litany.
Q: MP Walid Jumblat complained in the latest dialogue session that thousands of soldiers were withdrawn from the region of southern Litany to be deployed in other areas where the army needs them. Is there any fear on this level?
A: There is no fear at all. If there is an urgent need for the army in other areas, there won’t be a problem in the South. Now, the reality of the fact in the South and not only in the region of southern Litany- and as a result of the state of political calmness, political communication, general harmony, and the remoteness of the South from many of the contradictions and sensitivities on one hand, and the existence of the resistance and the balance of fear that exists in the region on another hand- might make up for that. What is important is that the army remains in the South. As for the number, it might not be crucial at this stage because the elements of calmness are abundant.
Q: Might recruitment in the army be a solution for this problem?
A: We are with what enables the army to execute all the missions it is responsible for and which are added on its shoulders too, in fact. Because it is an institution which has the highest level of support, it therefore assures the Lebanese citizens.
We back such measures, whether they are limited to transferring brigades, squads or soldiers from one region to another, or through recruiting. It seems that this is a national need, to guarantee the required number of recruits to the Lebanese Army, so that it would be able to perform its missions in the South, the North, Bekaa, as well as in the other Lebanese areas without its presence in one area influencing its presence in another.
Sayyed Nasrallah: Syrian Emigrants’ Issue Serious
Q: The Syrian emigrants pose a worrying element to Hizbullah. It has never been announced that Hizbullah has a clear approach to this issue.
A: The Syrian emigrants to Lebanon pose a national problem; it is not a problem to a definite side such as Hizbullah or other parties. This issue must be discussed on the national level. In the former governments, some discussions were carried out to this effect. Today, this issue has become among the great challenges faced by the current cabinet. Now, we will see to what extent the discussions in the current cabinet will be logical and objective. However, under the former cabinet in which the March 14 Bloc did not participate, I do not deny that the issue became a subject for bids as a result of discrepancies in political stance.
This is a very important file. There are very dangerous indications, even on the financial, economic, and social levels as well as the security level. Perhaps the security issue is the least dangerous as compared to the social, financial, and economic issues. The security issue may be controlled one way or another through the army and the security forces, and through the uncovering of any political forces of any violations. As such, the security repercussions might be addressed. However, the other repercussions are crucial and serious.
During the discussions that used to take place from time to time, some pushed towards constructing camps. Essential forces in Lebanon had reservations on the construction of camps although, now, there are actual but unofficial camps. Opening the gate before official and legal camps may lead to several risks, including the transfer of these camps to military bases for the Syrian Opposition as what happened in other countries such as Turkey, Jordan, and other places. That would pose a serious threat to the security situation. There is a Lebanese division on the stance on the Opposition.
Among the other risks is the transfer of these camps to permanent camps. What evoke these concerns are the statements we heard lately. Some embassies and sides are even talking about the ability or the supposition of nationalizing the Syrians in the countries they immigrated to. Can Lebanon tolerate that? Those who are suggesting such ideas think as such. So, that is believable because their mentality and the way they deal with many files in the region confirm that.
In our viewpoint, the main problem after all is that from a logistic perspective – meaning in the sense of providing lodging – Lebanon may temporarily tolerate the emigrants.
Many of these emigrants are now living in houses, which either they rented or were rented for them. Others are living in camps. The main problem was and still is in financing – meaning, providing Lebanon with the financial aids that enable it to provide an acceptable lodging for the Syrian emigrants in the various Lebanese regions, and to provide them with the necessary needs until other alternatives- which we might talk about in a while- are made available.
So, the presence of Syrian emigrants in the various Lebanese regions and providing them with lodgings – whether they rented houses or houses were rented for them – are taking place. That is taking place now in the North. I know that in Bekaa, there are many houses which are now resided in by Syrian emigrants. In the South, too, many lodgings were provided. The main problem is in financing. The idea of camps is always controversial, and it also has risks which we cannot overlook. We must not simplify this issue.
Now, there are several alternative choices, and this needs the cooperation of the Lebanese cabinet and the Syrian cabinet. I believe that the Syrian cabinet has shown its willingness to help in this perspective on more than one occasion. Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim, had informed several political leaderships of that. Now, there are several areas in Syria which are secure. In many areas, there are reconciliations, and in these reconciliations, the cases of fighters who had fought in the past three years are being settled. These fighters, whose cases were settled whether in the outskirts of Damascus, the city of Homs, the Province of Homs, Aleppo or in other areas, are now with their families in these towns and areas.
We may suppose that the conditions of the families of the emigrants are less serious than these fighters whose cases were settled. Consequently, taking the outskirts of Damascus as an example, we find that the cases of complete cities were settled as well as in Homs. So, it is very possible that through joint Lebanese-Syrian efforts and official cooperation between the two countries, that the cases of many of the emigrant families in Lebanon can be settled. Guarantees or the required assuring elements may be offered, and thus, they may return to their villages, towns, and cities.
If their houses were ruined or destroyed due to the war, camps may be constructed for them inside the Syrian territories. This is a logical and acceptable solution. My evidence is that some political forces would say: They are afraid to return. However, is their situation worse that the fighters who fought in the past years, and whose cases were settled in reconciliations in this or that city? This is the logical solution.
Sayyed Nasrallah: For Imposing the Reverence of State
Q: Does the spread of the phenomenon of arbitrary arms in every Lebanese village and city as is the case today, serve the idea of the resistance and its arms or not?
A: The problem of arms that are spread in Lebanese villages and towns is an old problem. It existed even before Hizbullah and the resistance (the Islamic Resistance, in particular) existed. It even existed before the Palestinian resistance came to Lebanon because some try to blame the Palestinian resistance for the phenomenon of the spread of arms.
Arms existed in villages, towns and cities since tens of years ago and for a long time. Controlling these arms is very important as it serves the idea of the resistance, and the social security as well as the national security, and as it limits the losses of the Lebanese on all levels.
I believe that the way to achieve this is, indeed, not through disarming the Lebanese because this is an unrealistic aim. Even in one of the national dialogue sessions, this question was posed to the political forces who always talk about arms and raise their voice against them: Whose supporters do not own arms in their houses? The answer is clear.
So, the treatment of this matter is not in disarming the Lebanese from the arms in houses; the solution is to impose the reverence of the state. When the state is revered and the army and security forces have a forceful presence, and when any security disorder is addressed, and the wanted and violators are arrested as well as the thieves, robbers, and aggressors, these arms would then be under control, for sure.
However, if all of these violations were covered and the state did not assume its responsibilities, then these arms would pose a threat. Yet, if the state assumed its responsibilities, I don’t believe that these arms would pose any threat or big problem. What is important is that the state assumes its responsibilities. The security plans that are executed now, the decisions of the cabinet, and the various political forces’ covering of these plans are important steps in this domain.
Q: Does accusing Hizbullah with crippling, or with having interest in vacuum and crippling institutions serve the resistance?
A: That harms the resistance. The resistance is a defense power to Lebanon as well as a protection power and a liberation power. Consequently, when there is a state, a cabinet, and institutions in Lebanon that observe all the affairs of the nation and the Lebanese on the political, legal, judicial, security, social, economic, financial, and living levels, that would be a great service to the resistance.
In its general idea, the resistance is not only a military force. For the resistance to carry on in performing its missions, it needs a strong society. Unemployment, poverty, internal struggles, internal contests, sporadic clashes in this street or in that neighborhood, and internal enmities influence the project of the resistance.
Q: Your Eminence! In 2006, you said something along the lines of an unjust state being easier than having no state at all.
A: I assert what I said in 2006. We are serious in seeking to build the state, strengthen the state, and in the state assuming all of its responsibilities. We are not a substitute for the state in any matter. Even on the resistance level, I reiterate what I said on September 22nd, 2006 in the ceremony of Divine Victory in Dahiyeh: When our state becomes capable and strong and has the possibility to defend Lebanon, we, in the resistance, will go back to our schools, universities, religious institutions and fields. This is the future defense strategy. There is no other solution, and we support this.
On the contrary, all the accusations are groundless. It is known in Lebanon that we are the side that offers the greatest number of concessions for the interest of finding agreements and settlements, and forming cabinets and the like; and we are still as such.
Q: Is it true that the current state suits you more than a strong capable non-sectarian state?
A: I care most for a strong, capable and fair state- with ‘fair’ meaning that it deals equally with all citizens apart from there sectarian and regional affiliations. As for a non-sectarian state, a sectarian state, a citizenship state or a human state, many such major discussions took place.
At one stage, we supported the cancellation of political sectarianism; we called for establishing a non-sectarian regime. However, later on and through openness, the dialogues, and the discussions, we found that such an issue causes concern to a vast section of the Lebanese people, especially to most of the Christians- I am not saying to all of the Christians. Some Christians want the cancelling of political sectarianism apart from the risks that they evoke.
However, through a follow-up, we found that in fact, most of the Christians do not agree on this issue and have fears and concerns. Thus, we say that we must take these fears into consideration; therefore, no one must rush to take any hasty steps in this direction. So, if we didn’t want to talk theories, but rather wanted to deal with the status quo in the country, the facts do not indicate such a possibility, neither in the near future nor in the middle scope. Thus, the priority now is the rebuilding of the state and the institutions, and the assembly and the agreement of the Lebanese- even if it is on the grounds of a sectarian system- until we reach a stage in which there is security and stability in Lebanon… until we reach the minimum of addressing the current files in Lebanon; the minimum of having the Lebanese open up to each other; and the minimum of addressing the current fears. Thereof, I can head to in-depth solutions.
Two years ago, I talked about a constituent conference. Up until now, and though we later pulled out of the idea, there are still people who respond to it. Last week, someone took the platform to discuss the constituent conference. This expresses the depth of the fears and concerns that some Lebanese classes nurture.