Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged for the first time this week that
his movement receives financial and material support from Iran, but denied it
takes operating instructions from the Islamic Republic.
Hezbollah previously only confirmed Iranian political and moral backing because
it did not want “to embarrass our brothers in Iran,” but had changed policy
because Iran’s leadership had announced its support in public.
received moral and political and material support in all possible forms from the
Islamic Republic of Iran since 1982,” Nasrallah told supporters by video-link
Tuesday, in a speech marking the anniversary of the birth of Islam’s prophet
“In the past we used to tell half the story and stay silent on
the other half... When they asked us about the material and financial and
military support, we were silent,” he said.
Nasrallah said Iran had not
issued orders to Hezbollah since the movement was founded 30 years ago, adding
that if Israel attacked Iran’s nuclear sites, the leadership in Iran “would not
ask anything of Hezbollah.” He said if that were to happen, Hezbollah’s own
leadership would “sit down, think and decide what to do.”
grown that Israel might be planning to attack Iranian nuclear facilities after
strong public comments by Israeli leaders about Iran’s atomic ambitions. Many
analysts believe that in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran, Hezbollah –
which fought a punishing 34-day war with Israel in 2006 – would attack the
James H. Anderson, an expert at the George C. Marshall
European Center for Security Studies, said that in the event of an Israeli
strike on Iran, Hezbollah would almost certainly launch a rocket barrage at its
“The question would be to what extent – would
Hezbollah fire its full load of rockets, or perhaps something less,” he told The
by phone from Germany. “Hezbollah has not only rearmed from the
2006 war, but actually increased the amount of rockets at its disposal – I’ve
seen estimates of up to 50,000 rockets of varying potential.
convinced Hezbollah would necessarily unleash everything it has, and Israel has
also made considerable improvements in missile defense,” added Anderson, a
former director of Middle East policy in the office of the US secretary of
Nasrallah’s statements will not surprise world powers, including
the United States, which lists the group as a terrorist organization, and says
it has military support from both Iran and Syria.
Washington’s charges that his movement was involved in money-laundering or
drug-smuggling, saying Iran’s support meant the movement was not in need of
Federal prosecutors in the US said in December three Lebanese
financial institutions linked to Hezbollah laundered more than $240 million
through the US used-car market.
US Drug Enforcement Administration
officials have also said Hezbollah has become involved in the drug trade,
facilitating distribution and sale of cocaine in West Africa.
said Hezbollah was not involved in money-laundering, nor in drug smuggling,
which was religiously forbidden. “No drugs, no money-laundering and no
trade at all,” he said of Hezbollah activities.
Hezbollah was set up 30
years ago by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to fight Israeli forces that had
invaded Lebanon to root out the Palestine Liberation Organization.
week Nasrallah also defended his support for close ally Syrian President Bashar
Assad, who is trying to crush an 11-month uprising against his
Nasrallah, who has praised the uprisings in other Arab countries,
which toppled three entrenched leaders last year, said Assad still enjoyed
support from the army and a large section of the population, and criticized
Syria’s opposition for rejecting Assad’s promised reforms and offers of
“They say we don’t want dialogue and we don’t want reform
[because] it’s too late,” he said. “It’s too late when there is fighting in
Syria and there are people pushing it to civil war? They are betting on the
West, on America, on money and weapons to overthrow the regime, but this is a