Nasrallah: Trump has started a new type of war in the region

“The enemy's highest punishment against us is to kill us, but our highest desire is to be martyrs – so we cannot be defeated,” the Hezbollah leader said.

Nasrallah and Trump (photo credit: REUTERS)
Nasrallah and Trump
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah warned Sunday that the assassination of IRGC-Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani marked a new era in the Middle East, and that the response will be “just punishment” for the crime.
“The date of Soleimani's assassination is a turning point in the history of the region, not just for Iran or Iraq,” Nasrallah said, adding that his assassination marked “the start of a new US war in the region.”
Calling Soleimani “the glue that held the Resistance Axis together,” Nasrallah said that “our confrontation has already begun, from the night of the assassination.”
Nasrallah made the comments at a memorial service, which took place in the southern suburbs of Beirut and was attended by several thousand people mourning the death of Solemani and deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
The responsibility for Solemani’s assassination “is obvious,” Nasrallah said, pointing to US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who will “see the response of the Iranian people” to the attack.
“In terms of response, we have to consider just punishment. In terms of this crime, the one who committed it is known, and must be punished,” he warned. “There is a responsibility on the shoulders of the axis of resistance to retaliate,” he continued, adding that if Soleimani's assassination goes unpunished, the region “will be violated by the Americans and Israelis.”
And while Nasrallah said that US military bases, ships and soldiers in the Middle East are fair targets, he warned against harming US civilians as it would serve Trump’s policies.
“The US military is the one who killed Soleimani and Muhandis, and they will pay the price. This is the equation,” Nasrallah said, adding that just punishment would mean targeting someone on the same level as Soleimani, like the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, or the head of CENTCOM Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie.
 “I want to be very clear: We do not mean American citizens or nationals. There are many Americans in our region. We don't mean to attack them, and it is wrong to harm them.”
The Americans took out Soleimani “so brazenly and openly,” so that his death would have a psychological impact on his supporters and members of the Iranian proxy groups, Nasrallah claimed, adding that the targeted assassination was also carried out because of the failures of previous attempts against the Iranian commander including the October attempt in Kerman, capital of Iran's largest province.
Nasrallah said that in addition to the failed attempts on Soleimani’s life, the upcoming American elections and the failure of Trump’s foreign policy also pushed the president to order the strike.
“Looking back at his three years, he had nothing but failure to show to the American people,” Nasrallah said.
And while Trump’s main focus was on bringing down the regime in Iran, he also failed in Syria – “which culminated in his betrayal of his allies” – as well as in Lebanon, Yemen and Afghanistan. When he also failed in Iraq, “Americans then unleashed their terrorist organizations throughout Iraq. US commanders stood behind suicide bombers that targeted Iraqis of all religious stripes.”
According to him, Soleimani’s death concerns not only Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan but every country.
“But this wasn't war with Iran. Trump knows war with Iran would be difficult and dangerous. So, what could they do that wouldn't lead to war with Iran? They settled on killing Qassem Soleimani, a central figure in the Resistance Axis.”
During his speech on Sunday, he said that Soleimani visited him in Beirut on New Years and Muhandis came two months earlier. During Soleimani’s visit, Nasrallah said that he warned him that “something was afoot” and that while Israel considered him to be the most dangerous individual to the state’s existence, “it didn’t dare” to kill him.
“Israel could have killed him in Syria, because he moved about openly, but it didn't dare to kill him. Israel resorted to the Americans.”
But according to Nasrallah, he is happy that Soleimani was killed because he “got what he sought on that night: martyrdom.”
 “This was his wish since he was a young man, when he first fought on the front lines in Iran,” he said, adding that the desire of  Soleimani and Muhandis to “attain martyrdom only increased with their age.”
With their deaths, Iranian proxy groups' resistance “must coordinate and become closer, to strengthen itself and capabilities, because the region is heading toward a new phase.”
But, Nasrallah said, “desire for martyrdom flips the balance of power between us and the enemy. The enemy's highest punishment against us is to kill us, but our highest desire is to be martyrs – so we cannot be defeated.
"When we are victorious, we are victorious; when we are martyred, we also triumph,” he said.