Syria opposition group open to ties with Hezbollah

Council head Ghalioun says "if Hezbollah decided to support democratic process in Syria, there wouldn't be barrier" to talks.

By OREN KESSLER
February 29, 2012 18:28
2 minute read.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah

Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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The opposition Syrian National Council is willing to work with Hezbollah, the council’s leader said on Wednesday, provided the extremist group does not interfere with democratic change in Syria.

“There are no permanent enmities in politics [just] as there are no permanent friendships. Alliances are built on goals,” Burhan Ghalioun told the Algerian newspaper Echorouk.

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“If Hezbollah decided to support the democratic process in Syria, there would not be any barrier” to negotiations, he said. “We will not sacrifice Hezbollah if Hezbollah does not sacrifice us as a people and as a cause.”

“Hezbollah’s greatest popularity in the past in the Arab world was in Syria because it did a glorious job when it stood against Israel,” Ghalioun added.

“But the people are now having doubts about it because it has adopted a clear stance, supporting an oppressive regime that is using all kinds of violence.”

Hezbollah is closely allied with Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose regime stands accused of killing at least 6,000 of its own citizens over the course of the uprising that began last year. The Lebanon-based group is a close ally of Iran, and widely viewed as an arm of the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards. Syrian witnesses and activists have accused both Hezbollah and Iran of sending forces to participate in Assad’s crackdown.

Ghalioun’s latest remarks stand in contrast to comments he made in December that a post-Assad Syria would cut ties with the Iranian axis, including Hezbollah.

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“The current relationship between Syria and Iran is abnormal,” Ghalioun told The Wall Street Journal at the time.

“As our relations with Iran change, so too will our relationship with Hezbollah.

Hezbollah after the fall of the Syrian regime will not be the same. Lebanon should not be used as it was used in the Assad era as an arena to settle political scores.”

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The new comments also contradict remarks made by council member Muhieddine Ladkani, who on Tuesday accused Hezbollah of preventing aid from reaching the Syrian people.

“Hezbollah members are present on the Syrian- Lebanese border to prevent the [transfer] of aid to the Syrians,” Ladkani told Al Jazeera television.

Writing last week for the website Salon, Middle East analyst Amira Galal noted that Hezbollah is finding itself increasingly irrelevant, and may opt to launch a war against Israel in a bid to regain the spotlight.

“It is possible that Hezbollah may look to find solutions to its waning popularity... by preemptively launching a strike against Israel,” Galal wrote.

Two weeks ago, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech, warning, “We have arms and they are increasing [in number]. We have well-known weapons and there are others that are hidden and unknown. We are hiding them because we need to protect our country and prepare surprises for the Israelis.”

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