Nasrallah slams Israel’s annexation, threatens US ambassador to Lebanon
‘Americans, you must understand, your policy won’t weaken Hezbollah,’ terrorist organization leader says
By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah slammed Israel’s annexation plan on Tuesday evening, claiming it is the most dangerous thing in the entire Middle East. He called for support for the Palestinians and mocked the US, claiming Hezbollah has been becoming stronger during the administration of US President Donald Trump.Nasrallah pointed to success stories such as Venezuela, Cuba, Syria and North Korea as models for countries that resist the US attempt to “starve” people. America has used sanctions to try to isolate the Syrian regime, destroying Syria’s economy. The US has also gone after Venezuela and Iran, using various sanctions and methods. Hezbollah’s leader, who has spent most of the last decade and a half in a bunker since he launched a war on Israel in 2006, said the US was alienating allies.In Lebanon, pressure has recently been put on the US and its embassy. A judge attempted to stop the American ambassador from being interviewed, and a US helicopter helped airlift Amer Fakhoury to safety after he was detained in Lebanon in March.“Americans, you must understand, your policy won’t weaken Hezbollah, it will strengthen it,” Nasrallah said. His speech was translated in tweets by David Daoud, an expert, who live-tweeted it.Hezbollah provided its usual list of conspiracies to describe the region. Nasrallah claimed the US was using Israel and “takfiris,” a reference to ISIS, against the “resistance” that Hezbollah offers. “The US commanded the 2006 Israeli war.” In fact, Nasrallah is the one who started that war.He targeted US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea in his speech, telling her not to go on Lebanese TV. He called on the Lebanese people to “arise and defend themselves against her behavior.” This appears to be a clear threat against the US Embassy. In the 1980s, Iranian-backed groups bombed the embassy as well as Marine barracks.Hezbollah appears to be pushing for a crisis with the US by targeting the ambassador. Nasrallah has accused her of “inciting Lebanese parties.” He claimed the US has interfered in Lebanon, seeking to have certain appointments at the central bank. He called the US a “colonialist” country. “We saw ambassador Shea come to Lebanon, we welcomed her, but she has instead not adhered to diplomatic customs and is acting like a governor,” he said.Nasrallah also delved into economics. He suggested that Lebanon’s economy is based on elites and luxury goods, tourism and bourgeoisie mentalities. He suggested the people must get back to the land and plant, and turn the country to agriculture. He painted a picture of an agricultural, pastoral Lebanon. He argued this would make the country self-sufficient and not force surrender to the US or others. Nasrallah also suggested that Lebanon buy fuel from Iran, which supports Hezbollah. He also praised Iraq, saying Lebanon could reach out to Iraq, which is an ally of Iran.Lastly, Nasrallah also highlighted the importance of China, saying that the US was angry at its effectiveness. He argued in favor of Chinese companies investing in Lebanon. It is time to initiate greater links with Beijing. “We mustn’t fear America’s reactions” – the time to turn to the East has come. “We are not trying to impose the Iranian model or make Lebanon communist. All we mean by turning eastward,” he said, is to accept offers from whoever will help.This was an important speech that sketches out a desire to remove the US from Lebanon, reducing the ambassador’s role and connecting more with China. It is part of a larger shift in the Middle East away from the US, as American influence appears to be declining in the region.