Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech on Saturday in which he responded to the Lebanese government negotiating a maritime demarcation line with Israel.
He refrained from making threats toward Israel in his speech, a departure from previous addresses the Hezbollah leader has made. This means that Hezbollah appears to be toning down the rhetoric. Hezbollah’s allies in Iran are currently facing an unprecedented wave of protest.
Nasrallah said that the “maritime border demarcation file has reached a decisive stage in light of the mediator’s letter.” He said that "Hezbollah supports the Lebanese state regarding the talks with the US mediator….Maritime victory is the fruit of the national solidarity and will help Lebanon cope with an economic crisis.”
"Hezbollah supports the Lebanese state regarding the talks with the US mediator….Maritime victory is the fruit of the national solidarity and will help Lebanon cope with an economic crisis.”Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah
The US mediator to Lebanon on Saturday sent a maritime border demarcation proposal to President Michel Aoun and the caretaker government. The US has been trying to help with a maritime demarcation deal for more than a year.
Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser for energy security at the US State Department has been working on this issue and has made trips to Lebanon and met with Lebanese officials.
However, Hezbollah has accused Hochstein of being biased and Hezbollah has threatened gas rigs and energy fields off the coast of Israel.
During his speech, Nasrallah took a more judicious view of the maritime border talks than he had in the past, saying that they appear to be reaching a “positive outcome thanks to dialogue” between the US and Lebanon, although he did not make any mention of Israel's role in the negotiations.
Nasrallah indicates that the full picture will become clear in the coming days. He also mentioned Lebanon’s continued failure to form a government.
Lebanon, like Iraq, has a strong pro-Iranian element and neither country now has a functioning government. Iran is also facing protests; meaning that several states where Iran has a role are all on the verge of chaos.
Nasrallah said that "the last parliament session proved that whoever wants to elect a president of the republic must move away from the logic of defiance in favor of consultation," adding that "time is running out with regard to forming a government."
Nasrallah also condemned people migrating from Lebanon to Cyprus, referring to a recent case where migrants died. “Migrating in death boats is like a crime," he said, calling for "a serious judicial investigation into death boats."
He then went on to accuse the US of creating ISIS. "ISIS was made by America, and the one who is still protecting it and facilitating its financing and the transfer of additional numbers to it is the American intelligence services.”
He weaved together a conspiracy in which he mentioned ISIS and other elements that have sought to undermine Iran’s regime.
He also referenced recent “rumors” about Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It was not clear if he was referring to rumors that the leader is in ill health or that some clergy in Iran are displeased with the leadership. Hezbollah needs support from Iran and he is concerned about the protests.
He claims that people in the region are “inciting” against Iran, blaming the US and Gulf states for stirring up protests in Iran.
Nasrallah explained that "the Islamic Republic does not want anything from the countries of the region and does not have any ambitions in Iraq's oil," wondering "how can the Iraqis forget Iran's stance and open its weapons and money stores to defend Iraq against ISIS?"
This was an apparent reference to current tensions in Baghdad where people are angry at pro-Iran parties stealing Iraq’s wealth. "If there was no Islamic Republic, where would Iraq and Lebanon be today; and what dark and bleak era would we have entered in our region,” he said.
He also mentioned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and increased tensions between Russia and the US. He predicted the US did not want to fight Russia.