As the economic crisis in Lebanon worsens, Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah warned that if the situation becomes one of starvation versus weapons, the terrorist movement will keep its weapons.Speaking Tuesday evening, Nasrallah said, "Our weapons will remain in our hands and we will not starve; we will kill you."
The terrorist leader's address largely focused on the political and economic crisis in Lebanon.
Concerning a protest that took place earlier this month that called on the Lebanese government to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and disarm Hezbollah, Nasrallah responded that "resistance arms, for our people, is part of our culture, strategic doctrine and deeper than others can imagine."
Nasrallah stated that such protests increase division on the ground and called against mixing protests against Hezbollah with protests concerning the economic situation.
“It is the responsibility of all political and religious forces not to allow our country to fall into chaos, sectarian or political strife,” said Nasrallah, warning that Hezbollah will do anything to avoid clashes. “Nothing is off the table.”
The Hezbollah leader added that he believes that the current government, which is led by Hezbollah and Hezbollah supporters, should continue because the current situation isn't good for changes on that level.
Nasrallah denied reports of clashes in which Hezbollah and Amal supporters were throwing stones and firing at security forces and protesters.
"Holding Hezbollah and the Amal Movement responsible for the individual actions of some people in their environment is unjust," Nasrallah said. "The accusations against Hezbollah and the Amal movement have reached a great level of degradation and humiliation."
He blamed the United States for much of Lebanon's economic woes, including the dollar shortage in the country, claiming that the US was hurting Lebanon in order to help Israel.
The secretary-general claimed that the US is pressuring Lebanese banks to withhold dollars from the Lebanese economy.
"The problem is bigger than the problem of illegal money changers," said Nasrallah. "This is a simplification of the problem and smoke bombs aimed at concealing the monsters who collected dollars and sent them abroad or those who are preventing the entry of dollars. The US is using Lebanon and its economy to achieve their interests, among which are Israel’s security and the land and maritime borders."
The Hezbollah leader called on the country to open up to other countries, including Iran and China, in order to avoid needing dollars.
HEZBOLLAH HAS been accused of smuggling goods and dollars from Lebanon into Syria and harming the Lebanese economy, as well as smuggling weapons from Syria into Lebanon. During his speech on Tuesday, Nasrallah denied smuggling dollars out of Lebanon.
Nasrallah also spoke out against America's new Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which took effect in recent days and implements a series of sanctions against the Assad regime and its allies, including Iran and Hezbollah.
The secretary-general warned that the Caesar Act would also negatively impact Lebanon, "perhaps more than Syria... Whoever calls to close borders with Syria will later call us to open the borders with ‘Israel,’" he said.
Nasrallah stressed that economic measures would not deter Hezbollah.
"Whoever bets on our starvation or leading the country towards poverty we tell him: This will never happen," said Nasrallah. "Whoever puts us between the option of withdrawing our weapons or killing us with hunger, we say: Our weapons will remain in our hands and we will not starve – we will kill you."
The Hezbollah leader stressed that "if the equation is starvation versus weapons, we have an equation greater than this," but added that he would not talk about what that "equation" is.
Lebanon is grappling with an acute financial crisis seen as the biggest threat to its stability since the 1975-90 civil war. Its currency has fallen amid a hard currency liquidity crunch, which led the state to default on its sovereign debt in March.
President Michel Aoun said on Friday that the central bank would supply the currency market with dollars from Monday as part of an effort to prop up the Lebanese pound, which has shed more than 60% of its value since October.
Reuters contributed to this report.