Nasrallah’s remarks came during a speech to mark the 40th day since Imam Hussein’s death anniversary, which is commemorated yearly by Shia Muslims in massive street rallies.
He also addressed a range of regional issues, including recent attacks on Shia and Christians by radical Sunni groups, Syria’s internal crisis, ten Lebanese who have been held captive by Syrian fighters for nearly a year and Lebanon’s sluggish bid to explore natural offshore gas.
Below are some highlights from Thursday’s speech.
On the rise of regional violence Nasrallah said, “Those who attack Shia and Christians celebrating religious holidays are introducing a new religion, irrelevant to Islam…The great threat faced by our region now is a larger plan to divide areas and countries according to race and religion.
Nasrallah added, “There are currently plans for partition for nearly ever Arab country, including Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq…@we must admit that Lebanon is the most vulnerable of the Arab countries to regional developments, especially to those in Syria.”
“In Lebanon, we can differ in our positions on Syria and coexist. Yet, there are those who insist on importing violence from Syria. We call on all political and religious parties to preach coexistence, strengthen communication between groups, so we can avoid civil strife,” commented Nasrallah on the effect of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon.
On the issue of refugees he said, “We need a completely humanitarian approach to the displaced from Syria, without politicizing the issue. We must provide for their needs regardless of their political affiliations…We must not seal off our borders with Syria. Rather, it is our responsibility to welcome and protect the displaced.”
Nasrallah added that only dialogue can solve problems in Syria, “The real solution of the displaced from Syria, however, is to work toward agreement between all internal parties…There are those are are intentionally derailing a political solution in Syria…Lebanon must exercise pressure on the international community in order to seek a political solution in Syria, rather than maintain neutral position being touted by politicians.”
Nasrallah also touched on the issue of the Lebanese abductees in Azaz, “Regarding the ten Lebanese abductees in Syria, I believe the government’s efforts to secure their release has been subpar…We must negotiate directly with captors of Lebanese abductees, rather than insist on having Turkey mediate…There are three countries are able to secure the abductees’s release due to their significant ties with the captors. These are Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. The government has strong enough relations with these countries that it should be to pressure them to take action for the abductees.”
“Rather than denounce relatives of the abductees who have taken to the streets to demand action, the government must step up its efforts,” he added.
Finally, with regards to Lebanon’s offshore gas reserves, Nasrallah said, “We must deal with Lebanon’s gas reserves as a historic and national opportunity, but one that comes with more potential dangers from Israel, which will try to prevent Lebanon from exploiting its resources…Lebanon needs a national defense strategy to protect offshore gas from Israel, just as Israel revised various facets of its military when they discovered gas reserves. Hezbollah is prepared to be part of a national defense strategy for the protection of Lebanon’s gas, and we won’t ask for a share in returns, only that extraction projects run smoothly.”
- Bassil: Refugees Issue Dangerous, could Scupper Lebanon