Hezbollah's Hussein Naboulsi: "Lebanon exists because of us!"

Posted in Broader Middle East | 01-Apr-05 | Author: Manuela Paraipan

The Logo of Syria's main ally Hezbollah reads: "Thus, the Hezbollah - the party of Allah - is victorious"

The following is an exclusive interview with Hussein Naboulsi, Political Officer and Director of Foreign Media Relations of the Hezbollah Party. Manuela Paraipan spoke with him recently for WSN.

WSN: Sir, what can you tell me about Hezbollah's social activities in the South?

Hussein Naboulsi: Our work is mainly divided into two parts: In the South we have resisted the Israeli invasion and we have worked to rebuild things. We have worked at the social level through establishing the Martyrs' Association, an association that helps the families of those who died protecting our land. In addition, we have built hospitals and schools. After the liberation in May 2000, we worked with the Lebanese government to provide assistance to deprived people in the villages and towns of the South, regardless of their religion.

Nonetheless, we are a party, not a state. Therefore, we have limited resources, in spite of our desire to help. I want to mention that in1993 when Israel destroyed buildings and bridges in the South, we took the initiative to rebuild the complete infrastructure, without asking for help from the Lebanese government.

WSN: From where do you obtain your funds for all of your activities, be it military or social?

Hussein Naboulsi: Mainly from donations. In our Shiia religious system we have "al Khums", meaning that each year a 5th of our profit will go to the religious leaders who then proceed to further distribute the money. However, we accept money from anyone who believes in our cause. If the US or a European country would like to help us, their support would be welcome.

WSN: Does Hezbollah have military actions outside of Lebanon as well?

Hussein Naboulsi: This is an accusation that we often hear. It is very normal to see the American media spreading this kind of propaganda about Hezbollah, for the simple reason that we are against Israel. The day we declare that we are going to stop fighting the Israelis in the South will be the day we declare to the US: "We love you, we are going to give up to you and we will be under your command and domination." On this same day, the US will declare us to be the most peaceful party in the world. But look what happened to Arafat. The US considered him to be one of the top terrorists in the world and he was not welcome in the US or even in some European countries. When he began peace negotiations with Israel, he become a man of peace. We are people who do not betray our martyrs, and we will not give up our principles. We believe we are on the right path and we will continue to fight for our country until there are no Israeli occupying forces in Lebanon. We, the Lebanese, are like the Phoenix birds that can be reborn from their own ashes.

WSN: Is Hezbollah interested in signing a truce, a peace agreement or even a commercial treaty with Israel?

Hussein Naboulsi: We are living next to a neighbor that is by nature aggressive. Israel was established by force. It killed and displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and is still killing the Palestinians and destroying their homes. This is Israel, an illegal and illegitimate state in midst of the Arab world. Before 1942, there was no Israel -- it simply did not exist. With such a country, it is impossible to make peace. Peace can be made with peaceful people -- but look at the peace the Israelis are seeking: They invaded Lebanon, killed numerous people; they invaded Syria to occupy the Golan Heights; their crimes against the Palestinians are on-going. Under these circumstances, what kind of peace can we have? We believe that just is just, right is right; what has been established on a wrong basis cannot continue on a just basis. The people who came from Ukraine, Russia and other countries should go back to their homelands and leave Palestine to the Palestinian Muslims, Christians and Jews. Those Palestinians with their different sect can determine their own faith and their own political system. If the ones who came from abroad return to their countries, then we can make peace.

WSN: If Israel were to withdraw tomorrow from the Shebaa Farms, would Hezbollah disarm? Would you still keep your resistance if there is no reason to fight?

Hussein Naboulsi: As soon as Israel leaves the South completely, we will announce our position. So far, Israel has only retreated from parts of the Shebaa Farms. Therefore, if Israel leaves the South and releases the Lebanese hostages, then we will adopt a position that is not far from saying: That's enough.

WSN: What is Hezbollah's position toward UN Resolution 1559?

Hussein Naboulsi: This resolution speaks about disarming the militias from Lebanon, but it does not mention the resistance. We are fighting for a noble cause, and we are supported by the Lebanese government, the Lebanese parliament and we have the support of the people.

WSN: What about the arms you use not only for defending the South, but also for attacking Israel?

Hussein Naboulsi: The Taef Accord stipulates that all Lebanese militia must hand over their heavy weaponry to the Lebanese army, but it does not mention anything about the light weapons. Thus, even today Hezbollah is fighting with the light arms that remain outside of Lebanese army authority. It is true that we have some rockets and we have targeted villages in Israel, but only because they first targeted our civilians. We are in fact defending our people. Also, the Taef stipulates that the resistance has to keep on protecting/defending the South; thus from this point of view, UN Resolution 1559 trespasses Lebanese sovereignty.

WSN: Please, explain this point of view somewhat further.

Hussein Naboulsi: UN 1559 actually means: Stop fighting Israel. This is why it asks to disarm Hezbollah. They will not come to Lebanon, to take our arms, they just want us to stop our legitimate actions of protecting our land. Even the UN Charter gives us the right to protect what is rightfully ours, and as long as the Lebanese government and parliament give us this legitimacy, we do not need the resolutions to tell us what is or is not legitimate. Also, if they want so badly to implement this one, why not implement the hundreds of resolutions against the Israeli aggression?

WSN: What is Hezbollah's relationship to Syria? We have the opposition camp, the loyalists and then we have Amal and Hezbollah. Where is Hezbollah situated in the current political status of instability?

Hussein Naboulsi: Hezbollah believes that it is in the best interest of Lebanon to have excellent relations with Syria. We do not want to be another Pakistan and India, fighting against each other in endless conflicts. If we have a problem with Syria, we can solve it through dialog. We are not standing with this or that group of parties. We care about Lebanon, about national stability, and this is why we have called on all opposition members and others to sit at a round table and start a dialog. In the end, we are all Lebanese.

Hezbollah is a friend of Syria, but is not against the opposition. Many of the opposition members refuse to talk with the loyalists, but they have publicly said that they want a dialog with us.

WSN: What is Hezbollah's position toward US policy in the broader Middle East?

Hussein Naboulsi: If you are playing cards at a table, you always reserve the most important card for the last move. The US has played all of its cards so far in the region, but now it has run out of cards. Thus, they decided to use their last and most important card and the military stepped down on the region. The US began to feel that the climate in the Arab world is not right for Israel and so they have hurried to help it. Hezbollah believes that if the US used its last card, then this is the beginning of the end of American imperialism.

However, they needed an excuse to be here and this excuse was to dismantle Saddam's dictatorial regime. The US has known for a very long time what Saddam did to his people and what his actions were in the region, but it still supported his regime. The US came to the Middle East for two reasons: 1) To dominate the oil resources of the region and 2) To secure Israel.

It is obvious to Hezbollah that the US could not achieve these two goals from the outside, so it sent its military forces to interfere in the Arab world. What does this prove? That the US is not in a strong position anymore. The neo-cons fear that one day a man will appear at Mecca and will defeat the US; so, they decided to come here and kill this man, namely, defeat the Arabs.

We are not afraid of the US, and we are confident in our people and confident that we, as Lebanese, will stay united. Sooner or later the power of evil will diminish and that of God will prevail.

The US is now caught in the moving sand from Iraq, and it cannot escape. The US is very smart in terms of escaping and shifting blame on others. Now the US blames Syria for what is going on in Iraq, and Hezbollah for what is going on in Palestine.

If you take this scenario into consideration, then you also will understand who killed Hariri. The Christians and the Druze hate Syria, but they needed another sect in order to call for a regime change and for a national unity government. This goal cannot be achieved without killing someone important and blaming Syria afterwards. Rafik al-Hariri was killed and Hezbollah does not know who did it, but it is plausible to say that the ones who did it, wanted to place further pressure on Syria.

The US is not only talking about regime change in Lebanon but also in Syria. If this can happen with the help of the UN, then they think that they will be able to disarm and finally eradicate Hezbollah.

President Bush is trying hard to secure Israel with regard to Hezbollah and Syria. Everything that is now happening in Lebanon, is not for our sake, but it happens for with Israel's best interests in mind. It is not even about democracy, as President Bush would like us to believe.

Hezbollah is optimistic about its future. If America believes in its naive scenarios regarding the Arab world, then so be it. However, they have been proven to be wrong before and they are wrong now.

WSN: Can Hezbollah survive without the resistance?

Hussein Naboulsi: Before the liberation of the South, we exerted all of our efforts there. When Israel finally left the main parts of the South, we put all of our efforts in the internal political arena and we won several seats in parliament. Now, if Israel withdraws from the Shebaa Farms this would be to our advantage in all respects. It would strengthen us.

Many people believe that Hezbollah cannot survive without its resistance, but those people have forgotten that Hezbollah played an important political role in Lebanon, and it continues to do so.

WSN: What has Hezbollah done for Lebanon?

Hussein Naboulsi: Speaking with modesty I can say that without the resistance, today we would not have a Lebanon but an Israeli-dominated country. The country exists because of Hezbollah.

WSN: How would you describe a martyr? Is a martyr a man or woman who blows himself/herself up?

Hussein Naboulsi: We have an Islamic definition for this word. Anyone who defends his or her family, property, business and land and dies in the fight is a martyr. Those who have died defending our land against the Israeli occupier are all martyrs.

WSN: Does Hezbollah have relations with Hamas, Islamic Jihad or al Qaeda?

Hussein Naboulsi: We heard about al Qaeda for the first time when 9/11 happened. We did not know about it before. Not only do we have nothing in common with this organization, but al Qaeda as a Sunni radical movement considers us infidels, because we are Shiias. This is why they have killed so many Shiias in Iraq, through Zarqawi's network. They are narrow-minded and blind. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are another story. We have friendly relations with them, but nothing more. There are things we do not agree on with them. We believe that the bombings should be taken out against military individuals, but not civilians.

WSN: What is Hezbollah's agenda for Lebanon? What do you hope to accomplish? Perhaps an Islamic country?

Hussein Naboulsi: We believe in a democratic country where people should be equal under the constitution. In Lebanon we are a sectarian country, and no one holds the upper hand. Lebanon can be controlled through agreement, dialog and unity. Islam -- that is, pure Islam -- is a true and real democracy, but not the Islamic Taliban or that of Zarqawi or that of the Wahabis or Salafs in Saudi Arabia. In Islam, it is said that nothing can be implemented by force. In the Holy Koran is written: "Call the use of dialog for the sake of Allah." The people who support us and give us their votes were not forced to do so. It was their choice.

WSN: What is your view on labeling the television station al-Manar as a terrorist organization and forbidding it from broadcasting in Europe?

Hussein Naboulsi: This is not an issue for Europe. The problem is the Zionist lobby in Europe that is strong enough to impose such decisions. Many who are against Hezbollah and al-Manar have no idea who we are, what our culture, traditions and past and future expectations are. Everything we have suffered is because of Israel and we are the ones regarded as terrorists while the real terrorists are financially helped and receive great military assistance. This is the new world order.