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March 23, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8652

Lebanese Journalist: Lebanon Needs An End To The Iranian Patronage Over It, Not Nasrallah’s Advice On Fighting The Coronavirus

March 23, 2020
Iran, Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 8652

Lebanon, like other world countries, is currently battling the coronavirus epidemic and taking measures to limit the spread of the disease. In the recent weeks, some Lebanese, especially in the anti-Hizbullah March 14 camp, have accused this organization of causing the outbreak of the virus in Lebanon by objecting for several weeks to the halt of flights from Iran and to the closing of the border with Syria.

In a speech he delivered on Friday 13, 2020, Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah rejected the criticism, calling not to politicize the epidemic or use it as an opportunity for political score-settling. He also dispensed advice and instructions to the citizens on how to avoid contracting the virus, while calling on the banks in Lebanon to behave responsibly and on the government to give priority to battling the epidemic.[1]

In response to this speech, Lebanese journalist Khayrallah Khayrallah, known for opposing Hizbullah, published a scathing column in the London-based daily Al-Arab, in which he accused Nasrallah of considering himself the "Supreme Leader" of Lebanon (as Khamenei is the Supreme Leader on Iran). He added that Nasrallah's empty slogans of resistance will not help Lebanon fight the coronavirus, and that Hizbullah is nothing more than a battalion in Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps. Lebanon, he wrote, needs to free itself from the Iranian patronage, which has impeded the efforts to stop the spread of the virus from Iran to Lebanon. He noted, however, that despite the dire circumstances, Lebanon is still resisting Hizbullah, and "some people in it say no to Nasrallah and to everything he represents."


Hassan Nasrallah giving his March 13, 2020 speech (Source: Alahdenews.com.lb)

The following are translated excerpts from Khayrallah's article:[2]

"If the goal is for life in Lebanon to go back [to normal], then [receiving] tips, advice and instructions from Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah on handling the coronavirus is certainly not the way to achieve this. These tips, advice and instructions show that Nasrallah regards himself as the Supreme Leader of the Lebanese republic and the sole source of authority in the country, and does not have the basic humility to admit that Hizbullah, and those behind it in Tehran, bear the greatest responsibility for the bankrupt state Lebanon has reached in many areas.

"What Lebanon needs these days is not someone to tell it how to deal with the coronavirus epidemic. There are experts in the world who know very well how to halt the epidemic until a vaccine can be found… What Lebanon needs before anything else is to be free of the Iranian patronage that the Hizbullah militia has imposed on it, [a militia] that facilitated the arrival of the coronavirus in Lebanon through the neglected border with Syria and, at the same time, through the Beirut airport.

"The speech of Hizbullah’s secretary-general, which was largely devoted to the coronavirus, was delivered on the eve of March 14 [the anniversary of the mass demonstrations of May 14, 2005, following the assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri, which led to the lifting of the Syrian patronage from Lebanon]…

"Many events befell Lebanon between March 14, 2005 and March 14, 2020, the day on which Hassan Nasrallah delivered his speech on the coronavirus, in the guise of a benevolent father who cares for the health and wellbeing of the Lebanese. This would not have been possible were it not for the defeat of the March 14 [camp], which champions the ideas of [Lebanon's] freedom, sovereignty and independence. Along the way, many prominent Lebanese figures [from this camp] paid the cost of this defeat… [Even] before the assassination of Rafiq Al-Hariri and his companions, chief of them [MP] Bassel Fleihan,[3] there was an attempt on the life of MP and former minister Marwan Hamada [in October 2004]… To cover up the bombing of Al-Hariri’s motorcade, many other crimes had to be committed: the assassinations of Samir Qasir,[4] George Hawi,[5]   Gebran Tweini,[6] MPs Walid Eido[7] and Antoine Ghanem,[8] Capt. Wissam Eid[9] and Brig.-Gen. Wissam Al-Hassan.[10] Pierre Amine Gemayel[11] was also assassinated along with everything he represented as a Christian national figure, and so was Muhammad Chatah…[12]

"[As far as Hizbullah is concerned, every possible] blow was and still is a legitimate means to facilitate its takeover of Lebanon, from the war of summer 2006, which it instigated, thus bringing destruction upon Lebanon, to its intervention in Syria, which was motivated by purely sectarian considerations [i.e., in service of Iran and the Shi’ites]. Iran found nobody better than Hizbullah to dispatch to Syria in order to prevent the ouster of Bashar Al-Assad and his minority regime in Damascus. Since 2012 Hizbullah has been a direct partner in the war against the Syrian people, while the world watched from the sidelines.

"There is no choice but to admit that the March 14 [camp] has been defeated. [This defeat] was consolidated in May 2008, when [Hizbullah gunmen] raided Beirut and the Mount [Lebanon region]… The fact that Hizbullah, which has been accused of assassinating Rafiq Al-Hariri, can force the Lebanese to [appoint] the president it wants, proves that it has defeated Lebanon. That is what happened in October 2016 [when Michel 'Aoun was appointed president]. Moreover, today it also selects the Sunni prime minister. It is no secret that the current government, headed by Hassan Diab, is a Hizbullah government and nothing more. [13]

"We are now witnessing the continuation of the 2006 war. [This war] ended with a resounding victory for Hizbullah  headed by Hassan Nasrallah, which is nothing more than a battalion of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, over Lebanon and the Lebanese… The only certainty is that, in light of the economic crisis it is facing, Lebanon is like a patient in intensive care. Despite this, Lebanon still resists [Hizbullah], and some people in it say no to Nasrallah and to everything he represents. In practice, the culture of death has overcome the culture of life in Lebanon. Congratulations to the victor, who refuses to understand that the language of resistance and rejectionism, and its empty slogans, are no help in dealing with the coronavirus…"

 

 

 

[1]  Alahednews.com.lb, March 13, 2020.

[2] Al-Arab (London), March 16, 2020.

[3]  Fleihan, an MP and former economy minister, died in the bombing that killed Rafiq Al-Hariri.

[4]  An anti-Syrian journalist and columnist for the Al-Nahar daily who was killed on June 2, 2005 by a bomb planted in his car.

[5] A former secretary-general of the Lebanese Communist Party, who was likewise killed in June 2005 by a bomb placed in his car.

[6] An MP and CEO of the Al-Nahar daily who frequently wrote against the Syrian presence in Lebanon. He was assassinated in December 2005.

[7] An MP from the Al-Mustaqbal faction, assassinated in June 2007.

[8] An MP from the Phalanges Party, assassinated in September 2007.

[9] An investigator in Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces who exposed the involvement of Hizbullah officials in the Al-Hariri assassination and was himself assassinated in 2008.

[10]  Head of the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch and a former chief bodyguard of Rafiq Al-Hariri. Assassinated in October 2012, apparently after exposing the smuggling of explosive charges from Syria into Lebanon, in which senior officials of the Syrian regime and its allies in Lebanon were involved.

[11] Lebanon's industry minister and son of former president Amine Gemayel. He was a senior member of the March 14 camp and was assassinated on November 21, 2006.

[12] A former economy minister and Lebanese ambassador to the U.S., also from the March 14 camp, assassinated in December 2013.

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