Following are excerpts from two interviews with Shiite Mufti of Tyre Sheik Ali Al-Amin, which aired on LBC TV on August 26, 2006 and September 5, 2006.
Sheik Ali Al-Amin: With regard to the [Hizbullah] victory, as it has been called - I don't believe it was such a victory... I don't want to get into an argument about the meaning of victory, but I ask: Were we in such a state of defeat before July 12 that we needed such a "great" and "strategic" victory following July 12?
Interviewer: When posters Hassan Nasrallah are raised in the streets of Arab cities and in the [Sunni] Al-Azhar University - shouldn't this be considered a victory for Hizbullah?
Sheik Ali Al-Amin: In Arabic, we have both truth and figurative language. This may be a victory in the figurative sense, a moral victory. This is not entirely impossible. But if "strategic victory" refers to our bombing of Haifa... Saddam Hussein attacked Tel Aviv with Scud missiles - was that a strategic victory as well? We were not in a state of defeat before July 12. We were winning, and we had an important and great achievement, which we should have preserved.
Interviewer: What achievement are you talking about?
Sheik Ali Al-Amin: The achievement of the year 2000. Before July 12, we still had this achievement, and there was a possibility [for Hizbullah] to be incorporated in the state, rather than have such a war imposed on us.
Interviewer: But the issue of the Shaba' Farms still remained, and this has always been the pretext for continuing the resistance operations, and even for the capturing of the Israeli soldiers.
Sheik Ali Al-Amin: But now, after July 12, they accepted that the Shaba' Farms issue could be resolved through diplomatic means, through the U.N. This was possible before July 12.
People are not so simple and naive that [Hizbullah's] money will make them forget their wounds, their tragedies, and the loved ones they have lost. This is unreasonable. Life must go on, but how can anyone forget such pains, and all the suffering of becoming displaced. This [money] is worth nothing compared to what people have lost.
Interviewer: But Hizbullah says the resistance was defending people's honor. We've heard many people saying that what the resistance did served to defend the honor of the Lebanese.
Sheik Ali Al-Amin: During the war or by paying money?
Interviewer: During the war, when the resistance continued its operations, through the operation of capturing the two soldiers, through resistance to Israel, and by teaching Israel a lesson... The world's fourth strongest army... Through guerrilla warfare, it managed to teach them a lesson.
Sheik Ali Al-Amin: Let's not talk about honor. What honor is there in sleeping in schools or in the street? With all the pain and sorrow - what honor is there in that kind of life?
Sheik Ali Al-Amin: We cannot claim that the enemy has been defeated. The enemy also had goals that were not accomplished, but there is no comparison between our pain and that of the enemy. Our pain was great, while the pain caused to the enemy... There is no comparison. Some say: If you suffer, know that they suffer as much as you. No, we suffered more than our enemy. The destruction caused to us was greater than that caused to our enemy. We lost more lives than the enemy, even though I don't believe the purpose of war is to take lives. One would expect a war to have greater goals.
Israel is a country that is ready to confront all the Arab armies combined. We should not be ashamed if we did not defeat it. We confronted it, and were steadfast, but we did not defeat it, and there is no shame in that.
In Islam, planning is for the sake of victory, not so we can say: He was courageous, fought, and then got killed. You hear people say: He entered the battlefield, fought like a brave hero, and then was martyred. Is that really our goal?
I don't understand how anyone can claim that one side was defeated, without losing lives or suffering destruction, while the other side has won, with all this destruction and loss of lives. How can one be called a victory and the other a defeat?
I cannot say to my enemy: I want to fight you on this or that spot only, and you are not allowed to fight me anywhere else. I want to capture one of your soldiers, so you should try to capture one of mine in return, but you are not allowed to bomb my infrastructure and factories. This is not the logic of war.
I do not doubt that Hizbullah has special and maybe even unique relations with Iran.
Interviewer: Hizbullah or the Shiites?
Sheik Ali Al-Amin: No, not the Shiites. The Shiites are not like that. We Shiites have a principle that our ties are with the homeland. The relations we have with Iran or Iraq are religious and cultural. These religious cultural relations are age-old relations.
Interviewer: Like the relations of the Christians, or the Catholics, with the Vatican...
Sheik Ali Al-Amin: Yes, or the relations of the Christians in Lebanon with France, or the relations of the Sunni [Lebanese] with Egypt or Saudi Arabia. These are cultural relations, which lead to cultural exchange and mutual respect. As for political relations, they should be with my homeland. My relations are with you, not with someone far away. Our people say: "The hell of the near is better than the paradise of the far." What good do I get out of the far-away paradise - the paradise of Tehran, Paris, or Washington? The only good thing for me is to turn my country into a paradise.
The religious relations with Iran are cultural relations. Under no circumstances are religious relations allowed to be at the expense of the homeland.