Common wisdom has it that until Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah launched Tuesday's pro-Syrian demonstration in Beirut, his terror organization had been more or less on the fence regarding its position on Syria's occupation of Lebanon. This view is belied, however, by a speech Nasrallah broadcast on Hizbullah's Al-Manar television on February 17.
In the speech, which was documented by the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Nasrallah warned against the pro-democracy, anti-Syrian opposition. Nasrallah claimed that the opposition, like UN Security Council Resolution 1559 calling for a withdrawal of foreign forces from Lebanon and the disarming of Hizbullah, had been launched as part of an Israeli-American political war against Hizbullah.
He argued that the political war was "more important and dangerous" than a shooting war, because if it were successful the international community would label Hizbullah as a terrorist organization. If this were to happen, Nasrallah continued, it "would necessarily mean a world war against the resistance [i.e., Hizbullah], which they will call a war against international terrorism. [That will mean] the sources of [our] funding will dry up and the sources of moral, political and material support will be destroyed by exerting pressure on the countries defending the resistance one way or another, and exerting pressure on Lebanon, Iran and Syria, but mainly on Lebanon, to classify it as a country supporting terrorism."
So, far from sitting on the fence, Hizbullah had perceived the danger inherent in the pro-democracy movement in Lebanon, and had broadcast its opposition to it, from the start. Tuesday's rally, where Nasrallah led hundreds of thousands of Lebanese in chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" while applauding Syria for its domination of their country, was the result of this perceived threat.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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