Hezbollah leader defends involvement in Syria

Following a speech by Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah this week, Jean Aziz writes: Beirut circles familiar with Hezbollah’s thinking said that Nasrallah addressed his supporters to assert that the war he is waging — in Sayyeda Zeinab’s shrine, Qusayr, and of course in south Lebanon — is legitimate. That legitimacy rests on three grounds:

First, that the war on Syria aims to liquidate the Palestinian cause and thus the war falls within Hezbollah’s doctrine of fighting Israel.

Second, that some Lebanese parties are directly involved in the Syrian conflict, as Nasrallah asserted. That involvement indicates that there has been a decision to use the Syrian arena to strike at Hezbollah. According to Nasrallah, that involvement preceded the Shiite involvement in Syria.

In effect, Nasrallah said to both his supporters and opponents that when former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri started arming the Syrian opposition, and when Hariri appointed one of his MPs to represent him with the jihadist and takfiri groups in Syria, and when Lebanese Shiites returning from a religious pilgrimage in Iran were kidnapped in Syria on the Turkish-Syrian border last year, and when the arms shipments to the Syrian opposition were coming through the Tripoli port, and when dozens of Lebanese Sunni fundamentalists were ambushed when infiltrating Syria from northern Lebanon to fight alongside Jabhat al-Nusra, Hezbollah was not yet involved in Syria, as it is today in a limited way. So Nasrallah was telling his supporters that he is in a position of self-defense and is defending his people, or at least was counterattacking a push to eliminate Hezbollah.

The third ground is purely religious: to defend Sayyeda Zeinab’s shrine. Zeinab was the daughter of Imam Ali, who is revered by Shiites, and Fatima, who was the daughter of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad. Zeinab also played a key role in the Battle of Karbala, which happened in 680 and is central to Shiite consciousness. It is that battle that split the Muslims into Sunnis and Shiites. [Continue reading…]

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