The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria poses an existential threat to all minorities in the region, including in Lebanon, Hezbollah head Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah emphasized to Druze leader Walid Jumblatt during their first meeting in three years.
Nasrallah made clear his party’s position regarding this worrying state of affairs in his discussion with Jumblatt, which was quoted at length by a Hezbollah official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Jumblatt was eager to talk about the danger posed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, speaking of the “heinous genocide and massacres” it carried out. Nasrallah responded with a lengthy explanation of the party’s thinking and actions, and the implications of regional developments for Lebanon.
“We are the largest force capable and willing to make material, military and human sacrifices,” Nasrallah reportedly told Jumblatt. “We are willing to fight for the next 10 years, and this steadfastness is not only in defense of the Shiites in Lebanon or based on sectarian concerns; rather, it is in defense of Lebanon and its diversity at a time when we feel the terror among Christians and other communities, which requires national and political awareness of the sensitivity of this stage.”
Nasrallah continued: “We did not interfere in the events in Syria when they first began, but we realized later that the cause had nothing to do with the slogans raised by the Syrian opposition so much as it was about targeting Syria, undermining its role and pushing it toward infighting and sectarian fragmentation.”
Jumblatt agreed, admitting that backing the Syrian opposition was a “serious error,” the source said.
“They have demonstrated that they are not worthy to bear the responsibility, nor are they capable of controlling even a meter [of territory],” Jumblatt was quoted saying by the Hezbollah official. “They [the Syrian opposition] are very adept at ruining [everything], which has plunged the Middle East into the tunnel of rising extremism emanating from Syria, unleashing wars, killing and destruction across the region.”
Nasrallah went on to say that “everyone is aware of the seriousness” of the ISIS threat.
“All the reports we receive indicate that they are planning on expanding toward Jordan and Saudi Arabia by undermining the security and stability of these countries,” he said, adding that the “takfiri monster is on the loose,” and the threat is not limited to Syria and Iraq.
“ISIS is seriously considering expanding toward new arenas, and this should be treated not as a conspiracy, but rather as a battle of life and death no less important than fighting the Israeli enemy, as [ISIS’] actions and objectives only serve Israel,” Nasrallah said. “We call on political parties in Lebanon to fortify the internal front by electing a new president and reassuring Christians and other minorities. It is wrong to think that if ISIS reaches Lebanon it will persecute one group and leave others alone. It is a fire that will consume all Lebanese communities and we must all be aware of the seriousness of this project and confront it.”
The conversation rattled Jumblatt, the official said, prompting him to realize the extent and seriousness of the ISIS threat. The Druze leader immediately organized a tour of the Chouf in order to alert the Druze, whose number in Lebanon does not exceed 400,000, that ISIS is not only the concern of Christians and Yezidis in Iraq and Syria; rather, it is a genocidal group bent on erasing minorities from the region.