BEIRUT: Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah Saturday hinted his party could boycott National Dialogue called for by President Michel Sleiman after slamming the head of state for repeatedly criticizing Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria.
In a televised speech during a ceremony in the southern village of Aynata, Nasrallah also urged his rivals in Lebanon to re-evaluate their stances vis-à-vis the Syrian crisis and defended once more his party’s military involvement across the border.
“We call for an early presidential election if that is an option so that we can launch a new phase in Lebanon and then we can join [National] Dialogue [sessions] and discuss a national defense strategy and mutual cooperation,” Nasrallah said.
“I do not want to announce the party’s stance with regard to the National Dialogue sessions but this atmosphere [of attacks on the resistance] will certainly affect our decision,” he said.
Sleiman, whose six-year term in office ends May 25, has repeatedly criticized Hezbollah over its military role in Syria. In a February speech, he said political parties should not cling to “wooden equations,” referring to Hezbollah’s “people, resistance, army” tripartite formula.
Hezbollah hit back at Sleiman, saying the president needed “specialized care” because he could no longer differentiate between gold and wood.
During his address commemorating the opening of the Jabal Amel Cultural Center in south Lebanon, Nasrallah defended the resistance as a way of life and Lebanon’s most valuable possession.
“The resistance is a culture with all its political, social and military dimensions. It is about steadfastness in your land, patience, survival and sacrifices,” Nasrallah said.
“The resistance has existed since the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 ... and even then, there was a dispute over the presence of the resistance,” he added.
“There was never a national consensus on the presence of the resistance in Lebanon,” Nasrallah said, referring to the March 14 coalition’s longstanding claim that Hezbollah had lost its legitimacy after using its weapons inside Lebanon and intervened in Syria.
Nasrallah said the resistance was never defined by a single party, sect or movement.
“Whoever has a problem with Hezbollah or the Amal Movement should attack these parties but not the resistance because the latter is a topic deeper and wider than a problem with Hezbollah,” he said.
In an indirect criticism of Sleiman, Nasrallah said that the tripartite formula had been advantageous for Lebanon on many levels and said: “Gold will remain gold and some people’s description of things does not change their reality.”
“Backstabbing or describing the resistance in a negative light is an attack on the true meaning of the resistance and those who support it,” he said.
“How can some squander this gold? As for the wood, we used it to make coffins for Israeli occupation officer and soldiers who entered Lebanon standing and left [in coffins],” he added.
Nasrallah noted that the tripartite formula succeeded in liberating Lebanese territory, returned prisoners from Israel, protected southern villages and the border, and transformed Lebanon into a regional force.
“The tripartite formula gave Lebanon a strong presence in the regional equation and no one can neglect its presence because Lebanon always had gold before oil and gas,” he said.
Nasrallah also responded to Sleiman’s comments that Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria “fractured the backbone of the resistance,” saying the resistance’s backbone would never be broken.
He also briefly spoke about Hezbollah’s role in Syria and the developments on the ground that he said had forced the Arab League to change track and call for a peaceful solution to the three-year crisis.
“After three years, now the Arab League is seeking to add pressure on [President Bashar] Assad’s regime and have a dialogue and political solution to the conflict ... no one supported a political resolution when we proposed it,” he said.
“After you armed [the rebels], your incitements, support for military solutions and your attempts to block peaceful ones ... now you are blacklisting terrorist organizations [in Syria],” he added.
Nasrallah said his decision to interfere militarily in Syria was the right one.
“The problem is not that we entered Syria but that we were late to do so,” Nasrallah said, urging his rivals in the March 14 coalition to reevaluate their stance on the crisis.
Nasrallah, describing the presence of radical groups in Syria as posing an existential threat to Lebanon and the rest of the region, said time had validated his party’s decision to intervene in Syria.