Lebanon News

Nasrallah: Nuclear deal will embolden Iran

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah speaks during an televised interview, Monday, April 6, 2015. (The Daily Star/TV grab)

BEIRUT: A nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers will strengthen Tehran’s role in the region and rules out the specter of a regional war, Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said Monday.

“There is no doubt that the Iranian nuclear deal will be big and important to the region,” Nasrallah said in a live interview with Syria’s Al-Ekhbariya TV. “The agreement, God willing, rules out the specter of regional war and world war.”

“Iran will become richer and wealthier and will also become more influential. This will also reinforce the position of its allies.”

“A stronger and wealthier Iran in the coming phase will be able to stand by its allies, and especially the Palestinian resistance, more than at any other time in history,” he said.

Israel’s rejection of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, in light of a framework agreement announced last week, and Saudi Arabia’s implicit opposition to it, reveals the importance of these talks, he said.

“There is no doubt that an agreement will have repercussions on the region,” he said.

He said the possibility of Israel bombing nuclear facilities in Iran has become unlikely. Second, the agreement has ended Iran’s isolation.

Nasrallah said that negotiations have also revealed that talks are not linked or related to developments in the region. “The Americans had insisted on bringing regional issues to the negotiation table, but the Iranians refused,” he said.

In a more than two-hour-long interview, Nasrallah also described Lebanon’s policy of disassociation from regional conflicts as “a big lie,” hitting back at critics who accuse the party of destabilizing the country with its military intervention in Syria.

He also vowed to bear complete responsibility for Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria, saying the battle for the country remains “open ended.”

“Lebanon’s policy of disassociation is a big lie,” he said, adding that the smuggling of arms and people across the Lebanese border proves so.

Since the Syrian conflict erupted more than four years ago, the country has been facing a conspiracy led by countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, he said.

Nasrallah said the party’s forces located in Syria are in areas where they are “needed” and in accordance with their capabilities.

“Wherever we need to be, we will be,” he added. “The decision of Hezbollah’s presence is fully determined by Syrian leadership whether politically or militarily,” Nasrallah said.

Citing an example, he said that Hezbollah is needed in Syria’s Qalamoun region near the border with Lebanon. “The Qalamoun battle is a joint necessity for Lebanon and Syria,” he said.

The fact that Qalamoun is linked to the Bekaa Valley allowed for the transport of mercenaries, goods and weapons, not only into Lebanon, but also back into Syrian areas like the suburbs of Damascus.

Nasrallah recounted examples of what he said were attempts by states to undermine “independent Syrian decisions.”

He said that putting the blame on Syria for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was one example of how the country’s adversaries wanted to undermine the Syrian state.

“Those who killed Rafik Hariri had prepared the entire scenario, in the media and politically,” he said.

Nasrallah said that the Syrian conflict was hijacked by extremists groups like Al-Qaeda, which had long sought control over Syria like in Yemen.

“President Bashar Assad was ready and willing to respond to rightful demands of the people,” he said. But the interference of extremist groups changed the situation, he said.

When asked about casualties suffered by the party as a result of its intervention, Nasrallah said that Hezbollah’s physical losses were in fact “less than expected when considering the size of the battle.”

When asked about accusations of Iranian occupation of Syria, Nasrallah said that the first to talk about an occupation was Saudi Arabia because the kingdom did not acknowledge the will of free peoples.

This is a “problem in the mentality of the Saudi regime.” They claim that Iran occupied Syria, in the same way they claim Iran occupies Yemen, he said.

But “there is no Iranian military presence in Syria.”

He reiterated his belief that the Yemen war was motivated by Saudi Arabia’s desire to reclaim control over the country. The kingdom also wanted to intervene in Yemen because Sanaa was moving toward full independence, he said.

Nasrallah added the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen has so far failed to achieve any of its declared objectives. “This confirms the big failure of the Saudi-U.S. aggression,” he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 07, 2015, on page 1.

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