BEIRUT: Hezbollah Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah says his party and the Future Movement should respect each other's diverging views over the conflict in Yemen in order to insulate Lebanon from any spillover.
In a clear address to the Future Movement, Nasrallah said “we have had our differences over Yemen, and over Syria and before that over Lebanon.”
“But my advice to Lebanese people is to hold your horses. Don't celebrate Operation Decisive Storm just yet,” he said in a broadcasted speech Friday in Beirut's southern suburbs.
He called on the Future Movement to approach the conflict in Yemen in a manner similar to Syria, in which both groups would openly express different views.
“Yemen, will be like Syria, let us have our own thoughts, and let us express our differences.”
In his calmest moment during his fiery speech, the Hezbollah chief stressed that coexistence between Lebanon’s rival parties was of prime concern.
“We want to live together, continue together and work together,” he said.
“We should work together, like we did to protect Lebanon from the conflict in Syria, in order to protect Lebanon from a spillover from Yemen,” he added.
Rivals Hezbollah and the Future Movement have been trading barbs in the media since the Saudi-led military operation against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen began last month.
The Future Movement hailed the operation as a necessary step to end growing Iranian influence in Yemen, while Hezbollah slammed it as an interference in Yemeni affairs and an assault on Yemeni people.
Nasrallah Friday reiterated Hezbollah's unwavering support for the Yemeni people.
“Hezbollah will maintain its support for the Yemeni people regardless of the repercussions,” Nasrallah said. “It is our moral, humanitarian, jihadi and religious duty to take this stand.”
Nasrallah dismissed labels of the Yemeni intervention as an “Arab War,” saying that critics of the intervention, like Hezbollah, were Arab as well. The people being targeted by the intervention are also Arab, he added.
“Those who agress on the Yemeni people must seek certificates on Islamism and Arabism,” he said, in clear allusion to Saudi Arabia.
He also dismissed claims that the Yemeni war falls in the context of a Sunni-Shiite conflict.
Nasrallah dismissed Saudi Arabia’s claims of restoring legitimacy in Yemen and protecting the Yemeni people by saying that the devastation resulting from airstrikes could not achieve those ends.
Nasrallah then listed what he deemed as the “blatant failures of Operation Decisive Storm.”
After 22 days of airstrikes, the notion of returning Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi to the presidency is impossible and a political settlement to reinstate him is also out of reach, he said.
Operation Decisive Storm also failed to prevent the spread of rebels across Yemen, he added. More importantly, the people of Yemen are not showing any signs of giving up.
As for the consequences of the operation, Nasrallah said that the intervention countered the desired outcome by aggravating the threat against Saudi Arabia. “You turned a possible threat to an absolute one,” he noted.
“You have taken yourself towards greater threats,” he said, addressing the Saudi regime.
“Its going to take time for Saudi Arabia to realize that the Yemeni people will not kneel,” Nasrallah said. But at the moment, no one is listening to calls for a political settlement and calls for dialogue, he added, calling on the Yemeni people to be resilient.
He called on Egypt and Pakistan to prevent the destruction of a state and not to be party to efforts to do so.
As for Hezbollah’s media campaign against the Saudi-led intervention and its harsh criticism of the Kingdom in lights of its “interference in Yemeni affairs,” Nasrallah said that he is not “cursing” Saudi Arabia, but any criticism is seen as an insult by the Kingdom.
As for political settlements for regional tensions, Nasrallah said that Iran is ready for dialogue with Saudi Arabia, but Saudi Arabia does not want to come to the negotiating table after failing in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
The Kingdom is digging for accomplishments before it would consider holding talks with Tehran, he added.