BEIRUT: Hezbollah Chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said Wednesday a genuine and realistic national defense strategy should be based on coordination between the Lebanese Army and the resistance.
He also slammed the opposition, which he said only sought disarmament of the group in accordance with a U.S. agenda. “Currently, the optimal defense strategy is to have a strong army, a strong resistance party and complete coordination between the two,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
He stressed that the resistance group could not fall under the command of the Army as the state lacked the ability to resolve even the most basic of challenges.
“Do we want to place the arms under the command of the state? ... The same state that cannot resolve the smallest of issues?” Nasrallah asked.
Countering claims by the March 14 alliance that Hezbollah refuses to discuss its arms within the framework of a national defense strategy, the March 8 coalition leader said he was the first to propose a plan for national defense in 2006.
“When I came to explain Hezbollah’s point of view of a defense strategy, I mentioned that there [needs] to be a joint force made up of the Army, the resistance and the people,” he said, referring to a National Dialogue session held in 2006.
“I concluded my explanation of Hezbollah’s vision ... with the comments of [former] Prime Minister Salim al-Hoss that there needs to be coordination between the Army and the resistance,” Nasrallah added.
Last month, the opposition cited Hezbollah’s refusal to discuss its arms in the framework of a defense strategy as one of several reasons for boycotting the recently relaunched all-party talks headed by President Michel Sleiman.
“Whoever said that we never proposed a national defense strategy has reached the point of insolence,” Nasrallah said in his speech Wednesday, referring to Lebanon’s opposition.
He also slammed the decision by March 14 to boycott the National Dialogue, describing it as a form of blackmail aimed at toppling the March 8-dominated government.
He said his rivals only sought to disarm Hezbollah, rather than pursue a “true national defense strategy capable of protecting Lebanon,” in accordance with a U.S. plan to disarm the resistance.
Nasrallah said there had been repeated attempts to disarm the resistance, citing one example in 2004 when an Arab official, who he described as supporting the United States, offered President Bashar Assad the opportunity to retain Syria’s presence in Lebanon in return for the disarmament of Hezbollah. “In 2004, Syrian President Bashar Assad was offered the opportunity to remain in Lebanon in return for disarming the resistance,” he said, adding that Assad had turned this offer down due to strategic factors, namely Damascus’ confrontation with Israel.
The Hezbollah leader said the Lebanese opposition had no vision for a defense strategy apart from the resistance handing its weapons over to the Army, adding that some were banking on developments in Syria to resolve the matter.
Referring to one of the most recent rounds of National Dialogue, Nasrallah quoted a leading member of the opposition as saying there was no need to discuss a defense strategy as Hezbollah would hand over its weapons “sooner or later” following the fall of Assad. Nasrallah said that the political system in Lebanon rejects offers by Iran to provide the Army with weapons because it fears the United States.
“Not only in the case of arms, but regarding Iran’s offer to [build power plants] and in any form of support,” he said.
He said as well as a national defense strategy, Lebanon also needed a strategy of “liberation of the Kfar Shouba Hills and Shebaa Farms still occupied by Israel.”
Speaking on the subject of Israel, Nasrallah said his party maintained “a balance of terror” with the Jewish state, which prevents it from attacking Lebanon.
“What is protecting Lebanon today is the balance of resistance, a balance of terror,” he said.