Lebanon News

Nasrallah calls for united resistance against Trump

A giant picture of Qasem Soleimani in Maroun al-Rass, Feb. 16, 2020. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

BEIRUT: Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah Sunday called for people across the Arab world to unite in their resistance against U.S. interference, particularly after the announcement of President Donald Trump’s so-called Middle East “peace plan.”

“All the people of the region will carry a rifle, because this American tyrant has left no room for anyone,” Nasrallah said during a televised speech.

The Hezbollah leader said that responding with weapons was just one form of resistance, which could also be expressed via “legal, judicial or economic” means.

He even suggested the boycott of U.S. products as one way to push back against a “new era” of American confrontation in the region.

“We have never seen an American regime like Trump’s,” he said.

The speech marked 40 days since the U.S. assassination of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and several others in a drone strike in early January.

“When Trump kills leaders in such a brutal way, he is declaring war,” Nasrallah said. Retaliation for their killing by “the Resistance,” he added, is not over, but is a “slow and delayed” response.

Tehran has taken revenge for the killing of Soleimani, who led Iran’s elite Quds Force, by striking U.S. military bases in Iraq.

Over the weekend, Hezbollah unveiled a large cut-out image of Soleimani to crowds in the border town of Maroun al-Ras’s “Iranian Garden.” Soleimani’s arm is outstretched, his finger pointing south towards Israel.

Nasrallah described the killing of Soleimani and Muhandis as the first of “two great crimes” committed by the Trump administration. The second was Trump’s announcement in late January of the so-called “deal of the century” plan, which envisions the redrawing of the borders of Israel and Palestine.

The long-anticipated proposal grants Israel Jerusalem as its capital and hands over large tracts of occupied land to the envisioned Israeli state – including land Lebanon claims as its territory.

“No people in the world would accept a proposed state like [this],” Nasrallah said.

“This plan is a total liquidation of the Palestinian cause and Palestinian rights.”

Lebanese national interests would also be under threat if the plan were implemented, he continued.

“The spirit of Trump’s plan will be decisive in the issue of demarcating the land and sea borders with occupied Palestine and will affect Lebanon’s oil wealth.”

Around 860 square kilometers of sea remain disputed, which extend along the edge of three maritime blocks being eyed by Lebanon for oil and gas exploration.

In early 2019, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield acted as a mediator between Lebanon and Israel on the border delineation issue.

While talks have been put on hold since Satterfield’s reposting as U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, his successor David Schenker has vowed to renew efforts.

Beyond border disputes, Nasrallah said the naturalization of Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon as Lebanese citizens posed another significant threat to the country.

“If people are worried about naturalization we have to respect these concerns,” he said.

The Trump plan does not guarantee Palestinian refugees the right of return to their homeland, instead calling for them to be granted citizenship in the states they currently reside in.

The permanent settlement of majority Sunni Muslim refugees is a highly sensitive issue in Lebanon over fears it would upset the delicate sectarian balance, upon which the country’s power-sharing system is based.

Nevertheless, Nasrallah praised “the official Lebanese consensus – in particular from the three heads of state and the people – in rejection of this deal.”

“Thank God for the existence of something in Lebanon that everyone can unite around,” he said.

 

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