Al-Akhbar: Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday defended his party’s intervention in Syria’s two-year long war, accusing Western and Arab governments of hypocrisy for sending arms and fighters to prop up rebels.
In a televised speech marking Wounded Veterans Day, Nasrallah said the firestorm of condemnation that erupted among Arab governments and their Western backers over Hezbollah’s participation in the Syrian conflict has nothing to do with their opposition to the principle of foreign intervention as they claim.
“The problem is not about interference,” he said, charging the United States and Israel with supporting Islamist extremists who travel from outside Syria to join the fight. “Imagine [their reactions] if we intervened in Syria in support of the opposition,” Nasrallah added, implying that the West would approve.
“There are Arab countries which don’t have elections or democracy, or [meaningful] constitutions that are sending weapons and fighters,” he said in reference to the medieval, US-backed regimes in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the Syrian opposition’s main backers.
The claim that they want democracy and freedom “is the lie of the armed opposition, which is causing all the bloodshed … in Syria.”
Hezbollah’s support of the Syrian army has helped tip balance of power in its favor. An untold number of Hezbollah forces fought alongside Syrian troops to retake the strategic city of Qusayr in a two-month long offensive that was declared a victory earlier this month.
But the powerful Shia movement’s intervention in Syria has further polarized an already fragile and divided Lebanon. Syria-related violence has escalated in bordering Lebanon over the past several weeks with frequent rocket attacks from Syria, and deadly clashes between residents in the northern city of Tripoli.
The group’s local critics say interference in Syria’s conflict endangers Lebanon, while Hezbollah supporters say the radical Islamists fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad pose the greatest threat to Lebanon’s security.
A group of armed thugs, allegedly Hezbollah partisans, attacked a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy last week against the movement’s participation in Syria, shooting one man dead and injuring others.
In his speech Friday, Nasrallah condemned the attack and urged Lebanese not to allow disagreements over the Syrian conflict to lead to violence.
Everyone has the right to express their opinion, Nasrallah said, “whether they are with the Syrian government, or against it.”