Hezbollah is a Syrian-Iranian sponsored political party that began over 20 years ago to fight the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Accused of bombing the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, Hezbollah has long been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. Since the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1990, Hezbollah has operated extensive social service networks including schools, hospitals and community centers throughout Lebanon. It also holds 12 seats in parliament.
After massive demonstrations on March 8 of 500,000 Lebanese, pro-Syrian Prime Minister Omar Karameh who resigned on Feb. 28 was reinstated. Targeted by neoconservatives in Washington and Tel Aviv, Hezbollah could determine if Lebanon remains at peace or lapses into civil war.
Did Hezbollah assassinate Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri or have anything to do with his death?
Rafiq Hariri was one of our most important national figures. He saved Lebanon in many ways. He got us on our feet. He supported the resistance and worked against Resolution 1559. He believed in our right to liberate Lebanon. And he supported Hezbollah to the international community.
Who killed him then? Was it Syria?
There is a U.N. international investigation now that will gather the evidence and determine who committed this crime. In one month we’ll have the answers and we’ll know.
Could it have been the U.S. or Israel?
We know this: those behind it were the enemies of the Lebanese. It is an attempt to destabilize the country and damage our interests. Assess who has benefited most from his death to push forward their policies. There may be your answer.
We have been seeing many demonstrations against Syria –usually estimated at 25,000 or more. Is this accurate? Up to now, they have been around 5,000 to 10,000 strong.
Is the Mossad or CIA backing any of it?
No – no we cannot know this and we must be objective. Those against Syria are not our enemies. They are Lebanese and they have every right to speak out. That is democracy. But they don’t represent all of Lebanon. But there are others with different opinions. They are afraid of our huge numbers. We are not against The Opposition. We are for a Syrian presence. We are not trying to provoke any conflicts that will lead to violence. If we really care about Lebanon, we must all be peaceful and respectful, for the good of the country.
What will happen to Hezbollah if Syria leaves in compliance with United Nations Resolution 1559?
Hezbollah is Lebanese and supported by the Lebanese. We are not an outside party from Sri Lanka, Hong Kong or foreign shores. Our members come from our own farms and villages and cities. We have support from many Arab partners. We are democratically elected.
But Syria and Iran are foreign.
We are proud to be associated with them. Without their help, we would not have been able to liberate Lebanon from occupation.
Do you see demands to disband Hezbollah as a prelude to an attack on Iran?
America is already stuck in one quagmire…
What if the EU stops supporting you or designates you as a terrorist entity?
Chirac and the Europeans know who we are and that we have a right to exist under the UN Charter.
If the Lebanese government itself orders you to disband, will you?
We are not just a militia. We must make that decision when it happens. Before then, I can not comment.
This is the third in an interview series with Hezbollah of ficials in Beirut. To read the entire series, check: nyc.indymedia.org.