Pro-Hezbollah journalist says party cannot continue with current ties with Iran

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Pro-Hezbollah Lebanese journalist Kassem Kassir said Hezbollah cannot continue with its current relationship with Iran and that it must become a Lebanese political party.

Kassir’s statements have been heavily attacked by supporters of the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia after his interview aired on NBN TV station which is largely funded by Hezbollah’s Shia ally movement Amal.

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Kassem Kassir is a political writer who specializes in Islamist movements and has written a book about the change in Hezbollah’s discourse between 1982 and 2016. He has been seen as a writer who has generally supported Hezbollah, according to observers. Kassir’s recent comments on Hezbollah come at a time of rising frustration from Iran’s growing influence in Lebanon and an international and regional pressure to suspend Iran’s presence in Syria via Hezbollah and other militia groups.

“There are two issues that Hezbollah must resolve. The first issue is the relation with Iran, Hezbollah cannot continue with the same relationship it has had with Tehran, Hezbollah has to become a Lebanese political party, [it is fine if] there is a religion or sentimental relationship with Iran, but Hezbollah shouldn’t be led with orders from Wali al-Faqih [Supreme leader Ali Khamenei],” Kasser said during the interview.

The second issue that Kassir discussed was Hezbollah’s role in “resisting Israeli threats” to Lebanon.

“Hezbollah cannot stay resisting alone, it must fall under a national defense strategy, the idea that the Shiaa have a transnational role to play must seize to exist, they must integrate within their countries’ communities” Kassir added.

“We need Hezbollah, and the Shia in general, to [remain humble],” he added.

“In the past 10 years, for geo-political reasons, Hezbollah was pressured into mobilizing outside of Lebanon, however, Hezbollah in its internal organization and manifesto states that is must not interfere in other nation’s issues, Hezbollah learned from the experiments of other resistance movements, like Fatah,” Kassir added.

“Hezbollah meddled in Syrian affairs for one reason or another, that has happened, I don’t have to state my position on that matter, but from now on Hezbollah must return to Lebanon”, Kassir added.

Kassir commented on the mass media campaign that was held on Soleimani’s death memorial saying that it has negatively impacted Lebanon internally.

“Regardless of the role Soleimani has played in Lebanon during the 2006 war with Israel, we must do an internal critic, [everything that is over-done has negative consequences],” he added.

Kassir received different reactions on his prior statements which were heavily criticized by some of Hezbollah’s followers.

NBN channel removed his statements from its social media networks.

Kassir had to clarify his stances in a social media post where he mentioned that he is not partisan and does not have role or responsibility within Hezbollah.

“I am just a writer, a journalist, or a humble viewer and a university researcher who works to spread dialog. I was and still am with the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine and against every occupier. I wish for those who want to discuss opinions to do so calmly in the interest of our nation and for the sake of the unity of our country. I have worked and still work within my conviction and freedom,” he added.

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