Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah uses every trick in the book in an effort to cement his militia’s credibility within the Sunni Arab world and to justify its existence. His speeches are deliberately crafted to con Arabs, specifically Palestinians, into thinking he is the hero who will defend Jerusalem and free the occupied territories.
Not content with turning Lebanon into an Iranian vassal state, using the pretence he puts Lebanese interests first even though he has triggered war with Israel, turned his guns on his compatriots, and dragged his country into the Syrian conflict. Nasrallah has cynically ramped up his pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel rhetoric to lure Palestinians and their sympathisers into his camp.
As several Middle East commentators have noted, he is out to win a place in the Palestinian good books with anti-Israel threats at a time when he is viewed throughout the region as a betrayer for propping up the brutal Bashar Al-Assad regime.
Nasrallah’s latest rant boasts that Hezbollah has the capacity “to cover the entirety of Israel with missiles” adding that the militia would be the victor in any coming war with nuclear-armed Israel. He was even more specific concerning his plans. An ammonia plant in Haifa would be targeted in order to cause a nuclear bomb type explosion.
Those threats are mere flimflam, empty of substance, because, if carried out, Israel would adopt a scorched earth policy in retaliation while every Palestinian would have a target placed on his back. To prove how nonsensical they are in the event Israel were in danger of being obliterated, no American president would sit on his hands witnessing its destruction. That is just a fact which this big-mouthed paper tiger knows only too well.
Nasrallah has cynically ramped up his pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel rhetoric to lure Palestinians and their sympathisers into his campKhalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
Until now, neither Iran nor Hezbollah have done anything tangible to aid the Palestinians other than throw them a few dollars and low-grade missiles. They merely hold out the freeing of Jerusalem as a recruitment carrot, one that offers hope to Muslims and, of course, Palestinians in areas where hope is becoming a rare commodity.
He vows to support the Palestinians year-upon-year and so far he has done nothing tangible to that effect. Instead, he has ordered attacks against Saudi Arabia; one example is the attack on the Khobar Towers residential complex near Dhahran carried out by Hezbollah’s branch in the Kingdom. Moreover, Cairo alleges that Hezbollah, together with other groups, murdered guards to release tens of thousands of prisoners during the 2011 revolution, many of them convicted terrorists.
I have advocated for a Palestinian state throughout my adult life. I feel deeply for the suffering of the Palestinians and their frustration in the absence of even a small chink of light. I understand why a small minority may be tempted to grasp at Nasrallah’s straws, but have no doubt that they are being set up for disappointment.
I am sure President Mahmoud Abbas understands Hezbollah’s ruthless game. I do not doubt his patriotism for a second, but I do wonder at his silence. He should dissuade his people from being fooled by Hezbollah with propagandist statements designed to attract recruits who will no doubt be farmed-out to fight elsewhere.
Nasrallah’s agenda is clear. Last year, he called upon all Palestinians and their supporters to rally behind the Islamic Republic of Iran on such duplicitous reasoning as “Iran’s enemies are the enemies of Jerusalem”. He was later to claim Iran and its backing of “resistance movements” was “the only hope left for this region, after God.”
When he is not thumping his chest against Israel, he is slamming Saudi Arabia for its “aggression” against Yemen, which is a legitimate, lawful intervention carried out to reinstate the democratically-elected government and to preserve the Kingdom’s security.
On Sunday, Lebanon’s Minister of Justice Ashraf Rifi resigned his post saying Nasrallah should be “ashamed” of his attacks on Saudi Arabia while describing Hezbollah as “a mere tool” of Iran. “Hezbollah is turning Lebanon into an operations room to spread Iranian hegemony”, he said. Never a truer statement has been said. That is exactly what he wants Palestine to become – an Iranian puppet enclave.
Hezbollah has been bleeding popularity among Palestinians, many of whom were outraged when in December 2015 he spoke against the backdrop of a map of Palestine superimposed with the Iranian flag. That speaks volumes as to his hidden agenda. He does not care about the Palestinians; his interests lie with extending the so-called Shiite Crescent.
Walking the walk
I would urge President Abbas to encourage our Palestinian brothers to reject Nasrallah’s blatant lies designed to hijack their just cause and he should emphasise strongly that Hezbollah talks the talk but has never once walked the walk. The U.S. may have scratched Hezbollah from its threat list while it was courting Iran to sign up to the nuclear deal, but history does not lie. It remains a terrorist organisation with both Arab and Western blood staining its hands.
I would also counsel Lebanon’s Palestinian residents to assist those of their Lebanese friends struggling to reclaim their country from Hezbollah’s domination which is alienating Saudi Arabia, the majority of Gulf states and other predominately Sunni countries. Hezbollah’s control of the country both politically, diplomatically and militarily has resulted in Saudi Arabia freezing $4 billion set to bolster the Lebanese army and domestic security services because it cannot continue indirectly funding its enemy’s proxy militia.
Palestinians, wake up! You are being played. Disassociate yourselves from Hezbollah and its master. Reject false partners for those who have stood shoulder to shoulder with you rather than those with silvery tongues and anti-Sunni agendas. If you let him, Nasrallah’s weasel words will lead you down a hellish path with no return.
Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure. He is Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group - one of the most successful conglomerates in the Gulf. Al Habtoor is renowned for his knowledge and views on international political affairs; his philanthropic activity; his efforts to promote peace; and he has long acted as an unofficial ambassador for his country abroad. Writing extensively on both local and international politics, he publishes regular articles in the media and has released a number of books. Al-Habtoor began his career as an employee of a local UAE construction firm and in 1970 established his own company, Al Habtoor Engineering. The UAE Federation, which united the seven emirates under the one flag for the first time, was founded in 1971 and this inspired him to undertake a series of innovative construction projects – all of which proved highly successful.