Iran and Hezbollah’s Symbolic Involvement in Syrian Crisis

07 May 2013 | 15:39 Code : 1915860 Interview General category
An interview with Seyyed Morteza Nematzadeh, Iran’s former cultural attaché in Syria
Iran and Hezbollah’s Symbolic Involvement in Syrian Crisis


Since some time ago, some western and Arab media have reported that Hezbollah has been involved in the suppression of Assad’s opposition. Recent statements made by Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah on al-Manar have been interpreted by these media outlets as accepting the role of Hezbollah forces in the issue of Syria. How accurate, in your opinion, is this interpretation?

Accusing Hezbollah is an old issue and this is not the first time that Hezbollah is faced with such accusations. In general, there is a movement which attempts to impact Lebanon by using the Syrian crisis, weakening Hezbollah and strengthening the March 14th alliance on one hand, and strengthening the security coefficient of the Zionist regime, on the other. These new accusations, based on the involvement of Hezbollah in the Syrian conflicts, are also proposed in line with this same movement and have no logical basis.

Then what do the statements made by Hezbollah mean?

As Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah has mentioned in his speech, Hezbollah feels obliged to protect the Lebanese who live in the villages near Lebanon’s borders. Hezbollah feels responsible for the Lebanese who hold Syrian citizenship and are faced with the aggressions of the Salafi radicals. Nevertheless, the issue of using Syria’s atmosphere to impact Lebanon’s political scene is an old one. During the past two years, the Arab reactionary movement has attempted to transform Syria into the center of religious differences and export them to the entire world of Islam, particularly Lebanon, in order to destroy the security which exists in Lebanon. Unfortunately, considering the cooperation of media outlets affiliated with these countries such as Al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya and their print media and the supporters of these Salafi groups in the Arab countries, they have been able to create such an atmosphere to some extent and expand the crisis. But it seems that this atmosphere has reached its climax and considering the developments which are taking place in Syria, this issue will probably gradually be reduced.

The Secretary General of the Lebanese Hezbollah has said that the government of Syria has real friends in the region and in the world who “will not allow this country to fall into the hands of the US, Israel, or the Takfiris.” Some believe that Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian crisis is a trap which the West has set for this group to deal it a heavy blow. Is this assessment true?

When we use the word involvement, we must first define what it exactly means. I believe that the crisis in Syria is an attempt to damage the resistance. It means that Syria, by nature, is not threatened, but rather that Syria is threatened as a strategic member of the axis of resistance. It is natural that this is a threat which is formed against Iran and Hezbollah and logically Iran and Hezbollah would get involved to safeguard the resistance, but we must define what we mean by involvement. Does this involvement mean military presence or does it mean helping the government, the army, and the people of Syria to remove the conspiracy which has been imposed from outside the country? I believe that Iran and Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian crisis is symbolic.

When Nasrallah mentioned Syria’s friends, did he mean Iran and Hezbollah?

Yes. It is true that Iran and Hezbollah help the Syrian government. It must be noted that during the war which was imposed by Iraq with the support of the reactionary Arab and western countries and when Iraq invaded our country, the government and people of Syria stood by Iran and did not allow this war to be transformed into a war between the Arabs and non-Arabs or between the Shiites and Sunnis. When Syria stood by Iran under the worst conditions and paid a heavy price for this support and was regionally and internationally put under pressure, Iran now feels obliged to stand by Syria when Syria is being attacked by the same enemy. This is Iran’s duty, but standing by Syria does not mean military intervention. Of course, perhaps if necessary, Iran and Hezbollah might intervene militarily as Syria’s allies. Hezbollah also has the same feeling with regard to Syria, since Syria stood by Hezbollah and the resistance forces under the difficult conditions, and now Hezbollah feels obliged to support it but this does not mean military intervention in Syria.

You mentioned that if needed, Iran and Hezbollah, as Syria’s allies, might intervene militarily. Considering the threats of the western countries with regard to the usage of chemical weapons and Israel’s attacks against Syria, are we moving towards such an atmosphere?

It does not seem that at the present time, the situation has reached such a point. I believe that the developments in Syria are changing to the benefit of the Syrian government. Of course, this does not mean that it has total control over the issues. But it is natural that Hezbollah would religiously and politically feel obliged. One of the issues mentioned by Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah was the issue of protecting the Shiite-inhabited regions of Syria and preventing the sacrilege against Shiite holy places of in Syria. Besides the issue of resistance, Hezbollah, as a Shiite religious force, feels responsible to protect the pride of the Shiites and not allow what happened in Iraq to happen in Syria. Nasrallah has explicitly stated that Hezbollah will not allow such crimes to be repeated.

Some political parties in Lebanon oppose Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian crisis and believe that such a measure could impact the atmosphere in Lebanon. Is there any possibility, in your opinion, of civil war in Lebanon caused by this measure?

Considering the management capabilities Hezbollah has shown so far, I believe that it will not allow such an atmosphere to be formed. Hezbollah has attempted to set its priority as the Zionist regime and the axis of resistance and to not get involved in Lebanon’s domestic disputes. It will certainly pursue this approach. The non-intervention approach in Syria does not mean that the people of Lebanon should not have sympathy with regard to the Syrian crisis and be indifferent, but they maintain a neutral policy regarding the domestic conflicts in Syria. Considering the sensitivity that it has with regard to the destiny of Lebanon and the resistance, I believe that Hezbollah will not allow volatile conditions to be created in Lebanon. The return of a civil war in Lebanon will be a catastrophe for all groups. Hezbollah has always attempted to control and contain this issue and not allow foreign powers to create tension inside Lebanon. At the present time, there are attempts made by the western governments to disrupt the situation in Lebanon, as in Syria, but it seems that Hezbollah, by refraining from escalating the crisis, will not allow the enemies of Lebanon, the resistance, and the world of Islam to achieve their objectives.

tags: hezbollah syria iran lebanon nasrallah

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