Speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on February 16th, 2018, during the commemoration of Hezbollah’s martyred leaders (Sheikh Ragheb Harb, Sayyed Abbas Musawi, Hajj Imad Mughniyeh)

Translation: unz.com/sayedhasan

[…] Regarding the daily violations of Lebanese airspace (by Israel), is it not the Lebanese State’s duty (to face them)? It is not suitable, as I have noticed during the last 2 or 3 weeks, for the Lebanese official statements to speak only (of Israeli violations) on the land and sea. As Lebanese State, do we not have an airspace? We have no airspace? Have we given up our airspace and signed a full surrender of our sovereignty there, our air sovereignty, not to say our Heavenly sovereignty? Well, what about this issue? Our airspace is violated continually, inconsiderately, every day, every hour, and attacks are carried out against Syria and other neighboring countries from our airspace. What should we do about it?

We are not saying that we should… To prevent anyone from saying that the Sayyed [Nasrallah] wants to get Lebanon bogged down in the war in Syria. You see, Syria defends itself. I’ll say two words about what happened last week. Syria is capable of defending itself. What happened last week is of course a very great military feat (almost) unprecedented. And in all certainty, what comes after won’t be like what came before (the equation has dramatically changed). And with certainty, at the very least, considering the importance of this event in the humblest way, Israel cannot anymore afford to strike without any fear, just like what happened (for its fleet) the day we hit (the Israeli corvette) during July (2006) war. Ever since, Israel is very careful and calculates to the meter where its ships can approach, where they must move away, where they have to go during their whereabouts, etc.

Regarding aircraft movements, with certainty, this will have a major influence on the movements of the Israeli air force. The Israelis themselves recognize this. That is not my point. I will not dwell on the causes of this event, its consequences for the Resistance and the Resistance Axis, for the struggles in the region, etc. No. 

In the wake of my initial remarks, I mean that the Syrian leadership, and long ago, ever since they got largely reassured about the internal situation, they made a decision: any Israeli war plane entering Syrian airspace should be (systematically) targeted by anti-aircraft defenses. There is no (need for) discussion. And even if missiles are launched on Syrian territory (from Israel or Lebanon), anti-aircraft defenses must fight back. And this decision has been applied for several months, but what happened last week is that the confrontation was bitter, and that God Almighty and Exalted has strengthened and given success to the (anti-aircraft) retaliation. “When you threw [a handful of sand in the direction of your enemies, O Prophet], it was not you but God who threw.” [Quran, 8, 17]

Well, what I mean here after the falsifications we have heard for a week, – because you know that for years, there has been a smear process to belittle all that is Syrian – (falsifications according to which) the cause of the confrontation and escalation that led to shoot down the Israeli aircraft would be an Iranian decision, (or) a Russian decision, but such talk is meaningless. The decision to shoot down aircraft and Israeli missiles in the Syrian sky is a Syrian decision, a decision of the Syrian leadership, a decision of His Eminence President Bashar al-Assad, and nobody else. The allies of Syria (Iran, Russia, Hezbollah) have only been informed of the general decision (to be implemented throughout all Syrian territory). Well, (that is all about) this decision.

As for its implementation, due to the smear campaign launched against the Syrian army, the Arab armies, the Arabs themselves, and so forth, who would have shot down the plane (if we believe these propagandists)? Who aimed and fired the anti-aircraft defenses and shot down the plane? The Iranians! No, the Russians! Then (these falsifications) have weakened, and (it was claimed that) it was Hezbollah. No, my dear. Those who shot down the plane and manned the air defenses in Syria are officers and soldiers of the heroic Syrian Arab Army. And for the past 7 years, we mingled with them more than when they were in Lebanon (1976-2005). When they were in Lebanon, we were not really friends… We mingled more with them, and found among officers and soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army a level of knowledge, know-how, expertise, intelligence, courage and precision that places them at a very high level. Why this smear, why these calumnies in the description of a truth that should make us all proud, whether we agree or disagree with the Syrian regime? All over the Arab and Muslim world, all should be proud of this heroic feat by the Syrian Arab Army and its air defenses after a decision of its (own) leaders. This should be a source of pride. Of course, we congratulate (Syria) and we express our pride and joy because of this intelligence, this feat and this heroic act.

Returning to us (Lebanon): these permanent (Israeli) violations, how long will they last? When (the US Secretary of State Rex) Tillerson came just a few days ago, or rather yesterday, and before him (his deputy David) Satterfield, maybe some (people) – not us, of course, never in our life – expected or assumed that the Americans came to Lebanese officials to say they were with them and standing at their side, and that they’d prevent Israel from putting to fire and sword the security situation in Lebanon, and would not allow Israel to violate our sovereignty, they would give Lebanon its water rights, etc. 

But look at the scales of what the Pentagon actually did. How much has he (recently) asked for Israel? I do not know if this has been granted yet or not. They requested assistance – military, because it isthe Pentagon – amounting to 3.3 billion dollars to Israel. I could be wrong about 300 million dollars (3 billion 300 million), so let’s just say 3 billion, excluding 300 million in military aid to Israel. As for the Lebanese army, the United States (supposedly) helps, supports and will support it to the amount of how much? 40 million dollars. 50 millions. O my brother, even say 100 millions. 150 million dollars. Who are we laughing at ? The United States gives Israel their most important strategic military aircraft (F-35) and as for Lebanon, it is not that no aircraft are given to us, we do not even get air defenses to defend ourselves and protect our sovereignty.

Anyway, what I’m saying here is that at this stage, regarding Israel, I do not think anyone in Lebanon argues. In 1982, between Hezbollah, the Amal movement, political movements, nationalist and Islamists parties, many voices were raised and debated on the question of whether Israel was an enemy or not, had (territorial) ambitions in Lebanon or not. But now it’s over. Today, after what has happened and is still happening (Israel claims for itself oil and gas fields in Lebanese territorial waters), is there anyone among the Lebanese arguing about the reality of Israeli ambitions in Lebanon? No. I do not think anyone calls it into question. Is there anyone who disputes the fact that on the basis of these ambitions, there are Israeli threats against Lebanon? I believe that nobody calls it into question. By God, this has nothing to do with Hezbollah’s weapons (denounced by the Lebanese March 14 alliance, opposed to Hezbollah’s 8th March Alliance). Instead of addressing the causes, the US claims to remedy the consequences. 

Well, to deal with these ambitions and these threats,we have a strong point (Hezbollah’s deterrence), and they are trying to deprive Lebanon from it. Anyway, on this issue, in general, we must remain vigilant and attentive. I’m not saying that we are heading into a war as claimed by some media, analysts and declarations. In terms of (the possibility of) war, I repeat what I’ve said in all my previous speeches: it depends on a great many circumstances. Of course, this does not mean that if Israel says it does not want war, we should necessarily take their word for it. Maybe they want war, maybe they do not want it. The only thing that prevents Israel to go to war is its lack of certainty of winning. And this is the equation we inherited from our martyred leaders (commemorated today). […]