Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on January 12, 2020, commemorating the martyrdom of Hajj Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
[…] My third point concerns the response (to the assassination of Soleimani), or the just retribution (which must be inflicted on the United States), which I mentioned last Sunday after His Eminence the Leader (Khamenei), (political and military) Iranian and Iraqi officials, and Resistance movements throughout the region. All aspects of this issue need to be highlighted.
It can be formulated in one sentence: the response to the American crime that caused the martyrdom of Hajj Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, as well as the brothers who accompanied them, is not a simple operation. It is a path, a long journey that we have initiated, and that must lead to the expulsion of the American military presence from our region, from the whole Middle East, or, as His Eminence the Leader (Khamenei) names it, the region of Western Asia. This will be the response. The response is not a single operation. What happened at the American base of Ain al-Assad is just a slap, and it is not the answer to the martyrdom of Qassem Soleimani. And anyone who views the attack on Ain al-Assad as the Iranian response is completely mistaken. It is only a slap, as defined by His Eminence the Leader, inflicted on American forces and bases, a slap that is part of this long process. It’s just a thunderous start, a thunderous military start. It is a powerful first step that has shaken (American imperialism), on the long road of the retaliation to this crime, which is one of the greatest crimes committed by the United States in our region. And as I said, this must lead to the expulsion of American troops and the end of the American military presence in our region.
I want to talk a little bit about this slap. Then, I will talk about this path (which should lead to the end of the US military occupation of the Middle East).
First, this slap… When the Aerospace forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps targeted, a few days ago, in the middle of the night… Of course, the main target was the Ain al-Assad base. In Erbil, they only fired one or two missiles, and the message was merely psychological. But the real military target was the Ain al-Assad base. Several missiles traveled hundreds of kilometers and struck the heart of the base, as recognized by the United States’ Defense Secretary, and hit their targets. This event was enormous and constituted a veritable earthquake. It placed the whole region… We followed the events overnight, and during all the following day, and the whole region was on the brink of war.
I want to talk a bit about the impact of this slap, this strike. Of course, since the early hours, some US media, and also the media in the Gulf and the Arab world, who are more American than the Americans themselves, have started to prepare the ground for the American reaction. From that moment, I understood that Trump was going to swallow the insult and would do nothing, I understood that he was going to pipe down. When they started to insist emphatically on the fact that there were no dead or injured soldiers, to diminish the importance of the slap and to disparage it (they are accustomed to do that), I understood that Trump would not do anything.
But if we want to be objective and consider somewhat the real importance of this slap, we must establish the following points.
First, this slap, this major military strike, demonstrates unparalleled courage on the part of the Iranian leaders and the Iranian people, who supports his leaders. This courage is indescribable. Who are we talking about? They fired missiles at an American base, at American forces. As all (serious) experts and analysts have pointed out in the past few days, such a thing has not happened since the end of the Second World War. We are talking about a State, not an organization, a group, a Resistance movement. Because it has already happened that a non-State group strikes the Americans, like the attack (that killed 241 American officers and soldiers) against the headquarters of the Marines in Beirut in 1983 (attributed to Hezbollah). But it is very different when we speak (not of a clandestine organization but) of a State, which has institutions, leaders, an army, (Revolution) Guards, refineries, factories, airports, ports… A State has a lot to lose, as they say. This act and this decision express an incommensurable and unprecedented courage and audacity. Who dares to do such a thing all over the face of the Earth? In the whole world, who dares to attack the Americans directly and brazenly? Since the Second World War, no one has dared to stand up to the Americans and strike them openly, firing missiles at one of their bases. Who dares to do such a thing?
Especially that during the previous days, the American officials threatened (of violent reprisals in the event of Iranian response). And you remember Trump’s Tweet: if you hit us or do anything, I will immediately respond, violently and firmly, by destroying 52 Iranian strategic sites, including cultural ones. But he swallowed everything he said. These threats were clearly present on the minds of Iranian leaders when they made this decision.
Therefore, the first element established by this slap and this strike is the unequaled courage and boldness of the Iranians manifested by this act, which marks a rupture and confirms a whole new stage (in History). The message to the United States and its allies in the region is that it faces officials, a regime and a people of tremendous courage. If Washington imagined that the Iranians were afraid, weakened, had backed away, had become cowardly,and felt defeated, they received a scathing denial. This was perhaps Iran’s strongest decision since the death of Imam Khomeini, may God have mercy on him (not to say since the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in 1979). But in all truth, one can consider this grandiose act only as a summit of courage. We know very well (in Hezbollah) what it means to make a decision of this nature, which can lead to dangerous reactions, even war, to (regional or perhaps global) war.
The second point is that this strike or slap revealed the power of Iran’s military capabilities. Because there were always people who denigrated this capacity. There are, in truth, people who are pathetic non-entities and who take pleasure in their state, and belittle themselves, having no self-esteem, but they do not accept to see strong, dignified, powerful and capable people in this (Arab-Muslim) Nation, people who actually do what they say and achieve everything they promise. They don’t accept it because they’re just the opposite of that. This strike exposed the truth of Iran’s military capability. The missiles are 100% Iranian made. They were not bought from US arms manufacturers and paid hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from the pockets of the Iranian people (unlike Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, especially in their war against Yemen). These missiles are Iranian-made, and the experts are Iranian, with no need for any foreign experts. The targets were determined by the Iranians, as was the entire technical process. The launches were carried out by Iranian officers and soldiers, and not by mercenaries hired in the United States or other countries (United Kingdom, France, Israel…) as do other States (in the region). The decision was Iranian, as are the weapons and the execution of the operation.
And the missiles hit their targets precisely. All the missiles hit the base successfully. Some talk about 13 missiles, the US Secretary of State for Defense talks about 11 missiles that struck inside the base, fired from hundreds of kilometers away. What does this mean for the United States? All American bases in the region are within range of Iranian missiles, and can be struck with great precision. And it should be known that the Islamic Republic of Iran has missiles even more precise than those which it used for this operation, but it did not resort to them, because it keeps them in reserve (for later).
And despite their high alert, maximum alert, and the fact that they expected an imminent response from Iran, the Americans failed to intercept any of these missiles. And this all their bases are in the same situation. This is a message to all those who are plotting with the United States against Iran. And this is a very strong message to the Zionist entity, which still believed it could play with Iran. It is a message to Netanyhau, who has always dreamed of sending his air force to bomb the Iranian nuclear installations. But the military and security officials within the Zionist entity always opposed him. He wanted to achieve a feat, but this imbecile does not know his limits and does not know to which abyss he is leading his entity. The message of this strike is a very strong message to the Zionists. When they hear threats from His Eminence the Leader, may God preserve him, or from Iranian officials against the Israeli entity, they must take these threats very seriously. This has been understood and stated by Israeli analysts and experts over the past few days. The missile strike hit the Ain al-Assad base in Iraq, but the mourning was in the Zionist entity, because they understood that this is what awaits them if they dare to attack Iran, plot against Iran or threaten Iran. Because Iran has this capacity and this power.
This is why, my brothers and sisters, this strike is huge and of paramount importance. Whether US soldiers got killed & wounded or not, this will be revealed in the coming days. The CNN reporter yesterday saw the scene and showed a spectacle of desolation, saying it was caused by a single missile. We could see a huge destruction in this base. Even if most of the soldiers had gone to take refuge in the shelters, weren’t there guards, soldiers at the observation and defense posts? We’ll see (if there are victims). However, the scale of the military damage is colossal. We are talking about (the destruction of) extremely sophisticated radars, equipment, planes, installations… Anyway, whether or not there are victims, this strike alone, in itself, the way in which it was carried out has all the importance that I have just emphasized.
One of its effects is to have broken America’s prestige. The prestige of the United States was shattered by the strike against the base of al-Assad, whether in the eyes of their friends or in the eyes of their enemies. Yes, the Americans kept a low profile, they lowered their heads and piped down! During the last days, yes, the American soldiers stood on a foot and a half (ready to run away), and we are talking about the United States, o people (reference to earlier words of Nasrallah following the assassination by Israel of two Hezbollah fighters in Syria, mocking the fear of Israeli soldiers while awaiting the inevitable response)! This is what Iran has achieved in the past few days. And that’s why in Israel, one of the mourning topics that gets a lot of attention is that according to some rumours, Trump prepares to withdraw from Iraq and the region, and leave Israel alone (against their enemies). Today, within the Zionist entity, all the talk is about this nightmarily prospect. The prestige of the United States has been shattered.
And what has been the response of the United States? They swallowed the insult. Under what pretext? ‘Be happy o Americans, no one got killed (proclaims Trump).’ But who are you? You are the United States! It’s an American base! Thousands of American soldiers hid, dispersed, ran all over the place, rushed to the shelters, moped in fear and terror for hours! Missiles hit your base, and a State claimed responsibility for these strikes! Your equipment, your radars, your planes have been destroyed! And after all that, you stay quiet? Trump swallowed the insult.
Just see the pictures. We in Lebanon have a long experience in this area. Go and see the footage from Trump’s press conference on January 8 in the morning. The Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Defense Secretary and the commanders of the United States armed forces were standing, and Trump arrived. What did their faces express? Did they express a victorious America? A powerful America? America in a position of strength and arrogance? An America that has just defeated its enemies? Or was it, on the contrary, a scene of mourning in the White House? Just look at their faces! Review the images, and observe their faces (carefully)!
And when Trump talked about the situation, he immediately went in another direction. ‘As long as I am President, Iran will not have nuclear weapons. They will never get nuclear weapons.’ What a joke! Iran has no desire for nuclear weapons! Who is he kidding? He talked about something else, and he swallowed the insult. He made it clear that the United States would not use a military response but economic sanctions.
Why? Why is that? Simply put, o my brothers and sisters, because Iran is powerful. Because Iran is brave. Because Iran is capable. What prevented Trump (from retaliating) ? I’m sure that when they met that night, the military said to him: if you decide to strike Iran, you must know that they have already pointed their missiles at all our bases and that all of them will be struck (immediately, which will cause thousands of victims among our troops). And the Iranians have let the Americans know, via intermediaries, and have also publicly announced that if the United States retaliates, they will immediately strike all American bases in the region as well as Israel. And the US military told Trump that they are unable to defend their bases, as the example of Ain al-Assad has shown, and that things would certainly escalate to war. And who claims that Trump is willing to head for war? (Nobody!)
I add to that the extraordinarily massive funeral (of Soleimani) in Iran. Its importance should not be underestimated. This is part of the message of colossal power sent (by Iran to its enemies). The decision to retaliate is not only that of the Leader or of political and military decision-makers, it is a decision of the entire Iranian people! This is what the Iranian people have longed for. The Iranian people was ready for war to defend his honor, and to avenge the blood of his eminent and grand martyr, Hajj Qassem Soleimani.
And that’s why, in all simplicity, Trump piped down, he swallowed his pride and backed away. And he made a speech devoid of any threat. And of course, he repeated his lies: ‘I call on Iran to negotiate (with the United States). I call on Iran to cooperate…’ And who expressed himself in these terms? The one who the previous night received 11 huge missiles on his forces at the base of Ain al-Assad. ‘I call on Iran to cooperate on our common interests such as the fight against ISIS.’ You hypocrite, you pretend to want to fight ISIS when you have just murdered the two biggest commanders in the region who have fought and inflicted countless defeats on ISIS? While ISIS celebrated their death so gleefully?
Trump again declares to the Iranian people: ‘I only wish prosperity for you.’ But what a shameless liar! Are you pretending to want prosperity for the Iranian people when you impose on him sanctions and a state of siege, the most severe siege in the history of Iran? And he said again, not during this press conference, but in meetings and interviews later, he repeated his lies to the Americans. Because he has to put forward a good reason (for what he did). The Americans asked him where he led the country, what situation he put them in, and he had to justify his assassination of Soleimani & Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis with a pretext. Anyway, because my state of clergyman does not allow me to show you or describe the images, I invite you to watch the cartoons published by the Washington Post. These cartoons are a commentary on the Iranian missiles launched against the Al-Assad base and Trump’s stance. Look at them.
In order to put forward an (admissible) pretext, he claims that he ordered the murder of Soleimani because he was about to blow up American embassies in the region. Liar! He lies to his people! And it is well known that he is the greatest liar in the history of the United States of America. All American Presidents were liars, but the biggest liar in their history is unquestionably Trump. In no case did Hajj Qassem Soleimani plan to attack American embassies. Never in his life, never ever. It was not part of his plans, or even of his ideas. It never crossed his mind (because embassies are civilian and therefore illegitimate targets). These are Trump’s lies that seek to cover up the real reasons for the crime he perpetrated.
Anyway, this silence of the United States after this (humiliating) slap from Iran is also a lesson addressed to all (the other countries) so that they be courageous, have confidence in their capacities and their power and have faith, and realize that as great and tyrannical the power of the United States can be, there are safeguards, limits, circumstances to which even American decision-makers must submit. It is therefore a mere slap in the path that we have just taken, and which should lead to the expulsion of all the American forces from our region.
I will now very quickly address the last point of my speech, namely the next steps that should lead us to this lofty goal. And I’m going to talk about two things in particular, very briefly.
The first point is related to Iraq. Why Iraq? Because it is the battlefield in which the crime was committed. After Iran, the first place that should be concerned with the response against the United States is Iraq. Here are the reasons in order of priority:
1 / because the crime was perpetrated on Iraqi territory, in the shadow of Iraqi sovereignty (which has been flouted), on the road to Baghdad airport;
2 / because the crime also targeted a very high ranking Iraqi commander, an official leader, the deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Units (Hashd al-Cha’bi); he is a commander of the official Hashd al-Cha’bi force (integrated into the Iraqi national army);
3 / because the crime targeted Hajj Qassem Soleimani and his Iranian brothers who defended Iraq and sacrificed themselves for the Iraqi people.
Iraq is therefore the first country, after Iran, which has the duty to respond to this crime. The first response took place during the (mass) funeral of the martyrs, and in the position expressed by religious leaders, scholars, politicians, religious education establishments and the Iraqi people.
The second response was the stance of the head of the Council of Ministers and the Iraqi Parliament, who demanded the departure of the American forces.
And by the way, I hope that Mas’oud Barzani (Kurdish separatist leader) will be grateful for the benefits brought by Hajj Qassem Soleimani, which he acknowledged many years ago. Today, you need to (publicly) acknowledge these benefits. When ISIS was on the verge of reaching Erbil (in Iraqi Kurdistan), when all of Kurdistan was on the verge of falling into the hands of ISIS, and you contacted all your friends to help you, but they forsake you, you then contacted the Iranians, who from the second day, as you acknowledged, sent you Hajj Qassem Soleimani with his brothers. And I add that he was accompanied by Hezbollah brothers, who went with him to Erbil. And they all told me that Mas’oud Barzani was trembling, his two hands were literally trembling with fear and terror. But it was the rapid presence of Hajj Qassem Soleimani and the Islamic Republic of Iran at your side that repelled this danger which threatened you all, and which has never been seen in the history of Kurdistan.
Today, you have a duty to acknowledge these benefits and to participate in the response alongside other leaders in the Iraqi government, the Iraqi Parliament and the Iraqi forces.
Be that as it may, the authentic response, one of the most important elements of the authentic response, is to expel American forces from Iraq. The Iraqi Parliament has already taken a step in this direction, and we are grateful for that, because it is a grandiose, capital, courageous, bold and important decision. The head of the Council of Ministers, Sayed Abd al-Mahdi, who follows the implementation of this decision with courage and sincerity, and publicly asked Pompeo to send a delegation to negotiate the stages of the withdrawal of the US forces, all this is closely followed by the leaders, officials and people of Iraq. And if this is followed up seriously, the departure of American troops will be an inevitable certainty, and the best response to this infamous crime. This is what Hajj Qassem and Abu Mahdi aspired to: they wanted to see Iraq liberated from the occupation, cleansed of all the terrorist forces which are protected by the officers of the occupying US forces and their helicopters, that move the leaders and ISIS commanders from one province to another (to save them). It was their highest hope. And this responsibility falls on the Iraqi people. And if the Americans do not go out voluntarily, the Iraqi people will know how to force them out, as will the factions of the Resistance.
Of course, we must know that the American administration will do everything possible to delay the implementation of this historic decision by the Iraqis, by playing on internal dissension, reviving sedition, threatening sanctions and confiscation of Iraq’s property and deposits that are in the United States. The United States puts the Iraqi people before two choices: ‘Either you force me out and I will punish you by confiscating your money, or I will continue to occupy you and plunder your oil and your choices.’ So choose, o Iraqis. This is what Trump wants for Iraq. He wants your oil, he wants your sovereignty, he wants to take over your country. It will be up to the Iraqis to choose.
The second and final point of my speech is the steadfastness of the Resistance Axis on its path. After the slap of Ain al-Assad, and, with the Grace of God, and the developments under way in Iraq, I consider that the Resistance Axis must start to act. We must start to act. What we all said a few days ago (we vowed to expell the US forces from the region) is not an empty promise. It was not a vain statement meant to boast, to absorb the blow that was dealt to the Resistance Axis or to cheer up people. Never. The Axis of Resistance is serious, sincere and pragmatic in achieving the grandiose goal it has set for itself. And the days, weeks and months to come will demonstrate this unequivocally. I said it was a long way. It is a difficult road. The Americans must withdraw from their bases; their soldiers, their officers and their warships must leave our region. They must leave (voluntarily). The alternative… I’m going to speak the opposite of what I said last Sunday. I said that they came to our region in a vertical position (and would leave in a horizontal position, in coffins). Now, I tell them this: either you get out voluntarily on your two legs, in a vertical position, or you will leave in a horizontal position (in coffins). This is the alternative available to you. And this is a final and irrevocable decision of the Resistance Axis. It’s just a matter of time. There will be no hindsight on this issue. Anyone who imagines that this grandiose event, this grandiose martyrdom, this pure blood which has been unjustly shed, will be forgotten after a few months or a few years, is greatly mistaken. Never. We are talking about the start of a new phase, a new stage, a new era in the region. And the days to come will let you see it with your own eyes (our first actions to kick US forces out will be visible to all). I don’t need to dwell on this any further.
This is the responsibility of the (Arab-Muslim) Nation, of the whole Nation. I know with certainty that today, our peoples have the height of soul, spirit and aspiration required, they have a high forehead, courage and are daring without limits, they have a disposition to sacrifice and a lucid conscience. It is the case everywhere in our Arab-Muslim world. The current dangers are well understood by all, (as is the need to uproot them definitively by expelling the American occupier, who is the main cause of most if not all of our problems).
The American administration and the American murderers will pay the price for this crime and all the other crimes they have committed and continue to commit in our region and in our countries. They will pay dearly for it, and they will find out that they were wrong in their calculations.
After the martyrdom of Hajj Qassem Soleimani and Hajj Abu Mahdi, I listened to statements by Trump, Vice President Pence, the Secretary of State, the Defense Secretary, the National Security Advisor and of the United States Congress who all claimed that the world is a safer place after the assassination of Soleimani. You are deluding yourself! You are grossly mistaken! And you will soon realize it. You will realize it by the blood (of your soldiers & officials). You will soon find out. Which world is safer? The world of those whose territory is occupied? The world of the oppressed? The world of peoples? The Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan, Pakistani, Yemeni, Bahraini people, the peoples of the region? Are you talking about these people? Certainly not. You talk about the world of the Zionists, the world of the occupiers, the world of the despots and the tyrants. The days to come will reveal to you that after the martyrdom of Soleimani, the world will be very different (from what it was): there will be no more security for the tyrants, murderers, criminals and despots.
I will stop here for today. […]
“Any amount counts, because a little money here and there, it’s like drops of water that can become rivers, seas or oceans…” Hassan Nasrallah