Full speech by Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, on August 7, 2020, devoted to the explosion at the port of Beirut.
- The tragic context requires a sacred union, in order to overcome the humanitarian crisis, and not to settle political accounts; Hezbollah has mobilized all its resources to help the victims
- All the accusations claiming Hezbollah is somewhat responsible are outrageous, because Hezbollah has never had any activity, no warehouse and no role or control over what goes on in the port; this slander is an incitement to civil war
- At this stage of the investigation, no hypothesis can be ruled out as to the intentional or accidental nature of the explosion, but criminal negligence seems to be proven in all cases.
- An impartial investigation must identify and severely punish all the culprits, and break with the traditional sectarianism of the judicial system which judges people according to their political and religious affiliation; without a fair & transparent trial and full accountability, Lebanon will always be a failed State
- The Lebanese army is the body most able to carry out this investigation, and all the calls to form an international commission of inquiry are only delaying tactics aimed at perpetuating the establishment and impunity.
- Lebanon must use the current opportunities to overcome the US embargo and revive its economy
- All those who hope to weaken Hezbollah through this crisis demonstrate their moral bankruptcy and lack of lucidity
Prior to this terrible event, I had announced a speech for Wednesday (August 5), and I intended to speak about several issues which were the hottest news at the time, namely:
– the situation on the border between Lebanon and occupied Palestine, and the ongoing clash between Hezbollah and the Israeli enemy;
– the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (and the expected verdict) on August 7 (concerning the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005);
– the coronavirus, its development and the recent increase of cases in Lebanon;
– the oil shortages and the gasoline crisis in the country;
– other questions related to the regional situation.
But when the catastrophic event happened on Tuesday (August 4), I decided to postpone my speech, and today I am not going to bring up any of these topics, but only talk about one point, namely the cataclysmic event that occurred (in the port of Beirut) and the humanitarian crisis that engulfed Lebanon and the Lebanese people in recent days.
[A major and unprecedented cataclysm]
Regarding the event itself, first of all, we are faced with a colossal incident, a great tragedy, be it from a humanitarian or national perspective, or by any (other) criteria. There are more than 150 martyrs, the vast majority being Lebanese. Notably, there are a large number of Syrian martyrs, and martyrs of various nationalities. There are thousands of injured. The latest figures speak of nearly 80 missing people. As a precaution, let’s talk about dozens of missing people. There are tens of thousands of families who had to leave their homes damaged (and rendered uninhabitable) by the explosion. Thousands and even tens of thousands of people have lost their property, their source of livelihood, their business. (Not to mention) the state of fear and even terror that has indeed struck the hearts of millions of people, and not hundreds of thousands of people, for the inhabitants of Beirut and its suburbs make up almost half of the population of Lebanon, if not more [Lebanon’s population is almost 7 million]. The buildings were shaken to the point that people believed there was a huge earthquake, and each neighborhood felt like the explosion was happening in its own neighborhood. What people have experienced in terms of fear and worry, be it men, women or children (is indescribable).
Of course, the consequences of all of this are huge and very dangerous, as are the (apocalypse) scenes we have all seen. We are facing an event which has considerable consequences on the humanitarian, economic, health and social levels. Concretely, the port of Beirut was almost completely destroyed, which implies a necessary reconstruction of the port, with economic repercussions which are added to the serious financial and social crisis which the country was already going through. In short, at all levels, we are facing a major cataclysm.
I extend my sincere condolences to all the families of martyrs… One thing should be stressed: you know that Lebanon, in general, is divided along sectarian and regional lines, and that a region can be affected (by a problem) without affecting another. But this explosion has crossed sectarian and regional lines: there are martyrs and wounded from all sects, and all the neighborhoods & regions (of the capital) have been affected. Beirut is the city of all Lebanese, and embraces all Lebanese. The inhabitants of Beirut are a microcosm of all Lebanese people, in their different regional, religious and sectarian affiliations. This tragedy made no distinction.
I therefore extend my sincere condolences to all the families of martyrs, and I ask God the Most High and the Exalted to inspire them with patience and endurance in the face of the loss of their loved ones, and I also ask Him to grant a speedy recovery to all the injured and to all those who have been affected (in one way or another). I ask God the Most High and the Exalted to inspire them all with the patience and the ability to bear and endure (this tragedy), and to grant the determination (required) to overcome this terrible ordeal to all those who have been affected, whether in their relatives, homes, livelihoods or property, or who have been displaced from their homes. I ask Him to give them the patience, endurance and mutual assistance (required) to overcome this tragedy. Of course, this requires the Grace of God the Most High and the Exalted, and the cooperation, effort and sacrifice of all.
By this brief description, I wanted to indicate that we are facing an exceptional event, at least in the modern history of Lebanon, which requires exceptional behavior at all levels, whether at the psychological level, at the level of action on the ground, at the media, political and judicial levels: all measures must be strong and exceptional because of the major and unprecedented nature of this event.
Of course, man is unable to express (as it should) his feelings in front of our people, our beloved ones in Beirut and its suburbs, in all the districts of Beirut and its suburbs, and put into words the suffering, sadness, sorrow (that we feel), as well as our solidarity and our presence by their side, and our (sense of) common responsibility.
Likewise, in the face of this event and its consequences, and I will now turn to the other points, we were able to see several things in Lebanon. I want to talk about each scene, comment on it and take a stance.
[The sacred union of the Lebanese people and their institutions]
First, the popular scene alongside the State. Since the first hours, very naturally, the departments concerned, the security, military and health authorities, civil defense, emergency services, firefighters, all have been on the ground, but what is remarkable is the popular atmosphere, the ardor of the people in all regions, this rapid presence of many civil and popular groups and associations, whether they are firefighters, ambulance workers, rescue organizations, volunteers, in order to help the State authorities, because this situation exceeded the capacities of the State, whether it be hospitals, doctors, nurses, blood donations… It is perhaps the first time that Hezbollah officially appealed for blood donation, and thank goodness all the required blood was obtained, even though the number of injured was huge from the start.
This atmosphere of compassion & popular responsiveness has also continued in the clearing of debris, the cleaning of streets, houses and squares, and we still see a massive presence of volunteers in these squares. A (large) number of municipalities and communities, religious associations and political forces, families and houses have announced their willingness to guarantee housing for those who have lost their homes, whether it is temporary damage or total destruction. Despite all the financial and social crises that the country is going through, we have seen such a level of compassion and solidarity. Of course, we also have to consider the psychological and emotional side that has reached a high level of excellence, namely this (massive) ardor, this sadness, this compassion. At the popular level, we do not see abuse or indifference, everyone feels concerned, everyone is affected. These are the emotions of the inhabitants. We must give this scene (of popular solidarity) a very high grade, at the level of civilization, humanity, ethics, nation, emotions. It is evidence of the conscience, life, soul, culture, ethics and humanitarian and national feeling of our people in all regions, in all sects and in all places.
[Total mobilization of Hezbollah to rescue and relocate the victims]
Of course, as far as Hezbollah is concerned in this regard, from the first moments, the presence of our bodies, our associations, our members and our popular base, the municipalities and communities in which we are represented or present, I considers that they did not spare any effort, and that they were present (massively). And today, I confirm once again that Hezbollah, at the level of all its bodies, associations and staff, and of all our human and material resources, we are entirely at the service of the Lebanese State and the Lebanese government, and of the relevant ministries, and we are available to all our people and all our fellow citizens who have been affected by this tragedy.
Of course, I want to stress our relocation project for disaster victims, because we have had a lot of experience in this regard since the 2006 war, and I hope people will take it with due seriousness. And I confirm once again what the president of the community of municipalities of the southern suburbs of Beirut and various municipalities in Lebanon announced: any family who has lost their home, and who need time to clear or repair this home, and needs a temporary accommodation in the meantime, we are open, happy and ready to help these families through this project, with the Grace of God. It is not acceptable for a single family to remain on the streets, nor for them to feel like a burden on their relatives or friends who host them because they have requested them. Temporary housing can be provided until further notice, in order to give them time to return home as soon as possible, when their homes have been repaired and cleared.
[Exceptional international solidarity despite US sanctions]
The second scene was abroad, namely the positions of many States and governments in the world, of the great religious authorities in the world, Muslims and Christians, Sunnis and Shiites, political forces, Resistance movements, leaders, scholars, elites, media, parties, etc. Lebanon and the Lebanese people have been the object of great compassion internationally, and many countries have announced their readiness to provide assistance, while we are under siege: the United States has clearly announced that they were not going to besiege a group or a party, as some try to claim, but all of Lebanon. If only they were content to besiege only one party or group! This is what we have been asking for from the start! You have a problem with us (Hezbollah), so besiege us, and only us, without chastising and making a whole country and a people pay the price!
Anyway, we thank all the countries that sent us aid, all the friends and brothers, Arab, Islamic and other countries, the whole international community. Some have announced that they will help us, and we hope they will keep their word (without fear of US sanctions). Likewise, delegations & ministers from various countries came, and the most visible was the visit of the French President to Lebanon. We positively view any help and compassion with Lebanon, and any visit to Lebanon in these days, especially if it is part of aid to Lebanon, or a call for cooperation and dialogue between Lebanese. We look at this kind of visit (in a positive way). We want to focus on the positive side. Perhaps some call for vigilance and concern (over the hidden motives of these visits), and express fears (of interference which may be legitimate), but at the present stage we prefer to consider this kind of visit in its positive aspect and focus on the positive side, (at least) for the time being. [Note: the section of the speech concerning France was read verbatim by Nasrallah on a statement prepared in advance, while for the rest of his speech he spoke spontaneously and had only prepared notes; this reflects Hezbollah’s mistrust and lucidity in the face of Macron’s initiative and outrageous statements of interference, which he prefers not to comment on for the time being in order to remain in a perspective of sacred union; it should be noted that the main politicians behind the explosion appear to be France’s closest friends, namely the Hariri clique.]
Therefore, this external and international scene was on the whole positive, and was full of compassion, and I consider that this opens an opportunity for Lebanon, as a State and as a people —I will come back to this in conclusion— to get help, and open a way out in the face of the state of siege and the difficulties that Lebanon was going through recently.
[The moral bankruptcy of Hezbollah’s opponents]
The first and second scenes are therefore positive, but the third scene (which I want to evoke) is the internal Lebanese political scene, and certain external elements. In general, it is said that dignified peoples, who have a certain level of culture and ethics, a certain sense of responsibility and humanity, a sense of national interest, even when there are struggles and disputes among themselves, when a great national tragedy occurs, or a terrible event occurs, everyone temporarily freezes their struggles and disputes, as well as their personal calculations, to rise above all these (partisan) considerations, and to behave on a nobler ethical and human basis, and everyone helps each other to overcome this tragedy or this catastrophe. Once the crisis is over, things can resume their usual course. Things are like this (in general) all over the world.
Sometimes we have even seen that in the midst of war, when a tragic event such as a massacre occurs, the enemies conclude a truce, a ceasefire, even in the midst of war! It does happen and it is well known (even against Israel), but I will not waste time citing examples. But outside of war, within the same country, where there is a government, an opposition, rival political forces, when a catastrophe affects everyone, all regions, all families. What happened was not a tragedy that only targeted certain categories of the population, no. In general, in such situations (of national disaster), differences are temporarily put aside, and everyone helps and cooperates (even with their political opponents), and adopts more dignified language, with different sentiments, and different statements and political speeches. Likewise, the media behave differently, with humanity and ethics, each granting a respite (to their adversaries), if only for a few days, at least a few days (of truce)! I’m not talking about months or years, no, a few days, (one or) two weeks! To give people time to recover the remains of their martyrs, to heal their wounds, to visit the wounded, to assert the fate of the missing people, to put out the fires, to clear the debris, to find a way to relocate the displaced, etc. After that, we can reopen the accounts (and rekindle the rivalries), no problem.
[A cabal of calumnies]
But unfortunately what happened in Lebanon with this incident is that from the first hours of this tragedy and this cataclysm, and even from the first hour, not the first hours, when no one yet knew what was going on or had happened… In the first moments, people spoke of an earthquake, and it was only later that it was established that it was an explosion . (We still had to determine) what type of explosion it was, where in the port it had taken place, what had exploded, what was in the hangar that exploded, how did the explosion happen, was it an accident or an intentional act, etc. Even before anyone knew the answer to these questions, the Lebanese and Arab media, and certain political forces expressed through their official social networks, and even through some public statements by officials… These are not from obscure people running (Twitter or Facebook) accounts, but statements on television and in the media, made as soon as the explosion was known to the public, and while the fires in the port were not yet extinguished, and the destruction and amazement was the lot of all the Lebanese and the whole world. But these people spoke out in the media and announced their position before they knew anything. Their position was decided in advance: the cause of the explosion in hangar number so-and-so at the port of Beirut was a Hezbollah missile warehouse that exploded and caused this unprecedented terror and cataclysm. Or, they said it was stockpiles of Hezbollah ammunition, explosives, or weapons. The bottom line is that it must have belonged to Hezbollah, whether it was missiles, ammunition, explosives … And then, even when the official authorities announced that it was not missiles, weapons, ammunition, explosives or anything like that, but (ammonium) nitrate used as a fertilizer or an explosive, these people said that this nitrate belonged to Hezbollah, that it was the Hezbollah that brought it, that it was Hezbollah that stored it for 6 years, and again Hezbollah, Hezbollah, Hezbollah.
Without even knowing whether this explosion was criminal or accidental, whether it was an accident due to fire or otherwise, or whether it was an attack, or, as some have claimed, an air attack, missile or whatever, none of that interested these people at all. Accident or crime, missile, drone, fire, etc., they didn’t care. The important thing was to affirm that this hangar belonged to Hezbollah. Why? So that they could tell the Lebanese people, the inhabitants of Beirut, the inhabitants of the suburbs of Beirut, to all the Lebanese, that the one who had destroyed their houses, killed their children and their relatives, destroyed their port, their livelihood and their property, had injured thousands of you and terrorized you, it was Hezbollah, Hezbollah was responsible for everything.
Of course, this is a huge injustice done to us, a crime, and I don’t know if this can be seen as falling within the scope of free speech, freedom of the press (or rather defamation and incitement to hatred and violence). These questions need to be debated. At the moment… Let me talk a little about our feelings. We are among the killed and injured. Among the martyrs and the wounded, there are our relatives, our supporters, Hezbollah members. All these people have a job, they are workers, they have cars, they gave first aid (many firefighters and rescuers died), etc. Likewise, our feelings extend to all of our people, not just those who support Hezbollah. We are filled with sincere friendship for all Lebanese, and we are very moved by what happened. While in the throes of tragedy, we endured on top of that the suffering of oppression (these slanderous accusations). Some have told me it is not worth talking about. No. I have to talk about it, for sure! For the degree of oppression (constituted by these gratuitous attacks) is exceptional: just as the event is exceptional, the oppression inflicted on us is unprecedented. Even before an investigation was launched, before anyone knew what happened, some media, some Lebanese and Arab TV channels, since the incident began and until now —they haven’t changed their tune— asserted that the hangar belonged to Hezbollah, that what exploded was Hezbollah missiles, Hezbollah explosives, Hezbollah nitrate, Hezbollah, Hezbollah, Hezbollah, Hezbollah… We heard nothing else from them, because there is no other (hypothesis) for them. It is a great crime committed against us. And their method has been to lie, lie, lie and lie and lie again, until people believe it. And it seems that some people, because of the pangs of tragedy and disaster, and the media hype (putting the blame on us), it is possible that it had an influence on some, although in general we rely on people’s awareness and lucidity, and their knowledge that these sources have no credibility, and have a whole history of lies, deception, inventions, falsifications and inversion of reality.
[Hezbollah has never had any activities or storage in the port]
Despite the fact that, as some of us have said, these accusations (are so ludicrous that they) do not deserve an answer, if there is anyone that can be affected by these allegations, perhaps some will say that Hezbollah has not made any statement or denial or comment, and out of respect for reasoned minds and public opinion, I would like to stress and confirm today: I deny in a firm, categorical, absolute, final, total and definite way that Hezbollah has absolutely nothing in the port. There is no weapons warehouse, no missile stock, not a single rocket, a single rifle, a single grenade, a single bullet, (a single drop) of nitrate, there is nothing of all this, neither in a hangar nor outside a hangar, neither now nor in the past, there is nothing and there never has been anything. Nothing at all. There is absolutely none of that. Either way, the results of the investigation will be known soon, and everything will be proven and demonstrated, because such things cannot be hidden. If the blast in the harbor was due to missiles, ammunition, weapons or anything military, the investigation will (infallibly) reveal it. As for nitrate, we already know where it came from, who brought it into the country, how many years it was stored there, etc. All of this will be established and confirmed by the investigation. I don’t need more than this brief denial, because all I care about is that no one would give credit to these lies and fabrications (because of Hezbollah’s silence), and to denounce this enormous oppression inflicted on Hezbollah and the Resistance in Lebanon.
Of course, some opted for another wave (of slanderous accusations) when they saw that the majority of local media, commentary and data (favored another direction)… Even Trump, for example, in the White House, walked in this direction at first, talking about a possible bomb, or whatever, but the United States backed out. I have seen yesterday and today that the majority of international media and journalists have abandoned the hypothesis (of a stockpile of Hezbollah weapons), except for a few voices in Lebanon and the Arab world. Thus, those who launched (this slander) are now all alone (to support it), because all the media and all the voices in the world are anxious to keep a minimum of credibility, even if they are our enemies engaged in a political war against us; but when it turns out that the accusation is clearly a lie as shiny as the sun at its zenith, they (have enough good sense to) back off and conjure up other possibilities.
[Hezbollah has no control over the port and has never interfered in its affairs]
Another thing some people have said is that Hezbollah controls the port of Beirut, run it and supervise it, and that nothing can happen in the port without us knowing it, seeing it and giving our consent, etc. These are also lies, deception, forgery and great injustice (against us). We don’t run the port, we don’t control it, we don’t oversee it, we don’t interfere in its management or affairs, and we had no idea what was going on in the port and what was (stored) in the port. Some objected: “Is it possible that you are more aware of what is in the port of Haifa (reference to the stocks of ammonia that Nasrallah threatened to target in the event of Israeli strikes on Lebanese infrastructure) than what is in the port of Beirut?” Of course! Hezbollah’s primary responsibility is resistance (against Israel), and it is normal that Hezbollah be more aware of the port of Haifa than of the port of Beirut, which is not our responsibility, while the port of Haifa is our responsibility, because it is part of the deterrence equation and the defense strategy of Lebanon. But Hezbollah does not rule, control, interfere or know anything about what is going on in the port of Beirut, what is there and what is not there, how things are managed, it is a matter that we ignore and in which we do not interfere at all. But anyway, we will continue to hear this (second) wave (of accusations), these (false) allegations, because if the hangar does not belong to Hezbollah, we must find something else to blame Hezbollah for the tragedy. Because as far as these oppressors are concerned, the important thing is to place one responsibility or another on Hezbollah, and to look for a pretext, an allegation, a lie, a forgery (which allows it). I’ll ay no more on this issue.
[Defamation and the incitment to civil war must be punished severely]
Either way, investigations are ongoing, and the truths will emerge quickly, as this is not a question that will take time. I believe that the criminal, security, military and technical investigation will be able to quickly establish (with certainty) what was in the hangar, what was the nature of the explosives and how it was triggered, because at the technical level, this does not require much time, and the truths can be expected to come to light quickly.
When the truths come to light, I hope that the Lebanese public opinion, in all regions of Lebanon, because in our country there is a problem in terms of punishments and responsibilities, and in the name of freedom of opinion and expression, some (media and politicians) accuse, insult, abuse, oppress and lead the country to the brink of civil war, and (despite all this), ultimately, the Criminal Court imposes them a (mere) fine of 10 to 50 million Lebanese pounds (6,000 to 35,000 dollars), and it stops there. What I want to ask the Lebanese people is that they should themselves judge these media (and politicians) and condemn them. In what way? By ceasing to give them the least credit, the least importance, and by ceasing to consult them or to look at them. Because when we know that such media has no credibility, and that it is based on lies, manipulation and falsification, and that it participates in the battle that targets our country (to destroy it), then we must condemn them and turn our backs on them for good. And it is in my opinion the most important punishment (that can befall) these false and falsifying television stations which push to the civil war. This should not be taken lightly! This is not a (simple) political accusation. When somebody comes and tells hundreds of thousands of people that it is Hezbollah who is responsible for this carnage, all these deaths and injuries, all this destruction and all this displacement, what is it (if not pushing the country towards civil war)?
[A political instrumentalisation of the crisis]
On the other hand, still concerning the political scene, on the other hand we saw the political instrumentalisation of the incident, and all those who had a problem with so and so reopened this problem (in this tragic context), whether it is the Lebanese National Pact, the government or other political forces, and of course those who have a problem with us. Today, I do not want to open an argument with anyone, and we are putting off (the settling of accounts) for later because we remain attached to avoid settling political or personal disputes, out of ethical, humanitarian and national considerations. This is the time for solidarity, compassion, mutual aid, to heal wounds, to clear debris, to determine the fate of the missing, to treat the wounded, to help people return home, which is a vital priority. The country needs this kind of attitude and calm for several days in order to overcome the crisis. Then we can talk politics and settle accounts. Our position will be firm. And as for certain analyzes which compare the current situation with previous experiences (assassination of Hariri in 2005, etc.) or build hopes (on capitalizing on this tragedy for political gains) like so many of their past illusions, (remember that) for a long time, some people (Hezbollah adversaries) chased after mirages, only to realize that they were all mirages, but I will talk about that later. At this point, I don’t want to get into these considerations, and I don’t want to attack anyone. I’ll put it off until later. The priority is compassion, cooperation and mutual aid, to overcome these days of pain, suffering and humanitarian crisis. Let’s put all the differences aside and get back to political (disputes) later.
[Impartial investigation and exemplary punishment for all those responsible are essential to save Lebanon]
My last point, which is most important, is investigation and retribution. A huge, terrible and dangerous event has happened. First, there must be an investigation. His Excellency the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister declared from the outset that there will be an impartial, resolute, firm, definitive and strong investigation, and that whoever will be identified as having a responsibility in this incident, by his actions or by negligence, corruption or insufficiency, will be held to account, whoever he is, big or small. Very well. It’s a good start. The Lebanese are now asking for action and effort (in this direction). I consider that faced with the shock of the event, there is national, popular and governmental unanimity, of all political parties and all deputies, etc., demanding that an exhaustive, frank, transparent, precise, fair and impartial investigation be carried out on this event, and that whoever bears any share of responsibility be judged and condemned in the most severe and exemplary manner —a fair punishment, of course (not a lynching). We are also among the voices that demand this loud and clear. We must not allow anyone to be covered or protected during the investigation, and truths to be withheld about anyone. It is not tolerable that the investigation and then the trial should be done in the “Lebanese fashion”, that is to say in this well-known way where one takes into account religious and sectarian calculations and balances. Anyone who was inadequate or negligent, instigated (this event) or engaged in corruption, has no religion or sect, as is the case with collaborators (of the Israeli enemy). They should be judged on the basis of what they have done, not on the basis of their sectarian, religious or political affiliation. Neither the investigation nor the trial should be conducted on a sectarian basis (requiring a precise ratio of Sunnis, Shiites or Christians). Whoever is in charge, whether they belong to several sects or are all from the same sect, whatever their political affiliation and group, whatever their family clan, truth and justice must prevail and determine the position, the investigation and the punishment.
[The investigation must be carried out by the Lebanese army, the only institution with unanimous support]
Likewise, with regard to the investigation, one hears calls, opinions and thoughts. I want to address certain political forces who are talking about the question of the investigation (and asking that it be done by international bodies, like Macron did). The official security authorities are quite capable of carrying out this investigation: they have the technical capacity and the required expertise, that is certain. But you have doubts about their reliability (and impartiality). I ask you a question: because sometimes, political settling of accounts (are flagrant), and the thread of lies is short. All the political forces in Lebanon affirm their confidence in the Lebanese army, the national institution (par excellence), guarantor of stability and security in the country, guarantor of sovereignty. We have heard many poetic praises to the glory of the Lebanese National Army. Very well. So let the Lebanese army take care of the investigation. I believe that the services of the Lebanese army have already been requested, the military police it seems to me. If the Lebanese army is an institution that enjoys the confidence of all Lebanese people, all Lebanese political forces and all Lebanese leaders, let us entrust it with the task of carrying out the investigation, since you say you trust it! At least let the Army do the investigation, since you trust them! Let them investigate and reveal the findings, so that everyone can see them.
There is yet another choice. Maybe some Lebanese have confidence in one body, but not in another. It’s possible. So let’s form a plural investigative committee, where each security body which you trust will be present, even if in my opinion charging the army is sufficient, independently of the other bodies which can have the trust of some but not of others. Everyone says there is unanimity around the Army, so let the Army investigate! Let the military conduct the investigation, and let them announce its findings to all people, not just the courts, on their own responsibility. Let them declare that they, the Lebanese army, with their expertise, their capacities and their means, carried out an impartial and transparent investigation, and these are their conclusions, O Lebanese people, concerning the explosion which took place in the Port of Beirut. This will suffice to manifest the truth for all to see.
[Lebanon’s survival as a genuine State is at stake]
In this regard, I would also like to add something very important. Just as the event is exceptional, today the attitude of the Lebanese State towards this event will be in our eyes decisive and fateful. This will determine the future of Lebanon. In what way? Today it is not about the President of the Republic, the National Pact or the government (which can come and go at the whim of elections and crises). It is about (the safeguard of) the Lebanese State, (which will depend) on the way in which the authorities will behave in this regard, be it the judicial body, the army, the security services, and even the Chamber of Deputies. It is about (the sustainability) of the (Lebanese) State and its institutions. Everyone has some responsibility for the trial and the punishment. The way to act in the face of such a catastrophe, which has affected all sects, all neighborhoods and all regions, and must in no way be tinged with sectarianism, religion or politicization, a national and humanitarian tragedy par excellence, the way State institutions will behave about it, as well as political leaders and the various political forces in the country, will have a fateful consequence for the whole country. What will this fateful consequence be? How this tragedy is dealt with will determine in the eyes of the Lebanese people —and in my eyes the verdict will be irrevocable— whether there is a (genuine) State in Lebanon or not. The second question (which will find an irrevocable answer) is about the hope of building a State (in Lebanon). Because I tell you quite frankly: if the Lebanese State and the Lebanese political forces —whether in power or in the opposition—, in such a case and such a cause, do not achieve a result in the investigation, and fail to punish (all those responsible), it means that the Lebanese people, political forces, State institutions (are bankrupt), and that there is no hope to build an (authentic) State. I don’t want anybody to despair, but I accurately describe the reality.
But we must (all) work so that this despair does not happen, in order to confirm, create and sow hope (to see a real State) among the Lebanese. Today, all the calls to fight against corruption that may have denounced a biased judge, a cowardly judge, a force that buried court files for such or such consideration, (are eclipsed by the magnitude of this case). We have to see a heavy punishment, because even if the investigation reveals that it was an intentional act or an aerial bombardment, the fact that this nitrate was stored in this way for 6 or 7 years clearly implies that there was a (criminal) negligence, inadequacy and corruption on the part of judges. This is where the war on corruption must (be a priority)! If in this case all those who call for a war on corruption, and we are part of it, if we are unable to do anything (to identify and punish all the culprits), it means that we are unable to do anything (forever). Game over. We will frankly declare to the Lebanese people that it is impossible to fight corruption, to fight neglect and insufficiency, and we will say, “O Lebanese people, you have no State and there is no hope of building an (authentic) State, so it’s up to you to see what you can do with yourselves”. To me, such is the magnitude of the question. So that people do not say later that it was a tragedy (without culprits) and forget about the matter, we make it clear that as far as we are concerned, it is impossible to forget this disaster, to move on and to allow let it be neglected. The whole truth must be revealed about this tragedy, and those responsible must be tried without any protection, whether political, sectarian or partisan. If that doesn’t happen, yes, I will consider that there is a crisis of the regime, a crisis of the State, maybe even a crisis of the (Lebanese) entity, some will be entitled to go this far. And some people try to ignore it, one way or another.
Therefore, I call on State officials, at all levels and in all authorities, to show the utmost seriousness and determination, whether to complete the investigation or to judge and blame, and chastise all those responsible for this tragedy. This is required so that the leaders and the political forces can give hope to the Lebanese people that there are authorities, a State and institutions, or at least that there is hope that a State be erected on the basis of truth, justice, transparency and the protection of the Lebanese, because sometimes the consequences of corruption, negligence and incompetence accumulate and become apparent after several years, and can be destructive, like what happened in this terrible event where in seconds, in a matter of seconds, tens of people were killed or missing, thousands were injured, hundreds of thousands of families were affected and had to leave their homes… And some people say that God prevented an even greater tragedy, and that if this hangar had not been so close to the sea, and without such and such peculiarities of the site, if this same amount of nitrate had exploded in a different geographic configuration, perhaps the whole city (of Beirut) would have been destroyed. All this in an instant, in a matter of seconds, because of corruption, neglect and incompetence, and no one should say it is simply because of the intricacies of the bureaucracy. Never. We are talking about stocks that could completely destroy the capital and certain suburbs (in an instant). The blame cannot be blamed on the intricacies of bureaucracy.
[Lebanon must seize the opportunities of the crisis]
In conclusion —because I won’t be long today— I would like to finish with two points.
First point, in these days of tragedy, humanitarian catastrophe and sacrifice —because even today there have been sacrifices, martyrs, wounded, displaced persons, means of subsistence destroyed, an enormous weight added on the the Lebanese economy and the Lebanese State—, (we must not forget) that from the abyss of crises, from the matrix of crises, opportunities arise, whether they are internal, regional or international opportunities. The international attitude towards this event is an opportunity that the Lebanese must seize and take advantage of, both State and people, and they must not let these opportunities be lost because of their differences. We must seek out the opportunities that have been created by these crises and take advantage of them in a united manner and through cooperation.
[Hezbollah’s enemies must stop chasing mirages]
And the second and last point to conclude, is that I declare to all those who, from the first moment, launched a campaign against us, against the Resistance and against the Axis of Resistance, trying to take advantage of this tragedy, you will get nowhere, and I tell you that frankly and sincerely. I also declare to the masses (who support) the Resistance, and some of whom are perhaps worried, scared, wonder what is the (underlying) atmosphere, if this is a big regional or international plot , (I reassure them by reminding them) that the regional situation is very different (from what it was before), as is the international situation (much more favorable to us than ever). We are very different from what we were, and so is the (Axis of) the Resistance (we are stronger than ever), so there is really nothing to worry about (for us). These people (our adversaries) run after mirages, as they have always run after mirages. All of their choices have always been doomed to failure and defeat.
And I say this to our adversaries: just as you have been disappointed and defeated (in all your past undertakings: Special Tribunal for Lebanon, 2006 war, war in Syria, etc.), you will once again be disappointed and defeated. You will not achieve anything. This Resistance, by its credibility, its sincerity, by the confidence of the Lebanese people in it, by its (victorious) battles, by its positions, by its attitude and its behavior, and by its strength, its place in the country and in the region, is too large, too strong and too noble for it to be tainted by (the slanders) of certain oppressors, liars and falsifiers of the truth, who (constantly) incite sectarian rivalry, and who encourage civil war. They have always worked at this and have always failed, and they will fail again.
May God have mercy on the martyrs, and heal (promptly) the wounded, and I hope that by His Grace, the missing will be found alive; even if they are hurt God will heal them. May God grant patience and endurance to the families of the victims, as well as patience, relief and determination to all the families who have been affected and have suffered from this tragedy, be they our families in Beirut or in the suburbs of Beirut. With the Grace of God, through the mutual aid and solidarity of all, and the endurance of the State in its various institutions, as well as the efforts of political forces and the Lebanese people in its various categories, we will succeed in overcoming this ordeal and build a better tomorrow, and come out of it stronger and more resolute in our determination to persevere, endure and be victorious.
Peace be upon you, as well as the mercy of God and His blessings.
“Any amount counts, because a little money here and there, it’s like drops of water that can become rivers, seas or oceans…”