Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned Arab regimes Tuesday that only free peoples, and not “armies and intelligence organizations,” could protect them from the military might of the United States. “The greatest lesson to be learned (from the US-led war against Iraq) is that a country that is fragmented or ruled by repression has no future when faced by a superior enemy,” Nasrallah said. “We and our regimes must learn the lesson … An army and intelligence organizations can protect a regime against an unarmed people, but when they face a greater (military) power, they can’t protect the regime. It is the people that protects it.”
He also praised the performance of the Iraqi people during the war and its aftermath, predicting that they will choose the time and place of their eventual resistance to US “occupation.”
Nasrallah condemned US threats against Syria and Lebanon, calling for solidarity to help Damascus to “face this difficult period.”
The secretary-general of Hizbullah made the comments in the southern Beirut suburb of Rweis at an event to mark the eve of the anniversary of the 40th day following the death of Imam Hussein. In the Iraqi town of Karbala, meanwhile, some 2 million Shiites gathered to mark the day in freedom for the first time in decades.
The “beginning of the end of the Israeli era in Lebanon” he argued, was marked by the first commemoration of Ashura in the town of Nabatieh after the Jewish state’s 1982 invasion.
Nasrallah pledged that Wednesday’s commemoration of the 40th day for Imam Hussein would also mark the “beginning of the end of the American era” in Iraq. He urged his audience to observe closely the gatherings on Wednesday in Iraq and “read all of these slogans carefully to understand the future properly.”
“The Americans want us to see only defeat,” he said, hinting that the gatherings would mark a spirited resistance to the US presence in Iraq.
“Why are these millions going to Karbala?” he asked in his first major address after the conclusion of hostilities in Iraq. “To be inspired by Hussein’s spirit of revolution to fight injustice.”
“Millions will learn from Imam Hussein how to remain, not to hide or flee … how to sacrifice his family and wealth,” he added, in a reference to the disappearance of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and other leading symbols of the regime.
“When a leader and his people remain steadfast in the face of attackers, their memory will remain a source of inspiration for generations. Those who don’t will be forgotten by their people,” Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah said the US occupation forces were “smarter and more cunning” than repressive regimes, announcing that they had no problem with religious ceremonies in Iraq, or allowing political parties to operate freely. But the end result was the same, he argued, namely oppressing the country’s people.
He said “the Americans had planned for bigger and more dangerous things in their war against Iraq,” accusing Washington of “destroying our countries and coming to as saviors.”
Nasrallah said that the course of the war and post-war period showed that two American goals had been frustrated.
“Bush’s Zionist administration sought to make this a Christian-Islamic war,” he said, but was thwarted by anti-war stances taken by the Pope and a range of Christian churches.
The second failed policy, Nasrallah added, was provoking inter-sectarian conflict in Iraq.
He said that America sought to present a picture of Iraq’s Shiite community as supporting the war just to get rid of Saddam’s regime.
“Some voices were exploited and things were blown out of proportion,” he said. “But this danger was avoided due to the positions taken by Shiite religious authorities and the performance of the Iraqi people.”
Listing some of the “disastrous” results of the war, Nasrallah cited US occupation of Iraq, the frustration of many people who thought the invasion would be more costly for the US and Britain, divisions between Arab regimes and between Arab peoples, and “another wave of US and Israeli threats against Syria, Iran, Lebanon and resistance groups in Palestine.”
Nasrallah said that one negative image namely that of Iraqis looting their own country after the hostilities was an invention of the media.
“They tried to show Iraqis as ignorant and backward, but the Saddam Hussein regime and the US bear responsibility for this,” he said, blaming the Iraqi regime for not responding to his call for a reconciliation with its political opponents before the hostilities broke out.
He said the regime had released thousands of criminals prior to the war, and that this minority was responsible for the lawlessness.
Nasrallah called the amount of Iraqi resistance to the invasion “practically a miracle,” given the conditions in the country.
“The Americans expected a popular uprising against the regime, but this didn’t take place,” he said.
Another positive point, he said, was that “we in Lebanon, Palestine and elsewhere were not deceived by American slogans they haven’t been true to any of these things they said, such as liberation, freedom, democracy and reconstruction.”
Nasrallah said people were not being deceived, since the awarding of reconstruction contracts were awarded to American and British firms with no Iraqi input, aid was prevented from reaching the needy, and “the country has been divided into regions and American officers have been chosen to run them, and there is talk of establishing permanent US military bases.”
Without mentioning Al-Jazeera by name, Nasrallah accused it of being involved in “a conspiracy,” by embellishing a statement issued by a leading Shiite religious figure when US forces entered Shiite holy cities.