Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on July 13, 2022, on Biden’s visit to the Middle East and the border dispute between Lebanon and Israel over the Karish maritime gas field.
[…] Now I come to the main point of my speech tonight. One of the results of the July (2006) war is the establishment of a balance of deterrence in the struggle against the Israeli enemy, between Lebanon and the enemy entity. These equations, this balance… Of course, I am not talking about a balance of forces in terms of the number of our respective soldiers, our respective naval power or our respective air forces. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a balance of deterrence, a balance of fear, a balance of terror. It’s a different kind of equation (than a strict balance of power).
For the past 16 years, that is, from 2006 to the present, Lebanon has enjoyed an excellent security situation with regard to the fight against the Israeli enemy, if we compare it to what used to happen before. The enemy has been unable to include Lebanon in its strategy of “the battle between wars” (conducting episodic strikes without starting a war, as it does in Syria), and Israel thinks a thousand times before taking any military action against Lebanon, knowing that there would be retaliation (from Hezbollah). That is why when Israel tries to do something (in Lebanon), it tries to carry out security operations (against Hezbollah) trying as much as possible not to leave any footprints, any traces (of its involvement). This achievement (of the Resistance) is still valid.
In this regard, before the episode of the drones (sent by Hezbollah over the Israeli gas platform in Karish), after my (last) speech about Israel’s exploitation of the Karish field (claimed by Lebanon; Hezbollah promised to prevent Israel from extracting gas from it, even if it means war), the enemy War Minister… Of course, all Israeli officials spoke out to threaten, promise (retaliation), etc, but in these days of commemoration of the 2006 war, I only want to comment on one sentence of the Minister of War [Benny] Gantz. He said, and I quote you his words, “We are ready for war, and if necessary, we will march again on Beirut, Sidon and Tyre.” I’ll just comment on that sentence before I continue. In short, Gantz knows very well that such words are pure mockery, and that he is lying to himself, to his people and to his peers. All Israelis know that this is just empty rhetoric that carries absolutely no weight. Yes, anyone in Israel can say that they are going to bomb, destroy Lebanon, etc. I am not saying that they are incapable of doing this: on the contrary, it is ALL they are capable of. In all the wars against Gaza, all they have done is air strikes, missile strikes, artillery strikes, nothing else. The only time they made a ground incursion into Gaza, they suffered a disaster, and even had prisoners taken (by Hamas)! And even in the recent military maneuvers they dubbed “Chariots of Fire”, the entire operation towards Gaza was based on firepower, not on a ground incursion.
So you (Israelis), who, faced with a Gaza under siege for 15 years, whose geography is flat, whose conditions are (so) difficult, and whose weapons are largely produced locally, do not even dare to take a few steps forward, you claim to invade Lebanon and reach Tyre, Saida and Beirut? You are completely mistaken if you make the same calculations as 20, 30 or 40 years ago, as if the situation (today) was the same (as when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982). In any case, I advise Gantz to review his case, and in particular to review the last days of the 2006 war, when the Israelis took the decision to enter the town of Bint Jbeil, which is very close to the international border (between Lebanon and Israel). Let him review in particular the number of elite troops that participated, the generals that participated, the tank battalions that participated, the size of the forces that participated, the artillery and aerial firepower, the missile strikes, the planes, the helicopters, etc. They destroyed most of the city, besieged it, and left only one exit route for the fighters to flee. But the fighters did not flee, and the opposite happened: more (Hezbollah) fighters entered Bint Jbeil. The situation was quite different (from what Israel imagined). And Israel’s goal may not even have been to occupy the whole city of Bint Jbeil, but only to reach the stadium where I gave the spider’s web speech (on May 25, 2000) and plant the Israeli flag there. And even that you were unable to do! And this during the last days of the war, when, in your eyes, the (Hezbollah) fighters would be exhausted and weakened by the bombing, with low morale, etc. But such is the experience of Bint Jbeil, the closest city to occupied Palestine (it was a resounding failure for Israel).
Therefore, to claim that Israel will reach Saida, Tyre and Beirut is a preposterous statement, and I believe that all Lebanese have laughed at this statement and these threats. Those days (when Israel could occupy our capital) are well and truly over. And that is why we need not fear anything on this side in the ongoing border dispute between Lebanon and Israel: Israel is threatening us with invasion, but what could it possibly invade? During the 33 days of the 2006 war, it remained at the gates of Ayt al-Chab and our other villages at the border, without being able to enter them. Israel tried to enter Maroun al-Ras for 3 days, despite the fact that there were only a small number of fighters there, (but failed).
I only want to confirm, regarding the lessons and teachings of the 2006 war for the future, especially regarding South Lebanon and the Israeli claim to carry out a ground incursion there, that today, the popular support (for the Resistance) is different from that of 1982: the masses overwhelmingly support the Resistance and embrace it (totally). The organization of the Resistance is very large, and has no comparable precedent, both in terms of its numbers and its military capabilities and power. Likewise, the will to fight, the spirit of resistance, and this is what counts most, is stronger and higher than ever before. Not to mention the (mountainous) geography of Lebanon (conducive to guerrilla warfare). The geography is with the Resistance, the people is with the Resistance, the capabilities are with the Resistance, the Resistance is with the Resistance, and first and last, God the Most High and Exalted is with the Resistance. It is He who has given it victory in the past, and it is He who will give it victory at any time in the future. God never fails in His promise, and He gives victory to those who fight in His way [Quran, XXII, 40].
The third point is the issue of oil and gas. One of the consequences of the 2006 war is that it demonstrated the power of the Resistance to protect Lebanon. A new equation (of deterrence) was imposed, I just mentioned it. The protection of Lebanon, its territory, its population, its national security —I’m not talking about the security of the Lebanese society, currently in crisis— in the fight against the Israeli enemy, its natural resources, etc. All this —and I am beginning to be very precise in my remarks— constitutes the only strength that Lebanon has in order to obtain its rights to the oil and gas deposits, to extract them and to sell them. There are several key points in this matter.
First, no Lebanese questions the fact that the golden opportunity to save Lebanon is to extract its oil and gas. When I talk about saving Lebanon, I am talking about saving the State, the majority of whose public services are suspended. Salaries and services are insufficient, but the State is unable to remedy this. Tomorrow, if the Central Bank’s reserves run out, even the salaries of civil servants may not be paid. There will be no more subsidies for medicines, flour, etc. The State is on the verge of collapse, and the country is heading towards an extremely difficult and even critical situation. What else? Even if reforms are carried out, I have already mentioned it but I want to repeat it, the conditions imposed by the IMF for the granting of a 3 billion dollar loan (are draconian), and such a sum cannot meet Lebanon’s (enormous) needs. Someone told me that it doesn’t matter if the IMF gives only $3 billion, what matters is that if this loan is granted, it will give more confidence in Lebanon, and then an international conference can be organized to help Lebanon. Very well, but what can we expect from it? $10, $11, $12 billion, like the CEDRE Conference, the majority of which will be loans, and therefore new debts for Lebanon, with very strict conditions. Will this solve Lebanon’s problems? Lebanon’s problems are much more important than that.
There is a second option, which does not bring $3 billion in debts, nor $11 billion in debts, but hundreds of billions of dollars that will be our property, with which we will be able to pay our debts, pay [and increase] the salaries of civil servants, subsidize medicines, flour, find financing to revive the economy, etc. Because in fact, the lifting of subsidies on gasoline and fuel has not revived anything. The only existing and dignified way of salvation for the Lebanese is the exploitation of our oil and gas: no other way has appeared until now.
The second point is that the golden opportunity is now. It is now, during these two months. And now there are less than two months left, what’s left of July and August, into September, early September, the first week of September —I’ll spell it out in detail. We have a golden opportunity now. Why do I say golden opportunity? If there was no war between Russia and Ukraine, there would not be this (urgent) need of Europe and the United States for gas and oil. I don’t mean that they will import gas and oil from Lebanon, because to install sea platforms, extract hydrocarbons and sell them, it takes years. But Lebanon’s strength is that it can be a problem, an obstacle to the Israeli enemy, to the Israeli entity, and create a problem in the whole region that will prevent the extraction of gas and oil (in the Mediterranean), and will prevent the sale of gas and oil to Europe. Because these people are in a panic situation, they have no choice and they have no time. And I explained that Biden came to the Middle East in the first place for that (to convince the Gulf countries to increase their oil and gas production). They absolutely need oil and gas now.
And that’s why Israel rushed to exploit the Karish field. Why do I say that everything is being played out in these two months? Because now is the time to find alternative oil and gas for Europe [before winter], and this is the time required by the company [Energean] to start extracting oil and gas from Karish. This is our window of opportunity. If this two-month period passes and Lebanon has not obtained its rights, the situation will be very difficult, and it will be infinitely harder to obtain our rights. If we have to get our rights after the extraction of oil and gas has started in Karish, it will cost us much more. It is up to you to understand what I mean. The price we have to pay will be much higher. That is why I said in my last speech that time is running out, that it is crucial to act as soon as possible (before it is too late), without specifying exactly how long. But now the Israelis themselves, and the world with them, say that the extraction of oil and gas in Karish will begin in September. This is the critical period we are facing. The Lebanese officials, the Lebanese State and all the Lebanese people must do everything to take advantage of this golden time, this golden opportunity.
Do not allow the Americans to fool you, to procrastinate and to play the game of temporization. I was very affected to hear (Lebanese) officials say that with the grace of God, the (maritime border agreement between Israel and Lebanon) will be concluded in September. It will be too late! In September, it will be too late. If you don’t get your rights before September, and if you don’t agree on the maritime border before September, and the US and the UN have not recognized Lebanon’s rights, after this two-month period, things will be much harder and the price will be much higher. Of course, we would not give up on the issue, but it will be very hard and very costly. That’s how you have to make your calculations. Maybe if you let these two months pass, you (Lebanese officials) will not get anything, except by paying a very high price (war). Don’t let the US fool you. Don’t give any credence to the honeyed words of the Americans. The proof is that it will soon be a year since I announced, on the tenth day of Muharram, the arrival of a cargo of fuel from Iran, and the American ambassador promised the Lebanese people gas from Egypt and electricity from Jordan, as well as a waiver on the (American) Caesar sanctions, as well as a loan from the World Bank to Lebanon. It will be a year next month. What have we seen of all this? Nothing. Delegations have come and gone, ministers have met, Lebanese, Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian signatures have been put on documents, thank you very much, but nothing happened. A few days ago, the Lebanese Minister of Energy came back from Egypt and said that the Egyptians are finally ready (to export their gas to Lebanon), thank God all this is over, but we are still waiting for the American waiver on Caesar sanctions and the World Bank loan. Nothing has progressed at this level, after a whole year! Egypt had no problem (selling us its gas), and never had any issue since the beginning, for years, just as Jordan has no problem selling us its electricity: the problem is the American veto. The problem is the American veto. It is clear what value the Lebanese people, drowned in crisis and shortage, have in the eyes of the Americans: they refuse to waive the Caesar sanctions and allow Egyptian gas to be exported to Lebanon via Syria, as well as Jordanian electricity. They have, however, made a waiver for Iraq, which imports gas from Iran while Iranian oil and gas are subject to US sanctions. Iraq is allowed to import Iranian gas for its electricity. When the US occupied Afghanistan, it granted a waiver to the Afghan government under its control, allowing it to buy oil, gas and oil derivatives from Iran. But nothing like that for Lebanon, after a whole year, when Lebanon needs more than ever even one (extra) hour of electricity, during this summer, this very summer. And winter is coming.
Those United States who are unable to waive their Caesar sanctions for Lebanon, why would they grant you your maritime rights, your borders, the Qana field, and allow Total and other (Western) companies to start extracting oil and gas from Lebanon? For whose sake would they do so? Should we rely on their ethics and good manners? This individual whom you call an American intermediary [Amos Hochstein], but whom we call judge and jury, because he works in Israel’s interest and puts pressure on Lebanon. The Americans came a long time ago, and even when [Hochstein] came recently, in my opinion, his attitude was inappropriate, both in terms of form and substance: in terms of form, during his meeting [with Lebanese officials], he was laughing, joking, and mocking, and in terms of substance, he did not recognize any rights for Lebanon. He considered that it was not a matter of rights, because (in his opinion) there is no way to enforce this right, but that it is only a matter of negotiations, of an agreement that must be reached according to what both parties will accept. He did not behave in a serious and promising manner either in substance or in form.
And basically, why did Hochstein come? When, a few years ago, the Americans came and established the Hof line, and then turned their backs on us for years, Lebanon stood by and waited (for an agreement on the maritime borders), while Israel explored (the maritime deposits), etc. Some (Lebanese) still tell us that Israel is exploring Karish: but my dear, the exploration in Karish is long over! They are now getting ready to extract gas from Karish. They are digging and getting ready (for extraction), while we sit around waiting for negotiations. Then Hochstein came along, and he proposed a line of demarcation. I don’t know what he called it, let’s call it the Hochstein line. He imposed it as something non-negotiable, and then turned around and ran off, telling the Lebanese officials that as soon as they had an answer, they should send it to him in writing. What brought Hochstein back for his recent visit? Two things. Let’s be specific. He did not come back for the sake of anyone in Lebanon, nor for the sake of the Lebanese State, nor for the sake of anyone else. He came for two reasons. First, the US need for oil and gas for Europe, as I just explained. Because the situation is very difficult and even critical due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, which has been pressing on their throats for several months. This is the first new point: the urgent need to get a replacement (for Russian oil and gas), and this is the point on which we can put pressure on the United States. I don’t want to describe it as a weak point, but as an urgent American-Israeli-Western need. And the second reason is the real point of strength in Lebanon: Hochstein came back because he saw the threats from Hezbollah. Listen to me: without the Resistance’s threats (to strike Karish), if there was no Resistance, if he did not know that the Resistance has drones, precision missiles, and air, sea and land (military) capabilities, if he did not know that the Resistance had the courage and audacity to threaten, act and do (what it promises), Hochstein would not have come: he would have said that he had already given us a line of demarcation, and that he was waiting for an answer (from Lebanon) that never came. This is the reason why Hochstein came because the oil and gas of Karish was threatened, and much more than that, as I will explain.
In sum, Lebanon is now facing an adversary, or rather an enemy that has a weak point, namely the pressing and urgent need for gas and oil that it wants to import from the (enemy) entity. For he cannot import oil and gas from Lebanon at the moment, but we can prevent Israel from extracting and exporting oil and gas, which is our point of strength. Lebanon’s strong point is that it has a Resistance, capable of preventing and prohibiting any extraction of gas and oil (in the Mediterranean). We are able to do this. When it goes to negotiations, like any country that goes to negotiations, Lebanon must have points of strength (to assert its rights). What are the main cards that Lebanon can play? What strengths can it bring to the table? Can it take advantage of the presence of the Arab League or the Organization of Islamic Cooperation at its side [laughs]? The UN? The Security Council? From Europe? Whose support can Lebanon claim? Lebanon, like the Syrian, Palestinian and Yemeni peoples, is left to its own devices. This is the fate of all oppressed peoples. Lebanon must therefore seek its inside strength (and not an illusory external support). The only strength of Lebanon, with which I began my remarks, is Hezbollah. It is the only one. If someone claims that there is another one, let him present it to us: we are not stubborn and are willing to learn. The only strong point in Lebanon is the Resistance and the actions of the Resistance. Even the United States is not a neutral intermediary, it is judge and jury: all it wants is an agreement that will give maximum gains to Israel at the expense of Lebanon. This is their real goal. The personality of the intermediary is not important, it is the fundamental policy of the United States that Biden has come to pursue, as he announced as soon as he arrived at the airport (in Tel Aviv). This is our only point of strength, and it is on this basis that we must move forward.
I want to address the Lebanese leaders without commenting on everything that has been said so far. I want to be constructive. Some Lebanese officials are convinced —whether they have said so publicly or not, they say it during internal meetings— they are convinced that the strength of Lebanon is the Resistance and the threats of the Resistance. Some officials may not be convinced of this, or at least they are afraid to state it clearly. I do not want to go into these details. I only want to say to the Lebanese leaders: this single strong point in your hands, use it! I say to you myself, in the name of the Resistance, use us! Instrumentalize us! Take advantage of us! As you like! When you sit down with the Americans and the Europeans, with the UN and with the whole world, tell them what you want! Insult us if you want, but don’t totally dissociate yourself from us of course. Insult us, no problem! Tell them that this group (Hezbollah) doesn’t listen to anyone, is out of control, and can lead the whole region to the abyss! Say what you want [to get Lebanon’s rights, even if you denigrate us when you recall our threats]! I invite you publicly to do so! Say it! And this is not psychological warfare. The Americans and the Israelis know that we are not waging psychological warfare on this issue, but are deadly serious. Let me give you some details about this. We are very serious. The Lebanese negotiators have one trump card to play, and that is Hezbollah. When we sent the drones over Karish, you should have said, “You see? These people are out of control and capable of anything! They don’t listen to anyone and can lead the whole region to the abyss [if they don’t get what they want]! So please, solve this problem and give Lebanon its legitimate rights!” This is what I wanted to confirm tonight.
After the episode of the drones (sent by Hezbollah over the Karish field), which I will talk about a bit, I heard some officials say that this action violates the agreement (allegedly made between Hezbollah and the government). What agreement are you talking about? Who made an agreement with whom? If someone makes agreements without our knowledge, that’s his problem. But we, Hezbollah, have not made any agreement with anyone, nor have we promised anyone that we would not do anything and that we would wait for the outcome of negotiations. Not at all. And whoever tells the Americans or anyone else that Hezbollah will do nothing, that it will not take any action, neither in the past, nor in the present, nor in the future, whoever makes such promises is deceiving his interlocutors and lying to himself, while squandering Lebanon’s interests. Instead of giving them guarantees and trying to reassure them, you have to scare them! Because this is your only strong point! It is your only card to play! If you reassure them, they will turn their heels, waste our time, and stall for these two months, just as they have been laughing at you for a year with their promises of Egyptian gas and Jordanian electricity. On the contrary, we must not only scare them, but even make them shake with terror!
Secondly, some have asked how Hezbollah can take the initiative to send drones when it claims to stand behind the State? You have misunderstood us, my dear! We are behind the State in the demarcation of the maritime borders! This is a matter in which we do not want to interfere. This does not mean that if the State accepts such and such a demarcation line, we will also sign, no! We do not interfere in any way. We are neither with nor against. We do not want to participate in the demarcation of maritime borders, as I have already explained in the past, and I do not want to explain it again. We do not participate in it for reasons of principle, ideology, culture, morality and tactics. When we say that we are behind the State on the issue of the maritime borders, it means that we do not want to interfere in this issue. When we say we are behind the State, it means that it is the Lebanese State that is negotiating the borders, not us. Many have claimed that Hezbollah has intervened in the negotiations, and opened channels for negotiations, but these are baseless lies. We are not involved in any way. But we have never said that we stand behind the State in terms of putting pressure on the enemy, in terms of initiatives that can serve the negotiations, etc. We have never said anything of the sort, on the contrary: we have said the opposite! I made it clear that we would not stand idly by! That is what I said. Don’t misunderstand: we have not made any commitments to anyone and will not make any commitments to anyone. We are following what is going on, and we have the right to carry out any action at any time that we deem appropriate, of the appropriate scale and in the appropriate manner to put pressure on the enemy in the interest of the negotiations and the Lebanese negotiators. Let this be clear, both for the past and for the future.
It is on this basis that we took the initiative to send the drones (over the Israeli gas platform of Karish). The goal was to gain time! There has been an (American-Israeli) response, which Lebanese officials are evaluating in different ways. There is no doubt that there is a positive step forward, I say this to be honest and factual, but it is not enough, because even what the Lebanese State asks for is not granted. We in Hezbollah are not asking for anything, because I have said that we do not interfere in this issue. They told Lebanon to wait until September. But it will be too late. And therein lies the American duplicity. That is the American duplicity. And that’s when the drones came in, the day after the response in which the duplicity and the delaying tactics were obvious: it was clear that they were fooling us. And we don’t want to be fooled. So we launched the drones, and I’m going to expand a little bit on the military aspect of this. As the Resistance statement said, we sent out 3 drones of different sizes, and unarmed. Of course, we purposely did not arm them. Even when we were discussing this decision with the brothers, we agreed that our goal was for Israel to shoot down these drones. And despite that, Israel had a hard time shooting them down, first sending in planes and then bringing in the navy, Barak (sea-to-air) missiles, etc. These are details, but I explain to you what our intention was, and this will also benefit Israel in the future. Our brothers told us that they were perfectly able to send a drone (over Karish) that would collect intelligence and return (unharmed). But we unanimously said that we wanted the drone to go over there, collect intelligence and then be shot down by Israel. Why did we want this? Because we wanted the warplanes to fire missiles. Quite frankly. We wanted warships to fire sea-to-air missiles. We wanted fire and explosions in that area, on their side, so that the ship, the engineers, the (Israeli and foreign) employees (on the Greek gas platform Energean) and everyone else knows that they are in a dangerous area, facing a real and serious threat (to their lives).
If we had sent only one drone that would have collected intelligence there and returned, we would have issued a statement to that effect, saying that a drone flew over Karish and returned unharmed with the sought-after information, but maybe some would have believed us, and others would not. But the important and undeniable event is that the drones went there and were shot down, and that Israel was forced to hit them with missiles and speak out about it. That’s why Israel spoke before us, we were waiting to see what they would say. And we sent 3 drones on purpose to make the incident more prominent, because one drone would not have made so much noise. By the way, this was the first time in the history of the Israeli entity that 3 drones were sent simultaneously. As for sending a single drone, Hezbollah has been doing this for a long time (the first known drone, named “Ayoub,” was launched over Israel in 2012) and continues to do so to this day, with Israel sometimes intercepting them. Gaza has also sent drones over occupied Palestine. Iran has also sent them once or twice, and so has Syria. But each time, the drones were sent one by one. This is the first time that 3 drones were sent simultaneously to the same target. So that’s the whole story. I should point out that we are able to send a very large number of drones simultaneously. We can send them armed or unarmed, with different types of weapons, different sizes, etc. We are capable of all of that, with God’s help. We don’t have any problem with that. We sent 3 not because we were unable to send 5 (or more), but because 3 were enough for the message we wanted to send. And we were ready for anything, depending on the reaction of Israel, we were ready to face any retaliation.
In sending these drones, our goal… There were military, security, tactical objectives, which I don’t want to talk about, but we wanted to send a message to the enemy and to the whole world. If anyone thinks (that we are bluffing)… And I say this to the Americans, because in Lebanon (and especially in the American Embassy), some stupid advisors may claim that (we are bluffing). Some may (reassure Israel and the United States) that there is nothing to fear because the situation in Lebanon is very difficult, people are choking (because of the crisis, hyperinflation and shortages), and that Hezbollah can talk and threaten, but it is only empty words, and Hezbollah will not do anything. We have read many statements, communiqués, discussions and interventions in this vein. It’s said on TV, then it’s repeated at the U.S. Embassy, and maybe the (US) officials will be fooled. But with the 3 drones, the message was clear, and it was received loud and clear. The message was clearly that we are serious, that we see this as a crucial issue, that we are not waging psychological warfare, and that we are taking actions in a progressive way (more and more serious), and we will do whatever is necessary without any hesitation. This message was well understood by Israel and the United States. Whether some Lebanese commentators have understood it or not is the least of our worries. What matters is that the enemy gets this message, because it is addressed to him in the first place. Secondly, this message is addressed to our friends, so that they know that they are in a strong position, that they do not have to be afraid or tremble. This message has been well received, and the proof is that there has been no reaction from Israel on the ground, despite the (blatant) violation of the entity’s airspace. For the issue of oil and gas is very sensitive and pressing for the Israelis, the Americans and the Europeans. And the second proof is the internal contacts that were established, and the messages that were transmitted to the Lebanese State and also to us (Hezbollah) after the drone operation. All this confirms that the message was well received and well understood.
What will happen now? I must also say two words clearly for the future. In terms of our (military) capability, the enemy must know, and they know it well, but I say this to reassure and help our friends, that our capability is multiple. By the Israelis’ own admission, they were taken aback by the drones, and had difficulty shooting them down. But we have a variety of options (to strike Karish): we have air options, sea options, and land options. All of these capabilities are effective and on the table. Playing the delaying game will not help (with us). We are capable of doing anything that will serve our cause, and we will do it every time with the right scale, at the right time and in the right way. And I repeat, Lebanon can boast of a real deterrent power (Hezbollah) capable of preventing (the extraction of Karish gas), whose existence and threats (it poses to the enemy) it must take advantage of, as well as its actions if necessary.
In this power, in these negotiations, in this issue, there are two issues (which I will clarify) so that people do not misunderstand what position to take towards them. The first issue is Lebanon’s maritime borders, on which the State is negotiating. It is expected that they will reach a result, which will be recognized by the United States and the UN. This is a first issue. But it is not enough on its own. I want to remind you that for the Israeli invasions of 1978 and 1982, the borders of Lebanon were not disputed: they were internationally recognized, by the UN and whatever you want (but it didn’t prevent Israel from invading). It is not enough to have international recognition for our maritime border and our exclusive economic zone. That is not enough. The second issue is the (American) permission that must be given to foreign companies like TOTAL, which have committed themselves to come and explore and extract Lebanese hydrocarbons. Without this, what will we have gained? If we are told that these are our maritime borders, but the American veto continues to prohibit us from exploring and extracting our resources for 10 or 20 years, we will only have a right on paper, and the maritime oil and gas will be plundered (by Israel). So the two issues must be linked and resolved together. It is not enough to be told “Here are your borders” and to forbid TOTAL and any other company in the world to come and prospecy or extract Lebanese hydrocarbons. We would have gained nothing, and it would be a mockery of the world and of ourselves to claim the contrary. The (Lebanese) State would have achieved success only on paper, without it being translated into facts. Therefore, the choice that Lebanon has is to apply pressure. We must apply pressure. We must apply pressure. It is our fate that is at stake. I will now express the core of my statement and our position. This is a vital issue for us.
I want to tell our enemies and friends that we are not waging psychological warfare on this issue. We will not just talk, express our opinion and bade farewell, certainly not. We are very serious. In our eyes, this is the only way to save Lebanon as a nation, as a State with its institutions that is threatened with collapse, as a people, its present and its future. We are talking about an operation of salvation. Perhaps tomorrow someone will react to my words by saying that I am ruining the whole process of border demarcation. Someone will ask me if I want to lead the country to war. But if we continue like this, Lebanon is heading for a situation worse than war! A situation much worse than war! Just for once, let us Lebanese try to be brave, to stand up as one man and have one strong and courageous stand against the Americans and the Israelis, without evasion, without pretence and without misreading. Someone will claim that all this is aimed at influencing the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue. Since 1982, we have been hearing about Iran, Syria, etc. (to present Hezbollah as a mere satellite of Tehran or Damascus), but this is just empty talk. This has nothing to do with the Iranian nuclear issue, as the US itself has acknowledged. So let’s aim at achieving our goal (getting Lebanon’s maritime rights and saving the country), why would the Iranian nuclear issue matter to us? If we stand up as one to the Americans, both at the level of the (Lebanese) State, the people and the Resistance, and say to them, “If you do not give us the rights claimed by the State, and not by Hezbollah, and if you do not allow the companies to come and extract (our hydrocarbons), we will all cause (a terrible war) in the region. We may turn the tables on the whole world.”
There are people who want the Lebanese people to starve and kill each other in front of bakeries, gas stations, and kill each other for a bite to eat, because the Lebanese pound is worthless, as are salaries. There are people who want to destroy this country. But no (we won’t let them)! I say tonight in all frankness, if the choice is that Lebanon should not be helped —and the natural way to help it is its wealth in hydrocarbons—, and that Lebanon should be pushed towards collapse, starvation, the people killing each other, no, no, no, no (we will never allow it). War is more dignified, much more dignified. Whether it is the threat of war, or even the actual war! It is much more dignified and much more noble! The first way, which is to let things continue towards collapse, anarchy and people killing each other because of hunger, has no horizon. It has no way out. But war has a horizon. If we decide to go to war, there is a way out. It can make the enemy submit (to our demands). Maybe he will submit before the war, maybe he will submit at the beginning of the war, maybe in the middle, maybe at the end! He will submit and we will impose our conditions, and we will earn hundreds of billions of dollars (by selling our hydrocarbons), which will save the country! And whoever dies in such a war will die a martyr. It is better than dying because of a fight at the bakery, at the gas station, in a robbery or whatever. Let’s talk about it seriously. I know that tonight many voices will be raised (to denounce my speech), but I am speaking frankly.
And we have learned from experience… We hope that the national position of Lebanon will be strong and unanimous. But it is obvious that we do not expect unanimity. From 1982 to 2000, the experience of the Resistance, the parties of the Resistance and the factions of the Lebanese Resistance all declare that if we had waited for national unanimity (to fight the invader), Lebanon would still be occupied by Israel, and there would be settlements in the South, in the Western Bekaa, in Rachayya and in many other places. Lebanon would have been swallowed by Israel. We will not wait for unanimity, and we will not abandon the State. We cannot leave the State alone in such a difficult and sensitive matter.
That is why I say to the enemy tonight: let him not make a mistake in his calculations. Let the Americans and Hochstein not trick the Lebanese and try to deceive them. The Lebanese will not be fooled. The drone message is only a beginning, a modest beginning (which gives only a small glimpse) of all that we can do. If things go wrong, we will not just target Karish. We are on the anniversary of the 2006 war, so record the new equation: Karish, beyond Karish and far beyond Karish [referring to the 2006 equation promising to strike “Haifa, beyond Haifa and far beyond Haifa”]. Today, I asked the brothers concerned in Hezbollah to present me with a list of everything that is facing the Palestinian coast. We count and follow closely (the activity of) all the (oil and gas) fields, all the oil wells, all the maritime platforms, whose names we know, as well as their activity, those with operational status or not, those who are still in the exploration phase, etc. All these details are in our possession. All these details are in our possession. If you want to continue to choke Lebanon, I am not just talking about the Karish equation: the issue is much broader for us. If you want to continue to impose the equation that Lebanon is forbidden to save itself by exploiting its natural gas and oil resources, no one will be able to extract gas or oil, and no one will be able to sell gas or oil. Do you understand? Do you understand or shall I repeat myself, as they say? And this regardless of the consequences.
O Lebanese people, we have reached the end of the road. We have reached the end of the road. Whoever promises you something else, let him explain what he is promising (to save Lebanon). What is he promising? Who is going to save Lebanon? They don’t even want to give you an (extra) hour of electricity! When a simple signature of the Americans would be enough, they have nothing else to do and would not lose a penny. But they want this country to collapse, to starve, to give in and give up its rights, to be their slave. But this is impossible. Whoever wants to be a slave, good for him. But it is not for him who wants to be free to give in. In any people, in any country, in any nation, in any State, people must fundamentally have sovereignty, freedom, independence, they must enjoy their natural resources that will save their people from ignorance, illiteracy, disease, hunger… This is the situation we are in today.
In the days to come, and while Biden is present in the region —it is said that Hochstein is also present with him—, and (Israeli War Minister) Gantz said “We don’t want war, and we are ready to go very far in the way of peace and to reach an agreement about the maritime border between us and Lebanon which must be agreed upon quickly.” I exhort you (O Lebanese leaders), talk to them, let them not stall and laugh at you and fool the Lebanese. No one will laugh at us, and we will not allow anyone to fool us.
I wanted to talk about other points, such as the economic and social situation, the bread, the government, but I have already gone on too long, and I will do so in a future speech.
May God’s peace be upon you, as well as His mercy and blessings.
“Any amount counts, because a little money here and there, it’s like drops of water that can become rivers, seas or oceans…”