I welcome all of you in this blessed ceremony making the wrap up of the blessed campaign – the kind tree campaign. In this occasion, I would like to tackle three issues: the first topic is the one million tree campaign and its backgrounds, horizons and the outlook to this issue; the second topic has to do with the anticipated visit or President Ahmadi Nejad to Lebanon in the coming few days; and the third topic is related to the developments in our country and region especially what is related to the Special Tribunal of Lebanon, the indictment, the false witnesses and the repercussions of this issue on the statue quo.
As far as the first issue is concerned, I say that this is an ancient jihad for Jihad Al Binaa. However and praise be to Allah Al Mighty it was an ascending jihad. Perhaps the only period of time in which the agricultural and tree-planting side retreated was in 2006 when Jihad Al Binaa was occupied with a greater priority – namely facing the repercussions of July War in 2006.
This year the effort was advanced and made greater through the advertisement and the execution of the million tree campaign. Many campaigns partook in this campaign along Jihad Al Binaa. We took pains to generalize this culture so that it won’t be a sheer act made by the Institution. We believe that this is a great national issue which needs participation, cooperation and the presence of everyone in the field. No ministry or institution or society or region or group or party or movement or current may solely carry on this effort. Rather we must deal with it as an important great national issue which needs mustering all efforts. Hence was the cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture in Lebanon, the various municipalities, the youths’ societies and others. Here I would like to remind of the special presence of the resistance fighters in the South and in Bekaa in particular. In fact they had their distinctive participation in broad tree-planting operations in various regions, mountains, hills and valleys especially in some regions where man is at risk such as some valleys, mountains and hills where scouts or municipalities may not have access due to mines and the like. The resistance men are thus more able and accurate in dealing with such areas due to their experience and skill.
Indeed I would like to address with special thanks our brethrens in Syria. I recall that several years ago this issue took place with an initiation made by President Bashar Assad. There has been great cooperation with Jihad Al Binaa since several years. This cooperation developed with the Syrian brethrens year after year until it reached this stage. I know that this issue is not limited to Jihad Al Binaa. There are other sides which asked for such aids and received them from Syria. I also know that the Syrian brethrens are ready for endless cooperation in this perspective.
There are sequels to tree-plantations in every country and that is not special for Lebanon only. However there is something special as far as Lebanon is concerned. When we talk about health, environmental, climatic and aesthetic sequels and consequently how that influences the life of people on all perspectives: health, environmental, tourist, social and so on – this must be tackled with specialists – and I am not one of them – who must explain these issues to people so that the society would have a general education in this perspective whether in Lebanon or in other countries. It is the education of finding motives that push people to assume national responsibilities in this domain. It is enough to mention briefly that the climatic threat today is one of the most serious threats which face humanity and its integrity, security, stability and very existence. Perhaps it is the most serious threat because this threat is about or has already been out of control even by great states. Nuclear threat is a very great threat on human existence on Earth but it is under control and is still under control. However what the world is witnessing today such as earthquakes, floods, torrents, serious climatic changes and fires that threatened millions and what is taking place now in India, China and especially in Pakistan is a human catastrophe in the whole sense of the word. These are the results of climatic changes. Today humanity is confronting this great and serious climatic threat.
Indeed due to its small area, Lebanon might not be very influential in founding a change in face of this great threat. Still this does not make our country irresponsible. Regardless of the great threat on the level of the Globe, when we become concerned in this file nationally and popularly, we will pick all the blessings embodied in this kind tree – whether health, environmental, climatic, aesthetic, nutritive, social and all other blessings. This is on one hand.
On the other hand, we Lebanese always laud of Lebanon, the green. Indeed in a short period of time this will be part of history due to natural and unnatural desertification – i.e. cities and the conquest of cement. Thus the slogan of Lebanon, the green would be a mere slogan mentioned only in poetry. Well I say as Lebanon is green, this is part of its essential nature exactly as the freedom of expression, the freedom of faith, the freedom of practicing human rituals are part of Lebanon’s essential nature. If these aspects stopped to exist and were detached this country will not be Lebanon anymore. It will be something else regardless of what this other thing is. The same applies to trees, greenery, verdure and bloom. These are part of Lebanon’s essential existence. If Lebanon failed to be green and beautiful, it won’t be Lebanon anymore. It will be something else. Consequently as we all laud of Lebanon and its beauty, greenery and climate, we must all assume this responsibility.
The third point is not special to Lebanon only, but Lebanon is most in need of. It is the need of dealing with trees, tree-planting, woods, forests and even trees on roads and in front of houses as part of the Lebanese national security. So it is not only an environmental, health, climatic, aesthetic aspect of a green country. Lebanon is in need of this tree. Lebanon protects it so that it protects Lebanon. Notice that all around the world – even in military studies, military sciences, geography and demography – nature gives defensive characteristics which at times might be very important and can not be available through what man owns regarding equipments and capabilities. Thus combating in deserts differs from fighting in mountains which in its turn differs from battling in valleys. Thus when we once threatened saying that should five or six Israeli squads break into our territories, we pledge to destroy them… We talked about the geographic nature of our territories, hills, valleys, trees and mountains. All of that gives very important defensive characteristics.
You might have noticed – as the Lebanese know – that since 1972, Israelis in the occupied region or in the region they head to occupy resort to cutting trees off from roads and the various regions. They used to set on fire, shell and destroy trees because they are aware of this defensive characteristic the Lebanese people and resistance enjoy. I still remember – anyway Hajj Imad gained martyrdom and this is not a secret anymore – that following May 25th, 2000 and the celebration we held in Bint Jbeil, I and brethren martyr Hajj Imad Mughniyeh toured the coastal area from Naqura all through the border area until reaching Sheba Farms and upwards until reaching near the Israeli outposts in Sheba Farms. It was remarkable that when we stood on top of one of the high hills and looked towards inside occupied Palestine we noticed that everything was green: woods, trees and forests even in the surroundings and inside Israeli settlements while from the border inwards towards the Lebanese territories we could see barren waste land with few trees which were kept and protected. During the occupation and especially since 1982 until 2000, Israelis worked at exterminating the greater part of the national natural wealth which southern Lebanon and west Bekaa enjoy. The issue is not that of enmity with nature and enmity with goodness only, it is also part of the field struggle which took place all through these years. Even in July War, they resorted to shelling many forests and orchids which had nothing militarily at all. That was only to seize the opportunity of destroying such capacities.
That means that we must all tackle this issue with great national responsibility on two levels: First, broadening the areas of such forests, woods and greeneries, and second, protecting what already exists and what will exist because it is not enough to plant as on the opposite side there exist those who blaze, cut off and destroy. There is a positive thing which we must do which is more plantations and more efforts in this perspective. The second point is protecting what already exists but at times we lose what already exists due to negligence. Here the state assumes part of the responsibility. People also assume part of the responsibility especially the citizens who go to woods, eat, barbecue, have their hubble-bubbles and leave the fire on. Many fires took place for such reasons. Still I believe that some fires are set on deliberately and are schemed for. We must search for the Israeli hands behind that especially in some areas. Anyway, there are very great and important responsibilities to be assumed in both directions.
I wrap up the first topic with special encouragement. We know that in national, civil and social education and mobilization and positive and not negative provocation, encouragement means finding the motives to do a definite thing. For that there are various speeches and means. However all through history, the religious and divine motive has been the strongest motive ever in moving man especially in the directions which do not seem to yield rapid results. That means that man usually likes quick gain and achievements. Things that yield results on the long run need more motives especially what is hard and needs more efforts. In this domain we might revise the Prophetic Traditions. Now some people might wonder that Islam also is interested in these domains? In fact there are many aspects which Islam is interested in but we do not know or follow or present now due to many of the people’s preoccupations and different interests.
I want to wrap up this topic addressing those who consider themselves concerned about achieving Allah’s content. That’s because gaining the content of Allah and closeness to Him depends on carrying on the thing He likes. Man becomes close to the one he wants to be close to through what the latter likes and not hates or loathes. Now perhaps we do not want to talk in the language of love of Allah, content of Allah and being close to Allah Al Mighty and rather want to talk with the logic of the reward man expects on Doom’s Day. Then man stands before Allah Al Mighty; he does not benefit from his lineage and pedigree and from anyone else except from his faith and good deeds and what he did in this world for his Hereafter.
We come to the biography of the Prophet of Allah – peace be upon him – and the Prophetic Traditions. The biography of the great Prophet comprises important assertions on Muslims of that time – and this not limited to that era but it applies until Doom’s Day – on the issue of agriculture and especially tree-planting, taking care of trees, protecting trees and on the greatness and nobleness of this occupation. You know that actually in any social environment, if the reputation and esteem of a definite occupation is harmed, people abandon it.
In some Holy Traditions we find that all prophets – peace be upon them – were peasants except Idriss who was a tailor. So the only exception in the Holy Traditions is the prophet of Allah Idriss. As for all the other prophets and the greatest prophets – Adam, Noah, Abrams, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad peace be upon them, they were proud of this vocation.
In that desert or semi-desert society, the Prophet of Allah used to stress on this concept. Noteworthy that in that society at that time (You know the Land of Hijaz or the Arabian Peninsula at that time needed reclamation of land and had watering problems among other problems) planting was not an easy job. It was rather a hard occupation but still we notice this high degree of assertion.
I will recite some of the Holy Traditions in this perspective including the call made by Jihad Al Binaa in which they quote the Prophet of Allah – peace be upon him: “Every Muslim who sows a seedling or plants a plant from which a man, bird or a beast eats, but it was a charity (for which he is rewarded) through which he becomes closer to Allah Al Mighty”. The Prophet of Allah – peace be upon him – also says: “Whoever plants a plant which yields fruits, Allah would reward him equivalent to its fruits”. In fact, in religious terminology there is what is called ongoing charity. There are two kinds of charity. The first is what is given to the poor to buy food or a school aid to go to school… This is charity. The second kind is ongoing charity; for example, a drinking fountain which goes on as long as there is running water in it and people drink from it even after the one who constructed it dies. This is ongoing charity. The same is true for worship places and schools and good deeds such as public roads as long as people walk on them, universities, hospitals, medical centers… and everything which benefits carry on, it will be ongoing charity. In fact these traditions aim to tell us that trees are ongoing charity. This is special for religious people who are concerned with ongoing charities. So an ongoing charity is not true only for worshipping places and the like. Trees are also part of ongoing charity as long as this tree exists and as long as there is benefit from this tree even if not a human being is benefiting from the tree but rather a bird or a beast (a sheep or a goat) and as long as there is a soul benefiting from it.
I will wrap up with this Prophetic Tradition: “Whoever plants a tree and was patient in preserving and nurturing it until it yielded its fruit, will have with each of its fruit a charity.” So it will be regarded as charity by Allah Al Mighty.
Imam Sadeq – peace be upon him said: “Man benefits from six characteristics after his death (Notice what post the tree gains in this perspective): A good child who asks Allah forgiveness for his parents (This is well known… a good child who prays and asks Allah to forgive his parents), a Qoran which he recites, a well which he digs (which people benefit from), a plant he planted, a charity of water he runs, a good Sunna which is followed after him”.
After all what we did with the tree number one million is that we liked to make the following message: We had several choices on where to plant the tree. Some said plant the tree in the Secretariat-general or in Mlita or in Rawdat Ashaheedain Cemetery. Anyway we finally agreed on planting the tree before the house which was destroyed by Israel during July War.
If every one of us plants a tree before his house and takes care of it through watering and preserving it as is mentioned in the Tradition, how will the form of the city, village and the whole country be? The whole issue does not cost anything especially if the tree is for free. Municipalities, Jihad Al Binaa, the Ministry of Agriculture and the concerned ministries are ready to provide these trees. All what we are supposed to do is to dig, plant and look after the tree only. I believe that we can make a great remarkable change in this perspective. Well once we say we need a billion Liras or a hundred million Liras and at another time we say let everyone pay one or ten liras…. What difference will this amount do?
They say the same thing when talking about forests. Yes indeed forests need plotting, special balances, efforts and employees. However here we are saying: Let everyone take an individual, national, religious, faithful initiative (call it whatever you want). Let’s take a decision: Let everyone plant a tree before his house. This will make a great change in the country. Let’s consider that an ongoing charity which benefits us in this world and in the Hereafter – (The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, but only he that brings to Allah a sound heart.)
We move now to the second topic which is the visit of President Ahmadi Nejad to Lebanon.
There are things which must be said prior to the visit. When President Ahmadi Nejad visits Lebanon he comes as the Head of the Islamic Republic and as the representative of the blessed Islamic Revolution. He does not express only the era of his tenure but also the history of the Republic and the Revolution since its victory over the Shah in 1979.
As for us in Lebanon, Palestine and the region, we must recall some points briefly:
First: Since the victory of the Islamic Republic in Iran, the Islamic Revolution has been offering moral and political support (We will tackle the other form of support later) to Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, the Arab peoples, the Arab governments and the Arab right. It took a decisive final advanced position with the Arab peoples and governments in the Arab-Israeli struggle. It is enough to say that the Islamic Revolution under the leadership of Imam Khomeini (May Allah glorify his secret) eliminated the stronger ally to Israel in the region which is the regime of the Shah which was threatening the Arab governments and peoples because it was the strong and tyrant ally which was also providing Israel with oil at time for free and at others for trivial and very low prices. The Islamic Revolution under the leadership of Imam Khomeini eliminated this strategic stronger ally in the region.
This achievement is enough for us to address Imam Khomeini, the Iranian people and the Islamic Revolution with a million thanks. However did the Arab governments say thank you? This is another field of debate…
An advanced strategic position however must be recorded for late President Hafiz Assad for the great and broad viewpoint he had on the struggle.
In the same track, the Islamic Revolution did not only eliminate a strategic ally to Israel but also became a strategic ally to the Arab governments, Arab peoples and resistance movements. It did not withhold any kind of support which it is able to offer despite being subject to war, sanctions, pressures and accusations. It never failed to back the resistance movements especially the resistance in Lebanon and the resistance in Palestine. This was expressed by the leadership of Imam Khomeini in the first ten years and later by the leadership of Imam Khamenai (May Allah prolong his lifespan) for over 20 years and under the successive Iranian governments. That’s because even if there were various political tracks in Iran and there is alternation of authority among these political movements, the point of consensus among the various internal political tracks in Iran is the stance on Palestine, Al Qods, the resistance, the struggle against the Israeli enemy, the view towards Israel and the view towards the Palestinian cause.
Under the tenure of President Ahmadi Nejad, indeed great and very serious events took place. I believe that his presence as a president helped very much in having a much greater level of Iranian support to the resistance movements in Lebanon especially during July War in Lebanon and during Gaza War later on.
As thanking the creature is thanking the Creator, and as he who does not thank the creature does not thank the Creator as our Traditions say, it’s my duty to mention even if only this brief conclusion because I know the Iranian brethrens will not handle that. Not before a long time, I talked with President Ahmadi Nejad when he was preparing for the visit (Raising the plan of a visit is old, and it is an old idea in Lebanon. In fact, it has nothing to do with all the current events). I used to tell him let’s make something like an inauguration or a termination or a foundation stone for some of the projects which were executed by Iran in Lebanon such as reconstructing Dahiyeh or some of the other great projects. He told me literally (I will say this remark): I do not want any activity or act or protocols through which the Lebanese or the Lebanese people might feel that I am coming to begrudge them or remind them or the favors. I do not accept that any of the Lebanese feel that I am making this visit to tell them I did so and so. No, we only did our duty towards this people. It’s we who must thank the Lebanese people for their steadfastness, resistance and devotion to their esteem and dignity and the great victory they offered to the nation.
Thus I believe that those Iranians will not talk. So let’s talk ourselves. I will talk a little. Some of the Lebanese look forward to this visit from various positions. When I say various positions I mean the overwhelming majority are positive positions. Anyway this is one of Lebanon’s characteristics and maybe Lebanon’s essential nature which I talked about before. So in all cases it might include some negative positions.
It’s inevitable that I hint – even if very briefly- to some aspects of the visit. I do not want to talk about what the Islamic Republic presented to Lebanon on the level of institutions and support especially to the Resistance in the South and in West Bekaa since 1982 particularly in the 80s and 90s. You know that Israel used to demolish houses and stores and the like. The South Council used to offer support and aids and it is thanked for that. However the state’s capabilities used at times to cause delay or might not provide the complete compensation. All of these stages used to be covered to a great extent through the support of Iran especially following July War in 1993 which was dubbed Balance Settlement, and April War in 1996 which was dubbed The Grapes of Wrath until reaching July War 2006.
I want to talk only about July War aside from the great political and moral position and all the possible support. Well, in the middle of the war – praise be to Allah Al Mighty – we were aware that we will gain victory in this war. Thus and during the war we were preparing for the day on which a ceasefire would be announced: What will we do with the homes, roads, the displaced people and families because that was a priority?
I contacted the Iranian brethrens through the available mediators. I told them we hope that you would help us in cash. We frankly need money. We want money from this very moment so that when war is over we will have a project which we must commence with rapidly away from any kind of bureaucracy. Between parentheses, one might object saying that this money must have been given to the state. Was the money given to the state, its fate – or at least the fate of some of it – would have been as the fate of some of the generous donations made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. We will go through endless bureaucracy. That is apart from political backgrounds. That means that if we showed good intentions and took good intentions for granted, there would have been no problem at all. On the contrary, there is pity and the like. So if they were guaranteed, there would have remained the problem of bureaucracy and tardiness. We knew that people on Monday August 14th will return in groups to their villages, towns and neighborhoods and will not wait for anyone. We knew the size of demolition because we were amid the shelling and the battle. In fact, President Ahmadi Nejad answered our call generously. Now I will not go into monetary facts and figures. Maybe once I tackled that a little. However away from embarrassments and political remarks, I will tackle some objective and practical facts and figures.
From the very first moment following the end of the war, we formed committees and rapid working mechanisms. Allow me to say what I might never have highlighted before. What was achieved following July War was unparalleled in the history of wars in the world.
Usually following wars, demolition remains for a year, two three and ten. The displaced people would be taken to schools, or camps would be erected in which they stay for a year, two or three. Until now in that state which was hit by a hurricane some five years ago, people have not yet received their aids. Their houses are not built yet. Every now and then they demonstrate and protest against the US administration… However, in the very first days following the end of July War and after August 14th, 2006, a project for helping people was set. They we paid money without any control over them and following simple mechanisms. Go and rent houses. This is an amount of money to fetch furniture. Go and trust in Allah. We will cover the house rent for the first, second and third year as long as your houses are not built. Until now – and we are in the fourth year and on the doors of the fifth year and we are still paying for many of the families whose houses are not reconstructed yet. Where is this money from? Is it from donations? No. It’s from Iran frankly.
We made haste and great effort to start reparations. In few weeks, thousands of homes were repaired and their inhabitants returned to them. In few weeks thousands of homes were repaired. We did not wait until people take the charges of reparation from the state. For your knowledge, until now some people haven’t received the charges of reparation or residential units yet. That has to do with bureaucracy, the administration and many other things.
However we helped people and paid for the full charges of reparations. What the people received from the state might cover up for other things for them even if under the title of reparation. Indeed these are enormous and huge amounts of money which were not to be paid were liquidity and a rapid working mechanism – allow me to call it Hezbollah’s rapid mechanism – not available and resorted to in addressing this issue. Later on Waad Project was launched. Now I will talk about the ideas and later I will move to figures quickly. Waad Project was launched. In the South, in Bekaa, in the mountain and in other places, the issue was less complicated as there might be one, two or three residential units which are for brothers or cousins and they would agree among themselves.
However, in Dahiyeh, there are buildings and neighbors. So the issue is complicated. We offered what we had to the people. I met with people and told them we are at your service. Waad Project was launched. It committed itself to reconstruct the overwhelming majority of the buildings in Dahiyeh. That will be made clear when we go to figures. A great part of the achievement was financed by Iran which people hope to restore. I repeat part and not all of it for sure. That’s because Waad is working to reconstruct the building better and more beautiful than before, and people are bearing witness on that. Then the Iranian Committee to Reconstruct Lebanon arrived. Then we told them let us carry on with the reconstruction of residential units because this is a sensitive and complicated social issue, while you assume the public projects: highways, main and subsidiary roads, worshipping places, schools and medical centers. They could make a great achievement in the past four years.
Here is a rapid reading. For your knowledge, these are very accurate statistics in Lebanon, and these statistics are agreed on with the side which was adopted by the state. Concerning providing families with residences, the number of destroyed residential units all along Lebanon is 19,918 units i.e. around 20,000 residential units which were totally demolished; 121,300 or so damaged residential unit which need reparation. However there were residential units which were damaged to the extent that they needed semi-reconstruction and were not fit to be inhabited. The families who benefited from the project of residential charges and house furniture were 34,000 families.
The families who benefited from the project of residential charges and house furniture were 34,000 families – more precisely: 34,700 families. Indeed every one may multiple the numbers as it fits him.
As for reparation: 113,000 – 114,000 residential units were repaired. You know in reparation, when there are buildings, common parts are collectively repaired by the buildings’ committees. Jihad Al Binaa assumed covering common parts which were around 1200.
Even in demolition differences – the state put a definite fiscal ceiling for demolished houses, and in some cases this ceiling was not enough to rebuild the house – we pledged to pay the differences in charges, and we have paid up till now the differences for 2429 houses.
As for economic damages, indeed the file was very huge and we could not assume it. We cooperated with the Iranian Committee for the Reconstruction of Lebanon in some projects and offered compensations for institutions with various percentages.
For example, agricultural institutions, plantation nurseries and cultivations: 9,900 cases. Animal and cow farms: 3130 cases. Taxis and working vehicles (We said if we covered private cars that will be a huge burden on us. Thus we limited compensation for vehicles through which people gain their means of living: Taxis, trucks, excavators and bulldozers): 2969. Industrial, commercial or tourist institutions: 11,090.
Indeed the greater burden was on Waad. The number of totally destroyed buildings in Dahiyeh was 250. The number of buildings which people willfully charged Waad to rebuild was 235. Practically there remained 15 buildings concerning which people said we will take charge of them. The number of common parts is 5469. So far, 80% of the project has been achieved. 135 buildings have been turned over and 100 buildings will be turned over soon.
Anyway, 80% of the project has been achieved in general. The Iranian fiscal coverage is 60% so far. 40% are from the installments paid so far by the state to the families and Waad received from the families or pursuant to an authorization from the families.
Moving to the second part which is financial aids, the number of educational centers which were reconstructed and repaired is 141 educational centers all along Lebanon. The number or worshipping places for various sects (mosques and churches) is 73. The number of medical centers is 19 including hospitals and infirmaries. Fourteen main large bridges and 431 sub-bridges were reconstructed besides 110 power projects.
Indeed these are quick figures but imagine how much money and efforts they consumed.
Municipal projects: 380; main roads: 27 roads 287 meters long; subsidiary roads: 844 roads 383 meters long in 251 towns; underground projects: 82; beautifying projects: 151. Now everyone may predict the overall charges. I said we might have some remarks over mentioning numbers but in fact they are very enormous fiscal figures which were offered by the Islamic Republic in direct cooperation with the state or through us –i.e. through Hezbollah and through Hezbollah institutions, and still the Islamic Republic is standing by our side.
It’s natural that the state that stands by Lebanon and the Lebanese people in face of the most difficult and dangerous war and the greatest repercussions of war that was waged against Lebanon all through Lebanon’s history must be met by the Lebanese even if they differ in local politics with what? They must meet it with thanks, high esteem and respect even if it does not want to begrudge anyone and remind anyone of its favors.
Now President Ahmadi Nejad is the guest of President Michel Sleiman. He is the guest of official Lebanon. He is not coming to Lebanon upon the call of Amal Movement, Hezbollah, the Opposition or a definite side or sect. The call was made to him by official Lebanon. All of us must respect this call and deal with it with our Lebanese morals and hospitality. We must be great in dealing with issues of such importance.
Today the Islamic Republic is ready to participate with Lebanon and to the side of Lebanon within its capabilities despite the difficulties it is living and despite the international resolution which wants to impose tough and harmful sanctions on it. However due to its adoration and esteem to Lebanon and Lebanon’s role and people, the brethrens in Iran are ready to participate in projects and in financing projects until reaching helping in equipping the Lebanese Army.
Here I would like to reassure the Lebanese people, the political authority and the political parties because unfortunately we usually ask others to help us and they put conditions on us and still we accept their conditions. As far as Iran is concerned, Iran is offering us assistance and we are showing reservation and putting conditions on it. This is really weird and astonishing. That also means that the political background is above every decision and intention to help and reinforce Lebanon in any field or domain.
Well these brethrens in Iran have offered their services. If the Lebanese wish to cooperate that is great and that will be to the interest of Lebanon. If they do not wish to cooperate, no one is forcing them to do that.
Now the Lebanese government is saying no we do not accept Iran equipping the Lebanese Army. No one is forcing you or obliging you to do anything. You are saying you have a problem; we have lack of equipment and armament. Well there is a country which is affectionate to Lebanon which is saying I am ready for help. If you do not want me to help you, there is no problem. There is no need for anyone to get angry and shout and put conditions. Well Iran is not looking forward to come to Lebanon and have influence in it. That is the rhetoric used now. There is something which is a geographic and historic fact pertaining to the formation of the country. For example, who can pull Syria out of Lebanon? The Syrian Army may pull out of Lebanon, but no one can pull Syria out of Lebanon. Well there are people who love Iran, respect Iran and back Iran whether Iran equipped the Lebanese Army or not, supported Lebanon or not… For thirty years, Iran has offered what it has offered for the dignity, sovereignty and independence of Lebanon without asking for a reward or even thanks.
In the Security Council, when the world wanted to impose sanctions on Iran, we as Lebanese could not take a position against the sanctions on the state which helped us for thirty years. What did the Iranians do? They said we understand your conditions, while that was the least we must have done. But due to political spitefulness in Lebanon, even the simplest position to show support to the friend who stood with Lebanon in the most difficult conditions and is still standing with it was not taken. However how did Iran meet that? Did it turn its back? Did it show anger? No! It said: Take it easy. We understand your circumstances. On the contrary, we come to you because we like to help you and cooperate with you. This is a moral behavior which must be met with an equal moral behavior.
Indeed the state will commit itself to the public visit. As for the popular visit, Amal Movement, Hezbollah and all the national forces who want to show esteem and Lebanese morals have called for a popular welcome on Airport Highway. We also called for a massive honoring ceremony. The call is made by Amal Movement and Hezbollah in Raya Stadium on the first day.
President Ahmadi Nejad wants to go to the South to visit the graves of martyrs in Qana and to visit Bint Jbeil as it’s the symbol of steadfastness, liberation, resistance and victory making. In fact, in the program there isn’t anything like President Ahmadi Nejad going to the borderline and throwing a stone so that they made a political and diplomatic story out of that. Should President Ahmadi Nejad ask me on that I will answer him say: You throw a stone? You throw more than a stone!
So the story was not mentioned and no one mentioned it in the program. They invented it. We hope that president Ahmadi Nejad could visit Bekaa also among other Lebanese regions. But due to the limited time of the visit and its intense program, that will not take place. Anyway, wrapping up this part I address the Lebanese people and all the Lebanese and Palestinians too (because the strong and steadfast stand of the Islamic Republic with the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples is a common point between the Palestinians and us) calling for welcoming the President of the Islamic Republic in Iran Ahmadi Nejad. I call on them to popularly and massively and patiently participate in the welcome because due to the intense program they might be obliged to wait for half an hour or a full hour. Anyway we see this ceremonial welcome as moral on the first hand. Before having political implications, it is a moral expression. That’s the way people with morals and values deal with those who stand by their side and help them especially in the most difficult catastrophes and hard times.
The last topic which I will tackle has to do with the argument taking place in the country for some time now on the STL, the indictment, the international investigation, the false witnesses, accusing members in Hezbollah and the like.
First I would like to recall that the country was quiet and stable. There was a national unity government which was working and moving on. We discussed the budget and sent it to the Parliament. Despite the differences which took place within the government over the stance to be taken over the international sanctions on Iran, the issue was overcome and we carried on as normal. Premier Saad Hariri visited me. We tackled several issues. The meeting was very positive, but in the last issue in the session, as I have mentioned in a previous conference, he informed me that in November or in October Bellemare will issue an indictment on so and so. I am saying this to remind you that despite that I did not show up in the media and open the issue. We agreed to discuss this issue and see how we may address it internally and agreed also on carrying on our meetings.
What took place is that Ashkenazi showed up in the media and talked about the indictment and its content. He foretold the Israelis that there will be an accusation to Hezbollah, Lebanon will confront hard times, the country will be destroyed and be indulged in troubles and there will be a civil war and the like.
Following Ashkenazi’s speech, the issue took another direction. It is clear that the Israelis were the first to invest what was said about the indictment which Bellemare will issue. The first to invest the indictment, evoke and build hopes and open black horizons was the enemy’s Chief of the staff. Still we showed patience before opening this topic. Yes there is a pre-emptive operation so that Lebanon, the Lebanese people and all of us not be taken by surprise with the dangers prepared for Lebanon and with the conspiracies the Americans and the Israelis are preparing for Lebanon. We tackled the issue overtly because it was not enough to address it in internal session but rather it needs the public opinion. In fact this is part of the targets related to the indictment. I wanted to recall how the issue started because people quickly forget how the issue got started.
We ushered in the discussion and the debate. I will try to reorganize the discussion a bit because at times when arguments take place in the country the main topic is lost and we would be in another place. So let’s return to the main issue with utmost tranquility.
What do we as Lebanese do? All of us want the truth. Let no one accuse anyone else of not wanting the truth. All of us want the truth. All of us want justice. Still we want the truth – the real truth – and not what is falsified as the truth. We want true justice and not oppression in the name of justice. This is first.
Second: The way to justice is truth. That means without truth there is no justice. Without truth there is oppression such as the oppression that reached Syria, the four generals, the Abed Al Aal family, many of the arrested and Syria’s allies for four years because it was build on something other than the truth. So what leads to justice is the truth. The question here is – I want to ask a calm question. Let’s calm down a little without any showing off and zealous slogans. Let’s ask the Lebanese – though the issue does not concern the Lebanese alone anymore because after all the conspirators and the accomplices hope that what is woven would target the whole region.
The calm question which I would like to pose is: Will the international investigation in its various stages really and faithfully lead to the truth that in its turn would lead to justice? This is the question with utmost calmness and without any fanaticism. It’s a humanistic question which has nothing to do particularly with Shiites, Sunnites, Muslims, Christians, Druze or Maronites. Again the question is: You as Lebanese have lived this experience starting with the first head of the international investigation committee until reaching Bellemare now. This experience is years old now. Will this international investigation – through experience, performance, conduct and details – lead to the truth? Let’s convince ourselves first in what leads to the truth. The debate between us is not that we do not want the truth while you want it. All of us want the truth. On the contrary I claim the truth which I suppose and which is that Israel assassinated PM Rafiq Hariri. If this truth was revealed, it will cause a great and important qualitative transformation in Lebanon and the region to the interest of the opposition and resistance project. Thus we have a very great interest in knowing the truth even if we were not accused in the suspicious indictment.
The question is: Will the international investigation lead to the truth? The experience we have witnessed so far starts for example with the issue of false witnesses which is a very painful experience that had made you and us suffer. Well after all, Premier Saad Hariri is thanked for the good and kind words he said in The Middle East Newspaper. He said that yes there are false witnesses who destroyed the relations between Lebanon and Syria… There are people in Lebanon who until now still deny there being false witnesses. The testimonies of the false witnesses were taken into consideration and on the light of their testimonies there are people who want now to indulge more in this file. There is no problem in that. Let them expand it. There is no problem in that. No one must be afraid of opening the file of the false witnesses and expanding it. Expanding it is to the interest of the cause. There is no problem at all.
There are false witnesses on whose testimonies a coup d’etat was founded, senior officials were arrested and great political projects for Lebanon and the region were founded. Some people might have had there analyses or information or might have offered untrue testimonies based on an analysis from which nothing resulted. Do you want to put the first group at equal footing with the second group? Everything is debatable. However there are false witnesses whom the international investigation accepted and built on their testimonies results. The international investigation used to leak and we used to know about the report to be issued by the international investigation through the Lebanese councils before it was officially issued. This is well known by all the Lebanese.
Let’s keep more about the experience of the international investigation to the following press conference which I will hold later on Inshallah. However I liked to highlight the question and say: Brothers! Will the report lead to the truth or to delusion, loss, falsification and to accusing those who did not perpetrate the crime, and to the acquittal of the murderer and the incrimination of the friend and the brother with the cover, demand and support offered by some of you? This is the question I address the Lebanese with.
What had taken place in the past few weeks led me truly to ask a simple question: Why did Bellemare insist on not handing in even if a part of the false witnesses’ testimonies? He appeals and he appeals again and then he turns to the United Nations for help. Why was the UN obliged through the assistance of the Secretary General to intervene and prevent the handing in of the testimonies or some of the testimonies of the false witnesses to General Sayyed? Why? Then in face of this scandal they found themselves obliged to try to conceal it saying that was a consultation and a technical viewpoint and not a political intervention. Following the scandal indeed, why is this insistence on protecting the false witnesses on behalf of Mr. Bellemare and the United Nation?
Why is this insistence on protecting the false witnesses on behalf of Mr. Bellemare and the United Nation? Don’t we have the right to ask this question? We used to demand trying them. When he summoned our men for investigation and before sending them for investigation, we sent other brethrens who sat with the representative of the international investigation in Lebanon and made several demands. There is a crisis of confidence. There are several things if you did you restore confidence. One of these things is trying the false witnesses.
Neither the General Prosecutor did sue the false witnesses nor did the Tribunal try them. It did not only refrain from trying them, it also is protecting them now. There is a new topic which is Mr. Bellemare protecting the false witnesses and the UN protecting the false witnesses besides the local protection they enjoy. Why? Does he who wants the truth do that? Well if you do not want to try them, don’t try them but why do you protect them? Let us know what they said, on what the investigation was built and how the investigation was misled? This is a big question to which no one has an answer.
We in Lebanon called on the Lebanese government to open the file of the false witnesses, who fabricated them, and who stands behind them because that helps in knowing the truth. We do not want to revenge from anyone. We only want to know how things moved.
Some people also said there are no false witnesses in the first place. This case is refuted. Later they admitted that there are false witnesses and that this is an issue which will be discussed. The Minister of Justice was charged of this issue. For a month and a half the Minister of Justice remained preparing the file. I would also like to say frankly that the delay was clear. No doubt the step taken by Speaker Nabih Berri lately (and which took place without coordination with the Opposition for reasons that have to do with Speaker Berri; however all of the Opposition showed solidarity with this step) was an advanced position which caused a positive shock in the country and not a negative shock.
Next Tuesday the case will be discussed. I do not know whether in the past few hours anything was circulated among the ministers.
According to my knowledge nothing was distributed. It is clear that some want this delay. The following session for the government must say its final word on the case. The issue does not need two or three or four sessions. It must be over in one session because it is one and only one question. There is one question and the answer on it is very clear. The issue must be settled without any hesitation or delay. The position taken by the Development and Liberation Bloc is the position of all the Opposition ministers: The National Free Movement, Al Maradeh, Tashnaq and Loyalty to Resistance Bloc. Thus this issue must be settled in the following session for the national interest.
I even want to say more. After the file is referred to the judicial authorities we must all follow up so that there be no delay and the case remain in the courts for a year, two and ten. That’s because some people are saying from now that we can’t sue or try the false witnesses before the indictment is issued. This is what has been said from the very beginning.
I go back to the very question to say we want the truth. Will the international investigation lead to the truth? Before the holy month of Ramadan, I presented some indications and data. Mr. Bellemare received them from the attorney general and asked for the rest of the indications. Well suppose that I have indications which I do not want to hand in to anyone. Suppose I do not have anything other than what I presented in the media. Isn’t what I presented in the media enough? Here is a question to the demanders of the truth; isn’t what I presented enough for him to open an investigation on this supposition? Still they did not do anything or take any move at all.
They are saying that the indictment will be issued in December. So the lapse of time is becoming narrower. No efforts have been made on the Israeli assumption, the indications which were presented and the collaborators we talked about who are in Lebanese prisons and their confessions. No step has been taken in this perspective under one pretext: Hand in the rest of the indications. No investigation in the world moves as such. In the world, the possibility is enough to open an investigation. One simple indication is enough to open an investigation. Suppose that an assumption is not enough and despite the fact that a supposition or an indication or two are enough to open an investigation, I offered a group of indications. Neither the international investigation nor the Lebanese judicial authorities worked on that.
Here I pose a question: Did the Lebanese judiciary authorities open again the investigation with the Israeli collaborators who are in Lebanese prisons and asked them: When did you brought in a commando and after two weeks you brought them out? On what day was that? Did they revise the dates of assassinations that took place? Did they take this move? Did they make an effort? To my knowledge they did not do anything?
So the performance and the current actual conduct do not show any sign that the international investigation will lead to the truth. These are conclusions. We have all evidences that say that the international investigation is politicized and fake. In fact it is not politicized; it is rather political from the very beginning. It is a political investigation which was then made judicial. It is not politicized; it is rather political. All evidences, experiences and indications say so. You have to give evidence that the investigation is truthful, serious, fair, professional and judicial. It is not we who have to give evidence on that. We have all evidences that all the Lebanese saw that the investigation is political and invested in politics and used in politics from the very first day. You have to give proof that the investigation is truthful and serious.
Now we come to the indictment which was tackled by the Israelis, Americans, French, British, media outlets and many of the Lebanese personalities in their private meetings and newspapers and even about the supposed evidences of the indictment. Well if there are witnesses on the indictment, what is the guarantee that these witnesses are not false in the first place? Dear Lebanese, when the amendment of the law of the Tribunal was implemented, the amendment of the Tribunal formation was made in a way that protects the witnesses.
Based on the previous experience, who may say that the new indictment was not based on false witnesses?
I do not know. But what is circulated in world newspapers and indeed in Lebanon is that Mr. Bellemare will depend on communications as evidences and will consider that a conditional evidence enough to be the basis for making an accusation. The communication evidence is based on concurrent phone calls at one time or in close periods of time between members of Hezbollah and other phone calls made from other phone numbers for those who are supposed to have carried out the assassination. The question is: Is this a legitimate evidence on which an accusation might be made on the first place?
Second: Are you sure that this evidence is not fabricated? Did the Lebanese ask themselves this question: When we get the analysis or data of the phone calls, is there a capability that Israel manipulate the data? Is there a capability that so and so company manipulate the data? Is there a capability that the US or foreign intelligence manipulate the data? Any of these sides may manipulate the data.
May the evidence of communication (It is possible to open a horizon on the world of communication on very horrific information) be depended on in a cause which is more dangerous than the causes of the past decade?
Indeed in the coming few weeks, a press conference will be held on the issue of communication because it needs technical interpretation. I hope the Lebanese will follow what will be said in the technical conference to be aware and be precautious especially while talking on mobile phones. There are astonishing things which we got to know during the past few weeks because we wanted to defend ourselves. We know that we are innocent but we have to face the proof with the proof and the logic with the logic and the evidence with the evidence. We do not want to level walls on anyone. We are saying this is our evidence; these are our indications; this is our experience; this is the technical viewpoint; this is the technical evidence. Talk with us with evidence, logic, technique and proof. It’s not we who might be politicized.
The last thing I want to tackle in addressing this issue has to do with communication, treatments, solutions and lead-ins to solutions. I do not want to create a pessimistic atmosphere in the country. No.
I say that hopes are still clinging to the S-S (Saudi-Syrian) efforts. So far no one may say these efforts had reached a dead end.
There is something wrong in approaching the issue. What’s wrong in that? Let’s see how we may address the results and the repercussions of the indictment. This is wrong. We as Arabs always make this mistake. We move towards the outcome and give up before the reasons. We drown in discussing and addressing the repercussions. That applies back since the occupation of Palestine to all what is taking place now. This is a wrong methodology. The correct methodology says: Let’s see how we may prevent the aggression on the Resistance in Lebanon and against Lebanon. How may we prevent the United States and Israel from making use of the STL in bringing about an oppressive indictment that accuses an honorable phenomenon in the Arab world namely the Resistance in Lebanon? Let’s discuss this issue. How can we cooperate to address it on the Arab, regional and Lebanese levels? So it is not to give in to the international will which wants to issue an indictment, then we would see how to address the repercussions and the results. For those who say you and I are able to control the repercussions and outcome: Who says you and I are able to control? Who knows? Perhaps those who insist on issuing the indictment are executing the first part of a scheme which aims at dragging Lebanon and the region. The issue will then transcend all of us.
The correct methodology is that we discuss things in such a way and not to run away. Let’s not run to political accusations: Syria wants to stage a coup d’etat against Lebanon; Syria’s allies want to stage a coup d’etat in Lebanon; Hezbollah wants to stage a coup d’etat to grasp the authority in Lebanon. We are fed up with such rhetoric. These are meaningless accusations.
We do not think as such and our mentality is not as such. If that is what we want – now allow finally me to say that – if we wanted to stage a coup d’etat in Lebanon and grasp the authority in Lebanon, we must have done it in 2005. We were able to do that then but we didn’t. If we wanted to do that, we must have done it on August 15th, 2006. Why on August 15th, 2006? That’s because it followed August 14th, 2006. We have our reading for what took place in 2006 which we never tackled and approached. We rather are putting it on the shelf to protect the country and to observe civil peace, coexistence, goodwill and national unity. If there was a need for that, it must have been executed on August 15th, 2006. So let them kindly stop using this meaningless rhetoric which is out of place also. Why do you want to run away from the essential topic to other topics: a coup d’etat, the revolutionists, the authority… Hezbollah wants to attack Tripoli. Where is Hezbollah and where is Tripoli? This is the provocative rhetoric that is being used.
Do not go to marginal topics. Go back to the center and to the essential topic. O Lebanese! There is an international will that is making use of the STL to issue an indictment that accuses members from Hezbollah of such and such. This is part of a scheme that has other parts. Let’s unite to see how we may prevent the onset of this new scheme.
This is what is correct, and this is the sound methodology. But here I am telling you. Indeed America does not want that. For sure Israel does not want that. As for other states, I do not want to talk about other states now. Unfortunately, I find myself obliged to say that there are internal sides which does not want that. There are people who are annoyed by the national unity government. There are some people who are upset by any possibility of alliance or rapprochement between essential forces in Lebanon.
There are people who, in fact – should a broad national agreement take place – would take their true and natural size. You know whom do I mean, and they know themselves too. Yes, people will show out to pour oil on fire, to provoke and to talk about sedition and level walls. This exists in the country. But are we to yield to the reason or face the reason with wisdom, responsibility, efforts and seriousness? We must cooperate altogether: Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Arab world and any friend so that this danger be pushed away from Lebanon, the resistance in Lebanon and the future of Lebanon. The one and only one to benefit from this scheme is Israel. Many people are misled. There are people who from now are beating drums, playing their flutes and preparing for the celebrations on the day on which the indictment may be issued. They believe they are winners. Well they are very much misled by this losing indictment. The only winner would be Israel, those who support Israel and provide it with warplanes (namely the USA so that it changes the equations in the region), those who press on the Palestinians to return to direct negotiations despite the continuity of settlement construction and those who press on Arabs and the Palestinians to tolerate this humiliating degradation which we have seen in the past few days – whether the woman prisoner by the wall while the Israeli soldier dancing around her, or yesterday the scene of the child who was hit by the car, raised in air and then fell down on the grounds. Who has human feelings and may tolerate such scenes? There is also the scene of yesterday’s raid on the houses of fighters in the West Bank in which two fighters from Ezziddine Al Qassam Brigades were martyred. Watch also the scenes in Al Qods of house demolitions and Maqdessis’ displacement. This is America. This is Israel. These are Arabs and these are we. Can’t you notice that all of that is taking place while they are preoccupying all of us and no one is doing anything? They are preoccupying Lebanon with the STL. Yemen is blazing. Sudan is on the verge of war. Afghanistan is occupied. Pakistan is destroyed. Iran is threatened with sanctions. Syria is under pressure. The situation in Egypt is not clear. Where is it moving and what are the others’ games concerning the internal Egyptian issue? This is an internal issue in which I will not interfere. Under the occupation of the whole Arab status, Arab peoples, Arab and Islamic governments, the resistance movements and the siege of Gaza, Israel wants to put into effect the American scheme and to impose its conditions on the Palestinians.
Let’s go back to a calm contemplating pause. I will seriously, frankly and calmly make a call: Let’s approach this issue with such a methodology. This is the correct and sound methodology. We can agree. That is true. We can have a dialogue. That is true. No one is boycotting anyone. No one has taken a decision not to talk with any other one. After all this is our country. This is our fate. This is our society. This is our land. This is our dignity. Our blood is one. Our future is one. Our fate is one. All of us must assume responsibility for that. This is our country which we want to be sound, intact, prideful, honorable, sovereign, independent and green even if we offered for its sake our red blood.