As it was expected, the ‘historic’ UAE-Israeli peace deal did not contribute to the stability in the Middle East. Instead, the situation has been slowly, but steadily moving towards a larger confrontation in the region.
Immediately after the announcement of the US-sponsored peace deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that his country is not going to fulfill one of its key provisions – the suspension of the annexation of West Bank territories. The prime minister emphasized that the annexation plan was just delayed, but not suspended.
“There is no change to my plan to extend sovereignty, our sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, in full coordination with the United States,” Netanyahu said adding that “Israel will have comprehensive peace agreements with other Arab countries without returning to the 1967 borders.”
This unfortunate, but expected statement goes fully in the framework of the Israeli regional policy and contradicts position of the US-sponsored deal reached with the UAE. In particular, Crown Prince Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed emphasized that “it was agreed to stop Israel’s annexation of the Palestinian lands.”
The Israeli actions strengthened the already existing controversy over the deal and on August 15-16, the situation escalated in the Gaza Strip. According to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Palestinian protesters with explosives tried to approach the security fence and then Palestinian forces launched at least 2 rockets at southern Israel. In its own turn, IDF aircraft conducted a series of airstrikes on what Tel Aviv described as Hamas targets.
If the Israeli leadership keeps its course on the annexation of the West Bank areas, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will expectedly escalate, and even possibly expand further. For example, in this scenario, an escalation could be expected in the area of the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights and on the Lebanese-Israeli contact line.
On August 14, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah already declared that the movement “will not remain silent on the crime of the bombing the Port of Beirut if it is proven that Israel is behind it.” According to Nasrallah, Hezbollah would wait for results of an investigation into the Beirut port explosion and if it turns out to be an act of sabotage by Israel then it would “pay an equal price”.
The August 4 blast in the port of Beirut is still surrounded by mystery and uncertainties, and many sources, including the top US leadership, still consider the possibility that the tragedy was caused by some kind of ‘attack’. In this event, the main suspect is Israel, which has always been interested in the destabilization of neighboring Arab states to secure own dominance in the region.
Tensions are also growing between the United States and Iran. On August 14, the Department of Justice announced that US forces have seized some 1.116m barrels of Iranian fuel aboard 4 ships headed for Venezuela. The seizure came amid increasing attacks on US forces and facilities from pro-Iranian and anti-US armed groups in Iraq.
On the evening of August 16, a rocket targeted the Green Zone of Iraq’s capital Baghdad, which houses government buildings and foreign missions. The strike led to no casualties. Just a few hours earlier, the pro-Iranian armed group Ashab al-Kahf released a video showing an improvised explosive device attack on a US equipment convoy in the Anbar area. The group claimed that the convoy was fully destroyed. On August 15, two rockets targeted the biggest US military base in Iraq – Camp Taji. The base is located north of Baghdad. On the same day, a convoy carrying logistical supplies for the U.S.-led coalition was targeted on the highway between Dhi Qar and Basrah in southern Iraq. The attack was conducted by another pro-Iranian group, Usbat al-Tha’ireen. Pro-US sources denied any casualties as a result of the attack. These were just the most recent in about two dozen various attacks on US-affiliated targets in Iraq during the past few weeks.
If the US and Iran continue the current confrontational course, it is expected that the number and intensity of attacks in Iraq will increase boosting the chances of an open confrontation between the US and Iranian-led forces.
Nasrallah: If Israel is behind Beirut blast, our response will be devastating
Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on August 14, 2020, on the occasion of the celebration of the 14th anniversary of the 2006 victory.
This video only captions the last section of the excerpt transcribed below
[Israel assassinated a Hezbollah fighter in Syria, and our retaliation in kind is inevitable]
[…] Today there is an equation that protects Lebanon, namely the deterrence equation (against Israel). And this equation grows stronger and stronger (to our advantage) day after day through the development of our equipment, our state of readiness, our personnel, our abilities, our human, military and material capacities (and our experiences on various battlefields —Syria, Iraq, Yemen…). And Israel and its (American) masters know it (very) well, and they fear and dread it. This is the equation that protects Lebanon today. There is nothing else that protects Lebanon. It is the golden equation Army-People-Resistance, and essentially (the) Resistance (Axis) through the equation of deterrence, that protects Lebanon. It is neither the Arab League, nor the Organization of the Islamic Conference —which is now called the Organization of Islamic Cooperation— nor the United Nations, nor the Security Council, nor the international resolutions (that protect Lebanon). And anyone who claims otherwise, let him come forward and enlighten us with his perspective. […]
[Having spoken at length about the 2006 victory and the reasons for America’s fierce hostility towards us], I will now address three points. The first is about the atmosphere that prevailed in southern Lebanon for several weeks. The second is the historic peace agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. The third point relates to claims that Israel is responsible for the explosion in Beirut. And while speaking of the explosion in Beirut, I will follow up with several points relating to the internal (Lebanese) situation.
First point: two or three weeks ago, or even more, an Israeli aggression in the suburbs of Damascus led to the martyrdom of dear brothers, including a Lebanese martyr of Hezbollah, the martyr Ali Kamel Mohsen. Of course, since (this equation) had already been announced (before), the Israelis were well aware that ultimately, Hezbollah would not remain silent about this aggression and would retaliate (inevitably). And that is why on its own, with no need for any speech of mine, (nor any Hezbollah promise to retaliate and without) any communiqué or statement (from us), Israel has taken drastic (security) measures on the whole length of the border, from Naqqoura to the Golan Heights, over the entire Lebanese-Syrian border with occupied Palestine and with the occupied Golan. Israel remained (standing) on one leg and a half (ready to flee at the slightest alert), and took all necessary measures so that none of its soldiers would be exposed (to Hezbollah) and thus deny us any opportunity to strike back.
Of course, as far as we’re concerned, from day one our decision was to strike back. Naturally, our decision to retaliate, and the retaliation we will conduct, will be aimed at confirming the rules of engagement. Therefore, it needs to be a well-prepared, well-studied (and proportionate) attack, and a serious one (with casualties on the Israeli side). Our aim is not to make any fuss in the media, to show off, or to get on or off our high horses as soon as we are given the opportunity [reference to the pseudo Hezbollah incursion repelled by Israel, with the probable aim of defusing the real response while allowing Hezbollah to save face]. You misunderstood us. We are not looking for media (attention), we are not bragging, and we don’t seek any recognition. There is a real equation, there are rules of engagement in place and very present, and we want to preserve and uphold them. And we will confirm them with a serious, studied and calculated attack: this is (the only way) to confirm them.
And that is why everything that happened since the first day of the martyrdom of our dear martyr Ali Kamel Mohsein and until this day is part of the punishment. Just imagine… And of course, this has caused a great debate within the Zionist entity, the fact that for three weeks this (alleged) powerful regional army has been on high alert along the entire length of the border, taking all safety, prudence and precautionary measures, canceled training & maneuvers, and canceled (the majority) of the movements and patrols in the border area, pending the (imminent) Hezbollah response. It is all part of the punishment. If you kill one of our fighters, then you must expect a response which can come at any time and at any point on the border, and you will have to pay the price for your crime.
And tonight, I (only) want to say that this decision (to retaliate) is still valid, that absolutely nothing has changed (following the explosion in the port of Beirut). It’s just a matter of time. And they must continue to wait (our attack which can come at any time).
[The UAE-Israel Peace Agreement]
Second point: Yesterday, US President Trump announced a historic peace agreement between the United Arab Emirates and the Israeli enemy. Of course, he had some sort of (party) at the White House, (just like a wedding, surrounded by his administration officials standing) to his right and left (and clapping). As a member of this (Arab-Muslim) Community, as a person believing in God the Most High and the Exalted and in the Day of Judgment, and considering that I will be questioned in the Hereafter on my stance about this issue, on a personal level, and on behalf of Hezbollah and the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon, I must say certain things about this.
Of course, I’m not going to get into (long) historical and geographic analyzes, or dwell (at lenght) upon the reasons that prompted the Emirates to do this. I only have a few clear and unequivocal words to say (on this subject).
First, we were (not at all) surprised by what the leaders, or some leaders of the Emirates, did. We were hardly surprised. It was the logical consequence and the inevitable destination of the path they were on. Anyway, normalization (of relations) was already a reality: planes were already flowing back and forth between the two countries, Israeli ministers were already (often) traveling to the Emirates, Israel was already participating in conferences and events (held in the Emirates), economic and medical aid, agreements and cooperation against the coronavirus were in place, etc. It was already a reality.
But it seems (manifest) that the need to announce a (peace) agreement was first and foremost an American need, a need for President Trump to put forward some accomplishment, for (the Emirates and Israel) could very well have continued at this pace for months, a year, two years, three years, etc. I mean if the goal was normalization (of relationships), it was already in force and (almost) total. So there is nothing surprising (in this announcement), which is the natural culmination of the path the UAE leadership has been trodding (for a long time). The current result (was eminently predictable).
The timing (of this announcement) confirms how some Arab regimes are just (docile) servants of the US administration. Trump needs a foreign political accomplishment because his term is coming to an end, and he has no foreign policy accomplishment to show off. (Not to mention) the internal situation (which sees the United States ravaged by) the coronavirus, unemployment, lock-downs, the (disastrous) economic situation, which constitute Trump’s great predicament. But even at the level of foreign policy, he left the Iran nuclear deal in the hope of breaking (the regime), but he failed; in North Korea, he got nowhere; as far as China is concerned, nothing has happened; the Deal of the Century was unanimously rejected by the Palestinians, and there was no real opportunity to get it accepted (by the Palestinians or the international community). (All his foreign policy) is nothing but a series of failures. That’s why he needs (any kind of) accomplishment. Who is ready to provide him with (illusory) accomplishments? His tools in the Middle East!
What the Emirates have done is an electoral, political and personal favour to President Trump, so that he can benefit from it during the (upcoming) election. That’s the reason for its timing. (This peace agreement was achieved) during Trump’s weakest electoral period, according to all polls in the United States (which, unsurprisingly, predict that he’ll lose the elections by a great margin). Likewise, it is a personal and political favour to Netanyahu. Within the Zionist entity, Netanyahu is today weaker than ever since the beginning of his political life: he is accused of corruption, he awaits a trial, demonstrations against him (are organized every day), his government is in decomposition, there have been three elections and there will perhaps be a fourth… He therefore needs to assert something in order to be able to present himself to his people —the people who occupy Palestine— as the one who achieved this historic peace agreement, an historic achievement, (has an) exceptional diplomacy, etc. Unfortunately, such is (the opportunity) that (the Emirates) provide (to Trump and Netanyahu).
And we must expect, until the US elections, that a number (of other) Arab countries and Arab regimes (do the same), and they are ready and (obediently) waiting their turn in the queue, just waiting for a snap of the finger not from Trump, but from (his special envoy to the Middle East Jared) Kushner. As soon as he signals them, they will travel (one after the other) to Washington, to the White House, and there will be several such historic peace agreements between certain Arab regimes (and Israel).
In truth, just as Trump wanted to strengthen America’s economic situation for years, and did it by milking —I use the verb ‘to milk’ (like dairy cows, as Trump said during his campaign) on purpose— financially some Arab Gulf regimes, extracting (hundreds of) billions of dollars from them, today, in order to improve his electoral situation until the presidential elections, he wants to milk them politically. He will extract from them (evertyhing, to the last drop) of their dignity, their image, their history and their religion, if they still have a religion. He is going to strip them of everything they have left, just for his sake and the sake of his friend Netanyahu, who is in disarray within the (Zionist) entity. And that’s why we shouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow such or such country, and maybe even more than that, (announces a peace agreement with Israel). It has to do with (Trump’s) electoral needs. It’s not a necessity. Maybe one country will suffice, or maybe the US administration will think they need two or three countries. All these (subservient Arab) countries are ready, and waiting their turn in the queue. This will not be a problem for the United States.
Either way, what was announced is now common knowledge and will be ratified within days or weeks by the current ruler of the Emirates. It was something to be expected, and reflects many Arab (treacherous) policies in our region, in which the (only) criterion is the approval of the United States. Whatever pleases the United States, they do (eagerly). What pleases the United States is to be at the service of Israel, to make peace with Israel, to recognize Israel, and so they all line up (obediently to do whatever their US master asks of them). (Likewise, when Washington asks them) to be hostile to the enemies of Israel, to fight the enemies of Israel, to fight (the Axis of) Resistance, to turn their backs on the Palestinian people, to abandon Al -Quds (Jerusalem), they all cry out ‘We hear and obey’ (Quranic verse adressed by believers to God and His Messenger) and just do it. This is the real situation today.
Anyway, day after day, it is shown that what the official Arab media and a large number of Arab regimes have done, especially in the Gulf, by speaking (constantly) of “the Iranian enemy”, by portraying Iran as a great threat, etc., it was all just smoke bombs to make peace with Israel, to recognize Israel and to establish relations with Israel, in order to (enable it to) devote itself (to its) real enemy, namely Iran. But at the same time, many of all (these countries) who speak of Iran as an enemy are trying to contact Iran behind the scenes, reassure Iran, and build relationships with Iran. Their public statements are hostile and aggressive, but behind the scenes they are saying something quite different. And they hope to get to a point where they will have very good relations with Israel, and very good relations with Iran, because they are weak, and have no color, no taste and no smell. In truth, the smallest storm from here or there can shake their thrones. I will say no more and I will express our position in two points.
The first point is that we all have a humanitarian, religious, legal, jihadist, moral, national and community obligation to stand up and say (loud and clear) that we denounce, reject and condemn this (peace agreement). It is a betrayal of Islam, a betrayal of Arabity, a betrayal of the (Muslim) Community, a betrayal of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and of the Palestinian people, a betrayal of the (Muslim and Christian) holy places. What the Palestinians said is true: it was an act of treason, a stab in the back. Any similar words (of condemnation) are fair to characterize this position (of the Emirates). If we cannot do anything concrete to fight this most execrable and detestable act perpetrated by the rulers of the Emirates, we can at least reject it by words (of condemnation). And the weakest degree of faith (for those who are at risk if they speak out publicly, especially inside Arab dictatorships) is to cast it into our hearts. But many can denounce it through a public stance (without endangering their life, freedom or livelihood), and if they keep silent today, they will pay (for this silence) on the Day of Judgment. The first point is therefore the necessary denunciation and condemnation of this peace agreement.
And in the second point, I address the Palestinian people who is oppressed and betrayed today, as well as the Arab and Muslim peoples who remain (committed) to the heart of the Palestinian cause, and to the Resistance movements: I tell them that we have to be angry in our hearts, and view this heinous act as despicable betrayal, but we are not to be saddened. Don’t be saddened. On the contrary, it is good that the masks fall off. It is good that what was happening under the table is done above the table. It is good that what was done in secret is now done in public. Basically, it is one of the divine, historical and social customs, as we have seen (time and time again) through the ages and in societies, just as it is something clearly established in the Holy Quran: when God the Most High decrees that the Front of Truth is approaching (the ultimate) victory, it must get rid of its burdens, purify itself, cleanse its ranks, expel hypocrites, liars and those who plot (against it), the submissive, those who stab him in the back. The fact that these people get out of the Front of Truth, the Position of Truth and the Cause of Truth —in this case the Palestinian cause—, far from being harmful, will on the contrary make the Resistance movements, the peoples of the Resistance and the regimes that believe in the Resistance (stronger), because this will allow the Resistance Front to clearly distinguish its friends from its enemies, to purge its ranks by getting rid of the hypocrites. This is a natural condition (for success).
Therefore, just as we are well aware of the hateful aspect of this betrayal of the Emirates, which must make us angry, we must say “You may hate something, and it may be (yet) a blessing for you” (Quranic verse). When the ranks of the (Muslim) Community become clean, healthy and purified of all those people who (can) stab you halfway, at a quarter of the way or (just) before the end of your journey and thus upset the equations, of those who plot against you, who present themselves as your friends but are your enemies, your adversaries and are nothing but spies (in the service of the enemy), on the contrary, it is a (very) good thing, even if it is painful. This is a (very) good thing, even if it is painful, just as it is painful to get rid of unhealthy parts of the body so that the body can regain its health, and get stronger and healthier.
The third point with regard to Israel is the explosion at the port of Beirut… (Before getting to this) I just want to mention one last thing: in Lebanon, we were always accused of going against the “Arab unanimity” (in the Israeli-Palestinian question) and we were accused of “leaving Arab unanimity” (by making the choice of the armed Resistance), but where is the Arab unanimity? The Emirates are going their own way. Where is the Arab peace initiative on the table? Is there even a table (of negotiations) and an Arab peace plan left? Does the Arab League still exist? Do we still have official Arab regimes? I’m not asking the question “Are there any Arabs left” because (these Arab rulers) are not the (genuine) Arabs. Arabs are other people (the resistant peoples of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine, etc.).
[Beirut explosion: accusations against Israel cover up slanderous accusations against Hezbollah]
The third point is (the explosion at) the port of Beirut. I will approach this issue by mentioning Israel’s (alleged implication) and continue with the Lebanese internal situation. Of course, we in Hezbollah do not (yet) have a conclusion as to the causes of the explosion in the port of Beirut. If anyone asks us what the analysis (and conclusion) of Hezbollah are, we will say that we have no account (certain and proven of how the events unfolded). The correct conclusions will be made by the authorities conducting the investigation, and we are not in charge of the investigation. We have not been charged with this responsibility. It is not our responsibility (anyway), it is that of the State, justice and security authorities of Lebanon. And now we hear that they have asked for help from American experts, we have heard that FBI experts are coming or are already there, as well as French experts, etc.
In theory, there are two main possibilities. Either the first or the second (must be true). The first possibility is that it was an accident. It’s a possibility. I did not discuss these assumptions in my previous speech. Maybe there was this stockpile of nitrate (ammonium) on one side, a stockpile of fireworks nearby, some workers were using blowtorches, the flames hit the fireworks and started the fires, and the fireforws exploded (in all directions) and detonated the nitrate. This explosion would therefore be an accident (according to this theory). And all this would only be due to negligence, corruption of the administration, irresponsibility, recklessness, etc. Therefore, the first theory excludes the intentional act. The second theory is that this is an intentional act. It could have been executed in various ways: some have spoken of warplanes or drones carrying out strikes, which is not supported by any evidence so far. Another theory is a direct human intervention which would have started the fire or placed a small explosive charge which would have caused this fire and these successive explosions. Who could be the instigator of this intentional criminal act? Maybe this or that part, or maybe Israel. No one can rule out this possibility.
As for us, Hezbollah, we are awaiting the results of the investigation. Some claim that Hezbollah (already) knows how this explosion occurred, and that anyway Hezbollah knows (absolutely) everything about Lebanon, and that it has intelligence capabilities that keep it informed of everything that happens inside Lebanon. I’ve said in the past that (most of the time) we’re either underestimated or overestimated (by both friends and enemies). But I swear by God that we are not (omniscient nor omnipotent)! There are a lot of things, a lot of regions, a lot of organizations and a lot of events that we ignore, and it’s not our job (to know everything) anyway. This is the job of the State and its security agencies. What concerns us is the Resistance, it is Israel. Of course, the direct security of the Resistance concerns us. But let me be clear, because there are some of our friends and supporters who speak out on TV (asking from us the impossible): We don’t have the capacity to take responsibility for internal national security. We are incapable of it. I’m not (merely) saying we don’t want to do it. Of course, we don’t want to do it anyway (if we were tasked with police tasks, it could lead to many problems and ultimately civil war), but (even if we wanted to), we wouldn’t be able to! Why do you want to place an unbearable burden on us? This is the responsibility of the State, which has a budget, collects taxes, has a very large number of soldiers, security forces, an Army, (legions of public servants), etc. Either way, we do not have a full account of what happened, we are not in charge of the investigation, and we do not have precise (and definitive) information about the way this explosion happened. We are therefore awaiting (the results of) the investigation.
If the investigation establishes that it was an accident, then the judiciary will have to establish who is legally responsible for the carnage and punish them. If it is an act of sabotage, then there will still be (Lebanese) officials to identify and punish, because the fact that these explosives were stored for 6 years and that fireworks were stored nearby is in itself criminal negligence. But it will be necessary to identify who is the instigator of this act of sabotage. If this is Israel, then everything will be turned upside down.
I have read certain statements, and listened to certain press conferences, just as I have been informed that in Lebanon and outside Lebanon is said the following: the person responsible for this act of sabotage is the Israeli enemy… But of course, the purpose of these allegations is not to condemn Israel, but Hezbollah! (These rumors therefore say that the responsible for the explosion is Israel), that Hezbollah knows it (very well) but that we remain silent and hide this truth because we don’t want an escalation by retaliating against Israel, and that we are weak and incapable of retaliating against Israel. These are the rumors that prompt me to bring up this point.
Anyway, the investigation must continue, and give (clear) answers to the Lebanese people, and not to Hezbollah: to the Lebanese people as a whole and to the entire Lebanese State, because it is a huge national and humanitarian disaster that affected everyone. And God’s mercy has (largely) spared us. The mercy of God caused a large part of the explosion to be absorbed by the sea, and it is now said that a large part of these explosives did not explode, for if the 2,750 tons of nitrate of ammonium had exploded, the disaster and tragedy would have been much more serious. Either way, I’m not the one leading the investigation, and I’m not the one making the accusations. We are awaiting (the results) of the official Lebanese investigation.
Of course, I have to say that if the FBI steps in, and if Israel is really involved in this explosion, that means Israel will be cleared of all accusations. (This is sure to happen) if the FBI leads the investigation. Likewise, if Lebanon accepts an international investigation, its primary role will be to clear Israel of all responsibility for the explosion —if Israel is indeed involved. And this is why if some voices say that they do not trust a Lebanese investigation, just as you are Lebanese and it is your right not to trust a local investigation, we are also Lebanese and we declare that we have no trust (whatsoever) in an international investigation.
[If Israel is to blame, Hezbollah’s response will be more devastating than the explosion in Beirut]
If the Lebanese investigation concludes that this is an act of terrorism and sabotage, and that Israel is involved, it is not just Hezbollah that will have to respond. The Lebanese State in all its institutions, the Lebanese people in all its components, all forces and all political parties and all the Lebanese will have to stand up and respond to this Israeli aggression against the port of Beirut, against a warehouse storing such (quantities of) explosives. This is not an operation that targets Hezbollah, but all the Lebanese people, the Lebanese State and all the sects of Lebanon —I regret to have to specify it (because some Lebanese are still locked in a sectarian logic). So what will be your position, O Lebanese State, O Lebanese people? Are you going to say that since it was Israel that killed, wounded and massacred us, we must forget about it because we can’t do anything against Israel? What will be your position (if it turns out that Israel is responsible)? In truth, every Lebanese and all Lebanese political forces must be ready to respond to this theory, before Hezbollah responds to it.
But with regard to the response of Hezbollah and the Resistance, I tell you right now, I tell you right now (very clearly): (this) Hezbollah for whom it is impossible to remain silent & idle about the assassination of one single of its fighters, and which forces the Israeli Army to remain (on high alert) on one leg and a half across the whole border for weeks, and who is firmly committed to upholding the equation (of deterrence), (this) Hezbollah can in no way be silent in the face of a huge crime of this magnitude against the Lebanese people if it turns out that it Israel is the one who perpetrated it. And Israel will pay a price commensurate with the crime it has committed, if Israel did it, without the slightest thought required, without the slightest hesitation. It is not our answer that is unclear. If this theory turns out to be correct, it is the other political forces and the Lebanese people who must begin to wonder right now what will be their response to those who target them with such colossal violence. Because if it is indeed an attack, (the culprits) will have to pay not only for what happened, but for everything that might have happened (in terms of further bloodshed and desolation). But God the Most High and the Exalted (saved us from much worse). […]
The last part concerning the Lebanese internal situation will be translated soon.
“Any amount counts, because a little money here and there, it’s like drops of water that can become rivers, seas or oceans…” Hassan Nasrallah
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