Hezbollah, Lebanon

Nasrallah To Discuss Hariri Tribunal Tonight

Hizbullah secretary-general Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah will be interviewed this evening on al-Manar at 21:30 PM Beirut time (14:30 PM EST, 18:30 GMT). I expect it to be an important exchange, and the choice of an interview format (rather than a formal address) may suggest that Nasrallah is aiming to defuse tensions resulting from all the “Hizbullah-killed-Hariri” rumors in the Lebanese press.

For English-speakers, you’ll be able to follow the highlights on Naharnet and NOW Lebanon. Arabic speakers can probably find a live streaming feed of the interview somewhere online, and I’ll be sure to put the full transcript up as soon as it is available.

Nasrallah interview

9:38 – Nasrallah confirms that around 12 people from Hizbullah (or close to the party) have been questioned by the Special Tribunal.

9:42 – Nasrallah says that he will adhere to safeguarding the secrecy of the proceedings, in compliance with the wishes of the investigators themselves.

9:44 – Those questioned have been questioned in their capacity as witnesses and not as accused.

9:46 – There are some who are accusing Hizbullah and its [state] supporters of being responsible for the crime. And some are saying that only certain individuals from within Hizbullah are responsible. The first article that accused the party was in Le Figaro, back in August of 2006, after the July War.

9:49 – Nasrallah goes through all the major news reports, articles, etc. that pinned the crime on Hizbullah, up to the report in Le Monde in February 2010. Nasrallah: “I consider this to be a political accusation.”

9:53 – The first to accuse Hizbullah were Israeli leaders.

9:58 – They accuse us of terrorism, of drug-trafficking, of money laundering, all in order to distort our image. This latest campaign is no different.

10:04 – Either the officials are just speculating about the proceedings, or the investigation itself is leaking information. Otherwise, it seems that there are self-proclaimed prophets these days who know which way things are going to proceed.

10:07 – The whole history of this tribunal is full of leaks. It is composed of so many different parties from different countries; so it is natural that leaks occur.

10:08 – The goal may be to distort Hizbullah’s image, to pressure Hizbullah, perhaps even to strike a deal with Hizbullah. I don’t know. But these are all just fantasies.

10:14 – The accusation against Syria of being involved in the murder was a political accusation that has been used since 2005 against Syria and its allies in Lebanon. This political accusation led to the death of Syrian workers in Lebanon and many other problems.

10:17 – There are several problems with this investivating commission. (#1) An investigating commission is supposed to embrace secrecy, particularly the secrecy of witnesses. It did not do this. There have constantly been leaks to the press and to political salons.

10:19 – (#2) An investigation is supposed to consider all possible hypotheses. They did not do this. They only considered one hypothesis: Syria and the Lebanese generals. They did not consider that al-Qaeda or Israel or anyone else might be behind it. If I’m going to objective, I would say that they should consider everyone, even Hizbullah, which they did not do at the beginning.

10:21 – And this continues to the present. The “4 Generals” hypothesis is finished. The “Syrian” hypothesis is finished. So now they are considering Hizbullah.

10:22 – (#3) This investigating commission has depended on false witnesses for four years. Who supported them? Who gave them passports, money, and told them what to say? And why haven’t they brought them in and prosecuted them?

10:24 – (#4) They put people in prison with no evidence.

10:27 – All of these problems lead one to feel that this investigation and the Tribunal are not to be trusted.

10:28 – We are trying to be productive. We don’t want to close doors. There are ways in which the Tribunal can renew people’s confidence in it. Here are some suggestions: (a) prosecute the false witnesses, to send the message that there will be no more false witnesses from now on; (b) prosecute those who are supporting and standing behind the false witnesses; (c) prosecute every instance of a leak;  (d) working on every hypothesis about who might have been responsible for the crime; (e) provide justice for those who were accused and imprisoned. They can’t simply wash their hands of those officers who were imprisoned and accused of being involved.

10:32 – So, we would like for the Tribunal to be considered objective, but there are things that it needs to do.

10:33 – What is our position on the Tribunal? We, like all Lebanese, want to know the truth. We considered the killing of the Martyr Rafiq al-Hariri to be a very dangerous event for Lebanon and for the region. So we were very concerned and we want to know the truth.

10:34 – We will cooperate with the Tribunal so as to prevent the investigation from taking false courses.

10:36 – Our decision is to cooperate. We have no problem with the investigation commission to meet with our members at all.

10:37 – However, if the investigation is trying to drive towards the same conclusions that appeared in Le Figaro, as-Siyasa, Le Monde, etc. I reserve the right to take a different decision. If they continue to protect false witnesses, I will take a different decision.

10:38 – So, for the present time, we will happily cooperate. But we want to see the course of this investigation.

[I’m going to stop live-blogging here, as the interview has shifted to other topics. I will post a full transcript later.]

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39 thoughts on “Nasrallah To Discuss Hariri Tribunal Tonight

  1. Is there a Qnion transcript available of the Junblatt-Assad meeting?
    should be highly entertaining…

    Posted by Bart | March 31, 2010, 10:36 am
  2. Possibly… 😉

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 31, 2010, 10:37 am
  3. “Arabic speakers can probably find a live streaming feed of the interview ”

    So not a man of al manar then Elias? 🙂

    There is a big “Live Streaming” graphic next to the image pasted above on the al manar site (www.almanar.com.lb). Note it only seems to work in IE and the chances are you wont get a connection – When Nasrallah is on, their servers get hit quite hard.

    Alternatively, you can try something like Livestation

    Posted by mo | March 31, 2010, 10:59 am
  4. Mo said: “There is a big “Live Streaming” graphic next to the image pasted above on the al manar site (www.almanar.com.lb).”

    There is? Really? I never saw it… 😉

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 31, 2010, 11:19 am
  5. QN,

    You are an eternal optimist. My sources tell me that he is going to make explicit threats about continuing with the tribunal and that he will try to portray the tribunal as the US and Israel achieving via devious methods what they could not achieve through war.

    I sincerely hope that you are right though and I am wrong. Your scenario bodes better for the future of our region.

    Posted by AIG | March 31, 2010, 11:28 am
  6. “There is? Really? I never saw it…”

    And you call us blind to al manar?…. 😉

    But its OK, NOWLebanon will give an honest and unbiased run down im sure…. Maybe they’ll get Micheal Young to translate..

    Posted by mo | March 31, 2010, 11:34 am
  7. For sure, Michael “Hussein” Young (to use Dr. As’ad Abukhalil’s word), Hanin “Mut3a” Ghaddar (see her article about the issue on the Foreign Policy blog), Tony “Defence of Israel and Zionism” Badran, Hussein Abdul Bush and their patron Niqab Saqr!

    Posted by Jihad | March 31, 2010, 12:16 pm
  8. NOW Leb usually does a pretty decent job of paraphrasing his speeches (see the Arabic section, not the English one).

    I’m not talking about the post-mortem.

    Let me ask you, though, Mo:

    If the STL issues indictments against Hizbullah officials, how will you interpret it?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 31, 2010, 12:26 pm
  9. AIG

    I quoted a story in al-Akhbar yesterday which said that Nasrallah is going to threaten the Lebanese that any attempt to indict Hizbullah officials will lead to a “political May 7”.

    So let’s just say that I won’t be surprised either way.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 31, 2010, 12:28 pm
  10. QN,
    Hey, take a stand, don’t hedge your bets. You are letting yourself off easy. At least assign probabilities to the two different messages.

    Posted by AIG | March 31, 2010, 12:36 pm
  11. My sense is that he will do both. Nasrallah usually mixes 3asal and basal, and does it more elegantly than anyone else in the region.

    He almost certainly say something to the effect that any accusation against the party is nothing more than a Zionist attempt to attack the resistance and to sow Sunni-Shiite fitna in Lebanon. And there will be threats and messages, veiled and unveiled, towards the rest of the political elite.

    But he may also try to defuse tensions as well. We’ll see soon enough.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 31, 2010, 12:40 pm
  12. What jurisdiction does this STL have over a Lebanese or Syrian or Iranian citizen?
    The whole STL is illegal. It was created in order colonize Lebanon and through it the neighboring countries.
    Therefore, the Resistance has the duty to reject any dealings with such colonialist tool.
    Likewise, the Lebanese government has the duty to stand by the Resistance and tell the STL to fish somewhere else, perhaps down south of the country. -:)

    Posted by Ijlisa Nabki | March 31, 2010, 12:40 pm
  13. There is a legal and a moral commitment to play by the rules if one wishes to participate in the game. Any country that expects to become an active member of the international community agrees to be subject to the vicissitudes of international judgments. No organization can be expected to function if its members can pick and choose when to comply and when not to comply .

    Lebanon, a member of the UN, has requested the establishment of the STL and the UN decided to comply. No one has the right not to accept the decisions by the STL whatever they turn out to be. Of course all concerned should have the full right to defend themselves against any and all accusations in a court of law.
    To proclaim ones innocence in the court of public opinion, especially when one is in control; of organizations that can generate instability should be totally rejected.
    Neither Hassan Nasrallah nor any other person for that matter has the right to second guess an international tribunal.
    There is only one person who can watch all of this unfold without any concerns about being prosecuted even if there is an evidence that he was involved. Bashar Assad was given immunity against prosecution thanks to Putin but no one else is above the law.
    Let the games go on and let the weight of the evidence fall wherever it must. Anything short of that will be a sham.

    (It is not totally uninstructive to note that Serbia has finally admitted its responsibilities to the atrocities that it had commited 15 years ago. The international tribunal at the Hague was not deterred by Serbias’ objections and proceeded to deliver justice to the victims whenever it had enough legal evidence to do so)

    Posted by ghassan karam | March 31, 2010, 1:18 pm
  14. “If the STL issues indictments against Hizbullah officials, how will you interpret it?”

    If this had been your standard run of the mill judicial case I would have said I would simply wait and see the evidence.

    But this investigation is so tarnished, so clouded by so much eg false witnesses, an investigator with an obvious bias etc. one has to wonder how much justice is ever going to be gained.

    Saying that, I’m looking at the behavior of people with access to this investigation and people with access to those people and their behavior seems to indicate that this is not where the STL is heading.

    We shall see.

    Posted by mo | March 31, 2010, 2:25 pm
  15. #13,

    Ever the idealist or puritan; or perhaps both!?!

    Very few contributors to this thread -if any- are experts on international law, particularly treaties between a sovereign state and the UN. I recommend reading an interview published today (Wednesday 31) in Assafir with a n noted legal authority who was party to the dynamics of establishing the STL.

    Being a lay person, I will grant my trust to any person/body that shows me, in word and deed, that his/her/their motivation is purely ‘truth’ driven.

    Two FACTS begs my scepticism and consequently forces a gaping hole in #13th assertions and all similar allegations:
    1- 4 senior people were imprisoned on false pretences for nearly 4 years, only to be released with no hint (by the STL itself) of any role in the ‘conspiracy’ to murder a prime minister (the murder of another one i.e. PM has gone almost unnoticed although the perpetrators have are ‘believed’ to hang around with a high profile;
    2- those who supposedly fabricated the ‘evidence’ that robbed the men and their families of a normal, decent life for 4 long years are immune to the STL’s justice!

    #14, I wish you were idealistic and puritan when it gets to REAL justice. For me, the STL is a ‘shady’ set up, at best, and will not have my trust until … Sorry, SHN is on.


    Posted by Questionmarks | March 31, 2010, 2:42 pm
  16. Questionmarks,
    In all honesty I am not sure how you can say that the case of the 4 generals destroys my initial post.
    The jury is still out on whether the 4 are guilty or not. All what we now is that ,if they turn out to be innocent, that a zealous prosecutor ordered them jailed without sufficient evidence. The STL has said over and over again, that the 4 were released from custody bur are not cleared from the charges. That is an impeccable argument in favour of the judicial system that has the capacity to correct itself if and when some of its members overstep their authority.

    If the generals turn out to be innocent then the four years that they have spent behind bars will be a tragedy but not as uncommon as many would like to make it. Judicial systems make mistakes and at times the wrong person is punished for a crime that they did not commit. I am not justifying judicial errors. On the contrary, one mistake is a mistake too many. But if that is the case then that is not a “smoking gun” that the STL is not an objective judicial body. To prove that one needs to show that biased decisions were made in order to arrive at a predetermined outcome without paying any attention to evidence and the law. And that has not been shown to be the case.

    Posted by ghassan karam | March 31, 2010, 3:49 pm
  17. As far as I’ve read [not seen] Nasrallah’s interview, I didn’t read any major threats in his message. Apart from that Hezbollah might stop its cooperation with STL if they don’t stop the leaks and try the false witnesses.

    Am I reading the whole thing too optimistic? Did I miss some hidden/doucle messages? Is any of you expecting an increased tension afther his words?

    Posted by Umm iDriss | March 31, 2010, 5:29 pm
  18. When will Landis understand that the key to prosperity in the region is each country focusing on developing its economy instead of destabilizing its neighbors?

    And when will Landis understand that Syria is weak because of decisions made in the past and present by the Asads and that the way to make Syria strong is to get new decision makers?

    He will never understand this because his whole analysis starts with an axiom that he firmly believes in: Everything can change except the regime in Syria.

    Posted by AIG | March 31, 2010, 7:58 pm
  19. SHN: “We do not trust the STL, but we will cooperate in order to correct its (false) direction.”

    Posted by Ijlisa Nabki | March 31, 2010, 8:10 pm
  20. #16,

    I really thought you are a libertarian democrat; never mind.

    Being selective with which civil liberties you choose to defend depending on political expediencies is a practice worthy of our so-called politicians; those same people that I read you attempting to reform.

    Correct me if I am off the mark here, please: did not the ‘justification’ for arresting and subsequently imprisoning the four generals fall on its face with the assertion by the STL that the ‘witnesses’ were all but fabricated? Doesn’t this fact alone render the whole investigation ‘dubious’ to say the least.

    You conveniently ‘forgot’ to allude to my second point namely the impunity provided those who, by the STL own position, have misled the course of justice (note, I am not even talking about those behind them). You still insist, contrary to legal logic and argument that the 4 men could, I repeat could, be questioned again if new evidence demanded that, while you turn the blind eye to those who it has been proved beyond a legal doubt to have prevented the course of justice, the same concept that has almost brought our country as we know it to an almost disastrous end!

    The STL is not politicised, you claim. Indeed, and you have provided in a few paragraphs ample proof!


    Posted by Questionmarks | April 1, 2010, 2:27 am
  21. On the subject of the 4 generals I think it is a simple matter of karma catching up to them. Those rotten souls are responsible for the unlawful beating and imprisonment of a great many Lebanese citizens. Students and free thinkers bore the usual brunt of the very long arm of these ‘law’ enforcers.

    In my recollection the investigative tactic used while these barbarians were running security was beat everyone silly till someone confesses. I ask those who defend them whether or not they would agree for the STL to use these policing tactics in conducting its investigation…

    Whether they had anything to do with the murder of Hariri is immaterial to their deserved rotting in jail. Justice, like death, will eventually find you.

    Please note I am not a defender of the STL. I don’t think it has any use. It should be replaced by an investigation into civil war criminals. Am not suggesting these criminals be sent to jail, just forbidden (along with their offspring) to play politics. That is reform I can believe in.

    Posted by Johnny | April 1, 2010, 3:50 am
  22. “It should be replaced by an investigation into civil war criminals. Am not suggesting these criminals be sent to jail, just forbidden (along with their offspring) to play politics. That is reform I can believe in.” LOL, if politicians tainted with crime would suddenly drop dead (politically or otherwise), that wouldn’t be a reform, that would amount to…extinction?

    Posted by mj | April 1, 2010, 4:05 am
  23. Questionmarks,

    It is obvious are privy to all the evidence collected by the STL and the investigators and have come to a decision! Why don’t you wait till the proceedings commence and evidence is produced and indictments made…
    Speaking in eloquent terms does not hide your futile attempt trying in vain to deflect any involvement by the HA in Hariri’s assassination along with the Syrian mukhabarat.

    Posted by danny | April 1, 2010, 3:19 pm
  24. “does not hide your futile attempt trying in vain to deflect any involvement by the HA in Hariri’s assassination along with the Syrian mukhabarat”

    “Why don’t you wait till the proceedings commence and evidence is produced and indictments made”

    Posted by mo | April 1, 2010, 6:25 pm
  25. The single best argument against the Tribunal: its cost.

    The tribunal costs Lebanon about 30 million US a year, roughly equal to the entire annual budget for Lebanon’s Ministry of Justice.

    With legal priorities like that, is it any wonder that political assassination pays, and will continue to do so?

    Posted by david | April 1, 2010, 8:19 pm
  26. There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who believe in the impartiality of the judicial system and those who don’t. I am afraid that the latter do not want to keep an open mind and will never accept any judgment at face value since the world is out to get them:-) Give me a break.

    Posted by ghassan karam | April 1, 2010, 8:28 pm
  27. GK, you are wrong. There is only one kind of people in this world. The one that only believes in the impartiality of THEIR judicial system (meaning, the one they think they control to some extent).

    david #26, I didn’t get your about legal priorities…

    Posted by mj | April 2, 2010, 3:26 am
  28. QN,

    Why did you overlook the part where he attacked the Co-operation Agreement between the Lebanese Internal Security Forces and the U.S. Government, which is IMO of equal, if not bigger, importance to his remarks about the STL.
    Regardless of the petty arguments he used to make his point, and despite the fact that his Ministers were in the Government when it was rectified; he said the Agreement should be annulled immediately.
    We’ve reached a time where our Security Forces and Governments cant take the smallest decision related to security.

    Meanwhile, no-one has the right to question an illegal militia, its (non-transparent) relationship with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, its exlusive right to dictate our Foreign Policy, its right to continue smuggling weapons across the Syrian border, and its activities that trespass the jurisdictions of our elected President, Prime Minister, and Government Ministers (such as Defense & Foreign Strategy meetings with Presidents of Iran and Syria).

    Posted by A Purple Monkey | April 2, 2010, 6:10 am
  29. A Purple Monkey,
    Your above post is Spot On.

    The current Lebanese government set up was doomed from the start. What passes for a cabinet is a tower of babel; each group singing its own tune. It is ineffective and maybe even paralyzed. Can you imagine a state that is more than 65 years old and that does not yet have a set procedure for filling civil service vacancies? Is that what ministers are supposed to do? Can you imagine a cabinet that is totally emasculated by the personal opinions of an unelected person? Welcome to the Lebanese republic of pretend. We pretend to hold elections, we pretend to appoint a PM, we pretend to form a government but in the final analysis we are not even a collection of tribes we have effectively become a dictatorship with a democratic facade. We are an illusion.

    I like your description of judicial impartiality better than mine :-).

    Posted by ghassan karam | April 2, 2010, 6:59 am
  30. Hi folks

    I’ll be away from the blog for the next couple of days, as I am attending the American Comparative Literature Association conference in New Orleans this weekend.


    Posted by Qifa Nabki | April 2, 2010, 9:57 am
  31. Sometime soon the STL will have to make its case public. Its time that we put an end to this distraction.
    The March 14 forces are hell bent on creating by force a cult personality of Mr. rafic Hariri. Note his constant presence at all meetings, public rallies and official visits. This case has been so far an excuse for March 14 to concentrate on the wrong objective. Instead of governing effectively they have been totally distracted by a case whose outcome is not in their control.
    The opposition, on the other hand has been preoccupied in claiming that it is for the truth provided the STL does not accuse its members of being involved. That is essentially the position of Hassan Nasrallah:

    “10:37 – However, if the investigation is trying to drive towards the same conclusions that appeared in Le Figaro, as-Siyasa, Le Monde, etc. I reserve the right to take a different decision. If they continue to protect false witnesses, I will take a different decision.”

    Its time for both sides to just declare that they are willing to accept whatever the STL determines to be the case. March 14 actually has issued statements to the effect that they will accept whatever the STL determines the facts to be. It is time that Hezbollah stop their efforts to influence the final decision by insinuating that the outcome of a direct indictment will not be a pleasant one for Lebanon. Is that in effect an effort to blackmail the final decision by the STL.
    We must let this sad chapter of our history just whither away. Let the STL do its job and let us have the strength and the courage on both sides to just accept whatever the final verdict turns out to be.
    We have to move forward and stop holding the welfare of 4.5 million people as a hostage to political maneuvers. Let the truth be told, hold the responsible individuals accountable and let life go on. Retributions and revengeful acts will only harm the collective good.

    Posted by ghassan karam | April 2, 2010, 6:44 pm
  32. While I agree with everything you said Ghassan, it’s just sad that my reaction, upon reading it, is “Get real. Come on! You’re dreaming.”

    If there’s one thing Lebanon has proven, time and again, it’s that the concept of “moving on” or “accepting” anything is beyond their collective comprehension levels.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | April 2, 2010, 8:18 pm
  33. BV,
    But if we do not aim for something higher than the ground on which we are standing then we might as well declare “mission accomplished”. Nice to hear from you. Hope all is well.
    (Sorry QN for using your space as a private postal service.)

    Posted by ghassan karam | April 4, 2010, 11:46 pm
  34. All is well. Thanks Gus.

    You and I may aim for “higher ground”. And I’m sure many others do. But overall, I get the sense that a solid chunk of the Lebanese population does not.
    Oh sure, they speak of wanting reforms, and wanting this and that.
    But I am convinced that if Lebanon REALLY wanted to change, it could’ve done so by now IN SPITE of foreign interference. Or it would have shown a SPARK of an attempt.
    The closest that we saw to that was M14 2005. That’s long fizzled since.
    I am pretty convinced that despite all their talk, in typical Lebanese fashion, it’s mostly hot air, and most Lebanese are perfectly happy with the status quo.

    Sad. But true.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | April 5, 2010, 2:28 pm
  35. An interesting observation was noted in an article by Fadi Chamiyyeh in Alliwaa yesterday. The main criticism offered by Nasrallah against the STL was all the leaks that have been circulating in past weeks. (Following the Le Figaro and Der Spiegel reports in 2006, not much noise was made). But the latest sources of the leaks and news reports were first Wiam Wahhab, then Al Akhbar, then New TV, then OTV, and finally Michel Smaha. Not a single leak was made by anyone not close to Hezbollah and Syria, which makes this entire thing an orchestrated campaign by Hezbollah to pre-emtively discredit the STL in the eyes of its supporters.

    Posted by A Purple Monkey | April 6, 2010, 4:30 am
  36. Purple Monkey,

    Syria and HA have been doing their utmost to create enough confusion and doubts by talking about leaks to supposedly discredit the STL. It’s an old Soviet tactic!

    Posted by danny | April 6, 2010, 8:55 am
  37. duck fuke …

    Posted by david | April 6, 2010, 1:23 pm
  38. #16

    “I am not justifying judicial errors.”

    I wonder!

    I mean I look up to you to condemn judicial errors in no uncertain terms. For a self-declared devout lib-democrat such as yourself to accept the principle let alone practice of breaching anyone’s civil and legal rights begs a few questionmarks; no pun intended I assure you!


    “Why don’t you wait till the proceedings commence and evidence is produced and indictments made…”;

    I thought I was doing just that by flagging the fact that so far the STL has actually put people under the spot light without evidence and gave rise to the so-called ‘political accusation’. The Tribunal made a mess of so far every single stage of its work, be it the initial investigation all the way to the release of the so-called perpetrators –all 4 of them- only because the investigation relied, knowingly or otherwise, on false testaments and statements.

    The four generals could be the ‘baddest’ the world have seen. But how would this explosive yet endearing concept, justice, be served if we accept fabricated evidence and try in a not-so-subtle way to defend and/or justify mistakes?

    “Speaking in eloquent terms does not hide your futile attempt trying in vain to deflect any involvement by the HA in Hariri’s assassination along with the Syrian mukhabarat.”;

    I ought to thank you for the compliment! Then I ought to hastily point out to you that both of my contributions were devoid of any reference, let alone defence of HA and/or Syria. Please read it again.


    Posted by Questionmarks | April 7, 2010, 2:42 am


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