Hizbullah secretary-general Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah will give a live televised address this evening at 8:30 PM Beirut time (6:30 PM GMT). Arabic speakers outside Lebanon will almost certainly be able to watch the speech on this website. For non-speakers, I will be live-blogging and translating the speech here.
I expect Nasrallah to address the following topics:
- The reason for the opposition’s walk-out, and the failure of the Saudi-Syrian initiative.
- The formation of the next government: will Hizbullah agree to re-nominate Hariri if he agrees to their conditions, or are they committed to a different candidate altogether?
- The Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s indictments against Hizbullah, which are expected to be given to the pre-trial judge tomorrow.
- The tape released by al-Jadeed featuring Hariri discussing his father’s murder with Muhammad Zuhayr al-Siddiq.
Because Nasrallah’s speeches tend to run a little bit long, I imagine that al-Jadeed will release Part Two of their scoop before 8:30 PM. Will try to bring some commentary on that as well, but it may have to wait until tomorrow.
8:30 PM: Nasrallah begins speech by discussion the Syrian-Saudi initiative.
8:35: It was clear from the beginning that indictments were not going to be canceled. This was out of Saudi hands. It was in American and Israeli hands. What we were negotiating over was: (1) Postponing the emergence of the indictment; (2) Finding a way to preserve Lebanon from any strife resulting from the indictments.
8:37: How could we preserve Lebanon from problems? The government could: (a) withdraw the Lebanese judges from the STL; (b) stop Lebanese financing of the STL; (c) canceling the cooperation agreement between the Lebanese government and the STL. These three things would not abolish the STL! Far from it. Withdrawing judges, stopping funding, and ending official cooperation would not stop the STL. This was the basis of the agreement. And the other side had demands for our side as well that we were negotiating about.
8:40: The atmosphere was very positive. Then the Saudi king got sick and went to America, and the negotiations slowed down.
8:41: Then Saad al-Hariri said that he was waiting for the other side to take its steps. This was read as a positive development because it acknowledged the presence of an agreement about how to solve the crisis.
8:43: Then, without any forewarning, the Saudi side got in touch with the Syrian side and said that the deal was off. This was after Saad al-Hariri’s meeting with the Americans. This was when we decided to withdraw the government.
8:45: It is clear that the Americans and Israelis were opposed to the Syrian-Saudi initiative, from the beginning. They let it go for a while because they were betting that the two sides would not get to a solution. When they saw that it was actually leading to a solution, they came in to disrupt it. Can you give me another explanation?
8:47: Saad Hariri said that the initiative succeeded but that some parties in Lebanon did not fulfill their obligations. This is wrong. But let me go along with him for a bit. Let’s say this is true. Since there was a strong possibility that this initiative would succeed, why would he go to America and accept to be told that the deal was off?
8:49: What happened to sovereignty and independence and freedom? When America says no, then everything stops?
8:50: I will not reveal what Hariri’s side was asking from us. But one day, if someone else does reveal this, then the Lebanese will have to judge whether or not his demands were really in the national interest. Some of the things that they were requesting may have been in the national interest. But others were purely in the political interest of Hariri’s party.
8:52: The false witnesses were responsible for destroying the Lebanese-Syrian relationship and led to the worst sectarian atmosphere. They were responsible for the political climate that led to parliamentary election results.
8:54: One of the things that was being requested from us as part of the S-S initiative was closing the file on the false witnesses. You (i.e. Hariri’s people) should have been the most interested in discovering the truth about the false witnesses and prosecuting them. And yet, you wanted them to be part of the negotiated settlement.
8:55: Now we are starting to understand why the country ground to a halt in order to prevent a vote on the false witness issue.
8:56: What is comical is that some people in Lebanon are saying that the Al-Jadid recording was fabricated. These are the same people who refuse the idea that the STL’s evidence is fabricated.
8:57: Future TV has promised to publish the entire recording, since Al-Jadid’s recording was apparently taken out of context. How is that you have this secret recording? Where did you get it? It’s supposed to be secret.
9:00: We’ve been asking where the $11 billion disappeared to. When we ask about this, they start talking about how this is raising sectarian strife, etc.
9:02: This government has left this country vulnerable. This government is completely powerless before the decisions of the STL.
9:04: In view of this situation, we had to resign from this powerless government.
9:05: We did not bring down the government in the streets, and we did not demonstrate, nor did we use any weapons. We came in a very democratic way and said: here is our resignation. And what happened? America, and France, and various Arab countries were up in arms, and released statements, and applied pressure, and protested. What does this tell you?
9:07: We are not afraid of their armies or their navies or their airplanes, so how could we be afraid of their press releases? We acted in a democratic way, and yet all of the world’s capitals came to criticize us for this democratic action. What does this tell you? It tells you that the world does not want anyone in Lebanon to criticize or oppose [March 14].
9:09: The opposition is united in its determination in not naming Saad Hariri as prime minister. I will not reveal who our choice is tonight. In this domestic issue, why is the world getting involved? Why is Hillary Clinton making phone calls?
9:11: This is supposed to be a democratic process. Let the parliament vote on its choice. Why should it come under pressure from various corners of the world? Is this democracy?
9:12: Imagine that the American ambassador went today to visit Nicola Fattoush in Zahleh. Does she really care about what Zahleh wants? No, she visited him because he’s working on the issue of the next prime minister.
9:14: The STL was called upon to hasten its release of the indictments. They moved to release them on Monday so that it would happen before the next prime minister was nominated.
9:16: What’s next? I want to be very clear and honest. Tomorrow or the day after, there will be two tracks taking place at the same time. One is the track that will lead to the nomination of a new prime minister. The second is the track that will lead Bellemare to present his indictments to pre-trial judge Fransen.
9:17: These two tracks are independent. On the first track: we consider this to be a democratic, constitutional track. We demanded it. We resigned and requested that consultations would lead to a new government. All of the political blocs have a responsibility, a historic responsibility, over the next couple of days. What kind of government do they want to present to the Lebanese people? I leave all of these individuals to their conscience.
9:19: We lived the experience of this government and the previous one. This was a new experience for us, because we had not participated in governments before. I would like it to be clear that whatever government is formed, that government has to assume its responsibilities. From now on, we will not accept any government to be silent on the question of false witnesses. Any government that protects the false witnesses, especially if it is composed of those who fabricated the false witnesses, we will not be silent about it. Any government that protects financial corruption, we will not be silent about it. Any government that does not assume its responsibilities in a serious way, we will not be silent about it. Any government that conspires against the Resistance, we will not be silent about it.
9:23: We hope that the Lebanese form a government with the priorities of the people. I’d like to say that what happened in Tunisia over the past couple of days should be a lesson to us. What is the lesson? The lesson is that the Tunisian regime always had relations with France, America, and even secret channels to Israel. What happened to him? Those government would not even let his plane land in their capitals. This is the lesson.
9:25: We as Lebanese can sit down and solve our problems. But the other side does not want us to solve our problems as Lebanese. It wants the intervention of other countries.
9:26: Finally, with respect to the indictments. We’ve described it as an American-Israeli tribunal, based on facts. We are going to defend our own dignity and presence. This second track is completely independent from the first track. We will not accept our reputation or our dignity to be touched by this tribunal or even by any accusation. My conviction is that the Israelis assassinated Rafiq al-Hariri. George Bush was a crazy man; now they’re saying that the current guy [i.e. Obama] is a bit better.
9:30: The consultations may indeed lead to the re-nomination of Prime Minister Hariri. That’s fine, but it will still be a new era.
9:31: End of broadcast.