Hezbollah, Lebanon, March 14

Nasrallah to Address Lebanon on Eve of Indictments’ Release

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:

  1. The reason for the opposition’s walk-out, and the failure of the Saudi-Syrian initiative.
  2. 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?
  3. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s indictments against Hizbullah, which are expected to be given to the pre-trial judge tomorrow.
  4. 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.

Stay tuned.


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.


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39 thoughts on “Nasrallah to Address Lebanon on Eve of Indictments’ Release

  1. Indeed it is a marathon news day in Lebanon.

    Posted by i.e. Lubanan | January 16, 2011, 12:49 pm
  2. HNA upcoming speech looks like a waste of time and an anti-climax for the chief of HA. Bye, bye Hassan…

    Democratic gathering bloc seems to be up in the wind. Jumblatt scrambles for help,


    Could be the end of one of the most celebrated Zai’ms in the history of Lebanon – but don’t cross your fingers. The Beyk may still have some tricks up his sleeve. I still believe it is easier for a wannabe zai’m like Aoun to fall.

    Jibran Bassil on the other hand is trying to outsmart Harb by claiming he stood in the face of the complete sell out of Jabal Sannin. Wow…

    Posted by anonymous | January 16, 2011, 12:51 pm
  3. anon,

    how is Jumblatt’s visit to berri a “scramble for help”

    I don’t think its bye bye hassan I think he is smiling and rubbing his beard right now, things could not be going better for him in the lead up to the impending indictments, Hariri’s audiotapes play right into the m8 narrative.

    Posted by tamer k. | January 16, 2011, 12:58 pm
  4. anonymous, why do you use “HNA”? Isn’t the correct acronym SHN, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah? What does HNA stand for? Hassan NasrallaH ? strange acronym.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 16, 2011, 1:09 pm
  5. I thought that at least the opposition had persuaded Berri not to renominate Hariri, but I guess they really did not dot their i and cross their t’s or they could not afford to provide legitimacy to the Lebanese government once the indictments are issued. It is interesting how Berri’s personal fear that the majority Shia would lose the right to nominate the speaker if Hariri is not nominated to PM trumped other considerations. Does this mean that Berri is a little more strong vis a vis Hezbollah then widely assumed? I don’t know, but now this is something that needs to be taken into consideration.

    Posted by AIG | January 16, 2011, 1:12 pm
  6. Hariri’s audiotapes play right in the m8 narrative? sure, if you’re a brainwashed individual endlessly influenced by the demagoguery of HA which targets folks with no independent critical thinking and/or folks, e.g., in Lebanon, with no real access to real objective news.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 16, 2011, 1:12 pm
  7. It’s the same story over and over again, just like the story that 2006 was a “divine victory.”

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 16, 2011, 1:14 pm
  8. Is it possible at all that Berri would want to distance himself a little or a lot from Hezbollah so that in the case of Shia-Sunni strife, his followers would be protected? This is a possible game changer that I have so far discounted.

    Posted by AIG | January 16, 2011, 1:15 pm
  9. anon;

    WJ is irrelevant! No tricks unless he rolls and bends over for Bashar.:D
    Stop reading too much in every news bit. See the big picture. There will no government in the near future (I am willing to bet a bottle of Barolo on that) and Nassrallah’s ramblings will be nonsensical and aimed to his sheeple!

    Once the indictments are made public; the winds will shift accordingly!

    tamer the only reason Nassrallah is rubbing his beard is because he has lice from living in a hole in the past five years. 😀

    Posted by danny | January 16, 2011, 1:16 pm
  10. HP,

    Ditto on all counts.

    Posted by danny | January 16, 2011, 1:18 pm
  11. Danny,

    I was the first to say WJ is irrelevant three threads ago.

    The piece of news I brought is just proving that. I am not predicting any government will form.

    I agree it is the era of the STL and indictments for sometime to come.


    There is a good reason for that. I will stick with HNA.

    Posted by anonymous | January 16, 2011, 1:25 pm
  12. anon;

    Good for you on your prediction. Most of us knew that since 2006 when HA changed the rules of the game. However I was responding to #2!
    WJ has bupkus!

    Posted by danny | January 16, 2011, 1:32 pm
  13. anonymous, now you’re making very curious. Should I keep guessing what HNA stands for or will you tell us (or maybe you’ve told us before and I missed it)?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 16, 2011, 1:35 pm
  14. Danny,

    Judging by the events in Tunisia, it seems to me that you are better off these days “living in a hole in the past five years” than assuming residence in more opulent surroundings.

    Posted by EHSANI2 | January 16, 2011, 1:38 pm
  15. EHSANI2,

    You would be correct only if you were a rat or a blood sucking dictator…Both fit to both!! 😀

    Posted by danny | January 16, 2011, 1:42 pm
  16. Ehsani,

    Any chance of what is happening in Tunisia happening in Syria? What do you think?

    Posted by AIG | January 16, 2011, 1:49 pm
  17. Good questions from those commentators about Syria and dictators.

    Ikhwan, feeling outdone by the Tunisians, are threatening civil disobedience.


    I was responding to QN about WJ when he was trying to put forward the argumant that WJ will be the ‘king maker’.


    I will decide to switch or not from HNA to your acronyms after the STL says its word. That should be a good clue for now.

    Posted by anonymous | January 16, 2011, 2:01 pm
  18. “Any chance of what is happening in Tunisia happening in Syria?”

    Why is it that this question is asked about Syria but not Morocco, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, UAE, and Yemen? Or how about Israel, where almost half the population, if you include the occupation and Gaza, are unrepresented in government?

    In the war of yuppie billionaires and Salafists against religious conservatives and leftists what’s a social democrat to do?
    Logically the answer is pretty clear, but people follow their daddy more than logic.
    Qué es más moderna: the AKP or the Generals?
    The author of this blog would struggle over that one I’m afraid.
    Modernism and acceptance of modernity are not the same thing.
    Modernism is an ideology.
    Two cheers [1.5?] for Nasrallah.

    Posted by Queequeg AbuKhalil the Jew | January 16, 2011, 2:20 pm
  19. ya anonymous, curiouser and curiouser, please tell us if HNA is an acronym or just three letters put together to refer to Hassan Nasarallah, or link to the place where you first defined it.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 16, 2011, 2:26 pm
  20. Hello QN,

    I was expecting your live translation, but it seems that I will have to wait for the wrap up of english speaking media a bit later 😦

    Anyway, no pb… it’s just an additional motivation to start learn arabic !!


    Posted by Nour | January 16, 2011, 2:39 pm
  21. AIG,

    1- Syria is technically in a state of war with Israel. It owns the issue of a legitimate struggle to get back her land. Tunisia did not. It had no excuse for the lack of jobs or for its trains not to run on time.
    2- Syria has in place a very strong emergency law (Egypt does too). Tunisia only implemented its own 72 hours before the fall of its presidency.
    3- Syria’s only established anti-government party is the Moslem Brotherhood, hardly a group that the international community would tolerate post 09/11. Aljazeera is already quoting the head of the MB with a threat to mobilize his banned party.
    4- While Syria does have its own issues with wealth concentration, it is not much different than many other regional countries.
    5- The Tunisian social media platform is not nearly as developed as that in Syria
    6- Syria has already been in a near-death experience back in 1980. When a company goes nearly bankrupt, it sets in place very strong procedure to avoid a repeat.
    7- The fact that Tunisia went through this makes it harder and not easier for others to mobilize. Governments across the region must be vastly more prepared now than they would have been prior to the events on Friday.

    Posted by EHSANI2 | January 16, 2011, 2:59 pm
  22. Ya HP,

    Here’s another clue. HNA’s last name is a compound name of two words. Each letter in that acronym refers to one word. One of those letters however could refer to two opposites depending on how one expands the letter. So, please do not ask me more details for now.

    Here’s some updates on Tunisia:

    The army is moving in to take over power. Battles are raging between the army and about a 1000 men from the Presidential security force. Keep your eyes on a man by the name of General Ammar who may emerge as the new ruler of the ‘Yasmin’ republic.

    To all the Phoenicians on this blog:

    You guys must remember that you have an ancient connection with the Yasmins through Carthage and Alissar.

    Posted by anonymous | January 16, 2011, 3:26 pm
  23. “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.”

    I think this point needs further elaboration. He is claiming that because future bloc reps doubt the veracity of the recording so quickly why aren’t they doubting the veracity of the cell phone network analysis as also possibly fabricated.

    I think the CBC piece was quite good in laying out the evidence for indicting Hizballah, I also think that there is a qualitative difference between the recording which ended up being true anyway and the cell phone networks.

    I think this is proof that Hizballah was either monitoring hariri very closely or that they did indeed have something to do with the assassination. Now the fact that the US is using this to get rid of Hizballah I think should be kept seperate, but the cell phone networks are quite incriminating.

    Posted by Tarek | January 16, 2011, 3:39 pm
  24. In my comment 21 above:

    5- The Tunisian social media platform is not nearly as developed as that in Syria

    is meant to read the other way around of course:

    Tunisian had better access to social media networks that were used to mobilize followers while emergency laws were absent too

    Posted by EHSANI2 | January 16, 2011, 3:41 pm
  25. anonymous, thanks. I got the simple acronym and I won’t ask about the alternative you cite.

    As far as SHN’s speech, hmm, a bit of an anticlimax, is it?
    Declarative statements about the fact that M14 and Hariri want “foreign intervention” in internal Lebanese decision are quite hypocritical. So, when consultations are open it’s foreign interference and when blind allegiance and hence following of orders of Wilayat-al-Faqih are implicit in their details although clearly stated in HA’s goals, that’s OK ? Furthermore, it is truly naive to infer that Saad Hariri is kowtowing to the foreign powers. The man lost his father to an abject assassination and will follow the truth wherever it leads, HA and Syria notwithstanding. Give the man some respect for his lot even if you’ll criticize or even mock his literary prowess. Furthermore, he is not functioning in a vaccuum. Many a Lebanese patriot, not the least of whom is Fouad Siniora, whose erudition and mastery of Arabic no one can question, are part of the advisory circle for Hariri.

    The whole agenda, from the very beginning, from the March 8, 2005 demonstration, through every action, assassination, sit-in, etc., has been to defend HA and Syria against the day of reckoning when the true assassins of Rafiq Hariri – Mr. Lebanon – are revealed without doubt.

    I’ll eat my words and apologize if I’m proven wrong. Will the others who advocate the opposite position pledge the same?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 16, 2011, 3:43 pm
  26. Here’s a sum up of HNA speech in English saving QN the effort,


    Posted by anonymous | January 16, 2011, 3:47 pm
  27. Sleiman Franjieh has just stated that his bloc will present former PM Omar Karami as their nominee for PM when the m8 bloc meets tomorrow.

    Posted by tamer k. | January 16, 2011, 4:04 pm
  28. “Nasrallah: I have already expressed my belief that the Israelis assassinated Rafik Hariri to change Lebanon.”

    This is such an absurd logic that only the HA brainwashed will buy into. If we’re to assume Israel is behind the assassinations, why would Israel eliminate moderate and western-leaning politicians in Lebanon? Ones that more likely to reach some kinda of peaceful agreement with Israel rather than cause conflicts.

    Nasralaha and Syria are the clear beneficiary of eliminating Hariri no matter how he spins it.

    Posted by ak | January 16, 2011, 4:06 pm
  29. “Nasralaha and Syria are the clear beneficiary of eliminating Hariri no matter how he spins it.”

    Courts of course don’t work on beneficiary analysis but on evidence and in this case it will have to be irrefutable evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt. The STL will of course settle and answer this issue in the near future. It looks like the indictments will not be made public for another 6-10 weeks as the Monday-Tuesday deadline will see them delivered to a judge that will study them while they remain secret from the public. Only when he thinks that the evidence is good-to-go will we all know anything of substance.

    Posted by EHSANI2 | January 16, 2011, 4:29 pm
  30. Anyone have any thoughts on what we can conclude about the coming week from his language…?

    For starters, his outline of options for preventing strife were all options that had not been taken in the recent PAST (rather than options CURRENTLY on the table…)

    Second, his language: “we will not be silent…taking to the streets…”

    More to the point, he de-linked government formation and the indictments. This seems to suggest two different (and unrelated) responses. One about the government that will proceed through negotiations (and his repeated references to constitutionality) …and the other about how the indictments that proceed. Proceed how..? Well, “we will defend our legitimacy and presence…”

    This seems much more strident than the language used in the Dec 05-Feb 06 and Nov 06-May 08 walk outs, especially this soon after the resignations.

    Course it’s all political tea-leaf reading…


    Posted by mickanthrope | January 16, 2011, 4:33 pm
  31. “Nasrallah :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”

    Does everyone agree that it was the American’s who pulled the plug on the latest round of negotiations? I’m struggling to understand why Saad would allow the Americans to pressure him into doing this…if the Saudis and Syrians were so close to reaching an agreement…

    Posted by doulz | January 16, 2011, 4:55 pm
  32. @31,

    A crystal ball shows he (HNA) recalled to QOM for retirement and replaced by next in line.

    Timeline: after indictment submission and before approval by judge.

    Posted by anonymous | January 16, 2011, 4:55 pm
  33. Hi guys,

    Let’s shift the discussion (or not) over to the latest post, where I offer some post-speech thoughts.


    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 16, 2011, 4:56 pm
  34. I think Nasrallah is a great storyteller. He picks up facts and makes an entertaining story out of them.

    Here’s an example:

    He claimed that the STL is hurrying up to release the indictments prior to the conclusion of the parliamentary consultations. In fact, the release of the indictments next week is invisible to the public and just to the eyes of Fransen. The indictment will only be made public after a number of weeks, which is far after the conclusion of parliamentary consultations.

    Another distortion of the facts by Nasrallah via an interplay of his vivid twisted imagination.

    Posted by EV | January 16, 2011, 6:10 pm
  35. EHSANI2 @ 30

    “Courts of course don’t work on beneficiary analysis but on evidence and in this case it will have to be irrefutable evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

    Of course, in a criminal murder case, proof of motive (who benefits) is always relevant.
    Of course, no system of justice requires “irrefutable evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

    Of course, why bother looking it up when you are only playing amatuer armchair analyst.

    Click to access RPE_EN_November_2010_Modified.pdf

    SLT Rule 68
    “(F) The Pre-Trial Judge shall examine each of the counts in the indictment and any supporting materials provided by the Prosecutor to determine whether a prima facie case exists against the suspect.”

    STL Rule 148
    “A finding of guilt may be reached only when a majority of the Trial Chamber is satisfied that guilt has been proved beyond reasonable doubt.”

    Posted by blackpoint | January 16, 2011, 6:24 pm
  36. Does anyone have a full transcript of the speech? I only caught the last half last night and would love to read it in full. English or Arabic is fine, I just can’t find it.


    Posted by Joel | January 17, 2011, 4:25 am
  37. HP @25 says:
    The whole agenda, from the very beginning, from the March 8, 2005 demonstration, through every action, assassination, sit-in, etc., has been to defend HA and Syria against the day of reckoning when the true assassins of Rafiq Hariri – Mr. Lebanon – are revealed without doubt.

    This has been my exact thinking since 2005.
    If one stops getting bogged down at the microcosm level, and looks at the bigger picture, going back to 2005, one certainly sees a very clear “path” and sequence of logical steps all leading up to the same goal.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 17, 2011, 3:46 pm


  1. Pingback: Beirut Spring: Nasrallah’s Speech - January 16, 2011

  2. Pingback: Some Post-Speech Thoughts « Qifa Nabki | A Lebanese Political Blog - January 16, 2011

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