Takfiris are Israel's tool to distract attention from Palestinian cause: Sheikh Naim Qassem

The takfiris were the tools for the Israeli project and they were also a target that Israel frequently used to achieve its objectives in the region, nevertheless they completely failed.


In an interview conducted in Beirut with Marwa Osman, freelance journalist based in Beirut, Sheikh Naim Qassem deputy Secretary General of the Lebanese Resistance movement Hezbollah commemorates the 25th of May the Resistance and Liberation day by saying that the Resistance has managed to create a balance and remain fully prepared in Lebanon to the highest degree so that its presence in Syria did not affect its arrangements in Lebanon.

“What is happening in the region is a network of interdependent events that cannot be separated from each other. The basis of the problem in the region is Israel,” Sheikh Naim Qassem told Osman.

Sheikh Qassem emphasized that “We are committed to the order of the mandate of Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei as we are committed to the Wilaya, as well as Imam Khamenei being an inspirational leader who wants to protect the region from the occupation and to liberate its people and therefore we will continue with all the Palestinian factions in this approach.”

The following is a transcript of the recorded interview with Sheikh Naim Qassem deputy Secretary General of the Lebanese Resistance movement Hezbollah exclusively for Khamenei.ir:


After 17 years of the 25th of May 2000, Resistance and Liberation Day, how is the readiness of the resistance today mainly in the southern Lebanese front?


At the early days of the liberation of the year 2000, several statements were issued from different sides implying that the task of Hezbollah fighting against occupation has reached its end and that consequently there would not be any justification for the continuation of the resistance even with the ongoing occupation of the Shebaa Farms and Kafr Shuba hills. However, the resistance through His Eminence the Secretary General, as well as through its commanders, declared that the battle with Israel is still open and the danger to Lebanon still exists and that the presence of the occupation in the Palestinian territories is a real danger, with a possibility of starting a new occupation in Lebanon or launching a new aggression and therefore it was necessary to continue work on getting ready militarily with all the necessary preparations and potentials to face the existential threat posed by the Israelis. Our expectations were ratified when after six years since the 2000 liberation, a large Israeli aggression in the year 2006 was declared with a pre-planned decision to crush and end Hezbollah as our intelligence from various quarters suggested. This aggression was the flare to change the map of the “New Middle East’ starting at the southern gates of Lebanon. After the blessing form God, it was the resistance’s readiness and attentiveness that has a big impact which resulted in the defeat of the Israeli entity, a defeat like no other throughout the period of occupation in our region. We have learned the lesson from the war of 2006 and we believe that we should continuously be prepared and ready at all times. We are therefore in our best position of preparation for confrontation if Israel decided to attack. We also have the potential and the necessary premises for any defensive situation required for Lebanon despite our involvement in Syria, however our intervention in Syria is not a factor of weakening the Lebanese front. We have managed to create a balance and we remain fully prepared in Lebanon to the highest degree so that our presence in Syria does not affect our arrangements in Lebanon, all praise to Allah (swt).


In the 2000 Resistance and Liberation day, Hezbollah liberated the Lebanese territory from the Israeli occupation; today the resistance is participating in the liberation of the Syrian lands from the takfiri enemy. Does the Liberation Day have a new meaning now that the resistance has participated in the war against terrorism in Syria?

What is happening in the region is a network of interdependent events that cannot be separated from each other. The basis of the problem in the region is Israel. Since Israel occupied Palestine, our suffering from the occupation and aggression began. That was followed by the International conspiracy and attempts to overthrow and change the region’s governments while trying to install subordinate regimes controlled by the West and the US. There are also various economic and social crises arising due to the existence of Israel in our region, and in the last phase, starting from the year 2011, the Syrian crisis led to the emergence of a new Takfiri extremist front which added a new element of confusion and occupation to the region perpetrated by the arrogant west. Therefore we are facing interrelated crises in the region and what Hezbollah did in the year 2000 was an indicator of a U-turn to maintain the independence of Lebanon and spark a sense of resistance among the peoples of the region, especially in Palestine. This infuriated and annoyed the Israelis who plotted to confront it and launched the aggression of 2006 to counter this trend, but Israel did not succeed in that either. They therefore believed that entering through the gate of Syria could cause a major blow to the resistance from top to bottom. But the participation of Hezbollah in Syria with the Syrian Arab Army and with Iran and all the forces that have been active inside Syria against the western agenda, have terminated the Israeli-Takfiri project. The takfiris were the tools for the Israeli project and they were also a target that Israel frequently used to achieve its objectives in the region, nevertheless they completely failed. So for us, the victory of May 25th 2000 is the normal preface to the 2006 victory against Israel and an introduction to the victory of Hezbollah and Syria against the takfiri threat during the past six years. Because we are facing the same aggressive project and therefore these victories are part of the confrontation. 


Since you mentioned the importance of Palestine for the Resistance which constitutes a challenge to the Israeli enemy, Ayatollah Khamenei, issued a message during the conference to support the Palestinian Intifada held in Tehran during March 2017, which included the importance of the continuation of the Palestinian popular resistance against the Israeli occupation, a proposal fully supported by the resistance in Lebanon. What is the stance of Hezbollah Islamic Resistance today towards the new road map, which was recently put forward by the Hamas movement, which in turn is considered one of the most prominent resistance movements among the Palestinian? Will your stance change with the turning in Hamas’s standpoint?


At the conference in support of the Palestinian intifada in Tehran, Imam Khamenei-- may God bless him-- presented a road map which emphasizes that the resistance is the paramount priority, that the Liberation of Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean is a must and that the support of all those who resist regardless of their ideological or cultural trend is a necessity. The important thing is resistant action because this resistant action is what liberates the land and all other issues could be discussed later. On this basis, we as a resistance movement are committed to this direction and move fully in line with the guidance of Imam Ali Khamenei. We are committed to the order of the mandate of Imam Khamenei as we are committed to the Wilaya, as well as Imam Khamenei being an inspirational leader who wants to protect the region from the occupation and to liberate its people and therefore we will continue with all the Palestinian factions in this approach. I don’t think that there is any change that requires us to take a different position, we are with the Palestinian resistance and fully support it in order to confront the Israeli occupier. I believe that all groups inside Palestine want to resist and still are resisting, but with a different perception for priorities and details, however, these matters are not a stumbling block to the priority of the resistance thus we support all Palestinian factions.


It is known that the Islamic resistance in Lebanon Hezbollah emerged influenced by the 1979 revolution of Imam Khomeini, the banner of which is still being carried by Imam Khamenei. Is there a particular incident in your memory with Imam Khamenei that you would like to share with us?

I recall an incident that indicates the extent of emphasis Imam Ali Khamenei sets on the resistance in the face of Israel. When there were problems between Hezbollah and the Amal Movement in the Iqlim al-Tuffah area, The Political Solution in one of its articles stated that Hezbollah should withdraw from the Luwayzah town and turn it in to the Lebanese army. We were concerned at that time that the Lebanese army might be biased to the other party and give the arm to Amal movement, which would lead the area we had defended to fall in the hands of the other group. Despite the bickering, we were convinced that this problem with Amal needed to come to an end and His Eminence leader Imam Khamenei was also pushing in this direction from the first moment. We went see Imam Ali Khamenei to discuss our problem. We asked him what we can do since we are in a position where we cannot afford to lose Luwayzeh. He answered back with a question: If the problem of Luwayzeh remains unresolved can you resist Israel? We said no because we are busy with the internal affairs. He said: If the problem of Luwayzeh is resolved and Amal ended up taking the area will you still be able to resist Israel? We replied again that we will not be able to resist Israel from that region either. He then replied: since in both cases you wouldn't be able to resist Israel because of this internal situation, then it is for the best that you accept the solution because it will be the founding rock of creating an internal understanding with Amal Movement and what you are concerned about might end up not happening. This way you can resume your resistance against the Israeli enemy. And this is what happened. Thank God, the resistance continued and what we were afraid of at the internal arena ended up not happening. On the contrary, matters have developed between us and the Amal Movement to become a state of brotherhood. We are now both on a very high degree of uniformity with all internal and external cases.


After the speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on the first anniversary of the martyr Commander Mustafa Badr Eddine, reports circulated about Hezbollah handing over certain military posts on the Lebanese-Syrian borders to the Lebanese army. What is the guarantee to keep the region safe after you gave sweat and blood in order to secure it? Will we see a similar handing over of posts inside the Syrian territory to the Syrian Arab Army?

The spread of Hezbollah in the Lebanese region of the Tufail and its environs is directly linked to the presence of militants in the Syrian region adjacent to the Lebanese border in Madaya, Al-zabadani, Sarghaya and its surroundings. When these Syrian villages were liberated by the Syrian Arab Army and the terrorists left the area and the civilian residents went back to their homes in these villages, there was no more danger from the Syrian region adjacent to the Lebanese Tufail. There is no need for us to remain in these areas. We are not concerned about the safety of Tufail from the deployment of sleeper cells in Lebanon but the concern was originating from the presence of hundreds of terrorists inside the Syrian territories who posed a threat to Lebanon. Hence, since the threat is no longer existing, there is no need for us to be present among the returned civilians, the task to care for the security and wellbeing of the Syrian people in these Syrian towns is the task of the government of Syria and the Syrian Army. And this is what confirms what we were saying earlier: Hezbollah exists in Syria, where it should be in the face of danger and the threat of the takfiri extremist whose aim is to change the face of Syria and to strike the heart of the resistance. Otherwise, we are not regular forces inside Syria and our job is not to meddle in the internal Syrian state issues and we have no intention whatsoever to take permanent positions inside of the Syrian territories. We are fighting in Syria for a political project. The political project of the Syrian state to remain at its course of resistance, if that is attainable without any presence of us in any place in Syria, no one will see us there.

Although the spread of Hezbollah inside Syria was a challenge to the Zionist entity-- who said we had to fight Hezbollah in 2006 to keep them away from the Litani River-- and today Hezbollah is on the banks of the Euphrates River; so isn’t remaining present inside Syria a forte in the face of the Israeli entity?

The power of resistance is not only the presence of the members of the resistance forces; the power is with all forms of the resistance. We consider the Syrian President Bashar Assad as a member of the Resistance and Syria is a vital part of the Resistance axis and thus whether our presence as individuals or as a party or our absence comes all as an integrated package of Resistance. When we entered Syria our aim was not to substitute for the system of confrontation in Syria but we went to prevent the falter of one of the foundations of the axis of resistance. If the Syrian government retakes full control of the country then our objective would be attained and we would be present inside Syria through the Syrian government as a force of resistance not by actual physical presence of our forces.

Since you mentioned the central fronts of resistance, the southern front to Syria poses a serious challenge for all parties as it is included in the four safe zones agreed upon in Astana talks in Kazakhstan. If Israel violates this region as it usually does, will there be a deterrent role for Hezbollah in the southern Syrian front, in particular in Quneitra?

We do not want to talk about what can be done by Hezbollah in the face of Israel in the Quneitra region. We leave this issue ambiguous for Israel without clarifying how we think and what we will do. Now we are doing what we see fit inside Syria, therefore at any time or place we find it appropriate to protect Syria and the resistance will interfere and protect it.

What is Hezbollah’s opinion of the four zones agreed upon in Astana between the guarantor states (Russia- Iran - Turkey) and the Syrian state? Is it possible for this agreement to pave the way for a possible realistic political solution applicable in Syria?

The four safe zones that have been announced in Astana 4 are the result of an agreement with the Syrian state, it’s a resolution for the Syrian state. We fully support the decisions of the Syrian government concerning their internal affairs on the basis that the government in Syria is taking these orientations for the sake of Syria. We are not part of this resolution to give our opinion and we are not part of the negotiations over this matter. The Syrian State does what it deems fit to do, and they declared that they agree on these safe areas. That being said, Astana 4 talks and the four safe zones agreement is not a political solution but rather is a temporary security solution. The political solution has not started yet as it requires several months to be done, perhaps even until the world figures out what the US wants from Syria. The US is still confused to this day and have not yet settled its options in Syria.

It is apparent however that the US has settled its option in northern Syria by arming the Kurdish fighters and this was confirmed by President Donald Trump in early May 2017. Is it likely that we see Hezbollah engaging in the conflict zone near Raqqa province which would possibly lead to a confrontation with the Kurdish fighters, the US’s allies in that area?

We are not a part of what is happening in Raqqa province. Point.

But isn’t it alarming for the Resistance that the Kurdish fighters are being armed by the US which enhances the possibility of dividing Syria?

The results of what is under way in Raqqa will be revealed in the political resolution later on and not what is actually happening on the ground now. The political agreement will decide how the map will look like in that area and how different powers will be positioned and what would be the status of the Kurds in the united sovereign Syrian state. These are all political addresses and now it is not the time yet to discuss them. The status of that area is still unclear.

Finally on the Lebanese domestic situation; Hezbollah’s stance from the electoral law has been and still is based on the statement of the Secretary-general: any other political blocs deemed as a good law, we shall accept and move on. But what is the red line that Hezbollah might draw on any upcoming electoral law to ensure Lebanon does not fall into the brink of division?

No need for Hezbollah to draw any red lines in the electoral law because what is required by all blocs is to light up all green lines for this matter, since the existence of many blocs and factions in the country is far more important than any red line that might disrupt the political process to reach a fair electoral law. We have presented a logical, fair and unifying proportional law proposal and we have said repeatedly that there are now at the table more than twenty different forms of that proportional law and we agree with all of them. We encourage the different parties to choose one of these forms to reach a solution because after various experiments in search of different laws, all these laws did not receive the required consensus and did not surpass the red lines of the various parties. We believe that a proportional electoral law will be best fitting for everyone as we already have heard positive feedback form nearly all the political parties concerned. We now have only two options, either we hit a power vacuum dead-end which will be bad for everyone, or we accomplish the electoral law, the form of proportional law as a reasonable and appropriate way out of this situation. We are open to all discussions.


Even if one of these laws destabilizes certain alliances existing in the country such as Hezbollah’s coalition with other political forces in Lebanon, For instance, with a new election law, is a change in alliances plausible?


There is no form of any electoral law that poses a threat to us and therefore we're enthusiastic and positive. Also, we do not think that the law produces alliance, on the contrary, the Alliances produce an electoral. Those who ally themselves with one another on the basis of an electoral law are not real allies.