Posts Tagged ‘ Shiite Resistance of Hizbollah ’

Hezbollah leader: Kurdish vote will sow division in region

September 30, 2017

BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group has warned that a controversial referendum on support for independence in Iraq’s Kurdistan will lead to dividing several countries in the region.

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech Saturday night that the referendum held on Monday does not threaten Iraq alone but also Turkey, Syria and Iran, which all have large Kurdish minorities. Iran, Turkey and Syria rejected this week’s symbolic referendum, in which Iraq’s Kurds voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence.

Nasrallah said the divisions would also reach other countries in the region including Saudi Arabia, a country that he harshly criticized in his speech. “The responsibility of the Kurds, Iraqi people and concerned counties … is to stand against the beginning of divisions,” Nasrallah said.

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Hezbollah throws weight behind protests, deepening crisis

August 26, 2015

BEIRUT (AP) — The powerful Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah threw its weight Tuesday behind mass protests calling for the government’s resignation, deepening a crisis that started over piles of uncollected garbage in the streets of the capital but has tapped into a much deeper malaise.

The explosion of anger targets the endemic corruption, hapless government and sectarian divisions of a brittle country once torn by civil war and now struggling with a wave of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.

A grassroots youth movement calling itself “You Stink” mobilized thousands of people in two rallies over the weekend, and has called for another large protest on Saturday. The Hezbollah announcement of support for the protests is likely to fuel concerns the Iranian-backed group will try to hijack a rare, non-political movement for its own political gain.

Hezbollah ministers and their allies walked out of a Cabinet meeting Tuesday meant to discuss the worsening garbage crisis. Prime Minister Tammam Salam called the emergency session after the weekend clashes between security forces and demonstrators protesting corruption and poor public services.

The six ministers withdrew four hours into the meeting. Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil, whose Free Patriotic Movement is aligned with Hezbollah, said he was pulling out because of the political “theater” surrounding the trash issue.

During the Cabinet session, ministers unanimously rejected the winning bidders to manage Beirut’s trash collection, citing high costs and a bidding procedure some said was questionable. The Cabinet tasked a ministerial committee with restarting the bidding, meaning no imminent solution to the crisis was likely.

Salam suggested dumping the garbage in the remote, impoverished region of Akkar, which has been neglected for decades, in exchange for $100 million in development projects as an incentive. That further riled the protesters. “Akkar is not a garbage dump!” read the slogan on one protester’s T-shirt.

The trash crisis has exacerbated the long-existing fault lines in Lebanon which in recent years have pitted the Iranian-backed Hezbollah against the country’s Western-aligned, pro-Saudi camp. Those divisions mirror the larger regional Shiite-Sunni divide, and have long paralyzed the government.

Although Salam’s government has elements from both camps, Hezbollah regards the prime minister as an ally of Saudi Arabia. The Shiite group’s ally, Christian leader Michel Aoun, has been assailing the prime minister over his handling of Cabinet and security appointments.

In a statement Tuesday, Hezbollah said the garbage crisis reflected the “endemic and accumulated corruption of the past two decades” and policies that only serve “personal and political interests at the expense of citizens.” It said holding peaceful protests was a legitimate right.

A columnist in the daily An-Nahar newspaper accused Hezbollah of exploiting the “You Stink” movement for its own agenda. Tarek Sarhan, a 17-year-old “You Stink” supporter, said there would always be groups that try to manipulate grass-roots movements for their own political gains in a country like Lebanon.

The protesters say they are fed up with leaders they accuse of caring only about lining their own pockets and a system they say ensures incessant bickering and paralysis. They contend the entire trash crisis is about which politicians get the bigger cut from waste management contracts.

Meanwhile, the political paralysis continues. The country’s politicians have been unable to decide on a president, a post reserved for a Christian in a sectarian power-sharing system, for over a year. According to that system, the prime minister must be a Sunni and the parliament speaker a Shiite. The current parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, has been in his post for 23 years.

Parliament has extended its term twice without elections and has been paralyzed because some lawmakers insist a president be elected first. Government has not made any substantial decisions as rival parties bicker over the decision-making process in Cabinet in the absence of a president to preside over the sessions.

Anger about the heaps of trash accumulating in Beirut’s streets boiled over this week, with thousands protesting the government’s failure to deliver basic services. The protests turned violent over the weekend, prompting the government to erect a concrete wall outside its main building to prevent protesters from reaching it.

Within hours, the wall was filled with anti-government graffiti. “State of Shabiha,” one young man scrawled, an Arabic term for thugs. Another drawing showed a man’s body wrapped in a black cloth below a caption that read: “The shroud of the state.”

On Tuesday, authorities began removing the wall, just 24 hours after it was installed. “They won’t fool us by removing the wall,” said Sarhan, the You Stink supporter. “Remove it or not, we don’t care. We want… an end to sectarianism. We want to build a state,” he said.

“This is a corrupt government, an immoral government that is starving us and conspiring against the people,” said Hassan Qatayesh, who suffered an injured jaw when he was struck by rocks during Saturday’s protest.

“They raised the wall to protect themselves from the people, thinking that this wall will prevent our voices from reaching them. But our voices are louder than walls, tear gas and rubber bullets.”

Hezbollah leader slams Saudi intervention in Yemen

March 27, 2015

BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah group unleashed a tirade against Saudi Arabia on Friday over its intervention in Yemen, calling it “surprising and painful,” and suggesting Riyadh would suffer a “humiliating defeat” if it didn’t resolve the conflict through negotiations.

Hassan Nasrallah rejected Riyadh’s claim that it had assembled a coalition to conduct airstrikes against Shiite Houthi rebels in order to save Yemen, an operation named “Decisive Storm.” He said that since Israel was created in 1948 “there has been no decisive storm or even a decisive breeze” to help the Palestinians.

Hezbollah, like Yemen’s Houthi rebels, is supported by Iran, which Saudi Arabia views as its main regional rival. Iran has openly armed and assisted Hezbollah since its creation, but both Iran and the Houthis deny it has sent arms to the Yemeni rebels.

“The real reason (for the war) is that Saudi Arabia lost its control and dominance in Yemen and the aim of war is to restore control and hegemony over Yemen. Period,” Nasrallah said. He condemned what he called a “Saudi-American aggression on Yemen, its people, army, installations, present and future.” The Hezbollah leader called for a political solution in Yemen, warning Saudi Arabia that it will not win the war.

“Throughout history, invaders were defeated and the invaders were humiliated,” Nasrallah said. “The rulers in Saudi Arabia still have an opportunity in order not to face a humiliating defeat.” Nasrallah said the countries taking part in the military campaign should review their policies. “Should the region go to war because of Saudi money?” he asked.

In some of his harshest comments to date, Nasrallah accused Saudi Arabia of sending suicide attackers to Iraq and of creating the Islamic State group. Addressing Saudi Arabia, he said Iran had expanded its influence in the region because “you are lazy, losers, and you don’t take responsibility.”

Hezbollah sends message to Israel ‘conflict is over’

2015-01-29

By John Davison and Laurent Lozano

Jerusalem

Israel on Thursday buried two soldiers killed in a Hezbollah missile strike that triggered Israeli fire on southern Lebanon, raising tensions between the bitter enemies to their highest in years.

But the Israeli-Lebanese border was calm, as officials in the Jewish state played down the threat of a new war with Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shiite militant group.

In a rare such declaration, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Hezbollah had passed on a message through the United Nations peacekeeping mission in south Lebanon, UNIFIL, saying it did not want a further escalation.

“We have received a message… that, from their point of view, the incident is over,” he told public radio.

Analysts say neither side seems keen for a repeat of the devastating Israel-Hezbollah conflict of 2006 and that any response is likely to be limited.

The two soldiers were killed Wednesday when Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles at a convoy in an Israeli-occupied area on the border with Lebanon.

Israeli forces responded to the attack — which came in retaliation for an Israeli strike on the Golan Heights that killed senior Hezbollah members — with artillery, tank and air fire on several villages in southern Lebanon.

There were no reports of Lebanese casualties, but a 36-year-old Spanish peacekeeper with UNIFIL was killed in the exchange of fire.

– Mourners gather in Jerusalem –

In Israel, schools reopened on Thursday, as did Mount Hermon ski resort in the Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights.

In the Lebanese border village of Majidiya, residents collected spent artillery shells from Wednesday’s strikes.

At the local UN base a blackened concrete tower could be seen with part of its wall blown out, and a Spanish flag flew at half-mast.

Hundreds of mourners gathered at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem for the burial of 25-year-old Captain Yochai Kalangel.

Sobbing relatives greeted mourners, many wearing the purple beret of Kalangel’s Givati (Highland) Brigade.

There was a similar turnout for the other soldier killed, 20-year-old Staff Sergeant Dor Chaim Nini, buried in the town of Shtulim in south-central Israel.

Questions have been raised in Israel about why they were travelling in unarmored vehicles in the volatile area.

Israel said it considered Wednesday’s attack the “most severe” since 2006, when war with Hezbollah killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and some 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the attack on Iran.

“This is the same Iran that is now trying to achieve an agreement, via the major powers, that would leave it with the ability to develop nuclear weapons,” he said.

Israel has threatened military action to stop arch-foe Iran obtaining atomic weapons. Tehran insists its program is only for civilian purposes.

Netanyahu held talks with top security brass late Wednesday, warning afterwards: “Those behind today’s attack will pay the full price.”

– Chances of war ‘very slim’ –

Still, analysts said Israel, fresh from a summer war with Hamas in Gaza and heading for a general election in March, was not eager for a full-scale conflict.

“Hezbollah has 100,000 rockets, compared with the 10,000 of Hamas,” the Palestinian Islamist group which controls Gaza, said analyst Boaz Ganor of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.

“The human cost of such a war would be enormous, and no Israeli leader will be pro-active in this direction,” he said.

As for Hezbollah, it is deeply involved in Syria’s civil war, fighting with President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against mostly Sunni rebels.

“Hezbollah is very busy in Syria; the last thing that it needs is a second front,” Yaakov Amidror, a former major general, said.

On the Lebanese side, Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi said the government had “received assurances from major countries that Israel won’t escalate the military situation, and that yesterday’s response was enough… for the time being.”

Tension in the area had been building since an Israeli air strike on the Syrian-controlled sector of the Golan killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general on January 18.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah — who is to deliver an address on Friday — had earlier threatened retaliation for Israel’s repeated strikes inside Syria.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=69940.

Netanyahu warns Hezbollah will pay ‘full price’

2015-01-29

By Ali Dia – MAJIDIYA

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Lebanon’s Hezbollah it will pay the “full price” after missiles killed two Israeli soldiers Wednesday in an attack that raised fears of another all-out war.

A Spanish UN peacekeeper was killed as Israel and Hezbollah exchanged artillery fire — the most serious clashes between the bitter enemies in years — following the attack by the Shiite militant group.

“Those behind today’s attack will pay the full price,” Netanyahu’s office quoted him as saying at a meeting with Israeli’s top security brass Wednesday evening.

The two soldiers were killed when Hezbollah fired an anti-tank missile at a military convoy in an Israeli-occupied border area, the army said.

Seven other soldiers were wounded, but none were reported to have suffered life-threatening injuries.

The UN Security Council called an emergency meeting to discuss ways to defuse tensions between the two sides, who fought a month-long war in 2006.

Israel responded to the Hezbollah shelling with “combined aerial and ground strikes” on southern Lebanon.

The United States stood by Israel after the exchange of fire and condemned Hezbollah’s shelling of an Israeli military convoy, which apparently came in retaliation for a recent Israeli strike on the Golan Heights that killed senior Hezbollah members.

“We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense and continue to urge all parties to respect the blue line between Israel and Lebanon,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini appealed for an “immediate cessation of hostilities”.

Lebanese security sources said that Israeli forces had hit several villages along the border.

Clouds of smoke could be seen rising from Majidiya village, one of the hardest hit. There was no immediate information on casualties.

A 36-year-old Spanish corporal from the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon was killed in the exchange of fire, officials and Spain said.

“It is clear that this was because of the escalation of the violence and it came from the Israeli side,” Spanish Ambassador to the UN Roman Oyarzun told reporters.

– ‘Very harsh’ response –

Hezbollah said it had targeted an Israeli military convoy “transporting several Zionist soldiers and officers”.

“There were several casualties in the enemy’s ranks,” Hezbollah said.

Israel said mortar fire was also aimed across the border at several military facilities. There were no casualties.

Hardline Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel should respond to the attack “in a very harsh and disproportionate manner, as China or the US would respond to similar incidents”.

Army spokesman Brigadier General Moti Almoz warned Israel was considering further action.

“This is not necessarily the last response,” he wrote on Twitter.

Hezbollah’s attack was hailed by the Palestinian Islamist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

“We affirm Hezbollah’s right to respond to the Israeli occupation,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, while Jihad’s Quds Brigade praised the attack as “heroic”.

Israeli security sources said at least one house had been hit in the divided village of Ghajar, which straddles the border between Israel and Lebanon.

“Three houses were hit by rockets,” said Hussein, 31, relaying what he had heard by telephone from relatives in the village of 2,000 inhabitants.

He said a number of villagers had been wounded but did not know how badly.

Other frantic family members argued with police to be allowed in to collect their children, who had been locked inside the village school for their own safety.

– Building tensions –

Tension in the area had been building, especially after an Israeli air strike on the Syrian sector of the Golan Heights killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general on January 18.

The day before the raid, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to retaliate against Israel for its repeated strikes on targets in Syria and boasted the Shiite militant movement was stronger than ever.

Israeli warplanes also struck Syrian army targets in the Golan Heights early on Wednesday, hours after rockets hit the Israeli-held sector.

During a Wednesday evening meeting with senior military and intelligence officials, Netanyahu sent a warning to the government of Lebanon and to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“The government of Lebanon and the Assad regime share responsibility for the consequences of attacks originating in their territory against the state of Israel,” he said.

Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said Wednesday’s attack was the “most severe” Israel had faced since 2006, when its war with Hezbollah killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and some 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Israel occupied parts of Lebanon for 22 years until 2000 and the two countries are still technically at war.

Wednesday’s missile attack was on Israeli forces in the Shebaa Farms area, a mountainous, narrow sliver of land occupied by Israel since 1967.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=69928.

Hezbollah suffers heavy losses in clashes with jihadists

2014-10-06

BAALBEK – Eight fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement were killed in clashes with jihadists in an area on the border with Syria, a Hezbollah source said on Monday.

The source revised an earlier toll of five dead for Sunday’s attack by jihadists on a Hezbollah post and clashes that followed.

The early morning attack targeted the post in mountains around the town of Nabi Sbat, east of Baalbek on the border with Syria.

The source said “dozens” of jihadists were killed in the assault, which Lebanon’s National News Agency said was launched from Assal al-Ward in Syria’s Qalamun province.

Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, Al-Nusra Front, claimed involvement in the attack on one of its official Twitter accounts on Monday.

The group said its fighters “launched an attack from Assal” on the Hezbollah post.

“More than 11 of them were killed and their weapons seized,” it added, posting photos it said were of dead Hezbollah fighters.

Lebanon’s border with Syria is not officially defined and much of it is porous and unpatrolled, with local residents, smugglers and others moving freely across it.

Hezbollah maintains several military posts along inaccessible parts of the border, and it rarely gives official details on clashes with jihadists or other fighters.

The clashes come two months after jihadists from the Islamic State group and Al-Nusra attacked Lebanese security forces in Arsal, which also lies on the Syrian border in eastern Lebanon.

The jihadists withdrew into the mountains around Arsal after a ceasefire, but took with them around 30 soldiers and policemen as hostages.

Three of them have since been executed, contributing to rising anxiety in Lebanon over the encroachment of jihadists and spillover from the more than three-year-old war in Syria.

Hezbollah has dispatched fighters to bolster President Bashar al-Assad’s troops against an uprising that many of Lebanon’s Sunnis support.

The conflict has exacerbated existing tensions in Lebanon, and made Hezbollah and its strongholds of support a target for extremists who have detonated bombs in several areas.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=68354.

Hezbollah commander killed in Iraq

July 31, 2014

BEIRUT (AP) — Officials say a commander with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah was killed in Iraq.

The Lebanese officials, close to the Shiite Hezbollah, say Ibrahim Mohammed al-Haj was killed during the past week while on a “jihadi mission” without providing further details. It is the first known Hezbollah death in Iraq since Sunni extremists captured large parts of the country north and west of Baghdad in June.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Iraqi officials have said that a handful of advisers from Hezbollah are offering front-line guidance to Iraqi Shiite militias fighting jihadi militants north of Baghdad.

Hezbollah fighters openly joined Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces last year in a decision that has fueled sectarian tensions in Lebanon.

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