I am currently out in Amman and I am listening to Hassan Nasrallah‘s speech which is “mubasher”, live, from Beirut. He is speaking from a football stadium in Beirut which is overwhelmed by people. Lebanon, as Egypt, today is striking as a form of protest against Israeli attacks over Gaza. Many people are gathering in the stadium and we can see national flags of Lebanon, Palestine and Hezbollah‘s party yellow flags. Songs from Hezbollah’s resistance are heard everywhere. Al Manar, Hezbollah’s Tv channel which is banned in Europe, is broadcasting the event live. Before Hassan Nasrallah’s speech, the cameras were filming only the crowd and the flags and, even when somebody was speaking from the stage preparing the audience for the party leader’s speech, the cameras kept on filming the crowd, never the stage (the voice speaking over the images sometimes is repeating words like”maut li Israil, maut li Amrika”, death to Israel, death to America).
This situation changes only when Hassan Nasrallah appears (no stage supposed to be given to any other but the party leader, this is the message transmitted by the images). He is live, but he is speaking from another place, not from the stage in the stadium. Behind him, we can see that the words “victory to Gaza” are written. When he speaks, the camera is only for him. He has a charismatic power and his speech is in perfect “fusah”, the classical arabic, just very few words in lebanese dialect. He begins the speech in the Islamic way, by greeting in the name of God, and then starts to evocate powerful words that touch the hearth of Muslims everywhere. Like ummah, the islamic community.
Nasrallah evocates the ummah, and reminds the Lebanese people that they are a part of this ummah (which indirectly means that they are directly involved in this tragedy). The message is clear: this is a new 2006 war happening. In fact he reminds them that they know very well the meaning of being attacked, of finding their houses destroyed and their children killed. He states that Gaza is not alone, because it is a part of this bigger ummah. Then he starts his speech, which is more than a speech. It is a real warning against certain powers in the Arab region. In another way, we can say that he is mentioning the “conditions” to be respected by the Lebanese governments, other Arab governments and finally the US if they want Hezbollah to stay out of this (in a military way, i guess).
Here the main points of his speech, which are at the same time the warnings and the conditions he is dictating.
First one is the warning addressed to the Lebanese government and its president Michel Slemain. Nasrallah invites the president to take a bold position in front the other Arab governments in the upcoming Cairo summit of the Arab League. The message to the lebanese government (supported by Western governments) is clear and sounds mostly like a threat. Lebanon should be closer to Gaza and to the Palestianian resistence and be against any other kind of position. He clearly refers to Egypt and the clear position the country took by closing the border with Gaza.
The second warning is of course addressed to “some Arab governments” as he calls them without mentioning them openly, i.e. the governments that are not doing anything effective but taking a silent position which sounds more as a silent agreement with Israel for having attacked Gaza- or, at least, nothing that takes a sharp position rather than condemning-. He invites them to a “real reaction” instead of talking just words in a summit. Doesnt’ specify what this “real reaction” should be. But it’s clear that Nasrallah is taking a very tough position, as he did in the past, against many Arab governments, particularly the Gulf (and Saudi Arabia in particular).
Thirdly, he talks directly to America. When he mentions America, he starts to look at the camera as if Obama, the new elected US president, was there to listen. He seems to address directly to him -even if not mention his name- when he says “we want to see your political program, your political position” and adds that he doesn’t care about colors being yellow, red, black (clearly referring to the skin of the new president and the hope that his colour and background could help him understanding better). Again, he adds that he only cares about the political program and he only wants to see results on this topic. He also adds that America keeps on saying that the problem with Hamas is that it is an islamic party with an islamic goal, while at the same time America doesnt care about the islamic party which is ruling in Afghanistan or the one which the Iraqi president is belonging to. He states that the real reason behind American refusal of Hamas is not linked to religion at all. the real reason, which is also the one for refusing Hezbollah’s power in Lebanon, is their political programs that touch the core of US interest in the Middle East. He says that they want a “real independence” for the Arab region, something that is very much against US interest.
“Gaza will not stay alone in its resistance”, he says. What does this mean? does this mean that Hezbollah will actively support Hamas in Gaza? does this mean a new war like the july 2006 involving Lebanon and Hezbollah?
The fact that Nasrallah, in his rhetoric, is focusing a lot and stressing a lot on the july 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah is a leading factor that helps us to imagine that behind his speech there is also a kind of “war declaration”, or at least a warning. It’s not unlike to imagine such a scenario.
From the media point of view, the coreography of the speech was perfectly suiting Hezbollah’s rhetoric of uniting people together and calling upon resistance against Israel and America who don’t want to see a united Arab ummah in the Middle East.
Nasrallah also accused -without telling its name openly- “an Arab Tv ” station of having called him “a demon” and of portraying him in a bad way. It was a kind of “warning”, too, to Al Arabiya television and the country that it represents, Saudi Arabia, which is the first “enemy” of Hezbollah party. This also reminds us to which extent Arab media are still very polarized in a political way and still very partisan, far from representing just a “commercial market” as many of them would wish to be portayed.