Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Monday night claimed his organization has 100,000 trained fighters, implying that they are prepared to put down their enemies who last Thursday killed seven people in the worst clashes in years in the streets of Beirut.
Five Hezbollah and Amal Shiite members as well as two bystanders: a woman and a delivery worker, were killed and dozens injured in Thursday’s in that gun battle in the Tayyouneh-Ain al-Remmaneh area. The mayhem began with allegedly Christian snipers shooting into a crowd of mostly Hezbollah demonstrators.
The demonstrators protested the Beirut Appeals Court’s rejection of an appeal to remove Judge Tarek Bitar from the August 4, 2020, Beirut Port blast investigation – with the popular expectation being that he would fearlessly point an accusing finger at Hezbollah, whose stored explosives likely blew up the port.
“A certain party and leader want residents in Ain al-Remmaneh, Hadath and Furn el-Chebbak to fear their neighbors in Dahiyeh,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech (the first three localities are majority-Christian, Dahiyeh is a predominantly Shiite Muslim suburb – DI).
Nasrallah suggested that “the objective behind stirring these fears is for this party to present itself as the main defender of Christians.” He was referring to the Christian Lebanese Forces party which operated as a militia during the Lebanese Civil War. In 1994, when Lebanon was under Syrian occupation, the party was banned and its leader Samir Geagea was imprisoned. The Lebanese Forces came back as a political force following the 2004 Cedar Revolution and the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. Geagea was released from prison and continues to lead the party today.
“Over the past years, the Lebanese Forces party started inventing an enemy in Lebanon,” Nasrallah said, noting that this assertion was made even though Thursday’s dead belonged to Hezbollah and Amal. “The LF leader focused on Hezbollah,” Nasrallah said.
“I advise the LF and its leader to abandon the idea of civil war and internal strife forever,” Nasrallah added, and warned Geagea that he is “making wrong calculations” as he “has always done.”
“You are mistaken about Hezbollah’s status in the region… You are very mistaken saying that Hezbollah is weaker than the Palestine Liberation Organization,” Nasrallah continued, informing his enemies that his group has “100,000 trained and armed fighters.”
“Do not make wrong calculations. Sit still, be polite and draw lessons from your wars and our wars,” he said.
If the 100,000 fighters figure is true, it would mean that the terror group is larger than the Lebanese army, which is about 85,000 strong.
“We have prepared them with their diverse weapons to defend our territory, our oil and gas that is being robbed before the eyes of the Lebanese people, to protect the dignity and sovereignty of our country from any aggression and terrorism and not for internal fighting,” Nasrallah said, implying that his Christian enemies should focus on fighting the real enemy, Israel, with whom Lebanon is currently feuding over drilling rights in the Mediterranean.
On the Beirut port blast investigations, Nasrallah said that Hezbollah is “very, very keen on knowing the truth,” but that’s impossible when the investigating judge accepts false testimony. Nasrallah was referring to Imad Kishli, who recently said on MTV that he had twice transported ammonium nitrate from Beirut port to south Lebanon—the Hezbollah stronghold. Nasrallah said that even the man’s family knows that he is mentally disturbed – and yet Judge Bitar accepted his testimony.
If he isn’t assassinated, the judge’s likely finding that Hezbollah was responsible for Beirut’s worst disaster since the 1980s civil war would undoubtedly start Lebanon’s new civil war.