Hizbollah har lenge latt som om det er Israel og sionistene som sprenger bilbomber og likviderer deres menn – i Libanon. Men tirsdag i forrige uke, i et tv-intervju på to og en halv time, utpekte generalsekretær Hassan Nasrallah for første gang åpent Saudi-Arabia som fienden.
Det var rene krigserklæringen. At Saudi-Arabia er hovedmotstander i Syria, er ingen hemmelighet. Men det er første gang Hizbollah sier det høyt.
Da ukjente menn drepte Hizbollah-kommandaten Hassan al-Laqiss onsdag i den underjordiske garasjen hvor han bodde i Beirut, kom de vanlige Israel- og sionist-beskyldningene. Men ingen tror på dem lenger, bortsett fra NRKs Sigurd Falkenberg Mikkelsen, som sa de var helt sannsynlige.
But in an interview with Lebanese TV station OTV late on Tuesday night, he went radically off script, zeroing in on a new target for his rhetorical darts: Saudi Arabia.
Nasrallah rarely mentions Saudi Arabia by name, only referring to the monarchy in vague terms in order to maintain plausible deniability. But that all changed on Tuesday, when he accused Saudi agents of being behind the suicide-bomb attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut last month that claimed 23 lives. (The assassination of a senior Hizballah commander on Wednesday, though the assailants remain unknown, deepened the group’s sense of embattlement.) In doing so he has openly declared a war that has long been fought in the shadows, first in Lebanon where Hizballah-allied parties are at a political impasse with the Saudi-backed Future Movement of Saad Hariri, and now in Syria, where Hizballah, with Iranian assistance, is fighting on the side of President Bashar Assad against Saudi-backed rebels. “This is the first time I have ever seen such a direct attack [by Nasrallah] against Saudi Arabia,” says Lebanon-based political analyst Talal Atrissi. “This was the formal declaration of a war that has been going on in Syria since Saudi first started supporting the rebels.”
Nasrallah forsvarte Hizbollahs innsats i Syria med at det var selvforsvar. Hvis ikke jihadistene blir stanset der, vil krigen spre seg til Libanon. Da vil Libanon bli slukt av den sekteriske krigen, hevdet han.
In a wide-ranging interview that lasted more than 2½ hours, Nasrallah defended Hizballah’s role in Syria, claiming that without it Lebanon would have already descended into Iraq-style sectarian violence: “What is the future of Lebanon, should Syria fall into the hands of the armed groups? If we had abandoned our responsibilities … Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria would have been infiltrated by armed groups, and there would be have been hundreds of explosive-rigged vehicles sent to … Lebanon.”
And he crowed about the successful conclusion of initial nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West, saying that it strengthened Iran, and as a result Hizballah. But he returned to the subject of Saudi Arabia multiple times, declaring that it was Saudi that was prolonging the agonizing civil war in Syria, not the Syrians themselves, or even Hizballah. “Saudi Arabia is determined to keep on fighting until the last bullet and last drop of blood.”
Stort tydeligere har ikke motstanderne i den sekteriske krigen trådt frem: Hizbollahs leder konfronterer Saudi-Arabia. Syria er blitt en proxy war, en stedfortrederkrig, med Iran og Saudi-Arabia som hovedmotstandere.