The secretary-General of the Lebanese political and paramilitary party Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, gave his long-awaited speech this afternoon, Oct 25th, at 4 PM, addressing the current Lebanese demonstrations as well as developments in various regions of Lebanon.
In his earlier speech last Saturday, just three days into the protests across the country, and prior to any official statements by President Michel Aoun, and the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the head of Hezbollah made it clear that his party does not want the current government to resign, nor does it believe it is the solution for Lebanon.
He did, however, in his address, reach out to the protesters who had been demonstrating on the streets for almost three days (at the time) in saying: “We appreciate your cries and respect your pain. Your message has been received by political leaders, and it has been a powerful one.”
In an early attempt to divert the protests, as well as in hopes of having them end after his statement, like the political leaders after him, his speech did little to nothing when it came to getting people off the streets, or building any credibility or trust in the government or any figure of authority in the country.
Since his first speech, Hezbollah supporters and members, as well the Amal party‘s supporters, have been seen protesting in various regions of South Lebanon, often resorting to violence against the peaceful demonstrators who stood right next to them -often enough in the same streets and spaces.
Hezbollah’s media officials had since called on their supporters to leave the streets to wait for Nasrallah’s speech, which began around 4 p.m today.
In his anticipated speech, he just announced that the groups carrying the Hezbollah flags and infiltrating the people’s protests with violence were not sent by him nor any Hezbollah leadership.
He further reasserted that the resignation of the government during this time would lead to a very dangerous “gap” in the leadership of the country.
He stressed that the current government is better off resorting to reform rather than resigning and placing the country in a very fragile state. He called on all his supporters to withdraw from the streets and to halt all violent activity against protestors.
On another note, Nasrallah criticized and belittled the protest for its lack of organization, as well as its lack of vision and leadership, all while pointing out that the “Embassies” are behind the movement, bringing millions of Lebanese to protest on the streets.
That (accusation) was put forward more than once in the last part of his speech, as Nasrallah took a more serious tone to send a message to his “strategic allies” in the government, as he called them.
The violence we witnessed this morning before the speech was carried on with numerous assaults on the peaceful protesters, some of which were just sitting inside their street-camping tents, including women.
Various videos went circulating online during and for a short time after Nasrallah‘s speech, showing scenes of assaults, and the Army intervening and arresting some assailants.
In the live coverage on various televised Lebanese media outlets at the moment, we still see Hezbollah flags raised by his people in regions such as Dahieh in Beirut. While there was no sign of violence afterward, we are now receiving reports of aggression on the protesters.
Nasrallah‘s speech fell short of any new or substantial content and did not influence the current landscape of the country, similar to the Prime Minister’s and President’s speech before him.
Reactions to his speech online and from protesters have been harsh, as well as from Arabs in the region tweeting their comments. Multiple interviewed protesters have said publically that they will not be “threatened” into leaving the streets.