An intriguing speech delivered by Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the infamous Shiite militant group Hezbollah, was recently uploaded to Iranian state television by mistake.
Shortly after the text of Nasrallah’s address appeared on the website of Farda News it was retracted, with the vague explanation that the veracity of the speech’s source was in question.
Putting two and two together, what this means is that the Nasrallah speech was meant to be a private address to a close-knit group of Iranian elites, and was never meant to be seen by public eyes.
The talk was a unique overview of the deep connections between Hezbollah and Iran, especially its Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as the ideological/spiritual connection Hezbollah sees itself as maintaining with the Islamic Republic.
Nasrallah spoke at length of Hezbollah’s roots in the Iranian Revolution. The militant leader went so far as to say the organization was born after the success of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s take over of the country in 1979, saying, “We were born with Iran’s Islamic revolution and acquired our existence and life with the Islamic revolution.”
Considering Nasrallah sees his organization as an outgrowth of the Revolution, it should come as no surprise that he views the Iranian government as its highest authority. “We believe in him [Khamenei] higher than the [Lebanese] constitution. We consider this view taklif (legal obligation), and necessary...we consider him [Khamenei] [to be the representative] of the Infallible Imam (the Shiite messiah).”
Continuing through this theme, the Lebanese cleric’s speech went on to highlight the close ties between Hezbollah and the Iranian armed services at the operational level. While Hezbollah is conventionally described as a “proxy” of the Islamic Republic, this description is insufficient. Hezbollah is an arm of the Iranian government and the Lebanese branch of the Guard Corps.
Nasrallah at many points in the address discussed his deep Shiite messianism and its place in Iran’s founding ideology, and his own organization’s principles. Nasrallah discussed how the Islamic Republic creates the groundwork for the arrival of the 12th Shiite Imam Mahdi, or the Messiah. The apocalyptic vision of Shiite extremists seems to be a powerful element in the strategic planning of both Iran and Hezbollah. As Nasrallah stated: “The Islamic revolution creates the groundwork for the arrival of his Excellency Mahdi, may God hasten his reappearance, that has not had precedence in history...we must await the arrival of the Imam of Time (may God hasten his reappearance) at every moment.”
But of all points covered by Nasrallah, the most damning was the topic of material funding Hezbollah receives from Iran.
“Today, Hezbollah is a global power,” Nasrallah said. The cleric credited that success to the persistent support supplied by Iran. “All parties in Iran assisted Hezbollah, and each more than the predecessor...we tell all foreigners that we receive money, weapons and equipment from Iran.”
Nasrallah closed with these words of encouragement to his audience: “You right now are not building your future, but rather are building the destiny of the arrival of his excellency [Mahdi]. Know that God chose you because you deserved it. You are the tribe of Salman Farsi [first Persian convert to Islam] and have been chosen and have acted well until now.
So there you have it.
In his own words, the leader of the most feared Shiite terror group has arguably confirmed all of the fears the West has been harboring for years, and even clarified aspects of some:
- Iran is a state deeply influenced by radical ideologies that affect its policy decisions
- Hezbollah is a loyal extension of the Iranian armed services
- Nasrallah and his fighters are all completely funded by the Islamic Republic
As the world is clearly at a pivotal time in determining how to move forward in regards to Iran - and by extension, all of their militant Shiite allies - it may be a good idea for leaders to take a lesson from self-damning declarations like Nasrallah’s speech and examine who exactly it is they are dealing with.