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Hassan Nasrallah’s speech on the release of the four generals

May 2, 2009

In his speech yesterday evening (click here for the audio) Hassan Nasrallah addressed the Egypt-Hizbollah controversy and the release of the four generals.  I don’t have a transcript of the speech yet, but I do want to comment on a few points Nasrallah made with regard to the release of the generals. 

First, Nasrallah began by stating that the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri galvanized the Lebanese to come together.  However according to him, what subsequently divided the Lebanese were “political accusations”.  This is one of the key overarching themes of his speech.  The post-assassination consensus was lost due to political accusations. 

Second, Nasrallah clearly links Mehlis to March 14’s political program and argues that this nexus is where politics entered the investigation.  He singles out Mehlis as the one who called for the detention of the four generals,  though it soon after became clear that this was based on false testimony.  Nasrallah then supposes that if the investigation was in fact fair and impartial and independent of Lebanese politics then the generals and other detainees would have been released the day Mehlis stepped down.  Thus, he reasons it was for the political interests of March 14 that the generals remained in prison.  Here Nasrallah doesn’t outright condemn the international tribunal itself, but rather its practices and the way it proceeded.  Essentially he constructs a narrative in which the generals were imprisoned for the political benefit of March 14.

Third, Nasrallah calls upon the Lebanese, Hariri, and his bloc to cooperate in revealing “the truth” on the Hariri assassination.  He calls for a return to the consensus that immediately followed the martyring of Rafiq Hariri.  He then says that if the tribunal errs, the Lebanese judiciary must investigate, arrest, and punish those who are guilty of giving false testimony if the international tribunal does not. 

Fourth, Nasrallah devoted a few minutes to discussing Israel and the possibility that it played a role in the Hariri assassination. Frankly there doesn’t seem to be much reliable evidence pointing in the direction of Israel.  However, I suppose blaming a common enemy is one way in which the Lebanese could come together.

Finally, Nasrallah downplays the impact the release of the generals will have on the elections.  I disagree.  The release of the generals bodes ill for March 14, no matter how its leaders try to portray it.

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