Monday, July 24, 2006

Lebanon: Hizbullah Nasrallah Speaks

Nassrallah interviewed in Al Jazeera had this to say on July 20th, in a fairly long discussion. Threw in some randoms comments and highlighted what I found interesting:
Effects of Israeli Bombardment Repeated what everyone knows, if Katyusha's are still firing, it means there is no way that 50 percent of rocket capabilities are destroyed.
The Israeli talk that they hit 50 per cent of our rocket capability and warehouses--all of this is untrue and nonsense. Until this moment, they have not been able to hit anything in this context. I confirm this to you. The evidence is that the resistance has continued to fire rockets--not the regular Katyusha rockets that are fired on the frontline settlements--the resistance is still striking Haifa, Tiberias, Safad [Zefat] and deep [into Israel] as well. We control even the number of rockets that are fired. Today, the resistance can fire hundreds of rockets in a single day. There is no obstacle in the field despite the intensive air activity of the Zionists.

Battle Area
. [The battle] is taking place in the frontlines, the mountains, the valleys, and between the trees in a wide area.

On Hizbullah's Military Situation on The Ground
I think that if we take the picture of the military situation in general, I can confirm that Hezbollah has so far remained steadfast; secondly, it has managed to absorb the strike; thirdly, to move to the stage of taking the initiative; and fourthly, to offer some surprises, which it has promised. There is still a number of surprises, which we reserve to ourselves in the next stage. In the field, Hezbollah is still managing the battle calmly, slowly, quietly, and without any emotional reaction. You can see this. There are no unnecessary threats and no random rhetoric. We are following things closely and calmly and we calculate the time, place, number, capability, combat, point, front, and all details on the military level. This concerns the military aspect.

Might Have Admitted Some Launchers hit Also can be read to mean they have lost central command and control, as another line about not being able to get photographs of knocked out Israeli tanks.
You might wonder and says is it possible that no rocket launcher was hit. Neither me, nor anybody can claim that. There might be, for example, one or two were hit. After nine days, the strongest air force in the Middle East region and one of the strongest air forces in the world that have access to the airspace while we do not have the capabilities to face them at that level - an air force effectively and strongly present in various ways with the reconnaissance aircraft controlling the airspace of Lebanon - could not until this very minute even stop firing rockets or target the missile force. It is very evident.

Forward Bunkers Abandoned?. Interesting that he admits that their forward bunkers were abandoned upon kidnapping the Israeli solidiers. Implies that they have this whole thing set up.

The border posts are actually surveillance posts consisting of a column on which an antenna is attached and another on which a camera is placed. Beside these columns there is a room where one of our youth stays. This is simply what these posts are consisting of. These posts were evacuated right from the first day. If they come today to say that they destroyed frontline positions. They mean these places. If they say that occupied frontline posts, these posts exist along the barbed wires and we evacuated them since the first day when we captured the soldiers.

Expected Ground War pretty much admits they can't stop Israel from coming in. As much as people say that Israel has this all pre-planned, so did Hizbullah by setting up an offensive capability vs. Israeli territory and a defensive capability to resist a counter-force strike by Israel:

As for the ground attack option, it is possible that they might resort to it. We have been ready for it since the first day. I do not want to raise the ceiling of expectations and I do not u se speeches. We are fighting a serious battle. I did not say one day that the Israelis will be unable to enter any post in southern Lebanon. We are not a classic army extending from the sea to Mount Hermon. We are a popular and serious resistance movement that is present in many areas and axes. They might be able to enter a certain point or a village or conduct a large-scale ground operation. They might enter a mountain or a frontline village and claim a historical victory.

What They Think They Can Accomplish
seems like bloodying Israeli forces.

As for us, our equation and principles are the following: When the Israelis enter, they must pay dearly in terms of their tanks, officers, soldiers. This is what we pledge to do and we will honour our pledge, God willing.

Length of The Fight
Nassralah is banking on a short fight, citing the results of polls conducted by Western Embassies among Shia refugees from South Lebanon, he thinks this will convince the U.S. to rein in Israel after a short fight. Seems to think that public support within Israel will lessen if conflict drags on.
Why? If the opinion-poll teams see a sign of weakness and fragility, they will tell the Israelis to continue [their operations], that they can achieve their objectives, and that the war will not take a long time. It is not of their interest to fight for a long time. The US Administration, and other administrations, will build on that, and there will be no intervention.

We, on the other hand, are wagering on our steadfastness and that of our people, and on seeing a decline in the Israeli internal support for the military operation and on the pressures on the enemy's government, the beginning of which we began to see today.

Seems to think that Israel's position is that it can not defeat Hizbullah conventionally, and must negotiate some sort of solution.

Now, the Israelis began to talk about negotiations.
In the first day, they said that they want to destroy Hezbollah. A short while ago, I counted them to you and [words indistinct] politics. Now, even the Israeli officials do not use the language of destroying Hezbollah. There is not even the language of dismantling Hezbollah. Today, some sides talk about disarming Hezbollah, and other sides talk about weakening Hezbollah's missile force. Even the destruction of Hezbollah's military force is no longer a military target. The Israelis today know that through military force they cannot dismantle Hezbollah's military power or missile force. They have to deal with this through politics. This is an Israeli failure. Every Israeli failure is success to us. It is victory for us.

Ultimate Victory Measured By?
[Nasrallah] To succeed in defence is victory. How was victory achieved in 1996? The Israeli military operation did not achieve its objectives. This is it. Hezbollah remained and the resistance of Hezbollah remained. We were not the ones who began the war or the ones who launched a large-scale war. It is not from the first moment after we captured two soldiers that we began to shell Nahariya, Haifa, Tiberias, and Zefat and launched war. No. Even in advancing, the Israelis were much faster than us. We were patient in the hope that things would stop at this point because we do not want to take our country to war. However, they launched war and we went to war. Victory here does not mean that I will enter and capture northern Palestine and liberate Nahariya, Haifa, and Tiberias. This is not one of our rhetoric or slogans. This is a process that concerns the Palestinians and the nation. This is another issue. The victory we are talking about is that when the resistance survives. When its will is not broken then this is victory. When Lebanon is not humiliated and its dignity and honour are maintained, and when Lebanon stands fast alone in front of the fiercest military power and does not accept any humiliating conditions regarding a settlement of the issue, then this is victory. When we are not defeated militarily then this is victory

We know that we are fighting an army that defeated a group of Arab armies at one time. But we fought it and defeated it with God's help, and we are fighting it now. Consequently, our survival and steadfastness until now means victory. Our absorbance of the strike is victory, and our continuation with the confrontation is victory. In addition to this, when the Israelis begin to make concessions [then this means victory]. In the first day, there were no negotiations.

tip of the hat to Global Voices