The talk with the Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah opens up on more than one dimension, whether on the intellectual or political level. Hence, the Sayyed is known by his openness on all the present issues, in addition to his continuous observation to all the issues that are raised in both the Arab and the International fronts.
Al-Rai Al-Akhar magazine has conducted an interview with H.E. Sayyed Fadlullah about the relation between the Lebanese crisis and the nation's crisis and about the situation of the Shiites in the region, especially in Iraq. The following is the text of the interview:
Lebanon is a part of the region's crisis
Q: Does H.E. think that the Lebanese crisis is now more connected than before to the crisis of the Middle East ?
A: I do not think that Lebanon has passed through an era in which it was a Lebanese country, but, as I used to describe it before, it is the lung through which the regional problems breathe and it was not built to be a country for its people. That is because talking about sects in Lebanon – from the beginning until the forties – is done by associating every sect with the country that supports it. For example, it is said: the British Druze sect, the French Catholic sect ... Britain was trying to enter from here and there until the stage of [the late presidents] Abd An-Nasir and Fouad Shihab came and America took its place. For that reason, I think that the Lebanese issue has been always connected to the region's situation. We can also notice that through studying the beginnings of the Lebanese war, the Palestinian role in it, as well as the Israeli role that used to attack Lebanon from time to time. In addition, the Arab countries have interfered in the Lebanese crisis, considering that every Arab state had a representative in the Palestinian Resistance and used to interfere in the Lebanese affaires through thePalestinian Liberation Organization. Besides, we notice that the Taif Accord was not a Lebanese or a Syrian one, nor was it a Saudi-American one, but I believe that it was an American accord with an Arabic headband and a Lebanese hat. Hence, the Lebanese people used to receive the thoughts and solutions from others, but concerning the issue of turning Lebanon into a front from which the region's crisis nourishes or moves; this is what we can conclude through the following two statements. The first is the statement of the American Secretary of State , "Rice", who said that Lebanon is one of the best fronts of the big Middle East project. The second is the statement of President Bush who said that Lebanon is associated with the American national security, meaning that there is an organic relation between the Lebanese crisis and the regional crisis.
Besides, America directs its policy in Syria and Iran and even some lines of its policy in Iraq through the extremists and through confronting the Resistance, considering that the latter is involved in what Israel considers as a danger that threatens its security .
I believe that the Lebanese crisis is getting more engaged in the region's crisis. Therefore, when we talk about the Lebanese crisis, we find that each party, regardless of who is right or who is wrong, accuses the other party that it directs its policy through its relation of a regional or an international country. The opposition is accused of receiving the orders from Syria and Iran, while the majority is accused of receiving the orders from America or France. This fact means that all parties agree that the backgrounds of the Lebanese crisis are foreign ones.
I end this subject by saying that the Secretary General of the Arab League has announced that he will come to Lebanon and call on the international and regional positions and the like. Hence, if the Lebanese crisis was really a Lebanese one, there will be no need for the Secretary General of the Arab League to call on the international and regional parties and the United Nations. This means that Lebanon was not intended to be a Lebanese country and I think that the Lebanese politicians have concentrated on their own interests, while leaving the poor people to pull out their thorns with their own hands.
No Israeli war on Lebanon
Q: Does this connection between the Lebanese crisis and the region's crisis involve a possibility of waging a new Israeli war on Lebanon?
A: I do not think that there is a chance for Israel to wage any war, at least in the next two years. That is because Israel will not engage into a new war unless it guarantees its victory and the political environment that serves its positions. Besides, Israel has tried to do that in the July war and it was defeated. I do not want to talk about a defeat and a victory, but it is quite sure that Israel has lost the war although it was the war of allaying with America, whether with respect to being armed or on the political level. Therefore, we have to concentrate on Barak's statement in which he says that Hizbullah is now stronger than ever and that it possesses rockets that are able to go beyond the extents that they have reached before. Moreover, America has no interest in any Israeli war waged against Lebanon because America wants this kind of stability that could be shaken in order to run its policy. That is because any kind of chaos America tries to stir in Lebanon, might, firstly and lastly, harm Israel, considering that the Palestinians, Hizbullah and other resistant forces will then react freely. In addition, the war might pave the way for Syria to enter in an indirect manner and this might lead to chaos at the expense of the American policies. Moreover, Hizbullah has announced that it is not concerned with the war, and that its resistance represents a defensive state.
The Iranian Regime
Q: Today, there is a talk about the principle of changing the regime against Iran and this principle was applied before against Germany, Japan, Italy and the Soviet Union. Consequently, do you think that it is possible to change the regime in Iran?
A: At present, I do not think that there is a chance or suitable circumstances that allow changing the regime in Iran. That is because the Iranian people might differ politically, as it is the situation in theelections, since there are conservatives and independents, but there are also a particularity for the Iranian people who live their nationality more than living their Islam... On the contrary, if they feel that any danger is threatening their personality and identity, they will unite. Therefore, the more the American pressure and siege becomes stronger, the more the Iranian people will become stronger too. In addition, the Iranian leadership, especially Sayyed Ali Khamenai, enjoys a political experience that was extended over eight years in the Presidency. He is also now engaged in the depth of the Iranian policy, even the most precise details.
Q: Rafsanjani or Khamenai?
A: I am talking about Sayyed Khamenai, the man who enjoys an up-to-date mind and not a traditional one. He also has a political experience. Besides, the relationship between him and Rafsanjani is an organic relationship. Thus, we find that there is a political rationality in Iran. It is also possible to realize this issue through the Iranian handling of the nuclear project and of the game of pulling and dragging. Therefore, I do not think that there is any political or realistic chance that might pave the way to change the regime in Iran.
Q: Even the incident that happened in the Hermes Strait?
A: I think that what happened in the Hermes Strait is either a message to Iran or an American media movement, because I do not think that the Iranians have a state of the political impetuosity that makes them provoke the American gunboats. Thus, I think that something has happened and America has exploited it.
The Shiites of Iraq and confronting the occupation
Q: When do you expect that the Shiites of Iraq will announce the state of disobedience against America?
A: The Shiites position towards occupation was not based on a political background that believes in occupation, since everyone knows that the Shiites were in the vanguard of the Resistance that confronted the British occupation in the Twenties Revolution, and this indicates that they were not living any factional or sectarian state. Hence, this popular resistance was intended to protect the Ottoman caliphate that used to oppress them and did not believe in them on the sectarian level. But we believe that – and I have an experience in the Iraqi situation, since I was born and lived there - that the Shiites,and maybe others, have reached a state that they became ready to deal with the devil if that would save them from what they were suffering. America, in its own way, has tried to convince the opposition in London that the interests of this opposition are to oust the Iraqi regime that Saddam was at its head. We can also notice another issue : the Shiites in Iraq are not the party that embraces the occupation. Besides, the American army was not able to enter Baghdad through the south except after several days. Hence, the American Army has faced, at that time, a strong Shiite resistance. We also know that there is a Shiite resistance that now enjoys a big military and political experience. It is now performing special operations, such as shooting down airplanes. Consequently, when we study the American experience in Iraq and the feeling of the Iraqi people, we find that most of the Iraqi people ask for the American withdrawal and for ending the occupation. Thus, the American Administration works on frightening the Iraqi people by dividing Iraq into mini states, through raising the issue of federalism that was based on the Kurdish political line. I was also listening to the opposition in Saladin region when there was a talk about federalism and I used to oppose that and tell them that federalism is a project that is raised in order to divide people. Maybe, some Shiite politicians, such as Abed Al-Aziz Al-Hakim and his companions, might think about federalism in the south and in the middle and about the Kurdish federalism, on the basis that the savage central state that was represented by the regime of Saddam, was able to pressurize heavily the Shiites and thus, federalism might grant them a kind of freedom. But I believe that federalism does not have a possible political or juristic reality because the Iraqi people, whether the Sunnis, the Shiites or others, are mixed people.
Q: Does that mean that nationality is stronger than religion in Iraq?
A: I think that there is a kind of intellectual chaos in Iraq.
Q: How do you describe for us the nature of the relationship between the Shiites of Iraq and the Shiites of Iran?
A: The relationship between the Shiites of Iraq and the Shiites of Iran is not an organic relationship. That is because the Iraqi people differ in their political and intellectual commitments. Hence, some Iraqis support Iran and others do not. Besides, it is not politically correct to say that the Shiites in Iraq are attached to the Shiites in Iran or to say that Iran controls Iraq through controlling the Shiites, or even through the religious authority because the authority is separated from politics.
Q: Do you believe through analysis or perception that the confrontation between the Shiites and the Sunnis in the region has been decreased?
A: I believe that there is no reality and no opportunity for Sunni-Shiite strife in Lebanon. There might be some sensitivities that are raised by the statements of this Sheik or that politician or others, but there is a point that some might not take into consideration. This point is that intermarriage between the Sunnis and the Shiites in Lebanon might reach 60 %. On 1985, I said in a lecture that one of the means for achieving Islamic unity is intermarriage. That is because the person, when he becomes a member of the family, realizes that the details of what this family believes in. Thus, he will not be ready to listen towhat this person or that say, whereas in the Arab world, America and some backward scholars and responsibles in some Arab countries, might try to instigate Shiite and Sunni strife, but they will not be able to do that because the temple will fall on the heads of all of them.
Conducted by: Saad Mehyo