BEIRUT: Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah called on Lebanon Wednesday to quickly repair relations with Syria, saying that it could help revive the Lebanese economy.
“Repairing relations with Syria could open economic doors for Lebanon,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech, highlighting that Lebanon could not depend exclusively on the U.S., EU and Arab countries as they undergo their own economic crises.
“Lebanon needs to revive its agricultural sector for exports,” the Hezbollah leader stressed, adding that Lebanon wouldn’t be able export to Arab countries without going through Syria.
Regarding the issue of illegal cross-border smuggling into Syria, Nasrallah stressed that it “must be resolved.”
“Border smuggling is a problem, but Lebanon can’t handle it alone. It has been a problem since the establishment of Greater Lebanon,” he said, adding that both governments on either side must cooperate to stop the issue.
Nasrallah’s comments come amid reports that diesel and wheat, which are subsidized by the Central Bank, were being exported by merchants to Syria through illegal border crossings.
He lambasted the United Nations’ presence along the Syrian-Lebanese border, saying that Hezbollah would “never accept the deployment of the U.N. forces” on the border.
Nasrallah went on to say that the U.N. could not prevent the illegal smuggling, criticizing the deployment of troops as an outcome of Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon and implemented by “the accursed Condoleezza Rice.”
Nasrallah was speaking on the anniversary of the 2016 death of Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine, who was killed while fighting in Syria.
Badreddine was also one of the main suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and had been indicted by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon for his alleged role in the crime, though the charges against him were dropped in 2016 after it was confirmed he had been killed.
Regarding Syria, Nasrallah said the real scheme in that country had been a “U.S.-Israeli-Saudi one and other nations joined them,” but added that Syria ultimately survived the fragmentation attempt.
“Today we can say that Syria has emerged triumphant in this war,” Nasrallah said.
“We knew that our intervention in Syria would lead to substantial sacrifices and that it would have repercussions on Lebanon, but we realized that the threats facing Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and the resistance were much bigger than these sacrifices and losses and that's why we went there,” he said.
Nasrallah took the opportunity to congratulate Lebanese nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus battle on the occasion of International Nurses Day.