Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday that the current turmoil in the Middle East region was a “political,” not “sectarian” conflict.
Addressing thousands of supporters in the southern suburbs of Lebanon’s capital on the religious festival of Ashura in a rare public appearance, Nasrallah repeated that his movement was waging war against radical Islamists and Israel, not against Sunnis.
“Portraying the current conflict as one between Shias and Sunnis is a major mistake,” Nasrallah said in his second appearance among his supporters in a few months.
“I address all Shias in the region: You need to understand that Sunnis are not our enemies. We are not at war with Sunnis.”
“I address Sunnis in the region: Shias are not at war with you. We are both, together, at war with extremist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS),” he added.
Nasrallah said that what happens in the Middle East would decide its future for years to come.
“Our battle is against radicals who want to crush everybody else and against Israel,” Nasrallah said.
“This is not a battle against Sunnis,” he added, going on to call on Sunni Muslims to practice caution in regard to the current developments.
Hezbollah supports Michel Aoun for Lebanon’s presidency
Bringing up the current political stagnation in Lebanon, the Hezbollah chief said his movement would back its main Christian ally, Michel Aoun, in the country’s long-delayed presidential vote.
Lebanese parliament is tasked by the constitution to select a president, a decision that has already been put off 14 times as the war in Syria continues to divide rival political blocs.
Nasrallah blamed the political paralysis on external factors.
“Lebanese political factions are restrained by regional vetoes and these decisions are responsible for Lebanon’s presidential vacuum,” he said on Monday.
He reiterated his call for national dialogue to solve the crisis, adding that Hezbollah was willing to sit down with “any political group.”
While discussing Lebanese internal matters, Nasrallah also praised Prime Minister Tammam Salam and the Future Movement political party for their roles in defusing clashes in the northern city of Tripoli.
Nasrallah calls for Ashura rallies despite threats
Nasrallah called for a large turnout on Tuesday, which sees the peak of Ashura, a commemoration that marks the killing of Imam Hussein, one of the most revered figures of Shia Islam.
Ashura events have increasingly become targets of deadly bombings and attacks over the years.
“Tomorrow we will prove that we are above any threat, any danger, any challenge,” Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah addressed the crowds again by video link on Tuesday morning, where he condemned recent attacks on Ashura commemorations in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Nigeria.
He also condemned recent Israeli aggressions in Jerusalem and the storming of the al-Aqsa compound by Zionist extremists.
He reiterated comments on ISIS and Islamist extremist.
“The takfiri project will be defeated sooner or later,” he said. “The fall of ISIS is inevitable.”
“These takfiris will be defeated in all areas and countries, and we will feel honored that we played a role in their defeat,” he added.
(Anadolu, AFP, Al-Akhbar)