THE SECRETARY general of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement has praised the outstanding achievements made in Iran, stressing that the Islamic Republic is now top-ranked in many fields both in the Middle East region and the world four decades after the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
‘Iran was under the significant influence of the United States during the Pahlavi regime (the pro-US Shah, ousted in 1979), and was Israel’s closest ally as well,’ Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said as he addressed his supporters via a televised speech broadcast live from the Lebanese capital Beirut on Wednesday evening.
‘This was the case until a courageous man (referring to the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini) came out of Qom after years and years of observation, and stood against the Pahlavi regime’s dictatorship and its complete submission to the US,’ Nasrallah added.
The Hezbollah chief then underscored that late Imam Khomeini had no personal benefits in leading the revolution, and merely sacrificed his life for the sake of Allah. The Iranian people have started 10 days of celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Nasrallah went on to say that the late founder of the Islamic Republic and anyone who supported his struggle suffered oppression and imprisonment at the hands of the Pahlavi regime, describing Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution as one of the most influential events both at regional and international levels.
‘The Pahlavi regime used to serve Americans’ interests in the region. It was seeking to forge broader relations with the US and Israel. The regime presented the worst form of dictatorship in the Middle East,’ the Hezbollah secretary general pointed out.
‘The divine nature and essence of the 1979 Islamic Revolution distinguishes it from other uprisings (in the world).
‘Late Imam Khomeini led the revolution against the poverty created by the Pahlavi regime. People from all strata of society participated in it as it was an uprising of the oppressed against injustice,’ Nasrallah said. He highlighted that Iran achieved genuine independence after the Islamic Revolution, and is now one of the few regional countries that makes independent decisions.
The Hezbollah leader said Iran has made great achievements under the rule of Islamic Jurisprudence, and is now leading in the region concerning the number of university students, international researchers and scholars, its share of science production as well as activities in the fields of nanotechnology, space technology and sports.
‘Iran is currently ranked second in the world in terms of stem cell research. The Islamic republic now produces more than 97% of its medical drug needs. It produces over 95% of its required military hardware, and exports five billion dollars worth of munitions annually,’ Nasrallah highlighted.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said the Israeli regime is violating Lebanon’s sovereignty in a ‘dangerous’ manner by licensing a company to ‘exploit an area’ for oil and gas resources near a disputed region.
The maritime dispute between the two sides runs over a sea zone of about 800 square kilometres. The underlying Levant basin of the Eastern Mediterranean has been proven to contain large natural gas reserves, probably even crude oil.
‘(It is) a dangerous matter. Israel has licensed and exploited an area adjacent to the Lebanese southern maritime borders,’ Berri was quoted by lawmakers from the Amal party as saying on Wednesday after a meeting. ‘This is an infringement on Lebanese sovereignty and targets our oil wealth and waters.’
Berri vowed ‘not to remain silent’ and will bring the issue up with Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during his visit to Beirut this week. Ali Bazzi, an Amal lawmaker, said Israel pressed on with the ‘violation’ despite the fact that the firms on the Lebanese side have stayed away from the disputed border.
Last year, the Lebanese government announced that it had signed gas exploration and production contracts for two energy blocks, including the disputed Block 9, with a consortium of France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek oil and gas companies.
Lebanon’s energy minister says there would be full exploration in the offshore energy block in waters disputed by Israel.
Consortium operator Total said it would not drill the first well of Block 9 near the disputed sliver of water, adding that the well would be drilled over 25 kilometres from the maritime border claimed by Israel. Since the end of the 2006 war, Israeli forces have regularly violated Lebanese airspace and made incursions into its territory. Israel is also building a 130-kilometre-long wall on Lebanon’s border.
On the question of relations with neighbouring state Syria, Lebanon’s minister of state for displaced affairs, Saleh Gharib, says his country will stick primarily to the Russian strategy for the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.
‘The Russian strategy will be adopted as a basis for our approach towards the return of Syrian refugees to Syria,’ he told China’s official Xinhua news agency on Wednesday.
He also did not deny the possibility of visiting Syria, or conducting a direct dialogue with high-ranking government officials in Damascus to secure the return of Syrian refugees.
‘Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is very much aware of the sensitivity of this issue, and all necessary steps will be taken in this regard,’ Gharib pointed out. The strategy to help Syrian refugees go back to their homes was drawn up following a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Finnish capital city of Helsinki on July 16, 2018.
It specifies around 76 residential neighbourhoods in Syria’s central provinces of Homs and Hama, the northwestern province of Idlib as well as Damascus to enable the return of 360,000 Syrian refugees as a first step. The strategy also entails the rehabilitation of houses in the mentioned areas, which would allow the return of 500,000 more Syrian refugees within two years.
On December 24 last year, it was reported that more than 1,000 Syrian refugees had returned to their homeland from southern Lebanese cities and districts of Tripoli, Arsal, Tyre and Nabatieh. Lebanon’s General Security in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) supervised.
Refugees returned home using buses sent by Syrian authorities and arrived at al-Zamrani, Jdeidat Yabous, al-Dabbousiya border crossings from Lebanese territories. The refugees underwent medical checks and polio vaccines were administered to children. They were then transferred to Syria’s northern and central provinces of Idlib and Homs in addition to other areas in the crisis-stricken Arab country.
More than one million Syrian refugees are registered with the UNHCR in Lebanon, although the Beirut government estimates that the true number of Syrians in Lebanon stands at 1.5 million.