Saturday, February 25, 2012

English Translation of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's Speech 16 February 2012

In his name.

The Speech delivered by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during the Ceremony of Loyalty to the Leader Martyrs on Thursday February 16, 2012.

I take refuge in Allah from the stoned devil. In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Most Merciful. Peace be on the Seal of prophets, our Master and Prophet, Abi Al Qassem Mohammad and on his chaste and pure Household and on his chosen companions and on all messengers and prophets.

Brothers and sisters! Peace be upon all of you and Allah's mercy and blessings. I welcome you, and thank you for your participation in this annual anniversary in which we recall memories, stances, history, heroism and the martyrdom of a group of our leaders. They are the leaders of the Resistance: His Eminence the Sheikh of the Islamic Resistance martyrs – Sheikh Ragheb Harb, His Eminence the Sayyed of the Islamic Resistance martyrs – Sayyed Abbass Mussawi, and the great Jihadi leader Hajj Imad Moghniyeh.

However, allow me first and before ushering into the topics of my speech to express our condolences and our succumb at a time to the will of Allah Almighty and His fate and destiny as we miss today and for the first time in 20 years the presence of dear, blessed chaste Sayyed Abu Hussein Mussawi – the father of leader martyr Sayyed Abbass Mussawi (May Allah reward him in Heaven). At the same time, he is the uncle of Sayyeda Um Yasser – martyr Siham Mussawi. It is enough pride that this solemn Sayyed is the father of our master, leader, dear Secretary General Sayyed Abbass Mussawi (May Allah reward him in Heaven). In his bosom, this great jihadi leader was raised up. Following the martyrdom of his son, this solemn Sayyed Abu Hussein used to attend in all the squares of the Resistance. Despite his old age, he used to go the fighting axis since those days and especially following the martyrdom of Sayyed Abbass in 1992. He used to suffer from some diseases. I told him: Don't bother yourself, O Sayyed. He used to tell me: No. When I – the old sick man – attend with the men in the fighting axes, eat with them, sleep among them, feel cold as they feel and got thirsty as they do, that prompts their morals and spirituality as I am the father of Sayyed Abbass.

He used to visit the families of martyrs and the wounded. He used to attend all occasions despite his difficult health conditions. I bear witness that this blessed Sayyed did not spare attending any occasion in which he could take part to guard the Resistance, to support it, and to prevent harming it or weakening it.

As there is nothing called coincidence, and as every small and big detail in this existence is under the divine will of Allah, it is a kind divine manifestation of fate that Sayyed Abu Hassan passes away from this world on the very day on which his dear son Sayyed Abbass was martyred.

Inshallah, we promise the soul of this kind, merciful, compassionate father whose sorrow was in his heart, kind joke ever on his tongue, and smile on his face that we will guard his spirit and oath as well as the will of his son. We will continue on this path. On this painful occasion, I offer my condolences to all Al Mussawi family members especially his next of kin, brothers, sons, daughters, grandchildren, relatives, the residents of Nabi Sheath village, our people in Bekaa, all the adorers of Sayyed Abbass and this Resistances and his supporters. To his soul we offer the reward of Al Fatiha Surah and the prayers on the Prophet and his Household.

On the commemoration of the leader martyrs – on this very day every year – we talk about them, their Resistance, their cause, their jihad and their achievements.

Indeed talking about their personal virtues is endless. That's because, fairly speaking, everyone of them – whether Sheikh Ragheb, Sayyed Abbass or Hajj Imad – had supreme personal virtues. Fairly speaking, they were outstanding from more than one perspective. In the previous commemorations of February 16th, I used to tackle common virtues among these leader martyrs. In the past, I talked about many of the common virtues. Last year, I said that among the common virtues among these leader martyrs is that they are among the founders of this Resistance, this track and this party in particular – Hezbollah. They were among the pioneer founders who partook and worked in establishing this great and gigantic construction which was built for the sake of Allah and which was built on devoutness from the very first day. Thus it develops, grows, gains victories and makes achievements.

Today I want to add that among the common virtues is that these leader martyrs had a very great influence on deeply rooting the pillars, bases, culture, mentality, and – in a more comprehensive term – the methodology of this Resistance and this Party. These leader martyrs had great favors besides many of the alive brethrens whose favors we do not overlook. However, in our path, we talk about the virtues of the martyrs. As for the alive, we talk about them later. This group of real leaders could deep-root this methodology to which Hezbollah still and will always be committed. This is one the main reasons behind the firmness of this path and the firmness of this track, procedure, stances, alliances, vision and strategies. As for the tactics and details, this is among the available and acceptable margin which vary as conditions and situations vary and as squares and changes alter.

Brothers and sisters! With absolute simplification I say that we all know that if we build a house on the sandy shore without bases, any wave may eliminate it. If we build a house with weak feeble pillars, it could collapse upon the slightest quake. If we build a house with strong pillars it might stand in face of the fiercest tornados, the most powerful winds and the most violent storms.

In a country like ours and in a region like ours which is and has been all through history on the line of political, military and security quakes, we must always build an edifice with strong deep-rooted pillars so that this edifice could remain steadfast, so that its people and residents be guarded, and so that honor, serenity, welfare, and stability could be secured.

What applies to houses, applies to human communities whether we are talking about a family, a faction, a tribe, a clan, a sect, a component in a people, a people, a society, a government, a party, an organization, or a political current. Any human community, society, people or state which is formed but does not have a clear methodology, deep-rooted pillars, and firm bases, will, in the face of wind, any local, regional or international change, any storm, any weak or strong quake, collapse or crumble, retreat, or deviate and become something else.

This is among the divine rules that control human communities and history. Whoever does not have pillars, bases and principles on which he builds his vision, motion, methodology and speech becomes like the riffraff who do croak with every one who croaks and waver with every breeze.

With the blessings of those leader martyrs, their sacrifices, lives, words, acts, jihad, resistance, blood and martyrdom, pillars and bases of this resistance were deeply-rooted. Therefore, God willing, you see that the resistance, and after 30 years of its establishment and in the future, is still strong, solid, firm, clear and with a high degree of certainty. Its slogan is the title of this ceremony: The leader martyrs – an unbeatable will. This is the slogan of the resistance which was established by these leaders and who deeply rooted its methodology, pillars and principles.

Thus when we set out in all matters which I will talk about and which we used to talk about always, we do not set out from our tempers. So we do not take a stance according to our temper. If we are not satisfied we break alliances. If we are content we build alliances. So we do not set out from our tempers and emotions, feelings, personal interests, sectarian interests, party or factional interests. Rather the greater interests are always before our eyes; the interest of the nation, the interest of the homeland, the interest of the people whose honor, pride, sovereignty and independence we are defending and of whom we are a part.

At the head of these pillars, bases and principles – whatever you call them - is our stance from the Zionist project in the region.

First comes comprehending this project and its essence, motives, bases, targets, risks, plots, internal and external pillars, points of strength, points of weaknesses, present status, current milieu, horizons and future. So first comes understanding this project; after that positions are taken.

We understand that Israel – the entity which usurped Occupied Palestine – is the entity of this project and the state of this project, the army of this project, and the tool of this great and dangerous Zionist project in the region. Thus we specify our stance according to this understanding. We specify our stance according to our humanitarian, moral, ideological, patriotic, and national belonging; then we head to the resistance action against this offensive project. There is a point which must be highlighted here, brothers and sisters. The danger of the Zionist project which is embodied in Israel in this region dominates over the entire nation. Thus we take this absolute aggressive stance from this project and its entity, army and state because:

First, this project is occupying Palestine and the Muslim and Christian sanctities in Palestine, is working on Judaizing Al-Quds, and inflicted and is inflicting the Palestinian people with all these oppressions, catastrophes, and pains whether inside Palestine or in exodus.

Second, we consider and believe – and facts confirm the validity of this consideration and belief – that the Zionist project is a danger on this region and its states, governments, peoples and the components of these peoples regardless of their religious belongings whether Muslims or Christians and regardless of their races whether Arabs, Turks, Turkmen, or Persians and despite their cultural belonging. It is a danger on these governments, states, and peoples. Consequently, we must face this danger and this project and beat this project.

In fact, when every resistance man in any country in this region, whether in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Iran or any country especially in the countries surrounding Palestine, stands in face of Israel and resists the Zionists, he will be defending the entire nation. Our leader martyrs and all the resistance men and martyrs who fell in Lebanon were defending Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and every Arab and Muslim country in the region which is threatened by the dangerous aggressive Zionist project.

There is no need to talk again about this project because it is well known to you and for thirty years we have been talking about it. I want to make use of time to cover the other points. So this is the essential norm and scale through which we make our evaluations, studies, corrections, initiatives, alliances and positions. This is one of the most important norms through which we set out in this perspective. On these bases we first set our conduct. We in Hezbollah are the children of this resistance group or one of the essential resistance groups in Lebanon. Our conduct, performance, alliances, speeches and movements serve this track.  

This cause, this priority and this central point come first. On this basis we make our considerations and corrections. Second through that we may evaluate and view others whether they are personalities, institutions, parties or movements whether in Lebanon or in the Arab region or in the Islamic world. Let's keep states aside. We will talk about states later. What is their stance from Palestine? What is their stance from Al Qods? What's their stance from the Zionist project? How do they act towards this stance? This must be the ruling norm in our time. Allow me to tell the Islamic parties and the rising Islamic movements in the Islamic world that this must be the first norm through which they must evaluate themselves and through which we evaluate ourselves and through which our Arab and Islamic peoples must evaluate us especially when I am an Islamist or an Islamic movement. There are some points which might be postponed. It might be acceptable that we do not express such points overtly speak about them indirectly. However, as far as the cause of the nation, the cause of Palestine, the cause of Al Qods, the danger of the Zionist project on the nation, on the religion of the nation on Muslims of this nation as well as the Christians of this nation and on Christianity are concerned, it is not acceptable that I be an Islamic movement in any Arab or Islamic country and my stance is not obvious, decisive, and certain towards Palestine, Al Qods, the Resistance in Palestine, Israel and the Zionist project in the region.

The same applies to states and governments. Let's evaluate, form our relations, and take our positions from these regimes and governments accordingly. For over 60 years since the establishment of this usurping occupation which occupied Palestine, some governments and regimes in our Arab and Islamic world have colluded with America, the West and Israel on the account of Palestine and the nation’s interests and worked on strengthening this entity and making the nation lose hope of triumphing over it. They tried to convince the Palestinian people and the peoples of the nations to accept a settlement with American and Israeli conditions. I may say that some of the regimes and governments in the Arab and Islamic world were very truthful and loyal to America and Israel. They exerted all efforts to achieve the goals of this project. Unfortunately, there is another category of governments and Arab and Islamic regimes – I mean they are Islamic countries – which took a neutral stance. That means they kept apart and got occupied in their internal causes and thus remained apart from this struggle. These countries are responsible for forsaking Palestine, the People of Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Jordan which had and still has occupied territories. There is still another category of governments and regimes which from the very first day had a resisting opposing stance, and consequently they bore repercussions, risks, sanctions, sieges and colossal conspiracies.

When I belong to this methodology, this cause, this understanding, this intellect – whether I am a Muslim or a Christian or whether I am Islamist on the intellectual level or on national or Arab level, would it be fair to view with the same eyes and have the same stance and evaluation towards the regimes which made everything possible so that Israel continues to exist and gain victory and the regimes which made everything possible so that Palestine continues to exist and gain victory? How is that possible?

Then, everything turned upside down, and he who remained silent, forsook, besieged, and conspired became the defender of the peoples and honor of the nation and vice versa. Is that possible?

We need this methodology to understand what is going on around us, and thus take the true position. Brothers and sisters! We are living in the time of ordeal. Why do they call it ordeal? If it is a true, clear evident right, it would not have been an ordeal. That's because people follow the true, clear evident right. If it is a true, clear evident injustice, it would not have been an ordeal. An ordeal is a mixture of what is right and what is unjust. Then some people look at what is right and they take a decision. Another group of people look at what is unjust and take a contradictory decision. What is correct is when man takes the cause as a whole and views it with scrutiny and objectivity and without any passivity, fanaticism and prior stances.

Setting out from this methodology, I would like to tackle briefly the situations in the region. I will wrap that by commenting on what we have heard lately. Thereof, I will usher into the Lebanese status quo before concluding with commenting on the bombings that took place recently abroad and aimed at Israeli targets.

When we are to tackle the situations in the region and what is taking place in more than one country in it from the true perspectives through which we must view and through which we must usher, we have to start first with Israel itself and its current status quo, strategic environment, how it evaluates threats and risks, how it behaves, and what the chances it looks forward to are. Brothers and sisters! To everyone who is listening: Where is Israel now from what is taking place in the region especially in Egypt, in Syria, in Iraq, in Lebanon, and above all in Palestine?

Indeed this is a sound perspective to view things in the region from. Today the Arab peoples and the Arab governments are unfortunately distracted from Palestine and what is taking place in Palestine. However the event that is attracting interests is Syria above all.

Indeed, I am not saying Bahrain because the people in Bahrain are left for their fate. Neither the Arab league nor the Organization of Islamic Conference nor the United Nations nor the Security Council nor anyone is bothering himself about Bahrain. This is a great show of oppression. The primary events and interests are in what is taking place in Syria and what is taking place in Egypt. This is very sensitive and very massive. Now let's see the Israelis. Today we are distracted from the Israelis but they are moving along in their project inside Palestine in Judaizing Al Qods, confiscating houses, establishing gardens in East Al Qods, and displacing the people of Al Maqdes. This is acceptable. Thousands of Palestinian prisoners are suffering in Israeli prisons. Now many of them are having a hunger strike. Prisoner Khader Adnan has been having a hunger strike for over sixty days, and he is facing the risk of death through this stance and this challenge. Where is the Arab League? Where is the Arab world?

Was Khader Adnan Israeli, would the world have responded to this issue as it is acting with this man who is subject to death? He has rightful demands. Was Khader Adnan Israeli, the Arab official governments would have interfered on the highest levels. Was he an Israeli prisoner at one of the resistance factions, Arab kings, princes, and presidents would have contacted the resistance movements to provide guarantees to be assured of the safety of the Israeli prisoner. Isn't this among the things that must shake the conscience? This is continuing. However, if we went further in the recess of the Israeli mind, we will find that worrisome, ambiguity and confusion at least – I do not want to exaggerate in my evaluation – are controlling the Israeli mind as far as the developments in the region are concerned. This has been expressed by the Israeli political, military and security officials in more than one occasion.

Days ago an annual conference under the name of Herzliya was held. Senior political, military and military leaders and strategic experts from inside and outside Israel deliver their words in the conference. Unfortunately, some Arabs partook in this conference, and this is a condemned, unfortunate and dishonorable stance. So these men delivered their words, but there is no time to comment on that because I have a number of points which I have to tackle. However, it is enough to tell you that the headline was 'anxiety'. It is not strategic anxiety or security anxiety. It is rather anxiety over existence. It is enough to give some quick examples. In that conference, Israeli War Minister Ehud Barak spoke. He said: The security and political challenges that Israel is facing are more fateful than the challenges which confronted the fathers who established the state. He means the first days of the establishment of the state of Israel. He also means by the fathers Ben Gorion and the others founders. So the challenges nowadays are more dangerous than the challenges that faced the leaders at that stage, during the war of 1967, and during Absolution War in 1973. So during the three fateful stages in the history of "Israel", Barak considered that the situation now is the most dangerous and the threat now is more than in the past. This is at a time it is supposed that Israel be moving towards more strength and invincibility.

Indeed Israel today is speaking about anxiety and existence danger not as a result of poetry, literature, songs and concerts. That is rather due to the action of resistance, jihad, politics, steadfastness, will, martyrs and sacrifices.

Netanyahu is another example. The enemy Chief of Staff spoke of the same concept in that conference. However, he spoke of this concept before Netanyahu following July War in 2006. The regime of Husni Mubarak hadn't have fallen yet. The Americans hadn't have withdrawn from Iraq yet. What did he say then? He said: The War of 1967 was for Israel – which was established in 1948 – a turning point from a state with a questionable origin – Is Israel to continue to exist or not? – to an invincible state. So following this war and the Absolution War of 1973, it was permeated in the awareness of a part of the Arab world that Israel is invincible. Israeli victory and deterrence formed a decisive factor for Arab states to comprehend the necessity of acknowledging the existence of the state of Israel and to make peace with it. Thus peace agreements were made with Egypt and Jordan and signs of a settlement with the Palestinians were indicated. However, I call the Arab world and especially the Lebanese people and more precisely March 14 Bloc to listen: Following the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon and from the Gaza Strip (These two withdrawals took place thanks to whom?) and after the second Lebanese War (meaning July War 2006), the track was reverted and it was clear then (It is Netanyahu, the enemy's Prime Minister who is saying so) that Israel is no longer an invincible state. Questioning its very existence lurked again not only among the enemies of Israel but also among its friends. This was before the fall of the Husni Mubarak and the US pullout from Iraq. So what is the case like today?

So anxiety is controlling the Israeli mind. This is natural because – and without exaggerating – there are regressions in the points of strength of Israel and the Zionist project.

Indeed this needs a long speech. However in a quick briefing I say that among the points of strength is American and western adoption and support. It is the investment of American political, security, military and financial influence in the support of Israel. Today America and the west are retreating in our region and also in the world.

Among the points of strength is the settlement which has advanced and was to be finalized. Now this settlement is almost null and void.

Among the points of strength is the presence of regimes which offered significant services to the Israelis, and extracted the greatest Arab state from the struggle – meaning the regime of Husni Mubarak. However, today this regime collapsed. I have previously said that no matter what the situation following the regime of Husni Mubarak is like, it won't be as bad as when under Mubarak. Thus they mourned Mubarak's fall. See they mourned Husni Mubarak and are happy for what is taking place in Syria. Iraq was a strong barricade which protects the eastern gate not to the Arabs but to Israel.

Netanyahu says: Iraq today has become an ally of Iran and the resistance axis. The Israeli military terror fell in Lebanon and in Gaza. Military power is among the Israeli points of strength. However, bargaining on this military strength retreated. The war on Lebanon and the war on Gaza proved that the aerial force that the enemy owns – and which is the most powerful air force in the Middle East – is unable to put a decisive end for the battle. The territorial force also falls short from putting a decisive end to the battle. For days it stood fighting heroes in southern Lebanon and in Gaza's fighting squares axis.

Among the points of strength for the enemy has always been the weakness of this nation and its regimes and peoples. Today the enemy talks about the points of strength in this nation, about the strength of the resistance and about the strength of the resisting and opposing states especially as far as rockets are concerned.

Meir Dagan is one of the important security personalities in Israel. He is the Mossad Chief. When he handed over – this piece of news was broadcasted again a couple of days ago – he told journalists that Hezbollah owns rockets and firearms which are not owned by 90% of the countries in the world. This is the Mossad Chief who is talking and not the Foreign Minister or a Knesset member or a journalist or a strategic expert. He is the Mossad Chief. Now whether this is right or wrong, God knows. However, it is enough that Israel believes that the Lebanese resistance has firearms not owned by 90% of the states in the world to prevent any aggression and protect this country.

Among the points of strength was internal adherence, conviction, culture and the willing to offer sacrifices. All of that retreated and we noticed the magnitude of internal crises.

The Israelis are facing today great threats which they speak about. However, they have opportunities. They still have opportunities. When I talk about opportunities, I do not do so to waste time but rather to prevent the Israelis from making use of these chances. They say – and it is not I who do this analysis – that the only available opportunity now for them is that a new president is elected in Egypt and that the president and the army make an alliance to cripple the will of the people or else chaos will prevail.

Dear Egyptians! In every security incident, chaos, crisis, or sectarian or factional incitement which take place now in Egypt, search for the Israeli and the American hand. So is the case in Iraq. The Israeli opportunity is chaos and internal fighting after the US failed to stay in Iraq. They also have a great opportunity in Syria which they talk about and which is toppling the regime. Here some valiant analysts referred to Barak as saying: The leadership is not always between two choices, the good and the bad. Sometimes it is before a bad and worse choice. Thus it chooses the bad instead of the worse. Today there is a consensus in Israel that any choice in Syria is better or not too bad as Al-Assad's regime. This is their chance. Now Israel is waiting and bargaining. It believes that the strategic environment which was formed in the region was at the expense of Israel. The only hope for Israel to turn the tables and the strategic environment is in toppling the regime in Syria. Some say that Israel is unsure about the alternative. However, any alternative in Syria is not too bad if not better as far as Israel is concerned. Only God knows what agreements, deals, and commissions are underway. That's because the group or side which is sponsored by the American, the west, and the Arab of the notorious history and the Israeli evoke anxiety.

Brothers and sisters! Muslims and Christians! I call upon you all to make some contemplation in quiet moments. Well, why does the whole world insist on toppling the Syrian regime? Why?

Isn't it weird that America, Europe, Israel, and the so called moderate Arab states – which assumes the responsibility for all the catastrophes which afflicted Palestine, the nation, Iraq, Iran and the peoples in the region for decades - as well as Al-Qaeda are all on one line? All of these meet on one aim and insist on achieving one goal which is toppling the Syrian regime.

As for us, and setting out from the methodology which we believe in, I say that yes we are now and we stood as I spoke to this effect first in Nabi Sheath village – the village of Sayyed Abbass – with Syria. Can anyone argue that the Syrian regime is not a resistant regime? This might not appeal to some. However, we are talking according to facts and events. This regime did not submit or yield to American and Israeli conditions. It did not forsake the resistance in Lebanon. It did not forsake the resistance in Palestine. It did not sell the resistance in Iraq.

When Colin Powell came with a long list, among his demands was calling on President Bashar Assad to give in dear brethren Khaled Meshaal, dear Professor Ramadan Abdullah, dear brethren Abu Jihad Jibril and dear brethrens so and so. It was demanded on him to take steps against the resistance in Lebanon, against the resistance in Palestine, against Iraq and against Iran. To which Arab country might a resistance man resort without fearing that this regime might hand him one day not if Colin Powell demanded that but if only Feltman talked to this effect? This regime stood in face of the American-Israeli project in the region. It supported the resistance movements. Yes, there are some negative points in this regime, and the leadership is acknowledging that. However, let's keep this aside. We will go back to this later.

The worst thing that might be tackled in any argument is that this regime did not open the Golan Front. No matter what the response of the Syrian leadership on the Golan Front is, I address those who evoke this argument saying: Did you open a front? Did you fight the Israelis? Did you resist? Did you support the resistance movements or closed the doors before it and besieged it and cut money from them and even prevented donation collection?

So we are before a regime of this kind. This regime needs reform. Everyone is calling for reforms including the people in power themselves.

Since the beginning, the leadership of this regime said it is ready to make reforms and started with reforms and issued laws: Parties Law, Media Law, Local Administration Law among other laws. A committee was formed to amend the Constitution as a whole. When I and my brethrens used to attend occasions or even in internal meetings, we were certain that the Syrian leadership wants reforms and will make massive reform steps. I still remember that in some meetings with some leaderships in Lebanon and the Arab world, some used to argue with me saying that he will not take any step. Will he cancel Article VIII? I used to say yes I am sure he will. This is information and not analyses. They used to tell me that I am mistaken. I used to tell them I am sure he will cancel Article VIII which says that Baath Party heads the state and the society. Will he accept that the President of the Republic be elected and not appointed through a referendum? Yes. Will he accept specifying the presidential tenure? Yes. Will they go for serious reform? Yes.

Since the very beginning, the regime said we are ready for reform and dialogue. It went far in that. What was meant by reform more than what took place? There is now a new Constitution and within 10 days it will be set to the referendum. Then they will head to parliamentary elections. Still on the other hand, we notice this insistence on armed confrontation, refusing dialogue and toppling the regime. What is the logic? Why is this insistence?

One of the greatest paradoxes which I call on everyone to contemplate is that these Arab governments – We are not talking about Israel and the West. Let's keep them aside – when asked about the form of a solution with Israel, they say the solution is political. There is no option other than negotiating with Israel. Well, is there any time table? No. For decades they have been negotiating with the Israelis who occupy, usurp and kill. They talk about an Arab Peace Initiative which was presented in 2000. Now we are in 2012 and it is still on the table. Where is it? It is still on the table. The Israelis are not showing their approval. With the Israelis they negotiate for decades and the choice is a political solution. Still they refuse a political solution with Syria. They say that there is no time. Things are over. Well, do explain that for us. Suppose that the regime in Syria is like Israel. You accept a political solution with Israel as well as dialogue, negotiations and a settlement. Why don't you accept a political solution with an Arab regime which has many positive points and which has negative points? Where is logic in that? I will tell you what the logic here is. Let no one tell me: O Sayyed! You are going too far in this stance. I do not take an emotional stance. Some say this is a show of loyalty. Yes, this is a show of loyalty but it is not only so. This is a vision, a methodology and the interest of the nation. Days will come and we will see and question each other.      

Arms were barred from the resistance in Palestine and in Lebanon. However, arms could reach Lebanon. However, in Palestine it was barred. Those who used to smuggle arms were tried. Still, in Syria, they openly pay money and send arms so that the Syrians fight each other. Why? For whose interest is that? Doesn't this Arab-Western-American-Israeli insistence not to solve the crisis politically in Syria, on fighting in Syria, on toppling the regime deserve a pose?

Even in Bahrain, if adopting your methodology of being with the people in all cases, why aren't you with the Bahraini people? According to our methodology, the people of Bahrain are a people who support the resistance and the Palestinian cause, are committed to it, and are committed to confronting the Zionist project. I remind you that when the war started against Gaza, the first to hit the street in the Arab and Islamic world in a show of solidarity with Gaza were the people of Bahrain. I also know that the people of Bahrain are ready to do anything they can do for Palestine. When they used to demonstrate in solidarity with Palestine and Al Qods, live bullets used to be opened on them by the Bahraini authority. You can go back to the archives. If one day it is doomed that there be in Bahrain a government elected by the Bahraini people, you will find it absolutely backing the Palestinian people. As for the regime in Bahrain and the authority in Bahrain, we all know its stance from Israel, what is secretive and overt, and the interviews which were broadcasted. Still the people of Bahrain are left for their fate and the regime in Bahrain is being defended. Well, tell me what is the methodology that is being followed here and according to which mentality they act?

Hereof, I will conclude tackling the situation in the region before ushering into the Lebanese situation.

Today let's work for the sake of Palestine, Al Qods, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and the entire region. Israel's great chance is in chaos and ordeal in an atmosphere of provocation, insults, lies and the like. Will we give Israel this chance at a time it is experiencing true anxiety over its very existence?

Indeed Iranian development worries Israel a lot as far as the nuclear issue is concerned though it is an absolutely peaceful issue. However, the Israelis think 20, 30 and 50 years ahead. What does Iran owning peaceful nuclear power mean militarily and what does it pose in the regional balance? This is how the Israelis think. We must search for a political solution in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, and in every Arab country. Even in Bahrain, we are searching for a political solution. We must let the Israelis lose this opportunity and we must not open the gates of our countries before ordeal.

Are the reforms which President Bashar Assad and the Syrian leadership undertook so far, the decisions which were taken, and the amendments which were made, to be taken by any king, prince, sheikh or president in any current Arab regimes? We find that the whole world on top of whom the Americans cheer and welcome any reforms in form made by any of them. However, when there are serious reforms, we see that the Americans mock them because they do not want reforms. They only want to destroy and devastate Syria. They want to destroy Egypt and Iraq. That's because as such Israel continues to exist, and as such America restores its control and deep-roots its control in the region after it was inflicted with weakness and feebleness.

In Lebanon, a couple of days ago, a memory dear to all the Lebanese was observed. It is the memory of the martyrdom of PM martyr Rafiq Hariri and a number of martyrs.            

Indeed, we always express our sorrow and offer our condolences to his family and adorers. We also condemn every kind of assassinations and incidents. With time, this occasion turned to a memory in which it is commemorated. A ceremony is held and words and speeches are delivered. Perhaps some might say let's speak about something else. No! We show respect, we are a people of dialogue and logic, and we respect the minds of the Lebanese and the other side no matter what their rhetoric was. After all we do not call for making annulments, cancellations or crossing out. We acknowledge the other side and their existence. We talk with each other, and we talk through the media. I will comment on the issue of dialogue.

There is a public opinion which hears us and we must hear it. We must hear both viewpoints to reach the required outcome. I will tackle some points quickly but with transparency and clarity:

First: Any call for national dialogue without prior conditions is a good, kind, acceptable call which we support, back and participate in.

Let me be precise. We back, support and partake in any call for national dialogue. In any national dialogue, the parties in the dialogue agree on the agenda. No one imposes any point on anyone. No one imposes his conditions on anyone. If they accept, we are ready for discussing the points. Let's meet and go for dialogue to the farthest point. However, if the call for dialogue is a call with conditions, that will not be a call for dialogue but rather something else. It is a kind of scoring points. I do not want to impose my understanding to what I heard in the commemoration. Is it a call for dialogue with or without conditions? That's because the call was ambiguous. I hope I will hear a clear answer. Is the dialogue with or without conditions? Is it a dialogue with or without prior results which are supposed to be imposed through dialogue? The second option is not a dialogue; we are absolutely with the first option.

Second: In the ceremony, March 14 Bloc oriented the call and the speech, and I am concerned in responding because a great part of the attack was targeting Hezbollah. There is a great part which focused on Syria, the Syrian leadership and the Syrian regime. I will mention some of the terms used in the speech and allow me as I have to mention names as well. When Mr. Geagea started talking, he started counting the names of massacres. Was it another person who counted the names of massacres that would have been better. Had they charged the head of the National Bloc, Carlos Eddeh, it would have been better. I do not want to go into this kind of argument. However, even mentioning Fatehallah Barraks is for and not against us. Recalling the martyrs of Fatehallah and the massacre of Fatehallah is for us and not against us. It also asserts that our relation with Syria is strategic and that our vision is strategic. Even when some Syrian officials wronged us, lined us on the wall and opened fire on us, we did not fight Syria. That was for the sake of Palestine, Al Qods and Lebanon. However, for whose sake were those who were killed by the militias and the forces of some of the speakers about massacres killed? For whose sake were they killed? Why were they killed? This is another point of study. I wished this door was not opened.

You focused your fierce and very harsh attack on Syria. The three speakers did that, and indeed the fourth speaker too. What do they say? I forgot the Lebanese proverb. If the crescent or the dawn of the Syrian National Council which viewed light in Istanbul charged Fares Saaed to be its official spokesman, that is a very good beginning. I actually do not mention names. However, I want to relieve the atmosphere a bit. That's because talking about strategies is hectic. According to which rule did you focus your campaign? Is this truly the interest of Lebanon and the Lebanese people? Is this the interest of the Christians in Lebanon and the interest of the Muslims in Lebanon? I will go back a bit to the past. March 14 Bloc must have a methodology and united standards. They accuse us of not having united standards. No! I am ready for discussion. I have a sole standard through which I view Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Moscow, China, Paris, London, and Washington as well. Now, let me see you one standard.

Less than a year ago I spoke on the Arab revolutions and I talked about Bahrain. Indeed, March 14 Bloc felt uneasy. One of the brethrens furnished me with a text extracted from Annahar Newspaper and not any other newspaper. Here also I will mention names. President Saad Hariri – May he recover soon – then attacked us saying: "Days ago stances were issued by primary leaderships in Hezbollah which aimed at involving Lebanon amidst the movements witnessed by some neighboring Arab countries". He considered that as stances depending on double standards. Hariri believed that the stance taken by Hezbollah is the other face of the idea of exporting division to the Arab nation and exporting ordeal to the Islamic square. He thought that the Lebanese masses in general and the Islamic masses in particular with both its Sunni and Shiite sects will not stand still before these dangerous calls and will not allow opening the door before any adventure that puts at risk the interests of Lebanon and its relations with its Arab brethrens. This is Saad who is talking. I want you to listen well. He continues saying this is a policy unacceptable by most of the Lebanese who don't want Lebanon to be drowned in the policies of axes. He considered that the leadership of Hezbollah does not stop at the limits of intervention in the affairs of Bahrain but is founding the pillars for getting the Lebanese – or a group of them – involved in dangerous roles that export fatwas from so and so decision centers. Sheikh Saad added that showing solidarity with the Arab peoples is one thing and adding fuel to the fire of Arab conflicts is something else. Lebanon will not be a bridge through which conflicts are exported to any brethren Arab country. Annahar Newspaper (March 23, 2011).

Compare this to the speeches delivered in Biel. Where is the logic? Where is the methodology? Where are the united standards? Where are the bases? Why do you export fatwas, dispatch arms, and money and fight through the media and through politics? You – March 14 Bloc – are all involved in money, arms, media and the stances that evoke killing and conflict in Syria. You accuse us of that. Anyway, keep our accusation aside. Why do you follow this logic?

Even more, do you still remember when a dear brethren of ours was arrested in Egypt, and a case under the title of Hezbollah cell in Egypt was filed? You remember how absurd that was at that time: they accused the men of toppling the regime, changing the form of the authority, and spreading Shiism in Egypt among other absurdities. The issue was that of smuggling arms and ammunition to Gaza Strip. Then March 14 Bloc got furious: Hezbollah is involving Lebanon, Hezbollah is hurling Lebanon in conflicts, and Hezbollah is making Lebanon and the people of Lebanon bear what they can't tolerate…

I will take another example. Let's lessen the weight on Sheikh Saad and move to "Al Hakim". Here also listen to the text and then try it according to the speech delivered on February 14. He talked about the above mentioned issue and the members of Hezbollah etc. He added: "This incident can't pass unattended in any state no matter how good the intentions were. Moreover, no party may allow itself to violate the rules of the other states no matter what the stance of this party or that is from the policies and rules of these states". Do the rules of Syria allow you and March 14 Bloc to enter arms and money and to provoke the Syrians against each other? If conveying arms to the oppressed noble resistance fighters who are fighting the enemy of this nation was condemned – the enemy is unanimously the enemy of this nation and the fighters of oppression are irreproachable – how do you do this in a case which is at least equivocal and which comprises sedition, suspicion and needs contemplation? Thus I call on you to be calm and to try us according to your very standards.

The third point is also a kind of advice. Here I am telling you: You in March 14 Bloc have attached your choices to one bargain. You linked everything to one bargain. In fact, they had nothing to offer. There isn't any act which they may offer. There is one point they make use of which is some feebleness and weakness in the government. Well this is the case of the governments in Lebanon. Now what about you? What do you have? Things were clear in this speech. As in the previous bargains on foreign developments, here the bargain was "we are waiting for what will take place in Syria". We are sure the regime will fall in Syria. It is similar to the bargains they made in the past and still did not work with them. Isn't it wrong that you link Lebanon to these events? You are the ones who talk about neutralism and about having Lebanon first. I do not say Lebanon first only. I rather say I have Lebanon first but along there is second, third and fourth. It is not only Lebanon first and that is the end of the story. Yes, Lebanon comes first. But it is not Lebanon comes first and that is the end of the story. No! I never lied to people. Now it's you who talk about neutralism. Even with Israel you called for neutralism. Even with Israel you talked about neutralism and a truce saying Lebanon is a weak country and why it should bear the burdens of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Why don’t you stand aside as far as Syria is concerned? Be neutral in this case. We commit mistakes. Let us commit mistakes. You have linked everything to one and only one event which is the fall of the regime. Well there are two actual suppositions. What did you prepare for those two suppositions which have decisive repercussions on Lebanon? What have you prepared for that? Your masses? Your people? The country you said you care for? One supposition says that the regime and the Syrian leadership will respond to the Syrian people as far as reforms are concerned. Thus things will be addressed and the ordeal will be passed. On what will you bargain then? How will you behave? At the end, this aggression, this struggle, this instigation and this field participation will not leave its repercussions on the future of the Lebanese-Syrian relations. This is on one hand.

The second supposition is that things move towards a civil war in Syria – May God forbid. I think the first supposition is more probable, and I rule out the second supposition. So suppose that there is no regime and no alternative regime. The country headed towards a civil war. This is what America and Israel want and work industriously to achieve. I ask you: What have you prepared for Lebanon whom you accuse us of hurling in involvements and I tell you this is not true? It is you who are hurling Lebanon in this war. Why do you neglect these two suppositions? What have you prepared for them?

Among the conditions of dialogue is transparency and clarity among those who sit on the table or will sit on the table. After all the Lebanese have no other choice than sitting with each other on the table. It is good that we know each other and that everyone of us expresses himself with truthfulness and transparency and say what he thinks of and what he wants.

I will tackle two examples. The first example is on the financial issue.

Last week, I gave a speech and I said that I will talk with transparency and clarity. This is time for clarity and transparency. We are in fact clear. Our arms and support is from the Islamic Republic in Iran. We thank it as we pray on Mohammad and his Household. Some in March 14 Bloc considered that this stance is condemned. Well this is a great confession. Now what about you? Where is your money from since 2005 up till now – you men of March 14 Bloc? March 14 Bloc has spent on its events, parties, leaderships, personalities and parliamentary elections more than 3 billion dollars. If one day they wished, we would reveal the details on how much everyone received and collected. Well, where are these 3 billion dollars from? They say it is shameful? Well I don't say so. I say it is from Iran. You say where your money is from. I don't want to say where they are from. Well, what is the problem in that? Why don't you say? Be truthful with yourself and your people and your country. How is it that I am illegal and you are more than legal? Well, why and where is all of this money from? I would like to make an explanation. Iran did not give the money and arms to Hezbollah because it is a Lebanese political party but rather because it is a movement that is resistant to the Israeli occupation. Supporting the resistance movements with money and arms is legal and an international custom. The history of humanity is based on that, and world states support the peoples' resisting movements. As for you, you are a political organization. You are a political party which has nothing to do with fighting Israel. Where did these 3 billion dollars come from? The tap was locked a period of time ago and I do not know if it was opened again.

If they are from your economic projects, that is not apparent. If you have inherited them from your parents, this is not clear.

Second we come to the issue of weapons. Why shouldn't we be clear? We are clear. O people! We have weapons, and you may say poetry about that. In more than one occasion, we said we are multiplying our arms. Anytime we are able to get arms we do so. Our arms are increasing in quality and in quality.

There are weapons which are known and others are secretive and unknown too. Indeed the arms are hidden not because we are ashamed of that but on the contrary because we want to protect our country. So we must hide them from the Israelis. We must always have surprises. That's only why we hide them. Let's get through with this. Why don't you talk about arms? Say that you have arms. Acknowledge that you own weapons which appeared on the television, on fronts, in the street in fighting and in occasions.

One of the leaders from March 14 Bloc then shows up to say that Hezbollah is talking about the arms of the others to justify its own arms. This is untrue. Point at one man from Hezbollah who talked with such language and according to this logic. That never took place. When we talk about the arms of the resistance, we have one and only one justification which is: these arms are to defend Lebanon, to liberate the land, and to confront the Israelis and the Israeli threat. Well, it is another story whether the others own or don't own arms. Should none of the Lebanese own one piece of arms we adhere to our arms until another notice to defend Lebanon. So we don't justify our weapons with the possession of others with weapons. We justify our arms with defending Lebanon. Whoever has a counterproof let him present it. Do say that yes we have arms. What prevents building the state? Is it Zilzal rocket which hits Tel Aviv or as I said previously the machine gun, the RPJ, and the hand grenade which are used for robbing and stealing and through which ordeals are evoked and people are made to kill each other? Is this what threatens stability in the country and prevents establishing a state or is it the rocket which is erected to protect Beirut – or rather Dahiyeh – in face of Tel Aviv? So as far as arms are concerned, declare truthfully and with transparency that you possess arms. Let's discuss arms and see which arms serve the defensive strategy. Do your arms serve it or not? Do our arms serve it or not? Then we take a decision concerning arms.

Are you really convinced and you want to convince the people that the Arab Spring was launched or born from the womb of the Cedars Revolution? The Arab Spring came in face of the regimes ran by Condoleezza Rice, Mrs. Clinton, and Feltman. They are the very persons who used to direct you in 2005 and were still before the fall of Husni Mubarak. All of you went in line – the archives still bear witness – and some of you made long tours with former FM Abu Al Gheit in the foreign ministry. Did you topple the regime of Husni Mubarak and brought along the Arab Spring in Egypt?

Well I have a question: If Israel gained victory in its war against Lebanon in 2006 and in its war against the Gaza Strip in 2008, and if America managed to strike the Iraqi resistance and the Neo Middle East – which you were a part of – was established, was the Arab Spring to be given birth? Or were a fall and a severe winter to set in all Arab countries?

Finally I say: O leaders of March 14 Bloc! You are not in a position to put conditions.

If you depend on a definite regional reading and find yourself triumphant and believe it is a matter of days and thus you came to set your conditions, you are mistaken. You have set conditions in the Aggression of 2006, and the war ended without your conditions being implemented.

Secondly, O leaders of March 14! With showing respect to those who had truthful and faithful national intentions, I say that you are not in a position to give guarantees in Lebanon in face of the current changes because the game in the region is by far greater than you are. So is the decision in your hands so that you give guarantees?

Third, everyone who is interested in preventing ordeal between Sunnites and Shiites must work from now on silencing his deputies, media, allies and websites that provoke using despiteful sectarian language all day and night.

Taking into consideration these points, I reiterate saying: We are with dialogue without conditions. There's no problem in that. Let that be organized. We are ready for dialogue. We have logic, evidence and proofs. We are ready for openness. The option of the Lebanese is that they be with each other and make discussions with each other. We are also with political and security stability in this country despite all what takes place in the region. We are also with keeping the current government in office and addressing its crises and points of weakness. In fact, if this government doesn't have except one positive productive point which is security and political stability in this stage that would be a very great positive point on the national level which deserves to be guarded.

Now we come to the bombings which took place abroad. I can say decisively that we in Hezbollah are not involved in the explosions which took place in India, Georgia and Thailand and which were mentioned in the media. We don't say so because we are afraid or because we are greedy. I may remain silent and let the people go far in their imaginations to the effect that Hezbollah has started taking action to revenge Hajj Imad Moghniyeh. We are not concerned. Who is concerned? What is the analysis? I do not know and I have no information. There is also no reason to waste our time in analysis.

In this point, I would like to remind you of something I used to say in the past. Today I will reiterate it. Yes, the blood of martyr Hajj Imad Moghniyeh will remain haunting them in their consciousness, awakening and dreams. This blood will not rest. As for our revenge, they know from whom it will be. Our revenge is not from Israeli recruits, Israeli diplomats or ordinary Israelis. In fact, I tell you it is disgraceful that Hezbollah avenges the great jihadi leader by killing ordinary Israelis or a diplomat here or there.

As for those on target, they know themselves and take procedures and hide when they travel. They carry great and serious procedures. I tell them keep on as such because as long as there is a man, a woman, a child or blood moving in the veins of anyone of us in Hezbollah, the day will come when we will take an honorable revenge for Imad Moghniyeh.  

Between a near unfitting revenge and a remote honorable revenge, we prefer the second.

I have a final word in which I will respond to what was said lately to wrap up the Israeli topic. I was hesitant whether I answer or not. However some advised me to approach the issue one way or another. With this I will wrap up my speech: Some have predicted a black image for the region. They considered that the region will change to the interest of America and Israel. This has always happened in the region. They have always made such analyses. Things will turn upside down. O people of March 8 and especially the resistance men and Hezbollah! See what you will do with yourselves. Some found out that before these changes in the region, the siege and the difficult circumstances that will come along – and in our viewpoint that will not take place – Hezbollah will resort and take refuge in the Israelis. Indeed, this is shameful. This is hurtful. I want to remind you and say that the Sheikh of martyrs – Sheikh Ragheb Harb – was killed because he refused to shake hands. This is our Sheikh. Sayyed Abbass, Hajj Imad and all our leaders and brethrens were martyred because this resistance refused to bargain. Bargains were proposed on it. I told you previously they did that in 2000, 2001 and 2002, and the Americans are ready now for bargaining.

However, I will mention the war in 2006 as an example. No conditions will be worse than those of 2006. The entire world was against us. The G8 were against us, and even Russia and China condemned us. Most of the Arab countries were against us. The Lebanese government was against us even if we were in the government but it was against us. Three fourths of the international and world media were against us. Locally some of the people were against us. There was shelling. Most of our people were displaced from their homes. Entire regions were evacuated. In few days every center and house for everyone in Hezbollah was shelled by warplanes. It was said that we had no choice: either you give in or you would be crushed.

One of the national leaders in Lebanon who is faithful and adoring in fact tried to mediate with some Arab states. Do practice pressure and stop the war. They said: Do not bother yourself. There is an international-Arab resolution to crush Hezbollah. Under such an atmosphere, they contacted us. Indeed Marc 14 Bloc leaderships in and outside the government said: There is a solution. Either Israel destroys everything and crushes you, or the solution would be that you accept to give in your arms, accept to hand the two prisoners, and accept the deployment of multinational troops in the South, in Beirut, in the Airport, in the Seaport and along the Lebanese-Syrian border. Then the war will end. You have to accept these three conditions so that the war ends.

This is the first time I say this in public. In broad internal mobilizing meetings with the young men, I have told the brethrens: I'm one of the people who from my early age I used to ascend the platform. I was then fifteen years old when I first ascended the platform and delivered a speech. Since then, I read, study and follow up. We have the issue of Imam Hussein (Peace be upon him), Karbala, and Ashura. Every year, we – the Shiites – lament the Imam and we have a mourning season during which we talk about Imam Hussein (Peace be upon him) and about Karbala. I do not claim that now I understood that comprehensively and correctly. However, I told my brethrens and now I tell you: never was I closer to understanding Imam Hussein (Peace be upon him) and Karbala more than in the first days of July War. Why? That's because they came and said: You have two choices. Either you go along in war and be crushed, or you succumb, give in your arms, hand the prisoners, forsake Palestine, abandon the sovereignty of your country, forsake the security and stability of your people, forsake the dignity of your people, and accept a new occupation under the title of multinational forces – i.e. similar to what was taking place in Iraq. So it is either a humiliating succumb or being crushed. Life is dear.

Now why do you every year and in every season hear me reiterating this phrase? In fact, in that moment, and before I consult my brethrens to give an answer, I instantly recalled in my conscience, mind and heart the tenth day of Muharram when Imam Hussein (Peace be upon him) stood and said: "The bastard son of a bastard has put us before two choices: either war or humiliation. Humiliation! How remote!

I tell him who said what he said: You know us more than others. I also tell everyone who thinks of this illusion: You know us. You know our history, mentality, culture and will. Humiliation! How remote!  Neither Allah, nor His Prophet, nor the believers nor the kind and chaste bosoms, nor the prideful souls, nor the zealous men does accept that we choose obeying the ignoble to the death of the noble. Thus our martyrs are as noble as Abbass Mussawi, Ragheb Harb, and Imad Moghniyeh. We are the people of this resistance. I tell you: We will remain here. We will proceed in this methodology, vision, clarity and principles. Do not worry about the future. The Israelis and the Americans are the anxious ones today. The Americans and the Israelis are the weak ones today. This is ordeal. This is the chance for the Israelis and we together will be able to confront it with awareness, firmness and the undefeatable will.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Anthony Shadid's Last Words on Tunisia

The tragic death of Anthony Shadid is a loss not only for journalism, but also for the American people more generally because of what more we could have learned from Shadid's empathetic and intelligent approach to telling other people's stories. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

Islamists’ Ideas on Democracy and Faith Face Test in Tunisia

By Anthony Shadid
The New York Times
February 17, 2012

This article was reported and written before Mr. Shadid’s death in Syria.

TUNIS — The epiphany of Said Ferjani came after his poor childhood in a pious town in Tunisia, after a religious renaissance a generation ago awakened his intellect, after he plotted a coup and a torturer broke his back, and after he fled to Britain to join other Islamists seeking asylum on a passport he had borrowed from a friend.

Twenty-two years later, when Mr. Ferjani returned home, he understood the task at hand: building a democracy, led by Islamists, that would be a model for the Arab world.

“This is our test,” he said.

If the revolts that swept the Middle East a year ago were the coming of age of youths determined to imagine another future for the Arab world, the aftermath that has brought elections in Egypt and Tunisia and the prospect of decisive Islamist influence in Morocco, Libya and, perhaps, Syria is the moment of another, older generation.

No one knows how one of the most critical chapters in the history of the modern Arab world will end, as the region pivots from a movement against dictatorship toward a movement for something that is proving far more ambiguous. But the generation embodied by Mr. Ferjani, shaped by jail, exile and repression and bound by faith and alliances years in the making, will have the greatest say in determining what emerges.

Their ascent to the forefront of Arab politics charts the lingering intellectual and organizational prowess of the Muslim Brotherhood, a revivalist movement founded by an Egyptian schoolteacher in a Suez Canal town in 1928. But intellectual currents that once radiated from Egypt now just as often flow in the other direction, as scholars and activists in Morocco and Tunisia, perched on the Arab world’s periphery and often influenced by the West, export ideas that seek a synthesis of what the most radical Islamists, along with their many critics here and in the West, still deem irreconcilable: faith and democracy.

More often than not, they are asking societies for trust that, given the experiences of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution or the Islamist-led coup in Sudan in 1989, authoritarian leaders and secular forces are reluctant to offer.

Mr. Ferjani, a 57-year-old self-taught intellectual as exuberant as he is pious, acknowledges the doubts. In one of several interviews, he declared that history — a word he uses often — would judge his generation not on its ability to take power but rather on what it did with power, which has come after four decades of activism.

“I can tell you one thing, we now have a golden opportunity,” he said, smiling. “And in this golden opportunity, I’m not interested in control. I’m interested in delivering the best charismatic system, a charismatic, democratic system. This is my dream.”

A Chance Encounter

Nothing in Mr. Ferjani’s childhood really set him on the path to realize this ambition. Born in Kairouan, a town reputed by some Muslims to be Islam’s fourth holiest city, he was not especially pious as a child. His father, a shopkeeper, never managed to provide enough for his family. He remembered going three days without food once, and wearing cheap sandals to school. “Poverty, we tasted it,” he recalled.

By his own account, he was unruly and rambunctious until he turned 16. That year, Rachid al-Ghannouchi, an Arab nationalist turned Islamist who had studied in Egypt and Syria before returning to Tunisia, took a job teaching Arabic in Kairouan. Mr. Ghannouchi would stay only a year before setting out to eventually form the Islamic Tendency Movement, then the Ennahda Party, but he left a legacy with his students.

“He was always talking about the world and politics,” Mr. Ferjani said. “Why as Muslims are we backwards? What makes us backwards? Is it our destiny to be so?”

The questions posed by Mr. Ghannouchi have shaped successive generations of Islamists, a term that never captures their diversity. The theme was examined in the work of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose notion of missionary work proved so successful over 50 years. It was there, too, in the works of Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian thinker whose writings resonated long after he was hanged in 1966, helping give rise to a militant Islamism that bloodied the Middle East. Later, “The Hidden Duty,” a text that laid the groundwork for the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981, tried to resolve the issue. So did Mr. Ghannouchi, who endorsed pluralism and democracy, even as revolution raged in Iran.

In Kairouan’s colonial-era Negra Mosque, Mr. Ferjani and a hundred other youths gathered to study them all. “Read, read, read, read,” he recalled. “Even when I walked, I read.”

Mr. Ferjani eventually made his way to Tunis, the capital, where he joined his old Arabic teacher’s group. “Politics was there from the beginning,” he said in the interview.

Tunisia was ruled at the time by Habib Bourguiba, who was so secular that he once made it a point to drink orange juice on television during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. Mr. Bourguiba, in power since 1957, cracked down on Mr. Ghannouchi’s followers, and with the prospect of many of them being executed, Mr. Ferjani said he helped in plotting a coup d’état. He met many of the organizers at a video store he ran in a low-slung building of white stucco and blue shutters, across the street from Parliament.

Seventeen hours before they were to carry it out, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Mr. Bourguiba’s interior minister, led his own coup. Ten days later, on Nov. 17, 1987, Mr. Ferjani was arrested. He spent 18 months in jail, where his interrogators strapped him to a bar in what he called “the roasted chicken” position and fractured his vertebra with an iron rod. Unable to walk, the pain searing, he would be carried by prisoners on their backs whenever he had to move.

“They were extreme experts in how to make the torture felt in every part of the body,” Mr. Ferjani recalled. “I would stay awake until 5 a.m. in the morning. I’d pray till dawn, then I’d sleep, and I’d only fall asleep because there was nothing left in me.”

Five months after his release, still in a wheelchair, he trained himself to walk 50 yards so that security would not notice him at the airport. He shaved his beard and borrowed a friend’s passport. Then he caught a flight to London and sought asylum.

Crucible of Exile

Islamists of Mr. Ferjani’s generation wear prison time like a badge of honor. But exile, especially for the Tunisians, was often no less formative.

The London where Mr. Ferjani traveled became a hub of sorts for Islamist politics in the 1990s. Mr. Ghannouchi soon arrived there, joining Mr. Ferjani. Salafis from Saudi Arabia mixed with their frequent adversaries, Shiites from Bahrain, finding more common ground in London than at home.

Ahmed Yousef, a scholar and Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, recalled a similar environment in the United States, where he made lifelong contacts at conferences in Washington. Among the connections: Saadeddine Othmani, a Moroccan scholar and politician; Ali Sadreddine Bayanouni, a Syrian Brotherhood leader; Abdul Latif Arabiyat, an Islamist leader from Jordan; and Abdelilah Benkirane, a Moroccan who is now the prime minister.

The environment became less permissive after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, Mr. Yousef said, but until then, “it was like paradise.”

“In exile, people feel they need each other,” said Azzam Tamimi, a Palestinian scholar and activist in London, who has written a biography of Mr. Ghannouchi. “Back home, the national environment imposes itself on you. Priorities become different.”

Mr. Ferjani compared his years in London to the intellectual awakening he underwent in Kairouan in the 1970s. Settling with his wife and five children in the neighborhood of Ealing, he remained in Islamist circles, soon embroiled in the debates over Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, but broadening his horizons into civil society. He took classes on the history of Europe, democracy, the environment and social change.

He said he understood what Mr. Tamimi called the “common roots and common ground” of Islamist activists, many of whom never expected to return home.

“We know each other,” he said. “But knowing is one thing, doing things together in every sense — as many may think — is another. In politics, it’s not that we all agree.”

Embracing Democracy

Through Mr. Ferjani’s years in exile, the dominant image of political Islam was the bloody record of Egypt’s insurgency in the 1990s, the Algerian civil war and the ascent of Bin Laden, whose Manichaean view of the world mirrored the most vitriolic statements of the Bush administration.

But no less dramatic was the shift under way within various currents inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood. Mr. Ghannouchi, his own thoughts evolving in exile, became an early proponent of a more inclusive and tolerant Islamism, arguing a generation ago that notions of elections and majority rule were universal and did not contradict Islam. Early on, he supported affirmative action to increase women’s participation in Parliament, a break with the unrelenting notion of missionary work that so long defined the Brotherhood.

“Frankly, the guy who brought democracy into the Islamic movement is Ghannouchi,” Mr. Ferjani said. As Mr. Ghannouchi himself put it in an interview late last year, at a conference in Istanbul attended by Islamist activists from Tunisia to the Palestinian territories, “Rulers benefit from violence more than their opponents do.”

In debates that played out across the Arab world, though often ignored by the West, the questions of reconciling democracy and Islam raged from the 1990s on. In the middle of that decade, a young Egyptian Islamist named Aboul-Ela Maadi broke from the Brotherhood and formed the Center Party, declaring its support for elections and the alternation of power and, as important, dissent and coalitions with non-Islamic parties.

Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an enormously influential Egyptian cleric based in Doha, Qatar, often sided with the progressives. (In 2005, he turned heads by declaring on Al Jazeera satellite television that “freedom comes before Islamic law.”) Though the Brotherhood still resents Mr. Maadi for his defection, it has largely adopted his ideas, which had seemed so novel in 1996.

Those debates reverberated across the region. Mr. Yousef, the Palestinian, remembered the impact of reading Mr. Ghannouchi’s monthly magazine, Al Maarifa, as a student in Egypt. In Libya, Ali Sallabi, who once debated politics with jihadists in the prisons of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, cited Mr. Ghannouchi and Sheik Qaradawi as inspirations.

Critics view the shifts as tactical, even rhetorical. But the very essence of the debates has marked a fulcrum in the intellectual currents of today’s political Islam.

“Al-sama’ wa’l-ta’a,” went the old Brotherhood ideal, which translates as “hearing and obeying.”

“That’s over,” said Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Islamic scholar based in London and a grandson of Mr. Banna, the Brotherhood founder. “The new generation is saying if it’s going to be this, then we’re leaving. You have a new understanding and a new energy.”

He noted that in contrast to Mr. Ferjani’s earlier years, when Egypt was the source of new Islamist thought, the influences are now more pronounced of exiles in Europe, scholars in North Africa like Mr. Ghannouchi and Ahmed Raysouni, and Islamist parties like Ennahda in Tunisia and Mr. Benkirane’s Justice and Development Party in Morocco.

“It’s not coming just from the Middle East anymore,” Mr. Ramadan said. “It’s coming from North African countries and from the West. There are new visions and there are new ways of understanding. Now they are bringing these thoughts back to the Middle East.”

From his perch in London, Mr. Ferjani incorporated talk of Westminster when formulating his idea of a charismatic state, whether led by Islamists or others. After vehemently rejecting the left, he now embraces Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism.

Exile, he said, “changed me a lot, profoundly.”

Applying Theories

On a brisk winter day, Mr. Ferjani sat in Ennahda’s offices in Tunisia, a five-story building whose plastic sign inscribed with its name lent a sense of the unfinished.

Nearly a year had passed since he had returned to Tunis, draped in the red national flag and walking effortlessly through the airport. He carried a passport that was his. His beard had gone gray, save for a mustache that served as a reminder of his youth in Kairouan. About 200 people met him at the terminal.

“No place for traitors in Tunisia, only for those who defend her!” he sang, joining the crowd as it recited the national anthem. “We live and die loyal to Tunisia.”

On this day, his mood was more somber. In protests, secular activists were denouncing the caliphate that they believed was sure to rise from the victory of Ennahda in elections in October. Newspapers opposed to the party were full of stories of abuses by puritanical Islamists and Ennahda’s supposed tolerance of extreme practices. In well-to-do cafes, some Tunisians viewed Ennahda’s success in existential terms, talking of an inevitable intolerance sanctioned by religion that would extinguish Tunisia’s cosmopolitanism. The cultural debates seemed to overshadow what everyone agreed was more pressing: an ailing economy.

“Frankly, we’re on top of things,” Mr. Ferjani said.

But in a less guarded moment, he asked, “Can you really solve problems of 50 years in less than one month with a government that is less than one month old?”

In an interview, Mr. Ferjani had once quipped, “You know, power corrupts.” As he sat at the party headquarters on this day, he wrestled with those questions of power. Next to him were stacks of the party’s newspaper, The Dawn. One column railed against “counterrevolutionary media”; another darkly hinted at conspiracies. The front page declared, “Parliament is against sit-ins and for listening to the demands of the people.”

“We don’t fear freedom of expression, but we cannot allow disorder,” he said. “People have to be responsible. They have to know there is law and order.”

He suggested that protesters should obtain permission from the police. He worried that the news media was too reckless. He hinted that the forces of the ancien régime were still plotting. In the cramped room, his exuberance had turned stern, and his words were hesitant.

“Everybody has to be careful not to be dragged into a dictatorial instinct, no matter what happens,” he said. “We can’t lose the soul of our revolution.”

This, he said, was the test.

David D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting from Cairo.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Decade Without Justice

Letters Raise Fears for Last Briton in Guantanamo

By Paul Cahalan
The Independent
Monday, 13 February 2012

On the day he marks 10 years locked inside the world's most notorious prison without having been charged with an offence, the last UK resident in Guantanamo Bay pleads with his captors: "Please torture me in the old way ... Here they destroy people mentally and physically without leaving marks."

Speaking from his cell through letters and comments published for the first time in The Independent today, Shaker Aamer, who has never stood trial, reveals the torment of his captivity and removal from his family. Yesterday a senior British source close to the talks admitted that Mr Aamer's detention was "unconscionable". His plight was raised most recently with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week.

Fears are growing for the welfare of Mr Aamer, from south London, who is now 45 and has a wife and four children. He has never met his youngest son. His lawyers are particularly concerned by the deterioration of his mental and physical state, which Mr Aamer describes vividly in his letters. He has lost 40 per cent of his body weight and is suffering from health problems, aggravated by long periods in solitary confinement.

The Independent has seen dozens of handwritten letters from Mr Aamer to his wife and family and today publishes a selection of extracts. Heavily censored and containing scrawled drawings to entertain his children, they paint a portrait of his time in Guantanamo. On 19 August 2002, he writes: "You won't believe me, my hand is killing me from writing and also my back. I am getting old. I just became 41... but physically I'm 50. I got arthritis, kidney problems, hearing problems, eye problems, my hair has fallen, my heart is aching."

On 9 August 2008, he says: "My sweetheart, yes I lost a lot of weight, yes I have a lot of sickness, yes I got short sight, yes my bones are aching, yes I got white hair, yes I got old, but ... my heart is still young, my mind still strong, stronger than ever."

One of his lawyers, Cori Crider, who visited Mr Aamer in Guantanamo last week, said: "Shaker has dropped to perhaps 150lb [68kg], his face bears the marks of suffering, and while he has a nigh-irrepressible spirit, the authorities seem determined to grind him down to nothing." Clive Stafford Smith, another of his lawyers, said his client had been reading 1984 by George Orwell. "You must read this book because you need to understand what is happening here in Guantanamo," Mr Aamer told him during a visit late last year, the notes of which were declassified two days ago.

Captured in Afghanistan in December 2001 and held in Kandahar and Bagram before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay on 13 February 2002, Mr Aamer claims he has been tortured over a number of years. He also alleges he was tortured in the presence of a British MI6 officer in Afghanistan. Mr Stafford Smith said Mr Aamer began his latest spell in isolation on 15 July last year.

A British resident, born in Saudi Arabia, Mr Aamer had indefinite leave to remain in the UK when he was reportedly sold to the US in 2001 by Afghan villagers for $5,000. He claims he was helping to build a school. The US claims he was fighting with the Taliban.

Mr Aamer is the only one of the Guantanamo detainees to allege he was tortured while a British Secret Intelligence Service agent looked on. He claims "John" was present in Afghanistan when his head was smashed against a wall. He also claims he was visited by agents three times in Guantanamo between 2002 and 2005 – by which time the use of torture was widespread knowledge.

It has been reported that Scotland Yard detectives are to fly to Guantanamo to interview Mr Aamer, but the UK Government has always denied complicity in torture. Mr Aamer's imprisonment was raised by the Foreign Secretary William Hague during talks with Hillary Clinton last December. A British source said the upcoming US election made the prospect of a quick release unlikely, but told The Independent the UK was committed to his release. "The UK takes the view his detention is unconscionable," he said. "We are conscious of the US political process, but 10 years is a very long time without charge." Another source familiar with the case reported a conversation with a senior US diplomat who expressed a desire to see Guantanamo shut down and Mr Aamer returned "because it was a source of embarrassment" and "a running sore that compromised the diplomatic mission". A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The Government remains committed to securing Mr Aamer's release."

Timeline: a decade without justice

1996: Moves to London and works as an Arabic translator for a firm of solicitors. Marries a British citizen and is eventually granted residency.

June 2001: Goes to Kabul to volunteer for an Islamic charity.

October 2001: US invasion of Afghanistan begins.

November 2001: Captured by the Northern Alliance and eventually handed to the Americans. Claims subsequently he was badly physically abused at Bagram, in the presence of a British intelligence officer.

February 2002: Brought to Guantanamo Bay, but is not charged with a crime, a situation which has not changed.

September 2005: Organises hunger strike among inmates and is placed in solitary confinement.

June 2006: Claims he was beaten for hours and asphyxiated during an interrogation on the same day three other Guantanamo inmates died.

June 2007: Cleared for release when the Bush administration acknowledges it has no evidence against him but remains interned.

February 2009: Becomes the last British citizen or resident at the camp when Binyam Mohamed is repatriated.

January 2012: The Independent reveals the UK Government has spent £274,345 fighting Aamer in court, including preventing his lawyers viewing evidence that may prove his innocence and end more than a decade in US custody.

From Camp X-ray... Shaker Aamer's letters home

19 August 2002

"I just became 41... but physically I'm 50. I got arthritis, kidney problems, hearing problems, eye problems, my hair has fallen, my heart is aching."

9 March 2005

"You are the soul of my life. You are the best of my heart. You are the light of my eyes. You are the oxygen in my lungs, you are the sun on my back, the sweetest taste of my mouth you are everything you are everything I need to live, to love, to be... Do you know how much you are important for my life. If you break I will break, if you become weak I will become weak and if you go I will go. You are my soul twin. I need you to be strong."

9 August 2008

My sweetheart, yes I lost a lot of weight, yes I have a lot of sickness, yes I got short sight, yes my bones are aching, yes I got white hair, yes I got old but I love to tell you my heart is still young, my mind still strong, stronger than ever."

Statement from Al-Khalil / Hebron

“Under Attack”: the Golani Brigade's War on the Palestinian Population

February 12, 2012 Al-Khalil/Hebron, Palestine


Christian Peacemaker Teams, (927/0 59 810 4549) (972/0 54 342 0117)

International Solidarity Movement, (972/0 59-550-02864)

A newly released report submitted to the United Nations by international organizations working in Al-Khalil documents a sharp increase in serious human rights violations against Palestinian civilians, particularly youth and children, living in the Old City and Tel Rumeida.

Since their arrival on December 27 of 2011, the Israeli Golani Brigade has shown signs of deliberate harassment and targeting of the Palestinian population of Al-Khalil. The report documents an increase in arrests and detentions of adults and children, serious physical injuries sustained while in military custody, home invasions, and an increase in the number and duration of arbitrary detentions of civilians at checkpoints. It also documents harassment of and attempts to silence international observers attempting to document these abuses.

Contrary to military justifications, these human rights violations have occurred without any observed provocation on the part of Palestinians. These eye-witness accounts, either reported to or witnessed by Internationals working in the city, are believed to represent only a small portion of the total number of abuses.

For example:

On Thursday, January 12th: Golani beat a developmentally disabled young man when he knocked on the checkpoint door after they closed it in front of him. That evening, they attacked his mother and severely beat the teenager’s younger brother, cracking his skull, and then arrested the two young men.

On Tuesday, January 17th: Golani entered a man’s home at night, pushed the family out of their house, including their 1½ year old son, and beat the father, for which he required medical treatment.

On Friday, January 20th: Golani held a 10 and 12 year-old boy behind the gate of the Beit Romano settlement. A witness said the boys had been wearing ski masks because of the cold weather, but had not been throwing rocks, as the soldiers claimed. The soldiers gave the boys’ parents a list containing the names of five other boys from the Old City, saying that if the parents brought those boys to the gate, the soldiers would release the other two.

Internationals working in Al-Khalil have called for an immediate withdrawal of the Golani Brigade, citing fears that the abuses will continue to escalate and make life unbearable for Palestinians should the soldiers remain another two to five months as expected.

The full report is available for viewing, along with video and photos, at

Friday, February 10, 2012

The End to Military Rule in Egypt?

Muslim Brotherhood Demands Military Cede Power in Egypt

By David D. Kirkpatrick
The New York Times
February 9, 2012

CAIRO — The Muslim Brotherhood demanded Thursday that Egypt’s military rulers cede control of the government, stepping closer to a long-anticipated confrontation between the ruling generals and the Islamist-dominated Parliament.

In a statement on its Web site and a television interview with one of its senior leaders, the Brotherhood called for the military to allow the replacement of the current prime minister and cabinet with a new coalition government formed by Parliament, which would amount to an immediate handover of power.

The Brotherhood, the formerly outlawed Islamist group that now dominates Parliament, had previously said it was content to wait for the June deadline by which the generals had pledged to turn over power, which they seized with the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak last year. And signs were accumulating of a general accord between the military and the Brotherhood over the terms of a new constitution expected to be ratified before the handover. The Brotherhood’s shift comes on the eve of the Feb. 11 anniversary of Mr. Mubarak’s downfall, when other activists around the country have called for a general strike to demand the end of military rule — a call the Brotherhood has previously resisted.

But the group is also changing its position at a time when the military-controlled government appears overwhelmed by domestic and foreign crises, including a deadly soccer riot last week followed by five days of violent protests, a standoff with Washington that has imperiled billions of dollars in United States aid and international loans, and an economy teetering on collapse.

“We must start the formation of a coalition government immediately, to deal in particular with the economic situation and the state of lawlessness in this homeland,” Khairat el Shater, deputy to the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide and one of its most influential figures, said in the online statement, which quoted an interview he gave to Al Jazeera.

Mr. Shater pointed in particular to the government’s repeated use of deadly force against civilian protesters.

“Dealing with the demonstrators violently is a mistake, a sign of weakness and mismanagement by the Ministry of Interior,” he said.

The Brotherhood is effectively agreeing with street protesters and liberals on the need for the military to leave power at once. But in the polarized dynamics of Egypt’s nascent democracy, liberal party leaders said Thursday that they were unwilling to form a coalition with the Islamists even to remove the military.

“The liberals would prefer to be in opposition to monitor and leave it to the Brotherhood to implement their control,” said Emad Gad, a leader of the liberal Social Democratic Party.

At stake in the debate over the timing of the handover is who will hold power during the drafting of a constitution and election of a president. The military has previously sought guidelines giving itself permanent political powers and immunities, and its opponents fear that it could again try to shape the constitutional process for its own benefit.

In the early rounds of elections, Brotherhood leaders briefly threatened to challenge the generals over control of the government. But later, signs of accord emerged with the ruling military on delicate subjects like limiting disclosure of the defense budget.

Now, though, the military-led government appears paralyzed by crises. The generals have seemed unwilling or unable to resolve a dispute with Washington over criminal charges filed against 16 Americans, including the son of a cabinet official, in a politically charged case over foreign financing of nonprofit groups. (Egypt initially said that 19 Americans were being charged, but the United States says only 16 are citizens; of those, at least six are still in Egypt and barred from traveling.)

The dispute prompted President Obama and Congressional leaders to threaten to cancel Egypt’s $1.5 billion in annual American aid. Diplomats say American opposition could also make it harder for Egypt to obtain billions of dollars in badly needed foreign currency from the International Monetary Fund, as well as other international lenders and donors.

Last week, the deadliest soccer riot in Egypt’s history and the bloodiest in the world in at least 15 years left more than 73 fans dead. Many blamed the police for failing to prevent the violence, and tens of thousands of protesters swarmed Interior Ministry buildings in Cairo and Suez.

But 15 more were killed as a result of the response by the police, who used tear gas, birdshot, rubber bullets and live ammunition. Since beginning a crackdown in October, the security forces have killed more than 100 street protesters.

The soccer riot and its aftermath prove “that security in the country is in a state of grave instability,” a Brotherhood spokesman, Mahmoud Ghuzlan, said.

But the advent of a democratically elected Parliament has made it possible for the chamber to form a coalition government with the legitimacy to crack down on the disorder. “If the Parliament formed a government that represents the people, it could take harsh measures that would deter anyone who might dare to repeat such disasters,” Mr. Ghuzlan said.

He said the Brotherhood had changed its position toward the interim government in part because of the report of a parliamentary fact-finding mission. Lawmakers who visited the morgue found that the interior minister had lied to lawmakers when he said his officers never used birdshot or other ammunition against the demonstrators.

“He didn’t say the truth,” Mr. Ghuzlan said, explaining that the Muslim Brotherhood’s parliamentary leaders were now moving toward a no-confidence vote to remove the interior minister. It could be a first test of strength between the elected Parliament and military leaders.

But he said the group did not seek a confrontation, and noted that the current interim Constitution backed by the military allowed it to name a new cabinet even after a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

If the military council refuses to let Parliament name a new cabinet, Brotherhood leaders said, they may seek a no-confidence vote on the whole government, or take to the streets.

Mayy El Sheikh contributed reporting.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Sad Indictment of Today's Libya

Libya Struggles to Curb Militias as Chaos Grows

By Anthony Shadid
The New York Times
February 8, 2012

TRIPOLI, Libya — As the militiamen saw it, they had the best of intentions. They assaulted another militia at a seaside base here this week to rescue a woman who had been abducted. When the guns fell silent, briefly, the scene that unfolded felt as chaotic as Libya’s revolution these days — a government whose authority extends no further than its offices, militias whose swagger comes from guns far too plentiful and residents whose patience fades with every volley of gunfire that cracks at night.

The woman was soon freed. The base was theirs. And the plunder began.

“Nothing gets taken out!” shouted one of the militiamen, trying to enforce order.

It did anyway: a box of grenades, rusted heavy machine guns, ammunition belts, grenade launchers, crates of bottled water and an aquarium propped improbably on a moped. Men from a half-dozen militias ferried out the goods, occasionally firing into the air. They fought over looted cars, then shot them up when they did not get their way.

“This is destruction!” complained Nouri Ftais, a 51-year-old commander, who offered a rare, unheeded voice of reason. “We’re destroying Libya with our bare hands.”

The country that witnessed the Arab world’s most sweeping revolution is foundering. So is its capital, where a semblance of normality has returned after the chaotic days of the fall of Tripoli last August. But no one would consider a city ordinary where militiamen tortured to death an urbane former diplomat two weeks ago, where hundreds of refugees deemed loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi waited hopelessly in a camp and where a government official acknowledged that “freedom is a problem.” Much about the scene on Wednesday was lamentable, perhaps because the discord was so commonplace.

“Some of it is really overwhelming,” said Ashur Shamis, an adviser to Libya’s interim prime minister, Abdel-Rahim el-Keeb. “But somehow we have this crazy notion that we can defeat it.”

There remains optimism in Tripoli, not least because the country sits atop so much oil. But Mr. Keeb’s government, formed Nov. 28, has found itself virtually paralyzed by rivalries that have forced it to divvy up power along lines of regions and personalities, by unfulfillable expectations that Colonel Qaddafi’s fall would bring prosperity, and by a powerlessness so marked that the national army is treated as if it were another militia.

The government could do little as local grievances gave rise last month to clashes in Bani Walid, once a Qaddafi stronghold, and between towns in the Nafusah Mountains, where rival fighters, each claiming to represent the revolution, slugged it out with guns, grenades and artillery.

“It’s a government for a crisis,” Mr. Shamis said, in an office outfitted in the sharp angles of glass and chrome. “It’s a crisis government. It is impossible to deliver everything.”

Graffiti in Tripoli still plays on Colonel Qaddafi’s most memorable speech last year, when he vowed to fight house to house, alley to alley. “Who are you?” he taunted, seeming to offer his best impression of Tony Montana in “Scarface.”

“Who am I?” the words written over his cartoonish portrait answered back.

Across from Mr. Shamis’s office a new slogan has appeared.

“Where are you?” it asks.

The question underlines the issue of legitimacy, which remains the most pressing matter in revolutionary Libya. Officials hope that elections in May or June can do what they did in Egypt and Tunisia: convey authority to an elected body that can claim the mantle of popular will. But Iraq remains a counterpoint. There, elections after the American invasion widened divisions so dangerously that they helped unleash a civil war.

A sense of entropy lingers here. Some state employees have gone without salaries for a year, and Mr. Shamis acknowledged that the government had no idea how to channel enough money into the economy so that it would be felt in the streets. Tripoli residents complain about a lack of transparency in government decisions. Ministries still seem paralyzed by the tendency, instilled during the dictatorship, to defer every decision to the top.

“They’re sitting on their chairs, they’re drinking coffee and they’re drafting projects that stay in the realm of their imagination,” said Israa Ahwass, a 20-year-old pharmacy student at Tripoli University, which was guarded by a knot of militiamen.

“How can you change people overnight?” interrupted her friend, Naima Mohammed, who is also studying pharmacy. “It’s been 42 years of ignorance.”

“They’re not doing a single thing,” Ms. Ahwass replied.

Like Tunisia to the west and Egypt to the east, Libya is confronting a diversity Colonel Qaddafi denied so strenuously that he tried to convince the minority Berbers that they were, in fact, Arabs. The revolution has its variation on this theme, appeals that mirror the fears of social fracturing. “No to discord” and “No to tribalism,” declare slogans that adorn the streets.

They all hint at the truth that the Libyan author Hisham Matar evoked in his first novel, “In the Country of Men,” when he wrote, “Nationalism is as thin as a thread, perhaps that’s why many feel that it needs to be anxiously guarded.” Authority here peels like an onion, imposed by militias bearing the stamp of towns elsewhere in the west, neighborhoods in the capital, even its streets.

“Where is the rule of law?” asked Ashraf al-Kiki, a vendor who had gone to a police station, the Tripoli Military Council and a militia from Zintan in pursuit of compensation after militiamen shot holes in his car. The scent of the kebab he grilled wafted over speakers playing the national anthem. “This is the rule of force, not the rule of law.”

The force at the Tripoli airport is the powerful militia from Zintan, a mountain town south of the capital, which played a role in Tripoli’s fall and still holds prisoner Colonel Qaddafi’s most prominent son, Seif al-Islam. By its count, it has 1,000 men at the airport, and one of its commanders there, Abdel-Mawla Bilaid, a 50-year-old man in fatigues, parroted the cavalier pronouncements of the government he helped overthrow. “Everything’s going 100 percent right,” he declared.

Mr. Shamis, the prime minister’s adviser, acknowledged the government’s inability to do anything about the militia’s presence. “Let it be for now,” he said.

That was the sense of the commander, too. “There’s no reason for us to leave,” Mr. Bilaid said. “The Libyan people want us to stay here.”

The militias are proving to be the scourge of the revolution’s aftermath. Though they have dismantled most of their checkpoints in the capital, they remain a force, here and elsewhere. A Human Rights Watch researcher estimated there are 250 separate militias in the coastal city of Misurata, the scene of perhaps the fiercest battle of the revolution. In recent months those militias have become the most loathed in the country.

Residents say some of the fighters have sought to preserve law and order in the midst of government helplessness. Militias from Benghazi and Zintan are trying to protect a refugee camp of 1,500 people driven from their homes in Tawergha by fighters from Misurata, who bitterly blamed them for aiding Colonel Qaddafi’s assault on their town. Since the Tawerghans arrived in the camp, which once housed Turkish construction workers in Tripoli, Misurata militiamen have staged raids five or six times there despite the presence of the other militias, detaining dozens, many of them still in custody.

“Nobody holds back the Misuratans,” said Jumaa Ageela, an elder there.

Bashir Brebesh said the same was true for the militias in Tripoli. On Jan. 19, his 62-year-old father, Omar, a former Libyan diplomat in Paris, was called in for questioning by militiamen from Zintan. The next day, the family found his body at a hospital in Zintan. His nose was broken, as were his ribs. The nails had been pulled from his toes, they said. His skull was fractured, and his body bore signs of burns from cigarettes.

The militia told the family that the men responsible had been arrested, an assurance Mr. Brebesh said offered little consolation. “We feel we are alone,” he said.

“They’re putting themselves as the policeman, as the judge and as the executioner,” said Mr. Brebesh, 32, a neurology resident in Canada, who came home after learning of his father’s death. He inhaled deeply. “Did they not have enough dignity to just shoot him in the head?” he asked. “It’s so monstrous. Did they enjoy hearing him scream?”

The government has acknowledged the torture and detentions, but it admits that the police and Justice Ministry are not up to the task of stopping them. On Tuesday, it sent out a text message on cellphones, pleading for the militias to stop.

“People are turning up dead in detention at an alarming rate,” said Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, who was compiling evidence in Libya last month. “If this was happening under any Arab dictatorship, there would be an outcry.”

At the seaside base this week, the looting ended before midnight. Not much was left at the compound, which once belonged to Colonel Qaddafi’s son Saadi — a red beret, a car battery, a rusted ammunition case and an empty bottle of Tunisian wine.

But as on most nights, militias returned to contest other spots in the city, demarcating their turf. Like a winter squall, their shooting thundered over the Mediterranean seafront into the early hours. In the dark, no one could read the slogans in Quds Square. “Because the price was the blood of our children, let’s unify, let’s show tolerance and let’s live together,” one read. In the dark, no one knew who was firing.

“What’s wrong with them?” asked Mahmoud Mgairish. He stood near the square the next morning, as a soft sun seemed to wash the streets. “I don’t know where this country is heading,” he went on. “I swear to God, this will never get untangled.”