pompeo berri beirut
© JIM YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri (R) in Beirut on March 22, 2019
The visit of the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Lebanon went over badly among supporters of Hezbollah, mainly in the Christian and Shiite communities, and was welcomed by their political opponents. Concluding his visit to the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, Pompeo used the words "Hezbollah" 22 times and "Iran" 13 times in an eight minute speech. After one introductory minute the remaining seven minutes were devoted to Hezbollah and Iran. Would the US Secretary of State have had anything to say at all if not for Hezbollah? The entire visit would have been meaningless.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah will respond publicly on Tuesday the 26that 17:00 local time. Nasrallah will respond both to Pompeo's speech and to President Donald Trump's "gift" to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Syria's Golan Heights, occupied since 1967 by Israel. Hezbollah considers the behaviour and statements of the US guest "arrogant and inaccurate". The group was pleased with the conduct of Lebanese officials, notably President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berry and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil (all Hezbollah's allies), who met Pompeo during his visit to the country last week.

What could Sayyed Nasrallah say?

Well-informed sources said the entire Pompeo speech was misleading and confused. Pompeo misrepresented the real objectives of the US in Lebanon when he professed the desire "to see Lebanon prosper and in peace".

"Mr Pompeo said the US wished peace and prosperity to Lebanon and a better future: yet it is US blind and unlimited support to Israel throughout the years that has caused so much death and destruction to Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Israeli bombs are made in the US and every single Israeli aggression against Lebanon for decades has had the full blessing of the US administration: its first and utmost concern was for refuelling Tel Aviv with guided bombs when these were lacking during Israel's wars. Moreover, the US never allowed the Lebanese Army to become better equipped to stop daily Israeli violations of Lebanon's sovereignty. Where was the US when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982? Was the US involved in Israel's withdrawal or in the sacrifices of the Lebanese population that forced the Israeli occupation out in the year 2000? When Israel bombed the UN HQ in Cana (south Lebanon) in two different wars, what did the US do to condemn Israeli crimes or stop its aggression?", said the source.

Pompeo accused Hezbollah of intimidating voters during the latest Lebanese Parliamentary elections. The source answered that "Hezbollah gathered 63% of the entire Shia votes and the second main Shia AMAL movement 27% -many Hezbollah supporters were asked to vote for Amal candidates during the elections to make sure these went through. Is this intimidating the voters? The US is voluntarily spreading lies."

Pompeo accused Hezbollah of spreading destruction and contributing to the lack of stability in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. According to the source, "Hezbollah fought side by side with the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah, not the US, was present in the military operations room to eliminate ISIS and al-Qaeda from Lebanese villages and borders. The US administration refused on more than one occasion to permit the Lebanese Army to target the Emir of al-Qaeda in Arsal - who is today in Idlib - and applied pressure to halt the removal of ISIS and al-Qaeda from Lebanon. The presence of Hezbollah in Syria has protected not only the Shia but above all the Christians. Lebanese, as well as Syrian Christians, have been threatened by US actions; Lebanon's Christians were even advised to leave the country by the French president and the pope. Hezbollah has also protected the Druse in Lebanon, and we saw what ISIS and al-Qaeda did to the Druse in Syria. It has protected the Sunni because those adhering to ISIS Takfiri ideology are only a small minority in the country; the Sunni majority would have been persecuted like all the other non-Takfiri forces in Lebanon. In Iraq, Hezbollah fought alongside and trained the Iraqi Security Forces in response to the official request of the Iraqi Prime Minister - with the objective of eliminating ISIS: whereas the US establishment - according to US General Mike Flynn - allowed it to grow and cross into Syria".

On Yemen, the source said that "the US, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and other European and western allies have created the worst human catastrophe of all times bombing and starving the poorest country in the Middle East. After failing to vanquish Yemen, they turn around and blame Hezbollah for the war"?

The source described Pompeo as "arrogant, notably in the presence of Lebanese officials".

"The US Marines who arrived in Lebanon in 1983 were not serving as peace-keeping forces, although that was supposed to be their mission. They directly participated in bombing parts of Lebanon, mainly mountain villages. They aligned themselves with pro-Israeli Lebanese phalangists at that time. This is common knowledge. At that time, Hezbollah had not yet been created but some Mujahedeen fought against US hegemony, and we salute them. The US would do well to remember that Lebanon is not a country they can play with as they wish. As far as the Hezbollah precision missiles received by Iran are concerned, these represent a strong card waved by the Lebanese government in the face of Israel to defend its maritime borders and to prevent Israel from invading Lebanon. These missiles given by Iran are the same missiles which stopped Israel from annexing Lebanon. The US would have ended up giving away the country as a gift to Israel. Trump has done just that with Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, both of which represent Hezbollah targeted objectives for liberation. Hezbollah forces are expected to be put under the command of President Assad to liberate the Golan 'as and when he sees fit'".

"Pompeo came to Lebanon as a representative of Israel and US policy. He sees Trump as sent by God to protect Israel, as he stated explicitly. He wants to put pressure on Syria to prevent its return to normality, and to stop the reconstruction and rebuilding of its armed forces when the refugees return home to reconstruct Syria. The US wants Syrian refugees to remain in Lebanon - what benefit is there for Lebanon in keeping Syrian refugees in the country, when they can return home (except for those from Idlib, where al-Qaeda is still operating)? Europe has over 500 million inhabitants, and its leaders and populations are vocally complaining about less than one and a half million Syrian refugees - the exact number Lebanon, a country of 4 million, is currently hosting", concluded the source.

On Iran, the source said that "Iran heavily contributed to rebuilding the cities destroyed by Israel and the US in 2006. It has offered the possibility for the people of the south to defend themselves and is willing to contribute to building Lebanese industry, medical care, electricity and all that an army needs to protect its air, sea and land if Lebanese officials agree. Iran helped Lebanon defeat the Takfiri forces by empowering Hezbollah to fight and defeat them, and it did the same in Syria and Iraq. If the US wants to make the same offer, to offer training and urban warfare weapons, and not invest in destabilising the country, Iran and Hezbollah would be delighted. However, Lebanon is not allowed to protect itself. Fortunately, we don't rely on the United States of America".

Pompeo appointed himself spokesman for Lebanon, telling Lebanese officials what is best for them. He criticised Hezbollah saying "the only thing Hezbollah managed is to bring back coffins of young men from Syria". Listeners were surprised to hear him profess concern for Lebanese youth and particularly those Shia "young men" who fought with Hezbollah against US-sponsored terrorists in Syria.

Finally, the source said that the US is clearly behind "the instability in the Middle East, giving Israel the Palestinian territories and 'protecting' them from any right of return. The US is not interested in peace in Palestine: the US President is interested in re-electing the corrupt Netanyahu so he can in turn support Trump in next year's US election. This is the true face of the US establishment, exemplified by its President. The Lebanese are not allowed to talk about their own national interests, and are not allowed to oppose those who helped butcher the country's youth by providing weapons to the al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorists. We badly need the US to leave us alone: alas I am afraid that this is neither likely nor possible".

Nasrallah will also certainly address Trump's decision to give the Syrian Golan Heights to the Israelis, a move defined as illegal by the international community, including the United Nations. Moreover, the launching of any missile from Gaza against Tel Aviv is significant and shows the harmony between the members of the "Axis of the Resistance" on various fronts. The occupied Golan was present in the minds of the Palestinians when they bombed Tel Aviv.
About the Author

Veteran War Zone Correspondent and Senior Political Risk Analyst with over 35 years' experience covering the Middle East and acquiring in-depth experience, robust contacts and political knowledge in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Specialised in terrorism and counter-terrorism, intelligence, political assessments, strategic planning and thorough insight in political networks in the region. Covered on the ground the Israeli invasion to Lebanon (1st war 1982), the Iraq-Iran war, the Lebanese civil war, the Gulf war (1991), the war in the former Yugoslavia (1992-1996), the US invasion to Iraq (2003 to date), the second war in Lebanon (2006), the war in Libya and Syria (2011 to date). Lived for many years in Lebanon, Bosnia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria.