Nasrallah Addresses Presidential Elections in Speeches

Nasrallah Addresses Presidential Elections in Speeches


Nasrallah Addresses Presidential Elections in Speeches

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah gave two speeches this week, during which he addressed the stalled Lebanese presidential elections. In his first speech, he lashed out at Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi and Free Patriotic Movement chief Gebran Bassil – despite a recent Hezbollah rapprochement with the former and longstanding alliance with the latter. During his speech, he accused al-Rahi of playing on sectarian feelings to expedite the election process. Nasrallah also reiterated that it is Hezbollah’s “natural right” to say that it does not want a president who would “stab the resistance in the back.” He, however, added that it is also “the natural right of any bloc to say that it does not want a president who is close to Hezbollah.”

In his second speech, Nasrallah called for the election of “a brave president who is willing to make sacrifices.” In line with that vision, Nasrallah said his party expects the next president not to “‘fly from the Baabda [Presidential] Palace to the Mediterranean Sea’ if the Americans ‘blow on him,’” Nasrallah added. Instead, he should “not care about the threats of the Americans.”  

UN Official Thanks Hezbollah for Briefing 

UN Special Rapporteur for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka expressed her gratitude to a Hezbollah official for a briefing on Lebanon’s main issues. On her Twitter account, Wronecka stated – in English and Arabic – “I thank Mr. Ammar Moussawi of Hizbullah for a tour d’horizon on issues of priority for #Lebanon, including the election of a new President, the functioning of state institutions and the impact of regional and international developments on the country.” Ammar al-Moussawi is the head of Hezbollah’s Foreign Relations unit.

Wronecka’s statement drew a rebuke from the Israelis, but also from certain Lebanese who oppose Hezbollah, in a rare moment of agreement.


U.S. Imposes Tighter Restrictions on Dollar Transactions 

According to a report on Thursday in the Wall Street Journal, the United States is now requiring Iraqi banks to submit dollar transfers on a new online platform with Iraq’s Central Bank, which are then reviewed by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This is an attempt to curtail the use of Iraq’s banking system to smuggle dollars to Tehran. This triggered complaints by senior Iraqi militia leader Hadi al-Amiri, who told the French ambassador that “everyone knows how the Americans use the currency as a weapon to starve people.”  

Iraq’s Prime Minister Endorses U.S. Troop Presence 

This week Iraq’s prime minister gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal, where he defended U.S. troop presence in Iraq and set no timetable for withdrawal. This was a significant comment, given his endorsement from the Coordination Framework, which is dominated by Iran-backed militias who have been pressing for a U.S. withdrawal. Separately, White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk visited Iraq this week to discuss security cooperation with senior Iraqi officials. McGurk was in Baghdad on the same day that the Commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, Esmail Ghaani, arrived in the city for his second visit since the formation of the new Iraqi government.  

Israel and the Palestinian Territories 

Two West Bank Palestinians Arrested Attempting to Carry out Terror Attack in Israel

Two Palestinians were arrested Thursday morning on suspicion of planning to carry out a terrorist attack in the central city of Netanya. Netanya Police officers, with assistance from special police and security forces, launched a manhunt after the Palestinians, who entered Israel illegally from the West Bank, after receiving intelligence indicating the two were planning an attack. Earlier on Thursday, the Palestinians reported that two Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops during a nighttime raid on the West Bank city of Jenin. 

According to the report, a large Israeli convoy of dozens of armored vehicles entered Jenin to arrest wanted terror suspects. Israeli security forces arrested Khaled abu Zina, a released security prisoner, and a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative, alongside his two sons and another wanted person, and seized large amounts of munitions. Abu Zina, 63, later denied the Palestinian report of his arrest and said that two of his sons, Awas and Hanni, were arrested.

During Thursday's operation, Palestinian gunmen opened fire and began hurling explosives at Israeli troops, who returned fire. Two Palestinians were reportedly killed in the ensuing shootout — Adham Jabarin, a former security prisoner and a senior member of PIJ's military wing Al-Quds Brigades, and Jawad Bawaqneh, a 57-year-old school teacher who was reportedly killed by IDF fire in his home.


Drone Attack on Al-Tanf 

U.S. Central Command announced on Friday that three drones targeted a U.S. base at Al-Tanf in Syria. No American troops were injured, but while two drones were shot down, the third drone hit the compound, injuring two members of the Syrian Free Army Forces. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its aligned militias have targeted U.S. troops at this site previously using drones. It comes after two rockets targeted coalition forces at the Mission Support Site Conoco on January 4.  

Iran’s Foreign Minister Visits Syria 

On Saturday, Iran’s foreign minister visited Syria. Both countries reportedly agreed to renew a strategic economic arrangement as plans are underway for Iran’s president to visit Damascus this year. But there are tensions in the bilateral relationship. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Iranian officials informed Syria that it would have to pay more for additional shipments of oil amid peak winter demand. This would double the price to a market rate of more than $70 per barrel. The Iranian system has also requested Damascus pay in advance for the oil and rejected new requests for deliveries on credit.