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'They Accept Us as We Are;' Christians Join Forces With Hezbollah to Fight ISIS in Lebanon

By Vincent Funaro

February 09/10, 2017 "
Information Clearing House" - "Christian Post " - The Iran-backed Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah, classified for many years by U.S. Intelligence as a terrorist organization, is training Christians to fight ISIS in Lebanon and the Middle Eastern believers say their new and unlikely allies "accept us as we are."

Citing Lebanese sources, Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin says Christian villages in the Bekaa Valley area of Lebanon are forming militias to join Hezbollah fighters already engaging ISIS and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nursa Front in the Syrian Qalamoun mountains opposite villages in central and eastern Bekaa.

Rifit Nasrallah, a Catholic businessman who is part of the militias fighting ISIS in Ras Baalbek, discussed the alliance with Hezbollah in an International Business Times report last month.

"We're in a very dangerous situation," he said. "The only people who are protecting us are the resistance of Hezbollah. The only one standing with the army is Hezbollah. Let's not hide it anymore."

Nasrallah said Hezbollah does not expect its allies to convert to Islam or create an allegiance to the group's ideals.

"They accept us as we are," he said. "They do not impose on us anything. When there's an occasion, they come to our children's birthdays. The people here accept that Hezbollah comes and helps."

This unlikely alliance between Christians and Hezbollah is a far cry from the adversarial relationship depicted between the two groups in the region.

According to the IB Times report, however, the alliance is one of convenience. Hezbollah is Iran's strongest proxy in that area of Lebanon and has been a key factor in keeping President Bashar Assad's regime in power after four years of the Syrian war. Protecting Ras Baalbek is a priority for the group because losing it to ISIS would put the surrounding Shiite towns under direct threat.

As a result, Hezbollah has invested heavily in sustaining the relationship with Christians. The group trained Christians in Syria to fight ISIS alongside them, according to a November report from Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar and even paid wages similar to Hezbollah members for Christians joining their ranks.

"We are not speaking of an assumed threat, we are speaking of a real aggression that exists every hour, every day, every night," said Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah in a recent speech. He explained that armed groups have launched continuous attacks inside Lebanese territories while also holding dozens of Lebanese soldiers and police officers hostage, "so we need a permanent solution."

Last fall, The Christian Post reported that GOP 2016 presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was booed after he offended some Middle Eastern Christians by declaring at an event in Washington, D.C. that "Christians have no greater ally than Israel."

Mark Tooley, president of the Institute of Religion and Democracy and an attendee at the evening event, later wrote in a blog entry that he was not surprised by the reaction.

"It's no secret that many Mideast Christians generally aren't big fans of Israel. I learned this firsthand during the 2006 Israel war on Hezbollah, when my discussion at church with a Lebanese Christian nearly escalated to a shouting match," wrote Tooley.

"Sometimes American Christians romanticize overseas persecuted Christians into disembodied noble souls unaffected by terrestrial concerns. But they, like everybody else, have histories, loyalties, resentments, grievances, and political calculations."

The Times of Israel reported in March that Iran and Hezbollah were removed from the list of terror threats against the U.S. as a result of its campaign against ISIS.

"We believe that this results from a combination of diplomatic interests (the United States' talks with Iran about a nuclear deal) with the idea that Iran could assist in the battle against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and maybe even in the battle against jihadist terrorism in other countries," the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center said in an analysis of the unclassified version of the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Communities released in February.

Another American body, the Defense Intelligence Agency, however, said both Iran and Hezbollah were still terrorism threats.

"Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and Lebanese Hezbollah are instruments of Iran's foreign policy and its ability to project power in Iraq, Syria, and beyond," noted the body in their assessment, submitted to the U.S. Senate on Feb. 26.

"Hezbollah continues to support the Syrian regime, pro-regime militants and Iraqi Shiite militants in Syria. Hezbollah trainers and advisors in Iraq assist Iranian and Iraqi Shiite militias fighting Sunni extremists there. Select Iraqi Shiite militant groups also warned of their willingness to fight U.S. forces returning to Iraq," it noted.

Contact: Vincent.funaro@christianpost.com; follow me on Twitter @vinfunaro

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

Hassan Nasrallah: The chaos in the Middle East won't save Israel



We hope that this kind of experience [of interfaith rapprochement] will spread to other Arab and Muslim countries.

Today, in these (troubled) times, we need more than ever Sheikh Abd-al-Nasser Jabri, his fellow men, his thought, his way, his soul, his sincerity, his brotherhood, because our Islamic world is currently facing a very dangerous phenomenon, namely extremism freed from any limit, whether in certain Sunni milieus or certain Shiite milieus.

When we consider the takfiri phenomenon and the takfiri movement, we see that even before the year 2000, before the 1990s, they already existed, but only in certain settings, in certain countries, in certain circles, and they did not assert themselves as they do now. The takfiris, whether on the ideological, media, political or field levels, now assert their unrestricted and unlimited positions and have pushed things to extremes. And this is very dangerous.

In the struggle against takfirism today, it is no longer just takfir (accusation of apostasy) that we face, but it goes as far as murder, massacres, slaughter, captivity, decapitations, profanation (of corpses), crucifixions, etc. Well, this is the most dangerous situation that the Islamic community can reach. And that's what we're living now.

Similarly, in some Shi'ite circles, unfortunately, certain currents that His Eminence Sayed Ali Khamenei characterizes as London Shi'ism or British Shiism, which also adopt the Takfir (accusation of apostasy), the accusation of treason, and insults against all sanctities and symbols, and not only against the sanctities and symbols of our Sunni brothers, but even against those of the Shiites – scholars, authorities, the most eminent symbols of science and virtue.

Today, when we see that all the means are provided to these two currents, the current of takfir, monstrosity, extremism, imprecations, insults, accusations of treason and such, cutthroat, murders... All the media are at their disposal. As for the TV channels of the Resistance, they are suppressed from Arabsat, Nilesat and European satellites. But the channels of sedition, like Al-Wisal, Safa, Fadak, etc., find open all the doors of the world.

What happens then, dear brothers and sisters, dear scholars, is not a coincidence, it is not due to negligence. But there are countries, intelligence services, offices that work day and night, and have discovered that the Islamic nation and the Muslim peoples have awakened, risen and taken clear positions in front of the arrogant American hegemony over Muslim countries and our region, and that it has taken a clear and decisive position, based also on the enthusiasm due to the Resistance victories against Israel, and they have concluded that this Islamic community must be pushed to fratricidal struggles, and that it was absolutely necessary to combat this popular awakening which is rumbling in the Arab countries, especially in the Arab countries and in all the Islamic countries in general, which we saw a few years ago, and the only way was to divert all these masses towards sedition and discord.

And what is better able to serve the arrogant Zionist project of division, strike and partition, to move the struggle from its true and just ground to other lands, if not the current of takfir and monstrosity?

Today, more than ever, we must assume our responsibility, as the late Sheikh Abd-al-Nasser [Jabri] did. On the one hand, we must isolate and besiege these people, face them, silence them, and on the other hand we must work towards greater convergence, rapprochement, mutual aid, fraternity, unity, co-integration, because the objective of these takfiris and extremists and their American and Zionist masters is that we disintegrate, that we move away from each other, that we all stay in our corner.

Our insistence on rapprochement, encounter, joint action and common frameworks in terms of knowledge, politics and Resistance is the best answer and challenge, and even the best accomplishment through which we can understand the failure of the adverse project.

The second point is that of Resistance. The position of His Eminence Sheikh Abd-al-Nasser [Jabri]. I will not (repeat)... I support and confirm everything the brothers said before me, because I have followed this commemoration from the beginning. His decisive position as regards the Resistance since the first days. He did not take a position towards the Resistance, he was part of the Resistance. He was one of its scholars, its fighters, its thinkers, its actors in the political, media, popular, social and field levels. But in all the difficult stages, when the Resistance needed to be defended, in its project, its thought, its logic, its legality, Sheikh Abd-al-Nasser [Jabri], like the rest of his brothers among the Muslim scholars, the Islamic Works Front, the various Islamic organizations, raised a high, strong and courageous voice, especially after the events of 2005 in Lebanon [assassination of Rafik Hariri, withdrawal of Syrian troops] and 2006 [War against Israel] and all the facts that followed. Until the last moments of his life, the Resistance in Lebanon and Palestine was one of his essential pillars in faith, deeds and sacrifices.

This Resistance is still threatened today, in its countries, its peoples, its societies, its armies, its movements of jihad (combatants). One of the most dangerous titles of the continued war against our region for years is the war against the Resistance and the Axis of the Resistance, and this is the truth that is revealed more day by day through the confessions of the American leaders, politicians and diplomats, generals, security officials, through irrefutable documents (published), testimonies, recordings...

The goal of everything that is happening in the region is now clear and obvious. Today, some are working to destroy the Arab armies in the interests of Israel and to overthrow the last resistant Arab regimes for the good of Israel so that the Israeli army becomes the strongest after the Resistance defeated it in Lebanon and Palestine, and after the Resistance humiliated it in Lebanon and Palestine, and after this army became a morally crushed army, in its confidence in itself, in the confidence of its officers in its soldiers and the confidence of its soldiers in its officers. (Faced with this), it is necessary to destroy the armies of the region so that only one powerful army remains, to restore its morale, its (radiant) horizons, its confidence – it is indeed the Israeli army.

Today, the reputation of the Resistance movements in Lebanon, Palestine and throughout the region is isolated, besieged and smeared. The reputation of anyone who supports and supports the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause is smeared. Those who support it with justice are killed, fought all over the world.

In Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, and the rest of the world, in Nigeria, whose population manifests by the hundreds of thousands during Al-Quds (Jerusalem) International Day, for Palestine and for Al-Quds. The Resistance is targeted today, and its defense is also the responsibility of all, just like the Sheikh Abd-al-Nasser (Jabri) did. And this targeting continues on all fronts.

Do not imagine that Israel is now abandoned and inactive, as the whole world is busy and exhausted, and that Israel is content to look, no. Israel is hunting down any consciousness that can dedicate itself to the Resistance, or that has the potential to develop a certain area of the Resistance, as it did through the assassination of the martyr Muhamad Zouari [Hamas engineer] in Tunisia, or as they did in the past for the martyr commander Hassan Laqqis [of Hezbollah], as they did for Iranian nuclear scientists, and Iraqi nuclear scientists. This Israel cannot endure to find, within our societies and peoples of our region, mentalities, wills, armies, Resistance movements, scientists, thoughts that can regroup, unite and allow us to compete with this Zionist project and this arrogant project.

Today ... and it is also a responsibility. We must defend the Resistance, the Axis of Resistance, the movements of the Resistance and the societies of the Resistance. The consciousness of His Eminence the Sheikh [Jabri], may God have mercy on him, his courageous and frank position in the defense of the Resistance constitute a glorious standard here and in the Hereafter for Sheikh Abd-al-Nasser Jabri.
We trust our people and our (Arab-Muslim) community. We have great confidence in them. Whatever the sufferings and tragedies, let me say this today, as we commemorate the disappearance of this fighter, believer and pious Sheikh: whatever the sufferings, this community will never abandon Palestine. Israeli calculations are vain and false calculations. In Palestine, their calculations have long been that the Palestinian people would abandon its cause, its Islamic and Christian holy places, and accept the crumbs offered by the Zionists, but the Palestinian people surprised the Israelis.

He surprised them in 1983 and 1984, surprised them with the Al-Aqsa Intifada (2000), and surprised them with armed resistance. And before that, he had long been fighting them from the Nakba (1948) and the Naksa (1967). And he also surprised them by the recent Intifada of Al-Quds (Jerusalem). And the Palestinian people surprises them with his extremely strong support, maximum support for the choice of the Resistance. Similarly in Lebanon, all their calculations in 1982 were disappointed, unsuccessful, and they recognize that their calculations were wrong.

And still today, they believe that the region that endures such a war, such sedition, such calamities and tragedy (they believe that) this region and its peoples, as well as their leaders and scholars, will come out in tatters, exhausted, and that there will be neither as the main of their preoccupations nor anywhere in their worries the name of Israel and the struggle against the Zionist project. They are lulled by illusions, I guarantee you.

The Axis of Resistance will emerge from this universal war against it victorious in all countries, God willing, as well as the peoples of this region. And the Resistance movements will emerge (reinforced) from this painful experience, so that the priority of the Axis, regimes, armies and peoples, parties, political forces, thoughts, media and feelings, Palestine will once again become a priority, the struggle against the Zionist project will again become a priority, and the liberation of Al-Quds will once again become a priority. If the Israelis hope that this universal war will bury beneath the dust of this land and this region all Resistance, fighters and men of honor, they are mistaken and deluded. This would contradict the divine paths (the global march of the world). This would contradict the course of history.

This would contradict [the attested Prophet’s saying that] “There are men of God who, when they want something, God wants it [and materializes it].” And in this region, all the Resistants are determined to persevere, to remain firm, a term that Sheikh Abd-al-Nasser Jabri liked, and to continue the struggle until the final victory.

This region will not hand over Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq or any other country. It will not hand them over neither to American hegemony nor to the Zionists.

Today, for example, as the Israeli enemy puts pressure on all terrain, we see the endurance of prisoners in Israeli prisons. They go on hunger and thirst strikes to the extreme. Or those unjustly killed in prisons, as happened yesterday with Sheikh As'ad al-Wali, a patriotic and resilient figure in the occupied Syrian Golan. For his funeral, a huge crowd of Golanians gathered to proclaim their [Syrian] identity, their position, their commitment, their rejection of this [Zionist] entity and submission to that entity.

Today, some regimes are surrendering. The government of Bahrain allows the worst Zionist organization to come to Bahrain (they say Israeli, non-Israeli, their identity is American but they are part of a Zionist organization in the broad sense), it allows the worst Zionist organization to come to Bahrain and to be welcomed, and the Israeli media are ecstatic. The Israeli media spoke of two things: the first, that this Zionist organization, with its religious garments, alongside Arabs dressed in traditional dresses, with their headdress and igal (scarf and hoop), all Arab clothes, danced together. And the other scene is that this organization has sung in the streets of Bahrain the song “The temple will be built on the ruins of the mosque” (al-Aqsa, 3rd holy place of Islam).

If the government of Bahrain has been on the path of normalization (with Israel) for a long time, the people of Bahrain and the scholars of Bahrain, subjected to whipping by the regime, thrown into prison, whose men and women were killed, tortured, and also abandoned from the Arab and Muslim world, have never forgotten Palestine, neither the Palestinian cause, nor the fact that the primordial struggle is against the Israeli enemy. This is why, while the entire world is silent about the normalization of Bahrain, and only a few Palestinian movements condemn it, the Bahraini people and scholars of Bahrain go out into the street to denounce and refuse this.

This means that, whatever our sufferings may be, they will never make us forget Palestine or the Palestinian cause.

In Yemen, siege, hunger, bombing, death, thousands of children dying of hunger and disease, but the Yemeni people burns for Palestine and manifested for Palestine in Sana'a under bombardment.

What does all this mean? This means that the good is strong in this community.

And this is why I say in conclusion this point: I tell the Zionists not to count (on current events). The future, in this region, is for the Resistance, for the Axis of the Resistance and for the project of the Resistance. It is not a simple rhetorical discourse. It is a phrase that translates into blood, endurance, perseverance, physical sacrifice, in more than one country and on more than one terrain.

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