With Hizballah increasingly taking on a front-line role in defending Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is highlighting a video from the 1980s in which the group's leader envisions Lebanon as part of an Islamic Republic under Iranian leadership.
"Our plan, to which we, as faithful believers, have no alternative, is to establish an Islamic state under the rule of Islam," Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah says in the video. "Lebanon should not be an Islamic republic on its own, but rather, part of the Greater Islamic Republic, governed by the Master of Time [the Mahdi], and his rightful deputy, the Jurisprudent Ruler, Imam Khomeini."
Destroying Israel is the first step to implementing this plan, Nasrallah says. He indicates that Hizballah's actions are driven by Iran, saying the group is "connected, through a certain hierarchy, to the Jurisprudent Ruler and Leader, whose decisions are binding."
In more recent comments, Nasrallah defends Hizballah's fighting and killing Muslims in Syria, casting it as a critical part of the "resistance" against Israel. That resistance disintegrates if Assad falls, he says. Israel would then invade Lebanon "to impose its terms on the Lebanese people."
In a May 25 appearance on Hizballah's al-Manar television, Nasrallah said "tens of thousands of mujahideen will go to those fronts" in Syria if he gives the word.
"I say this loud and clear. We are not stupid. Only a stupid person would watch death, siege, and conspiracy closing in on him without lifting a finger," Nasrallah says. "Only a stupid person would do this. A reasonable, responsible person lives up to his obligations in full."
Since its inception, Hizballah has been Iran's main terrorist proxy, resulting in several Hizballah plots aimed at inflicting severe damage to Israeli and Western targets. Furthermore, Hizballah's increasing involvement in the Syrian civil war emphasizes the Iranian connection, as the group continues to fight for Bashar al-Assad's regime.
But that stand increasingly has the Syrian conflict spilling into Lebanon and is fanning the flames of sectarian violence. Syrian rebels fired 18 rockets and mortars at a Hizballah stronghold. Top Sunni cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi – the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and a Hamas supporter who advocates killing Israelis – called on Sunni Muslims to wage jihad in Syria, calling Hizballah the "party of Satan."
"Every Muslim trained to fight and capable of doing that [must] make himself available," Qaradawi told a rally Friday. "The leader of the party of the Satan comes to fight the Sunnis... Now we know what the Iranians want... They want continued massacres to kill Sunnis."