Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime “served the Palestinian cause very well,” in an interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange aired on Russia’s state-funded RT cable broadcaster on Tuesday.
When asked about Syria’s embattled leader, who is facing a year-long backlash from protesters demanding his downfall, Nasrallah said: “I have found Assad willing to engage in real reforms.”
“This is why Hezbollah supported the so-called Arab Spring in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and elsewhere, but when it came to Syria, Hezbollah urged the opposition to engage in dialogue with President Bashar al-Assad,” the RT website stated.
Hezbollah is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by Washington, with numerous other Western countries sharing that view, but Russia does not back the same position and has held direct talks with its leaders.
Nasrallah revealed that he had contacted the Syrian opposition to begin talks over reforms in Syria.
“This is the first time I say this – We contacted […] the opposition to encourage them and to facilitate the process of dialogue with the regime. But they rejected dialogue,” Nasrallah said.
“Right from the beginning we have had a regime that is willing to undergo reforms and prepared for dialogue. On the other side you have an opposition which is not prepared for dialogue and it is not prepared to accept reforms. All it wants is to bring down the regime. This is a problem.”
Asked about Hezbollah’s political motives, Nasrallah said: “[We] don’t want to kill anyone. We don’t want to treat anybody unjustly.”
Stressing that Hezbollah supports dialogue, Nasrallah pointed out that without it, “civil war is the only alternative.”
“This is exactly what America and Israel want … Arab states are ready for tens of years of dialogue with Israel but won’t have two months to try a political solution in Syria,” the Hezbollah chief added.
Nasrallah reiterated that one democratic Palestinian state is the “only solution” for him in the Israel-Palestine conflict and that other solution “wouldn’t be viable,” given that he continues to believe that Israel “is and will be an illegal state,” he said.
Nasrallah beamed in a friendly-toned interview which featured in the debut of Assange’s new “The World Tomorrow” talk show.
The Wikileaks founder remains under house arrest and was speaking from his study in London to Nasrallah − considered a “terrorist” by both the United States and Israel − at his Lebanese office via a computer video link.
The controversial founder of the whistle-blowing website admitted he was bound to face criticism for airing his show on an English-language channel that is funded by the Kremlin and openly promotes Moscow’s view on global affairs.
Assange said in remarks released by RT that he expected to be called an “enemy combatant, traitor (for) getting into bed with the Kremlin and interviewing terrible radicals from around the world.
“But I think it’s a pretty trivial kind of attack on character,” he said in comments released on the RT website.
“If they actually look at how the show is made: we make it, we have complete editorial control, we believe that all media organizations have an angle, all media organizations have an issue.”
The 12-episode weekly show is being produced by the Quick Roll Productions company that Assange set up after establishing fame with his site that leaked U.S. diplomatic dispatches.
Assange has been under house arrest for almost 500 days awaiting judgment from the Supreme Court in London on whether he can be extradited to Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault.