Defiance Against US Dollar War and Caesar Act Sanctions

by Hassan Nasrallah, published on Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies, June 16, 2020

Extract from the translation of a speech on June 16, 2020.   He is talking about the effects of the increasing US economic war on Lebanon (and also Syria).  This is interesting as it is an international reflection of the struggles of domestic resistance to the US racist hegemony over citizens of color and immigrants. [jb]

Regarding the economic and monetary issue, I want to discuss the collapse of the Lebanese Lira and its impact on various aspects of daily life. This a challenge. We can’t learn to live with it or adapt to it. We need to press the government to fix this problem or at least alleviate some of its impact.

Issue is lack of dollar supply. I’ve read that Americans are preventing transfer of dollars to Lebanon, and Americans are pressuring BDL not to inject dollars into Lebanese market.

This isn’t secret information, this is known and discussed in Lebanese media. The Americans say they are doing this because they claim that when the dollar is injected into the Lebanese market, Hezbollah and others are buying them up and sending them to Syria and Iran. For this reason, the Americans, the AMERICANS the US admin, Treasury, State Dept are preventing dollars from coming to Lebanon, and preventing BDL from dealing with this problem.

When you’re going out to protest, know the cause of the problem. What do these stores people are attacking have to do with this?

If Hezbollah is indeed transferring dollars to Syria and Iran, then let the security forces investigate the matter and show us proof. Hezbollah doesn’t take dollars out of Lebanon. Hezbollah brings dollars into Lebanon, and I won’t get into how we do this.

Dollars are being taken out of Lebanon, but not by us. A specific bank, which I won’t name, has been doing so.

$20 billion dollars have been smuggled abroad before 10/19 up to 02/20. But not by Hezbollah, and not to Syria and Iran.

Issue of dollars is a conspiracy against Lebanon. Go ask the bank in question if any of the dollars went to Syria or Iran, and how much. So there is someone trying to take dollars out of Lebanon to cause economic collapse in Lebanon. This is the truth.

We should know in this issue who is our enemy, so we can blame them, and know they are our slaughterer and executioner, this is the one humiliating our country, so we can know how to confront them properly.

So it’s not the issue of one money changer or another here or there. It’s a smokescreen to cover the real party responsible for preventing dollars from arriving in Lebanon.

Issue of dollar supply isn’t a matter of the liberal capitalist system or whatever, it is a national security issue and must be dealt with accordingly. We also must not be sucked into rumors like 7000 LL to $1, or claims that parties are trying to bring down the gov’t, etc.

If the dollar is the pressure point used against us, for even basic needs.. how do we reduce demand for the dollar?

We can’t confront America in America or around the world. But can we find a friendly regional country..Iran to sell Lebanese gov’t or companies oil, gas, fuel, petrochemical products, and other products without the dollar, with the lira..?   Not just Iran.

But first we have to convince the Lebanese people to accept this. Hezbollah hasn’t gone to the Iranians yet to ask them, and if there are any Iranians watching this they might be surprised.

In the past, when Mohammad Fneish was electricity minister, I went to Iran for two weeks to try to convince them to aid us, but things didn’t work out on the Lebanese end.

Maybe they won’t accept the Lebanese pound, but maybe we can find an interlocutor Iran or others , who would accept Lebanese products in exchange for the products we need..

This will stimulated Lebanese production, demand for dollar will be reduced, it won’t go away entirely and our national currency will go up. It will reduce American leverage over Lebanon.

I’m addressing the Lebanese people to tell them there are options, and to pressure Lebanese officials if they say “no” or if they are intimidated by American pressure. We will address this earnestly with Lebanese officials, to convince them to talk to Iran and other countries, I won’t name those countries so as not to put them on the spot.

I have confirmed information that Chinese companies are willing to inject money into this country. Like on light rail from Tripoli to Naqoura, which would improve economy in Lebanon.

I’m speaking to you, officially, Chinese companies are ready to help us.

If the Chinese are ready to help us, why are we waiting for the Americans?

I want to talk directly to the Lebanese people.. we can’t sit, wait for the Americans. The country can’t last like this. IMF negotiations could take a year or two.

Do we have that long? France, EU waiting for American permission on CEDRE. Can we wait for that? There is no such thing as the Lebanese interest in the American calculus. They don’t care for us. I’ll say more.. there’s no such thing as American interest in Lebanon, only Israeli interests. They don’t care if we live or die.

Look at how Americans treat their allies around the world. They humiliate and insult them. Look at the Europeans, Trump reduced US forces in Germany by 1/2 w/o even consulting their beloved allies. These are the Americans you’re betting on

Just go back and see videos of Americans throwing their Vietnamese tools out of helicopters in Vietnam. If they have a problem with us and our weapons, fine, let them punish us. Why are they punishing the Lebanese people? This is how the Americans operate.. if they have a problem w/a country’s regime, they punish the people: Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, etc.

What’s the humanitarian, legal, or religious justification for this?

If they think this is how they’ll turn the Resistance’s base against it, we’ll starve for years and not turn. If the think Lebanon will starve, we won’t, we’ll find alternatives. We won’t submit to them or the Israelis.

They’re trying to lead us to an equation where we surrender our arms in return for bread. We won’t accept this equation, and if it comes to this, we have our own equation – a more dangerous equation, and let them go analyze [what I mean.]

We’re surrounded by wolves, and they’re asking us to give up the only weapons that prevent us from these wolves.

Who will defend the Lebanese [without Hezbollah’s weapons?] Look at the Palestinians, who is protecting them? All the pressure on Israel isn’t stopping the annexation. Only our weapons will defend our sovereignty and land, and if they try to put us in a position of starving or giving up our weapons, or they’ll kill us.. I say we won’t starve, or give up our weapons, and we’ll kill them. We’ll kill them!

When I say turn eastward, I’m not saying close the door to America. America is an enemy, but if they’re going to help Lebanon, fine. Anyone but Israel.

I’ve gone over my time, so I won’t be able to address Iraq and Yemen, but I will address Caesar Act, because Lebanon and Syria will be affected by this.
Syria has emerged victorious against all previous American efforts, so Caesar Act is the last American weapon to defeat Syria.

So now they’re going to starve Syria. Is this out of love for the Syrian people?
I want to tell Syria, and everyone concerned with Syria, that Syria’s allies who did not abandon it during the past 10 yrs will not abandon Syria now as it confronts this economic war.

Syrian gov’t is working to deal with Caesar Act, and Syrian people must demonstrate solidarity in confronting this law. Syrian people must not let anyone fool them into thinking goal of Caesar Act is to change Assad regime.

Those who spent blood and treasure since 2011 to defend Syria will not spare any effort to protect Syria against this new economic war. Any Lebanese rejoicing over this must realize Caesar Act will impact them as well. Syria is Lebanon’s only land outlet to the east. Those who are trying to close the Lebanese door to Syria are implicitly trying to force Lebanon to open door to Israel.

Syria has also been inviting Lebanese companies to help in rebuilding their country. I’m not saying the Lebanese gov’t should confront America over this. I know this isn’t possible. What I’m saying is that we don’t submit to this American move.

Americans are trying to close all doors to Lebanon, to break, humiliate, and pressure us to submit. I wish to the Americans. To the Israelis, like they are with the rest of the Arab world. Don’t allow this.

We must deal with these challenges as if we’re in a war. We don’t need the Americans.

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah discussion of the economic pressures on Lebanon and Syria. Translation by Haidar Akarar, video here:

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