Photo: AP
Naim Kassem (Archive photo)
Photo: AP
Photo: Reuters
Wreckage in Lebanon
Photo: Reuters

Hizbullah: We got USD 300 million

Deputy group leader admits in interview with al-Sharq al-Awsat his organization is receiving financial aid from Iran, other countries for rehabilitation, but stresses organization's plans remain independent

Hizbullah Deputy Secretary General Naim Kassem admitted that his organization was receiving financial aid from Iran.


In an interview with the London-based Arab-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat, Kassem said that his organization received about USD 300 million for rehabilitation purposes.


Kassem added that there was nothing wrong with it and that the funds were legitimate.


In addition, he said, "Everyone in Lebanon receives money from outside, but the question is which conditions come with this money. Hizbullah's decisions are not influenced by the Iranian economic support.

Nasrallah on televised speech (Photo: AP)


"Everyone in Lebanon receives external aid sometimes from associations and institutions, and sometimes even personal aid. But the thing is that this money, which the United States is paying or some other countries are paying Lebanon, is conditioned by certain commitments.


"Lebanon has already become known for the relation between political reform and economic aid. I am referring to political aid which matches the American interests.


"This is where the problem with the financial aid lies. Lebanon received financial aid from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and other countries. With this aid there is no problem as long as it is not conditioned by political cells," Kassem said.


He was asked where the Iranian funds reaching Hizbullah came from, and answered: "Iran announced an aid package for Lebanon's rehabilitation, including for building bridges, prayer places, schools and roads, and even submitted family pensions.


"Hizbullah has been working on a plan to house those whose homes were wrecked, which costs about USD 300 million, which we received through private and institutional donations, and some of the aid we received from Iranian associations and non-profit organizations.


"We will accept any unconditioned aid from any country. You must also know that there are several other Arab and Muslim countries which sent us budgeting because they believe in us."


Are you talking about financial aid? What about the Iranian political financing of Hizbullah?


Kassem responded: "Hizbullah is a Lebanese party. Its financing is not the problem. What is important is its political plan and how they can influence it. I believe that anyone who has fundamental political values in Lebanon, including those who blame us, receives political funding in different ways."


On Monday, the Lebanese daily an-Nahar estimated that the opposition's "mass rallies in Lebanon" may be launched Thursday, and that the coming days will be dedicated to last-minute attempts to mediate between the sides.


Kassem commented on the issue, but refused to stipulate a specific date for the demonstrations aimed at toppling Siniora's government, to whom he referred – like Nasrallah - as "the government of the American Ambassador Feltman."


Kassem dismissed talks about Thursday as the day when the protest will be launched, and said that any other day before or after is also a possibility. He reiterated that the demonstrations will not be violent and that they will not include takeovers of formal institutions.


פרסום ראשון: 11.21.06, 15:16
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