BEIRUT — The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement said Tuesday that US sanctions against Iran and his Iran-backed group will not have major effects on them and will not lead to regime change in Tehran.
In a televised address marking the 12th anniversary of the end of the 34-day Second Lebanon War with Israel in 2006, Hassan Nasrallah also boasted that his forces were stronger than the Israeli army and prepared for a fresh war with Israel.
Nasrallah claimed that the Trump administration was “mistaken” in thinking sanctions would lead to riots in Iran that would topple the regime, or even force Iran to reduce support for activity abroad.
Last week the US began restoring sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which President Donald Trump withdrew from in May. The administration says the renewed sanctions are meant to pressure Tehran to halt its support for international terrorism, its military activity in the Middle East and its ballistic missile programs.
“Iran has been facing sanctions since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979,” Nasrallah said. “He (Trump) is strengthening the sanctions but they have been there since 1979 and Iran stayed and will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the victory of its revolution.”
The Hezbollah leader spoke to thousands of supporters gathered at a rally south of Beirut, where they watched his speech on giant screens as it was broadcast from a secret location.
Iran has been backing Hezbollah financially and militarily since the terror group was established after Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
A number of protests have broken out against the Iranian regime for the country’s precarious economic situation, with demonstrators calling for an end to military adventurism and financial support for terror groups abroad.
According to the US, Iran sends Hezbollah an estimated $700 million a year.
Speaking about the restoration of the sanctions by Washington, Nasrallah said: “I can tell you and I have accurate information they are building dreams, strategies and projects that Iran will head toward chaos and the regime will fall. This is illusion, this is imagination and has nothing to do with reality.”
He added that Hezbollah is not scared of a possible war with Israel.
“No one should threaten us with war and no one should scare us by war,” he said, adding: “We are not scared or worried about war and we are ready for it and we will be victorious.”
“Hezbollah might not be the strongest army in the Middle East but it is certainly stronger than the Israeli army,” Nasrallah said, according to Lebanese news outlet Naharnet. “Because we have more faith in our cause and greater willingness to sacrifice.”
“The resistance in Lebanon — with its arms, personnel, expertise and capabilities — is stronger than ever,” Nasrallah said.
Most analysts believe Hezbollah has been significantly weakened by years of fighting in Syria to bolster President Bashar Assad. However, Israeli officials say the terror group still has a massive missile arsenal that can threaten much of the country, and that a war will be incredibly damaging to both sides of the Lebanese border.
Nasrallah said Israel would fail to force Hezbollah away from the Syrian Golan border, where Jerusalem fears it and other Iranian proxy groups will set up bases to use for attacks against the Jewish state, and has pushed for Russia to enforce a buffer zone.
“The Israeli enemy, which has been defeated in Syria, is insolently seeking to impose its conditions in Syria, but this will not happen,” he said.