Beirut- The air in Beirut is thick with anticipation. A speech, announced via social media, is set to be delivered on Friday by Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah. Specific details about the content or context of the speech remain shrouded in mystery, further fuelling the suspense.
Nasrallah’s speech is eagerly awaited, as many observers have warned that the Iran-aligned leader will only speak to announce a turning point in the conflict, wrote L’Orient Today.
After four weeks of silence, expectations are high. Nasrallah can’t afford to disappoint his audience on Friday, which will likely exceed his usual Lebanese followers by far, according to the L’Orient.
The right moment
Since the start of the al-Aqsa Flood Operation, Nasrallah has opted for an unusual communications strategy, to say the least. Instead of launching into his traditional inflammatory speeches, he chose a puzzling silence, which only began to break last week.
On Sunday, Hezbollah posted a 10-second social media video showing Nasrallah’s blurred silhouette walking past the party’s logo.
The ten second video clip, released on the day Israel began ground incursion into Gaza, went viral on the social media sparking speculations about next Hezbollah move.
“This has to do with psychological warfare,” reiterated those close to the party.
Nasrallah had earlier appeared in a photo alongside Hamas second in command Saleh Arouri and Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nakhale during a meeting in Beirut.
The sporadic “appearances” will culminate on Friday Nov. 3 when Nasrallah takes the stage nearly a month after the start of the war. Officially, his speech will be a tribute to the party’s fighters that died in recent clashes.
“He will speak in the run-up to Martyr’s Day,” celebrated Nov. 11 every year, said Kassem Kassir, an analyst reputed to be close to Hezbollah. “It also comes on the heels of the 106th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration [Nov. 2],” Kassir added. The Balfour Declaration is a letter signed in 1917 by UK Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour that pledged to work for the creation of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. This document is considered one of the founding texts of Israel.
According to another interpretation, Nasrallah, who has long praised the “unity of the resistance fronts,” was merely waiting for the right conditions to make a speech.
“He could not speak when Israel seemed to be in a position of strength, particularly because of the unlimited Western support Tel Aviv received after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack,” said Mohannad Haj Ali, an expert on Hezbollah at the Carnegie Middle East Centre in Beirut.
Since then, the situation has changed. “Today, on the one hand, Israel has been subjected to its limitations on the ground in Gaza. On the other, there is global outrage, including in the Western capitals, against Israeli war on Gaza.
“Nasrallah is probably not going to announce war. The speech is mainly aimed at boosting the resistance fighters’ morale,” said Faisal Abdel Sater, an observer close to Hezbollah.
Haj Ali believes Friday’s speech may not be a major turning point in the conflict. “In reality, it will be more an exercise in form than substance, with a real effort to put on a show.”
While even in Lebanon, Nasrallah’s speeches have been broadcast less and less since 2019, Friday’s speech will likely be followed not only by the majority of Lebanese people, but also throughout the Arab world, and by Western and Israeli leaders.
The speech by Nasrallah on November 3 is expected to shed light on Hezbollah’s stance and its future course of action. Analysts will be poring over every word, looking for clues and coded messages that offer insight into Hezbollah’s strategy and goals, according to Israel Ojoko of BNN network. “Whatever the content, the speech is bound to have far-reaching implications for the entire region,” he said.
“At a time when his popular base, as well as Lebanese and regional public opinion, is increasingly angry with Israel, Nasrallah will on Friday be the first Arab leader to directly address the Jewish state since Oct. 7,” wrote the L’Orient.
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