Today Julian Assange unveiled his new show on RT (Russia Today) with a half-hour interview with Hezbollah leader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah. The interview covered a number of topics, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the situation in Syria. Nasrallah spoke from a secret location by video.
Assange opened the interview with a question about the future of Palestine, and Nasrallah replied that “the only solution is the establishment of one state, one state on the land of Palestine in which the Muslims and the Jews and the Christians live in peace in a democratic state.” This sounds quite different from what Nasrallah told the Washington Post in 2000:
I am against any reconciliation with Israel. I do not even recognize the presence of a state that is called “Israel.” I consider its presence both unjust and unlawful. That is why if Lebanon concludes a peace agreement with Israel and brings that accord to the Parliament our deputies will reject it; Hezbollah refuses any conciliation with Israel in principle.
Assange chose not to confront him with this or any similar statement. Instead he asked him about rockets fired into Israel and allowed Nasrallah to filibuster for two minutes about how this was justified. Eight minutes into the interview, Assange shifted gears to Syria. Here, Nasrallah’s talking points seemed to echo almost exactly those of the Russian government which funded (and presumably arranged) the interview:
In Syria everybody knows that Bashar al Assad’s regime has supported the resistance in Lebanon, the resistance in Palestine. It has not backed down in the face of Israeli and American pressure so it is a regime that has served the Palestinian cause very well.
What we’ve called for in Syria is dialogue and reform and for the reforms to be carried out because the alternative to that because of the diversity inside Syria, because of the sensitivity of the situations in Syria, the alternative is to push Syria into civil war and this is exactly what America and Israel want for Syria.
According to Nasrallah, the US and Israel conspired to create bloodshed in Syria. Compare that to the statement Russia’s foreign minister made in February:
Russia’s foreign minister on Wednesday blamed “external actors” for prolonging Syria’s agony, suggesting that the U.S. and its allies opposed negotiations to end the bloodshed there and were responsible for torpedoing a U.N. resolution aimed at calming the situation.
The Russian foreign minister is echoing those same comments again today. Apparently, it doesn’t occur to Assange to wonder why RT might be only too happy to fund an interview in which Nasrallah repeats the official Russian position on Syria. For a guy who bills himself as the world’s most independent journalist, this isn’t very smart.