Iran Ready to Help Lebanon Counter Terrorism
Iran is always willing to preserve and defend Lebanon’s unity and stability.
OE Watch Commentary: Fighting in Syria increasingly threatens Lebanon’s already strained stability in a way unseen since Lebanon’s 1975-1992 civil war. In recent months militants affiliated with both the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) have challenged the Lebanese army. It is against this backdrop that Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham announced Iranian willingness to assist the Lebanese government to preserve Lebanon’s internal unity.
While the Islamic Republic has through Hezbollah and related militias maintained significant, if not predominant influence in southern Lebanon and southern Beirut for three decades, Afkham’s statement, referred to in the excerpted article, provides diplomatic cover to Iranian attempts to take its power projection in Lebanon to new areas and to a new level. Already the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) appears to be expanding its area of operation inside Lebanon to the north of the country. For example, in 2012 Lebanon’s Minister of Water and Power Hassan Ghassil signed an agreement with his Iranian counterpart, Majid Namjoo, to enable a company affiliated with the IRGC’s economic wing to build a dam in northern Lebanon, providing Iran with an excuse for an enhanced presence in an area of Lebanon traditionally associated with Christians and Sunni Muslims. The January 2013 assassination of IRGC General Hassan Shateri in Syrian territory, just across the border from Lebanon, also shone light on other Iranian activities: in addition to helping to supply Iranian proxies with advanced weaponry, Shateri had set up front business in Lebanon to purchase land from Druze and Christians in order to transfer it to Hezbollah loyalists and thereby further Iranian influence. Iranian authorities did not announce his death for more than a month, and only then did the broad outline of his IRGC duties become known.
That Afkham suggests that Iran wants to preserve Lebanese security is risible, given Iranian intervention in Syria and Iraq under the same pretense has led more to the breakdown of order through the empowerment of and supply of weaponry to pro-Iranian sectarian militias than to peace. If Iran is ramping up its involvement in Lebanon to such an extent that the Iranian Foreign Ministry openly discusses intervention, then it reflects poorly on future stability in Lebanon and suggests that tension there might soon erupt into open violence. End Watch Commentary (Rubin)
Map showing Iran and Lebanon.
Source: “Afkham: Iran Amadeh Komak beh Lubnan dar Mobarazeh ba Terrorizm Ast” (“Afkham: Iran is Ready to Help Lebanon Combat Terrorism”), Tasnim News, 6 August 2014.
Iran is Ready to Help Lebanon Combat Terrorism
Afkham, in response to the foreign policy correspondent of Tasnim, declared that “Iran is ready to assist Lebanon in the fight against terrorism. In addition, our officials are in talks with their Lebanese counterparts and are ready to provide help for the situation. She added that if Lebanon is ready to accept, then we will always be willing to help them, and that Iran is always willing to preserve and defend Lebanon’s unity and stability.