Even during the days of ultimate Syrian dominance over Lebanon, no Syrian official has ever dared to utter what some Iranian high-ranking personalities occasionally say.
The Syrian Army and its affiliated organizations for the liberation of Palestine stayed for some 35 years in and around Lebanon, and the Syrian regime justified this presence by claiming it was for the sake of supporting the Palestinian cause and defending the Palestinian revolution, or by boasting that it was to defend Lebanon against Israeli aggression and help preserve the Lebanese unity, sovereignty, and independence in the face of colonialist and Zionist projects of partition and division.
During these decades no Syrian official has ever emerged to say that Syria is controlling Lebanon to exploit it for its political interests, with the exception of Abdel Halim Khaddam who once threatened to annex Lebanon, never repeating that notion later. During the era of President Hafiz Al-Assad, the entire situation was governed by the motto ‘One People in Two Countries Intwined by One Path and Destiny,” until he died.
This former Syrian ‘political politeness’ was contrasted by an arrogant Iranian stance that can only be interpreted as a reflection of Tehran’s ambitions of expansion and engagement of people abroad and investment in them. Iranian officials express what they think of and do, and to them Lebanon is merely one of their political and sectarian projects and investments, as the case is with some other Arab countries.
A few years ago, the Iranians declared that they control the four Arab capitals of Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, and Sana. For seven and a half minutes they have also pledged to liberate Jerusalem and render it the fifth Arab capital under their domain, but they delayed that mission. Following the 2018 Lebanese elections they declared that they won with 74 MPs in the Parliament of Beirut. Recently, Ghulam Rashid, the leader of Khatam al-Anbya revealed that Iran has prepared six armies to defend it outside its borders, naming these armies in the following sequence: “Hezbollah, HAMAS, Islamic Jihad, the Syrian Army, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, and the Houthis.”
The Iranians were and are never ashamed of their deeds, still rejecting to call the Arab Gulf with its name, in a clear obligation to their occupation of the three Emirati islands there, and to their Persian nationalism. The peculiar thing, though, is that none of these six armies has felt obliged to explain itself or apologize to its compatriots. Meanwhile, Abdollahian’s visit to ‘his Lebanese capital’ might be a chance to inquire him on what Teheran’s intentions regarding this puppet state of hers will be like.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, Lebanese outlet Nida al-Watan.