Iranian weapons in Lebanon

Arab League foreign ministers met on Sunday to look into a complaint which Saudi Arabia submitted against Iran for its interferences in its security through its militias in Lebanon and Yemen.

We, the Lebanese people, have a long history with Iran’s militias. It goes back to around two decades. Until 2000, Hezbollah operated under the cover of resisting Israeli occupation of Lebanese territories and cited the Lebanese army’s weakness and incapability to liberate them. However, the Israelis withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, except from the Shebaa Farms because they viewed it as Syrian territories.

Hezbollah held massive celebrations for liberating the land and forcing the Jews out of it! Since the Syrians still dominated Lebanon at the time, we thought they’d inform the UN that they recognize Lebanese sovereignty over the Shebaa Farms and the UN will thus ask Israel to withdraw from it. However, the Syrians refused and said Hezbollah’s arms and resistance are necessary to liberate the land which they own and whom Lebanese people reside in!

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Hezbollah’s use of its arms for other purposes, whether inside or outside Lebanon, eventually became clear, particularly after Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in February 2015. After Hariri was killed, Lebanese patriots focused on demanding the exit of the Syrian army from Lebanon. Syrian forces withdrew in April 2005 after nearly one million protested against them and also due to pressure by the Arab and international community.

The March 14 coalition, which was formed following Hariri’s death won in the parliamentary elections. Since the government sought to establish an international tribunal to investigate Hariri’s assassination, Hezbollah quickly made a move against Israel in July 2006. A war thus erupted for three weeks.

Those concerned about sovereignty and about Lebanon’s interests must be careful of the Iranian threat and its repercussions

Radwan al-Sayed

‘A divine victory’

After the war ended, Hezbollah thought it achieved a divine victory. It immediately besieged the government by withdrawing its Shiite ministers from it and staging sit-ins in front of the cabinet headquarters in Beirut. The protestors demanded the government’s resignation for conspiring against the resistance!

However they failed and in May 2008 they occupied Beirut by resorting to the power of their arms. Ever since, all governments which included their representatives obstructed work. The international tribunal was eventually approved by the UN Security Council and after investigating, it indicted five Hezbollah members of assassinating Hariri.

After March 14 won the elections again in 2009, Saad Hariri formed a new government and included Hezbollah representatives. Hezbollah, however, toppled the government less than a year later – in 2011 – and a Hezbollah-led cabinet was then formed.

During the next four years, assassinations returned. Wissam al-Hassan, an Internal Security Forces official, and Mohammed Chatah, a minister and a political advisor of Hariri, were killed. Hezbollah then focused on three main issues: sending thousands of its fighters to support Assad, seizing control of state institutions in Lebanon and keeping the presidential post vacant so its ally Michel Aoun is elected.

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In the end of 2016, Hariri chose to go for a settlement to elect Aoun as president in order to maintain the minimum of the state, as he put it. Hariri then formed a cabinet and during the first few months, we could all see the imbalance in national and foreign policies.

Nasrallah made loud speeches professing hostility against the Saudi kingdom and stating that his fighters’ presence in Yemen and countries other in Yemen is more important than fighting Israel. No one condemned these speeches.

Aoun even said once that he needs Hezbollah’s forces to confront Israel because the army is still weak. He also said that Hezbollah will keep its arms until the Middle East crisis ends!

The settlement, which was supposed to reflect balance, moderation and dissociation from harmful interferences in Lebanon’s security and Arab countries’ security did not achieve any of its aims. This has been clear for around six months now.

The opposite actually happened as for example a ballistic missile was fired against Riyadh and members of an Iranian-backed cell were arrested in Bahrain. This was the tenth time this happens in Bahrain. We have also seen this in Kuwait when members of the Abdali cell were arrested.

If things were right and national powers in Lebanon were okay, our government should be among those complaining against Iran and its organizations, especially that its main armed group launches its work from Lebanon to harm other Arab countries. When the Iranian president bragged about Iran’s influence in Arab countries, he did not only mention Mashreq countries but also mentioned Maghreb countries.

We are confronting an imminent threat by Iran and its militias that are deployed in Arab countries. Those concerned about sovereignty and about Lebanon’s interests must be careful of the Iranian threat and its repercussions. The Saudi statements regarding Iran are an invitation to all of us to be alert to deter this threat and combat it.

This article is also available in Arabic.
Radwan al Sayed is a Lebanese thinker and writer who attained a bachelor degree from the Faculty of Theology at al-Azhar University and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tübingen in Germany. He has been a scholar of Islamic studies for decades and is the former editor-in-chief of the quarterly al-Ijtihad magazine. Radwan is also the author of many books and has written for Arab dailies such as al-Ittihad, al-Hayat and ash-Sharq al-Awsat.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:55 - GMT 06:55
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