Iran offers to arm Lebanese army on eve of Aoun’s visit to Saudi Arabia


Alaeddin Boroujerdi, Chairman for the Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security of the Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, Chairman for the Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security of the Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran.
The Chairman of Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said on Friday that the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to send military aid to the Lebanese army shall the Lebanese government authorize it.

“Iran’s permanent and firm stance is to stand by the brotherly Lebanese Republic of Lebanon, government and people. We therefore reiterate our firm will in the field of arming the Lebanese army,” said Boroujerdi after placing a wreath on the grave of slain Hezbollah official Imad Moghnieh and his son.

Boroujerdi added that the issue “has been seriously discussed with (former) Defense Minister Samir Moqbel during the latter’s visit to Iran.”

“The matter is at the Lebanese government’s disposal,” Boroujerdi concluded.

Boroujerdi’s offer comes on the eve of president Michel Aoun’s visit to Saudi Arabia where he intends to to push for the reactivation of the Saudi multi billion dollar grant to arm the Lebanese army.

A $3 billion dollar grant for the armament of the Lebanese army with French weapons was suspended last year by the kingdom in protest against the Lebanese government reaction to the burning of the Saudi embassy in Tehran and another Saudi consult in Iran.

Whether Aoun will be able to convince the Saudi’s to reactivate the grants is a huge challenge for the newly elected president and boils down to trust according to analysts, because he has been allied with Hezbollah for over 10 years and it is because of Hezbollah and Iran the Saudi’s canceled the grant.

Last February Saudi Arabia suspended the $3 billion grant for military supplies to the Lebanese army plus another $1 billion for supplies to the Lebanese security forces in response to the diplomatic stance by the Lebanese foreign ministry which was and continues to be headed by Aoun’s son-in-law Foreign minister Gebran Bassil.

Analysts are of the opinion that Saudi Arabia is concerned that Aoun, being a close ally of Hezbollah may allow the party to use some of the weapons in its war in nearby Syria where the militant group is helping the Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad against the Saudi backed rebels .

Hezbollah was created by Iran around 1982 and continues to be financially and politically backed by it. Iran remains Saudi Arabia’s regional rival , with whom relations have worsened this year.

Riyadh severed its diplomatic ties with Tehran last January after demonstrators stormed its embassy and a consulate and set them on fire following the Saudi execution of an Iranian backed Saudi Shiite cleric and activist.

This is not the first time Iran offers to arm to the Lebanese army.

The first time Iran made such offers was in 2010. But the negotiations that followed the offers were reportedly fruitless. Several Lebanese officials were involved in the negotiations including the Defense Minister . Many officials were suspicious about Iran’s intentions since it is the main supplier of arms and ammunition to Hezbollah.