Lebanon: As Syria retreats, Iran advances

Share:

By Amir Taheri

While President Bashar al-Assad is killing people to maintain power in Damascus, his regime may be losing the grip that Syria had built over Lebanon since the 1970s.

As Syria’s influence in Lebanon wanes, that of Iran, already significant, increases.

There are several reasons behind Syria’s declining power in Lebanon.

To start with, there is the perception, growing by the day, that Syria is so mired in domestic troubles that it would not be able to meddle in Lebanese affairs for some time.

Then there is the decline in Syria’s ability to be generous with its “allies” in Lebanon.

In fact, the regime in Damascus never had real friends in Lebanon. Those who befriended it did so either out of fear or greed.

The fear factor was established with over 100 political assassinations, including those of two Lebanese presidents, one prime minister, and dozens of parliamentarians.

The greed factor operated by giving pro-Syrian figures a share in racketeering activities orchestrated by Damascus in Lebanon.

Today, however, fear of Syria is less pungent than before while its racketeering activities are being taken over by the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah.

One sign of changing times is the increase in the number of prominent Lebanese calling on the Iranian embassy in Beirut. Bureaucrats in search of advancement, diplomats hoping for a juicy posting abroad, and businessmen looking for plum contracts know that getting a nod from Tehran could do the trick.

Iran, using Hezbollah and the Maronite bloc led by ex-General Michel Aoun as cover, has been moving its pawns at all levels of the Lebanese administration. The appointments of General Jean Kahwaji as Army Chief and of General Abbas Ibrahim as Chief of Intelligence, and of Ali Hassan Khalil as Health Minister all went ahead with Tehran’s approval as did that of Adnan Sayyid Hussein as [Lebanese] university president.

Pro-Iranian figures are also moving into key positions within the civil service.

This is of crucial importance as the service is preparing the country’s new electoral map. The idea is to do enough gerrymandering to ensure a clear majority for Hezbollah and its Aounite allies in the next parliament to be elected in 2012. Because the unicameral parliament chooses both the prime minister and the president, its control would enable Hezbollah to stage a constitutional coup and establish a pro-Iranian regime.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah claims that his group does not intend to establish an Iranian-style “Islamic” regime. However, he has publicly stated his allegiance to Iranian “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei as “our leader and master”. An egomaniac, Nasrallah might not realize that his Iranian masters regard him as little more than a pawn in their “global” power game. But even he knows that Tehran would not tolerate the slightest divergence from its strategy for regional hegemony.

In a recent speech in Tehran, Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hassan Firouzabadi spoke of Iran’s “advance military positions” in Lebanon. These include much of southern Lebanon, northern Bekaa valley, West Beirut and parts of Mount Lebanon especially Jubeil. It is no accident that both President Michel Suleiman and the Maronite Patriarch Bechara el-Rahi hail from Jubeil.

Iran is now busy linking those areas together with a parallel communications system ultimately controlled by General Firouzabadi in Tehran.

There are other signs of Iran’s heightening profile in Lebanon.

Last week, the Lebanese government banned an Iranian film because it was sympathetic to Iran’s anti-mullah opposition. Iran’s official news agency IRNA had no qualms about boasting that the film was banned “after intervention by the Iranian ambassador in Beirut.”

Then we had the announcement by President Suleiman that Lebanon had submitted a formal demand for Iran to train and arm the Lebanese army. Suleiman told IRNA that Lebanon “no longer counted on getting arms from the United States” and regarded Iran as “our strongest ally.”

Beirut and Tehran have also announced the abolition of visas. Before the current turmoil started, over a million Iranians visited Syria each year. Some of them added Lebanon to their itinerary. With Syria now regarded as a dangerous destination, Tehran claims that many Iranian tourists might turn to Lebanon as an alternative destination. However, not all Iranians are allowed to leave the country.

Since Hezbollah already controls the airport at Beirut, the abolition of visas could enable the Islamic Republic to send political, economic and military personnel to Lebanon in large numbers with greater ease.

All this does not mean that Syria is completely shut of Lebanon. Damascus still has some high profile allies including Prime Minister Najib Miqati, a wealthy contractor with business ties to the Assads. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a Shi’ite, is also a long-established Syrian ally and, deep down, an opponent of Iran’s rising power in Lebanon.

However, neither Miqati nor Berri could do much for their Syrian patrons when the Assad regime itself is challenged by a resilient popular uprising.

For the time being, therefore, Lebanon seems to be on the way to becoming a satellite of the Islamic Republic. The only caveat is that the Khomeinist regime in Tehran may be exposed to the same pressures that have shaken the Baathist regime in Damascus.

Alarabiya

Share:

Comments

38 responses to “Lebanon: As Syria retreats, Iran advances”

  1. Adam Yonatan Ben Yoel Avatar
    Adam Yonatan Ben Yoel

    What they should’ve done is to send NATO troops instead of UNIFIL and put them under Lebanese army control (during the last government).

  2. What they should’ve done is to send NATO troops instead of UNIFIL and put them under Lebanese army control (during the last government).

  3. What they should’ve done is to send NATO troops instead of UNIFIL and put them under Lebanese army control (during the last government).

  4. LEBANON101 Avatar
    LEBANON101

    ahhhhhhhhhh so we get to go from one evil regime right next door trying to control us . to an even bigger evil regime further away trying to control us. well isn’t Lebanon just the luckiest country on earth

    1. hassan hussain
      khara ala  tneyn
      same bastards trying to date and  rape the same girl.

    2. 5thDrawer Avatar

      Yah … “As Syria’s influence in Lebanon wanes, that of Iran, already significant, increases”
      And we can hear most citizens saying .. ‘Oh Crap’. 🙁

    3. MeYosemite Avatar
      MeYosemite

      Agree, that is sad. Perhaps the fate of Lebanon to be occupied again in the modern sense. I don’t recall seeing a Persian plaque on that famouns rock just south of Jounieh. Perhaps that’s what they are after.

      1. 5thDrawer Avatar

        Ah yes .. the ‘Valley Of The Conquerors’ … not so big but filled with history.
        MacArthur left one .. too bad he didn’t stick around.

        “However, neither Miqati nor Berri could do much…..”

    4. MeYosemite Avatar
      MeYosemite

      Agree, that is sad. Perhaps the fate of Lebanon to be occupied again in the modern sense. I don’t recall seeing a Persian plaque on that famouns rock just south of Jounieh. Perhaps that’s what they are after.

      1. 5thDrawer Avatar

        Ah yes .. the ‘Valley Of The Conquerors’ … not so big but filled with history.
        MacArthur left one .. too bad he didn’t stick around.

        “However, neither Miqati nor Berri could do much…..”

  5.  Avatar

    ahhhhhhhhhh so we get to go from one evil regime right next door trying to control us . to an even bigger evil regime further away trying to control us. well isn’t Lebanon just the luckiest country on earth

    1. hassan hussain
      kahra ala  tneyn
      same bastards trying to date and  rape the same girl.

    2.  Avatar

      Yah … “As Syria’s influence in Lebanon wanes, that of Iran, already significant, increases”
      And we can hear most citizens saying .. ‘Oh Crap’. 🙁

    3.  Avatar

      Agree, that is sad. Perhaps the fate of Lebanon to be occupied again in the modern sense. I don’t recall seeing a Persian plaque on that famouns rock just south of Jounieh. Perhaps that’s what they are after.

      1.  Avatar

        Ah yes .. the ‘Valley Of The Conquerors’ … not so big but filled with history.
        MacArthur left one .. too bad he didn’t stick around.

  6. FadiAbboud Avatar
    FadiAbboud

    Lebanon went from being the only Arabic speaking country in the middle east known for having freedoms and democracies to becoming the likes of a country which is notorious for being adamantly against freedoms and democracies…
    Surely this can’t be the end of the Lebanese people’s dream for a truly free and democratic country? 

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar

      Really … as in Syria … it’s up to the people.

      1. MeYosemite Avatar
        MeYosemite

        But somehow I am getting the impression that the people are not interested. But I know the way they fought back in in the war, they can take down not just one but a dozen or so of governments. Makes the Libyan amateurs.

        1. 5thDrawer Avatar

          People became so tired of constant war … when it was quiet, you could feel the relief and joy of living like a breath of fresh air .. then, although he may not have been Mr Perfect, Hariri was killed. The Cedar Forest made their feeling-points on that without guns. Getting rid of the Syrian army was another breath of fresh air – but obviously Lebanon did not get rid of Syria. And no-one understood about Iran.
            Everyone wants the quiet – and remains silent on it. Like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Almost a generation now without daily battles and mega-death. Almost got Beirut into feeling like a ‘modern’ city, and Tripoli tries. No-one wants war again – except the Megalomaniacs … and many simply left because of that. At some point we fear we may need to stand up again … but does it need to be with guns?

      2. MeYosemite Avatar
        MeYosemite

        But somehow I am getting the impression that the people are not interested. But I know the way they fought back in in the war, they can take down not just one but a dozen or so of governments. Makes the Libyan amateurs.

        1. 5thDrawer Avatar

          People became so tired of constant war … when it was quiet, you could feel the relief and joy of living like a breath of fresh air .. then, although he may not have been Mr Perfect, Hariri was killed. The Cedar Forest made their feeling-points on that without guns. Getting rid of the Syrian army was another breath of fresh air – but obviously Lebanon did not get rid of Syria. And no-one understood about Iran.
            Everyone wants the quiet – and remains silent on it. Like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Almost a generation now without daily battles and mega-death. Almost got Beirut into feeling like a ‘modern’ city, and Tripoli tries. No-one wants war again – except the Megalomaniacs … and many simply left because of that. At some point we fear we may need to stand up again … but does it need to be with guns?

  7.  Avatar

    Lebanon went from being the only Arabic speaking country in the middle east known for having freedoms and democracies to becoming the likes of a country which is notorious for being adamantly against freedoms and democracies…
    Surely this can’t be the end of the Lebanese people’s dream for a truly free and democratic country? 

    1.  Avatar

      Really … as in Syria … it’s up to the people.

      1.  Avatar

        But somehow I am getting the impression that the people are not interested. But I know the way they fought back in in the war, they can take down not just one but a dozen or so of governments. Makes the Libyan amateurs.

        1.  Avatar

          People became so tired of constant war … when it was quiet, you could feel the relief and joy of living like a breath of fresh air .. then, although he may not have been Mr Perfect, Hariri was killed. The Cedar Forest made their feeling-points on that without guns. Getting rid of the Syrian army was another breath of fresh air – but obviously Lebanon did not get rid of Syria. And no-one understood about Iran.
            Everyone wants the quiet – and remains silent on it. Like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Almost a generation now without daily battles and mega-death. Almost got Beirut into feeling like a ‘modern’ city, and Tripoli tries. No-one wants war again – except the Megalomaniacs … and many simply left because of that. At some point we fear we may need to stand up again … but does it need to be with guns?

    2.  Avatar

      Really … as in Syria … it’s up to the people.

  8. MeYosemite Avatar
    MeYosemite

    That’s right.
    While assad was on the US payroll, he ravaged malicously Lebanon as his prize for his obedience to the US, and behaved on the southern border but he double dipped and played both Iran and the US interests and avoided collision. Thus his hard ear. Assad lost his US sponsorship, Iran taking on Lebanon as it’s outpost cannot be undermined now as Frangieh is no double agent, his sponsor was assad, but now his obedience to Iran a Assad is weakened. There is a risk that the recent Iran threats to US will reflect on the south border of Lebanon, if not Lebanon in general over US assets.

  9. MeYosemite Avatar
    MeYosemite

    That’s right.
    While assad was on the US payroll, he ravaged malicously Lebanon as his prize for his obedience to the US, and behaved on the southern border but he double dipped and played both Iran and the US interests and avoided collision. Thus his hard ear. Assad lost his US sponsorship, Iran taking on Lebanon as it’s outpost cannot be undermined now as Frangieh is no double agent, his sponsor was assad, but now his obedience to Iran a Assad is weakened. There is a risk that the recent Iran threats to US will reflect on the south border of Lebanon, if not Lebanon in general over US assets.

  10.  Avatar

    That’s right.
    While assad was on the US payroll, he ravaged malicously Lebanon as his prize for his obedience to the US, and behaved on the southern border but he double dipped and played both Iran and the US interests and avoided collision. Thus his hard ear. Assad lost his US sponsorship, Iran taking on Lebanon as it’s outpost cannot be undermined now as Frangieh is no double agent, his sponsor was assad, but now his obedience to Iran a Assad is weakened. There is a risk that the recent Iran threats to US will reflect on the south border of Lebanon, if not Lebanon in general over US assets.

  11.  Avatar

    That’s right.
    While assad was on the US payroll, he ravaged malicously Lebanon as his prize for his obedience to the US, and behaved on the southern border but he double dipped and played both Iran and the US interests and avoided collision. Thus his hard ear. Assad lost his US sponsorship, Iran taking on Lebanon as it’s outpost cannot be undermined now as Frangieh is no double agent, his sponsor was assad, but now his obedience to Iran a Assad is weakened. There is a risk that the recent Iran threats to US will reflect on the south border of Lebanon, if not Lebanon in general over US assets.

  12.  Avatar

    That’s right.
    While assad was on the US payroll, he ravaged malicously Lebanon as his prize for his obedience to the US, and behaved on the southern border but he double dipped and played both Iran and the US interests and avoided collision. Thus his hard ear. Assad lost his US sponsorship, Iran taking on Lebanon as it’s outpost cannot be undermined now as Frangieh is no double agent, his sponsor was assad, but now his obedience to Iran a Assad is weakened. There is a risk that the recent Iran threats to US will reflect on the south border of Lebanon, if not Lebanon in general over US assets.

  13. 5thDrawer Avatar

    “Last week, the Lebanese government banned an Iranian film …”  Well, what did we expect after they took over the university? They even jailed people who had been in the film … or produced it. Why would they want you to see it??  Might have some truth in it.

  14. 5thDrawer Avatar

    “Last week, the Lebanese government banned an Iranian film …”  Well, what did we expect after they took over the university? They even jailed people who had been in the film … or produced it. Why would they want you to see it??  Might have some truth in it.

  15.  Avatar

    “Last week, the Lebanese government banned an Iranian film …”  Well, what did we expect after they took over the university? They even jailed people who had been in the film … or produced it. Why would they want you to see it??  Might have some truth in it.

  16. TripleC1000 Avatar
    TripleC1000

    5thDrawer your post make it seem that Lebanon still has a chance of becoming a true DEMOCRACY in the middle east, also I hope the guns won’t be needed but everyday it seems more and more likely that they will be needed. Good Luck and maybe …. Good Hunting.

  17.  Avatar

    5thDrawer your post make it seem that Lebanon still has a chance of becoming a true DEMOCRACY in the middle east, also I hope the guns won’t be needed but everyday it seems more and more likely that they will be needed. Good Luck and maybe …. Good Hunting.

  18. andre2011 Avatar

    No Retreats and  No Advances. Soon the Mad Dog of Syria will Join Kadafi in Hell. Iran and Jund Allah, as well as the insane General and all those around them will be going around in Lebanon as Dogs, Cats and Rats.

  19.  Avatar

    No Retreats and  No Advances. Soon the Mad Dog of Syria will Join Kadafi in Hell. Iran and Jund Allah, as well as the insane General and all those around them will be going around in Lebanon as Dogs, Cats and Rats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *