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July 23, 2006

Iran's Hezbollah Has Plans To Run The Whole Middle East

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives

Amir Taheri says that Hezbollah, the group at the heart of the Lebanese conflict, is the spearhead of Iran's ambitions to be a superpower:

You are the sun of Islam, shining on the universe!" This is how Muhammad Khatami, the mullah who was president of Iran until last year, described Hezbollah last week. It would be no exaggeration to describe Hezbollah -- the Lebanese Shi'ite militia -- as Tehran's regional trump card. Each time Tehran has played it, it has won. As war rages between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Tehran policymakers think that this time, too, they can win.

"I invite the faithful to wait for good news," Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last Tuesday. "We shall soon witness the elimination of the Zionist stain of shame."

What are the links between Hezbollah and Iran? In 1982 Iran had almost no influence in Lebanon. The Lebanese Shi'ite bourgeoisie that had had close ties with Iran when it was ruled by the Shah was horrified by the advent of the clerics who created an Islamic republic.

Seeking a bridgehead in Lebanon, Iran asked its ambassador to Damascus, Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, a radical mullah, to create one. Mohtashamipour decided to open a branch in Lebanon of the Iranian Hezbollah (the party of God).

After many meetings in Lebanon Mohtashamipour succeeded: in its founding statement it committed itself to the "creation of an Islamic republic in Lebanon". To this end hundreds of Iranian mullahs, political "educators" and Islamic Revolutionary Guards were dispatched to Beirut.

Within two years several radical Shi'ite groups in Lebanon, including some with Marxist backgrounds, had united under the Hezbollah name and became the main force resisting the Israeli occupation of Lebanon after the expulsion of Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in 1983.

Terror has been its principal weapon.

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And you ask why has Tehran decided to play its Lebanese card now? According to Tahiri, part of the answer lies in Washington's decision last May to reverse its policy towards Iran by offering large concessions on its nuclear program. Tehran interpreted that as a sign of weakness. Ahmadinejad believes that his strategy to drive the "infidel" out of the Islamic heartland cannot succeed unless Arabs accept Iran's leadership. This should be a clear sign that our Kerryesque efforts at diplomacy and participation with the Euro-dhimmis in the futile effort to negotiate Iran's nuclear bomb development program out of existance isn't going to work. Iran will only understand strength - diplomacy hasn't, and will not, work with Islamists.

Posted by Richard at July 23, 2006 7:28 PM

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