Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Gaza. Wherever there is discord in the Middle East, the unrest is invariably linked to the malign influence that the Islamic Republic of Iran seeks to exert over the region.
Ever since the 1979 revolution, the Iranian regime has been committed to exporting its revolutionary principles throughout the Muslim world. This has especially been the case in the Arab world where, despite the significant differences that exist between the Sunni and Shia Islamic traditions, and the fact that the overwhelming majority of Arabs are Sunnis, the ayatollahs have been desperate to spread their influence over their neighbours.
Over the course of the past four decades or so, the ayatollahs’ preferred means of doing this has been to ensure that their allies, whether they take the form of governments or terrorist organisations like Hamas and Hizbollah, are provided with a steady supply of arms, an undertaking that is usually entrusted to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the custodians of the Iranian regime.
This has resulted, for example, in Iran providing arms to the Palestinian Hamas movement in Gaza, even though the Hamas leadership is exclusively Sunni, for use against Israeli civilian neighbourhoods.
Yesterday, we were provided with fresh insights into the methods Iran uses to intimidate its Arab neighbours. The UN-sponsored trial into the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri found that a terrorist linked to the Iranian-backed Hizbollah militia was guilty of killing Mr Hariri, a Sunni Muslim who was killed by a massive car bomb in Beirut in February 2005, along with 21 others.
There was some disappointment in Lebanese government circles that the tribunal was not able to find any direct link between the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and the leadership of the Hizbollah militia in the assassination.
However, this is hardly surprising as the UN body was not given access to the internal intelligence records of either body.
But the fact that a senior Hizbollah terrorist has now been found guilty of killing a democratically-elected Lebanese politician confirms what most in Lebanon have thought all along: namely that the primary motive for Mr Hariri’s assassination was his opposition to the continued meddling of Iran and its Syrian ally in his country’s affairs.
The tribunal’s verdict, moreover, is unlikely to change the view of many Lebanese that Iran and Hizbollah have overstayed their welcome in Lebanon, especially as it appears that Hizbollah was responsible for administering Beirut port when it was destroyed by a massive explosion earlier this month. As Bahaa Hariri, the murdered prime minister’s eldest son. told me bluntly earlier this week, “Hizbollah has no place in Lebanon’s future”. He is now in the process of drafting a new constitution for the country that will help to create a “new nation that does not include militias and allows Lebanon to stand on its own feet, free from external influence.”
Whether Mr Hariri and other like-minded Lebanese succeed in ending the pernicious influence that Iran and its Hizbollah proxy exercise in the country’s affairs will depend on whether Tehran, which faces significant economic challenges of its own, can maintain its current level of military investment. It is a similar picture in other Arab countries, such as Iraq, which are tired of Iran’s meddling, with the country’s recently-elected prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, recently warning Tehran not to interfere in Iraq’s internal affairs.
The success of the growing wave of anti-Iranian sentiment in the Arab world, however, may well depend on the outcome of deliberations currently taking place at the United Nations about extending the wide-ranging arms embargo against Tehran, which is due to expire in October. The embargo was originally implemented in 2007 as part of a US-led initiative to curb Iran’s hostile actions, and it has had limited success in curbing Iran’s ability to ship arms.
The embargo was extended under UN Security Council resolution 2231 in 2015, which also recognised the terms of the controversial nuclear deal negotiated with Tehran that year. Since then the nuclear agreement has begun to unravel, firstly because of the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw, and more recently because Iran has resumed work on its uranium enrichment programme.
While, under the terms of the UN resolution, the nuclear deal is designated as a separate agreement, China and Russia, which back Tehran in its confrontation with Washington, have called for the arms embargo to be scrapped in October, a move that is bitterly resisted by Washington. The US argues that keeping the arms embargo in place is vital if Iran’s regional ambitions, especially its support for rogue regimes and terror groups, are to be curbed. It is certainly a campaign Britain and its allies in Europe would be well-advised to support if countries like Lebanon are to be spared the devastating consequences of Iran’s continued involvement in their affairs.
Source » telegraph