Dhaka, Bangladesh
An Iranian-Lebanese army?

An Iranian-Lebanese army?

By Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi

On my way to Beirut, I was lucky to sit beside a Lebanese Druze, who introduced himself as a Nationalist Arab. Our conversations took us to questions about why Gulf states were absent from the Lebanese political scene for so long, allowing Iran to take over, via its Hezbollah agent. This seems a question on the mind of most Lebanese (Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and Druzes), as I found out during my last couple of visits to Lebanon. They felt we have abandoned them, and wondered if Yemen, Syria and other burning issues distracted us away. Last week, Lebanese newspapers were discussing the Gulf foreign ministers' reservations over an Arab League resolution in support of Lebanon against Israeli threats. My friends were in state of shock and confusion over such stand. Maybe because the media failed to explain the reason, clearly stated by the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister, on behalf of GCC countries. It was, as I relayed, because of Lebanese President General Michael Aoun's support for armed Hezbollah, and their right to carry out military actions inside and outside the country in support of "the resistance axes" led by Iran. Worst of all was his declaration that the Hezbollah forces are stronger the Lebanese Army; they are protecting the country, and are part of the Lebanese military establishment. Let's now put these statements in the context of Iran and Hezbollah's threats to Israel and US interests in the region, using advanced missiles and armaments made in secret Iranian factories-in Lebanon! That is in addition to some 120,000 missiles already in storage hidden around the country. If that was not clear enough, the party's secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, has threaten to target the Israeli nuclear reactor in Dimona, as well as all Israeli cities in any future confrontation. The picture becomes clearer now-Iran is about to use Lebanon, once more, as the platform to respond to Trump's threats. It doesn't matter to them if the result is an Israeli retaliation that would destroy the whole country, as it almost did in the summer of 2006. Only this time, the Lebanese President gave them the legal cover. Since internationally-branded terrorist Hezbollah is part of the government and that its forces complete the army (according to Aoun), any attack on Israel becomes an act of war committed by the State of Lebanon, not just a lone terrorist militia. Any response, this time, will include the Lebanese army, security forces and government structure. When you partner with the devil you carry all its guilts and equally share its punishment! I told my Lebanese friends that the Persian empire has always used Arab soldiers on front lines in its imperial wars. Today, they are doing it again, using Lebanese, Iraqi, Yemenis and Syrian Shiite to do their dirty business in and from their own countries. If Iranians really have what they claim they muster-a formidable military, with ballistic and other sorts of missiles that could reach all US bases and vessels in the region, and burn Israel in 7 minutes-why don't they do it themselves? They have an army in Syria, along the Israeli borders, and the US fleet is few miles away from their shores, not to mention US bases in Iraq and Turkey, just across the border. Why on earth would they go all the way to Lebanon and Yemen to attack their enemies, using Arab agents? After the devastation Hezbollah brought on Lebanon by starting a war with Israel, in 2006, it was the Gulf nations who rebuilt the country and rehabilitated the army and security forces. It took us a decade to help Lebanon recover the great losses in tourism, investments and infrastructure. In contrast, Iran chose to rearm its agent party and support only its followers there. In a recent tour to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, President Aoun has called for resumption of support to his army and security forces. He claimed their independence from the Party and Iran. After announcing to the world the marriage between the army and the party, I wonder how he could convince the Gulf to change its position. I told my Arab "nationalists" you have a decision to make. You cannot be pure Arabists and Persian stooges, at the same time. You may not call for Arab independence, unity and solidarity, while giving in to Iranian hegemony. You cannot adapt the motto of "One Arab Nation, with an eternal message," in a foreign tongue, holding a foreign banner! Choose wisely, brothers and sisters! Your identity, present and future depend on your choice!

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