Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Iranian Regime Backs Hezbollah and Hamas

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Iran commits to paving for Russian weapons supplied to the Lebanese Army in return for the Lebanese government's authorization for Hezbollah's continued armament on 2nd of December 2009 the Lebanese government ratified its guidelines. One of its key guidelines deals with Hezbollah. According to this guideline, Resistance (Hezbollah) has a key role together with the Lebanese Army for protecting Lebanon. This implies that Hezbollah has received the government authorization to continue to hold weapons, contrary to UN Security Council Resolution 1559. The ratification of this guideline is a clear victory for Iran, which has worked in the past years behind the scenes in Lebanon, in all echelons, while providing incentives for Lebanon to maintain Hezbollah's special status there. Iran views Hezbollah's weapons as a reserve for exporting the revolution, and it is not prepared to lose this card. It has been learned that Iran, headed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad, enticed Lebanese President Michel Sulayman, during his visit on 23 November last year (2008), with finance for large-scale Lebanese weapon deals with Russia, in return for Sulayman supporting maintaining Hezbollah's ongoing special status as a resistance organization protecting Lebanon, and for his recruiting supporters among the government and parliament. This proposal came up during one of the discussions between the parties in this visit, which dealt with Lebanon's domestic policy and the power relations between the various camps.

During the discussion, Sulayman proposed considering an idea he presented as a 'brainstorming idea', to integrate Hezbollah operatives in the Lebanese Army after the elections of the summer of 2009. He even suggested considering the integration of units, and not just individuals. Khamenei congratulated Suleiman for his part in the conciliation talks held between the various ethnic communities under Sulayman's personal mediation and sponsorship, and wished him and the Lebanese people peace and prosperity. However, he completely rejected the very idea, even as a brainstorming idea', and clarified that Hezbollah is working to protect Lebanon and the Lebanese people in full coordination with the Lebanese Army. He added that the common enemy of the Lebanese, in particular, and the Arabs in general is the Zionist regime, and preparations must be made accordingly due to concerns over possible Israeli aggression against Lebanon, as was the case in 2006. In any case, he promised Sulayman that Hezbollah weapons will directed only against the Zionist enemy and for the release of sacred lands, and will not be turned against any Lebanese.

Iran said that its promise to finance weapons deals for the Lebanese army relates to the agreement between Lebanon and Russia during the visit of Michail Demitriev, the Russian service's head for military-technical cooperation. With regard to the deals themselves, on 6 December 2009 Demitriev visited Lebanon to finalize the principles of the weapon deals between Russia and Lebanon. The deals include several naval radars, vessels and moderate and light weapons (such as mortars, Kalashnikov rifles and grenades). In addition, in 2009 Russia promised to supply Lebanon with about 10 MIG 29 combat aircraft and a Russian delegation even travelled to Lebanon recently (in the last quarter of 2009) in order to examine Lebanon's airports. According to the agreement with the Russians, the MIG's will be supplied after the airports are prepared for accommodating them. Iran Plans to Supply Weapons to the Lebanese Armv so that they will End up, with Hezbollah On 30 November 2009, during a speech and press conference held by Hezbollah General Secretary, Hassan Nasrollah, he commented on a question about arming the Lebanese military. Nasrollah answered that any effort to arm Lebanon's military is a positive effort.

He says Hezbollah does not oppose this, even if the US arms the Lebanese army, although he does not believe this will happen. He says this should not prevent investing efforts and mentioned that Iran could assist, Syria had assisted in the past and was prepared to continue assisting, and other Arab countries could also offer assistance. This is not the first time that Iran and Hezbollah's comments have been heard in the media concerning Iran arming the Lebanese military, and Nasrollah's ongoing lobbying on this issue is in fact designed to promote a covert program, formulated by the upper echelons of Iran's leadership, and of course welcomed by Nasrollah. These weapons are to be used by Hezbollah if it decides that the time has come for a greater show of force internally, or when the day comes and Hezbollah decides to take over Lebanon whether by political means or by force.

When presenting their program, Iran told Hezbollah that weapons supplied to Lebanon, as a country, would not arouse the international community's condemnation of Iranian support for Hezbollah terrorism as was the case when Iran transferred weapons directly to Hezbollah. Another advantage would be that these weapons would be available in the arena and in emergency, Hezbollah would be able to use them. Hezbollah for its part pointed to the advantage of the fact that some of the Shiite military personnel in Lebanon's Military would train, acquire skills and gain experience in using the Iranian weapons as part of their military service and in emergency, would desert from the military with their weapons and put themselves at Hezbollah's disposal. Hezbollah added that some of the Shiite military personnel in Lebanon's military had already been "recruited" by Hezbollah and others were at various stages of "recruitment." Hezbollah said that it had become the key element with which Shiites in Lebanon identified. Hence, at the critical hour, when each ethnic community pulled in its own direction, the Shiite military personnel would join Hezbollah's militia. This comment by Nasrollah was unusual after a year of silence on the topic.

During November to December last year (2008), many Iranian figures supported supplying weapons to Lebanon's military. There was an allusion to these weapons, which Hezbollah 'ordered' from Iran, in Hassan Nasrollah's 11 November 2008 speech, when he spoke at length about the importance of beefing up Lebanon's Military and equipping it with air defense systems and anti-tank weapons in face of the threat posed by Israel. Later, Lebanon's president, Michel Sulayman, also commented during his visit to Iran, on 24 to 25 November 2008, that Lebanon was not interested in aircraft and long-range missiles, but rather in medium advanced weapons. This statement was received with satisfaction by Iran's leadership. Since then, media discussion of the weapons to be supplied by Iran to Lebanon's military has not mentioned if or when this will be implemented. In practice, Iran and Hezbollah are known to have clear plans regarding the type of weapons required for Hezbollah, which, from its point of view, can be supplied to the Lebanese military.

The list proposed by Hezbollah to Iran, in November 2009, for the Lebanese military, included Toofan anti-tank missiles (an Iranian copy of the US TAW), QW1 antiaircraft missiles (manpads), and Nour coastal defense missiles (an Iranian copy of the Chinese C-802). These types of weapons are currently used by Hezbollah but are not in the possession of the Lebanese army. Tehran Deepening its Involvement in the Regional Arena — Pressuring Hamas to Take Over the PA Presidency Immediately after the 4-5 November 2009 visit to Iran by Syria's Foreign Minister Mualem and the assistant to the vice president, Liwa Muhammad Nasif, there was a three-way meeting in Damascus between Liwa Muhammad Nasif, senior Iranian officials, and senior Hamas officials. At the meeting, defined as strategic, the Iranian officials pressured the Hamas officials to step up their activity for Iranian interests on two levels:

In the internal Palestinian arena, the Iranians pressed their colleagues from Hamas to revive their plans to take over the PA presidency, whether or not there are elections.
Regionally, Iran asked Hamas to increase logistic support to Hezbollah and Iranian intelligence and Revolutionary Guard officers wherever there is a
Hezbollah presence, especially in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. The meeting was held in the office of Liwa Muhammad Nasif, who is in charge of special relations between Damascus and Tehran. Attending were head of Hamas's political bureau, Khaled Mash'al, his deputy, Musa Abu Marzuk, and Muhammad Reza Zahedi, commander of the IRGC Qods Force Lebanon corps, and Iran's ambassador to Damascus, Ahmad Moussavi.

The meeting was held at Iran's request, further to the talks in Tehran between the Iranians and Foreign Minister Mualem and Nasif, to discuss relations between Damascus, Tehran, and Hamas, in the light of the recent regional political developments, and especially on the background of the continuing control of the PA chairman, Mahmud Abbas, despite the fact that his term of office ended in January 2009, and on the background of increasing Iranian involvement in the region, with a view to establishing foci of influence in the region, especially in countries where Iran has identified a "no man's land", such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen, but also Jordan. The sources said that Iran's ambassador Ahmad Moussavi defined for Hamas the goals it was to achieve in the near future, first and foremost, taking over the PA presidency as a key step toward taking control of the West Bank, and foiling any chance of implementing an agreement, which might be signed between the PA and Israel.

The commander of the IRGC Qods force Lebanon corps, Mohammad Reza Zahedi, brought up the need for Hamas to enable logistic support for Hezbollah in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, so that Hezbollah could carry out covert activity there. The sources said that Mash'al did not reject the proposal, but made it conditional on Hamas's standing in these areas not being eroded. Only then would Hamas be able to provide support for Hezbollah, which would multiply the achievements of the resistance, especially given Hezbollah's experience and capabilities in planning and carrying out security and military operations around the world. Mash'al praised Zahedi for the increasing activity of the Revolutionary Guard in Yemen among the Houti rebels, and for enlisting Hezbollah in this struggle. Specifically regarding Yemen, Mash'al proposed logistic support for Hezbollah operatives and for Iranians under Arab cover, by providing them with Palestinian passports to make it easier for them to travel in the region. On behalf of Syria, Liwa Muhammad Nasif stressed their readiness, as always, to provide all possible support on the issue, and emphasized the need to unite efforts an concentrate on joint objectives. Nasif stressed that Damascus would continue to strongly back all the resistance movements, that no-one in the world would be able to undermine the strategic relations between Syria, Hezbollah, Iran, and Hamas. Liwa Nasif also said that the natural place for Hamas's leadership was Damascus.