Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Iran and the Recent Escalation on Israel's Borders (2): Reaction in Iran, Lebanon, and Syria
On July 13, 2006, the Iranian, Syrian, and Lebanese media published articles and statements on the emerging conflict between Israel and Hizbullah.

It is noteworthy that on May 4, 2006, Hizbullah founder and former secretary-general Sheikh Subhi Al-Tufeili told Al-Arabiya TV: "They [Hizbullah] are committed to the Iranian policy... I have said before that the Shi'ites in Lebanon serve as Iran's 'playing ground'... Hizbullah definitely fosters its relations with the Syrians, but its real leadership is 'the rule of the jurisprudent' - in other words, [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei." (See MEMRI TV Clip No. 1132, May 4, 2006).

The following are excerpts from the articles and statements in the Iranian, Syrian, and Lebanese media. [1] READ MORE

Iranian President Ahmadinejad Threatens Europe

Following the July 12, 2006 decision by the 5+1 (the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany) to return Iran's nuclear dossier to the Security Council, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened Europe, saying:

"If the Iranian nation and its government conclude that the Western countries do not have good will [in resolving Iran's nuclear issue], they will change their policy vis-à-vis the package of incentives [offered to Iran by the West in exchange for halting uranium enrichment]... No one can expect tense relations that have existed for a number of years to be resolved in a very short period of time... The exacerbation of the tensions in the [Middle East] region will be to the detriment of the Europeans. The Iranian nation and government are sufficiently strong and safe from any harm that [any] tensions can cause."

Ahmadinejad also warned Israel's supporters that "any help to the [Israeli] regime will make them partners in the crime of genocide and other illegal acts in the occupied territories, and to their Muslim citizens... The Zionist regime was created by repression and terror, and the continuation of its crimes will only hasten its downfall." [2]

Conservative Iranian Daily Kayhan: Nuclear Iran has Eradicated Israel's Nuclear Prestige

In a July 13, 2006 editorial, the conservative Iranian daily Kayhan, which is close to Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei, praised the Hizbullah operation and stated: [3] "[Prior to the Hizbullah operation,] the oppressing Israeli regime would appear with three cards in the Palestinian game: the card of America, the card of the [Arab] regimes in the region that are sympathetic to it, and the card of [its] nuclear superiority. With these three cards, [Israel] would come out the winner in every game, and vanquish its opponents [in the region].

"With today's perspective, [these three cards] have collapsed completely, because America's ability to impose Israel's will on the Palestinian, Lebanese, and Syrian side has come to naught. At this time, the Hamas government, the Lebanese government, and the Syrian government cannot permit America to enter into the Palestinian-Israeli equation. That is, the factors within the countries in the region that used to turn America's involvement into something influential have collapsed.

"On the other hand, Israel's military advantage in the region has eroded, and nuclear Iran is eradicating the nuclear prestige of Israel... Today's Iran has - by virtue of its impenetrable leadership and with top officials who are unanimous in their support of [Iran's Supreme] Leader [Ali Khamenei], and who are well-liked in the Middle East - have struck, time and again, at... Israel's force, and have brought it to the verge of collapse."

Syrian Government Daily Al-Thawra Calls to Continue in the Path of the Resistance That has Proven its Effectiveness

In a July 13, 2006 editorial, the Syrian government daily Al-Thawra called for the continuation of the path of the resistance, which, it said, is the only one that has been effective with the Israelis: "The language of intimidation and threat is nothing but the language of those who have not experienced the pride of the resistance. Likewise, it is language that will lead to nothing but submission, and thus we must persist in not listening to those who speak it. This is because no one can deny the right of the resistance to bring back the resistance fighters from the Israeli prisons...

"The [only] language that is effective with the Israelis is [the language] of the resistance!! No other path has been effective - on the contrary, [every other path] has only increased the Israeli arrogance, to the level that Israel has acted as if it lives alone in the world!!...

"The congratulations that the Arab citizens exchanged with each other [following the Hizbullah operation] are a kind of request [to implement] the program of the resistance, which began to develop more and more amongst the Arabs after they sensed the height of the power of the positive results of the resistance...

"Thus, the culture of the resistance is expected to spread further - because it has proven its effectiveness and its usefulness, and it is now the culture of the Arab street, which is always willing to pay the price of the resistance, however [high] it may be. Pay attention to what [Hizbullah Secretary-General] Hassan Nasrallah has said: [We are] ready and willing [to fight]." [4]

Two Lebanese Dailies: Was Hizbullah Operation in Service of Iran and Syria?

*Was Yesterday's Operation Aimed at Taking the International Pressure Regarding Nuclear Dossier Off Iran?

Also on July 13, Sarkis Na'um, columnist for the Christian Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, wrote: "The successful military operation carried out yesterday morning by the Islamic Resistance [i.e. Hizbullah]... raises many questions among the Lebanese: [For example,] was yesterday's operation aimed at liberating the Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails... [when] there are alternative ways to achieve this goal - [alternatives] which would spare Lebanon [all] the destruction, damage, invasions and fatalities?...

"Was yesterday's operation aimed at easing the considerable pressure being brought to bear by the international community, headed by the U.S., on the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding its nuclear dossier? [Was the operation meant to ease this pressure] by shifting the [world's] attention towards Lebanon and the region - which will enable Iran to get what it wants before giving the international community its response to the [West's] 'incentives package' - and will free it from the [threat that its nuclear dossier] will be referred to the Security Council?"

*Iran Can Use This Operation to Imply That it "Holds the Region by its Veins"

In a July 13, 2006 editorial, the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal criticized the Hizbullah attack on Israel: "Despite the universal joy felt by the Lebanese and Arabs over the success of the Hizbullah operation... the timing [of this operation] has distressed and is [still] distressing large sectors in Lebanon... What distresses them most is that the prerogative of taking a decision [in matters] of war and peace, which [belongs to] the State of Lebanon, has been usurped by the resistance [i.e. by Hizbullah]. Whatever circumstances and reasons [behind] the secrecy of Operation True Promise [Hizbullah's name for the attack; it promised to liberate all prisoners in Israeli jails], they do not change the fact that the State of Lebanon, and all the Lebanese [people], have been presented with a fait accompli for which they did not prepare, [and now] they must bear its consequences, which may be dire, when they never [even] had a part in shaping their own fate.

"Moreover, the great promise [made to] the Lebanese [by their government] - a quiet summer full of tourists that will give them the economic boost that they so desperately need and that is urgently [needed] by the [Lebanese] economy, which is on the verge of collapse - has given way to another, more important, promise, [namely, that of liberating the prisoners]. It is natural that now, when there is no chance of fulfilling [the promise of a peaceful summer], the Lebanese will return to their despair. The greatest danger is that helplessness and extremism will increase among them, and they will sink into frustration [that may] undermine the unity of Lebanese society...

"As legitimate as this operation may be, some Lebanese are entitled to question whether its timing was free [of external considerations], and to what extent it serves the overall Syrian-Iranian strategy.

"Iran, which is [currently] engaged in difficult negotiations with the West, and especially with Washington, regarding its nuclear dossier, can use this operation as one of the 'messages' that it aims daily at the West, and especially at Washington - thus implying that it holds the region by its veins and controls it by force. Syria... can [also] use this operation... to pressure Washington into concessions regarding the Lebanese [issue], and especially regarding the investigation into the murder of former [Lebanese] prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri..." [5]

[1] For Part 1 of this series, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1204, "Iran and the Recent Escalation on Israel's Borders," July 13, 2006,

[2] IRNA, July 13, 2006.

[3] Kayhan (Iran), July 13, 2006,

[4] Al-Thawra (Syria), July 13, 2006.

[5] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), July 13, 2006.