Friday, July 14, 2006

Iran & Hezbollah of Lebanon

Mehran Riazaty: Iran Analyst
Hezbollah was formed in1983; it places Islam above Arab nationalism and has demanded that Westerners leave Lebanon and that Christians there be tried for crimes against Muslims. Hezbollah has more than 5,000 members who are trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, and are concentrated in the southern part of Beirut and Bekaa Valley. Bekaa valley is located in the southern suburbs of Beirut, and southern Lebanon. The organization has no formal structure; its fluid membership includes such shadowy terrorist groups as the Islamic Jihad, the Revolutionary Justice Organization, and the Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Arab Revolutionary Cells. READ MORE

On September 19, 2003, Al Jazeera reporter asked Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani that what you think about Hezbollah in Lebanon. Rafsanjani said that we really like Hezbollah in Lebanon and they are one of our good friends. They are Shiite and we have same ideology. Therefore, there is no doubt that we are helping them, but they do everything independently and won’t get orders from us.

On November 28, 05- Baztab reported, the Secretary of Lebanon’s Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that the Ayatollah Khamenei’s ideology is a key to resolve the problems of the Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Nasrallah, by referring to his recent trip to Iran, said the advice of Ayatollah Khamenei which was “Until Israel’s threats exist, Hezbollah’s resistance will exist”, was a great guidance to us (Lebanon’s Hezbollah) and the Lebanon’s government.

Mecca, January 7, 06- IRIB News reported, the Supreme Leader's representative for Haj Affairs, Hojatoleslam Mohammad Mohammadi Reyshahri, said that the prestige achieved by the Lebanese Hezbollah has come as a result of Jihad, resistance and obedience to Imam Khomeini's calling and that of his rightful successor. Reyshahri made the remark at a meeting with the head of the Lebanese Hezbollah's representative office in Mecca, Sheikh Mohammad Yazbok.

Experts and analysts have estimated the Lebanese Hezbollah rocket force somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 missiles. The heart of this arsenal remains rooted in Hezbollah's massive stocks—perhaps 7,000 to 8,000—of 107mm and 122mm Katyusha rockets, virtually all of which were supplied directly from existing Iranian army stocks. Of far greater concern to Israel than these antiquated and relatively short-range projectiles are Hezbollah's growing stocks of Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets. Iran began large-scale delivery of the Fajr-3 in 2000 and the Fajr-5 in 2002, with the approval of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Iranian cargo and passenger jets transport the weaponry from Iran to Damascus International Airport where they can be off-loaded by Hezbollah agents and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The weapons are then trucked to the Bekaa Valley. Other reports suggest some Iranian cargo flights land at Beirut International Airport, providing Hezbollah with a more direct supply route although this process may have changed with the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon and the change in Lebanese government.

On November 28, 05- Aftab News reported, Mohammad-Ali Samadi, the spokesman for a government-orchestrated campaign to recruit suicide bombers said, Lebanon’s Hezbollah group learnt suicide operation tactics from Iran.

On July 6, 2006, Iranmania news agency reported that the Lebanese Tourism Ministry's Research Center said that some 60,888 Iranian tourists visited Lebanon in the first half of 2006. A press release, a copy of which was made available to IRNA, said that Iranian tourists topped the list of Asian nationals visiting Lebanon in the period. It said Philippine, with 12,391 tourists, followed Iran in the list. In April alone, 20,986 Iranians visited Lebanon.

On January 6, 2005, USADIran, Jordanian King Abdullah II accused Tehran in December of attempting to create a “Shiite Crescent from Iran to Syria and Lebanon in a bid to gain domination over the region.

On July 2, 06, SFGate reported, Christoper Albritton from Beirut reported that on the streets of Harat Hreik, a mainly Shiite suburb of Beirut, the signs of Iranian influence are everywhere. Posters of the late Ayatollah Khomeini adorn storefronts and lampposts. A huge Iranian flag with the names of Iranian soccer players stretches across a major intersection. Hezbollah run -- and Iran funded -- charities, hospitals, construction companies and schools provide services that the rural poor of the south and the Bekaa Valley depend on. Iran's activities in Lebanon are part of its larger plans for the region. By working through and with local Shiite communities, which are found in Bahrain, Iraq, eastern Saudi Arabia and stretching through Syria to Lebanon and Israel's northern frontier, Tehran is well on its way to creating a "Shiite Crescent" -- a regional axis that allows it to hold most of the cards in any confrontation with the United States or Israel.

Mehran Riazaty: a former Iran analyst for the Central Command of the Coalition Forces in Baghdad.