Beirut: The Beirut blast occurred the last week has turned everything upside down in Lebanon. Apart from losing the lives of 200 people, the Lebanon ministry is facing a huge crisis, as the complete responsibility of the disaster falls on the government. Amidst the crisis, Iran seems to have a nervousness in the Lebanon political crisis.
Iran’s current position in Arab
For nearly 40 years Tehran has invested heavily, both politically and financially, in the Mediterranean state as part of its commitment to exporting the principles of its 1979 Iranian Revolution.
As one of the few countries in the Arab world where Shiite Muslims form the majority of the population, Lebanon, and especially the Shiite heartlands in the south, has been ripe for exploitation by Iran, an opportunity that became even more inviting after large swathes of the region were laid waste by Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
But while Iran’s original claim, when it helped to create the Hezbollah militia in the early 80s, was to help Lebanon bring the Israeli occupation to an end, the organisation’s influence in the country’s political arena has grown immeasurably since then – to the extent that Hezbollah has become one of the country’s most influential power-brokers.
While Hezbollah is considered as a terrorist organization in the West, countries like Britain ended distinction between Hezbollah’s political and military sources. Hezbollah’s pre-eminent position in Lebanese politics is enshrined in the 2006 memorandum of understanding it signed with the country’s Christian head of state, President Michel Aoun.
Today, such is the power that Hezbollah exercises that hardly any decision of consequence is taken without referral to the organisation’s leadership. Moreover, no move made by Hezbollah is undertaken without prior consultation with Tehran, so that much of Lebanon has become little more than a client state of Iran.
This takeover is central to Tehran’s strategic goals. It provides the regime with an active front line in southern Lebanon in its long-standing confrontation with Israel, with its paramilitary militia organisation, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, making regular arms shipments to Hezbollah troops there.
How Beirut disaster turned things for Iran?
After the Beirut disaster, there are mounting concerns in Tehran that Iran’s long-standing ability to exercise its influence over Lebanon might be in doubt. This could stand in their way to their dream of becoming an undeniable power in the Middle East. Although the investigation into the devastating explosion is still ongoing, there is a growing recognition among Lebanese protesters that Hezbollah is ultimately responsible for the blast, because the militia has effectively assumed control of the port.
Hezbollah’s extreme sensitivity over any suggestion that it shares the blame for the tragedy can be seen in vociferous denials of wrongdoing that have emanated from the group’s leadership.
Meanwhile Hezbollah was seen spreading fake news over the region where it accused Britain of dispatching a Royal Navy aircraft carrier to the eastern Mediterranean in preparation for an invasion of Lebanon.
Hezbollah’s attempts to absolve itself of any blame for the explosion, though, are making little headway in Lebanon, where a number of prominent figures, such as Bahaa Hariri, eldest son of the country’s murdered former prime minister Rafik Hariri, is openly demanding the group’s removal from the political system.
The spectators expect some quintessential changes in the affairs by the next week when the special tribunal set up by the UN to try the four Hezbollah terrorists accused of assassinating Hariri in a car bomb attack in 2005 issues its judgement. If Hezbollah’s involvement in this issue is proved, then there won’t be any existence to this accused government in Lebanon. This would undermine Iran’s involvement in Lebanese politics.