Vol. 10, No. 22 13 January 2011                        Countdown to a New Lebanon Crisis:                    Iran Sends a ...
   Iran is signaling to the Obama administration, and to the West as a whole, that the main       political developments ...
Iran had multiple interests at stake. In recent weeks, Saudi Arabia and Syria had beencoordinating to head off a new Leban...
Middle East. It will also reward Hizbullah, which remains one of the most dangerousinternational terrorist organizations t...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Lebanon crisis

468

Published on

Countdown to a New Lebanon Crisis: Iran Sends a Signal to Obama through Beirut

by Shimon Shapira - On January 12, 2011, just as Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House, the pro-Iranian Hizbullah forced a collapse of the Lebanese government. Ten of its ministers held a press conference announcing their decision in Beirut that was broadcast live on Lebanese television during the Obama-Hariri summit. The Hizbullah leadership was seeking to pre-empt the publication of the decision of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is expected to charge that senior Hizbullah members were involved in the 2005 assassination of Rafiq Hariri. The STL was formed as the result of a request by the Lebanese government to the UN in December 2005. The STL was then established pursuant to UN Security Council Resolutions 1664 and 1757; the latter resolution was adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which is generally reserved for acts of aggression.

The main motivation of Hizbullah was linked to Hariri's refusal to respond to its repeated demands to announce that the STL was illegitimate and its decisions do not obligate the Lebanese government. Hizbullah was not alone in making demands on the Lebanese government regarding the STL. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Kamenei, who rarely expresses his views on internal Lebanese affairs, nonetheless stated: "This tribunal is receiving orders from elsewhere and whatever ruling it hands down is null and void." Iran is signaling to the Obama administration, and to the West as a whole, that the main political developments in Lebanon are being decided today in Tehran and not in Washington. Failure to respond to this Iranian-sponsored provocation will only invite further adventurism on the part of the regime in Tehran elsewhere in the region, as it seeks to further establish its hegemony in the Middle East.

'Lebanese crisis spillover possible but unlikely' http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4013038,00.html
Irã faz protesto contra crítica de Dilma http://www.estadao.com.br/estadaodehoje/20110112/not_imp665033,0.php
Hizbullah to quit gov't if Hariri tribunal crisis not fixed http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id3232

Published in: News & Politics
0 Comments
1 Like
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
468
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
4
Comments
0
Likes
1
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Transcript of "Lebanon crisis"

  1. 1. Vol. 10, No. 22 13 January 2011 Countdown to a New Lebanon Crisis: Iran Sends a Signal to Obama through Beirut Shimon Shapira  On January 12, 2011, just as Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House, the pro-Iranian Hizbullah forced a collapse of the Lebanese government. Ten of its ministers held a press conference announcing their decision in Beirut that was broadcast live on Lebanese television during the Obama-Hariri summit.  The Hizbullah leadership was seeking to pre-empt the publication of the decision of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is expected to charge that senior Hizbullah members were involved in the 2005 assassination of Rafiq Hariri.  The STL was formed as the result of a request by the Lebanese government to the UN in December 2005. The STL was then established pursuant to UN Security Council Resolutions 1664 and 1757; the latter resolution was adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which is generally reserved for acts of aggression.  The main motivation of Hizbullah was linked to Hariris refusal to respond to its repeated demands to announce that the STL was illegitimate and its decisions do not obligate the Lebanese government. Hizbullah was not alone in making demands on the Lebanese government regarding the STL. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Kamenei, who rarely expresses his views on internal Lebanese affairs, nonetheless stated: "This tribunal is receiving orders from elsewhere and whatever ruling it hands down is null and void."
  2. 2.  Iran is signaling to the Obama administration, and to the West as a whole, that the main political developments in Lebanon are being decided today in Tehran and not in Washington. Failure to respond to this Iranian-sponsored provocation will only invite further adventurism on the part of the regime in Tehran elsewhere in the region, as it seeks to further establish its hegemony in the Middle East.On January 12, 2011, just as Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was meeting with PresidentBarack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House, the pro-Iranian Hizbullah forced a collapseof the Lebanese government. Ten of the Hizbullah-aligned ministers resigned, as well as oneother minister who joined them. The ministers held a press conference announcing theirdecision in Beirut that was broadcast live on Lebanese television during the Obama-Haririsummit. Hizbullah turned to Lebanons president, Michel Suleiman, demanding that heimmediately choose a new Sunni leader to replace Hariri, who will form a newgovernment. Suleiman subsequently asked Hariri to head a caretaker government.The Hizbullah leadership was seeking to pre-empt the publication of the decision of the SpecialTribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is expected to charge that senior Hizbullah members wereinvolved in the 2005 assassination of Rafiq Hariri, father of the current primeminister. International indictments would also be issued. The STL was formed as the result of arequest by the Lebanese government to the UN in December 2005. The STL was thenestablished pursuant to UN Security Council Resolutions 1664 and 1757; the latter resolutionwas adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which is generally reserved for acts ofaggression.Hizbullah chose to collapse the Lebanese government at that moment in order to portray PrimeMinister Saad Hariri as an American puppet. Yet the main motivation of Hizbullah was linked toHariris refusal to respond to its repeated demands to announce that the STL was illegitimateand that its decisions do not obligate the Lebanese government. Whether Hizbullah can forcethe Lebanese system to form a new government before the STL issues its conclusions isquestionable. At the very least, Hizbullahs action will forestall any further moves to support theSTL, since these would require a 2/3 majority of the 30-man Lebanese government, which canno longer be reached following the wave of resignations.Hizbullah was not alone in making demands on the Lebanese government regarding theSTL. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Kamenei, who rarely expresses his views oninternal Lebanese affairs, nonetheless stated during a meeting in Tehran with the Emir of Qatarin December 2010: "This tribunal is receiving orders from elsewhere and whatever ruling ithands down is null and void."1 In his view, the tribunal was being controlled by other powerswho were encroaching on Lebanon and undermining it. The Iranian ambassador to Lebanon,Ghazanfar Roknabadi, was explicit on this point during this past week: "U.S. intervention hasresulted in the failure of efforts to bring peace and stability to Lebanon." 2 2
  3. 3. Iran had multiple interests at stake. In recent weeks, Saudi Arabia and Syria had beencoordinating to head off a new Lebanese crisis. The two countries had reportedly taken theposition that the decisions of the STL should be made public. Iran firmly objected and preferredto see Syria take its position of complete rejection of the STL. Furthermore, it did not want tosee its main regional partner get drawn into Saudi Arabias orbit on this matter. Collapsing theLebanese government was one way for Iran to put the final nail in the coffin of the Saudi-Syrianinitiative.3There is a tendency in the West to underestimate the Iranian role in Hizbullah decision-making.But it should be remembered that Hizbullah was created in the offices of the Iranianambassador to Syria, Ali Akbar Mohtashemi in 1982. Deputy Secretary-General of Hizbullah,Sheikh Naim Qassem, admitted in 2007 that Hizbullah does not pursue its own policy but rathersubmits to the authority of the Iranian leadership, which instructs it even on military-operativeissues. This is based on the ideology of the Iranian Islamic regime, set forth by AyatollahKhomeini, whose key principle is the rule of the jurisprudent (vilayat al-faqih), the titlepresently used by Irans Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.4What are the implications of this new crisis in Lebanon as it begins to unfold? First, Iran issignaling to the Obama administration, and to the West as a whole, that the main politicaldevelopments in Lebanon are being decided today in Tehran and not in Washington. FromIrans viewpoint, Hariri can sit in the center of American power in the White House, but it isIran, though Hizbullah, that decides what is happening on the ground. Iran is testing U.S. powerand determination and Middle East states are closely following the outcome.There is a view that Iran feels it has more freedom of action in Lebanon today than it did in thepast: the Obama administration has not embraced the anti-Hizbullah March 14 movement tothe same extent as the Bush administration. Meanwhile, Iran’s other major ally in Lebanon,Syria, has restored much of the power and influence it lost a number of years ago when it wasforced to withdraw its troops from Lebanese territory.5Hizbullah has also produced a fragile situation that could easily get out of control. Underpresent conditions, even an unimportant incident could spark a major political firestorm in thestreets of Beirut that will bring about the complete collapse of Lebanons central government.The present situation Hizbullah has created marks the beginning of the countdown to a muchbigger crisis that will enable both Hizbullah and its Iranian sponsors to complete their takeoverof the Lebanese state.The U.S. and its Western allies, particularly France, have an opportunity to demonstrate theirresolve to block Iranian expansionism in the Middle East by taking back the reins of what istranspiring in Lebanon today. They can also serve the interests of international justice byensuring that the STL actually moves against the murderers of Hariri. But a failure to respond tothis Iranian-sponsored provocation will only invite further adventurism on the part of theregime in Tehran elsewhere in the region as it seeks to further establish its hegemony in the 3
  4. 4. Middle East. It will also reward Hizbullah, which remains one of the most dangerousinternational terrorist organizations targeting the West. * * * Notes1. “Khameini Gests Involved,” NowLebanon, December 21, 2010.2. “U.S. Intervention Has Undermined Lebanon’s Stability,” MNA, January 12, 2011.3. Jumana Al Tamini, “Saudi-Syria Mediation Efforts Fail,” GulfNews.com, January 13, 2011.4. “Hezbollah’s Policy of Terrorist Operations against Israel Requires Jurisprudent Permission of the IranianLeadership,” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & CommemorationCenter (IICC), April 29, 2007,http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/ malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hezbollah_e0407.htm.5. Nada Bakri,"Hezbollah Forces Collapse of Lebanese Government" New York Times, January 12, 2011,http://gulfnews.com/news/region/lebanon/saudi-syria-mediation-efforts-fail-1.745502. * * *Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira is a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center forPublic Affairs. This Jerusalem Issue Brief is available online at: http://www.jcpa.org Dore Gold, Publisher; Yaacov Amidror, ICA Chairman; Alan Baker, ICA Director; Mark Ami -El, Managing Editor. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (Registered Amuta), 13 Tel -Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel; Tel. 972-2- 561-9281, Fax. 972-2-561-9112, Email: jcpa@netvision.net.il. In U.S.A.: Center for Jewish Community Studies, 7 Church Lane, Suite 9, Baltimore, MD 21208; Tel. 410-653-7779; Fax 410-653-8889. Website: www.jcpa.org. © Copyright. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The Institute for Contemporary Affairs (ICA) is dedicated to providing a forum for Israeli policy discussion and debate. To subscribe to the Jerusalem Issue Brief list, please go to link: http://www.list-jcpa.org/brief-sub.html To unsubscribe from the Jerusalem Issue Brief list, go to link: http://www.list-jcpa.org/mail-brief/forms/optoutform.asp 4

×