Iran seeks to assist Lebanese military
TEHRANIran’s defense minister said yesterday it was Tehran’s strategic policy to strengthen the Lebanese army. The comments by Gen. Ahmad Vahidi to his visiting Lebanese counterpart, Fayez Ghosn, were also posted on the Iranian Defense Ministry’s website yesterday.
Iran is a key supporter of the Lebanese group Hezbollah. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also met with Lebanon’s defense minister yesterday, saying that Beirut and Tehran should work together toward unity, in order to confront the West and Israel, the country’s official news agency IRNA reported.
Ghosn is a member of the Christian political party Marada, which is allied with Tehran’s main partner in Lebanon, the Shiite Hezbollah movement. Marada and Hezbollah are also closely linked to Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad, who has traditionally been a major power-broker in Lebanon, but faces an uprising against his rule.
Ahmedinejad said Israel would carry “a massacre against all nations of the region” if it could. “Therefore, we should support and stand by each other more than before.” Ghosn said: “Lebanon will never forget that Iran stood by them in great difficulties.”
Tehran has blamed the recent assassinations of nuclear scientists on Israel. It also faces the possibility of Israeli airstrikes against its nuclear facilities. Israel says the military option must remain on the table. Israelis say that Iran may retaliate against such a strike through proxy, by pushing Hezbollah to use its arsenal of rockets against Israel. Such an action, however, risks triggering another Israeli-Lebanese conflict, such as the 2006 border war between Hezbollah and Israel. Ghosn also met Sunday with Iran’s defense minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi. “Strengthening the Lebanese army is among the strategic policies of Iran,” Vahidi said. “Lebanon should have a strong army to defend its interests in the region.”