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Iran general’s remarks on south Lebanon draw March 14 ire

  • Lebanese lawmaker Antoine Zahra speaks during an interview with The Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009. (Mahmoud Kheir/The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: Politicians from the opposition March 14 coalition lashed out Friday at the head of Iran’s elite Al-Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards Corp, Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, saying his remarks that south Lebanon fell under Iran’s influence have confirmed Hezbollah’s subservience to Iran. They demanded that Hezbollah clarify his statement. Suleimani, speaking in a conference on youth and the “Islamic Awakening” in Tehran Wednesday, said: “In reality, in south Lebanon and Iraq, the people are under the effect of the Islamic Republic’s way of practice and thinking.” But Suleimani’s remarks, which were carried by Iran’s official news agency IRNA Friday, were mistranslated by Arabic media and interpreted by March 14 politicians to mean that south Lebanon was under Iran’s influence.

Batroun MP Antoine Zahra, a Lebanese Forces official, said he was not surprised by Suleimani’s statement about Iran’s influence in south Lebanon and Iraq. “But we were surprised by this frank declaration which involved embarrassment, especially for Hezbollah, which claims that it is putting Lebanon’s interest above its regional links and its ideological loyalty,” Zahra said in a statement.

He asked whether the government, which is dominated by Hezbollah and its March 8 allies, was aware of this situation in south Lebanon.

“If it [government] is aware, what are the measures it plans to take at least to save its face when it claims that it is a government that is exercising sovereignty over all Lebanese territories,” Zahra said.

Fares Soueid, coordinator of March 14 General Secretariat said the remarks violated Lebanon’s sovereignty and demanded that Hezbollah clarify them.

“The remarks by the commander of Al-Quds force have unmasked Hezbollah when he said that south Lebanon falls under Iran’s influence, while the party is seeking through its political activity to convince the Lebanese and the world that it is a Lebanese party that is working to achieve Lebanese goals,” Soueid said.

“Suleimani’s remarks are rejected because they clearly violate Lebanon’s sovereignty on the one hand, and put the residents of the south in great danger, turning them into a mailbox between Iran and America, on the other,” Soueid added.

Mustafa Alloush, a former MP and Future Movement official, said Suleimani’s remarks have confirmed Hezbollah’s subservience to Iran.

Suleimani’s stance “has confirmed what we have been saying over the past years that Hezbollah is part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard,” Alloush said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 21, 2012, on page 2.
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