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Then, all summer long there were rumors that the STL was about to issue indictments of several Hezbollah figures. This didn’t sit well with Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s “spiritual leader” and commander. He demanded that the government of Lebanon take up the issue of false witnesses, stop funding and cooperating with the STL, and place the blame for the Hariri assassination where he says it truly belongs; on Israel.
Endorsing Hezbollah’s position for the first time in public, Ahmadinejad said accusations being fabricated aimed to instigate strife among the Lebanese as to empower Israel, a reference to reports that the STL’s indictment is set to implicate Hezbollah members in the murder.
The STL has been the focus of controversies between March 14 parties and Hezbollah since the latter condemned the tribunal as an Israeli project aimed against the resistance in Lebanon.
“In Lebanon, a friend and a patriotic man was assassinated. They are trying to sow strife and conflict … by manipulating the media to accuse our friends and fulfill their aims in the region,” Ahmadinejad said.
By injecting himself into a crisis that could lead to street violence if the indictments of Hezbollah figures becomes reality, Ahmadinejad has demonstrated that he is perfectly willing to intervene in the internal affairs of another country to protect his proteges in Hezbollah. Some might call that the definition of a client state and they wouldn’t be far off.
While the Iranian president was being greeted with wild cheers and songs in southern Lebanon, the March 14th coalition looks upon Ahmadinejad’s visit with alarm – as well they should. Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel raised the prospect of a Hezbollah coup. According to Narhanet:
Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel noted Thursday that the “Lebanese system is at risk and we should resist all that may destabilize it.”
“We should confront the plan to topple the system and components of the state with legitimacy through parliament and Cabinet,” he said.
“Experience has demonstrated that insistence on holding on to institutions and legitimacy is a resistance factor as well,” he added.
Would Hezbollah risk alienating most of the population by carrying out an armed insurrection? Only if it believed that the coming indictments by the STL would fatally weaken it with the public. That Hezbollah is worried about this is evident in its threats to ramp up street protests and confront the Sunnis in Lebanon who no doubt would seek “justice” for their beloved Hariri. Quite simply, Hezbollah cannot afford for the STL to succeed in bringing to trial any Hezbollah figure and thus, will do everything in its power to prevent that eventuality — including brushing aside the current government and installing a puppet regime loyal to Nasrallah and Iran.
Of course, no visit to a nation that borders Israel by Ahamdinejad would be complete without his usual eliminationist rhetoric:
The whole world knows that the Zionists are going to disappear…The occupying Zionists today have no choice but to accept reality and go back to their countries of origin.
By emboldening Israel’s deadly enemy, Ahmadinejad has probably made war that much more likely. And Hezbollah, confident in its unrivaled domestic position, can count on broad support by the government if it initiates hostilities against the Jewish State. This is a recipe for conflict. And it will probably occur at a time and place of Ahmadinejad’s choosing.
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