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Iran dragging Lebanon into war

The visit of Qais Khazali, head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militia, to the Lebanon-Israel border is a dangerous development in the context of the regional conflict. The leader of an Iraqi militia is involved in an Iranian mission to ignite a battle between Lebanon and Israel.
Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi PMF are both militias affiliated to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. We are aware that neither Hassan Nasrallah nor Khazali have real power despite their loud speeches on TV, and their militias are neither Lebanese nor Iraqi forces. Everyone knows they have been fighting as part of Iran’s forces in Syria for more than three years.
Why has Khazali, the leader of the Iraqi militia, visited Kafr Kila on the Lebanese border with Israel, wearing a military uniform, while the Syrian-Israeli borders were closer for him as his militias are located there alongside the rest of PMF in Syria? This is not a threatening message but rather a provocative act that aims to expand the circle of war to include Lebanon.
Khazali knows that, if he visits the occupied Syrian Golan to deliver his message threatening Israel, he will most likely be targeted by Israeli forces, given that Syria is an open battlefield for all forces. Iran has sent Khazali to Lebanon because it wants to drag the country into a new war with Israel, which has previously threatened to launch an attack against Lebanon’s Hezbollah, similar to that of 2006.


Appearance of IRGC-affiliated militia leader Khazali on Lebanon-Israeli border is a provocative act that aims to expand the circle of conflict.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

The war in 2006 was also an Iranian-plotted operation, in which an Israeli soldier was abducted with no plans to release him amid tensions with Iran. Hamas, like Hezbollah, is just an Iran-led group. When Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president, successfully managed to secure a deal to free 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the Israeli hostage, Gilad Shalit, Syria — representing Iran — thwarted the deal. Hezbollah then attempted to abduct Israelis near the Lebanese border and ended up killing them. This made Israel wage a war on Lebanon, which was in fact Iran’s objective, destroying a large part of Lebanon’s infrastructure and killing the hopes of the Lebanese people to live a war-free life. Then, Hezbollah’s forces went hiding underground.
Iran is now plotting the same thing all over again. It has been trying for a while to open a new war front through Lebanon to avoid facing Israel in Syria after its militias were struck there several times. Iran believes that Lebanon is a fragile land; a state with no real central government. The recent speech of Gebran Bassil, the Lebanese foreign minister, was nothing but a reiteration of Iran’s speech, which can never win the approval of the majority of Lebanese people with its threats against Israel and the US.
“In Lebanon, we do not run from our destiny, which is to fight and resist until martyrdom. Jerusalem is part of our identity. We only live as free people and rise in the face of every occupier,” Bassil said in his speech. It was obviously not written by the Christian minister himself, but rather by Nasrallah’s agents. This is the submission and decadence level that the current Lebanese government has reached? How easy it was for the Lebanese government to sacrifice its sovereignty and accept sacrificing its citizens for the sake of an agenda that was imposed on it.
This is a hijacked state that fails to admit its real status. When Iran dominated Syria, Lebanon became concomitant to the outcomes of the war and its settlements. Iran’s dominance has increased to the extent that it now dares to send its militias and their leaders to the Lebanese-Israeli border in order to drag the country into a new war.
Since the government and Lebanese parties do not express their rejection of Hezbollah’s actions, we are entering a new stage of Lebanese political life, where the Islamic Republic of Iran runs Lebanon’s affairs, from its southern borders to the foreign minister’s speech, leading it to the altar of regional conflicts.

• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, where this article is also published.
Twitter: @aalrashed