August 15, 2006 Special Dispatch No. 1249

Arab Media Accuses Iran and Syria of Direct Involvement in Lebanon War

August 15, 2006
Syria, Lebanon, Iran | Special Dispatch No. 1249

The war between Israel and Hizbullah has revealed profound disagreement in the Arab world between countries that support Hizbullah and those that oppose it, headed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The disagreement was reflected in the Arab media, which published articles supporting Hizbullah along with harsh criticism and accusations against it.

One of the accusations leveled against Hizbullah was that the organization does not serve the interests of the Lebanese people, but acts in the service of Syria and Iran, thereby jeopardizing Arab interests. Many articles argued that Syria and Iran had manufactured the crisis in order to draw world attention away from the Iranian nuclear issue and away from the results of the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri. It was also claimed that Iran was working to destroy the Arab countries from within by encouraging armed militias to rebel against the Arab regimes.

Supporters of Hizbullah in Syria and Lebanon rejected the claim that Hizbullah was serving Syrian and Iranian agendas. They countered that it is Israel that is acting in the service of the West, which aims to redraw the map of the Middle East.

The following are excerpts from articles published in the Arab media:

Articles in the Arab Press: Hizbullah is Acting in the Service of Iran and Syria

*The Abduction of the Israeli Soldiers was Planned in Advance by Syria and Iran

Lebanese columnist Huda Al-Husseini wrote in the London Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "These two countries [Syria and Iran] want to leave their troubles behind, and both of them are holding some of the same cards, including Hamas and Hizbullah. Syria wants to break out of its isolation and to wreak havoc [in the region] in order to avoid the consequences of the investigation into the murder of [former Lebanese] prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri, and Iran wants to avoid giving any response to the European-American proposal [regarding its nuclear program]...

"Iran dispatched the head of its nuclear negotiations team, 'Ali Larijani, [to Europe] in order to postpone the date on which it would have to stop its uranium enrichment activities, and when it heard that the matter would be referred to the Security Council, the abduction of the two Israeli soldiers was carried out... Larijani made a surprise visit to Damascus and consulted with Syrian Vice-President Farouq Al-Shar', after receiving instructions from Tehran to instigate a regional crisis which would draw attention away from Iran. [Larijani] spoke of the need for a war against Israel, and [Farouq Al-Shar'] replied that the occupation justifies resistance [activities] in Lebanon and Palestine... Syria speaks of resistance, even at the cost of Lebanon's destruction, and Iran speaks in the name of all Muslims. Lebanon has [thus] been taken hostage by Hizbullah, Syria and Iran, and Islam [itself] has almost become a hostage to Iran's aspirations... Why must Lebanon always pay the price for the adventurism of local forces that are supported by regional forces?" [1]

*The Timing of the Operation - on the Same Day That Iran's Nuclear Dossier was Referred to the Security Council - Indicates Direct Iranian Involvement

'Abd Al-Rahim 'Ali, director of the Arab Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy in Cairo, wrote in the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram: "When Hizbullah responded to Iran's promptings and to incitement by other regional [forces], it knew that it was starting a war between two unequal forces - [a war] whose full price would be paid by the Lebanese people alone... When [Iran] saw that its [nuclear] dossier would soon be transferred to the Security Council, it decided to use Lebanon, along with Iraq, as a bargaining card to increase the pressure on the Americans. The question is whether the Lebanese people must [really] be subjected to all this destruction for the sake of a campaign in which they have no part. If the abduction of the two Israeli soldiers had been carried out during an Israeli offensive in South Lebanon, or during fighting between [Israel] and Hizbullah, this escapade might have been justifiable. But the timing of the operation was puzzling, and clearly indicates Iranian involvement in the crisis." [2]

Lebanese columnist Fuad Matar wrote in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "Hizbullah has placed the [Arabs] in a questionable situation, [since its] operation was meant to serve Iran's interests, [as is apparent from its] timing: on the very same day that the five permanent [Security Council] members and Germany referred Iran's nuclear dossier back to the Security Council." [3]

*Our Resources Must Not Be Destroyed in the Service of Foreign Agendas

Tareq Al-Humeid, editor-in-chief of the London Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote: "It is inconceivable that our abilities and resources should be destroyed and eliminated [just] because [some] group has decided to set the region on fire in the service of foreign agendas... Those who wish to fight Israel should bear the consequences [for their own actions] - especially since, in his speeches, Nasrallah presents himself as the ultimate Arab leader and says that he 'is not asking for anyone's help.' The same goes for [Hamas Political Bureau head] Khaled Mash'al. You two [i.e. Nasrallah and Mash'al] should bear responsibility [for the situation you have created] and suffer the consequences yourselves." [4]

*Egyptian Government Daily: "The Next Struggle in the Arab World Will Be... Between Two Axes... The Iranian [Axis] and the American [Axis]"

Muhammad 'Ali Ibrahim, chief editor of the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhuriyya, wrote: "We are faced with two plans, each more dangerous than the other. The first is the Israeli-American plan which seeks to destroy the Arab countries from without, either through military operations or by means of economic restrictions. The second is the Iranian plan which seeks to destroy the Arab states from within [by using] Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine [as proxies], and by swallowing Iraq, [an aim] which seems to have already been realized... Iran wishes and plans to turn the entire Arab world into a [assortment of] armed militias like Hizbullah.

"The next struggle in the Arab world will be a struggle between two axes or camps - the Iranian [axis] and the American [axis] - and Lebanon seems to be the first instance of a struggle between the two... These two axes are seeking to wage war on their own behalf, or by employing proxies so as to not dirty their own hands. These wars will deepen the rift between the movements and the states [in which they operate], or between the insurgents and the Arab regimes - or, to be explicit, between the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hizbullah [on the one hand] and the Arab governments [on the other]. The proof of [the truth] of my statement is the demonstration at which Sheikh Mahdi 'Akef, the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, called for jihad against Israel. This is an Iranian jihad, which aims to destroy Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan from within by turning them into [a battleground] for various militias, as is occurring in Lebanon..." [5]

Egyptian columnist Hazem 'Abd Al-Rahman wrote in the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram: "[Let me say it] for the thousandth time - all Iran wants is to extend its hegemony over the eastern Arab countries, and it is trying to use Hizbullah as a Trojan horse to achieve this aim. [Hizbullah] is paying [the price] in [sacrificing] the lives of its leaders, activists and supporters, and in the future [it will pay the price] by [sacrificing] the people and resources of Lebanon. Iran, [on the other hand], only reaps the benefit, and Iranian President Ahmadinejad contents himself with making fiery speeches about a new Middle East without Israel." [6]

*Hizbullah's Actions Aim to Strengthen Iran's and Syria's International Status

Ashraf Al-Ajrami, columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, wrote: "It may be said that the Damascus-Tehran axis, which includes Hizbullah and Hamas - who are supporting actors but are playing a primary role - wanted to wreak havoc in the region, and [carried out this plan] in two main arenas - Palestine and Lebanon. [They] used the Palestinians and the Lebanese as pawns in the international game, in order to promote the interests of Tehran and Damascus in their conflict with the U.S. and in order to strengthen their international status..." [7]

*"The Arab Countries Should Have... Disarmed Hizbullah Before [the War]"

Jamal Hashukji, former editor of the Saudi daily Al-Watan, characterized the Saudi objection to Hizbullah's actions as "courageous," but said that it had come too late, since the Arab countries should have worked to disarm Hizbullah in advance [of the war]. "Saudi Arabia," he wrote, "was not the only one who [woke up] too late. So did the other Arab states, which neglected [to do anything about] Hizbullah's special status that has been prevailing for many years, waiting for firm Arab intervention to put an end to it. The U.S. also [woke up] too late, and should be held responsible for generating the present crisis by neglecting the peace process...

"One did not have to be a prophet or a psychic to foresee a [future] crisis in Lebanon... Hizbullah is the primary [side] that had an interest in the recent escalation. Political forces in Lebanon demanded its disarmament even before Israel and America [made this demand]. [So] Hizbullah extended its military life by kidnapping the two [Israeli] soldiers and setting the region on fire. Iran, [for its part], was interested in drawing attention away from its nuclear project. And Syria - angry, anxious, and hurting because of the loss of its hegemony over Lebanon - was interested in drawing attention away from the investigation into the assassination of [former Lebanese] prime minister [Rafiq] Al-Hariri...

"Some Lebanese politicians courageously suggested to disarm Hizbullah, [arguing that], with Lebanon liberated, there was no longer any need for resistance. But [Hizbullah] justified [its status as an armed organization] by claiming that the liberation was not complete as long as Israel still held on to the Shab'a Farms... The Syrians cooperated with this pretext by refusing to submit a document that either recognized the Shab'a Farms as Lebanese... or declared them to be Syrian. [Had they declared the Shab'a Farms to be Syrian], the Shab'a Farms would have become part of the occupied Golan. There would have been a formal announcement [declaring] that Lebanon's sovereignty [over all its territories] had been restored, and that its territories had been fully liberated. Hizbullah would have then given up its arms in a dignified ceremony, and the Lebanese army would have absorbed some of its men and [received] all of its military equipment. The party [i.e. Hizbullah] would have been free to devote itself exclusively to its political function, [namely] serving the Shi'ites in South [Lebanon] who are always complaining about their marginal status in society.

"We all made a mistake by not pressuring Syria to resolve this question [of whether the Shab'a farms are Syrian or Lebanese]... [The entire problem] could have been resolved through an agreement or an understanding involving Iran, Syria and the various interested parties in Lebanon." [8]

*Editor of the Kuwaiti Daily Arab Times: "Hamas and Hizbullah... Represent the Interests of Syria and Iran"

Ahmad Al-Jarallah, editor-in-chief of the Kuwaiti dailies Arab Times and Al-Siyassa, wrote in the Arab Times: "Forgetting the interests of their own countries, Hamas and Hizbullah have gone so far as to represent the interests of Iran and Syria in their countries. These organizations became representatives of Syria and Iran without worrying about the consequences of their action...

"The fact that Hamas and Hizbullah gave the same reason for kidnapping the Israeli soldiers gives us a glimpse of their agenda, which is similar to the agenda of Syria and Iran in their conflict with the United States." [9]

Syria Responds: Israel is the One Who is Fighting Islam in the Service of the West

The Syrians denied that Hizbullah was acting in the service of Syria and Iran, and claimed that Israel is the one acting in the service of the West, which aims to redraw the map of the Middle East. Lebanese President Emile Lahoud endorsed the Syrian position, and told Fox News in an interview that "Hizbullah is Lebanese, and its demands are [made] in the service of Lebanese sovereignty... Its fighters are Lebanese, and its demands are Lebanese, not Syrian or Iranian." [10]

*Syrian Minister: The War in Lebanon is the Arabs' War of Independence Against the West

Syrian Minister of Expatriate Affairs Buthayna Sha'ban wrote in her column in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "The war in the Middle East is [indeed being fought] through proxies. But it is not Hizbullah which is a proxy, fighting on behalf of Syria and Iran, as some [have claimed] in attempt to mislead the Arabs. Israel is the one which is fighting the Arabs and Muslims on Lebanese soil on behalf of the U.S., Britain and the entire West...

"The first indication [of this] was [the fact that] that the Western countries began simultaneously to evacuate their citizens from Lebanon. Washington, London and Paris sent warships, while Canada, Australia and other countries hired ships in the area in order to speed up the evacuation of their citizens. [They did this] after they decided to give Israel the go-ahead to commit any war crimes it wants to commit in order to stamp out the resistance once and for all...

"This means that the war in Lebanon is not just Lebanon's war of independence, but is the [the independence war] of all the Arab masses, from the [Atlantic] Ocean to the Gulf. [They] must now [wage] their real war of independence in order to prove to various Western forces - which have instructed Israel of wage this war against the Arabs and against Islam - that the Arabs and Muslims are entitled to live in dignity upon their land, and that Israel's terrorist crimes, and the support it receives from the superpowers, will not keep the Arabs from expressing their rage...

"The plan, as [U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza] Rice said, is [to create] a 'new Middle East' in which the Arabs will have no honor, no rights and no voice. Do you accept [this]?... The aim of this political move is to bring the Arab existence in the region to an end, and to turn the Arabs in the region into refugees, exiles or second-rate citizens. Therefore, the outcome of the [present campaign] in the region [will determine] whether the Arabs will be here [in the future] or not." [11]

*This is a New Imperialist War

An article in the Syrian government daily Teshreen claimed that it is the American administration that is making the decisions in this war against Lebanon, while Israel only carries out its instructions: "[Today,] on the 13th day [of the war], it is becoming more and more clear that the American administration is not only a partner to the Israeli aggression, but that it is calling the shots, while the implementing mechanism is strictly Israeli...

"This imperialist war to which Lebanon and the [Muslim] nation are being subjected proves that these new imperialists do not respect the U.N. resolutions or the Convention on Human Rights... Their only goal is to divide our Arab region and carve it up into smaller and smaller [pieces] in order to implement their [plan for a] 'New Middle East'. [Israeli Minister] Shimon Peres announced [this plan] one day, and the American administration then directed Israel to begin the implementation of its first phase. The disturbing question in this context is this: Will the [Muslim] nation wake up [in time] to defend its identity and honor before we all sink?..." [12]

*The War is an American Initiative Meant to Compensate for America's Failure in Iraq

Syrian columnist Muhammad 'Ali Boza wrote in the Syrian government daily Al-Thawra: "[The actions of] targeting Lebanon, changing its face, and redrawing its map are merely another stage in the series of hasty, foolish and reckless actions taken by the neo-conservatives in the U.S. and by their ally Israel with the aim of suborning the region to their authority, defeating it, and breaking its will. It is the Bush administration that is running... this destructive and murderous war, which moves [from one country to another in the Middle East], while Olmert's government supplies the mechanism [for carrying it out]. [In light of] the failure of [the American] strategy in Iraq and its helplessness [there] after so many years... America [has decided] - in order to compensate itself and cover up [its failure]... - to expand the circle of fire and death by aiming all this criminal, blind hatred at Lebanon..." [13]

Columnist 'Adnan 'Ali wrote in the Syrian government daily Al-Thawra: "The repeated statements by U.S. Secretary of State [Condoleeza Rice] about the birth of a new Middle East expose the [real] intentions of those who planned this war against Lebanon and who wanted to [use] it as an opportunity to overthrow the existing paradigms and create a new reality based on America's and Israel's perception of the region... The Americans began at an early stage to spread [the idea] of the new reality that they hoped would emerge [in the region] over the dead bodies of Lebanon and of Hizbullah. They allotted roles to various players - some of them, unfortunately, Arab [players] - with the aim of [creating] a docile Middle East in which there would be no resistance [movement] and no opposition to the American-Israeli plans..." [14]

*"The War... [Proves] That Israel and the U.S. are Behind the Assassination of Al-Hariri"

Another article in the Syrian government daily Al-Thawra said: "The war that is currently waging [in Lebanon], with its declared and undeclared goals, makes us more certain than ever that Israel and the U.S. are the forces behind the assassination of [former Lebanese prime minister] Rafiq Al-Hariri. The assassination was part of an unsuccessful attempt by the U.S. to enforce U.N. Resolution 1559. The aggression [we see] today began because Israel, as it turns out, is the only one who benefits from this resolution and from Al-Hariri's assassination..." [15]

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 15, 2006.

[2] Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 18, 2006.

[3] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 15, 2006.

[4] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 15, 2006.

[5] Al-Gumhuriyya (Egypt), July 27, 2006.

[6] Al-Ahram (Egypt), August 6, 2006.

[7] Al-Ayyam (PA) July 14, 2006.

[8] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), July 18, 2006.

[9] Arab Times (Kuwait), July 15, 2006,

[10] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 3, 2006.

[11] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 24, 2006.

[12] Teshreen (Syria) July 25, 2006.

[13] Al-Thawra (Syria), July 27, 2006.

[14] Al-Thawra (Syria) July 27, 2006.

[15] Al-Thawra (Syria) July 27, 2006.

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