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memri
July 14, 2006 No.
1206

Iran and the Recent Escalation on Israel's Borders (3): Reactions in Iran, Lebanon, and Syria

The following is the third dispatch in the series on Iran and the recent escalation on Israel's borders. [1] During July 12-14, 2006, the Iranian, Lebanese, and Syrian media published articles and statements on the emerging conflict between Israel and Hizbullah.

The following are excerpts:

IRANIAN REACTIONS

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Iran is Doing its Best to Maintain a Constructive Approach to the Nuclear Issue; Any Problem Created for Iran in the Region Will Be Detrimental for Everyone

In a telephone conversation with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: "If the regime that occupies Jerusalem perpetrates the foolish crime of attacking Syria, this act will be tantamount to an attack on the entire Islamic world. This regime will [then] encounter an even fiercer reaction... [Israel's] insane attacks indicate the extreme weakness and impotence of this fake regime, which will soon bring about its fall."

In public appearances in northern Iran, Ahmadinejad stated that due to its aggressive nature, the Zionist regime is unable to exist in peace and tranquility.

He also warned the "great powers" against supporting the "crimes of the Zionist regime... [since] the continuation of these crimes and of the support [for them] will fan the flames of Muslim rage, which will annihilate them all."

Addressing the nuclear issue, Ahmadinejad said that Iran would respond to Europe's proposal towards the end of the second month of summer [i.e. on August 22], and that "time is not so important in nuclear talks"...

He added that Iran is doing its best to maintain a constructive approach to this issue, but that the U.S. is aiming to create tension. He warned that any problem created for Iran in the region will be detrimental for everyone. [2]

Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani condemned the Zionist regime's attacks on Lebanon and said that Iran would support the Lebanese people in their resistance to the Zionists. Larijani stressed that the Zionist actions would motivate further resistance in the region. [3]

LEBANESE REACTIONS

Walid Jumblatt: Hizbullah Played a Very Dangerous Game by Kidnapping the Soldiers; It is Raising the Stakes, With the Support of Iran and of Syria - Which in the Past Year has Become a Satellite State of Tehran

In an interview, prominent Lebanese Druze MP Walid Jumblatt told the French daily Le Figaro: "Hizbullah played a very dangerous game by kidnapping these two soldiers... Israel has withdrawn from Lebanon. These kidnappings took place outside our country's borders. Hizbullah is raising the stakes, with the support of Iran and of Syria - which in the past year has become a satellite state of Tehran. Owing to the lack of an Arab or Western initiative regarding the Israeli-Palestinian question, Iran and Syria have taken over, and in this context Lebanon constitutes a natural battlefield...

"Hizbullah will have to explain itself to the Lebanese... [We need to decide] who makes the decisions regarding war and peace in this country." [4]

Lebanese Government: It is the Government's Responsibility to Enforce its Sovereignty Over All of Lebanon

Following its special session on July 13, 2006, the Lebanese government issued the following statement: "The government of Lebanon emphasizes that it is responsible for defending the homeland and its citizens, and for safeguarding their security and wellbeing. Likewise, it is [the government's] responsibility to extend its control over all of the Lebanese lands, to enforce its sovereignty, and to make its national decisions [concerning] foreign and domestic [policy]."

When asked whether this statement meant that the Lebanese army would deploy in southern Lebanon, PM Fuad Al-Siniora replied: "We did not discuss this issue." [5]

Former Lebanese President Amin Jumail: Lebanon Refuses to Be the Spearhead of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Former Lebanese President Amin Jumail told Al-Jazeera on July 12, 2006: "What occurred today is something very dangerous... We all know that decisions relating to war and peace are sovereign decisions that need to be taken by the government. The initiative that was taken [by Hizbullah] will entangle the country in controversial military actions... This is a great danger to Lebanon, since it is not willing to be the spearhead of the Arab-Israeli conflict so long as Syria's borders are calm and not a single shot [is being fired] from Syria on the Golan Heights." [6]

The next day, Jumail told Iranian Al-Alam TV: "What is currently going on results from the decision of [one] political party [Hizbullah], and not from a decision by the Lebanese government. If there is an initiative that leads to war, as is clearly the case right now, there needs to be a minimal level of national agreement on the part of the Lebanese constitutional institutions...

"The Lebanese government has been defeated. There are partisan forces that make decisions unilaterally, without consulting anyone. They have the ability to implement [their decisions], and the [Lebanese] government is forced to accommodate itself to the new situation." [7]

Lebanese Communications Minister: Syrian VP Gives Commands, Hizbullah Carries Them Out

In an interview, Lebanese Communications Minister Marwan Hamada told the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal: "Syrian Vice-President Farouq Al-Shar' gives the commands, Hizbullah carries them out, and Lebanon is the hostage [of Syria's commands]." [8]

Top Officials in the March 14 Forces Criticize the Operation

The March 14 Forces, a union of several political parties and factions in Lebanon headed by Al-Mustaqbal Party leader Sa'd Al-Hariri, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, and Lebanese Forces commander Samir Geagea, published an announcement stating that they "oppose including Lebanon within the framework of the considerations of [various] regional forces, which have nothing to do with Lebanese interests, in order to reap benefits and opportunistic profits at the expense of the Lebanese people and its sacrifices. The March 14 Forces also emphasize Lebanese unity in the face of any Israeli attack and their unified position to restore all their rights. Moreover, they stress that no element, local or external, may exclusively determine the priorities in the campaign against the Israeli enemy..." [9]

Samir Geagea said: "Regardless of [Hizbullah's] success, no Lebanese group may gamble with the fate of the entire Lebanese people through a unilateral decision. There are many [Lebanese] detainees in Syrian prisons. Would it be conceivable for us to abduct Syrian soldiers and then conduct negotiations for their release?" [10]

Maronite Patriarch: It Would Be Difficult to Disarm Hizbullah, Since Syria and Iran Run it

Upon his return from the U.S., Maronite Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir told a press conference: "We denounce the latest Israeli attacks against the Lebanese people and the [Lebanese] infrastructures. But we also hope that Hizbullah will lay down its weapons and join the rest of the Lebanese citizens in finding a political solution to all of Lebanon's problems." [11] He added that "nobody agrees" to Hizbullah's retaining its weapons, but pointed out the "difficulty in disarming it, since it is Syria and Iran that run it." [12]

SYRIAN REACTIONS

Syrian Government Daily Al-Ba'th: The Israelis Refuse to Learn Their Lesson, and Therefore Hurl Accusations Against Regional Forces

In an editorial, the Syrian government daily Al-Ba'th wrote: "The Israeli government still hasn't realized that its occupation of Arab lands comes at a price which it will have to pay, today, tomorrow, and every day, just as it has paid in previous years... Today, the Arab resistance fighters in Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank are emphasizing this fact.

"Logic dictates that occupation and aggression [cannot continue] without resistance. This fact will require Israel to give in to [the demands for] the Arabs' rights, to withdraw from the occupied territories, and to pay the price of its longstanding aggression against the Arabs throughout the long decades...

"These criminals and those like them [i.e. the Israeli leaders] can talk a lot... and can tie this operation [by Hizbullah] to elements acting in the region. But [the decision making] remains at the level [of those] in the field itself... It is the resistance fighters [themselves] who choose the place, the time, and the target of their actions. Judging from the latest events, the leaders of the occupation, who are well aware of these clear-cut facts, do not want to learn from the painful lessons of the past and of the future. Consequently, they hasten to export the crisis, to hurl accusations [against regional forces], and to make empty threats, that have not brought and will not bring Israel security.

"The solution is simpler than they imagined, and it begins with an Israeli withdrawal from every occupied inch [of land and] a release of the prisoners and detainees in the occupation's prisons. If the Israeli leaders think otherwise, then they are proving once again that they still haven't learned the lessons of the past, and that they need to be taught a new lesson." [13]


[1] For Parts 1 and 2 of this series, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1204, "Iran and the Recent Escalation on Israel's Borders," July 13, 2006, Iran and the Recent Escalation on Israel's Borders ; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1205, "Iran and the Recent Escalation on Israel's Borders (2)," July 14, 2006, Iran and the Recent Escalation on Israel's Borders (2): Reaction in Iran, Lebanon, and Syria.

[2] IRNA, July 13, 2006.

[3] IRNA, July 14, 2006.

[4] Le Figaro, July 13, 2006,

[5] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), July 14, 2006.

[6] http://www.lebanese-kataeb.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1148, June 12, 2006.

[7] http://www.lebanese-kataeb.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1160, July 13, 2006.

[8] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), July 14, 2006.

[9] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), July 14, 2006.

[10] http://www.thisissyria.net/2006/07/13/syriatoday/12.html, July 13, 2006.

[11] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), July 14, 2006.

[12] http://www.thisissyria.net/2006/07/13/syriatoday/12.html, July 13, 2006.

[13] Al-Ba'th (Syria), July 13, 2006.