Monday, October 11, 2010

Ahmadinejad visit a provocation

Given the volatility of relations between Hezbollah and Israel, the visit of Ahmadinejad to Lebanon (his first since taking office since 2005) is a great worry to Israel, due to the provocative nature of the visit. It serves to boost Hezbollah’s popularity within Lebanon and is a blatant attempt by Ahmadinejad to prove that Iranian influence in the region is strong despite Washington's threats that Tehran's nuclear program will lead to more sanctions and more isolation.

This symbolic visit is dangerous because of the on-going fractious nature of national politics in Lebanon, and the imminent indictments expected to be issued against Hezbollah in relation to the 2005 assassination of Rafik al-Harari. Whilst Hezbollah has seats in parliament, it is pitted against the Western-backed coalition government, and the timing of this visit threatens to bring down the fragile unity government. Political rivals of Hezbollah claim that Ahmadinejad is seeking to transform Lebanon into "an Iranian base on the Mediterranean."

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