by Azita Carlson
The head of Iran’s elite suppressive Quds Force has claimed that the Iran-backed Hezbollah now dominates the Lebanese government, following the recent elections, which has sparked angry reactions from Beirut.
Major General Qassem Soleimani, who is blacklisted by the US, can be seen calling the May 6 Lebanese elections a “referendum” and a “victory” for Iran and its allies, in a video that is now being widely circulated on Lebanese social media.
He said: “For the first time, Hezbollah secured 74 of 128 seats in the Lebanese parliament. It transformed from a resistance party into a resistance government of Lebanon. This happened and this is a major victory.”
He then boasted that Hezbollah’s gains happened in spite of pressure in Lebanon and around the Middle East, claiming that Saudi Arabia spent $200 million to undermine Hezbollah in the elections and that the Hezbollah candidate who won in Beirut was a sign of changes in Lebanon.
He said: “Hezbollah has transformed from a party into a government of resistance.”
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri criticized Soleimani, calling his remarks “regrettable” and emphasising that Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon undermines regional stability.
He said: “If some have lost in Iraq, it does not mean that they should seek to compensate for their loss somewhere else.”
This appears to be a reference to the Iraqi parliamentary elections in May, where the Iran-backed Fatah Alliance came second to anti-Iranian interference candidate Muqtada al-Sadr.
While Hariri’s reaction should have been expected, especially given threats on his life by Hezbollah and Iran last year, Soleimani’s comments also angered politicians from the Hezbollah coalition.
Gebran Bassil, Lebanon’s foreign minister and the leader of President Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, argued that FPM lawmakers are independent and not working for Iran.
He said: “We are an independent bloc … with our own strength, we are not affiliated to anyone and no one follows us.”
Fellow FPM politician Ziad Assouad tweeted that he was not an ally of anyone, but “the free Lebanese people, who have entrusted us with representing the Lebanese nation”.
Another FPM member, Neemat Frem said: “I am personally committed to Lebanon’s supreme interest, which is above all else. Lebanon’s loyal allies will not allow it be part of a regional conflict.”
Of course, Iran will not stop meddling in the internal affairs of Lebanon (or any other Middle Eastern country) as this is one of the building blocks of the Regime. The only way to ensure that Iran discontinues its regional aggression is to support the Iranian people as they fight for regime change.
On June 30, 100,000 activists, politicians, and supporters of the Iranian Resistance will meet in Paris to call for regime change at the Free Iran Gathering.