Political crisis in Iran to likely affect Hezbollah's strategy

Politics Materials 26 June 2009 09:00 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 25 / Trend , U.Sadikhova/

The Iranian opposition's protests against victory of the incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the elections will not lead to political problems in Lebanon, but may affect the strategy of Iran's ally - the Hezbollah organization.

"Developments in Iran will affect the entire region [Middle East], but primarily the Hezbollah," Analyst of the Lebanese Program of the British Chatham House Institute for Foreign Relations Nadim Shehadi told Trend in a telephone conversation from London. "Hezbollah is a key ally of Iran's Revolutionary Guardians, so any change [in Iran] will have the impact on them."

Powerful opposition riots broke out in Tehran after announcing the results of the presidential elections held on June 12. The incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the elections, garnering 66 percent of the vote, the Iranian Central Election Commission (CEC) said. One of the loser candidates is reformer Mir-Hossein Mousavi who has accused the authorities of fraud in the results of voting and encouraged people to hold protests.

The election resulted in a wave of opposition's mass protests, which became the most extensive since the Islamic revolution in 1979 in which the Shah regime was overthrew. Iran has accused the Western media of inciting riots in the country.

European countries and the United States condemned the crackdown of demonstrators in Iran, which led to death of 150 people, according to unofficial figures.

Arab countries urged not to interfere in the internal affairs of Iran.

Analysts exclude that the unrest in Iran may move to Lebanon, but they may affect the strategy of the main military and political ally of Tehran - the Hezbollah party.

So far, no one in Lebanon, which today has held the election of the parliamentary speaker and will hold the elections to the government next week, commented on the political unrest.

Observers believe the unrest in Tehran that affects the security of the Middle East may have an impact on Lebanon where there is a conflict between Hezbollah and anti-Coalition "March 14" which is the majority in the parliament has repeatedly led to military clashes.

Analyst on the Lebanese politics Salem Zuheir believes despite the fact that Lebanon is experiencing a stage of the national unity, it is impossible to eradicate Iran's influence in this country.

"It is impossible to separate Lebanon from Iran and Syria, as it is impossible to separate this from France," Head of Arab Orient Centre for Strategic and Civilisation Studies told Trend in a telephone conversation from London.

He said now there is a political tranquility in Lebanon because of the dialogue between pro-Western Sunni movement Al-Mustaqbal led by Saad al-Hariri, son of slain Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and the opposition bloc 8 March, the core of which is Hezbollah, an ally of Damascus and Tehran.

Shehadi said that if there will be changes in Iran's leadership, it will lead to a change in strategy of Hezbollah which is closely linked to the revolutionary command in Iran.
Hezbollah was founded in 1982 based on the ideology of the first Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhullah Khomeini.

"It is too early to talk about change [in Iran and Lebanon], because the events in Iran are developing in different directions," Shehadi said. "But if we view Hezbollah as an ally of the revolutionary command in Iran, then any change in Tehran's policy will impact it."

However, Anis Naggash, a Lebanese political analyst, believes that Iran's policy towards Lebanon will remain the same and Hezbollah military power will not let the party weaken.  

"Hezbollah's good military organization, an independent policy and strategy is unlikely to lead to weakening of the party's forces in Lebanon," Naggash said to Trend over telephone from Tehran. "Hezbollah spoke openly about its own interests, so it knows how to do it and what to do."

Naggash said the problems in Lebanon might arise in establishing a national unity government, but this can happen because of the internal contradictions of political parties in Lebanon, but not because of Iran's influence.

Political expert on Middle East policy Awad Chamas said Egypt and Saudi Arabia enjoy greater influence in Lebanon.

"Anxiety in Iran will not affect the political situation in Lebanon, [the election of prime minister] because he [Prime Minister] is elected under the influence of Saudi Arabia and Egypt," head of the European Center for Research on Mediterranean Shamas told Trend over telephone from Brussels.

He also excluded possibility of a new wave of concern in Lebanon because of the political crisis in Tehran, because Hezbollah is not interested in new clashes with pro-Western parties of the country.

Leader of the party Nasrallah accepted defeat in parliamentary elections in June and congratulated Al-Hariri on victory despite the fact that differences between 14 March and Hezbollah in May last year led to military clashes in Beirut.

Shamas added despite the forecasts about launch of a new civil war in Lebanon after the elections, Hezbollah acknowledged defeat and therefore the political crisis in Iran will not impact domestic policy in Lebanon.

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