Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 12 / Trend U. Sadikhova /
Despite the fears and warnings of the U.S. and Israel to Beirut, the Iranian president's visit to southern Lebanon will not lead to military clashes between Lebanese and Israeli armies, experts said.
"This visit would not necessarily instigate a war between Israel and Lebanon, but being that the tension between the two countries is already simmering, nothing can be ruled out, included a new conflagration between the neighboring countries. This could devastate Lebanon completely," Alon Ben-Meir, Ph.D, U.S leading analyst on Middle East, said.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his first official visit to Lebanon on October 13-14, plans to visit South Lebanese villages of Bint Jbeil and Cana on the border with Israel. This angered the U.S. and Israel, who called the visit of Iranian president to the border as "provocative". Washington sent several warnings to the Lebanese government, headed by Saad al-Hariri, head of the pro-Western Saudi-motion al-Mustaqbal, not to allow Ahmadinejad to visit the Lebanese-Israeli border.
The village of Bint Jbeil became a center of fierce armed clashes between members of the Lebanese pro-Iranian Hezbollah party and Israeli forces during the Second Lebanon War in July 2006. Now southern Lebanon is controlled by a special contingent of UNIFIL peacekeepers along with the Lebanese army. However, Israel and the U.S. are sure that Hezbollah, which Washington consideres the terrorist organization, uses these villages to store weapons, which are expected to be delivered from Tehran and Damascus.
The Iranian president during an official visit to Lebanon will hold talks with his Lebanese counterpart Michel Suleiman, Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
It is expected that Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah hiding the last four years will appear together at the mass meeting in the southern suburbs of Beirut, to be held in his honor by Hezbollah.
Experts said that despite the extreme tension on the Lebanese-Israeli border, it will not cause new clashes between the armies.
Yamin, a member of the Lebanese political movement "March 14" of loyal al-Hariri, sees no difference between the visit of President Ahmadinejad and the presidents' earlier paid visits to Lebanon.
"This visit is the same as any other president's. As the President, Ahmadinejad visits the south of sovereign and independent Lebanon. It should not bother the U.S.," Yamin told Trend over phone.
Washington's fears cause suspicious that Lebanon can be a platform if Iran decides to strike at Israel, Yamin said.
"Lebanon is an independent country that does not interfere in the politics of other countries. It does not allow interference in its internal affairs", 'March 14' member said. It played a major role in the expulsion of Syrian troops from Lebanon after a 30-year presence.
The Lebanese government is taking a huge risk, not only by enabling and arranging this visit to its southern border, but also for inviting the President of Iran for a visit in the first place. Iran has been undermining Lebanese sovereignty through Hezbollah, and such a visit by Ahmedinejad to southern Lebanon in particular will demonstrate more than anything else the Iranian influence within Lebanon, which from the Israeli perspective constitutes nothing less than cementing Lebanon as an Iranian satellite, Ben-Meir, professor of international relations at New York University'sCenter for Global Affairs, told Trend via e-mail.
Should President Ahmedinejad try to throw a stone at the Israeli border police, it could provoke Israeli retaliation. Although the possibility is quite remote, it can happen, he said.
Iranian expert on the Middle East Hassan Hanizadeh also said that the visit of Ahmadinejad will not provoke a new Israel-Lebanon conflict.
The Israeli government of Binyamin Netanyahu is experiencing serious tensions with Europe and the United States because of disputes over the extension of the moratorium on the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. So, Israel is not ready now for new military operations, Hanizadeh told Trend via -email.
He said that the reason for the U.S. and Israel's concern lies in the possible agreement between Beirut and Tehran to supply the Lebanese army with arms.
It is assumed that this will be one of the main topics of discussions between the Lebanese leadership and President Ahmadinejad.
Officials in Tehran have repeatedly declared its readiness to supply the Lebanese army with necessary arms, after the U.S. Congress froze the annual military aid to Beirut to the amount of $100 million in the summer of 2010.
The decision was taken after short bloody clashes on the Israeli-Lebanese border, during which three Lebanese soldiers and a journalist were killed. Israel lost an officer of the army.
The U.S. refusal from financial assistance to Beirut aimed to stop an attempt to strengthen the Lebanese army as opposed to Israel, Hanizadeh said.
I believe the United States is fooling itself by thinking that it can separate between the Lebanese government and Hezbollah, which is not only part of the governing authority, but has complete veto over Lebanese government actions, Ben-Meir said.
"The U.S can not claim Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization on the one hand, and then supply the Lebanese military with $100 million worth of weapons, he said.