Hezbollah wants a representative office in Moscow

Russia’s foreign minister reportedly received a delegation of senior Hezbollah figures on March 15 led by “the head of the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, the political wing of Hezbollah."

A HEZBOLLAH flag flutters in the breeze of southern Lebanon in August. (photo credit: REUTERS/KARAMALLAH DAHER)
A HEZBOLLAH flag flutters in the breeze of southern Lebanon in August.
Iran’s Press TV reported on Tuesday that “the Russian government and Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement are reportedly considering the possibility of opening a representative office for the Lebanese popular organization in the capital, Moscow, following high-level meetings between the two sides last month.”
This would be a serious development for Hezbollah to achieve more political legitimacy at the hands of Russia. The Press TV report is actually based on an Al-Akhbar report in Lebanon, but Iran’s pushing of the report appears to give it weight.
The report notes that Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov received on March 15 a delegation of senior Hezbollah figures led by Mohammad Raad, “the head of the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, the political wing of Hezbollah, and media reports indicated that the two sides had held ‘open and friendly’ talks.”
The meeting at the time was held at Russia’s request, Iran said.  
“The two sides stressed the need to strengthen means of communication between them and to adopt direct channels of communication between the party and Moscow, while studying the possibility of establishing a representative office for the party in the Russian capital,” Al-Akhbar said in a report on Tuesday.
Hezbollah also talked to Russia about Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Israel. This means that Hezbollah is discussing the whole region.
Why would Russia study the possibility of having a Hezbollah office? Is it to gain more Russian influence in the region, or is this an Iranian-Hezbollah ploy to test the waters with Moscow to see about upgrading Hezbollah’s role?
Many questions remain about the report and why it is being brought up a month after the meetings. It appears to be designed to go along with the Iranian foreign minister’s trip to Central Asia and the visit to Iraq of the head of IRGC Quds Force.
The US and Iran are supposed to be considering how America might reenter the Iran deal. Having Iran say that Hezbollah may get more legitimacy via Moscow would be another apparent Iranian win in the region. It’s not clear, though, if it would happen. Tasnim news thinks it is likely Hezbollah will have an official office in Moscow soon. It is believed that Russia has a widening game plan for Lebanon.  
According to other reports several weeks ago, Hezbollah was worried about reports that Moscow, seeking to end the Syrian war, intends to set up a “military council” in Syria that would include opposition officials, according to Israel Hayom.
“Hezbollah is also worried that Iran could pull up stakes in Syria,” the report noted. “This concern apparently stems from recent rumors in Arab media about a meeting between senior Russian officials and Syrian opposition figure Manaf Tlass, considered an ally of Turkey, as well as Russia’s reservations about Iran’s continued presence in Syria, which has made the country into an Iranian satellite.”
In other news in March, reports at The Arab Weekly said Hezbollah received a warning from Israel via Moscow. “Western diplomatic sources revealed that Russian authorities passed on to the Lebanese Hezbollah delegation, which began a three-day visit to Moscow on Monday, a message from Israel that Tel Aviv will not put up with military escalation by the militant Shia party from southern Lebanon.
“The same sources said that Israel asked Moscow to relay the message to Hezbollah in the wake of an Israeli arms buildup in southern Lebanon in recent weeks despite UN forces being stationed there,” the reports said.
This multisided issue involving Hezbollah, Israel, Iran and Russia is sure to be of importance in the coming weeks. It is unclear whether Moscow can play a positive role to reduce tensions with Hezbollah, or whether the terrorist group will be emboldened by the belief that it has gained legitimacy via Russia.