'Jalili visited Beirut to support proxy, Hezbollah'

Lebanese MP says visit by Iran's Supreme National Security Council chief was public backing for Hezbollah and Assad.

Jalili honors Mugniyeh in Beirut 370 (photo credit: reuters)
Jalili honors Mugniyeh in Beirut 370
(photo credit: reuters)
A Lebanese MP has dubbed this week’s visit by Saeed Jalili, the head of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, to Beirut a deliberate message of support for Iran’s proxy Hezbollah.
In an interview with Kuwait’s Al-Seyassah newspaper published on Wednesday, MP Fadi Karam of the Lebanese Forces party said Jalili’s visit was primarily aimed at expressing support for Hezbollah, and also for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
The Lebanese Forces is the second-largest Christian party in the country’s parliament and is a member of the anti- Syrian March 14 bloc.
Karam said he believed there was a link between the timing of Jalili’s visit to Beirut and a recent speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah at the Shi’ite group’s annual central iftar event, in which he criticized the March 14 alliance for pressuring Hezbollah to hand over its weapons to the Lebanese Army.
The March 14 alliance, which won the most seats in Lebanon’s 2009 general elections, is opposed to the Assad regime in Syria, and has pushed for Hezbollah to be disarmed, in part because of worries that Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles might fall into Hezbollah’s hands.
In June, Lebanese political leaders resumed talks aimed at solving the issue of Hezbollah’s weapons. However, last month Lebanese President Michel Sleiman postponed the talks after March 14 said it would boycott the session over Hezbollah’s refusal to discuss its arms.
In Nasrallah’s iftar speech, the Hezbollah leader said his party was “interested in reaching a real defense strategy that protects Lebanon,” and that Israel would not attack Lebanon because it was afraid of Hezbollah.
Nasrallah also said that Israel was violating Lebanese airspace “on a daily basis” and that Lebanon must liberate the Shaba Farms (Mount Dov).
Mount Dov is an area of the Golan Heights that Lebanon claims.
Referring to the iftar speech, Karam told Al-Seyassah that Jalili’s visit to Beirut was intended to “convey the message both domestically and abroad that there is no such thing as a Lebanese state...
[Jalili’s] presence in Lebanon is to support the existence of the Hezbollah mini-state, which [Iran] considers an extension of its own interests in the region.”
Lebanon’s Future Movement, the largest member of March 14, said on Tuesday that Nasrallah had “dumped the only item on the National Dialogue agenda” by refusing to give up Hezbollah’s military arsenal.
Karam’s comments came after Lebanon’s former premier Saad Hariri and Progressive Socialist Party and Druse community leader Walid Jumblatt slammed Jalili’s visit to Beirut.
In a report Wednesday on Jalili’s discussions with Nasrallah, the Arabic service of Iran’s state news agency, IRNA, said the Hezbollah leader and the Iranian official discussed the latest political developments in the region, and particularly in Lebanon and Syria.
The report, which did not mention any discussion of weapons, cited Hezbollah’s media relations department and said that Jalili had met with Nasrallah following talks on Syria with Sleiman and other senior officials.
Jalili also participated in an event at the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, to celebrate International Quds [Jerusalem] Day, IRNA reported.
Quds Day, set for August 17, is an anti-Zionist event Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini first introduced in Iran in 1979.
Iran promotes the event in several countries in the Arab world.
According to IRNA, Jalili also celebrated Iranian Journalists’ Day in Beirut. Iran ranks fourth – behind Eritrea, Syria and North Korea – on the list of most-heavily censored countries in the world.