The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamidreza Assefi, was asked about the closely coordinated timing of the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers and Iran's rejection of the package of incentives provided by the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany. He responded by implicitly confirming the widely believed suspicion that Iran was the main instigator of the crisis and that it acted in an effort to deflect attention from Iran's nuclear weapons program, spread the scope of Iran's conflict with the West into Lebanon, and overshadow its extensive destabilizing activities in Iraq. Assefi said that it is natural that Iran would be on the side of the people and the government of Lebanon, as well as Syria. Ironically, the first Iranian official who traveled to Syria since the crisis broke out was none other than Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani.
The deadly fighting in Lebanon has already postponed Security Council consideration of a draft resolution that would demand a halt to Iran's sensitive nuclear fuel work. The Security Council was expected to take up the draft resolution this week. But instead of discussing Iran, the council on July 17 met behind closed doors to take up the dangerous Middle East crisis.
"I would have expected that as of this morning, we would have been working on the Iran resolution, but Iran's proxies in the Middle East, Hamas and Hezbollah, obviously have other work in mind," US Ambassador John Bolton said on July 18.
Saeed Aboutaleb, a senior Iranian parliamentary member was quoted in the Aftab Yazd newspaper, saying that Lebanon is now the front line of the Islamic world.
In a July 16 interview with the Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite TV channel, Lebanese Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, described Lebanon as a proxy battleground for Iran in its conflictive dealings with the international community over mounting pressure to curtail its nuclear program.
"The war is no longer Lebanon's ... it is an Iranian war," said Jumblatt, who is the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party. He added, "Iran is telling the United States: You want to fight me in the Gulf and destroy my nuclear program? I will hit you at home, in Israel."
In an interview with Iran’s state-run television, General Mohsen Reza’i, former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), who has long had a hand in exerting Iran's influence in Lebanon, said that proper grounds have now been prepared for us to "God willing take advantage and wage a new wave against Israel."
Hossein Shariatmadari, a close confidant of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the editor of Khamenei's mouthpiece, the Kayhan newspaper, said "Iraq is on the tip of our fingers, so is Palestine."
Ayatollah Ghorbanali Dorri Najafabadi, the Attorney General of the Iranian regime, referred to the current Middle East crisis as an "historic opportunity" for the Iranian regime. General Rahim Safavi, commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, said that the futures of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq are tied to one another. He added that, if they all join together, they will "dominate the entire Middle East." Iranian paramilitary Bassij forces (one of the five forces of the IRGC) are an "idol for the entire Islamic world; you should learn from Iranian Bassij," he said, thus revealing Iran's bigger agenda to dominate the region as part of its broader design to establish global Islamic rule.
What is now happening in Lebanon did not take shape overnight. To set the stage for this dirty war, Iran stepped up its dispatch of weapons, ammunition and missiles to Lebanon over the course of the past several months. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards forces, long present inside Lebanon were augmented. Former Revolutionary Guards commander, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was propelled to the presidency by Supreme Leader Khamenei precisely in order to execute his road map for production of an Iranian nuclear bomb, dominate Iraq, and expand Iran’s influence across the Middle East and beyond. Since Ahmadinejad’s ascendancy to the Iranian presidency in August 2005, Tehran has been shuttling its officials or its proxies incessantly between Tehran, Damascus, and Beirut to coordinate its activities and implement the road map.
In a speech broadcast on state television on July 16, Khamenei demonstrated the dominant, Big Brother role that Iran plays in Lebanon, when he asserted that Hizballah would not disarm. "The U.S. president says Hizballah must be disarmed. It's clear that (the U.S.) and Zionists want this, but it won't happen."
Speaking to thousands of anti-Israel demonstrators in Tehran's Palestine Square, parliament Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel warned Israelis: "The towns you have built in northern Palestine are within the range of the brave Lebanese children. No part of Israel will be safe." Haddad Adel added praise for Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, calling him a "brave lion."
Meanwhile, in a significant and perhaps unanticipated development, key Arab governments have blamed Lebanese proxy groups and their main sponsor, Iran, for the current crisis. Saudi Arabia, together with Jordan, Egypt, and several Persian Gulf states, chastised Iran and Hezbollah for “unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts” at an emergency Arab League summit meeting in Cairo on July 15. The rare willingness of those governments to defy public opinion in their own countries underscores a significant shift that has been prompted by the growing influence of Iran in Iraq and across the region.
“There is a school of thought, led by Saudi Arabia, that believes that Hezbollah is a source of trouble, a protégé of Iran, but also a political instrument in the hands of Iran,” Adnan Abu Odeh, a Jordanian sociologist told the New York Times. ‘This school says we should not play into the hands of Iran, which has its own agenda, by sympathizing or supporting Hezbollah fighting against the Israelis.” Efforts to strengthen this de facto Arab coalition are key to defeating the Iranian regime's regional and global agenda.
Iran's ruling clerics would be the biggest loser were peace in the region and the establishment of democracy in Iraq to succeed.
The current situation is the outcome of Western countries turning a blind eye to Iran's export of terrorism and Islamic extremism for over two decades. Tehran has never paid a price for its decades-long sponsorship of terrorism; instead, it has cashed in on a continuous flow of profits by exacting concessions from the West.
The international community must ensure that Iran’s war mongering in the Middle East comes to an end. To permit Tehran's terror machine to emerge the victor in this current Middle East crisis would be to court disaster down the road, especially if Iran manages to acquire a nuclear weapons capability. Such an outcome would place the region and the world in a far more dangerous predicament than we currently face.
Alireza Jafarzadeh is a FOX News Channel Foreign Affairs Analyst and the author of the upcoming book, The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis to be published in January 2007 (Palgrave Macmillan Press).
Jafarzadeh revealed the existence of Natanz uranium enrichment facility, and Arak heavy water facility in August 2002. He first disclosed the details of Iran's involvement in the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, in 1997, and the Jewish Community Center bombing in Argentina in 1993.
Prior to becoming a contributor for FOX, and until August 2003, Jafarzadeh acted for a dozen years as the chief congressional liaison and media spokesperson for the US representative office of Iran's parliament in exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
Alireza Jafarzadeh, the deputy director of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is credited with exposing Iranian nuclear sites in Natanz and Arak in 2002, triggering International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. He is the author of "The Iran Threat" (Palgrave MacMillan: 2008). His email is Jafarzadeh@ncrius.org, and is on twitter @A_Jafarzadeh.