Lebanon in 'grave danger' of becoming Iranian satellite

Sunday, November 07, 2010 |  Ryan Jones

A top Lebanese politician on Friday warned that his country is in “grave danger” of being taken over by Hizballah and turned into a satellite of the group’s sponsors in the Iranian regime.

“Lebanon as an entity and a democratic country is in grave danger,” said Amin Gamayel, a former president of Lebanon, after an emergency meeting with other Christian politicians.

Gamayel was referring to Hizballah’s threats regarding the impending findings of the UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, father of the current prime minister, Saad Hariri.

Hizballah has called the international probe a farce, and has vowed it will not turn over any of its members for prosecution should the UN determine that Hizballah and its allies in Syria and Iran were behind the elder Hariri’s murder in a Beirut car bombing in 2005.

Gamayel and others are concerned because Hizballah continues to maintain a military force nearly on par with the official Lebanese army in clear violation of UN resolutions, and because the group now exercises veto power over the government. Veto power was given to Hizballah as part of a 2008 unity coalition deal struck in Qatar that was seen by most as an appeasement of the Islamic group after weeks of clashes between its forces and the army.

But Hizballah and Iran are looking for more than that.

According to a reports in the pan-Arab newspapers A-Sharq Al-Awsat and Al Akhbar last week, Hizballah and its allies in Lebanon are already plotting to take over the country.

“If this scenario does take place, Hezbollah would be able to seize power in three days or a week at most,” a Lebanese general who supports Hizballah told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

Lebanon’s army chief, General Jean Kahwaji, told France’s AFP news agency that he is “worried, but I am not afraid.”

Gen. Kahwaji said the army has “deployed sufficient troops in Beirut and has studied all other areas at risk.”

Were Hizballah to seize control, Israeli intelligence has no doubt Lebanon would be turned into one of several launching pads for an Iranian-sponsored strategy to overwhelm the Jewish state.

“The next conflict, even if it is limited in scale will be much bigger, much broader, and with many more casualties,” warned outgoing Israeli army intelligence chief Amos Yadlin in his final Knesset appearance.

Yadlin explained that Israel’s enemies are moving toward a coordinated assault that will see simultaneous attacks from Hamas-ruled Gaza, Hizballah-controlled Lebanon and Syria. The key to that strategy, according to Yadlin, is air defenses. The Arabs believe if they can stop or even slow down Israel’s vaunted air force, then their long-range missiles will quickly wear down Israeli resolve.

Yadlin noted Syria’s recent acquisition of the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft system had already increased from 48 hours to a week or more the time it would take Israel to achieve air superiority over Syria. He believes those defenses may already be on the way to Hizballah, and certainly will be deployed in Lebanon if the Islamic group seizes power.

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