Towards the end of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s first day in Lebanon Wednesday Oct. 13, a high alert was declared in the Israeli, Syrian, Lebanese armies, the Hizballah militia and the UN peacekeeping force. The visitor was expected to further sharpen his tone and fire seriously belligerent rhetoric at Israel from the sites he is touring Thursday along the Lebanese-Israeli border.
A sign of this came in the harsh tone of the speech he delivered Wednesday night from the Al-Raya Stadium in the Shiite district Dahya district of Beirut: Ahmadinejad and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared their common goal was Israel’s destruction. The IDF, the Lebanese army and UNIFIL raised their war alert further when it was discovered that Nasrallah was not standing beside the Iranian president but had relayed his speech by videotape.
Although Ahmadinejad spent the day meeting Lebanese leaders, he was not seen to have met Nasrallah. However, our sources report that they did get together secretly in the early afternoon and coordinated their movements and actions for the next part of the Iranian leader’s visit. They talked again without publicity Wednesday evening shortly before their speeches at the stadium.
The Hizballah leaders physical absence from the platform alongside the Iranian president, as though his life is in greater danger than that of his guest, is interpreted by Western intelligence circles in Beirut as pointing to Nasrallah reserving a piece of high drama up his sleeve, alarming enough to justify a demonstration of strength by Hizballah in Beirut or in South Lebanon. That is why he preferred to keep his head down Wednesday. The maneuver was almost certainly approved or even cooked up with the Iranian president.
Ahmadinejad went on to denigrate “the Zionist entity as the embodiment of the deception of the capitalist world order and the materialistic ideas.”
He spoke of major change awaiting the world starting from “our region” and explained: “A resistance front has been formed by the peoples of Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and all the region.”
Israel’s only response to the vicious attacks showered on its head from Lebanon came from an official in the bureau of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who said: The President of Iran’s Lebanon visit is like that of a commander reviewing his troops – the terrorists of Hizballah who act as Iran’s military arm in the region. Anyone who cares about peace and freedom must be filled with alarm by the Iranian provocation. Lebanon deserves calm and prosperity instead of which it has become the servant of Iranian aggression spearheaded by Hizballah.”
The official gave no indication of any Israeli plans to combat Iran’s domination of Lebanon.
Washington’s response was still milder. The White House commented that the Ahmadinejad visit to Lebanon marked his provocative behavior, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it would lead to greater regional instability.