Alastair Crooke, the founder of the Conflicts Forum in Lebanon, has a Iran-occupied-Lebanon-scare rebuttal on Race For Iran that is well worth the read. His thesis is one of a grand awakening in the world’s non-elites, but am not sure the idea deserves the profound “deeper significance” he gives it.
Nonetheless, his myth-busting, based on his vantage point in Beirut, is worth the read:
Firstly, let us put to one side the nonsense: The President of Iran’s visit was not about embedding Lebanon as a part of the Iranian state, nor was it about paving the way for any Hizbullah ‘take-over’ of Lebanon; and nor can the visit be described as a ‘provocation’. …All these claims for the purpose of the visit are just a part of the psychological warfare mounted against Iran, and can be ignored.
The visit was, in fact, a State visit. The Iranian President was formally invited by the Maronite Christian President of Lebanon some while ago. Iran is a prominent regional state, just as Turkey is – whose Prime Minister happens to be visiting Beirut today.
Iran’s popularity on the streets should not surprise anyone. It is real, and it is heartfelt – and extends beyond the Shi’i of the south of Beirut. Having been present here in Beirut throughout the war of 2006, I experienced the almost universal shock at how leaders and so-called ‘friends of Lebanon’ such as Tony Blair and Condoleezza Rice tried to fend-off and delay a ceasefire – in order to allow Israel more time to ‘finish the job’, i.e. to destroy more bridges, more infrastructure and impose civilian casualties – as our ‘price’ to be paid for Hizbullah’s seizure of Israeli soldiers. Feelings here are still raw on this point, and all sectors of opinion know that the only real support for Lebanon in those dark hours came from Syria and Iran. Unsurprisingly, there was a direct element of gratitude in expression to Iran in recent days both for the support then, and its subsequent economic assistance to repair the damage.