Posted by Joshua on Friday, October 15th, 2010
When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tours Lebanon’s border with Israel today, he may pause a moment to consider that Iran owes its existence as a Shiite nation to the ancestors of those living in these rural hilltop villages.
Iran wasn’t always the center of Shiite scholarship
In the early 16th century, the center for Shiite scholarship was in an area known as Jabal Amil, a rugged hill country that conforms closely to the geographical perimeters of modern-day south Lebanon. When Shah Ismael I, the Safavid ruler of Iran, introduced Shiism as the state religion in the 16th century, he turned to the scholars of Jabal Amil to help promulgate the new faith….
Qifa Nabki does his usual good job explaining popularity polls in the Arab World and in particular why both Ahmadinejad’s and Nasrallah’s stars dimmed after 2008 and why Turkey’s Erdoghan and Venezuela’s Chavez shone so brightly.
Nussaibah Younis writes:
Nasrallah was the real star of the show. …. Nasrallah spoke mindfully of his larger audience in Lebanon, and tried the novel approach of presenting Iran’s foreign policy as “unifying”. He praised Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for issuing a fatwa forbidding Muslims to react to the Qur’an burning-fiasco in the US with “similar acts”, claiming that Iran was acting in the best interests of Christian-Muslim unity. He also congratulated the Iranian cleric for his handling of a highly controversial London conference in which a little-known Shia activist disparaged Aisha, the wife of the prophet Muhammad, who is highly revered by Sunnis but considered a traitor by many Shias. Iran’s supreme leader Khamenei had responded with a statement forbidding insulting talk about the wives of the prophet, thereby – according to Nasrallah – acting as a force for unity between Sunnis and Shias.
Ahmadinejad draws large crowds, wary officials in Lebanon
Lebanese leaders portray his visit as routine as thousands turn out to greet him in Beirut’s pro-Hezbollah Shiite areas. An open letter urges him not to interfere in internal matters through Hezbollah.
October 13, 2010|By Borzou Daragahi and Alexandra Sandels, Los Angeles Times
……. Officials of the two nations signed humdrum trade agreements, praised one other and ate lunch at the palace of President Michel Suleiman. Ahmadinejad presented Suleiman with a gift: a computer equipped for nanotechnology research.
“I came at the official invitation of the government,” Ahmadinejad said at joint news conference. “Our message is one of unity and cooperation.”
During an evening appearance before thousands in southern Beirut, he said: “Lebanon is a green garden with many flowers from many faiths and religions.”
But from the beginning, the choreography of Ahmadinejad’s trip overshadowed his carefully chosen words. Emphasis was on Iran’s relationship with Hezbollah, which operates as a state-within-a-state and sometimes eclipses the power of the Lebanese government.
Arriving with an entourage that filled two Boeing 707s, the Iranian president declined to take an official helicopter ride from the airport to the presidential palace in the Beirut suburb of Baabda.
Instead Ahmadinejad opted for a slow-moving convoy of black SUVs that waded through huge roaring crowds waving Iranian flags in the mostly Shiite southern suburbs of Beirut. Hezbollah security forces guarded the way.
Standing through the car’s roof, Ahmadinejad waved at the crowds who showered him with flowers and sweets. Hezbollah took the liberty of canceling grammar school classes in southern Beirut so children could attend.
After the stuffy luncheon with the suits, Ahmadinejad broke free from his official entourage and basked in the adulation of massive crowds in southern Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold.
Referring to Israel, with which Hezbollah fought a war in 2006, he declared: “The illegitimate Zionist regime is a permanent threat to the region and all the world governments.”…
A senior Israeli official: “Lebanon has joined the axis of extreme nations which object to the peace process and support terror,” (Haaretz)
According to Hezbollah’s broadcasting network al-Manar, before departing the country, Ahmadinejad met with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah at the Iranian embassy in Beirut and received a gift from him – the personal weapon of an IDF soldier seized during the Second Lebanon War.
Alex watched it on TV and sent these remarks:
He just made it very clear that Iran and Hezbollah want to erase Israel and establish Palestine “from the sea to the river”
And he wanted nothing less than an independent investigation of 9/11
And he just said that any spark that comes from the Zionist entity will shorten the life of their entity that never stuck by its promises to anyone and that never respected international law .. and “let everyone know that the presence of the Zionist criminal entity on even one foot of Palestine is an encouragement of murder”
He said the solution … the only solution is to recognize the right of return … the return of all the Israeli occupiers to their original countries. Or else … the anger of our people will make them disappear …
And I demand of some of the countries in our region (Moderate Arabs I assume) to understand and to allow its people to support the Palestinian people as they wish to … Any party that tries to normalize with the Israeli entity will be isolated.
Stratfor: From the Syrian point of view, Lebanon is not just a natural extension of Syria; it is the heartland of the Greater Syria province that existed during Ottoman times. Since the days of Phoenicia, what is modern-day Lebanon has been a vibrant trading hub, connecting routes from the east and south to the Mediterranean basin. For Syria to feel like it has any real worth in the region, it must dominate Lebanon.
Ahmadinejad tells Lebanese at rally near Israel border: The Zionists will disappear Haaretz. “Ahmadinejad welcomed by thousands of people in Bint Jbeil, location of heavy fighting during Second Lebanon War, where signs hang praising Iranian president as ‘protector of resistance’.”