Lebanon’s new president pledges loyalty to Iran, threatens Israel

by WorldTribune Staff, November 2, 2016

In his first act as Lebanon’s new president, Michael Aoun declared his loyalty to Iran and issued a chilling threat to Israel.

In his inaugural speech on Oct. 31, Aoun said that “in the conflict with Israel, we will not spare any effort or resistance to liberate what remains of occupied Lebanese land.”

Michel Aoun. /EPA
Michel Aoun. /EPA

The 81-year-old Aoun, a retired general with strong ties to Iran’s Lebanese proxy army Hizbullah, was chosen by Lebanon’s parliament after four rounds of voting, ending a political standoff during which the presidency was vacant or over two years.

“The Lebanese state is in such a dire situation that it does not matter who the president is or what he promises. The Lebanese state is weak, its president irrelevant, its agencies corrupt and its debt overwhelming,” wrote NOW analyst Hussan Abdul-Hussain.

“No matter what Aoun says in his inaugural speech, or any other speech, Hizbullah is the force that has the final word on every Lebanese issue, domestic or foreign. Aoun only gives Hizbullah’s de facto policies an official state blessing.”

The turning point in the vote came when former Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri, leader of the mainly Sunni Future Movement, agreed to support Aoun, apparently in return for being re-appointed prime minister, The Tower reported.

Aoun also indicated that he wants Lebanon to operate independently from the Arab League, which analysts said was an overt reference to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi-Lebanese relations deteriorated in January after Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who is Aoun’s son-in-law, failed to vote for a motion that condemned Iranian attacks on Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic missions in Iran.

The ransacking of the Saudi diplomatic missions was condemned by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but Bassil would not fall in line, likely causing the cancellation of a $4 billion military aid package from Saudi Arabia.

Aoun vowed to increase bilateral cooperation with the Syrian government on issues like “fighting terrorism,” which is, in the view of the Assad regime, fighting Sunni opponents of the regime.