Report: Hizbullah preparing to take over Lebanon

Tuesday, January 18, 2011   E-Mail this story   Free Headline Alerts

JERUSALEM Iran is working through Hizbullah to orchestrate a takeover in Lebanon, a report said.

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs said the collapse of the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri could mark the first step of a Hizbullah takeover of Lebanon. In a report, the center warned that without a government, Hizbullah could exploit any unrest in the country.

"Hizbullah has also produced a fragile situation that could easily get out of control," the report, titled "Countdown to a New Lebanon Crisis." said. "Under present conditions, even an unimportant incident could spark a major political firestorm in the streets of Beirut that will bring about the complete collapse of Lebanon's central government."

[On Jan. 17, the prosecutor of the Special Tribunal in Lebanon relayed a draft indictment to an international judge. An STL statement said the indictment would be kept secret for up to 10 weeks until Judge Daniel Fransen would decide on the case.]

Iran was said to have been bolstering Hizbullah with military capability to take over Lebanon. Authored by Israeli analyst Shimon Shapira, the report said Iran regarded Lebanon as a key element in Teheran's expansionist policy.

"The present situation Hizbullah has created marks the beginning of the countdown to a much bigger crisis that will enable both Hizbullah and its Iranian sponsors to complete their takeover of the Lebanese state," the report said.

Teheran has continued to dominate Hizbullah and decides on both military and political issues, the report said. Shapira said the West has underestimated Iran's role in Hizbullah decisions.

The report said the Hizbullah withdrawal from the Hariri government marked an Iranian message to the United States. The Iranian leadership has sought to demonstrate Teheran's domination of Lebanon and other areas of the Middle East.

"Iran is signaling to the Obama administration, and to the West as a whole, that the main political developments in Lebanon are being decided today in Teheran and not in Washington," the report said.

"Failure to respond to this Iranian-sponsored provocation will only invite further adventurism on the part of the regime in Teheran elsewhere in the region, as it seeks to further establish its hegemony in the Middle East."

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