Photo: Reuters, Flash90

Iran: will back anyone battling Israel

The reaffirmation of violence came during a visit by the top diplomat of the Islamic Republic to its terrorist proxies in Lebanon.

By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue supporting the Islamic resistance in Lebanon and Palestine,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian proclaimed at a press conference in Beirut.

He went on to declare that Tehran “considers Lebanon’s security” as important as “Iran’s and the region’s security” – effectively insinuating that any attack on Iran would also draw Lebanon into war.

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Secretary General Ziad Al-Nakhala held talks with their patron’s minister in discussion focused on military preparations and activities directed against Israel. The Iranian minister also met with the Lebanese caretaker government, which is effectively controlled by the powerful Hezbollah terror organization.

Tehran’s top diplomat continued on his official tour of the Levant with a stop in Damascus, where he voiced Iran’s pleasure in seeing proactive efforts by Turkey to normalize its relations with Syria via Russian mediation. Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad responded that his nation would not resume normal ties until Ankara endsits “occupation” and “terrorism” by withdrawing its armed forces from the Arab Republic, stressing that, “A meeting between (Syrian President) Mr. President Bashar Al-Assad and the Turkish leadership depends on removing the reasons for the dispute and the disagreements that replaced the agreements based on which Syrian-Turkish relations were built before.”

Amir-Abdollahian wrapped up his tour in Ankara with extensive talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on matters of regional security, chiefly focusing on Syria and Iraq. A final planned meeting in Russia was postponed for as of yet unknown reasons.

Tehran is looking to improve relations between Ankara and Damascus due to efforts to protect its own troops and Shi’ite proxies in Syria, a country it regards as a corridor to the Mediterranean Sea and a territory from which to confront Israel. The Islamic Republic’s mediation role is secondary to that of Russia’s, however. Moscow’s broader interests consider Syria as a gateway to Africa and the Arab world which have so far generally refused Western sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine.

“Our relations with Arab World are on the up. Of course, first of all, in trade-economic relations we should take into consideration illegal sanctions and the agony we witness from those who manage international financial system,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at an annual news conference in Moscow yesterday, adding that the sides have been able to “build new supply chains, which are protected from those colonizers, switch to the payments in national currencies more often.”

Underscoring that past-agreements between Turkey and Russia over Islamist terror groups operating in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Governorate must be maintained, Moscow’s top diplomat express empathy of Ankara’s frustrations over Kurdish militants it considers to be terrorists, who are participating in the United States-led Operation Inherent Resolve that continues to combat the Islamic State (ISIS) in both Syria and Iraq.

“We understand concerns of our Turkish colleagues with this problem. We understand their irritation by the fact that the US, on the contrary, want to use Kurds, firstly, in order to create quasi-governments in the east of Syria and, secondly, to make Kurds follow tasks from Washington,” asserted Lavrov.