Hezbollah Drone Another Example Of Iran Exerting Regional Influence

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Article Summary
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced last week that the group was responsible for a drone that flew over large parts of Israel before being shot down. Rosana Bou Mouncef writes how Hezbollah’s Iranian-made drone launch is just the latest example of Iran’s influence in the region, despite of Iran's growing domestic troubles.

Political observers are trying to understand the message behind the statement of Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

In his last address, Nasrallah confirmed that the drone — which was sent to Israel — was made in Iran and assembled by his party’s members. The question is no longer related to whether or not Hezbollah is receiving military and financial support from Iran, or whether or not Iran is trying to increase its presence along the Lebanese-Israeli border and exert more influence in the region. In fact, Iran and Hezbollah are playing their cards openly in Lebanon, without making any efforts to hide their game.

The drone was sent to Israel one month after the statement of the commander of Iran’s [Islamic] Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Sept. 16. In his statement, the IRGC commander confirmed that members of the Quds Force were present in Lebanon and Syria.

At an earlier stage, the military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Guide, Maj. Gen. Yahya Safavi, also made a statement in which he asserted that Lebanon and Syria represented Iran’s strategic depth. As it seems, any subsequent development that might occur later on would be the result of such positions.

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It is not clear whether or not Iran’s declared support for Hezbollah helps Iranian officials to justify one of the main reasons behind the current economic and financial downturn. In fact, such support increases Iran’s regional presence.

In other words, Iran’s assistance — whether provided to Hezbollah or any other party outside Iran — is not a waste at all.

However, concerned observers believe that the message Iran wants to convey is related to several issues. First, Iran wants to confirm openly that it has become the perfect substitute for the Syrian regime in Lebanon, mainly as the Syrian regime is no longer capable of maintaining guardianship over Lebanon.

Second, Iranian support [given to Hezbollah] serves Iran’s main interests, whether such interests are related to the Iranian nuclear issue or to Iran’s regional influence. Moreover, Lebanon constitutes an arena that is very vulnerable to any developments in Iran and Syria. In fact, Lebanon is an integral part of the Iranian-Syrian system, which is united against any battle targeting Iran.

Several observers believe Iran exerted its presence and established influence in Lebanon prior to the Syrian revolution, evidenced by the downfall of Saad Hariri’s government.

However, Iran was recently compelled to confirm its interests in Lebanon, explicitly and without any equivocation. Iran’s statements showed that Tehran held several bargaining cards. Iran’s recent message addresses both Arab countries and the international community, and pertains to every affair that concerns Iran.

In addition, the “drone” incident confirms Hezbollah and Iran’s increasing power at a time when both countries face difficult challenges.

Concerning the timing, Israel is today facing several threats from Iran and Hezbollah, mainly after Hezbollah’s drone flew over Israel’s nuclear reactors. In parallel, Iran is also facing several threats concerning its nuclear activities.

It seems there is a tug-of-war between Israel and Iran. Moreover, Nasrallah’s statement on the drone includes several implied messages, which focus on Iran’s regional defense strategy rather than Lebanon’s defense strategy. However, the political equation might not change because of Syrian developments and the possible downfall of the Syrian regime.

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Found in: syrian crackdown, syrian, security, lebanese-israeli relations, israel, iranian foreign policy, iran, hezbollah in lebanon, hezbollah, hassan nasrallah
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