Syria and Iran, both of whom publicly aren’t too keen on the idea of foreign countries meddling in the affairs of a sovereign state, continue to foment unrest in Lebanon, and it may be reaching a tipping point. “Possible Eruption of Violent Crisis in Lebanon After July 15,” from MEMRI:
Reports of Syria Instructing its Citizens to Leave Lebanon by July 15
On July 5, 2007, the Iranian news agency IRNA reported that Syrian authorities had instructed all Syrian citizens residing in Lebanon to return to their country by July 15, 2007. The next day, the Israeli Arab daily Al-Sinara similarly reported, on the authority of a Lebanese source close to Damascus, that Syria was planning to remove its citizens from Lebanon. Also on July 5, the Lebanese daily Al-Liwa reported rumors that Syrian workers were leaving Lebanon at the request of the Syrian authorities. In addition, the Syrian government daily Al-Thawra reported that Syrian universities would accept Syrian students who were leaving Lebanon due to the instability there.
These sources offered a number of explanations for Syria’s calls for its citizens to leave Lebanon. IRNA tied these calls to Lebanese President Emil Lahoud’s ultimatum to the Lebanese opposition to decide on how to deal with the crisis in Lebanon, and also claimed that the calls were connected to Syria’s intention to mobilize reserve units in expectation of an attack on it by Israel. On the other hand, the Lebanese daily Al-Liwa tied Syria’s calls to the upcoming additional report by the International Investigation Commission into the Al-Hariri assassination, which is expected next week.
The Lebanese Opposition: After Mid-July, We Will Establish a Second Government in Lebanon
For the past month, senior officials in the Hizbullah-led Lebanese government, as well as Lebanese President Emil Lahoud, have been threatening to establish a second government in Lebanon, or to take “historical” and “strategic” steps that will be announced in due course.
Al-Mustaqbal Warns of Syrian-Iranian Plan for Coup in Lebanon
A series of op-eds in the Lebanese daily Al-Mustabal, by Nusair Al-As’ad, warned of a planned Syrian-Iranian coup in Lebanon. According to these articles, Hizbullah was planning to launch, in the near future, a new stage in the coup being led by Syria and Iran in Lebanon, during which it would use its weapons on the domestic Lebanese front. The threats by the Lebanese opposition to establish a second government in Lebanon were part of this planned coup, and the coup was to be carried out under the banner of establishing a second government.
Change in Iranian Policy: From Preventing Civil War in Lebanon to Adopting Syria’s Position
One of the articles in Al-Mustaqbal asked whether Iran’s involvement in the
Lebanon coup was evidence of a change in Iranian policy, which had previously been that
everything possible must be done to prevent Sunni-Shi’ite civil war in Lebanon. It read: “The dossier of Iranian-Syrian relations, and Iran’s relations with influential Arab countries, has passed entirely into the hands of Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki, and Iranian National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani no longer has anything to do with this issue”¦”
According to the articles, the positions of Larijani – who had previously been in charge of this dossier as the personal envoy of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – had been more flexible, and he had represented the position that Iran’s relations with Lebanon should not depend entirely on Syria. Further, Larijani had even expressed dissatisfaction with the actions of the Syrian regime, and at the fact that “Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad had closed off all horizons for a solution in Lebanon…”
The articles also stated: “A review of recent Iranian activities reveals that lately Iran has not refused any Syrian request”¦ Does Iran’s current backing of a coup in Lebanon [mean] that it has reneged on the January 2007 agreement with Saudi Arabia on the ‘red line'”¦ of [preventing] civil war in Lebanon?…”