|By Hanan Alsuraihi| “Hezbollah and the Iranian regional strategy” is considered one of the hottest themes debated today in the Arabic and Islamic world. It focuses on the role of Hezbollah in the Iranian scheme of things.
The Iranian strategy is cloaked in secrecy and disguised in an Islamic dress. It is a project that draws on the intelligence, political skill, publicity and media so as not to raise suspicion about the intentions.
Ayatollah Khomeini’s idea is the creation of a Shiite Crescent, as explained by Abu al-Hassan Bani-Sadr on Al-Jazeera TV in an episode of “Private Visit” titled “The Iranian Revolution, America and the Arabs” on January 17, 2000. According to him, Imam Khomeini wanted to establish a Shi’ite belt spread across Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon so as to dominate the Islamic world. And once he became the master of this belt, he would use oil and the Persian Gulf to dominate the rest of the Islamic world.
The strategy envisaged to penetrate the Arab world from the ideological, political or social point of view. It is the Lebanese Hesbollah’s allegiance to the Wali al-Faqih that brings Iran and Hezbollah together.
The nature of the relationships between Hezbollah and Iran are: First, the religious and political subordination to Iran’s Supreme Leader.
In the founding statement of the party, entitled “Who we are and what is our identity?” dated February 16, 1985, the party identified itself by the following:” We are the sons of Hezbollah nation that God issued its forefront in Iran, and founded the nucleus of the central state of peace in the world. We are committed to the orders of the fair and wise leadership, represented by the Wali al-Faqih, and presently embodied in the Imam Ayatollah Khomeini, who is the protagonist of the Muslim revolution and its glorious renaissance.
Second, the establishment of Hezbollah and its role in the Iranian strategy. The political trend of “Amal Movement” was to follow Syria. For this reason, it was difficult for Iran to dictate its policies on “Amal Movement”. So, Hezbollah was established from Shiite elements that originally belonged to the Amal movement.
“We don’t say that we are a part of Iran; but we are Iran in Lebanon, and Lebanon in Iran. Iran has given a great interest for Hezbollah party, and ensured financial support for it. This financial support was the first and most important factor in attracting fighters into it; especially Shiites, who were relatively poorer at that time.
The Iranian ambassador to Lebanon said in 1984: Lebanon is considered a good hope for the export of the Islamic revolution, and Lebanon now is similar to Iran in 1977. If we work carefully and patiently, by God willing, it will come to our influence. Because Lebanon is located at the heart of the region and is one of the most important global centers, when Lebanon comes to the influence of the Islamic Republic, other countries will follow it.
But, in spite of the political and financial support that Hezbollah receives from Iran, Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah is trying to show some distance. “That does not mean that ours is an Iranian party on a Lebanese land. The Secretary General is Lebanese, and all cadres of the party are Lebanese, and the party exercises its activities on the Lebanese land, defends and offers martyrs for the liberation of the Lebanese land, and all of this clearly shows that the party is Lebanese and not Iranian.”
However, the political understandings reached by Hezbollah with Israel, including that of July 1993 and April 1996, indicate that Hezbollah’s resistance is political in nature and that the relationship between Hezbollah and Iran is on a political and religious plank; as some Lebanese Shiites who represent Hezbollah cadres bound together by Iranian religious and spiritual links consider the Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei to be the biggest religious authority for them. Also, the Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah is called the legitimate agent for Ayatollah Khamenei.
It may be concluded that Hezbollah or the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon is a political, military Shiite organization, which is classified by many Western and Arab countries as a terrorist organization.
What confirms the subordination of Hezbollah to Iran is that the party supports the Houthis in Yemen, like Iran, which has led to the exacerbation of the current crisis in Yemen. Moreover, the arming of the party by Iran enabled it to possess more military assets than the Lebanese state itself, which enabled the party to have a bigger say, and led to the creation of a state within the Lebanese state, leading to political and sectarian problems that are hindering the political process in Lebanon.