Iran is attempting to draw Lebanon into a conflict with the U.S. and Israel and is priming the Hezbollah militia to assault the Jewish state in the event of an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities, Lebanon’s Druze leader Walid Jumblatt said in an interview.
“Lebanon is being used by the Iranians as a front which could be used if the Americans retaliate against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Lebanon is now entangled in a greater axis. It is no longer independent,” said Jumblatt, speaking to WND’s Aaron Klein and ABC Radio’s John Batchelor on Batchelor’s national radio program for which Klein serves as a co-host.
[Listen to Jumblatt interview.]
Jumblatt is the head of Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party and is largely considered the most prominent anti-Syrian Lebanese politician. He said Syria and Iran have formed an alliance against the U.S. and have the past year tightened their collective grip on Lebanon.
“The Syrians feel at ease because of the Iranian connections. [Syria-appointed Lebanese President Amil] Lahoud is much more confident because of the alliance with the Iranians. The borders between Lebanon and Syria are open. Syria is smuggling [into Lebanon] weapons, ammunition and fighters. Hezbollah too is the best to destabilize Lebanon against independence,” said Jumblatt.
Syria last April withdrew tens of thousands of troops it maintained in Lebanon, announcing it was ending its nearly 30-year occupation of the country. The withdrawal was considered a result of mounting international pressure following the assassination in February 2005 of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, for which Damascus was widely blamed.
But there has been a steady stream of reports Syrian intelligence agents continue to operate in Lebanon. Syrian and Lebanese intelligence agents have been blamed for a series of bombings and political assassinations that have rocked Lebanon since Hariri’s murder.
Jumblatt said he was unsure of the extent of Syria’s intelligence network in Lebanon. He called Lebanese President Lahoud a “Syrian agent, just a puppet of [Syrian President Bashar] Assad.”
He blasted the international community for “dropping the ball on pressuring Syria” the past few months.
“We heard a lot of talk about pressuring Syria last year, but have not seen much lately,” said Jumblatt. “You have to ask for Bashar [Assad] to go then maybe Lahoud might go. … I don’t see it possible to change [Syria’s] behavior without changing the regime.”
Jumblatt warned together with Syria the Tehran regime has been funneling money and weapons to Hezbollah to use against Israel and American interests in the event of an attack against Iran’s nuclear sites.
Hezbollah reportedly maintains between 12,000 and 16,000 conventional short- and long-range missiles pointed at Israel’s northern border, including missiles capable of striking the civilian and industrial heartland of the Jewish state. Security officials say Hezbollah has recently been able to obtain antiaircraft missiles.
Israel and United Nations observers have noticed a buildup of Hezbollah militants along the Israeli-Lebanese border the past month. Israeli security officials last month warned Hezbollah was looking to kidnap Israeli civilians and soldiers and escalate violence along the border.
Jumblatt’s statements concerning Hezbollah come in the wake of a report in London’s Daily Telegraph stating Iranian Revolutionary Guard units are now deployed at Hezbollah posts along the Israeli border and are developing an advanced intelligence-gathering network for spying on the Jewish state.
A senior Israeli Defense Forces commander told the Telegraph that Hezbollah posts fortified by Iran are “now Iran’s frontline with Israel. The Iranians are using Hezbollah to spy on us so that they can collect information for future attacks. And there is very little we can do about it.”