Iran: The Great Puppet Meister

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Iran , once again, snubbed its nose directly at the face of the United States this week, again flexing its muscles and showing that they are pulling the strings, not only in the Middle East, but in the capital of the free Western world.

Just as Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon, was meeting in the Oval Office with President Barack Obama on Wednesday, 10 Hizbullah members of his coalition government resigned,  along with them another minister, sympathetic to Hizbullah. Stealing the drama from Washington, Lebanese television broadcast a live press conference from Beirut in which the Hizbullah ministers informed the Lebanese people of the collapse of the government, and requested that the Lebanese President Michel Suleiman immediately chose a new Sunni leader to replace Harari. (According to Lebanese law, the prime minister must be Sunni).

President Suleiman immediately turned around and requested that Hariri be placed in charge of the caretaker government. Sunday, however, General Michel Aoun, who controls the powerful Change and Reform block of the Parliament, said that the continued premiership of Saad Hariri will never be accepted.

The key backdrop to all of this drama, of cours, is the February 14, 2005 assassination of Saad’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Harari.  Syria had been initially implicated in the assassination, but a Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has been appointed, and as the evidence was beginning to mount that Hizbullah was behind the assassination, Iran decided to call the shots and tell Hizbullah to withdraw from the government.

And as we all know, Hizbullah rarely acts on its own, but rather upon on orders from Tehran. Unusual, however, is that this order for the Hizbullah initiated collapse of the Lebanese government came directly from none other than the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who rarely addresses internal Lebanese matters. During a December meeting with the Emir of Qatar in December, the Supreme Leader was quoted as saying, “This tribunal is receiving orders from elsewhere, and whatver ruling it hands down is null and void.”

Not since the pages of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, has there been such high family drama with global implications.  One cannot envy the position of Saad Harari. As it became increasingly clear that the tribunal would implicate Hizballah in the death of his father, Hariri has been under increasing pressure to claim that the results of the STL were a fraud.

Further complicating and foreshadowing this Lebanese theater, is the Sunni Shiite conflict.  For the past several weeks, as Iran has been exerting its influence to suppress the result of the tribunal, the Sunni nations of Saudi Arabia and Syria have been exerting more of their own power onto Lebanese soil. Both nations have asserted that they want to see the results of the STL made public, with the obvious motive of embarrassing their Muslim rival, Iran.

It is now not only apparent that Iran wanted to exert its control by calling for the collapse of the government to sabotage the results of the STL, but to steal the stage and to say that the real action in this drama is not in Damascus or Riyadh, or even in Washington, DC, but actually in Tehran. Saad Hariri might be sitting in the oval office, but it is Tehran that is pulling the strings by creating the real drama on the ground in Beirut.

It is widely felt in the Middle East, that the Obama administration has not shown much support for the voice of democracy, and has cared little for the dissidents of the March 14th movement,  although Secretary of State Clinton did signal what one hopes will become a welcome reversal of that in her address in Qatar.  Meanwhile, however,  the Hizbullah thugs have produced a very fragile situation in Lebanon that can easily spin out of control.

For the sake of international justice, as well as to exert control of the situation, taking it out of the hands of the Persian Puppet Meister with his hegemonic and genocidal ambitions,  The United States and the West should once and for all take matters into their own hands and call for an immediate release of the results of the release of the tribunal’s findings.  Failure to do so will only increase a greater feeling of Iranian ascendancy in the Middle Eastern theater, as well as that of its terrorist puppet, Hizbullah.

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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