Thursday, December 13, 2007

Iran's Supreme Leader Fires Hezbollah's Military Chief

If you had any illusions about who really runs Hezbollah, this story should dispel them. The London-based pan-Arabic daily newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Thursday that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah (photo left) has been removed as head of Hezbollah's military wing. His replacement by his deputy, Sheikh Naim Qasim, was ordered by none other than Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei (photo right). The story in the Saudi-owned newspaper was cited by YNet, the Jerusalem Post and in Lebanon's Daily Star. The latter news outlet also carries a denial by Hezbollah of the report of Nasrallah's removal, which to my mind only increases the reliability of the al-Sharq al-Awsat story.

The Daily Star report adds these tidbits:

The Saudi-owned daily said that the alleged decision was taken in light of a report presented by a team from the intelligence apparatus of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards that had visited Lebanon to assess the status of Hizbullah's military and its capabilities.

The newspaper quoted what it said was a Revolutionary Guards officer in the Bekaa Valley as saying that Nasrallah and Qassem were "at odds" about a number of "crucial issues related to the party's military wing ... which led Khamenei's office to interfere in order to reorganize Hizbullah's command structure."

The unidentified source said Hizbullah's annual budget of $400 million was raised to over $1 billion in the past 18 months to compensate for losses during the 2006 war. According to the Saudi daily, Khamenei assigned a team comprising major officers of the Revolutionary Guards to restructure the party's military branch in light of the team's recommendations.

Please keep in mind that former Senator John Edwards, currently seeking the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, recently condemned Hillary Clinton in a debate for her Senate vote in favor of a declaration that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are a terrorist organization. Edwards described the Revolutionary Guards as a "military unit." One supposes in light of the ties of Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards that Hezbollah also is just a "military unit," not a terrorist organization.

In any event, anyone who tries to tell you that Hezbollah is a Lebanese nationalist group, as opposed to a puppet of Iran and Syria, is either a liar or a dupe.


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