Hariri announced his suprise resignation on November 4, 2017, in a televised speech. "AFP"
By: Shahriar Kia (Political analyst)
The waning power of Iran and Hezbollah
The recent resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri dealt a serious blow to the Lebanese Hezbollah and its Iranian masters.
Hariri, who declared the decision in Riyadh last Saturday, cited Iranian influence across the region and threats to his life if he remained at the helm of the government. His resignation came on the heels on a thwarted assassination attempt against him in Beirut. Hariri’s father, Rafiq, was assassinated by the Hezbollah in 2005.
This will put an end to a year-long campaign that had seen the Iranian regime further its evil ends through Hezbollah and its political clout.
Quite unsurprisingly, the Iranian regime reacted by calling Hariri’s resignation a Saudi-backed plot and accused Riyadh of having taken the Lebanese Premier as hostage, which is ironic coming from a state that has taken the entire Lebanese politics hostage for the past year.
11 months ago, after two years of impasse, a government was assembled in Lebanon which granted premiership to Hariri but effectively gave political and military sway to Hezbollah.
This had given Iran a seemingly legitimate political façade to increase its violent meddling in the country and to boost its intervention in neighboring Syria, where it has been propping up the Assad regime against democratic opposition forces.
Without Hariri, the entire Iran-backed government loses its legitimacy and its real nature becomes clear to everyone.
But what makes this especially significant is that it takes place against the backdrop of other setbacks Tehran is facing on the international front, it will put a serious strain on the regime’s plots in the region.
The U.S. Congress recently ratified three measures against Hezbollah by voice vote and without opposition. The US Congress passed resolutions slap sanctions against the group for its use of defenseless civilians as human shields and target Hezbollah’s international financial sources.
A third resolution calls on the European Union to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist entity. The U.S. placed the Hezbollah in its list of foreign terrorist organizations in 1997.
Hezbollah, which was founded and nurtured by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), has been Tehran’s main implement in its regional forays in the past four decades. It is responsible for carrying out many terrorist attacks against Iran’s opponents and has also played an active role in on fighting on Iran’s behalf Syria.
Another very important factor is the change of the wider international stance toward Iran. Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump declared Washington’s new Iran policy, which is in stark contrast to that of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon's militant Shiite movement Hezbollah, giving a televised address during a gathering in Beirut's southern suburb
Tehran had widely taken advantage of the Obama administration’s penchant for rapprochement to obtain economic and political incentives.
This included billions of dollars’ worth of sanctions relief under the contested deal that was aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions and block its path to obtaining nuclear weapons. It also enabled Tehran to get a free pass on its meddling in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon.
The new administration’s policy will adopt a multi-pronged approach that will counter the multitude of threats the Iran poses to regional and global peace and security.
This included imposing new sanctions against the IRGC and designating it as a terrorist organization.
The IRGC is responsible for Iran’s nuclear program, its ballistic missile development, coordinating its regional agendas and the crackdown on domestic dissenters and opposition members. The IRGC is the arm that funds and arms Iran’s proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen. Stricter sanctions will make it considerably more difficult for the entity to carry out those functions.
With the IRGC constrained and its tendrils such as Hezbollah losing their political and financial power, Iran will be hard-pressed to exert its evil influence in neighboring countries.
The direct impact of this waning regional power is being reflected inside Iran, where the regime is also losing its grip on power.
The Iranian people are becoming bolder in voicing their protests against the ruling regime and voicing their support for Maryam Rajavi who leads the Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The tides are turning, and the Iranian regime is on the losing end.