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May 14, 2003

Has Iran bartered Hizbullah with US for Iraq-based Iranian opposition group?

Fascinating notion here, picked up by Instapunditfrom
Analysts speaking to Al Bawaba assessed that the main reason behind the recent Lebanese visit of Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami, was to pressure and curb the Lebanese Hizbullah in its struggle with Israel. The visit was also believed to have come following a deal Iran has struck with the US under which the latter will rein in the Iranian rebel group, Mujahideen Khalq, which useed Iraq as a base for its attacks against Iran.

According to analysts, Khatami was in Lebanon to deliver a message to Hizbullah using diplomacy, effectively communicating to them that the era of ‘armed struggle’ has now passed, and that they should be prepared for the anticipated and drastic changes the region will undergo.

The timing of the visit has come at a sensitive and critical stage during which Iran and its ally Syria, which has unparalleled influence in Lebanon, are facing strong US pressure to stop their backing of Hizbullah. This has come in view of the prevailing conditions in the region following the ouster of Saddam Hussein and his regime, US military occupation of Iraq and the US declaration of the ‘roadmap’.

Lebanese journalist and analyst Jubran Twaini said it was very likely that Khatami has asked Hizbullah to restrict their activities on the border with Israel, in accordance with a possible deal that might have been reached between Tehran and Washington.

“I believe Khatami has asked Hizbullah to freeze their activities on the border [with Israel] and wait till things become clearer, especially between the US, Syria and the region as a whole in the wake of the war on Iraq,” Twaini told Al Bawaba.

Twaini went on to say, “I do not rule out the possibility of a deal. The whole region is now open to all kinds of bargains, schemes and counter schemes, proposals and counter proposals.” [more]