Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (L), Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah (C), and Commander of Iran’s Quds Force Qassem Soleimani pose for a photo, undated. (khamenei.ir)

By Tom Rogan

December 13, 2019

With telling embarrassment, Iran is rowing back comments made by an adviser to the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The problem? The adviser inadvertently admitted that Iran values Lebanon only as its puppet.

Speaking on Monday, retired Gen. Morteza Qorbani told an Iranian news outlet that Iran did not need to use ballistic missiles in Iran to effectively attack Israel. Instead, Qorbani said, if “the Zionist regime makes the smallest mistake toward Iran, we will reduce Tel Aviv to ashes from Lebanon.”

That sparked quick pushback in Lebanon, even from Iran’s allies there. On Wednesday, a top Revolutionary Guard spokesperson blamed the media for misrepresenting the adviser’s clear words. Qorbani, the spokesman added, “meant to speak of response to Israel by possible various means and capacities.” In addition, in an amusing attempt to distance themselves from Qorbani, the Revolutionary Guard claimed that he “is not an adviser to the IRGC commander at present.”

If that’s not rowing back, I don’t know what is.

So, what’s going on here? Why are Iranian hardliners who revel in making threats to destroy Israel now distancing themselves from Qorbani? The problem is that he said something that is supposed to go unspoken.

Iran is desperate to counter knowledge of its quiet, malevolent presence in Lebanon and the control it exercises there. It’s a very timely concern too. Like Iraq, Lebanon is currently aflame with mass protests against Iranian cronyism and interference. Furious that Iran has restrained their nations from improving so as to use Lebanon as a base for the Khomeinist revolution, these protesters are demanding a new technocratic government be formed.

That’s a big problem for Iran. After all, were technocrats to replace Iranian cronies in running Lebanon, Tehran would lose its Western base and its access to the Levant and Mediterranean Sea.

That takes us back to Qorbani. By threatening to launch missiles from Lebanon against Israel, Qorbani has openly stated that Iran cares nothing for Lebanese sovereignty and prospective democracy and only for that nation’s utility as a vehicle for its proxy wars. Iran’s big problem: Qorbani’s honesty proves from the regime’s own mouth that those taking to the streets in Lebanon are in the right.

Let us hope the people of Lebanon, Iraq, and the broader Middle East pay heed to Iran’s rare offer of truth.

The Washington Examiner

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.