February 11, 2019
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced during a visit to Beirut on Sunday that his country was ready to equip the Lebanese army.
The minister said such a proposal has been made at several occasions and that Tehran “is waiting for Lebanon to show a desire to accept its military assistance.”
Zarif expressed satisfaction with his visit to Lebanon on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
Heading a high-ranking delegation, the Iranian foreign minister landed in Beirut on Sunday for a two-day visit aimed at holding talks with Lebanese officials.
“It is an honor for us that we have always stood with the nations of the region, especially the Lebanese people. We are standing with the Lebanese people and are ready to expand our cooperation in various fields of mutual interest,” he said.
Zarif’s comments came a few days after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said he was ready to secure air defense systems for the Lebanese army from Iran to confront Israeli warplanes.
Such a proposal was made in 2014. But no progress has been made to date.
Anti-Hezbollah observers and officials have continuously warned against accepting Iranian military assistance, saying it could possibly lead to sanctions on the Lebanese state and the army, and have ramifications on Beirut’s relations with Arab states and the West.
Sources close to President Michel Aoun shied away from revealing Lebanon’s official stance from Zarif’s offer.
They told Asharq Al-Awsat that Lebanese officials should wait for the details of Tehran’s pledge to assist the Lebanese army before making any official announcement.
Former MP Ammar Houri, political adviser to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, told Asharq Al-Awsat that in principle, there is no problem in discussing any offer to support Lebanon, on two conditions.
“First, the offer should not affect Lebanon’s sovereignty and second, it should not put us in trouble with other countries,” he said.