Iran Victorious in Lebanon’s Presidential Election
A week after Lebanon’s election, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met with Lebanon’s newly appointed Christian president, Michel Aoun. The November 7 meeting points to the close bond between the fledgling president and his Shiite allies. Zarif is the first foreign minister to meet with the new president.
Iran’s hasty visit underscores the importance of the Iranian-Lebanese alliance. The smiles on Zarif’s face also show the election victory was as much a win for Iran as it was for Aoun.
Iran is happy to have secured such a close friend at the top of Lebanon’s political structure. Aoun is a close ally of Iran’s terrorist group, Hezbollah. He is also a political ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and an opponent of Saudi Arabia.
Win for Hezbollah
Hezbollah has an impressive military of around 45,000 fighters; 21,000 of whom are in active service. Despite this, its political efforts are curtailed by a power-sharing system dating back to 1943. These unwritten laws require the president to be a Christian, the prime minister to be a Sunni, and the speaker of the house to be a Shiite. Such guidelines hamper Shiite Hezbollah’s political rise.
But the election of Aoun promotes a close friend of Hezbollah to the helm and simultaneously extends Hezbollah extra influence in the nation’s political sphere.
Aoun shocked many analysts when he brokered an alliance with Hezbollah in 2006, laying aside old rivalries and opening up the possibility of a relationship with enemies who once threatened to assassinate him.
Aoun’s election broke a 2 1/2-year gridlock but didn’t come without compromise. It came only after he was endorsed by Saad Hariri, the leader of Lebanon’s main Sunni bloc in parliament. Hariri subsequently received a tap on the shoulder by Aoun to become prime minister and form the next parliament.
While Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah did not endorse Hariri, he said Hezbollah would not oppose the election.
Hezbollah has survived under Hariri’s rule in the past. Hariri and his Sunni power bloc have long been sponsored by Saudi Arabia. But in 2011, Hariri was ousted as prime minister. The Wall Street Journal described the moment as a “turning point in Hezbollah’s rise in Lebanese politics.” Since that time, Hezbollah has grown stronger militarily and politically, and Saudi Arabia’s power has waned. Ipso facto, Hariri lacks the power he once wielded over the terrorist group and could be at its mercy.
Furthermore, Hezbollah is now the most powerful faction in parliament. A Hariri government will automatically be hamstrung by Hezbollah’s control of the cabinet. As the New York Post puts it, “Lebanon, in other words, is now the fiefdom of Nasrallah and, by proxy, Iran.”
Win for Assad
Another of Iran’s allies, Bashar Assad, is also an ally of Lebanon’s new president. But that wasn’t always the case. Aoun fled Lebanon in 1990, fearing assassination by Assad’s father. As general, Aoun had been the major threat to the Syrian occupying forces. But Aoun returned to the nation in 2005, the schism well and truly healed.
As a former general, Aoun holds great sway over the Lebanese military. For Assad, this means a relatively safe border to his west, as well as more pressure on Sunni rebels who travel between the two nations.
For the last 2 1/2 years, Lebanon’s presidential palace has remained unoccupied, leaving Assad with a degree of uncertainty. A pro-Sunni government could make life easier for Sunni rebels, or even provide safe haven during the ongoing civil war.
With Aoun’s election, Assad can rest easy for the foreseeable future.
Win for Iran
Strengthening both Hezbollah and Assad is key to Iran’s regional aspirations. Just as important is diminishing Saudi Arabia’s power and influence. The new Lebanese president looks set to aid Iran in both fields.
In 2008, there was another political reconciliation. Like today, Hezbollah was imbued with greater power: power of veto in the government. In the August 2008 Trumpet article “Iran Conquered Lebanon … Now What?”, editor in chief Gerald Flurry and managing editor Joel Hilliker wrote:
What occurred in Lebanon was nothing less than a bleak surrender by Lebanon’s Western-backed governing coalition—and a major victory for the Hezbollah terrorist group and its primary sponsor, Iran.
That the United States, the United Nations and others pretended it was anything else is a measure of their own capitulation to Iran.
With the sway of war going Iran’s way in Syria, an ongoing struggle in Yemen, continued participation in the Iraqi conflict, and the ever present possibility of war with Israel, Aoun’s political victory is just the latest event to boost Iran’s power in the region.
The Trumpet has long been highlighting Middle East happenings—particularly the P5+1 nuclear deal—that have led to Iran’s growing hegemony in the region. As Iran grows in power and influence, we see events moving closer and closer to the fulfillment of major Bible prophecies. One such prophecy found in Daniel 11 concerns the king of the south. It includes Europe’s reaction to Iranian belligerence—the rise of the king of the north.
While many commentators acknowledge current events in the region, few acknowledge the fact that these headlines match what is written in the world’s bestseller—the Bible. The Trumpet strives to deliver a warning that few choose to accept. Simultaneously, the free books, booklets, magazines, radio and television programs we produce point to the good news that comes beyond the events we see today.
What will Iran’s conquest of Lebanon lead to? As that 2008 article concluded:
God wants us to know that just before Christ’s return will be a time when prophecy will be very specific and detailed. … And when we see Iran’s continual pushing, though it is bad news, it will lead to this greatest event ever to occur in the universe: the return of Jesus Christ!
If you want to know more about what the Bible says will soon happen in the Middle East and how it will affect you, read our free booklet The King of the South.