Iranian ambassador: Hindering aid to army a disservice to Lebanon

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Iranian ambassador, Mohammed Fathali, meets with Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam in Beirut. (Photo: Al-Akhbar)

By: Hiyam Kossayfi

Published Monday, October 13, 2014

Iranian ambassador to Lebanon, Mohammed Fathali, said whoever objects to his country’s donation to the Lebanese army “does not serve Lebanon’s interest in combating terrorism.” In an interview with Al-Akhbar, he stressed on Iran’s willingness to provide the Lebanese army with unconditional aid as the “first phase” of cooperation between the two sides.

The secretary of the Supreme National Council of Iran, Ali Shamkhani, announced during his recent visit to Beirut Iran’s willingness to provide military aid to the Lebanese army. The military aid, which was welcomed by the Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam, evoked different reactions regarding its significance, the risks that may result from accepting it and concern that it might put Lebanon in a difficult position.

Objections to the military aid came not only from local parties but from international parties as well. Al-Akhbar published information last Friday about Washington’s objection and threats to end US aid to the Lebanese army if Iranian military aid is accepted. Thus, questions have been raised regarding the fate of the Iranian offer in light of the upcoming visit by Lebanese Defense Minister Samir Mokbel to Tehran in order to discuss the offer and the needs of the Lebanese army.

The Iranian ambassador, Mohammed Fathali, told Al-Akhbar Iran offered once again to give Lebanon military aid because it is “concerned for Lebanon and its security, especially that the country is facing a serious crisis today because of terrorism.” He said, “That is why, we believe it is our duty to stand by it and by the countries that belong to the axis of Resistance, to tell them you are not alone in this fight against terrorism. We show our friendship not only emotionally, but practically as well through military aid.”

Fathali added, “All states provide assistance to the army to fight terrorism. We’ve made gains in Iran over the past few years and had tangible achievements that we believe can help the brave Lebanese army.” He stressed that the Iranian donation to the army is “specifically to support its effort in combating terrorism, it is unconditional and there is no quid pro quo.” He explained that the offer that Shamkhani made during his recent visit to Lebanon is “a gift with no conditions attached, therefore it is not a business deal and there are no intermediaries or third parties. It is a donation from one state to another and Iran does not want anything from Lebanon in return.” He pointed out that the Lebanese prime minister “welcomed the donation because it is necessary for Lebanon and its army.”

Regarding military cooperation with the army, the Iranian ambassador said, “We are offering military aid as the first phase in our cooperation with the Lebanese army. We consider it a natural prelude to further cooperation. We will carefully study in the future the army’s military and logistical needs so it will be effective in fighting terrorism.”

As for the nature of the donation and military aid, he said that his country is “willing to provide all the arms and ammunition that Lebanon needs, which are vital for the army. Based on our long experience in fighting terrorism for over three decades in and outside Iran, we know what is needed and we want to give it to Lebanon out of loyalty to the Lebanese army.”

On the possibility of US objection to the Iranian [military] aid he said: “This behavior is part of a policy of double standards in fighting terrorism,” pointing at the US policy of striking terrorist organizations. “We believe that the international coalition has no real intention to combat terrorism which is a cancer afflicting the countries of the region. These countries should unite to confront it. Iran had already predicted the danger posed by terrorism and the terrorist organizations that have committed crimes in Syria and Iraq and are now trying to do the same thing in Lebanon.”

Fathali said “any country that objects to the aid offered by Iran to Lebanon does not serve the Lebanese national interest. Lebanon is going through difficult circumstances and the army needs military support from everybody to be able to confront the terrorists and counter the attacks targeting it. The Lebanese army is a national army that includes all segments and sects of the Lebanese population and it needs support to fight terrorism. It will stand to lose from any country’s objection to assistance offered to it. Imposing any conditions in return for the donations to the army would be illogical.”

On the possibility that the aid might include military vehicles he said, “Some vehicles that can be used to combat terrorism could be on the list. We know Lebanon’s needs and we know what we want to donate because our goal is one and that is fighting terrorism.”

On the timing of delivering the aid, the ambassador confirmed that “the Iranian donation is ready. If the legal framework is available, we are ready to provide it immediately. Lebanon needs urgent help and the weapons and ammunition we have are ready. All we need is to transfer them to the army. When Lebanon says that it is ready to accept them, we will immediately hand them over. This aid, however, must not be delayed because of the serious nature of the threats facing Lebanon.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

Instead of the US intimidating and opposing Iran's unconditional, generous offer, why does it not just offer more arms to Lebanon? Whose side is America on, Lebanon or the terrorists?

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