Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to make his first official visit to Lebanon as Iranian President on Wednesday, October 13, and local politicians see the visit as a message to Israel, the U.S. and the Palestinian Authority. The politicians' statements appear to confirm Israel's concerns regarding the visit.
Official Iranian news agency IRNA reported that Lebanese politician Wiam Wahab had expressed hope that the timing of Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon would "encourage the regional countries to support the resistance against the Zionist regime, especially at the present time when the Palestinian Authority and Israel are going back to direct talks."
According to a report in CNN, Lebanon's National News Agency quoted Fares Souaid, Secretary-General of Lebanon's "March 14 Alliance," as saying that Ahmadinejad's visit sends "a message that means to say that Iran is at the border of Israel! ... While the Palestinians and Israelis are negotiating, the Iranian president wants to stress that Lebanon is a land where resistance is exercised and war against Israel is possible. He wants to remind the international community that Israel's security is in the hands of Iran through its relations with Hamas and Hizbullah – and hence, he says to the world, you must negotiate with us."
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a one-day official visit to Tehran on Saturday, where he met with Ahmadinejad and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran's Press TV reported that Ahmadinejad reportedly told Assad that the "current regional situation is changing in favor of regional nations.”
Ahmadinejad also awarded Assad with Iran's highest national medal "for his resistance against arrogant powers, defense of the rights of the Palestinian and Lebanese nations, and his key role in the stability and tranquility of regional countries.”
Syria: Only Turkey Can
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Sunday that only Turkey can act as an intermediary in any negotiations between Syria and Israel. "Turkey has shown itself to be an honest broker,” he said. “Indirect talks must therefore be under Turkish mediation, and begin in Turkey at the point where they stopped" in December 2008. Talks broke off when Israel launched a counter-terror offensive against Gaza after Gaza Arabs fired thousands of missiles at Israeli civilians. Turkey supported the flotilla launching
that attempted to run the Israeli blockage of Gaza. The blockade is a legal means to prevent weapons from arriving to Gaza by sea. Israel stopped the flotilla vessels, and when its soldiers were attacked by the "pacifists" aboard one of the ships, a melee ensued in which nine of the passengers were killed..