There is growing concern among the Lebanese and other Arabs that Iran is planning to exploit the severe political, economic and financial crisis in Lebanon to complete its takeover of the country. Iran already has a political and military presence in Lebanon through its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. Pictured: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with Hassan Nasrallah, head of Hezbollah. (Image source: khamenei.ir)
There is growing concern among the Lebanese and other Arabs that Iran is planning to exploit the severe political, economic and financial crisis in Lebanon to complete its takeover of the country.
Iran already has a political and military presence in Lebanon through its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. The current crisis, however, is likely to facilitate Iran's mission of adding Lebanon to the list of countries it already occupies: Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
For several weeks now, the hashtag "# Lebanon is Collapsing" has been trending on various social media platforms, including Twitter. Many Lebanese and Arabs are using this hashtag to describe the dire economic and financial situation in Lebanon and warn of Iran's ongoing meddling in the internal affairs of the country. They seem to fear that that Iran's mullahs are about to instigate instability and chaos in Lebanon as they have done in Iraq, Yemen and Syria.
"The Lebanese people are dying," commented Lebanese social media user Marianne Mouzaya. "No medicine, no hospitals, no electricity, no water, and an almost non-existent purchasing power."
"Lebanese people feel despair about this situation, and they do not believe that anything good will happen soon," according to Ferhat Tutkal, an international affairs graduate student at the Lebanese American University. "The country suffers from a brain drain, and qualified people leave Lebanon for developed countries that offer a better life. Mass migration is also possible in the future if the crisis continues as it has. Such a situation may affect the balances in the region and cause other problems."
Egyptian writer Ali Masoud believes that the Lebanese have finally realized that Iran and its Hezbollah proxy terrorist group are leading Lebanon toward "humiliation, starvation and an unknown future."
Iraqi political analyst and columnist Farouk Yusef pointed out that "Lebanon today is in its worst phase. For many, there is no Lebanon. A large part of the international community is no longer able to deal with Lebanon as an independent, sovereign state. It is an Iranian protectorate. But Hezbollah sarcastically calls on the world to save Lebanon."
Yusef scoffed at the appeal of some Lebanese leaders to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to rescue Lebanon and said that the request for help should instead be directed to Iran, which is directly responsible for the country's crisis.
"Lebanon will remain deprived of the means of life because Iran, which has tightened its control over the country, is determined to drive it toward annihilation," Yusef wrote. He said that if the Lebanese were aware that Hezbollah was using Lebanon as a launching pad to attack Israel and that they would end up without electricity, water or medicine, they would have preferred that Israel remain in their country.
Roger Edde, a Lebanese lawyer and president of the Lebanese Peace Party, warned that Lebanon will remain a "failed state" as long as it is "occupied" by Iran.
"There is no glimmer of hope in the horizon unless the Security Council declares Lebanon a failed state that is occupied by Iran and its tools," Edde stated.
Echoing the same sentiment, Lebanese social media user Rita Ballan accused Hezbollah of working to "perpetuate the [Iranian] occupation." According to Ballan, Iran and Hezbollah have taken Lebanon back to the stone age, and the Lebanese are now suffering from "isolation, deprivation and humiliation."
Abdel Wahab Badrakhan, a prominent writer and political analyst who previously served as deputy editor of the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat, said that Lebanon has "entered the stage of grave imminent danger, not only because the comprehensive collapse continues politically, economically and socially, but especially because the features of the Iranian takeover of the country are becoming clear and confirmed."
Badrakhan too believes that Iran and its Lebanese supporters have chosen "to prolong the financial-economic crisis to facilitate the handover of Lebanon to Iran."
The international community, he noted, has failed to realize that that Lebanon is about to fall into the hands of Iran.
Saudi writer Mishary Dhayidi holds Iran responsible for the unrest and instability in a number of Arab countries, including Lebanon. "What is happening in Iraq and Lebanon and the decline in public services and infrastructure -- electricity, fuel, food, medicine, security, and the dominance of the militias over the state, is because of the Iranian Khomeinist regime," he wrote.
He warned that the Biden administration needs to take note that the threat of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons was not the only problem.
"Iran is already very dangerous without a nuclear bomb," he argued. "The region is witnessing a state of chaos and agitation by fundamentalist forces, which threaten all Arab countries without exception."
Lebanese journalist Khairallah Khairallah said that Iran is using Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq as "regional cards" to pressure the Biden administration to return to the 2005 Iran nuclear deal and lift the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic by former US President Donald Trump's administration.
"Iran believes that it has its pressure cards and that the US administration should yield to it," Khairallah cautioned. "The question remains how the international community will deal with the Lebanese situation."
When Khairallah and other Arabs talk about the international community, they are specifically referring to the Biden administration.
The Arabs appear clearly worried about the perceived apathy of the US and other Western powers towards Iran's scheme to extend its control to Lebanon. They seem particularly alarmed that Lebanon will meet the same fate as Iraq, Syria and Yemen -- countries that have been riven by years of civil war thanks to Iran's continuous efforts to export terrorism and the "Islamic Revolution" to the Arab countries.
Judging from the remarks of many Arab political analysts and columnists, the message they are sending to the Biden administration is that the mullahs in Tehran are doubly dangerous: they aspire not only to develop nuclear weapons, but also to occupy Arab states.
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.