On first official visit, Iran’s acting FM vows to support ‘stability’ in Lebanon

The Cardle, June 3, 2024 — 

Tehran has repeatedly offered to alleviate Lebanon’s energy crisis despite continued obstruction from Washington.

Iran’s acting Foreign Minister, Ali Bagheri Kani, visited Lebanon on 3 June, marking his first official diplomatic visit since the death of his predecessor, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in a helicopter crash last month.

IRNA news agency reported that Bagheri Kani would visit Lebanon, followed by Syria, “to meet with the two countries’ officials as well as the officials of the resistance front to discuss ways to counter [Israel].”

In a joint press conference with his Lebanese counterpart Abdullah Bou Habib, Bagheri Kani praised “close relations” between the two countries. 

“We agreed that all countries in the region, especially the Islamic countries, should adopt a joint movement in order to counter Israeli aggression and protect the Palestinian people, especially in Rafah,” he said, adding that “resistance is the basis for stability in the region.” 

Bou Habib said the two countries share a “common vision” about the dangers posed by the continuation of Israel’s war on Gaza and said Beirut is looking for “sustainable solutions that restore calm and stability to southern Lebanon,” which has also been under heavy Israeli bombardment. 

Bagheri Kani expressed “sincere thanks” to Lebanon for its sympathies following the crash that killed Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Amir-Abdollahian, and other top officials on 19 May. 

He also vowed that Iran’s goal for Lebanon is “peace and stability.” 

“At various historical stages and in light of all developments, there has always been continuous consultation and cooperation between officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran and officials in the Lebanese Republic … The Islamic Republic of Iran has always aimed to support stability, safety, security and progress in Lebanon and has spared no effort,” he added

In 2021, in the wake of the severe economic and energy crisis that had hit Lebanon, Hezbollah began bringing Iranian fuel into the country to help alleviate shortages.

In a bid to prevent Iranian support for Lebanon, Washington proposed a plan to provide the country with Egyptian gas through Jordan and Syria. However, the US never issued the necessary sanctions waivers for the companies and states involved to be exempt from US Caesar Act sanctions against Damascus. 

Since then, Iran has continued to make offers to assist Lebanon with fuel and electricity. In 2023, Tehran renewed its declaration of willingness to construct power plants in the country. 

US political pressure has continued to obstruct efforts for Iranian-Lebanese cooperation in this regard. 

In November 2022, Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar revealed that then-US ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea had pressured Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati to trick the country into thinking that an Iranian–Lebanese agreement made in August that year would be ratified – when, in fact, Washington had no intention of allowing the delivery. 

Mikati had been aware of the US stance “but decided to play along and ‘fool the Lebanese ministry of energy and Iranian officials,’” Al-Akhbar said at the time. 

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