As-Safir newspaper reported on Wednesday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has extended his visit to Lebanon until Friday to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is expected to visit Lebanon on Friday.Outside of Hezbollah and its allies, the Lebanese are more than wary about the trip:
As Safir’s report was not confirmed by other dailies in Lebanon, but the paper is known to be closely linked to Iran and Syria.
Several Lebanese politicians and members of civil society issued an open letter to Iran’s president, accusing him on the eve of his official visit to Lebanon of meddling in the country’s affairs.And they have good reason to be:
The letter was signed by some 250 people, among them former MPs close to the Western-backed parliamentary majority, doctors, teachers and journalists. It lashed out at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over Iran’s support of Hezbollah.
“One group in Lebanon draws its power from you … and has wielded it over another group and the state,” said the letter.
“You are repeating what others have done before you by interfering in our internal affairs,” the letter added, referring to Tehran’s financial and military backing of Hezbollah, considered a proxy of Iran.
[H]is trip has sparked criticism among Lebanon’s parliamentary majority who see it as a bid to portray Lebanon as “an Iranian base on the Mediterranean.”Ahmadinejad looks at Lebanon not as an independent country, not as a shining example of co-existence between Christians, Muslims and Druze, not as a small nation under stress for internal divisions and complex political alliances. No, to Iran, Lebanon serves one purpose and one purpose only: as "resistance" against Israel.
Prior to departing Tehran, Ahmadinejad said that the purpose of his visit to strengthen relations with Lebanon.
“Lebanon is the focus point of Resistance and standing against those who demand too much,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying on the state television’s website prior to departing to Lebanon.
It is no surprise that some Palestinian Sunni groups, unlike many of the Lebanese Sunnis, are supporting Ahmadinejad's visit.