07/10/2024, 19.42
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Pezeshkian and Iran key to Gaza truce and Lebanon’s presidential election

by Fady Noun

Iran’s supreme leader and Revolutionary Guards set the limits of foreign and regional policy. Lebanon’s main resistance group, Hezbollah, is linked to the Guards. However, for analyst Haddad, “Hamas accepted the ceasefire in Gaza with the approval of the Iranians.” Choosing a reformist, opens the door to dialogue in a “different atmosphere”.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Massoud Pezeshkian, the first reformist to become Iran's president since 2005, has promised to extend "the hand of friendship to everyone".

Although the final say remains the prerogative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the country's real strongman, can this change of tone at the top of the Islamic Republic lead to real political consequences for Lebanon, knowing that in politics, there are no gifts, only convergences of interests?

Basically, Pezeshkian's election "is a message to the West that Iran does not want war but wants to restart nuclear talks," said Scarlett Haddad, who is close to the circles concerned. At the same time, the regime is taking n some of the internal popular dissatisfaction," she added.

“I think it's intentional. After all, the Council of Guardians, which vets all candidacies, approved his candidacy against seven conservatives."

Without saying so, she believes that this was a way to give the reformist candidate an advantage by splitting the conservative vote among different competitors.

It is known that during the campaign, Massoud Pezeshkian promised to negotiate directly with the United States to resume the Iranian nuclear talks, which have been stalled since in 2018 when Washington pulled out from the international agreement signed in 2015.

However, the possibilities for the new leader will largely depend on the outcome of the US presidential election in November.

“In the event of Donald Trump's return to power in the United States, his advisers have already made it known that they will reimpose a policy of 'maximum pressure' on Iran," said Thierry Coville, an Iran researcher at IRIS,[*] a French geopolitical think tank.

Impact on Lebanon’s presidential election?

Will Pezeshkian's victory have an impact on Lebanon's presidential election? Scarlett Haddad is sceptical.

"I don't think so," she said, since the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and the Revolutionary Guards define Iran’s military, foreign, and regional policy issues.

However, we know that Hezbollah, which has just received a message of support from the new Iranian president, is directly linked to the ideological army of the Islamic Republic.

"Support for the resistance is rooted in the fundamental policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran," the expert writes.

But in Beirut, some believe that if Iran wants to boost its international image, it is not impossible that this desire for openness will extend to the Lebanese issue by seeking to improve relations with Saudi Arabia and the Arab League, aware that Saudi Arabia and Egypt, on the Arab side, as well as the United States, France, and the Vatican, have been working for months in a joint committee, the "quintet", to move this file forward, which has been blocked since October 2022.

Asked by a journalist about talks over the presidential election with the Shia community, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who is just back from a recent trip to Lebanon, suggested, according to a Vatican News report (in French), that the problem was not the absence of talks; in his view, "the problem lies above all with Hezbollah, which is in the game and has its candidate”. The issue is “finding a candidate who is accepted by all parties".

For Scarlett Haddad, the ball is in the Christian court. Citing people who met with the speaker of Lebanon’s parliament after he met with the Secretary of State of the Holy See, she said that Nabih Berry was "very satisfied" with the visit, saying that he had received "carte blanche" from Cardinal Parolin on this subject. He is even supposed to have said that "if the truce in Gaza works, it will be quickly done".

For the analyst, “Hamas accepted the ceasefire in Gaza with the approval of the Iranians. Pezeshkian's election is part of this. There is a whole different atmosphere. Things could change soon, if the truce is confirmed in Palestine, and if the Christians of Lebanon get this signal.”

[*] Institut de relations internationales et stratégiques.

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