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Ahmadinejad opens visit to Lebanon amid fears of Iranian takeover

Tehran regime closes reformist university network

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Ahmadinejad opens visit to Lebanon amid fears of Iranian takeover

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived to a tumultuous welcome in Beirut on Wednesday as he pays his first official state visit to Lebanon amid charges the move is part of Iran's bid to seize de facto control of the country through its proxy militia Hizbullah in order to open a direct front against Israel.

During a joint press conference with Lebanese President Michael Suleiman today, Ahmadinejad declared that Lebanon and Iran are fighting the Zionists together. “We support Lebanon fully, and we call for the liberation of occupied lands in Lebanon and in Syria. We seek a unified, modern Lebanon, and we stand by the Lebanese government and people. We have both common interests and enemies."

Adding "I feel like I am at home, like I am in my country," Ahmadinejad also presented a mysterious gift to Suleiman, which was only described as a "state-of-the-art device owned by only six countries across the globe" which would be useful for scientific research.

The Lebanese president thanked his guest and backed "the right of states, including Iran, to acquire nuclear energy and use it for peaceful purposes." Suleiman went on to thank Ahmadinejad for Iran's support, noting, "We also discussed international terrorism and how to differentiate it from the resistance."

The two figures announced during their joint press conference that they had signed several bilateral agreements on economic, trade, environmental and energy issues.

Setting out in a motorcade from the Beirut airport this morning, Ahmadinejad was enthusiastically welcomed by sympathizers of the Shi'ite terror militia Hizbullah, which is sponsored by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, but his arrival was met with a very muted response from Lebanon’s other political factions.

A long list of Lebanese politicians and dignitaries published a very unfriendly letter to Ahmadinejad on Tuesday which stated: “You are repeating what others have done before you by interfering in our internal affairs… Your support of the state is negated by your parallel financial and military support to one party in Lebanon (Hizbullah). Your talk of changing the face of the region starting with Lebanon… and wiping Israel off the map through the force of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon… gives the impression that your visit is that of a high commander to his front line."

The letter was signed by 250 people ranging from Lebanese MPs to doctors, teachers and journalists.

Ahmadinejad has accompanied his trip to Lebanon with a wide ranging diplomatic offensive in the region, calling on the heads of state of almost every Arab country, including US allies Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz urged Ahmadinejad to behave himself and not cause a disturbance during his visit to Lebanon, telling him “we still need Lebanon” during their recent phone conversation.

“Lebanon is the primary victim, and if it wants to stop slipping into the jaws of the Iranian crocodile, it – and the moderate Arab world – should raise a strong voice and say this provocateur is not welcome,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy said.

In related news, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has handed Ahmadinejad a political victory and angered moderates in Iran by issuing a decree on Monday that the privately owned Azad University, a hotbed of pro-reform activists opposed to the policies of Ahmadinejad, was "religiously and legally illegitimate" effectively shutting down the University, which has hundreds of branches all over the country. Ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is a member of the board of trustees of the University, had often made use of it to rally opposition to Ahmadinejad. Azad University also employs dozens of former senior officials from the administrations of Rafsanjani and moderate Ahmed Khatami.

Elsewhere, Iran's English-language Press TV reported an unexplained explosion at an Iranian military base on Tuesday which killed several soldiers and wounded many others. The report said that the base at Khoramabad in Western Iran was the scene of pandemonium for several hours while firefighters put out a large fire started by the explosion and rescue workers moved the wounded to hospitals. It was one of the largest terrorist attacks in Iran in recent months and only the latest in a string of increasingly violent anti-government moves. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Finally, Iranian Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Ahmad Vahidi on Wednesday called the Stuxnet internet worm, which has caused tremendous damage to Iran’s industrial infrastructure, a case of “internet terrorism," adding that the Iranian authorities have dealt with the worm and that it does not seriously threaten the country.


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