Date: Nov 24, 2017
Source: The Daily Star
IRGC head: Hezbollah arms non-negotiable
ANKARA: The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps said Thursday that Hezbollah weapons were not negotiable as they are necessary to protect Lebanon from Israel.

“Hezbollah must be armed to fight against the enemy of the Lebanese nation which is Israel,” Iranian state television quoted IRGC chief commander Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying. “Naturally they should have the best weapons to protect Lebanon’s security. This issue is non-negotiable.”

He also said Iran and the IRGC were ready to help rebuild Syria and bring about a lasting “cease-fire” there, adding that disarming Hezbollah is out of the question, state TV reported Thursday.

Leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed Wednesday to help support a full-scale political process in Syria and announced an agreement to sponsor a conference in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi to try to end Syria’s civil war.

“The guards are ready to play an active role in establishing a lasting cease-fire in Syria ... and reconstruction of the country,” Jafari said.

Iran has signed large economic contracts with Syria, reaping what appear to be lucrative rewards for helping Tehran’s main regional ally President Bashar Assad in his fight against rebel groups and Daesh (ISIS) militants.

“In meetings with the [Iran] government, it was agreed that the Guards were in a better position to help Syria’s reconstruction ... the preliminary talks already have been held with the Syrian government over the issue,” Jafari said

Jafari also praised the success of Iranian allies across the region, hailing a “resistance front” from Tehran to Beirut and calling on Riyadh to avoid confronting this axis.

“We directly deal with global arrogance and Israel not with their emissaries ... That is why we do not want to have direct confrontation with Saudi Arabia,” he said. The term global arrogance refers to the United States.

Regional tensions have intensified in recent weeks between Saudi Arabia and Iran, whose rivalry has wrought upheaval in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia has accused the Iran-backed Hezbollah of helping the Houthis in Yemen and playing a role in a ballistic missile attack on the kingdom earlier this month. Iran and Hezbollah both denied the claims.

Iran denies giving financial and military support to the Houthi forces in the struggle for Yemen, blaming the deepening crisis on Riyadh.

“Iran only provides advisory and spiritual assistance to Yemen ... and this help will continue,” Jafari said.