It’s not often that I rant. I tend to leave that to others more eloquent than myself. However, when I saw a certain country’s top diplomat accept a gift of a rocket from a terror organization I felt I must put keyboard to computer screen and offer my take.
As you’ll see from the video below, Lebanese Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil is a jovial sort of chap – which is all well and good for the world of diplomacy. Indeed, injecting good humor into statesmanship could be a boon in these days of political schisms.
However, when a senior figure in the Hezbollah terrorist organization offered him a gift of a second-hand rocket. surely it wasn’t the time for smiles.
Clarion Project’s Shillman Fellow and Arab Affairs Analyst Ran Meir told me about this story. I immediately asked him if Bassil showed any shock or reluctance to receive the gift. Quite remarkably, Bassil not only accepted the rocket with gusto, he even posted a photo to Twitter of the said rocket now displayed in his office replete with a bouquet of peach and purple flowers protruding from the projectile.
— Gebran Bassil (@Gebran_Bassil) May 6, 2019
You can see Bassil gratefully accepting his new house gift at 1.54 into this video:
جولة في قضاء جبيل ٤/٥/٢٠١٩ pic.twitter.com/sqdU6a2prQ
— Gebran Bassil (@Gebran_Bassil) May 5, 2019
In case you’re wondering, Hezbollah used the rocket during a battle with al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s militia in Syria in 2017.
The inscription on the rocket reads: “Greetings of appreciation and love to His Excellency the Resistance Minister Jebran Bassil.”
Even the honorary title bestowed on Bassil by Hezbollah smacks of war, something a foreign minister should reject as part of his key mission to ensure peace and stability for his country.
The incident led some Lebanese politicians and members of the public to condemn Bassil, a seasoned cabinet member who has served as foreign minister for five years after holding other portfolios.
Bassil’s political agenda comes with his leadership of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), which is the largest party in parliament. The FPM is a predominantly Christian party but also represents a sizable bloc of Shiite Muslims. Hezbollah is the main arm of Iran in Lebanon and has the second-strongest army in the Middle East, according to Israeli military commanders.
Hezbollah is a violent militia with a political wing that grows in strength with every election in Lebanon. Not only does it control the Health Ministry and its not inconsiderable budget, but these images show how much sway the Iranian front organization (Hezbollah) has across the board in Lebanese politics.
It behooves the State Department and America’s allies to keep careful watch, not only on maneuvers by Hezbollah but those of all who come under the spell of Tehran and its lackeys in Lebanon, across the Middle East and increasingly in Europe, Latin America and even on our own doorstep.