By INU Staff
INU - The protests that began in Iran on December 28th and lasted some two weeks, sent a message to the regime that the Iranian people are not inter¬ested in belonging to a regional su¬perpower. They want a government that addresses their needs and does not suppress their freedoms.
They are not interested in dreams of resurrecting the ancient Persian Empire — the cost is too high.
Although it is unclear how much money Iran puts into Hezbollah each year, estimates range from between $800 million to $1 billion. This makes Lebanon an expensive invest¬ment. It is reported that Iran maintains a 22,000-strong militia, plus an arsenal, there. Recently, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasral¬lah declared in a speech, “As long as there is money in Iran we will continue to have money.”
It is said that, besides its support of Hez¬bollah, Iran funds television stations, publications, journalists, pundits, web sites and an array of Lebanese politicians. All of this strengthens Iran’s position in Lebanon. To the extent that it Hezbollah has become entrenched in the Lebanese state, it appears that Tehran’s effort has been met with consid¬erable success.
However, the uprising in Iran may may change the status quo for Hezbollah in Lebanon. It should be noted that a few weeks before the eruption of the Iranian protests, a small uprising broke out in a southern suburb of Beirut, a main strong-hold of Hezbollah. Demonstrators chanted slogans assailing Nasrallah and protesting the party’s corrup¬tion and its involvement in the war in Syria. This echoed the sentiment that is simmering in Iran.
The Iranian revolt did not bring down the regime, but it made the will of the people known. The regime leaders will need to focus on criti¬cal domestic issues if they want to avoid a perpetual state of agitation in the country. The main grievances cited in the recent protests were inflation, poverty, unemployment, and "mismanagement by state officials.” Iranians protested "poor economic conditions, systematic discrimination and corruption, as well as poverty and social injustice.”
In fact, even US President Trump understood what the protests indicated, and supported them with a Twitter post saying, “The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer.”
If the regime listens to its people, and changes its direction, it will make a profound impact on Lebanon, as the flow of Iranian cash becomes a trickle.<br