The appearance of the head of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia during a visit to Lebanon’s border with Israel, accompanied by Hezbollah fighters, sparked a wave of anger, especially as it came shortly after the government announced the adoption of a policy to dissociate the country from external conflicts.
In a video released on Saturday, Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Iraqi paramilitary group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, declared his readiness “to stand together with the Lebanese people and the Palestinian cause”, just four days after the Lebanese political parties announced the adoption of the policy of “dissociation” from external and regional conflicts.
The video showed an unidentified commander, presumably from Hezbollah, gesturing toward military outposts located along the borders, while Khazali was talking to another person through a wireless device, telling him: “ I am now with the brothers in Hezbollah in the area of Kfarkila, which is a few meters away from occupied Palestine; we declare the full readiness to stand together with the Lebanese people and the Palestinian cause.”
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri ordered the security apparatus to conduct the necessary investigations into the presence of the Iraqi leader on the Lebanese territories, which he said violated the Lebanese laws.
Presidential sources told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that President Michel Aoun has requested further information about the video, while military sources denied that Khazali has entered the Lebanese territories in a legitimate way.
“The entry of any foreigner to this border area requires a permit from the Lebanese Army, which did not happen,” the sources said, stressing that Khazali has entered the area illegaly.
A statement issued by the premier’s office said: “Hariri contacted the concerned military and security officials to conduct the necessary investigations and take measures to prevent any person or party from carrying out any military activity on the Lebanese territory, and to thwart any illegal act as shown in the video.”
The Lebanese prime minister also ordered that Khazali would be banned from entering Lebanon again, the statement added.