Lebanon Stops Stamping Iranian Passports in Controversial Move to Evade US Sanctions

Iran Focus

London, 18 Jun – There is huge controversy surrounding the decision by the Lebanese Security General not to stamp the passports of Iranian travellers as they enter the country, instead issuing them landing slips.

While, the Security General has said that these decisions are “entirely within its jurisdiction” and do not mean that any Iranians have entered the country illegally, you have to wonder what the justification was for changing their policy.

After all, this would be a controversial decision to make at any time, but it is especially troubling considering the rising pressures on Iran from the US and the West, since Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal citing Iranian cheating.

Well, the Lebanese Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Sunday that explained that the General Security had made the decision and that the ministry is not responsible for explaining the reasons behind it.

If the Lebanese Foreign Ministry is refusing to offer an explanation, then perhaps we should look at the most likely reasons. Experts have said that this move likely results specifically to ongoing regional developments and has two objectives:

facilitate the transfer of Iranian money to Hezbollah, while avoiding US sanctions, and of Iranian forces to Beirut, where they would travel to Syria to fight for the Assad.

Some people on social media said that the Security General decision amounted to a “military line” between Lebanon and Syria.

Of course, not all Lebanese politicians are in agreement over this decision.

Lebanese Forces deputy Wehbi Katisha and head of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs Sami Nader both agreed that this decision could not be separated from developments in the Middle East, particularly in Syria.

Katisha said: “The decision is illegal and unconstitutional. Such measures hide ambiguous intentions.”

He said that the decision aims to transfer money to people sanctioned by the US and allow members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) to enter Lebanon before heading to Syria.

Nader said the decision would benefit Iran, by allowing the transfer of experts and fighters to Syria and the transfer of money to Lebanon and particularly Hezbollah, in light of the current US sanctions against Iran.

This decision, likely made by the Iran-backed Hezbollah who controls the majority of the Lebanese government, will only increase Iranian interference in Lebanon.

However, this will not stop while the Mullahs are in power. Their malign interference is built into their constitution. Regime change, which will be the main topic at the Free Iran Grand Gathering on June 30, is the only option.

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