As the Islamic world rallies to the support of the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah militia, Iran is feeling more and more emboldened to press its confrontational foreign policy and efforts to silence political opposition at home.
TEHRAN, July 31 ? The Israeli onslaught in Lebanon and Hezbollah?s daily victories in the regional public relations war over the conflict threaten to claim a victim in Iran: whatever hope remained of resurrecting the political reform movement.
Day by day, even as Iran?s officials assess the military setbacks of Hezbollah, they have grown more and more emboldened by the gathering support in the Islamic world for the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia on the front line with Israel. They have grown more and more emboldened by what they see as a validation of their confrontational approach to foreign policy ? and in their efforts to silence political opposition at home.
That is the view of at least some opposition figures, analysts and former government officials who say they find themselves in the awkward position of opposing Israel and sympathizing with the Lebanese people, yet fear what might happen should Hezbollah prevail.
Such an outcome, they say, would strengthen the hand of the hard-liners now in control of Iran?s government, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose firebrand opposition to the West has taken Iran back to the early days of the Islamic Revolution, when the country?s leadership focused more on exporting its revolutionary ideas than on integrating Iran with the rest of the world.