LEBANON, IRAN: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit neither routine nor ruinous
Los Angeles Times / Meris Lutz and Ramin Mostaghim

Now that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has concluded his controversial two-day tour of Lebanon and returned home without provoking a war with Israel, the real question is what, if anything, has changed?
Both Iran's ally in Lebanon, the militant Shiite group Hezbollah, and the Lebanese government tried to cast Ahmadinejad's stay as a routine visit from a neighboring head of state, an assertion that was somewhat at odds with the hero's welcome the Iranian leader received from the party and its supporters.
"I don't think this was a routine visit at all," said political analyst Kamel Wazne, founder of the Beirut-based Center of American Strategic Studies. "The Shia and Hezbollah came out in force to make sure that those who still doubted now know that Ahmadinejad has support and that he is welcome in large parts of the country."
Iran, said Wazne, was able to send a strong message to Israel that it has powerful friends within striking distance of the Jewish state should Israel launch an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

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