Assessing what’s happening in the Islamic Republic of Iran has never been easy since the revolution, and the fall of the Shah, changed the country profoundly forty years ago, in 1979. Access for foreign journalists and analysts is difficult bordering on the impossible.
What’s clear is that the Iranians face a serious set of problems:
– American sanctions – Donald Trump calls its maximum pressure.
– Internal dissent leading to the killing of around 200 protestors by the security forces in the last fortnight.
– And anti Iranian demonstrations in their ally and neighbour, Iraq – and without violence and with less anger, a desire among many in another friendly territory, Lebanon, for an end to their influence.
In Lebanon the influence comes through their ally and protégé, Hezbollah, the most powerful single group in the country. It fought in Syria on the side of the Assad regime (iran’s other ally) – and is with Iran at the top of Israel’s list of enemies. Britain and the US and others regard it as a terror group.
The BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen met the deputy leader of Hezbollah, Naim Qassem in Beirut – the organisation gives very few interviews so it was a rare chance to get Hezbollah’s view of the Middle East.
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