Iran Turns Up the Heat

Our friends at MEMRI have pulled together a series of news stories from the Middle East that, collectively, paint a grim picture. In Lebanon, Hezbollah has declared a general strike with the objective of bringing down the government. Hezbollah supporters have blocked streets and highways with burning tires, as in the photo below:
capt.bei10301231121.mideast_lebanon_protests_bei103.jpg
MEMRI reports:

On January 22, 2007, the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is close to Hizbullah, came out with a front-page headline declaring “Tomorrow All of Lebanon Will Be Immersed in Rage.” The daily reported that “tomorrow, Lebanon will enter a new phase in the internal political conflict that has foreign aspects. On Tuesday, the opposition will launch a new, high-quality wave of activity which now aims to topple the [current] government and to promote the establishment of a new [one].” According to the daily, the opposition’s plan of action, starting tomorrow, includes “blocking main and secondary roads all over Lebanon, from the north to the south, including the Beqa’ valley and [the capital] Beirut… The roads will be blocked with tires… This will be accompanied by demonstrations on the roads and at [major] junctions: the resident of each region will stay in their area and block the roads there… so that traffic will be completely paralyzed.”

Hezbollah’s call for a general strike, and its effort to bring down Lebanon’s government, are widely assumed to have been ordered by Iran. Al Jazeera, meanwhile, lost no time in “recognizing” the Hezbollah-led Lebanese opposition:

With the outbreak of the strike and rioting called for today by the Lebanese opposition, Al-Jazeera TV has begun to call the Lebanese opposition a “sovereign power.”

Iran’s posture continues to grow more bellicose, MEMRI reports, as that country’s foreign minister said yesterday that Iran has the right to bar international inspectors from its territory, and that “the Middle East region is now on the brink of war.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday that “[t]he lives of America and Israel in the region are in decline and twilight.” All of which is fine with Europe’s left; MEMRI reports on a speech yesterday by leftist German lawmaker Monika Knoche, who argued that:

the European Union “has to acknowledge Iran’s right to have a peaceful civilian nuclear program, if it wants to settle the ongoing nuclear row” and “to allow Iran the peaceful use of nuclear energy within the framework of the IAEA, points the way more easily towards a solution of the conflict.”
…The MP, who is also a member of the foreign affairs committee, stressed that [German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter] Steinmeier should undertake every effort ‘not to get trapped in the failed and dangerous U.S. escalation strategy’ in Iraq.

Blog of the Week Jules Crittenden has more.
This is the backdrop against which President Bush will deliver his State of the Union address tonight. I don’t know how serious a speech it will be, but Crittenden offers his suggestions at Pajamas Media.
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