WikiLeaks: Iran installed secret telecom network for Hezbollah
In February 2008, Lebanese authorities were surprised to find a secret communication network that Iran had set up all over Lebanon for Hezbollah's benefit, US cables released by the WikiLeaks website suggest.
The confidential US memos, which were quoted in the British newspaper The Guardian, reported that the discovery of the fiber optics network created tension between the central government and Hezbollah, and caused clashes on the streets of Beirut.
The Lebanese government was so agitated that it sent urgent messages to the US, France and Saudi Arabia, warning of Iran's increasing hold on the Lebanese telecommunication.
The memos exposed deep regional and international concern over the instability in Lebanon, and a fear of another conflict with Israel.
In a message sent to the US Embassy in Beirut, Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh wrote that the network was a strategic win for Iran that established a direct link to Lebanon, which bypasses Syria.
"The value for Hezbollah is the final step in creating a nation state," the memo read. "Hezbollah now has an army and weapons, a television station, an education system, hospitals, social services, a financial system and a telecommunications system."
Hamadeh warned in his message that Hezbollah had indicated it would see any action against the telecommunications network as "equal to an Israeli act of aggression," and that it would respond accordingly.
According to the memos, the network ran from Beirut to southern Lebanon, below the Litani River, through Palestinian refugee camps, Hezbollah training and areas under Christinan control, all the way the north of the country.
The Iranian Fund for the Reconstruction of Lebanon not only funded but also supervised the installation of the telecommunications lines, while paving new roads to replace the ones that were destroyed in the Second Lebanon War.