A senior delegation of Iran’s Tasnim News Agency has held meetings with a number of high-ranking officials of the Lebanese Hezbollah in Beirut, the Iranian media reports. Earlier today, the delegation, led by Tasnim’s managing director Majid Qolizadeh, met with Hezbollah’s . In the meeting, Qolizadeh told the Hezbollah leader that his news agency spends a lot of money on its foreign offices and employs motivated and capable people in all countries in West Asia in order to provide “first-hand” coverage of international affairs to regional audiences. Nasarallah also updated the visiting Iranian delegation about current regional issues and Hezbollah’s activities.
The Iranian delegation also their work in Lebanon and the broader Middle Eastern region with other senior Hezbollah officials – including deputy leader and head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council Sayyed Hashem Safieddine. The Hezbollah leaders the visiting Iranian delegation on regional issues, particularly latest developments in Syria.
Comment: While Iran’s financial and arms assistance to the Lebanese Hezbollah often make headlines, Iran’s soft power efforts aimed at promoting the Islamic Republic’s ideological and political goals in the region are largely overlooked. One of Tehran’s key soft power tools is news organizations that are owned or funded by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) in Lebanon and across the region.
Tasnim News Agency, similar to Fars News Agency, claims to be an independent news organization; but in reality, it is run by the I.R.G.C. Tasnim was inaugurated in Tehran in 2012, and two years later, the news agency its foreign branch in Beirut to “enhance cultural and media interactions with regional countries.” The agency also often hosts leaders of I.R.G.C.’s regional proxies in its Tehran’s office. Earlier this month, for example, Tasnim organized a press conference for I.R.G.C.-linked Harakat al-Nujaba, in which the Iraqi Shiite militia group announced the formation of a new brigade to seize the Golan Heights from Israel.
Iranian media and cultural organizations in South Asia and the Middle East not only spread the Islamic Republic’s ideological, cultural and political propaganda, but they also provide a civilian cover for I.R.G.C. operatives. Iran’s cultural center in Lebanon, for example, works in close partnership with Hezbollah’s cultural department to implement joint projects and raise funds for Hezbollah inside Iran. The Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, ostensibly a charity organization, functions to promote Tehran’s ideological and political goals in the region and helps the I.R.G.C.’s efforts in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq and beyond. Other key objectives of the Iranian-controlled news outlets in Lebanon are to enhance the image and strength of Hezbollah, justify Iranian presence and influence in Lebanon as well as its ties with Hezbollah, and turn the public opinion in Lebanon against the United States, Israel and Sunni Arab states. The I.R.G.C. also runs extensive media operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.