In a study on Turkish-Iranian presence in Lebanon and the possible repercussions on Lebanon of the August explosion in the port of Beirut, the Israeli Begin-Sadat Research Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) stated that Iranian support for Hezbollah and Turkish and Qatari support for the Lebanese Sunni community, may contribute to the outbreak of civil war in Lebanon – this despite Iranian-Turkish consensus on many issues.
The BESA Center also pointed out that the emergence of large-scale protests against the government, sectarianism, Hezbollah, Iranian influence, and the economic fall-out that followed the explosion in the port of Beirut, has led to a weakened position of Iran and Hezbollah which opened the door of opportunities for Turkey to enter the Lebanese arena. The Turkish entry also comes as Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies, despite their joint opposition of Hezbollah have decreased their attempts to influence Lebanese Sunni society, said the Israeli research center.
Despite their desire to evict sectarianism from their country’s corrupt government, Lebanese civilians are likely to see increased tensions across religious lines. Iran will continue to back Hezbollah despite its regional weakening, while Turkey and Qatar will play a bigger counterbalancing role by increasing their influence on the Sunni community. BESA Center
Turkey, in turn, is seeking to expand Ottoman expansion in the region with the Muslim Brotherhood as frontrunner. This project is in fundamental geopolitical contradiction to Iranian aspirations, as it puts Lebanon in Turkey’s sphere of influence and would give Ankara greater access to the Eastern Mediterranean and gas resources. This would give Turkey desirable leverage given the (discovered) Lebanese gas fields, the Begin-Sadat Center added.
According to political analysts, Turkey welcomed Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s opening of channels of communication with Turkey, and it quickly expressed its willingness to provide economic and political support to Hariri, something which Saudi Arabia has remained silent about and called it political blackmail by Turkey.
Lebanon has a small Turkic community, mainly in Tripoli.