By M. A. Saki

Most countries that bought the Pegasus are authoritarian: Lebanese expert

August 19, 2021 - 13:55

TEHRAN - Most countries that bought the Pegasus program in the region are tyrannical, a senior Lebanese political analyst says. 

“Most of the countries that bought the Pegasus program are countries based on authoritarian rule and suppression of freedoms,” Amin Hoteit tells the Tehran Times.

Hoteit adds that countries such as Saudi Arabia and some other Arab monarchies never respect freedom of expression.

 “These countries' access to the Pegasus program, which aims to spy, is consistent with their general policies,” Hoteit notes.

 “This is not new, but the presence of such a project in their hands would enable them to activate their tyrannical and repressive actions more.”

Following is the text of the interview:


Q: What is Israel's record in spying on other countries since the establishment of this regime?

A: Espionage is a major part of Israel's strategy in dealing with the “other”, whether this other is a friend, an enemy, an ally, or a neutral party.

Israel does not trust anyone and it considers the others as a threat to its goals and ambitions because most of its policies are illegal, unconstructive which undermines the truth.

The most important thing mentioned in the history of its espionage operation is its spy in Syria Eli Cohen who almost came to rule the country, not to mention its spies in Egypt, the United States of America, and France.

Therefore, Israel and espionage are twins. Espionage is mixed in Israeli political, security, and diplomatic acts.

Some have even said that every Israeli diplomat abroad is a spy for this regime.


Q: How do you read the Israeli Pegasus project and its consequences for the world?

A: The Israeli Pegasus project, which has been exported to other regional countries, especially Arab regimes such as Saudi Arabia, constitutes a flag violation of the sovereignty of states, the sanctity of private life, which can impact the behavior of rulers, journalists, and media professionals.

It would charge international relations with some tension, caution, and distrust, and we will encounter a new situation.

Therefore, we will be facing a tense international situation as a result of this dangerous espionage project.


Q:  French President Emmanuel Macron has changed his phone and number after reports that he was targeted with Pegasus.  This shows that Israel's spying is not limited to its foes. What is your comment?

A: I rule out Israel take responsible measures to alleviate France's concerns, and any explanations that Israel can give to France about its espionage activities will be a kind of throwing dust in the eyes.

Israel is sure that no one can chasten it; the Israelis are able to disguise the truth under the anti-Semitism law. 

Israel has fortified itself in this regard in one way or another, and it is using its influence inside the countries in which it carried out espionage operations to prevent being pursued and to contain any effort to record its crimes abroad.


Q: There are reports that Israel sold the spyware program to countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Morocco to target activists and journalists. Please explain.

A: Most of the countries that bought the Pegasus program are countries based on authoritarian rule and suppression of freedoms.

As we know very well, those countries such as Saudi Arabia and some other Arab states never care about opinion or freedom of expression.

 Therefore, these countries' access to the Pegasus program, which aims to spy, is consistent with their general policies. This is not new, but the presence of such a project in their hands would enable them to activate their tyrannical and repressive actions more.


Q: What is Lebanon's experience with regard to Israeli espionage and assassination operations?

A: Before the emergence of the Resistance Front in Lebanon, Israel was not very aware of the Lebanese reality, yet it was spreading spies all around the country.

But after the Resistance grew and became a strong player in the region, Lebanon turned, in Israel’s eyes, an existential threat because of the Resistance.

 Therefore, Israel is always cautious and spreads spies where it finds a flaw in Lebanon. Some political groups constitute a fertile environment for the growth of these spies, who are used by the Israeli regime publicly, along with some people who hold foreign nationalities in addition to the Lebanese nationality. 

As well, Israel gets help from spies working in southern Lebanon.

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