FrontPageMagazine.com |July 20, 2006
Make no mistake about thenearly month-old hot war between Hezbollah and Israel. This is theopening salvo of Iran’s global assault on the United States andits allies over Iran’s “right” to possess nuclearweapons.
The Iranian-backed attacks are aimed at deterring an Israeli militarystrike against Iranian nuclear and missile facilities.
A secondary Iranian goal is to deter Europe from backing U.S. effortsto build a broad-based coalition to take Iran back to the UnitedNations Security Council for its failure to respond clearly to aWestern ultimatum over its nuclear program.
French President Jacques Chirac was the first to bite on Iran’spoisoned apple. Instead of blasting Hezbollah for abducting Israelisoldiers and launching rocket attacks on Israeli towns and cities, heblamed Israel for retaliating.
"One could ask if today there is not sort of a will to destroyLebanon, its equipment, its roads, its communications,” Chiracsaid on Sunday at the St. Petersburg summit.
The Iranians created Hezbollah in 1983. Unlike many parents, theynever let their “child” alone, and have carefullynurtured it with funds, weapons, ideological guidance and militaryorders ever since.
When Hezbollah damaged an Israeli gunboat off the Lebanese coast lastweek, Iranian officers supervised the launch of the Iranian-builtC-102 radar-guided missile.
"We see this as very profound fingerprint of Iranian involvement inHezbollah," Israeli General Ido Nehushtan told the AssociatedPress.
The C-102 appears to be an Iranian version of an anti-shippingmissile provided to Iran by China initially more than a decadeago.
Just as Iran supplied its own versions of Chinese missiles to Bosniain the mid-1990s, so Iran is providing home-grown versions of farmore sophisticated missiles to Hezbollah today. And no one seemsintent on making Iran – or China – pay a price for theirdeeds.
George W. Bush gets the global war on terror. He understands that¬Ýmany other nations will join the war against theIslamo-fascists if only the United States takes a firm lead.
But the president got it wrong in private remarks that were reportedon international television during the G8 summit in St.Petersburg.
"See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to getHezbollah to stop doing this (expletive) and it's over," Bushreportedly told British Prime Minister Tony Blair as he chewed on abuttered roll over lunch on July 16. Neither leader was aware thattheir conversation was being picked up by a live microphone.
No one doubts that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is continuing toprovide logistical assistance to Hezbollah in Lebanon, just as hisfather did for nearly twenty years before him.
After all, Syria had used Hezbollah repeatedly as a semi-proxyagainst Israel and against the United States.
But Syria does not “control” Hezbollah. Iran controlsHezbollah. And President Bush’s advisors need to get that onestraight.
Lebanon’s minister of telecommunications, Marwan Hamadeh, is nofriend of George W. Bush or of Israel. In earlier crises, he has beenquick blame Israel or the United States for Lebanon’s ills.
But in an interview with French state radio on July 17, just one dayafter Bush’s comments in Saint Petersburg, Hamadeh took issuewith a French commentator’s analysis that Hezbollah had becomean “independent” player in Lebanese politics.
Hezbollah “depends directly on Iran for its weapons and for itsorders,” he said. “And it depends logistically on Syria.”
Hamadeh also swept aside accusations that Israel had somehoworchestrated the latest round of Middle East fighting. “Hezbollahis entirely responsible for the violence,” he said.
The escalation of Iranian-backed attacks against Israel has beensteady, and has been aimed at demonstrating new military capabilitiesthat Iran is hoping will eventually deter an Israeli attack againstIranian nuclear and missile sites.
As several Iranian military and strategic affairs analysts explainedto me in recent interviews in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the Iraniansare hoping they can demonstrate Israel will face encircling attacksfrom Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria should Israel press forward withmilitary strikes on Iranian nuclear targets.
Yasser Arafat’s PLO launched Soviet-built katyusha rockets intonorthern Israeli towns in 1982, prompting Israel’s “Peacefor Galilee” operation that ultimately led to Israel‘sfirst-ever siege of an Arab capital that summer.
But Hezbollah’s latest rocket attacks against Israel have beenfar more precise. A May 23 rocket attack by Hezbollah hit an Israelicommand and control position at Meron Air Force base in northernIsrael.
More recently, Hezbollah has launched rocket attacks against Haifa, amajor industrial city in northern Israel. And Syrian leaders havewarned publicly that Hezbollah also could strike against Israelinuclear sites in the south of the country.
Some Israeli analysts believe that Iran is using Hezbollah as aclassic Cold war deterrent.
“Iran knows that if their nuclear sites are attacked, they willbe destroyed. And they know that they will not be able to destroyIsrael,” one Israeli analyst said. “So Iran is usingHezbollah to its advantage.”
Iranian arms deliveries to Hezbollah through Syria have increasedduring the first half of 2006, Israeli sources told me. This hasoccurred despite the fact that the Syrian army –, the UPStrucks who deliver the weapons to Hezbollah posts in Lebanon –has withdrawn from Lebanon.
Iran used to maintain around 1,500 Islamic Revolutionary Guardstroops in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. While Iran has withdrawn mostof the IRGC troops from Lebanon, it still maintains around 100highly-specialized trainers and intelligence operatives in Lebanon,to coordinate operations with Hezbollah.
“Consider the IRGC presence in Lebanon to military attaches,”one Israeli analyst suggested. “They are terrorist attaches.”
The United States and like-minded countries have a clear weapon touse against Iran (and Syria) in their effort to ignite anotherArab-Israeli war in Lebanon.
They can demand that the United Nations enforce UN Security CouncilResolution 1559, which not only calls for the withdrawal of allforeign forces from Lebanon), but recognizes Lebanon’sinternational border with Israel and demands the immediatelydisarmament of all militias, including Hezbollah, in Lebanon.
If a formerly anti-Israeli member of Lebanon’s government –Marwan Hamadeh – can demand the enforcement of UNSC resolution1559, what’s stopping George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin, orJacques Chirac?
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