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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Did Iran order Hezbullah's attack?

Buried inside the Jerusalem Post's Friday editorial was a credible argument that Hezbullah attacked when it did on Wednesday in a bid to distract the world from the efforts of the permanent members of the UN Security Council + Germany (known as "P5+1") to put a stop to Iran's nuclear weapons program:

On Wednesday, a few hours after Hizbullah, Iran's proxy army in Lebanon, attacked Israel, the foreign ministers of the UN Security Council's permanent members - US, UK, France, China and Russia - plus Germany (P5 + 1) jointly announced that they had tired of Teheran's prevarications and would seek a resolution requiring Iran to dismantle its nuclear program.

"The first step," US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton explained, "will be to make mandatory the suspension of uranium enrichment activities... [and give Iran] a limited, fixed period of time" to cease them. "The next step, if they fail to comply, would be to go to economic sanctions. No question about that," Bolton said.

What does this have to do with the two-front war that Israel is embroiled in? Everything.

It is inconceivable that Hizbullah attacked Israel without the knowledge and blessing of Iran, on which it is wholly dependent. Iran reportedly retains direct control over the longer-range missiles that are ostensibly part of Hizbullah's arsenal. Among these may be the missiles that rained down on Nahariya and Safed on Thursday.

On June 16, the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported that Syrian-Iranian talks in Teheran "did not only deal with... strategic cooperation between the two countries, but also with the situation in Lebanon... the situation in Palestine, and with ways of assisting Hamas and the [Islamic] Jihad in their conflict with Fatah" (translation by www.memri.org).

The day before Hizbullah's attack, Iran nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, after his meeting with EU envoy Javier Solana, went to Damascus for a surprise visit.

Putting all this together, it is entirely plausible that Iran either ordered or encouraged the Hizbullah attack to distract and intimidate the P5 + 1 foreign ministers meeting at that moment to consider Iran's fate.

DEBKAfile has also concluded that Iran ordered Hezbullah to attack, but added two other reasons:
DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report Hizballah acted on orders from Tehran to open a second front against Israel, partly to ease IDF military pressure on the Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This was in response to an appeal Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal made to the Iranian ambassador to Damascus Mohammad Hassan Akhtari Sunday, July 9.

DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report Tehran’s rationale as composed of three parts:

1. Iran shows the flag as a champion and defender of its ally, Hamas.

2. Sending Hizballah to open a warfront against Israel is the logical tactical complement to its latest order to go into action against American and British forces in southern Iraq.


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