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Friday, December 02, 2011

If Hezbullah gets cut off from Iran

With Syria's Assad under enormous pressure from his opposition, the Syrian army is mining the border between itself and Lebanon to prevent Syrian army officers from escaping. This has the effect, as you can see from the graphic above, of cutting off Hezbullah's supply line from Iran.

But Hezbullah is doing all it can to get all the weapons it can now, and to make sure that Iran's investment doesn't go to waste. Here's a fascinating analysis by Shoshana Bryen, which includes an explanation for all those mysterious explosions we have had lately in Lebanon.
Hezbollah's specialty is "digging in." In late June 2006, a group of American military professionals stood on the Israel/Lebanon border looking north. Their IDF escort – and owner of a B&B in the Upper Galilee – said things had not been so peaceful in the North since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Tourism was up, he said, Hezbollah was quiet and life was good. A retired US Special Forces general was skeptical. "Too quiet," he said. "That is when you worry." [2]

Two weeks later, Hezbollah launched a 34-day war that rained missiles on Israel from beginning to end. Rockets filled with ball bearings to increase their lethality landed on Haifa neighborhoods. The Israeli Foreign Ministry reported 44 Israeli civilians and 119 IDF soldiers killed in the war.[3] Although Israel inflicted devastating losses on Hezbollah's fighters[4] the result was understood as a loss for Israel and IDF prestige.[5]

Hezbollah has been largely quiet since then, but quiet is no longer mistaken for peaceful.


Last week the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star reported a "huge blast" in the south. Lebanese military sources said it was probably a leftover land mine or cluster bomb from the 2006 war but acknowledged that the LAF – touted by Mrs. Clinton as an asset for the UN and protection for Israel – was again kept from the site by Hezbollah security. UNIFIL representatives said they only heard about it on the news.[15]

Almost simultaneously, Hezbollah reported decimating a CIA spy ring in Lebanon and capturing assets.[16] The coup was apparently the result of slow and steady counterintelligence work – following suspects, tracking cell phone usage and drop sites – much the same way Hezbollah claimed to have broken up an Israeli spy ring in 2009. Hezbollah then said the spies for Israel worked largely in Lebanon's telecommunications industry, raising the question, "Who supplied the tracking system to Hezbollah?" Siemens, the German telecommunications giant, had supplied cell phone tracking capabilities to the Iranian government that enabled it to monitor the Iranian opposition.[17] Is Iran helping Hezbollah by supporting Lebanon's telecommunications capabilities in an effort to spy on the people?

Associated Press likened the Hezbollah raids to Iranian behavior after the disappearance of an IRGC general in 2007. "The Iranian government began a painstaking review of foreign travel by its citizens, particularly to places like Turkey where Iranians don't need a visa and could meet with foreign intelligence services. It didn't take long, a Western intelligence official told the AP, before the U.S., Britain and Israel began losing contact with some of their Iranian spies."[18] Or perhaps is it like the patient "unshredding" of American documents by Iranian carpet weavers after the Iranian takeover of the US Embassy in 1979.

While the demise of the Assad regime in Syria would be a setback for the Islamic Republic – and is therefore much to be desired – nothing in Tehran's history indicates that it will allow its enormous investment in Hezbollah to dissipate at the same time. Underground, under cover, quiet and lethal, Hezbollah and its patron Iran are preparing for the next round – whether against Israel or against Lebanon.

Or both.
Read the whole thing. I would bet on Hezbullah not taking over Lebanon outright so long as it can be controlled through puppets. So far, that has been the case.

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