Part 2 of article
Senior officials in the Revolutionary Guards and in Iran’s political-religious leader have been telling Syria’s Assad, Hezbolla’s Nasrallah, and top Lebanese officials for some months now that Israel is planning a surprise attack against them in the near future.
The Iranians openly say that Israel is interested in lifting the rocket and missile threat posed by Hezbollah and possibly by Syria too via a preventative strike; yet mostly of all, according to the Iranians, an Israeli assault would aim to erase the “disgrace of defeat” in the Second Lebanon War (as the Iranians see it).
In order to reinforce their assessment, the Iranians refer to the large and frequent exercises held by the IDF on the northern border. The Iranians are also saying (and Nasrallah declares it publically) that the Israeli offensive is expected to take place in the spring or summer of 2010.
The “warnings” issued by Iran to its allies which border on Israel have a strategic aim: The Iranians wasn’t the global attention as well as that of Security Council members to be diverted away from Tehran’s refusal on the nuclear issue and the preoccupation with anti-Iran sanctions; instead, it will focus on the tension and threat of war that may erupt at any moment between Israel and its northern neighbors. And so, the Iranians can buy more time while erode the severity of the sanctions against them.
On top of it, the global public opinion’s focus on restraining “Israel’s offensive intentions vis-à-vis its neighbors” creates an international atmosphere that makes it harder for Israel to strike Iran’s nuclear site – if it indeed plans to do so in the near future. This is why Iran encourages Syria to boost its arms shipments to Hezbollah. The protests and threats issued by Israel and the US in response to these arms transfers serve Iran’s strategic objectives well.
However, at this time Iran has no interest whatsoever in igniting an actual war between Israel and Hezbollah, Lebanon, and Syria. Tensions – yes; War – no.
This is the case because in an actual war, Israel’s Air Force and the IDF’s ground forces may destroy Hezbollah’s missile and rocket arm; the very same arsenal which Iran funded and assisted to build in order to use it as a means of reprisal against Israel should it strike Tehran’s nuke sites. The same is true for Syria. Iran also does not wish to see Hezbollah lose the dominant status it acquired within Lebanon’s political establishment, should the Lebanese blame the organization for ruining their country.
Iran’s “assessments,” which are meant to serve Tehran’s aims, enjoy an attentive ear in Damscus and in Beirut. They are commensurate with the Mideastern mode of thinking which sees conspiracies (and especially Israeli ones) at every corner; when Iran warns its allies of an Israeli intention to avenge its “defeat” it certainly appears logical, not only to the leaderships in Damascus and Beirut but also to the people there.
For that reason, Lebanon’s Prime Ministry Hariri has enslited himself to the cause of a campaign of loybbing and pleas in Europe and Arab states aimed at averting “the Israeli attack” becuas eof the Scud transfer. He denies to anyone wiling to listen that the transfer of missiles into his country actually took place.
Yet his hysterical activity is reminiscent of a guilty party; he apparently knows more than He’s willing to say. Yet this did not prevent him from calling German Chancellor Merkel this week in a bid to convince her that the reports about the Scud transfers were unfounded. He is also enlisting support for his arguments in the Arab world and to this aim just attended an urgent meeting with Egyptian Presidnet Mubarak at Sharm el-Sheikh.
Mubarak made sure to allay Hariri’s fears regarding Israel’s intentions; the Germans did the same. However, Hariri is not relaxed, and the fuel vapors continue to hover in Beirut and Damscus. Jerusalem, for its part, is doing everything in order to prevent a situation whereby one of the sides rolls down the slippery slope created by the Iranians because of a flawed understanding of reality.