“…anyone who thinks Hezbollah is just an Israeli problem is fooling himself. And anyone who thinks Iran’s VEVAK (ministry of security and intelligence) and Revolutionary Guards are not active outside the Middle East is terribly wrong. Iran, and its proxy Hezbollah, are international menaces. They are mostly occupied with Israel and the United States, but they will do what they can, wherever they can, to spread the Islamic Revolution, including to the United States itself.”
Lebanese Hezbollah is both a nationalist and militant organisation and, depending on one’s stance on the political-ideological spectrum, either a terrorist group or holy resistance against the enemies of Islam. Hezbollah has been nurtured and supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran since its inception and always served as Iran’s proxy. Iran also remains an influential player in Hezbollah’s domestic and international actions and agenda. Hezbollah and Iran seek to undermine and replace Western influence with Iranian influence in the Middle East, and promote Shia Islam and the destruction of the Zionist entity.
Although a predominantly Shia Islamic organisation, Hezbollah has also evolved into a capable, mainstream political movement within Lebanon, enjoying broad-based support across religious divides.
Hezbollah has essentially succeeded in building a state within a state and, arguably the de facto power within Lebanon, is as much a part of everyday life there as the government itself. As an Iranian proxy supported by VEVAK, Hezbollah has spread the Shia faith on the frontlines, ostensibly undermining Islam’s enemies and spreading the influence of Iran abroad.
This paper briefly discusses the origins of Hezbollah as well the role played by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Hezbollah – a theme that will be carried through most of the paper. It will become evident that Hezbollah is a well balanced nationalist and resistance group whose influence within Lebanon is omnipresent, and a dangerous menace in a number of countries – some more than others. In the background to all of this lies Iran, whose nuclear programme makes the relationship with Hezbollah all the more dangerous and threatening to Iran’s enemies.
Hezbollah: A brief history
In 1982, Hezbollah (the party of god) was born from the fires of resistance and ambition – resistance towards Israel and Iranian ambition, which are increasingly evident today. The Oppressed on Earth, as Hezbollah was originally named,3 was primarily committed to driving the Israeli military from its position of occupation in parts of southern Lebanon.4 Not yet the effective guerrilla resistance that Hezbollah would become, the group’s leaders lived in Lebanon and the predominantly Shia Islamic Republic of Iran between 1982 and 1983, from where Hezbollah’s own Shia clerics were educated,5 studied religion and received their spiritual and ideological guidance.6 At the centre of Hezbollah’s creation and ideology was the late Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini of Iran, who for the most part incorporated his religious and pan-Islamic world-view into Hezbollah. 7
Hezbollah’s current religious leader and commander in chief, Hassan Nasrallah, came to power in 1982 when he was unanimously elected as “commander of operations” following the death of his predecessor Abbas Musawi. 8 Nasrallah also heads the Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council, Hezbollah’s supreme governing body. 9 Hezbollah’s Majlis al-Shura followed the guidance and Shia ideology of Ayatollah Khomeini until his death and then of Ayatollah Khamenei as of 1989. 10 A revered and respected Shia leader in Lebanon, “Sayyed” Hassan Nasrallah has become the object of a personality cult. Nasrallah’s talent for drawing large crowds and fiery speeches has gained him a die-hard loyal following of ordinary Lebanese citizens and fighters, as well as respect from Sunni Muslims and Christians. Much like Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany was able to whip a crowd into a frenzy of nationalist fervour, Nasrallah never fails to impact on Hezbollah and non-Hezbollah supporters alike that the hated Zionist entity must be resisted and defeated. As a nationalist movement in defence of the Lebanese, Hezbollah has necessarily been an integral political factor in Lebanese politics and public opinion.
In 1984 Hezbollah published its first edition of the weekly Al-Ahad bulletin.11Al-Ahad has since featured every Friday. 12 Iran’s influence can be felt here as well, as the bulletin always keeps in line with Iranian propaganda. 13 In 1985 Hezbollah launched its own radio station – Sawt al-Mustazafin (the Voice of the Oppressed) 14 for which Tehran provided the necessary transmitters. 15 In 1992 Hezbollah set up its own Television station, Al Manar (the Beacon). 16 Hezbollah’s popularity spread rapidly and the organisation achieved representation in the Lebanese Parliament in 1992 through democratic means. 17 Four years later in 1996, Hezbollah established its official website, www.hizbollah.tv, which includes up-to-date information on its activities and the utterances of its leaders, complete with video clips and photographs. 18
Running parallel to Hezbollah’s political participation and public support was Hezbollah’s increasing military capability. Hezbollah’s political and military clout in Lebanon became evident in 1989 with the signing of the Taef agreement that ended Lebanon’s civil war. 19 The Taef agreement prescribed that all sides except Hezbollah disarm. 20 It was clear that no-one could enforce conditions on Hezbollah; indeed a rational choice was made not to antagonise them. Hezbollah had become enmeshed in Lebanese society and, armed, was going nowhere. Khomeini saw an opportunity to further expand Hezbollah’s influence (and by extension Iran’s) in the Lebanese government. 21 Even now, after Hezbollah’s recent defeat to Saad Hariri’s US backed March 14th coalition (or First Group) it is unlikely that Lebanese designate Prime Minister Saad Hariri will attempt to disarm Hezbollah.
The continued existence of the State of Israel ensures that Hezbollah continues to receive support from Iran and Syria in the form of financial support, training, and arms. 22 Iran is essentially a “Godfather” to Hezbollah, providing spiritual leadership and the military capability in order achieve its aims. The “divine” victory over Israel, following its withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2006 marked the beginning of Hezbollah’s transformation into a viable and legitimate political organisation. 23 Many in Lebanon would indeed view Hezbollah as part of the solution, not the problem. Following Hezbollah’s victory over Israel in 2006, pictures were taken of victorious Lebanese soldiers wielding Hezbollah flags while others were seen with only the Lebanese national flag. Hezbollah can also be said to enjoy mixed support amongst Lebanese civilians.
However, Hezbollah is not a closed group of Shia fundamentalists. Hezbollah has expanded into the dangerous realm of Lebanese politics and has managed to include a wider spectrum of Lebanese support. Although politics plays an integral part in Hezbollah’s day-to-day activities, the resistance movement is as strong as ever. Hezbollah has been able to recruit Sunni, Christian and Druze fighters “…in an effort to create a united opposition to the government.” 24
Hezbollah has also directly approached Sunni Sheikhs in Lebanon with a view to creating a wider Muslim resistance against Israel. 25 Hezbollah can credibly claim to be a unified national resistance against Israel and a legitimate, inclusive political organisation within Lebanon. This has made Hezbollah much more politically palatable for a wider spectrum of Lebanese. Interestingly however, Hezbollah has publicly sidelined their more Islamist goals and ambitions, 26 although some would say they are not fooling anyone. This includes Hezbollah’s goal of establishing an Islamic state, which is now endorsed exclusively within party ranks as such a concept is suspicious to Sunnis and totally unacceptable to Christians. 27 This development has been largely at the urging of Sheikh Fadlallah in order to engage Sunni Muslims, Christians and Maronites in dialogue. 28
The Pasdaran – Hezbollah’s enablers
As referred to earlier, the Pasdaran has been intimately involved in Hezbollah’s military development and operational capability. Identifying an opportunity to support Lebanon’s Shia population, to strike a blow at the Zionists, as well as spread its own influence in the Middle East, Tehran set out to create Hezbollah. In order to establish operational capability Tehran committed approximately 1,500 Iranian Revolutionary Guards to train and equip the new movement. 29
Created by Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini shortly after his Iranian Revolution, the Pasdaran were tasked with defending the Revolution 30 and have always played an integral role in Hezbollah operations and ideological support. The Pasdaran report directly to the Ayatollahs and sport their own army, navy and air force, as well as the “extranational special operations force,” the elite al-Quds (Jerusalem) Force. 31 The Pasdaran also serve as a preventive against a military coup by the conventional Iranian army. Posht-e-pardeh (“behind the curtain)32 the Pasdaran are also the invisible hand supplying Hezbollah with training and equipment in Hezbollah’s domestic and foreign operations. Indeed, from the very first engagements between Hezbollah and the occupying Israelis in the 1980s, the Revolutionary Guards played an instrumental role. Before his death, senior Hezbollah member and religious leader, Abbas Mussawi, summed up the role played by Revolutionary Guards with regards to Hezbollah and other groups:
“Without the patronage that the Revolutionary Guards extended to young Muslims at the time of the Israeli invasion, they would have reached the borderline of fatal despair. The presence of the Revolutionary Guards at that time was the only spot of light. People began learning the principles of the Islamic revolution and to mobilise in the correct way against the Israeli enemy and against global imperialism.” 33
Much information has been gained regarding Hezbollah’s initial “set-up”, training, equipping, and funding from a former commander of the Pasdaran – and one of the highest level defections in recent history. In 1985 General Ali Reza Askari was appointed commander of the al-Quds force, the elite arm of the Revolutionary Guards responsible for exporting the Islamic Revolution, and training non-Iranian forces, primarily Hezbollah. 34 The defection of General Askari in 2008 to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whilst in Ankara, Turkey, provided rare insight into the Revolutionary Guards’ relationship with Hezbollah. Askari’s defection came amidst a purge by hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of those favouring moderate reactions to the United States. 35
At the time of his defection, Askari was a close aide to Moshen Rezai, the former commander of the Revolutionary Guards and a “functionary in the Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence.” 36
Askari was also a top intelligence adviser to former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. 37 Askari directed the training of Hezbollah recruits in Lebanon and Iran, sending “instructors in all spheres of combat, sabotage, and terror.” 38 Askari played a key role in setting up a Hezbollah connection to teach other extremists and those wishing to become martyrs how to make car bombs and various explosive devices. 39 Al-Qaeda operatives, for instance, received explosives, security and intelligence training in Iran around 1992 40 and again from Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Beka’a Valley in 1993. 41 Clearly, the Revolutionary Guard was, from the very beginning, Hezbollah’s enabler and facilitator.
The Pasdaran provided funding and training to Hezbollah operatives who would in turn train other activists. In December 1993, for example, “415 prominent Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists from Gaza and the West Bank” were given a camp at Marj al-Zuhur and, with Askari’s Hezbollah connection, received explosives training. 42 These activists received high quality training which would cause the deaths of hundreds of Israelis. 43
Askari also provided the Americans with valuable information regarding the involvement and whereabouts of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Iraq, as well as the involvement of Hezbollah in Iraq. 44 This will be expanded upon later.
Hezbollah’s Aims and Goals
Hezbollah’s aims and goals can be classified into two salient aspects that also pertain to the organisation’s raison d’etre. From an ideological-religious standpoint, Hezbollah seeks to purge the cancerous “Zionist entity” from the body of Islam, thus casting itself as a resistance movement in Lebanon and the Muslim world, seeking to defend and promote their interpretation of Shia Islam. Of course, with the support of the late Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian state, Hezbollah has also become a political force within Lebanon. Hezbollah’s political influence pertains to the organisation’s second objective: the “transformation of the Lebanese state.”45
Hezbollah’s aims continue to speak of purging the influence of “western imperialism,” and the withdrawal of “all their institutions” from Lebanon. 46 Hezbollah’s primary concern is with Israel however, and seeks “the complete destruction of the State of Israel and the establishment of Islamic rule over Jerusalem…” 47 Not only is the State of Israel an affront to Islam, but a threat to the existence and spread of Shia Islam. 48
Hezbollah views the destruction of Israel as a moral and religious obligation. 49 Hezbollah, of course, does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and, according to Nasrallah, “…today, tomorrow and after 1,000 years and even until the end of time, as long as Hezbollah exists, it will never recognise Israel.” 50
Some Lebanese fear that Hezbollah’s political objectives pertain to the furtherance of an Islamic state, despite Hezbollah’s moderation of Islamist rhetoric. Although the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian political group, has since joined ranks with the Hezbollah-led alliance, many Christians have rejected their former party.51 Lebanon’s sizeable Christian community, a unique feature for an Arab state in the Middle East, is a source of pride amongst Christian Lebanese. 52
Hezbollah has set its sights on becoming the hegemonic political force in Lebanon through achieving a parliamentary majority. By 2005, Hezbollah had extended its 8 seats in parliament to control fourteen of the 128 parliamentary seats. 53 These fourteen seats were Hezbollah’s contribution to the “Resistance and Development Bloc,” which had won a total of 35 seats. 54 Hezbollah’s domestic support, although quite mixed particularly in southern Lebanon, can hardly be overstated. Hezbollah provides many services for the people where the Lebanese government does not and perhaps cannot, building houses, schools, medical facilities such as clinics and hospitals, and even providing farming assistance. 55 Hezbollah also provides a monthly salary and counselling to families who have lost husbands and fathers in combat. 56
Hezbollah’s original goal, in 1982, was to drive the Israeli military out from southern Lebanon.57 The Israeli military occupation was an effort to thwart Palestinian insurgents who were using it as a staging area into Israel.58 Hezbollah achieved this goal in 2006 with the unilateral withdrawal of the Israeli armed forces. However, the Israeli military still occupy the Shebaa farms in Lebanon, a major rallying point of support and sympathy, even amongst Christian Lebanese. 59 For Hezbollah’s continued resistance of Israel, Hezbollah have gained the reverence and respect of many, if not most Lebanese. Many Lebanese hold the view that Hezbollah is still very much a resistance movement that has a right to possess arms for self-defence and deterrence.
Following the Cedar Revolution, brought about by the withdrawal of Syrian forces after fifteen years of occupation, and after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, believed by many to be Syria’s doing, Hezbollah formed the March 8th Alliance. This Hezbollah-led alliance is a pro-Syrian coalition and now also consists of the Free Patriotic Movement (the Christian Maronites).
Hezbollah’s opposition, so to speak, consist of the March 14th Alliance made up of anti-Syrian political groups such as Sunni Saad Hariri’s (son of slain Rafiq Hariri) Future Block, Lebanese Forces (Gaegae and Maronite Christians) and the Progressive Socialist Party led by Walid Jumblat. 60 Importantly, there is a clear division among Lebanese towards Syria.
Hezbollah’s goals have changed little since the group’s aims and goals were first published in 1985: “The solution to Lebanon’s problems is the establishment of an Islamic republic as only this type of regime can secure justice and equality for all of Lebanon’s citizens.
The Hezbollah organisation views as an important goal the fight against ‘Western imperialism’ and its eradication from Lebanon.
The conflict with Israel is viewed as a central concern. This is not only limited to the IDF presence in Lebanon. Rather, the complete destruction of the State of Israel and the establishment of Islamic rule over Jerusalem is an expressed goal” 61
The remaining text remains true and unchanged. Hezbollah may not be speaking publicly about establishing an Islamic republic, but this is mainly for political expediency. It remains a central Hezbollah objective. In addition, the resistance against the ongoing Israeli occupation of part of Lebanon and against the State of Israel itself remains as strong as ever.
Israeli intelligence has acknowledged that Hezbollah continues to rely on fundraising and recruiting amongst Muslims, especially Shia, living outside the Middle East, and particularly in the West. 62 The arrest in 2008 of a 29-year-old Israeli man of Palestinian descent on espionage charges has raised the Israeli secret service’s worst nightmare: that of the “enemy within.” 63 “Khaled K”, a student in Germany was arrested by Shin Bet last July and stands accused of spying for Hezbollah based in Germany. 64 What troubles the Israelis is that Khaled K is from Kalanswa, near Israel’s border with the West Bank. 65 Khaled’s case is also troubling because, according to a statement by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, it “…provides new proof that Israeli-Arabs are attractive recruiting targets for Hezbollah.” 66 This is perhaps not surprising since nearly twenty percent “of all Israeli citizens are so-called Israeli Arabs – mostly Palestinians and Druze.” 67
Hezbollah’s current recruitment drive in Lebanon is aimed at creating a united opposition bloc against Lebanese President Sleiman’s government68 during the latest parliamentary elections on June 7 2009. This is set to continue in future. Hezbollah’s election drive has sought to incorporate Sunni Muslims, Christians and Druze into the party ranks. 69 The inclusion of these groups allows Hezbollah to escape it’s purely Shia label; incorporating Lebanese from different faiths will give Hezbollah credibility as a national party, or resistance as they would like to be known. Ultimately, Hezbollah seeks to gain acceptance from Lebanese across all sectarian divides. This will cast Hezbollah in a light of legitimacy that other parties will find hard to counter.
However, Hezbollah have not turned solely to politics, and it is clear that Hezbollah continues to recruit young members to bolster its fighting ranks on a platform of resistance against Israel. These youth are indoctrinated with the hate for Israel that binds Hezbollah supporters. Hezbollah has been known to recruit young Lebanese men from villages in relatively close proximity with the Israeli border, where the Lebanese government does not have a strong presence. Unemployment among youths in these areas makes them easy targets for recruitment.
Hezbollah has focused primarily on young men between the ages of sixteen and nineteen, offering them basic training for a month, whereupon the most promising candidates “get more training and remain with the guerrilla group at an attractive salary.” 70 Recruitment of these citizens serves two important purposes: firstly; Hezbollah ensures a constant flow of young and eager recruits into its ranks as fighters or suicide bombers when they are needed. Secondly; this serves as a subversive exercise against the Lebanese government in the form of increased loyalty to opposition-resistance Hezbollah and its ideology. This is obviously at the expense of loyalty to the Lebanese state and support of its government. Where ordinary Lebanese are not particularly at odds with the Lebanese government itself, Hezbollah can easily indoctrinate young minds with the evils of the Zionist state, thereby fomenting longer-term resistance attitudes and hatred for Israel. Some Lebanese, especially Shia, do not require any indoctrination at all, having grown up with a sense of vengeance and hatred towards Israel. 71 The long-term effects of indoctrinating unemployed youth will increase Hezbollah’s appeal amongst Lebanese even further, again at the expensive of the incumbent Lebanese government. Such support from disadvantaged Lebanese will also translate into political support for the group, especially at the polls.
Hezbollah have never been coy about their military wing and often proudly display it. 72 Hezbollah’s “…staged processions and parades” often include representatives of the IRGC. In Hezbollah’s second military parade “there were reports of 5,000 Hezbollah fighters marching through Baalbek … with the representative of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards prominent among the speakers.” 73
Iran’s annual financial assistance to Hezbollah is surprisingly little, perhaps no more than $100 million a year (excluding 2006, after the July war with Israel). 74 Some estimates have placed Iran’s contribution to Hezbollah closer to $200 million a year. 75 However, these figures are not particularly significant bearing in mind that Iran earns about $50 billion a year in oil exports. 76
Essentially bank-rolled by Iran, Al-Manar is Hezbollah’s primary tool of propaganda and conduit for promoting terrorism. 77 Experts have estimated that in 1992, the year of its founding, Al-Manar’s running budget was $1 million. 78 By 2002, the budget was estimated to have grown to roughly $15 million. 79 Iranian patronage is indirect, as part of the overall Iranian contribution given to Hezbollah who, in turn, transfers money to Al-Manar. This was confirmed by former Al-Manar program director Sheikh Nasir al-Akhdar. 80 Hezbollah also pursues its own avenues to acquire the funds necessary for its political objectives and military operations. These avenues include the drug trade, crime and printing counterfeit money, primarily American dollars – possibly with help from Tehran, 81 as described below.
Hezbollah appears to have been involved in the Lebanese drug trade since the early 1990s. Hezbollah profits handsomely from harvesting opium poppies and growing cannabis in Lebanon. 82 By 1992 Lebanon was the source of roughly twenty percent of the heroin consumed in the US. 83 The US estimated that by 1992 Hezbollah had in territories under its control between “thirty to forty laboratories producing drugs locally…” 84 Hezbollah’s profits from “taxes” in the drug trade earned it at least $10 million per annum in 1992. 85 These “taxes” are likely the fees charged by Hezbollah for providing the farmers and growers with armed protection, particularly from the Lebanese army who have come under fire from Hezbollah militiamen when venturing too close to the fields.
Hezbollah is also involved in a variety of criminal activities. 86 Hezbollah’s European operation, for example, involves “collecting a tithe from Lebanese involved in the commerce of luxury automobiles and other goods stolen in Europe that are brought to the Bekaa or “resold” to their owners for large sums of money.” 87 Spanish police have reported criminals connected to Hezbollah committing “…large-scale fraud connected with vacation apartments in the Caribbean, including forgery, extortion, and money laundering…” 88 Hezbollah’s diverse means of gathering funds for its objectives have certainly contributed to Hezbollah’s successes in Lebanon, for instance paying salaries, welfare and its generous social and public works and services. Hezbollah’s funding has ensured operational workability, the successes of which have translated directly into vast Lebanese support. This is self-evident in the sea of yellow Hezbollah and National flags in southern Beirut, especially at Hezbollah rallies.
An important source of funds for Hezbollah also comes from counterfeiting money, specifically US Dollars. Lebanon is today flooded with good quality counterfeit US$100 bills printed locally. 89 However, the much more sophisticated $100 bills, called “super notes,” which come very close (save two-to-three small flaws) to the original, likely stem from Tehran who, ironically, has the US to thank for their good fortune. During the 1970s the US had supplied the government of the Shah of Iran with two Intaglio presses. 90 This is confirmed by Yossef Bodansky who headed the research team for the House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. 91 Intaglio presses, valued at between US$10 million to US$15 million are manufactured in very few places and “used exclusively for printing money and government documents like passports.” 92 Of course, Khomeini’s revolutionaries captured these Intaglio presses in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. 93 Tehran can therefore legitimately print local currency as dictated by economic policy. Tehran can also print any other currency however. By far the most profitable (but amongst the most difficult) is the US dollar.
Furthermore, the revolutionaries not only have the presses, but the expertise as well. The new regime, in an effort to undermine the US currency on the world market, prints money for its own backwards economy and to support Hezbollah in Lebanon, and began printing $100 “super notes” of high quality. 94 Bodansky wrote: “…it can be assumed that the high quality of the super-notes can be ascribed to the cadre of Iranian experts trained in the 1970s by the US Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing.” 95 These trained experts were naturally employed by Khomeini’s regime following the revolution. 96 The US congressional task force “estimated that by 1995, Iran had distributed $15 billion in phoney US currency.” 97
Once these super notes have been printed, the Revolutionary Guards are responsible for their distribution, and Hezbollah is naturally a beneficiary. Intelligence sources have fingered “Moshen Rafiqdoost, one of the leaders of the Revolutionary Guards and former head of the Foundation of the Oppressed, Iran’s largest holding company” as the person responsible for distribution oversight. 98 The money makes its way into Lebanon – and to Hezbollah – who have “flooded Lebanon with the fake money.” 99 Many of these super notes have surfaced within the Middle East, especially in the Beka’a Valley in Lebanon and Tehran. 100
The Syrians also played a role in the fake money’s distribution. 101 The fake money was flown to Damascus, and then trucked to a forwarding base jointly run by Syrian and Iranian intelligence at Zabadani in Syria. 102 The money was then divided into smaller packets and shipped to distribution networks based in Lebanon. 103
Hezbollah also produced its own counterfeit American dollars however. The CIA states that Hezbollah has its own counterfeiting operation, employing expert forgers in a village near Baalbek, where there are ten to fifteen printing works that specialise in the various aspects of currency counterfeiting. 104 Some Lebanon banks charge a going rate of forty-five to sixty cents for counterfeit dollar. 105 Although the $100 bills produced from these machines are of good quality, they are not as good as the super notes produced by the Intaglio presses. 106
These counterfeit bills have become a lifeline for Hezbollah. 107 These bills were vital in the days after the second Lebanon War with Israel in 2006, in which Hezbollah undertook a large-scale reconstruction project of the affected areas. Also sensing an invaluable political opportunity, Hezbollah set out to win the hearts and minds of the population in the areas it controlled, and Hezbollah made sure everyone was watching. “As part of the war for public opinion [Hezbollah] handed out packages of $12 000 to every family whose home had been destroyed by the Israeli military’s bombardments of southern Beirut and the villages of southern Lebanon.” 108 In Beirut alone 15,000 homes were destroyed. 109 It is estimated that this operation cost Hezbollah around $200 million. 110
But where did the money come from? Israeli intelligence and the National Security Agency (NSA) are convinced that the money was printed from the intaglio printing presses. 111
Hezbollah’s domestic operations take place primarily in southern Lebanon in predominantly Shia areas, as well as the Bekaa Valley and the capital, Beirut. 112 “Operational” methods used by Hezbollah include, and have included; suicide bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, taking of hostages and hijackings. 113 Aircraft hijackings, such as TWA flight 847, 114 was a particular Hezbollah favourite during the 1980s. Hezbollah also typically ambushes convoys, lays explosive devices, and booby-traps cars. 115
Hezbollah’s motivations for these methods are often retaliation and leverage. 116 For instance, the hijacking of TWA flight 847 in 1985 was in retaliation for the attempted assassination of Sheikh Fadlallah, 117 the spiritual head of Hezbollah, and often attributed to the CIA within the intelligence world.118 Fadlallah survived the attempted hit on his motorcade although the blast claimed the lives of 80 civilians. 119 Hezbollah also used the hijacking to demand the release of 700 Shia prisoners in Israel (which they did). 120
Since the 1990s however, Hezbollah has favoured firing Katyusha rockets and special home-made rockets into Israel and at Israeli Defence Force (IDF) outposts and launching small-scale cross border raids on IDF personnel.
Indeed, right from the start in 1982, Hezbollah employed terror tactics to achieve its goal of forcing the Israeli military to withdraw. Hezbollah engaged Israel in a range of kidnappings, hijackings, and suicide bombings and conventional guerrilla warfare against Western and Israeli targets.” 121 All these activities constitute Hezbollah’s display of power and intent for their domestic and international audience. Preferring to remain in the light of innocence, Hezbollah seem to hide behind front groups who do their dirty work. 122 Hezbollah operatives have carried out these activities under groups such as Islamic Dawn and Revolutionary Justice Organisation (RJO) 123 and the Organisation of the Oppressed on Earth. 124 Moreover, the West has for years been playing catch-up to Hezbollah’s intelligence network and operations, and based on current evidence, Hezbollah’s intelligence capabilities remain as dangerous as ever.
Hezbollah also has an extensive foreign intelligence network. Hezbollah reportedly have operatives deployed across the globe, most notably in Europe, North and South America, East Asia and other Middle Eastern countries 125 and Africa. These operations reflect Hezbollah’s – and therefore, Iran’s – extensive capabilities outside of Lebanon. The ability of Hezbollah to deploy its operatives in foreign countries enables Hezbollah to come into contact with other sympathetic groups and even foreign governments. Hezbollah is also able to expand its financial procurement activities in foreign countries, especially where local government control is weak or limited. Mexico is a prime example, where Hezbollah has been linked to the lucrative drug trade running between the US and Mexico. 126 US President Barak Obama has recently offered to engage with Mexico in seriously combating the drug trade in Mexico, fuelled mostly by American demand for narcotics. 127 Obama may also be thinking about cutting off a lucrative source of funding for Hezbollah and US authorities would certainly have become aware of the extent of Hezbollah’s foreign involvement. 128 Of course, striking a blow at Hezbollah would also be undermining expanding Iranian influence in the world, and this is extensive.
The extent of Hezbollah’s foreign operative network is thus not only a reflection of the capability and sophistication of Hezbollah, but of Iran as well. It would be highly unusual for “terrorist” organisations or political resistance movements with a military wing to develop sophisticated intelligence capabilities on their own within only a couple decades. Generally, the Iranian involvement with, and support of, Hezbollah is well known, but it would appear that Iran has been far more helpful to Hezbollah that the public has been aware of.
All these aspects vastly complicate the work of counter-intelligence units from Iran and Hezbollah’s enemies. The Israelis have recently broken a spy cell in Germany and Egypt. In turn however, Hezbollah have uncovered Israeli spy networks in Lebanon, causing untold damage to Israel’s intelligence gathering in Lebanon. The extent of the damage this has caused to Israel’s human intelligence or HUMINT in Lebanon remains to be seen. Human intelligence sources are invaluable for intelligence agencies, especially when the use of expensive and sophisticated electronic equipment is not readily available. Human intelligence is the only means to relay important information to their handlers without the interception of coded messages sent electronically. The loss of these Israeli spy cells holds three consequences for the Israelis in Lebanon. Firstly, they have obviously lost their agents. 129 Secondly, “the modus operandi that the interrogation of such an agent reveals” has been lost. 130 Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, “is the effect of deterrence.” 131 The Lebanese have “published a case of those networks …” to deter further spies or other people who want to be recruited by Israeli intelligence. This also sends a clear warning that “…we are going to catch you and you are going to be severely punished.” 132
Other deadly weapons acquired by Hezbollah from Iran include Sagger missiles. 133 Hezbollah is believed to have received these weapons as early as 1993. These missiles are capable of penetrating an Israeli Merkava tank’s armour and a Hezbollah attack that took place on Israeli troops in 1993 would have killed all the crew had the Sagger not failed to detonate. 134 The Israelis only became aware that Hezbollah possessed these weapons after it was used on their soldiers. In 1993 “…in an assault on an SLA position, Hezbollah used Saggers against fortifications rather than tanks, killing three men.” 135
Lebanese Political and Military Responses
In May last year the Lebanese cabinet launched “a probe into a private telephone network set up by Hezbollah” and “reassigned the head of airport security over allegations that he was close to Hezbollah.”136 These two events sparked strong reaction from Hezbollah, which would highlight their influence on the Lebanese government.137 Clashes between government supporters and the Hezbollah-led opposition supporters led to an exchange of gunfire, forcing the Lebanese army and riot police to man checkpoints throughout Beirut and block several roads. 138 Hezbollah supporters closed off the major roads leading into Beirut, isolating several neighbourhoods, and shutting down the Beirut airport. 139 Government supporters in turn shut down the main highway between Beirut and Damascus, as well as the main road along the coast leading to southern Lebanon.140 At some point during the flare-up Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah held a press conference to announce Hezbollah’s “upcoming actions against the Western-backed government.” 141 Hezbollah defended the communications network as being part of the “resistance weapons.” 142
However, Hezbollah’s “resistance weapons” had clearly, and for the first time, been used against the Lebanese people themselves. This angered many Lebanese, raising concerns that Hezbollah has certainly lost some credibility amongst Lebanese as a “resistance” movement in the true sense of the word. In addition, Hezbollah had on a previous occasion vowed never to use their weapons against Lebanese not affiliated to their party.
Hezbollah’s private telephone network, the loyalty of key individuals in strategic places and the immediate and forceful reaction by armed Hezbollah supporters attest to Hezbollah’s popularity and influence. The airport official was tasked with securing the safety of the Hezbollah leadership flying in and out of the country. 143 The co-option of Lebanese civil servants seems easy for Hezbollah. This portrays not only a dual loyalty to the state (perhaps purely for economic reasons) and to an armed opposition, but also the inherent weakness of the current Western-backed Lebanese government.
Perhaps a more suitable example of Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon can be found in the Hezbollah controlled Al-Manar satellite TV. This channel is up-to-date and although highly biased in favour of Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran and Syria, the content seems as professionally managed as any other news channel found in Lebanon. To their credit, Al-Manar frequently includes stories from the opposing Israeli side, albeit to highlight Israeli aggression.
Lebanese politics do not escape the football pitch either. 144 The Al-Ansar and Nejmeh football teams are supported by the Hariri brothers, attract a largely Sunni support base and have dominated the league for years.145 However, Hezbollah is also involved in the Lebanese football league and this year, Hezbollah’s Al-Manar-sponsored football team, Al-Ahed, won the league cup, 146 which led to clashes with Sunni supports of either Al-Ansar or Nejmeh. 147 Interestingly, Hezbollah has sought to capitalise politically from this win, boasting of being a supporter of Lebanese culture and sports, thereby even further consolidating itself as a true political movement in Lebanon. 148 This attests to Hezbollah’s deep nationalism, but importantly also to its deep pockets, giving real credibility to Hezbollah’s status as a “state within a state”, complete with its own armed forces. Much of this is, of course, paid for by its patrons Iran and Syria.
On the 3rd of February 2009, Israeli intelligence became aware of “Hezbollah death squads” tasked to kill or kidnap Israeli citizens abroad.149 Tel Aviv believes Hezbollah is seeking revenge for the killing of one of their senior leaders – Imad Moughniyeh (“responsible for attacks that have killed hundreds of Israelis and Americans”).150 Following Moughniyeh’s assassination by Israeli intelligence in Damascus and in the heart of the Syrian intelligence community, Nasrallah declared that the war against Israel would now be waged across the globe. 151 As a precaution Israel has assigned tighter security to certain Israeli Knesset members travelling outside Israel. 152 The Israeli government has issued warnings to its citizens and has already detected Hezbollah operations overseas. 153 Israeli counter-terrorism units have also “disrupted several Hezbollah murder and or kidnap operations.” 154 Israel has also become aware of the activation of several sleeper cells in “Turkey, Europe, West Africa, Uzbekistan, Thailand and Egypt’s Sinai Desert…” 155 and is taking these threats to its citizens seriously, just as it did after the Munich attacks.
Although Israel’s apparent official classification of Hezbollah is that of a militia 156 it is widely believed to “unofficially” view Hezbollah as terrorists. Israel and the United States have made much about a statement made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel should be “wiped off the map,” which Ahmadinejad’s supporters have been at pains to discredit. George Galloway for example, has declared that the statement of “wiping Israel off the map” is a myth, nothing more than “discredited false propaganda.” 157 Mr Galloway stated that this is “a complete falsehood, as every professor of Farsi from Tel Aviv to Tokyo has already testified, no such comments have ever been made by Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad was quoting Ayatollah Khomeini…(when he said that) …the likes of communism, fascism and Zionism would disappear as an ideology from the pages of time.” 158 Galloway added that these words do not amount to “calling for Israel to be wiped off the face of the map.” 159 Unfortunately, at the next military parade held by the Revolutionary Guards in Tehran those very words – “wiping Israel off the map” – were emblazoned on the passing armaments.
Ronen Bergman, in his thrilling investigative book, The Secret War with Iran: the 30-year covert struggle for control of a ‘rogue’ state draws four important conclusions spanning the period of time referred to in the title. Three of his conclusions are most appropriate for this monograph on the dynamic and dangerous Iranian proxy – Hezbollah:
Firstly, Iran and Hezbollah have been winning the “war” against the West. The US and Israel have never before faced such “sophisticated, effective, and determined adversaries in the Middle East.” 160 In an ongoing intelligence war between the Shia extremist clergy in Tehran and Beirut and their subordinates versus Israel and the West, Israel and the West have been repeatedly outwitted and “beaten across the board, in politics, in intelligence gathering and in war”. 161
Secondly, the 2006 Lebanon War “greatly strengthened Iran and Hezbollah and resulted in the solidifying of an Iranian-Syrian alliance…” Bergman suggests that Iran’s strengthened position is evident by the change of Western attitudes.162 It is significant that the US is ready to speak directly with Iran, as opposed to the years of refusing to do so. 163 Iran’s position of strength is also evidence of the failure of Western states such as the US, Britain, France and Germany to effectively impose international sanctions on Iran in an effort to pressure Iran to abort its nuclear programme. 164 However, this goal has been made all the more difficult by Russia’s conflicting interests vis-a-vis sanctions on Iran, and Venezuela’s new partnership with Iran.
Finally, the 2006 Lebanon War “made little difference” to the goals pursued by Hezbollah or Israel. According to Bergman, “Hezbollah still aspires to take control of Lebanon and to establish an Islamic puppet regime in Beirut, which would actually be controlled from Tehran.” 165 This argument was given weight when Hezbollah launched a successful armed counter-action against the pro-Western March 14th Beirut government’s attempt to “curtail [Hezbollah’s] efforts to build a state within a state”. 166
Although some may disagree with Bergman that Hezbollah aspires to take control of Lebanon politically, it would seem that not doing so would be going only half the distance. Hezbollah have proven to be a patient, cunning and dangerous opponent. The many years in which the US and Israel have underestimated Hezbollah (not to mention Iran), have cost Israel and the West dearly. Hezbollah is not likely to risk forcibly taking over the government in Lebanon. Domestically, Hezbollah attaches much value to political legitimacy. It is important for Hezbollah to appear legitimate, justified, and needed in defence of Lebanon. Hezbollah may have raised a few eyebrows by its sporting conduct when it lost June 2009 election to the March 14th opposition.
United Kingdom – Political Considerations
Indeed, the British government has begun to appreciate the importance of Hezbollah and, by extension, Iran. The British government has recently reopened talks with Hezbollah, perhaps to the chagrin of the US. Tony Blair spoke with Hezbollah on 19 March 2009. 167 This may represent a shift in British attitudes towards Hezbollah, coming to terms with their political importance. The British government may well be of the same view as Mr. George Galloway MP, who has defended Hezbollah for years, that one “can’t pick and choose who other people have to represent them.” 168 The British government may be changing its stance towards Hezbollah from a terrorist organisation to a true, legitimate representative of the section of Lebanese people they represent. 169 Whether Britain will officially view Hezbollah as “a democratically elected political force” – which Hezbollah is according to Mr Galloway – remains to be seen. 170 A democratic election victory may not be far off either. Although the March 8th Hezbollah-led opposition (or resistance) failed to gain control of the government in the June 2009 election, it may not always be so. The UK may well think that now is a good time to open talks with Hezbollah and work towards an understanding, which could hold future possibilities of peace talks if this what Hezbollah and Iran want.
Moreover, Hezbollah seems to have become emboldened by Western (save for the US) willingness to recognise Hezbollah as a credible political movement. Hezbollah’s second in command, Sheikh Naim Kassem, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in April 2009 that he “…was encouraged by what he perceived as the ‘changing perception’ of his organisation in the West” and the “growing calls for ‘engagement’ with Hezbollah emanating from a number of European capitals.” 171 However, are these political considerations a true reflection of the UK’s changed stance towards Hezbollah – and Iran? Recent developments would indicate not, perhaps triggering a different set of political considerations altogether.
“Negotiating with Terrorists”
Shortly after the British government decided to engage with Hezbollah, the powers in Iran decided that this was not enough. Hezbollah had to be officially recognised, and it would appear that the British were effectively forced into such recognition. The British government’s recent “decision” to recognise Hezbollah has cast some light on the extent of Iran’s geopolitical ambitions and implies that Iran had something to do with London’s decision to recognise Hezbollah. 172 On April 6th 2009, London struck a deal with Iran and Hezbollah for the release of five Britons who had been held in Iraq in exchange for official recognition of Hezbollah. 173
The US has not been spared either. The US agreed, or conceded, to the release of “a number of Shia terrorists [US] forces in Iraq have captured.” 174 The implications are interesting, if not frightening. Iran did not seek to “negotiate” along traditional lines for this exchange. However one could argue that such brazen action would publicly give the game away. Nevertheless Hezbollah, at the behest of Iran, has simply opted to “take” this recognition, and “force” the West to acknowledge the politico-military Shia group. It is an open secret that
Hezbollah does the bidding of the Ayatollahs in Iran, and this is a clear indication of the extent of Iran’s growing influence, in this particular case primarily in Iraq. However, it is safe to say that Iran has forced its influence on the UK, whether the Britons like it or not. These developments have given new meaning to the phrase “we don’t negotiate with terrorists.” In fact, this over used cliche may just be a myth. 175
The United States classified Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation in the early 1980s, and has been at war with them ever since. Setting aside the possibility of a backdoor channel of communication between the US and Hezbollah, 176 any sort of political or diplomatic talks in the public sphere would entail certain conditions. A critical condition in such a hypothetical scenario would be that Hezbollah recognize Israel’s right to exist, a term that Nasrallah has repeatedly made clear are unacceptable. Although the Obama administration has engaged in a sort of rapprochement with the Iranians (as opposed to Bush’s label of Iranians as part of the “axis of evil”), such measures are a stretch with regards to Hezbollah. An analysis of American-Hezbollah dynamics must, therefore, include the Iranian aspect, or more currently the nuclear standoff pitting Iran, Syria and North Korea against everyone else.
America’s “relationship” with Hezbollah is based largely on the three violent attacks by Hezbollah on American personnel in Beirut, Lebanon in the early 1980s. In 1983 a suicide bomber detonated two thousand pounds of explosives in the back of his van, killing 63 and wounding a hundred more. 177 In a second attack later that year, a suicide bomber killed two hundred and forty-one marines, resulting in an American military withdrawal from Lebanon. 178 A third suicide attack killed twenty-four at the American embassy annex in northeast Beirut. 179 More recently however, Hezbollah has also been killing Americans in Iraq.
Hezbollah’s role in the War in Iraq
The only change in the dynamics of the America-Hezbollah relationship has been the battleground, where Iran – through Hezbollah – continues to destabilise the country. The US believes that for much of the war, Iran has been using Hezbollah to train Iraqi Shia militias to kill American and Iraqi government troops. 180 One of these militias include Iraq’s Mehdi Army militia, as confirmed by captured senior Hezbollah operative Ali Musa Taqduc. 181 Taqduc has also confirmed the involvement of Iran’s top leadership in Iraq, and that he himself had facilitated the link between the Quds force and the Mehdi Army militia. 182
Hezbollah’s involvement in Iraq may have started as early as November 2003, the same year as the invasion of Iraq. Imad Fayez Moughniyeh was itching to join the fight. In 2003 the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted a message from the Iranian Embassy in Beirut to the al-Quds headquarters in Tehran in which Moughniyeh (code-named “Tashin”) wanted to be “as involved as possible in the subject of Iraq.” 183 Quite possibly he got his wish. Nevertheless, Hezbollah continued killing Americans.
In January 2004 Israeli intelligence informed the US, via the CIA, that Hezbollah had created a new unit, Unit 2800, with the express purpose of “stirring up the rising in Iraq.” 184 Unit 2800’s headquarters were alleged to be in Beirut with most of its personnel coming from Hezbollah’s own Badr Brigade (not the Iraqi Badr Brigade) deployed in Southern Lebanon, North of the Litani River. 185 Unit 2800 personnel could easily enter Iraq through Iran, and use their experience and expertise alongside other forces fighting the US. 186
In 2005 Iraqi and American intelligence identified an additional Iranian influence in terror operations through Hezbollah. The new Iraqi intelligence services, set up under CIA guidance, revealed that Hezbollah had provided a six-month course in the building of roadside bombs and other such devices to 10 Mahdi Army specialists. 187 In the same year, Israeli military intelligence indicated that by July “a total of some 1,200 Mahdi Army men had taken part in various Hezbollah training programs.” 188 Syria also supplied Hezbollah with RPG-29 shoulder-launched missiles and Metis and Kornet missiles which Hezbollah then passed onto the Mahdi Army. 189 Iran has also been keeping the pressure on with the development of more sophisticated tools of death aimed at coalition forces.
Hezbollah operatives have allegedly been training and aiding insurgents in the use of Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFPs), a more destructive modification on the Improvised Explosive Devises (IEDs) that have already claimed many American lives. 190 Taqduc also confirmed that these more sophisticated EFP devices are believed to be manufactured by the Revolutionary Guards, and adopted from Hezbollah’s years of experience in their war against the Israeli military. 191 These EFPs were used increasingly in attacks on coalition forces in Iraq and are likely to feature more prominently in what seems to be a long-term US military engagement in Afghanistan. 192 By the end of 2006, EFPs had killed 170 Coalition troops and wounded 620.193 EFPs were regularly smuggled into Iraq by Revolutionary Guard personnel and Northern Badr Corps members. 194
It should be noted, however, that American and British intelligence services disagree as to where the EFPs are actually manufactured. It is believe that they are either made in Iran or Lebanon itself. It is also possible that Hezbollah had passed on the know-how to the Mehdi Army, which were apparently already capable of producing them. 195
The defection of former commander of al-Quds, General Ali Reza Askari, to the CIA would also shed some light on these EFPs. Shortly after his defection in 2008, Askari gave accurate intelligence of a shipment of EFP devices bound for the war zone. 196 The US was able to intercept the shipment of EFPs, which likely saved a number of lives.
In February 2009, the Iranians announced that they had produced a “surveillance drone.” 197 The US military reported tracking the Iranian drone during an over-flight roughly 100 kilometres north of Baghdad that month, 198 shooting it down later in March 2009. 199 Interestingly, both the Americans and Iranians kept silent about eliminating this drone (which the Iranians have denied) for roughly three weeks afterwards, perhaps highlighting the sensitivities of contact between the American and Iranian military.” 200 Nevertheless, it would appear that Iran is trying to keep an eye on US troops in neighbouring Iraq, undermining US forces and gathering intelligence on US and Iraqi troop locations and operations. Such intelligence is useful to Iranian interests in Iraq, such as Iraq’s Shia population or keep an eye on potential threats to Iran’s nuclear facilities. Such information could also prove fatal to US forces in Iraq if utilised by the likes of Hezbollah, the Mehdi Army militia or other insurgents. Hezbollah and Iran have also posed dangers to the US on their own soil. While many operations predate the standoff between the West and Iran’s nuclear profile, others are a direct result of this issue.
Hezbollah in America
During the 1990s most Hezbollah activists in the US settled in either Charlotte, North Carolina or Dearborn, Michigan, with their activities controlled from Beirut. 201 Headed by Fawzi Mustafa Assi, the Michigan network was responsible “for acquiring weapons and sophisticated items that the Iranians could not supply to Hezbollah on their own.” 202 Both locations have a sizeable Lebanese community, and this remains the case today. Also, in June 1992, the US discovered three Hezbollah members established as a cell in North Carolina. 203 The eldest of the three-man team, Mohammad Hammoud, was “a protege of Sheikh Abbas Harai, the military commander of Hezbollah in southern Beirut at the time.” 204 According to NSA and Israeli intelligence, Hammoud had also trained with the Revolutionary Guard in Iran and Lebanon since he was just fourteen years old. 205 Hezbollah terror cells in the US through the 1990s were not exclusively tasked with fundraising (legally or illegally) and arms procurement. In February 2002 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) testified that many Hezbollah subjects based in the US at the time had “the capability to attempt terrorist attacks here should this be a desired objective of the group.” 206 This remains the case today. These Hezbollah cells were also established with the intention of providing Iran with the option of a retaliatory attack, or attacks, on the US in the event of a strike on its nuclear facilities.
In 2005, Hezbollah operatives arrived in New York City. From their rented apartments their mission was to prepare for terrorist attacks on US soil in the event of an American strike at Iranian interests. 207 The operatives gathered intelligence on various potential targets such as the FBI offices in New York and several large department stores. 208 Experts analysing the information gathered on the operatives drew the conclusion that Iran was developing a retaliatory option were the US to strike Iranian nuclear installations.” 209
Later in 2005, American, Canadian and Israeli officials participating in operation “Double-Edged Sword” began to gather evidence on the Hezbollah New York cell. 210 However, at point when they were ready to apprehend the men, the operatives vanished. The Israelis and the Americans suspected a tip-off. 211
In November 2007, a 37 year-old Lebanese women named Rada Nadim Prouty, working inside American intelligence, was arrested by the FBI. 212 Prouty was a Hezbollah agent 213 “who used her security clearances to glean a great deal of information, which she then passed on to Hezbollah cells such as the Michigan-Hezbollah network…” 214 which allowed some the suspects to get away. 215 It is not clear whether Prouty was responsible for the tip-off to the Hezbollah operatives in New York. Worryingly however, Israeli and American intelligence services were convinced that Prouty was not acting alone, and that within the system – either on the Israeli or America side – another far more dangerous mole was passing information to other sleeper cells. 216 An investigation launched to find the other mole may still be ongoing. 217
Evidently, Iran and Hezbollah are not playing a defensive game. Iran has clandestinely developed plans which threaten the US as deterrence to attacking its interests. Iran has “contingency plans to conduct attacks against US interests” should the survival of its proxy Hezbollah, or that of Iran itself, be threatened. 218 The US is aware of these plans, and would certainly have to consider the possibilities and implications that an attack by Hezbollah operatives in the US would entail.
Hezbollah’s Global Footprint
Hezbollah’s activities in Egypt have been particularly interesting, and like their fellow Sunni’s in Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian government is been feeling the heat. In April 2009 the US and Israel were successful in pressuring the Egyptians to crack down on Hezbollah operatives in the Sinai. Egypt has started to take Hezbollah’s activities far more seriously, primarily in light of two factors: Firstly, the Egyptian state itself has become a proxy battleground resulting in perceived dangers of attack by Hezbollah on Egypt. 219 Secondly; Egypt seeks to undermine the Iran-Hezbollah axis in the Middle East by thwarting Hezbollah’s monetary and material support of Hamas in Gaza through Palestinian tunnel smuggling networks located in Egypt.
The first factor plays a role in the continuing proxy battles fought between anti-Iran and pro-Iranian actors. Saudi Arabia, for example, have been pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into Saad Hariri’s (who owns a Saudi passport) Future Movement party in Lebanon to counter the March 8th Hezbollah opposition. 220 It is perhaps significant that the Hariri family has for years been close to the Saudi Royal family. 221 The Saudis are interested in supporting Saad Hariri’s Future Movement to prevent Hezbollah from one day winning the parliamentary elections, which would also be beneficial to Iran and Syria. The Saudis are vehemently against Iran’s nuclear development programme and are becoming ever more marginalised by a rising Iran.
In Egypt, the security forces are cracking down on terrorists who support groups such as Iranian allied Hamas and Hezbollah. The Egyptians are taking Hezbollah’s recent activities in the Sinai personally. Although at this point the threat to Egypt seems to be mere allegation, evidence has been found suggesting that the threat is plausible. 222 The Egyptian authorities have, with collaboration from US and Israeli intelligence, captured 49 suspects of a Hezbollah “spy cell” in cooperation with Hezbollah operatives “accused of espionage, forging official documents and preparing explosives” in order to destabilise Egypt with terror attacks. 223 This plot is presumably in retaliation for Egypt closing the border crossing with Gaza during the three-week long Israeli offensive against Gaza, and Egypt’s alliance with the US. Nasrallah had, at the time, accused Cairo of being “complicit with Israel in its siege of Gaza;” damaging accusations indeed. 224 This has certainly damaged Egypt’s reputation among Arabs who may view Egypt as complicit in aggravating and prolonging the suffering of the Palestinian people by blocking the border. 225 Egypt may also be taking a more defensive stance as a result.
Although Nasrallah has denied that Hezbollah planned attacks to destabilise Egypt, he has confirmed that one member of the group of suspects, Sami Shihab, is indeed a member of Hezbollah. 226
Of concern to the Israelis are the “death squads” activated by Hezbollah to seek revenge for the Israeli assassination of Hezbollah’s supreme military commander Imad Moughniyeh in Damascus in 2008. The suspects captured were caught spying on Israeli tourists in the Sinai, a popular tourist attraction and vacation spot for many Israelis. The Israelis are also concerned about the continuous arming of Hamas, and especially about the danger posed to Israeli citizens from Hamas’ Qassam rockets. Israeli intelligence has helped uncover tunnel smuggling routes from the Sinai into Gaza. 227 By shutting down these tunnels, Israel hopes to thwart both Hamas and Hezbollah attacks against Israel, and Iran’s capacity to supply these groups thereby hampering Iranian efforts against Israel.
Secondly, Egypt can take pleasure in thwarting the expanding Iranian influence in the region by cutting off Iranian support – through Hezbollah – to Hamas. This would undermine Hamas’ capabilities and perhaps strengthen Fatah in relation to Hamas, thus creating a greater possibility of a two state solution with Israel. By forcing Hamas into a weaker position in favour of Abbas’ Fatah, Hamas will have less bargaining power.
Another dimension is Egypt’s at asserting itself in the region and maintain its traditional position as a supporter of the two-state solution. Iran is a rising superpower in the Middle East and a stronger Shia Iran supported by Arab Syria will, to some extent, result in a loss of influence and strength for Egypt. Egypt has traditionally been the mediating actor for a two state solution between the Arab states and Israel, where Israel’s right to exist is recognised by all in return for the establishment of a recognised Palestinian state and the withdrawal of Israel from occupied territory. A “nuclear Iran” will undoubtedly change the balance of power in the Middle East, especially towards Israel. Iranians are Persians, not Arabs, and this added to the fact that Iran is mostly Shia while most other Arab countries are predominantly Sunni, will create tensions that could tip the fragile applecart that is the status quo in the Middle East. It follows therefore that Arab countries such as Egypt will do all they can to undermine Iran’s rising influence and power. Although cracking down on Hezbollah will do very little material damage to Iran itself, it does send the message that Egypt is still a factor and willing to defend its own interests. Essentially, therefore, Egypt is fighting marginalisation vis-a-vis Iran.
Ironically, Egypt’s crackdown against Hezbollah may, in fact, be working in Hezbollah’s favour. These events serve only to enhance Hezbollah’s image amongst Shia Muslims, Palestinians, or any other person opposed to Israel and its occupation of Palestinian land. Since supplying Hamas can only mean strengthening the resistance against the Zionists, Hezbollah’s image as a resistance movement will thus be improved. In fact, Hezbollah are proud of the accusations and their crimes, as stated by Nasrallah:
“If helping the Palestinians is a crime, I officially admit to my crime …and if it is an accusation, we are proud of it. Everybody knows that this is not the first time Hezbollah has tried to furnish arms to the Palestinians” Indeed “… [Hezbollah] sees it as a duty for all Arab countries to support Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups in Gaza in order to resist Israeli occupation …” 228
From a psychological perspective, being seen to aid Hamas is almost as good as actually physically aiding Hamas; the effect is virtually the same. Hezbollah have sent out the message that they still support their Palestinian brothers against the Israelis. This was especially significant in Lebanon in the run up to the June parliamentary elections. Many, if not all Lebanese, resent Israel’s continued occupation of the Shebaa farms. However, publicly reaffirming Hezbollah support for Hamas in such dramatic fashion may also be a face-saving exercise by Hezbollah. During the Israeli offensive, Operation Cast Lead, in Gaza in 2008, Hamas had called on Hezbollah’s aid in their fight against the Zionists as part of a third Intifada.
However Hezbollah failed to commit any tangible support to Hamas. In fact, Hezbollah failed to fire off a single rocket. 229 Reasons for this lay in Iranian restraint.230 As will be expanded upon later, Tehran was, and is, wary of Israel counter-actions against Hezbollah which would further weaken the organisation following the bruising Hezbollah-Israeli war in 2006.
In Sudan, Hezbollah has reportedly “sent military trainers to Sudan [in 2008] to train elements of the militia movement that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir established recently to deal with the ‘American campaign’ against his regime.” 231 A Hezbollah delegation headed by Hajj Hassan has also recently paid a quiet visit to Khartoum in a gesture of solidarity. 232 How Israeli and American intelligence services will react to Hezbollah’s presence in Sudan will be interesting, as well as the consequences this will have for Al-Bashir and his regime. Worryingly, the Arab world has shown much solidarity towards Al-Bashir, refusing sanctions against him and hosting him at Arab-led conferences. In addition, the presence of African Union peacekeeping troops in Sudan has seemingly sparked the ire of Islamic-militant groups such as Hamas, Al-Qaeda, and Iran and Hezbollah. This makes “peacekeeping” quite problematic, if not impossible in some cases. For Muslims, Sudan may appear to be yet another frontier against the West, which is seen as undermining another Arab incumbent in an Islamic state. Although Sudan, or at least the parts under government control, appears to be moderate, Iran and perhaps Al-Qaeda would prefer a more radical or extremist Islamic state in Sudan. Reasons for this could include presenting the West with a much fiercer resistance and intimidating Sudan’s Western-backed neighbours into silence or intransigence towards their operations. Sudan may also fall under the influence of Iran’s overlord ambitions in the Middle East and the Muslim world. From Sudan, Iran is able effectively operate in neighbouring Egypt, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Chad, Libya and nearby Somalia.
The Revolutionary Guard, in conjunction with Hezbollah, have repeatedly showcased their capabilities abroad. Ayatollah Khamenei is also becoming more aggressive. Khamenei’s recent statements of presenting the West with a “fierce fist” is a telling reply to Obama’s call for Iran to un-clench its fists (and other like countries), made at the President’s inaugural speech.
The Turkish branch of Hezbollah serves as yet another illustration of the relationship between Iranian intelligence and Hezbollah’s participation in Iran’s terror strategy in the context of Tehran’s regional ambitions. Hezbollah’s Turkish operations are particularly notorious, especially during the 1990s. During this time Turkish Hezbollah’s primary function was to eliminate Iranian dissidents taking refuge in Turkey. 233 The Turkish government, much like the Europeans, did little to stop the killings. 234 Turkish Islamic extremists were also being recruited and taken to Tehran for training. 235 In 2002, two Turkish researchers, Bulent Aras and Gohan Bacic, found that Hezbollah in Turkey had been involved in excess of a thousand operations and hundreds of murders, not all of whom were Iranian dissidents. 236 Aras and Bacic have also identified VEVAK’s Department 15 to have been intrinsically involved in Turkish Hezbollah’s operations. 237
As a precursor to similar pressure on Mubarak, in 2000 the US and Israel pressurised the Turkish government to carry out a rare operation against Hezbollah. 238 As with most states infiltrated by Hezbollah, Turkey’s intransigence towards Hezbollah’s activities were motivated by fear – fear that their nationals would be kidnapped or killed in other countries. Wary of Arab dissent, Turkey also had the opinion of other Arab states to consider. Could they act against a Hezbollah that was very popular with Hamas who, in turn, enjoyed support from a number of Arab states? Nevertheless, the Americans and Israelis sought to arrest Farham Osman who had dual Turkish and Iranian citizenship and was known to work for Hezbollah. 239 Osman was arrested and confessed to killing Shin Bet operative and security officer of the Israeli Embassy, Ehud Sadan, in Ankara the Turkish capital in 1992. 240 Osman said that he had carried out the killing on orders from Iran, where he had also received training and weapons. 241 To American and Israeli intelligence, Osman’s confession must have sounded like a broken record. At the heart of the European Union (EU), Hezbollah have also been making their presence felt.
In February 2007, German intelligence estimated that over “1,000 Hezbollah supporters [were] living in Germnay.” 242 Many of these were believed to be inactive, and those that were active appeared to be involved primarily in fundraising for Hezbollah. 243 Such a sizeable community of Hezbollah supporters presents the organisation with opportunities to gain recruits for the purpose of attacks in the event they are needed. 244 Moreover, Hezbollah representatives from Lebanon’s ‘foreign affairs office’ are known to regularly visit Germany to transmit orders to their followers. 245 Interestingly, Hezbollah’s supporters are far more “outgoing” in Germany than elsewhere. A German government report from February 2007 described the attitude of Hezbollah supporters in Germany as “…characterised by a far-reaching, unlimited acceptance of the ideology and policy [of Hezbollah].” 246 However, why should this be so in Germany? The radical and aggressive atmosphere found in parts of Germany provides a reason for this hard-line approach by Hezbollah supporters.
Germany has recently experienced an increase in neo-Nazi activity and violent behaviour. Such a violent atmosphere presents problems for local authorities as Lebanese and Germans alike rebel against what they see as their oppressor. Lebanese identification with German neo-Nazis’ sense of embattlement, injustice, and even anti-Zionist affinities presents a volatile cocktail of dissent which will only aggravate existing problems. For German authorities this presents increased hooliganism and violence. For Hezbollah, as seen above, this presents an opportunity to recruit committed and sympathetic expatriates in support of larger operations against Israeli’s and Americans.
On 31st July 2007, two Hezbollah activists – motivated by revenge over the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published in Denmark – attempted to detonate two bombs on trains in Dortmund and Koblentz. 247 The bombs failed to explode: however, had they exploded scores of people could have been killed. The two activists were captured using Israeli intelligence provided to the German intelligence agency, the BND. In an older case Hezbollah activist Bassem Raghib Maki, a student in Germany, was arrested in 1989 for plotting terror attacks in the US and Germany. Maki had gathered pre-operational intelligence on Israeli Jews in the US and Germany who were targeted for attack. 248 Maki also received instructions in Arabic for the preparation of bombs.249 Since the 1980s, Hezbollah has been known to operate in this manner in countries such as Spain, France, Switzerland and Cyprus.
The terror attacks in Buenos Aires during 1990s stand out as Hezbollah’s most prolific. More significantly however, these terror attacks are also defining moments of the intimate relationship between Iranian intelligence and Hezbollah. Indirectly implicating Iran, these attacks tell a revealing story of how Tehran, acting through Hezbollah, strikes at its enemies abroad whilst leaving little trace of its involvement and securing political deniability. However, Iranian fingerprints left at the scene were uncovered despite Tehran’s bribe to Argentinean President Carlos Menem of $10 million dollars to keep a lid on Iran’s involvement. 250
On the 17th March 1992 the Israeli embassy was blown up by Hezbollah operatives carrying out orders from Beirut and Tehran, all part and parcel of the ideological mission against its sworn enemies in the context of a mutual covert intelligence war with the West. 251 The bombing of the Israeli embassy, from a car packed with explosives killed 29 people, of which four were Israeli embassy workers and five local Jews. 252 242 people were also injured. 253 Israeli intelligence was certain that the attack was revenge for the Israeli assassination of Abbas Mussawi only a month earlier. 254
The attack caught the Israelis and the Americans completely by surprise. Israeli intelligence elicited the assistance of American intelligence to investigate the attack. American intelligence investigated whether indications of the attack had actually been noticed, but not properly interpreted in the days prior to the attack. 255 Indeed, the National Security Agency (NSA) ascertained that “a message from the Iranian embassy in Moscow to Tehran intercepted three days before the attack….” had not been translated in real time. 256 The intercepted
messages implied that Iran was deeply involved 257 and clearly showed that the Iranians were aware of an impending attack on Israelis in South America. Coded signals from Iranian embassies in Buenos Aires and Brasilia to Iran confirmed knowledge of the operation. 258 The Israelis were informed and it came to light that the operation was carried out by the infamous “Iranian Jackal” – Imad Moughniyeh – together with a senior Hezbollah member named Talal Hamiyah. 259 The NSA also intercepted a call made by Hamiyah to Moughniyeh in which they mocked Shin Bet for failing to protect their nationals. 260
Argentinean intelligence, SIDE, also provided evidence of Iran’s involvement. 261 SIDE provided transcripts of an argument between an Iranian diplomat and his wife some time after the attack. The diplomat’s wife had threatened to tell everything she knew of his part in “what happened to the offices of the Zionists.” 262
These intercepted messages and the interesting threat made by the Iranian diplomat’s wife make a convincing argument that Tehran not only knew full well of the bombing operation, but that they were ordered and aided by VEVAK. 263
The CIA investigative report described the bombings as “…the model of an Iranian-led operation, with Iran working through Hezbollah to avoid direct evidence of its involvement.” 264 The CIA identified common elements between the Israeli embassy bombings and past Hezbollah operations and created a “model” of operation. Briefly, a Hezbollah operative would depart from Lebanon and arrive in the target country with forged papers supplied by the Iranian Embassy in Beirut. The operative would then set up a “local support cell” by recruiting sympathizers within a resident Shia community. Hezbollah operatives specifically seek out those who are familiar with local customs and conduct. Hezbollah agents able to blend into their environment would then gather information on various targets. Following target selection from Beirut or Tehran, a small unit of three or four Hezbollah operatives would then travel to the target zone to execute the attack. 265 The same CIA report revealed that Iranian intelligence and Hezbollah had operated in this way in the US, Balkans, Cyprus, Spain, Mexico, Thailand, the UK, Austria, Germany, and Venezuela, as well as Argentina. 266
Moreover, a “local support cell” does not appear particularly difficult to create, depending on the size and perhaps sentiment of the local Shia population. It should be noted however, that support for Hezbollah – in fundraising or operations – is certainly not exclusively dependent on Shia Lebanese nationals. Sunni and even Christian Lebanese, given enough ill sentiment towards Hezbollah’s sworn enemies, can serve as useful auxiliaries to Hezbollah operations. Buenos Aires happened to be home to a large Shia immigrant community from Lebanon who stayed in close contact with family back home, and were “ready to help when necessary.” 267 Buenos Aires is also conveniently located in the Triple Frontier area bordering Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. 268 Nonetheless, Argentinean, American and Israeli intelligence services all concurred that members of the Shia community of Ciudad del Este, Buenos Aires, acting on orders of Hezbollah and Iran, provided the finance, planning, and the eventual implementation of the operation on the Israeli embassy. 269 Israeli Mossad knew that the attackers had returned to Ciudad del Este and warned that Israeli intelligence had to immediately crack down on the Shia community there or face another attack in short order. 270 The warning was not heeded.
On July 18, 1994 Hezbollah struck again. “A bomb had detonated under the 7-floor building that housed the offices of the Argentinean Jewish community organisation – Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) – killing 86 people and injuring 252.” 271 A “high-level Iranian defector,” Abdolghassem Mesbahi, claimed that the decision to bomb the AMIA building was made at a meeting in August 1993 involving senior Iranian decision makers. 272 The meeting was said to be attended by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Vlayati, the head of Intelligence and Security Mohammed Hjazi, the former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian, and Iranian secret service agent Mohsen Rabbani. 273
Operation “Centauro” – a joint CIA and SIDE operation – was launched three months after the attack. 274 Argentinean court documents reveal that SIDE believes that the attack originated from a fatwa issued by Khamenei. 275 An Argentinean commander involved in the operation revealed that a member of Hezbollah had called all the Iranian embassies in South America from Ciudad del Este. 276 The last call made, ten days before the bombing turned out to be the personal number of Hassan Nasrallah himself. 277
However, it is abundantly clear that Iran has not “left” South America, and neither has Hezbollah. Operation “Centauro” was regrettably scrapped after Mossad had to pull out of South America following “ego struggles with Argentinean intelligence and Mossad.” 278 Filling the vacuum, Iran has been re-establishing its agent networks through Hezbollah and Lebanese immigrants on the continent. 279 Iran has also been actively bolstering its relations with several states, most notably Venezuela.” 280
Obama’s recent meetings and overtures of American friendship towards Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is reminiscent of Cold War behaviour in which the super powers vied for countries to be incorporated into their political systems or sphere of influence at the expense of the other. The US is attempting to prevent Chavez falling into the embrace of an Iran short of friends. After Ahmadinejad hosted Chavez in Tehran, analysts read a possible friendship between the two states and pondered expected reactions from the US. Indeed, such a friendship was given credence when Obama responded by meeting Chavez and, smiling broadly in front of flashing cameras, conversed with Chavez. Western media portrayed the meeting as a start of brand new friendly relations between the two estranged states. Has the US effectively hijacked Ahmadinejad’s efforts to befriend Chavez? Perhaps not. Chavez would appear to have sided with Ahmadinejad, and this could pose a threat to US security.
Venezuela could once again become a safe staging area for Hezbollah and other Islamist groups for operations in South America, or the United States. This could also pose a threat to the weak state of Honduras – the only Latin American state to host a permanent US military base, in itself a potential target of terror. However, concerns over Hezbollah’s presence in Venezuela are nothing new. In 1992, for example, Hezbollah members from the large Lebanese community living on the Venezuelan Margarita Island, aided several members of the Charlotte, North Carolina Hezbollah cell to infiltrate the US. 281
Exporting the Revolution
Following the Iranian revolution in 1979, Khomeini and his followers pursued Leninist doctrine which advises that “a revolution which does not export itself is doomed to implode.” 282 Thus circling the wagons to defend the gains made by the revolution (the overthrow of Western imperialist puppet rule and a spiritually led and guided Islamic Republic) would not be kept exclusively for Iranians. Rather, Ayatollah Khomeini exported his revolution and pushed the boundaries. The Pasdaran was not created only to defend the Revolution’s achievements; it was also tasked with spreading Shia ideology and sowing the seeds of revolution, particularly abroad, towards a greater Islamic state and world. Khomeini identified the 21 countries in the Muslim world as the first market for this exportation of Iran’s Revolution. 283 Khamenei would take it further, to predominantly non-Muslim, even non-Arab states and to the doorstep of Islam’s apparent mortal enemies – the Great Shiatan: America and the Zionists. The strategy is working, in some parts more obviously than others. Mubarak’s regime in Egypt is particularly wary of the sort of mass student protests as seen in Iran recently. Furthermore, the Shia obsession with martyrdom is a dangerous sentiment for students and other oppressed groups in Egypt such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The idea of martyrdom, concomitant with a frustrated population, could prove very powerful in Egypt. Although the authorities are likely to win in any confrontation with students, Mubarak’s regime would come under pressure from the international community and other interest groups.
Hezbollah, brainchild of the Revolutionary Guard, was to be Iran’s natural tool to export the Revolution and the terror that has come and is yet to come with it. One need only follow the plethora of Hezbollah operations, or attempted operations around the world to become aware of the extent to which Hezbollah and, thus, Iran have actively spread Shia Islam, terror and fear-based influence (which has served Iran’s aggressive foreign policy well). The host of countries featured in this paper attest to the success of Iran’s, through Hezbollah’s, global reach. However, could Iran be trying to do too much? Hardly – Iran is not in danger of overreach, simply because it is not an expensive endeavour.284 It is generally inexpensive to arm small groups with arms and explosives. 285 Indeed, those Hezbollah members trained by the Revolutionary Guard can, and have in turn, trained other Islamist groups such as the Mahdi Army in Iraq, Hamas and others. Suicide bombers are not exceptionally expensive to train either since, driven by blind fanaticism, their only concern is to secure a place in heaven, blanket forgiveness for their sins past and future, and no less than 72 virgins. 286
Yemen – the New Engagement
The latest manifestation of Iran’s project to export its revolution may be found in Yemen, bordering Saudi Arabia, where a five-year-long war between Houthi rebels from the Zaidi branch of Shia Islam, and the Yemenese government is being waged. 287 In September 2009, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh accused Iran of taking advantage of Arab disunity in Yemen and wanting to spread Shia Islam in predominantly Sunni Yemen. 288 Iran is apparently facilitating the Houthi war efforts with cash and weapons 289 and through Hezbollah, who are training the rebels “how to make and use grenades, mines and arms.” 290
Ideologically, the Houthis have embraced a more radical ideology, which some attribute to Iranian influence. 291 Hakim Al Masmari, a journalist at the Yemen Post, said: “The Houthis are loyal towards the Iranians, they are loyal towards Hezbollah and Hassan Nasrallah, but there is no proof whatsoever that this loyalty has turned into funds and support.” 292
Iran and Hezbollah’s activities in Yemen may play another role however. Tehran may be using Hezbollah to distract the Saudis from Iran’s nuclear programme, where developments vis-a-vis Israel and the US are quickly coming to a head. Hezbollah’s involvement in training the Houthis may also serve as a threat to Saudi Arabia not to oppose Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. With the Houthi rebel conflict taking place so close to the Saudi-Yemeni border, Riyadh will take its border security seriously, especially against cross-border terrorist threats. Indeed, the Saudis have naturally gone on their own offensive, supporting the Yemeni government with weapons. Some of these Saudi weapons have fallen into Houthi hands and are readily displayed on videos in which Saudi Arabian markings on the weapons are clear. 293
Israel and Syria
Syria stepped up its political support for the Hezbollah-led alliance through a distinctly anti-Israeli angle ahead of the Lebanese parliamentary elections on 7th June 2009. This support for Hezbollah must be seen in the context of Syria’s regional ambitions as a major, if not indispensible player, along with ally Iran. Syria’s public anti-Israel angle may arouse some curiosity because it is less political and more in line with Arabism and Islamic values. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has characterised Syria’s support of Hezbollah as supporting a resistance movement against Israel, and not because Hezbollah is a Lebanese faction. 294 This association in itself lends legitimacy in the eyes of Arabs and this also gives Syria credibility and respect in Middle East talks. 295 This is helpful in offsetting Arab discontent at Syria’s involvement and continual denial of its involvement in assassinating Rafiq Hariri. Syria’s hosting of radical Islamic groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad earns Damascus some measure of respect in the Arab world and this consists a major source of leverage.
Perpetually meddling in domestic Lebanese affairs, Damascus has nevertheless been careful not to appear as a divisive influence amongst Lebanese people. Syria is all too aware that many Lebanese, whether Christian or Sunni still view them with suspicion of involvement in Rafiq Hariri’s assassination.296 Syria continues to support Hezbollah’s diverse and sophisticated political machine within Lebanon primarily to defend its own interests in Lebanon and at the same time cast itself as an indispensible actor for Middle East peace. In pursuit of the former, Syria lends support to Hezbollah as a proxy which is used to torment and harass Israel. The strategy behind this has traditionally been to acquire a strong bargaining position vis-a-vis Israel in a deal involving the long sought after occupied Golan Heights in return for peace. 297 In terms of the latter, Syria is preoccupied with capturing the Islamic moral high ground in the region. Syria has cast itself as a defender of Arabism and against Zionist aggression which it sustains by supporting terrorist organisations and supporting security to Lebanon through Hezbollah. This naturally casts a light of legitimacy over Syria, and respect for its bold foreign policy. As a result, Syria became an important player in Middle East peace talks – something Damascus will take maximum advantage of. An extension of Syria’s interests in Lebanon may be grander regional power.
Syria’s hopes for a Hezbollah-led government, along with its alliance with Iran, may be connected to feelings of insecurity over its own nuclear ambitions, if there are any. Syria may be hoping that both Iran and a future internationally recognised Hezbollah-led government will provide better protection for its own nuclear plans. In this, nuclear weapon capability would be truer to Syria’s style. Indeed, in late November 2008 there was evidence that Assad tried to secretly develop a “nuclear capacity”. 298 This occurred in the aftermath of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah in which Damascus openly supported Hezbollah. 299 Syria had built a “clandestine nuclear facility” at al-Kibar, which Israel promptly destroyed in September 2007. 300 Moreover, the Americans are concerned about Syria’s lack of cooperation regarding requests from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials to conduct further inspections of the al-Kibar site where they had previously found “traces of uranium and graphite,” evidence that Syria had been involved in uranium enrichment activities. 301
Syria’s regional ambitions and long term goals are now particularly in play as part of wider regional manoeuvrings amongst various actors. The backdrop to this activity are the Syrian-Israeli negotiations in which the US is becoming increasingly involved, and necessarily so.
Syrian – Israeli negotiations
As of the 26th of April 2009, the Israelis have sent positive messages with regards to peace negotiations with Syria. 302 Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has said that Israel is open to talks with Syria, but that this is dependent on Syria ceasing its support of terror in the region. 303 However, Barak’s statements slightly contradict those made earlier by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who says that Israel is willing to negotiate with Syria “but only if talks were held without preconditions.” 304 Arguably, this is a precondition in itself. Lieberman is of the view that Israel should not be pressed into first giving up its occupation of the strategic Golan Heights, which borders Israel and Syria in return for peace. 305 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also supports this view. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad however, does not. In April 2009 Assad voiced his doubts that peace talks with Israel would be successful stating that he is “…not very optimistic about this [Israeli] government.” 306 Damascus will only consider talks if the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights are returned to Syria. Israeli-Syrian negotiations have hitherto been characterised by Turkish mediation to the exclusion of the US. 307 However Turkey succeeded in bringing the Syrians back to the negotiating table and talking to Israel. 308 since the start of secret talks between Israel and Syria in 2008 with mediation from Turkey. 309 It helps that Turkey is a US ally, a member of NATO and maintains diplomatic relations with Israel. 310 This garners trust between the involved parties although Syria maintains its support for Hezbollah. 311
These indirect talks under Turkish mediation were apparently quite successful based on “unofficial reports and leaks” which suggested that a breakthrough was very near (BICOM 14/05/2009). 312 However, Syria withdrew from the talks when Israel launched its offensive in Gaza in December 2008. 313 A few months later Damascus sought to continue the talks, this time directly. In March 2009 Syrian President Bashar Assad expressed his willingness talk directly with Israel if they were mediated by the United States. 314
Israel and Syria are currently engaged in indirect talks but both are calling on the US to now progress the talks. 315 It is commonly understood that current negotiations would entail borders, security, water, and diplomatic normalisation, implemented over a number of years. 316 Although the issues are largely the same, the importance of an agreement on them is unprecedented.
The current status of Israeli-Syrian negotiations hinge upon US-Syrian talks. Positive results from US-Syrian talks could make the thorny issues between the Israelis and Syrians less intractable. Israel expects a lot from Syria in exchange for the Golan Heights, most significantly Syria’s abandonment of its all ally and foreign policy tool – Hezbollah. Without an “altered” situation, the trade is not viable. If the US can succeed in securing Israel’s security concerns through appealing to Damascus’s political prestige and empty pockets then this may be enough to address Israel’s security needs. Syria would like rapprochement with the US because it holds political and economic interests. 317 Economically, the US could lift all its sanctions on Syria and unblock its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) since 2001. 318 These carrots are intended to tempt Syria away from Iran and Hezbollah. Theoretically, the return of the Golan Heights to Syria will no longer necessitate the use of Hezbollah to attack Israel to the effect of forcing Israel to negotiate for peace in with this territory would be the primary demand. Also, Syria would be prudent to be less confrontational with the West. Syria does not posses cushioning oil reserves to buffer it against sanctions in intensely confrontational policies towards the US as that used by Iran and Venezuela. 319
In such a scenario, a land-for-peace deal involving the Golan Heights trade is much more viable as there is something tangible, and worthwhile to trade. The Golan Heights will not be handed to Syria on a “silver platter” whilst Syria’s close ties with Iran and Hezbollah remain. 320 Israel’s security concerns are that Syria allows its territory to be used by the very groups threatening Israel, Syria’s ongoing funding and support to Hezbollah and Hamas 321 and is thus far unhelpful in the security situation in Iraq. Concerning Iraq, the US would be directly serving its own interests by pursuing the aforementioned strategy since Syria’s agreement to a broader security arrangement will contribute towards a stable Iraq. Syria have failed to prevent Jihadist fighters from entering Iraq via Syrian territory. 322
The aforementioned deal hinges upon Syria’s leverage over Hezbollah and Hamas. If Syria can guarantee holding back Hamas and Hezbollah on its end in exchange for the Golan Heights then a deal is on the cards. This is problematic however, in that Syria may not have the necessary clout with Hezbollah and Hamas to restrain violence against Israel. Although Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas all have headquarters in Damascus, 323 the fact remains that it is Iran which holds most sway over them. The loss of Syrian support would naturally be a blow to these groups, however it would arguably not be crippling. Iran remains their primary enabler and facilitator, and since convincing Iran to give up its support of Hezbollah and Hamas is an impossibility, believing that Syria can do so is expecting far too much. Indeed there have been sentiments expressed at the senior Israeli levels that Syria may not have sufficient sway over Hezbollah and Hamas and the promises this may hold for Israel’s security. 324 If the Israeli’s do not feel confident that Syria can restrain them then a Golan Heights trade is fanciful and unrealistic.
Effective Syrian-Israeli negotiations may result from US political manoeverings vis-a-vis Iran and its relationship with Syria. The US has been working towards bringing Syria back into the international political spectrum since March 2009. 325 The main motivation for this is to steer Syrian relations away from Iran and more towards the West and other important Arab actors such as Saudi Arabia. 326 A positive result this could have for an agreement between Israel and Syria is decreased Syrian support for Hezbollah which the US seeks to isolate. 327
More importantly however, would be the change of behaviour from Hezbollah and particularly Iran. 328 If Syria severs ties with Hezbollah then both Hezbollah and Iran will be forced to moderate their stance and aggression against Israel. 329 Hezbollah may well consider raining down a few less rockets on Israel, lest Israel launch yet another offensive against Hezbollah and, given its already weakened position, this can set the group back militarily as well as politically in Lebanon. If the Israelis succeed in trading the Golan Heights for a Syrian divorce from Iran, then Hezbollah will be weakened military. Weaker Hezbollah military capability will also limit the damage and certain backlash of an Israeli strike on Iran. A weaker Hezbollah makes this a more attractive possibility and has fewer domestic backlash potential within Israel. A successful deal between Israel and Syria, presumably on the back of US carrots and sticks, for returning the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for a viable peace ensured by Damascus may undermine Hezbollah’s mantel as a true resistance movement. Israel would cease to be an occupying force against Hezbollah’s ally which could create waves for Hezbollah’s justification of its “resistance weapons”.
This would create pressure on Hezbollah from Lebanese to take steps in disarming itself, especially since stockpiles of dangerous materials and weapons become less justifiable. The threat of an Israeli offensive will remain a possibility however, and this may well be all the motivation Hezbollah needs to justify keeping its weapons and rocket arsenal. This in turn places Hezbollah in a different danger, in that Hezbollah will keep itself on the firing line with Israel. Were Hezbollah to decisively lose to the Israelis in the next offensive, it could see a loss of political support from Lebanese who may then wish to call for a lasting and comprehensive peace agreement between the two sides, which would certainly involve curtailing Hezbollah’s arsenal. However, such an event would be quite an assumption. Hezbollah will never be easy to disarm and there remain problems in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). The Israelis would have to sort out fundamental differences within the IDF to be successful in Lebanon. 330 In Gaza last year the air offensive had dragged on much longer than was necessary or prudent. 331 This stalled and compromised a decisive synchronised ground assault following a phased bombing. 332 Far less troops and tanks were deployed into Gaza, resulting in a loss of momentum and, ultimately, the ground assault went nowhere. 333 The IDF track record in Lebanon is much the same, losing to Hezbollah in both 2000 and 2006. Disarming would clearly not be wise given Hezbollah’s capability of holding off a modern conventional military force.
Lessons Learned from War
Hezbollah has learned to develop “tacit knowledge internally to utilize … weapons in ways that [are] consistent with its circumstances.” 334 In the 1990s, Iran and Syria provided Hezbollah with TOW antitank missiles, and the training to go with it. 335 However, the training flowed from traditional military doctrine in which more or less open positions are used to fire the weapon. 336 Hezbollah has consistently displayed improvised knowledge of weapon systems, ranging from learning how to use TOW antitank missiles appropriate for its operations in the 1990s to more concealed placements of large mortars in an urban setting, as was used during the 34 day war against Israel in 2006. Hezbollah has learned very quickly of the precision air strike bombing capabilities of the Israeli air force that could rapidly and easily destroy these counter attacks. Hezbollah thus had to develop knowledge cultivated within the organisation to use these weapons under more cover, such as from inside villages. 337 This afforded Hezbollah the benefit of keeping its fighters alive, as well as saving the weaponry. 338
Hezbollah has also learned through observation and by establishing dedicated intelligence-gathering capabilities. 339 Hezbollah has for some time been nearly exclusively focusing its attacks on Israeli forces 340 gathering critical intelligence that enables Hezbollah to plan the specifics in its operations. 341 Hezbollah spends much time collecting information on the Israeli military and has adapted and modified its tactics in order to defeat likely countermoves by the IDF. 342
Hezbollah has also shown adaptability to changing Israeli military tactics, particularly with regards to IDF security patrols and tank-infantry manoeuvres in combat. Although not a “new” idea, Hezbollah has learned to use claymore mines to more effectively target security patrols. Hezbollah can produce its own homemade claymore-type antipersonnel mines. 343 This has the added advantage of keeping its own soldiers safe. Since the 34 day war in 2006, Hezbollah has learned how to break the synergy of a coordinated Israeli counter-attack. Hezbollah has used Russian Komet E and Matis M Anti-Tank third generation guided missiles to great effect. 344 These missiles are fired in swarms to separate the Israeli Merkava Tanks (which are amongst the most heavily armoured tanks in the world) from the advancing infantry. 345 Israel lost 14 Merkava tanks to these missiles. “`346 Hezbollah’s weapons capability with these missile systems could stem from its own observations and intelligence gathering, or through external sources of intelligence.
During the 2006 war Israel caused considerable damage to Hezbollah’s military infrastructure and the civilian infrastructure of southern Lebanon. 347 Hezbollah is believed to have lost at least 500 348 to 600 349 of its fighters in combat. Israeli estimates that a third of Hezbollah’s elite fighters were killed. 350 Israel also destroyed Hezbollah’s Iranian long-range missile capacity and seriously damaged its medium range capability. 351 Close to 1,300 Lebanese civilians were killed in the fighting and nearly a million Lebanese fled from the Shia suburbs in southern Lebanon. 352 Since the end of the war Hezbollah has kept a low profile, mostly at the behest of Tehran, and slowly began to stockpile weapons lost and destroyed as well as recruiting new fighters in southern Lebanon. 353
In 2009 the surprising quiet from Hezbollah’s low profile since 2006 was shattered when a weapons cache exploded in the village of Khirbet Selm in southern Lebanon. 335 A Times article showed video footage of Hezbollah fighters salvaging rockets and ammunition from the site and loading these onto trucks. 336 The event exposed Hezbollah’s quiet re-arming and stockpiling of weapons, which now outnumbers levels prior to 2006. North of the Litani river for example, Israel estimates that Hezbollah has rebuilt its main infrastructure. 337 Israel also estimates that Hezbollah has roughly 20,000 rockets south of the Litani 338 and possess 40,000 missiles in total, which is more than it had in July 2006. 339 Could a “reloaded” Hezbollah play a role in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program or become a factor in a conflict were diplomacy to fail?
Hezbollah and Iran’s Nuclear File
Iran is not leaving anyone with a great deal of alternatives. Ahmadinejad seems to be stalling for time while Iran is reaching its potential to produce a nuclear warhead, or at least nuclear weapon capability. Ahmadinejad continues to hint at possibilities of talks regarding their nuclear file and his new package has not yet come to light. The Israelis are reportedly interested in striking key targets such as Natanz where thousands of centrifuges (7,000) 340 produce enriched uranium, Esfahan where 250 tons of gas is stored in tunnels and at Arak where a heavy water reactor produces plutonium. 341 It would seem that some decisive action against Iran needs to be taken soon. Perhaps the Israelis will go ahead with a strike on Iran regardless of whether they get “US permission” or not. An official from the Israeli Defence Ministry has said: “Israel has made it clear that it will not tolerate the threat of a nuclear Iran. According to Israeli Intelligence they will have the bomb within two years … once they have a bomb it will be too late, and Israel will have no choice [but] to strike – with or without America.” 342
However, what of Hezbollah? If the US and Western negotiators take a much more aggressive negotiating tone and threaten “crippling” sanctions to deter the nuclear program Iran could use Hezbollah as a counter-threat to a possible Israeli strike, since the Israeli’s have not ruled out such an action. Hezbollah’s new arsenal has certainly not gone unnoticed and the prospect of an “unleashed” Hezbollah raining down thousands of rockets on Israel is disconcerting.
Hezbollah’s rockets are now capable of firing on Tel Aviv, something which may be thrown into the mix of negotiations, or talks with Iran. 343 Intelligence sources have revealed that Hezbollah has also obtained shoulder-fired SA18 missiles capable of shooting Israel’s helicopters and low-flying jets. 344 This is perhaps another potential deterrent to Israeli action, or at least a means to buy more time in Tehran. Failure to resolve the Iranian nuclear impasse may well translate into another war between Hezbollah and Israel, something feared as inevitable by most Israeli security officials. 345 Another war with Israel could prove disastrous for Hezbollah, with political as well as military consequences.
Squib Load or Live Round?
The outcome of talks between Tehran and Tel Aviv, particularly the Israeli military option will prove to be decisive for Hezbollah. Will Hezbollah remain a “live round” – primed, charged and ready to fire, or will Hezbollah be something of a squib load in the face and aftermath of another war with Israel? Will Hezbollah’s military objectives and political aspirations in Lebanon founder much like a bullet stuck in the barrel of a gun, and thus fail to hit its target? Perhaps the answer lies in Hezbollah’s new military infrastructure and its dangerous political consequences.
Hezbollah has proven its ability to hold its own against the IDF; however, another war with Israel will result in bigger losses for both sides. An important source of such a scenario can be found in Hezbollah’s adapted military infrastructure. During the 2006 war Hezbollah’s military infrastructure was placed in open, rural areas. 346
Now however, Hezbollah has “weaved” its military infrastructure “into the fabric of the civilian population.”347 The Israeli military estimates that 160 villages in southern Lebanon are sites for Hezbollah military equipment. 348 This military infrastructure is also partly situated in southern Lebanon within Shia villages from which Hezbollah supporters and fighters come. 349 It follows therefore that these areas would become targets for the Israeli Air Force and ground troops. The destruction this could bring may resemble Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009, 350 in which most casualties were civilians.
A high Hezbollah and civilian causality rate, as well as considerable damage to Hezbollah controlled villages and areas in southern Lebanon, may hold significant political consequences. Such an outcome may further split Lebanese society between Hezbollah supporters and those of the March 14th alliance. This may also decrease the number of moderate Hezbollah supporters, disenfranchised with the destruction Hezbollah has helped produce in Lebanon. Could enough Lebanese citizens become fed-up with Hezbollah? Perhaps the first serious factor to undermine Hezbollah’s legitimacy and power in Lebanon will concern its resistance weapons and indeed, their professed “right” to these. A decrease in political support for an armed-to-the-teeth Hezbollah, an organisation which brings both life and stability to some but war and death to others, may be a start to eroding Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon.
Far from prophesising the “end” of Hezbollah therefore, this paper argues that Hezbollah may weaken militarily and politically in Lebanon in the aftermath of another war with Israel thereby becoming a squib load, a live round without the necessary propellant to fulfil its ideological objectives and political ambition of dominance in Lebanon.
Hezbollah – the perpetual domestic and international menace and terrorist organisation, continued to provide anyone interested in the Middle East with interesting reading. Truly, there is never a dull moment in the Middle East. Hezbollah have been lying low since the end of the 2006 war with Israel, however, the world once again took notice with the surprise arms cache explosion in Southern Lebanon earlier this year (2009). A few other events to keep an eye out for are Hezbollah’s sworn revenge for the death of their military commander and master terrorist Imad Fayez Moughniyeh. Hezbollah death squads may roam around the globe or be sitting tight in a host of different targets plotting to strike at American and Israeli targets, either military or civilian.
Ideologically, Hezbollah remains committed as ever. Hezbollah views the destruction of Israel as a moral and religious obligation. The same zeal applies to Hezbollah’s politics. Hezbollah seek to gain control of government in Lebanon, through democratic means. Hezbollah have particularly shrewd and effective in eliciting widespread Lebanese and Arab support. Hezbollah enjoys widespread support amongst Lebanese across the religious board, including Shia, Druze and Christians. All the while moreover, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) continues to be Hezbollah’s enabler in finance and weapons, and have been so since day one. Iran employs Hezbollah as the key actor in exporting the Shia Islamic Revolution in the Middle East and further abroad. This has led to countless international terrorist attacks and even more deaths – American, Israeli or any number of innocent nations happening to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
However, Hezbollah face a few threats of its own. The most significant threat to Hezbollah at this point in time exists in the possibility of another war with Israel. Some analysts have pointed out that this is inevitable. It would also appear that Hezbollah themselves, and Iran, hold the key to such an event. Nevertheless, considering Hezbollah’s quiet re-armament of its rocket arsenal over the last three years since the 2006 war to in excess of pre war levels sends the signal that Hezbollah and Iran are gearing for a fight. Also, Hezbollah’s weaving of military structures into society itself and quite literally amongst civilians, as opposed to in open or rural settings, presents an exceptionally dangerous situation to innocents. An outbreak of war will under these circumstances inevitably lead to more destruction and civilian casualties than before. A higher civilian death toll would result in an angry political and social backlash from Lebanese citizens. This could hold irreversible political damage to Hezbollah in Lebanese society, and a situation of deteriorating support and disillusionment with the group.
Another potential threat to Hezbollah lies in the outcome of the new US engagement with Syria and the spill-over effects this would have on Israeli-Syrian negotiations over a peace agreement. The danger this holds for Hezbollah is that, were the US and Saudi Arabia to be successful in enticing Syria to cut ties with it, Hezbollah would loose Syrian patronage. Damascus has for decades provided money, weapons, training and open borders between Syria and Iraq for prospective Jihadis. The loss of Syria as an ally is not likely to be devastating, as Iran remains its most significant enabler, however this would certainly weaken Hezbollah’s capabilities and effectiveness in targeting Israel.
Interestingly enough, such a scenario presents Israel with more favourable odds, in terms of damage limitation, in the event that Israel strike at Iranian nuclear facilities – which remains a possibility despite what US President Obama or Israeli President Shimon Peres have to say about it. Although the first “threat” to Hezbollah is more severe than the second, a familiar saying comes to mind: Living by the sword often entails dying by it too.
1 Scott, C. Introduction to Practical Pistol – 10. Internet: http://www.orpci.org/content/ipsc_intro/intro_10.htm. A squib load consists of a primed case and a bullet, but no powder charge; they go “pop” instead of “bang,” and usually leave a bullet stuck in the barrel.
2 Bergman, R. 2008. The Secret War with Iran: the 30-year covert struggle for control of a ‘rouge’ state. Oneworld Publications. Pg 194
3 Ibid, pg 61
4 Jackson et al, “Aptitude for Destruction: Organization Learning in Terrorist Groups and Its Implications for Combating Terrorism,” Rand Corporation 1:74.
5 UNHCR.org. “Lebanon: The influence of Hezbollah; the extent to which the government is able to control Hezbollah activities; whether Hezbollah is forcibly recruiting members”. 17 April 2009.
6 Op cit, Bergman, pg 69.
7 Op cit, Jackson, et al
8 Israel Foreign Ministry, Information Division, – Jerusalem. 11 April 1996.
9 GlobalSecurity.org. Pasdaran – Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
11 Op cit, Bergman, pg 87
17 Op cit, Jackson, et al, pg 74.
18 Op cit, Bergman, pg 87
19 Ibid, pg 86
22 Op cit, Jackson, et al, pg 74.
23 Rabil, R. “Hezbollah: Lebanon’s Power Broker”. The Journal of International Security Affairs, a publication of: Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs 2008. Vol 15.
24 Macleod, H. “Hezbollah recruits thousands in Lebanon crisis”. 25 November 2007. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1570478/Hezbollah-recruits-thousands-in-Lebanon-crisis.html. 25 Op cit, Bergman, pg 259.
26 Haenni, P. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1570478/Hezbollah-recruits-thousands-in-Lebanon-crisis.html. 27 Hamzeh, N. “Lebanon’s Hizbullah: from Islamic revolution to parliamentary accommodation”. Third World Quarterly, Vol 14, No 2, 1993. Pg 5. 28 Ibid. 29 Op cit, GlobalSecurity.org. 30 Ibid. 31 Ibid.
32 Hooman Majd, 2009. Tehran or Bust: A journey through the heart of Iran. Newsweek, May 23, 2009. Internet: http://www.newsweek.com/id/199144?tid=relatedcl 33 Op cit Bergman, pg 60. 34 Ibid, pg 61. 35 Ibid, pg 350. 36 Ibid, pg 59 37 Ibid, pg 350. 38 Ibid, pg 60. 39 Ibid, pg 249.
40 Levitt, M. 2005. Hezbollah Finances: Funding the Party of God, from Terrorism Financing and State
Responses: a Comparative Perspective, February 2005. Internet: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC06.php?CID=772. In “The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States”, available online at http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/index.htm. 41 Ibid. 42 Op cit, Bergman, pg 249. 43 Ibid. 43 Ibid, pg 259. 44 Ibid. 45 Op cit, “Hezbollah: Lebanon’s Power Broker”. 46 Op cit, Jackson, et al
47 Military.com. “Hezbollah Ideology”. Internet: http://www.military.com/Resources/Resources/ResourceFileView?file=Hezbollah-Ideology.htm. 48 Ibid. 49 Ibid. 50 Ibid. 51 Op cit, Israel Foreign Ministry 52 Ibid. 53 Ibid. 54 Ibid.
55 Aljazeera.net. “Hezbollah will not recognize Israel”. 14 March 2009. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/03/200931322165471789.html 56 Abi-Saleh, J. Jeanette is a Christian Lebanese and an acquaintance. April 2009. 57 Ibid. 58 UNHCR.org. “Lebanon: The influence of Hezbollah; the extent to which the government is able to control Hezbollah activities; whether Hezbollah is forcibly recruiting members”. 17 April 2009. 59 Ibid.
60 Military.com. “Hezbollah Ideology”. http://www.military.com/Resources/Resources/ResourceFileView?file=Hezbollah-Ideology.htm. 61 Ibid.
62 Spiegel Online International. “Spy Case Casts Light on Hezbollah Recruitment in Germany”.http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,570590,00.html. 8 July 2008. 63 Ibid. 64 Ibid. 65 Ibid. 66 Ibid. 67 Ibid. 68 Op cit, Macleod 69 Op cit, “Hezbollah: Lebanon’s Power Broker”. 70 Faramarzi, S. “Hizbullah regains strength in Lebanon”. AP. 03-10-2007 71 Op cit, Abi-Saleh 72 Op cit, Bergman, pg 87. 73 Ibid. 74 Op cit, Bergman, pg 187 75 Op cit, Levitt 76 Op cit, Bergman, pg 187 77 Robert Fisk, “Television News Is Secret Weapon of the Intifada,” The Independent (London), December 2, 2000 in Jorisch, Pg 32. In Levitt, op cit 78 Jorisch interview with Lebanese Hezbollah expert, October 11, 2002 in Avi Jorisch, “Beacon of Hatred: Inside Hezbollah’s al-Manar Television” (Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2004), Pg 32. In Levitt, op cit 79 Op cit, Robert Fisk
80 “Hizbollah Inaugurates Satellite Channel via ArabSat,” al-Ra’y (Amman), May 29, 2000, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, May 31, 2000 in Jorisch, Page 32. In Levitt, op cit 81 Op cit, Bergman, pg 87. 82 Ibid. 83 Ibid. 84 Ibid, pg 88 85 Ibid. 86 Ibid. 87 Ibid. 88 Ibid. 89 Ibid, pg 200. 90 Ibid. 91 Ibid. 92 Ibid. 93 Ibid. 94 Ibid, pg 201. 95 Ibid. 96 Ibid. 97 Ibid. 98 Ibid, pg 203. 99 Op cit, Bergman, pg 200. 100 Ibid. 101 Ibid. 102 Ibid. 103 Ibid. 104 Ibid, pg 202. 105 Ibid. 106 Ibid. 107 Ibid, pg 204. 108 Ibid. 109 Ibid. 110 Ibid. 111 Ibid. 112 Op cit, UNCHR.org 113 Russett et al. Menu for Choice. Thomson Wadsworth, 2006. p, 223-225. 114 Burton, F. 2008. Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent. 2009 Random House Trade Paperback edition. Pg 125. 115 Op cit, “Hezbollah”. 116 Op cit, Burton, pg 129. 117 Ibid. 118 Ibid, pg 107. 119 Ibid. 120 Ibid, pg 129. 121 Op cit, Jackson, et al 122 Op cit, Burton, pg 85. 123 Ibid. 124 Ibid, pg 128. 125 Op cit, UNCHR.org 126 Carter, S. “Hezbollah uses Mexican drug routes into U.S.”.
http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/mar/27/hezbollah-uses-mexican-drug-routes-into-us/. Friday, 27 March 2009. 127 Ibid.
129 YouTube – “What Can Be Said About Israeli Spy Craft”. Internet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHlk9g2SFWE 130 Ibid. 131 Ibid. 132 Ibid. 133 Op cit, Bergman, pg 85. 134 Ibid. 135 Ibid.
136 BigNewsnetwork.com “Hezbollah tightens grip on Lebanese government”. 8th May 2008. http://feeds.bignewsnetwork.com/index.php?sid=357139 137 Ibid. 138 Ibid. 139 Ibid. 140 Ibid. 141 Ibid. 142 Ibid. 143 Ibid. 144 Madeast.com. “Hezbollah shoots…on goal”. 2009. http://www.madeast.com/HezbollahStory.html 145 Ibid. 146 Ibid. 147 Ibid. 148 Ibid.
149 Strategypage.com.”Hezbollah Death Squads Gone Wild”. 3 February 2009. http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htterr/articles/20090203.aspx 150 Ibid. 151 Op cit, Bergman, pg, 383. 152 Ibid. 153 Ibid. 154 Ibid. 155 Ibid.
156 “George Galloway – Wiping Israel Off The Map”. 14 July 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjgCGHy1eF0&feature=related 157 Ibid. 158 Ibid. 159 Ibid. 160 Op cit, Bergman, pg, 381. 161 Ibid. 162 Ibid. 163 Ibid. 164 Ibid. 165 Ibid. 166 Ibid.
167 YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjgCGHy1eF0&feature=related 168 Ibid. 169 Ibid. 170 Ibid. 171 Spyer, J. Jerusalem Post. 16 April 2009.
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=Jpost/JPAriticle/ShowFul&cid=12397106984424 172 Andrew, J. “Analysis: Why Mitchell is bypassing Damascus”.
173 Ibid the five Britons were held for two years prior to their release and held hostage by “Hizbullah/Iran-affiliated terrorists” 174 Ibid. 175 Op cit, Burton, pg 129. 176 Ibid. 177 Ibid, pg 10. 178 Ibid, pg 15. 179 Ibid.
180 Inside Iraq – “US accuses Iran & Hezbollah”. 6 July 2007 (Part 1 & 2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Var7ZPcnY. 181 Ibid. 182 Ibid. 183 Op cit, Burton, pg 129. 184 Op cit, Bergman, pg 293. 185 Ibid. 186 Ibid, pg 294. 187 Ibid, pg 259. 188 Ibid. 189 Ibid. 190 Op cit, Inside Iraq 191 Op cit, Bergman, pg 294 192 Ibid. 193 Ibid. 194 Ibid. 195 Ibid. 196 Ibid, pg 294 197 Op cit, GlobalSecurity.org 198 Ibid. 199 Ibid. 200 Ibid. 201 Op cit, Bergman, pg 206. 202 Ibid. 203 Ibid, pg 205. 204 Ibid. 205 Ibid, pg 209. 206 “Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States,” Hearing Before the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate, February 6, 2002 (see response number 3 to “Questions for the Record” on page 339 of GPO print edition). In Levitt, op cit 207 Op cit, Bergman, pg 211 208 Ibid. 209 Ibid. 210 Ibid. 211 Ibid, pg 212. 212 Ibid. 213 Ibid. 214 Ibid. 215 Ibid. 216 Ibid. 217 Ibid. 218 Op cit, Bergman, pg 383.
219 Aljazeera.net. “Hezbollah ‘plotted to attack Egypt”. 13 April 2009. Mufid Shihab (Egypt’s minister of legal and parliamentary affairs): “Bomb-making equipment, including explosive belts, was found after the arrests and 25
men remain in custody…” 220 Op cit, Abi-Saleh 221 Ibid. 222 Op cit, Hezbollah ‘plotted to attack Egypt” 223 Ibid. Those arrested were “observing and locating the tourist groups who repeatedly come to South Sinai resorts and residences, paving the way to target them in hostile activities” 224 Ibid. 225 Ibid. 226 Ibid.
227 Al ManarTV. “Egypt Discovers More Gaza Smuggling Tunnels”. 18 April 2009. Egyptian security forces had discovered five more tunnels which were being used to smuggle contraband to Hamas. Internet: http://www.almanar.com.lb/newssite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=82273&language=en 228 Aljazeera.net. “Hezbollah denies Egypt accusations”. 10 April 2009.
229 The Jerusalem Post. 2009.Yaakov Katz. Tehran is restraining an already wary Hizbullah. September 18, 2009. Internet: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1253198148634&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull 230 Ibid. 231 Stratfor. 2008. Sudan: Hezbollah Training Militia. August 26, 2008.Ibid. 232 Ibid. 233 Op cit, Bergman, pg 187 234 Ibid. 235 Ibid. 236 Ibid, pg 188 237 Ibid. 238 Ibid, pg 189 239 Ibid. 240 Ibid, pg 188 241 Ibid. 242 Ibid, pg 204 243 Ibid. 244 Ibid. 245 Ibid, pg 205 246 Ibid. 247 Ibid. 248 Ibid, pg 191 249 Ibid. 250 Rohter, Larry. “Defector Ties Iran to 1994 Bombing of Argentine Jewish Center.” New York Times. Section A, pg. 9. November 7, 2003. In Levitt, M. 2005. Hezbollah Finances: Funding the Party of God, from Terrorism Financing and State Responses: a Comparative Perspective. 251 Op cit, Bergman, pg 170. 252 Ibid. 253 Ibid. 254 Ibid. 255 Ibid. 256 Ibid, pg 171 257 Ibid. 258 Ibid. 259 Ibid. 260 Ibid. 261 Ibid. 262 Ibid.
263 Ibid. 264 Ibid. 265 Ibid. 266 Ibid, pg 172 267 Ibid, pg 171 268 Ibid, pg 172 269 Ibid, pg 175 270 Ibid. 271 Ibid. 272 Op cit, Levitt 273 Ibid. 274 Op cit, Bergman, pg 180 275 Op cit, Levitt 276 Op cit, Bergman, pg 181 277 Ibid. 278 Ibid, pg 182 279 Ibid. 280 Ibid. 281 Mark S. Steinitz, “Middle East Terrorist Activity in Latin America,” Policy Papers on the Americas, Vol. XIV, Study 7, Center for Strategic and International Studies, July 2003; United States v. Mohamad Youssef Hammoud, et al. United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth District. In Levitt, M. 2005. 282 Op cit, Bergman, pg 186 283 Ibid. 284 Ibid. 285 Ibid. 286 Ibid, pg 187.
287 Aljazeera.net. 2009. “Foreign States Blamed in Yemen War.” September 7, 2009. Internet: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/09/200997123658326262.html
288 Yemen Post. 2009. “President Saleh: Houthis Were Trained by Hezbollah Experts.” Sunday, 29 March, 2009. Internet: http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=456&MainCat=3 289Op cit, Aljazeera.net, “Foreign States Blamed in Yemen War” 290Op cit, Yemen Post. “President Saleh: Houthis Were Trained by Hezbollah Experts” 291Op cit, Aljazeera.net. “Foreign States Blamed in Yemen War” 292 Ibid. 293 Ibid.
294 Al ManarTV. “Assad: Acknowledging Mistakes Means Rejecting Them”. April 17, 2009. http://www.almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=82071&language=en.
295 Younes, A. 2009. Syria’s daring brinkmanship. October 10, 2009. http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/10/2009108125126169452.html. Ali Younes is a Washington-based Middle East analyst. 296Op cit, UNHCR.org
297 BICOM. 2009. BICOM Analysis: The Thawing Relations Between Riyadh and Damascus. 13/10/2009. http://www.bicom.org.uk/context/research-and-analysis/latest-bicom-analysis/bicom-analysis-the-thawing-relations-between-riyadh-and-damascus
298 BICOM. 2008. BICOM Analysis: Is Syria Ready for the “Great Bargain”? 25/11/2008. http://www.bicom.org.uk/newsletter-latest-from-bicom/bicom-analysis-is-syria-ready-for-the-great-bargain- 299 Ibid. 300 Op cit, “Assad: Acknowledging Mistakes Means Rejecting Them”
http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=11. 301 Op cit, “Analysis: Why Mitchell is bypassing Damascus” 302 Al ManarTV. “Barak in Response to Lieberman: Israel Should Negotiate with Syria”. 26 April 2009. 303 Ibid.
304 Al ManarTV. “Lieberman Contradicts Himself: Ready for Syria Talks with No Preconditions”. 26 April 2009 305 Ibid. 306 Ibid.
307 Solomon, H. “Israel – Syria Negotiations and their Possible Impact on Israel – Palestinian Peace. 05/31/2008. http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000697.htm 308 Op cit, Younes, A. 2009. Syria’s daring brinkmanship. 309 Op cit, BICOM. 2008. BICOM Analysis: Is Syria Ready for the “Great Bargain”? 310 Op cit, Younes, A. 2009. Syria’s daring brinkmanship. 311 Ibid.
312 BICOM. 2009. Syria looking to renew indirect talks with Israel. May 14, 2009. http://www.bicom.org.uk/news/news-archive/syria-looking-to-renew-indirect-talks-with-israel 313 Ibid.
314 BICOM. 2009. International efforts to persuade Syria to abandon Iranian alliance. 12/03/2009.http://www.bicom.org.uk/news/news-archive/international-efforts-to-persuade-syria-to-abandon-iranian-alliance
315 Salem, P. 2009. The Imperatives of Syrian-Israeli Peace. vol.33:1 winter/spring 2009. http://fletcher.tufts.edu/forum/archives/pdfs/33-1pdfs/Salem.pdf 316 Ibid.
317 BICOM. 2009. BICOM Analysis: The US Return to the Syrian Track. 14/07/2009. http://www.bicom.org.uk/newsletter-latest-from-bicom/bicom-analysis-the-us-return-to-the-syrian-track 318 Ibid. 319 Op cit, Salem, P. 2009. The Imperatives of Syrian-Israeli Peace.
320 Op cit, ‘Peres: Syria won’t get Golan on a ‘silver platter”, Haaretz, 6 July 2009; See also: ‘We want the Golan on a gold platter’, Jerusalem Post, 7 July 2009. In BICOM. 2009. BICOM Analysis: The US Return to the Syrian Track.
321 Ibid. Jonathan Spyer, ‘Analysis: Syria’s goose lays a golden egg’, Jerusalem Post, 28 June 2009. In BICOM. 2009. BICOM Analysis: The US Return to the Syrian Track. 322 Ibid. In BICOM. 2009. BICOM Analysis: The US Return to the Syrian Track. 323Op cit, Solomon, H. “Israel – Syria Negotiations and their Possible Impact on Israel – Palestinian Peace.
324 Williams, D. 2009. Israeli official doubts Syria’s clout on Hezbollah. September 8, 2009. http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL8519175 325 Op cit, BICOM. 2009. International efforts to persuade Syria to abandon Iranian alliance. 326 Ibid. 327 Ibid. 328 Op cit, Al ManarTV. “Lieberman Contradicts Himself: Ready for Syria Talks with No Preconditions”. 26 April 2009
329 Schenker, D. “Syria: Between Negotiations with Israel and the Iranian Axis”. Jerusalem Center. 27 May 2008. Vol. 8, No.2. http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=11. 330 Op cit, Al ManarTV. “Lieberman Contradicts Himself: Ready for Syria Talks with No Preconditions”. 26 April 2009 331 Combat Studies Institute, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Operational Leadership Experiences. Interview with GB (Ret.) Shimon Naveh. 332 Ibid. 333 Ibid. 334 Op cit, “How Understanding Terrorist Group Learning Can Aid in Combating Terrorism”, p 47. 335 Ibid. 336 Ibid. 337 Ibid. 338 Ibid. 339 Ibid. 340 Ibid, pg 50 341 Ibid, pg 50
342 Ibid, pg 50 343 Op cit, Jackson et al.
344 Bakshi, GD. “Military Lessons: Israel-Hezbollah Conflict Part-1”. Vol 22.1. 26 April 2007.http://www.indiandefencereview.com/2007/04/military-lessons-israel-hezbollah-conflict-part-1.html. 345 Ibid. 346 Ibid.
347 BICOM. 2009. BICOM Analysis: Hezbollah’s Growing Military Threat. 21/07/2009. http://www.bicom.org.uk/context/research-and-analysis/latest-bicom-analysis/bicom-analysis-hezbollah-s-growing-military-threat 348 Ibid. 349 Reuters, Sept. 12, 2006; Al-Hayat (London), Sept. 13, 2006; “Country Report-Lebanon,” The Economist Intelligence Unit, no. 4 (2006), pp. 3-6. 350 Lebanese National News Agency, Aug. 19, Dec. 17, 2006; Yedi ‘or Aharonot, Aug. 15, 2007. 351 Op cit, BICOM Analysis: Hezbollah’s Growing Military Threat. 21/07/2009. 352 Op cit, Reuters, Sept. 12, 2006, Sept. 13, 2006.
353 BICOM. 2009. Hezbollah stockpiles 40,000 rockets in southern Lebanon. 05/08/09. http://www.bicom.org.uk/news/media-summary/hezbollah-stockpiles-40-000-rockets-in-southern-lebanon 354 Op cit, BICOM, BICOM Analysis: Hezbollah’s Growing Military Threat. 21/07/2009. 355 Op cit, BICOM. Hezbollah stockpiles 40,000 rockets in southern Lebanon 356 Op cit, BICOM, BICOM Analysis: Hezbollah’s Growing Military Threat. 21/07/2009. 357 Ibid. 358 Ibid. 359 Glick, C. “Our World: Iran’s Western enablers”. 13 April 2009.
360 Al ManarTV. “Israeli Army Eyes Attack on Iran within Hours of Green Light”. 18 April2009. http://www.almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=82247&language=en 361 Ibid. 362 Op cit, BICOM. Hezbollah stockpiles 40,000 rockets in southern Lebanon 363 Ibid.
364 BICOM. 2009. BICOM Analysis: Is Another Lebanon War Imminent? 17/08/2009. http://www.bicom.org.uk/context/research-and-analysis/latest-bicom-analysis/bicom-analysis-is-another-lebanon-war-imminent- 365 Op cit, BICOM. BICOM Analysis: Hezbollah’s Growing Military Threat 366 Ibid. 367 Ibid. 368 Op cit, The Jerusalem Post Yaakov Katz. Tehran is restraining an already wary Hizbullah. 369 Ibid.
i The views reflected in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IIIS. The International Institute of Islamic Studies (IIIS) aims to provide insight and solutions to issues associated with the Islamic world.