Crossfire War – TEHRAN WATCH – West Asia Theatre: Tehran – Beirut – Damascus/Jerusalem; Israel Decides to Achieve Military Objectives Before Ceasefire – IDF Advances Along Litani to Tyre – Air Force to Concentrate on Central – Northern Lebanon – Damascus – Tehran Strangely Silent – Eulogy for Nasrallah – Political Fallout in the “New Middle East” – Nuclear Deadline Next on Tehran Agenda – August 22-31
Night Watch: JERUSALEM – Debka sources reveal that Israel has decided to accomplish certain military objectives even if it means risking being declared in violation of the ceasefire that is due to take effect Sunday. The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has obviously concluded that Israel’s security is more important than world opinion or being socially acceptable on the diplomatic circuit and that a weakened Hezbollah is easier to live with even if it means bad publicity and international condemnation. Meeting with rap singers or yachting about is not Jerusalem’s priority. [DEBKA]
Interestingly enough though, there seems to be no condemnation or criticism coming from Berlin. Perhaps Berlin would observe that Israel’s response may have been a bit excessive but in the heat of war, with one’s national existence at stake, that is quite understandable. The reason for Berlin’s understanding could be that German intelligence probably knows that Hezbollah is an extension of Iran’s military and command structure. The German Foreign Minister Frank Walter-Steinmeier was in close contact with Olmert’s government. Berlin may also be aware that with the presence of so many Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers in the field revealed that Tehran was using Lebanon to test the performance of equipment and the effectiveness of the tactics they had instructed Hezbollah to use. Rome, Madrid, Moscow and Tokyo may also be aware of this.
The expanded IDF offensive, under the command of Major-General Benny Gantz, head of the Ground Forces Branch of the South Lebanon Command, is designed to encircle the remaining 1,500 Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon in the vicinity of the Litani river. Tehran, late last week, had rushed several hundred more fighters to this area. Reports from the field indicate Hezbollah sectors in the south are now cut off from reinforcements and re-supply and are showing signs of strain.
After having taken the town of Marajyoun the IDF, with four divisions of 11 brigades, 12,000 men in all, will advance along the Litani west toward Tyre where they will force the remnants of Hezbollah into an enclave that will include the Palestinian refugee camps of Rashidiya and Bourj al-Shamali. That will leave Hezbollah units in an isolated pocket of resistance in the south. But Hezbollah will remain in strength in the central and north of the country where two of the three Hezbollah rocket brigades, medium and long range are left. This should virtually end the threat of the Katyusha rockets. Israel’s Air Force will continue to attack and eventually destroy the Hezbollah units further north. Israel has requested the U. S. send what they were not due to receive until next year, the M-26 cluster bomb rocket designed to destroy bunkers and fortifications.
In the meantime Damascus-Tehran seem to be strangely silent during what seems to be Israel’s final offensive, assuming the ceasefire is effective and it probably won’t be. Tehran’s current silence may be due to its embarassment when Israel discovered so many Iranian officers among the dead. Officially, according to Syria-Iran, they did not exist. Not to mention Israel still being in existence. Damascus and Tehran may have decided to launch Hezbollah’s longest missile, the Zelzal-2 which can reach Tel Aviv even if it is fired from northern Lebanon, as a final military gesture even though it would risk expanding the war if Israel decides to destroy the Syrian base in Homs that contains the Syrian-Iranian owned Scud missile factory. That would force Syria-Iran to commit some forces into the war in the name of their military axis they made official two months ago in Tehran, when Iran declared Syria’s security to be Iran’s security. Tehran would have been forced to enter the war more obviously than it already had.
But there could be intelligence reports, if the missiles are not launched, that Iran is having them removed from Lebanon to be deployed elsewhere for use as part of their military response when the coming crisis over Iran’s nuclear weapons program explodes beyond diplomatic confrontation into open warfare with the West-Russia. Iran-Syria may want the Scud missile factory to remain in production and not for missiles to be fired at Israel.
Both capitals, Damascus-Tehran, may have concluded that Hezbollah is a spent force, militarily, but will be useful politically even if Sheik Hassan Nasrallah does not survive. At Friday prayers in Tehran the subsitute prayer leader at Tehran University, Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani, praised the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, stating that he had achieved distinction in the Arab world as Hezbollah has fought Israel for five weeks. This sounds like a eulogy. Damascus-Tehran may now be content with the war effort against Israel since they were never the main target anyway. Just engage Israel enough for the desired regional effect, more support for Islamic unity against the West and other soon to be designated targets, Russia-India. [IRNA]
But for the moment and perhaps for quite some time, as a result of this limited war with Israel, Tehran now has Hamas in control of the Palestinian territories, West Bank-Gaza Strip and Hezbollah is the main polictial presence in Lebanon. Tehran waged this war mostly for political-economic gains, rather than military. The rebuilding of Lebanon-Beirut and its economy can now take place and under Tehran’s control.
Tehran knows it will soon be directing the next United Nations Security Council crises that will erupt late this month over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Tehran of course never had any intention to comply and is definitely prepared for any economic – military confrontation, which again they intend to direct to their international advantage. In the meantime the political fallout all over West Asia, as a result of its latest war with Jerusalem, will continue to reverberate in every Islamic capital. Tehran is going to use the resurgent Islamic radicalism, in its “New Middle East”, to remove Islamic governments that did not respond adequately to the war and who will not be responding to calls for support for Iran’s nuclear program. For the past three years, during the deceptive negotations with the UN-International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in Vienna and against the EU-3, London-Paris-Berlin, Tehran has lined up diplomatic support for its nuclear program from Rabat to Beijing including Athens. Even Delhi supports it.
Tehran will then have al-Qaeda’s new Egyptian branch to remove the embarassment of Egypt President Hosni Mubarak who still refuses to support the planned confrontation with the West in any way. Tehran will also have al-Qaeda, with its bases in the Sinai Peninsula, to strike international shipping in the Suez Canal as part of its reponse to the international community’s demand that Iran cease its uranium enrichment. The demand will of course be made late this month through the UN Security Council and its IAEA. The deadline for compliance is August 31. Tehran is ready to use its security agreement signed with Belgrade in January as its attempt to direct the UN-Vienna’s attention away from Iran and toward Vienna’s, the European Union and NATO’s survival.
Tehran has been studying the UNSC response to the war with Israel noting that it took the Security Council more than a month to finally decide on a ceasefire agreement, which still might prove to be ineffective. I suspect Qatar, the only Islamic member of the 15 nation Security Council, kept Tehran precisely informed as to the conficting-confused-contadictory-comical negotiations going back and forth. Qatar and Tehran may have especially noticed that as the fighting intensified the Secretary-General Kofi Annan, unprofessionally, took some time off to meet with a rap singer, while the British Prime Minister Tony Blair was yachting off Barbados. Iran probably realizes the UN will take less time when Europe is more directly threatened during the coming nuclear crisis.
But the Security-Council will be negotiating with more of a sense of panic and confusion as they realize Tehran’s real response to this will be to enter war in the Balkans started up again by a Serbia militarily supported by Iran. In the midst of the confusion the UN/EU/NATO could even get in each other’s way, revealing their incompetency as events overtake them, which is exactly what this limited war with Israel nearly did. A decision making test case. They could argue and fallout over international jurisdiction.