Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Iran's Destabilization of the Middle East

By Aussiegirl

This is an excellent analysis of the situation, and the only thing I'd add, based on nothing more than reading the papers and watching the news and applying a bit of common sense, is that Israel may have bitten off more than they can chew. If Israel does not achieve an overwhelmingly convincing victory, something akin to the 6 day war, then Hezbollah, and by extension Iran and Syria, come out the winners. So far the bombings in Lebanon seem to have achieved little strategically, and have engendered a lot of animosity among Lebanese. And I think that Israel is reluctant to engage in a full-scale ground invasion for fear that that also may not end as decisively or cleanly as they would like. If that's the case, and we settle for some multinational force to enforce a buffer zone, then the psychological and political victory goes to Iran. I'm a little uncertain how this will all end, and not at all sure that the end is clear and that Hezbollah can be destroyed or rooted out.

The American Thinker

Iran's Destabilization of the Middle East
C. Hart
July 21st, 2006

Iran would like to see a new world order, controlling the entire Middle East region with its nuclear potential influencing moderate Arab countries and Israel alike. That’s according to Dr. Guy Bechor, a leading military analyst in Israel, who has studied and taught on the Middle East for more than 25 years.

Bechor, who lived in Beirut as a reporter for Israel Radio in the 1980’s during the Lebanese War, said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmanadinijad would like to see this new order directed from Iran, with a concentrated focus on Shia understanding of Islam. It would include alliances with terror groups from throughout the Middle East, the participation of Hezbollah (Shiite); Hamas (Sunni and Palestinian, but oriented and influenced by Iran); Islamic Jihad; and, the Moslem Brotherhood.

The Lebanese boiling pot

The current conflict being fought on Lebanese soil caused the nation of Iran to achieve its immediate goal of diverting world attention away from its non-compliance on the nuclear issue. It successfully prevented condemnation from international leaders meeting at the G8 summit in regard to its continued uranium enrichment program. It also temporarily distracted world powers from focusing their attention on punishing Iran with sanctions in the UN Security Council.

Now that Iran has gained a political advantage, the new Arab-Israeli war in the Middle East could simmer down, unless there are more surprises from a nation that has successfully used its proxy, Hezbollah, to step up attacks on Israel.

Iran’s clever tactics have effectively won them diplomatic maneuvering room with their ability to use Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, to ambush and kill Israeli troops and kidnap three soldiers as bargaining chips for the Islamic nation’s future agenda. The new Middle East war almost reached the point of escalation into a wider conflagration, which would have involved Syria, but Iranian leaders seem to have concluded that this is not the time to increase tensions to that level. Instead, it appears, Iran is refraining from engaging Israel in a wider regional war on a scale that would be too risky for all sides right now.

Speaking to foreign journalists and the diplomatic corps at Israel’s Institute for Contemporary Affairs (ICA) in Jerusalem earlier this week, Bechor confirmed that it was in Iran’s interest to abduct and kidnap Israeli soldiers and to escalate tensions in the region.

“And, it will be an Iranian decision, or discretion, how to continue this war; when, and how to end it”, he said.

Bechor also explained that Iran will continue to disguise itself by hiding behind terrorist proxies in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Iranian leaders are keenly aware that a cease fire would result in a temporary respite from harsh military actions by Israel. If Hezbollah or Hamas become too weakened by Israel’s defense measures, these same groups will then become ineffective for Iran’s purposes, no longer able to serve the Islamic republic’s interests. [....]

The question remains whether this war will remain contained in Lebanon, or whether a new front with Syria will open, followed by a wider regional war with Iran. While the IDF claims that they have isolated Lebanon with its forces temporarily in control of sea, land and air, there’s the possibility that the current siege may not be totally effective. Reportedly, during the last two or three days, there’s been a heavy missile train from Tehran to Damascus, where new ammunition, rockets, and artillery is making its way to Syria. It is expected to then reach the Lebanese-Syrian border, and from there, go into hidden tunnels deep inside Lebanon. [....]

This is an open war operation, in Bechor’s estimation, and there might be more surprises yet to come. Hezbollah may yet receive commands from Iran to launch long-range missiles into the heart of Tel Aviv.

“This is clearly open. And, how will Israel retaliate?” Bechor wondered.

The unpredictability of this war brings greater instability to the Middle East region, while nations wait for the fire under the Lebanese boiling pot to be turned down to a simmer. Maybe, the region will then return to the normal frustrating level of consistent uncertainty.

C. Hart is a 25-year veteran journalist in print and broadcast media, living in Israel since 1995, reporting on political, military and diplomatic issues in the Middle East.


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