Monday, January 16, 2006

Iran's nukes and Hezbollah's rockets

In a column published today in the Lebanese Daily Star, Patrick Devenny, the Henry M. Jackson National Security Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, assesses the impact on Lebanon of a potential war over Iran’s nuclear objectives.

While I don’t agree with some of his comments, some of the data he mentions regarding the Hezbollah are worth mentioning: “In the event of an Israeli attack, Iran would likely respond with a Hezbollah missile barrage against Israel, thereby exacting revenge while maintaining its own distance. Recent Iranian-supplied upgrades to Hezbollah's rocket arsenal, including Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets, have placed major Israeli population centers - such as Haifa - within range. With Hezbollah's recent buildup, the aggregate Israeli conventional threat against the Iranian nuclear program has been rendered relatively minor in comparison to a potential Hezbollah response targeting Israel and its economy. Iran's leaders are well aware of this fact, and are likely to view Hezbollah's rockets as their primary deterrent against an Israeli attack. These same leaders would have little trouble in convincing their allies in Hezbollah to unleash its arsenal, considering that the party's leadership maintains tight contacts with Iran's rulers and its ever-present security apparatus. Hezbollah religious leaders have trained in Iranian seminaries and maintain close connections with ruling Iranian clerics. While the relationship between Iran and Hezbollah is, in many ways, an outgrowth of this more informal connection, the Iranian government has also instituted a bureaucratic mechanism to maintain their interests within the organization. This institutional bond is bolstered by material and financial connections, which increased following the Israeli withdrawal in 2000 to the tune of an estimated $100 million a year provided by Tehran to the Lebanese party.”

It’s likely that, in case of a confrontation between Iran and any foreign nation opposed to its building of nuclear weapons, the Hezbollah will have a role to play in either attacking Israel and/or conducting some targeted terrorist actions involving whatever WMD the Iranians will provide them…

Building on his analysis, I would have liked the author to not only bring attention to the impact of a showdown with Iran on Lebanon, but also question the reason why Lebanon hosts such a terrorist organization and why we accept this situation. Given the fact that a/ Lebanon is not occupied by any foreign nations (besides the Syrians ‘brothers’…), b/ Hezbollah has been recognized as a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people (including 241 Marines), and c/ Hezbollah could drag Lebanon into a major conflict against its will, it would seem like fair questions to ask…


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