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To Iran Through Lebanon PDF Print E-mail
Peace News
Thursday, 20 July 2006 03:05
To Iran Through Lebanon

- Tom Porteous - Israel's fight in Lebanon is, as the Israeli and the American governments proclaim, aimed at destroying Hezbollah. But a wider strategic objective is almost certainly to put further pressure on Iran and Syria and to set the stage, if necessary, for military actions aimed at destroying Iran's nuclear programme and regime change in Tehran.


The plan is to target Iran by war on Lebanon, blame Iran for the violence and instability in Lebanon, and "bait" Iran with attacks on innocent Shi'ite civilians. All Middle East states fit three categories: being destroyed by Israel or the United States; being targeted for destruction; or de-legitimized for complicity with Israel and the United States.

The Target is Iran

Tom Porteous

Agence Global
July 20, 2006

Copyright ? 2006 Tom Porteous / Agence Global
[Republished aqt PEJ News with AG permission]

Up until now there have been many obstacles to U.S. or Israeli military action against Iran. But two stand out in particular. One is the presence of a well-armed Hezbollah on Israel's northern border. Iran itself has indicated that it would seek to use its influence on Hezbollah to retaliate against Israel in the event of a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iranian territory.

The other obstacle is the lack of a smoking Iranian gun, which Israel and the United States could use as a means of overcoming the near universal international opposition to military action against Iran.

It is reasonable to suppose that Israeli and U.S. strategists -- there is clearly collusion in the current crisis -- are calculating that the battle in Lebanon will remove both these obstacles. In the short term at least, Hezbollah's military capacity to attack Israel is bound to be decimated by the current Israeli assault, thus removing an important Iranian deterrent to an Israeli or U.S. attack on Iran.

At the same time the Israelis are pushing hard to manufacture an Iranian smoking gun in Lebanon that could then be used to justify direct military action against Tehran and other Iranian targets. This effort has at least two components.

One is a barrage of outright misinformation and propaganda, dutifully reported as fact by much of the mainstream media in the West, blaming Iran and Syria for the current escalation in Lebanon.

The other component is bait. Israel will be hoping that as it steps up its ferocious attacks on Lebanon, focussing in particular on Shi'ite population centres, Iran will feel compelled to come to the assistance of its Shi'ite brothers. This will enable Israel to argue that it faces a "clear and present" military threat of aggression from Iran which justifies a pre-emptive strike on Iran.

Israel's attack on Lebanon shows once again that the U.S.-Israeli military alliance in the Middle East is capable of massive destruction in the "shock and awe" phases of its military operations. No state in the region, not even Iran, is capable of withstanding U.S. or Israeli military power and sophistication.

In both Iraq and Lebanon (two offensives in what is clearly the same war) the United States and Israel have been able to achieve important military objectives: in the former, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the destruction of the Baathist state; in the latter, the depletion of Hezbollah's military capacity. In Iran too they may well achieve their immediate objectives if it comes to a military offensive.

But then what? As is demonstrated quite clearly both by the present situation in Iraq and by Israel's earlier experiences in Lebanon such heavy handed military "solutions" to strategic problems also have longer term political and strategic costs.

Hezbollah itself, both as a political ideology and as a military force, is largely the product of Israel's earlier invasions and occupations of Lebanon in its fight against the PLO. In Iraq, the U.S. invasion and occupation have nurtured numerous "hezbollahs," both Shia and Sunni, together with a failed state and a civil war in which they can thrive. Another consequence of the Iraq war has been to vastly increase Iran's strategic influence in the region thus paving the way for the current bombardment of Lebanon and a possible U.S./Israeli offensive against Iran.

Both at the strategic and tactical levels, each military operation on the part of the U.S. and Israel (and Britain) makes the problem they profess to be fighting worse and gives rise to the need for another military operation in an accelerating spiral of violence. Each offensive creates new enemies forced by circumstances to use new tactics of resistance and liberation. Each military campaign sharpens the grievances, the despair and justified anger that give succour to the more extreme factions of the Islamist movement in the region.

The states of the Middle East are now divided into three categories: those which are already being destroyed by the United States and Israel (Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority); those which are pinpointed for destruction (Iran and Syria); and those whose legitimacy, and therefore stability, is being rapidly eroded by their complicity in the violent and repressive U.S.-Israeli campaign to control the region (the rest of them).

If we continue along this path, the result is likely to be to turn the Middle East into a region of weak and failed states populated by very angry and frightened people. We are already half way there, and feeling the consequences in the form of international terrorism and waves of economic migrants and refugees. But it can get much worse.

The problems of the region require dialogue and negotiation, both to prevent further escalation of the regional crisis and to find long term solutions to the underlying causes, especially the problem of Palestine. But dialogue and negotiation require two things: a willingness to make concessions and credible negotiating partners. The United States and Israel show no sign of the former and are intent on destroying or undermining the latter.

The prospects for the region and for the world are bleak.

Tom Porteous
is a syndicated columnist and author, formerly with the BBC and the British Foreign Office.

Copyright ? 2006 Tom Porteous / Agence Global

Released: 20 July 2006
Word Count: 900
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Agence Global is the exclusive syndication agency for The Nation and The American Prospect, as well as expert commentary by William Beeman, Richard Bulliet, Juan Cole, Mark Hertsgaard, Rami G. Khouri, Tom Porteous, Patrick Seale and Immanuel Wallerstein.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 July 2006 03:05

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