Four triggers for CIA spy scares in Iran, Hizballah
First, Hizballah reported the unmasking of a CIA network in Lebanon. Then, Wednesday, Nov. 23, an Iranian lawmaker Parviz Sorouri, a member of the Iranian parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee, claimed the capture of 12 CIA spies targeting Iran's military and its nuclear program with the Mossad and regional agencies. Beirut and Tehran had clearly joined forces, debkafile's intelligence sources report, to prove they were on top of their security and had smashed dangerous US intelligence networks operating inside their armed forces.
Iran and Hizballah were driven into action by four pressing circumstances:
1. Tehran needed urgently to erase the bad impression left by the explosion which wiped out Iran's entire missile command, including Maj. Gen. Hassan Moghaddam, at the secret Revolutionary Guards base in Aghadir near Tehran on Oct. 12.
Despite the supreme effort the authorities made to persuade the public that the calamity was caused by a technical malfunction, it brought back memories of former assassinations of top Iranian nuclear scientists, for which Tehran blamed the CIA and the Mossad.
2. The growing inability of Iran's leading ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, to put down the uprising against his rule is in itself a sorry reflection on Tehran's choice of allies, especially this week when the anti-regime Free Syrian Army raised its head and struck strategic targets in Syria and outside the country, singling out Lebanon.
Furthermore, debkafile's intelligence and military sources report, the unexplained explosion at the illegal Hizballah arms dump in the southern Lebanese town of Siddiqin Wednesday, Nov. 23 was the work of the Syrian rebels' military arm, the FSA. It struck a target representing Assad's ally which is moreover Tehran's Lebanese surrogate.
Graffiti left at the scene of the blast said it was revenge for Hizballah's aide to the Assad regime's crackdown in Syrian cities and promised more.
The Siddiqin explosion was a shock to high authority in Tehran, Damascus and Beirut.
The Iranian Supreme Ruler's military adviser, Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, had earlier warned that if Iran were attacked, it would not need to launch ballistic missiles at Israel "because all the Zionist cities are within the range of our ally Hizballah's Katyushas."
The weapons store explosion at Siddiqin has placed a large question mark over that threat. Tehran will have to take into account that the Syrian rebels can identify Hizballah's rocket hideouts and launching pads, in which Iran has invested huge sums, and may sabotage them before they can go into action.
Since the destroyed arms depot was lodged in a well-protected Hizballah stronghold, officials in Beirut and Tehran must assume that the saboteurs, who slipped in an out of the site undetected, had local aid.
3. Both Iran and Hizballah are gearing up for war. Under cover of a military exercise, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and their Basij militia units last week began organizing in battle array in the various theaters assigned them in the country.
Hizballah's leader Hassan Nasrallah has been inspecting Hizballah units. In his briefings to their commanders and men, he is warning them that war with Israel, and perhaps other Western armed forces too, is very near and they must be ready.
The difference between victory and defeat, he is saying, may hinge on their ability to detect double agents working in their midst for the Americans and Israelis. Even willingness for sacrifice and superior weaponry are no match for the peril posed from within by these spies.
This was Nasrallah's first implicit admission of the inability of his and Iran's security arms to root out US and Israeli penetrations of their forces, and their need to turn to ordinary soldiers for help.
4. The alleged spy affairs Iran and Lebanon exposed this week are part of their response to US and Western pressure of the past fortnight to halt Iran's nuclear progress. They are also payback for Washington's allegation of an Iranian-led conspiracy to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US.