Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri begins a suicidal trip to the Iranian capital Saturday, Nov. 27, to the accompaniment of falling Western holdings across the Middle East, debkafile's military analysts report. Finding the US, Israel and the Arab world unwilling to rescue him from Syria and Iran he, like Samson in Philistine captivity, decided to take them with him when he is crushed by Hizballah.
During his two-day stay in Tehran, a month after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad turned up in Beirut, Hariri will give more ground – as he did in his cap-in-hand interviews with Syrian President Bashar Assad. But he has no illusions he can save himself from being pushed out by a puppet regime.
Nothing Hariri can do now will stop Hizballah seizing control of Beirut and other strategic regions of the country including the Lebanese-Syrian border crossings in early December to prevent the Special Lebanese Tribunal indicting the Shiite radicals for complicity in his father's assassination five years ago.
The Lebanese prime minister's uncharacteristic verbal onslaughts on Israel will not help him – any more than his declared refusal, as an Arab League member, to join the radical axis led by Tehran Hizballah and Turkey or sign a military treaty that would violate UN sanctions against Iran.
debkafile's military sources point out that Lebanon's membership of the Arab Leaguehas no bearing on whether or not it falls into the clutches of Iran, Hizballah and fellow-member Syria, because the League is politically and militarily toothless. In fact, some of its members believe non-Arab Iran and Turkey should be invited to join and the body expanded into a Muslim League for a concerted fight against Israel.
The anti-Israel element dominated Turkish Prime Minister Reccep Erdogan's call in Beirut, Wednesday, Nov. 13 for the establishment of a global Islamic bloc.
Ankara, he said, would not stand aside in any new conflicts between Lebanon and Israel, or Israel and the Palestinian Hamas government of the Gaza Strip.
It was the first time that Erdogan had explicitly committed Turkey's armed forces to intervening in a war against Israel and its Defense Forces.
Although this pledge and other hostile steps consistently chip away at Israel's military supremacy, Washington and Jerusalem have not found the words to say or the action to pursue in response. They seem to be treating a succession of setbacks inflicted by Middle East radicals as occurring far away on a distant planet.
Their limpness will lead to three potential consequences:
1. The Obama administration is letting things slide in Lebanon because it cannot cope with that crisis while deciding what to do about the Korean clash of arms. There, too, Washington is showing military weakness and turning to China for help. But on Dec. 5, when the six powers and Iran sit down for nuclear talks, the Americans will find a delegation representing a regime much empowered by Its success in dominating Lebanon instead of debilitated by sanctions as expected.
2. Israel has mislaid its teeth most of all because of the breach between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Obama administration on the terms for reviving talks with the Palestinians. It widens every time he says he is waiting for a letter of guarantee from Washington before he asks the cabinet to approve a three-month freeze on West Bank settlement construction – knowing full well the administration does not plan to send one any time soon.
Secondly, the Israeli public is too caught up in lurid disclosures of sex and corruption scandals in high places to pay attention to much else. Departing Military Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin's comment about Israel's deterrent strength Nov. 23, in the past tense would normally have made news headlines. Not these days.
Yadlin was not the first to voice concern about Israel's shrinking military edge over its enemies. Uzi Rubin, one of the heads of Israel's missile industry and a father of the Arrow missile interceptor, has warned: "The enemy has achieved aerial supremacy without even having aircraft." He spoke of Syria and Hizballah being allowed to pile up 1,500 surface missiles with guidance systems which are pointed at Tel Aviv.
3. Saudi Arabia, which stepped up as a responsible moderate Arab force capable of saving Western influence in Lebanon, opted out of this role when King Abdullah left the scene and travelled to New York for surgery.
It now turns out that the Saudi ploy led by the king's son Prince Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah for defusing the Lebanese crisis by enlisting Syria was cynically exploited by Damascus, Tehran and Hizballah. It gave them extra time to perfect their conspiracy for bringing Lebanon to heel.
Finding himself defending Lebanon alone at the barricades, Hariri threw in the sponge and decided to fly to Tehran and bow to his fate.