Putin Hopes to Cash in When the War Is over

A well-attended funeral took place in the Iranian holy city of Qom on June 19. Clerical and public figures from across the Shiite Muslim world were there to pay their last respects to Ayatollah Fadhel Lankrani.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Iran sources report that the Lebanese Hizballah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah was represented by his close aide and intimate Sheik Akram.

As the party waited for the burial rites to begin, Akram was approached by Ayatollah Mohammed Raza Golpayegani, close adviser to Iran’s supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with an urgent message from his master for Nasrallah in Beirut.

The message was this: The latest intelligence reaching Iran revealed that the Bush administration has given the green light for Israel to attack Syria and Hizballah in the near future. The messenger told Akram that the news was important enough for him to cancel his plans for a few days’ stay in Tehran and carry it to Beirut without delay.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Iranian sources also disclose that, earlier this month, Russian officials, in Tehran to discuss bilateral issues, repeated a piece of intelligence they had relayed to Tehran in April: the United States was determined to resort to military action against Iran’s nuclear and economic infrastructure this summer.

Tehran later deduced from bits and pieces of information picked up in Russian and Far East media and conversations here and there that Russian president Vladimir Putin was contemplating an official visit to Tehran in the fall of 2007 on the assumption that the coming war with the United States would be over by then.

It seems that Putin expects to be credited for forewarning Tehran about the American attack and for the neutral stance in the conflict adopted by Russian military commanders.

When it is over, and Iran finds a large part of its nuclear industry in ruins, Putin banks on being rewarded by high points in Tehran and a strong role in assisting in Iran’s recovery. He expects Tehran to trust him to act as mediator for an accommodation with the Americans and Europeans.

Even without Moscow’s strong advice, Iran’s government and military leader have convinced themselves, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources, that an American attack is inevitable, together with Israeli action against Syria and Hizballah. Those sources add that the Syrian army is putting the finishing touches on its preparations

In the last two weeks Syrian troops have sunk deep underground positions and fortifications in readiness for an Israeli armored assault.

(Read a separate article on the Golan).

The Hizballah officer’s message to Nasrallah resulted in the militia switching to battle readiness in South Lebanon. Some Israeli military and intelligence sources estimate that al Qaeda’s bombing attack which killed 6 Spanish UN peacekeepers in South Lebanon on June 24 slots, was an integral element of the major effort Syria and Hizballah have launched to drive the UN force out of the South, lest a West European force stands between them and Israel in a fresh conflagration.

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