Tehran Takes Gloomy View of the Lebanon War and Truce

While the damage caused Israel’s military reputation tops Western assessments of the Lebanon war, debkafile‘s Iranian sources report an entirely different perception taking hold in ruling circles in Tehran.
After UN Security Council resolution 1701 calling for a truce was carried Friday, Aug. 11, the heads of the regime received two separate evaluations of the situation in Lebanon – one from Iran’s foreign ministry and one from its supreme national security council. Both were bleak: their compilers were concerned that Iran had been manipulatively robbed of its primary deterrent asset ahead of a probable nuclear confrontation with the United States and Israel.
While the foreign ministry report highlighted the negative aspects of the UN resolution, the council’s document complained that Hizballah squandered thousands of rockets – either by firing them into Israel or having them destroyed by the Israeli air force.
The writer of this report is furious over the waste of Iran’s most important military investment in Lebanon merely for the sake of a conflict with Israeli over two kidnapped soldiers.
It took Iran two decades to build up Hizballah’s rocket inventory.
debkafile‘s sources estimate that Hizballah’s adventure wiped out most of the vast sum of $4-6 bn the Iranian treasury sunk into building its military strength. The organization was meant to be strong and effective enough to provide Iran with a formidable deterrent to Israel embarking on a military operation to destroy the Islamic regime’s nuclear infrastructure.
To this end, Tehran bought the Israeli military doctrine of preferring to fight its wars on enemy soil. In the mid-1980s, Iran decided to act on this doctrine by coupling its nuclear development program with Israel’s encirclement and the weakening its deterrence strength. The Jewish state was identified at the time as the only country likely to take vigorous action to spike Iran’s nuclear aspirations.
The ayatollahs accordingly promoted Hizballah’s rise as a socio-political force in Lebanon, at the same time building up its military might and capabilities for inflicting damage of strategic dimensions to Israel’s infrastructure.
That effort was accelerated after Israeli forces withdrew from the Lebanese security zone in May 2000. A bunker network and chain of fortified positions were constructed, containing war rooms equipped with the finest western hi-tech gadgetry, including night vision gear, computers and electronics, as well as protective devices against bacteriological and chemical warfare.
This fortified network was designed for assault and defense alike.
Short- medium- and long-range rockets gave the hard edge to Hizballah’s ablity to conduct a destructive war against Israel and its civilians – when the time was right for Tehran.
Therefore, Iran’s rulers are hopping mad and deeply anxious over news of the huge damage sustained by Hizballah’s rocket inventory, which was proudly touted before the war as numbering 13,000 pieces.
Hizballah fighters, they are informed, managed to fire only a small number of Khaibar-1 rockets, most of which hit Haifa and Afula, while nearly 100 were destroyed or disabled by Israeli air strikes.
The long-range Zelzal-1 and Zelzal-2, designed for hitting Tel Aviv and the nuclear reactor at Dimona have been degraded even more. Iran sent over to Lebanon 50 of those missiles. The keys to the Zelzal stores stayed in the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers who were in command of Hizballah. Nasrallah and his officers had no access to these stores.
But Tehran has learned that Israel was able to destroy most of the 22 Zelzal launchers provided.
That is not the end of the catalogue of misfortunes for the Islamic rulers of Iran.
1. The UN Security Council embodied in resolution 1701 a chapter requiring Hizballah to disarm – in the face of a stern warning issued by supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in person in the early days of the war. Revolutionary Guards commanders went so far as to boast: “No one alive is capable of disarming Hizballah.”
The disarming of Hizballah would therefore be a bad knock to the supreme ruler’s authority and prestige as well as a disastrous blow for the deterrent force so painstakingly and expensively fashioned as a second front line to protect the Islamic republic from a safe distance.
2. Hizballah’s ejection from South Lebanon, if accomplished in the aftermath of the ceasefire, would moreover deprive Tehran of the sword hanging over Israel’s head of instantaneous attack.
For the sake of partial damage control, Tehran handed Nasrallah a set of new instructions Sunday, Aug. 13:
First, to find a way of evading the ceasefire and keeping up war operations against Israeli forces.
Second, to reject the proposal to disarm before the Lebanese government meets on this Monday afternoon. In fact, that meeting was called off after Hassan Nasrallah sent a message to the Lebanese ministers flatly refusing to have Hizballah give up its weapons in the south. He also turned down a compromise proposal handed him later, whereby the Lebanese army’s first mission after deploying in the south would be to help Hizballah evacuate its fighters with their arms to positions north of the Litani River.
The strategy evolving in Tehran since the ceasefire went into effect Monday morning requires Hizballah to employ a range of stratagems – not only to prevent the truce from stabilizing but to stop the Lebanese army from deploying n the south and, above all, the entry of an effective international force.
Furthermore, Hizballah is instructed to stretch the military crisis into the next three of four months, synchronously with the timetable for a UN Security Council sanctions-wielding session on Iran.
According to exclusive reports reaching debkafile‘s sources, the Iranian government believes that Israel and the United States are preparing a military operation for the coming October and November to strike Iran’s nuclear installations. It is therefore vital to keep the two armies fully occupied with other pursuits.
Iranian leaders’ conviction that the Lebanon war was staged to bamboozle them rests on certain perceptions:
As seen from Tehran, Israel looked as though it was carrying out a warming-up exercise in preparation for its main action against Iran’s nuclear program. The Israeli army was able to explore, discover and correct its weak points, understand what was lacking and apply the necessary remedial measures. They therefore expect the IDF to emerge from the war having produced novel methods of warfare.
They also have no doubt that the United States will replenish Israel’s war chest with a substantial aid program of new and improved weaponry.
From the Iranian viewpoint, Israel succeeded in seriously degrading Hizballah’s capabilities. It was also able to throw the Lebanese Shiite militia to the wolves; the West is now in a position to force Nasrallah and his men to quit southern Lebanon and disarm. The West shut its eyes when he flouted the Resolution 1559 order for the disarmament of all Lebanese militias. But that game is over. The Americans will use Resolution 1701 as an effect weapon to squeeze Iran, denied of its second-front deterrence, on its nuclear program.
Tehran hopes to pre-empt the American move by torpedoing the Lebanon ceasefire and preventing the termination of hostilities at all costs.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Font Resize
Contrast