Thursday, February 26, 2009

Israeli National Security

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz,

Iran has been increasing its involvement and control over Hezbollah's operations since terror operations head Imad Mughniyeh was killed a year ago. Hezbollah has not yet found someone of similar stature to replace Mughniyeh. Therefore, the Iranians have taken some responsibility for Hezbollah operations, using a large number of Iranian Revolutionary Guard and intelligence officers in Lebanon. This means operational cooperation between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah has increased regarding all potential actions against Israel. Iranian officers, most of whom prefer to be based in Syria, often visit Lebanon and tour the Israeli border.

The Iranians are directly involved in running Hezbollah operations in southern Lebanon, and in addition, hundreds of Hezbollah militants head for Iran every month for training and exercises.

If, as commonly thought, Israel murdered Mughniyeh, then it evidently “succeeded” in pushing its two major regional enemies closer together. Enhancing the unity of one’s enemies is not normally considered an intelligent thing to do.

Pushing one’s enemies into each other’s arms is a great way to make one appear innocent while one plans a war of aggression, but for those who care about Israeli national security, alternative options are being ignored. A creative policy-maker could design a system of positive incentives to encourage the development of real, all-inclusive Lebanese democracy that would make Hezbollah’s policy of resistance less attractive to the average Lebanese Shi’ite voter. A creative policy-maker would also pull out the irritating Shebaa Farms thorn as fast as possible.

Given the long road that Hezbollah has traveled from the war of liberation following its creation in the midst of Sharon’s 1982 invasion to its current powerful position in the Lebanese government, if violent resistance were to start costing Hezbollah votes among the Shi’ite poor, that might induce Hezbollah leadership to reconsider its stance toward Israel and its ties to Iran. And if it did not, then Hezbollah would suffer a decline in its now-rising domestic political power.

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