Sunday, August 28, 2022

Haaretz is perplexed:
In addition to dealing with the progress toward a new nuclear agreement with Iran and the talks aimed at preventing a teachers’ strike September 1, Israeli decision makers had another matter to ponder this week. Much time and other resources were devoted to trying to figure out what Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is up to. The answers, so far, have been very partial.

There seems to be no logic to Nasrallah’s frequent threats to strike Israeli drilling platforms in the Mediterranean, risking war, if a final agreement is not reached on the Israel-Lebanon maritime border. Lebanon is in the midst of a severe economic and political crisis, and if war were to break out Hezbollah would likely be widely blamed for embroiling the country in an unnecessary and very costly military adventure.

Nevertheless, throughout the summer Nasrallah has spoken out the dispute over natural-gas drilling rights, growing increasingly extreme in his statements. What’s worrisome, especially to Military Intelligence, is the difficulty of analyzing his views and intentions. Despite the high likelihood of an eventual agreement, with U.S. mediation, there is still genuine apprehension about possible surprises from Hezbollah.
It still amazes me that serious analysts think that Hezbollah leader Nasrallah makes any real decisions on his own. His loyalty is to Iranian leaders, and no one else. The well-being of Lebanon is not one of his goals, it is an impediment to his goals.

Even UNIFIL, which is reluctant to publicly criticize Hezbollah, has called out its increased militarization and violations of the buffer zone in southern Lebanon.

Nasrallah's increasing bellicosity must be seen in context of what is happening with other Iranian proxies. For example, this story today says that Syria asked Iran and its proxies not to conduct attacks against Israel from its territory - which means that Syria is aware of such plans.

Not to mention the Islamic Jihad mini-war earlier in August, which was prompted by an attempt for a major terror attack against Israel. That was all orchestrated by Iran, seemingly against Hamas wishes for stability in Gaza. 

See a pattern?

There was also an intriguing story of a possible Israeli strike at a Houthi camp in Yemen on August 7, during the Gaza fighting, where six Iranian and Lebanese advisers were killed. The Houthis, using Iranian technology, have been increasing their ballistic missile and cruise missile ranges to reach Israel and have directly threatened Israel as well. 

From all indications, Iran is gearing up for a major escalation of fighting against Israel, but it is not ready to directly attack. It wants its proxies in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and seemingly Yemen (maybe even Iraq) to overwhelm Israeli missile defenses with thousands of rockets from all directions. (One must also assume that Iran is working with some Israeli Arabs to create a fifth column of terror attacks within Israel itself in the case of any war.) 

The escalation of threats by Iran and its proxies is almost certainly linked with the nuclear negotiations. The billions of dollars that Iran would gain from an agreement would help fund these proxies, a basic fact that the West is consciously overlooking in its zeal to close out a bad deal with Iran. Iran understands the West much better than the West understands Iran, and the mullahs have already proven that they can gain far more leverage with militancy than with confidence building measures.  

And they know quite well that the West, after finally sighing with relief at an agreement, will not have the will or desire to threaten new sanctions in response to an Iranian-directed proxy war against Israel. 

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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