Special Report: Iran’s War Plan Emerging
Vol: 70 Issue: 28 Saturday, July 28, 2007
Special Report: Iran’s War Plan Emerging
This past week, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad paid a state visit to Syria to meet with Bashar al Assad, president of Syria, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, and with the senior Hamas leadership headquartered in Damascus.
During their meeting, the Syrian president promised his Iranian counterpart to refrain from opening peace negotiations with Israel in exchange for massive Iranian military aid and Tehran’s support of Syrian interests in Lebanon.
This was reported Saturday by the Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, which is published in London.
Following their lengthy meeting in Damascus, President Bashar Assad said, “I am calm today, more than ever.” After their meeting, the Iranian president also met privately with Hezbollah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and Hamas political bureau director Khaled Mashaal.
According to the report, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad agreed to help Syria with nuclear research and chemical weapons and to equip its navy with surface-to-sea missiles of the type that Hezbollah used to attack the Israel Navy Hanit warship in the course of the Second Lebanon War.
It also promised to build in Syria a factory for the manufacture of medium-range missiles and to allot $1 billion to the purchase of advanced tanks and combat planes from Russia.
Reports indicate that Iran even promised “to make problems” during the Lebanese presidential elections in order to keep Assad’s Lebanese puppet, Emile Lahoud in office.
Barely two days after Ahmadinejad headed for home, Nasrallah was announcing to anyone that would listen that Hezbollah had missiles that could strike anywhere in Israel.
“In July and August (2006) there was no place in occupied Palestine which was out of the reach of the resistance missiles. Tel Aviv or elsewhere, we were certain that we could reach any corner or spot in occupied Palestine and now we are certain that we can reach them,” Nasrallah told al-Jazeera.
Hezbollah has been building its arsenal and training its forces with Iran’s assistance for the past year and awaiting instructions from Tehran.
Nasrallah’s comments to al-Jazeera only days after Ahmadinejad’s summit suggest those instructions have been given.
Last year’s war came as a surprise to both Hezbollah and Iran. Hezbollah slipped across Israel’s border and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. They expected Israel to bluster and fume, perhaps conduct a few retaliatory strikes, but they never expected Israel to mount a full-scale invasion of Lebanon.
The war came before Iran was ready. But Hezbollah successfully held off the Israeli incursion and the war ended in a draw, pleasantly surprising Damascus and Tehran and drawing the renewed attention of al-Qaeda.
With Hezbollah still holding Israel’s prisoners and Israel going home empty-handed, it appeared that Israel might not be as unbeatable as it once was.
The thinking is, if Hezbollah could stalemate the IDF, the combined power of an Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas-al-Qaeda assault, coupled with advanced weaponry, could finally crush them.
The European UNFIL units stationed in Lebanon would be assigned to the terrorists to drive out, without risking direct European retaliation against Iran or Syria. There is evidence to suggest that is just what Ahmadinejad has in mind.
Tehran has placed new al-Qaeda units Tehran has established within Hezbollah units in Lebanon. They are specifically trained to attack UNIFIL, and with Hezbollah’s new anti-aircraft and anti-ship cruise missiles, Hezbollah can engage any air or naval retaliation that might come from European ships and aircraft.
A few years ago, during one of its military parades, Tehran had in formation an infantry unit of mullahs, students of the Quran, dedicated to martyrdom. Ahmadinejad made a show last year of signing up thousands of volunteers to join a special martyr’s brigade.
The past year’s resupply and training preparations have equipped Hezbollah and Hamas to inflict serious, and potentially fatal injuries to Israel, even without direct Syrian or Iranian military action.
And a major war would inflame radical Islam throughout the region, threatening the governments of both Jordan and Egypt. Both have peace treaties with Israel and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah of Jordan are both still friendly to the US — good reasons for targeting their regimes for overthrow.
Syria continues to build up its forward ballistic missile batteries along the border with Israel. Syria is known to be producing non-conventional warheads, including those containing VX gas, to deliver by SCUDs.
World Tribune reported that, ” Israeli military sources said the Syrian military has positioned its Scud C and Scud D ballistic missile batteries in southern Syria. The sources said the missile batteries have maintained full combat readiness and could be launched at any time.
The sources said the Syrian missiles, including the SS-21, could reach virtually any part of the Jewish state.”
The Tribune said that Israeli intelligence interprets the high state of alert of Syrian forward missile batteries as an indication of a planned Syrian first strike.
“We have tried to reach an arrangement where each side takes measures to ease tensions,” a military source said. “The Syrians have not responded.”
“The Syrians are limiting their preparations to ballistic missiles, air defense and commando operations,” the source said. “Their first move would be an attack on our cities rather than a tank invasion of the Golan.”
The sources said Syria has also brought military personnel in plainclothes to help re-populate villages in the Golan Heights near the demilitarized zone with Israel. They said this could indicate that Syria was adopting the Hizbullah model of establishing a civilian shield from which to attack Israel.
“Israel wants peace, but we must be prepared,” Olmert said. “We must not allow ourselves to be taken by surprise.”
Syria recently removed its military checkpoints on its side of the border. Israel is “concerned” that Syria’s removal of military checkpoints on their side of the Golan Heights could be a sign that Damascus is preparing for war, the London based Al-Hayat reported Saturday.
The British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, reported on June 25 that Tehran was establishing a missile defense shield for Syria and preparing to ship sophisticated military hardware, including “dozens of medium-range Shahab-3 and Russian-made Scud-C missiles, together with Scud-B missiles.”
Along the Israeli side of the Golan, Israel has established a number of new army positions, and several old IDF military installations reopened. Some of the newly reactivated installations hadn’t been used since the early 1980’s.
More tanks have been patrolling the area, with several tanks setting up shop in strategic positions looking down on Syria. Makeshift military outposts have been erected and Golan checkpoints fortified.
In several Golan positions near the Syrian border, IDF tractors cleared the way in recent weeks so that tanks can amass in the area if they are needed, soldiers stationed here said.
Dennis Ross, State Department Middle East chief negotiator during the Clinton administration, said flatly this week that war could erupt between Israel and Syria this summer. “Syria has rearmed Hezbollah to the teeth,” Ross said, without America doing anything to punish the Assad regime.
The editor in chief of Syria’s official daily newspaper Al-Thawra wrote Wednesday that Damascus was expecting an attack at any time, and warned that an Israeli strike would be a “mistake.”
Last week, al-Qaeda released what was obviously a five year old video of Osama bin-Laden exhorting his followers, prompting widespread speculation that the fact he hadn’t been seen in more than a year and that this video was five years old meant that he was dead or dying.
A second, but far less discussed possibility, is that the video was released as a signal to his commanders. When al-Qaeda wants to get a message delivered, and it doesn’t have time to wait for Fedex to find the right cave, it releases an Osama bin-laden video. The second it is released, its contents make world-wide headline news. It’s lots faster, and more reliable, than Fedex.
Let’s add up what we know, or can reasonably infer, from the available intelligence. Iran appears to have given Hezbollah, Hamas and al-Qaeda a target list and a target date for war with Israel. Syria has put its missile batteries on high alert, and Israel is fortifying its side of the Golan Heights.
Last week, Ehud Ohlmert was discussing handing the Golan back to Syria in exchange for peace. This week, Syria claims Israel is not serious about peace negotiations and is adding new missile batteries to its military buildup along Israel’s borders.
What else do we know? We know that Iran has signed up thousands of volunteer martyrs. Iran is also orchestrating and coordinating military operations with Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda in Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The latest National Intelligence Estimate says Iran has been hosting al-Qaeda’s top leadership and that al-Qaeda now coordinates policy and operations with Ahmadinejad in Tehran.
We know that al-Qaeda is recruiting in Latin America. We know that Venezuela has been operating an Iran-Damascus-Caracas air corridor for the past year.
We know that Middle Eastern illegal aliens have been caught trying to enter the US disguised as Mexicans.
Here’s what we don’t know. We don’t know who has made it across the borders so far, where they are, where they are from, or what their intentions are.
Here is what we can infer. It is reasonable to assume that a good number of Iranian-trained jihadists, as well as al-Qaeda jihadists smuggled from Venezuela through Mexico have made it to the United States.
At the same time, Iran is openly pulling the strings to orchestrate an all-out war of annihilation against Israel, through proxy armies, while it prepares for a wider war with the United States, where sleeper agents await their activation orders.
Homeland Security has been warning of the probability of a terrorist attack against the US this summer, with Michael Chertoff making headlines last week by saying last week that he had a ‘gut instinct’ of an impending strike.
And this week, we’ve had Osama bin-Laden’s face splashed over every TV set in the world, in a carefully arranged montage of selected clips from old videos. What can be inferred from the available intelligence is chilling. Iran may be orchestrating something much wider than just a regional war with Israel.
It’s going to be a long, hot summer.