Debka is reporting additional information on the clash yesterday between the Israeli Defense force (IDF) and the Lebanese Army. The signs are not good.
By taking on Israeli forces, the Lebanese Army assumed responsibility for the volatile Lebanese-Israeli border and showed it was prepared to take the consequences of aggression. Never seen as capable of anything more than substandard police work and inclined to run a mile from combat situations, this army was described by Debkafile’s military sources as having astonished military observers by its performance against the IDF.
The article lists eight items that indicate a serious change in the status of Lebanon vis a vis Israel. Please read the entire article for additional important information.
Analysis. If this were an isolated event it might be ignorable. Almost nothing in the Middle East these days is an isolated incident. The overtones of this incident reverberate well beyond Jerusalem and Beirut. They go to Damascus, Riyadh, Amman and Tehran.
It is clear that King Abdullah’s trip to Damascus and Beirut last week was a bust. Assad is not giving up his attachment to the Iranians. If Hezbollah had perpetrated this attack on the IDF, it would have been understood to come form Tehran. Since it came from the Lebanese Army, we must presume that Tehran through Syria has now obtained control of Lebanon. The conflict has now been upgraded to a conflict between two states and not between a state and a non-state actor (Hezbollah). Iran now obtains plausible deniability for any actions that occur on Israel’s northern border.
It also became clear that the Saudis have no power to effect outcomes in the Middle East. The lines are being drawn ideologically and money has lost its influence when it is countered by more money. The Syrians cannot be bought because the Saudis do not have what Assad wants: the Golan. Nor can they buy it for him. Bashar Assad sees the possibility of redeeming the family’s defeats by the IDF and reclaiming the Golan by force. He is not likely to change sides absent Syrian troops on the Golan.
The Saudis must now do some “agonizing reassessment” of their role in Middle East politics. Studied non-action is no longer an option. Showing up to negotiate with a sack of gold will not do the job either. The Saudis must show up to play with real military forces. They must take risks. Or, the House of Saud can retire to the Islamic Republic of Marseilles and spend all their time gambling and whoring. They may not be ready for that quite yet. But it will require active commitment to the overall objective of removing the mullahs from power in Iran.
King Abdullah II of Jordan has also taken note and probably been fully briefed by the IDF. He now understands that he is facing an increased risk in the upcoming conflict. His borders are not secure either. Hezbollah is now free to attack Jordan or at least cause some pain in the area bordering on the “occupied” West Bank in support of Hamas cells operating there.
The black turban brigade in Tehran has also scored some points. I take this action as a direct response to the sanctions recently put in place. It is a demonstration of the ability of the mullahocracy to inflict pain in areas far away from the Persian Gulf. We should expect other such demonstrations as the sanctions continue to take their toll on the Iranian economy. We should consider the possibility of Hezbollah cells staging attacks in the southwestern United States that can be undertaken by or blamed on the drug cartels.
We are in an era of severe instability in the World. Our own economic situation creates additional vulnerability to disruptions in the flow of goods and services. I deem it not beyond the realm of possibility that the Iranians may attempt to interdict oil shipments to the United States or Europe after they have cleared the Straits of Hormuz. This capability has already been demonstrated by the Somali pirates and El Queda in the Arabian Peninsula. Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces could easily masquerade as either group. They may have dome so already during the attack on the M. Star.
Whether or not the situation in Lebanon will escalate is unknown. The mullahs may have decided that their little demonstration is sufficient for now. If the Lebanese do nothing, the IDF will still have to consume resources just to be prepared in case they do. We should beware the “death of a thousand cuts.”