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Old 08-18-2008, 10:49 PM
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Arrow Confronting the Iranian threat

Confronting the Iranian threat

Saturday, 16 August 2008 The Washington Times
Editorial


As it considers its options in dealing with Iranian nuclear weapons, Israel has become increasingly concerned about the possibility of a larger war with Tehran and its proxies - and specifically, the possibility that it could be on the receiving end of missile attacks launched by the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah in the event of a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. During the summer 2006 war, Hezbollah fired 4,000 rockets, blanketing Northern Israel, and it is apparently prepared to do so again if war breaks out between Iran and Israel. Israeli intelligence says that Hezbollah has close to 40,000 short- and medium-range missiles in Southern Lebanon - triple the size of its its pre-war stockpile.

The rebuilding of Hezbollah's military arsenal near the Israeli border was not supposed to happen: Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 (UNSCR 1701) - a cease-fire resolution passed on Aug. 11, 2006, that ended the fighting - U.N. peacekeepers were supposed to ensure that Hezbollah was disarmed. The resolution also called for an international arms embargo against the group along with deployment of an international force to prevent weapons smuggling. None of this has happened. Today, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak travels the world declaring UNSCR 1701 a failure, as he emphasizes that Israel cannot abide an Iranian proxy in southern Lebanon armed with 40,000 missiles capable of targeting his country. In the event of war between Israel and Iran, the Jewish state is preparing for the possibility that much of this arsenal will be raining down on its civilian population - not unlike two summers ago.

As it considers military action against Iranian nuclear facilities, Israel is trying to gauge how Iran and the rest of the Arab and Islamic worlds would react to such a move. In addition to Hezbollah strikes from Lebanon, there is the possibility that Syria could enter any war with Israel on Tehran's side. But launching missiles from Syrian territory is dangerous in that it would provoke severe retaliation from Israel, which maintains air supremacy. Jordan and Egypt, which have signed peace treaties with Israel, would likely stay out of the fighting. But in Gaza, where Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Iranian- and Syrian-backed terrorist groups are based, Israel could expect an upsurge in rocket attacks. Another factor is al Qaeda - which has affiliates in Gaza, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Jordan. It would not be a surprise if al Qaeda tried to launch strikes against Israel or Arab "collaborators" (governments that have made peace with Israel) in an effort to demonstrate solidarity with Tehran. Such attacks could take the form of terrorist strikes such as suicide bombings directed at civilians or assassinations of government officials.

In Iraq, there would surely be efforts by Iranian proxies to target government institutions and U.S. troops; the same would likely happen in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well. A critical question is what will happen in Saudi Arabia and other nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), all of whom have had difficulties to one degree or another with Iran dating back to the 1979 revolution - ranging from Iranian-sponsored terrorism on their territory to Iranian efforts to stir up restive local Shi'ite populations. Occasionally, there is a backlash. That was the case Tuesday in the Saudi-owned pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat, which ran a column attacking an Iranian foreign ministry official for predicting the demise of Arab regimes in the Gulf. The al-Hayat piece blasted Tehran for supporting Hamas and Hezbollah and attempting to export "the Khomeini revolution." But this is the exception: The usual modus operandi of the Saudis and their GCC colleagues is to make angry public denunciations of Israel while privately praying that the Zionists deal a blow to their Iranian tormentors.
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