Archive for the 'Iran-Hezbollah Relations' Category

“Israel calls for more attention to intercepted Iranian arms shipment”

“Israel calls for more attention to intercepted Iranian arms shipment”
November 5-7, 2009
     Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged world leaders to focus on Israel’s interception of a shipment reportedly carrying 36 containers of weapons from Iran headed to Hezbollah (see video here) (United Press International). The unprecedented seizure of 320 tons of arms on the Francop could be a “propaganda coup” for Israel as it faces pressure over the Goldstone report, which was endorsed by the UN General Assembly (Al Jazeera). Israel says that undisclosed cargo certificates had been stamped at an Iranian port of origin, but Syria, Iran and Hezbollah have denied the claims (BBC).
     Amos Harel argues that the “lukewarm” international response to the news of the seizure indicates that Israel’s security concerns are being sidelined by the US in favor of negotiations with Iran (Haaretz). Spiegel reports that there was “unease” among German officials as the Francop belongs to a German shipping company, although it is leased to a Cyprus-based firm. Another German-owned ship was recently intercepted with a smaller cache of arms [previously covered here] in an “embarrassing” affair for Germany (Spiegel).
United Press International | Al Jazeera | BBC | Haaretz | Spiegel

“Germany ’embarrassed’ over Iranian arms shipments to Syria”

“Germany ’embarrassed’ over Iranian arms shipments to Syria”
October 12-14, 2009
     Spiegel reports that US soldiers discovered containers of ammunition on a German ship traveling from Iran to Syria in what one unnamed German diplomat calls an “embarrassing affair” for Berlin. The US claims the shipment violated UNSC Resolution 1747 forbidding all arms shipments into and out of Iran, and investigators reportedly believe the ammunition was headed to Hezbollah or the Syrian army. Spiegel describes the incident as “potentially damaging to trans-Atlantic relations” (Spiegel). Berlin has often been criticized for its strong trade ties with Tehran [previously covered here and here].
     Amos Harel quotes an unnamed senior Israeli military source who says weapons are being smuggled to Hezbollah on a weekly basis in a system in which “Iran pays, Syria smuggles and Hezbollah receives.” The source cites a lack of international pressure on Syria to break off ties with Iran or cease its smuggling activities. Harel writes that Hezbollah’s arms buildup is part of an ongoing “secret war” between the West, Egypt and Israel against Iran and its allies (Haarez).
Spiegel | Haaretz

“Domestic turmoil could weaken Tehran’s hold on Hezbollah, Hamas”

“Domestic turmoil could weaken Tehran’s hold on Hezbollah, Hamas”
July 20 & 21, 2009
     Ben Holland and Massoud A. Derhally write that domestic turmoil and economic troubles could distract Iran’s leaders from coordinating support for Palestinian group Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Some analysts believe this could further isolate Tehran by encouraging Syria, which helps Tehran arm Hezbollah, to move closer to the US. Saudi Arabia and Egypt could gain influence over Hamas and pressure the group toward forming a unity Palestinian government with Fatah (Bloomberg). Juan Cole counters that Tehran is likely to continue supporting Hamas and Hezbollah in order to secure much-needed prestige, adding that the two groups could “thrive” without foreign support or obtain funds from Iran’s rivals in the region (Informed Comment).
     In a report featuring an interview with Sheikh Naim Qassem, Hezbollah’s second-in-command, Nicholas Blanford suggests that Hezbollah’s future could depend on the continued rein of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Blanford details the reliance of Hezbollah, which was established in 1982 with Iranian help, on Khamenei for spiritual and political leadership as well as for an estimated “hundreds of millions of dollars” in funds annually for its social welfare and military activities. Blanford adds that Hezbollah may choose not to retaliate on behalf of Tehran in the event of a full-scale attack on Iran (Christian Science Monitor).
Bloomberg | Informed Comment | Christian Science Monitor

“Syrian-Saudi summit, US ‘power play’ efforts aim to isolate Iran”

“Syrian-Saudi summit, US ‘power play’ efforts aim to isolate Iran”
June 24-July 2, 2009
     Nicholas Kimbrell writes that a possible summit between Syrian, Saudi Arabian and Lebanon to be held in Damascus, as well as a likely meeting between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Saudi King Abdullah on July 16, could signal stability in Lebanon and help unite Arab states against Iran. According to Joshua Landis, the US is working to reestablish a “triangular entente” between Riyadh, Damascus and Beirut that was damaged by the previous US administration’s efforts to turn Beirut against Damascus. Landis believes that Damascus hopes to play a strong role in the US’ Middle East peace strategy (Daily Star).
     David Ignatius writes that while the domestic turmoil in Iran has lowered the chances for international negotiations, the US instead has a “power play” opportunity to “peel away” Tehran’s regional allies, including Hamas in Palestine (Washington Post). Iran relies on Syria to arm and fund Hamas as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon, and US strategists hope domestic instability will hurt Tehran’s ability to support these groups and maintain its partnership with Damascus (Wall Street Journal).
     In a sharp critique of Western media coverage of the protests in Iran, M. K. Bhadrakumar counters that Tehran’s power is at its “peak”, emphasizing that regional stability will require engaging Iran and its allies (Khaleej Times). Iran and Syria recently held a meeting to increase bilateral economic ties. The two states have previously agreed to establish a joint bank in Damascus, and Iranian officials stated that industry projects worth $3 billion were planned for the future (Tehran Times).
Daily Star | Washington Post | Wall Street Journal | Khaleej Times | Tehran Times

Related posts:
“Potential Saudi-Syrian-Lebanese grand bargain could isolate Iran”
“Efforts to draw Syria from Iran remain difficult”

“Potential Saudi-Syrian-Lebanese grand bargain could isolate Iran”

“Potential Saudi-Syrian-Lebanese grand bargain could isolate Iran”
June 24 & 25, 2009
     The US will dispatch an ambassador to Syria for the first time since 2005 in a move widely viewed as an effort to isolate Iran. Michael Collins Dunn writes that the move may be part of a “Saudi-Syrian-Lebanese grand bargain” in which Damascus would recognize US- and Saudi-backed Saad al-Hariri’s nomination as Prime Minister of Lebanon and Riyadh would mend relations with Damascus, thereby further decreasing Tehran’s influence in Damascus. Hariri is also working to mend relations with opposition group Hezbollah, which is allied with Damascus and Tehran (Middle East Institute). Tariq Alhomayed writes that Damascus may have already decided to move away from Tehran, citing comments by officials that Syria would welcome Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah while also pursuing both cooperation with the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon and indirect peace talks with Israel (Asharq Alawsat).
Middle East Institute | Asharq Alawsat