Iran Working as Strategic Partner with Hezbollah Against Israel
UNIFIL'S Mission Has Failed
Since Hezbollah last attacked Israel during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, a beefed-up UNIFIL's (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) mandate has been to restore peace to the border and assist the Lebanese Armed Forces in disarming Hezbollah. The mission has failed. Hezbollah has likely amassed over 100,000 rockets. It has also infiltrated the Lebanese Armed Forces, to the point wherein many ways it can no longer be reliably discerned where Hezbollah ends and the Lebanese Armed Forces begin.
By way of background, the U.S. designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization in 1995. The long bloody trail of Hezbollah's terrorism can be traced back to 1983. Hezbollah launched a suicide bomb attack against U.S and French military barracks in Beirut. The terror attacks resulted in the deaths of 241 American military personnel and 58 paratroopers. Hezbollah's jingoism against the U.S. did not end in Lebanon; its operative Ali Mussa Daqduq played a key role in murdering five U.S. soldiers in Iraq in 2007.
Recently, the Washington Post published details of U.S.-Israeli cooperation in the assassination of Hezbollah's terror mastermind, Imad Mughniyeh, in Damascus in February, 2008. The latest revelations cast light on the extent of ongoing behind the scenes cooperation against the common threat represented by Iran and Hezbollah. This campaign is a marathon, not a sprint, with achievements and setbacks, moments of greater intensity and periods of waiting.
Deterrence Is an Art
Deterrence, as Admiral Eliezer Marom, former commander of the Israeli Navy, said in an interview on Israeli Channel 1 News following the Har Dov attack, is not an exact science; it's an art. Israeli decision-makers have apparently decided to bring the current episode to a close with no further immediate escalation.
This decision was presumably not easily reached. Silence is not necessarily cost-free. With the Iranian ambition very clear, Israel needs to consider whether accepting Hezbollah's signal to the UNIFIL may mean that the organization and its backers will now feel emboldened to continue to regard the Golan as an "open" front, in the knowledge that Israel's responses, though kinetic, would be limited.
The broader picture, in any case, seems clear after the latest events. The eight years of relative quiet that followed the Second Lebanon War of 2006 are over. The northern border is back to being an active arena in the Israel-Islamist conflict.
Iran's Second Front Against Israel Should Not Be Ignored
Lastly, Iran's growing role in destabilizing Israel's borders should debunk any idea that President Hassan Rouhani is a moderate leader within the Middle East. The Iranian effort to open a "second front" against Israel in the Golan should be seen as part of a larger regional picture in which the Iranians are actively interfering in conflict areas throughout the Middle East -- in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank/Gaza, and now once again across Israel's northern border.