You say that like it’s a bad thing

Says Scott: Why should outsiders participate in saving face for Israel and in solidifying what will no doubt be perceived in the Middle East as a Hezbollah victory?

Well, if a situation emerges where Israel can save face and Hezbollah is simultaneously able to claim victory, we’d be fools not to seize this opportunity. Put it another way, if both parties can convince at least themselves that they are coming away from the battlefield with their interests advanced, they are likely to stick to the agreement.

Think about it – if the Israelis, as seems possible, settle for a token retreat and an international force whilst giving up the Shebaa farms, thus terminating Hezbollah’s claim to legitimacy, and Hezbollah can meanwhile be satisfied with the feeling that they have beaten off an Israeli onslaught, the northern dimension of the Israel/Palestine conflict is not far at all from solution. There is nothing left to argue about, except disarmament (or something akin to it).

It’s unfortunate that both sides will probably claim they won it by force of arms, but it can’t be helped. In fact, Hezbollah’s extension of its self-declared insecurity zone with bigger rockets and successful delaying action on the frontier probably had more to do with it than the Israeli freakout blitz.

The only problem is the fish, of course. Time for a ceasefire, before the maniacs talking about “doing this for the whole Sunni world” get a hearing in Israel.

80 thoughts on “You say that like it’s a bad thing

  1. Alex,

    Are you going to deny that any Iranian soldiers were in Lebanon when the latest attack by Hizballah and counterattack by Israel began?

    If so, you have a problem.

    Some of the bodies of the dead Iranian soldiers have been shipped back to Iran.

  2. >And, if they’re all IRGC,

    I nowhere said they’re “all” IRGC. Please take care not to misquote me. I said that 1500 men is a significant number of fighters, against a maximum 10,000 active fighters total.

    Charly, presuming your figures are accurate, your argument is persuasive, but can you tell us the source for those figures? Specifically, of $700 million budget, and of 400-800,000 members of Hezbollah?

  3. And so Alex, you really do think that Hezbollah is free from Iranian influence on its decision-making?

    Not that you’re necessarily wrong–I won’t stoop to ad hominem argument and call you a “maniac”–but since I’ve offered my evidence for believing that Iran does influence them, from the website, what is the source for your evidence that Iran doesn’t influence them? Can you define for me, exactly how much funding or manpower Iran has given them, or if you think it’s none at all? If so, rather than stretch the argument out further (since this is, after all, a tangent anyway), why not provide us the evidence?

  4. Besides a small army they have a few hospitals, a TV channel, i don’t know how many schools, news papers etc. $700 million sounds like a reasonable number. Can’t exactly point were i read that number but it is a number that makes sense.

    Number of votes, the fact that many people use Hezbollah schools and hospitals.
    400-800.000 is the number of people who can be associated with Hezbollah. Also hospitals are free for members so that alone would raise the number way above 10k IMHO.

  5. Hm. Well considering that they’ve been around 24 years or more, at $25-50 million a year from Iran, more from Syria, and $3.5 million a year (per the same article) from those “charities,” they might well have accumulated that much almost entirely from the Iranian and Syrian contribution (the cumulative inflows from a 3.5 million-a-year charity adding up to maybe 60 or 70 million total–what I am reliably informed is “not exactly peanuts but not live and death” for them ;)), depending on what exactly their expenses are. Those 800 rockets they shot during the first three days of this conflict did cost a lot of money, so their expenses may well outstrip their contributions from Iran and Syria. You may be right. But that 700 million dollar annual budget, for all I know, may be just the budget for last year, and may include money that was saved and invested from two decades of Iranian and Syrian funding. I need a source for this information, and I need to know for _how long_ they’ve been spending 700 million a year.

    I still hope to hear from Alex, who also seems very sure that Iran doesn’t provide Hezbollah enough funds or manpower as to be a primary power broker with them. Before any more incredulity is pretended here, or any more shouts of “maniacs!”, I need to hear exact figures from a credible source. If there are none, then I’d like to hear someone say “okay, maybe it was unjustified to say that.” Again, I don’t claim that Movie Guy is completely right about everything either, but I still don’t see much concrete, conclusive support for dismissing everything he says.

  6. Attempting to answer my own question, I went in search of backup. Juan Cole offers that there are over a million political adherents to Hezbollah, in addition to the 10,000 militia:

    My question is, though, that considering that Israel’s war is ostensibly against the military infrastructure of Hezbollah only (though in practice, as mentioned, this is having a horrifying cost in terms of innocent lives lost on both sides), to what extent are these political and military segments of Hezbollah different? It seems clear that, if the figures of several hundred thousand political adherents of Hezbollah are accurate, then these adherents certainly don’t act at Iran’s beck and call. However, it still seems quite readily conceivable to me that the small core of actual militia fighters, the 10,000 do act at Iran’s behest, at least some of the time. Especially considering that’s article suggests that this is so, though not always. Also especially because of the level of funding they receive from Iran, unless it is shown that this truly is a small enough percentage of their revenues as to translate to small influence.

  7. Detlef:Well, I was out of town for the last three days and in my opinion neither of us owes any apology.Last I saw tonight Isreal will continue the offensive-they may or may not destroy hezbollah.In no case should any American troops-nor in my opinion any Euro troops-interfere.However, if the EU objects to Isreali actions in Lebanon and wants an international force to stop the violence don’t just complain that the US won’t make it all better-intervene with armed soldiers and make peace happen.America will cheer.I repeat:If Europe objects to the course of events-deploy troops to change it or stop whining.Got it? I reject your assertions regarding Iraq, and I certainly don’t care what newspapers wrote back then.Iraq has had several elections since 2003 and US policy was to let Iraqis keep an AK-47 for personal defence.If the US was as unpopular as I expect you believe the elections would have turned out different and those AKs would have killed far more Americans.Instead most US dead are killed by roadside bombs.Remember-there are 29 million or so Iraqis and only 130 thousand US troops.The US invaded Iraq to remove the military threat of Saddam Hussein -every thing else was secondary.Mr. Hussein will never again threaten the US-got it? Do you think American troops invaded Germany so we would be greeted by flower girls? Nope-we did this to destroy the Nazi regime that threatened us.I don’t get your statement about war cheerleaders.Your point seems to be that the EU would never be so crazy as to send its soldiers somewhere that might result in danger to them-like Iraq.Well, just how is that different from cowardice? I’ve frequently read about the EUs superpower ambitions-yet never backed by superpower action.Well, now is your chance.Send you men to Lebanon to stop the war-or shut the hell up.Now Daniel:You have the current US president confused with God.The US is not responsible for the state of the world-period.I am not a fan of comic books at all and anyone with a clue is aware that war has settled (“solved”) almost all historical questions that have been settled.For example have you heard of World War 2 which solved the fate of Nazi Germany quite thoroughly? If you haven’t I recommend that you leave the internet and find a good history book that will teach you about the subject on which you are posting.For starters consider that it only takes one side to make war-what new approach would change this?.Your ignorance astounds me-how can anyone alive today be so stupid? I don’t agree with Detlef but I can see where he’s coming from- you are just a fool.

  8. Saddam Hussein was absolutely no threat to America in 2002, and everyone in the world knew it. Come on, already.

    Further article on Hezbollah and its leadership. The article quotes a Hilal Khashan, “an expert on Hezbollah who teaches political studies at American University of Beirut,” who says:

    In 1989, Nasrallah visited Iran and Syria and successfully negotiated an agreement that led to a Hezbollah-Damascus-Tehran alliance, Khashan says. Iranian support for Hezbollah is so entrenched that Tehran appoints Hezbollah’s military commanders, who, when they retire, go to live in Iran, he says.

    (Emphasis added.)

  9. Katyusha are very cheap (the Palestinian splinters fired many of them in the late 1970’s) and they only shot a few dozen longer range missiles. I guess a few million in total but to be honnest i haven’t a clue what the price of those (or any other) weapons are.

    That 700 million is mostly their civilian budget. They only have something like 300-600 full-time soldiers.

    I seriously doubt that they publish their financial statement with the local chamber of commerce but 700 million sound to me like a reasonable number when you consider that they often named the second largest employer of Lebanon

  10. The removal of Saddam is a real “improvement”. “Sadly” Iraq will likely fall into a civil war but otherwise it will be ruled by Shiites who aren’t as liberal as Hezbollah and have more money than the Swiss. I seriously doubt that they will be buying American bonds with that money. Russian nuclear tech for purely “peacefull” uses is my guess.

  11. Charly,

    That’s pretty funny. Thanks, you made my day!

    I am going to forward that to some friends, including a few serving in Iraq. They will get a kick out of the “Russian nuclear tech for purely ‘peaceful’ uses” remark. ha.

    Yeah, and I’m selling land on Mars…

  12. Are you going to deny that any Iranian soldiers were in Lebanon when the latest attack by Hizballah and counterattack by Israel began?

    If so, you have a problem.

    Some of the bodies of the dead Iranian soldiers have been shipped back to Iran.

    Yes, I am going to deny it. Even the Israelis don’t claim that. What is your reference for dead Iranian soldiers being shipped to Iran?

  13. Brief investigation shows it’s a story on WorldNutDaily, sourced to “Lebanese political sources”. No circumstances, dates, units, names or places are given. I do not believe WND has meaningful contacts in Lebanon. The only other support is the unsupported word of the Israeli government, sourced to an unnamed “security official” who got the designation of the missile involved and its manufacturer wrong.

    Even Fox News felt it necessary to point out that nobody has ever seen an Iranian soldier in Lebanon in 15 years, and I don’t think there was any independent confirmation even then. (Think about it – for Iranian Revolutionary Guards to have turned up in Beirut in 1983, as claimed, they would have had to transit either a) Iraq, a totalitarian state at war with Iran, b) Beirut International Airport, controlled in 1983 by the United States Marine Corps and a Lebanese Forces-Phalangist government that considered them race enemies, or c) transit or avoid Iraqi airspace to reach Syria and then cross Christian Phalangist and Druze enemy territory to reach their goal.)

    The Israeli government, or more specifically the Right of the Israeli political spectrum, has long been keen on state-sponsorship theories for good political reasons. If Dr Evil is behind it all, then neither you yourself nor the Palestinians or the Lebanese bear any responsibility, and you don’t have to talk to them.

  14. Bekaa valley is right next to Syria so saying that they couldn’t get there is probably not correct. Also flying from Iran to Syria by Turkey isn’t exactly flying around the world. I think that Iran even admitted at the time that they had troops in Lebanon.

    But that was than.

    I seriously doubt that you can hide hundereds of Iranians, as WND claims, amid Lebanese without everybody knowning that they are there as they look differently.

  15. Alex, give me a break. Do you really think that such Iranian soldiers planning on fomenting or artificially aiding an insurgency would have shown up at the front door and announced, “yes sir! I’m an Iranian soldier all right!” in transit? Or that Iran couldn’t transport such soldiers in secret? The Iranian government, if it desired to (and $25-50 million of support each year is to me evidence of quite a bit of desire), could certainly render secret their shipments of troops, especially considering that their clandestine activities are among the most subtle and sophisticated in the Middle East.

    And it’s not just the Israelis (never mind, every other source I’ve cited, and about a hundred others I didn’t cite) who find Iranian influence on Hezbollah credible. From Time magazine, 7/31/2006:

    “Among Israelis, it is generally assumed that Hizballah had Iran’s encouragement when it kidnapped the soldiers. And that view isn’t just held in Jerusalem. ‘There isn’t the slightest degree of ambiguity or doubt as to Iran’s role in this,’ says a French foreign-affairs official. ‘How much coincidence could there be in Hizballah kidnapping the Israeli soldiers on the same date that ministers met in Paris to decide what measures to take on the Iranian nuclear issue? None, in our opinion.'”

    Again, not that this conclusively proves that it’s the case, but that list of “maniacs” among us is growing awfully long: me, Movie Guy, Time Magazine,, the San Francisco Chronicle… All maniacs, according to Alex, and all part of an Israeli plot to blame Iran for Hezbollah. May I ask: if Iran, which has _no_ missiles that can reach Israel from its soil, really found it so impossible for Iranian soldiers to reach Israel, and didn’t have any significant hand in Hezbollah, then why the flying F— would Israel care to feel threatened by Iran???

    Your contention that Iran couldn’t transport any soldiers to Lebanon in 1983 is, to me, laughable. That there is no evidence of Iranian soldiers dying in service of Hezbollah may be true. But I’ve provided quite a number of sources, already, all of which are in complete agreement (even Charly acknowledged this) that Iran is contributing tens of millions of dollars annually to Hezbollah. What are you trying to sell me? That all of those figures are part of a vast Israeli plot? Please. Why on earth would Israel implicate Iran, if Iran had no way to threaten it?

  16. If Dr Evil is behind it all, then neither you yourself nor the Palestinians or the Lebanese bear any responsibility, and you don’t have to talk to them.

    And this is no explanation, either. If Iran really turned out not to be a big supporter of Hezbollah, and if Israel said so, then what is this huge change that you think would happen in Israel’s dealings with Hezbollah? I’d really like to know.

    Besides which, it seems to me that (since you mention the Palestinians) Israel deals with the Palestinians as the Palestinians. I’ve heard them mention Iran’s ties to Hezbollah often, but I’ve never heard the Palestinians referred to as Iranian or Syrian puppets in any way.

    Sorry to seem contemptuous, but considering the lack of logic and factual evidence you’ve presented us with so far, I really would not open up a dialogue on the Middle East by yelling “maniacs!” at anyone who disagrees with you. That’s an awfully arrogant putdown, unless you’re backing it up with a very, very coherent, well-supported argument. I maintain that you owe someone an apology for saying that.

  17. Besides which, and I hope I’m not putting too much heat on your comments, despite what I consider as an insulting overture in “maniacs,” if you’re considering it impossible that Iran secretly transported troops to Lebanon because of the impacted transit points you mention, have you forgotten a little something called the Ocean? The thing that connects Shi’ite Lebanon’s fifty or so miles of coast to Iran’s Persian Gulf coast? I may be missing something, but that seems a very likely transit point to me, should the other ways have been blocked. Nonetheless, even if we come to concede the manpower question (though I’m not sure we shouldn’t leave it open), there is still the little matter of all of that Money.

    So far, Alex’s flat statement that we’re maniacs for even considering that it equates to Iranian influence over Hezbollah, and Charly’s opinion, remain the only voices claiming that Iran couldn’t have influenced Hezbollah’s recent decision. I’m still waiting for hard evidence, though I don’t discount Charly’s opinion, that I’m a maniac for believing the sources I mentioned.

  18. The port of Beirut was in the Christian sector. The Israeli navy, as now, was off the coast. And would Turkey – Turkey – have permitted Iranian aircraft on this mission to overfly their eastern border? Over the highly sensitive, highly militarised Kurdish areas? Under the nose of the NATO radar line? Right over the USAF base at Incirlik? Nonsense.

    I await actual source material as opposed to unnamed, partial, and utterly unaccountable briefers. All the media reports you cite are based on either anonymous, normally Israeli government briefers or mere assertion. Everyone “knows” the Iranians are there, but nobody’s seen them.

    You may not have realised this, but Iranians would be rather conspicious in Lebanon – or for that matter Syria – because they speak Persian.

    As recently as two weeks ago, the Israeli government was blaming Syria for the capture of Cpl. Gideon Shalit in Gaza. State sponsorship is an absurd theory of terrorism, because it assumes that the terrorists don’t exist; rather than acting to maintain their political position in Lebanon by forcing an exchange of prisoners, the Hezbollah raid on the northern border was carried out in pursuit of Dr Evil’s fell designs, and therefore can only be understood as the first shot in Teh Conspiracy. Suddenly, the traditional remedy of force is relevant again-nobody seriously thinks the IDF (or any other army) can decisively suppress a guerrilla force with strong popular support, but if they are The Advanced Guard of Irano-Syrian Fascism, then it begins to look like an ideal target for armoured manoeuvre warfare again.

  19. Well leaving out the fact that you still have neither backed up with sources of your own your assertion about Iran’s influence on Hezbollah and the fact that you think I’m a maniac for suggesting that they have some, nor even made clear what that assertion is (are you saying only that there have never been Iranian soldiers fighting with Hezbollah? Or do you also claim that the money is illusory as well? Or, even further, do you claim that the missiles Iran has sold them are illusory too?), I somehow am not so sure that you aren’t the conspiracy theorist, instead of me. Also, in case _you_ hadn’t thought of this, among whom would you think these Iranian Hezbollah support soldiers would be so conspicuous, with their Persian tongue? Among Charly’s 7-800,000 fervent Hezbollah supporters? You’re right! Why, I’m surprised they didn’t call the police and report those suspicious Iranians! Though if I’m right, such Iranians would only have come bearing millions of dollars in support, and arms, not to mention their own soldiering capacity, to Hezbollah. Yeah, I’m sure they’d be marked out as very conspicuous, by the hundreds of thousands of Hezbollah sympathizers in the area to which they’re going, WHOM THEY’RE AIDING.

    Tell me:

    1. Presuming that the Katyusha rockets Hezbollah has fired, in their thousands, and the longer-range Iranian-made Thunder rockets which have also been fired, came from Iran, what on _Earth_ makes you think they couldn’t smuggle men too?

    2. If they didn’t come from Iran, then where on earth do you, in your rational, sober, conspiracy-theory-free assessment of this as a sinister Israeli plot, think that they came from? The Israelis themselves? I mean, especially if Israel and the US and Turkey had everything so well locked down that no _human_ could get in or out?

    I’m pretty much giving up hope on hearing you admit that anything you say is illogical, even though I’ve shown pretty convincingly that a lot of it is. I thought it was only Bush supporters who behaved that way, but I’m happy to know I’m wrong.

  20. From the global black market in arms. After all, the port and airport of Beirut have been wide open ever since the end of the civil war. It’s one of the major regional centres of trade, at least when the Israeli air force isn’t bombing it, and not a locale well-known for probity in commerce. One may recall that – to give one example – $300 million in cash was flown out of Iraq to Beirut in extremely dubious circumstances in order to buy arms outside the UN-supervised budget.

    I see no reason why rockets must by definition come from Iran. Out of the types involved, the vast majority – possibly the totality – are Soviet-designed artillery rockets or copies of them. With one exception, all the rockets actually fired into Israel have been either Katyushas or BM-21 Grads, the later marks of which boast 35 kilometres’ range. Some 50 nations worldwide possess or have possessed stockpiles of these, several of which also produced them. The longer-ranged rocket that missed Afula the other day was originally described as a Fajr-5, an Iranian design, but this was later revised to (essentially) “something else” – probably a bigger (FROG?) Russian design.

    The missile, inevitably characterised as Iranian, that struck an Israeli ship back at the beginning was described as a C-802. This is a Chinese design supplied to, yes, Iran. However, Iraq also held a stockpile of similar Chinese cruise missiles (HY-2 Seersucker, aka Silkworm). Can you guarantee they are all accounted for?

  21. Mysticusque, are you sure that Iran doesn’t have rockets that can reach israel because i think they do have them. What else are the Shabah 3, Fajr 3 en Ghadr 110

  22. Thanks Charly, global security has Fajr-3’s range as 45 kilometers, and the longest-range rockets of Iran at 140 to 200 kilometers:

    It may well be that Iran has or will soon have rockets capable of reaching Israel. Global security also reported that Iranian rocket scientists have been training at Russian facilities. This, I think, is the reason that the Russian Hut and other rockets have been matching speed records previously held by the Russians themselves.


    >From the global black market in arms. After all, the port and airport of Beirut have been wide open ever since the end of the civil war.

    Then if all approaches to Lebanon were hermetically sealed prior to the end of the civil war, how exactly did the arms to fight that civil war appear?

    Agreed that Iran is one of only dozens of countries that have the Soviet-designed Katyusha, but if it’s some other country, then wouldn’t that country be implicated by Israel instead? Once again, and I’d like you to answer this finally instead of dodging it, if Iran were no threat to Israel, why on _earth_ would they indict Iran as supporting Hezbollah? They plainly have no problem bucking world opinion when they feel it’s a security issue, so that obviously isn’t it.

    Again, what you’re arguing makes no sense. You’re saying that no Iranian men nor rockets could have been smuggled in to Lebanon before the end of the civil war, because the countryside and coast were hermetically sealed. Absolutely no smuggling was possible. And that the rockets brought in later were all brought in from other places than Iran?

    I know you’re in love with this idea that Iran has nothing to do with Hezbollah, and love is blind and makes you say that those who criticize that love are maniacs, but please. You’re stretching our credulity awfully far. But at least your argument is clarified: along with never having sent a man to the Lebanon, Iran, and presumably Syria, since Israel also indicts them as a state sponsor of Hezbollah, have now apparently never sent missiles there either? Great–now all you have to do is declare that “money can come from anywhere, so the $50 million per year is an illusion too. There. Iran has absolutely no connection to Hezbollah.”

    Well the one and only point upon which I must insist that you concede is this: CONSIDERING the HUGE bulk of articles and expert opinions that I’ve read that assert exactly the opposite (some of which I’ve cited here), and that your and Charly’s opinions are the only such opinions I’ve EVER read (unless you can also point to some huge bulk of documentation supporting your view), will you not allow that it is hardly “maniacal” to imagine that Iran has influence over Hezbollah, and that you should not say that without more cause next time?

  23. Oh, besides which, if there was this huge conspiracy to implicate Iran, in the propaganda-conscious Middle East (that is, unless you think the only propaganda is Israeli), then where are all the frenzied denials from Hezbollah or Iran, regarding their connection? Surely they wouldn’t have kept mum?

    Is there any convincing you that you’re simply wrong about this?

  24. Iran has the nasty habit to use about three names for any weaponsystem. Fajr is used for atleast three completely different weapons

    Katyusha, which is just the russian generic name for a stalin organ, can be bought on the open market. And the rocket itself isn’t especially hard to make. The USSR has given many away (that is how the leftist palestians got them). It is also no secret that Iran sells them and that fact is in itself as wrong as the US selling weapons before thuis war started

  25. Hezbollah propaganda doesn’t reach the West. They for instance claim that they took the Israeli soldiers prison on (undisputed) Lebanese soil which would change the whole dynamics of the conflict. If you realise that Israel did do incursions before the war into lebanon than that claim is even a real possibility.

  26. Well, I’m pretty sure that’s the first Finnish porno comments spam I’ve seen. Anyway.

    Then if all approaches to Lebanon were hermetically sealed prior to the end of the civil war, how exactly did the arms to fight that civil war appear?

    Strawman. Insofar as it’s worth even replying, each faction in the civil war got their arms imports through the part of Lebanon they controlled. Hezbollah didn’t control a major port of entry until after the Israeli withdrawal. Possible sources would include their fellow Shia militia Amal, who did have access to the sea and might not have been averse to cutting them in, the Lebanese army’s stockpiles, and arms diverted from the Israeli-backed militias in south Lebanon. And, no doubt, some of them came from *enter demon state here*.

    Agreed that Iran is one of only dozens of countries that have the Soviet-designed Katyusha, but if it’s some other country, then wouldn’t that country be implicated by Israel instead? Because “that country” is irrelevant. Who would you indict – the Soviet Union of 1950-odd for making them in the first place? Random post-Soviet or African state for having a civil war and losing control of the stockpile? Unknown arms dealer for buying them?

    Once again, and I’d like you to answer this finally instead of dodging it, if Iran were no threat to Israel, why on _earth_ would they indict Iran as supporting Hezbollah?

    Because, as pointed out above, there are political advantages to such a course. It offers an easy answer. It suits the Israeli government to portray itself as struggling against an Iranian-directed world conspiracy against Western civilisation. Politicians frequently lie when it furthers their interests to do so.

    Oh, besides which, if there was this huge conspiracy to implicate Iran, in the propaganda-conscious Middle East (that is, unless you think the only propaganda is Israeli), then where are all the frenzied denials from Hezbollah or Iran, regarding their connection? Surely they wouldn’t have kept mum?

    They haven’t “kept mum”. They have denied it. Your point is?

    Is there any convincing you that you’re simply wrong about this?

    Yes. One man, one rocket, or one dollar would do.

  27. Well Alex, I do have to give it to you. Considering that you’re the first man I’ve _ever_ spoken to who has claimed that Iran has almost nothing to do with Hizbollah, you do put your balls out there when you slap all those who disagree with the moniker “maniac.” If I were moderating a discussion about the Middle East’s problems, I would begin instead with a measured tone of hearing each person out respectfully. I have to admit that it seemed, and still seems, an uncalled-for slap in the face for a pretty mild and mostly well-accepted assertion. I hope that I didn’t return the favor with more heat than light. In any case, it looks like you’re not allowing that I may not be crazy for claiming that Iran has funded, armed, and manned Hezbollah. You’re correct–it looks as if we’re not seeing eye-to-eye on this issue, and aren’t going to. I’ve spoken my peace, so I’ll leave the thread at this time, and you may conclude on my sanity as you wish. You’re right to think I’m a maniac, of course, but not because of my views on Iran.

    In any case, more sources have weighed in on the matter. You’ll be happy to know that, although they broadly agree with me on the question, the Financial Times do agree with you that Iran has officially denied their involvement in Hezbollah’s actions.

    “Iran is an important player in the Lebanon crisis. Officials in Tehran deny any direct involvement in the conflict. But in Beirut, government officials see Hizbollah’s July 12 capture of two Israeli soldiers–the event that sparked the Israeli offensive–as linked to Iran’s attempts to underline its regional power and divert attention away from the dispute with the west over its nuclear programme.

    […] A protracted conflict could widen into a regional war, more directly drawing in Iran and Syria–the two states that support Hizbollah.”

    (“Risks rise for Iran as conflict continues,” Gareth Smyth, Financial Times (US), Friday August 4, 2006, p. 3)

    I should say again that I don’t think this escalation on Israel’s part was a good idea, most especially because of the loss of civilian life in Lebanon (not to mention Israel, as Hezbollah has shot more than 2000 missiles back in reprisal). Nor by any means do I want this conflict to widen to include Iran. I believe that would be a disaster, first for similar humanitarian concerns, and secondly even in terms of the US or Israel achieving any of its goals of stability and harmony in the region.

    As I mentioned to begin with, I primarily blame Britain and Eisenhower’s deposing of Prime Minister Mosaddeq of Iran, 55 years ago, for the mess we’re in now. We got rid of the best hope for a progressive Iran, so that he wouldn’t nationalize the oil industry. We worshipped the dollar and the oil barrel over representative government.

    However, I continue to believe that Iran funded, armed and manned Hezbollah (though for Alex, this is delusional propaganda perpetrated by Time Magazine, the Financial Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Economist, and too many other organs to mention). I also believe that, with the thousands of rockets they’ve shot over the last month, Hezbollah is a threat to Israel (and 80% of Israelis polled agree), and would be more of one if more towns were in range of more of their rockets. Before this round of fighting began, there were at least 19 rocket attacks on Israel by Hezbollah in the last 5 or 6 years alone. Unless this too is propaganda, there is a growing certainty that yes, bigger, longer-range rockets are being given Hezbollah, which will soon (some say already) reach Tel Aviv. Though I wish they hadn’t done what they’ve been doing, what is Israel to do about this?

    Thank you for your time, and keep Yorkshire green.

  28. MG: Are you going to deny that any Iranian soldiers were in Lebanon when the latest attack by Hizballah and counterattack by Israel began?

    If so, you have a problem.

    Some of the bodies of the dead Iranian soldiers have been shipped back to Iran.

    Alex: Yes, I am going to deny it. Even the Israelis don’t claim that. What is your reference for dead Iranian soldiers being shipped to Iran?

    My original references came from a few Middle East newspapers. Anyone could Google up the info. One paper was from Iran.

    The latest information, of course, came directly from the Israel government. They have the bodies and the identity paperwork of some Iranian guard soldiers killed later on.

    Do you intend to deny this anymore?

    If so, on what basis of fact?

  29. So Iranians have their paperwork with them when they are fighting for the Hez. Sounds incompetent to me. I don’t think the Hez is that incompetent.

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