2006-08-14

Morning Report: August 14, 2006

Taking stock. A cease-fire gives all sides time to assess the situation.

Tehran on Lebanon: That didn't go so well. Debka:
While the damage caused Israel’s military reputation tops Western assessments of the Lebanon war, DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report an entirely different perception taking hold in ruling circles in Tehran. After UN Security Council resolution 1701 calling for a truce was carried Friday, Aug. 11, the heads of the regime received two separate evaluations of the situation in Lebanon – one from Iran’s foreign ministry and one from its supreme national security council. Both were bleak: their compilers were concerned that Iran had been manipulatively robbed of its primary deterrent asset ahead of a probable nuclear confrontation with the United States and Israel. While the foreign ministry report highlighted the negative aspects of the UN resolution, the council’s document complained that Hizballah squandered thousands of rockets – either by firing them into Israel or having them destroyed by the Israeli air force. The writer of this report is furious over the waste of Iran’s most important military investment in Lebanon merely for the sake of a conflict with Israeli over two kidnapped soldiers. It took Iran two decades to build up Hizballah’s rocket inventory.

DEBKAfile’s sources estimate that Hizballah’s adventure wiped out most of the vast sum of $4-6 bn the Iranian treasury sunk into building its military strength. The organization was meant to be strong and effective enough to provide Iran with a formidable deterrent to Israel embarking on a military operation to destroy the Islamic regime’s nuclear infrastructure.

Hezbollah's defenses, rapidly enhanced after the 2000 Israeli pullout from Lebanon, included biological and chemical countermeasures, night vision equipment, and sophisticated electronics. Their pre-war inventory included some 13,000 rockets. But they only got to fire a few of the Khaibar-1 model, while about 100 were destroyed.
The long-range Zelzal-1 and Zelzal-2, designed for hitting Tel Aviv and the nuclear reactor at Dimona have been degraded even more. Iran sent over to Lebanon 50 of those missiles. The keys to the Zelzal stores stayed in the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers who were in command of Hizballah. Nasrallah and his officers had no access to these stores. But Tehran has learned that Israel was able to destroy most of the 22 Zelzal launchers provided.

And the bad news for Tehran doesn't end there:
The UN Security Council embodied in resolution 1701 a chapter requiring Hizballah to disarm – in the face of a stern warning issued by supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in person in the early days of the war. Revolutionary Guards commanders went so far as to boast: “No one alive is capable of disarming Hizballah.”

Oops. (Debka)

Ledeen: Not separate conflicts. Michael Ledeen: 'Israel cannot destroy Hezbollah by fighting in Lebanon alone, just as we cannot provide Iraq and Afghanistan with decent security by fighting only there. The destruction of Hezbollah requires regime change in Damascus. Security in Iraq and Afghanistan requires regime change in Damascus and Tehran. Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, and Afghanistan are not separate conflicts. They are battlefields in a regional war. ... Our most potent weapon against them remains the rage and courage of their own peoples. We must support those people, we must openly call and work for regime change in Syria and Iran. Heartbreakingly and foolishly, our failure to support revolution makes military action more and more likely. If we do not do the logical and sensible things, if we do not deploy the massive political weapons at our disposal, we will end by doing terrible things. Or, shrinking from the consequences of such action, we will suffer defeat, and the world will be plunged into a darkness the likes of which any civilized person must dread.' (Ledeen/NRO)

Netanyahu: "A period between wars." Jerusalem Post: 'Opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) told the Knesset that "unfortunately, there will be another round [in this war] because the government's just demands weren't met" by the cease-fire agreement that went into effect Monday morning. "The [kidnapped] soldiers weren't returned home, the Hizbullah was not disarmed … Right now, we are [merely] in an interim period between wars," Netanyahu warned. "And there is no one who will prevent our enemies from rearmed and preparing for the next round."' (JPost)

By the numbers. Israel's army estimates 530 enemy dead with 180 currently verified by name. Israel lost 52 civilians to 3,970 rocket attacks: 'Hizbullah terrorists attacked Israel with 3,970 rockets since they began their attack on the north on July 12, killing 52 civilians. Forty people are still being treated for very serious wounds, 50 suffered moderate injuries, 546 were lightly injured and 1,318 were treated for shock. A summary of the attacks shows that the Upper Galilee region of Kiryat Shmona suffered the brunt of the attacks with more than 1,000 rockets, and 808 fell on the coastal area of Nahariya. Tzfat was attacked with 471 Katyushas, and 176 exploded in or near Carmiel, 93 in the Haifa area and 181 in or near Tiberias, on the shores of the Kinneret Lake (Sea of Galilee).' (TIS, A7)

Let the fingers point and the heads roll. Jerusalem Post: 'One of the main questions any commission of inquiry will have to deal with is why it took so long for the ground operation in southern Lebanon to be launched. Another question has to do with the decision made on Friday by Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to order a massive sweep up to the Litani River: Why did they send the troops up to the Litani, knowing that in a few hours - as it happened - the United Nations Security Council would vote and approve a US and France-backed cease-fire resolution?' (JPost)

Briefly noted. Those missing Egyptian students have all been found, and none is considered a terrorism risk.

Commentary. No insights from me today. I'm taking a break.