Should we prepare for a third Lebanon war in the coming months?
Iran is smuggling weapons through Syria to re-arm Lebanese allies Hizballah, despite renewed efforts by United Nations peacekeepers and the Lebanese army to seal off the mountain borders with Syria in the wake of last summer’s war between the Shi’ite militia and Israel, according to reports by Saudi and Israeli intelligence sources that have been confirmed by western diplomats in Beirut.
Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv say that Hizballah replenished nearly half of its pre-war stockpiles of short-range missiles and small arms. But western diplomats in Beirut say these calculations under-estimate the weapons flow and that Hizballah has now filled its war chest with over 20,000 short-range missiles – a similar amount fo what they had at the start of the conflict, during which the group is believed to have fired over 3,000 rockets at Israel. “The Iranian pipeline through Syria was already working during the war,” despite constant Israeli bombing raids on the roads into Lebanon from Syria, this Beirut source said. Officially, Syria and Iran deny that they’re supplying weapons to Hizballah. As for the Shi’ite group itself, when asked about receiving a new shipment of arms from Syria and Iran, a spokesman told TIME, without elaborating, “We have more than enough weapons if Israel tries to attack us again.”
Of course, such “evidence” may also be used to justify an Israeli/US strike against Iran or further isolation of Syria. Though while US troops in Iraq are “helpless“, Iranian and Syrian help is more needed than ever. Is the Bush administration smart enough to understand this? (Hint: probably not.)