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Hezbollah Smuggles Advanced Missile Systems into Lebanon

hezbollah missiles

Hezbollah missiles deployed in Lebanon

Both the Wall Street Journal (firewall) and N.Y. Times are reporting that Hezbollah has transferred some of its most advanced weaponry from warehouses inside Syria, where it’s been stored, and moved it into Lebanon.  Hezbollah has done so despite multiple Israeli air force sorties seeking to destroy the weaponry before it reached Lebanon, where it would be much closer to the frontlines with Israel.  This reporting takes the Israel security service’s point of view and describes this as an alarming escalation in the situation.  No doubt, from Israel’s point of view it is.  Israel knows, and even plans for a coming war with Hezbollah.  Therefore, any weapon the IDF can deny the militant group is one less weapon to kill Israelis.

But the reporting leaves out, and inexcusably so in my opinion, what a remarkable feat Hezbollah has achieved.  Even if you disagree with Hezbollah’s Islamist tenets as I do, it is simply objectively warranted to understand the resourcefulness and ingenuity this process has displayed.  Realizing that Israel would exhaust every possibility to destroy these missiles before they could reach a secure storage facility, Hezbollah took apart all of them piece by piece.  It then trucked them in tankers from Syria into Lebanon and after securing the parts, it reassembled them inside Lebanon.  With Israel all the while desperately trying to find and destroy them.  That’s an amazing feat, whether you like these guys or not.

Both articles also downplay a fact which they both report: it’s unknown how many complete weapons systems the militant group has succeeded in smuggling into Lebanon.  If they don’t have all the parts the weapons won’t work.  So they may have a few of these complete advanced systems available to them.  Or none.  No one is certain.  Yet Israeli intelligence trumpets this as if it’s an imminent threat to Israel’s existence.

You will find no quarrel with me at the destructive role Hezbollah is playing in Syria and even the distortion it has introduced into Lebanese politics by mixing its martial mission with a political one.  But unlike some others, we have to be candid and admit that there are butchers on all sides of the Syrian conflict.  Hezbollah has no monopoly on mayhem, I’m afraid.  Indeed, Lebanon itself is joining Syria in turning into a bloodbath, with tit for tat bombings and assassinations against Hezbollah/Iranian forces and their domestic enemies.

Returning to its military engineering prowess, I’ve reported here that both Hezbollah and Iran have devised clever hacks of the navigation systems of Israel’s drone fleet and almost single-handedly disabled it and threatened to turn it’s international market into dust.  Hezbollah also ambushed an Israeli special forces patrol inside Lebanon planting listening devices, part of an Israeli attempt to spy on Hezbollah communications.  The group has also broken up several major Israeli spy rings inside the country which included prominent army officers among the agents.

Further, the Times story linked above notes that American intelligence reported that Israel’s attack on a warehouse full of advanced Russian Yakhont missiles was not successful.  What this characterization omitted, was my report from an inside Israeli source that the Syrians and their Hezbollah allies had a spy among the FSA, which was supposed to mount a diversionary attack to distract government forces from the main attack against the warehouse.  The spy within the rebel forces warned Assad about the attack and he was able to move most of the munitions.  That’s the reason the assault failed.

I’m reluctantly forced to admit that there currently appears no way to remove Assad from the political equation.  If this civil war is to end, he will have to be part of it in some way.  In an even more direct way, Israel simply cannot remove Hezbollah from its relationship either with Syria or Lebanon.  In 2006, Israel’s generals trumpeted that they would rid the country of the Islamists for good.  But not only didn’t they, they had their asses whipped into the bargain.

So Israel can have another war or another ten wars with Hezbollah, just as it may and will with Hamas.  It will never win the ultimate victory.  Hezbollah, like the Israelis themselves, is a wily, durable enemy.  Or as this knowledgeable insider said:

“Hezbollah is pretty damn good,” said a senior U.S. official. “And they are patient.”

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Damien Flinter January 3, 2014, 3:04 AM

    Given what will replace Assad…not sure why you are sanguine about his ouster, Richard.
    And, with the $3bn Saudi funding of the Lebanese military, Israel may well be in bed with its own racist/sectarian Frankenstein .

    Afghanistan a warlord heroin farm, Iraq a sectarian bloodbath deepening by the day, Libya the biggest black market arms bazaar and recruit source feeding fundamentalist Wahhabi wedge-drives expanding south and west into Africa’s new scramblefest, the cordon tightening round Iran and the demonisation of Putin prior to the Moscow sweepstakes renewal before the door is kicked back open on China…..the globalisation of the ’90s Yugoslavia progresses apace. The ‘reconfiguration’ Arab Springs getting comfortably embedded from Egypt to infinity for full spectrum neoliberal totalitarian dictatorship of the militarised parasitic vandal corporatariat….the Pentagonian Express is thundering towards some Ragnarok bunker with primordial mushroom soup as the main course.
    Do I misread?

  • Disassemble a scud? January 3, 2014, 4:19 AM

    The NYTimes article specifically mentions Scud rockets. There is simply no way to disassemble them and then expect to be able to put them back together again. Certainly not if you expect it to work again. Maybe remove the rocket from the launcher, and then ship those two parts by different routes, but that would be the extent of it.

    The Yakhont is much smaller and therefore it’ll fit inside a large truck without too much difficulty. So I guess that’s do-able without any disassembly, though the really hard part is getting all the support vehicles into Lebanon. That’s probably where stripping things down and then reassembling them might work.

    And as for “antiaircraft weapons that are fired from the shoulder” well, gosh, just throw a blanket over those puppies and carry them over the border on foot….

    But, yeah, trying to stop those weapons from getting to Hezbollah was always akin to sticking a finger in the Dyke. A much better idea would have been to give Assad an incentive *not* to let them go, and that’s now much too much: he now owes Hezbollah – big time – and it is a simple truth that he doesn’t owe anyone else any favours whatsoever.

    Well, maybe Putin…

  • traducteur January 3, 2014, 5:59 AM

    Looks as though the ethnic cleansing of southern Lebanon and the diversion of all the water of the Litani River for the benefit of Jews only will have to wait.

  • Pip January 3, 2014, 7:17 AM

    [comment deleted–off topic]

  • pabelmont January 3, 2014, 8:03 AM

    “Israel [knows, and even] plans for a coming war with Hezbollah.”
    “Yet Israeli intelligence trumpets this as if it’s an imminent threat to Israel’s existence.”

    Generally, Israel starts these wars, not the Arabs, who are MUCH weaker. Israel likes to “mow the grass” and other horrible names for unwarranted attacks on neighbors. So what we have here — in this view — is Israel wishing to start yest another unwarranted war on a neighbor (here, Hezbollah) and complaining that its intended victim not only will not roll over and play dead but actually arms itself so as to prevent (or render more costly) Israel’s (planned, but unwarranted) attack.

    Clearly — to me, and on the view I’ve expressed here — Israel doesn’t want “peace” with neighbors but wishes to dominate them. The “peace treaty” with Egypt is similar, with the USA paying ransom to Egypt to keep Egypt inside the peace treaty. If Israel wished to live as a normal neighbor among normal neighbors, it would make peace, firsrt of all a fair peace with the Palestinians, and stop its “mowing the grass” and “price-tag” operations (that is, stop unwararanted attacks on the innocent neighbors).

    • Davey January 4, 2014, 12:14 PM

      That’s right — dominate is the only peace Israel will ever attempt. It is the only way Israelis can feel “safe.” They would not consider any actual settlement as they believe that the Pals are as slippery and disingenuous as they are and would not honor any agreement. Besides, they are not about to compromise on anything as they have all the power which is all that matters. Besides, a civil reckoning is inconceivable to a society raised on its supremacy and its right to other people’s land, separatism and exclusivity. A true reckoning is inconceivable because Israel is absolute military master in the region. This is all America’s doing. (Someday, it will be recognized that the greatest error of judgment of US policy — and there have been so many! — will have been the decision of succeeding administrations to allow Israel to become and remain nuclear. That self-justifying society will use them. Just a prediction.)

  • Oui January 4, 2014, 5:16 AM

    Perhaps greater relevance than recent death of Palestinian Ambassador in a hostile Prague:

    Arrested AQ Leader Abdullah Azzam Brigades Dies In Lebanese Jail!

  • Strelnikov January 8, 2014, 4:54 PM

    I’m sorry, but that photo looks fake. The launch vehicle is a WWII-surplus White M3 half-track, there looks to be no wiring running into the missiles to launch them, no launch controller, and there are no control surfaces on the missiles.

    I could buy these as home-made rockets, not advanced missiles.

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