President Bush said at the G-8 meeting in St. Petersburg that the administration planned to send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Middle East soon. President Bush’s comments to British Prime Minister Tony Blair were picked up by an open microphone during a photo opportunity.
If President Bush’s intent is for Secretary of State Rice to strong-arm Israel into a premature cease fire, we would encourage President Bush to postpone Secretary Rice’s trip.
Israel must be free to do whatever it takes to change the rules of the game in the region once and for all. A half-baked job of Israel defending itself against intensifying attacks from Hezbollah and Hamas would be an all around disaster.
The same holds true for the United Nations. A blue-helmet mission to the region at this moment would be counter-productive, reinforcing the impression that the U.N. was on-site to defend Hezbollah and Hamas before Israel could score a much-needed major strategic impact against enemies sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state.
At the forefront of those enemies are Hezbollah and Hamas. But Hezbollah and Hamas are merely surrogate terrorist organizations acting under instruction from Tehran. In a similar vein, Syria even today acts as a client state of Iran. Syria has yet to accept a full withdrawal from Lebanon, continuing to act as the “manager” assigned by Iran to give orders to Hezbollah in neighbor-state Lebanon.
Yesterday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki flew from Tehran to Damascus to have a private meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In the press conference at the end of the meeting, Mottaki predictably put the blame for the recent shooting war on Israel. He told the press:
Extensive attacks on Gaza Strip, detention of Palestinian members and members of parliament, destruction of residential areas and farmlands, taking the lives of innocent people including women and children on the one hand as well as attacks on various areas in Lebanon and smashing its economic infrastructures, bridges and killing people on the other hand show that the Zionist regime proceeded according to predetermined plans.
Those experienced in listening to over two decades of the Iranian regime’s rhetoric understand this statement for what it is – a blatant attempt to turn the blame on Israel instead of accepting responsibility for the provocative violence Tehran itself ordered Hezbollah and Hamas to initiate.
The unannounced but likely purpose of Mottaki’s trip was to deliver in-person Tehran’s most recent instructions for how Syria should manage Hezbollah in the next few critical days.
Hezbollah continues to receive some $250 million a year from Iran. After Hamas won the Palestinian Authority’s recent parliamentary election, Iran began funding Hamas with an initial grant of $50 million.
The Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, documented yesterday that Iran was directly involved in providing Hezbollah the missiles being used to attack Israel. According to the MEMRI report:
The Revolutionary Guards established 20 permanent missile bases within the strip [running along] the Israeli border. They also equipped Hezbollah with mobile bases [i.e., medium-sized trucks that can carry and launch rockets], 400 short- and medium-range pieces of artillery, [and] Aresh, Nuri and Hadid rockets. Last year, Hezbollah received a shipment of large ‘Uqab missiles with 333-millimeter warheads and an enormous supply of SAM7 shoulder-[fired] anti-aircraft missiles as well as C802 missiles, copied from Chinese missiles, two of which were used in the attack on the Israeli ship the day before yesterday.
The timing of the step-up in Hezbollah and Hamas rocket attacks is not accidental. Iran badly wanted to derail the G-8 meeting in St. Petersburg, turning attention away from Iran’s refusal to stop enriching uranium, a precondition of the now-rejected incentive package offered by the “Five plus 1” nations (the permanent Security Council members plus Germany). Iran intends to continue enriching uranium, proceeding with its secret weapons program to develop as fast as possible a homemade nuclear warhead that can be delivered atop Iran’s Shahab-3 missiles.
Israel cannot be expected to follow a Bush administration “Roadmap to Peace” if every time land is returned to the Palestinians, the “thank you” is a step up in rocket attacks from the very land just returned. This is what has happened in the Gaza and it is what would happen if the West Bank were returned to the Palestinians.
As long as President Ahmadinejad and ultra-conservative clerics currently controlling the regime remain in power in Iran, there will be no peace possible in the Middle East or in the world. If Israel is permitted today to complete the job of containing and disarming both Hezbollah and Hamas, an ultimate war with Iran might be prevented.
President Bush should not send Secretary Rice to the Middle East if the intent is to tie Israel’s hands once again.
The Bush administration and the U.S. public need to understand that the present bloody showdown between Israel and their sworn terrorist enemies does serve the most basic national security interests of the United States both in the region and right here at home. If Israel can succeed in battering and shattering Hezbollah, the long and pernicious extension of Iran, a severe blow can be delivered to Iran itself, the second component in President Bush’s metaphoric “Axis of Evil.”
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