Monday, November 29, 2010

Lebanon and Israel's "Five-Pillar" Strategy against Iran

Some interesting comments made in a meeting on August 17th 2007, between Mossad Chief Meir Dagan and Under Secretary Burns. The context of this meeting is interesting. It is almost one year after the Israeli defeat in Lebanon and one year before the Hezbullah take-over in Beirut.

For those who have a memory, they will remember that in the year after the Israeli attack of 2006, there was an increasingly violent period of demonstrations, militia clashes and bombings in Lebanon as March 14 associated groups tried to counterbalance Hezbullah internally. The culmination of this was that in 2008, Hezbullah took over Beirut in about 6 hours, destroying the power of the 'Future' militias aligned to Saad al Hariri, and completely surrounding Walid Jumblatt's home, demanding the surrender of his entire weapons cache there. The Future television station was also shut down temporarily, and Saad al Hariri was not allowed to leave his home.

In this meeting a year earlier, Dagan describes then prime minister of Lebanon Siniora as a 'courageous man' and that "Hariri, Jumblatt and others" had personal and political reasons which would make them anti-Syrian. Most interestingly, Dagan said that the US and Israel are "on the edge of achieving something in Lebanon, and so cannot afford to drop their guard. What is necessary is finding the right way to support PM Siniora."

We see here that, in 2007, the US and Israel both believed that this internal counterbalance to Hezbullah that had been slowly building up might actually be able to pin the Islamic movement down. Of course we know that this did not happen, and today Saad Hariri, now the prime minister of Lebanon, is in Tehran, presenting his credentials. This narrative to what was happening is in stark contrast to the naive comments made by some commentators that somehow Hezbullah was to blame for the internal strife and growth of new militias in that country. The paranoia that they accuse Hezbullah of, often sarcastically, is in fact well placed.

Israel's Five Pillar Strategy against Iran

More interesting things in the meeting were regarding this Five Pillar strategy that Israel employs against Lebanon. Each to "bear fruit", according to Mr Dagan, in its own time.

The first pillar is with regards to the Political Approach. In this approach, Israel strongly supports further sanctions against Iran through the UN Security Council. This is independent to when Iran actually possesses nuclear capability, but it will bear fruit at some later stage and was useful to have. The second pillar concerning Covert Operations, was, with hindsight, a wise decision not to discuss at the meeting. Counterproliferation, Sanctions and Forced Regime Change were the other three pillars.

Particularly interesting was the comment made regarding ethnic minorities in Iran. As I had mentioned in a widely-criticised article on Islam Comment, ethnic minorities are extremely useful to both the US and Israel in undermining security in Iran and other countries. In this meeting, Dagan points out that, "more should be done to foment regime change in Iran, possibly with the support of student democracy movements, and ethnic groups (e.g., Azeris,Kurds, Baluchs) opposed to the ruling regime."

He also said that "more could be done to develop the identities of ethnic minorities in Iran."

This approach is aimed at weakening and dividing the state and, as a strategy, is one which is likely to have been employed on numerous occasions with many other opponents. In fact the example of Iraq comes to mind first and foremost. I am also pleased to note my initial assumptions, that the student led revolts of the "Green Revolution" following the 2009 Iranian elections were something to the advantage of the West and not for the Iranian people, have been confirmed. The mentality exposed in this high level meeting in Tel Aviv seems to demonstrate this fact, again, the naivety of some commentators and news agencies astounds me today as it did then. I intend to cross-reference a lot more documents with my posts surrounding key events, and will tag such posts with the Wikileak tag to make these easier to find at a later date.

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