Riot police use tear gas against protesters during a demonstration, in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza, near the U.S. embassy in Aukar, a northern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023. File Photo- AP
Lebanese Hezbollah is prepping for escalating hostilities against Israel as the latter continues its military action against Hamas in Gaza in the wake of the October 7 dastardly surprise attack on its territory by the Palestinian terror organisation.
It is public knowledge that Hezbollah are Iran backed. But, Iran is not just the provider of Hezbollah, but is actually planning and coordinating the Hamas-Hezbollah military resistance to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).
In essence, Israel is fighting Iran. Hezbollah and Houthi are Iran’s cat’s paws, its proxies to hurt Israel, without bringing the war to its own lands.
According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), “Iran and LH (Lebanese Hezbollah) have been creating the expectation in the information environment that Nasrallah (Hezbollah chief who will be issuing a public address today for the first time after Israel-Hamas war broke out) will announce some kind of escalation, which could include Hezbollah increasing its rate of attacks or using more advanced military systems against Israel.
LH previously warned that it would get involved in the war if Israel conducts ground operations into the Gaza Strip.” All the tell-tale signs of Iran’s proxy war on Israel become evident with a light scratch of the information landscape.
Esmail Qa’ani or Ghaani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force of the IRGC, is on the ground in Lebanon, coordinating the attacks of Hezbollah and Hamas on IDF. According to several media reports, Ghaani set foot in Beirut the very next day of the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7. He stayed in Lebanon up until October 16, when he left to report to Khamenei, but returned on October 20.
Since then, Ghaani has stayed put in Lebanon. He has been plotting and streamlining what has come to be known as the “Unity of Fronts” approach of the Hezbollah, which entails the coming together of all those who are fighting Israel. Early, in the year, Hezbollah chief Seyed Nasrallah had warned Israel’s political establishment “not to bet on separating the fronts”.
This is also a clear indication that the Hezbollah were actually coordinating with the Hamas and the October 7 attack had been in planning for a long time with several actors playing their part. It was only in time—after the IDF launched its counteroffensive—that they all came out in the open.
All along, Iran had been planning the contours of a broader conflict with Israel. Iran, anyway, has made no bones about its adulation for the October 7 attack. Its top generals pride themselves in having equipped and trained these extremist forces, collectively called ‘axis of resistance’. “From stones and arrows to drones and missiles” is what the Iranian establishment sees itself as having achieved when it comes to the fighting capabilities of the Palestinian terrorists.
According to reports, the Quds Force commander has been the primary go-between Palestinian-Hamas leaders, on the one hand, and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In his attempts to coordinate a joint attack on Israel, Ghaani has been operating under the aegis of the Joint Operating Chamber—a sort of command and control—bringing together on the same page all anti-Israel forces.
According to UK-based Amwaj.media that cited sources who spoke to it on the condition of anonymity, “Ghaani’s sessions specifically addressed mounting concerns about the Joe Biden administration’s actions, including “unlimited” economic, military, political, and security support for Israel’s campaign to “eradicate Hamas.”
At this point it is pertinent to put Ghaani’s role in perspective of history. He succeeded Qassem Soleimani, the man who used the Quds Force to export terror all across West Asia. Consequently, Soleimani was taken out by the US in June 2020 by a strike at the Baghdad airport.
“There is total coordination at every level among all the heads of the resistance axis,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed al-Bukhaiti told Iranian media on Tuesday.
All in all, the latest Hamas-powered Iranian plot against Israel is, arguably, has given Tehran the strongest and heaviest leverage in the region. It has finally succeeded in launching a full-fledged war against Israel with all the deniability, if it wants to use it, since these are all non-State actors.
From Houthis to Hamas and Hezbollah, the axis of resistance is the long arm of the Islamic Republic. Iran has been using them to fashion regional geopolitics, including managing the US.
Meanwhile, a look at the messaging of the Palestinian militia too indicates the possibility of a broadening of the conflict. According to ISW observation, “Unspecified Hamas sources informed the London-based al Quds al Arabi outlet that Hamas expects Nasrallah to announce LH’s participation in the war.
The sources said Hamas also wants LH to allow Palestinian groups within Lebanon to fight Israel, as LH controls the border. Hamas has previously messaged that LH is working at all military and political levels in the war. The al Quds Brigades separately released a statement on November 2 praising LH’s combat abilities.
Moreover, Russia’s Wagner group is preparing to supply the advanced SA-22, also known as the Pantsir-S1, air defence missile system to Hezbollah following recent clashes between the Lebanese terror group and Israel. The US Intelligence has received information indicating the development, the New York Post reported, adding that American officials are currently monitoring discussions between the Wagner mercenary group and Lebanon’s Hamas-supporting militia regarding the potential delivery of the system.
The give-and-take between Russia and Iran has been going on for a long time, most notably since the Ukraine war broke out. While Iran has supplied Russia with Shahed drones, also passing on production capabilities, Russia in turn has delivered advance surveillance software and cyber weapons, promising to give Su-35 too. Safely assumed, atleast the first two would be used by the axis of resistance groups in expanding the Israel-Hamas war.
Another indication that Iran is intent on using Hezbollah to expand the war on Israel is that the latter has been increasingly deploying forces along borders with Israel in Lebanon and Syria since the Israel-Hamas war started.
“CTP-ISW has monitored LH redistribute its forces across the Levant for the possibility that the war in Israel will expand into a regional conflict fought on multiple fronts. LH and the IRGC Quds Force have attempted to build up their force presence in Syria and Lebanon to this end. LH immediately transferred special forces and medical teams to the borders with Israel.
Hundreds of LH militants in the Radwan Unit, which is a special unit focused on infiltrating Israeli territory, mobilized and arrived in Syria on October 8 to spread out along the border with Israel. LH deployed forces from eastern Syria to southwestern Syria and Lebanon several times in the past few weeks,” ISW observed.
According to ISW, “IDF spokesperson for Arab Media Avichay Adraee said on November 2 that the Iranian-backed, Syria-based Imam al Hussein Brigade arrived in Lebanon in recent weeks to assist LH in fighting Israel.
The militia has already engaged with the IDF in recent weeks along the Lebanese border. The militia has been preparing and gathering capabilities to threaten US forces in Syria and Israel, according to a document obtained by Newsweek about the Imam Hossein Division in July 2023.”
Published on: November 03, 2023 15:47:17 IST