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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hezbollah's arsenal caught the West off guard?

According to the media and most experts, the sophistication and the power of the Hezbollah's arsenal has been a surprise for the West and the Israeli military. Few hours ago, a french military expert, Pierre Servent told TV Channel France 3 that is has been a surprise to see Hezbollah using 'long-range' missiles in addition to its "traditional" russian-made rockets 'Katyucha'.

The use of antiship cruise missiles like iranian-made C-802 showed two things: first that Hezbollah has militarized its strategy, second that countries like Iran, China and else certainly took part in the proliferation of weapons in this region that truly doesn't need it. Once again, the armament of Hezbollah shows that the so-called "non-proliferation policy" has been a failure for years and that's still the same countries which provide terrorists with armaments.

Media sources told Western intelligence had been surprised and that it didn't know Hezbollah had such weapons. Analysts here don't think so as arms-trafficking has grown in the region for years and that US Intelligence as Israeli intelligence monitored ongoing deliveries of armaments from tierce countries to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Furthermore, Syria could certainly have provided Hezbollah with armaments it bought from Iran, China and Russia. This may be an 'indirect' proliferation network that armed Hezbollah, but this proliferation still originates from the same countries which help Iran to build nuclear facilities or which help North Korea to continue its aggressive policy.

"The fact that Hezbollah used such sophisticated weapons against Israel has clearly been no surprise at all for intelligence officials" a source told ISRIA. A 2-minute OSINT investigation shows that there has been growing concern over such a proliferation for years and years. 'Recently', on January 13, 2005 (1 years and a half ago); The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported of Russian plans to sell a number of missile systems to Syria. Moscow allegedly renounced because of the ties between Damascus and Hezbollah. Yet it never really halted its armaments' deliveries to Syria.

On February 2005, the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies via its Moscow Defense Brief warned that Russia should pay increased attention to the possibility of real military threats as a consequence of Russian arms deliveries to Syria or other nations unfriendly to Israel. A 2001 report by Oksana Antonenko for the Middle East Review of International Affairs entitled Russia's Military Involvement in the Middle East showed there have been constant arms' deliveries to Iran (principally) and Syria from 1992 to 2000. "Syria is viewed as a priority customer for Russian military cooperation and arms sales in the Middle East and is thought to have the potential to become the third largest Russian arms customer (after China and India)" one can read in the report. Rocket launchers regularly are a big part of the deal.

More recently, on May 7, 2006, a Lebanese Druse Political Leader Walid Jumblatt (head of Lebanese Socialist Party) told Jerusalem Post there was no reason for the continued armament of Hizbullah (by Syria ...), because Israel was no longer in Lebanon (at that time)". According to James Philips for Human Events Online on July 14, 2006, "Iran provides the bulk of Hezbollah’s foreign support: arms, training, and money. Iranian Revolutionary Guards train Hezbollah terrorists and have provided them with sophisticated bombs and long range Katyusha rockets, such as the ones that detonated in Israel’s northern port of Haifa."

"Syria also has supported Hezbollah and permits Iran to use Syrian airfields to transport weapons, ammunition and equipment to its Lebanon-based allies." in 2003, Unclassified Estimates suggested that between 25 and 30 non-state groups (including Hizbullah) possess shoulder-fired SAMs (1). According to our sources, Syria has provided Hezbollah with several rockets it used since the beginning of the crisis, especially the 220-mm one that has been launched on a railway site in Haifa, Israel.

(1) Homeland Security: Protecting Airliners from Terrorist Missiles, Christopher Bolkcom, Bartholomew Elias, Andrew Feickert; CRS Report, Updated November 3, 2003
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