(Communicated by The Intelligence and Terrorism Information
The objectives of Iranian and Syrian support
Iran and Syria, both members of the “axis of evil” and both under increasing pressure from the international community, continued in 2006 to view both Hizbullah and the Palestinian terrorist organizations as strategic assets and an important means for achieving their national goals.
A. Weakening the State of Israel by forming rifts in its society, by using terrorism originating in Palestinian Authority administered territories and Lebanon to damage its economy and by preventing sustained ceasefires in the campaign of terrorism being waged against Israel.
B. Strengthening the radical Iranian-Syrian axis, both in the Middle East and globally, by entrenching Iranian and Syrian influence in Lebanon, in the Palestinian Authority, and throughout the entire Arab world. The terrorist organizations are also perceived as means of strengthening Iran and Syria’s status vis-à-vis the United States and other Western countries.
C. Weakening pro-Western Arab regimes and rulers that are fundamentally hostile to Iran and Syria, such as Fouad Siniora’s government in Lebanon and Mahmoud Abbas in the PA administered territories. At the same time, Iran and Syria strive to strengthen radical Islamic powers in Lebanon, the PA-administered territories, and other Arab countries.
D. Ideologically, Iran considers Hizbullah an effective instrument for exporting Khomeini’s Islamic revolution, effectively serving Iran’s desire to achieve hegemony over the Middle East.
Support for Hizbullah
Because of such views and strategy, in recent years Iran and Syria have increased their assistance to Hizbullah’s efforts to establish an upgraded military infrastructure. That infrastructure has turned Hizbullah from an organization with terrorist and guerilla warfare capabilities into an organization with military land capabilities approaching those of a country.
Iran and Syria’s assistance before the second Lebanon war was reflected in the massive supply of arms and ammunition, including large quantities of long-range rockets capable of reaching central Israel and advanced anti-tank missiles, funding and political.
In Iran and Syria’s view, the improved military infrastructure built up by Hizbullah in south Lebanon is meant to give the organization defensive survivability as well as an offensive option against Israel to be activated in due course. The large rocket arsenal provided to Hizbullah by Iran and Syria is designed to allow the organization to inflict sustained damage to population centers deep inside Israeli territory. According to Israel Intelligence assessments, Iran and Syria regard Hizbullah’s use of the offensive option in the second Lebanon war as premature, since it was supposed to be activated in accordance with Iran and Syria’s strategic considerations.
In the aftermath of the war in June 2006, Iran and Syria helped Hizbullah rebuild the military and civilian infrastructures hit by the IDF. Such assistance is reflected in the provision of arms and ammunition to Hizbullah, smuggled into Lebanon in violation of Security Council Resolution 1701, and financially assisting the predominantly Shi’ite Lebanese whose homes and property were damaged during the war. On the Lebanese internal political scene, Iran and Syria support Hizbullah in the organization’s attempts to topple Fouad Siniora’s pro-Western government. These attempts make use of a variety of subversive tactics, such as mass demonstrations and sit-down strikes that have already led to violent clashes in the country.
Support for the Palestinian terrorist organizations
As in previous years, in 2006 Iran and Syria continued to provide support and assistance to the Palestinian terrorist organizations, especially the Hamas movement and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas external leadership, headed by Khaled Mashaal, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad leadership headed by Ramadan Abdallah Shalah are both located in Damascus. Bashar Assad’s regime allows those headquarters to direct the activities of their organizations in the PA administered territories, including terrorist activity against Israel.
In the military sphere, Iranian and Syrian aid to the Palestinian terrorist organizations continued to follow patterns witnessed in previous years. In 2006, they transferred tens of millions of dollars to fund the terrorist organizations and their activities, to train terrorist operatives from the PA-administered territories and to help in the acquisition of arms and ammunition and smuggle them into the PA administered territories and Arab countries. Iran is the main sponsor of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
In the political sphere, Iran and Syria were visibly satisfied to see
Hamas win the legislative council elections and establish a government, anticipating that that would assist them in building up their influence in the Palestinian Authority and hoping to take advantage of the new situation to promote their own interests. Both countries increased their activity significantly and noticeably in that area during 2006. The Iranians promised massive financial aid to Hamas, and Syria increased the frequency of widely publicized coordination meetings and briefings with senior Hamas representatives. Simultaneously, the Syrian regime continues its behind-the scenes involvement in the formation of both internal and external Hamas policy.