Over the last week, pundits have made a strong case that the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon was intentionally instigated by Iran. The Iranian government hopes to win big political advantages from the current conflict, which it views not just in regional terms, but as part of its larger political war against the United States and its allies. By playing its own allies (Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria) like pawns in a chess game, Iran hopes to avoid direct involvement, and at the same time enhance its reputation as the dominant power in the Middle-East, and counter continuing pressure from the U.S. against its nuclear ambitions (notice that within a week debates at the UN shifted from the question of imposing sanctions against Iran to imposing sanctions against Israel). As Heritage Foundation’s James Phillips noted after Hezbollah militia crossed the border and kidnapped two more Israeli soldiers last week:
With this provocative attack, Hezbollah in one stroke has enhanced its prestige in the Arab world, diverted the world’s attention from a growing crisis over Iran’s nuclear program, and escalated pressure on Israel...The attack also highlights the role that Hezbollah’s patron Iran plays in escalating Middle East violence, and it strengthens the case for sanctions against Iran.
And as former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out in an interview earlier this week, Iran’s willingness to supply Hezbollah with funds, guns and long-range missiles ought to heighten concerns about an Iran with nuclear weapons capabilities.
For more on the Iran-Hezbollah-Syria connection in the current conflict, see this longer article from Newsweek about “How Iran is wielding its influence to wage a stealthy war against Israel and America.”