Lebanon is under unprecedented economic and social pressure, paying the price for Hezbollah’s military capability that causes a threat to “Israel”. The options offered by those (US, EU and “Israel”) effectively participating in cornering Lebanon -notwithstanding decades of domestic corruption and mismanagement – are limited to two: either disarm Hezbollah or push Lebanon toward a failed state and civil war. However, the “Axis of the Resistance” has other options: Iran has responded to the request of Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah by regularly sending to Lebanon food supplies and medicine. It is now sending oil tankers, which are expected to reach the country in the coming weeks via the Syrian port of Tartous. Iran is rushing to support one of its strongest allies in the “Axis of the Resistance”, Hezbollah, which is suffering severe domestic pressure, as are the entire Resistance Axis members in their respective countries. Hezbollah’s supporters of all persuasions are affected by the acute socio-economic crisis. But will Hezbollah succeed in overcoming the inevitable result of the current long-term crisis? How serious are the challenges?
In one of his private meetings, Sayed Nasrallah said: “Israel considered that Hezbollah’s military capability constituted a “vexing danger” at the first years of its existence. The level of danger moved up to “challenge” in 2000 when “Israel” withdrew from Lebanon, to the “serious menace” level after the 2006 war, and to “existential danger” after the wars in Syria and Iraq.”
In line with what the Secretary-General of Hezbollah believes, it is common knowledge that “Israel” possesses nuclear weapons. Therefore, no other power in the Middle East can be considered an “existential threat” to “Israel”. However, according to the Israeli military leadership, Hezbollah possesses accurate missiles carrying hundreds of kilograms of explosives each. Thus, Hezbollah needs only ten missiles – not hundreds – to hit 6 electric stations and 4 water desalination plants over the entire geography to render life impossible for a vast number of Israelis. The Israeli leadership stated that there is no need to count the precision missiles that could hit any oil platform, ship or harbour and destroy any airport control tower in any future war.
Consequently, there will be not many Israelis willing to stay, and it is conceivable to believe that a considerable number of Israelis would leave. This scenario constitutes an existential threat to “Israel”, indeed. In this case, as the military command says, “Israel” will never be able to coexist with such an existential threat looming over its head generated from the other side of the Lebanese border. Hezbollah possesses hundreds of precision missiles spread over a wide area in Lebanon, Syria, and mainly along the fortified eastern mountainside that offer ideal protection for these missiles. So what are “Israel’s” options?
Following the failure to subdue Hezbollah in 2006 in the 3rd war, the victory of the “Axis of Resistance” in the Syrian conflict, the prevention of the division of Iraq and the fall of Yemen under Saudi Arabia’s control, the area of influence of the Resistance Axis expanded, as well as its theatre of operations. Consequently, the danger to “Israel”, to the US’s goals and hegemony in West Asia, significantly increased.
The nuclear dossier is not that far away from the threat the “Axis of the Resistance” is confronted with. By increasing its nuclear capability, Iran forced President Joe Biden to put the nuclear negotiation at the top of its agenda during (former) President Hassan Rouhani’s mandate. Whatever has been said about the possibility of future progress in the nuclear talks in Vienna, lifting sanctions on Iran – while Iraq is labouring under heavy financial debt, Syria is subjected to a severe economic blockade, and Lebanon faces a becoming degraded state -seems unrealistic to the US.
To the west and “Israel”, releasing Iran’s frozen funds – which exceed $110 billion – at a time of maximum financial pressure and heavy sanctions, is not logical. Moreover, allowing Iran to sell and export its oil and lifting the maximum pressure means that all the previous US efforts to curb Iran’s will and progress are due to fail just when the results of these sanctions are turning in favour of the US in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
Consequently, maintaining economic pressure on the “Axis of Resistance” has become a US necessity and strategy. With this in mind, the US failed to comply with the nuclear agreement, to improve the leverage of the US negotiator and impose its conditions over Iran to include, above all, its relationship with its allies and the maintenance of hundreds of sanctions in place.
With the arrival of President Ibrahim Raisi to power and his plans to give little time for the nuclear negotiation, the US sees itself faced with two very bitter choices: either allowing Iran to become a nuclear power or removing all sanctions so as to persuade Iran to delay its entire nuclear capability. Both decisions are impossible choices and inconvenient for the US administration. Thus, the US needs to hit Iran’s allies without negotiating with Tehran, because it refuses to include it – as well as Iran’s missile program – in any nuclear talks.
Suppose the maximum pressure on Lebanon fails to weaken Hezbollah. In that case, Washington needs to evaluate future steps to choose between the nuclear threat or the “Axis of the Resistance” threat to “Israel”. And if the US opts for the 2015 nuclear agreement –which is unlikely – then “the Axis of Resistance” will experience a strong revival, recovering from the extreme US pressure. Whatever America’s choice is, it has become more than evident that Iran will eventually become a nuclear power and offer more than adequate support to its allies to keep them strong enough to face whatever challenges.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah cannot provide and has no intention of replacing the services provided by the state. Nevertheless, it is involved in the food supply through “al-Sajjad” cards delivered to families needing to buy food at a sharply reduced price, which raised the number from 150 000 to 200 000. It is supporting thousands of families who have reached the level of extreme poverty. Moreover, Hezbollah brought medication from Iran (more than 500 types) to cover some of the country’s needs when pharmacies are closing their doors and lacking essential medical supplies.
Furthermore, in the coming weeks, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah have agreed on delivering Iranian oil to Lebanon. Hezbollah will receive the gasoline from the supply to its forces and for covering its daily movements. Hospitals are at the top of the list of those expected to receive the Iranian oil distributed by Hezbollah to prevent their shutting down. Many hospitals closed more than half of their departments. Other medical facilities transferred their patients to hospitals that still have fuel to generate electricity for the next few days. In various parts of Lebanon, hospitals are asking many patients to leave due to the lack of diesel fuel for electricity. The American University of Beirut Medical Centre stopped ventilators and other lifesaving medical devices for the lack of fuel oil.
Also, Hezbollah is expected to deliver Iranian oil to the owners of tens of thousands of private electric generators. The lack of electricity in the country boosted the presence of thousands of privately-owned generators who, for decades, offer their paid services to compensate for the lack of electricity. These are expected to benefit from the oil delivered by Hezbollah to secure electric power supply for people. The shortage of diesel fuel for the owners of generators reached a critical degree in the current hot summer, raising the level of discontent among the population.
Also, diesel fuel will be provided to some municipalities to secure waste removal from the streets for fear of the spread of disease. Al-Amanah Company is also expected to distribute the Iranian oil and diesel to dozens of stations approved by it and other local gasoline stations spread throughout the Lebanese territory.
But Hezbollah will not satisfy everyone in the country and is not able to prevent internal deterioration within the Shia society (-the majority of Shia stand with Hezbollah, but there are others in the Amal movement under the control of Speaker Nabih Berri and not Hezbollah) in the first place and among its allies in the second place. The social decline is at a peak, and Iran’s support is insufficient unless Iran fully achieves its own recovery – if sanctions are fully lifted – and its domestic economy recovers. As far as it concerns Iran, the consent to its allies is mandatory because the “Axis of the Resistance” is united and all share the same vocation.
However, it is not in Iran’s capability to take on the entire burden of Syria and Lebanon’s economy. Iran supported Syria financially throughout the decade of war but is in no position to finance all the needs of the state. Also, Hezbollah started as a popular resistance force against the Israeli occupation, intending to impose deterrence and protect the state from Israeli violations and ambitions. It has been heavily involved in social support to the deprived Shia sect and managed to cover many infrastructure and service holes left by the incapability of the state. But the challenge faced in the last couple of years is beyond Hezbollah’s competencies and probably beyond the means of the state itself.
It should be borne in mind, though, that the flow of the Iranian oil into Lebanon carries with it several potential risks:
First: The risk of an Israeli strike on the supply lines. This will require Hezbollah to strike back “Israel” to maintain the balance of terror and deterrence equation. The tension in the military situation between “Israel” and Hezbollah will reach its climax without going to an all-out war because “Israel” prefers “campaigns between wars” to control the damage that may result from the confrontation. However, if “Israel” strikes the Iranian oil tankers or other countries try to stop the oil from reaching Lebanon, Iran would reply and it is not expected to stop sending its tankers to Lebanon.
Second: The supply route passes through areas not controlled by Hezbollah. What will the other anti-Hezbollah groups do? Will Hezbollah find a solution to convince the (hostile) Druze, Sunni and Christians spread along its supply road to avoid intercepting its trucks, or would it be forced to face groups and be dragged into an internal battle? How will Hezbollah guarantee the cohesion of its areas from the Beqaa to the southern suburbs of Beirut and even to the South of Lebanon so that its environment would be safe from the sectarian incitement the US manipulates and drags the country toward it?
There is no doubt that Lebanon is heading toward the dissolution of the state in a fast-paced manner. This will lead to the security forces’ weakness in general and push each sect or party to provide the necessary support to the membership of its society. Lebanon is expected to live again in the 1980s era when social services were reduced, waste spread in the streets, health and education levels declined, security forces were inefficient and hopeless, and warlords were emerging out of it.
From a specific aspect, the US-Israeli blockade is relatively in the interests of Hezbollah because it receives its financial support in foreign currency. Hezbollah is a regular and coherent organisation, and it will increase its revenue from the sharp devaluation of the local currency, the selling of medicine, oil and food. Hezbollah is expected to sell gasoline and diesel at prices relatively lower than the market price. Furthermore, it is also expected to allow other areas in Lebanon to have access to all the reached products. That will permit Hezbollah to expose greedy Lebanese merchants who monopolise and stockpile medicines and gasoline to starve the market and increase prices. These Lebanese merchants will be forced to sell their goods if these are no longer a rarity in the market. The goods are currently sold on the black market at prices unaffordable to the majority of the inhabitants.
What Lebanon is suffering from is the result of decades of corruption conducted by the US friends who held the political power in the country. The downgrading of Lebanon is primarily due to the US and Israeli interventions and influence in this country: It has lost the name “Switzerland of the East” forever. The disadvantage for Hezbollah will be the security chaos, the fragmentation of the security forces and their inability to impose their authority, and the spread of poverty to hit all walks of life. It is also expected to see the country suffer different sabotage acts, bribes, further corruption- and to become a fertile platform for the Israeli intelligence to operate in. A possible and potential scenario will force Hezbollah to “clean up” the roads to ensure the continuity of its supplies, link all Shia areas together and impose “self-security” to reduce their vulnerability.
Time’s arrow cannot be reversed, and Lebanon will not return to what it was before, not for the next ten years at least. There is a possibility to create Lebanese cantons with different warlords without engaging in a civil war. Each Lebanese party would end up arming its group to support its people and area, not to engage in a battle with other parties, but to defend itself.
The collapse is the master of the situation. The US has prevented Lebanon from benefiting from Chinese and Russian offers to rebuild the country and stop it from deteriorating further. Moreover, the US forbad Europe and the oil-rich Middle Eastern countries from helping Lebanon in this crisis as they used to in the past. After all, Lebanon needs 3 to 4 billion dollars to stand on its feet and regain some of its strength after halting subsidies on various items that gobble up its cash resources.
But the challenge remains for the “Axis of Resistance” members, struggling to survive and resist the US hegemony and confront the US projects to dominate West Asia. Unless the “Axis of Resistance” members take the initiative and move from a defensive to an offensive position and impose new equations that prevent starvation of the population, this pressure will remain and even increase with time. However, supposing the US pressure is maintained, and the “Axis of the Resistance” adopts only survival mode: In that case, Lebanon’s people and the country’s stability will pay an increasingly heavy price, both now and in the years to come.
News / Persian Gulf US should rejoin Iran deal, decrease ‘militaristic footprint’ in Middle East, says senator Friday, 13 August 2021 6:48 AM [ Last Update: Friday, 13 August 2021 6:53 AM ] US Senator Chris Murphy speaks during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nomination of Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be the United States Ambassador to the […]US Senator Chris Murphy says Washington should deprioritize hostility toward Iran, cut down its military presence in the Middle East, and urge Saudi Arabia to “come to terms” with Hezbollah in Lebanon. — BIG BROTHER in the 21. Century
A China-linked cyber-espionage group has targeted Israeli organizations and government institutions in a campaign that began in January 2019.
The attacks were detailed by cybersecurity firm Mandiant, the state-sponsored hackers used false flags in attempts to disguise themselves as Iran-linked threat actors.
Mandiant experts tracked the group as UNC215, its TTPs overlaps the China-linked APT27 cyberespionage group, but they have no sufficient evidence to say the the two groups are the same
“In early 2019, Mandiant began identifying and responding to intrusions in the Middle East by Chinese espionage group UNC215. These intrusions exploited the Microsoft SharePoint vulnerability CVE-2019-0604 to install web shells and FOCUSFJORD payloads at targets in the Middle East and Central Asia. There are targeting and high level technique overlaps with between UNC215 and APT27, but we do not have sufficient evidence to say that the same actor is responsible for both sets of activity.” reads the report published by Mandiant. “APT27 has not been seen since 2015, and UNC215 is targeting many of the regions that APT27 previously focused on; however, we have not seen direct connection or shared tools, so we are only able to assess this link with low confidence.”
The UNC215 group exploited typically a flaw in Microsoft SharePoint, tracked as CVE-2019-0604, to compromise vulnerable installs.
Once gained initial access to the target infrastructure, the attackers performed an extensive internal network reconnaissance and harvested credentials to conduct additional malicious activities. Experts reported that the attackers also used a non-public network scanner named WHEATSCAN along with custom malware such as FOCUSFJORD web shell and HYPERBRO to spy on internal systems and maintain persistence within the target organizations.
The group was very sophisticated and spent a significant effort to fly under the radar, such as removing malware artifacts. The attackers also use to insert in the artifacts foreign language strings as false flags.
“The use of Farsi strings, filepaths containing /Iran/, and web shells publicly associated with Iranian APT groups may have been intended to mislead analysts and suggest an attribution to Iran. Notably, in 2019 the government of Iran accused APT27 of attacking its government networks and released a detection and removal tool for HYPERBRO malware.” continues the report.
In some attacks, UNC215 also used an Iranian hacking tool that was leaked on Telegram in 2019.
The interest of Chinese groups in the Israeli ecosystem is not surprising, Chinese companies have invested billions of dollars into Israeli technology startups.
Chinese organizations are also working on important construction projects in Israel such as the railway between Eilat and Ashdod, a private port at Ashdod, and the port of Haifa.
“The activity detailed in this post demonstrates China’s consistent strategic interest in the Middle East. This cyber espionage activity is happening against the backdrop of China’s multi-billion-dollar investments related to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its interest in Israeli’s robust technology sector.” concludes the report. “China has conducted numerous intrusion campaigns along the BRI route to monitor potential obstructions—political, economic, and security—and we anticipate that UNC215 will continue targeting governments and organizations involved in these critical infrastructure projects in Israel and the broader Middle East in the near- and mid-term.”
It is far from inconceivable that Israel would employ its nuclear arsenal. After all, for what other reason does it have ninety nuclear weapons?
The main result of the meeting between Presidents Putin and Biden in Geneva on June 16 was the joint statement that “we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” This welcome recognition that nuclear war would probably destroy the world is especially relevant now, because August sees the 76th anniversary of the first — and so far the last — use of nuclear weapons in war. On 6 August 1945 a U.S. atomic bomb exploded over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing some 70,000 people. On August 9 another bomb destroyed Nagasaki city, causing about 40,000 deaths. Japan surrendered on August 15, thereby ending a world war that resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people, mainly civilians. Estimates vary from 35 to 60 million, but whatever the number, the war was a major catastrophe — but not as great as the cataclysm that would befall the world if nuclear weapons are ever again employed.
While many of us may be confident that the U.S. and Russia will not make use of nuclear weapons against each other, even in the event of major confrontation, that sanguinity cannot extend to other situations, and it is notable that there are four nations that refuse to abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which the UN describes as “a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.”
The nuclear-armed nations that refuse to adhere to the NPT are North Korea (which signed but then withdrew), India, Israel and Pakistan. Of these, only Israel denies having nuclear weapons and it is notable that neither the U.S. State Department nor the CIA makes mention of Israel’s nuclear arsenal, programme or capabilities in any of their public material.
The State Department writes effusively that “Israel is a great partner to the United States, and Israel has no greater friend than the United States. Americans and Israelis are united by our shared commitment to democracy, economic prosperity, and regional security. The unbreakable bond between our two countries has never been stronger.” The CIA, whose Israel Factbook was updated on July 20, states that “the U.S. is by far the leading supplier of arms to Israel” which “has a broad defence industrial base that can develop, produce, support, and sustain a wide variety of weapons systems for both domestic use and export, particularly armoured vehicles, unmanned aerial systems, air defence, and guided missiles.”
Washington sees no evil and hears no evil where Israel is concerned, and when Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met Israel’s National Security Advisor, Dr Eyal Hulata and Senior Foreign Policy Advisor Shimrit Meir on August 3 she reiterated U.S. policy and made yet more Arab enemies by emphasising the “U.S. government’s unwavering support for Israel’s security.” Which presumably includes support for its nuclear weapons’ programme.
In February the Times of Israel carried an Associated Press report that “a secretive Israeli nuclear facility, supposedly at the centre of the nation’s undeclared atomic weapons program, is undergoing what appears to be its biggest construction project in decades.” There was much international speculation concerning the clandestine development, which was detected through satellite imagery, but nothing consequential was revealed.
The 2021 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) records that “Israel has a long-standing policy of not commenting on its nuclear arsenal” and estimates it has ninety warheads of which about 30 “are estimated to be gravity bombs for delivery by F16 aircraft.” According to the Times of Israel, the IAF now operates 27 F-35 multi-role strike aircraft, with a total of 50 to be in service by 2024, and Defence World reported that “In a dozen photos published by the F-35 Joint Program Office, the U.S.AF stealth fighter can be seen testing its ability to deploy the latest iteration of the B61-12 thermonuclear gravity bomb. The weapon, with a maximum explosive yield of 50 kilotons, is small enough to fit inside the F-35’s internal bomb bay.”
U.S. support is part of a longtime assistance programme which can be expected to continue under whatever government is in power in Jerusalem/Tel Aviv, because in June, after the election of Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, President Biden “expressed his firm intent to deepen cooperation between the United States and Israel on the many challenges and opportunities facing the region”, declaring that “the United States remains unwavering in its support for Israel’s security.”
It is hardly coincidental that both Israel and the U.S. are energetically opposed to Iran and are determined that its government be overthrown and replaced by something along the lines of the corrupt regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who ruled as a U.S. puppet until his ousting by an equally autocratic Islamic theocracy. To this end, the administrations in Washington and Jerusalem are endeavouring to make life for ordinary Iranians as difficult and miserable as possible, with one of their targets being Iran’s nascent and inconsequential nuclear power programme.
As the BBC reports, in 2015 Iran reached a deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with the U.S., UK, France, China, Russia and Germany that saw it limit its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief. This was going well until the unstable Trump abrogated the arrangement and imposed further sanctions. Iran, understandably, remains intent on developing nuclear power, but the U.S. and Israel affect to believe that this is a road to speedy production of nuclear weapons.
Accordingly, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz declared that “Iran has violated all of the guidelines set in the JCPOA [which Trump rendered void] and is only around 10 weeks away from acquiring weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon,” which was utter nonsense but has the value of indicating where the new Israeli regime is heading.
Israel and the U.S. and the UK have blamed Iran for an attack on a tanker off the Oman coast on July 29, with Gantz claiming he has “hard evidence” of Iranian responsibility, thus proving that “the Iranian regime is threatening us and sparking a regional arms race… Iran is a global and regional problem and an Israeli challenge. We need to continue to develop our abilities to cope with multiple fronts, for this is the future.”
It cannot be denied that the theocratic regime in Teheran is blinkered and bigoted and that the new President, Ebrahim Raisi, is outrageously hardline, but the international problem is that we now have two extremist governments vehemently opposing each other at a time of rising tension.
Israel’s “abilities” include the capability to strike Iran with nuclear weapons. Given that Bennet and Gantz claim that Israel is threatened by Iran, what happens after the next “incident”?
It is far from inconceivable that Israel would employ its nuclear arsenal. After all, for what other reason does it have ninety nuclear weapons?
TEHRAN (FNA)- The First Specialized Nuclear Industry Innovation Center was inaugurated in Tehran on Monday in the presence of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Chief Ali Akbar Salehi and Vice-President for Science and Technology Sourena Sattari.
The First Specialized Nuclear Industry Innovation Center was launched with the aim of commercializing the research achievements of the country’s nuclear scientists.
The establishment of this Center is the first step in forming the innovation ecosystem in the nuclear industry and supporting the process of innovation development in this industry.
The nuclear industry of the country will benefit from developing peaceful applications of nuclear technology in medicine, agriculture, industry, etc.
In a relevant development in late May, Salehi said his country continues uranium enrichment at 5%, 20% and 60% levels of purity.
“The %5, 20% and 60% enrichments still continue and the quantity of our stored %20 enriched uranium is now over 90 kilograms,” Salehi said, adding that the 90-kilogram uranium was achieved in four months.
“The quantity of Iran’s 60% enriched uranium is over 2.5 kilograms and our stored 5% uranium weighs more than five tons,” he noted.
In relevant remarks in late April, a senior Iranian lawmaker lauded the country’s scientists for their capability to enrich uranium to the purity level of 60%, stressing that it showed the enemies’ failure to stop Iran’s scientific progress.
“60% uranium enrichment showed that the sabotage and terrorist acts of the Zionists and the arrogant powers cannot harm the scientific power of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Mousavi Ahmadi told FNA on Saturday April 24.
“60% enrichment showed that we are able to do whatever we determine and our enemies should be assured that enrichment of uranium to higher levels is accessible to us as easy as the 60% enrichment,” he added.
Mousavi Ahmadi said that the Western countries should accept that they are facing a powerful Iran.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran’s Oil Ministry brought online a major port on the coasts of the Persian Gulf to expedite exports of petroleum products from the South Pars giant energy hub.
The Siraf Exports and Service Port was inaugurated upon an order by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
The port, located in the southwestern province of Bushehr, has two wharfs which will be dedicated to exports of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and sulfur. The products will be directly supplied from nearby refineries that run on natural gas pumped from the South Pars, the world’s largest gas reserve which is shared between Iran and Qatar in the Persian Gulf.
Pipelines linking five South Pars refineries to Siraf would allow exports of 5,000 cubic meters per hour of cold LPG from the port which is one of the deepest in the region.
Construction of the port began in 2014 by Khatam Headquarters, a major engineering energy company.
More than $350 million has been spent on the port, and the project will create 200 permanent jobs in the region.
As the port came on line, the end of development works at Phase 14 of South Pars with the rollout of few remaining installations was also announced.
Iran has spent $2.4 billion to fully develop Phase 14 over the past 11 years. That means that the country has built out all 28 phases of the giant gas field except for one where works stalled in 2018 because of pressure on foreign contractors.
In relevant remarks on Sunday, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said that production from Phase 11, which is now being developed by a domestic contractor, will begin before March 2022.
August 2, 2021:
TruNews, we discuss the preparations for military strikes against Iran and the on-going campaign to gaslight Americans into mandatory vaccination, even after the CDC admitted their ineffectiveness.Lastly, we interview Pennsylvania congressional candidate Teddy Daniels, and ask about his platform and his faith in Jesus Christ.
Rick Wiles, Edward Szall, Lauren Witzke, Matt Skow.