Iranian Allies On The Ground In Lebanon
Russia has airlifted an entire Engineer Battalion into southern Lebanon to function in conjunction with UNIFIL’s mission there under Security Council Resolution 1701. China has 182 PLA soldiers under UNIFIL inside southern Lebanon and has pledged that over 1,000 troops will arrive soon. The two members of the Iranian protectorate in the ongoing Iranian nuclear crisis are uniquely involved in the international efforts in southern Lebanon following the conflict between Israel and the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group Hizballah.
Both China and Russia are actively seeking more active roles in Middle Eastern affairs and are tangibly invested in the Iranian regime; cash-starved Russia principally through the building of the Iranian nuclear facilities and military equipment sales, and energy-hungry China increasingly as an oil-trading partner.
The news of the Russian troops arrival in Lebanon comes as word breaks that Hizballah received intelligence on the IDF from listening posts jointly manned by Russian and Syrian signals crews during the conflict with Israel. Further complicating the Russian position is that much of the damage inflicted on Israeli forces during operations was at the hands of Russian-made advanced Kornet anti-tank missiles, potentially tactically deployed with the signals intelligence gathered by the Russian-Syrian manned listening posts.
The Russian sharing of signals intelligence and listening posts with Hizballah-supporter Syria is not unique to them, as Iran is reported to have entered into a similar intelligence sharing agreement earlier this year at Damascus meetings that included Ahmadinejad, Syria’s Bashar Assad, Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah (as well as Imad Mugniyah, it is believed), and Hamas’ Khaled Meshaal, among others (see: Hezbollah Operation Leader with Ahmadinejad in Damascus?). Following that meeting, characterized here as the organizing of a terrorist “Coalition of the Willing,” Haaretz and Jane’s Defence report that two new joint Syrian-Iranian signals intelligence listening posts were constructed before the July 12 Hizballah operation into Israel which sparked the month-long conflict this summer. Through such assistance, Hizballah is believed to have listened in on IDF beepers and cell phones. These posts were among many armed and equipped with various arrays of gear and weapons, many of which had Russian and/or Chinese manufacture or design origin.
As the IAF flies over Hizballah’s Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon and the UN Security Council sanctions loom for Iran for ignoring the UNSC deadline for ending uranium enrichment, analysts are considering whether an Iran-ordered Hizballah attack on the United States is a likely response. Should that event occur, the persistent defense of Iran by both China and Russia will be called into question.