Monday, January 12, 2009

Hamas Is Weakening

Hamas is getting heavy pressure from Iran to keep on fighting.

Iran is exerting heavy pressure on Hamas not to accept the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel, an Egyptian government official said on Sunday.

The official told The Jerusalem Post by phone that two senior Iranian officials who visited Damascus recently warned Hamas leaders against accepting the proposal.

His remarks came as Hamas representatives met in Cairo with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleiman and his aides to discuss ways of ending the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas representatives reiterated their opposition to a cease-fire that did not include the reopening of all the border crossings into the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesmen said on Sunday.

The spokesmen said Hamas voiced its strong opposition to the idea of deploying an international force inside the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian official said that the two Iranian emissaries, Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, and Said Jalili of the Iranian Intelligence Service, met in the Syrian capital with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ramadan Shallah.

"As soon as the Iranians heard about the Egyptian cease-fire initiative, they dispatched the two officials to Damascus on an urgent mission to warn the Palestinians against accepting it," the Egyptian government official told the Post.

"The Iranians threatened to stop weapons supplies and funding to the Palestinian factions if they agreed to a cease-fire with Israel. The Iranians want to fight Israel and the US indirectly. They are doing this through Hamas in Palestine and Hizbullah in Lebanon."
This can only mean that Hamas is seriously hurting. It also means Iran is expecting full price for what it has paid for. It probably also means that they can't afford to pay for much rebuilding and would like to put off for a few more days at least the tendering of the bill. However, every day they put off payment causes the price to go up. Perhaps they are expecting the price of oil to spike. If so they are out of luck. After going up to the $50 a bbl. range oil has fallen back to around $40 a bbl. With Hizballah quiet and Hamas taking a very serious beating Iran has lost a lot of prestige with the current war.

Perhaps Iran is hoping that in only eight more days the new administration in Washington will save them. With respect to that I think it will be a question of who gave Obama more funds for his election campaign the Saudis or the Iranians, and/or who he intends to double cross throw under the bus.

Meanwhile the Syrians are putting in a token appearance.
The fighting in Gaza appeared to reach the Golan Heights on Sunday when gunshots were fired at an IDF vehicle along the border with Syria. It was the second attack along Israel's northern border since Operation Cast lead began in late December.
If a serious attack by Syria was planned they would not fire a few token shots to announce their intentions. I think the urban renewal that Lebanon got in 2006 has decided the question for the Syrians. I don't think they want a piece of that action given that their patron Iran is in serious internal financial difficulties with inflation in Iran running well above the CIA estimate of around 18%.

It also appears that Egypt is considering digging a moat across southern Gaza to deter future smuggling tunnels.
Egypt is considering a range of proposals on how to stop weapons smuggling through tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor into Gaza, including the construction of a moat along the border that separates the Sinai desert from the Gaza Strip, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Israel has destroyed close to 150 tunnels since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead but estimates that there are at least another 150 tunnels along the 14-kilometer corridor. On Sunday, the Air Force bombed close to 30 tunnels that it said were used by Hamas to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip.

Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, is scheduled to travel to Egypt later this week to hear Cairo's offer concerning the tunnels.

Since the operation began, Hamas has made attempts to smuggle weapons into Gaza through the remaining tunnels, officials said. Iran, they added, was trying to get explosives and weaponry - including long-range rockets - to the Sinai, from where supplies are transferred into the Gaza Strip.

While Israel has conditioned its acceptance of a cease-fire on an end to smuggling, the Egyptians have made clear that it will not permit the deployment of a foreign military presence on its sovereign territory. Egypt has however agreed to receive technological assistance from different countries including Germany and the United States, which has already sent combat engineers to Rafah in an advisory capacity.
The ring is tightening around Hamas and Iran.

Iran's last hope is getting atomic weapons. And even they they are not out of the woods. The weapons are defensive in nature, because if they use them offensively they will get wiped out. However, they are still trying.
The Iranian businessman was looking for high-quality American electronics, but he had to act stealthily: The special parts he coveted were denied to Iranians, especially those seeking to make roadside bombs to kill U.S. troops in Iraq.

With a few e-mails, the problem was solved. A friendly Malaysian importer would buy the parts from a company in Linden, N.J., and forward them to Iran. All that was left was coming up with a fake name for the invoice. Perhaps a Malaysian engineering school? "Of course, you can use any other company as end-user that you think is better than this," the Iranian businessman, Ahmad Rahzad, wrote in an e-mail dated March 8, 2007.

The ruse succeeded in delivering nine sensors called inclinometers to Iran, the first of several such shipments that year and the latest example of what U.S. officials and weapons experts describe as Iran's skillful flouting of export laws intended to stop lethal technology from reaching the Islamic republic.
Inclinometers are gravity based attitude sensors. They would most likely be used in rocket guidance systems. I'm sure that is not all the Iranians are looking for. What all this means is that Iran has not given up its atomic ambitions.

There is a book out, Human Security in East Asia: Challenges for Collaborative Action,dealing with atomic weapons in the Near East. The Daily Times is of the opinion that the weapons are defensive in nature.
Nuclear deterrence is also not what it used to be, that is, the US deterring another superpower. Today it is challenged to deal with asymmetric nuclear threats which could come from a terrorist organization. Medium and small sized states acquiring weapons through proliferation seek to deter in a variety of patterns: to stave off conventional invasion, to shake off coercion and blackmail, etc. North Korea’s weapons deter coercive action in the region by the US; Iran wants to avoid ‘regime change’ compulsions; and Pakistan wants to deter perceived military aggression from India. On the other hand, India wishes to ensure security for its posture of a global power.

The new nuclear states face dangerous constraints — dangerous because they compel unorthodox behavior — like scarce resources, lack of technology and domestic scientific expertise and, last but not least, an undertow of suicidal nationalism. Once the weapons are acquired, the problem of establishing a command and control is compounded once again because of lack of technology and funds. India and Pakistan are faced with severe constraints in establishing their command and control systems, thus introducing the world to a new series of dangers, including accidental launch and repossession by terrorists.
It is possible that with Iran in such a precarious financial situation it fears internal problems more than external ones. Of course thinking you know the other guy's intentions while being severely mistaken is how wars start. Or at least start badly. One only need look up the history of December 7th, 1941 (At Dawn We Slept is a good one) to see the folly of not preparing for capabilities rather than relying on perceived intentions to see the folly of the method of intentions.

So where will all this lead? In the near term Iran is going to have trouble buying new friends and keeping old ones.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


rumcrook said...

simon what are the unintended consequences?

thier are allways unintended consequences for all involved parties I allways try to extrapolate what could happen. but the chaos of this chess game makes reading the game board difficult.

I was sure for instance at the begaining years of the fight in afghanistan we would see emense problems from iran. and pakistans lawless regions would be easy pickings for us to covertly destroy enemy in. it has not worked out that way and pakistan although nominally our ally in afghanistan has been as far as I know a larger threat.

in iraq I was sure we would immediatly vet and resupply the iranian militias living in iraq as saddams pets and use them to start the process of toppling iran, I thought the best action was to do it imediatly that way it would "hurt less" instead we sat down and said this is as far as we go.

so ive been wrong about strategy before. now im thnking whats going to become of the situation with gaza? I thought whats the end game going to bring? what surprise? what result that wasnt counted on by one or the other side?

I am hoping that a fully waged war without the usually succesful cry and hue to stop from un/eu/arabs that pressured israel to halt before it finished a job, could lead to hamas loosing face and once seen as a paper tiger, loosen its grip on gaza allowing a different group think to emerge, maybe even one where the people of gaza say enough! we dont want our children used as "martyrs and we dont want jihad bunny talking to our kids and I liked working at the greenhouse farm for the joooos.

a completely differnt meme from the standard being spread by the media which is this will only produce more enraged pali's who are even more unwilling to live peacefully next to an israeli state.

M. Simon said...

so ive been wrong about strategy before. now im thnking whats going to become of the situation with gaza? I thought whats the end game going to bring? what surprise? what result that wasnt counted on by one or the other side?

There has been a sea change among the Arabs. Their rhetoric is unchanged, but their policy is different.

They are now in fear of their future. They can see the end of oil. If they are to survive on other than charity they have to make things the world wants.

The first thing they intend to make to reach that goal is a Palestinian State. The Palestinians are relatively well educated. Arafat after all was an engineer. The Palestinians under good government will unite to reform the Middle East.

They were so close in 2000. So close. The Israeli and Palestinian economies were starting to integrate.


Re: Pakistan and Afghanistan. The only way to bring that forward to a situation more to our liking is to legalize opium. Once that is done the Afghanis will either come into the modern world or at least cease to be a threat.

Iran is falling. Maybe we should have pushed them a little harder. I thought so at the time. But the run up in oil prices was a bigger enemy that American military might.

The ability to make war is fundamentally an economic question. So it may be that the economic answer is the better resolution.

rumcrook said...

its a stretch (palistinians leading the way in peace and alternate economic prosperity for the arabs) but I suppose anything is possible. it would be a much better outcome to the middle east for an arab piggyback of israeli enonomic growth, a channeling of the palistinians work ethic (almost completely absent in saudi arab culture) that is currently applied to destroying israel turned towards making a successful culture.

karzi could allways legalize the growth and export of poppies in afghanistan unilaterally couldnt he? then collect taxes on them and force the west to deal with its draconian drug laws that are artificially making powerful cartels around the world. he wouldnt need us money to stay afloat and would have the rural support that has allways been lacking in a central afghan government.

Snake Oil Baron said...

If Egypt does put a moat in, maybe it could be in the form of a series of locks which could bring sea water inland for desalination and salt water aquaculture and agriculture. While there seems to be various forms of agriculture going on in that area it also looks far from lush when you look at the satellite maps. I suspect that an increase in water supply to the area would be quite beneficial and with desalination becoming less expensive and salt water crops being developed it might be worth looking into.

With regards to Iran's nuclear program: "The weapons are defensive in nature, because if they use them offensively they will get wiped out. However, they are still trying."

The whole mutually assured destruction deterrent only works if the party being deterred is sane. If a large enough portion of the Iran's elite really believes this whole thing about issuing in the end of the world and creating the chaos which will bring about the coming of the Mahdi, all bets are off.