Confirmation that Israeli warplanes have carried out a series of air strikes in Syria against consignments of missiles being shipped to Hizbollah in southern Lebanon has highlighted Iran’s attempts to reinforce its regional allies in anticipation of military conflict with Israel.
As I revealed last month, recent intelligence reports indicate that Iran has revived its efforts to ship weapons to the radical Hamas movement in Gaza. Following negotiations between members of the Quds force from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Sudanese government officials and Hamas leaders earlier this year, Iran has chartered a number of Boeing 747 cargo planes to smuggle weapons to Hamas via Sudan.
Under the terms of the agreement, weapons are shipped from Tehran to the Syrian capital Damascus, and from Damascus they are sent to Khartoum. Then they are transported by road from Sudan to Gaza travelling through Egypt and the Sinai Desert.
At the same time it now appears that Iran is also trying to send shipments to weapons to Hizbollah, its proxy militia in southern Lebanon. Hizbollah and Israel fought an inconclusive war in 2006, and with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Hizbollah, involved in a desperate battle for survival, Iran is anxious to ensure that Hizbollah is fully equipped if the conflict results in renewed hostilities with Israel.
Israel and Iran have issues of their own, with the Jewish state repeatedly warning that it will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. With so much regional tension, Iran has decided that it needs to be fully prepared for conflict with Israel. And what better way to put pressure on the Jewish state than to supply Hamas and Hizbollah, Iran’s allies on Israel’s southern and northern borders respectively, with fresh supplies of arms.