Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Iranian activity in Syria

Time has effectively bottled the prelude to coming strife between Sunni and Shia powers in the middle east.

Iran is smuggling weapons through Syria to re-arm Lebanese allies Hizballah, despite renewed efforts by United Nations peacekeepers and the Lebanese army to seal off the mountain borders with Syria in the wake of last summer's war between the Shi'ite militia and Israel, according to reports by Saudi and Israeli intelligence sources that have been confirmed by western diplomats in Beirut.

Nothing new or earth shattering there. It does get more interesting though.

Over the past three months, according to a knowledgeable Saudi source, Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers have been operating out of a military base on the outskirts of Damascus. The Iranian government has dispatched shipments of small arms and what appear to be missile components to this military base, according to the source. From the secret base, weapons have been shipped by truck across the border into Lebanon.

If Saudi and Israeli intelligence sources are correct (the mere fact that they corroborate lends one to believe they are) then it looks as though Iran is ramping up for conflict either within Lebanon or crossborder against Israel.

Iran's apparent efforts to destabilize Lebanon and to expand Shi'ite influence in Iraq and throughout the region are of major concern to the Saudi government, a leading power in the Sunni Muslim world that presumably would like to see the U.S. take a more active stance in Lebanon against its regional rivals. Obaid says that when Vice President Cheney visits King Abdallah bin Abd Al Aziz Al Saud Saturday in Riyadh, the Saudi king is expected to tell Cheney that "the Saudi leadership will not and cannot allow Iran, through Syria and Hizballah, to bring down the Lebanese government and overtake the levers of power in Beirut." Obaid says the Saudi king is also expected to discuss with Cheney the kingdom's worries about Iranian activity in Iraq and the Palestinian territories as well as its alliance with Syria.

It'll be interesting to see if US foreign policy efforts in regards to Iran under go a transformation. The US could diplomatically and very publically unite the big Sunni states in opposing both Irans bid for nuke proliferation and their growing influence.