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

Uncle Naz and Brother Ahm..?

In July of 2006 the paramilitary (terrorist) group Hezbollah fired katyusha rockets from the southern Lebanese border into various northern Israeli townships. Under cover of this aggression Hezbollah located and captured three IDF soldiers. The Israeli reaction was to wage what was, at the time, widely regarded by some as the war that would end Hezbollah.

Fast forward to reality. The IDF’s clumsy strategy regarding the Hezbollah act of war bore not the ruin of Uncle Naz and his merry band of Islamic revolutionaries. Quite the contrary, Uncle Naz took on a more defined and accelerated “Robin Hood” persona in Lebanon and, indeed throughout the Middle East. If victory can be defined by legitimizing and then popularizing ones foe then the IDF succeded brilliantly.

Hezbllah was alive, well, and instituting a grassroots aid/rebuilding framework in lieu of the essentially paralyzed pro-western Siniora government. Not exactly what one could call a victory, especially given the fact that after nearly a year the “catalyst” of the conflict (three IDF soldiers) has yet to be resolved.

Let’s speed the tape of history along a few months. An Iranian naval “patrol” snags 15 British servicemen (and woman) and assures Britain (the west) that said individuals will be subject to a criminal trial as the taken are indicted on the loose charge of espionage.

What’s the endgame here as far as Iran is concerned? Are they taking a page from Uncle Naz and flaunting regional muscle in hopes that Britain will respond in a limited martial sense the likes of which ole Ahms regime survives and then can bandy about the “we fought the Brits and we won?”

Just what the hell is Ahm and his band of overseeing Bearded Sages trying to accomplish here? Media distraction? Nah. Sorry, the possible ends don’t mete out the actual means. Distraction in light of the recent Sec Coun. resolution may be a parameter in Iran’s aggression but it’s not the whole story.

Iran’s borrowed a tactical slice of their effective “client resistance” Hezbollah. To what end?

The Strategist presents a very likely scenario:

It sounds odd, but if the operation was carried out on the initiative of lower level operatives, without the knowledge of the bigwigs, rather than being ordered from on high (as some media reports suggest), those in overall command might now find themselves in a tricky situation – not wanting to precipitate a confrontation, but not wanting to lose face by being seen to cave under pressure.

I have zero knowledge regarding the command and control structure of the Iranian military but the idea that the ship captain (for example) made a hasty and unwise unilateral decision seems very possible.


Steve said...

IMHO: They took something they can now barter from a country with a high threshold of pain.

On the other hand, maybe this means that the current sanctions are actually having an effect.

aelkus said...

One possibility we also might consider is that this may be a product of Iranian domestic politics. Consider, for example, the role domestic politics play in our own grand strategies.

The Iranian President (not going to say his name because I always have trouble spelling it) has been growing steadily unpopular because of his bungling of the economy, corruption, and his hilariously inept personal "diplomacy." Perhaps he is trying to provoke a crisis that will make him look good and prevent the erosion of his power.

Jay@Soob said...

Strategist presents a pretty damn likely possibility in the commentary of his post on the Rev. Guard. The possibility that the decision to snag the Brits was made by a low level operative. Perhaps the ship captains kneejerk reaction?

Anonymous said...

Subadei - Thanks for the mention.

It will be interesting, now that the Iranians have released the Brits, to try and figure out the details about what happened: why the Brits were captured, and on whose orders. I still suspect that the op was authorised at a lower level (within the Revolutionary Guards), and the top level politicians had to scramble to find a face-saving way of getting out of the situation.

What is interesting is that both the Iranians and the Brits seem to have conducted the talking in a quiet and professional way.

Jay@Soob said...

Strat, I've put the question of "why" in a lot of different directions. Your's is still the most intriguing (and likely IMO) theory.

And you're welcome for the mention, you've got a great blog.