Sunday, September 03, 2006

Fake Video Tells True Stories

In short: True Story, Fake Video... But there is more to the story than meets the eye.

Fact: The story is true

At the risk of repeating others; Hezb did shoot down an Israeli helicopter. That was a tough day for Tsahal; they lost 24 soldiers, in addition to the 5 crewmen.

Had the chopper been hit when it still had soldiers on board, the losses would have been far greater.

Fact: The video is at least “inaccurate”.

This is actually a video of Chechen fighters shooting down a Russian helicopter.

In the video, the fighters are using anti-aircraft missiles. According to the "Kavkaz Center" website, the chopper shot down is a Russain Mil-24 "Hind". Oddly, the arabic spoken in the video does not "fit in", and the chopper shot down appears to fall in an odd manner.

This does not jive with Hezb claims, who said they used an anti-tank missile to shoot it down.

But that is another matter. In any case, the "Hind" is not part of the Israeli arsenal.

The actual shooting demonstrates the ingenuity of those fighters, arguably the world's best guerilla force, which can effectively adapt weapons to new conditions. Compound this with good material, as well as better training and tactics than the Israelis.

No need to "fake it" to make it look "better". Better update your Redneck-to-English dictionary; those are no mere ragheads… more like Ninjas on steroids.

There are worse ""misquoted" fakes, like the pictures of the sinking of the HMS Torrens, a Leander Class Frigate, presented as the sinking of the Israeli Saar V Class Corvette, the Ahi-Hanit. The corvette was not sunk, as a matter of fact, only damaged.

Why the Limitations?

Iran did supply Hezb with an extensive arsenal, far above what other militias deployed during the war. Yet, either Iran did not supply them with anti-aircraft missiles, or they did chose not to deploy and use them, same as their stock of Zelzal missiles.

I favour the first interpretation. The Israelis did destroy a few storage depots with suspicious precision, not all have been destroyed. A plane reported shot down was in fact a misfired Zelzal. Eye witnesses saw many Iranians in the area where the missiles exploded. OK, let me rephrase that; they were Non-Arab speakers, some had a heavy accent, and some had such a heavy accent that their Arabic was hard to understand.

Those particular missiles were clearly manned by the Pasdaran. Still, Lebanon has no shortage of qualified men that can operate this type of equipment. So why were they not used?

They would be strictly under Iranian control; Iran would want to keep a tight lid over Hezb, and therefore over some of the weapons it delivers.

Reasons for "Holding Back"

1. Iranian Strategy: Iran has reasons to keep Hezb on a tight leash. While it relishes threatening Israel, it does not yet want to provoke a full-fleged war.

  • Challenging Israel makes it hard for Arab countries to openly challenge Iran's dominance. But Iran's financial measn are limited: while much progress has been made, Iranians are often reminded that the country still needs much development. Some of financial drain is already causing internal resentment. Much of Iran's population is still poor, and would not look kindly as their country's oil wealth is squandered on a global Jihad and dreams of Grandeur. After all, Iran is no Oceania...
  • Keeping Hezb on a tight leash also maintains a level of "plausible deniability". The main reason is that Iran cannot afford an escalating conflict; at this stage, its policy is limited to maintaining low-level tension along Israel's border. Such hypocrisy is not an American monopoly; Machiavel has many disciples in the Middle East.

2. Placating Iran's Suppliers: Iran is a weapons importer, which limits its policy choices.

To circumvent that, the Iranians can be very creative; remember Iran-Contra? During the war with Iraq, they purchased more than US$ 2 Billions worth of weapons from... Israel.

Quand on prepare son propre malheur, on le fait sans-doute mieux.

Today, most Iranian weapons are supplied by China and Russia, who each have their own agendas. Both China and Russia would not mind tickling the United States, but would not want to upset such a major partner. For this reason, Iran has to be mindful of the following:

  • Anti-ship missiles are Chinese-supplied; China may not look kindly on Iran supplying them to third parties. Recall that China depends heavily on oil supplies across the Straits of Hormuz, a channel controlled, among others, by Iran. Missiles and oil are indeed an explosive mix. In this context, the use of Silkworm missiles against the Israeli corvette would be a limited, one-off thing. Note that some sources say they used a "Noor" missile, but it is still essentially an Iranian-packaged "Silkworm"...
  • Yet More of Iranian Grandeur depends on Russia. The Iranian space program, started in 1998, only to ok off thanks to Russian technology transfer. Iran has launched the Sina-1 research satellite in October 2005, and is working on a spy satellite, the Mesbah. Aside from launching glorified space cameras, the space program allows Iran to further develop longer range missiles. Its program is still in infancy; Iran still resorts to purchases of nuclear-capable long range, such as the 2001 purchase of AS-15 cruise missiles from Ukraine... So adapting techonologies is technologies is essential if it wants to get the necessary "know-how"; the “Shihab-3” is a derivative of North Korean “No-Dong-1”, and the “Shihab-4” is based on a Soviet-era R-12. All this hard work needs "quiet"; excessively upsetting the United States would not please the Russians. Without more Russian help, their program expansion is limited; witness the abandonment of the “Shihab-SLV”. Further satellite launches such as the Mesbah, Mesbah-2, and Zohreh, cannot carried out without Russian help.

Some in Israel complain that they are fighting a war with "a hand tied behind their back". Ironically, with the United States working so hard to undermine the Mullahs, they may not be the only ones....

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