Aftermath of an Assassination (Extract)

Extract of article in Issue 24, March 18, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here. Mountains of words have been written about the killing of Imad Fawaz Mughniyeh, Hizballah's guerrilla and terrorist mastermind who was blown up by a car bomb in Damascus on February 13th. Taken together, all these reports form a mixture of some accurate stories, scoop-hungry journalists' fantasies, and apparently not a little intentional leaking by the psychological warfare departments of relevant intelligence agencies. Many of the items that have been published have been tainted with over-inflated sensationalism that has distracted public attention into irrelevant channels. In this context, herein are some comments on the undeniably dramatic event. In the wake of the assassination, Hizballah Secretary General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah announced the beginning of a new and final stage in the struggle to wipe out the State of Israel. Iran lost no time in signing on to this ambitious goal in a series of statements by the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Mohammed Ali Jafari, and his predecessor, Yahya Rahim Safavi. Of course, such statements should not be taken lightly, but it must be borne in mind that both the leaders of the factions in Iran that oppose President Ahmadinejad, including the traditionalist conservatives, and the leaders of the Syrian regime and its acolytes in Hamas were all very careful not to join in the chorus of threats led by Nasrallah and his masters in Tehran. This caution reflects a degree of concern that in partnership with the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force - the spearhead of Iran's efforts against Israel - Hizballah will overdo their acts of vengeance and push Israel into countering with military escalation. From the moment that Nasrallah's angry eulogy for Mughniyeh set a goal beyond "resistance," that is, an offensive aimed at the destruction of Israel "within a few years," he has found himself practically isolated. Even his partners and disciples in Lebanon are distancing themselves from his new rhetoric. In the final analysis, the assassination - a spectacular operation that his associates say even Mughniyeh would have praised if he'd survived - was a well-aimed direct strike against Iran and not merely a blow at the nerve center of Hizballah. Since his recruitment in 1983, Mughniyeh was the key figure in the regional activities of the Republican Guards and he held a very senior position in their intelligence and terror networks. Hizballah was only his cover and his home base, and he spent much of his time in Tehran. Nasrallah was not his boss, although Mughniyeh's title was deputy secretary general of Hizballah. Mughniyeh was in the organization long before Nasrallah, and at one stage he was Nasrallah's instructor. He did not take orders from him and very often acted independently, following Iran's instructions. Accordingly, it is Iran that will decide on the response to his liquidation, and not Hizballah. Extract of article in Issue 24, March 18, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here.