An April 30 article on the English website of Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station, entitled “Who Gave Permission to US Officers to Inspect Masnaa Border?”, describes the “‘secret’ inspection tour… made by a delegation comprising two officers from the so-called [U.S.] Office of Counter-Terrorism accompanied by a security staffer from the US embassy to the Masnaa crossing point near the Lebanese-Syrian borders.”
According to Al-Manar’s sources, the delegation arrived to Masnaa in the company of the Lebanese army and proceeded to inspect not only the border entry process but also the dorms of military officers. Al-Manar considers “remarkable” the subsequent attempts on the part of the Lebanese Interior and Foreign Ministers to dissociate themselves from the visit, and to “withdraw the ball from their court.”
Other recent examples of Al-Manar’s experiments with the English language include an April 25 article concerning the fourth day of Iranian military exercises in the Persian Gulf and the “Straight” of Hormuz, during which five “home-made coast-to-sea and sea-to-sea missiles [reportedly] hit a single target simultaneously.” The missiles’ home-made qualification is presumably meant to indicate that they were domestically manufactured rather than of the variety lobbed at Israel from the Gaza Strip; it remains to be seen whether such military achievements will help Iran fulfill its pledge to “cut off Israel’s feet” in the event of an Israeli attack on Syria.
A similar amputation was incidentally attempted during the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006, one of the justifications for which was U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s declaration, in reference to Hezbollah, that it was unacceptable to have one foot in politics and the other in terror. Iran has thus far failed to fully mimic U.S. wartime discourse vis-à-vis the Middle East, however, and has refrained from inducing the birth pangs of a new Israel.
The Al-Manar article about U.S. inspections of the Masnaa border crossing and military dorms does not speculate as to whether the inspectors were hoping to apprehend Scud missiles from Syria, the focus of U.S. and Israeli bleating as of late. The article does specify, however, that the “scandal” of the visit occurs in the context of another scandal, that of a security agreement between the U.S. and Lebanon involving the donation of materials such as handcuffs, boots, and police belts to the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) plus relevant training of said forces by the Americans.
The agreement has been harshly criticized by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, who argued in a March interview with Al-Manar that it will enable intimate access to Lebanese security institutions by the primary ally of Lebanon’s primary enemy, under the pretense of checking up on how the donated handcuffs are being utilized. According to Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper, the parliamentary committee that completed an evaluation of the agreement in early April proved to be divided over a number of its aspects, such as whether the Lebanese president was required to authorize the deal as an international accord or whether it was simply a “donation program” not requiring such authorization.
Not clear is how an agreement that is merely charitable in nature justifies what the Daily Star describes as the concomitant “US Embassy request for a map of the cellular network broadcasting stations which [Lebanese] Telecommunication[s] Minister Charbel Nahhas said disclosed sensitive information.” The article quotes parliamentarian Hassan Fadlallah as suggesting that such “information could be used to conduct aggressive acts against cell-phone users,” a practice already employed by the state of Israel during the 2006 war when it sent threatening messages to Lebanese mobile phones.
As for non-cellular aggressive acts in 2006, these included rush shipments to the Israel Defense Forces of U.S. precision-guided bunker buster bombs, which apparently required less oversight than police belt donations to the Lebanese ISF and which facilitated the liquidation of Lebanese civilians hiding in their basements. Liberal Israeli interpretations of humane cluster bomb policy meanwhile caused the U.S. to suspend shipments of such munitions to Israel in the 1980s but did not interfere with the dropping of over 4 million cluster bombs on south Lebanon in more recent times; the failure to explode on impact of approximately 40 percent of these—and their continuing unintentional discovery by Lebanese farmers and children—suggests that Iran faces stiff competition in the area of contemporary regional amputation of feet.