July 16, 2006:
Iran aside, there hasn't been a really noisy response from the Moslem world about Israel's military operations against Lebanon. Notably subdued is the response from the Arab countries; it's mostly been mumbling about the plight of the Palestinians and such. Could this mean that the principal Arab leaders are not all that unhappy to see Hizbollah get it in the neck? After all, most of the Arabs are Sunni, while Hizbollah and Iran are Shia. The exception that proves the rule is Syria, which has a Shia leadership. But most Arabs fear Iran, not because most Iranians are Shia, but because Iranians are not Arabs. Iran has been the regional superpower for over three thousand years. Iran is building nuclear weapons. Iran is backing Shia Arab factions in Iraq that would support turning Iraq into an Iranian ally. Also scary is the fact that Iran is currently run by a religious dictatorship. Most Arabs have noted how that worked in Iran, Sudan and Afghanistan and want no part of it. Worse, the Iranian religious leadership believes that they would do a better job running the Hejaz (the region of Saudi Arabia containing Mecca and Medina and the most holy places in Islam). For centuries, the Turks kept the Iranians out of the Hejaz. But who would keep nuclear armed Iranians out? Perhaps worst of all, what if Iran tried attacking Israel with nukes, and both nations went at it with nuclear weapons. Iran has loudly proclaimed its aim of destroying Israel, but Israel has nuclear weapons, and no desire to be destroyed. The Arabs would be caught in the middle of all this.
The Sunni Arab world always saw Hizbollah as an Iranian branch office on the Mediterranean. Hizbollah was also seen as one of the reasons the Lebanese civil war, that began in 1975, went on for so long (until 1990, when everyone called it quits, mainly because of sheer exhaustion). Sunni Arabs also take a dim view of how the Shia Alawite sect has controlled Syria (a majority Sunni country) for two generations. The Syrian Alawites hang on via subsidies from Iran. Sunni Arabs have always despised Shia, and would like to see the Lebanese and Syrian Shia put in their place (subordinate, very subordinate). Having Israel do a lot of the heavy lifting is seen as an added bonus.
The increasing openness of the Lebanese government about wanting to disarm militias may have sparked Hizbollah's cross-border raid into Israel. Hizbollah leadership may have decided that the best way to avoid being disarmed was to provoke a crisis with Israel. There's a chance that all Lebanese would unite to defend against the Israeli attacks. In the wake of that, Hizbollah would again be national heroes, not a private, Islamic radical militia run by Iranian religious fanatics. While Hizbollah has a lot of support in the Lebanese Shia community (35 percent of the population), there was resentment from Lebanese Shia political parties and militias. Hizbollah, unable to shed its Iranian and Syrian ties, was wearing out its welcome. Lebanese were tired of foreign influences, and Hizbollah was the last one left on Lebanese soil.
Hizbollah can't take on Israeli troops with any chance of success, but they have several thousand rockets (reportedly 10,000 or more), and about 400 of them have been fired into Israel so far. This has killed a dozen Israelis and wounded nearly a hundred. The rockets range in size from small 42 pound 107mm ones with a range of six kilometers, to larger 150 pound 122mm models, with a range of 20 kilometers. Apparently Hizbollah has even larger rockets, perhaps a hundred that can hit targets 40-50 kilometers away, and perhaps twenty with a range of 100 kilometers or more. These rockets have been shipped in from Iran over the last five years, and this was no secret. Hizbollah hid many of the rockets in private homes, and had teams that launched the rockets from next to these homes, forcing the Israelis to "attack civilians" if the launching effort was spotted and attacked with bombs or artillery.
July 15, 2006: Israeli aircraft continue to attack Lebanese targets, basically making movement within Lebanon difficult by destroying bridges, cratering highways and runways and destroying docks. Israeli diplomats have told the Lebanese government that Israel would support the movement of the Lebanese army into southern Lebanon. When Israel left southern Lebanon in 2000, the Lebanese army was supposed to take over control of the border. But Hizbollah used force to keep the Lebanese army out, and the Lebanese government did not want to risk another round of civil war by forcing the issue. But now, the only way to stop the Israeli attacks is to try and assert Lebanese control over southern Lebanon, and going to war with Hizbollah.
July 14, 2006: An Israeli warship off the Lebanese coast was hit by a missile fired from the coast. It was apparently an Iranian C-102 missile given to Hizbollah. The C-102 is a Chinese design (actually using a lot of "borrowed" Russian tech) built under license. Israel is currently selling military gear to China. Small world, isn't it?
Iran is trying to persuade pro-Iranian militias in Iraq (the Badr and Sadr groups) to come out against the Israeli attack on Lebanon, and follow up with an attack on American troops in Iraq. In the Arab world, Israel is seen as a puppet of America, propped up by American power so the Israelis can persecute the Arab people (mainly the Palestinians). Anyway, that's how the story goes, and now the Iranians want to see Shia Arabs in Iraq do something about it. The Shia Arabs, like most Arabs, are reluctant to go to war with America.