Russia and Hezbollah
For a country that claims to be the victim of radical Islamic terrorism, Russia is amazingly willing to support such terrorists as long as they are inflicting their horrors on other countries: Two Internet sources, DEBKAfile and Joseph Fara’s G2 Bulletin, are reporting the discovery of close links between Vladimir Putin’s KGB and the Hezbollah terrorist organization.
Specifically, the long-rumored and now apparently confirmed charge is that the FSB, successor to the KGB, is aggressively spying on Israel, including the widespread use of electronic eavesdropping and surveillance technology, and passing military secrets on to Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, undermining Israel’s ability to hold the Islamic terrorists in check. Just as worrying, the KGB is allegedly basing its espionage operations in Syria with the full knowledge and consent of the extremist government there.
Putin’s Russia has a long history of supporting both Hezbollah and Hamas, but this would be the first proof that the Russians are passing espionage data directly to the terrorist regimes. Putin believes that Hezbollah can become a formidable political threat throughout the Middle East, and as such can become a valuable tool of Russian power in the region.
Russia’s primary motive in fomenting terror and instability in the region is obvious: Such tensions cause immediate responses on the world oil markets, driving up the price of Russian crude. As Russia’s economy continues to implode (it posted a breathtaking 10.9% contraction in the second quarter of this year, well in excess of analyst expectations and significantly worse than the first quarter results), the Kremlin becomes more and more dependant on oil revenues to sustain itself.
But let’s not underestimate the extent of pure Russian anti-Western hatred, either, a topic on which Russians and Islamic radicals see eye to eye. It’s something even many Russians themselves openly acknowledge, as if Russia’s repeated buzzing of Alaska and other American targets with nuclear bombers and submarines were not proof enough.
It’s time for the Obama administration to open its eyes and realize that Russia is supporting international terrorism just the way Iran is – and indeed, Russia and Iran have close ties with each other.
Russia is helping Iran develop nuclear power and providing it with extensive military support and diplomatic cover to protect that technology, repeatedly supporting Iran’s efforts to flout international sanctions. In 2006, the Bush administration imposed sanctions on two Russia companies caught attempting to funnel WMD technology to Iran. Instead of supporting the move, the Kremlin was outraged. Russia’s other close geopolitical ally, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, is also deeply enmeshed in the Russian effort to support Islamic extremism.
Iran is one thing, but Hezbollah is quite another. Hezbollah does not support terror, it is terror. If sensitive security information is being transferred, it stands to reason that weapons and cash are flowing too. The historical record is clear that they are.
In August 2006, Russian missiles were fired at Israel by Hezbollah terror factions, killing at least 50 Israeli soldiers. A formal diplomatic protest was lodged by Israel with the Kremlin against Russian support of terrorism. It’s believed that these weapons are funneled to Hezbollah by Russia through Syrian intermediaries despite Russian promises that such would not occur. Iran, of course, is its own separate pipeline to Hezbollah. Just a month earlier, Russia had refused to designate either Hezbollah or Hamas as terrorist organizations. More recently, Hezbollah has been openly and directly negotiating with the Kremlin on its own for the purchase of various weapons systems. It’s even been reported that Hezbollah is recruiting operatives in Russia as well.
The Kremlin is no stranger to the support of terrorism. It has given a free hand to the maniacal despot of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, who openly brags about having “blood up to his elbows” and strikes down political opponents with impunity. Putin has given Kadyrov Russia’s highest state honor for heroism.
In 2004, Russia condemned Israel for the “extrajudicial” killing of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, who openly boasted of targeting Israeli civilians with rockets. Yet it has said and done nothing as Kadyrov has repeatedly reached out to exterminate his political foes.
That Obama has ignored the spate of recent assassinations of human rights activists by Kadyrov’s minions, the latest linked directly to the security forces Putin has installed in Chechnya, is appalling. Indeed Obama’s shameful weakness during his visit to Moscow may well have encouraged the Kremlin to continue the barbaric bloodletting.
But at least those killings, though they poison American values, do not directly threaten U.S. security. Soaring oil prices and military assaults on Israel, however, unquestionably do so.
Action must be demanded from the Obama administration before Russia sets the Middle East tinder box alight.