Although I continue to agree with Billmon that the current offensive is a losing proposition for the Israelis, this article suggests that Tehran is concerned about Hezbollah’s loss of military power in southern Lebanon.
Linking up with the Shiite Muslims of southern Lebanon was part of Iran’s efforts to spread its ideological influence. But in building up Hezbollah, the ideological motivation fused with a practical desire to put a force on Israel’s northern border.
No matter how this conflict is resolved, Iranian officials already see their strategic military strength diminished, said the policy experts, former officials and one official with close ties to the highest levels of government. Even if a cease-fire takes hold, and Hezbollah retains some military ability, a Lebanese public eager for peace may act as a serious check.
In the past, Iran believed that Israel might pause before attacking it because they would assume Hezbollah would assault the northern border. If Hezbollah emerges weaker, or restrained militarily because of domestic politics, Iran feels it may be more vulnerable.
Of course, so much depends on sources and perspective that it’s hard to tell if the above is an accurate picture of Iran’s assessment of the situation. If it is, I’m a bit surprised; yes, conventional offensives can damage guerilla organizations, but they can rarely destroy them. Moreover, there’s not much in the way of indication that the Lebanese government is turning against Hezbollah. Guerilla war is a wonderful way to bleed a foe, because sponsors like Iran very rarely spend as much supplying the guerillas as states like Israel spend destroying them.
So I’m skeptical, but it’s worth a read.