The arms race in the Middle East is now officially out of control. As if tensions in that region were not high enough, there are now reports that Hezbollah is stockpiling chemical and biological weapons near Israel’s border, that Syria is about to start receiving MiGs from Russia and that Iran has developed systems that can now intercept stealth cruise missiles.
In a region where it seems like war is almost always ready to erupt, this is really, really bad news.
According to DEBKA, European intelligence sources have recently indicated that Hezbollah has received and is stockpiling a supply of chemical shells and short-range missiles with chemical warheads. These types of shells and warheads can do much, much more damage to a civilian population than the rockets that were fired into Israel during previous conflicts.
When you couple this news with the previous report that Hezbollah has stockpiled over 40,000 rockets near the border of Israel, this all becomes very ominous.
Not only that, but according to DEBKA’s sources, Hezbollah is about to receive biological weapons as well. The amount of devastation that a terrorist organization can achieve with just a few of those is mind blowing.
One of DEBKA’s sources describes the new Hezbollah as “bad guys with good strategic vision.”
If that wasn’t bad enough, a Russian newspaper is reporting that Russia has agreed to sell advanced MiG fighter jets to Syria but has not yet begun delivering the planes.
If this is true, and there is no reason to believe that it is not, then this would totally change the air superiority equation in the Middle East. Up until now, the Israeli air force has always been vastly superior to the Syrians, but this would equal things up significantly.
One Israeli defense official put it this way in the Jerusalem Post: “If Syria gets new MiG-31s, this will pose a definite threat to our air force.”
Not only that, but there are several troubling reports about Iran’s military buildup.
Firstly, Iran is now claiming that it has developed weapons systems that are able to intercept stealth cruise missiles. If this is true (and they are prone to exaggeration) then this substantially upgrades Iran’s defensive capabilities.
Secondly, DEBKA is reporting that Iran is now closer then ever to being able to produce a nuclear bomb. According to DEBKA, Iran will have stockpiled enough high-grade enriched uranium for two nuclear bombs by February 2010.
Will Israel wait that long to strike?
Only time will tell.
Lastly, there are now rumors that the cargo ship that was hijacked and subsequently disappeared in the Arctic Sea was carrying S-300 missiles bound for Iran.
S-300 missiles are Russia’s most advanced anti-aircraft weapon, and if they had gotten to Russia it would have seriously made it much more difficult for Israel to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. Thus there are rumors that seem to be very persistent that Israel may have been involved in the disappearance of the Russian cargo ship.
In fact, one anonymous source told a U.K. newspaper that in the event of a strike on Iran’s nuclear installations, S-300 missiles would likely increase Israeli casualties by up to 50 percent.
So what does all this mean?
It means that both sides are getting ready for something. A major war in the Middle East is closer now than it has been in ages, and if something is not done this seething cauldron of tension is likely to boil over.
Let’s hope that does not happen any time soon.