August 2, 2009

Good Grief

Lebanon's Naharnet and Israel's Ynet picked up a report from Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that says the recent plane crash in Iran that killed 168 people was caused by an explosion of ordnance that was on its way to Hezbollah.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 2, 2009 1:47 PM

Through Armenia no less. My guess, Israelis must pay in kind and help Azerbijanians solve Nagorno-Karabakh problem.

Posted by: leo Author Profile Page at August 2, 2009 8:42 PM

This seems a little unlikely. I worked with ordinance in my Military career and it is damn hard for things go boom accidentally. They had some help.

Posted by: marc Author Profile Page at August 2, 2009 10:29 PM

The question is, is the report accurate or not? Don't get me wrong; I'm not trying to defend either Hezbollah or Iran, nor would I ever dream of saying they couldn't be capable of ever pulling such a stunt - on the contrary, it sound exactly like something the Revolutionary government would do to bolster Hezbollah - but, this is already a third hand report from a newspaper based in a different country. And there's scanty collaborating evidence.

I can believe the parties involved would do that, but the reason I'm raising this point is because it's damaging to be wrong about such a charge. If this current report is wrong, but a similar issue of weapons smuggling is ever raised in the future, all Iran and Hezbollah would do to raise a partially credible defense - or to deflect part of the issue by turning back onto the accuser - would be to raise the previous "false" allegation as proof that the world is "out to get them". And unfortunately, there are people who'd buy that.

While I can easily believe that each party is capable of such smuggling, I would like to see some firm evidence presented by the newspaper or some other credible source first. Erroneous reporting can lead to a "boy who cried wolf" situation.

Posted by: ElMondo Author Profile Page at August 3, 2009 7:04 AM


I don't know if it's accurate. My first instinct was to be skeptical. But it's getting picked up at more and more newspapers, so I'm now slightly less skeptical. We'll see. (Maybe.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 3, 2009 9:31 AM

Juan Cole is at it again here. I must confess this is a hat tip to Spencer.

Instead of trying his keen intellect sorting events unfolding in Iran including the topic (Mossad anyone?), Juan seems more at home with comparing Palin to Ahmadinejad and other rather unbalanced opinions.

You seem heading for a 2009 weblog award Michael. Well, that would be based on the partisan and illogical efforts of several competitors. As part of the 2.0 world wide web, this might be interesting.

In any case, US weighs blocking petroleum products bound for Iran. Though, not a favorite news source, this story is also building on the net.

We might speculate that the next few months may see more "accidents", regime conflict and military provocations. But then for some journalists over at the NYT, perhaps Palin would be their best focus in anticipating Ahmadinejad's next move.

Posted by: maxtrue Author Profile Page at August 3, 2009 11:40 AM

"....This route was chosen, according to exiled opposition sources, so as not to draw attention."

In fact the original report comes not form Iarnbain oppositionists, but a website called (or is a hard-core Azerbaijani nationalist site... the aim of the piece is to demonstrate Armenian collusion with terrorists....

BayBak continues:

".....After revealing Israel-Azerbaijani relations, Iran continued supporting Armenian terrorists by calling Armenia’s defense minister for a meeting in Tehran! Iran has supported Armenians before, during and after their invasion of Azerbaijani territory of Karabakh...."

Aha..... It's Caucasian propaganda war... this time dancing all over the charred remains of dead Iranians and dead Armenians.

Because let me tell you, flying explosive fuses by TU-154 from Tehran to Yerevan to ship them overland to Syria is a ridiculous way of smuggling weapons to Hezbollah. So I don't think this story is necessarily true.

What is true, however.... is that your friend and mine, Mr. Walid Jumblatt has just pulled out of the March 14th Alliance....

Leaving that pro-US bloc potentially with a majority of just 3.

Hence the joke I used to tell in Lebanon:

Q- Why do all the girls Walid Jumblatt?

A- They heard he loves to change his position every 5 minutes.

Posted by: Microraptor Author Profile Page at August 3, 2009 1:23 PM

Jumblatt does not surprise, but he does disappoint.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 3, 2009 2:33 PM

This is typical "war build up propaganda" it is a deja-vu in Irak and in Afghanistan.

they will not tell a story that is impossible to be true, it could be true but only built on "news fiction".

in Lebanon during the last 4 years they had a strategy, say a lie and refer to it as a "source close to XYZ" then they comment on it and take positions.

If a lie is written 1000 times in 1000 newspapers and in 1000 TV shows , it remains a lie.

People assume that the press has ethical bariers preventing it from writing lies, in fact they have forgotten it all, they have financial responsibilities towards their shareholders and employees.

Posted by: akram sabra Author Profile Page at August 3, 2009 10:12 PM

akram sabra,

Who do you mean by they?

The Italian reporters at Corriere della Sera aren't part of any nefarious plot that I've ever heard of. If they are, it's pretty impressive that they got both Arab and Israeli journalists on their side.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at August 3, 2009 10:46 PM

Is this actually considered news, that Iran supplies Hezbollah? Here's another shocker - reliable sources have told me personally that Pope Benedict has been seen observing Catholic ritual.

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at August 4, 2009 12:25 AM


"they" are whoever who wants to build a case against Iran, preparing the world opinion for a future escalation.

And.. one newspaper in Lebanon and one in Israel taking their information from a foreign source does not make All the press in Lebanon and Israel adopting the information and being on the side of the story.

the incidents are not the same but This news clip reminds me of the incident in the UN when Colin Powell held in his hand the proof that Irak was buying Uranium from Africa.

the news (if it is true) is that the route for the weapons passes by Armenia (whose fellow armenians in Lebanon voted against the 14th of March coalition) and through Turkey (who criticized Israel during and after the massacres in Gaza) making them all included in the axis of evil.

Posted by: akram sabra Author Profile Page at August 4, 2009 2:19 AM

"'they' are whoever who wants to build a case against Iran, preparing the world opinion for a future escalation."

Honestly, who needs to "build a case" against Iran? With a regime that uses extreme violence against peaceful protesters I don't think it's necessary to "build a case".

They built their own case. We just have to convince people not to ignore it.

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at August 4, 2009 6:54 AM

"Instead of trying his keen intellect"

I'm sure this was an ironic remark. Cole's "keen intellect" is barely suitable for cutting out paper dolls.

Posted by: Gary Rosen Author Profile Page at August 4, 2009 12:21 PM

By the time my comments are extracted from the spam folder, the news contained will be old.

Should I just post https and forget the links?

Sorry to be a pain Michael...

Posted by: maxtrue Author Profile Page at August 5, 2009 11:34 AM

It only serves the interests of ME conspiricay theorists! Anything to blame the evil Iranians...I guess you heard about the 18B in gold "trucking" through Turkey!!

Posted by: Danny Author Profile Page at August 6, 2009 4:56 AM
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Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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