Saturday, August 19, 2006
Was Israel defeated in Lebanon? ...The blow to Hezbollah, in personnel and munitions and infrastructure, was severe. And the political price that the movement may pay inside Lebanon for bringing the wrath of Israel down upon the poor country is still unclear.
But... the fact is that the wrath of Israel is precisely what was not visited upon Hezbollah...The crowing about the capture of Bint Jbail is embarrassing.... Israel's political and military leadership projected only ambivalence and indecision. ....hundreds of rockets were rained upon Israel's northern region day after day, week after week. ..... This was not a failure of power, but a failure of will; more specifically, of the will to use power....the inconclusiveness of the outcome of this conflict nonetheless stands as a defeat. The reckoning in Israel is already virulent, and it has only just begun.
The military fiasco was compounded by a diplomatic fiasco. ... no sooner was the cease-fire declared than Hezbollah announced that it would not lay down its arms, and the Lebanese government announced that it would not force it to do so. Give these people a Nobel Prize! .....what next? Another resolution? The dark comedy of resolution and irresolution at the United Nations continues.
...was a successful Thirty Day War really beyond the capability of Israel? One hundred fifty-seven Israelis and 842 Lebanese were killed--for what, exactly? A new debate about deterrence? The moral justice of Israel's struggle against Hezbollah is no solace for its military outcome. Israel was right, and Israel botched it.
Whether or not Hezbollah won this war, Iran did. It encouraged and supported Hezbollah in this catastrophic mischief, and it emerges from the adventure satisfied with its ability to hurt Israel and damage regional stability and thwart American strategy. At this moment, therefore, it is important to remember that Iran is not only Israel's problem. It is also America's problem. Indeed, it is the West's problem. There is no figure in the world right now--not Osama bin Laden, not Nasrallah, not Ayman Al Zawahiri, not the Sunni insurgency or the Shia death squads in Iraq, not the cells, Al Qaeda or otherwise, in any European or American city--that represents the Islamist danger more perfectly, with greater ideological and physical force, than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...
Friday night, helicopters escorted by warplanes fired rockets at a Hizballah weapons convoy crossing from Syria. This attack was denied by the IDF spokesperson.
A Lebanese army spokesman confirms a claim by Hizballah’s Al Manar TV that early Saturday, an Israeli commando unit was dropped by helicopters at a village 30 km northwest of Baalbek. He reports they landed with two Hummer jeeps, were engaged by Hizballah fighters and evacuated by helicopter.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report the commando raid probably targeted newly filled weapons stores. The spokesman adds that Israeli helicopters first tried to land commandoes during the earlier air attack.
Our sources report that Iran and Syria have used the halt in Israeli attacks since last Monday, Aug. 14, to send over Hizballah fresh weapons supplies including rockets in direct violation of the UN ceasefire and 1701 resolution imposing an arms embargo. No monitoring system is in place on the Lebanese-Syrian border.
Also since the truce, a group of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers, including generals, has arrived to set up a forward command on the Syrian side of the Lebanese border. They have told Hizballah to start reconstituting its southern Nasser Brigade which was damaged by Israeli forces and also serves the group as its short-range rocket unit. During the week, Israel kept Washington abreast of the Iranian-Syrian re-supply operation and was informed the Bush administration would not interfere if the Israeli government decides to destroy the incoming supply vehicles.
Hizballah used the media focus on the Lebanese army’s deployment to unobtrusively transfer the fresh weapons shipments from the Beqaa Valley and Baalbek to the south. It is feared that the replenishment of Hizballah’s depleted weapons stocks presages a revival of attacks and the breakdown of the ceasefire which Israel accepted last Monday, Aug. 14.
...(... USD 200 million) donated to north's residents in recent month. American Jewry behind USD 150 million contribution
... in the past month, efforts to help soldiers and civilians cost some NIS 900 million. We repeat: NIS 900,000,000, the equivalent of approximately USD 200 million or 161 million euros.
The most significant contributor of aid was the UJC (United Jewish Communities), based in the US, which donated, as of now, some USD 150 million. Members declare that they intend to increase that sum to USD 1 billion.
In addition to the astronomical sums donated by diaspora Jews, local [Israeli] millionaires (such as Arkadi Guidemak and the often-censured Sheri Arrison), Israel businesses and businessmen, private donors and thousands of Israeli hi-tech companies opened their hearts and their wallets.
Follow the link to the full article which includes a table of the contributions of various donors and the different initiatives undertaken to assuage the drastic situation in the rocket-barraged north this past month.
The Middle East 'conflict' boils down to this guiding principle: Jewish/Israeli lives are simply worth less than Muslim/Arab lives
As we witnessed the incessant calls and declarations for “an immediate cease-fire" from Israel's detractors – whether politicians, journalists, religious and community leaders, or the United Nations with its resolution mandating a “cessation of hostilities” – I couldn't help but conclude that for all of these addressing the Middle East “conflict” boils down to this guiding principle: Jewish/Israeli lives are simply worth less than Muslim/Arab lives.
When missiles are blasted into Israel by Muslim/Arab terrorists living in their non-disputed Muslim/Arab territory, resulting in the murder of innocent Israelis/Jews, the world tells Israel to show restraint and refrain from retaliating with targeted responses against the origins of the rocket launches. Why? Because some Muslim/Arab civilians might inadvertently be killed.
And when Muslim/Arab suicide-bombing murderers steal into Israel and blow to smithereens innocent Jewish/Israeli civilians in pizza parlors and discotheques, Israel is admonished to show restraint and refrain from targeting the planners, facilitators, and future perpetrators of suicide-murder actions. Why? Because some Muslim/Arab civilians might inadvertently be killed.
In both these cases, Israel is simply making necessary and desperate attempts to eliminate, or at least diminish, the immediate and existentially dire threat to the very lives of its innocent civilians – and Israel is directed by these critics to not do so. Israel’s innocent citizens are viciously and incessantly targeted for extermination by Muslim/Arab terrorists from Muslim/Arab land with the support of the Muslim/Arab governments who are voted into power by the Muslim/Arab citizenry. Israel determines that it can go in with precision strikes to help destroy the capabilities of its enemies to murder Israeli civilians, thus helping to save their own inhabitants’ lives. And Israel is told not to!
Bottom line: Israel is strongly warned to allow – indeed facilitate – the ongoing murder of its citizens so as not to risk the possible death of an Arab/Muslim civilian. And if these critics “selection” of who should live and who needn’t live is not monstrous enough, there's more.
When Israel attempts to put up a fence solely for the sake of keeping out the murderers who try to infiltrate the border and invade Israel-property for the purpose of blowing up innocent Jewish children savoring an ice-cream cones at a cafe, Israel is rebuked. Israel is told to tear down that (Jewish)-life-saving fence. Why? Because just the mere inconveniences caused to those on the enemy side of the fence is too great a burden to bear, too high a price for them to pay in order to save the life of a Jew.
And now, yet again, we have the “cease fire". But the question must be asked: Why is it that there is never a call for “an immediate cease fire” when Muslin/Arabs attack Israel and murder her citizens – but rather only when Israel responds to defend herself? The answer again seems all too clear – and hauntingly familiar. Israel is told to remove roadblocks and checkpoints, to arm and fund the terror governments who rule within mere meters of the Jewish heartland, to negotiate with the terrorists, to show restraint, to submit to devastatingly premature cease-fires, and above all to avoid civilian (read: Arab/Muslim civilian) casualties and inconveniences at all costs – especially, it seems, if the cost is just some Jewish blood. As the United Nations continues its work to undermine Israel, it would serve the civilized world well to remember that "cease-fires" imposed on Israel and her enemies invariably translate into Israel ceasing and the enemy firing.
It is also true that if the fanatical Muslim/Arabs withhold fire, none will be killed; if the Jews withhold fire, innocent Jews will be murdered. So when Israel is urged again and again to withhold fire while under present or immanent siege, leaving the murderers poised to continue their bloody assault to the bitter end, what is one to think of those who urge Israel’s restraint?
Israel’s critics and detractors, far from advancing the ideological bedrock of civilized goodness and decency – justice, freedom, and equality – are promoting instead a grotesque value-assessment of the lives of Jews/Israelis versus the lives of just about anyone else, and in their scenario the Jews lose. Will it be “never again” or is it “here we go again?"
Jonathan Pearl, Ph.D and a practicing Rabbi, is the co-author of "The Chosen Image: Television’s Portrayals of Jewish Themes and Characters". He is also the founder of the Institute for Wholly Living
THE quashing of Jack Thomas's terror conviction is a disaster for the Australian Federal Police and the Government's war on homegrown terror. The AFP has stumbled in its attempt to secure its first conviction under the nation's new anti-terror laws and in doing so has demonstrated how hard it will be to lock away those who pose a genuine threat to national security.
The AFP interrogation of Thomas in Pakistan - which was ruled as inadmissable yesterday - has turned out to be a clumsy and costly mistake. But it should also be remembered that the war against terror is a legal minefield for Australia's security agencies and remains a work in progress on many levels. A raft of largely untested laws, coupled with the fact that suspects often have to be questioned in jails in distant lands such as Afghanistan or Pakistan, have made life tough for security agencies. One wrong step and their prosecutions are blown sky high.
In Australia, the AFP is faced with the more acute dilemma of trying to balance public safety with the need to secure convictions. When it discovers a terrorist plot, does it risk public safety and sit on the evidence until it compiles enough to guarantee a conviction? Or does it make early arrests to foil the plot knowing that it may not have enough evidence to secure a conviction?
Civil libertarians will argue that in the case of Thomas, justice has now been served, and that this has been a prime example of bully-boy security agencies abusing their new powers.
But if too many obstacles are placed before our security agencies, there is a danger that terrorists will end up winning.
Friday, August 18, 2006
- In 1978 France was the only country in the world that offered warm and sympathetic political refuge to the spiritual leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini. Nevertheless, in 1986, a series of terror attacks in the heart of Paris killed and wounded dozens of people. Behind the attacks was Hizballah operative Anis Nakash. After he was arrested and sentenced to life in prison, he was released by the French in a shameful prisoner exchange with Iran. From his hiding place in Beirut, Nakash has called for attacks on the international force to be stationed in southern Lebanon.
- French Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy declared during a recent visit to Beirut that: "Iran constitutes a stabilizing force in the Middle East and it should be taken into account and included in any arrangement for restoring quiet to our region." This was followed by a strange and incomprehensible meeting with the Iranian foreign minister in Beirut. It comes as no surprise that in a Le Monde interview on August 12, 2006, Douste-Blazy said the purpose of the enlarged UNIFIL in southern Lebanon would not include the disarming of Hizballah by force.
- Recently, French Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini has commanded the UNIFIL force. Hizballah fortified its positions and brought in huge quantities of weapons and ammunition right under his nose. Did he warn of the arming of Hizballah by Iran and Syria? Did he prevent the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers? In any multinational force, France will not take upon itself the task of disarming Hizballah. Indeed, Gen. Pellegrini said on August 15 that his peacekeeping force will not attempt to disarm Hizballah.
- Regarding Lebanon, then, we know what to expect of Paris. Moreover, the growing influence of France's Muslim immigrants plays a substantial part in its policy. Less than a year before its presidential elections, France is in a trap with no way out.
...a detailed analysis follows [follow the link for the full article].
....Europe's helplessness as a united and consolidated political body does not work in Israel's favor in the struggle against international terrorism. Europe plays a significant role in formulating global policy, particularly in the Middle East. It is a partner to all the peace processes and stands behind fateful decisions in UN institutions and international forums. Its economic and political power is not to be dismissed. Undoubtedly, the values of the European Union strengthen democracy and universal values, and Israel and the EU need each other. The dependency on the Europeans is reciprocal, and its leaders are aware of Israel's unquestionable importance on all the military and political issues.
At the same time, when discussing fateful decisions for our future, Israel must safeguard its assets and be vigilant until Europe becomes capable of pursuing a balanced policy and formulating a policy horizon that is clear from the start.
* * *
Ambassador Freddy Eytan, a former Foreign Ministry senior advisor who served in Israel's embassies in Paris and in Brussels, was Israel's first Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. He heads the Jerusalem Center's Israel-Europe Project, focusing on presenting Israel's case in the countries of Europe. His books include La Poudriere (The Powder Keg) (1991), Shimon Peres - Biographie (1996), Keren Or (Ray of Light) (2004), France: Le Double Jeu (Double Game) (2004), and Sharon, A Life in Times of Turmoil (English and French, 2006).
Time has come for Arab Israelis to decide where their loyalties lie
....The State of Israel is home to a significant population sector whose identity stems from an aspiration to bring about the State of Israel's destruction. This group has succeeded in turning the values of democracy against itself, as a sort of self-destruct mechanism. This group's members accept Israeli citizenship but their loyalty lies with another people.
They support Hizbullah and Hamas, but are willing to receive medical treatment and social insurance payments from the State when they're hurt in attacks by the very same terror groups. They take part in elections but send to the Knesset members whose job is to undermine it.
The Arab community's elected officials are not the root of the problem, but rather, its display window. The root of the problem is that same father whose two children were killed by a Katyusha rocket in Nazareth, yet he still blamed the government of Israel and characterized Nasrallah as a "great leader" and "dear brother," right before approaching the National Insurance Institute to receive compensation granted to victims of hostile acts.
The country has the right to defend itself and its Jewish-democratic character. A bill I submitted to the Knesset immediately after the elections requires that every citizen, at the time of receiving his or her Israeli identity card, pledge their allegiance to the country as a Jewish and democratic state, to the national anthem, and to the principles outlined in the charter of independence. Also, every Israeli must obligate to perform national service – either military or a civilian alternative. Anyone who refuses to sign such declaration is welcome to remain a permanent resident with full rights, with the exception of the right to elect and be elected.
As to those Knesset members, there's a dual gap – both when it comes to legislation and to enforcing current laws. According to the Basic Law: Knesset, a Knesset candidate whose goals or acts include: A) Rejection of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, B) Racism, C) Support for an armed struggle by an enemy state or a terror organization against the State of Israel, will be barred from running for Knesset.
.....The second bill submitted by the Israel Our Home faction in the last Knesset session is supposed to provide a response to this problem, with a Knesset member who violates those clauses having his term curbed immediately.
Passage of this bill in the coming session would enable (for example) us to kick out of the Knesset MK Wasil Taha, who in an Islamic online chat following the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit at Kerem Shalom, recommended choosing the option of abductions over the killing of civilians, because "this option is more effective."
The relationship between the State of Israel and its minorities is currently at a crossroads. The Arab community must decide where its loyalties lie - to those who are willing to live in the state of the Jews as a loyal minority with full rights and obligations I say "Welcome". To those who tied their fate to that of the Palestinian people I say that this country may be too small for both of us.
MK Avigdor Lieberman is Israel Our Home's chairman
Mission of forming multinational force to help Lebanese army, come between IDF, Hizbullah apparently facing difficulties; France says it will only send 400 troops, Germany says it won't send any troops, other countries in no rush. In meeting held at UN on Thursday night, countries pressured to immediately send force
Following Security Council Resolution 1701 and the commitment to form a multinational force that will consist of thousands of soldiers, it appeared Thursday night that the mission was about to be extremely difficult......
UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown stressed that the force would be well-equipped but not offensive. He called on the countries to immediately send their forces. Another meeting is expected to be held at the United Nations on Monday.
According to Malloch, it would be a strong and well-equipped force with the authority to operate in the desired way in the necessary places. .... The way to solve the problem in the area is diplomatic rather than military, he said....
....The force was meant to help the Lebanese government impose its sovereignty on the territory and impose an arms embargo which will prevent the smuggling of weapons to Hizbullah .
France refused to send a NATO force in which the United States has a commanding post, and this is the reason, according to sources in Washington, that it rushed to present its candidacy to head a multinational force. Now the French are hesitating whether to send forces to Lebanon. French President Jacques Chirac announced that he would only send 400 soldiers to southern Lebanon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she would not send any troops.
Italy, Spain and other countries expressed an interest in sending forces, but have yet to commit to do so. Muslim countries, such as Turkey, Malaysia and others, expressed their interest in sending forces to southern Lebanon, but it is difficult to assume that Israel would agree to the presence of a multinational force comprised mainly of Muslims.
In an effort to save the situation, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke to French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy. A State Department spokesman said the he expected that after the meeting at the UN headquarters, the contribution of each country to the international community's effort would be clearer.
.....The IDF's reserve soldiers have already left the territory, and most of them held summarizing talks on Thursday and were released. Only few remain on the border, prepared for the event of an unexpected incident. Inside Lebanon there are still many forces from the Paratroopers, Nahal and Golani brigades and armor forces. All the forces are a few kilometers away from the border. IDF officials estimated that the last Israeli soldier will leave Lebanon's territory next week....
Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report
Thursday, August 17, 2006
We may be on the verge of the most amazing turnaround regarding the ceasefire in Lebanon organized by the UN Security Council. Consider the following points:
A. Hizballah says that it will not disarm voluntarily ....
B. Lebanon says that it will not disarm Hizballah ...and that it might not send its 15,000 troops into southern Lebanon without Hizballah's cooperation.
C. France, which is leading the national force of 15,000 UNIFIL soldiers ... says that it will not send any troops if Hizballah still has arms in southern Lebanon and the Lebanese army does not arrive there.
D. Israel says that if the Lebanese army does not arrive, it will not leave southern Lebanon.
In short, the whole basis of the ceasefire is on the verge of collapse and it is hard to see how it can be saved.
The reason for this is because Hizballah will not even accept the minimum actions needed to activate the ceasefire. Its motives for this are several:
- Hizballah leaders may believe their own propaganda that they scored a victory in the war. - As usual, given their ideology and practice, they are not interested in making any compromise but believe they can get everything they want.
- They are being prodded toward intransigence by Iran and Syria.
- They have contempt for the West, which they see as a paper tiger, unwilling to take action against them.
Yet, their concept of the situation is quite wrong. If Hizballah provokes a renewal of the fighting, its claims of success could evaporate very quickly. On a military level, they lost the war, despite their public relations successes. .... If the war restarts, Hizballah is going to face far greater pressures, especially since the Israeli government's leaders have already been harshly criticized for going too slowly in the ground offensive.
And that is not all. Hizballah may face a two-front war. Lebanese Christians, Druze, and Sunni Muslims, the majority of the population, are largely angry at how Hizballah dragged their country into a war and is increasingly subjugated it to Iran and Syria.
Even within Hizballah's own Shia constituency, the rival Amal movement is trying to make a comeback by showing Shia Muslims that it provides better services than Hizballah. How are those just returning to southern Lebanon going to feel about the prospect of fleeing again? The Saudis are eager to fund anti-Hizballah forces in Lebanon. There may or may not be another civil war in Lebanon but Hizballah is definitely not becoming more popular there, whatever cheers it receives from those elsewhere in the Arab world who paid no price for the fighting.
And what about the international community? It is not going to be happy about Hizballah, with the help of its Iranian and Syrian backers, wrecking the UN peace effort. It is going to be hard to criticize Israel for taking military action under such conditions.
Everything could turn around very quickly. Given what is happening, this prospect seems pretty possible.
Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center university. ... Prof. Rubin's columns can now be read online at: http://gloria.idc.ac.il/columns/column.html.
The uniqueness of the Holocaust was not the Nazi's determination to kill the Jews of Germany and even of neighboring Poland..... The utter uniqueness of the Holocaust was the Nazi plan to "ingather" all the Jews of the world to the death camp and end the Jewish "race" forever.
It almost succeeded. The Nazis ingathered tens of thousands of Jews (including babies, women, the elderly) from far flung corners of the world--from the Island of Rhodes from Salonika and from other obscure locations -- in order to gas them at Auschwitz and at other death camps.
The official leader of the Palestinian Muslims, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, collaborated in the Nazi genocide, declaring that he sought to "solve the problems of the Jewish element in Palestine and other Arab countries" by employing "the same method" being used "in the Axis countries". Husseini, who spent the war years in Berlin and was later declared a Nazi war criminal at Nuremberg, wrote the following in his memoirs:
Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a manner befitting our national and racial aspirations and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews. The answer I got was: "The Jews are yours."
Husseini planned a death camp for Jews modeled on Auschwitz, to be located in Nablus. He broadcast on Nazi Radio, calling for genocide against all the world's Jews: "kill the Jews wherever you find them--this pleases God, history, and religion." Professor Edward Said has acknowledged that this Nazi collaborator and genocidal anti-Semite "represented the Palestinian Arab consensus" and was "the voice of the Palestinian people." Yasser Arafat referred to Husseini as "our hero."
Never before or since in world history has a tyrannical regime sought to murder all of the members of a particular racial, religious, ethnic or cultural group, regardless of where they live--not until now.
Hezbollah's aim is not to "end the occupation of Palestine," or even to "liberate all of Palestine." Its goal is to kill the world's Jews. Listen to the words of its leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah: "If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide." (NY Times, May 23, 2004, p. 15, section 2, column 1.) Nasrallah is one of the most admired men in the Muslim and Arab world today. Hitler made similar threats in Mein Kampf but they were largely ignored. Nasrallah has a reputation for keeping his promises.
His genocidal goals--to kill all Jews--were proven by two recent statements. He has warned the Arabs and Muslims to leave Haifa so that his rockets can kill only Jews. And he apologized for causing the deaths of three Israeli-Arabs in Nazareth, when a Katuysha struck that religiously mixed Israeli city. Hezbollah also worked hand-in-hand with Argentine neo-Nazis to blow up a Jewish community center, murdering dozens of Jews.
Nasrallah is a modern day Hitler, who currently lacks the capacity to carry out his genocide. But he is an ally of Iran, which will soon have the capacity to kill Israeli's five million Jews. Listen to what the former President of Iran has said about how Iran would use its nuclear weapons: Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president of Iran, has threatened Israel with nuclear destruction, boasting that an attack would kill as many as five million Jews. Rafsanjani estimated that even if Israel retaliated by dropping its own nuclear bombs, Iran would probably lose only fifteen million people, which he said would be a small "sacrifice" from among the billion Muslims in the world.
Now listen to the current President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denies the Nazi Holocaust, but calls for a modern Holocaust that would "wipe Israel off the map."
Despite these anti-Semitic and genocidal threats, some of the hard left admire Nasrallah and his bigoted organization, as well as Iran and its anti-Semitic president. Others do not seem to take his threats seriously. For example, the notorious Jewish anti-Semite Norman Finkelstein has said, "looking back my chief regret is that I wasn't even more forceful in publicly defending Hezbollah against terrorist intimidation and attack."
Finkelstein's hatred of Jews runs so deep that he has actually implied that his own mother, who survived the Nazi Holocaust, may have collaborated with the Nazis. If so collaboration with evil seems to run in the family, because Finkelstein has clearly become a collaborator with Hezbollah anti-Semitism and Nazism. Finkelstein's website is filled with Hezbollah promotion, including breathless reprints of Nasrallah speeches. Noam Chomsky, who works closely with Finkelstein, has said of Finkelstein that he is "a person who can speak with more authority and insight on these topics [Israel and anti-Semitism] than anyone I can think of."
The Iran-Hezbollah axis is the greatest threat to world peace, to Jewish survival, to Western values, and to civilization. Those like Finkelstein, who support Hezbollah, and even those who refuse to fight against this evil, are on the wrong side of history. They are collaborators with Islamofascists -- today's version of Nazism.
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...The long-term strategic consequences of this tragic month-long war are hard to discern. Apart from the tragedy of the civilian deaths on both sides, the war must be provisionally reckoned a messy draw. Israel has not achieved its strategic objectives, although it would be wrong to think that Israel has gained nothing.
Hezbollah's build-up of sophisticated Iranian weapons, its frequent rocket firings into Israel, its murder of Israeli soldiers and, finally, its kidnapping of Israeli soldiers probably meant that it was inevitable that Israel would eventually take some action against Hezbollah.
Israel did not achieve its war aims. Part of the problem with the Israeli action was that its aims were unclear and constantly changing, indeed diminishing as definitive success became less likely.
Israel did not get back its two kidnapped soldiers. It did not destroy Hezbollah as a military force. There was no day of the war, up to and including the last day, when Hezbollah was unable to fire missiles at the civilian population of northern Israel. If Israel wished to remove by force the missile threat, it failed. Similarly, it did not establish effective control over a substantial part of southern Lebanon. This was never an official Israeli war aim but clearly some in Israel's high command wanted to do this.
Nor was Israel able to establish even a temporary control, then hand over to a robust international force with a mandate to disarm Hezbollah. Indeed, the composition and mandate of the new international force remain unclear and are the subject of wrangling in New York.
The final UN Security Council compromise is a weak Chapter Six resolution. In the first instance Israel will accept the deployment of the Lebanese army into southern Lebanon. The Lebanese army neither could nor would disarm Hezbollah under any circumstances.
Therefore, although it will not say this quite publicly, what Israel has really accepted is a political ceasefire with Hezbollah. All of this is not to say that Israel has achieved nothing in this war, although the cost was great.
From Israel's point of view it has significantly damaged Hezbollah as a military force, at least for the moment. It has also re-established the credibility of its deterrent. This is more political than military. It has always been prepared to take tough action in the Palestinian territories. But it has clearly reminded its neighbours that, if provoked, it will respond and that it has the capability of responding with a great deal of firepower.
It has possibly changed the dynamics within Lebanon in that the vast majority of Lebanese now have a strong interest in preventing Hezbollah from attacking Israel in the same way again. Moreover, to some extent it has internationalised the problem of Hezbollah. The presence in Beirut of France's Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, demanding that Hezbollah be disarmed, is a sign of this. Similarly, although whatever international force is assembled will be unlikely to take real military action against Hezbollah, the presence of a force of 15,000 must make some difference. Against that, it must be said that the Unifil force of 2000 has so far made absolutely no difference at all to Hezbollah's militarisation of southern Lebanon.
Israel has also advanced the international consensus that Iran and Syria are state sponsors of terrorism and a huge problem for the international system, such as it is. And, finally, Israel has deepened and somewhat accentuated the broad Arab fear and suspicion of Iran. The effective silence of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia for most of the conflict, and their early condemnation of Hezbollah's actions, is evidence of this.
Against all that, it must be said that Hezbollah is selling itself, and being sold by Tehran and Damascus, as the great victor in this conflict. It is generally true that a guerilla force against a conventional army only has to survive to register a kind of victory.
Much will depend on who wins the political battle of interpreting this war. For all of Hezbollah's Iranian money and social activities among the Shia community, it only registered a minority vote. If Hezbollah is successful in establishing itself in enough Lebanese eyes as the heroic resistance to Israel, it could conceivably improve its electoral position at Lebanon's next election and even end up leading a Lebanese government. This would confront Israel with a situation it hasn't faced for many years: a neighbouring state on its borders committed to the destruction of Israel. The strategic calculus out of recent events is infinitely complex and the balance is by no means clearly positive.
Bush administration acts fast to bring France aboard the Lebanon multinational force, gives Israel tacit go-ahead for air strikes against arms trucks
Washington took two quiet steps to prop up the Siniora government and retrieve the vanishing multinational force ordered by Resolution 1701.
The first was the promise of an air surveillance wing for UNIFIL to keep a watch over South Lebanon and the border crossings into Syria. This has brought France around to consenting to send troops to the expanded international force. UNIFIL was also promised intelligence data gathered by US satellites on military movements in Lebanon. Some 1,700 French troops will be deployed in the first stage. This promise led French defense minister Michele Alliot-Marie to announce Wednesday night that France is willing to lead a new UN presence in Lebanon at least until February, so long as it has a clear mandate, real means and strong powers.
The second step taken by the Bush administration was a quiet go-ahead given by US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to Israel’s Dep. PM Shimon Peres for the Israeli air force to destroy trucks suspected of carrying rockets and other arms from Syria into Lebanon. Siniora agreed to turn a blind eye to this continuing Israeli air activity over Lebanon as he has for Hizballah’s continued armed presence south of the Litani River.
The first elements of the Lebanese army’s 2nd 3rd and 12th Battalions crossed the Qasmiyeh Bridge over the Litani into South Lebanon before midnight Wednesday, August 16.
France has given itself six months to test how the web of undercover accords and understandings between the US and Israel and the Lebanese government and Hizballah are holding up. Only then will Paris decide whether to extend the mandate of its contingent in Lebanon or even boost it.
"Islamic fascists" -- used by President George W. Bush for the conspirators in the alleged trans-Atlantic airline bombing plot -- and references by other prominent figures to "Islamofascism," have been met by protests from Muslims who say the term is an insult to their religion. The meaning and origin of the concept, as well as the legitimacy of complaints about it, have become relevant -- perhaps urgently so.
I admit to a lack of modesty or neutrality about this discussion, since I was, as I will explain, the first Westerner to use the neologism in this context.
In my analysis, as originally put in print directly after the horror of September 11, 2001, Islamofascism refers to use of the faith of Islam as a cover for totalitarian ideology. This radical phenomenon is embodied among Sunni Muslims today by such fundamentalists as the Saudi-financed Wahhabis, the Pakistani jihadists known as Jama'atis, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. In the ranks of Shia Muslims, it is exemplified by Hezbollah in Lebanon and the clique around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran.
Political typologies should make distinctions, rather than confusing them, and Islamofascism is neither a loose nor an improvised concept. It should be employed sparingly and precisely. The indicated movements should be treated as Islamofascist, first, because of their congruence with the defining characteristics of classic fascism, especially in its most historically-significant form -- German National Socialism....
....Go to the full article, which provides a detailed explanation.
As staff at some of the world's most prestigious press organizations effectively take Hezbollah's side in its war with Israel, they inadvertently expose a profound transformation in the logic of warfare.
Some examples of their actions:
• Reuters: Adnan Hajj, a freelance photographer with more than a decade of experience at Reuters, doctored his pictures to make Israeli attacks on Lebanon look more destructive and Lebanese more vulnerable. His embellishments created thicker and darker plumes of smoke from bombing raids and posed the same woman bewailing the loss of her bombed-out residence in three different locations. Reuters fired Mr. Hajj and withdrew 920 of his pictures from its archive. Further research by bloggers uncovered four types of fraudulent pictures by Reuters, all exaggerating Israeli aggressiveness. The bloggers even documented how a Reuters picture was staged.
• The BBC: Editors actively trolled for personal accounts to demonize Israel, posting this request on its news pages: "Do you live in Gaza? Have you been affected by violence in the region? Send us your experiences using the form below. If you are happy to speak to us further please include contact details."
• CNN: An anchor on its international program, Rosemary Church, implied that Israeli forces could shoot down Hezbollah's rockets but chose not to do so when she asked an Israeli spokesman,"Would Israel not be trying to shoot them out of the sky? They have the capability to do that."
• The Washington Post: Similarly, a military affairs reporter, Thomas Ricks, announced on national television that unnamed American military analysts believe that the Israeli government "purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they're being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon." Having one's own people injured, he explained, offers "the moral high ground."
All these press and broadcast activities stem from a perception that taking casualties and looking victimized helps one's standing in the war. Mr. Hajj's distortions, for example, were calculated to injure Israel's image, thereby manufacturing internal dissent, diminishing the country's international standing, and generating pressure on the government to stop its attacks on Lebanon.
But this phenomenon of each side parading its pain and loss inverts the historic order, whereby each side wants to intimidate the enemy by appearing ferocious, relentless, and victorious. ....Proclaiming one's prowess and denigrating the enemy's has been the norm through millennia .... Why have combatants (and their allies in the press) now reversed this age-old and universal pattern, downplaying their own prowess and promoting the enemy's? Because of the unprecedented power enjoyed by America and its allies.
As the historian Paul Kennedy explained in 2002,"In military terms there is only one player on the field that counts." Looking back in time, he said,"Nothing has ever existed like this disparity of power; nothing." And Israel, both as a regional power in its own right and as a close ally of Washington, enjoys a parallel preponderance vis-à-vis Hezbollah. Such power implies that, when West fights non-West, the outcome on the battlefield is a given.
That settled in advance, the fighting is seen more like a police raid than traditional warfare. As in a police raid, modern wars are judged by their legality, the duration of hostilities, the proportionality of force, the severity of casualties, and the extent of economic and environmental damage. These are all debatable issues, and debated they are, to the point that the Clausewitzian center of gravity has moved from the battlefield to the opeds and talking heads. How war is perceived has as much importance as how it actually is fought.
This new reality implies that Western governments, whether America in Iraq or Israel in Lebanon, need to see public relations as part of their strategy. Hezbollah has adapted to this new fact of life, but those governments have not.
Mr. Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and author of "Miniatures" (Transaction Publishers).
President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah are all declaring victory. They can't all be right. Many Israelis and outside observers seem to agree with Assad and Nasrallah that Israel lost.
Yet whether the war was a defeat for Israel depends not just on the war itself, but on who wins the peace. If we - the US, Europe and Israel - give up on the aftermath, defeat is a certainty. But why should we give up?
The other side is certainly losing no time in fighting to shape the peace. On Tuesday, Nasrallah announced that Hizbullah would not disarm, and Assad openly defended the Islamist organization, claiming, "The resistance is necessary as much as it is natural and legitimate."
Lebanon's Defense Minister Elias Murr, while sending 15,000 troops southward, said, "The army is not going to the south to strip Hizbullah of weapons and do the work Israel did not." The Lebanese government is reportedly going to allow Hizbullah to keep "hidden weapons" in the south.
Contradicting his own statements and the reported agreement regarding hidden weapons, Murr also said, "The resistance is cooperating to the utmost level so that as soon as the Lebanese army arrives in the south there will be no weapons but those of the army."
Finally, the commander of UNIFIL, French Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini, made a mockery of himself and his force when he told the BBC that if he saw the IDF and Hizbullah fighting he would "beg" them to stop.
Given all this, it is hardly surprising that Bush's and Olmert's insistence that we are on track to disarming Hizbullah and creating a new reality is being met with widespread ridicule. If nothing changes, such defeatism will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The US, Europe, and Israel, however, need not stand by helplessly as UN Security Council Resolution 1701 becomes a dead letter before the ink has dried.
Before the war, the European Union steadfastly rejected American and Israeli requests to place Hizbullah on its terrorist list. Even during the war, on August 1, as Hizbullah was bombarding Israeli civilians night and day, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, responded to a letter from 213 members of the US Congress urging the union to change its position by saying: "Given the sensitive situation, I don't think this is something we will be acting on now."
If the EU does not want to see Lebanon once again become a pawn of Hizbullah and Iran, counting down to the next war, now would be a good time to change its position. The EU should immediately say to Lebanon that if Hizbullah is not disarmed, the EU will regard it as a terrorist organization, and regard Lebanon as country that supports terrorism for refusing to disarm it.
Similarly, Iran and Syria are openly expressing support for Hizbullah and opposition to its disarmament. The US and the EU must quickly state that they will seek sanctions against these countries for supporting terrorism and violating Lebanon's independence.
The UN rightly took Syria's assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri seriously. It appointed an investigator, and took action when the investigation clearly implicated the Syrian regime. A tougher approach should be taken toward the continuing Syrian/Iranian arming of Hizbullah. As important as the assassination of a former prime minister is, it pales beside the consequences for Lebanon and the region should Hizbullah be allowed to rebuild its arsenal, or even to retain the arms currently in its possession.
The UN, therefore, should launch a full investigation of the Syrian/Iranian arming of Hizbullah, similar to the investigation into the Hariri assassination. The results should be linked to sanctions against these two nations, until such time as this international aggression is stopped.
To help force the UN's hand, Israel should send an ultimatum backed by force to Syria to stop its support for anti-Israeli terrorism, similar to the Turkish ultimatum to Syria to stop arming the PKK - as proposed by Efraim Inbar ...
The skeptics assume that none of this will happen. Past behavior gives every reason to believe they will be proven right. Why, though, must the West blindly repeat its mistakes? We do know this: If Bush and Olmert do not even attempt to leverage the obvious lessons of this war to dramatically change UN and European policy, their claims of victory stand no chance of becoming reality and recent bloody history will, at best, repeat itself.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Nasrallah is transferring his entire fighting force from northern Lebanon to the South
The rockets and guns were silent up to Wednesday, Day 3 of the ceasefire – although Tuesday, Israeli troops shot at 5 Hizballah fighters in two separate incidents, killing at least three. However, the swelling numbers of returning Hizballah fighters with their families are jamming the roads south – also blocking the deployment of the 15,000-strong Lebanese force ordered by UN SC resolution 1701 to take over the South and disarm Hizballah. The Hizballah are moving back into their still undamaged bunkers and fortified civilian dwellings opposite the Israeli border.
Therefore, while thousands of displaced people in Israel and Lebanon headed back to their ravaged homes, DEBKAfile’s military sources report trepidation about the durability of the ceasefire which Israel declared Monday morning. Everyone is talking about the inevitability of a second round. Hours after the ceasefire went into effect Monday morning, 6 Hizballah fighters were shot dead in three incidents with Israeli troops. Israeli forces inside Lebanon will hold their positions until a strengthened international force and the Lebanese army take over. The discharge of reservists called up for the war begins at the end of the week although the Lebanese defense minister promised to move his men into position by then only north of the Litani. Northern Israelis towns and farms face immense reconstruction and recovery projects after Hizballah’s 33-day rocket blitz. (Picture of Nahariya hospital) After the ceasefire Monday, Hizballah staged victory celebrations in Beirut, while its leader, Hassan Nasrallah proclaimed a “historic and strategic victory” over Israel. Hizballah fighters in uniform directed the traffic in Beirut and took up police duties. Nasrallah also promised his men would help repair destroyed villages in the south.
From DEBKAfileAugust 16, 2006, 9:33 AM (GMT+02:00):
Lebanese units plan to deploy north of the Litani Wednesday and start moving south Thursday – provided PM Siniora clinches a deal with Hizballah’s Nasrallah
They are discussing the juxtaposition between Lebanese and Hizballah deployments in the south and along the borders with Syria, on the assumption -which the Israeli government refuses to acknowledge: the beefed up UNIFIL force is a non-starter. Only three Muslim nations have offered contingents, Indonesia, Malaysia and Morocco. The main component from France is no longer in the running, as French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy informed Beirut Tuesday. Other countries dropped out too after learning that Fouad Siniora will neither disarm Hizballah nor end its presence in the south, having bowed to Nasrallah’s threats.
However hard Ehud Olmert tries to spin it, the U.N. ceasefire that began yesterday is a disaster for Israel and for the war on terrorism generally.
With an unprecedented green light from Washington to do whatever necessary to uproot the Iranian front line against Israel, and with a level of national unity and willingness to sacrifice unseen here since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, our leaders squandered weeks restraining the army and fighting a pretend war. Only in the two days before the ceasefire was the army finally given the go-ahead to fight a real war.
But, by then, the U.N. resolution had codified the terms of Israel's defeat. The resolution doesn't require the immediate return of our kidnapped soldiers, but does urgently place the Shebaa Farms on the international agenda--as if the Lebanese jihadists fired some 4,000 rockets at the Israeli homefront over the fate of a bare mountain that the United Nations concluded in 1967 belonged not to Lebanon but Syria.
Worst of all, it once again entrusts the security of Israel's northern border to the inept unifil. As one outraged TV anchor put it, Israeli towns were exposed to the worst attacks since the nation's founding, a million residents of the Galilee fled or sat in shelters for a month, more than 150 Israeli civilians and soldiers were killed along with nearly a thousand Lebanese--all in order to ensure the return of U.N. peacekeepers to southern Lebanon.
This is a nation whose heart has been broken: by our failure to uproot the jihadist threat, which will return for another and far more deadly round; by the economic devastation of the Galilee and of a neighboring land we didn't want to attack; by the heroism of our soldiers and the hesitations of our politicians; by the young men buried and crippled in a war we prevented ourselves from winning; by foreign journalists who can't tell the difference between good and evil; by European leaders who equate an army that tries to avoid civilian causalities with a terrorist group that revels in them; by a United Nations that questions Israel's right to defend itself; and by growing voices on the left who question Israel's right to exist at all.
At least some of the disasters of the past weeks were self-inflicted. We forfeited the public relations battle that was, in part, Israel's to lose. How is it possible that we failed to explain the justness of a war fought against a genocidal enemy who attacked us across our U.N.-sanctioned international border? It's hard to remember now, but we began this war with the sympathy of a large part of the international community. Some Arab leaders, for the first time in the history of the Middle East conflict, actually blamed other Arabs for initiating hostilities with Israel. That response came when Israel seemed determined to defeat Hezbollah; but, as the weeks dragged on and Hezbollah appeared to be winning, moderate Arabs adjusted accordingly. They didn't switch sides because we were fighting too assertively but because we weren't fighting assertively enough.
Even before the shooting stopped, the reckoning here had already begun. There are widespread expectations of dismissals for senior military commanders who--when finally given the chance to end the Hezbollah threat they had been warning about for almost 25 years--couldn't implement a creative battle plan. But demands for accountability won't be confined to the army alone. Journalist Ari Shavit .... wrote a front-page article in Haaretz calling for Olmert's resignation. And that is only the opening shot. Even Maariv's Ben Caspit, one of Israel's most pro-Olmert journalists, published an imaginary Olmert speech of apology to the nation. A cartoon in Maariv showed Olmert as a boy playing with a yo-yo inscribed with israel defense forces. None of Israel's wars was ever fought with greater micromanagement by a government, and no government was ever less qualified to manage a war as this one. Just as the post-Yom Kippur War period destroyed military and political careers and eventually led to the collapse of the Labor Party's hegemony, so will the post-Lebanon period end careers and perhaps even the short-lived Kadima Party experiment.
A long list of reckonings awaits the Israeli public. There's the scandal of the government's abandonment of tens of thousands of poor Israelis who lacked the means to escape the north and were confined for weeks in public shelters, their needs largely tended to by volunteers. There's the growing bitterness between Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis, many of whom supported Hezbollah in a war most Jews saw as an existential attack on the state. And there's the emergency need to resurrect the military reserves, which have been so neglected that a majority of men over 21 don't even serve anymore and those that do tend to feel like suckers.
....But the last month's fighting is only one battle in the jihadist war against Israel's homefront that began with the second intifada in September 2000. Israel won the first phase of that war, the four years of suicide bombings that lasted until 2004. Now, in the second phase, we've lost the battle against the rockets. But the qualities this heartbreak has revealed --unity and sacrifice and faith in the justness of our cause--will ensure our eventual victory in the next, inevitable, bitter round. Such is the nature of consolation in Israel in the summer of 2006.
Yossi Klein Halevi is a foreign correspondent for The New Republic and senior fellow of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.
A poll, conducted by 'Yedioth Aharonoth' and Mina TZemach, published Wednesday morning, demonstrates a continued decrease of public support of Israel's military and political leadership. Almost two-thirds of the public (63 percent) are reasonably certain that Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, did not do his job properly, compared to only 36 percent who thought that he functioned well.
Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, was also criticized - 51 percent of the public think that he dealt with the conflict badly, as opposed to 47 percent who think that he carried it out well. And what of the Chief of General Staff, a day after news of his stock portfolio hit the airwaves? 49 percent of the public support his handling of the war, as opposed to 47 percent who think that he functioned inadequately.
In contrast, public support for IDF soldiers and commanders was sky high. In comparison to a paltry 14 percent who praised the government's conduct during the war, 94 percent of those surveyed expressed approbation for IDF troops.
Regarding personal responsibility for the outcome of the war, Defense Minister Peretz receives the brunt of the censure. More than half of those surveyed (57 percent) think that Peretz needs to resign, as opposed to 41 percent calling for Olmert's resignation and 42 percent desiring to dismiss the Chief of General Staff.
The survey illustrates not only the public's criticism of its leadership, but also their desire to assign accountability for the failures of the war: 69 percent believe in the need to create an official national inquiry committee regarding the handling of the war among the political and military echelons. Only 28 percent do not think such a committee is necessary, indicating that the IDF's suggestion on Tuesday – an internal investigative committee led by an IDF officer – is not satisfactory for the majority of the public.
Despite Olmert's decisive victory speech at the end of the conflict, it seems that the public's view of the matter is not as clear cut. Opinions were distributed evenly: 30 percent of Israelis agree with the prime minister, while the same number label Hizbullah as the winner. However, more than a third of those surveyed (36 percent) believe that no one won the war.
The poll also examined the public's satisfaction with the outcomes of the conflict, in particular the ceasefire deal, which left the question of the kidnapped soldiers unanswered. Seventy percent of the public think that Israel should not have agreed to a ceasefire fire without the soldiers' return, in contrast to 27 percent who believe that accepting the ceasefire was the correct decision.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
A compromise agreement now being hammered out between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government would allow the Shi'ite guerillas to keep hidden weapons in south Lebanon, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Tuesday. While Hezbollah would need to keep the weapons it possesses south of the Litani River hidden, an agreement for areas north of the river would be "left to a long term solution," the paper reported.
If the proposed compromise is accepted Tuesday by the Lebanese government, it would violate the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 ending the war in Lebanon. The resolution rules that the Lebanese army and UNIFIL may be the only armed forces in the territory between the Litani River south to the Israeli border.
This compromise is also a violation of the "one weapon" principle that appears in Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora's Seven Points Plan.
... Lebanon's Defense Minister Elias Murr said the Lebanese army would send 15,000 troops to the north of the Litani River around the end of the week, ready to enter the southern border area. But he said the army would not be disarming Hezbollah, who have controlled the area for six years. "The army is not going to the south to strip Hezbollah of weapons and do the work Israel did not," he told LBC Television."The resistance is cooperating to the utmost level so that as soon as the Lebanese army arrives in the south there will be no weapons but those of the army." ....
IF ONLY Israel were as effective at public relations as at military operations, the results of the conflict on and around its border with Lebanon would be so much starker. As it is, however, the real meaning of the UN resolution that will start to come into force today is being widely misrepresented. Hezbollah is hailing a “victory” of sorts....
What, after all, does this Hezbollah claim consist of? The organisation considers it a triumph that it has not been completely “destroyed” after just four weeks of fighting. It contrasts this with the dismal record of several Arab armies combined in 1967. It has not yet been disarmed and may not be formally neutralised in the near future. Nor has it been discredited on the Arab street, where it has enhanced its popularity. The Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrullah, thus proclaims himself a “new Nasser”.
As victories rank, not being destroyed, disarmed or discredited is not that impressive. .... The idea that the Six-Day War represents the military standard for the Arab world is a somewhat humiliating notion. Allowing for the feeble record of the original Nasser, Israelis should not be too disturbed by the prospect of another incarnation. Nor was the Arab street that equivocal about Israel’s existence before these clashes started.
The facts now evident on the ground suggest an entirely different assessment.
First, the damage inflicted by the Israeli Defence Forces on Hezbollah’s infrastructure and resources is far, far greater than the equivalent harm that it has suffered. A sizeable proportion of Hezbollah rocket launchers and fighters have been eliminated, while the Israeli army has lost no more than a few tanks and, to its regret, about 100 soldiers. For a body that is used to incessant combat, this is not a spectacular setback.
Secondly, Hezbollah has deployed a huge percentage of its missile arsenal to very little advantage. Only in the Alice in Wonderland world of the Middle East could it be seen as a “triumph” for a terrorist organisation simply to launch Katyusha missiles in the direction of Israel and roughly 95 per cent of them to hit nothing of any value. It took Hezbollah six years to accumulate a stockpile that, fundamentally, it has wasted.
Thirdly, the administration in Lebanon, which had ostentatiously refused to send its soldiers to the south of that country for the past six years, has been obliged to pledge to the United Nations that it will now do so. It will, furthermore, be under the de facto control of a much larger international force than has been assembled in that region before — one that will be judged a success or otherwise by the extent to which it keeps the place quiet.
The wider strategic consequences of these recent events are yet more significant. Hezbollah was, until July 11, a problem exclusively for Israel. That dilemma has been internationalised. It is now of paramount importance to the Lebanese Government and the UN Security Council. If Lebanon’s troops cannot pacify Hezbollah then ministers there well know that Israel’s air force will be back over Beirut. The UN will come to appreciate that if it cannot maintain the peace this will be because Hezbollah has broken the ceasefire that the Security Council imposed, and its own authority will be endangered. This is an important breakthrough for Israel. If Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister, had been told six weeks ago that Hezbollah would cease to be the principal militia in southern Lebanon by the beginning of September he wouldn’t have believed it possible.
....The final dimension to this saga may, nevertheless, prove the most compelling. The past few weeks have exposed Iran’s pivotal role as the political patron of terrorism as well as the audacity and extent of its ambitions to shape Islam in its image. None of this has taken Israel by surprise. It has been a severe blow to Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Jews constitute no threat to mainstream Sunni Islam. The Shia challenge is another matter. Once the crocodile tears for Lebanon have dried up (which will take a month at most) and the mood on the Arab street has moved on (which will not take much longer), it will become obvious to Sunni regimes that Israel is an ally against Iran. The rhetoric directed against Israel will not abate, but it will be increasingly irrelevant.
That Lebanese civilians with no connection to terrorism have died while all this has occurred is a tragedy of the highest order. Israel relied too much on air power at the start of these exchanges and allowed its opponents a propaganda opportunity. Yet, in the end, Israel’s survival does not depend on Arab “hearts and minds” or opinions expressed by television viewers who live many thousands of miles away. It relies instead on winning crucial battles. If this is a “defeat”, then Israel can afford many similar outcomes.
The goal of U.S. diplomacy in the Israel–Lebanon conflict has always been to lock in Israel’s military gains. With Friday’s resolution, the U.S. achieved that goal. It’s just that the Israeli military gains have been maddeningly elusive, so the diplomatic deal is correspondingly lackluster. While Israel’s campaign surely damaged Hezbollah, it also caused strategically counterproductive destruction in Lebanon and never succeeded in expelling Hezbollah from the south of the country.
It was the hope of Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert that U.S. diplomacy would deliver what the IDF either could not accomplish or wasn’t permitted to attempt. That was always a forlorn hope, although he can point to elements of the ceasefire deal that vindicate it on paper. An arms embargo will notionally cut Hezbollah off from resupply. The Lebanese army is supposed to move into the south, take it over from Hezbollah, and establish the Lebanese government’s sovereignty there. A U.N. force, beefed up in terms of both numbers and its mandate, is charged with backing up the Lebanese army.
All this will probably lead to a marginally improved situation in southern Lebanon for the time being, since Hezbollah’s infrastructure and heavy arms there have been hit hard. There previously hadn’t even been an attempt to cut off Hezbollah’s supply lines or to extend the sovereignty of the Lebanese government to the south. Now there will at least be an effort, although probably an ineffectual one.
In the final tussling over the resolution, Israel insisted that there be no “vacuum” between the exit of its forces and the arrival of an international force, as such a vacuum could be exploited by Hezbollah to return to the south. But since Hezbollah was never fully pushed from the area, it is going to be there, vacuum or not. The Lebanese army, a pathetic rust-bucket riven by sectarian tensions, isn’t going to seriously challenge Hezbollah. It’s not clear at the moment whether it even has the capability to transport itself to the south, and in recent weeks it has been evident that Hezbollah is in a position to dictate to the Lebanese government, not the other way around. Nor will the international force threaten Hezbollah, even if its mandate is exceedingly ambitious by milquetoast U.N. standards. Over time, as the sense of urgency behind its mission declines, it will surely begin to look more and more like the old accommodationist UNIFIL force.
Hezbollah has a crucial advantage over any competitors for ultimate control of the south — not just the legitimacy that comes with the support of the Shia population, but the sheer will that motivates it to fight and die for its cause. Are French and Italian troops willing to die for the enforcement of Resolution 1559, calling for the disarming of Hezbollah? To ask the question is to answer it. In theory, an international force could police Lebanon, but that would require a tough-mindedness and a willingness to sacrifice that aren’t on offer.
The problem of southern Lebanon represents in microcosm much of what the War on Terror is meant to defeat or resist. The region is beyond the control of any national government, and has been filled by an organization with a radical interpretation of Islam and a taste for terrorist tactics. But the only thing the world was willing to do about it was look the other way while Israel fought Hezbollah — or, rather, look the other way for a brief spell before insisting that Israel stop.
The Bush administration gave Israel more running room than anyone else, and was amazingly stalwart by the standards of former U.S. administrations. We would have preferred that Israel be given even more time. But there were legitimate fears about the Lebanese government’s falling, and it was understandable that the administration’s patience with the incoherence of the Israeli military campaign and the indecisiveness of Olmert ran out. The IDF’s dash to the Litani River should have been the opening gambit in its fight against Hezbollah rather than an hours-before-the-ceasefire afterthought.
Hezbollah will have much rebuilding to do, and for a while will find it harder to operate. But it emerges from the conflict a winner. It scores an incalculable propaganda victory by having successfully stood up to Israel, and enjoys a surge of support from the Lebanese reaction against the Israeli bombing campaign. It lives to fight another day — and fight it will. Its patrons, Syria and Iran, can only be delighted. In addition to winning in Lebanon, Iran has the upper hand both in Iraq and in the contest over whether it will be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. If current trends continue, the Bush administration’s project in the Middle East will require the same sort of expedient we have just seen in the Israel–Lebanon conflict: a papering over of what is essentially a failure.
Hizballah is filtering reinforcements into South Lebanon among returning refugees. They are taking up positions in the still undamaged bunkers and fortified civilian dwellings
Therefore, although the rockets and guns were silent up to Monday night and thousands of displaced people in Israel and Lebanon headed for their ravaged homes, DEBKAfile’s military sources report trepidation about the durability of the ceasefire. The tense calm was marred only by three incidents in which Israeli troops shot Hizballah fighters making threatening approaches after Israel ordered its ground, air, artillery and naval forces to hold their fire at 0800 Monday Aug. 14 – unless threatened.
Northern Israelis came out of their bomb shelters after 33 days, South Lebanese cars clogged roads heading south from Beirut Monday morning. Both met scenes of destruction. After night fell, Hizballah staged victory celebrations in Beirut, while its leader, Hassan Nasrallah proclaimed a “historic and strategic victory” over Israel.
The IDF’s northern command watching the thousands of displaced Lebanese flocking to their homes feared they would be used as cover for Hizballah to exploit the ceasefire for reinforcing its depleted South Lebanese forces. By afternoon, their fears were realized: cars loaded with Hizballah fighters, boxes of guns and military equipment were clearly visible heading south. Israeli troops were not authorized to stop them. DEBKAfile quotes a senior military source as saying that Hizballah is making a mockery of the ceasefire which Israel honored. “The situation is dangerous,” he said, Most of Hizballah’s fortifications, including its bunker network in the south, were not destroyed as reported. Fresh Hizballah strength is now heading back to man those war stations anew.
Earlier Monday, Lebanon’s Shiite parliament speaker Nabih Berrir asked for 48 hours to persuade Hassan Nasrallah to accept a new proposal for Hizballah forces to remain in the south with their arms as an auxiliary force attached to the Lebanese army units to be deployed south of the Litani River.
Israeli troops inside Lebanon will hold their positions until a strengthened international force and the Lebanese army are able to take over.
Reserve troops who fought in Lebanon urge government to continue operations until abducted soldiers released
Reserve soldiers called up by the army to join the fighting in Lebanon began Monday to circulate a petition where they protest the fact abducted IDF soldiers in Lebanon have not yet been released. The troops, who are just outside Lebanon at this time, already managed to get hundreds of signatures on the petition.
... The petition reads: "We, reserve soldiers who were called up for emergency duty, view with severity the acceptance of the ceasefire agreement in its current format, as a result of the abandonment of the abducted soldiers. We regret the fact that the fog of battle blurred the original war objectives we were enlisted for and the IDF values we were educated on. We're determined to complete the mission until the return of the abducted soldiers."
.... Itzik Ben-Naim, one of the troops who signed the petition, said: "We won't leave two of our comrades inside (Lebanon.) We didn't come to fight for the sake of playing. We didn't come to make fools of ourselves." Ben-Naim, who saw a member of his regiment killed in battle, added the petition was not a political one. "People are frustrated because the objectives were dissolved. It's important that we continue even just so the abductees' families know the soldiers haven't forgotten the values they were educated on."
Ilan Marciano contributed to the report
Army announces return to normalcy in northern Israel following truce declaration; factories in area to operate in accordance with safety guidelines and with Home Front Command authorization; total of 3,790 rockets landed in northern communities during war
Following a security assessment the IDF Home Front Command announced Monday that northern Israel communities may return to routine but refrain from holding youth activities and summer camps. Factories in the area will operate in accordance with safety guidelines and with
Police data shows that during the 34 days of fighting a total of 3,790 rockets landed in northern communities, including 907 that landed in urban areas. The barrages hurt a total of 2,015 people, including 52 Israelis that died in the attacks. At this time, 40 of those wounded are in serious condition, 59 suffer from moderate wounds, 549 are lightly injured, and the rest suffered from shock. The data shows most rockets landed between 3 and 4 p.m.
The northern town of Kiryat Shmona and its vicinity sustained most of the damage, with a total of 1,012 rockets landing there. Another 808 rockets landed in the Nahariya region....
Sharon Roffe-Ofir contributed to this report
The UN Security Council ceasefire resolution is not so bad in theory but everything will depend on how it is implemented--and there are some very big problems on that front. There are two basic parts of the resolution. The introductory ("PP") paragraphs, which set out the framework for interpreting it, and the operational paragraphs ("OP"). Every word is carefully chosen, often fought over by American and French diplomats, and has significance.
In the opening section, there are a number of points that fit the original U.S. conception and are fair to Israel:
- The war and resulting deaths are blamed on Hizballah attacking Israel (PP-2).
- The purpose of the ceasefire is defined as not only ending the current fighting but changing the situation, which brought about the conflict (PP-3).
- Israel's soldiers must be released unconditionally, but since this is only included in the preparatory and not the operating section it could be argued that this point will be downplayed or forgotten by the UN (PP-3).
- The goal is to have a long-term, permanent solution to the problem (PP-9).
Four other provisions are intended to meet Lebanese demands but are not necessarily very much inimical to Israel:
- The issue of the three Lebanese prisoners is to be "settled." This does not mean they will be freed. It is a sign of the depravity of the present world that the UN has to have a resolution about the fate of three murdering terrorists--one of whom killed a father in front of his son and then shot the child dead--convicted in a properly constituted court. But again, this issue is merely to be discussed (PP-4).
- Israel's withdrawal is supposed to be at the "earliest possible" time and not immediately as the Lebanese government had demanded (PP-6).
- It takes note of Lebanon's current claim to the Shabaa Farm area but does not accept it. Since the claim is so weak and Syria is unlikely to support it officially, nothing is likely to happen on this issue (PP-7).
- Lebanon will send its army into the southern part of the country (which Israel also wants). The new international force will be called UNIFIL (which Lebanon wanted) but will in effect be an entirely new institution (PP-6). Instead of a small number of observers, it will be up to 15,000 troops.
It is understandable why the United States and Israel agreed to the above wording since, while it doesn't give them everything they want, it is reasonable given what might be expected.
But all of this wording is also only a prelude to the list of things to be done, the OP section. Here, too, the shape of the resolution is not so bad except for whether--given three key problems--it will be implemented properly. The three problems are:
- Hizballah, Iran, and Syria will not cooperate.
- The Lebanese government will be too weak, afraid, and sympathetic to them to force implementation.
- The international community is too craven, ignorant, and cowardly to act toughly. And even if it wanted to do so (see below), it needs the permission of the Lebanese government to do anything much.
The question then is whether the ceasefire will work well enough to be minimally acceptable or not.
Returning to the actual text, however, a number of the original points pushed for by the United States have survived. These included the restriction only on "offensive" Israeli action (OP1). Does this mean Israel could, for example, send planes over Lebanon to hit a Hizballah rocket launcher, which is about to or has just fired? That isn't clear but it is possible.
Moreover, Israel only has to withdraw when the Lebanese army moves in and not, as the Lebanese government wanted, immediately (OP2). On the negative side, though, this means Israeli forces would probably have to leave before the big international force arrives. The longer it takes for international forces to get there, the worse this is.
There are other positive sections: Lebanon to have full sovereignty, there should be no weapons or any other authority in anyone's hands but the government (OP3). Of course, there is no mention of the fact that Hizballah is part of the government coalition, a problem to which we will return in a moment.
The internationally recognized border is to be respected (OP4). International aid is to be given to Lebanon for reconstruction. (It is interesting to ask why no one has ever called for international reconstruction aid for Israel.) And all this should result in a long-term solution (OP8), perhaps a hint that Lebanon should make peace with Israel.
This all brings us to the key provision: "The establishment between the [international border] and the Litani River of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL..." The question, of course, is whether this is going to happen.
A second important point is that no foreign forces--Syrian, Iranian, and Palestinian--will be in Lebanon without government consent. Equally, no arms are supposed to come into Lebanon without government authorization. As UN members, Syria and Iran are being asked to cooperate in this effort, it is a safe bet that they will not do so. Will anyone dare publicly report such behavior, much less do anything about it?
As for disarming Hizballah, this is said to be the government of Lebanon's job (i.e., the international force will do nothing on this issue), and presumably nothing will happen. There were other things that could have been done easily--but were not. For example, there could be an international naval force to inspect ships coming to Lebanon or a unit at the airport to look at cargo planes. Instead, everything is being left in the Lebanese government's questionable hands.
But the central contradiction in the document is between OP11 and OP12. OP11 basically makes UNIFIL action dependent on the Lebanese government asking for help. In other words, only if the government asks UNIFIL to fight against terrorists in southern Lebanon or interdict arms smuggling can it act.
It should be noted that the Lebanese armed forces are a polite fiction. Just as Hizballah is part of the government coalition, it has also deeply infiltrated the army. Half or even more of the soldiers sympathize with Hizballah and will not do anything to--the way they think of it--"protect" Israel from attack. It is not a highly disciplined military with a reliable chain of command. If any Lebanese soldiers fire at Hizballah, the entire army could split into two warring factions, something the government and politicians will want to avoid at any cost. Yet OP12 says UNIFIL can take "all necessary action" in its area of deployment to fulfill its mission. This could be interpreted, for example, to mean that the UNIFIL units will attack terrorists south of the Litani without being explicitly asked to do so by the Lebanese government. Everything depends on who will command UNIFIL and what its rules of engagement are going to be. Will it honestly report violations or just look the other way? Will it only do what the Lebanese government expressly asks or take action to prevent cross-border attacks?
A lot will also depend on what strategy Hizballah adapts--and what Damascus and Tehran urge it to do. There is no chance of Hizballah being destroyed, disarmed or moderated. But it can choose how high a profile it will have.
In a low-profile strategy, Hizballah would rebuild its forces, smuggle in arms to reequip, but basically stay north of the Litani. This would minimize conflict with the ceasefire--though of course they would break its rules--and the Lebanese government and UNIFIL would almost certainly look the other way. Israel would not be happy but could or at least would live with this situation.
In a medium-profile strategy, Hizballah will send men to the south who will live anonymously among the villagers (from whom many of them are recruited any way), organizing underground, and setting up arms caches, tunnels, and other harder-to-spot fortifications. In other words, they would be preparing for the next war. This is a bolder breaking of the ceasefire provisions. Israel would demand action and some might or might not be taken.
Under a high-profile strategy, Hizballah would send units to the south that would function as such, and push to see if the Lebanese army and UNIFIL would react. It might even try cross-border raids and rocket firings, probably under the deniable cover of newly created front groups. If there was no tough response, they would escalate further. Israel might well take military action and the whole ceasefire could collapse.
Thus, the ceasefire agreement is not necessarily a disaster for Israel, though it certainly isn't a solution either. It may provide some years of peace.
For Lebanon, though, it is a political disaster. Certainly, the terms are not going to let a strong Lebanese government emerge or stymie Syrian and Iranian ambitions. It will permit an end to the current war and reconstruction, but only until Hizballah, Damascus, and Tehran decide they want to fight on Lebanese territory again.
Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center university. Prof. Rubin's columns can now be read online at: http://gloria.idc.ac.il/columns/column.html.
Monday, August 14, 2006
It's up to Iran to decide if the resolution will mean true peace
THE UN certainly has form in the Middle East. For almost 30 years, the organisation has attempted to bring peace to Israel's northern border and security to the people of Lebanon, passed countless resolutions, spent millions of dollars on an ineffectual peacekeeping force and achieved almost nothing. This record of failure manifested itself most recently in the present conflict that has over the past four weeks cost more than 1000 lives in fighting between the Jewish state and the terrorist organisation Hezbollah, which has for the past several years treated southern Lebanon as its home base.
The UN's latest attempt at peacemaking, Security Council resolution 1701, provides for a ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel, reiterates its demand for the disarming of militias and calls for the Lebanese Government to reassert itself in the nation's south (as called for by resolution 1559) as Israel withdraws. But aside from saving lives in the short term, it is doubtful it will bring the region any closer to peace.
... Lofty words agreed to at the UN often have precious little application in the real world of the Middle East. Resolution 1701 is in many ways just a rehash of 2004's resolution 1559. ....in promising to pull back so soon after pushing north towards the Litani River, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert threatens to leave Hezbollah's logistical and command and control structures reasonably intact. That they will stay this way was all but confirmed by the Foreign Minister of France - whose troops are expected to lead an expanded UNIFIL mission to southern Lebanon - when he said on Saturday that he did not believe in using force to disarm Hezbollah.
... Given Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's apocalyptic tendencies, his repeated vows to wipe Israel from the face of the map and his nuclear ambitions, it would not be wise to put too much stock in the current ceasefire as a long-term solution to problems in the Middle East. Israel has made clear that its most fervent desire is to be left alone and in peace on its small strip of land on the Mediterranean. It put up with six years of often-fatal harassment by Hezbollah before finally striking back. Time and again it has offered serious settlements to the Palestinian people only to have peace derailed by radicals, the most extreme of whom will not be satisfied until Israel is obliterated. Thus it will always find itself going to war as long as its neighbours refuse to countenance its existence.
Lately, Dr Ahmadinejad has tried to recast himself as less a radical anti-Semite than a necessary counterweight to Western leaders such as George W. Bush. If the Iranian leader was a fraction of the reasonable man he now professes to be, he would call off his dogs in southern Lebanon who make life miserable for so many Muslims, Jews and Christians alike. And the Government in Beirut and people of Lebanon would do everything in their power to take back control of their country.
Lebanese minister Marwan Hamadi accused Hassan Nasrallah Sunday night of reneging on his pledge to abide by the UN ceasefire
Hamadi information minister, a Druze, said Sunday night that Nasrallah had broken his word to order Hizballah fighters south of the Litani to hand in their weapons to allow Lebanese army troops to be deployed there. DEBKAfile reports: Amid heavy fighting across the entire Lebanese front, Israeli field commanders await directives for Monday 0800 hours when the ceasefire deadline goes into force.
Lebanon front commander Maj-Gen Benny Gantz said Sunday night the IDF will honor the ceasefire but also defend its troops and Israeli civilians. DEBKAfile asks: Have they been told to hold their fire in line with Israel’s acceptance of the UN resolution 1701 now that the Lebanese government and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah have backtracked?
DEBKAfile has learned that Tehran has meanwhile ordered Nasrallah to keep Israel engaged in combat for another 3 to 4 [sic]. As a result of which he suddenly backed away from his pledges to France and the Siniora government Saturday to accept a ceasefire and a UNIFIL force in south Lebanon.
Nasrallah said he would wait a month to see how Israel’s retreat from the disputed Shabaa Farms was progressing.
At five minutes notice, the thunderstruck Lebanese ministers called off their meeting to discuss the deployment of their forces in the south and the disarming of Hizballah
Prime minister Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni spent the day explaining that the resolution is good for Israel and praising its unanimous endorsement by the Israeli cabinet Sunday. The PM plans a speech to Knesset Monday lauding the resolution as an Israeli achievement.
This is the situation the night before the ceasefire: Israel says its troops will not be recalled from Lebanon until a beefed up UNIFIL force is in place. However no international peacekeepers will deploy without a Lebanese military presence. That has now been checked by Nasrallah because the Lebanese army chiefs refuse to deploy south of the Litani if Hizballah fighters are armed.
Sunday, Hizballah deployed dozens of its combatants in furious anti-tank missile assaults on IDF tanks and field units along the S. Lebanese front. Fierce clashes raged just north of the Israeli town of Metula and other parts of the former “security strip” on the border. At least 16 Israeli soldiers were injured before noon Sunday.
Sunday, an unprecedented number of rockets – 250 - were also fired into northern Israel by midday. DEBKAfile’s military sources say Hizballah is demonstrating that its ability to subject northern Israel to rocket barrages from S. Lebanon is unimpaired after a month of combat.
Sunday, Israel lost two officers and 3 soldiers in action in South Lebanon. Saturday, 24 men died in battle, including 5 crew aboard a Yasur helicopter that Hizballah shot down.
Also posted on DEBKAFile, August 13, 2006, 10:18 PM (GMT+02:00) ...
Rice calls Lebanese PM to warn him that if the UN Lebanon resolution is not implemented, “We will not be responsible for the consequences”
Earlier, Israeli FM Tzipi Livni put in urgent calls to the US secretary and the French foreign minister in an effort to salvage the ceasefire from Iranian-backed Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s 12th-hour retraction of his consent.