Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Why Lebanese war can be neither won nor lost

Hezbolah was organized in 1982 from a coalition of Lebanese Shia clericals, each with his own sphere of influence. Sheih Muhamad Husein Fadula, the principal founder, from the very beginning made a tight relationship with Iran, and, to a lesser degree with Syria the foundation of Hezbolah's prosperity and continuous support. The support hurried up to arrive: financial, military and political – for the acceptable price of Hezbolah leadership answering to the Iranian ayatollahs. It is important to understand that Hezbolah was not created “because of” but rather “for the purpose of”. The situation that permitted creation of Hezbolah was the handiwork of Yasser Arafat that started in Lebanon civil war and gave Syria a reason to "liberate" Lebanon, while in effect occupying it. The reason behind creation of Hezbolah became it's hidden purpose of existence: to establish in Lebanon an Islamic republic answering to Iran. The official goal, designed to garner wide public support and divert attention from it's true intentions (which wouldn't make Lebanese non-Muslims particularly happy) was declared as "resistance to Israeli occupation". “Occupation” can of course mean different things, depending on what is assumed to be occupied. After Israel left south Lebanon in 2000 Hezbolah started to prepare for future confrontation, while keeping the border on low burner with occasional rockets into civilian population. To justify this new status quo an originally Syrian region called the "Shebaa farms" ("mount Dov" on Israeli maps) was declared the yet to be liberated Lebanese territory. As of today, driving Israel out of Lebanon is but the last step on the road to the true goal of the organization: extending the reach of the Iranian regime to the shores of the Mediterranean sea. Meanwhile confrontation with Israel serves Iran well on it's way to the bigger prize. A prize which can in turn serve Iran as a perfect starting point to deliver on Ahmadi-Nejad's promise: the end of what he likes to call "Zionist regime" – Israel.

It is obvious that in the current war in Lebanon Hezbolah will not be destroyed. As to victory, both Israel and Hezbolah are likely to claim it in the end, and both are likely to be wrong. Hezbolah already lost much in men, weapons, real estate e.t.c.. They have also already used up most of their “surprises” prepared for many years, most important of which is the illusion of many in Israel that Hezbolah no longer poses a serious threat. The price of failure of Israeli intelligence with respect to secret bunkers in south Lebanon, secret weapon smuggling routs, Chinese and Russian anti-ship and anti-tank missiles is high but is already paid up. Moreover, this war caused Israeli population and Knesset unite to an unprecedented degree – a very positive development in light of recent rim in the society. On it's part, Israel is not going to gain anything worth the loses. International force, if it enters south Lebanon, is likely to be as useless as the UNIFIL soldiers are today. Hezbolah will stay around in civilian clothes. The threat of missiles will remain as potent as ever: longer range rockets can easily hit Israeli cities even from beyond Litany river, and they regularly will. The kidnapped soldiers will not be returned, forcing Israel to engage in secret negotiations for their return – and for a big price. Most importantly, Hezbolah, the underdog, will have a claim at not being broken by the strongest army in the middle east. The perception of IDF and IAF strength, being even more important then their actual strength in keeping Israel's enemies from charging the borders today, will be damaged. That perception is one hell of a thing to build up, and very easy to loose. Finally, the Lebanon is going to enjoy wide international financial support in rebuilding. Israel will stand alone in rebuilding it's wounded northern cities.

The unlimited resources at Hezbolah's disposal, men and money (including Iran's oil money and Hezbolah's money making machine in South Africa, South America, Lebanon, e.t.c) will not be easily depleted. We must conclude then that destruction of Hezbolah, executed as a separate task, removed from the realities of the Bigger Picture is not only impossible, but more importantly absolutely irrelevant. Such forces such as Syrian Bashar Assad, Iranian Ayatollahs, Al-Kaeda, Hizbalah, and many many others can not be defeated unless we recognize them as part of the same machine. Ignorance of this fact is the main cause of USA's inability to stabilize Afghanistan or Iraq, Israel's failure with Hezbolah in Lebanon, and Fatah and Hamas in Israel itself, or Egypt's failure with Al-Kaeda in Sinai peninsula, and many others. Achieving success in just one of those places is similar to fencing out portion of an ocean. Until the world leaders start thinking big instead of only in terms of their own keep, something that requires a great deal of honesty and courage, the wars will continue, drawing us into an ever bleaker future. There can be no half-hearted victory.


Irina Tsukerman said...

Good post, but I think you might want to add what it was that caused Israel to be in Lebanon in the eighties in the first place, otherwise your readers might get the wrong idea.


Now that the 34 day war on Lebanon is perhaps over, it is imperative to decide who has won. In my view the Israeli war on Iran and Syria which took place on Lebanese soil has a completely different agenda and objectivies. Yes, on one hand we can applaud Hezbollah for not allowing Israel to achieve the declared objectives of war (nobody talks of captured Israeli Soldiers) and congratulate them for winning the war based on tactical and basic assessments or we can see it differently based on the true israeli objectives.

1. Israel's real objective was to test Hezbollah's weaponary and army strength for future plans.

2. Push Hezbollah Off the blue line and replace them with Leabanes and international army to take responsibility so that Katushya missiles raining on Israeli cities may cease.

3. By decimating Hezbolla capability, take the bargaining cards of Iran (nuclear and otherwise) and Syria(Rafik Hariri Assasination).

I think the Israel made the Arab world illusively believe that Hezbollah won this warfor a vital reason to make all arabs and specially Muslims feel proud. Yes, feel proud so that they exhaust all their frustrations and think less and less of any possible immediate revenge, especially after wiping out more than 1,100 civilians from the south and up-rooting more than 500,000 all supporters of Hezbollah.

This feeling will be even greater when Ehud Olmert is out. This feeling will be much more grater George Bush will be a made a Burning Card in his last year of Presidency.

When Arabs focus on the wrong objectives the planners of war are triumphing behind curtains for meeting their true objectives.


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