Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Shape of things ahead

Aug.14 2006
THE ON-AGAIN, OFF-AGAIN clashes between Israaeli soldiers and Hizbollah despite the cease-fire that took effect on Monday following a 32-day Israeli blitz against Lebanon are symptomatic of the difficult days ahead and reflects the fragility of the truce itself. It is a safe bet that more serious Israeli-Hizbollah confrontations would follow and make a mockery of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 even before political pundits figure out who emerged as the "winner" from the lop-sided tug-of-war between the Jewish state and the Lebanese group.
Having withstood the assault and denying victory to Israel, Hizbollah finds itself riding high on a popularity wave.
We also saw that the mighty Israeli military could not protect Israelis from Hizbollah rockets just as Hizbollah could not protect Lebanese from Israeli firepower. The marked difference is that the Israeli military represents a state, a very strong one at that by virtue of the almost unlimited support extended to it by the world's sole superpower, while Hizbollah is political-military group that represents a certain segment of the national society of its country. And that gives Hizbollah the moral authority to claim "divine victory."
The ground for a war of attribution is set in southern Lebanon. Some 10,000 Israeli soldiers remain some 20 kilometres into Lebanon, and Israeli leaders say they would not be pulled out before the deployment of a strengthened UN force, which will not only protect Israel but will also seek to disarm Hizbollah with help from the Lebanese army.
On the other hand, Hizbollah's acceptance of the truce is contingent upon the departure of the last Israeli soldier from Lebanon. Every Israeli soldier found in Lebanese territory is fair game for the group.
Obviously drawing pleasure from the way Israel is behaving like a bewildered animal, Hizbollah would hit at Israeli soldiers, who could even be described as sitting ducks. Hizbollah fighters do not even have to fire their rockets across the border to prove their point.
Israel, unable to pinpoint the enemy, will wildly kick out at Lebanon's infrastructure — whatever is left of water and power stations, bridges and buildings — for every Hizbollah attack since, in Israel's military-driven dictonary, witholding retaliation means nothing but weakness.
What would the result be? A high-intensity guerrilla war.
That is the major flaw in Resolution 1701. In their anxiety to protect Israel's interests and deny everyone else any loophole, the supporters and protectors of the Jewish state overlooked the obvious. They have denied Israel a face-saving opportunity to withdraw its forces from southern Lebanon.