Friday, August 04, 2006

Predictions for Lebanon

From the forthcoming September/October 2006 issue of The National Interest, from the 9/11 + 5 symposium contribution of Anthony Sullivan (founder and director of Near East Support Services, a consulting firm focusing on the Arab and Islamic world, a senior fellow for Mediterranean and Near East Programs at The Fund for American Studies, and vice chair of the Board of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy)

The Iranian shadow across the Middle East is long. Iran is already a major power broker in Lebanon, through its control of the Lebanese Hizballah movement. Recently, Hizballah reportedly received a large infusion of military equipment from Iran through Syria including drones, anti-tank and surface-to-surface missiles. These weapons have clearly been used in the long-prepared Hizballah war against Israel. The 12,000 to 20,000 Hizballah missiles pointed southward toward Israel that are capable of reaching at least as far as Haifa confront Israel with a perhaps unprecedented geostrategic problem.

For its part, the Lebanese army is said to have facilitated the delivery of these arms, arguing that Hizballah remains an indigenous resistance movement against Israel. Hizballah apparently has further reinforced its military position in south Lebanon, facing Israel. For example, Hizballah is said to have recently paid handsome compensation to hundreds of homeowners in southern Lebanon, transforming the former homes into “closed bases for Iranian-supplied missiles.” Reports indicate that Hizballah may now have become a “front-line division of the Iranian army.” All of this accounts for the heavy price Israel has paid as a result of its thrust into Lebanon.

As if all this were not enough, a variety of groups are reported now to be arming in Lebanon and creating or recreating their own militias or alternative sources of support. Walid Jumblatt, the leader of the Druze community and a strongly anti-Syrian Lebanese politician, is creating a militia in the Shouf Mountains. Samir Geagea, a veteran Maronite commander in the Lebanese Civil War, is doing the same in north Lebanon. For their part, Saad Hariri, the son of the late Rafik Hariri and a leading Sunni power broker in Beirut, as well as the Lebanese Sunni Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, are said to be now pushing to naturalize and enfranchise all of the 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon in order to ensure that they are political allies. Specifically, and with the support of Saudi Arabia, the Lebanese Sunni leadership is reported to be considering the creation of its own Sunni Palestinian Islamic army to counter the Shi‘i and Iranian challenge in the country. Does a reprise of the Lebanese Civil War loom?

Meanwhile, Syria has now entirely rebuilt its intelligence network in Lebanon so that it will be able to negotiate with America over its future relationship with Lebanon from a position of greater strength than it has now. Simultaneously, Syria is maintaining a steady flow of arms to the Palestinian movements under its influence in Lebanon. It is reported that Syria is counting on its Palestinian allies in Lebanon to instigate strife in the country, should Damascus come under increasing pressure as a result of the investigation of the slaying of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Predictions for Lebeanon:

-Massive aid from Muslim countries
-Massive transfer of SAMs to Hizbollah
-Strengthening of the Iran-Hizbollah-Syria axis
-No foreign force
-No Hizbollah disarmament
-End of Cedar Revolution
-Further erosion of Israel's strategic superiority
-No withdrawals from West Bank
-Continuation of the Judaism-Islam War on all fronts as a war of attrition
This crisis will accelerate departure of Christian Middle class from Lebanon as well as professionals in general; this will have impact of increasing percentages of poor Shiites as overall part of population, meaning that if elections are held on truly democratic lines Hezbollah gains even more power in the future.

The strategic mistake was assuming that holding Lebanon's Middle class hostage would eliminate Hezbollah threat.
Just what US strategic planners never wanted to see happen in Iraq:

"Tens of thousands of Shias marched through the streets of Baghdad chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" on Friday in support for Hezbollah."
Anonymous 1:37 PM

The strategic mistake for US (and for France) has been their attempts at selecting winners and loosers in ME; it failed in Lebeanon (3 times), in Iraq (twice), in Iran (twice) etc.
prediction for Isrel: going to be even more isolated settler state anxiously looking over the wall. end of any sort of effective relations with jordan, egypt, gulf states, morocco.
This cancer must be dealt with right now. Israel is fighting our war, we have to enter this war now.
WW3 is already started, it's war between West and Arabs.
The crisis is winding down: the nascent militia capacity of other sectarian groups will keep Hizballah pacified in its domestic ambitions, but the Christians won't be picking any serious fights. Hizballah's disarmnament has been pushed back another decade, probably. If the West foolishly pushes too hard on this, they will still get nowhere. An agreement with Syria that limits the flow of arms into Hizballah is possible, but not likely due to U.S. attitudes. Not that I'm sure I disagree with them - breaking Syria's hold on Lebanon is much more important than shutting down Hizballah in terms of building a coherent Lebanese state, and building a coherent Lebanese state is the long-term solution to Hizballah.

Hizballah will hopefully be willing to retreat from the border. For a few years. And may choose not to build such an obvious arsenal there in future. That's the best Israel will get from this. If they hold out for more, they have the power to bleed, and to make Lebanon suffer, but not to change the situation further.

Jordan W. '02.
Jordan W.

Why do you care so much about Syria's influence on Lebeanon?

This whole area is of marginal interest to US.

And the geography & demographics gives Syria that power over Lebeanon (they can close their borders and destroy the Lebeanese agriculture-"We are checking for drug smugglers."

And given the demographics of Lebeanon it will be a weak state; US, EU cannot do anything about it.
Genralized peace treaty between Judaism and Islam is the solution to Hizbollah.
Is Our President Understanding? Yes, I think so. President Bush honestly knows that only two things will ever solve this problem in the Mideast countries surrounding Israel!

1) When the Palestinians stop whining, and grow-up and simply declare themselves an independent, sovereign state so that any "incursion" into their sovereign territory shall be considered under international law, an act of aggression and/or provocative act of war. Thus, they will be able to get on with the business of nation-building and live side-by-side with their neighbor, respecting each other's right to exist and prosper by common-interest-cooperation. Many will refuse to "recognize their "right to do so", but so what? All will have to respect it, as it is the very principle upon which their own sovereignty stands.

And 2) When the "Hezbollah" fools realize; that when someone decides to hit you in the face, any excuse will do, and anything that you say, can and will, be used against you. A former Chicago cop once said, "When they pull a knife, you pull a gun, when they send one of your guys to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue!" All the "wise guys" in the world know full-well, that a couple of hundred "civilian fatalities" in any synagogue in Miami, Florida, or any other city in the world on a Saturday morning, would have the U.S. administration immediately “pull the proverbial plug”, and put a permanent stop any to any more fatalities in Beirut or elsewhere in Lebanon. Or if random “Jewish sympathizers suspected of financially supporting the war effort in Israel” were to start suddenly disappearing without a trace around the world, then I think that kind of “defensive tactic” might also prove to be highly effective in securing the same end. But of course, that wouldn't be "fair" now would it? And these are not "wise guys". Far be it from this wise guy to wake anyone up to “the rules of fairness in love and war”.

The sad truth is: These naive men of Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and soon... Iran, don’t “get it”, and they don't realize what is being done to them (hiding under cover of tongue-in-cheek “negotiations for peace and an end to hostilities”, while bombing and shooting living human beings on a daily and nightly basis in broad daylight and with CNN coverage). Of course I realize that any one of those men, women and children who have been killed to-date, was probably being used as a “shield”, and therefore represented “a regrettable but legitimate target”:

The perfect "rhetorical excuse" has been chosen, a "shocking, provocative, multiple-kidnapping". And this has opened the door for Israel to go in and bomb and destroy the lives and infrastructure of its competitive neighbors, all in the name of "defense" and "securing the peace of the region from terrorism". Not to mention the stranglehold on the meaning and definition of words, all sacrificed for the sake of argument and self-justification.

What the Arabs don’t understand, is that to the Israeli’s, words may be used as weapons, and the words of others in opposition, don’t matter, and may be therefore ignored. As any rocket scientist will tell you, “threatening a troop deployment” doesn’t cut a candle to actual troop movement, and standing on a street corner and vowing to "slay 100’s of Israeli’s" in anger and frustration, doesn’t equate to one single action taken in offense against any single person.

The Arabs are fools, and they should either put-up or shut-up! If “they” are wise and serious, then all they have to do; is to immediately stop wasting time, trying to convince the Israeli’s that their “war of self-preservation” is somehow unjust, and immediately sit down in their nonsense “Arab League” and draw-up a Treaty Agreement among themselves. One that simply states; that any invasion/incursion into the sovereign territory of any of the signatures to that treaty is to be considered an Act of War declared upon the entire body. Draw it up, ratify it, be ready to enforce it within the statues of international law, put their troops on active alert, and don’t ask for the United Nations for their “approval”, which could take years of Saville Row suit-wearing, posturing nonsense. I’ll bet that it will take George Bush no more than five minutes to call a halt to this whole damned affair, and order everyone back to their original positions.

It's all just too damned funny... and yet a bit tragic and sad, to watch all of this unfold from a distance. Knowing full well, that not one single "none-news media permitted voice" is going to be heard, that simply states the obvious, that Israel is doing all of this with the full, publicly un-acknowledged, and un-spoken "blessing" of the United States authorities, and that the collective motives and desires transcend the obvious ends to be attained. And that as long as the Arabs don’t call the bluff, and they can be lulled into complacency, by one means or another, maybe, just maybe, enough damage can be inflicted on Lebanon, so that the entire country can be considered a “wasteland buffer-zone standing between Israel and the rest of its enemies”. Now that should make one feel secure in Tel Aviv.

Everyone in the loop of wisdom knows, that as soon as the sufficient "damage is done", and well before this suddenly takes a turn towards "real war"... the plug will be pulled, victory will be declared by all sides, Europe will go back to sleep, (safe and secure in the knowledge that they didn't have to actually "do" anything), the oil-price speculators will be spending their new profits in Paris and Boca Raton, and the region will go back to where it was... say 15-20 years ago... Of course, minus a few thousand, disposable lives, and a damaged infrastructure, (all presenting an attractive new building and facility "investment-opportunity" for some smart investors from Tel Aviv and Los Angeles), requiring new foreign-direct investment capital to begin another construction boom in the region. LOL Michael Brittingham
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