Briefly today: The war in the north continues, with barrages of rockets, civilian injuries, death of soldiers (including two in a helicopter accident). Movement of special operations troops in Lebanon advances; the Shi’ite village of Bint-Jbail, a Hezbollah stronghold, is next.
Today Sec. of State Rice showed up in Beirut and met with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora. She expressed great concern about the situation in Lebanon but still has not pushed for a ceasefire; Tuesday she meets with Israeli officials.
Rice says when a ceasefire agreement is signed, it will be between Lebanon and Israel, as the two sovereign states involved. But we are not fighting Lebanon. And a Lebanese agreement regarding a ceasefire won’t mean a damn to Hezbollah, which Seniora has admitted his army cannot control. So what is this other than diplomatic game playing?
For the record: At this point Israel would be highly unlikely to agree to a ceasefire.
The diplomatic proposal du jour is an international force under the auspices of the UN Security Council. Truth is, there is scrambling to try to figure out how to make this work — to move from the military front to the diplomatic front. But there is no good solution if Hezbollah has not been dismantled!! We are the canary in the mine, doing the dirty work for the world. No one else wants to take on this battle with Iran proxies. And it is difficult to imagine any international force, under any auspices, that will send troops to find hidden Hezbollah rockets and take them out.
The immediate goal then remains taking out as much of Hezbollah as possible. It seems we will have another 10 to 14 days to accomplish what we can. To date, what has been achieved has been insufficient. Hopefully the laser smart bombs will help us remove more of the rockets hidden deep in the bunkers; Minister of Defense Peretz suggests other operations are in the planning as well. There have been hints about utilizing bombing to additionally soften up Hezbollah before a large ground force is sent in, but whether that force will actually go in remains an unknown. There have also been suggestions of a kilometer wide zone of temporary Israeli occupation at the border inside of Lebanon.
Part of what is being analyzed is how far back Hezbollah needs to be pushed in order to no longer be a danger to us. The common wisdom has had it that Hezbollah has to be driven from south Lebanon, to the other side of the Litani River. However, no one is certain of what long-range weapons Hezbollah possesses. What is more, from the perspective of international concern, there can not be a free democratic Lebanon as long as Hezbollah — a radical Shi’ite group — is a major force within the country, threatening to destabilize the area and overwhelm the Sunnis.
Some analysts have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to take on Syria. Professor Efraim Inbar, Director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies, says:
"The time is…ripe for Israel to act…to isolate Hezbollah from its sources of support. An ultimatum should be issued to Syria to cease the transfer of supplies to Hezbollah. If the ultimatum is not taken seriously, Israel should begin bombing the crossing points on the Lebanese-Syrian border and gradually expand its military attacks on Syrian targets. Israel may also decide that the time is also suitable for an attack on the Syrian long-range missile infrastructure, whose threat hovers over most of Israel.
"The correct strategic address is Damascus. Taming Syria is the key to both resolving the Lebanese crisis and to weakening Iran and radical Islamist forces in the region."
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/7/24/posted-july-24-2006.html