Saturday, September 9

The Aftermath of the War against Hezbollah

These days there is controversy as to whether Israel had achieved its object of defeating Hezbollah. It is very difficult to come out with any positive conclusion as to whether Israel achieved this. The UN enforced a cease-fire on Israel that was premature. Perhaps Hezbollah had gained a Pyrrhic victory. Israel had a very simple goal and that was the prevention of Hezbollah from carrying out aggression on Israeli territory. Israel waged a fierce war against Hezbollah after the guerrilla group carried out a cross-border raid, capturing two Israeli soldiers and killing three others. In the 34-day war, 120 Israeli soldiers and 39 civilians were killed, along with 854 Lebanese, most of them civilians.
Now there is a debate as to whether Israel had conducted the war efficiently or not. There are demands from some Knesset members to the establishment of a Commission of Enquiry into the conduct of the war. It remains to be seen what kind of Commission of Enquiry will be established, if at all, and whose heads will roll as a result.

However, what is clear is that Israeli Intelligence or perhaps the authorities who received information from the Israeli Intelligence Services about Hezbollah’s strength, had failed to act on the information. Since the unilateral Israeli Army pullout from Lebanon in 2000, the Hezbollah saw this as an opportunity to re-arm and threaten Israel’s northern border. They had six years grace in order to build up their strength. Israel was involved in combating severe security problems because of the regular suicide bombings carried out by Palestinian terrorists. This resulted in the Hezbollah threat from Lebanon being put on the back burner.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had imposed three conditions for a ceasefire in Lebanon:

  1. Release of the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers.

  2. Cessation of hostilities by Hezbollah and its disarmament.

  3. The Implementation of UN Resolution 1559.

None of these conditions was implemented and despite that, Israel accepted the cease-fire and the defeat of Hezbollah was not total. Surely, Hezbollah gained time by the cease-fire declaration! The kidnapped soldiers are still in Hezbollah hands and Hezbollah remains armed. Israel dealt Hezbollah a heavy blow but Hezbollah had won a Pyrrhic victory. Lebanon will not disarm Hezbollah. PM Fuad Seniora of Lebanon has no desire to disarm Hezbollah. In this respect, he is in a similar position to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority – weak and ineffectual! Hezbollah has become an integral part of Lebanon and it will remain a formidable foe for Israel in the near and distant future once they have licked their wounds of “quasi-defeat”. Sheik Nasrallah, (whose whereabouts are unknown) is still alive and kicking despite the fact that he has been weakened temporarily. Israel’s deterrent power took a beating by the war against Hezbollah!

The arrival of a multinational force in stages under the auspices of the UN will remain ineffectual and it will be a matter of time before Hezbollah rearms and will renew its threats on Israel militarily as well as verbally. As the multinational troops arrive, Israel will remove its blockade on Lebanon. This will weaken Israel even further. The history of UN troops in the Middle East between Israel and her enemies has never prevented wars or maintained peace. There is nothing to indicate that the situation in the future will be any different from the past. Lebanon is Iran’s military playground and Hezbollah is Iran’s proxy. It may be true that Hezbollah has failed its master, Iran, but this is temporary. Iran will return to the drawing board and work out a new strategy to create instability and widen its influence in the region. Iran will have nuclear weapons in the future. The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinajad, is once again throwing wool in the eyes of the UN by refusing to meet the deadline to cease her nuclear programme. Ahmadinajad was even “blessed” by UN Secretary General, Kofi Anan, with a handshake! He made a “polite request” to Ahmadinajad to cease his country’s nuclear programme. Once again, there is a feeling of déjà vu as history repeats itself, but with different players. Appeasement of the “Hitler of Iran” – Ahmadinajad - by the EU and the UN brings back memories of appeasement of Hitler by PM of Britain, Neville Chamberlain, in 1938 before the Second World War broke out. Appeasement of Ahmadinajad will work in his favor. It will allow him to carry out his dangerous nuclear programme almost without hindrance! Even if the UN declares sanctions against Iran, the chances of sanctions being effective are low.  

Ahmadinajad is a dangerous leader. Much of what he says, including his statements of hate for Israel and the Jews, may be bluster and wild rhetoric. However, dictators of his ilk are a danger to world peace because of their unpredictability. The UN and the EU should take a more aggressive stance towards halting Iran’s nuclear programme.

There will be further cooperation between Palestinian Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria in the future. It would not be surprising if Al Qaeda will also establish terrorist cells in this region and become allies in the common goal of destruction of Israel. While these organizations refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist, fail to negotiate any form of peace settlement and cease hostilities, there will never be peace in the region. For all those who condemn Israel for the destruction of much of Lebanon’s infrastructure and the killing of innocent civilians must bear in mind that the blame for the sufferings of the Lebanese people and the cruel use of children as human shields in this war must be laid at the door of Iran and its proxy – Hezbollah!  


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