Monday, August 07, 2006

The next "long war"

There's enough independent press sourcing out there to declare this a tough, tough fight for Israel. I want them to win, but they've got a tougher haul than they thought, and perhaps don't realize this yet.

The Times of London:
"A senior Hezbollah figure told me some months ago that the party had been preparing for years for a military confrontation with Israel.

"The day of that confrontation that has now come. Just how effective Hezbollah's preparations have been is epitomised by one of its military positions, a mere 400 yards from the Israeli border.

"For four weeks the Israeli army has been throwing everything at that position, by aircraft and artillery. The Hezbollah group operating there is not being resupplied, and it is under constant bombardment. Yet thanks to whatever they have got stored in their underground ammunition bunkers, they are still hurling missiles into northern Israel.

"The Israelis have now managed to work troops to the north and have the position encircled, and yet still they have been able to carry on. They are either going to have to fight to the last, or try to sneak away at night through little valleys.

"It just shows how thoroughly prepared Hezbollah are. They knew that, come the day, the fighting would be down near the border and there would be no point having vast stockpiles of weapons in their secure areas like the Bekaa valley further north and east.


"Each little squad of fighters - and they vary in numbers from 15 or 20 up to a maximum of about 100 - has ample supplies of rockets and ammunition within close range, and the indications are that they are ready and able to carry on fighting for some time.

"The political and diplomatic signs are that there will be no imminent agreement at the United Nations. While there remains some distinction between the Hezbollah position and the position of the Government of Lebanon, both are in harmony in rejecting the draft UN resolution, saying that it is one-sided in favour of Israel, and that it's a complete non-starter.
It now seems clear that the reporting of Syed Saleem Shahzad at Asia Times Online has been the best journalistic account of the developing Islamic insurgency in Lebanon. His latest:
Suddenly, we heard of some casualties and we ran toward a hospital managed by the Iranian Red Crescent. Apparently four guerrillas had been wounded in air strikes. On their way to hospital they were spotted by the ever-vigilant drones and their car was hit by a bomb right in front of the hospital.

Dozens of bearded lads had descended on the hospital. They prevented the press, including us three and a cameraman from Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV, from entering the emergency area. They only allowed us to take shots of the destroyed car. The wounded men were not hurt further in the second attack.

Apart from our mishaps and constant nagging fear, the journey was illuminating in that it revealed to us how Hezbollah has dug in deep across the countryside, and is still capable of launching missiles. They command the high ground of a ridge overlooking Israel.
The war appears more serious -- with more hazard for the entire region and the world -- each day. Yet, diplomacy lags.

The New York Times:
BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 7 — Progress toward a cease-fire between Hezbollah and Israel appeared stalled today, as Lebanon’s prime minister called a proposal by France and the United States insufficient and President Bush insisted that Israeli forces be allowed to remain in south Lebanon until an international force can be deployed.
When you let a war go on for almost a month, you need to have a sure-fire "hit" with the resolution you eventually compile. Why? Because war radicalizes the combatants. It acquires its own momentum.

The Washington Post (note the Jihadist language):
Regardless of the precise numbers, news of the airstrikes added another layer of emotion and urgency to the nearly four-week-old conflict, emotion that spilled over in Siniora's opening remarks to ministers from Arab League nations who gathered in Beirut to show solidarity with Lebanon and its people.

"An hour ago, there was a horrific massacre in the village of Houla," Siniora said, calling the bombing "deliberate" and the people who died "martyrs." He interrupted his remarks several times to choke back tears and wipe his eyes, wire services reported. The ministers broke into applause.

"If these horrific actions are not state terrorism," Siniora asked rhetorically, "then what is state terrorism?"
The New York Times:
With Israeli troops operating in southern Lebanon, Sheik Nasrallah can continue fighting on the grounds that he seeks to expel an occupier, much as he did in the years preceding Israel’s withdrawal in 2000.

Or he can accept a cease-fire — perhaps to try to rearm — and earn the gratitude of Lebanon and much of the world.

Analysts expect some kind of middle outcome, with the large-scale rocket attacks stopping but Hezbollah guerrillas still attacking soldiers so that Israel still feels pain.

In any case, the Arab world has a new icon.

Gone are the empty threats made by President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s official radio station during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war to push the Jews into the sea even as Israel seized Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula.

Gone is Saddam Hussein’s idle vow to “burn half of Israel,” only to launch limited volleys of sputtering Scuds. Gone too are the unfulfilled promises of Yasir Arafat to lead the Palestinians back into Jerusalem.

Now there is Sheik Nasrallah, a 46-year-old Lebanese militia chieftain hiding in a bunker, combining the scripted logic of a clergyman with the steely resolve of a general to completely rewrite the rules of the Arab-Israeli land feud.

“There is the most powerful man in the Middle East,” sighed the deputy prime minister of an Arab state, watching one of Sheik Nasrallah’s four televised speeches since the war began, during an off-the-record meeting. “He’s the only Arab leader who actually does what he says he’s going to do.”
The AP:
As their anger against Israel and America swells, protesters across the Middle East are also increasingly venting their frustration at their Arab rulers, especially in moderate countries whose governments have been reliable U.S. allies.

Nearly four weeks of fighting between Hezbollah and Israel have aggravated a summer of discontent over the bloodshed in Iraq, stalled democratic reforms and price increases. Angry at their governments, demonstrators are praising a new hero: Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.
The situation is dire. We're in the car and driving toward the cliffs. George W. Bush is wearing his favorite blindfold.


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