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Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas
Posted by: McQ on Friday, July 14, 2006

Things are happening at a frightening pace in the expanding fighting between Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas. And it threatens to go wider.

Iran is threatening to enter the fray if Israel attacks Syria. Of course the threat is from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and we've discussed the real limits of his power. However it would probably mean an increase in Iranian support for Hezbollah and it wouldn't surprise me if it somehow meant increased attacks on coalition forces in Iraq in an attempt to have the US to pressure on Israel to back off.

Speaking of backing off, Steve Clemons of the Washington Note is passing along a rumor that Condi Rice, who was trying to talk Israel into standing down and showing restraint was told flatly by the Israeli PM's office to "back off". Frankly I don't think that's something Condi knows how to do.

Meanwhile, in the UN, the usual resolution condemning Israel was proposed and vetoed by the US.

Said John Bolton:
"It placed demands on one side in the Middle East conflict but not the other," Bolton said. "This draft resolution would have exacerbated tensions in the region."
Let us all remember that Hamas is now the governing authority in the Palestinian area. Speaking of them, this makes it pretty clear who should be included in any UN resolution condemning violence in the area:
The first speech yesterday by Khaled Meshal, the Damascus-based head of Hamas' political bureau, since the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit was intended mainly to reinforce his leadership position vis-a-vis both Palestinians and Israel. His statements contained little real news. He reiterated the Hamas promise not to hurt Shalit and the position that he would be released only in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

What Meshal did do was to declare that he and not the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in Ramallah, or Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, is the sole spokesman for the Palestinian people in the territories and beyond.
So he can immediately defuse the situation in Gaza by simply turning over the captured soldier. Hello, UN?

Hezbollah has come under criticism from unexpected sources. From Saudi Arabia, through the official Saudi news agency, this:
Saudi Arabia on Thursday blamed "Elements" Inside Lebanon for the violence with Israel, in unusually frank language directed at guerrilla group Hizbullah and its Iranian backers.

"A distinction must be made between legitimate resistance and uncalculated adventures undertaken by elements inside (Lebanon) and those behind them without recourse to the legal authorities and consulting and coordinating with Arab nations," A statement published on the official news agency SPA said.
One can only assume, given the fact that it is unusual for SA to speak out like that, that the country also wouldn't be particularly keen on seeing Iran fan the flames in the conflict.

In Lebanon, criticism is mounting as well:
The radical Shiite movement Hezbollah and its leader, Hasan Nasrallah, hold an effective veto in Lebanese politics, and the group's military prowess has heartened its supporters at home and abroad in the Arab world. But that same force of arms has begun to endanger Hezbollah's long-term standing in a country where critics accuse it of dragging Lebanon into an unwinnable conflict the government neither chose nor wants to fight.

"To a certain Arab audience and Arab elite, Nasrallah is a champion, but the price is high," said Walid Jumblatt, a member of parliament and leader of Lebanon's Druze community. "We are paying a high price."
Right now Lebanon is excusing itself by saying Israel's reaction is over the top. But the fact remains Hezbollah, like Hamas, isn't just some random terror group anymore. It is part and parcel of the Lebanese government, and it has acted unilaterally and without that government's approval in its latest military action against Israel.

As I mentioned in my "Open Letter to Lebanon" and now echoed in a statement from the State Department, this is Lebanon's responsibility:
"It's really time for everybody to acknowledge that these two states do have some measure of control over Hezbollah," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters in Washington. "And the international community has called upon them to exercise that control, to have these two individuals released."
This can be instantly defused and Lebanon knows how. The international community needs to keep pressure on both Hamas and Hezbollah to do so.

If you're interested in an Israeli-eye view of what's going on, Isreallycool is live blogging the war. His coverage includes a podcast (he's a former Austrailian and now Israeli).

I'll attempt to keep this updated during the day if possible. Make sure to check back periodically.

UPDATE: On one front the result of the violence has been fairly predictable:
Oil prices topped $78 per barrel Friday and held near record highs as intensifying violence in the Middle East raised concerns of possible supply disruptions.
Look for it to show up at your local pump soon.

UPDATE II: Apparently Egypt made a good faith effort to end the Palestinian/Israeli portion of the crisis but it failed:
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak yesterday told the Cairo daily Al Ahram that he had drafted an agreement for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, but that it had been scuttled by outside pressure on Hamas.

"I would not be revealing any secrets by saying I had written portions of a dignified resolution to the soldier crisis," Mubarak said in the interview.

According to the Egyptian leader, Israel promised to release numerous Palestinian prisoners, and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had both been told. However, the agreement was not implemented due to pressure on Hamas.

"Then Hamas was pressured and entities I do not want to name intervened in the mediation. This blocked the impending agreement," Mubarak said.

Meshal denied at a press conference on Monday that external entities such as Syria or Iran were making decisions for Hamas. He also said Shalit must be released as part of a prisoner swap and thanked Egypt for its efforts.
So who else besides Syria and Iran would be bringing pressure on Hamas to refuse the deal?

UPDATE III: Bush calls on Israel to limit civilian casualties:
"President Bush affirmed his readiness to put pressure on Israel to limit the damage to Lebanon as a result of the current military action, and to spare civilians and innocent people from harm," said a statement from Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's office.
It appears Israel is already attempting to do that to some extent:
The Israel Defense Forces is planning to bomb Hezbollah headquarters in a densely populated area of south Beirut on Friday, a senior General Staff official told Haaretz.

The IDF said it has dropped leaflets warning civilians of the impending attack and that many of them have left the Shi'ite Dahiya quarter of south Beirut, where thousands of people live in multi-story residential buildings.

"We will atack more significant targets than we have attacked until now," the officer said. "If we had chosen to bomb earlier, it would have ended with hundreds of civilians killed, and we took ethical considerations into account. On the other hand, we will not adopt a naive approach, and the model of terrorists hiding behind civilians will not be accepted."

He said any civilian who chooses to remain in the area is putting his life in danger.
This isn't something you have to be trucked 100 miles away to avoid. Walking works fine. Just get out of the immediate area. And I have to agree. If anyone chooses to remain in the area after the warning, it's on them.

UPDATE IV: Good editorial in the WSJ. An excerpt:
The democratic Lebanese government of Fouad Siniora bears its share of the blame, since it has failed to police its side of the border with Israel and failed to disarm Hezbollah, as required by Security Council Resolution 1559 and the 1989 Taif Accords that ended the Lebanese civil war. Senior Israeli military sources also claim that Lebanon tolerates the presence of hundreds of Iranian military personnel in Lebanon, again in violation of U.N. resolutions.
Yet Lebanon continues to essentially deny responsiblity and the UN only attempts to condemn Israel. As to the "proportion" argument, again, as the WSJ notes, it is a selective argument:
In the case of Hamas, perhaps Israel could rain indiscriminate artillery fire on Gaza City, surely a proportionate response to the 800 rockets Hamas has fired at Israeli towns in the last year alone. In the case of Hezbollah, it might mean carpet bombing a section of south Beirut, another equally proportionate response to Hezbollah's attacks on civilian Jewish and Israeli targets in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s.
Of course, they note, they're not being serious. And neither is anyone else who makes the argument solely against Israel.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

"May you live in interesting times..."

Pajamas Media has a good round up of current events...
04:31 PDT: IDF official announces that the Israeli army is going to bomb Hezbollah headquarters in South Beirut on Friday afternoon local time (morning in the US). Israellycool writes: “we’re about to get medieval on Hizbullah.”

03:44 PDT CNN: Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora issued a call for a comprehensive cease-fire Friday and request help from the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who promised him to exercise the utmost pressure to help achieve it, according to a spokesman.

02:49 PDT Israel’s interior minister Ronnie Bar-On tours the country’s North and says: “If [the Lebanese government] fails in restoring calm in Southern Lebanon, we’ll bring the Wild West to the area.” Also: “”Nasrallah has sentenced himself by his own acts. I doubt that he would be able to find a life insurance agent these days.”

“Growing calls in Lebanon to disarm Hizbullah”, echoing the Washington Post.
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
May you live in interesting times..."
Keith, I think from 9/11/01, that statement has been true in spades.
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Even though it’s not actually an ancient Chinese curse. It’s a modern British one. :^)
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Now you see the value of Israel’s withdrawl from Gaza. None of this moral ambiguity crap- Israel is the legitimate wronged party here. Even Saudi Arabia notes this! No more could this sort of thing be played as fighting the Zionist occupiers. Because the Palis voted in TERRORISTS to their govt, it is an act of war.

And now it allows them to crack down on Hezbollah as well.....and just maybe, the ultimate scum behind it all in Tehran and Damascus.

It looks like the usual voices aside (Arab nations, France and Kofi) that Israel may have FINALLY some room to really work here.

Run with it Israel.
Written By: SHARK
URL: http://
iran hurry up with enrichment buy the centrifuge from pakistan if you can’t manufacture them quick enough HURRY UP
Written By: ahmedinajad
URL: http://
Overall some excellent comments, McQ, but I would take exception to the word “would” in the sentence that reads: “However it would probably mean an increase in Iranian support for Hezbollah …” It suggests that Iran is reacting when it is actually the aggressor taking measured steps already planned ahead of time. The question remains: why does Iran want a war now?
Written By: Jason Pappas
Good point, Jason.

Why would they want war now?

A) they can fight it by proxy and hurt their sworn enemy.

B) striking at Israel by proxy is also like striking at the US (by proxy)

C) its good for internal distraction and puts their support of Hezbollah in a context that is useful to their President and his vendetta against Israel

D) it provides external distraction (from nuke talks and UN "action")

E) it provides a few more weeks/months in which they can delay those talks and await George Bush’s departure in ’08 (and, they hope, putting them in the driver’s seat if they get the right new president)

What they have to be careful about is getting too involved because then they provide Israel with a convenient excuse to strike them. Given how they’ve talked in the recent past, who knows, maybe they want that.
Written By: McQ
F) They hope to add to the instability in the region, this will cause oil profits to skyrocket.

G) They hope to also destablize the improving situation in Iraq. (Read that somewhere else, can’t remember where.)

I keep wondering if maybe there’s not an ace up Israels sleeve. Say stealth cruise missles (even though they are already pretty stealthy)
Now you see the value of Israel’s withdrawl from Gaza.
Yep... my thoughts at the time too. Gave the Palestinians the opportunity to prove their "good faith" in a path to peace. An opportunity which they’ve blown.
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Faulting the Lebanese government for failing to police its side of the border is like holding congress responsible for failing to police Washington DC. They ARE responsible but for an abundance of reasons, they just can’t do it.

You guys who are counting on the UN to help should be reminded that John Bolton is our ambassador. He can’t get the UN to agree that its Friday. That’s the problem when you appoint ideologue rather than a diplomat.

Anyone else notice that the UN is no longer taling about Iranian nukes?
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
This is all crap!
This attack is so disproportionate that it is gross.
Israel sits on palestinian land and the Arabs wont bitch up.
I never really care about this crap, but I was watching the media and all I can say is that we are definately pro-jew.
I hope they blow each other up and all of us non-wacko-religious people can get along with our lives.
Israel has so many human rights violations with the UN that are vetoed by the US that we might as well move them here, maybe to Iowa or Kansas you know one of those states you fly over when you go to IMPORTANT places! That way the arabs can have there stolen land back and the precious Jews wont get scratched!!!
Wake up A-holes!!!
Written By: x2master
URL: http://
Guess who vetoed a resolution to ask Israel to stop?

A vote was taken on a UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned Israel for using "disproportionate force" in responding to the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah and subsequent rocket attacks on its territory from Lebanon in retalation to the Israeli raids into Lebanon. The U.N. resolution stated that the Israeli military attacks endangered the lives of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians who were not parties to acts of aggression and demanded the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

The internationally supported measure failed when the United States used its veto to block it. Out of 15 countiries at the Security Council the vote was 10-1, with four abstentions — Britain, Peru, Denmark and Slovenia. The United States was the only country to vote against it. I wonder why? Countires that voted to pass the resolution included France, Japan, Russia, China, Tanzania, Qatar, Greece, Congo, Ghana, and Argentina.
Written By: Mahdi Nazemroaya
URL: http://
Guess who vetoed a resolution to ask Israel to stop?
Well here’s a question for you ... where was the resolution to ask Hezbollah to stop?
Written By: McQ

Stop what ? Kidnapping enemy soldiers? Where are the dead Israeli citizens? Plenty of Arab dead civilians and always are. Let me say all my life I have been Pro Israel. Dont know why , my family , friends and even my preacher all say and always have said , the Jews are the victims.

I started to look at the facts and to draw my own conclusions that they are both sick.

Israel has 70 human rights violation from the UN. They sit historically on Arab land that American firepwer, not GOD, helped them take. I guess Quassam rockets are real deadly against F-16. Get real.
I feel the kind of thinking going on would rationalize this, lets say an American indian today kidnapped two cops or reserve officers. Would you blow up the whole reservation? Especially when you know that in the past you conquered and occupied their land and homes without provocation.

If some ahole stole my land Id fight , forever too.What makes us mad is the fact that no matter what we do or the Jews do the Arabs will not bitch up. Face facts without superior US firepower and a third of all your Foriegn aid tax dollars Israel would collapse because its neihbors do not recognise it.

America has a rally cry that has been in effect for 60 years, Jews good, Arabs the devil. It is one sided because without Israel existance, well you know the story, Jesus cant come back!!!

Stop religios wackos everywhere even here and the world would be a much better place.
Written By: x2master
URL: http://
X2master, your 90% correct. The Arb/Israeli conflict is the hight of hypocracy. A small militant country, that cannot shed the horrors of the holocaust, has become what they hate. Israel has been promulgating horrors in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and the Golan Heights for decades. The Israeli rush for land, and its thirst for resources (water) places it at odds with the indeginous populations. So, despite the fantastic efforts of numerous peace plans, UN envoys, and Presidential retreats to Camp David; the conflict ensues and little seems changed.

The Palestinians flatly numb me to my sole. I cannot bring myself to understand what a suicide bomber is feeling when he or she commits themselved to death, causing the deaths of many others. The scars on the young men’s (& women’s) minds have been deepened through childhood. Palestinians grow up to hate the Jewish state, while Israelis grew up petrified of the Muslim street. In very much the same way people cower at a spider and then find an enourmously oversized object to crush it, the Israelis reach for their American weapons.

Israel has acted in a disproportionate manner in this case. They have seen an openning and are "running with it". American opinion leaders are quick to point out every countries right to defend themselves, because they are scared of their own war crimes and its a strong agrument to make. But its the wrong way to demonstrate global leadership. Evidently the religous wakos are pressuring the president not to chide Israel.

In you opinion? Are suicide bombings a force of hate? or a force of desperation?
Written By: USforeignser.
URL: http://
Us foreigner

I am a soldier of 17 years and I would say the method is both. However it is effective against a suyperior military force.

People are not inclined to let it rid=e when they are wronged.
Written By: x2master
URL: http://
Shimon Perez attributes the high collateral damage in Lebanon to Hezbollah keeping weapons in homes. No kidding! If the U. S. would give Hezbollah the same help as it gives Israel, Hezbollah could build decent bases to keep it weapons. Israel fighting Hezbollah is akin to cowboys fighting Indians. As Hezbollah has no air force, it may be more like a turkey shoot.
Written By: cjd

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