Divining the News (DTN)

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When Israel and Hezbollah play their cards (and Iran)

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Very revealing post by Iranian PressTV, all about what would happen if Iran is attacked. And that is this week, before Bush goes.

The post seems to say Hizbollah will not initiate an attack, and that Iran would openly support Hizbollah.

Also Iran will definitely retaliate on Israel and the US forces from Istanbul to Kabul.

Syria and Pakistan ominously are not mentioned. But they would likely be involved.

When Israel and Hezbollah play their cards

Tue, 13 Jan 2009 19:23:25 GMT
By Press TV

A Lebanese protester wears a head band with the Arabic words ‘Al-Kassam brigade’ as she shouts pro-Hamas slogans during a demonstration against the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip on January 1, 2009.

Israel has so far waged two wars on Lebanon.

It is perhaps the impotence of Arab governments that has infuriated the Arab street and has directed all eyes toward Hezbollah. What was once a defensive force that twice expelled Israeli invaders from Lebanon, is now seen as the only capable protector of Arab dignity. Although one chooses faith freely, the notion that Hezbollah has unwillingly become the answer to the cries of the Palestinians is not divorced from reality.

Israel has brought a new war upon the Arab population, one that is a continuation of its sixty years of oppressive policies against the Palestinians. This time it says its war is directed at completely destroying Hamas, a group elected by the Palestinians to bring an end to the Zionist occupation of their ancestral land.

But Hamas can neither be destroyed nor deterred. It cannot be destroyed because bombs only kill people and not movements. Hamas cannot be deterred because the culture of martyrdom steps outside of the rules of deterrence. Therefore, Hezbollah needs not intervene to save Hamas. What it can do is to prevent an escalation of violence by protecting the overall sphere of resistance.

An example from the past can easily shed light on the influence and role Hezbollah can play. Some four decades ago Egypt was under the strategic umbrella of the USSR but found in the Yom Kippur War that it lacked the full support of its protector.

In an intense midnight session on October 23, 1973, after the Soviets had bluffed that they would militarily intervene if the United States did not prevent Israeli solders from destroying the trapped Egyptian Third Army, the then US secretary of state Henry Kissinger managed to convince Egypt to abandon its old protector.

The US convinced Egypt to leave the Russian sphere by calling the Soviet bluff and by resorting to Cold War one-upmanship. The USSR, which did not want to “unleash the Third World War” just to keep Egypt under its strategic umbrella, backed down. Egypt realized the weakness of its protector and with the signing of the Camp David Accords in 1979, it officially switched protectors and became the second largest recipient of US aid — after Israel.

The dynamics between Hamas and Hezbollah are quite different, however. That is, Hezbollah is not the protector of Hamas. But they both share a bond in resistance and draw their inspiration from the Islamic Revolution. If Hezbollah is able to settle the Gaza conflict, it will be a warning signal to all Arab governments. That is, they too must either join the sphere of resistance or stay under the umbrella of a protector that might no longer be able to serve their interests.

While an increasing number of commentators believe that the current conflict is a prelude to an Israeli war against Hezbollah and Iran, contrary to popular belief, Lebanon will not be bombed in the way it was in 2006. From the perspective of a realist this is how such a confrontation could pan out:

1. Israel, content with world inaction against it, provokes Lebanon in the hope that Hezbollah retaliates.

2. Hezbollah gives Israel a 24-hour deadline to completely pull out of Gaza.

3. Israel replies by threatening to obliterate Beirut if Hezbollah gets involved.

4. Hezbollah says that it would hit Tel Aviv if Beirut is to be hit.

5. Israel turns to Iran and says that if Tel Aviv is hit, Tehran will be bombed as well.

6. Iran sends a note to Washington and warns that should Tehran be hit, US interests in Qatar and from Kuwait to Kabul would be targeted; many years of ‘American progress’ in Iraq would be turned on its head over night.

7. Iran is seen as the major power opposing the US and Israel and thus gains the logistics to bring major changes to the US sphere of influence. American satellite states such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt decide to no longer show their full support for Washington’s plans.

8. Tehran warns US President-elect Barack Obama in a direct message that America would see fundamental ‘change’ in the form of an escalation in the Middle East conflict if outgoing President George W. Bush is not put on a short leash.

9. After studying the stakes, Washington tells Israel to pull out of Gaza immediately and shelve its plans to open new fronts.

From a realist’s perspective, this scenario is plausible. Of course, to scare everyone off, the Bush administration would initially present itself as an irrational actor. Amazingly, however, Bush is rational in his own way. For Washington at least, the war on Iraq was rational and where Bush failed was in the occupation plan. Moreover, the fact that he has not yet attacked Iran could be interpreted as a sign that Bush has an extent of rationality. This is both his greatest weakness and strength since when presented with the prospect of an unprecedented escalation of the Middle East conflict, the White House will back down, and with it, so must Israel.

But what if we consider another hypothesis — that the US does not back down and instead gives Israel the green light to strike Tehran. How many seconds would it take for Iranians to put on their war shoes? How many minutes before Iranian missiles target US military bases in the region? How many hours would it take to close the Strait of Hormuz? How many years to bring Iraq back to status-quo? And yes, the current weakness in Tehran is that oil is cheap, but so are the prices of stocks on Wall Street. In the event of a full scale war with Iran, the US economy may even be pushed to the point of no return.

US military expert Anthony Cordesman has published an account of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict titled Preliminary Lessons of the Israeli-Hezbollah War. The report attracted enormous interest in the Pentagon and has been studied by military experts of the highest caliber. A comprehensive analysis of the findings carried out by Alastair Crooke — director of Conflicts Forum and a former EU mediator — and Mark Perry, who has served as adviser to late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, suggested the following as its last and most important conclusion:

If the United States launches a military campaign against the Tehran government, it is likely that America’s friends will fall by the wayside, the Persian Gulf Arab states will tremble in fear, the 138,000 US soldiers in Iraq will be held hostage by an angered Shia population, and Iran will respond by an attack on Israel. We would now dare say the obvious – if and when such an attack comes, the United States will be defeated.

In light of their non-stop torment of the region, the US and Israel may not be doing justice to themselves by making Gaza the scene of world confrontation. In addition, due to its defeat in 2006 against Hezbollah, the word Israel no longer conjures up the image of Israel being an undefeatable force. The recent UN adoption of Resolution 1860 also bears testimony to the inability of the United States to fulfill its pledge to provide unrelenting support for Tel Aviv. Although Hezbollah and Tehran do not seek war, the reality is that if either Israel or the US chooses to move into the streets of Lebanon or Iran all hell will break loose; the world would never be the same.


Written by morris

January 14, 2009 at 12:41 am

Posted in Gaza, Hamas, Hizbollah, iran, israel

Tagged with , , , ,

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