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11 August 2006

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Abu Sinan

PL,

My son, now 14 months old, was named after the famous architect of the Ottoman Empire. I love the mosques and other buildings he built.

We also picked it because it isnt so common, especially in the Gulf, maybe more so in the Levant. Our other son, now four months old, is named Sayf. Sinan and Sayf, figured the means, in Arabic, matched. Sayf, being more of an old fashioned Khaliji name

My father in law worked as a diplomat for the Saudis here in DC, more specifically as a military attache, so we still know some people at the Embassy, even though he passed away a few years ago.

My wife is friends with the wife of the editor in chief of Asharq al Awsat, but that is certainly a Saudi establishment mouthpiece.

I guess your connections with people from your passed carrier would be the best way.

For me it is connections with family friends and others, both here in the USA and back in the Middle East.

Mo

Patrick henry,
I doubt the Colonel would want this to become a forum for a debate on the raison d'etre of HA but I will tell you this: First, the HA are jihadist but i refute your accusation because what they mean by Jihadist and what you mean by it are two very seperate things.

The marines, like jonst said, look up what the Iowa and the New jersey were doing the week prior to the barracks attack. Look at the govt. of Lebanon the marines were protecting and who put that govt. in charge.

HA have never hijacked an aeroplane and if you are refering to the TWA hijacking that was the work of Amal

The civilians who have died in Israel. Are you serious? After what Israel has just done your questioning HA about civilian deaths? Furthermore I challenge you to find a single Israeli fatility in Israel at the hands of HA that hasn't been reactive to an act of Israeli aggression.

Finally, the issue of religion. How can you say you understand their antagonism towards Israel is to do with Zionisim not Judaism and then claim its religious hatred? Make up your mind, which do you believe? And to be honest, if you are going to include the PLO under a list of Zealots you either seriously dont understand the term religious zealot or you dont understand the PLO.

canuck

Deal forged on UN Mideast ceasefire draft
Fri Aug 11, 2006

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=politicsNews&storyID=2006-08-11T190408Z_01_N10459214_RTRUKOC_0_US-MIDEAST-UN.xml&archived=False>Details at Reuters

Whether or not it will be passed at the UN and accepted by Hizbullah and Israel remains to be seen.

John in LA

Patrick Henry:

No disrespect intended, but you sound like someone who wandered into this conversation from Fox America.

You will probably notice that most of our postings are analytical, technical -- some of our colleagues here have tremendous knowledge of local cultures/tribes/politics and of military affairs.

One big theme: the events around the world - from Afghanistan to London -- are not part of a homogeneous movement.

The NeoCon attempt to paint every event in the Muslim world as part of a monolithic bloc is the same presented by the Military Industrial Complex in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. This is to say, they painted the dozens of individual nationalist movements, united under the general umbrella of militant socialism/communism as a Soviet plot.

We now know that nothing could have been further from the truth. In future, I think we will well understand that the various movements in S. Arabia, Kashmir, Palestine, Kurdistan etc. reflect unique local circumstances and players.

I'm finding the postings on Col. Lang's site over the past weeks the most informative readings I've found. Certainly, the hysteria of U.S. television journalism, infused as it is with Israeli propaganda, is laughably imprecise.

I'll leave you with a priceless bit of military/technical analysis from the priceless talking head Anderson Cooper (360!) On the border he was saying, oh, you can tell incoming from outgoing because outgoing goes "thump whoosh" whereas incoming goes "whoosh thump".

Actually, Anderson, sometimes, incoming just goes "whoosh"...

chew2

Colonel,

Regarding the HB military tactics, I found this Kevin Sites interview with an Israeli infantry major an interesting data point:

"It's complicated," Taylor adds, speaking from personal experience. "It's not army versus army warfare. They do have an organized fighting doctrine but it's not based on making contact. It's more of guerrilla warfare tactics. They want to draw you into an area where they have booby traps and they can use their anti-tank missiles."

................

"The villages are used as logistic bases," he says, "but they usually fight from bunkers in outlying areas. They have tunnel systems with camouflaged entry points where they can enter in one place and exit somewhere else. We've been fairly successful at cutting off the supplies from the villages, which forces them to come out eventually."

The way to fight Hezbollah, he says, is to outlast them in a war of nerves."


It sounds like very slow going.

The Ground War
http://hotzone.yahoo.com/b/hotzone/blogs8398

jonst

P Henry, and all, sorry for the poor grammer. I was in a rush...my post should have read, "just out of curiosity what do you think HA thought they were doing when they bombed the Marine barracks?"

Zanzibar and John,

Mort Sahl, the old comic, tells a joke about Cheney staying at the Waldorf Hotel. As he come out to get into a car a group of protestors breaks out into a chant denouncing him and Bush. He responds by yelling at them, "ah, go buy your own President." He might have added for John's sake..."ah, go buy your own TV station. (or go intimidate your own Public TV people)

pbrownlee

It is interesting and somewhat alarming to see cognitive dissonance at work. We cherish our fantasies ("They hate us because of who we are" etc.) perhaps because they are so "us" and we love and protect them even more as they are ground down by the complexities of the real world.

"Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present."

T.S. Eliot: BURNT NORTON (No. 1 of 'Four Quartets')

wtofd

Jonst, what do you mean by the battleship Iowa? Btw, I owe you an email. Your nephew is back from L'ile D'Yeu?

wtofd

PL, Abu Sinan, how do you rate Ha'aretz?

Mo

wtofd, I know you didn't ask me but, Israeli military restrictions aside, Ive found them to be as honest as you can be in war, esp. one that enjoys(enjoyed) 90% support. In fact, I think if I was Israeli, I wouldn't be too happy with their honesty or their not too subtle attempts to tell the public it is going badly at the front by publishing puictures of soldiers looking very maudilin by articles stating how well the whole thing was going.

praktike

if i may, i think the point jonst is making is that "HA" was retaliating for US shelling of, interestingly, a druze area ... which reminds me that walid junblatt once took credit for the marine barracks bombings ... it's in the "fire and embers" book about the lebanese civil war, by dilip hiro.

Chris Bray

Reading this, I immediately stopped to google "Hezbollah TOW missiles," and found news stories saying that 1.) the missiles came from McFarland and Oliver North, and 2.) the IDF captured TOW missiles from Hezbollah that were stored in date-stamped crates indicating that they were made in 2001. And the overarching question is: What the hell?

If Hezbollah has TOW missiles, isn't it only a matter of time before they show up in Iraq -- being used against U.S. tanks? Where did they come from? When? How many are out there? And how big a deal is this?

wtofd

John in LA,

I like your 04:44 comment a lot. As for, "One big theme: the events around the world - from Afghanistan to London -- are not part of a homogeneous movement," I agree, but...

Do you read John Robb? These movements might not be homogenous, but they are either talking to and teaching each other or, at minimum, watching and copying. Of course, Iran and Syria are assisting but HA is learning from the web as well.

Along with Juan Cole's Informed Comment and SST06, John Robb's Global Guerrillas is one of my desert island blogs for the ME.

Chris Bray

Just found another story that says the Iranians reverse-engineered and cloned the TOWs that North sold to them, giving Iran a lasting supply...

Mo

"At least four people were killed and 40 others wounded when at least eight Israeli missiles hit a convoy of Lebanese Army and civilian vehicles, Lebanese security sources said."

Now im not one for the whole "they are pure evil" type of comments so I am going to assume that the only reason for yet another blatant attack on civilians is that these guys are trying to provoke an attack on Tel Aviv, the only HA action that could now derail any kind of ceasefire.

wtofd

Mo, thanks for the response. To your point, check out the current photos on the homepages of the Post and Ha'aretz. In Ha'aretz's defense, they are outraged at Olmert's handling of the last month. Monkeys and footballs.

cynic librarian

The obverse of my prior theory is a bit wilder. With the UN resolution under consideration, a cease-fire seems imminent. If it passes and French and other countries, along with Lebanese troops, secure southern Lebanon Hizbullah will be effectively neutralized.

One of the arguments put forward by Helena Cobban against the US invading Iran is Hizbullah rockets. Should the US or Israel attack Iran, this line of thinking goes, Iran would order Hizbullah to attack Israel. Ergo, Israel and the US would not risk attacking Iran.

Assuming that Israel, Lebanon, and Hizbullah abide by the UN ceasefire, French troops will ensure that Hizbullah does not pose this threat to northern Israel any longer.

With their northern front secured, Israel/US can now attack Iran without that concern. They are now emboldened to carry out the Israel and neocon dream of disposing of the Iranian threat anytime--some are suggesting an October surprise--they wish.

The irony of this perhaps fanciful scenario is that the French would have been dragged into the "war on terror" without having wanted to get involved. Of course, the fact that the French are there in southern Lebanon might prove to stop all of this from occurring.

Nabil

As far as why the Hizb would agree to this ceasefire:

1-They gave the government the right to negotiate on their behalf. They can't renege on what the government agrees to without coming off as liars (and they're no liars).

2-Their people are suffering. If Hizbullah were just an army in a field, they would fight to the death gladly. But their wives and children are being killed and/or uprooted, and their houses destroyed.

3-They never wanted to start this war in the first place.

4-They have few full-time soldiers. The 'shabab' (young guys) in the south are going to go back to the south and are not going to be any less affiliated with Hizbullah. They will keep their small arms. They will likely keep a few heavier pieces around (although you can't do that with the rocket launchers...maybe the individual katyushas). So Hizbullah will never really 'withdraw' from the south, only their rocket launchers will.

The REALLY interesting question is what happens now. The mood in Lebanon is not very good. Hizbullah will lose the exuses it has had to keep its arms if the Shebaa farms are freed diplomatically and the Lebanese prisoners are freed as part of a swap. And if they aren't defending the south anymore...why are they there? They may turn into a peaceful party at last.

What I suspect will happen is Israel will refuse to release Samir Kassir, but will release everyone else (They will hold Kassir for info on Ron Arad - God himself doesn't know what happened to Ron Arad). Hizbullah will try to use this as an excuse to keep their arms. The rest of the Lebanese won't buy it, but can't disarm them. Lebanon will go back to tension (hopefully not bloodletting...but there are some dark hints at that), but that tension will be away from the southern border.

-Nabil

blowback

There is the draft of the UN resolution at The Washington Post.

OP1. Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;

OP2. Upon full cessation of hostilities, calls upon the government of Lebanon and UNIFIL as authorized by paragraph 11 to deploy their forces together throughout the South and calls upon the government of Israel, as that deployment begins, to withdraw all of its forces from Southern Lebanon in parallel;

My feeling is that it is bound to fail, Hezbollah are supposed to put down their weapons and stop defending themselves while the IDF can continue its "defensive operation" until hostilities cease which will only be once Hezbollah's forces are destroyed.

OP15. Decides further that all states shall take the necessary measures to prevent, by their nationals or from their territories or using their flag vessels or aircraft,

(a) the sale or supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, whether or not originating in their territories, and

(b) the provision to any entity or individual in Lebanon of any technical training or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of the items listed in subparagraph (a) above, except that these prohibitions shall not apply to arms, related material, training or assistance authorized by the Government of Lebanon or by UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11;

Does this mean that the if the Israelis resupply their own troops they are in breach of the resolution unless UNIFIL authorizes it?. Any lawyers (not of the barrack room variety) who would care to comment.

Finally, this really doesn't seem to reflect the reality on the ground. The IDF have barely moved away from the border so why should Hezbollah give up their positions for so little.

blowback

The Angry Arab is today the Overwhelmingly Angry Arab with his analysis of the UN resolution. Not for the faint hearted.

Abu Sinan

Posted-PL, Abu Sinan, how do you rate Ha'aretz?

Generally, when I want a mass media source from Israel I will look at Ha'aretz, but like ALL Israeli sources, since this conflict began, I find it has become not much more than a propaganda tool for the Israeli government.

No Israeli media source has come out and been really critical of government statements, nor have they taken government officials to task for lying as they have done about the situation on the ground.

As to TOW missles, we have given those missles to many countries, so they could have come from anywhere. I think you'll find a lot of the high tech gear that Hizb has comes from the USA. They have a very active set of followers and supporters here.

It has been said that Hizb is more dangerous and has more reach than al-Queda, and I would agree with this.
This network could have come up with this stuff from almost anywhere, and I believe that Hizb has some stuff in strategic reserve that will make this stuff look mild.

The fact that Hizb has not utilized their international cells to strike at American and Israeli targets is significant. I believe that Hizb is the most capable, and therefor dangerous, group in the world. If they wanted to they could hit targets all over the world.

What does it mean that, to this point, they have choosen not to? I think it is a sign that they feel that things are going so well on the ground that there is no need to jeopardise world opinion with such attacks. This could change if facts on the ground change.

Hizb could also be waiting, only to hit 6 months, 2 years down the road.

I am interested in Nasrallahs response to the Israeli attack in the center of Beirut. Such an attack, he said, would bring a Hizb response to Tel Aviv. Since the Israeli attack was very limited, I think he will hold off.

Hizb is holding back their longest range missles in reserve. I do not believe that Israel has destroyed a significant portion of this.

I dont see what more Israel could really do to Lebanon in such an event anyway. Israel has destroyed a large percentage of Lebanese infrastructure, well over a hundred bridges gone, hundreds of KM of roads, factories, utilities plants, ports. They have targeted Christian, Sunni and Shi'ite areas. I think the only community to really escape pretty well unscathed out of this is the Druze community. Walid Jumblats pathetic blathering might have a role in that.

I know they are making a bundle in the Chouf renting rooms to other displaced Lebanese. What has impressed me is the way that Palestinians, in the camps, have taken in the Shi'ite refugees, especially considering the history between the Palestinians and a large portion of the Shi'ite community as shown by the "war of the camps."

Hopefully these two groups have decided, that despite religious differences, they have a lot in common.

union

As a matter of strategy and practicality, the thought that HA will move to the "north" of Litani does not, intuitively, come across as defeat or peculiar. For, the news reports that those fighting now in the "south" basically are villagers from the same geographical areas. Also, these same folks are known to "melt away" into civil life. Further, HA is the social infrastructure of the "south." On the other hand, there is the issue of natural resources like water, and then, the PA issue. Collaborating with international forces first in the "south" may be a long term strategy (from the HA perspective) to secure those natural resources and monitor the PA issue more closely. Additionally, the international forces most likely will not include the U.S., Britian nor Israel, so finally the "Other" gets a voice and representation on an international level. Quite frankly, Israel could work this out itself by trading civil technology for resources; but, that is not its M.O. presently.

mt

Unless events change dramatically, I imagine the Israeli government will change dramatically. I smell something, maybe desperation. I don't think this is even close to over.

BadTux

I would be very careful about coming to any conclusions about weapons that HA is using based upon IDF sources. The IDF has a natural desire to hype up HA's weaponry as an excuse for their poor performance. It is unlikely, for example, that HA possesses many Kornets. Syria bought around 1,000 Kornets, but the chances they gave HA many of those Kornets is slim -- they need the Kornets as a deterrant against Israeli armor for their own defense. Iran itself does not have Kornets in any great quantity (if at all), they are relying on their Sagger, Spandrel, and TOW clones, which they reverse-engineered or licensed and produce cheaply in their own factories. Iran is very careful about their arms purchases in order to get the best bang for the buck, and if they can make effective weapons locally (and the above-named are plenty effective if deployed in sufficient quantity and provided with upgraded warheads and guidance systems), they do not buy, they build.

I read a description of the Israeli attack upon Marjayoun by a Western reporter. He painted a picture of Merkavas slowly trudging along through a valley then suddenly HA appeared on the ridge lines surrounding them. As the Merkavas attempting to engage targets with their weaponry, HA missiles flew in from all sides. He saw a Merkava disabled, apparently by a missile that came from its hind quarter, which even on a Merkava is weaker than the frontal armor. The Merkava caught on fire, and its crew bailed and ran for shelter at another Merkava as the line of Merkavas started pumping out smoke everywhere to fend off further attacks.

I do not think possession of a Kornet (or not) would have made much of a difference in that situation. If HA is successfully drawing Israeli armor into kill boxes, you will see tanks killed, period, even if all HA had were the upgraded Saggers that I referred to earlier. It simply is impossible to armor a tank equally over its whole body, the tank would be so heavy as to be immobile. A tank will always have weak points, and if you can get tanks into a kill box like described above, you will have tanks getting killed.

As for what the Iranian Saggers, Spandrels and TOW's cost to build, vs. a Merkava, think maybe $5,000 apiece, max, for the missiles if you have free labor (as Iran effectively does). A Merkava costs approximately $4.4 million dollars (or about the same as a M1A1). However, the Merkavas thus far disabled by HA have mostly not been cooked off, thus are salvagable and repairable. Merkavas are designed to be easy to repair, so it is likely that most of those "killed" by HA will go back into combat sooner or later.

In any event, as Pat has noted earlier, pay little attention to the technology that HA is using. It is not the technology that is making them effective. It is their training and dedication that are making them effective. And for that matter, Israeli incompetence -- it is not so much that HA is fighting like supermen (they have obviously studied their art and are executing it, but if they were really the supermen they've been accounted to be, Israeli casualties would be much higher), as it is that the IDF is fighting extremely poorly. Tankers, for example, should never allow themselves to get into enclosed kill boxes where the enemy can fire down onto their less-armored top and rear parts. The fact that IDF tanks have managed to put themselves into exactly that position is a sign of incompetence on their part, rather than super-human competence on HA's part. HA is just doing Warfighting 101. The IDF is doing... well, poorly.

-BT

BadTux

One last comment on Israeli military performance. As I noted earlier, while HA is certainly fighting a competent war, they're being helped an awful lot by Israeli incompetence. A bit of exploration uncovers one reason why. The following comes from an Israeli document dated in 2004:

"This [budgetary] state of affairs has become so severe that the IDF announced at the start of 2004 that Army reservists would soon be training without live ammunition because funds simply were not available to make the necessary purchases. In some cases, reserve armor units have not received live training ammunition for the past three years."

These are the same reserves who are being sent into battle today. No live training ammunition in the past three years? If you fight the way you train, that isn't saying much for IDF readiness...

-BT

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