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05 July 2007

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Babak Makkinejad

It is called "Escalation to No-where" - Sharon excelled in that.

Mo

I suppose there are 2 parts to this, the report and the analysis.

The editorial is a mish mash of the factually incorrect (8 Israelis killed in the initail raid), half-truths (the resolution mandated the disarmament of Hizballah) and one sided-observations (no mention of Israel's responsibilities to respect Lebanons sovreignty).

Theres not much doubt about who's behind the military build up? I guess the writer has far better sources than the rest of us. The only evidence of Syrias involvement in the arming of the Palestinian groups is "thats what they do". Meanwhile, Hariris aunt providing money to them in Sidon is common knowledge and whatever happened to that boat load of arms off loaded in the port of Jounieh last year? And if all these guys came from Syria, how is it that the entry records of so many of them appear at the airport?

As for Hizballah, of course there are more arms coming and yes across the border from Syria is the easiest route;
On the other hand I have reports that the US is still smuggling arms to Israel via the mediterranean.


In analysis, the Colonel is absolutely right, UN observation of the border was never going to happen. And to be frank, in addition to the reasons mentioned, I doubt it would make a difference unless the UN also took control of customs duties. With the amount of sattelites in space the US and Israel have between them and the number of overflights the Israelis are conducting is there really any need for actual boots on the ground in a very hostile environment?

If the anti-aircraft weaponry is correct, that would be very good news for Lebanon. It was only the airborne pummeling that convinced Nasrallah to accept a ceasefire. I don't know how pertinent it is, but Nasrallah did promise last year that this was the last time a Lebanese-Israeli battle would take place soley on Lebanese soil.

However, the description of the fortifications and bunkers does tend to show a building of a defensive rather than offensive capability.

Colonel, do you believe this drive into Syria is a done deal? Will they wait for a "existential threat" to materialise or just go ahead and attack? And is Hizballah's building of these fortifications so far North indicative that they arleady knew that this would be Israels next move?

Abu Sinan

Good luck. I am sure the Israelis will cut through Syria like a hot knife though butter, but will be unable to keep the momentum in Lebanon.

Hizb'Allah will tear them up again.

W. Patrick Lang

Mo

They are going to wait for a "Danzig" moment. pl

Montag

By this reasoning Hitler was justified in invading France because they had constructed the Maginot Line to prevent a German invasion! I read somewhere that the Syrians are training special battalions in the Hezbollah-type warfare.

At least the Japanese learned from whippings in the border fights with the Red Army in 1938-39. The result was a non-aggression pact which they scrupulously kept throughout WWII. Of course it helped that both the Soviet Union and Japan had bigger fish to fry at the time.

W. Patrick Lang

Montag

There is no "Hizbullah style of warfare." They fuoght a conventional battle against the Israelis.

"Special battalions" won't do it. you need a big force. pl

zanzibar

Just what the world needs more wars and more killing! Its incredible that Cheney and the "new and revamped" IDF want another war in the Levant - like the last one solved anything.

At this point the only thing that has any chance of slowing down the absolutely corrupt Cheney/Bush administration is the House filing articles of impeachment against Cheney and starting the impeachment investigation with no executive privilege as well as defunding OVP. Not that it will do much since Cheney and Bush are completely shameless however it may at least keep these guys distracted.

David W

The article is a seed, designed to plant future Beltway 'conventional wisdom' that will be spread via network news and the Sunday talk shows.

Are Syria and Hizbullah really an existential threat to Israel? Are you all getting tired of all the 'existential threats' there are these days? It's especially Orwellian given that Israel is the only regional nuclear power, and that their arsenal is magnitudes greater and more advanced than their enemies: one has to wonder about the mindset that says they have to keep bombing their enemies back to rubble, lest they achieve some sort of parity of weaponry--is this wise, or a symptom of a self-fulfilling prophesy?

I have no love for Hizbullah, however, I think it's simplistically wrong to just label them 'terrorists' and be done with them--that's no way to treat your 80s Lebanese Love Child, Israel!

FDChief

Based on their performance I'd be skeptical at best that the Syrians can hold Israel out of Damascus IF the Israelis are willing to pay the price to break through the "thickest part of the hedge". Once through the Syrian A-level brigades they should have no problem driving through the rest of the rabble. Hizbullah will be a tougher nut, I presume, and the Israelis might be willing to settle for regime change in Damascus.

Which is, of course, where the whole thing could midwife a REAL ugly baby. Defenstrating a secular regime in Baghdad unleashed the secular dogs of war in Iraq: knocking over the secular rulers of Syria might well make it irresistable for the Muslim Brotherhood & Co. to make a try for the brass ring there.

Someone should really tell these Mayberry Machiavellis that there are worse things than having an unfriendly nation-state on your border.

dan

I'm deeply skeptical of IDF intentions/prospects of invading Syria.

For starters, it's going to require the wholesale mobilisation of the Israeli military reserves for an extended period of time - this will effectively wreck the Israeli economy if the action lasts longer than 30 days, or they get bogged down in a replay of the 2006 war.

If the Syrians reprise the Hizbullah rocketry tactics - and they certainly have the kit to do so - then life is going to get very unpleasant for the Israeli population in the north...again.

Whilst driving to Damascus, the IDF is still going to be stuck with its current 3-front dilemma in Gaza, the West Bank and on the Northern border. On the West Bank it assumes that Fatah will be a "reliable" partner in keeping Hamas restrained whilst the Israelis attack - I doubt this will be the case. The popular reaction in Egypt and Jordan is predictable - Moubarak and Hussein will be placed in considerable difficulties, and there will be pressure on the Saudis to reach for the oil weapon.

It also assumes that the Syrians will fight the kind of conventional battle that the IDF wants them to fight.

In the scenario that you describe, there is no way that UNIFIL are going to do anything other than skedaddle - they aren't going to protect a flank, at great cost to themselves, so that Israel can conduct a war of aggression.

The final consideration is whether Russia, which has maintained close relations with Syria, will decide to interrupt its oil supplies to Israel. Therein lies the likeliest veto.

JfM

For the reasons you’ve enumerated, the United Nation’s Security Council wisely demurred from the self-serving Israeli appeal to position a force along the Lebanon-Syrian border. UNIFIL’s troubled history of almost thirty years monitoring the Armistice Demarcation Line between Lebanon and Israel has well taught the UN what’s possible and what’s not in that troubled area. The UN has no business in and is not configured nor supported for protracted enforcement operations

Originally, Security Council resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) of March 1978, established UNIFIL to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its effective authority in the area. Following the July/August 2006 crisis, the Council under resolution 1701 enhanced the Force and decided that in addition to the original mandate, it would, among other things, monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons. Simplistically this can all be summarized as directed at assisting the GOL in establishing its sovereignty over the area of south Lebanon. UNIFIL is not there to protect Israel nor certainly serve as a surrogate of Israel security policy. It should be well known that for the past three decades Israel has constantly interfered with UNIFIL’s attempts to execute its mandate and contributed appreciably to the misery and protracted violence south of the Litani. The South Lebanese are not such rabid enemies of the Chosen People for no good reason. Yes, UNIFIL is often at cross purposes and inherently lacks the coordination of a homogeneous force, but on balance UNIFIL has been a force for the general good in the area.

In my two plus years working as an unarmed military observer (UNMO) in that mission area to include one year as the chief of the observer group supporting UNIFIL, I know the ground under discussion all too well. First, the UN is truly correct in not manning the area the tribe proposed, it’s untenable and unsupportable. Oh, and I’m not ready to concede the Israelis moving on the Syrians like ‘a knife thru butter’ quite yet. If Hizbullah is able to establish defense in depth with as cogent anit-aircraft belt in consort with a formidable anti-ground attack defense, the game is still up in the air.

As to us going after the Iranians, no…won’t happen. The urge may persist in the demented Cheney ring, but the necessary allies, our force depth, and the public will all aren’t there.

b

Pat, what is a "Danzig moment?"
---

Syria is gaining a lot in economical weight recently. The trade growth rate now tops the 10% range.

Just as Israel had to delete the tourism competition in Lebanon, it has to delete the economic competition in Syria - maybe.

There was also an LA Times editorial today on the coming war on Syria.

Like the WaPo editorial it misrepresents the recent U.N. report on Lebanon and alleged weapon smuggling through Syria. Reports of these are not U.N. proven facts, but simply unproven Israeli allegations.

This is a concerted "blame Syria" information warfare campaign - a sure sign for a coming war.

Olmert and Bush certainly both want to have at least one "victory" on their resume. But what do they expect to "win" in Syria or in Lebanon or Iran?

Israel may try to finally "aquire" the Litani water, but do they really expect this could be achieved in any permanence. Fools.

As "regime change" is unlikely in any of these countries when under attack, what is there to gain but a lot of dead souls?

Also - did you notice that oil prices have hit record levels again?

Binh

Would like to hear your take on whether or not there will (or could) be a U.S.-Iran war before Jan '09 when Bush leaves office.

I personally doubt the Israelis would time their attack with a U.S. attack on Iran because I don't think that kind of thing is going to happen until mid-2008 or Jan 2009 (after the surge ends and the beginning of withdrawal which will make the cost of attacking Iran much lower because there won't be 160,000 targets roaming Iraq).

mo

A Danzig moment? Excuse my ignorance but do you mean the '39 moment of catching the enemy by surprise? Is that even possible with every man and his dog predicting a round 2 from about 1 hour after last summers ceasefire?

Guthman Bey

Even the Danzig in 1939 moment required a plausible pretext.
With the exception of the Suez affair, Israel has always had such a pretext prior to going to war. There is zero pretext at this point for invading Syria, which no longer occupies Lebanon and maintains the most peacable of borders with Israel.
So what is the pretext supposed to be?
Besides, I don't doubt that Israel could manage a march though Syria into the Bekaa, but what would that achieve? Israel is incapable of occupying Syrian cities for numerical reasons alone. So what's the point? There has to be a point, no? What would such a war achieve other than a Hezbollah dominated government in Beirut?
Call me complacent, but I just don't see this making any sense. Bush is too weak for that and so is Olmert. Yes Barak has been making noises, but he would do that wouldn't he...

zanzibar

Why even bother with a "Danzig" moment? These guys are so shameless and who cares enough to speak out any way. The UN? The Quartet? The corporate media is bought and paid for already. For the state in the ME with the most powerful military everything is a "defensive" action against the "terrorists".

Cloned Poster

As the Israeli circumsised prick moves north (MR MAGOO aka Olmert), beware the Hamas circumcised weapon moving north also.

PL is right to call Hezbollah tactics just what they are, nothing special but true grit infantry defence. No cold war tank battles, just clever use of land and weapons. The Isrealis only won in the Cold War scenario. They would be mad to move on Syria, there wont be enough armour to take a left turn.

JohnS

I agree with Mo that the WaPo's op-ed is factually challenged. According to an article by Gary C. Gambill on "The Rise of Fatah al-Islam" in The Middle East Monitor:

"Allegations in the same media outlets that the Syrians have been caught red-handed smuggling weapons into Lebanon also turned out to be unsubstantiated. UN specialists who spent most of June investigating border security in Lebanon reported to the Security Council that "not a single on-border or near-border seizure of smuggled arms has been documented to the team." While there are undoubtedly arms pouring across Lebanon's borders, corruption and incompetence within the Lebanese security services appear largely to blame."

That's via Josh Landis' blog, SyriaComment http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=302

Will

Guest Columnist in the usually neoKon Beirut Daily Star notes that the Starship Enterprise "NCC 1701" shares the same number as United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.

He goes on to make some cogent points the best of which are

"If democracy is a desired outcome..., events prove that this is a half-truth. Democracy did emerge .. such as in Algeria and Palestine, ... not of the desired type. Islamic movements fared well in the Algerian elections, but were prevented .. and a bloody civil war ... Palestinians voted for Islamic Hamas ... The Islamic Republic of Iran - with semblances of democracy - was not challenged,..Therefore, oppression and violence, not democracy, spread in the Middle East, and the world has become a much worse and dangerous place, not more secure.
http://www.dailystar.com.lb

"These outcomes/lessons are not lost on the managers of the current global confrontation in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, and adjustments did indeed take place. The first lesson suggests that it was better to minimize direct military invasions and allow the war against militant Islam to be a local affair. Civil wars stopped Islamists from achieving political gains in Algeria, Iraq, and Palestine, and made them busy fighting their more moderate compatriots in Somalia, Afghanistan, and Sudan. As a political solution is not allowed in Lebanon between the pro-West March 14 movement and the Hizbullah-Aoun alliance, a similar eventuality of civil strife may be in the works.

"The second lesson is that spreading democracy did not work as people were voting in Islamic militants. The alternative to spreading democracy has become spreading moderation, i.e., political regimes in Muslim-majority states are acceptable as long as they are "moderate" (good Muslims and not Islamists), even if they are military dictatorships or despotic dynasties. Democracy and human rights could take the backburner.

"The lesson of spreading civil war to contain Islamists may not be an advisable path for Lebanon. On the contrary, it should be reason for alarm. The last time the Lebanese fought each other, it lasted for 16 years, with 150,000 deaths, over 800,000 emigrants, and untold physical and economic damage. This country is very fragile with no less than 18 religious communities, a decades-long Syrian/Israeli meddling in Lebanese affairs, a Saudi influence over the Sunnis, an Iranian influence over the Shiites, and French/American hands in orchestrating the positions taken by the March 14 movement.

"The cycle of violence that started in Lebanon in 2004 has scary resemblances to 1975 - political assassinations, explosions, Israeli invasions, and battles between the Lebanese Army and the Palestinian camps. Lebanon has been experiencing nothing but violence and chaos with no hope in the horizon, as no signs are emerging that the Cedar Revolution is getting anywhere fast or that the threat of terrorism is being diminished. Western and Arab "support" to the "moderates" is really a pressure to prevent rapprochement between moderates and militants, as it is feared that peaceful internal solutions may preserve the power, military and otherwise, of the Islamists and provide legitimacy to organizations defined as terrorist by the United States.

"The possibility that Lebanon may suffer another civil war seems not to disturb the pursuit of the objective of containing militant Islam and moderate leaders are "encouraged" to take tough non-negotiating positions against the domestic militants, whether Hamas or Hizbullah.

"As national reconciliation is prevented from prevailing in Lebanon, the country is ripening for a civil war scenario and no one seems to care. When this happens, there will be no Captain Kirk arriving from outer space to rescue Lebanon from itself and from its friends - Western or Arab. Thus creating the conditions for emptying the country of its skilled people, diminishing its economic potential, and pushing its already declining Christian population into extinction through out-migration.
."

mo

I presume the answer on the other thread that the incident in question was the Gleiwitz incident was in response to this thread.
If that is the case, that has been Israels m.o. for every attack on Lebanon - Bombs in Tel Aviv, attempted assasinations in London etc.
However, seeing as this time the world is waiting for Israels attempt at re-asserting its military deterance, would it not be just a bit too obvious even to the Aipac/Memri fed US media? And secondly, the situation as it is, would demand a rather extreme attack to justify such a military campaign. I daresay it would even require deaths on the Israeli side. Would they go that far?

Will

The Col. clarified the Danzig moment under a different thread as the false flag Heydrich-Himmler attack on the Gleiwitz wooden radio transmitter that was used as a pretext to invade Poland from three sides- West Prussia, East Prussia, and Czechsolovokia.

blowback

Mo
Pat may be referring to the Gleiwitz Incident.

George

7/5/07 8:09 PM
Home » National » Article
Nelson: Oil a factor in Iraq deployment
July 5, 2007 - 10:50AM
The Howard Government has today admitted that
securing oil supplies is a factor in Australia's continued military involvement in Iraq.
Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said today oil was a factor in Australia's contribution to the
unpopular war, as "energy security" and stability in the Middle East would be crucial to the
nation's future.
Speaking ahead of today's key foreign policy speech by Prime Minister John Howard, Dr Nelson
said defence was about protecting the economy as well as physical security.
Dr Nelson also said it was important to support the "prestige" of the US and UK.
"The defence update we're releasing today sets out many priorities for Australia's defence and
security, and resource security is one of them," he told ABC radio.
"The entire (Middle East) region is an important supplier of energy, oil in particular, to the rest
of the world.
"Australians and all of us need to think well what would happen if there were a premature
withdrawal from Iraq?"
Federal Opposition leader Kevin Rudd has attacked Dr Nelson's comments, saying they
contradict what the Howard Government said when the war began.
"When Mr Howard was asked back in 2003 whether this war had anything to do with oil, Mr
Howard said in no way did it have anything to do with oil," Mr Rudd told reporters in Sydney
today.
"This Government simply makes it up as it goes along on Iraq."
Dr Nelson said the primary reason for Australian troops remaining in Iraq was to prevent
violence between the Sunni and Shia population, and to bring stability to the region.
"We're also there to support our key ally - that's the United States of America - and we're there
to ensure that we don't have terrorism driven from Iraq which would destabilise our own
region," he said.
"For all of those reasons, one of which is energy security, it's extremely important that Australia
take the view that it's in our interests... to make sure we leave the Middle East and leave Iraq
in particular in a position of sustainable security."
http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/howard-links-iraq-war-to-oil/2007/07/04/1183351291906.html

John Hammer

During the last go around, I thought the Israelies would hit Damascus in order to create some kind of "in your face" moment. The idea being to reenforce the notion of their superiority. Sounds like they may attempt this on a larger scale.

confusedponderer

It really looks like a neo-con plan.

The hezzies have built a 'Maginot Line'? Field Marshal Manstein recommends a right hook, bypassing the line through Syria, which unlike Belgium and the Netherlands isn't even neutral but an enemy anyway, so from a moral claritists's everything is swell. Just think about the beauty of the concept.

Nobody takes serious any threat from Syria - but when Israel attacks Syria anyway, they imply there was at least a secret reason (I mean, they aren't crazy and see things? They wouldn't bomb without a rational reason, say, just to prove some academic's theory, right?) That reason would then be Syria's support for Hezbollah. The 'Gleiwitz' or 'Tonking' moment could be the capture of an arms shipment under Iranian or Syrian flag, or a 'high ranking defector' giving hair raising testimony, or one of Abrams Saudi-funded crazies being true to homself.

The 'logic' goes that, as it is only Syrian and Iranian support that keeps the hezzies alive, Israel needs to 'isolate the battlefield'. If they then only beat on Hezbollah hard enough, they will eventually collapse and victory will be Israel's! After regime change in Damaskus and Beirut Israel will be surrounded by friendly countries and be at peace! BS.

Reads great and plausible on paper. They don't even succeed with that isolation strategerery in Palestine. How can they believe it will work with Hezbollah which unlike the Palestinians is coherent and capable?
Besides, where is the _sustainable_ political objective behind it? Intalling a pro-Israeli government in South-Lebanon and Syria? Israeli or US occupation? Make such a bloody mess that every following president cannot possibly pull out of the carnage because he had to 'abandon Israel' to do so, much more so when Israel's war was US encouraged? Bleh. Escalation to nowhere indeed.

I think they still haven't given up on their plan to eliminate 'Iran's proxy', Hezbollah, to be able to then strike Iran. Their time is running out. They only have the chance to pull that till Bush leaves office.

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