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Posts Tagged ‘Hizbollah’

Israel Should Pre-empt Hizbollah Now

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

As Israel comes closer to a confrontation with Iran, we should note that Iran’s primary strategy is unlikely to be direct conflict with Israel. Iran’s air and missile forces, despite their bragging, are not sufficiently well-developed to support such a conflict.

Instead, I expect that they will depend on their main proxy, Hizbollah. Hizbollah can be expected to attack with its considerable missile forces and even to attempt ground incursions into Israeli territory. At the same time, Iran will try to leverage Western fears of terrorism and oil-supply disruption into pressure on Israel; so we can also expect to see terrorist attacks against Western targets.

The difficulty of destroying or seriously damaging Iran’s nuclear capability is much-discussed, but I think the neutralization of Hizbollah will also be a major task, and one of more immediate importance. In the short term, the number of Israeli casualties and the amount of damage to the home front in a conflict with Iran will be proportional to the time it takes the IDF to end Hizbollah’s ability to fight.

Hizbollah is also an essential component of Iran’s long-term strategy, whether or not she succeeds in building a bomb. A nuclear Iran is more likely to pursue her interests in the region by threats and low-intensity conventional conflict under a nuclear umbrella than by actual use of atomic weapons, which would expose her to devastating retaliation.

In 2006, the Bush Administration gave Israel a month to finish Hizbollah. Israel did not make use of the opportunity because of the incompetence of the government and top military commanders, complacency, lack of planning, poor intelligence, etc. I believe that these problems have been fixed to a great extent.

Although one might expect Obama to be less cooperative, it’s possible that the administration’s closeness with conservative Sunni interests — primarily Saudi Arabia, Turkey, or even Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood — which are natural enemies of Hizbollah, might lead it to wait before lowering the boom.

On the other hand, if Hizbollah terrorists are car-bombing buildings in New York, Los Angeles or Washington, there will be enormous pressure on Israel to end the conflict (yes, it’s irrational, but we’ve seen this response before). I don’t think that Israel can count on getting a month this time.

If I were an Israeli planner I would think about a preemptive attack on Hizbollah — separately from and before attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities, for the following reasons:

*Hizbollah is the most immediate threat to Israel;
*Hizbollah will be Iran’s major weapon of retaliation if Israel strikes Iran;
*By not attacking Iran, Israel does not give the regime an excuse to disrupt oil supplies;
*The IDF can concentrate on defeating Hizballah;
*It’s always better to initiate than to respond; and
*The chaos in Syria makes it easier to isolate Hizballah from its source of supply and keeps the Syrian military too busy to intervene.

I would stress the importance of a short campaign, which will probably mean the use of massive force. Hizbollah is very well dug-in in southern Lebanon, and an operation aborted by international pressure could be disastrous.

If Israel can be successful in removing Hizbollah from the equation, Iran will be greatly weakened, Israel’s security and posture of deterrence will be strengthened, and the chances for future military action (or even diplomacy) to keep Iran from getting the bomb will improve.

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Sic Transit Gloria Mundi: Thus Passes the Glory of the World

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

In the past, the United States was the “glory of the world”, mainly after it came to the aid of Europe in the Second World War, the victory over Germany and Japan in 1945, and the American success in establishing a democratic state in South Korea (1953) following the war against the communists, who were allied with China and the USSR. However, the glory of the U.S. has faded during the last generation. Historians point to Vietnam as the beginning of the process of decline; the war lasted 16 years (1959-1975), cost the lives of almost 60,000 American soldiers and ended in a disastrous American rout and Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, falling to the Vietcong, the militia of communist North Vietnam.

The Vietnam War left parts of American society with a lack of will to fight for the values of freedom and democracy, especially if it’s a question of fighting in countries outside of the U.S. The U.S. military took part in several wars since 1975, but in the Middle East its performances were not always satisfactory. As a result of this, the military strength of the U.S. does not make much of an impression in the Arab and Islamic world, and even back in September of 1970 the terrorists of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine did not hesitate to hijack American and British jets to Jordan and blow them up for all the world to see.

In 1973 the American ambassador, his deputy and the deputy ambassador of Belgium were kidnapped in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan by the Palestinian organization “Black September,” and were executed on the personally telephoned orders of Yasir Arafat. Despite the fact that the Americans recorded the discussion and knew all of the details in real-time, the humiliation by the terrorist silenced them and Arafat subsequently became (with the help of a few bleeding-heart Israelis who were taken in by his charisma and his lies) a “darling of the peace groupies.” He mocked the Americans, fooled them without blinking an eye, and they believed him.

The Iranian audacity towards the U.S. knows no bounds: In October 2011, Iran attempted to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington, no less than the capital of the U.S. The Iranians have no problem calling the U.S. “the Great Satan,” which has only one meaning: that holy war must be waged against the U.S. – a jihad for the sake of Allah, which will only end with the destruction of the U.S. government and the conversion of its citizens to Shi’ite Islam.

In April 1983 Hizb’Allah – the long arm of Iran in Lebanon – blew up the U.S. embassy in another breach of its sovereignty and killed 63 people. In October of that same year, Hizb’allah demolished Marine headquarters in Beirut killing 241 American soldiers and citizens. The American reaction was to flee from Lebanon, which very much encouraged Hizb’Allah and its patrons in Iran and Syria, and caused the United States to appear as a country without a backbone. A month before this, in March of 1983, Hizb’Allah attacked the U.S. embassy in Kuwait, and in June, 1985 Hizb’Allah organized the hijacking of an American passenger jet of TWA. In June, 1996 Hizb’Allah carried out an attack on an American military base in Saudi Arabia. All of these attacks, carried out by Shi’ite Hizb’Allah with Iranian inspiration, were left unanswered by the Americans.

Qadhaffi’s Libya also contributed its part to aggression against the U.S. with the attack on the disco in Berlin where a number of American soldiers were killed as they were enjoying a night out in 1986. The aggression was answered with an attack on Qadhaffi’s palace, and although his adopted daughter was killed, he did not stand down: In 1988, he organized a revenge attack on a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing almost 300 people. What was his punishment? Nothing, until 2011, when the United States was dragged into attacking Libya, almost reluctantly.

On the Sunni side of the Islamic equation, they saw the American weakness toward Iran and Hizb’Allah, and also decided to increase the pressure on the U.S.: in August, 1990, Saddam Hussein disregarded U.S. warnings and invaded Kuwait, one of the West’s main suppliers of oil, claiming that Kuwait is a province of Iraq. The West was outraged, and led by the U.S., in January, 1991, it entered a war that successfully liberated Kuwait, but did not liberate Iraq and the world from Saddam Hussein. This war caused the detractors of the U.S. to draw two conclusions: One is that the West goes out to war not for idealism but rather for interests, and in the case of Kuwait, oil was the causative factor. The second conclusion is that the West is afraid of causing regime change, no matter how bad the regime may be, because of the fear that the successor will be even worse. However, in this war there was an additional American failure. There were Americans, perhaps CIA operatives, who hinted to the Shi’ites in Southern Iraq that if they rebel against Saddam, the U.S. will support them and overthrow him. In March 1991 the Shi’ite rebellion against Saddam (who had been vanquished in Kuwait) began, but he put down the rebellion with great cruelty, costing the lives of tens of thousands of Shi’ites, and the U.S. did not lift a finger. The effect of the American betrayal of the Shi’ites of Iraq at that time continues until today to influence the way the Shi’ites in Iraq relate to the U.S.

Sinai Becoming Terror Stronghold

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Rocket attacks continue to plague the south of Israel, the last one occurring a few days ago.

Only a few weeks ago the IDF deployed an Iron Dome rocket defense battery near Eilat to deal with the incoming rockets.

These latest strikes follow the massive attack which took place on August 5th, which claimed the lives of sixteen Egyptian soldiers and which was finally blocked by the IDF on Israel’s southern border.

These events are not recent developments. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s former president, was ousted from his position in disgrace in February of 2011. Since that time, the balance of power in the Sinai Peninsula has changed dramatically, and it seems that the change is to the detriment of all parties in the region, excluding the terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and other minor organizations.

Since the deposing of Mubarak, terror organizations originating in the Gaza Strip have taken control of the Sinai Peninsula, along with other terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which develop their infrastructure of terror everywhere they can, and especially in areas that suffer from lack of government and neglect, such as the Sinai region.

In recent months, they have operated an industry of terrorism at an unprecedented magnitude, including weapons experiments, weapons smuggling, and terrorist attacks.

Since February 2011, the IDF has received several reports on events of weapons experiments in open areas throughout the Sinai. Palestinians terrorists from the Gaza Strip are taking advantage of the lawlessness in the Sinai in order to perform experimentations with weapons of varying grades by firing to areas in Sinai, and receiving way points of the strikes from local collaborators. Through these experiments, the terrorist organizations can improve the weapons’ shooting angles, amount of explosives and projectiles, depending on where the rockets fall.

In addition, the tunnel routes between Gaza and Sinai have developed immensely since the fall of Mubarak’s regime. The tunnel owners have known difficult periods when concentrated joint efforts were made by Israel and the Mubarak regime to create obstacles for these tunnels. They are currently experiencing a profitable period as both their civilian businesses and their collaboration with the terrorist’s industry in Gaza do not encounter any difficulties on the Egyptians part. Some of tunnels are big enough that entire vehicles can be transported through them.

This reality has severely hampered the security on Israel’s southern border. Sinai of the post-Mubarak era has become a focal point for active and brutal terrorism, due to the vacuum created in the region, as the Egyptians do not take responsibility for their sovereign territory and the waste lands are utilized by the terrorist organizations to the outmost.

Member of Knesset Benyamin Ben-Eliezer, an expert on the Egyptian scene stated after the attack: “I hear president Morsi’s statements and I understand he has come to a conclusion that if he does not gain control of the Sinai soon, he will be sitting on a nuclear bomb. Sinai, with all its components – including the Global Jihad, Al – Qaida and other terrorist organizations – is going to become a place that could shake the entire of Egypt.”

IDF Preparing for Conflict in Lebanon

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Col. Shmulik Olensky, commander of the “Barak” armored brigade on Israel’s northern front, said that the Israel Defense Force is “dealing with extensive preparations for fighting in Lebanon.”

Speaking at a conference earlier in the week about the First Lebanon War, Olensky said that the next “Lebanon war is going to be different, different from the first and second…There are no longer Christian villages in the south, all have become Hizbollah military compounds, found at every level and in every village. At the entry areas, there will be observation officers and anti-tank missiles.

“A flare-up in Lebanon can occur at any time,” Col. Olensky said. “Therefore we are preparing as much as possible, with unique plans, improved models, and joint training.”

The conference was held in the shadow of increasing concerns that the crisis in Syria will spill over into its notoriously-sectarian neighbor Lebanon. Already, a recent intra-Muslim clash in Tripoli left two Sunni clergymen dead. Adding to the volatility are recent threats by high-level Iranian officials that Western military intervention in Syria will result in an attack on Israel. Taken together, there is substantial concern that Hizbollah will be called on to do Iran’s bidding and attack Israel.

According to Yoram Schweitzer and Oz Gertner of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Israeli security officials estimate that “Hizbollah currently has an organized army of more than 10,000 soldiers and some 60,000 rockets of various ranges, capable of causing more damage and greater precision than the rockets it possessed during the Second Lebanon War.” Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbollah’s leader, recently stated that his organization possesses rockets the range of which cover all of Israel.

In an Insight paper, titled “Will Foreign Interests Drag Lebanon into a Military Conflict?”, Schweitzer and Gertner state that despite Hizbollah’s “close strategic cooperation with President Bashar Assad,” and “publicly announced [ ] support for the Syrian regime,” the organization must consider a Lebanese public that is “loath to engage in another round of violence…because of the heavy economic and physical cost they had to pay as a result of the Second Lebanon War into which they were dragged by Hizbollah against their wishes.” Plus, senior Israeli officials have made it clear to the Lebanese government that the Israeli response to any act of Hizbollah aggression “would entail much greater damage to Lebanon, including the destruction not only of targets directly associated with Hizbollah.”

Although these are compelling reasons for restraint on Hizbollah’s part,  Schweitzer and Gertner conclude that the Mullah’s in Iran will be calling the shots on Lebanon’s southern border:  “Nasrallah may not have much room to maneuver and will be forced to heed Tehran’s instructions to act against Israel for the sake of Iranian or Syrian interests.”

 

Mordechai Kedar: The Syrian Crisis Spills Over into Lebanon

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

As a result of the bloody events in Syria beginning in March 2011, Lebanon has become a place of refuge for Syrians who live near the border between the two countries. This open border, through which for years Hizbollah has transferred whatever it desired from Syria, has now become an escape route for those Syrians who oppose the regime and seek shelter in Lebanon – even if only temporarily – from the cruelty of the “Shabikha”, the murderous gangs of the Asad regime. The Syrian army, despite the fact that it feels “at home” in Lebanon, usually refrains from pursuing Syrians who have found sanctuary there, so as not to offend the European countries, especially France, which see Lebanon as their “back yard”. Only in a very few cases did a military force cross the border into Lebanon in order to apprehend refugees who oppose the regime, and in a few cases, even shot Syrian canons into Lebanese villages where some Syrians had found shelter and sanctuary.

The society in Lebanon is polarized regarding the events in Syria: the Shi’ite Hizbollah, the main power in the state, actively supports Asad, and has sent more than a few of its soldiers – mainly snipers – to fight those citizens of Syria who are rebelling against the regime. Those who are opposed to Hizbollah, the “March 14 Coalition”, headed by Sa’ad al-Hariri, hold clear anti-Syrian positions. In the background there is always the possibility that the Syrian regime will collapse. If this occurs, the fear is that Hizbollah will quickly take over Lebanon and prevent the opposition from taking advantage of the weakness that may follow the loss of Syrian support. Nasrallah, of course, flatly denies that he has any such intentions. As long as the internal argument was conducted verbally, the words did not represent an immediate threat to the stability of the state.

However, lately an internal confrontation has developed, regarding the active support of the Sunni Muslim insurgents in Syria. For a long time rumors have been circulating about ships that arrive in the middle of moonless nights to locations near the recesses of the Lebanese coast; and boats with people in black clothing and covered faces who race from the shore towards the ships. The people clothed in black unload wooden crates full of “all good things,” and then the boats disappear back into the darkness from which they emerged. The crates are brought into Syria, where their contents – weapons and ammunition – serve the Free Syrian Army. The rumors about the boats were not substantiated until this month. In early May,  the Lebanese army apprehended a ship with the name “Lotef Allah 2″ in Lebanese territorial waters, which had departed from Libya and moored in Alexandria on its way to Lebanon. On this ship, a number of containers with light weapons were found and seized, but there were also a few French rocket launchers that had been sent last year to the insurgents in Libya. There were also explosives, and the whole shipment was sent by a Syrian company. The loading document, of course, did not reveal the actual contents of the shipment. Twenty one employees of the ship were arrested, but it is not clear what they knew about their deadly cargo.

The Lebanese army must certainly have known about the ship and its cargo and it is safe to assume that they got their information from an intelligence organization acting in cooperation with the Syrian regime, Iran or Russia, who were quick to register a complaint with the UN Security Council regarding the smuggling of weapons into Syria from the neighboring countries. Russia and Iran are very concerned about the increasing strength of the Free Syrian Army, which – thanks to the great number of weapons that flow to it- has recently been more successful in retaliating and killing many Syrian soldiers. The seizure of the weapons in the port of Tripoli immediately raised the question in Lebanon: who was supposed to receive the weapons and transfer them to the Syrian insurgents?

The question was answered  on Shabbat, May 12, when a twenty five year old man by the name of Shadi al-Mawlawi was arrested in Tripoli, along with five of his friends. The young man, a Lebanese Sunni and a member of a Salafi group, known as an activist working for the Syrian insurgents, was arrested when he returned from Syria on suspicion of assisting the insurgents and coordinating the transfer of the weapons that had arrived by ship. Tripoli has been in turmoil since the moment of his arrest: the Al-Manar channel, mouthpiece for the Hizbollah Shi’ites, claims that the ship belongs to Al-Qaeda, and served as the connection between global jihad organizations and the Syrian insurgents; while al-Mawlawi’s Sunni friends claim emphatically that he is simply a good young man, who – like many others – gave humanitarian support to Syrian refugees that managed to escape to Tripoli. The circumstances of his incarceration are interesting: according to some versions he was apprehended in the office of the Lebanese minister of the Treasury, Mahmud al-Safdi, in Tripoli, which brings up the possibility that al-Mawlawi might also have supported the Syrian insurgents monetarily, and that he was an emissary sent by members of the political establishment in Lebanon who are engaged in plotting against the Asad regime.

Mixed Messages About Violence from the Global March to Jerusalem

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

In an interview with the Palestinian news agency Ma’an on March 19th, Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) spokesman Zaher Birawi stated that the organizers are “not interested in confrontation with the Israeli army, after similar demonstrations a year earlier ended in bloodshed”.

Whilst it is difficult to imagine exactly what sort of effective controls the GMJ organizers have been able to put in place in order to prevent their aspired one million man march from descending into violence, it should also be taken into account that a considerable number of the GMJ organizers are veterans of the flotilla project who still describe the Turkish activists aboard the IHH-sponsored Mavi Marmara in 2010 as ‘humanitarian aid workers’.

Others are members of various ‘popular resistance committees’ which define the weekly riots at places such as Bil’in and Nebi Salah as ‘non-violent protest’. The heavy involvement of Hamas and the Iranian regime in the march’s organization, together with support from Hizbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad also raises doubts as to the sincerity of the professed commitment to non-violence.

Coincidentally, the North American chapter of the GMJ has put out a new leaflet replete with messages of non-violence and invoking Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King as role models.

When compared to the original publicity put out by the GMJ organisers, it is rather obvious that someone appears to have reached the conclusion that the North American audience is in need of a somewhat softer approach.

However, over in South East Asia, audiences are apparently deemed by local GMJ organizers as being susceptible to somewhat different messages in the attempt to raise support for the project.

In Kuala Lumpur on March 18th a flashmob of students gathered in order to “create awareness on the Global March to Jerusalem.” Chairman of the Malaysian branch of the GMJ, Dr Mohd Tahir Abdul Rahman, was present at the event and made the following erroneous statement:

“Our focus is Jerusalem, where presently Muslims and Christians are denied access to their sacred places and holy places of worship by the Zionists,” he said after the flash mob today.”

The flashmob’s student organisers explained that:

“We wanted to create awareness about the oppression in Palestine by recreating scenes of the march toward Jerusalem and also show Palestinians being liberated”

As can be seen in the video of the event below, their idea of “scenes of the march toward Jerusalem” apparently includes dead Israeli soldiers.

Somebody obviously missed out on the ‘non-violence’ memo.

Syria’s main opposition group: We Would Ally With Hizbollah

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Burhan Ghalioun, head of the main Syrian opposition group, was quoted by Lebanon’s Daily Star as saying that the Syrian National Council would not be opposed to allying with Hizbollah if it decided to support a change in Syria.

“If Hezbollah decided to support the democratic process in Syria, there would not be any barrier [to cooperating with it],” Ghalioun said.

Such an alliance may seem unsuitable, considering that  Hizbollah is a strong ally and client of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and its support has not wavered in the course of the 11-month uprising against his rule. But Ghalioun indicated that, despite the blood of over 7000 on the hands of Hizbollah’s patron Assad,  political expedience alone will dictate policy: “There are no permanent enmities in politics as there are no permanent friendships. Alliances are built on goals. We want to achieve our goals.”

“Hizbollah’s greatest popularity in the past in the Arab world was in Syria because it did a glorious job when it stood against Israel,” Ghalioun continued. “But the people are now having doubts about it Hizbollah because it has adopted clear a stance, supporting an oppressive regime that is using all kinds of violence.”

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/syrias-main-opposition-group-we-would-ally-with-hizbollah/2012/02/29/

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