To quote Tanner Boyle: Crud!
Nothing really tonight from me. Oh, there was going to be something about the cease-fire in southern Lebanon that I was working on while bouncing back and forth between this and my real job, and I was well on may way to stringing together several different items when my Firefox browser bit the dust. Now I’m just going to see if I can gather up all or some of the pieces I was trying to intricately weave together into a coherent read and, instead, salvage a bit of a link dump.
The charm of any U.N. Security Council resolution lies in the preamble, which invariably begins by “recalling” all previous resolutions on the same subject that have been entirely ignored, therefore necessitating the current resolution. Hence newly minted Resolution 1701: Before mandating the return of south Lebanon to Lebanese government control, it lists the seven Security Council resolutions going back 28 years that have demanded the same thing.
We are to believe, however, that this time the United Nations means it. Yet, the fact that responsibility for implementation is given to Kofi Annan’s office — not known for integrity, competence or neutrality — betrays a certain unseriousness about the enterprise from the very beginning.
Now, it is true that had Israel succeeded militarily in its strategic objectives, there would have been no need for any resolution. Israel would have unilaterally cleaned out south Lebanon and would be dictating terms.
But that did not happen. The first Israel-Hezbollah war ended in a tie, and in this kind of warfare, tie goes to the terrorist.
Read it all.
Nawal hurled a fistful of grains into the air showering a Lebanese Army Jeep with rice, startling the young officer trying to navigate his armoured column through the narrow streets of this southern town.
â€œWe have waited a long, long time for this,â€ said Nawal, who lined up on her balcony with three generations of her family to wave at the young soldiers below. â€œFinally we feel we are part of Lebanon once again.â€
The scene was repeated in towns and villages across the south of the country yesterday, when some 2,500 Lebanese soldiers returned to a region from which the Army has been virtually absent for nearly 40 years. In the 1970s the area was largely under the control of Palestinian guerrillas, in the 1980s Israel occupied much of the region and in the 1990s and until yesterday it was governed by Hezbollah, the militant Shia Muslim militia.
Under orders to secure the Lebanese-Israeli border and disarm anyone with an unauthorised weapon, Brigadier General Charles Sheikhani said that his troops were up to the job. The initial force will be strengthened over the coming weeks until 15,000 soldiers are deployed alongside UN peacekeepers.
I’m currently doubtful about this story for three reasons: I don’t think the Lebanese will go to any great length to disarm Hezbollah, I will possibly believe that the Lebanese army and the U.N. peacekeepers have the slightest chance of being even somewhat effective only when I see the actual boots on the ground in the numbers called for, and I’m still bitter that this is the story that killed my browser and my earlier work.
So, the region stands now at a cease-fire and yet another worthless U.N. resolution. Who won? I doubt anybody did … yet. Israel could have, but played their cards too tightly for fear of excessive collateral damage in light of a world that has been historically way too eager to condemn its efforts. Did Hezbollah and its accompanying parental units of Syria and Iran win just by avoiding obliteration? Possibly but, as I said, the big “yet” looms near. Still, that doesn’t mean that Syria will not hesitate to take the wrong lessons from the fight.
Syria has warned Israel that the occupation of the Golan Heights “cannot last forever” and said Syrians will emulate Hizbollah to recover their land.
“We say to the forces occupying our land that our people warn you that they will not allow our land to be occupied forever,” the government’s daily Ath-Thawra said.
“You must understand that our people will fight the way the Lebanese resistance (Hizbollah) fought you,” it added.
“Our people will fight you … on every inch of the Golan,” it said.
However, the newspaper urged decision-makers in Israel “to open up to new perspectives”, noting that some in the Jewish state were in favour of making peace with Syria.
“The leaders of this expansionist entity have a choice: either they heed the voice of reason that prohibits them from violating other people’s rights or they will face action similar to that carried out by the Lebanese resistance.”
Syria has repeatedly demanded the return of the Golan Heights which Israel conquered in the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed in 1981.
Why stop at just the Golan?
Syrian President Bashar Assad congratulated Hezbollah yesterday for what he described as their success in “defeating Israel.” Assad said that the members of the resistance used their “will, determination and faith” to counter Israeli arms, enabling them to defeat Israel.
“The resistance is necessary as much as it is natural and legitimate,” he said. Assad said this war revealed the limitations of Israel’s military power.
Assad said that the United States’ plan for a “new Middle East” has collapsed after what he described as Hezbollah’s success in fighting against Israel, and warned Israel to seek peace or risk defeat in the future.
“They should know that they are before a historic crossroads. Either they move toward peace and the return of [Arab] rights, or they move in the direction of continued instability until one generation decides the matter,” he said.
Ah, there we have it, threats on the Golan aren’t enough. Now we already have essentially the old threat of Israel’s destruction, of pushing the Jews into the sea. Surely Syria must recognize the difference between engaging a hesitant IDF, assaulting Hezbollah in southern Lebanon but playing on the stage of global public relations, and an IDF that would face Syria on the Golan Heights and certainly on any incursion into Israel.
Yes, this is mere bluster on the part of the Syrians. Still, it is bluster that has shown they have no interest in a lasting peace that includes Israel, and it is bluster that has triggered a somewhat surprising diplomatic rebuke.
Because of the Syrian president’s belligerent rhetoric, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had no choice but to cancel his visit to Syria, says DW’s Peter Philipp.
At some point, one should be able to say “no.” This happens all too rarely in international diplomacy, because it is simply characteristic of diplomats to stay non-committal even when they disagree and continue as if nothing had happened. That’s a false understanding of international communication, because diplomacy increasingly appears as a business without backbone or conscience.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s decision to cancel his visit to the Syrian capital Damascus on short notice is a positive deviation from the above scenario. In his speech before Steinmeier’s arrival, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made it clear that there was no longer a reason for this visit.
Not because he described Israel as the “enemy.” Israel is that, as long as the two states are officially at war with each other. But Assad went further than that: He rejected the peace efforts in the Middle East. Although the Syrian president spoke about his country’s readiness for peace, he added that this would not apply to Israel. Who does Assad want to make peace with, if not with the enemy of today? One could almost conclude that he doesn’t want peace at all. And that that is why he is disqualifying himself as a constructive partner in the permanent Middle East settlement.
Not that any of those supposed revelations haven’t been obvious for more than half a century, mind you, but at least Germany showed a moment of enlightenment.