Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Western delusions about Lebanon

The UN resolution Siniora referred to several times this summer was 194, but GA 194, not SC 194. Section 11,

"Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."

In September, Jewish Voice for Peace expressed a hope that peace negotiations to end the occupation of the Palestinians will occur under the terms of the Saudi initiative of 2002 and not "the absurd 'roadmap' advocated by the Bush Administration" (Sep 15 06). Indeed, the roadmap never has been anything more than a rhetorical ploy by an American administration that has no real policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sharon was frequently quoted as saying that Bush gave him whatever he wanted.

Failing that (the Saudi peace initiative), " may finally dawn on the Israeli and American leadership that the best way to curb Iranian influence, particularly in Lebanon is to reach a peace agreement with Syria, based on a return of the Golan Heights." When Sleeping Beauty awakens.

"Intelligence Brief: Internal Political Tensions in Post-Conflict Lebanon," PINR, October 04 2006.

"The main political dividing line in Lebanon is represented by the attitude of different political actors toward Syria. The main actors of the pro-Syrian bloc are Hezbollah and some of the Christian Maronite leaders, such as Suleiman Franjieh and Michel Aoun. The anti-Syrian bloc, known as the March 14 coalition, includes the Sunni group of Saad Hariri and Fouad Siniora called the Future Movement, the Druze Progressive Socialist Party led by Walid Jumblatt, and the Qornet Shehwan Gathering composed of the Christian Maronite factions of the alliance. This gathering includes the Kataeb Party (also known as the Phalange Party) of Amin Gemayel, the Lebanese Forces of Samir Geagea and the National Liberals....The Shi'a community composes the relative majority of Lebanon's population, but its role in Lebanese politics does not equal its demographic weight....The struggle between Hezbollah and the anti-Syrian bloc of the March 14 coalition is not solely about support for Syrian presence in the country. Rather, the tactical alliance among Sunni, Christians and Druze rests on their common interests of avoiding the increased influence of Hezbollah within Lebanon.

"During the coming months, tensions will increase, even though it is unlikely that open fighting among the different groups will occur....Next year there will be national elections...."

The PINR analysis sounds like wishful thinking, probably related to the belief in some US and Israeli circles that a Lebanese backlash against Hezbollah is about to erupt. After the war, Jewish Voice for Peace saw the Lebanese “divide” differently: "
As a militia, Hezbollah was losing its grip before the Israeli attack. But Israel's actions have reversed this. During the war, the pro-Western Prime Minister of Lebanon told the American Secretary of State that she was not welcome in Lebanon unless she brings a cease-fire with her and he openly thanked Hezbollah, heretofore his bitter rival, for defending Lebanon" (Sep 15 06).

There is also a widespread belief that the business of the multinational force in Lebanon is to disarm Hezbollah and prevent Iran and Syria from sending more arms.

Cluster bombs

James Brooks, "'Desirable Duds': The new bombers of Lebanon," Media Monitors, Wednesday October 18 2006. [39 references, most with hotlinks.]

"Since the beginning of the ceasefire less than two months ago, 20 people have been killed and 120 others have been injured by cluster bomblets and unexploded ordnance. [4]

"UN humanitarian coordinator David Shearer wants to know why the IDF deployed 90 percent of its cluster bombs during the last 72 hours of the conflict, while the UN ceasefire resolution was being approved.[5]

"UN officials are reportedly 'dumbfounded.' [6] What could explain Israel's intention in such an act, when peace was at hand?

"The IDF responds that the 'use of cluster munitions is legal under international law,' and claims its military 'uses such munitions in accordance with international standards.'[7] Yet reports from deminers, aid workers, and civilians in the region clearly state that cluster bomblets are being found on roofs, in gardens, streets, and yards, everywhere people live.[8] To say that Israel used cluster bombs indiscriminately in Lebanon would miss the point. Israel deployed cluster bombs heavily in civilian areas. A number of villages were hit with multiple cluster munitions attacks. Well over a million of these antipersonnel weapons were fired by highly accurate artillery batteries, frequently at targets that were civilian beyond a shadow of a doubt.[9]"

"After Lebanon," Jewish Voice for Peace, September 15, 2006.

"...Israel's invasion of Lebanon has drawn nearly universal scorn, has caused many people who are generally supportive of Israel to criticize its behavior and has severely eroded global good will to Israel."

"...the Israeli onslaught and high number of civilian casualties quickly united the Lebanese population against Israel and in support of Hezbollah."

"...both sides were committing war crimes by targeting civilians."

"Neither the UN troops nor the Lebanese military intends to disarm Hezbollah, nor will the UN deployment extend to the Syrian border to prevent future arms deliveries to Hezbollah from Iran via Syria. Lebanon is called on to prevent this by the resolution, but their ability and incentive to do so seem negligible."

"This war was the biggest military failure in Israel’s history. Although in truth, there was never any real attempt to retrieve the two soldiers taken by Hezbollah, it is certainly not lost on the Israeli public that those two soldiers remain in Hezbollah’s hands. Israel’s stated goals of first destroying Hezbollah and later damaging them or driving them from Southern Lebanon all failed."

"...this was the heaviest toll in civilian damage that Israel has seen in a cross-border war since 1948. 44 Israeli civilians were killed....some 500,000 Israelis were forced to flee. The sectors that were hit the hardest were Arab and Mizrahi (Jews of Middle Eastern descent)."

Dan Halutz, the Israeli Chief of Staff "was one of numerous Israeli military people who were deeply opposed to the 2000 withdrawal from Lebanon and have been preparing for a renewed assault on Southern Lebanon ever since."

"...historically, military setbacks for Israel have produced an increased willingness to engage in constructive diplomacy. After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, proposals from Egyptian President Anwar Sadat found much more receptive ears in Israel than they had before. After the first intifada, Israel was suddenly willing to negotiate both Palestinian autonomy and a potential settlement with Syria over the Golan Heights, though the latter fell apart after the murder of Yitzhak Rabin."

"Israel’s air of military invincibility ..."

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