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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Nasrallah says Israel wants cease-fire, U.S. opposed

In a speech on Hezbullah's al-Manar television tonight, Hezbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah claimed that Israel wants a cease fire but that the US is opposed.
"The bombardment of Afula and its military base is the beginning ... Many cities in the center [of Israel] will be targeted in the 'beyond Haifa' phase if the savage aggression continues on our country, people and villages.

"The Israelis are ready to halt the aggression because they are afraid of the unknown. The one pushing for the continuation of the aggression is the U.S. administration. Israel has been exposed as a slave of the U.S.

"There are developments on the diplomatic front, and attempts to end the crisis, thanks to our strong position. The enemy attained no military achievements. They admit this."
Nasrallah also claimed that Israel suffered a "serious defeat" in ground fighting around Bint Jbial.

While Israel did not suffer a defeat at Bint Jbeil, and while it is (hopefully) not looking for a cease fire, this does not mean that the war is going well. In a column in Sunday morning's HaAretz, military analyst Zev Schiff says that Israel is not giving US Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice enough military cards to keep the war going:

... [Rice] needs military cards, and unfortunately Israel has not succeeded to date in providing her with any. Besides bringing Hezbollah and Lebanon under fire, all of Israel's military cards at this stage are in the form of two Lebanese villages near the border that have been captured by the IDF.

If the military cards Israel is holding do not improve with the continuation of the fighting, it will result in a diplomatic solution that will leave the Hezbollah rocket arsenal in southern Lebanon in its place. The diplomatic solution will necessarily be a reflection of the military realities on the ground.

Also from the Syrian perspective there seems to be a contradiction between the American strategy and the steps Israel has taken with regards to Syria. Washington wants the solution to the problem of Hezbollah as a militia to be found in Lebanon. There are those in Washington who are recommending a connection to Syria must be found on this matter, but at the State Department and the White House they say this would simply invite Syria back into Lebanon, and this should not be allowed.

Damascus must be worried about a foiling of the American-Lebanese diplomatic plans. Syrian concerns should have stemmed from Israel, but for days now Israel is doing everything possible to convince Damascus it is not in any danger. If there is no danger from Israel, Damascus can certainly allow itself to undermine any possible plan meant to weaken and defeat Hezbollah. It will act on its own and with Iran without any fear.

Israel has limited options for continuing the fighting. Since it has not succeeded to date to restrict Hezbollah's war of attrition against urban centers in Israel, including the targeting of Afula, the only option is a rapid operation for the capture of southern Lebanon in order to destroy the Hezbollah rocket arsenal prior to the transfer of a multinational force to the area. It may have other serious options, but these will not affect the rocket arsenal of Hezbollah. This is a race against time and against Hezbollah that is aided by Syria and Iran.

The further along the diplomatic process moves, international pressure will be exercised against Israel, including by the Americans, calling for an end to the targeting of Lebanese infrastructure. There is no point mobilizing reserve divisions if they are not going to be used appropriately, from a strategic point of view, before the end of the war.
And in an article in the JPost over the weekend (which I have not found on their web site), historian Michael Oren (currently on reserve duty in Avivim on the Lebanese border) says that Israel has to start treating Hezbullah like a real army and not like a 'rag tag' group of militiamen.

I know for a fact that Israeli army troops are being shipped north in the morning. If there's really going to be a cease fire by Wednesday so that the Fwench can send their troops in as part of a multi-national force, I have to wonder why.


At 6:41 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Look, I want the IDF to kick the last ass as much as the next guy, but Schiff is right. Condi expected Olmert to unleash the IDF up the the Litani, at least. Instead, he folded up like a cheap card table. UNLESS this is some sort of Double Secret Probation Offensive that Rice is in cahoots with (I'm sorry, I just don't see Olmert being that devious). Your tale about reinforcements moving to the border is telling, but only so much.

Condi has to go to war with the Israeli leadership she's got. Unfortunately, she's saddled with Olmert, not Sharon.

At 6:57 AM, Blogger Dave in Pa said...

Ah, that it were Sharon or Rabin as PM! "Break their bones!", as Rabin ordered the Army.


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