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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Three-front war approaching?

Here's the tail end of an interesting analysis.
Israel has two strategies in the face of the potential storm. One is a devastating attack on Gaza followed by rotating forces to the north to deal with Hezbollah and intense suppression of an intifada. Dealing with Gaza fast and hard is the key if the intention is to abort the evolution I laid out. But the problem here is that the three-front scenario I laid out is simply a possibility; there is no certainty here. If Israel initiates conflict in Gaza and fails, it risks making a possibility into a certainty — and Israel has not had many stunning victories for several decades. It could also create a crisis for Egypt’s military rulers, not something the Israelis want.

Israel also simply could absorb the attacks from Hamas to make Israel appear the victim. But seeking sympathy is not likely to work given how Palestinians have managed to shape global opinion. Moreover, we would expect Hamas to repeat its attacks to the point that Israel no longer could decline combat.

War thus benefits Hamas (even if Hamas maintains plausible deniability by having others commit the attacks), a war Hezbollah has good reason to enter at such a stage and that Fatah does not want but could be forced into. Such a war could shift the Egyptian dynamic significantly to Hamas’ advantage, while Iran would certainly want al-Assad to be able to say to Syrians that a war with Israel is no time for a civil war in Syria. Israel would thus find itself fighting three battles simultaneously. The only way to do that is to be intensely aggressive, making moderation strategically difficult.

Israel responded modestly compared to the past after the Eilat incident, mounting only limited attacks on Gaza against mostly members of the Palestinian Resistance Committees, an umbrella group known to have links with Hamas. Nevertheless, Hamas has made clear that its de facto truce with Israel was no longer assured. The issue now is what Hamas is prepared to do and whether Hamas supporters, Saudi Arabia in particular, can force them to control anti-Israeli activities in the region. The Saudis want al Assad to fall, and they do not want a radical regime in Egypt. Above all, they do not want Iran’s hand strengthened. But it is never clear how much influence the Saudis or Egyptians have over Hamas. For Hamas, this is emerging as the perfect moment, and it is hard to believe that even the Saudis can restrain them. As for the Israelis, what will happen depends on what others decide — which is the fundamental strategic problem that Israel has.
I would say that at least at some point, the 'devastating attack on Gaza' is the only option. Of course, that's what we did in 2006, and we were attacked by Hezbullah within two weeks.

But there are a few possibilities that are not considered here. First, that the Syrian uprising decides to continue despite any Hezbullah attack on Israel. At this point it is possible that the Syrian people understand that the Assad's have used Israel as a means of distracting the Syrian people from the Assads' failures. Not likely but possible.

Second, does Hezbullah really want war? The Lebanese people clearly don't. Could a war in which Hezbullah loses lead to Hezbullah being thrown out of power? Are they willing to take that chance?

Third, is Israel really ready to conduct a devastating and hard attack on Gaza? We can only hope and pray. Right now, the government seems more concerned with avoiding casualties from 'peaceful' 'Palestinian' demonstrations in Judea and Samaria than anything else.

Fourth, can the US keep Egypt under control by threatening its foreign aid? Will it?

Read the whole thing. No matter what the answers to those questions are, it looks like stormy waters ahead.

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At 12:30 PM, Blogger Findalis said...

Israel fought a three front war in 1967. The key is to attack all at once.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


1. Ain somchin al ha'nes (We don't rely on miracles, which 1967 clearly was).

2. The weaponry available today is much deadlier and in much larger quantities than was the case in 1967.

3. The IDF did NOT attack all three at once. They attacked Egypt, when it was clear that Egypt would otherwise attack us (and had already committed an act of war by closing the canal), absorbed fire from Syria, responded to Jordan in self-defense after trying to convince them to stay out, and then attacked Syria at the end of the week in response to escalating fire from the Syrians. Read Oren's book.

At 8:09 PM, Blogger Captain.H said...

Psalm 121 Today, tomorrow, just as in the miracle of 1967.


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