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Israel seems ready to go to war against Lebanon

Middle East 2006 Israel Lebanon Conflict

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#1 Spectacles

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 06:48 PM

What the heck is going on? Israel made it pretty clear last week that it gets riled up when someone captures one of its soldiers. Now Hezbollah has captured two and Israel seems to be getting reading to clobber Lebanon.

Are Lebanon and Syria trying to goad Israel into all out war? Why?

http://news.yahoo.co...zkxBHNlYwN0bQ--

Quote

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Hezbollah militants crossed into
Israel on Wednesday and captured two Israeli soldiers. Israel responded in southern Lebanon with warplanes, tanks and gunboats, and said eight of its soldiers had been killed in the violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the soldiers' capture "an act of war," and his Cabinet prepared to approve more military action in Lebanon — a second front in the fight against Islamic militants by Israel, which already is waging an operation to free a captured soldier in the
Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army said three soldiers were killed in the initial raid, and four others were killed when their tank hit a land mine in southern Lebanon. An eighth soldier was killed as an Israeli force tried to get to the tank, which was part of a ground invasion aimed at rescuing the captured soldiers.

Olmert said he held the Lebanese government responsible for the two soldiers' safety, vowing that the Israeli response "will be restrained, but very, very, very painful."

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said he will not release the captives except as part of a prisoner swap. He said the two soldiers were "in a safe and very far place."

"No military operation will return them," he told a news conference in Beirut. "The prisoners will not be returned except through one way: indirect negotiations and a trade."

Israeli jets struck deep into southern Lebanon, blasting bridges and Hezbollah positions and killing two civilians, the Lebanese officials said.

The Israeli military planned to call up thousands of reservists, and residents of Israeli towns on the border with Lebanon were ordered to seek cover in underground bomb shelters.

Quote

The Shiite Lebanese Hezbollah said it captured the two soldiers to help win the release of prisoners held in Israel. Hamas had made identical demands in seizing Cpl. Gilad Shalit on June 25.

A top Hamas leader said his movement did not coordinate with Hezbollah over the capture of the soldiers but said it was "natural" for the groups to work together against Israel.

"Now Israeli has to decide on its choices," Osama Hamdan, Hamas' spokesman in Lebanon, told The Associated Press. "It is early to talk about details of the exchange, but no doubt the operation carried out by Hezbollah today will strengthen our demands to exchange the captives."

Israel, however, appeared determined to win freedom for its troops with a show of force.

Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz warned the Lebanese government that the Israeli military will target infrastructure and "turn back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years," if the soldiers were not returned, Israeli TV reported.


Quote

The Arab League planned an urgent meeting on the crisis Thursday amid "fears of widening of tension and possible Israeli strike against Syria," which backs Hezbollah, a senior league official in Cairo said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.



Quote

Israel occupied a small strip of southern Lebanon for 18 years before withdrawing in 2000 amid public complaints in Israel. Hezbollah fighters have controlled the Lebanese side of the border since then. Israel and Hezbollah have been clashing for two decades and still fight over a small sliver of border territory — Chebaa Farms.

Lebanon is under U.N. and U.S. pressure to disarm the Shiite guerrilla group and move its own military into the south, but the government has refused to do so, calling Hezbollah a legitimate resistance group.

I wonder how much influence Hezbollah has on the Shiite militias in Iraq....

Edited by Spectacles, 13 July 2006 - 09:20 AM.

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#2 Shalamar

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 06:57 PM

I'd like to give you a long slow *blink* and answer simply "They're fatally stupid?"

I haven't the faintest rational reason to give you. I guess some people just can't resist poking a stick into a hornets nest.
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#3 Delvo

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 07:03 PM

I wonder HOW soldiers of one country get captured by another. Which country were they in?

#4 tennyson

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 07:09 PM

The link gave me that the page couldn't be found when I clicked on it.
But from what I know this would be Hezbollah not the Lebanese government. They have enough problems trying to maintain some level of order and continue the rebuilding with all the chaos in the wake of the Syrian withdrawl and the last thing they want would be more trouble with Isreal after having to rebuild the country from virtually nothing after the civil war ended in 1990.
Hezbollah is an Iranian cat's paw not a Syrian, although the Syrian and Lebanese governments have connections with it from the time of the civil war  and are the only remaining states on Isreal's border that haven't signed peace treaties with it I don't see either Lebanon or Syria wanting a war right now. Lebanon has very little in the way of a military and Syria has enough internal  and external problems of its own to deal with right now. My guess is that this may be more of an issue of Iran deciding to see if it can bog down Isreal in Lebanon again, and maybe get some worldwide condemantion going on there to take the focus off of Iran for a while.  
When Isreal invaded Lebanon in 1982 it wasn't going after the Lebanese government that had pretty much collapsed by then it was going after the PLO and its offshoots who had taken sides in the civil war and had massed a rather large, well-equiiped army in Lebanon.
If Israel decides to go into Lebanon again it would be going after Hezbollah in much the same way and thier is little the government of Lebanon could do about it.
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#5 Spectacles

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 07:11 PM

I just wonder if the whole damned region is about to blow wide open. The sectarian violence in Iraq is getting worse. Iran is thumbing its nose at everyone. Syria and Lebanon seem to be taunting Israel into war. The Taliban is making a comback in Afghanistan. All we need now is a coup in Pakistan....And of course we have 130,000 troops in the middle of it all.

I wonder if Hezbollah and Hamas and Syria and Iran are working some sort of strategy, figuring now is a good time to take on both the U.S. and Israel.
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#6 tennyson

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 07:13 PM

Quote

I wonder HOW soldiers of one country get captured by another. Which country were they in?

According to the article it seems that Hezbollah forces crossed into Isreal and ambushed the troops there then the Isreali troops followed them into Lebanon. But Hezbollah isn't a national military, it is an independent Shia militia, until recently just a fading echo from Lebanon's civil war.
"Only an idiot would fight a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."

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#7 Spectacles

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 07:16 PM

Sorry about that Yahoo link. I just tried to find another link to that story but couldn't. Here's CNN's version:

http://www.cnn.com/2...east/index.html
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#8 tennyson

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 07:30 PM

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I just wonder if the whole damned region is about to blow wide open. The sectarian violence in Iraq is getting worse. Iran is thumbing its nose at everyone. Syria and Lebanon seem to be taunting Israel into war. The Taliban is making a comback in Afghanistan. All we need now is a coup in Pakistan....And of course we have 130,000 troops in the middle of it all.

I wonder if Hezbollah and Hamas and Syria and Iran are working some sort of strategy, figuring now is a good time to take on both the U.S. and Israel.

Thanks for the link. I really doubt any sort of high level connection is happening here. I also don't see any particular increase in sectarian violence in Iraq at the moment beyond the level we've been seeing for the last year or so.
Hezbollah is a Shia organization with extensive support from Iran while the Taliban is a hardline Sunni group that doesn't particularly like the Shia. Meanwhile Syria is an ethnically divided nation with a Sunni majority but ruled by a minority Alawite group that has no love for Iran's Shias or its revolution. I guess we could have some "enemy of my enemy is my friend" stuff going on but that only goes so far. Syria isn't going to get pulverized for Iran and war is definitely not in Lebanon's best interests. They have no control over Hezbollah and my guess is the public statements are making the appropriate noises on both sides for the masses while they try to organize something with Isreal quietly. Considering how much of a thorn in the side of the Lebanese government Hezballah has been I'm sure some factions there wouldn't mind if Isreal did crush them. That way the government could restore its control of the areas that had previously been Hezbollah's zone.
As for the Taliban, they may not be spent but they are contained and haven't gained anything but a whole lot of thier number dead during the spring offensive.
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#9 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 07:40 PM

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Specs: I wonder if Hezbollah and Hamas and Syria and Iran are working some sort of strategy, figuring now is a good time to take on both the U.S. and Israel.
If this is some sort of grand overriding strategy then it has to be the most shortsighted ones in the past couple of decades.  Sure the US military isn’t in a great position to tackle Syria and Iran at the same time especially with North Korea.  That said dragging Israel into the mess just puts them up against a first rate regional power whose specialty has been squishing the other local armies since the nation came into existence.  

Maybe dragging Israel into it might manage to galvanize the Muslim populations of some countries.  It is also a great way to get yourselves dragged through the mud several times over.  On top of that if Iran is stupid enough to send missiles in the direction of Israel then Iran could very well end up glassed.  Overall though I agree with Tennyson that this doesn’t seem to be some sort of grand plan but rather a bunch of things coming together at once.
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#10 Spectacles

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 07:48 PM

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CJ: If this is some sort of grand overriding strategy then it has to be the most shortsighted ones in the past couple of decades.

Oh, I agree. But it still wouldn't surprise me.

I do wonder if Hezbollah has a hand in the Shiite militias in Iraq. The violence there has increased since Sunday when members of a Shiite militia roamed through the Jihad neighborhood of Baghdad, knocking door-to-door, pulling over buses, all to slaughter Sunnis. Sunnis, of course, retaliated. In the past three days over a hundred Iraqis have been killed in sectarian violence. And since the bombing of the mosque in February, thousands have been killed.
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#11 Spectacles

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 07:51 PM

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tennsyon: war is definitely not in Lebanon's best interests. They have no control over Hezbollah and my guess is the public statements are making the appropriate noises on both sides for the masses while they try to organize something with Isreal quietly. Considering how much of a thorn in the side of the Lebanese government Hezballah has been I'm sure some factions there wouldn't mind if Isreal did crush them. That way the government could restore its control of the areas that had previously been Hezbollah's zone.

According to the CNN article, though, Hezbollah has seats in Lebanon's parliament and has refused to identify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. As a result,  Israel has said that all of Lebanon is fair game.
"Facts are stupid things." -Ronald Reagan at the 1988 Republican National Convention, attempting to quote John Adams, who said, "Facts are stubborn things"

"Although health care enrollment is actually going pretty well at this point, thousands and maybe millions of Americans have failed to sign up for coverage because they believe the false horror stories they keep hearing." -- Paul Krugman

#12 tennyson

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 07:52 PM

I think its more like both them and Hezbollah have the same set of hands leading back to Iran. Even with groups that aren't directly connected Iran carries a lot of influence due to the majority of the Shia faith being located there. They have a lot of behind the scenes influence on how peaceful the middle east through those various groups and connections.
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#13 tennyson

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 08:01 PM

Quote

According to the CNN article, though, Hezbollah has seats in Lebanon's parliament and has refused to identify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. As a result, Israel has said that all of Lebanon is fair game.

Hence my comment about some factions in Lebanon. The Maronites, the Druze and a lot of Sunni Lebanese have no love for Hezbollah but as long as things are relatively stable those groups gain nothing by acting against them. But in a crisis situation(and this is purely hypothetical) an alliance of groups or a single group that is an enemy of Hezballoh could use this as an excuse to try to push them out of thier position of power in Lebanon without having to directly deal with them.
I do worry that if Isreal goes in again this could undo all the work that has been done to heal the country after the civil war. If the central government falls or descends into infighting without a single dominant group we could have a divided Lebanon again, with people clinging to thier own ethnic groupd for protection.
"Only an idiot would fight a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."

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#14 gsmonks

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 08:11 PM

The core of the problem is the antisemitic views of Muslim extremists bent on the annihilation of Jews and Israel.

This extremism isn't coming from the Koran any more than the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition or witch burnings can be associated with the Bible.

The people involved are mostly illiterate peasants. They in turn tend to be exploited by well-educated people who are deeply imbedded in the social fabric of a clannish society that exists within a compromised political situation that is unable to divest itself of this element that ostensibly supports it.

The real monsters are the behind-the-scenes manipulators who exploit the ignorance and poverty and desperation of a peasant class bent on finding an outlet for their inbred, unreasoning hate.

Some of the worst offenders are people like Osama bin Laden who, like Saddam Hussein, exploit(ed) their followers by saying and promising one thing, whilst believing, thinking and operating entirely in their own self-interest.

Baiting Israel isn't the smartest thing to do, however. The Israelis know their enemies in ways that the US can only envy, and know how to deal with them. And unlike its neighbours, the Israeli economy is built to exploit and thrive in a war-situation- this with the knowledge that it will neither face sanctions nor reprisals (other than words) for its actions against people and territories the West is increasingly frustrated and disenchanted with.

Countries like the US view Israel as a release-valve in its Middle-East context, and though the US will no doubt ostensibly talk diplomacy, it's a safe bet that they will be cheering them on.

The Israeli government probably contacted the White House to get the lay of the land before considering a move against Lebanon, and I think it probable that they're going into this with US-borrowed confidence.
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#15 G1223

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 08:52 PM

Oh but the Arab world only wants nuclear power so they can have cheap power. Really just ask them.
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#16 MuseZack

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 09:49 PM

Hezbollah is playing a game on multiple levels here, both domestically and international.  Within Lebanon, it's the only faction that's allowed to retain its weapons, and it gains a huge degree of prestige from the perception that it's the only Arab force that's managed to defeat Israel in battle.  

But since the Hariri assassination and the withdrawl of Syria's occupation forces, Hezbollah's come under a tremendous amount of pressure to disarm.  And disarming makes them just another ethnic-based political party (and not even the only Shiite one-- there's also the rival Amal party.)  

So it seems clear that a big part of Hezbollah's strategy is to retain power and influence by restarting the armed conflict with Israel.  And the Arab satellite channels have been filled with images of Palestinian suffering in Gaza from the Israeli incursion, so Hezbollah is being seen as the only Arab force coming to the aid of the Palestinians by grabbing the soldiers and opening a second front.  On the international level, this will play very well in the Arab and Muslim world, where it's seen as a plucky resistance band giving the big Zionist bully a bloody nose, but within Lebanon, it's a riskier game.  While there's a lot of sympathy for the Palestinian cause and pride in Hezbollah's role in kicking Israel out south Lebanon, the other parties resent that they've kept their weapons and are allied with Syria and Iran, and most of all the Lebanese don't want to see all the progress they've made in rebuilding the country after the civil war undone by a war with Israel.

But neither is it in Israel's interest to escalate things in Lebanon too far.  So both sides are playing a dangerous balancing act.
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#17 tennyson

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 10:54 PM

Zack, all I can say is yes. You've managed to be both clearer and more consise than I've been on this issue, but then you do write for a living.  :cool:
"Only an idiot would fight a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."

— Londo, "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" Babylon-5


#18 MuseZack

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 11:04 PM

View Posttennyson, on Jul 13 2006, 03:54 AM, said:

Zack, all I can say is yes. You've managed to be both clearer and more consise than I've been on this issue, but then you do write for a living.  :cool:


Nah, you did great.  Being half-Lebanese, I follow the region a bit more closely than most people do.
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#19 gsmonks

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 11:31 PM

It's what we're not hearing that has my attention. When Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinians are in direct conflict, there are other players lurking in the background with agendas of their own.

None of these players are impulsive- an impression one gets if one relies on television for "news". "Swift reaction" is usually a euphemism for the last support being kicked out from holding back the dammed-up water that had actually been ready for release for some time.

I'd be interested to know, Zack, where Hezbollah's support lies, beyond the obvious.
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#20 Spectacles

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 08:13 AM

Interesting. Thanks for the information, Zack and tennyson. It's going to be interesting to see if Hezbollah has shot itself in its own foot regarding its stature in Lebanon.
"Facts are stupid things." -Ronald Reagan at the 1988 Republican National Convention, attempting to quote John Adams, who said, "Facts are stubborn things"

"Although health care enrollment is actually going pretty well at this point, thousands and maybe millions of Americans have failed to sign up for coverage because they believe the false horror stories they keep hearing." -- Paul Krugman



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