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Monday, December 3, 2007

Syrian flirtation with radical Islam

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/12/syrian-flirtation-with-radical-islam.html

Jerusalem Issue Brief
Vol. 7, No. 23    3 December 2007
 
 
Is Syria an Ally or Adversary of Radical Sunni Movements?
 
Eyal Zisser
 
Bashar al-Assad is clearly not his father. He is not respected or feared as was his father. People accept him in Syria not because of his character or his charisma - which is nonexistent - but because the average Syrian citizen sees no alternative. 

Syria displays a bunker mentality. It sees itself as a small country, constantly under attack by foreigners and by neighboring countries, always the target of a conspiracy, like Cuba or North Korea, which have a similar bunker mentality. 
American-Syrian relations were destroyed because of mistakes made by Bashar al-Assad. He destroyed Syria's close relations with the European Union, especially with France. He also destroyed the delicate relations his father built with the Egyptians, the Jordanians, and the Saudis. His father was smart enough to create this web of alliances that balanced each other. This doesn't exist anymore.  
There is a debate in America about whether the U.S. should engage in a dialogue with Syria, but what Bashar wants from America is full capitulation, a total American withdrawal from Iraq. Bashar is not happy about the prospects for the emergence of a pro-Western regime in Iraq. There is also nothing to discuss with Bashar about Lebanon unless the Americans are ready to give Lebanon back to the Syrians. 
We should be very realistic about what we can get from Syria. Syria is not about to become a close ally of the United States and part of what we call the moderate camp in the region. Syria is not Egypt, which is a big country with a long history and tradition, and which feels secure and sure of itself. This is why in the long run we can only get something very limited from Syria.
 
 
Bashar al-Assad's Syria
 
 
 
What more can be done in order to remove Syria from its alliance with North Korea and Iran? What more can be done to engage Syria in a more positive dialogue with Israel, the international community, and the United States? Unfortunately, there is very little we can do.
 
When we speak about Syria nowadays, we speak about Bashar al-Assad. When Bashar became president of Syria in June 2000, it wasn't clear if the generals, the bureaucracy, and the party members would ever accept him. Bashar has now survived for seven years and I see no real threat to the stability of his regime.
 
Bashar is the one who makes the decisions. When he became president we used to speak about the Old Guard, people who were left from the period of his father, Hafez al-Assad, like Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam and Minister of Defense Mustafa Tlass. They are all gone. Khaddam is now in exile, Tlass retired, and all around Bashar are people who were appointed by him and not people left from his father's era.
 
However, he is clearly not his father. He is not respected or feared as was his father. People accept him in Syria not because of his character or his charisma, which is nonexistent. The main reason for Bashar's support is the lack of any alternative seen by the average Syrian citizen. The democratic option, which probably will bring radical Islamists to power, is not popular in Syria. There is no liberal, pro-Western democratic camp as there was in Eastern Europe when the Soviet Union collapsed.
 
The Syrians have Lebanon on one side, which is approaching a new civil war, and on the other side they have Iraq, where the war actually reaches Syria in the form of almost two million Iraqi refugees. When the man in the street in Damascus sees the disintegration and chaos of Iraq, he concludes that it is better to stay with what he has right now that provides him with limited stability and security - the regime of Bashar al-Assad. That is the main reason why this regime is popular. In addition, Bashar's anti-Israeli and anti-American rhetoric is well accepted among the Syrian population and that is also a source of support for this regime.
 
Syria's Bunker Mentality
 
In order to understand Syria we have to take into consideration not only Bashar but also the mentality of the Syrian regime. Since it became an independent state in the 1940s, Syria has displayed a bunker mentality. It sees itself as a small country, constantly under attack by foreigners and by neighboring countries, always the target of a conspiracy. We usually compare Syria to Egypt or other Arab countries, but the more correct comparison is to states like Cuba or North Korea, which have a similar bunker mentality.
 
 The Syrians really believe that there is an American conspiracy to take over the Middle East. Seeing this immediate threat, they became closer with radical Muslim movements and with Iran, even though Syria's natural place is with Saudi Arabia, with its Arab brothers, and not with Iran.
 
The Syrians were surprised to discover that their readiness to cooperate with radical Islamic groups helped them in unexpected ways. For example, for some time the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood supported Syria.
 
 Hafez al-Assad never came out with any creative ideas to promote and achieve progress in Syrian-Israeli or Syrian-American relations. It was always the Israelis or Americans presenting their proposals to be rejected or discussed by the Syrians. We should not expect the Syrians to follow Anwar Sadat - to have a vision about how to get their country out of the bunker and to achieve economic progress. That is not Syria. This was not Hafez al-Assad, and it is not Bashar either.
 
In the early 1990s, a year or so after George Bush senior was defeated in the 1992 elections, he came to visit his friends in the Middle East. Bush didn't visit Israel, but he did visit Hafez al-Assad, back when American-Syrian relations were considered to be an asset for the Syrians. American-Syrian relations were destroyed because of mistakes made by Bashar al-Assad. He destroyed Syria's close relations with the European Union, especially with France. He also destroyed the delicate relations his father built with the Egyptians, the Jordanians, and the Saudis. His father was smart en ough to create this web of alliances that balanced each other. This doesn't exist anymore.
 
 Bashar survived, but he has left Syria standing in place, an undeveloped country with increasing economic problems and no chance of any improvement. At the same time, Syria has created an intimate alliance with Iran and with Hizbullah.
 
 Hizbullah is the friendliest element in Lebanon toward Syria, but they don't want Syria to come back into Lebanon. They have their own project of gaining control over Lebanon and they are doing well, but it will take them time. If the Syrians come back, they will just divide and rule, and this will be the end of Hizbullah's dream.
 
 
A U.S. Dialogue with Syria?
 
 There is a debate in America right now about whether the U.S. should engage in a dialogue with Syria. A dialogue about what? What Bashar wants from America is full capitulation, a total American withdrawal from Iraq. There is nothing to discuss. Bashar is not happy about the prospects for the emergence of a pro-Western regime in Iraq. There is nothing to discuss with Bashar about Lebanon unless the Americans are ready to give Lebanon back to the Syrians, like they did in the 1980s.
 
Can the Syrians do more to prevent people from going to Iraq and fighting the Americans or the Shi'ites there? Can the Syrian regime do more to destroy the training camps in Syria and block the transfer of money to these people? Yes, it can do more. But this is part of the Syrian mentality and the Syrian way of thinking, that it is all to be bargained over with the Americans.
 
Bashar only has a theoretical interest in having peace with Israel. He doesn't have the eagerness, decisiveness, or courage that we saw when Anwar Sadat came to Jerusalem. Bashar has no clear vision of where he wants to see Syria in five or ten years. Bashar is not heading anywhere and there is very little we can do to change his behavior and engage him in a more positive dialogue with the West. He's still in the bunker and isn't ready to get out.
 
 
Radical Islamists and Syria
 
 In 2004, for the first time in twenty years, radical Islamic groups began operating in Syria against Syrian targets. Every few weeks we hear of another group discovered by the government or another incident. Some are people who went to Iraq to fight the Americans and then came back to Syria to continue with their jihad, this time against local enemies - the secular Alawite regime in Syria. The Alawites are still very secular, but the Sunni majority is becoming more and more religious and this will become a challenge to the regime.
 
The Syrian regime had defeated the Muslim Brotherhood after its revolt in the years 1976-82. But today there are much more radical groups, inspired by and connected to al-Qaeda. The Syrian regime preferred to ignore these groups and allowed them to operate against the Americans. They are very small groups and most of the Syrian population doesn't support them yet, but clearly, in the long run, Syria will have a problem because Bashar al-Assad and his regime are totally secular, and Syrian society is much more secular than others in the Arab world.
 
The Syrian-Israeli Balance of Power
 
During the years 2000-2007, Israel twice attacked Syrian positions in Lebanon in April and July 2001 in retaliation for attacks on IDF positions by Hizbullah, killing almost 20 Syrian soldiers. In October 2003, Israeli aircraft bombed a Palestinian training camp seven kilometers north of Damascus. In 2002 and 2006, Israeli aircraft flew over Bashar's palace.
 
In all these cases there was no Syrian response. The Syrians were fully aware of the balance of power between them and the Israelis, and they were not interested in engaging in total war with Israel. The Syrians are fully aware that Israel is much stronger and there is no expectation among the Syrian public or in the Syrian army for immediate retaliation. The Syrians prefer to try to take revenge in indirect ways by using Hizbullah or the Palestinians.
 
 Following the war in Lebanon, Bashar al-Assad made his famous speech in August 2006, telling the Israelis that after what happened in Lebanon, the status quo was not going to continue. But Bashar was bluffing and Israel called his bluff in the mysterious air attack in September 2007.
 
 
Prospects for the Future
 
 
When Israelis speak about normalization and peace, what they have in mind is a marriage agreement - something warm with hugs and kisses. What Syrians have in mind is a decent divorce agreement. There will be a settlement, but it doesn't mean that we are going to be friends. The Syrians argue that they will have the same kind of relations they have with Ukraine, with no need for an embassy, but everyone knows the two countries are at peace.
 
We should be very realistic about what we can get from Syria. Syria is not about to become a close ally of the United States and part of what we call the moderate camp in the region. Syria is not Egypt, which is a big country with a long history and tradition, and which feels secure and sure of itself. This is why in the long run we can only get something very limited from Syria.
 
     *     *
Prof. Eyal Zisser is the Head of the Department of Middle Eastern and African History and the Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. Prof. Zisser is a leading expert on Syria and has written extensively on the history and politics of modern Syria, Lebanon, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Among his books are In the Name of the Father: Bashar al-Assad's First Years in Power; Lebanon: The Challenge of Independence; and Assad's Syria at a Crossroads. This Jerusalem Issue Brief is based on his appearance at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs in Jerusalem on October 25, 2007.
 
 
This Jerusalem Issue Brief is available online at:
 
 
 


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  • Why Hezbollah LOST the War in Lebanon!
    And the Current 'Present' Situation in Southern Lebanon

    By Gabriel al-Amin
    Beirut, Lebanon

    http://www.lebanonwire.com/0709MLN/07092429MN.asp


    On July 12, 2006 Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers that led to Israel's war with them and, by extension, Lebanon itself. Hezbollah has been on Israel's fence since the latter's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Israel always requested from the international community and from the Lebanese government to deploy its Lebanese Army there instead of Hezbollah militants. Hezbollah, quite naturally, refused! Hezbollah vowed to NEVER allow any other force other than itself to occupy southern Lebanon. Even during the conflict, Hezbollah said it would never agree to allow either the Lebanese army nor international monitors to patrol southern Lebanon.


    Then finally, when two IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers were kidnapped, Israel found the perfect excuse it was looking for to go into Lebanon and push Hezbollah well away from the Lebanese-Israel border. Israel pursued a limited invasion and killed over 500-600 Hezbollah members during the one month war. Additionally, Israel took over every single village in southern Lebanon. During the conflict even though Hezbollah received such a blow and all its members were freaked out and on the run. Yet when the hostilities ended, Hezbollah claimed victory! But did it really win?

    Firstly, Israel agreed to a cessation of hostilities NOT because it surrendered and defeated militarily, but because of international pressure from the European Union and the United States. During this conflict Israel endured more international pressure, than it ever did in the past 10 years. Israel was put forth conditions and international agreements, such as the deployment of 15,000 Lebanese soldiers and 15,000 United Nations peace keepers into southern Lebanon, and arms embargo on Hezbollah. "This" proposal which was presented to Israel which EVEN Hezbollah agreed to accept, was something Israel was yearning for for many decades and was a once in a life time opportunity, it was a REAL "golden opportunity," even the far right in Israel said "this is an excellent proposal, so give it a shot." This cessation of hostilities, known as "The August Ceasefire", was initiated by the United Nations and International Community, and was put forward before both parties, Israel and Hezbollah, Hezbollah JUMPED right on the wagon to accept, because they saw it as the only way out of the mess they got themselves into. While at the same time, Israel was more stubborn on accept this ceasefire-agreement, since they were on a winning streak. Ever since then Hezbollah has not been seen or heard from in Southern Lebanon! At long last the frail Lebanese Government has finally had a degree of sovereignty over all of its state and is finally monitoring and guarding its own borders.

    Not too long ago, nearly all television and print media images coming out of southern Lebanon were that of armed Hezbollah fighters with their guns, outposts, and banners. Not anymore! Hezbollah is now hiding under rocks in Southern Lebanon, its military might having received a substantial blow. In addition, Hezbollah is no longer enjoying the freedom and luxury of easily transferring Syrian/Iranian weaponry across the Lebanese-Syrian border or via the Beirut seaport. Much of this due to the combined efforts of a stronger Lebanese army and U.N. forces keeping a lid on such transferals.

    But even though the International Troops and the Lebanese Army keep Hezbollah in check, isn't there still Hezbollah presence in Southern Lebanon, EVEN THOUGH they are hiding "under rocks?" The same could be said for Al Qaeda presence in the United States, who are also hiding under rocks.

    Hezbollah may portray themselves as fearsome "militants" but they are in fact cowards cowering behind Lebanese civilians. Yet, through mostly pin-point targeting, the IDF dealt a heavy blow to Hezbollah. Five to six hundred Hezbollah terrorists were killed and nearly all of their bases, headquarters and tactical infrastructure destroyed.

    Some might say, "But didn’t Hezbollah manage to shoot over one hundred rockets into Israel every single day? AND why, during the war, didn't the Israel army/air-force ever manage to stop the Katyusha fire?" Well the answer to that would be "What's so impressive about groups of one or two rag heads pointing and setting off an unguided Katyusha southward into Israel?" In addition to the fact that Hezbollah only needed 1% of their military might in order to shoot Katyushas from their scattered fields and caves, into Israel every day. Plus, the only way to have completely stopped the Katyusha fire would have been to occupy every square inch of South Lebanon, including 20 miles north of the Litani, and to stay there for a few months.

    Israel 'BADLY' miscalculated Hezbollah, those past 6 years since it withdrew from Lebanon. Why? Because in 2004, it was estimated that if Israel was to engage in war with Hezbollah, their Katyusha arsenal would result in 100 deaths per day on the Israeli side, but instead only 2 people per day were killed by those rockets. But during the war, Israel came to the realization that 99.9% of all those rocket attacks, mostly result in a lot of noise and broken windows. Prior to the war it was also estimated that if Israel launched a ground invasion, it would result in the deaths of over 70 Israeli soldiers per day, which would have left over 2000 dead on the IDF side at the end of the 34 day conflict. But only 120 soldiers were killed in total, which makes it 3-4 soldiers per day. Also, prior to the war AND during the war, both the ‘poor’ Israeli intelligence and Hezbollah itself even claimed, that the “Mighty Hezbollah Rocket Arsenal” would hit Tel-Aviv, but ‘no rocket ever made it to Tel-Aviv!’ Instead, Hezbollah, tried to send little remote controlled ‘toy’ planes there.

    The reason 120 soldiers were killed in the first place, is because what would someone expect if an army deployed 30,000 soldiers squashed together in a small, tight, open space (South Lebanon)! It was amazing that after the war, those soldier didn't all suffer from cluster phobia. But even though Israel deployed so many soldiers in the open, Hezbollah didn't manage to deliver that harsh blow as was estimated before the ground invasion. But after all, Hezbollah didn't fight as courageous as the Egyptians during the Suez Canal invasion, nor as the Syrians during the war in the Golan heights.

    It shouldn’t shock the world that Hezbollah bombed a couple Israeli Merkava Tanks, because even the Palestinians have done it in the past too. Blowing up a Merkava Tank is NOT an ‘uncommon’ operation. But at the same time Israel was still advancing and still taking over every village in South Lebanon, bombing every headquarter and outpost, all Hezbollah members were on the run. Even though Israel lost a couple of tanks and didn’t destroy Hezbollah, it still doesn’t mean they (Israel) were defeated militarily. The definition of military defeat, mean: to crush the other side, force it to flee and or be on the run, or force it into surrender. Israel was not defeated militarily!

    The same can be said about the Israeli naval ship that was bombed by Hezbollah of the coast of Lebanon, during the first week of the conflict, which caused a tiny bit of damage to the ship and which resulted in the deaths of 4 Israeli naval soldiers. Once again this wasn’t a military defeat, but it was an internal flaw, which meant that; Israel needed a better anti missile naval detector radar, a better anti missile interceptor, and better armor for its ship. But did Hezbollah succeed in sinking the ship and destroying it completely, did they destroy all the Israeli naval ships of the Lebanon Coast, did Israel scurry away with all its ships with its tail in between its legs, or did Israel ask for a cease-fire? NO! Instead, Israel simultaneously the same day, brought the damaged ship back into Israel for repair and sent another ship to the Lebanon Coast to replace it.

    During and after the war, Hezbollah regretted starting the war in the first place, by kidnapped the two Israeli soldiers. But Israel on the other hand, didn’t regret going to war with Hezbollah, not even 1%. In fact Israel was ready to go for round two, but Hezbollah, will not dare even consider thinking about it.

    During the fighting, many people (both inside and outside Lebanon) finally saw Hezbollah as they really are... a terrorist group. It's strategy had little or no military value. The rockets they launched were intended to cause terror among Israel's citizenry. They were not aimed at Israel military targets.

    Israel never managed to destroy Hezbollah. As much as the IDF might have wanted to, the wiping out of Hezbollah was not Israel's goal. Nor could it ever be its goal. It is against the laws of physics to destroy a guerilla/terrorist group (America is learning it the hard way with Al Qaeda) since their operatives and members are always blending in and out of the civilian populations from which they so cowardly operate. In fact NEVER in history has a guerilla group ever been destroyed.

    Additionally, rescuing the kidnapped IDF soldiers without a strong intelligence as to exactly where they were hidden, would have been a nearly impossible mission.. assuming they had not already been secreted out of Lebanon into Syria or Iran!

    We constantly hear phrases such "Hezbollah emerged stronger," "Hezbollah is now stronger than ever," or "Hezbollah is now seen stronger than before!" There is some truth to that. Since before the Israeli withdrawal of 2000, Hezbollah was seen as more of a small arms, home made explosive, cut and run group, but during this conflict they were able to show off their Iranian made weapons. But they were no match for the Israeli army, whom they bowed down to at the end, by feeling too threatened to attack and provoke ever again.

    When the United Nations wanted to impose a 48-hour ceasefire, it was Hezbollah which rushed to accept while Israel had to be pressured. Obviously this was because Israel had the military momentum in her favor. And when the month-long conflict ended, Hezbollah leader, Nasrallah, remained in an underground bunker, no longer enjoying frequent visits to central Beirut, giving daily "Hate Israel" speeches, driving down to his home town of southern Lebanon or enjoying first class flights to Damascus and Tehran. Nasrallah even admitted that had he known that even one percent of this war would have gone as it had, he would have NEVER kidnapped the soldiers and thus started the war!

    "We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not.” - Hezbollah Leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, August 27, 2006

    In February 2007, there was a skirmish between Israeli troops and the Lebanese army on the Israel/Lebanon border, even though this skirmish that resulted in a shoot out and was unfortunate, the ray of light from all this, was that Israel was confronted and attacked by the Lebanese army and not by Hezbollah. This was one of the first signs that showed that the Lebanese army was doing its job. This was mostly due to the fact that Hezbollah lost its kingdom in Southern Lebanon, and is NOW in constant check by UNIFL, Lebanese Army, and International Troops. At least the Lebanese army was able to stand its ground and take control, unlike BEFORE the August 11 ceasefire! At least Israel finally got its wish, after 40 years, to FINALLY have the Lebanese army in control of the border. Since August 11, 2006 when the Lebanese army began its deployment in Southern Lebanon, not a single Katuysha, let alone a singe bullet was fired toward the Israeli side of the fence by Hezbollah. Unlike after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, when Hezbollah would look for any excuse to shoot Katyushas into Israel at least once every three months, but not anymore. No longer will the Israeli citizens of Northern Israel will ever live in fear once again!

    People in the Lebanese Government now hate Hezbollah, for bringing destruction to Lebanon. All of Hezbollah's southern Beirut strong posts were destroyed by Israel. Even after the cease fire, Israel stayed in Lebanon for two more months in order to destroy all remaining Hezbollah outposts and bunkers while Hezbollah stood by and did nothing. During the conflict some of the Israel/Lebanon border fence was destroyed and torn down, and Israel was in no rush to fix it, since what's the point? Hezbollah will not want to mess with the IDF again! Even until today some of that fence has not been fixed yet, since the only threat of infiltration, now, is from drug dealers smuggling Hashish across that border.

    But what about the Winograd Commission, "which is an independent Israeli government-appointed commission of inquiry, chaired by retired Israeli chief judge Eliyahu Winograd, which is set out to investigate and draw lessons from the failures experienced by Israel during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Which resulted in a war panel, and even the resignation of high figures such as the Israeli chief of staff Dan Halutz." The reason THIS is currently taking place in Israel, is it goes to show that Israel is a democratic country! If a "Lebanese-Winograd Commission" would be done to Hezbollah; for launching an illogical irresponsible attack on Israel, by kidnapping the two soldiers which led to the war and the destruction of Lebanon. And if a Lebanese Winograd Commission would be done to the Lebanese government; for not controlling its southern border by allowing thuggish armed militias (Hezbollah) to roam free there, allowing illegal weapon shipments via the Lebanese seaport, air port, and Syrian Lebanese border to those armed "non-governmental" militias, and allowing Syria and Iran to meddle in its politics, then Lebanon would crumble to dust! But after all, Lebanon is not a Democracy.

    Worst case scenario, the Winograd Commission and some of the failures of this war, prove, that Israel might have been defeated from within, but not militarily.

    Furthermore there hasn't been one complaint filed against Hezbollah on behalf of UNIFL and the International Troops since last year's August cease-fire, the only complaint filed, was against the Israeli army for their over flights over Lebanese territory. Speaking about Israeli over flights, even the Israeli army itself, hasn't complained even once, about hostile enemy fire against its planes by Hezbollah. Since Israel withdrew from Lebanon in May 2000, up until the war last summer, they continued their daily over flight and breaches over Lebanese territory, only to find themselves being confronted by Hezbollah anti-aircraft artillery. But after the August cease-fire Israel 'STILL' continued its breaches over Lebanese airspace, but this time, Hezbollah hasn't even shot one pellet at them! Maybe because they are deterred and maybe because UNIFL and the Lebanese army are now in control.

    After the war, Hezbollah saw that it could no longer push around and bully Israel, and are therefore now trying to bully the "weak" Lebanese government by; their mass demonstration, camping out in front of the Lebanese Parliament, and political assassinations.

    Israel did loose the war last summer, but not in Lebanon, but instead in Gaza. After Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, Israel began a massive military campaign in Gaza, destroying infrastructure, entering towns and cities, going after terrorists, and also trying to stop the Qassam rocket fire. But instead, all it achieved was nothing, and the results of it were, that now, the Palestinians saw even more of a weakness in Israel. After the Israeli military campaign in Lebanon, deterrence was at least achieved, BUT unlike in Gaza, after the massive military campaign took place there (Gaza), the Israeli deterrence was lost for good, and now, the Palestinians are, even, more UNDETERRED from Israel that ever! And therefore have increase their rocket fire into Israel. In addition to the fact that as soon as Israel stopped its military campaign, Hamas and other groups said, "They are now even more determined than ever to kidnap another Israeli Soldier." In April of 2007, they acted on their promise, under the cover of intense rocket fire on the Israel town of Sderot, Hamas terrorists again attempted to infiltrate Israel in order to abduct another soldier, but failed. A month later the militant group Islamic Jihad successfully infiltrated Israel, to also try to kidnap an Israeli soldier, but also failed. At least they weren't afraid to try!

    After the war some Arab Governments, including the Palestinians, claimed Hezbollah achieved a divine victory! But hey, lets not forget, that some of those Arab governments and Palestinians which claimed Hezbollah won that "divine victory," are some of those "same" Arab governments who "STILL" until today claim that Syria, Egypt, and the rest of the Arab World won the 1967 War and the 1973 War! That is why after this war Israel lost its deterrence against the Palestinians, Iran, and Syria. BUT gained heavily, its deterrence, against Hezbollah.


    Conclusion:

    People from around the world, before the August cease-fire, would have never believed nor imagined that the Lebanese army would EVER be in control of its southern border. Nor, people would have never believed Lebanon would EVER be able to establish control over "illegal" arms shipments across its Lebanese/Syrian border, sea ports, and airports, and, well, it finally is!

    Hezbollah will most likely never dare kidnap IDF soldiers because they saw the might and strength of the Israeli army, and they now feel threatened. Sure, some Hezbollah sympathizers may throw rocks, wave Hezbollah flags or scream "Allah Akbar" at the Lebanese-Israeli border fence but Hezbollah rank and file are laying low. Very low! And Hezbollah is no longer the imminent threat at that very same border.

    Since the 'moment' the two soldiers were kidnapped and even during the war, Israel knew, they would not succeed in getting them back, in addition to the fact that destroying a guerilla group is against the laws of physics! Once people will get those two facts into their heads, then THEY will realize that, the outcomes that were achieved as a result of this conflict, were the best possible "REALISTIC" outcomes that Israel could have achieved.

    Obviously this past year, the Northern Israeli border has been the quietest it has ever been over the past 40 years.

    By, Gabriel al-Amin
    Beirut, Lebanon



    Articles and Refernces:

    UNIFL: Not 'ONE' complaint filed against Hezbollah since last years cease-fire
    (Jerusalem Post 6/14/2007)
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1181813036239&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    Again, Israeli gloom is misplaced (First Post - 4/17/2007)
    http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?menuID=1&subID=688&WT.srch=1

    Lebanese army, UNIFIL are keeping Hezbollah in check (Haaretz - 2/21/2007)
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/828765.html

    Hezbollah's 'Victory'? (Washington Post 9/1/2006)
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/31/AR2006083101444_pf.html

    The Lebanese Winnograd Commission (Thomas Friedman, New York Times 5/10/2007)
    http://www.theolympian.com/109/story/104847.html

    By Blogger Cedars1559, At December 5, 2007 3:19:00 AM GMT+00:00  

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