Another conflict with Lebanon?

April 21, 2010

Jordan's King Abdullah has recently disclosed that he believes an Israel-Hezbollah-Lebanon conflict is “imminent.”

The fact that Israeli authorities are handing out gas masks and have launched a media campaign stressing their importance lends credibility to the monarch's chilling prediction.
Israel fears peace more than war. The Arab peace proposal is still on offer until July this year while U.S. President Barack Obama is said to be working on a new “road map.” But there is one major obstacle: Israel's right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reluctantly pays lip service to the concept of a Palestinian state but, in reality, he isn't interested in exchanging occupied land for peace. And neither is he prepared to relinquish East Jerusalem to be the capital of a new Palestinian state. It's a dangerous impasse that has frustrated Palestinian hopes to the extent some are calling for a third intifada, which would achieve nothing except bolstering the flagging Israeli narrative that Palestinians are “terrorists”.
If this slick-talking, uncompromising Zionist were to chance upon a genie-in-a-bottle, he would magic the Palestinians away. But since geniis are in short supply nowadays, he is intent on diminishing the Palestinian population with a military order declassifying Palestinians residents of the West Bank as infiltrators if they fail to produce valid permits. Those considered to be illegal residents will be criminalized and exposed to fines, imprisonment and deportation.
Once the Palestinian presence is suitably pruned, he would be amenable to a demilitarized noncontiguous Palestinian state that has no control over its borders, coastline or airspace; in other words, a sort of Greater Gaza where the population would exist or subsist according to an Israeli leader's whims.
Unfortunately for Netanyahu his game is up. President Obama sees through his foot-dragging and is piling on the pressure with an implicit threat of a US-imposed settlement. The U.S. leader has made firm demands for Israel to cease expanding Jewish colonies on the West Bank, to end the demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and to relax the blockade of Gaza. He has also included Israel in his calls for nuclear nations to sign-up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). There are signs that this president is in no mood to shower Israel with unconditional love even if this means head-butting an Israel-subservient Congress.
Such an unprecedented strain in US-Israeli relations is eroding Netanyahu's popularity at home and could lead to early elections.
Just a year ago, Israel could do no wrong in the eyes of the international community whereas now it can do little right. However, Israel would quickly be released from the doghouse if it were seen to be at war for its very survival. The U.S. would be forced to back up its longtime ally, Middle East peace would be relegated to the backburner and dependent on the outcome of such a conflict, Netanyahu's approval rating would soar. There are certainly indicators that such a devious plan without any regard for human life may be afoot.
In recent days, Israelis warplanes have violated Lebanon's airspace and have illuminated the skies over a southern Lebanese village with flares. Concurrent with those provocations, Israel is accusing Syria of supplying Hezbollah with Scud missiles with the potential of being fitted with chemical warheads and capable of reaching Tel Aviv.
Damascus denies this claim and, for the moment, Washington is fence sitting. A State Department spokesman has confirmed that the U.S. is “increasingly concerned about the sophisticated weaponry that is allegedly being transferred”; another official has doubted the veracity of the allegation.
Whether or not Hezbollah is armed with Scuds isn't an issue when the organization's leader Hassan Nasrallah has admitted that his military wing has 30,000 missiles with enough range to damage any city within Israel. Ali Fayyad, a pro-Hezbollah Lebanese MP has protested that “the Israeli enemy is going too far with its aggressive and provocative acts” and has asked the Lebanese government to file a complaint with the United Nations Security Council.
It's unlikely that Hezbollah will easily take the bait… Conflict would not be in the interest of Lebanon which is enjoying renewed economic stability and neither would it benefit Hezbollah, which has an influential presence within the Lebanese government and whose military worth is already proven. But if Israel's provocation becomes too intense, then Nasrallah may be forced to respond. Alternatively, Israel could ignite hostilities with a false-flag operation that would paint Hezbollah as the belligerent party.
Netanyahu's possible motives for attacking Lebanon are manifold. Following the failure of the Israeli military's mission in 2006 which was to disarm Hezbollah, Israel needs a definitive win so as to propagate the myth of its invincibility and eradicate the threat from Hezbollah on its northern border.
According to The Times, Syria is to be held responsible in the event Hezbollah sends ballistic missiles into Israel. “We'll return Syria to the Stone Age,” an Israeli minister was quoted as warning.
Obama needs to read the tealeaves and nip Israel's aggression in the bud while Arab states must find a united voice and a unity of purpose before the rabid dogs are once again unleashed leaving death and destruction in their wake.
(Source: Arab News)