Monday, August 14, 2006

Ceasefire holds - so far

As of the time of this posting, Hezbollah has fired no rockets into Israel since the ceasefire went into effect at midnight CDT last night. Some desultory small-arms fire has been exhanged in a couple of places between the IDF and some Hezbollah fighters, but Israel's air force and heavy weapons are silent.

Most observers are less than confident this state of affairs will hold. Consider this Washington Post headline: Cease-Fire Takes Effect; More Fighting Expected (link is perishable).
The Israeli cabinet approved the cease-fire on Sunday. The Lebanese government and Hezbollah agreed to the cease-fire Saturday. Prospects for a lasting halt in the fighting appeared shaky as Hezbollah's leader said his militia would keep fighting Israeli troops as long as they remained in southern Lebanon, and Israeli officials insisted they would not withdraw their soldiers until an international force and the Lebanese army took control of the border area. Assembling an international military force in Lebanon is expected to take at least two or three weeks.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah meanwhile has claimed,
... his guerrillas had achieved a "strategic, historic victory" against Israel.

"We came out victorious in a war in which big Arab armies were defeated (before)," the black-turbaned cleric said.

He further declared that now was not the time to debate the disarmament of his guerrilla fighters, saying the issue should be done in secret sessions of the government to avoid serving Israeli interests.

"This is immoral, incorrect and inappropriate," he said. "It is wrong timing on the psychological and moral level particularly before the cease-fire," he said in reference to calls from critics for the guerrillas to disarm.

Nasrallah, speaking on the day a cease-fire took effect - ending 34 days of brutal fighting between Hizbullah and Israel - called Monday "a great day."

"We are today before a strategic, historic victory, without exaggeration," he said in a taped speech on Hizbullah's al-Manar TV.

He declared that the massive destruction inflicted upon Israel was an expression of what he called its "failure and impotency."
Much of Nasrallah's rhetoric is just bluster; he can hardly confess to his own organization or the world at large that he's been whipped, even if he thinks so, though it's highly unlikely he doesn't actually believe what he's saying. (And it's useful to note that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is not claiming Israel has decisively beaten Hezbollah.)

I wonder, though, whether Olmert was sly like a fox and played the UN to gain political-diplomatic cover for crushing Hezbollah before the multinational force arrives. I don't actually think so, but it's possible.


At Tue Aug 15, 12:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good little article from the American Prospect about "The French Connection." I hope you can comment more on France's role in the diplomactic efforts in the Arab world.


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