Saturday, August 05, 2006

Some links

1. I explained here that most military analysts said at the war's opening that Hezbollah was the best Arab army. Today the UK TimesOnline reports that, "'Hezbollah aren't suckers, they know how to fight.'" It tells of interviews with Israeli soldiers coming off the line of battle.
On one thing they were unanimous: the prowess of their foe.

“It was hell. They are really well trained. They’re not suckers, they know how to fight,” said one, slumped on the pavement. “You’re scared the whole time over there. We didn’t get any sleep the whole week.” There was not a voice of dissent.
2. The Jordanian paper Al Bawaba says that Hezbollah's social network has been torn to shreds by the fighting.
Israel has been targeting not only Hizbullah's fighters, but also, the social network that prior to the current clashes had served Lebanon's Shiite community with its basic needs. Massive damage to Hizbullah's social facilities along with the huge outflow of refugees from southern Lebanon has weighed heavily on the Shiite group's welfare capabilities. As a result, promises of Hizbullah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah to help the nation's poor Shiite population are being put to the test. ...

In addition to physical damage to Hizbullah facilities, many Hizbullah operatives, including those in charge of social affairs, have been forced to flee. Consequently, almost all of Hizbullah's welfare activities have come to halt.
Analysis: I explained here that one of Hezbollah's greatest strengths was its social-support network. With an ineffectual central Lebanese government, Hezbollah gained much support by filling in the huge gaps that the government left open. Even after the beginning of the present war, Hezbollah was active in assisting civilians whose homes had been destroyed or needed food.

If Al Bawaba is correct, that Hezbollah's ability to offer such support is now in shreds, then it means on the one hand that Lebanese civilians' suffering will be that much less alleviated, and on the other that one of Hezbollah's main domestic strengths is much reduced. This may lead to less support among many Lebanese people. A lot of Lebanese who said before the war that they supported Hezbollah said so not because of Hezbollah's aim to destroy Israel, but because of Hezbollah's social programs. Once those programs are ruined, support based on them may well vanish.

3. Related, Ahmed Al-Jarallah, editor-in-chief of the Saudi-based Arab Times, says that Hezbollah "is in a quagmire."
In what he calls "Beyond Haifa," [Hezbollah chief Hassan] Nasrallah says his fighters will begin rocket attacks deeper into Israel, south of Haifa. We wonder if Nasrallah took any time to review his achievements in the first phase of the war against the enemy before thinking about the next. So far his only achievements have been causing the destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure and killing of innocent Lebanese. If he begins the second phase the only result will be wiping out of whatever remains of Lebanon’s infrastructure and killing of the rest of the Lebanese.
Al-Jarallah also says that communications between Iran and Saudi Arabia show that, "... Tehran has started worrying it may lose the war and wants to retreat. However, Nasrallah seems not to have received this information."

3. Michael Totten, a freelance journalist who recently lived in Lebanon for several months, explains how he is pro-non-Hezbollah Lebanon and Israel at the same time.

4. The effects of Israel's aerial bombing of Hezbollahi areas of Beirut are graphically illustrated by the New York Times with before-and-after satellite photos. (Registration may be required.)

5. US UN Ambassador John Bolton has just announced that the US and France have just reached an agreement on a resolution for consideration by the UN Security Council. Mr. Bolton said that the draft has been sent to the other UNSC members.

ABC News reports,
An official with knowledge of the talks, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the draft calls for a "full cessation of violence" between Israel and Hezbollah, but would allow Israel the right to launch strikes if Hezbollah attacks it.

"It does not say immediate cessation of violence," said the official, who spoke anonymously because the draft had not yet been made public.
Developing . . .


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