I’m seriously beginning to worry that Israel is heading down the path to self-destruction based on a series of tactical errors and fundamental misunderstandings. The Hezbollah-Israel battle has entered it’s 25th day and not one single military target has been reached. The same army that took just six days to rout three big Arab armies in 1967 has not succeeded in overcoming a small “terrorist organization” in a time span that is already longer than the momentous Yom Kippur War.
Anyone who has an interest in the future of the region should think carefully about the direction this conflict is heading.
Here are some of the things I’ve been reading that lead me to this conclusion:
Zbigniew Brzezinski: “Neocon prescriptions [of use of force to try to change things unilaterally] of which Israel has its equivalents, are fatal for America and ultimately for Israel. They will totally turn the overwhelming majority of the Middle East’s population against the United States. The lessons of Iraq speak for themselves. Eventually, if neocon policies continue to be pursued, the United States will be expelled from the region and that will be the beginning of the end for Israel as well.”
AS HEZBOLLAH’S missiles continue to rain across the Galilee, the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, faces growing concerns that Israel may be on the verge of losing the war.
The very clear winner, for the moment at least, was Hezbollah and its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. [...] As the only Arab leader seen to have defeated the Israelis â€” on the basis of their withdrawal in 2000 from an 18-year occupation â€” he already enjoyed wide respect. Now, with Hezbollah standing firm and inflicting casualties, he has become a folk hero across the Muslim world, apparently uniting Sunnis and Shiites. [...] Yoel Marcus, a columnist for Haaretz who had earlier acidly asked if this was the same army that had defeated all of the Arab forces in just six days, ended the week writing: â€œIt is unthinkable to walk away from the battlefield with the depressing sense that out of all the wars Israel has ever fought, only Hezbollah, a mere band of terrorists, was able to bombard the Israeli home front with thousands of missiles and get off scot free. [...] â€œI think this is a loser,â€ said Augustus Richard Norton, an expert on the Shia of Lebanon who teaches at Boston University. â€œTime is working against us, not with us. The options stink.â€
ISRAEL is losing this war. For a lifelong Israel supporter, that’s a painful thing to write. But it’s true. And the situation’s worsening each day.
The situation is grim. Israel looks more desperate every day, while Hezbollah appears more defiant.
JORDAN’S King Abdullah said Israel’s offensive against Hezbollah had turned its fighters into heroes among ordinary Arabs. [...] The staunchly pro-US ally said Israel’s three week bombing campaign against Hezbollah guerrillas had given a boost to radicals fighting to end occupation of Arab land.
“The war will not solve anything and Arab peoples see now in Hezbollah a hero facing aggression and defending their land,” the monarch told al-Ghad and al-Rai newspapers in an interview released by the state news agency Petra.
Russia’s Sovetskaya Rossiya says that “a strategic change” in the region’s power balance is emerging. “The myth of Israel’s invincibility is evaporating before our eyes,” it states. “This has created a fundamentally new situation in the Middle East”.
Judges in Egypt called upon the government to dissolve its peace agreement with Israel, on the grounds that it is inconceivable for Egypt to coexist peaceably with Israel while the IDF operates in Lebanon. The judges expressed support of popular resistance against Israeli
advances, which, in their eyes, is the only way to protect the Arab ummah (greater nation).
Also on Monday, former Egyptian deputy prime minister Mansour Hassan urged Mubarak to revoke the peace treaty with Israel, signed for Egypt by former president Anwar Sadat who was assassinated by Muslim extremists opposed to the treaty.
“Israel has proved that it is not interested in peace … it is a duty to declare the peace treaty as null and void,” wrote Hassan, who was a key aide to Sadat and closely involved in the Camp David peace accord between Egypt and Israel.
The anger in Egypt ranges across the spectrum from the Muslim Brotherhood – which has offered to “send immediately 10,000 mujahideen to fight the Zionists alongside Hizbullah” – to business associations. Chambers of commerce and trade unions have organised gala dinners to raise money for war victims and the two mobile operators, MobiNil and Vodafone, have set up a premium-rate hotline whose profits are sent to Lebanon.
Whatever qualms Arabs once had about Hizbullah they have since been dissipated by Israel’s attacks, the hundreds of deaths, the sight of up to a quarter of the Lebanese population fleeing their homes, and especially the bombing of UN observers and the massacre at Qana.
The Shia organisation and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, have become symbols of resistance even in such unlikely places as the Gulf countries where Sunnis and Shias have been spotted waving the yellow-and-green flag. Christians are joining in as well. In Damascus yesterday, a Catholic church held a special mass. “Pray for the resistance, pray for Hassan Nasrallah. He is defending justice,” Father Elias Zahlawi urged his congregation.
Unlike al-Qaida, admiration for Hizbullah stretches beyond disaffected militants to take in teachers, writers, broadcasters, and doctors many of whom, under other circumstances, would be pressing for democracy and reform.
Khaled Almaeena, editor-in-chief of Arab News, a liberal daily based in Jeddah, has been expressing his anger in a series of columns since hostilities broke out. “There is a surging tide of bitterness and alienation,” he said. “It is not simply because of Lebanon, but Lebanon may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.“
It takes neither a Bush-basher, nor even a cynic, to wonder if Hezbollah/Syria/Iran has orchestrated a brilliant winning strategy against Israel as well as the USA.
In order to embark on a new course, the only one that will solve the problem: negotiations and peace with the Palestinians, the Lebanese, the Syrians. And: with Hamas and Hizbullah.
Because it’s only with enemies that one makes peace.