The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

              Hizbullah Refuses
As would be expected Hizbullah has refused to disarm. Instead, they have made a deal with Lebanese PM Siniora that they will keep their arms, but not display them publicly. There is no chance that the Lebanese Army will attempt to disarm Hizbullah by force, since around half the army is Shiite and the military capability of the Lebanese Armed Forces is close to zero. At the same time, Kofi Annan has stated that "dismantling Hizbullah is not the direct mandate of the UN". So if the UN is not going to do it despite passing Resolution 1559 and 1701 - both demanding that Hizbullah be disarmed - and the LAF will not do it, who is left?

An official in Israel's Prime Minister's Office has stated that if Hizbullah refuses to disarm, Israel will restart the war. This seems highly unlikely. Israel would come under intense international condemnation and pressure if it were to restart the war without a direct Hizbullah attack - and at this point Hizbullah would be crazy to do something like that. This threat sounds a lot like the threatened full-scale invasion that kept getting delayed; it is meant purely for political effect - a way to prod the UN to do something. The UN of course will do nothing, no matter how much Tzipi Livni talks to Kofi Annan. It will once again have proven itself to be completely powerless and useless in any matter that requires something more than talk, and dangerous to the security of Israel.

By not allowing the IDF to achieve a decisive military victory, Olmert destroyed the perception of the invincibility of the IDF. From Stratfor:
In the regional equation, there has been an immutable belief: that, at the end of the day, IDF was capable of imposing a unilateral military solution on any Arab force. Israel might have failed to achieve its political goals in its various wars, but it never failed to impose its will on an enemy force. As a result, all neighboring nations and entities understood there were boundaries that could be crossed only if a country was willing to accept a crushing Israeli response. All neighboring countries -- Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, prior to the collapses of central authority -- understood this and shaped their behavior in view of it.
In this conflict, what Hezbollah has achieved is not so much a defeat of Israel as a demonstration that destruction in detail is not an inevitable outcome of challenging Israel. Hezbollah has showed that it is possible to fight to a point that Israel prefers a cease-fire and political settlement to a military victory followed by political accommodation. Israel might not have lost any particular battle, and a careful analysis of the outcome could prove its course to be reasonable. But the loss of the sense -- and historical reality -- of the inevitability of Israeli military victory is a far more profound defeat for Israel, as this clears the way for other regional powers to recalculate risks.
At the same time, he has placed Israel's security needs in the hands of the UN and a weak international force. By his actions, he has reaped neither the benefits of a military victory nor of the negotiated solution for which he waged the military campaign.

So what next? It is almost inevitable that there will be another round. This may not happen right away, and most likely will not be under the direction of the present government. Efraim Inbar suggests that in this next round it should not be just Hizbullah that is targeted, but also Syria.
SUBDUING SYRIA is the key to managing the Lebanese crisis, to rolling back Hizbullah, and to weakening Iran and its radical Islamist influence in the Middle East. In order to attain victory in the next military engagement, Israel should target Damascus.

Syria allows supplies for Hizbullah to pass into Lebanon from its territory and provides the channel for Iran to do likewise. Syria's use of Hizbullah as a means of bleeding Israel has gone unpunished for too long.

That being the case, the strategic address for dealing with Hizbullah and for restoring lost deterrence remains Damascus. Only military pressure on the regime of Bashar Assad can deny Hizbullah military capabilities and signal Israel's readiness and ability to respond tenaciously.
Sooner or later this has to happen, although Israel will have to act carefully. It is not in Israel's - or the US's - interest for Assad to be overthrown. What replaces him could very well be more dangerous than the weak Assad.
|| Nudnik 10:39 PM
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