Israel's real danger
What does not kill Hezbollah makes it
Iraqi Denounces Israel’s Actions
By EDWARD WONG and MICHAEL SLACKMAN
Published: July 20, 2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 19 — Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq on Wednesday forcefully denounced the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, marking a sharp break with President Bush’s position and highlighting the growing power of a Shiite Muslim identity across the Middle East.
“The Israeli attacks and airstrikes are completely destroying Lebanon’s infrastructure,” Mr. Maliki said at an afternoon news conference inside the fortified Green Zone, which houses the American Embassy and the seat of the Iraqi government. “I condemn these aggressions and call on the Arab League foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo to take quick action to stop these aggressions. We call on the world to take quick stands to stop the Israeli aggression.”
The American Embassy did not provide an immediate response.
The comments by Mr. Maliki, a Shiite Arab whose party has close ties to Iran, were noticeably stronger than those made by Sunni Arab governments in recent days. Those governments have refused to take an unequivocal stand on Lebanon, reflecting their concern about the growing influence of Iran, which has a Shiite majority and has been accused by Israel of providing weapons to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group.
The ambivalence of those governments has angered many Sunni Arabs in those countries, despite the centuries of enmity between the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam.
Like many other people around the region, Ahmed Mekky, 40, an Egyptian lawyer and a Sunni Arab, says he supports Hezbollah because it is doing what he said the Arab leadership has been frightened to do for too long — standing up to Israel and the United States.
“We are praying that God would make Hezbollah victorious,” Mr. Mekky said as he stood beside a newspaper kiosk in downtown Cairo on Wednesday. “All the Arab governments are asleep.”
Perhaps more so than at any time since Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait in 1990, the bloodletting between Hezbollah and Israel has highlighted the huge divide between many Arab countries, and between many people and their leaders.
But the longer the conflict drags on, the more these leaders are finding their credibility called into question. The longer satellite television shows images of civilians killed and maimed by Israeli bombs, the more these leaders face hostility from their own people. The longer Hezbollah fires rockets into Israeli cities and towns, killing and wounding Israelis, the longer these leaders have to face questions about why they do not take similar action.
“People know that the Arab governments are impotent and are always looking for excuses to justify their failure to do anything,” said Adnan Abu-Odeh, a former adviser to the late King Hussein of Jordan. “In fact, historically, this episode is another example of how Israel embarrasses the moderate regimes in the region.”
This could get very ugly for Israel in two respects. One, by not knocking out Hezbollah, their status as an anti-Israeli resistance grows. Which will make getting rid of them harder. And it isn't going to knock out Hezbollah, which is a quasi-state.
Two, if the Israeli offensive kills Americans and other Westerners. They won't be able to obscure it like the Liberty incident, when IAF fighters attacked a US spy ship. James Bamford went into great detail on the Liberty in Body of Secrets.
But Israel's moral highground comes from the belief it is a democracy fighting for its survival. If Americans die under Israeli bombs, the lack of US action will be no favor for Israel.
Hezbollah is much more resiliant than people have believed in the past. And this bombing makes people choose sides, and Hezbollah is the one who is sheltering and feeding them. If you wanted to engrain support across the Arab world for Hezbollah, nothing is better than American TV showing guerrillas feeding women and children bombed out of their homes.
War doesn't work. It won't work for Hezbollah or Israel. But because the Israelis have bet so much on dealing with their enemies, failure to gain total victory means defeat. Limited goals have limited risks. The more you want to do, the more you risk.
Hezbollah isn't a movement, it is a quasi-state. Kill one leader, there will be another. Destroying Lebanon while Hezbollah resists will not make it any weaker
posted by Steve @ 12:04:00 AM