Sunday, July 16, 2006

1914 Alert: Kidnappers' War May Be Reaching Breaking Point

Rockets struck Haifa and other north Israel sites and killed 8. That area is essentially shut down by the rocket siege. An IDF division is moving north and the army is planning to use bunker-busters on Hezbollah positions, but the Army has not yet announced an intention to invade southern Lebanon. Syria has reportedly mobilized a division of reserves. Israel is defiant against the Syrian threat.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said this war will have "far-reaching implications". The Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni reminded the pseudo-lawyers what proportionality really means: "Livni said that according to international law, proportionality is a result of the size of effect, and that Israel's actions were based on 15,000 missiles arrayed against it."

The sense amongst the commentariat that Olmert is really serious about all this is indicated by the ease with which they have seized upon the falsehood that he has no military experience -- Little Green Footballs here and here, and Logic & Sanity. They wouldn't need to undermine him if he were only blustering.

Mark Perry's prediction that the parties would all step back seems unlikely to come true. This isn't ordinary power politics any more; the sides are playing for keeps.

Iran is agitating against any Israeli action against Syria. Ed Morrissey takes note of an obvious point that seems to have escaped many observers: if Iran wants to help, it has to get through northern Iraq, and northern Iraq is now controlled by Kurds and Americans.

What concerns me more is the confidence expressed by Iran and its allies. They are talking as if they have some secret plan. Ordinarily we could call it bluster, but I'm worried about all the rumors that Saddam's WMDs had been moved to Syria prior to the American invasion.

UPDATE 1:01 pm CDT: Hassan Nasrallah made an television appearance today. The fact of Israeli self-defense against his illegal private army is sufficient justification in his mind to send rockets against Haifa and other northern Israeli cities. "We will use all means. As long as the enemy has no limits, we will have no limits ... The peoples of the Arab and Islamic world have a historic opportunity to score a defeat against the Zionist enemy ... We are providing the example," he said.

At Power Line (via Big Lizards) a mini-debate beteen Paul Mirengoff and Steven den Beste about whether Israel could sucessfully strike at Iran. Den Beste thinks it too difficult for Israel to attempt; Mirengoff references capabilites reported by mysterious sources that suggest the attack is possible.

I think Iran will feel compelled to come to the aid of Syria before Israel feels compelled to take action against the Iranian weapons program, and so Iran is the country that faces the most pressing logistical problem.

UPDATE 1:38 pm CDT: The G8 has agreed on a joint statement calling for a cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon.

UPDATE 1:45 pm CDT: Now FOX News has a White House spokesman on claiming there is no call for a cease fire in the joint statement, merely a call for dialog. No link yet.

UPDATE 5:10 pm CDT: Hezbollah rockets have reached as far as towns of Upper Nazareth and Afula, 25 miles into Israel. Just before that attack, Israeli warships fired on the Beirut airport, causing a fuel tank to explode in spectacular fashion.

Here's the full statement from the G8.

UPDATE 6:42 pm CDT: At the Lebanese Political Journal, Lebanon.Profile has anecdotes about Lebanese opinion.

UPDATE 11:13 pm CDT: As was apparent from the moment the G8 statement was announced, the issue is not a joint statement but the varying interpretations of that statement offered by the G8 nations. The U.S. asserts that it requires Hezbollah to return the soldiers and disarm as a precursor to a halt to Israeli military action. The French characterize the statement as a call for a cease-fire. Israel welcomes the statement, as they believe it blames terrorist "extremists" and allows for further prosecution of the war. Sunday evening, Condoleezza Rice said that Israel may be required to prolong their offensive to achieve their goal of liberating their soldiers and neutralizing Hezbollah. Tony Blair has urged Rice to travel to the region, as has Madeline Albright; the former's opinion perhaps ought to carry weight. Perhaps.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak claimed he persuaded Israel to forestall a full invasion into Lebanon. He supposedly told them that an invasion was an Iranian trap.

The Washington Post describes Beirut during the bombing. This segment did not inspire confidence:

There are myriad reasons for Hezbollah's support among Shiite Muslims, Lebanon's largest community. Once rural, illiterate and dominated by a small elite of feudal landlords and reactionary clergy, the community was transformed during the 1975-90 civil war. In many ways, Hezbollah, which emerged during the 1982 Israeli invasion, embodied that metamorphosis. It provided schools, hospitals, pharmacies and dental clinics, spending millions of dollars a year -- made possible by Iran. It transformed the community's numbers into a voice that today represents the deciding factor in Lebanese politics.

They might buy themselves a mullahcracy.

UPDATE 11:44 pm CDT: Via Israel Matzav, the Lebanese Foundation For Peace is reporting that the kidnapped Israelis are being held at the Iranian embassy in Beirut.

Iranians illegally holding hostages at an embassy. How familiar.

UPDATE 12:18 am CDT: Air raid sirens went off in Haifa shortly after daybreak and trucks with loudspeaker asked citizens to enter bomb shelters, but no rockets fell on the city. Earlier, rockets had struck sites nearer the border with Lebanon.

The Israeli army has also been active in Gaza, destroying the Palestinian foreign ministry.

The United States is telling American citizens not to leave Beirut, that the areas outside the city are too unsafe for travel.

UPDATE 12:53 am CDT: Israel resumed bombing in southern Beirut Monday morning.

On Sunday, seven Canadians, all from the same Montreal family, were killed by Israeli bombs. They were visiting their home village in southern Lebanon, in an area controlled by Hezbollah, when the war broke out.


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1 comment:

medvegonok said...

I do not believe that Syria and Iran would do something, besides wording. Syrian ammunition is outmoded and they would suffer devastating defeat, that may end Asad's ruling. Iran is far away. They tried to ignite the region to expel the American's from Iraq, but as a failure.