Israel | Israel & Hezbollah War
Israel & Hezbollah Have Been at War. Are Israel Citizens in Danger? Who is Hezbollah?
Israel and its struggle with Hezbollah (party of God) are covered. For the past two months, Hezbollah was involved in a mini-war with Israel along Lebanon's southern border with Israel. Hezbollah shocked most of the world's military experts by fighting a virtual standoff with the Israel army, one of the most competent fighting forces in the world.
A Israel-Hezbollah cease fire went into effect on August 13 and appears to be holding fairly well as of November 11.
Israel & Hezbollah War in 2006
The Israel - Hezbollah clash was a shock to me. I had heard the name, Hezbollah, and knew they were stationed in Lebanon. What I did not know was that the organization had the organizing skills, military skills and weaponry to fight even with the Israelis. It appears that Hezbollah was vastly underrated by Israel and, of course, to no one's surprise, the U.S. (Remember we were going to be greeted with flowers and candy when we went into Iraq.) Not knowing much about the subject, of course, did not deter the present U.S. administration from egging on Israel instead of working for an immediate cease fire and exchange of prisoners to end the bloodshed.
I thought our leadership acted as if, at any moment, Israel would win a great victory and then we could jump in the victory celebration with Israel and help dictate peace terms. Alas, such was not to be.
Now the small but important nation of Lebanon, one of the most modern states in the Middle East, lies devastated, a thousand or so of Lebanon's citizens, Israel's soldiers and civilians, and Hezbollah members have been killed. Feelings throughout the Middle East are at a boiling point against Israel and the Jewish people.
Iran, the financial and moral supporter of Hezbollah, is sitting very smug after watching the devastation without getting a scratch. Their weapons and their military training has been tested in combat and have been found excellent.
The Hezbollah Organization Came Into Existence to Fight Israel?
Hezbollah came into existence in 1982 when Israel occupied a large portion of Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war. The organization committed a major terrorist act a year later when a suicide driver drove into a U.S. marine barracks in Lebanon killing over 240 marines. President Reagan immediately ordered the U.S. military out of Lebanon. (It should be noted that the U.S., shortly after the suicide bombing, invaded and "freed" the small island country of Grenada in the Caribbean. Some of of the more cynical Reagan critics have claimed the Grenada attack was made so that the U.S. could save face from the Lebanon suicide bombing incident and the subsequent U.S. retreat from Lebanon.)
One of Hezbollah's goals was to drive Israel out of southern Lebanon. In 2000, this goal was accomplished as Israel withdrew from Lebanon after suffering heavy casualties there.
Another of Hezbollah's apparent goals was to convert Lebanon into a fundamentalist Islamic Shiit nation. Lebanon is roughly 65% Muslim and 35% Christian. This goal has been dropped if it ever existed, and for the past few years, Muslims and Christians have gotten along fairly well in Lebanon. As a matter of fact, the heavy Israel bombing of Lebanon's cities and infrastructure, eg., bridges, army bases, etc., has made Hezbollah supporters of much of the Christian community of Lebanon.
One Hezbollah goal that remains is the destruction of the state of Israel. Hezbollah does not like Israel!
Hezbollah Leader Nasrallah. The leader (Secretary General) of the Hezbollah organization is Sheik Hassan Nasrallah who says he has trained for his present job since he was a little child. Nasrallah trained as a cleric in both Iraq and Iran and received military training in Iran. They trained him well!
Israel officials have stated that Nasrallah is the shrewdest leader in the Arab world .....and the most dangerous. Israel has made a number of attempts to kill Nasrallah but how can you kill someone when you can't even find him?
How Hezbollah Operates Against Israel
Hezbollah, while a militant Islamic Shiite organization, also has important non-military functions:
1. Hezbollah is a recognized political party in Lebanon and hold about 10% of seats in Lebanon's legislative branch.
2. Hezbollah operates hospitals & schools in Lebanon and apparently does so in an efficient manner.
3. Hezbollah operates TV and radio stations in Lebanon. These stations operated throughout the war and were effective in keeping Hezbollah fighters motivated.
4. Hezbollah operates a social development and training program for its members.
In summary of Hezbollah's non-military functions, I was surprised to see how well organized they are and, also, that they provide many useful services in Lebanon. They seem flexible in their approach to many political issues and, for that reason, I believe both Israel and the U.S. should establish some sort of dialog with the organization. If we seek simply to label them as a terrorist organization and destroy them as, apparently, Israel intended to originally do, we could be stirring up a hornet's nest.
Organization-wise, Hezbollah appears to be more efficient than any government in the Middle East with the possible exception of Israel.
Hezbollah is now the hero of Muslims everywhere in the Middle East. If their very efficient organization skills are adopted by other militant groups and, indeed, by Muslim countries in the area, the U.S. and Israel are going to have their hands full.
The success of Hezbollah's organizational skills may be a lesson for other underdeveloped nations or other non-Mid East militant groups to adopt. With the publicity that Hezbollah is now receiving over their military stand against Israel, I can picture "baby" Hezbollahs springing up in trouble spots around the world.
Hezbollah's Military Capabilities vs. Israel
At the start of the ongoing clash with Israel Hezbollah had several thousand active fighters in Southern Lebanon backed up by 10,000 reservists. To me, the relatively small number of active fighters means that Hezbollah may have been caught by surprise by Israel's violent reaction to the kidnapping of the two Israel soldiers, an incident that started the war. (I still don't know why Hezbollah kidnapped the soldiers?) If so and, if they have 10,000 competent reservists to throw into battle, this mini-war could have dragged on for some time.
The Hezbollah fighters are very well trained. Many of them trained in Iran. Their discipline and dedication is excellent. They have earned the respect of Israel. There are many military organizations around the world that are jealous of Hezbollah's fighting ability.
Next to Hezbollah's organization skills, discipline, and morale, the best weapon in Hezbollah's arsenal against Israel appears to be the Iranian-built rockets along with a few longer range Iranian missiles. Best estimates are that they have about 10,000 to 12,000 of the rockets remaining after firing over 3,000 rockets into Israel. The rockets have a range of at least 20 to 30 miles or so. While the rockets appear to be used largely as a terror weapon against the Israelis, they have been impressive.
The success of the Iranian-built rockets must have Iran grinning from ear to ear. If there was any doubt as to the Iranian ability, in an emergency, to disrupt oil tanker traffic leaving the Persian Gulf , that doubt is gone now. The rockets success may forestall a U.S. air attack on Iran's budding nuclear facilities for some time. As much as the administration would like to take out the nuclear plants with air strikes, they can't afford to take a chance on disrupting oil tanker traffic.
Hezbollah also used modern anti-tank weapons with great success against Israel. The wire-guided and laser-guided anti-tank weapons apparently took Israel by surprise. They were also effective against Israel helicopters. These weapons were apparently Russian-made. Russia has denied supplying them to Hezbollah but hinted that they could have been supplied to Hezbollah by a "third party." Whatever, if the missiles are Russian, the orders for these missiles from third-world countries must now be flooding in to Russia.
You can also forget any lingering notions you might have regarding an imminent U.S. land invasion of Iran. After the performance of the Iranian-trained Hezbollah fighters against Israel, there is little possibility of an imminent U.S. land invasion of Iran. Iran appears to be a quite a bit more competent, militarily, than many experts thought.
The highly-paid military "experts" on U.S. TV will have to go back to the drawing board on the Middle East.
Iranian and Syrian Aid to Hezbollah in Their War With Israel
The Hezbollah organization was assisted in its birth pains by Ayatollah Khomeini in the early eighties. Since then, it has received substantial financial aid from Iran. A figure for this aid is often quoted as $100 million a year although I have seen another figure of $25 million per month. Since Ahmadinejad took over as Iranian president, aid to Hezbollah has increased.
Iran has also provided extensive training for, at least, some of the Hezbollah fighters.
Iran has also provided 10,000 to 15,000 of the rockets now being used against Israel by Hezbollah.
Nasrallah has stated that no Iranian fighters are present in Lebanon. For more on Iran see: Iran War
The role of Syria in this affair is less clear. Certainly, they offer heavy moral support to the Hezbollah organization in their struggle with Israel and they probably provide the route for the weapons from Iran. Syria is such a poor country, however, any financial aid they have provided is minor compared to Iranian aid. Syria is caught in the middle, however, and may suffer a lot before the Israel - Hezbollah incident is over.
The worst thing Syria could do is to get overconfident watching the success of Hezbollah and start "smart mouthing" Israel and get in an actual fight with Israel. Syria is not Hezbollah! Syria has an conventional military and Israel would likely make mincemeat out of them.
Aid to Hezbollah from other Middle East countries probably comes from private sources since Hezbollah, until this clash with Israel, had not been endorsed by any of the countries governments. I'm sure such private aid is now pouring in to Hezbollah, because they have stolen the heart and souls of Arabs everywhere with their clash with Israel.
Are Hezbollah and al Qaida Linked?
At this time, no linkage between Hezbollah and al Qaida is evident. al Qaida has been mostly concerned with Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, and, of course, the terrorists attacks on the U.S. Additionally, al Qaida is essentially a Sunni organization (as are Hamas and the Iraqi insurgency).
On the other hand, Hezbollah has been almost totally an anti-Israel organization dedicated, at least originally, to the destruction of the state of Israel. The paths of the two organizations just don't often cross.
There are other vast differences between al Qaida and Hezbollah:
For example, Hezbollah condemned the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center because it attacked innocents. (The attack on the Pentagon was O.K.) Hezbollah does not believe that innocents should be attacked. Hezbollah does not attack tourists, for example, as al Qaida has been know to do.
Nasrallah does not care for either Osama bin Laden or the Taliban.
As far as al Qaida is concerned, they have severe problems with the Shiite religion that Hezbollah follows. al Qaida condemns Shiites as infidels. al Qaida is much more of a fundamentalist organization than Hezbollah who show a somewhat surprising flexibility in religious matters similar to the flexibility they have shown in military operations against Israel. This flexibility, in my opinion, makes them a much more dangerous foe than al Qaida. But it also may open the door for compromise that would never be available with al Qaida.
Israel & Hezbollah War: Conclusions
1. There is a new kid on the block in the Mid-East. His name is Hezbollah and he is tough. Better get to know him because he is going to be around for awhile.
2. Hezbollah is dedicated to getting rid of Israel. Hopefully, this goal will change as peace negotiations go forward.
3. Israel's military are no longer the super warriors that they were once perceived as (although the Administration and Rush Limbaugh will labor mightily to keep the myth alive). Hezbollah has changed that perception by fighting on an even basis with Israel even though heavily outnumbered. This change of perception may be a danger to Israel because others may want to take on the old champ with diminished skills. Israel is still very tough, though, and, except for Iran, there is no one in the Middle East that can handle them.
4. Any idea that we should step aside and let Israel take care of Iran (an idea often expressed by neocons) is a cruel joke on Israel. They would not have a chance unless nuclear weapons were used. Israel might cause some damage to Iran's nuclear facilities with conventional weapons but there is now no doubt they would get rockets and missiles in return.
5. A U.S. air attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is probably indefinitely postponed. Iran has shown the missile capability to disrupt oil shipments from the Persian Gulf and the U.S. cannot afford a cutoff of Persian Gulf oil.
6. As a result of the Israel - Hesbollah clash, there has been a fundamental shift in power in the Middle East. Iran is the big boy in the Middle East now and we and Israel will have to deal with them. And they are going to continue their development of nuclear weapons - probably on a greatly accelerated basis - whether we like it or not!
7. The U.S. forces now face, potentially, a greater danger in Iraq. Our armed vehicles in Iraq have suffered greatly from crude explosives simply placed on roads for U.S. vehicles to run over. If the use of the Russian-built, Hezbollah-tested anti-tank weapons spreads to Iraq, attacks on U.S. vehicles might become more effective.
Fortunately, Hezbollah is unlikely to get heavily involved in Iraq. Their primary focus is on Israel.
8. With the Hezbollah - Israel clash over, Iran is likely to bear a very large part of the cost of rebuilding Lebanon. I don't think they will complain because it will will give them the opportunity, in effect, to make an Iranian province out of - next to Israel - the most modern and culturally-rich country in the Middle East. The U.S. Administration has pledged $250 million for rebuilding Lebanon but promising and delivering are two different stories. I believe the U.S. should jump in and really take the lead in the Lebanon rebuilding effort. Then the stage would be set to produce the first legitimate democracy in the Middle East (other than Israel). Wasn't building democracy one of goals in going into the Middle East? Or was that just talk and the real reason was to grab some oil? In any event, Lebanon has no oil so we can't be accused of going in (if we go in!) for the oil.
No, we shouldn't let Iran provide all the money for the rebuilding of Lebanon. And Israel shouldn't either. If things are handled right, I can picture good relations between Israel and Lebanon in a few years. Although the two countries are culturally very different, they are both very advanced societies for that part of the world and would be natural trading partners, etc.
For more on U.S. foreign policy, see Next War.
9. In the background lies the ominous specter of the nuclear weapons possessed by the U.S. and Israel. I logged into a major Internet forum the other morning and was shocked to see that many of the visitors to the forum wanted either the U.S. or Israel to nuke Iran. Hopefully, the U.S. and Israel will ignore these ditto-heads.
Whatever, because of the difficult military lessons learned in the Lebanon war, I suspect you are going to soon see veiled threats from the U.S. and Israel regarding use of nuclear weapons but, of course, only for special situations! After all, we have the nukes - they don't! Not yet, anyway!
It is a dangerous world we live in!
Conclusions for Israel | Israel & Hezbollah War. Israel & Hezbollah have just concluded a war that ended in a stalemate as Hezbollah gave as good as they got!