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The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR

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captainccs:
I'm starting a new thread instead of adding this post to the WWIII thread because I think the Middle East is complex enough to warrant it without including worries about North Korean nukes and South American devils.

As I was reading the news I was thinking that war in the Middle East was just a question of time. What I find troubling is that many European countries are aiding and abetting the Islamist: France threatened to fire on the IAF, Italy wants to sell anti aircraft batteries to Lebanon to shoot down IAF planes, Russia (Putin) continues to help Iran. It would seem that Israel can only count on the US and Britain as allies and I have my doubts about Britain at times.



Right On: The coming Middle East war
By MICHAEL FREUND
The Jerusalem Post
            

The warning signs are everywhere, yet no one wishes to see them. Israel's foes are gearing up for war, and it's time that we opened our eyes to the danger that confronts us.

The conflict may be just weeks or even months away, or perhaps a bit longer. How it will start is anyone's guess, but make no mistake, a major outbreak of hostilities is almost certainly around the corner.

If this sounds like scare-mongering or even an advanced case of paranoia to you, just take a glance at the newspapers from the past few weeks. If you read them with a discerning eye, you will see exactly what I mean.

For whichever direction one chooses to look, be it north, south or east of us, trouble - major trouble - is brewing.

In Lebanon, Hizbullah is busy rebuilding its expansive terrorist infrastructure after this summer's fighting with Israel. Under the protective shield of UN troops, the group has been welcoming large shipments of weapons from Iran and Syria, and fortifying its bunkers in advance of the next round of conflict.

In a speech delivered last month in Beirut, on September 22, Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah asserted that his organization still has "more than 20,000 rockets" and that it had "recovered all its organizational and military capabilities."

Even if we allow for an element of boasting and exaggeration, there are clear signs that Nasrallah is steadily engaged in rebuilding his forces.

Indeed, this past Sunday, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, head of the IDF intelligence directorate's research department, told the weekly Cabinet meeting that, "There is conclusive and decisive evidence" that Syria is rearming Hizbullah.

"The weapons smuggling from Syria into Lebanon," Baidatz said, "is continuing with official Syrian involvement." He added that Damascus has kept its forces on a war footing, with their artillery and missiles deployed in forward battle positions.

Along these lines, Syrian President Bashar Assad has made a series of public statements in recent weeks, speaking openly about the possibility of military conflict with Israel and his desire to retake the Golan Heights by force.

In an interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Anba on October 6, Assad said that Damascus was ready for war with the Jewish state. Previously, he insisted that the Golan would be "liberated by Syrian arms," and warned Israel to "seek peace or face the threat of defeat."

TURNING SOUTH toward Gaza, the situation is likewise disturbing. Palestinian terrorists continue to fire Kassam rockets into the Negev on a daily basis, hitting Israeli towns and communities such as Sderot and Nir Am.

Since the start of the year, Hamas is said to have smuggled into Gaza over 20 tons of explosives, anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles. According to media reports, Hamas has also assembled an armed military force consisting of 7,500 fighters, which is said to include specialized units such as snipers, missile batteries and anti-tank troops.

As Yediot Aharonot military correspondent Alex Fishman recently put it, "The Palestinians are arming themselves to the teeth, building a military force, defensive systems and preparing Hizbullah-style surprises."

Nor is Hamas hiding its intentions. In a statement issued on Monday, the group's Izzadin al-Kassam brigades declared that it has the "means and arms necessary to confront the Zionist enemy with all our force."

Saying they are "totally ready to resist," Hamas added somewhat ominously that, "We have finished preparations to teach the Zionist enemy a lesson it will not forget."

And then, of course, there is the threat from Teheran to our east, where the Iranian president speaks of wiping Israel off the map even as he continues to pursue his nuclear ambitions.

If anyone thinks that Mr. Ahmadinejad is open to compromise, they should take a look at his latest ramblings. Speaking at a mosque in Teheran on Monday, the Iranian leader insisted that he had received a Divine message indicating that his country would prevail. "One day," he said, "I will be asked whether I have been in touch with someone who told me we would win, and I will respond: 'Yes, I have been in touch with God'."

As if all this were not enough, there have been persistent reports in recent months about a growing al-Qaida presence in the territories, as the international terrorist group seeks to position itself for launching strikes against the Jewish state.

And so, Israel now finds itself surrounded by an arc of hate stretching from Beirut and Damascus in the north, to Teheran in the east, and back to Gaza in the south. Along each chord of this arc, our foes are diligently arming themselves and preparing for battle, both verbally and in practice. It seems safe to assume that these coordinated efforts are no coincidence, and that they are all linked to the seemingly inevitable confrontation that is looming over the region regarding Iran's nuclear program.

Just as Iran sought to send a message to Israel and the US this summer by provoking an outbreak of hostilities in Lebanon, so too Teheran now appears determined to lay the groundwork for a much greater, and far more ambitious, flare-up, one that would threaten to consume the entire region. The Iranians presumably view this as their trump card, thinking that it will give them the means of forestalling a possible US or Israeli attack on their nuclear facilities.

As a result, they have been working to strengthen the extremists throughout the region, who share their desire to hit America and Israel. In all probability, they are merely waiting for the opportune moment with which to set in motion the next provocative act, which will be aimed at igniting the entire Middle East.

HOW SHOULD Israel react to this growing threat? First, we must learn the lesson of this summer's Lebanon war, which was disastrous precisely because we sat back and allowed our enemies to build up their military infrastructure over time.

Instead of making this same mistake once again, Israel should take whatever steps are necessary to interdict weapons shipments to the terrorists, seal off their supply routes, and hit hard at those who are sending them the weapons in the first place.

Second, the government needs to begin seriously contemplating the possibility of launching preemptive and wide-ranging military strikes. Our foes are openly preparing for war, so why should we allow them the luxury to choose when it starts?

Passivity and indecisiveness cost us dearly in the past, and especially in Lebanon this summer. We can not allow ourselves to play by the enemy's rules, or even by his schedule, should this scenario once again come to pass.

I truly hope that I am wrong, and that diplomacy and common sense will somehow prevail. The last thing Israel needs right now is another painful conflict, and we should all pray to God for His mercy and intervention.

But as in the past, our enemies may leave us with no other choice but to fight. This time around, let's just make sure we are ready for the challenge.


http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1159193465378&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

buzwardo:
BY JAMES TARANTO
Thursday, October 19, 2006 1:36 p.m. EDT
   
Today's video on WSJ.com: James Taranto talks with Ed Crane about European hypocrisy on Guantanamo, the Democrats' newest slogan, and an Israeli sex scandal.


Tet's Real Lesson
We have long argued that America's mainstream media--because of what they see as the "lessons of Vietnam"--are actively working to promote American defeat in Iraq. (We gave this theme a lengthy treatment in a talk last November at the Hudson Institute, which later became an essay in the February issue of The American Spectator.) From CNN comes one of the most striking bits of evidence yet that this is the case. This promo for a "CNN exclusive" appears today on the homepage of CNN.com (we've captured it here for posterity as well):

Almost 2,800 Americans have been killed so far in Iraq and one of the most dangerous insurgent opponents is the sniper. CNN has obtained graphic video from the Islamic Army of Iraq, one of the most active insurgent organizations in Iraq, showing its sniper teams targeting U.S. troops. The Islamist Army says it wants talks with the United States and some Islamist Internet postings call for a P.R. campaign aimed at influencing the American public. The video is disturbing to watch but CNN believes the story, shocking as it is, needs to be told.

By airing this video, CNN is participating in what it acknowledges is "a P.R. campaign aimed at influencing the American public" in ways favorable to America's enemies. And the network does not even seem to realize what a shocking admission this is.

With the midterm elections less than three weeks away, the media are filled with Tet talk. Here's Simon Hooper, in a commentary that also appears today on CNN.com:

For veteran statesmen such as [James] Baker, the parallels with another era-defining American war must also be striking. In the late 1960s the U.S. military found itself fighting an unwinnable conflict, enduring mounting casualties against a growing chorus of dissent at home--in Vietnam.

On Wednesday [President] Bush himself acknowledged parallels between the current situation in Iraq and the 1968 Tet Offensive--widely considered to be the point when American public opinion turned against the war.

As we noted yesterday, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times also drew the analogy in a column whose description of Tet is worth repeating:

Although the Vietcong and Hanoi were badly mauled during Tet, they delivered, through the media, such a psychological blow to U.S. hopes of "winning" in Vietnam that Tet is widely credited with eroding support for President Johnson and driving him to withdraw as a candidate for re-election.

Tet, that is, was a military victory for the U.S. that turned into a propaganda victory for the communists because American journalists presented a false picture of what had happened.

The media today are eager to repeat their "success" in Vietnam--and it was a success inasmuch as the media were hugely influential over the course of events. But from a journalistic standpoint it was a gross failure. The real lesson of Vietnam is that journalists got the story wrong. We are not at all convinced that the American people are about to get fooled again.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110009120

Crafty_Dog:
Sorry for lack of URL,? but this internet friend has a long and solid track record with me.
==============

This story from Haaretz, indirectly supports that contention...namely that the French would approve the sale of missiles to Lebanon...
 
French forces: Stop Lebanon overflights or we'll open fire
 
By Gideon Alon
 
The commanders of the French contingent in UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) have warned that if Israeli warplanes continue their overflights in Lebanon, they may have to open fire on them, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday.

Peretz told members of the committee that despite the warnings, Israel would continue to patrol the skies of Lebanon as such operations were critical for the country's security. Over the past few days, Peretz said, Israel had gathered clear evidence that Syria was transfering arms and ammunition to Lebanon, meaning that the embargo imposed by UN Resolution 1701 was not being completely enforced.

 
 

 
Israel plans to inform the joint committee of representatives of UNIFIL, the Israel Defense Forces and the Lebanese Army that unless the arms transfers are stopped, Israel will be forced to take independent action, Peretz said.

Turning to the situation in the Gaza Strip, Peretz said that Israel could under no circumstances allow the Strip to be turned into a second South Lebanon. According to Peretz, the time when Israel used to check who was sending every missile is over, and the IDF is intent on striking at every terrorist no matter what organization he belongs to.

The defense minister said that the current ground operations underway in the Gaza Strip were much more extensive than before. But, he said, "No one is hankering for ground action deep inside the entire Gaza Strip."

===============

Another friend comments:

Looks like Israel was screwed once again by the "international community". 
Disarming Hizballah was part of the  peace deal - but now, no one even talks
about that.  And now, the French are threatening to shoot at Israeli planes.

What about shooting at those who are delivering arms to Hizballah?

Unbelievable.


 
 
 

Crafty_Dog:
1209 GMT -- FRANCE -- French troops almost fired on Israeli air force jets in southern Lebanon when a squadron of F-15s dived at a French peacekeeper position, French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said in comments to parliament late Nov. 8.

www.stratfor.com

SB_Mig:
From Beirut to Baghdad
The ghastly predictability of nihilist violence.

By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Nov. 27, 2006, at 4:30 PM ET


The fate of those who criticize the Syrian presence in Lebanon is rather like the fate of those who oppose Vladimir Putin. The former are shot or blown up, and the latter are victims of exotic poisons. Nobody knows for sure if there is any direct connection between the positions they take and the outcome that befalls them, but it has to be said in both cases that neither the government of Syria nor the face of Vladimir Putin seems very downcast or contrite when these coincidences occur. And, as Gen. Strelnikov so rightly says in Doctor Zhivago, it hardly matters whether you burn the right village or the wrong one. The same deterrent point is made in either case.

In Iraq, the terrifying aspect of the violence is its randomness. You have a higher chance of being tortured to death with a drill if you are a secularist, a translator working with the coalition, an advocate of women's rights, or a Christian, but the atmosphere is one in which nobody?not even a preacher or practitioner of sectarianism?can feel safe. In Lebanon, the situation is also slightly volatile. Those targeted for murder have included a former prime minister backed by Saudi funds, the former chairman of the Communist Party, and most recently the leader of the Maronite Catholic right: a fairly broad spectrum of victims, if, essentially, a predictable one. But in Beirut two decades ago, the situation was more like it is in Baghdad today, with mayhem in almost every part of the city and splits within cracks within fissures of each militia, so that almost every block had its own warlord. So ghastly was this state of affairs that there were enough people to welcome Syrian troops at least grudgingly when they first arrived, on the basis that anything was preferable to anarchy. A similar chaos and misery gave the upper hand to Mullah Omar's forces in Afghanistan, who were able to present Talibanism in the 1990s as providing a measure of stability and who currently hope to repeat the same strategy with (as before) a little help from a Pakistan that needs an Afghan colony for "strategic depth" in its campaign for Kashmir.

This is the huge advantage that the forces of nihilism possess in the region. In the short term, it is true, a prudent Syrian or Iranian government would not wish for an implosion in either Lebanon or Iraq, and a sensible Pakistani regime ought to desire a peaceful Afghanistan. A next-door war of all against all can lead to interethnic and interconfessional rivalry within their own societies and in the meantime is a threat to the orderly exploitation of things?like the trade in narcotics?that benefit the regimes and their clientele. However, chaos is a tremendous way of waging asymmetrical warfare and canceling the vast military superiority of the United States. It also catches the attention of those locals who are caught in the middle and who know from long and bitter experience how to sniff the wind. Listen to us, say the Ahmadinejads and their proxies, we will always be here. Can you say the same for the Americans? Many considerations, including intense inter-Islamic Shiite-Sunni hatred, divide Ahmadinejad and Assad from the forces of al-Qaida, which would also prefer to see Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan in ruins than have these countries get a chance of modernism and secularism. But on this essential point, they are in agreement, and their wrecking activities tend toward the same objective. In due course, they will certainly fight each other. But the ruins over which they will be disputing will, they believe, have at least been abandoned by the West, as Afghanistan was after 1989. And the interest of human-rights monitors and others will have slackened accordingly.

If this indeed proves to be the outcome, the victors will be able to rub their eyes at how easy it was. Barely five years after the eviction of the Taliban, three and a half years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and a year and a half after the Syrian army was forced out of Beirut by a show of mass popular and democratic unity, the memory of those brave fingers marked with the purple ink of the franchise has almost vanished. Tribalism and gangsterism are back, in a big way, with heavy state support from across the frontiers. And the United States, it seems, cannot wait to confirm the impression that it would rather deal with the aggressors. If the latest assassination in Lebanon caused any embarrassment to the enthusiasm of the Baker-Hamilton team for direct talks with Damascus and Tehran, the embarrassment wasn't evident. The Lebanese Cabinet may have bravely voted last week, in spite of a campaign of blackmail by Syria's death squads and religious proxies, to establish a tribunal to investigate the murder of Rafik Hariri, but in Washington, the talk is of getting on better terms with the people who, on all the available evidence, blew up his car. You may have noticed the new habit in the media of referring to the government of Lebanon as "American-backed" or "Western-backed." This is as if to imply that it is not an expression of Lebanon's remaining autonomy. But it is also cruelly ironic: Where exactly is this "backing"? Once again, it is becoming more dangerous to be a friend of the United States than an enemy.

The objectionable thing about the proposed Baker-Hamilton "talks" is not that they are talks but that they give the impression of looking for someone to whom to surrender. And they have, apparently, no preconditions. It would be an excellent thing to have direct negotiations with Iran, for instance, with all matters on the table. But if the mullahs did not have to sacrifice their ongoing nuclear deception in order to get to that table, then all the efforts of the Europeans, the United Nations, and the International Atomic Energy Agency to get them to do so would have been shown to be risible. With Syria, there is an even more intelligible precondition to be announced. Most people are unaware of this fact, but Damascus has always refused to recognize Lebanon as an independent state. There is no Syrian Embassy in Beirut. Implicitly and explicitly, this suggests that the country is regarded as an actual or potential part of a "Greater Syria." Is it really too much to demand that Syria acknowledge the self-determination, or "right to exist," of a fellow member of the Arab League? Without this line of demarcation, for one thing, the "withdrawal" of Syrian soldiers and police is a merely tactical thing; a retreat over the horizon while the Assad dynasty waits for better days. These "better" days may well not be long in coming.

Those who blame the violence in Baghdad on the American presence must have a hard job persuading themselves that the mayhem in Beirut and Afghanistan?and the mayhem that is being planned and is still to come?is attributable to the same cause. But the instigators are the same in all cases: the parties of god and their foreign masters. If we cannot even stand up for Lebanon in this crisis, even rhetorically, then we are close to admitting that these parties have won.

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