Saturday, January 03, 2009

I blame my cynicism from 3 years of kassam watching

I’m one of those political cynics who believed the timing of Israel Operation Cast Lead had more to do with what was politically expedient for the careers and political fortunes of Barak (Labor) and Livni (Kadima) rather than dealing with an untenable situation on the ground.

Since the start of Operation Cast Lead, the burning question mark for me was what would Hezbollah do? I half-suspected, if we were going to have the 2006 war redux, it would begin days after the ground invasion began. Certainly there are a few ominous omens. Rocket Launches found in Lebanon, Nashrallah’s increasingly nasty and heated rhetoric towards not just the Israelis but the Egyptians as well. But perhaps, I should give the Israeli military intelligence a little more credit for making the case now, at this time, for the green light rather than later. Ha’aretz:

Ahead of Israel's ground offensive into Gaza, leading Lebanese political commentators said Hezbollah would not open a military front with Israel even if it invades Gaza. The commentators further explained that Hezbollah was not interested in a destructive round of violence months before the Lebanese election.

Hezbollah expert Amal Saad-Ghorayeb told AFP over the weekend that she believes Hezbollah is trying not to upset the opposition. "On the domestic level, Hezbollah does not want to antagonize its domestic foes. They don't want to ruin the dialogue that allows them to keep the issue of their weapons indefinitely unsolved; it is a way of postponing the issue," she said. "Hezbollah is not in a position that allows it to carry the burden of a second war," Paul Salem of the Carnegie Middle East Center told the agency.

Last week, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah announced that he had instructed his troops to up their alert level ahead of a possible military campaign with Israel. Moreover, 10 days ago United Nations troops stationed in Lebanon found a rocket launcher aimed at Israel. Israeli army sources believe it was placed there by Jihadists who do not belong to Hezbollah. In any event, UNIFIL - the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon - has increased its routine patrols in the area.

Israeli and UN officials believe Hezbollah will try to prevent other Islamist organizations from provoking Israel into retaliatory action. Meanwhile, Nasrallah and Hezbollah are paying a political price for their inaction. Some Lebanese media pointed out that while Nasrallah has been vocal in criticizing Egypt, he has not done anything, either.
What better time for a Gaza Operation than when Hezbollah, Hamas most staunch allies, are too pre-occupied with their own internal affairs?

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