What Is Hizbullah.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom, he said, Hizbullah is "principally neither a political party nor an Islamist militia. It is a broad movement that evolved in reaction to Israel's invasion of Lebanon in June 1982". At first, he wrote, it consisted of a small number of Lebanese Shi'ites "supported by Iran". But as more and more Lebanese came to resent Israel's occupation, Hizbullah - "never tight-knit" - expanded into an "umbrella organization that tacitly coordinated the resistance operations of a loose collection of groups with a variety of religious and secular aims".
In terms of structure and hierarchy, Hizbullah is less comparable to a religious cult like the [Neo-Salafi] Taliban than to the multi-dimensional American civil-rights movement of the 1960s. Paper wrote: "What made its rise so rapid, and will make it impossible to defeat militarily, was not its international support but the fact that it evolved from a reorientation of pre-existing Lebanese social groups".
Evidence of the broad nature of Hizbullah's resistance to Israeli occupation can be seen in the identity of its suicide attackers. Hizbullah conducted a broad campaign of suicide bombings against American, French and Israeli targets from 1982 to 1986. Altogether, these attacks - which included the bombing of the US Marine barracks in 1983 - involved 41 suicide bombers.
Pape added: "While writing a book on suicide attackers, I had researchers scour Lebanese sources to collect martyr videos, pictures and testimonials and the biographies of the ...[Hizbullah] bombers. Of the 41, we identified 38. Shockingly, only eight were Islamic fundamentalists. Twenty-seven were from leftist political groups like the Lebanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Union. Three were Christians, including a female high-school teacher with a college degree. All were born in Lebanon.
"What these suicide attackers - and their heirs today - shared was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation. Nearly two decades of Israeli military presence did not root out...[Hizbullah]. The only thing that has been proved to end suicide attacks, in Lebanon and elsewhere, is withdrawal by the occupying force.
"Thus the new Israeli land offensive may take ground and destroy weapons, but it has little chance of destroying the...[Hizbullah] movement. In fact, in the wake of the bombings of civilians [in Qana on July 30], the incursion will probably aid...[Hizbullah's] recruiting. Equally important, Israel's incursion is also squandering the good will it had initially earned from so-called moderate Arab states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. These countries are the court of opinion that matters because, while Israel cannot crush...[Hizbullah], it could achieve a more limited goal: ending...[Hizbullah's] acquisition of more missiles through Syria.
Pape said: "Given Syria's total control of its border with Lebanon, stemming the flow of weapons is a job for diplomacy, not force. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, Sunni-led nations that want stability in the region, are motivated to stop the rise of ...[Hizbullah]. Under the right conditions, the United States might be able to help assemble an ad hoc coalition of Syria's neighbors to entice and bully it to prevent Iranian, Chinese or other foreign missiles from entering Lebanon. It could also offer to begin talks about the Golan Heights. But Israel must take the initiative. Unless it calls off the offensive and accepts a genuine cease-fire, there are likely to be many, many dead Israelis in the coming weeks - and a much stronger...[Hizbullah]".
(Robert A. Pape is the author of "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism").
Why Israel & US Are Losing The War: These are extracts from an article by Patrick Seale, a commentator and author of several books on Middle East affairs, published on Aug. 4 by Gulf News: "In a word of wise advice to dumb political leaders, Denis Healey, a former British defence secretary, used to say, 'When you're in a hole, stop digging!' The US and Israel are in a deep and dangerous hole. They urgently need to 'stop digging' before the hole swallows them up. They are fighting, and losing, on three fronts Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.
"It seems...this is not enough for the more insane and hysterical among them who are clamouring to extend the war to Syria and Iran, and to the whole of...the 'Islamo-Fascist' world. Israel denies it is involved in the Iraq war. But, in fact, it is as much part of that conflict as the US is now part of the wars in Lebanon and Palestine. Israel participated in the strategic planning for the Iraq war, which was designed to remove any threat to it from the east. Its neo-con friends in Washington egged America on to fight and fabricated the phoney intelligence which persuaded a gullible president that smashing Iraq was necessary for America's security.
"Three years later, the US is up to its neck in the Iraqi quagmire, squandering billions of dollars and losing men at the rate of about one a day, but without the good sense or the will to hoist itself out of the hole.
"The wars in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon are all inter-linked, with US abuses in Iraq providing a model for Israel's indiscriminate violence against civilians, and its breach of international humanitarian law. Israel is merely doing what the US pioneered. When the world's superpower creates conditions of international anarchy by destroying the checks and balances of the international system, lesser powers feel free to follow suit.
"The pro-Israeli ideologues in Washington are still apparently driven by the fantasy that the entire Middle East can be restructured by military force to suit US and Israeli interests. And the US president, worried about the looming mid-term elections in November, is too stubborn and too ignorant to call a halt to this madness.
"The wars in Lebanon and Palestine are US-Israel wars, pre-planned jointly and waged in close strategic coordination. The Israelis do the fighting while the US provides the funding, the weapons and the political and diplomatic cover. It has delayed a ceasefire to give Israel time to 'finish the job'. But the wars are not going their way. In both Lebanon and Gaza, Israel might achieve some tactical gains like...[the Aug. 2] commando raid on Baalbek but a strategic victory is almost certainly unattainable.
"...[Hizbullah] and Hamas are not conventional armies which can be wiped out on the battlefield, nor are they 'terrorist organisations' with no claim to recognition or respect. They are national resistance movements deeply rooted in the local population whom they represent and whose rights and lives they seek to defend against Israel's repeated aggressions.
"In Lebanon, Israel's immediate war aim appears to be to drive...[Hizbullah] and the local civilian population out of a 30 kilometre wide stretch up to the Litani river, in the hope that an international force will then step in to disarm...[Hizbullah] and protect Israel from further rocket attacks. This is a pipedream. Occupying south Lebanon will not protect Israeli forces from further guerrilla attacks such as drove them out in 2000 and no country will send troops to fight...[Hizbullah] on Israel's behalf.
"As the French have made clear, an international force can be deployed only with the consent of all the parties, ...[Hizbullah] included, and only when peace is restored.
"The moral and political cost to Israel of this ethnic cleansing and state terrorism is exceedingly high. Israel's contempt for Arab life and the laws of war has eroded the legitimacy it managed to achieve in its brief 58 years of existence. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of outraged and radicalised Arabs are itching to attack it.
"This is the fundamental contradiction at the heart of Israel's policy. By seeking to restore its dented deterrent capability by brutal means by demanding the freedom to attack its enemies while denying them the freedom to hit back Israel has created a host of bitter and vengeful enemies. Its vulnerability to asymmetrical warfare will be increased not reduced by its pitiless campaigns on both fronts.
"The wider US and Israeli aim of destroying...[Hizbullah] and removing all trace of Syria or Iranian influence from Lebanon, is another unattainable fantasy. For historical, confessional and social reasons, because of a dense network of family and other ties, and because of shared strategic and security interests, Syria and Iran will always have far greater sway in Lebanon than Israel or the US can ever hope to have.
"Whatever military surprises the next week or two may bring, it is already clear that hatred for Israel and disillusion with America will know no bounds, while...[Hizbullah] will emerge stronger from the battle. By setting themselves impossible aims, Israel and the US have guaranteed their own failure.
"The United States is now at an important crossroads in its dealings with the Arab and Muslim world. Will it sink deeper into hostility or can it find the wisdom to correct its aim? There are experienced men in Washington who know what needs to be done - men like Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George Bush senior, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser; but their voices are not heard in George W. Bush's White House.
"The problems of the region must be tackled frontally and together, because they are interlinked. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be resolved with the creation of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.
'The Israeli-Syrian conflict must be resolved with the return to Syria of the Golan [Heights].
"Lebanon must be rebuilt with a massive injection of aid and international guarantees for its future security.
"The US must start a bilateral dialogue with Iran aimed at restoring diplomatic relations and recognising Iran's regional interests and security fears.
"Israel must give up its vain ambition to dominate the region militarily and should instead, safe within its 1967 borders, conclude peace treaties with the entire Arab world based on mutual respect and good neighbourliness.
"Is this utopian vision the greatest pipedream of all? In the meantime the killing goes on and everyone is a loser".
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|Publication:||APS Diplomat News Service|
|Date:||Aug 7, 2006|
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