Monday, January 05, 2009

Lebanon/Gaza, déjà vu?

Sami Moubaye, at the Asia Times, looks at the similarities between Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the similarities of the current Israeli invasion of Gaza, and that of Lebanon in 2006.

Certainly the wars are being fought with the same faulty objectives by the Israelis, that people can be separated from insurgent groups by death and destruction, and that the resulting situation will be to their advantage. An unbiased historical look at insurgencies will show this to be a fallacy, and the surrounding political situation in the Middle East makes it possible that long term effects (Egypt) could become significantly worse for both Israel and their 'friend', the US. Internal political considerations, elections looming now, and propping up Olmert back in 2006, also show the same short term, cynical thinking.

Hamas's big problem as an insurgency and resistance movement is that they are also the government in Gaza. This was a problem that Hezbollah did not have. From a propaganda view point, this means that dropping bombs on police recruits in Gaza is sanctified by their ties to Hamas, while bombing the Beirut airport was obviously directed against Lebanon, and not Hezbollah. And while Nasrallah could admit that kidnapping the Israeli soldiers was a mistake, Hamas cannot renounce shelling Sderot while Israel continues to blockade Gaza, with the resulting misery, disease and death.

Finally, geology is destiny. The rugged terrain of southern Lebanon is ideal for resisting an invasion, in Gaza there is no where to hide but buildings, letting Israel claim that Hamas is hiding behind civilians, though two can play that game.

The last Lebanon war lasted just over a month. By any metric except casualties, Israel lost that conflict. The Gaza war will probably last about as long, giving Obama's inauguration a backdrop of death and destruction that he would probably prefer to do without. Unless he is willing to speak up, which seems unlikely, the invasion will probably continue until it becomes too expensive, or after the Israeli elections, whichever comes first.

The result of the current war, unless Israel is willing to reoccupy Gaza on a permanent basis, is likely to be a stalemate once again. Occupation would be logical within their stated goals of stopping rocket fire, but the stated goals are horseshit anyway. It is a sign of a sick state (see the US as well) when issues of war and peace are decided on the basis of internal politics, but that is where we are. Until the US, and thus the Israelis, are able to divorce their policies from the neo-con dream of 'remaking' the Middle East, it will probably be déjà vu all over again in a year or two.

UPDATE: It seems that along with Egypt (mentioned above), Jordan may also be suffering the consequences of the Gaza invasion. King Abdullah of Jordan fired the head of Jordanian General Intelligence.


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