Friday, August 18, 2006

The Lebanese Army In The South At Last

After years of waiting, thousands of southern Lebanese went out to the streets of their towns and villages to welcome their national army with traditional dancing, flowers and the Arab welcome gesture of throwing rice. It has been a moment that most the people have been waiting for decades.
The army reached Thursday the barbed wire on the Lebanon-Israel border and the deployment of the 15,000 troops was to continue for days. The troops are to be backed by thousands of U.N. peacekeepers in the next few weeks.
Four days after the cease fire went into force, life was going back to normal in Beirut with people going out during the day and rubble was being removed from heavily damaged areas so that reconstruction can begin.
Still when I drive around the capital at night all the memories of the 1975-90 war come back to me especially because the roads at night are almost empty and dark due to electricity cuts. But now that fuel tankers have entered ports, hopefully electricity will come back 24 hours a day, the airport will be active like before and businesses will reopen as usually.
Life will get better day after day.
In politics, now that the 34-day war ended, it seems that the problems are beginning to rise in Lebanon and Israel. Hezbollah as well as Israel's politicians and army chief of staff are being criticized.
Anti-Syrian politicians Walid Jumblatt and Saad Hariri criticized Hezbollah saying that only a strong state should be responsible for the protection of its people. Jumblatt asked where is the state if Hassan Nasrallah behaves the way he wants.
Hezbollah's reaction came through Al-Manar television that started its main news broadcast by saying, without naming any politician, "some are settling accounts with the resistance." It also said that what is going on "is a coup against the victory."
In Israel, the popularity of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz is dropping and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz is being widely criticized for selling stocks shortly before the war started in July.
As days pass we will see more and more leaders being criticized on both sides especially when they both say they won war. Those who did not win this war for sure are the people who lost their lives, peace be upon souls.
By Bassem Mroue
Beirut, August 18, 2006
1:00 p.m.


At 4:57 PM, Blogger BBC said...

No one wins a war, there are just many losers and a lot of pain and suffering.

At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I continued t be amazed that Arabs and particularly Lebanese can think of Hezbollah as having won the war. The cheering in the Arab street is typical of the bizarre bravado where inflicting suffering on someone else is a victory no matter how much harm you suffer yourself. That is not to say that Israel won. It certainly did not either, as Hezbollah has not been defanged, Israel’s soldiers are still captive and its political (and some senior military) leadership is viewed as incompetent at home.

On the other hand, the aftermath of this war will tell the tale. Already, the Lebanese appear to be capitulating to hezbollah and thus Iranian and Syrian rule. The Lebanese army will not disarm Hezbollah or disband it. That means Hezbollah will continue to be the local power in the South, able to pull Lebanon into war at will and able to prevent Lebanon from asserting independence from Syria. If that continues, Hezbollah will have won, although its victory will be over Lebanon, not Israel (although bad for Israel).

From Israel’s perspective, Hezbollah has stopped firing missiles at it. The Lebanese army and perhaps other foreign armies will be between it and Hezbollah. That is a success for Israel. If Hezbollah actually disarms, which is unlikely, that is more of a success. On the other hand, what will the Lebanese army, UNIFIL and th eFrench really do if Hezballah does another kidnapping run or launches some Katyushas? Perhaps Israel achieved nothing from the ceasefire.

Most likely, though, Hezbollah will not disarm. Nor will it resist striking at Israel. The question then is how much will Hezbollah be allowed to replenish their arsenals before they bring Israel down on the Lebanese heads again and how much will Israel have learned from this last confrontation that it can apply to the next one. My guess is that Israel will be much more effective at ground combat and probably less careful about minimizing civilian damage the second time around.

What do the Lebanese readers of this blog think will happen?

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