Winner Is . . . Iran
Once upon a
time, men engaged in armed conflict with the intent of achieving
victory. Wars were fought with the purpose of conquering peoples,
seizing natural resources or preserving peace, among other assorted yet
somewhat tangible objectives. Pondering this summer’s war between Israel
and Hezbollah, however, leaves one puzzled to some degree by what either
side’s goals consisted of, and by whether they achieved them.
conflict began with Hezbollah attacking the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF),
killing and capturing some of its members. This incident confirmed that
Hezbollah is not so much a “resistance” force so much as an ideological
organization with ulterior motives. After all, if Lebanon’s sovereignty
reigned as Hezbollah’s supreme objective, it would probably not attack
Israel, which has, for all intents and purposes, left Lebanon alone
since its withdrawal in 2000. If anything, it would “resist” a power
such as Syria, which has continuously exploited Lebanon in a clear
fashion through 2005, and continued to harm it quite efficiently even
after its forced extraction that year.
suggestion, however, would be laughable to any member of the Shiite
militia. Hence, though Hezbollah claims that the latest round of
fighting with Israel demonstrates and reinforces the need to trust it as
a legitimate resistance army, it has unnecessarily drawn the IDF into so
much destruction in Lebanon that, if anything, the month of violence has
come to show the opposite.
hundreds of corpses, the massive piles of rubble and the wrecked economy
worth the capture of two Israeli soldiers? To any reasonable Lebanese
citizen, clearly not – and the answer would be the same for an objective
Hezbollah fighter, were his goal to truly revolve around the health of
Lebanon as a nation.
The fact of
the matter is that Hezbollah’s loyalties lie with Iran first and
foremost. Viewing the conflict from that angle sheds some light on
Hezbollah’s celebrations in recent days and accompanying fireworks in
Tehran. Through Hezbollah, Iran distracted the world from its
development of nuclear weapons, demonstrated its ability to cause chaos
on a mass scale and sent a warning to the world, all without putting
itself at risk.
Israel’s Ehud Olmert also declared victory, his assertion was insincere
and publicly discredited. The only positive outcome for Israel from the
month-long conflict is the replacement of Hezbollah’s militia south of
the Litani River with the Lebanese military and U.N. forces. It is not
an insignificant success, but for the Israelis, it is incomplete.
indiscriminate destruction of Lebanese infrastructure, much of which was
put exclusively to civilian use and not utilized for militia activities,
Israel turned world opinion against it and so severely weakened the
Lebanese economy that it, by default, curtailed the Lebanese
government’s standing in the country. This reduction of the government’s
power also signifies that it can no longer stand up to Hezbollah the way
it had been in previous months, an outcome which seems to conflict with
Israel’s ultimate goal of disarming Hezbollah.
surely Israel weakened Hezbollah to some degree in the month-long
campaign, its achievements were not sustainable. The Israelis destroyed
weapons depots and physical headquarters, disrupted weapons transport
and killed a small number of militiamen. But they failed to touch the
leadership, eliminate significant numbers of fighters or, especially,
ensure the permanent discontinuation of weapons imports from Syria and
is still there, and now it will become significantly stronger as it
spends the political capital it gained from the conflict and enlists the
loyalties of the hundreds of thousands of homeless and displaced
civilians in southern Lebanon. Syria and Iran, emboldened and encouraged
by the effectiveness of Hezbollah in fighting off Israeli land
incursions into Lebanon, will empower the militia even further. Tehran
will invest generously in the reconstruction of Shiite areas as it picks
up even more influence in Lebanon. These results are hardly the ones Tel
Aviv was hoping for.
recap. Hezbollah was temporarily weakened to the point of being forced
out of the area south of the Litani River, but on the other hand retains
its weapons, draws on sympathy from inside and outside Lebanon, grows as
a social and political power in Lebanon and delivers Iran a victory.
Israel eliminates Hezbollah as an immediate military threat, but the
success seems only temporary as Iran sees the conflict as only a
beginning, particularly with the Shiite militia retaining its arms.
therefore not too ludicrous that both sides declared victory upon the
war’s conclusion, since each can emphasize a separate aspect. The
conflict’s principal victor appears to Iran, and its biggest loser the
state of Lebanon. Interestingly, neither was supposed to be a main
player in the conflict, though the impact seems to be somewhat clear on
them early on. As for Israel and Hezbollah, however, only time will tell
which, if either, benefited more from the yet unnamed war.
© 2006 North Star
Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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