Hizballah Was On The Ropes
By Steve Schippert
As the ceasefire agreed to under UNSC Resolution 1701 has gone into effect just hours ago, signs remain expectedly mixed on its effect. Israel has ceased artillery and air strikes on Hizballah and the rain of rockets from Hizballah onto Israeli cities appears to have stopped.
However, reports of ‘quiet’ are mixed and how long any quiet will hold remains to be seen. Most believe any quiet will be short lived, as the ceasefire left the conflict completely unresolved. To be sure, Hassan Nasrallah declared that Hizballah will attack any IDF forces within Hizballah-held territory in the same statement that included his acceptance of the ceasefire. Israel remains in place.
To that end, there are already Hizballah attacks on IDF troops in the southern Lebanese village of Hadatha. The ceasefire has put the forward-leaning IDF in a precarious situation that resembles nothing of peace yet is defined as something other than war-fighting. The Israel News Agency quoted an IDF official on the Hadatha incident saying that the IDF soldiers under attack “took defensive positions, requested that they [Hizballah] lay their arms down, fired warning shots and then fired at the approaching Hezbollah terrorists. The firefight occured over a short period of time.”
Those who may have believed – or hoped – otherwise should note the above incident and conclude that Hizballah will not be laying down their arms to honor any United Nations decree. The extent to which they will honor UNSC Resolution 1701 runs parallel with the extent to which it is advantageous for them, primarily in ending deep IDF strikes on their infrastructure and permitting conditions that aid their attempts to re-fortify and re-arm terrorists in southern Lebanon.
According to a Haaretz report, Israel is considering lifting the naval blockade on Lebanese ports and once again allowing flights into and out of Beirut. But the most telling piece of information within that context is that, if Israel decides to lift these blockades, it will once again allow traffic to flow into the Bekaa Valley from Syria without restriction. If the Israeli political body goes this far, the capitulation will be complete and the flow of arms, men and supplies to Hizballistan will begin anew.
It should be clear that Hizballah will remain in southern and eastern Lebanon until they are defeated and ejected by the IDF. Not only will the 'international force' fail to engage Hizballah to disarm them the only way possible, neither will that force's host soldiers, the Lebanese Army's 15,000-man deployment.
Lebanon's UN Ambassador, Nouhad Mahmoud, made this point clear and left no room for any misinterpretation, saying that the Lebanese Army soldiers "are not going to use force" to disarm Hizballah. "Hizballah will just leave the area as armed elements as I understand it, and the Lebanese army will take over the whole region along with the United Nations forces."
The belief that Hizballah will “just leave the area,” armed or disarmed, appears either disingenuous or complicit, but certainly is far removed from reality.
And with that, the paper mandate is relegated to failure, a proverbial dog with all bark and no bite. If the Lebanese Army is not going to use force - nor even require Hizballah to disarm - who among the commanders of any potential 'international force' is going to issue the order to engage, fight and disarm Hizballah - according to the paper mandate - if the Lebanese Army will not do such for themselves?
Yet, despite the discouraging words from Lebanon’s UN ambassador, the Jerusalem Post reports that at least some Lebanese Christians are more aligned with Israel in their quest to diminish Hizballah than others in Lebanon appear to be. While there is certainly no love for Israel within Lebanese communities, a fair number likely quietly had hoped that Israel would have taken Hizballah down a notch or two farther. Hizballah truly is and has been an internal threat to the fledgling democracy, and it is to this end that they have received and continue to receive Iranian and Syrian lifelines, beyond the stated goal of “wiping Israel off the map.” We might consider the larger jihadist conviction to erradicating the bid'ah of democracy from the MIddle East as being just as significant an objective, unless that democracy serves to bring them to power.
Ejected from a visible presence in Lebanon following the assassination of Rafik Hariri, Syria has long sought to destabilize the Lebanese government while protecting the status of Syria’s appointed Lebanese president, Emil Lahoud. One of the most effective means to do this, aside from targeted assassination attempts of anti-Syiran figures, has been the continued support of Hizballah and its reign over Hizballistan within Lebanese borders.
Has anyone paused to contemplate the implications the UN’s ceasefire will have on the fledgling Lebanese democracy? With Hizballah undeniably awarded a reprieve, it may now celebrate knowing it has been rewarded for its actions and enjoys an increased self-perception of legitimacy and tangible power within Lebanon. The Lebanese Army is both unable and unwilling to confront and disarm Hizballah – let alone any foreign forces whose primary mission, from private to colonel, will be to simply survive and go home.
The Larger Impact
Hizballah was once on the ropes. The international community, having no stomach for reality nor the fortitude to confront the most heavily armed jihadist organization on the planet, granted Hizballah its reprieve by joining them in suing for a ceasefire and saving them from the only force willing to confront them: the IDF.
The Israeli government may face trouble ahead - having ignored the wishes of the IDF and the Israeli public - for having backed the UN and external diplomatic concerns rather than confronting and destroying Hizballah with the full and unrestrained power of its forces.
Most assuredly, when Hizballah takes up arms against Israel again, it will continue its practice of fighting from within the civilian population of Lebanon, and now is likely to seek additional refuge in and among the Lebanese and international forces that rightly should have already disarmed the group based on UN resolutions prior to even UNSC Resolution 1701.
The conclusion of this battle - declared a victory by Hizballah - is accurately described as a victory for jihadist world wide. The world failed to support Israel, failed to stand firm against a terrorist enemy, and failed to address the enabling states and ideologies which fuel this fire.