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Israel Displays Clarity and Resolve In Conflict

Israel is clearly not intimidated by Iran, as their statements backed by direct actions against Hizballah and their Iranian masters in southern Lebanon demonstrate without ambiguity. Yet, exuding confidence in the face of Israel’s bold determination, Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared that it was time for the world to “wrap up Zionism before it is too late.” This is how Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reports his message in the Iranian city of Maragheh on Wednesday, the day before Hizballah launched over 100 rockets into 20 Israeli cities, including the port city of Haifa. Shortly after, again through the bellicose Ahmadinejad, Iran warned Israel not to attack Syria. Reportedly in a telephone conversation with Syrian president Bashar Assad, the Iranian president declared, “If the Zionist regime commits another stupid move and attacks Syria, this will be considered like attacking the whole Islamic world and this regime will receive a very fierce response.”

It is unlikely that IDF tanks will kick up Syrian dust as a unilateral initiative. However when the Israeli armor rolls into southern Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley to dismantle the vast Hizballah stronghold, airstrikes against Syrian positions – primarily aircraft and air defense missile batteries within range – would be an absolute necessity for the Israeli Air Force to take ownership of the skies in order to execute the multitude of strikes against Hizballah camps and forces. Syrian and Iranian action to this seemingly inevitable necessity will surely dictate the scope and breadth of the conflict to come.

Earlier today, a clear message was sent to Hizballah leader Hassan Nassrallah that he is a clear target for Israeli liquidation. Israel’s interior minister, Roni Bar-On, said on Israeli radio, “Nasrallah decided his own fate. We will settle our accounts with him when the time comes.”

Qatar and those who supported their proposed UN statement condemning Israel offered some clarity while the United States’ veto of the measure appeared to do the same. Yet, President Bush followed the clear signal of support for Israel’s self-defense by muddying the waters with a promise to Lebanon to pressure Israel to stop their attacks. Further mixed signals were offered by the nations that abstained from the UN vote on Qatar’s initiative, including the UK.

The only instance of ambiguity among the principal actors (Israel, Hizballah, Syria and Iran) came in the form of the Hizballah denial of responsibility for the rocket attacks on Haifa. But clarity was quickly restored when Israel rejected the statement out of hand, maintaining a stance of no longer distinguishing between the various groups and their state sponsors. They are all allied with the same strategy, tactics and mission. They share arms, funds, intelligence and manpower.

Seemingly ending their participation in a cycle of diplomatic gamesmanship through statements and reactions and fruitless negotiations like those in Gaza over the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit, the Israelis have laid their cards face up on the table. Israel has resolved to say simply, “Enough.”

So while the rest of the world offers a mixed bag of signals for either side, among the actors directly involved, the open warfare offers a normally elusive clarity.

[NOTE: Since initial publishing, the subtitle of this post has been altered to more correctly read “Lebanon Says US to ‘Pressure Israel’” vice the original “President Bush Muddies Once-Clear Waters of Support.” As pointed out in a comment on this post, the word of any promise comes from Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora in his quote. Since the Fox News article was first read and linked, at least the headline has changed from the original “Bush Promises to Pressure Israel to Stop Attacks”. How much of the text has changed since original publication of this post is unclear. Nonetheless, there may have been accomodating discussion between the two, but rejecting the calls for cease-fire does not rise to ‘muddying the waters’.]

Feedback

Forgive that this is slightly off topic, but we could use your help.

Some friends of ours are on the mountain roads trying to get across the border from Lebanon into Syria in the next hour or two. Like loads of civilians they’ve been caught up in this chaos and are running scared. The attacks have certainly knocked out the arterial routes, but we're hoping that they can be lucky on the smaller roads. It's been a hellish night for everyone in the city; they're tired, disorientated and panicked. Face it: whatever your religion, politics or background, few of us can image what it’s like to have the world fall apart around you. The local media – which have not been taken out - seems patchy about the facts, but although we're in the UK we can get messages to them by sms text about roads that have not, yet, been bombed.

This may sound crazy, but we’d really appreciate any links you can suggest to blogs or media beyond mainstream press that might have detailed information about what’s happening on the ground. Google’s indexes are not updating fast enough, and we don’t have local language skills.

It’s getting dark there now and when countries collapse, security and law collapse with them. The BBC reported that bombings in Lebanon just began again. Let’s all just pray for some peace and sanity across the region tonight, and that hot heads cool on all sides.

(We’ll keep checking the postings here tonight and appreciate any links - and thanks for publishing this post, we know it was off topic).

I have to object to your characterization of Bush's remarks as "promising to ... stop their (Israel's) attacks." Bush most decidely did not promise to stop Israel's attacks, just to advocate limiting collateral damage (exactly in the manner we have used in Iraq for the past three years).

You might start here:

Lebanese Bloggers

Best of luck to you all.

Danny:

Please visit Ya Libnan | Live News from Lebanon. Good people run this and it is very active in reporting.

I know a couple of contacts and am currently working to get their permission (assuming I can contact still)to share an email address and contact you directly.

If you could, for security reasons, please send me an e-mail address to reach you at from the same computer/device you left the above comment from.

Trying to work on it for you. Use the following to contact me directly:

steve dot schippert at threatswatch dot org

Danny:

From one of the folks at Ya Libnan!...

At the moment, Danny's friends are probably better off laying low in Lebanon. I recommend moving up to a hotel in Mount Lebanon, like the Mir Amin hotel in Beiteddine or a place in Faraya. The areas are generally safer than Beirut for the time being.


Benjamin:

Thank you for noting that. In review, we discovered that the article title now available at the Fox News link is entirely different from the original:

"Bush Promises to Pressure Israel to Stop Attacks"

I cannot verify any textual differences from sheer memory, but they likely also exist to have justified such a dramatic change.

You can still read the original headline within the still-live link to Fox, and it is displayed as it existed when written in our link title (hover over the link to read 'title').

Personally, I think Fox news simply jumped the gun and got the story wrong initially, and I followed them over the cliff.

We have both adjusted.

Thanks again for the attention to that.

Cheers.