US Holds Iran, Syria to Account for Hizballah
Following the Hizballah attack in Israel that resulted in several IDF soldiers dead and two kidnapped, the United States blamed Syria and Iran and the President Bush called for the immediate release of the soldiers without conditions of a prisoner swap. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist minced few words stating “We must hold the governments of Syria and Iran accountable for their continued support to Hezbollah.”
Setting the stage for unwavering support for Israeli military actions in response, Senator Frist continued, “So long as these governments are failing to live up to their responsibilities, no one should question the right of the government of Israel to act in self-defense against terrorists operating from Lebanon.” Present in Israeli responses and missing from the American responses was condemnation of Lebanon’s government and holding them accountable for the actions of Hizballah.
Following the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, UN Security Council Resolution 1559 not only called for the complete military withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon, but it also called for “the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias,” most significant among them the Iranian-founded Hizballah in southern Lebanon. It is no mistake that the government of Lebanon was not named the sole executor of this order, as Hizballah is armed, financed and trained by Syria and Iran, with a headquarters in Damascus at the behest of their Iranian masters.
But while the US has avoided holding the Lebanese government responsible, Israel has approved a wave of Lebanon air strikes that reportedly will target not only Hizballah but civilian infrastructure. It should be noted that the entire southern region of Lebanon is considered Hizballah territory and functions nearly as an autonomous region under the Islamist control of the Hizballah Islamic terrorist group.
Meanwhile, France condemned the Israeli attacks in response to the Hizballah kidnappings while calling for the release of the two IDF soldiers.
Hizballah has followed the model set into action by Hamas in Gaza: Cross into Israel, launch an attack on a vulnerable IDF position or vehicles, kill those you can and take the injured prisoner in order to demand a lopsided prisoner exchange. With widespread condemnation for the IDF’s Gaza offensive both loud and regular, Hizballah and their Iranian masters surely seek to harness the same favor from a response they knew would be both certain and harsh.
With Hizballah’s acknowledged cooperation with the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the model is almost certainly less ‘followed’ than shared.
Israel followed their own model as well after yet another troop abduction: The Israeli Air Force took out key bridges that could be used as egress routes for prisoner transport, making mobility more difficult in the area, followed by an incursion of troops and armor in search of their missing troops.
As France has telegraphed, the prevailing world reaction will almost certainly contain more condemnation of Israel, which remains confronted by enemies who purposefully station themselves amongst their civilian populations.