ANOTHER SUMMER WAR IN THE LEBANON IN THE OFFING? A COMMENT
"Israel Defense Forces exchanged fire with the Lebanese army on Tuesday, killing three Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist, in what appeared to be the most serious military confrontation since Israel's month-long war with Hezbollah in 2006.
The Lebanese army confirmed that two of its troops had been killed when Israeli forces fired on a vehicle in which they were traveling, setting it on fire and wounding another. A UNIFIL peacekeeper waves a UN flag as Israeli troops patrol the border fence in the southern Lebanese village of Adaisseh, Lebanon on Tuesday,
Aug. 3, 2010. In Lebanon, security sources said that Israeli shells fired at the southern Lebanese border village of Aadassi hit a house, wounding two - a soldier and a civilian.
Lebanese troops responded with artillery fire, Lebanese press reports said, while eyewitnesses said fire had broken out in two buildings in the village.
"It started when the Israelis wanted to cut a tree down inside Lebanon," one security source in Lebanon said. "The Lebanese army fired warning shots at them and they responded by shelling...."
"Israel sees this incident as a violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701, one of a long line of violations, first of which is the massive arming of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon," the statement read. "Israel views the government of Lebanon as responsible for this grave event and warns of possible consequences if these violations continue."
Also on Tuesday there were reports that a Katyusha rocket fired from Lebanon struck the northern Galilee - but police dispatched to the area could find no trace of an impact. Residents living close to border reported hearing several loud explosions....
Israeli military engineering units maintain a security fence along the border with southern Lebanon. The region has traditionally been a stronghold for Hezbollah but regular Lebanese troops returned to the area in 2006 following Israel's summer war with the Shi'a militant group.... Tuesday's clash follows rocket attacks on Monday on the southern city of Eilat and neighboring Aqaba in Jordan, in which a Jordanian citizen was killed and five others were injured".
Jack Khoury, "3 Lebanese soldiers, journalist killed in clash on Israeli-Lebanon border," 3 August 2010, in www.haaretz.com
"Syrian President Bashar Assad warned on Sunday “the prospects of war and confrontation are increasing”. The President was marking the 65th anniversary of the creation of the Syrian army.
“Syria reiterates its willingness in the just peace and consolidating bases of security and stability in this vital region of the world … and this will not be realized except by the restoration of the whole usurped rights according to the relevant international resolutions … the first factor of peace is preserving dignity, sovereignty and not abandoning any bit of soil or drop of water”
Relevant international resolutions, dignity and sovereignty were at stake today as Lebanese and Israeli troops exchanged fire after Israeli soldiers used a crane to remove a tree on the Lebanese side of the border between the two countries in an apparent violation of UN resolution 1701. Israel claimed that the tree was on the Israeli side of the border and that this is not he first time its soldiers uprooted trees along the border in order to improve visibility and accused Lebanon of provoking the fight. Lebanon said the Israelis crossed onto Lebanese soil despite calls from the U.N. and Lebanon to stop. When the Israelis persisted, Lebanese troops opened fire with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades....
Nasrallah later made it clear that next time there is an Israeli attack on the Lebanese army, where his fighters have a presence, he promises that “the resistance will not stay quiet” no matter how others will interpret their involvement.
If the next routine Israeli violation of Lebanese sovereignty does not flare into a full fledged war, the Hariri assassination’s UN backed tribunal can provide another clear path to war. For years Syria was portrayed as the prime suspect behind the Hariri assassination. The accusations were part of an intense, long term, campaign by the Bush administration, Israel, Saudi Arabia, France, and other countries to discredit, weaken and isolate Syria.
Recently, those accusations are shifting to Hezbollah. Syrian and Saudi leaders feared that Lebanon’s fragile national unity might not survive the rumored mention of Hezbollah by the UN tribunal and the anticipated escalation in international pressure to dismantle or punish Hezbollah, the kind of pressure that Syria knows so well. President Assad and King Abdullah, leaders of the two most influential countries in Lebanon, tried during a historical visit to Beirut to ask their Lebanese allies to stay calm no matter what they read in the upcoming UN report....
On the eve of the Saudi monarch’s visit to Syria a US State Department spokesman issued a strange and provocative statement, calling on the Syrian President to listen carefully to what King Abdullah has to say about the Syrian – Iranian relationship. In Damascus, a Saudi official [commenting on this] told me “can this be true…what does Washington want?”
Meanwhile in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu warned that pushing Israel to extend the freeze on its settlement activities in the west bank will lead to the collapse of his coalition government. If Mr. Netanyahu feels that an extension of a freeze, and not the dismantling, of those settlements is enough to destroy his government, then what exactly is he prepared to offer the Palestinians or Syrians in any upcoming peace negotiations that everyone is trying to start? Given this unprecedented degree of Israeli “generosity” and American paralysis, will the next Middle East conflict erupt when Israeli troops decide to cut down the next tree in southern Lebanon?
Camille Alexandre Otrakji, "Will rising tensions in the Middle East lead to another catastrophic war?" 3 August 2010 in www.syriacomment.com.
On the surface at any rate, one is tempted to believe that there might indeed be something to be concerned about as it relates to the current situation in the Near East. Especially as it relates to the outbreak of fighting that was seen earlier this week in the Lebanon. However, in point of fact, the mere fact that both Hezbollah and the regime in Damascus are making noises about an impending war is quite revealing. The same types of noises were made earlier this year and late last year. By pretty much the same parties. With of course no action occurring. Which lends itself to the idea that in point of fact, these 'noises-off', are nothing more than scare tactics aimed at re-starting an almost moribund American diplomatic effort in the Levant. Especially as it relates to the Golan Heights. As you may recall, approximately a year and half ago, there was much trumpeting of the idea that the new American Administration, would commence a new relationship with the Assad regime in Syria. With the end-result of that being a settlement between Israel and Syria involving the return of Golan to Damascus. Well, eighteen months later, absolutely nothing of the sort has happened. For reasons which we have outlined in this journal on a good number of occasions. Unfortunately, it would appear that the regime in Damascus and their clients in the Lebanon (Hezbollah) are possessed of the quaint, but erroneous idea that if they engage in the diplomatic version of a coup de tete,and thus thereby frightening the Americans into trying to stamped the Israelis into beginning negotiations over the Golan Heights. A secondary variable here, but, quite important for Hezbollah is that they would be quite happy to play a game of 'Hussar's Roulette', and frighten off the UN Special Investigator into naming them as the party who actually pulled the trigger and murdered former Lebanese Premier Hariri back in 2005. As rumors state might in fact now occur. Hence of course this completely manufactured 'incident' which occurred earlier this week. An additional reason not to take all this 'war talk' seriously, is the fact that the Israelis themselves do not appear to do so. If this were a matter of serious import, Tel Aviv would be the very first who would start (defensively of course) issuing warnings and demarches about the dangers of Syria, et. al. playing ajeu de va banque. Correctly of course, their attitude in the current situation is that of Graf Lev Tolstoi, who said apropos the early 20th century Russian writer, Leonid Andreyev: 'He wants to scare people, but, I am not scared'.