Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Neutralising Hezbollah

Roula Khalaf in the FT (via Gregory Djerejian) :
The determination – and the military sophistication – of the group is at the heart of the international conundrum over how to resolve what is happening in Lebanon. The world has been seized by the tragedy of Lebanon. The small Mediterranean country is seen as paying the price for the standoff between the US and the axis of Syria and Iran.

Envoys have rushed to Beirut to offer their sympathy to a government dominated by a pro-western coalition that, while not endorsing Hizbollah’s actions, has implored the world to intervene to halt Israel’s retaliation. A similar show of support will be mounted on Wednesday when foreign ministers from the US, Europe and Arab states gather in Rome to hammer out the shape of a possible ceasefire.

But most of the ideas for a ceasefire assume that Israel will be able to neutralise Hizbollah, paving the way for the implementation of UN Security Council 1559, which calls for the group’s disarmament.
Nicholas Burns, US under-secretary of state, told the BBC that, when you speak to governments behind the scenes, they don't really want an immediate ceasefire.

Clearly, the more the Israelis weaken Hezbollah, the easier the task of any international force and/or the Lebanese army, in purely military terms. For the broader issues, read the whole of Roula Khalaf's article (which is called 'Inside Lebanon: why Hizbollah may be winning the battle for hearts and minds') or the longer extracts Greg gives therefrom.

The morning's news (26 Jul): 4 UN observers have been killed by the Israelis. Israel claims it has killed a senior Hezbollah commander, identified as Abu Jaffa. Nasrallah promises to extend the strikes beyond Haifa. In Gaza, 7 have been killed: Israel says 5 militants and 2 civilians (1 a 3-year-old).

Olivier Rafovitch, Porte-Parole de l'Armée Israelienne, on France Inter.
This from the BBC, yesterday: 'A new force for peace?'.

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