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The Beginning of a New War? - Will it Spill over on Iraq?
by juan cole (reposted)
Thursday Jul 13th, 2006 6:30 AM

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Beginning of a New War?
Will it Spill over on Iraq?

All hell broke loose on Wednesday in the Mideast, with a Hizbullah attack on the Israeli army and Israeli reprisals, and the Israeli dropping of a 500 pound bomb on Gaza. I roundly condemn Hizbullah's criminal and stupid attack on Israel and escalation of a crisis that is already harming ordinary Palestinians on a massive scale.

Likewise, the Beirut airport is not in south Lebanon and for the Israelis to bomb it and neighborhoods in south Beirut is a disproportionate use of force. The Israelis are actually talking about causing "pain to the Lebanese." That is despicable.

One thing is clear. This crisis will not leave the fabric of Lebanese politics untouched, and the danger of an unraveling is acute. And, it is clear that the withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon has given an opening to Israeli hawks to invade Lebanese territory again. It will not be good for Israelis if Lebanon collapses into a failed state again.

Rejectionists on both sides are to blame. The Oslo Peace Process could have forestalled all this violence, as Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin understood. But on the Israeli side, the then Likud Party of Bibi Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert derailed it. On the Palestinian side, Hamas rejected it. Had there been a peace process, prisoners would have been released in return for a cessation of hostilities, and there would have been no motivation to capture Israeli soldiers.

The lesson is that if you refuse to negotiate a peace, then you are likely to have to go on fighting a war.

I continue to worry that this outbreak of war in the Levant will exacerbate tensions in Iraq and get more US troops killed. Iraqi Sunnis generally sympathize with the Palestinians. And hard line Shiites like the Sadr Movement and the Mahdi Army are close to Hizbullah. Israel's wars could tip Iraq over into an unstoppable downward spiral.

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by BBC (reposted)
Friday Jul 14th, 2006 9:41 PM
Israel is America's ally. When Israeli troops are captured by Hezbollah, the immediate sympathies of the United States lie with Israel.

President George W Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert both say that they're fighting a war on terror.

They have common enemies - radical Islamic extremists willing to use violence.

Both view Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Both see the hand of Syria and Iran in supporting Hezbollah.

But Israel's military action against Lebanon has huge complications.

The US has been supporting Lebanon's independence and leading calls for an end to Syria's interference in the country.

Yes, America is concerned that Hezbollah is still a political force in the country and represented in the government.

It has called on Lebanon take steps to disarm Hezbollah.

But America wants to strengthen - not weaken - Lebanon as an independent state.

When Israel targets Lebanon, it undermines those efforts and increases the sectarian divide in a country that is trying to emerge from decades of civil war.

Deliberate provocation?

Then there are the broader regional issues.

The US fears that this is a deliberate attempt by Tehran and Damascus to provoke Israel and divide international opinion.