“An Arab Guerrilla Army”

Peninkstonearch "Hizbullah is proving to be something altogether new, an Arab guerrilla army with sophisticated weaponry and remarkable discipline. Its soldiers have the jihadist rhetoric of fighting to the death, but wear body armor and use satcoms to coordinate their attacks. Their tactics may be from Che, but their arms are from Iran, and not just AK-47s and RPGs. They’ve reportedly destroyed three of Israel’s advanced Merkava tanks with wire-guided missiles and powerful mines, crippled an Israeli warship with a surface-to-sea missile, sent up drones on reconnaissance missions, implanted listening devices along the border and set up their ambushes using night-vision goggles.

NEWSWEEK has learned from a source briefed in recent weeks by Israel’s top leaders and military brass that Hizbullah even managed to eavesdrop successfully on Israel’s military communications as its Lebanese incursion began."  Newsweek


There have been Arab guerrilla armies before.  The "Arab Revolt" against the Turks in WW1 was in part a campaign fought by Beduin guerrilla forces and in part a conventional war fought by "regular" units of infantry, cavalry, etc. led by former Ottoman officers of Arab extraction and advised by the British and French.

In the Iraq of the ’20s and the Syria and Palestine of the ’30s Arab guerrillas fought colonial and Zionist forces for years.  In the end they all were defeated by the application of technology, western methods of warfare, and police methods imported by the colonial powers from such places as India and Ireland.

The Lebanese Hizbullah "Arab Guerrilla Army" is something different.  What Newsweek describes is a force in transition, a force becoming a real army.  Vo Nguyen Giap wrote in "People’s War, People’s Army"  that a national resistance movement’s armed force must "evolve" from political agitprop activities to guerrilla war and eventually to the status and capability of regular armed forces if it is to succeed in defeating its enemies and seizing " a place at the table" in its country’s future.

Some will say that Hizbullah’s army is not a "national force."  They will say that it is merely a cats-paw of the Iranians and the Syrians.  They will say that the money and the equipment are Iranian.  This is all true, but the polling today in Lebanon indicates that the Lebanese (both Christian and Muslim) believe Hizbullah’s army to be a national force.  I would welcome comments in regard to that polling.

I think that the Lebanese/Israeli war is pounding the "arch" of Lebanese society with a hammer, driving the "keystone" into the arch and tightening the fabric of cohesive national resistance to Israel.  That keystone is now painted with a yellow flag.

Pat Lang


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61 Responses to “An Arab Guerrilla Army”

  1. jonst says:

    I think you are correct in the premise, and conclusion, cited in your last paragraph. Before I comment further on them, if you have the time and inclination, could you please respond to these questions? Do you lump Hizballah in with Hamas as implacable foes of Israel. Able, at best, to accept no more than long term, open ended truce with Israel? Or do you differentiate between the ideological goals of Hamas and Hizballah? Finally, if you are correct in your assumptions, and Hizballah becomes thee power in Lebanon; can they move, somewhat, towards a more independent foreign policy, one that puts Lebanon’s interests, as those interests are defined by Hizballah paramount, and away, somewhat, from Iran’s interests? Or are they a permanent ‘colony’ if you will, of Iran?
    Sorry for asking so many questions but they seem the crux of matter to me.

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Both are revivalist Islamic movements. They do not have the option to cede territory permanently to Israel. To do so would be to deny the sovereignty of the Umma and would in their own eyes place them outside Islam. Do they think that is where the Jordanian and Egyptian governments are? Yes.
    Having said that, one group is distinctively Palestinian and the other Lebanese. If they come to real power politically the groups will invevitably develop policies nuanced by “national”, i.e., (watani) interests. pl

  3. zanzibar says:

    I would be careful in attaching triumphalist rhetoric to the recent Hizbullah performance as the Newsweek tone. Note that only a single surface-to-sea missile reached a target. Not sure if more were fired. The point is yes, they have the ability to take advantage of more sophisticated weaponry like a well trained military but they do not yet have the kind of weapons to really cause the IDF major battlefield defeats. Admittedly they have made it very costly for the IDF to gain ground and continue to demonstrate their ability to launch hundreds of rockets despite the IAF tonnage dropped on Lebanese infrastructure. Of course that could change and Iran may supply them with the more lethal Russian and Chinese arms. Not sure how that works.
    On jonst and PLs point about Hamas and Hizbullah being revivalist Islamic forces that would never concede land, there maybe changes to that strict attitude as they gain more political legitimacy and power. Having the responsibility of running a government and delivering services and a better life for their people means compromises. I am sure they would not want to get to the point where they are tarred with the same brush as their political opponents after all the work they have done in building a grassroots political organization and gaining legitimate political support from their people.
    So my sense is that if there are any parties that can compromise and bring along their people in that compromise it would be Hizbullah and Hamas. They have the street cred. It would be smart on the Israelis to consider them real political representatives and work to develop a political settlement.

  4. canuck says:

    I can’t imagine the Las Vegas of the Middle East with women wearing burkas. Is Hassan Nisrallah enough of a moderate Shiite to not insist that not take place? He really is a different kind of Shiite leader even if he does have Iranian support that is vital to stop Israel encroaching on Lebanese territory.

  5. ali says:

    Pat’s reference to Giap is well chosen. It’s in many ways like a people’s war. Subtract reactionary Islam and much of what Nasrallah does could be interpreted as straight out of Mao’s text book: the emphasis on indoctrination and spreading the revolutionary message, the provision of social services and the evolution towards conventional warfare.
    Hezbollah hold many cards:
    A) They are fighting in defense of clan territory.
    B) Against an enemy that they know intimately. And it’s not just a practical knowledge it’s backed by theory; much of their IRGC training is based on Israeli manuals.
    C) They are able to fight as disciplined light infantry or melt into the population and employ terrorist method.
    D) They have the backing of Syria and more importantly an Iran empowered by the fall of Saddam and swaggering with oil wealth.
    E) They’ve been digging in and training for this for the past five years.
    Think of a wired Viet Cong.
    This is not the Palestinian rabble the IDF is accustomed to bulldozing into an early grave. Hezbollah probably don’t field more than 3,000 men but they’ll be damned hard to decisively defeat on the short timescales the IDF now have thanks to their idiotically indiscriminate bombing campaign.
    Sami Moubayed perhaps under-rates their professionalism here:
    “History is repeating itself in strange ways. The war of 1948 was won by Israel precisely because it had all the traits currently possessed by Hezbollah. The Israelis were not a professional army. They were guerrilla warriors well trained in hand-to-hand combat, who were fighting a war for their very existence, just like Hezbollah has been doing. The Stern Gang, Irgun, and Hagana had the leadership of young, charismatic and spirited commanders like Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir. ”
    Sami is right about Aoun being pivotal; Nasrallah has prepared more than tunnel systems and rocketry.
    We’ve not faced anything as modern and capable as this in Iraq or Afghanistan… not yet.

  6. John Howley says:

    I agree, as you suggest, that more attention needs to be paid to the shift in opinion among Lebanese Maronites and Sunnis (and let’s not forget the Druze).
    These folks fought one of the nastiest civil wars on record. If I’m not mistaken it lasted fifteen years — all this within the living memory of most Lebanese.
    Now we have reports of a poll saying that 80 percent of Maronites support Hizbullah. I also heard a report that leaders of the three communities had signed a unity statement in support of Hizbullah.
    Perhaps Anthony Shadid (WaPo) will do more digging here for us as it seems critical.
    It also means the clear failute of Israel’s strategy (made in Washington?) which was to turn non-Shiites against Hizbullah (i.e., re-ignite the civil war).
    Perhaps a few more bombs will get them to see the light…

  7. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Two things
    1-The silkworm strike on the gunboat was accomplished in the context of the IDFN ship having its automatic air defense systems turned off. this was to de-conflict with IAF air operations in the area. One could argue that the HA reasoned that they would waste these missiles in additional strikes since the systems would be back “on.”
    2-As you know war is not just a matter of balances of hardware. Israel is losing the war at the strategic level because it is being made to look impotent. the actual damage inflicted by HA rockets is trivial in all but human terms. pl

  8. b says:

    The Giap transition for a “place at the table” hasalready happened. As Billmon writes looking at the UN resolution mentioning Hizbullah versus Hamas:
    /quote/If you are a designated terrorist organization with advanced weapons, you can participate in the “democratic” process and even be recognized as a legitimate combatant by the UN Security Council. But if you are a designated terrorist organization without advanced weapons, and you try to participate in the “democratic” process, you’ll get thrown in the slammer. No UN Security Council resolutions for you./unquote/

  9. jonst says:

    I agree with PL’s second point. Hizballah is frustrating Israeli will. And some times that is a way to define victory. Once again however,, my eyes are drawn back from the ME, to DC. Was this one more, in a seemingly endless line now, of grotesque intelligence failures? (these failures can also be described as being too ignorant and too arrogant to listen to what intelligence was telling them) Or is this (encouraging Israel in the beginning to keep going down the path it went down) part of grand plan to somehow confront Syria and/or Iran. I mean PL and I, and others, have had this same debate. How is this ‘plan’, and the ‘plan’ in Iraq not purposeful? Who the hell could be so blind, stupid, and arrogant?

  10. Montag says:

    Journalist Robert Fisk also insists that the Israeli gunboats have learned to keep their distance from the shore, presenting more distant targets.

  11. pbrownlee says:

    Have you seen Gideon Levy’s “The Real Estate War”?
    “For years, Israel has waged war against the Palestinians with the main motive of insistence on keeping the occupied territories. If not for the settlement enterprise, Israel would have long since retreated from the occupied territories and the struggle’s engine would have been significant(ly) neutralized.”
    The desire to keep “chosen” settlements in the occupied territories and (equally but less often stressed) the whole of Jerusalem “forever” may actually be the greatest existential threat to Israel.
    It may also mean a largely reservist IDF is as obsolete as ludicrous “separation” walls.
    And a small army of retired Scandinavian politicians is going to be needed to clean up all this.

  12. Do we remember the lessons from the Second Boer War?
    Second Boer War

  13. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Your last question reminds me of what many Frenchmen thought of Petin: that he was playing a deep game; which, of course, he wasn’t.
    Similarly the answer to your question is: affirmative. There is no deep plan here just lurching from one tactical decision to another.

  14. zanzibar says:

    OK. Thanks for enlightening me on the “de-confliction” issue – not that I really know what it means technically but I can make an educated guess. So, what is the point of having the silkworms if they will be “wasted” if ships turn on their air defense systems?
    Your point about impotence in preventing rocket attacks and the resulting problem at a strategic level is well taken.
    As Hizbullah and Hamas grow in political strength don’t you think they become more “political” and less “guerrillas” and will be more amenable to political compromises? My analogy here is the IRA and Sinn Fein.
    And if you have a competent fighting force such as the Hizbullah’s current performance and they gain a qualitative improvement in hardware would that not completely change the military equations in the region? Where I am going with this is that in the next decade or so countries like India, Pakistan, N. Korea and even Iran will have better missiles with guidance. And if AQ Khan could create a nuclear proliferation network out of Pakistan, why not missiles. I have even read the Pakistanis and N. Koreans exchanged nuclear for missile technology.

  15. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Sometimes you can only do what you can do.
    I see no evidence in Palestine or anywhere else that posession of political power makes one less “extreme. pl

  16. Eric says:

    Thought the Keystone was red, Pat.
    Anyhoo, as Mc said above:
    Then let nature take its course.
    The Savage Garden gets very interesting when the primitives have good anti-tank stuff.

  17. blowback says:

    I thought that Hezbollah claimed that they attacked that ship with a drone. It was the Israelis who claimed it was a C-801 (think Exocet) not a Silkworm. William Lind goes with the drone on the basis that the ship of that size hit by a C-801 would have sunk.
    Hezbollah have also flown reconnaissance drones over Israel itself much to the IAF’s consternation. If these were Hezbollah-developed drones then this shows another worrying leap forward in their capability.

  18. Re the cultural question (revealing in the stereotype):
    I can’t imagine the Las Vegas of the Middle East with women wearing burkas.
    Burkas are not worn in Leb Land.
    If you mean women wearing head veils, hidjabs; it’s already a done thing outside of the chic Westernised circles.
    Is Hassan Nisrallah enough of a moderate Shiite to not insist that not take place?
    Moderate here evidently having the meaning, ‘dressing like me.’
    Nasrallah has shown quite some pragmatism in his Lebanese political dealings (e.g. getting cosy with arch-Xian General Michel Aoun), and given a third or so of the population isn’t Shia or Sunni, imposition of mandatory hidjabs is not very likely.

  19. mike says:

    Unlike the IRA, Hizbollah has not been thoroughly penetrated by opposition inteligence. Which makes PL’s point even more salient.

  20. Ghostman says:

    ” I would welcome comments in regard to that polling.”
    My comment is: not good. We’re not talking about a football game here where emotions can run high and then subside. These emotions are based on folks seeing their kids and their neighbors get killed by Israel. That’s the type of deep anger that stays with a man, for a long time. And manifests itself with further acts of violence/revenge…perhaps years down the road.
    Even those unaffected by the war campaign, according to these polls, seem to “root” for the H team. Everybody loves an underdog. And it seems to me that in the eyes of many Lebanese, H has become “The Little Engine That Could”. What if Israel in some fashion “breaks the back” of the militia? UN soldiers are sent in, some sort of peace ensues…and new elections are held. And if we have a repeat of Hamas electoral success? What if Hizbollah wins the national elections in a landslide? What then? As I said at the beginning, not good.

  21. larry birnbaum says:

    No question the Israelis have been surprised by the tenacity and capacity of the Hezbollah militia. What is in question is what they’re going to do about it. One could take the view that the current situation reveals that the policy of the last few years, unilateral withdrawal followed by “benign neglect” on the northern front, was a huge mistake. It let this capability grow right under their noses.
    And it was only going to get stronger. In other words: better to find out now than 2 or 3 years from now.

  22. W. Patrick Lang says:

    A different arch. pl

  23. John says:

    ” I would welcome comments in regard to that polling.”
    Me too. My thought does not qualify as professional historical reflection and I seek input from those better grounded. Nevertheless, I generally recall – put crudely, one third of our colonists were Tories (loyalists to England and George III), one third were for the revolution, and one third were fence sitters. During and after the war hundred thousand (million?) or more left for Canada, England or the crown’s Caribbean holdings. Likely the percent of supporters increased and detractors decreased over the years of the build-up and war itself.
    In Algeria, many locals supported the French colonists. The local Arabs had five feuding, warring factions from which to give alligence to fight the French. The five groups actively killed each other and assassinated the others leaders – while opposing the French. A recount of the relative support commanded by the French and five insurgent groups may be a historically useful yardstick.
    Colonel Lang’s reference to Giap can also lend to an analysis of the level of local support earned or coerced by that political movement and military force. (Also bearing in mind the “successful” South Vietnamese election in September, 1967.)
    Point being – the level of support garned by Hizbullah here appears to be huge in relative historical terms. It’s growing stronger with each airstrike, even in the Christian areas. While we did not have professional poll results in earlier struggles so as to give us a better guidepost for use today; one suspects that Olmert’s policy lost legitimacy in the eyes of the Arab world and most of the world, as it began, and that will likely not change in the near term. A gut-check by crude historical guideposts – way not good.

  24. john in LA says:

    The US and Israel have made it a practice to bomb undefended Arab cities from the air ever since Israel was founded.
    Why is anyone surprised that this treatment has been met with resistance?
    Think about this: IDF is conscripted. The US military is fielding out of shape reservists who have absolutely no reason to be in Iraq.
    The Hizbollah is fighting for its life, on its land. And now they have solid, high tech weaponry.
    And the US and IDF are whining and complaining? Because they were used to using tanks to supress rock throwing children.
    The US and IDF are about to learn what it likes to lose a war, very badly. The neocons racialisting hate mongering almost makes them look weaker.
    In a year the US will be fighting back to back insurgencies from the Shia and the Sunni. And US troops will likely be deployed in Israel to kill Palestinians.
    It’s not going to work…

  25. Mo says:

    In regards to the polls, I would say from all reports that rather than push Lebanon to the brink of civil war, the Israeli tactics have pushed many groups together and made Lebanon (which always has been less a nation and more an agreement of a broad range of sects to sort of get on) a more united nation. The fact that so many refugees, most of whom are Shia, are staying with Sunni and Maronite families is allowing the kind of trans-secterian discourse never possible on the political arena as the leaders jousted and postured. By the sounds of things, the real losers will be the likes of Jumblatt who started very Pro-Western and has doggedly remained so while the rest of the politicians behind the very anti-Syrian “Cedar revolution” have been slowly realising that they have lost all the momentum and that momentum has swung firmly back in an easterly direction.
    Although reports from the SF Chronicle and the New Statesman make it clear the soldiers abduction was the excuse and not the reason for this war and that the UK and US administrations knew well in advance of the plan, I have my suspicions that the Lebanese PM and his allies may have also been aware of the plan. THe biggest danger in regards to civil strife in Lebanon would be if this was to become a popular beleif in the country.
    However, with all that, I doubt this popularity will translate to a much bigger Hizbollah vote at the polls. At best, they will become a core member of a broad alliance that wins the next election. That in itself would probably serve to neuter their military activity far more than any Israeli military activity.

  26. canuck says:

    The Lounsbury,
    Often cultural mores have deeper significance. To me the wearing of burqas and/or other prescribed clothing is representative of suppression of women. How women are treated mirrors equality, freedom of movement, educational opportunities, career choices, participation and women’s legal rights. In male dominated societies, typically the woman doesn’t have equivalence.
    When I was a teen and began working, senior positions in corporations were almost exclusively male. It wouldn’t have mattered how much education or intelligence I had, the door was closed to advancement. Women earned less money for doing the same job. Changes have been made in corporate structures and monetary rewards, but improvement is still needed. Dress codes did exist in the 1950’s—women wore dresses or skirts. University educations for women at that time were regarded as the road to better marriage prospects.
    The Lebanese Women: Reality and Aspirations (English) From what I’m reading dated 2000, it sounds similar to my experience in the 1950’s. I’m surprised by the few number of women in the teaching profession. Nurturing professions, such as teaching, nursing, and social work had many women but not particularly in senior capacities.
    If Hassan Nasrallah becomes more dominate in Lebanon would he further a more egalitarian society or turn the clock back?

  27. Jonathan House MD says:

    Dear Pat Lang,
    I send this to the comment section as I don’t have your email (is it listed on the site?)
    Yesterday Juan Cole posted an analysis (link below) on his blog in which he presented a speculative theory about a rational strategy underlying the Israeli attack on Lebanon. I wonder if you think it worthy of comment on your blog.

  28. blowback says:

    Nasrallah said a while back that he intended that Hezbollah obtain the release of the remaining Lebanese prisoners in Israeli hand by capturing some Israeli “bargaining chips” to trade. Hezbollah made a failed attempt to capture some Israeli soldiers for this purpose at the tail end of last year. From the descriptions I have seen of their capture, the operation was launched when the local commander saw an opportunity and took it, so I strongly suspect that even Nasrallah did not know about it until after it happened. So the Lebanese PM would have known of Hezbollah’s policy but would probably have not known it was about to happen.

  29. John Howley says:

    IDF reservists report inadequate training and equipment.
    “Reserve soldiers are returning from fighting in south Lebanon with harsh criticisms of their operational preparedness and the combat equipment with which they had been supplied.”

  30. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Dr. House
    There is a button on the site for e-mailing me. I am thinking of taking it off because of some of the more imaginative messages I receive concerning my ancestry, sexual inclinations, etc.
    I will not comment on Dr. Cole’s remarks, but am sure they are worth reading. pl

  31. Mo says:

    I haven’t got much to base an answer to your question on, except to say that within the huge HA social services organisation, women are represented at just about every level.
    Apologies, my writing style probably led to a misunderstanding. I actually meant that I have suspicions of Seniora having knowledge of the attack on HA. I have nothing to base that on just a gut feeling. But interestingly, in relation to what you say, although much of what I have read in relation to the event mirrors what you say, Nasrallah did hint in his second speech after the war started that the Lebanese govt. knew, but I guess that could mean they knew of the intention

  32. McGee says:

    Rami Khouri’s article in Saturday’s Beirut Daily Star is well worth a read. Khouri is as well-informed about both ME and US policy as any journalist in the region.
    One day in the life of Bush-Blair democratization
    By Rami G. Khouri
    Daily Star staff
    Saturday, August 05, 2006
    As I listened carefully to US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair during the past week, Israeli bombs were dropping all around us near Beirut and other parts of Lebanon. I was becoming slightly concerned that their enthusiastic plans for my freedom and democracy in the Middle East were becoming incongruously riddled with wars, private militias, terror plagues, and crumbling societies. Then when I learned that the American secretaries of state and defense had agreed to help train Lebanon’s army – I really got worried.
    Entire piece is linked here:
    Rami Khouri Editorial

  33. larry birnbaum says:

    Pat, I’m curious what your take is on the reports today that Israel might be deliberately leaving some rockets in Hezbollah’s hands so that there are civilian casualties on their side as well. Thanks.

  34. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Larry B.
    I know things like that happen, but am inclined to think that Olmert like GWB is a sincere and bloody minded dweeb who would not play games with Israeli blood. pl

  35. b says:

    Larry birnbaum refers to a Kurtz interview on CNN with Thomas Ricks of “Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq.”
    KURTZ: … Tom Ricks, you’ve covered a number of military conflicts, including Iraq, as I just mentioned. Is civilian casualties increasingly going to be a major media issue? In conflicts where you don’t have two standing armies shooting at each other?
    THOMAS RICKS, REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: I think it will be. But I think civilian casualties are also part of the battlefield play for both sides here. One of the things that is going on, according to some U.S. military analysts, is that Israel purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they’re being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.
    KURTZ: Hold on, you’re suggesting that Israel has deliberately allowed Hezbollah to retain some of it’s fire power, essentially for PR purposes, because having Israeli civilians killed helps them in the public relations war here?
    RICKS: Yes, that’s what military analysts have told me.
    KURTZ: That’s an extraordinary testament to the notion that having people on your own side killed actually works to your benefit in that nobody wants to see your own citizens killed but it works to your benefit in terms of the battle of perceptions here.
    RICKS: Exactly. It helps you with the moral high ground problem, because you know your operations in Lebanon are going to be killing civilians as well.
    Makes sense to me …

  36. Michael Siger says:

    Dear Pat,
    What can Bush, Rice et.al be thinking? These resolutions are a blatant cover for more Israeli attacks. Though I along with many, believed early on, that Israel could not be safe with Hizbullah right over the Blue Line, now it is clear Israel cannot be safe, period. Our bungling resolution and Hizbullah’s resistence have become the first things that have awoken some tenuous sense of aggressive untiy among Arab states.Bush is trying to sell the past to Arabs who are grasping for a different future.
    The US and Israelis have created their worst nightmare–a shaken IDF– confident Arab fighters and Arab governments putting their pettiness aside for a moment in unity.
    Bush/Rice foreign policy everywhere is now rudderless, reactive and incoherent. Michael Singer

  37. Montag says:

    larry birnbaum,
    Your comment about it being better to grasp the nettle now than 2-3 years from now is exactly what Israeli PM Olmert said when he learned that a dozen Israeli soldiers had been killed in a lucky shot by a rocket. I must say that Olmert’s self-righteous dismissal of the casualties had a distinct whiff of “let them eat cake” about it. I wonder how many Israelis noticed that too.

  38. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Ricks is a great reporter but I don’t think an IDF commander would by-pass and leave rockets in enemy hands. pl

  39. confusedponderer says:

    I find it eerie to make the comparison to Vietnam. In the Vietnamese the D.C. braniancs were utterly convinced to be actually fighting China — and in fighting Hezbollah they are absolutely convinced to in fact fight Iran … don’t they ever learn anything?
    Sounds plausible, because it has the irresistible appeal of a theory confirming existing convictions.

  40. zanzibar says:

    I see no evidence in Palestine or anywhere else that posession of political power makes one less “extreme. pl
    Thanks. It throws my “theory” – hope – out the window.

  41. Mo says:

    Michael Siger:
    “Bush is trying to sell the past to Arabs who are grasping for a different future.”
    I gotta say, that is so well put and succint. Honestly, one of the best lines re. Bush’s ME policy I have ever read. Hope you dont mind if quote it ad nauseum!
    I see no evidence in Palestine or anywhere else that posession of political power makes one less “extreme. pl
    I can’t say I agree. One of the first things Hamas said on coming to power was lets talk 1967 borders and we can talk a permanent truce. Now if you read between the lines, a permament truce is as close as ur going to get Hamas to recognise the state of Israel without it commiting political suicide. If only Israel and the West had grasped that nettle instead of turning on the Palestinians for excercising their right to democracy.

  42. pbrownlee says:

    Will this be the recruiting boost the Lebanese DF needs — folding Hizbullah into the govt forces — or maybe vice versa?
    “Cabinet will send army to South – if invaders leave
    “BEIRUT: Defense Minister Elias Murr said Monday night after a Cabinet session that the government would deploy 15,000 troops along the UN-demarcated Blue Line as soon as Israeli forces withdrew. The Cabinet made the decision in a unanimous vote, Murr told reporters. Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said the government reserved the right to ask UNIFIL for help in deploying army forces in the South.
    “Political sources said the government hoped the move, long demanded by the international community, would pave the way for amendments to a draft UN Security Council resolution aimed at ending the 27-day-old Israeli offensive on Lebanon.
    “The army also called up reservists on Monday, according to security and political sources, which would likely replace any troops sent to the South.”
    Initial comments from the usually snarling Israeli govt talking heads seem very positive (a way out???) — with hardly any mentions of Iran and Syria!

  43. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “In Islamic legal theory, normal relations between the d§r al-Isl§m [q.v.] and the d§r al-Èarb [q.v.] were not peaceful, and there existed a state of latent or open hostilities which jurists nowadays call a state of war. Short intervals of peace were, however, permitted by divine legislation (|ur”§n VIII, 63; IX, 1 and others) and the Muslims could establish peaceful relationships with non-Muslims, individually and collectively, if such a peace was not inconsistent with the interests of the Muslims.” Encyclopedia of Islam
    Note the short term (renewable) A truce (hudna) cannot be “permanent” between the Muslims and the Kuffar.
    As to power and moderation, were Stalin, Hitler, Franco, or Mao, moderates? pl

  44. Mo says:

    I admit to limited knowledge of Islamic legal theory, Islamic doctrince and modern day politics but from my study of Islam and the Koran, if the above passage refers to Muslims and the Kuffar then it would, under strict Islamic doctrine not be pertinent here as Jews (as well as Christians) are not according to the Koran kuffars:
    “those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians [49] -all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds-shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve. ” Al-Baqara (The Cow)2:62
    Although, I do appreciate that there are many, such as Al-Qaida who see even Sunnis that dont practice Wahabism as Kuffars, the vast majority of Muslims do not regard Christians and Jews as Kuffars.
    A second point is that a truce or “hudna” is temporary yes. But this is the Middle East we’re talking about, and temporary in the ME can be a REAL long time. Imagine if the Hamas offer had been taken, the Palestinians were given a viable and sustainable state, the truce may have just lasted long enough to have allowed the 2 sides to get over their respective grievances. So while the truce may not have been permamnent, the peace may have been.
    But saying that, the pre-67 offer was made by all the Arabs in Beirut some years ago and it was rejected out of hand. Therefore the only conclusion is that Israel will never give up all the West Bank and therefore the only peace they will ever have is an imposed peace.
    As to power and moderation, true those, like many are no moderates but they are also example of absolute power, not something Hamas has or is likely to get.
    Something Ive been advocating for a long time. Wy not make HA the equivalent of the British SAS in the Lebaese Army, which would therefore have a very limited chain of command above it and allow to continue as it is. And then, just for fun, post them to patrol the southern border.
    Seriously though, as soon as I heard this, my initial reaction was a deals been struck.

  45. pbrownlee says:

    This might pep up the conflict (those SAM-equipped guerrilla armies can be quite annoying):
    “Iran answers Hizbullah call for SAM systems
    “Iran is to supply the Islamic Resistance – the armed wing of the Lebanese Shi’ite Party of God (Hizbullah) – with a quantity of surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems over the coming months, Western diplomatic sources have confirmed to Jane’s.
    “According to the sources, Tehran will supply Hizbullah with Russian-produced SAMs, including the Strela-2/2M (SA-7 ‘Grail’), Strela-3 (SA-14 ‘Gremlin’) and Igla-1E (SA-16 ‘Gimlet’) man-portable SAM systems.
    “Iran is also understood to have agreed to deliver its own version of the Chinese QW-1 man-portable low- to very-low-altitude SAM system – the Mithaq-1- developed by the Iranian Defence Ministry’s Shahid Kazemi Industrial Complex in Tehran.
    “Iran launched a mass production line for an advanced variant, the Mithaq-2 – believed to be a short-range passive infra-red SAM – on 6 February. Both variants, believed to be based on Chinese technology, are understood to have been made available for Hizbullah.
    “However, Jane’s understands that Hizbullah already has Iranian-supplied Strela 2s in its inventory.
    “Israel Air Force sources say that their platforms, most notably helicopters, have encountered Strela-2 fire throughout the current conflict. Senior Israel Defence Force sources told Jane’s that they believe that Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps personnel, in support of Hizbullah, were involved in these launches.”
    Also, I know these stories crop up quite often but does anyone know what this might be? And who makes it?
    “Some victims’ progressive lesions mystify doctors
    “BEIRUT: “Feels like something is eating me alive,” says Latifa, as she exposes her punctured thigh, marked with greenish-black spots that in places expose the bone underneath…
    “From a distance, the lesions look almost like cigarette burns, but upon closer inspection one can see that the sores penetrate deep into the skin.
    “It is an injury by an explosion of what appears to be a non-conventional weapon that aims to make burns on the skin with maximum level of penetration,’ says Dr. Raffi Panjarian, an orthopedic surgeon who has been treating Latifa and conducting research into the case.
    “Panjarian describes the spots as necrotic lesions spread all over Latifa’s body, like ‘shrapnel wounds’ but with the difference that where ‘the substance’ hit, the tissue is dying.”

  46. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Salah-al Din al-Ayyubi made hudna with his friend Baldwin IV.
    You are what people like me look for, a thinking, rational interlocutor. pl

  47. sunbin says:

    Guerilla is, by definition, people’s war.
    That is why the ‘guerillas’ of Da Lai and Bay of Pig successors failed. Because they were not really guerillas. they were not able to ‘swim into’ the people.
    Vo’s guerilla tranformation assume an ultimate (constructive) objective of assuming power. This is not neccessarily the aim for all the guerillas in question. some have only destructive objectives.
    the transformation of hezbollah (and perhaps hamas as well), is perhaps prompted by its given the opportunity to participate in the respective governments.

  48. Mo says:

    A hudna ruined by those looking to profit from the situation. How true is that of so many conflicts in history?
    Thinking, rational debate, in my opinion is the only way the common man can defend his thoughts from being infiltrated by those who wish to manipulate his beliefs into theirs. The various comments and commentators on this site are an oasis of free thought which seems very rare on a world wide web populated by those, on both sides, preaching hate without understanding, victory with disregard for human life. I very much thank you for this forum.

  49. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Salah-al Din al-Ayyubi was a Kurd.

  50. searp says:

    (1) Why wouldn’t Hezbollah fighters be sheep-dipped and sent south as part of the Lebanese deployment? Seems to me that may be a condition of the deal.
    (2) Doesn’t Hezbollah own the Lebanese public at this point? OK, they are a sectarian group, but the polling suggests a coherence around resistance to the Israelis, and that can only mean support for Hezbollah
    (3) Isn’t it quite likely that any Lebanese government would prefer, going forward, to deal with Iran versus Israel and the US? How can a bomb-and-make-supportive-statements
    policy possibly be seen as anything other than insane by the Lebanese public?

  51. W. Patrick Lang says:

    As you know he probably thought of himself as a Muslim rather than a Kurd. pl

  52. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    Yes, he thought of himself as primarily a Muslim.
    But, the history of Levant and Egypt indicates that the Sunni Arab dyansties were not successful fighters; those who defeated Mongols were Mamluk Turks (out of Egypt).
    Moreover, the Arab people were rules by the Ottoman Turks for centuries and it is not clear to me that the Arab Revolt would have been successful if the Ottoman Empire were not dying at that time.
    Jsut as you said: The South has more of a martial tradition than the North; likewise for a variety of people in ME.

  53. Montag says:

    I’ve been thinking about how the current Israeli tactics in Lebanon are similar to the Medieval “chevauchee” or promenade–Wikipedia has a brief entry that describes it. The idea was to invade your enemy’s land and ravage it so as to degrade his ability to fight you–and then retreat back to your own land, leaving ruin and destruction behind you. The Crusaders tended to do this as their lands were retreating to the sea for the last time.
    But sometimes you got the bear, and sometimes the bear got you. In 1266 a chevauchee towards Tiberias under King Hugh III of Cyprus, bailli of Jerusalem, ended in disaster when its vanguard of Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights was ambushed at Caroublier by the Moslem garrison of Safed. I guess the Israelis know the feeling.

  54. Mo says:

    (1)Yes, although “sent” would more likely be “kept”
    (2)Yes, the question is how Hizbollah uses this popularity after the fighting recedes and their popularity recedes (theres no body politic as fickle as the Lebanese). The alliances they have been forging esp. with the Christian community does herald hope that the Israeli attack may have closed many rifts in the secterian divide in the country.
    (3)Depends who forms the next govt. and I assume there will be fresh elections not long after the hostilities cease. I doubt any govt. would go down a specific versus Israel line because of the simple fact that the Lebanese will not want a return to the days where Lebanon is the battleground for a regional conflict. Im not saying that most of the Lebanese aren’t anti-Israeli but I would think it gets wearisome to be the only country actually fighting the Israelis, esp. when you’re the smallest country in the region.

  55. canuck says:

    Babek said, “There is no deep plan here just lurching from one tactical decision to another.”

    What does everyone make of this? Israel names new commander.
    From the link, “The change of command was decided by army chief General Dan Halutz, who assumed his post last year.
    I posted this in another thread, and said, “Halutz is the reason Israel is in its current mess”. His reliance on air power and deploying only 10,000 ground forces won’t defeat Hizbullah. Olmert is in way over his head.

  56. A bit late, but re this simplistic comment:Often cultural mores have deeper significance.
    And often ignorant outsiders overread based on apriori assumptions themselves based on thin stereotypes.
    To me the wearing of burqas and/or other prescribed clothing is representative of suppression of women.
    Western society prescribes clothing as well. One can not walk around bare breasted in public in most public places.
    There is a vast difference between a “burqa” (properly speaking) and merely wearing a hidjab.
    How women are treated mirrors equality, freedom of movement, educational opportunities, career choices, participation and women’s legal rights.
    And wearing a hidjab has nothing the bloody hell to do with treatment of women etc. etc. etc.
    I work with plenty of professional women in the region, in finance. Many wear the hidjab. There aren’t any rules to such, indeed in the finance community the social pressure is to ostentatiously show you’re liberal (in the European, not North American sense) and the like.
    Shallow, stupid and in the end not indicative of real liberal values.
    In male dominated societies, typically the woman doesn’t have equivalence.
    And typically commentators like you draw conclusions based on the most superficial knowledge and as a general matter, based on personal prejudice and expectation rather on objective standards.
    Imposition by law of hidjab is one thing. Women choosing to wear it out of a belief in its religious significance is another. Nor, I will add, have I observed in my decade working in region, a correlation between women’s forcefulness in the workplace and wearing, or not, the hidjab.
    It’s a superficiality that obsesses Westerners, in real ignorance.

  57. canuck says:

    Sorry I asked any questions or made any statements. You obviously took offence when none was meant. You could have answered in a more polite manner.

  58. Gman says:

    I am a Lebanese christian and I will let you in on a little secret.
    True most non-shia Lebanese are not happy with what Israel has done to Lebanon and now feel they must support HA in its demands. But once this crisis is over, most Christians Druze and Sunni will want and most likely demand an accounting from HA for starting this mess and leaving Lebanon in a destroyed state. This will happen (regardless what you hear from popular Christian leaders in Lebanon), there are two possible outcomes from this.
    One solution allows HA a gradual save your face solution, a disarming of HA (maybe even having HA elite units join the army) and moving HA to a fully functional political party, This looks like the solution most are leaning towards, to accomplish this, all Lebanese must appear to support HA on their fundamental demands from Israel (leave all Lebanese territory, release so called POW, and resolve the shibaa farms status). The other possible option is the unwanted dreaded divorce, many Christians and Druze now believe that a confederation would be the best solution for Lebanon if they cannot contain HA (mind you I am not with or against this reality). This divorce could be cordial or at an extreme a Civil war (although Christians and Druze will bide their time until they have rearmed since most heavy weapons were removed by Syria during the Syrian control of Lebanon under their the Taif accord).

  59. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I would imagine that your first scenario is more likely than the second.
    You realize, I am sure, that this scenario will result in a HA takeover of the Lebanese Army. pl

  60. Mo says:

    Gman, do you really believe HA started this? Reports in the US and UK state that this has been planned since 2005. If that is true, this would have happened no matter what.
    I agree with the Col. Lang, the second scenario is far too messy and would probably leave Christian and Druze areas with far too little real estate. I dont necesarily agree with the HA takoever of the army. I would more likely envisage a scenario where they become a kind of special forces unit with considerable independence from all but the highest points of the command structure. I dont think they would actually want to control the army to be honest. Its probably too institutionalised for their liking!

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