Last Autumn I forecast that the successful linear defense of position conducted by Hizbullah (HB) forces in southern Lebanon would lead to a determination on the part of the Shia group to renew the contest with Israel using similar tactics at some future time. (See the transcript or video of my 11 September, 2006 talk at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.)
In the month long war fought between the Israelis and the Shia irregulars, it was clear that HB had successfully stood on the defensive in heavily fortified and inter-connected defensive positions and shelters that made up a defensive "belt" across much of the high ground just north of the armistice line between the two countries. It has been incorrectly reported in the Wikipedia article on me that I consider the guerrillas to have defended in "isolated" positions. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The system of defenses were well sited for mutual support and cleverly integrated into the natural terrain and in the built up areas of the mountain villages where the roads ran through the villages. Maximum use was made of Iranian produced and improved versions of old Soviet anti-tank and anti-ship weapons.
This London Times article demonstrates that HB is following a dual approach to its situation in Lebanon:
1- It is using all available pressure to seek a greater share of political power in the Lebanese government. It believes that the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel are working together against HB. In that context it expects to be attacked again in south Lebanon by Israeli forces when the four powers listed above reach the conclusion that HB political power will increase in spite of their best efforts. The four powers correctly reason that Iran’s influence in the Middle East will grow as HB power grows and the four powers are determined to prevent that.
2- In preparation for the renewal of last Summer’s war, HB is building a new line on the high ground just north of the Litani River and OUTSIDE the operating zone of the UNIFIL separation force in place between there and the Israeli border. From those positions it would still be possible to fire with artillery rockets into northern or perhaps central Israel. I estimate that the new line will be even stronger than the old one, will have deeper, and more hardened shelters and will have a considerable anti-air capability in addition to what was encountered by the IDF last year. pl