The Tabouleh Line – 3

300pxmonte_cassino To the left we have the town of Cassino, south of Rome.  This is "where" the war in south Lebanon is headed.  Pat Lang

"Hizbullah’s older anti-tank weapons have been effective against armoured personnel carriers and buildings used by soldiers for shelters. Its newer weapons such as the Russian Kornet and US TOW missiles have been highly effective succeeded in piercing the armour of Israel’s main battle tank, the Merkava, reputedly one of the best-defended tanks in the world.

One member of an Israeli tank crew who had just left Lebanon told the Guardian: "It’s terrible. You do not fight anti-tank teams with tanks. You use infantry supported by artillery and helicopters. Wide valleys without shelter are the wrong place to use tanks."

Although he said Hizbullah’s weapons had been supplied by Iran, Lt Col Rafowicz admitted the militants’ prowess also stemmed from its morale and organisation. They are very keen to engage our forces. They are not wearing suicide bomb belts but they are not afraid to die, which makes deterrence very difficult."

Gen Nehushtan said: "We have to recognise that we will be dealing with new definitions of victory. There will be no white flags being raised on this battlefield," he said." Guardian


That is quite a tribute from General Nehushtan.  The British parliament attempted to censure Churchill when he said something similar about the German 1st Airborne Division during the battle for Monte Cassino.

No suicide belts.  That means that they are just going to "slug" it out with the IDF.

I am still puzzled by the assertions being made in some quarters that Hassan Nasrallah is going to accept a UN "deal" that implies that he lost the war.

Perhaps I am missing something.

Pat Lang,,1842276,00.html

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66 Responses to The Tabouleh Line – 3

  1. Abu Sinan says:

    No need to wear suicide belts when you are hitting them hard enough as it is. I have no doubt Hizb’Allah will use those tactics again, if needs be.
    If Hizb’Allah is just using reserve units now, as is being claimed, I think the Israelis have some more surprises in store.
    BTW, have you heard the claims by some on the far right, including those at “Little Green Fingers” and “Black Five” that some Shi’ite/Iranian major act of violence is planned for August 22nd to supposedly usher in the “Hidden Imam”?
    Kind of nutty, but it seems even the vetern orientalist Bernard Lewis has bought into it.

  2. John in LA says:

    Given that HA is an insurgent militia from a poverty-stricken, mountainous agricultural district of a developing Arab country and that the IDF is the national army of an Urban, “European” wealthy country, there must be different standards for HA and IDF “success”.
    No question HA is winning this one and likely will be seen to win, even if/when IDF gains a cordon sanitaire and a French force to cover their retreat.
    I should think that the French force will be kept on a very tight leash by the HA and that the French force will remember that it was HA that blew up their force the last time that they came into Lebanon in Force in the 80s — and for the same reason; to cover the IDF retreat.
    Given that the objective of HA was to leverage their conflict with the IDF into regionwide leadership of the Arab Shia, I’d say they have already succeeded.
    Given that the IDF objective was lots of tough talk about “destroying” HA and their “terrorist infrastructure” — I’d say that the IDF was a total loser thus far.
    Both the IDF and the US have for some years predicated their political/military efforts in the region on “handling” the Arabs. And the only concern was how bad to beat them — how many civilian casualties to be broadcast on TV and etc.
    In Iraq and Lebanon we’ve seen both armies throw billions into pompous, vainglorious, arrogant and punitive campaigns — only to fail in their primary objectives.
    Col. Lang — given that the vaunted Sea-Land-Air etc. efforts of these industrial armies have only created the prospects for an endless, grinding conflict, what other military options do they have?
    Or do they now have to request terms from opponents that they have traditionally insulted, vilified and condemned?

  3. Mo says:

    From what I am hearing, the only thing HA are compelled to do in this “deal” is move back behind the Litani. One wonders how you monitor a guerilla groups deployment especially when so many doing the fighting live south of the Litani.
    The Lebanese army is no constraint and the “beefed up” UNIFIL force is supposed to, for the first time, act as constraint against Israel as well as HA. Therefore no more fly overs, no drones and therefore even less ability for Israel to monitor what HA is up to. Plus, if Israel comes across the border again, it is supposedly the French who have to stop them.
    From a populist view, Nasrallah knows what kind of reputation HA now have and nothing short of disarmement will be enough to make the Arab street feel like HA has been defeated.
    However above all this, if he is seen to be too inflexible to a “reasonable” offer,the Lebanese support may start ebbing away, as suffering is starting to really kick in, even in areas like central Beirut, and the humanitarian situation is deteriorating faster than most people expected.

  4. Piotr Chmielarz says:

    In my opinion if the US Army will have to fight against Hezbollah so they have a 100% for failure. How probably the best army in the world can get victory on Hezbollah if they can’t win with iraqis resistance or Taliban forces. In there was ranking of succesful guerilla war so there it can be
    1) Hezbollah, they are now the most sophisticate guerilla army. They are practically now relying on their own strenght. They can’t get supplies by ground way because USA are ruling now Iraq don’t tell me about “iraqis goverment” because we know very well that this is proxy goverment the same as Petain goverment in occupied France. I can bet that if there aren’t US army so officials of this goverment will be hanged after one day. The sea way is too dangerous because iranian ships can be stopped in Persian Gulf.
    2) Vietnamese against french and USA
    3)Iraqis resistance against coalition forces. In my opinion they are like hezbollah in first days of activity of this movement during israelis occupation of south lebanon
    4) reistance during seocnd war against germany.

  5. Pan says:

    Tanks wouldn’t be such sitting ducks if they were accompanied by dismounted infantry in a classic combined arms deployment. Am I missing something? Are the Israelis practicing combined arms 101? Are they keeping the infantry buttoned up in their AFVs and using the Pumas and Merkavas as armored taxis and ambulances? If so, they deserve to be whacked.

  6. canuck says:

    Wishful thinking on Olmert’s part:
    Dissension within his own government
    I don’t believe Nasrallah will accept Israel’s terms. Probably after the ‘final’ ceasefire is agreed upon, Olmert, Perez, Halutz and others will be looking for new jobs.

  7. zanzibar says:

    To the left we have the town of Cassino, south of Rome. This is “where” the war in south Lebanon is headed. Pat Lang
    That looks real bad! What a horrible outcome with possible multi-generational hatreds.
    I am still puzzled by the assertions being made in some quarters that Hassan Nasrallah is going to accept a UN “deal” that implies that he lost the war. – PL
    I posed a related question to the “proposed” UN resolution that seems to have been rejected by Lebanon. If the HA have been able to hold back the IDF so far, why would they want to agree to pullback to north of the Litani and have disclosed all their bunkers and fortifications? Israel is not pulling back to 13 miles south of their border. Why would they agree to an arms embargo on them when there is no similar embargo on Israel in the cease-fire resolution? Why would they agree to a UN force that would be authorized to fire on them but not the IDF or IAF?
    I can understand these terms if the HA have been defeated and have no choice but that is not the case right now. Why the charade at the UN then? I am confused with the US and Israeli positions. They don’t seem to have consensus within their own team of what “reality” is and what tactics and strategy they should deploy.

  8. Patrick Henry says:

    What ever “DEALS” are made or agreements reached..and I think they will have to be reached eventually..One has to suspect there is a “Motive” behind them..and one should always remember that the Hard Core JiHadist..Zealots and Iran still have a “PLAN”..
    The message is Loud and Clear from Iran..
    i would question every decision…every deal made and use all intel Resources to gather information and keep watch on Iran and Syria and see who is making alliances with who…and how much weapons material is still being supplied..
    Are the Vietnamise ..North Koreans..Chinese or Russians playing a role with assistance to various factions..?? Since you seem impressed with HB Fortifications and Organization..?
    Hasn’t anyone been keeping an eye on what HB has been doing in Lebanon these last 15 years..??
    it seems even the Israeli’s are suprised..

  9. Serf in USA says:

    I believe a lot of us are puzzled by the thinking that Nasrallah will accept what amount to surrender terms. I can only surmise that it stems from the inate self delusions that Israelis, The US neocon cabal, and their presstitutes have. An aura of unreality and wishful thinking that is clearly visable in the editorials and letters to the editors at Ha’aretz. None so blind as he who will not see, illustrated.

  10. Piotr Chmielarz says:

    Can you explain what does it mean Tabouleh line is this similar to Maginot Line? I begin translation your comment on polish language but I don’t know if this is in english. I don’t know maybe I will publish your comment with translation of this article which you mention

  11. Mo says:

    Or maybe he just knew the Israelis were going to reject it like it sounds they have just done

  12. Mo says:

    Patrick Henry,
    I suggest you read around the comments here a bit more if you are still under the assumption that Hizbollah are zealots and jihadists.

  13. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “Tabouleh Line” is a little joke. You are right in thinking that this means a defensive line, but in this case the “line” is a fortified belt of villages, etc. We do not yet know the depth from north to south of this belt.
    “Tabouleh” is a salad made of chopped parsley which is much loved in the Lebanon. Pat

  14. Abu Sinan says:

    If it is the “Tabouleh Line” on the border, maybe we could call the Lebanese Army, the Babaganoush Army.
    Anyone who thinks that placing 15,000 of these guys on the border will make a difference needs to rethink this idea.
    Although they are headed by a Maronite Christian, the Shi’ite influence in it is major.
    If Hizb’Allah wanted to they could tear through the Lebanese forces like a hot knife through butter.
    PL, I am interested in what Arabic news sources you rely on? I read many of them, but just for reference, the vast majority of them are just too influenced by their state backers, ie Asharq al Awsat and al Arabiya.
    Al Jazeera I find to be a good source, and I used to watch al Manar until it was banned here in the USA. Although al Manar is certainly biased, I have found their reporting of the war, so far, to be more informed and less biased than many if not most Western sources, as opposed to the Israel propaganda that seems to have gone wild.
    How many times did the IDF claim to hold and control bint j’beil only to come back later and change it, or the Hizb fighter they said planned and participated in the capture of the Israeli soldier who clearly had no role in the event.

  15. Pvt. Keepout says:

    Now how in the hell did Iran get US made TOW missiles? Oh, never mind:
    “In summer 1985, [8] Michael Ledeen, a consultant of Robert McFarlane, asked Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres for help in the sale of arms to Iran. The Israel government required that the sale of arms meet the approval of the United States government, and when it was convinced that the U.S. government approved the sale by Robert McFarlane, Israel obliged by agreeing to sell the arms. [9] In July 1985, Israel sent American-made BGM-71 TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided) anti-tank missiles to Iran for the release of Reverend Benjamin Weir…”
    Well, no one could’ve predicted that weapons the US urged Israel to sell to Iran would then be given to Hizballah and later used to kill Israeli soldiers.
    So, everyone’s on board, if you will, for Total Dick Cheney’s TPAjax 2, right?

  16. Patrick Henry says:

    Mo..I understanand that HB has stated that they aren’t necissarily against “Americans’ or “Jews”..they are “Anti Zionists” and against any Nation that supports the “Zionist ”
    Tell that to the Marines who died in Beruit..Civilians on Hijacketed Airplanes…and the civilian population in Isreal who have died at the Hands of the HB and PLO..
    No matter the Faction..It all looks like “Ji Had” to me.. RELIGIOUS~WAR..and Religious Hatred..

  17. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Abu Sinan
    Which of the three famous Sinans are you thinking of or is that actually your son’s name?
    I read the Arab press and watch the news on TV as well as French news which find I particularly good.
    I don’t place much credence in the Arab media for the reasons you mention. My long and “checkered” existence in the ME produced a wide variety of friends many of whom are now retired from government service. I rely on them. pl

  18. jonst says:

    Patrick Henry,
    Just out of curiosity what do you think the HA thought they doing when bombed the Marines barracks? Does the battleship Iowa ring a bell to you?

  19. zanzibar says:

    Pvt. Keepout
    Irony! The neo-cons have played the rhetoric of “freedom” and “democracy” for so long while subverting our laws. Now the Cheney crowd have taken it to a new level of absurdness.

  20. Mike Ghirelli says:

    UN resoloution will require Hezbollah to disarm. The Good Friday agreement near ten years ago proposed the disarmament of the IRA. It hasn’t happened yet. How long to disarm Hezbollah?

  21. Pat, What wre the chances that the Israelis are playing ‘possum here? That is, they are giving the impression that they are losing so that the UN will try to mediate a cease-fire. Knowing that Hizbullah is feeling overly confident, perhaps the Israelis are counting on the notion that Hizbullah will break the ceasefire. Once this occurs, the Israelis can then take off the kid gloves and really begin their offensive.
    My reasons for bringing this (remote) possibility into play is that I believe, along with several others (including Steve Clemons, Luttwak, and Alexandrovna), that the Israeli invasion was planned as a way to get the US to invade Syria/Iran. If this hypothetical were true, then Israel perhaps has every intention to make it look as though it is pressing forward to the Litani and beyond as a defensive strategy.
    Escalating the war in this way would perhaps make it very difficult for Iran/Syria to sit it out on the sidelines.
    Many hypotheticals here, I admit. The major assumption is that this war was started not as a response to Hizbullah capture of Israeli soldiers but an attempt to get the US more involved vis a via the alleged puppet-masters Syria/Iran.

  22. Old Yankee says:

    Thank you for the informative page. I’m glad Juan Cole’s link led me to it. I wondered if I was alone in watching a possible entrapment and an impendeng battle.
    Israel’s unwillingness to take large numbers of casualties is a weakness shared by every army in the West. Negate airpower by hardening, dispersing, hiding and moving. HA then lets Westernized infantry defeats, by requiring more protection than the prom queen. We just don’t want to die for this stuff any more. I’ve been a grunt and I have a son in the Navy. I value him, more than I value any oil supply, foreign alliance or national loyalty.
    The day of military attacks with infantry support are ending or ended.
    I believe the word “infantry” is from the Greek word for an infant, because the youngest boys, The Babies, serving in the armies would hurl rocks to taunt opposing spearmen. Once again they have become babies. We see their baby faces on television. We meet the cuddly pet at their grave in Newsweek. We see their shattered bodies and know about IED brain damage. This is terror to America, where smart is required for success. Better a leg than a quarter of his brain. We identify. We anguish. We lose our nerve. They win.
    Could any American or Israeli general say, “I will lose at least 1000 men in an attack today.” and have his plan approved publicly? How do you plan for Iwo jima today?
    I do not know if HA is planning a war of attrition or is setting up a trap for a battle against a line of mechanized forces. But, something’s up. When Nasrallah spoke the other day, he seemed to be saying (not only don’t I speak a word of Arabic, the gibberish at the bottom of the screen rarely makes sense to me) But, I got the impression he was confidently taunting an inexperienced government. I got a real, “Come on in and I’ll kick your ass back out.” feeling. This man came out of nowhere into my world, but I started listening to him right away. In this long joining of forces, he has not told an extreme lie yet concerning military matters. Nor has he been in the slightest bragadocious.
    Sir, forgive my windiness, but my friends are starting to avoid me for fear of a rant. Thanks for the ear.
    Why won’t people take Nasrallah and the danger that this a trap leading to a great land battle seriously? Why is Israeli superiority a given? Unblooded boys up against battle hardened men who may have buried their whole family a few years ago. Any member of a group called Hisb’Allah (The Party of God) led by a man,Nasrallah (God’s Victory) is a lot more prepared to die for their cause than I am. I should be ashamed, but I’m as delicate as those Israeli boy soldiers and I don’t want to die for nuthin’.
    Israel must take the best cease fire it can get soon. HA may allow them to disengage. The international community may require them to. Or is it too late? I was a grunt. I don’t know when a battle has been joined and when you can seperate without running. I’ll be watching your site closely. I hope I’m dead ass wrong. Hal Carpenter

  23. canuck says:

    What’s wrong with this picture?
    Hizbullah missiles rain down
    I’m no tactician, but that looks like a very large target to me. Aren’t infantry troops supposed to stop missiles from being launched before tanks are sent in? Tanks aren’t impervious to destruction. I remember my step father, who was in the Royal Marines in WWII, a Canadian MP in Korea, served a one year UN mission in Egypt and finished his career in the Service Corps., telling me that one day when we were on the tank range in Camp Borden, Ontario.

  24. Matthew says:

    Patrick Henry: The PLO have not and are not fighting a “relgious” war against Israel. It is accurate to say they are fighting a “nationalist” war or an “anti-colonial” war. The attempt to equate all resistence to Israel, even by people who live under a brutal occupation, with “terrorism” or a “religious” war, undercuts your other points.

  25. JoeC says:

    An interesting Haaretz report today (if accurate) suggest that that Olmert has serious questions about how the war is being pursued by the IDF:
    “On Monday night, after visiting the Northern Command, Olmert was convinced that the war must be stopped. He did not like the operational plans he was shown, and was not thrilled with the army’s performance.
    For three weeks, he has been hearing daily that tomorrow the IDF will gain control of Bint Jbail and the town is still swarming with lethal Hezbollah fighters. He did not trust the army to stop the rocket fire even in a prolonged operation.”
    Since then, Olmert has mobilized a coalition to release him from the grand military operation, which, according to IDF estimates, would involve hundreds of fatalities.

  26. Abu Sinan says:

    My son, now 14 months old, was named after the famous architect of the Ottoman Empire. I love the mosques and other buildings he built.
    We also picked it because it isnt so common, especially in the Gulf, maybe more so in the Levant. Our other son, now four months old, is named Sayf. Sinan and Sayf, figured the means, in Arabic, matched. Sayf, being more of an old fashioned Khaliji name
    My father in law worked as a diplomat for the Saudis here in DC, more specifically as a military attache, so we still know some people at the Embassy, even though he passed away a few years ago.
    My wife is friends with the wife of the editor in chief of Asharq al Awsat, but that is certainly a Saudi establishment mouthpiece.
    I guess your connections with people from your passed carrier would be the best way.
    For me it is connections with family friends and others, both here in the USA and back in the Middle East.

  27. Mo says:

    Patrick henry,
    I doubt the Colonel would want this to become a forum for a debate on the raison d’etre of HA but I will tell you this: First, the HA are jihadist but i refute your accusation because what they mean by Jihadist and what you mean by it are two very seperate things.
    The marines, like jonst said, look up what the Iowa and the New jersey were doing the week prior to the barracks attack. Look at the govt. of Lebanon the marines were protecting and who put that govt. in charge.
    HA have never hijacked an aeroplane and if you are refering to the TWA hijacking that was the work of Amal
    The civilians who have died in Israel. Are you serious? After what Israel has just done your questioning HA about civilian deaths? Furthermore I challenge you to find a single Israeli fatility in Israel at the hands of HA that hasn’t been reactive to an act of Israeli aggression.
    Finally, the issue of religion. How can you say you understand their antagonism towards Israel is to do with Zionisim not Judaism and then claim its religious hatred? Make up your mind, which do you believe? And to be honest, if you are going to include the PLO under a list of Zealots you either seriously dont understand the term religious zealot or you dont understand the PLO.

  28. canuck says:

    Deal forged on UN Mideast ceasefire draft
    Fri Aug 11, 2006
    Details at Reuters
    Whether or not it will be passed at the UN and accepted by Hizbullah and Israel remains to be seen.

  29. John in LA says:

    Patrick Henry:
    No disrespect intended, but you sound like someone who wandered into this conversation from Fox America.
    You will probably notice that most of our postings are analytical, technical — some of our colleagues here have tremendous knowledge of local cultures/tribes/politics and of military affairs.
    One big theme: the events around the world – from Afghanistan to London — are not part of a homogeneous movement.
    The NeoCon attempt to paint every event in the Muslim world as part of a monolithic bloc is the same presented by the Military Industrial Complex in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. This is to say, they painted the dozens of individual nationalist movements, united under the general umbrella of militant socialism/communism as a Soviet plot.
    We now know that nothing could have been further from the truth. In future, I think we will well understand that the various movements in S. Arabia, Kashmir, Palestine, Kurdistan etc. reflect unique local circumstances and players.
    I’m finding the postings on Col. Lang’s site over the past weeks the most informative readings I’ve found. Certainly, the hysteria of U.S. television journalism, infused as it is with Israeli propaganda, is laughably imprecise.
    I’ll leave you with a priceless bit of military/technical analysis from the priceless talking head Anderson Cooper (360!) On the border he was saying, oh, you can tell incoming from outgoing because outgoing goes “thump whoosh” whereas incoming goes “whoosh thump”.
    Actually, Anderson, sometimes, incoming just goes “whoosh”…

  30. chew2 says:

    Regarding the HB military tactics, I found this Kevin Sites interview with an Israeli infantry major an interesting data point:
    “It’s complicated,” Taylor adds, speaking from personal experience. “It’s not army versus army warfare. They do have an organized fighting doctrine but it’s not based on making contact. It’s more of guerrilla warfare tactics. They want to draw you into an area where they have booby traps and they can use their anti-tank missiles.”
    “The villages are used as logistic bases,” he says, “but they usually fight from bunkers in outlying areas. They have tunnel systems with camouflaged entry points where they can enter in one place and exit somewhere else. We’ve been fairly successful at cutting off the supplies from the villages, which forces them to come out eventually.”
    The way to fight Hezbollah, he says, is to outlast them in a war of nerves.”
    It sounds like very slow going.
    The Ground War

  31. jonst says:

    P Henry, and all, sorry for the poor grammer. I was in a rush…my post should have read, “just out of curiosity what do you think HA thought they were doing when they bombed the Marine barracks?”
    Zanzibar and John,
    Mort Sahl, the old comic, tells a joke about Cheney staying at the Waldorf Hotel. As he come out to get into a car a group of protestors breaks out into a chant denouncing him and Bush. He responds by yelling at them, “ah, go buy your own President.” He might have added for John’s sake…”ah, go buy your own TV station. (or go intimidate your own Public TV people)

  32. pbrownlee says:

    It is interesting and somewhat alarming to see cognitive dissonance at work. We cherish our fantasies (“They hate us because of who we are” etc.) perhaps because they are so “us” and we love and protect them even more as they are ground down by the complexities of the real world.
    “Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
    Cannot bear very much reality.
    Time past and time future
    What might have been and what has been
    Point to one end, which is always present.”
    T.S. Eliot: BURNT NORTON (No. 1 of ‘Four Quartets’)

  33. wtofd says:

    Jonst, what do you mean by the battleship Iowa? Btw, I owe you an email. Your nephew is back from L’ile D’Yeu?

  34. wtofd says:

    PL, Abu Sinan, how do you rate Ha’aretz?

  35. Mo says:

    wtofd, I know you didn’t ask me but, Israeli military restrictions aside, Ive found them to be as honest as you can be in war, esp. one that enjoys(enjoyed) 90% support. In fact, I think if I was Israeli, I wouldn’t be too happy with their honesty or their not too subtle attempts to tell the public it is going badly at the front by publishing puictures of soldiers looking very maudilin by articles stating how well the whole thing was going.

  36. praktike says:

    if i may, i think the point jonst is making is that “HA” was retaliating for US shelling of, interestingly, a druze area … which reminds me that walid junblatt once took credit for the marine barracks bombings … it’s in the “fire and embers” book about the lebanese civil war, by dilip hiro.

  37. Chris Bray says:

    Reading this, I immediately stopped to google “Hezbollah TOW missiles,” and found news stories saying that 1.) the missiles came from McFarland and Oliver North, and 2.) the IDF captured TOW missiles from Hezbollah that were stored in date-stamped crates indicating that they were made in 2001. And the overarching question is: What the hell?
    If Hezbollah has TOW missiles, isn’t it only a matter of time before they show up in Iraq — being used against U.S. tanks? Where did they come from? When? How many are out there? And how big a deal is this?

  38. wtofd says:

    John in LA,
    I like your 04:44 comment a lot. As for, “One big theme: the events around the world – from Afghanistan to London — are not part of a homogeneous movement,” I agree, but…
    Do you read John Robb? These movements might not be homogenous, but they are either talking to and teaching each other or, at minimum, watching and copying. Of course, Iran and Syria are assisting but HA is learning from the web as well.
    Along with Juan Cole’s Informed Comment and SST06, John Robb’s Global Guerrillas is one of my desert island blogs for the ME.

  39. Chris Bray says:

    Just found another story that says the Iranians reverse-engineered and cloned the TOWs that North sold to them, giving Iran a lasting supply…

  40. Mo says:

    “At least four people were killed and 40 others wounded when at least eight Israeli missiles hit a convoy of Lebanese Army and civilian vehicles, Lebanese security sources said.”
    Now im not one for the whole “they are pure evil” type of comments so I am going to assume that the only reason for yet another blatant attack on civilians is that these guys are trying to provoke an attack on Tel Aviv, the only HA action that could now derail any kind of ceasefire.

  41. wtofd says:

    Mo, thanks for the response. To your point, check out the current photos on the homepages of the Post and Ha’aretz. In Ha’aretz’s defense, they are outraged at Olmert’s handling of the last month. Monkeys and footballs.

  42. The obverse of my prior theory is a bit wilder. With the UN resolution under consideration, a cease-fire seems imminent. If it passes and French and other countries, along with Lebanese troops, secure southern Lebanon Hizbullah will be effectively neutralized.
    One of the arguments put forward by Helena Cobban against the US invading Iran is Hizbullah rockets. Should the US or Israel attack Iran, this line of thinking goes, Iran would order Hizbullah to attack Israel. Ergo, Israel and the US would not risk attacking Iran.
    Assuming that Israel, Lebanon, and Hizbullah abide by the UN ceasefire, French troops will ensure that Hizbullah does not pose this threat to northern Israel any longer.
    With their northern front secured, Israel/US can now attack Iran without that concern. They are now emboldened to carry out the Israel and neocon dream of disposing of the Iranian threat anytime–some are suggesting an October surprise–they wish.
    The irony of this perhaps fanciful scenario is that the French would have been dragged into the “war on terror” without having wanted to get involved. Of course, the fact that the French are there in southern Lebanon might prove to stop all of this from occurring.

  43. Nabil says:

    As far as why the Hizb would agree to this ceasefire:
    1-They gave the government the right to negotiate on their behalf. They can’t renege on what the government agrees to without coming off as liars (and they’re no liars).
    2-Their people are suffering. If Hizbullah were just an army in a field, they would fight to the death gladly. But their wives and children are being killed and/or uprooted, and their houses destroyed.
    3-They never wanted to start this war in the first place.
    4-They have few full-time soldiers. The ‘shabab’ (young guys) in the south are going to go back to the south and are not going to be any less affiliated with Hizbullah. They will keep their small arms. They will likely keep a few heavier pieces around (although you can’t do that with the rocket launchers…maybe the individual katyushas). So Hizbullah will never really ‘withdraw’ from the south, only their rocket launchers will.
    The REALLY interesting question is what happens now. The mood in Lebanon is not very good. Hizbullah will lose the exuses it has had to keep its arms if the Shebaa farms are freed diplomatically and the Lebanese prisoners are freed as part of a swap. And if they aren’t defending the south anymore…why are they there? They may turn into a peaceful party at last.
    What I suspect will happen is Israel will refuse to release Samir Kassir, but will release everyone else (They will hold Kassir for info on Ron Arad – God himself doesn’t know what happened to Ron Arad). Hizbullah will try to use this as an excuse to keep their arms. The rest of the Lebanese won’t buy it, but can’t disarm them. Lebanon will go back to tension (hopefully not bloodletting…but there are some dark hints at that), but that tension will be away from the southern border.

  44. blowback says:

    There is the draft of the UN resolution at The Washington Post.
    OP1. Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;
    OP2. Upon full cessation of hostilities, calls upon the government of Lebanon and UNIFIL as authorized by paragraph 11 to deploy their forces together throughout the South and calls upon the government of Israel, as that deployment begins, to withdraw all of its forces from Southern Lebanon in parallel;
    My feeling is that it is bound to fail, Hezbollah are supposed to put down their weapons and stop defending themselves while the IDF can continue its “defensive operation” until hostilities cease which will only be once Hezbollah’s forces are destroyed.
    OP15. Decides further that all states shall take the necessary measures to prevent, by their nationals or from their territories or using their flag vessels or aircraft,
    (a) the sale or supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, whether or not originating in their territories, and

    (b) the provision to any entity or individual in Lebanon of any technical training or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of the items listed in subparagraph (a) above, except that these prohibitions shall not apply to arms, related material, training or assistance authorized by the Government of Lebanon or by UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11;
    Does this mean that the if the Israelis resupply their own troops they are in breach of the resolution unless UNIFIL authorizes it?. Any lawyers (not of the barrack room variety) who would care to comment.
    Finally, this really doesn’t seem to reflect the reality on the ground. The IDF have barely moved away from the border so why should Hezbollah give up their positions for so little.

  45. blowback says:

    The Angry Arab is today the Overwhelmingly Angry Arab with his analysis of the UN resolution. Not for the faint hearted.

  46. Abu Sinan says:

    Posted-PL, Abu Sinan, how do you rate Ha’aretz?
    Generally, when I want a mass media source from Israel I will look at Ha’aretz, but like ALL Israeli sources, since this conflict began, I find it has become not much more than a propaganda tool for the Israeli government.
    No Israeli media source has come out and been really critical of government statements, nor have they taken government officials to task for lying as they have done about the situation on the ground.
    As to TOW missles, we have given those missles to many countries, so they could have come from anywhere. I think you’ll find a lot of the high tech gear that Hizb has comes from the USA. They have a very active set of followers and supporters here.
    It has been said that Hizb is more dangerous and has more reach than al-Queda, and I would agree with this.
    This network could have come up with this stuff from almost anywhere, and I believe that Hizb has some stuff in strategic reserve that will make this stuff look mild.
    The fact that Hizb has not utilized their international cells to strike at American and Israeli targets is significant. I believe that Hizb is the most capable, and therefor dangerous, group in the world. If they wanted to they could hit targets all over the world.
    What does it mean that, to this point, they have choosen not to? I think it is a sign that they feel that things are going so well on the ground that there is no need to jeopardise world opinion with such attacks. This could change if facts on the ground change.
    Hizb could also be waiting, only to hit 6 months, 2 years down the road.
    I am interested in Nasrallahs response to the Israeli attack in the center of Beirut. Such an attack, he said, would bring a Hizb response to Tel Aviv. Since the Israeli attack was very limited, I think he will hold off.
    Hizb is holding back their longest range missles in reserve. I do not believe that Israel has destroyed a significant portion of this.
    I dont see what more Israel could really do to Lebanon in such an event anyway. Israel has destroyed a large percentage of Lebanese infrastructure, well over a hundred bridges gone, hundreds of KM of roads, factories, utilities plants, ports. They have targeted Christian, Sunni and Shi’ite areas. I think the only community to really escape pretty well unscathed out of this is the Druze community. Walid Jumblats pathetic blathering might have a role in that.
    I know they are making a bundle in the Chouf renting rooms to other displaced Lebanese. What has impressed me is the way that Palestinians, in the camps, have taken in the Shi’ite refugees, especially considering the history between the Palestinians and a large portion of the Shi’ite community as shown by the “war of the camps.”
    Hopefully these two groups have decided, that despite religious differences, they have a lot in common.

  47. union says:

    As a matter of strategy and practicality, the thought that HA will move to the “north” of Litani does not, intuitively, come across as defeat or peculiar. For, the news reports that those fighting now in the “south” basically are villagers from the same geographical areas. Also, these same folks are known to “melt away” into civil life. Further, HA is the social infrastructure of the “south.” On the other hand, there is the issue of natural resources like water, and then, the PA issue. Collaborating with international forces first in the “south” may be a long term strategy (from the HA perspective) to secure those natural resources and monitor the PA issue more closely. Additionally, the international forces most likely will not include the U.S., Britian nor Israel, so finally the “Other” gets a voice and representation on an international level. Quite frankly, Israel could work this out itself by trading civil technology for resources; but, that is not its M.O. presently.

  48. mt says:

    Unless events change dramatically, I imagine the Israeli government will change dramatically. I smell something, maybe desperation. I don’t think this is even close to over.

  49. BadTux says:

    I would be very careful about coming to any conclusions about weapons that HA is using based upon IDF sources. The IDF has a natural desire to hype up HA’s weaponry as an excuse for their poor performance. It is unlikely, for example, that HA possesses many Kornets. Syria bought around 1,000 Kornets, but the chances they gave HA many of those Kornets is slim — they need the Kornets as a deterrant against Israeli armor for their own defense. Iran itself does not have Kornets in any great quantity (if at all), they are relying on their Sagger, Spandrel, and TOW clones, which they reverse-engineered or licensed and produce cheaply in their own factories. Iran is very careful about their arms purchases in order to get the best bang for the buck, and if they can make effective weapons locally (and the above-named are plenty effective if deployed in sufficient quantity and provided with upgraded warheads and guidance systems), they do not buy, they build.
    I read a description of the Israeli attack upon Marjayoun by a Western reporter. He painted a picture of Merkavas slowly trudging along through a valley then suddenly HA appeared on the ridge lines surrounding them. As the Merkavas attempting to engage targets with their weaponry, HA missiles flew in from all sides. He saw a Merkava disabled, apparently by a missile that came from its hind quarter, which even on a Merkava is weaker than the frontal armor. The Merkava caught on fire, and its crew bailed and ran for shelter at another Merkava as the line of Merkavas started pumping out smoke everywhere to fend off further attacks.
    I do not think possession of a Kornet (or not) would have made much of a difference in that situation. If HA is successfully drawing Israeli armor into kill boxes, you will see tanks killed, period, even if all HA had were the upgraded Saggers that I referred to earlier. It simply is impossible to armor a tank equally over its whole body, the tank would be so heavy as to be immobile. A tank will always have weak points, and if you can get tanks into a kill box like described above, you will have tanks getting killed.
    As for what the Iranian Saggers, Spandrels and TOW’s cost to build, vs. a Merkava, think maybe $5,000 apiece, max, for the missiles if you have free labor (as Iran effectively does). A Merkava costs approximately $4.4 million dollars (or about the same as a M1A1). However, the Merkavas thus far disabled by HA have mostly not been cooked off, thus are salvagable and repairable. Merkavas are designed to be easy to repair, so it is likely that most of those “killed” by HA will go back into combat sooner or later.
    In any event, as Pat has noted earlier, pay little attention to the technology that HA is using. It is not the technology that is making them effective. It is their training and dedication that are making them effective. And for that matter, Israeli incompetence — it is not so much that HA is fighting like supermen (they have obviously studied their art and are executing it, but if they were really the supermen they’ve been accounted to be, Israeli casualties would be much higher), as it is that the IDF is fighting extremely poorly. Tankers, for example, should never allow themselves to get into enclosed kill boxes where the enemy can fire down onto their less-armored top and rear parts. The fact that IDF tanks have managed to put themselves into exactly that position is a sign of incompetence on their part, rather than super-human competence on HA’s part. HA is just doing Warfighting 101. The IDF is doing… well, poorly.

  50. BadTux says:

    One last comment on Israeli military performance. As I noted earlier, while HA is certainly fighting a competent war, they’re being helped an awful lot by Israeli incompetence. A bit of exploration uncovers one reason why. The following comes from an Israeli document dated in 2004:
    “This [budgetary] state of affairs has become so severe that the IDF announced at the start of 2004 that Army reservists would soon be training without live ammunition because funds simply were not available to make the necessary purchases. In some cases, reserve armor units have not received live training ammunition for the past three years.”
    These are the same reserves who are being sent into battle today. No live training ammunition in the past three years? If you fight the way you train, that isn’t saying much for IDF readiness…

  51. Duncan Kinder says:

    Another major blog is The Oil Drum, for a detailed discussion of world oil and energy production.
    Caveat: The Oil Drum advances the notion that the world today is reaching or in the very near future will reach “Peak Oil,” which means that henceforth world oil production will thereafter follow a downward slope. This is a controversial thesis.
    Regardless of the merits of the Peak Oil thesis, the Oil Drum provides much information. For example, the major Saudi oil field has leveled its oil production – quite possibly because it geologically has become exhausted.

  52. confusedponderer says:

    stating that HA actually had a reason when they blew up the Marine barracks and was acting in retaliation for US shelling of Shiite villages suggests that maybe the US made a mistake, or did injustice HA could possibly be rightfully furious about.
    That of course can’t be, you terrorist hugger, you.
    Seriously, if I recall rightly, the US foolishly chose to pick a side in a civil war, the side of the christian maronites, opposing the shiite militias. Initially the US military presence in Lebanon had support among Shiite and other Muslim militias who had hope that the United States would bring stability back. That support went up in smoke after the shellings. The US were no longer viewed as neutral.
    A side in a civil war get’s fired at, a lesson the US had apparently not learned and re-experienced in Somalia. That should also be a stark warning for a potential multinational force tasked today with separating Israel and HA. For Israel and US hardliners they will always be doing to little against HA (the very concept of neutrality is alien to them), while for HA they’ll probably be doing too little against Israel, which will be as provocative as ever, just think about overflights of Lebanese territory.

  53. ali says:

    Just to correct Mike: PIRA are largely disarmed; most of their known arsenal got entombed in concrete last year. Given their extensive criminal network PIRA retain the ability to re-arm; the pike is still in the thatch. They show no sign of doing so; their political wing gets the second largest vote in N.Ireland and is a small but energetic player down South.
    Which reminds me hadn’t we disarmed Sadr Mehdi Army back in 2004? Strange that they now appear to be kitted up like an overloaded action men.

  54. jonst says:

    How are you? Hope all is well. Yes, he is back home. Family to follow.
    Praktike was basically correct regarding my point and the role of the Iowa. It was, to some extent, shelling Lebanon in 1983. I think it fair to say that this act, along with others, was perceived as a signal that the US personal had begun to shift from a ‘peacekeeping’ force to something else. If that perception was correct, and the facts on the ground then were very hazy, and perceptions were shifting daily in the then Civil War, the Americans would be seen as one more outsider being called into the War by one of participants. And as such…fair game. In any event the Iowa fired, the barracks went up, and wisely we left. Within days (a weekend?)off to the grand Isle of Grenada in search of Cuban battalions. (and I suspect that that battalion is still hiding in those damn mountains despite what anyone says. Sorta like the WMD episode, 1980s style) And the Reagan White House was able to wash away the understandably bad taste Lebanon left in their mouths. And in all our mouths. We scored a ‘great victory’ on the Isle and where able to hand out more medals than the total number of soldiers in the ‘invasion’! Including, if I recall correctly, an incredibly high amount of Bronze Stars. A hell of a feat!
    Stay healthy Wtfod!

  55. Mo says:

    Wtofd, soldiers escorting a cow, I need to find a high rez version of that picture!
    cynic librarian, If that theory was in any way part of their thinking then maybe the original plan of defeating HA would be relevant. Under a ceasefire agreement that threat is not going anywhere.
    Nabil, what are your sources in regards tothe mood in Lebanon not being good? My sources tell me the mood is better than you’d expect and the people are optimistic that they may get an even “cleaner” democracy if there are new elections soon (which I expect there will be). I don’t expect anyone to ask HA to give up their arms until the water has been tested to see if the French act with the same determination against any Israeli violations as they are expected to HA ones.
    Abu Sinan, In regards to the Israeli media, I think considering the overwhelming support there was in Israel for this war, any commercial organisation would have been hard pressed to have been critical of the government, and austere military reporting restrictions would have stopped anyone taking government officials to task for lying. But I’m betting there will be plenty taking to task next week.
    Your point re. HA’s international cells is interesting. What are your sources for this as Nasrallah has been explicit in the past that HA’s military activities are limited to the Lebanese-Israeli border.
    I wholeheartedly agree with you in regards to how Palestinians have taken in shia refugees. This has also happened in Maronite communities. Lets hope, like you say, this helps the many communities to see they have more in common than they thought.
    mt, this 48hr ground offensive is a politician trying to save his skin i think. I think the Kadima Experiment is over in Israel.
    BadTux, Considering the level of military aid Israel gets, you’d expect budgetary issues to be one problem they wouldn’t have. I know the aid comes mostly in hardware but that must free up a lot of govt. money. Where does it go?
    confusedponderer, Problem with being a terrorist hugger is that the beards are so prickly…..
    Seriously though, if you want evidence that the attack was down to the bias in their policy there, one would have to ask why the Italian and more importantly, British contingents of the Multi National Peace Keeping Force didn’t suffer a single attack from HA in 83. Of course, the HA of those days is very different, in ideology,goals and most importantly personnel then the one of today, but I think both todays and the 83 version would have attacked the barracks.
    jonst, relating what you say to today, Im afraid that for Grenada, read Gaza.
    Apologies for the many replies, consequence of being on another continent to the rest of you.

  56. There are two ways to fight against terrorists and insurgents:
    – the British way (N. Ireland), patience
    – the Syrian way (Hama), violence

  57. Also, I’d like to clarify my position:
    – the British way (N. Ireland)
    patience, law, police force
    – the Syrian way (Hama)
    violence, terror, army

  58. dan says:

    The idea that neutralising Hizbullah is a necessary precondition for an assault on Iran is delusional, and completely fails to distinguish between the “local” consequences to Israel from the “global” consequences that Iranian retaliation to a US attack can engineer. If they want to be really mean they could, after all, just try to knock out Ras Tanura adn Abqaiq – both of which are well within range of a number of their missile systems.
    After 30 days of sustained IDF aerial assualts on a geographically concentrated area, Hizbullah have still managed a sustained shut down the economy in the Northern third of Israel, and used short-range artillery rockets to close the port of Haifa; one of the enduring images from this conflict is the sight of a merchant ship heading into the port of Haifa turning tail and running back out to sea in the wake of a rocket attack. If anyone doubted that Iran had the capacity to leverage the vagaries of war risks exemptions clauses in marine insurance policies to effectively interdict the Straits of Hormuz and the strategicaly vital port of Kuwait, then those doubts should have been, quite literally, blown out of the water. The world cannot afford to see 14 million barrels of oil per day taken off world markets – that’s a “global” consequence that makes rocket attacks on TA seem rather parochial ( unless you live in TA ). I won’t even bother to get into the potentially fatal consequences for the US army in Iraq via local Shia or Iranian retaliation, or the fact that the US logistics platform in Northern Kuwait is vulnerable to the same artillery tactics. Iran has bigger, longer-range and, above all, more of this type of weaponry and a geographically huge area from which it can operate in.
    Hizbullah still retains the longer-range rocket capability with which it could hit Israeli cities anyway, and from positions well to the North of the Litani – so the IDF assault has been unsuccessful in counteracting this threat thus far.

  59. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That was also my recollection. But teh French government followed ths same policy and the French baracks were also attacked. The Italians were spared.
    I also would like to point out that the United States did not respond to the attack by launching an all out aerial assault on Lebanon.

  60. confusedponderer says:

    in that administration back then, voices of reason got a chance to be listened to. Reagan did correct mistakes, if I have his reaction on Iran-Contra rightly in mind. I doubt Bush is morally, intellectually and by character capable of that.
    Maybe such voices of reason are there and are listened to today as well, but that’s probably as good as it gets. Today’s response would be gut driven, decided on by categories like ‘good vs. evil’, ‘liberty vs. forces of darkness’ and ‘Israel rocks’, and would quite likely be the very all-out aerial bombardment you mentioned. After all, everything else is appeasement.

  61. Abu Sinan says:

    Posted: “Your point re. HA’s international cells is interesting. What are your sources for this as Nasrallah has been explicit in the past that HA’s military activities are limited to the Lebanese-Israeli border.”
    It is well known that Hizb’Allah cells played a role in at least one bombing of Jewish/Israeli targets in South America.
    They have a world wide funraising arm, many of them people who were involved in combat in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s. These people could be activated if needs be.
    I think it was Michael Scheuer who said that Hizb was #1 in the game, second was al-Queda. Clearly Hizb had operational ability abroad, it just is yet to be seen if they will use it.
    Posted: “PIRA are largely disarmed; most of their known arsenal got entombed in concrete last year. Given their extensive criminal network PIRA retain the ability to re-arm; the pike is still in the thatch. They show no sign of doing so; their political wing gets the second largest vote in N.Ireland and is a small but energetic player down South.”
    Indeed, the “armalite and the ballot box” paid off. The Goof Friday Agreement(GFA) allows for periodic votes on the status of the north of Ireland. Given demographic changes, in a few decades there will be enough Catholics to vote the six counties into the Republic.
    This was compliments of the PIRA campaign which got Republicans consessions they never would have gotten otherwise.

  62. Hama was a small repetition of the Russian Civil War.

  63. Mo says:

    Abu Sinan
    “It is well known that Hizb’Allah cells played a role in at least one bombing of Jewish/Israeli targets in South America.”
    I think you are confusing well known for often repeated. In actual fact the investigation was considered inept in the extreme, it possibly linked one person to it who in turn was possibly liked to HA. Most of the evidence actually pointed to the Argentinian military.
    As for HA’s worldwide fundraising, Ive yet to see any evidence for this although often heard it said. I wonder though, If HA are so well supported by Iran, an oil producing nation, what would HA need with a fund raising arm?

  64. dan — I hope you are right. I understand that HB could continue its rocket attacks on Israel, should it wish to break any cease-fire should Israel/US attack Iran. I guess you’d have a further crisis within Lebanon which could or would fracture that society.
    That is, how would the Lebanese army respond to the breaking of the ceasefire? If they refused to act, then Israel would have to deal with it. If, on the other hand, the Lebanese actually do take on HB, you’re back at civil war which effectively neutralizes HB.
    I don’t know how Iran would do against the US Navy. If memory serves me, Navy brass have expressed confidence in the past that they can handle anything Exocet missiles. The notion of an Iranian navy is of course laughable.
    The question is whether Iran could jam up the starits themselves by sinking a ship or two there. That assumes that they can a ship close enough to do that or have the technology to take out one. Supposedly, the US has wargamed this and they have come up with contingency plans.
    I’ve been arguing–somewhat fancifully perhaps–that Cheney/Rumsfeld are selling the idea that Iraq is “sufficiently contained” and that US troops do not have much to worry about there. If they need to, they can simply retreat behind the fences of their super-bases and let the Sunnis-Shiites kill each other. These bases are supposed to be huge and with sufficient air cover are probably impregnable to everything except maybe an army of a million.
    Of course, I exaggerate, but I really think that this is what the Pentagon is saying these days. This model rests on the notion that order within Iraq is not the be all and end all of the strategy. A contained, implosive instability within Iraq is all that the US troops need.
    Most people seem to think that the strategy in the Mideast is to promote peace by way of policeman-like stability. I disagree. I think that one way of thinking–by those who might wish to do this–is to bring about peace by igniting the region in unrest. The Pentagon is smart enough–haha–to know that the rift between Sunnis and Shiites is lethal. Why not exploit that hatred to bring about a situation in which they direct their hatred at each other rather than us? Once attrition does its job, the US can then move in to pick up the pieces and impose a more lasting peace.
    I know. This is all too simplistic.

  65. lamp says:

    As a comparison Cassino? How about Thermopylae? 😉

  66. smoothn00dle says:

    Evolution! Kornet is anti-Tank sniper missle. It has 3 times longer range than sniper rifle. It cost around 100,000 dollars. Kornet can destory the latest state of the art tank cost 20million and over. It required 2-3 person team to operate, weight 10 to 13kg, easy to transport. Therefore easy to buy and sell in market. It can target soldiers, tanks, personal carriers and helicopters(low flying). Fast to deploy(avg 3 mins) and easy to use. It has a training system onboard. This weapon combine with tunnels and electronic and information technology, it will tip the balance back to gurilla warfare.

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