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A WILLisms.com(ic), by Ken McCracken
July 14, 2006
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Casualties thus far in the conflict: "Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora put the death toll at more than 330 - at least 11 of them killed Thursday - with 1,100 wounded. At least 32 Israelis have been killed, including 17 service members - three of them killed in military operations Thursday and early Friday."
Brigadier-General Alon Friedman stated that air strikes have destroyed about 50 per cent of Hezbollah's arsenal.
Thousands of IDF troops are now operating inside Lebanon.
Hezbollah has fired over 1,000 rockets so far, and the IDF fears they may be
trying to move
rockets into Gaza, shortening the range to hit Israel. So far, indiscriminate
Hezbollah rockets have hit a UN
(killing two children), Haifa,
Acre, Tiberias and several
Lebanon is an incredibly diverse place religiously and politically with a long history of war and civil war since 1975. Nearly half of the population is some flavor of christian, while the unique Druze religion, Shia and Sunni Islam round out the rest. The Lebanese Constitution reflects the importance of these factions, and it requires that:
There is no definitive answer on how much Iran gives in financial support to Hezbollah. Estimates range from 100-200 million dollars annually to just $25-50 million annually. Hezbollah had an estimated 3,000 hardcore fighters as of the beginning of the conflict, and as many as 13,000 rockets. Israel claims that it has seriously degraded Hezbollah's command and control, and its supply of Katyusha rockets (a Russian design from World War II), and 'Fajr' type rockets of Iranian manufacture, the most powerful of which is the 333mm Fajr-5 rocket with a range of 75 km. Hezbollah's arms come from Syria, or from Iran via Damascus. However, the IDF reports that some of the Fajr rockets landing in Haifa were actually of Syrian manufacture.
Hezbollah also has the 610 mm Zelzal-2 'missile' (it is really an unguided rocket) which might be capable of launching half a ton of chemical weapons as far as Tel Aviv.
Syrian still exercises considerable de facto power in Lebanon through its political allies, even though Syria's security forces left Lebanon completely in 2005.
Lebanon's President is Émile Lahoud, a Maronite Christian and minion of Damascus, "owes his position to the Syrians," says Richard Murphy, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia. Murphy also says. "He's not seen as a forceful or particularly capable leader, or as a figure with any personal following. He has Syria's blessing, period." Lahoud is unfortunately the nation's commander-in-chief and in nominal control of Lebanon's army, a large percentage of which is composed of poor Shia recruits.
The army may fracture into pro- and anti- Hezbollah factions if forced to confront Hezbollah - thus goading the Lebanese army into attacking Hezbollah may be worse for Lebanon than having them sit on the sidelines.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora - a Sunni who was once a close aide to Rafik Hariri - has turned against Hezbollah, stating that it was a 'state within a state' and should be disarmed, and was taking orders from Syria and Tehran. Indeed, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 (02 September 2004, China and Russia abstaining) states that the Security Council -
1. Reaffirms its call for the strict respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity, and political independence of Lebanon under the sole and exclusive authority of the Government of Lebanon throughout Lebanon;
2. Calls upon all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon;
3. Calls for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias;
4. Supports the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory.
It appears that Israel is doing the job requested by the Security Council. Thus one can presume that Israel's actions are legal (not to mention Israel's inherent right to self-defense, as per UN Charter Article 51).
Parlimentary seats are divided as follows, among 128 seats altogether (from the Council on Foreign Relations):
There is a also a ghost army of blue helmets in Lebanon, the 2,000 man force called the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon or UNIFIL Milos Strugar, senior adviser to UNIFIL said that due to being hemmed in by war damage to the south Lebanese infrastructure, it is no longer able to patrol the blue line, which is its mandate, and part of its mission:
"According to Security Council resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) of 19 March 1978, UNIFIL was established to:
Most recently the mandate of UNIFIL was extended until 31 July 2006 by Security Council resolution 1655 (2006) of 31 January 2006."
Hezbollah has violated these Security Council Resolution 425 numerous times, attacking the Shebaa Farms often since Israel's pullout from Lebanon, and in one instance UNIFIL was accused of being complicit with Hezbollah in a kidnapping. UNIFIL is as equally pointless a military organization as the Lebanese army right now, and the only thing it has accomplished is establishing that the duration of the official United Nations unit of time known as the 'Interim' lasts approximately 30 years.
There is also the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force or UNDOF, a force of 1,000 troops stationed between the Golan Heights and Syria.
Posted by Ken McCracken · 21 July 2006 04:27 AM
More background from Stratfor (subscription) compliments of Tigerhawk:
The Lebanese government and military operate on a shaky ethno-sectarian system reflecting the country's explosive mix of religious sects. The armed forces consist of about 60,000 men divided into several brigades, most of which are also divided along sectarian lines. Most army recruits come from rural areas in Lebanon, such as Akkar in the north, Iqlim al-Kharroub in the Shouf Mountains southeast of Beirut, and from southern Lebanon. Approximately 70 percent of the enlisted men are made up of Sunnis and Shia, divided almost equally.
Lebanon's military vastly outnumbers Hezbollah's cadre of trained fighters, but still lacks the ability and will to overtake Hezbollah bases in southern Lebanon and force the Shiite guerrilla force to disarm, a demand Israel says must be met before any move toward a cease-fire can be made. This is largely due to the significant number of Hezbollah sympathizers and members operating among the army's conscripts.
When the French created Lebanon in 1941, Paris sought to ensure Maronite Christians would monopolize the armed forces' top brass, which was intentionally designed to remain a small, defensive force out of fear that a strong Lebanese army would become embroiled in wider Arab regional conflicts. When Syria became the de facto ruler of Lebanon as result of the civil war in the 1980s, however, the Syrians decided to do some remodeling. Damascus played a direct role in putting Hezbollah members in important positions in the Lebanese army -- to the extent that Hezbollah now occupies many of the important positions previously held by Maronites. When Syria withdrew its approximately 20,000 troops from Lebanon following the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, it maintained a powerful presence in Lebanon's political, military and intelligence circles, keeping Hezbollah's position intact.
Considering the number of Hezbollah sympathizers and members in the Lebanese armed forces, it comes as no surprise that the militant group is receiving logistical and intelligence support from the army to stage its missile attacks. Hezbollah recently attempted to launch missiles from mobile launchers near the Kfar Shima army base, located in a Druze-Christian area just outside Beirut's southern suburbs. The Israeli air force subsequently destroyed the launcher and killed 10 Lebanese soldiers.
Posted by: Bat One at July 21, 2006 07:47 AM
us and israel now have matching quagmires. We should envy Iran.
Posted by: lester at July 21, 2006 12:23 PM
Better to actually DO something about the situation, rather than sit back like some moronic capon waiting for the UN to once again demonstrate its feckless ineptitude.
Time for some heavy duty spring cleaning up and down the ol' Bekaa Valley.
Posted by: Bat One at July 21, 2006 06:31 PM