The shape of wars to come

While the will-they-or-wll-they-not game on the purported coming Israeli and/or US attack on Iran flares up again, the Israelis are also increasingly worried about (read: readying to attack) the surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft batteries Hizbullah is reportedly installing on Mount Sannine and in the Bekaa valley: ‘According to the sources, preparations for the attack were coordinated during recent frequent visits by senior Israeli officials to the U.S., and that Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has gotten a green light from President Bush to carry out an extensive aerial and ground attack against Hizbullah. The sources added that this attack, which could be in late September or early October, would be a prelude to an expected attack on Iran in November or December.’ Up goes the oil price!
Israeli overflights violating Lebanon’s airspace remain a daily occurrence, in flagrant breach of UNSC resolution 1701, and although the Lebanese army occasionally takes a symbolic pot shot or two at them, the ‘allies’ of the Lebanese government are always careful to make sure the LAF don’t get any weaponry that could be used to actually defend their country from Israel. Some used hummers and light ammunition is all the US and the west (and the gulf countries) allow the army to buy or receive. Even in the heat of the Nahr al-Bared battle last year, the Gazelle helicopter Qatar donated to the LAF was stripped of its rocket launching equipment (on the orders of the US) so that the soldiers were forced to throw the explosives out by hand. Haaretz: Just as they were during the first three years after Israel quit Lebanon in May 2000, Israeli overflights of its northern neighbor now threaten to become the main point of Israel-Hezbollah friction. During the last round, however, Hezbollah had no weapons capable of truly threatening Israel’s planes. This time, aided by Iran and Syria, it seems to be aiming much higher. (…) The aerial front was Hezbollah’s principal weak spot during the Second Lebanon War. Israel’s air force did as it pleased in Lebanon’s skies, from destroying the Fajr missiles to dropping special forces in Hezbollah’s stronghold of Bekaa. Now, according to both Military Intelligence assessments and recent reports in the Arabic media, Hezbollah is seeking to close this gap. Should Hezbollah install advanced anti-aircraft batteries, accompanied by modern radar, this would cause significant problems for Israeli overflights. And that in turn would score domestic points for the organization, justifying its refusal to disarm. Smuggling in such batteries should not be difficult, given the massive quantities of rockets and antitank missiles it has already succeeded in bringing in from Syria.’ More on the actual weapons and the ‘threat they pose to’ (read: ‘protection they provide from’) spying and bombing Israeli warplanes can be found here.

In related developments – strenuously denied by UNIFIL –‘Al-Akhbar claimed that (UNIFIL commander) Graziano issued a directive on July 31 stating that “in case an Israeli warplane was shot down in UNIFIL’s area of influence, the pilot should be rescued as soon as possible and taken to the closest UNIFIL post before any side manages to reach him. “In case the pilot fell into the hands of gunmen, he also must be rescued. Only in the case that the pilot falls into the hands of Lebanese army troops there should be no intervention.” UNIFIL emphasized, in a statement issued on Tuesday, its commitment to U.N. Security Council resolution 1701, and pledged to turn over any foreign soldier who enters Lebanon to the Lebanese army.’ It is worth pointing out that in actual reality, UNIFIL, rather than watching and controlling Hizbullah, is actually being watched by them. Hizbullah in fact protects the UN troops from (Fatah al-Islam/al Qaeda) jihadi attacks, and any UNIFIL soldier or officer actually serving in the south of the country will think twice before interfering with any Hizbullah operation, let alone engaging in a firefight with them to save an Israeli pilot (thus depriving the resistance of a valuable negotiating tool) …

In an interesting statement that seems to belie the widespead notion (in the west) that ‘Hizbullah is a mere tool controlled by Syria and/or Iran’, Hizbullah MP Fadlallah declared to a Kuwaiti newspaper (on Assad’s peace negotiations with Israel): “Syria speaks for itself. We don’t believe that this affects our right and duty in defending our homeland. Negotiations are negotiations and the resistance is resistance,” he explained. “Our basic stand is that Arab rights can only be regained through the resistance and liberation strategy. (…) We don’t believe in negotiating with the enemy. If some states want to try this option, let them try. The resistance persists irrespective of these negotiations.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli government has reacted to the ministerial statement of the new Lebanese government (see a previous post) by announcing it will now hold the entire country responsible for Hizbullah actions. Haaretz writes: This decision on Wednesday by the security cabinet represents a change in Israeli policy, after always firmly separating Hezbollah and the Lebanese government. Oh yeah, we all remember how careful the IDF was, back in the summer of 2006, not to hurt any Lebanese citizens, army soldiers or state property, and how carefully they distinguished between military installations and, say, oil terminals, convoys of fleeing civilians, red cross ambulances and UN posts… Can these people actually keep a straight face while spouting all those lies?

All this while the Lebanese parliament, for the first time in over two years, is not only convening but engaging in an actual debate, in casu on the ministerial statement, i.e. on approving the new government and its policy. An overwhelming majority is expected to approve the new government.

And lastly for today, the Daily Star recently carried an interesting article which discusses how the French legislation adopted by mandate-era Lebanon in the 1920s actually deprived women of rights and freedoms they enjoyed under the late Ottoman legislation that preceded it: ‘To cite but a few examples, the Code Napoleon dictates that a woman is: (1) not entitled to access schools and universities; (2) incapable of signing a contract or administering her own worldly goods; (3) not entitled to political rights; (4) forbidden to work without her husband’s approval; (5) unable to dispose of her own salary; and (6) forbidden to travel without her husband’s permission. In fact, the Code Napoleon relegated women to a position of legal incapacity – the same category occupied by criminals, the mentally ill, and children. Later, under the Third Republic, a French wife was assigned the legal status of “minor.” Similarly, the Victorian English woman found that her married status placed her in the position of “coverture,” a legal category whereby her status in the law was “merged” with that of her husband. By stripping her of her very legal identity, “coverture” made it impossible for the Victorian wife to enter any type of contract or defend her rights in court without her husband’s presence and approval. For her to take legal action against him was consequently unimaginable. The contrast between this situation and that of Lebanon’s pre-colonial past is all the more remarkable, as women under Ottoman rule enjoyed a relatively independent civil status and full legal capacity. A mature Ottoman wife was in fact granted a number of rights denied to her Western counterpart. Enjoying an independent entity and full legal capacity even after marriage, the Ottoman wife was entitled to keep whatever property she had before entering into a marriage contract, and to have sole possession and control over any acquisition she makes while being married. In fact, the Ottoman wife was able to enter into contractual agreements and enjoyed the freedom to use the court system in order to secure her rights independently of her husband (or anyone else for that matter).’

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