THE ROVING EYE
of resistance By Pepe Escobar
As southern Lebanon is turned into a
wasteland mirroring the Gaza gulag, Washington
neo-cons may stridently celebrate the contours of
a final solution for the Hamas-Hezbollah
"problem". Or should they?
feverish military machine at least conveys the
impression it knows exactly what it's doing - with
its made-in-the-USA bombs destroying not just
military but civilian targets. But this does not
mean Israel is winning its war against Hezbollah.
What Israel wants In March,
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised that he
would officially announce
Israel's "new" and in theory "final" borders
before 2010. Olmert has committed his government
to finish the wall separating Israel from
Palestine. Israel will then retreat inside its
wall. There was never any intent by Olmert to deal
with the duly elected government of Palestine led
As far as Lebanon is concerned,
Israel wants nothing less than a permanent buffer
zone on its northern flank. And if Lebanon turns
into an Iraq, even better - although the Lebanese
have learned the hard way about sectarianism and
won't "Iraqify" their own country. Beirut will be
rebuilt - again, and again the Hariri clan (with
its dodgy deals with the US and the Saudis) will
plunge Lebanon in further debt purgatory with
regard to the International Monetary Fund and the
World Bank, as the clan did in the previous
There's also the
all-important matter of the waters of the Litani
River in southern Lebanon. Israel might as well
prepare the terrain now for the eventual
annexation of the Litani.
Israel is mostly interested also in Syria. The
motive: the all-important pipeline route from
Kirkuk, in Iraqi Kurdistan, to Haifa. Enter Israel
as a major player in Pipelineistan. So Israel
wants to grab water (and territory) from
Palestine, water (and territory) from Lebanon and
oil from Iraq. This all has to do with the
inevitable - the 21st-century energy wars.
This is how we do it Gerald
Steinberg, professor of political science at
Bar-Ilan University, says that "of all of Israel's
wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel
was most prepared". Since 2000, in fact, when
Hezbollah forced Israel out of occupied southern
As the San Francisco Chronicle
reported, already in 2005 the Israelis circulated
a "Three Week War" plan - as it unfolds now,
almost to the letter - around selected Washington
think-tanks and Bush administration officials. The
plan was disclosed by an anonymous Israeli army
officer equipped with a PowerPoint presentation.
In this war plan, the first week would be
dedicated to destroy Hezbollah's long-range
missiles, bomb its command-and-control centers,
and bomb transportation and communication routes.
That has already happened, at least in theory; but
although southern Lebanon has been turned into a
new Grozny, Hezbollah seems never to extinguish
its stockpile of 12,000 rockets.
second week would concentrate on attacks on
individual sites of rocket launchers and weapons
caches. Instead, we have seen the continuation of
non-stop, indiscriminate attacks. Ground forces
would enter the war in the third week - that's
where we are now - but only to attack targets
discovered during reconnaissance missions (these
are ongoing). This plan did not call for a ground
invasion and occupation of southern Lebanon.
There's not much to occupy anyway - it's all been
turned to rubble.
Only the foolish or the
misinformed may doubt that this war is also a
Pentagon war. As their mutual interest is obvious
- Hezbollah must be destroyed - the only detail to
be established is who wagged the other's tail
first. According to the US-Israel axis' plan,
cutting off Hezbollah from Lebanese society would
lead to a vulnerable Syria extricating itself from
a close relationship with Iran. That's pure
wishful thinking, because what Syria wants back is
the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights - and that's
anathema for Olmert and the Likudniks.
A Vietcong master class Some,
but still only a few, Israelis - sometimes in the
columns of the daily newspaper Ha'aretz - are
beginning to notice that this carnage will lead
nowhere. There are no more than 5,000 Hezbollah
guerrillas in Lebanon. Hezbollah the political
party - heavily involved in health, education and
social services - is what really matters for
Lebanese. It's absurd to pretend to destroy a
movement with such popular support as Hezbollah.
Secular democrats may not empathize with the
movement, but any serious Middle East observer
cannot question its legitimacy.
It's as if
the Israeli military machine were betting on the
elimination of the Shi'ites from Lebanon (they're
the majority of the population already) without
facing any consequences. Israelis have reasons to
believe it's doable. The mainstream US and
European media work as nothing but press offices
of Israel's Foreign Ministry.
remains "premature" (the whole world is for it,
except the US, Britain and Israel). The House of
Saud - supported by the US-Israel axis - has de
facto encouraged a Sunni-Shi'ite war in the wider
Middle East (that fear of the Shi'ite crescent
again). It may take time, but the Arab street -
and radical Islam - will renew efforts to try to
hang the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and
Kuwait from lampposts sooner rather than later.
Fawaz Trabulsi, a professor at the American
University in Beirut, said, "Now you risk
producing something worse than Hezbollah, maybe
al-Qaeda No 2."
asymmetrical war effort is absorbing everything
thrown at it. Resistance is fueled by a mix of
beggar's banquet anger, creative military
solutions and Shi'ite martyr spirit. Hezbollah
fighters are using olive-green uniforms to confuse
the Israelis. According to Jane's Weekly,
Hezbollah has done a perfect Vietcong - its
fighters operating in a network of underground
reinforced bunkers and command posts near the
Lebanese-Israeli border almost unassailable by
Israel Defense Force bombs.
result is that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah
is ever more popular all over the Arab street.
Kind of like the new, 21st-century Saladin.
Hezbollah's moral and political cache could not
but rise among peoples and movements worldwide who
keep being bombed to oblivion but never had a
chance to bomb back.
For Hezbollah - as
well as for Hamas - "winning" means not being
disarmed and/or exterminated, the avowed goal of
the State of Israel. Apart from Mao Zedong in
China and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Hezbollah may
have also learned a lesson or two from the
battlefields of Chechnya - as it configures
itself, like the Chechens, as one of the only
guerrilla groups in the world capable of facing an
extremely powerful state army.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani was forced to issue
a fatwa denouncing the Israeli assault.
This means that Sistani knows very well Iraqi
Shi'ites may be on the verge of turning all their
anger against - who else - the occupying
The fatwa may
not be enough to appease them. Israel's rampage
has even unified Baghdad's parliament; Sunnis,
Shi'ites and Kurds took a unanimous vote
condemning Israel and calling for a ceasefire.
Fiery nationalist Muqtada al-Sadr, whose rising
influence rivals Sistani's in US President George
W Bush's "democratic" Iraq, hinted what may happen
when he said at his Friday sermon in Kufa, "I will
continue defending my Shi'ite and Sunni brothers,
and I tell them that if we unite, we will defeat
Israel without the use of weapons."
the few thousand Sunni Arab guerrillas bogging
down the mightiest army in history were not
enough, Muqtada's Mehdi Army has all the potential
to make life even more hellish for the Americans
The asymmetricals never
sleep So this is the way the "war on
terror" ends - not with a single bang but with the
multi-sonic bangs of asymmetrical actors getting
re-energized in their fight against the US-Israel
axis. The Israeli army could not put down a
Shi'ite guerrilla outfit in southern Lebanon - nor
a bunch of stone-throwing Palestinian kids, for
that matter. The US Army could not cope with a
bunch of scruffy Sunni Arabs armed with fake
Kalashnikovs. Sunnis or Shi'ites, stateless or in
failed states, freedom fighters or "terrorists",
they simply will not go away.
their own logic, equally impatient Washington
neo-cons and Israeli Likudniks would cherish
nothing better than the wholesale destruction of
civilian infrastructure in Iraq, Palestine and
Lebanon, and then in Syria and Iran.
happened in Iraq, and is still happening in Gaza
and now in Lebanon, spells that the world will
have to get used to a new reality. But against
this, the asymmetricals will not only be lurking
in the shadows; they will retaliate.