FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely

During an interview on 2/28/18 with, the Iranian journalist, Fariba Pajooh, a friend of many of us, Professor Noam Chomsky, emphasized the imminence of a devastating Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon. He explained that: “There is a significant likelihood that real hostilities will break up between Israel and Hezbollah, which will probably mean the invasion of Lebanon by Israel. Israel will bombard Lebanon, which will mean the destruction of Lebanon. Israel is committed to their Dahiya doctrine, as they call it, which means they will go to war against any provocation. And it could just blow up the Iranian installations which are not too far from the Israeli border. Israel won’t allow anything near its borders. So, I think that is a very volatile and dangerous situation.”

Since first meeting Professor Chomsky in his MIT office nearly four decades ago while I was a student of his friend Professor Jerome Cohen at Harvard Law Schools, East Asia Legal Studies Center, studying the Chinese (Mao Tse Tung’s Cultural Revolution) “Legal system”, I have followed Professor Chomsky work and his activities as a US foreign policy critic, historian, social critic and political activist. Like many of us I would normally no sooner second-guess Noam Chomsky’s Middle East foreign policy analyses than I would the late Stephen Hawking’s theories about our Universe.

But geostrategic calculations are unfolding fast in Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Israel and the region and quite recent events suggest to this observer that a Hezbollah-Israel war is not on the horizon. A war between Hezbollah and Israel may be inevitable but based on this observer’s analysis it is not imminent. Focusing on recent developments in Syria and Lebanon offers scant evidence that either Israel, Hezbollah or Iran are interested in starting another war. There are several reasons for this stalemate including, but not limited to the factors noted below.

In the coming year, but more likely well beyond, Hezbollah and its sponsors in Tehran will be shackled fighting in Syria. A major war with Israel is extremely risky for them. Despite be able to inflict serious damage on Israel; such a war would ignite a fierce Israeli response that could decimate Hezbollah and Iranian forces and bases in Syria and undermine Iran’s regional goals. Iran theocratic leadership is cautious and its unlikely that it would take that risk.

Even frequent Israeli bombings over the past few years have not elicited much of a Hezbollah, Iran or Syrian response. For example, all still deny the 2007 Israeli attack on a nuclear reactor being built in Deir ez-Zor a decade ago. The reason being their inability to react militarily without risking destruction of their forces.

Iran can no longer afford to risk Israel destroying Hezbollah which serves Tehran in many ways. If Israel were to bomb Iran’s nuclear weapons sites, Iran could order Hezbollah to do its utmost to damage Israel. But today the chances of such an Israeli strike appear increasing remote, considered unnecessary given the global focus on Iran’s potential nuclear sites. In addition, Hezbollah has become a key part of the new Iranian empire in the region, fighting in Syria and training Shi‘a militias alongside Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. So Hezbollah is needed by Iran even more today than was previously the case.

Iran and Hezbollah also are keenly aware that Israel has been developing its military capabilities since 2006 and readying itself for the next war. And Israel knows the same about Hezbollah. For Israel, victory means Hezbollah’s complete destruction. Therefore, Israel won’t rush into a war that Hezbollah might survive.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah is stretched thin in more than three countries, and a war with Israel could jeopardize Hezbollah’s and Iran’s recent gains in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Meanwhile, Israel will continue its targeted attacks on Hezbollah’s weapons convoys and depots with impunity. Hezbollah will not confront Israel from south Lebanon unless Tehran orders it to or it has achieved its goals in in Syria and that will take a long time, if ever, to achieve.

Meanwhile, as Hanin Ghaddar has explained, Israel knows well that in a future war with Hezbollah that it could face as many of its 150,000 rockets—compared to the 33,000 Hezbollah had in 2006. Writes Ghaddar, “Hezbollah, with Iran’s help has built missile factories in Lebanon and Syria, meaning they have guidance systems that will cause serious damage to Israeli population centers. In addition, Hezbollah is now part of an army of 200,000 Shi‘a fighters from Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, under the command of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. An Israeli war with Hezbollah, therefore, could mean a war with Iran’s foreign legion.”

There are some current factors that could increase the prospects for a future Hezbollah-Israel war, but not immediately.

Given that rebels in Syria are in many areas currently on the defensive, and even though ISIS is staging comebacks and the war is widely predicted to last for several more years, Iran and Hezbollah are using the chaos to make whatever gains possible toward establishing prominence in Syria and Lebanon with respect to taking over the economy, military and security agencies. This campaign, as noted above, includes increased documentation of Iran’s financing of arms and missile factories in Lebanon and incorporating Hezbollah more deeply into its “Regional Foreign Legion.”

Another relevant and growing factor is that for many in the region, the Trump Administration leadership vacuum is creating evermore pressure on US allies in the region with some contemplating taking matters into their own hands to replace the current desultory White House initiatives. Russia is filling this vacuum, which is stoking anxieties among the UK and EU as well as others. Absent focused U.S. leadership, Israel may strike out on its own to prevent Hezbollah from becoming the preeminent military force to its north

Also building pressure and skittishness along the southern Lebanese border is the fact that Israel is building a 7-meter-high wall border along a line demarcated by the United Nations in 2000, when Israel ended its 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon. Israel claims that the wall is needed to prevent Hezbollah attacks like the one that ignited the 2006 war, which claimed 1,200 Lebanese lives and more than 60 Israeli lives. Hezbollah has threatened military action if Israel begins constructing the wall. Tensions are rising according to UNIFIL which has 40,000 troops watching the border.

In addition, Lebanon last month approved a joint bid by Italian, French and Russian oil companies to explore off its coast for oil and gas. Israel claims a portion of the waters, but the competing claims are aggravating tensions between the countries. Hezbollah has also threatened to attack Israeli platforms in the Mediterranean extracting natural gas.

The Gaza Strip is restive and could ignite into a war at any time. With the increase in rocket attacks from Hamas and Israeli retaliatory strikes after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital late last year, another Israeli military distraction with Hamas could be seen by Hezbollah as a favorable opportunity to strike Israel from the north.

Another potential wild card are recent reports that Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah have formed an alliance in consultation with Russia and China to scuttle the White House Middle East ‘peace plan’ “by all means.” Hamas sources in the Gaza Strip, on 3/22/2018, advised the London-based Al Hayat newspaper that the discussions between the three parties — Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah have gone a long way on this matter” and are based on the belief that Trump’s plan, which he has described as the “deal of the century,” was the “most dangerous” in the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict. It was not immediately clear what type of military pushback effort the three claim they would mount to the US proposal, or what this latest development augurs.

A serious miscalculation is the most likely trigger to ignite another Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon should it happen. But over the past few years both Hezbollah and Israel have issued statements following a relatively moderate escalation expressing threats. But these ‘warnings’ are understood by both sides as a message that no escalation of a limited military incident with happen anytime soon.

Both sides appear to be working in concert in a sense, to avoid a new extremely risky war for the foreseeable future. And this serves the decimated civilian population of the region.

More articles by:

Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Lebanon, France, and USA based Meals for Syrian Refugee Children Lebanon (MSRCL) which seeks to provide hot nutritional meals to Syrian and other refugee children in Lebanon. http://mealsforsyrianrefugeechildrenlebanon.com. He is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com.

July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
George Ochenski
He Speaks From Experience: Max Baucus on “Squandered Leadership”
Ted Rall
Right Now, It Looks Like Trump Will Win in 2020
David Swanson
The Intelligence Community Is Neither
Andrew Moss
Chaos or Community in Immigration Policy
Kim Scipes
Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Get There?
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail