Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fallout of Failed Israeli Raid

By Juan Cole

"Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that the Israeli raid into the Biqa' was aimed at kidnapping a prominent Hizbullah leader, or possibly recovering captured Israeli soldiers. The official Israeli cover story is that they were preventing the supply of arms to Hizbullah by Syria. But that makes no sense. Why would you send a special ops team into a village near Baalbak to stop truck shipments? You would just mount an air raid on the truck. You send in a team of men to capture someone.

Why would the Israelis risk reopening the war? The Olmert government at the moment looks like a loser, especially to the Israeli public, and needs to pull off a big win. What if they could capture a leader like Yazbek? Or free the 2 captured Israeli soldiers? All of a sudden they would be heroes, not losers. So the impetus is there for further adventurism.

The raid, instead of rehabilitating Olmert, was another fiasco. Hizbullah appears effectively to have fought it off, killing an Israeli officer and inflicting injuries on others in the party. Shaikh Yazbek remains at large, and Hizbullah is passing out crisp $100 bills to Lebanese Shiites, getting credit for being more well organized than the government. Kofi Annan condemned it. Siniora threatened to suddenly become less cooperative. It did not exactly help Bush recruit more troops from France for the south. France wants a peace keeping mission, not a hot war that might engulf its soldiers, and Olmert just confirmed Paris's suspicions that the French are being suckered into a combat situation. Olmert wants to be Yitzhak Rabin, who presided over the Entebbe operation. But he instead keeps coming up with Operation Eagle Claw and more of a Jimmy Carter image (circa 1979) inside Israel."

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