By Robert Fisk
Did you know that the Hizbollah "Party of God" has installed its own private communications network in the south of Lebanon, stretching from the village of Zawter Sharqiya all the way to Beirut? And why, I wonder, would it be doing that? Well, to safeguard its phones in the event that the Israelis immobilise the public mobile system in the next war. Next war? Well, if there's not going to be another war in Lebanon, why is Hizbollah building new roads north of the Litani river, new bunkers, new logistics far outside the area of operations of the Nato-led UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon?
Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbollah's leader, boasts of new weapons. The Lebanese suspect that these include anti-aircraft missiles. If this is true – and many Lebanese who have spent their lives under Israel's cruel air attacks, assaults which have often been war crimes, hope it is – then the next war will be anticipated with dark but keen anxiety. Since the Israeli army is incapable of fighting the Hizbollah on its own ground – its collapse when faced by Hizbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon last year proved this – what happens if their awesome air power is also neutered?
Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, ensconced in his little "green zone" in the old Turkish serail, can do little to alter the course of this coming battle. Supplied with bombs by the Americans so that the Lebanese army can continue to blast its way through the Palestinian Nahr el-Bared refugee camp – one of the most uncovered stories of the Middle East year – his government can do no more than wonder at the resistance of the ruthless non-Hizbollah Islamist insurgents who are still holding out there. The US ambassador watches approvingly as the Lebanese army continues to "advance" amid strongholds and bunkers at a cost of almost 140 soldiers' lives although, after four months of "advancing" – as one western NGO remarked to me a few days ago – they might soon, at this rate, reach Cyprus.
One can only reflect on how the US ambassador to Tel Aviv reacts when the Americans supply bombs to the Israelis which are then used on the Palestinians of Gaza. Weapons are always available to blast away at the Palestinians......."