Sunday, July 30, 2006

Thanks To Hezbollah

Lebanon's prime minister thanks Hezbollah for defending his country--not surprisingly, without mentioning that Lebanon was attacked because of the terrorist's group continuing presence and influence in that country in the first place and his government's inability to control its activities, including provocation of Israel.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuoad Siniora expressed his 'gratitude' to Hizbullah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah for "sacrificing their lives for the country."

During a press conference held in wake of the Qana village incident in which 55 Lebanese were killed, Siniora asked: "Is Israel's mission to wipe out the Lebanese? It seems they want to kill all of us. One of those killed today is a baby just one day old. With its aggression, Israel is encouraging extremism."
He said that "in order to reach a general ceasefire Israel must pull back to its borders. Then, Lebanon will fulfill its obligations according to the seven clauses approved by the government."

Among others, the Lebanese government committed itself to an immediate ceasefire, the deployment of its army across all of Lebanon including the south, and the applying of a law according to which only the Lebanese army can carry weapons across the whole of the country.

The problem with this, of course, is that Lebanon has failed to keep its end of the bargain since Israel pulled out six years ago--and, in fact, have we not repeatedly been told that the Lebanese government can't do anything about Hezbollah? Isn't that partly why the Israeli attack has been characterized as unfair? How, then is Lebanon supposed to exert control over Hezbollah now, disarm its members and ensure that weapons are born only by the Lebanese army? Does the latter have power and authority now that it didn't before?

And even if the government miraculously and suddenly has a measure of control that it claimed it didn't so very recently, how credible can its promises be, not just in light of its actions and inactions over a number of years, but in light of Siniora's expressing his "full admiration for Nasrallah and all those who sacrifice their lives for Lebanon"?

It's hard to imagine Israel agreeing to a ceasefire that doesn't also include Hezbollah (and vice versa) given how far this down the path this engagement as gone. How can Siniora possibly think it helpful, at this juncture, to praise Nasrallah? Because it seems to me that in appearing to move closer to Hezbollah, the Lebanese PM is reducing incentive for an Israel to compromise, not increasing it. And it also bolsters the argument that part of what Israel feared to begin with was Lebanon's vulnerability to being co-opted by Hezbollah and its attitudes.

Of course, Siniora's got plenty of opinion on his side against Israel and on the side Hezbollah, which may explain his apparent confidence.

Tonight, I'm thinking that I was too upbeat earlier today--which sure isn't how it felt this morning. How did I forget rule #1 in the Mideast: Never underestimate how much worse things can get, and how quickly.