It is very difficult to see how Israel can actually avoid attacking Syria. They and their US backers have set up Syria as the proverbial monster which they now have no option but to destroy. To a certain extent the same applies to Iran though, because Syria is closer, the logistics of Israel striking Syria are a lot less complex than trying to attack Iran, something the Israelis would prefer the US to do for them.
I stated in an earlier article that the Israelis are playing an extremely dangerous game. I said this in the context that Israel, if they continued pushing their weight around in the way that they are, will at some stage have to rely on some sort of major support from the US, particularly if the Syrians and/or the Iranians are physically drawn into the conflict.
However, the game that they are playing at the moment in Lebanon is not one that they can possibly win in the end, despite their military superiority, even if they shattered all of Lebanon by bombing it and then invading and occupying it from the south.
In invading Lebanon they will simply force Hizbollah to move northwards. Syria then will continue to arm them and Hizbollah will continue to respond to Israeli occupation by launching attacks against the occupying Israelis from their side of the Israeli created ‘buffer zone’ which, of necessity, will then need to be continually increased.
The Israeli strategy of hitting Lebanese infrastructure and calling it ‘Hizbollah infrastructure’ in the hope that Hizbollah will crumble does not work because Hizbollah are not buildings or bridges or roads or airports but people. So far the Israelis have succeeded in killing well over 400 people; very few of them, however, are actually Hizbollah fighters. Rather than hit Hizbollah where it hurts, Israel in fact has done a very good job of demolishing what little goodwill the Lebanese people did have toward the Israelis. The Israelis can kiss that goodbye for many years to come. Israel has also succeeded in creating a new generation of Hizbollah fighters and volunteers. If Israel continues its occupation of southern Lebanon as it did before, then these new recruits will be the ones they will need to face in the future as they avenge the loss of parents, homes, land, jobs and ‘infrastructure’.
Meanwhile, Hizbollah will continue its battle against the Israelis as the Israelis attempt to create their buffer zone and to consolidate their position inside of southern Lebanon. The US has allowed the Israelis time to do this by simple virtue of Condoleeza Rise not being in any rush to either demand that the Israelis halt their attacks or to convene further meetings to discuss how a peace plan can be put in place. How this can be done without any of the major players like Hizbollah, Syria or Iran being involved remains to be answered.
It is this factor that goes to the heart of the problem; there will be a diplomatic stalemate during which period the Israelis will continue to push into Lebanon. The Israelis clearly will do no deals with Hizbollah and Hizbollah will not be budging or giving away their land without a fight – a fight that inevitably will draw in Syria.
From the Israeli side there are some that are able to see that indeed Israel will have to attack Syria with some extreme right-wing Zionists insisting that the sooner this is done the better. Efraim Inbar, for example, an Israeli academic with neoconservative connections in the US and who advises the Israeli government, told Aljazeera.net “I advocate attacking Syria – to some extent we are wasting ammunition in Lebanon.” When asked if the peace process is now dead he replied, “Forget about it, it’s over.” Whether or not Inbar was privy to the Israeli government’s long term plans to attack Lebanon is not known, though, had he had any input to such planning, he would clearly have advocated taking on Syria as well or attacking Syria directly.
The problem with that scenario is that Israel would have had to have set up a pretext for doing so that would have to have been far more plausible than the story that their attack on Lebanon was in response to the capture of a couple of Israeli soldiers after Hizbollah fighters had ‘crossed into Israel’. (We now know, of course, that in fact the Israeli soldiers had actually crossed in to Lebanon when they were arrested and that the Israelis had planned their attack on Lebanon long before the Israeli soldiers were captured.)
The big problem as far as the Israelis are concerned is that a wide enough buffer zone would have to be created that would out-range any missile that Hizbollah have. This would be almost impossible without over-running Lebanon entirely since no matter where the Israelis are in Lebanon, Hizbollah will always be able to launch their missiles against them even if it’s into occupied territory. Israel, with all its military superiority, does not have anywhere near the wherewithal to be able to launch a full scale invasion and occupation of all of Lebanon to be able to succeed in eliminating Hizbollah. Nor indeed would Syria allow it to.
The buzz words now coming from Israel, the US and their Western and Arab allies is of a ‘sustainable peace’. It has, however, become a euphemism serving two purposes. First, it buys more time for the Israelis to continue attacking Lebanon because the Israelis, the US and their allies have said that there is no point in having an immediate ceasefire until a ‘sustainable peace’ can be achieved. Second, one needs to ask; what does a sustainable peace actually mean? On what terms would a ‘sustainable peace’ be achieved? Does ‘sustainable peace’, from the Israelis point of view, mean that they continue to have the upper hand in controlling the Palestinians and their lands and unilaterally making decisions about where borders are going to be?
And, of course, therein lies the rub. The only terms on which Israel are likely to disengage are those that see Hizbollah not just disarmed, but dismantled as an organisation bearing in mind that the US, Israel and their Western allies regard Hizbollah as a ‘terrorist’ organisation. This simply will not happen.
The other question that needs to be asked is; with whom will this ‘sustainable peace’ be negotiated? Clearly Syria and Iran will need to be at the table. But this is hardly likely to occur considering the stance Israel and Iran have adopted against each other.
The Rome meeting of 26 July 2006 that was arranged to discuss how a ‘sustainable peace’ might be organised ended in failure with no agreement being reached other than an agreement that somehow at some time an agreement does have to be reached. On the major issue of who should and shouldn’t be involved, there was major disagreement between the UN and the US. The UNs Koffi Anan, furious over the deaths of four UN peacekeepers deliberately killed by the Israelis, insists that Syria and Iran must be involved in talks while Rice insisted they should not be involved because of their ‘role in the region’. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, the Gaza and the West Bank the killing goes on unabated.
The only ‘sustainable peace’ that will be acceptable to the Israelis and their US allies is one where Israel continues to occupy and annex the Gaza and the West Bank on a permanent basis without interference from the Palestinians, the Lebanese or any of the surrounding Arab states – particularly Syria.
Every day that now goes by puts the Israelis in an increasingly weaker position despite its military superiority. As Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times reports, “with each passing day, the sight of an Arab force hitting Israel with rockets makes Hezbollah increasingly popular across the region and therefore more costly to restrain, particularly because the Israelis have labelled the struggle a death match.”
Israel has expended a massive amount of effort to achieve their aims of eliminating Hizbollah without any success whatsoever. All they have achieved is massive amounts of civilian deaths in Lebanon, massive amounts of damage to the Lebanese people’s infrastructure, and they have brought death and destruction upon themselves in doing so.
The aim of the Israeli attack on Hizbollah and the Lebanese people was to drag the Syrians into the war and get the US to attack Iran.
This is still yet to come. The Israelis had not expected Hizbollah to resist as long as they have in the face of such terrible bombardment and invasion without asking Syrian forces to help directly defend Lebanon. The Israelis, unable to accept their own surprise losses in their limited invasion of southern Lebanon, have faltered and reverted to aerial and artillery bombardment. They are losing in Lebanon despite the massive damage and loss of life. They now either need to pull back entirely and sue for peace or attack Syria and hope that the US will attack Iran.
Either way it will all end in disaster all round. Particularly for the Israeli people.
 Damian Lataan, ‘It seems Israel planned deliberate provocation of Hamas and Hizbollah’, lataan.blogspot, 13 July 2006. Available online: http://lataan.blogspot.com/2006/07/it-seems-israel-planned-deliberate.html Accessed 24 July 2006.
 Simon Tisdall and Ewan MacAskill, ‘Iran warns the west: ignore us at your peril’, The Guardian, 26 July 2006. Available online: http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1830139,00.html Accessed 26 July 2006.
 Rachel Shabi, ‘The focus should be on Damascus’, Aljazeera.net, 24 July 2006. Available online: http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/554FAF3A-B267-427A-B9EC-54881BDE0A2E.htm?printguid=%7b010676D6-1F09-456F-8C16-6BD44499A644} Accessed 26 July 2006.
 Joseph Panossian, ‘Hezbollah captures 2 Israeli soldiers’, Forbes.com, 12 July 2006. Available online: http://www.forbes.com/technology/feeds/ap/2006/07/12/ap2873051.html Accessed 26 July 2006.
 ‘An Israeli spy network arrested in Lebanon’ Syrian Arab News Agency, 22 July 2006. Available online: http://www.sana.org/eng/22/2006/07/22/50010.htm%20Accessed%2026%20July%202006. See also:
Yaakov Katz, ‘Reservists called up for Lebanon strike’, Jerusalem Post, 12 July 2006. Available online: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1150885978380&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull Accessed 13 July 2006.
 Condoleeza Rice, ‘Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice With Israeli Foreign Minister Livni in Jerusalem’, US Department of State, 24 July 2006. Available online: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2006/69409.htm Accessed 27 July 2006.
 Robin Wright and Fred Barbash,’ Nations Fail to Reach Agreement on Middle East Ceasefire’, Washington Post, 26 July 2006. Available online: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/26/AR2006072600289.html Accessed 27 July 2006.
 ‘Israel strike on Gaza kill 24’, Yahoo!news, 27 July 2006. Available online: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/060726/1/42co4.html Accessed 27 July 2006.
 Neil MacFarquhar, ‘Why Syria Has Much to Lose if Hezbollah Is Finally Halted’, New York Times, 25 July 2006. Available online: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/26/world/middleeast/26syria.html Accessed 26 July 2006.