World View: Israel and Hezbollah May Be Close to War Again

REUTERS/Ali Hashisho
REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Belated Happy Hanukkah, Ramadan, Winter Solstice!
  • Hezbollah promises revenge for deadly Israeli airstrike in Syria
  • Israel and Hezbollah may be close to war again
  • Russia is sharing information with the Taliban in Afghanistan to fight ISIS

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Belated Happy Hanukkah, Ramadan, Winter Solstice!

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!

Hezbollah promises revenge for deadly Israeli airstrike in Syria

Hezbollah’s leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah leader promised revenge against Israel, “and we will pick the time, place and manner to do so,” in retaliation for Israel’s assassination of Samir Kuntar, a former Hezbollah commander. Kuntar was killed on Sunday in an Israeli airstrike on a residential building in the suburbs near Damascus, the capital city of Syria.

The airstrike represented a fairly significant achievement, in view of the intelligence required to identify the safehouse where Kuntar was located, and to coordinate the airstrike with Russia, which controls the air space over Damascus. We wrote about this coordination earlier this month ( “6-Dec-15 World View — Israel bombs targets in Syria with Russia’s tacit cooperation”), and there is increasing evidence that Russia and Israel are sharing intelligence. Israel has allegedly conducted other airstrikes in Syria, usually targeting convoys delivering Iranian weapons to Hezbollah.

Nasrallah has suggested that revenge would take the form of another war against the Zionist entity, but a war at this time may not be possible.

First, Hezbollah is still heavily engaged in Syria, where some 1,300 to 1,500 of its fighters have been killed in battle, and about 5,000 injured. In July, Israel Radio reported that Hezbollah had arrested 175 of its own fighters after they refused to take part in battles in the Syrian city of Zabadani, close to the border with Lebanon. So Hezbollah may simply not have the manpower at this time to even attempt a new war with Israel.

Second, Israel’s airstrikes in Syria bombing Hezbollah and Iranian targets, and they have been met with the approval, or at least the tacit approval, of Russia. This suggests that any Hezbollah war with Israel will not be supported by Russia, and may even be opposed by Israel and Russia as allies. Russia is in Syria for Russia, not for Iran and not for Hezbollah. In fact, Iran is actually losing territory in Syria that it thought it had gained. The Russia-Israel coordination of Israel’s strikes at Iran-Hezbollah targets must be a bitter blow to Nasrallah.

However, all-out war is not Nasrallah’s only choice. The revenge could take the form of terrorist attacks or border attacks. In fact, shortly after the Israeli airstrike killing Kuntar, three rockets were fired from southern Lebanon towards Israel. Israel retaliated with some eight rounds of 120mm mortar, but no casualties were reported from either side.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced great concern today over Monday’s firing of rockets from South Lebanon towards Israel, calling it “a serious violation” of the ceasefire. He noted Israel’s retaliatory mortar attack, and urged maximum restraint.

Whatever form Nasrallah’s revenge may take, Israel’s military is warning Nasrallah that Nasrallah and Hezbollah would be making a big mistake if they perpetrated a lethal terror attack in an attempt to avenge Kuntar’s assassination, and they promised a “disproportionate response” to any Hezbollah attacks. CNN and Times of Israel and Lebanon Now and YNet (Israel) and United Nations

Israel and Hezbollah may be close to war again

Ever since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah ended, things have been pretty quiet between the two.

In fact, the 2006 war was pretty much a surprise to both sides and a disaster for both sides.

The war was triggered when two Israeli soldiers were ambushed and kidnapped while on patrol near the border with Lebanon. Israel panicked and launched the Lebanon war with Hezbollah within four hours, with no plan, no objective, and no idea what was going on. The Israelis then blundered from one objective to the next, until the war finally ended.

Hezbollah’s leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said after the war that he had underestimated Israel’s response to the ambush. Many Lebanese people blame Hezbollah for causing the war, which resulted in huge destruction to much of Lebanon’s infrastructure, and Nasrallah apologized to the Lebanese people. Lebanon was split between those favoring Israel and those favoring Hezbollah, but no matter which side they were on, they didn’t want anything like it to happen again.

It’s now been almost ten years since then, and there have been plenty of “lessons learned” on both sides. Both sides have much more advanced weaponry, and both sides will be much more militarily aggressive.

In 2006, Hezbollah was launching a little more than 100 rockets a day into Israel, and mostly into neighborhoods in northern Israel. Since then, Iran has supplied Hezbollah with a huge stockpile of much more accurate and powerful rockets that can reach all the way into southern Israel, including airfields, headquarters, and economically important sites. In addition, Hezbollah will use the same kinds of tunnels and deep weapons stores that Hamas used effectively in the 2014 Gaza war.

In 2006, Israel considered itself to be at war with Hezbollah, and targeted Hezbollah infrastructure and assets in its airstrikes. In a new war, Israel will be at war not just with Hezbollah, but with all of Lebanon. According to one analysis, the internationally community will turn against Israel very quickly, as it always does, and so Israel must attack the Lebanese army and the infrastructure of Lebanon, including the airports and seaports, and destroy as much as possible within a few days.

Most analysts believe that there will be another war between Israel and Hezbollah, with certainly. However, this time it will not be a surprise. It will be well planned by both sides, and a lot deadlier and more destructive than last time. YNet (Israel) and Washington Institute (29-Jan-2015)

Russia is sharing information with the Taliban in Afghanistan to fight ISIS

Zamir Kabulov, a Foreign Ministry department head and President Vladimir Putin’s special representative for Afghanistan, says that Russia and the Taliban are sharing information in the fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). According to Kabulov:

The Taliban interest objectively coincides with ours in the fight against ISIS in Afghanistan. I have already said earlier that we and the Taliban have channels for exchanging information.

Russia has also been reported to be supplying weapons to the Afghan government as well as to India. Russia appears to be extending itself substantially. Washington Post

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Israel, Lebanon, Hezbollah, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Samir Kuntar, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Ban Ki-moon, Russia, Taliban, Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov
Permanent web link to this article
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.