July 28, 2006

Hezbollah Cries Uncle?

Too soon to pop any champagne corks, but Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora may have convinced Hezbollah to submit to the government. The better of the two options highlighted by Michael Young (see below) might be kicking in.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 28, 2006 11:31 AM

Beat me to it. I just posted this in the comments section :)

What do you make of it?

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 28, 2006 11:33 AM

We posted at the same time. I pretty much agree with your take on it for now. We'll see what actually happens.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 28, 2006 11:39 AM

But Hezbollah lawmaker Hassan Fadlallah said that the Shiite militant group, which has long controlled much of southern Lebanon and refuses to give up its arms, was ready to consider all suggestions but only after a ceasefire was agreed.

And this is different in degree, from previous statements of both the Lebanese Government and Hezbollah?

I think not.

You cannot have a ceasefire and then TRUST Hezbollah to comply with a toothless Beirut Regime. If that is what was required it could have happened 2 weeks ago. Hell it could have happened without a shot being fired. Well if the Lebanese Government was involved it could have.

I'm sorry but this seems to me to be merely another verbal tap-dance around the problem, much like Iran saying repeatedly that it is 'considering' proposals on its nuclear stance, and that the latest 'offers' are 'attractive'. In other words, it's just words. Just as Iran is mocking the 'International Community', so Hezbollah is merely playing along with this meaningless word-dance. Why should they not? They get to demonstrate 'flexibility' , while never intending to actually commit to anything tangible.

This is more for internal Lebanese consumption and International PR, than a serious attempt to resolve the issue. If Israel agress to this without absolute guarantees of enforcement and compliance, from a credible source then they deserve to have Hezbollah sitting on their border laughing at them.

Posted by: dougf at July 28, 2006 12:00 PM

Probably it means they have been hurt some and want hudna. Time to die, Hezbollah. There is only one way to save Lebanon - to reduce them to the point where the remainder run to Syria (and hopefully mostly die trying) and the Lebanese can then establish true sovereignty. IMHO don't even support a multinational force, go right to the Lebanese army.

Posted by: jdwill at July 28, 2006 12:06 PM

yeh, like if I were hammering out a contract and said to you, "don't worry, after we sign an agreement, I will consider your proposal. The very notion is a joke. The language betrays itself. I think it is just buying time for Hezbollah to regroup. The good thing is I don't think the Bush Administration would let that slide.

Posted by: rick at July 28, 2006 12:31 PM

Elaph is claiming Hizbullah has actually agreed to disarm after being threatened with a multinational force that would disarm it by force if necessary. Posted an update on my blog.

Fingers crossed for Lebanon.

Posted by: Abu Kais at July 28, 2006 12:35 PM

Guys, guys,

You have to read PAST the rethoric when it comes to politics. At face value, Hezbollah still wants a cease-fire FIRST. And that's not what they're going to get. Condi Rice has made that very clear to them (through Berri). Israel has made that very clear as well.

However the real news here is the toning down on the Hezbollah side. They went from outright rejection of Siniora's points, a multinational force, and putting down their weapons to a much more realistic agreement on principle.

We're not there yet. And I, personally, am not sure how this will play out.

But in any conflict, both sides will posture some unrealistic goals, and eventually tone down to more realistic bargaining points. That's the nature of any conflict, even one with terrorists.

jdwill and dougf, as much as "Hezbollah must die" sounsd appealing, we both know that ain't gonna happen. Israel pretty much admitted to it when they downgraded their unrealistic goal of "wiping out Hezbollah" to "Creating a bufferzone".

What we're seeing here is Hezbollah downgrading their unrealistic posturing of never giving up, to something more realistic.

More needs to be done, but the end solution WILL be a diplomatic one. I've argued this point with you folks for 2 weeks now. And people still insist a military solution is an end in and of itself. History has proven that military solutions are nothing more than means to a better bargaining position at the eventual negotiating table.

In this case, Israel WILL get what they want:
- Safety for northern Israel and eventually a disarming of Hezbollah.

It just TAKES TIME and it won't be accomplished by a full scale invasion of Lebanon (which is probably the ONLY way to REALLY kill Hezbollah).

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 28, 2006 12:47 PM

Bad Vilbel,

How you be? We beat this out the other day on another thread. Now you probably know more about it than I, but I think we should not be in a hurry for a ceasefire. Inspite of the breathless MSM coverage, the fact remains that at first class army with artillery and air support has fixed (engaged in place) a guerrila light infantry. Time is on your side, Bad Vilbel.

Let the Israeli's reduce the Hezb so the task will easier for Lebanon. Unless you can demonstrate that airstrike damage is beyond pinpricks to Lebanon, I am going with the wide screen shots I have seen and the reporting at VitalPerspective dot com.

One question for you, and a concern that could ruin this scenario - could and would the Hezb displace into the other areas of Lebanon and pose a problem for the other groups? Do the other groups retain any arms? And will the Lebanese Army stand against the Hezb if this happens?

Okay, so it was three questions.

Posted by: jdwill at July 28, 2006 01:12 PM


I think Israel has done as much damage to Hezbollah as it can, without comitting to a full scale invasion. This is what I've been saying for a week or so. Short of a full scale invasion of Lebanon, the IDF really can't destroy Hezbollah completly. Which brings us to the ceasefire scenario now finally taking shape.

I think Israel made its point clear to Lebanon: We will not tolerate you lolligagging about disarming Hezbollah. I think that was the real goal here. Really annihilating Hezbollah was never a realistic one.

Now that the point's been made, it is going to be up to Lebanon and the International Community to implement the actual program of disarming Hezbollah. This is what we're seeing next.

As for your latter question, Hezbollah can only "exist" in the area where it enjoys local support and sectarian loyalty (read that to mean Shia). This is the South of Lebanon and the Bekaa-Baalbek area. The latter is the reason why Israel could never really have realistically expected to take out Hezbollah completly. Going into the Bekaa would've attracted Syria into this conflict, and that's a redline Israel is not willing to cross at the moment.

I hope i answered the question.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 28, 2006 01:24 PM

Bad Vilbel,

Points taken into consideration. I am not saying annihilate, I am saying reduce. The fact is that people indoctrinated into Jihad, and I believe the Hezb are, will never really settle down in the Lebanon you want. You are going to have to fight them sooner or later and as a Lebanese you should consider that less damage will be done to to your countries fragile balance if the Israelis do the killing now. Better than a civil war, IMHO.

I don't believe all of the Kabuki going on. If the Israelis are still running incursions and strikes in the southern perimeter, they are engaged and Hezb are dying as we speak. The reporting of deaths has been questionable:

(rough numbers from memory)
23 Israeli soldiers
17 Israeli civilians
350 Lebanese civilians
6 ??? Hezb

I just don't believe this [fog of war + propaganda lies]

Anyway, still very few facts forthcoming as to the real damage to Lebanon. I am aware that the loss of the tourist season is a major blow. I would like to get a better appraisal if you can help with this.

None of this is to say that the diplomatic solution and the stablized Lebanon you are predicting isn't coming to pass - keep fingers crossed.

Posted by: jdwill at July 28, 2006 01:44 PM

Wow, Hezbollah has agreed to their own original demands (Muslim murderers for Israeli prisoners exchange), UN involvement on the border (where they have been for 30 years, at best completely impotent and at worst de facto Hezbollah allies), and they're willing to stop shooting at Israel until it suits them to resume, so long as Israel stops shooting now. I didn't realize 'uncle' was Arabic for 'we win.'.

Posted by: bgates at July 28, 2006 05:19 PM
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