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A Meaningless War - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Look at the figures and it will reflect more clearly the pain and terror that the Lebanese are experiencing following the intense Israeli campaign after the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers and the deaths of eight others at the hands of Hezbollah.

The magnitude of the damage that has afflicted Lebanon and its people reminds us of large-scale wars that are undeclared and unprepared for.

The losses so far have been great, as tens of Lebanese have been killed and key locations have been demolished including roads and bridges that may take months or even years to rebuild. These facilities were built with the help of international and Arab aid; however, these countries would not fund such projects again as long as the reason is clear.

The question that deserves an answer is who is the victim? The three million Lebanese who have been directly harmed or others? The majority of victims are Lebanese Shiaa, rather than Sunnis or Christians. Those who have been most affected are the foundations of Hezbollah that has been targeted by the Israeli bombardment.

The question that is asked repeatedly is whether the raid that targeted the Israeli patrol, which resulted in the deaths of eight Israeli soldiers and the kidnapping of two others, really deserves this reaction. We shall leave this question to be answered by anybody who wishes to philosophize on the real losses, but the outcome is clear, it has not achieved what it set out to achieve.

What is surprising is that Hezbollah had remained distinct from Palestinian factions because it knew when to move forward, how far to go and when to retreat. Therefore, it had always been the least active in operations, but the most precise at aiming, as well as the most successful. This time it seems that the movement has found itself in an awkward position, forcing them to carry out the initial raid that ultimately led to the Israeli attack.

I do not believe that Hezbollah’s planners were unaware that Israel has a new prime minister whose potential powers are still unknown. They should be fully aware that the new prime minister is eager to engage in any battle since he succeeded Ariel Sharon. Olmert is searching for war at any cost and the opportunity was found after the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier in Gaza followed by the kidnapping of another two soldiers in Lebanon. Olmert wants to go to war, just as a prominent politician who predicted the Israeli bombardment said one week ago, to show the Israeli voters that he is powerful. Olmert is no Sharon, Peres, Rabin or Netanyahu, who used to show off their military and political histories against the Arabs. Today, the majority of Israelis support Olmert as he has transformed the hostage taking operations into a major issue and has declared war on parties that are not remotely as powerful as Israel.

The most important question is what will happen after? It is likely that after the military operations, Israel will release a thousand Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in return for the release of its three soldiers. All parties will then announce their victories. I hope that then you will look carefully at the situation and whether it was a victory bearing in mind the number of victims, the suffering, the politics and the damages.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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