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What the War Failed to Show… - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Finally, after much anticipation, the UN’s call for a “full cessation of hostilities” rather than a ceasefire was unanimously approved by the Security Council after a month brutal fighting between Lebanon and Israel. As the resolution was approved, the famous American instigative journalist Seymour Hersh carried out research that can be described as “worthwhile and interesting information,” especially as it was published in the New Yorker periodical that is known for its stringent and accurate editorial policy. In his report, Hersh stated that the Israeli attack on Lebanon had been coordinated beforehand with the administration of American President George W Bush, and that Israel had awaited a suitable opportunity to justify its attack on Lebanon. It was apparent that the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers at the hands of Hezbollah was the excuse that Israel required to launch its attack. The scenario was similar to that of 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon following the foiled attempt to assassinate the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom in London by the Abu Nidal Organization (that opposed Fatah and the PLO). Israel recently prepared itself by finely selecting a team of veteran legal counsels to justify its military strikes, especially those that have destroyed vital areas such as airports, power plants and residential districts.

Israel’s pretense for war was that Hezbollah had kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, therefore was entitled to do “anything” to ensure their release. So according to this logic, South Korea should have bombed North Korea after the latter audaciously sunk a South Korean warship and similarly, Egypt would have been correct to declare war on Israel after four Egyptian border guards were killed by Israeli forces.

This scenario has unfolded as Ehud Olmert holds the leading position in Israel as Prime Minister. Olmert has never been the leader of the right-wing Likud Party to which Ariel Sharon belonged before they both established the new Kadima party. Rather, Olmert was always considered “common and a clown,” by many analysts and political experts. Hence, he assumed power with a complex and desire to demonstrate his worthiness of holding such a position. It is also important to remember that Olmert has no military background apart from his minor role as a military press correspondent, which he considers military service. Olmert unlike Rabin, Barak and Sharon is no military figure. For that reason, Olmert was keen to execute a military strike to grant him credibility and to “buy” him the legitimacy that was missing since he assumed power whilst Sharon remained in his coma. Olmert’s search for legitimacy through military victory reminds us of Saddam Hussein, George Bush Junior, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. The common factor between them is that they all lack a military background whilst trying to convince the world that they are professional military leaders.

It is difficult to “swallow” the Israeli claim that the attack on Lebanon was a spontaneous and innocent reaction. The readiness that was demonstrated by Hezbollah, which had surprised everybody, indicates that Hezbollah was prepared for an extraordinary battle. Israel’s violent and immediate reaction shows also that the war plan only needed a suitable pretext on which the war could be based and Israel was granted this. There are parts of this war that are yet to be revealed, as well as key players who remain unknown. Olmert has paid a heavy price for his adventure as his level of popularity in Israel dropped from 70% to 30%. Israel was also at loss as it experienced its highest number of deaths during confrontation with Arabs including both civilian and military casualties.

On the Arab level, it is unclear whether we should be happy or not about recent events in Lebanon. Over one thousand Lebanese have died and thousands have been wounded and displaced following Israeli attacks on the country. Furthermore, hundreds of buildings and bridges have been demolished, representing a hefty humanitarian bill that needs to be covered. Who will bear these expenses and who will be accountable for them? This question remains unanswered.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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