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Europe Incapable Again

21 August 2006

By Yisrael Ne’eman

As everyone argues over who won the Hezbollah War (Second Lebanese War) the big loser appears to be the West in general. According to a poll taken last week in Egypt the three most popular figures are Islamists Hassan Nasrallah of the Hezbollah, Khaled Mashal of the radical wing of the Hamas and Iranian President Ahmedinejad. Western secularism and moderation are of little value in the Arab world’s most populous nation. Furthermore, the Egyptian regime led by Hosni Mubarak has a peace agreement with Israel and is considered pro-West. When speaking of peace keeping forces this can be taken as indicative of Arab society which views any Western involvement in Lebanon as temporary and lacking in resolve. Certain Lebanese like PM Fuad Siniora may be pro-West but these are lightweights with little influence. Overall the Arab world is anti-European (western values) no less than it is anti-American.

The Hezbollah will neither disarm nor leave south Lebanon. With another round of battle on the horizon, the Iranian supported and trained militia is once again digging in under the umbrella of south Lebanese civilians while rearming with military equipment sent from Syria.

 

At the outset the Europeans spoke of a multi-national force of 15,000 but later preferred an expanded role in the existing UNIFIL arrangement. Putting pressure on Israel and the USA, both agreed to this compromise, leaving Jerusalem caught in the middle of a major military operation to root out the Hezbollah presence in south Lebanon. Now the Europeans are having second and third thoughts. France was to commit 2,500 – 4,000 troops but has approved only 200, the Germans may send some logistical supply help but are facing a 2/3rds popular disapproval of any involvement and the Italians are now speaking of sending 2000 troops as opposed to the original 3000, but none have arrived. The mandate and objectives of an expanded UNIFIL under European command are unclear. None will agree to disarm the Hezbollah. Even a joint UNIFIL/European/Lebanese army force is incapable of removing the Khomeinists from Israel’s northern border.

The European hesitation and lack of commitment is projecting weakness and fear, just as Nasrallah calculated. Even should troops eventually arrive, they will be held hostage by the Hezbollah in the next round of fighting - to be initiated at Nasrallah’s convenience. Although the “peace keepers” will be allowed to defend themselves if attacked, any casualties inflicted on the Hezbollah will be avenged by terror attacks against their home nations as a disincentive to enforcing UN Res. 1701 or any other agreement. The European led UN force is destined to complete failure and will flee just like the joint US/French/Italian peace keeping force did when under attack in Beirut in 1983.

In the meantime with Aug. 31 as the “final” date for Tehran to halt its nuclear weapons program one can expect the UN to accept an Iranian “compromise” (delay) to buy time. Yesterday UN inspectors were barred from uranium enrichment sites by Iran. The West believes in negotiations, while Ahmedinejad knows he is dealing with a new generation of appeasers. Tehran is threatening to rocket Israel (interpretation: southern Europe as well) should the West take any physical preventive action against their nuclear facilities.

Conclusion: Israel needs to finish with the Hezbollah, removing them from her northern border before Iran goes nuclear. Hopefully the Europeans (if they make it to south Lebanon) and UNIFIL will get out of the way.