Syria holds the key

If Israel wants to uproot Hizbullah, the price will be returning the Golan Heights to Syria.

After 12 days of indecisive combat, and with no military breakthrough in the war against Hizbullah on the horizon, the uncomfortable feeling emerges that even if Hizbullah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah was surprised by Israels reaction, his organization was readier and more prepared for the current fighting than the IDF. One of the IDFs failures in this war was mental. Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedy has already called Nasrallah a gang leader. The distinction is critical, because history teaches that regular armies are unable to dismantle guerilla armies.

The worlds two superpowers knows this from experience: the US against the Vietcong in the bloody war in Vietnam in the 1960s, and today in Iraq; and the USSR in Afghanistan, where the Soviet Army could not defeat the Mujaheddin in the 1980s.

Faced with cuts in the defense budget, the IDF failed to warn that a new threat had arisen in the north, and that Hizbullah had essentially become a strategic, and even an existential, threat, because the Shiite militia-cum-army would launch its arsenal of Katyusha rockets and ballistic missiles against Israel.

We already see that the threshold of objectives set by Israels political leaders at the start of military operations was set too high, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Minister of Defense Amir Perez may find it hard to climb down from their promises to bring home the kidnapped soldiers and dismantle Hizbullah. It is doubtful if these goals can be achieved by military means, but there is a political way. The way is to talk with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Israels political and military leadership ridicules Bashar Assad.

Syria is weak is considered a satellite state of Iran and the right hand of the axis of evil. But Syria, more than Iran, is responsible for Hizbullahs existence. Iran supplies the missiles, but without Syrias consent, Hizbullah could not receive them.

It seems that Syria, which has almost no military capability against Israel, is able to use Hizbullah to bleed the IDF and paralyze a third of the country. The subject that must be up for discussion between Israel and Syria is peace arrangements. Until now, peace talks with Syria has been stymied, mainly because the Israeli public believes that staying on the Golan Heights without peace is preferable to peace with Syria without the Golan Heights.

The question is whether Israel wants to uproot Hizbullah, once and for all. In order to disarm Hizbullah, Israel needs Syria, and the price will be returning the Golan to Syria. Thats the formula.

All the rest is only a question of time, and how much Israeli society will be willing to live under the threat of missiles whose range will only continue to extend.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on July 23, 2006

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2006

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