29 Jul 2006

Lebanon: the world's choice

Lebanon: the world's choice from Open Democracy of course in response to a commentator asking for the topic to be brought up in an unrelated thread.
Paul Rogers
28 - 7 - 2006

The first two weeks of August will be decisive in determining whether the Lebanon war escalates further or can be contained.

The failure of the emergency Rome summit on the middle east on 26 July to call for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon has been taken by the Ehud Olmert government in Israel to be a green light for intensified military operations.

Israel is calling up three divisions of reservists – initially around 15,000 troops, leading eventually to 30,000 – for what is likely to be a protracted operation in southern Lebanon. This, however, may not take the form of an all-out invasion and occupation, not least because memories of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) retreat from the region in the early 1980s are still a strong deterrent to that option.

Instead, the more likely development is devastating air operations to clear localities, allowing IDF troops to operate afterwards with less risk to themselves. Olmert's close ally, the justice minister Haim Ramon, stated on Israeli army radio on 27 July that the Israeli government had given sufficient opportunity for civilians to leave southern Lebanon, and Israel could therefore assume that "…all those in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hizbollah".

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