Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Week Two: A Ferocious Endgame

As we enter week two of the "War in the North" (so says the opening graphic on the prime time news program of Israeli state-run television), there is simply no let up in the terror and carnage across the Israeli-Lebanese border. Over 100 rockets fired on Israel today, hitting as far south as Tiberias; another day of punishing air attacks (and short-lived ground incursions) into Lebanon.

While Israeli politicians and generals talk tough concerning a battle that could take "weeks or months," and Hizbollah spokesmen speak of "the death of [UN Security Council Resolution] 1559," I think it would be a good bet to assume that there is now an end in sight, to be counted in days (maybe double digits). There are numerous press reports worldwide that time is running out: see this widely quoted report from The Guardian and this report from Hebrew Haaretz (I could not find an exact parallel on the English site - this article quotes sources in Jerusalem as saying the warfare may be shut down by Thursday or Friday). I am assuming that Hizbollah's arsenal has been degraded through either succesful launches or through succesful Israeli detrition by 25%. Another week at this tempo will see Hizbollah's missile arsenal halved. For that matter, Israel's equipment stores are not unlimited. At that point (or somewhere near it), with an appropriate international diplomatic effort, Israel and Hizbollah will stop. As we get closer to the end point, expect the tempo to in fact pick up, as everyone tries to get in their final licks. So to a certain degree, the end of this conflict is in sight; but on the other hand - "you ain't seen nothin' yet." That is always the problem in stopping a live war where both sides have plenty left to throw at each other. I think this is the reason that the pace of evacuation of foreign nationals is picking up. Of course, as a further complication, the possibility of Syrian injection remains high (I am guessing an aerial dogfight over the Bekaa valley - something we have seen before).

Expect a ferocious endgame.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ron,

    I agree that the fighting might spiral upwards as the end draws near, especially since our Secretary of State is ostensibly supposed to travel to the region next week. While Hezbollah's arms might be dwindling, there is ample reason to suspect that Israel is being re-supplied.

    However, one reason that I do not see this ending in single digit days is that Israel's stated aim is to destroy Hezbollah, not just their arsenal. Conceivably, could this happen without the introduction of Israeli ground troops conducting house-to-house searches for Hezbollah fighters? Will they be satisfied if Nashrallah is allowed to escape unscathed? So, are we seeing the limits of airpower here? Perhaps shades of Iraq...I'm just surprised the Israelis (or media lackeys) are not calling it "shock and awe".

    keep blogging.

    Your "Albright" friend from the TAU workshop

    6:01 PM