The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Posts Tagged ‘Israel

Israeli scholar says Army is not well prepared for conflict with Hezbollah; Hamas war showed major flaws

This is a sober report by Eitan Shamir. The implications are clear: Israel’s QME (quality military edge) with Hezbollah has deteriorated over the years, while Hamas’s fighting on the ground has materially improved. This is the negative teleology of technology that Hillary Clinton warned the Israelis about in her 2010 AIPAC speech…. overtime you can dome and wall yourself off with technology – and the US will pay heavily to help – but the arc is likely against your effectiveness over time. Peace, settlement, conflict mitigation are desperately needed.


“…Prior to Operation Protective Edge, the IDF was forced to make some decisions regarding its future force structure as a result of a shrinking budget. In effect, the IDF had to choose between one of two options: strengthen its relative weaknesses (maneuver-oriented ground forces) or, conversely, increase its relative strengths (standoff fire, precision fire, intelligence, cyber, and special forces). The IDF apparently chose the second course of action, but the consequences for its standing and reserves ground forces would be significant: cutting back supply plans for the Namer APC (armored personnel carrier); delaying the Merkava 5 tank projects; closing armor, artillery, and aircraft units; and dramatically reducing training. The ground forces could have found themselves in dire straits as they did prior to the 2006 Lebanon war.[8]

Operation Protective Edge was not a repeat of previous campaigns where Israel’s air supremacy pressed rivals to end the conflict.

The assumption behind this decision was that the ground forces’ unique capabilities would become less relevant to defeating future threats and were, therefore, no longer necessary in such strengths. Instead, it was decided that accurate, long-range fire and special forces raids aimed through precise intelligence could rapidly destroy the enemy’s capabilities. However, this assumes the ability to anticipate the nature of these threats, such as the prediction that the IDF will not face a symmetrical enemy (a large-scale, regular army). Rival armies do exist, but the IDF planners assumed they would not be used.[9] Forecasting the future is always difficult, but Israeli military planners envisioned a repeat of previous operations whereby Israel’s air supremacy pressed rivals to seek ways to end the conflict. Operation Protective Edge failed to live up to these expectations.

Ground fighting proved much fiercer than anticipated. In Operation Cast Lead (December 2008-January 2009), when Israeli ground troops entered Gaza, Hamas ground forces fled. This time, they fought to defend the tunnel system. Israeli forces searching for the tunnels inside Gaza suffered approximately 700 casualties—45 of them fatal; still, casualties among Palestinian fighters were significantly higher.[10] While the Israelis searched for the tunnels, Hamas conducted three raids into Israel via yet undiscovered tunnels. Most of the raiders were killed, but the IDF suffered casualties. The ground battle did not stop the firing of Palestinian rockets and missiles, but it did reduce it considerably.[11] Hamas also made two amphibious raids conducted in the first days of the war. Both were detected, and all the participants killed.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

March 19, 2015 at 3:57 pm

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Nasrallah speech July 25 – excerpts

From Nasrallah’s speech during a ceremony to honor the children of martyrs, July 25: “…I say to the young men and women, the families of the martyrs, the parents of the martyrs, and the mothers and wives of martyrs: These martyrs have been among the most important symbols of this country and this nation over the past 30 years. They are the makers of its victory and history, and they are the ones who have preserved the nation’s existence and dignity”

“…Therefore, resistance is not only an intellectual, cultural, jihadist, or political project. This resistance or this achievement is mixed with our blood, sweat, tears, sighs, vigilance, efforts, and sacrifices. Hence I say to the entire world: The resistance for which we have sacrificed to stay its course and achieve its goals is the dearest thing we have. We will not allow a small or big one in this world to undermine its dignity.”

“…Hezbollah’s resistance in particular managed to attain this status and penetrate all barriers. It is an Islamic resistance that is respected by the Christians as well. It is mostly a Shi’i resistance that is respected by the Sunni world, too. It is a Lebanese resistance that is respected by the Arabs and all non-Arab Muslims. It is a resistance that is viewed by all the oppressed and persecuted people in the third world and throughout the world as a model, example, and hope.”

“… This resistance has for the first time in the history of Lebanon placed Lebanon in the heart of the regional equation. This is unprecedented. Lebanon has always been a recipient. Is this not so?”

…”During that war ( in 2006), they wanted to crush the resistance rather than disarm it, expel it from south of the Litani River, or seize its rockets… What problem did they have with Hezbollah? Was it because Hezbollah was a political party? No, because we are accepted as a political party. The Europeans, Asians, Africans, and Arabs meet with us. There are people with whom we have no meetings because we do not want to sit with them not because they do not want to sit with us. Even the Americans have often sought to sit with us, but we would not.”

“They tried to open channels with us in 2000 but we closed them because we believe that America is Israel. It is the country that supports, embraces, protects, arms, and employs Israel. America is the country behind the war on Lebanon in July 2006, and Israel only waged it.”

“…Where is the problem then? The problem with Hezbollah is that it is resistance. The problem with Hezbollah and the likes of Hezbollah is that it refuses that its homeland Lebanon be weak, it refuses that its protection of its homeland be false, and that it rejects that anyone in this world would impose humiliating conditions on it. This is their problem with Hezbollah because it rejects this US-Israeli settlement that wants to expropriate the land and to deprive an entire nation, millions of Palestinians, from returning to their homeland, houses, and fields to live in dignity. This is the problem with Hezbollah. This is the problem and I do not accept settlement, and I am telling you from now, this cannot be settled.”

“…Do the Americans not admit now that their project in Lebanon has failed? It has failed… Thus, they have resorted to the new headline, which is distorting the image. Feltman said we have paid $500 million to distort Hezbollah’s image. What was the result? I will answer this question…We will build on it to say why we are not afraid. We have no fears for ourselves or for our image, but we fear for this country and for all the atmospheres, which some sides are trying to create in this country.”

“…We all in Lebanon want to know the truth in the assassination of Martyr Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. This issue has nothing to do with the sect, the party, or the area. There is national unanimity on this issue.

…”The case of Martyr Rafiq al-Hariri is no longer a family affair to relinquish it or not. This is the cause of a homeland and people. At the news conference, I said that we have all, in Lebanon and the region, paid its price. We have all paid the price of the repercussions of this assassination with varying degrees. We all want to know the truth first. We all want to administer justice. When we know the truth, and I am telling you now, we call for administering justice and not pardon. This is not one-upmanship. This is because we have a vision of what happened and about what would happen.”

“… This commission was not qualified to lead to the revelation of the truth. What leads to the revelation of the truth, as we have always said, is an honest, technical, transparent, and scientific investigation. What can an honest, technical, transparent, and scientific investigation do? The whole world works this way on the security and judicial levels. They put all hypotheses: This includes, who could be the one who killed Martyr Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri? Who has the motive? Who has interest? Who has the ability? “

“…The Investigation Commission has never worked this way for one single day. I tell this to everyone I respect and believe that he wants to know the truth. The Investigation Commission has never worked this way, not for one day. From the beginning, it resorted to one hypothesis. When you conduct investigation, you put hypotheses and then conduct investigation. What they did, however, they brought a charge and issued a verdict and they then began to search for evidence. No one works in this way and this is still continuing until now.”

“..If the truth is not revealed, there will be no justice, but there will be injustice. We call for justice. Justice is to punish the killers of Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. Punishing the one who did not kill him, however, is the height of injustice.”

“…False witnesses misled investigation four years and they build on it what was built, and we said this at the news conference, yet no one is authorized to ask them or interrogate them, or to punish them and to call them to account. Is this justice?

“…I said this at the news conference and I reiterate: If anyone in this world wants to sit with us to discuss with us that one of our members is accused and therefore, we should search for a way out, I will not sit with anyone. If anyone wants to sit with us based on the fact that one of our members is accused and therefore, we should make a settlement, we will not sit with anyone.”

“…What the Israeli media are saying is correct and it is compatible with our information. The Israeli information is obtained from the heart of investigation, from the heart of Bellemare’s office, and from the heart of the International Tribunal. The same Israeli information, which was published by the news media a few days ago, was said by security officials in Lebanon, to the effect that the first presumptive verdict against three members, the second, which will be issued later, will be against five, the third will be issued against 20, and the fourth will be issued against 50 members. Who are they trying to fool?”

“What we call for is to form a Lebanese committee, whether a parliamentary committee, a judicial committee, a ministerial committee, a security committee, or a mixed committee. It should bring the three witnesses, in addition to Al-Siddiq… They should sit with them and ask  them about who told you, who guided you, who taught you, who fabricated you, and about who used to send you to interrogation and after you return he listens to you to know what happened and to provide you with the new information you should say.”

“…Along with all Lebanese, we want to know the truth and to administer justice, but we will not allow the defamation of a resistance, which is the dearest thing we have and for the sake of creating it, we have offered the dearest of what we have.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 28, 2010 at 11:44 am


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“Will Turkish-Israeli relations head toward truce?”

On July 7, the independent Qatari-owned Al-Arab newspaper carried the following opinion piece by Yasser al-Zaatera: “The meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Israeli Industry Minister (Ben-Eliezer) in Brussels did not come as a surprise…

…in light of its extraordinary bias in favor of the Israeli concerns , the United States – along with some Europeans including France and Germany – could not remain silent vis-a-vis Turkey’s hostile tone toward the Hebrew state or toward the series of positions which in its opinion exceeded all limits, especially since it is aware of the fact that any escalation will give more power to the rejectionism and resistance axis in the region as it has not yet exited its predicament in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this context, the spokesman for the American Department of State was very clear when he commented on the Davutoglu-Ben-Eliezer meeting, as he said: “The relationship between Turkey and Israel does not only serve the region, but also our own interests in the region.”

“We do not need extensive analysis to figure out the kinds of pressures exerted on Erdogan’s government to get it retreat at the level of its positions toward the Hebrew state (it seems that the escalation of the Kurdistan Workers Party and the revival of the Armenian genocide case are part of these pressures.) However, this retreat has been and will remain cautious because Erdogan will not stop flirting with his audience, but also will not turn his back on the powerful foreign forces in light of the lurking threat on the domestic arena from forces which disapprove of his escalation with the Hebrew State, although they have remained silent to avoid provoking the people… “

Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 7, 2010 at 9:15 pm


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EP vice president issues strong warning to Israel via Egyptian daily

On June 4, the Al-Masry al-Yawm daily carried the following report: “The Belgian-born Vice President of the European Parliament, Isabelle Durant, called for punishing Israel for breaking international law and jeopardizing people’s lives. The prominent official admitted that European countries still have double-standards: “we are not fair when it comes to Israel.”

“The European official also told Al-Masry al-Yawm that she had known for a week that Israel was intending to do something against the Flotilla heading to break Gaza’s siege, and that she had warned against violent acts [that might be perpetrated] by the Israeli army. However, she had not expected monstrosity could reach this extent.

“Unless Europe uses deterrent and effective measures,  it will have absolutely no say in the future. We will neither be able to communicate with our people nor to deal seriously with terrorism. Things have gone beyond condemnations and I am waiting for a quick political and economic response.”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 4, 2010 at 4:46 pm


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Nasrallah to talk tomorrow, Thursday

Already media reports, as the Lebanese detainees get released tonight through Hizbullah’s corridor of dominance of Naquora and Tyre, are saying that Hizbullah says the immediate release through Lebanon and not Jordan all proves that the military power of the resistance works…. i.e. Israel does not want to add a “bleeding wound” back to its ledger with Hizbullah given what happened to the IDF in 2006.

Its going to be a hard message domestically to overcome and Nasrallah seems ready, tomorrow, to capitalize on it.

Look for remarks beyond the obvious angle of what this says about Israeli “culture” and the humanitarian angle… I suspect the main part will be what is the main theme for Hizbullah now – Israel’s supposedly declining Qualitative Military Edge and the looming confrontation that “will change the face of the region.”

We will see.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 2, 2010 at 10:39 pm

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Nasrallah & Hillary – reading each other’s minds

I have a long piece coming out soon in Tablet magazine that explores these issues in greater depth. The draft was done before Nasrallah’s liberation day speech, but I amended it afterwards. Originally I had cited this passage in Hillary Clinton’s AIPAC speech from april, which I would argue is exactly the logic which Nasrallah is employing when he calls for using the power – the QME – of the resistance axis for a negotiated settlement

“We must recognize,” Hillary said, “that the ever-evolving technology of war is making it harder to guarantee Israel’s security. For six decades, Israelis have guarded their borders vigilantly. But advances in rocket technology mean that Israeli families are now at risk far from those borders. Despite efforts at containment, rockets with better guidance systems, longer range, and more destructive power are spreading across the region… These challenges cannot be ignored or wished away. Only by choosing a new path can Israel make the progress it deserves to ensure that their children are able to see a future of peace, and only by having a partner willing to participate with them will the Palestinians be able to see the same future.”

Well, Nasrallah and Hizbullah do their reading and he used Hillary’s speech at length in order to make his points – here are the key excerpts

“Thirdly – and here she touches on technology, and from here I will go to the new formula. Here again I better read the text lest I make any changes in it. She says: Finally, we must realize that technology, which develops as a result of the continuation of the war, makes it difficult to preserve the security of Israel.

The technology keeps developing. How does it develop? For six decades; that is, 60 years, the Israelis have been able to guard their borders alertly. But developments in the missile technology mean that the Israeli families that are far from the border are in danger. Let us explain this. First of all, the missile technology is no longer complicated, costly, or difficult to comprehend. Missiles can be manufactured locally, and we in the Arab region have as many talents and brains as you want. They need only a political decision. They are not costly. You can create a missile force that will create a balance of deterrence at a cost that is worth only 10 MIG aircraft. It is simply that. It is not costly, complicated, or difficult. Moreover, confronting this missile force will not be easy. All the talk you hear – patriot or matriot, the Iron Dome and whatever they call them – will not be able to do anything to our missiles.  Technological development means that you do not fight on the border, but every town, every village, every facility, every airport, and every harbour inside the Zionist entity will be threatened. This means that the Israeli domestic front will be threatened in any future war and the Israelis will not be able to withstand this.

Thus as a result of these considerations, she tells them – she wants to convince them – come and let us have a settlement. Act before it is too late. Now when the Isr ae lis review what happened in 2000, they will weep in regret. They will say: Had we reached an agreement with Syria before 2000 and returned the Golan to it, we would have gotten rid of Lebanon, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Jihad and everything called resistance, in addition to Iran also. Regrettably, we were stubborn and we failed to reach such a settlement. Of course this is their evaluation, their revision.

Now the Israelis are being stubborn. I tell you that because of their arrogance, their tyranny, and their racism, they will continue to be obstinate until they fall into the abyss, God willing. To the intellectuals I say: This is Mrs Clinton, and this is the US State Department, and this is the evaluation of the US stand. This is not the evaluation of President Ahmadinezhad or anyone in Palestine or in Lebanon. Now the Americans are telling the Jews, openly and frankly: If you do not help us; if you do help Obama to reach a settlement, then there will be no purely Jewish state. This state is threatened. Everything in it will be threatened. Now you might find someone to reach a settlement with you but you will not find anyone in the future. This means that you are heading towards the abyss, to ruination.

“…If the war takes place, which we do not want but which we do not fear and which we believe will change the features of the region – here I think Mrs Clinton agrees with me; she is with me and not with her friends in the region – if the war takes place – and here I have to add something – in the past we said that the Israeli domestic front, God be praised, was open, and we know everything about the domestic front, where we should aim at the domestic front, and what the points of weakness and the point of strength are in the domestic front. We talked about the land and the firm ground; we said we would attack an airport for an airport, a harbour for a harbour, a city for a city, a building for a building or b! uildings, an electric power plant for an electric power plant, and a factory for a factory…”

On a different tack – here is Nasrallah at his worst – the hubris, which, if sincere, means that Nasrallah may be greatly overestimating the internal threats and the charachter and strength of the State of Israel:

“That is Israel; there is nothing in it. These are Israel’s men, leaders, and brains. Can we say that our men, leaders, and brains are weaker them theirs? In fact we cannot compare the two sides. Can we compare our people or soldiers with theirs? I challenge Israel to show a single picture of a group of resistance men crying and wailing like children. But we have films about their soldiers. Do they have weapons? True, but the fear of their weapons is something of the past. They are no longer terrifying because our hearts are no more scared.

Today, I would like to conclude by calling on you to reverse the rules. Why should we remain on the defensive – I am talking about psychology, by the way. Some say that Lebanon is afraid and we want someone to reassure Lebanon. No, let Israel be afraid and let it look for someone to reassure it. I am not going to reassure it. We are not required to reassure it. When Israel is reassured it launches attacks. When Israel is afraid it pulls back. Therefore, Israel should be afraid of war. As for Lebanon, nobody should make it afraid of war.

Allow me to allude to those who speak about war day and night. There is talk about war and they say: Let us remove the cause of war, and they mean by this the arms of the resistance. Let them save their breath. This is no use. The resistance and its strategic presence and its existence in the equation has transcended by a long distance all these speeches and calculations. Today the enemy is scared and it will remain scared, and we will keep it scared…”

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 29, 2010 at 4:34 pm


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Engaging the Resistance is a dead end for all parties

Ian Black’s piece today, “Is it time for the west to engage with Hamas and Hezbollah?” raises this point by Rob Malley: “So al-Jazeera did a service by bringing their representatives together with two respected American experts, Rob Malley of the International Crisis Group and Mark Perry, an independent writer with excellent sources in the US military. Malley argued that both movements needed to clarify their intentions about the final outcome of the conflict with Israel: did Hamas accept a two-state solution?”
I think Malley misses the point and so to does Black at least as far as Hizbullah is concerned. The Party does not “need” nor does it, at this point of growing military and political certitude, necessarily desire the US and some others to “engage” it…. since there is little hope that this will lead to much, beyond momentary confusion and concern for Israel and a bit more “international legitimacy” – both of which would likely be outweighed by the confusion such engagement would cause within its core constituency and leadership circles.
The US will simply never be able, politically, to deliver much of anything in “engagement” with Hizbullah (Hamas has more to gain and less to lose from wider engagement of course given its far greater strategic vulnerability and needs). Syria and Iran — states — are different cases.
So lets stop thinking that Hizbullah desperately wants the US and its close allies to engage it – even though the appearance of desire on the US’s part nominally assists the Party. Which leads to the second point, and Malley’s “big question.”
Hizbullah “craves,” as Hamas wants (note the potential divergence here, more a result of strategic context than ideology I would think), to see the end of the Jewish state of Israel – i.e. a one-state solution.
The point is that this ultimate desire, as Nasrallah has made clear for many years, is always already constrained by facts on the ground (see the earlier post on the potential raising of the Israeli flag over a beirut embassy in March 2000). In other words, even if Hizbullah wants a final victory, it’s deisre and ability to use violence toward that end can be (and should be) radically undermined such that the ideological desire remains limited to just that: a desire.
The critical point then to underline – and one that differentiates the analysis from a mostly war-loving, right wing perspective – is that acknowledging Hizbullah wants to see an end to Israel does NOT mean War – or bringing the stick to bear – is the only or even best solution.
Indeed, I think it is the worst approach.
Nasrallah, in his stronger position of the last few years, in fact encourages others to use Hizbullah’s growing military balance with Israel towards the settlement end which he and the Party neither want, nor think is actually possible, given the US-Israeli negotiating position and history.
Politically, it is a brilliant maneuver that has only strengthened as the “peace process” has faltered.
Here is the logic of resistance buttressing the logic of settlement in Nasrallah’s own words:
In the 2006 Divine Victory speech: “How can you obtain an honorable settlement, while you announce day and night that you will not fight? You do not want to fight for Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank, or even Jerusalem. How then can you obtain a reasonable settlement, while you announce every day that you will not use the oil weapon? In fact, even if anyone comes to speak to you about the oil weapon, you deride him, saying: This is backwardness. You do not want to fight, boycott, use the oil weapon, or even allow the people to come out in the street, or the resistance in Palestine to be equipped…”
“How can these states secure a just and honorable settlement between quotes? Does the Israeli recognize them in the first place? I tell you: The Israelis today view the Resistance and the resistance men in Lebanon with great respect. As for all those lowly ones, they are not worth anything. Even the Arab initiative calls for a stand. It calls for men and power. If you can’t use power, you can at least threaten with it. The talk that we are weak will not do.”

Two years later: “Realistic political behavior,” says that, “you [must] first convince the Israelis of the need to have a just and comprehensive peace before asking the resistance movement to lay down its arms…”

And in the recent new manifesto: “The resistance option constitutes a fundamental need and an objective factor in stiffening the Arab stand and weakening the enemy, separate from the nature of the strategies of the political wagers that have been made. On the basis of the above, the resistance has no objection to spreading the benefits of adopting it as an option whereby the benefits reach the various Arab positions.”
Departing from the prepared text, Nasrallah then looked directly at the camera and said, “Even those who have opted for a settlement have a need for this resistance…Indeed, we want them [the Arab states] to benefit from the resistance.”
This may smack of mere deception to some of the critics of Nasrallah who view him monolithically… But the point is crucial to understanding Hizbullah’s enduring power and support: Even as they pursue the gamble of violent resistance, they are still able to appeal to many of those in the arab and Islamic spheres who want a negotiated settlement – a two state solution.
Use the fist of our resistance, Nasrallah says, for the handshake settlement you want. In the aftermath of Oslo’s collapse, and the failure of the US and Israel to concede a bit more when their power was so much greater in 2000-2005, well, Nasrallah says, this might be your (the settlement camp) only hope.
For those on the US-Israeli side, it is of course hard to swallow the idea that conceding more in a settlement now – perhaps even one just on the Syrian track – would still leave, an albeit geographically isolated, Hizbullah that wants an end to Israel. In 2000, the US and Israel could have had a Hizbullah immediately disarmed and a secure peace on both the Syrian and Lebanese borders via a deal with Damascus. Now, however, as the balance of power continues to shift, this immediate, all encompassing, totalizing form of a total end to any and all resistance is simply not achievable (although a two state solution, on top of peace between Syria and Israel would go very far towards this end in the immediate term).
The New Deal then: Getting Hizbullah to integrate under the authority of the state of Lebanon will take more time and have less of a guarantee of 100% security for Israel, especially in the absence of a two state deal at some point after a deal with Syria. It would also take combined US-EU and arab state efforts on the Lebanon track to bolster the Lebanese state and finally reach a tipping point where Hizbullah’s desire and ability to use violence has been so undermined that a possible flare up is easily contained by all parties invested in the settlement (including Hizbullah’s main constituency, the Shia).
This tipping point can be reached though, given the way that Hizbullah acts and calculates its interests, and given the dynamics of Lebanon and the region.
This may not be the ideal path, especially since the 100% guarantees of yore are out the window in the new settlement matrix – but it is far far better a path for US interests, Israeli interests and the overwhelming majority of Lebanese interests than the path of War we are currently on.

Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 26, 2010 at 5:43 pm

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