Thursday, March 27, 2008

re: hezbollah's rockets

The post about Hezbollah's new rockets is interesting on a number of levels.

For one, Hezbollah could be gearing up for it's expected reprisal following the February 2008 assassination of Mughniyeh in Syria. Iran's Revolutionary Guard must of course be delighted to help.

For another, this could relate to the dispute over Lebanon's future president. The Hezbollah-led opposition has been unable to reach an agreement with the pro-West coalition, and the country hasn't had a president since pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud stepped down in 2007. In the Lebanese power-struggle, longer-range rockets could be a beneficial display of testicular fortitude for Hezbollah.

Two caveats though. First, this doesn't necessarily spell "happy days are here again" for Hezbollah. If they start launching rockets beyond settlements and into crowded civilian or military areas, Israel will have the justification and motivation to move in with more than a few half-assed retaliatory air strikes.

The summer 2006 offensive was a failure, no doubt, but as an Israeli government report released earlier this year made clear, the IDF has been restructuring itself to do better next time: more preparation, less reliance on air power, more infantry and more on-the-ground operations targeting rocket sites. If Hezbollah starts another offensive this summer, IDF may not be 100% prepared, but they're likely to put up a hell of a better fight than last time. Then again, that could depend on where Hezbollah launches the rockets. Sending Israeli troops into the mountains is one thing - sending them into the streets of Beirut is another.

Secondly, this is Israeli intelligence speaking: the same community asserting that Iran will have a nuclear weapon capable of reaching Israel within a few years, while claiming that Israel has no nukes at all. Then again, if we're talking about Hezbollah and rockets, why not be paranoid? Its not paranoia if you're Israeli.

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