Nutshells and Pixies: The New Middle East War

"Angry Arab"As'ad AbuKhalil, born and raised in Lebanon, puts the outcome of the new Middle East war in a nutshell:

 "…a new organization, much more radical than Hizbullah, will be born out of this Israeli aggression. The 1982 invasion produced Hizbullah; this latest aggression will produce a new militant organization. Brace yourselves. And it is likely to exact revenge on those who attacked Lebanon, and those who justified the attack."

Exactly so. The various wars on terror operate on this grim dynamic: the overkill of the greater power produces an even more virulent opponent than the original target for the "path of action." We saw this in Chechnya; we see it in Iraq; we have long seen it in the Middle East, where the PLO has given way to Hamas; and we will see it over and over as the "Long War" goes on.


We hold no brief here with any of the innumerable groups around the world who kill and conquer and seethe with fury in the name of God. This invisible pixie, this synaptic construction that roots around in the basement of human brains, has produced untold suffering for millennia - and is at the basis of the terror wars that make our new millennium such an unmitigated joy.

But since we do live in a world dominated by vicious (not to say vacuous) sectarian folderol, we should at least try to deal with the actual reality in front of us, not the heat mirages thrown off by warring sects. For example,  in Saturday's Guardian, Professor Amal Saad-Ghorayeb of the Lebanese-American University reminds us that the current conflagration in the Holy Land did not begin with the arbitrary snatching of three Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah, but is part of a longer tit-for-tat snatching of prisoners on both sides, in order to gain leverage for larger prisoner exchanges. We don't agree here with snatching anybody anywhere at anytime, but at the same time, it doesn't serve the cause of reality at all to simply accept the Israeli government line that the recent Hizbullah raid is some kind of unprecedented eruption of evil that must be answered by mass slaughter and vast destruction in Lebanon.

You will none of the context provided here (after the jump) by Saad-Ghorayeb in the American media.

Excerpts: The capture of three Israeli soldiers by the Lebanese resistance movement, Hizbullah, to bargain for prisoner exchange should come as no surprise - least of all to Israel, which must bear its own responsibility for the abductions and is using this conflict to pursue its wider strategic aims.

The prisoners Hizbullah wants released are hostages who were taken on Lebanese soil. In the successful prisoner exchange in 2004, Israel held on to three Lebanese detainees as bargaining chips and to keep the battle front with Hizbullah open. These detentions have become a cause celebre in Lebanon…. The domestic significance of these hostages is ignored by those who choose to reduce the abductions to an act of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. Indeed Israel's media are aware of recent attempts to capture soldiers, including a botched attempt a few months ago in which three Hizbullah fighters were killed…

The regional significance of the abductions has also been misconstrued. To suggest Hizbullah attacked on the orders of Tehran and Damascus is to grossly oversimplify a strong strategic and ideological relationship. Historically there has been an overlap of interests between Syria, Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas… But the nature of that relationship has changed much over the years. Since Syrian forces left Lebanon, Hizbullah has become the stronger party. It has never allowed any foreign power to dictate its military strategy…

It is ironic, given Israel's bombing of civilian targets in Beirut, that Hizbullah is often dismissed in the west as a terrorist organisation. In fact its military record is overwhelmingly one of conflict with Israeli forces inside Lebanese territory. This is just an example of the way that the west employs an entirely different definition of terrorism to the one used in the Arab world and elsewhere, where there is a recognition that terrorism can come in many forms…