Monday, July 24

Uppity puppets need not apply

". . .the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon last year -- following huge anti-Syrian protests in the wake of Lebanese ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination -- changed the balance of power. The assassination has been widely blamed on Syria. Damascus denies responsibility, but the Syrian withdrawal helped Hezbollah become the most powerful military force in Lebanon, and increased its political clout." *
"Dear Pundita,
Regarding your opinion that Iran is treating Hezbollah as a pawn that they decided to sacrifice [by encouraging them to escalate attacks on Israel]. Where did you get that strange idea, may I ask? I haven't found anything in published reports on Hezbollah and their relationship with Iran to support your thesis.
Khalil in Toronto"

Dear Khalil:
Read published reports on Hezbollah's relationship with Syria, not Iran, to follow my line of reasoning. And recall that Iran's military has a tendency to dispose of puppets that jerk too hard on their strings.

The popular wisdom is that Iran, feeling pressured by the UNSC, encouraged or instructed Hezbollah to yank Israel's beard; this is explained as the means for Iran to show the world they have muscle. That's convoluted logic, to my mind. Iran has everything to gain by pouring oil on troubled waters and stalling for time -- strategies that have served them well in their negotiations with the E3 about Iran's nuclear program.

Enter the hamfisted machinations of Assad's security apparatus, which led to Hariri's assassination, which led to a blowout that undercut Syria's power seat in Lebanon. Hezbollah has maintained that they're just keeping the seat warm for Syria but in the process they have gained tremendous power for themselves. Indeed, before they escalated their low-intensity conflict with Israel, Hezbollah was inching closer to pressuring the United States to recognize them as a legitimate political power.

Then suddenly Hezbollah seemingly acted with gigantic stupidity. The only way the situation stacks for me is that Nasrallah knows he would live two days if didn't do what Tehran asks. The question is why Tehran would want to rock the boat in the Middle East at this time, which only further alarms the UNSC.

One way the situation stacks is if Nasrallah's recent actions suggest the same pattern that occurred with Zarqawi and various Iraqi clerics that Iran controlled: When they became powerful figures in their own right Tehran egged them to greater excesses, then farmed out their assassination.

Of course, there are other explanations but if I have erred, I have erred on the side of respect for the enemy. Among too many Western analysts I find there is a persistent habit of underestimating the enemy; the habit is rooted in condescension, to my mind.

But I will admit that Pundita's Sahib-0-Meter is so sensitive that it has a hair-trigger needle. The needle flew into the red range when I read analyses that posited the underdog mindset of the Shia Muslim as the reason for Hezbollah's escalated attack on Israel. In other words, the little brown people -- once finding a huge, historic political victory in their grasp -- just couldn't resist blowing it because they love being martyrs.

Thank you but Pundita prefers her own version of events.

* From a primer on Hezbollah

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