The threats have become more insistent of late. Ehud Barak promised five Israeli army divisions in the next round of battle against Hizbullah, while Northern Command chief Gadi Eisenkot unveiled his Dahiya Doctrine, stipulating that any village that fired a single shot at Israel would receive the same treatment meted out on Beirut’s southern suburbs.
“We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. From our perspective, these are military bases,” he said. “This isn’t a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorized.”
Under such a scenario, presumably, the Lebanese Army itself would be targeted for protecting the Resistance, and the Lebanese civilian infrastructure would be completely destroyed to improve “deterrence capabilities” in the aftermath.
What is the likelihood of such an end game? I asked my friend Abbas this question, in the midst of a discussion about what Hizbullah would like to see achieved at the national dialogue sessions early next month. The most highly-anticipated topic is the “national defense strategy”, a code word for the sticky question of how, when, and to what extent the Lebanese government can integrate the resistance into the armed forces. Abbas responded:
“Hizbullah’s only goal has ever been the defense of Lebanese land and national interests. The resistance is not interested in offensive operations. We know our capabilities and we know what our mission is. Why should we create conflicts that we cannot win?”
“What about the 2006 war?”
“What about it?”
“That began with an offensive operation.”
“Yes, but that was in the service of regaining our prisoners. If Israel had cooperated over the years and exchanged the prisoners, there would have been no need for the July war.”
“Ok, but now you see, it’s not just defensive, is it?”
“There are a few issues that we are demanding action upon. One was the prisoners, and now it’s settled. Another is the Lebanese land that is still occupied.”
“So are you saying that there could be more offensive operations in the near future, for the sake of these issues?”
And so it goes… There are any of several dozen issues that could spark a darker repeat of 2006. With this in mind, what could possibly be done to mitigate against the chances of a conflagration? A withdrawl from Shebaa — which has been discussed quite a bit in recent months — would help. Further progress on the Syrian-Israeli peace negotiations would also go a long way to keeping the peace. But given the trigger-happy atmosphere prevailing in certain circles down south, one has to wonder if some aren’t even considering the possibility of a false flag pretext, in the form of an attack on an Israeli overseas target. Such an operation would serve the interests of many Israeli hawks, but also those of radical jihadi salafists in Lebanon who have had it out for Hizbullah for a long time.
Indeed, Hizbullah has enough enemies in Lebanon, the region, and around the world, as to keep such an eventuality firmly outside the Conspiracy Chronicles series.