Saturday, July 29, 2006
The two Israeli-bound cargos of US bombs that were expected to refuel at Prestwick Airport last night contained deadly, high-density uranium warheads which represent a serious safety risk to the airport.
The arrival of the bomb cargos at Prestwick has caused a storm of protest, with opposition MPs describing the use of the Scottish airport to re-arm the Israeli offensive in Lebanon as “completely unacceptable”.
Anger over the flights was compounded after it emerged that the Irish government refused to allow the US administration to use Shannon Airport for similar shipments to Israel. Dermot Ahern, the Irish foreign affairs minister, said he would block any attempt by the US to transport arms through his country.
A spokeswoman for Ahern told the Sunday Herald: “Minister Ahern did say during the week that permission would not be granted if there was an application made to transport munitions of war to the Middle East.”
The bunker-buster weapons, thought to be GBU28 bombs, are being supplied by the US to Israel in a bid to assassinate Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and other senior militia officials who may be hidden in tunnel networks in southern Lebanon.
The neoconservatives aren't shipping Israel bunker buster weapons and jet fuel for them to be placed in storage.
Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday vowed to fire rockets on communities in central Israel if the military operation in Lebanon continued, and accused Israel of being an American "slave."
"The bombardment of Afula and its military base is the beginning ... Many cities in the center [of Israel] will be targeted in the 'beyond Haifa' phase if the savage aggression continues on our country, people and villages," Nasrallah said in a speech aired on Hezbollah's Al-Manar television.
"The Israelis are ready to halt the aggression because they are afraid of the unknown. The one pushing for the continuation of the aggression is the U.S. administration. Israel has been exposed as a slave of the U.S.," he said.
INITIAL POST (The Multilateral Peacekeeping Force Delusion): Do Bush and Blair really believe that the deployment of a purported peacekeeping force will stop the war in Lebanon?
A more carefully reading of this New York Times article reveals, however, that the support of Hizbollah ministers within the Lebanese government is conditional, at best:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returned to Israel on Saturday evening to press for a substantive agreement that could lead to a more rapid cease-fire and the insertion of an international force along the Lebanese border with Israel.
Ms. Rice, on her way back from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, praised the Lebanese government, which includes two Hezbollah ministers, for agreeing on the outlines of a negotiating package that could include international peacekeepers.
As she spoke of “fairly intense” negotiations to come with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, there was a sense here that President Bush, after his meeting in Washington with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, had suddenly decided to give Israel a shorter period in which to hammer Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon.
Ms. Rice is working to draft a United Nations Security Council resolution that would allow for the insertion of some 15,000 to 20,000 international peacekeepers along the Lebanese border with Israel and along Lebanon’s border with Syria, to prevent the rearming of Hezbollah. The force would also work with the Lebanese Army to enable it to begin patrolling the border itself.
Predictably, the Times fails to recognize that the deployment of these so-called peacekeepers will only mark a transition to new stage in the conflict, a stage whereby the countries who participate in the composition of the force militarily align themselves in support of the Israelis, as observed by Christopher Deliso:
In an interview with Reuters in Beirut on Saturday, Hezbollah’s deputy chief, Naim Kassem, cast doubt on the depth of the movement’s commitment to the cabinet plan. During the meeting, he said, “Hezbollah expressed its observations and asked a few questions because there are things that need more discussions, more details and more debate.” When asked about international demands that the group disarm and make way for an international force in south Lebanon, he said, “America and Israel have no right to get a result from their defeat.”
Perhaps, the peculiar notion is that the multinational force, along with the IDF, can prevail against Hizbollah, as it has become evident that the IDF by itself cannot. If so, it seems dubious:
For Israel to be satisfied, the new peacekeeping force will thus have to be "a professional one, with soldiers from countries who have the training and capabilities to be effective." In other words, they will be de facto front-lines soldiers for the Israeli army, recruited from the militarily strongest countries, led ideally by the United States.
With Israeli forces pulling back from a key Lebanese border town after several days of bloody fighting, UNIFIL’s top commander says that Hezbollah cannot be defeated militarily.Journalists with experience in the region, like Patrick Cockburn, have a clear-eyed perspective of what is likely to transpire:
“A military victory will never be possible,” Major General Alain Pellegrini, the commander of UNIFIL, the acronym of the UN peacekeeping force deployed in south Lebanon, told The [London] Times in an interview.
He said that only a political solution can resolve the fate of Hezbollah’s military wing, adding that after more than two weeks of heavy fighting, the Lebanese group is “still strong”. . . .
Unfil estimates there are between 800 to 1,000 Hezbollah combatants deployed throughout the south, operating in groups numbering as few as 12 to 15.
They have ready access to weapons and ammunition and have retained their channels of communication, speaking in code over walkie-talkies.
“Sometime they use radio frequencies that are the same as ours and we can hear them talk,” Mr Morczynski said. “They say ‘This is brother 13. We are going to carry out operation seven. Hope you are all safe’.” He said that Hezbollah is showing little sign of weakening despite the intensity of the Israeli onslaught. “They are mobile, dedicated and willing to act. When there’s shelling, they’re not scared. They’re not sitting in bunkers,” he said.
Of course, it shouldn't be nearly as bad this time. Hizbollah only has the support of 87% of the Lebanese population in its conflict with Israel, with a report that armed Lebanese Sunnis are already fighting alongside Hizbollah in southern Lebanon.
The arrival of the multinational force in Lebanon in 1982 brought with it a train of disasters. I still recall that great concrete sandwich near the airport that was all that remained of the US barracks in which 241 Marines died after it was hit by a suicide bomber on 23 October 1983. Elsewhere in Beirut, 58 French paratroopers were entombed when the building in which they were living was rammed by a second vehicle packed with explosives.
There is no reason why a multinational force landing in Lebanon in 2006 will not face the same dangers, and possibly suffer the same disasters, as 24 years ago. Its arrival will be opposed wholly by the Shia community, 40 per cent of the population, since the force will be seen as the creature of the US, which has so wholly supported the Israeli onslaught.
Here is an example of what appears to be the emerging attitude, as expressed by Lamia Osseiran, an organizer of a rally outside UN offices in Beirut, demanding a ceasefire:
"The Israelis are radicalising Lebanon, even liberal democrats like me. I took part in last year's demonstrations against Syria. I was a critic of Hizbullah. Now I cannot help but support Hizbullah's fighters who are defending our country." What about Hizbullah's rocket attacks on Haifa? "It's right," she replied. "It's not only Lebanese who should have to suffer. Are human rights available only to Israelis? You can't have winter and summer on the same roof."Is there a sinister motivation behind the enthusiasm of the neoconservatives, both here and in Israel, for the destruction of Lebanon? Do they actually want to increase the influence of Hizbollah within Lebanon, thus justifying even more extreme measures against the populace, with the belief that Americans would accept mass slaughter on the scale of the massacres at Sabra and Shatila, and possibly, even worse? Is there a deliberate policy of polarization through violence, with the expectation that it will generate popular support for war with Syria and Iran?