The current conflict in the Middle East has been initiated by Iran and Syria standing behind the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group (the Party of Allah). Iran and Syria pushed the group towards an attack against Israeli soldiers near Lebanese borders and thus stirred up the conflict. This opinion is widely spread not only in Israel alone. Russian diplomats working in the war-torn region agree upon the above-mentioned version saying that Iran is more responsible for the conflict than Syria. Russian diplomats realize that Lebanon has become a hostage of someone else’s games. Most likely, Hezbollah is acting for the sake of other countries’ interests rather than its own.
It is worthy of note that Hezbollah gunmen attacked Israeli military positions in the morning of July 12, killed seven and kidnapped two servicemen. Hezbollah, which has certain ties with Syria too, represents Iran’s interests in the region. Iran has been subjected to intense pressure on the part of the international community on the threshold of the G8 summit in St.Petersburg. Teheran needed to distract world leaders’ attention from its nuclear program, Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni believes.
Another reason of the conflict, Livni said, is connected with Iran’s and Syria’s wish to preserve their influence in the Palestinian Authority through radical Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Tzipi Livni thanked the Russian administration for attempts to ease the situation in the region. Russian diplomats contacted Hamas officials with a view to release Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit abducted in Gaza Strip on June 25. One has to acknowledge that Russia can not boast of having significant influence on Hamas and Hezbollah movements, which Moscow does not see as terrorist organizations.
Iran and Syria want to establish a single battle front with Israel in order not to allow any new separate amicable treaties with the Jewish State to happen. Iran will not acknowledge Israel’s right for existence. As for Syria, Israel occupied its Golan Heights during the war of 1967. Therefore, both Iran and Syria want to link the solution of the Palestinian problem with their security issues. Hezbollah - the movement established in 1982 to liberate the south of Lebanon from Israel’s occupation – is used for the same purpose.
Israeli troops left Lebanon’s south in 2000. It seems that Lebanon does not have any territorial disputes with Israel. Syria and Iran found a reason for another war for Hezbollah. Spokesmen for the movement said that Israel had never left a small piece of “Lebanese land” - strategic heights known as Shebaa Farms.
It is easy for Hezbollah to come to agreement with Syria and Iran because this party unites Shiite Muslims. The majority of Iranians are Shiites as well, whereas Syria’s ruling movement (the religious minority) is very close to Shiites. That is why Hezbollah supported the idea of preserving a single battle front with Israel.
Hamas abducted Israeli corporal Shalit two weeks before Hezbollah’s attack. Israeli officials believe that Hamas and Hezbollah developed a strategy of actions. They say that Israel has always been trying to break the chain between Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. It is worthy of note that Palestine is not happy to be a part of this chain. The leader of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas is doing his best not to let Palestine fall under the influence of Syria and Iran. Many other leaders of secular Palestinian movements support Abbas. They realize that it is much easier to solve the Palestinian problem without Syria and Lebanon.
Abbas sent his diplomats from Ramallah to Syria’s Damascus on July 9. The diplomats were supposed to convince Syria-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in the need to release abducted Israeli serviceman Shalit. The talks came to nothing.
Israeli officials do not mention another reason of the current conflict, though. When Israel responded to the kidnapping of its soldiers, many countries said that Israel was overreacting too much. Israel’s incumbent leaders cannot be described as charismatic and sophisticated politicians. “The only adequate person in the government is Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The head of Avoda leftist party, Amir Peres, as the Defense Minister is ridiculous. Incumbent Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has always been Ariel Sharon’s watchdog,” the former head of one of Israeli special services told the Vremya Novostei newspaper. Israel’s administrative system has plunged into deep crisis which touched upon both special services and military structures.
Israeli PM Olmert and his team needed to prove that Israel still remained a powerful state capable of showing immediate reaction in return to anti-Israeli attacks. A strategy and consequences do not make a priority for Israel, taking into consideration the fact that there is no strategy in the Middle East at all.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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