Monday, July 18, 2016

When the Syria War Ends

Israel should already have a plan in place to hammer Hezbollah once the Syrian Civil War is over.

Ten years ago, Israel went to war with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. The war was mismanaged by Israel even as Hezbollah endured a beat-down from a flawed war plan:

Israel this week marks a decade since its 2006 war with its "main enemy" Hezbollah, but the Lebanese militia's involvement in Syria has made another conflict less likely for now.

The war sparked by Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12, 2006 is viewed negatively in Israel, with analysts saying there was a lack of a clear strategy.

Hezbollah has rebuilt and expanded their rocket arsenal to perhaps 120,000 rounds, all intended to bombard Israel and kill civilians.

I've written that I think the Israelis screwed the pooch in that war.

Did the war achieve more than the flawed execution would lead observers to believe, as that first article notes?

But as the years have passed, some in Israel have adopted a more forgiving view, noting the relative quiet along the Lebanese border even before the Syrian war began in 2011 and drew in Hezbollah, said Jonathan Spyer, director of Israel's Rubin Centre for international affairs research.

Israel did indeed inflict a body blow on Hezbollah despite the poor quality of Israel's campaign. But pointing to a decade of no additional war with Hezbollah to defend the Israeli conduct on the war relies on Hezbollah's commitment to fighting in Syria since the civil war expanded after 2011.

Clearly, Hezbollah was ready for war years ago (and note the huge rocket arsenal designed for the sole purpose of bombarding Israel). But instead of having another go at Israel, Hezbollah has had to fight to control their rear area in Syria. Hezbollah has lost a lot of troops in that war for Assad and lost credibility by abandoning the fight against Israel to fight other Arabs.

Without the Syrian civil war, it is quite possible that Hezbollah would have tried round two already.

And after losing over a thousand men to fight for Assad against fellow Arabs, could Hezbollah put off a war with Israel for long once the Syria campaign is over, whether in victory or defeat?

Which is why I think Israel should hammer Hezbollah and commence a ground drive that ends in Baalbek, Lebanon, once the war ends in Syria and Hezbollah's expeditionary force in Syria prepares to come home:

I've mentioned before that if Assad looks like he is going down for the count, Israel should invade Lebanese territory and drive all the way to Baalbek to smash up Hezbollah's state-within-a-state that bullies the actual Lebanese government into passivity.

Israel would gain an advantage of hitting Hezbollah while they are still focused on Syria, and would be able to exploit the need of Hezbollah fighters to move back to Lebanon by hitting Hezbollah fighters on the move to reach the southern front rather than dug in and hidden from Israeli surveillance.

Of course, now we have to consider that we've mismanaged the Syria crisis so badly that Assad could actually survive this war.

So Israel has to consider what it will do when Assad wins and Hezbollah's expeditionary force can come home and then remind their followers that they will fight Jews as much as they will fight fellow (if Sunni) Moslems in Syria.

The smart thing would be to hammer Hezbollah while they have the opportunity.

If Israel hits Hezbollah's home base in Lebanon while so many of Hezbollah's forces are in Syria, Israel could manage even more than this ISIL debacle as Hezbollah troops rush back to Lebanon to meet the invasion:

Or does anyone believe Hezbollah's bloody expedition to Syria will convince them that war is really bad and that killing Jews isn't their primary focus?