Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lebanon - A hollow victory for both sides

Besides claims of victory by both Hezbollah and Israel, there were no victors in this conflict, only losers. The Israeli army returned home having lost dozens of soldiers. Their stated mission, which has changed tack from week to week, has also failed. The two kidnapped soldiers which sparked the conflict still have not been released and Hezbollah remain in place besides claims by the Israeli authorities of having killed hundreds of their fighters. Support in Lebanon for the organization also remains strong. As thousands of displaced Lebanese civilians return to their homes they will be greeted by a country destroyed. Huge swathes of Lebanon lays in ruins. Bridges, roads, factories, power stations, homes and lives have been destroyed in 34 days of war. The coastline is bathed in oil, as a direct result of an Israeli air strike on a power station, and may take months to clear up. It may take even longer to rebuild the country as a whole. Longer still to rebuild its economy.
Hundreds of Lebanese civilians have died in the month of Israeli bombardments, many of them innocent children. The anger left in its wake may take years to heal.
In Israel too, many civilians have also died at the receiving end of Hezbollah’s rockets. Many Israelis have been left divided by the conflict. A large proportion have expressed that view that Ehud Olmert, Israel’s Prime Minister, did not push hard enough and his failure to destroy Hezbollah will leave Israel open to further attacks in the future.
Whilst Olmert is suffering the political fallout from the war, others are capitalising from it. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have both made speeches praising Hezbollah’s defence of Lebanon. Their continued belligerence and Iran’s continued defiance of UN resolutions will do nothing to ease tensions with the international community. Iran has until the end of August to comply with the international community’s request that it halts its nuclear fuels enrichment programme. Repercussions for its failure to do so can only be speculated upon. Posted by Picasa

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