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Beyond the war in Lebanon

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Since the triumph of 2000, Hasan Nasrallah, Hizbullah's secretary general, has enjoyed superstar status in the Arab world – mainly for leading the first Arab party to retrieve occupied Arab territories through armed resistance against Israel. He is articulate, analytically rigorous, and he usually delivers on his promises. He no doubt saw the July 12 operation that provided casus belli to Israel as an opportunity to stiffen the backs of the Palestinians, and to further bolster Hizbullah as an exemplar for resistance.

But strong criticism from Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia underlines that it behaved recklessly, and in doing so provided an excuse for Israel to launch a war that it has long prepared to fight. If Israeli generals delight in the prospect of cutting Hizbullah down to size, the more important dimension of Israel's new war is preparing the battlefield vis-à-vis Iran. Israeli generals have already asserted an Iranian role in the firing of a missile that disabled an Israeli naval ship, killing four sailors. If Hizbullah's capacity to bombard Israel is even significantly reduced, then it will be easier for Israel to attack Iran's nuclear sites later. Israel has obviously been preparing for such an attack for several years, and if the US and the other players in the so-called "Five plus One" fail in their efforts to temper Iran's nuclear programs, Israel will most likely move against Iran.

Israel is now striving to turn parts of southern Lebanon into a largely depopulated "killing box," where Hizbullah and its capability can be whittled away. In the process, hundreds of thousands of people are being forced from their homes.

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