Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Beyond the Criticism and BallyHoo: is there a Hidden Agenda in the Hezbollah-Israeli Conflict?

Cartoon: Gary Varvel, Indiana-- The Indianapolis Star-News

"Don't criticize what you don't understand, son. You never walked in that man's shoes."--Elvis Presley 1935-1977

One can't help but get 'drawn into the conflict' in the Middle East, given the wanton destruction and criticism of Israel's use of overwhelming force. While this is true, but who amongst the critics know what it feels like to live under the constant threat of suicide bombers and rocket bombardment from indomitable Hamas and Hezbollah? Can one really blame Israel's mentality given that its archenemies-who happen to be its next-door neighbors- have repeatedly stated their ultimate desire is to annihilate the nation? Besides, the instigators are the Hamas and Hezbollah who kidnapped Israeli soldiers and demanded the exchange of each Israeli captured for a 1,000 of their imprisoned operatives. Hezbollah fired first!

If Israeli critics would remain objective, perhaps they would realize that the israelis and the Hezbollah/Hamas (with their sponsors and patrons) are equally responsible for the madness in the Middle East. My heart goes to the innocent children and people of Lebanon who have just started rebuilding their lives and society after enduring many years of civil war, and when things seem normal again- its deja vu all over again.

But there maybe a lot more to this gory of violence than meets the eye.

The Hezbollah (the party of god) is not a bunch of rag-tag bandits, in fact the organization is well entrenched in south Lebanon and operates independently of the government. Using funds from Iran, Syria and from friendly and wealthy Saudis and Islamic fundamentalists, the Hezbollah has succeeded in creating a powerful political-military machine with sophisticated media and social infrastructure, and it wouldn't be an over statement that Hezbollah 'owns and runs' south Lebanon.

Here some of the factors at play in making the crisis a "perfect storm": Syria and Iran- major financiers and patron of Hezbollah. This duo have helped a great deal in stoking the flames of this conflagration; and I suspect a hidden agenda beyond just settling scores with Israel. Then, there is the lack luster foreign policy of the United States in the Middle East particularly in "strengthening" the Lebanese government to counter the influence and activities of the Hezbollah in south Lebanon. Lastly, the failure of the United Nations and its UNIFIL-a pseudo peace keeping force created in 1978 whose mandate is to secure south Lebanon and assist the Lebanese government in 'ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area' after the withdrawal of Israel in 2000.

As it is now, there may be be no peace in the region without involving Iran and maybe Syria. Given Iran's 'Israel-must-be-annihilated' mindset and quest to become a nuclear and regional power (made easier by the U.S incapacitation of Iraq): would Iran use the crisis as a bargaining chip to demand 'more respect' from the U.S and its allies? Could this be one of the hidden agenda and power-play behind the madness in the blood-soaked Middle East? I dunno!