Consequences of Israeli Offensive in Lebanon
By stubbornly standing up to the powerful Israeli military machine unleashed to destroy it, Hezbollah has consolidated its regional standing and has given its Syrian and Iranian patrons the burst of oxygen that the Jewish state attempted to deny them. As the ceasefire enters into force in Lebanon, Iran and Syria cheer the outcome which for Israel has secured none of the objectives it sought by unleashing the offensive: the release of the two soldiers captured by Shi’ite fighters at the beginning of the war and the cessation of rocket attacks against it.
One of Iran’s highest-ranking dignitaries, Ahmad Khatami, suggested a humiliating defeat for America and the Zionist regime and promised that Iran would fire its long-range missiles at Tel Aviv if one or the other were to attack the Islamic Republic. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad declared that the ferocious resistance put up by Hezbollah will force Israel to think twice before launching a new “terrorist” campaign in the region. Accused by the United State of supporting terrorism, Syria has thumbed its nose at the President George Bush, who had declared that the Israeli offensive against Lebanon was part of the larger war between freedom and terror. The outcome of the war can only with difficulty be portrayed as a success for Israel. Not only did it fail to recover its two soldiers but it failed to end Hezbollah’s rocket attacks, or push it north of the Litani but it lost 117 troops in 33 days and exposed the weakness of its army.
This reversal is also a severe political setback for the Bush administration, because it has shown that indirect actions by Iran in Lebanon, as in Iraq, produce results, says analyst Mustafa Alani, of the Gulf Research Center in Dubai. The message is that putting pressure on the Iranians will not be easy.” explains Alani with reference to the refusal of the Islamic Republic to suspend its sensitive nuclear activities. If Iran is attacked or sanctions imposed by the United Nations, others will pay the price. For Lebanese Political Scientist Osama Safa, the value of Israel as a strategic ally of the United State has been severly shaken by this episode.