December 5, 2013

Israel Assassinates Hezbollah Commander, Seeks To Provoke A Sunni-Shiite War In Lebanon

Just days after meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, presenting him with his father's book about the Church's crimes in medieval Europe, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government assassinated Hassan al-Laqqis, a commander in the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.

So far, the world's reaction has been silence. Luckily for Israel, everyone is talking about Nelson Mandela's death, and will continue to do so in the coming days. Could this be a small sign that the gods are on its side? Who knows.

Even without news of Mandela's death, this assassination of a high-level figure in Hezbollah by Israel in the wake of a successful US-Iranian nuclear deal would have never made it into the American and European media for obvious reasons.

It is unlikely that this latest event, which is intended to stoke sectarian violence in Lebanon, will be looked into in great detail beyond Lebanon and the immediate region.

An excerpt from, "Assassination of a Hizbullah commander" by the Angry Arab, December 5:
Like Nasrallah, Laqqis also started work with the Amal Movement but then moved to Hizbullah when it was forming. Israel used the bogus claim of responsibility by a non-existent Sunni group to typical shift the blame and also to intensify Sectarian tensions and conflicts in Lebanon.  But it makes you think: amazing how many murders Israel gets away with in Lebanon and beyond.  My mother yesterday commented to me about the assassination and she was angry: that Hizbullah was at fault for not avenging the assassination of `Imad Mughniyyah.  Hizbullah will most likely be reconsidering that policy.  And if Hizbullah were to assassinate one of the many Israeli terrorist leaders, you can imagine the international outcry and the calls for an international criminal court to be set up, and the Secretary-general of the UN would be holding a boring press conference reading in his most boring tone a statement of protest.  For me, this Israeli murder is yet another confirmation in a century-old conflict as to the extent to which the Israeli enemy is callous and casual in killing Arabs--ordinary Arabs and non-ordinary Arabs.  And Israel intelligence activities in Lebanon benefit these days from their alliance with the House of Saud.  They have an easier time recruiting form the base of the Hariri and Salafi movement.  There is speculation about the regional implications or even motives of Israel regarding its displeasure with the Iranian-US deal.  I don't know about that but know that Israel and Saudi Arabia have a stake in making violence and conflict in the region much uglier in months and years to come.  
An excerpt from, "Lebanon: Hezbollah Will Respond to Assassination" by Ibrahim al-Amin, Al Akhbar English, December 5:
But let us look at how Israel conceived of this particular adventure.

First, Israel knows well that it could not have carried out such an attack against Iran directly, given that the West is not in a position to back such an action after having reached the conclusion that the military option in dealing with Tehran is no longer possible.

And if Israel had chosen instead to eliminate an Iranian nuclear scientist, as it has on more than one occasion, it would have only put it in an awkward position with its Western allies, without achieving much politically or otherwise.

Tel Aviv’s intent was to send a message to the West that Israel is not prepared to fall into line with the priorities of its allies, by maintaining its margin of deterrence against its enemies, while at the same time telling Iran that the war on its nuclear program and regional influence is not over.

Second, Israel has come to understand that Damascus and its allies have made a strategic decision that the occasional Zionist airstrikes on Syrian targets are not worthy of a response – at the given time, at least – in light of the global war being waged on the country.

Israel was therefore left with limited and potentially dangerous options that nevertheless served its goals, and it decided to assassinate a prominent military leader in the Resistance, sending a direct message to Hezbollah that the Zionist state is still capable of striking painful blows without anyone’s help. In the case of Iran, Tel Aviv wants to make it clear that it rejects all that was agreed to with the West.

The assassination was also intended as a message of solidarity to Israel’s “new allies,” such as Saudi Arabia, telling them “our enemy is one” and encouraging them to stand up to Western pressures on Iran and Syria. It’s as if Tel Aviv wants to reassure Riyadh: “We are with you in the trenches, not just through statements.”

But how did Israel consider Hezbollah’s response to a crime of such proportions?

Here, we can only speculate. Was the assassination intended to spark a regional war that Israel believes is in its favor, given that Hezbollah and Iran are busy defending the now exhausted regime in Damascus? It is also possible that Tel Aviv calculated that, like the Syrian regime, the Lebanese Resistance is in not prepared to risk a wider war at this time and therefore will not respond in kind.