15 June 2015

Jihad versus jihad: Lebanon's shifting role in regional conflict

Middle East Eye

Off the coast of the south Lebanese city of Tyre, located close to the border with Israel, a warship recently appeared on the horizon.
Having reflexively feared it was an Israeli vessel, my flatmates and I eventually determined that the boat was merely part of the vast arsenal possessed by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Not once did the thought occur to us that the ship might have belonged to the Lebanese military, which is chronically under-equipped.
One reason for the army’s relegation to a bottom-tier fighting force is the domestic political inertia courtesy of sectarian leaders who are loath to see a cross-sectarian institution thrive. Another is that the United States and other concerned parties have in recent history been careful to supply the Lebanese state solely with equipment that does not pose an existential threat to Israel - night vision goggles, for example.
Israel, of course, is permitted to engage in plenty of existential behaviour vis-à-vis its northern neighbour, with the help of all sorts of advanced machinery speedily delivered from the US. In addition to slaughtering civilians, the Israeli army have also regularly targeted installations and personnel belonging to both the Lebanese army and UNIFIL, despite the fact that neither entity is particularly known for lifting a finger against the Israelis, except to compile tallies of Israeli army violations of Lebanese territory and airspace.
Enter Hezbollah, whose battle résumé includes chasing the occupying Israeli army out of Lebanon in 2000, thwarting an Israeli victory during the summer 2006 war, and otherwise humiliating the most powerful military in the region. READ MORE AT MIDDLE EAST EYE.