Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Yesterday’s clashes

This is a very measured response on yesterday’s events. Initially, I was raging over the conflict. However, rather than rashly post, I took some time to sit and consider the wider implications.

Yesterday’s clash between the IDF and the LAF petered out of the course of the afternoon.

My thoughts:

We’re lucky that Hizballah decided not to get involved yesterday. The air is full of tension at the moment and anything to inflame the situation is a bad thing.

However, their announcement that they will get involved if it happens again can only cause the Israelis to pause for thought. That’s also a good thing.

Yes, it’s going to be tense, but the cards are on the table.

As for yesterday’s clash:

I believe it was a mistake.

The Israelis claim that they informed UNIFIL of the decision to perform maintenance of the border fence.

If this is true, then UNIFIL appears to have abjectly failed to pass on information.

Should the Israelis have crossed the border? No, absolutely not. However, if they filed with UNIFIL, it was hardly the kind of act that would have caused this response.

Nevertheless, surely, it was a monumentally stupid idea to conduct maintenance then and there, given the situation.

I feel that both the UN and the IDF failed to act responsibly.

However, I also feel that LAF should not have opened fire.

My conclusion?

The situation is still confused. We don’t know exactly what was going on. The reports from both sides are contradictory. Rather than ascribe this to lies, I think that there was general confusion and uncertainty.

I believe that the UN and IDF made serious errors, in procedure or judgment, possibly both.

However, I also the LAF acted rashly. Yes, they had the right to engage the IDF, but I don’t think they should have.

The key to diffusing this situation will be calm heads. At the moment, Nasrallah appears to the calmest of the lot.

We all know what Israel has done in this country in the past, both recent and more distant. The IDF acted rashly. The Lebanese Army had the right to react as they did, if the reports are correct.

However, the bigger picture here is that there is immense regional pressure at the moment. This clash was the last thing Lebanon needed.

I’ve heard speculation that the IDF did this on purpose, in order to create a situation. I won’t speculate on that, beyond saying that it would be monumentally stupid to do so. I don’t believe that the IDF is ready for another round with Lebanon (read: Hezbollah). They are presently building a missile defense system that is not yet ready. To go to war prior to completion makes no sense.

Let’s hope this blows over.

The long and short of it is this: Was this clash detrimental to the overall chances of avoiding a regional war? Yes. Were the Israelis in the wrong? Most probably. Are we lucky it didn’t escalate? Absolutely.

It’s time for calm heads.

I have the utmost respect for the Lebanese Armed Forces. They are often caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to issues both domestic and international. Now is not the time for a clash with Israel. The only result will be yet more Lebanese dead. The general consensus among experts is that a new war would be more costly than 2006. 2006 was devastating.

As much as it might stick in the throat, as unpleasant as it might be, I believe the only course of action is to step back, take a breath, and ask if Lebanon needs another conflict with Israel. I believe the answer is “no”. As much as it hurts to swallow this, it is the only way.

In any case, yesterday people died. For that, and for the potential pressure it will exert on the region, in very simple terms, I am sad.

As I said at the top, this is a measured response. I understand the sense of rage in the country and it seems justified. However, I’m also one step removed from these emotions. This is an attempt to give a calm overview of the situation, that might not be overly palatable to many. However, as someone who has chosen to live here, as someone who loves this country, I believe we all need to take a step back and breathe.