The US is about to send arms and trainers to the Lebanese army, supposedly to strengthen its hands against Hizbullah. The value of the package will be about $30 million and the training will be invaluable. Of course, nobody in the Lebanese government has spoken out against Hizbullah other than to call them “resistance” against Israel, and nobody in the Lebanese government has said that Hizbullah’s objectives weren’t laudable, namely achieving the release of Lebanese prisoners from Israel and achieving control over the Syrian, but Israeli controlled Shebaa Farms. There are Hizbullah members in the Lebanese government including two cabinet level ministers.
Now, not only will this package improve the capabilities of an army bordering on Israel, and an army of a government that has vowed to be “the last country to sign a peace agreement with Israel,” but even if the intentions are good, Hizbullah has been receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance from Iran over recent years. The $30 million may get the Lebanese some more firepower, but they will still remain far behind Hizbullah in training and arms.
This move, however, is a good one for the US in the sense that it opens a door to developing a friendly relationship with another Arab country. Presumably, this relationship might come at the expense of Israel to some degree, as has the US-Egyptian relationship, but in some ways this outcome had to be expected. Israel and its leadership did not inspire confidence in the past two months in American political and military corridors. In this regard, an ally has been found wanting and the US naturally wants to strengthen this flank. For a few dollars, they can try to pry open a door in an Arab country that has a strong Iranian-led and funded body manipulating it.
Olmert has still not offered to resign, nor has he offered a state commission of inquiry regarding his functioning in the past war. However, the outcome is so outlandishly bad for Israel in so many respects (i.e. the French have said they will not use force against any ship in their “blockade” of arms in Lebanese waters) that it is nothing short of incredible that he doesn’t simply lower his head in shame and walk away from the PM’s office to some cushy retirement in his $1.8 million home.
In other news, the Israeli Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, also has no intention of resigning or of appointing an outside commission of inquiry. On the other hand, he has just promoted the intelligence officer who was in charge of the sector where Goldwasser and Regev were kidnapped…while an internal IDF inquiry is still ongoing about the failures of that day…
Wait! There’s more! An Israeli-Arab Member of Knesset, Azmi Bishara who is an outspoken critic of the Israeli government, is paying a kindly visit to Syria and Mr. Assad. He has publicly warned Syria against pending aggression from Israel! Another Arab MK who was with Bishara, Jamal Zahalka, explained that they didn’t just go to Syria for the hummus, but rather went there to express “solidarity with Syria, as well as discussing the recent developments in the region, particularly following the wild Israeli aggression against Lebanon.”
Update: Halutz has “suspended” the promotion within less than a day, apparently after realizing the depth of public and internal IDF anger.
Update: The Israel AG will be investigating the Arab MKs who may have broken the law by visiting Syria without authorization.