Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Global Implications of Israeli-Hezbollah Conflict

As Israel steps up its ground offensive in Lebanon, we take a look at what it is facing in the wider war.

The current Israel-Hezbollah conflict is just one battle in a much larger, global war. It is a broad and building war between two massive, loose alliances, with Islamic totalitarianism representing the point of a spear aimed at the non-Muslim West, predominantly the U.S. and Israel.

David Selbourne wrote in the
July 22 Spectator that it is a war “being fought, with differing degrees of intensity and in different ways, from Afghanistan to the Horn of Africa, from the Caucasus to Kashmir, from Nigeria to Xinjiang, and from the Levant to Southeast Asia ….”

Hezbollah’s leader recently put it this way: “Hezbollah is not fighting a battle for Hezbollah, or even for Lebanon. We are now fighting a battle for the [Islamic] nation.”

Selbourne continued: “The U.S. is a nation at war but one which has lost its sense of direction, and which is therefore at war with itself. In contrast, Islam’s new-found sense of purpose, in its third great historical advance, increases with each new conflict that its jihadist ethic and strategy provoke.”

But it is a war also being joined by parts of the non-Islamic world.

It matters not that Russia and China are communist countries; they share a common goal with Islam: to knock the United States—along with its Western allies—off its superpower perch. The driving ambition of all these anti-Western countries is to reorder the global balance of power, and first on the agenda is to bring down America.

Of course, after that, the competition will change somewhat as the field narrows. But for now, Iran and Syria hate the West more than they hate communism—and Russia and China are most happy to lend support to rogue states, so long as it helps them along with their global ambitions.

Having the backing of two nations possessing the powerful veto right at the UN Security Council has gotten Iran out of a jam many a time. At the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg earlier this month,
Russia insisted that a joint statement issued by the world’s lead nations not pin blame for the Israel-Hezbollah conflict on Iran and Syria. Last Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry came out with a sharp criticism of Israel, saying its offensive against Hezbollah went “far beyond the boundaries of an anti-terrorist operation.”

Russia and China also lend practical, material support to Iran and Syria, by way of armaments. The missile fired from Lebanon that killed four Israeli seamen July 14, for example, was a radar-guided c-802 missile that Iran had acquired
from China. Russia has well-established military and economic ties with both countries. It supplies arms to Syria and is building a nuclear reactor in Iran. Russia also has friendly relations with Hamas—which it welcomed to Moscow earlier in the year for talks aimed at ending the terrorist group’s international isolation—and Hezbollah, which it is in contact with over the current conflict. It doesn’t recognize either of them as a terrorist organization.

As both Russia and China grow in clout on the world scene, the significance of their support of these Islamic nations and groups will grow.

Then there is Iran’s collaboration with North Korea, which, for a rogue state with little comparative power, is doing a good job of causing trouble for the U.S. The timing of the missile tests earlier this month seems unlikely to be coincidence, with there being at least some level of cooperation between North Korea and Iran. “The Iranians and North Koreans regularly play off each other’s carefully timed nuclear ‘crises’—to the extent that Iranians were reportedly present at North Korea’s July 5 missile tests,” wrote Stratfor on July 21 (the U.S. administration later denied that report). “With North Korea grabbing the world’s attention, Tehran had considerable room to maneuver with its own nuclear agenda and skillfully evaded a UN Security Council demand for Iran to respond to a package of incentives designed to curb the Iranian nuclear program. The door was open for some adventurism in other areas where Iran possessed assets.”

The U.S. and Israel are not facing isolated, one-off threats—but rather a loose global alliance that is getting bolder all the time.

Consider the events of just one week. On
July 21, Investor’s Business Daily ran an article titled “The Week That Was in World War iii,” pointing to a sampling of events that occurred around the world the previous week—apart from the war in Lebanon—that show Islam’s sustained aim at the West. “Many Islamofascist activities get lost in the welter of 24/7 news,” the article said. “But when viewed together in one place, the threats, intercepted attacks, real attacks, diplomatic maneuvers or inaction all confirm radical Islam’s unity of intent.”

Here are just a few of those events.

Somalia: The transitional government sought troops from Ethiopia to deter Islamist militia encircling the provisional capital, Baidoa. …

Iran: A U.S. official told Congress that Iranians may have paid for and observed North Korea’s seven long-range and medium-range missile test launches …

U.S.: The Homeland Security Department is investigating a pipe bomb found in Lake Pontchartrain, La. Officials fear it could be part of a practice run for a future attack that could shut down all commerce on a critical U.S. waterway. …

Romania: Prosecutors prepared a case against Florian Lesch, 29, a convert to militant Islam, who was arrested after trying to detonate two gas cylinders in Timisoara to punish Romania for its good relations with the U.S. …

Afghanistan: Taliban fighters ambushed Canadian troops near Kandahar after the Taliban announced a new campaign of violence ….

Syria: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with Hezbollah leaders in Damascus, prompting fears of more coordinated terrorist attacks.

United Kingdom: Two more Islamist organizations—Al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect—were banned as terrorist. …

India: Three men … were apprehended in a string of bombings on Bombay’s transit system July 11 that killed 208 and injured 800. India’s army reported new al Qaeda terror camps on the Pakistani border ….

Thailand: Six people were killed by Islamist militants in drive-by motorcycle shootings ….

Venezuela: President Hugo Chavez, an Iran ally, moved to build diplomatic support for his bid for a United Nations Security Council seat …. Chavez condemned Israel’s self-defense efforts and explicitly vowed to thwart the U.S. if he won the UN seat.

Bosnia: [L]ocal experts said they feared Bosnia would become a new Iranian front as a diversion from Lebanon if the war goes badly for Iran in Lebanon. …

Canada: The Canadian Council on American Islamic Relations urged Muslims not to apologize for the activities of terrorists or cooperate with security in terrorist investigations.

Kashmir: [A] 26-year-old woman’s throat was slit by terrorists ….

Indonesia: A total of 217 jihadis—[of seven different nationalities]—embarked to fight Israel in south Lebanon, according to an Islamic Youth Movement leader. Meanwhile, 90 militants from Aceh province’s Islamist separatist movement also declared their intent to fight in south Lebanon.

Other incidents occurred in Argentina, Sweden and Russia.

Clearly, Iran has support both of state and non-state actors in its war against the West. The current war in Lebanon is rallying much of the world to the anti-America and anti-Israel cause.

But, as long as Tehran fights covertly, “Iran will have the assurance that the United States and Israel are not willing to engage it militarily, even when it sparks a regional crisis through its militant surrogate in Lebanon” (Stratfor, July 21).

An enemy will only grow stronger the longer it is appeased. History, of course, is witness to that fact. Hezbollah itself is a quintessential example. Today we see the result of Israel having kicked the Hezbollah problem down the road when it vacated Lebanon six years ago.

Kicking the Iran-radical Islam problem down the road will have an even greater snowball effect. If the U.S. and Israel don’t have the stomach to confront Iran and radical Islam now, then soon they will be facing a much larger beast.

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