There were some very interesting developments today in the Lebanon /Israel war. In my view,both sides are taking a slight breather to regroup a bit..though the war itself shows no signs of stopping.
Nasrallah and his chief aides are in Damascus, meeting with Syrian leader Basher Assad and Iran’s national security adviser Ali Larijani. The meeting was designed to discuss ways to maintain supplies and Iranian Republican Guard troops to Hezbollah.
According to excerpts from captured documents the Israelis released, Hezbollah has suffered tremendous casualties and is badly in need of reinforcements and resupply.
The Israelis also continue to be resupplied by the US. In an interesting sidebar, British Foreign Secetary Margaret Becker had the temerity to make a formal complaint to the US because some transport planes stopped at a US base in Scotland to refuel en route to Israel. The planes were carrying GBU-28 bunker busters for bombing Hizballah’s tunnel fortresses.
In a move I find hard to understand, the Israeli security cabinet apparently decided against significantly widening the IDF's operations in southern Lebanon at this time, rejecting a recommendation by Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz to escalate the offensive against Hezbollah. They also apparently issued a statement that the IDF had no plans to attack Syria.
Instead, they okayed the mobilization of three combat division to hold in reserve as needed. Or to quote General Halutz, `if things change in the future, we will have the troops we need.'
Halutz apparently wanted to insert larger forces to sweep through the Hezbollah bases in the area. As a result of the cabinet decision, the IDF said the operation would retain its current level utilizing brigade and battalion-level forces - not divisions as Halutz had requested -to carry out attacks on specific targets.
I see two possible explanations behind this decision.
One, continued friction between the various components of the Kadima coalition, particularly the Labor parts like Israel's inexperienced defence minister Amir Peretz.
It's a tradition in Israel to come together and avoid criticizing the government during wartime, but more than one IDF general has quietly talked about Peretz's lack of command military experience and suggested that Olmert appoint a temporary cabinet officer in Peretz's place - which Olmert can't do, because he needs Labor as part of Kadima's coalition. Olmert also lacks military command experience.
Alternatively,there may be some diplomatic moves going on behind the scenes between Condi Rice and Syria that have yet to fully play out.
Or the Israelis may simply be in the process of regrouping and planning an offensive to openupthe war in a different area.
In any event,it wasn't a total breather for either side: Hezbullah fired at least 75 Katyushas at towns and villages throughout the Galilee on Thursday, lightly wounding two people in Kiryat Shmona..and the Israelis continued heavy airstrikes against Hezbollah positions in Lebanon.
Wars seldom stay in a state of stasis..stay tuned... (and try saying that three times quickly!)