Thursday, February 18, 2010

Nasrallah's warning to Israel

iThe Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 after three days of Israeli bombardments
 This was still due om this blog: the speech that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah held, on Tuesday February 16th, at a meeting to commemorate the Hibollah leaders Sayyed Abbas Musawi and Raghib Harb who in the past have been killed by the Israëli's, as well as Hezbollah's military leader Imad Mughnieh, who was killed two years ago by a car bomb in Damascus - supposedy also planted by the Israeli's. Nasrallah unveiled what appears to be a 'tit for tat' strategy in case Israël would think of attacking Lebanon again, like in 2006.
Nasrallah's speech wasn't an isolated event. It was, as blogger Qifa Nabki rightly points out,  part of a chain of events, starting with a speech by Israeli Defense minister Ehud Barak who on February 1st said something  like that if Israel was not going to make peace with Syria, the result inevitably would be war.
Next in the chain was Walid al-Muallem, the Syrian Foreign minister, who two days later, during a visit of his Spanish counterpart, said:
One day you threaten Gaza, next day you threaten Lebanon, later Iran and now Syria. Don’t test, you Israelis, the determination of Syria. You know that war this time would move to your cities. Come to your senses and choose the road of peace. This path is clear. 
  On day after that also the Israeli Foreign minister, Lieberman, hit the drum of war, warning that Assad, if he choose war, wouldn't only loose the war, but would also be pushed out of power together with his family.

And then came Nasrallah -(in Qifa Nabki's translation): 
“In Lebanon there is infrastructure, and in [occupied] Palestine as well. We have an airport and they have airports. We have power plants and they have very large ones. They have oil refineries and we do too. The infrastructure in Israel is much more advanced than ours. Today, I hereby tell them the following, and they can be assured of it: If you strike Rafiq al-Hariri International Airport in Beirut, we will strike Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. If you strike our ports, we will strike your ports. And if you strike our refineries or our factories we will strike your factories and your refineries. Today, in the memory of Sayyed Abbas and Shaykh Raghib and al-Hajj Imad, I announce and accept this challenge. We, in Lebanon, as a people and a resistance and a national army are capable [of this] because we protect our country and we don’t need anyone in the world to protect Lebanon.”
What it means in practice is unclear to you and me, we can be 100% sure, however, that Nasrallah's words are carefully studied somewhere in buildings in Tel Aviv. But what's the background? There must have been one. Have there been exchanges behind the scene between Syria and Israel that did not have the desired effect and did not lead to talks? Is Israel - together with the US - exerting pressure on Syria in order that foregoes on its reation with Iran? Something must be there - and all this coincides with the fact that the US is sending William Burns, one of its highest diplomats to Damascus, and just named an ambassador (Robert Ford) after a period of five years during which the post had been vacant.

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