We have a New Player

On January the 8th, rockets were launched from Southern Lebanon aimed at Nahariya in Israel. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad al-Siniora has condemned these attacks. The surprising thing is that Hezbollah has also denied responsibilities. Who then launched these rockets? Do we have yet another new player on the block?

Hezbollah has never shied from such publicities before and when Hassan Nasrallah says that he did not do so, then it is a fact that Hezbollah did not launch these rockets. If he had done so or ordered his men to doing so, it would have been broadcasted “live” on Hezbollah's al-Manar TV immediately. So, if Hassan Nasrallah did not fire these rockets, who did?


Another evidence that sustains Hezbollah’s claim of non-responsibility is the fact that these rockets were of amateur-construction and did little damage from its detonation. Hezbollah has access to the latest missile technology and their deadly arsenal includes the Russian-made short range “Katyusha” (12 to 22km range), the Iranian-made intermediate range “Raad-1” missiles (80 to 90km range) and “Fajar-5” (45 to 75km range) and also the Iranian-made “Zelzal-2” long range missiles which is capable of delivering its payload up to 200 km away. With such missile-capabilities (of striking any town in Israel), there is absolutely no requirement for the Hezbollah to manufacture inaccurate “home-made” rockets with tiny payloads.


Some people has mentioned the possibility of an Zionist ploy to justify Israel’s intentions to launch another attack on Hezbollah but this is even more far-fetched due to the fact that the IDF has already committed some of their northern units into fighting Hamas in the south. One does not fight two different wars on two opposite fronts as that will stretch the supply (and reinforcement) lines unnecessarily. One also does not mobilize their military assets from its present location away from its launching point if their intentions were to invade Lebanon.


Additionally, the rockets were launched from within the UN peacekeepers and Lebanese Army-controlled area in Southern Lebanon. This is merely 2km away from its target. If Hezbollah were involved, they could have just lobbed an artillery shell instead of wasting a missile.


As I see it, it would be a far more logical hypothesis to point the finger at other elements, and that this attack was the mastermind of yet another Middle East country. Evidently this is done to incriminate Hezbollah and to aggravate Israel into striking at them. Not everybody was pleased with the UN-brokered ceasefire between Israel and the Hezbollah in the 2006 Lebanon War. Some kingdoms think that Iran is getting too powerful within this region and that their proxies are exerting too much authority, while others are afraid that their “traditional” regional influence are slowly being eroded away.


We might think that these actions are “isolated” and that Malaysia is immune from the localized conflicts in Middle East. This is a wrong line of approach to adopt, as even when the fighting is in a region far from our shores, their global repercussions are extremely grave. It is not the players that matter now but their respective supporters – the superpowers. If Israel is being hard-pressed into a corner where they are incapable of getting out, there is their nuclear arsenal to reckon with. Desperate people do desperate things and if they can reason that they have got nothing else to lose, the nuclear holocaust might begin. A veritable tinderbox of international implications.


Neither the Star paper nor the New Straits Times reported this but as unfathomable as it seems, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian Authority (Fatah) head Mahmoud Abbas, both moderate Arab leaders, have issued press statements accusing and blaming Hamas for provoking the Israeli retaliation and subsequent invasion of Gaza. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit has even called upon the Arab world to cease exploiting the UN as a platform for reproaching Israel alone for the fighting, surely a first (Al-Jazeera News 28th December 2008). Neither did the two dailies reported the fact that it was Hamas that declined to extend the 6-month ceasefire truce between the two when it expired on the 19th of December 2008 (Reuters 15th December 2008), not that it mattered as rockets were being constantly fired from Palestine into Israel during this period of truce. Additionally, both papers also did not report that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni visited Cairo the day before the assault began. Additionally, it was also never reported that Egyptian ambulances entering Gaza (on 30th December 2008) were forced to leave empty handed because Hamas was not allowing any of its wounded to leave Palestine. Neither was it reported that certain videos “leaked” from Hamas were in fact doctored and killed civilians “recycled” from one site to another (BBC News 31st December 2008) to exploit and maximize the impact to its intended audience.


Now why would a brother-nation make such condemnations of another? Are we missing the entire picture here through press censorship? Do the Middle Eastern leaders really understand the real situation there? Has the international community failed to grasp the implications of it all?


In my opinion, the conflict is no longer just about the Palestinian refugees or the creation of an independent Palestinian state but more precisely about prevention against takeover of the region by radical Islamic leaders. Except for Syria and Iran, no other kingdoms have openly criticized Israel on this. You would wonder why, correct? Is it because these leaders have learnt their lessons too well (from the Lebanon War in 2006)? By permitting the jihadists to prevail through international intervention before Israel finished its job, Hezbollah now commands an influence never before obtained. It has now more than tripled its arms stockpile – an extremely generous contribution from Iran, making the entire Middle East more volatile. Due credit was also accorded the Iranians for assisting the Hezbollah. To add to that is the fact that Iran might be nuclear arms-capable within the year and this is bad news when it happen because you do not want both Israel and Iran having such capabilities.


In conclusion, where did those rockets launched from and by whom? Even though homemade and crude, where did the technological transfer originated from? Can this merely be the starting salvo of yet another “war” between the Shi'ites and Sunnis?


– Hakim Joe