Morning Report: July 13, 2006

Israel/Lebanon conflict widens. Israel is now fighting a war on two fronts, against Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Will Syria, Iran, and the United States be drawn in? Finally, a Lebanese blogger offers some insights about the perceptions of Israel in the Middle East.

Israel bombs Beirut Airport; rockets hit northern Israel. AP: 'Israel intensified its attacks against Lebanon on Thursday, blasting Beirut's international airport and the southern part of the country in its heaviest air campaign against its neighbor in 24 years. Nearly three dozen civilians were killed, officials said. The strikes on the airport, which damaged three runways, came hours before Israel imposed an air and naval blockade on Lebanon to cut off supply routes to militants.' It was Israel's first attack on Beirut's airport since 1982. JPost: 'Katyusha rockets landed in the northern Israeli towns of Karmiel, Safed, Hatzor, and Majd el-Kurum, as well as several other communities throughout the north Thursday afternoon. Eleven people were wounded.' And: 'Report: Katyusha rockets fell near the northern Israeli town Majd el-Kurum, near Karmiel Thursday afternoon.' Via IRIS: 'Israel laid siege Thursday morning to Lebanon, shutting down the country and closing off access by air, land and sea. IDF navy missile ships were patrolling off the Lebanese coast and preventing ships from entering Lebanon or leaving. Any ships arriving at Lebanese shores were being turned back.' Israel warned civilians in South Beirut to leave their homes. Meanwhile, Israel's chief rabbis permitted residents of northern Israel to break the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, observed today, due to the danger of attacks. (various)

Two soldiers' names released. Debka: 'The IDF Spokesman on Thursday released the names of the two soldiers abducted by Hizballah. They are: Eldad Regev, 26, from Kiryat Motzkin, and Ehud Goldwasser, 31, from Nahariya.' (Debka)

Afghanistan: Explosion in Spin Boldak. Afghan Lord: 'In an explosion in Spin Boldak districk of Kandahar province killed two people and wounding two others. The bomb was planted in a handcart by the road. As the media says the news is confirmed by Abdul Wasi a security official in Kandahar. The bomb exploded in a crowded bazaar which called Wesh a small city close to Pakistan border. Yet no group has claimed responsibility for the accident. Security situation in south Afghanistan getting worse day by day and the continuation of instability has reduced the government’s dominance on the country.' (Afghan Lord)

Abu Kais: Lebanese cabinet should "deal with the consequences". From Beirut to the Beltway: 'If the current government is unable to openly and effectively chastise Hizbullah by at least suspending their ministers, then they should all pack their bags and move to the southern border and suffer the Israeli anger. The Lebanese cabinet should convene in a Hizbullah bunker. If it’s a war they are too afraid to stop, then it’s a war they should fight.' Abu Kais goes on to argue that Israel should direct its attacks at the appropriate targets:
Some independent people in Lebanon might start thinking that the only solution is to move the conflict to Syria and Iran. The country is on the brink of destruction, especially after the Israeli prime minister threatened to take the country back 20 years. Hizbullah and the cabinet do not care enough. It is unlikely that the international community will save Lebanon now. Why should they? Even Saad Hariri’s media has gone soft on Hizbullah all of a sudden. So the only logical thing for some might be to actively support forces opposed to the Assad regime and Tehran. Since the Lebanese army is not interested in defending the Lebanese state, then some free Lebanese might consider funding and arming militant units to work on Syrian and Iranian territories, targeting Syrian and Iranian infrastructure. There is no reason why Lebanon should lose bridges and Damascus and Tehran don’t. After all, we are all in this together, right?

As for Israel’s leaders, perhaps they should listen to Nasrallah for once. Bombing Lebanon will not deter anyone. Olmert is a wimp with high-tech war toys. A mighty power such as Israel has to go after the real source and stop the cheap targeting of Lebanese infrastructure and civilians. But Israeli leaders are still choosing the easy way out. Instead of picking enemies their own size in Damascus and Tehran, they pick to destroy the livelihood of innocents and kill and maim civilians, feeding the backward resistance culture that pervades the region.

Read the whole post at the link, and don't forget to bookmark the homepage. (From Beirut to the Beltway)

Commentary. While I won't agree with Abu Kais' characterization of Israel's attack as "cowardly", I do agree with him about the need to go after Tehran and Damascus. What's especially interesting is his idea that Israel should confront "enemies its own size" in Syria and Iran. The element of respect is the key here, I think. Abu Kais believes (whether rightly or wrongly, I do not know) that Israel is a match for not only Syria but Iran also; and that by shirking confrontation with these powers, while attacking puny Lebanon, Israel only hurts itself.

I do not think Israel is in a position to declare war on Iran, but certainly Syria and Israel have been at war before. On the other hand, the United States has been on the verge of conflict with Iran for a long time. In the end, the present situation may provide Washington with a casus belli against Tehran, rendering the whole UN nuclear charade moot. And as I've been saying all along, the job in the Middle East remains unfinished until the regimes in Tehran and Damascus fall.