Saturday, July 15, 2006

Miracles Happen

Egyptian blogger Big Pharaoh sees pigs flying at the conference of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo. Arab governments are actually criticizing Hezbollah for the attack on Israel from Lebanon and the abduction of Israeli soldiers that has set off the current round of bombings out of Israel.

Update: He also has some advice for Israel concerning Lebanon. Excerpt:

Let us look at what happened so far. Almost all Arab countries are criticizing Hizbollah and blaming it for instigating this crisis. The Lebanese prime minister asked for help in deploying the country's army in the south. He couldn't have uttered these words a few days ago. Things are changing. I believe Israel should halt its operations and allow all parties involved, the Lebanese and the Arab countries, to ponder about what just happened and come up with a way forward.
I tend to agree with him. (I'm not married to my opinions here, but this is how it's striking me after what has transpired to date.) Israel has made a pretty strong point, and (as the original Big Pharaoh link in this post will tell you) thus far even Arab countries are acknowledging Hezbollah's provocation warranted Israel's response. That's flat out miraculous. Keeping some moral high ground here would be in Israel's best interest, especially after the Lebanese Prime Minister's plea. I've read lots of Lebanese and Israeli blogs and news stories today, and by all accounts the Prime Minister's speech was a moving call for peace between Israel and Lebanon, including a call for aid from the international community to help the Lebanese government to gain control over the southern regions of the country--the region controlled by Hezbollah for years as a separate country within a country.

This could be the opportunity for the heretofore weak (albeit new) Lebanese government to assert some authority over its own territory, reclaiming it from being a terrorist stronghold to being a peaceful neighbor to Israel. Israel would be wise to foster this outcome, strengthening the legitimate government of Lebanon by cooperation. The non-Hezbollah Lebanese certainly don't want war with Israel, if bloggers are any indication. I understand Israel's desire to eradicate Hezbollah once and for all, but having taken out Lebanon's bridges and blocked the ports, along with bombing the airport, they've already cut off Hezbollah's escape (and aid from the real string pullers--Iran and Syria.) Taking a break from the bombing campaign to allow the Lebanese government the chance to garner help and establish control would not lose Israel the opportunity to wipe out Hezbollah, but it might gain them an ally in the process. They have already made clear that they expect their captured soldiers (the trigger to this whole explosion) to be returned, and obviously, they can start the bombing again at will. Arab governments are actually seeing their side in this thing; even if they can't actually declare Israel to be in the right, at least they're pointing fingers at Hezbollah for a change. Miracles happen. Israel needs to take note of these miracles, take advantage of them as opportunities, and take the high moral ground, while it's available. Israel and Lebanon could both benefit.

Update II: J. Peter Pham & Michael I. Krauss at TCS Daily have a different take, and some good points. Could international affairs get more complicated?