Red Countries> Lebanon

The Lebanese exacted a horrible toll this year, as they became the next casualty in the horrors of this road to world war. One of the Lebanese political parties, known as Hezbollah, has long been accused of being yet another proxy for Iran and Syria in the region. The complexities of Lebanese society mean that not all Lebanese are affiliated with Hezbollah and indeed the official army of the nation state is not even the fighting force that Hezbollah uses, as it maintains a private guerrilla army.

In July 2006 a Hezbollah raid to capture two Israeli soldiers, for use as bargaining chips in negotiations, ended in a bloody open war between the two sides. There is some argument over who began what. Some argue that Israel provoked Hezbollah into action so as to have an excuse to begin a massive exercise in an attempt to clear the ground prior to any larger actions with Iran. Coupled with this were US attempts to escalate the war so they could finally commence the bombing of Iran. Others argue that Hezbollah indeed began the crisis at the behest of Iran in an attempt to act as a foil and slow down the looming US-backed attack on their country. Regardless, all agree that a proxy US-Iran conflict was actually taking place in this latest battle between Israel and Lebanon.

The Lebanese people, of course, were callously disregarded in the ensuing conflict and many were mercilessly killed by the military action. Despite their stated intention that they wished to see the Lebanese people and regular army rise up against the Hezbollah faction, the Israeli tactics became more confusing and murky as the war dragged on. At times they were in fact openly attacking the regular Lebanese army as well as the Hezbollah militia. This could have been because of pressure from within Israel and massive pressure from the international community for the war to stop was up against an equal and opposite pressure from the Neo-Cons of the US for the war to continue. This friction led to the confused execution of the war. Thus, the blatant slaughter of the Lebanese took place along with a huge destruction of Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure. Hezbollah, for their part, rained supposed Iranian rockets down onto the northern part of Israel, killing a number of Israelis and destroying property.

Finally, intense French and European efforts at the United Nations were able to stop the attempts by the Neo-Cons to drag Syria and Iran into the fray and were able to silence the guns on the ground inside Lebanon. Israel retreated out of the area in what some view as almost a defeat at the hands of this militia. Under the UN deal a large number of peace-keeping forces have since been dispatched to the area to try and prevent an upsurge in violence. This force consists of a large contingent of French and Italian troops on the ground. The German navy has been deployed as well and is patrolling the waters of the Lebanese coast. For the first time in many years the Germans have been given much more aggressive rules of engagement. So again we see a large military build up occurring in the theatres that could be pivotal if the world war breaks out. Interestingly, the other country that has committed up to 1000 troops to this peace keeping force is China! Whilst united under the blue helmet of the UN, this force will surely see some strains put on it if a wider showdown with China is actually brewing.

Regardless, these peacekeepers are probably some of the most at risk in the world. The Israeli army have already shown that they will not worry if a UN force is in the way. They killed a number of UN peace observers already on the ground back in July 2006. If they feel the need to attack through such a force to hit Hezbollah and endanger the peace force to do so, they will have no qualms in doing this. And in one of the many videos that Al Qaeda has recently released they announced that this peace force was a valid target for attack from their side of things.

In the face of Israeli warnings that a new war with Hezbollah could erupt at any time there have been numerous mass rallies where literally hundreds of thousands of Lebanese have come out to say they now support the group. And Hezbollah has announced that they will not disarm and will be ready to fight the Israelis again when the time comes. Even the other parties in the Lebanese government are now supporting this idea as well. The whole thing has been yet another in the long line of disasters for Bush, et al. And should Iran be bombed it seems almost inevitable that the Lebanese front of the war would immediately reignite. It may even see a united front of Lebanese regular army units fighting side by side with Hezbollah.