Israeli Ground War Ramps Up;
; Iraqi Vice President Slams Israel
There were widespread protests in the Muslim world on Monday against the Qana massacre. 120 Egyptian MPs marched to demand the recall of the US ambassador. There was also a demonstration in Shiite Sadr City, east Baghdad, and bigger demonstrations in Pakistan. Don’t let the numbers fool you. Middle Eastern governments are carefully limiting the size of the demonstrations, otherwise there would be a sea of people in the streets. The demonstrations that are allowed are for blowing off steam. There were also demonstrations in Paris and Brussels, with 3,000 to 5,000 attending.
Iraqi Vice President Adil Abdul Mahdi of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq vehemently denounced Israel on Monday for its war on Lebanon and especially for the Qana massacre. AP quotes him:
‘ “What happened in Qana is a repetition to these crimes that happened to our nation decades ago. It’s time for this nation to stand up and stop this aggression and all forms of aggression that could affect any of its parts,” Abdul-Mahdi said. “These horrible massacres carried out by the Israeli aggression, incites in us the spirit of brotherhood and solidarity,” he said in a speech attended by Iraq’s president, the prime minister and other top government officials. ‘
Iraqi politicians are speaking out on Lebanon in part out of sympathy with Lebanese Shiites and in part because things are not going well in Iraq, with another 19 dead on Monday and 29 persons kidnapped in broad daylight.
Back in the Levant, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his cabinet have decided to defy calls for an immediate ceasefire in their war on Lebanon. Instead, they will widen the ground war.
Some analysts believe that Hizbullah leader Hasan Nasrallah wanted to draw the Israelis deeper into Lebanon, where his guerrilla fighters would have an advantage, since they know this rough terrain and have had years to booby trap it. It looks as though Nasrallah may get his wish.
An Israeli minister (same link) admitted that if the war stopped now, Hizbullah would have won it. After Israel completely destroyed Lebanon’s capacity to function as a normal society, knocking out ports, airport, roads, bridges, telecom towers, etc., etc., and after intensive bombing of the south and an incursion into Bint Jbeil, after all this, Hizbullah has won as of Monday, from the Israeli point of view.
I guess an Israeli victory wouldn’t leave much in the country standing, if that is what their defeat looks like.
Meanwhile, the French continued to work on a ceasefire motion, with the foreign minister visiting Beirut. The Lebanese government declined to see US secretary of state Condi Rice on Sunday in the wake of the Qana massacre.
Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska, broke with Bush on Monday and called for an immediate ceasefire. He intimated that Bush was jeopardizing the US relationship with friendly Muslim governments by trying to out-Likud the Likud (my phrase). He also called for the US to talk to Syria and Iran. He goes on like that and I’d say he’d be a pretty good president on foreign policy issues. But I’d also say it is highly unlikely that a Republican can win the presidency in 08. Bush is poisoning the well too effectively.
Robert Fisk’s account of the scene at Qana is poignant.
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt lashed out at the UN Security Council for not already having decreed a cease-fire, and warned that the “peace process” could collapse if something isn’t done soon.
Uh, Hosni, I think that particular cow is out of the barn.