Naivety or Insanity

 

Khaled Duzdar*

Sunday, July 23, 2006

 

The Secretary General of the Arab League last week declared that the peace process is dead.  Mr. Mousa was wrong, the peace process died a long time ago. The latest escalation in the regionís deteriorating situation is but another indication of the death of the peace process. This round of escalation is the result of wrong strategies by all of the countries involved and ending it will require the adoption of new policies and that change the strategic balance in the region.  Those policies will have to be based on the mutual respect of sovereign borders, the complete fulfillment on United Nations Security Council Resolutions and negotiations towards peace between all of the parties.

 

The reality that developed in southern Lebanon following the unilateral withdrawal of Israel strengthen Hezbollah and limited the ability of the Government of Lebanon to subsequently fully implement UN Resolution 1559 which should have brought about the disarming of Hezbollah and its integration into the army of Lebonan which was required to deploy along the border with Israel.  While the other Lebanese factional militia were disbanded and integrated into the Lebanese army, Hezbollah, strengthened by its achievement of bringing about an Israeli abandonment of its Lebanese conquest, strengthened itself military and spent the last six years arming itself with Iranian supplied missiles all throughout the south. Despite the fact that the majority of Lebanese citizens succeeded in forcing Syria out of Lebanon, they were incapable of removing the Iranian and Syrian backed Hizbollah from southern Lebanon and when the outside players Ė Iran and Syria decided that the timing was right, Hezbollah launched its attack against Israel. Israel fell into the trap planted by Nasrallah and Ahmednijad and launched a bloody confrontation that regardless of its military impact will provide Hezbollah with a victory politically in Lebanon and throughout the Muslim world.

 

Israeli unilateralism is certainly one of the causes of the problems that the region is now facing. Israel should abandon its belief that it can solve its problems by deciding by itself to withdraw form occupied territories without negotiating and coordinating with the concerned legitimate governments on the other side. Rather, through its unilateralism Israel empowered the radical Islamic resistance movements to take advantage of the situation. The escalation of the situation and the commitment to continue fighting no matter when it is going to end or how it will end will further strengthen more radicalism and ensure that force is the means used to deal with the conflicts.

 

The political process is frozen and this fact in and of itself is part of the cause of the latest escalation. The absence of a political process has enabled the use of violence and escalation.  It has also served the strategy of radicals in building their military capacities and in preparing themselves with abilities to both harm Israel and agitate their interior fronts.

 

As a result of the unilateralism of Israel, it lost a major part of its deterrence that has prevented conflicts in the past. The rules of the game have changed and have brought about Israel's the loss of security on the interior front and the disruption of normal living conditions for its citizens. Israel might be considered a superpower in the region and its military superiority might prove effective in conventional warfare; but Israel cannot claim that same superiority with unconventional forces that apply tactical guerilla warfare.

 

Israel may believe that it's the only superior power in the region and can always rely on its military capacity, but the latest events have marked a new reality: the radical resistance movements Hezbollah and Hamas are building their capacities too.  "They also learned the lessons," and are more confident than before that they can defeat Israel or at least damage its image and ego.

 

One element of Israelís current strategy is to convince the civilian populations, in Gaza and in Lebanon that the price they pay for allowing radical elements to control them is too high. Yet so far, the massive use of force against the civilian populations in both places is only enhancing the support of the publics to these movements and raises the antagonism against Israel.

 

In mainly targeting Hezbollah and Hamas Israel has forgotten to address the wider and more central regional issues which are interrelated and cannot be separated from one other.  For one, the Palestinian issue remains the core issue for regional stability. Israel should realize that it must work together with the moderate voices in the region to put an end to this conflict.  Israel should also seek to renew the Israeli-Syrian track because it is essential to bring Syria out of the direct Iranian sphere of influence.

 

Israel should understand that the only way to come out of this conflict is through negotiations and to enhance the notion of talks and dialogue to end the conflict, to reach a sustainable tangible and genuine peace.

 

Israel has to stop believing that it is in control and that there are no partners to coordinate. It has to stop its destructive policy of unilateralism and should go immediately to bilateral negotiations with the Palestinians, the Syrians and the Lebanese.

 

The international community led by the USA should return to its sense and should lead an initiative in bringing, or even forcing, the parties to sit together with the goal of reaching a final agreement. The US administration must adopt logic and has to realize that supporting one side will only lead to destructive, bloody confrontation and will not serve its future association with Israel.

 

Reaching a widespread confrontation and escalation is very possible and any unconsidered move by one of the players might lead to a widespread, regional armed confrontation, whose aftermath defies prediction.

 

The call for an international conference under the auspice of the international community should be the only logic and directive to end this conflict. The international community should not stay ignorant and should immediately call an end to the hostile confrontations, leading the official parties immediately back to the logic of negotiations and working seriously and rigorously, to find solutions to the conflict issues.

 

Both the Arab League peace plan and Clinton's parameters are good tools to launch such an initiative. There is a need for serious intentions and grave international commitment to reach that.     

 

That might sound naive for some; but wouldn't we prefer a peaceful naivety than a vicious insanity?

 

 

 

*Khaled Duzdar is the Co-Director for the Strategic Affairs Unit at Israel/Palestine Center for research and information-IPCRI