This report from the International Crisis Group pieces together the current crisis in Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon and elsewhere, based on talks with officials and others, including Hamas and Hezbollah representatives. There are many dimensions to the explanation of why the capture of three soldiers has, so suddenly and so intensely, escalated at an extraordinary pace into a deep and widespread conflict: local ones like Hamas's struggle to govern and Hezbollah's desire to maintain its special status in Lebanon; regional ones, notably the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, Syria's interests in Lebanon, and the growing Sunni-Shiite divide; and wider international ones, especially the confrontation between Washington and Tehran.
Israel's military performance in Lebanon has not been impressive either in terms of strategy or execution, argues Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Israel seems to have escalated without a high probability it could do critical damage to Hezbollah or coerce the Lebanese government, and the tactical execution of its air and land actions seems to be weak.
Israeli air strikes continue to destroy Lebanon's infrastructure as Hezbollah rockets target Israeli cities. Experts say the violence is the result of regional political maneuvering by Iran and Syria—using as their proxies Hezbollah and, to a lesser extent, Hamas—that makes a quick end to the conflict unlikely.
In this Center for Strategic and International Studies brief, Anthony Cordesmann wars that despite significant arms transfers, analysts are overestimating Iran's influence over Hezbollah's latest actions.
Israeli forces enter Lebanon as back-and-forth missile attacks between Hezbollah and Israel escalate. EU and UN officials have called for the deployment of international peacekeepers to defuse the crisis.
The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is carrying out the worst crackdown on political dissidents since 2000, when Assad came to power. Some experts see the move as a sign of the regime's confidence as international pressure over the assassination of Rafik Hariri fades.
In his paper, Pieter Koekeoonbier argues that building an effective Iraqi army should involve a study of Lebanon's successes and troubles in the effort to create a multi-ethnic military before and after 1975-1990 Lebanese war. His paper includes a model of society that emphasizes the role of the military, a history of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), a discussion of periods of inactivity in 1952 and 1958, an examination of disintegration in 1976 and 1984, and finally the reconstruction of the LAF in the wake of its second disintegration in 1984.
Protests this week highlight Syria's continuing influence in Beirut, more than a year after the "Cedar Revolution." But experts say Lebanon's outdated political system is just as much to blame for lingering instability.
Syria has agreed to cooperate with the UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri one year ago. Questions over Syria's sincerity remain, as international pressure on Damascus wanes and Lebanon struggles with internal tensions not seen since its civil war.
A year after the assassination of Rafik Hariri, international pressure on Syria seems to be losing some steam. The opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is diffuse and disorganized, and many Syrians appear to value stability over the threats posed by regime change.
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