Oy vey indeed

Some good stuff in this Laura Rozen interview with Marc Perry, the director of the Conflicts Forum, which supports dialogue with Islamists -- I've mentioned them before. Most notably, he shoots down this notion that what's happening is the result of a sinister Syrian-Iranian plan:

We’ve been hearing the theory that the timing of Hezbollah’s Tuesday kidnapping of the two Israeli Defense Force soldiers was planned well in advance and with coordination from Tehran or Damascus. Can you speak to that?

Oy vey. There are a lot of people in Washington trying to walk that story back right now, because it’s not true.

Hezbollah and Israel stand along this border every day observing each other through binoculars and waiting for an opportunity to kill each other. They are at war. They have been for 25 years, no one ever declared a cease-fire between them. … They stand on the border every day and just wait for an opportunity. And on Tuesday morning there were two Humvees full of Israeli soldiers, not under observation from the Israeli side, not under covering fire, sitting out there all alone. The Hezbollah militia commander just couldn’t believe it -- so he went and got them.

The Israeli captain in charge of that unit knew he had really screwed up, so he sent an armored personnel carrier to go get them in hot pursuit, and Hezbollah led them right through a minefield.

Now if you’re sitting in Tehran or Damascus or Beirut, and you are part of the terrorist Politburo so to speak, you have a choice. With your head sunk in your hands, thinking "Oh my God," you can either give [the kidnapped soldiers] back and say "Oops, sorry, wrong time" or you can say, "Hey, this is war."

It is absolutely ridiculous to believe that the Hezbollah commander on the ground said Tuesday morning, "Go get two Israeli soldiers, would you please?”
And my other favorite passage:

Some are proposing that the Lebanese government send its army into southern Lebanon. What do you think of that idea?

It’s a really great idea. The Lebanese army can’t collect the garbage in Beirut. Neither can the Syrian army. Southern Lebanon is Hezbollah land. … Hezbollah is the second or third most competent military force in the region, after Israel and Iran. It could probably defeat a good sized Egyptian battalion.
Ah, poor Egyptians.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.