The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Hizbullah's strategy

The always excellent Anthony Shadid writes of Hizbullah's doctrine and tactics:

Three weeks into its war with Israel, Hezbollah has retained its presence in southern Lebanon, often the sole authority in devastated towns along the Israeli border. The militia is elusive, with few logistics, little hierarchy and less visibility. Even residents often say they don't know how the militiamen operate or are organized. Communication is by walkie-talkie, always in code, and sometimes messages are delivered by motorcycle. Weapons seem to be already in place across a terrain that fighters say they know intimately.

"On the ground, face to face, we're better fighters than the Israelis," said Hajj Abu Mohammed, a bearded, 44-year-old militiaman in the small village of Srifa, whose walkie-talkie crackled and cellphone rang with a Hezbollah anthem.

Israel has claimed to have destroyed Hezbollah's infrastructure in a 22-day campaign that has driven hundreds of thousands of civilians from their homes and wrecked village after village along valleys sometimes charred by fires.

Hezbollah admits to having suffered losses, but in the fighting so far, it has demonstrated its detailed planning since the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, ending an 18-year occupation. Fighters appear to exercise a great deal of autonomy, a flexibility evident along the region's back roads: ammunition loaded in cars, trucks in camouflage, rocket launchers tucked in banana plantations.

Analysts say the militia could probably hold out a month without serious resupply. Fighters and supporters suggest that time is their advantage in a war that most suspect won't have a conclusive end. In conversations in southern Lebanon, the militia's supporters seem most adamant in trying to deprive either Israel or the United States of political gains from the military campaign.

"We'll never submit to oppression, whatever the force applied, whatever the time it takes," one of the group gathered in Jwayya said Tuesday. "You won't find any difference between 21 days and 121 days. The difference is solely a matter of time."
Just the read the whole thing. Meanwhile in Israel (whose overwhelming power may have made it delusional as well as utterly amoral):

Despite the number of attacks yesterday, the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said Hizbullah had been disarmed "to a large degree". "The infrastructure of Hizbullah has been entirely destroyed," he said.
I think I know who to believe. Besides, Hizbullah fighters would probably continue fighting Israeli occupiers with their bare hands if they have to.