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Lebanon & Iranian 'Munich'

Dr. Dan Schueftan: 'New Lebanese Government Has Capitulated To Hezbollah & Now Bears Official Responsibility For Any Fresh Aggression Against Israel'

'Secretary Of State Condoleezza Rice Has Indicated There Is Minimal Chance That U.S. Will Attack Iran's Nuclear Sites'

'Israel Is Only One Serious About Stopping Tehran Although International Community Recognizes Gravity of Iranian Threat'

Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon

It's now official - the new Lebanese government has officially sanctioned any new Hezbollah aggression against Israel. What are the implications for the Beirut government that has always tried to dodge responsibility for the attacks by Hezbollah, the radical Islamist movement sponsored by Iran? In an interview with IsraCast, Dr. Dan Schueftan, an Israeli Middle East expert, assesses this new Lebanese situation as well as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's statement that the U.S. would not veto an Israeli military strike against Iranian nuclear installations.

By sanctioning fresh Hezbollah attacks on Israel, the new Lebanese government has officially taken responsibility for Hezbollah but it hopes the U.S. will tie Israel's hands when it comes to retaliating against the 'nice Lebanese'. That's the assessment of Dr. Dan Schueftan, a top Middle East expert at Haifa University. This is a common Arab tactic - one that was also practiced by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who actually orchestrated terrorism against Israel but blamed radical Palestinian groups. In Lebanon, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and the Sunni Muslims, Druze and Christians have totally capitulated to Hezbollah, Iran's surrogate. All the talk about a new moderate and unified Lebanon has now gone by the board. In effect, Beirut has left Israel no alternative but to hit back hard against all of Lebanon this time, if Hezbollah repeats its cross border raids or rocketing.

Condoleezza Rice

Is Iran now calling the shots in Lebanon more than ever? Schueftan believes it's crucial for Iran to exploit a potential Hezbollah assault from Lebanon as a counter to any American or Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear installations. At this stage, he sees Tehran using the Hezbollah threat to tie Israel's hands. But there is no question that Hezbollah has amassed a dangerous rocket arsenal in south Lebanon and Israel must be prepared to conduct a 'strong operation' against Lebanon, if need be.

Dr. Dan Schueftan

Dr. Dan Schueftan is a senior Israeli academic and deputy director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa, where he also serves as a senior lecturer in the School of Political Sciences. Schueftan has served as an advisor to Israel's National Security Council, and to former Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon.

And what of this week's statement by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Washington would not veto an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear sites? Was this not a far cry from former Bush administration rhetoric about 'doing all in its power to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?' Schueftan notes that not only Rice but U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has stated clearly that the entire American defense establishment opposes a U.S. strike against Iran. So, there was minimal chance the Bush Administration would attack Iran. Such an operation by Barack Obama was not a 'serious option' while it might be possible by John McCain. Schueftan concluded: 'the Israelis are only ones really serious about stopping Iran' but even this was now problematic in light of the current internal political disarray.

David Essing

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