Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Few Questions for Kofi Annan

By John E. Carey
July 26, 2006

As often occurs in the tricky world of international relations, President George Bush and the United States find themselves viewed by the rest of the world as supporting the wanton killing of innocent civilians right now.

And Hezbollah is to blame.

Using the most despicable trick known to man: hiding behind innocent civilians including women and children, the terrorists Hezbollah nation (you heard me right: “nation”) has found a way to antagonize Israel to such a point that the Israeli’s feel compelled to respond. And when they do respond with F-16s armed with precision guided weapons, innocents get killed.

President Bill Clinton pointed this out. "The danger in this Israeli strategy is that Hezbollah attacks with rockets, then hides among civilians. No matter how measured the response is, if you go after them, you're going to kill innocent people."

Following Israeli attacks, Hezbollah drags newsmen and women to the scene and screams, “Look what the bloodthirsty Jews are doing to us!!”

CNN even documented that Hezbollah had staged some of the post attack scenery with props such as empty ambulances moving away with sirens on for effect.

But a real tragedy here is that Kofi Annan of the UN, lost his impartiality for just a moment. Without the benefit of any investigation, the leader of the world’s largest peace-loving organization, accused a sovereign member state of murdering peacekeepers intentionally. I find that deplorable.

Then we see a stampede of everyone who likes to knife the United States speaking out: like Jacque Chirac of France saying the Israeli response is “not proportional.” Hey, I’d like to see the French reaction to angry Arabs shooting unguided rockets into downtown Paris. In fact, we know exactly the French reaction when unhappy Arabs merely speak out about unemployment in France: they face hundreds of armed policemen.

Hezbollah brilliantly antagonized Israel to such a point that the Israeli’s sent their defense forces into Lebanon in an effort to get the Hezbollah to stop shooting rockets into Israel: rockets that have no guidance systems and kill indiscriminately.

So Israel, using many precision, laser guided bombs and other high tech equipments supplied by the United States, has gone into Lebanon. And much of the world blames, who else? The United States.

Well, I don’t mind saying I blame the Hezbollah, their backers in Syria and Iran, and the United Nations.

Blaming Hezbollah seems pretty straightforward. Hezbollah’s leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah is on the record:“This state [Israel] was established on the basis of occupation….I say that this is a state based on occupation, that has usurped the rights of others…. I don’t believe in the State of Israel as a legal state because it was founded on occupation.”

We have several complaints about this. First, by denying the legitimacy of a UN state, Hezbollah allows itself to treat the citizens of that state with distain. Hezbollah has been murdering innocent Jews for years. Second, why doesn’t Kofi Annan set the record straight on the legitimacy of Israel, which was created by UN mandate?

Why do we blame Syria and Iran? Because they admit guilt. In fact, they are proud of their bloodthirsty ways and want to eliminate the State of Israel, a State they do not recognize as “legitimate.”

"Iran is standing by the Syrian people," Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi proudly told reporters.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasted that Israel was not tough enough to counter Iran and also warned against an attack against Syria."Thanks be to God, despite its criminal and savage nature, the Zionist regime and its supporters in the West do not have the power to look in the same way towards Iran," the fiercely anti-Israeli president wailed."If Israel commits another act of idiocy and aggresses Syria, this will be the same as an aggression against the entire Islamic world and it will receive a stinging response," Ahmadinejad said in a telephone conversation with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad famously described Israel as a "disgraceful blot" that should be "wiped off the face of the earth". Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is more hard-line than his predecessor, told students in Tehran that a new wave of Palestinian attacks would be enough to finish off Israel. This in October 2005. Did we listen? Kofi?

This is the same Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proudly defying the UN and building a nuclear bomb. Kofi? You have anything to add on this?

And why do we blame the UN? Because the UN has been watching Hezbollah take over southern Lebanon, fortify itself, and attack Israel repeatedly for years. Officially called the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, commonly called Unifil, these “peacekeepers” have been between Lebanon and Israel for 28 years at a cost of about one hundred million dollars a year.

We deeply mourn the loss of UN soldiers in the current fighting. But, we ask, what were they doing there? They are “observers,” “noncombatants,” and “peacekeepers.” Why didn’t Kofi Annan have them removed to safety when the fighting erupted? Kofi?

And what have they been doing for 28 years?"They [Unifil] are barely able to take care of themselves," said Timur Goksel, referring to the UN peacekeepers. "How can you expect them to do their work?"The blue-helmeted UN Unifil soldiers include a moderately trained and semi-disciplined Irish brigade. These Irish UN troops were routinely referred to as the "whisky army" by both Islam and Jewish observers who came into contact with them. The Israeli-backed Christian militiamen - known by the Unifil acronym LAUIs (Lebanese Armed and Uniformed by Israel) countered any effort by the Irish troops to stray far from their base at Camp Shamrock.

And I hate to throw red meat to red necks but who is commanding Unifil just now? The French.

Finally, why do we refer to Hezbollah as a “nation”? Because they have all the trappings of a nation.

Hezbollah controls its own media, including a TV station al-Manar (“The Beacon”), runs hotels and restaurants, and operates a thriving economy in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah provides social services that the government of Lebanon cannot afford to supply. It controls some 25% of the Lebanese land mass and almost half a million people. It runs its own schools, elderly centers, clinics, hospitals and libraries.

Hezbollah’s headquarters is called “The Embassy” by locals the in the part of Beirut called Dahiya, a crowded Shiite neighborhood where the Hezbollah has its seat of government.

Hezbollah has seats in Lebanon's governing councils too. But more importantly, Hezbollah owns southern Lebanon and is the law in that region near Israel.

But what makes Hezbollah very different, in fact unique in the history of stateless terror groups to date, is its access to very sophisticated missiles and other weapons. When did any group but a nation have Chinese-made C-802 “Silkworm” missiles capable of hitting an Israeli warship, the Ahi Hanit, before? Kofi?

Note that Iran's president denied today that he sent any military hardware to Hezbollah. But nobody much believes him. In fact, as one military source noted, "Hezbollah has everything Iran has."

How else is Hezbollah more like a "state" than a terror group? According to Israel's Dr. Boaz Ganor, the deputy dean of the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy and the founder of the Institute for Counter Terrorism in Israel said, "The Hizbullah has succeeded in creating a situation in which it deters Israel more than Israel deters it. It is unprecedented for a terrorist organization to deter a state and not vice versa."

For the last 50 years deterrence meant nuclear weapons.

Is that next for Hezbollah? Kofi?

We do not know, and may never know, if Hezbollah possesses or has access to weapons of mass destruction or really long-range ballistic missiles. But certainly Israeli military planners fear and are at least somewhat deterred by Hezbollah because of what they have done in the past and what they may yet do in the future.

Conundrum in Lebanon: Hezbollah Missiles Complicate Everything

Conundrum in Lebanon:How the Military Situation and National Interests Impact Government Planning
By John E. Carey
July 26, 2006

According to Israel's Dr. Boaz Ganor, the deputy dean of the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy and the founder of the Institute for Counter Terrorism in Israel, "The range of the Hizbollah's missiles means that the IDF would need to control a strip of land extending more than 100 kilometers north of the border [and into Lebanon]."

Today Israel said they'd settle for a mile or two.

In any event, the missiles Hezbollah has or might have, seriously alter Israeli planning. But putting Israeli soldiers that far into Lebanon would expose them to a long and blood bout with Hezbollah - even if we thought all Hezbollah had been neutralized, new fighters will appear just as they have in Iraq and Afghanistan.So we need peacekeepers as a buffer bewteen Israel and Lebanon after the fighting stops and the adversaies agree to a cease fire.

The trouble here is that the Israeli's no longer trust the UN peacekeepers in place now. And Israel has a valid complaint. After 29 years and 100 million dollars per year spent on Unifil - the UN peacekeepers in Lebanon - the customers aren't at all satisfied with the product.The current UN peacekeeping force, Unifil, is comprised if Irish, Ghanaian, French and other troops. They are "peacekeepers" and not equipped to intervene between to waring parties. Peacekeepers are only deployed by the UN once the adversaies on the ground agree to a cease fire and agree to the presence of the peacekeepers.

Israel has said it would take NATO troops as "peacekeepers" once the current fighting ends.

The best helper to the United States in times like this is usually Britain. But the Brits are already spread thin in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Germany's defense minister, Franz Josef Jung, said that German troops could contribute so long as both Israel and Hezbollah requested German participation and if certain tough conditions were met. These include a cease-fire and the release of the captured Israeli soldiers - and Israel shows no sign of agreeing.

Germany also says Hezbollah has to agree.France already has troops in Lebanon as part of Unifil, so they are probably not candidates to assist again. In fact, the French command Unifil just now.So, if the peacekeepers are going to come from NATO that means countries like Italy, Belgium, an Spain need to chip in. But Spain has already pulled out of Iraq and the government there is leery of getting involved again.The people of both Spain and Italy are strongly anti-war, according to recent polls.So, who can seriously contribute?

One might consider Japan. But when Japanese soldiers recently served in Iraq, they only performed humanitarian and building projects. Because Japan has a pacifist constitution (since World War II), the troops aren't even technically an "army," they are a "self defense force."In Iraq the Japanese didn't even patrol the way Brit and U.S. forces do. Still, Japan is eager to participate more in international actions and could discuss the idea.Other sources of troops might be eastern European countries, recent newcomers to NATO or those that are eager to join.

Often times troops from south Asian nations like Pakistan and India become available but they don't always play well together in the school yard; so there are "issues" if they are working close together: like on the same continent.

So even though we are in a "global war against terror," and president Bush has called it the "long war," if "we" want to "win," we have to figure out how to man the fence lines and patrol the neighborhoods.

And the alternative is what?

No consensus in Lebanon cease-fire talks

By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press 1630 EDT

ROME - Top U.S. and European officials agreed Wednesday on urgent action to halt the fighting in Lebanon and on the creation of a multinational force to keep the peace. But the two sides had starkly divergent views of what that means.

Most Europeans want Israel to stop its offensive against Hezbollah now — which would leave Hezbollah battered but defiant. The United States wants to give Israel more time to pound the militia into submission as part of the wider war on terror.

The foreign ministers and other senior officials from 15 nations, as well as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and representatives from the European Union and the World Bank, agreed in Rome on a declaration that expressed "deep concern" for the high number of civilian casualties in Lebanon, where government officials say hundreds of people have been killed.

Deep differences in an approach to the crisis, however, were abundantly clear.

In the presence of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema alluded to the discord in post-conference comments. He said many participants appealed for an immediate and unconditional truce "to reach, with utmost urgency, a cease-fire that puts an end to the current violence and hostilities."

Rice, for her part, deflected pressure to lean on Israel to end its 2-week-old offensive, insisting that any cease-fire must be "sustainable" and that there could be "no return to the status quo ante."

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, who attended and issued a dramatic appeal for peace, had difficultly containing his disappointment. He said the Rome conference made "some progress," but pleaded with world leaders to keep working toward a cease-fire.

Saniora said the violence has brought his country, still rebuilding from its 1975-1990 civil war, "to its knees."

The Lebanese leader recognized that Israel's offensive had been sparked by Hezbollah's incursion across the "blue line" — the border recognized by the United Nations — when it killed eight soldiers and kidnapped two, but added that the military campaign was "disproportionate."
The Western-leaning moderate also appealed to Israel to enter a peace process with all its Arab neighbors — striking a markedly different tone from many previous Lebanese leaders.

The Rome conference did clinch a consensus on establishing a new multinational force for southern Lebanon — one far tougher than the existing, three-decade-old UNIFIL operation which has lacked a mandate to prevent hostilities.

"What we agreed upon is that there should be an international force under a U.N. mandate that will have a strong and robust capability to help bring about peace, to help provide the ability for humanitarian efforts to go forward and to bring an end to the violence," Rice told reporters.
Italian Premier Romano Prodi put a positive spin on the conference, saying in an interview with The Associated Press that "what could be achieved was achieved."

Prodi insisted Washington wasn't fully isolated with its insistence that a cease-fire should accompany a durable peace, including disarming of the Hezbollah militias. He said the United States received support from Britain and acceptance from Germany that an immediate truce wasn't in the works.

Ultimately, Washington's position seemed sustainable largely because the others — despite shock at the scale of destruction and hundreds of civilians killed — largely supported the goal of disarming Hezbollah and extending the control of the Lebanese government to the south, which the militia has in effect controlled for years.

D'Alema urged Hezbollah to release the Israeli soldiers whose capture helped ignite the latest hostilities.

"It's a gesture that could be done while asking Israel to make the same step, but it could be a way to bring the end of hostilities closer," D'Alema told Italian state TV Wednesday evening.
Prodi said the force must be "sizable" and drawn from a number of countries. He pledged that Italy would commit troops if it has a U.N. mandate.

Israel, which did not attend, said it expected those at the Rome conference to follow up and take action to support Lebanon's army and turn it into a force capable of disarming Hezbollah.
"Israel is forced to continue to defend its citizens, because of the failure to implement these resolutions so far," said a statement released by Israel's Foreign Ministry.

Israeli officials have expressed support in principle for the deployment of an international force, recognizing that the weak Lebanese government could not likely subdue the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah without assistance.

Rice said the force's mandate would be discussed "over the next ... several days." She added: "We also have asked that those meetings be held urgently so that force can be put together."
In Brussels, EU officials said a meeting of European foreign ministers would be held next Tuesday to discuss the violence.

Annan said the emerging force would help Lebanon assert its authority and implement existing U.N. resolutions, which would ultimately leave Hezbollah disarmed.

"We all committed to dedicated and urgent action to try to bring about an end to violence that would be sustainable" and leave the Lebanese government in full control of its territory, Rice told reporters. She also pointed a finger at Iran and Syria, which she accused of stoking the violence.

China eyes stronger military against threats

BEIJING (Reuters) - China needs stronger military forces as it faces growing instability and threats to national security, the ruling Communist Party's ideological mouthpiece said according to reports in the state media on Wednesday.

An essay in the latest issue of Qiushi, or Seek Truth, says China must strengthen its military to guard a peaceful international setting for economic growth, the official China News Service reported.

"Destabilizing and uncertain factors are increasing and having a major impact on China's security environment," the essay said.

"History demonstrates that one cannot rely on others granting peace, and only building a strong military and firm national defense can provide a reliable security barrier," it added.

Qiushi magazine is the Communist Party's ideological mouthpiece and often carries essays by senior officials and theorists. The latest essay appears to reflect unease about China's military preparedness, even with rapidly rising defense spending over the past decade.

The essay did not specify the threats calling for stronger defense, but it said that Western foes did not want to see a strong China.

"Hostile Western forces do not want to see a strong socialist China emerge in the east, and they are constantly cooking up vain attempts to hold in check and contain China's development."
Supporters of independence for Taiwan -- the self-governed island that China has claimed as its own since their split in 1949 amid civil war -- are also a "major peril", it added.

China has experienced deepening friction with Japan over Tokyo's treatment of its World War Two invasion and its increasingly assertive foreign policy.

Beijing's relations with Washington are strained by mutual mistrust, even as the two countries seek to cooperate over curtailing North Korea's nuclear weapons program and defusing other regional disputes.

"At present, the political and military environment on China's periphery is quite complex, and unpredictable factors are clearly rising," the essay said.

China's 2.3-million-strong People's Liberation Army is the world's largest standing force and Beijing has said its defense budget will rise 14.7 percent to 283.8 billion yuan ($35.5 billion) in 2006.

That is much smaller than United States' $419.3 billion defense budget for 2006, but many in Washington say China's real defense spending is higher than its official figure.

Annan pushes for an immediate cease-fire

By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press

ROME - U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan on Wednesday called for participants at a Mideast conference to push for an immediate cease-fire to end fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas, and said that an international force is vital to a peaceful solution.

The U.N. chief said Hezbollah must stop its "deliberate targeting of Israeli population centers" and that Israel must end all bombing, ground operations and blockades of Lebanese ports.

Senior officials from the United States, Europe and several Arab nations met to work on a plan for ending more than two weeks of fighting, even as Israeli troops and Hezbollah continued to clash.

Much of the discussion will likely focus on efforts by the Europeans and others to overcome strong U.S. and British opposition to an immediate cease-fire. The Americans are against a quick truce, arguing that a cessation of violence must also lead to a durable peace and ensure that Hezbollah is no longer a threat to Israel.

In a first sign of a concrete proposal, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema called on participants to agree on an international donors conference for the reconstruction of Lebanon, his spokesman, Pasquale Ferrara, told reporters.

The foreign ministers and other senior officials from 15 nations, as well as Annan and representatives from the European Union and the World Bank, will also discuss the possible deployment of a multinational force to stabilize Lebanon's border with Israel and help disarm Hezbollah guerrillas.

The meeting comes as the violence threatens to spiral further. Over the past day, ground fighting intensified, Hezbollah's leader threatened to strike deeper into Israel, and
Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, warned the conflict could trigger "a hurricane" of broader fighting in the Middle East.

An Israeli airstrike on a U.N. observation post in southern Lebanon that killed four unarmed U.N. observers is also likely to further fuel international demands for an immediate cease-fire.

Annan said the airstrike late Tuesday was "apparently deliberate" and demanded an investigation. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Annan on Wednesday to express his "deep regret over the mistaken killing," Olmert's office said.

Officials in Brussels told The Associated Press that Javier Solana, the EU foreign and security affairs chief, will propose that a rapid reaction force be established. It would ideally be built around French, German and Spanish troops, supplemented by forces from Turkey, the Netherlands, Canada and Arab states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, EU officials said.

Solana said Tuesday that an international force for Lebanon should represent a broad sweep of nations to generate the widest possible public support in the Middle East and have a robust
United Nations mandate to use force, if necessary.

He gave no details of timing or duration of any peacekeeping mission.
Britain's foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, said the focus of Wednesday's meeting would also be on responding to humanitarian needs of the hundreds of thousands who have been displaced or otherwise affected by the fighting.

"First we want to see something done for these terrible humanitarian problems in Lebanon," Beckett said as she entered the talks. "Second, we need an international plan to enable us to bring a durable end to the hostilities. That's the thing that everybody wants."

"And third of all, what we need is to make sure that we are shoring up and strengthening the government of Lebanon rather than weakening it," Beckett said.

In a signal that the U.S. was not yet ready to change its position on a cease-fire, an official traveling with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters that a truce cannot be reached overnight.

Italian Premier Romano Prodi, delivering opening remarks, appealed to the delegations to show "determination and unity" to overcome differences over how to deal with the crisis, triggered by a June 12 cross-border Hezbollah raid in which two Israeli soldiers were captured and eight others were killed.

Apparently seeking to play down expectations, though, Prodi described the conference as a "starting point."

Annan said Monday that he wants the Rome conference to agree on a package to stop the Israeli-Hezbollah fighting and ensure lasting peace between Israel and Lebanon.

In the short term, he said, urgent measures are needed to halt the violence and get humanitarian aid to the Lebanese uprooted by the fighting. But the package should also include a cease-fire, deployment of an international force and the release of two Israeli soldiers abducted by Hezbollah, he said.

The United Nations already has a peacekeeping force of 2,000 military personnel in Lebanon — called UNIFIL — with a mission to patrol the border. But that force, deployed since 1978, has been ineffective in stopping violence in the zone it patrols.

Italy, host of Wednesday's conference, has said it would support the idea of a multinational force and participate in one provided there was a strong mandate from the United Nations.

Israel — which had so far called for the Lebanese army to take control of the area — signaled a policy shift when it said Sunday that it would accept a new international force, preferably from

French President Jacques Chirac said Wednesday that NATO should not lead a proposed international force in Lebanon, saying it instead should be placed under United Nations authority.

Germany on Tuesday said a cease-fire must be in place before there can be any thought of sending international troops to Lebanon.

The Enemy of My Enemy Is Still My Enemy

The New York Times
July 26, 2006

WITH Israel at war with Hezbollah, where, you might wonder, is Al Qaeda? From all appearances on the Web sites frequented by its sympathizers, which I frequently monitor, Al Qaeda is sitting, unhappily and uneasily, on the sidelines, watching a movement antithetical to its philosophy steal its thunder. That might sound like good news. But it is more likely an ominous sign.

Al Qaeda’s Sunni ideology regards Shiites as heretics and profoundly distrusts Shiite groups like Hezbollah. It was Al Qaeda that is reported to have given Sunni extremists in Iraq the green light to attack Shiite civilians and holy sites. A Qaeda recruiter I met in Yemen described the Shiites as “dogs and a thorn in the throat of Islam from the beginning of time.”

But now Hezbollah has taken the lead on the most incendiary issue for jihadis of all stripes: the fight against Israel.

Many Sunnis are therefore rallying to Hezbollah’s side, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan. The Saudi cleric Salman al-Awda has defied his government’s anti-Hezbollah position, writing on his Web site that “this is not the time to express our differences with the Shiites because we are all confronted by our greater enemy, the criminal Jews and Zionists.”

For Al Qaeda, it is a time of panic. The group’s Web sites are abuzz with messages and questions about how to respond to Hezbollah’s success. One sympathizer asks whether, even knowing that the Shiites are traitors and the accomplices of the infidel Americans in Iraq, it is permissible to say a prayer for Hezbollah. He is told to curse Hezbollah along with Islam’s other enemies.

Several of Al Qaeda’s ideologues have issued official statements explaining Hezbollah’s actions and telling followers how to respond to them. The gist of their argument is that the Shiites are conspiring to destroy Islam and to resuscitate Persian imperial rule over the Middle East and ultimately the world. The ideologues label this effort the “Sassanian-Safavid conspiracy,” in reference to the Sassanians, a pre-Islamic Iranian dynasty, and to the Safavids, a Shiite dynasty that ruled Iran and parts of Iraq from 1501 till 1736.

They go on to argue that thanks to the United States (the leader of the Zionist-Crusader conspiracy), Iraq has been handed over to the Shiites, who are now wantonly massacring the country’s Sunnis. Syria is already led by a Shiite heretic, President Bashar al-Assad, whose policies harm the country’s Sunni majority.

Hezbollah, according to these analyses, seeks to dupe ordinary Muslims into believing that the Shiites are defending Islam’s holiest cause, Palestine, in order to cover for the wholesale Shiite alliance with the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ultimately, this theory goes, the Shiites will fail in their efforts because the Israelis and Americans will destroy them once their role in the broader Zionist-Crusader conspiracy is accomplished. And then God will assure the success of the Sunni Muslims and the defeat of the Zionists and Crusaders.

In the meantime, no Muslim should be fooled by Hezbollah, whose members have never fought the infidel on any of the real battlefronts, like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya or Kashmir. The proper attitude for Muslims to adopt is to dissociate themselves completely from the Shiites.

This analysis — conspiratorial, bizarre and uncompelling, except to the most diehard radicals — signals an important defeat for Al Qaeda’s public relations campaign. The truth is that Al Qaeda has met a formidable challenge in Hezbollah and its charismatic leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, who have made canny choices that appeal to Al Qaeda’s Sunni followers. Al Qaeda’s improbable conspiracy theory does little to counter these advantages.

First, although Sheik Nasrallah wears the black turban and carries the title of “sayyid,” both of which identify him as a Shiite descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, he preaches a nonsectarian ideology and does not highlight his group’s Shiite identity. Hezbollah has even established an effective alliance with Hamas, a Sunni and Muslim Brotherhood organization.

Second, Hezbollah’s statements focus on the politics of resistance to occupation and invoke shared Islamic principles about the right to self-defense. Sheik Nasrallah is extremely careful to hew closely to the dictates of Islamic law in his military attacks. These include such principles as advance notice, discrimination in selecting targets and proportionality.

Finally, only Hezbollah has effectively defeated Israel (in Lebanon in 2000) and is now taking it on again, hitting Haifa and other places with large numbers of rockets — a feat that no Arab or Muslim power has accomplished since Israel’s founding in 1948.

These are already serious selling points. And Hezbollah will score a major propaganda victory in the Muslim world if it simply remains standing in Lebanon after the present bout of warfare is over and maintains the relationships it is forging with Hamas and other Sunni Islamist organizations.

What will such a victory mean? Perhaps Hezbollah’s ascendancy among Sunnis will make it possible for Shiites and Sunnis to stop the bloodletting in Iraq — and to focus instead on their “real” enemies, namely the United States and Israel. Rumblings against Israeli actions in Lebanon from both Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq already suggest such an outcome.

That may be good news for Iraqis, but it marks a dangerous turn for the West. And there are darker implications still. Al Qaeda, after all, is unlikely to take a loss of status lying down. Indeed, the rise of Hezbollah makes it all the more likely that Al Qaeda will soon seek to reassert itself through increased attacks on Shiites in Iraq and on Westerners all over the world — whatever it needs to do in order to regain the title of true defender of Islam.

Bernard Haykel, an associate professor of Islamic Studies at New York University, is the author of “Revival and Reform in Islam.”