LEBANON: The conflict's roots


Doug Lorimer

US President George Bush and other US officials have opposed calls for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and the Lebanese forces resisting Israel's war on its northern Arab neighbour — the third in 30 years — because, they claim, they want to solve the "root cause" of the conflict.

In reality, the US rulers have fully backed the root cause of the conflict — the Zionist state of Israel, established in 1947-48 on Palestinian land through the driving out of their homes and farms of some 700,000 people. More were forced out in the 1967 war, when Israel occupied the rest of Palestine, as well as part of Syria.

In an unsuccessful attempt to destroy Palestinian resistance to the Zionist colonisation of their homeland, Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. The Lebanese resistance to the post-1982 Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon — led by the Hezbollah party — forced a partial Israeli withdrawal in 2000.

Since then, Israeli forces have violated the UN-monitored Lebanese border on an almost daily basis, according to UN military observer reports. Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 was a direct result of Israel's unrelenting aggression against Lebanon, which in turn is part of the six-decade-long Arab-Israeli conflict.

Israel today occupies Palestinian territory, Lebanese territory and Syrian territory. Every war involving Israel since its establishment has been over the issue of Israeli military occupation of Arab lands and the Israeli rulers' refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.

US and Israeli officials are now pushing for the deployment of tens of thousands of foreign troops in Lebanon to enforce a 2004 UN Security Council resolution. That resolution demanded the disarming of all militia groups in Lebanon and the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanon. Tel Aviv and Washington, however, only refer to the former.

The hypocrisy of this US-Israeli demand is astonishing given that no country has ignored more UN resolutions than Israel, and no country has vetoed more UN draft resolutions on Israel than the United States.

Israel's latest offensive against Lebanon is not a war of "self-defence" to force the release of the Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah fighters. Rather, it is a war of aggression that was planned by Israel and politically approved by Washington more than a year ago.

The July 21 San Francisco Chronicle reported: "More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to US and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail. Under the ground rules of the briefings, the officer could not be identified."

"Of all of Israel's wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared", Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, told the Chronicle. "By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we're seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it's been simulated and rehearsed across the board."

As with Washington's counterinsurgency war in Iraq, the Israeli war on Lebanon is a part of the US-led effort to militarily crush all armed resistance to imperialist domination of the Middle East and its vast oil and gas resources.