By Pepe Escobar
"Hezbollah may be writing the book - at least for now - of fourth-generation war. Hezbollah had a reputation as an extremely disciplined, mobile guerrilla force. Now Hezbollah has fully revealed itself as a more than competent asymmetrical actor.
Hezbollah controls a great deal of territory - Beirut's southern suburbs, vast areas in southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, which is sandwiched between two mountain ranges along the Syrian border. Hezbollah enjoys staunch popular support running to probably one and a half million people, almost half the population of Lebanon. And Hezbollah has been capable of unleashing some relatively sophisticated military operations against Israel using both conventional and unorthodox weapons.
But the Arab street has certainly registered the communique by the House of Saud against Hezbollah, as well as the thunderous silence-cum-embarrassment displayed by the US client regimes of Egypt and Jordan.
A certified effect of the Israeli bombing barrage will be to draw newer, thicker waves of moderate Muslims toward political - and radical - Islam. The perception in the Arab street - as well as for most of the world's 1.4 billion Muslims - has been reinforced: the US/Israel axis seems to hold a license to kill Arabs with impunity.
For its part, Israel's Leviathan-run-amok tactic of trying to turn the Lebanese as a whole against Hezbollah seems to be doomed to failure.
Symbolically, fiercely independent Hezbollah represents the revenge of the oppressed - not only against the well off Sunni and Christians but against the Israeli invaders.
Hezbollah is a genuine resistance movement, such as Hamas in Palestine. Israel's military logic rules that it must crush any Arab resistance movement. Now Israel seems to have found two pretexts to try to crush simultaneously both Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel's modus operandi is to take entire populations hostage.
Thus Israel's real objective must be to provoke civil war in Lebanon - just as it did everything to provoke civil war in Palestine. The strategy is always the same. Israel wants Fatah to crush Hamas in Palestine, and now it wants the government in Beirut to crush Hezbollah. Or else ...
It was Hezbollah's hardcore warriors - trained by Syria and Iran - who ultimately expelled Israel from Lebanon in 2000. It's difficult for Westerners - or non-Arab Asians - to understand how powerfully symbolic this is in the Arab world: it means that Hezbollah was the only Arab military force ever to defeat Israel.
There's nothing sectarian about it. On the contrary, Hezbollah shows total solidarity with Hamas. And way beyond Israel identified as the common enemy, both Hamas and Hezbollah clearly identify the not-so-invisible big enemy behind, the US, for which Israel is a kind of "militarized offshoot", in the words of Noam Chomsky.
As Lebanese-born Gilbert Achcar, a political-science professor at the University of Paris-VIII, puts it, "The main source of destabilization in the region is this violent and arrogant behavior of Israel that is in full harmony with the equally arrogant and violent behavior the United States displayed in Iraq."
That's what the Stratfor Intelligence Report said would happen. "The Israeli Defense Forces is preparing for a major, sustained assault into southern Lebanon to eliminate the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah," said the report. "The assault will extend at least to the Litani River - the first natural barrier, roughly 20 miles into Lebanon - and possibly all the way to areas south of Beirut ... Israel stands on the verge of attempting to completely annihilate Hezbollah in southern Lebanon." "