Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Ground Offensive - II

Stratfor has resumed its series of special reports on the Israel-Lebanon conflict. The hiatus was prompted, the organization says, by the fact that there has been "nothing to report". Although a great deal of fighting was taking place, the war appeared to have settled into a fixed pattern, and diplomacy seemed almost to have ground to a halt, at least temporarily.

Stratfor's perception is that the conflict has now entered a new phase. The report asserts that at the Israeli cabinet meeting of August 7, Israel appeared to have turned its back on the idea that the crisis can be solved by diplomatic methods. While Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky's appointment as Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz's representative at Northern Command for the duration of the war can be seen as as a criticism of Northern Command's performance during the past few weeks, the principal inference that can be drawn from the appointment is that from now on Israel is going to be much less restrained in its pursuit of the war. In particular, the ground campaign will be intensified in coming days, though precisely what this will involve is not yet clear: the possibilities are the addition of more divisions to the Southern Lebanon campaign, an eventual attack into the Bekaa Valley, which was discussed in an earlier Stratfor report, or a move on Beirut by land.

The report sees Hizballah's options as now quite limited:
In the south, the militants are committed to a static defense that they seem to be executing well. In the Bekaa Valley, they might opt to resist or to draw the Israelis in and then try to impose an insurgency on them. The same in the southern Beirut area. They might also decide to try and launch some of the longer-range rockets they claim to have, assuming the Israeli air force hasn't taken them out.
At all events, the analysis concludes, Israel's fighting strategy has shifted once again, as this new phase of the war begins.

See also: The Ground Offensive
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