As a conflict between Israel and Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah
entered the 12th day on Sunday, Egyptian experts said that the
conflict was set to usher in a new Middle East.
"I think what is going on in Lebanon at the moment would open
the door for a big change in the Middle East region," said Ramadan
Abdul Kader, editor-in-chief of the English-language daily The
"Israel's military operations in Lebanon tell of one fact:
Israel would not stop until Hezbollah is disarmed," Abdul Kader
This might be true. Earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert told a cabinet meeting that the current Lebanon crisis
would last for a long time.
Olmert said that the Israeli army would not be restrained in its
operations against Hezbollah guerillas, Israel's best-selling
newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
Violence between Israel and Hezbollah erupted on July 12 when
Hezbollah guerillas abducted two Israeli soldiers and killed eight
in a cross-border attack.
Israel said that its military response was aimed at removing the
group from southern Lebanon.
More than 300 Lebanese and 37 Israelis have been killed in
firefights between the two sides, while tens of thousands of
foreign nationals have been fleeing Lebanon.
"Israel was sending clear messages to both Syria and Iran by
doing so," Abdul Kader said, adding that Hezbollah was believed to
be supported by Syria and Iran.
He said that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will
start her crisis mission in the Middle East soon, was speaking
about a new map for the region.
"But, I have to say that the American version of the Middle East
is one that is full of chaos and destruction. Just look at what is
going on in Iraq," said Abdul Kader.
Ahmed Hany Hassnein, a senior editor and Mideast affairs expert
based in Cairo, said that the ongoing conflict between Israel and
Hezbollah has opened a new chapter in Middle East affairs.
"Some of old strategies have become obsolete and new elements
have emerged in an international formula," he wrote in an article
carried by the Egyptian Gazette on Friday.
The most important new element was the breaking of Israel's
strategic security taboo -- not attacked at home, he said. Since
the outbreak of the conflict, Hezbollah has fired hundreds of
rockets into northern Israel. Haifa, Israel's third largest city,
has also come under attack, with several resident skilled.
Hassnein said that such a conflict was tantamount to are
distribution of the pack before a new deal that will change the
Israel would have to change its policies based on a new security
and strategic reality after the conflict was over, he said.
He said that Iran has a role to play in the conflict in Lebanon
since it maintained close relations with Syria and Hezbollah,
adding that Iran would play such a card in negotiations with
Western powers on its nuclear program.
"Syria also needs a new formula to have a greater role after its
army withdrew from Lebanon," said Hassnein.
However, Mamdouh Qenawi, political analyst and chief of the
Constitutional Social Liberal Party, had an eye on what would
happen inside Lebanon after the conflict.
"After the guns fall silent, the Lebanese would start to bring
Hezbollah leaders to account," Qenawi said, adding that Hezbollah
leaders would be held responsible for destruction of infrastructure
and death of many Lebanese.
To Qenawi's mind, the idea of some Lebanese blaming Hezbollah
meant that there might be a sectarian strife in Lebanon.
"Whether Lebanon would remain a unified country after this big
argument is a question," Qenawi said.
"At the same time, if the conflict (between Israel and Hezbollah)
means something to the Palestinians, it means that the creaking
railway carriage of peace has already derailed and there is no way
to put it back on track," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency July 24, 2006)