Lebanon 2: This Time It's Southwards


Marc Lynch on the regional reaction to Israel's Gaza strikes:

Almost every Arab media outlet, even those bitterly hostile to Hamas, is running bloody images from Gaza. But as with the 2006 Hezbollah war, Arab responses are enmeshed within deeply entrenched inter-Arab conflicts, dividing sharply between pro-U.S. regimes and the vast majority of expressed public opinion. One key divide revolves around the portrayal of the Arab regimes, with one side blasting Arab governments for what they are calling complicity with the Israeli attack and the other trying to create the impression that Arab leaders are working to formulate a collective response. As protests escalate, this dividing line will likely intensify….

However this round of violence ends—and it's hard to see any scenario in which it produces remotely positive results for anyone involved—the outcome at the regional level will likely be to further exacerbate these conflicts and to undermine the chances for the incoming Obama administration to make early progress. While Arab regimes will almost certainly survive the latest round of popular outrage, the regional atmosphere may prove less resilient. Syria has reportedly broken off its indirect peace talks with Israel, for instance. A bloody Hamas retaliation against Israelis seems highly likely, and if Abbas is seen as supporting the Israeli offensive against his political rivals then Hamas may well emerge from this even stronger within Palestinian politics. The offensive is highly unlikely to get rid of Hamas, but it will likely leave an even more poisoned, polarized and toxic regional environment for a new President who had pledged to re-engage with the peace process.

For an intelligent discussion of the background to the bombardment, see Daniel Levy's take, which lists some of the ways "America is involved, up to its eyeballs actually" with the conflict. Note: I don't share Levy's view that the U.S. should try to "set its own terms" for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian mess. I don't think Washington is capable of fixing it, or even at this point of doing much to improve it incrementally. Aside, that is, from refusing to subsidize the belligerants.