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July 21, 2006
The Coming Invasion

Israel has moved several divisions to its northern border and a full-scale ground invasion appears imminent. The order has not yet been given, but it looks inevitable at this point:

The IDF was gearing up for a large-scale ground incursion into Lebanon on Friday. Thousands of reservists were being mobilized to the North throughout Friday to beef up forces stationed in the area in preparation for a possible operation.

In total, three to four ground divisions will be operating along the Lebanese front.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said on Friday that the defense establishment was evaluating the size of the force needed to conduct a large-scale operation in Lebanon.

"We have no intention of being dragged into something that Hizbullah wants to drag us into," Peretz said. "Nevertheless, we will operate in every place that we find it necessary."

On Friday afternoon, the IAF dropped leaflets over southern Lebanon all the way up to the Litani River calling on residents to move northward to avoid being caught in clashes between IDF forces and Hizbullah cells. The move could signify a step in preparation for the ground incursion.

A ground invasion would likely trigger one or more of a variety of responses, none of them good in the short term. The Lebanese government has warned that it will meet an Israeli invasion with the Lebanese Army, apparently in alliance with the Hezbollah terrorists the IDF wishes to crush. That will create circumstances that would almost require the Israelis to start hitting a broader range of targets in Lebanon. Thus far, they have (mostly) restrained from targeting the regular Lebanese army, although they did bomb Lebanon's air bases in the opening salvos. Beirut may figure it has nothing much more to lose at this point, but a miscalculation on this point could cost them their ability to conduct internal security for a long time to come.

Syria has at least one division poised on the border, and some predict an Israeli invasion could trigger one from Syria as well. A look at the map shows that reasoning to be quite valid. Syria at one point had friends all around and its pick of resupply routes, but no longer. Turkey, a member of NATO and a putative US ally, lies to the north, along with a lot of ethnic Kurds that do not much like the Assad regime. Jordan, another US ally, lies to the south, along with Israel. To the east used to be an Iraq led by their Ba'athist cousins, but now has an American military contingent of 135,000 battle-hardened troops. Their only outlet comes through Lebanon to the Mediterranean, and if Israel takes control, the Syrians are bottled up, and they know it. (Not quite -- see update below.)

If Syria comes into the battle, don't expect the Iranians to do much about it, at least not explicitly. Ahmadinejad will talk tough, but his military can barely defend Iran, let alone launch offensive operations against Israel. If Teheran sends missiles up. Israel can respond in kind and with a bomb drop in short order over American-controlled Iraq. Instead, Teheran will push the temperature up by getting their proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Gaza, and the West Bank to start attacking indiscriminately to distract Israel and the US from the widening war in Lebanon.

Will it be worth it? Certainly not in the short run, but perhaps it will in the long run. This war will almost certainly happen at some point, absent multiple coups in Syria and Iran, and it might be better to have it now, rather than when Iran has nukes. Everyone knows that Damascus and Teheran sponsors global Islamofascist terror, and we can't stop it unless we stop them both. It still would be preferable to get the nations of the world to agree to isolate both nations and bring terrorism to an end peacefully -- but the Europeans still believe in appeasement, and Russia and China want to play superpower games instead.

By tomorrow morning, we should know whether Assad was bluffing or not. We know the Israelis aren't any longer.

UPDATE: Of course, I forgot about the ports of Latakia and Tartus, the latter of which was coincidentally the last holdout for the Crusaders, when it went by Tortossa. However, the Mediterranean would not be a friendly area at all for the Syrians, as the Israel's navy and that of Turkey would likely blockade Syria rather easily.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 21, 2006 1:48 PM

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» Shock and Awe Ends; The Ground War Begins from Webloggin
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» Here It Comes from It Shines For All
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