Rumors are spiraling around about the amount and types of weapons being transferred to Lebanon by Syria and Iran. Among the latest is that Lebanon is receiving or has received shipments of scud missiles that would put large amounts of Israeli-controlled territory within range for attack by Hezbollah or Lebanese forces.
Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday accused Syria of supplying Scud missiles to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah while publicly talking peace.There are also rumors that Israel has been actively considering attacking Lebanon but so far has refrained.
"Syria claims it wants peace while at the same time it delivers Scuds to Hezbollah whose only goal is to threaten the state of Israel," Peres told public radio.
According to Arab media and specialised think-tanks, Syria has been sending some of its arsenal of Scud missiles to Lebanon, an allegation denied by Damascus.
At the same time, according to the Wall Street Journal, the IDF came very close recently to attacking a convoy carrying weapons from Syria to Lebanon, but at the last moment decided against it.Lebanon is growing into a full-fledged strategically unbearable situation for Israel. Probably faster and more directly than Iran's nuclear program. Israel's problem, like the US/Israeli problem regarding Iran's nuclear program, is that bombing won't work. In the case of Iran, what an attack would really do is move the threat up from about ten years from now to about five years from now. The time when Iran's nuclear capabilities must seriously be considered in practical strategic evaluations of the region will not arrive until Iran has or could make a deliverable weapon, and attacking would cause (or maybe allow) Iran to devote more resources to that to bring that time forward.
In the case of Lebanon, an attack on the Lebanon/Syria border will clearly be an unprovoked attack. Lebanon can respond as it chooses and likely will launch a salvo at Israel. What does Israel do then? Does it overrun the UN troops on Lebanese territory so that it can face Hezbollah as it did in 2006? Also important is the question of how much diplomatic support the US will be able and inclined to offer Israel given an unprovoked attack.
Like the US and Israel with Iran, an attack on Lebanon is deterred right now. What Israel can do is find some way to rationalize waiting, as the US is doing with this supposed sanctions drive and containment strategy.
Lebanon will get effective anti-aircraft before the end of Obama's term in office. The US and Israel claim that such a step would lead to war, but war is not the overwhelming threat the US and Israel are used to thinking of it as. If there is a war, then Lebanon will attack Israel also, push any Israel occupying force off of its territory while causing both unacceptable casualties and leading to increased emigration from Israel and then, critically, still take delivery of the anti-aircraft systems later after the fighting.
Lebanon does not want war, Lebanon does not need war, but Israel threatening war has a smaller and smaller impact as time goes on.