Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 03, 2008

Hizbullah's Air Defense

With the Qatar agreement Lebanon policies are back in balance. Hizbullah has achieve one of its major goals, a veto minority in the cabinet. Another major goal was the acceptance of its military arm as a legitimate entity by the government.

Now that goal seems to have also been achieved:

A ministerial committee agreed Friday on a policy statement draft and referred it to the cabinet for ratification, Information Minister Tareq Mitri said after the body's 14th session.
He said the statement included a clause on the "right of Lebanon, its people, army and resistance to liberate or reclaim its land."

A Hizbollah member of the parliament was a bit more specific:

MP Hassan Fadlallah said Hizbullah's concept of the cabinet's policy statement draft is that "the resistance cooperates with the army so that resistance weapons would have the freedom to defend the terrain and resist Israel."

There will be more wrangling about this but the principle of Hizbullah's right to run a military wing will soon be official Lebanese government policy.

Meanwhile a new round of fighting between Lebanon and Israel is brewing up.

Israel daily violates Lebanese airspace. The Lebanese government and the U.N. forces in Lebanon have filed several complains to no avail. Now Hizbullah has announced to take "practical measures" against future overflights.

The Israelis are concerned that Hizbullah might get anti-aircraft missiles to counter their illegal activities. The disinformation site Debka has for some time alleged that Hizbullah is building radar stations on mountain peaks in Lebanon. Few details are available, but it may well be that Hizbullah is acquiring air defense capabilities.

It would be within the full sovereign rights, and one might argue duty, of the Lebanese government to defend its air space and to give orders to shoot down Israeli drones and fighter planes flying over its territory. As the Lebanese army, thanks to its 'Western' sponsors, has zero anti-air capability, the government might delegate that task to the again legitimized resistance, Hizbullah's military wing.

A downed Israeli pilot in Hizbullah hands could be valuable in regaining Sheba farm area which is still occupied by Israel.

Israel could of course avoid to have its planes attacked over Lebanon. It would simply have to stop its illegal overflights.

Posted by b on August 3, 2008 at 17:40 UTC | Permalink


I find Hezbollah interesting from an org perspective. Like the latter day IRA, they seem to have political as well as an military wing. Good dynamic to indicate popular support as well as the means to carry out any threat.

It remains to be seen how well they can manage that. The remaining sects will have to be kept happy else they'd sell themselves out to Israel, lebanon be damned. The elites as usual.

I wonder what hezbollah thinks is the "minimum deterrent"? What force/skill should they have to inflict that level of damage to any Israeli offense that will give the Israeli leadership pause? If they figure that out AND keep their internal political situation stable then there is possibility of "indirect negotiations", Syria style.

But someone on the Israeli side is going to miscalculate....again.

Posted by: shanks | Aug 3 2008 18:37 utc | 1

Air defense is a tricky matter. I don't think Israel lost a plane in combat since 1985. Hizbullah may be better off concentrating on more and better rockets. That might dissuade Israel from mass bombing of population centers.

That said, I wonder if the new government in Beirut can now officially and legally buy top Chinese or Russian SAMs...for use by its 'army,' of course.

Posted by: Lysander | Aug 3 2008 21:12 utc | 2

Did Israel wage war on any power with serious air defense since 1985?

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 4 2008 2:23 utc | 3

the people of South Lebanon tend to be characterized as Arab. Lebanese, Shiite, Hizbullah, but another undisputable characteristic is that they know how to work together for a common good. Possibly from way back when even before the advent of Christianity & Islam.

Labels do'nt always tell the whole truth

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 4 2008 4:31 utc | 4

There has not really been a conflict between an air power and high quality ground based air defences for decades. The last round in the middle east was won by air power but these things go in cycles. The quality of land based air defences have improved enormously over the last few decades while the aircraft available to Israel have not changed much. Trends in cheaper and faster computers have shifted the balance towards land based anti-aircraft missiles giving lower cost, bigger numbers and better detection and accuracy. The Pentagon is desperate to get the F-22 and JSF in part because it knows conventional aircraft don't stand a chance against a modern well thought out air defence network. If Hizbullah can set up an air defence network and figure out a way to get it activated before its knocked out by Israel (both difficult but possible) Hizbullah could possibly deny all Lebanese airspace to Israel. In fact, using nothing more than Russian ground based anti-air missiles they might be able to deny most of Israeli airspace to Israel as well.

Posted by: swio | Aug 4 2008 9:57 utc | 5

My mother, an American professor at the American U of Beirut in the 90s, told me that one of her students was the daughter of a spiritual leader of the Shi'ites. The young woman was a leader in the women's movement of Hizbullah. The women were going around South Lebanon leading consciousness-raising groups in which they used the Socratic method to teach poor Shi'ite women about their political and legal rights under Islam. They were coaching them to rebel against traditional restraints on women's rights to divorce, work, own property, choose whom to marry, refuse sex, etc - by telling them of actual rights they possess under Islamic law which tend to get ignored in practice.

Feminism in various Muslim movements is indeed being documented and there are books you could read on the subject in English. Because these women wear veils, however, we Westerners tend to overlook their activities as feminists.

So political arm of Hizbullah - yes, and if you do the research, plenty of scholars have studied this, and their work is available in English. Note that the political arm includes a strong and active women's movement.

Posted by: Leila Abu-Saba | Aug 6 2008 4:30 utc | 6

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