Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Part 5 of Israel, Iran and Hezbollah: Analysis by the Brookings Institution of How the Next Israeli-Hezbollah Conflict Might Unfold

In conclusion to this five part series on Israel and Hezbollah, there is an excellent summary from the Brookings Institution on how the war might unfold.  Brookings is one of the leading think tanks in Washington, DC, and this report is well worth reading.

The report starts by looking at both Israel and Hezbollah's objectives in a possible conflict.  In regards to Hezbollah, Brookings notes:
"Hizballah’s overarching military strategy will remain  largely the same as 2006—strike Israel with rocket fire while robustly confronting any ground invasion by the IDF. But new weapons and tactics are expected to be introduced in the next round."
Brookings believes that Hezbollah would move beyond the random rocket attacks on Israeli population centers, and that the Shiite group now has the military capacity to target specific Israeli military and civilian infrastructure to cause maximum damage.  Brookings concludes by summarizing Hezbollah's objectives:
"Hizballah has a complex set of goals: champion the domestic political interests of its core constituency, defend its military assets by force if necessary, deter an Israeli war against Lebanon, serve the deterrence interests of Iran, and fulfill the party’s ideological obligations of confronting and defeating the Jewish state." 
The report notes that Israel essentially has two possible options for ita next conflict with Hezbollah:

1)  Its "Maximalist" option would involve the complete destruction of Hezbollah as a military force.  This would involve both extensive air strikes by the Israeli Air Force, as well as extensive ground attacks into Lebanon by elite Israeli units such as the Golani Brigade, with the purpose of taking the war directly into Hezbollah's territory.

2)  Israel's second option is a "Limited Aims Strategy".  Brookings summarizes this as follows:
"The doctrine states that in a future war, Israel will flatten areas controlled by Hizballah in the same way that it inflicted damage on Dahiyah in the 2006 conflict . Israeli strategists, such as Gabi Siboni of the Institute for National Security Studies, have expanded upon that idea to advocate attacking Lebanese infrastructure in a short “punishment” campaign that would simply ignore Hizballah’s military assets, including the rocket batteries."
For those interested, here is the complete Brookings analysis.

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