The 12-Year Transformation
Amid the collective despond that gripped “Israel” and its Western allies in the aftermath of the 2006 war with Hezbollah, both Ehud Olmert and George W. Bush claimed victory because Lebanon had apparently been ‘transformed’.
The two former leaders, who presided over the 2006 offensive, were referring to the terms of the fragile ceasefire agreement which dictated that Hezbollah withdraw north of the Litani River and eventually disarm.
Twelve years on and those two stated objectives have never been a more distant prospect.
Today Hezbollah and the Resistance Axis have all but hijacked “Israel’s” long-term deterrent power while the party’s ‘national achievements’ continue to transform Lebanon’s political landscape.
The home front
Following the conclusion of the 34-day “Israeli” offensive, veteran journalist David Hirst summed up the outcome of the conflict by declaring that Hezbollah “kept at bay one of the world’s most powerful armies for over a month, and inflicted remarkable losses on it.”
Although this statement is accurate, it is also a slight oversimplification of what was undoubtedly one of Tel Aviv’s most severe geostrategic setbacks.
While Resistance fighter did indeed inflict “remarkable losses” on attacking “Israeli” troops, Hezbollah also made history by extending the battle to “Israel’s” so-called ‘home front’.
The thousands of Hezbollah rockets that rained down on Zionist settlers had a devastating psychological effect, leaving many “Israelis” feeling abandoned by their leaders.
More importantly, the attacks exposed serious vulnerabilities in “Israel’s” defenses, further shattering it’s aura of invincibility.
In the years that followed, those vulnerabilities would continue to haunt the “Israeli” military and political establishments.
So much so that “Israeli” critics of Tel Aviv’s performance in 2006 have arrived at the conclusion that maybe the war wasn’t so terrible because the next one could have Hezbollah flags being hoisted across the ‘home front’.
In a speech delivered last year, Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah sent shockwaves throughout “Israel”, claiming that any future confrontation would take place “inside the occupied Palestinian territories”.
“There will be no place that is out of reach of the rockets of the resistance or the boots of the resistance fighters,” Sayyed Nasrallah said.
Underscoring Hezbollah’s newly acquired deterrent power, the leader of the resistance group explained that “’Israel” has been threatening for 10 years to open a front against Hezbollah, but it hasn't done anything.”
“”Israel” is afraid of any confrontation,” he added.
Hezbollah’s triumph in Syria has only solidified what is quickly becoming known as the new regional status quo.
When the “Israelis” launched their offensive in 2006, then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert set the bar high, vowing to ‘eradicate’ Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Twelve years later, Tel Aviv has been reduced to limited attacks or its so-called ‘security responses’ – reacting to single events, void of any long term strategy, careful to avoid a wide-scale conflict and driven solely by its obsession to keep the Resistance Axis away from the occupied Golan Heights.
Moreover, the outcome of the Syrian conflict guaranteed that any prolonged “Israeli” attack on Hezbollah would quickly spiral into a regional war, the course of which would be impossible to control.
These new geopolitical realities coupled with Hezbollah’s sophisticated level of tactical experience and weaponry make the prospects of a Third Lebanon War highly unlikely.
Joint efforts by the West, Gulf monarchies and “Israel” against Hezbollah date back to the group’s inception in 1982.
Some of the more recent episodes include the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the 2006 “Israeli” attack, the brief armed confrontation between Lebanon’s rival political camps in May 2008 and of course the beginning of the unrest in Syria in 2011.
Each of these chapters dealt a blow to Tel Aviv and its allies, and each resulted in the emergence of a stronger Hezbollah.
One of the crucial moments in this decades-long conflict came in May of this year when Hezbollah and its political allies won the Lebanese parliamentary elections, gaining 67 out of 128 seats.
Sayyed Nasrallah later said that the results guaranteed the protection of the resistance against “Israel”.
“This is a great political and moral victory for the resistance option that protects the sovereignty of the country,” he stated.
Contrary to the 2006 observations by Olmert and Bush, Lebanon’s ‘transformation’ came in the form of Hezbollah becoming the country’s leading political force.
The outcome of this year’s polls also attested to the importance that the party places on receiving recognition from its citizens. But perhaps more importantly, the electoral victory was made possible by the group’s ability to keep the “Israelis” out of Lebanon twelve years prior.
And as “Israel’s” legitimacy diminishes in the eye of the world, Hezbollah’s is only growing.