April 3, 2008 | Posted by Abu Muqawama - 12:46pm | 7 Comments
For those of you who a) have an interest in transnational terror groups in Lebanon and b) read Arabic, you could do a lot worse than to check out the reporting of Fida' Itani, who has covered the hell out of this story for the past year for al-Akhbar.
(Yeah, Abu Muqawama knows al-Akhbar's
editorial line and biases, but that doesn't change the fact that Itani has some great contacts in the camps.)
March 27, 2008 | Posted by Abu Muqawama - 3:49am | 4 Comments
"There is huge concern bordering on panic in Damascus," said Paul Salem, head of the Carnegie Foundation's office in Beirut. "There is a sense that Syria is drifting into a very serious problem without having thought through how to deal with it."
As an obnoxious American, it's tough for Abu Muqawama to imagine the UN ever striking fear into the heart of a sovereign state, but that's exactly what the UN is doing in the corridors of powers in Damascus. Fredo Corleone
is at a loss for what to, according to this article from the Guardian.
March 23, 2008 | Posted by Abu Muqawama - 6:35am | 6 Comments
Brian Keenan was kidnapped in Beirut in 1986 by Islamic Jihad, a shadowy civil war-era organization often linked to Hizbollah.* He was released in 1990. The Sunday Times features an account of his first visit back to Beirut
since his release.
*Hizbollah has traditionally disavowed any link with Islamic Jihad and that organization's kidnapping and bombing activities, but that's a little more difficult to do considering the way in which Hizbollah publicly embraced Imad Mughniyeh following his assassination. What does Abu Muqawama think? Well, it's a bit like a rugby player who represents his country one weekend, his club team another weekend, and perhaps Barbarians
the next. Did Hizbollah as an organization
bomb the USMC barracks or kidnap Brian Keenan or John McCarthy? Maybe not. But the actors were often the same, so trying to deny a connection to or knowledge of the acts is a little rich.
March 21, 2008 | Posted by Abu Muqawama - 12:40pm | 0 Comments
Peter F. Dorman
, an Egyptologist, has been named the new president of the American University of Beirut
March 21, 2008 | Posted by Abu Muqawama - 4:33am | 0 Comments
This strikes Abu Muqawama as a great job.
He's not applying, but he'll be interested in who they hire.
March 17, 2008 | Posted by Abu Muqawama - 5:19pm | 5 Comments
Right on cue, the new March edition of the U.S. Military Academy Combating Terrorism Center's Sentinel has been published and is on their website
. Why do you need to read this edition? For Andrew Exum, responding to the misguided notion that Israel lost in 2006 because they had "overlearned" COIN:The 2006 war was not evidence, then, that Israel had over-learned the lessons of counter-insurgency, but rather the opposite: Israel has never effectively learned counter-insurgency in the first place. Even in the West Bank and Gaza, the IDF continues to approach the fighting there as a counter-terrorism mission instead of a counter-insurgency mission. Moreover, while the presence of both a radicalized settler population and historical animosities might preclude the application of an effective counter-insurgency strategy in the Occupied Territories, Israel has never developed and applied counter-insurgency doctrine along the lines of FM 3-24 despite years of experience in irregular warfare dating back to Jewish guerrilla groups in pre-state Israel.
In some wars, history teaches us that you cannot shoot or kill your way to victory. As U.S. Army Colonel H.R. McMaster has written, “the principal lesson of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and southern Lebanon might be that military campaigns must be subordinate to a larger strategy that integrates political, military, diplomatic, economic and strategic communication efforts.” Guns, bombs and tactics from the Second World War are simply not enough. This has been the harsh lesson of the U.S. military’s counter-insurgency campaigns since 2001, and this is also the enduring lesson of Israel’s war with Hizb Allah.
March 17, 2008 | Posted by Abu Muqawama - 2:23pm | 1 Comment
Abu Muqawama has been reading the Matt Matthews monograph on the 2006 war
this afternoon. It is quite good, and we can recommend it. But one thing bothers Abu Muqawama. Matthews tries to make it sound as if the IDF was aces in counterinsurgency and then just messed up the conventional fight. He describes the IDF counterinsurgency efforts between 2000 and 2006 as "highly successful." Friends, Abu Muqawama can think of a lot of modifiers to describe Israeli counterinsurgency efforts, but "highly successful" ain't one of them.
March 17, 2008 | Posted by Abu Muqawama - 6:10am | 12 Comments
Attention, readers: Matt Matthews has published his long-awaited report on the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbollah
. You no doubt remember the awesome interview Matthews conducted with Shimon Naveh
. Abu Muqawama just
downloaded this paper and will read it with interest. While you're on the Combat Studies Institute website, also download Daniel Helmer's paper on Israeli COIN efforts in Lebanon between 1982 and 2000.
March 7, 2008 | Posted by Kip - 7:58am | 10 Comments
How did the US Army originally come to a doctrine that disregarded our history of small wars? They came to it by looking to the 1973 Israeli Yom Kippur war where the Israelis had an entire Egyptian Army surrounded and cut off.
We missed the point of that war, which Anwar Sadat or one of his generals once quipped was the "6 minute" war, the approximate length of time it took Egyptian forces to overcome the Suez defenses. Israeli narrative to the contrary, Sadat was not looking to deal a death blow to Israel; Israel's nuclear arsenal made that impossible. Rather, as George Gawrych's excellently researched account, the Albatross of Decisive Victory, makes clear, Sadat was creating a corrective to the Israeli's 1967 narrative of invincibility that would allow him to eventually overcome the Arab summit's "three no's." (no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel).
Although Egypt would have liked to end the war with the Suez in its control rather than with its Army surrounded, the war did solve a number of the underlying political problems for Sadat and allowed him to negotiate with Begin, who was in power due in major part to the war.
Israel also took many of the same lessons as the United States from the war. Israel ignored the almost continuous low-level conflict of its early years and sought solace in firepower and maneuver. In 1982, this led it to the suburbs of Beirut, to a national crisis in Sabra and Shatila that shook the nation to its core, and finally to a long Shiite dominated insurgency that finally sent the Israelis packing from southern Lebanon after 18 years.
The US meanwhile didn't bother to learn from Lebanon even as it left its own blood-soaked sojourn in the country's capital. Instead, it found solace in the next decade in its 1973 lessons, which were falsely re-affirmed by Panama and the Gulf War.
Today after our own rush to Baghdad, followed by our own national crisis in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, and long insurgencies with no end in sight in both Afghanistan and Iraq, I fear that men like LTC Gentile will have us looking to learn the wrong lessons again from the Israelis. Already, a small cadre of the authors of FM 3-0 are touting it around the country as the salve to an Army grown too focused on counterinsurgency as proven by the Israelis in 2006.
If anything is proven by that war, it is the dangers of failing to adapt as an institution to defeat or co-opt a threatening irregular enemy. It was the Israelis inability to deal with the underlying causes of conflict in Lebanon from 1982-2000, their relative ineptitude in developing a comprehensive approach to the war that recognized the military as the servant of the political, that set the conditions for 2006. It was Hassan Nasrallah's excellence in information operations that allowed Hezbollah to "win the war" not his successful infantry tactics. What 2006 shows is for how long a nation can be made to pay for its unsuccessful counterinsurgencies, not that we need a corrective balm when we remain so far from equipping and organizing an Army that can effectively pursue large stability operations.
One need look no further than the Army's quixotic efforts at combat advising than to know that we aren't yet ready for the wars of today.
March 6, 2008 | Posted by Abu Muqawama - 4:17am | 0 Comments
The Lebanese Republic is a small, mostly mountainous country in the Western Asia, on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Palestine to the south.
Okay, there's no rule or treaty out there saying Lebanon has to recognize the State of Israel. (Although if Abu Muqawama had been invaded by a country three times since 1978 and partially occupied for 18 years he might bother to learn the country's name.) But this is from a United Nations website
, not the Lebanese Government. Israeli friends, it's okay: you're not being paranoid if someone really is
out to get you. (h/t MK)
Second, via Arabist
, why is "knight" considered a specialized profession in Lebanon? Are knights the children of wealthy parliamentarians? And why have their ranks swelled and waned in recent years?Update: Well, well, well. The UN has updated the website.
Apparently Lebanon is now bordered to the south by the Zionist Entity. Who knew?!