Israel and Hezbollah Both Declare Victory
An AP report on Israel begining its troop pullout from Lebanon includes this passage several paragraphs in:
On Monday, both Israel and its main backer, the United States, portrayed Hezbollah as the loser — and by extension, its main backers, Iran and Syria. “There’s going to be a new power in the south of Lebanon,” Bush said.
But Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, claimed a “strategic, historic victory.” Much of the Arab and Muslim worlds would agree. Hezbollah’s ability to withstand the vastly superior Israeli military — and hit back with deadly ambushes and cross-border rocket volleys — has given it heroic stature. In Damascus, Syrian President Bashar Assad said the region has changed “because of the achievements” of Hezbollah, and U.S.-supported political changes were “an illusion.”
The sentiments could complicate any attempts to disarm or sideline the guerrillas — who also have 14 votes in Lebanon’s legislature and two in the Cabinet. Nasrallah drove home the point by deriding Lebanese officials who have urged Hezbollah to give up its weapons. “This is immoral, incorrect and inappropriate,” he said.
While Israel won militarily–inflicting far more damage than it absorbed–it rather clearly lost politically. The evidence continues to mount that Hezbollah has emerged emboldened and with increased respect in the Arab world. The moderate Arab states that rushed to condemn Hezbollah for provoking the war, presumably expecting Israel to finish them off, have not been heard from in weeks.