BLOG 309 July 4, 2016
As America waves the flag and the parades march down the street, what’s happening in the Middle East? Well, they are not celebrating American Independence Day, but plenty is going on. Might make the USA a bit more to be proud about.
The Iraq army appears to finally be getting into gear. They have fully liberated Fallujah, a predominantly Sunni City. The elite Iraqi counterterrorism troops are mainly Shiites. This city fell to ISIS over two years ago and the recapture is a major achievement for the Iraq government. While former residents remain in crowded camps, they should be able to return soon. The next goal is the liberation of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
In a July 4th type celebration, the conquering soldiers fired their weapons into the air and loudly sang patriotic songs. Men marched while waving Iraqi flags. Just like an American band marching down Main street!
It’s not July the 4th with flags flying and bands playing in the park with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hard to believe ten years have passed since the Second Lebanon War and this terrorist organization has evolved into an organized army. As a political party, Hezbollah controls a third of the parliament in Beirut. The problem is that Hezbollah has been caught in the war in Syria and ended up in a quagmire of death and destruction. They have learned military insights from the war but have lost many lives, money, and momentum. They are struggling with a cash flow problem because of sanctions placed on them by the Lebanese banking system. Wounded veterans and pensions are draining their funds. The world knows they are a major dealer in narcotics, but illegal and illicit drug sales can stop the severe loss of funds.
Intelligence estimates believe Hezbollah maintains an army of between 40,000 and 45,000 soldiers. The army has somewhere around 120,000 surface-to-surface rockets and missiles which exceed what most countries in the world process. On the other hand, Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system has proved more than capable of shooting down projectiles when they fly over. The Israeli IDF is more than equal to the task of stopping their army. Israel continues to carefully study every detail of what Hezbollah is doing.
Hezbollah chief and commander Hassan Nasrallah has been described as a “fanatical personality who has lost all of his realistic appraisal abilities.” Israel officials have described him as having concern only for his personal security. He has certainly made himself into a billionaire by siphoning off funds into his own pocket. Sorry. No hot dogs for him!
The bottom line? It’s not going to be a July 4th celebration this year in Lebanon!
As Americans unfurl their flags, eat ice cream, and shoot fireworks into the night, they can know how fortunate they are in a world that remains in turmoil.