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Yet Another War by Proxy

Translated from the Expressen article by correspondent Mats Larsson.

There were a lot of them during the Cold War - wars by proxy. The war in Lebanon is a new variant on the same theme.

Thank goodness there never was a full blown war between the US and the USSR. But there was never a shortage of local conflicts where the archenemies were indirectly involved.

Think back to the war in Angola as an example. In the one corner was the Marxist regime in Luanda with support from Cuba and the USSR. In the other corner was the Unita guerilla with support from South Africa and the US.

Even the middle east conflicts were partly wars by proxy. Israel backed by the US. Arab states such as Syria, Egypt, and Iraq backed by the USSR.

When the Israeli airforce with US fighter planes in 1982 shot down 86 Syrian USSR built MiGs the losses were felt even in Moscow.

In a way we're seeing the same thing today. A war by proxy, the new millennium model. The US is involved again, but communism has been exchanged for islamism.

The war in Lebanon is of course first and foremost a conflict between Israel and the Hezbollah. But there are other actors in the background.

The US as Israel see the Hezbollah as a terror organisation. The Hezbollah are accused of, amongst other things, the 1983 Beirut bombing which took 241 american lives. But above all the US see the danger in the Hezbollah growing stronger in Lebanon and the middle east. This also means a victory for the country that again is the main opponent of the US in the region - Iran.

This is why the US are so reluctant to twist the arm of Israel before the Hezbollah are severely weakened. This makes the conflict more difficult to resolve because the US are not seen as an impartial mediator.

And at the same time a lot hangs in the balance for Iran. The Hezbollah are Iran's foremost instrument in the middle east. A decimated Hezbollah would be a heavy loss for Teheran.

Iran don't have many friends in the arab world, aside from Syria. Suspicion is great against the shia muslim non-arabic mullahs in Teheran. But it is the ambition of the regime to take the islamist lead, to become the country that shows the way.

The leaders in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan see the danger in a growing Hezbollah and Iran. Which is why they initially condemned the Hezbollah raids. But now they're ducking for cover as they see how popular the Hezbollah and Hassan Nasrallah are becoming with their own peoples.

The dilemma for Israel and the US is that the longer the war draws out, the greater the suffering of Lebanon, all the more will hatred grow in the arab world. All the more recruits in the future for the Hezbollah and for islamist armed forces. As an example, at least 23 farmers were killed yesterday in an Israeli attack. They were loading trucks with fruits and vegetables.

Few wars end with decisive victories. This one isn't likely to either.

The opportunity for peace will arrive when both sides see something they have to win by it. And hopefully we're approaching that point. The Hezbollah have a limited number of rockets and soldiers and Israel might have the soldiers but they don't have the time.

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