Thursday, July 13, the United States vetoed a draft resolution presented to the UN Security Council by Qatar on behalf of Arab nations to step up pressure on Israel to stop attacking the Gaza Strip and urging the release of a kidnapped Israeli soldier.
The measure was supported by 10 of the other 14 members. Britain, Denmark, Peru and Slovakia abstained in the vote.
“We didn't think any useful purpose would be served by a resolution or council action with respect to the situation in Gaza,'' U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters before the vote. “Israel has a right of self defense.”
Passage of this resolution would inevitably have been followed by a full condemnation of Israel’s Lebanon operation that was sparked by Hizballah’s abduction of two Israeli soldiers Wednesday, July 13. But, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Washington sources, President George W. Bush and his top team, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and national security adviser Stephen Hadley are granting Israel space for a military coup de grace against Hassan Nasrallah as leader of the Hizballah terrorist group.
That space has a fairly tight time limit. It opened up Wednesday night, July 13, and will start closing in Sunday morning, July 16, a few hours before the G-8 summit gets down to brass tacks in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.
Israel is in a race against time therefore to achieve four goals:
1. To destroy Hizballah’s 10,000 rocket and missile arsenal which battered northern Israel for most of Thursday.
2. To wipe out the hard core of Hizballah’s armed militia, which is estimated at 5,000 to 7,000 men.
3. To make sure its air, land and sea blockade of Lebanon is watertight to seal off any flow of Iranian reinforcements and weapons from reaching Hizballah.
4. To apply political pressure in conjunction with the United States and France to isolate Nasrallah on the Lebanese political scene as a pariah.
The Olmert government therefore proposed – and the Bush administration agreed – that Israel would mobilize its entire air force, deploying every fighter, bomber and assault helicopter for a massive pounding of Nasrallah’s power structures.
Thursday alone, Israeli aircraft carried out 600 bombing sorties.
Bush approved this tactic – not so much for the sake of the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers, Lebanon’s future or even Israel’s national security, but because of Iraq.
Our Washington sources report that the White House knows all about the close relationship between Nasrallah in Beirut and the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr in Baghdad’s Sadr City. The Hizballah leader was a pupil of Moqtada’s father, the widely revered Ayatollah Muhammed Sadr and they have much in common, especially their radicalism and militancy.
A defeat for the Hizballah leader would hurt Sadr’s prestige in Iraq, a setback that would be one in the eye for Tehran, which funds both the Hizballah in Lebanon and Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia in Iraq.
By early Friday, July 14, when these lines were written, the Israeli military operation in Lebanon was advancing rapidly according to plan. Israeli towns and villages were heavily rocketed by Hizballah, the price for the IDF’s haste to move ahead while letting such details as small rocket squads go by the wayside. The generals are not wasting a minute. No one can tell at this point whether Israel’s armed forces will be allowed to gain its objectives in the conflict with the Hizballah, or Syria and Iran will step in to stop them short.