War of resources

Marketplace Staff Aug 17, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: We know this much. The United Nations force in Lebanon will have about 15-thousand troops. Soldiers from as many as 16 countries. Norway to New Zealand. Beyond that, though, we don’t know much else. Exactly where those soldiers will be. What their rules of engagement will be. And whether they’ll be able to…or be asked to…disarm Hezbollah. Commentator Abraham Sofaer says the way to do it is to use both the carrot and the stick.


ABRAHAM SOFAER: You can’t destroy a community-based organization like Hezbollah through military action alone. That’s impossible.

The way to disarm Hezbollah is to diminish its capacity to fight. That capacity is based largely on Iran’s money and equipment, which reaches Hezbollah only with Syria’s cooperation.

We don’t have a viable way to negotiate with Iran. But we have dealt with Syria before and we can negotiate with them again. Confronting Hezbollah is part of the war on terror, but we have to fight that war opportunistically.

Syria’s President Assad doesn’t support terrorism for ideological reasons. He supports it because he wants back the Golan. The Golan is strategically important and has world-class wineries.

Syria also wants Israel to share the limited water in the Sea of Galilee, something Israel has rejected before.

But these problems can be overcome. Israel has signaled a willingness to return the Golan if it gets adequate security. It can resolve its water problems, and it may even be able to lease back the wineries.

Talking to Syria for the sake of talking will lead nowhere if Syria still thinks it can support terror with impunity.

The US and Israel have to make Syria see that continued support for terror in Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq is not a cost-free option. But we can also tell Syria it can get back its land in exchange for cutting off that support.

If we have the resolve, then we can at least test the hypothesis that Syria is more interested in real estate and national prestige then in helping to make Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nasrallah the hero of the Arab world.

RYSSDAL: Abraham Sofaer is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He was the legal advisor to the US State Department from 1985 to 1990.

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