The Tet Offensive
From the Gaza Strip.
1. On the third day of fighting after Hamas militants launched surprise rocket and ground assaults, Israel ordered a complete siege of the Gaza Strip, even as its military was still trying to remove Hamas gunmen from Israeli communities on the enclave’s border. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told the Southern Command that there would be a “full siege” of the densely populated enclave, which has a population of 2 million. “No electricity, no food, no fuel,” Gallant said. “We are fighting animals, and we will act accordingly.” (Source: washingtonpost.com)
2. As Israel combats the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip, it faces the strategic question of whether Iran will direct its other protégé, the Lebanese Hezbollah, to open a second front in the north. Hezbollah and Israel have already engaged in limited artillery exchanges that, according to the militant group, Monday killed three of its fighters. Hezbollah said it struck two Israeli military bases near the border using guided missiles and mortars, while the Pentagon warned the group to “think twice” before opening a second front and said the U.S. was prepared to come to Israel’s defense. Iran and Hezbollah have strongly supported Saturday’s invasion of southern Israel by Hamas, which briefly overran Israeli military bases and several villages and towns, killing at least 900 Israelis and taking many others hostage to Gaza. With its arsenal of precision missiles that could target Israeli air bases and infantry forces hardened by the Syrian war, Hezbollah is a much more powerful enemy than Hamas. Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that Iran, which has long supplied Hezbollah with weapons, helped plan Hamas’s attack on Israel. Hezbollah’s entry into the war, however, could unleash direct Israeli strikes not just against Lebanon but also against Iran. Such an escalation could drag the U.S. into a much wider conflict—not something that Tehran is likely to be interested in at this stage. (Source: wsj.com)
3. Bruce Hoffman:
This conflict is far from over, and it is completely unpredictable as to how it will progress. Powerful, centrifugal forces have been unleashed that have rewritten the rules for Israel and Hamas, and perhaps others in the region. For instance, given Hezbollah’s longstanding ties with Hamas and the fact that their mutual state patron has an immense interest in ensuring the longevity of its regional terrorist clients, Hezbollah will, of its own accord but completely in sync with Iran’s wishes, likely enter the war if Israel launches a ground assault in Gaza. The consequences will then be enormous. This happened during the summer of 2006, when clashes between Israel and Hamas triggered Hezbollah attacks in the north. (Read the rest. No paywall. Source: cfr.org)
Susan Glasser's interview with President Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan contained some interesting snippets about Ukraine exit scenarios…
The Biden administration's goal seems to be the following: get a standstill agreement, followed by a negotiated settlement later. The parameters of any deal is to hold Nato together, and it must not isolate the Ukrainians. The total time frame is 3-5 years.
But Sullivan is worried. Ukraine is not succeeding militarily. The counter-offensive has not made much progress despite some isolated successes. At the same time, a negotiated settlement is impossible with Vladimir Putin in power, he thinks.
We find it interesting that the White House is more worried than it lets on in public. (Sources: eurointelligence.com, newyorker.com)
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