But nothing ever happens the same way twice.
With the prospect of a return to Clinton-era diplomacy on the horizon, the Syrian regime must be banking on gaining more mileage out of the disruptive role it continues to play in the region, and the tactics which it implemented throughout the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that stretched on throughout the Clinton years.
At that time, peace was closer than it had ever been, and closer than it has ever been since. Slighted at having been sidestepped through the Oslo Accords, and intent on portraying itself as a regional player, the regime in Syria sought to gain leverage in its own negotiations with Israel (and the US) and project an image of regional influence by enabling Hamas and Islamic Jihad and activating their attacks at times when it was most hurtful and costly to the peace process and those pursuing it.
Today that option seems to have been neutralized with the effective end of an [excessively bloody] Israeli military campaign in Gaza which has rendered Hamas operationally defunct. Not only is the group now effectively cut off from its supply routes through Egypt, but the Gaza war has proved Hamas’ complete inability to mobilize any effective action against Israel emanating from the West Bank.
Which brings us back to Lebanon ...
... which was the scene of some “light” rocket fire into northern Israel (insert intense Israeli media commentary on the devastating effect on the mental well-being of farm animals affected by the rockets) attributed to another militant group, and instrument of Syrian “regional influence”, the PFLPL-GC.
Despite the “regional” connotations of the act, what this paltry attempt at launching rockets ended up reflecting was the operational constraints placed on any militant group operating in the region south of the Litani in the aftermath of UNSC Resolution 1701 and the presence of a 30,000-strong combined UNIFIL-Lebanese Army force mandated by that resolution. Indeed, Hizballah’s effective idleness, along with its attempts to move the theatre of supportive action for Hamas to Egypt, underlined that group’s own inability to act in the face of staunch resistance to the ignition of another conflict by the people most affected by it, the residents of the South. All this in the wake of the July War which, similarly to the most recent conflict, saw the group enter the fight as Hamas took a battering in Gaza.
With the Gaza card effectively diminished, and as the US renews its drive to push past the roadblocks and obstacles put up by the region’s radical movements (both on the Israeli side and along the Syrian-Iranian axis), the prospect of Lebanon being once again used as a Syrian-Iranian bargaining chip has intensified. And already, along with the sad proclamations of victory by Hamas, we now have proclamations by the Syrian regime that it is to them that the world owes a debt of gratitude for having kept our country out of war!