|from USA Today by Dennis Ross:|
In one of those paradoxes that so often seem to characterize the Middle East, Hamas and Hezbollah have acted to provoke an Israeli reoccupation of Gaza and extensive military operations in Lebanon. Israel might not want to be in either place, but with cross-border attacks and kidnapped Israeli soldiers, Israelis feel the need to impose a price and show such attacks come with consequences.
The problem, of course, is that for Israel it is much easier to get into Gaza and Lebanon than to get out. And that does not seem to bother either Hamas or Hezbollah. Though both claim to oppose Israeli occupation, Israeli withdrawal denies them their basis for resistance. Now with Israel back in Gaza and acting militarily in Lebanon, they have something to fight. For these Islamists, it is the cause, not humanity, that matters. And while they have always been sensitive to the public mood and support, the impact of Palestinian and Lebanese public opinion will play less of a role in ending these crises because of the pervading influence of Iran and Syria.
As the primary financier and supplier of Hezbollah and a patron of Hamas, Iran enjoys demonstrating to the Europeans and others the costs to regional stability if it faces continued pressure on nuclear issues, and it will try to manipulate these crises for its benefit.
Despite Iran's role, it is Syria that will determine how long these crises continue. In the case of Hamas, its external leadership operate and enjoy sanctuary in Damascus; should Syrian President Bashar Assad threaten to expel Hamas from Damascus if it does not release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and stop the rocket fire out of Gaza, the crisis would end quickly.
Read the whole article. Excellent with suggestions at the end.