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The chief of Israeli Military Intelligence told the Knesset that sanctions are having no effect on the Iranian nuclear program, though they have greatly harmed the country’s economy.

It follows that the sanctions do not adhere to the double effect doctrine: they harm the population without really targeting the enemy’s military. International warfare law only allows civilians to be harmed as collateral damage resulting from a substantial military action.

Israel is continually criticized for applying collective punishment to Gazans. Major powers do a similar thing in Iran on much larger scale without reproach from the UNSC.

Najib MikatiSurprisingly, Hezbollah has amassed a majority bloc in the Lebanese parliament and is about to form a new government without Hariri. We expected this development in the 2009 elections, but not now. The difference is due to paralysis of Western players who failed to bribe as many MPs as did Hezbollah. It used to be that the Saudis took care of such jobs in the Lebanese parliament, but this time the Saudis scaled back their usual intervention, frustrated by America’s failure to squeeze Syria out of Lebanese politics and Iran out of the race for Middle East hegemony.

So the West lost Hariri Sr in the assassination, and Hariri Jr in the dissolution of the impotent government whose crisis the United States and France provoked with their unnecessary tribunal.

Curiously, the billionaire Hariri is being replaced as the PM by another billionaire, Mikati. Which shows a bigger problem for the West: Hezbollah got sufficient financial sources among local businessmen and cannot be moderated through Syria. The West has now a short window of opportunity to befriend Hezbollah while it can act with relative independence from Iran. Failing to do so may result in a much stronger Hezbollah, Iran’s independent partner.

Hezbollah’s government has also inherited a Lebanese army beefed up by the US aid.

January 2011
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