The leaders of Hamas say they are winning the war in Gaza. They also say they hope to get a truce in 48 hours.
A senior Hamas source in Gaza says the group is optimistic about the prospect of securing a ceasefire with Israel in the near future.Meanwhile the Israelis who Hamas says are losing the battle say they would prefer the fighting to go on a while longer as they have some objectives hey would still like to meet.
"We can secure a truce within 48 hours," an aide to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told Ynet.
Ahmed Yusuf, Haniyeh's spokesman and political advisor, is a party to ongoing consultations in Gaza. Meanwhile, a delegation headed to Cairo to discuss the Egyptian-French ceasefire proposal. However, Israeli officials estimate that Hamas' political leadership in the Strip does not fully dictate the military moves on the ground.
Senior Israel Defense Forces officers expressed doubt over whether military efforts alone could bring regime change in the Gaza Strip, and said the army is far from achieving optimal conditions in the Strip to implement an exit strategy.
IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has instructed the army to prepare for action in Gaza since March 2007, shortly after he entered the post. That month, military programs were authorized that were eventually put into action as Operation Cast Lead.
The meetings dealt with the situation Israel seeks to see in the Strip after military operations are complete. An official present said the optimal situation would include several elements: steep reduction in rocket fire; neutralization of terror infrastructure; weakening of Hamas' position and organization, as well as its removal from power; creation of a "deterrent balance"; and reducing public support for the militant movement. In addition, Israel should not be viewed as being responsible for the Palestinian population, but the role should go to a central Palestinian establishment created in Gaza, led by moderate, pragmatic officials.
There is more news along those lines.
Israel has yet to exhaust all of its military options in the Gaza Strip and could step up its actions against Hamas if the government decides to press forward with Operation cast Lead, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday during a tour of the South.Translation: the Army still has some tricks up its sleeve and may need more time to accomplish its goals. It sure sounds to me like the Israelis are losing. They want the war to go on longer. And of course Hamas who is winning wants it to end ASAP. It sure sounds like Lebanon 2006 where the Arabs never lose and the Israelis never win. Another great victory for the mighty Palestinians.
Olmert also said that he was deeply impressed by the IDF's performance and achievements to date.
"The bottom line is that the test requiring a decision by the political echelon is how to ensure that the reality the IDF is currently in the act of changing does not again control the South, and that quiet prevails," Olmert said.
"We have yet to arrive at this situation, and the army still hasn't been asked to carry out everything that is required to this end. So the decision still awaits us."
Meanwhile, the bankrollers of Hamas and Hizballah Iran is pulling in its claws. They are advising their jihadists that suicide bombings and other militant activity against Israel is not the way to go.
Iran's top leader has banned hard-line Iranian volunteers from leaving the country to carry out suicide bombings against Israel.Maybe like getting them to surrender ASAP?
Iran's state television on Thursday quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying that Iran can't allow volunteers to cross its border and take military action against Israel. But he said Iran won't spare any efforts to assist Hamas in other ways.
This is definitely a new direction for the Iranian regime. I wonder why they have had a change of heart. Did some one tell them that although they may not be interested in war that war is interested in them? Some one certainly whispered something in their ear. Perhaps low oil prices are keeping them on a short leash.
The correlation of forces does not appear to be to their advantage.
Did I mention oil prices? After a recent spike up to near $50 a bbl prices have fallen back to around $42 a bbl. Some analyst estimate that Iran needs prices near $90 a bbl. To keep its economy afloat. Obviously prices are around 1/2 that.
And Iran is having trouble buying diesel fuel.
Iran has reportedly bought three million barrels of gas oil from a Singapore trader to compensate for a loss of supplies from India.Ah yes. A price dispute. I think that means Iran is not paying its bills.
Hin Leong already supplied Iran with one million barrels of gas oil (diesel) in December, with another cargo of the same size due to be sent later in January, the Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed trader as saying.
Industry sources had said this week that the deal was for January to March, Reuters reported.
Iran signed a deal with India's MPRL in May to export 240,000 tons of gas oil up to December. The volume of the deal was doubled in August. Iran lacks adequate refining capacity to meet domestic demand.
However, the two sides have failed to resolve a price dispute. MPRL has confirmed that it was not slated to ship any cargoes to Iran in January, which might have prompted Tehran to turn to the Singapore trader.
Another sign of Iran's money troubles is that it is proposing an to end gasoline subsidies.
Faced with falling oil prices and a weakening economy, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presented a plan to Parliament on Tuesday that would scrap energy subsidies, a significant change in a major oil-producing country where gasoline is sold for 36 cents a gallon.Gasoline prices on the world market are now running about $1.10 a gallon. That would mean a factor of three increase in price. And yes - until the economy adjusts that would represent a rather severe hit to the Iranian economy.
Economists warn that the move could spur inflation and raise unemployment. But Mr. Ahmadinejad urged Parliament to vote for the bill because of the need to curb costly energy consumption, which the subsidies have encouraged.
And it is not just gasoline.
Electricity is now sold at just 6 cents per 10 kilowatt-hours. The plan would abolish all government subsidies for things like heating gas, gasoline, electricity and water within the next three years and allow prices to reach international levels.I think what the economic geniuses of Iran are finally figuring out is that oil socialism is not a viable long term economic strategy. And of course all that impacts their ability to fight proxy wars. Even proxies want to get paid.
While the plan seems likely to be unpopular, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s critics say he is trying to offset its impact and appeal to voters ahead of the June 2009 presidential election by also promising to give much of the money that is now paid in subsidies directly to the poor in the form of a monthly allowance.
The amount he proposes for the allowance is not yet clear, but monthly assistance to the poor has steadily dropped to $20 per person every month from nearly $70.
After the war in Lebanon in 2006, Iran opened its checkbook in an effort to mollify the Hizballh supporters who had taken a severe financial beating from the war. Israel did some serious urban renewal and the Iranians had to pay to keep their clients. Facing severe economic strains at home such a move, very unpopular in Iran in 2006, may be impossible for them in Gaza. Such difficulties may explain why Hizballah has refrained from joining in the current war in any more than a token way.
Cross Posted at Classical Values