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Friday, May 16, 2008

Did Hezbollah Thwart a Bush/Olmert Attack on Beirut?

Nasrallah to Bush Are YOU talking to ME?
Nasrallah: "Are YOU talking to ME?"

See also :
Beirut Finally . . . The Fuller Picture
2 Nil to Hezbollah

Go Team Frankie!

This article is being excerpted in it's entirety under the powers granted me under E.U code 8496 namely: Section 34.b: "He agrees with me so I'm crowing about it"

This week Israel's Military Intelligence Chief, Major General Amos Yadlin complained to the Israeli daily Haaretz that "Hezbollah proved that it was the strongest power in Lebanon... stronger than the Lebanese and it had wanted to take the government it could have done it," He said Hezbollah, continued to pose a "significant" threat to Israel as its rockets could reach a large part of Israeli territory."

Yadlin was putting it mildly.

But what Intelligence Chief Yadlin did not reveal to the Israeli public was just how "significant" but also "immediate" the Hezbollah threat was on May 11. Nor was he willing to divulge the fact that he received information via US and French channels that if the planned attack on Lebanon's capitol went forward that Tel Aviv was subject, in the view of the US intelligence community to "approximately 600 Hezbollah rockets in the first 24 hours in retaliation and at least that number on the following day".

The Israeli Intel Chief also declined to reveal that despite Israel's recent psyche-war camping about various claimed missile shields "the State of Israel is perfecting", that this claim is being ridiculed at the Pentagon. "Israel will not achieve an effective shield against the current generation of rockets, even assuming no technological improvements in the current rockets aimed at it, for another 20 years. And that assumes the US will continue to fund their research and development for the hoped for shields" according to Pentagon, US Senate Intelligence Committee, and very well informed Lebanese sources.

The planned attack on Beirut

According to US Senate Intelligence Committee sources, the Bush administration initially green lighted the intended May 11 Israel 'demonstration of solidarity with the pro-Bush administration militias, some with which Israel has maintained ties since the days of Bashir Gemayal and Ariel Sharon.

In the end, "the Bush administration got cold feet", a Congressional source revealed. So did Israel.

Israel was not willing to proceed with the original Bush Administration idea which was to have Bush attend the May 15 Israel anniversary celebrations following the Israeli attack meant to hit Hezbollah hard, and give Bush the credit for coming to the dangerous region. The message was to be that Bush comes to the rescue 'on horseback and leads the US Calvary charge straight out of a B western movie where the bugle would sound and flag would be unfurled and the white hat good guys would show their stuff before riding into the sunset and back to Texas, leaving the results to the likely Obama administration to sort out.

The plan involved Israeli air strikes on South and West Beirut in support of forces it was assured would be able to surprise and resist Hezbollah and sustain a powerful offensive for 48 hours.

Also presumably disturbing to Israel was the report it received that Hezbollah "had once again in all probability hacked its "secure" military intelligence communications and the fear that the information would be shared with others.

The Hezbollah rout of the militias in West Beirut plus the fear of retaliation on Tel Aviv, ruining 60th anniversary celebrations, forced cancellation of the supportive attack.

Israel limited its actions to sending two F-15's and two F-16's into as far North as Tyre, one more of literally hundreds of violations of Lebanese airspace, sovereignty and SCR 1701.

Clearly frustrated, Cabinet Minister Meir Sheetrit said Israel should not yet take any action now, but warned" those things could change if Hezbollah takes over Lebanon." a few minutes earlier he had declared that Hezbollah had done just that and had treated the Lebanese army as a doormat.

Later in the Sunday cabinet meeting, Minister Ami Ayalon called for an emergency meeting of the political-security cabinet to discuss "the ongoing crisis in Lebanon and why Israel was not assisting friendly forces."

Minister Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) said that "Israel must immediately ask the [United Nations] Security Council to hold renewed discussions over resolution 1701." The minister was referring to the resolution that stopped the Israeli actions against Lebanon during the 34-day between in 2006, maintaining a fragile cease-fire.

Finally Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert informed Israeli supporters in Lebanon, through the media, and presumbly other means that" Israel was following the violence in Lebanon closely, but would refrain from intervening. Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Army Radio Sunday that Israel was prepared for the possibility that the situation in Lebanon will deteriorate into another civil war (meaning future opportunities for Israeli influence and interventon in Lebanon) and that the current fighting could end with a Hezbollah takeover of the government. "We need to keep our eyes peeled and be especially sensitive regarding all that is happening there," Vilnai told Army Radio.

The Bush administration, also disappointed, switched tactics and is opting for domination of the narrative of the fairly complicated events of the past week and using their media and confessional allies to launch a media blitz (minus Future TV for a few days} to flood the airways with:

· Hezbollah staged a coup d'état. Even Israel, if not the Bush administration, concedes Hezbollah has no interest in taking over the Government. (One observer, paraphrasing Winston Churchill's comment, deadpanned, "Some Hezbollah Coup! Some Hezbollah Etat!")

· Hezbollah brought it forces from the South and occupied West Beirut: Hezbollah not only did not bring their forces from the South to Beirut (rather they remained on alert for an Israel attack down South)

· Hezbollah broke its pledge not to use Resistance arms against Lebanese militias and shot up West Beirut.

The facts are very different when viewed close up on the streets here.

When the Lebanese Resistance took the decision during the early hours of Friday morning to engage in civil disobedience, it delayed its actions so as not to preempt the Labor movement strike for higher wages which it supported. When the marching Strikers were prevented from moving into West Beirut the Opposition extended its civil disobedience manifestation.

Various militias, including the smartly outfitted Hariri "Secure Plus" with its distinctive maroon tee-shirts and beige trousers, (now know locally by some as "Secure Minus") a hoped for future Blackwater operation in Lebanon disintegrated surprisingly quickly because many of its green recruits brought down from Tripoli felt misled and betrayed regarding their job description as they were handed weapons an instructed to fight Hezbollah. Snipers from anti-Opposition factions killed civilians from rooftops in Beirut trying to ignite a civil war.

Hezbollah, acting in self defense, according to various officials, quickly clamped down on the trouble makers, took control of the streets, within hours handed them over to the army, and virtually evacuated West Beirut, retaining one position near Bay Rocks manned by unarmed representatives.

Meanwhile the Hariri influence has been greatly weekend in Akkar near the Palestinian Refugee camp of Nahr al Bared and in the Tripoli area. According to some political analysts, including, Fida'a Ittani, a regular columnist for the independent pro-opposition newspaper Al-Akhbar, wrote on May 14, the Future Movement, defeated in Beirut, no longer has any serious influence in the north.

Several Salafi al Qaeda admiring movements are present in Lebanon and like Fatah Islam's declaration this week that they will fight for the Sunnis, they vary in their attitudes from silent opposition to Future leader Saad Al-Hariri to fully supporting him as the leader of the Sunnis. These groups are valued by certain 'leaders' in Lebanon because are the only ones with coherent structures at the ideological, political, technical, and field levels.

Judging from Saad Hariri's confused statements at his subsequent news conference and statements by other parties, the bitterness of promised but unforthcoming assistance was evident.

For two days following the debacle of his forces imploding the head of the Future Movement said nothing. Finally on the 14th he broke his silence. The Halba massacre, committed by Hariri's Mustakbal militiamen which brutally and barbarically murdered 11 people from the opposition did not seem worthy of discussion as he spoke. In a press conference on Tuesday, Hariri simply ignored what all the Lebanese had seen on TV from weapons, ammunition and alcohol found in Future movement offices, and instead listed a series of delusions. "We awaited an open war on Israel, and yet here is an open war on Beirut and its people" he stated. Some interpreted this rather odd statement either as a subconscious slip of the tongue on Hariri's part expressing his frustration that the Israelis help did not arrive or that his reported earlier incoherent state persisted.

Hariri's original speech was so confused that the Saudi channel al-Arabiyya stopped broadcasting it and only read excerpts from what he said, without showing his recorded speech.

When American criticism resumed, and Hezbollah fighters withdrew from the alleys surrounding his house, Hariri was urged to stand up and speak again, this time with a stronger tone, saying "This has been decided by the Iranian and Syrian regimes that wanted to play a political game in Lebanon's streets. For us nothing has changed. We will not negotiate with someone having a pistol pointed to our heads."

Anger at the Bush administration and Israel by certain warlords in Lebanon must feel much like the frustration of Secure Minus personal who rushed from Tripoli and felt misled, abandoned and cheated.

Franklin Lamb can be reached at

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

2 Nil to Hezbollah

Hezbollah in Beirut, All your bases
Hezbollah in charge in Beirut

Calm returns to Beirut's streets
Lebanon's opposition has begun withdrawing its fighters from the streets of Beirut, handing control to the army, after seizing much of the city in battles with government supporters.

Hezbollah, which heads the opposition, vowed to end its takeover of west Beirut on Saturday, after the army overturned government measures against them.
"The opposition welcomes the army's decision and will proceed with the withdrawal of all its armed elements so that control of the capital is handed over to the military," an opposition statement said.

Stefan Christoff: First, can you describe the current situation in Beirut?
Samah Idriss: Now everything is relatively calm. All the offices of the government-backed Future Movement in West Beirut have surrendered and many of the pro-government "fighters," many who were invited to come from northern Lebanon, often without even knowing that they were going to fight, have surrendered to the opposition and the opposition has handed these people and offices over to the Lebanese army.

Now that the forces from the March 14th movement have lost this battle, pro-government forces claim that they weren't preparing for a war, that they aren't organizing armed militias and that they weren't instigating the fighting, while claiming that Hizballah is acting on behalf of Iran and Syria.

It is critical to remember that this current situation started when the Lebanese government, a couple days ago, decided to declare the Hizballah communications system or independent telephone grid as illegal. This is critical because this communications system was a major reason behind Hizballah's victory against Israel in July 2006. Given that the Hizballah system isn't wireless it is harder for Israel or the US to crack or decode this communications network. This communication system was key to Hizballah preventing Israeli forces from knowing the positions and movements of Hizballah and it's leadership during the war in 2006.

So this current scenario commenced with an instigation from the western-backed government. Additionally the government wanted to kick out a person in charge at the international airport in Beirut who is close to Hizballah, in order to replace them with another person who would not be able to assist Hizballah to know who travels in and out at the airport.

These two actions from the government, the declaration of Hizballah's communication network as illegal and the attempt to oust a Hizballah-sympathetic person at Beirut's international airport, instigated the attack from the opposition, led by Hizballah.

West Beirut is now under the control of the Lebanese army, after the opposition took over the party offices representing the March 14th movement. Currently it's not clear if things will develop in other areas in Lebanon such as in the mountains; this remains unclear.

SC: Now concerning the way that the current situation is being reported in the western press, we are reading a basic depiction that involves armed clashes between pro-government militias and Hizballah supporters throughout Beirut. Also there is a focus on distilling the current scenario into sectarian terms, breaking down the division as fought between Sunni and Shia forces. Also, you highlighted that Hizballah or opposition forces have handed over certain pro-government offices or Future Movement offices to the Lebanese army, which is not being widely reported in the western press. Mainstream media in North America are reporting that West Beirut is under Hizballah's control. In this light could you offer your critiques towards the mainstream media's coverage concerning the events in Beirut within the last 48 hours, both western media and media in the Middle East?

SI: Media that are allied with the government in Lebanon aims to present the current situation simply as sectarian strife. ... First it's important to highlight that Beirut was never strictly Sunni, while the people who are now fighting for the opposition, many belong to Beirut, live in Beirut, a city that has never been just Sunni but a mixture of all religious sects in Lebanon. This is one critical point.

Clearly there is a strategy from the government and pro-government forces to portray Hizballah as the outsiders, to try to portray Hizballah as a force coming to change the nature of Beirut by bringing in Shi'ite elements, Iranian elements, Persian elements, barbarian elements, etc. All oriental stereotypes that mainstream western media and some mainstream Arab media will quickly adopt. It is not certain, however, that this portrayal for Hizballah could work in the Arab media because Hizballah is widely respected as the major defender for the Arab cause, for the Palestinian cause.

Across the Middle East the mainstream Sunni populations don't view Hizballah or its leader Hassan Nasrallah as a sectarian leader or simply a Shi'ite leader. However, the mainstream pro-government media in Lebanon attempt to portray Hizballah as a completely sectarian movement, in tune with the political lines fostered by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, France and the US.

Government forces in Lebanon claim they represent a peaceful vision for the country with their common slogan, "I Love Life," while claiming that Lebanon is being invaded by the violent Hizballah now in West Beirut.

and check this out:
Pacifism in Lebanon. While Amal militia men were roaming the streets of Beirut, Amal's TV (NBN TV) was airing documentary on Gandhi. I am not making this up . . .

Beirut Saturday 10 May
Reports are coming in that the army is sweeping up pro-government supporters in west Beirut. They are also rounding up Al-Qaeda sympathisers. There have been confrontations with Future Current supporters in Akkar in the north, Aley in the mountains, and in the south.

There are strong indications that the army has been coordinating with the opposition during the fighting.

It now seems clear that Hariri's Future Current in west Beirut has collapsed like a house of cards.

TV is showing angry funerals in Sunni areas of Beirut. Amal gunmen fired on the procession killing two.

Walid Jumblat's militia, in contrast to Hezbollah:

'Unfortunate incident'

In Beirut, 16 people were killed, two of them at a funeral procession for an earlier victim of the fighting, and there were reports that violence had spilled out of the capital and into other parts of the country.

Hezbollah said it blamed Walid Jumblatt, the pro-government Druze leader, for the death of at least two of its members in Aley, east of Beirut.

Jumblatt admitted there had been "an unfortunate incident" in the predominantly Druze and Christian town, in which "three people" had been killed.

"Two bodies were found and turned over to the army," he said.

He did not admit his supporters were responsible, but said if unconfirmed reports that the victims had been tortured proved to be true, he would "personally take responsibility for it".

Beirut Finally . . . The Fuller Picture

John Negroponte . . . US State Department and well known Vampire
John Negroponte . . . US State Department flunky,
and well known Vampire

Washington pointed the finger at Iran and Syria - both of which back Hezbollah - for the violence, saying they must be held to account.

"The United States is consulting with other governments in the region and with the UN Security Council about measures that must be taken to hold those responsible for the violence in Beirut accountable," the White House said.

Mammoth war preps roundup :

On April 8, 2008, Bernard Kouchner, France’s top diplomat and head of the French Foreign Ministry, stated that Hezbollah was no longer “a domestic issue for Lebanon,” and that the Hezbollah’s weapons were a cause for serious international concern. A few days later, Fouad Siniora announced that the time for internal dialogue was over in Lebanon, while Nabih Beri was in Damascus trying to get Arab League support for new intra-Lebanese political dialogue.

The third expanded ministerial conference of the neighbouring countries of Iraq, held in Kuwait on April 22, 2008, also discussed Lebanon. The US, Saudi Arabia, France, Britain, and several other Arab states all sought to present Hezbollah as an international concern. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a report claiming that Hezbollah was an international problem.

All these events were aimed at internationalizing Hezbollah as a threat, and justifying US and NATO intervention in Lebanon.

These efforts entered a new phase in Lebanon too. The Hariri-led March 14 Alliance declared that it would take legal action against Hezbollah, because of a camera network monitoring Lebanon’s main airport and a telecomms network setup by the group. All this was done in coordination of the March 14 Alliance with US and Saudi Arabian diplomats in Beirut.

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