Archive | Lebanon

Rania Masri on Saudi Arabia and Kidnapping of Lebanese Prime Minister

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Hariri has essentially been held incommunicado for over a week, even though a few heads of state have apparently been allowed to see him under the supervision of Saudi authorities.

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Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime new adventure in Lebanon: Success or failure?

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Saudi Arabia’s new adventure in Lebanon: Success or failure?

The most important question is: Are the Saudis willing to commit to a long and exhausting war in Lebanon?

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri has taken his supporters and opponents by surprise when he announced his resignation on 4 November from Riyadh. This, however, was not Hariri’s first surprising move.

 All Lebanese political forces are captives to the desires of their foreign allies

Last year, Hariri made another surprising move by changing his political positions thus allowing for the election of General Michel Aoun as president of the republic. Reportedly, Hariri’s support for Aoun was based on a deal that involved his appointment as prime minister.

Hariri’s decisions

The explanation for some of Hariri’s surprising decisions is that they mostly emanate not from particular political shifts, nor from the desire to accomplish some tactical gains in the never-ending interplay for power and influence in the country. Rather, they are related to the fact that the Lebanese leader is captive to the will of his regional or international allies.

Yet, Hariri does not represent a Lebanese exception in this regard. All Lebanese political forces are captives to the desires of their foreign allies. As a result, the stability of the state in Lebanon has always been conditional.

Before Hariri announced his resignation, there was no indication that he was about to take such a decision. Hariri had just met Ali Akbar Velayeti, the Iranian supreme leader’s advisor for foreign affairs.

Hariri would not have taken such a step unless he knew – with absolute certainty – that his Saudi allies had indeed decided to embark on a confrontation with Iran in Lebanon

The meeting was reported to be amicable or at least normal. Despite the difficulty of running a government of national coalition in a country of multiple sects, interests and whims, Hariri was committed to maintaining the required level of cohesion among the various parties in his government.

The claim that Hariri discovered an attempt on his life just days earlier, and that such a discovery prompted him to leave the country and then announce his resignation, just does not sound logical.

Had he known about the assassination attempt, of which the Sunni Lebanese leader seems to implicate Hezbollah and the Iranians, why did he then receive Velayeti and announced his plan to travel to the Egyptian city of Sharm al-Sheikh to participate in an international youth conference?

Instead, Hariri left suddenly for the Saudi capital wherefrom, rather than from his cabinet office, he delivered a fuming speech to the Lebanese people announcing his resignation.

It is more likely, of course, that Hariri was summoned by the Saudis on the evening of 3 November, and that it was his Saudi allies who forced him to resign. So, what did Hariri’s step mean?

Zionist puppet Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Zio=Wahhabi King Shalom ibn Yahood celebrate deal ‘ Shoah’

A message to friends and foes

Lebanon sits in the heart of a number of overlapping crises. Yet, Hariri did not conceal, in his brief statement, that the main reason behind his resignation was the increasing influence of Hezbollah in Lebanon and its domination over Lebanese decision-making, on the one hand, and the Iranian expansionist policy in the Arab neighbourhood, including in Lebanon and Syria, on the other.

In other words, Hariri sought to send a message through his resignation, to his friends and foes alike, that he was determined to align himself with the anti-Iranian forces in the region.

However, Hariri would not have taken such a step unless he knew – with absolute certainty – that his Saudi allies had indeed decided to embark on a confrontation with Iran in Lebanon. And this is the crux of the matter.

A year ago, Saudi Arabia’s regional standing was not at its best. This explains why Hariri accepted a power-sharing arrangement in Lebanon with Aoun. On the one hand, the Saudis had completely lost hope that the US, under the Obama administration, would play a more active role in confronting Iranian expansionism.

No matter how supportive of Saudi Arabia the Trump administration happens to be, the Americans do not seems to be preparing for a war with Iran

On the other hand, it had become obvious that the war in Yemen had failed to accomplish its main goals. Both Egypt and Pakistan refused to provide any tangible assistance to their Saudi ally.

Today, it would seem that the Saudis are more confident about the US role, especially after Washington set in motion a series of measures to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. Additionally, the US president has been speaking against the nuclear deal with Iran and the Congress has voted to impose a package of sanctions on Iran.

Furthermore, and despite Saudi denial, there are indications that a Saudi-Israeli agreement has been reached to confront Iran and its allies in the neighbourhood.

Surely incited by the Americans, the Saudis took steps over the past few months to build better ties with the Iraq on the assumption that the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haidar al-Abbadi, might emerge as a nationalist leader and work to push back Iranian influence in Iraq.

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Saad Hariri’s Saudi problem: Desperate needs, desperate deeds

Similar signals have also been sent to Moscow and Damascus, promising that Riyadh would be prepared to adopt a different policy vis-à-vis the  Syrian government once Iran and the militias affiliated with it pull out of Syria.

Yet, none of this means that after Saudi Arabia’s failure in Yemen, it will achieve better results in Lebanon. It is rather difficult to imagine the success of the Saudi adventure in Lebanon without meeting certain conditions.

File photo of Hezbollah rally in the southern Lebanese village of Khiam, 13 August 2017 (Reuters)

New political alignment?

Will Lebanon, for instance, witness a different political alignment from the current one? Will Maronite forces, together with the majority of the Druze and the Sunnis, join the Saudi camp? And will the Gulf states and Egypt, in particular, stand by Saudi Arabia?

In Yemen, the United Arab Emirates adopted a policy that served its own interests, and it did the same throughout the Syrian crisis. In spite of declaring public support for Saudi Arabia, the UAE maintained normal relations with Iran.

While Egypt’s Sisi refused to take part in the war in Yemen, he exerted every possible effort in order to keep the Assad regime in power. In the meantime, Sisi opened lines of communications with the Iranians.

Ultimately, the most important question has to do with the extent to which the Saudis are willing to commit to a long and exhausting war in Lebanon, and how prepared they are to bear the financial and human cost of such a war. Since the mid-1980s, Iran has invested tens of billions of dollars in reinforcing Hezbollah and building its popular base and military capabilities.

If the current Saudi leadership thinks it can rely on Israel, what is certain is that the Arab public opinion, and particularly the Sunni Muslim one, will not support an Israeli war in Lebanon

No matter how supportive of Saudi Arabia the Trump administration happens to be, the Americans do not seem to be preparing for a war with Iran. The maximum Washington might be willing to do would be to support Iran’s rivals should they decide to confront it.

But if the current Saudi leadership thinks it can rely on Israel, what is certain is that Arab public opinion, and particularly the Sunni Muslim one, will not support an Israeli war in Lebanon, which is likely to result in the death of hundreds, or even thousands, and the destruction of Lebanese towns and infrastructure.

Furthermore, an Israeli war will not succeed in bringing down Hezbollah or eroding its role and influence.

In other words, Hariri’s resignation may indeed be the prelude to igniting another Saudi confrontation with Iran. However, it is clear so far that no proper assessment has been made for this confrontation and its repercussions.

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Setting the Record Straight: The 1984 Beirut Barracks Bombing

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr
The White House wants to blame Iran, but they’re wrong. I was there.
 

Featured image: Chaplains, U.S. Marines and family members observe a moment of silence at memorial services for the 241 Marines killed during the terrorist bombing of the barracks at Beirut International Airport. (Credit: Gunnery Sgt. R.D. Lucas/DefenseImages.mil)

Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster recently marked the 34th anniversary of the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. Their remarks may have comforted the families and honored the sacrifice of the 242 American service members—222 of whom were Marines—who were killed. But both officials presented such a distorted version of the events of that horrible day that, if not corrected, they will cause more harm than good to our national security.

According to Pence and McMaster, the attack on the Marine (and French) barracks was an early version of the attacks of 9/11. In their view, terrorist bombers, aided and abetted by Iran, committed mass murder and inspired Osama bin Laden by attacking U.S. and allied military forces that were simply in Lebanon on a peacekeeping mission. Moreover, the attack demonstrates that their boss, President Trump, was right not to certify the nuclear deal with Iran.

However, close examination of the events reveals that while the U.S. and French military forces were initially engaged in a peacekeeping mission, by the time of the attack their nations were waging war against the allies of Iran in the Lebanese civil war.

The multinational force, composed of troops from the U.S., France, and Italy, arrived in Lebanon in August 1982. Their presence was part of a ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which followed the American-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon in early 1982. Their mission was to oversee the peaceful withdrawal of Yasser Arafat and the members of the PLO from Beirut. Within a month, the PLO withdrawal was completed and the troops left, in effect, ending their peacekeeping mission.

Rescue and clean-up crews search for casualties following the barracks bombing in Beirut on October 23, 1983. (Department of Defense)

But shortly after the withdrawal, the assassination of the Lebanese president-elect, Bashir Gemayel—the Phalangist leader of the Lebanese Forces, a unified Christian militia—sparked a new wave of violence in which Christian militiamen, who were strong supporters of Gemayel, killed upwards of 800 Palestinians, mostly women, children and elderly, in refugee camps. In the wake of these killings, known as the Sabra and Shatila massacre, U.S. troops returned and became involved in the civil war.

By early 1983, the situation seemed to have stabilized until, in April of that year, a car bomb destroyed the U.S. embassy in Beirut. In July, after Israel began a unilateral withdrawal, fighting between the competing militias intensified and violence against the multilateral force, who were now seen as allies of the Christian militias, escalated. As a result, U.S. Marine positions routinely came under small arms and mortar fire which, by late August, the Marines began returning.  These skirmishes led to the death and wounding of several militiamen and some Marines even before the attack on the barracks.

The crucial turning point occurred in early September, when the U.S. began providing naval gunfire support for the U.S.-backed Lebanese Army—something that was opposed, as journalist Nir Rosenhas pointed out, by the State Department, the CIA, and even Marine Commander Col. Timothy Geraghty.

In an article he wrote on the 25th anniversary of the attack on his marines, Geraghty recalled the situation:

The Marine and the French headquarters were targeted primarily because of who we were and what we represented. … It is noteworthy that the United States provided naval gunfire support—which I strongly opposed for a week—to the Lebanese Army at a mountain village called Suq-al-Garb on 19 September and that the French conducted an airstrike on 23 September in the Bekaa Valley. American support removed any lingering doubts of our neutrality and I said to my staff at the time we were going to pay in blood for this decision.

The Marines’ deaths certainly need to be remembered. But the real problem is that when we went back into Lebanon after withdrawing, the U.S. took sides in a civil war that it could not and did not need to win. And while Iran certainly bears some responsibility for the deaths of these brave warriors, this does not mean the Iranians had anything to do with 9/11.

In fact, right after the attack, Iran held a candlelight vigil condemning it, and later provided intelligence to help the U.S. drive the Taliban and al Qaeda from Afghanistan in 2001. And the Iranians persuaded their allies in the Northern Alliance to support the establishment of the Karzai government at the Bonn Conference in December 2001. Moreover, condemning Iran for these attacks in Beirut—as Pence and McMaster did—ignores the fact that we were de facto supporters of Iraq when that country not only invaded Iran in the early 1980s, but used chemical weapons against them. Finally, using the events of 1983 to undermine a nuclear deal with Iran, completed some 32 years after the attack, makes as much sense as our not wanting to conclude a nuclear arms agreement with the Soviet Union in the early-1970s because of the assistance they were providing to the North Vietnamese to kill Americans.

Rather than using this horrible event to push their agenda, Pence and McMaster should have praised President Reagan for having the foresight not to expand the war after the attack, as many of his hawkish advisors wanted. Instead, Reagan listened to my then-boss, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, and strategically redeployed the Marines to their ships; that is, withdrew them from Lebanon in early 1983. Moreover, as a result of this tragedy, the Pentagon developed what became known as the Powell Doctrine, which established stringent criteria Washington should use before becoming involved in wars of choice.

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Secret Document: Wahhabi, Naziregime Working Together to Provoke War in Lebanon

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Secret Document: Saudis, Israel Working Together to Provoke War in Lebanon

Featured image: Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri

Only a day after major ISIS defeats in Syria and Iraq indicated that fighting may be winding down, an extraordinary series of events raised the danger of a new war, this time against Lebanon. These events began on Nov. 4 when Saudi Arabia destabilized Lebanon’s government by forcing Prime Minister Saad Hariri’ to resign, and led to the Saudi government false claim on Nov. 7 that Lebanon had “declared war” on that kingdom.

Secret documents made public by Israeli TV Channel 10 indicate that this provocative war scenario was  coordinated by Saudi Arabia and Israel to instigate a new Middle East war, with Lebanon the target, vilified as a proxy of Iran. This provocation follows a huge Israeli military exercise held in September simulating an invasion of Lebanon designed specifically to target the Lebanese group Hezbollah. This was Tel Aviv’s largest military drill in 20 years, involving all branches of the Israeli military.

While Washington has branded the Lebanese group Hezbollah “terrorist,” progressives in the Middle East see the group as a defender of Lebanese sovereignty.  Twice, in 2000 and 2006, it kicked Israeli troops out of Lebanon.  Hezbollah has fought alongside the Syrian government not only to prevent the dismemberment of this neighboring Arab country, but also to prevent ISIS from invading Lebanon and terrorizing the people there. Iran, also vilified by U.S. imperialism and its clients, has provided crucial political, material and military support needed to defeat ISIS.

The events are as follows:

On Nov. 3, the last ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria fell. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel seek to dismember Syria, and have assisted ISIS.

In a measure never seen before in the international arena, on Nov. 4 under orders from the Saudi regime, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced from Saudi Arabia on Saudi TV his resignation as PM. He assailed Iran for interfering in Lebanon, and claimed that Hezbollah was trying to assassinate him.

Hours later, Ryadh said it intercepted a Yemeni-fired missile over its capital. For years the  Saudi regime, armed by the U.S., has been bombarding the people of Yemen, indiscriminately killing civilians.

While the Yemenis say the missile they fired was made in Yemen, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed claimed,

“It was an Iranian missile, launched by Hezbollah,”  and constituted “act of war by Iran.”

On Nov. 7, the Saudis, furthered the escalation, and accused Lebanon of “declaring war” against it.

At the same time, in a bid to consolidate power, the Saudi the regime arrested hundreds inside the kingdom on charges of corruption, including some of the country’s most high-profile princes and businessmen.

Leaked cable shows Saudi-Israeli coordination

The corporate media has long given the impression that Israel and Saudi Arabia are on opposite sides.  That is for public consumption. Both regimes are propped up by and armed by Washington so that they can slam liberation struggles and independent governments in the Middle East and keep this oil rich area “safe” for Exxon Mobil  and JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Now there is a smoking gun showing that Israel and Saudi Arabia are working together to bring war to Lebanon.

On Nov. 7, Israeli Channel 10 news published a leaked diplomatic cable sent to all Israeli ambassadors throughout the world concerning the above events. The classified embassy cable, written in Hebrew, shows that Tel Aviv and Riyadh are deliberately coordinating to escalate the situation in the Middle East. These documents provide the first proof of direct collaboration between these two U.S. clients.

The cable was leaked by Barak Ravid, senior diplomatic correspondent for Channel 10 News. The communiqué, he said, was sent from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem on Nov. 6 to all Israeli embassies. It instructed Israeli diplomats to to do everything possible to rev up diplomatic pressure against Hezbollah and Iran. The communication urged support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and for Israeli diplomats to appeal to the “highest officials” in their host countries to expel Hezbollah from Lebanese government and politics,” according to zerohedge.com.

Resignation leaves Lebanon vulnerable to attack

In Lebanon, Hariri’s resignation is seen as having been forced by the Saudis in order to destabilize the Lebanese government, foment discord and leave Lebanon vulnerable to Israeli attack.  Many have pointed out that the resignation statement was written in a style used by the Saudis. The resignation shocked even Hariri’s closest aides. The Lebanese army denied any assassination threat.

Lebanon’s unwieldy political system is easily destabilized. Put together by the French colonizers in 1925, it mandates that government posts, and parliamentary apportionment, be based upon the country’s different religious groupings. The current government, with Hariri as MP, and Hezbollah’s Michel Aoun as president, took office last year. It ended years of government deadlock, and last month it produced Lebanon’s first budget since 2005.

Hariri, who has dual Saudi-Lebanese citizenship and financial interest in Saudi Arabia, is regarded as “the Saudi’s man” in Lebanon. The irony of a Lebanese PM railing against Iran for interfering in Lebanon’s affairs when he just resigned in Saudi Arabia on Saudi TV reading a Saudi-written statement has not been lost on anyone.

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun has announced that he will not decide whether to accept or reject the resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri until Hariri returns to Lebanon to explain his reasons. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has called on the people of Lebanon to remain calm.

Why is Hezbollah being targeted?

Israel, which shares a border with Lebanon, has long wanted to contain Lebanese sovereignty and even to annex its territory. The Israeli military bombed southern Lebanon for decades from land, sea and air.  In 1982 a massive Israeli invasion killed tens of thousands of Lebanese civilians, while Israeli troops occupied southern Lebanon for 18 years.  In 2006 Israel bombs targeted Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure and fighter planes peppered the south with a million cluster bombs that still kill and maim.

Israel seeks to destroy Hezbollah because it is a formidable fighting force, and the only group that prevents Israel from doing as it wills in Lebanon. Hezbollah fighters and their allies kicked Israeli troops out of Lebanon in 2000, ending the 18-year occupation, and repelled an Israeli ground invasion of Lebanon in 2006, forcing it to retreat.

This week’s dangerous and provocative developments seek to counter the defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq with war in Lebanon.  Whether imperialism and its agents will be able to do this, however, is far from certain. The beleaguered people of the Middle East have been inspired by the victories against ISIS, and remain determined to fight for their rights.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia0 Comments

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime last card in Lebanon: Use Nazi Mafia to strike Hezbollah

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Saudi Arabia’s last card in Lebanon: Use Israel to strike Hezbollah

Will Mohammed bin Salman go as far as striking a deal with Israel in which he offers full normalisation in return for Israel destroying Hezbollah and Iran in Lebanon?

In the words of famous Lebanese historian Kamal Salibi, Lebanon is a non-country where Christians and Muslims once lived side by side but failed to have a common vision for their homeland. In the Lebanese house of many mansions, as he calls his country, the Christians looked to Europe while the Muslims aspired to remain anchored in a wide Arab nationalist framework.

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The night of the long knives in Saudi Arabia

So the many mansions occasionally fought each other while the idea of Lebanon survived and even flourished under violence, sectarianism and corruption.

With the current crisis that resulted from Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation announced in Riyadh, the many mansions are once again on the verge of being shaken to their foundations.

More mansions

Writing immediately after the civil war that ravaged the country for 17 years, our dear historian did not anticipate the current Lebanese crisis in which Saudi Arabia and Iran created more mansions to be added to the historical Lebanese ones.

He did not anticipate that Iran will replace Saudi Arabia as the main regional player in a country that has been within the Saudi sphere of influence since the creation of the Arab league after World War II.

Saudiised Sunni Lebanese prime ministers – they have to be Sunni according to the constitution – have always combined their financial interests in Saudi Arabia where they made their fortunes with being prime ministers in Lebanon. They held dual nationality and operated freely in two countries.

Today Lebanese Sunnis plaster pictures of Saudi kings across streets in their neighbourhoods

From Hussein Owayni, Riyad Solh to Rafiq and Saad Harriri, there is a history of finance and politics, and sometimes marriages with senior Saudi princes, cementing a precarious relationship, often controlled by Riyadh for its own purposes, and benefiting Sunni families. The grandfather of Walid bin Talal, now detained, was Lebanese prime minister Riyad Solh.

But above all, such prime ministers were instrumental in defending Saudi political interests in Lebanon. In the 1950s Saudi Arabia feared the Hashemites gaining a hold over the minds of the Lebanese Sunnis and later Egyptian Gamal Abd al-Nasser’s Arab nationalism threatening to infiltrate the minds and hearts of the many Saudis who came to study in Lebanon.

When the so-called free Saudi princes (mainly Talal and Mansour bin Abdul-Aziz) gathered at the St George Hotel on the corniche in Beirut in the early 1960s to demand a constitutional monarchy and launch attacks on King Saud and Faisal as stooges of imperialism, the Saudi regime thought that only trouble can come out of Lebanon.

An image of Beit Beirut in 1998 (Yarob Marouf)

The Saudi strategy

Today this is history but the shift towards Hezbollah is equally threatening to Saudi Arabia. The latter blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the Yemeni Houthi missile that was intercepted in the skies of Riyadh on 4 November.

Saudi Arabia accuses the two of training and arming the Houthis, whom it has been fighting since 2015. Saudi Arabia considered Lebanon as declaring war on it after the missile incident.

Lebanon is one of those places where society and its sectarian mansions has always been stronger than the state

Since the 1950s the Saudi strategy was to promote a Lebanese Sunni bourgeoisie loyal to the Saudis and determined to eradicate nationalist and leftist threats coming from the heart of Beirut.

While the Lebanese Sunni bourgeoisie was co-opted, ordinary Sunnis in Tariq al-Jadidah and Ras Beirut chanted pro-Nasserite slogans and saw themselves as the minaret of Arab nationalism.

Together with the Palestinian refugees, they became synonymous with Beirut al-Wataniyya, nationalist Beirut. When Nasser unexpectedly died in 1970, they flooded the streets and mourned their hero.

Today Lebanese Sunnis plaster pictures of Saudi kings across streets in their neighbourhoods. These counter the portraits of Khomeini, Khamenei and other Iranian figures that decorate the plasterboards and walls in the Shia neighbourhoods.

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Saad Hariri’s resignation? Part of Saudi’s latest push to confront Iran

Against this history of Saudi-Sunni connections, since the 1980s Iran began to consolidate a Shia mansion that had been ignored and marginalised by the Lebanese historical sectarian politics drawn by the French under the mandate, and ravaged by successive Israeli occupations of the south where the majority lived.

Since the 1970s there have been many violent Israeli intrusions that led to impoverishment, expulsions and destruction of towns, villages and agricultural fields. Without Iran’s support to Hezbollah, southern Lebanon would have been most probably still under Israeli occupation.

A poster of Saad Hariri in Beirut (MEE/ Ali Harb)

The collapse of the Hariri mansion

The Sunni bourgeoisie of Beirut, Sidon and Tripoli among other cities became vital to Saudi Arabia maintaining its foothold and guarding Lebanon from the excessive Iranian intrusion.

Former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri boosted the confidence of the Sunnis in Lebanon while also building his financial empire in both Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Under post-war reconstruction efforts, he emerged as a financial tycoon who wiped out small traders and businessmen in favour of global capitalist intrusion.

Today the famous central Solidaire area is a dying hub of finance and entertainment beyond the means of most Lebanese.

With his assassination in 2005, his son Saad became the face of Sunni power, albeit a declining one in Lebanon. Money earned in Saudi Arabia was translated into philanthropy in Lebanon. Patron-client relations became the core of the Sunni za’amat, leadership, like other sectarian leadership.

Saudi Arabia seems to have lost its historical importance in Lebanon as Iran consolidated its presence there

But since King Salman came to power in 2015, coinciding with a sharp decline in oil prices, the Hariri financial mansion collapsed in Saudi Arabia and the political one began to show serious cracks in Lebanon.

Saudi Oger, Hariri’s flagship company, dismissed many of its employees who were left unpaid. They returned to Lebanon with no prospect of employment in a declining economy. They started selling their million-dollar apartments but there were no buyers on the horizon. The real estate boom collapsed in Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia seems to have lost its historical importance in Lebanon as Iran consolidated its presence there.

So the last card Saudi Arabia can play to snub Iran was to summon Saad Hariri, its man in Beirut, to Riyadh where he surprisingly and unexpectedly read his resignation letter on the same night that Mohammed bin Salman started his anti-corruption purge.

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Saad Hariri’s Saudi problem: Desperate needs, desperate deeds

The agreement that stabilised Lebanon and led to the election of a president after a vacuum of two years, and the return of Saad Hariri to the premiership is now in jeopardy.

But Lebanon is one of those places where society and its sectarian mansions have always been stronger than the state. It continues to operate without a central power since this central power has no means to provide for citizens any substantial welfare services or economic prosperity, let alone protection against successive Israeli invasions.

Like Palestinians, Lebanon has more Lebanese people in the diaspora than inside the country.

Fragile peace

If the Saudi-Iranian regional rivalry erupts into violent confrontation of some sort in Lebanon, not only the Lebanese but also thousands of Palestinian and Syrian refugees will be drawn into such conflict.

A new refugee crisis may be at the doorsteps of Europe again. This should deter any European country from encouraging or becoming complicit in Saudi designs to destabilise the fragile peace between the many Lebanese mansions.

Saudi Arabia will only be able to destabilise Lebanon if it works with Israel, the only country with the military capabilities to threaten Lebanon’s fragile peace

Fortunately EU ambassadors in Lebanon expressed support for the Lebanese state and showed no intention of contributing to a volatile situation by supporting Saudi claims that Lebanon declared war on it.

Saudi Arabia will only be able to destabilise Lebanon if it works with Israel, the only country with the military capabilities to threaten Lebanon’s fragile peace. Will Mohammed bin Salman go as far as striking a deal with Israel in which he offers full normalisation in return for Israel destroying Hezbollah and Iran in Lebanon?

This should not be ruled out as the young prince does not seem to think of the consequences of his actions.

If his domestic repression and detention of his own cousins is something to go by, the international community, especially those who will be directly affected by his actions in Lebanon, should work to put pressure on him to restrain his illusions of becoming the master of Arab affairs from the Levant to Aden.

The international community should also show solidarity with Lebanon by pre-emptively condemning any Israel aggression on Lebanon.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia0 Comments

Nazi regime: Military Capabilities, Scenarios for the Third Lebanon War

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Israeli Defense Forces: Military Capabilities, Scenarios for the Third Lebanon War

The Current State of Affairs

At present time, Israel’s top political leadership is in the state of outright hysteria regarding the Lebanese movement Hezbollah. Recent statements by senior Foreign Affairs and Defence ministries’ officials certainly lead to that conclusion.

“We will not allow Iran and Hezbollah to concentrate their forces in the border areas in the Golan Heights”, the Minister of Defence of Israel Avigdor Lieberman wrote on his Facebook page on 26 April 2017.

“… we are determined not to give our enemy opportunities and even a hint of an opportunity to harm the security of Israel and its inhabitants. We will do everything to prevent the creation of a Shi’ite corridor between Tehran and Damascus”,

wrote Avigdor Lieberman on his Facebook page on 7 September 2017.

Image: Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

On September 11, 2017, he also wrote “I very much advise our northern neighbours not to test us and not to threaten, because we take threats seriously. I do not recommend that they start a conflict with Israel, because for them this will end badly. Very badly”. This is the answer to Syria’s statement about the strike on the Masyaf plant, in the province of Hama in Syria, where according to unconfirmed reports from the Israeli intelligence, a missile production plant operated. “Aggressive actions against the security and stability in the region will have dangerous consequences”, said the communiqué of the Syrian command.

Israel’s Minister of Defence statement of 19 September 2017 was

“We do not intend to tolerate any threats or attempts to harm the security of Israel. Whoever tries to undermine our sovereignty, our security, must know that he will pay a very high price. We are ready for any eventuality, from any direction. The IDF will cope with any surprises, problems and threats”.

This statement was as a result of the shooting down of the Iranian UAV by the Israeli air defence, launched from southern Lebanon and which has not crossed the Israeli border.

In response Hassan Nasrallah said at the August 13, 2017 rally commemorating the Second Lebanon War that “Israel continuously violates Lebanese airspace, and it complains to the UN about each member of Hezbollah, or any ordinary Lebanese, standing with binoculars on the border”.

Image: Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters during a public appearance at a religious procession to mark Ashura in Beirut’s southern suburbs, Lebanon October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

In addition to the financial and military assistance, United States provides international support in this matter. During the August 23, 2017 UN Security Counci session, Special Envoy of the President of the United States Nikki Haley, responding to a question concerning the extension of the peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, insisted that the UNIFIL mandate be changed so that the UN peacekeepers could use force against Hezbollah which the US considers “terrorists”. Haley’s comments mirrored those of Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danin Danon who said that “Hezbollah continues activities directed at increasing and strengthening its presence on the southern borders, which threaten the security of the entire region. The international community cannot ignore the danger”.

Image: Nikki Haley

The US and Israel introduced alternative resolutions introduced before the UN Security Council, which call for :

  • provisions to allow UN troops to enter villages occupied by Hezbollah,
  • increasing patrols and conducting more active and intensive inspections on the controlled territory,
  • monitoring events and reporting violations,
  • more thorough examination of Israeli complaints of Hezbollah violations.

The already difficult situation in southern Lebanon and Syria is further complicated by “The Light of Dagan”, a major military exercise named in honour of the former Director of Foreign Intelligence Service of Israel, Mossad, Meir Dagan, which strongly resembles preparations and a rehearsal for armed aggression.

Image: Meir Dagan

The exercise lasted eleven days, from 4 to 14 September 2017, and involved tens of thousands of troops from all branches of service. The exercise legend posited that terrorists attacked the village of Shavey Zion, fifteen kilometres from the Lebanese border and, together with hundreds of Hezbollah fighters from the Radwan units, carried out the invasion in the north, captured civilians. and occupied the local synagogue. Their ultimate goal was to plant Hezbollah flag of the movement on Israeli soil and send a photo to Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. In response, Israel carried out the evacuation of civilians, then units of the IDF conducted a large-scale operation in southern Lebanon, which was carried out in three stages. The first stage was defensive, including a counter-attack and the deployment of additional units to counter the Hezbollah movements. The second stage consisted of launching an assault on southern Lebanon. The third phase pushed Hezbollah forces back into Lebanon. The exercises were held in southern Galilee to the south from Highway 85 Akko-Carmiel. The goal of the exercises was the full capitulation of the Hezbollah movement, “depriving them of their ability and willingness to resist”. According to the IDF command, the IDF excelled at these tasks.

Image: IDF reservists sitting atop tanks as they maneuver during a drill at a military zone near Kibbutz Revivim. Credit: Reuters

The Causes of the Aggressive Rhetoric

The first cause is the parliamentary majority in the Knesset consisting of right-wing and ultra-Orthodox Zionists who badly want revenge for the de-facto Israeli defeat in the Second Lebanon war of 2006. These factions exhibit extreme hostility towards Iran and the Shi’a Muslims because of their political and religious unity. This attitude was expressed in the words of the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the IDF, Yair Golan, September 7, 2017 at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

According to Golan,

“Iran is far more dangerous to Israel than ISIS because the Iranians are complex, they represent a higher stage of civilization. They have a great academic infrastructure, strong industry, a lot of good scientists, many talented young people. They are very similar to us. Due to the fact that they look like us, they are much more dangerous”.

The second cause is the Israeli flirtation with the Sunni world and with Saudi Arabia in particular, which is taking place with Donald Trump’s blessing expressed in the May 21, 2017 statement at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit labeling Iran the “main sponsor of international terrorism”,  and calling for its isolation. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly voiced desire to improve relations between Israel and Sunni countries, hinting at Saudi Arabia in particular. According to the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation (ICB) radio, one of the Saudi royal princes made a secret visit to Israel September of 2017 to discuss the “consolidation of peace in the region”.

The third reason is the damage to Syria’s military capabilities which will need years or decades to restore and in the meantime will not be able to provide military assistance to Hezbollah. Many Hezbollah experienced fighters were killed in battle in Syria. Therefore, the leadership of Israel believes that now is the time to inflict a decisive blow to the movement.

Image: A funeral procession in Lebanon of a Hezbollah fighter killed in Syria. Credit: Reuters

The IDF Today

Currently the IDF in the regional scale is a formidable force. Below are the data from the yearbook Military Balance 2017.

IDF numbers 176 thousand servicemembers, of which 133 thousand are in the Army, 34 thousand in the Air Force, 9.5 thousand in the Navy. In addition, there are 465 thousand troops in reserve. The border police (MAGAV) may provide 8000 troops to assist the military.

 

Image: Israeli Border Police arrest a Palestinian youth during clashes in the Shoafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem, September 18, 2015. Credit: AFP

Land forces are organised into three regional commands (North, Central, South), two armoured divisions, five territorial infantry divisions, three battalions of Special Forces, and a team of special operations forces. Overall they command a number of separate reconnaissance battalions, three tank brigades, three mechanised brigades (consisting of three mechanised battalions, a combat support battalion and a signal company), a mechanised brigade (consisting of five mechanised battalions), a separate mechanised brigade, two separate infantry battalions, an airborne brigade (composed of three airborne battalions, a combat support battalion and a signal company), and a training tank brigade. Three artillery brigades, three engineering battalions, two military policy battalions, a company of sappers, a chemical protection battalion and a brigade of military intelligence provide battlefield support.

The Navy consists of a surface ship group, a submarine group, as well as a battalion of commandos.

Israeli Defense Forces: Military Capabilities, Scenarios for the Third Lebanon War

Click to see the full-size map

The Israeli Air Force consist of two fighter squadrons, five attack squadrons, six mixed fighter-attack squadrons (plus two squadrons in reserve), an ASW squadron, a maritime patrol and support squadron (patrol and transport aircraft, tanker aircraft), two EW squadrons, an AWACS squadron, two squadrons of transport and tanker aircraft, two training squadrons, two squadrons of attack helicopters, four squadrons of transport helicopters, an air ambulance division and three squadrons of UAVs.

It is believed that Israel has nuclear weapons. The number of nuclear warheads is debatable, but its delivery vehicles include F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, the Jericho-2 ballistic medium-range missiles, and Dolphin/Tanin class diesel-electric submarines capable of carrying cruise missiles.

There are nine orbital military and dual-purpose satellites:

  • Three Amos-type satellites.
  • One reconnaissance satellite with remote sensing of the Earth of the EROS type, located on the sun-synchronous orbit.
  • Four optical reconnaissance satellites of the Ofeq type (No. 7, 9, 10 and 11), located in the low earth orbit.
  • One radar-reconnaissance satellite of the TecSAR-1 type, located in low earth orbit.

 

Image: Merkava IV MBT

Land Forces Armaments

Tanks. 500 main battle tanks (Merkava II, III, IV), plus 1060 in storage.

APCs: There are 1200 APCs, including 400 Nagmachon on Centurion MBT chassis, 200 Achzarit heavy APCs on T-55 tank chassis, 100 Namer APCs on Merkava tank chassis, and about 5000 American M113 APCs in storage.

Self-propelled Artillery:

  • 250 155mm M109A5
  • 300 in storage:
    • 155mm Soltam L-33, 30 M109
    • 175mm M107, 203mm M110.

Towed artillery:

  • 276 guns of different types and calibers (all in storage):
    • 5 122mm D-30 howitzers
    • 100 130mm M-46 cannon
    • 40 155mm M-46 cannon
    • 50 155mm M-68 howitzers
    • 81 155m M-839P/845P howitzers).

Multiple Rocket Launchers:

  • 30 227mm M270 MLRS
  • 182 other MRLs in storage, including:
    • 58 122mm BM-21 Grad
    • 50 160mm LAR-160
    • 18 227mm M270 MLRS
    • 36 240mm BM-24
    • 20 290mm LAR-290 in storage

Mortars. All in storage

  • 1100 81mm
  • 650 120mm
  • 18 160mm

Medium range ballistic missiles

  • Approximately 24 rockets of the Jericho-2 type.

Surface-to-Air Missile Systems

  • 20 Machbet.
  • A number of Stinger MANPADS.

Navy Combat Forces

Submarines

  • 5 ships:
    • 3 submarines of the Dolphin class. Armed with 6 533mm torpedo tubes and 4 650mm torpedo tubes. May carry Harpoon SSMs.
    • 2 Tanin type submarines (Dolphin class equipped with air-independent propulsion engines). Armed with 6 533mm torpedo tubes and 4 650mm torpedo tubes. May carry Harpoon SSMs.

Frigates

  • Three Eilat type. Armed with 2 x 4 Harpoon launchers, 2 x Barak SAM launchers, 2 x 3 324mm torpedo tubes, 1 76mm gun, 1 Sea Vulcan.

Missile boats of the Hetz type

  • 8 ships. Armed with 6 Gabriel SSMs, 2 x 2 Harpoon SSMs, 1 Barak SAM launcher, 76mm, 25mm and 20mm cannon.

Patrol boats

  • 18 ships:
    • 5 Shaldag class. Armed with 1 25mm gun.
    • 3 Stingray class. Unarmed, intended for reconnaissance and sabotage operations.
    • 10 Super Dvora MkIII class. May carry SSM and torpedo tubes.

Torpedo boats

  • 13 ships
    • 9 Dvora Mk I class. Armed with 2 324mm torpedo tubes (may carry SSMs)
    • 4 Super Dvora Mk II class. Armed with 2 324mm torpedo tubes.

Torpedo patrol boats

  • 11 Dabur class. Armed with 2 x 1 324mm torpedo tubes.

Air Force

Aircrafts

  • 151 fighters
    • 15 F-15A
    • 6 F-15B
    • 17 F-15C
    • 19 F-15D
    • 77 F16A
    • 16 F16B
  • 248 attack aircraft
    • 25 F-15I
    • 76 F-16C
    • 49 F-16D
    • 98 F-16I
  • Unknown number of A-4N/F-4, F-15-A, F-16A/B, C-7 in storage.

Naval Patrol Aircraft

  • 3 IAI-1124

Electronic Reconnaissance Airplanes

  • 6 RC-12D

EW and AWACS

  • 1 EC-707
  • 3 Gulfstream G550

Tanker Aircraft

  • 4 KC-130H
  • 7 KC-707.

Transport aircraft

  • 62 aircraft of various types

Training aircraft

  • 67 aircraft of various types

Helicopters

Attack helicopters

  • 44 Apache AH-64 A/D

Anti-submarine helicopters

  • 7 Panther AS565SA

Scout helicopters

  • 12 Kiowa OH-58B

Transport helicopters

  • 81 helicopters of various types

UAV

Tactical and electronic intelligence UAV

  • Over 24 UAVs total

Air Defence

Self-propelled guns

  • 165 weapons
    • 105 20mm Vulcan M163
    • 60 23mm ZSU-23-4

Towed air defence guns

  • 755 weapons
    • 150 23mm ZU-23-2
    • 455 20/37mm M167 Vulcan/M-1939/TCM-20
    • 150 40mm L/70 Bofors

IDF Problems

As can be seen from the above list of arms, the IDF at the moment is a unique and astounding combination of nuclear weapons with delivery vehicles, an arsenal of equipment produced in the 1960s and of modern weapons on par with the leading world powers. This combination has its drawbacks and they do not make themselves wait for long.

Image: An Israeli AH-64 Apache helicopter lands at the Ramon air force base in the Negev Desert, southern Israel, on October 21, 2013. Credit: AFP / Jack Guez

In September 2016, during the removal of the machine gun from a tank at the training base in Shizafon in the south of Israel several soldiers were severely injured.

On 5 October 2016 on the approach to the Ramon airbase in southern Israel the pilot was killed as a result of the ejection from the F-16.

In July 2017 during the course of an exercise, due to his own negligence Lieutenant David Golovenchick was shot dead by a soldier.

On 8 August 2017 an AH-64 helicopter crashed at the Ramon airbase, as a result the pilot was killed, and others sustained injuries.

On 9 August 2017 during IDF operations in the suburbs of Bethlehem, an Israeli soldier suffered wounds of moderate severity as a result of friendly fire.

At the end of August 2017 ten soldiers were lightly injured at the Shizafon base in southern Israel after a smoke grenade exploded.

At the beginning of September 2017 an Israeli soldier was severely injured by a grenade that exploded during military training on the base in the south of the country.

These incidents indicate that the Israeli military has serious shortcomings in the realm of personnel proficiency and equipment maintenance.

The Gideon Plan

In order to give the IDF the ability to confront modern threats from various armed groups, while implementing budget cuts and minimizing the number of accidents, Israel adopted the five-year Gideon Plan in 2015.

Image: Israeli soldiers patrol near Ramallah on Friday, June 20, 2014. Credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash 90

Main Provisions of the Plan

  • Reduction of 2500 professional soldiers and officers.
  • Reduction of military service of male draftees from 36 to 32 months. (Reduction of military service of female soldiers from the draft is not considered so far).
  • Reduction of the age of commanders. If the average age of the regiment staff officers, including the commander of the regiment, was 35 to 37 years, now for these positions officers from the age of 32 will be appointed. The staff officers of the brigade, including the brigade commander, 40 to 42 years instead of 45 to 46 years respectively.
  • The reduction in the number of reservists to 100 thousand. The reservists who will remain in service will be trained and armed as support troops.
  • Reducing the number of artillery and light infantry brigades.
  • Structures such as the Education Corps, Military Rabbinate, Chief Reserve Officer, the Chief of Staff’s Advisor on Women’s Affairs, Army Radio and the Military Censor must undergo reduction and optimization. The command of the Northern District will be merged with the command of the land forces.
  • Creation of the cyber-troops. Jerusalem Post, citing a senior officer of the IDF, reported at the beginning of 2017 that it was decided to postpone establishing the cyber-troops center.
  • Bolstering of the Navy group through the procurement and construction of surface ships and a submarine.
  • Rearming the Air Force by purchasing the American F-35 and UAVs of American and local production.
  • Ending deferment to students in yeshivas (religious high schools) is not mentioned in this plan.

These provisions indicate IDF’s leaders had decided to focus on transforming it from conscript army to a professional one, staffed with a large number of trained soldiers as well as young and promising officers, capable to implement and employ in practice new ideas.  The fact that the command of the Northern District will be united with the command of the land forces indicates that this area (south of Lebanon and Hezbollah) is given special attention. The new army will be armed with more modern equipment and thus will be able to withstand modern threats.

The Israeli Missile Defence Systems vs. the Hezbollah Missile Arsenal

Knowing that Hezbollah will not invade Israel itself, its most capable units are involved in the fighting in Syria, and Hezbollah’s armored forces of the movement are in the development stages, for the Israeli military the biggest threat is Hezbollah’s missile arsenal.

Israel Defence Systems

Israeli Defense Forces: Military Capabilities, Scenarios for the Third Lebanon War

Click to see the full-size image

There are 17 batteries of MIM-23 I-HAWK available for air defence but presumably due to their obsolescence they are not in active service.

For comparison purposes, the cost of Qassam type rockets of Palestinian production according to Israeli experts is in the neighbourhood of a few hundred dollars. Rockets for the BM-21 Grad cost few thousand. The cost of production of ballistic, anti-ship and medium-range Iranian-made missiles is unknown, but may be assumed that they do not exceed several hundred thousand dollars.

Of course, human life is priceless and the potential loss in this case from Grad rockets, not to mention Scud and Iranian missiles, exceeds the cost of the interceptor missile. While the Iron Dome control system will only launch missiles if incoming missiles are calculated to fall in residential areas, the cost balance is still not in Israel’s favor.

Scenarios for the Third Lebanon War

Over time, IDF’s military effectiveness had declined. Israel has won the 1967 fully and unconditionally. The Egyptian and Syrian armies were dealt a powerful blow, and the Golan Heights, the Sinai Peninsula and the western shore of the river Jordan were occupied. The war of 1973 was won by Israel with heavy human and material losses; however, neither the Egyptian nor the Syrian army was completely defeated. In the 1982 war, where the IDF had numerical superiority, it had won a tactical victory but the task of reaching Beirut to link up with the right-wing Christian Phalangists was not completed. In the Second Lebanon War of 2006 due to the overwhelming numerical superiority in men and equipment the IDF managed to occupy key strong points but failed to inflict a decisive defeat on Hezbollah. The frequency of attacks in Israeli territory was not reduced; the units of the IDF became bogged down in the fighting in the settlements and suffered significant losses. There now exists considerable political pressure to reassert IDF’s lost military dominance and, despite the complexity and unpredictability of the situation we may assume the future conflict will feature only two sides, IDF and Hezbollah. Based on the bellicose statements of the leadership of the Jewish state, the fighting will be initiated by Israel.

The operation will begin with a massive evacuation of residents from the settlements in the north and centre of Israel. Since Hezbollah has agents within the IDF, it will not be possible to keep secret the concentration of troops on the border and a mass evacuation of civilians. Hezbollah units will will be ordered to occupy a prepared defensive position and simultaneously open fire on places were IDF units are concentrated. The civilian population of southern Lebanon will most likely be evacuated. IDF will launch massive bombing causing great damage to the social infrastructure and some damage to Hezbollah’s military infrastructure, but without destroying the carefully protected and camouflaged rocket launchers and launch sites.

Image: Israeli soldiers walk together after crossing back into Israel from Lebanon Monday, July 31, 2006. Credit: David Guttenfelder, AP

Hezbollah control and communications systems have elements of redundancy. Consequently, regardless of the use of specialized precision-guided munitions, the command posts and electronic warfare systems will not paralysed, maintaining communications including through the use of fibre-optic communications means. IDF discovered that the movement has such equipment during the 2006 war. Smaller units will operate independently, working with open communication channels, using the pre-defined call signs and codes.

Israeli troops will then cross the border of Lebanon, despite the presence of the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, beginning a ground operation with the involvement of a greater number of units than in the 2006 war. The IDF troops will occupy commanding heights and begin to prepare for assaults on settlements and actions in the tunnels. The Israelis do not score a quick victory as they suffer heavy losses in built-up areas. The need to secure occupied territory with patrols and checkpoints will cause further losses.

The fact that Israel itself started the war and caused damage to the civilian infrastructure, allows the leadership of the movement to use its missile arsenal on Israeli cities. While Israel’s missile defence systems can successfully intercept the launched missiles, there are not enough of them to blunt the bombardment. The civilian evacuation paralyzes life in the country. As soon IDF’s Iron Dome and other medium-range systems are spent on short-range Hezbollah rockets, the bombardment of Israel with long-range missiles may commence. Hezbollah’s Iranian solid-fuel rockets do not require much time to prepare for launch and may target the entire territory of Israel, causing further losses.

It is difficult to assess the duration of actions of this war. One thing that seems certain is that Israel shouldn’t count on its rapid conclusion, similar to last September’s exercises. Hezbollah units are stronger and more capable than during the 2006 war, despite the fact that they are fighting in Syria and suffered losses there.

Conclusions

The combination of large-scale exercises and bellicose rhetoric is intended to muster Israeli public support for the aggression against Hezbollah by convincing the public the victory would be swift and bloodless. Instead of restraint based on a sober assessment of relative capabilities, Israeli leaders appear to be in a state of blood lust. In contrast, the Hezbollah has thus far demonstrated restraint and diplomacy.

Image Credit: Israeli Air Force

Underestimating the adversary is always the first step towards a defeat. Such mistakes are paid for with soldiers’ blood and commanders’ careers.  The latest IDF exercises suggest Israeli leaders underestimate the opponent and, more importantly, consider them to be quite dumb. In reality, Hezbollah units will not cross the border. There is no need to provoke the already too nervous neighbor and to suffer losses solely to plant a flag and photograph it for their leader. For Hezbollah, it is easier and safer when the Israeli soldiers come to them. According to the IDF soldiers who served in Gaza and southern Lebanon, it is easier to operate on the plains of Gaza than the mountainous terrain of southern Lebanon. This is a problem for armoured vehicles fighting for control of heights, tunnels, and settlements, where they are exposed to anti-armor weapons.

While the Israeli establishment is in a state of patriotic frenzy, it would be a good time for them to turn to the wisdom of their ancestors. After all, as the old Jewish proverb says: “War is a big swamp, easy to go into but hard to get out”.

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Saudi Zio-Wahhabi accuses Lebanon of being ‘kidnapped’ by Hezbollah & ‘declaring war’ on Riyadh

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Riyadh has accused Lebanon of “declaring war” on Saudi Arabia by allowing Hezbollah “aggression” against the Gulf Kingdom. Earlier, the Lebanese militant group accused the Saudis of forcing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri out of office.

Hariri unexpectedly announced his resignation on Saturday in a televised statement recorded in Saudi Arabia. In his resignation speech, Hariri accused Iran and Hezbollah of a “desire to destroy the Arab world.” The next day, the leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, accused Saudi Arabia of forcing the premier out of office and writing his resignation statement for him. Tehran meanwhile firmly rejected Hariri’s accusations, saying that Iran only seeks “peace and stability” and pointing out its “excellent” relationship with Beirut.

Amid the political uncertainty, on Monday the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news network reported that King Salman had met with Hariri in Riyadh, where the monarch shared the details of Hezbollah’s alleged aggression against Saudi Arabia.

According to the Saudi Minister of State for Gulf Affairs, Thamer al-Sabhan, Hezbollah is accused of smuggling drugs and providing terrorist training to Saudi youngsters. During the meeting, King Salman allegedly accused the Lebanese militant group of being involved in “every terrorist act that threatens Saudi Arabia,” Al-Arabiya reported. The ruler of the kingdom also allegedly vowed to use “all political and other means” to confront Hezbollah, which he called the “Party of Satan.”

“We will treat the government of Lebanon as a government declaring war because of Hezbollah militias,” Al-Sabhan told al-Arabiya. “Lebanon is kidnapped by the militias of Hezbollah and behind it is Iran.”

“We expect the Lebanese government to act to deter Hezbollah,” the minister said. “The Lebanese must all know these risks and work to fix matters before they reach the point of no return.”

Al-Sabhan did not clarify what actions Saudi Arabia might take against Lebanon. There was also no immediate reaction from Beirut, where Lebanese President Michel Aoun is yet to accept the prime minister’s resignation. Aoun plans to decide on the issue after Hariri returns to Lebanon from Saudi Arabia, presidential spokesman Nabih Berri told reporters Monday.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia blames Iran for missile launched from Yemen, warns it could be considered ‘act of war’

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Win for Hezbollah as Saudi-backed Lebanese premier resigns

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By Sami Moubayed | Asia Times 

The writing has been on the wall in Lebanon since early summer. Many expected the marriage of convenience between Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and President Michel Aoun to snap — but not as abruptly as it did on Saturday.

Hariri announced his resignation in a televised address delivered from Riyadh. Aoun was neither consulted nor informed beforehand, which sent shockwaves throughout Lebanon. It may well be that Hariri was asked to resign by Saudi Arabia, a country that has long backed him and indeed bankrolled both his own career and that of his father and predecessor, Rafik al-Hariri.

During his previous tenure as premier, he was forced out of office during a meeting at the Oval Office with President Barak Obama. Back then, Hariri’s cabinet collapsed when ministers from Hezbollah and Amal walked out on him, embarrassing him at the White House. His latest resignation may have had an element of revenge.

Weeks after Saudi Arabian State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer Al Sabhan called for the toppling of Hezbollah, promising “astonishing developments” in the upcoming days, the Lebanese politician blamed his resignation on Hezbollah and Iran.

Hariri was never very fond of Hezbollah, accusing its top command of being behind his father’s 2005 murder. He briefly set aside political differences with its secretary-general, Hasan Nasrallah, back in 2009, creating a cabinet that promised to “protect” Hezbollah’s arms. More recently, in November 2016, he reached another understanding with the group, agreeing to accept their ally – Aoun – as president on the condition that Auon return him to the premiership. This power-sharing formula was regarded as a tentative truce between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but its foundations were shaky, too good to last.

Hariri remained highly critical of Hezbollah’s military involvement in the Syrian conflict, claiming that it had attracted ISIS and other jihadi groups into Lebanese territory. Putting his full weight behind the Syrian Opposition, he repeatedly called on Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to pull his troops out of Syria and famously said he would only visit Syria once the regime of Bashar al-Assad was toppled.

In August, two of his cabinet ministers – members of Hezbollah and its parliamentary ally, the Amal Movement – visited Syria against his will, taking part in a high-level economic function. The two infuriated the prime minister by firing off statements from Damascus in their official capacities. Then, in September, Hariri’s foreign minister, Gebran Bassil, also defied him as he met with his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Mouallem, at the United Nations. Some weeks later, Hezbollah launched a full-fledged offensive against ISIS pockets near the Lebanese border, without approval from the Lebanese Government.

Another wedge issue has been Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Hezbollah has been pressing hard for their return, claiming that their native cities and towns are now safe. Hariri insists their lives are still in danger back home and wants them to stay. Hezbollah media outlets have accused him of wanting to keep them in Lebanon because they are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslims opposed to the Damascus government, which helps to balance Lebanon’s sectarian dynamics.

In his resignation speech, Hariri lashed out against Hezbollah, saying its arms were targeting the “chests of Lebanese and Syrians.” He repeated a long-held demand that all arms should be in the hands of the Lebanese State, and not with non-state players, be they Shiite or Sunni.

He also lashed out at the Iranians who back Hezbollah, saying: “The evil that Iran spreads in the region will backfire on it.” Hezbollah’s actions, he added, have put Lebanon “in the eye of the storm,” thanks to rising numbers of Islamic fundamentalists in certain pockets since 2014.

Hariri hinted that he feared for his life, saying that Lebanon was living in a climate “similar to the atmosphere that prevailed” at the time of his father’s assassination. “I have sensed what is being plotted covertly to target my life.” He then boomed: “Iran’s arms in the region will be cut off.”

President Aoun has yet to comment on Hariri’s resignation, saying that he will discuss the matter with his Prime Minister once he returns from Saudi Arabia. Many suspect, however, that Hariri will not be returning to Beirut anytime soon.

Constitutionally, Aoun is able to refuse the resignation but this is unlikely, as both he and Hezbollah will be glad to see the end of Hariri. They will likely call on a friendly independent Sunni to assume the premiership, since by convention neither a Shiite nor a Christian can assume the job. Hariri’s departure now gives them a free hand to tailor Lebanese politics to their liking ahead of parliamentary elections set for next May 2018.

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Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime gamble risks plunging Lebanon into war

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Saad Hariri’s sudden resignation from Lebanon’s premiership, announced from Saudi Arabia, has raised fears that regional tensions were about to escalate and that the small country would once again pay a heavy price.

Hariri quit his post on Saturday in a televised speech broadcast by Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya television, during which he appeared tense as he carefully read out from a written statement.

He claimed that he feared the same fate as his assassinated father and accused Iran and the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah of meddling in Arab countries’ affairs.

Hariri’s departure sent shockwaves through Lebanon as the country is struggling to maintain stability at a time when much of the Middle East is gripped by Takfiri violence rooted in Saudi Arabia.

Lebanon’s Minister of Justice Salim Jreissati said the development was “confusing and suspicious in its timing and location as well as the way it was delivered and the content of the resignation.”

“The optics are terrible — for Hariri to resign from Riyadh, imagine how his audience [in Lebanon] feels watching that,” said Emile Hokayem, a regional analyst at the Institute for Strategic Studies.

“God protect Lebanon from the evil of Saudi Arabia’s reckless adventures,” Sheikh Nabil Kawouk, a member of Hezbollah’s central committee, told Lebanon’s Al Jadeed television.

Last week, Qatar’s former prime minister Hamad bin Jassim revealed how the US coordinated support by Doha, Riyadh and Ankara for terrorists operating against the Syrian government.

Syria has always been a thorn in the side of Israel. The Arab country is part of the “axis of resistance” along with Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran, which has brought Daesh to the brink of elimination.

The triangle of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US is alarmed and the prospect of an eventual triumph of this axis which has now become inevitable has prompted them to take drastic measures.

On Friday, as Syria began celebrating the capture of Dayr al-Zawr, Nusra Front terrorists launched a massive assault on a Druze village neighboring the occupied Golan Heights.

According to Syrian state media, the onslaught was carried out with Israeli coordination and assistance but Tel Aviv used the occasion to threaten direct intervention in the war.

Hariri’s resignation over what he called Hezbollah’s “grip” on Lebanon is the latest drastic step which Saudi Arabia and its allies have taken to tip the scales even at the cost of turning Lebanon into another Syria.

With the prime minister out of the political landscape, the architects of the new “plot” could claim that Lebanon was exclusively under Hezbollah’s control. That idea was articulated by Israeli minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman on Saturday.

“Lebanon=Hezbollah. Hezbollah=Iran. Lebanon=Iran,” he tweeted.

Hariri was appointed as the Lebanese premier in late 2016, after two years of political deadlock in the country. He formed a national unity government that included almost all of the main political parties in Lebanon, including Hezbollah.

Under the Lebanese constitution, the prime minister should be picked from among the Sunni community, but Saudi Arabia has tried to use the prerogative to maintain its influence in the country.

Riyadh says the government should be purged of Hezbollah, especially at a time when the resistance movement is emerging stronger from the Syria conflict.

Over the past few weeks, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Persian Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan had unleashed a series of vitriolic attacks against Hezbollah, saying the group “should be punished… and confronted by force.”

The accusations coincided with new sanctions approved by US House of Representatives on the Lebanese resistance movement.

Hossein Sheikholeslam, a senior Iranian politician, told Al Mayadeen TV that Hariri’s’ resignation had been coordinated before between US president Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He said, “After the defeat of Daesh and the US in the region, Washington and Riyadh are trying to fuel tensions in Lebanon and the region.”

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, an adviser to the Iranian parliament speaker, agreed. “The decision has been made by the anti-Iran and anti-Hezbollah front following the disillusionment of US and its allies with Daesh,” he said.

In Lebanon, political leaders expressed their apprehension, including the leader of Lebanon’s Druze minority, who has frequently played kingmaker in Lebanese politics.

Walid Jumblatt, the leader of Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), warned of the political burden and consequences of the resignation.

Hilal Khashan, a professor of political science at the American University of Beirut, said Hariri’s departure was “a dangerous decision whose consequences will be heavier than what Lebanon can bear.”

“Hariri has started a cold war that could escalate into a civil war, bearing in mind that Hezbollah is unmatched in Lebanon on the military level,” he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, welcomed the decision and said Hariri’s departure should be a “wake-up call” to the international community to what he described as the threat posed by Iran.

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US offers $12 mln bounty on two Hezbollah leaders, cites ‘homeland’ threat

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The US has offered a total of $12 million in rewards for the capture of two senior Hezbollah officials, saying the Iranian-backed group is plotting attacks inside the US. The announcement comes as Washington mulls canceling the Iran nuclear deal.

A $7 million bounty applies to Talal Hamiyah, head of Hezbollah’s external operations. Another $5 million is being offered for Fuad Shukr, the group’s senior military official, accused of masterminding the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing that killed 241 US Marines.

Hezbollah is “focused on US interests, including here in the homeland,” National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas J. Rasmussen told reporters at the State Department Tuesday.

While he declined to comment on any specific, credible or imminent threats, Rasmussen said the US intelligence community continues to see “activity on behalf of Hezbollah here inside the homeland.”

“It’s our assessment that Hezbollah is determined to give itself a potential homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook,” he added.

The FBI arrested two Hezbollah operatives in June, one in New York and another in Michigan, said Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan A. Sales.

Asked whether this would affect Washington’s financial support to the government of Lebanon, which includes several Hezbollah members, Sales replied that it will not. He added that the US does not recognize any distinctions within the group.

“Hezbollah has no political wing. It is a single organization, a terrorist organization, and it is rotten to its core,” Sales said, pointing to Iran as the group’s chief sponsor.

The State Department designated Hezbollah – or Hizballah, as the US government spells it – as a foreign terrorist organization in October 8, 1997. In February this year, the US offered a $5 million bounty for Mohammed Ali Hamadei, a Hezbollah member who allegedly took part in the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in which US sailor Robert Stethem was killed.

Although the bounties were officially announced Tuesday, news of their existence was reported Monday by the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv. … Full article

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November 2017
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