Thursday, May 8, 2008

In Lebanon, A Gift From Tehran

Lebanon is on the verge of civil war as Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, has sparked riots aimed at toppeling the democratically elected Lebanese government. In the photo above, the banner adorning a bridge in Beirut reads "A gift from the municipality of Tehran to the righteous, resisting Lebanese people." And indeed, where ever one looks in the Middle East and finds strife and bloodshed, the chances are far better than even that one will find "gifts" from Iran.

Since Syria ostensibly left Lebanon following the Cedar Revolution, the government has been under constant seige. Pro-democracy and pro-government legislators who pose a threat to Syria and Iranian influence have been sytematically assassinated. For the past year, Hezbollah has shut down Iraq's government, refusing to allow it to elect a President and demanding a veto power over all acts of government. Now Iran's milita proxy, Hezbollah, is attemptig to topple the government and take complete dominance over the country. When U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, spoke a few weeks ago about Iran attempting to "Lebanize" Iraq, this is precisely of what he spoke.

Update: Elie Fawaz, a resident of Beirut writing at the Middle East Journal, sums up the overall situation:

“For years Hezbollah has tried to jump the sectarian divide by defending the causes of the umma. But when Israel withdrew from South Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah's armada lost its raison d'etre. Yet even after the Syrian occupation ended in 2005 following the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the party refused to terminate its mission and give up its arms and the many privileges enjoyed under Damascus' tutelage. To survive, Hezbollah needs its perpetual resistance, but the Party of God is today at odds with the rest of the Lebanese, and the survival of Lebanon as a state depends on the government bringing an end to this conflicted situation. There is no way one state can have two centers of decision-making, two policies, two armies, two economies, that are at odds with each others. The road to the airport must be re-opened at any cost, and Hezbollah must cease his state within a state either by negotiations or by force.”

Read the entire post. The particular match that lit the latest hostilities began two days ago, when the government sacked the chief of security at Beirut airport and started an investigation into allegations that Hezbollah "set up surveillance cameras near the Beirut airport to monitor the comings and goings of anti-Syria Lebanese politicians . . ." The government is concerned that this might be tied to future assassination attempts. The government also moved to take down a private telecommunications system being funded by Iran as a nationwide military communications network for Hezbollah tied into Syrian Intelligence:

Hizbullah has linked its private telephone networks to the Syrian Army's communications System as well as to Syria's Mobile telephone network allowing Syrian Intelligence to operate freely in Lebanon and avoid Lebanese controls, al-Mustaqbal's Faris Khashan wrote.

Internal Security Forces Commander Gen. Ashraf Rifi and Director of Military intelligence Brig. George Khoury were assigned by the government more than a month ago to discuss the issue with Hizbullah, Khashan added. However, Hizbullah's Security chief Wafiq Safa and the party's International relations official Nawaf Moussawi informed Rifi and Khoury that "anyone who touches the network would be treated the same way we treat the Zionist enemy," he wrote.

Khashan labeled Hizbullah a "militia," noting that Hizbullah is not registered with the interior ministry as a political organization operating in Lebanon. Khashan said Police Counter-terrorism expert, Maj. Wissam Eid, has been assassinated because he managed to detect the serial assassinations committed against March 14 figures to the Hizbullah telephone network.

He reported that Hizbullah sped up work on extending the network after Eid's assassination, "which means that the killing was aimed at destroying evidence on previous assassinations, including one that appears linked to Hizbullah." The crime also aimed at creating "safe communications criteria for further assassinations," he added.

Read the entire article. (H/T Rightwing Nuthouse)

More on the hostilities from the Washington Post:

Political tensions once again disrupted the Lebanese capital Wednesday, with the outbreak of armed clashes and the closure of major roads by supporters of the Hezbollah-led opposition.

Hundreds of masked teenage backers of the Shiite Hezbollah movement and its ally Amal burned tires along roads leading to Beirut's international airport, while trucks and bulldozers were used to erect barricades around the facility. At least five civilians and two soldiers were wounded in mixed areas of the capital as army and police patrols attempted to bring the violence under control, local news media reported.

The state of civil disobedience is expected to continue until the government reverses its decision this week to remove a private land-line telephone network that Hezbollah has set up across Lebanon, according to an opposition source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The standoff between Lebanon's Western-backed government and the Hezbollah-led opposition backed by Syria and Iran has left the country without a president since November and paralyzed the work of its parliament.

In a cabinet meeting Monday evening that lasted until early Tuesday and that participants described as a "confrontation," Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's government condemned Hezbollah's phone network as "illegal and compromising to the state's sovereignty."

The cabinet also decided to remove army Brig. Gen. Wafiq Shoukair, a Shiite, as head of security at Beirut's international airport, following reports that Hezbollah had illegally installed cameras near the airport.

"We will not negotiate, and we will not make a bargain," said Marwan Hamadeh, the telecommunications minister. "We will not withdraw any of those decisions."

Hamadeh said the phone network, which was previously limited to Beirut's southern suburbs, had recently been extended to most regions of the country, adding that the Iranian Committee to Rebuild Southern Lebanon was supervising the work.

"Not taking those decisions was not an option. They keep threatening us and intimidating us, and now we decided to stand up to them," said Ahmad Fatfat, minister of youth and sports.

Fatfat said that the cameras set up around the airport were monitoring the movement of private jets and that the government feared assassination attempts

Hezbollah denied the accusations and said it would not accept the cabinet's moves. . . .

Read the entire article. Today, the violence is increasing dramatically as Iran's proxy, Hassan Nasrallah, spiritual leader of Hezbollah, in an apparent act of projection, told his followers that the Lebanese government declared war on Hezbollah. The Lebanese on-line newspaper, Ya Libnan, has the story of Nasrallah's speech:

A war was declared against us. When the declaration ends, the disobedience ends," declared Nasrallah in a press conference on Thursday.

"The decisions (of the government) are tantamount to a declaration of war and the start of a war... on behalf of the United States and Israel." He directly said that he would go to war with the Lebanese people if he felt Hezbollah's was being forced to disarm.

"Yes, we hit the streets, protested, cut off roads and blocked the airport. This is civil disobedience as it occurs in any country." In Hassan Nasrallah's fantasy world, most countries allow outlaws to take the streets with machine guns and RPG's?

Walid Jumblatt had clearly upset the Hezbollah chief, as most of his speech was leveled at the majority leader. Nasrallah threatened to "cut off" Jumblatt's hand if he dared to touch Hezbollah's weapons.

"Whoever is going to target us will be targeted by us. Whoever is going to shoot at us will be shot by us." He repeatedly referred to the ruling coalition as "Jumblatt's government", launching a series of personal attacks on the Druze leader, calling him a liar and a killer.

In his usually eloquent fashion, Nasrallah managed to link the firing of the Hezbollah aligned airport chief as an attack on a Shiite Muslim, adding that the government plans to turn the airport into a military base for the CIA and Mossad.

"Walid Jumblatt's dream is Sunni-Shia strife. We will not fulfill his dream." "If we wanted to stage a coup, you would have woken up this morning in prison, or in the middle of the sea," a visibly arrogant Nasrallah said, responding to allegations that Wednesday's chaos was a staged coup d'etat.

Nasrallah went to great lengths to justify the illegal communications network Hezbollah has in place, saying it is used in "defending the country against Israel." . . .

Read the entire article. The speech has further stoked the violence. This also from Ya Libnan:

Fierce clashes with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers raged in several densely populated Beirut districts immediately following Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah vowed to use weapons to defend his party's communications system.

Nasrallah delivered his message in hiding via a closed circuit press conference, where he accused "Jumblatt's government" of launching a war against Hezbollah, stressing that "this is a new era in which all red lines have collapsed."

"We are in war and they wouldn't be able to predict our reaction," Nasrallah said.

Nasrallah's hate filled press conference inspired new clashes between his followers and government supporters in Beirut districts of Msaitbeh, Ras Nabaa, Mazraa and Basta. Soon after, clashes spread to Verdun, Karakon Al-Druze, Al-Zarif, Al-Mulla and around Ain Al-Teeni.

There were also reports of Hezbollah gunmen in Hamra. . . .

Read the entire article. As one Lebanese put it, "Hezbollah is holding the country hostage." True, but the problem starts with the mad mullahs in Iran. Hezbollah and this violence is their "gift" to Lebanon.

Update: More reporting on the violence from Ya Libnan and Michael Toten.

(H/T Gateway Pundit)

1 comment:

KG said...

I've given up hope that the West will deal decisively with Iran--there just doesn't seem to be the will any more to make unpleasant decisions.
And we're going to pay one hell of a price for it.