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Subject: hizbollah gettin too big for its britches
norden    5/7/2008 11:45:47 PM
This is interesting (me thinks) Opposition vows no retreat after day of clashes Government side accuses Hizbullah of 'open attack against the state' By Hussein Abdallah Daily Star staff Thursday, May 08, 2008 Opposition vows no retreat after day of clashes BEIRUT: A General Labor Confederation (GLC) strike turned political and violent on Wednesday when supporters of the opposition took to the streets and blocked the main road leading to Beirut's international airport in protest at the government's recent decision to sack the facility's security chief, General Wafiq Shoucair, and counter Hizbullah's private phone network. A well-informed opposition source told The Daily Star on Thursday that the opposition would not stop its protest action unless the Western-backed government reversed its decisions. "Our movement will not stop and will change to become civil disobedience until our demands are met," the source added. "After rejecting Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri's call for dialogue, the government made a number of provocative decisions. Our movement is the result of these decisions." After an Amal Movement meeting that was headed by Berri later on Wednesday, the party held the Lebanese government responsible for the current escalation. Hizbullah's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, is due to hold a new conference on Thursday to react to the government's recent decisions. Youth and Sports Minister Ahmad Fatfat told The Daily Star that the Lebanese Army and security forces would not hesitate to open the airport road in a timely manner. "Hizbullah's actions are an open attack against the state," he said. "What Hizbullah is doing reminds the Lebanese people of what Israel did to the airport in the summer 2006 war," he added, referring to the Jewish state's bombing of runways and fuel tanks. Opposition supporters blocked the airport road by burning tires and erecting sand berms on the street. They also started what appeared to be a sit-in in the vicinity of the airport with the aim at pressuring the government. There was no damage to the airport. The Cabinet on Monday decided to relieve Shoucair of his duties at the airport. Shoucair was accused of not taking the necessary measures to prevent Hizbullah from allegedly setting up cameras. The Cabinet also instructed state security forces to do all that is necessary to counter Hizbullah's private phone network. In reaction to the cabinet's decisions, Hizbullah officials warned the government against "touching" the phone network, which they described as "part of the resistance's arsenal." Meanwhile, Sunni Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani lashed out at Hizbullah. "We thought that Hizbullah was dedicated to fighting Israel, but we were surprised to see Hizbullah change to an armed force that is trying to occupy Beirut," he said. "Hizbullah is kidnapping the airport to blackmail the Lebanese government in a bid to force it to accept the setting up of cameras to monitor the airport and the establishment of a private phone network for Hizbullah." Qabbani also said that Lebanon's Sunni community was fed up with Hizbullah's actions. He also lashed out at Iran for its financing of what he called "Hizbullah's violations." Also on Wednesday, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea accused Hizbullah of being a "Mehdi Army" in the streets on Beirut, referring to Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia, which has recently come under heavy attack by US and Iraqi forces. He also accused Hizbullah of wanting to control the airport. "Hizbullah is telling the Lebanese government: 'If the airport is not under our control, there will be no airport at all," he said. He also pointed out the fact that Christian areas have not witnessed any form of unrest. "Christians ignored the opposition's strike," he said. Geagea also said after meeting Prime Minister Fouad Siniora later on Wednesday that the Lebanese government was capable of unblocking the roads leading to the airport. "They think that we cannot reopen the roads. I assure them that we are capable of doing that," he said. In an interview with Future Television, Siniora said Hizbullah's actions were "worse than what Israel did during the 1982 invasion" because the resistance is not a foreign force. In June of that year, the Israeli military killed more than 20,000 people as its forces drove all the way to Beirut from a strip of the South occupied since 1978. It also assisted its Lebanese Christian militia allies in massacring hundreds of civilians at Beirut's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Despite widespread street clashes, including fire from assault rifles and heavy machine guns, no deaths were reported on Wednesday. Siniora also said that while no decision had been taken to impose a curfew, that matter was under discussion. Also Wednesday, the ruling March 14 Forces coalition issued a statement condemning the opposition's actions. The statement
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Shirrush    My two Piastres.   5/9/2008 11:04:32 AM
It looks like the end of multiconfessional, compromise-based Lebanon, and the advent of al-Loobnaan al-Islami. Nobody inside Lebanon has the military might to prevent the Hez from taking over, and I doubt that Jordan and Saudyiah will ever make a move in support of their beleaguered business partners. As to Paris and Washington, their utter silence is very telling. Once again, the Lebanese will have proof that they can expect no assistance from the cowardly West.
War is coming!

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FJV       5/9/2008 12:47:05 PM
I do not share Shirrush's gloomy view.

1st  With Hezbollah being an Iranian puppet and the Arabs fearing Persians more than Jews, there are bound to be be plenty of Machiavellian oppertunities favorable for Israel (and the US should they want to).

2nd The following article in Parameters paints a different picture. Source:

There is little doubt that Iranian-backed Hezbollah is a powerful force in Lebanon. It ably demonstrated its military capability in the three-week conflict with Israel in 2006. Hezbollah is also a political party, controlling 14 seats in the Lebanese Parliament (11 percent of the total 128 seats) and 21 percent of the municipalities across Lebanon.
7 During reconstruction following the 2006 conflict, Hezbollah frequently co-opted aid from the West and distributed it through a network of hospitals, schools, and social organizations. The organization is firmly woven into the fabric of Lebanese society.8

Hezbollah is not, however, the most powerful military force in Lebanon. The Lebanese army consists of 20 mechanized, airborne, and commando brigades and regiments, equipped with Russian, French, and British equipment. All told, it can field some 70,000 soldiers. The Lebanese military also has a navy with 27 boats, mainly of British and French origin, and an air force that has five British fighters and about 40 helicopters of French, British, and American manufacture.9 This military is capable of independent operations within Lebanon. For example, in 2007, the Lebanese military dealt a series of crushing blows to al Qaeda-linked Fatah al-Islam near the Palestinian refugee camp, Nahr el-Bared.10

By comparison, Hezbollah?s full-time strength is only 1,000 guerilla fighters equipped with long-range rockets and antitank, antiship, and antiaircraft missiles. In emergencies, between 5,000 and 10,000 reserve fighters can be mobilized.11 Hezbollah has no navy or air force. While Hezbollah was able to launch katyusha rockets into Israel until the last day of the 2006 war, there is reason to believe that it lost much of its military capability. Israeli and independent observers claim that as many as 500 to 600 Hezbollah fighters may have been killed.12 Attesting even more to the weakness of the organization, as part of the peace accords, Hezbollah permitted the Lebanese military to enter the south of Lebanon, a move it had consistently opposed since the end of the Lebanese civil war.13

Nor is Hezbollah the most powerful political force in Lebanon. Following the June 2005 elections, the anti-Syrian coalition Tayyar al-Mustaqbal (Future Tide) gained control of the government with 72 parliamentary seats.14 This coalition was instrumental in the so-called Cedar Revolution of March 2005, which eventually forced the Syrian military to withdraw from Lebanon, ending 30 years of occupation. The protest the group organized was able to bring as many as a million people from across Lebanese society into the streets.15 Hezbollah?s counterprotests only mustered approximately 200,000 individuals.16

Probably the most compelling argument against Lebanese membership in the Shia Crescent is demographic. Only between 30 and 40

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norden    dos centavos   5/9/2008 2:56:07 PM
I dunno FJV I have to respectfully disagree with you comments about fearing Persians more than Jews. Unfortunately there is still a lot of resentment amongst Lebanese (Maronite Druze and Muslim alike) against Israel post "Peace for Galilee" and Hizbollah has done a fair job of winning hearts and minds "funny how a sweaty wad of cash can do that". I am going to disagree with the article posted *cringe* i realize the source is great and i am not as well informed as the US Military but i think its historically naive to dismiss them so readily. While we say we can kick their ass militarily we wil not be able to get to that point politically and Hizbollah knows this. As for having only 1000 fighters is also naive there are 1.2 million co-religionists and Syrian secret service are still a powerful and feared force in Lebanon. Also a civil war is quite a polarizing force. When the lines are drawn in the sand (if it comes to that) i believe Hiz could easily get a 5 figure untrained sympathetic guerrilla force overnight and there are lots of AK's and RPG's in cosmoline just waiting. While i do not believe Hizbollah could win, it will surely be horrific as most civil wars are.

On another note i feel Hizbollah is a weapon of mass distraction. When they IAEA was coming down hard on Iran for enrichment summer 06 we had a flare up in Leb and now that we are sabre rattling against Iran for their support of Iraqi militia's we have Hiz goin ballistic again. I find this interesting and effective manipulation.

Maybe im crazy? I am sure someone here will let me know ;)

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Shirrush       5/9/2008 3:30:12 PM
Thank you FJV for the article.
There should be, however, a caveat regarding news agencies, namely Reuters, AP, and especially AFP, which are de facto under the Syro-islamists' orders to downplay the gravity of situation until their takeover of Lebanon is complete. This is the same situation as in Gaza. It is much better for these agencies people to be alive, earning a salary and lying than getting abducted and beheaded for the crime of reporting the situation "as is".

While it is possible that the figures quoted are indeed accurate, this dry exposé of the forces present in Lebanon does not take into consideration the utter lack of substance of the Lebanese armed forces, and the lack of training, weaponry, and logistic depth of the Mustaqbal coalition's alleged militias. The Lebanese army, which is 40% Shi'ite, has been heavily infiltrated by Hizb-Allah, to the point of paralysis if not complete control. It is, in fact, already coming apart, and has been unable of enforcing the elected government's will, to the effect that the Hizb now controls most of Lebanon's strategic gateways, Beyrouth's airport and Beyrouth's harbor, and has conquered, during these last two days, the totality of this city's Sunni neighborhoods including the Hariri family's mansion. All of the majority's media have been shut down as well.
Just as importantly, this article entirely fails to mention the fact that Syria's rather considerable weight is indeed on the Hizb's tray of the Lebanese balance, and also can do what it wants across the long and very porous border.  The Syrian retreat of 2005 is history, and has always been a scam of sorts since the entire Syrian intel infrastructure was left in place and under Hizb-Allah's protection, but these excellent analysts o'er there at the US Army War College are seeing no evil. 

Some Lebanese Army units are now reported taking defensive positions in (Christian) East Beyrouth, but if it comes to blows, I do not see them capable of sustaining Hizb-Allah's (and Syria's) superior firepower. A couple of Jordanian/Fwench/USMC brigades with air cover and arty might tip the scales a bit, but we don't see them coming, do we?  
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Shirrush    Yup!   5/9/2008 5:07:17 PM
The excrement has indeed reached the centrifugal blower.
Lebanon will bleed, and so will we.

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norden    how about this for scary   5/9/2008 5:32:18 PM
nice articles btw

this broke in Lebanon around 1/2 hour ago.

from the Daily Star Lebanon

Nasrallah has a chance to write his own legacy

By The Daily Star

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Some are condemning what Hizbullah did this week as a coup d'etat, while others are defending it as a counter-putsch. That debate will not end soon, but there is no doubting that Lebanon's political status quo has been radically altered in a very few days. It is too early to predict where this will lead the country, but whereas the seat of actual Lebanese power has long been in doubt, for now at least it has a clear address: that of Hizbullah's secretary general, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. He may continue to shun any official position, but barring an unforeseen turn of events, the leader of the Lebanese resistance has just acquired a hitherto unprecedented amount of national political responsibility.

Hizbullah's track record on previous occasions of ascendancy bodes well for this instance: After the resistance movement forced Israel to pull its occupation forces from most of the South in 2000, it granted far more lenient treatment to Lebanese who had collaborated with the enemy than most established armies ordinarily do. This time, though, Nasrallah has made himself responsible for agendas of incalculably greater breadth.

Due largely to the political squabbles that have paralyzed Lebanon since 2005, urgent matters have been left waiting. If Nasrallah's gambit this week was aimed at ending those squabbles rather than responding with just another tit-for-tat escalation, it is now his job to make possible the resolution of several quandaries. The economy is adrift, the vagueness of the national defense strategy that worked so well in the 1990s has become a liability, the existing electoral law is fatally flawed, and deep mistrust marks both political and sectarian boundaries. In addition, depending on how the consequences of this week's events play out, the Lebanese could find themselves besieged like the Palestinians after they elected Hamas in January 2006. Above all else, there is a need to engage in real dialogue, not the profitless trade of empty slogans.

Nasrallah's task now is to create an inclusive environment conducive to the answering of these and other challenges. He and his party cannot be expected to come up with all of the solutions, and nor should they want to: If they cannot draw other players - and not just their closest allies - into the process, Nasrallah runs the risk of being cast as a dictator by default.

Hizbullah and its partners have frequently argued that their counterparts in the March 14 Forces coalition were not interested in true partnership, only in dictating terms. Now Nasrallah has to prove that his side is ready, willing and able to live up to its own expectations, and speed is of the essence: After 15 years of civil war, 15 of diluted sovereignty, and three of limbo, the Lebanese deserve at last to have a level of politics commensurate with their talents and energies. If Nasrallah is the man who makes this happen, history will judge his actions to have been a revolution, not a coup, and a long-overdue one at that.

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Shirrush       5/10/2008 6:06:48 AM
"Hizbullah's track record on previous occasions of ascendancy bodes well for this instance: After the resistance movement forced Israel to pull its occupation forces from most of the South in 2000, it granted far more lenient treatment to Lebanese who had collaborated with the enemy than most established armies ordinarily do."

Oh yeah? You call this lenient? 6,000 people forced into exile by looting terrorists?
You don't recognize planted terrorist propaganda when you see it, do you?
Do you really think the Daily Star wants to burn up like its colleague al-Mustaqbal, for not presenting a "balanced" view of the situation?
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norden    lulz   5/10/2008 3:05:50 PM
Shirrush If that was for me then you should have read the title of my post instead of going off half-cocked. Fight your real enemies sir. You cant quantify Hizbollah militarily anymore which is what a lot of people tend to do and my posting of that article was to show what the media (not all) in Lebanon is putting out there for public consumption. Nasrallah has done a good job in gaining public support for Hizbollah. The article was to prove my point that if a civil war breaks out he could get a large militia quickly. Now it seems they are pulling back, but what is the current government going to do. Hizbollah has shown they have the means and ability to disrupt the Lebanese government, The lebanese government will do nothing at their own demise i bet. Right now the time is right to dismantle Hizbollah but it wont be quick or without bloodshed. Hiz has proved it will fight if the Government goes against them. That should be reason enough to disarm them (by force) either you are a political force supporting the government or a proxy army. You cannot have it both ways and we know they are simply a iranian proxy hell bent on the destruction of Israel. While they wait for the war with Israel they pump Iranian cash to the Lebanese people winning hearts and minds and train Iraqi's to fight the US.
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norden    gee i hope Hiz agrees to this   5/10/2008 6:44:45 PM

I realize Debka doesnt have the highest hit percentage, but if this is true. The  Lebanese army gives in to all demands,

Lebanese General-----we will give you everything you asked for sorry our government got in your way. you can have the airport, and telecom if thats OK we can talk if you want the ground you took.

Hiz---Hmm ill need to talk to Rafsanjani back home but i think we would feel safer if we could oversee ports, and have energy independence.

Leb--- no problem we will fund a civilian nuclear facility for you and Inshallah we will finally have peace. The roadblocks arent a problem either after "Black September" we are used to them and the citizens religion is right on the DL. Well gotta go I have a country to run.

Exclusive: Lebanese PM opens door to surrender. Army grants two key Hizballah demands

May 10, 2008, 11:23 PM (GMT+02:00)

After four days of fierce fighting in which at least 37 people died, the Lebanese army revoked two government measures in obedience to Hizballah demands: the Shiite group?s independent telecommunication network will not be shut down and the pro-Hizballah Brig. Gen Wafiq Shqeir would keep his job as Beirut international airport head of security.

In a broadcast speech, Saturday, May 10, the pro-Western prime minister Fouad Siniora asked the army to defuse the crisis after Hizballah seized control of western Beirut, besieged the government center and attacked pro-government Sunni centers across Lebanon. Government loyalists found no support from Sinora?s powerful backers, the United States, France or even Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The pro-Western government was therefore forced to back down.

This means its acceptance of Hizballah?s communication system in central, southern and eastern Lebanon and its direct link to Syrian and Iranian command centers in Damascus; and the Shiite group?s Beirut headquarters online communications link to its Revolutionary Guards bosses in Tehran.

DEBKAfile's military sources report: Triumphant, the Hizballah chief Hassan Hasrallah will be a more dangerous enemy than ever. The army rather than the government laid down the condition that Hizballah withdraw from the Sunni districts of Beirut and the rest of the country and remove its armed men from the streets.

Even so, a government minister remarked that the deal awaits approval by Hizballah leaders and the Iranian ambassador in Beirut. It is far from certain that the Shiite terrorists will give up the territory they gained in the last four days.

Also in question are the roadblocks on highways and the shutdown of Beirut air and sea ports.

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Shirrush    Some good news at last?   5/12/2008 10:42:18 AM
Yesterday, the asshats that pose as military analysts for Israel's leading Arutz 2 TV channel were telling us that Jumblatt's PSP forces, i.e. the Druze meta-tribe of Lebanon, were being trounced by the Hez in the very heart of the Shuf, their mountain stronghold. This had the effect of causing significant anxiety to their Israeli correligionaries, as well as to the rest of us who care for the non-Muslim communities around here, and it should be noted that since the Druze community has some serious clout here, running the IDF among many other things, they were bound to remind the rest of us of our undeniable obligation towards them, and thus nudge Israel to somehow intervene and save the Jumblatt's gang asses.

Now, Michael Totten's website has the story, and it is rather different from what we heard yesterday on the tube:

May 12, 2008

Jumblatt's Men Set Back Iran's Militia in Lebanon

By Lee Smith

Our friend and colleague in Lebanon Elie Fawaz writes in to remind us that The War for Lebanon has not even begun yet in earnest and Hezbollah's ?victory? in Beirut is not all it seems:

?So, we know that Hezbollah's well-trained fighters are in control of most of west Beirut. The decision taken by Walid Jumblat and Saad al-Hariri not to fight back in Beirut, but rather hand most of their positions to the army ended any illusion regarding the sanctity of the ?resistance? ? that it would never turn its weapons inward, for now its hands are dripping with the blood of innocent Lebanese. But it's different in the Chouf where Jumblatt's forces bloodied Hezbollah.

?The Chouf is calm now after fighting over the weekend in which forces belonging to Talal Arslan, part of the Hezbollah-led opposition, jumped sides and joined alongside Jumblatt's men. As the Progressive Socialist Party website reports: 'The free people of the Shouf roll back an attack by the Iranian militias causing severe casualties in lives and equipment.'

?Hence, Jumblatt sounded more assertive last night on LBC news because he knows he got the upper-hand in the Chouf battles (Reuters is reporting at least 14 Hezbollah gunmen killed. Meanwhile, the PSP website is claiming 32 Hezbollah fighters killed and 250 wounded.). He was willing to hand his offices over to the army to deflect some of the tension and because he wants to avoid a civil war.?

In short, what happened in West Beirut was a given. According to a report from the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar, this coup had been planned well in advance and its mastermind was the recently assassinated Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh. The government may in fact have forced Nasrallah to show his hand at a time of its choosing, not his. Hezbollah's walkover in Beirut came as a surprise to no one; nor did the performance of the army, except perhaps the Bush administration which must now reconsider the amount of money it has spent on equipment and training for the Lebanese Armed Forces.

As for the pro-government fighters in Beirut, contrary to most press accounts, there are no Sunni ?militias? in the capital. Rather, it is mostly defensive armament, private citizens with small arms defending their families, homes and property. So it is hardly any surprise that Hezbollah managed to overrun Sunni neighborhoods easily. But that is merely one small part of Lebanon, and while the attention of the foreign press has focused on fighting in one sector of the capital, events throughout the rest of the country suggest that Hezbollah's ?rout? is illusory. Tony Badran, drawing on various Lebanese accounts and his own reporting, offers this account:

?After taking over West Beirut, Hezbollah tried to move to the Shouf, where there are two Shiite towns, Kayfoun and Qmatiyye. Hezbollah is trying to link them up to the Dahieh through the Karameh road, which links Dahieh to Choueifat-Aramoun-Doha-Deir Qoubel-Aytat-Kayfoun and Qmatiye, so that it can make encroachments, maintain access routes and not allow the Druze to surround the two Shiite towns.

?That was the plan, but Hezbollah got a severe beating in the Shouf. They were not able to penetrate anything, relying instead ? for the first time in the current fighting ? on artillery/mortar fire. To no avail. Yesterday alone we heard that seven Hezbollah fighters who tried to infiltrate got killed.

?Hence, Hezbollah burned its Druze ally, Talal Arslan. Whatever tiny following Arslan had before this, it's safe to say it has been seriously damaged. Witness for instance the fate of Syria's little Druze creation, the p

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