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Wednesday November 15, 2006

Unexplained plutonium and enriched uranium traces found in an Iranian nuclear waste facility. UN watchdog asks Tehran for an explanation

November 14, 2006, 9:29 PM (GMT+02:00)

These substances are used to make the fissile core of nuclear warheads.

Ths IAEA report prepared for next week’s board meeting in Vienna confirms DEBKAfile disclosures that Iran is moving towards a weapons capability on two tracks: enriched uranium and plutonium. The watchdog also complains that lack of Iranian cooperation in the agency’s attempts to investigate suspicious aspects of Iran’s nuclear program raises the suspicion that the Islamic Republic is in the middle of developing a military option.

Earlier, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Iran would stage a “nuclear success celebration” in the first 10 days of Feb. 2007 to mark “the Iranian nation’s success in mastering the fuel cycle.”
 
 
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Rice denies a connection between the Israel-Palestinian issue and the Iraq war

November 15, 2006, 12:57 PM (GMT+02:00)

There is no connection between the stalemate in the Israel-Palestinian conflict and events in Iraq, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday night. She rejected the viewpoint of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who on Tuesday said progress in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would stabilize the situation in Iraq.

Blair was testifying before the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group.

Rice also rejected proposals to promote talks with Syria and Iran. Speaking to reporters in Germany on her way to Vietnam, she noted that Syria was associating itself with extremist elements and that there were no signs that Iran was prepared to contribute to the stabilization of Iraq.


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Israeli woman killed as eight Qassams hit Sderot

November 15, 2006, 12:26 PM (GMT+02:00)

Fatima Solotzker, 57, a mother of two, was killed in in a Qassam missile attack early Wednesday morning. The Qassam that killed her landed on the same street where Defense Minister Amir Peretz and his family live. One of Peretz’s security guards, a 24-year-old, was severely wounded and lost his legs. Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. Eight Qassams have been fired since Wednesday morning.

Buildings and vehicles were damaged by two missiles that hit the town center.

Tuesday night, five Qassam missiles hit Sderot. Gaza Palestinians fired an RPG at an Israeli border patrol, stepping up attacks on IDF units guarding the border fence.

Wednesday, the High Court in Jerusalem is to hear the petition filed by the parents of Sderot children to fully fortify their schools against missile attacks. The state has responded that it is not necessary to fortify all the classrooms.


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Iran’s “nuclear success celebration” takes place in first 10 days of February – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declares Tuesday

November 14, 2006, 7:45 PM (GMT+02:00)

He was reacting to recent statements by Israeli leaders. Monday, prime minister Ehud Olmert and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu stated during visits to the US that Iran must not be allowed to pass the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability.

The first days of February are the “Ten-Day Dawn” period annually marking the victory of the Islamic Revolution which established the Shiite Islamic Republic in 1979. According to Ahmadinejad, the next celebration in three months will mark “the Iranian nation’s success in mastering the fuel cycle.”

The US and its allies have finally agreed to live with a nuclear Iran, with an Iran possessing nuclear fuel cycle, he said.

He was saying in a word that the Israelis and Americans are too late. While they were talking about ways of halting Iran’s nuclear program, the Islamic Republic had sailed past and was on the way to attaining all its nuclear goals, including a weapons capability.

DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources: Iran has clearly made dramatic progress in its nuclear endeavor largely thanks to help from China and North Korea, as DEBKA-Net-Weekly disclosed on Nov. 10. But the big question is: Have they overcome all the technological obstacles towards transforming their capabilities into operational weapons. Ahmadinejad conveys the impression that they have. According to our intelligence information, the answer is negative.

Despite success in operating several hundred advanced P2 centrifuges for enriching uranium, the Iranians have not so far managed to master the necessary tens of thousands for operation at the requisite speed to produce a sufficiency of weapons-grade enriched uranium. Iran has still not built and activated 60,000 centrifuges.

Ahmadinejad’s boasts Tuesday may therefore be nothing but an attempt to shout down and deter the United States and Israel by declaring that any attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities will be futile since the Islamic Republic has already attained all the technological attainments it aspires to.

DEBKAfile’s intelligence and military sources cite another possibility, which has not been mentioned by either the Americans or the Israelis: Iran may purchase some technology and nuclear devices too off the shelf, without going to the trouble of full home-production. The Iranian government has many billions of petrodollars to burn for shortening its race to the world’s nuclear club. It has at least one potential vendor, North Korea.

For the moment, no evidence of such a transaction has reached Western or Israeli intelligence, but it is not ruled out.

Tehran is evidently troubled enough by the words of Israeli leaders to lodge a protest with the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna quoting deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh’s words as evidence of Israeli threats to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Last week, Sneh said Israel must stop Iran developing a nuclear bomb at all costs.


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Tehran further raises tensions with Washington by reducing dollar-based transactions

November 14, 2006, 9:30 PM (GMT+02:00)

Economy minister Davoud Danes Jafari announced Tuesday: “We will carry out our foreign currency transactions with currencies other than the dollar and our use of the dollar will reach a minimum level.” Tehran acted in response to US curbs on Iranian banks.


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Tuesday November 14, 2006

Nasrallah tells his Hizballah followers in S. Lebanon: Siniora government will soon be ousted

November 14, 2006, 1:41 PM (GMT+02:00)

It will soon be replaced with a “clean government,” he said. Six pro-Syrian ministers including Hizballah quit the Lebanese government Saturday, breaking up unity coalition talks and aiming to torpedo Foud Siniora’s initiative for an international tribunal to try the men implicated in the Feb. 2005 murder of the Lebanese politician Rafiq Hariri last year, including relatives of Bashar Asad’s. The pro-Syrian camp demanded veto power in the new coalition and threatened to foment civil unrest if their demands were not met.

Nasrallah reported that until now Hizballah had spent $300 m in funds received from Iran to repair the damage caused in its war on Israel.

DEBKAfile adds: Damascus and the Iranian-backed Hizballah are set to exploit the post-election uncertainties in Washington and sow unrest in Beirut and other parts of the Middle East to raise the ante for their cooperation on Iraq.


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Self-styled Al Qaeda Lebanon threatens to destroy “the corrupt government” that takes US orders

November 14, 2006, 1:14 PM (GMT+02:00)

“We have reached Lebanon and we will work on destroying this government and all the other agents,” said the type-written statement issued by the previously unknown group from the N. Lebanese Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared.

It came amid a political crisis in Beirut after the resignation of six pro-Syrian ministers.

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Bush: Iran must first give up uranium enrichment before being engaged by the US on quelling sectarian strife in Iraq

November 13, 2006, 9:28 PM (GMT+02:00)

This was the US president’s first post-election public statement on Iran. He spoke after his Nov. 13 White House meeting with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert in the wake of a conference with the Iraq Study Group headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton earlier Monday.

“If the Iranians want dialogue with us, they must verifiably suspend enrichment activities,” Bush said. Olmert warned that Iran is close to development a nuclear weapon which “Israel will not tolerate.”

The two agreed that it is up to Syria to show it is a fit partner for dialogue.

The president declined to offer his guest any commitment for US military action should Iran refuse to halt enrichment, beyond only economic isolation. He did not accept the Israeli leader’s charge that American efforts to isolate Iran in the last two years did not cause a slowdown in Iran’s banned activity but rather their acceleration. But Bush added: “I say this in the interest of world peace, that if Iran has a nuclear weapon, it will be incredibly destabilizing and obviously threatening to our strong ally. “

DEBKAfile notes that, in contrast to his former assertions, when the US president spoke of the danger of Iran’s nuclearization, he omitted to say that the US would not permit this threat to its “strong ally” develop.

Turning to Syria, the US president said: My policy is this: we expect the Syrians to be, one, out of Lebanon so that the Lebanese democracy can exist; two, not harboring extremists that create - that empower these radicals to stop the advance of democracies; three, to help this young democracy in Iraq succeed.

Olmert added: Everything the Syrians are doing is in the wrong direction - in Lebanon, in Iraq, and the sponsorship of Hamas and Khalid Mashal as the main perpetrators of terror against the state of Israel.

British premier Tony Blair is pushing hard for the US and the international community to “reach out” to Iran and Syria.


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Very recent Iranian-North Korean nuclear collusion revealed

November 13, 2006, 7:32 PM (GMT+02:00)

A disturbing piece of US intelligence was due to be laid before the US president George W. Bush’s strategy review conference with the Iraq Study Group and talks with the visiting Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert in Washington. It was bound to color the two events which both took place Monday, Nov. 13: Twelve days before North Korea’s first nuclear test on Oct.10, a secret Iranian military delegation of nuclear and missile experts was present in Pyongyang. The visitors were taken round North Korea’s Yongbyon reactor and the Punggye-ri testing site in the far north amid the preparations for the coming North Korean test.

This visit was first disclosed on Nov.10 by DEBKA-Net-Weekly 277.

To subscribe to DEBKA-Net-Weekly click HERE .

Some US officials received the impression that the Iranians were briefed on some of North Korea’s secret preparations for the test. If true, this would point to three developments in North Korean-Iranian relations:

First, China was in on the Iranian visit, but ignored it, preferring Pyongyang to carry the can as Iran’s nuclear partner rather than Beijing.

Second, China must also have known about the coming North Korean nuclear weapons test and only pretended to have been taken unawares by Pyongyang’s ten-minute advance notice.

Third, North Korea not only agreed to open its most secret nuclear installations to Iranian scrutiny, but is also willing to instruct Iranian scientists and technicians in Pyongyang or on their home ground on how to set up and execute a nuclear weapons test.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Tehran sources add: Iran’s overweening self-confidence in its ability to carry through its nuclear aspirations in the teeth of international rancor hinges heavily on its certainty of Sino-North Korean assistance.


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Al Qaeda is seeking technology for nuclear device to attack Western

November 14, 2006, 1:22 PM (GMT+02:00)

A senior British official confirmed Tuesday that the “aspiration is there” and so are attempts to gather materials and technology. Earlier this week, head of the British spy agency MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller revealed that some 1,600 young British Muslims are being groomed as suicide bombers with links to al Qaeda in Pakistan. She

said at least 30 terrorist attacks are being plotted in Britain, which could involve chemical and nuclear devices. "Other countries also face a new terrorist threat,” she warned, from Spain to France to Canada and Germany." DEBKAfile adds: The two suicide bombers who attacked the Tel Aviv bar Mike's Place three years ago were British al Qaeda members who reached Tel Aviv through Syria and Gaza.


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Friday November 10, 2006

 

DEBKAfile Exclusive: USS Boxer Strike Group, entered the Persian Gulf Thursday, Nov. 9, the largest US landing force to reach this water in a decade

November 10, 2006, 3:21 PM (GMT+02:00)

The Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG) now in the US Fifth Fleet area headquartered in Bahrain, consists of Boxer (picture), Amphibious Squadron 5, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Seals), the Coast Guard cutter Midgett and

Canadian frigate HMCS Ottawa, as well as the USS Dubuque, USS Comstock, the largest landing craft in the US Navy, USS Bunker Hill and the guided missile destroyers USS Benfold and USS Howard.

The Boxer Group has just come from joint maneuvers with the Indian navy in the Arabian Sea opposite the coast of Goa, including large-scale landing practices. The group’s commander, Capt. David Angood said that if “anything important happens in the real-world environment, the task force will deal with it in the most efficient manner.”

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the arrival of Boxer in the Persian Gulf coincided with the USS Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group’s passage through the Suez Canal on its way from the Gulf to the Mediterranean. It is the first time that a US naval strike force is accompanied by a coast guard unit. Its vessels are equipped and their crews trained for rapid rescue and aid missions to damaged ships and wounded crewmen. Their presence in the task force indicates that the Boxer strike group is prepared for Iranian attack by sea, air, submarine, sea-to-sea missiles or depth mines.


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U.S. NAVY GULF ENTRY
 

WASHINGTON [MENL] -- The U.S. Navy has been gathering a range of assets for introduction in the Gulf.

The navy has gathered aircraft carriers and troop transports for entry in the central Gulf. They said this included at least 10 warships that would arrive in the region over the next few days.

"There are assets being gathered in the Indian Ocean off the coast of India and Pakistan as well as assets moving toward the Gulf from the Red Sea," an official said.

Officials said the navy was ordered to begin the redeployment in the Gulf in Oct. 1. They said the first assets to sail toward the region were cruisers and minesweepers. 


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Iran has reported the formation of an army of suicide fighters. 

 Iran has reported the formation of an army of suicide fighters.
NICOSIA [MENL] -- Iran has reported the formation of an army of suicide
fighters.

Iranian officials said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has recruited
thousands of people and trained them for suicide missions. The officials
said the recruits were taught how to blow themselves up in front of oncoming
enemy main battle tanks and troop carriers as well as how to cross
minefields.

"The Revolutionary Guards does not only depend on its technological might
because it has thousands of martyrdom seekers and they are ready for
martyrdom-seeking operations on a large scale,'' IRGC commander Gen. Yahya
Safavi said.

In an interview on Iran'a Al Alam television on Nov. 5, Safavi called the
suicide troops "trained professionals." He said the troops would be used to
stop any ground invasion of Iran.

 
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Iran buying 'whole villages' of converts in Syria; Assad gives 'carte blance' 

 Iran buying 'whole villages' of converts in Syria; Assad gives 'carte
blance'
Geostrategy-Direct, www.geostrategy-direct.com, November 8, 2006
WASHINGTON - Iran is moving in on Syria to the point of encouraging Alawis
and Sunnis to convert to Shi'ite Islam.

Syrian opposition sources said the regime of President Bashar Assad has
given Iran "carte blanche" in Syria. Unlike his late father, Bashar has
allowed Iranian clerics to spread the Shi'ite religion in Syria.

"Syrians have been observing over the last year a dangerous phenomena mostly
witnessed by an alarming number of non-Shia turning to Khomeini-style Shia
in return for financial rewards," the opposition Reform Party of Syria
stated. "Whole villages and urban areas are adopting the Hizbullah model
whereby clinics, schools and social services are provided by Iran in return
for Syrians to convert to Shi'ism."

In August 2006, RPS stated, Iran opened two centers in the Syrian port of
Latakia. The centers, which teach Farsi, have been converting Sunni Muslims.

"Assad is logically calculating that if Hizbullah, with its 15,000 fighters
and a God-like following of its figurehead Sheik [Hassan] Nasrallah, can
achieve with $100 million a year the military prowess it exhibited against
Israel then why not turn all of Syria into a larger Hizbullah laboratory in
the hope of attaining the same results?" the Syrian opposition party stated.

Sunnis comprise 70 percent of Syria. About 11 percent of the country
consists of the ruling Alawite community, with the remainder Christians and
Druze.

Opposition sources said the spread of Shia in Iran has angered many Sunnis,
particularly those aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. Sunni clerics
envision a backlash against Iran and its representatives.

"Many [Sunni clerics] have voiced the following logic: We see the next
confrontation in the Middle East along the lines of Israel vs. Iran and we
have no choice but to stand by Israel to protect our religion," RPS stated.

"This logic emanates from the fact that no Sunni Arab country has the
military competence to stand-up to the Iran-Syria-Hizbullah axis and also
because Israel, unlike Iran, is not interested in converting Sunni Muslims,"
it said.

 
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Lebanon to install thousands of surveillance cameras in Beirut's Hizbullah
neighborhoods

Geostrategy-Direct, www.geostrategy-direct.com, November 8, 2006
NICOSIA - The Lebanese government has approved a surveillance plan for
Hizbullah-dominated areas of Beirut.

The Lebanese Cabinet has agreed to install surveillance cameras throughout
Beirut in a $12-million program. The Cabinet ordered the cameras to be
attached to telephone lines and placed in Hizbullah-dominated neighborhoods
of southern Beirut.

"It agreed unanimously to use all necessary means to control the security
situation in Lebanon," Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said.

Aridi said the cameras would monitor numerous areas throughout the Lebanese
capital in the first step towards a comprehensive security program.

But the minister stressed that the southern suburbs of Beirut would not
receive cameras until a much later stage. He said damaged neighborhoods
would first require reconstruction following the war with Israel, which
ended on Aug. 14. During the 34-day war, Israel targeted Hizbullah
headquarters and suspected weapons arsenals in southern Beirut.

Thousands of cameras would be installed throughout Beirut and linked to a
command and control center. They center would be manned by representatives
of the army and police to facilitate rapid response to emergencies.

Hizbullah ministers oppose the installation of the security cameras in
southern Beirut. They said the reconnaissance system, linked to a satellite,
could be subject to Israeli intrusion.

"Linking cameras to satellites could allow Israel to violate our security,"
said Energy Minister Mohammad Fneish, a Hizbullah member.

In the first stage, officials said, data from the sensors would be relayed
over telephone lines. Police stations throughout Beirut would be linked to
the system with a central C2 center established in the Helou police barracks
in Corniche Al Mazraa.

Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat said Lebanon would introduce other security
measures in the greater Beirut area. Fatfat said the campaign would include
army and police reinforcements.

"This will continue until mid-January," Fatfat said.

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Saudi rulers locked in power struggle over response to Iran threat

Geostrategy-Direct, www.geostrategy-direct.com, November 8, 2006
Saudi leaders cannot decide whether Iran is more of a threat than is Israel.

Saudi King Abdullah believes that Iran represents the greatest threat to the
Gulf Arab kingdom and must be fought at any cost. The king regards Iran as
intent on taking over the Sunni oil sheikdoms in the region, with Saudi
Arabia being the biggest prize.

Abdullah sees Iran's leadership as intent on forming a Shi'ite arc that
would dominate the Middle East and destroy the Sunni world. Already, Iran
has in his view effectively taken over Iraq, Lebanon and Syria while making
serious inroads in such countries as Bahrain, Jordan and the Palestinian
Authority.

As a result, Abdullah wants to form an alliance with Israel and Jordan to
prevent a Shi'ite takeover. The king's idea is for the three countries to
cooperate against Iran both on its home court as well as in Iraq, Lebanon
and Syria. The United States could be counted upon to support such an
alliance.

The king's half-brother, Crown Prince Sultan, opposes this strategy. Sultan
has not ignored the Iranian threat, but he believes that Riyad must keep
away from Israel at any cost and prepare other options against Iran. The
crown prince is unclear about what those alternatives are.

At the bottom of the dispute rests a naked power struggle between the two
elderly royals. Abdullah has appointed a commission to decide on succession
and whether Saudi monarchs are fit to rule. This has frightened the ailing
Sultan, who badly wants to succeed Abdullah and eventually transfer power to
his eldest son.

The United States leans toward Sultan. The U.S. intelligence community has
assessed that the crown prince, who is also defense minister, would take
greater account of American interests than any other successor.

But a British Defense Ministry report provides a glimmer of insight into
Sultan's character. In a cable written in the late 1980s from then-British
Ambassador William Morris, Sultan was described as corrupt, "not highly
intelligent, inflexible and imperious, and drives a hard bargain."

King disturbed by reports of orgies in Wahabi Saudi Arabia

As a modest and pious man, Abdullah has good reason for seeking major
reforms in Saudi Arabia. The king has been hearing steady reports of a sharp
decline in morals in the country.

An immediate danger is the breakdown of the Saudi family. Young Saudis are
often forced into marriage by their elders. But once behind closed doors,
there is no pretense of any commitment.

In Jeddah, the Mawadda Social and Family Reconciliation and Counseling
Center has been processing requests for help from thousands of married
couples on the verge of breaking up. The threat is not divorce, heavily
frowned upon in the kingdom, but of the husband establishing a second home
with a concubine or prostitute.

"Our youths are not, unfortunately, educated on the importance of leading a
secure married life," said Hassan Al Shelabi, the center director. "While
the parents are keen to give their children luxury homes, rich food and
fashionable clothing they neglect to prepare the children for a healthy
married life and being good husbands or wives."

Al Shelabi said his center has received reports of wife swapping, of
husbands pressuring wives to sleep with their friends and of orgies. He said
these requests reflect the influence of Western culture, easily accessible
on satellite television or the Internet.

Not surprisingly, the disdain that young Saudi men have for marriage has led
to a huge increase in single Saudi women. The Saudi men would rather use
their spare time to play house with Western women in Europe or the United
States rather than raise a family back home.

Abdullah regards this phenomenon as part of the corruption of Saudi life
fueled by easy oil money that has wrecked traditional values of honesty and
work.

With the price of oil steadily moving to $100 a barrel, the life for Saudi
youngsters is expected to only get easier.

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In First, Hamas Calls For Strikes On U.S. Targets

GAZA CITY [MENL] -- For the first time, Hamas has called on its Muslim allies to attack U.S. targets around the world.

The Hamas call came amid an Israeli artillery attack that killed at least 19 people in the northern Gaza Strip. Most of the casualties in the strike on Beit Hanoun were said to be civilians, with at least four members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade of the Fatah movement.

"America is offering political, financial and logistic cover for the Zionist occupation crimes, and it is responsible for the Beit Hanoun massacre," Hamas said in a statement on Wednesday after the Israeli strike. "Therefore, the people and the nation all over the globe are required to teach the American enemy tough lessons."

It was the first time Hamas called for Muslim strikes on the United States. Over the last few months, Hamas figures warned the United States that its interests in the Middle East would be endangered by support for Israel.

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AL QAIDA SEEKS TO SMUGGLE ATGMs IN SAUDI
 

ABU DHABI [MENL] -- Al Qaida was said to have been smuggling anti-tank missiles in Saudi Arabia.

Officials said the Interior Ministry determined that Al Qaida smuggling operations have increased from Iraq and Yemen. They said Al Qaida has sought to introduce anti-tank guided missiles and rocket-propelled grenades into the Arab kingdom.

Since August 2006, security forces directed by the ministry captured four anti-tank missiles and RPGs. Officials said Saudi authorities also seized large quantities of ammunitions and explosives.

A Nov. 6 report by the ministry's Border Guards' Directorate General asserted that 46 hand grenades, 900 dynamite sticks, 900 detonation wires, four anti-tank rockets and an RPG projectile were seized during the third quarter of 2006. The report also cited a detonator, high explosives, 199 weapons, 134,772 bullets of various calibers and 11 ammunition belts.


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Israel must prepare to thwart Iran’s drive for a nuclear capability “at all costs”, says Israel’s Dep. Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh

November 10, 2006, 3:25 PM (GMT+02:00)

In a Jerusalem Post interview ahead of prime minister Ehud Olmert’s White House talks next week, Sneh said he is not advocating a pre-emptive Israeli operation, but considers it a last resort. “Even a last resort is sometimes the only resort.”

Taking a different line, Olmert said Thursday night that Iran posed a serious threat that should be addressed with a cool head. “The big countries have to lead and we have to push them,” he said. But Sneh said the chances of the international community instituting effective sanctions against Iran was not high. “My working assumption is that they won't succeed."

The newly-appointed second in command at the Israeli defense ministry stressed that his priority was "preparing the IDF for victory in the next round with Iran and its proxies."

High on the list was the need to improve the country's defense systems. "We developed and produced the Arrow, the only system that can intercept nuclear missiles. Depending on the altitude when intercepted, the warheads do not detonate. But Israel needs to substantially improve its indigenous long-range capacities."

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Advance batch of 125 Indonesian troops lands in Beirut, the first Asian contingent to join the UN Lebanon peacekeeping force

November 10, 2006, 2:18 PM (GMT+02:00)

Among the group flown in from Istanbul by two US Air Force planes was 1st Lt. Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, son of the Indonesian president, who volunteered for the mission. It will be joined by another 800 men. Their leader said they will help the UNIFIL force fulfill the mandate of UN Security Council resolution 1701

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Wednesday November 8, 2006

Lebanon Faces Political Crisis in Aftermath of War: Tensions Escalate Between 'March 14 Forces' and Hizbullah, Pro-Syrian Camp
By: H. Avraham*

Introduction

In the aftermath of the July-August 2006 war, political tension between Hizbullah and the "March 14 Forces" [1] is increasing - to the point that street clashes may break out by November 13.

Once the war ended, Hizbullah, together with other pro-Syria elements in Lebanon such as General Michel Aoun, launched a scathing campaign against the current Lebanese government under Prime Minister Fuad Al-Siniora, and particularly against the majority in the Lebanese parliament, that is, the March 14 Forces.

On October 31, 2006, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah threatened to take to the streets and topple the Lebanese government. He stated that Hizbullah could instigate civil disobedience and bring about the fall of the government "by tomorrow morning." He issued an ultimatum, saying that Hizbullah's demand to establish a national unity government must be accepted by November 13, 2006. Hizbullah spokesman Hussein Rahallikewisesaid that the Al-Siniora government would fall within a few weeks, while General Aoun accused it of corruption and of conspiring against Lebanon.

The March 14 Forces, for their part, stepped up their accusations against Hizbullah, saying that the latter would use its weapons against elements within Lebanon, that it would try to spark civil war, that it was acting as a "state within a state," and that it was harming Lebanon's sovereignty and following orders from Syria and Iran.

It should be noted that even during the war, Sa'd Al-Hariri, who heads Al-Mustaqbal, the largest faction in the Lebanese parliament, and who is the son of assassinated former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri, had declared, "There must be an accounting with Hizbullah." Maronite Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir criticized Hizbullah's continued possession of weapons. [2]

Hizbullah and the Pro-Syrian Camp Threaten to Topple the Lebanese Government

On October 31, 2006, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah threatened that if the March 14 Forces rejected the demand by Hizbullah and its political allies for a national unity government, these political forces would take to the streets and bring about the fall of the government. These threats by Nasrallah are the culmination of an ongoing campaign against the March 14 Forces and Al-Siniora's government that began at the end of the recent war. Throughout this period, senior Hizbullah officials and members of Lebanon's pro-Syrian camp have threatened to topple the government, and have accused the March 14 Forces of treason and of being enemies of the [Islamic] nation, of Arabism, and of Islam.

The following are some of the statements:

*A Call to Topple the Al-Siniora Government

In an October 31, 2006 interview with Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah issued an ultimatum, saying that the March 14 Forces must agree to the establishment of a national unity government by November 13, 2006: "We think that the natural solution for this problem is a national unity government. In suggesting a national unity government, we are not trying to settle scores with anyone... We are now calling for unity and accord, not for score-settling and vengefulness... We are suggesting a national unity government in a positive spirit. The other group [i.e. the March 14 Forces] has two options: The first is to sacrifice Lebanon and to involve it in the regional tensions just so they can [continue to] rule on their own. The second option is to seize this golden opportunity for we Lebanese to cooperate and save our country...

"In the consultation, [3] we may agree on a national unity government with a new composition, a new prime minister, and new policy guidelines. In that case, the present government will resign and will be replaced by a national unity government, which will receive a vote of confidence from the parliament and will run the country. Alternatively, the present government can stay, but in an adjusted and expanded [format], in which case there will be no need for new policy guidelines... or for a vote of confidence... We hope that such a consultation will indeed be held... We regard it as a golden opportunity that must not be missed...

"If the consultation does not lead to [the establishment of] a national unity government, the political forces will have no choice but to take to the streets, and they will do so. In that case, the goal will no longer be [the establishment of] a national unity government, but rather early parliamentary elections. If the forces currently in power [i.e. the March 14 Forces] do not agree to [hold] early elections, we will work to topple the government and establish an interim government, and then we will call for early parliamentary elections..."

"Our ultimatum expires on Monday, [November 13, 2006,] one week after the consultation begins [on November 6]. If 'the February 14 Forces' [4] decide to boycott or sabotage the consultation, we will [no longer] hold back. We will hold a quick consultation and determine the time, the place, and the necessary strategies for popular [action]." [5]

Nasrallah also declared: "We can go to the streets tomorrow morning [and demonstrate] in front of the Prime Minister's residence and the parliament. We can instigate civil disobedience, topple the government, and [bring about] early elections. But we are not [threatening to do] this, so don't [try to] scare us with [talk of] civil strife [between Sunnis and Shi'ites] or civil war, since neither of these is a possibility." [6]

Earlier, in his speech at the August 22, 2006 "Divine Victory" rally organized by Hizbullah, Nasrallah said: "...The group ruling today in Lebanon cannot continue [to maintain] the regime and to act in light of these challenges. The natural solution is to put together a national unity government... In all honesty, the current government is incapable of defending Lebanon, of rehabilitating Lebanon, or of uniting Lebanon..." [7]

General Michel Aoun, who heads the Change and Reform faction in the Lebanese parliament and who is also a leader of the opposition to the Al-Siniora government, also called for establishing a national unity government. [8] In February 2006, Aoun, who had been a prominent opponent of Syria's presence in Lebanon, signed a document of understandings with Hizbullah, and since then has been the organization's political ally. [9]

As soon as the war was over, Aoun joined the attack on the Al-Siniora government, calling for a change in government in Lebanon. At a press conference that he had called, Aoun attacked the government and called it "a corrupt, unstable, and indecisive government, and during the war it was hesitant and conspired with the international resolution [against Lebanon]." According to Aoun, "the scorn and the hostile tone [of the March 14 Forces] regarding the disarmament [of Hizbullah] have made it clear that they had prepared a different solution - and that was the solution of the war... With national unity, we put an end to the Lebanon that was crumbling into ethnic groups. This was when it was expected that we would be against Hizbullah, and that each ethnic group would stand against the other, as if Hizbullah were not Lebanese... They must not blame Hizbullah [for the war]..." [10]

In an interview with Al-Arabiyya TV, Aoun accused the March 14 Forces of acting "as if the state were its own personal property and as if Hizbullah were a private company." He added: "All these things require us to change the government." [11]

Hizbullah spokesman Hussein Rahal told the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "Hizbullah has many options for dealing with the March 14 [Forces'] refusal to meet the demand to establish a national unity government." He clarified that he was referring to options that were "political, judicial, and popular, by peaceful means defined in the constitution," and said that the government would not last much longer and that its fall "will be a matter of weeks." Rahal stressed that Hizbullah would not back down from its demand for "a national unity government that would defend the state from custodianship and rehabilitate [the state]." [12]

*"We Will Take to the Streets"; "We Will Topple the Government by Popular Revolution"

Lebanese figures belonging to the pro-Syrian camp threatened that if the March 14 Forces did not agree to accept the proposal of a national unity government, they would take to the streets to topple the Al-Siniora government. Nasser Qandil, former Lebanese MP close to the Syrian regime, said: "If the option of a national unity government is lost, then what awaits us is a popular revolution that will leave no trace."

Former Lebanese MP belonging to the pro-Syrian camp Zaher Al-Khatib announced, "There is a willingness [to establish] popular activities in the streets to topple the government." [13] He said: "We will meet you in the street to topple the government." [14]

Lebanese Energy and Water Minister Muhammad Fanesh, who is from the Hizbullah faction, said: "Hizbullah's decision to leave the government is dependent on the position of the other group [the March 14 Forces] regarding the demand [to establish] a national unity government. The one who does not meet this demand is the one who will drag the state into an atmosphere of tension." [15]

*March 14 Forces are Traitors and Enemies of the [Islamic] nation, Arabism and Islam

Statements by senior Hizbullah officials and articles in Lebanon's pro-Syria papers accused the March 14 Forces of treason and of being enemies of the [Islamic] nation, of Arabism, and of Islam.

As soon as the war ended, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah launched an unprecedented verbal attack on the March 14 Forces, accusing them of stabbing Hizbullah in the back during the war: "...From the first day of the war, July 12, [2006,] a large part of the March 14 Forces and their media acted as if there were no war against Lebanon, and as if the situation were not dire... From the first day of the war - when the [Israeli] planes were bombing us and 40,000 Israeli soldiers were trying to invade the South [of Lebanon] and when [against them] the best of Lebanon's young men performed a miracle and created a legend - there were, in the internal arena, those who brandished political, media, and psychological knives, and every possible thing that would stab you in the back.

"We were silent in light of all this, and we did not respond throughout the war - not even a single word... Had we wanted to give our people and our popular bases an opportunity to express their opinion, their rage, and their anger at what they were hearing in some of the media belonging to the March 14 Forces and from some people [belonging] to these forces, there would have been civil war in Lebanon... At a time when we were fighting the enemy of the Arabs and the Muslims and the enemy of all the Lebanese... we were patient regarding many stabs and injuries [coming from] the internal arena and appearing openly..." [16]

Lebanese MP for Hizbullah 'Ali 'Amar accused the March 14 Forces of being accomplices to the shedding of Lebanese blood during the war: "The time has come for us to talk, now that the [true] face [of the March 14] Forces has been exposed. Did you know that during the aggression [i.e. the war]... they identified with it, and agreed with it, in all its details, from small to large, from the beginning of the aggression to its end? Some of them even expected, in the first days of the aggression, [that Israel] would put an end to Hizbullah - to which there will [never] be an end unless there is an end to the New Testament and to the Koran...

"People [of Lebanon], the time has come for you to know the accomplice in the blood[shed], in your expulsion [from your homes], and in the abandonment of your politics, independence, and freedom. Isn't it enough for you [that they] stole the regime, and the money of the people and of the state, and that they have, for the past year and a half, been inciting against [Hizbullah] and planning to eliminate it via solidarity with the American and the Israeli?"

To the March 14 Forces, 'Amar said: "If you are betting that Resolution No. 1701 will be interpreted as you want it to be, adding to it tasks that it does not set out... and taking it out of its context in order to harm the weapons of the resistance [Hizbullah], then I swear... that the weapons of the resistance will remain, remain, remain. If you want to negotiate with someone about these weapons, in the language of dialogue or in the language of resistance, I will tell you with whom you will negotiate. You can negotiate only with the shoes [of those killed] at Qana."

Amar demanded a national unity government that would include elements supporting Hizbullah, and added: "This government, that has overstepped in its trespassing, must go, because [we do not trust it enough] to place the fate of the homeland in its hands." [17]

The Lebanese pro-Syrian daily Al-Akhbar, whose editor, Ibrahim Al-Amin, is close to Hizbullah, published an article by Muhammad Tay, lecturer in constitutional law at the Lebanese University. In the article, Tay called the March 14 Forces "enemies of the [Islamic] nation and of the region": "A group in Lebanon is demanding that we relinquish the main foundations of [our] steadfastness in the face of the enemy... There is no realistic reason for the demand to surrender, except for [their] fear of victory, not of defeat... In their attempt to obstruct the path of [those] who brought victory [i.e. Hizbullah], they are setting themselves in the rank of the enemies. They are the enemies of the [Islamic] nation and of the region, and they are the enemies of the individual, of the history, and of the geography of the region..." [18]

Charles Ayyoub, editor of the Lebanese pro-Syrian daily Al-Diyar , published a scathing article in which he responded to Sa'd Al-Hariri's September 26 accusations that Hizbullah and the pro-Syrian camp aimed to topple the Lebanese government, thus putting Syrian President Al-Assad's words into action. In his article, Ayyoub wrote: [19] "...The clear words of Sa'd Al-Hariri attest that the Al-Mustaqbal faction has left the fold of Arabism and of Islam, and has decided to go to the bosom of Zionism. Sa'd Al-Hariri has no longer any connection to Arabism, to Islam, and to the struggle against the Israeli aggression. Sa'd Al-Hariri is preparing Beirut for [Israeli PM Ehud] Olmert to come to it, after Sharon [entered it]... Moreover, Sa'd Al-Hariri has decided to fall into the arms of Zionism, and to submit to the world Zionist resolution, whose aim is to place Lebanon under the aegis of Israel...

"It is impossible for the current government to continue, and it is inconceivable for anyone to remain in this Zionist government that Sa'd Al-Hariri is leading to the bosom of Zionism. [This] government must not continue for even one more day. In the very near future, anyone who remains in this government will be an accomplice of Zionism... It is essential for everyone to think about the necessity of changing the government, or of not remaining in it. The Lebanese government has become a totally Olmert government..." [20]

March 14 Forces Speak Out Against Hizbullah's Weapons

As soon as the war ended, the leaders of the March 14 Forces stepped up their criticism of Hizbullah. The harshest statements came from Sa'd Al-Hariri and the Al-Mustaqbal faction; from Lebanese MP and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who heads the National Democratic Gathering; from the chairman of the executive branch of the Christian party Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea; and from the Council of Maronite Bishops in Lebanon. In articles in the Lebanese papers, the March 14 Forces expressed fear that the situation would worsen, to the point of civil war.

The following are some of the statements:

*Hizbullah is Planning a Political Coup and the Establishment of an Islamic Republic

The March 14 Forces claimed that Hizbullah is planning to overthrow the government by threatening to use its weapons. They also said that Hizbullah's first aim is to establish an Islamic republic in Lebanon, like that of Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini in Iran.

An editorial in the paper of the Al-Mustaqbal faction, Al-Mustaqbal, stated: "Up until now, Hizbullah has said that its weapons were not aimed at the internal arena, and that it could not possibly aim them at the internal arena... It is true that Hizbullah has not used its weapons in the internal arena so far - but it is [also] true that it has had no need to do so. This is because an armed element known by all to be armed doesn't usually [need to] use its weapons, because the people fear it...

"[But] there is no doubt that these weapons have always been contradictory to democratic activity, in both the Shi'ite [context] and in the overall Lebanese [context]... Therefore, there is a Lebanese fear that, by the name 'national unity government,' [Hizbullah actually means] a scheme for a political coup in the internal arena... The change in government [proposed by Hizbullah] is aimed at preventing discussion [on its weapons].

"It is feared that [Hizbullah] will threaten [to use] these weapons, or that the people [in Lebanon] will [always] remember that these weapons exist, [and will fear them] even if they are not used in revolutionary activity... Hizbullah [and General Michel] Aoun must remember that the Taif Agreement states that there are to be no weapons except [those] of the state... Things need to be told like they really are!" [21]

Lebanese MP Mustafa 'Aloush, from the Al-Mustaqbal faction, said that Hizbullah's first aspiration was to establish an Islamic republic in Lebanon, and that it held arbitrary control over the fate of the country: "It appears that [Hizbullah's] regional alliance with Iran, and the matter of the international court that is pressuring Syria, has led Hizbullah... to arbitrary control of the fate of Lebanon." 'Aloush added: "Hizbullah is a militia with political goals, and first among these goals is the establishment of an Islamic republic in Lebanon, according to the path of the Imam Khomeini." [22]

*Hizbullah is Acting Under the Aegis of Syria and Iran

On different occasions, the leaders of the March 14 Forces claimed that Hizbullah's policy in Lebanon was actually the execution of orders emanating from Syria and Iran, and that Hizbullah was acting to serve these countries' interests. In a September 26, 2006 speech at an iftar, the nightly breaking of the Ramadan fast, Sa'd Al-Hariri attacked Hizbullah and claimed that its demand for a national unity government was putting into practice the words of an August 15, 2006 speech by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad attacking Arab leaders and the March 14 Forces.

Al-Hariri said: "Unfortunately, some of what we have heard recently [from Hizbullah] is, in the eyes of many Lebanese, a local, and unacceptable, translation of Bashar Al-Assad's speech... These [statements by Hizbullah] are grave, not only because they are imported from Damascus, but because they are absolutely contradictory to the [meaning] of national unity and of Lebanon's interest." Later in his speech, Al-Hariri said: "[The issue of Hizbullah's] weapons has already been raised at the discussion table, and it must remain there..." [23]

In an interview, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who led those demanding that Hizbullah be disarmed, told the Orbit satellite TV channel: "Hizbullah is a Lebanese organization, but its funding and arms are Syrian-Iranian. Therefore, how can Hizbullah integrate into the state?! It obeys the one who gives it funds and arms... In the South now [there is a situation of] a state [Lebanon], and within it there exists a state [Hizbullah] that is not integrated into it... I ask, how long will my state continue to be [dependent] on an axis of external [elements]?..."

Jumblatt condemned the Syrians: "...It is no accident that the moment the Israeli cannon fell silent and Resolution 1701 was passed, the intensive attack on the [Lebanese] government and its leader Al-Siniora commenced... and the Syrian debate [on the Lebanese government also] suddenly began - the aim of which is to throw out the [current] government. [If this is successful] this will lead to the current majority [in parliament], which consists of Al-Siniora, Al-Hariri, and the March 14 [Forces], losing control of the government. Then, elements loyal to the Syrian regime will return [to the government], with the aim of disrupting the [establishment] of the international court [that will try the defendants in the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafiq Al-Hariri]..." [24]

*Hizbullah is Sabotaging the Sovereignty of the LebaneseState

All the leaders of the March 14 Forces accused Hizbullah of sabotaging the sovereignty of Lebanon, of acting as a "state within a state" and of making decisions that should be made by the Lebanese state. Three weeks after the end of the war, on September 7, 2006, the March 14 Forces held a conference; in its summary statement, it said: "The first condition [for the establishment of] a state... and for its ability to carry out its national missions, is that it will have exclusive control of national security, and that it [and it alone], with no guardian or partner, will be responsible for standing against anyone violating its sovereignty, whether by occupying the land, by attacking borders, or by interfering in Lebanon's internal affairs. It is the sovereign state, and none other, that is responsible for defending its citizens... It is the sovereign state that, via its legal institutions, will be responsible for setting out the policy of the state, and it will not consent to interference by external [elements] in its internal affairs or to a limitation of its authority [by elements] in the internal arena..."

In the statement, the March 14 Forces also called for "implementing the international resolutions concerning Lebanon's situation, particularly [U.N. Security Council] Resolution 1701 that states what will be done about Hizbullah's weapons. Likewise, [we call for implementing] the resolutions that preceded this one - those concerning the state's control over all its lands by deploying its legitimate forces, and those concerning the investigation of the assassinations, assassination attempts, and bombings [in Lebanon]..." It also called "to put an end to the duplication of weapons [in Lebanon] and to stress that the Lebanese army and its authorized security institutions were the sole defenders of Lebanon..." [25]

At a conference of the Lebanese Forces party, Samir Geagea, chairman of the party's executive body, gave a lengthy speech harshly critical of Hizbullah, which, he said, was, by its actions, preventing a strong and sovereign Lebanese state from existing: "There were those [i.e. Hizbullah Secretary-General Nasrallah in his September 22, 2006 speech at the "Divine Victory" rally organized by Hizbullah] who called for the building of a strong, egalitarian, capable, independent, and pure state - while their deeds and actions interfered with the existence of the state. How can a state exist when there is a small state within it [i.e. Hizbullah]? How can a strong state exist when every day weapons and ammunition are smuggled into it, despite its objections? How can a state be treated with respect when a group [within it] forces a strategy and agenda upon it, and decides its goals, priorities, and modus operandi for it, without the state having a right to discuss [them]? Then they come and warn us that if these goals are not met, there will be [here] a helpless, cowardly, and failed state... This is not the logic of state-building - rather, it is the logic of interference with state-building...

"[Hizbullah] says... that when a [strong] state has been built, we will find a solution to the weapons. And we say to them: When we find a solution to the weapons, we will be able to establish a proper state. They say: Your [gamble] to put an end to the resistance by force is a failed one. And we say [to them]: [Your] gamble to possess weapons by force is a mistaken one... They say: No army will force us to give up our weapons. And we say [to them] that no weapons will force us to accept the [current] reality... Actually, it was our option and our plan that [eventually] triumphed, because from the beginning we were the ones who demanded that the Lebanese army, with the help of international forces, [would be deployed] in south [Lebanon], [while Hizbullah] opposed it. At the same time, we do not feel [that] victory [has been achieved] because the majority of the Lebanese people does not [feel that it has] - but rather feels that a great catastrophe has struck us, and that our present and our future are a feather blown about in the wind..."

With respect to the demand, by Hizbullah and its political allies, to establish a national unity government, Geagea said: "Those who want a national unity government must agree first and foremost to the existence of a single government, not [several] governments. Those who want a national unity government cannot boast of their friendship with Syria, because Syria is not interested in Lebanon having either a government or national unity. Those who want a national unity government must not violate national unity on a daily basis by unilateral actions..." [26]

*Hizbullah's Weapons - A Threat; They Must Be Disarmed

Most of the March 14 Forces leaders expressed fears that Hizbullah would use its weapons against elements within Lebanon. A member of the National Democratic Gathering, Antoine Andres, said in response to accusations by Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah that the March 14 Forces had stabbed Hizbullah in the back: "...Nasrallah cannot expropriate the decision from the Lebanese majority just because he represents the majority of the Shiite community..." He continued, "We see [Nasrallah's] speech as incitement, accusations of treason [against us], and a call to sectarian war. The question is, what will come next? Will [Hizbullah's] weapons be aimed at the internal arena...?" [27]

A communiqué released by the March 14 Forces about three weeks after the end of the war said: "The war proved the correctness of the March 14 Forces' position that weapons not [under the oversight of] the Lebanese state are not a deterrent force against the Israeli aggression, and will thus not prevent Israel from carrying out its aggression against Lebanon. The 'balance of terror' theory used [by Hizbullah] as a pretext for continuing to possess its weapons has [thus] collapsed. These weapons did not constitute a defense of the lives, cities, and property of the citizens..." [28]

The annual communiqué of the Council of Maronite Bishops also blamed Hizbullah for the recent Hizbullah-Israel war: "In Lebanon, there are 18 ethnic communities, and each has rights and obligations identical to those of the others, as set out in the Lebanese constitution... But in practice, we see that some groups are taking decision-making into their own hands, thus bringing the state to a situation it does not want. Here lies the great catastrophe...

"Examples of this are many, and they have recurred at least four times in the past 50 years... Recently, one Lebanese group [i.e. Hizbullah] continued to possess weapons after most of southern [Lebanon] was liberated in 2000 - in contradiction to the articles of the Taif Agreement that was signed in 1989. [This group] became a religious, military, and political organization, [and as a result] the war broke out on July 12, 2006...

"In all these instances, [and as a result] of the grave events that stemmed from them... the homeland paid the price of the community or group of Lebanese that took decision-making into its own hands - whether [that price was] in the security, prosperity, or tranquility of the people..." [29]

*H. Avraham is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.


[1] The "March 14 Forces" is the nickname for the political union of several parties and factions in Lebanon that is led by Al-Mustaqbal faction leader Sa'd Al-Hariri, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, and Samir Geagea, chairman of the executive branch of the Lebanese Forces. They got this nickname following a March 14, 2005 rally marking 30 days since the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri; during the rally there were calls for Lebanese independence and freedom, severe criticism of the Syrian presence in Lebanon, and even calls for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

[2] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1206, "Iran and the Recent Escalation on Israel's Borders (3): Reactions in Iran, Lebanon, and Syria," July 14, 2006, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP120606 ; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1208, "Iran and the Recent Escalation on Israel's Borders (5): Reactions in Iran, Lebanon, and Syria," July 18, 2006, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP120806 .

[3] In light of the mounting tension in Lebanon between Hizbullah and the March 14 Forces, and following threats by Hizbullah and by the pro-Syrian camp to take to the streets and topple the government, Parliament Speaker Nabih Beri called, on October 25, for a consultation conference involving all parties and political forces in Lebanon, at which two issues would be discussed: the establishment of a national unity government as demanded by Hizbullah and its political allies, and the passing of a new parliamentary elections law. Beri initially suggested that a two-week conference would take place between October 30, 2006 and November 13, 2006, but later announced that the conference would start one week later, on November 6, 2006, in order to allow several March 14 members to return from abroad. Hizbullah responded that since March 14 had wasted a week of consultation, the conference would be only one week long."

[4] "February 14" is a derogatory name applied by Hizbullah to the March 14 Forces.

[5] Islamic Resistance in Lebanon website, October 31, 2006.

http://www.moqawama.org/_dailynews.php?filename=20061101092455.

[6] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), November 1, 2006.

[7] Al-Intiqad (Lebanon), September 22, 2006.

[8] According to General Michel Aoun, the current parliament was elected according to the Elections Law dating from the time of the Syrian presence in Lebanon. For this reason, he says, the current parliament and government do not represent the majority of the Lebanese people - particularly not the majority of Christians - and thus he is demanding new parliamentary elections based on a new election law.

[9] On September 6, 2006, General Aoun's party and Hizbullah signed a joint document of understandings; the document included 10 sections stressing, inter alia, undertaking comprehensive administrative reform in Lebanon, fighting corruption, clarifying the fate of Lebanese who disappeared during the Lebanese civil war, condemning the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri and other murders, carrying out reforms in the Lebanese security apparatuses, improving Lebanese-Syrian relations, and so on. The importance of this document lay in the fact that Aoun, who was in the past an extremely prominent opponent of Syria's presence in Lebanon and also one of those demanding that Hizbullah be disarmed, has now become Hizbullah's political ally. In the document of understandings that he signed with Hizbullah, it is very clear that each side made significant concessions. For example, Hizbullah, which had called South Lebanon army personnel "traitors," agreed that the document of understandings would include a section calling for Lebanese living in Israel to return to Lebanon. Aoun, on his part, agreed that it would include a section stating that the defense of Lebanon is a "national duty" and that "possessing weapons is not an aim but the sacred and dignified means of any group whose land is occupied." The section justifies the continued possession of weapons by Hizbullah "as long as Israel is occupying the Shab'a Farms, as long as there are Lebanese prisoners in Israeli prisons, and as long as Israel threatens Lebanon..."

[10] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), September 7, 2006.

[11] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), September 17, 2006.

[12] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 6, 2006.

[13] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), October 23, 2006.

[14] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), October 23, 2006.

[15] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), October 22, 2006.

[16] Al-Intiqad (Lebanon), September 13, 2006.

[17] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), September 12, 2006.

[18] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), September 25, 2006.

[19] In his August 15, 2006 address, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad attacked the March 14 Forces and said that their regime would soon fall. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1256, "Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad Praises the Resistance, Harshly Criticizes Arab Leaders, and Threatens Israel," August 22, 2006, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP125606 .

[20] Al-Diyar (Lebanon), September 27, 2006.

[21] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), September 1, 2006.

[22] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), September 17, 2006. The Jordanian-American reformist Dr. Shaker Al-Nabulsi also warned, in two articles published in August 2006, of Hizbullah's intent to establish an Islamic republic in Lebanon like the Shiite Islamic Republic in Iran. In an August 17 article he wrote: "The fear is not of the victory of Hizbullah as a resistance [movement] against Israel, but of Hizbullah's ideological victory in the Arab world... The risk to freedom and democracy lies in an ideological Hizbullah victory, not a military victory.... Hizbullah armed itself well, with its allies' help, becoming the largest popular military force in the region - and [preparing for] the actualization of the next step, which was the establishment of the wilayat al-faqih in Lebanon and outside it, after the model of the Iranian regime of mullahs that exists today in Tehran..." (http://www.elaph.com/ElaphWeb/ElaphWriter/2006/8/170391.htm). In a second article, published August 24, 2006, Al-Nabulsi quoted from a book by Hizbullah Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Na'im Qasim to prove his claim that Hizbullah intended to establish an Islamic republic in Lebanon, and stated: "When Hizbullah declared war on Israel by abducting two soldiers without consulting the Lebanese government... there was a tempest in Lebanon... But this was a tempest of those who had not read the abovementioned book by Na'im Qasim, and did not know that the motive behind the decision to go to war was that Hassan Nasrallah is the jurisprudent [who rules] in Lebanon, and the decision to wage jihad is connected only to him..." (http://www.elaph.com/ElaphWeb/ElaphWriter/2006/8/171932.htm ).

[23] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), September 27, 2006.

[24] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), September 11, 2006.

[25] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), September 8, 2006.

[26] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), September 25, 2006.

[27] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), September 14, 2006.

[28] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), September 8, 2006.

[29] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), September 7, 2006.

Tuesday November 7, 2006

Syrian FM Walid Mualem threatens to start “countdown to war” with Israel failing progress on peace track

November 6, 2006, 11:39 PM (GMT+02:00)

DEBKAfile cites Mualem’s words at a joint news conference in Damascus with Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Steore Monday, Nov. 6, as an explicit threat of war to be launched against Israel at a time of Syria’s choosing.

The Syrian minister welcomed a debate going on in Israel about whether to resume negotiations with Damascus on the Golan Heights, which Syria lost to Israel in the Six-Day War. He went on to say: “We now have a window of opportunity of several months. If there is no progress, the countdown will begin for a new Syrian-Israeli war.”

On Nov. 3, DEBKA-Net-Weekly 276 revealed that on Oct. 30 British PM Tony Blair had sent his senior political adviser Nigel Sheinwald (picture) on a mission to Damascus, hoping to turn the coming British exit from Iraqi towns round as leverage for a comeback to the Arab world and make up for his failed Iraq policy. One of the items in the British official’s briefcase for his meeting with president Bashar Asad and Mualem was a secret message from Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert: an offer to start peace talks. It was posted through Blair. The Syrian president sent a return message to the British prime minister: Tell Olmert I’m ready to talk.

This move connected with a broader deal: Damascus would break away from its pact with Tehran in return for normal relations with the West. Israel-Syrian talks would kick off this process.

Both parties agreed that the Sheinwald mission and the business they discussed would be kept secret.

No sooner had the British emissary flown out of Damascus, when the Syrians leaked word of his visit together with the Syrian president’s rejection of Olmert’s offer to talk, barring a prior Israeli commitment to cede the Golan.

This was not what the Syrian president had told his British vistor. When Sheinwald arrived in London, he found out that Asad had been stringing him along before killing the Blair initiative stone cold.

All along the Syrian ruler had kept faith with Tehran. He had rolled out his usual line of peacespeak, which is routinely welcomed by European nations and others, to sugar-coat his scheme for a war against Israel with full Iranian military and intelligence backing.

Walid Mualem was more frank. “If Israel is thinking of launching a war next year this is not the way,” he said. He was evidently responding to the Haaretz report of Nov. 11 which quoted the IDF General Staff as expecting a Syrian-Hizballah war to be launched in the summer of 2007.

DEBKAfile’s military sources note that if this reflects their thinking, Israel’s army chiefs are over-optimistic. But many Israeli generals, including the new OC Northern Command, Maj-Gen.Gaby Eisenkott, judge from Syrian and Iranian military preparations that major hostilities could erupt a lot earlier and will try and catch Israel unready.

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Monday November 6, 2006

SPIEGEL ONLINE - November 2, 2006, 07:12 PM
URL: http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,446171,00.html

ISRAEL'S CRITICISM OF UNIFIL
"No One Will be Able to Stop Hezbollah"
By Pierre Heumann in Tel Aviv

Israel considers the German navy's peacekeeping mission off the coast of Lebanon to be futile. The Israeli military is unhappy with the principles of the UNIFIL mission -- it says they allow the arms shipments to Hezbollah to continue.

It was a rude awakening for the residents of Beirut. Low-flying Israeli jet planes flying pirouettes above the Lebanese capital. Eye witnesses report seeing eight planes, mostly above Shiite neighborhoods.

Flights above Lebanese territory have been routine for the Israeli air force for years. Israeli pilots jump into action as soon as their radar registers anything that can't immediately be accounted for. The point, explains Eitan Ben-Eliahu, former commander of the Israeli air force, is to gather information about Hezbollah's activities.

But are such flights really necessary now that the UN-mandated cease-fire is in effect? The truce, implemented in mid-August after a month of fighting in Lebanon between Hezbollah and Israel, is being only formally observed by Beirut, says Ben-Eliahu and that the Lebanese are allowing the Shiite militia to rearm. Terje Roed-Larsen, the United Nations special envoy to Lebanon, joins him in that assessment. The Lebanese, he says, have observed weapons being smuggled in from Syria until very recently.

How effective is the UNIFIL fleet?

So what of the German navy's mission in the eastern Mediterranean -- a mission with the explicit goal of preventing such arms smuggling? While in Israel the international UNIFIL fleet's operation has been welcomed, experts wonder about how effective it really is.

For one thing, says an Israeli diplomat, the operation off the coast of Lebanon lacks a clear mandate; he calls it a kind of hybrid between a pure observation operation and a military mission. He says the effectiveness of the counter-smuggling mission has been further reduced by the restrictions placed on the German navy's mobility.

"When a ship carrying weapons for Hezbollah leaves a Syrian port and heads south, its captain feels safe as long as he doesn't stray more than 11 kilometers from the coast," says Gad Shimron, an Israeli security expert who works for the daily Ma'ariv. The Syrian captain can head comfortably for Hezbollah positions in Lebanon, Shimron elaborates, as if he were shipping a cargo of tomatoes or olives, and the German navy isn't allowed to interfere with his journey.

Originally, the Germans had thought they would have freedom of movement off the coast of Lebanon as well as the right to board suspicious ships. But those rights were limited in the final draft of the mandate. The Germans must request the Lebanese to interfere with suspicious vessels, and they must register with Lebanese authorities if they plan to travel inside six kilometers of the coast.

Even without such restrictions, tracking arms shipments would be difficult; dozens of ships and boats travel along the Lebanese coast every day, without the UN troops being informed about their cargo. Shimron believes Hezbollah's strategists are already using the maritime security gap to stock up on weapons. "No one will be able to stop Hezbollah from doing so," he says.

Avi Primor, the former Israeli ambassador to Germany, is similarly skeptical about the German navy's peacekeeping mission. The German navy is "definitely" causing difficulties for the arms smugglers, he says -- but can it stop them? Primor answers the question diplomatically, with a dry "Well, maybe."

One Israeli officer is even more cynical of the mission. The greatest contribution the Germans have made so far was that of rescuing Syrian sailors at sea, he says.

The peacekeeping operation is politically controversial too. On the one hand, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is celebrating the deployment of the international peacekeeping force as a political victory. On the other, though, the force's presence means an internationalization of the conflict in Lebanon. Israel's violation of Lebanese air space, for example, has been criticized by France; the European Union has also called on Israel to respect Lebanon's borders.

"Tracking enemies and terrorists"

But Israel has become used to treating the air space above Lebanon as if it were its own territory, despite protests from the UN. "They can protest as much as they like. Our reconnaissance flights will continue," Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said on the radio recently. The low-altitude flights above Lebanese territory, he says, are for "tracking enemies and terrorists."

Lebanon, not surprisingly, sees things a bit differently. Israel's intention isn't that of gathering information, Beirut complains, but rather that of intimidating the population and making a show of force. Israel, after all, disposes of sophisticated espionage technology and has its own satellites in orbit, a commentary in the Beirut-based newspaper Daily Star points out.Buzzing Beirut makes little sense neither politically nor militarily.

But it has become routine. Indeed, the recent incident which say an Israeli F-16 fly low over a German ship off the coast of Lebanon was likewise hardly out of the ordinary. Indeed, the Israeli air force didn't even feel the need to report it. Defense Minister Amir Peretz only asked for information once the press got a hold of the story.

Now, of course, the Israeli air force is in possession of new orders designed to prevent such "routine incidents" from occurring again. The plan is for the air force to improve its coordination with the German navy. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has apologized to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the incidents -- obviously aware that the peacekeeping mission could become controversial in Germany. His call to Merkel was partially designed to ensure that her position didn't erode, government sources say.

But even if Israel doubts the political and military effectiveness of the UNIFIL, one side effect of the UN's increased presence in the region is hard to overlook: The intensified security controls along the border between Israel and Lebanon have caused major problems for what used to be a flourishing drug trade. Cannabis, illegal in Israel, is now eight times more expensive than it was before the war.

Pierre Heumann is the Middle East correspondent of the Swiss newspaper Weltwoche

 

 

Saturday November 4, 2006

Iran Test-Fires 3 New Missiles in Gulf

BY NASSER KARIMI - Associated Press
November 3, 2006
URL:
http://www.nysun.com/article/42902

 AP / Mehr News Agency, Sajjad Safari

Iran's Revolutionary Guards tests missiles during maneuvers in a central desert area of Iran. Dozens of missiles were test-fired, including the long-range Shahab-3, Iranian state-run television said Thursday.


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran has successfully test-fired three new models of sea missiles in a show of force to assert its military capacities in the Gulf, military officials said Friday.

Television showed footage of the elite Revolutionary Guards firing the missiles from warships and from mobile launching pads on the shore.

Iranian forces have previously test-fired missiles in the crowded Gulf waters, but the new maneuvers, which began on Thursday, appeared to be Iran's response to an American-led military exercise held earlier this week in the same zone.

"The maneuvers are not a threat to any neighboring country," said Gen. Ali Fazli, the spokesman for the Iranian war games.

Iran nonetheless insisted the new sea missiles enhanced its military muscle in the Gulf, where most of the world's oil is extracted.

The weapons are "suitable for covering all the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian gulf and the sea of Oman," said Adm. Sardar Fadavi, the deputy navy chief of the Revolutionary Guard.

Some 20 percent of the world's oil supply passes every day through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The three new types of missiles, named Noor, Kowsar, and Nasr, have a range of about 106 miles and were built for naval warfare, TV reported. Iranian sea missiles previously had a range of 75 miles, TV quoted Fadavi as saying.

The new tests demonstrate Iran's military capacities at sea, the admiral said.

State TV said the new missiles were Iranian-made and could be used in lant-to-sea or sea-to-sea warfare. It did not give more details about the weapons.

The Revolutionary Guards began the maneuvers, named "Great Prophet," on Thursday by firing dozens of long-range missiles in a desert area of central Iran.

Iran insisted the renewed saber-rattling was not intended at intimidating countries in the region. "We are in good interaction with our neighbors," said Mr. Fazli, the military spokesman.

On Thursday, however, Iran said it hoped the war games would send world powers a strong message. "We want to show our deterrent and defensive power to trans-regional enemies, and we hope they will understand the message," the head of the Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, said in a clear reference to America, Britain and France, who were among the six nations that took part in the Gulf maneuvers this week.

Iran called "adventurist" the American-led naval exercise that ended on Monday, criticizing Arab states that took part and saying Gulf nations would be safer if they organized their own security alliance _an implicit criticism of American military presence in the region.

The U.S. Fifth fleet is stationed in Bahrain, a tiny oil kingdom located across the Gulf from Iran.

Iran remains locked in dispute with the West over its nuclear program, which Washington says is geared to producing atomic weapons but Tehran says is only for generating electricity.

Asked about Thursday's maneuvers, Secretary Rice said she thought the Iranians "are trying to demonstrate that they are tough."

The Islamic Republic has already held three large-scale military exercises this year. In its April exercises, Iran tested what it called an "ultra-horizon" missile, which is fired from helicopters and jet fighters, and the Fajr-3 missile, which can reportedly evade radar and use multiple warheads to hit several targets simultaneously.

While American officials have suggested that Iran is exaggerating the capabilities of its newly developed weapons, Washington and its allies have been watching the country's progress in missile technology with concern.

The American-led maneuvers that finished Monday focused on surveillance, with warships tracking a vessel suspected of carrying nuclear components or illegal weapons. The nations that took part were Australia, Bahrain, Britain, France, Italy and America.

The U.N. Security Council is considering imposing sanctions on Iran, which has ignored demands that it cease uranium enrichment, a process that can produce the fuel for nuclear reactors or material for atomic bombs.

Russia, a veto yielding power at the Security Council, said it opposed the U.N. sanctions in their current form.

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Iran Test-Fires Missiles Capable of Reaching Israel and American Bases

BY TIM BUTCHER - The Daily Telegraph
November 3, 2006
URL:
http://www.nysun.com/article/42895


JERUSALEM — Iran flexed its military muscle yesterday by test-firing missiles capable of hitting Israel and local American bases in maneuvers that the hard-line regime codenamed "Great Prophet."

In what was taken as a clear warning to America, the commander-in-chief of the elite Revolutionary Guards said the tests were intended to display his country's military strength.

"We want to show our deterrent and defensive power to transregional enemies, and we hope they will understand the message of the maneuvers," the head of the Revolutionary Guards, General Yahya Rahim Safavi, said.

Iranian state television reported the missiles, including the long-range Shahab-3, were fired from mobile launching pads in the country's central desert region at the opening of 10 days of military operations.

The exercise came just 48 hours after a U.S. Navy-led flotilla in the Gulf exercised close to Iranian territorial waters, practicing drills for intercepting ships carrying missiles components and weapons of mass destruction.

Shahab-3 missiles are believed to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and are believed to have a range of more than 1,200 miles, meaning Israel and American military bases in the Middle East are within range.

Among the other weapons tested was the Shahab-2, which has a cluster warhead that can send 1,400 bomblets at the same time, solid-fuel Zalzal missiles, and guided missiles such as Scud-B, Zolfaghar-73, and Z-3, Iranian television said. Footage showed six missiles being fired from mobile launchers and leaving long vapor trails above the desert near the holy city of Qom. As they rose, General Safavi and other guardsman shouted: "God is the Greatest."

General Safavi said the 10 days of military exercises would comprise drills by ground, air, and naval forces, including submarines, mainly in the Gulf and Sea of Oman.

Meanwhile, the Iranian-aligned Hezbollah group in Lebanon yesterday rejected White House claims that it and Syria were seeking to topple Beirut's pro-Western government of Prime Minister Siniora as "a blatant interference ... concerning the Lebanese people's choices over their government and policies."

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Friday November 3, 2006

ASSAD TARGETS THE HOUSE OF SAUD
Excerpted from: Eurasia Security Watch No. 138,

November 2, 2006
American Foreign Policy Council, Washington, DC

The already-chilly relations between Saudi Arabia and Syria are about to get even frostier. According to a new expose in a leading Gulf paper, the government of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus is gearing up to unleash a wave of attacks against leading Saudi figures. Syria's intelligence service, the report says, is recruiting Saudi, Algerian and Moroccan extremists who live in Syria and Jordan to target key members of the House of Saud, including Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the Kingdom's former Ambassador to Washington and current head of the Saudi National Security Council. The Syrian campaign appears to be motivated by revenge; observers say officials in Damascus blame recent acts of violence in the Ba'athist state on Saudi and Saudi-influenced extremists. (Kuwait Al Seyassah, Newspapaer)

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Thursday November 2, 2006

Iran announces test-firing of ballistic Shehab-3 missiles in first hours of new military maneuvers

November 2, 2006, 11:02 AM (GMT+02:00)

Several kinds of short-range missiles were also launched in central desert area of Iran early Thursday, Nov. 2.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report: Iran responded Wednesday night, Nov. 1, to the US-led naval movements and buildup in the in the Red Sea (see separate item) with an announcement by its Revolutionary Guard commander General Rahim Safavi of a big, new naval exercise opening on Nov. 2. Dubbed Great Prophet, the 10-day maneuver will take place in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. The RC Air Force would, he said, for the first time test-fire the Shehab-3 (picture of first firing) armed with “a cluster warhead.”

The Shehab-3 is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and believed to have arrange of more than 2,000 km. It can reach Israel and US forces in the Middle East.

Our military experts add: This war game will demonstrate whether or not the Shehab-3 stands up to Iran’s boasts of its capabilities, including its effective deployment in large numbers. If so, it will pose a lethal strategic threat to Israel, US deployments in the Middle East and Iran’s neighbors. Israel’s Arrow anti-missile missile system, developed for defense against the Shehab, is not capable of fending off an attack by large numbers of multiple-warhead missiles.

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US aircraft carriers USS Eisenhower and USS Enterprise in the Red Sea off the Saudi Arabian coast

November 1, 2006, 8:29 AM (GMT+02:00)

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower, and its accompanying carrier strike group, passed through the Suez Canal on Monday, Oct. 30, and arrived in the Red Sea on Tuesday, Oct. 31.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the USS Eisenhower is at sea off the Saudi Arabian coast, together with another aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise. The presence of the two US aircraft carriers, and their accompanying strike groups, in a body of water as small as the Red Sea is an extraordinary development.

So far there have been no indications that the USS Eisenhower arrived to replace the USS Enterprise.

US Intelligence director John Negroponte also is in the region. He was in Saudi Arabia over the weekend and in Cairo on Tuesday, and is due to arrive in Israel on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

With the arrival of the USS Eisenhower in the region, there are now three US aircraft carriers in the Persion Gulf and surrounding waters, including the USS Iwo Jima. Accompanying the USS Eisenhower are the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio, the guided-missile destroyers USS Rampage and USS Mason and the nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine USS Newport.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that a fourth US aircraft carrier, the USS Boxer, will arrive on the scene by the beginning of next week, together with its carrier strike group. The USS Boxer is currently taking part in joint US-Indian naval maneuvers, dubbed Malabar ’06, which include the landing of marines on beaches


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The Russian-made antitank missile Metis-M9 is returning to the battle field – this time to the Gaza Strip

November 1, 2006, 2:23 PM (GMT+02:00)

Exclusive to DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources: Early Wednesday morning, Nov. 1, the IDF embarked on a large operation in the Beit Hanun area in northern Gaza to halt the firing of Qassam rockets and eliminate terrorist cells. But the primary purpose is to thwart the new military option Hamas has been using against the IDF – squads that fire antitank missiles, a tactic Hizballah employed during the recent war in Lebanon.

IDF troops exchanged heavy fire with Palestinian gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip. Nine Palestinians were killed and 40 were wounded, the IDF reported.

A few hours after the operation began, IDF brass informed the security cabinet in Jerusalem about the latest developments in Gaza, including information about Hamas’s plans for an impending offensive against Israel, which is being coordinated with the help of military advisers from Iran and Syria, some of whom are already in the Gaza Strip working to carry out the plan.

According to Hamas’s military plan, parts of which DEBKAfile’s military sources are exclusively reporting, Hamas has come to the conclusion that firing rockets, particularly Qassams, at Israeli towns and villages is no longer effective and should be stopped. Instead of firing rockets, Hamas intends to open a barrage of around-the-clock heavy fire on Israel, using antitank missiles, short-range ground-to-ground missiles and artillery fire – similar to what Hizballah used during the Lebanon war – and mortar fire.

The massive barrage of fire, Hamas believes, will prevent Israel from embarking on any military or civilian activity in a 2-km to 4-km buffer zone from the Gaza security fence. The intention is to transform all IDF bases and outposts, and all settlements in the Negev, into ghost towns, since any movement between them would entail heavy losses


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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

DEBKAfile Exclusive: Israel Air Force warplanes over-fly Hizballah’s reconstructed command centers and fortifications in S. Beirut Tuesday

October 31, 2006, 1:22 PM (GMT+02:00)

According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, the low Israeli air passes, about which the Lebanese government complained, recorded Hizballah’s reestablishment in Beirut’s Shiite Dahya district, two months after its military centers were flattened in the Lebanon war. It is now a closed military zone whose entry is closely guarded by Hizballah operatives.

Israeli warplanes also recorded Hizballah’s revived bunker system, foundations for new rocket launchers and rebuilt intelligence and surveillance positions rising day by day along the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Similarly, the tempo of Iranian-Syrian weapons consignments to Hizballah units has been stepped up. They include ground-to-ground missiles, anti-air, anti-tank and shore-to-sea missiles. DEBKAfile’s military sources confirm that Hizballah has fully re-stocked the arsenal of rockets of the type which blasted northern Israel for 33 days in July and August.

A senior Israeli military source pointed out to DEBKAfile that intelligence-gathering on Hizballah’s recovery, rearming and regrouping for battle is of little use when it is not followed up by action. He disclosed that each time the disturbing data is put before the chief of staff and his superiors in Jerusalem, no one there decides on a response. Syria and Hizballah are exploiting this inertia to openly refortify and rearm their former positions on the border and southern Beirut, while their arms convoys ply Lebanon’s highways in broad daylight.

Neither the Lebanese army nor UNIFIL’s European contingents deployed in S. Lebanon and at sea make any move to stall the illegal influx of war materiel.

An Israeli intelligence source commented that the arms embargo contained in UN resolution 1701 is a one-way exercise. It keeps the Lebanese army and anti-Syrian militias from procuring weapons but does nothing to halt supplies to Hizballah and other pro-Syrian groups, which Israeli intelligence officers see as having two goals:

1. The takeover of Beirut’s government centers in Beirut by Iran-backed Hizballah and pro-Syrian factions – if possible without bloodshed. The weapons will be used to quell possible political or armed resistance. None of these groups, joined by Gen. Michel Aoun’s pro-Syrian Maronie Christians will have no qualms about sparking a civil war or murdering prime minister Fouad Siniora and other ministers in order to achieve their aims. This information has been in American, French, German and Israeli intelligence since the start of October, prompting US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to say Monday, Oct. 30: “We too have heard that there are people who would like to destabilize the government of Prime Minister Siniora. We’ve heard that there are people who would like to intimidate or assassinate again, they’ve done it before in Lebanon.”

2. In the case of an armed clash, however limited in scope, between the US and Iranian forces massed in the Persian Gulf or in Iraq – which Israel’s high command believes unavoidable – informed Israeli sources have no doubt Hizballah will hit back on Tehran’s behalf with a fresh rocket offensive against Israeli cities. Intelligence-gathering is important, say those sources, but action to head off a fresh war offensive against Israel is vital. Buzzing Beirut will solve nothing.

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CIA chief meets Saudi king after Gulf terror alertPublished: Sunday, 29 October, 2006, 12:42 PM Doha Time
 
JEDDAH: CIA director Michael Hayden yesterday personally delivered a message from US President George W Bush to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, the official SPA news agency said.

Although it did not elaborate on what was discussed, Hayden’s visit came a day after Western naval forces in the Gulf were reportedly on heightened alert for possible sea-borne attacks against the world’s largest oil-producing country.

Hayden met the king, Saudi intelligence head Prince Miqren bin Abdulaziz and senior advisers to the monarch at the Red Sea Port of Jeddah, the agency said.

Oil installations in Saudi Arabia are a "high-probability potential target" for terrorist attack, but tight security measures are in place to protect them, interior ministry spokesman General Mansur al-Turki said on Friday.

"Coalition forces are taking prudent, precautionary measures and focusing maritime security operations in the Gulf on these possible threats," a Bahrain-based spokesman for the coalition naval forces said.

Lieutenant Commander Charlie Brown said the measures were "in response to recent threats to oil infrastructure in the Gulf, including public statements by Al Qaeda leadership".

In Washington, a senior state department official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed the existence of a threat, but added: "I can’t tell you the level of specificity or anything else."

On Thursday, Saudi security forces arrested two suspects at Sajir, 300km west of the capital, the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat reported yesterday, citing an interior ministry spokesman in Riyadh.

One of those held had just finished his studies at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals at Dhahran on the coast of the Gulf in the oil-rich eastern province.

His elder brother was also held because "he is suspected of belonging to the deviant minority" – the official Saudi term for Al Qaeda militants who launched a wave of attacks in the kingdom three and a half years ago – Al-Hayat quoted security sources as saying. – AFP
 
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US-Led Military Thrust Focuses Heavily on Broad Naval Deployment

DEBKAfile Exclusive Military Report

October 30, 2006, 11:53 AM (GMT+02:00)

Hundreds of US and allied war ships foregathered in the strategic seas of the Middle East and India in the last days of October 2006 for two primary missions: To prepare for a US-led military strike against Iran which has stepped up its uranium enrichment program with a second centrifuge project - undeterred by the prospect of UN sanctions; and measures to fend off palpable al Qaeda threats to oil targets.

DEBKAfile’s military sources provide details of the massive deployments:

1. A large-scale US-Indian sea exercise called Malabar 06 is in progress off the Indian coast of Goa, ending Nov. 5. The American vessels taking part are the USS Boxer carrier, the USS Bunker Hill guided missile battle cruiser, the guided missile destroyer USS Howard and the USS Benfold , as well as the Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine Providence and the Canadian guided missile frigate HMCS Ottawa .

Indian maritime might is displayed with its warships like INS Beas , INS Mysore , INS Shakti , INS Ganga , tanking ship INS Gharial , submarine INS Shankush and Coast Guard ship CGS Samar

Malabar also involves the landing of large number of soldiers ashore, ahead of the Indian acquisition of the massive amphibious USS Trenton transport dock which can carry six helicopters and about a 1000 soldiers.

Our Tehran sources report that last Thursday, Oct. 26, Iranian officials were seriously rattled by a rumor that an Iranian spy plane had located the USS Boxer heading for the Persian Gulf. It prompted fears of an imminent American military assault to lift Republican prospects in the coming US midterm elections of Nov. 7. In any case, the Iranians suspect that at the end of the joint US-Indian exercise in the Arabian Sea, Boxer will veer west and head into the Persian Gulf. There would then be four US air carriers with task forces parked opposite Iranian shores, including the USS Enterprise Strike Group, the USS Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group and the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, which are already in place.

According to the intelligence reaching Iran, the Boxer and its escorts carry 850 Marines who have just spent months in special training for operations on offshore oil rigs and platforms.

2. American, Italy, France, Britain, Australia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are taking part in an exercise practicing the interception of ships carrying nuclear materials or components for use in advanced weapons. The exercise opposite Bahrain is the first to be held in the Persian Gulf under the three-year old proliferation security initiative. It applications could be translated equally into the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea, which conducted its first nuclear test on Oct. 9, or Iran.

On Oct. 27, Robert Joseph, the US undersecretary of state for arms control remarked: “From Iranian news reports we know the exercise got the attention of Iran.” But rather than climbing down, Tehran referred two days later to the war games as “adventurous” and placed its armed forces on a high alert which encompassed the joint naval units of the military and Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf, while the Revolutionary Guards, the Iranian army, navy and air force were placed on “yellow” alert, one level short of full war.

Also Oct. 29, , supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei replaced Iran’s air force chief, Karim Qavami with Brig Gen Capt Ahmad Miqani, on the recommendation of the Revolutionary Guards commander.

DEBKAfile’s Iran sources report that Khamenei did not approve of Qavami’s admiration for America’s military capabilities – especially the US air force’s advanced aircraft and equipment. Qavami was wont to speak out at general staff meetings in favor of procuring a new air fleet the better to stand up to a possible US attack. His successor follows the supreme ruler unquestioningly and has complete faith in the ability

3. Saudi Arabia did not join the multinational Bahrain exercise, but instead mustered its entire navy and all its special forces for deployment in dense defensive array around the biggest oil terminal in the world, at Ras Tanura. Riyadh acted in response to tangible intelligence that al Qaeda is preparing to attack its oil installations.

Warnings have intensified in recent days of impending al Qaeda attacks on the oil fields, oil ports, oil tankers and oil fields of Saudi Arabia and the Arabian oil emirates. One threat specifically targets the Bahraini offices and staff of the Benin Republic’s Societe Togolaise de Gaz and Societe Bengaz S.A.

It is not clear exactly why al Qaeda is targeting this African-owned oil company in particular. In addition, the US embassy in Riyadh has warned Americans operating in the Gulf region to stay clear of all oil installations, especially in Saudi Arabia. Another pointed alert covers Western residential compounds in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, specifying American expatriates as al Qaeda targets. Saudi security forces are standing guard at these compounds which were fatally attacked in November exactly three years ago.

4. The fourth major naval concentration is deployed in the Red Sea along Saudi Arabia’s west coast. The oil kingdom has placed its military and fleet at their highest level of preparedness for Al Qaeda-instigated terrorist attacks along this coast, particularly at the ports of Jeddah and Yanbu.

DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report: That the Saudis have by and large switched their defenses against al Qaeda to coastal targets indicates the receipt of intelligence input of a new local sea base established by al Qaeda, which enables the jihadist group to stretch its capabilities for assaulting oil and Western shore targets from the sea. This base might be located on the shore of a Gulf nation, somewhere in the Arabian Sea or in the Horn of Africa.

 

Friday October 27, 2006

Israel, Syria heighten alert for possible war
Military presence boosted as Assad warns of looming conflict over Golan

By Aaron Klein
GOLAN HEIGHTS - Israel has visibly beefed up its military presence here in the Golan Heights while neighboring Syria reportedly has placed its army on high alert and has warned it is preparing for a possible war with the Jewish state.

The Israeli Defense Forces Wednesday carried out the second in a series of scheduled military exercises in the Golan.

IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz earlier this week made a surprise visit to the mountainous territory, which the army here said was intended to test the operational readiness and capabilities of local divisions.

Since the end of Israel's war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in August, Syrian President Bashar Assad has given a series of interviews in which he warned of possible confrontations with Israel. He has stated several times he views Hezbollah's "victory" over Israel as proof military tactics bring results.

In recent weeks, Assad said the Syrian army was preparing for war, claiming he was worried Israel would attack his country first.

"We must remain ready at all times. We have begun preparations within the framework of our options," Assad told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Anba.

He said Israel could attack Syria "at any moment" and that Israeli leaders have abandoned the peace process and are seeking a war.

Yossi Beyditz, head of research for the IDF's intelligence branch, told the Israeli cabinet last week the Jewish state has indications Assad is "preparing his army for a confrontation with Israel."

"Assad has not returned the army to its pre-Lebanon war positions," Beyditz said.

Israeli officials here claim the IDF alert level in the Golan Heights has not been raised in response to Assad's recent statements and to the new Israeli intelligence estimates. They say Israel has maintained the same heightened state of alert in the Golan Heights that has been in effect since clashes with Hezbollah broke out July 12.

But a tour of the Golan Heights finds multiple new army positions local residents and soldiers stationed here say were established within the past three weeks. More tanks have been patrolling the area, with several tanks setting up shop in strategic positions, according to soldiers. Makeshift military outposts have been erected and Golan checkpoints fortified.

A fence that runs along parts of the Golan-Syrian border also has been fortified, with a series of surveillance cameras newly installed. Residents in one border town told WND the new cameras were installed along the border fence two weeks ago.

Syria has noticed the beefed up IDF presence and in response has heightened its own alertness even more, according to yesterday's edition of the Qatari newspaper, Al-Watan. The newspaper said Syrian Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani ordered troops in the area to be on the ready. Syrian sources said Damascus was closely monitoring IDF activity in the Golan.

The Golan Heights is strategic mountainous territory captured by the Jewish state after Syria used the terrain to attack Israel in 1967 and again in 1973. The Heights looks down on major Syrian and Israeli population centers.

Military officials here have long maintained returning the Golan Heights to Syria would grant Damascus the ability to mount an effective ground invasion of the Jewish state.

'Damascus prepping public for war'

Security officials here told WND there have been indications the past few weeks Syria is seeking to launch a provocation. Besides Assad's statements, the officials say state-run Syrian media have been broadcasting regular warlike messages unseen since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Syria and Egypt launched invasions from the Golan and the Sinai desert.

"The tone [in Syria] is one of preparing the public for a war," said a senior security official.

He said any Syrian provocation would likely be coordinated with Iran. Tehran and Damascus, which both support Hezbollah, have signed several military pacts.

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Expert: Prepare for war

Middle East experts give their forecasts for the coming months in the region, warn of 'terrible deterioration' on Israel's northern border
Yaakov Lappin

The coming months will present Israel with strategic threats from three different directions, Dr. Boaz Ganor, founder of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism told Ynetnews.

The first threat, stemming from the Shiite alliance of Iran and Hizbullah, will result in "terrible deterioration" on Israel's northern border, according to Ganor.

"The year 2007 is going to be a critical year, as the international arena will do its utmost to narrow down the nuclear capabilities of Iran. It could be done by using more affirmative sanctions, or even a military campaign," Ganor said. "And the ramification of such an attempt, even if it's only sanctions, will cause a terrible deterioration of the situation on the northern border, where Iran will use its proxy Hizbullah to retaliate against Israel, and make clear that Israel has to pay for any activities against Iran," Ganor added.

Turning to the Palestinian arena, Ganor said that "the Palestinians are now at the stage of shaping their self-identities," a process he described as ultimately "positive." They are torn between "terrorism and violence against Israel, definitely the concept used by Yasser Arafat under the Oslo accords," as well as today's "Islamic radical terrorist organizations," and the "alternative option, which is actually being represented by (PA President Mahmoud Abbas) Abu Mazen," based on the idea that "terrorism and violence will never fulfill the Palestinian national interest."

"The problem is that this is not a smooth process. It involves battles within the Palestinian arena. And I think in the coming months this may spill over into Israel," Ganor said.

Ganor then pointed out the "third process, which I have to admit that many Israelis, including decision makers and security services in Israel underestimate, is the threat of global jihadists against Israel," posed by al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

"In my view, in the coming months, global jihadists will try to launch what we call a major attack against Israel. Zawahiri (deputy leader of al-Qaeda) has announced that. I tend to believe him. The activities of al-Qaeda and global jihadist movements are surrounding Israel, from Sinai, Amman, Jordan, some involvement in Lebanon, and ongoing and growing involvement in Gaza Strip. And it's only a matter of time before they infiltrate Israel soon. So this is in my view a very negative process and I have to admit that… we are under-prepared," Ganor added.

'Very little time until next war'

In a document made available to Ynetnews by Professor Moshe Sharon, an expert on Islamic history at the Hebrew University, Sharon declared that the next war Israel would have to fight was almost here.

"Today it is clear to everyone who is prepared to confront unadorned reality, and they are the majority of people in Israeli society with the wish to live, that we have to take advantage of the short period of time left to us to prepare the army for the inevitable next war. It is already on the way," Sharon wrote.

He added: "Hizbullah is the immediate enemy. No one will disarm it because it has no intention of disarming and there is no one to coerce it to do so. The UN is collaborating with Hizbullah and none of its member nations has any interest in dealing with it."

"The Shiite of Hizbullah has taken control of Lebanon with the generous help of Iran and Syria and it will not relinquish it even if this means bringing about its total destruction. Lebanon will gradually be emptied of its remaining Christian population and zealous Islam will have achieved an important objective: One of the only two non-Muslim countries in the Middle East will just disappear," Sharon said.

"Islam came into being as a fighting religion. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, imposed his authority, first and foremost, by means of his military strength. He understood that even when speaking in the name of Allah, this must be accompanied by tens of thousands of fighters with drawn swords," the professor added.
 
"The Muslims consider the State of Israel to be an advance position of the "House of War" established on Islamic territory conquered from Islam. Israel, therefore, must first disappear. All paths to that end are legitimate," Sharon said.

Describing peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan as tactical breaks in their war against Israel, Sharon declared: "The Egyptian authorities turn a blind eye, or worse, allow the unimpeded flow of arms, above and below ground, to terrorist organizations in Gaza. Is it necessary to ask, to fight against whom did Egypt create an army of close to a million soldiers?"

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Israel Accuses Syria of Smuggling Arms into Lebanon

By Andrew McGregor

Renewed Israeli claims that Syria continues to rearm Hezbollah in defiance of UN Resolution 1701 come at a time when there are fears in Israel that Arab groups in Gaza and the Golan Heights may be planning to emulate Hezbollah's tactics in last summer's fighting. Since the August cease-fire, Israel has claimed several times that Syrian arms supplies continue to flow to Hezbollah through the numerous smugglers' trails on the Syrian-Lebanese border, a region now under the supervision of the Lebanese Army (the writ of the UN peacekeeping force, UNIFIL, extends only to South Lebanon, between the border with Israel and the Litani River).

Syrian President Bashar Assad describes efforts to stop arms shipments through Syria to Lebanon as "a waste of time," stating in an interview that "neither UN resolutions nor military deployment" will stop the flow of contraband arms (El Pais, October 1). Assad does not admit Syrian government involvement in the arms shipments, although Israeli intelligence has informed their government of official Syrian involvement (Gulf Daily News, October 16). The Israeli government of Ehud Olmert is resolute in rejecting the possibility of negotiations with Assad, whom they accuse of harboring terrorists, particularly the Damascus-based leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal.

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz has warned that Israel will take "independent action" if necessary to combat arms smuggling into Lebanon, but the commander of the French contingent of the UNIFIL forces has alerted Israel that new rules of engagement being considered by the UNIFIL command might allow French troops to use their anti-aircraft missiles to fire on Israeli warplanes that continue to fly over Lebanon in violation of Resolution 1701 (Haaretz, October 17).

When meeting in Moscow last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is believed to have discussed the problem of Russian arms exports to Syria finding their way into Hezbollah's arsenal (RIA Novosti, October 19). Israel discovered numerous examples of sophisticated Russian-made weapons in captured Hezbollah bunkers, with the missiles and other weaponry still bearing Russian serial numbers and bills of lading.

Hezbollah continues to agitate for a "government of national unity" to replace the present Fouad Siniora-led cabinet, dominated by members of the anti-Syrian March 14 movement. The Shiite movement has some curious partners in their call for a new government, including Maronite Christian General Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement. Once a violent opponent of Hezbollah and Syrian influence in Lebanon, Aoun is now a close ally of Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and a leading member of the pro-Syrian camp (Ya Libnan, October 8).

Hezbollah's commander in South Lebanon, Sheikh Nabil Qawuq, describes attempts to disarm Hezbollah's armed wing as "a thing of the past," adding that "we are living with a [Lebanese] government that enjoys the trust of America, but does not enjoy the trust of the [Islamic] resistance" (al-Manar, October 18). Syrian President Assad is intent on renewing Syrian dominance in Lebanese politics, stating that the only solution to the disarmament question is "if all the interested parties have confidence in Syria" (El Pais, October 1). The Syrian state does not recognize Lebanon's independence.

The massive destruction caused by Israeli bombing has opened some rifts in Shiite solidarity. 'Ali al-Amin, the Shiite mufti of Tyre, is very vocal in his criticism of Hezbollah, claiming that the national unity government issue is designed to distract attention from the ruination of much of the country. The mufti has reservations about the Hezbollah "victory." He asked, "What good is it to have a rocket that reaches 100 kilometers inside Israel when Israel can reach every meter of our country?" (Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, October 15).

Nabih Berri, parliamentary speaker and leader of the Shiite party Amal, has embarked on a tour of Riyadh, Damascus and Tehran as the unofficial spokesman for the Hezbollah movement (Ya Libnan, October 8). Berri has lately put some distance between himself and Hezbollah's aggressive approach to government reform, warning of a political vacuum that could arise if there is no consensus on the composition of a new cabinet before overthrowing Siniora's government (al-Nahar, October 19).

The political and military fallout from the short summer war in Lebanon continues. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) believe that Hamas is receiving Katyusha rockets and preparing defensive positions in emulation of Hezbollah (Haaretz, October 16). IDF sources maintain that more than 20 tons of explosives, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles have been smuggled into Gaza from Iran and other sources since the beginning of the year. In light of the lethal effectiveness with which Hezbollah guerrillas used anti-tank missiles in the Lebanon war, their arrival in Gaza is particularly alarming to Israeli authorities. According to Defense Minister Peretz, "If terror elements have succeeded in smuggling dozens of anti-tank missiles in the Strip, we will not wait for them to smuggle hundreds or thousands more" (Ynet News, October 18). For now, the Israeli Air Force has been forced to reevaluate the safety of its air missions over the territory.

The provocative statements by President Assad reflect a belief in Damascus that the IDF has been critically weakened, for the moment at least, by its incursion into Lebanon. Assad's description of his fellow Arab leaders as "half-men" for their failure to support Hezbollah has not endeared him to his counterparts in the Arab world, despite his recent adoption of pan-Arab rhetoric. Thus far, the threat of guerrilla activities in the Golan Heights remains a remote threat, despite various threats from previously unknown groups such as the Front for the Liberation of the Golan, which claims to be ready to use "Hezbollah-style tactics" to "liberate" the Israeli-held territory. In a sign of the continuing tension between Jerusalem and Damascus, Syrian troops have not stood down from the defensive positions that they adopted while on alert in this summer's Lebanon war. 
 
 
 
 
Find this article at:

http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2370177


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Names of Iran officials charged in 1994 Argentina bombing
Thu. 26 Oct 2006
Iran Focus

London, Oct. 26 - The following are the names of officials charged by Argentine prosecutors with masterminding the 1994 deadly bombing of a Jewish community centre in Argentina. The attack left 85 people dead and 300 others injured.

“We have proven that the decision to attack the AMIA headquarters on July 18, 1994 ... was a decision made by the highest authorities in Iran's government at the time”, Argentine chief prosecutor Alberto Nisman was quoted as saying by news agencies on Wednesday.

Argentine prosecutors demanded an international arrest warrant for the following individuals:

 

 

Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former Iranian President, currently chairs Iran’s State Expediency Council and is deputy chair of the Assembly of Experts


Hojatoleslam Ali Fallahian, former Iranian Minister of Intelligence and Security


Ali Akbar Velayati, former Iranian Foreign Minister, currently the chief foreign policy advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei


Major General Mohsen Rezai, former Supreme Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), is currently the secretary of the State Expediency Council


Major General Ahmad Vahidi, former Commander of the IRGC Qods Force, is currently Deputy Defence Minister


Mohsen Rabbani, former cultural attaché at the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires


Ahmad Reza Asgari, alias Mohsen Ranjbaran, former official at the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires


Imad Fayez Mugniyeh, commander of the Shiite Lebanese group Hezbollah’s overseas operation, currently believed to be hiding in Iran


 


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Army gets green light to deploy in Taamir
Both government, militia leaders back move

By Mohammed Zaatari
Daily Star staff
Friday, October 27, 2006

 

SIDON: After an absence of 30 years, the Lebanese Army is set to return to the violence-plagued neighborhood of Taamir east of Sidon after Lebanese and Palestinian leaders met at Dar al-Fatwa on Thursday to discuss the matter. Meanwhile, a delegation from the French Embassy was seen touring the Taamir area and the area outside Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp during Thursday's meeting.

According to witnesses, the French delegation was accompanied by Lebanese Army officials, who briefed the French about the procedures the army would adopt for its deployment in Taamir. The French stayed for around 20 minutes and then "left the area in a rush," one witness said.

The meeting was attended by Sidon MPs Bahia Hariri and Osama Saad; representatives of the Amal Movement, Hizbullah and various Palestinian factions; and Sidon officials including Mayor Abdel-Rahman al-Bizri, Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Jamal al-Dine and Sheikh Maher Hammoud.

Also present for the talks were Lebanese Army representatives and the head of military intelligence in the South, Colonel Abbas Ibrahim.

Neither Jund al-Sham nor Osbat al-Ansar, the two main factions in recent violent conflicts in Taamir, were represented at the meeting.

Located on the outskirts of the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, Taamir has witnessed a series of deadly confrontations over the past three years. The neighborhood houses a number of armed militias. Dozens of Lebanese and Palestinians have been killed or wounded in violent clashes between Taamir residents and the two armed main groups, Jund al-Sham and Osbat al-Ansar. The majority of Taamir residents belong to the Popular Nasserite Movement and the Fatah movement.

In a statement following Thursday's meeting, which lasted for an hour, the participants asked the the government to exercise control over Taamir "not only to ensure the security of its residents, but to attend to their daily needs."

The Lebanese Army is expected to determine the timing of its deployment in Taamir, the statement said.

Meeting participants placed calls to Lebanon's top three officials to ensure that "the deployment of the army is carried out without further delay," according to the statement.

Future meetings would be held to forge a consensus on the terms of the army deployment, the statement said.

Following the meeting, MP Osama Saad and Sidon's Mayor Abdel-Rahman Bizri both told reporters that "the decision for the deployment of the army in Taamir is now in the hands of the Lebanese government."

The Imam of the Jerusalem Mosque in Sidon, Sheikh Maher Hammoud, said that the Jund al-Sham militia was a "non-existent organization which was disbanded long before it was even formed."

Hammoud added that "inter-Palestinian reconciliations are to be crafted to allow for armed individuals to leave Taamir for Ain al-Hilweh."

A well-informed source from the meeting told The Daily Star that the meeting was a nominal one and that the decision for having the army deploy in Taamir was already taken, especially after Osbat al-Ansar indicated that it would not object to the deployment.

The same source said that the army was going to enter Taamir from the East and West and that it would initially occupy 80 percent of the area.

The source added that the that problems lay in the remaining 20 percent of Taamir. This remaining area is considered to be the most dangerous because it houses around 40 armed individuals - most of whom are wanted by the Lebanese judiciary. The source said this pocket of fighters must be prohibited from entering the Ain al-Hilweh camp because of conflicts with some Palestinian factions.
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October 24, 2006

Hizballah reconstitutes its pre-war fortified lines and missile positions opposite Israel – plus the latest Iranian surveillance systems

October 23, 2006, 10:44 PM (GMT+02:00)

Upon taking over the IDF’s northern command from the Lebanon war commander, Monday, Oct. 23, the incoming OC Maj-Gen. Gad Eisenkott said tersely: We are keeping close watch on Hizballah’s rearmament. The refurbished fortifications, according to DEBKAfile’s military sources, are under cover. Because Hizballah is not yet ready to openly challenge UNIFIL, their lookout points together with fresh supplies of rockets, ammo and electronic spying gear are hidden in village houses facing Israel.

The UN peacekeeping and Lebanese army presence has not stopped Hizballah from systematically retaking and re-manning its old tunnel and fortified bunker locations in South Lebanon. They are designated “nature preserves” by the IDF. Nor, say our military sources, did they prevent Syria over last weekend smuggling across a first consignment of medium-range Fajr-3 (45km range) and Fajr-5 (up to 100 km range) rockets – the ones Hizballah used in the Lebanon War to blast in-depth Israeli targets: Haifa, Tiberias, Afula and the Hadera-Caesaria district.

IDF intelligence estimates the consignment was small, designed to test Israeli military and UN responses. It was accompanied by a vigorous campaign launched by Hizballah’s friends in Beirut against Israel’s surveillance over-flights, thanks to which the consignment was discovered. These airborne cameras have also picked up quantities of rockets and launchers of all types including the Iranian Zelzal waiting on the Syrian side of the border to be smuggled across to Hizballah.

DEBKAfile has obtained a list of the S. Lebanese villages playing host to re-armed Hizballah positions along the Israeli border:

Kfar Kila, opposite the northernmost Israeli town of Metullah; Adissa and Markaba opposite Ramim, Hola and Mais al Jabel opposite the Israel’s northern highway, Itron opposite Kibbutz Malkia, Maruan a Ras opposite Yiron, and Raimish and Ait al-Shaab opposite the Western Galilee highway.
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October 23, 2006

DEBKAfile Exclusive: Saudis bring over to Jeddah hardline Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal for last-ditch try to avert Palestinian civil war

October 22, 2006, 11:06 PM (GMT+02:00)

The Hamas politburo chief traveled from Damascus disguised as a pilgrim. Saudi rulers offered him and his movement generous terms for breaking away from the Damascus-Tehran bloc, freeing the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit and signing a cooperation pact with Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.

In a back-up move, the Saudis last week invited to Mecca the heads of the Syrian opposition in exile: former Syrian vice president Khalim Haddam, today a sworn foe of Syrian president Bashar Asad, the leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood Sader e-Din Ali Bayanouni and Bashar’s uncle, Rifat Asad, who aspires to oust his nephew and take his place.

This act is seen as Riyadh’s warning to Asad of dire consequences, including punitive financial measures, if he tries to disrupt this Palestinian reconciliation move. To demonstrate its importance to the oil kingdom, King Abdullah granted Meshaal a private audience.

DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources describe this as a direct Saudi challenge to Iran and its schemes - in contrast to the inertia displayed by the Egyptian, Jordanian and Israeli governments. The Hamas politburo chief is not generally expected to reject the Saudi proposition out of hand – certainly not the handsome remuneration on offer – but neither is Hamas inclined to turn its back on Syria and Iran, its principal suppliers of weapons and fighters. (See earlier story on this page.)

On a single day, Sunday, Oct. 22, Fatah and Hamas staged 26 reciprocal assassination attempts of each other’s commanders in a further escalation of tension. Fatah was horrified to see a Hamas parading 500 new recruits in the West Bank town of Qalqilya, a Fatah stronghold. DEBKAfile’s military sources comment that if Hamas was capable of lining up 500 armed recruits in a small Palestinian town on the West Bank which is surrounded on three sides by Israel’s defense barrier, it betokens a much larger Hamas militia numbering thousands ready to go – a nasty surprise for both Abu Mazen and Israel.

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DEBKAfile Exclusive: A heavy influx of foreign-based Palestinian, Syrian, Iranian, Lebanese and Hizballah fighters swells Hamas strength for internecine showdown

October 22, 2006, 11:05 PM (GMT+02:00)

Senior IDF officers told DEBKAfile that the foreign fighters are slipping into Gaza through large gaps in the Gazan-Egyptian border. Among the arrivals are scores of bomb experts and commando combat instructors. They are coming to augment and upgrade Hamas’ “Rapid Deployment” unit and the Popular Resistance Committees terrorist coalition. Mingled among them are al Qaeda operatives from Sinai.

The influx aims to 1. Assure Hamas of a quick victory over Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority security services. The final Hamas-Fatah confrontation is planned to go ahead in both territories straight after the Eid festival Wednesday, Oct.25 and is expected to expand into a full-blown civil war. 2. Position Hizballah-style ambush squads armed with missiles for waylaying Israeli ground units, in the event a large-scale ground offensive is launched to stem Palestinian attacks and the smuggling of upgraded weaponry through the Gaza Strip tunnels.

DEBKAfile’s military sources add: Because of the vacillations of the Olmert government, the IDF may have missed the boat for an offensive of this kind being surgical enough to avoid large-scale casualties. This week’s cabinet meeting Sunday Oct. 22 ended again without operational decisions.

The rival Palestinian factions are in the midst of a feverish arms-and-recruitment race. In Gaza, Hamas backed by the PRC, the Popular Front and al Qaeda followers has raised an estimated 15,000 recruits. The Iran-backed Jihad Islami is keeping its options open to see which side comes out on top. Hamas’ first ever-enlistment campaign on the West Bank, the traditional Fatah stronghold, has yielded several hundred recruits in its first stage. Several thousand joiners, many of them defectors from Abbas’ Presidential Force 17 and other Fatah frameworks, are to be fielded in a new “Independent Intervention Force.” Hamas scouts are handing out grants of thousands of dollars to defectors. Their object is to deplete the military strength available to Abu Mazen and assemble a military force able to stand up to the Israeli army on the West Bank.

To stem the rate of defections, Abbas has recalled the retired former commander of Palestinian forces on the West Bank General Hajj Ismail. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that at this late date, some Israeli military planners are beginning to think that it would be folly for Israel to launch a large-scale ground attack on the Gaza Strip on the eve of a Palestinian civil war, because A. the troops would be walking into a prepared Iranian-Syrian trap, and B. they troops would be caught in the same predicament as US and British forces in Iraq.

 

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October 21, 2006

Is Hezbollah Rearming?

Is Hezbollah Rearming?

A Syrian commercial vehicle rumbles across the Lebanon border along a possible smuggling route for Hezbollah. (AP/Kevork Djansezian)

Lee Hudson Teslik

Even as the Israeli Defense Forces backed out of Lebanon this month, in accordance with an August 11 UN-brokered ceasefire agreement, there were murmurings that Hezbollah might not be honoring its end of the bargain. Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the monthlong conflict this summer, called for the group to disarm and for an immediate cessation of weapons shipments from Syria and Iran—terms which Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, nominally accepted at the time of the agreement. But just this week, tensions heightened after accusations that Hezbollah may be attempting to rearm. This may foreshadow what CFR President Richard N. Haass, writing in Foreign Affairs, describes as a “New Middle East,” in which “outside actors have relatively modest impact and local forces enjoy the upper hand.”

On October 15, Israeli General Yossi Baidatz reported to the country’s defense minister that there was “unequivocal proof” (Haaretz) of ongoing weapons smuggling from Syria. Syria’s President Bashar Assad has not denied that arms are still smuggled into Lebanon, but said in a recent interview with the Kuwaiti paper al-Anba that smuggling occurs in all directions, and is beyond the control of Syria’s government.  “The smuggling comes from Iraq, Lebanon, and all over the place,” Assad said.  “It cannot be stopped.” The Lebanese army has taken a tougher line (AFP) on Baidatz’s statements, saying the northern Lebanese border has been under strict surveillance and that no smuggling has taken place. 

Now some experts worry a flare-up between Israel and Syria could undermine the work of UN peacekeepers and the baby steps of progress made since August. Samuel Lewis and Edward S. Walker Jr., two former U.S. ambassadors to Israel, write in the Boston Globe, “Hezbollah’s rearmament could reignite the conflict with Israel and jeopardize UN Security Council Resolution 1701.” This echoed John Bolton, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, who made similar comments in August. “If the international community applies only a temporary band-aid solution to the problem and allows Hezbollah to regroup and rearm, then the suffering of the people of Lebanon and Israel may very well intensify in the near future,” Bolton said.

Experts say reverberations from the current dispute could undermine the UN’s authority in the region. The UN mission in Lebanon, or UNIFIL, had stationed more than 5,700 troops as of October 13, under the control of a French force commander, Gen. Alain Pellegrini. The force has come under increasing criticism from within Lebanon in recent days. On October 17, Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, Lebanon’s most senior Shiite cleric, said Lebanese were right to be wary (Daily Star) of UNIFIL’s authority, saying the force had “come here to protect Israel, not Lebanon.” Nasrallah’s remarks are blunter. At a recent rally, he warned the UN not to spy (LAT) on “the resistance,” and declared, “No army in the world is capable of forcing us to give up our weapons.” As UN troops work to stabilize one of the most fragile regions of the world, these are unwelcome signs indeed.

Lebanon, for its part, is not banking on the UN to defend it, and reportedly has struck a deal with Italy (DEBKAfile) to obtain sophisticated air defense missiles capable of bringing down Israeli warplanes in a future conflict. For deeper reading, CFR offers backgrounders on the troubled history of multilateral operations in the Middle East, on the fractured loyalties of Lebanon’s army, and on key UN resolutions in the Middle East conflict. Globalsecurity.org offers this guide to Lebanon’s military.

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October 18, 2006

DEBKAfile Exclusive: Italy to sell Lebanon sophisticated ground-to-air Aster 15 missiles to stop Israel’s aerial surveillance of hostile movements

October 17, 2006, 12:26 PM (GMT+02:00)

Israeli aircraft monitor illegal Hizballah movements and arms smuggling - in the absence of any Lebanese army and UNIFIL preventive action to implement UN Resolution 1701.

According to DEBKAfile’s Rome sources, prime minister Romano Prodi has instructed his defense ministry to negotiate with the Fouad Siniora government the quick sale of an Aster 15 battery, the only Western surface-to-air missile with an active guidance system capable of last-minute corrections of targeting at the moment of interception.

As a joint Franco-Italian product, the sale also needed - and obtained - approval from French president Jacques Chirac.

Our sources report the Aster 15 will be accompanied by Italian instructors to guide Lebanese troops in their use. Since 50% of those officers are Shiites loyal to Hizballah or Amal, the Shiite terrorists are looking forward to gaining access for the first time to top-of-the-line Western anti-air missile technology.

On Oct. 13, Lebanese chief of staff General Michel Suleiman informed his officers posted on the Lebanese-Israeli border of the Beirut government’s “indefatigable efforts” to obtain anti-air missiles to hit patrolling Israeli aircraft. He added that very soon, Lebanon would also acquire long-range anti-tank rockets to prevent Israeli tanks again crossing the border.

Commanders of the French UNIFIL contingent have threatened to fire on Israeli warplanes in Lebanese skies, according to Israel defense minister Amir Peretz in a briefing to a Knesset panel Monday, Oct. 16.

Israel has so far refrained from protesting to Rome against the Aster 15 sale - any more than it has to Washington, the UN Security Council or UNIFIL over illegal Hizballah movements and arms-smuggling.

The Aster 15 is manufactured by France’s Aerospatiale and Thompson-CSF; its guidance system by the Alenia/Finmeccanica of Italy. Launched from seaborne or land bases, it is designed to hit “maneuverable targets” - aircraft, helicopters, drones or missiles. With a warhead of 3.20 kilos of explosives, the missile has a range of up to 30 km and a maximum speed of 3,600 kph. Aster 15’s two stages are a solid propellant booster and a “dart” equipped with a seeker, a sustainer motor, a proximity fuse and a blast fragmentation warhead.

Most significantly, the French-Italian projectile is the only Western surface-to-air missile with an active guidance system capable of last-minute corrections of targeting at the moment of interception. In the hands of the Lebanese army (and its Hizballah component), the Aster 15 will directly jeopardize Israel’s aerial surveillance of Hizballah and other hostile movements in Lebanon.

DEBKAfile’s political sources once again note the Olmert government’s virtual concealment of the impending threat, its blind eye to UNIFIL’s impotence and its failure to raise an outcry against the missile’s impending delivery to Beirut. Israel’s leaders are strongly motivated by their need to stick to the empty boast of military gains in the Lebanon War and the portrayal of the international force’s deployment in the South as a diplomatic triumph.

In contrast, the teams investigating the IDF’s performance in the war are coming up daily with findings of gross mismanagement. The Israeli missile ship hit by an Iranian anti-ship C-208 cruise missile July 14 - for the loss of four men - was found in the latest report to have omitted to activate the ship’s four missile defense systems, including the Barak anti-missile missile. The ship sailed dangerously close to the Beirut coast with none of the 80 officers and crew manning lookout or attack positions. The panel concluded that there was nothng to stop Hizballah sinking the frigate by ramming it with an explosives-laden boat

October 17, 2006

Syria Is Stirring Up Lebanese Civil Strife, Stoking Two Anti-Israel Warfronts

 

Expectations of an impending full-scale Israeli ground operation in the Gaza Strip were sent up a notch this week by the worrying news military intelligence AMAN chiefs put before the cabinet on Oct. 15.

Maj.-Gen Amos Yadlin and head of AMAN’s research division Brig.-Gen Yossi Baidatz reported deepening Syrian involvement in aggressive moves on three fronts: Damascus is pushing Iranian arms for Hizballah into Lebanon in blatant violation of Security Council resolution 1701 (as first revealed by DEBKAfile on Oct. 4), the first Syrian military instructors have arrived in the Gaza Strip to impart Hizballah’s combat tactics to Hamas and the Syrian army remains on a high state of preparedness.

These moves against Israel represent only half of Syrian president Bashar Asad’s grand design; and the weapons streaming to Hizballah are a small part of the arms smuggled into Lebanon. The lion’s share is destined for six pro-Syrian factions in Lebanon in preparation for the forcible overthrow of Fouad Siniora’s anti-Syrian government in Beirut, should his adherents in Beirut, spearheaded by Hizballah and his Maronite Christian general Michel Aoun, fail to attain power by political machinations.

A major step aimed at inflaming the Lebanese-Israel border region was taken by the pro-Syrian Lebanese chief of staff General Michel Suleiman last Friday, Oct. 13. He authorized Lebanese officers and men deployed on the border to summon Hizballah forces to fight in any border clash.

This order restored Hizballah to the flashpoint border zone just two months after it was supposedly evicted by the UN-brokered ceasefire of August 14. By getting Hizballah reinstated in its old frontline strongholds, Syria and Iran have put the finishing touches on one of the Lebanese front, one of their three war edifices against Israel after Gaza and Golan. These fronts are primed to squeeze Israel hard any time Iran comes under threat of military attack.

This encroaching multiple hazard catches the Israeli government and its armed forces without a remedy. The aftershocks of the Lebanon war are still not fully digested; neither are its mistakes admitted in Jerusalem.

UNIFIL too, which has committed to defer to the Lebanese government and army in all matters, now finds itself obliged to accept Hizballah’s inflammatory presence under Lebanese army sanction and therefore under its own aegis – another full-circle contradiction of the terms of Resolution 1701.

Syrian-Iranian-Hizballah domination is therefore in the bag. So too is the armament of Syria’s primary helpers in Lebanon, which were first outlined in detail by DEBKA-Net-Weekly of 272 of Oct. 6, 2006:

1. The largest recipients are Syria’s veteran tried-and-true allies, led by the clandestine Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), which is now awash with anti-tank rockets, mortars, heavy machine guns, explosives, automatic rifles and crates full of shells and other ammo. Made up mostly of Greek Orthodox Christians, the sinister SSNP has been a key operational arm of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon since the 1980s. It is closely allied with Hizballah and various other terrorist organizations.

2. Other major recipients are the Sunni Muslim militias of the northern Lebanese Tripoli district, the Sunni and Christian militias of the al Hakur region northwest of Tripoli, and the Christian Faranjieh Clan of Zgharta, whose lands lie southeast of Tripoli.

3. Then there are the communities who oppose the anti-Syrian factions of Lebanon. One is the Druze following of Majid Arslan, rival of the extreme anti-Syrian Druze chieftain Walid Jumblatt, who not only resists Syrian influence in Lebanon but is daggers drawn against the Asad regime in Damascus.

4. Syria is also rapidly arming the Maronite Christians of Michel Aoun’s Patriotic Movement. Aoun has become the most powerful Lebanese ally of Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah and the leading Maronite opponent of Fouad Siniora and his pro-American, pro-French government.

The irony is that in May 2005, the United States and France brought Aoun back from his long Paris exile as their candidate for the Lebanese presidency. Quite soon, they withdrew their patronage; he was left with the choice of quitting politics and Lebanon or transferring his allegiance to the pro-Syrian camp and Hizballah.

He opted for the latter.

5. The Shiite Amal militia headed by the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, which in recent years was overshadowed by Hizballah, is now on the receiving end of weapons and training by Syrian and Iranian instructors disguised as civilians.

6. The south is a mix of rival forces. Syria has further stirred the stew by lavishing arms on the Sunni and Christian family militias, the enormously wealthy and powerful Saad and Bizari clans of Sidon, who are adversaries of the Hariri clan and its head, the son of Rafiq Hariri, the Lebanese politician assassinated in February 2005.

A senior Western intelligence source posted in Lebanon told DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources: “Even a cursory survey of the recipients of Syrian arms supplies shows us Bashar Asad scouting for candidates to fight another civil war in Lebanon on his behalf. The most insignificant splinter willing to rally to the pro-Syrian flag is getting a dollop of hardware.”

Asad is clearly in a hurry to capitalize on the setbacks his enemies suffered in the Lebanon war to turn the clock back and restore his stranglehold on his small neighbor by one means or another. A civil flare-up might be headed off by the success of Nasrallah’s scheme to displace the Siniora government and substitute a pro-Syrian administration dominated by his own Hizballah and General Aoun.

Damascus would profit by -

A: An invitation to come riding back into Lebanon for a deeper and broader role than ever before.

B: The humiliation of the United States and France for booting Syria out of Lebanon two years ago.

C: The crowning of Hizballah – and therefore Iran – as victors of the Lebanon war with the last word in this episode.

D. Another knock to Israel’s standing and reputation.

E. The European peacekeepers would be sent packing without further ado by the pro-Syrian government in Beirut.

For the time being, it is hard to see Ehud Olmert, his ministers and chief of staff, whose performance in the Lebanon was sorely wanting, finding their way out of the thickets which have sprung up in its aftermath.

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October 16, 2006

Khamenei Brandishes a Kalashnikov at US and Israel

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis October 15, 2006, 4:29 PM (GMT+02:00)

The powerful spectacle of Iran’s be-turbaned supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei clutching an automatic rifle, displayed exclusively by DEBKAfile, drew on the belligerent imagery of Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein. The Iranian media suppressed this particular shot in its coverage of his sermon at Tehran University Oct. 13, the third Friday of Ramadan. But the AK 47 toted by the ruler of the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism was not missed by the political and military leaders in his audience and accentuated his war message.

DEBKAfile’s Tehran sources reveal that the Iran’s leaders took three fateful steps ahead of Khamenei’s performance:

1. They pointed up the tradition initiated by the father of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of marking the last Friday of Ramadan as International al Qods Day - “Jerusalem Liberation Day.”

2. Khamenei’s aides leaked word that his decision to hold the sermon of Oct. 13 was prompted by his discovery that the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group was heading for the Persian Gulf and would be deployed in operational mode opposite Iran’s shores by Oct. 21.

3. In Beirut, Iran’s surrogate Hizballah announced the cancellation of its annual military parade on al Qods day, i.e. Oct. 20.

Military circles in the United States and Israel interpret these steps as meaning that Iran will be standing by in battle positions the day before the Eisenhower reaches its destination. DEBKAfile and DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources have been reporting since late August that Iran’s political and military leaders have resolved not to wait passively for an American attack but to go instead for a pre-emptive strike against US forces in the Persian Gulf and Iraq, as well as targeting Israel.

On October 7, DEBKAfile reported: Tehran and Damascus are gearing up for a pre-emptive attack on Israel to ward off a US strike on Iran’s nuclear sites – whether from Lebanon, or Golan, using Hamas to launch an offensive from Gaza, or a combination thereof. The Bush administration would then have to divide its attention and military might among three warfronts simultaneously.

DEBKAfile and DEBKA-Net-Weekly have exhaustively covered the Iranian Blow of Zolfaqar military exercise ongoing in the Persian Gulf from August and its military’s high war preparedness, as well the US naval, air and marine concentrations due to complete their deployment opposite Iran’s shores by the end of this month.

Khamenei devoted much of his sermon to the Lebanon war waged between Israel and Hizballah in July and August. “The war isn’t finished,” he said. “And the losers will certainly not remain idle. These evil forces are already hard at work to remedy their defeat and Islamic nations need to remain vigilant and ready to react with determination against any other potential attack.”

The supreme ruler continued: "One of the projects of the Americans, Zionists and their allies is to come to Lebanon under the United Nations, officially to defend the Lebanese from the attacks of foreign forces and then change the cards on the table and fight our Hezbollah brothers."

By smearing as fraudulent UN Resolution 1701 which expanded UNIFIL and enforced a ceasefire in Lebanon, Khamenei made a pointed attempt to discredit the world body ahead of the Security Council sanctions session called for this week to punish Iran for continuing to enrich uranium in defiance of UN resolutions.

He was also warning “the foreign forces” (UNIFlL) that “the war was not finished.” A central them of his sermon was therefore “resistance” as “the key to victory.”

The Supreme leader said the Hezbollah (armed by Iran and Syria) had achieved "a unique historic victory” for Islam over “arrogance and colonialism” (Americans and Israelis). "The Lebanon war changed the political equations in the region.”

Settling accounts with the British and the Americans, Khamenei commented, "The British are experts in pursuing that policy (of divide and rule) and they have taught the Americans how to sow the seeds of discord among Shias and Sunnis in Iraq.

Referring to the situation in Iraq, he said, "The crisis in Iraq preceded the one in Lebanon, and its intensity has aggravated today, because Iraq, Lebanon, and other events in the region are all rings of a broken American chain."

The Iranian ruler laid great stress on "International Qods Day” as the day of “resistance” for the entire Islamic Umma against “the oppression and injustice observed by the Zionists and their supporters."

DEBKAfile’s Iran and Islamic sources note that the Kalashnikov in the supreme ruler’s hand spoke louder than his bellicose rhetoric.

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October 15, 2006

Syrian army maintains high war preparedness, continues to smuggle arms to Lebanese Hizballah

October 15, 2006, 2:05 PM (GMT+02:00)

On October 7, DEBKAfile’s sources revealed that Tehran and Damascus are gearing up for a pre-emptive Syrian attack on Israel to ward off a US strike on Iran’s nuclear sites. The Syrian armed forces' war preparedness dates from then and is still in force and Damascus continues to send arms to HIzballah in Lebanon, according to a briefing by the head of research at AMAN to the Israeli cabinet Sunday, Oct. 15.

Asad’s Iranian-backed war plan would serve the purpose of forcing the Americans to divide their military assets between a strike against Iran and the defense of their allies in the Persia Gulf, Israel and US forces in Iraq. Both are seriously looking at a Syrian attack on the Golan, a fresh Hizballah offensive from Lebanon, or a Hamas attack from Gaza or a combination thereof.

The Syrian ruler would not threaten war without guarantees from Iran. According to DEBKAfile’s sources, Asad and Iran’s supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are prompted by the following motives:

1. Tehran is not prepared to wait passively for the Americans to build up their assault force in the Gulf and strike its nuclear facilities. A pre-emptive attack would suit them better.

2. Tehran and Damascus have not missed the debilitating crisis in which Israel’s political and military leadership are sunk since the Lebanon war. They do not propose to wait until the IDF pulls itself together enough to handle fresh aggression.

3. Both accept Israel’s deputy prime minister Shimon Peres’ assessment that Israel’s cities are not prepared for missile attack. Iran and Syria take it for granted that Israeli leaders understand they cannot afford to launch missiles against either one of them for fear of reprisal in kind.

4. Syria believes that if Hizballah could stand up to the Israeli army in Lebanon, its commandoes can capture sections of the Golan and walk off with an easy victory.

5. Tehran figures that the Bush administration is coming to the end of its patience in Iraq and preparing for a major review of its position there. The influential U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman, John Warner, said Friday that Iraq's government had 60 to 90 days to control the violence that threatens civil war or the United States would have to reconsider its options. This gives the Maliki government in Baghdad up to December or January to de-escalate if not halt the sectarian war engulfing the country.

Iran, Syria and Hizballah would not be averse to disrupting the American Iraq timeline by attacking Israel and putting the Bush administration on the spot, forced to address three warfronts simultaneously.

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Breaking - War Round 2 Brewing!

Lebanon Cantons prepare for war!
Urgent calls to liquidate Nasrallah's allies in the Christian, Sunnite and Druze areas.

From Hamid Gheryafi, Al Siyassah, London
Translated by Lebanonwire

Everything in Lebanon hints today at an internal military explosion reminiscent of the preludes to the 1975 civil war in which the Palestinians were the Syrian-Israeli spearhead. Only the players have changed as the new spearhead has become Syrian-Iranian equipped with rocket cannines that did not grow to Yassser Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Organization, European diplomatic reports said.

The reports, copy of which reached high officials in London, Paris, Washington and some Arab countries, said that the Lebanese factions, which so far are limiting the conflict to charging their street the way they did in 1975, have begun building their 'states' to face Hezbollah's mini state. And they are not doing that only militarily or through unearthing hidden weapons or importing other weapons appropriate to the brutality of any forthcoming war, but also socially, religiously and economically.

In addition, the Lebanese factions have started forming relief groups, coupled with large scale military training, and are dispatching to a number of European and Arab military establishments dozens of qualified and educated elements to attend brief and concentrated courses on the use of  modern military technologies.

A British diplomatic report, apparently based on Lebanese, Western and Israeli intelligence, also revealed that some independent Christian, Sunnite and Druze parties and groups that joined the March 14 street in a sporadic and personal manner, have started to organize themselves in coordinated groups to protect the entrances to and exits from their areas, sometimes without apparent weapons copying the tactics used by Hezbollah south of Litani.

Meanwhile, special forces from the Lebanese army along with hundreds of military intelligence elements wearing civilian clothes, are patrolling those entrances and exits across Mount Lebanon and Beirut, equipped with monitoring devises similar to the ones used by the international forces along the Syrian-Lebanese borders in what seems to be an encirclement of the Shiite enclave  from South Lebanon to Biqaa.

Another European report said that the emergence of special types of advanced weapons within the arsenals of some of the core Lebanese parties beginning this year, indicates clearly that an internal military battle would not only be limited to protecting the cantons, but would also spread to other 'antagonistic' areas that belong to them geographically, sectarianally and confessionally.

The report quoted one Christian leader as saying bluntly that "we naturally take Hezbollah's rockets into account, but we don't fear them for two reasons: First, the 4,500 rockets that hit Israel during 25 days did not kill more than 40 Israeli's. The other reason is that we were exposed during the Syrian presence in Lebanon to thousands of Syrian rockets, artillery shells rocket launchers, booby-trapped cars, suffering more damages and casualities than the what Shiite areas suffered during all Israeli wars. Despite that, the Syrians were defeated and left, while we stayed in our places."

The Christian leader asked: "What would happen if Hezbollah hits us with the 20,000 rockets  Nasrallah declared during his 'divine victory' festival? And what would become of his Christian allies among us, and the Sunnites in Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon, Biqaa and in the Druze areas. Would Hezbollah receive those as we received the war-displaced Shiites from South Lebanon? And where would people like Michel Aoun, Suleiman Franjieh, Talal Arslan, Wiaam Wahab and Omar Karami go?"

On this point, The British report said that there are growing calls to liquidate Hezbollah's and Syria's pockets in the Christian, Sunnite and Druze areas to implode them from within. It seems that the extent of political tension and the congestion within those sectarian  and confessional societies need just one spark to ignite them for the purpose of liquidating these pockets. Hezbollah's allies in the other areas have become isolated and surrounded, and their moves, phone lines and meetings are accurately monitored  because, according to the Christian leader, "we cannot risk once again the future of our Children as has happened in the near past, and we ought to be open-eyed and make our hit at the right time."

Arabic Source: http://www.alseyassah.com/alseyassah/International_1.asp

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Iran’s supreme ruler Ali Khamenei delivers war sermon, symbolically totes Kalashnikov

Holding an AK-47!

October 14, 2006, 8:54 PM (GMT+02:00)

DebkaFile Reporting: This shot, suppressed in Iran’s media coverage, shows Khamenei speaking at Tehran University on Oct. 13, the third Friday of Ramadan,. He is holding an automatic AK 47 rifle in his right hand.

His sermon was tantamount to a declaration of war by Iran and its Middle East allies: Syria, Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas against the United States and Israel. The Kalashnikov accentuated his words.

Tehran, 13 Oct. (AKI) - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei led Friday prayers in Tehran with a sermon almost entirely dedicated to Shiite militia Hezbollah and its 34-day war with Israel in Lebanon.

"One of the projects of the Americans, Zionists and their Allies, is to come to Lebanon under the United Nations, offcially to defend the Lebanese from the attacks of foreign forces and then change the cards on the table and fight our Hezbollah brothers. The war isn't finished and the losers will certainly not remain idle. These evil forces are already hard at work to remedy their defeat and Islamic nations need to remain vigil and ready to react with determination against any other potential attack."

"The war isn't finished and the loosers will certainly not remain idle," Khamenei said during his sermon. "These evil forces are already hard at work to remedy their defeat and Islamic nations need to remain vigil and ready to react with determination against any other potential attack."

-------------------------------------------------------

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IDF intelligence:

The head of the IDF intelligence research department, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, said Sunday that weapons smuggling from Syria to Lebanon was continuing, in contravention of the UN ceasefire resolution.

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UNIFIL / ISRAELI FORCES INCREASE SURVEILLANCE ALONG LEBANESE BORDER

BEIRUT, OCT. 14, (BNA)--LEBANESE NEWS AGENCY STATED THAT ISRAELI PATROLS WERE SEEN YESTERDAY INTENSELY MONITORING THE BORDERS. MEANWHILE, UNIFIL FORCES INCREASED ITS PATROL ALONG THE BORDER UNTIL THE NORTHERN SIDE OF THE LEBANESE SIDE. HSQ 14-OCT-2006 15:28

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N. KOREA TESTED C2 SYSTEM FOR IRAN
 

WASHINGTON [MENL] -- North Korea has completed a series of missile launches that some analysts believe was meant to test a nuclear command and control system for Iran.

Western intelligence analysts said the North Korean missile launches on July 4 and 5 did not seem connected to Pyongyang's ballistic missile program. The analysts pointed to the aborted flight of the Taepo Dong-2, meant to have a range of up to 5,000 kilometers.

Instead, the North Korean launch of seven missiles appeared designed to demonstrate a command and control system. The analysts pointed to the presence of at least 11 senior Iranian engineers at the launch pad at Taepo Dong.

"The development of Taepo Dong-2 is conducted jointly with Iran, and it is possible China's technology is used in the development of the Taepo Dong-2 engine," South Korea's Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security said. 

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Katyusha defense at least 4 years away
By Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post

A missile defense system that can intercept Katyusha rockets and destroy them before striking their targets won't be ready, senior defense and IDF officials told The Jerusalem Post this week, for at least four years.

The prediction by the officials, some of whom are involved in the development of missile defense systems, came two weeks after Defense Minister Amir Peretz declared in an interview with the Post that such a system would be up and operational within two years.

"Nothing will be ready in two years," said one senior military official this week. "Peretz was mistaken."

Peretz has appointed Defense Ministry (MOD) Dir.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi to head an internal committee assigned the task of locating and developing a defense system for short-range rockets. During the recent war against Hizbullah in Lebanon, close to 4,000 short-range Katyusha and medium-range rockets landed in northern Israel.

Following the war, the defense establishment's hunt for a cheap system that would be operational in the near future picked up speed. In an interview published last week, Peretz claimed that Kassam rockets fired by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and the Katyushas fired by Hizbullah in the North had turned into "strategic threats" against Israel and were no longer, as they were supposed to be, simple tactical weapons.

"Both Kassams and Katyushas are tactical weapons that have become strategic threats because we have yet to find an answer to them," he said. "We want to turn the system into a significant system that can operate, and this will happen in no more than two years."

The MOD is currently interested in two systems, one being developed in the US and one in Israel. The first system, designed to defend against short-range missiles with a range of three to ten kilometers, such as the Kassam or the short-range Katyushas that struck northern towns during the recent war, is a chemical laser cannon called Skyguard under development by the US-based company Northrop Grumman. The second system, under development by an Israeli company, works with an anti-missile missile that uses a kinetic warhead interceptor.
 

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October 13, 2006

Tehran Arms Hamas for a Double-Barreled War Option and Gaza as Second Lebanon

DEBKAfile Special Military Report

October 13, 2006, 10:42 PM (GMT+02:00)

The military pacts Palestinian Hamas interior minister Said Siyam signed with his Iranian counterpart Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi in Tehran on Oct. 12 are designed to transform Hamas’ military wing, the Ezz e-Din al Qassam, into a crack operational arm of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and Gaza into a second Lebanon.

Syam was in Tehran for two days at the head of a 7-man delegation.

DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report Tehran has committed to training Hamas’ rapid deployment force of 6,500 men in Hizballah combat tactics, with the accent on missiles, especially the anti-tank variety which were used with devastating effect against Israeli tanks in the Lebanon War. The force will be sent over in batches for six-week courses at Revolutionary Guards installations in southern Iran.

Iran will foot the $60 million bill for the training as well as for the top-notch weaponry.

The Hamas military delegation flew from Cairo to Dubai and on to Tehran. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and intelligence chief, Gen. Omar Suleiman, were apprised of the Hamas leaders’ trip and the military accords they were to sign, but did nothing to detain the travelers.

This was taken by Hamas and the Iranian government as signaling Cairo’s assent to the Hamas-Iranian transaction, a green light for the trips through Egypt of trainee groups to and from Iran and a continuing blind eye to the delivery of Iranian armaments via Egypt to Gaza.

Egypt is thus assuming the same role In relation to Tehran and its terrorist proxies as does Syria, which places its airfields at Iran’s disposal for delivering arms to Hizballah.

The accords merely formalize Tehran’s massive arming of Hamas which is already in progress. Smuggling tunnels from Egyptian Sinai under the Philadelphi border strip are the conduits into S. Gaza for supplies of long-range anti-tank missiles, Grad rockets and some two tons of TNT every month. Israeli forces have been battling the Hamas and its supply routes for the last three days.

According to our intelligence and Iranian sources, the pacts that were signed were compiled in September down to the last detail by three Revolutionary Guards generals stationed in Syria since the Lebanon war, as Hizballah’s forward command, and the Damascus-based Hamas politburo head, Khaled Meshaal.

Hamas’ military wing is accordingly undergoing a process that within months will transform the Palestinian terrorist group into one of Tehran’s overseas operational military arms, the second after Hizballah in Lebanon.

This will enable the Islamic Republic to ignite two simultaneous wars against Israel – from Gaza in the south and from Lebanon in the north.

This development is the direct consequence of this summer’s Lebanon War. It was made possible by Israel’s evacuation of the Gaza Strip in September 2005.

The Gaza maneuver shows Iran’s rulers striking with speed, efficiency and ruthlessness in their determination to isolate the Jewish state and draw a military noose around its borders.

Instead of resistance, they encounter inertia on the part of Israel’s political and military leaders. Prime minister Ehud Olmert has eyes for nothing but broadening the base of his government coalition. He has offered to create for Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the (Russian immigrant) party Israel Beitenu, the new post of Deputy Prime minister for Strategic Threats. Defense minister Amir Peretz thinks it is more important to prepare the armed forces for the evacuation of unauthorized West Bank settlements than for the next war. By the time they find a moment from these preoccupations, they will find Iran, Syria and Hamas have perfected a real strategic threat. By then it will be too late to repel except by a major campaign to recapture the Gaza Strip and crush the Hizballah-style force threatening southern Israel.

This campaign may be even tougher than the Lebanon war because it will have to be fought mainly in densely built-up areas against a staggering volume of war materiel.

But Tehran will win the chance of repeating its successful ruse of July and August, 2006: Whenever the UN Security Council comes close to a sanctions debate, an Iranian surrogate is sent into action to start a new Middle East war. Now, the Iranians have bought themselves the option of a double-barreled offensive from two of Israel’s borders.

Oct 8, 2006

Tehran and Damascus are gearing up for a pre-emptive Syrian attack on Israel to ward off a US strike on Iran’s nuclear sites

October 7, 2006, 9:52 AM (GMT+02:00)

Our military and Washington sources read as preparatory justification the Syrian ruler Bashar Assad’s statement Saturday, Oct. 7, that he expects an Israeli attack.

He was speaking in an interview to Kuwaiti paper al-Anba.

Assad’s Iranian-backed war plan would serve the purpose of forcing the Americans to divide their military assets between a strike against Iran and the defense of their allies in the Persia Gulf, Israel and US forces in Iraq. Both are seriously looking at a Syrian attack on the Golan which would escalate into a full-blown Syrian-Israeli war and a second Hizballah assault from Lebanon.

Assad’s remark that during the Lebanon hostilities, he was under pressure from the Syrian population to go to war against Israel and liberate the Golan is the most direct threat of belligerency of all his four Golan statements in the last month. He is implying that he stood up to the pressure once but may not do so again. And for the benefit of the Americans, the Europeans, the Saudis and the Egyptians - all of whom are pretty fed up with him – Assad is posing as the picture of self-restraint; anyone else in his place, he implies, would have taken advantage of the Lebanon war and made a grab for the Golan. Therefore, he is saying, he deserves to be treated with the respect due to a strategic asset by Western and moderate Arab powers instead of being targeted for an ouster.

The Syrian ruler would not threaten war without guarantees from Iran. According to DEBKAfile’s sources, Assad and Iran’s supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are prompted by the following motives:

1. Tehran is not prepared to wait passively for the Americans to build up their assault force in the Gulf and strike its nuclear facilities. A pre-emptive attack would suit them better.

2. Tehran and Damascus have not missed the debilitating crisis in which Israel’s political and military leadership are sunk since the Lebanon war. They do not propose to wait until the IDF pulls itself together enough to handle fresh aggression.

3. Both accept Israel’s deputy prime minister Shimon Peres’ assessment that Israel’s cities are not prepared for missile attack. Iran and Syria take it for granted that Israeli leaders understand they cannot afford to launch missiles against either one of them for fear of reprisal in kind.

4. Syria believes that if Hizballah could stand up to the Israeli army in Lebanon, its commandoes can capture sections of the Golan and walk off with an easy victory.

5. Tehran figures that the Bush administration is coming to the end of its patience in Iraq and preparing for a major review of its position there. The influential U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman, John Warner, said Friday that Iraq's government had 60 to 90 days to control the violence that threatens civil war or the United States would have to reconsider its options. This gives the Maliki government in Baghdad up to December or January to de-escalate if not halt the sectarian war engulfing the country.

Iran, Syria and Hizballah would not be averse to disrupting the American Iraq timeline by attacking Israel and putting the Bush administration on the spot, forced to address three warfronts simultaneously.

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Oct 7, 2006

Moscow posts two Chechen platoons in S. Lebanon, one headed by an ex-rebel commander, “to improve Russia’s image in the Arab world”

October 7, 2006, 10:04 AM (GMT+02:00)

The Muslim commandoes of the Vostok (East) and Zapad (West) battalions of the Russian Army’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) (picture) are being sent to guard the 150 Russian military engineers. They arrived in Beirut this week to restore the roads in Lebanon damaged by Israeli bombing.

DEBKAfile reports: Moscow did not consult Israel before stationing Muslim Chechen troops on its border for the first time.

Russian defense minister Sergei Ivanov said openly to Russian media that the deployment of former rebel Chechen troops in Lebanon aimed at “improving Moscow’s image in the Arab and Muslim world.”

DEBKAfile’s military sources: The Russian units are operating independently of the largely-European UN peacekeeping force. Their vehicles fly Russian and Lebanese flags. UNIFIL too was taken by surprise by the posting of Chechen troops to Lebanon. Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora was informed but omitted to notify Washington, Paris, Berlin, Rome or the UN.

The Kremlin’s rationale for making Russia the first nation to deploy a Muslim contingent in South Lebanon - albeit outside the UN force – is part of a hard-hitting foreign and domestic policy initiative, which is summed up by DEBKAfile’s sources:

1. The Putin administration wants to demonstrate to Russia’s teeming Muslim community its willingness to step into Middle East conflicts – on behalf of the Muslim-Arab interest. This straw in the wind indicates the Kremlin’s orientation on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

2. Moscow is building another bridge to Tehran through a joint, potentially interactive presence in Lebanon.

3. As a step to promote cooperation with Hizballah, with whom the Chechens, with their long record of extremist Muslim terrorist action against the Russian army, have much in common – in contrast to the European contingents of UNIFIL.

4. The Russian Chechen unit’s cooperation with Hizballah in the parts of Lebanon under its control will pave the way for a Russian Muslim military presence north of Israel which is independent of the UN and not bound by accords to which Israel is a party.

According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, the Israeli government and IDF high command were taken aback by the Russian step, which lends a different and inimical aspect to the international deployment on its northern border. When it signed off onto UN Security Council resolution 1701, Israel never envisaged the measure would open the door for Russian military intelligence to step in and camp on its border, using former Muslim terrorists involved in organized crime.

The Chechen Vostok and Zapad battalions are part of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division that is permanently deployed in Chechnya, in charge of the eastern and western regions. The Zapad battalion is led by Major Said-Magomed Kakiev, the Vostok’s commander is the former rebel Sulim Yamadaev.

This same Yamadaev, the former Chechen rebel commander who won an amnesty and the Hero of Russia award in 2004, is alleged by the Russian media with leading the robbery of the Samson-K meat-processing plant in St. Petersburg on September 15. He and up to 40 of his armed men stayed in the city’s Nevsky Palace Hotel, one of the most opulent in Europe, where he was seen embracing the leader of the local organized crime gang, Vladimir Kumarin.

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Iranian Nuclear Chief Mohammad Sa'idi on Russian Involvement in Building the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant
 
View Video Clip [ Here
]

Following are excerpts from an interview with Mohammad Sa'idi, international affairs deputy in the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, which aired on Jaam-e Jam 2 TV on September 26, 2006:

Mohammad Sa'idi: The main equipment of the [Bushehr] power plant is already installed: The core of the reactor and the turbine, which is large and very important. Four steam generators are also installed next to the reactor.

Interviewer: Their job is to generate steam?

Mohammad Sa'idi: Yes. These are the three main components of a nuclear power plant, and they have been fully installed.

Interviewer: So where is the problem?

Mohammad Sa'idi: The problem now... The main problem has to do with some cables, which need to be installed. As you know, approximately 4,500 kilometers of cable need to be installed in the Bushehr nuclear power plant. We still need to install 1,000... 1,000 to 1,200 kilometers of cables. In addition, there are some valves. Since these are very sensitive valves, they are now being manufactured in Russia. Some have been manufactured, brought here, and installed. Others are being manufactured now, and the Russians have promised to deliver them to Iran within the next two to three months. When they are delivered, they will be installed immediately.

Interviewer: Aren't these part of the main equipment?

Mohammad Sa'idi: No, it's all peripheral equipment. There is also a ventilation system, which is currently being manufactured, and according to the plan, it will be delivered to Iran and installed, within the next four or five months.

Interviewer: Have you reached the conclusion, in the talks, that the delay in the completion of the power plant is a technical, rather than political, problem?

Mohammad Sa'idi: You've raised a good question. I have never thought that the [delay] in building the Bushehr nuclear plant stems from a political problem. In recent years, ever since the contract was signed, there have been two main problems. The main problem regarding the building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which still remains and which we are trying to resolve, is the managing structure of the Russian contracting company.

Over the past decade, Russian companies have become governmental or private companies. We are not talking only about the Atomstroyexport company, the contractor for the completion of the Bushehr nuclear power plant. Other important Russian companies were in a similar situation: They would become governmental companies for a six-month period, and then private companies for six months. The company's executive director and board of directors were replaced 11 or 12 times, each time becoming either governmental or private. This, in itself, created delays in the construction of the power plant. The power plant had to face anther problem: Due to these structural changes, the management was not good.

[...]

Interviewer: [IAEO chief] Mr. Aghazadeh protested [in Russia], saying that if the Russians do not complete the power plant, Iran would do it itself. Should this be viewed as a bluff, or is it true?

Mohammad Sa'idi: This is by no means a bluff. As I said, in light of the equipment that needs to be completed... I should point out, to you and the dear viewers, that one of the critical stages of this project was the need for these 4,500 kilometers of cables. At a certain point we realized that the Russian contractor was saying that they had sent the order for cable production to some European companies, which were unable to produce them. We told them right away that there are companies in Iran that are capable of making [these cables]. We introduced these companies to the [Russian contractor], and said that it could have these very sensitive and hi-tech cables produced by the Iranian companies. Four months ago, [the contractor] submitted its proposal to the Iranian companies. 180 kilometers of these sensitive cables are now being produced in Iran.

[...]

Although the delay in building the reactor is not political, the Russian government delayed the fuel transfer for political reasons.

Interviewer: What is the current situation?

Mohammad Sa'idi: The Russian government has made a commitment to transfer the fuel to Iran in March 2007.

Interviewer: From where should the fuel...

Mohammad Sa'idi: From Russia.

Interviewer: From where in Russia? Are there security reasons for not announcing it?

Mohammad Sa'idi: Yes. The fuel will be transferred from its place of production. It has already been produced, and it is ready for...

Interviewer: We are talking about 90 tons, right?

Mohammad Sa'idi:Yes.

[...]

Interviewer: Do the Russians have to insert the fuel into the power plant?

Mohammad Sa'idi: Precisely. They have to commission and operate it, and hand it over to...

Interviewer: They have to load 30 tons?

Mohammad Sa'idi: Exactly.

Interviewer: And 60 tons will be stored...

Mohammad Sa'idi: No. We need 90 tons of fuel for the first load, but for the other loads we will need 30 tons.

[...]

Let me draw your attention and that of the dear viewers to statements by the head of the society... the Council of Persian Gulf Unity... or something.

Interviewer: The Persian Gulf Cooperation Council...

Mohammad Sa'idi: Yes. A while ago, he said that the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council members should also have nuclear technology. A long time ago, Egypt told us that as soon as Iran makes progress in resolving [its nuclear] issue, Egypt too would pursue nuclear technology. Algeria and Saudi Arabia are in a similar situation. In fact, Iran has created a new phenomenon for the world. It should be noted that this issue has influence European countries, and even Latin American countries. Venezuela, influenced by Iran's nuclear program, wants to develop its nuclear program, and do does Colombia. Argentina, as you know, shut down its uranium enrichment program for about twenty years. About a month ago, it notified the IAEA that it wants to resume enrichment.
 

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Iran eyes strategic crude flow route    
 
 
Iran made a pitch yesterday to become a strategic export route for Central Asia’s oil, even as Tehran faces mounting pressure from the West to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

A senior oil ministry official said Iran could more than double the volumes of crude oil it receives under “swap” deals, putting the imported oil through its northern oil refineries and exporting an equivalent amount from its southern ports. “We can currently handle 200,000 barrels per day of Caspian and Central Asian crude oil — and with minimal cost we can raise that figure to 500,000 barrels per day,” Mahmood Khaghani, head of Caspian Sea affairs at the ministry, told a conference.
Iran, which offers the shortest direct route for Central Asian oil and gas to international markets, has long sought to woo the energy-rich states that became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

So far it has had limited success. Iran is internationally isolated and could face sanctions over what the West believes is its goal of building a nuclear bomb. But with offshore oil production in the Kazakh sector of the Caspian Sea set to soar from 3 million tonnes to nearly 90 million tonnes within a decade, Iran has never quite been ruled out as an export option.

“History has proved that economics shall prevail and politics shall fail,” Khaghani said on the fringes of the Kazakhstan International Oil and Gas Exhibition (KIOGE) in Almaty.

Kazakhstan, seeking to diversify away from its dependence on Russia as an export route, is prioritising sending oil exports across the Caspian Sea to the BP-led Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which has just entered service.

France’s Total is leading the $ 4 billion Kazakhstan Caspian Transportation System (KCTS), which envisages pumping oil from the giant Kashagan field to the Kazakh port of Kuryk, then shipping it westward across the Caspian Sea to Baku.
 
 
 Bahrain Tribune          October-06-2006

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Syrian Information Minister says Media Adopts Resistance Way


Thursday, October 05, 2006 - 07:00 PM
 
 Tartous, Syrian Coast, (SANA)-Syrian Minister of Information Muhsen Bilal said Thursday that media in Syria adopts the way of resistance and steadfastness in order to achieve the just and comprehensive peace which restores the occupied lands.

"We renew our rejection of the language of hegemony and so-called the new Middle Eastern project and the chaos plotted against the region as is the case in Iraq and Palestine," Minister Bilal added in a lecture given in the Syrian coastal city of Tartous.

He talked about Syria's main role and its effective policy in the Middle East, stressing adherence to pan-Arab stances to restore the occupied Golan till the line of June 4th, 1967 and the remaining occupied lands in south Lebanon as well establishing the Palestinian independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Information Minister underlined that Syria's sovereign decision, led by President Bashar al-Assad, stems from its national interests and her rejection of foreign pressures.

The Minister later met journalists of Tartous where he stressed that media is not only a state media, because we face new media campaigns which requires all to work seriously and develop media performance, saying that only the professional and hardworking journalist will remain.

He added that the Syrian media will be soon reorganized and developed in order to promote the discourse and reach a real media institution that meets the public opinion and compete with the most important media institutions.

Mazen     


 
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Assad: Syria preparing for Israeli attack

Syrian President Bashar Assad (Photo: AFP)
Syrian president says, in interview, nation is worried about Israeli aggression, preparing itself for attack 'at any minute'
Roee Nahmias

Syrian President Bashar Assad said that his nation is ready for war with Israel. In an interview with Kuwaiti newspaper al-Anba, he was asked whether, pursuant to the war in Lebanon, Syria was prepared against Israeli attacks and would be prepared to wage war.

In response, the president replied: "During the aggression against Lebanon, there was vast pressure from among the population to fight against Israel and liberate the Golan. Many people made suggestions to this effect, directly and informally."

According to Assad, his nation is expecting an Israeli attack: "As far was we're concerned, the prospect for peace is unrelated to the changing circumstances and constitutes a basic principle, but, at the same time, we are preparing for an Israeli attack at any minute. We all know that Israel is military strong and backed by the US."

Presidential Statements
 
Assad: Israel may attack, Syria will stand strong  / Roee Nahmias 
 
Syrian president does not reject possibility of another war in region, this time with head-on clashes between his army, IDF. 'Israel looking for way out and may embark on new adventure,' he says


Full Story 

"Ever since Ariel Sharon came to power, Israel has given up on the peace process. Sharon's election was a sign that Israel had comprehensively given up on the peace process and the US government only strengthened this trend. Therefore, naturally, our expectation is that there will not be peace and perhaps will be war," said the president.

"What does it mean to be in a state neither of peace or war?" he asked. "Either war or peace. Period. This is why we have to prepare, to the best of our ability."

Assad addressed Lebanese complaints regarding arms smuggling from Syria to Hizbullah-controlled areas in Lebanon.

"When you speak of smuggling, you must understand that it is bidirectional smuggling, not smuggling only from one side to the other. Goods arrive from every direction. Anyone who needs arms goes to a place where he can buy arms. The smuggling comes from Iraq, Lebanon and all over the place. It cannot be stopped," he said.

Earlier statements

In September, the president said that he didn't discount the possibility that war would break out in the region: "This option is possible, because Israel is looking for a way out from the crisis it is in through a new adventure, by which it will restore its security."

Assad estimated that Israel may attack Syria under the pretext that it is aiding Iran, but declared that "Syria will resist, will stand strong and will never give in."


Tuesday, President Assad said that he believes that peace with Israel could be achieved within six months – if negotiations begin where they last left off.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais, the Syrian president said: "Our vision regarding peace stated that no more than two years should pass since we set out for the Madrid conference (and until the negotiations are completed)… if we want to renew talks from the same point we stopped, then the talks need six months."

Two weeks earlier - in response to a question of whether he supports Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cry to eliminate Israel - Assad told German magazine Der Spiegel that Syria wanted peace with Israel, "not to see it destroyed."

"But my personal opinion, my hopes for peace, could one day change. And if this hope disappears, then war may really be the only solution," he added.

Regarding Israel's recent war with Hizbullah, Assad told Der Speigel that it would be impossible to prevent arms from reaching the militant organization due to its strong public support.

"As long as public support for Hizbullah is as high as it today ... then this is 'mission impossible'. The majority sees resistance against Israel as legitimate. I advise the Europeans -- don't waste your time. Get to the root of the problem."


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Oct 5, 2006

Hizballah Shuts Reoccupied S. Lebanese Bases to Lebanese and UN forces

Exclusive Military Report

October 4, 2006, 2:05 PM (GMT+02:00)

On Yom Kippur, Oct. 2, 24 hours after the last Israeli soldier left South Lebanon and the day before UNIFIL published its rules of engagement, Hizballah placed roadblocks on all the approaches to the central sector of the South and the entrances to the towns and villages reoccupied by its forces and their rocket units.

These enclaves were declared “closed military zones.”

Exclusive military and Western intelligence sources report that neither the Lebanese army which moved south nor the international peacekeepers of UNIFIL venture to set foot in these enclaves. Nor did they raise a finger to block the first broad-daylight consignment of advanced Iranian weapons to be delivered in Lebanon via Syria since the August 14 ceasefire.

This coordinated Hizballah-Iranian-Syrian ploy has brought into question the point of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which was to prevent the resumption of hostilities and Hizballah’s rearmament while helping the Beirut government and army assert its sovereignty in the South. It has also made a mockery of the UN Force and its missions.

These developments effectively assign UN Security Council resolution 1701 to the same dustbin as resolution 1559 which ordered Hizballah disarmed.

It is especially noted that the Israeli government has made no military or diplomatic response to these violations, or even informed the public that Hizballah has redeployed in the precise positions from which it blitzed Haifa, Nahariya, Carmiel, Acre and W. Galilee for more than a month.

Tuesday, Oct. 3, after Hizballah completed its redeployment, the southern commander who orchestrated the rocket bombardment of Israel, Sheikh Nabil Qauq, made his first appearance since the war. He announced that his forces had regrouped, fully armed and in command of rocket supplies, in exactly the same positions facing the Israeli border as they had occupied when they went to war on July 12.

This statement is fully confirmed by DEBKAfile’s military and W. intelligence sources which locate the enclaves Hizballah has cordoned off as closed military zones:

1. Majdal Zoun south of Tyre, from which Nahariya, Acre, Carmiel and Western Galilee were bombed. The Nasser rocket brigade has returned to its posts there with a fresh supply of rockets, as well as the launchers and crews which escaped Israeli counter-attack.

2. Jouaiya, the strategic village occupied by the IDF during the war, has been roped into the Majdal Zoun “military area,” providing Hizballah with full military control of the Tyre district and the ability to bombard UNIFIL headquarters and bases.

3. Siddiquine south of Kana.

4. Deir Amess.

5. The road approaches to the large village of Tebnin in the central sector of the South are blocked.

Our military experts explain that control of Sidiquine, Deir Amess and Tebnin afford Hizballah’s military deployment command of the strategic Jabel Amel mountain region, and its focal points of Haris, Kafra and Aita e-Zott villages. From there, Hizballah fired rockets at Haifa. They were also the centers of the advanced electronic sites from which Hizballah tracked Israeli troop movements across the border and eavesdropped on their signals.

DEBKAfile’s sources also provide detailed information on the Iranian-Syrian arms supplies sent openly into Lebanon on Oct. 2.

In early September, DEBKAfile began reporting on the 25 Hizballah arms dumps maintained for easy access on the Syrian side of the Lebanese border. Damascus was thus technically complicit with the 1701 arms embargo. The Syrian Al Qusayr air base south of Homs and opposite the Lebanese town of Hermel was given over for the use of the forward Iranian Revolutionary Guards command. Since the ceasefire, Iranian air transports have been landing arms for Hizballah at this facility almost daily.

Saturday, Sept 30, Syrian military supplies and maintenance units at this air base prepared a convoy of six trucks for a trial run to test the response. Two were fully loaded with miscellaneous rockets, including Katyusha, anti-air and anti-tank missiles, four with mortars, heavy machine guns and ammunition.

This convoy crossed the border at a central road junction connecting the Syrian village of Qusayr with Mt. Lebanon, and headed southwest to Hermel. Another two arms convoys stood by on the Syrian side of the border, waiting to see if the first one was allowed through. Since both the IDF and UNIFIL sat on their hands, the next two will soon follow.

What the international forces did next on Tuesday night Oct. 3 was to publish its rules of engagement These are the main clauses:

The force's commanders have sufficient authority to act forcefully when confronted with hostile activity of any kind.

UNIFIL personnel may exercise the inherent right of self-defense, as well as "the use of force beyond self-defense to ensure that UNIFIL's area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities."

The peacekeepers also may use force "to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent UNIFIL from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council, to protect U.N. personnel, facilities, installations and equipment and to ensure the security and freedom of movement of U.N. personnel and humanitarian workers."

Also the use of force may be applied "to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence in its areas of deployment, within its capabilities."

DEBKAfile notes that all these locutions are open to broad interpretation.

For instance, “hostile activity” could apply to an attack from outer space since there is no mention of “Hizballah,” “Syria or “Iran.” The “arms embargo” ordered by Resolution 1701 is another unmentionable. “The civilians” to be protected are likewise undefined. UNIFIL’s commander has full discretion to decide whether or not it is aplicable to a Hizballlah rocket attack on Nahariya.

Since UN commanders have state explicitly they will only act with the permission of the Lebanese government and army (in which Hizballah holds the power of veto), there is no way that the international force can carry out its duties as mandated by the UN Security Council.

The Olmert government fully colludes in reducing this body to the same ineffectiveness as it displayed in the 28 years leading up to the Lebanon War. By their silence and passivity, Israeli leaders hope to hide the true outcome of that bungled campaign from Israeli and world opinion. Foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who proudly held up the UN force’s deployment as the war’s only success and the formula for Israel’s successful exit strategy, has been strangely struck dumb.

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Sept 26, 2006

Hizbullah moving rockets to Palestinian camps

Lebanese officials say terror group transporting rockets, heavy weaponry to Palestinian camps in south of country, just few miles from Israeli border
Aaron Klein, WND

Hizbullah has been transporting rockets and heavy weaponry to Palestinian camps in south Lebanon just a few miles from the Israeli border, according to Lebanese officials.

The officials told WND the office of Lebanese Prime Minister Faud Sinora sent a letter last week to Abbas Zakir, the Palestinian Authority's most senior representative in Lebanon, outlining the alleged Hizbullah weapons transfers into Palestinian camps. The letter noted "unusual activity" in and near the Palestinian camps, including the coming and going of trucks suspected of carrying weapons.

Palestinian groups, including Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, maintain armed bases in Lebanon, mostly in the al-Naemeh province just south of Beirut and in the Bekaa Valley, near Lebanon's border with Syria and Israel. Fatah is the party of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

The reports follow a WND article last month quoting Lebanese officials claiming Hizbullah, with the help of Iran, started building underground war bunkers in Lebanon's Palestinian camps.

During its 34-day confrontation with Hizbullah in Lebanon that began July 12, Israel destroyed scores of complex Hizbullah bunkers that snaked along the Lebanese side of the Israel-Lebanon border. Military officials said they were surprised by the scale of the Hizbullah bunkers, in which Israeli troops reportedly found war rooms with advanced eavesdropping and surveillance equipment they noted were made by Iran.

Vehicles clear furniture, equipment from outposts

A senior Lebanese official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told WND Hizbullah started building a new set of bunker systems, this time in Palestinian refugee camps.
 
"The Lebanese Army doesn't have the authority to patrol inside the camps," said the official. "Hizbullah knows it is safe there to rebuild their war bunkers, and they began doing so with Iranian help."

A second Lebanese official confirmed the information, which came one day after Israel's Army Radio reported Hizbullah was seen by the Israeli army dismantling 14 outposts near the border with Israel, removing rockets and equipment for transport.

According to Army Radio, Hizbullah members blocked entry to their outposts using bulldozers. Trucks then removed weapons and other munitions from the area. Vehicles also reportedly cleared furniture and equipment from the outposts.

'He who wants to weaken us is miscalculating'

The Lebanese Army and a contingent of several thousand international troops have deployed in South Lebanon. None of the forces are authorized to enter Palestinian refugee camps.

The Lebanese government has stated its army will not confront Hizbullah or work to disarm the group. An agreement reached with Hizbullah last month allows the Lebanese militia to retain its weapons as long as it doesn't display the arms in public.

The agreement is in violation of the UN ceasefire resolution that ended confrontations initiated when Hizbullah ambushed an Israeli patrol unit, kidnapping two soldiers and killing eight others. The resolution calls for the eventual disarming of Hizbullah.

During a Hizbullah "victory" parade in south Beirut last Friday, the group's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, declared Hizbullah possesses more than 20,0000 rockets aimed at Israel and pledged his group will quickly reestablish militant bases in Lebanon.

Making his first public appearance since the war started, Nasrallah drew loud applause from the crowd when he vowed: "We will rehabilitate the force and bases within a short period of time."

"The resistance today is stronger than it was on July 12," Nasrallah said. "He who wants to weaken us is miscalculating."

Israeli security officials did not deny Nasrallah's claims of continuing to maintain a large rocket arsenal.

An official pointed to a volley of 240 rockets fired by Hizbullah one day before last month's cease-fire was imposed, the largest number the group had launched in a 24-hour period. One Israeli civilian was killed in the attacks; 26 others were injured.

"The message sent is that Hizbullah absolutely maintains the capability of firing hundreds of rockets per day into Israel," commented the official. "Wasn't one of the (Israeli) military campaign's main goals to eliminate the rocket threat?"

Ynet Daily Reprinted with permission of WorldNetDaily  
 

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Iran reactor launch date agreed
BBC NEWS 2006/09/26 09:06:38 GMT

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/5380874.stm

Russia and Iran have signed a deal in Moscow envisaging the launch of Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr in September next year, officials in Moscow say.

They say the Russian-built reactor will be fully operational in November 2007.

Iran had feared Russia would delay the launch because of international tension over the Iranian uranium enrichment programme, correspondents say.

The UN Security Council has told Iran to suspend the programme amid fears uranium could be used in nuclear arms.

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Sept 23, 2006

US Intelligence Director John Negroponte says Qaeda’s expansion in Lebanon, exploiting conflict there, is being taken seriously

September 23, 2006, 12:19 PM (GMT+02:00)

This move cannot be ruled out, he said to Reuters and International Herald Tribune, despite the chasm between the Sunni Muslim al Qaeda and Lebanon’s Shiite Hizballah.

DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources have uncovered the presence of active al Qaeda cells in Lebanon, located mainly in Palestinian refugee camps in Tripoli in the north and Sidon in the south. More recently, Hizballah’s military operations commander Imad Mughniyeh brokered a new operational pact between his organization and al Qaeda with Tehran’s blessing. Sectarian differences between the Shiite Hizballah and predominantly Sunni Muslim Palestinians have never barred their cooperation in Gaza and the West Bank. Since 1993, Mughniyeh, who is close to Iranian ruler Ali Khamenei, has liaised between Iran and the al Qaeda leadership.

 

Sept 22, 2006

Iran Warns Israel to Keep Away from Lebanon
Iran's influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Friday warned that Israel would face an unprecedented response if it made any new move to attack Lebanon.

"Don't think that the Lebanese issue is over. The Israelis, because of their shortcomings, are still threatening sometimes, especially the military and the ruling party," he said in reference to the Kadima party of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

"So they (the Israelis) must be very careful not to put fuel on the flames," Rafsanjani, now head of the Expediency Council, Iran's top political arbitration body, told worshippers at Friday prayers.

"But rest assured that any new movement (from Israel) will receive an answer that they have not received before," he added.

Iran insists that its support for Hizbullah is only moral in nature and rejects allegations it funds or arms the group.

However Iran loudly applauded Hizbullah's performance against the Israeli army during the 34-day Israeli offensive on Lebanon and declared public transport in the capital free for a day in celebration.(AFP) 
 
 

Beirut, 22 Sep 06, 13:55

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Photo

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left, and Lebanon's President Emile Lahoud talk at a bilateral meeting at UN headquarters, Thursday Sept. 21, 2006. (AP Photo/Ed Betz)

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Sept 21, 2006

Ballistic Missile Talk South to Threaten US HOMELAND

Iran’s Terror-Intelligence Networks Thrown across Three Continents

DEBKAfile Exclusive Intelligence Report

September 20, 2006, 5:53 PM (GMT+02:00)

While the leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement nations were making speeches at the 14th conference of their movement in Havana in mid-September, three groups of intelligence experts were off in a well-guarded corner next door to talk about matters far from the conference’s main theme of how to develop backward economies and societies.

Iranian, Cuban and Venezuelan teams were putting their heads together on ways of translating their leaders' hostile rhetoric and slogans into effective war action against the United States.

DEBKAfile’s Exclusive intelligence and counter-terror sources disclose that the three teams were made up of intelligence officers and civilian officials on the staffs of the three rulers; their job is maintaining clandestine ties with underground and terrorist organizations.

After the NAM conference ended, the Iranian and Venezuelan teams moved their talks to Caracas where Ahmadinejad continued his talks with Chavez on Sept 17 and 18.

Interestingly, Iran’s Islamic revolutionary leaders have maintained warm ties of cooperation and mutual assistance with Castro’s Cuba since they came to power in Tehran in 1979. They admired his revolutionary zeal and consistent anti-US policies. Tehran also exploited Cuba’s economic straits to deepen its penetration of the country with a view to setting up an Iranian base in Cuba for its continental operations.

But the relationship suffered ups and downs, especially when Castro declined to give Iranian agents a free hand for subversion and espionage against the United States. In 2003, the Cuban ruler was furious when Iranian diplomats, without asking for permission, installed in their homes in a farm on the outskirts of Havana jamming equipment against television programs bounced from the United States through satellite to Iran. They were trying to stop Iranian opposition-backed television broadcasters in Los Angeles calling on Iranians to rise up against the Islamic regime. Castro made the Iranian diplomats evacuate the farm and remove their gear.

Castro is too old a hand to be manipulated in matters of subversion and terrorism. Chavez in contrast is just as anti-American but also rated by Tehran an easier mark. Although he needs to be handled with kid gloves as head of an oil-exporting country, the Iranians have noted that the Venezuelan leader is also open to cooperation in the politics of oil.

On Sept. 18, he insisted that Ahmadinejad attend a ceremony celebrating the gushing of the 7th Aya Well of the Kuchouy Oil Field developed by a Venezuelan-Iranian partnership. This was to be a landmark on the road to a merger between the two oil industries. Tehran is not too happy about this partnership but is going along with small, symbolic steps while extracting from Caracas – and eventually it hopes from Havana – forward facilities for running Iranian clandestine agents in North and South America.

DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report that Ahmadinejad also talked persuasively to Chavez about making a show of deploying a few Iranian-made 2,000-km range Shahab-3 missiles – first in Venezuela then in Cuba – as a menace to the United States.

Chavez has not given Tehran his answer. But both he and Castro will think twice about granting this request, for fear of crossing one line too many for the Bush administration to swallow. However, Iranian ambitions to harm American know no limits.

The three-cornered meeting in Havana between the Ahmadinejad, Chavez and Raoul Castro at the beginning of the week reached a number of decisions in principle although they remain to be fleshed out with operational details. Castro was reluctant to make final decisions because he said his brother would soon be back at the helm.

They did agree that anything decided during the Iranian and Venezuelan presidents’ Caracas talks would be put before the Cuban ruler. They also decided that their intelligence teams would meet again during the UN General Assembly session in New York later this week. After discovering this plan, Washington refused the Iranian president’s “aides” – presented as journalists - entry visas to New York on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

The three-way talks have thus far yielded a solid decision for Iranian intelligence agents, some of them sabotage specialists, to be sent soon to Cuba and Venezuela. They will operate in the guise of road network and industrial development experts. Their real mission will be to conduct surveys on the practicability of using Cuba and Venezuela as bases for subversive activities against the United States and other parts of Latin America.

Iran is also busy creating similar bases in E. Africa, favoring Sudan and Somalia.

At the Havana NAM conference the Iranian president and Sudan’s Omar Bashir were seen deep in conversation. Tehran believes that the Sudanese ruler will come round now to accepting expanded military and intelligence collaboration between the two countries, whereas in 2003, he threw Iranian agents out of Sudan together with all their development specialists. Bashir is now seeking support for his Darfur policy which aims to remove pro-Western military elements from Sudan.

Iran is on the way to harnessing two more countries to its clandestine anti-US campaign: Somalia and Yemen. In Mogadishu, the Islamic Courts movement headed by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys is strengthening its grip on Somalia. Like Iran’s Islamic rulers, this group also preaches jihad and martyrdom (suicide attacks) for the sake of Islam.

The Somali movement therefore provides fertile ground for recruiting terrorists for suicide missions on behalf of Iran and al Qaeda alike as part of their subversion and terror campaigns across the African continent.

Mogadishu’s new rulers, whose number includes a group of middle-ranking al Qaeda commanders, are busy training an army to support their regime. Al Qaeda and Iranian Revolutionary Guards instructors are building up a corps of suiciders to attacks US embassies and Israeli targets across the continent.

The Yemeni ruler, Abdallah Salah, and his army chiefs are opposed to giving Iranian agents free rein in their country, but in the last two years, Tehran is paying Shiite extremist groups in Yemen to bring the regime under increasing pressure by acts of murder and sabotage.

Iran’s Islamic rulers believe they are in real danger of an American air attack on their nuclear installations some time in November or December this year. They are therefore pushing hard for new allies in Latin America, Africa and Arabia and points of vantage for hitting back at the United States and its centers of influence on three continents as an effective deterrent to an American attack.

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Sept 15, 2006

DEBKAfile Exclusive: Al Qaeda appears to be preparing a large-scale terrorist attack on Israeli and UNIFIL forces in South Lebanon

September 14, 2006, 11:37 PM (GMT+02:00)

According to some Western and Lebanese intelligence sources, al Qaeda has named veteran Abu Rush al-Miqati, 56, an old Middle East hand, to organize the attack. Lebanese interior minister Ahmad Fatfat reports 13 al Qaeda cells are operating in Lebanon and are being mustered for the attack.

The Italian defense minister Arturo Parisi, who visited Italian forces at Ras a Maroun in South Lebanon, reminded them that al Qaeda’s Ayman Zawahiri this week stated that UNIFIL forces in Lebanon faced attack as “enemies of Islam.”

Parisi said he was not surprised by al Qaeda’s message and warned the soldiers their mission could be “long, risky, costly and difficult.” But we are here, he said, to defend the security of Israel and strengthen Lebanon’s ability to control its territory. “We know the terrorists are not on our side.”

Italy has agreed to send up to 3,000 soldiers to Lebanon, making it the biggest contributor to the UN's force there. Over a thousand Italians are already deployed.

All UN troops in South Lebanon are on terrorist alert.

French sources report that a new message was posted on Islamist websites by Deputy al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, calling on a militant Algerian Islamist group to target France. In a taped recording Zawahiri called on the Algerian GSPC group to become "a bone in the throat of the American and French crusaders".

He also urged the GSPC - the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat - to sow fear "in the hearts of the traitors and the apostate sons of France" and to crush the "pillars of the Crusader alliance". Prime minister Dominique de Villepain advises treating this warning with the greatest seriousness. France must prepare for the worst, he said. 

 

DEBKAfile Exclusive: Hizballah reneges on its deal for the Lebanese army and the UN force’s missions in South Lebanon

September 14, 2006, 11:20 PM (GMT+02:00)

Until Wednesday night, the Shiite terror group stood by its consent to the Lebanese army on the border with Israel handling any military problems or clashes with Israel, with Hizballah assisting. Now, Hizballah has gone back on this deal and announced that henceforth its own forces will no longer wait for the Lebanese army to act but send its own forces into action against Israel. This is the first time since the UN-brokered went into effect on July 14 that Hizballah has threatened direct military action against Israel.

This also opens the way for its men to shoot at any Israeli aircraft entering Lebanese skies and any naval craft in Lebanese waters. In a second statement, Hizballah warned Berlin that German troops posted at Lebanese air ports, seaports or Lebanese-Syrian border posts would be legitimate targets for attack. The warning came just hours after the German government approved a 2,400 naval and air contingent for the UN Lebanon force.

The Hizballah threat applied also to all the foreign contingents serving with expanded UNIFIL, thereby limiting their area of operation to the border with Israel.

 

 

 

Sept 14, 2006

Syria: The poorly executed attack



A covered pickup truck loaded with poorly constructed improvised explosive devices (IEDs) remained intact Sept. 12 after the smoke cleared from a gunbattle between Syrian security forces and at least four attackers outside the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria. Three of the attackers and a Syrian security guard died in the fighting, while a fourth attacker and about 14 other people were injured. No U.S. citizens were among the casualties. At first glance, the incident appears to have been a jihadist attack against the embassy, though if that is the case the perpetrators quite obviously failed to adequately plan and execute the operation.

Not only were the IEDs poorly constructed -- meaning they probably lacked sufficient power to even breach the embassy compound's perimeter wall, let alone damage the interior of the compound -- the attacking force also was completely inadequate for hitting a hard target such as the embassy. The compound is surrounded by Syrian security forces, and guarded on the inside by U.S. Marines. Although small details suggest the embassy was the target, it is hard to believe such an attack would have been so botched.

An analysis of the preliminary details of the attack suggests the Syrian response was swift and aggressive. Plainclothes Syrian security officers appear to have engaged the attackers before they were able to position themselves for the attack. As the shooting began, some of the attackers reportedly ran into a nearby building and continued firing from there. At least two of the attackers reportedly were seen running toward the embassy, firing automatic rifles and throwing at least one grenade. The fighting lasted for 15 minutes to about half an hour, according to different witnesses.

The U.S. Embassy is located in Damascus' Rawda district, an area that also houses many other foreign embassies and Syrian government buildings, as well as palaces used by Syrian President Bashar al Assad. One of these palaces is within 980 feet of the U.S. Embassy, which is partly the reason for the tight security in the area. Because of the number of high-value targets in the area, however, only a serious investigation into the attack would reveal the true target -- and U.S. investigators probably are not going to be allowed close to this one.

Due to the tension between Washington and Damascus, the degree of Syrian surveillance around the U.S. Embassy in Damascus is equal to that which was in place outside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow during the Cold War. In addition to the approximately 30 Syrian guards posted around the embassy on any given day, the compound is under constant and heavy surveillance by Syrian intelligence and security forces. This surveillance begins several blocks out, and all locals in the vicinity are watched by the Syrians as possible U.S. intelligence sources. Anyone acting suspiciously near the embassy immediately attracts the attention of Syrian security forces.

The high level of security in the district, and in Damascus in general, might have prevented the militants from conducting adequate pre-operational surveillance, which would go a long way toward explaining the poor planning and execution of the attack. It would also explain the rapid Syrian response.

damascus_attack.jpg (37831 bytes)

The attackers used two vehicles: a pickup truck topped with a hard camper/cargo shell and rigged with multiple IEDs, and a Mitsubishi Lancer car, possibly ferrying one of the assault teams. After the attack, the truck remained parked against the embassy perimeter. If it was purposely positioned there, it could have been meant to detonate and breach the wall, allowing an assault team to enter the embassy grounds, possibly with the goal of killing U.S. diplomatic personnel. This tactic is not unprecedented, as the December 2004 attack against the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, demonstrates.

The IEDs in the truck appear to have been made locally from propane tanks, each with three pipe bombs taped around them. Propane tanks are used extensively in the Middle East, so a purchase of several tanks would not arouse the suspicions of Syrian security forces. The construction of the IEDs, however, suggests they would not have been effective, even had they exploded. In the first place, the three pipe bombs on each tank would have had to detonate simultaneously to ignite the gas and increase the power of the explosion. Then, all of the IEDs would have to detonate simultaneously -- a more difficult task than it would seem. Finally, even had the gas in the cylinders ignited, the damage probably would have been limited. The lack of effective IEDs and proficiency in their construction suggests the IEDs were not smuggled in from Iraq, and that attackers probably were not linked to al Qaeda in Iraq.

The more-powerful, military-grade explosives easily found in Iraq and used by insurgents to construct IEDs there would have been much more effective than the propane tank and pipe bomb IEDs found at the scene. In addition, Iraq-based insurgents have refined IED construction to an art, while the bombmaker in this attack seems to have been less than proficient.

Witnesses reported that the attackers did detonate an IED inside the Lancer, although photographs taken of the car following the attack indicate the car burned, but did not explode. Even a small pipe bomb inside a vehicle causes more damage than what is evidenced in the photo of the Lancer. Instead, then, the car might have been set ablaze by Syrian security forces' return fire. The truck bomb also failed to detonate, either because it malfunctioned or the person assigned with detonating it was unable to do so.

Although these particular attackers planned poorly regardless of their true target, the U.S. Embassy in Damascus is a vulnerable target. In the first place, the embassy is not an Inman design, a building constructed to include security features recommended by a commission chaired by former Deputy CIA Director Adm. Bobby Inman following the 1983 attacks in Beirut, Lebanon. These features include few windows, anti-vehicle barriers and long standoff distances to the building. Occupying a corner of al Mansour and Atal Ayyoubi streets, the wedge-shaped compound is bordered on two sides by public streets. Like embassies in other diplomatic quarters of old cities, the streets come right up to the compound's walls, meaning there is very little standoff distance -- certainly not as much as recommended by the Inman Commission, and much less than is required for new embassy buildings. In addition, nearby buildings are taller and overlook the embassy, with a view right down into the courtyard.

The incident bears similarities to one in April 2004, when Syrian security forces surprised a car full of gunmen in front of the Canadian Embassy in Damascus. The car was rigged with an IED, possibly for use in an attack against a target other than the Canadian Embassy. The target of that attack remains unclear.

Although the Syrian government has pledged full cooperation with the United States, it is unlikely that Damascus will give U.S. investigators much access to the details of the case. After the 2004 incident, the Syrians refused to allow U.S. investigators into the country, preferring to control all aspects of the investigation themselves. Although the type of operation suggests this was a jihadist effort, should Damascus block Washington from participating in the investigation, the real motive behind the attack will unlikely be revealed any time soon.

STRATFOR

 

Sept 13, 2006

LEBANON, SAUDI ARABIA: Lebanese parliamentarian Saad al-Hariri met with Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Dr. Abdul Aziz Khoja in Lebanon. The two spoke about bilateral relations and developments in the region.

 

Sept 12, 2006

Cyprus detains a ship bound for Syria from North Korea - on Interpol and Israeli tip-off about military cargo

September 12, 2006, 11:24 AM (GMT+02:00)

DEBKAfile’s military sources report the 18 truck-mounted mobile radar systems and three command vehicles, billed as “weather-observation equipment,” were a part of a consignment Iran purchased from North Korea for Hizballah.

The shipment was billed as weather-observation equipment on the freight manifest of the Panamanian-flagged Gregorio 1. Syria was not listed as the consignee. But the Syrian government asked Cyprus to release the seized consignment.

This is the first irrefutable proof that Syria and Iran are in blatant violation of the arms embargo laid down in Security Council resolution 1701.

There is no embargo on arms shipments from North Korea or Cyprus to Syria and it is not clear if the Cypriot authorities intend to impound the cargo in view of the discrepancy between the manifest and the freight.

However, intelligence sources believe the systems aboard the Grigorio 1 are intended to complement the anti-air missiles which have already reached Hizballah via Syria, the main conduit of arms to the Lebanese Shiite terrorists.

The Gregorio 1 which set out from North Korea reached Port Said in Egypt and was on its way to the Syrian port of Latakia when it put into Cyprus to refuel.

 

 

LEBANON, RUSSIA: Russia will send a 350- to 450-member sapper battalion and "a couple of security platoons" to Lebanon in late September or early October, Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said. He added that the force will be entirely made up of contract soldiers and will be deployed outside the framework of the peacekeeping contingent. The units will operate under a bilateral agreement with Lebanon.

 

Sept 11, 2006

UK PM Tony Blair visits Lebanon Monday amid intense security measures and Shiite boycott

September 11, 2006, 10:46 AM (GMT+02:00)

Parliament speaker Nabih Berri, a Hizballah ally left on a foreign trip, the two Hizballah cabinet ministers will be absent from Blair’s meeting wit the government. Pro-Syrian political parties and students threaten demonstrations against the British premier for his position in the Israeli-Hizballah war. A Hizballah cleric attacked prime minister Fouad Siniora for allowing the visit to take place.

Security forces sealed off Beirut’s central district to traffic and riot police were out on the streets as Siniora greeted the visitor at Beirut airport.

Sept 9, 2006

“Ghazi Kanaan in videotape before his assassination reveals names...”

In its September 4 edition, Al Seyassah, an independent daily, reported that: “According to diplomatic information at the UN in New York, there was ‘a possibility that a dramatic surprise might emerge in the investigations into the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Al-Hariri, which might give the Syrian regime in Damascus a deadly blow’, in light of the increasing talk about ‘finding the most truthful evidence which proves that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad himself, along with a few members of his family and close aides, have supervised, minute by minute, the course of the assassination operation since its early stages and months before it occurred, in terms of planning, preparation and execution, in collaboration with Lebanese political, military and security leaders, as well as groups affiliated to a number of parties, factions and Salafi groups’.

“A Gulf diplomat at the UN headquarters in New York, stated that the information – the source of which he preferred to keep out of the spotlight for the time being – pointed out that ‘this mind-blowing surprise was due to the possible existence of a videotape, recorded in picture and sound, by the head of the Syrian military intelligence and former minister of interior…, Major General Ghazi Kanaan, a few weeks before his suspicious ‘suicide’’.

“[The diplomat continued:] ‘In this tape, he revealed the plot to assassinate Al-Hariri from A to Z, with names, dates and the details of the crime from its planning stages until its execution in February 2005, in addition to the reasons which made the head of the Syrian regime make such a move, the most prominent of which is the fact he received false information which claimed that Al-Hariri was planning with foreign and Arab sides to overthrow the Ba’thist regime in Damascus, and that these plans had reached very advanced stages since the issuance of resolution 1559, which called on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon’.

“The Gulf diplomat added in a phone conversation with Al Seyassah in Paris, that ‘the intelligence bodies of Major General Asef Shawkat, Al-Assad’s brother-in-law and the second men in the state today, had information according to which Ghazi Kanaan was planning to leave the regime and resort to the US with all the documents and information regarding the assassination of Al-Hariri, as well as the assassination and attempted assassination plans which preceded and followed it in the ranks of Lebanese politicians and journalists’.

“Also, according to the information of the Gulf diplomat, ‘the Syrian minister of interior (Kanaan), had been placed along with his family members, his aides and followers outside of the security circle of the Ba’th party politicians and businessmen, and under strict observation… He realized that his plans to leave the regime and resort to the US were uncovered, and he was determined to elude [them] sooner. However, everything got out of his control’.

“According to the information, ‘on October 12 2005, and as he had just arrived to his office at the Ministry of Interior, he might have received a phone call or a warning from one of his close aides, regarding the fact that Asef Shawkat and his people were heading personally to confront him with the information they had about his plan to escape and his relations with the Americans. He realized that it was all over, which would justify why he left his office and went home for 45 minutes then came back to the Ministry: he smuggled out the videotape and surrendered it to someone that is not necessarily a member of his family…’

“According to the information of the Gulf diplomat: ‘The regime of Bashar Al-Assad and his brother-in-law, Asef Shawkat, might not know about the existence of Ghazi Kanaan videotape…’ The diplomat expressed his belief that Kanaan might have resisted Shawkat and his people when they confronted him in his office with the information they had about ‘his betrayal of the party and the president’ and that after he realized what was going to happen to him following his arrest, he desperately attempted to use his personal weapon. However, they beat him by shooting him all over his body, then gave him a mercy bullet in the head…” - Al Seyassah, Kuwait

http://www.alseyassah.com/alseyassah/International_1.asp

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Exclusive: Iran resumed weapons airlift to Hizballah via Beirut Friday as soon as Israel ended its air blockade

September 9, 2006, 11:41 AM (GMT+02:00)

Iran’s first post-blockade arms flight departed Dubai Friday, Sept. 8, to test the ground at Beirut international airport for Israeli air force or UN reactions. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the forbidden goods were unloaded and sailed through the airport unhindered. Tehran therefore determined to send two further bulk consignments in the next 48 hours aboard commercial flights from the Persian Gulf.

Our sources report the arms crates listed were on the documents as “computer equipment. Handle with care.” They were offloaded onto trucks which drove in convoy to Hizballah headquarters in Baalbek.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, determined to end Israel’s air blockade on Lebanon, promised solemnly that UN monitors would control incoming passengers and goods at Beirut airport. But he failed to make the Siniora government follow through on this pledge. The Lebanese prime minister immediately barred the airport to UN inspections. The five German air monitors agreed on were only allowed to establish a checkpoint for controlling arms smuggling at a distance of one kilometer from the international airport. DEBKAfile reports they are standing idle because the trucks carrying forbidden cargoes are able leave the airfield and bypass their checkpoint by alternative routes.

At the same time, DEBKAfile’s diplomatic sources report the Israeli government and the UN are colluding to present the expanded UNIFIL project as a big success and a satisfactory formula for enabling Israeli troops to quit Lebanon and fully implementing UN resolution 1701.

In actual fact, the UN deployment by land and sea does nothing to curtail Hizballah’s recovery and rearming. Its only achievement thus far is the acceleration of Israel’s disengagement from the Lebanon scene empty-handed.

Our military sources disclose that Iran is sending Hizballah fresh supplies of anti-tank weapons and for the first time a large quantity of anti-air missiles. The war materiel is coming in by land, sea and air.

The promised Italian, French and Greek rival presence, on the strength of which Israel lifted its air blockade, has been pushed by the Lebanese government out to sea and restricted to a 12-km radius from the coast. The European warships can keep an eye on big freighters approaching Lebanese ports, but cannot keep track of the small vessels reaching Lebanon ports from the northern Syrian ports of Tartus and Latakia. That is where Iranian cargo vessels have been unloading large quantities of arms for Hizballah outside the European fleets’ limits in the last two weeks. Furthermore, Friday, as soon as Israel was persuaded to lift its sea blockade, three Lebanese and Syrian ships crammed with arms for Hizballah departed the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli and after a short voyage hugging the Lebanese coast put into the southern Lebanese port of Sidon, where willing Hizballah hands unloaded their cargo.

On land, the Lebanese-Syrian border is wide open. Three or four arms truck convoys cross into Lebanon every day.

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Israel, Lebanon: Olmert's Loaded Land Offer
September 08, 2006 19 33  GMT


 

Summary

Israel might be willing to hand over the disputed Shebaa Farms to Lebanon should all provisions of the cease-fire that ended Israeli-Hezbollah hostilities be carried out, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sept. 8. Even hinting at giving up the Shebaa Farms to Lebanon, however, further damages Olmert's credibility while providing Hezbollah with another claim to victory against Israel. In spite of this, Israel's symbolic offer is intended to strip the militant group of its legitimacy as a resistance movement and to set Hezbollah up for an Israeli assault in the Bekaa Valley.

Analysis

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sept. 8 that Israel would consider handing over the disputed Shebaa Farms to Lebanon, provided the Lebanese government follows through on its commitment to fully disarm Hezbollah.

The Shebaa Farms is a small area claimed by Lebanon stretching less than 10 square miles between the Israeli, Lebanese and Syrian borders. Israel seized the territory during the 1967 Six-Day War. The area later was declared part of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights of Syria by the United Nations in 1974. In his discussions with Lavrov, Olmert stipulated that the United Nations must officially declare the Shebaa Farms Lebanese territory before Israel will negotiate the land transfer.


The Shebaa Farms is of strategic value to Israel, given its location on Mount Hermon, approximately 5,000 feet above sea level. The territory provides Israel with a vantage point to monitor Hezbollah strongholds in the Bekaa Valley to the north. The Shebaa Farms was also crucial for Israel in the 1967 and 1973 wars against Syria. Israel has used the area primarily as an observation post for signals intelligence and electronic warfare. With Hezbollah having solidified its positions in the valley below the Shebaa Farms, Israel would be sacrificing a key outpost that could potentially be turned over to Hezbollah through its aides in the Lebanese army, giving the militant group the high ground.

Such an elevated position would allow artillery and rocket fire to be targeted by line of sight rather than calculated using a magnetic azimuth. It would also allow adjusted fire to bring northern Israeli cities, such as Qiryat Shemona, a major staging ground for the Israeli incursion into southern Lebanon, into target range. Hezbollah would, however, use the territory with caution in the event of another conflict. The militant group's true effectiveness in the conflict came from drawing Israel Defense Forces (IDF) into unknown fields of fire and close combat in urban areas. In other words, for Hezbollah, a well-defined fortified position with which Israeli forces are intimately familiar could well bring any Hezbollah forces in the Shebaa Farms under heavy shelling and airstrikes.

Beyond its military value, the issue of retaking the Shebaa Farms is grounded on Hezbollah's purpose as a resistance movement. Hezbollah maintains that it has a right to keep its weapons in order to defend Lebanon against Israeli aggression and to retake the disputed area. By hinting at negotiations over the Shebaa Farms, Olmert is looking to strip the resistance movement of its purpose and expose Hezbollah's true intent to retain its military credentials.

Removing the Shebaa Farms cause will amplify Lebanese government pressure on Hezbollah to completely dismantle its military arm, in an effort to prevent another devastating conflict with Lebanon's southern neighbor. Hezbollah has steadily entrenched itself in the Lebanese political system to prepare for this day of reckoning, and its fighting days are still far from over. The group has already successfully manipulated the cease-fire demand that it remove its military presence in the south.

Meanwhile, Iran is in the middle of an aggressive campaign to assert its influence throughout the arm of the Shiite crescent extending into the Levant, and will be unwilling to sacrifice its potent military asset in Lebanon at this time. Moreover, Hezbollah is fully aware Israel will not allow its military prowess against a guerrilla group to remain in question. Once Israel sorts itself out internally -- in the form of a major government upheaval that likely will see Olmert replaced -- IDF will revisit its objective of crippling Hezbollah by launching an assault against the group's strongholds in the Bekaa Valley. Recent Hezbollah movements indicate the group is already preparing for this eventuality.

The Shebaa Farms offer also allows Israel to destabilize Syria's relationship with its proxies in Lebanon, as the Syrian regime will be sweating over the idea of Israel cementing a separate deal with Lebanon while the Syrian claim to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights is left in the dust.

Given these considerations, Olmert's offer to negotiate over the Shebaa Farms appears to be largely disingenuous. If Hezbollah ignores the offer and retains its arms by sticking to its right to defend Lebanon in future conflicts, as Olmert expects, Israel will be able to brand Hezbollah as an Iranian agent. Olmert can then try to shore up international support for Israeli action to neutralize Hezbollah forces in the Bekaa. In the meantime, however, he will be taking a political hit by discussing a deal regarding the Shebaa Farms; the move will make him look weak on national security by appearing to award the symbolic Hezbollah feat of forcing an Israeli compromise on the disputed territory.

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Sept 8, 2006

Israel lifts its sea blockade of Lebanon after ending air siege Thursday

September 8, 2006, 1:09 PM (GMT+02:00)

Israeli warships pulled back from Lebanese shores Friday as Italian naval units moved in under the UN flag.

Prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Amir Peretz were accused of folding under intense pressure from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan without the UN, Lebanon or Hizballah meeting any of Israel’s six conditions for ending the embargo (and accepting the August ceasefire):

1. No sign of life was elicited from Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whose abduction by Hizballah July 11, triggered the Lebanon war – or even a Red Cross visit. This has left a bad feeling in the army over the fate of men falling into enemy hands.

2. Hizballah will not be evacuated from South Lebanon or disarmed.

3. The deployment of UNIFIL-2 and its European components in South Lebanon is being used by Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni as a ploy to pull Israel’s troops out of Lebanon without achieving any of their avowed goals.

4. The prime minister’s office in Jerusalem Wednesday night, Sept. 6, cited the UN and US as assuring Israel that UN forces are prepared to begin executing their mission. No mission description was attached to the notice, because the European contingents have made it abundantly clear that they have no intention of disarming Hizballah.

5. Neither are the “peacekeepers” lifting a finger to halt Iranian and Syrian weapons consignments to Hizballah. Indeed the flow of arms has increased since their arrival, making a mockery of UN Resolution 1701 which ordered an embargo on such arms at the same time as it mandated their deployment.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the smuggled arms supplies to Hizballah, far from halting have been stepped up. Iran and Hizballah are further pumping arms into the Gaza Strip. This week alone, Palestinian terrorists took delivery of 400 RPG anti-tank rockets and 15 Grad missiles.

Egyptian border forces and European monitors posted at the Rafah terminal provided no bar to the traffic.

Given the missed goals of Israel’s venture into the Lebanon war, it is no wonder that Binyamin Ben Eliezer, minister of infrastructure in the Olmert cabinet and a former defense minister, said bluntly Wednesday Sept. 6 that this was Israel’s worst defeat in all the wars it fought. Domestic criticism of the government spreads day by day as the bizarre, muddled and incomprehensible nature of the prime minister’s war decisions continues to mark his actions three weeks later.

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Sept 4, 2006

Former Syrian VP Khaddam: The Syrian Regime 'Aims to Drag Lebanon into Civil War'


Former Syrian VP Khaddam: The Syrian Regime 'Aims to Drag Lebanon into Civil War'


In an August 28, 2006 interview with the Lebanese TV channel Al-Mustaqbal, former Syrian Vice President 'Abd Al-Halim Khaddam, who is today an expatriate leader of the Syrian opposition, ridiculed senior Syrian officials' excuses for non-intervention in the recent Israel-Hizbullah war. Khaddam argued that the Syrian regime's refusal to mark the borders with Lebanon is a pretext aimed at continuing the resistance in southern Lebanon, since, he said, these borders "can be marked on the map within an hour." He also revealed information that, following Israel's May 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon, while he was still serving as vice president, Syria issued instructions to portray the liberation of the Shab'a Farms as one of the goals of the Lebanese resistance, a goal that had not been named in the past.

The following is a translation of the main points of the interview:



All Elements in Lebanon Must Accept the Fact That the State is the One That Makes the Decisions

"The guarantee that there will be no second round [of the war] is the [establishment] of national Lebanese unity, and [when] all Lebanese elements will accept the state as the one that makes the decisions and has the responsibility. But if things remain as they are... then the problem will move to the intra-Lebanese arena..."


Hafez Al-Assad Gave an Order to Prevent Resistance in the Golan

"In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon and the war became a direct [war] between us and Israel on Lebanese soil. We fought in Beirut, in the mountains, [and] in the Beqaa and we stopped the Israeli advance between 'Ayn Zhalta and Sultan Ya'aqoub in the western Beqaa region. Then came the decision for a cease-fire. After that, [then-Syrian president] Hafez Al-Assad decided to exhaust Israel in Lebanon. [Even before that,] when Hafez Al-Assad decided that traditional war with Israel had become impossible because of what became clear during the [1973] October War, he gave strict orders to the [Syrian] armed forces and security apparatuses to prevent all resistance activity in the Golan. This was because any response by Israel would have reached the internal Syrian arena...

"Thus, in 1982, when the decision was made, we began to encourage the Lebanese parties to carry out resistance activities [in Lebanon]..."


Top Syrian Officials' Explanations for Syria's Non-Intervention in August 2006 War are All Excuses

"[Syrian President] Bashar Al-Assad is fearful and apprehensive about war developing and reaching Syrian territory... As far as he is concerned, the war can be conducted in Lebanon without Syria being forced to bear any military burden. If you ask me about the value of the Syrian-Lebanese military agreement, which is part of the [military] contract between them, [I will say] that it has been proven to be [just] a piece of paper.

"[They claim to have] an excuse. Some of the senior officials close to Bashar Al-Assad have said it: 'What prevents us from intervening [in the war] is the Separation of Forces Agreement [between Syria and Israel] in the Golan [Heights]'... [Yet] Israel violated this agreement when it attacked at 'Ayn Al-Saheb. They said, 'If the Israeli forces approach Syria's borders, we will intervene.' [Yet] Israeli forces are on Syrian lands in the Golan. Bashar Al-Assad said in his [August 15, 2006] speech that Israel was defeated in the first days. If indeed it was defeated in the first days, why was this defeat not exploited in order to intervene in the Golan and to liberate it?"


There Can Be No Resistance in Syria While the Syrian People Itself is Held Prisoner

"How can there be resistance in Syria when the Syrian people sees itself as a prisoner, when a [Syrian] intellectual says three words and is [immediately] arrested, and when the Syrian people is stripped of its freedom, oppressed, and plundered by the ruling family?..." (1)


There Must Be Relations of Equals Between Syria and Lebanon; Today There is No Place for Syrian-Lebanese Unity

"What is the difference between Lebanon and any other Arab state? This is absolutely not the time to establish unity between Syria and Lebanon. [The idea of] such unity has never [even] crossed our minds. Syrian-Mauritanian unity [will come] before [Syrian]-Lebanese unity... In my experience with the intricacies of the Lebanese situation, I say that there must be relations of equals between Syria and Lebanon, and this will serve the interests of both countries. Why shouldn't there be diplomatic relations between Syria and Lebanon?"


Syrian Objections to Marking the Border at Shab'a Farms is an Excuse in Order to Continue the Resistance

"Marking the Syria-Lebanon border requires [nothing more than] diplomatic will... Even the borders between Saudi Arabia and Yemen are marked, despite the disputes that have continued for over a century. Why shouldn't the Syria-Lebanon [border] be marked? The occupation has nothing to do with this... They can be marked on the map within an hour...

"Actually, [Syria's objections] to marking the border is a pretext aimed at justifying the continuation of the resistance movement in the South. [Liberating] the Shab'a Farms was not one of the aims of the resistance [i.e. Hizbullah]. No one spoke of the Shab'a Farms. [They started talking] about them [only] after the [May 2000] Israeli withdrawal [from Lebanon]. This was an order that came from Syria."


Assad Aims to Drag Lebanon Into Civil War so as to Close the Investigation of the Al-Hariri Assassination and to Return to Lebanon

"It is clear that the Syrian regime has two aims: The first is to drag Lebanon into civil war, so as to close the investigation of the assassination of [former Lebanese] prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri... The second aim of the Syrian regime is to bring about a situation in which matters in Lebanon will blow up, and then [Syria's] allies [i.e. Hizbullah] will manage to take over Lebanon – which will enable the Syrian regime to return to Lebanon..."


The Decision to Assassinate Al-Hariri was Made by Bashar Al-Assad

On the assassination of Rafiq Al-Hariri, Khaddam said: "Bashar Al-Assad knows what he's doing. [He knows] how the decision [to assassinate Al-Hariri] was made, how the crime was carried out, and who took part in it... No security operation could be executed in Syria without the decision of the president. Could Rustum Ghazale have taken a ton of explosives from the army's warehouse [without Assad's knowledge]? Could Rustum Ghazale have brought in the group that laid the explosives, tailed [the victim], and carried out [the assassination] without [Al-Assad's] knowledge? My answer is that this is a decision that came from the president...

"I reiterate and say to Bashar Al-Assad that I am convinced that the investigation will reach him, and he knows this... The Syrian regime will fall... The life expectancy of this regime is short, and Bashar Al-Assad's last speech [on August 15, 2006] will be his farewell [speech]."(2)

Endnotes:
(1) Recently, the Syrian government press has been threatening that there will be resistance in the Golan that will fight Israel "as the Lebanese resistance fought it." See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1264, "Syrian Government Press Threatens War in the Golan: 'Those Who... Call for Peace Must Always Support the Resistance,'" August 25, 2006, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP126406 .
(2) Al-Mustaqbal (Syria), August 28, 2006.

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Spy fever sweeps Hizballah after breaking up two Israeli Mossad rings which included Lebanese Shiite agents

September 4, 2006, 9:57 AM (GMT+02:00)

Hizballah’s dreaded Special Security Apparatus is reported by our intelligence sources in Beirut and Israel as having broken up two spy rings of Lebanese agents which the Israeli Mossad planted inside Hizballah before and during the Lebanon war.

One worked out of Beirut, the second in South Lebanon.

The two networks, according to DEBKAfile’s sources, planted bugs and surveillance equipment at Hizballah command posts before and during the war. They also sprinkled special phosphorus powder outside buildings housing Hizballah’s war commands and rocket-launchers as markers for air strikes.

Israel warplanes and helicopters were able to hit these locations with great accuracy.

Well before the war, the Beirut ring had penetrated the inner circles of Hizballah high-ups and was reporting on their activities and movements to Israeli controllers. Its center was located in Beirut’s Shiite district of Dahya, the Hizballah stronghold. Short anonymous phone calls would give agents their rendezvous for picking up orders and spy equipment and dead drops for relaying their information.

The second network was composed of two cells operating out of the village of Itrun opposite Kibbutz Yaron and Bint Jubeil further west. Run by veterans of the South Lebanese Army (the force Israel created during its occupation), its job was to “paint” targets for the Israeli Air Force and artillery.

Their leader was Mahmoud al-Jemayel. Envelopes with their orders and espionage devices were left at a pre-assigned spot along the security fence on the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Halil Mantsur, an Itrin villager, was in charge of communications through the security fence; Muhammed Bassem, a Shiite from Bin Jubeil, ran field operations. The ring had 20 operatives recruited from South Lebanese villages and a number of Palestinians from the camps around Tyre and Sidon. They were paid $500 per month for spying on Hizballah. A local taxi driver drove the operatives to their assignments and returned them to their homes.

The Beirut ring was the more sophisticated. In addition to tactical intelligence-gathering, its wings spread outside Lebanon. Its leader, Faisal Mukleid, 29, a Shiite from Jarjuara village, was captain of small freighters which carried smuggled drugs and stolen goods between Mediterranean ports on the Italian and Egyptian coasts.

In 2000, Mukleid was picked up by the Italian navy in a customs raid. In a cell awaiting trial, he was contacted by the Mossad. In no time, he was sprung and flown to Israel where he spent several months learning how to use eavesdropping and surveillance equipment.

The Lebanese Shiite sea-captain’s first mission in Lebanon was to recruit relatives and fellow Shiites and get them planted inside the Hizballah leadership. Towards the end of the year, he and his wife joined up as members of Hizballah. Their devotion and zeal was such that they were soon promoted to the high ranks of the organization. Together with the agents they recruited, they quickly reached positions on the personal staffs of top political and military leaders, whom they accompanied more than once on trips to Tehran.

Exposing the Israeli spy rings in their midst has made Hizballah’s top people extremely jumpy and suspicious. One of their discoveries from an inquest of the war they fought with Israel in July and August is that their command structures in South Lebanon were heavily penetrated by agents working for Israel intelligence. Now they are looking over their shoulders for spies they may have missed. Tuesday night, Aug. 29, Hizballahs’ security officials detained two non-Lebanese Arabs wandering around the ruined Dahya district, taking photos and drawing maps. Several forged passports were found in their possession.

The captured Israeli agents are locked up in Hizballah jails awaiting their fate. The Hizballah security service has drawn up dossiers for their indictment, but is uncertain how to proceed. The Lebanese prosecution authorities, once dominated by Syrian influence, can no longer be counted on for convictions. 

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“Lebanese Security” Is the Pretext for the Naval Babel around Lebanon’s Shores

DEBKAfile Exclusive Military Report

September 4, 2006, 11:37 AM (GMT+02:00)

The extraordinary buildup of European naval and military strength in and around Lebanon’s shores is way out of proportion for the task the European contingents of expanded UNIFIL have undertaken: to create a buffer between Israel and Hizballah.

Close investigation by DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources discloses that “Lebanese security” and peacemaking is not the object of the exercise. It is linked to the general anticipation of a military clash between the United States and Israel, on one side, and Iran and possibly Syria on the other, some time from now until November

This expectation has brought together the greatest sea and air armada Europe has ever assembled at any point on earth since World War II: two carriers with 75 fighter-bombers, spy planes and helicopters on their decks; 15 warships of various types – 7 French, 5 Italian, 2-3 Green, 3-5 German, and five American; thousands of Marines – French, Italian and German, as well as 1,800 US Marines.

It is improbably billed as support for a mere 7,000 European soldiers who are deployed in Lebanon to prevent the dwindling Israeli force of 4-5,000 soldiers and some 15-16,000 Hizballah militiamen from coming to blows as well as for humanitarian odd jobs.

A Western military expert remarked to DEBKAfile that the European naval forces cruising off Lebanese shores are roughly ten times as much as the UNIFIL contingents require as cover, especially when UNIFIL’s duties are strictly non-combat. After all, none of the UN contingents will be engaged in disarming Hizballah or blocking the flow of weapons incoming from Syria and Iran.

So, if not for Lebanon, what is this fine array of naval power really there for?

First, according to our military sources, the European participants feel the need of a strong naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean to prevent a possible Iranian-US-Israeli war igniting an Iranian long-range Shahab missile attack on Europe; second, as a deterrent to dissuade Syria and Hizballah from opening a second front against American and Israel from their eastern Mediterranean coasts.

Numbers alone do not do justice to the immense operational capabilities and firepower amassed opposite Lebanon. Take first the three fleet flagships.

From France’s nuclear-powered 38,000-ton Charles De Gaulle carrier (see insignia), 40 Rafale M fighter craft whose range is 3,340 km can take off at intervals of 30 seconds. The ship also carries three E-2C Hawkeye surveillance craft. The combat control center of the French carrier can handle 2,000 simultaneous targets. The carrier leads a task fore of 7 warships carrying 2,800 French Marines.

Charles De Gaulle s also a floating logistics center operating water desalination plants for 15,000 men and enough food to feed an army for 90 days.

The USS Mount Whitney (the tallest snowcapped peak in the United States), has the most sophisticated command and control suite in the world. Like the French Charles De Gaulle , it exercises command over a task force of 1,800 sailors, Marines, Air force medical and other personnel serving aboard the USS Barry, the USS Trenton , HSV Swift and USNS Kanawha .

Available to the fleet commander, US Vice Admiral J. “Boomer” Stufflebeem, formally titled commander of Joint Task Force Lebanon, is the uniquely advanced C41 command and intelligence system through which he can flash intelligence data to every American commander at any point between the eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf and Iran. USS Mount Whitney communications are described as unsurpassed for the the secure transmission of data from any point to any other point in the world through HF, UHF,VHF, SHF and EHF.

The third carrier joining the other two is the Italian aircraft-helicopter carrier Garibaldi , which has launch pads for vertical takeoff by 16 AV-8B Harrier fighter-bombers or 18 Sikorsky SH-3D Seak King sea-choppers (or Italian Agusta Bell AB212 helicopters), designed to attack submarines and missile ships.

Military experts estimate that the Garibaldi currently carries 10 fighter planes and 6 helicopters.

The new European naval concentration tops up the forces which permanently crowd the eastern Mediterranean: the Italian-based American Sixth Fleet, some 15 small Israeli missile ships and half a dozen submarines and the NATO fleet of Canadian, British, Dutch, German, Spanish, Greek and Turkish warships. They are on patrol against al Qaeda (which is estimated to deploy 45 small freighters in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean). The British have permanent air and sea bases in Cyprus.

This vast force’s main weakness, according to DEBKAfile’s military sources, is that it lacks a single unified command. A sudden flare-up in Lebanon, Syria or Iran could throw the entire force into confusion.

On paper, it has three commanders:

1. French General Alain Pellegrini is the commander of the expanded UNIFIL ground, naval and air force in Lebanon. In February 2007, he hands over to an Italian general who leads the largest of the European contingents of 3,000 men. It is hard to see France agreeing to place its prestigious Charles De Gaulle flagship under non-French command.

2. The American forces opposite Lebanese shores are under direct US command. Since the October 1993 debacle of an American peace force under the UN flag in Somalia, Washington has never again placed its military under UN command. (There is no American contingent in the UNIFIL ground force either.)

In other words, USS Mount Whitney , while serving the European fleets as their operational and intelligence nerve center will stay under the sole command of Vice Admiral Stufflebeem in all possible contingencies.

3. Similarly, the NATO fleet will remain under NATO command, and Israel’s air and naval units will take their orders from Israeli Navy Headquarters in Haifa and the General Staff in Tel Aviv.

The naval Babel piling up in the eastern Mediterranean may therefore find itself at cross purposes when action is needed in an armed conflict. Iran, Syria and Hizballah could be counting on this weakness as a tactical asset in their favor.

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Israel: War With Syria Would Be Full Scale
September 04, 2006 14 50  GMT


 

If Israel went to war with Syria, it would conduct full-scale operations and "do away the limitations on the use of force we placed upon ourselves in Lebanon," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Israeli parliament's defense panel Sept. 4, according to local media.

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Sept 3, 2006

How the IDF blew chance to destroy short-range rockets

By Ze'ev Schiff

A large number of the short-range rockets fired at Israel from southern Lebanon were launched from permanent positions, the Israel Air Force discovered by chance toward the end of the war. The discovery was made after an air strike burned away vegetation, revealing a dug-in Katyusha position on a permanent launch pad. Additional permanent positions were subsequently discovered.

If the tactical intelligence of the Northern Command was unaware of the existence of hundreds of permanent short-range rocket launching positions in South Lebanon, then this is a major intelligence failure. If the Northern Command knew of them and did not pass on detailed information to the air force, then this is a serious failure in the management of the war.

Short-range rockets were one of the biggest problems in Hezbollah's war of attrition against Israeli civilians. The size of these rockets - sometimes small enough to be carried on the back of a donkey, on a motorcycle or by one or two men - made then difficult to pinpoint.

Hezbollah managed to fire a large number of Katyushas during the war - as many as 240 in one day toward the end of the fighting. The rockets, stored near the launch points in underground shelters or houses, were usually aimed with a direction and trajectory precalculated to hit a specific target in Israel. They were usually set up in orchards by arrangement with the grove owners, who were paid by Hezbollah.

The two-by-three-meter positions consisted of a hydraulic launch pad in a lined pit. The pad could be raised to fire the 122-mm rockets from a launcher at its center, and then lowered and camouflaged with vegetation. The farmers received instructions by cell phone regarding the number of rockets to launch and in what direction and range. They were often provided with thermal blankets to cover the position in order to keep IAF aircraft from detecting the post-shooting heat signature.

If the IAF had had details regarding the permanent positions of these short-range rockets, it is reasonable to assume the results of the struggle against them would have been different at the end of the fighting.

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Aug 30, 2006

Lebanon: Hezbollah Rearms
August 29, 2006 23 40  GMT


Summary

New indications suggest Hezbollah is receiving shipments of small arms and anti-tank munitions from Syria.

Analysis

Sources in Lebanon indicate Syrian arms shipments are passing into Lebanon. Mules, rather than vehicles, are moving small arms, ammunition and some anti-tank munitions over the Anti-Lebanon Mountains along the Lebanese-Syrian border, across the Bekaa Valley and up into the western mountains, particularly through the Greek Orthodox mountain village of Bteggrine. From here, with the assistance of the Syrian Social Nationalist party, the shipments can reach Hezbollah in the southern suburbs of Beirut, where they can be dispersed south.

Hezbollah does not, however, appear to be moving these arms south of the Litani River, where the bulk of fighting took place during the recent conflict with Israel. Many more arms are probably being stockpiled inside the Bekaa, Hezbollah's main stronghold.



Significantly, no signs indicate shipments of artillery rockets are occurring. The larger Fajr series, which Hezbollah has called the Khaiber-1 and were used to strike Haifa, are difficult to transport without motor vehicles in meaningful numbers. This signals Israel is effectively interdicting large shipments of weapons into Lebanon. Israel is watching supply lines from Syria very closely, and Lebanese citizens have become accustomed to the drone of Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles conducting surveillance.

While these small arms would certainly be useful in a guerrilla war inside of Lebanon, Hezbollah has other options. Some Hezbollah elements are particularly concerned about a renewed Israeli offensive, especially after the virtually inevitable fall of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. But Hezbollah is in a remarkably good position as reconstruction money pours in and the militant group basically rebuilds all of southern Lebanon, thus becoming the de facto landlord with a new source of substantial income: rent. To this end, Hezbollah is going out of its way both to avoid provoking Israel and to rebuild its domestic support structure, while at the same time preparing for the next confrontation.

Meanwhile, Syria has kept its border with Lebanon wide open, and has virulently refused to allow U.N. peacekeeping troops to deploy along the Lebanese-Syrian border. In addition to allowing Hezbollah to maintain supply routes past Lebanese soldiers patrolling the border, Syria has preserved its main pressure tactic against Lebanon. Whenever Lebanese politics show signs of diverging from Syrian interests, Syrian customs officers severely restrict the flow of goods over the Lebanese-Syrian border as a stern reminder to its neighbor that as the country's chief fuel supplier Syria controls Lebanon's power switch.

The Lebanese army has, however, deployed its Eighth Brigade along its border with Syria. The Eighth Brigade is entirely Christian and fought against Syria in 1989, making for a strong historical animosity. The Lebanese army could not send a stronger message opposing the rearming of Hezbollah. Thus, we will be watching to see whether the Eighth Brigade can effectively interdict these pack animal shipments or whether they continue to slip through.StratFor

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First wave of arrests inside Hizballah of suspected informers to Israeli intelligence

August 29, 2006, 11:54 AM (GMT+02:00)

No commissions of inquiry for Hassan Nasrallah. Our exclusive sources learn that Hizballah’ special security service has begun rounding up suspects in the northern Beqaa Valley, Baalbek and South Lebanon of members and others suspected of tipping off Israel intelligence on the location of the storehouse holding the heavy Zelzal missiles.

Those missiles, no more than three or four, were held in reserve as Hizballah’s most devastating strategic weapon against Israel, capable of hitting Tel Aviv.

Monday, Aug. 28, prime minister Ehud Olmert revealed for the first time that the Israeli air force destroyed those missiles in the first 34 minutes of the Lebanon war on July 12. Nasrallah needs urgently to find the leak through which the missiles’ place of storage and very existence, one of Hizballah’s most tightly kept secrets known only to very few top leaders of the organization, reached Israel.

The first arrests were made among people living in the vicinity of the missile cache.

More arrests have been carried out in the Shiite communities who live near or are connected with the Hizballah intelligence and secret command centers in Baalbek, which were targeted by Israeli air strikes and commando forays.

Intelligence sources reveal that Hizballah’s special security apparatus is focusing on two lines of inquiry:

1. Israel’s Aug. 1 commando raid on the Deir al Hikhma hospital in Baalbek.

2. The series of Israeli incursions in the course of the war in the hills northwest of Baalbek, where Hizballah’s main command center, including its intelligence headquarters, are hidden underground in well fortified quarters – and are still in place.

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Aug 29, 2006

-- The Fatah movement rejects a demand by the Lebanese government that Palestinians in refugee camps in Lebanon's Litani River area disarm as required by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, senior Fatah leader in Lebanon Monir Al-Makdah said in an interview with Jordanian newspaper Al-Dostur published Aug. 28. The Lebanese government had made the demand to Fatah representative in Lebanon Abbas Zaaki.  


-- Hezbollah has evacuated 14 bases along the Israeli-Lebanese border by bulldozing posts and erecting barriers to prevent access to its underground tunnel system, Lebanese security forces told the Jerusalem Post on Aug. 28.


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Aug 28, 2006

Hassan Nasrallah’s apologetic speech Sunday night contrasts starkly with his rapid rearmament of Hizballah‘s war machine

August 27, 2006, 11:32 PM (GMT+02:00)

Hizballah’s leader said in a broadcast speech Sunday night that he would not have ordered the kidnap of two Israeli soldiers had he know it would lead to war.

DEBKAfile reveals the other side of the picture: While saying mildly that in his view a second round of the war is not indicated, Nasrallah has just finished reconstituting his Southern Nasser Brigade command (short range Katyusha rockets) in the port town of Tyre after collecting its elements form various south Lebanese villages to the east. His fighters reached Tyre at the same time as French UNIFIL troops landed in the same port but were not noticed by the TV cameras focusing on the French landings.

DEBKAfile’s Beirut sources report Nasrallah goes in fear of an Israeli attempt on his life. Hizballah’s re-armament is therefore proceeding cautiously, rapidly and inconspicuously. For the same reason, he appears to be avoiding a meeting with the UN secretary Kofi Annan who is due in Beirut this week. The local UN office is trying to set up this meeting because Annan would regard as a major feat of diplomacy. However Nasrallah is afraid its venue would leak out and Israeli warplanes would find him.

Similarly, he has called off a victory parade he had planned to stage next week in the southern Beirut Shiite suburb of Dahya among the ruins left by Israeli air strikes. Nasrallah had planned to stand on a platform and take the salute of his armed men as they marched past with Fajer-3 and Fajer-5 rockets. This would have shown the Israelis that Hizballah’s rocket might was still intact after their bombardment. But an intelligence tip-off that the Israeli air force and navy were waiting to bomb the parade persuaded him to cancel the event.

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Aug 26, 2006

European Lebanon Force Is Cast as Shield for Iranian-Hizballah Military Buildup

DEBKAfile Special Analysis

August 25, 2006, 8:37 PM (GMT+02:00)

Whereas Israel initially conceived of a multinational force as a guarantee of its border security against terrorist attack and a boost for the Lebanese army to displace Hizballah, the European governments contributing contingents to this force have their own ideas – and interests.

Less than two weeks into the UN-brokered ceasefire, the swiftly-evolving situation in Lebanon is casting the international force in the role of protector and shield for the rapid buildup of a new, beefed up Iranian-Hizballah military deployment in Lebanon up to the Israeli border.

The force dubbed by Kofi Annan UNIFIL-2 has no operational plan to enforce the UN arms embargo which would entail stemming the heavy flow of Iranian arms shipments entering Lebanon day by day along two Syrian tracks.

Long, heavily laden convoys are heading from the Syrian ports of Latakia and Tartus to the Lebanese Beqaa Valley, bringing Hizballah its first heavy missiles - the Russian-made Scud-B adapted by Iran as Shahab-1, which has a one-ton warhead and range of 350 km. A second track brings 3-5 Iranian air cargoes every day to Syrian air bases near the Lebanese border.

Neither does the European force, to be led until February 2007 by France, plan to hinder the operation of the Iranian Revolutionary Forces command center ensconced since last week on the Syrian side of the Lebanese border. The four Iranian generals at this center have taken direct command of Hizballah, which has the distinction of being the first terrorist group ever to be supplied by a UN member-state with the armaments of a national army.

Despite this ominous buildup on Israel’s northern border, foreign minister Tzipi Livni is pushing hard for the European force, which will number at most 6,000 troops, to move into position and allow Israeli troops to pull out.

So far, France has pledged 1,600 troops, Italy 3,000 and Belgium 400 soldiers to the expanded UNIFIL, mandated to police southern Lebanon. Greece, Finland, Spain and Holland may also pitch in. It will operate outside the bounds of NATO. The United States and Israel will have no say in its operations. This makes sense because the last thing on the minds of the European governments at this point is Israel’s security.

As for its attitude towards the US, the European Union’s leaders believe that success in boosting the 60,000-strong Lebanese army (40% of whom are Shiites) sufficiently to extend the Fouad Siniora government’s sovereignty to the whole of Lebanon would earn Europe the credit for having gone one better in Lebanon than the United States in Iraq.

As peacekeepers, they could pull this feat off without having to fight anyone - or even disarming Hizballah. It should not be too hard to persuade Siniora and Hassan Nasrallah to go along with the pretence that Hizballah’s armed militia has been integrated in the national army of Lebanon, exactly like the Shiite Badr Organization and Wolves have been ostensibly incorporated in the Iraqi national army.

Hizballah and the Iranians have no reason to disturb the peace and the international force’s deployment on the Lebanese-Israeli border, because under cover of this deployment a process contrary to Resolution 1701 will be going forward. It is starkly symbolized by the large pictures of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamnei, mushrooming alongside Nasrallah’s along the highways and byways of Lebanon.

Beirut and other parts of Lebanon are in the process of falling under the expanding domination - not of the Siniora government, but of Hizballah and its Iranian master. Meanwhile their fighters are training on the new state of the art weaponry and setting up new military positions ready for their next chance to resume the war against Israel.

However, European imaginations and ambitions soar way beyond Lebanon.

Its capitals were abuzz this week with talk of a revamped UNIFIL under a combined European command serving as the military arm of the European Union.

After pacifying Lebanon, they see units of the force relocated to the Palestinian Authority as a buffer between the Palestinians and Israel in Gaza and the West Bank.

In Rome and Madrid, some officials were enthusiastic enough to postulate European contingents for Iraq as dividers between American forces and insurgents until US troops are ready to depart Iraq.

Israeli must ask itself how far this European self-interest serves its security needs and what use UNIFIL-2 will be when Israel is faced with a fresh military threat from Iran and its Lebanese surrogate.

Given Europe’s motivations, foreign minister Livni’s policy of encouraging the EU to establish a presence in Lebanon is far from serving Israel’s national interests. It looks as though the Olmert-Livni-Peretz leadership has learned nothing from the first round of the Lebanon conflict and the dire consequences of the blunders committed by Israeli governments the last six years. Like its predecessors the incumbent government in Jerusalem prefers to hide its head in the sand.

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AMAN chief reports container ships packed with weapons for Hizballah are being unloaded at Syria’s northern port of Latakia

August 24, 2006, 6:21 PM (GMT+02:00)

The hardware from Iran is smuggled across the border and onward to South Lebanon, said Maj. General Amos Yadlin in his briefing to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Wednesday, Aug. 24.

DEBKAfile adds: Weapons deliveries through Syria are entering Lebanon at an accelerated pace, mostly by convoy through the northern Lebanese border. The Israeli Air Force is no longer impeding the traffic although it has been given an all-clear from Washington.

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Ahmadinejad inaugurates heavy water plant which can manufacture plutonium for weapons

August 26, 2006, 1:43 PM (GMT+02:00)

Touring the site at Khondab near Arak, 190 km southwest of Tehran Saturday, Aug. 26, the Iranian president said Iran is not an atomic threat – even to Israel. But five days before the UN deadline for Iran to halt uranium enrichment, he boasted the Arak plant will be able to produce 16 tons of heavy water a year.

This is taken by DEBKAfile’s military sources as confirmation that, in addition to accelerated uranium enrichment, Iran has embarked on a second technology for producing fuel for nuclear warheads – plutonium as a by-product obtained from the Bushehr nuclear reactor.

On the uranium track, European sources in Vienna revealed last week that Iran has acquired P-2 centrifuges to speed up the pace of enrichment.

Tehran is thus doubly defying the West and the UN after sending a fudging response to the incentives package on offer for abandoning enrichment.

DEBKAfile notes that Tehran has made no secret of these menacing advances in its nuclear program. They were openly unveiled last week. But because no hard American or European rejoinder was forthcoming, the Iranians pushed ahead with further admissions: Wednesday, Aug. 23, a senior official in Tehran forecast another dramatic announcement on Iran’s nuclear program; Saturday, Ahmadinejad pulled the heavy water rabbit out of his hat.

The United States, Europe and Israel have every reason to be fearful of the course on which Iran is speeding forward pell-mell.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report Tehran is taking encouragement from the quiescence of the Bush administration and Israel on two linked issues: a European force for Lebanon which announces in advance that it will not disarm Hizballah or bar its acquisition of massive quantities of war materiel from Iran and Syria; and Iran’s nuclear advances. No one is stopping the rulers of the Islamic Republic’s campaign to neuter UN resolutions, UN nuclear watchdog’s injunctions and diplomacy of any kind. They are therefore free to follow up the Lebanon war with new and aggravated attacks on Israel - conventional by Hizballah and eventually, nuclear by Iran.

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Kofi Annan rides roughshod over Israel’s security concerns, leaves wide holes in expanded UNIFIL force

August 26, 2006, 1:44 PM (GMT+02:00)

UNIFIL-2, which will deploy in two stages starting early September, “will not be used along Lebanon’s long and porous border with Syria to stop any shipments of arms reaching Hizballah,” the UN secretary admitted Friday night from Brussels.

This confirms DEBKAfile’s report Friday that Israel has failed to obtain a pledge to enforce the UN embargo on arms for Hizballah’s rearmament from Iran and Syria.

Annan also stated: “Troops are not going in there to disarm – let’s be clear.” Disarming Hizballah, he said, is a subject for “political agreement among the Lebanese -” (a direct contradiction of UN Security Council resolution 1552)

Annan also spoke of “international guarantees” to secure Israel against further attacks. In other words, that is not UNIFIL’s job.

The UN Secretary General will go ahead with raising more international soldiers from Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh, despite their refusal to maintain diplomatic relations with Jerusalem. He said he would take the best peacekeepers “wherever he can find them “– even if Israel does not accept this.

The Muslim contingents will supplement the 6,900 soldiers 12 European governments have pledged. Italy which succeeds France as leader of the force next February deploys the largest unit of 3,000 men, followed by France’s 2000 troops, Spain’s 1,000, Poland’s 500 and 250 from Finland.

French defense minister Alliot-Marie (picture) told the Wall Street Journal that Paris had obtained a very important clarification permitting its troops to use rubber bullets against “anyone standing in their way.”

Foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the force would mark out “exclusion zones,” in which armed militias would be disarmed, as “the best way to remove Hizballah’s weapons.”

Neither French minister referred to the non-exclusion zones, from which it may be inferred that there, Hizballah fighters would be allowed to bear arms.

The Italian foreign minister, Massimo D’Alema, who can’t wait to plant a European military presence in the Middle East, is even more relaxed about holding Hizballah to UN resolution 1701. After all, he says, Europe does not regard Hizballah as a terrorist organization. He repeated Annan’s statement and declaredItaly would not engage in disarming Hizballah fighters.

Hizballah spokesmen say that the “exclusion zones” issue is under study. DEBKAfile’s Beirut sources have learned that Iran’s Shiite proxy is considering opposing exclusion zones in Lebanon unless they are extended to northern Israel. This condition would hold up the UNIFIL-2 deployment in Lebanon until such time as Israel withdraws its troops - not only from Lebanon, but also from defensive positions on the Israeli side of the border including Galilee, two weeks after its civilian population endured a 4,000-rocket Hizballah blitz.

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US ambassador John Bolton: Washington is working on a parallel diplomatic track against Iran outside the UN – LA Times

August 26, 2006, 1:35 PM (GMT+02:00)

Under US terrorism laws, Washington could ramp up its own sanctions including financial constraints on Tehran and the interception of missile and nuclear materials en route to Iran, Bolton said. The US is encouraging other countries to follow suit.

He was voicing long-standing US frustration with Security Council inaction on Iran. Friday Russia rejected sanctions after Tehran agreed to continue talks but refused to halt enrichment.

“You don’t need Security Council authority to impose sanctions,” said ambassador Bolton. He refused to provide details on the countries that might be willing to join in sanctions because of the sensitivity of the talks.

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Aug 24, 2006

DEBKAfile reports Tehran and Syria jointly fan war tensions to undermine America’s Security Council positions on Iran’s nuclear program and the Lebanese ceasefire

August 24, 2006, 10:22 AM (GMT+02:00)

Our Washington and Jerusalem sources report intelligence predictions of an impending revival of the Lebanon war and its spread to the Golan. Tehran and Syria are turning up the heat to obstruct Western moves to curb Iran’s advance on a nuclear weapon and nullify the embargo on arms for Hizballah.

A senior Iranian spokesman announced Wednesday night, Aug. 23 that his government was on the brink of a “dramatic” nuclear development. Some Tehran sources surmise an announcement will be made on significant Iranian advances in uranium enrichment following a breakthrough in activating P-2 centrifuges. This would constitute blatant defiance of the UN and an affront to the six powers and their offer of incentives for halting enrichment.

Already, two days before Iran handed in its response to the offer, a Tehran official announced that the Arak heavy water plant would soon be operational. Iran had thus set its feet squarely on two tracks for achieving the fuel for a nuclear weapon – enriched uranium and plutonium.

Damascus, for its part, has threatened three times in two days to close the Syrian-Lebanese border if a multinational force is posted there to monitor the arms embargo’s implementation. DEBKAfile’s military sources expect Syria to make good on its threat by staging violent incidents against any peacekeepers posted on the Lebanese border, matching them with skirmishes on the Syrian-Israeli border dividing the Golan. Hizballah will chime in with attacks on the Israeli troops deployed in South Lebanon until an international force can take over - and the UN-brokered ceasefire in Lebanon will come crashing down.

Wednesday night, Damascus and Tehran were shown to be in tight coordination when an Iranian official in Tehran revealed the rise in Syria of a new guerrilla group dedicated to challenging the IDF on the Golan in the same way that Hizballah fights Israel. He made it clear that Tehran was solidly behind Syria’s military initiatives.

Amid deep pessimism in the White House, the UN secretary Kofi Annan is being sent post haste to Israel, Lebanon and possibly Syria and Iran. Part of his mission will be to seek guarantees that Hizballah will refrain from shooting at multinational troops deployed in the south. To hold water, those guarantees must emanate from Syria and Iran. The key to easing the rising war tensions would be a substantial bribe for Tehran, such as a promise from Annan to block American moves for sanctions in the August 31 Security Council meeting on Iran’s non-compliance with the enrichment ban. Since the UN secretary cannot make such a promise, the war tension will continue to escalate and the prospect of a multinational force for Lebanon will remain elusive. No government is prepared to place its soldiers in the line of fire. But rather than blaming the impasse on the saber-rattling and intransigence of Tehran and Damascus, Israel will most probably be held to account for keeping its army in Lebanon and refusing to lift the air and sea embargo curbing the flow of arms to Hizballah.

 

Aug 23, 2006

DEBKAfile Exclusive: American electronic warfare experts in Israel to find out how Hizballah’s Iranian systems neutralized Israeli EW

August 23, 2006, 3:18 PM (GMT+02:00)

>DEBKA-Net-Weekly 266 first drew attention to Iran’s heavy EW investment and its successful functioning in the Lebanon War on Aug. 11, 06. This first account will be followed up in the next DNW issue out on Friday, Aug. 25.

DEBKAfile on Aug. 23 adds: The American EW experts are interested in four areas. 1. The Israeli EW systems’ failure to block Hizballah’s command and communications and the links between the Lebanese command and the Syria-based Iranian headquarters. 2. How Iranian technicians helped Hizballah eavesdrop on Israel’s communications networks and mobile telephones, including Israeli soldiers’ conversations from inside Lebanon. 3. How Iranian EW installed in Lebanese army coastal radar stations blocked the Barak anti-missile missiles aboard Israeli warships, allowing Hizballah to hit the Israeli corvette Hanith. 4. Why Israeli EW was unable to jam the military systems at the Iranian embassy in Beirut, which hosted the underground war room out of which Hassan Nasrallah and his top commanders, including Imad Mughniyeh, functioned.

From DEBKA-Net-Weekly 266:

Until the watershed date of July 12, 2006, when the Hizballah triggered the Lebanon War, Israel was accounted an important world power in the development of electronic warfare systems – so much so that a symbiotic relationship evolved for the research and development of many US and Israeli electronic warfare systems, in which a mix of complementary American and Israeli devices and methods were invested.

In combat against Hizballah, both were not only found wanting, but had been actively neutralized, so that none performed the functions for which they were designed. This poses both the US and Israel with a serious problem in a further round of the Lebanon war and any military clash with Iran.

DEBKAfile’s military sources add: Both intelligence services underestimated the tremendous effort Iran invested in state of the art electronic warfare gadgetry designed to disable American military operations in Iraq and IDF functions in Israel and Lebanon. Israel’s electronic warfare units were taken by surprise by the sophisticated protective mechanisms attached to Hizballah’s communications networks, which were discovered to be connected by optical fibers which are not susceptible to electronic jamming.

American and Israeli experts realize now that they overlooked the key feature of the naval exercise Iran staged in the Persian Gulf last April: Iran’s leap ahead in electronic warfare. They dismissed most the weapons systems as old-fashioned. But among them were the C-802 cruise missile and several electronic warfare systems, both of which turned up in the Lebanon war with deadly effect.

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Some Lebanon War Riddles Solved and Their Relevance to Moves on Syria in Jerusalem Explained

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

August 22, 2006, 7:11 PM (GMT+02:00)

Apparently out of the blue, a clutch of Israeli ministers - Amir Peretz, defense, Tzipi Livni, foreign affairs and Avi Dichter, internal security – have evinced a burning desire to talk peace with Syrian president Bashar Assad and even a willingness to discuss handing over the Golan captured in the 1967 war.

Monday, Aug. 21, prime minister Ehud Olmert stepped in with a reminder: Thousands of Hizballah missiles striking Israelis came from Syria, he said. Until that stops and the Palestinian terrorist commands are ejected from Damascus, we have nothing to discuss with Syria.

But the damage was done. Assad himself must have wondered what he had done to deserve this sudden attention from an American ally after three years of helping Baathist insurgents and al Qaeda fight US forces, hosting the most radical Palestinian groups including Hamas and Jihad Islami, and engineering the murder of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

The Israeli ministers’ timing was unfortunate; Syria continues to pump arms to Hizballah and Israeli soldiers are still deployed in Lebanon, holding the line against Hassan Nasrallah’s men and their Syrian and Iranian sponsors.

Furthermore, the Saudi king Abdullah and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, for whose regimes the Syria-Iran-Hizballah pact poses an existential threat, must be stewing in their palaces over the senior Israeli ministers’ decision to go a-wooing after the Syrian president.

DEBKAfile’s political, military and Washington sources offer some disclosures to account for this apparently illogical behavior:

1. After refusing to see Iran’s long arm behind the Hamas in Gaza in the aftermath of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza a year ago – in which those ministers played a lead role – they were dismayed to find themselves again face to face with Iran on a second front, behind Hizballah in Lebanon. And should Assad make good on his threat last week and go to war on the Golan, Israel will be hedged in by Tehran and its strategic partner on a third front. They therefore chose what looked like a quick fix for cutting Syria out of the hostile Iran-Syria-Hizballah-Hamas-Jihad Islami equation: Offering the Golan to appease Assad.

The only trouble is that such a step would continue the land-for-peace policy which failed so strikingly in 2000 in Lebanon and in 2005 in Gaza - and which has been made irrelevant anyway by the outcome of the Lebanon war and the looming threat from Iran.

2. The second part of the ministers’ rationale is even more troubling.

The open letter of grievances signed by officers and men of the Israeli army’s crack Alexandroni Brigade shocked and still puzzles the entire nation. The lack of clear decisions was manifested, they said, in the failure to act, the non-implementation of operational plans and the cancellation amid combat of missions assigned the unit. The result was that the unit was deployed too long in hostile country without any operational purpose for reasons that were unprofessional and, moreover, held back from making contact with the enemy. In every stage of the war, cold feet were evident in decision-making.

The writers of the letter sensed the cold feet at the top but lacked the information to explain its cause or account for the cancellation and shifting about of mission directives in mid-battle.

That was one of the riddles of the Lebanon War.

Another was hinted at last week when Israel’s deputy chief of staff Maj-Gen Moshe Kaplinsky revealed that at 1200 noon, July 12, four hours after Hizballah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed eight in a cross-border raid, no one on the general staff had any notion a war was in the offing.

A DEBKAfile investigation has uncovered some facts that would help explain some of the mishaps.

The knife-edge threat that caught the Israeli army unprepared was welcomed in Washington. Our sources close to the Bush administration have learned that secretary of state Condoleezza Rice embraced the opening for an Israeli offensive against Hizballah in Lebanon. Vice President Dick Cheney also favored an Israeli air strike but worried about the lack of an Israeli plan for a parallel ground offensive. One of his aides later expressed the view that Olmert and Halutz had been cautioned that air offensives unaccompanied by ground assaults never achieved strategic goals, as the Americans discovered after bombing Baghdad at the start of the Iraq war in 2003.

But the Israeli prime minister and chief of staff insisted that the air force was able to inflict a shock defeat on Hizballah and produce a fast and cheap victory.

US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was leery about any Israeli military offensive against Hizballah, fearing complications for the US army in Iraq at the peak of a surging sectarian civil war.

But Olmert talked Rice into asking President George W. Bush to back the air offensive. The US president acceded – only laying down two basic conditions: Israel must confine itself to an air campaign; before embarking on a ground offensive, a further American go-ahead would be required. The second was a promise to spare Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure and only go for Hizballah’s positions and installations.

The conditions when relayed by the secretary of state were accepted by the prime minister. The first explains why Israel’s ground forces were held ready in bases for three long weeks rather than being sent into battle - up until the last stage. By then, the air force offensive had proved a long way short of fast and cheap; worse, it had been ineffectual.

The second condition accounts for another of the war’s enigmas: Israeli forces were not allowed to destroy buildings known to be occupied by Hizballah teams firing anti-tank rockets because it would have meant destroying Lebanese infrastructure.

This brought Israeli forces into extreme danger; they were forced to come back again and again to repeat cleansing operations in villages and towns close to the Israeli border, such as Maroun a-Ras, Bint Jubeil and Atia a-Chaab. This exposed them to Hizballah’s attrition tactics at the cost of painful casualties.

Only in the third week of the war, when the Bush administration saw the Israeli air force had failed to bring Hizballah to collapse, and the campaign would have to be salvaged in a hurry, did Rice give the green light for ground troops to go in en masse to try and finish off the Shiite terrorist group. Then too, an American stipulation was imposed: Israel troops must not reach the Litani River.

The Israel army did embark on a tardy wide-scale push to the LItani River and as far as Nabatia and Arnoun, but was soon cut short in its tracks. American spy satellites spotted the advance and Olmert was cautioned by Washington to hold his horses.

This last disastrous order released the welter of conflicting, incomprehensible orders which stirred up the entire chain of command - from the heads of the IDF’s Northern command down to the officers in the field. Operational orders designed to meet tactical combat situations were scrapped in mid-execution and new directives tumbled down the chute from above. Soldiers later complained that in one day, they were jerked into unreasoned actions by four to six contrary instructions.

None of the commanders at any level could explain what was going on because none were party to the backroom decision-making at the prime minister’s office. According to our sources, Olmert kept his exchanges with Condoleezza close to his chest and members of his cabinet and high army command firmly out of the process. The prime minister even kept the chief of staff out of the picture and did not explain why he was called on to chop and change tactics in the heat of war.

Olmert’s absolute compliance with Rice’s directives without fully comprehending their military import threw Israel’s entire war campaign into disorder.

Because of the muddle, supply trucks could not locate units and had to leave them without food and water, the subject of one of the bitterest complaints.

This botched sequence of decisions and their consequences also ties in with the fishing expedition in Damascus subsequently embarked on by senior Israeli ministers.

It appears that Condoleezza Rice was not exactly happy with the way the war turned out, nor with the failure of diplomacy to bring Lebanon’s hostilities to a satisfactory conclusion or even to deploy an effective multinational force to stabilize South Lebanon. She therefore decided to explore the chances of luring Bashar Assad away from the Iranian fold. This is a tentative idea which has not ripened into a policy - much less gained a White House go-ahead. But as soon as word was leaked to Jerusalem, several Israeli ministers jumped aboard – Peretz first, followed by Livni, who there and then created a Syrian Project Desk at the foreign ministry, the education minister, Yuli Tamir and finally, on Monday, Dichter.

These ministers know that the Olmert government stands on shaky legs against the spreading wave of popular disaffection over its management of the Lebanon war, its cost and its outcome. The clamor for a state inquiry is the least of the public’s demands. For government members who are caught between a fragile truce in Lebanon and a tenuous government, any distraction – even a reckless feeler towards a declared enemy – may look attractive.

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Newspaper Report: Israel to Buy 2 German Submarines to Counter Iranian Threat


Israel has signed a contract with Germany to buy two submarines to bolster defenses against a perceived threat from Iran, which it suspects wants to acquire nuclear weapons, a newspaper said Wednesday.


The two Dolphin-class submarines, called U212s, will be assembled in Germany and fitted with a propulsion system allowing them to remain underwater for far longer than submarines already in use by the Israel navy, the Jerusalem Post said.

The state-of-the-art submarines, manufactured by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG, will be bought by Israel for 1.27 billion dollars, a third of which will be financed by the German government, the English-language daily said.

The U212s are designed for a crew of 35, have a range of 4,500 kilometers and can launch cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheads, according to Jane's Defense Weekly.

Israel's defense ministry was unable either to confirm or deny the report.

The navy already has three German submarines -- the most expensive weapon platforms in Israel's arsenal. Germany donated the first two submarines after the 1991 Gulf War and split the cost of the third with the Jewish state.

The Jerusalem Post also said the navy was considering installing an underwater sonar system off the coast to detect foreign submarines.

In November 2004, Israel spotted a mystery submarine in its territorial waters, which a naval official said was a foreign vessel on a spying mission.(AFP)  

Beirut, 23 Aug 06, 09:50

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Aug 21, 2006

Israel’s Amir Peretz recommends preparation for the next round of the Lebanon War

August 20, 2006, 2:32 PM (GMT+02:00)

Speaking to the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday, the defense minister added: The Lebanese army must not be allowed to deploy on the Israeli border without UNIFIL. Army chief Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz: The Lebanon war did not end in a knockout, but Israel won on points.

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The White House says Israel’s Baalbek operation underlines the need for an expanded and effective UNIFIL to stop Hizballah from re-arming as required by UN resolution

August 21, 2006, 8:29 AM (GMT+02:00)

UN Secretary Kofi Annan: Israeli Baalbek raid violated Lebanon truce.

He offered this view after speaking to Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert who defended the raid as necessary to disrupt the flow of arms to Hizballah from Iran and Syria.

Lebanon earlier threatened to halt the deployment of troops in the south unless the UN Security Council responded to the Israeli commando raid near Baalbek, E. Lebanon, early Saturday, Aug. 19, in which an Israeli officer was killed and two were injured. Three Hizballah were also killed and two taken prisoner.

Israel views weapons consignments from Iran and Syria for Hizballah as violations of the arms embargo laid down in UN Security Council resolution 1701.

A US state department official said the Israeli raid in Lebanon may have breached the ceasefire on its sixth day. The White House says it will not criticize Israel over strike in the Beqaa because UN resolutions forbid Hizballah to bear arms

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DEBKAfile Reports: Turkey forces one Syrian, 5 Iranian arms planes to land at Diyarbakir military base

August 20, 2006, 11:47 AM (GMT+02:00)

Six Iranian ILDT type 4-cargo planes and a Syrian aircraft were forced to land at the southeast Turkish military airport last Thursday after US spy satellites spotted they were loaded with missiles, missile launchers and eight boxes of Chinese made C-802 missiles, dubbed by Iran “Nur.”

DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose: The flights were bound for Damascus and Syrian military air bases just across the Turkish border. The C-802 is the advanced ground-ship missile which crippled the Israeli Navy’s gunship off Beirut, and killed three of its crew on July 14, two days after the outbreak of the Lebanon war. Searches by the Turkish authorities disclosed that one of the planes was carrying crates of Fajer rockets which Hizballah fired at Israeli towns. Two of the Iranian cargo planes have not been permitted to take off from Turkey unless they fly back to Iran.

Four flights, carrying light ammunition including anti-tank weapons, were allowed to complete their journey to Syria after their pilots presented documents proving they were purchased in Iran for the Syrian army.

DEBKAfile adds: This is the first time American military satellites have been openly revealed to have aided in the UN embargo against arms transfers from Syria and Iran to the Hizballah.

DEBKAfile’s military sources also disclose that the Iranian and Syrian cargo flights were bound for three Syrian military airfields, two of which were transferred at the end of July to the control and supervision of the air wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The flight carrying the C-802 missile was destined for the military section of Damascus’ Mezze international airport. The launchers and Fajer rockets would have been unloaded at Syria’s Nasiriya air base, 40 km from the Lebanese border. The anti-tank rockets and ammunition were bound for al Qusayr, north of Damascus and only 25 km from Lebanon’s northern Beqaa Valley.

Iranian Advisers Influence Course of Lebanon/Israel Conflict
Aviation Week & Space Technology
08/14/2006, page 20

David A. Fulghum
Washington
Douglas Barrie
London

New operations, advanced weapons, Iranian advisers are influencing the course of Lebanon/Israel conflict

Printed headline: The Iranian Connection

New operations, advanced weapons, Iranian advisers are influencing the course of Lebanon/Israel conflict

The Iranian government has a cadre of "hundreds" of technical advisers in Lebanon that trained, and continue to support, Hezbollah forces in the use of sophisticated anti-ship and anti-tank missiles and unmanned aircraft. No evidence has yet emerged, however, that the Iranians are actually operating any weaponry in the fighting, say U.S. officials.

"It's not just a matter of turning weapons over to Hezbollah," a U.S. intelligence official says. "They also have to provide the training [for such advanced weapons]." Other munitions possessed by Iran (particularly those bought from Russia) have not been used in the Lebanon/Israel conflict, because the provenance would be obvious and, in some cases, "the Iranians don't want to be associated with that," he says. Nonetheless, "there is evidence that Iranians are in the country training Hezbollah." They remain in Lebanon, but until late last week appeared to have avoided direct participation in combat.


A CHINESE-DESIGNED C-802 ANTI-SHIP missile, displayed at a military parade in Iran, was the likely weapon used by Hezbollah to damage an Israeli corvette and sink a civilian cargo ship.

That situation may have changed, however, with the discovery of papers on the bodies of soldiers killed in Southern Lebanon on Aug. 9 that identified them as members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. "There's a possibility they could have been operating systems, but they weren't necessarily fighting. It could have been a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time," the intelligence official said.

"Despite a couple of reports that the Iranians were at the controls of rocket launchers in the early part of the conflict, that's not our conclusion," the U.S. intelligence official says. "The group was originally in the hundreds. We haven't seen any large numbers leave." The Iranian government denies that they have advisers or trainers in Lebanon. The U.S. State Dept. says the Iranians provide arms and funding, but won't answer questions about advisers. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sources put the number of advisers at about 100.

U.S. ANALYSTS WON'T confirm that the Hezbollah UAV shot down in the Mediterranean by Israeli fighters last week was operated by Iranians or even Iranian-trained insurgents. But, obtaining the aircraft and learning how to launch and program its flight "would have taken outside help," the intelligence official says. Hezbollah's first recorded incursion into Israeli airspace with a UAV occurred in late 2004.


PIECES OF A UAV WITH HEZBOLLAH MARKINGS on its twin vertical stabilizers were pulled from the sea off Israel after it was shot down by an Israeli fighter. A detached piece of flaperon (center of photo above) is apparently from a forward canard wing. The aircraft was blown to pieces by an air-to-air missile. An intact UAV is to the right.

An IDF infrared video taken from high altitude, directly over the interception, shows an Israeli F-16 (from 110 Sqdn. at Ramat David AB) attacking the UAV. Shortly before coming abreast of the unmanned craft, the fighter fires what was likely a Python 4 missile controlled by a helmet-mounted sight. The missile makes a rapid turn of more than 100 deg. and strikes the UAV, just after the fighter passes it. The film may have been doctored to hide the true infrared picture of the Israeli fighter.

Fragments of the UAV recovered from the water by the IDF shows a 10-ft.-wide wing broken in two at the fuselage with twin vertical stabilizers (marked with Hezbollah insignia) well inboard of the wingtips (see center photo). An unattached flight control appears to be from the smaller canard airfoil attached to the forward fuselage.

International aerospace industry officials, without being specific, say that countries other than Iran are also working with various insurgent groups in the region, including Hezbollah. They point out Russian anti-aircraft missile sales to Syria and the Mar. 3 visit of a Hamas delegation to Moscow. U.S. intelligence analysts say Syria is supplying some arms to Hezbollah, but not at the level of Iran, nor does it appear to have training cadres in Lebanon. They contend that while Chinese weaponry is being used, it was either transferred in the 1990s or came from illegal sales through intermediaries. The U.S. recently announced a two-year trade sanction against arms trader Rosoboronexport for selling the TOR-M1 (SA-15 Gauntlet) air defense missile system to Iran. That move may backfire since Russian support is critical to U.N. approval of any U.S.-orchestrated cease-fire agreement in Lebanon.


So far, the most spectacular use of a Chinese weapons system was the attack on the Hanit, an Israeli Saar 5 missile corvette. Hezbollah operators appear to have fired two C-802 anti-ship missiles in a high-low flight profile against the Israeli ship. The turbojet-powered C-802 has a range of up to 120 km. (74.5 mi.) and a 155-kg. (341-lb.) blast-fragmentation warhead. Damage to the Saar 5 did not reflect a direct hit by a weapon in this class, however, which suggests either a glancing blow or a partial warhead failure. Two impact areas appear to be visible on the Hanit--one amidship, the other at the front of the helicopter deck. Both are just above the waterline. The second missile sank a merchant ship. Other analysts are suggesting that the Hanit may have been hit by one or more short-range missiles while a single high-trajectory C-802 served as a decoy for the ship's defenses. That view may be supported by the fact that the ship appears to have been within the minimum range required by the C-802 to function properly.

Iran is a recipient of the C-802. A brochure published by Iran's aerospace industries organization's cruise systems group describes both ship- and truck-launched versions of the missile, known as Noor in Iran. The launch vehicle illustrated can carry three missiles. Also described is the radar and command vehicle for the system.

Russian-made RPG-29s from Iran and Kornet-E and Metis-M anti-tank missiles provided by Syria have been used in massive volleys as key weapons in tank ambushes that disabled some of Israel's top-of-the-line Merkava III heavy tanks.


THE ISRAELI AIR FORCE'S NEWLY OPERATIONAL Heron/ Eagle I UAV is providing persistent surveillance of the battlefield for the first time, but Hezbollah rocket launchers remain elusive targets.Credit: Elbit

IRAN REVEALED a further addition to its UAV inventory--what appears to be an anti-radiation drone known as Toufan 2--in a military parade earlier this year (AW&ST Apr. 24, p. 59) (see photo p. 20). Israeli officials had described the UAV fished out of Israeli waters last week as a Mirsad-1 built by Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries. However, the debris appears to be that of a related, but slightly larger, canard-wing Ababil-3 (Swallow). Israeli sources say a few dozen Lebanese were trained to operate the aircraft by members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah was supplied with up to eight of the vehicles. Hezbollah officials claim the aircraft can carry 40-50 kg. of explosives deep into Israel, but U.S. analysts questioned the claim because of the 3-3.25-meter wingspan and 10-25-hp. engines attributed to that size UAV. Israeli analysts suggested the Ababil might just edge into the 40-kg. payload class.

There also is some suspense in the U.S. intelligence community about the weaponry still in Hezbollah's arsenal. There is growing concern about long-range missiles (such as the 210-km. Zelzal-2) that can reach Tel Aviv and the SA-18 surface-to-air munitions. Syria purchased them from Russia, but despite speculation they may have been passed to Hezbollah, they have not yet been used in the current conflict.

Senior U.S. officials in Iraq earlier had validated that the advanced anti-aircraft missile was in the region as early as 2004 and that it might be employed against U.S. aircraft, particularly lower-flying helicopters. The SA-16 had been used, they confirmed, leading the U.S. Army to change routes, altitude and tactics for its helicopters and low-flying transports. Israeli strike aircraft don't appear to be operating in either missile's altitude envelope; however, slow-flying UAVs do fly as low as 10,000 ft. which could make them a target. Israeli Air Force officials have pointed to persistent UAV observations as a crucial component for round-the-clock bombing campaigns.

But while the shoulder-fired SAMs are troublesome, the weapons that might change the complexion of the conflict for the worse are the long-range, surface-to-surface missiles.

The U.S. has no solid information about the true operational intent of the Israelis, the intelligence official says. However, if Hezbollah does as it promises and uses new, longer-range missiles to strike Tel Aviv, "Israel will retaliate in a strong way," he says. "When we were evacuating U.S. citizens, the Israelis agreed to give us a clear corridor out [of Lebanon]. But now they've made a mess of the country. It's difficult to move around with the damage they've inflicted."

AS A RESULT, there isn't much more physically for the Israelis to attack. Other than continuing to strike Hezbollah strongholds in south Beirut, there are few targets. But with the cease-fire nearing, a surprise launching of Hezbollah's longer-range rockets could happen at any time, the U.S. official warns.

"There's not that much more [for the IAF] to destroy that will be productive, so they will go after the Hezbollah leadership which is pretty much dug in and has not moved across the border into Syria," the intelligence official says.

By last week, Israel's Ministry of Defense tallied 4,400 targets that had been struck in Lebanon since July 12. During the same period, a full-time Hezbollah force of 2,000-4,000 combatants launched more than 3,500 rockets at Israel. That's a small percentage of the arsenal of 10,000-12,000 rockets and 1,000-1,500 launchers (of which about 300 have been destroyed) that Hezbollah assembled before the war along the Lebanon-Israel border started, the U.S. intelligence official says. Many of the missiles and launchers are stored in civilian dwellings and in a complex of tunnels, which allows operators to move into the open, fire and return to hiding within minutes, he says.

Israeli forces will try to go as far north and east as possible--likely to the Syrian border--before a U.N.-sponsored cease-fire is enforced, says the U.S. intelligence official.

"None of this fighting will have done them any good if their [occupying] forces can be flanked by the Hezbollah without going into Syria," he says. "No doubt the Israelis will try to hang on to a buffer area of 8-12 km. and they won't withdraw before the cease-fire. History shows us that the territory you have at the cease-fire is where the boundaries are drawn."

Iran: The Ascendant Threat
Aviation Week & Space Technology
08/14/2006, page 58


Now that Iran is known to have abetted--or instigated--Hezbollah's attack on Israel with advisers, not just weapons (see p. 20), it's possible to see the fighting in southern Lebanon for what it is. Until now it has seemed to be a relatively contained conflict in which a nation is defending itself from a terrorist group, albeit with a risk of escalation and disturbing civilian casualties on both sides. Now, it's clear that far more is involved, and far more is at stake.

The ability of a small but determined minority to rob its country or a neighboring country of peace and stability is nothing new. The Irish Republican Army, separatists in Spain and rebels in Chechnya, among other groups, have followed this path. On Israel's other borders and inside that nation itself, so has Hamas.

What's different here is the growing influence of Iran. It seems clear that Iran is emerging as the most potent military force in the Middle East, now that the U.S. has eliminated Iraq as a counterweight. Keeping nuclear weapons out of Iran's arsenal may now depend on diplomacy, given uncertainty about U.S. intelligence capabilities and whether military action against Iran would be feasible, much less wise. And now, Iran has a puppet in Lebanon, a surrogate to visit on Israel the hatred of the region's extremists and sweep along the moderate Arab states.

Hezbollah is different, too, in its capabilities. This is no ragtag bunch firing rocket-propelled grenades from behind wrecked cars. They are capable of that, but through Iran's patronage they also are proficient with U.S.-designed TOW anti-tank weapons, Chinese ground-to-ground missiles, several types of Russian anti-armor weapons and Iranian UAVs. Hezbollah has become more sophisticated in hardware and tactics during the past few years.

This is asymmetric warfare taken a step forward. Iran's combination of oil wealth and religious fanaticism, and the ready availability of arms, has made it so.

It will be much more difficult to end Iran's influence in Lebanon than it was to oust Syria a few years ago, but this is a necessary first step in restoring the Israel-Lebanon border and Lebanon's control over its own territory. Establishing a peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon will be equally difficult and equally necessary. Iran is a player in all of this, and unlike Syria, Iran doesn't need or want financial or political help from any other country. The combination of financial independence and political volatility is a potent bargaining advantage.

But this is where the situation is leading everyone. The U.S., seen increasingly around the world as having taken Israel's side, almost inevitably will be a follower, not the leader. Asymmetric warfare in Iraq and Lebanon is giving two of the world's most powerful, technologically advanced military machines far tougher problems than they ever would have expected. Let's just hope that U.S. defense strategists take to heart the lessons that come out of these experiences.

Israel Tries To Identify Latest Hezbollah Rocket Threat
Aviation Week & Space Technology
08/07/2006, page 28

Robert Wall,
Paris
David A. Fulghum
Washington
Douglas Barrie
London

Israel continues to attack Hezbollah's rocket arsenal, but larger and more destructive threats loom

Printed headline: Harsh Trajectories

Israel's ability to sustain prolonged around-the-clock air combat operations is partially due to fielding of sophisticated sensors. But the technology advance has not enabled the Israelis to avoid costly targeting missteps, or to suppress the Hezbollah rocket threat or pinpoint the adversary's weapons supplier.

Hezbollah rocket launchers have been a primary target for the Israeli air force's F-15s, F-16s and bevy of unmanned aircraft, which have all been fitted with electro-optical/infrared sensors to spot and engage those targets. And, while launchers are taken down daily, the rate of Hezbollah operations appears unaffected, and there are signs of potential escalation in the projectiles' lethality and range.

Moreover, information gathered by the airborne sensors is raising as many questions as it answers for military planners, particularly when it comes to identifying the main suppliers of weaponry to Hezbollah.


Israeli air strikes have revealed unusual rocket launcher configurations that can't always be clearly identified. Credit: IDF

For instance, Israeli officials say most of the Hezbollah arms used appear linked to a Syrian supply chain, rather than an Iranian one--although the latter would also have to come through Syria. The strength of the Syrian connection is highlighted by the use of the 220mm. Urugan rockets, says an Israeli official. The weapon was developed by the Soviet Union, and has been exported to Syria.

Launchers seen in Lebanon differ from the Soviet design, with only one layer of four tubes rather than the standard three layers, two with six tubes and one with four. Officials suspect the change was made to accommodate a lighter vehicle.

But Israel isn't always certain where the weapons originated. For instance, while the 302mm. system resembles the Chinese WS-1 mounted on a more modern vehicle, the official says, it doesn't appear to be the Chinese system. Moreover, that configuration has not been seen in Iran, he adds, although the basic WS-1 has been exported there. The launchers feature two layers of three firing tubes each.

So far, four types of surface-to-surface unguided rockets have been identified, with the longest firing covering about 100 km. (62 mi.). This shot occurred from Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.

In addition to the launchers, the Israeli air force is targeting what it claims to be key elements of Hezbollah's infrastructure. The air force has been using U.S. GPS-guided bombs and possibly laser-guided GBU-28s, along with Israeli systems, likely including the Spice family of electro-optically guided 1,000- and 2000-lb.-class munitions.

One former Israeli air force officer points out most missions are being flown at night. "It's more than 50% and it's due to the technology. In the past, fighters have been restricted at night. In this war, night is not a factor," he says. In fact, night operations are better because the Hezbollah fighters feel protected by the darkness.


Raids have relied heavily on precision weapons, such as the Spice missile family. Credit: Rafael

Meanwhile, military planners also are bracing for Hezbollah to start using more capable weaponry. As of late last week, Israeli officials suggested they had seen no evidence of Hezbollah using either the Fajr-3 or Fajr-5 Iranian-developed rockets. The 240mm.-dia. Fajr-3 has a 40-km. range, while the 333mm. Fajr-5 can span about 75 km.

However, Israeli officials have seen signs the 210-km.-range Zelzal-2 could make a battlefield appearance, which they believe would represent clear Iranian involvement. The weapon had not been fired as of late last week, but Israeli air force pilots reported spotting and destroying at least one launcher. While the Zelzal isn't viewed as highly accurate, the Israeli official says the 600-kg. (1,323-lb.) warhead would be adequate to do significant damage.

Zelzal employment could provide Israel the best chance of an active air defense, however, which is something it doesn't have against the lower-trajectory, shorter-range weapons. The Zelzal-2 flight profile is similar to the shorter-range ballistic missiles Iraq fired during the 2003 war, which were intercepted by Patriot batteries.

ALSO PUZZLING ISRAELI officials is the infrequency of the use of long-range rockets. Designed as rapid-fire, multiple-launch systems, attacks so far have been carried out one shot at a time, even though the launchers are cumbersome to set up. By far the largest number of firings have come using the shorter-range 122mm. Grad-type, both in a basic and extended-range version.

Unmanned aerial vehicles are providing the Israeli forces persistent surveillance with electro-optical/infrared and synthetic aperture radar. "Electro-optical sensors are integrated on the F-15s, F-16s and UAVs and they are the best we've ever had. The video is great. The video from the UAVs is particularly good because they are sitting 10,000-15,000 ft. directly over the target looking straight down with the minimum of atmospheric haze," says the former senior officer.

He notes that Israel, after leading for years in air combat operational capabilities, now is trying to catch up with the networked, around-the-clock pace the U.S. has been refining since 2001.

Limitations remain, and highlight Israel's poor human intelligence in Lebanon, compared to the West Bank and and Gaza Strip. The July 30 attack on a building in Qana that killed dozens of civilians made the targeting problems all too apparent. Late last week, Israeli officials defended the Qana raid, which involved two missiles, the second a dud. They note that 150 rockets were launched from within the village of Qana and insist they were operating with information no civilians were at the site. Israel will review its rules of engagement, the defense ministry says, but with a clear indication it will not rein in pilots' ability to act.


Ground incursions into Hezbollah positions, such as the village of Maroun A-Ras, have also taken placeCredit: IDF

Israel operations have also been aided by the expedited delivery of weapons from the U.S. And while 16 daily passes by U.S. reconnaissance satellites are allowing Washington to keep a close watch on the region, the extent of intelligence-sharing with Israel isn't known.

In the past five years, Israel has been honing its urban combat operations, with unmanned aircraft providing target imagery and building coordinates, allowing missile-firing helicopters to remain outside of the lethal range of man-portable air-defense weapons. Tow missiles have long been a preferred option for Israeli helicopter pilots in urban scenarios, because they view them as more accurate than the Hellfire. Tow missiles also appear to have found favor with Hezbollah--images of a haul of captured weapons show Tow cases, with a 2001 date stenciled on the side of the box.

HEZBOLLAH IS KNOWN to have a variety of shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, although it is not clear how much these are being used in the conflict.

Moreover, Israeli air force officials say they have been employing their full complement of aviation assets, from F-15s and F-16s to Apache and Cobra attack helicopters to CH-53s andUH-60s. In addition to the large number of unmanned aircraft, officials acknowledge the modified King-Air Tzufit reconnaissance aircraft also has been used.

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Aug 19, 2006

Lt. Col. Emmanuel Moreno, 35, from Tlalim, one of Sayeret Matkal’s most outstanding commanders, was killed in Saturday pre-dawn commando raid at Bodai, 30km NW of Baalbek. Two Hizballah were taken prisoner.

August 20, 2006, 1:37 AM (GMT+02:00)

Two Israeli soldiers were injured – one seriously. Three Hizballah were killed. The IDF reports the commando unit’s mission was accomplished.

A high-ranking officer commented on the report that the unit returned with two Hizballah prisoners: “Undercover wars cannot be fought through the media. We carried out our mission and brought home what was necessary.”

DEBKAfile’s military sources add that the Bodai covert mission was one of a series the IDF has been carrying out against Hizballah’s clandestine units since the Lebanon war began. These units are made up of Hizballah’s top specialists in terrorism and undercover combat and are more dangerous than the men in the field.

One of the objectives of the Israeli commando raid was to disable one of these units and bring members back for interrogation. The commandoes were dropped outside Bordai, at a distance from the target. As the two Hummer vehicles landed with them carried the troops along the Bordai stream, air force helicopters fired rockets to destroy the bridges and cut the area off from Baalbek. The helicopters with warplane cover tried to prevent Hizballah forces from severing the Israeli force’s line of retreat. An exchange of fire ensued in which Lt. Col. Moreno lost his life.

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An Israeli special operations officer was killed, two were injured – one seriously – in a pre-dawn commando raid at Bodai, 30km NW of Baalbek

August 19, 2006, 4:05 PM (GMT+02:00)

DEBKAfile reports Israeli forces hit Baalbek area in eastern Lebanon twice, including an air strike Friday night aimed at disrupting resumed arms supplies for Hizballah aboard trucks entering from Iran and Syria.

The commandoes, dropped with two Hummer vehicles by helicopter, were engaged in a firefight in which three Hizballah were killed, before they were evacuated by helicopter.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report the Israeli commando raid probably targeted newly filled weapons stores. Also located at Bodai is the office of senior Hizballah official Sheikh Mohammed Yazbek, where the raiders apparently hoped to find information leading to the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. On Aug. 2, Israeli commandos raided a hospital near Baalbek targeting the same Hizballah commander for the same object.

The operations do not breach the UN ceasefire, said the IDF statement. Neither Lebanese troops nor UNIFIL is making any effort to stop smuggled war materiel reaching Hizballah despite the UN embargo - certainly not to restore kidnapped Israeli soldiers.

DEBKA file's militry sources add: Iran and Syria have used the halt in Israeli attacks since last Monday, Aug. 14, to send over Hizballah fresh weapons supplies including rockets in direct violation of the UN ceasefire and 1701 resolution imposing an arms embargo. No monitoring system is in place on the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Also since the truce, a group of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers, including generals, has arrived to set up a forward command on the Syrian side of the Lebanese border. They have told Hizballah to start reconstituting its southern Nasser Brigade which was damaged by Israeli forces and also serves the group as its short-range rocket unit.

During the week, Israel kept Washington abreast of the Iranian-Syrian re-supply operation and was informed the Bush administration would not interfere if the Israeli government decides to destroy the incoming supply vehicles.

Hizballah used the media focus on the Lebanese army’s deployment to unobtrusively transfer the fresh weapons shipments from the Beqaa Valley and Baalbek to the south.

It is feared that the replenishment of Hizballah’s depleted weapons stocks presages a revival of attacks and the breakdown of the ceasefire which Israel accepted last Monday, Aug. 14.

 

Aug 17, 2006

DEBKAfile Exclusive: Bush administration acts fast to bring France aboard the Lebanon multinational force, gives Israel tacit go-ahead for air strikes against arms trucks from Syria

August 16, 2006, 11:53 PM (GMT+02:00)

Washington took two quiet steps to prop up the Siniora government and retrieve the vanishing multinational force ordered by Resolution 1701.

The first was the promise of an air surveillance wing for UNIFIL to keep a watch over South Lebanon and the border crossings into Syria. This has brought France around to consenting to send troops to the expanded international force. UNIFIL was also promised intelligence data gathered by US satellites on military movements in Lebanon.

Some 1,700 French troops will be deployed in the first stage. This promise led French defense minister Michele Alliot-Marie to announce Wednesday night that France is willing to lead a new UN presence in Lebanon at least until February, so long as it has a clear mandate, real means and strong powers.

The second step taken by the Bush administration was a quiet go-ahead given by US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to Israel’s Dep. PM Shimon Peres for the Israeli air force to destroy trucks suspected of carrying rockets and other arms from Syria into Lebanon. Siniora agreed to turn a blind eye to this continuing Israeli air activity over Lebanon as he has for Hizballah’s continued armed presence south of the Litani River.

The first elements of the Lebanese army’s 2nd 3rd and 12th Battalions crossed the Qasmiyeh Bridge over the Litani into South Lebanon before midnight Wednesday, August 16.

France has given itself six months to test how the web of undercover accords and understandings between the US and Israel and the Lebanese government and Hizballah are holding up. Only then will Paris decide whether to extend the mandate of its contingent in Lebanon or even boost it.

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Aug 15, 2006

Jumblat will hold a press conference Thursday under the heading ‘We will not surrender to Assad and Nasrallah’s conditions’

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List of 180 dead Hezbollah terrorists released of an estimated 530 killed since start of fighting

Over the last two days the IDF dropped leaflets over Lebanon containing lists of Hezbollah terrorists killed in fighting with IDF forces. The lists contain the names of 180 terrorists killed and whose identities were verified by IDF forces. (The IDF holds the names of additional Hezbollah terrorists whose deaths also have been confirmed.)

According to IDF estimates, over 530 Hezbollah terrorists have been killed since the start of the fighting.

The IDF has also broadcast the lists of these names to the Lebanese public, intermittently breaking into Hezbollah broadcasts on "Al Manar" television and "Nur" radio station.

The leaflet with the list of the 180 names of the Hezbollah dead terrorists (in Arabic) read:


"Nasrallah is lying to you, hiding the heavy losses in Hezbollah's ranks. Below is a partial list of names, denied by Nasrallah, of those killed by IDF forces:"

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Tehran Takes Gloomy View of the Lebanon War and Truce

August 14, 2006, 3:35 PM (GMT+02:00)

While the damage caused Israel’s military reputation tops Western assessments of the Lebanon war, DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report an entirely different perception taking hold in ruling circles in Tehran.

After UN Security Council resolution 1701 calling for a truce was carried Friday, Aug. 11, the heads of the regime received two separate evaluations of the situation in Lebanon – one from Iran’s foreign ministry and one from its supreme national security council. Both were bleak: their compilers were concerned that Iran had been manipulatively robbed of its primary deterrent asset ahead of a probable nuclear confrontation with the United States and Israel.

While the foreign ministry report highlighted the negative aspects of the UN resolution, the council’s document complained that Hizballah squandered thousands of rockets – either by firing them into Israel or having them destroyed by the Israeli air force.

The writer of this report is furious over the waste of Iran’s most important military investment in Lebanon merely for the sake of a conflict with Israeli over two kidnapped soldiers.

It took Iran two decades to build up Hizballah’s rocket inventory.

DEBKAfile’s sources estimate that Hizballah’s adventure wiped out most of the vast sum of $4-6 bn the Iranian treasury sunk into building its military strength. The organization was meant to be strong and effective enough to provide Iran with a formidable deterrent to Israel embarking on a military operation to destroy the Islamic regime’s nuclear infrastructure.

To this end, Tehran bought the Israeli military doctrine of preferring to fight its wars on enemy soil. In the mid-1980s, Iran decided to act on this doctrine by coupling its nuclear development program with Israel’s encirclement and the weakening its deterrence strength. The Jewish state was identified at the time as the only country likely to take vigorous action to spike Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

The ayatollahs accordingly promoted Hizballah’s rise as a socio-political force in Lebanon, at the same time building up its military might and capabilities for inflicting damage of strategic dimensions to Israel’s infrastructure.

That effort was accelerated after Israeli forces withdrew from the Lebanese security zone in May 2000. A bunker network and chain of fortified positions were constructed, containing war rooms equipped with the finest western hi-tech gadgetry, including night vision gear, computers and electronics, as well as protective devices against bacteriological and chemical warfare.

This fortified network was designed for assault and defense alike.

Short- medium- and long-range rockets gave the hard edge to Hizballah’s ablity to conduct a destructive war against Israel and its civilians – when the time was right for Tehran.

Therefore, Iran’s rulers are hopping mad and deeply anxious over news of the huge damage sustained by Hizballah’s rocket inventory, which was proudly touted before the war as numbering 13,000 pieces.

Hizballah fighters, they are informed, managed to fire only a small number of Khaibar-1 rockets, most of which hit Haifa and Afula, while nearly 100 were destroyed or disabled by Israeli air strikes.

The long-range Zelzal-1 and Zelzal-2, designed for hitting Tel Aviv and the nuclear reactor at Dimona have been degraded even more. Iran sent over to Lebanon 50 of those missiles. The keys to the Zelzal stores stayed in the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers who were in command of Hizballah. Nasrallah and his officers had no access to these stores.

But Tehran has learned that Israel was able to destroy most of the 22 Zelzal launchers provided.

That is not the end of the catalogue of misfortunes for the Islamic rulers of Iran.

1. The UN Security Council embodied in resolution 1701 a chapter requiring Hizballah to disarm – in the face of a stern warning issued by supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in person in the early days of the war. Revolutionary Guards commanders went so far as to boast: “No one alive is capable of disarming Hizballah.”

The disarming of Hizballah would therefore be a bad knock to the supreme ruler’s authority and prestige as well as a disastrous blow for the deterrent force so painstakingly and expensively fashioned as a second front line to protect the Islamic republic from a safe distance.

2. Hizballah’s ejection from South Lebanon, if accomplished in the aftermath of the ceasefire, would moreover deprive Tehran of the sword hanging over Israel’s head of instantaneous attack.

For the sake of partial damage control, Tehran handed Nasrallah a set of new instructions Sunday, Aug. 13:

First, to find a way of evading the ceasefire and keeping up war operations against Israeli forces.

Second, to reject the proposal to disarm before the Lebanese government meets on this Monday afternoon. In fact, that meeting was called off after Hassan Nasrallah sent a message to the Lebanese ministers flatly refusing to have Hizballah give up its weapons in the south. He also turned down a compromise proposal handed him later, whereby the Lebanese army’s first mission after deploying in the south would be to help Hizballah evacuate its fighters with their arms to positions north of the Litani River.

The strategy evolving in Tehran since the ceasefire went into effect Monday morning requires Hizballah to employ a range of stratagems – not only to prevent the truce from stabilizing but to stop the Lebanese army from deploying n the south and, above all, the entry of an effective international force.

Furthermore, Hizballah is instructed to stretch the military crisis into the next three of four months, synchronously with the timetable for a UN Security Council sanctions-wielding session on Iran.

According to exclusive reports reaching DEBKAfile’s sources, the Iranian government believes that Israel and the United States are preparing a military operation for the coming October and November to strike Iran’s nuclear installations. It is therefore vital to keep the two armies fully occupied with other pursuits.

Iranian leaders’ conviction that the Lebanon war was staged to bamboozle them rests on certain perceptions:

As seen from Tehran, Israel looked as though it was carrying out a warming-up exercise in preparation for its main action against Iran’s nuclear program. The Israeli army was able to explore, discover and correct its weak points, understand what was lacking and apply the necessary remedial measures. They therefore expect the IDF to emerge from the war having produced novel methods of warfare.

They also have no doubt that the United States will replenish Israel’s war chest with a substantial aid program of new and improved weaponry.

From the Iranian viewpoint, Israel succeeded in seriously degrading Hizballah’s capabilities. It was also able to throw the Lebanese Shiite militia to the wolves; the West is now in a position to force Nasrallah and his men to quit southern Lebanon and disarm. The West shut its eyes when he flouted the Resolution 1559 order for the disarmament of all Lebanese militias. But that game is over. The Americans will use Resolution 1701 as an effect weapon to squeeze Iran, denied of its second-front deterrence, on its nuclear program.

Tehran hopes to pre-empt the American move by torpedoing the Lebanon ceasefire and preventing the termination of hostilities at all costs.

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President Bush said Hizballah started the Lebanon war and was defeated. Hizballah can no longer act like a state within a state

August 14, 2006, 11:56 PM (GMT+02:00)

UN resolution 1701 marked a pivotal moment in the Middle East, said the US president. He was speaking to reporters after consulting with secretaries of state and defense on transforming the military to meet the 20th century war on terror in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He again accused Hizballah of starting the crisis with its sponsors Syria and Iran, rocketing Israeli civilians and using civilians as human shields. “Hizballah was defeated but if I was Hizballah I would also claim victory.” But the people of the region must realize that what they did caused many people to lose their lives and much suffering. They declared war on Israeli without the knowledge of the elected government in Beirut.

The responsibility also lies with state sponsors of terrorism, Iran and Syria. UN peacekeepers must stop Hizballah from being a state within a state and seal off the border with Syria, through which Iran ships arms to Hizballah.

Iran is backing armed groups in Iraq and Lebanon and it must stop. The conflict in Lebanon is part of the greater war on terror. The difference between Israel and Hizballah is that when civilians are killed, Israel grieves, while Hizballah celebrates. Under the UN resolution, Israel has the right to defend itself.

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Nasrallah is transferring his entire fighting force from northern Lebanon to the South

August 15, 2006, 9:35 AM (GMT+02:00)

The rockets and guns were silent up to Tuesday morning, Day 2 of the ceasefire – although during the night Hizballah fired six mortar rounds at Israeli troops who returned fire without suffering casualties.

However, the swelling numbers of returning Hizballah fighters with their families are jamming the roads south – also blocking the deployment of the 15,000-strong Lebanese force ordered by UN SC resolution 1701 to take over the South and disarm Hizballah.

The Hizballah are moving back into their still undamaged bunkers and fortified civilian dwellings opposite the Israeli border.

Therefore, while thousands of displaced people in Israel and Lebanon head back to their ravaged homes, DEBKAfile’s military sources report trepidation about the durability of the ceasefire which Israel declared Monday morning. Everyone is talking about the inevitability of a second round. Hours after the ceasefire went into effect Monday morning, 6 Hizballah fighters were shot dead in three incidents with Israeli troops.

Israeli forces inside Lebanon will hold their positions until a strengthened international force and the Lebanese army take over. The discharge of reservists called up for the war begins at the end of the week although the Lebanese defense minister promised to move his men into position by then only north of the Litani. Northern Israelis towns and farms face immense reconstruction and recovery projects after Hizballah’s 33-day rocket blitz. (Picture of Nahariya hospital)

After night fell, Hizballah staged victory celebrations in Beirut, while its leader, Hassan Nasrallah proclaimed a “historic and strategic victory” over Israel. Hizballah fighters in uniform directed the traffic in Beirut and took up police duties. Nasrallah also promised his men would help repair destroyed villages in the south.

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Nasrallah Is Already Carving out Lebanon’s Future

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

August 15, 2006, 1:47 PM (GMT+02:00)

President George W. Bush and prime minister Ehud Olmert in speeches on Aug. 13 laid down the law on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. Bush said the motion marked a pivotal moment in the Middle East and would end Hizballah’s state within a state.

This term was borrowed from an earlier Lebanon reality: The stranglehold Yasser Arafat’s PLO held on South Lebanon and Beirut in the 1970s.

Tuesday morning, an Israeli spokesman emphasized that Hassan Narallah “must” obey the Security Council resolution. If he failed to do so, Israel “would have to do the job.”

DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources in Beirut report that Nasrallah’s machinations represent a reality which is a world away from this kind of rhetoric:

1. He has notified Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora that the only concession he is willing to make with regard to the Hizballah presence in South Lebanon is to avoid exhibiting his fighters’ weapons in a demonstrative fashion.

2. Hizballah forces in the South will not oppose the deployment of Lebanese troops and a strengthened UNIFIL force, so long as they understand who their hosts are, namely Hizballah. The inference here is that foreign peacekeepers’ steps will be dogged by Hizballah fighters. This action nullifies the injunction to the Beirut government to assert Lebanese sovereignty in every part of the country, which was stressed by the US president in his speech.

3. Siniora must stop referring to Hizballah’s disarmament else Hizballah ministers and MPs will topple his government by withdrawing their parliamentary support.

Nasrallah is not standing aside for anyone – certainly not the US-backed Siniora government - to carve out a new future for Lebanon. His men are already out consolidating his “state within a state.” Rather than wait for government or international assistance to repair destroyed villages in the south, Hizballah volunteers are on the spot helping the returning refugees to start reconstruction work. Just as Olmert talks about rebuilding northern Israel after it was pummeled by 4,000 Hizballah rockets, so too does Nasrallah use the language of a national leader in reference to the ravaged South.

Monday, Aug. 14, in his 10th televised speech of the war, the Hizballah leader made no bones about being short of funds, but said his men would be on hand to help with repairs.

This device is a neat way of opening the door for Hizballah fighters and cadres to reach their former bases, fortifications and bunkers facing the Israeli border, in their capacity as volunteers and aid workers donating their services to the national reconstruction effort.

To rebuild his depleted South Lebanon army, Nasrallah also quietly ordered all Hizballah fighters in the north, the Beqaa Valley and Baalbek, to pack their bags and head south with their families.

DEBKAfile’s sources add: Scrutiny of the refugees flooding back to the south since the ceasefire declared Monday morning by Israel shows that this traffic was kicked off by the massive transfer of Hizballah’s cohorts to the south in the guise of distressed refugees. International television cameras recorded the first families in cars, all showing the V sign, displaying placards of Nasrallah and honking loudly, as they headed back to their flattened homes in the south.

Hizballah thus regrouped in the south by a smooth, rapid maneuver, which pulled in its wake a wave of genuine refugees. Israeli troops left to secure the south were helpless to halt this tide. The jammed roads also block off Israel’s lines for supplies and reinforcements.

The IDF spokesperson had little choice Tuesday but to announce troop withdrawal within days.

So, whether or not Hizballah was defeated as the US president claimed matters little: Nasrallah has had the last word in the current round of the war.

How will this affect the deployment of the Lebanese army and Unifil?

DEBKAfile’s sources report US ambassador in Beirut Jeff Feldman as pressing the Lebanese premier hard to do something about the situation. But Fouad Siniora finds himself in dire straits. When he broached a plan to confine Lebanese troops to the nine Lebanese-Syrian border passes, instead of a complete deployment in the south, he was greeted with a blunt threat from Damascus. Assad, conversing with a visiting delegation of Egyptian Nasserites, remarked Hizballah’s battle had taught him there are other options beside peace. Then, turning to Beirut, the Syrian ruler added that it was time for the Siniora government to go.

In any case, Hizballah has managed to clog the roads and the destroyed bridges to the south with swarms of refugees, so blocking the region off to access by the Lebanese units.

The Americans have proposed organizing with French help an amphibious landing by sea at Tyre. Our military sources add that this idea appears to be a non-starter because no Lebanese army units have ever trained in commando beach assaults. But even if they manage to reach the shore, they will walk into the arms of their Hizballah “hosts.”

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Assad: Hizballah defeated the Israeli army

August 15, 2006, 1:07 PM (GMT+02:00)

In a speech Tuesday, the Syrian ruler Bashar Assad remarked that Israeli troops had failed to reach the Litani River in a month whereas in 1982 they were in Beirut after a week. He also said: The Arabs have received nothing or very little for peace, therefore Damascus supports “resistance” because resistance is the way to peace.

Monday night, the Syrian president told Egyptian visitors: They said peace was the only way but now, after seeing how Hizballah fought, I see an option. “Syrian hands will liberate Golan.”

The Syrian ruler also warned the Siniora government in Beirut: It’s time to go, he said. DEBKAfile adds: There is deep concern in Washington for the life of Fouad Siniora. It is feared that if he refuses to go, he may be the victim of a murder conspiracy by Hizballah and Syrian intelligence as a means of trashing UN Security Council resolution 1701 and any chance of ending hostilities in Lebanon.

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Many Israeli combat soldiers take a pretty dim view of their superiors and elected leaders

August 14, 2006, 10:20 PM (GMT+02:00)

Their views were freely expressed as the first groups exited Lebanon Monday with great relief after a ceasefire went into force

DEBKAfile summarizes some of their comments:

- The rear command did not know what was going on in the field.

- Some of their orders were suicidal. There were cases of officers and men agreeing to ignore such orders.

- Some of the tanks were ten years old and were confronted with an enemy armed with the most sophisticated, up-to-date equipment.

- Our training prior to being sent into battle was not adapted to the conditions we found in Lebanon.

- Their officers called Hizballah fighters terrorists or even primitive. This was a misleading misnomer. They are highly-trained, professional soldiers.

- Although we were better, Hizballah fought like lions.

- We had no food or water.

- Our entry into battle in Lebanon was belated.

- The troops were short of accurate intelligence.

- We were not prepared for combat against camouflaged bunkers.

- We had no information on the Hizballah’s anti-tank missile techniques.

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Olmert admits there were faults in the conduct of the Lebanon War

August 14, 2006, 5:06 PM (GMT+02:00)

In an address to the Knesset the Israeli PM admitted in reply to widespread criticism: “We will have to examine ourselves,” adding: but not yet; the war is not over. Olmert pledged to pursue Hizballah and its leaders everywhere. They will not be absolved of guilt for their actions.

Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu of Likud asked why no state of emergency was declared when the home front was damaged as never before.

The goals of the war have not been attained, said Netanyahu. There will be another round of war, but we will beat Hizballah and live in safety. That is our message for Nasrallah and Tehran.

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Lebanese minister Marwan Hamadi accused Hassan Nasrallah Sunday night of reneging on his pledge to abide by the UN ceasefire

August 13, 2006, 10:57 PM (GMT+02:00)

Hamadi information minister, a Druze, said Sunday night that Nasrallah had broken his word to order Hizballah fighters south of the Litani to hand in their weapons to allow Lebanese army troops to be deployed there. DEBKAfile reports: Amid heavy fighting across the entire Lebanese front, Israeli field commanders await directives for Monday 0800 hours when the ceasefire deadline goes into force.

Lebanon front commander Maj-Gen Benny Gantz said Sunday night the IDF will honor the ceasefire but also defend its troops and Israeli civilians. DEBKAfile asks: Have they been told to hold their fire in line with Israel’s acceptance of the UN resolution 1701 now that the Lebanese government and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah have backtracked?

DEBKAfile has learned that Tehran has meanwhile ordered Nasrallah to keep Israel engaged in combat for another 3 to 4. As a result of which he suddenly backed away from his pledges to France and the Siniora government Saturday to accept a ceasefire and a UNIFIL force in south Lebanon.

Nasrallah said he would wait a month to see how Israel’s retreat from the disputed Shabaa Farms was progressing.

At five minutes notice, the thunderstruck Lebanese ministers called off their meeting to discuss the deployment of their forces in the south and the disarming of Hizballah

Prime minister Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni spent the day explaining that the resolution is good for Israel and praising its unanimous endorsement by the Israeli cabinet Sunday. The PM plans a speech to Knesset Monday lauding the resolution as an Israeli achievement.

This is the situation the night before the ceasefire: Israel says its troops will not be recalled from Lebanon until a beefed up UNIFIL force is in place. However no international peacekeepers will deploy without a Lebanese military presence. That has now been checked by Nasrallah because the Lebanese army chiefs refuse to deploy south of the Litani if Hizballah fighters are armed.

Sunday, Hizballah deployed dozens of its combatants in furious anti-tank missile assaults on IDF tanks and field units along the S. Lebanese front. Fierce clashes raged just north of the Israeli town of Metula and other parts of the former “security strip” on the border. At least 16 Israeli soldiers were injured before noon Sunday.

Sunday, an unprecedented number of rockets – 250 - were also fired into northern Israel by midday. DEBKAfile’s military sources say Hizballah is demonstrating that its ability to subject northern Israel to rocket barrages from S. Lebanon is unimpaired after a month of combat.

Sunday, Israel lost two officers and 3 soldiers in action in South Lebanon. Saturday, 24 men died in battle, including 5 crew aboard a Yasur helicopter that Hizballah shot down.

Aug 14, 2006

Israeli ground, air and naval forces ordered to hold fire and stand on the ready at 0800 hours local time Monday, August 14 as the UN ceasefire went into effect. No truce order has been given to Hizballah forces

August 14, 2006, 8:21 AM (GMT+02:00)

Ahead of the ceasefire, sirens sounded from west to east of northern Israel ordering civilians to stay in shelters until Sunday night and take no chances on Hizballah holding to the ceasefire. The streets of northern Israel are deserted.

A record 250 rockets were fired into Israel Sunday, including 8 heavy Khaibar-1 missiles. Returning refugees will find their homes, towns, villages and farms in ruins.

Israeli commanders in S. Lebanon ordered to hold their fire except in self-defense or if “hazard identified.” This is not precisely defined. All offensive operations halted by land and air and the naval blocked will be lifted - if Hizballah upholds the ceasefire. Meanwhile the Israeli troops inside Lebanon are on the ready to stay in new positions until a strengthened international force and the Lebanese army takes over.

Two bomb trucks identified on their way to Israeli town of Metula and destroyed on the Lebanese side of the border. S. Beirut was bombed all night up to the last minute of the ceasefire. Minutes before the ceasefire deadline, Israel and Hizballah forces clashed in two Hizballah village-strongholds in the Tyre district and Israeli air force and navy struck Hizballah targets, including Baalbek.

Five Israeli soldiers died in combat Sunday. In the five weeks of this round of war, Israel suffered 166 dead - 114 servicemen and 52 civilians. Thousands were injured. More than 4,000 Hizballah rockets were launched against northern Israel. Israel reports up to 500 Hizballah fighters and commanders killed in the five-week war.

Aug 13, 2006

Rice calls Lebanese PM to warn him that if the UN Lebanon resolution is not implemented, “We will not be responsible for the consequences”

August 13, 2006, 10:18 PM (GMT+02:00)

Earlier, Israeli FM Tzipi Livni put in urgent calls to the US secretary and the French foreign minister in an effort to salvage the ceasefire from Iranian-backed Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s 12th-hour retraction of his consent.

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Lebanese minister Marwan Hamadi accused Hassan Nasrallah Sunday night of reneging on his pledge to abide by the UN ceasefire

August 13, 2006, 10:57 PM (GMT+02:00)

Hamadi information minister, a Druze, said Sunday night that Nasrallah had broken his word to order Hizballah fighters south of the Litani to hand in their weapons to allow Lebanese army troops to be deployed there. DEBKAfile reports: Amid heavy fighting across the entire Lebanese front, Israeli field commanders await directives for Monday 0800 hours when the ceasefire deadline goes into force.

Lebanon front commander Maj-Gen Benny Gantz said Sunday night the IDF will honor the ceasefire but also defend its troops and Israeli civilians. DEBKAfile asks: Have they been told to hold their fire in line with Israel’s acceptance of the UN resolution 1701 now that the Lebanese government and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah have backtracked?

DEBKAfile has learned that Tehran has meanwhile ordered Nasrallah to keep Israel engaged in combat for another 3 to 4. As a result of which he suddenly backed away from his pledges to France and the Siniora government Saturday to accept a ceasefire and a UNIFIL force in south Lebanon.

Nasrallah said he would wait a month to see how Israel’s retreat from the disputed Shabaa Farms was progressing.

At five minutes notice, the thunderstruck Lebanese ministers called off their meeting to discuss the deployment of their forces in the south and the disarming of Hizballah

Prime minister Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni spent the day explaining that the resolution is good for Israel and praising its unanimous endorsement by the Israeli cabinet Sunday. The PM plans a speech to Knesset Monday lauding the resolution as an Israeli achievement.

This is the situation the night before the ceasefire: Israel says its troops will not be recalled from Lebanon until a beefed up UNIFIL force is in place. However no international peacekeepers will deploy without a Lebanese military presence. That has now been checked by Nasrallah because the Lebanese army chiefs refuse to deploy south of the Litani if Hizballah fighters are armed.

Sunday, Hizballah deployed dozens of its combatants in furious anti-tank missile assaults on IDF tanks and field units along the S. Lebanese front. Fierce clashes raged just north of the Israeli town of Metula and other parts of the former “security strip” on the border. At least 16 Israeli soldiers were injured before noon Sunday.

Sunday, an unprecedented number of rockets – 250 - were also fired into northern Israel by midday. DEBKAfile’s military sources say Hizballah is demonstrating that its ability to subject northern Israel to rocket barrages from S. Lebanon is unimpaired after a month of combat.

Sunday, Israel lost two officers and 3 soldiers in action in South Lebanon. Saturday, 24 men died in battle, including 5 crew aboard a Yasur helicopter that Hizballah shot down.

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Intense Hizballah rocket barrage – 250 - kills an elderly man in Yaara, seriously injures 3 civilians in the Haifa region, 11 people in Safed and Shlomi.

August 13, 2006, 10:19 PM (GMT+02:00)

Five Khaibar-1 missiles hit the Beit Shean and Jezreel valleys south of Haifa. The port city and it’s the bayside suburbs took a beating. Many buildings and vehicles are on fire.

More than 4,000 rockets have been fired into Israel just over a month.

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UN Resolution’s Time Sequence Could Leave Dangerous Vacuum in S. Lebanon

DEBKAfile Special Report

August 12, 2006, 1:47 PM (GMT+02:00)

“That’s the best we can do for you,” US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice told Ehud Olmert Friday, Aug. 11, after 15 UN Security Council members unanimously endorsed the revised US-French resolution calling for a cessation of hostilities in Lebanon.

Olmert thanked US President George W. Bush for his work on Resolution 1701 in his first phone call to the White House since hostilities flared exactly a month ago.

Across the border in Beirut, Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora complained to US undersecretary of state David Welch that the resolution “gives Hizballah better protection than us.”

He had a point. The text finally approved, rather than addressing the most urgent security concerns of Israel and Lebanon, reflects the vetoes Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah laid down on four points:

1. The 15,000-strong peace force to be deployed in Lebanon (based on the 2,000-member UNIFIL observer force)) is denied a mandate under the UN Charter Chapter 7 to use military force for imposing a ceasefire, disarming Hizballah or creating a buffer zone in S. Lebanon.

2. No mechanism is created to enforce the embargo on arms supplies from Iran and Syria or any other foreign source.

3. In the absence of an effective UN force, no provision is made for the enforcement of UN Security Council resolution 1559 to disarm Hizballah’s militia.

4. The call for an “unconditional release” of the two Israeli soldiers, whose July 12 abduction sparked the conflict, is not accompanied by any tangible steps for its implementation.

Two further points which Nasrallah imposed on the Lebanese government are also reflected in the text. One demands the withdrawal of Israeli troops “in parallel” with the deployment of Lebanese forces for taking control of the south. Israeli soldiers are thus required to pull out before the arrival of the beefed up UN force.

The second is a 30-day deadline handed the UN Secretary Kofi Annan to come up with proposals for solving the Chebaa Farms dispute.

Israel’s military sources note that, while Israel is allowed to continue “defensive operations,” the term “cessation of hostilities” is loose enough for Hizballah to continue fighting and claim it is conducting “legitimate national Lebanese resistance” rather than offensive operations.

DEBKAfile’s Jerusalem sources reveal that Friday night, when the prime minister accepted the ceasefire resolution, none of his key ministers were willing to second the decision. Olmert ran solo with the announcement without consulting his cabinet or the high military command. In particular he has put up the backs of defense minister Amir Peretz – communications between them are conducted through their military aides – and foreign minister Tzipi Livni, whom he prevented at the last minute from flying to UN Headquarters to fortify the Israeli delegation at the critical vote.

The prime minister has taken over the exchanges with the US secretary of state. According to DEBKAfile’s sources, he brushed aside suggestions to maintain parallel contacts with US Vice President Dick Cheney and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who strongly opposed the Rice initiative for an immediate halt to the combat in Lebanon and moves to impose a ceasefire on Israel.

Until Friday night, there was no telephone contact between the prime minister and President Bush either.

As far as the Israeli military command is concerned, the definitive order coming down from government is the one given on Friday a few hours before the Security Council ceasefire resolution, to broaden its offensive up until the Litani. A senior IDF officer told DEBKAfile Saturday morning: Israeli forces are already positioned at two key points on the Litani and deep into an operation in the Tyre district, which is filled with a dense concentration of Hizballah strongholds and rocket sites.

There will be an uncertain interim period as Israeli forces stay in place to make sure no vacuum is formed for Hizballah to recover its positions before the ceasefire is enforced on the ground – as and when this happens. However, the UN secretary is required to report back to the Security Council within a week on how well its resolution has been implemented. Saturday, Kofi Annan said the UN expects an immediate ceasefire to be imposed once the Israeli and Lebanese governments approve the SC resolution. The Lebanese government meets Saturday night and Israeli ministers Sunday, Aug. 13.

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Israeli Army in Race against a UN Ceasefire in Lebanon

DEBKAfile Exclusive Military Report

August 12, 2006, 3:52 PM (GMT+02:00)

Israeli forces are pressing forward with the wide-scale operation against Hizballah which DEBKAfile reports was launched four days ago on Wednesday, Aug. 8.

The campaign will continue until the ceasefire called for in Security Resolution 1701 approved Friday, Aug. 11, is enforced on the ground – if and when that happens.

It is carried forward by four expanded divisions of 11 brigades, about 12,000 fighting men. Head of the Ground Forces Branch Maj.-Gen Benny Gantz is leading the IDF’s South Lebanon command.

The first stage of the new operation has succeeded in its objective of encircling Hizballah’s 1,500-strong force in a large swathe stretching from the Litani River in the north, to Tyre in the southwest.

This tactic follows Israel’s 1982 Lebanon War stratagem of pushing Palestinian forces out of South Lebanon up to Beirut and then holding them to siege.

Now, Israeli troops are pushing Hizballah into the Tyre enclave that also encompasses the Palestinian refugee camps of Rashidiya and Bourj al-Shamali, in order to contain it there. In central and northern Lebanon, Hizballah strength will be left intact with two of its three rocket brigades - medium and long range - for the time being. They will be left to the Air Force to destroy.

In the last few hours, Hizballah’s command and control in the south is showing signs of distress after finding itself cut off from reinforcements and re-supply from the north by the rapid Israeli advances of the last four days.

DEBKAfile’s military sources update Israel military movements:

The Northern Division: From Wednesday, this division has been advancing north from Israel’s northernmost town of Metulla towards the plain of Nabatea, north of the Litani River, taking the town of Marjayun en route. Early Friday Aug. 11, when Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and defense minister Amir Peretz gave the go ahead for the expanded offensive, the division split in two. One headed north and entered the village of Blat east of the crook in the Litani River – a vantage point for artillery control of the Nabatean plain to the west, and Hasbaya to the east.

The second segment of the Northern Division has been positioned since Thursday on the southern bank of the Litani after capturing Qantara.

For the moment, this division is positioned on a number of hilltops along the river bank with fire control over parts of the Nabatea plain.

Saturday or Sunday morning, these troops should reach the Hardaleh bridge, one of the two linking central Lebanon to the south.

In this part of the front, Israeli troops are fighting Hizballa’s Sector No. 5.

Our military sources report that the Northern Division has encountered little Hizballah resistance in its push north. They are estimated to have gone to ground to await their moment to counter-attack. Local inhabitants in this area are friendly, some even point Israeli troops to possible Hizballah hideouts and arms caches.

Division 162: Since Wednesday, this division under the command of Brig.-Gen Guy Tsur, has been driving north along the eastern bank of Wadi Saluki in the Eastern Sector of South Lebanon up to the Central Sector. Saturday, this division fetched up at Froun village on a hilltop opposite the Litani and west of Taibe and Deir Mimas. This high point affords the division fire control of the Qeaqea bridge, the second most important one spanning the Litani.

The bridge was destroyed by an Israeli air strike at the outset of the war.

This division is fighting Hizballah’s Sectors 3 and 4.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the division commanded by Tsur is now following a westerly route along the Litani’s southern bank up to the Mediterranean coast and a place called Burj el Haoua, which is midway between Sidon and Tyre south of Beirut.

Once in position there, the IDF will be able:

1. To tighten the siege of Tyre from the north.

2. Be ready to cross the Litani and head north of the river if ordered to do so.

Division 91: Under the command of Brig. Gen Gal Hirsch, this division has also been in motion since Wednesday heading west to the Mediterranean coast from a point north of Bin Jubeil. The members of this division fought heavy battles at Ras Baida north of the Israeli town of Rosh Hanikra, and at the villages of Shmaa, Majdel Zun and Mansura south of Tyre. By Saturday morning, this division had managed to stabilize a line south of Tyre from a point north of Bin Jubeil up to Ras Baida, thereby completing the siege of Tyre from the south.

A fourth division operating mostly undercover with special operations units took control Friday and Saturday of sections of the dividing seam between Divisions 162 and 91. This gap covers the war arenas of Qana village, Jouiya and Maarake. This division has been entrusted with tightening the eastern section of the siege enclosing Tyre and preventing Hizballah harassing the flanks and rear of the two divisions.

Late last week, Hassan Nasrallah managed to rush several hundreds of fighters of his Bader Force to reinforce this arena.

DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report that this broad IDF campaign is planned to proceed over the weekend and early next week, on the assumption that Washington and the United Nations will step in at some early point and threaten to declare Israel in violation of the ceasefire resolution until it is stopped.

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Aug 11, 2006

Haifa is under rocket fire Friday, three volleys including a Khaibar-1 missile strike the city and bayside suburbs

August 11, 2006, 1:45 PM (GMT+02:00)

The long-range missile landing near Haifa port Friday was a new, unknown type of Khaibar. This means that Hizballah is either taking fresh supplies and getting them transported to South Lebanon, or that it still has large, undiscovered caches there.

Two rounds of Katyusha also land in Galilee towns of Acre, Shlomi, Nahariya.

Some 165 rockets were fired at Israel by Thursday, Aug. 10,night, focusing on Kiryat Shemona, Safed, Hatzor, Carmiel and Nahariya in the morning, and the Haifa bayside suburbs in the afternoon.

On Wednesday Hizballah fired more than 170 rockets into Israel – at least 8 long-range Khaibar-1 missiles as well as Katyushas.

Aug 10, 2006

All flights to the UK from Tel Aviv cancelled. US raises terror alert to orange after Britain foils a major terror plot to blow up 20 UK planes bound for the United States, Europe and the Middle East

August 10, 2006, 11:32 AM (GMT+02:00)

Belgium, Lufthansa, Air France, Iberia and KLM cancel flights to UK. Two people still sought by police after 20 overnight arrests. The suspects are all British-born of Pakistani origin. Heathrow cancels all incoming flights amid chaotic queues in the terminals and disruptions at all British airports.

The US alert was raised to one short of maximum after Prime Minister Tony Blair briefed President George Bush on the security threat to the planes.

UK police say this attack could have been bigger than 9/11, encompassing 20 attacks with substantial loss of life, had the plot not been thwarted by a British covert anti-terror operation very close to its execution.

The British national security alert was raised from severe to critical to thwart any further threats. The planes were to have been blown up in mid-air by suicide bombers over cities in the US, Britain and other "allied" countries - possibly also Tel Aviv - by explosives smuggled aboard in hand luggage in liquid form to evade detection. Hand luggage is banned on flights departing British airports, except for essentials in transparent plastic bags such as medication, passports or baby food.

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A High-Stakes Gamble or a Turning Point in the Lebanon War

DEBKAfile Exclusive Military Analysis

August 10, 2006, 2:09 AM (GMT+02:00)

Hassan Nasrallah’s recorded statement over Hizballah’s Al Manar television Wednesday night, August 9, at 20:15 local time, had a nail-biting audience: US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in Washington, French president Jacques Chirac at the Elysee in Paris, prime minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem and his Lebanese counterpart Fouad Siniora in Beirut.

He was also watched closely by Maj-Gen Benny Gantz at the defense ministry in Tel Aviv. Gantz had been entrusted a few hours earlier with taking charge of the newly-expanded Lebanon offensive which the Israeli security cabinet had just approved. Israeli ground forces were to head up north past the Litani River to seek out and destroy Hizballah’s rocket sites.

But until he was good and ready, the Hizballah leader kept everyone waiting to find out where he stood in the next stage of the Lebanon war that he triggered on July 12.

The day’s timetable tells the story:

At 16:00, the Israeli security cabinet approves by nine votes and 3 abstentions a new ground operation deep inside southern Lebanon as far as the Nabatea plateau and Arnoun on the northern bank of the Litatani River, roughly 45 km from the Israeli border. It was limited in time to 14 days. The action would start at a signal from the prime minister and defense minister Amir Peretz. They all knew that the extended operation had in fact begun several hours earlier and that Israeli ground forces had been fighting as far north as Qantara and al Khiam from the morning.

At 16:30, US undersecretary of state David Welch, who had arrived in Beirut Wednesday morning, was paying his second visit to PM Siniora. He informed him: If you can persuade Nasrallah to accept a broadened UNIFIL force to back up the Lebanese contingent in the south, then we can have our multinational force and save Lebanon from sinking further into a dangerous war. But if you can’t, Israel will extend its invasion tonight and conquer more than a third of Lebanon.

DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report that the Lebanese prime minister took the point and promised to do his best to bring the Hizballah leader round.

Both were entirely frank; an emergency was clearly at hand and it was too late for diplomatic niceties. Siniora knew that the Americans had found out Monday from the Turks that Nasrallah had set up his war room in the Iranian embassy in Beirut under the protection of two Revolutionary Guards commando companies.

At 18:00, Siniora and the Shiite parliament speaker Nabih Berri hold a meeting with Nasrallah’s representatives, hoping to hear his answer to the proposal of an expanded UNIFIL that would pave the way to a halt in the fighting. But they are disappointed. The representatives say their chief has not authorized them to discuss the matter.

At 19:00, The Lebanese prime minister goes back to Welch to report that his efforts failed and the Israelis cannot be stopped from moving further north.

At 19:20, while they were talking, Al Manar interrupts its broadcasts to announce that Nasrallah will address the Lebanese people shortly. This was his eighth speech since the war began. They hoped the Hizballah chief would clear up the uncertainty surrounding his intentions.

Olmert reacted to Al Manar’s announcement by calling chief of staff Lt.-Gen Dan Halutz and asking him if the army was ready to move. The reply was that the units were ready to start rolling within minutes of receiving the order and would link up with the contingents already deep inside Lebanon.

Gen. Halutz then phoned Gen. Gantz to confirm that everything was ready.

At 20:20, the speech Nasrallah had recorded at the Iranian embassy went on air. Twenty minutes into his harangue, he delivered his reply: Under no circumstances would he accept a multinational force in South Lebanon. He warned the Lebanese prime minister not to give an inch on this issue. Siniora had no choice but to obey.

Thus, in a few words, the Hizbalah leader scotched the US-French attempt to generate a UN Security Council resolution that would wind the conflict down by calling for a ceasefire and the deployment of a multinational force, followed by an Israeli withdrawal.

At 21:30, Condoleezza Rice calls Olmert and informs him that her undersecretary had come away from his Beirut mission empty-handed and there is no bar to him giving the signal to launch the next stage of the Lebanon offensive.

At 22:20, A massive movement of Israeli ground troops and tanks begins thundering across into Lebanon.

DEBKAfile’s military sources note that Nasrallah in throwing down the gauntlet is undertaking the biggest gamble of his life. A defeat at Israeli hands would finish him and his militia off for the foreseeable future. At the same time, he does not have to beat Israel to claim victory; it is enough for him to hold on for another month and keep up his rocket offensive against northern Israel to come out on top.

On paper, his chances of success look slim. His troops are still fighting but they are exhausted and, two weeks ago, Nasrallah threw the last of his trained professional reserves into the fray. The forces stacked against him are formidable.

But it is worth keeping in mind that the Hizballah chief is a whiz at concocting tactical surprises and may still have one or two up his sleeve. Furthermore, he is backed by the full logistical and military might of Iran’s radical Revolutionary Guards.

Therefore, Nasrallah is not the only side throwing all his chips on the table; so too is Ehud Olmert. The Israeli army has had a bad month, culminating Wednesday in the highest death toll on the battlefield in 30 days – 15 dead and 34 injured - 7 seriously. Nine belonged to special operations units.

Olmert will be gambling on the IDF’s ability to wrench the wheel round and start winning. A similar feat saved the day in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when after a row of disastrs in Sinai, Israeli units managed to outflank the Egyptian army and drive forward across the Suez Canal up to 101 kilometers from Cairo. It is up to the Israeli army to cross the Litani River and strike forward up to the Aouli River, crushing the Hizballah as it advances.

But if Hizballah forces in the south are not subdued and the rocket blitz continues, the war will intensify and Israeli forces will be in trouble. So too will Olmert.

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Aug 9, 2006

IDF forces operating in the area of the village of Bint Jbeil identified killing over 20 Hezbollah in exchanges of fire throughout the day in a number of incidents.

An IDF force located a Hezbollah command center in the area and exchanges of fire erupted between the soldiers and the Hezbollah manning the command post. In the exchanges of fire an IDF soldier was severely wounded and died of his wounds during the rescue attempt which was conducted under heavy fire. Another soldier, a member of the rescue force, was also killed.

The Hezbollah command center was targeted from the air during the night.

In a separate incident, an anti-tank missile hit an IDF force north of the village of Bint Jbeil, six soldiers were wounded, one of them severely and another one moderately. A tank that arrived to the location in order to assist evacuate the wounded soldiers was hit by a large explosive device, no
injuries were reported.

The IDF carried out over 200 sorties in the past 24 hours, mainly targeting structures used by Hezbollah as offices and headquarters, launching grounds and five rockets launchers were also targeted from the air.

Since the beginning of the IDF operation in Lebanon IDF forces have claimed to have killed over 470 Hezbollah.

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Hizballah fires long-range Khaibar-1 missiles as well as Katyushas against N. Israel Wednesday

August 9, 2006, 1:19 PM (GMT+02:00)

The Khaibar (90kg explosives, 110km range) missiles landed in open space in Haifa, Afula, Beit Shean, Kibbutz Beit Alpha and Jezreel Valley, 99km south of the Lebanese border, causing minor injuries. Missiles also landed near the Palestinian town of Jenin. A heavy Katyusha barrage repeatedly targeted the border town of Kiryat Shemona and surrounding villages and Acre in the west. The entire Galilee is on alert for rockets from Lebanon, after 160 were fired Tuesday.

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Lebanon Hostilities Are Nowhere Near a UN-initiated Cessation

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis

August 8, 2006, 11:37 PM (GMT+02:00)

Tuesday night, Aug. 8, the UN Security Council was to begin discussing a resolution drafted by the US and France calling for a full cessation of hostilities based on the immediate halt of all Hizballah’s attacks and immediate end of all Israeli offensive military operations.

A second resolution, the second half of the US-French effort to resolve the Middle East crisis by diplomacy, would set out a mandate for an international force to be sent out to Lebanon.

An Arab League delegation arrived at the UN in time to overshadow the deliberations with a strong representation of the Lebanese position, which insists on an Israel’s withdrawal after a ceasefire starts.

France pushed for two changes in the original text to address the Arab-Lebanese demands: one, calling for the Israeli pullout before an international force is in place, the other, the handover of the tiny disputed Shebaa Farms enclave to UN custody.

The United States is reluctant to amend the text, but US Condoleezza Rice has promised to “listen to the concerns of the parties and see how they may be addressed.”

And France, as the Bush administration’s conduit to Hizballah and Tehran, may be heeded.

The French-Arab-Lebanese-ploy was carefully stage-managed.

As part of the show, prime minister Fouad Siniora burst into tears at the Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Beirut Monday, Aug. 7, when he counted the war’s cost to Lebanon, and the Syrian foreign minister Walild Mualem marched out of the meeting in protest against the proceedings.

The same day, US president George W. Bush delivered an address from his Texas ranch in which he labeled Hizballah the “root cause” of the Lebanese crisis. However, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice broke in with some down-to-earth comments. “We believe the first resolution draft is the right solution but we will listen to the parties after the Arab foreign ministers meeting in Beirut,” she said.

Within hours of the meeting’s breakup, the Arab delegation was on its way to UN Headquarters in New York bearing aloft Lebanon’s demands for changes in the US-French UN Security Council resolution draft.

Paris stood ready to chip in with two textual changes.

After night fell, the Beirut government decided unanimously to post Lebanese soldiers in the south to cooperate with UNIFIL - as soon as Israeli troops had departed. Surprisingly, the five Hizballah ministers and allies endorsed the motion.

The props were now in place for the next stage of the performance: a combined effort to rewrite the US-French resolution so as to hustle Israeli troops out of South Lebanon and wrap up the Lebanon war by a ceasefire, without waiting for the “robust” international force which Israel is holding out for to come into being.

In his address, the US president conveyed the impression that Israel had plenty of time to complete its mission – Israeli officials were still talking on that fateful Monday about “several weeks of combat” still to come. But DEBKAfile reports that Rice, in an effort to regain American initiative in the Lebanese crisis, was busy making quiet contacts, mainly through the Saudis, to terminate the conflict.

DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report that in Paris, the Saudis put the Lebanese majority leader Saad Hariri to work with guidelines for PM Siniora on the force for South Lebanon.

In Washington, ex-ambassador to the US Prince Bandar, coordinator of the Saudi secret services, undertook to bring Syrian president Basher Assad aboard.

If the French-Arab-Lebanese initiative is allowed to proceed according to plan, DEBKAfile’s analysts foresee the following potential results, none of which were envisaged a month ago:

1. Lebanon will place on the ready units for deployment in South Lebanon. It will be a token force. While making a show of calling up reserves to deploy 15,000 men in the south, Lebanon has no reserve army only a special airborne commando battalion called The Leopards which numbers no more than 1,000 men.

2. France will place on standby a similar number of paratroops to eke out UNIFIL’s deployment ahead of the main multinational stabilization force.

3. Following a UN Security Council call for the immediate cessation of hostilities, the French contingent will fly to South Lebanon to form a buffer between the IDF and Hizballah forces.

4. It will do so on the basis of a Hizballah pledge to refrain from firing on the French-Lebanese deployment.

5. A token UNIFIL force of no more than some scores of troops will be posted at the Lebanese border crossings to Syria to try and monitor arms deliveries from Syria and Iran to Hizballah.

6. Either the Security Council or the commanders of this mixed force will demand that Israel desist from attacking Hizballah after obtaining a commitment from Hassan Nasrallah to stop firing rockets at Israel.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Hizballah is badly in need of a pause in the fighting. Israeli military pressure has taken a heavy toll of his resources.

7. Israel will face the demand to immediately pull its troops behind the international border, the Blue Line.

8. Hizballah will face a corresponding demand to pull its forces out of South Lebanon. But it will be understood in private exchanges that they will leave only after Israel cedes to international control the disputed Shebaa Farms. In the interim, Hizballah fighters will stay put with the status of “civilian residents.”

9. Indirect talks on the exchange of prisoners leading to the release of the two Israeli soldiers abducted by Hizballah, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, will begin through an international broker.

If this plan goes through, the Olmert government will come out of a painful and devastating war without achieving any of its objectives. Hizballah will have suffered a beating without being broken or bowed. The IDF will not have repaired its deterrent strength, and Hizballah, rather than Israel, will be seen - at least by Arab opinion -as having come out on top. A ransom in the coin of a prisoner exchange will be paid for the Israeli hostages. It is hard to see any force capable or willing to make Nasrallah pull his troops out of South Lebanon or disarm after the Israeli army failed.

Financial assistance will flood into Lebanon to repair the damage caused by Israeli bombardments; Israel will have to foot its own bill for the destruction wrought by Hizballah to one third of the country and the ruin of its economy.

Of course, Israel is still free to accept or reject these terms.

Wednesday, Aug 9, the day after the first Security Council discussion on the crisis, Israel’s inner cabinet will be asked to approve the expansion of the military offensive to push Hizballah up to the Litani River and beyond. The Olmert government must also decide whether to stick by its demand for an “effective” multinational destabilization force to move into the south before Israel removes its army.

The snap appointment of a high-powered general, deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen Moshe Kaplinsky, to supervise the war from the IDF’s northern command, is designed to give wings to the slow slog of Israel’s war effort.

But it may be too late to turn the war round. The role played by France in this initiative is ambivalent. While the Americans believe the French are partners, in fact Paris is playing a double game and working closely with Tehran. The amendments France is pushing for would manipulate the United Nations into granting Nasrallah everything he wants if only he makes a show of removing his guerrillas from the south until the heat is off and they can filter back.

Until it is decided which way diplomacy is going, both Hizballah and Israel will intensify their effort to gain the upper hand on the battlefield.

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Hizballah UAV Further Illustrates Iranian Support

By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, counterterrorismblog

The Mirsad-1 UAV. Click image to view.

On Monday night, the IAF's F-16 fighters shot down a Hizballah unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ten kilometers off the coast of Acre. The drone reportedly had the capacity to carry 90 pounds of explosives.

Hizballah's drone was a Misrad-1, which is the same model as the Iranian Mohajer. It is also the same model UAV that Hizballah previously launched twice: in November 2004 and April 2005. In late 2004, Stratfor stated, "European intelligence sources say Hezbollah has acquired two to three UAVs from Iran . . . . In addition, Hezbollah has gathered an international team of engineers and scientists to equip the UAVs with a weapons system, enabling it to use the aircraft for a limited combat role as well as reconnaissance. Some reports indicate that later versions of the Iranian Mohajer can be equipped to fire chemical weapons." And Israeli sources provided similar analysis in 2004, stating that "Iran supplied Hezbollah with 8 such drones, and over the past two years some 30 Lebanese operatives have undergone training at Revolutionary Guards' bases near Isfahan to fly similar aircraft."

The drone launch comes atop ongoing revelations about the degree to which Iran has managed to build up Hizballah's deadly arsenal. Writing in the Weekly Standard in late July, counterterrorism consultant Dan Darling provided a detailed analysis of Hizballah's arsenal:

Hezbollah has deployed a range of extremely sophisticated weapons against Israel. The most notable has been the Iranian C-802 Noor (Tondar) variant of the Chinese Silkworm missile that was used against an Israeli gunship off the Lebanese coast. Four Israeli sailors were killed, and the gunship was put out of commission.

The Associated Press reports that "Iran is believed to have supplied Hezbollah with up to 120 Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets, with ranges of 22 miles and 45 miles respectively," noting that it was a Fajr-3 that is thought to have been responsible for an attack on Haifa that killed 8 civilians. More recently, Israeli military officials have sought to destroy sites in Lebanon believed to house long-range Zelzal missiles of Iranian manufacture that they suspect are capable of hitting Tel Aviv.

CBN News analyst John Waage also noted that "[t]he Russian made Metis M anti-tank missile, supplied by Iran, is among the most deadly weapons in the Hezbollah arsenal. At least 44 Israeli soldiers have been killed by the missiles, which can punch through the steel of Israel’s highly-regarded Merkava tanks."

One cannot understand the current conflict in Lebanon without understanding the degree that Iran has sponsored Hizballah and built up its arsenal. And just as Iran is the key to understanding the present realities of the conflict, so too is its sponsorship a critical factor in understanding what Hizballah's future will be after a ceasefire is eventually reached.

August 8, 2006 03:45 PM

 

Shakeup Israeli Army

Chief of staff appoints his deputy Maj.-Gen Moshe Kaplinsky as personal representative in the IDF’s northern command

August 8, 2006, 8:35 PM (GMT+02:00)

DEBKAfile’s military sources add: Notwithstanding the official denials, this step is a manifestation of dissatisfaction on the part of chief of staff, Lt-Gen Dan Halutz, with the conduct of the war and his lack of confidence in the IDF’s northern command’s ability to carry the campaign forward without on-location supervision.

Questions regarding Maj.-Gen Udi Adam’s competence for this particular campaign were asked at the outset of the war, which erupted on July 12 when Hizballah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, killed 8 and loosed its first rocket attack on northern Israel.

Gen. Adam specializes in classical tank warfare. He has never encountered comprehensive warfare in Lebanon’s special conditions against a Hizballah guerrilla force backed by Iranian and Syrian sponsors, trainers and armorers.

In the first month of the conflict, Israeli tanks and their crews have borne the brunt of battle losses, prey to Hizballah’s anti-tank weapons, for which no tactical answer has been found. Neither have Hizballah strongholds been cracked in places such as Bin Jubeil ,where the fighting flares up time and again after Hizballa fighters have been ostensibly cleared out. The IDF’s backbone, the Merkava tanks, are clearly too vulnerable and Hizballah fortifications too difficult to breach.

The chief of staff, although advised in the third week of the war by many senior officers including reserve generals to shake up the northern command to restore its edge and offensive momentum, was reluctant to change horses in mid-war. He rejected advice to take a leaf of army chiefs in other wars and place more experienced and gifted generals alongside the chief of the northern command. He was reminded that the deadly reverses of the 1973 Yom Kippur War were addressed by appointing former chief of staff Haim Barlev to the southern command to oversee Gen. Shmuel Gorodish.

The name that came up most recently was Maj.-Gen (res.) Gabi Ashkenzi, who headed the northern command until last year and knows the Hizballah arena like the palm of his hand. Gen. Halutz brushed these proposed changes aside, fearing the Yom Kippur analogy would prompt questions about the preparedness of the general staff as a whole for the Lebanon war, the appointments he approved in the last year and his repeated assertion that he sees no danger of conventional war in the IDF’s foreseeable future.

This misperception which dominated the consciousness of political and military decision-makers also colored the selection of senior commanders.

However, Tuesday, August 8, when Halutz saw the northern command was incapable of finishing the Bin Jubeil battle, he decided to send Gen. Kaplinsky, 49, into the breach. As former OC Central Command, Kaplinsky’s forte is the disposition of ground forces. He is a former commander of the Golani infantry brigade.

Kaplinsky needs to pull off the feat the late Moshe Dayan managed in 1967 on the eve of the Six-Day War – to pick up in short order the Israeli army’s once-acclaimed capabilities as a limber, versatile, fast-moving, innovative force that is crowned with success. After a campaign which has dragged on for too long with too much loss of life and too few successes, Israel thirsts for a breakthrough to victory.

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Lebanon Hostilities Are Nowhere Near a

UN-initiated Cessation

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis

August 8, 2006, 11:37 PM (GMT+02:00)

Tuesday night, Aug. 8, the UN Security Council was to begin discussing a resolution drafted by the US and France calling for a full cessation of hostilities based on the immediate halt of all Hizballah’s attacks and immediate end of all Israeli offensive military operations.

A second resolution, the second half of the US-French effort to resolve the Middle East crisis by diplomacy, would set out a mandate for an international force to be sent out to Lebanon.

An Arab League delegation arrived at the UN in time to overshadow the deliberations with a strong representation of the Lebanese position, which insists on an Israel’s withdrawal after a ceasefire starts.

France pushed for two changes in the original text to address the Arab-Lebanese demands: one, calling for the Israeli pullout before an international force is in place, the other, the handover of the tiny disputed Shebaa Farms enclave to UN custody.

The United States is reluctant to amend the text, but US Condoleezza Rice has promised to “listen to the concerns of the parties and see how they may be addressed.”

And France, as the Bush administration’s conduit to Hizballah and Tehran, may be heeded.

The French-Arab-Lebanese-ploy was carefully stage-managed.

As part of the show, prime minister Fouad Siniora burst into tears at the Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Beirut Monday, Aug. 7, when he counted the war’s cost to Lebanon, and the Syrian foreign minister Walild Mualem marched out of the meeting in protest against the proceedings.

The same day, US president George W. Bush delivered an address from his Texas ranch in which he labeled Hizballah the “root cause” of the Lebanese crisis and backed Israel’s case all the way. However, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice broke in with some down-to-earth comments. “We believe the first resolution draft is the right solution but we will listen to the parties after the Arab foreign ministers meeting in Beirut,” she said.

Within hours of the meeting’s breakup, the Arab delegation was on its way to UN Headquarters in New York bearing aloft Lebanon’s demands for changes in the US-French UN Security Council resolution draft.

Paris stood ready to chip in with two textual changes.

After night fell, the Beirut government decided unanimously to post Lebanese soldiers in the south to cooperate with UNIFIL - as soon as Israeli troops had departed. Surprisingly, the five Hizballah ministers and allies endorsed the motion.

The props were now in place for the next stage of the performance: a combined effort to rewrite the US-French resolution so as to hustle Israeli troops out of South Lebanon and wrap up the Lebanon war by a ceasefire, without waiting for the “robust” international force which Israel is holding out for to come into being.

In his address, the US president conveyed the impression that Israel had plenty of time to complete its mission – Israeli officials were still talking on that fateful Monday about “several weeks of combat” still to come. But DEBKAfile reports that Rice, in an effort to regain American initiative in the Lebanese crisis, was busy making quiet contacts, mainly through the Saudis, to terminate the conflict.

DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report that in Paris, the Saudis put the Lebanese majority leader Saad Hariri to work with guidelines for PM Siniora on the force for South Lebanon.

In Washington, ex-ambassador to the US Prince Bandar, coordinator of the Saudi secret services, undertook to bring Syrian president Basher Assad aboard.

If the French-Arab-Lebanese initiative is allowed to proceed according to plan, DEBKAfile’s analysts foresee the following potential results, none of which were envisaged a month ago:

1. Lebanon will place on the ready units for deployment in South Lebanon. It will be a token force. While making a show of calling up reserves to deploy 15,000 men in the south, Lebanon has no reserve army only a special airborne commando battalion called The Leopards which numbers no more than 1,000 men.

2. France will place on standby a similar number of paratroops to eke out UNIFIL’s deployment ahead of the main multinational stabilization force.

3. Following a UN Security Council call for the immediate cessation of hostilities, the French contingent will fly to South Lebanon to form a buffer between the IDF and Hizballah forces.

4. It will do so on the basis of a Hizballah pledge to refrain from firing on the French-Lebanese deployment.

5. A token UNIFIL force of no more than some scores of troops will be posted at the Lebanese border crossings to Syria to try and monitor arms deliveries from Syria and Iran to Hizballah.

6. Either the Security Council or the commanders of this mixed force will demand that Israel desist from attacking Hizballah after obtaining a commitment from Hassan Nasrallah to stop firing rockets at Israel.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Hizballah is badly in need of a pause in the fighting. Israeli military pressure has taken a heavy toll of his resources.

7. Israel will face the demand to immediately pull its troops behind the international border, the Blue Line.

8. Hizballah will face a corresponding demand to pull its forces out of South Lebanon. But it will be understood in private exchanges that they will leave only after Israel cedes to international control the disputed Shebaa Farms. In the interim, Hizballah fighters will stay put with the status of “civilian residents.”

9. Indirect talks on the exchange of prisoners leading to the release of the two Israeli soldiers abducted by Hizballah, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, will begin through an international broker.

If this plan goes through, the Olmert government will come out of a painful and devastating war without achieving any of its objectives. Hizballah will have suffered a beating without being broken or bowed. The IDF will not have repaired its deterrent strength, and Hizballah, rather than Israel, will be seen - at least by Arab opinion -as having come out on top. A ransom in the coin of a prisoner exchange will be paid for the Israeli hostages. It is hard to see any force capable or willing to make Nasrallah pull his troops out of South Lebanon or disarm after the Israeli army failed.

Financial assistance will flood into Lebanon to repair the damage caused by Israeli bombardments; Israel will have to foot its own bill for the destruction wrought by Hizballah to one third of the country and the ruin of its economy.

Of course, Israel is still free to accept or reject these terms.

Wednesday, Aug 9, the day after the first Security Council discussion on the crisis, Israel’s inner cabinet will be asked to approve the expansion of the military offensive to push Hizballah up to the Litani River and beyond. The Olmert government must also decide whether to stick by its demand for an “effective” multinational destabilization force to move into the south before Israel removes its army.

The snap appointment of a high-powered general, deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen Moshe Kaplinsky, to supervise the war from the IDF’s northern command, is designed to give wings to the slow slog of Israel’s war effort.

But it may be too late to turn the war round. The role played by France in this initiative is ambivalent. While the Americans believe the French are partners, in fact Paris is playing a double game and working closely with Tehran. The amendments France is pushing for would manipulate the United Nations into granting Nasrallah everything he wants if only he makes a show of removing his guerrillas from the south until the heat is off and they can filter back.

Until it is decided which way diplomacy is going, both Hizballah and Israel will intensify their effort to gain the upper hand on the battlefield.

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About 150 Hizballah rockets pummel N. Israel up to Tuesday evening, Day 28 of war

August 8, 2006, 7:02 PM (GMT+02:00)

One Israeli civilian sustains moderate injuries in Maalot. Dozens of locations are under fire, with Kiryat Shemona, a town of 28,00, again taking the brunt of the barrage. More apartments were damaged along devastated streets shops were leveled. Safed homes badly hit. Golan again hit, some of the rockets landed on the Syrian side of the border. Firefighters continue to battle woodland flames ignited by the rockets.

Haifa had 48 quiet hours.

 


Israeli Air Force says small Hizballah drone downed heading for Israel did not carry explosives

August 7, 2006, 8:58 PM (GMT+02:00)

F-16 warplanes shot the Mersad-1 (picture) down at a low altitude 10 km out at sea northwest of the Haifa coast. The drone is capable of carrying 45 kilos of explosives, but this flight was apparently sent over Israel for the first time to test the permeability of its air space for further drone incursions. Hizballah is known to have received 8 drones from Iran. F-16 and pilotless craft were busy over Haifa bay after the incident in case Hizballah sends more such craft, this time loaded with ordnance.

 

 

DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose: Hizballah’s rocket offensive against Israel is orchestrated from a rear command located in the Syrian town of Anjar

August 7, 2006, 12:41 PM (GMT+02:00)

While Israeli officials keep on insisting that Syria must be kept out of the conflict, the fact is that the Assad regime is already in it up to their ears – with a leading role in the Hizballah rocket attacks on northern Israel.

The command which coordinates the pace of those attacks is located at the Anjar base of the Syrian Army’s 10th Division opposite the Lebanese town of Az Zabdani.
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First Katyusha rockets land Monday in Nahariya region in the west and Kiryat Shemona and Galilee panhandle in the east

August 7, 2006, 11:17 AM (GMT+02:00)

One civilian injured in Shlomi. Most Galilee towns have been alerted and their inhabitants ordered to enter bomb shelters.

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Hizballah’s blitz against Israel peaked Sunday, Day 26 of the war, killing 15 Israelis, injuring more than 200 – men and women, Jews and Arabs

August 7, 2006, 12:04 AM (GMT+02:00)

They fired at least 250 rockets across northern Israel, four times as many as the Germans ever dropped on Britain in one day during World War II. An estimated 13 heavy 220 mm rockets from Syria hit seven buildings in Haifa.

Israel struck back fast and took out the launchers at at Burj Rahal northeast of the Lebanese port of Tyre which fired at Haifa. DEBKAfile’s military sources report Hassan Nasrallah has ordered all members of his senior command, military and political alike, to go underground, disconnect their phones and refuse media interviews in the present period which he sees as marking the decisive stage of the war.


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Israel air force destroys launchers in Burj Rahal NE of Tyre, which fired rockets at Haifa, killing 3 people and injuring 189 Sunday night

August 7, 2006, 8:31 AM (GMT+02:00)

Seven long-range rocket launchers were destroyed in th Tyre region Sunday night

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DEBKAfile: As the tide of the Lebanon war begins to turn in Israel’s favor, Tehran sends a secret weapon to Hizballah’s rescue: archterrorist Imad Mughniyeh

Wanted for 1985 TWA hijack and murder of US navy diver August 5, 2006, 5:08 PM (GMT+02:00)

Our sources reveal Mughniyeh was ordered by Iran’s supreme ruler Ali Khamenei to take command of the South Lebanese warfront, after Israeli forces succeeded in driving Hizballah guerrillas into five pockets.

The Israeli army’s changed tactics and their marginal effect on the level of Hizballah rocket fire are discussed in DEBKAfile’s Exclusive Military Report... [ LINK HERE ]

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Syrian FM Mualem in Beirut: If Israel wants a regional war, that’s fine with us. Lebanon rejects US-French UN draft

August 6, 2006, 9:56 PM (GMT+02:00)

Arab League foreign ministers to hold an impromptu meeting in the Lebanese capital Monday, Aug. 7. They will try and hash out a response to the US-French UN draft which the Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri, head of the Shiite Amal, said Sunday is not acceptable to Beirut. He warned that Lebanon faces the danger of renewed civil war. [ LINK HERE ]

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IDF activity in Lebanon in the past 24 hours - Aug 6, 2006

Over the weekend approximately 40 Hezbollah were killed by IDF forces. Since July 12th over 400 Hezbollah fighters have been killed by IDF forces.

An IDF soldier was seriously injured today by a mortar shell which fell in an Israeli base near the Lebanese border.

Over the past 24 hours, IDF infantry, armored and engineering forces operated in southern Lebanon:

IDF Forces in the village of Aitaroun identified a number of armed gunmen approaching them, fired at them and identified hitting them.


Forces operating in Yaroun uncovered stores of weaponry, including anti-tank missiles.


In Rajamin, forces identified several armed gunman, fired at them and identified hitting them.


In Bint Jbeil forces destroyed a rocket launcher aimed at Israel.


In the village of Mahbib forces found 100 mortar shells.


In the area of Blaida, IDF forces came under anti-tank fire. Forces returned fire towards the source of fire.

In the past 24 hours the IDF carried out 170 aerial attacks across Lebanon. Today forces attacked, among other targets, Katyusha rocket launchers, bridges used by the Hezbollah for ammunition supplies, and structures used by Hezbollah.

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Two soldiers die of their wounds raising to 12 the toll of Israeli army reservists killed Sunday by a single Hizballah rocket outside Kibbutz Kfar Gileadi near Kiryat Shemona

August 6, 2006, 7:57 PM (GMT+02:00)

Doctors are fighting for the lives of another soldier. Of the 13 hospitalized from same incident, five are still in serious condition.

More than 170 rockets were fired by Sunday afternoon, most in the Kiryat Shemona region of the Galilee panhandle. Defense minister Amir Peretz canceled his meeting Sunday with the visiting US official David Welch.
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At least three dead, more than 160 injured, in heavy Hizballah rocket attack on Haifa, the second deadly attack Sunday. Seven residential blocks were hit in different parts of Israel’s third largest city.

August 6, 2006, 10:01 PM (GMT+02:00)

Emergency teams dig victims out of rubble.

The second wave of rockets also targeted Haifa’s environs, Hadera, Binyamina and Jezreel Valley to the south and, again, Kiryat Shemona.

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Peres: America, Russia and India are discovering suddenly they have no strategy for fighting terrorists, or even the right weapons

August 6, 2006, 7:44 PM (GMT+02:00)

It will take time but we’ll get there in the end, said the Israeli deputy prime minister. The terrorists think they are on top, but we are doing well; we have destroyed most of the Hizballah’s long-range launchers although most of the short-range rocket launchers are still intact. Our soldiers, said Peres, are doing an impressive job of cleaning out the terrain and we’ll get there.

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Six soldiers injured in battle in south Lebanon Sunday, one seriously in clash with Hizballah at Ras al Baaideh south of Tyre

August 6, 2006, 7:05 PM (GMT+02:00)

In the last 48 hours, special forces operating between Tyre and the Israeli border destroyed three rocket launchers, three ammo stores and several vehicles carrying rockets. Five more were injured when Hizballah guerrillas attacked Israei military vehicles advancing on Adayseh village in the Eastern Sector of South Lebanon, source of many of the rockets fired at Kiryat Shemona and the Galilee panhandle. Hizballah lost 15 dead in both engagements. Three taken prisoner.

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One of the Hizballah kidnappers of the two Israeli soldiers has been captured

August 6, 2006, 6:43 PM (GMT+02:00)

Reporting this to the cabinet in Jerusalem, the military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin said he is being questioned in the hope of finding a lead to the hostages.

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Israel air force hit a suspect Hizballah vehicle South of Tyre. Its freight, apparently rockets, went up in a huge explosion

August 6, 2006, 3:29 PM (GMT+02:00)

The first Israeli air strikes against a village in the Sidon area were staged Sunday morning, Aug. 6, targeting sites from which long-range missiles were fired on Hadera, midway between Haifa and Tel Aviv, Friday night. Leaflets dropped Saturday, ordered the population to leave their homes.


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The first two IDF reservists were killed in action in Lebanon. They were among five servicemen who died Friday and Saturday

August 6, 2006, 6:06 PM (GMT+02:00)

They are: Capt. Dr. Igor Rothstein, 35, from Naot Oved near Tiberias, who volunteered for reserve duty as a medic and was killed at Markaba in the Eastern Sector, and Cpl Kyril Kashdan, 26, from Haifa, who died in Ayta a-Shaab in the west.

Sgt. Or Shahar, 21, from Kibbutz Yad Mordecai was killed Friday night in action in the Taibe area; 1st Sgt Daniel Shiran, 20, from Haifa, and 1st Sgt. Omri Elmakis, 20, from Ramleh, were killed in combat in the Eastern Sector of South Lebanon. An estimated 50 Hizballah fighters were killed in the last 48 hours and prisoners taken.


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Four Israel women killed in Hizballah barrage of 175 rockets Saturday – the heaviest on Kiryat Shemona and W. Galilee. Fifteen civilians die in rocket attacks on northern Israel in four days

August 5, 2006, 12:26 PM (GMT+02:00)

Three of the victims on Day 25 of the war were a mother and her two daughters In the W. Galilee village of Arb al-Aramshe: Fadiya Jum’a, 60, Samira, 33, and Sultana, 31. In an earlier barrage in the Haifa region, Frieda Kellner, 87 died of heart failure when an 11-rocket volley landed outside her home. Six people were injured in Haifa’s Kiryat Motzkin, Kiryat Haim and Kiryat Yam, which suffered major damage to homes and cars, as did Kiryat Shemona in the afternoon.


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Iran supplies Hizballah with a battery of upgraded Zelzal missiles that can reach Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona

August 4, 2006, 11:09 PM (GMT+02:00)

This disclosure by DEBKA-Net-Weekly 264 was confirmed Friday, August 4, by Ali-Akbar Mohtashami-Pour, former Iranian ambassador to Damascus and Tehran’s senior liaison with Hizballah. The acquisition of an improved Zelzal through Syria with a range of 350-400 km was behind Hassan Nasrallah’s threat to bomb Tel Aviv if Beirut came under another Israel air attack.


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