The real news. Lebanon and the ‘Persian Project’

The real and serious news today is the protests all over Lebanon and seemingly the ones in Egypt and elsewhere, but the ones in Lebanon got the most attention from STRATFOR this morning. I have received no less than a dozen SITREPS on closures of highways, major demonstrations and movements of people in Lebanon who are concerned about Hizb’allah and the Hariri matter.

I cannot post them all here, as STRATFOR is a paid service and while, as I do pay for it, I do not mind posting the odd one which is directly relevent to our specific field of interest here at Vladtepesblog, I am not comfortable posting all of the,

In that spirit, I make the following suggestion.

Sometimes, runs a special where you can get two weeks free to try their product. Now that The Islamic Brotherhood is trying to capitalize on the inertia of the coup in Tunisia, and that strong forces are acting in Lebanon, and the North Caucasus seems to be stepping up it’s game, I think now might be a really good time to get that two week offer.

Not that Stratfor is perfect, I have a few issues with them. They seem to think that Islam as an ideology is not an issue and it is a standard geopolitical matter for one thing. However as an augmentary source of information, I am very grateful for it. Today’s news out of Lebanon alone is worth the effort to get the subscription, certainly if it is free.

Eeyore for Vladtepesblog.


As Heznazi backed billionaire, Najib Mikati, was granted to form a government as prime minister-designate, other forces in Lebanon are not taking the Heznazi’s increase in political power.

Anti-Hezbollah protests in north Lebanon

Hundreds of demonstrators take to streets of Tripoli to denounce impeding appointment of Hezbollah-backed candidate Najib Mikati as PM.

TRIPOLI – More than 500 people gathered on Monday in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli to denounce the impending appointment of Hezbollah-backed candidate Najib Mikati as prime minister.

Supporters of acting Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose government collapsed earlier this month, gathered in a town square chanting “Out with Najib!” and “Hezbollah, party of the devil!” as gunshots were heard in the area.

The demonstrators vowed they would return in force on Tuesday at the urging of local Sunni Muslim sheikhs.

The billionaire Mikati, a native of Tripoli, was tipped to replace Saudi-backed Hariri after Hezbollah and its allies named him on Monday as their candidate for the premiership.

Hariri, a popular Sunni leader, has said he would not take part in a government headed by a candidate chosen by the Shiite militant group.

More here


The Tundra Tabloids warns that the preverbal sh*t is about to meet that fan. KGS

Hezbollah and allies to topple Lebanon government: report

(Reuters) – Ministers from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and its political allies will resign on Wednesday, forcing the collapse of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s government, a senior political source said.

“The resignation statement has been written and will be announced at 4.30pm (7:30 a.m. EST),” he said. Eleven ministers would resign, enough to automatically bring the government down, added the source, who asked not to be named.

Lebanese politicians on Tuesday said Saudi Arabia and Syria had failed to forge a deal to curb political tensions in Lebanon over a U.N.-backed tribunal set up to try the killers of Hariri’s father, former premier Rafik al-Hariri.

Disagreements over the investigation had paralysed the “unity” government and revived fears of sectarian conflict.

Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the 2005 bombing which killed Rafik Hariri and 22 others. It has denounced the tribunal as an “Israeli project” and urged Saad al-Hariri to reject its findings — a demand he has resisted.

European terror attack feared as al-Qaida fighters disappear from base in Lebanon

From The Guardian:

Palestinian Islamists militants The Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in south Lebanon is a hotbed of militants. Photograph: Nabil Mounzer/EPA

Intelligence services throughout the Middle East and Europe are scrambling to track down more than two dozen fighters linked to al-Qaida who have recently left their base in southern Lebanon.

The missing men are thought to have gone to Europe by a newly established route through Syria, Turkey and the Balkans, and multiple intelligence sources in Lebanon warn that the group appears to be operational and could be planning attacks in Europe in the holiday season.

“Yes, they have left the camp,” confirmed Munir al-Maqda, a senior Palestine Liberation Organisation official in the Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp, where the fighters had been hiding for the past few years. Because the Lebanese army is not allowed to enter the country’s 13 Palestinian refugee camps, militants have long sought refuge inside them.

Two Lebanese intelligence service officials – who could only discuss the matter off the record – said Lebanon was co-operating with European intelligence organisations to track down the militants, who are described as “extremely dangerous”.

The militants, who based themselves in an area on the outskirts of the Ain el-Hilweh camp – Lebanon’s largest and most densely populated refugee centre, with more than 50,000 people living within one square mile – had been a disparate group of freelance fighters and jihadists thought to have carried out a series of attacks in Lebanon over the last five years that targeted the Lebanese army, Christian districts and UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon. Continue Reading →

US envoy Oren warns: Hizbullah has 15,000 rockets on border


09/04/2010 03:23

Ambassador says Islamist group amassing arsenal in southern Lebanon with long enough range to hit Eilat; missiles now hidden beneath hospitals, homes and schools to avoid Israeli Air Force strikes.
Talkbacks (16)

Hizbullah has an arsenal of approximately 15,000 rockets amassed on Lebanon’s border with Israel, including some with a long enough range to hit the southern city of Eilat, US envoy Michael Oren told AFP on Friday.

“The Syrian-Iranian backed Hizbullah poses a very serious threat to Israel…Hizbullah today now has four times as many rockets as it had during the 2006 Lebanon war. These rockets are longer-range. Every city in Israel is within range right now, including Eilat,” he said.

Oren expressed Israeli concerns with Hizbullah’s concealment of the weapons as well.

“In 2006, many of their missiles were basically out in the open, in silos and the Israeli air force was able to neutralize a great number of them…Today those same missiles have been placed under hospitals, and homes and schools because Hizbullah knows full well if we try to defend ourselves against them, we will be branded once again as war criminals.”

This was not the first time that Oren has warned of the threat that Hizbullah poses to Israel. Following a clash on the northern border between the Lebanese Army and IDF soldiers last month, in which Lebanese soldiers opened fire on two IDF officers, killing one and seriously wounding the other, Oren warned that the distinction between Lebanon’s Army and Hizbullah has become “cloudy.” He expressed concerns that advanced weaponry given to the regular army could find its way into the hands of the Islamist group.

Following the border clashes and Oren’s warnings, the US Congress voted to suspend $100 million in aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces.

What the World Isn’t Being Told about the Israeli-Lebanese Border Incident

Pajamas media did an excellent and blunt description of what took place on the Israeli side of the Lebanese border early this week, with a critique of the SM handling of the event. The first part is here, and you can click here to read the rest of it over at Pajamas Media.

Despite the careful “he said … she said” approach of the mainstream news media about the clash along the Lebanese-Israeli border this week, events are quite clear: Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were deliberately ambushed by Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).

In an outdoor press conference held at a lookout point above the Lebanese border where the incident occurred, Ilan Diksteyn, the deputy commander of the Israeli brigade, explained what happened. The IDF had notified the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)  of its intentions and complied with multiple requests to delay a routine job that should have started early in the morning and didn’t get going till midday.

According to Diksteyn, he had personally walked the border with the UNIFIL commander and identified all the trees and shrubs they intended to cut down, all approved of as being located on the Israeli side of the border by the UNIFIL commander. The key tree was some 200 meters from the Blue Line, so there was not the most remote possibility that Israel trespassed on Lebanese territory. The IDF even set out the crane without a man in it, just to demonstrate their intentions beforehand.

But no sooner did they put a man in the unit and lift him over the fence than a sniper shot and killed the commanding officer of the unit who was away from the border and observing from a distance. Despite claiming they fired first in the air, and that Israel initiated the hostilities, an LAF spokesman eventually asserted their right “to defend Lebanon’s sovereignty.”

The Israelis claim this was an ambush by units of the Lebanese Armed Forces. And as such, this was an unprecedented new level of aggression. Even the normally cautious UNIFIL, which the previous day had restricted itself to calling for calm and announcing its intention to investigate, eventually — and exceptionally — sided with Israel’s claim that the tree was on their side of the border. Even the Lebanese admit they carried out an ambush.

Of course, for UNIFIL to do so means that Israel had to be unquestionably and irrefutably in the right — “2-300 meters away,” the Israeli officer claimed. Otherwise the UN troops, which operate on the Lebanese side of the border and are subject to constant harassment by Hezbollah, would have found some way to equivocate if not prevaricate. After all, in violation of UN Resolution 1701, which the UNIFIL forces have been deployed to enforce, Hezbollah has managed to rearm and reoccupy the southern border. Indeed, pictures of UNIFIL troops standing side by side with heavily armed LAF troops suggest that the efforts to prevent a clash consisted primarily in getting the Israelis not to do what they had a right to do, rather than preventing the Lebanese from doing what they had no right to do.

From here on out, however, the story gets fuzzy. While some newspapers acknowledged UNIFIL’s confirmation of the Israeli “narrative,” few bothered to draw out the implications, and some, like France2, continued to insist the tree was on the Lebanese side. The New York Times, for example, in a remarkably uninformed article, acknowledged the correction, but ended up repeating the “he said … she said” dance by quoting Lebanese officials rather than questioning them about the problems. The Wall Street Journal emphasized the efforts of UNIFIL to prevent an incident, without even addressing the disturbing evidence that they collaborated in the ambush, and then took a day to state what they knew from the beginning — that Israel was on its own turf.

Two reports on the Israel – Lebanon border issue

Here first is a STRATFOR report which is quite well done and actually offers a decent analysis as well as report what both sides claim took place.

Below, a Reuters report where I have added a couple of facts myself. This report is so poorly done as to be fiction as it bears little to no resemblance to any facts on the ground.

Media bias? More like media conspiracy against Israel

Here is a rather excellent example of why the world thinks as it does about the state of Israel.

H/T Gates of Vienna, this article from Gloria Center:

Today’s Example of Ridiculous Media Bias Against Israel

By Barry Rubin

Along Israel’s border with Lebanon, east of Metulla, some bushes were pushing in on the border fence. The fence is set in slightly from the border precisely so that Israeli soldiers can work on it. The IDF called UNIFIL and informed the UN that this work was going to be done today so that they could tell the Lebanese army that there was no aggression going on but just routine maintenance. Soldiers from UNIFIL came to observe and can be seen standing next to Israeli soldiers in the photos. Photographers were also standing by to film the operation.

But Lebanese soldiers opened fire on the Israelis who were working and in no way acting aggressively. The fact that journalists were standing next to the Lebanese soldiers shows that they knew Israel was going to do this maintenance and were observing. After the Israeli soldiers were ambushed, they returned fire. One Israeli officer was killed, another seriously wounded; three Lebanese soldiers, and a Lebanese (?) journalist were killed.

So how did Reuters and Yahoo report this? By saying that Israeli soldiers had crossed into Lebanon and been fired on, thus implying the Lebanese army was acting in self-defense! Other news agencies merely reported: Israel says the soldiers were inside Israel; Lebanon says they were on Lebanese territory. Continue Reading →

STRATFOR: Israelis never left Israeli territory

Israel: Photo Shows Soldiers Did Not Cross Border – IDF STRATFOR.COM

August 3, 2010
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) released an aerial photograph showing that IDF soldiers were in Israeli territory during clashes with Lebanese soldiers, The Jerusalem Post reported Aug. 3. A U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) representative reportedly confirmed the information. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Lebanon that Israel would respond with force to any further incidents.

Ynet news on Lebanon-Israel ‘war’?

Photo: Reuters

Dead, wounded in massive skirmish on Lebanon border

Explosions rock northern border Tuesday as IDF clashes with Lebanese forces; at least four Lebanese reportedly killed; Northern residents in Israel report major blasts, UNIFIL urges both sides to show restraint

Ynet reporters

Latest Update: 08.03.10, 15:30 / Israel News

Fire in the north: A day after rockets were fired at Eilat, loud explosions were reported on the northern border as Israeli and Lebanese forces engaged in massive exchanges of fire.

Security sources and witnesses in Lebanon said three Lebanese soldiers and a local journalist were killed in the clash.

Click link above for rest of story.

Israel – Lebanon exchange fire. Soldiers dead on both sides.

Information is coming in fast from

Typically, the first info is from the Muslim/Arab press and is highly spun. However according to Al Arabya, the Prime Minister of Lebanon has called for a ‘confrontation’ with Israel ‘no matter what the cost’ and there is one soldier dead on the Israeli side as well as several dead on the Lebanese side. I have no idea as to the cause or provocations but find your favourite source of geopolitical news and dial in. Something is going on in South Lebanon for sure involving live fire, machine gun and artillery. That much is certain.

UPDATE   Egypt now sides with Lebanon against what they call Israeli violations, and may be. I have no idea at this point.  UPDATE

Here is a Tundra Tabloids prediction for this action or something similar: Take it seriously.

STRATFOR: Lebanon – Israel exchange fire

August 3, 2010

U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon urged “maximum restraint” after an exchange of fire between the Lebanese and Israeli armies along the Blue Line in the area of al-Udaysah village, Reuters reported Aug. 3, citing a U.N. spokesman. U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon Deputy Commander Santi Bonfanti is in contact with the Israelis and Lebanese, the spokesman said. Israeli troops fired four shells from tanks, with the Lebanese responding with two shells and fire rounds, according to Al-Alam TV. According to unnamed Lebanese security sources, an Israeli tank targeted a Lebanese army position, slightly injuring a Lebanese soldier. In another report, Al-Arabiya said two Lebanese were injured.

Khaled Abu Toameh: The Palestinian victims no one talks about

NATIONALPOST… When was the last time the United Nations Security Council met to condemn an Arab government for its mistreatment of Palestinians?

How come groups and individuals on university campuses in the United States and Canada that call themselves “pro-Palestinian” remain silent when Jordan revokes the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians?

The plight of Palestinians living in Arab countries in general, and Lebanon in particular, is one that is often ignored by the mainstream media in West.

How come they turn a blind eye to the fact that Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and many more Arab countries continue to impose severe travel restrictions on Palestinians?

And where do these groups and individuals stand regarding the current debate in Lebanon about whether to grant Palestinians long-denied basic rights, including employment, social security and medical care?

Or have they not heard about this debate at all? Probably not, since the case has failed to draw the attention of most Middle East correspondents and commentators.

A news story on the Palestinians that does not include an anti-Israel angle rarely makes it to the front pages of Western newspapers. Continue Reading →