Arabic Versions are belowالنصوص العربية في أسفل
What actually is
Britain Cooking in the dark With Hezbollah, & is there any ethics in the
Succumbing to Terrorist Groups & Countries
The Price of Moving Closer to Hezbollah
By Tariq Alhomayed
Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat,
The reasons behind Britain's negotiation with the so-called political wing of Hezbollah have begun to be revealed. The available information indicates that the reasons for negotiations between Britain and Hezbollah are contrary to what had previously been announced. It seems that the main reason is London's desire to secure the release of the 5 Britons kidnapped in Baghdad two years ago, in return for the release of prisoners affiliated to Muqtada Al-Sadr's organization, as well as Hezbollah leaders held by the Americans in Iraq, rather than for the sake of Lebanon's stability.
Of course it is Britain's right to do all that is in its power to ensure the safety of its citizens, but there are important and essential issues with regards to Iraq, Lebanon and the Arab world which indicate the extent of the danger posed by the Iranians and their agents in the region.
It is enough to recall that the British Embassy in Baghdad received [video] tapes of the kidnapped Britons from a member of the Iraqi parliament, and that Hezbollah is demanding the release of one of its members who was captured not in Lebanon, but in Baghdad!
More importantly than all of this is that the British are not negotiating with the Sadrists or the Al-Maliki government for the release of the kidnapped Britons in Baghdad, rather they are negotiating with Hezbollah. The question here is; where do the borders of Hezbollah begin and where do they end?
And what is Hezbollah's role in Iraq and in our region as a whole? This is something that reminds us of the story of the capture of the American marine of Lebanese origin in Baghdad during the early days of the collapse of Saddam's regime, yet then the marine appeared in Lebanon [and it turned out the whole thing was a hoax].
So what was a senior Hezbollah leader doing in Baghdad? Who was he training there? Where did those he trained come from originally, and where did they go? What is the relationship between the Hezbollah leadership and the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard?
The other question here is; what is the role of Nuri Al-Maliki's government in Iraq, and its security which he is [always] talking about, especially following the withdrawal of US troops? How is it that a member of the Iraqi parliament delivered the tapes of the kidnapped Britons?
This is a suspicious and disturbing question that reveals to us the attributes of the Iraq that Iran and its agents in the region desire, and so it is clear that Iraq will be turned into a camp for Iran's agents such as Lebanon and others in the Arab world, yet we do not hear any complaint from the Baghdad government except those against the Al Qaeda organization.
As I said before, it is Britain's right to seek the release of its citizens, but who will seek the release of the larger number of innocent hostages who are in the clutches of the Iranians in Iraq, as well as the hostages that are at the mercy of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Therefore we have warned at great length against the subterfuge of talking about a political wing which is separate from the military wing of Hezbollah; they are both different sides of the same coin. Therefore it is absurd to say that negotiating with Hezbollah will lead to Lebanese stability, on the contrary the opposite will occur. For Western negotiation with Hezbollah will mislead the undecided in Lebanon - especially with regards to the forthcoming election - and they will believe that there is international recognition for the group. As for the Arabs, unfortunately it seems that they have yet to grasp the danger that the Iranian siege represents to them.
Hizbullah MP Invited to London By British
Hizbullah parliament member Hussein Hajj Hassan is scheduled to leave for the United Kingdom on Sunday in response to an invitation by British members of the House of Commons. A statement issued Saturday, by Hizbullah said that Hassan departs to London to attend a political parliamentary forum concerning the Middle East region. The United Kingdom previously announced that it would hold talks with Hizbullah's political wing only (that does not include the party's military wing).
London had categorized Hizbullah as a terrorist group refusing to have any form of contact with it. Beirut, 29 Mar 09, 09:56
Press: British Talks with Hizbullah Linked to Prisoners' Swap Deal
(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 28 Mar 09,
London has asked Hizbullah to mediate a prisoners' swap deal with the Iraqi Sadr movement in return for low-level talks between the British government and the Lebanese group's political wing, press reports said Saturday.
Britain is proposing to free a group of Sadrists and a Lebanese national detained by British forces in Baghdad in return for the release of five Britons being held by Muqtada al-Sadr's movement since 2007, the Guardian newspaper said in a report published in al-Akhbar daily. The Lebanese national was identified as Ali Moussawi Daqdouq and was arrested on charges of belonging to Hizbullah.
In a statement released Friday, a spokesman for the hostage-takers said an agreement had been reached with Britain and the U.S. to free the Britons gradually.
Efforts to finalize the deal were a -factor in Britain's move to re-engage publicly with Hezbollah's political wing in Lebanon this month.
A spokesman for the kidnappers, who identified himself as Abu Ali, said the handing over of a videotape last week, which showed one of the hostages, computer consultant Peter Moore, alive and well, was the first phase of the release agreement brokered with Britain.
The tape was handed to the British embassy in Baghdad by an Iraqi member of parliament.
The spokesman said one of the hostages would be freed soon, along with up to eight men, all Sadrist loyalists, who are currently being held by the US army in Iraq.
The first to be freed is expected to be Laith al-Khazali. The final stage of the deal would see Daqdouq, and Qais al-Khazali, Laith's brother and Sadr's former spokesman, freed in return for Moore.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We've seen similar reports. This is a sensitive case. We are not going to comment on one media report on alleged remarks by people claiming to be hostage-takers.
"We continue to do everything we can to try and secure the safe release of the hostages and remain extremely concerned for their safety. We call on those holding the hostages to release them immediately and unconditionally so that they can be reunited with their families and friends."
Britain has always insisted it would not make substantive concessions to hostage-takers.
The U.S. has long objected to the release of Qais al-Khazali, whom it accuses of coordinating an ambush in January 2007 in Karbala during which five U.S. troops were killed.
Daqdouq's future has been equally contentious. He is accused of being a 24-year veteran of Hizbullah's military wing. He is wanted by Israel, which claims he helped direct military operations against its forces throughout the 1990s and during the 2006 war in Lebanon.
The kidnappers on Friday for the first time acknowledged that Daqdouq was a senior member of the Lebanese organization, branding him a "Hizbullah leader."
The five Britons were seized in Baghdad two months later, on 27 May 2007, from a building linked to the Iraqi finance ministry.
A Sadrist MP who did not want to be named said two advisers in Iraqi Prime Minister Nour al-Maliki's office had been instrumental in brokering the deal. Sadr's spokesman could not be reached last night.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 28 Mar 09, 12:14
Britain defends move toward talks with
Daily Star staff
Monday, March 16, 2009
BEIRUT: British government spokesman, John Wilks, defended Sunday his country's decision to launch talks with Hizbullah officials. In a news conference in Amman, Wilks said: "The question we are asked constantly is: Why Hizbullah and not Hamas? And there are many reasons for our decision. First of all our contacts with Hizbullah come within the framework of our bilateral relations with Lebanon and Lebanon's situation differs from that of the Palestinians." He confirmed "Britain is a partner and a friend of Lebanon and we want to be a more effective friend." "We support the Lebanese government ... How can we perform this role if we do not hold contacts with all the parties represented in the government?" Wilks asked. - The Daily Star
Britain bars Hizbullah spokesman from entry
US shows discontent over UK's contact with party
By Andrew Wander
Daily Star staff
Saturday, March 14, 2009
BEIRUT: Hizbullah spokesman Ibrahim Moussawi has been denied a visa to visit Britain, despite initial news reports indicating that he had been granted permission to enter the county. The Daily Star understands that Moussawi's application has been turned down by British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith following a campaign to ban him from the country. A spokesman for the British Home Office said that he could not comment on individual visa applications.
Moussawi was due to speak at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London later this month, but the Conservative opposition called for him to be refused entry to the country because of anti-Semitic comments he is alleged to have made. Moussawi, who has been allowed to speak in Britain on at least two occasions in the past, and holds a doctorate from an English university, has consistently denied making the comments.
But the British government has clamped down on allowing controversial speakers to visit the country in recent months. In February an anti-Islamic Dutch MP, Geert Wilders, was refused entry to Britain where he had planned to screen a controversial film attacking Muslims. Campaigners argued it would be "beyond hypocrisy" if Moussawi was allowed into the country in the wake of the decision.
He had been invited to speak about Hizbullah's "history, strategy and ideology," at SOAS, who described him as an "expert on Hizbullah and Islamist political theory." But such was the opposition to Moussawi's trip that some campaigners pledged to seek a warrant for his arrest if he was granted the visa. Media reports early on Thursday said that Moussawi had been granted the visa, but informed sources in London told The Daily Star that his application had been denied.
The decision comes just days after Britain confirmed that it had established low-level contacts with Hizbullah's political wing, a move which has apparently divided the Obama administration in Washington.
Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell said that the reason for the shift in policy was "to press Hizbullah to play a more constructive role and move away from violence."
The initial response from the US government was muted. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declined to comment on the matter, and the State Department simply confirmed that Britain had informed the US of its decision in advance and that Washington would watch to see how the policy proceeded.
But several days later US Ambassador Michele Sison reiterated Washington's assessment of Hizbullah as a terrorist organization, and on Thursday, the US government hinted that it was unhappy with Britain's decision to engage with the group.
A senior White House official, speaking anonymously, demanded that Britain explain "the difference between the political, social and military wings of Hizbullah because we don't see the difference between the integrated leadership that they see."The official, when asked if London had consulted Washington ahead of time, replied: "I would say informed under a previous administration is a more accurate description."
He also complained about Hizbullah's glorification of Imad Mughniyeh, the group's senior military commander who was assassinated in Damascus in February 2008, after spending two decades on Washington's most wanted list."For years Hizbullah denied having any knowledge of Imad Mugniyeh, for years Hizbullah pretended that Imad Mugniyeh and that whole era of Hizbullah was not really Hizbullah, it was something else," the official said. "And now all over south Beirut are all these posters extolling the virtues of Imad Mugniyeh." - With Agencies
US official condemns Britain’s decision to engage Hezbollah
Updated: Friday, March 13, 2009
Washington, 13 March (IranVNC)—A senior US official on Thursday criticized Britain’s decision to reestablish contact with the political wing of the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, revealing a rare split between the two allies. Britain’s Foreign Office said last week that London had reconsidered its position because Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, had joined a national unity government last July. However, the UK would continue to have no contact with Hezbollah’s military wing, which is on London’s list of banned organization. The senior US official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters that he would like Britain to “explain the difference between the political, military and social wings of Hezbollah,” London’s Telegraph daily reports.
“We don’t see the differences between the integrated leadership that they see,” the official was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying.
The US official also complained that US President Barack Obama’s administration was not properly informed of the move in advance, saying London had discussed its plans with the Bush administration. Last Friday, US State Department spokesperson, Gordon Duguid, said that Washington was not ready to follow London’s example, but he did not criticize the decision. Washington accuses Iran of funding Hezbollah, and says the group has a long record of terrorist activity.
Tehran says it only provides moral support for the group.
Sources: Telegraph newspaper, Los Angeles Times
© IranVNC 2009. All rights reserved.
Britain open to engaging in direct talks
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Friday, March 06, 2009
LONDON: Britain said Wednesday it was prepared to engage in direct contacts with the political wing of Hizbullah, after it became part of a national unity government last year. London has had no official talks with Hizbullah since 2005, and last July added its military wing to a blacklist of designated terrorist groups.
"We have reconsidered the position," Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell told a parliamentary committee hearing. The main reason was "in the light of more positive developments within Lebanon, the formation of the national unity government in which Hizbullah are participating, and for that reason we have explored establishing contacts." Rammell said there had already been a "first meeting", between a delegation of lawmakers from the main opposition Conservative party visiting Lebanon and a Lebanese parliamentary delegation which included a member of Hizbullah. "We will look to have further discussions and our overriding objective in that is to press Hizbullah to play a more constructive role and move away from violence," he said.But he stressed there would be no change toward Hamas, saying: "I don't think there's an analogy." Direct dialogue would only be established with Hamas once it signed up to internationally recognized commitments, he said, which included recognizing Israel's right to exist and rejecting violence. - AFP
Hizbullah Waiting to See How British
Statements Would Translate into Actions
Britain has authorized low-level contact with the political wing of Hizbullah, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Friday as the Shiite group announced it is waiting to see how these statements would translate into actions.
"The military wing of Hizbullah is proscribed in the UK," but the political wing is now represented in the Lebanese government, Miliband explained on BBC radio.
"In Lebanon they have one cabinet member and we've sanctioned low-level contacts with them so that we can make absolutely clear out determination to see United Nations Security Council resolution 1701, which calls for the disbanding of militias, among other things in Lebanon, taken forward with real speed."
He said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be telling Tehran that "Iranian engagement in the region with Hizbullah and others needs to be curbed because at the moment it's a force for instability."
London has had no official talks with Hizbullah since 2005, and last July added its military wing to a blacklist of designated terror groups.
Britain said Wednesday it was prepared to engage in direct contacts with Hizbullah's political wing, after it became part of a national unity government last year.
Hizbullah official Ibrahim Moussawi welcomed Miliband's announcement saying it was a "step in the right direction."
"Now we are waiting to see how these statements translate into actions," he told Agence France Presse.
Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell said Wednesday there had already been a "first meeting" between a delegation of lawmakers from Britain's main opposition Conservative Party visiting Lebanon and a Lebanese parliamentary delegation which included a Hizbullah member.
Britain's government spokesman also said that a decision to engage in direct contacts with Hizbullah's political wing was aimed at encouraging the Shiite group to steer clear from violence and play a more democratic role.
"Our aim is to encourage [Hizbullah] to stay away from violence and play a constructive, peaceful and democratic role in Lebanese politics," John Wilks told As Safir daily in remarks published Friday.
"In the past months, we were reconsidering our policy towards Hizbullah based on British interests," Wilks told the newspaper.
The change of policy has nothing to do with the policies adopted by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama and its openness to Syria and Iran, he stressed.
Asked if the British announcement would be followed by another decision to remove Hizbullah's military wing from the blacklist of terrorist groups, Wilks said: "Our policy is to stress Hizbullah's right to represent its electorates as a political party … The political wing of Hizbullah is of course part of the national unity government in Lebanon and the UK is doing everything possible to back this government."(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 06 Mar 09, 08:03
Hizballah was founded by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary
Guards, Pasdaran, in 1981. Its military organization responsible for terror
operations is part of the Consultative Council (majliss al shawra), which is
Hizballah’s supreme command, along with, the organization's legislators,
Fatwa clerics, financial executives and political operatives. This
"politbureau" of Hizballah oversees the military, security, doctrinal and
political actions of the entire apparatus -- there is no structural
Furthermore, the Jihad Council, Hizballah's War Department, which issues the orders for acts of terror, is headed by the Secretary General of the organization, Hassan Nasrallah and includes many of the organization’s “political leaders”: Hashem Safi al Din, Hussein al Khalil, Abbas Ruhani, Ibrahim Aqil, Fuad Shukr, Nabil Kauq and others.
Hezbollah's chart showing clearly that it is one organization with the military and terror networks under the Shura Council
Hizballah is not the IRA, which had a clearer delineation between its militia and its military wing, the Sin Fein. Moreover, Lebanon is not Northern Ireland. Yes, British citizens can be easily led to make the comparison by government using the clichés by which most Britons remember the IRA, but the attempt to fool the public will be short lived. The lack of separation between Hizballah’s political and military operations is well documented in public sources. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply ridiculous.
If the British government wishes to make that distinction, they will find themselves incapable of answering the most basic questions. Mr. Nasrallah, Hizballah’s secretary general and purported partner in any dialogue, is a la fois the chief political executive of the organization and Hizballah's supreme military commander. How then will meeting Nasrallah be political, when he is the commander in chief of the militia and its security apparatuses? Will diplomats meet with him between 9 and 11 AM when he is a secretary general and avoid him at other hours when he wears his military hat? It simply doesn't make sense.
If the British government wishes to engage in talks with a terrorist organization, it must make that case and not obfuscate its true intentions of working with the Hizballah’s political wing. At the end of the day, Hizballah will remain who it is, who it says it is and who it will continue to be: a terrorist organization devoted to Jihad against the West. It is more honest to try to convince the public that time to talk with Hizballah, Iran and Syria, and even perhaps Hamas, has come. It will be more productive to acknowledge that some liberal democracies aren't able to carry the load of a confrontation with the jihadists than to attempt to rewrite history and reality.
Even if the British government chooses to engage with Hizballah -- which is certainly a questionable strategy -- they should not do so on the false pretense that there are “two Hizballah’s” just as there were two IRA’s. There are not, and the British people are well aware of that fact.
Moreover, any negotiations which are premised on such a mis-characterization of the interlocutor cannot possibly succeed for the British. Hizballah, on the other hand, can and likely will.
**Dr Walid Phares, author of The Confrontation: Winning the War on Future Jihad is the Director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
EXCLUSIVE: Hezbollah uses Mexican
drug routes into U.S. Works beside smuggler cartels to fund operations
Sara A. Carter (Contact)
Friday, March 27, 2009
Hezbollah is using the same southern narcotics routes that Mexican drug kingpins do to smuggle drugs and people into the United States, reaping money to finance its operations and threatening U.S. national security, current and former U.S. law enforcement, defense and counterterrorism officials say. The Iran-backed Lebanese group has long been involved in narcotics and human trafficking in South America's tri-border region of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Increasingly, however, it is relying on Mexican narcotics syndicates that control access to transit routes into the U.S.
Hezbollah relies on "the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels," said Michael Braun, who just retired as assistant administrator and chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
"They work together," said Mr. Braun. "They rely on the same shadow facilitators. One way or another, they are all connected.
"They'll leverage those relationships to their benefit, to smuggle contraband and humans into the U.S.; in fact, they already are [smuggling]."
His comments were confirmed by six U.S. officials, including law enforcement, defense and counterterrorism specialists. They spoke on the condition that they not be named because of the sensitivity of the topic.
While Hezbollah appears to view the U.S. primarily as a source of cash - and there have been no confirmed Hezbollah attacks within the U.S. - the group's growing ties with Mexican drug cartels are particularly worrisome at a time when a war against and among Mexican narco-traffickers has killed 7,000 people in the past year and is destabilizing Mexico along the U.S. border.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was in Mexico on Thursday to discuss U.S. aid. Other U.S. Cabinet officials and President Obama are slated to visit in the coming weeks.
Hezbollah is based in Lebanon. Since its inception after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, it has grown into a major political, military and social welfare organization serving Lebanon's large Shi'ite Muslim community.
In 2006, it fought a 34-day war against Israel, which remains its primary adversary. To finance its operations, it relies in part on funding from a large Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim diaspora that stretches from the Middle East to Africa and Latin America. Some of the funding comes from criminal enterprises.
Although there have been no confirmed cases of Hezbollah moving terrorists across the Mexico border to carry out attacks in the United States, Hezbollah members and supporters have entered the country this way.
Last year, Salim Boughader Mucharrafille was sentenced to 60 years in prison by Mexican authorities on charges of organized crime and immigrant smuggling. Mucharrafille, a Mexican of Lebanese descent, owned a cafe in the city of Tijuana, across the border from San Diego. He was arrested in 2002 for smuggling 200 people, said to include Hezbollah supporters, into the U.S.
In 2001, Mahmoud Youssef Kourani crossed the border from Mexico in a car and traveled to Dearborn, Mich. Kourani was later charged with and convicted of providing "material support and resources ... to Hezbollah," according to a 2003 indictment.
A U.S. official with knowledge of U.S. law enforcement operations in Latin America said, "we noted the same trends as Mr. Braun" and that Hezbollah has used Mexican transit routes to smuggle contraband and people into the U.S.
Two U.S. law enforcement officers, familiar with counterterrorism operations in the U.S. and Latin America, said that "it was no surprise" that Hezbollah members have entered the U.S. border through drug cartel transit routes.
"The Mexican cartels have no loyalty to anyone," one of the officials told The Washington Times. "They will willingly or unknowingly aid other nefarious groups into the U.S. through the routes they control. It has already happened. That's why the border is such a serious national security issue."
One U.S. counterterrorism official said that while "there's reason to believe that [Hezbollah members] have looked at the southern border to enter the U.S. ... to date their success has been extremely limited."
However, another U.S. counterterrorism official confirmed that the U.S. is watching closely the links between Hezbollah and drug cartels and said it is "not a good picture."
A senior U.S. defense official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of ongoing operations in Latin America, warned that al Qaeda also could use trafficking routes to infiltrate operatives into the U.S.
"If I have the money to do it - I want to get somebody across the border - that's a way to do it," the defense official said. "Especially foot soldiers. Somebody who's willing to come and blow themselves up. That's sort of hard to do that kind of recruiting, training and development in Kansas City."
Adm. James G. Stavridis, commander of U.S. Southern Command and the nominee to head NATO troops as Supreme Allied Commander-Europe, testified before the House Armed Services Committee last week that the nexus between illicit drug trafficking - "including routes, profits, and corruptive influence" and "Islamic radical terrorism" is a growing threat to the U.S.
He noted that in August, "U.S. Southern Command supported a Drug Enforcement Administration operation, in coordination with host countries, which targeted a Hezbollah-connected drug trafficking organization in the Tri-Border Area."
In October, another interagency operation led to the arrests of several dozen people in Colombia associated with a Hezbollah-connected drug trafficking and a money-laundering ring. Hezbollah uses these operations to generate millions of dollars to finance Hezbollah operations in Lebanon and other areas of the world, he said.
BLOOMBERG NEWS Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton takes a look at crime-fighting Black Hawk helicopters with Genaro Garcia Luna, Mexico's public security secretary, on Thursday at a federal police base in Mexico City. Mrs. Clinton discussed U.S. aid with Mexican officials.
A Mexican marine patrols near the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Tijuana, Mexico, Wednesday, March 18, 2009. The administration of President Barack Obama is preparing to send federal agents to the US-Mexico border as reinforcements in the fight against Mexican drug cartels. The Obama administration is preparing to send federal agents to the US-Mexico border as reinforcements in the fight against Mexican drug cartels.
"Identifying, monitoring and dismantling the financial, logistical, and communication linkages between illicit trafficking groups and terrorist sponsors are critical to not only ensuring early indications and warnings of potential terrorist attacks directed at the United States and our partners, but also in generating a global appreciation and acceptance of this tremendous threat to security," he said.
Mr. Braun, who spent 33 years with the DEA and still works with the organization as a consultant, said that members of the elite Quds, or Jerusalem, force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards also are showing up in Latin America.
"Quite frankly, I'm not opposed to the belief that they could be commanding and controlling Hezbollah's criminal enterprises from there," Mr. Braun said. The DEA thinks that 60 percent of terrorist organizations have some ties with the illegal narcotics trade, said agency spokesman Garrison Courtney.
South American drug cartels were forced into developing stronger alliances with Mexican syndicates when the U.S. closed off access from the Caribbean 15 years ago, Mr. Braun said.
Mexico's transit routes now account for more than 90 percent of the cocaine entering the U.S., he said. The emphasis on Mexico intensified after the Sept. 11 attacks, when beefed-up U.S. security measures greatly reduced access to the U.S. by air and water, he said.
The shift put Mexico's drug cartels in the lead and helped them amass billions of dollars and an estimated 100,000 foot soldiers, according to U.S. defense officials.
Hezbollah shifted its trade routes along with the drug cartels, using Lebanese Shi'ite expatriates to negotiate contracts with Mexican crime bosses, Mr. Braun said.
The World Trade Bridge between Nuevo Laredo and its sister city, Laredo, as well as Interstate 35 and Highways 59, 359 and 83, are like veins feeding the Mexican syndicates, running from southern Texas to cities across the U.S. and as far north as Canada, U.S. officials say. In addition, access routes from El Paso, Texas, to San Diego are also high-value entry points.
**Ben Conery contributed to this report.
WCCR letter to UK
PM Gordon Brown: "Grave mistake to open dialogue with Hezbollah"
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Washington 12th of March 2009
The World Council of the Cedars Revolution issued a letter to UK PM Gordon Brown raising the concern of any dialogue with a terrorist organization such as Hezbollah. Here is the content of letter
Dear Prime Minister Brown,
The World Council of the Cedars Revolution (WCCR) has enjoyed a very strong and fruitful partnership with Great Britain and the broader European Parliament in our mutual struggle against terrorism.
We have an enormous respect for Great Britain’s continued support for the protection and preservation of democracies such as that of Lebanon. However, we are extremely concerned at your recent announcement that you are considering or have decided to open dialogue with the very terrorist militia which has caused untold damage to the lives of many Lebanese over decades and to innocent people in many spots around the world, including in Iraq and Argentina.
Are you aware of the pain and suffering this decision has already caused and will continue to cause to millions of people simply by announcing the possibility of opening dialogue with that terrorist militia Hezbollah?
Can you imagine the hurt, the despair and the feeling of betrayal by the families of over thousands of victims who were killed in the defense of their sovereignty, independence and democratic freedoms at the hands of Hezbollah's evil sponsors the Syrian and Iranian regimes in Lebanon? Already Hezbollah tramples upon their memory, their graves and their legitimate right to honorable recognition of their martyrdom.
Great Britain has been a powerful leader in the struggle against terrorism wherever it may be throughout the world. Great Britain has been a strong advocate of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1559 and 1701. As such, the question that begs asking is what has changed in the recent past to divert The United Kingdom from its original course?
We should respectfully point out that dialogue with Hezbollah is not similar to negotiations with the IRA who had a fully fledged political institution separate from their military operational structure. The IRA had at the very least reached a position of motivation for peace. This is an entirely different ball game where Hassan Nasrallah is the political Lord and master and also the head of Hezbollah’s military planning and execution. His motivation is a totalitarian ideology and absolute power; and his plan is to take Lebanon back to the dark ages of ruthless dictatorship and Islamist Khomeinism with no respect for the plural nature of Lebanon. You cannot have dialogue or negotiations with such totalitarians before their reform. It would be the equivalent of establishing a dialogue with the Nazis during a time of war, before their claim to the Third Reich and racial cleansing is reformed.
Hassan Nasrallah was explosive in his rejection of your predecessor’s visit to Lebanon, as he was aggressively humiliating in his attacks against Prime Minister Siniora for having invited the former Prime Minster of Great Britain to Lebanon.
The State of play at the present moment is that Hezbollah is one of the most destructive terrorist organizations in the world. Your government’s legitimizing their entity as a major power with which you open dialogue and with which you would negotiate, would not only exacerbate all previous efforts to disarm them, but would also add fuel to their claim and determination to acquire, possess and use Iranian and Syrian supplied rockets with nuclear war heads against any community be it within Lebanon or against Lebanon’s southern neighbor Israel.
Any acknowledgement of their status as a legitimate representative of any community in Lebanon prior to full implementation of UNSCR 1559 and 1701 would completely undermine all the efforts of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and its resolutions. Hassan Nasrallah together with Iranian and Syrian regimes would scoff at any threat by the UNSC; and would further their objectives of growing their terrorism in the region.
Dear Prime Minister, we are very concerned that Great Britain which has been a strong ally, might hand the terrorists this powerful advantage. We call on you to exert your strength in the full implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701 which would liberate the people of Lebanon form tyranny.
For the World Council of the Cedars Revolution
International Non Governmental Organization, Washington DC
Joseph P Baini
Tied to Hezbollah
By Ma'ad Fayad
London, Asharq Al-Awsat-Middle East observers often confuse the numerous off-shoots of the Iran-backed Hezbollah group namely the Hezbollah Vanguards in Iraq, Hezbollah [of Lebanon], and the Hezbollah Brigades.
The Hezbollah Vanguards is a group that has existed in the Al-Ahwar areas in southern Iraq, under the leadership of Abu-Hatim al-Muhammadawi, who was named amir [prince] of Al-Ahwar, since former President Saddam Hussein was in power. This group carried out many military operations against the former regime's agencies. Al-Muhammadawi was elected as member of the Governing Council after the regime was changed. It is known that this group receives no aid from abroad and has no relations with Iran. In fact, it is opposed to the Iranian interference in Iraq.
After the regime fell and the Al-Sadr Trend became major players in the Iraqi political spectrum, a group from within the Al-Sadr Trend that was affiliated with Iran emerged. Abu-Mahdi al-Muhandis, member of the Iraqi House of Representatives for the Unified Iraqi Coalition, which is led by Abdulaziz al-Hakim, organized and trained this group. Abu-Mahdi al-Muhandis fled to Iran because he was pursued by the US forces. Abu-Sajjad helped Al-Muhandis in training the group.
According to a Shi'i expert specialized in the affairs of Shi'i political movements in Al-Najaf, Al-Muhandis trained members of this wing that carried the name "Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq" in the desert of Al-Kufah.
The expert who spoke on the condition of anonymity for security reasons explains: "Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq is a copy of the experience of Hezbollah in Lebanon. There was a group within Hezbollah in Lebanon that had the same or similar name."
He adds: "It is they (Hezbollah) who gave Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq the plans to abduct Western persons, exactly the way Hezbollah in Lebanon did during the process of its formation. Most members of the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq have been trained in Lebanon."
The expert points out: "Lebanese Hezbollah sought to establish a base or an arm in Iraq. So, it found the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq members as its representatives. Most members of the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq very often travel between Iraq and Lebanon. The members of this group receive Iranian aid by way of Hezbollah."
The Shi'i went on to say: "The Al-Sadr Trend split into several wings all of which operated in the name of the Al-Sadr Trend even though they had their own titles. Some members of the Al-Sadr Trend were secretly associated with the US forces when these forces reached the Al-Najaf City borders. They worked with these forces and uncovered for them many members and plans of the trend in exchange for a large financial aid."
He adds: "However, the Al-Sadr Trend discovered and expelled some of them from its organizations, while some others remain associated with the US forces. This was evident when the US forces carried out many operations against Al-Thawrah (Al-Sadr) City in the past two years and targeted certain leading members of the trend."The expert of Shi'i political affairs says: "Some members of the Al-Sadr Trend wanted to remain in the middle without taking an extreme line or organizing any military operations. This wing was led by Sheikh Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji who is regarded as a moderate and nationalist." He adds: "Al-Darraji is known for being a nationalist Arab and opposed to Iran. In fact, he rejected a lot of Iranian offers and temptations and, therefore, enjoyed great popularity in the Al-Thawrah City until the US forces were unfairly given information on him.
Thus, he was arrested, and the pro-Iran wing became free to move as a result."The Shi'i expert notes: "A wing in the Al-Sadr Trend sought to establish direct ties with Iran without a mediator. So, it established a connection through the Iranian Revolutionary Guard." He adds: "The members of this wing were trained by Ittila'at (the Iranian Intelligence Service) and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in camps that were previously allocated to the [Shi'i] Badr Force. The members of this wing were specialized in planting explosive charges and in bombings. They called themselves the Hezbollah Brigades."
Talking about Ali Musa Daqduq, a leading Hezbollah figure, who was arrested along with Qays al-Khaz'ali two years ago, the expert of Shi'i political affairs said: "It was Daqduq who oversaw the abduction of the British hostages, with help from Qays al-Khaz'ali."He added: "Al-Khaz'ali was originally wanted by the judicial authorities for his involvement in the killing of Sayyid Abdul-Majid al-Khoei in Al-Najaf in April 2003."Meanwhile, an Iraqi Shi'i leader who refused to identify himself asserted: "Daqduq is one of the most dangerous leaders in Hezbollah."He added: "Daqduq was groomed to lead the Iranian wing in the Al-Sadr trend, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, and to represent Lebanese Hezbollah in Iraq. And he was behind qualitative bombing operations in Iraq."
The Hezbollah State
By Tariq Alhomayed
Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat,
Lebanese MP Mohammed Raad, head of the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc, made some important comments in which he outlined the features of the Lebanese state according to the view of the opposition, i.e. Hezbollah, if it were to achieve a victory in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Raad also expressed Hezbollah’s opinion of Syria’s negotiations with Israel to regain the occupied Golan Heights. The importance of Raad’s comments lies in the fact that they come at a time when the British government claims that there is a military Hezbollah on one hand and a political Hezbollah on the other!
Raad said that the state of opposition is the state of “resistance” and that “[given the choice] out of the project of surrendering, which comes under the name of peace, and the project of resistance that maintains dignity, we choose the project of resistance.” He added that there needs to be an internal political resolution to protect the resistance. Moreover, he called for the government to protect the resistance and “understand Lebanon’s need for this option,” and stated that Hezbollah or the opposition, requires “a brave government that can comprehend that the main threat towards Lebanon is the Zionist threat.”
This is what Raad said about Lebanon. As for the peace option, Raad said that Hezbollah rejects a government that “rallies behind those who have been defeated in the Arab region who strive for peace with Israel.” The obvious question here is who is he talking about?
Raad’s comments indicate that the specifications of the Lebanese state that Hezbollah wants is a state that is dependent, takes risks and gambles, for which the Arabs will rush to cover its costs. Nevertheless, how can we interpret the quarrels over Saudi money, especially in light of what Nabih Berri said and what the media of the opposition announced despite bragging about pure money?
If Raad is proud that he has reassessed the security situation saying, “We dealt with it [the security situation] and it is now at its best,” then what about the civilians who were injured in the 2006 war? Who will give them back their homes and business projects? Does the Arab world, the Gulf in particular, have to pay the price for the adventures of the divine party?
This is absurd. In the midst of the financial crisis that is taking the world by storm, Raad comes out to present us with a recipe for new wars that require funding; in reality, we are in need of a recipe for improving education, creativity, jobs and healthcare. This is the truth that those who are reckless with other people’s money must hear.
Moreover, Raad’s statement completely contradicts what Hezbollah’s partner Michel Aoun said as he attacked the majority [government] saying, “We are suffering from the financial crisis because of their policies that burdened us with debt.” So what do we need now, an effective economy or new wars? What debt is Michel Aoun talking about when the country came out of a war only to experience a coup because of his divine partners? Raad and Aoun’s statements completely contradict one another!
As for Raad’s statement that Lebanon must not rally behind the Arabs who have been defeated, this is clearly an attack on Damascus. Is restoring the Golan Heights an issue of defeatism? Logic states that restoring occupied territories is a right by any means available including negotiation.
We have the right here to question whether Raad’s comments represent Hezbollah’s position on Arab reconciliation, in particular the Riyadh summit that brought together Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Kuwait or whether Hezbollah figures fear that if Syria regains the Golan Heights they will be weakened and taught a lesson.
I believe that reconciliation and negotiations have sounded the alarm for Hezbollah and its leadership.
Hezbollah plots bloody vengeance
By: Nicholas Blanford
Times on Line
Israel’s bloody offensive in Gaza may be drawing to a close but there were growing fears last night that a new conflict may be looming with Hamas’s ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah. Nearly a year after suspected Israeli agents assassinated Imad Mughniyeh, the group’s military commander, sources on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese border predict renewed conflict. The Shia militant fighter, credited with transforming his troops into one of the world’s most effective irregular armies, passed on to Hamas in Gaza some of the tactics that enabled Hezbollah to battle the Israeli army to a standstill in south Lebanon in 2006.
Hezbollah has vowed to avenge Mughniyeh’s death in a car bomb blast in Damascus on February 13 and, with the first anniversary coming up, Israel fears an imminent attack. The Israelis have reason to be concerned. Speaking two weeks ago, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, said: “The Zionists will discover that the war they had in July was a walk in the park if we compare it to what we’ve prepared for every new aggression.”
The Times has learnt that at least one attack was foiled in Azerbaijan weeks after Mughniyeh’s assassination when Azeri Intelligence discovered a plot to blow up the Israeli Embassy there. Recently, intelligence sources say, Egypt broke up an alleged Hezbollah cell in the Sinai headed by a Lebanese citizen, Sami Shehab, which included Palestinians and was planning to attack Israeli targets.
There are concerns that Hezbollah, operating through its external security organisation, is planning further attacks on Israeli or Jewish targets outside Israel. Hezbollah’s ‘1800 Unit’ is said to be working on possible attacks inside Israel.
Hezbollah has avenged past Israeli assassinations of its leaders. In February 1992 Israeli helicopter gunships attacked the motorcade of Sheikh Abbas Mussawi, then Hezbollah leader, killing him along with his wife and five-year-old son. A month later the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was blown up by a suicide car bomber in an attack allegedly planned by Mughniyeh himself.
“We will retaliate because the Sayyed made that promise,” Abu Hassan, commander of a 25-man Hezbollah squad, told The Times, referring to Sheikh Nasrallah. “The Israelis have killed our leaders in the past but we have always grown stronger. Nothing can shake Hezbollah.”
Analysts believe that the retaliation will be planned carefully and executed at a time of the group’s choosing.
“This was never going to be a tit-for-tat immediate response but a strategic retaliation, one that will take time,” said Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Lebanese expert on Hezbollah. Some expected a response during Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza, which has killed at least 1,100 Palestinians. Hezbollah did put its forces on alert and some rockets were fired from south Lebanon by unknown militants but so far the response has been limited to street protests and rhetoric.
Nevertheless, the group said that it would seek revenge. “The account is known and it is a large one. Revenge is coming from us and from others,” Nawaf Mussawi, in charge of Hezbollah’s foreign relations, said.
Lebanon holds a general election in June when Hezbollah and its political allies are well placed to form the new parliamentary majority. The replacement of the current Western-backed Government with one dominated by Hezbollah’s allies will relieve some of the pressure the group faces to dismantle its military wing. Triggering a fresh war with Israel for the sake of Hamas could however backfire at the polls.
One option open to Hezbollah is to help to rebuild Hamas. “The symbol of Hamas as a resistance is now far greater in the Arab world than before,” said Mr Mussawi.
Ibrahim al-Amine, of Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper and a confidant of Sheikh Nasrallah, wrote last week that up until his death Mughniyeh was obsessed with the idea of passing on Hezbollah’s military secrets to Hamas.
Dozens of Palestinian fighters travelled to Lebanon, Syria and Iran for training, he wrote. Mughniyeh taught Hamas that communications was a strategic weapon. Hezbollah has installed a complex internal communications system, including a fibre-optic landline network, linking its military bases and command centres.
The military assistance to Hamas apparently continued after Mughniyeh’s assassination. A European intelligence source told The Times that two Iranian teams, including communications and rocket specialists, were working with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza last summer.
Hamas reportedly has constructed a network of war bunkers in Gaza similar to those built by Hezbollah in south Lebanon before the 2006 war.
Hezbollah has built new lines of defence farther north, extending to its heartland in the northern Bekaa Valley. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of volunteers have been recruited.
Israeli officials say that Hezbollah has tripled the number of rockets in its arsenal since 2006. Hezbollah fighters have hinted that in the next war Shia militants could launch commando raids inside Israel.
Israel puts pressure on Hamas before truce vote
AP/GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Israeli forces pounded dozens of Hamas targets early Saturday as the army kept up pressure on the Islamic militant group ahead of a crucial vote on whether to end Israel's punishing three-week-long campaign against Gaza's rulers.
The military said it struck some 50 Hamas targets. In one attack, a shell struck a United Nations school packed with refugees fleeing the fighting, witnesses and the U.N. said, killing two Palestinians and drawing a sharp condemnation from the U.N.
Israel had no comment on the incident, the latest in a string of attacks to hit a U.N. installation.
Israel was pressing ahead with its offensive hours before a vote by its leaders late Saturday on whether to accept an Egyptian-brokered truce.
The vote followed Friday's signing of a "memorandum of understanding" in Washington between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that calls for expanded intelligence cooperation to prevent Hamas from rearming. Livni called the deal, reached on the final working day of the Bush administration, "a vital complement for a cessation of hostility."
Israel's 12-member Security Cabinet was expected to approve the Egyptian proposal, under which fighting would stop immediately for 10 days. Israeli forces would remain in Gaza and the territory's border crossings with Israel and Egypt would remain closed until security arrangements are made to prevent Hamas arms smuggling.
Under the deal, Egypt would shut down weapons smuggling routes with international help and discussions on opening Gaza's blockaded border crossings — Hamas' key demand — would take place at a later date.
It remained unclear whether Hamas supports the proposal, sending mixed signals about whether it would accept the cease-fire proposal. In Turkey, a spokesman for the movement, Sami Abu Zuhri, said Saturday that militants would keep fighting.
Hamas "will not bow to invading forces, will not raise the white flag," he said.
But after weeks of heavy losses, leaders inside Gaza have signaled they are ready for a deal. A Hamas delegation was headed to Cairo on Saturday for more negotiations.
"Our movement is a main player and it cannot be ignored," said Ghazi Hamad, a Gaza-based Hamas official.
Hamas, which overtook the Gaza Strip in a violent coup in June 2007, has demanded an immediate Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the opening of blockaded border crossings.
Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27 to try to halt near-daily Hamas rocket attacks against southern Israel. Palestinian medics say the fighting has killed at least 1,140 Palestinians — roughly half of them civilians — and Israel's bombing campaign caused massive destruction in the Gaza Strip. Thirteen Israelis have been killed, four by rocket fire and nine in ground battles in Gaza, according to the government.
Israel Radio reported that a truce summit could be held in Cairo as early as Sunday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Israeli leaders in attendance.
In the meantime, there was no slowdown in the offensive. A total of 11 Palestinians were killed in battles throughout Gaza on Saturday, Palestinian medics said.
Israeli warplanes dropped bombs throughout the night on suspected smuggling tunnels in the southern border town of Rafah. The bombs could be heard whistling through the air, shook the ground upon impact and left a dusty haze in the air.
In the northern town of Beit Lahiya, an Israeli shell struck a U.N. school where 1,600 people had sought shelter to flee the fighting, said Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.
He said several shells struck the school compound, including a direct hit on the top floor of the building. The shell killed two boys, and turned a room on the building's into a blackened mess of charred concrete and twisted metal bed frames. Near Gaza City, Palestinian officials said three more civilians were killed by a naval shell, and a militant was killed in an airstrike.
Gunness condemned the school attack, saying the U.N. has given Israel the coordinates of all its operations in Gaza to avoid such violence. "There have to be investigations to see if war crimes have been committed," he said.
The Israeli military had no immediate comment, saying the matter was still under investigation. But in similar instances, including an attack that heavily damaged the U.N. headquarters in Gaza earlier this week, Israel has accused Hamas militants of staging attacks from U.N. and other civilian buildings.
The military said its planes struck 50 Hamas locations overnight, including rocket-launching sites, smuggling tunnels, weapons storehouses, bunkers and minefields. Some five rockets were fired into Israel, causing minor damage but no injuries, the army said.
Israeli troops entered a small central Gaza town and nearby housing project, taking over houses and positioning on rooftops. Hamas militants fired assault rifles, mortars and rockets at the Israeli forces in tanks and military vehicles, the sound of clashes audible from Gaza City. Warplanes fired missiles at buildings and nearby farms, witnesses said.
"A shell landed in my bedroom and we are now sitting in the kitchen. We are 17 people here," said Jihan Sarsawi, a resident of the housing project. Speaking by telephone, she said residents were trapped in their homes.
The violence followed Israeli envoy Amos Gilad's journey to Cairo on Friday. He returned to report "substantial progress" in truce talks with Egyptian mediators, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office announced. The Israeli vote comes ahead of President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration on Tuesday, and Israeli elections next month.
In an interview with the Israeli YNet news Web site, Livni indicated that Israel would renew its offensive if Hamas militants continued to fire rockets at Israel even after a truce agreement was reached.
"This campaign is not a one-time event," she said. "The test will be the day after. That is the test of deterrence."
Speaking in Washington, she said the deal with the U.S. was meant "to complement Egyptian actions and to end of the flow of weapons to Gaza."
The agreement outlines a framework under which the United States commits detection and surveillance equipment, as well as logistical help and training to Israel, Egypt and other nations to be used in monitoring Gaza's land and sea borders.
Earlier, Rice said she hoped European countries would work out similar bilateral agreements with Israel.
**Ibrahim Barzak reported from Gaza City, Alfred de Montesquiou reported from Rafah, Gaza Strip, and Federman reported from Jerusalem.
Syria's Strategy in Lebanon: Historical Overview
By Walid Phares
March 15, 2009 04:08 PM
As discussions broaden in Washington and Brussels about the possible new engagement policies with the Assad regime, as the international criminal court tribunal in the Hariri assassination case is moving forward and as Arab regimes express their concerns about the global Western change in attitude towards the Iranian regime, Infocus Policy Review dedicated its current Spring issue to Syrian related articles. Following is my own article published under the title of "Syrian Strategy in Lebanon." The piece sumamrize the initial Syrian strategic goals in Lebanon, as designed by Hafez Assad in 1976 and resumed by Bashar since 2000. The article reviews the past Bush and current Obama Administrations' positions towards Baathist Syria. It also addresses the rise and failures of the Cedars Revolution and the direction US policy should take to contain Assad's ambitions in Lebanon and counter the Terror forces operating out of this country.
Since the advent of Hafez al-Assad's dictatorship in Damascus in 1971, Syria's role in the region, and particularly in Lebanon, has been described in two diametrically opposing narratives. The difference between these two narratives is so wide that one of them has to be wrong.
The school of engagement insists on Assad's unavoidable role as a pacifier in the region. To many diplomats, experts, and policy makers in the West —including paradoxically in Israel and the United States—the Alawite regime is seen as a stabilizing force that can absorb radicals and defuse a regional war.
Yet, it is almost impossible to refute mountains of evidence of Syrian Baathist involvement in violence both against its own citizens and against Lebanese, Palestinians, Arabs, and Westerners. There has been 39 years of internal oppression in Syria, 29 years of occupation of Lebanon, 25 years of support to Hezbollah's terror activities, and decades of involvement in political assassinations in Lebanon and beyond.
A thorough historical analysis leads observers to the conclusion that the Baathist regime in Damascus bases its survival not on potential reform but on its non-negotiable control of Lebanon.
Syrian Control of Lebanon
From Hafez to his son Bashar, the ruling elite in Syria has used stratagems ranging from penetration, invasion, occupation, terror, divide and conquer, regional manipulations, and diplomatic diversions, all to ensure that Lebanon remains under Damascus' wing. Syria will not grant its small neighbor freedom, because that freedom has the potential to devastate Syria's one party regime. By keeping Lebanon under control, even if shared with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, the Assad regime ensures its own survival.
This explains the scope of Syrian maneuvering with the West, including the United States, over the years. Hafez al-Assad, when visited by a myriad of Secretaries of States, always promised peace with Israel—an American strategic goal—in return for an understanding of his "interests" in Lebanon. The shrewd dictator never delivered on peace, but always gained power over his weaker neighbor.
But after the death of Hafez in 2000, and a dramatic change in international and regional circumstances, Bashar's regime experienced significant setbacks—an amalgam of his own wrong decisions and unexpected opposition in Lebanon. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 in 2004 stripped Syria of its legal basis for the occupation of Lebanon, and the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005 shattered its legitimacy as a protector of peace. The surge of the Cedars Revolution following these two events accelerated international pressures leading to Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon. The Syrian era in Lebanon appeared to have come to an end, while an era of accountability for the dictatorship at home was seemingly about to begin.
Another set of circumstances, however, reversed the fortunes of the Lebanese and Syrian peoples, who were inching closer to meaningful change. Thus, the fate of this Khomeinist ally is at a crucial crossroads today. It is either reaffirming its authoritarian dominance on the Eastern Mediterranean or vacillating towards regime collapse.
The Hariri International Tribunal appears to be able to make or break Syria's future. The regime in Damascus knows the high stakes involved, and has devised lethal strategies for regime survival and renewed dominance in Lebanon. The Assad regime seems to be reasserting power in Lebanon via violence, aided possibly by a change in strategic direction in Washington. These strategies are the result of many decades of patient planning by the Assad regime.
To understand the complex crossroads, one must look at Syria's historical ambitions in Lebanon, Hafez al-Assad's achievements in this regard, the extension of Syrian power across Lebanese politics, Iranian influence, and other factors. Only then can the strategies of the Syrian regime be placed in context.
The Assad dynasty's ambitions in Lebanon are only a contemporary and extreme expression of a much older Syrian Arab nationalist claim over the country of the Cedars. Indeed, Syria was actively destabilizing Lebanon long before the Lebanese Civil War.
Syrian Pan-Arabists rejected the formation of the modern state of Lebanon in 1920 and subsequently the independence of the Lebanese Republic in 1943. In fact, the Syrian government even refused to open an embassy in Beirut.
In 1958, when Syria was part of the United Arab Republic (UAR) with Egypt, Egyptian leader Gamal Abd al-Nasser sponsored an armed insurrection against the pro-Western government of Camille Chamoun, prompting a year-long civil war. A decade later, in the late sixties, the Baathist regime in Damascus helped Palestinian forces infiltrate Lebanon, drawing the small state into the wider Arab-Israeli conflict.
Finally, with the coup d'etat that brought Hafez al-Assad to power in 1971, a more lethal era of Syrian intervention in Lebanon began.
Syrian Intervention, 1976-1990
It took Hafez 15 years of warfare and political assassinations to secure his occupation of Lebanon. Syria launched its first invasion amidst the second Lebanese civil war that erupted in April 1975. Syria's success can be partially attributed to Syrian-backed militias that had been challenging the Lebanese Army since 1969.
As the country split into factional enclaves, Assad fueled the fights, assisting one party against another, until Syrian troops marched into the Bekaa Valley and northern Lebanon in June 1976. Later that year, those invading forces were legalized as "deterrent forces" within the Arab peacekeeping expeditionary army.
The Baathist military and intelligence soon penetrated most of the country. The Syrians encountered fierce resistance in 1978 in the East Beirut enclave, mostly inhabited by Christians. The regions with Sunni, Druze, and Shiite majority, however, remained under Syrian occupation.
Syria retreated during the Israeli offensive in 1982, but returned to the center of the country soon thereafter. By October 1990, profiting from the diversion of the U.S.-led campaign against Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces in Kuwait, Syria entered the last free zones of Lebanon.
Syrian invasion of the free areas between June 1976 and October 1990.
Syrian Occupation, 1990-2005
During the 1990s, Syria and Iran enjoyed dominance in Lebanon, with Damascus controlling the government, and Tehran sponsoring Hezbollah. Under the joint occupation, Syria and Iran penetrated and subdued Lebanon's institutions. Indeed, the presence of the Syrian army was only one layer of the occupation. Syria also had economic, political, and militia control.
In May 2000, with Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon, Syria and Iran were in complete control. In June, with the passing of Hafez, Bashar inherited the Baathist-Khomeinist "province" his father built. Bashar was dedicated to keeping this acquisition, which had become a crucial asset to the Syrian regime. Indeed, most of the unofficial income feeding the Damascus military and Mukhabarat (intelligence services) was produced in Lebanon. Syria took a percentage on all commercial transactions. Syria also grafted from Lebanon's markets, drug trafficking, and more.
A free Lebanon would not only endanger an authoritarian Syria, but it would mean a massive loss of income for Syria.
The Cedars Revolution
Since 1990, a minority of Lebanese activists has protested Syria's occupation, both inside the country and in the Diaspora. However, U.S. and Western policy had always cast Syria as a stabilizer in Lebanon and potential peace partner with Israel. Moreover, with hundreds of millions of Iranian dollars pouring in to Hezbollah and filling the coffers of Syrian officers, a web of financial interests had been created, which included Lebanese politicians.
However, after the death of Hafez in 2000, an opposition movement rose —first the Christians, then the Sunnis and Druze—to challenge Syria in Lebanon. After 9/11, the West was more receptive to the anti-terror uprisings. Diaspora-based groups successfully lobbied the U.N. to issue a Franco-American backed resolution, UNSCR 1559, calling for Syrian withdrawal and the disarming of Hezbollah. Bashar responded with a campaign of violence against Lebanese reformers, culminating in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, a former ally turned Syria critic.
The convergence of anti-Syria sentiment among Christians and Muslims produced the Cedars Revolution. The movement grew rapidly, culminating in a rally of 1.5 million demonstrators on March 14, 2005. Under mounting international pressure, Assad pulled his regular forces out of Lebanon.
This was widely considered to be a victory for the Cedars Revolution. Unfortunately it was not a conclusive one. Bashar has since moved to counter the Cedars.
In a speech acknowledging Syria's withdrawal, Bashar hinted that a "second army" would stay behind and destroy the achievements of the Cedars Revolution. Indeed, with the combined power of Hezbollah, pro-Syrian militias, local Sunni Jihadists, and pro-Iranian Palestinians, Syria destabilized the Lebanese government of Fouad Seniora in 2005. A series of Syrian-sponsored assassinations—political activists, journalists, Lebanese army officials, and legislators Gebran Tueni, Walid Eido, Antoine Ghanem, and Pierre Gemayel—all but crippled the Cedars Revolution.
Syrian forces withdrawing from Lebanon
The Iranian-backed Hezbollah, aided by Syrian intelligence, also launched an invasion of the Sunni segment of Beirut and another attack against a Druze mountain enclave. In the subsequent Qatar-mediated agreement with Lebanese reformers in May 2008, Damascus secured the provisions that Hezbollah would retain its weapons, and that a pro-Syrian contingent would join the Lebanese cabinet. Thus, through proxies and allies, Assad was back in Beirut.
Hezbollah militias invade Beirut
Lebanon subsequently elected army commander Michel Suleiman as its new president. Suleiman chose to stand half way between Hezbollah and the Cedars Revolution. This was a setback to the Cedars and a boost to Damascus. To the Assad regime, this is indeed a half victory. Its chances of taking back more of Lebanon now depend on the resistance of the Lebanese and perhaps the new direction in Washington.
Root Causes of Syria's Return
Why was Syria able to regain ground in Lebanon? Conversely, why did the Cedars Revolution lose the terrain despite all its advances?
For one, the Cedars Revolution was managed poorly. The politicians of the March 14 movement—who enjoyed a magnificent boost from U.N. resolution 1559—had the international community on their side after years of Western lethargy. They were given a mandate by millions of citizens to act firmly and swiftly. However, they missed the opportunity to expand the "revolution," clear out remaining Syrian political actors, isolate Hezbollah, and ask the United Nations for multinational forces or other assistance. In short, they failed to position Lebanon to confront the "second army."
Second, Washington tergiversated in its support to the Cedars Revolution. It failed to grant direct financial support to a flurry of local NGOs to organize civil society in general, and to rally Shiite dissidents against Hezbollah. While the White House and senior leaders in Congress sought to isolate Syria, powerful voices in Washington (State Department, Baker-Hamilton Commission, and others) still hoped to "reengage" Bashar.
Third, leaders from the U.S. Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sent a strong message of sympathy to Assad in 2007. When she visited him in Syria, she broke his isolation, practically encouraging his ailing regime to re-conquer its lost turf in Lebanon.
Hezbollah and Syrian intelligence zones of operations
As a result, two major international initiatives to secure Lebanon's freedom were compromised. Notably, a deployment of a multinational force along the Syrian-Lebanese borders, crucial to shut down the Iranian supplies to Hezbollah, didn't materialize. Moreover, the international tribunal for the Hariri assassination has been delayed for years.
Free from escalating pressures, the Syrian regime is moving back in to settle old scores.
The Way Forward
The Cedars Revolution must now counter the Baathist-Khomeinist resurgence in Lebanon by taking a series of steps.
First, the international community should unanimously adopt the principle that any Lebanese elections that take place in the country must take place free of the influence of militias. Indeed, districts where militias are in control should not be validated. Accordingly, U.S. and international support to the Lebanese government must be proportional to the ability of this government to distance itself from terror groups and illegal militias, particularly Hezbollah.
The Lebanese opposition to the Syrian-Iranian axis must also re-internationalize its quest by calling on the U.N. Security Council to extend its protection to Lebanon. To this end, Lebanon's borders with Syria must be put under multinational control.
Washington can support this re-internationalization by conveying to Damascus that any future dialogue can only be based on disarming Hezbollah and reforming Syrian policy towards Lebanon.
Dr Walid Phares is director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and secretary general of the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group on Counter Terrorism. He is the author of The Confrontation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).
التقارب مع حزب الله
الاثنين 30 آذار
بدأت تتكشف أسباب المفاوضات البريطانية مع ما وصف بالجناح السياسي لحزب الله في لبنان، فالمعطيات المتاحة تشير إلى عكس ما أعلن من قبل عن أسباب المفاوضات بين البريطانيين وحزب الله؛ إذ يبدو أن السبب الرئيسي هو رغبة لندن في تأمين الإفراج عن المختطفين البريطانيين الخمسة في بغداد منذ عامين، مقابل الإفراج عن معتقلين من جماعة مقتدى الصدر وقيادي من حزب الله اللبناني لدى الأميركيين في العراق، وليس استقرار لبنان
بالطبع من حق بريطانيا فعل كل ما بوسعها لتأمين سلامة مواطنيها، لكن هناك نقاطا مهمة وخطرة، عراقيا ولبنانيا وعربيا، تشير إلى مدى خطورة الإيرانيين وعملائهم في المنطقة. فيكفي التذكير بأن السفارة البريطانية في بغداد قد تسلمت الأشرطة الخاصة بالمختطفين البريطانيين من أحد أعضاء البرلمان العراقي، كما أن حزب الله اللبناني يطالب بالإفراج عن أحد معتقليه الذي احتجز في بغداد، لا في لبنان! والأهم من كل ذلك أن البريطانيين لم يفاوضوا الصدريين، أو حكومة المالكي، بل يفاوضون حزب الله اللبناني من أجل إطلاق سراح بريطانيين اختطفوا في بغداد، والسؤال هنا:
أين تبدأ حدود حزب الله وأين تنتهي؟ وما هو دور حزب الله في العراق، بل وفي منطقتنا ككل؟ وهذا أمر يذكرنا بقصة اختفاء الجندي الأميركي من أصل لبناني في بغداد، أوائل أيام سقوط نظام صدام حسين، ومن ثم ظهوره في لبنان! فما الذي كان يفعله قيادي بارز من حزب الله في بغداد؟ ومن كان يدرب هناك، وأين يذهب هؤلاء المتدربون، ومن أين أتوا أصلا؟
وما علاقة قيادي حزب الله بفيلق القدس الإيراني؟ والسؤال الآخر هنا: ما هو دور حكومة نوري المالكي في العراق، والأمن الذي يتحدث عنه، خصوصا مع الانسحاب الأميركي، فكيف يقوم عضو البرلمان العراقي بتوصيل الشريط الخاص بالمختطَفين؟ أمر مريب ومزعج يظهر لنا ملامح العراق الذي تريده إيران وعملاؤها في منطقتنا، حيث من الواضح أن العراق قد تحول إلى معسكر تجمع لعملاء طهران من لبنان وغيرها من العالم العربي، بينما نحن لا نسمع شكوى من حكومة بغداد إلا عن تنظيم
وكما أسلفت، فمن حق البريطانيين السعي للإفراج عن مواطنيهم، لكن من يفرج عن العدد الأكبر من الرهائن الأبرياء الواقعين تحت براثن إيران في العراق، وكذلك الرهائن الواقعين تحت رحمة حزب الله في لبنان؟ ولذا كنا نحذر مطولا من خدعة الحديث عن جناح سياسي مختلف عن الجناح العسكري لحزب الله، فكلاهما وجهان لعملة واحدة، وبالتالي فمن المضحك القول إن التفاوض مع الحزب الإلهي سيؤدي لاستقرار لبنان، بل على العكس تماما. فالتفاوض الغربي مع حزب الله يضلل المترددين في لبنان، خصوصا في الانتخابات القادمة، حيث يعتقدون أن هناك اعترافا دوليا بالحزب، وهذا بالنسبة للغرب، أما بالنسبة للعرب فللأسف يبدو أنهم لم يستوعبوا بعد خطورة الحصار الإيراني لهم من كل مكان
المجلس العالمي لثورة الأرزر
ليس بجناح سياسي لحزب الله ، حسن نصرالله هو الزعيم السياسي ورأس عمليات التخطيط والتنفيذ العسكري...
واشنطن في 12 آذار 2009
وجه السيد جو بعيني رئيس المجلس العالمي لثورة الارز برسالة الى رئيس الوزراء البريطاني السيد غوردون براون، ودعاه للتحفظ تجاه القرار بفتح حوار مع الجناح السياسي لحزب الله ، وهذا نصّها.
معالي رئيس الوزراء غوردون براون،
لطالما كان للمجلس العالمي لثورة الأرز شراكة قوية ومثمرة مع بريطانيا بشكل خاص والإتحاد الأوروبي بشكل عام في نضالنا المشترك ضدّ الإرهاب. ونحن نقدّر كثيراً الدعم المتواصل الذي قدّمته بريطانيا لحماية وحفظ الديمقراطيات على غرار الديمقراطية اللبنانية. غير أننا نشعر بقلق عميق تجاه إعلانكم الأخير بأنّكم قرّرتم أو بأنّكم تفكّرون بفتح حوار مع الميليشيا الإرهابية التي ألحقت ضرراً لا يُحصى بحياة الكثيرين في مختلف الأماكن.
فهل تدركون الآلام التي تسبّب بها هذا القرار والمعاناة التي سيسبّبها للملايين من الناس لمجرّد إعلان احتمال فتح حوار مع الميليشيا الإرهابية حزب الله؟
هل لديكم فكرة عن الشعور باليأس وبالخيانة الذي يعتري عائلات أكثر من 300 ألف ضحية ضحّوا بحياتهم في الدفاع عن سيادتهم واستقلالهم وحريّاتهم الديمقراطية على يد حزب الله وحلفائهم الأشرار سوريا وإيران؟ لاسيما وأن حزب الله يطمس ذاكرتهم ومقابرهم وحقّهم المشروع بالإعتراف بشهادتهم وتضحياتهم؟
لطالما كانت بريطانيا أحد أبرز القادة في النضال ضدّ الإرهاب حيثما تواجد في العالم. وقد كانت من دُعاة وأنصار قرارَي مجلس الأمن الدولي 1559 و1701. ولذلك، يُطرَح السؤال: ما الذي تغيّر في الماضي القريب لتحويل المملكة المتّحدة عن مسارها الأساسي؟
ونشير هنا بكل احترام الى أنّ الحوار مح حزب الله ليس شبيهاً بالمفاوضات التي جرت مع الجيش الجمهوري الإرلندي الذي كان لديه آلية سياسية كاملة منفصلة عن الهيكلية الميدانية العسكرية. فقد كان الجيش الجمهوري الإرلندي قد توصّل على الأقلّ الى وضعٍ كان لديه فيه حوافز للسلام. والأمر مختلف تماماً مع حسن نصرالله الذي هو الزعيم السياسي ورأس عمليات التخطيط والتنفيذ العسكري. وحافزه هو السلطة المطلقة، وخطّته إعادة لبنان الى عصر الديكتاتورية التي لا ترحم والتعصّب الإسلامي من دون أي احترام لطبيعة لبنان المتعدّدة. ولا يمكن إقامة حوار أو مفاوضات مع مثل هذا الشخص.
حسن نصرالله كان صارماً في رفض زيارة سلفكم الى لبنان، كما كان مُهيناً في تهجّمه على رئيس الوزراء فؤاد السنيورة لأنّه دعا رئيس الوزراء البريطاني السابق الى لبنان.
ووضع اللعبة في الوقت الراهن يجعل من حزب الله أكثر المنظمات الإرهابية دماراً في العالم. وإن تشريع حكومتكم لكيانهم كسلطة عليكم فتح الحوار معها والتفاوض معها، لن يطيح فحسب بالجهود السابقة لنزع سلاحهم، بل سيؤجّج أيضاً مزاعمهم ومطالبهم بامتلاك الصواريخ الإيرانية أو السورية الصنع واستخدامها، مع ما تحمله من رؤوس حربية نووية يوجّهونها ضد أي شريحة سكانية في لبنان أو ضدّ إسرائيل.
إنّ أي اعتراف بوضع حزب الله كممثّل شعبي لأي طائفة في لبنان قبل التطبيق الكامل لقراري مجلس الأمن الدولي 1559 و1701 سيقوّض كافة جهود الأمم المتحدة في هذا الإطار. وسيزدرئ عندها حسن نصرالله، الى جانب إيران وسوريا، بأي تهديد من مجلس الأمن الدولي وقراراته، كما وسوف يواصلون سعيهم نحو أهدافهم المتمثّلة بتقوية الإرهاب في المنطقة.
معالي رئيس الوزراء، نحن نشعر بقلق عميق من قيام بريطانيا، التي كانت حليفاً قوياً، بإعطاء الإرهابيين هذا الإمتياز القوي. ونناشدكم على ممارسة ضغوطكم لتنفيذ قراري مجلس الأمن الدولي 1559 و1701، ما سيحرّر الشعب اللبناني من الطغيان.
رئيس المجلس العالمي لثورة الأرز
واشنطن تايمز تقول في تقرير أن حزب الله يستخدم طرقات تهريب المخدرات المكسيكية للدخول إلى أمريكا
أفاد مسؤولون أميركيون ان حزب الله اللبناني يستخدم الطرقات نفسها التي يستخدمها المكسيكيون لتهريب المخدرات والبشر إلى الولايات المتحدة، وذلك من أجل جمع الأموال لتمويل عملياته وتهديد الأمن القومي الأميركي. ونقلت صحيفة "واشنطن تايمز" الأميركية اليوم الجمعة عن مسؤولين في مكافحة الإرهاب وتطبيق القوانين والدفاع الأميركيين ان الحزب اللبناني المدعوم إيرانياً متورط في تهريب المخدرات والبشر في منطقة الباراغواي والأرجنتين والبرازيل في جنوب أميركا، لكنه يعتمد بشكل متزايد على مهربي المخدرات المكسيكيين الذين يتحكمون بالطرق المؤدية إلى الولايات المتحدة.
وقال مايكل براون، الذي تقاعد مؤخراً من منصبه بصفته مديراً مساعداً ورئيساً للعمليات في إدارة مكافحة المخدرات في أميركا، ان حزب الله يعتمد على "مهربي الأسلحة المجرمين ومهربي الوثائق وخبراء النقل نفسهم من خلال اتفاقيات مخدرات احتكارية".
وأضاف براون انهم "يعملون معاً ويعتمدون على رجال الظل أنفسهم وبطريقة أو بأخرى فهم جميعاً يرتبطون ببعضهم".
وتابع "سوف يجعلون هذه الاتفاقات تصب في مصلحتهم من أجل تهريب البضائع والناس إلى الولايات المتحدة، وهم في الحقيقة يقومون بالتهريب".
وأكد 6 مسؤولين أميركيين تعليقات براون ،بينهم مختصون في شؤون محاربة الإرهاب وتطبيق القانون، وتحدثوا جميعاً شرط عدم الكشف عن هويتهم نظراً لحساسية الموضوع. واعتبرت الصحيفة انه فيما ينظر حزب الله إلى الولايات المتحدة باعتبارها مصدراً للمال،من دون التأكد أنه نفذ أي عملية داخل الأراضي الأميركية، فإن تزايد علاقاته مع المهربين المكسيكيين مثير للقلق في وقت أسفرت الحرب مع هؤلاء العام الماضي عن مقتل 7 آلاف شخص ،وهو أمر يزعزع الاستقرار في على طول الحدود المكسيكية مع الولايات المتحدة.
وأشارت الصحيفة إلى ان وزيرة الخارجية هيلاري كلينتون كانت في المكسيك أمس الخميس لمناقشة المساعدات الأميركية، ويتوقع أن يزور مسؤولون حكوميون أميركيون والرئيس الأميركي باراك أوباما المكسيك في الأسابيع المقبلة.
وذكرت الصحيفة ان مركز حزب الله هو لبنان، وقد تحول منذ قيامه بعد الاجتياح الإسرائيلي للبنان في العام 1982، إلى منظمة سياسية وعسكرية واجتماعية كبرى تخدم المجتمع الشيعي الكبير في لبنان.
ولفتت "واشنطن تايمز" إلى ان حزب الله حارب 34 يوماً ضد إسرائيل(تموز/يوليو 2006) التي تبقى عدوه الرئيسي، لافتة إلى انه يعتمد في تمويله على الجالية الشيعية واسعة الانتشار التي تمتد بين الشرق الأوسط وإفريقيا وأميركا اللاتينية، وقالت ان بعض مصادر التمويل تأتي من مؤسسات إجرامية.
وذكرت الصحيفة انه على الرغم من انه لم يتأكد ان حزب الله يدخل الإرهابيين عبر الحدود المكسيكية لتنفيذ اعتداءات في الولايات المتحدة، فإن أعضاء حزب الله وداعميه دخلوا البلاد عبر هذه الطريقة.
يشار إلى انه في العام الماضي، حكمت السلطات المكسيكية على سليم مشرفية ،المكسيكي من أصل لبناني بالسجن 60 سنة بتهم تهريب المهاجرين وارتكاب جرائم منظمة، مع العلم انه سجن في العام 2002 لإقدامه على تهريب 200 شخص، قيل ان بينهم مؤيدين لحزب الله، إلى الولايات المتحدة.
وفي العام 2001، عبر محمود يوسف كوراني الحدود المكسيكسية بسيارة وتوجه إلى ديربورن في ميشيغان واتهم في العام 2003 بتزويد حزب الله بمواد ومعلومات.
وقال مسؤول أميركي على اطلاع على العمليات الأمنية في أميركا اللاتينية "لدينا المعلومات نفسها التي عند براون" وحزب الله استخدم الطرقات المكسيكية "لتهريب أشخاص وبضائع .. إلى الولايات المتحدة".
وقال مسؤولان أمنيان على علم بعمليات مكافحة الإرهاب في الولايات المتحدة وأميركا اللاتينية "لا مفاجأة" في حقيقة ان أفرادا من حزب الله عبروا الحدود الأميركية من خلال طرقات يستخدمها مهربو المخدرات.
وقال أحد المسؤولين للصحيفة "لا يخلص مهربو المخدرات لأحد وهم مستعدون لمساعدة مجموعة شريرة أخرى أيضاً على الدخول إلى الولايات المتحدة من خلال الطرق التي يسيطرون عليها ولهذا السبب تعتبر الحدود قضية أمن قومي خطيرة".
وحذر مسؤول دفاعي أميركي رفيع المستوى، طلب عدم الكشف عن هويته، من ان تنظيم القاعدة قد يستخدم أيضاً طرقات التهريب لإدخال عناصره إلى أميركا.
من جهته قال براون أيضاً ان عناصر من فيلق القدس التابعة للحرس الثوري الإيراني يظهرون أيضاً في أميركا اللاتينية.
وأضاف براون "بكل صراحة لا أعارض الاعتقاد السائد بأنهم يسيطرون ويتحكمون بمؤسسات حزب الله الجرمية من هناك".
وأشار براون إلى ان مهربي المخدرات المكسيكيين مسؤولون حالياً عن دخول 90% من الكوكايين الموجود في الولايات المتحدة.