26 December 2007

Syria's credible threats [UPDATED 27 DEC 2007]

From Naharnet News Desk, Beirut, 24 DEC 2007 (link liable to change), with h/t to Across the Bay:

Syrian Intelligence Threatens Spanish Peacekeepers in Lebanon

Syria's secret service has threatened Spanish soldiers in Lebanon in a bid to block the extradition of suspected arms dealer Monzer Al-Kassar to the United States, the newspaper El Mundo reported Monday.

The Spanish intelligence service, according to a memo cited by the newspaper, fears that troops on U.N. deployment in south-east Lebanon could be targeted if the Spanish cabinet ratify a judicial verdict and send Kassar to the United States.

General Assef Shawkat, chief of Syrian military intelligence, wrote to his opposite number in Spain: "If you think we are going to ignore the affront inflicted by north-American henchmen on our brother (Kassar), you don't really know us and [you] are no friends of the Syrian people."

Dated end-July, the note also refers to Shawkat delivering a thinly-veiled threat during a discussion with Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

Around 1,100 Spanish soldiers serve in the U.N. interim force in Lebanon deployed following the summer 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah. Six Spanish soldiers were killed during a bombing there in June.

Syrian native Kassar, known colloquially as the "Prince of Marbella" where he has been based for the last decade, is wanted in the U.S. on suspicion of arranging arms deals for leftist FARC rebels in Colombia.(AFP)


Beirut, Updated 26 Dec 07, 04:17
This comes as no surprise, really, after recent events in Spain. This from the Times Online UK 01 NOV 2007:
November 1, 2007

191 dead, thousands of victims - but the ‘mastermind’ is cleared


Thomas Catan in Madrid
The accused mastermind of Europe’s worst Islamist terrorist attack was cleared of all charges along with six others yesterday in a shock judgment that angered victims.

Twenty-one others were convicted of playing a role in the 2004 Madrid train bombings, though many of them on much lesser charges than the prosecution had sought.

Family members of the 191 people killed and 1,800 injured expressed astonishment, branding the sentences as lenient and feeble, and vowing to appeal.

Pilar Manjón, who heads the largest association of victims, said: “I don’t like to see murderers walk free.” She lost her 20-year-old son when ten bombs packed into sports bags and detonated by mobile phone ripped through four commuter trains.

The court ordered victims of the bombings to be paid between €30,000 (£20,900) and €1.5 million (£1 million) in compensation.

One of the highest amounts will go to the family of Laura Vega, 29, who remains in a coma in a Madrid hospital. They will receive about €1 million to help to pay for her continuing care.

The atrocity was the world’s largest terrorist attack since September 11, 2001, and was the first European example of al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism on a large scale. But prosecutors failed to convince judges on the three-man panel of a direct al-Qaeda link. And the verdicts also failed to answer the question of who plotted the attack.

The accused mastermind, Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, known as Mohammed the Egyptian, burst into tears of relief upon hearing the verdict, shouting “You see that I’m innocent?” according to his lawyer.

He is serving a ten-year sentence on unrelated terrorism charges in Italy, where police taped him bragging in a telephone call about his supposed plotting of the Madrid bombings.

Amid a heavy security operation that included armoured cars and police helicopters buzzing overhead, Judge Javier G�mez Bermúdez read out the verdict to a hushed courtroom. Three men - two Moroccans and a Spaniard - were given the toughest sentences in the complex six-month case.

Jamal Zougam, 34, a Moroccan who lived in Madrid, was convicted of mass murder, having placed one of the bombs packed with dynamite and nails aboard the trains. Police arrested him after finding that one of the mobile phones used in an unexploded bomb had been sold from his shop. Several witnesses also reported seeing him aboard one of the trains that morning.

Othman el-Gnaoui, 32, was also found to have had a direct role in the attack and was convicted of murder.

José Emilio Suárez Trashorras, 31, a Spanish miner with a history of mental illness, was convicted of being a “necessary collaborator” in the bombings after selling the dynamite used in the attack to the Madrid cell.

The three were each sentenced to between 35,000 and 43,000 years in prison - though under Spanish law they will serve a maximum 40 years.

Three other Spaniards were convicted of helping Trashorras to traffic the explosives stolen from his mine.
And who is left out?

In my article Monzer al-Kassar and Transnational Terrorism, I look at some of the evidence that has shown up in Spain. That would take me to Winds of Change's Joe Aguilar look at part of that plot and how it involved Monzer al-Kassar:
Well, we are approaching the culmination of this article, the Schwerpunkt, the point where the main forces of the investigators of 3/11 and the ones that want it covered-up are heading for a perhaps decisive confrontation. At the centre of it, there is a man of Syrian origin, a National Police officer named Ayman Maussili Kalaji.

Kalaji arrived to Spain in 1980 as a political refugee, fleeing from the Civil War in Syria. He had served in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (FDLP) in Lebanon, and it appears that he reached the rank of second commander of a missile base there. He also took the anti-government side in Syria, during that country's repression of the Muslim Brotherhood, resulting in Kalaji knocking on Spanish Immigration's door in order to keep his head on his shoulders. What may be more interesting to us is that as a bright teenage, he had been well trained in terrorist techniques, including electronics, and intelligence operations, and might even have been trained in the Soviet Union.

Regarding his experience, he began to collaborate with the Spanish security forces. Among other duties, he controlled the communications of Monzer Al Kassar, an arms trafficker that supplied to Palestine terrorists the weapons used in the assault of the Achille Lauro. Al Kassar bought Spanish protection against any awkward Israeli attention by selling two SA-7 portable antiaircraft missiles equipped with a transmitter to ETA. He was also allegedly a friend of Secretary of the Interior Rafael Vera. Later, in 1989, Kalaji worked in an operation to arrest a Hizbullah cell in Valencia, the year in which he was finally admitted to the National Police corps.

What is his relation with the 3/11 plot? Well, he owns a mobile phone store where the mobile phones allegedly used in those attacks were unlocked, (manipulated their software so they can use SIM cards from any company) as he himself has recognized. However, that is not all; the Civil Guard unit that is investigating the plot sent a communication to Judge Del Olmo in which, due to (a) the short time frame (from March 4th and 8th to 11th) to manipulate the phones, (b) the knowledge of Kalaji about terrorists operations and electronics (those well soldered wires) and his relations with other Syrians involved in the attack, requested an arrest warrant against him. The Civil Guards suspect that he is the person that attached the wires to the vibrating units of the mobile phones used in 3/11.

That is, no Al Qaeda, no ETA, but a Police officer.
Then on to Barcepundit gives a 2005 review of events:
El Mundo explains how the police found out that one of their own was the owner of the store where the cell phones were programmed:
From the data obtained in the van, plus the data from the unexploded knapsack bomb, the cell phones that Jamal Ahmidam’s people bought at Bazar Top (the Indian store), and the following “release” [by which the cell phones were able to be operated from any source including calling cards] of those phones, Kalaji’s coworkers at the General Information office came to his store, Tecnología de Sistemas Telefónicos Ayman.

From that very moment, Maussili Kalaji began to fully cooperate with his ex-coworkers at the Information Office, and thanks to him, and to his having written down the IMEI identification numbers of the Bazar Top cell numbers he had been asked to “release” (i.e., program so they phones would allow calling cards from any company and in any modality, prepayment, or contract), the investigators were able to find the Leganés apartment where the terrorist leader of the 3/11 trains of death had taken shelter.
. . .
He was in charge of the Syrian Monzer Al-Kassar
Maussili Kalaji thoroughly knows the Syrian community in Spain, and additionally, was the Spanish agent in charge of listening to and translating all of the telephone conversations of Monzer Al-Kassar, allegad weapons trafficker that was charged by judge Baltasar Garzón for collaborating in the Achille Lauro hijacking
.

The ship’s hijacking took place in 1985, and in 1992 judge Garzón charged Al-Kassar -- Syrian resident of Marbella and representative of the Spanish government in some weapons sales to third countries – of allegedly belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (led by Abu Abbas [see link]), of murder, of belonging to an armed gang and terrorist organization, of attempted murder, illegal detention, and piracy.

Kalaji, as member of the Office of Information and by order of the judge, kept close match on Al-Kassar and his family; but eventually the Syrian friend of former Cesid director Alonso Manglano and ex-Secretary of the Interior Rafael Vera, was absolved of all charges of which judge Garzón had accused him.
Kalaji's Palestinian connections are strong and remain strong. El Mundo describes him as "Kalaji, who considers himself a defender of the Palestinian cause". My question is, is it wise of the Spanish intelligence services to have place in such sensitive jobs both Kalaji and members of his family?
Yes, Monzer al-Kassar, involved with the 3/11 Madrid train bombings. Syria wants him not to be extradited which comes down to a pretty blunt piece of work by Syria.

Here is what they are saying: Your soldiers in Lebanon are hostages of fortune, release Monzer al-Kassar... or else.

And Syria has delivered a message to the US on this, from Naharnet News, Beirut, 26 DEC 2007:
Syria Warns 'Resistance' Against Being Dragged into Civil War

Syria's ambassador to Washington, Imad Mustafa, has cautioned that a political failure could plunge Lebanon into civil war and warned Hizbullah against being dragged into the battle which could be a "great national disaster for Syria and victory for the enemies of the Lebanese resistance."

Mustafa also dubbed a possibility to elect a new Lebanese President by a simple majority vote an "explosive choice."

He hoped that Lebanon would get out of the presidential vacuum, adding, however, that there is a "strong possibility that an agreement could be finally reached" where the Lebanese would have a consensus President "who enjoys respect of all factions and that (person) is Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman."

Mustafa said the enemies of Lebanon were "those who wish that civil war break out in it," adding that the same foes "are instigating one Lebanese party against the other in the hopes that this would lead to an internal political strife; they are the ones who are turning Lebanon against its brethren and neighbors."

He believed that the Hizbullah-led opposition's aspirations were "Lebanese ambitions," stressing that there is nothing harmful in them.

Beirut, 26 Dec 07, 09:51
Couple that with the threat to Spain and what do you get?

Something like: Give up extraditing Monzer al-Kassar and looking into the assassinations in Lebanon, or things will go very badly in Lebanon and we will pin it on you.

This is the other shoe dropping on trying to get Monzer al-Kassar.

This is not over by a long shot.

UPDATE 27 DEC 2007
From Reform Party of Syria via wadinet

Assad Behind Bombs to Stop the Extradition of Kassar

RPS Press Release/ -- The Reform Party of Syria condemns the latest bombs, which exploded in Iraq killing at least 34 innocent Iraqis in two separate cities on one of the holiest days of the year and accuses Baschar al-Assad of carrying out a well calculated terror campaign against Iraq.

The cold killing comes on the heels of a court order in Spain to extradite the Syrian arms dealer Monzer al-Kassar, a close Assad operative, to the US who is suspected of selling arms to various anti-US groups and whose history of drug smuggling and other illegal activities mirrors the Assad regime qualitative purpose. The latest spate of killing in Iraq was intended to send a signal to the White House that unless the US vacates its request for the extradition of al-Kassar, the Assad regime will continue terrorizing Iraq and its innocent citizens. Al-Kassar can indict Assad directly in suspected killing of Americans, which explains the threats Assef Shawkat, Assad's brother-in-law and Chief of the Military Intelligence, made against Spanish UNIFIL troops in the south of Lebanon should the Spanish government comply with the US request.

Kassar is an important asset and when he points the finger at Baschar al-Assad and his immediate family, the US will be able to threaten the Assad family directly and much more impetuously than the parallel indictment expected from the UN international tribunal investigating the murder of Rafik al-Hariri. The cat and mouse game between the Assads and the international community is on high octane manifested by appeasing words from diplomats in the US and Israel while behind the scenes, tracts are pursued to clip Assad's wings once and for all.

We salute the Spanish government for its brave stand against terror and urge it to extradite Kassar expeditiously. We also urge the US administration to expedite its pursuit of the Thugs of Damascus as they continue disrupting Lebanon, killing innocent Iraqi civilians, and threatening the region with chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. The alternative to Assad are Syrian dissidents and patriotic politicians committed to democracy, freedom, and human rights.

© Reform Party of Syria
My thanks to Mark Eichenlaub for pointing to this material.

4 comments:

Ikez said...

Kurt,
I still don't understand. Is al Kassar already in Spanish custody or are they still trying to get him?

A Jacksonian said...

Ikez - He is in Spanish 'custody', if that means anything these days. The question of his being 'out of circulation' is another one that is pretty nebulous when it comes to Spain as he has had time to pre-plan with lawyers and such for decades whenever he is 'taken into custody'. So even in jail that does not mean he is not controlling his assets and contacts... and I have this nasty suspicion that he is under much less 'custody' than that. Spain has been quiet about that... their laws tend to be lax on these things, to say the least.

Cedars1559 said...

Why Hezbollah LOST the War in Lebanon!
And the Current 'Present' Situation in Southern Lebanon

By Gabriel al-Amin
Beirut, Lebanon

http://www.lebanonwire.com/0709MLN/07092429MN.asp


On July 12, 2006 Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers that led to Israel's war with them and, by extension, Lebanon itself. Hezbollah has been on Israel's fence since the latter's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Israel always requested from the international community and from the Lebanese government to deploy its Lebanese Army there instead of Hezbollah militants. Hezbollah, quite naturally, refused! Hezbollah vowed to NEVER allow any other force other than itself to occupy southern Lebanon. Even during the conflict, Hezbollah said it would never agree to allow either the Lebanese army nor international monitors to patrol southern Lebanon.


Then finally, when two IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers were kidnapped, Israel found the perfect excuse it was looking for to go into Lebanon and push Hezbollah well away from the Lebanese-Israel border. Israel pursued a limited invasion and killed over 500-600 Hezbollah members during the one month war. Additionally, Israel took over every single village in southern Lebanon. During the conflict even though Hezbollah received such a blow and all its members were freaked out and on the run. Yet when the hostilities ended, Hezbollah claimed victory! But did it really win?

Firstly, Israel agreed to a cessation of hostilities NOT because it surrendered and defeated militarily, but because of international pressure from the European Union and the United States. During this conflict Israel endured more international pressure, than it ever did in the past 10 years. Israel was put forth conditions and international agreements, such as the deployment of 15,000 Lebanese soldiers and 15,000 United Nations peace keepers into southern Lebanon, and arms embargo on Hezbollah. "This" proposal which was presented to Israel which EVEN Hezbollah agreed to accept, was something Israel was yearning for for many decades and was a once in a life time opportunity, it was a REAL "golden opportunity," even the far right in Israel said "this is an excellent proposal, so give it a shot." This cessation of hostilities, known as "The August Ceasefire", was initiated by the United Nations and International Community, and was put forward before both parties, Israel and Hezbollah, Hezbollah JUMPED right on the wagon to accept, because they saw it as the only way out of the mess they got themselves into. While at the same time, Israel was more stubborn on accept this ceasefire-agreement, since they were on a winning streak. Ever since then Hezbollah has not been seen or heard from in Southern Lebanon! At long last the frail Lebanese Government has finally had a degree of sovereignty over all of its state and is finally monitoring and guarding its own borders.

Not too long ago, nearly all television and print media images coming out of southern Lebanon were that of armed Hezbollah fighters with their guns, outposts, and banners. Not anymore! Hezbollah is now hiding under rocks in Southern Lebanon, its military might having received a substantial blow. In addition, Hezbollah is no longer enjoying the freedom and luxury of easily transferring Syrian/Iranian weaponry across the Lebanese-Syrian border or via the Beirut seaport. Much of this due to the combined efforts of a stronger Lebanese army and U.N. forces keeping a lid on such transferals.

But even though the International Troops and the Lebanese Army keep Hezbollah in check, isn't there still Hezbollah presence in Southern Lebanon, EVEN THOUGH they are hiding "under rocks?" The same could be said for Al Qaeda presence in the United States, who are also hiding under rocks.

Hezbollah may portray themselves as fearsome "militants" but they are in fact cowards cowering behind Lebanese civilians. Yet, through mostly pin-point targeting, the IDF dealt a heavy blow to Hezbollah. Five to six hundred Hezbollah terrorists were killed and nearly all of their bases, headquarters and tactical infrastructure destroyed.

Some might say, "But didn’t Hezbollah manage to shoot over one hundred rockets into Israel every single day? AND why, during the war, didn't the Israel army/air-force ever manage to stop the Katyusha fire?" Well the answer to that would be "What's so impressive about groups of one or two rag heads pointing and setting off an unguided Katyusha southward into Israel?" In addition to the fact that Hezbollah only needed 1% of their military might in order to shoot Katyushas from their scattered fields and caves, into Israel every day. Plus, the only way to have completely stopped the Katyusha fire would have been to occupy every square inch of South Lebanon, including 20 miles north of the Litani, and to stay there for a few months.

Israel 'BADLY' miscalculated Hezbollah, those past 6 years since it withdrew from Lebanon. Why? Because in 2004, it was estimated that if Israel was to engage in war with Hezbollah, their Katyusha arsenal would result in 100 deaths per day on the Israeli side, but instead only 2 people per day were killed by those rockets. But during the war, Israel came to the realization that 99.9% of all those rocket attacks, mostly result in a lot of noise and broken windows. Prior to the war it was also estimated that if Israel launched a ground invasion, it would result in the deaths of over 70 Israeli soldiers per day, which would have left over 2000 dead on the IDF side at the end of the 34 day conflict. But only 120 soldiers were killed in total, which makes it 3-4 soldiers per day. Also, prior to the war AND during the war, both the ‘poor’ Israeli intelligence and Hezbollah itself even claimed, that the “Mighty Hezbollah Rocket Arsenal” would hit Tel-Aviv, but ‘no rocket ever made it to Tel-Aviv!’ Instead, Hezbollah, tried to send little remote controlled ‘toy’ planes there.

The reason 120 soldiers were killed in the first place, is because what would someone expect if an army deployed 30,000 soldiers squashed together in a small, tight, open space (South Lebanon)! It was amazing that after the war, those soldier didn't all suffer from cluster phobia. But even though Israel deployed so many soldiers in the open, Hezbollah didn't manage to deliver that harsh blow as was estimated before the ground invasion. But after all, Hezbollah didn't fight as courageous as the Egyptians during the Suez Canal invasion, nor as the Syrians during the war in the Golan heights.

It shouldn’t shock the world that Hezbollah bombed a couple Israeli Merkava Tanks, because even the Palestinians have done it in the past too. Blowing up a Merkava Tank is NOT an ‘uncommon’ operation. But at the same time Israel was still advancing and still taking over every village in South Lebanon, bombing every headquarter and outpost, all Hezbollah members were on the run. Even though Israel lost a couple of tanks and didn’t destroy Hezbollah, it still doesn’t mean they (Israel) were defeated militarily. The definition of military defeat, mean: to crush the other side, force it to flee and or be on the run, or force it into surrender. Israel was not defeated militarily!

The same can be said about the Israeli naval ship that was bombed by Hezbollah of the coast of Lebanon, during the first week of the conflict, which caused a tiny bit of damage to the ship and which resulted in the deaths of 4 Israeli naval soldiers. Once again this wasn’t a military defeat, but it was an internal flaw, which meant that; Israel needed a better anti missile naval detector radar, a better anti missile interceptor, and better armor for its ship. But did Hezbollah succeed in sinking the ship and destroying it completely, did they destroy all the Israeli naval ships of the Lebanon Coast, did Israel scurry away with all its ships with its tail in between its legs, or did Israel ask for a cease-fire? NO! Instead, Israel simultaneously the same day, brought the damaged ship back into Israel for repair and sent another ship to the Lebanon Coast to replace it.

During and after the war, Hezbollah regretted starting the war in the first place, by kidnapped the two Israeli soldiers. But Israel on the other hand, didn’t regret going to war with Hezbollah, not even 1%. In fact Israel was ready to go for round two, but Hezbollah, will not dare even consider thinking about it.

During the fighting, many people (both inside and outside Lebanon) finally saw Hezbollah as they really are... a terrorist group. It's strategy had little or no military value. The rockets they launched were intended to cause terror among Israel's citizenry. They were not aimed at Israel military targets.

Israel never managed to destroy Hezbollah. As much as the IDF might have wanted to, the wiping out of Hezbollah was not Israel's goal. Nor could it ever be its goal. It is against the laws of physics to destroy a guerilla/terrorist group (America is learning it the hard way with Al Qaeda) since their operatives and members are always blending in and out of the civilian populations from which they so cowardly operate. In fact NEVER in history has a guerilla group ever been destroyed.

Additionally, rescuing the kidnapped IDF soldiers without a strong intelligence as to exactly where they were hidden, would have been a nearly impossible mission.. assuming they had not already been secreted out of Lebanon into Syria or Iran!

We constantly hear phrases such "Hezbollah emerged stronger," "Hezbollah is now stronger than ever," or "Hezbollah is now seen stronger than before!" There is some truth to that. Since before the Israeli withdrawal of 2000, Hezbollah was seen as more of a small arms, home made explosive, cut and run group, but during this conflict they were able to show off their Iranian made weapons. But they were no match for the Israeli army, whom they bowed down to at the end, by feeling too threatened to attack and provoke ever again.

When the United Nations wanted to impose a 48-hour ceasefire, it was Hezbollah which rushed to accept while Israel had to be pressured. Obviously this was because Israel had the military momentum in her favor. And when the month-long conflict ended, Hezbollah leader, Nasrallah, remained in an underground bunker, no longer enjoying frequent visits to central Beirut, giving daily "Hate Israel" speeches, driving down to his home town of southern Lebanon or enjoying first class flights to Damascus and Tehran. Nasrallah even admitted that had he known that even one percent of this war would have gone as it had, he would have NEVER kidnapped the soldiers and thus started the war!

"We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not.” - Hezbollah Leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, August 27, 2006

In February 2007, there was a skirmish between Israeli troops and the Lebanese army on the Israel/Lebanon border, even though this skirmish that resulted in a shoot out and was unfortunate, the ray of light from all this, was that Israel was confronted and attacked by the Lebanese army and not by Hezbollah. This was one of the first signs that showed that the Lebanese army was doing its job. This was mostly due to the fact that Hezbollah lost its kingdom in Southern Lebanon, and is NOW in constant check by UNIFL, Lebanese Army, and International Troops. At least the Lebanese army was able to stand its ground and take control, unlike BEFORE the August 11 ceasefire! At least Israel finally got its wish, after 40 years, to FINALLY have the Lebanese army in control of the border. Since August 11, 2006 when the Lebanese army began its deployment in Southern Lebanon, not a single Katuysha, let alone a singe bullet was fired toward the Israeli side of the fence by Hezbollah. Unlike after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, when Hezbollah would look for any excuse to shoot Katyushas into Israel at least once every three months, but not anymore. No longer will the Israeli citizens of Northern Israel will ever live in fear once again!

People in the Lebanese Government now hate Hezbollah, for bringing destruction to Lebanon. All of Hezbollah's southern Beirut strong posts were destroyed by Israel. Even after the cease fire, Israel stayed in Lebanon for two more months in order to destroy all remaining Hezbollah outposts and bunkers while Hezbollah stood by and did nothing. During the conflict some of the Israel/Lebanon border fence was destroyed and torn down, and Israel was in no rush to fix it, since what's the point? Hezbollah will not want to mess with the IDF again! Even until today some of that fence has not been fixed yet, since the only threat of infiltration, now, is from drug dealers smuggling Hashish across that border.

But what about the Winograd Commission, "which is an independent Israeli government-appointed commission of inquiry, chaired by retired Israeli chief judge Eliyahu Winograd, which is set out to investigate and draw lessons from the failures experienced by Israel during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Which resulted in a war panel, and even the resignation of high figures such as the Israeli chief of staff Dan Halutz." The reason THIS is currently taking place in Israel, is it goes to show that Israel is a democratic country! If a "Lebanese-Winograd Commission" would be done to Hezbollah; for launching an illogical irresponsible attack on Israel, by kidnapping the two soldiers which led to the war and the destruction of Lebanon. And if a Lebanese Winograd Commission would be done to the Lebanese government; for not controlling its southern border by allowing thuggish armed militias (Hezbollah) to roam free there, allowing illegal weapon shipments via the Lebanese seaport, air port, and Syrian Lebanese border to those armed "non-governmental" militias, and allowing Syria and Iran to meddle in its politics, then Lebanon would crumble to dust! But after all, Lebanon is not a Democracy.

Worst case scenario, the Winograd Commission and some of the failures of this war, prove, that Israel might have been defeated from within, but not militarily.

Furthermore there hasn't been one complaint filed against Hezbollah on behalf of UNIFL and the International Troops since last year's August cease-fire, the only complaint filed, was against the Israeli army for their over flights over Lebanese territory. Speaking about Israeli over flights, even the Israeli army itself, hasn't complained even once, about hostile enemy fire against its planes by Hezbollah. Since Israel withdrew from Lebanon in May 2000, up until the war last summer, they continued their daily over flight and breaches over Lebanese territory, only to find themselves being confronted by Hezbollah anti-aircraft artillery. But after the August cease-fire Israel 'STILL' continued its breaches over Lebanese airspace, but this time, Hezbollah hasn't even shot one pellet at them! Maybe because they are deterred and maybe because UNIFL and the Lebanese army are now in control.

After the war, Hezbollah saw that it could no longer push around and bully Israel, and are therefore now trying to bully the "weak" Lebanese government by; their mass demonstration, camping out in front of the Lebanese Parliament, and political assassinations.

Israel did loose the war last summer, but not in Lebanon, but instead in Gaza. After Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, Israel began a massive military campaign in Gaza, destroying infrastructure, entering towns and cities, going after terrorists, and also trying to stop the Qassam rocket fire. But instead, all it achieved was nothing, and the results of it were, that now, the Palestinians saw even more of a weakness in Israel. After the Israeli military campaign in Lebanon, deterrence was at least achieved, BUT unlike in Gaza, after the massive military campaign took place there (Gaza), the Israeli deterrence was lost for good, and now, the Palestinians are, even, more UNDETERRED from Israel that ever! And therefore have increase their rocket fire into Israel. In addition to the fact that as soon as Israel stopped its military campaign, Hamas and other groups said, "They are now even more determined than ever to kidnap another Israeli Soldier." In April of 2007, they acted on their promise, under the cover of intense rocket fire on the Israel town of Sderot, Hamas terrorists again attempted to infiltrate Israel in order to abduct another soldier, but failed. A month later the militant group Islamic Jihad successfully infiltrated Israel, to also try to kidnap an Israeli soldier, but also failed. At least they weren't afraid to try!

After the war some Arab Governments, including the Palestinians, claimed Hezbollah achieved a divine victory! But hey, lets not forget, that some of those Arab governments and Palestinians which claimed Hezbollah won that "divine victory," are some of those "same" Arab governments who "STILL" until today claim that Syria, Egypt, and the rest of the Arab World won the 1967 War and the 1973 War! That is why after this war Israel lost its deterrence against the Palestinians, Iran, and Syria. BUT gained heavily, its deterrence, against Hezbollah.


Conclusion:

People from around the world, before the August cease-fire, would have never believed nor imagined that the Lebanese army would EVER be in control of its southern border. Nor, people would have never believed Lebanon would EVER be able to establish control over "illegal" arms shipments across its Lebanese/Syrian border, sea ports, and airports, and, well, it finally is!

Hezbollah will most likely never dare kidnap IDF soldiers because they saw the might and strength of the Israeli army, and they now feel threatened. Sure, some Hezbollah sympathizers may throw rocks, wave Hezbollah flags or scream "Allah Akbar" at the Lebanese-Israeli border fence but Hezbollah rank and file are laying low. Very low! And Hezbollah is no longer the imminent threat at that very same border.

Since the 'moment' the two soldiers were kidnapped and even during the war, Israel knew, they would not succeed in getting them back, in addition to the fact that destroying a guerilla group is against the laws of physics! Once people will get those two facts into their heads, then THEY will realize that, the outcomes that were achieved as a result of this conflict, were the best possible "REALISTIC" outcomes that Israel could have achieved.

Obviously this past year, the Northern Israeli border has been the quietest it has ever been over the past 40 years.

By, Gabriel al-Amin
Beirut, Lebanon



Articles and Refernces:

UNIFL: Not 'ONE' complaint filed against Hezbollah since last years cease-fire
(Jerusalem Post 6/14/2007)
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1181813036239&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Again, Israeli gloom is misplaced (First Post - 4/17/2007)
http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?menuID=1&subID=688&WT.srch=1

Lebanese army, UNIFIL are keeping Hezbollah in check (Haaretz - 2/21/2007)
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/828765.html

Hezbollah's 'Victory'? (Washington Post 9/1/2006)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/31/AR2006083101444_pf.html

The Lebanese Winnograd Commission (Thomas Friedman, New York Times 5/10/2007)
http://www.theolympian.com/109/story/104847.html

The Egyptian, 1973 October Victory (Egyptian State Information Service)
http://www.sis.gov.eg/VR/october/english/7.htm

Lebanon’s Army Chief “the Lebanese Army is properly controlling its borders with Syria” (Moqwama.net [Hizbollah’s Official Website])
http://www.moqawama.org/english/_nos.php?filename=20070330111424153

A Jacksonian said...

Gabriel - My thanks.

I have covered this in multiple, previous posts.

I will add that the Israeli vessel was not the only one targeted that night and that the attack and sinking of an unarmed merchantman at sea is an act of piracy on the high seas by the Law of Nations. I thus consider Hezbollah to be fully a Piratical organization beyond their Private War outlaw behavior on land.

Hezbollah is wholly a creature of Iran with assistance from Syria, but is no longer limited to just Lebanon, but stretches into Spain, Algeria, Argentina and the Tri-Border Area there, Bosnia, Chechnya, and, of course, Afghanistan and Iraq. The latter two Nations are giving more than a little resistance to them, to say the least.

Hezbollah wages Private War on the cheap and their static positions were no match against Israel and the Israelis were able to control 'the most heavily defended air corridor on Earth' over the Bekaa with impunity. I consider Hezbollah to be a vicious foreign legion of Iran, but without any military honors due to it as it is a fully outlaw organization in the realm of war. Even removal of Syria and Iran will not end the full Hezbollah threat as the funding centers are now present in The Balkans (via the narcotics trade), TBA (via narcotics, money laundering, intellectual property theft, and actually owning parts of legitimate businesses) and via their 'meat processing centers' which are slaughterhouses donated by Iran and used as base points for training of Hezbollah cadre... they also put out steaks and such, too. Add to that the standard 'terrorist tax' or tithe or whathaveyou of simple intimidation of locals and you have a globally distributed organization that would carry on its missions without the heavy weaponry provided by Iran and Syria.

Again, my thanks, but this is more than slightly OT.