Crossfire War – Rapid Fire News=Tehran – Beirut – Damascus Watch – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Baghdad – El Arish – Gaza – Nablus – Damascus – Beirut/Paris – Rome – Jerusalem – Cairo – London – Washington; Lebanon Druze Leader Walid Jumblatt Makes Belligerent Speech Targeting Hezbollah – Shia Militia Continues Missile Smuggling – Serbia President Warns of New Conflicts After Kosovo Independence
Night Watch: MOUNT LEBANON – This was not expected. Sunday the leader of Lebanon’s Druze community, Walid Jumblatt, used a televised address, to hundreds of cheering supporters on Mount Lebanon, to make a speech which was not only a virtual declaration of war on the Shia militia Hezbollah but also at times contradictory.
Though he stated, “Our existence, dignity and survivial, and Lebanon are the most important things of all”, he then added ominously, “If you want chaos, we welcome chaos. If you want war, we welcome one. If you think we will stand with our hands tied, this is pure imagination.”
It is no mystery who the “you” is, Hezbollah and Christian nationalists opposed to the government the Druze supports, but Jumblatt does not realize the enormous contradition in his entire address, war and chaos would mean Lebanon’s destruction, the most fragile state in the world and a nation he still claims devotion to.
What is especially ironic his speech was just a few days before a mass rally is to be held Thursday on the third anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri and usually such speeches are used to attack the governments in Tehran-Damascus which carried out the assassination. But war and chaos would invite both governments to not only send more material support to Hezbollah but to also commit troops to the conflict and Jumblatt is a member of the pro-government March 14 group which commemorates the date Syrian troops left Lebanon in 2005. [ALJAZEERA]
This is why Israel will be very much intact after the smoke clears. Though all these militias and governments are opposed to Israel they are more opposed to each other in and out of Lebanon. Hezbollah has stated repeatedly their weapons are only meant for Israel but of course they heard Jumblatt’s speech and will not hesitate to strike back with an arsenal that rivals if not surpasses Lebanon’s army, an army Hezbollah is on excellent terms with. Nor would Hezbollah mind when Syrian troops re-enter the country, in the name of stability, to institute a government with Hezbollah as its head.
Jumblatt did not mention the 12,000 European units in south Lebanon, serving under UNIFIL, in his speech but he may be under the illusion they will come to his assistance, even though UNIFIL did nothing last year during the three months of fighting at Nahr al-Bared against 400 Islamic militants attacking a government the West has close relations with. In Lebanon, Europe has a policy of ignoring Hezbollah’s massive arms smuggling under the illusion Hezbollah will only use them against Israel. That is a myth Tehran has Hezbollah state publicly. UNIFIL is extremely proud of its role as international spectator which will make them a very easy target for Hezbollah-al-Qaeda-Iran-Syria.
Al Jazeera asked political analyst from Notre Dame, Naim Salem, his observations about Jumblatt’s speech, “He used to respect Hezbollah, now he has shown that he is against them and Hassan Nasrallah. It seems the political division in Lebanon has reached a point of no return. I am afraid this may result in a violent confrontation.”
Crossfirewar.com actually reported Jumblatt’s visit to Tehran three years ago during which they seemed to come to some understanding but his speech today will result in a war more devastating than the war two years ago or the fifteen year civil war from 1975-90. It could actually end with Lebanon once again a province of Syria.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Beirut, Sherine Tadros, has reported Jumblatt is well aware his speech has escalated the tension and is not apologetic. That is why I suspect that was his intention all along. Tadros explained, “This is really the first time that Walid Jumblatt … essentially talks about war. He talked about being ready for war and ready for chaos in very blunt and provocative terms. He has also talked about Hezbollah, talking directly to Hassan Nasrallah, instead of what we’re usually used to hearing, which is March 14 directing their harsh comments towards Syria and Iran. He said he was ready to take away Hezbollah’s Katyusha rockets, when the disarming of Hezbollah is a very sensitive subject in Lebanon. A lot of people will be waiting to see whether Hezbollah will have a harder line now for the government.”
The speech was warlord delusion at its worst. Hezbollah regarded Jumblatt’s speech as inflammatory but made no official comment. I assume they are coordinating their offensives with militias who are also opposed to the government. Tehran-Damascus are also planning their entry and in the name of stability as they accuse the West and governments they support as being the cause of the instability. They may also be planning who bombs Mount Lebanon first.
Beirut – As an indication Tehran-Damascus have prepared Hezbollah to do major damage to any enemy, whether Israel or political opponents in Lebanon, senior Israeli security officials have stated Hezbollah continues to smuggle weapons into south Lebanon. The Jerusalem Post/AP reports the officials quoted confidential military assessements that said since the 2006 war, which ended that August, Iran-Syria have systematically re-armed the Shia military despite the presence of the European troops in UNIFIL.
According to the officials the shipments arrive from Iran-Syria marked “civilian” when in reality they contain anti-tank rockets and missiles, including missiles that can hit south of Tel Aviv. Estimates as to the number of missiles Hezbollah has run as high as 20,000, before the 2006 war Hezbollah had 13,000. [JPOST]
Munich – Speaking at Munich’s (in)security conference Serbianna reports Serbia President Boris Tadic issued a final warning on the conflicts that could erupt as a result of Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia, a declaration expected this month. “Should Serbia be partitioned against its will, it could in turn result in the escalation of many existing conflicts, the reactivation of a number of frozen conflicts and the instigation of who knows how many new conflicts.” It is fitting Tadic made the warning in Munich since it was Germany who led the recognition of Yugoslavia’s division in 1991 by recognizing the independence of Slovenia-Croatia.
True to form Berlin is going to recognize Kosovo and set off another chain reaction of wars in a region leading European powers have historically loved to make power projections and that is why I have called their decisions to recognize Yugoslavia’s division so regressive as if this is news from the nineteenth or early twentieth century. If Berlin, the European Union (EU) and NATO thought they would have an easy, agreeable time with newly elected Tadic they are very much mistaken. [SERBIANNA]
Munich – One official who took Tadic’s warning seriously was Russia First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov representing a government that has led Serbia’s rearmament. B92 reported Ivanov took the opportunity to issue some warnings of his own by saying recognition of Kosovo would open a “Pandora’s Box” of international secessions. He mentioned the EU-NATO would be obliged to recognize the independence of North Cyprus a dispute that caused war between two NATO members Greece/Turkey in 1974. The list of each nationalistic community waiting to declare independence, assuming they will receive recognition and willing to go to war for it would take volumes. [B92]