Crossfire War – Cult of the Assassin – Iran Assassinates Lebanese General

Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – BEIRUT – DAMASCUS WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Amman – Baghdad – Ramallah – Gaza – Damascus – Beirut/Paris – Rome – London – Washington – Jerusalem – Cairo; Cult of the Assassin – Iran – Syria Assassinate Lebanon Brigadier General Francois Hajj – Palestinian Militants Fire More Than 20 Qassam Rockets at Sderot – Mayor Resigns – Tehran Mobilizes Millions of Basij (Volunteer) Forces – Serbia Rejects EU Police Mission for Kosovo

Night Watch: BAABDA – During the more than three months of fighting at the Palestinian refugee camp-city Nahr al-Bared outside Tripoli Lebanon near the Syrian border, the Lebanese army units were led by Brigadier General Francois Hajj. He has just been assassinated. Wednesday morning a car rigged with explosives was detonated by remote control as he was being driven to work at the Defense Ministry. Asharq al-Awsat/AP report the explosion took place in the fortified Christian suburb Baabda east of Beirut and Lebanon Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh is accusing what he calls the “Syrian-Iranian axis”. This is the first time an official has dared state publicly both Syria-Iran have caused a political killing and definitely the first time someone referred to Damascus-Tehran as an “axis”, though officials probably knew privately Syria-Iran have indeed formed a regional-strategic partnership, which actually began during the Iran/Iraq war 1980-88. One of the mysteries of West Asia is for centuries Syria-Iran have almost always held the same regional view, there is even a Syrian branch of the Persian Cult of the Assassin. So now they use car bombs instead of knives. [ASHARQALAWSAT]

Mohammad Khatami announced Syria-Iran should form an axis when he visited Damascus in 2004 as part of a four capital regional tour when he was President of Iran. Khatami even added its purpose should be to remove “pressures” from Israel and the West. The military axis became official in June 2006 when Syria Defense Minister signed the security agreement in Tehran and Iran Defense Minister stated Syria’s security is Iran’s security. In Lebanon the axis has concentrated on removing Lebanese leaders still cooperating with the West, one of the most important being Rafik al-Hariri assassinated in February 2005 and several others since then and now Brigadier General Hajj. Though the fighting this year convinced the Lebanese army units in the north to work with Syria-Iran it obviously did not convince Hajj who was the most likely candidate to replace General Michel Suleiman as army commander when Suleiman becomes head of state. Suleiman supports the war against Israel and the West and that is why he is still alive.

With this killing I assume there are no more serious obstacles to Syria-Iran using Lebanon as a major base to not only attack Israel but also the 12,000 European units in the south serving with UNIFIL. They began to arrive in September 2006 as a result of the Rome Conference. As soon as they arrived, Tehran had al-Qaeda designate them to be an enemy of Islam (Iran).

Sderot – Debka reports the day after Israel conducted air and ground raids into north and south Gaza Palestinian militants were still able to launch 23 Qassam rockets between 8 and 10 am Wednesday morning at Sderot, the Israeli town of 20,000 near Gaza. The publication stated this is further proof Israel’s in and out raids into Gaza have made no serious impact on the war machine Hamas and Palestinian militants have prepared with massive support and training from Tehran. Regular readers of know the raids are almost on a daily basis yet the Qassam and mortar attacks continue in addition to consistent reports the Palestinians now have longer-range rockets they can now use plus anti-tank weapons that are now regularly targeting Israeli ground units. [DEBKA]

Sderot – As of this writing latest news says the rocket firing is continuing into the afternoon. In a parallel development INN reports the Mayor of Sderot, Eli Moyal, has just resigned as a protest against the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and its inability to act more forcefully against the rocket-mortar fire. The chorus of voices in Israel, some of them in the government, for a major invasion of Gaza is growing, but as I once mentioned about a year ago Olmert seems to be more impressed by his social standing with major world leaders than with Israel’s security. [INN]

Tehran – IRNA, the official news site of the Tehran government, announced the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has just appointed Brigadier General Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr Deputy Chief of Staff for Basij Affairs. The Basji (Volunteers) are a massive national militia, a popular army of perhaps as many as eleven million, that Tehran can call upon if the country is invaded. But I suspect some units are offensive and will be mobilized to augment any invasion the Chief of Staffs have planned, against the West through the Balkans and against India through Pakistan. That is why this announcement mentions the order was given due to a request from Chiefs of Staff and calls for a “qualitative” – “quantitative” mobilization. [IRNA]

Belgrade – The Gulf-Times/Reuters report the Serbian government in Belgrade is sending more signals it is ready for war either with Albanians or NATO-EU (European Union). Yesterday it established an office in Kosovska Mitrovica the main city in northern Kosovo as a challenge to the Albanians in the province that demand independence. And today Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has rejected the EU police and justice mission, of 1,600 personnel, the EU has planned to send to Kosovo. “Anyone who wants Serbia as a partner has to know Serbia will accept partnership only as a whole country, not as a country cut in two.” Kostunica continued the warning by saying his government “emphatically rejects in advance an unlawful decision on the arrival of an EU mission.” [GULFTIMES]

Since the EU mission has no legal basis in Serbian territory they could be subject to arrest or worse when they attempt to arrive. Serbia is quite prepared for the worse-war knowing it was inevitable with the increasing level of hatred throughout the European continent that has mobilized since the beginning of hostilities in 1991. Ultimatums should start flying back and forth next.

Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.