Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=DOHA – BEIRUT – TEHRAN WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Doha Agreement Ends Lebanon Political Impasse – Hezbollah Led Opposition to Receive More Cabinet Seats – Tent City Taken Down – Israel PM Olmert Accused of Using Syria Negotiations as Attempt to Save His Career – Russia-Mongolia Defense Ministers Meet in Ulan Bator – Targeting China
Night Watch: DOHA – Due to the personal and persistent effort of Hezbollah supporter, Qatar Emir Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, an agreement was reached in Doha in the early hours of Wednesday morning that has ended the eighteen month political impasse in Lebanon. Al Jazeera reports the agreement concentrates on the election of General Michel Suleiman as President within 24 hours, the formation of a national unity government and a ban on using weapons in any internal conflict. This satisfies Hezbollah’s main demands as they have always said their weapons are meant to be used only against Israel. But they and their main state sponsors of Iran-Syria-Qatar knew Hezbollah needed a strong national military base and this agreement solidifies their position so they can now finish their agenda of the next war with Israel which Syria-Iran are prepared to enter. Hezbollah’s lead negotiator, Mohammad Raad said, “Neither side got all it demanded, but the agreement is a good balance between all parties demand.” The most contentious issue of an enlarged cabinet with veto power for the opposition has been resolved in Hezbollah’s favor. The opposition now has eleven seats instead of the previous six, the majority has sixteen and the remaining three will be determined by the President and General Suleiman has excellent relations with Damascus. [ALJAZEERA]
Prominent leader of the pro-government bloc, Saad al-Hariri, said they “made this agreement although we are deeply wounded.” I suspect he was convinced the agreement represents Hezbollah’s easy victories in the field two weeks ago that ended with al-Hariri protected by Lebanese troops. Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, opposition leader, said the tent city, erected by demonstrators in downtown Beirut in December 2006, will finally be taken down and recent reports have said that has already happened. Prime Minster Fuad Saniora stated the Arab League can now concentrate on improving Lebanon-Syria relations and since this agreement has the strong support of Damacus that will be easy. I would not be surprised if behind the scenes all the parties were told a national unity government will enable Lebanon to present a united front (militarily) against Israel and governments in the West that support Israel. Qatar Prime Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani announced the agreement will be “carried out immediately.” Hezbollah’s massive preparations for war with Israel have been virtually uninterrupted.
Jerusalem – There are a lot of false hopes surrounding reports of Israel/Syria peace negotiations through Ankara especially since disputes have erupted within Israel’s government and the Prime Minister Office stating they never agreed to give up the Golan Heights as Syria Foreign Minister Walid Moallem is claiming. I am not sure if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued that denial especially since Haaretz reports there are those in Israel’s government who claim Olmert is using these negotiations to save himself from is fifth corruption investigation into his suspicious financial practices since he took office in 2006. MK (Knesset Minister) Gideon Sa’ar responded angrily, “He who receives cash envelopes won’t touch the Golan. Olmert’s announcement proves there is no limit to his cynicism and games with the property of Israel for the sake of his own survival.” MK Aryeh Eldad stated, “Olmert thinks that Ariel Sharon managed to avoid a corruption sentence with the help of the disengagement he will manage to escape with the help of these negotiations.” Chairman of the Golan Heights Eli Malkha went so far as to say, “Olmert is endangering the existence of Israel. Israel’s citizens will never allow such a ridiculous and irresponsible action.” If their charges are true, and they probably are, then Olmert has become the most suspicious, irresponsible leader in Israel’s modern history and knowing the chequered career of Ariel Sharon that is really saying something. Sharon was Olmert’s mentor. [HAARETZ]
Damascus – In the meantime Syria Foreign Minister Walid Moallem is claiming previous Prime Ministers of Israel have always pledged to return the heights. The Jerusalem Post quoted him, “We received commitments for a withdrawal from the Golan to the June 4, 1967 line. This is not new. It started since Rabin’s pledge for a pullout in 1993, and all subsequent Israeli Prime Ministers abided by it.” No one in Israel’s government is agreeing with Moallem’s interpretation and this is obviously not 1993 when the threats were not as immense and immediate as they are in 2008. Any withdrawal would put Israel in an increasingly defenseless position and the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 did not improve Israel’s security but has enabled Tehran-Damascus to use the strip as a base of attack against Israel so of course they will use the Golan Heights for the same. That is how Syria used the Golan before the 1967 Six Day war and June 4 was the day before Israel’s lightening victory by staging a pre-emptive attack since they knew Syria was about to attack. [JPOST]
Olmert is obviously not in his right mind. His successor may decide to use the lessons from that year and catch the enemy completely by surprise.
Ulan Bator – RIA reports the Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov met his Mongolian counterpart in Ulan Bator Wednesday. Staff officer Colonel Alexei Kuznetsov stated, “The Russian Defense Minister said that all the objective preconditions existed for expanding military and defense cooperation between our countries.” I don’t think this was done as an excuse for Moscow to raise more revenue by exporting weapons but as a very real expression of concern of preparing Mongolia to be a strategic counter-balance to China as Beijing is mounting a major threat to Russia’s interests in South Asia-India. China’s preparations to attack India again, as they did in 1962, are no secret and Moscow has used its close relations with India as a way of preventing China from controlling more of Asia’s resources. Moscow knows there are those in Ulan Bator who may be willing to re-unite with the Mongolians in China’s Inner Mongolia province. That of course would make Beijing less of an offensive threat. With that in mind a defense cooperation program was signed in Moscow Tuesday which will run from 2008-2012. [RIA]
This is a direct follow up on the discussions that were held during the three day working visit to Moscow by Mongolia President Nambaryn Enkhbayar with Russia President Dmitry Medvedev from May 15-18. It comes right after reports of China having ballistic missiles in position that can hit northern India and southern Russia.