Crossfire War – Rapid Fire News=Tehran – Beirut – Damascus Watch – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Ankara – Baghdad – El Arish – Ramallah – Gaza – Damascus – Beirut/Paris – Rome – Jerusalem – Cairo – Amman – London – Washington; Gunbattles Erupt in Beirut Between Hezbollah Led Opposition and Government Supporters – Strike Paralyzes Beirut – Israel Expands Air – Ground Operation in Southern Gaza
Night Watch: BEIRUT – With the heavily armed-entrenced political divisions in Lebanon I always suspected Hezbollah could become more involved in a war in Lebanon for control of the country than in its next war with Israel. That war may have begun today with the news of gunbattles fought in the streets between the Hezbollah led opposition and supporters of the pro-West government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. This is the heaviest street fighting within Beirut since the fifteen year civil war ended in 1990. TFL is reporting the fighting began in a Muslim district when the opposing sides began exchanging insults and throwing stones. An economic dispute is also at the center of the conflict as labor unions had received support for a nationwide strike in a pay disupte with the government and Hezbollah has a lot of influence within the unions which today temporarily caused a suspension of flights at Beirut International Airport. [TFL]
Beirut – Though the current political impasse is nearly two years old it became more alarming with remarks made just a few days ago by the leader of the Druze community and pro-government supporter Walid Jumblatt who was also a major figure in Lebanon’s civil war. Jumblatt stated that Hezbollah was planning something, then he mentioned the telecommunications network Iran was helping Hezbollah establish and that Hezbollah had also installed surveillance cameras at Beirut’s airport to monitor the private jets of Lebanese leaders to assassinate them, including himself. PressTV reports Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Sheik Naim Qassem immeidately responded Monday night to Jumblatt’s criticisms by warning, “Hezbollah will deal with those who interfere with the network as if they were Israeli spies…and they will face ferocious resistance.” Tehran has admitted enabling Hezbollah to construct the network but says its is only to help Hezbollah in its next war with Israel. But with the politics of paranoia in Lebanon the pro-government parties believe the network is part of Hezbollah’s attempt to take over the country and that Tehran wants to make Lebanon a satellite of Iran. Though all political groups agree when it comes to opposing Israel they cannot agree on Lebanon so now the street battlelines are drawn once again. [PRESSTV]
Qassem stated the adminstration of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, which declared the telecommunications network illegal, is “playing with fire” and that the network is as important to Hezbollah as are its weapons and is part of its security. Communications played a crucial role in Hezbollah’s war with Israel in 2006. Tuesday Nabil Nicola, opposition leader from the Free Patriotic Movement led by Christian and former general Michel Aoun, stated the decision by Siniora was a “declaration of war” and that the country was headed down the “explosive path of no return.” Also on Tuesday former Premier Omar Karami said the government’s order against the network was part of a plan “to finish off the resistance” and that the Siniora government was “carrying out orders issued by external forces.” The “external forces” could only mean the West, led by Paris, which has lost an enormous amount of influence in the country by insisting Lebanon owes France an enormous debt from the civil war which was started by militia groups controlled by France.
I suspect Paris and the West have come up with a grand strategy of intervention by the U. S.-Israel in support of the 13,000 European troops in the south of Lebanon. But the external forces supporting Hezbollah, Syria-Iran are more prepared for heavy fighting while at the same time the head of Lebanon’s army has excellent relations with Damascus. Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah is to make a statement on this latest fighting Thursday.
Noueiri – Swissinfo/Reuters report the fighting so far has been confined to the districts of Noueiri, Ras al Nabae and Wata al-Musaitbeh with both sides using assault rifles and grenades. Supporters of Hezbollah, including the Shia militia Amal, have blocked roads to Lebanon’s sea and airports and have erected barriers of burning tires, old cars and mountains of earth to block the main roads of the capital. [SWISSINFO]
Tyre – PressTV reports in the southern coastal city of Tyre hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the main square to demand the resignation of Siniora and there were similiar demonstrations in major cities around the country. [PRESSTV]
Khan Yunis – An Israel Defense Force (IDF) air-ground operation into southern Gaza has entered its fourth day. The Jerusalem Post/AP are reporting the Israel Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday conducted at least four air strikes in the area of Khan Yunis which is not far from the Egyptian border and Rafah Terminal. This operation began when twenty-five IDF tanks and armored bulldozers invaded Gaza under heavy gunfire from Palestinian militants as the IDF concentrates on abandoned houses the gunmen use for cover. Since this action is near Egypt it is quite possible Israel will continue to expand the operation with the deliberate intention of linking up with Egyptian forces, in other words this could be the beginning of joint operations planned in advance between Cairo-Jerusalem against Hamas and Palestinian militants that are a threat to both governments. Hamas is also closely connected to Egypt’s main opposition organization the Muslim Brotherhood which wants to overthrow Egypt President Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak is the last Islamic head of state willing to cooperate militarily with the West. [JPOST]
Washington – According to PressTV there was a meeting Tuesday of high-ranking officials in Washington on plans for a military strike on Iran due to Tehran’s massive support of Islamic militias in Iraq attacking U. S.-British forces and the rocket barrages of Baghdad’s International Green Zone where foreign embassies and government offices are based. The meeting was held in either the White House or Department of Defense. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell refused to disclose any details. [PRESSTV]
White House – Press TV reports John Bolton, Washington’s former Ambassador to the United Nations and a close associate with the administration of President George W. Bush, has publicly advocated such an attack. [PRESSTV]