Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – BEIRUT – DAMASCUS WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Baghdad – El Arish – Nablus – Gaza – Damascus – Beirut/Jerusalem – Cairo – Amman – Paris – Rome – London – Washington; Hezbollah Declares High Alert – Positions 50,000 Fighters on Lebanon/Israel Border – US Embassy in Beirut Increases Security – Lebanon Officials Believe War is Near – Pm Siniora Against War – Egypt Pres. Mubarak – Jordan King Abdullah in Crises Meeting At Sharm El-Sheikh – Palestinians Increase Rocket – Mortar Barrage From Gaza After Mysterious Explosion Kills Senior Islamic Jihad Leader
Night Watch: BENNT JBAIL – As part of a series of planned preparations for (f)allout war Tehran has ordered Hezbollah to declare high alert and position 50,000 of its fighters on Lebanon’s border with Israel. Haaretz/AP and the Lebanese paper A-Safir have also reported for at least the past few days Hezbollah has been evacuating buildings used for social and political occasions which confirms the planning of the assassination in advance by Tehran-Hezbollah-Damascus, using a body in place of Imad Mughniyeh, for the express purpose of increasing the war around Israel to such an extent Iran-Syria will enter it. Both governments will state their reasons being support for Palestinian and Lebanese people and Tehran will add support for Syria as Iran accuses Israel of violating Syria’s sovereignty. Tehran-Damascus will also state the policies of Israel, supported by the West, is the greatest cause of regional instability which will justify attacks against the 12,000 European forces in south Lebanon that are outnumbered by Hezbollah 4 to 1. [HAARETZ]
Lebanese officials also believe war is near, a reality, and a paper close to Hezbollah, Al-Akhbar, report war is now being openly discussed by Hezbollah-Iran-Syria. Palestinian units in Lebanon have also been placed on high alert. Al-Akhbar should have said specific military planning-offensives instead of discussion. I suspect Tehran wants to keep Israel and the West on the defensive. There is yet no word on the preparations, if any, being taken by Lebanon’s army which his headed by General Michel Suleiman who is close to Iran-Syria-Hezbollah. Not only did the army assist Hezbollah two years ago but has also taken an active role in Hezbollah’s re-arming.
Beirut – Lebanon Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has come out against war in an interview reported by Haaretz/DPA which partially answers my question as to how united will Lebanon’s leadership be during the war. “I don’t believe we have an interest to wage an open war worldwide because this will be harmful to Hezbollah as well as to Islamic and Arab causes. We have had an earlier experience. We must not repeat this experience.” Siniora is of course referring to the devastation to Lebanon’s transportation infrastructure by Israel’s air offensive two years ago. I suspect his warning will fall on deaf ears since I assume most Lebanese leaders, across the religious-political spectrum, will support the war against Israel as well as the European units in UNIFIL and agree with Lebanon being used as a base by Iran-Syria. [HAARETZ]
Damascus – I am not the only one expressing doubts as to whether or not Imad Mughniyeh was actually killed. In the linked article Jim Clancy of CNN International is also expressing his skepticism of Mughniyeh’s highly touted death so joyously celebrated by Hezbollah-Iran-Syria. Clancy knows Tehran used the liaison, earlier in his service, as a behind the scenes agent for many off the camera missions shrouded in secrecy. Clancy mentions even what is shown on camera cannot always be what it seems. As a graphic example his article shows the famous news photo of the hijacking of TWA flight 847 in Beirut June 1985 by four Islamic gunmen and apparently one of the gunmen holding a pistol on the pilot. But in reality the “gunmen” was not one of the hijackers at all but a teenager who was a security guard for the passengers left on board who wanted to be photographed. The body hauled away in Damascus was not Mughniyeh. [CNN]
Sharm el-Sheikh – Realizing events in the region are about to explode to unprecedented levels two Arab heads of state are conducting a meeting on the series of crises in the region at the Egyptian resort Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea. The resort has long been a venue for regional-international conferences-summits on regional affairs with the assumptions by the ministry officials and heads of state who have participated under the prestigious, arrogant, ignorant illusion events would never get out of their control, though that had been the situation for years, it has now just become more explosively obvious. The fools who attended these highly publicized, ceremonial, self-serving conferences-summits, where they heaped praise on each other, even prided themselves on never mentioning the most influential presence in the region, Tehran’s government since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. The inference being mentioning Iran was beneath them, even though Iran’s presence was immediately felt in 1981 with the assassination of Anwar al-Sadat, Egypt’s President since he had begun working with the West abandoning the Islamic-Arab agenda of supporting policies not only opposed to Israel but especially to the West’s long historical ability to manipulate governments in the region. [XINHUA]
Xinhua and the Egyptian official news agency MENA are now reporting a meeting taking place between Egypt President Hosni Mubarak, Sadat’s successor and Jordan King Abdullah II and this is obviously being conducted in an emergency crisis atmosphere targeting both heads of state. Tehran-Damascus have been heavily arming the Palestinian community for nearly thirty years and I suspect President Mubarak-King Abdullah assumed all those years the Palestinians would only be used to target Israel but that assumption was literally blown to pieces when Hamas exploded the Rafah Terminal on the Egyptian/Gaza border last month with the assistance of Egypt opposition party the Muslim Brotherhood and has been threatening to do the same again. Both heads of state are aware the opening of the border opens enormous holes in Egypt’s state security system protecting Mubarak’s administration. In the meantime Tehran has been instructing Hamas to threaten Jordan by massing thousands of Palestinians on the West Bank at crossing terminals leading to Jordan which contains more Palestinian refugees than Lebanon.
This unity of Palestinian militant communities is more of a threat to Cairo-Amman than to Jerusalem therefore it should finally dawn on both leaders they mean nothing to Tehran’s government, just two obsolete heads of state about to be swept away by a tide of Islamic reawakening. This should be especially unnerving to King Abdullah who has publicly prided himself on taking seriously the Palestinian issue but beyond rhetoric, posturing a popular cause, he has done very little. Palestinian refugees are no more welcome in Jordan than in Egypt. Tehran has been saying and preparing for years, peace is not the solution, therefore if you don’t support the war-Jihad you should be removed by leaders more representative of the popular will and you won’t find that will at cocktail -dinner parties, resorts on the diplomatic circuit or in seminars, but in the Muslim street, a heavily armed street that has embraced martyrdom and they make no secret of it. This is Islam coupled with nationalism and regional identity. It reminds me of the two Egyptian teenage girls interviewed the day after 9/11 as they laughed and praised the attack and they were by no means radical fundamentalists. Mubarak-Abdullah have obviously underestimated the seriousness of Iran’s regional policy and the political-military-social forces Tehran has been working with, arming and are now ready.
Gaza – “The rockets are in response to the al-Burji massacre. There is no security for the Zionists in their settlements and streets…the confrontation entered a new phase of conflict.” That was a statement from Abu Mujahed, spokesman for the Palestinian militant group the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), as they launched at least ten Qassam rockets Saturday at Israeli communities in the western Negev and at Ashkelon on the Mediterranean the site of Israel’s oil terminal. His reference to the “al-Burji massacre” was the death of one of the leaders of Islamic Jihad, his wife and children with forty people wounded by a mysterious explosion Friday in central Gaza. Israel has denied any involvement but Xinhua reports eyewitnesses saw F-16s in the area. It is not at all unusual for Palestinian militants to be killed in premature explosions as they were being prepared for attacks against Israel, but the death of this leader could have been part of Israel’s announced campaign to target the Palestinian militant leadership. Israel is not about to announce these air raids in advance and give the targets an advance warning. [XINHUA]
Israel is now conducting an air campaign in Gaza that is a mirror of the air war in Lebanon two years ago, hitting specific targets like bomb making factories, rocket assembly centers, enemy unit-troop concentrations and enemy leadership.