Crossfire War – Rapid Fire News=Tehran – Beirut – DAMASCUS WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Lebanon Army Revokes Government Decision – Hezbollah Fighters Withdraw from Beirut as Army Takes Over Capital – Elements of Syrian Division on Lebanon Border – Hezbollah Units Advance in Lebanon South – India Accuses Pakistan of Providing Cover Fire for Infiltration Attempt – Sudanese Rebels Infiltrate Khartoum
Night Watch: BEIRUT – Calm was restored to the streets of Beirut after the Lebanon Army revoked the two government decisions against Hezbollah that began the fighting on Wednesday. One was the government decision that declared Hezbollah’s military-telecommunications network illegal and the other was the removal of an officer close to Hezbollah from his security position at Beirut International Airport, Brigadier General Wafiq Shqeir. The Jerusalem Post/AP are reporting Hezbollah TV announced Saturday its fighters are being withdrawn from the capital as the army takes over. This comes right after Lebanon’s nominal Prime Minister Fuad Saniora made a televised anti-Hezbollah statement with absolutely no power to enforce his demands that Hezbollah disarm. There are reports Washington has been discussing the situation with other governments, none were mentioned specifically but I suspect France is one since they are the oldest European presence in the country and perhaps Washington has also been in consultation with Israel. [JPOST]
Tyre -They are now confronting a situation where Lebanon’s army is working closely with Hezbollah as pro-government militias are being defeated in other parts of the country. Debka reports units of Hezbollah have advanced in two strategic areas in the south of the country. In Sidon, Lebanon’s second largest city, which provides Hezbollah with a continuous coastal strip all the way to Tyre just 20 miles from Israel’s border and the northern slopes of Mt. Hermon where the borders of Lebanon-Syria-Israel meet. Damascus already had in place the 10th and 14th armored divisions and now there are vanguard units of the 10th just across Lebanon’s border. These two divisions could link up with Hezbollah’s 45,000 troops along the Litani River not only to confront Israel but also the 13,000 European units in the area. This week’s fighting has enabled Hezbollah to expand its base of operations in the south, even more than in 2006, and has placed Lebanon’s army in control of the capital and the army has excellent relations with Damascus. In the meantime the two main pro-government militia leaders, Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt are under army protection, virtual house arrest. [DEBKA]
Gaza – As Hezbollah positions itself to attack both Israel and the European units Hamas has announced it has begun to manufacture and use a more accurate Qassam rocket. Xinhua reports a Hamas commander stated, “Recently the Ezz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades have developed its performance and rockets. The missiles are more accurate and can cause more pain to the enemy.” Hamas can only do so with direct technological assistance and training from Tehran which now has two powerful units surrounding Israel, south with Hamas and Hezbollah to the north. Hamas also announced it uses “heavy mortars” when shelling Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip. [XINHUA]
Kibbutz Kfar Aza – There are some indications the long awaited offensive by the Israel Defense Force (IDF) into the Gaza Strip could finally take place this month as at least 20 more rockets hit the western Negev and the port city of Ashkelon to the north. The Jerusalem Post is reporting Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak toured the frontline communities including Kibbutz Kfar Aza and met the heads of regional councils like Sha’ar Hanegev. Barak stated over Army Radio, “The residents should not be expected to be in the line of fire and the citizens can’t be the ones to give the answer. This situation will not continue for long.” The main obstacle to the IDF offensive, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, is now in the process of being removed due to the serious corruption investigations around him. [JPOST]
Omdurman – Xinhua reports for the first time, after five years of fighting, Sudanese rebel groups have penetrated into the capital Khartoum. Heavy explosions and gunfire was heard in Omdurman the northern gate of the capital as government soldiers and police blocked the bridges across the Nile that leads into the city. A Sudanese government spokesman stated as the Interior Ministry imposed a curfew; Sudanese troops “are confronting infiltrators of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in northern Omdurman.” The JEM is the most powerful of the two dozen rebel movements concentrated in the western region of Darfur that have been fighting the government since February 2003. The JEM are led by Khalil Ibrahim and Sudan’s government states his attack is a “publicity stunt.” [XINHUA]
Samba sector – The most serious violence this year has just taken place in Jammu – Kashmir as the Gulf-Times/Agencies report India’s Border Security Force (BSF) has accused Pakistani Rangers of providing cover fire for a unit of 12 Islamic infiltrators Thursday at 10:40 pm. A fifteen minute flag meeting was then held between the two sides in the Suchetgarh sector in which the Pakistani officers denied any involvement. The BSF Deputy Inspector General J B Sangwan stated the infiltration attempt took place in the Samba sector along the 110 mile (187 km) India/Pakistan border. “When the infiltrators were challenged, they opened fire. There was backup fire as well. We don’t know if that was from the group of infiltrators or Pakistani Rangers. We retaliated and it lasted for 15-20 minutes.” He mentioned more than 1,000 rounds were fired from across the border with Pakistan and at least 16 grenades were hurled at the BSF post as the infiltrators retreated back into Pakistan. [GULFTIMES]
This is the most serious news that can come out of South Asia. Two of the three Pakistan/India wars, 1947-48 and 1965 have begun with infiltration of Islamic fighters from Pakistan’s part of Kashmir. May is one of the months that is most likely to experience infiltration since the snows of Kashmir have melted; the other month is September which marks the end of the monsoon. A fourth war was nearly begun in May 1999 when Pakistan conducted an offensive Kargil probe that was planned by then General Pervez Musharraf now Pakistan’s President. In February 2007 Musharraf presented Tehran with his offensive “Action Plan” and infiltration by Islamic militants from “launching pads” inside Pakistan’s part of Kashmir will be the opening move. There are an estimated 2,500-3,000 fighters waiting for such orders.
Beijing has placed itself in a position to use the next war to attempt to seize control of India’s northeast state of Arunachal Pradesh an area China invaded in October 1962. Beijing still claims the area and conducted joint maneuvers with Islamabad in December 2006. India has been actively increasing its defenses in the area and has said there will be no repeat of 1962.