Crossfire War – Israel Expects Heavy Fighting to Begin Last Half of March

Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – GAZA – DAMASCUS WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Baghdad – El Arish – Nablus – Beirut – Damascus – Gaza/Jerusalem – Cairo – Amman – Paris – Rome – London – Washington; Lull in Gaza Operations No Ceasefire – Sensitive – Unofficial Negotiations in Cairo – Operations Could Resume at Any Moment – Syria Places Air – Naval Bases on State of Preparedness in Response to US Naval Warship Buildup – March 29 Arab League Summit in Damascus to Showcase Syria-Iran Military Cooperation – Iran – Bosnia Sign Defense Agreement

Night Watch: KNESSET – Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has denied there is any ceasefire agreement or that the Egyptian government has been authorized to speak for Israel in Cairo’s sensitive negotiations with Hamas. There is no negotiation and there is no agreement. I said a few days ago that if there would not be Qassam, Grad (Katyusha) rocket attacks on the citizens of the south, Israel would have no reason to return fire. The Jerusalem Post reports there have been no Israel Defense Force (IDF) ground or air operations in Gaza since Wednesday and virtually no rocket fire over the weekend. Officials in Olmert’s government have said the suspension is due to the sensitive nature of Cairo’s mediation effort. An Israeli official, Amos Gilead has just returned from Cairo but it remains to be seen if any concrete agreements on mutual security cooperation or a reduction in violence were reached. [JPOST]

Cairo – Debka reports Gilead, security adviser to Israel’s Defense Ministry, returned from his Sunday visit to Cairo empty handed and has said the current reduction in rocket fire is fragile. Hamas and Jihad Islami can resume the attacks at any time and will do so according to Tehran-Damascus’ timetable which probably means resumed attacks before the Arab Summit in Damascus March 29. At the same time Hezbollah is completing preparations for its revenge attack on Israel for supposedly assassinating Hezbollah official Imad Mughniyeh on Feb. 12. In reality it was a mock assassination staged by Iran to justify increasing the war in the region revolving around Jerusalem. The forty day Muslim period of mourning will be over March 22-23 and that is when Hezbollah is expected to launch attacks on Israel’s border and if possible inside Israel and that will be just one week before the Arab-Iran Summit which will feature for the first time an Iranian head of state, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is to be seated next to Syria President Bashar Assad. That is of course to reveal the military cooperation between the two governments, what Tehran calls an Islamic Axis, as the War Summit concentrates on the fighting in Gaza and perhaps also in south Lebanon if Hezbollah has launched its attacks by then. [DEBKA]

It is quite possible just before the summit Syria and Iran may be in the process of committing units to the fighting or at least making statements to that effect as they encourage each government at the summit to do the same. These latest developments confirm the recent assessment of Israel’s Annual Intelligence review that states fundamentally, as Washington’s and the West’s influence diminishes in the region, the vacuum is being filled by Islamic radicalism which has obviously been financed, armed and directed by Tehran since the Islamic Revolution in Iran led by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. All Tehran and its Islamic Axis have been doing is taking advantage of the West’s mistakes, even before 1979, which are legion, so many it would take volumes to discuss them. It is those mistakes that are Iran’s greatest weapon and have been chronicled on The most glaring mistake was the West enabling Khomeini to overthrow the Shah by providing him with the communication assistance he required during his four months in the Paris suburb, not realizing the impact of Khomeini’s principles that will be the pervasive spirit of the Summit-Islamic unity through war, especially against its main international rival the West.

Though Lebanon will not be on the agenda Damascus has responded to the increased build up of U. S. warships off the coast by placing its army and naval bases on a state of preparedness. There are two Russian warships at the Syrian bases and when they are withdrawn it will be the signal major fighting is about to break out. Most likely the U. S. ships will be primarily in support of the 13,000 European troops trapped in south Lebanon serving under the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) who will need evacuating as the come under the crossfire between Hezbollah-Lebanon-Syria/Israel. So despite the current lull Jerusalem has placed military units on all of its borders: Gaza-Sinai-West Bank-Lebanon-Syria on high alert. Intelligence analysts in Israel actually expect the last two weeks of March to see heavy fighting.

Tel Hashomer – Further dispelling reports of a ceasefire was Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak, There is no ceasefire, nor is one close. These reports keep coming through sources directly connected to Palestinian Authority President and Chairman of Fatah Mahmoud Abbas and I suspect Tehran is having their agents send those sources misleading information just to discredit Abbas and make him more of a laughing stock. It not only deceives Abbas but also governments who take him seriously as does the West. Ceasefire of course does not serve Tehran-Damascus’ purpose but they find it useful to create confusion in the mind of the enemy. Debka quoted Barak as stating, we will continue to fight until missile fire and terrorist attacks and arm smuggling into Gaza is cut down. We are committed to these three goals. Until these goals are attained we will take any military steps we think fit. But it is no one-off operation. The tough challenges are still to come. [DEBKA]

Sarajevo – Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, acting on instructions from the Interior Ministry, submitted a bill to Iran’s Majlis (Parliament) on security cooperation with Bosnia-Herzegovina. This is definitely to prepare for the next war in Southeast Europe and is an extension of the security agreement Tehran signed with Belgrade in January 2006. Iran does not care how the fighting resumes or even who wins as long as the war in the Balkans theatre can be used to not only keep what is left of NATO busy but to also silence Vienna and the United Nations agency based there that has been investigating Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Regular readers of know I have always stated the Balkans is Tehran’s avenue of invasion into Europe. [IRNA]

Tehran – There is another indication fighting is about to increase in the last half of this month with the statement by Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini Monday that the Iranian nation will give a crushing response to U. S. President George W. Bush during the Parlimentarian elections in Iran Friday March 14. I don’t think he means just a large voter turnout. There could be increased fighting in Iraq. [IRNA]

Belgrade – End of government, elections May 11 that was the headline yesterday in the Serbian paper Blic the day after Serbia Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica announced he had dissolved the government due to its lack of unity over Kosovo. B92 reports elections are scheduled for May 11 and this time the Serbian Radical Party, led by Tomislav Nikolic, has an improved chance of winning since the Presidential election in February was before Kosovo’s declaration and a lot of Serbian voters hoped the European Union (EU) would not betray Serbia in recognizing Kosovo’s independence. That is exactly what most EU governments have done and the Radicals were barely defeated last month. Reports of this coming have circulated for quite some time and more than a week ago an analyst, speaking through Reuters, commented he believed Kostunica would form a new coalition with the Radical Party which advocates not only to maintain Serbia’s control over Kosovo but to increase its relations with Russia as opposed to the EU and U. S. [B92]

The Radicals are extreme nationalists, the most popular single party in the country and are the ones most likely willing to risk war. This dissolvement of the government and the new coalition were probably planned during the recent five hour visit by Russia’s new President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. They were accompanied by Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu.

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.