Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – BEIRUT – DAMASCUS WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Baghdad – El Arish – Ramallah – Gaza – Beirut – Damascus/Jerusalem – Paris – Rome – Cairo – Amman – London – Washington; “War With Israel Possible” – Syria FM Moallem – Islamic Jihad Has New Longer Range Qassam Rocket – 12 Miles – Standoff in Kosovska Mitrovica Continues
Night Watch: DAMASCUS – In an interview with the Kuwait newspaper Al Anba Syria Foreign Minister Walid Moallem stated war with Israel is possible. “Everything is possible, every rational person should prepare for every eventuality in the wake of crazy policies advocated by the US, whose goals are certainly not achieving stability and security in the region.” Moallem is of course aware of Jerusalem’s warning to Damascus last month saying when Hezbollah launches its missiles Israel will also strike back by attacking Syria one of Hezbollah’s major state supporters. Damascus has been taking advantage of the “crazy policies” of the lost alliance of London-Washington for five years by supporting the attacks against the occupational forces in Iraq as Syria increases its military relations with Iran. With the occupation of Iraq still under fire London-Washington have not been discussing regime change in Syria for more than two years and despite Syrian troops being forced to withdraw from Lebanon, three years ago, Damascus remains a major presence in Lebanon’s government through Hezbollah. [JPOST]
Moallem must realize, and he is too much of a professional diplomat to say this publicly, that Washington’s policies have helped Syria not to mention Iran, as the occupation has increased the region’s hatred of the West’s historical effort to control Islamic countries and their resources. He must also believe, as does President Bashar Assad, Hezbollah won a great victory against Israel two years ago; therefore it will be easy to re-take the Golan Heights. Nothing could be further from the truth since Jerusalem’s sense of restraint no longer exists. Concerning Hezbollah Moallem stated, “Hezbollah is not a proxy of Syria but a friend. Hezbollah is a part of Lebanon and the difficulties Lebanon faces.” Moallem’s government believes it is prepared to defeat the difficulties of Israel and especially the West with the 13,000 European units in Lebanon’s south serving with UNIFIL.
He is aware the current crisis has been set off by the apparent assassination of Hezbollah official Imad Mughniyeh which has been blamed on Israel. During the interview Moallem said Israel was most likely responsible since they had so much to gain by it but at the same time he unwittingly revealed it was not Mughniyeh who was killed. “Crimes such as this take place in many capital cities around the world and I cannot classify it as a security breach. Furthermore, Mughniyeh habitually entered Damascus under aliases and he lived in a community in which the neighbors believed he worked as a driver. He did not have bodyguards and did not take security precautions.” A senior member of Hezbollah would never act and live like that; he would always take security precautions. Nor was it a security breach since Damascus worked with Tehran to arrange the mock assassination. Next week ends the Muslim forty day period of mourning and that is probably when Damascus makes its investigation findings public which will be used to justify Hezbollah’s revenge attacks.
Gaza – The Jerusalem Post/Israel Radio report Islamic Jihad Sunday claimed to have a new rocket with a range of 12-13 miles (22 km) capable of hitting just south of Ashkelon on the Mediterranean. Ashkelon contains some of Israel’s most important installations including the nation’s largest oil terminal. Islamic Jihad resumed their rocket fire ever since Israel killed some of their senior members last week in the West Bank. In response, for the first time since March 6, the Israel Air Force (IAF) carried out two air strikes Saturday on Islamic Jihad members as they were preparing to fire. One air raid killed three while the other wounded three. [JPOST]
Kosovska Mitrovica – Serbian judicial workers remain the court building in Kosovska Mitrovica which they stormed into Friday. B92 reports the situation is still “calm” but the positions remain far apart with no sign of any negotiated solution as the workers demand a return to their jobs they were fired from in 1999 after NATO took over Kosovo. Speaking for the demonstrators, who took turns through the night guarding corridors, Milan Bigovic stated, “We held a joint meeting of all employees who are in the building after some responsible persons from the UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) demanded that we urgently and without delay leave the premises and that the talks can continue under those conditions. I repeat once again for the benefit of all those who either can’t or won’t hear that we have nothing against the UNMIK court or Resolution 1244, or UNMIK police. All we want is for the court to be provided with normal working conditions. We want to say that we do not recognize an Albanian state and that this is in fact a struggle for survival.” [B92]
Joachim Reucker, the German diplomat who heads the UNMIK, has said the demonstrators crossed a “red line” when they forced their way into the building but local Serb leaders say if violence breaks out it will cause chaos throughout the city which reflects the division of Kosovo with the northern part of the city Serbian and the southern part Albanian. I suspect the demonstrators are the vanguard of Belgrade’s Action Plan, the details of which have been kept secret, but probably involves violence against Serbian groups in Kosovo who refuse to recognize the Albanian authority in Pristina. An unexploded grenade was found at the beginning of the crisis which means the demonstrators could be prepared for the worse in fact expect it.
Pristina – And that is precisely why Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has responded so harshly to this the most serious challenge to his government since he declared independence last month and is demanding UNMIK “establish control over the building as soon as possible. Under no circumstances, not in a single instance, in no way will we allow space for the creation of any hooligan group, whatever their nationality, to threaten public order and peace.” As of this writing there are no reports of any demand the demonstrators leaved the building at a certain time. [B92]