Violence and Political Rifts on the Rise in Lebanon

Flag-map_of_Lebanon.svgLebanon is a mess and has been for decades. David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy has written an excellent piece describing the current circumstances in the country which revolves around three groups all of which constitute essentially a third of the population: Christians, Shiite Muslims, and Sunni Muslims.

Yet given Hezbollah’s deteriorating regional stature, stubborn commitment to Assad, and dominant military posture in Lebanon, the militia may believe it no longer requires Aoun’s Christian cover, particularly if a sympathetic Kahwaji becomes the presidential frontrunner. Hezbollah also likely calculates that if Assad wins, its prospects will be buoyed, while if the rebels triumph, Aoun and Lebanon’s other Christians will be predisposed to pursue an alliance of minorities with the Shiites against the Sunnis.

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Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 at 8:01 AM  | Stand For Israel

The Fall of Hezbollah’s Leader

Poster of Hassan Nasrallah, current leader of Hezbollah (Photo: Flickr/ "delayed gratification")

Poster of Hassan Nasrallah, current leader of Hezbollah (Photo: Flickr/ “delayed gratification”)

Ronen Bergman writes that one silver lining to be found among the slaughter in Syria is the negative impact the conflict has had on Hezbollah’s leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. Having now outed himself as nothing more than an Iranian stooge and having spent precious Hezbollah resources on Syria, Nasrallah now finds himself in real trouble.

Nasrallah would certainly be happy if the past two years in his career could be erased, a period in which he either came to the rescue of his ally in Damascus or was dragged into the conflict. If, initially, Nasrallah believed it was possible to save Assad’s regime, he hasn’t been convinced of this for a while, according to intelligence sources. Nevertheless, he followed Iran’s orders in full and sent thousands of his best fighters to assist Syria’s Alawite regime.

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Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 at 8:03 AM  | Stand For Israel

Iran’s New, “Moderate” President

AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires (Photo: Flickr/Andy Sternberg)

AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires (Photo: Flickr/Andy Sternberg)

On July 18, 1994, a 29-year-old Hezbollah operative named Ibrahim Hussein Berro drove his Renault Trafic van loaded with more than 600 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and fuel oil into Buenos Aires’ Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA). Despite having “Israelite” in the name, AMIA is not affiliated with Israel; it’s a Jewish Community Center – a place where people come to work out or participate in cultural programs.

The blast practically leveled the building, killing 85 people and injuring more than 300. While Argentina botched the investigation (no one has ever been brought to trial for the crime), international arrest warrants were issued for six people: Imad Mugniyeh, Ali Fallahijan, Mohsen Rabbani, Ahmad Reza Asghari, Ahmad Vahidi, and Mohsen Rezaee. All but Mugniyeh are Iranian and are closely associated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. Mugniyeh, a Hezbollah terrorist leader, died in February of 2008 when the headrest of his car “mysteriously” exploded. Of note, Ahmad Vahidi – a wanted international terrorist – is currently Iran’s Defense Minister. It’s also worth noting that a street in Beirut, Lebanon, bears the name of Ibrahim Hussein Berro, and a plaque marking the street praises his “martyrdom” operation.

Reports indicate that Iran’s President-elect Hasan Rouhani is implicated in the planning of this vicious, cold-blooded assault on innocent civilians, including many women and children. Rouhani was, at the time, secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council. According to a 2006 indictment handed down by the Argentine Attorney General, Rouhani was present during planning and was part of the panel that green-lighted the attack.

As the media continue to tell Americans and others that the new President of Iran is a moderate, those of us who know better will need to make sure we tell the truth: Mr. Rouhani is, in fact, a callous and unrepentant terrorist.

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Friday, June 21st, 2013 at 6:40 AM  | Stand For Israel

Hezbollah’s Heinous Ways

Photo: Flickr/ MATEUS_27:24&25

“It’s a cancer that’s eating away at an already fragile region and exploits the religious civil war in heinous ways in order to help the criminal regime.”

This time, instead of the standard anti-Semitic Israel bashing, the Arab media is now associating Hezbollah with a deadly disease. You know Hezbollah – the Iranian-backed terror group that is now fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his current, and very bloody, civil war. (More on the Arab media’s comments here.)

Neither Assad’s regime nor Hezbollah operate with respect for human life, so the partnership seems fitting. Not only do they not mind killing the innocent, but both groups seem to pay no attention to their own members’ rising death toll.

The two-year war in Syria is not only being perpetuated by the terror group, but its also threatening to infect a somewhat stable Lebanon, whose government also wants Hezbollah out:

President Michel Sleiman implicitly called Tuesday on Hezbollah to end its military intervention in Syria by adhering to the government’s self-declared policy to disassociate Lebanon from the 2-year-old war in the neighboring country. During a meeting with MP Mohammad Raad, the head of Hezbollah’s bloc in Parliament, Sleiman also demanded the party’s assistance with the ongoing investigation into Sunday’s death of an anti-Hezbollah protester.

Hezbollah has exercised its poisonous influence in the Middle East for far too long. We’ve written about it here and here. We share President Sleiman’s hope, and pray for the day when Hezbollah not only vacates Syria, but the entire region.

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Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 at 3:47 PM  | Stand For Israel

Hezbollah’s Vietnam?

Poster of Hassan Nasrallah, current leader of Hezbollah (Photo: Flickr/ "delayed gratification")

Poster of Hassan Nasrallah, current leader of Hezbollah (Photo: Flickr/ “delayed gratification”)

Michael Young writes that Hezbollah, the terrorist group that also participates in Lebanon’s governing coalition, is now deeply entrenched in the fight to prop up Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. That’s not a surprise because Hezbollah needs Assad as a vassal of Iran to keep getting arms and funding from Tehran – but Hezbollah may have bitten off more than it can chew.

Hezbollah’s deepening involvement in the Syrian war is a high-risk venture. Many see this as a mistake by the party, and it may well be. Qusayr will be small change compared to Aleppo, where the rebels are well entrenched and benefit from supply lines leading to Turkey. In the larger regional rivalry between Iran and Turkey, the Turkish army and intelligence services have an interest in helping make things very difficult for Hezbollah and the Syrian army in northern Syria, particularly after the car-bomb attack in Reyhanli in May.

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Monday, June 10th, 2013 at 7:32 AM  | Stand For Israel

Hezbollah, Syria, and the Brezhnev Doctrine

Ali Hosseini Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran  (Photo: Wikipedia)

Ali Hosseini Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran (Photo: Wikipedia)

Elliott Abrams has a terrific piece comparing Hezbollah’s recently announced decision to ramp up its pro-Assad military activity in Syria with the Cold War-era Soviet “Brezhnev Doctrine” whereby the Soviet Union would not permit a country that had allied itself to the Warsaw Pact to extricate itself – all of this, of course, with Iran holding Hezbollah’s leash.

The key question now is whether we are willing to accept a Khamenei Doctrine, whereby no state that is part of the Iran/Hezbollah security system is permitted to leave it. Of course, the Brezhnev Doctrine was that of a global superpower armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons; the Khamenei Doctrine is that of a third world state, Iran, of only 75 million people and so far without a nuclear arsenal. And this is what makes the American   position to date so incomprehensible, and so dangerous. Nasrallah and Khamenei are taking a gamble based on their assessment of us–that we will do nothing even in the face of their sending expeditionary forces to Syria. So far they have been proved right.


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Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 at 10:42 AM  | Stand For Israel

The Word You’re Looking For Is “Terrorist”

Photo: Flickr/ helga tawil souri

Photo: Flickr/ helga tawil souri

The New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins was on MSNBC last night to discuss with host Chris Hayes the latest news on the conflict between Syria and Israel. While talking about Syrian weapons transfers to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, Mr. Filkins described them as an “armed group.”

Until 9/11, Hezbollah had killed more Americans than any other terror organization. They blew up our Embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, killing almost 300 Americans. They kidnapped and murdered our CIA Beirut station chief. They hijacked TWA Flight 847 in 1985 among other hijackings. They took Westerners hostage throughout the 1980s and held some for almost a decade. They blew up the AMIA Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires in 1994. Just last year, they blew up a bus full of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. They are a murderous terrorist organization with a global reach.

One wonders why so many Westerners find it so difficult to say so. We need to insist – in our media, in our churches, in our social circles – that we call these people what they are: terrorists. They’re not “militants.” They’re certainly not “freedom fighters” (Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon in 2000; how much “freedom” does Hezbollah want?). And they’re not an “armed group.”

The issues inherent in the multiple conflicts ongoing in the Middle East are difficult enough when we do call things by their right name. Using euphemisms only muddies an already complicated picture. And it confers moral worth on a whole bunch of people who don’t deserve, it while detracting from the one moral power in the region: Israel.


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Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 at 10:14 AM  | Stand For Israel

Breaking: Hostile Drone Intercepted off Israeli Coast


YNet reports:

It has been cleared for publication that Israeli F-16 fighter jets downed a drone off of Haifa’s coastline at around noon Thursday.

The unmanned aircraft apparently entered Israel’s airspace from the north and was heading south. Explosions were heard in the area.

Israel Navy vessels were searching for the wreckage. The drone was apparently sent by Hezbollah in Lebanon. The warplanes were scrambled from the Ramat David airbase. Reports of Israeli flyovers in Lebanon followed the drone’s interception.

There’s more info at the IDF Blog.


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Thursday, April 25th, 2013 at 9:38 AM  | Stand For Israel

Northern Lebanon Burning

Michael J. Totten, one of the most astute and well-informed observers of the situation in Lebanon, writes about the escalating sectarian violence in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli and the impact may have on the country as a whole – a country with a long history of being torn apart along sectarian fault lines.

It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Factions within the Lebanese army really are protecting both the Sunni and Alawite militias. Partly this is because the army is just as divided along sectarian lines as the country is, but mostly it’s because many of the army officers are still loyal to Assad and to Hezbollah. That still hasn’t changed since Syria’s occupation of Lebanon when the Assad family and their henchmen sabotaged the Lebanese army and bent it to their will.

Image: Wikipedia/ Sergey Kondrashov

Image: Wikipedia/ Sergey Kondrashov

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Thursday, March 28th, 2013 at 9:22 AM  | Stand For Israel

As Syria Bleeds, Lebanon Reels

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

There’s a lot not to like about this article in The New Yorker by Dexter Filkins – for example, the author seems to think that Lebanon is an “established democracy” – but it’s a fascinating, if a little too New Yorker-ish, look at what’s happening in Lebanon and why we should all be paying more attention.

If Lebanon’s President, Michel Suleiman, accepts Mikati’s resignation, as he seems likely to do, the country could be entering a protracted political crisis, without a functional government. That kind of power vacuum, in a country as fragile as Lebanon, could lead to sectarian violence. Mikati himself, in his televised statement on Friday, seemed to hint at just such a possibility. “The region is heading toward the unknown,’’ he said.

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Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 at 9:24 AM  | Stand For Israel