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Israel strikes Syria to keep the USA in the Levant

By Elijah J. Magnier – 19/05/2020

Following its defeat in the second war on Lebanon, Israel discovered that its only way to suppress Hezbollah would be to close the supply line between Lebanon and Syria. That could only be achieved by removing President Bashar al-Assad from power, disrupting the “Axis of the Resistance” that extends from Tehran to Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Gaza. But Israel and the US, supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Emirates, Turkey, Europe and many other countries all failed to achieve their goal of making Syria a failed state. President Assad called upon his allies whose own national security was in jeopardy. If Syria were to fall, jihadists of al-Qaeda and the “Islamic State” would be fighting in the streets of Beirut, Baghdad and Tehran. The jihadists would also be powerful enough to remove Russia from its Syrian naval base and to export the war beyond the Levant’s borders. So, Israel and the US failed to destroy Syria and to corner Hezbollah. On the contrary, Hezbollah has become stronger than ever. The Resistance has reaped the harvest of its victory. It has become the decision-maker with key institutions in Lebanon.

Israel sought to destroy Hezbollah because it is an obstacle to Israel’s expansionist plans in Lebanon, namely to steal Lebanon’s water and some of its territories, to force a peace deal of unconditional surrender, to break Lebanon’s alliance with Iran and deprive Tehran of its strongest ally in the Middle East. For the last forty years, since the victory of the “Islamic Republic” in 1979 led by Imam Ruhollah Khomeini which unseated the US proxy ruler, the Shah of Iran, Washington has imposed sanctions, because Iran has refused to submit to US power and because it supports its allies in the Middle East, mainly Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, to stand against Israel.

In 2006, the US was involved in the planning of Israel’s war on Lebanon. At the 2006 G8 Summit, President George W. Bush described the relationship between Hezbollah, Iran and Syria as one of the root causes of “instability”: “The World must deal with Hezbollah, with Syria, and continue to work to isolate Iran.” (Roshandel J. & Lean C.N. (2011) Iran, Israel and the United States, ABC-CLIO, CA, p. 109).

US Secretary Condoleezza Rice refused to mediate a ceasefire unless “the conditions are conducive”, thinking Israel would win the war. Hezbollah was not only left on its own to face the US and Israel, but Lebanese US-Saudi proxies (Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Druse leader Walid Jumblat) supported the position of the US and Israel, and argued that there was “no point in a ceasefire.” (Wilkins H. (2013). The Making Of Lebanese Foreign Policy: understanding the 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War, Routledge, Introduction).

When Israel failed to achieve its objectives, the US agreed to mediate an end to the war. Negotiations concentrated on ceasing all hostilities (not a ceasefire) between the two countries. Tel Aviv and Washington failed to obtain the deployment of United Nations Forces in Lebanon, UNIFIL, on the borders with Syria. The US sought to accommodate Israel in its attempt to gain by negotiation what it failed to achieve using its huge war machine in 33 days of the war in 2006. “Israel’s objective was never realistic”, said Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

When its attempt to control the Lebanese-Syrian borders failed after its defeat in the 2006 war, Israel had one remaining option with which to counter Hezbollah: close the road via Damascus and find a way to curb Hezbollah’s supply line. This required war on Syria.

Since confronting Hezbollah face-face was no longer an option, Syria became the next target in the campaign to isolate Iran, as President Bush declared. The motives behind the war in Syria have been erroneously described by many researchers and analysts around the globe, who have depicted the war as the outcome of an “Arab Spring” against a dictatorial regime. Yet Saudi Arabia, Bahrein and other Gulf countries have been ruled by dictatorships and the same family members for decades and indeed are considered by the west as its closest- oil-rich- partners!

Actually, the war on Syria started just after the al-Qaeda 9/11 attack on the US. Four-star US general Wesley Clark disclosed Washington’s plan as he learned of it in the days after 9/11: “occupy Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finish with Iran.” Just a few months after the US invasion of Iraq, US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited President Bashar al-Assad and warned him that the US would invade Syria if he refused to interrupt his support for the anti-Israel organisations, Hezbollah and the Palestinian groups: the Syrian president would share the same fate as the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was far from being a piece of cake. The US occupation generated new resistance among both Sunni and the Shia. This encouraged President Assad to rebuff the US threat, unaware of what the future held for Syria. Dozens of states, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, the Emirates, Europe and the US all supported a regime change operation via Takfiri proxies. But the consequences of destabilising Syria gave a unique opportunity for al-Qaeda to blossom in Syria and a more lethal group emerged, the “Islamic State” ISIS. President Assad called upon his few allies, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah, to stand against the massive coalition gathered to create this failed state in Syria. The Syrian war which ensued offered unprecedented experience to the Syrian army, gave birth to a new Syrian resistance and offered unique warfare knowledge to Hezbollah, with a base for Iran that Tehran could never before have dreamed of having in the Levant.

Hezbollah had forced unconditional Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in the year 2000 and challenged all those Israeli-US plans for a “new Middle East” after the second Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006. And the long nine years of war in Syria forced Hezbollah to refine its tactics and armaments and provided Hezbollah with an unprecedented victory. Just as Israel had boosted the creation of Hezbollah, it taught this quasi-state actor all manner of skills and forced it to acquire more training and weapons to repel wars and dismantle the enemy’s objectives. Israel’s former Chief of Staff and Prime Ministerial candidate Benny Gantz believed that Hezbollah had become one of the strongest irregular-organised armies in the Middle East, capable of imposing its rules of engagement and its “balance of deterrence” on the strongest classical army in the Middle East.

“Show me four or five states with more firepower than Hezbollah: they are the US, China, Russia, Israel, France, & the UK,” Gantz said when speaking at the 2014 Herzliya Conference.

That was Israel’s assessment in 2014. Six years later, last February, Israel’s minister of defence Naftali Bennet said: “For every convoy you hit, you miss five convoys and slowly Hezbollah accumulates the critical mass of rockets [missiles] that threaten us.”

Hezbollah has become stronger than many armies in the Middle East. Hezbollah is no longer the organisation that clashes with the Israelis on a hill or site or ambushes a patrol behind an alley. Rather, in Syria and Iraq, it has successfully experienced different warfare scenarios. It has acquired many advanced weapons and became a strategic threat to Israel if it ever contemplated waging outright war on Lebanon and Syria.

Israel set as its goal bringing down Assad in Syria and separating Syria from the “Axis of Resistance.” Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon said that “Israel prefers ISIS on its borders over Assad.” But Israel, America, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates have lost the war. Israel has now chosen to maintain the conflict because it fears that America would let go. This is why Israel is hitting hundreds of targets in Syria, – most of the time without no strategic value whatsoever.

Sources in the “Axis of Resistance” in Syria say that:

“Israel targeted the Iranian HQ at Damascus airport (a building with green glass where Israel destroyed two floors). The following day, Iran restored it and it is back in operation. Israel has repeatedly targeted warehouses with Iranian weapons but also an abandoned training centre in the Kiswa area that has been empty for years. Their aim is to signal to the US that Israel is threatened and that the departure of the US forces would constitute a threat to Israel’s national security. It is indeed too late for Israeli jets to make any difference to Syria’s capabilities. Iran is not exporting weapons but manufacturing them. If it took Israel 9 years and 300 bombing raids to destroy Iranian warehouses in Syria, it took Iran only one year to refill and equip the Syrian army with much more sophisticated precision missiles – and all strategic missiles are in underground warehouses.”

Iran has only a few hundred advisers and officers in Syria, but it leads some tens of thousands of allies from Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and auxiliary Syrian forces that resemble irregular-organised military formations.

In Syria, Hezbollah was able to operate in an area ten times the size of Lebanon, which gave it a unique experience any army in the world would have wished to have. It was also subjected to attacks by a NATO member, Turkey, which used armed drones on the battlefield. That provided Hezbollah with a wealth of experience and taught them lessons that have become integrated into curricula at military schools and colleges in Iran with Hezbollah and their allies.

President Assad does not say that it is time for his allies (especially Hezbollah) to leave Syria. Rather, he says – according to this source – that “Syria has a debt to Hezbollah. Wherever Hezbollah wants to be, it will be also Syria’s wishes.” America and Israel created an unbreakable alliance between Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah has started to harvest its gains. Hezbollah was able to impose the name of the President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, despite repeated opposition from Saudi Arabia and the US, the losers in the Syrian war. Lebanon remained without a president for several months until General Aoun assumed the presidency.

Hezbollah rejected multiple offers from different countries by giving the Presidency of the Parliament to anyone other than President Nabih Berri, leader of the Amal movement, who has been on this throne for decades. Hezbollah holds the real power – though not all of it – in Lebanon to call for the appointment of the President of the Republic and the Speaker of the Parliament.

As for the premiership, it cannot be assumed without Hezbollah’s approval of the candidate. Hezbollah has sufficient political weight within the House of Representatives and the Presidency of the Republic to nominate or accept the nomination or direct the appointing of a prime minister. Former prime minister Saad Hariri is making sure his daily friendly contacts with Hezbollah are maintained because he would very much like to return to power. Hariri knows that the door to the premiership goes through one gate: Hezbollah.

This does not mean that Hezbollah wants to take control of Lebanon as a whole. Hezbollah leaders are aware that the Druse leader Kamal Jumblatt, Sunni leader Rafic Hariri, the Maronite Christian leader Bashir Gemayel and the Palestinians have all failed in controlling Lebanon and seizing the country. Hezbollah does not want to succumb to the same mistakes and doesn’t wish to control all of Lebanon. This means that the counter influence of other countries exists and is well-rooted in Lebanon. For example, the US ambassador in Beirut is threatening the Lebanese government with a warning not to remove the Central Bank Governor Riad Salama. Also, the US removed a Lebanese-Israeli agent, Amer Al-Fakhouri, via a plane which landed him at the US embassy without taking into consideration Lebanese sovereignty. The US supports the Lebanese army and internal security forces to maintain its dominance over certain key figures.

Syria has given the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, powers in Lebanon that he would not have obtained without the intervention of Israel and the allies in Syria. Hezbollah has managed to preserve its military pipeline via Syria by defeating the Takfiris (al-Qaeda and ISIS) and has prevented them from establishing an “Islamic emirate” in Lebanon and Syria.

Hezbollah’s victory comes at a price: thousands of martyrs and thousands of wounded. However, the resulting harvest is so abundant and strategic that the Lebanese Shiites now enjoy more power in Lebanon and Bilad al-Sham than they have since the year 661 when the fourth caliphate’s Imam Ali bin Abi Talib was killed.

Proofread by:  C.G.B. and Maurice Brasher

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May 20, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Israel Instructed Its Worst Nightmare in the Art of War

A woman mocks an Israeli tank left behind when withdrawing from south of Lebanon in the year 2000, using it as a hanger to dry cloths. Credit: Younes Zaatari
By Elijah J. Magnier | American Herld Tribune | May 17, 2020

We were Hezbollah trainers. It is an organization that learns quickly. The Hezbollah we met at the beginning (1982) is different from the one we left behind in 2000”. This is what the former Chief of Staff and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gabi Ashkenazi, said twenty years after the Israeli unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon.

For the first time we met a non-conventional army, but also an ideological organization with deep faith: and this faith triumphed over us. We were more powerful, more technologically advanced and better armed but not possessing the fighting spirit …They were stronger than us”. This is what Brigadier General Effi Eitam, Commander of the 91st Division in counter-guerrilla operation in south Lebanon said.

Alon Ben-David, senior defense correspondent for Israel’s Channel 13, specialized in defense and military issues, said: “Hezbollah stood up and defeated the powerful Israeli Army”.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the architect of the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, said: “The withdrawal didn’t go as planned. The deterrence of Hezbollah and its capability increased greatly. We withdrew from a nightmare”. Barak meant he had planned to leave behind him a buffer zone under the control of his Israeli proxies led by the “South Lebanon Army” (SLA) commander Antoine Lahad. However, his plans were dismantled and the resistance forced Lahad’s men to run towards the borders, freeing the occupied buffer zone. As they left Lebanon, the Israeli soldiers said: “Thank God we are leaving: no one in Israel wants to return”.

In 1982, Israel believed the time had come to invade Lebanon and force it to sign a peace agreement after eliminating the various Palestinian organizations. These groups had deviated from the Palestinian compass and had become embroiled in sectarian conflict with the Lebanese Phalange, believing that “the road to Jerusalem passed through Jounieh” (the Maronite stronghold on Mt. Lebanon, northwest of Beirut, a slogan used by Abu Iyad). Israel intended Lebanon to become the domicile of its Palestinian conflict. It failed to realize that in so doing it was letting the Shiite genie out of the bottle. Signs of this genie began to appear after the arrival of Sayyed Musa al-Sadr in Lebanon and the return of students of Sayyed Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr from Najaf to their home country and residency in the Lebanese Bekaa. Also, the victory of Imam Khomeini and the “Islamic revolution” in Iran in 1979 was not taken into consideration by Israel, and the potential consequences for the Lebanese Shia were overlooked.

The 1982 Israeli invasion triggered the emergence of the “Islamic resistance in Lebanon”, which later became known as “Hezbollah”, and it forced Israel to leave Lebanon unconditionally in 2000. This made Lebanon the first country to humiliate the Israeli army. Following their victory over the Arabs in 1949, 1956, 1967 and 1973, Israeli officials had come to believe they could occupy any Arab country “with a brass band”.

Israeli soldiers exited through the “Fatima Gate” (on the Lebanese border, also known as Good Fence, HaGader HaTova) under the watchful eyes of Suzanne Goldenberg on the other side of the border. She wrote:

After two decades and the loss of more than 1000 men, the chaotic Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon leaves its northern flank dangerously exposed, with Hezbollah guerrillas sitting directly on its border. The scale of the Israeli fiasco was beginning to unfold… After the Israelis pulled out of Bint Jubayl in the middle of the night, their SLA allies, already in a state of collapse in the center of the strip, simply gave up. Branded collaborators, they and their families headed for exile. Behind them, they left tanks and other heavy equipment donated by their patrons. Shlomo Hayun, an Israeli farmer who lives on Shaar Yeshuv farm, said of the withdrawal, “This was the first time I have been ashamed to be Israeli. It was chaotic and disorganized.”

What did Israel and its allies in the Middle East achieve?

In 1978, Israel occupied a part of southern Lebanon and in 1982, for the first time, it occupied an Arab capital, Beirut. During its presence as an occupation force, Israel was responsible for several massacres amounting to war crimes. In 1992, Israel thought that it could strike a death blow to Hezbollah by assassinating its leader, Sayyed Abbas Al-Mousawi. He was replaced by his student, the charismatic leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Nasrallah has proved to be more truthful than the Israeli leaders, and thus capable of affecting the Israeli public through his speeches, as Israeli colonel Ronen, chief Intelligence officer for the Central Command of Israel Defence Forces, has said.

The new Hezbollah leader showed his potential for standing up to and confronting Israel through TV appearances. He mastered the psychological aspects of warfare, just as he mastered the art of guerrilla war. He leads a non-conventional but organized army of militants “stronger than several armies in the Middle East,” according to Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot, the former Israeli Chief of Staff.

The Israeli doctrine relies on the principle of pre-emptively striking what is considered as a potential threat, in order to extinguish it in its cradle. Israel first annexed Jerusalem by declaring it in 1980 an integral part of the so-called “capital of the state of Israel”. In June 1981, it attacked and destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor that France had helped build. In 2007, Israel struck a building in Deir Ezzor, Syria, before it was completed, claiming that the government had been building a nuclear reactor.

6 years after its withdrawal, Israel declared war on Lebanon in 2006, with the aim of eradicating Hezbollah from the south and destroying its military capacity. Avi Kober, a member of the department of political studies at Bar Ilan University and researcher at the Israeli BESA center said:

“The war was conducted under unprecedented and favorable conditions the like which Israel has never enjoyed – internal consensus, broad international support (including tacit support on the part of moderate Arab States), and a sense of having almost unlimited time to achieve the war objectives. The IDF’s performance during this war was unsatisfactory, reflecting flawed military conceptions and poor professionalism and generalship. Not only the IDF fail in achieving battlefield decisions against Hezbollah, that is, denying the enemy’s ability to carry on the fight, despite some tactical achievements, throughout the war, it played into Hizballah’s hands.”

Israel withdrew from the battle without achieving its goals: it was surprised by Hezbollah’s military equipment and fighting capabilities. Hezbollah had managed to hide its advanced weapons from the eyes of Israeli intelligence and its allies, who are present in every country including Lebanon. The result was 121 Israeli soldiers killed, 2,000 wounded, and the pride of the Israeli army and industry destroyed in the Merkava Cemetery in southern Lebanon where the Israeli advance into Wadi al-Hujeir was thwarted.

Hezbollah hit the most advanced class Israeli destroyer, the INS Spear saar-5, opposite the Lebanese coast. In the last 72 hours of the war, Israel fired 2.7 million bomblets, or cluster bombs, to cause long-term pain for Lebanon’s population, either through impeding their return or disrupting cultivation and harvest once they did return. “An unjustified degree of vindictiveness and an effort to punish the population as a whole”, said the report of the UN commission of inquiry conducted in November 2006 (Arkin M. W. (2007), Divining Victory: Airpower in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, Air University Press, Alabama, pp 67-71).

The battle ended, Israel withdrew again, closed the doors behind its army, raised a fence on the Lebanese borders, and installed electronic devices and cameras to prevent any possible Hezbollah crossing into Palestine.

When Israel’s chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi said “Israel instructed Hezbollah in the art of war”, he was right. Hezbollah has learned from the wars that Israel has waged over the years. In every war, Hezbollah saw the necessity of developing its weapons and training to match and overcome the Israeli army (which is outnumbered) and which enjoys the tacit support of Middle Eastern regimes and the most powerful western countries. Hezbollah developed its special forces’ training and armed itself with precision missiles to impose new rules of engagement, posing a real threat to the continuity of the permanent Israeli violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty.

Today, Hezbollah has sophisticated weapons, including the armed drones that it used in Syria in its war against the Takfirists, and precision missiles that can reach every region, city and airport in Israel. It has anti-ship missiles to neutralize the Israeli navy in any future attack or war on Lebanon and to hit any harbor or oil platform. It is also equipped with missiles that prevent helicopters from being involved in any future battle. The balance of deterrence has been achieved. Hezbollah can take Israel back to the Stone Age just as easily as Israel envisages returning Lebanon to the Stone Age.

Hezbollah is Israel’s worst nightmare, and it was largely created by the Israeli attempt to overthrow the regime in Lebanon, occupy Lebanon, and impose an agreement that Israel could then mold to its own liking. But the tables were turned: a very small force emerged in Lebanon to become a regional power whose powerful support was then extended to the neighboring countries of Syria and Iraq. The harvest journey has begun.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

The goal of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon was to turn Jordan into Palestine, says Ehud Barack

MEMO | May 4, 2020

The goal of the First Lebanon War was to bring down the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and turn the country into Palestine, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has said in a shocking admission about the true intention of the Zionist state.

Israelis were told that the objective of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon was to remove forces belonging to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and end the threat posed by the resistance group to its northern communities. Barack admitted that this was untrue, explaining that the real goal was to use the “pretext of Palestinian terror” to force the PLO back to Jordan where they would take over government from the Hashemite Kingdom.

“The idea was to use the pretext of Palestinian terror, which they (the PLO) were providing us with, to attack them in south Lebanon and turn that into a leverage [Israel can use] and join the Christian (forces) in Beirut,” Barak said in an interview with Maariv, the sister publication of the Jerusalem Post.

“The assumption was that they (the PLO) will have to return to Jordan and unlike what happened in 1970 (when the late King Hussein ordered the forcible expulsion of the PLO) this time they will be ready and take over the government.”

“And in that way Zion is redeemed,” Barak continued. “In Jordan a Palestinian state will be created and the conflict could be resolved.”

Barack suggested that the PLO would have learnt the lessons of Black September – the 1970  conflict with Jordan which led to the expulsion of Palestinians to Lebanon – and stand a better chance of deposing the late King Hussein.

Barack’s admission would suggest that Israel did not achieve any of its war objectives. A second stated goal was to aid Lebanese Christians in order to gain a regional ally. A Christian-dominated Lebanon was seen as a potential ally, supportive of the Jewish state as two minority-countries in the region.

Not only was this hope dashed when the Christian President of Lebanon Bachir Gemayel was assassinated in September 1982, Israel’s image across the world took a tumble for enabling hundreds of Phalangist fighters – Israel’s paramilitary ally in Lebanon – to carry out a massacre in Sabra and Shatila refugee camp.

May 4, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Germany’s Move to Ban Hezbollah May ‘Clearly Be Seen as an Act Against Lebanon’

By Oleg Burunov – Sputnik – 30.04.2020

Germany’s decision to ban Hezbollah can be perceived, among other things, as an act against Lebanon, Middle East expert and Professor Emeritus Werner Ruf from the University of Kassel said on Thursday.

Also, “this is, to my mind, an example of obedience to Israel and the United States because there is no reason for the ban. On the other hand, it should be noted that Germany maintains normal diplomatic relations with Lebanon, where Hezbollah is represented in the government. So what’s the point [of banning the group]?” Ruf, who is also a lecturer at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, pointed out.

He added that even though one should not rule out that “donations are sent to certain associations or mosques, which are mainly controlled by Hezbollah”, there is no reason to believe that the organisation poses a security threat to Germany.

On the other hand, Ruf went on to say, the ban “will clearly be seen as an act against Lebanon”, as Hezbollah is represented in the Lebanese government and has great authority – something which should not be overlooked.

According to the expert, Hezbollah was “the only military force that forced Israel to leave Lebanon following the last war [between Beirut and Tel Aviv]”.

“These are completely different perspectives”, he said, adding that when it comes to anyone feeling a threat, “then it is most likely Lebanon [that] feels the menace coming from Israel than vice versa”.

At the same time, Ruf referred to Tel Aviv’s “military superiority”, arguing that Hezbollah is not going to target Israel, given that the Jewish state “has already shown in the last war that it is ready to use almost all types of weapons to destroy Lebanese infrastructure”.

“I do not think that in this situation, Hezbollah would be interested in a new military scenario with Israel”, the expert concluded.

His remarks came after German Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter tweeted earlier in the day that Berlin had banned all Hezbollah activities on the country’s territory.

According to him, security forces are currently involved in staging raids against suspected Hezbollah members in a number of German states.
Jewish Group Praises Germany’s ‘Much-Anticipated Move’

American Jewish Committee head David Harris hailed the move as a “welcome, much-anticipated, and significant German decision”, expressing hope that “other European nations will take a close look” at the move and “reach the same conclusion about the true nature of Hezbollah”.

This was preceded by German lawmakers approving a non-binding initiative in December 2019 to call on the government to ban Hezbollah, a Lebanese political party and militant group whose primary basis of support is the country’s Shiite Muslim community.

April 30, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Iran breaks through US-led blockade to deliver record amount of oil to Syria

Al-Masdar News | April 28, 2020

Iran has managed to break through the U.S. blockade to deliver a large amount of oil to the Syrian Arab Republic, TankerTrackers website has revealed.

According to the website Tanker Trackers, Iran has significantly increased their oil exports to Syria, with several cargoes reportedly reaching the Port of Baniyas in the Tartous Governorate.

The website reported that Iran is currently delivering more than three times the normal amount they export to Syria, which is a significant increase to the Arab Republic, who relied heavily on the Islamic Republic’s oil last year.

“There can be several reasons why this is happening. Excess oil stocks in the midst of sanctions and a global oil glut is forcing Iran to ship and perhaps store the oil in a friendly country. Another reason is that Bashar Assad’s government and Hezbollah can be conduits to sell the oil on the black market. One place Hezbollah can manage to do this is Lebanon, where it has sway over the government,” the website Radio Farda reported.

However, despite these claims, the large oil exports to Syria have less to do with selling the petrol and more to do with the Arab Republic providing relief to its people.

Since the U.S. currently occupies some of Syria’s largest oil fields, the Arab Republic has been forced to find alternatives to meet the civil demand for this resource.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

Lebanon legalises cannabis cultivation

A farmer is seen in a green of cannabis plants in a field overlooking a lake in Yammouneh in West of Baalbek, Lebanon on 13 August 2018. [Mohamed Azakir/ Reuters]

Cannabis plants in a field overlooking a lake in Yammouneh in West of Baalbek, Lebanon on 13 August 2018. [Mohamed Azakir/ Reuters]
MEMO | April 22, 2020

Lebanon has become the first Arab country to legalise cannabis cultivation for medicinal and industrial purposes, after the country’s parliament approved the law yesterday.

The new legislation, first endorsed by parliamentary committees in March, aims to regulate cultivation by Lebanon’s cannabis farmers, considered illegal under current laws but which has been grown illicitly for decades in the country’s eastern Bekaa Valley.

Last month, Lebanese police reported intercepting 25 tonnes of hashish travelling through the port of Beirut to an African country. Officials said the cargo was part of the largest drug smuggling operation in Lebanese history.

Now, however, though export of hashish for recreational use remains illegal, Lebanon is set to establish a new above-board industry producing medicinal cannabis products, including Cannabidiol (CBD oil). The harvest could also be used to make industrial commodities, such as fibres for textiles.

As Lebanon’s economy teeters on the brink of collapse, the creation of a new industry, and manufacture of products for export, could provide much needed economic stimulus.

Alain Aoun, a senior MP in the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) founded by current President Michel Aoun, told Reuters that parliament’s decision was “really driven by economic motives, nothing else”.

Adding: “We have moral and social reservations but today there is the need to help the economy by any means… we don’t want to speculate on numbers… but let’s say it is worth a try.”

The move was initially recommended as a method of revitalising Lebanon’s debt-ridden economy by US consultancy firm McKinsey in 2018. A study by the company estimated legalisation of Lebanon’s cannabis industry could be worth as much as $4 billion.

Under the new legislation, an official authority, which will fall under the jurisdiction of the presidency of the Cabinet, will oversee the enforcement of the law. The authority will issue permits for the cultivation, transport, production, store, trade and distribution of cannabis. Only permit holders will be able to work under the new law.

The proposed regulation of the industry, however, has drawn criticism, with many concerned the system leaves room for corruption since the source of funding for the authority will not come from the government budget, but from permit fees, which could create a conflict of interest.

Other concerns, raised by those opposed to the bill, include fears the new legislation should include a change to punishments for recreational cannabis users, as such use remains illegal under Lebanese law. Activists have in the past recommended rehabilitation programmes in lieu of punishment.

April 22, 2020 Posted by | Economics | | Leave a comment

Israel threatens Hezbollah in Syria days after assassinating member in Lebanon

Press TV – April 10, 2020

The Israeli military has threatened to strike the positions in Syria of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement, days after assassinating a senior member of the group in southern Lebanon.

The Israeli military on Friday posted grainy footage on Twitter purporting to show the head of the Syrian Armed Forces 1st Corps, Luau Ali Ahmad Assad, “visiting Hezbollah positions in Syria.”

The footage, which was filmed from a distance, showed individuals wearing military fatigues greeting a man with military salutes and shaking hands with him in an open area.

The text accompanying the footage on the Israeli post read, “See the man with white hair? That’s the head of the Syrian Armed Forces 1st Corps, Luau Ali Ahmad Assad. He’s visiting Hezbollah positions in #Syria.”

“Our message: We see you. Consider this a warning,” the caption further read. “We won’t allow Hezbollah to entrench itself militarily in Syria.”

It was unclear who had captured the footage, or whether it was of Assad visiting Hezbollah members in Syria.

Syria has been fighting foreign-backed militants since 2011. While that fight has been winding down, the country has also had to combat Daesh terrorists in Syrian territory, including near the Lebanese border. Hezbollah has dispatched fighters to help the Syrian military eradicate the terrorists and has prevented the spillover of terrorist activity into Lebanon.

The Israeli regime has, meanwhile, frequently conducted airstrikes against positions in Syria. While the Tel Aviv regime has often refused to confirm or deny specific strikes, it has claimed that it has been hitting Hezbollah forces in Syria.

The latest threat comes a few days after a Hezbollah commander in charge of tracking collaborators with Israel, Ali Mohammed Younes, was killed in southern Lebanon apparently by agents working for Israel’s Mossad spy organization.

Younes was found by his car and had been stabbed twice and shot four times.

According to Sputnik, Younis was a “close associate” of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who was himself assassinated in a United States drone strike in Baghdad back in January.

The Syrian army has managed to drive the terrorists out of most parts of the country and end Daesh’s territorial rule with help from Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia.

See also:

Hezbollah member assassinated in south Lebanon: Officials

Unknown gunmen have assassinated a member of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

April 10, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

US airlifts Lebanese-American accused of torture, murder from Lebanon

MEMO | March 20, 2020

Lebanese-American Amer Fakhoury, accused of torturing and murdering prisoners while serving in the Israeli-backed south Lebanon army, has been airlifted from Beirut by the US, Senator Jeanne Shaheen announced yesterday.

A US Marine Osprey was seen landing at the US Embassy in Beirut, hours before Fakhoury’s release was announced.

Shaheen said she had spoken with Fakhoury on the phone soon after his release, adding that “anytime a US citizen is wrongfully detained by a foreign government, we must use every tool at our disposal to free them”.

In a statement later yesterday, US President Donald Trump said that he was “very grateful to the Lebanese government. They worked with [the US]”.

Fakhoury was detained on 12 September when he arrived in the country to visit family after more than two decades.

The former member of the south Lebanon Army has been accused of being the “Butcher of Khiam” over allegations that he oversaw the torture and murder of detainees during his tenure as a prison guard.

Former detainee Abbas Qabalan told local media Naharnet that “not a single person held in Khiam was spared physical and psychological torture”. At least ten people died at the prison while Fakhoury was working there.

The charges against Fakhoury were initially dropped on Monday, when he was acquitted because the alleged offences took place more than ten years ago.

However, a military judge ordered a re-trial after Judge Ghassan Khoury asked the Military Court of Appeals to overturn the acquittal. A court order forbidding Fakhoury from travelling internationally for two months was announced later.

In the wake of Fakhoury’s release, the head of the Military Tribunal Brigadier General Hussein Abdallah announced his resignation from the post this morning, the Daily Star reported.

Abdallah said he resigned “out of respect for my oath and military honour” adding the military tribunal had become a place where “the application of the law equals to the release of an agent of pain”.

Tensions between the US and Lebanon have risen dramatically as a result of Fakhoury’s detention, with Senators Shaheen and Cruz tabling legislation in February which would invoke sanctions against Lebanese officials and associates which are deemed to have been involved in the illegal detention of a US citizen.

The Trump administration have threatened to withhold aid to the country and sanction the Lebanese military.

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Pompeo and Netanyahu paved a path to war with Iran, and they’re pushing Trump again

By Gareth Porter | The Grayzone | March 20, 2020

Though it narrowly averted war with Iran this January, the Trump administration is still pushing for all-out military conflict. The architects of the drive to war, Mike Pompeo and Benjamin Netanyahu, have relied on a series of cynical provocations to force Trump’s hand.

The US may escape the most recent conflict with Iran without war, however, a dangerous escalation is just over the horizon.  And as before, the key factors driving the belligerence are not outraged Iraqi militia leaders or their allies in Iran, but Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has long sought to draw the US into a military confrontation with Iran.

Throughout the fall of 2019, Netanyahu ordered a series of Israeli strikes against Iranian allies in Iraq and against Lebanese Hezbollah units. He and Pompeo hoped the attacks would provoke a reaction from their targets that could provide a tripwire to outright war with Iran. As could have been expected, corporate US media missed the story, perhaps because it failed to reinforce the universally accepted narrative of a hyper-aggressive Iran emboldened by Trump’s failure to “deter” it following Iran’s shoot-down of a U.S. drone in June, and an alleged Iranian attack on Saudi oil facility in September.

Pompeo and John Bolton set the stage for the tripwire strategy in May 2019 with a statement by national security adviser John Bolton citing “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” implying an Iranian threat without providing concrete details. That vague language echoed a previous vow by Bolton that “any attack” by Iran or “proxy” forces “on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

Then came a campaign of leaks to major news outlet suggesting that Iran was planning attacks on U.S. military personnel. The day after Bolton’s statement, the Wall Street Journal reported that unnamed U.S. officials cited “U.S. intelligence” showing that Iran “drew up plans to target U.S. forces in Iraq and possibly Syria, to orchestrate attacks in the Bab el-Mandeb strait near Yemen through proxies and in the Persian Gulf with its own armed drones…”

The immediate aim of this campaign was to gain Trump’s approval for contingency plans for a possible war with Iran that included the option of sending as many as 120,000 U.S. troops into region.  Trump balked at such war-planning, however, complaining privately that Bolton and Pompeo were pushing him into a war with Iran. Following Iran’s shoot-down of the U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz on June 20, Pompeo and Bolton suggested the option of killing Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in retaliation. But Trump refused to sign off on the assassination of Iran’s top general unless Iran killed an American first, according to current and former officials.

From that point on, the provocation strategy was focused on trying to trigger an Iranian reaction that would involve a U.S. casualty.  That’s when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu interjected himself and his military as a central player in the drama. From July 19 through August 20, the Israeli army carried out five strikes against Iraqi militias allied with Iran, blowing up four weapons depots and killing as many Shiite militiamen and Iranian offcers, according to press accounts.

The Israeli bombing escalated on August 25, when two strikes on the brigade headquarters of a pro-Iranian militia and on a militia convoy killed the brigade commander and six other militiamen, and a drone strike on Hezbollah’s headquarters in south Beirut blew the windows out of one of Hezbollah’s media offices.

Netanyahu and Pompeo sabotage Trump and Macron’s attempt at diplomacy

Behind those strikes was Netanyahu’s sense of alarm over Trump toying with the idea of seeking negotiations with Iran. Netanyahu had likely learned about Trump’s moves toward detente from Pompeo, who had long been his primary contact in the administration. On August 26, French President Emanuel Macron revealed that he was working to broker a Trump-Rouhani meeting. Netanyahu grumbled about the prospect of U.S.-Iranian talks “several times” with his security cabinet the day before launching the strikes.

Two retired senior Israeli generals, Gen. Amos Yadlin and Gen. Assaf Oron, criticized those strikes for increasing the likelihood of harsh retaliation by Iran or one of its regional partners. The generals complained that Netanyahu’s attacks were “designed to prod [Iran] into a hasty response” and thus end Trump’s flirtation with talking to Iran. That much was obviously true, but Pompeo and Netanyahu also knew that provoking an attack by Iran or one of its allies might cause one or more of the American casualties they sought. And once American blood was spilled, Trump would have no means to resist authorizing a major escalation.

Kataib Hezbollah and other pro-Iran Iraqi militias blamed the United States for the wave of lethal Israeli attacks on their fighters. These militias responded in September by launching a series of rocket attacks on Iraqi government bases where U.S. troops were present. They also struck targets in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy.

The problem for Netanyahu and Pompeo, however, was that none of those strikes killed an American. What’s more, U.S. intelligence officials knew from NSA monitoring of communications between the IRGC and the militias that Iran had explicitly forbidden direct attacks on US personnel.

Netanyahu was growing impatient. For several days in late October and early November, he met with his national security cabinet to discuss a new Israeli attack to precipitate a possible war with Iran, according to reports by former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. Oren hinted at how a war with Iran might start. ‘[P]erhaps Israel miscalculates,” he suggested, “hitting a particularly sensitive target,” which, in his view, could spark “a big war between Israel and Iran.”

But on December 27, before Netanyahu could put such a strategy into action, the situation changed dramatically. A barrage of rockets slammed into an Iraqi base near Kirkuk where U.S. military personnel were stationed, killing a U.S military contractor. Suddenly, Pompeo had the opening he needed. At a meeting the following day, Pompeo led Trump to believe that Iranian “proxies” had attacked the base, and pressed him to “reestablish deterrence” with Iran by carrying out a military response.

In fact, U.S. and Iraqi officials on the spot had reached no such conclusion, and the investigation led by the head of intelligence for the Iraqi federal police at the base was just beginning that same day. But Pompeo and his allies, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark A Milley, were not interested in waiting for its conclusion.

A deception brings the US and Iran to the brink of war

The results of a subsequent Iraqi investigation revealed that the rocket barrage had been launched from a Sunni area of Kirkuk with a strong Islamic State presence, and that IS fighters had carried out three attacks not far from the base on Iraqi forces stationed there in the previous ten days. US signals intercepts found no evidence that Iraqi militias had shifted from their policy of avoiding American casualties at all cost.

Kept in the dark by Pompeo about these crucial facts, Trump agreed to launch five airstrikes against Kataib Hezbollah and another pro-Iran militia at five locations in Iraq and Syria that killed 25 militiamen and wounded 51. He may have also agreed in principle to the killing of Soleimani when the opportunity presented itself.

Iran responded to the attacks on its Iraqi militia allies by approving a violent protest at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad January 31. The demonstrators did not penetrate the embassy building itself and were abruptly halted the same day. But Pompeo managed to persuade Trump to authorize the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s second most powerful figure, presumably by hammering on the theme of “reestablishing deterrence” with Iran.

Soleimani was not only the second most powerful man in Iran and the main figure in its foreign policy; he was idolized by millions of the most strongly nationalist citizens of the country. Killing him in a drone strike was an open invitation to the military confrontation Netanyahu and Pompeo so desperately sought.

During the crucial week from December 28 through January 4, while Pompeo was pressing Trump to retaliate against Iran not just once but twice, it was clear that he was coordinating closely with Netanyahu.  During that single week, he spoke by phone with Netanyahu on three separate occasions.

What Pompeo and Netanyahu could not have anticipated was that Iran’s missile attack on the U.S. sector of Iraq’s sprawling al-Asad airbase in retaliation would be so precise that it scored direct hits on six U.S. targets without killing a single American. (The US service members were saved in part because the rockets were fired after the Iraqi government had passed on a warning from Iran to prepare for it). Because no American was killed in the strike, Trump again decided against further retaliation.

Towards another provocation

Although Pompeo and Netanyahu failed to ignite a military conflict with Iran, there is good reason to believe that they will try again before both are forced to leave their positions or power.

In an article for the Atlantic last November, former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, channeled Netanyahu when he declared it would be “better for conflict [with Iran] to occur during the current [Trump] administration, which can be counted on to provide Israel with the three sources of American assistance it traditionally receives in wartime,” than to “wait until later.”

Oren was not the only Israeli official to suggest that Israeli is likely to go even further in strikes against Iranian and Iranian allies targets in 2020. After listening to Israeli army Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi speak in late December, Haaretz military correspondent Amos Harel reported that the Israeli army chief conveyed the clear impression that a “more serious confrontation with Iran in the coming year as an almost unquestionable necessity.” His interviews with Israeli military and political figures further indicated that Israel would “intensity its efforts to hit Iran in the northern area.”

Shockingly, Pompeo has exploited the Coronavirus pandemic to impose even harsher sanctions on Iran while intimidating foreign businesses to prevent urgently needed medical supplies from entering the country. The approaching presidential election gives both Pompeo and Netanyahu a powerful reason to plot another strike, or a series of strikes aimed at drawing the US into a potential Israeli confrontation with Iran.

Activists and members of Congress concerned about keeping the US out of war with Iran must be acutely aware of the danger and ready to respond decisively when the provocation occurs.

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lebanon lodges UN Security Council complaint over Israeli violations

Press TV – March 6, 2020

Lebanon has condemned incessant Israeli violations of its airspace, and filed a complaint at the UN Security Council over serious and numerous breaches of the Lebanese sovereignty and UNSC Resolution 1701.

On Friday, Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Nassif Hitti discussed the latest developments in southern Lebanon as well as Beirut’s commitment to the resolution during a meeting with the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubitsch.

Hitti then expressed his great resentment over violation of Lebanon’s airspace by the Israeli regime.

Syria’s official news agency SANA, quoting an unnamed military source, reported early on Thursday that Syrian air defenses had intercepted Israeli missiles over strategic Quneitra province in the country’s southwest.

“At 00:30 on Thursday our air defense monitored Israeli warplanes coming from northern occupied Palestine toward Saida, and several missiles were fired from Lebanese airspace toward the central area,” the source added.

The missiles were intercepted successfully, he pointed out.

Israel violates Lebanon’s airspace on an almost daily basis, claiming the flights serve surveillance purposes.

Lebanon’s government, the Hezbollah resistance movement and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have repeatedly condemned the overflights, saying they are in clear violation of UN Resolution 1701 and the country’s sovereignty.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a ceasefire in the war of aggression Israel launched against Lebanon in 2006, calls on Tel Aviv to respect Beirut’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In 2009, Lebanon filed a complaint with the United Nations, presenting over 7,000 documents pertaining to Israeli violations of Lebanese territory.

March 6, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 9 Comments

Sayyed Nasrallah: Trump’s Two Recent Crimes Usher Direct Confrontation with Resistance Forces

By Mohammad Salami – Al-Manar – February 16, 2020

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah stressed Sunday that the United States of America has recently committed two major crimes, the assassination of the head of IRGC’s Al-Quds Force general Qasem Suleimani as well as the deputy chief of Iraq’s Hashd Shaabi Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis and the announcement of Trump’s Mideast plan.

Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that those two crimes had ushered a direct confrontation with the axis of resistance in Lebanon, calling for forming a comprehensive resistance front against the United States all over the world.

Delivering a speech during Hezbollah’s “Martyrdom & Insight” Ceremony which marks the anniversary of the martyrs Sheikh Ragheb Harb, Sayyed Abbas Al-Moussawi and Hajj Imad Mughniyeh and the 40th day after the martyrdom of General Suleimani and Hajj Al-Muhandis, Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized that in this confrontation with the United States, we have to trust God’s help, keep hopeful for a bright future and challenge our fear.

Sayyed Nasrallah pointed out that the so-called “deal of the century” cannot be described as a ‘deal’ because it refers merely to the plan of the US president Donald Trump’s plan to eradicate the Palestinian cause.

All the Palestinian forces have rejected and may never approve Trump’s scheme, according to Sayyed Nasrallah who considered that this is basic in frustrating the US plan.

Sayyed Nasrallah noted that consistency of stances which reject Trump’s plan is required to frustrate it, adding that the US will is not an inevitable destiny and citing previous cases of Washington’s failure when opposed by resistance.

No one approved the US plan except Trump and Netanyahu, according to Sayyed Nasrallah who underscored the Palestinian, Arab and international rejection of the scheme.

The Hezbollah leader hailed the consensus of the Lebanese political parties which have rejected Trump’s plan, attributing this attitude to the recognition of the dangers of the scheme to Lebanon and the entire region.

Sayyed Nasrallah noted that Trump’s plan affects Lebanon because it grants the occupied Shebaa Farms, Kfar Shuba hills and the Lebanese part of Al-Ghajar town to the Zionist entity, stipulates naturalizing the Palestinian refugees and impacts the border demarcation.

“The spirit of Trump’s plan will be decisive in the issue of demarcating the land and sea borders with occupied Palestine and will affect Lebanon’s oil wealth.”

Sayyed Nasrallah pointed out that what reassures the Lebanese about the rejection of the naturalization of the Palestinian refugees is the consensual attitude of all the parties in this regard, calling for respecting certain groups’ fears related to this issue.

February 16, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lebanon FM: We Categorically Reject Naturalization of Palestinian Refugees

Al-Manar | January 30, 2020

Lebanese FM Nassif Hitti has stressed via Al-Manar TV that Lebanon categorically rejects the naturalization of the Palestinian refugees, but that it supports their right to return to their land.

Hitti denounced the so-called “Deal of the Century”, considering that it infringes on the peoples right to choose their destiny and violates international laws.

“It is unacceptable to tamper with Lebanon’s borders,” Hitti said in a comment on one of the stipulations of the so-called “The Deal of the Century” which denied Lebanon its right to its Israeli-held territories.

The Lebanese to diplomat emphasized that he will convey Lebanon’s stance towards the US ‘deal’ during the meeting of the Arab foreign ministers in Cairo next Saturday.

January 31, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments