Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Tuesday, February 12.
1) Syria, Hezbollah, Lebanon
The Washington Post reports Iran and Hezbollah build militia networks in Syria in event that Assad falls, officials say:
A Treasury statement noted that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander
has said that Jaysh was “modeled after Iran’s own Basij,” which it
described as “a paramilitary force subordinate to the IRGC that has been
heavily involved in the violent crackdowns and serious human rights
abuses occurring in Iran since the June 2009 contested presidential
But Hezbollah isn't just building its infrastructure in Syria, it's doing it Lebanon too. Ron Ben Yishai noted an interesting aspect of Hezbollah's tactics:
In a divided Syria, Iran’s natural allies would include Shiites and
Alawites concentrated in provinces near Syria’s border with Lebanon and
in the key port city of Latakia. Under the most likely scenarios,
analysts say, remnants of Assad’s government — with or without Assad —
would seek to establish a coastal enclave closely tied to Tehran,
dependent on the Iranians for survival while helping Iran to retain its
link to Hezbollah and thereby its leverage against Israel.
Experts said that Iran is less interested in preserving Assad in power
than in maintaining levers of power, including transport hubs inside
Syria. As long as Tehran could maintain control of an airport or
seaport, it could also maintain a Hezbollah-controlled supply route into
Lebanon and continue to manipulate Lebanese politics.
Hassan Nasrallah's organization has found that it is more difficult
to deal with IDF soldiers and their superior firepower in open areas.
Moreover, UN Resolution 1701 from 2006 forbids Hezbollah gunmen from
carrying weapons in open areas. Therefore, Hezbollah has moved from
bases in "nature preserves" to designated areas within the villages from
which it can launch rocket or other attacks against Israel. The
evacuated nature reserves no longer serve as permanent bases, and
instead are meant to be used as bases for launching raids on Israeli
communities in the Galilee.
Remember that there are those who defend Hezbollah claiming that it has
social programs too. Not all social programs are meant to better
At the same time, the Shiite terror group launched a major
social/real-estate project that bolstered its political standing: It
purchased lands on the outskirts of the villages, built homes on these
lands and offered them to poor Shiite families at bargain prices (to
rent or buy), one the condition that at least one rocket launcher would
be placed in one of the house's rooms or in the basement, along with a
number of rockets, which will be fired at predetermined targets in
Israel when the order is given.
In addition, Hezbollah has set up camouflaged defense positions in
villages which contain advanced Russian-made anti-tank missiles it had
received from Syria. Hezbollah gunmen have planted large explosive
devices along the access roads, and inside the villages structures that
were purchased by the organization were converted into arms caches. The
Hezbollah gunmen are focusing their efforts on finding ways to hide
underground to protect themselves from IDF fire and to prevent Israeli
intelligence from tracking them down so they will be able to continue
fighting even when IDF forces are nearby.
The Washington Post asked retired Gen. Amos Yadlin what the triggers for future Israeli attacks on Hezbollah would be.
Israel, he said, has defined four types of weapons whose transfer to
militant groups would not be tolerated: advanced air defense systems,
ballistic missiles, sophisticated shore-to-sea missiles and chemical
Adam Kredo reports in Israel on Alert:
In accordance with this policy, Yadlin said, “any time Israel will have
reliable intelligence that this is going to be transferred from Syria to
Lebanon, it will act,” although specific decisions to strike would be
subject to assessments of the military value of the attack, the risk of
escalation and the positions of foreign powers.
“As the Syrian army becomes weaker and Hezbollah grows more isolated
because of the loss of its Syrian patron, it makes sense that this will
continue,” Yadlin said, adding that Israeli responses would be weighed
each time and “not happen automatically.”
The “world needs to be prepared for the next war with Lebanon,” a
senior military adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently
said during a private meeting with representatives of the Foundation for
Defense of Democracies (FDD), a D.C. think-tank.
It is possible that red lines are being crossed even now.
“All of Lebanon is now South Lebanon,” the official reportedly said,
referring to Israel’s ongoing attempts to prevent the Lebanese terror
group Hezbollah from replenishing its weapons cache.
Jonathan Schanzer, FDD’s vice president of research, recalled being
“struck by the blunt nature of this senior officials’ comments.”
2) More Hagel
Yesterday I wrote about a report that claimed that Sen. Chuck Hagel had
dealings with a group called "Friends of Hamas." It was pointed out that
if this report were true, it would have garnered a lot more attention
than it did.
Still there's plenty of damaging material on Sen. Hagel. Jennifer Rubin writes that Hagel's less than forthcoming approach to financial disclosures is problematic.
One of those senators displeased with the ongoing game of
hide-the-ball is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). His communications director,
Sean Rushton, e-mails me, “When Henry Kissinger was named by George W.
Bush to the 9/11 Commission, Harry Reid demanded to know any and all
foreign funds he might have received, asking ‘What are they trying to
hide?’ Now, when the nominee is for Secretary of Defense — the civilian
leader of our entire military, rather than just an advisory commission —
Democrats are suddenly declaring it is irrelevant whether he has been
paid substantial sums by foreign governments, lobbyists, corporations,
or individuals?” He makes clear there is unanimity among the committee
Republicans: “Twelve members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have
asked for reasonable financial disclosures, namely what compensation
Chuck Hagel has received in the last five years and what foreign funds
have paid indirectly for the substantial fees that he has received in
the financial sector. If Hagel refuses to disclose whether he has
foreign financial conflicts of interest, he will make it impossible for
the Committee or the full Senate to make a fair and informed decision
about his nomination.”
The Weekly Standard uncovered a 2008 speech given by Hagel regarding his
fears of a nuclear Iran. After praising Aaron David Miller, in part,
because "he's Jewish," Hagel expressed greater fear of Israel's nuclear arsenal than Iran's.
The Democrats’ hypocrisy here is stunning. While Hillary Clinton and
Henry Kissinger and were both required to fork over the full array of
financial data, Hagel’s protectors seem to think he is above that sort
of thing. In refusing to provide the requested information on foreign
affiliations or financial data (he still won’t turn over a list of those
who paid him for his speeches, for example), Hagel is daring the Senate
to rebuff his nomination. At a time when another senator is tied up in
knots over his ties to a shady donor, doesn’t it behoove the Senate to
get to the bottom of Hagel’s finances?
This lack of cooperation repeats a pattern we saw in the Senate when he
refused to comply with the Ethics Committee’s demands for information on
the McCarthy Group Inc. In a report titled, “Hagel’s ethics filings
pose disclosure issue,” The Hill reported, “Hagel had reported a
financial stake worth $1 million to $5 million in the privately held
firm. But he did not report the company’s underlying assets, choosing
instead to cite his holdings as an ‘excepted investment fund,’ and
therefore exempt from detailed disclosure rules. . . . [S]everal
disclosure law experts said financial institutions set up in the same
fashion as the McCarthy Group Inc. do not appear to meet the definition
of an ‘excepted investment fund.’ ” In other words, Hagel has never
disclosed some of this information to the Senate, either while in the
Senate or while he is now seeking confirmation.
"Now that doesn’t apologize for or doesn’t close our eyes to what
Iran has been doing, what Iran does do, but unless they are engaged in
some way , then I don’t see this getting any better, and then where this
could go, where this could eventually go. Someone was asking me the
other day about a nuclear exchange in the world, where that would come
from. I said well I’ll give you a scenario that’s very real. If Israel
gets backed up enough into a corner and Israel uses a tactical theater
nuclear weapon, you want to talk about seeing some things unravel in the
world. The United States shouldn’t even be thinking about options of
bombing Iran or anybody else. I mean we got our hands full right now.
And we’re in such a hell of a mess."
Nonetheless, the New York Times who believes that President Obama should
get everything he wants (except the unchecked power to order drone
strikes) considers objections to Hagel to be "petty politics."
Mr. Inhofe told National Review on Monday that he would block Mr.
Hagel’s nomination on the Senate floor for “a long, long time.” The
reason? He thinks Mr. Hagel is “anti-Israel,” and he hopes the delay
will pressure pro-Israel Democrats. Mr. Hagel, in fact, has 12 years’
worth of votes in support of Israel, and he amplified that backing in
his confirmation hearing. But because he has also dared to express
concern about the plight of Palestinians in their quest for a state, he
has given Mr. Inhofe a platform to make extremist charges.
Mr. Graham is being even more petulant. With his eye clearly on his
Republican primary next year, he said on Sunday that he would block the
nomination of Mr. Hagel (and of John Brennan to run the C.I.A.) until he
finds out whether Mr. Obama called the Libyan government last September
during the takeover of the American consulate in Benghazi. This is a
continuation of his party’s fantasy of a direct connection between the
president and the deaths of four Americans. Most Republicans gave up on
this nonsense after Mr. Obama’s re-election, when it was no longer
useful to them, but Mr. Graham is proving to be the ultimate dead-ender.
Incredibly, Sen. Hagel's disastrous performance in Senate hearings last week has done nothing to diminish the paper's enthusiasm for his nomination.
3) Mubarak's legacy
Fouad Ajami in The Pharoh fell but his poisonous legacy lingers:
Two years ago, on Feb. 11, 2011, the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak
stepped aside, overwhelmed by 18 days of protests. Silent and remote, he
had ruled for three decades. He had offered his countrymen—and powers
beyond—the sole gift of stability. He was a gendarme on the banks of the
Nile. Now his country was done with him, and the vaunted stability of
his near 30-year reign was torn asunder.
Yet it is only against the backdrop of the sordid political landscape of
today's Egypt—the hooliganism of the young, the lawlessness, the fault
line between a feeble secular camp and a cynical Muslim Brotherhood bent
on monopolizing political power—that the true work of the Mubarak
tyranny can be fully appreciated. The "deep state" he presided over—a
Ministry of Interior with nearly two million functionaries, a police
force that ran amok—is Mubarak's true legacy.
The disorder today in Egypt's streets is taken by some as proof that the
despot knew what he was doing, and that Egyptians are innately given to
tyranny. But that view misses the damage that this man and his greedy
family and retainers inflicted on a nation of more than 80 million
people that once had nobler ideas of its place in the world.
According to two reports, Egypt's security forces are possibly getting help. Khaled Abu Toameh reports:
Did Hamas dispatch 7,000 militiamen from the Gaza Strip to Egypt to
protect President Mohamed Morsi, who is currently facing a popular
According to the Jerusalem Post:
Reports that appeared in a number of Egyptian opposition media outlets
in the past few days claimed that the militiamen entered Egypt through
the smuggling tunnels along the border with the Gaza Strip.
The reports quoted unidentified Egyptian security officials as saying
that the Hamas militiamen had been spotted in the Egyptian border town
of Rafah before they headed toward Cairo, to shore up the Muslim
Brotherhood regime of Morsi, which Hamas may have feared was in danger
High-ranking Iranians visited Cairo, then ruled by the Supreme
Council of the Armed Forces; Iranian warships were allowed to transit
through the Suez Canal on their way to a show of strength in the
Mediterranean. Iran says over and over again that it wants better
relations with Egypt and wishes to reestablish diplomatic ties. That was
the message carried by the Iranian foreign minister who came to Cairo a
few days ago.
If these reports are true, it means that despite all the talk of the
Muslim Brotherhood representing the will of the Egyptian people, the
Brotherhood, instead, is turning to outside forces to enforce its will
on the Egyptian people.
According to the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas, there was another, secret visit
some weeks ago. The head of al-Quds Force, the elite force of the
revolutionary guards of Iran, had apparently been invited to demonstrate
how to set up a special and elite unit – distinct from the army –
faithful to President Mohamed Morsi’s regime. There have been reports in
recent months to the effect that the Muslim Brotherhood was forming a
special militia to protect the regime and tackle its opponents and that
it was already operational.
Since the revolution there has been much talk about the need for Egypt
to develop economic and commercial ties as well as tourism and air
traffic with Iran. Both countries have much to gain from the move.
A number of items here have come from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs' Daily Alert.
Labels: Bashar al-Assad, Chuck Hagel, Egyptian democracy, Hezbullah, Hosni Mubarak, Iran, Middle East Media Sampler, Mohammed Morsy, Muslim Brotherhood, Soccer Dad, Syrian uprising