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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Time Magazine confirms: Hezbullah rearmed

Time Magazine confirms this evening that Hezbullah has rearmed with the help of Syria and Iran, and now has 20,000 missiles in southern Lebanon, around the level it had when it started the war with Israel this summer:
Iran is smuggling weapons through Syria to re-arm Lebanese allies Hizballah, despite renewed efforts by United Nations peacekeepers and the Lebanese army to seal off the mountain borders with Syria in the wake of last summer's war between the Shi'ite militia and Israel, according to reports by Saudi and Israeli intelligence sources that have been confirmed by western diplomats in Beirut.
What 'renewed efforts' by UN peacekeepers? It would be nice - for a start - if they patrolled at night! After all, that's when most of the weapons are shipped.
Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv say that Hizballah replenished nearly half of its pre-war stockpiles of short-range missiles and small arms. But western diplomats in Beirut say these calculations under-estimate the weapons flow and that Hizballah has now filled its war chest with over 20,000 short-range missiles—a similar amount to what they had at the start of the conflict, during which the group is believed to have fired over 3,000 rockets at Israel. "The Iranian pipeline through Syria was already working during the war," despite constant Israeli bombing raids on the roads into Lebanon from Syria, this Beirut source said. Officially, Syria and Iran deny that they're supplying weapons to Hizballah. As for the Shi'ite group itself, when asked about receiving a new shipment of arms from Syria and Iran, a spokesman told TIME, without elaborating, "We have more than enough weapons if Israel tries to attack us again."
Note that the Israeli government is once again fooling itself regarding the number of weapons Hezbullah has.
Over the past three months, according to a knowledgeable Saudi source, Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers have been operating out of a military base on the outskirts of Damascus.
That would probably be this base here. Why doesn't the IDF just take it out?
The Iranian government has dispatched shipments of small arms and what appear to be missile components to this military base, according to the source. From the secret base, weapons have been shipped by truck across the border into Lebanon. Western diplomats say that the Lebanese army has posted over 8,000 troops along the border, forcing smugglers to use mountain passes instead of the heavily-monitored crossing on the main Beirut-Damascus road.
That's great. Lebanon puts all its troops on the one main road and ignores everything else. How's that for maximum effort?

And remember how I reported last summer that Hassan Nasrallah was hiding in the Iranian embassy in Beirut? Guess what:
Moreover, Obaid says [Obaid is a Saudi intelligence officer of sorts. CiJ], the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) are using the Iranian embassies in Damascus and Beirut as command and control centers -- an allegation that was also confirmed to TIME by Israeli military sources. Obaid says there appear to be direct communications links between the Iranians and Hizballah, via Hizballah officers working inside the Iranian embassy in Beirut, and Iranian officers in the field with Hizballah fighters; in the past, some Middle East analysts have rejected the popular notion that Hizballah takes direct orders from Iran.
The Saudis are actually quite concerned about what is going on in Lebanon:
Obaid says that when Vice President Cheney visits King Abdallah bin Abd Al Aziz Al Saud Saturday in Riyadh, the Saudi king is expected to tell Cheney that "the Saudi leadership will not and cannot allow Iran, through Syria and Hizballah, to bring down the Lebanese government and overtake the levers of power in Beirut." Obaid says the Saudi king is also expected to discuss with Cheney the kingdom's worries about Iranian activity in Iraq and the Palestinian territories as well as its alliance with Syria.
At the moment, I would say that there is very little chance of the Lebanese government surviving - unless there's another war.

But there's one piece of good news in all this. Read the last sentence of this paragraph:
If the Lebanese government approves of the tribunal, it will then go to the United Nations, which could slap an embargo on Syria. This process will drag on for months before it wends its way into the UN Security Council. Moreover, such a confrontational approach would run counter to the expected recommendation of the Iraq Study Group, commissioned by the White House, to engage with Syria. But after the assassination of Pierre Gemayel the notion of US talks with Syria may be off the table, at least for the moment.
Maybe James "F**k the Jews, they don't vote for us anyway" Baker isn't going to take over the State Department after all.


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