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Since it Failed in Syria, America Now Targets Hezbollah

Hezbollah (Photo: Al-Akhbar - Marwan Bu Haidar)

After Hezbollah intervened in Syria, cursory analysis began circulating that the Iranians had ordered their Lebanese partners to intervene as a means of helping the government in Damascus as part of a new Iranian surge inside Syria. This stance refused to admit that Hezbollah is one of the main targets of the war in Syria or to acknowledge that Hezbollah itself intervened in Syria on the basis of its own security interests and the ongoing attack against the Lebanese towns on the Lebanese-Syrian border.

The war was literally going to be brought to Hezbollah and the same forces trying to topple the Syrian government were already preparing the brinkmanship for an attack on Lebanon through a series of false claims against Hezbollah and measures that were meant to instigate fighting with it in Lebanon.

Following Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria, the US government began targeting the Lebanese party with financial sanctions. Four Lebanese businessmen in the West African countries of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), the Republic of the Gambia, the Republic of Senegal, and the Republic of Sierra Leone would be accused of being informal Hezbollah envoys and thus have US sanctions imposed on them. In lockstep with Washington, the regimes of the Arab petro-sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates would start closing the businesses of Lebanese citizens, revoking their residencies, and then expelling them from their homes.

Although the prejudiced expulsion of Lebanese citizens is not necessarily a new policy among the Arab regimes of the Persian Gulf, there is a new prerogative tied to the conflict in the Levant. While newswires like Reuters have claimed that «the expulsions illustrate how the war in Syria has encouraged age-old tensions between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims to spread across its borders and through the region,» the truth is something else altogether. Such narratives are camouflage that aims to hide the real political nature of the conflict through some type of constructed naturalist explanations that talks about the Sunnis and Shiites as natural blood enemies. Hezbollah’s Shiite character is irreverent. What the US and its allies are trying to do is tighten the noose around Hezbollah and cut off any potential sources of financial aid it receives either directly or indirectly through donations or remittances to Lebanon.

Has the EU provided Legal Cover for Renewed Israeli Aggression against Lebanon?

On July 25, 2013 the European Union added the military wing of Hezbollah to its list of terrorist organizations. The EU decision was the result of a compromise that was meant to end the intense pressure from the US and Israeli governments. In these efforts, Israel and the US were aided by the support lobbied by the governments of Britain and the Netherlands. Although the European Union’s decision was officially based on the unproven claims that Hezbollah was responsible for a terrorist attack in Bulgaria on a bus with Israeli tourists, the real reason was the legally unrelated Hezbollah intervention in Syria. The EU could have blacklisted Hezbollah much earlier if it believed the terrorism charges were justified. Even the Bulgarian government rejected them and refused to bow down to Tel Aviv’s instant demands that Bulgaria name Hezbollah as the culprit.

It is worth noting that the blacklisting of Hezbollah’s military wing by the EU partially satisfies the US and Israel. Since nothing is really known about Hezbollah’s military wing, little can practically be done. The way the EU blacklisted Hezbollah leaves the door open potentially for a flexible position among the European Union’s members and for the European Commission. Yet, it is a two-edged sword. The EU decision, however, could potentially be used as a political, legal, and economic weapon against Lebanon and Hezbollah when needed.

As a response to the European Union’s action, Hezbollah’s leaders in Lebanon have said that the European Union is now an accomplice in any future Israeli crimes against Lebanon. According to Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, the member states of the European Union will be responsible for a future Israeli attack on Lebanon, because they have given an EU legal cover to Israel for its next attack on Lebanon. What this means is that the Israelis will attack Lebanon and claim that they are fighting international terrorism. Undoubtedly Tel Aviv will parade the EU’s 2013 decision and mention it incessantly in its talking points as a means of convincing the international public that Israel is fighting Hezbollah as part of a fight against terrorism.

Hezbollah (Photo: Al-Akhbar - Marwan Bu Haidar)
(Photo: Al-Akhbar – Marwan Bu Haidar)

Ratcheting up the Propaganda in the Media War

Reuters took the unusual step of publishing a news article on July 21, 2013 that was basically a speculative opinion piece with the title of «Insight: By relying on Iran, Syria’s Assad risks irrelevance.» The opening statement is as follows: «Military support from Iran and its Shi’ite ally Hezbollah has given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad new impetus in his fight against the insurgents intent on ousting him, but at a price.» The Reuters article next goes on to suggest the following: «Assad now risks losing much of his autonomy to Tehran and becoming a pawn in a wider sectarian war between Sunni Muslims and Shi’ites that may not end even if he is forced to step down, military experts and diplomats in the region say.»

Business Insider would echo the position of Reuters by writing on July 24, 2013 that «Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been forced gradually to cede power to Iran to prop up his regime during the grinding conflict in Syria.» The above arguments are part of the standard propaganda talking points that started circulating in the sectors of the mainstream media that serve the foreign policy agenda of Washington. The aim is to naturalize the idea that sectarian hate exists among Muslims.

The propaganda talking points also include fabricated and exaggerated suggestions that the popularity of Hezbollah has declined regionally and even among its own Lebanese constituents in the Shiite community. For example, the Voice of America wrote thus on July 25, 2013: «Families of the hundreds of Hezbollah fighters killed in the recent battle for Qusair wonder why their loved ones died fighting other Arabs instead of Israel.» Even earlier another Reuters article wrote the following on July 5, 2013: «Many Lebanese see Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s support for Assad against an insurgency dominated by Syria’s Sunni majority as a miscalculation that will drag Lebanon into the Syrian quagmire, exacerbate fighting in Lebanon itself and deepen Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian rifts in the region.» The rocket attacks on Lebanon by the insurgents in Syria and the targeting of Lebanese remittances are also part of these talking points.

In all this propaganda, the success of the Syrian military has deliberately been downplayed. Instead the emphasis is that Iran, Hezbollah, and the volunteer groups from Iraq are winning the war for the Syrian government. For example, AFP wrote: «To help achieve this goal, the [Syrian] army is being backed by local militiamen operating in their own towns and villages and who have been trained in street warfare for several months in Iran and Russia, according to experts and sources close to Syria’s security forces.» This aspect of the talking points is actually old and has been used to explain why the Syrian government has not collapsed like the US and its allies have wrongly predicted.

There are even more examples. The Washington Post would report on June 1, 2013 that «sophisticated technology from Russia and Iran has given Syrian government troops new advantages in tracking and destroying their foes, helping them solidify battlefield gains against rebels, according to Middle Eastern intelligence officials and analysts.» It would further add: «The technology includes increased numbers of Iranian-made surveillance drones and, in some areas, anti-mortar systems similar to those used by [the Pentagon] to trace the source of mortar fire, the officials and experts said. Syrian military units also are making greater use of monitoring equipment to gather intelligence about rebel positions and jamming devices to block rebel communications, they said.» The Fox News Network would follow suit by reporting that «Syrian troops are now using sophisticated technology and tactics» coming from Iran and Russia. John Bolton, the highly unpopular former US ambassador to the United Nations, would weigh in on the Syrian conflict by telling Fox News that «within the last several months there seems to me to be little doubt but that Iran and Russia have both stepped up the quantity and quality of the assistance that they’re providing; more sophisticated communications and targeting capabilities, more financial assistance, and bringing in Hezbollah» in a June 2 interview with Eric Shawn.

Perhaps the worst dimension of these talking points that are being used to manufacture a false picture of the events in Syria is the one that claims that the Syrian government and its allies wants to divide Syria into multiple sectarian states. The Guardian would even claim, in an article by Martin Chulov and Mona Mahmood, on July 22, 2013 that the Syrian government approached «the former Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, late last year [in 2012] with a request that Israel not stand in the way of attempts to form an Alawite state, which could have meant moving some displaced communities into the Golan Heights area.» The same article writes: «‘There have been obvious examples of denominational cleansing in different areas in Homs,’ said local activist, Abu Rami. ‘It is denominational cleansing; part of a major Iranian Shia plan, which is obvious through the involvement of Hezbollah and Iranian militias. And it’s also part of Assad’s personal Alawite state project.’» The situation is the exact opposite in reality, it is the Israelis and their allies that want to divide Syria into a patchwork of smaller states. These objectives are now dishonestly and fancifully being attributed to the Syrian government as its goal.

Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks Tied to Israeli-US War Plans?

While some have described the renewed US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as an Israeli concession or exchange with the US in return for the American pressure that forced the EU into blacklisting Hezbollah’s military wing, the matter needs careful scrutiny. The Israeli-Palestinian talks have been scripted for reasons that are really tied to public relations and international diplomacy. The morally bankrupt Palestinian Authority is attending the peace talks because it was ordered to attend. Despite the cover being provided by the Israeli pledge to free a large number of Palestinian prisoners that have been held in Israeli prisoners, the Israeli government will not give it any major concessions whatsoever.

The timing of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks is tied to the US and Israeli agenda in the Levant. The announcement of the renewal of talks between the Israelis and the corrupt Palestinian Authority comes in close step with the EU’s decision to list Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization. Now that Hezbollah is openly supporting the Syrian government, the US and Israel could be planning on attacking it in some form or another. Another Israeli conflict with Lebanon, especially in the shape of a war, would be met with great international outrage and come at a high cost to Israel’s already tattered international image. Such an Israeli war on Lebanon would become a public relations disaster for Tel Aviv. This is why the renewed talks with the Palestinians could perhaps be a means of portraying Israel in a positive light before it gets involved in a new conflict with the Lebanese or any new regional adventures.

Regardless of the intentions behind the Israeli-Palestinians talks, Hezbollah is undeniably being targeted by the US and its allies. Such targeting does not necessarily mean a third Israeli war against Lebanon. Stoking the fires of sectarianism in Lebanon with the intentions of starting a civil war could be the main and best Israeli-US option. The terrorist attack on the neighbourhood of Bir Al-Abed, deep within Hezbollah’s stronghold in Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahiyeh, and covert support for violent groups, such as that of Sheikh Ahmed Al-Assir of Sidon which fought the Lebanese military, are all part of the strategy to tighten the noose around Hezbollah by setting its home turf ablaze with fire.

US sanctions, the choking of remittances to Lebanon, and the demonization of Hezbollah by designating its military wing as a terrorist organization are part of this campaign. More moves are to come. Writing for Fox News on July 23, 2013, Claudia Rosett and Benjamin Weinthal would rhetorically ask, as their article’s title suggests, «Where are the UN sanctions on Hezbollah?»

Source: Strategic Culture
Author: Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

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  1. Arklight

    What’s the situation with Dar’a? US General John Wright is, allegedly, preparing to send a flood of CIA trained guerillas in from Jordan. Dar’a is a super critical transport nexus, as nearly as I can tell from my map, just sitting there on the border waiting to be picked off like a ripe peach. Dar’a bothers me, a lot.

    • M. Klostermayr

      I doubt the report about the preparation of the “occupation” (attack) on Dar’a so far.. but who knows. At least, that the Jordan king is a proxy and slave is known for many years. His pay check by Washington tells the story. If the attack happens.. and in case its true.. Jordan will be in trouble I guess. The implementation of a no-fly zone above Syria is not possible without huge losses at the NATO/US sides and I doubt the US citizens (or British) will support the senseless death of their soldiers. Its already enough with the afghanistan BS.. we will see.. the transport nexus there is really important and in a normal world, the army units should protect it already but there are still battles I guess.. and the army often acted contrary to what would have been strategically intelligent and I take this from first hand views during my visits to Syria and the traveling to Hama, provinces of Idlib and Homs and other locations during the conflict. For example, even the checkpoints at the beginning were, to be honest, absolutly worthless and not many would even call them military checkpoints. Its no real surprise that a lot got overrun by armed thugs at the beginning and many young soldiers were (sadly) killed due to the careless military command and the strange strategy. However, after a while or at least after the two years it seems to be a situation where it is clear why the Syrian army has acted like this and let the armed thugs do “whatever” they want in many places of Syria.. isnt it? its all about the civilian support in several areas and their fears.

      • Canthama

        MK, I agree with you assessment, think it is hard to believe in this CIA backed offensive at Dar’a, any military intervention from any country in Syria will open up a can of worms literally, not to say the UNSC would not authorize it. The same for a no fly zone in Syria, Russia would not let it be as it did with Libya. The chess board of Syria relies on the strength and courage of SAA to keep fighting the terrorists and gather as much help as they can from allies such as Hizbollah, Kurds, Iraq, Iran and Russia. I really would like to see more Kurdish involvement from Turkey in fighting the terrorists, this would be a game changer if it happened from the Turkish side of their territory breaking communication and supply routes to the terrorists.
        I give until year end for the tide to change drastically back to Syrian Government side, if or better saying once Homs, Idlib and most of Aleppo is back to SAA hands then little less than desert will be in the hands of the terrorists.

        • Arklight

          Other than SAA, are there any national military forces engaged in Syria, now? No. In the event of an attack from Jordan into Syria, no foreign national forces would be involved there, either. A ‘no fly zone’ would not be within the province of the UN, since it would involve (primarily) NATO forces, as did Libya, although the Libyan attacks were entirely NATO, it’s possible that Israel might get involved against Syria, since they have already made 3 bombing raids that we know of. Turkey is, as you know, a NATO country. Personally, I doubt that the Syrian Air Force is up to the task of effectively opposing the implementation and enforcement of a no fly zone; I have to admit that my assessment is based upon the Israeli success in bombing a chicken ranch twice, and Latakia once; in addition, Jordan has been a training and staging area for a long enough time that Gen. Wright may well have a very good force of foreigners to send north, probably veterans of other ‘insurgencies’ who have been shot at before. Also, at a Congressional hearing regarding the war against Syria (yes, war – – guns go ‘BANG’, people die), General Dempsey stated that operations in future may involve ‘limited use of chemical weapons’; from his demeanor, it seems like the slipped that into the record with no fuss, knowing that the hearing committee were more interested in posturing for the cameras than they were in the substance of the testimony. Again, no national ground forces would be involved, except SAA and SAAF on defense.

          Arab armies, so far as I’ve seen, don’t sound the charge, attack full tilt boogie, and then fight balls to the wall. The SAA is doing well in urban combat, but fighting in open country is a whole different kettle of fish, and I doubt they’re really up to it, but that may be a faulty assessment.

          I think that the SAA combat competency of command pretty much ends at battalion level; I don’t think that regimental or brigade commanders really have any idea of what they’re supposed to be doing, nor of how to do it, but are probably very good at sticking pins in maps. The SAA troops cannot be faulted for lack of valor, but are not getting the quality of command which they deserve. For instance, I cannot think of even a flimsy excuse for the loss of Minnegh air base, and is SAAF busy cratering the runways and destroying the infrastructure? No. Is SAA artillery busy cratering the runways and knocking down buildings? No. If General Wright moves forward with a CIA trained foreign force, I think they’ll go through SAA like a dose of salts.

          The Turkish Kurds are smart to stay home, although I’m sure that there are plenty of ’em slipping across the border to fight the guerillas. Kurds and Afghanis are both born fighters, but both the Syrian and Turkish Kurds have their enclaves where the national forces don’t bother them, much so long as the Kurds tend to their own knitting. Afghanis, if they’re bored, will fight each other if no one else is handy, not a healthy attitude if they want a real country.

  2. AH

    When it comes to strategic thinking and acting, the SAA may really lack some expertise. Well, some Russian advisors should be able to cover that part a little.
    On the other side – are the US really up to the task of strategic planning? No, not at all. They are great at destroying infrastructure and wiping out a complete army. And then? Regime change with the support of 98% of the population is one thing. Regime change with the support of 50 or 60%, most of whom are uneducated, religiously influenced or even extreme and who are simply opportunists in their own narrow-minded world of clans, is another thing. It temporarily works until the situation will collapse as it does and did in Iraq, Libya and so forth.
    The US are growing their worst future enemies by supporting those extremist forces in Syria. They have realized the mistake in Eqypt where they once spoke of a spring and democratization when the MB came to power. Now I can virtually hear the sigh of the generals after the “coup” in Egypt. In order to keep face, they still send a few dumb envoys to Kairo to make it look like they want to return to “democracy” but, in reality… they are happy that a calculable force has taken over.
    If it wasn’t about Iran, Hisbollah and Israel, the US may have long withdrawn from supporting the thugs of Al Nusra and Co. Deep in their strategicaly minded brains they know it. But there are other players on the chess board. Well, the game is not over yet, boys.

  3. Arklight

    Strategic thinking is not the entire problem, it’s also implementation, together with the inability to act with reason, and in a timely manner. When the Soviets left Afghanistan, there were few Afghanis who did not feel a real affection for the US; we had shoveled all manner of weapons into the hands of the mujehadin, which gave them the tools and the necessary edge to force the Soviets out. Then, as soon as the last Soviet trooper had left, CIA did too. Afghanistan was in rubble, there was no government, and the Afghanis were abandoned by the only friend they had, as they thought. Chaos reined in the country.

    As soon as the Soviet Union went in a heap, American oil companies poured into the Central Asian Republics, and discovered that they were floating upon a sea of oil. Nothing would do except that the American companies should get that oil, but then what? Geologists also roamed about Afghanistan without molestation because they were Americans, Afghanistan’s only friend; in the meantime, there were no civil affairs personnel loaned to Afghanistan to help form a government, survey for infrastructure replacement or anything else, then it was discovered that Afghanistan was sole proprietor of the largest Lithium deposits on earth. Hmm.

    Taliban, seeing the hideous state in which Afghanistan languished, moved in and brought order with it; they were not viewed with benevolence, but they did bring back law and order in the south, while the north was administered by a group of regular musims, attempting to bring back the traditional order to the country, and were moving south in a well planned and executed campaign. These guys had no use at all for Taliban which had no interest in restoring the Afghan nation.

    Okay, we have Central Asian oil, Afghan Lithium but none of it belongs to us; the guy in the north would like to re-establish Afghanistan, the Taliban want to nail down a Sharia horror. Neither one would be amenable to a permanent foreign military presence, the Taliban as already destroyed the obscenely profitable heroin source of the opium poppy fields, but just THINK of all that money just clamoring to be stolen. Hmmm. Well, bin Laden’s still there, living in Kabul – – hmmm.

    Next we have the World Trade center event, blamed upon Osama bin Laden. Taliban won’t give him up without triple brass bound and gold plated proof that he had anything to do with it, SO – – we’ll just go in and get him! Americans invade and chase the Taliban away, which is good, then kill the mujihadin general in the north who wants to restore an Afghan nation (and keep the Afghan wealth all under Afghan control), so there’s nothing to do except ‘help’ form an Afghan ‘democracy’ which will, no doubt allow American companies to steal the lithium, and anything else that may come to light. Trouble is, Taliban won’t just stand around and be shot, so we have to kick down doors, break open cupboards, empty dresser drawers, knock people around – – we have to root out Taliban – – then the regular folks, who’ve been insulted, brutalized and treated like dirt begin to fight, too. Oh, boy. Damned ingrates. Here we were going to do such great things for ’em, too; hire local labor to build the pipelines from Central Asia, work in the lithium mines, be the hootch maids – – not lift ’em out of poverty, you understand, but pay ’em enough so they won’t actually starve – –

    In the meantime, Saddam Hussein is feeling frisky. He won’t take US dollars any more, and is switching to the euro in payment for Iraqi oil. Not only that, he’s rooting out and killing every member of al Qaida in Iraq, and Muslim Brotherhood too. Worse yet, he’s enforced a stable secular government onto Iraq, and he’s selling Iraqi oil by the shipload, building schools, clinics, libraries and hospitals – – even providing a large enough food ration that nobody is actually going hungry. Well. He won’t sell his oil for dollars, and we really, really REALLY want that oil – – hmmmm. Okay, we’ll accuse him of being an evil monster (granted, he was not your ideal humanitarian), so we’ll fabricate ‘evidence’ that he has huge stocks of poison gas, scud missiles, mobile gas chambers and probably molests little kids. Yeah. We’ll take him down. So Iraq is destroyed, and in the process is fatally poisoned with depleted uranium, Hussein and his boys are all killed, Iraq is occupied and an American ‘governing authority’ is installed, with a ‘mandate’ which has a hard cutoff date. We’ll steal all of the oil we can, in the meantime, in order to pay the costs of stealing it at gunpoint – – no, the taxpayers will never see a nickel of the value but, well, you know how it is – –

    Meanwhile, back in the Central Asian Republics, Americans have behaved like louts, the people are beginning to hate us, kick us out of our ‘temporary’ bases (which were supposed to be permanent, but no one was supposed to know), and sell the oil leases to – – CHINA?

    The Afghanis also have come to hate the louts who wreck houses, beat up shepherds and blow up family reunions and wedding receptions. Time goes on and the mining concessions are sold to – – CHINA? Pipeline and rail rights of way are granted to – – CHINA? Whaddya mean, the Chinese are always polite, respect private property and local customs – – pay cash for everything, don’t hassle anybody – – they’re CHINESE! They cannot be trusted.

    Well, never mind. Libya has a lot of oil and is ruled by a mad dictator. Yeah, he’s crazy alright. Wants to roll out something called ‘The Libyan Gold Dinar’ with which to pay for Libyan exports. Libya doesn’t even belong to the World Bank or IMF, so there’s nothing we can do about it, legally. Like Iraq didn’t belong to WB or IMF so there was nothing we could do, legally, about this euro foolishness. This Libyan guy runs a stable, secular and prosperous country, has no national debt, and is busy exterminating al Qaida and Muslim Brotherhood. No, he hasn’t caught and killed ’em all, yet, but he’s workin’ on it. Built any number of schools, libraries, clinics and state of the art hospitals. Even underground aquaducts to irrigate all of that highly productive farmland. Libya’s becoming the bread basket of North Africa. An obvious madman. He has to go.

    This Mubarek guy in Egypt. That boy is slap, stark, starin’ crazy. He’s got a stable secular country that’s becoming self sufficient, and that’s not good. You know, that murderin’ bastard is killing all of the al Qaida and Muslim Brotherhood he can find? What puts the cherry on the sundae is, he won’t let us build a permanent American base anywhere in Egypt. He’s obviously a mad dictator. We have to change the regime and force democracy down Egypt’s throat.

    This Assad guy is another one. A stable secular country, prosperous, lots of oil. He won’t slaughter Kurds, like any dictator worth the name would do but, if you’re al Qaida or Muslim Brotherhood, don’t let the sun go down on you in Syria. Very productive crop land, too. Monsanto is having a cow because they can’t get their mitts on it. This guy is obviously musical – – Looney Tunes. We have to dump his butt and install democracy at gunpoint.

    So, up to today. We’ve spent trillions in the effort to commit armed robbery and what have we to show for it? Several thousand dead and that’s it. China has no troops involved and is walking away with all the goodies, so far. They’re spending money like it was dandelion fluff for oil and mining concessions, and they’re saving huge bundles by not trying to steal anything. Well, we still have the poppy fields in Afghanistan, but there’s a fungus out there which is specifically fatal to opium poppies. Does anybody else get the idea that we might get skunked? Happens a lot when you do have a goal, but not the least notion of how to reach it.


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