Syrian tanks advance to Lebanese Beqaa Valley border. Israel on high alert

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by StevenOtero, Oct 7, 2008.

  1. StevenOtero

    StevenOtero Well-Known Member

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    Oct 7, 2008 Syria moved tank units up to the Lebanese Beqaa Valley border Tuesday, Oct. 7. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that this is Damascus’ second troop movement on the Lebanese border. For three weeks, commando units have been poised on the North Lebanese border. In the first deployment, Syrian tanks and armored vehicles were kept some 3-10 km to the rear of frontline commando forces. In the second, which is much closer to the Israeli border, armor and tanks have been deployed at the front.

    These military movements sent Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak on an unannounced visit Tuesday to check the state of readiness of the IDF’s dispositions on the Syrian and Lebanese border barriers. He cautioned the outpost commanders to exercise maximum vigilance in the coming days. The border seems quiet, he said, but officers must to take care never to permit a repeat of the Yom Kippur exactly 35 years ago when Israel was caught napping by the Syrian invasion.

    Our sources report that Washington, Jerusalem and Beirut are bracing for the possibility that Damascus will seize the moment of the total shutdown in Israel for 25 hours from Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 8, to Thursday night, Oct. 9, for Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and launch its military forces against northern Lebanon or the Golan.
  2. StevenOtero

    StevenOtero Well-Known Member

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    This is from a Beruit website.

    Syrian tanks advance to Lebanese Beqaa Valley border

    Beirut - Syria on Tuesday has reportedly expanded its troop buildup near Lebanon's northern border, deploying tanks on its frontier with the northern Bekaa Valley.

    The pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, citing high-ranking security sources, said Syria has also deployed tanks along the border facing the northern Bekaa town of al-Qaa.

    Al Hayat quoted witnesses coming from northern Bekaa as saying Syria deployed vanguards along the border at noon Monday.

    They said the deployment coincided with the digging of trenches and setting up tents for its soldiers.

    The witnesses said they saw Syrian forces setting up checkpoints along the area of deployment. They quoted people crossing on foot from Syrian territory into northern Bekaa as saying that all border crossings that link Homs with the Bekaa Valley have been placed under Syrian control.

    They said Syrian troops have put up earth mounds to prevent smuggling and to counter terrorism.

    The security sources, however, confirmed no Syrian military penetration into Lebanese territory has taken place since the first troop buildup along Lebanon's northern border was reported Sept. 21.

    Photo: Syrian troops deploy on the northern side of the Syrian-Lebanese border. The United States voiced concern over Syria's military build-up at Lebanon's northern border and said the recent massive bomb attack in Damascus must not be used as a pretext to get its forces back into Lebanon.
  3. StevenOtero

    StevenOtero Well-Known Member

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    Related story: Saudi-Syrian cold war unfolds in north Lebanon

    where all the microcosms of inter-Arab animosity are vying for power in Lebanon.

    Saudi Arabia seems reluctant to accept the implications of the May 7 clashes which broke out on the streets of Beirut when the main Sunni force in Lebanon, the Future movement led by Saad Hariri, suffered a swift blow from Hezbollah, the Syrian and Iranian backed Shiite group.

    The Doha Agreement, rushed under the barrel of a gun, did not bring any unexpected variable or structural amendment, but merely an addendum to the Taif Agreement of 1989, pushing through recognition of Syrian influence in Lebanon.

    Yet, both Saudi and Syrian regimes have one thing in common: a vague structure of security power not conducive to analyze the rationale behind their policies. Riyadh's political options are predictable and built on the premise of a Sunni-Shiite divide, while the Syrian leadership, existing in a more complex environment, muddled along in somewhat of a state of disarray since 2001, where a the political line followed by Damascus remains blurred.

    Two blasts shocked Tripoli and Damascus last week, underlining a Salafist thin line stretching from the capital of north Lebanon all the way to the capital of Syria. Sunni extremism in Tripoli is a byproduct of the Syrian regime in some ways, since Damascus perceived the medieval city to be an extension of the Syrian heartland, as the late journalist Samir Kassir once observed. But it is hard also not to detect Saudi Arabia's hand in Tripoli.

    Syrian President Bashar Assad said that Lebanon is becoming a haven for radicals and a threat to the security of Syria. Saad Hariri instantly replied by questioning his intentions, accusing Assad of "infiltrating extremists into Lebanon," and even expressing Saudi frustration over France's overture toward Damascus.

    Assad asked Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to deploy the Lebanese army to the north of Lebanon to quell the violence. Damascus has reportedly stationed thousands of heavily armed Syrian troops along the Lebanese border, before a blast in Damascus near the "Palestinian branch" of the Syrian Intelligence, which could be seen as retaliation to Syria's shoring up its control over the border with Iraq.

    The Salafist anarchy in Tripoli has been a work in progress since the 1970s, with refugee camps during the insurrection of the Palestinian national movement, joined in the 1980s by Muslim Brotherhood members who fled the crackdown of the Syrian regime in Hama and by militants who came from Afghanistan in the 1990s after the war ended with the Soviets. The power game of this radical movement over Tripoli has continued since, first with secular forces and later within the many trends of the Sunni movement.

    The Lebanese army has also clashed with these militants for a while and a massive offensive was launched at the end of 1999 against a group called al-Takfir wal Hijra in the mountains of Dinnieh, where a unit of the Lebanese army was ambushed one day after Syrian authorities cracked down on militants from Hizb al-Tahriri al-Islami (the Islamic Liberation Party). The same group had also ambushed and killed Syrian intelligence agents.

    The same year the Syrian army clashed with the Muslim Brotherhood in the Hama massacre, Sunni radical factions in Tripoli coalesced under one umbrella and took over the city in 1982, before Syrian troops intervened in 1985 to end this adventure. Sunni forces had to accept the Syrian status quo, and Damascus sought in return to consolidate its grip by empowering another group, the Ahbash.

    But with the rise of Wahabism in the 1990s, the Salafist movement gained momentum and challenged Syria. The leader of al-Ahbash, Nizar al-Halabi, was killed in August 1995 reportedly by a Wahabi group, Osbat al-Ansar. This incident forced al-Ahbash to take a back seat and left the Wahabi groups as the main players in the radical Sunni movement.

    But Syria and Saudi Arabia kept on gambling with this card. Syria released a dangerous person named Shaker Abssi before the end of his sentence. In October 2006 he made his way to the refugee camps north of Lebanon to form Fatah al-Islam, a group that clashed with the Lebanese army in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared last year. The fate of Abssi remains obscure as no one can confirm if he is dead or was able to sneak out of the camp alive.

    Islamist Omar Bakri, who was able to escape British authorities, was released by Lebanese authorities and found a new home in Tripoli in August 2005. In July 2005, the political establishment released the Dinniyeh detainees as part of a deal to release the leader of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea from prison. The Lebanese government turned its back and allowed the growth of this Salafist movement in its own backyard while Saudi money kept pouring into the city for electoral reasons and motives related to balance Hezbollah.

    During the confrontations in Nahr el-Bared in May 2007, no other radical Sunni forces, including groups inspired by al-Qaida, intervened to help.

    The scary scenario now is if and when militants in other refugee camps jump in. Jind al-Sham, an offshoot of Osbat al-Ansar, killed four judges in Sidon, in south Lebanon, in 1999 before hiding in Ain al-Helweh refugee camp.

    To further complicate matters Saudi Arabia and Syria are not the only game players in town. In one of his audiotapes released in February 2007, al-Qaida's number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, made reference to Lebanon only in so far as the U.N. peacekeepers in the south were concerned. Yet in another tape last April, Zawahiri said that Lebanon will have "a pivotal role in the battle against Crusaders and Jews," described the embattled country as "a gap" and argued that "the mujahedin in Lebanon are caught up between the fire of U.S. agents and allies, and the fire of those linked to regional powers."

    The abatement of violence in Iraq has attracted many fighters to Lebanon. The decision to start negotiations with Israel while cooperating with the United States on Iraq made Syria vulnerable to retaliation by radical forces, which now turned their anger against Damascus.

    Saudi Arabia seems now unable to manage these forces in Tripoli after embracing them, and Riyadh dispatched Hariri to shape a political reconciliation when clashes between Sunni and Alawis reached its peak and started to affect Saudi's image in Lebanon.

    Recent violence - assassinations and explosions - not necessarily interrelated, reflect a battle between competing intelligence agencies and radical movements, all serving different masters and different motives from all friends and foes of Lebanon.

    The lack of political will and a national security vision in Beirut opens the door for this anarchy, a state that no Lebanese faction values its sovereignty and a central government that continues a tradition of disregarding the north and south of the country.

    What emerges from all this is a lethal chess game being played out on Lebanese soil.
  4. StevenOtero

    StevenOtero Well-Known Member

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    Middle East News: Syria massing troops along border with Lebanon

    Eyewitness reports say that Syria is continuing to mass troops along its border with Lebanon, prompting the warning from the United States not to meddle or to intervene militarily. Fresh reports of a Syrian troop buildup along Lebanon's eastern Beka'a Valley are ringing alarm bells in Beirut and Washington.

    Quoting Lebanese security sources, the Arab daily al-Hayat, reports the Syrian army has deployed tanks to the Beka'a Valley border town of al-Qa'a. Eyewitnesses also report that the Syrian Army has dug trenches and erected earthen barriers.
    Two weeks ago, Lebanon's LBC TV broadcast images of Syrian troops camped along Lebanon's northern border, sparking initial fears of an invasion.

    The latest Syrian troop buildup follows a series of defense protocols signed Monday by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Mary Beth Long and Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr. The three agreements include a one-time U.S. gift of $63 million in military equipment to the Lebanese army. The Israeli Web site DEBKAfile claims the gift includes a number of Cobra helicopters now stationed in Jordan.
    U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Hale told a Lebanese radio station the United States has "no intention of changing its policy towards either Lebanon or Syria," and it is "committed to Lebanese sovereignty."

    Monday, State Department Spokesman Robert Wood said the United States told Syria any "intervention" in Lebanon is "unacceptable."
    Syrian officials have repeatedly insisted the troop build-up along the border is merely intended to "combat smuggling."

    The head of the Political Science Department at the American University of Beirut, Professor Hilal Kashan, thinks Syria is preparing the ground for an eventual Lebanon incursion by using the Fatah al-Islam guerrilla group, which Syria created, as a pretext. "If terrorist attacks against the Lebanese Army in the north continue to go ahead, and it is my understanding that Fatah al-Islam is engaged in these activities against the army, and we all know that Fatah al Islam is a [Syrian] intelligence creation, and reports from Syria say that the Syrians have arrested their leader, Chaker al Abssi, and that they aborted, last month, a terrorist attack against a packed stadium in Damascus. So, all that is designed to show that there is a wedge between Fatah al Islam and Syria," said Kashan.

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said last week that Islamic militants inside Lebanon "pose a threat to Syrian stability." Lebanon's parliamentary majority leader Sa'ad Hariri responded to Mr. Assad, asserting that "Syria represents a threat to Lebanese stability."
  5. StevenOtero

    StevenOtero Well-Known Member

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    I do not see too much about Israel being on high alert (although they obviously would be). Also Syria would be totally moronic for such a move.

    The news is sprinkled about this, very inconsistent.

    Not sure what to think about it.

    god I wish we had freedom of the press again.

    How I miss a non-NWO controlled media!

    Obviously all TV News is completely unreliable as all they are is one long commercial for bailouts/war/2 party system/Bilderberg and CFR agendas
  6. StevenOtero

    StevenOtero Well-Known Member

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    Russia moves into the Mediterranean

    During balmy evenings in the sleepy Syrian port of Tartous locals promenade along the seafront or suck on hookahs discussing the two great pillars of their society: business and family.

    Politics, such as it is in the tightly controlled one-party state, rarely gets a mention, and certainly not in public. But few could fail to wonder about the foreign sailors dockside and the grey warship dominating a harbour that was once a trading hub of the Phoenician empire and is now the centre of a new projection of power, this time by Syria's old ally Russia.

    Tartous is being dredged and renovated to provide a permanent facility for the Russian navy, giving Moscow a key military foothold in the Mediterranean at a time when Russia's invasion of Georgia has led to fears of a new cold war.

    The bolstering of military ties between Russia and Syria has also worried Israel, whose prime minister, Ehud Olmert, was in Moscow yesterday seeking to persuade the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, to stop Russian arms sales to Syria and Iran. Mr Olmert later said he had received assurances that Russia would not allow Israel's security to be threatened, but offered no indication he won any concrete promises on Russian arms sales.

    Igor Belyaev, Russia's charge d'affaires in Damascus, recently told reporters that his country would increase its presence in the Mediterranean and that "Russian vessels will be visiting Syria and other friendly ports more frequently".

    That announcement followed a meeting between Medvedev and the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, at the Black sea port of Sochi in the immediate aftermath of Russia's victory over Georgian forces and its recognition of the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia - actions Assad supported.

    Now, with Ukraine threatening to expel Russia's Black sea fleet from its base in Sebastopol, the only route for the Russian navy into the Mediterranean, military cooperation between Moscow and Damascus appears to have taken on a new zeal.

    "Israel and the US supported Georgia against Russia, and Syria thus saw a chance to capitalise on Russian anger by advancing its long-standing relations with Moscow," said Taha Abdel Wahed, a Syrian expert on Russian affairs. "Syria has a very important geographical position for the Russians. Relations between Damascus and Moscow may not yet be strategic, but they are advancing rapidly."

    Tartous was once a re-supplying point for the Soviet navy at a time when Moscow sold Syria billions of dollars worth of arms. "Tartous is of great geopolitical significance considering that it is the only such Russian facility abroad," a former Russian navy deputy commander, Igor Kasatonov, said, following a meeting on September 12 in Moscow between the naval leaders from Russia and Syria.

    Syrian-Russian relations cooled after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But they have taken on a new dynamic since Assad succeeded his father in 2000. After a state visit to Russia in 2005, he persuaded Moscow to wipe three-quarters off a £7.6bn debt Syria owed, mainly from arms sales.

    Since then the two countries have been in talks about upgrading Syria's missile defences with Russia's advanced Strelets system, provoking condemnation from Israel, whose fighter jets in September 2007 flew unchallenged into north-east Syria to bomb a suspected nuclear site.

    Last month Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said Moscow would consider selling Damascus new weapons that "have a defensive character and that do not in any way interfere with the strategic balance in the region". Though no defence pact has been signed between the two, as it has between Syria and Iran, observers suggest the very presence of Russian warships in Tartous would bolster Damascus's military standing in the region.

    "Israel would think twice about attacking Syria again with Russian ships stationed in Tartous," said Abdel Wahed, an analyst.

    A senior Israeli colonel has also accused Russia of passing intelligence about Israel to Syria and indirectly to Hizbullah.

    Describing electronic eavesdropping stations on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights believed to be operated by Russian technicians, Ram Dor, information security chief for the armed forces, told an Israeli newspaper: "My assessment is that their facilities cover most of the state of Israel's territory. The Syrians share the intelligence that they gather with Hizbullah, and the other way around."

    During the 2006 July war Hizbullah fighters used advanced Russian tank-buster missiles to cripple at least 40 of Israel's Merkava tanks, a key tipping point in a war that Israel later admitted it lost.

    The Russian embassy in Damascus could not be reached for comment.
  7. StevenOtero

    StevenOtero Well-Known Member

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    Let's hope cooler heads prevail!

    An Israeli warplane violates Lebanese Airspace

    Tuesday, October 07, 2008 - 06:10 PM

    Beirut, (SANA)-Israeli warplanes on Tuesday renewed violation of the Lebanese airspaces over the South and Bekaa.

    "An Israeli reconnaissance warplane violated the south airspace over al-Naqoura town heading to the East and making a circular flights over al-Bekaa, then leaving into the occupied lands," a statement by the Lebanese army said.

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