Hizbullah and Syria Threaten Revenge in Kind

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
Last update – 23:06 14/02/2008

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday threatened to retaliate against Israel for the killing of militant commander Imad Mughniyah Tuesday, saying "his blood will lead to the elimination of Israel."

Mughniyah, the deputy secretary general of the Lebanon-based guerilla group, was killed in a bomb blast in a residential neighborhood in Damascus late Tuesday. Israel denied involvement.

Nasrallah also vowed to strike Israeli targets abroad after accusing Israel of taking the fight beyond Lebanese borders by killing Mughniyah in Syria.

"You have killed Hajj Imad outside the natural battlefield," Nasrallah said, addressing Israel and referring to Hezbollah's longtime contention it only fights Israel within Lebanon and along their common border.

"You have crossed the borders," Nasrallah said in the fiery eulogy at Mughniyah's funeral in south Beirut. "With this murder, its timing, location and method – Zionists, if you want this kind of open war, let the whole world listen: Let this war be open."

"Like all human beings we have a sacred right to defend ourselves," said Nasrallah, speaking in a videotaped message broadcast over a giant screen at the ceremony in a Hezbollah stronghold. "We will do all that takes to defend our country and people."

Syria says will prove who killed Hezbollah leader
Thu Feb 14, 2008 4:35pm EST
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

DAMASCUS, Feb 14 (Reuters) – Syria will soon present "irrefutable" proof of who was behind the assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Moughniyah, the foreign minister said on Thursday, hinting that Israel was responsible for the attack.

"As a state, we will irrefutably prove the party involved in this crime and who stands behind it. An investigation is ongoing," Walid al-Moualem told reporters.

"We hope that you will soon hear the results of this mighty effort," Moualem said after meeting his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki, who came from Beirut where he attended Moughniyah's funeral.

Asked whether Tuesday's killing in a district of the Syrian capital swarming with security would undermine chances for peace with Israel, Moualem said the assassination killed "any effort to revive the peace process".

"Whoever wants peace does not commit terrorism, whoever wants peace does not lay siege to Gaza with a million and half Palestinians struggling for the minimum to survive," he said….

Washington has since stepped up pressure on the Damascus government and announced this week preparations to expand financial sanctions against Syrian officials and their associates.

Moualem said Syria will respond "in kind" to the latest U.S. escalation. He did not elaborate.

Comments (70)


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51. Alex said:

War did not start … but probably very soon.

I just watched Aljaeera … one Shiite opposition spokesperson and one M14 … I can’t see them being able to agree on anything.

The question now might be … Lebanon alone or … the whole region … The opposition spokesman said that few months ago Syria foiled a Saudi backed attempted coup d’etat in Damascus.

And .. that there will be violence very soon …

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February 16th, 2008, 8:56 pm

 

52. Naji said:

… keep watching…!

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February 16th, 2008, 9:00 pm

 

53. offended said:

This whole thing makes me sick….they just never learn…
Amal movement spokesperson has denied Amal’s involvement in the clashes with Hariri goons; who were they fighting then?

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February 16th, 2008, 9:10 pm

 

54. offended said:

Alex, do you think this news about the coup’s attempt to be true?

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February 16th, 2008, 9:11 pm

 

55. Qifa Nabki said:

FPM: War-and-peace is a government decision

Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader Alain Aoun announced that the decision of war-and-peace should be in the hands of the Lebanese state.

“We feel it necessary to speed up finding a solution to the crisis and building a nation which will bear the responsibility of protecting those threatened with death, liberating the land which is still occupied and resolving all hanging matters.”

“We already put forward the Memorandum of Understanding as a means of addressing Lebanon’s problem with Israel. In the tenth article of the Memorandum, we lay out a plan we plan to regain the Shebaa lands and our prisoners. This is the beginning of a peaceful disarmament of Hezbollah. But some retain the logic of war and force.”

In an interview today, Aoun emphasized the FPM’s support of a peaceful solution to all matters, whether internally or in terms of relations with Syria and Israel. “We reject the option of war, but the prevailing speeches indicate the depth of the problem, and the easiest solution at the time of a dispute is a request for divorce,” he said. “We must unite our perceptions of the nation. These concepts are not limited to security issues and the defense of Lebanon but also include the concepts of partnership and respect for the rights of all groups and a Lebanese reconciliation. ”

Regarding the disarmament of Hezbollah, Aoun said, “We would have preferred to resolve the problem by restoring rights and then dealing with the disarmament of Hezbollah, but this did not happen. We therefore bear no responsibility for what the confrontation will result in for the other party, which rejected our proposal for resolving this matter.”

“No one wants ‘open war,’ and I think that the speech of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah placed the condition of ‘if they want war.’ What is required today is the restoration of rights as a means to prevent war and to bring peace to the region,” Aoun concluded

-NOW Staff

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February 16th, 2008, 9:13 pm

 

56. Naji said:

Alex,
…not a few months ago, but TWO months ago …!

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February 16th, 2008, 9:15 pm

 

57. Qifa Nabki said:

Offended,

I agree with you. The level of wickedness and egomania is unbelievable.

When are people going to understand that they’re not going to get everything they want? These leaders (on all sides) are basically telling their supporters: we are the ones in the right, we are the ones who are virtuous, noble, free from error, and under siege. Therefore, there is no alternative to violence. This is the unspoken message.

They should all be thrown in 7abs Roumieh with the other inciters and public enemies.

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February 16th, 2008, 9:22 pm

 

58. Alex said:

Naji,

Tue. two months ago.

Offended,

I have no idea.

I assume they (Syria or the opposition) have some more details to show if necessary… but it can be a coup at an early stage … for example there was some communication between those planning it and they happen to be fans of the kingdom… with no direct connection etc.

I mean .. if Khaddam people were involved .. and Khaddam is obviously close to the Saudis .. that can be it.

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February 16th, 2008, 9:24 pm

 

59. offended said:

You know what amazes me Alex; that Syria is determined to go on with the Arab summit no matter what. I mean, the conspirators will be right there in the hospitality of Damascus. I think Syria should allow for some anti-Saudi demonstrations at the time of the summit. Let the Saudis understand they have crossed serious red lines…
I wonder if Abdullah himself will come…

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February 16th, 2008, 9:33 pm

 

60. Alex said:

Abdullah will not come .. and I doubt Saud Al-faisal will come.

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February 16th, 2008, 9:42 pm

 

61. Naji said:

Offended,
From where I see it (very up close, …too close in fact …!) there is no chance of the Saudies, or anybody else for that matter, attending the summit…!!?? Unless there is a dramatic change of course, we seem to be heading for one of those existential moments: “To be, or not to be” sort of thing…!! That will probably be for the better… Wish us luck…!

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February 16th, 2008, 9:48 pm

 

62. Qifa Nabki said:

The heightened rhetoric of the past couple of days has brought home the farcical quality of the Lebanese crisis.

The two sides are mirror images of each other. They echo each other’s accusations, calling each other: traitors, tools, proxies, usurpers, un-Lebanese, etc. They merely substitute key words here and there: Syria/Iran for Israel/USA/KSA.

On opposition websites, the comment boards are covered with a single narrative: Hariri et al are Israeli agents looking to destroy the Lebanese resistance and to lift the burden off Israel by opening another front with Hizbullah, and as such they are traitors of the worst kind.

On loyalist websites, the boards are covered with a formally identical narrative: HA/Tayyar are Syrian/Iranian agents looking to destroy Lebanese sovereignty and to bolster the Syrian/Iranian regimes by crippling the free, democratic government of Lebanon, and as such they are traitors of the worst kind.

When will the Lebanese people wake up and reject these destructive alternatives?

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February 16th, 2008, 9:53 pm

 

63. offended said:

Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid (the ruler of Dubai) will be visiting Syria and Iran next week; could that be an attempt to mediate and probably salvage the summit (and more)?

(Noting that Mohamed had met George W. Bush, Angela Merkel and Nicola Sarkozy. All during this past month)

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February 16th, 2008, 10:16 pm

 

64. Alex said:

More “news” from Al-Syassa .. coming soon to many M14 and “Syrian opposition” blogs.

مغنية أقام في عمارة يملكها رامي مخلوف بصحبة صديقته نهاد حيدر قبل اغتياله

»السياسة« – خاص:
ادخلت عملية اغتيال القائد العسكري لحزب الله, عماد مغنية في دمشق منذ ايام ظلالا قاتمة من الشكوك والريبة لدى جميع فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية المعارضة التي توجد اغلب قياداتها في دمشق, وكذلك المعارضة اللبنانية عموما »وحزب الله« على وجه الخصوص تجاه الاهداف الخفية للنظام السوري, الذي بدا منذ لحظة اغتيال مغنية صامتا ومربكا ولم يقدم حتى الان اي دليل واضح على براءته اولا, او على كشف الفاعلين الذين ادعى انه يعرفهم وسيفضحهم بالدليل القاطع ثانيا.
واكدت مصادر شديدة الخصوصية ل¯ »السياسة« ان معلومات كثيرة بدأت تتكشف لتميط اللثام عن مناورات واسعة في سير التحقيق الذي تشرف عليه القيادة العليا في دمشق وتحاول بموجبه إلصاق التهمة بثلاثة من الفلسطينيين التابعين للجبهة الشعبية القيادة العامة برئاسة احمد جبريل بدعوى انهم مخترقون اسرائيليا.
ومن بين المعلومات المتوافرة ان مغنية كان يسكن قبل مقتله شقة داخل عمارة في كفر سوسة بصحبة صديقته نهاد حيدر والعمارة يملكها نادر قلعي الشريك التجاري لرامي مخلوف ابن خال الرئيس بشار الاسد مما يلقي الضوء على ان حركة »الثعلب« وهو لقب مغنية, كانت معلومة خطوة بخطوة لدى النظام السوري.
وفي هذا الاطار طرحت المصادر تساؤلات مضافة ابرزها عن حجم واهداف الصفقة التي يعقدها النظام السوري مقابل التضحية بأبرز حلفائه على الساحة الفلسطينية وهو تنظيم الجبهة الشعبية القيادة العامة برئاسة احمد جبريل, اضافة الى مستقبل العلاقة بين النظام وباقي فصائل المعارضة الفلسطينية.
اما على صعيد العلاقة المستجدة بين النظام السوري وحزب الله عقب عجز الاجهزة الامنية عن كشف او اصطناع ادلة وشواهد تغطي بها قضية مقتل مغنية على الاراضي السورية وبالقرب من مراكز المخابرات والقنصلية الايرانية, فإن الحزب كما اكدت المصادر بدأ يشعر بالانكشاف وعدم الثقة من النظام السوري الذي كان يعتبره خط الدفاع الاول واصبح حاليا غير قادر على حماية احد.
وقد لفتت المصادر الى عدم التعاطي السوري المسؤول في عملية اغتيال مغنية لجهة اعطاء الاوامر باخفاء معالم الجريمة وطمر الحفرة التي احدثها الانفجار وعدم ارسال احد للتعزية بمغنية في بيروت ما يؤشر الى عدم رغبة القيادة السورية اجراء تحقيق موسع في جريمة الاغتيال وان وفد »حزب الله« الذي توجه الى دمشق للمشاركة في عملية التحقيق لم يتم التعاون معه بالشكل المطلوب ما يخفي انطباعا من ان تكون القيادة السورية غير راغبة بالتوسع في التحقيق لغايات خاصة بها وقد ابدت هذه المصادر خشيتها من وجود صفقة وراء عملية الاغتيال.
ولهذا فلقد ابدت هذه الاوساط قلقها من ان تكون ازاحة مغنية مقدمة لوصول »السكين« الى عنق قادة »حزب الله« الذين لا يمكنهم ان يتراجعوا في مسألة بحجم اغتيال ابرز قادتهم لكنهم في الوقت عينه لا يمكنهم الذهاب بعيدا في التهديد لان وضعهم اصبح مكشوفا واي خطأ في تقدير الحسابات قد ينعكس سلبا عليهم وعلى الجهات الداعمة لهم التي اشار اليها نصر الله في خطابه بقوله ان نهاية اسرائيل ستكون قريبة على ايدي الحزب والدول التي دعمته في حرب تموز بالاشارة الى ايران وسورية.
والسؤال المطروح بحسب هذه المصادر هل تدفع ايران وسورية بنفسيهما في أتون الحرب كرمى لدماء مغنية? ام يتعين على »حزب الله« اعادة حساباته جيدا وترك الامور للقنوات الديبلوماسية لانها قد تكون افضل بكثير من المغامرة العسكرية غير المحسوبة النتائ

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February 16th, 2008, 10:48 pm

 

65. Nour said:

QN,

There are a few people on this blog whose positions clearly mirror those of March 14. They go to great lengths defending March 14 figures and spare no effort to attack and belittle opposition leaders. I agree that there are extremists on both sides, but the fact of the matter is that March 14 has gone the extra length in inciting its followers and instilling a feeling of hatred in them. I see their tv stations and newspapers spread nothing but lies and propaganda specifically aimed at increasing tensions. Their leaders do the same in their speeches. So, yes, in my opinion, they are sick and twisted. It is not only a shame but a downright crime to be engaging in such divisive behavior.

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February 17th, 2008, 12:40 am

 

66. norman said:

If King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia does not come ,Syria will understand that Arab ism and Arab independence is dead and that Syria should Seek Syrian interest only , will the Arab Syrians see that?.

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February 17th, 2008, 2:24 am

 

67. Shai said:

Alex,

Do you think that peace between Syria and Israel could help do the following:

1. Bring about peace also between Lebanon and Israel, and essentially force the Lebanese people to decide once and for all about their own future, and their own country, because they’ll have nothing to point outwards to (Israel/U.S./etc.)?

2. Saudi Arabia might join-in on this peace, and not wait for a Palestinian state to be formed, perhaps so as to pressure the Palestinians as well to finally decide on their demands vis-a-vis Israel and each other (Hamas, Fatah). If that happens, will that bring Syria and Saudi closer? Is the divide so severe, putting aside the usual rhetoric?

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February 17th, 2008, 5:26 am

 

68. Alex said:

Shai,

Usually, I would have replied with a whole boring page full of my opinion … But I think for the next six weeks we should all sit back and watch.

First there is the assassination of I.M. in Damascus and Hizballah’s move to much more hard line position as a reaction to this assassination.

Then there is the ongoing humanitarian situation in Gaza

Then you have Lebanon … barely making it everyday without falling into another civil war.

And … the turbulence that precedes Mideast summits lately

You see … ever since this American administration started to exercise their brilliant ideas in international diplomacy and conflict resolution (i.e. we do not talk to the “bad guys”) … Mideast Summits started to cause a lot of turbulence in the area.

Summits involve “bad guys” sitting with the good guys. And that seems to be very painful to the Americans and some of their “Arab moderate” friends (who are NOT bad at all)

Before the Arab Summit last year in Riyadh, before the Annapolis summit, and now before the Damascus summit … there was/is this incredible stress in the Middle East .. and it is because they are too allergic to sitting next to the bad guys… unless of course the bad guys accept to perform according to some list of demands from the good guys… then they can be rewarded with a chair to sit next to the more civilized ones.

So … that’s where we are now .. I do not know if the region will survive all this stress …

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February 17th, 2008, 6:49 am

 

69. why-discuss said:

If a revenge for Mughiniyeh will be carried outside Israel, Iraq is the best ground. The assasination of a US army official in Iraq will be a big blow to the US and would not be easily pinned on Syria or Hezbollah.. Let’s wait and see

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February 17th, 2008, 8:47 am

 

70. The Independent said:

Josh,

I always enjoy reading your commentaries and thoughts about Syria and its environs.

Yes you are absolutely right, “The battle between Washington and Damascus is largely an economic one.” Both Israel and the U.S. and its allies in the region fear any kind of regime change in Syria (as the March 14 side would like)and therefore have not acted yet directly against the regime.

While Lebanon is sinking into an economic abyss, you painted too rosy a picture about Syria’s highly subsidized economy (Syria’s economy is growing at almost 6%). In a matter of years, Syria will be a net importer of oil, if it hasn’t happened already (data is not available or otherwise top secret). Any enhanced oil recovery they attempt on their archaic fields will not help in the short run. So today they rely heavily on cheap iranian oil.

What about prices for flour, sugar, coffee, etc..? These staples of the majority of Syrian society will soon lose government subsidies and will and are becoming more expensive day by day.

All this smells like inflation to me, even though the highly edited official numbers may not state so.

Too rosy a picture Josh!

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February 18th, 2008, 11:18 am

 

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