Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah Commander, Assassinated in Damascus - Syria Comment

Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah Commander, Assassinated in Damascus

See interesting discussion of who may be behind the murder, here

Hezbollah Commander, Wanted by U.S., Killed in Syria (Update 3)
By Massoud A. Derhally
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601116&sid=a5Jk5Qabmo9k&refer=africa

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) — Imad Mughniyeh, a commander of Lebanon's Hezbollah militia wanted by the U.S., was killed by a car bomb in Damascus, the Shiite Muslim group said.

“The martyr Mughniyeh was killed late yesterday evening'' in the Syrian capital, Ghalib Abu Zainab, a member of the Political Council of Hezbollah, said in a telephone interview from Beirut today.

Mughniyeh was indicted in the U.S. for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA Corp. airliner, during which an American Navy diver was killed. Israel has accused him of involvement in the 1990s bombings of the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish center in Argentina that killed more than 120 people.

The U.S. also wanted Mughniyeh for the April 18, 1983, bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut, al-Arabiya television said. Seventeen U.S. officials, including Robert Ames, the Central Intelligence Agency's top Middle East analyst, and other CIA staffers were among the 63 people who died in that attack.

In a statement, Hezbollah said Mughniyeh was killed “by the Israeli Zionists.'' His funeral will be held tomorrow, it said. Mughniyeh was 45, according to al-Arabiya.

“There are so many countries and intelligence organizations that had an account to settle with this guy that it could be a great many people,'' Yossi Alpher, a former official with Israel's Mossad intelligence agency and one-time adviser to former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, said in an interview today. “Anybody who has an interest in stopping global terrorism should be satisfied that he's removed from the scene.''

Israeli Denial

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said in a pager message, “Israel rejects the attempts being made by terrorist groups that try to tie Israel to the incident.''

Mughniyeh, who also went by the name of El-Haj Radwan, was on the FBI most-wanted terrorists list, with a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture or conviction.

“It's a big blow and very significant blow no matter who did it,'' Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center, said in a telephone interview from Beirut.

“This was done in Damascus,'' he said, adding that, if the Hezbollah commander was killed by Syria, “then it's enormously significant and, if not, then who was able to penetrate Damascus so coolly and comfortably?''

Mughniyeh was a hard target and his killing could be part of a deal between the U.S. and Syria, Salem said. “He was one of the figures that was always asked for by name by the U.S. If, and it's a big if, it's part of a Syrian agenda, it means that the U.S. and Syria must be making progress and there is some deal- making on Lebanon.''

`Unrealistic'

Abdel Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian vice president and once a right-hand man to late President Hafez al-Assad, said he doubted the likelihood of such a deal.

“Such a deal is unrealistic in this day and age,'' Khaddam said in an interview today from his home in Paris.

The site where Mughniyeh was killed is in a security area, in close proximity to an Iranian school and the offices of the Syrian intelligence services and military intelligence unit, Khaddam said.

Mughniyeh's death comes before a rally tomorrow that is expected to draw tens of thousands of Lebanese to central Beirut to mark the third anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

United Nations investigators said Lebanese and Syrian intelligence officials, including the brother and brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, were implicated in the truck bombing that killed Hariri. Syria has denied any involvement.

`Asserting Authority'

“There seems to be a steady attempt to push Syria, and right now the United States and the West has very little leverage over Syria, and I think this is frustrating everybody in Washington as they see Syria asserting its authority in Lebanon,'' said Josh Landis, a specialist on Syria and director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “They've run out of tools and the only thing Bush can say now is that he's going to get a fully funded investigation'' into Hariri's assassination.

The fact that Mughniyeh was killed just before Hariri's anniversary “means that there could be demonstrations by Hezbollah supporters today and tomorrow,'' Ted Karasik, senior political scientist at the Rand Corp. consulting company, said in an interview today. “He was killed in order to ignite confrontation on streets.''

Lebanon has been without a head of state since Nov. 23, when Syrian-backed Emile Lahoud left office at the end of his term. The dispute over the post has threatened to ignite civil strife in the country. The crisis is the worst since the end of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. Lebanese lawmakers have failed to elect a president on 14 occasions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Massoud A. Derhally in Amman, Jordan, at mderhally@bloomberg.net .

Profile: Imad Mughniyeh
13 February 2008
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2008. All rights reserved

Hizbullah's latest 'martyr' has been on the FBI's most wanted list since the 1980s and is accused by Israel of masterminding the 2006 war in Lebanon

Imad Mughniyeh, killed by a car bomb in Damascus on Tuesday night, was a top military leader of the Lebanese Hizbullah organisation, which is mourning him today as a "martyred" hero of its 20-year campaign against Israel and the US.

Mughniyeh has been on the FBI's most wanted list since the 1980s, long before al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden became bywords for terrorism. Working with a shadowy Shia group known as Islamic Jihad, he was blamed for the kidnapping of western hostages in Beirut – including the Briton Terry Waite – and a 1983 bombing that killed 240 US marines in the Lebanese capital.

In 1984, Mughniyeh was said to have been behind the kidnapping and killing of the CIA station chief in Beirut, William Buckley. From the start he was linked closely to Iran's Revolutionary Guards, still Hizbullah's strategic partner. He spent much of the 1990s in Tehran. He was indicted in the US for the 1985 hijacking to Beirut of a TWA airliner in which a US navy diver was killed.

Western intelligence agencies have described Mughniyeh as head of the jihad council within Hizbullah's ruling shura council.

Israel saw him as the terrorist "mastermind" behind the planning for Hizbullah's July 2006 war with the Jewish state, which began with the audacious cross-border kidnapping of Israeli soldiers the organisation hoped to swap for Lebanese prisoners.

It was no surprise that Hizbullah blamed Israel's Mossad secret service for the killing, nor that the Syrian government, doubtless embarrassed by the attack in the heart of Damascus, remained silent.

If Israel was behind the assassination – and it has strongly rejected any involvement – it will be seen as a deliberate signal that it could target leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which has offices in the Syrian capital.

Another possibility is that the bombing was the work of agents linked to the pro-western Beirut government, which is at odds with the Shia organisation and its Syrian backers. The CIA has been pursuing Mughniyeh for years.

The killing electrified Beirut, already tense on the eve of Thursday's mass rally commemorating Rafiq al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, whose assassination three years ago was widely blamed on Syria.

Israeli leaders were furious last month when Hizbullah's leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, made the macabre boast that the group was holding the body parts of several Israeli soldiers. Nasrallah has always claimed that Hizbullah won the 2006 war, taunting the Israelis at every opportunity.

"Israel had an account to settle with Mughniyeh," Eyal Zisser, an Israeli academic expert, told al-Jazeera TV. But he noted that the Lebanese fugitive was wanted by 42 other countries. Israel killed Nasrallah's predecessor, Abbas Musawi, in 1992.

Mughniyeh, aged around 46 and reportedly known to his followers as Haj Radwan, was rumoured to have had plastic surgery and to have been living underground in Beirut's southern suburbs, Hizbullah's stronghold.

Mughniyeh's brother was killed in a similar attack in Beirut in 1994, though reports at the time suggested Imad was the real target.

In this murky area hard facts are more difficult to come by than speculation and misinformation, but some reports have suggested Mughniyeh was in charge of Hizbullah's operations abroad, including attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets in Latin America in the 1990s.

Comments (71)


norman said:

Killing will only bring more killing , the world is moving forward while the semetic people are killing each other for the benifit of the west and the east , how sad!.

February 13th, 2008, 4:23 pm

 

Nafdik said:

Check out this new version of Intrade (the prdiction market website) for Syrian politics:

http://intrade.iwebtest.com

February 13th, 2008, 4:29 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

This is clear sign that Israel has many spies in Syria, I would not be surprised that some of the officials are involved in this spying activities, they must be uncovered,all Israeli spies in Syria they came from Lebanon,and Israel must pay for these crimes in Syria and the assasinations they are doing in Lebanon, many of the lebanese assasinations are acts of Israel,and anyone who fools himself and accuse Syria is truely a fool.
Israel denial is pure lies , like all statements from AIG, A.P. and other Israeli officials.

February 13th, 2008, 4:34 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

A very good behind-the-scenes round-up by NOW Lebanon. I know their politics don’t jive with many on SC, but this is quite revealing.

I’ve copied and pasted relevant bits below. The entire article is here.

_____________________________________
Kicking it up a notch
March 14 turns up the heat, but what’s cooking?

March 14 leaders ratcheted up the rhetoric this past weekend, declaring themselves unafraid of civil conflict if the opposition was intent on dragging the country down that hole. In the past week, March 14 figures have also renewed talk of using the simple-majority option to elect a president in order to break the current deadlock.

One possibility is that a change has occurred among the majority’s regional and international patrons that would produce a harder March 14 line.

Future MP Farid Makari denied any hypothetical link, saying, “We thank the Americans and the Europeans for their support; we are thankful the support of everybody who wants to help us. But when we say something or do something, we do it because we believe it without the instruction or without the knowledge of any other party.”

The Lebanese daily As-Safir saw a different foreign source for the escalation in rhetoric: Saudi Arabia. Reporting Monday on an alleged secret visit by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal before Moussa’s last trip to Beirut, As-Safir traced March 14’s weekend statements to the worsening deadlock between Syria and Saudi Arabia. Jumblatt himself was busy at the time, making the diplomatic rounds to Moscow, and then Saudi Arabia a few days later, in an effort to increase the pressure on Syria and its allies to compromise. The resulting failure of Moussa’s third trip to Beirut and March 14’s subsequent battle cries, the theory goes, were thus direct results of behind-the-scenes Saudi politicking.

March 14 sources, however, insisted that the escalation in rhetoric was intended as a two-part message for the Lebanese people. In the Monday As-Safir article, Jumblatt explained his speech as “aimed at mobilizing the crowds and nothing else.” The Hariri and Jumblatt speeches came amid a series of statements by March 14 leaders calling for mass demonstrations at Martyrs’ Square on February 14, the anniversary of Rafik Hariri’s assassination. March 14 supporters have had little to cheer about over the past year, as their leaders have appeared to give concession after concession to the opposition. The leadership no doubt saw that they needed to remind their supporters that they were far from giving up.

PSP media officer Rami Rayes told NOW Lebanon, “The people of March 14 have been at some stages trying to hold us responsible for giving so much ‘concessions.’ They thought that we were too positive during the last period, which was not matched by the opposition.” Occasionally this reputation for capitulation has made for fertile ground for rumors. For example, the Lebanese English-language Daily Star reported on Monday that Hariri had actually agreed to the opposition’s proposed 10-10-10 cabinet sharing scenario, but had then changed his mind.

Makari explained, “In their discussion, which took place in the parliament, Mr. Hariri asked Mr. Aoun a hypothetical question: Suppose we accept your request of 10-10-10, do you have any more requests? And Aoun answered, first of all this 10-10-10 is not the position of all of March 8; part of the opposition, they accepted it. But regardless of whether they do or not, we have the other following requests.” The hypothetical was then reported as an actual concession, rather than an attempt to sound out the opposition’s bargaining position.

Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh also described the speeches as a message for the opposition. Speaking to NOW Lebanon, he said, “It’s a message. It’s not a declaration of war, but it’s a message saying we are fed up. And the Lebanese people are fed up, and what has been done, covered, perpetrated now for 16 months, is unacceptable to anybody.”

Makari added, “It is not the wish of March 14 leaders to make a civil war, but they are telling them, in a very frank way, if you are driving the country to a civil war it’s not going to be a picnic.”

Breaking the deadlock

Obviously, a civil war would be no picnic for anybody. What is not obvious is where else the current crisis will go. If March 14’s renewed hard line is not a result of secretly stronger international or regional backing, it is hard to imagine that it will have any effect on Syria’s or its allies’ stands.

Sources did see a possible change on the ground in Lebanon, however, with indications that some members of the opposition might join in a simple-majority vote to elect Sleiman and end the deadlock. Explaining his own renewed talk of a simple-majority presidential election, Hamadeh said, “To go back to this option, not the 50+1, but a comfortable majority which would certainly be around 70 or 80 MPs voting for Michel Sleiman, is something we are envisioning to break the deadlock.”

Yet there have been rumors that blocs within Change and Reform or Amal might participate in such a vote for months, always denied and never realized. What’s more, Hezbollah and the hard-line oppositionists have repeatedly said that they would not stand “hands tied” either, in such a situation. And in any case, in light of Sleiman’s recent not-so-subtle offers to withdraw his candidacy, it is unlikely that he would agree to be elected in so divisive a fashion.

February 13th, 2008, 4:59 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

March 14 General Secretariat condemns Mugniyah assassination

The March 14 forces’ General Secretariat condemned the assassination of Hezbollah Security Official Imad Mugniyah. The forces have paid condolences to Hezbollah.

“Lebanon is being exposed to a tremendous wave of terrorism that targets everyone without differentiation,” read the group’s statement. “This pushes us to regain our national immunity and the unity of our people and institutions.”

The secretariat assured the attendance of their supporters in the third commemoration of the assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and the 22 others killed on February 14, 2005.

“We stand tomorrow, as scheduled, to confirm our loyalty to martyrdom, our loyalty to the construction of the government and to civil peace.”

February 13th, 2008, 5:02 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

From my news archive of 1995.

The Washington Post
April 21, 1995, Friday, Final Edition
U.S.: Saudis Blocked Effort to Catch Suspected Terrorist

BYLINE: Jim Mann; Ronald J. Ostrow, Los Angeles Times

SECTION: A SECTION; Pg. A16

LENGTH: 471 words

Saudi Arabia thwarted American efforts two weeks ago to seize a man authorities believe is one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, U.S. officials said yesterday.

The man they had hoped to arrest had been hunted for a decade for his reputed roles in the 1983 car-bombing that killed 241 U.S. troops in Lebanon and for a 1985 Trans World Airlines hijacking in which one American died.

FBI officials were secretly sent overseas to prepare to take custody of the suspect, a leader of the militant Muslim group Hezbollah, on a stopover in Saudi Arabia during an April 7 Middle East Airlines flight headed from Khartoum, Sudan, to Beirut.

But before they could carry out this operation, Saudi Arabia decided not to cooperate and refused to allow the plane to land.

The Clinton administration this week delivered a formal diplomatic protest to Saudi Arabia for its unwillingness to help the FBI. The incident underscored the limits of cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia, which admitted American troops onto its soil in 1990 to help defend the kingdom following the Iraqi invasion of neighboring Kuwait.

The suspect sought by the FBI, who was secretly indicted in the United States in 1985, is said to have been the Hezbollah security chief in Lebanon who was in charge of American hostages taken in the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 from Athens to Rome. One American, Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem, was killed during that hijacking.

Although authorities refuse to give the suspect’s name, he is believed to be Imad Mughniyah, whom a top FBI official described several years ago as “the single most dangerous terrorist at large today.”

Mughniyah is said to have been one of the masterminds not only of the TWA hijacking but also of the 1983 suicide bombing that killed 241 U.S. military personnel in Beirut. And he allegedly was a leader in the abduction of a series of American hostages in Lebanon in the early 1980s.

Although there is no evidence that the aborted U.S. move against the Hezbollah leader had any connection to this week’s bombing in Oklahoma City, the episode demonstrated the global scope of the war against terrorism. As deadly bombings come home to America, the FBI has been intensifying the scope of its anti-terrorism campaigns overseas.

The dispute reportedly touched off a flurry of contacts at high levels between the Clinton administration and Saudi Arabia. Saudi officials did not respond to repeated phone calls seeking an explanation of the April incident.

However, U.S. officials confirmed that in early April, the FBI had tried and failed to seize in Saudi Arabia a major Hezbollah leader wanted for, among other things, the hijacking of the TWA flight. And they acknowledged that the reason for the FBI’s failure was the Saudis’ refusal to cooperate.

Copyright 1995 The Washington Post

February 13th, 2008, 5:08 pm

 

norman said:

Is it posible that he was not killed , but making him dead will stop th hunt for him?.

February 13th, 2008, 5:29 pm

 

Atassi said:

The most apparent and easy suspect to point fingers to is Israel.. But it’s kind of a strange time to stir up further tensions in Lebanon, since the Siniora government in a very weak position.
And what was he doing in Syria @ this time just before the Hariri anniversary!! Was he invited by the security services for a new plot!!
Or did the “Inner Circle in Damascus” ordered “take-him out” because he knew too much \involved in the Lebanese internal eliminations tasks for the past three years!!…

February 13th, 2008, 5:59 pm

 

Wassim said:

What’s all this stuff emerging about who killed Mughniyeh and for what reason? Is it so difficult to recognise that if something quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, then it probably is a duck? Israel managed to kill Mughniyeh but the big question is how it managed to reach him so I assume a major security shakeup is in the works and some heads will roll. Still, now the ball is with Hezbullah and their retaliation will be swift I imagine.

February 13th, 2008, 6:14 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Nafdik,

Long time no see.

February 13th, 2008, 7:02 pm

 

offended said:

Ya3ni ya Attasi, excuse my French but I find your comment disturbing and stupid…

You actually think that Israel is so concerned and sensitive toward the internal affairs in Lebanon, and hence it’ll think twice before taking Imad Mughniya down at this critical time?

You should know better that Israel doesn’t give a jot what happened to Lebanon.

And then you say that it’s fishy that his being in Damascus coincided with the Hariri Aniversary; how do you know for sure he hasn’t been there for long time? And if he was really privy to so much operational information and maybe even involved in the series of assassination, you think Syria will take him down on the verge of Harriri anniversary for that reason?….

It all boils down to one question actually: who’s more interested in a warring Lebanon? Syria or Israel?

February 13th, 2008, 7:26 pm

 

offended said:

Hmmmmm, where is Alex? 🙂

February 13th, 2008, 7:28 pm

 

norman said:

Alex is on the previuos post.

February 13th, 2008, 7:36 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex is arguing with me over email.

(I’m winning)

😉

February 13th, 2008, 7:36 pm

 

norman said:

QN, I doubt it.

February 13th, 2008, 7:49 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Norman, me too.

February 13th, 2008, 7:56 pm

 

norman said:

look at this,

from the February 14, 2008 edition – http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0214/p01s03-wome.html
Hizbullah leader’s death in Syria could trigger retaliation

Imad Mughnieh, suspected of planning kidnappings, hijacking, and attacks in Beirut during the 1980s and ’90s, was killed in Damascus Tuesday night.
By Nicholas Blanford | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Beirut, Lebanon
A shadowy senior Hizbullah commander, thought to have masterminded spectacular terrorist attacks in the 1980s, was killed Tuesday in a Damascus car bombing that will almost certainly trigger a retaliation from the militant Shiite group.

Imad Mughnieh’s legendary militant credentials, which are thought to include attacks on the US Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, made him a prime American and Israeli target for decades and a significant figure in the arsenal of Hizbullah, the Islamist political and guerrilla force that Washington calls a terrorist organization. Analysts say that with Mr. Mughnieh out of the picture, Hizbullah has lost a key asset in its ability to strike in Lebanon or the region.

“This is as big a blow as it gets for Hizbullah security. It’s even bigger than killing [Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah,” says Magnus Ranstorp, a Hizbullah specialist and research director at the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defense College in Stockholm.

Mughnieh, in his mid-40s, was accused of killing more Americans than any other militant before the 9/11 attacks, and the bombings and kidnappings he is alleged to have organized are credited with ending American intervention in Lebanon under the Reagan administration.

He is believed to have overseen the April 1983 suicide bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut and, six months later, the twin suicide truck-bomb attacks against the US Marine barracks and the French paratroop headquarters in Beirut, acts that killed nearly 400 people.

As of Wednesday morning, no one had claimed responsibility for his death. But many in Lebanon and Syria blamed Israel, who is believed to have carried out these sorts of targeted assassinations in Beirut and Damascus before.

The late-night blast Tuesday tore apart Mughnieh’s car, which was parked near an Iranian school in the Damascus suburb of Kfar Soussa. Syrian authorities have only confirmed that one person died in the blast.

Mohammed Habash, a Syrian Islamist lawmaker, said that Damascus needed more time to conduct an investigation before commenting publicly. “Israel is always aggressive and doesn’t respect international laws and norms and it has proved in the past that it doesn’t respect countries’ sovereignty, whether in Palestine, Lebanon, or Syria.”

Hizbullah confirmed Mughnieh’s death early Wednesday morning. “With all due pride, we declare a great jihadist leader of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon joining the martyrs,” said a statement carried by Hizbullah’s Al Manar television channel.

“This is a personal loss for Nasrallah,” says Robert Baer, an ex-Central Intelligence Agency officer who tracked Mughnieh in the 1980s. “[Nasrallah and Mughnieh] are basically the ones who made Hizbullah, in the sense of driving the West out [of Lebanon] in the 1980s, then turning that power against the Israelis” occupying south Lebanon.

Israel denied responsibility for Mughnieh’s death, but Israeli officials greeted his demise with joy. Danny Yatom, former director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, called the assassination “a great achievement for the free world in its fight against terror.”

Analysts say that a retaliation from Hizbullah is inevitable. When Israel assassinated Sheikh Abbas Mussawi, then Hizbullah leader, in February 1992, the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was blown up a month later, killing 29 people in a revenge operation alleged to have been planned by Mughnieh himself.

“This is something that Hizbullah cannot let pass. Mughnieh was too much of a symbol,” says Timur Goksel, lecturer on international relations in Beirut and a former United Nations official in south Lebanon. “I don’t think Hizbullah will go for a big bombing, probably an assassination of a high profile target.”

Mughnieh’s death comes amid rising tensions in Lebanon as the country prepares to mark the third anniversary of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination in a Valentine’s Day truck bomb blast in 2005. Hizbullah is organizing a large funeral for Mughnieh Thursday afternoon, even as a huge turnout is expected in Beirut to commemorate Mr. Hariri’s death.

While Israel and the US top the list of suspects behind Mughnieh’s death, some Lebanese were quick to point a finger of blame at Damascus.

“It could have been the Syrians,” says Walid Jumblatt, an outspoken member of the anti-Syrian March 14 parliamentary coalition. “Damascus is well protected, and I don’t think somebody else could do it.”

Some analysts suggest that Damascus may have seen advantage in delivering up Mughnieh to his enemies to curry favor with the US at a time when Syria is under intense international pressure. While America’s $25 million reward for Mughnieh is a potential motive, the imminent establishment of an international tribunal to judge Hariri’s killers also may have spurred Damascus’s leadership to cooperate with the Americans over Mughnieh. Syria is widely suspected of involvement in Hariri’s death.

Mughnieh was born in 1962 in the southern Lebanese village of Teir Dibba. He grew up in Beirut’s southern suburbs where as a teenager he joined Force 17, the elite unit of the Fatah faction headed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

After Israeli forces expelled the Palestinians from Beirut during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Mughnieh joined a group of Shiite Islamists then coalescing under Iran’s guidance in the Bekaa Valley. The group became Hizbullah and Mughnieh, despite his youth, was considered one of its most capable figures.

In addition to the 1983 attacks in Beirut, in 1985 Mughnieh led the hijacking of a TWA airliner in Beirut in which a US Navy diver was killed. He is also alleged to have run the networks of kidnappers who snatched dozens of foreigners in Beirut in the mid- to late 1980s.

“The man was a murderer and murdered people who had nothing to do with Lebanon,” says Mr. Baer, the former CIA officer. “But at the same time, he believed he was fighting an anti-Colonial war. He was a disciplined soldier in a manageable war, unlike Al Qaeda, which is completely unmanageable.”

• Julien Barnes-Dacey contributed reporting from Damascus, Syria.
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February 13th, 2008, 8:05 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Saad al-Hariri is being interviewed now. Relevant bits from his talk (courtesy of Naharnet):

– “My feeling is that the opposition still wants Michel Suleiman for president. Aoun told me that.”

– Hariri said he proposed three 10s formula is a question form in talks with Moussa and Aoun, but the opposition refused to approve the election of Suleiman for president.

– It was an innocent question about the three 10s formula, but they shifted to discussing cabinet portfolios and public sector posts, Hariri added.

– We do not accept to discuss cabinet portfolios prior to presidential elections, Hariri said.

– Michel Aoun still wants to be president, Hariri charged.

– Hariri said: I gave away my right to the one-third share and my right to the half share in favor of a national unity government, let them make just one concession.

February 13th, 2008, 8:36 pm

 

Atassi said:

Yea offended Yea Habib.. YeaGalli..What stupid about it!! it’s more appalling than your Nonsense.. READ what I said carefully “three times please since you are slow “and it should make sense to you

February 13th, 2008, 9:35 pm

 

Alex said:

Offended,

Last time I apologized for my friend Atassi because I was rude to him.

I won’t do it again. 3ala rasi all the Atassis.

But, of course I do not agree with his opinion above:

1) following that logic, then the Syrians should kill both Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad since they both “know too much”

2) We are told that the man most likely used to live in Damascus, or at least used to visit Damascus quite often.

I seriously doubt Syria killed him … while there is considerable backing to blaming Syria for some of the assassinated politicians who worked against Syria (or against the Syrian regime if you are not a fan of them) … I don’t know of many friends that Bashar killed the past 7 years. Can you give me a few examples? .. without any of the al-syassa creative stories please.

February 13th, 2008, 10:05 pm

 

Ghassan said:

Here’s my theory:
Syria recognized that the International Tribunal is coming and it wants to eliminate anyone who can connect the assassination of Hariri to the Asad clan (Bashar, Maher and Asef). To the Asad clan everyone else is dispensable!
I think that Mughenieh was one of the planner of the Hariri assassination and that’s why he was eliminated.
When the Tribunal starts its questioning, all fingers will point to Mughanieh and the Asad clan is saved!!!
By the way, don’t be surprised that Roustum Ghazaleh commits suicide by 2 shots to his head.

February 13th, 2008, 10:51 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

President Bush has just authorized new sanctions on Syria:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/02/20080213-7.html

February 13th, 2008, 10:53 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

This assassination is a set up for HA to retaliate while achieving the goal of eliminating a person high on the most-wanted person with a $25M bounty on his head. It is worthy to say that this human target was available for assassination for a long time (no hard evidence that I am able to provide). But there has never been a more opportune moment to kill him as there was one now.

If HA retaliates, it will be because it swallowed the bait.

Let’s see; the current impasse in Lebanon can only be solved if one side completely capitulate. Can anyone envision a real lasting solution with the two current opposing parties?

The conventional hawkish wisdom prevailing here in DC is that HA must be completely obliterated before any settlement is reached in Lebanon. After all, there are only 9 short months left to complete the Lord’s work. M14 clans are being promised a victory coming soon.

While I still believe that there is not master grand conspiracy anywhere, this assassination, unfortunately, could trigger some unpredictable consequences never imagined by its original designers, yet again.

February 13th, 2008, 10:56 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ford Prefect,

You may be right about the prevailing wisdom in Washington.

But I don’t believe that obliterating Hizbullah is even a remote possibility, nor is it impossible to envision a solution to the crisis that is not a 100% win for one side. In fact, I think that all of the build-up on both sides has been designed to prevent such an outcome.

My guess is that HA will bide its time, and (as Blanford or Ranstorp said, I can’t remember which one), it will take its revenge out on a very high profile Israeli or US target. They probably know better than to get sucked into another conflict which will only damage their standing in Lebanon. The first time was tolerable, when it was coupled with the “divine victory”. The second time around will not be as palatable to the thousands who are displaced all over again, losing family members, etc.

February 13th, 2008, 11:29 pm

 

Alex said:

FP and QN

I don’t think HA or Syria will retaliate for anything … they are waiting for the lovely Bush administration to leave … and the neocons and Israelis and “arab moderates” and M14 leaders know it .. so they are going to try again and again to get HA or Syria to make a serious mistake and retaliate.

So far we had

– Israeli strike on Deir Ezzore
– Yesterday’s assassination in Damascus
– Jumblatt’s weekly attempts to make Nasrallah’s blood boil, or to – irritate Bashar
– President Bush’s quarterly progressive sanctions

Let’s see what they will do next … I think they have a few more ideas…. we still have 9 months of trouble making to go.

February 13th, 2008, 11:36 pm

 
 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
The point is, that if Syria does not retaliate then the US policy will be seen as the correct one and be adopted by the next administration. Syria is in a bind that it will not get out of easy. If you decide to take on the world’s only super power, you better know what you are doing.

February 13th, 2008, 11:54 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

The way they see it in Syria: we are experienced enough to not fall for their irritations.

Things are not going n hte direction you described.

This week the following visitors met with Assad in Damascus:

1) prime minister of Kuwait who announced his wish to see his country much closer to Syria

http://www.sana.sy/gallery.html?&do=showpicserv&pid=34442&orderby=&newlang=ara

2) Brazilian foreign minister

http://www.sana.sy/gallery.html?&do=showpicserv&pid=34406&orderby=&newlang=ara

3) Foreign minister of Austria

http://www.sana.sy/gallery.html?&do=showpicserv&pid=34118&orderby=&newlang=ara

4) Rand corp delegation with Obama’s foreign policy adviser, Zbignew Brzezinski

http://www.sana.sy/gallery.html?&do=showpicserv&pid=34513&orderby=&newlang=ara

5) Foreign minister of Holland
http://www.sana.sy/gallery.html?&do=showpicserv&pid=33321&orderby=&newlang=ara

6) and the Syrian first lady spent the week with teh Queen of spain:

http://www.sana.sy/gallery.html?&do=showpicserv&pid=33792&orderby=&newlang=ara

The whole world is waiting for this administration to leave.

Including most of the American people who want … change.

February 14th, 2008, 12:04 am

 

Wassim said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy,
That’s quite funny, “superpower”. I take it you think that means something.

February 14th, 2008, 12:04 am

 

Alex said:

AL-Syassa did not have time yet to write a full comedy piece, but they managed this last sentence for today:

اما عمة الشهيد, فايزة مغنية التي ارتدت ثيابا سوداء, وحملت بيدها مصحفا, وهي تقف باكية امام منزلها, قالت “فوجئنا بمقتله في سورية, حيث كنا نعتبره محميا هناك”, مشيرة الى انه من “الغريب ان يقتل في دمشق”.

http://www.alseyassah.com/news_details.asp?nid=4566&snapt=%C7%E1%CF%E6%E1%ED%C9

February 14th, 2008, 12:17 am

 

Enlightened said:

Having slept through all this (living in Aus and the Time Difference), I am pondering my thoughts of two days ago and the discussion I had with QN about the possibility of of civil war in Lebanon two days ago.

So this is the first hit on a Senior Hezb member. The funeral will coincide with the Harriri assassination on the 14th! How will the respective protagonists behave?

Norman mentioned earlier that his Death might be exaggerated, others suggest on other blogs that this smells of an inside job, and many are perplexed that the hit was carried out in a highly sensitive area within Damascus.

Anyway the potential consequences, for the next two days and the mood on the streets of Beirut might just provide the necessary powder keg for emotions from both sides to get out of hand. It is now a waiting game to see which side blinks first, and a real test for the Lebanese army to control the day. My gut feeling tells me that something big will happen and will spiral out of control.

On a side note I can just picture the smug feeling that Jumblatt would have got when he received the news. This news ( Mugnai’s death) would be particularly devastating for the Hezb leadership after having a vast security overhaul after Mussawis assassination, their security measures have been breached. I wonder what the Sayyed would be thinking right now?

February 14th, 2008, 12:20 am

 

nafdik said:

Thx Ehsani2,

I have been reading occasionally and in particular enjoyed your articles about the latest boom in Syria’s economy. Now I know that if
I go to Damascus I better get my Gucci shoes with me.

February 14th, 2008, 12:42 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex said:

I don’t think HA or Syria will retaliate for anything … they are waiting for the lovely Bush administration to leave

Alex,

Things will be better once Bush is out. But, provided that the region can get through the next nine months in one piece, it will take a lot of time for Asad to establish his trust in the next American administration and vice versa provided that it’s even a possibility in the first place. Basically, if either McCain or Hillary is elected, you can probably imagine a continuation of the status quo, at least for a couple of years. Obama is the only real hope for a change in U.S.-Syrian relations, and that would still be a few years away.

So, then, what happens in the meantime? The regional situation is not sustainable. If things continue going in this direction without some measures to release the steam, we are going to have a civil war in Lebanon, and this will quickly become a regional conflagration. Do you think this is preferable to Syria than to try to alleviate things in the short term?

Asad can’t keep waiting for a new dealer; he needs to play a card or two before they are burned. This waiting game is going to backfire if Lebanon goes under, and Bashar should know now that Damascus will not be spared. One by one, we could see Syria’s “cards” go up in smoke — Mughniyya, Mishaal, others perhaps, just like we saw M14’s roster start shrinking. He needs to take his foot off the brakes, and make a move.

(I think I’ve managed about 46 mixed metaphors in that last paragraph, so I’ll quit while I’m ahead).

February 14th, 2008, 12:50 am

 

Ford Prefect said:

QN, Yes, of course. Eliminating HA militarily exists only in the crocked minds of some ultra unilateralist, armchair ideologues in Washington. So, I agree that the possibility for such a happening is next to nil.

However, I think you said that it is possible to envision a solution to the current standoff while either side remain standing? How so? Keen in knowing your thoughts in this regard.

I think the conflict we see today – while it is related to the current regional conflicts to some degree, is also tightly-coupled to the fundamentally flawed confessional system they call “democracy” in Lebanon. Almost 30 years after the end of the civil war that was caused by such a system, few, if any, Lebanese leaders ever had the courage to fight such an ugly system.

Alex, I think you are right. Both HA and Syria will not retaliate – if one would assume for a second that they have a sliver of rationality somewhere.

I think this assassination has another dimension as well: drive a serious wedge between HA and Syria – just like the Hariri assassination did to Syrian and Lebanese bed fellows.

Sources are telling me that a finger-pointing exchange is occurring between the two. HA is very upset with someone in Syria at this moment – Israel notwithstanding.

February 14th, 2008, 1:02 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Wisdom will prevail, strategy is the smart thing, not emotion, Syria will and can retaliate,and the enemy will get more frustrated and angry, the retaliation will come by opening the way to Iraq to the mujahidin, this will foil their plans, and they will bite their teeths,and their lips, as someone wise said,never say publicly what you intend to do.

February 14th, 2008, 1:06 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

FP,

I want to know your sources! Most interesting…

Lebanon will not tolerate a winner-take-all result in the standoff. Now, of course, both sides will claim that they “won”, on the day that we finally get some deal. But, if one side can legitimately impose its will fully on the other, we are going to war. The zu`ama (on either side) will not be able to survive the shame of such a defeat. They would rather drag Lebanon into the abyss than be made fools of by their colleagues.

We have to distinguish two different “solutions” when we talk about an end to the crisis. There is the long-view solution which involves addressing all of the systemic, structural problems that everyone always talks about (de-centralization of municipalities, new electoral law, a bicameral system, election commission, etc.) and are hinted at in the Ta’if Accord.

But in the short term, there is a clear solution, and it has already been accepted by one side. I’m talking about the Arab League initiative. Hariri has already “hypothetically” accepted the 10-10-10 arrangement in public provided that the opposition doesn’t try to piggyback a bunch of additional guarantees on top of it, like agreement on PM, security posts etc. We have a presidential candidate that people can agree on (Suleiman), a cabinet arrangement that is literally equitable to all sides (10-10-10), and a very limited period of time before the next parliamentary elections.

This is a perfect no-loser scenario, and if Aoun and Nasrallah are so confident about their chances in the next elections, then why are they waffling? The answer lies in Damascus (and Rabieh).

The Arab league proposal is the ideal short-term fix for Lebanon, but it’s obvious not the deal that Bashar wants, and thinks he can get.

February 14th, 2008, 1:13 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Nafdik,

You must indeed pack your Gucci shoes & Prada shirts before you hit the Z Bar

February 14th, 2008, 1:16 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
As you know, it is always the special ed student that has the most teachers.

February 14th, 2008, 1:28 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Even Michael Young believes that

Hariri’s murder is not a battering ram
Daily Star
Feb 14, 2008

There was alarm when Walid Jumblatt used the word “war” in a statement on Sunday in Baaqlin. The Druze leader’s words were harsh, even if he did not say that he welcomed war, but only made his willingness to fight one conditional on the opposition’s wanting war. But Lebanon has been split by a cold civil war for over a year now, and as the country commemorates the third anniversary of Rafik Hariri’s assassination today, Jumblatt’s rhetoric may have, paradoxically, helped stabilize the situation – even if stabilization remains a relative concept.

The assassination in Damascus of Imad Mughniyeh, whatever its larger implications, may actually bolster this modest stability. Hizbullah’s leadership will likely need time to assess where it is, and what Mughniyeh’s killing means for the party and its relations with Tehran.

Jumblatt surely calculated what he said based on a reading of the mood in Saudi Arabia and Russia, countries which he visited recently and that support the Arab League plan to elect General Michel Suleiman president. This must have made the Syrians perk up, particularly when Jumblatt said that Moscow had decided to pay into the fund for the Hariri tribunal. But the Druze leader, you have to suspect, was also sending a message to the Iranians, which went something like this: “Do you want your prize investment, Hizbullah, to be shattered by a Lebanese civil conflict?”

[read the rest]

February 14th, 2008, 1:41 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

Khaled Meshaal is unlikely to get much sleep for a while

February 14th, 2008, 1:52 am

 

Ford Prefect said:

QN,
The “10-10-10” solution has a very slight chance of surviving. And if it does, it will be a short-term survival at best. Here is why.

The opposition has come to the conclusion that the unknown 10 – appointed directly by the Prez – are too much of a risk to accept at this time (They observed that a certain neutrality observed in one individual seemed to be shifting towards the un-neutral).

The opposition also figured that some of those 10 unknown ministers would be most likely available for sale to the highest bidder after being appointed. After all, most of the zu3ma in Lebanon are up for sale to the highest bidder. (Note: bidders could be offering ideology, money, and/or influence via military power.)

But history is also telling the opposition that at the end of the day, money is the ultimate buyer – as ideologies and military powers are constantly shifting. And when it comes to sheer purchasing power, buying souls within 1000 miles radius from Beirut – ranging from a French President to high ranking Syrian military and intelligence officers, to politicians and ending with average people (through tanks of olive oil!), no one can compete with a very well known name in that field.

It is very unlikely that the opposition will accept anything that will compromise its livelihood – such as a government that will pass a law threatening its very survival. To them, this is an existential struggle and not a political musical chair party.

In addition, commentators here have written about Syria and its desire to thwart anything in Lebanon that could lead to the establishment of an international tribunal. While I agree with this notion, Syria, holistically speaking, cannot allow (while it still can) the establishment of hostile government in Lebanon. A government composed mainly by the M14 supporters is a direct national security threat to Syria for obvious reasons. Again, such a struggle for Syria is also existential in nature – tribunal notwithstanding.

In summary, I am theorizing that the current standoff in Lebanon is so deep, so complicated, and so existential that it cannot be solved by the same minds that originally created it. And it is certainly much deeper than a “10-10-10” compromise.

Finally, my sources are telling me not to tell on them. I am sure you understand QN, don’t you? 😉

Here is some more juice for entertainment purposes: It appears that certain individuals are trying to avert any escalation resulting from the “finger pointing” currently underway between someone at HA and someone in Syria. Further, sources point to some mounting unease about unfulfilled promises to HA of security and serenity in Damascus. Is there an unfounded sense of betrayal? Maybe.

February 14th, 2008, 3:06 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alex said –

I don’t think HA or Syria will retaliate for anything … they are waiting for the lovely Bush administration to leave … and the neocons and Israelis and “arab moderates” and M14 leaders know it ..

Alex,

Right. And when “the lovely Bush administration” leaves, that is when the HA or Syria will retaliate.

Once again, you prove my point.

And, BTW, if this is the “Change” Obama wants, I’ll make sure he doesn’t get it. That’s democracy.

February 14th, 2008, 3:13 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ford Prefect,

I agree with your analysis entirely, and there have been many posts to this effect, over the past few months.

However, I feel that the stakes are not as high as people are making them out to be. I guess I don’t believe that the M14 people have the ability to muscle anything through the parliament that could serve as a real leash on HA, in the short term prior to the 2009 elections, when the slate is wiped clean. We’re talking about a year and a half, and if there is one thing that HA has proven since 2005, it’s that it is the biggest, most unified, most disciplined, and most powerful single party in Lebanon. They can’t be disarmed easily… this will take a long time, and will require a much larger, indeed comprehensive, framework.

As for the Tribunal, again I think this has a momentum of its own. Even a veto-wielding HA bloc will not really be able to stop it from moving forward, in the near term.

So my point is that the stakes are not sufficiently life-threatening for HA or Syria as to make it impossible for them to compromise. And we’ve seen that M14 has climbed down a fair amount already from their initial position, so …

… a 10-10-10 scenario isn’t ideal for anyone, but that’s the whole nature of democratic compromise. And it beats civil war, anarchy, chaos, etc.

Here’s to optimism.

February 14th, 2008, 3:54 am

 

Ford Prefect said:

Qifa Nabki,
Hear hear for your dignified optimism! My genuine optimism is coming from the true will of the people in America where a sane and rational president (Clinton or Obama) will finally get elected. If voter turn out is any indication, the junta that hijacked the Republican Party will finally get a nice kick in its rear end.

The dark days of lawlessness and incompetence are finally coming to close. While a village in Texas will finally get back its lost clown, the world will come back to respect America for its true values.

February 14th, 2008, 4:05 am

 

Alex said:

AP,

When the lovely Bush administration leaves, Syria hopes to get an American president who is willing to talk .. about solutions … that’s all.

Honestly, forget our typical competitive discussions here… do you really believe that the Syrians are stupid enough to … “retaliate” when some one like Obama or Clinton become the next president??

You expect them to destroy their chances with the next administration for the next 4 or 8 years simply so that they can retaliate?

The Syrians are meeting now in Damascus with Zbignew Brzezinski to start planning their moves towards a peaceful settlement from almost day 1 of the Obama administration.

Nothing that Israel will not like … it is based on the same settlement that they almost finalized with Prime minister Rabin before he was shot… based on UN resolutions.

I really hope and expect that you will be happy with the results.

QN and Ford Prefect,

I have no doubt that there will be some heated discussions now between HA and Damascus about what happened and whose fault was it.

But it will not get beyond a heated discussion.

Now let me tell you about the editor of the creative Kuwaiti newspaper Assyasa who appeared on Al-Arabiya satellite TV station (Saudi Owned) tonight

He was asked “who did it”?

his answer:

Three possibilities

1) Israel did it .. and that shows that the Syrian regime is very weak and it failed completely in providing security in Syria.

2) Imad was preparing a car bomb to be delivered to Beirut to explode into the Hariri remembrance crowd tomorrow, killing large numbers .. but the bomb exploded by mistake.

3) Syria killed him to get something in return.

And he was almost sure it was the thirs option.

So we know already what the next edition of Assyassa will tell us.

February 14th, 2008, 4:31 am

 

Jay said:

[comments removed]

Jay,

You are welcome to participate here provided you do not insult anyone on this forum.

Alex.

February 14th, 2008, 4:36 am

 

The Assassination of Imad Moghanyah « The Arc of History said:

[…] For more, check out these posts on Middle East Strategy at Harvard, Syria Comment and War and Piece. […]

February 14th, 2008, 5:14 am

 

Youssef Hanna said:

Hassan Nasrallah did well, from his standpoint, a few months ago, by finally, though lately, accusing Israel of the assassination of M14 politicians/journalists (though he blew it up partly by declaring during his recent interview with Aoun that his was a siyaasiyya, not amniyya, declaration).

The position he had first adopted indeed for over two years, that he must wait until the results of the investigation are known and a trial takes place, did not fit with his earlier attitude, repeated today regarding the Damascus explosion, of designating Israel for car bombings occurring in Daa7ia or in Baalbeck and targeting Hezbollah militants, before any investigation/trial.

Immediately fingering Israel when he suspects it’s Israel that did it tends to prove that he took a couple of years to finally doing it regarding the assassination of M14 politicians/journalists because he thought it was not Israel that did it, neither any enemy of his.

Hassan is one i wd add to the cohort of those who know deep inside who did it.

February 14th, 2008, 5:43 am

 

why-discuss said:

And if the man killed is not the real Emad Mughniyeh? What proof do we have except the syrian forensics? How trustworthy are they? and if this was a brilliant act to protect a leading and wanted commander forever from the pursuits of the CIA, Mossad etc… It was said that he even went through plastic surgery to change his face. Maybe Emad Mughniyeh has now a new identity, maybe the one he took from the dead man found in the blowed up car.
Why would Israel denies its involvement when they have no problems killing the Hamas leaders in Palestine?. What are they worried about?International comdamnation? They did not care about it when they bombed a doubtful target in Syria this year. Unless they also doubt about Mughniyeh real death…

February 14th, 2008, 9:10 am

 

offended said:

I am sorry Attasi, I didn’t mean to be rude.

Stupid like in ‘unacceptable’…

February 14th, 2008, 11:38 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Nothing that Israel will not like … it is based on the same settlement that they almost finalized with Prime minister Rabin before he was shot… based on UN resolutions.

Alex –

The Syrian-Israeli talks did not break down due to Rabin’s murder.

You can drop that “straw man” as fast as you created it (link below).

The rejectionists and the terror supporters had their chances with Jimmy Carter, Bush Sr. (Baker), and eight years of Clinton. That’s a sizeable “data point”. In return, we got hostages in Iran, a first attempt to blow up the WTC, the successful planning of the same, a Iraqi madman threatening the entire region, a Libyan WMD program, a huge Syrian grip over Lebanon and massive rebuilding of the Hezbollah, and no peace with the Palestinians.

I’m afraid another 4 years of a liberal US administration will not “change” things for the better for the US. My prediction (based on recent history) is that things would bode for the worse. Unfortunately, there are too many Americans who aren’t aware of this.

With all that, I remain optimistic. If Americans want to forget 9-11 and its implications, they will soon find out again what happens when you let down your guard in the face of Islamic extremism, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.

http://archives.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/meast/01/10/mideast.talks.01/index.html

February 14th, 2008, 12:48 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

few says ago we heared that there was an earthquake in Syria, today major one south of greece , power 6.7.it looks there are more to come.
Lebanese leaders,making very loud speeches, Marjaleh type, at the end of the day wisdom prevailed.
there are many people will loose sleep in the future, some east , and some south of Lebanon.

Major changes are long overdue,in the middle east.

February 14th, 2008, 2:11 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Isn’t it just a little bit suspicious that Imad Mughniyya was assassinated by “Israel” two days before the Feb 14 rally? Isn’t that just a little bit too convenient, for Hizbullah? The result was that everyone in Lebanon felt bad for HA, and it stole the thunder away from Hariri’s commemoration.

Hmmm…..

Wait a minute!! This must mean that Hizbullah is responsible for cannibalizing itself!

Just kidding; sounds ridiculous, no? (hint hint, IDAF) 😉

(Maybe Syria was also responsible for the rain, which suited Mughniyya’s somber funeral, but totally washed out the M14 rally).

February 14th, 2008, 2:45 pm

 

Atassi said:

offended
Your apology excepted. Please keep in mind, rebutting is the best tool used by this discussions group, invalidating with disrespect never worked. Thanks

February 14th, 2008, 3:15 pm

 

Alex said:

Poor Amin Gemayiel … he was disoriented (the rain? .. the winds?) .. he said something like:

“we will not stop until we elect our hero .. General Michel Aoun”

Total silence in the crowd

“I mean General Michel Sleiman”

February 14th, 2008, 3:50 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

HA! That’s priceless.

Meanwhile, across town, Sheikh Na’im Qassem said:

“And noooowwwwww, ya ikhwaaaaaaaan, put your hands together for the one, the only, the pride of the divine resistance, Sayyid Nasraalllllaaaaahhhh Sfeir!”

oops

February 14th, 2008, 3:54 pm

 

Observer said:

Just a question for the bloggers: No body peeped anything when the square building was bomber on the Euphartes river September 6 2007. No comment from anyone. Yet, immediately after a car explodes in Syria with one body removed quickly by the internal security services, HA declares that Mughniah was killed and are threatening retaliation against Israel. Was he really killed? Why announce his death immediately and not keep it a secret? Especially since he was killed in Damascus not in Lebanon. After all, the authorities in both Syria and in collaboration with HA could have kept the whole incident under wraps. They could have blamed Salafists, criminal gangs, whatever. Can someone explain to me why the immediate advertisement.

Does this bombing conicide with the Jumblatt rethoric incidental or is it part of a new offensive? Are the new US sanctions against unnamed Syrian authority figures part of a new coordinated offensive or just part of the course of things? Does this play into the Arab Summit in March?

If the killing is truly that of Mughniah then this represents a significant breach of security for both HA and the Syrians. Knowing that the HA have better and more secure system, I would assume that the breach occured through the Syrian side due mainly to incompetence.

February 14th, 2008, 4:01 pm

 

Alex said:

Alright .. here is the moment we were all waiting for.

Al-Syassa just published its version of what happened.

Enjoy … and learn.

Syria Behind Mughniyah Assassination – Kuwaiti
2008-02-14 11:16 (New York)

Text of report by Kuwaiti newapaper Al-Siyasah website on 14 February

[“Exclusive” report: “Asif Shawkat Meets Mughniyah Shortly Before Kfar
Susah Blast”]

Al-Siyasah has learned from very confidential sources that a secret
security meeting was held at the Iranian School in Kfar Susah area in Syria where the blast took place last Tuesday [ 12 February]. The meeting was attended by Military Intelligence Chief Major General Asif Shawkat and a number of Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad leaders, in addition to Imad Mughniyah and Khalid Mish’al. The meeting was intended to plan for striking at several targets in some Arab states should the Arab leaders refuse to attend the next Arab summit in Damascus.

The sources did not rule out that the meeting was a cover-up for a
trap set to target and assassinate Imad Mughniyah and dispel suspicion that the Syrian intelligence was behind the incident, especially since remarks made by circles close to the [Syrian] regime said that Asif Shawkat, who was slightly injured, was the target. This baseless allegation aimed at distancing the Syrian regime from being behind the liquidation.

It is worth noting that the assassination occurred days after a group calling itself Hurras Suriyah [Syria’s guards] issued a statement in which it warned the forces of the Syrian-Iranian axis against continuing to insult the Lebanese and Syrian peoples. This group also announced that it will lie in wait for any behaviour by the ruling clique in Damascus and will seek to secure justice for the Syrian people if the international community fails to do its duty or endeavours to strike a deal with the dictator regime that upholds terrorism.

Originally published by Al-Siyasah website, Kuwait, in Arabic 14 Feb
08.

February 14th, 2008, 4:22 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Robert Baer, ex-CIA agent, according to Sy Hersh “”was considered perhaps the best on-the-ground field officer in the Middle East”, and is regularly cited on SC as a knowledgeable and trustworthy source.

He has this to say about Mughniyya:

“An old friend of mine. Friend may not be the word. Anyhow the Israelis persuaded him to set off a car bomb in a Damascus bus station. He used the Guardians of the Cedars, paid them something like $200,000. Bomb went off as requested. Point two is Syria these days is completely corrupt, you buy what you want.”

FLC

February 14th, 2008, 5:38 pm

 

MSK said:

Dear QN-

The square was pretty packed, but we’ll have to wait a day or two to get reasonable numbers. I highly doubt the organizers’ claim that 1 million were on the square and another half million in the surrounding streets. But the turn-out was still massive & definitely larger than last year.

Most of us in Beirut are quite happy about the rain as it all but guaranteed that there would be no clashes. In addition, the army was deployed everywhere. I am still impressed by how nice and good-natured the Lebanese soldiers are. Today, friends of mine needed to go from Ashrafieh to Hamra and while they were in a Service they had to go through loads of checkpoints and take detours – and the soldiers were always smiling and polite. And on the square, even in the middle of pushing and shoving crowds, the security people never became hostile. What a difference to, say, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi, the Gulf or, yes, Syria.

As for the washout – everyone stayed until the beginning of the speeches & then started to leave. That’s always the case at M14 rallies, though. Most people don’t stay for the speeches. And while people started leaving from the square, others kept arriving …

–MSK*

February 14th, 2008, 5:40 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

MSK,

Thanks for the on-the-scene reporting. The rain was a blessing.

And yes, the soldiers, they are salt of the earth.

February 14th, 2008, 5:43 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Hariri said Syrian regime is product of Israel.
Nasrallah said M14 bosses are puppets of Israel.

February 14th, 2008, 6:18 pm

 

MSK said:

Dear QN-

Actually, the weirdest thing for me is still seeing previous enemies standing next to each other – like the shabab with Fatah kuffiyat walking through Gemmayzeh on their way to the square, along walls plastered with LF posters and along hundreds of LF supporters with Geagea & Bashir Gemayel pictures, or PSP next to LF etc.

Of course, the ones always taking the cake are the Murabitoun – big Nasser placards in 2008 are just … too Monty Python to be taken seriously.

–MSK*

February 14th, 2008, 6:44 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Alex Said:

Poor Amin Gemayiel … he was disoriented (the rain? .. the winds?) .. he said something like:

“we will not stop until we elect our hero .. General Michel Aoun”

Total silence in the crowd

“I mean General Michel Sleiman”

Qifa Nabki said:

HA! That’s priceless.

Meanwhile, across town, Sheikh Na’im Qassem said:

“And noooowwwwww, ya ikhwaaaaaaaan, put your hands together for the one, the only, the pride of the divine resistance, Sayyid Nasraalllllaaaaahhhh Sfeir!”

oops

I missed the whole thing last night was too tired and slept, thanks for the comedy guys, I laughed hard! I thank god the Rain came it was a cleansing and sober experience by all your accounts. You just have to say that these politicians take themselves way too seriously.

I saw a comic sketch on the 10 last things that Imad Mugniyah said just as the explosion went off in his car on the net yesterday, I thought it might be too provocative to paste it hear.

February 14th, 2008, 10:01 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Enlightened, what worried the crowd the most about Amin Gemayiel’s speech was not his slip of the tongue. People were seriously concerned about his hair being messed up in the rain.

No one will ever want to be next to Sheikh Amin when he is having a bad hair day.

Jumblatt and Ja3ja3, meanwhile, were wondering what the heck is all this fuss about? Their hair was just fine.

February 14th, 2008, 11:06 pm

 

offended said:

Well FP, the situation is quite hairy indeed. ; )

February 14th, 2008, 11:25 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

LOL! It sure is – no amount of burnt sugar will ever clean it up 😉

February 14th, 2008, 11:32 pm

 

Enlightened said:

FP, Offended;

“Yes quite interesting just as well Gegegea and Jumblatt do not wear Toupees , that would have been quite funny, I didnt miss the Monty Python bit about the Maribitoun!

Looks like they making a comeback? Whats their status in the political arena for those that know?

All we need is a John Cleese type of figure to turn this charade into a “Life of Brian ” type of satirical sketch”

Any photos of “Pierre gemayel displayed” (The founder of Kataeb)?

February 14th, 2008, 11:43 pm

 

Friend in America said:

I regret the time zones between the ME and America are so many. I always seem to be late. My conversations today have yielded nothing to what has been reported, so my contribution is only some thoughts.
Who is behind the assasination? Two hypotheses suggested here are of note: Stevenson’s reasoning on his blog, suggesting an Isreal-U.S.-Lebanon joint effort (a better expression than conspiracy). This hypothesis has problems, one of which is the difficulty to keep a political secret in each of these countries and another a possible over estimation of the capacity of Lebanonese intelligence.

The second hypothesis is the remarkable Al-Syassah story published in Alex’s comment at 4:22 PM, which I interpret as putting the finger on Syrian operatives. There are credibility problems here also: would Iran/Syria really commit violence in various Arab countries simply for not attending the Damascus meeting? That is too far fetched (unless the leaders in the other Arab countries already fear something sinister at the Damascus summit). Is this story is a false lead meant to divert attention away from the real actors? Maybe. And, why would these “plotters” go after Mughniyeh?

There is a third hypothesis, no stranger than the first two. Consider: the car bomb has the footprint of Al Quada; Bin Laden’s letter last fall stated an intention to become more active in Palestine and neighboring countries; there have been concerns in 2007 in Lebanon about Al Quada operatives in that country and Syria also; a significant number of Palestinian and Lebanese men were trained in northwest Pakistan in 2007 – where are they now? Now that the war in Iraq has been lost for Al Quada Bin Laden’s attention has turned elsewhere.
How does this assassination fit into the scenario? Bin Laden needs a militarist base for terrorism in Palestine and Israel. Hezbollah is unsuitable because it is Shia and will stick with Iran. Who else? The Islamic Jihad is a good start. This group has a history of bold strokes of terrorism, but now it is small and severely weakened; it is vulnerable to offers of money and training, increased its ranks with fighters and becoming inspired to rejuvenate its jihad, first against Hamas, then against Israel. To gain control Mughniyeh had to be removed. This creates turmoil and a leadership crisis.

Let me be clear – I have no evidence to corroborate this hypothesis, But ever since Bin Laden’s letter there has been speculation as to how he will get a “foothold” in the Palestinian scene. This is one way. Leave this on the table together with the other hypotheses until more reliable information is made public.

February 15th, 2008, 3:40 am

 

Alex said:

Qifa Nabki said:

“Asad can’t keep waiting for a new dealer; he needs to play a card or two before they are burned. This waiting game is going to backfire if Lebanon goes under, and Bashar should know now that Damascus will not be spared. One by one, we could see Syria’s “cards” go up in smoke — Mughniyya, Mishaal, others perhaps, just like we saw M14’s roster start shrinking. He needs to take his foot off the brakes, and make a move.”

The regime’s cards are not “mashaal” but half the Palestinian people who support Hamas … Israel can not take out that “card”.

Same with Hizbollah and all the Lebanese Shia or other admirers of HA… that’s the card, not the one person assassinated in Damascus yesterday.

And, while I understand your point, but … the Syrian regime is not motivated to make any move or goodwill gesture.

I’ll explain why…But first take a look at the example of Al-Syassa’s “coverage” of the Assassination story in Damascus.

In half a page, they managed to accuse the Syrians of:

1) Betraying their Hizbollah allies and selling them …etc.
2) planning with HA and Hamas fellow thugs to put car bombs in Arab capitals until their leaders accept to attend the Damascus summit!

And if that was not enough, they tried to motivate the Syrian people (I.e. the fundamentalists) with encouraging “news” about Hurras Suria (Guards of Syria) who will liberate the country from the Alawite dictator if the international community fails in doing the job right.

So … Bashar learned some time ago (by mid 2005) that it is totally useless to try to communicate positively to the alliance which has been obssed with regime change in Damascus for the past few years.

No matter what Bashar says or does, Jumblatt and Geagea, and As-Syassa, and Asharq Al-Awsat,a nd Almustaqbal, and George Bush, and the London times (Murdoch owned) …. Will spin it to their faithful readers and followers … and Bashar’s gesture will be turned into one or more signs that he is weak and evil simultaneously … not to mention that he is an Iranian puppet.

As long as the Druze still trust Walid 100% and hate Bashar with passion … Bashar can not communicate with them.

If he talks they will start thinking conspiracy theories … Bashar the weak, sneaky evil doctor must be setting up some trap for them.

It is a bit depressing, I know … because you are absolutely right … we don’t know if Lebanon can survive the next 6 months until this administration is practically out of business.

February 15th, 2008, 5:54 am

 

Shai said:

Alex,

So what has to happen in Lebanon now to make things more stable? Is it all tied to the current U.S. administration? What does that say about the future of Lebanon?

(p.s. I sent you a note a few days ago…)

February 17th, 2008, 7:36 pm

 

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