“US backing ‘covert war’ against Hizbullah” CSM

US backing 'covert war' against Hizbullah in Lebanon?
Militant Islamic group says Cheney plan meant to undermine Iran's regional influence.
By Arthur Bright | csmonitor.com

As reports indicate the militant Islamic groups Hizbullah and Hamas are rearming themselves in case of a conflict with Israel, a high-level Hizbullah official has accused the US of waging a "covert war" in Lebanon against the organization.

The Guardian reports that Hizbullah's deputy secretary general, Sheikh Naim Qasim, said in an interview that US Vice President Dick Cheney "has given orders for a covert war against Hizbullah… there is now an American program that is using Lebanon to further its goals in the region."

The accusation follows reports in the US and British media that the CIA has been authorised to take covert action against the militant Shia group, which receives substantial military backing from Iran, as part of wider strategy by the Bush administration to prevent the spread of Iranian influence in the region.

According to the reports, US intelligence agencies are authorised to provide "non-lethal" funding to anti-Hizbullah groups in Lebanon and to activists who support the western-backed government of Fouad Siniora.

But Hizbullah accused the Lebanese government of arming groups across the country. "This happens with the knowledge of the prime minister and is facilitated by the security forces under his command," said Sheikh Qasim. The Bush administration recently set aside $60m (£30m) to fund the interior ministry's internal security force, which has almost doubled in size to 24,000 troops. Sheikh Qasim said there was a growing anti-Hizbullah bias in the security services. "The internal security forces have not succeeded in playing a balanced role … The sectarian issue is very delicate when it comes to the security services."

Sheikh Qusim's accusation comes after contradictory charges of a pro-Hizbullah bias by Lebanese security forces were made last week. There have been growing concerns that Syria – which has long supplied Hizbullah with weapons and financing – has stepped up illegal arms transfers across its border with Lebanon. The Associated Press reports that Walid Jumblatt, the anti-Syrian leader of Lebanon's Progressive Socialist Party, told Al Jazeera television that members of the Lebanese security forces were helping Hizbullah smuggle arms into the country, undermining the Lebanese government.

"There is a state within a state," Jumblatt said of Lebanon in the interview. "There is a Hizbullah army alongside the Lebanese army.

There is Hizbullah intelligence alongside Lebanese (army) intelligence and there are Lebanese territories that the army is prohibited from entering." …

Jumblatt, a one-time ally of Hizbullah, turned against the group last year and has been among the most ardent callers for disarming it.

The AP writes that in a speech Sunday, however, Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah announced it would not give up its weapons until the Lebanese army becomes capable of resisting Israeli attacks.

The Hezbollah leader apparently was responding to repeated calls by the country's anti-Syrian parliamentary majority for his group to disarm in line with a UN resolution that ended last summer's Israel-Hezbollah war.

"The only solution is that there must be a strong state and a strong army capable of confronting any Israeli aggression on Lebanon," he said.

Sheikh Nasrallah also announced that talks had deadlocked between Hizbullah's pro-Syria allies and Lebanon's pro-government majority, and called for a referendum or early parliamentary elections to resolve the stalemate.

Lebanese Web portal Naharnet.com writes that Samir Geagea, leader of the pro-government Lebanese Forces party, slammed Nasrallah's stance and accused him of "not allowing the rise of the [Lebanese] state" and of trying to drag Lebanon into a war meant to create a global Islamic nation.

"You want to liberate the whole of Palestine and throw the Jews in the sea. You want to push the Americans out of all Muslim lands. You want to liberate the Balkan province … We are not affiliated with this scheme," Geagea told Nasrallah.

"You have no right to take the Lebanese people hostage to carry out your strategy. The Lebanese state exists, the Lebanese entity exists and you will not be able to drag the Lebanese people into war," he added.

"No one can impose on us what we don't want. No one can impose on us strategies or ideologies," Geagea announced.

Nonetheless, Hizbullah is readying for the possibility of battle. The Christian Science Monitor reported last week that the heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington have spurred preparations by Iran and its allies, Syria and Hizbullah, in case of a US strike against Iran or new military action by Israel.

"US threats against Iran are no longer regarded by the Iranians and Syrians as just saber-rattling, and it's only natural that they prepare themselves," says Amal Saad-Ghorayeb of the Carnegie Endowment's Middle East Center in Beirut.

Hizbullah officials and fighters say that the party has launched an intensified training program with new recruits pushed through month-long courses in camps scattered along the flanks of the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon. Veteran fighters receive refresher courses and can volunteer for 45-day programs to join special-forces units.

"There is a high level of recruitment. The rearmament is happening because there will be a war with Syria. The Israelis cannot accept the insult of the July war," says Mohammed, a Hizbullah activist in Beirut, referring to last summer's conflict.

The Monitor adds that Hamas, which received aid from Iran after winning control of the Palestianian Authority and being isolated by the West, is also reequipping itself, according to Israeli officials.

Israel claims that dozens of Hamas militants have traveled to Iran for training and that Iranian-supplied weapons are being smuggled via tunnels from Egypt into Gaza. "Hamas is doing all its best to arm itself. The attempt to stop it is like putting a door in the middle of the desert," [Zvi Shtauber, director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University in Israel] says, commenting on an Egyptian promise this week to stave the flow of weapons. "You can just go around it."

The report that Hamas is rearming was echoed Tuesday in a statement by Israeli internal security service Shin Bet, The New York Times reports. The Shin Bet statement cited a wave of arrests of Hamas militants in the West Bank town of Qalqilya, along with an aborted suicide bombing launched from the town, as evidence that Hamas is gearing up for a new terrorist campaign against Israel. The Times writes that Hamas refused to comment on Shin Bet's statement yesterday. Haaretz reports that Palestinian Authority police officials denied Shin Bet's claims, however.

Comments (10)

t_desco said:

First reported by the Daily Telegraph in January, I believe:

CIA gets the go-ahead to take on Hizbollah

The Central Intelligence Agency has been authorised to take covert action against Hizbollah as part of a secret plan by President George W. Bush to help the Lebanese government prevent the spread of Iranian influence. Senators and congressmen have been briefed on the classified “non-lethal presidential finding” that allows the CIA to provide financial and logistical support to the prime minister, Fouad Siniora.

The finding was signed by Mr Bush before Christmas after discussions between his aides and Saudi Arabian officials.
The Daily Telegraph, 10/01/2007

April 11th, 2007, 7:51 pm


MSK said:

Dear Josh,

while I don’t dispute the possibility of covert U.S. action against Hizbullah … Naim Qasim isn’t exactly, errr, a reliable source on that issue.

Your headline makes it look like CSM is making the claim, whereas the CSM itself claims nothing of the sort but instead reports only that Naim Qasim is making the claim. THIS is what I meant earlier when I criticized some of your postings and the way you sometimes present things. Why putting a spin on this?


April 11th, 2007, 8:13 pm


Alex said:

The finding was signed by Mr Bush before Christmas after discussions between his aides and Saudi Arabian officials.

Who is working with who in the Middle East?

So, Prince Bandar went to Iran to make a deal with them to weaken Syria

“Saudis” are working with the CIA to fight Hizbollah.

Chirac asked Israel to invade Syria last summer.

Geagea and Jumblatt are sending their supporters to be trained to fight Hizbollah.

Isreal is sending all kinds of different messge about a summer war with Syria (and Hizbollah)

Recent “Saudi” (Arab) peace plans for the Israeli/Palestinian track will not go anywhere, it seems.

A major confrontation is looming in Lebanon… Lahhoud’s term is expiring this year. Until now, Syria appointed Lebanese presidents after consulting with Chirac and the US and the Saudis. How will the Lebanese do it this time?

So back to the Arab summit:

Syria and Saudi Arabia worked together in the latest Arab summit and agreed that it was one of the most successful summits ever … to what extent did they agree?

The Syrian Iranian/hizbollah/Hamas alliance has proven to be a constant in the Middle East.

It is very simple, after numerous attempts to weaken the alliance, either by targeting one of its members, or by offering another member deals, it should be by now obvious that it is time to decide: Talk to them or destroy them … And you can’t take them out one by one .. they will support each other, because they realize that if one is attacked, the rest will be next… so, nothing short of a regional war will do.
Negotiations are much easier … Syria is the most moderate and reasonable of the four.

But I think some intelligence covert operations are now the next tactic … maybe bomb some poor Lebanese innocent people and blame it on Syria and Hizbollah … that always worked int he past.

April 11th, 2007, 8:31 pm


Al-Syasy said:

the US is backing Iran in its proposed neuclear issue and backing Syria, therefore backing Hizbulla (march 8 ) against its enemies backed by France (march 14).

April 11th, 2007, 8:53 pm


Wassim said:

There seems to be a lot of talk recently of a new conflict. The United States’ plan for a “New Middle East” has been dealt a number of setbacks not least the Israeli defeat in it’s war against Lebanon last July. True, as one reader commented, the Hezbullah/Syrian/Iranian axis has proven a constant in the region, but regional war is still not an option. Low key pressure applied to perceived weakpoints is probably still the most realistic way forward and the biggest danger to Syria, Iran and Lebanon’s security. The place where their enemies might focus on is probably still going to be on Hezbullah.

Should the lowest bead be cracked and removed, the rest of the beads, no matter how big, will slide off the string and shatter. Lebanon was and remains crucial to the regions security, if it falls to the United States, Syria may soon follow. If it stands, there is a much stronger possibility of reigning in both the United States and Israel.

That be my 2 pennies worth.

April 11th, 2007, 9:04 pm


ugarit said:

“Debunking myths about the “Third World” (Amazing graphics)”

April 11th, 2007, 9:13 pm


Joshua said:

KSM writes: “Your headline makes it look like CSM is making the claim”

KSM the headline is that of the CSM article. I did not make it up. I copied the headline and attributed it to CSM, where it was published.

What else was I to do for the title? Include a long explanation of sources and their relative credibility. Be reasonable. You are picking at nits. Better to address your complaint to CSM.

April 11th, 2007, 9:18 pm


MSK said:

Dear Josh,

the CSM headline was (and still is):

US backing ‘covert war’ against Hizbullah in Lebanon?

(And here’s the link, which you’d forgotten: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0411/p99s01-duts.html)

Your headline is:

“US backing ‘covert war’ against Hizbullah” CSM

See the difference? One is a question, the other an allegation.

Btw – and this is a purely unrelated remark – I do find it interesting that the SYRIAcomment site spends quite a significant amount of time, energy, and space on Lebanon. Yes, Lebanon is relevant to Syria, but so are the other neighbors. (I remember particularly the Syrian leadership always talking about how the developments in Iraq have direct impact on Syria. Ditto for Palestine, at least. Maybe not Jordan, but then that might be related to the country having been disowned of “belonging to Greater Syria” status …) Don’t get me wrong – I do appreciate the coverage. But against the backdrop of the whole “baladayn, sha’b waahad – or maybe not?” issue I kept thinking that, maybe, just as many Lebanese have an obsession with Syria … many Syrians (incl. honorary ones, ya Josh) might just have (a teentsy weentsy little) one with Lebanon. 😉

Dear Alex,

interesting that you write “maybe bomb some poor Lebanese innocent people and blame it on Syria and Hizbollah … that always worked int he past.” – Got any source/proof on that? Or is it one of those “if they can blame my side without proof, then I can blame them without proof” things? 😉


April 12th, 2007, 8:42 am


Wassim said:

With regards to proof, wasn’t Samir Geagea convicted for bombing a church? Or was it for blowing up a government officials helicopter while he was in it?


April 12th, 2007, 9:03 am


ausamaa said:

CIA NOW backing Covert War against Hizbullah !

As if the CIA has been sending Hizbullah candies and flowers before!!!

Maybe they will now succeed where the Mossad had failed for years on end.

April 12th, 2007, 10:58 am


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