Hizballah’s Offensive in Lebanon
Walid Phares says Hizballah is gearing up for an attempt to seize control of Lebanon: Hezbollah’s offensive in Lebanon has begun.
1. As predicted since July 12, (and posted on the Counterterrorism Blog), the aim of Hezbollah’s summer war with Israel, was to provoke a “strike-back” at the Lebanese Government and reshape the balance of power in Lebanon to the advantage of the Teheran-Damascus axis. Nasrallah and his allies across the sectarian divide aimed at shifting the issue of disarming Hezbollah and militias (according to UNSCR 1559) to crumbling the government, which is supposed to implement this disarming process.
2. By mid-October, Hezbollah and its pro-Syrian allies had begun a political counter offensive aiming at “enlarging” the Seniora cabinet, as a way to paralyzing it further from the inside. The political discussions took longer than anticipated by Hezbollah. Hence, a decision was made in Tehran (and subsequently in Damascus ) to move forward.
3. The perceived results of the midterm elections in the U.S. were read as positive by Tehran and its allies, in the sense that it froze vigorous reactions by the U.S. against any Iranian-Syrian move in Lebanon via Hezbollah. The feelings in Tehran and Damascus, have been that if in the next weeks and months a “thrust” takes place in Lebanon to the advantage of the pro-Syrian camp, Washington will be in no position to react or counter. Ahmedinijad and Assad believe (or have been advised to believe) that “lobbies” are moving in Washington and Brussels to restrain any strong deterrence by the U.S. against the “axis.” The theory is that the Bush Administration is too busy “negotiating” with the new leadership in Congress to “dare” a mass move in the Middle East. The analysis also predicts that strong lobbies within the Democratic Party are now positioned to block any serious response to a change in geopolitics in Lebanon. It is believed that the window of opportunity won’t be too long before the Administration and the upcoming Congress “understands” the Tehran-Damascus maneuver and create a unified response. Thus, the expectation is that Hezbollah and its allies were told to achieve their goals before the end of the year, and before the new Congress begin business on the Hill.
4. Hezbollah has mobilized its forces from all over the country to position them in the capital and eventually use them in moves in Beirut, the central and southern part of Mount Lebanon, where most government institutions are located. Nasrallah can also bring into “battle” the supporters of General Michel Aoun, the Syrian National-Socialists, the Baathists, and the pro-Syrian Sunni militias, the Islamic Fundamentalists paid by Syria, the Palestinian radicals and the security agencies still under the influence of Syria. This “huge” army can – technically – defeat the thin internal security forces of the government. The Lebanese Army is an unknown factor, with Hezbollah supporters in control of the military regions in the south, the Bekaa, southern suburbs and other positions. In short, the “axis army” is ready to engage in battle in Lebanon. The issue is when, how, and with what outcome.
5. The projected scenario is as follows: Hezbollah and Amal movement ministers will resign from the Government calling for the resignation of the Government. The next move is to have Hezbollah, Amal, and their allies in the Parliament also resign, thus creating “conditions” for what they will coin as new elections and a collapse of the cabinet. Most of these moves have already been accomplished or are on the eve of being implemented. The pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud will declare the Government and the Parliament as “illegitimate,” and call for early legislative elections. The latter, if they take place will be under the smashing influence of Hezbollah’s weapons (a show of force was performed in the summer) and of the cohorts of militias and security agencies. Result: a pro-Syrian-Iranian majority in parliament, followed by the formation of an “axis” government in Lebanon. The rest is easy to predict: A terrorism victory.