Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Lebanon: Reconstruction and Rivalry

Lebanon: Reconstruction and Rivalry

Lebanese Finance Minister Jihad Azour warned Aug. 30 that the country could sink into a recession in the wake of $15 billion worth of destruction wrought by Israeli bombing during the 34-day conflict with Hezbollah and the continuing Israeli blockade. As Lebanon is rebuilt, an array of regional rivalries will emerge as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran shop for influence in the country.


Lebanese Finance Minister Jihad Azour said Aug. 30 that Lebanon faces $15 billion worth of reconstruction following Israel's military campaign against Hezbollah and warned that the Lebanese economy could soon plunge into a recession. Azour added, however, that the country's economic conditions could improve if Israel lifts its blockade.

Even before the war, Lebanon was struggling to pull itself out of a massive debt that stood at $38.6 billion -- 183 percent of the country's gross domestic product. Current Lebanese estimates of the economic impact of the war are as high as $9.5 billion. U.N. estimates put the number even higher, around $15 billion. In an economy where value-added taxes from trade (Beirut's port earned the government $5 million a day before the war) and tourism (mainly from Gulf Arab nations) made up 37 percent of annual Lebanese government income, relieving the debt will not be easy. The Israeli blockade -- intended to cut off arms and supplies to Hezbollah -- and tourists' travel fears have all but eliminated these sources of revenue. This is where the regional jockeying comes in.

Immediately after the war, Hezbollah began handing out $12,000 stipends to families that had lost their homes as a result of Israeli bombing. The funds, a total of $300-$400 million, came from Iran. While Iran's sponsorship of Hezbollah is no secret, these payments represent an aggressive move by Iran, along with Syria, to win greater influence in southern Lebanon. The move also serves as a counter to Saudi intentions to lead the reconstruction effort through the government's close business ties to Lebanon's al-Hariri clan. Not only does the Saudi government wish to undermine Iran's growing influence in the region, it also has to answer to Saudi citizens at home who have criticized the regime for publicly condemning Hezbollah in the early stages of the war.

Saudi Arabia, while well positioned in Lebanese politics, is outmatched in the grassroots politicking for support in southern Lebanon. After the Lebanese Civil War ended in 1990, it was Saudi money that fueled Rafik al-Hariri's rapid reconstruction of the capital. These links continue to this day, as Saad al-Hariri, who grew up in Saudi Arabia, seeks funds and political support from the Saudi royal family. But the Saudi reach stops just south of Beirut. The disenfranchised Lebanese Shia in the south, whose homes (about 33,000 of them) were destroyed during the conflict with Israel, are looking for immediate help. The government's recently unveiled plan to pay out up to $40,000 to each family whose home was destroyed rings hollow to a population used to seeking help from nongovernmental social services funded by Hezbollah. It also seems an impossibility considering the government's financial straits. Preconditions on receipt of the government money also make Hezbollah's no-questions-asked policy more appealing. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, immediately announced that any government shortfalls would be made up by his organization and, ultimately, Iran.

The House of Saud's other challenge comes from Qatar. The emirate, which has consistently sought to counter Saudi influence in economic and social areas, is now looking to extend its own political power beyond the Gulf, beginning with Syria. Qatar has long resented Saudi Arabia's dominating role in the Gulf Cooperation Council and is searching for means outside the Gulf to undermine Saudi influence. Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani appears to be doing just that by making a concerted effort to rehabilitate Syria in the eyes of the United States and strengthen Syria's role in the Lebanese political system. Qatar has been acting as the go-between for Syria on one hand and the United States and Israel on the other. Through these communications, Qatar is essentially trying to steer Syria away from Iran and clear the Syrian government's name in the investigations into Rafik al-Hariri's assassination. In addition, Qatar has offered to financially support Syria's political allies in Beirut in a bid to sweep out the Future bloc in the next parliamentary elections. The Future bloc, run by the al-Hariri clan, is Riyadh's political extension in the Lebanese government.

Qatar is also joining in the bidding war in Lebanon. Khalifa was the first foreign head of state to visit Beirut after the war, doing so on Aug. 21, the same day he met with Syrian President Bashar al Assad in Damascus. While in Lebanon, Khalifa pledged to rebuild the southern cities of Bent Jbiel and Khiam, which were badly damaged during the fighting with Israel. Saudi Arabia's pledge of $1.5 billion toward reconstruction of 10 Lebanese villages and the shoring up of the Lebanese Central Bank, while generous, again must flow through Beirut and could be delayed in its impact if preconditions are attached to its distribution.

The economic situation in post-war Lebanon has brought regional rivalries to the fore, as a crippled Lebanese economy turns outward for help in rebuilding. While Saudi money and support is still welcomed in Beirut, Saudi Arabia is clearly facing intense competition from its rivals in the Gulf.

Lebanon: Hezbollah's Political Regrouping Efforts

Lebanon: Hezbollah's Political Regrouping Efforts


Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said in an Aug. 27 television interview that he would have never issued the order to kidnap the two Israeli soldiers had he foreseen what retaliatory actions Israel would take against Lebanon. By pursuing an aggressive reconstruction campaign in the south and publicizing Hezbollah's commitment to the cease-fire, Nasrallah is seeking to regain political clout lost in the debris from the conflict and deprive Israel of an excuse to restart hostilities.


When questioned about the July 12 kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah told Lebanese news station NTV on Aug. 27, "We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a confrontation at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not."

Hezbollah's first rocket attack on Haifa, not the kidnapping, compelled Israel to engage in an invasion for which it was not necessarily prepared. Nasrallah knew when he pushed hostilities to that point that Hezbollah was provoking Israel into a full-scale war, and he had his forces ready and entrenched to resist the onslaught. Hezbollah's motives for reigniting hostilities with Israel followed a careful strategy to re-legitimize the resistance movement, demonstrate Iran's extensive reach in the region and provide a diplomatic opening for Syria. Such an explanation, however, does not sit well with those Lebanese citizens who lost their homes, businesses, friends and family members in 35 days of continued Israeli bombardments.

Nasrallah's apologetic interview is part of his damage-control strategy to win back any popular support in Lebanon that was lost in the fighting. As more and more Lebanese are returning to homes buried in rubble, resentment against Hezbollah's leader is running through the south and Shia are questioning whether sheltering Hezbollah fighters and weapons during the conflict was worth inviting a barrage of Israeli airstrikes. To reach out to his core Shiite constituency in the south, Nasrallah must now demonstrate that Israel had been searching for an excuse to go to war with Lebanon and that the need to maintain Hezbollah as a potent militant force to resist Israeli aggression is stronger than ever.

And what better way to buy political support in Lebanon than with cold hard cash? Hezbollah is handing out an average of $12,000 as compensation for the conflict to each of the approximately 35,000 Lebanese households in the south and in Beirut's southern suburbs. This is an extraordinary amount of cash that has been primarily financed through a hefty $400 million donation by Iran. Hezbollah is essentially carving out a position for itself to be the most powerful landlord in the south, where it will use rent payments to increase its control of land, fund its own political campaigns and acquire legitimate funding for future arms purposes.

Most of this cash is flowing through southern Lebanon in an aggressive Hezbollah-led reconstruction effort designed to maintain its support base among its Shiite constituency. The Lebanese government, politically incapable of stemming the flow of Iranian reconstruction money into Lebanon, has been conspicuously absent from the south since the cease-fire went into effect, giving Hezbollah plenty of room to put its social arm to work. Hezbollah has formed local committees in every village in the south to assess the damage and assist people in filing for compensation from Hezbollah's coffers. For example, a villager living in Al Abbasiyya in the south had only one glass window broken. A specialized Hezbollah committee that dealt only with broken windows visited his house and insisted on compensating him for the window. The following day, another Hezbollah committee paid $3,000 to reinvigorate the villager's lawn, which had dried out during the conflict.

In addition to extracting political sympathy, Hezbollah is also seeking to consolidate loyalties among Shia in the south for the time when Israel climbs out of its political rut and Hezbollah fighters again need shelter and arms south of the Litani River. Nasrallah is fully aware that Israel views the cease-fire as the halftime show before it returns to substantially cripple Hezbollah forces and reverse the perception that Hezbollah is the first Arab force to impose a military defeat on the Jewish state.

With this in mind, Hezbollah is doing whatever it can to deprive Israel of an excuse to restart hostilities in Lebanon. Hezbollah has already reached an understanding with the Lebanese army that allows the militants to relocate their weapons northward to their strongholds in the Bekaa Valley while maintaining underground cells in the south. Hezbollah has even used bulldozers to block tunnels and bunkers and flatten bases in the area in the south to show its commitment to the cease-fire. With Hezbollah creating favorable conditions for a peacekeeping force, Israel faces a difficult time in resuming a military campaign, as foreign troops will be sprawled throughout the south while Hezbollah behaves responsibly.

And Hezbollah could definitely use the break. Sources in Lebanon claim Hezbollah has buried more than 700 fighters so far, with many more to go. Hezbollah needs the cease-fire period to physically recover from its losses and recover public support. Meanwhile, the Shiite nexus of Iran, Hezbollah and the Syrian regime is using the cease-fire period as a window of opportunity to solidify the perception of Hezbollah's victory while Israel remains entangled in domestic politics.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Lebanon: Hezbollah Rearms

Lebanon: Hezbollah Rearms
August 29, 2006 23 40 GMT


New indications suggest Hezbollah is receiving shipments of small arms and anti-tank munitions from Syria.


Sources in Lebanon indicate Syrian arms shipments are passing into Lebanon. Mules, rather than vehicles, are moving small arms, ammunition and some anti-tank munitions over the Anti-Lebanon Mountains along the Lebanese-Syrian border, across the Bekaa Valley and up into the western mountains, particularly through the Greek Orthodox mountain village of Bteggrine. From here, with the assistance of the Syrian Social Nationalist party, the shipments can reach Hezbollah in the southern suburbs of Beirut, where they can be dispersed south.

Hezbollah does not, however, appear to be moving these arms south of the Litani River, where the bulk of fighting took place during the recent conflict with Israel. Many more arms are probably being stockpiled inside the Bekaa, Hezbollah's main stronghold.

Significantly, no signs indicate shipments of artillery rockets are occurring. The larger Fajr series, which Hezbollah has called the Khaiber-1 and were used to strike Haifa, are difficult to transport without motor vehicles in meaningful numbers. This signals Israel is effectively interdicting large shipments of weapons into Lebanon. Israel is watching supply lines from Syria very closely, and Lebanese citizens have become accustomed to the drone of Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles conducting surveillance.

While these small arms would certainly be useful in a guerrilla war inside of Lebanon, Hezbollah has other options. Some Hezbollah elements are particularly concerned about a renewed Israeli offensive, especially after the virtually inevitable fall of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. But Hezbollah is in a remarkably good position as reconstruction money pours in and the militant group basically rebuilds all of southern Lebanon, thus becoming the de facto landlord with a new source of substantial income: rent. To this end, Hezbollah is going out of its way both to avoid provoking Israel and to rebuild its domestic support structure, while at the same time preparing for the next confrontation.

Meanwhile, Syria has kept its border with Lebanon wide open, and has virulently refused to allow U.N. peacekeeping troops to deploy along the Lebanese-Syrian border. In addition to allowing Hezbollah to maintain supply routes past Lebanese soldiers patrolling the border, Syria has preserved its main pressure tactic against Lebanon. Whenever Lebanese politics show signs of diverging from Syrian interests, Syrian customs officers severely restrict the flow of goods over the Lebanese-Syrian border as a stern reminder to its neighbor that as the country's chief fuel supplier Syria controls Lebanon's power switch.

The Lebanese army has, however, deployed its Eighth Brigade along its border with Syria. The Eighth Brigade is entirely Christian and fought against Syria in 1989, making for a strong historical animosity. The Lebanese army could not send a stronger message opposing the rearming of Hezbollah. Thus, we will be watching to see whether the Eighth Brigade can effectively interdict these pack animal shipments or whether they continue to slip through.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Phares on al Jazeera: Civil societies are opposed to Ahmedinijad, Assad and Hezbollah

Phares on al Jazeera:

"Civil societies are opposed to Ahmedinijad, Assad and Hezbollah"August 22, 2006: Dr Walid Phares was on al Jazeera's prime time show al Ittijah al Muakess (The opposite direction) along with Faycal al Qassim, anchor and We'am Wahhab, Lebanese politician. Phares argued that civil societies in the region rejects the "fascist" regimes of Ahmedinijad and Assad and Hezbollah's terror (Arabic, one hour).

To read in Arabic go to

To listen to the show follow the link [ Visit Website ]

Aug 28, 2006, 09:35

Hezbollah's rise fuels rifts inside Lebanon

Hezbollah's rise fuels rifts inside Lebanon
A polarizing war empowers Shi'ites

By Thanassis Cambanis, Boston Globe

BEIRUT, Lebanon - In the capital's battered Shi'ite Muslim neighborhoods, Hezbollah supporters crow about their ``divine victory" over Israel, celebrating to raucous and martial songs amid piles of rubble.

Across town, however, well-heeled Christians are lining up for American and Canadian visas, more eager than ever before to immigrate after a war they see as a disaster. Sunni Muslims and members of the Druze sect, meanwhile, say they need weapons of their own to counter Hezbollah's.

The war between Hezbollah and Israel has further divided this already fractured country. Sectarian groups that grumbled about Hezbollah before the conflict now talk openly about civil war, which would be a cataclysmic setback for a country barely back on its feet. A devastating civil war raged in Lebanon from 1975 to 1990, and Syria ended its 29-year occupation last year.

For the United States, another internal conflict in Lebanon would wreck a showpiece for its campaign to bring Western-style democracy to the Middle East. And for Israel, such a conflict would exacerbate the power vacuum on its northern border, where a half-million Palestinian refugees live.

Since the war between Israel and Hezbollah ended two weeks ago, angry Lebanese have begun blaming the Shi'ite militant group for reopening the dangerous sectarian rifts.

``Hezbollah made this war and ruined the whole country. We paid in blood, in young men," said Maggie Haddad, 48, a snack bar owner who prominently signals her Christianity with a diamond-encrusted cross hanging over her shirt and by her uncovered head. ``As long as Hezbollah exists, and has weapons, there will be war."

There are as many conflicting views of the war with Israel as there are sects in the tangled ethnic and religious patchwork of Lebanon.

The United States has invested its political capital in the governing coalition of Christians, Sunnis, and Druze. But it is the Shi'ites, led by Hezbollah, who command the biggest power bloc in Lebanon, and who by force of their allied militias have sidelined the government from decisions of national import, like the war with Israel.

Lebanon's arcane constitution strives to preserve a fragile balance of power among the country's 17 recognized religious sects. Under the constitution, political posts are allocated by sect, meaning that groups like the Shi'ites -- who make up as much as half the population, by some estimates -- get far fewer government positions than their share of the population.

The ethnic tapestry shifts wildly from village to village, and from neighborhood to neighborhood, a testimony to the polarization of this strained society.

During the heaviest Israeli bombing in July and August, Beirut's Christians relocated their favorite nightclubs to the mountain resort of Broumana, where they could dance the nights away out of earshot of the explosions.

The Druze -- an insular sect led by Walid Jumblatt, who rules his mountain territory like a hereditary warlord -- loudly blamed Hezbollah for starting the war. But the Druze sheltered hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite refugees in the Chouf Mountains, on the condition that they kept their Shi'ite politics quiet while they were guests.

Sunni Muslims say they feel more estranged from the Shi'ites, accusing them of wrecking the prospects of Sunni empowerment through destructive alliances with Iran and Syria.

Just a year ago, Hezbollah was under pressure from all quarters in Lebanese politics to surrender its arms and became a political rather than military movement. Now, however, flush with a sense of power, many Shi'ites say it's time for Lebanon to join its destiny to that of the Shi'ites, rather than Shi'ites submitting to the rest of the country, as they have done historically.

``The war is still on. Hezbollah is still ready," a civil defense ambulance driver named Abdullah, 25, said recently as he toured the ruins of the Khiam Prison in southern Lebanon, a mile from the Israeli border.

Khiam is a morbid museum that commemorates the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon from 1982 to 2000. It lists by name all accused Lebanese collaborators and torturers who worked at the prison. Hezbollah fighters staged attacks from the prison, and in July Israeli bombs pulverized it.

Now, smiling Shi'ite housewives pull up in buses labeled ``The Divine Victory" to sightsee, traipsing over rubble and antiquated Israeli military equipment left over from before 2000.

Many of them repeated the confident declarations of Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah that make so many other Lebanese nervous.

``If Hezbollah wanted to interfere inside Lebanon, it could have done so a very long time ago," Abdullah said.

Outside the Shi'ite orbit, everything about Lebanon feels different. Most women don't wear bulky black abayas or cover their heads. Men are clean-shaven instead of bearded. Political posters and graffiti are on public walls, rather than the ubiquitous oil paintings of ``martyrs" and posters of Iranian clerics and Nasrallah.

``Hezbollah loves death. That's why they win," said Khalil Bou Azzedine, a Druze man who runs a dry-goods shop in the mountain town of Bakleen. ``We are different. We like life. We like to educate our kids. We like to grow old."

Jumblatt presides over the Druze -- who make up maybe a tenth of Lebanon's population but were fierce and independent fighters during the civil war -- from a stone castle that looks as if it came straight out of a fairy tale. He has been the loudest detractor of Nasrallah, accusing Hezbollah of serving foreign masters in Iran and Syria at the expense of the Lebanese people.

He said Hezbollah poses an undeniable threat; the main factor preventing civil war, he said, is that all the factions opposed to Hezbollah were disarmed in 1991, after the earlier conflict ended, and have no weapons stashes.

Historically, the Christians, and to a lesser extent the Sunni Muslims, held Lebanon's purse strings. French colonialists promoted the Christians, and Sunnis evolved into a thriving merchant class.

Lebanon's president, under the constitution, must be a Christian and the prime minister a Sunni. The two sects together are the driving engine of the reformist movement that forced out Syria in 2005 after the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister, Rafik Hariri.

Now, however, the once-dominant groups are watching the Shi'ite ascendance with frustration.

In the small southern border village of Kfar Chouba, members of the Sunni minority complain in private about Hezbollah's growing power. Kassim al-Kadri, 25, swears angrily about the Hezbollah flags hanging in his village.

``When the Lebanese Army gets here, we'll take down the Hezbollah flags and throw them away," Kadri said, referring to the planned deployment of government forces as part of the UN agreement that halted the war.

But Kadri and his neighbors say they feel trapped and powerless. They are surrounded by Hezbollah villages, and most of their fellow Sunnis who could afford it left for the north long ago.

Members of the dwindling Christian population, concentrated in a handful of Beirut neighborhoods and a few tiny enclaves of the south, voice their anxiety even more vociferously.

``We didn't want war. Only one group wanted war: Hezbollah. They are not fighting for Lebanon; they are fighting for Syria," said Georges Abou Zeid, 31, manager of a clothing boutique in the Christian neighborhood of Matan.

Christian politicians and religious leaders publicly plead with their followers not to leave the country. But by some estimates, the Christian share of population has fallen from nearly 50 percent before the civil war to less than 30 percent today.

Another Christian, Grace Habib, 36, has applied to immigrate to Canada or the United States, where she has relatives, with her husband and two sons. She fears the day when Muslims, outnumbering Christians, will ``march into our areas and smash us."

``If the war erupts again, where shall we go? Where can I take my children and hide?" Habib said. ``I have to give them a better future than we were given."

Failures in War - Humbling of the supertroops shatters Israeli army morale

The Sunday Times August 27, 2006

Humbling of the supertroops shatters Israeli army morale

HUNDREDS of feet below ground in the command bunker of the Israeli air force in Tel Aviv, a crowd of officers gathered to monitor the first day of the war against Hezbollah. It was July 12 and air force jets were about to attack Hezbollah’s military nerve centre in southern Beirut.

Among the officers smoking tensely as they waited for news, was Lieutenant-General Dan Halutz, 58, a daring fighter pilot in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war who had become chief of staff a year earlier and now faced the biggest test of his career.

Over the Mediterranean, west of Beirut, the elite F-15I squadron made its final preparations to strike with precision guided weapons against Hezbollah’s Iranian-made long-range Zelzal rockets, aimed at Tel Aviv.

Just before midnight, the order “Fire!” — given by the squadron leader — could be heard in the Tel Aviv bunker. Within moments the first Hezbollah missile and launcher were blown up. Thirty-nine tense minutes later the squadron leader’s voice was heard again: “Fifty-four launchers have been destroyed. Returning to base.”

Halutz smiled with relief and called Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, who was enjoying a cigar as he waited by a secure red phone at his residence in Jerusalem.

“All the long-range rockets have been destroyed,” Halutz announced proudly. After a short pause, he added four words that have since haunted him: “We’ve won the war.”

Even as Halutz was declaring victory, 12 Israeli soldiers from the Maglan reconnaissance unit were already running into an ambush just over the border inside Lebanon near the village of Maroun a-Ras.

“We didn’t know what hit us,” said one of the soldiers, who asked to be named only as Gad. “In seconds we had two dead.”

With several others wounded and retreating under heavy fire the Maglans, one of the finest units in the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), were astonished by the firepower and perseverance of Hezbollah.

“Evidently they had never heard that an Arab soldier is supposed to run away after a short engagement with the Israelis,” said Gad.

“We expected a tent and three Kalashnikovs — that was the intelligence we were given. Instead, we found a hydraulic steel door leading to a well-equipped network of tunnels.”

As daylight broke the Maglans found themselves under fire from all sides by Hezbollah forces who knew every inch of the terrain and exploited their knowledge to the full.

The commander of the IDF’s northern sector, Lieutenant-General Udi Adam, could barely believe that some of his best soldiers had been so swiftly trapped; neither could the chief of staff.

“What’s wrong with the Maglans?” Halutz demanded to know. “They are surrounded,” Adam replied quietly. “I must send in more forces.”

As the reinforcements of the Egoz brigade prepared to enter Maroun a-Ras and rescue their comrades, however, several were mown down in a second ambush. Hours of battle ensued before the Maglan and Egoz platoons were able to drag their dead and wounded back to Israel.

Hezbollah also suffered heavy casualties but its fighters slipped back into their tunnels to await the next round of fighting. It was immediately obvious to everyone in Tel Aviv that this was going to be a tougher fight than Halutz had bargained for.

As the war unfolded his optimism was brought crashing down to earth — and with it the invincible reputation of the Israeli armed forces.

In five weeks, their critics charge, they displayed tactical incompetence and strategic short-sightedness. Their much-vaunted intelligence was found wanting.

Their political leadership was shown to vacillate. Their commanders proved fractious. In many cases the training of their men was poor and their equipment inadequate. Despite many individual acts of bravery, some of the men of the IDF were pushed to the point of mutiny.

Last week, in an contrite letter to his soldiers, Halutz admitted to “mistakes which will all be corrected”. It is far from clear whether Halutz will remain in position to correct them.

As calls mounted this weekend — not least from the families of many of the 117 fallen Israeli soldiers — for the resignation of those deemed responsible for the failures, Olmert was expected to set up an inquiry into the conduct of the war. A poll showed that 63% of Israelis believed Olmert should quit, while 74% called for Amir Peretz, the defence minister, to go, and 54% wanted Halutz out.

“Olmert faces a serious risk of a no-confidence vote in the Knesset,” said Hanan Kristal, a leading political commentator. “A State Commission will give him four to six months of critical breathing time.”

Meanwhile the Israeli public are struggling to accept that the country’s security might now depend on whether a French-led United Nations peacekeeping force proves able to disarm Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. In addition to 7,000 troops already promised by EU states, the UN has received offers from several Muslim countries, some of which do not even recognise Israel. The force is unlikely to reach full strength for at least two months.

Much attention is being paid, however, to the deployment of these forces and especially to Israel’s apparent over-reliance on air power under the command of the Halutz.

Critics of Halutz, a former air force commander, believe he should have sent in overwhelming forces on the ground to drive Hezbollah back from border areas where they remained active right up to the end of the 34-day conflict.

“The air force can only assist ground forces; it can never win a war — any war,” said one veteran Israeli officer last week.

Another critical factor under consideration was that Hezbollah seemed so much better prepared. They launched nearly 200 rockets a day at Israel. They used advanced anti-tank missiles with lethal professionalism and stunned their opponents with their coolness under pressure and their willingness to “martyr” themselves in battle.

Apparently using techniques learnt from their paymasters in Iran, they were even able to crack the codes and follow the fast-changing frequencies of Israeli radio communications, intercepting reports of the casualties they had inflicted again and again. This enabled them to dominate the media war by announcing Israeli fatalities first.

“They monitored our secure radio communications in the most professional way,” one Israeli officer admitted. “When we lose a man, the fighting unit immediately gives the location and the number back to headquarters. What Hezbollah did was to monitor our radio and immediately send it to their Al-Manar TV, which broadcast it almost live, long before the official Israeli radio.”

Hezbollah appears to have divided a three mile-wide strip along the Israeli-Lebanese border into numerous “killing boxes”. Each box was protected in classic guerrilla fashion with booby-traps, land mines, and even CCTV cameras to watch every step of the advancing Israeli army.

“Our brass stupidly fell into the Hezbollah traps,” said Raphael, an infantry battalion reserve major. “The generals wanted us to attack as many villages as possible for no obvious reason. This was exactly what Hezbollah wanted us to do — they wanted to bog us down in as many small battles as possible and bleed us this way.”

The casualties from Russian-made anti-tank missiles have caused particular concern. An Israeli-invented radar defence shield codenamed Flying Jacket and costing £200,000 was installed on only four tanks. None of them was struck by anti-tank missiles.

But Hezbollah hit 46 tanks that lacked the shield. “£200,000 per tank is not beyond Israel’s means,” noted one military source acidly.

While the regular army was reasonably well equipped, the reservists were not. “We arrived at our depots only to find that our combat gear had been opened and equipment given to regular soldiers,” revealed Moshe, a fighter in the Alexandroni brigade. “The equipment was, of course, never returned.”

The Alexandroni fought in the west, near the Mediterranean, and did well initially. But logistics were appalling. “We had no fresh water as it was too dangerous to ship it to us,” Moshe added. “I’m ashamed to admit we had to drink water from the canteens of dead Hezbollah, and break into local shops for food.”

The Israeli leadership became determined to destroy the Hezbollah stronghold of Bint Jbeil because of its powerful symbolism to the enemy.
This was the place where Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbollah’s general secretary, had given his keynote speech after Israel withdrew in 2000, ending 18 years of occupation. Nasrallah said in Bint Jbail that Israel would be destroyed. Now Israeli leaders wanted to show him how badly mistaken he had been.

“Conquer Bint Jbail,” Halutz told Adam, the northern sector commander. Adam is said to have replied: “Hold on, Halutz. Do you know what that means? Do you realise that the casbah [old quarter] of Bint Jbail alone contains more than 5,000 houses? And you want me to send in one battalion?”

Adam nevertheless did as he was told and sent the 51st battalion of the Golani brigade to fight a heroic but hopeless, battle.

As the Israeli soldiers approached the town from the east they fell straight into yet another ambush. Hand grenades killed battalion commanders. Then a rescue operation was mounted, which took all night.

Hezbollah fighters were also hit but retreated and waited for Israeli reinforcements to arrive. Brig Gen Gal Hirsch, the commander of the 91 Galilee division, announced: “We control Bint-Jbail.” The next day more Israeli soldiers died as they, too, were ensnared in Hezbollah’s trap.

The Israeli media began to attack the army. “Idiotic military manoeuvres,” was how one commentator on TV1, the state-owned station, summed it up.
Tension now set in among the top brass. Halutz dispatched his deputy, Maj Gen Moshe Kaplinsky, as his special representative to the north, placing him above Adam.

Adam threatened to resign if Kaplinski issued orders to his units. Kaplinski nevertheless did so. Adam did not resign but is expected to go public soon with his story of the war.

Relatively inexperienced reservists were called up. Oded, 27, a reservist from Jerusalem in a combat infantry brigade, was among those summoned to active duty. “In the past six years I’ve only had a week’s training,” he revealed.

“Soon after we arrived, we received an order to seize a nearby Shi’ite village. We knew that we were not properly trained for the mission. We told our commanders we could control the village with firepower and there was no need to take it and be killed for nothing.

“Luckily we were able to convince our commander,” he concluded with a faint smile.

Oded blamed the Palestinian intifada for his unit’s insufficient training. “For the last six years we were engaged in stupid policing missions in the West Bank,” he said. “Checkpoints, hunting stone-throwing Palestinian children, that kind of stuff. The result was that we were not ready to confront real fighters like Hezbollah.”

On the day the chaos in Bint Jbail reached its peak, Amir Peretz, the new and inexperienced defence minister, flew to the northern border to meet reservists about to go into action.

Aviv Wasserman, a reserve major with the 300 brigade who is about to study for a doctorate at the London School of Economics, asked Peretz not to throw them into “unnecessary adventures”.

Lieutenant Adam Kima, of the combat engineering battalion, was in even more rebellious mood after being asked to take his men and clear the road leading to Bint Jbeil from the west. Studying the plan, Kima rejected the idea — 10 Israeli soldiers had already died there “We were foolishly told it was all right — there are no Hezbollah forces ahead of us,” said Corporal Nimrod Diskin, one of Kima’s soldiers. “We didn’t have the equipment to clear this road. We were not ready for the mission.”

When the brigade commander realised that Kima and his soldiers would not carry out their orders, he called the military police. The men were sentenced to 14 days in jail, although they were released a few days later. The soldiers, most of them fathers of small children, believe Kima saved their lives.

“I noticed behaviour I’d never heard of in the Israeli army,” Kima said last week on Israeli television. “In my training I got used to the idea that the commander shouts ‘Advance!’ and is the first to face the enemy. Here my battalion commander was in the back of the group and the brigade commander didn’t even cross the border into Lebanon.”

As the fighting dragged on, some veteran officers lost patience with what they saw as the inexperience of the chief of staff and defence minister. “What are you doing in Lebanon, for God’s sake?’ the former defence minister, General Shaul Mofaz, asked Olmert. “Why did you go into Bint Jbeil? It was a trap set by Hezbollah.”

Mofaz proposed an old-fashioned IDF assault plan to launch a blitzkrieg against Hezbollah, reach the strategically important Litani river in 48 hours and then demolish Hezbollah in six days. Olmert liked the idea but Peretz did not appreciate his predecessor’s intervention and rejected it.

Olmert appeared to lose confidence and began to issue conflicting orders. “Our mission changed twice, three times, every day,” complained one soldier.

Many Israelis have been left furious that the legendary deterrent power of their army has been shattered. Even though Hezbollah has lost a quarter of its fighters, its military base in Beirut and its bunkers in the south, Israelis feel less secure.

They hear President Bashar al-Assad of Syria warning that he may retake the Golan Heights by force and the Iranians threatening that if the Americans attack them, Tel Aviv will be hit by ballistic missiles in retaliation.

On the final day of the war, Halutz was sitting in his favourite seat at the air force bunker in Tel Aviv, waiting for the results of a massive airborne operation. Then the news came through that a Sikorsky CH-53 helicopter had been shot down by a Hezbollah rocket. He is said to have felt defeated, both personally and professionally.

Halutz and his political masters may now be living on borrowed time. Israeli’s military elite, such as its fighter squadrons and commando units, may still be among the best in the world but the mediocrity of much of the army has been exposed for all in the Middle East to see.

Israelis can forget and forgive many things, but not the perceived defeat of an army that commanded worldwide respect but suddenly no longer strikes so much fear into its enemies.

The Sunday Times (

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hassan Nasrallah’s apologetic speech Sunday night contrasts starkly with his rapid rearmament of Hizballah‘s war machine

Hassan Nasrallah’s apologetic speech Sunday night contrasts starkly with his rapid rearmament of Hizballah‘s war machine

August 27, 2006, 11:32 PM (GMT+02:00)

Hizballah’s leader said in a broadcast speech Sunday night that he would not have ordered the kidnap of two Israeli soldiers had he know it would lead to war.

The other side of the picture: While saying mildly that in his view a second round of the war is not indicated, Nasrallah has just finished reconstituting his Southern Nasser Brigade command (short range Katyusha rockets) in the port town of Tyre after collecting its elements form various south Lebanese villages to the east. His fighters reached Tyre at the same time as French UNIFIL troops landed in the same port but were not noticed by the TV cameras focusing on the French landings.

Beirut sources report Nasrallah goes in fear of an Israeli attempt on his life. Hizballah’s re-armament is therefore proceeding cautiously, rapidly and inconspicuously. For the same reason, he appears to be avoiding a meeting with the UN secretary Kofi Annan who is due in Beirut this week. The local UN office is trying to set up this meeting because Annan would regard as a major feat of diplomacy. However Nasrallah is afraid its venue would leak out and Israeli warplanes would find him.

Similarly, he has called off a victory parade he had planned to stage next week in the southern Beirut Shiite suburb of Dahya among the ruins left by Israeli air strikes. Nasrallah had planned to stand on a platform and take the salute of his armed men as they marched past with Fajer-3 and Fajer-5 rockets. This would have shown the Israelis that Hizballah’s rocket might was still intact after their bombardment. But an intelligence tip-off that the Israeli air force and navy were waiting to bomb the parade persuaded him to cancel the event.

In Lebanon, some disdain for Hezbollah

In Lebanon, some disdain for Hezbollah

By TODD PITMAN Associated Press Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press

MARWAHEEN, Lebanon — They pushed, shoved, shouted and cursed one another.

Hana Abdallah hugs her daughter Zeina mourning the loss of their relatives, who were killed in the village of Marwaheen during the Israeli offensive against Hezbollah, at a funeral ceremony in the village of Marwaheen, in south Lebanon, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

In the end, Hezbollah supporters were turned back from an attempt to plaster posters of their leader around Marwaheen, a Sunni Muslim village in southern Lebanon that is mourning the loss of 23 residents from an Israeli air attack during the war.

"Why do you want to put up an image of someone who is killing us?" a man screamed as dozens of villagers brandished fists and thrust open palms at Hezbollah loyalists clutching posters of Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the group's bearded and bespectacled chief. "We don't want to see it!"

Though everyone here blames Israel for the 23 deaths, many place equal blame on Hezbollah for bringing its militant Shiite fighters into the region and drawing Israeli fire.

Such displays of anger illustrate the complexities in a nation where Shiite, Sunni, Christian and Druse beliefs exist in a tumultuous mix that boiled over during Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.

Open criticism of Hezbollah is rare in southern Lebanon, a predominantly Shiite area where yellow Hezbollah flags fly over demolished houses and posters of Nasrallah adorn almost every utility pole and shop.

Anger at the Islamic militants is more common in a handful of Christian villages where residents blame Hezbollah _ and its capture of two Israeli soldiers July 12 _ for setting off the destructive 34-day war.

But some Sunni Muslims are furious, too. In Marwaheen, anger has welled up since the July 15 deaths of 23 civilians fleeing artillery and rocket duels between the Israeli army and Hezbollah guerrillas, who took up positions in and around the village.

On the war's third day, Israeli soldiers used loudspeakers to urge civilians to evacuate Marwaheen.

One group of 27, including eight Shiite villagers, sought refuge at a U.N. post in town, but were turned away. Fleeing, their convoy was hit by shells from an Israeli gunboat off Lebanon's coast. Twenty-three died in the barrage and an assault by an Israeli helicopter minutes later.

None of the dead could not be buried until after the fighting stopped Aug. 14.

As the bodies were brought in coffins from a morgue in Tyre on Thursday, Hezbollah supporters wanted the group's flags flown atop the vehicles, partly for journalists to see, said Adel Abdallah, a villager who lost several relatives in the attack.

An argument broke out, and it was decided that only the vehicles carrying coffins of the eight Shiite dead would fly the flags, he said. The other vehicles took another road to Marwaheen so they would not be associated with Hezbollah.

Some of the dead Shiites were buried wrapped in Hezbollah flags, but most of the villagers were lowered in coffins draped in Lebanon's national flag, emblazoned with a cedar tree.

"Nobody wants Hezbollah here," Adel Abdallah said. "They don't want to fight for Lebanon. They fight for themselves, for Iran, for Syria."

Residents talk bitterly of Hezbollah turning their village into a battleground.

When the war broke out, people said, Hezbollah fighters in civilian clothes entered the village and set up launchers to fire rockets south into Israel. The guerrillas moved the launchers around, putting one on top of a house that was subsequently destroyed, they said.

A teenage girl who was in Marwaheen for the first three days of the war said she saw a Hezbollah fighter set up a rocket launcher with a timer on a nearby hillside, then run to the other side of the village near her home, taking refuge between civilian houses.

Streaks of red crossed the sky as the launcher fired a volley into Israel, and minutes later Israel returned fire and huge explosions tore through the launch site, she said.

"We begged them to leave," the girl said, declining to be quoted by name because she feared retribution from Hezbollah. "We told them, 'Get out! We have children here. We don't want anybody to get hurt.' But they ignored us."

Hezbollah fighters have abandoned Marwaheen, but a white minivan incinerated by an airstrike stands beside a mosque. Villagers said it contained several rockets and a launcher that were later removed by guerrillas. What appeared to be a rocket tube covered with a green camouflage tarp lay dumped in a thicket beside an adjacent wall.

A few blocks away, people pointed out a destroyed house that they said was a Hezbollah weapons depot. The roof of the stone building had collapsed onto a pile of rubble, from which peeked rocket-propelled grenades, mortar tubes and a dark green box that apparently once stored ammunition.

"Nobody knew they were using our houses to store weapons. We were surprised to find them" after the war, said Wassim Abdallah, 24. "How could they keep weapons in the middle of all these civilian houses?"

Lebanon Border Troops Focus on Smugglers

Lebanon Border Troops Focus on Smugglers

The Associated Press
Saturday, August 26, 2006; 1:48 PM

AITA AL-FOUKHAR, Lebanon -- A mile from the Syrian border, a Lebanese armored personnel carrier sat behind freshly dug berms of red earth Saturday and a second sheltered under camouflage netting. Soldiers in new uniforms checked vehicles traveling the mountain road.

The curving track _ climbing past vineyards, heavy laden in late August, and newly harvested peach orchards _ was cratered in two places by Israeli missiles fired in the first days of the monthlong war with Hezbollah.

Gravel in some places, crumbling asphalt in others, the road traces the contours of the rugged Anti-Lebanon range and long served as a major route for gunrunners bringing arms for the militant Shiite guerrillas of Hezbollah.

A dirt road which leads towards the Syrian border is seen from Aita-Al-Fourkhar village in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2006. The Lebanese army is rushing troops to the country's porous borders, because Israel has said it won't lift its air and sea blockade of the country until the frontier is clamped shut and new arms are not flowing to Hezbollah fighters from their benefactors in Syria and Iran. The army said putting soldiers along the route has reduced smuggling by 90%. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
Photo Credit: AP Photo

"Since we got here two weeks ago we believe we've stopped 90 percent of the smuggling from Syria," boasted a Lebanese army captain, who would not give his name because he was under orders not to speak to journalists.

The army is rushing troops to Lebanon's porous borders because Israel says it won't lift its air and sea blockade of the country until the frontier is clamped shut and arms stop flowing to Hezbollah fighters from their benefactors in Syria and Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has even demanded that the expanding U.N. peacekeeping force for southern Lebanon put its soldiers along the mountainous frontier with Syria to patrol the four official crossings and 60 illegal ones, like the one near Aita al-Foukhar.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose government was forced by international pressure last year to pull its army out of Lebanon after a three-decade occupation, has warned that the presence of outside troops on the border would be considered "hostile."

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora has sought to finesse the issue by insisting that his troops are up to the task of policing the border while not rejecting the Israeli demand outright.

"We have no intention of showing any hostility toward Syria," Saniora said late in the week. "We want cordial relations with Syria and we are taking care of the issue of the border to prevent any infiltration into Lebanon."

Saniora has pleaded with Washington to pressure Israel to lift the blockade, and his office issued a statement Saturday saying that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned to say she would do her best and that she agreed Lebanese forces should monitor the border.

French President Jacques Chirac, who has pledged 2,000 soldiers to a U.N. force planned to number 15,000, said the U.N. mandate does not call for guarding the Syrian border. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the troops would take up positions there only if invited by Saniora's government.

For now, Lebanon is putting its troops at key positions near illegal crossing points. U.N. envoy Terje Roed-Larsen has said 2,000 Lebanese soldiers have been deployed along Lebanon's eastern border with Syria, with the goal of eventually having 8,600 there.

At the Masnaa crossing in the Bekaa Valley, the main border point on the highway from Beirut to Damascus, extra soldiers were on duty and long lines of trucks backed up in each direction awaiting customs clearance.

Lebanese border police and customs officials hotly denied they allowed weapons from Syria to cross the border and showed a visiting reporter the careful searches they were conducting. But Lebanese living near the border said the right amount of money in the right hands could win entry for trucks with questionable cargo.

Two dirt tracks leading into the hills flanking the highway through no man's land between the Lebanese and Syrian sides of the Masnaa crossing were unobstructed.

A border policeman, however, said army posts had been set up a few hundred yards off the road to block smugglers from detouring around the official crossing. He would not give his name, saying he was under orders not to speak to reporters.

One smuggling route passes through Aita al-Foukhar, a mainly Christian village with two Greek Catholic churches and one mosque. At the east end of town, two missile craters were filled in and cars passed slowly over the rough patch. A blue Volkswagen beetle sat with its roof ripped back like the lid on a tuna can.

Relatives said 15-year-old Michel Samaan was driving the car when an Israeli missile tore into it. He was killed instantly, they said. His father and 11-year-old brother survived but were badly wounded. To look at the car it was hard to imagine anyone escaped.

Henri Mouaikel, a 25-year-old cousin of the dead youth, stood nearby. He had just driven from Beirut and was recording video of the wreckage.

He said his cousin was killed at 3 p.m. on July 18, the seventh day of the war, as Israeli jets bombed and rocketed roads like the one that snakes through Aita al-Foukhar to the Syrian frontier.

"I just can't believe an old blue Volkswagen was mistaken for a gunrunner," he said. "I hope he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, that it was a mistake."

Youngsters at a nearby house handed out juicy green grapes to visitors. Mouaikel shook his head, got into his green Toyota and headed back the 42 miles to the capital.



U.N. Resolution 1701 has authorized up to 15,000 U.N. peacekeepers. Contributions from member nations so far amount to:

-- Italy has agreed to send up to 3,000 troops.
-- France said it will deploy 2,000 troops, including its current 200-member contingent in Lebanon.
-- Finland said it would send up to 250 peacekeepers by November.
-- Germany will not send troops, but will offer naval forces to help patrol the Lebanese coast.
-- Greece has pledged to send naval vessels
-- Netherlands said it would not send troops but may also offer navy a patrol vessel.
-- Spain has reportedly offered between 1,000-1,200 troops.
-- Poland has offered 500 soldiers.
-- Belgium is sending 400 troops, including anti-mine experts, and medical units.
-- Bulgaria said it is willing to send troops, but has not given a number.
-- Turkey has indicated it will contribute troops, but has not given a number.
-- Bangladesh has offered two mechanized battalions with 1,600-2,000 troops. (So far refused by Israel)
-- Indonesia has offered one mechanized battalion and an engineering company totaling about 1,000 troops. (So far refused by Israel)
-- Malaysia pledged one mechanized battalion and Nepal pledged one mechanized infantry battalion, also totaling 1,000 soldiers. (So far refused by Israel)
-- Britain said it would send Jaguar ground attack aircraft and Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, known as Awacs, in addition to a navy frigate. It also offered to help train and equip the Lebanese military and support enhanced command and control technology for the force.
-- The United States said it doesn't plan to participate but does expect to provide logistical assistance to the force.


“If, for example, combatants, or those illicitly moving weapons, forcibly resist a demand from them, or from the Lebanese Army, to disarm,” then armed force could be used, Annan said. He added, however, that disarming Hezbollah — a central goal of two United Nations resolutions on Lebanon — “is not going to be done by force.”

The expanded peacekeeping force’s mandate is to support the Lebanese Army in enforcing the resolutions. But disarmament of Hezbollah “has to be achieved through negotiation, and an internal Lebanese consensus, a political process, for which the new Unifil is not, and cannot be, a substitute,” Mr. Annan said. Unifil is the acronym for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

(AP photo shows U.N. peacekeepers from France and an armored personnel carrier disembarking from a landing vessel in the port of the southern border town of Naqoura)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

E.U. to Send 6,500 Peacekeepers to Southern Lebanon

MSNBC, August 25, 2006
Dr. Walid Phares
Col. Jack Jacobs

E.U. to Send 6,500 Peacekeepers to Southern Lebanon

Dr. Walid Phares - al-Manar: Terror TV

MSNBC, August 25, 2006
Dr. Walid Phares

al-Manar: Terror TV

MOSAIC Intelligence Report - August 25, 2005

MOSAIC Intelligence Report - August 25, 2005

Link TV's producer of Mosaic: World News in the Middle East, Jamal Dajani gives his insights on what's really happening in the current crisis. Drawing on reports from 28 Middle Eastern news broadcasts, this Mosaic Intelligence Report provides context, analysis and a behind the scenes look at the story you never see on American TV.

Phares on Fox News Cavuto: "Iran's regime has started a global war"

Phares on Fox News Cavuto: "Iran's regime has started a global war"

Terrorism expert Walid Phares to Fox News' Neil Cavuto: "The Iranian regime has already started a global war in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran and has

Aug 21, 2006, 19:36

Phares on CNN's Glen Beck

Phares on CNN's Glen Beck: "The Jihadists and Iran's regime started their war a long time ago"

Professor Walid Phares to CNN's Glen Beck: "The Jihadists and Iran's regime started their war a long time ago"

Aug 21, 2006, 19:53

Phares in World Magazine: "Iran builds the bomb while negotiating"

Phares in World Magazine: "Iran builds the bomb while negotiating"
By Phares Quoted
Aug 25, 2006, 10:57

World Magazine Weekly News

August 24-September 1, 2006

Middle East expert Walid Phares called that ambiguous salvo part of Iran's two-track strategy.

"Iran's foreign minister and others are buying as much time as possible with the international community," he said, "while real assembly and building up of the technology continues."

Mr. Phares, senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, believes the Iranians "are way more advanced than we know when it comes to what they are doing on uranium enrichment."

The United States and its allies, without nuclear inspections in place, are "completely blind on the situation."

Mr. Phares, born in Lebanon and educated in Beirut's Jesuit universities, said he was not surprised Aug. 22 passed without catastrophe.

"That date had theological value but there are many other dates with that value in the Shia and Sunni communities in the Middle East. These are not dates calling for action, these are actions calling for dates."

Westerners, Phares said, "are stunned always with dates of revelation in general.

Muslims know that Ahmadinejad is hiding an agenda that has nothing to do with theology. If he has something to show, yes, he will wait for a date and it will be a highly significant date to appeal to his own constituents." And almost on cue, observers pointed out that the weeks following Aug. 22 are significant this year, too. "


Weekly News


Artists learn early to pay attention to negative space, while journalists know to dread it. What's to say about the news that did not happen? Yet in August the biggest stories were those that failed to come true—beginning with the plot to blow up transatlantic flights to the United States and ending with (and possibly linked to) the prediction that Iran would launch a strike against the West, most likely Jerusalem, on Aug. 22.

Muslims and non-Muslims alike gazed into the stars on the night of Aug. 21 following a threat from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to "light up the heavens in answer to the UN"—his response to a Security Council deadline for Iran to comply with international demands to end its uranium enrichment program.

Even the very conventional Princeton Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis took Ahmadinejad's words as a threat—pointing out that Aug. 22 corresponds with the Islamic calendar date when Muslims celebrate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on a winged horse to "the farthest mosque"—a reference to Jerusalem—where a divine white light would spread from there to cover the whole world.

In an Aug. 8 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Mr. Lewis noted, "This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world." If the threat of a nuclear catastrophe failed to materialize by Aug. 22, Ahmadinejad, the blacksmith's son with a Ph.D. in transportation engineering, did manage to demonstrate his capacity for driving the world in vicious circles.

The former mayor of Tehran is, after all, building a boulevard in the capital for the purpose of welcoming the mysterious and messiah-like 12th Imam, who will usher in the end of the world. So it bordered on logical that Iran launched large-scale land, air, and sea military exercises involving over 120,000 soldiers just days prior to its self-imposed deadline.

And in the early morning hours of Aug. 22, Iranian warships opened fire on a Romanian oil rig off the coast of Iran, boarded it, and seized it, holding 27 workers for several hours.

As Wall Street analysts tried to get ahead of the doomsday curve by predicting a downturn in stock markets, the Rapture Index, a "Dow Jones Industrial Average of end-time activity" managed by Are You Rapture Ready? co-author Todd Strandberg, spiked at 158 (145 on the index is the threshold signaling that rapture may be imminent).

The Iranian response to the UN, then, on Aug. 22 had perhaps the desired effect of sucking wind out of all the hyperventilation: Top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Tehran is prepared "to enter serious negotiations" about its nuclear program while at the same time he rejected calls to suspend "nuclear activities."

Middle East expert Walid Phares called that ambiguous salvo part of Iran's two-track strategy. "Iran's foreign minister and others are buying as much time as possible with the international community," he said, "while real assembly and building up of the technology continues."

Mr. Phares, senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, believes the Iranians "are way more advanced than we know when it comes to what they are doing on uranium enrichment."

The United States and its allies, without nuclear inspections in place, are "completely blind on the situation."

Mr. Phares, born in Lebanon and educated in Beirut's Jesuit universities, said he was not surprised Aug. 22 passed without catastrophe. "That date had theological value but there are many other dates with that value in the Shia and Sunni communities in the Middle East. These are not dates calling for action, these are actions calling for dates." Westerners, Phares said, "are stunned always with dates of revelation in general. Muslims know that Ahmadinejad is hiding an agenda that has nothing to do with theology. If he has something to show, yes, he will wait for a date and it will be a highly significant date to appeal to his own constituents."

And almost on cue, observers pointed out that the weeks following Aug. 22 are significant this year, too. "Every 400 years the crescent [new moon] and Mars line up together to create the Muslim flag and this year this will take place in the last two weeks of August," said Kamal Saleem, a former PLO fighter from Lebanon. Signs and wonders aren't over.

Terrorism Eleven suspects charged in a terror plot to blow up transatlantic airliners using liquid explosives appeared before a British court for the first time on Aug. 22. Eight men are accused of conspiracy to murder and preparing to commit terrorism. Three others—including the mother of an 8-month-old—are charged with lesser offenses, including failing to disclose information. Documentation presented in the courtroom gave a glimpse of the months of surveillance the suspects underwent before most were arrested on Aug. 10. Since then, London's anti-terrorism police chief Peter Clarke said, police have searched "69 houses, flats and business premises, vehicles and open spaces" and recovered 400 computers, 200 cellphones and 8,000 data storage devices such as memory sticks and DVDs.

Former New York U.S. attorney Mary Jo White, who prosecuted a similar plot to attack planes flying over the Pacific in 1995, said the plan "has all the earmarks of an al-Qaeda plot."

Middle East An unknown militant group demanded the release of Muslim prisoners in U.S. jails within 72 hours in exchange for two kidnapped Fox News journalists, who were shown sitting cross-legged and barefoot on the floor in a video released Aug. 23. The video, which broke 10 days of silence from the kidnappers, marked the first time militants in Gaza have issued demands going beyond the conflict with Israel.

The footage lacked the hallmarks of locally produced videos, such as flags or masked gunmen, raising the likelihood that foreign extremists have taken root in Gaza in the aftermath of Israel's withdrawal one year ago. In the footage correspondent Steve Centanni, 60, of Washington, D.C., and cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, of New Zealand, shown for the first time since they were abducted Aug. 14, said they were being treated well by militants, who called themselves the Holy Jihad Brigades.

European foreign ministers set a Sept. 1 deadline to put in place an international force to police the ceasefire at the Israel-Lebanon border. Pressure grew for France to increase its commitment of 200 soldiers and for Italy to take a stronger role after Israel rejected offers of participation from Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Indonesia—predominantly Muslim countries that do not recognize the Jewish state.

Copyright © 2006 WORLD Magazine September 02, 2006, Vol. 21, No. 34

© Copyright 2003 by



The Sun Sentinel

Walid Phares

The organized campaign against the use by government of the term "Islamic fascists" is an indication that the War of Ideas is raging in the center of the War on Terror. In this clash of words and ideas, it is the education of the public, as well as the identity of those who do the educating, that will make a difference. The less informed Americans are about the enemy's ideology, the more Islamist pressure groups can attack the president, congressional and world leaders on rhetoric, blurring the public mobilization.

The term used by the president -- "Islamic fascists" -- when referring to the al-Qaida plotters in London, triggered a wave of negative reactions by Islamist lobbies, but also by moderate Muslim groups worldwide. The president most likely meant "Islamo-fascists" when he was attempting to expose the radicals. But Islamist lobbies were quick to "interpret" it as implying that "Muslims are fascists" -- an assumption which would necessarily elicit strong negative feelings from the Muslim community, moderates included.

"Islamo-fascism," on the other hand (a term used by the president in speeches in 2005), makes for a more precise term because it refers to a particular set of ideologies and movements such as Salafism, Wahabism and Khumeinism, not a religious community per se. Just as the word "Crusaders" doesn't equate with "Christians," the term "Islamist" doesn't equate with "Muslims."

In the Arabic debates online and on the airwaves, reform- oriented Arabs and Muslims who are opposed to Fundamentalism call the followers of the latter Islamiyeen (Islamists), fashiyeen (fascists), Jihadiyeen (jihadists) and others. Ironically, the radicals of al-Qaida and Hezbollah identify themselves as "Islamists" and "jihadists."

Hence, it would be most logical to use the terminology produced by both of the Muslim sides: Islamist-jihadists.

But it is important that leaders, intellectuals and academics explain to their audiences that words are part of the War of Ideas. The public must understand that there are political forces that are putting pressure on governments and media around the world to block knowledge as part of an effort to shield the radicals and the terrorists.

Here is a summarized lexicon for basic words:

In view of sensitivities and the complexity of the debate, terms to avoid are any association between the term Muslim and terrorism, fascism, etc, especially if it is generalized. One may be born a Muslim, but becomes an Islamist. So the term Islamic is an attribute to a behavior, an action or a self-assertion.

The root identification between Muslim and Islamic is clear, but the linguistic nuance between Islamic and Islamist in the Arabic language is very narrow. In English (and other Western languages) it would be best to use the most identifiable term when addressing an ideological movement. While one can use the term Islamic when associating with radicalism, it would be academically permissible to use it while stressing on the attribute such as radical Islamic groups, instead of Islamic radicals. This description would equalize with, for example, "radical any other group."

However, as advanced above, the most accurate terms would be directly borrowed from Arabic, such as Islamist and jihadists. Both are well-known ideologies with clear political and militant agendas, massively used in the Arab and Muslim world.

Islamist is a perfectly legitimate term that describes a particular ideology such as Salafism, Khumeinism or jihadism. Not only is it used in the academic world as an indicator for an ideology and not a community, but it is used by followers around the world. Thus adding attributes to Islamist is academically sound and understood. For example: Islamist-fascists or Islamo-fascist, Islamist-Salafist, etc.

But the most descriptive term of the actual "movement" at war with the U.S and democracies around the world is clearly jihadism or al Jihadiya. It is a militant doctrine, an ideology, which has generated movements, including the terrorist organizations at war with the U.S., Europe, Russia, India and the moderate Arab and Muslim countries. Arab media and governments use this terminology, but the most important argument is that the terrorists describe themselves as jihadists when in action, and Islamists ideologically.

If Islamist pressure groups criticize any official for using the term Jihadist and Jihadism, they can be responded to that the Nazis called themselves Nazis in WWII.

The U.S. president, Congress and other world leaders have the duty to alert the public with regard to the name, ideology and plans of the enemy -- in this case, the jihadists.

Dr Walid Phares is a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the author of Future Jihad.

Israel: Hezbollah used Russian-made missiles

Israel: Hezbollah used Russian-made missiles
Russia denies supplying militants, hints possible third party connection
The Associated Press

Updated: 1:56 p.m. ET Aug 18, 2006
JERUSALEM - Israeli officials said Friday that a senior delegation went to Moscow this week to complain that Russian-made anti-tank missiles were used by Hezbollah guerrillas in their 34-day conflict with Israeli forces in Lebanon.

Asaf Shariv, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said that the delegation had gone to Russia, but did not elaborate.

The anti-tank missiles proved to be one of Hezbollah’s most effective weapons in combat in south Lebanon, killing many of the 118 Israeli soldiers who died in the clashes.

Israeli officials say that Iran and Syria passed the arms to Hezbollah after buying them from Russia.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said Russia maintains strict controls over its weapons sales that “makes any inaccuracy in weapons destinations impossible.”

Anatoly Tsyganok, head of Russia’s Military Forecasting Center, ruled out the possibility that modern anti-tank weapons had reached Hezbollah through Russia or Syria.

“Any accusations alleging Russian or Syrian deliveries of anti-tank weapons to any forces in Lebanon are unfounded. The Israeli side has not presented any evidence of this, and it is unlikely that it will,” Tsyganok was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

“Most probably, such weapons, should Hezbollah militants really have any, might have been brought to Lebanon through third countries,” he added.

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Israel Tries To Identify Latest Hezbollah Rocket Threat

Israel Tries To Identify Latest Hezbollah Rocket Threat
Aviation Week & Space Technology
08/07/2006, page 28

Robert Wall

David A. Fulghum

Douglas Barrie

Israel continues to attack Hezbollah's rocket arsenal, but larger and more destructive threats loom

Israel's ability to sustain prolonged around-the-clock air combat operations is partially due to fielding of sophisticated sensors. But the technology advance has not enabled the Israelis to avoid costly targeting missteps, or to suppress the Hezbollah rocket threat or pinpoint the adversary's weapons supplier.

Hezbollah rocket launchers have been a primary target for the Israeli air force's F-15s, F-16s and bevy of unmanned aircraft, which have all been fitted with electro-optical/infrared sensors to spot and engage those targets. And, while launchers are taken down daily, the rate of Hezbollah operations appears unaffected, and there are signs of potential escalation in the projectiles' lethality and range.

Moreover, information gathered by the airborne sensors is raising as many questions as it answers for military planners, particularly when it comes to identifying the main suppliers of weaponry to Hezbollah.

Israeli air strikes have revealed unusual rocket launcher configurations that can't always be clearly identified. Credit: IDF

For instance, Israeli officials say most of the Hezbollah arms used appear linked to a Syrian supply chain, rather than an Iranian one--although the latter would also have to come through Syria. The strength of the Syrian connection is highlighted by the use of the 220mm. Urugan rockets, says an Israeli official. The weapon was developed by the Soviet Union, and has been exported to Syria.

Launchers seen in Lebanon differ from the Soviet design, with only one layer of four tubes rather than the standard three layers, two with six tubes and one with four. Officials suspect the change was made to accommodate a lighter vehicle.

But Israel isn't always certain where the weapons originated. For instance, while the 302mm. system resembles the Chinese WS-1 mounted on a more modern vehicle, the official says, it doesn't appear to be the Chinese system. Moreover, that configuration has not been seen in Iran, he adds, although the basic WS-1 has been exported there. The launchers feature two layers of three firing tubes each.

So far, four types of surface-to-surface unguided rockets have been identified, with the longest firing covering about 100 km. (62 mi.). This shot occurred from Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.

In addition to the launchers, the Israeli air force is targeting what it claims to be key elements of Hezbollah's infrastructure. The air force has been using U.S. GPS-guided bombs and possibly laser-guided GBU-28s, along with Israeli systems, likely including the Spice family of electro-optically guided 1,000- and 2000-lb.-class munitions.

One former Israeli air force officer points out most missions are being flown at night. "It's more than 50% and it's due to the technology. In the past, fighters have been restricted at night. In this war, night is not a factor," he says. In fact, night operations are better because the Hezbollah fighters feel protected by the darkness.

Raids have relied heavily on precision weapons, such as the Spice missile family. Credit: Rafael

Meanwhile, military planners also are bracing for Hezbollah to start using more capable weaponry. As of late last week, Israeli officials suggested they had seen no evidence of Hezbollah using either the Fajr-3 or Fajr-5 Iranian-developed rockets. The 240mm.-dia. Fajr-3 has a 40-km. range, while the 333mm. Fajr-5 can span about 75 km.

However, Israeli officials have seen signs the 210-km.-range Zelzal-2 could make a battlefield appearance, which they believe would represent clear Iranian involvement. The weapon had not been fired as of late last week, but Israeli air force pilots reported spotting and destroying at least one launcher. While the Zelzal isn't viewed as highly accurate, the Israeli official says the 600-kg. (1,323-lb.) warhead would be adequate to do significant damage.

Zelzal employment could provide Israel the best chance of an active air defense, however, which is something it doesn't have against the lower-trajectory, shorter-range weapons. The Zelzal-2 flight profile is similar to the shorter-range ballistic missiles Iraq fired during the 2003 war, which were intercepted by Patriot batteries.

ALSO PUZZLING ISRAELI officials is the infrequency of the use of long-range rockets. Designed as rapid-fire, multiple-launch systems, attacks so far have been carried out one shot at a time, even though the launchers are cumbersome to set up. By far the largest number of firings have come using the shorter-range 122mm. Grad-type, both in a basic and extended-range version.

Unmanned aerial vehicles are providing the Israeli forces persistent surveillance with electro-optical/infrared and synthetic aperture radar. "Electro-optical sensors are integrated on the F-15s, F-16s and UAVs and they are the best we've ever had. The video is great. The video from the UAVs is particularly good because they are sitting 10,000-15,000 ft. directly over the target looking straight down with the minimum of atmospheric haze," says the former senior officer.

He notes that Israel, after leading for years in air combat operational capabilities, now is trying to catch up with the networked, around-the-clock pace the U.S. has been refining since 2001.

Limitations remain, and highlight Israel's poor human intelligence in Lebanon, compared to the West Bank and and Gaza Strip. The July 30 attack on a building in Qana that killed dozens of civilians made the targeting problems all too apparent. Late last week, Israeli officials defended the Qana raid, which involved two missiles, the second a dud. They note that 150 rockets were launched from within the village of Qana and insist they were operating with information no civilians were at the site. Israel will review its rules of engagement, the defense ministry says, but with a clear indication it will not rein in pilots' ability to act.

Ground incursions into Hezbollah positions, such as the village of Maroun A-Ras, have also taken placeCredit: IDF

Israel operations have also been aided by the expedited delivery of weapons from the U.S. And while 16 daily passes by U.S. reconnaissance satellites are allowing Washington to keep a close watch on the region, the extent of intelligence-sharing with Israel isn't known.

In the past five years, Israel has been honing its urban combat operations, with unmanned aircraft providing target imagery and building coordinates, allowing missile-firing helicopters to remain outside of the lethal range of man-portable air-defense weapons. Tow missiles have long been a preferred option for Israeli helicopter pilots in urban scenarios, because they view them as more accurate than the Hellfire. Tow missiles also appear to have found favor with Hezbollah--images of a haul of captured weapons show Tow cases, with a 2001 date stenciled on the side of the box.

HEZBOLLAH IS KNOWN to have a variety of shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, although it is not clear how much these are being used in the conflict.

Moreover, Israeli air force officials say they have been employing their full complement of aviation assets, from F-15s and F-16s to Apache and Cobra attack helicopters to CH-53s andUH-60s. In addition to the large number of unmanned aircraft, officials acknowledge the modified King-Air Tzufit reconnaissance aircraft also has been used.

Iran: The Ascendant Threat

Iran: The Ascendant Threat
Aviation Week & Space Technology
08/14/2006, page 58

Now that Iran is known to have abetted--or instigated--Hezbollah's attack on Israel with advisers, not just weapons (see p. 20), it's possible to see the fighting in southern Lebanon for what it is. Until now it has seemed to be a relatively contained conflict in which a nation is defending itself from a terrorist group, albeit with a risk of escalation and disturbing civilian casualties on both sides. Now, it's clear that far more is involved, and far more is at stake.

The ability of a small but determined minority to rob its country or a neighboring country of peace and stability is nothing new. The Irish Republican Army, separatists in Spain and rebels in Chechnya, among other groups, have followed this path. On Israel's other borders and inside that nation itself, so has Hamas.

What's different here is the growing influence of Iran. It seems clear that Iran is emerging as the most potent military force in the Middle East, now that the U.S. has eliminated Iraq as a counterweight. Keeping nuclear weapons out of Iran's arsenal may now depend on diplomacy, given uncertainty about U.S. intelligence capabilities and whether military action against Iran would be feasible, much less wise. And now, Iran has a puppet in Lebanon, a surrogate to visit on Israel the hatred of the region's extremists and sweep along the moderate Arab states.

Hezbollah is different, too, in its capabilities. This is no ragtag bunch firing rocket-propelled grenades from behind wrecked cars. They are capable of that, but through Iran's patronage they also are proficient with U.S.-designed TOW anti-tank weapons, Chinese ground-to-ground missiles, several types of Russian anti-armor weapons and Iranian UAVs. Hezbollah has become more sophisticated in hardware and tactics during the past few years.

This is asymmetric warfare taken a step forward. Iran's combination of oil wealth and religious fanaticism, and the ready availability of arms, has made it so.

It will be much more difficult to end Iran's influence in Lebanon than it was to oust Syria a few years ago, but this is a necessary first step in restoring the Israel-Lebanon border and Lebanon's control over its own territory. Establishing a peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon will be equally difficult and equally necessary. Iran is a player in all of this, and unlike Syria, Iran doesn't need or want financial or political help from any other country. The combination of financial independence and political volatility is a potent bargaining advantage.

But this is where the situation is leading everyone. The U.S., seen increasingly around the world as having taken Israel's side, almost inevitably will be a follower, not the leader. Asymmetric warfare in Iraq and Lebanon is giving two of the world's most powerful, technologically advanced military machines far tougher problems than they ever would have expected. Let's just hope that U.S. defense strategists take to heart the lessons that come out of these experiences.

Iranian Advisers Influence Course of Lebanon/Israel Conflict

Iranian Advisers Influence Course of Lebanon/Israel Conflict
Aviation Week & Space Technology
08/14/2006, page 20

David A. Fulghum

Douglas Barrie

New operations, advanced weapons, Iranian advisers are influencing the course of Lebanon/Israel conflict

Printed headline: The Iranian Connection

New operations, advanced weapons, Iranian advisers are influencing the course of Lebanon/Israel conflict.

The Iranian government has a cadre of "hundreds" of technical advisers in Lebanon that trained, and continue to support, Hezbollah forces in the use of sophisticated anti-ship and anti-tank missiles and unmanned aircraft. No evidence has yet emerged, however, that the Iranians are actually operating any weaponry in the fighting, say U.S. officials.

"It's not just a matter of turning weapons over to Hezbollah," a U.S. intelligence official says. "They also have to provide the training [for such advanced weapons]." Other munitions possessed by Iran (particularly those bought from Russia) have not been used in the Lebanon/Israel conflict, because the provenance would be obvious and, in some cases, "the Iranians don't want to be associated with that," he says. Nonetheless, "there is evidence that Iranians are in the country training Hezbollah." They remain in Lebanon, but until late last week appeared to have avoided direct participation in combat.

A CHINESE-DESIGNED C-802 ANTI-SHIP missile, displayed at a military parade in Iran, was the likely weapon used by Hezbollah to damage an Israeli corvette and sink a civilian cargo ship.

That situation may have changed, however, with the discovery of papers on the bodies of soldiers killed in Southern Lebanon on Aug. 9 that identified them as members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. "There's a possibility they could have been operating systems, but they weren't necessarily fighting. It could have been a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time," the intelligence official said.

"Despite a couple of reports that the Iranians were at the controls of rocket launchers in the early part of the conflict, that's not our conclusion," the U.S. intelligence official says. "The group was originally in the hundreds. We haven't seen any large numbers leave." The Iranian government denies that they have advisers or trainers in Lebanon. The U.S. State Dept. says the Iranians provide arms and funding, but won't answer questions about advisers. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sources put the number of advisers at about 100.

U.S. ANALYSTS WON'T confirm that the Hezbollah UAV shot down in the Mediterranean by Israeli fighters last week was operated by Iranians or even Iranian-trained insurgents. But, obtaining the aircraft and learning how to launch and program its flight "would have taken outside help," the intelligence official says. Hezbollah's first recorded incursion into Israeli airspace with a UAV occurred in late 2004.

PIECES OF A UAV WITH HEZBOLLAH MARKINGS on its twin vertical stabilizers were pulled from the sea off Israel after it was shot down by an Israeli fighter. A detached piece of flaperon (center of photo above) is apparently from a forward canard wing. The aircraft was blown to pieces by an air-to-air missile. An intact UAV is to the right.

An IDF infrared video taken from high altitude, directly over the interception, shows an Israeli F-16 (from 110 Sqdn. at Ramat David AB) attacking the UAV. Shortly before coming abreast of the unmanned craft, the fighter fires what was likely a Python 4 missile controlled by a helmet-mounted sight. The missile makes a rapid turn of more than 100 deg. and strikes the UAV, just after the fighter passes it. The film may have been doctored to hide the true infrared picture of the Israeli fighter.

Fragments of the UAV recovered from the water by the IDF shows a 10-ft.-wide wing broken in two at the fuselage with twin vertical stabilizers (marked with Hezbollah insignia) well inboard of the wingtips (see center photo). An unattached flight control appears to be from the smaller canard airfoil attached to the forward fuselage.

International aerospace industry officials, without being specific, say that countries other than Iran are also working with various insurgent groups in the region, including Hezbollah. They point out Russian anti-aircraft missile sales to Syria and the Mar. 3 visit of a Hamas delegation to Moscow. U.S. intelligence analysts say Syria is supplying some arms to Hezbollah, but not at the level of Iran, nor does it appear to have training cadres in Lebanon. They contend that while Chinese weaponry is being used, it was either transferred in the 1990s or came from illegal sales through intermediaries. The U.S. recently announced a two-year trade sanction against arms trader Rosoboronexport for selling the TOR-M1 (SA-15 Gauntlet) air defense missile system to Iran. That move may backfire since Russian support is critical to U.N. approval of any U.S.-orchestrated cease-fire agreement in Lebanon.

So far, the most spectacular use of a Chinese weapons system was the attack on the Hanit, an Israeli Saar 5 missile corvette. Hezbollah operators appear to have fired two C-802 anti-ship missiles in a high-low flight profile against the Israeli ship. The turbojet-powered C-802 has a range of up to 120 km. (74.5 mi.) and a 155-kg. (341-lb.) blast-fragmentation warhead. Damage to the Saar 5 did not reflect a direct hit by a weapon in this class, however, which suggests either a glancing blow or a partial warhead failure. Two impact areas appear to be visible on the Hanit--one amidship, the other at the front of the helicopter deck. Both are just above the waterline. The second missile sank a merchant ship. Other analysts are suggesting that the Hanit may have been hit by one or more short-range missiles while a single high-trajectory C-802 served as a decoy for the ship's defenses. That view may be supported by the fact that the ship appears to have been within the minimum range required by the C-802 to function properly.

Iran is a recipient of the C-802. A brochure published by Iran's aerospace industries organization's cruise systems group describes both ship- and truck-launched versions of the missile, known as Noor in Iran. The launch vehicle illustrated can carry three missiles. Also described is the radar and command vehicle for the system.

Russian-made RPG-29s from Iran and Kornet-E and Metis-M anti-tank missiles provided by Syria have been used in massive volleys as key weapons in tank ambushes that disabled some of Israel's top-of-the-line Merkava III heavy tanks.

THE ISRAELI AIR FORCE'S NEWLY OPERATIONAL Heron/ Eagle I UAV is providing persistent surveillance of the battlefield for the first time, but Hezbollah rocket launchers remain elusive targets.Credit: Elbit

IRAN REVEALED a further addition to its UAV inventory--what appears to be an anti-radiation drone known as Toufan 2--in a military parade earlier this year (AW&ST Apr. 24, p. 59) (see photo p. 20). Israeli officials had described the UAV fished out of Israeli waters last week as a Mirsad-1 built by Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries. However, the debris appears to be that of a related, but slightly larger, canard-wing Ababil-3 (Swallow). Israeli sources say a few dozen Lebanese were trained to operate the aircraft by members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah was supplied with up to eight of the vehicles. Hezbollah officials claim the aircraft can carry 40-50 kg. of explosives deep into Israel, but U.S. analysts questioned the claim because of the 3-3.25-meter wingspan and 10-25-hp. engines attributed to that size UAV. Israeli analysts suggested the Ababil might just edge into the 40-kg. payload class.

There also is some suspense in the U.S. intelligence community about the weaponry still in Hezbollah's arsenal. There is growing concern about long-range missiles (such as the 210-km. Zelzal-2) that can reach Tel Aviv and the SA-18 surface-to-air munitions. Syria purchased them from Russia, but despite speculation they may have been passed to Hezbollah, they have not yet been used in the current conflict.

Senior U.S. officials in Iraq earlier had validated that the advanced anti-aircraft missile was in the region as early as 2004 and that it might be employed against U.S. aircraft, particularly lower-flying helicopters. The SA-16 had been used, they confirmed, leading the U.S. Army to change routes, altitude and tactics for its helicopters and low-flying transports. Israeli strike aircraft don't appear to be operating in either missile's altitude envelope; however, slow-flying UAVs do fly as low as 10,000 ft. which could make them a target. Israeli Air Force officials have pointed to persistent UAV observations as a crucial component for round-the-clock bombing campaigns.

But while the shoulder-fired SAMs are troublesome, the weapons that might change the complexion of the conflict for the worse are the long-range, surface-to-surface missiles.

The U.S. has no solid information about the true operational intent of the Israelis, the intelligence official says. However, if Hezbollah does as it promises and uses new, longer-range missiles to strike Tel Aviv, "Israel will retaliate in a strong way," he says. "When we were evacuating U.S. citizens, the Israelis agreed to give us a clear corridor out [of Lebanon]. But now they've made a mess of the country. It's difficult to move around with the damage they've inflicted."

AS A RESULT, there isn't much more physically for the Israelis to attack. Other than continuing to strike Hezbollah strongholds in south Beirut, there are few targets. But with the cease-fire nearing, a surprise launching of Hezbollah's longer-range rockets could happen at any time, the U.S. official warns.

"There's not that much more [for the IAF] to destroy that will be productive, so they will go after the Hezbollah leadership which is pretty much dug in and has not moved across the border into Syria," the intelligence official says.

By last week, Israel's Ministry of Defense tallied 4,400 targets that had been struck in Lebanon since July 12. During the same period, a full-time Hezbollah force of 2,000-4,000 combatants launched more than 3,500 rockets at Israel. That's a small percentage of the arsenal of 10,000-12,000 rockets and 1,000-1,500 launchers (of which about 300 have been destroyed) that Hezbollah assembled before the war along the Lebanon-Israel border started, the U.S. intelligence official says. Many of the missiles and launchers are stored in civilian dwellings and in a complex of tunnels, which allows operators to move into the open, fire and return to hiding within minutes, he says.

Israeli forces will try to go as far north and east as possible--likely to the Syrian border--before a U.N.-sponsored cease-fire is enforced, says the U.S. intelligence official.

"None of this fighting will have done them any good if their [occupying] forces can be flanked by the Hezbollah without going into Syria," he says. "No doubt the Israelis will try to hang on to a buffer area of 8-12 km. and they won't withdraw before the cease-fire. History shows us that the territory you have at the cease-fire is where the boundaries are drawn."