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Thread: Middle East Alert
Jun 23rd, 2010 7:44 AM #51
Iran on war alert over "US and Israeli concentrations" in Azerbaijan
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 23, 2010
Iran's land forces on the readyIn a rare move, Iran has declared a state of war on its northwestern border, debkafile's military and Iranian sources report. Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps men and equipment units are being massed in the Caspian Sea region against what Tehran claims are US and Israeli forces concentrated on army and air bases in Azerbaijan ready to strike Iran's nuclear facilities.
The announcement came on Tuesday, June 22 from Brig.-Gen Mehdi Moini of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), commander of the forces tasked with "repelling" this American-Israeli offensive. He said: "The mobilization is due to the presence of American and Israeli forces on the western border," adding, "Reinforcements are being dispatched to West Azerbaijan Province because some western countries are fueling ethnic conflicts to destabilize the situation in the region."
In the past, Iranian officials have spoken of US and Israel attacks in general terms. debkafile's Iranian sources note that this is the first time that a specific location was mentioned and large reinforcements dispatched to give the threat substance.
Other Iranian sources report that in the last few days, Israel has secretly transferred a large number of bomber jets to bases in Azerbaijan, via Georgia, and that American special forces are also concentrated in Azerbaijan in preparation for a strike.
No comment has come from Azerbaijan about any of these reports. Iranian Azerbaijan, the destination of the Revolutionary Guards forces reinforcements, borders on Turkey, Iraq and Armenia. Witnesses say long IRGC convoys of tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft units and infantry are seen heading up the main highways to Azerbaijan and then further north to the Caspian Sea.
On Tuesday, June 22, Dr. Uzi Arad, head of Israel's National Security Council and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's closest adviser, said "The latest round of UN Security Council sanctions on Iran is inadequate for thwarting its nuclear progress. A preemptive military strike might eventually be necessary."
debkafile's intelligence and Iranian sources point to three other developments as setting off Iran's war alert:
1. A certain (limited) reinforcement of American and Israeli forces has taken place in Azerbaijan. Neither Washington nor Jerusalem has ever acknowledged a military presence in this country that borders on Iran, but Western intelligence sources say that both keep a wary eye on the goings-on inside Iran from electronic surveillance bases in that country.
2. Iran feels moved to respond to certain US steps: The arrival of the USS Harry S. Truman Strike Group in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea and its war games with France and Israel, which included live-fire bombing practices against targets in Iran.
3. The execution of Abdolmalek Rigi, head of the Sunni Baluchi rebel organization (including the Iranian Baluchis), on June 20 was intended as a deterrent for Iran's other minorities. Instead, they are more restive than ever. Several Azeri breakaway movements operate in Iranian Azerbaijan in combination with their brethren across the border. Tehran decided a substantial buildup in the province would serve as a timely measure against possible upheavals.
Jun 24th, 2010 7:39 AM #52
ME war tensions mount over Gaza-bound "enemy ships." Hizballah pledges reprisal
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 24, 2010
The stop-go Lebanese JuliaOminous clouds gathered over the Mediterranean Thursday, June 24 after Israel announced that ships bound for Gaza would be deemed "enemy vessels" and halted by its navy by whatever means were necessary. Hizballah shot back with a threat of violent retaliation, while Israel's northern commander warned that the IDF was prepared to deal with threats from Lebanon by "appropriate means."
With two ships, one Lebanese and one Iranian, already at sea, the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was reported by debkafile's intelligence sources as coupling his public support for the sea campaign to break Israel's blockade of Gaza with a quiet bid to stall it.
He privately asked Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and the Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi to deny Lebanese ships bound for Gaza permission to drop anchor, refuel or load provisions at their ports, in order to prevent them from proceeding to Gaza.
Hariri explained that he feared the flotilla campaign to break the Israeli blockade would precipitate a new Middle East war.
Last week, the freighter "Julia," docked at the North Lebanese port of Tripoli was denied permission to head to Gaza Port. Refusing to be put off, the activists decided to sail first to Cyprus and then head for Gaza. Permission was granted by the Lebanese Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi Wednesday, June 23.
On Thursday, June 24, Israel repeated its warning that ships trying to breach its blockade against the Gaza Strip would be deemed "enemy vessels." The Israeli Navy has been instructed to employ every available means to bar their access to Gaza's shore. Israel OC Northern Command Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said: "The Lebanese side is issuing threats against Israel and we are confident that the Israeli army is preparing to confront these threats in an appropriate manner."
He was referring to Hizballah's announcement: "We will not stand by idly if Israel attacks ships bound for Gaza. Detainees taken into Israeli custody (aboard those vessels) will be deemed prisoners of war who must be released.
As the climate over the Mediterranean heats up, two ships are either at sea or hours away from embarkation - the Julia from Lebanon and an Iranian ship, which is said to be making for the Suez Canal from the Persian Gulf port of Khorramshahr.
In his calls to the Greek, Turkish, Cypriot and Maltese leaders, the Lebanese prime minister admitted that the embarkation of the pro-Palestinian vessels from his ports violates US Resolution 1701 enforcing the Israel-Lebanon ceasefire which ended the 2006 war, but he was helpless to stop them because they were backed by powerful elements. Hariri did not say who they were, but they were understood to be Syria and Hizballah.
He stressed that more urgent issues confronted Beirut than the Gaza blockade, such as the Shaaba Farms on the Hermon slopes, which he said, "Hizballah only talks about liberating but has not fired a single shell." Hariri made it clear that by sponsoring the ships for Gaza, Hizballah is bringing Lebanon dangerously close to a clash with Israel.
Unlike the May 31 episode, when the activists who resisted Israel's raid of a Turkish ship to prevent if from reaching Gaza were unknown quantities, this time, on Thursday, Israeli intelligence sources released the identities of the ships' owners and the organizations mounting the expeditions.
The Lebanese "Julia" belongs to a Syrian shipping firm headed by a cousin of President Bashar Assad, who made it available to Hizballah for the challenge to Israel. The Lebanese flotilla effort is funded by a Palestinian by the name of Yasser Kashlak who, posing as a wealthy businessman, serves as Tehran's secret channel for remitting funds to Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist organizations, including Hamas.
Therefore, Israel's designation of these ships and those of Iran as enemy vessels meets the case.
From Washington, debkafile reports that when Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on June 22, he voiced extreme concern about the Lebanese Prime Minister's inability to rein in Hizballah. Because of this, the situation in the region could rapidly deteriorate, said Barak.
Right after the meeting, the US issued a statement about the "aid" flotillas saying, "Direct delivery by sea is neither appropriate nor responsible, and certainly not effective, under the circumstances. There is no need for unnecessary confrontations, and we, along with our partners in the Quartet, call on all parties to act responsibly in meeting the needs of the people of Gaza."
Jun 24th, 2010 10:45 AM #53
June 24, 2010
Focus U.S.A. / 'The U.S. will have to confront Iran or give up the Middle East'
Amitai Etzioni, professor of International Relations at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., believes the only option available to contain Iran's atomic ambitions is a series of assaults on its non-nuclear facilities.
Israel news Israel US Iran Iran nuclear Amitai Etzioni, professor of International Relations at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., believes the only option available to contain Iran's atomic ambitions is a series of assaults on its non-nuclear facilities. He maintains that President Obama's attempts at dialogue have failed, and drastic steps must be taken to prevent the U.S. losing its Middle East dominance to Tehran.
Writing in the U.S. Army's "Military Review" journal, Etzioni lists four possible responses to Iran's nuclear program - engagement, sanctions, military strikes and deterrence. He concludes that engagement has failed, sanctions are not likely to work, military strikes on Iran's suspected nuclear sites are unlikely to be effective either and might only delay the program (Defense Secretary Robert Gates believes this would probably be by one to three years), and deterrence works with rational actors, but it’s a gamble to rely on it with non-rational actors. This, he hypothesizes, leaves strikes on Iranian infrastructure that is not necessarily related to its nuclear program.
Speaking to Haaretz on Wednesday, Etzioni concedes that such a move could be interpreted by Iran as a declaration of full-scale war.
“That’s a fair point," he says, "but what’s the alternative? The best way will be to sit at the table and solve all our problems peacefully. I was in war, I was in the Palmach [the pre-state Jewish fighting units that became the basis for the Israel Defense Forces], and I don’t like shooting anybody. It comes to the declaration that there are no other alternatives. Sanctions are not going to work, everybody knows that. Assuming that if they have nuclear weapons we are going to contain them – it’s a very risky assumption.”
This option is not mentioned in the mainstream discourse.
“But it was published in the official U.S. army publication as a cover story. It says something, no? It’s not simply what a professor says. I agree that the White House is far from it, but somebody considered it worth discussing. You must assume that the military option covers several options”.
One of the strategic assets of Israel today vis-à-vis Iran is the fact that the Arab countries are on its side. Wouldn't that vanish in the event of such an attack?
“We do not want Iran to have a nuclear weapon and there is no way you can damage nuclear sites sufficiently by attacking them. There is only one alternative left. I should hasten to add – it’s not a policy Israel has to follow, it’s a policy the U.S. can follow because there are too many missions involved. Some people say Israel should do it and then the U.S. can enter under the excuse that it’s its ally, and some people think coalition is better. Coalition is always better, but in this case it’s very unlikely that many other nations would like to join the Administration.
What’s happening in the Middle East is that the countries are assuming that the U.S. is going to fold and retreat. It’s obviously going to get out of Iraq. The Pakistanis are very suspicious of the US commitments. Syria is moving toward Iran, Turkey is moving toward Iran. So the underlying text in the Middle East is that the next superpower in the Middle East is Iran.
So even if you for a moment put aside the nuclear issue – to keep the U.S. credibility to protects its resources and oil, the issue will not be settled in Afghanistan and Iraq, it will finally come down to the confrontation between the U.S. and Iran. So maybe the U.S. should get out of Afghanistan, because it’s not the real war anymore. But if the U.S. is going to let Iran to become a nuclear power – all the other countries, including the Sunni ones, will run to it. The U.S. will have to confront Iran or give up the Middle East”.
So the hope that the Iranian opposition might still bring an inner change is lost?
“I think by now the tyrannical regime succeeded in suppressing the opposition. And another point - I was their guest in Iran in 2002, of the Center for Dialogue Among Civilizations. And I met many leaders in this movement. They were the first to start the nuclear program. They are against religious domination, but there is not a slightest hint that they will stop the nuclear program if they come back to power. Democracy might be wonderful, but even though they are anti-clerical, they are very nationalistic.”
We have the cliché that the clock is ticking. What kind of timetable did you assume while writing this article?
“I don’t have any other information than everybody else has. But there is a rule in decision making – it’s extremely simplistic but very true – it’s better be safe than sorry. So if the option is to hit them one month too early or 10 days after they have a nuclear weapon – I’d rather take the first option. And obviously there is not much time left”.
President Obama offered to the world dialogue as a new paradigm, wouldn’t it shatter this premise?
“The time for engagement has run out. Obama tried it, offered to meet them any time, any place, with no conditions – and they spit in his face. So it’s not going anyplace, it’s not working. The Arab world is moving away from him, Turkey is moving away from him. The notion of engagement and turning another cheek is a wonderful idea, it’s just not working.”
But the damage of throwing it away after a year and a half might cause more damage and erase any credibility left. Then going back to torture sounds fine as well.
“It’s a good point. They should never torture and of course they shouldn’t go back to business as usual. But you cannot conduct international relations [on] goodwill only. And Iran is a very good test of that. Maybe 50 years from now this strategy will win, but in the short term it’s giving up on the Middle East. The U.S. army is exhausted and overstretched, that’s why I think they should get out of Afghanistan. And second, I think it’s an air force job and not an army job. There should be no boots on the ground”.
That’s what the Israeli high command thought at the beginning of the second war in Lebanon - that they could bomb some strategic sites and Hezbollah would fold. It didn’t happen.
“True, there are many studies showing that the air attacks are not as effective as people think they are. But we always come back to the question - if we might try and fail, should we not try? We are talking about the U.S. credibility as an international power. People might think: Iran is not going to attack the U.S., so let them create the bomb and if they get nasty we will drop a nuclear bomb on them. That is a logical position. But you cannot remain in the Middle East as a superpower unless you deal with Iran one way or another.”
Jun 26th, 2010 8:32 AM #54
Erdogan faces US stick, Kurdish rebel upsurge, yet clings to anti-Israel stance
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 26, 2010
Turkish army blames Erdogan for setbacks against rebelsAs he took off for the G20 summit opening in Toronto Saturday, June 26, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan came under an exceptionally acerbic US rebuke for a NATO member.
He was accused of alienating the US and the West and told he needed to demonstrate Ankara's commitment to their (NATO) partnership by Philip Gordon, top US diplomat on European affairs, in a clear rejection of the Turkish prime minister's assertion in parliament Tuesday June 15: "There's no shift in Turkey's axis. Turkey is not a city state, it's not a state on which agendas are imposed," he said.
Taking Turkey to task for opposing the new UN sanctions on Iran and its anti-Israel rhetoric over the pro-Palestinian flotilla incident, the US official pointed out: "There are people asking questions about it in a way that is new, and that in itself is a bad thing that makes it harder for the United States to support some of the things that Turkey would like to see us support."
The Turkish prime minister is also in hot water at home, according to our military sources. Before he flew to Canada, his generals, led by chief of staff Gen. Ilker Basbug, demand that he publicly disavow his insinuations that Israel had a hand in the new Kurdish rebel offensive against the Turkish military.
His campaign against Israel, they charged, had caused him to neglect the front against the Kurdish PKK rebels, as a result of which Turkish military deaths were rising. Since June 19, 18 soldiers and several civilians had died in eastern Turkey and Istanbul and 50 in the last two months.
Erdogan promised to consider issuing this disavowal but had not done so before his departure even though high-placed sources in Washington say it would have improved his prospects of seeing the US president and helped ease the frictions between Ankara and Jerusalem.
Instead, he was treated to a cold shower from a high-placed US official over Ankara's turn towards Tehran and its allies and campaign against Israel, instead of the certain prospect of a meeting with US President Barack Obama in Toronto.
Following his tour of the Kurdish-Iraqi front lines Sunday, June 20, the General Staff announced on Friday, June 25, that it will "professionalize the operational military forces serving at the borders in parallel with the process of professionalizing six commando brigades to counter terrorism."
During that tour, Turkish military leaders warned their prime minister that by snidely accusing Israel - "We all know who is behind PKK attacks" - he is helping the rebel Kurdish Workers Party's (PKK) cause and encouraging them to redouble their attacks on Turkish troops from their havens in the Qandil Mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan
They stressed that no intelligence data bore out this accusation and, by dragging Israel into the conflict, Erdogan encouraged the Iraqi Kurdistan president Masoud Barzani to strengthen his military and intelligence ties with Israel and the PKK at the expense of relations with Turkey, when his main objective should be to persuade Barzani to stop giving them sanctuary.
Pressed again, the Turkish prime minister promised to clear the air. His aides then promised a retraction to ward of pressure from another quarter, Washington, over his deepening ties with Tehran, Syria and Hizballah, in response to concerns voiced by the visiting US State Department's first special representative to the Muslim Communities, Farah Pandith.
The invitation Erdogan extended to Hizballah's Hassan Nasrallah to pay an official visit to Ankara (which debkafile first revealed on June 22) had raised the dust in the Obama administration. In the event, the visit was called off - though not by Ankara but by the Hizballah leader who feared that no security service could promise him a safe return home.
Beset by rising acrimony from Washington, charges of neglecting national security at home and the Turkish armed forces' inability to contend with the PKK's onslaught, Erdogan has temporarily shelved his threatened operations against Israel.
Since the pro-Palestinian flotilla led by the Turkish Mavi Marmara was intercepted and redirected to Israeli Ashdod on May 31 - leaving nine Turkish activists dead - no further attempts have been made to break Israel's Gaza blockade, whether by Turkey, Iran or Lebanon.
Iran, reluctant to carry the can on its own, announced Friday its "aid ship" was delayed by "restrictions from the occupying Zionist regime," while the Turkish prime minister decided to heed a confidential appeal from Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri not to allow Lebanese craft to set out from Turkey, or ports from Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, after Israel warned they would be treated as "enemy vessels."
The Turkish leader has set aside some of his more provocative actions for the time being, but debkafile's Ankara sources stress he has not given up on his dream to raise his country to the pinnacle of a new Muslim Middle East bloc - in the first instance, by throwing in Turkey's lot with the most radical Middle East forces dedicated to Israel's destruction.
Jun 28th, 2010 10:30 PM #55
Third US carrier, 4,000 Marines augment US armada opposite Iran
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 28, 2010
USS Nassau: More US naval-air-marine muscle off Irandebkafile's military sources report that Washington has posted a third carrier opposite Iran's shores. It is supported by amphibious assault ships and up to 4,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel, bringing the total US strength in these waters to three carriers and 10,000 combat personnel.
The USS Nassau (LHA-4) Amphibious Ready Group 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, tasked with supporting the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet area of operations, is cruising around the Bab al-Mandeb Straits where the Gulf of Aden flows into the Red Sea.
Its presence there accounts for Tehran announcing Sunday, June 27 that its "aid ship for Gaza" had been called off, for fear an American military boarding party would intercept the vessel and search it. This would be permissible under the latest UN sanctions punishing the Islamic Republic for its nuclear program.
The third US carrier group to reach waters around Iran consists of three vessels:
1. The USS Nassau Amphibious Assault ship is not just an enormous landing craft for the 3,000 Marines aboard; its decks carry 6 vertical take-off AV-HB Harrier attack plans; four AH-1W Super Cobra, twelve CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters, as well choppers convertible to fast V-22 Osprey airplanes capable of landing in any conditions.
This vast warship has 1,400 cabinets for sleeping the entire Marine-24th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard.
2. The amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde which carries 800 Marines equipped for instantaneous landing.
3. The amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland which carries 400 Marines and 102 commandos trained for special operations behind enemy lines.
Debkafile adds: The USS Ashland was the target of an al Qaeda Katyusha rocket attack in 2005 when it was docked in Jordan's Aqaba port next door to the Israeli port of Eilat. One of the rockets exploded in Eilat airport. The ship exited harbor in time to escape harm.
These new arrivals are a massive injection of naval, air and marine muscle to the strength Washington has deployed in the Persian Gulf-Red Sea-Indian Ocean arena in recent months. The USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group consisting of twelve warships is cruising in the Arabian Sea opposite Chah Bahar, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards biggest naval base not far from the Iranian-Pakistan border. It is there that most of Iran's special commando units are housed.
Also posted in the Arabian Sea, further to the west, is the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Strike Group.
Jun 30th, 2010 10:45 AM #56
Turkey: We'll force Israel to take responsibility for its crimes
DEBKAfile Special Report June 30, 2010
Turkish injured taken to hospital in IsraelIf Israelis in high official places were still slow to get the message of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's implacable anti-Israel campaign, they only had to listen to foreign ministry spokesman Burak Ozgergin's vow in Ankara Wednesday, June 30: The (Turkish) public," he said, "will see in step after step (taken by Turkey) how Ankara gets Israel to admit its crimes."
He noted that Turkey had not once, but twice denied Israeli military planes entry to Turkish airspace.
Debkafile's sources report that this verbal assault was consistent with the "revelation" unveiled Monday, June 28, by the Turkish MAZLUM-DER organization, also known as The Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples, just before Erdogan flew home from Toronto where he attended the G20 summit and had a disastrous interview with US president Barack Obama.
The MAZLUM-DER spokesman Yasin Divrak suddenly alleged that the nine Turks who died in a clash aboard the Gaza blockade-busting Mavi Marmara on May 31 were killed by shots from Israeli helicopters. He strongly challenged the Israeli case and its video footage attesting to Israeli commandos fighting back when set upon with knives and axes by violent activists as they landed on deck.
The spokesman of MAZLUM-DER, which has an anti-Israel extremist record, presented four arguments to support his charge of Israeli war crimes:
1. Examinations of the bodies in Ankara showed that the victims were not killed by the commandos in self- defense but by helicopters, meaning that the Israelis shot first.
2. Autopsies showed some of the Turkish dead were shot several times in the head, i.e., from above, from the air. The Turkish "peace activists" were therefore "executed."
3. The returned Turkish bodies were washed in alcohol to conceal evidence of gunpowder or chemical substances allegedly used by the naval commandos.
4. In all the bodies except one, the fatal bullets were not found. One bullet was found lodged in the brain of the activist Ibrahim Bilgen. It was of type which the Turkish doctors and ballistic experts said they had never seen before. The spokesman implied that this particular bullet was left in place as an Israel warning of what Turkey should expect if more flotillas were sent to Gaza.
According to debkafile's Ankara sources, this piece of "evidence" is part of the dossier the Turks are stacking up for the international inquiry commission they intend demanding the UN General Assembly establish to investigate the flotilla incident. They need this extra probe to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of the public inquiry Israel has instituted by jurists and two international observers.
The Turkish prime minister is seriously on the warpath against Israel, after failing in their frigid interview in Toronto to persuade President Barack Obama to accept his alignment with the extremist Iran, Syria and Hizballah and his hostile breach with Israel.
Obama confronted him with two options: friendship with Washington or deepening his bonds with Tehran.
Erdogan returned home with his mind made up. He would not capitulate to Washington and he was more determined than ever to provoke a showdown with Israel.
One of his first steps, according to our Ankara sources, will be to go around UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon and submit to the UN Assembly on behalf of Turkey, Iran and Syria a draft calling for an international committee to investigate Israel's conduct in its May 31 raid on the Turkish flotilla. They can count on an automatic anti-Israel majority for its passage.
Observers in New York expect a panel of the same make-up and anti-Israel bias as the one headed by South African justice Goldstone which was tasked with investigating Israel's 2009 campaign in the Gaza Strip.
The Turkish prime minister believes Ban will not demur and even the Obama administration may come around to it, although Washington originally praised Israel's public inquiry, to which two reputable foreign observers had been attached, as fully meeting the UN Security Council's requirements for a credible, impartial, transparent investigation.
Ankara's move is aimed at intensifying Israel's diplomatic isolation in the world body.
To pre-empt it, the Netanyahu government decided this week to expand the mandate of the flotilla investigation panel headed by retired Justice Jacob Turkel. The next cabinet meeting will empower the commission to subpoena witnesses, question them under oath, issue letters of caution and have free access to any evidence needed to execute its mission.
Last edited by Truth Files; Jul 1st, 2010 at 8:03 AM.
Jul 1st, 2010 8:06 AM #57
World Watch Daily
June 30, 2010
Why Islam Will Never Accept the State of Israel
It is a common belief that the "Arab-Israeli conflict" is a conflict of two peoples fighting over the same piece of land and is therefore one of nationalism. Rarely, if ever, do we hear or read of the religious component to this conflict.
However, if anything, the conflict is more of a "Muslim-Jewish" one than an "Arab-Israeli" one. In other words, the conflict is based on religion -- Islam vs. Judaism -- cloaked in Arab nationalism vs. Zionism. The fact of the matter is that in every Arab-Israeli war, from 1948 to the present, cries of "jihad," "Allahu Akbar," and the bloodcurdling scream of "Idbah al- Yahud" (slaughter the Jews) have resonated amongst even the most secular of Arab leaders, be it Nasser in the 1950s and 1960s or the supposedly "secular" PLO of the 1960s to the present. Indeed, the question must be asked: If this is really a conflict of different nationalisms and not Islamic supremacism, then why is it that virtually no non-Arab Muslim states have full (if any) relations with Israel?
There is a common Arabic slogan that is chanted in the Middle East: "Khaybar, Khaybar! Oh Jews, remember. The armies of Muhammad are returning!" It would be most interesting to know how many people have ever heard what -- or more precisely, where -- Khaybar is, and what the Arabs mean by such a slogan. A short history of the Jews of Arabia is needed in order to explain this, and why Islam remains so inflexible in its hostile attitude towards Jews and Israel.
Until the founder of Islam, Muhammad ibn Abdallah, proclaimed himself "Messenger of Allah" in the 7th century, Jews and Arabs lived together peacefully in the Arabian Peninsula. Indeed, the Jews -- and Judaism -- were respected to such an extent that an Arab king converted to Judaism in the 5th century.
His name was Dhu Nuwas, and he ruled over the Himyar (present day Yemen) area of the Arabian Peninsula. In fact, it is most likely that the city of Medina (the second-holiest city in Islam) -- then called Yathrib -- was originally founded by Jews. In any event, at the time of Muhammad's "calling," three important Jewish tribes existed in Arabia: Banu Qurayza, Banu Nadir, and Banu Qaynuqa.
Muhammad was very keen on having the Jews accept him as a prophet to the extent that he charged his followers not to eat pig and to pray in the direction of Jerusalem. However, the Jews apparently were not very keen on Muhammad, his proclamation of himself as a prophet, or his poor knowledge of the Torah (Hebrew Bible). Numerous verbal altercations are recorded in the Qur'an and various Hadiths about these conflicts between the Jewish tribes and Muhammad.
Eventually, the verbal conflicts turned into physical conflicts, and when the Jews outwardly rejected Muhammad as the "final seal of the prophets," he turned on them with a vengeance. The atrocities that were committed against these tribes are too numerous to cite in a single article, but two tribes, the Qaynuqa and Nadir, were expelled from their villages by Muhammad. It appears that the Qaynuqa left Arabia around 624 A.D. The refugees of the Nadir settled in the village of Khaybar.
In 628 A.D., Muhammad turned on the last Jewish tribe, the Qurayza, claiming that they were in league with Muhammad's Arab pagan enemies and had "betrayed" him. Muhammad and his army besieged the Qurayza, and after a siege of over three weeks, the Qurayza surrendered. While many Arabs pleaded with Muhammad to let the Qurayza leave unmolested, Muhammad had other plans. Unlike expelling the Qaynuqa and Nadir, Muhammad exterminated the Qurayza, with an estimated 600 to 900 Jewish men being beheaded in one day. The women and children were sold into slavery, and Muhammad took one of the widows, Rayhana, as a "concubine."
In 629 A.D., Muhammad led a campaign against the surviving Jews of Nadir, now living in Khaybar. The battle was again bloody and barbaric, and the survivors of the massacre were either expelled or allowed to remain as "second-class citizens." Eventually, upon the ascension of Omar as caliph, most Jews were expelled from Arabia around the year 640 A.D.
This brings us, then, to the question of why modern-day Muslims still boast of the slaughter of the Jewish tribes and the Battle of Khaybar. The answer lies in what the Qur'an -- and later on, the various Hadiths -- says about the Jews. The Qur'an is replete with verses that can be described only as virulently anti-Semitic. The amount of Surahs is too numerous to cite, but a few will suffice: Surah 2:75 (Jews distorted the Torah); 2:91 (Jews are prophet-killers), 4:47 (Jews have distorted the Bible and have incurred condemnation from Allah for breaking the Sabbath), 5:60 (Jews are cursed, and turned into monkeys and pigs), and 5:82 (Jews and pagans are the strongest in enmity to the Muslims and Allah).
And of course, there is the genocidal Hadith from Sahih Bukhari, which would make Adolph Hitler proud. "The Day of Judgment will not have come until you fight with the Jews, and the stones and the trees behind which a Jew will be hiding will say: 'O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him!"' Thus, the Arab Muslims had their own "final solution" in store for the Jews already in the 7th century.
The fact that Muslims still point to these (and many other) hateful verses in the Qur'an and Hadith should give Jews -- not just Israelis -- pause to consider if there can ever be true peace between Muslims and Jews, let alone between Muslims and Israel. When the armies of Islam occupied the area of Byzantine "Palestine" in the 7th century, the land became part of "Dar al-Islam" (House of Islam). Until that area is returned to Islam, (i.e., Israel's extermination), she remains part of "Dar al harb" (House of War). It now becomes clear that this is a conflict of religious ideology and not a conflict over a piece of "real estate."
Finally, one must ask the question: Aside from non-Arab Turkey, whose relations with Israel are presently teetering on the verge of collapse, why is it that no other non-Arab Muslim country in the Middle East has ever had full relations (if any at all) with Israel, such as faraway countries like Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan? Indeed, why would Persian Iran -- conquered by the Arabs -- have such a deep hatred for Jews and Israel, whereas a non-Muslim country such as India does not feel such enmity?
The answer is painfully clear: The contempt in which the Qur'an and other Islamic writings hold Jews does not exist in the scriptures of the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and other Eastern religions. Therefore, people that come from non-Muslim states do not have this inherent hatred towards Jews, and by extension, towards Israel. But when a people -- or peoples -- is raised with a scripture that regards another people and religion as immoral and less than human, then it is axiomatic why such hatred and disdain exists on the part of Muslims for Jews and Israel.
Islam -- as currently interpreted and practiced -- cannot accept a Jewish state of any size in its midst. Unless Muslims come to terms with their holy writings vis-à-vis Jews, Judaism, and Israel and go through some sort of "reformation," it will be unlikely that true peace will ever come to the Middle East. In the meantime, unless Islam reforms, Israel should accept the fact that the Muslims will never accept Israel as a permanent fact in the Middle East.
The scriptures of the Bible confirm all of this and also tell of the outcome
Last edited by Truth Files; Jul 1st, 2010 at 11:47 AM.
Jul 1st, 2010 11:43 AM #58
Missteps on Turkey weaken Netanyahu before talks with Obama
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis July 1, 2010
Whispers no cure for voluble Turkish assaultsThe "Turkish flotilla effect" continues to plague Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, leading him into one misstep after another with the result that he arrives in Washington on July 6 for talks with President Barack Obama with a divided government.
Debkafile's Jerusalem sources report that Thursday, July 1 finds Netanyahu scrambling to stabilize his cabinet lineup and recover from the fallout of his disastrous decision to let infrastructure minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer meet Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu for supposedly secret talks in Brussels to try and narrow the widening rift between Ankara and Jerusalem.
It was leaked that same day, causing a huge uproar in Jerusalem - both because the initiative which failed was seen to be a crass error at a time that the Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan's anti-Israel campaign was in full flight, and because the prime minister neglected to update foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman of the event.
Lieberman, who heads the right-wing Israel Beitenu, publicly accused Netanyahu of breach of trust. All day Thursday, he refused to answer the prime minister's phone calls. The result: total disconnect between the head of government and his foreign minister less than a week before the Israeli prime minister meets the US president.
Another key member of the Netanyahu cabinet, defense minister Ehud Barak, leader of the Labor party, is suspected by broad political circles of engineering the Israeli minister's rendezvous with Davutoglu - not just for a reckless bid to melt the Turkish wall of hostility, but to edge the foreign minister and his party out of the government coalition.
He has denied this charge - according to debkafile's sources, to avoid being associated with a second fiasco after the fumbled Israeli commando raid of the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship heading for Gaza on May 31.
The defense minister understands that his complicity in the Brussels encounter could weigh against him when he testifies before the public inquiry commission Israel established to find out how the flotilla incident came to end with nine Turkish activists dead and six Israeli soldiers injured.
Its findings could damage Barak's career irretrievably.
The panel, headed by ex-justice Jacob Turkel with two foreign observers, is to be given a broader mandate and real teeth.
Instead of preparing calmly for a hardheaded discussion with the US president on a long list of tough issues, Netanyahu must now concentrate all his efforts on hauling his government coalition out of a morass. It is hard to see him managing this uphill job in the four days left before he boards a flight to Washington. He will therefore arrive at the White House with his government in disarray and his personal standing uncertain.
In Ankara, debkafile reports, the Turkish prime minister is gleefully capitalizing on Netanyahu's embarrassment to pour salt in his wounds. He has issued "a clarification" of his comment on June 20, when he said, "Everyone knows who is behind the (Kurdish rebel) PKK's terror attacks."
This comment was taken as a heavy hint referring to Israeli intelligence.
However, ten days later, on Wednesday, June 30, the Turkish prime minister "clarified" this comment by explaining he had been referring to a group of right-wing Turkish military officers and politicians, known as Ergenekon, who are facing trial for attempting to overthrow the government by means of armed and terrorist attacks.
On the face of it, the Turkish prime minister backtracked on his aspersions of Israeli involvement in PKK attacks - or so it sounded to some Western circles. However, seasoned Turkey watchers point out that the prime minister's aides have for months been spreading rumors that Israel's Mossad intelligence agency was behind Ergenekon, fed the anti-government generals intelligence and supplied them with weapons for their planned coup.
In other words, Erdogan has stepped up his smear campaign against Israel from vague insinuations of its complicity in Kurdish terrorism to snide allegations of Jerusalem's involvement in a subversive conspiracy to overthrow the Muslim-led government in Ankara.
Jul 1st, 2010 7:16 PM #59
Debka Briefs ....
July 1, 2010
Iran Fears Attack from Four Directions, including Caucasus and Central Asia
The US and Russia accept each other's new military bases in Caucasus and Central Asia. Tehran is worried Moscow will turn a blind eye to a US-Israel attack on its nuclear facilities from the north, the south or the Arabian Sea and Persian
King Abdullah Demands Direct US Action to Halt Iran - or else
The Obama-Abdullah talks were presented as businesslike and constructive, whereas they turned into a wrestling match over Iran and Riyadh's own nuclear armament plans. Their differences proved unbridgeable.
Any Deals with Turkish Prime Minister Coldly Rejected
Obama got no answers when he challenged Erdogan to state if he was loyal to the West or his new radical friends led by Iran. He found the Turkish prime minister all fired up to continue his campaign against Israel
Erdogan Cranks up His anti-Israel War another Notch
Israel has not yet recovered its equilibrium from the falling-out with Turkey - which permits its prime minister Recep Erdogan to successfully pursue his campaign against Jerusalem.
As America's Afghan War Policy Collapses, Gates may be next
Obama administration flies kites suggesting an imminent negotiating end to the Afghan war which are disconnected from the situation on the battlefield. Taliban has therefore rejected any prospect of negotiations.
Jul 2nd, 2010 4:31 AM #60
Iran threatens oil routes as Obama signs tough new energy sanctions
DEBKAfile Special Report July 2, 2010
Obama signs first sanctions with biteA US-Iran showdown loomed closer early Friday, July 2, when president Barack Obama signed into law a series of energy sanctions, the toughest yet, for arresting Iran's nuclear weapons program. Iran's defense minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi warned that searches of its ships or planes would have "dire consequences" for world security and the Middle East in particular.
The law drafted by Congress shuts US markets to firms that provide Iran with refined petroleum products, such as gasoline and jet fuel, invest in its energy sector, or provide financing, insurance or shipping services. Non-US banks doing business with blacklisted Iranian entities, primarily Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps organizations, will be banned from US markets.
These measures complement and strengthen the new UN Security Council sanctions and European measures and will hit every Iranian. The oil-rich country Islamic Republic imports 40 percent of its refined oil needs because of its own inadequate refining capacity. Any investors in projects for developing this sector would be punishable under the new US law.
Earlier, Gen. Vahidi warned world powers against implementing certain UN sanctions: "As regards inspection of (Iranian) ships, there are one or two countries which pursue the issue and have made some comments about it and this indicates that these people don't pay any attention to security issues in the region and the world," said.
Tuesday, June 26, debkafile's military sources reported the arrival of the USS Nassau-LHA-4 at the head of a strike group of amphibian craft to the Gulf of Aden-Red Sea sector with 4,000 Marines aboard, including special units trained in operations behind enemy lines. Our sources disclosed that their presence caused Tehran to hold back the ships destined for breaking Israel's sea blockade of the Gaza Strip for fear they would be intercepted and searched as UN sanctions permits.
The Speaker of the Iranian parliament (Majlis) Ali Larijani and the Revolutionary Guards commander Gen. Ali Fadavi have both threatened harsh reprisals against all vessels, including American warships and oil tankers sailing through the Persian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz, for any attempts to search ships or planes carrying cargoes to Iran.
The new US law will make shipping and insurance costs for Iran's gasoline imports prohibitive. They are the first sanctions to bite really deep into Iran's economy and hit the Guards' commercial empire. Their control of refined oil imports is a major source of revenue and those profits provide funding for their operations, the foremost of which is the development and manufacture of nuclear weapons.
Debkafile's Iranian sources have no doubt that Iran will not take the new penalties lying down and will strike back - possibly, in the first instance, by impeding Persian Gulf shipping carrying Saudi and Gulf oil out to the United States, Europe and the Far East, with immediate effect on world oil prices.
Interception of an Iranian ship suspected of carrying contraband energy products could well spin into a showdown.
President Obama indicated that this time the United States is determined to follow through on its punitive measures against Iran. As he signed the new sanctions, he said: "There should be no doubt, the US and the international community are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
The new sanctions would strike at its capacity to finance its nuclear program." He went on to say, "If Tehran persists in its course, the pressure will continue to mount and its isolation continue to deepen."
Jul 3rd, 2010 2:05 PM #61
Syria posts Iranian radar atop tall Lebanese peak
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 3, 2010
Iranian mobile radar, installed in LebanonSyria has posted the advanced early warning radar it received from Iran - not on its own soil but on the highest peak of neighboring Lebanon, according to debkafile's military and intelligence sources. From Mount Sannine in central Lebanon, the new facility provides early warning against a possible surprise Israeli missile or aerial attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and extends the span of Iranian and Syrian electronic surveillance to include Israeli air space the south and the eastern-central Mediterranean to the west.
Friday, July 2, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley confirmed the Wall Street Journal's disclosure that Iran had transfer of the high-tech radar to Syria. He said this move was of concern "due to Syria's relationship with Hizballah," adding "We don't believe that Iran's designs for the region are in Syria's best interest."
According to our sources, there is nothing new in this disclosure. The new radar was deployed on Mt. Sannine ten months ago, complete with Iranian and Syrian radar operators. Hizballah was made responsible for guarding the facility and keeping approach roads clear, as well as bringing supplies to the Iranian-Syrian crews on the mountain. Syria trained the Lebanese Shiite extremists in the use of the anti-air missile batteries for securing the site.
On July 12, 2008, debkafile first revealed that Hizballah had just commandeered the 7,880- foot Mt. Sannine northeast of Beirut at the behest of Tehran and Damascus, followed by Mount Barukh, which is half the height and situated in the Chouf Mountains much closer to South Lebanon (and the Israeli border).
In late 2009, the radar position was put in there and Iranian mobile systems installed on Mt. Barukh - in line with the strategy agreed by Iran and Syria to extend their watch on Israel and the US Sixth Fleet.
Israel's leaders held back from interfering with the Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah seizure of these strategic positions across its northern border and the installation of an advanced Iranian radar facility, just as they have since avoided blocking Hizballah's massive armament with smuggled Iranian and Syrian ballistic missiles.
Washington too turned a blind eye to this Iranian strategic outpost - until now. It was allowed to leak in the wake of the difficult conversation President Barack Obama had with Saudi King Abdullah at the White House Tuesday, June 29.
He taxed the king with recent reports about Riyadh's willingness to provide an air corridor for Israeli bombers bound for attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities. But Abdullah declined to confirm or deny them and waved the subject aside.
The belated disclosure of the Mt. Sannine facility was directed at the Saudi king, intended to warn him that Iran's early warning electronic station in Lebanon had pre-empted the Israeli option of a surprise attack on its nuclear facilities. Riyadh would therefore be well advised to drop its plan to back an Israeli operation for disposing of their shared Iranian nuclear threat.
Jul 7th, 2010 3:59 PM #62
IDF reveals Hezbollah's deployment
Information obtained by IDF exposes Hezbollah's immense scope of activity in south Lebanon, in preparation for next clash with Israel
The Israeli Defense Forces revealed on Wednesday aerial photographs of sites at the village of al-Khiam in southern Lebanon, where the IDF suspects Hezbollah is storing various weapons and even operating headquarters and control centers.
Colonel Ronen Marley, commander of the western brigade at the northern border, commented on the rearmament of Hezbollah: "An event can take place today, or a year from now; I am ready for it to happen by surprise. We are operating in different ways to thwart any event – if one should take place, we will know how to handle it."
Tension in the Air
UN warns of renewed violence between Hezbollah and Israel / AFP
Ban Ki-moon says allegations of Scud missile transfer to Shiite group causing increase in tension between Israel, Hezbollah
Colonel Marley added that the Hezbollah has recently been collecting intelligence on IDF forces, and sometimes operates in civilian guise. The organization was also engaged in infrastructure works that would prepare it for future fighting.
A senior military source claimed that increased cooperation between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah is giving them an operational advantage and increases their effectiveness ahead of a clash with the IDF. However, the IDF emphasized that despite reports of a new radar operating in Syria, this claim was not familiar to them.
The material presented by the military revealed that 23,000 residents live in the village where al-Khiam Detention Center was operating while the IDF controlled the safety zone in southern Lebanon.
According to information obtained by the security establishment, Hezbollah was now preparing the grounds for the next round of battle with Israel.
The army noted that some 90 activists were operating in the village vicinity, most of them belonging to special forces that are preparing – as soon as they receive the order – to lie in wait for IDF forces, alongside a "welcome" of various demolition charges, anti-tank missiles and pits filled with explosives.
The IDF decided to present the information in order to demonstrate Hezbollah's scope of activity against Israel, four years after the Second Lebanon War.
The information also revealed that hundreds of short-range mortar shells and rockets have been stored in al-Khiam, and as in the past, intentionally placed adjacent to public institutions, schools and medical facilities.
A military source told Ynet that the images from al-Khiam are not exclusive, and that similar operations were taking place in the entire area. "What you see in this village, you can see in all villages in southern Lebanon. There are some 20,000 activists whose job is, in fact, to act against IDF forces from within the village. When the time comes, they will give our forces a real fight," the source said.
Jul 7th, 2010 4:10 PM #63
- Join Date
- Feb 2010
TF I am surprised (mildly) that you are so taken in with Debka... For most of us it is like Bonsai Kitty. Some might get suckered into it once but after it is realized for what it is we join in the amusement of others when they learn what Bonsai kitty is or in your case what Debka is.
Nothing Debka says is true. Normally anyone that has been online and in forums for more than a month realize this. Fall has no credibility. The site is total entertainment. Nothing more.Jim Crow America relegated Blacks to the back of buses. Israel wants Arabs excluded from the bus entirely.
Jul 7th, 2010 4:37 PM #64
"TF I am surprised (mildly) that you are so taken in with Debka... For most of us it is like Bonsai Kitty. Some might get suckered into it once but after it is realized for what it is we join in the amusement of others when they learn what Bonsai kitty is or in your case what Debka is.
Nothing Debka says is true. Normally anyone that has been online and in forums for more than a month realize this. Fall has no credibility. The site is total entertainment. Nothing more."
>Debka Is one of the most informative and factual on the Middle East .... and the world for that matter
..... and by the way the above article that you responded to is from Israel .... not Debka
>I have tracked the Middle East for over 30 years [and have historical knowledge from ancient times to the present of the same] and I know what is going on there .... so does the Lord .... all in His Word .... the Bible .... have you ever read it and if so tell me about your experience
>What do you know?
....give me some examples of Debka's news reporting and subsequent events that would discredit Mossad's news media
>You must be an anti-Semite
..... what 's your game .... I would say that you are the "suckered" one
>And tell me who is "us" .... those you refer to who side with you
Jul 8th, 2010 3:27 PM #65
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 8, 2010,
Iran's first nuclear reactor at BushehrMoscow and Tehran have announced that the nuclear reactor Russia is building Iran at Bushehr - its first - has completed all its test-runs and will be up and running in early September - ahead of schedule.
debkafile's military sources reported several times in recent months that the Iranian reactor at Bushehr is not just a power plant but also has military applications. Chief among them is the reuse of its fuel rods to produce plutonium as atomic weapon fuel.
Wednesday, July 7, Ali Akbar Salehi, chairman of the Iranian Atomic Energy Commission, said: "Today we passed the hot water test, one of the Bushehr power plant's most important and final tests before its inauguration."
He admitted UN, US and European sanctions would slow the pace of the Iranian nuclear program - but not affect the activation of the Bushehr reactor.
Thursday, July 8, Atomstroyexport, the Russian company building the Iranian reactor, confirmed this: "Efficiency tests of the reactor equipment and supporting technological systems were held," said the firm's spokesman in Moscow. "We finished the so-called hot operational testing that was the final stage before launch."
The Russian company did not mention when the reactor would go on stream, but back on March 18, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at a summit of senior Russian officials in southern Russia: "The first reactor at Iran's nuclear power plant in Bushehr is to be launched already in the summer."
Since he made this remark while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Moscow, it was taken as a Russian signal to Washington that while willing to support expanded UN sanctions, Russia had no intention of abandoning its nuclear cooperation with Tehran.
Clinton's response was: "In the absence of those reassurances (from Iran regarding the nature of its nuclear program), we (the Americans) think it would be premature to go forward with any project at this time."
And indeed, on June 9, Russia voted with 11 UN Security Council members in favor of the US motion to expand sanctions against Iran for failing to comply with international obligations on its nuclear program.
At the same time, Moscow remained opposed to unilateral sanctions outside the world body.
This was stated by special emissary to Tehran, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, after the European Union and the United States imposed their own sanctions, including President Barack Obama's signature on an embargo on refined fuel products and a ban on business with Iranian banks.
Thursday, July 8, Moscow then leaned further in Tehran's favor, calling for the world powers to consider Iran's proposals for a compromise on their nuclear controversy, not just their own, when negotiations are resumed.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that the negotiations can only begin in September.
It would therefore seem that the concatenation of the two events - diplomacy and the launching of the Bushehr reactor - points to Russia's new emphasis on improving its relations with Iran and willingness to take its side in the forthcoming nuclear dialogue.
Jul 9th, 2010 3:19 PM #66
July 9, 2010
Hezbollah grows up
Four years after the Second Lebanon War, the Shi'ite group has managed to rebuild its military capabilities across from Israel's northern frontier. Still, most sources say it's not interested in another round of fighting.
By Avi Issacharoff Four years after the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah can credit itself with yet another achievement in its campaign against Israel: southern Lebanon is once again in its hands. According to various assessments, the Shi'ite organization has rebuilt its military capabilities north of the Litani River, where it has established a network of missile launchers any army in the world would be proud to possess. Furthermore, it has repaired the infrastructure of the Shi'ite villages south of the Litani that were severely hit in the war.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which was deployed to southern Lebanon in 2006 in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701 - passed at the end of the war - was supposed to prevent such activity. In recent months, however, UNIFIL has been harassed by Shi'ite villagers in the southern part of the country who are apparently acting on Hezbollah's orders. The international peacekeeping force, particularly its French battalion, has been repeatedly humiliated by the local population. Villagers have hurled stones and eggs at them, and have even seized soldiers' weapons. UNIFIL's commander, Maj. Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas, this week asked the Lebanese government to protect his troops.
The confrontation Hezbollah initiated with the French contingent has renewed the internal debate in Lebanon - between the Shi'ite organization and the Al-Mustaqbal camp headed by Lebanese Prime Minister Said Hariri (and thought to be under French patronage ). While Hezbollah hinted that UNIFIL's French battalion is serving "foreign" (namely, Israeli ) interests, Hariri flew to Paris to conciliate President Nicolas Sarkozy and clarify that Lebanon is interested in keeping French troops on its soil.
Thus, one of Israel's chief accomplishments in the Second Lebanon War - distancing Hezbollah from its northern frontier - is slowly vanishing. The Shi'ite organization, which was dealt a severe blow in the summer of 2006, has recovered at an impressive rate in the military, civilian and political spheres.
"It was not a knockout blow, but it was sufficiently painful to force Hezbollah to grow up," says Prof. Eyal Zisser, an expert on Syria and Lebanon, the director of Tel Aviv University's Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, and the university's dean of humanities.
"Since the war, the organization has been presenting a more controlled, a more restrained, stance," he says. "It's the kind of experience that makes you or breaks you. On the other hand, its scars from the war will lead it to think many times over before it tries to face off with Israel again."
In the last Lebanese parliamentary elections, in 2009, Hezbollah's political standing changed very little. Initially its leaders admitted defeat, but the organization actually lost only one seat when compared to the previous elections, while its Christian partner in the anti-West camp, former army chief Michel Aoun, increased his political strength and clarified that Lebanon's Maronites support Hezbollah.
Nevertheless, the group is limited by Lebanon's electoral system as the Shi'ites in that country are allocated a maximum of 27 parliamentary seats. Perhaps this explains why Hezbollah is steadily tightening its military foothold in Lebanon. The Lebanese army, which receives American assistance, avoids clashing with Hezbollah, which is also interested in maintaining "industrial peace" with the army.
For the moment, at least - despite the unprecedented rate at which it is arming itself - Hezbollah apparently is not looking for another round of fighting with Israel, preferring instead to focus on a gradual takeover of Lebanon. Still, it should be recalled that in early July 2006, a few days before the war broke out, the assessment in Lebanon was that Hezbollah was not interested in a confrontation with Israel.
Last Sunday, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah died in Beirut at the age of 75. One of the most important Shi'ite religious figures in the Muslim world, Fadlallah was regarded as one of Hezbollah's founders and as its spiritual leader in the 1980s. He was also one of the most fascinating Shi'ite religious leaders in the modern world. Although his religious rulings were a model for emulation for hundreds of thousands of followers, they also led to clashes with the Shi'ite religious institutions in Iran.
Born in 1935 in Najaf, Iraq, his father was a native of Lebanon. Fadlallah wrote poetry until the age of 12, when he began attending one of the city's Shi'ite madrassas (religious schools ). In 1966 he moved to Lebanon, where he engaged in religious studies as well as social welfare work among the Shi'ite community.
Displaying a marked interest in the status of women in Muslim society, Fadlallah argued that lack of equality between husband and wife ran counter to the Koran. In addition, he held relatively progressive views on abortions, maintaining that the procedure could be performed at any stage in the pregnancy if the fetus was endangering the mother's health.
On the topic of men doing household chores, Fadlallah wrote that the "social culture of ignorance, not Islam, is the source of the argument that a man humiliates himself if he does household chores." He even explained that Ali, regarded by Shi'ite Muslims as the first imam, used to help his wife Fatima (the prophet Mohammed's daughter ) with housework and that, when the prophet asked her to bake bread, Ali himself would clean the house and gather firewood.
Fadlallah also encouraged women to study Islamic religious law, to provide commentary on religious texts and to discuss such matters even with men.
While Fadlallah expressed total support for the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, he challenged the authority of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his entourage, and repeatedly warned the members of the Islamic movement to beware of charismatic leaders (specifically mentioning Khomeini in that context ) whose personalities overshadow the message they are supposed to be conveying to their public.
In 1982, he began setting up a network of social service agencies in Lebanon, as an emissary of his spiritual mentor and role model, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Abul-Qassim al-Khoei, whom he regarded as the Marja al-Taqlid (a religious authority to be followed and emulated ) - despite the fact that Hezbollah and Iran considered Khomeini to be the Marja al-Taqlid.
Following Khomeini's death in 1989, the question of who would inherit the mantle of the Marja al-Taqlid in the Shi'ite world took on ever-increasing urgency. Fadlallah regarded Grand Ayatollah al-Khoei as his Marja al-Taqlid, as did many other people in the Shi'ite world. With al-Khoei's death in 1993, Grand Ayatollah Golpayegani of Iran became Fadlallah's Marja al-Taqlid. It was after Golpayegani died that the crisis between Fadlallah, Hezbollah and Iran really began to play out more openly.
Tehran proclaimed Ayatollah Sheikh Mohsen Araki, who was over 100 years old at the time, as the Shi'ite Marja al-Taqlid - a move intended to pave the way for the ascension of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (following Araki's death ). Fadlallah, however, announced his own support for Ayatollah Sistani, who at the time resided in Najaf.
At that point, Hezbollah declared its backing for Tehran's position and announced that its members must support Araki and must not regard anyone else as the Marja al-Taqlid. Araki died in December 1994; three months later, Iran declared Khamenei's appointment to that senior post.
Fadlallah argued that Iran was simply trying to bolster its own political-religious position among the Muslim Shi'ites; he continued to support Sistani, and as a result was severely criticized by other Shi'ite religious leaders. His mosque was banned and, on one occasion, shots were fired at his car.
Although he later reconciled with Hezbollah leaders, Fadlallah still kept his distance from them. Refusing to recognize Iran's leadership in the Shi'ite world, he maintained his religious autonomy and chose his own unique political path.
Jul 11th, 2010 9:18 AM #67
Neither the UN nor France chase Hizballah back from Israel's border
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis July 11, 2010
Hizballah ammo bunker in Al-KhiamPrime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu keeps on vowing that Iran will not be allowed to establish an outpost on Israel's borders, but he has not lifted a finger to stop this menace ensconcing itself in the north. He cannot realistically expect feeble UN reprimands and the puny French contingent of UNIFIL to blow away the 20,000 Hizballah troops dug in in 160 new positions in South Lebanon, backed by a vast rocket arsenal - even though this is a gross violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701.
Iran's proxy has therefore won the first round of its drive to recover the forward positions lost in the 2006 war and stands ready for the next. Israel has reinforced its border defenses against this massed Hizballah strength just a few hundreds meters away.
How could Jerusalem let this to happen?
The answer is by a misguided policy of misdirected reliance on international players and diplomacy, as though the military menace existed only in documentary form, instead of real armies led by single-minded terrorists with utter contempt for the rules of international diplomacy.
The guns Israel invoked for dealing with the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza - President Barack Obama and the European Union - were too big for their target and the Middle East Quartet's envoy former British premier Tony Blair had to be roped in. The guns Israel relied on to deal with Hizballah - the UN and France - are too small and ineffective for the job.
Following a French complaint, the UN Security Council convened Friday, July 9 and passed a resolution "strongly deploring the recent incidents involving UNIFIL peacekeepers which took place in southern Lebanon on June 29, July 3 and July 4." All parties in Lebanon were urged "to respect the safety of UNIFIL and United Nations personnel."
The UN was not even asked to address Hizballah's illegal redeployment in new positions in the South - only the harassment of peacekeepers - nor did it do so. In one instance last week, French troops on patrol were pulled out of their armed vehicles, their weapons snatched and they were beaten with sticks, rocks and eggs.
This was no spontaneous outburst. debkafile's military sources report that the "villagers" were instructed by Iran's new Iranian commander in Lebanon, Hossein Mahadavi, to hit on the French contingent to punish Paris for supporting the UN Security Council's expanded sanctions for its nuclear violations, while at the same time blocking the peacekeeper's access to the "closed areas" where the new Hizballah bases have been set up.
Tehran nominated a high-ranking officer to Lebanon - Mahadavi's former job was commander of Iran's Overseas Division - indicating the importance it attaches to this volatile borderland. Indeed, if Hizballah gets away with its new deployment in the South and is allowed to make it permanent, the UN force will have lost even this scrappy foothold and Hizballah will be free to carry on its preparations for war without the slightest hindrance.
So much for Netanyahu's pledge, reiterated during his talks and interviews in the United States last week, that in negotiations with Arabs, especially the Palestinians, Israel will never accept any accommodation that permits Iran to set up military and rocket bases on its borders.
The fact is that since he entered the prime minister's office, he and defense minister Ehud Barak have done nothing to hold back the stream of armed Hizballah militiamen flooding South Lebanon, although they are now actively endangering the one-and-a-half million Israelis living just across the border.
If they imagined that UN peacekeepers would suddenly stand up and start repelling this southward tide of men and war materiel, they need only to take note of the tepid UN reprimand last Friday to understand that the Elysee Palace had no intention of letting French troops pick up the Hizballah ball and chase the Shiite terrorists back to their former positions.
Tehran and Hizballah therefore felt they could safely issue a new spate of threats: Israelis traveling anywhere in the world faced kidnap or death in response to a series of hits attributed to their clandestine agencies, such as the assassination of a key Hizballah commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus in 2008, the deaths of the Iranian nuclear physicist Prof. Massoud Ali Mohammmadi in the middle of Tehran in January of this year, and the Hamas operative responsible for Iranian money transfers to the Gaza Strip Mohammed al-Mabhouh in Dubai nine days later.
Israel responded to the verbal escalation on July 7, by doing something it has never done before: Col. Ronen Marli, chief of the northern border's Western Brigade - the unit which will have to hold off the enemy in the early hours of attack from Lebanon - exhibited to the public aerial photos and intelligence maps recording the new spread of Hizballah forces: He reported 20,000 armed men scattered through 160 village and towns - only in the South, where its presence is prohibited by the UN-mediated ceasefire of 2006. The images did not include the substantial strength Hizballah maintains in central Lebanon and the Beqaa Valley to the east, or its estimated 40,000 rockets and missiles.
The Israeli colonel was of the opinion that an "event (a military attack or terrorist operation) could erupt today or in a year." He admitted it could be a surprise. Adding: "But we are working in different ways to thwart any event and if happens, we'll know how to handle it."
The IDF backed him up with an announcement that Israel is beefing up its strength along the Lebanese border and, the next day, July 8, the Jerusalem center for terrorist threats, published a warning to Israelis abroad, including the United States, to beware of abductions and murderous attacks.
Saturday, a Hizballah spokesman responded: "All three (UN, France, Israel) are preparing something, but we are ready," it said. "Our forces in the South are on the highest level of war preparedness."
The next conflagration may be just a single lighted match away. It could be ignited by some local incident, a terrorist event outside the Middle East or an order from Tehran.
Jul 11th, 2010 3:55 PM #68
Hectic preparations for historic Ahmadinejad visit to Beirut
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 11
Ahmadinehad ready for his first close-up to Lebanese-Israel borderFeverish preparations are afoot in Tehran for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first visit to the Lebanese capital. Reporting this, debkafile's Iranian sources define the trip's purpose as a confrontational exercise to warn the US and Israel that full implementation of the tough new UN, US and European sanctions will provoke an Iranian war on Israel - waged from Lebanon.
Iran's rulers came up with this plan in their marathon consultations last week, prompted by the realization that the US embargo on gasoline and other refined oil products were for real. Combined with the Obama administration's partial success in closing the US banking system and markets to Iranian firms and the UAE's consent to close its ports to Iranian traffic, the new measures have the potential for throwing a large spanner into the Islamic Republic's normal economic activity.
The planning for Ahmadinejad's trip to Lebanon - probably towards the end of July or early August - went into high gear after Syrian president Bashar Assad and the Qatari ruler Shiekh Hamad Bin Khalif Al Thani (who engineered the power-sharing accord for setting up the Lebanese government coalition in 2009) reacted positively to the notion of the threesome landing in Beirut aboard the same plane or in convoy, at the invitation of Lebanese president Michel Suleiman.
This procedure was advised to insure the Iranian president against a possible Israel attempt on his life and also that of Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who would be on hand in the welcoming party headed by the Lebanese president.
Sunday, July 11, debkafile reported that Hizballah had massed 20,000 armed men along the border with Israel, while Israeli Defense Forces had ranged tank and armored divisions on the other side of the border.
The broad outline of the visit was laid down by Lebanese Shiite lawmaker Nabih Beri and Alaedin Boroujerdi, Chairman of the Majlis foreign affairs and security committee, who was in Beirut last week to attend the funeral of the Shiite cleric Ayatollah Hassan Fadlallah.
It was decided to use the occasion for the Iranian, Syrian, Qatari and Lebanese leaders to hold a war conference, essentially to plot moves for ramping up the Arab-Israeli conflict. They have already decided in principle to lay the groundwork for a high-tension crisis to erupt between Israel and Lebanon some time in September or October, by which time Tehran will be able to gauge in full how much the new sanctions are hurting Iran.
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