Tag Archives: Hezbollah’s troops

JULY 4th IN THE MIDDLE EAST

BLOG 309 July 4, 2016

As America waves the flag and the parades march down the street, what’s happening in the Middle East? Well, they are not celebrating American Independence Day, but plenty is going on. Might make the USA a bit more to be proud about.

The Iraq army appears to finally be getting into gear. They have fully liberated Fallujah, a predominantly Sunni City. The elite Iraqi counterterrorism troops are mainly Shiites. This city fell to ISIS over two years ago and the recapture is a major achievement for the Iraq government. While former residents remain in crowded camps, they should be able to return soon. The next goal is the liberation of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

In a July 4th type celebration, the conquering soldiers fired their weapons into the air and loudly sang patriotic songs. Men marched while waving Iraqi flags. Just like an American band marching down Main street!

It’s not July the 4th with flags flying and bands playing in the park with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hard to believe ten years have passed since the Second Lebanon War and this terrorist organization has evolved into an organized army. As a political party, Hezbollah controls a third of the parliament in Beirut. The problem is that Hezbollah has been caught in the war in Syria and ended up in a quagmire of death and destruction. They have learned military insights from the war but have lost many lives, money, and momentum. They are struggling with a cash flow problem because of sanctions placed on them by the Lebanese banking system. Wounded veterans and pensions are draining their funds. The world knows they are a major dealer in narcotics, but illegal and illicit drug sales can stop the severe loss of funds.

Intelligence estimates believe Hezbollah maintains an army of between 40,000 and 45,000 soldiers. The army has somewhere around 120,000 surface-to-surface rockets and missiles which exceed what most countries in the world process. On the other hand, Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system has proved more than capable of shooting down projectiles when they fly over. The Israeli IDF is more than equal to the task of stopping their army. Israel continues to carefully study every detail of what Hezbollah is doing.

Hezbollah chief and commander Hassan Nasrallah has been described as a “fanatical personality who has lost all of his realistic appraisal abilities.” Israel officials have described him as having concern only for his personal security. He has certainly made himself into a billionaire by siphoning off funds into his own pocket. Sorry. No hot dogs for him!

The bottom line? It’s not going to be a July 4th celebration this year in Lebanon!

As Americans unfurl their flags, eat ice cream, and shoot fireworks into the night, they can know how fortunate they are in a world that remains in turmoil.

 

 

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HEADS UP! MORE IS COMING—

BLOG 239 February 9, 2015

You may have picked up from the media that Israel made an air strike on Hezbollah in Syria that killed senior Hezbollah officials, six Iranians, and an Iranian general. What was a general from Iran doing in Syria with this terrorist group? You got it! If we didin’t know before, that’s a clear picture of how Iran is financing and directing Hezbollah as well as other terrorists groups.

General Muhammad Allahdadi was from the Revolutionary guard, the right wing military force inside Iran. It is believed that Allahdadi was planning deadly cross the border assaults against Israel.  Jihad Mughniyeh, who was also killed,  was known as a ruthless terrorist who had the direct backing of Iran. The head of Hezbollah’s operations in Syria and Iraq was also killed.

Currently, Northern Israel is on high alert. Revolutionary Guard chief General Muhammad Ali Jafri warned they will fight to the end until “this epitome of vice” (Israel) is destroyed –meaning Hezbollah will strike back –sometime. The military promised “ruinous thunderbolts” would fall on Israel. Of course, Israel is also blamed for all terrorism in the Middle East. No surprise there.

The question remains where and when Hezbollah will strike. The current situation signals that adherence to the 2006 Second Lebanon War agreement is wearing thin. If the terrorist group make a minor attack, Israel will respond tit-for-tat and that would probably conclude the current situation. A much larger assault and Israel would undoubtedly attack inside Lebanon. In that circumstance, all bets are off.

Can Hezbollah stand such an assault after the serious defeat Hamas suffered in the recent Gaza war. Even though the Hamas leaders are wealthy from the money flowing into their pockets that was meant for  Hamas, the organization is in serious trouble and losing ground in Gaza. Does Hezbollah want to risk the same defeat?

Hard to say.

Hezbollah is much larger, better equipped, and now better financed than Hamas was, but they are also strung out over Syria. Should Israel hit them full force, it might wreck their war machine in Syria. In such case, Israel would be hurting the Assad regime. Would they do that? It is known that Israel prefers the devil they know to one unknown and many of the rebels fighting Assad are worse than he is.  What a tangled mess the Middle East has become!

Again, Hezbollah could be taking a significant risk if they attempt to reach across the border as Israel would not hesitate to respond. The situation remains highly explosive and could ignite more regional conflict.

More is definitely to come.

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SHIFTS IN SYRIA

            The entry of Hezbollah into the Syrian civil war has definitely shifted the balance of power in the region. For the first time, the Assad regime has been gaining ground and recapturing territory. While the Obama administration promised weapons to the rebels, nothing has followed and the depleted condition of these troops is now proving costly.

            Of course, it doesn’t help that the rebels are a seriously divided force with important disagreements in their ranks. Their lack of unity and weapons continues to deplete the rebels. Having considered these important factors, one must also recognize the tides are not exactly flowing in Assad’s favor.

Consider the economy. Two years of fighting have reduced the system to one-sixth of its prewar value. Factories have been destroyed, farms ruined, and all tourism disappeared. Income from oil production has vanished as rebels took over oil fields and the West imposed sanctions. Syria once prided itself on a low national debt and self-sufficiency, but has now had to turn to Iran, Russia, and China to buy food and fuel. Heavy loans from Iran have not inspired confidence among the Syrian business community as it signals an inability to support themselves. The value of the Syrian pound fell from 47 to the dollar down to 330.

Senior American intelligence officials are now predicting the civil war could last from many, many months to years. The same leaders also believe an American response has been lacking that could have ended the war. Disagreements between the United States and various Arab countries on how to respond and what weaponry to supply have not helped.

Currently militia units are springing up in Damascus in an attempt to stabilize the neighborhood environments. Of particular concern is the Old City district with its famous street called Straight that runs through the center of the original town of the first century. Several years ago, I walked through the market and traversed the length of the street. At the far end, you descend steps to the place where the Apostle Paul received his sight after Ananias prayed for him following his Damascus road experience. Muslims aren’t concerned with preserving this site, but they are worried that bombs could fall into the city and damage the neighborhood.

The spontaneous appearance of the militia groups also protects against kidnaping as well as infiltration by outside forces. The New York Times, Sunday, July 21, carried a story exploring these new developing forces within neighborhoods.  One young man who had volunteered to become a leader was flown by the government to Iran with 500 other men for training in how to use rifles, rocket-propelled grenade, and mortars. This new militiaman expressed his fears that if an attack came on the Old City, anything was possible.

One of the reasons for the emergence of these Shiite militia is to seek protection form the Sunni majority that are the basis for the rebel uprising against Assad. Moreover, they also reflect the country’s war wariness that has no signs of stopping.

The bottom line? The shifts in Syria aren’t good and do not appear to be going anywhere.

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REVERSALS IN SYRIA

            An unexpected wind is blowing in Syria. Since the arrival of Hezbollah’s troops in larger numbers, the Syrian army has found new strength. For the first time in weeks, the official Syrian Army has made important gains. Recapturing ( or being able to claim so) the town of Qusayr was no small progress for the Syrian regime. With Russia continually shipping weapons of frightening capacity and Iran  adding to the stock pile, the Assad government now appears more entrenched and capable than it did two weeks ago.

            Possibly, the United States and the West have dilly-dallied so long that attrition has been positive for the failing Syrian army and has now hit the rebels hard. The problem remains that rebels lack the armaments and equipment to successfully battle what Russia and Iran have suppled. The West cannot seem to make up its mind about what to do.

This past week, rebel General Salim Idris said that his rebels will not attend John Kerry’s proposed Geneva conference until they receive new arms and ammunion. Slaim recognizes that to sit down with the West and Russia while the Syrian government sits on the other side of the table holding the cards is a meeting doomed to failure before it even begins. The Syrian rebels already do no trust the United States. They must feel a Geneva conference today would be like a good high school football team playing the Green Bay Packers.

The weakness of Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempts at reconciliation has now come to light. Frederic C. Hof, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a former State Department official said, “The regime, Iran and Hezbollah, supported by Russia, aim to win: the U.S. airms for talks.” What is talk worth when either side is bearing down with all the force they can muster?  Nothing.

Kerry’s motivations are positive. He is trying to stop a war. The problem is that Assad must now see himself on the winning side and Kerry’s ideas become irrelevant.

Washington’s entanglement with scandals at the IRS, eavesdropping, and security leaks, as well as computer hacking from across the world have apparently changed the focus from the Middle East to Washington. Understandable, but not much of an answer to General Idris who refuses to talk until his men are properly armed.

Anyone half way following the struggle between Democrats and Republicans to get anything done in Washington will not be surprised that the Obama administration now looks like a truck stuck and mired in the mud. When Kerry speaks, you can hear the wheels spinning.

Would Russia like to beat the US in Syria? They’d like to defeat the USA anywhere.

Would Iran want to prevail over a country holding them down with embargos?

Would Syria desire to defeat Israel’s major ally?

The answers are beyond obvious. Defense Secretary Kerry is going to have to come up with more than talk to improve the struggle in Syria. And if America delays much longer, there won’t be anything to talk about.

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