A new report has revealed that Israel forces intentionally shelled a United Nations watchtower in southern Lebanon, which left a Spanish peacekeeper dead back in January.
The El Pais newspaper article published on Sunday cited extracts from a confidential Spanish military report on the incident, saying the Israeli forces corrected the trajectory of the artillery fire to hit the UN post. Thirty-six-year-old corporal Javier Soria Toledo was killed in the attack.
According to the report, Corporal Ivan Lopez Sanchez, a Spanish soldier stationed near the post, told investigators it was clear that the UN position was being targeted, noting, “Every time, they corrected the trajectory from Majidiye to the 4-28″ post, where the United Nations Interim Force Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeepers were stationed.
A second Spanish solider confirmed Sanchez’s report, saying the first salvo of shells landed some 500 meters north of the UN post and then Israel “corrected the trajectory towards the position.”
A third solider added that the fragmentation bombs used in the attack targeted the post’s main watchtower.
The newspaper also quoted a UN report as saying that around 20 artillery shells, 90 mortar grenades and five projectiles were fired at the UN post during the attack.
Spain and Israel have agreed to carry out a joint investigation into the incident.
The UNIFIL has some 10,000-troops, from 36 nations, which include some 600 Spanish soldiers.
There is media confusion about what is going on in Yemen and the broader Middle East. Pundits are pointing out that the US is looking schizophrenic with policies that back opposite sides of the fight against al-Qaeda-style extremism in Iraq and in Yemen.
But it isn’t that hard to understand the divergent policies once you comprehend the underlying drivers of the fight brewing in the region.
No, it isn’t a battle between Shia and Sunni, Iranian and Arab or the much-ballyhooed Iran-Saudi stand-off. Yes, these narratives have played a part in defining ‘sides,’ but often only in the most simplistic fashion, to rally constituencies behind a policy objective. And they do often reflect some truth.
But the ‘sides’ demarcated for our consumption do not explain, for instance, why Oman or Algeria refuse to participate, why Turkey is where it is, why Russia, China and the BRICS are participants, why the US is so conflicted in its direction – and why, in a number of regional conflicts, Sunni, Shia, Islamist, secularist, liberal, conservative, Christian, Muslim, Arab and Iranian sometimes find themselves on the same side.
This is not just a regional fight – it is a global one with ramifications that go well beyond the Middle East. The region is quite simply the theatre where it is coming to a head. And Yemen, Syria and Iraq are merely the tinderboxes that may or may not set off the conflagration.
“The battle, at its very essence, in its lowest common denominator, is a war between a colonial past and a post-colonial future.”
For the sake of clarity, let’s call these two axes the Neo-Colonial Axis and the Post-Colonial Axis. The former seeks to maintain the status quo of the past century; the latter strives to shrug off old orders and carve out new, independent directions.
If you look at the regional chessboard, the Middle East is plump with governments and monarchies backed to the hilt by the United States, Britain and France. These are the West’s “proxies” and they have not advanced their countries in the least – neither in self-sufficiencies nor in genuine democratic or developmental milestones. Indebted to ‘Empire’s’ patronage, these states form the regional arm of the Neo-Colonial Axis.
On the other side of the Mideast’s geopolitical fault line, Iran has set the standard for the Post-Colonial Axis – often referred to as the ‘Resistance Axis.’ Based on the inherent anti-imperialist worldview of the 1979 Islamic revolution, and also as a result of US/UK-driven isolating sanctions and global politics, Tehran has bucked the system by creating an indigenous system of governance, advancing its developmental ambitions and crafting alliances that challenge the status quo.
Iran’s staunchest allies have typically included Syria, Hezbollah and a handful of Palestinian resistance groups. But today, in the aftermath of the Arab Spring counter-revolutions – and the sheer havoc these have created – other independent players have discovered commonalities with the Resistance Axis. In the region, these include Iraq, Algeria and Oman. While outside the Mideast, we have seen Russia, China and other non-aligned nations step in to challenge the Neo-Colonial order.
Neo-Colonial Axis hits an Arab Spring wall
Today, the Neo-Colonials simply can’t win. They lack two essential components to maintain their hegemony: economy and common objectives.
Nowhere is that more clear than in the Middle East, where numerous initiatives and coalitions have floundered shortly after inception.
Once Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in Libya, all parties went their own way and the country fractured. In Egypt, a power struggle pitted Sunni against Sunni, highlighting the growing schism between two Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) patrons Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In Syria, a heavyweight line-up of Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France, the US and UK could not pull together a coherent regime-change plan or back the same horse.
In the vacuum created by these competing agendas, highly-organized al-Qaeda-style extremists stepped in to create further divergence among old allies.
Western hegemons – the original colonials and imperialists – grew fatigued, alarmed, and sought a way out of the increasingly dangerous quagmire. To do so, they needed to strike a compromise with the one regional state that enjoyed the necessary stability and military prowess to lead the fight against extremism from within the region. That would be their old adversary, Iran.
But the West is geographically distant from the Mideast, and can take these losses to a certain extent. For regional hegemons, however, the retreat of their Western patrons was anathema. As we can see, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have recently rushed to resolve their differences so they can continue to design the region’s direction in this Western vacuum.
These counter-revolutionary states, however, share grandiose visions of their own regional influence – each ultimately only keen to achieve their own primacy. And the continued ascendance of Iran has really grated: the Islamic Republic seems to have moved from strength to strength during this ‘Arab Spring,’ picking up new allies – regional and global – and consolidating its gains.
For Saudi Arabia, in particular, Iran’s incremental victories go beyond the pale. Riyadh has, after all, staked its regional leadership role on a sectarian and ethnic divide, representing Arab and Sunni stakeholders against “Iranian” and “Shiite” ones. Now suddenly, not only are the Americans, British and French dallying with the Iranians, but the GCC itself has been split down the center over the issue of ‘engagement vs. confrontation’ with the Islamic Republic.
Worse yet, the Saudi efforts to participate in the overthrow of Gaddafi, squash uprisings in Bahrain, control political outcomes in Yemen, destabilize Syria, divide Iraq and conquer Egypt seem to have come to naught.
In all instances, they have yet to see cemented, meaningful gains – and each quagmire threatens to unravel further and deplete ever more Saudi funds
Today, the Saudis find themselves surrounded by the sickly fruits of their various regional interventions. They have endured recent attacks by violent extremists on their Iraqi and Jordanian borders – many of these recipients of past Saudi funding – and now find themselves challenged on a third border, in Yemen, by a determined constituency that seeks to halt Saudi interventions.
Beyond that, Syria and Lebanon have slipped out of Riyadh’s grip, little Qatar seeks to usurp the traditional Saudi role in the Persian Gulf, Egypt dallies with Russia and China, and Pakistan and Turkey continue a meaningful engagement with Iran.
Meanwhile, the Iranians don’t have to do much of anything to raise the Saudi ire. Iran has stepped up its regional role largely because of the Saudi-led counter-revolution, and has cautiously thwarted Riyadh’s onslaughts where it could. It has buoyed allies – much like NATO or the GCC would in similar circumstances – but with considerably less aggression and while cleaving to the letter of international law.
The Saudis see Iranian hands everywhere in the region, but this is a fantasy at best. Iran has simply stepped into an opportunity when it arises, met the threats coming its way, and utilized all its available channels to blunt the Saudi advances in various military and political theaters.
Even the US intelligence community’s annual security assessment – a report card that regularly highlights the “Iranian threat” – concludes in 2015 that the Islamic Republic of Iran has “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia.”
Yet all we hear these days blaring from Western and Arab media headlines is “Shia sectarianism, Iranian expansionism and Persian Empire.”
Tellingly, the American intelligence assessment launches its section on “terrorism” with the following: “Sunni violent extremists are gaining momentum and the number of Sunni violent extremist groups, members, and safe havens is greater than at any other point in history.”
And US officials admit: many of these Sunni extremists have been assisted and financed by none other than Washington allies Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.
The Yemeni theater – a final battleground?
A senior official within a Resistance Axis state tells me: “The biggest mistake the Saudis made is to attack Yemen. I didn’t think they were that stupid.”
In the past week, the Saudis have cobbled together yet another Neo-Colonial ‘coalition’ – this time to punish Yemenis for ousting their made-in-Riyadh transitional government and pushing into the southern city of Aden.
The main Saudi adversaries are the Houthis, a group of northern, rural highlanders who have amassed a popular base throughout the north and other parts of Yemen over the course of ten years and six wars.
The Saudis (and the US) identify the Houthis as ‘Shiites’ and ‘Iranian-backed’ in order to galvanize their own bases in the region. But Iran has had little to do with the Houthis since their emergence as a political force in Yemen. And WikiLeaks showed us that US officials know this too. A 2009 cable from the US Embassy in Riyadh notes that Yemen’s former Saudi-backed President Ali Abdullah Saleh provided “false or exaggerated information on Iranian assistance to the Houthis in order to enlist direct Saudi involvement and regionalize the conflict.”
And allegations that Iran arms the Houthis also fall flat. Another secret cable makes clear: “Contrary to ROYG (Republic of Yemen Government) claims that Iran is arming the Houthis, most local political analysts report that the Houthis obtain their weapons from the Yemeni black market and even from the ROYG military itself.”
Saleh was deposed in 2011 as a result of Arab Spring pressures, and in a twist worthy of the complicated Middle East, the wily former president now appears to be backing his former adversaries, the Houthis, against his old patrons, the Saudis.
The Houthis are adherents of the Muslim Zaydi sect – which falls somewhere between Sunnism and Shiism, and is followed by around 40 percent of Yemenis. Saleh, who fought the Houthis in half a dozen wars, is also a Zaydi – evidence that Yemen’s internal strife is anything but sectarian.
In fact, it could be argued that the Houthi – or Ansarallah movement – are a central constituency of Yemen’s ‘Arab Spring.’ Their demands since 2003 have, after all, largely been about ending disenfranchisement, gaining economic, political and religious rights, eliminating corruption, railing against the twin evils of America and Israel (a popular Post-Colonial Arab sentiment), and becoming stakeholders in the state.
To ensure the balance continued in their favor during the Arab Spring, the Neo-Colonial Axis installed a puppet transitional leader upon Saleh’s departure – an unelected president whose term ran out a year ago.
Then a few months ago, the Houthis – allegedly with the support of Saleh and his tens of thousands of followers – ousted their rivals in the puppet regime and took over the Yemeni capital, Sana’a. When the Saudis threatened retaliation, the Houthis pushed further southward… which brings us to the war front amassing against Yemen today.
This is not a battle the Saudis and their Neo-Colonial Axis can win. Airstrikes alone cannot turn this war, and it is unlikely that Riyadh and its coalition partners can expect troops on the ground to be any more successful – if they are even deployed.
The Houthis have learned over the past decade to fight both conventional and guerilla wars. This relatively small band of highlanders managed in 2009 to push 30 kilometers into Saudi territory and take over several dozen Saudi towns. When coalition-partner Egypt last fought a war with ground troops in Yemen, it became Gamal Abdel Nasser’s ‘Vietnam’ and nearly bankrupted the state.
Even majority-Sunni Pakistan, a traditional pipeline for staffing GCC armies, seems wary about this conflict. It too is fighting elsewhere on the same side as the Houthis, Iranians, Syrians, Iraqis – against violent Sunni extremists inside its borders and from their bases in neighboring Afghanistan. No amount of Saudi money will quench the anger of militant-weary Pakistanis if their government commits to this Yemeni fight – against the very groups (Houthis) that are battling al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
And, yes, it is ironic that the United States is now providing assistance and intelligence for the Saudi-led coalition – against the Houthis, who are fighting al-Qaeda.
But as mentioned earlier, this is not Washington’s neighborhood, and it does not approach this fight with the same goals of its close ally, Saudi Arabia.
The Resistance Axis official explains:
“The Americans see all outcomes as good: If the Houthis win, they will help get rid of al-Qaeda in Yemen. If the Saudis win, well, these are still the US’s allies. And if both sides enter a protracted war, that is “not a problem either,” referring to the ever-present US interest of selling weapons in conflict zones.
Despite a global ban, the United States has sold the Saudis $640 million worth of cluster bombs over the past two years, some of which have been used to carpet bomb parts of Yemen in the past few days. The cluster munitions were part of an overall $67 billion worth of arm deals with Saudi Arabia since the Arab uprisings kicked off in 2011.
The Iranians, meanwhile, are not doing much of anything, except insisting – like the Russians and others – that the bombardment of Yemen is criminal and that Yemenis need to solve their own problems via an internal dialogue.
And why should they make any moves? The Saudis are digging their own graves right now – and hastening the demise of the entire Neo-Colonial project in the Middle East, to boot.
“Tehran realizes that the fact that Riyadh had to bring together a major coalition to fight a group that is only on the outskirts of Iranian influence is a victory in itself,” says the US-based, conservative risk-analysis group, Stratfor.
Riyadh’s move to attack Yemen has just dragged the not-so-financially-flush Kingdom into yet another military quagmire, and this time directly, bypassing proxies altogether. Every airstrike in Yemen – and it is clear in the first few days that dozens of civilians, including children, have been killed – threatens to draw more adherents to the Houthi cause.
And every day that the Houthis are tied up in this battle, AQAP gets an opportunity to cement its hold elsewhere in the country. The net winner in this conflict is unlikely to be Saudi Arabia, but it may just be al-Qaeda – which is guaranteed to draw the Post-Colonial Axis into the strategically vital waterways surrounding Yemen.
The Arab League, under Saudi Arabia’s arm-twisting, just upped the ante by demanding that only a complete Houthi surrender (laying down weapons and withdrawing) would end the airstrikes. This ultimatum leaves very little room to jumpstart dialogue, and shows shocking disregard for the normal goals of military engagement, which try to leave ‘negotiation windows’ open.
It may be that the Saudis, who have rapidly lost influence and control in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Oman, and other states in the past few years, have decided to go to the wall in Yemen.
Or it may just be some posturing to create momentum and bolster bruised egos.
But conflict has a way of balancing itself out – as in Syria and Iraq – by drawing other, unforeseen elements into the fray. With all the conflicts raging in the Middle East and encroaching on their borders, the Post-Colonial Axis has been forced to take a stand. And they bring to the field something their adversaries lack: common objectives and efficiency.
This is possibly the first time in the modern Mideast we have seen this kind of efficiency from within. And I speak specifically of Iran and its allies, both regional and external. They cannot ignore the threats that emanate from conflict, any more than the west can ignore the jihadi genie that threatens from thousands of miles away. So this Post-Colonial Axis moves further into the region to protect itself, bringing with it lessons learned and laser-focused common goals.
The Neo-Colonials will hit a wall in Yemen, just as they have in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. Their disparate objectives will ensure that. The main concern as we enter yet another storm in Yemen is whether a flailing Empire will turn ugly at the eleventh hour and launch a direct war against its actual adversary, the Post-Colonial Axis. The Saudis are a real wild card – as are the Israelis – and may try to light that fuse. When the threat is existential, anything goes.
Yes, a regional war is as much a possibility over Yemen as it was over Syria. But this battle lies on a direct border of Saudi Arabia – ground zero for both violent extremism and the most virulently sectarian and ethnocentric elements of the anti-Resistance crowd – and so promises to deliver yet another decisive geopolitical shift in the Mideast. From Yemen, as from any confrontation between the two global blocs, a new regional reality is likely to emerge: what the Americans might call “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.”
And Yemen may yet become the next Arab state to enter a Post-Colonial order.
Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She tweets @snarwani
By Brenda Heard | Aletho News | March 25, 2015
Six months prior to the upcoming UK general election, the Board of Deputies of British Jews published its “2015 General Election Jewish Manifesto.” This forty-page document urges both existing and prospective members of the UK Parliament to support various “policy asks” and to “champion these causes.” The Manifesto was styled after a very similar one created for the 2014 EU elections. Indeed their goals appear the same: to ensure a pro-Israeli agenda in the House of Commons and beyond.
The 2015 Manifesto does include some discussion of faith-based issues, such as underscoring the need of the Jewish community in the UK to be able to provide Kosher meat and to observe the Sabbath. This discussion is a just and valid participation of citizens in their government. The problem arises, however, when the Manifesto equates Jewish and Israeli. With 58 mentions of Israel, the Manifesto, cloaked in blue and white imagery throughout, even boasts a full-page illustration of the British and Israeli flags flying together.
This self-proclaimed “voice of British Jewry” avows a “very strong attachment to the State of Israel.” Yet it is difficult to reconcile this support with such statements as “The UK Jewish community is committed to peace, security, prosperity and equality for Israel, the Palestinians and the wider Middle East” when this statement was penned less than two months after a vicious Israeli onslaught against Gaza, an indiscriminate rampage that in just fifty days killed at least 2,100 Palestinians, some 70% of whom were civilians, including 519 children. A recent report by the American National Lawyers Guild concluded that “both facts and law refute the Israeli self-defense claims” and that Israel had “collectively punished the entire civilian population.” Indeed, Israeli forces intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians, leaving them dead and wounded, homeless and devastated. There has been no peace, no security, no prosperity and no equality for the Palestinians. Not ever.
Yet the Board of Deputies of British Jews expresses unwavering support for Israel. Any resistance to Israeli policy, the Manifesto maintains, should be denounced by the world. The Manifesto offers scant attention to the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, however, noting that the EU had already classified Hamas as a terrorist organisation, one with whom the UK should “refuse to engage.” Two months after the publication of the Manifesto, the EU General Court removed Hamas from the list of terrorist organisations, stating:
“the General Court finds that the contested measures are based not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities but on factual imputations derived from the press and the internet.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews promptly condemned this “unacceptable” ruling, and called it “an affront to the values of Europe.” The Board statement also used the opportunity to reiterate various accusations against Hamas—characterisations that have for years engendered the very hearsay that was finally rejected by the EU General Court. The Council of the EU soon appealed the court’s decision. The Board cheered the appeal and the efforts taken to ensure the appeal, stating “we commend the European Jewish Congress on all its work in ensuring that this issue remains on top of the agenda in Brussels.” The power of lobbying for Israel.
As for Lebanon, the Manifesto proudly points out that the UK led the EU designation of Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organisation in 2013. But that action was not enough to appease the Board, which urges the UK to lead the campaign to expand that designation to the “entirety” of Hezbollah. The key here is that Israel and its allies have always wanted to destroy all semblance of Hezbollah, as every aspect of the group builds the pride and strength of a Lebanese populace. It is the will to resist Israeli encroachment—the entire culture of resistance in both Palestine and Lebanon—that Israel wants to break. And this is a sentiment of political Israel, not of “British Jewry.” This has nothing to do with the Jewish faith.
Rather similar to the hearsay problem cited by the EU General Court, the accusations hurled at Hezbollah are based on decades of presumptions that Hezbollah is a ruthless entity to be feared and crushed. The fervour to destroy Hezbollah has long been evident in the policies of Israel, the US and the UK. Together, these three bodies have tremendous abilities to create and to seemingly substantiate and certainly to sell the narrative that suits their own agenda. Perhaps it is time to question these fervent accusations.
The Manifesto asserts that Hezbollah has “launched attacks against European and Jewish civilians worldwide” and offers three examples to illustrate this sweeping and unsubstantiated accusation: Buenos Aires (1994), Bulgaria (2012), Cyprus (2013). The responsibility in each of these incidents is far from conclusive.
The Buenos Aires investigation was at once tainted by the immediate involvement of US and Israeli intelligence services. The case was indelibly ruined by layers of corruption within Argentinian services. Even the Guardian acknowledged the investigation to be a “complex saga of mind-boggling intrigue.” Surely the extensive research published in 2008 by historian Gareth Porter should at the very least create reasonable doubt about Hezbollah’s involvement.
Like Buenos Aires, the Bulgarian case investigation was aided by US and Israeli intelligence services. Several reports raise doubts as to the legitimacy of the judgement process, examples of which: Gareth Porter, here and here; Times of Israel ; Haaretz ; Bulgarian FM Vigenin. Despite Israel’s initial finger-pointing at Hezbollah, the investigation revealed compelling forensic evidence of an Al Qaeda-linked suspect, which was mysteriously dropped only to reveal three Lebanese dual-nationals as suspects. The investigation that struggled for answers somehow, with the help of the US and Israel, was able to link those suspects to Hezbollah. How politically convenient.
In an attempt to offer conclusive evidence of an attack-plotting Hezbollah, the Manifesto offers a fear-inspiring quotation from an allegedly self-confessed Hezbollah member who had seemingly bungled surveillance work in Cyprus and was caught out by Mossad. The man’s “handler,” who was “always wearing a mask,” wanted him to pinpoint Kosher restaurants and to track the arrival times of flights from Israel. But why risk doing such surveillance in person? This information is readily available online, even if it required some creative computing skills. The culprit’s narrative reads more like the stuff of a cheap spy novel than it does the operational expertise of a group with more than thirty-years successful experience. Even if the confessor thought he was, in his nervously ever-changing narrative, revealing some truth, who is to say that he was not led by an imposter to believe he was acting under the direction of Hezbollah, when in fact he was not? Mission not so very impossible.
Still, we are meant to believe that in planning such globally significant missions, Hezbollah was careless enough to leave a paper-trail and to choose men who were inept in their tasks and men who would break under police questioning and tell all. And we are meant to believe that the consistent aid of US and Israeli intelligence has always been strictly objective.
This article is not intended to be a full rebuttal to these specific accusations. The point remains that there is at least reasonable doubt. These accusations are on many levels fuelled by a hatred that has burned for decades, a hatred that would stop at nothing to eradicate the Islamic Resistance of Lebanon. But even if you remain unconvinced of their problematic nature, even if you cannot bring yourself to offer Hezbollah the benefit of the doubt, there remains a double standard in this “Policy Ask” from the Board of Deputies of British Jews. How in the name of civilised democracy can the British Government continue to vehemently denounce Hezbollah, yet eagerly champion an Israeli government that routinely practices that which it condemns?
The Manifesto complains, for instance, that Hezbollah arranged surveillance of Jewish people. Yet we find the following boast in the Board’s EU Manifesto:
“As part of the widespread intelligence cooperation between Israel and the EU, Israel is providing essential information to EU officials enabling them to enforce the proscription [against Hezbollah].”
So it is acceptable for Israel to spy on Lebanese, but not vice versa? The Manifesto also complains Hezbollah allegedly exploited dual-nationals and used false identity papers. Yet this technique is an integral component of Mossad, from false identities and false flags in the 1950s, to political military espionage in the 1960s, to international vigilante justice in the 1970s, to fake passports and double agent killing squads in the 1980s, to assassination attempts in the 1990s, to falsified passports and passport fraud, and assassination after assassination in the 2000s.
These activities tend to be forgotten in the wake of repeated wars on the Lebanese and Palestinians. These activities are often subjectively shrugged off as necessary handling of “legitimate” targets, perhaps with a few unfortunate mistakes. Nonetheless, they exhibit a perpetual defiance of the rule of law, a defiance that is made glaringly clear in Israel’s custom of not only indiscriminate, but also deliberate attacks on the civilian population of the Palestinian territories.
After Israel’s 2006 onslaught on Lebanon, the UN Commission of Inquiry emphasised that one third of the Lebanese casualties were children and stated:
“The Commission highlights a significant pattern of excessive, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by IDF against Lebanese civilians and civilian objects. . . The Commission has formed a clear view that, cumulatively, the deliberate and lethal attacks by the IDF on civilians and civilian objects amounted to collective punishment.”
Likewise, after Israel’s 2009 onslaught on Gaza, the UN Fact Finding Mission concluded that:
“what occurred in just over three weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”
Following Israel’s 2014 onslaught on Gaza, an Independent Medical Fact-Finding Mission described in detail the reckless, often deliberate targeting of civilians, including the use of the “double tap”: multiple consecutive strikes on a single location that would lead to additional casualties amongst civilian onlookers and rescuers.
Perhaps as much as casualty statistics, this calculated strategy reveals not merely what the Manifesto describes euphemistically as “challenges about integration between different sectors of the population that need to be addressed,” but what one IDF Staff Sergeant described as “contempt for human life.” He was relating a similar tactic ordered by his battalion commander in the West Bank:
“You leave bodies in the field—they told me they did it a lot in Lebanon— you leave a body in the field, and you wait until they come to recover it so you can shoot at them. It’s like you’re setting up an ambush around the body. But those are things I heard about Lebanon. So it happened here [in Nablus], too.”
Contempt for human life happened. Contempt for rule of law happened. Again and again, at the hands of the “democratic state” promoted by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who in the same instance would like to coax British and Europeans to condemn the very victims of that state’s crimes. While their Manifesto offers a few pages pushing Israeli politics, I offer my recently published book, Hezbollah: An Outsider’s Inside View. Based on eight years of getting to know the people who are Hezbollah, this inside view of the Islamic Resistance of Lebanon offers the opportunity to explore for yourself the militants at the horizon. May common sense, not lobbying efforts, shape the concerns of the British people.
Brenda is the founder and director of Friends of Lebanon, UK. She is the author of numerous articles and the recently published Hezbollah: An Outsider’s Inside View. She can be reached at email@example.com.
With the situation in the Middle East seemingly spinning out of control, many political observers are left wondering what it all means. The war in Syria has been at the forefront of the news since 2011, and rightly so, as Syria has become the epicenter of a larger regional conflict, particularly with the ascendance of ISIS in the last year.
Undoubtedly, the mainstream acceptance of the ISIS threat has changed the strategic calculus vis-à-vis Syria, as the US prepares to launch yet another open-ended war, ostensibly to defeat it. And, while many in the West are willing to buy the ISIS narrative and pretext for war, they do so with little understanding or recognition of the larger geopolitical contours of this conflict. Essentially, almost everyone ignores the fact that ISIS and Syria-Iraq is only one theater of conflict in the broader regional war being waged by the US-NATO-GCC-Israel axis. Also of vital importance is an understanding of the proxy war against Iran (and all Shia in the region), being fomented by the very same terror and finance networks that have spread the ISIS disease in Syria.
In attempting to unravel the complex web of relations between the terror groups operating throughout the region, important commonalities begin to emerge. Not only are many of these groups directly or tangentially related to each other, their shadowy connections to western intelligence bring into stark relief an intricate mosaic of terror that is part of a broader strategy of sectarianism designed to destroy the “Axis of Resistance” which unites Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. In so doing, these terror groups and their patrons hope to internationalize the war in Syria, and its destructive consequences.
Terrorism as a Weapon in Syria and Iraq
In order to understand how these seemingly disparate groups fit into the regional destabilization, one must first recognize how they are connected both in terms of ideology and shared relationships. On the one hand you have the well known terror outfits operating in the Syria-Iraq theater of this conflict. These would include the ubiquitous ISIS, along with its Al Qaeda-affiliated ally Jabhat Al-Nusra.
However, often left out of the western narrative is the fact that the so called “moderate rebels,” such as the Al Farouq Brigade and other similar groups affiliated with the “Free Syrian Army,” are also linked through various associations with a number of jihadi organizations in Syria and beyond. These alleged “moderates” have been documented as having committed a number of egregious war crimes including mutilation of their victims, and cross-border indiscriminate shelling. And these are the same “moderates” that the Obama Administration spent the last three years touting as allies, as groups worthy of US weapons, to say nothing of the recent revelations of cooperation with US air power. But of course US cooperation with these extremist elements is only the tip of the iceberg.
A recent UN report further corroborated the allegations that Israeli military and/or Mossad is cooperating with, and likely helping to organize, the Jabhat al-Nusra organization in and around the Golan Heights. Such claims of course dovetail with the reports from Israeli media that militant extremists fighting the Syrian government have been treated in Israeli medical facilities. Naturally, these clandestine activities carried out by Israel should be combined with the overt attacks on Syria carried out by Tel Aviv, including recent airstrikes, which despite the inaction of the UN and international community, undeniably constitute a war crime.
Beyond the US and Israel however, other key regional actors have taken part in the destabilization and war on Syria. Turkey has provided safe haven for terrorists streaming into Syria to wage war against the legally recognized government of President Assad. In cooperation with the CIA and other agencies, Turkey has worked diligently to foment civil war in Syria in hopes of toppling the Assad government, thereby allowing Ankara to elevate itself to a regional hegemon, or so the thinking of Erdogan and Davutoglu goes. Likewise, Jordan has provided training facilities for terrorists under the guidance and tutelage of “instructors” from the US, UK, and France.
But why rehash all these well-documented aspects of the destabilization and war on Syria? Simple. In order to fully grasp the regional dimension and global implications of this conflict, one must place the Syria war in its broader geopolitical context, and understand it as one part of a broader war on the “Axis of Resistance.” For, while Hezbollah and certain Iranian elements have been involved in the fighting and logistical support in Syria, another insidious threat has emerged – a renewed terror war against Iran in its Sistan and Baluchestan province in the east.
Rekindling the Proxy War against Iran
As the world’s attention has been understandably fixed upon the horrors of Syria, Iraq, and Libya, a new theater in the regional conflict has come to the forefront – Iran; specifically, Iran’s eastern Sistan and Baluchestan province, long a hotbed of separatism and anti-Shia terror, where a variety of terror groups have operated with the covert, and often overt, backing of western and Israeli intelligence agencies.
Just in the last year, there have been numerous attacks on Iranian military and non-military targets in the Sistan and Baluchestan region, attacks carried out by a variety of groups. Perhaps the most well known instance occurred in March 2014 when five Iranian border guards were kidnapped – one was later executed – by Jaish al-Adl which, according to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium is:
an extremist Salafi group that has since its foundation claimed responsibility for a series of operations against Iran’s domestic security forces and Revolutionary Guards operating in Sistan and Balochistan province, including the detonation of mines [link added] against Revolutionary Guards vehicles and convoys, kidnapping of Iranian border guards and attacks against military bases… Jaish al-Adl is also opposed to the Iranian Government’s active support of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which they regard as an attack on Sunni muslims… Jaish ul-Adl executes cross border operations between the border of Iran and Pakistan and is based in the Baluchistan province in Pakistan.
It is important to note the centrality of Iran’s support for Syria and the Syrian Arab Army (and of course Hezbollah) in the ideological framework of a group like Jaish al-Adl. Essentially, this terror group sees their war against the Iranian government as an adjunct of the war against Assad and Syria – a new front in a larger war. Of course, the sectarian aspect should not be diminished as this group, like its many terrorist cousins, makes no distinction between political and religious/sectarian divisions. A war on Iran is a war on Shia, and both are just, both are legitimate.
Similarly, the last 18 months have seen the establishment of yet another terror group known as Ansar al-Furqan – a fusion of the Balochi Harakat Ansar and Pashto Hizb al-Furqan, both of which had been operating along Iran’s eastern border with Pakistan. According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium:
They characterize themselves as Mujahideen aginst [sic] the Shia government in Iran and are linked to Katibat al Asad Al ‘Ilamiya; Al-Farooq activists; al Nursra Front (JN), Nosrat Deen Allah, Jaysh Muhammad, Jaysh al ‘Adal; and though it was denied for some time, appears to have at least personal relationships with Jundallah… The stated mission of Ansar al Furqan is “to topple the Iranian regime…”
Like its terrorist cousin Jaish al-Adl, Ansar al-Furqan has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks against the Iranian Government, including a May 2014 IED attack on a freight train belonging to government forces. While such attacks may not make a major splash in terms of international attention, they undoubtedly send a message heard loud and clear in Tehran: these terrorists and their sponsors will stop at nothing to destroy the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Two inescapable facts immediately come to the fore when examining these groups. On the one hand, they are Sunni extremists whose ultimate goal is the destruction of the Iranian state and all vestiges of Shia dominance, political, military or otherwise. On the other hand, these groups see their war against Iran as part and parcel of the terror wars on Syria and Iraq.
And then of course there’s Jundallah, the notorious terror organization lead for decades by the Rigi family. Anyone with even cursory knowledge of the group is undoubtedly aware of its long-standing ties to both US and Israeli intelligence. As Foreign Policy magazine reported in 2012, Israeli Mossad and US CIA operatives essentially competed with one another for control of the Jundallah network for years. This information of course directly links these agencies with the covert war against Iran going back years, to say nothing of the now well-known role of Israeli intelligence in everything from assassinations of Iranian scientists to the use of cyberweapons such as Stuxnet and Flame. These and other attacks by Israel and the US against Iranian interests constitute a major part of the dirty war against Iran – a war in which terror groups figure prominently.
It should be noted that a number of other terror outfits have been used through the decades in the ongoing “low-intensity” war against Iran, including the infamous Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a terrorist group hailed as heroes by the US neocon establishment. Thanks to Wikileaks, it is also now documented fact that Israel has long since attempted to use Kurdish groups such as PJAK (Iraqi Kurdish terror group) to wage continued terror war against Iran for the purposes of destabilization of the government. Additionally, there was a decades-long campaign of Arab separatism in Iran’s western Khuzestan region spearheaded by British intelligence. As Dr. Kaveh Farrokh and Mahan Abedin wrote in 2005, “there is a mass of evidence that connects the British secret state to Arab separatism in Iran.”
These and other groups, too numerous to name here, represent a part of the voluminous history of subversion against Iran. But why now? What is the ultimate strategy behind these seemingly disparate geopolitical machinations?
Encircling the Resistance in Order to Break It
To see the obvious strategic gambit by the US-NATO-GCC-Israel axis, one need only look at a map of the major conflicts mentioned above. Syria has been infiltrated by countless terrorist groups that have waged a brutal war against the Syrian government and people. They have used Turkey in the North, Jordan in the South, and to a lesser degree Lebanon and, indirectly, Israel in the West. Working in tandem with the ISIS forces originating in Iraq, Syria has been squeezed from all sides in hopes that military defeat and/or the internal collapse of the Syrian government would be enough to destroy the country.
Naturally, this strategy has necessarily drawn Hezbollah into the war as it is allied with Syria and, for more practical reasons, cannot allow a defeated and broken Syria to come to fruition as Hezbollah would then be cut off from their allies in Iran. And so, Hezbollah and Syria have been forced to fight on no less than two fronts, fighting for the survival of the Resistance in the Levant.
Simultaneously, the regional power Iran has made itself into a central player in the war in Syria, recognizing correctly that the war could prove disastrous to its own security and regional ambitions. However, Tehran cannot simply put all its energy into supporting and defending Syria and Hezbollah as it faces its own terror threat in the East. The groups seeking to topple the Iranian government may not be able to compete militarily with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, but they can certainly create enough destabilization through terrorism to make it more difficult for Tehran to effectively aid in the fight in Syria.
The US-NATO-GCC-Israel alliance has not needed to put its own boots on the ground to achieve its strategic objectives. Instead, it is relying on irregular warfare, proxy terror wars, and small-scale destabilizations to achieve by stealth what it cannot achieve with military might alone.
But it remains paramount for all those interested in peace to make these connections, to understand the broad outlines of this vast covert war taking place. To see a war in Syria in isolation is to misunderstand its very nature. To see ISIS alone as the problem is to completely misread the essence of the conflict. This is a battle for regional hegemony, and in order to attain it, the Empire is employing every tool in the imperial toolkit, with terrorism being one of the most effective.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has suggested that the Israeli regime deliberately targeted a base of UN peacekeeping forces along Lebanon’s southern border last month, in which a peacekeeper was killed.
“The incident happened at a UNIFIL base which is known perfectly by Israeli forces,” Ban said, using the acronym for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
According to Lebanon’s An-Nahar daily on Saturday, Ban also censured the killing of the Spanish peacekeeper who died in the Israeli shelling of the UNIFIL post in January.
During the Israeli raid on the Lebanese border, the observation tower of a Spanish UNIFIL position in Abbasieh, one kilometer east of Ghajar, was directly struck by an artillery shell, killing Cpl. Francisco Javier Soria Toledo.
A report submitted to the UN Security Council on Friday by the UN’s Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag held the Israeli regime “fully liable for the death of the peacekeeper.”
Israel launched the attack after Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah targeted an Israeli military convoy in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms on January 28, killing two soldiers and wounding several others while destroying at least nine Israeli military vehicles.
The attack by Hezbollah was launched in response to an Israeli airstrike in the town of Qunaitra in Syria’s Golan Heights 10 days earlier, which killed several top members of the Lebanese resistance movement and an Iranian commander.
The Israeli attack on the UNIFIL post in January was not the first of its kind.
Four UN observers were killed in an Israeli airstrike on their post in Khiam, southern Lebanon, during the 2006 Israeli war on the Arab country. Then-UN chief Kofi Annan said at the time that the attack appeared to be “deliberate.”
A French UN observer was also killed in 2005 near the Shebaa Farms by Israeli tank shelling.
The most notorious Israeli attack, however, came in April 1996, when artillery shells fired by the regime’s forces struck the Fijian battalion headquarters in Qana, killing 107 civilians who had taken refuge at the compound.
Israel Aerospace Industries is one of Israel’s biggest arms companies. Founded in 1953 as Bedek, IAI has long been at the forefront of Israel’s arms production and export. It also develops systems for commercial aircraft. In 2013, 73% of IAI’s sales revenues came from exports.
IAI and Israel’s drone wars
IAI was one of the earliest developers of drone technology and launched its first surveillance drone, the IAI Scout, in 1979. Since then the company has launched a number of drone models (see below). Drone development is handled by IAIs MALAT divisions. IAI describes its unmanned aerial systems as ‘combat proven’ and writes on its website of its drones’ “unsurpassed track record of over 1,200,000 operational flight hours for over 50 users on five continents”. According to Drone Wars UK, IAI has exported their UAVs, sometimes through joint venture agreements, to various European countries as well as South America, Australia, Canada and India and the company has a growing market in Africa.
IAI and Gaza
Most of IAI’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) are surveillance drones, but the Heron 1 and Heron TP both have strike capabilities and have been used in Gaza. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW),i the Heron can fly up to 40 hours and can carry four Spike missiles. It is also used for surveillance and to identify targets on the ground.
Drone Wars UKii reports that Israel was deploying armed Heron 1 drones during the Operation Summer Rains attack in Gaza in 2006.
The IAI Heron TP is Israel’s biggest drone, with a wing span of 26 metres. It was first used during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza during 2008-2009.iii When the Heron TP is marketed as ‘combat proven’ it means that it has been tried out on the people of Gaza with fatal consequences.
Attacks on Lebanon:
IAI’s Searcher and Scout drones were both used for surveillance in Israel’s attacks on Lebanon in the 1990s and early 2000s. It is believed that armed Heron drones were used in the assault on Lebanon in 2006iv
IAI and the US:v
During the first Gulf War, IAI Pioneer drones were used by the US navy to guide shells fired from battleships.
A ‘defence’ company which develops and produces a variety of products for both military and commercial markets in Israel and around the world, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), fighter jets and naval and ground defence systems. In 2013, military equipment accounted for 73% of the company’s sales, with only 27% going to commercial markets.vi
Traded on: TASE
Revenues/Assets/Sales: In 2013 the company reported an operating income of $84 million, the company recorded total assets of over $5 billion and net sales of over $3.5 billion – to view the company accounts click here.
ELTA Systems Ltd (Israel)
ELTA North America (based in Maryland, US)
European Advanced Technology (EAT)
Head quarters: Ben Gurion International Airport, 70100, Israel. Phone: 00972-3-9353111 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Representatives: The company has representatives around the world, including in Asia, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Korea, North America and Russia.
Ownership: IAI is fully owned by the Israeli state. It is the largest state owned defence and aerospace company in Israel.
Drones manufactured by IAIvii
IAI Scout, Bird Eye 400, Mini Panther, Mosquito 1, Mosquito 1.5, Panther, Harpy, Searcher I, I-View-150, Searcher II, Searcher III, B-Hunter, Heron 1 (Shoval), Heron TP (Eitan).
Countries IAI has exported to:viii
Angola, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United States, UK.
In 2011 a Palestinian civil society call demanded a two way embargo on arms sales to and from the Israeli state and Israeli companies.
In October 2014, activists from London Palestine Action occupied the London offices of Airbus over its involvement with IAI. The two companies are working together on the Harfang drone for the French Air Force. The Harfang drone is based on the IAI Heron.
The battlefields of Israel’s militarism and occupation have proved effective testing grounds for new types of weaponry. Israel’s constant state of warfare has ensured a reliable marketplace for Israeli arms manufacturers. According to Drone Wars UK, surveillance drones were first used in Egypt in the lead up to the Yom Kippur War. The first recorded use of an Israeli drone to help piloted warplanes bomb targets (target acquisition) was in 1982 in the run up to the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon. According to the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, the first recorded use of an armed drone by Israel was in 2004. The experience gleaned during years of military repression has made Israel the largest exporter of drone technology in the world. Israeli arms companies have sold drones to over 50 countries.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW): “the missile fired from a drone has its own cameras that allow the operator to observe the target from the moment of firing. The optics on both the drone and missiles include imaging infrared cameras that allow operators to see individuals at night as well as during the day. With these visual capabilities, drone operators should have been able to tell the difference between fighters and others directly participating in hostilities, who are legitimate targets, and civilians, who are immune from attack, and to hold fire if that determination could not be made. If a last-second doubt arises about a target, the drone operator can use the missile’s remote guidance system to divert the fired missile, steering the missile away from the target with a joystick.”
Despite this, the number of deaths (as a proportion of total deaths) caused by drone strikes has been increasing. During our 2013 visit to Gaza, Corporate Watch interviewed several survivors of Israeli drone attacks who had not involved in any fighting before they were targeted, many of those killed by drone attacks are children. The Gaza based Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights provided Corporate Watch with these shocking figures for the years 2000-2012:
Total recorded number of people killed by Israeli attacks in Gaza
Number of people killed by Israeli drones in Gaza (% of total)
Israeli drone strikes are carried out from the Palmachin and Tel Nof air force bases.xxii
i Human Rights Watch (2009), Section 4
iiDrone Wars UK (2014), page 10
iiiT. Goldenburg, Huffington Post, Israel Unveils New Drone Fleet that can reach Iran (2010)
ivDrone Wars UK (2014), page 10
vDrone Wars UK (2014), page 7
viiDrone Wars UK (2014), page 7
viiiDrone Wars UK (2014), page 19
Israel’s foreign minister has described as “inevitable” a third war with Lebanon and a fourth aggression in the besieged Gaza Strip in the wake of a recent retaliatory attack by Hezbollah.
“A fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable, just as a third Lebanon war is inevitable,” Avigdor Lieberman said in an interview with Israel’s Ynet on Sunday.
“There’s no doubt the rules of the game have been changed, what Hezbollah forced upon us. We don’t respond, but rather decide to contain this incident,” Lieberman said, adding that the Lebanese resistance movement is “more determined.”
The Israeli official also said that another war on the Gaza Strip was on the horizon, adding that Hamas was already rebuilding its military capacities.
“We saw 10 rockets being fired at the sea last week. We see every week how they’re rebuilding [their arsenal],” he said, referring to the Palestinian resistance movement.
Hezbollah killed two Israeli soldiers and destroyed at least nine Israeli military vehicles in a retaliatory attack on a military convoy in northern occupied territories on January 28. Tel Aviv said a 20-year-old sergeant and a 25-year-old captain were killed.
Following the attack, Hezbollah said the move was in retaliation for Israel’s January 18 attack on the Syrian section of Golan Heights, where six Hezbollah members and an Iranian commander lost their lives.
Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of martyred Hezbollah top commander, Imad Mughniyeh, was among those killed in the attack.
A report from the Washington Post on Friday confirmed that the CIA and Israel’s spy agency Mossad were behind an elaborate plot to kill Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh in a 2008 car bomb attack in Syria.
Citing former intelligence officials, the newspaper reported that US and Israeli spy agencies worked together to target Mughniyeh on February 12, 2008 as he left a restaurant in the Syrian capital Damascus.
He was killed instantly by a car bomb planted in a spare tire on the back of a parked car, which exploded shrapnel in a tight radius, the Post said.
On January 19, Jihad, Mughniyeh’s 24-year-old son, was also killed by Israeli forces in Syria, along with five Hezbollah members and and an Iranian general in a helicopter airstrike near the city of Quneitra.
The bomb that killed Mughniyeh, built by the United States and tested in the state of North Carolina, was triggered remotely by Mossad agents in Tel Aviv who were in communication with the CIA operatives on the ground in Damascus.
“The way it was set up, the US could object and call it off, but it could not execute,” a former US intelligence official told the newspaper.
The CIA declined to comment to the Post about the report.
According the newspaper, the authority to kill required a presidential finding by George W. Bush. Several senior officials, including the attorney general, the director of national intelligence and the national security advisor, would have had to sign off on the order, it added.
The newspaper said that during the Iraq war, the Bush administration had approved a list of operations aimed at Hezbollah, and according to one official, this included approval to target Mughniyeh.
“There was an open license to find, fix and finish Mughniyeh and anybody affiliated with him,” a former US official who served in Baghdad told the Post.
According to the newspaper, American intelligence officials had been discussing possible ways to target the Hezbollah commander for years, and senior US Joint Special Operations Command agents held a secret meeting on the issue with the head of Israel’s military intelligence service in 2002.
“When we said we would be willing to explore opportunities to target him, they practically fell out of their chairs,” a former US official told the Post.
Though it is not clear when the agencies realized Mughniyeh was living in Damascus, a former official told the newspaper that Israel had approached the CIA about a joint operation to kill him in Syria’s capital.
The agencies collected “pattern of life” information about him and used facial recognition technology to establish his identity after he walked out of a restaurant the night he was killed.
In 2013, an Al-Akhbar investigation into the 2008 assassination revealed that Mossad, under the leadership of Meir Dagan at the time, was responsible for the operation, which took around six weeks to implement, from A to Z.
Mossad and CIA have repeatedly planned and carried out assassinations on Hezbollah’s senior commanders and members in Lebanon and Syria.
In 2013, Hezbollah commander Hassan al-Laqqis was assassinated in the suburbs of Beirut, an attack that the resistance group said was orchestrated by Israeli intelligence.
On Friday, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah spoke about the latest attack on Hezbollah members in Quneitra, stressing that Israel had “planned, calculated and took a premeditated decision to assassinate” Hezbollah fighters.
A Hezbollah supporter with the words “time for retribution” written on her hand attends a memorial ceremony to honor six Hezbollah fighters killed in Syria by an Israeli airstrike, during which Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah made a televised speech. Al-Akhbar/Marwan Tahtah
“Don’t try us,” Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah told Israel in a televised speech Friday broadcast during a memorial ceremony to honor the six Hezbollah fighters and the Iranian general killed in an Israeli airstrike in Syria earlier this month.
On January 18, an Israeli helicopter airstrike on the Syrian city of Quneitra near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights killed six fighters of Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah, including a commander, Mohammed Abu Issa, and the son of assassinated senior commander Imad Mughniyeh, as well as Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Mohammed Ali Allahdadi.
Hezbollah has been fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad in Syria against rebels in the nearly four-year Syrian conflict.
According to Nasrallah, who spoke for an hour and a half, Israel had “planned, calculated and took a premeditated decision to assassinate” the fighters, saying that the motive behind the attack was crystal clear.
Hezbollah’s chief said that while Israel isn’t worried about thousands of armed militants from the al-Nusra Front — al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria — near territories it occupies, the Zionist state “was scared on January 18 of six unarmed Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian in civilian vehicles.”
Observers from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) confirmed in a report published in December documenting cooperation and coordination between the Israeli army and militant groups in Syria.
The UNDOF report said that observers witnessed several meetings between rebel leaders and Israeli army forces between December 2013 and March 2014, in addition to witnessing the transportation of injured militants to Israeli hospitals following confrontations between the militants and the Syrian army near the occupied Golan border.
Nasrallah said that those killed in the Quneitra attack showed a “fusion of Lebanese-Iranian blood on Syrian soil, and reflects the unity of the cause and the unity of the fate of the countries in the axis of resistance.”
“When the blood of Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians and Iranians unites, we will enter an era of triumph,” he added.
The deaths of Allahdadi and Issa revealed that commanders were present on the ground alongside fighters, Nasrallah said, adding that Jihad Mughniyeh’s death showed how entire families and not just individual members were joining the resistance.
Nasrallah extended his condolences to the families of the Hezbollah fighters as well as the families of the eight Lebanese soldiers who were killed last week in clashes with al-Nusra Front militants in the area of Tallet al-Hamra near Ras Baalbek on the Lebanese-Syrian border.
Nasrallah’s remarks came two days after Hezbollah claimed responsibility for an attack against an Israel Occupation Forces (IOF) convoy in Israeli-occupied Lebanese Shebaa Farms that left a number of Israeli soldiers dead.
According to Israeli figures, two soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded, although Hezbollah-owned Al-Manar news channel said the toll was much higher.
“They killed us in broad daylight, we kill them in broad daylight … they struck two of our vehicles, we targeted two of their vehicles,” Nasrallah said, likening the Quneitra strike to the one by Hezbollah in Shebaa.
“The only difference is that we announced that Israel struck our fighters in Quneitra half an hour after the attack, whereas the Israelis didn’t,” Nasrallah continued, adding that the number of casualties on the Israeli side was “debatable.”
The Shebaa Farms area is a mountainous, narrow sliver of land rich in water resources measuring 25 square kilometers (10 square miles). It has been illegally occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war, although Lebanon has never ceased to call for its restitution.
Israel occupied most of southern Lebanon for 22 years until 2000 and the two countries are still technically at war.
“The Israelis can’t kill our people and then go to sleep … their farmers can’t stay in their fields and their soldiers can’t stroll up and down the border as if they merely killed mosquitoes,” Nasrallah said, asserting that the Zionist state would pay a price for all of its criminal actions even if that meant going to war with Israel.
“We don’t want war but we are not afraid of going to war,” Nasrallah assured. “I think the Shebaa attack was a clear message … Israel was humiliated on Wednesday.”
Nasrallah said Hezbollah would retaliate against any future Israeli attacks on its members “whenever, however and wherever,” adding that the Hezbollah “no longer cares about the rules of engagement anymore.”
“Don’t try us,” Nasrallah defiantly said to Israel.
Since the January 18 airstrike, troops and civilians in northern Israeli-occupied territories of Palestine and the occupied Golan Heights have been on heightened alert and Israel has deployed an Iron Dome rocket interceptor unit near the Syrian border.
“Israelis have been on edge ever since they targeted our fighters in Quneitra,” Nasrallah stated.
Following Wednesday’s attack, Israeli forces hit several Lebanese villages along the border, killing a 36-year-old UN peacekeeper.
Israeli warplanes routinely violate Lebanon’s airspace and have launched several attacks against Syrian targets in recent months, some reportedly carried out from over Lebanon.
On Thursday, Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA), said Israeli fighter jets penetrated deep into Lebanese airspace, startling residents as the jets flew over the capital Beirut. Israeli jets were also seen flying over southern Lebanese towns.
Nasrallah said Israel has violated Lebanese’ sovereignty and the 1701 UN resolution “thousands of times” and “on daily basis.”
Moreover, Nasrallah slammed the Arab League as “nonexistent” when it came to fighting Israel and supporting Palestinians, saying the 22-member league has served Israel more than the Palestinians. He gave the 51-day Israeli summer assault on Gaza that left 2,300 Palestinians dead as an example of the Arab League’s failure.
Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said Wednesday’s attack was the “most severe” Israel had faced since 2006, when its war with Hezbollah killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and some 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
The Auschwitz bandwagon has rolled onto our television and Internet screens and newspaper front pages once again. It never actually leaves, so perhaps it is more accurate to say that this week it is more present than usual.
You don’t believe we’re ruled by halacha (Talmudic law)? In that case, how is it that whatever befalls The Holy People of Counterfeit “Israel” is branded the supreme evil of the cosmos, and whatever happens to the eternally skimmed (we the goyim), counts for slightly less than nothing?
You never heard of it, correct? Why is that? It was a torture camp; a death camp paid for in part with American taxpayer money. But you know nothing of it. Israeli allies under Israeli direction killed and tortured the Lebanese in that El Khiam concentration camp. All of the victims were goyim, not Holy People. Now do you understand why El Khiam is unsung and unknown?
El Khiam was liberated by Hezbollah, the people Americans are taught to hate because they are the only formidable armed resistance against Israeli conquest and land theft in the Middle East. Unlike Sunni Saudi Arabia which is allied with the Israelis, Shiite Hezbollah has not cut a deal with the US or the Israelis. This is why Assad in Syria and the government of Iran are attacked and sanctioned — they are the principal, and practically the only significant allies of Hezbollah.
“Saudi Arabian interests and Israel are almost parallel,” says Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. “He notes the startling alliance of Saudi Arabia and the Jewish state.” (Wall Street Journal, November 23, 2013, p. A11).
“…the kingdom now supports Islamist rebels in Syria who often fight alongside Qaeda groups like the Nusra Front. The Saudis say they have little choice…they believe they must now back whoever can help them defeat Mr. Assad’s forces and his Iranian allies.” (New York Times, January 5, 2014, p. A10).
Saudi Arabia, which maintains a compact with its clerics who furnish the murderous Wahhabist-Salafist theology which drives ISIS and al-Qaeda, is our precious “ally,” while Hezbollah, Iran and Assad’s Syria we are taught to hate, sanction and prepare to do war with.
We are seeing the makings of another war unfolding this week, which the Israelis are instigating in league with their covert Saudi-based Wahhabist-Salafist Sunni terrorist allies; a war intended to finish off Assad, the protector of the Christian population in Syria, and in Lebanon to “mow the lawn” (an Israeli euphemism for periodic massacres of Arab civilians so as to “tame” these lesser humans).
Here’s how it’s playing out as we write these words: nine days ago the Israeli military bombed a convoy in Syria’s Golan Heights. The bombs killed five members of Hezbollah, including the son of the group’s former military commander, Imad Mughniyeh, and an Iranian general. The Israeli government justified the unprovoked attack on Syrian land by claiming, on no evidence, that Hezbollah and its Iranian allies “had been building an infrastructure in the Syrian Golan Heights with which to attack Israel.” The NY Times and other controlled media published this alibi without skepticism and without publishing any comment from Syria, Iran or Hezbollah as a counter to it. The Israelis issue the pretext for their violence and all people who think “correct” thoughts are obligated to believe it’s true.
Today, Jan. 28, in retaliation for the Israeli attack (although the mainstream media will not patently report it as retaliation), Hezbollah struck an Israeli convoy, with the difference being that whereas the US media published almost no photos of the Israeli attack nine days ago, today graphic and grisly photos of the wounded Israelis and the wreckage of their vehicles are plastered all over the US media.
To summarize, the Israelis launched an unprovoked bombing raid on Syria, killing Hezbollah personnel and an Iranian general. When representatives of those victims fight back, we have the situation today, as decreed by “our” media: “Hezbollah launches attack on Israel.”
One envisions the shaking heads and indignation of all of those millions of Fox News habitués and “American Sniper” movie viewers, who are thinking, “Those damned Arabs are at it again! Go Israel!”
With an Israeli national election weeks away, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was anxious to initiate a tit-for-tat exchange with Hezbollah which he knew the US media would suggest was “an act of Arab terror,” which in turn provides Netanyahu the opportunity to gain more popularity with the generally bloodthirsty Israeli electorate by sparking a war with Lebanon and Syria.
All this might very well precipitate another genocidal Israeli “lawn mowing” of Lebanese civilians (last witnessed in 2006), and the opportunity to further assist the al-Qaeda connected Nusra front in Syria in finally crushing the Syrian-Christian population’s ally, Assad, and instituting Nusra’s Sharia law in Syria, which Right wing Republicans claim to oppose in the US but support in Syria — by means of their Israeli-approved goal of overthrowing Assad.
According to a statement on his Facebook page, Russian-Judaic Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, stated that “Israel” should respond to Hezbollah’s retaliation, “in a very harsh and disproportionate manner.”
We’ll wager that Lieberman’s advocacy of a “disproportionate” attack is a reference to his goal of another massacre of Lebanese. Lieberman’s political ally, Ayelet Shaked, a member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament), spelled it out: “bombing a civilian population is justified when civilians give shelter to evil” (Jewish Daily Forward, Jan. 26, 2015).
“Evil” in this context signifies any goy who raises his head against Israeli occupation and mass murder.
Israelis have a license to kill Arabs. They can “Auschwitz” them as much as they like, on this, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Copyright©2015 by Independent History and Research
Spain has held the Tel Aviv regime accountable for the death of a Spanish peacekeeper serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) during an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement.
“It was because of this escalation of violence, and it came from the Israeli side,” Spanish Ambassador Roman Oyarzun Marchesi told reporters in New York on Wednesday.
Marchesi further noted that his country demands full investigation into the killing.
The Spanish defense ministry said in a statement that 36-year-old Corporal Francisco Javier Soria Toledo “died this [Wednesday] morning during incidents between Hezbollah and the Israeli army in the area of responsibility of the Spanish contingent.”
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy expressed on Twitter his “great sadness at the death of a Spanish soldier in Lebanon.”
The Security Council also condemned the peacekeeper’s death in its strongest terms, and extended its sincere sympathies.
See also :
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has blamed Hezbollah for the death of a Spanish UN peacekeeper killed in retaliatory Israeli mortar fire in southern Lebanon on Wednesday.
After a series of cross-border strikes that left two IDF soldiers and a Spanish peacekeeper from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) dead on Wednesday, Lieberman called Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo to express his condolences.
He also claimed that the Lebanese government was responsible for any attacks that come from its territory.
Lieberman called on Israel to respond to the attack in a “forceful and disproportionate manner.”
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also warned that Israel could retaliate harshly.
“To those who are challenging us in the north, I suggest you look at what happened in the Gaza Strip,” he said. … Full article
Israel hit Lebanon with a number of rockets after an anti-tank missile was fired at an Israel Occupation Forces (IOF) convoy near the Lebanon border on Wednesday.
The Israeli army said on its Twitter feed that an “initial reports indicate a military vehicle was hit, apparently by an anti-tank missile in the area of Har Dov,” using Israel’s term for the Shebaa Farms which is also close to the ceasefire line with Syria.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement claimed the attack.
“At 11:25 (0925 GMT) this morning, the Quneitra martyrs of the Islamic Resistance (Hezbollah) targeted an Israeli military convoy in the Shebaa Farms composed of several vehicles which was transporting several Zionist soldiers and officers,” Hezbollah said in a statement broadcast on the group’s Al-Manar television channel
Al-Manar said nine Israeli vehicles were targeted in the attack. Al-Mayadeen news channel’s Director Ghassan Ben Jeddo, said at least 15 Israeli soldiers have been killed.
There were conflicting reports on whether an Israeli soldier was abducted during the attack. Al-Akhbar English could not independently confirm the information at this time.
The Shebaa Farms area is a mountainous, narrow sliver of land rich in water resources measuring 25 square kilometers (10 square miles). It has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war.
An Israeli security source, meanwhile, said a number of people were wounded in the incident after their vehicles came under “very heavy fire at close range,” saying the incident was still ongoing.
He said it was not clear whether the vehicles had been hit by an anti-tank missile, a rocket or a mortar, but said Israeli forces had returned fire, hitting targets across the border.
Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post said the Israeli army fired at the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Shouba.
Two sources told AFP that more than a dozen shells had been fired on Lebanese border villages and that Israeli warplanes were flying over the area.
A spokesperson for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which monitors the Lebanese-Israeli border, reported that one of its soldiers, a Spanish citizen, was killed after sustaining serious wounds by Israeli shelling in the border village of Abbasieh.
“At least 15 shells have been fired against five villages in the south,” one security source said, adding that the village of Majidiyeh was hardest hit.
Another security source said the Israeli army was firing a new shell into the area about every two minutes, and was also firing artillery.
The Lebanese army is deployed in all five villages that were shelled, but it was unclear whether Hezbollah had a presence there.
Al-Mayadeen said the Israeli strikes were ongoing.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that mortar shells had hit the village of Ghajar, which straddles the border between Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Images broadcast from the scene showed large plumes of white smoke billowing across the area and police sealed off several roads close to the border in northern Israel.
Commenting on the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was ready to act “with force” following the border attack.
Referring to the bloody Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip this summer, Netanyahu added: “I suggest that all those who are challenging us on our northern border, look at what happened in Gaza, not far from the city of Sderot.”
“Hamas suffered the most serious blow since it was founded this past summer and the [IOF] is prepared to act on every front.”
Retaliation for Israeli attacks in Syria
The attack came hours after Israeli aircraft struck alleged Syrian army artillery positions early on Wednesday, and one day after rockets were launched at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
On January 18, an Israeli airstrike on the Syrian city of Quneitra killed six fighters of Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah, including a commander and the son of assassinated senior commander Imad Mughniyeh, as well as Iranian Revolutionary Guards General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi.
The Hezbollah brigade which carried out the attack, the Quneitra martyrs of the Islamic Resistance, was named in reference to the deadly strike in Quneitra, indicating that Wednesday’s attack was in retaliation for the killing of its members.
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah had previously warned Israel against any “stupid” moves in Lebanon and Syria, vowing to retaliate and make sure Israel pays the price for any aggression against the neighboring countries.
Israeli airstrikes on Syria “target the whole of the resistance axis,” Nasrallah said in reference to Syria, Iran and his government, who are sworn enemies of Israel.
“The repeated bombings that struck several targets in Syria are a major violation, and we consider that any strike against Syria is a strike against the whole of the resistance axis, not just against Syria,” he said, adding the “axis is capable of responding” anytime.
Since the airstrike, troops and civilians in northern Israeli-occupied territories of Palestine and the occupied Golan Heights have been on heightened alert and Israel has deployed an Iron Dome rocket interceptor unit near the Syrian border.
The last Israeli war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006 killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers.
Nasrallah is expected to deliver a speech on January 30 regarding the Israeli strikes.
(Al-Akhbar, AFP, Reuters)