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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Analysis arrow Lebanon: Syrian Involvement Likely
Lebanon: Syrian Involvement Likely PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stratfor Today   
Monday, 07 April 2008

Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah shaking hands with anti-Syrian Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. HASAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images
Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah shaking hands with anti-Syrian Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. HASAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images

Summary
Syria’s attempts to elevate its intimidation campaign in Lebanon could be overshadowed by what appears to be an imminent rematch between Israel and Hezbollah.

Analysis
According to a Stratfor source in Lebanon, an important meeting took place April 2 that involved Hezbollah, the Lebanese Baath Party, the Syrian Nationalist and Socialist Party (SNSP) and a Druze coalition in opposition to anti-Syrian Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. The meeting took place in a residential apartment in Ghobayri in Beirut’s southern suburbs. According to the source, Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah was scheduled to represent Hezbollah in the meeting, but his deputy Naeem Qasim showed up instead — in keeping with Stratfor’s analysis that Nasrallah is increasingly being cut out of the organization’s decision-making process. Fayez Shukr represented the Lebanese Baath Party, Ali Qansu represented the SNSP and Wi’aam Wahhab represented the Druze coalition. Wafic Safa, Hezbollah’s head of security, led the meeting.

Safa told the meeting attendees that, with the end of the failed Arab League summit in Damascus, the Hezbollah-led opposition needs to prepare for major developments to take place in Lebanon. Stratfor has long been receiving indications that Syria will soon be stepping up its game in its western neighbor after hitting walls left and right in getting its demands met in Lebanon. Those demands include forcing the Western-backed March 14 coalition led by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora into an agreement installing a new president and Cabinet favorable to Syrian interests, expanding political and security guarantees for Hezbollah and granting immunity to the Syrian regime for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Syria’s intimidation campaign in Lebanon is likely to include another string of assassinations targeting the March 14 coalition’s Cabinet members with the aim of forcing a collapse of the Siniora government. A radical transformation has also been taking place in Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp over the past six months in which Syrian military intelligence has been working to shift the balance of power from a movement composed of Palestinian Fatah fighters to a Syrian sponsored jihadist alliance that includes Jund al-Sham, Usbat al-Ansar, Jundallah and remnants of Fatah al-Islam. By playing the jihadist card, Damascus likely intends to distance itself and Hezbollah from attacks in Lebanon, preferring instead to let the blame fall to the nebulous “al Qaeda-linked” forces operating in Lebanon.

But with signs of a war between Israel and Hezbollah looming, Syria’s plans for Lebanon could very well get disrupted. A series of indications have surfaced over the past week suggesting the long-anticipated rematch between Israel and Hezbollah may be nearing. The Syrians have been engaged in some military posturing and have redeployed three divisions (sources suggest approximately 27,000 troops) to the west Bekaa Valley along the border with Lebanon, while the Israelis are engaging in large-scale civil defense exercises. Syria is involved in a complex set of diplomatic maneuvers to stave off the conflict or at least reach an understanding with Israel that would keep the Syrian regime out of danger, but the risk for miscalculation is still high. Despite the preparations made by Syria’s allies in Lebanon to target the March 14 coalition, Israel’s threats to invade the Bekaa Valley and root out Hezbollah’s strongholds could soon overshadow Syria’s political agenda in Lebanon.

http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/syrian_involvement_likely_lebanon

By Stratfor. This Report Expresses the views of Stratfor

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of CRNews.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 07 April 2008 )
 
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