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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Latest Intel Lebanon - Region - April 14, 2008
Latest Intel Lebanon - Region - April 14, 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Geostrategy-direct.com, Debkafile, Stratfor   
Monday, 14 April 2008

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Latest intelligence from Lebanon and the Region

Assad's brother-in-law marginalized by Syrian regime
from Geostrategy-direct.com 4/14/08

 
Syrian military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Assaf Shawkat has seen his meteoric rise to the top blocked by his brother-in-law, President Bashar Assad. Shawkat has been dismissed as military intelligence chief and was placed under restrictions by the president. Shawkat has long been a thorn in Assad's side. Brash and brutal, Shawkat was seen as the man who controlled Assad and the entire military and security apparatus. 

 

Assad Family 

The Assad family: from left to right (back row): Maher, Bashar, Basil, Majid, and Bushra. Shawkat had earlier been backed ihis wife and Assad's sister, Bushra, said to exercise a major influence in the ruling Assad family.
 
For a while, Assad went along. But over the last year, the president, with the help of other family members, has been quietly whittling away at Shawkat's authority.
 
The breaking point came in wake of the assassination of Hizbullah operational chief Imad Mughniyeh on Feb. 12 in Damascus. Assad was stunned by the assassination, which took place in the most secure neighborhood of Damascus and right after Mughniyeh met with Syrian security chiefs, including Shawkat.

Iran and Hizbullah were furious and wanted to know how an assassin entered Mughniyeh's car and placed a bomb inside. But Shawkat panicked and destroyed all evidence that could have answered this question. Instead, Shawkat, suggesting this was part of a Hizbullah power struggle, told Iran that the assassins came from within Syria.

That made Iran, Syria's most powerful ally, even angrier. Assad then decided that Shawkat must be removed from his post — if only to stave off an Iranian or Hizbullah backlash.

Shawkat's replacement was Brig. Gen. Hafez Makhlouf, Assad's first cousin and longtime confidante. Over the last year, Makhlouf had been given more authority once reserved for Shawkat.

Assad felt most of his problems could be attributed to Shawkat. One of his biggest concerns the United Nations investigation of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. Shawkat convinced Assad that Hariri had to be killed to ensure Syrian control over the government in Beirut.

Hizbullah has blamed Israel for the Mughniyeh assassination. But Arab intelligence sources said Syria was behind the car bombing of the Hizbullah operational chief.

Former Syrian Vice President Abdul Khalim Khaddam has even named the architect of the Mughniyeh assassination. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, head of Syria's General Intelligence Department.

Why Syria? Arab intelligence sources said the assassination of Mughniyeh was part of Assad's attempt to get on the good side of the United States and halt the UN investigation into the killing of Hariri.

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Exclusive: Another Syrian armored division masses on Israeli-Lebanese borders
From Debkafile April 14, 2008, 12:19 PM (GMT+02:00)

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Damascus has deployed the 10th armed corps at the Massaneh crossing of Mount Hermon. It links up with the northwestern positions the 14th division took up last month on the Syrian-Israeli border which cuts through the Hermon range.

Syrian troops are now strung along a continuous crescent-shaped line from the central Lebanese mountains through Mt Dov on the western slopes of Mt. Hermon and up to southeastern Lebanon. This deployment, commanding Syria’s Israeli and Lebanese borders, is under the command of the president’s brother, Maher Assad.

The 10th armored corps was moved forward straight after Syria’s snap civil defense exercise which crashed after three hours last Thursday, April 10. The exercise was ordered without notice by president Bashar Assad on the last day of Israel’s five-day homeland defense drill.

DEBKAfile’s military sources are criticizing Israel officials for attributing Syria’s latest military movements to domestic troubles inside the Syrian leadership. They say this is throwing sand in the public’s eyes and at one with the government’s practice of playing down all the heightened military threats to Israel – whether from Syria, the Lebanese Hizballah or the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza.

The IDF’s Northern Command officers report that the Syrian army’s buildup opposite Israel has accelerated in April and warn that its units are arrayed for a quick transition to attack mode.

The link-up between Syria’s 10th and 14th divisions on the border running through Mt Hermon should have been a wake-up call for the government in Jerusalem, they say, and elicited counter-moves to show Damascus that Israel is ready to meet every contingency.

Sunday, April 13, prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met briefly to rough out the position Abbas will put before President George W. Bush whom he meets at the White House in ten days. Olmert made the gesture of licensing the entry to Israel of 5,000 Palestinian construction workers. This gesture was challenged by security services as a carrying the risk of terrorist infiltration and by economic leaders who say the Palestinians will take Israeli jobs.

Foreign minister Tzipi Livni is in Qatar, where she is to address the 8th annual Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade. Qatari rulers plan to persuade her that Israel should back their initiatives to patch up quarrels in the Arab world between Egypt and Syria and the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas. Neither is in Israel’s interest, because conciliation would confer legitimacy on Arab and Islamist radicalism and spur its expansion.

Livni, who knew she would come under pressure during her Doha visit, insisted on going through with it andtreating it as a breakthrough in Israeli relations with the Gulf emirates.

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Israeli intelligence reports extensive military activities in Lebanon
from Geostrategy-direct.com 4/14/08

JERUSALEM — Israel's intelligence community has detected Hizbullah military preparations throughout southern and central Lebanon in recent weeks.
 
The preparations included the deployment of fighters and missiles south of the Litani River near the Israeli border.
 
"We clearly identify a great deal of activity among Hizbullah," a senior military intelligence officer said. "It is growing stronger on all levels, improving its systems, its units and is receiving a great deal of weapons and missiles with medium and long ranges."
 
The intelligence community has also reported that Iran established listening stations in southern and central Syria to intercept Israeli civilian and military communications. The community has issued a warning that translated into a military order for senior officers to leave their cellular phones outside rooms where classified information would be discussed.

In a briefing on April 1 to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, military intelligence officers warned of Hizbullah contacts with other Iranian-sponsored organizations in preparation of a strike against Israel. The officers said Hizbullah, seeking to avenge the assassination of operational chief Imad Mughniyeh in February 2008, was believed to have been working with such groups as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah Al Islam.

"Hizbullah is preparing for an escalation that may break out in the north as a result of an operation against Israel," the officer told the Knesset committee. "We are not discounting any possibility. There are assessments that they may carry out an operation in the north through another organization."

Military intelligence has determined that Hizbullah has been restrained by Iran and Syria from attacking Israel immediately after the Mughniyeh assassination. Officers said the Iranian-sponsored organization, using plainclothes fighters who operate in Shi'ite villages, has instead been urged to draft plans for a major strike that could be denied or attributed to another group.

"Hizbullah is wary of firing at Israel at the moment because of the blows it sustained during the Second Lebanon War," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said. "But we also have many lessons to learn from that war, which we will hopefully implement in IDF training."

On April 1, Barak toured the Israel-Lebanon border with military commanders. The defense minister acknowledged Hizbullah preparations for renewed conflict.

"We are looking at this calm and quiet view, but we know that underground there is a great deal of activity," Barak said. "Hizbullah is getting stronger, but so is Israel, which is the strongest nation in the region."

Since the 2006 war, Hizbullah was said to have increased its arsenal to nearly 40,000 missiles and rockets, some of them capable of traveling up to 300 kilometers. Military intelligence officers said Iran and Syria have trained, equipped and helped build new Hizbullah fortifications in southern Lebanon during 2007.

"Hizbullah is continuing its military escalation in Lebanon, and is supplied with ample arms from Syria and Iran," another military intelligence officer said. "It is improving and streamlining all of its military units, and thus we still cannot rule out an attack in retaliation for Mugniyeh's assassination. Hizbullah is also likely to send other groups to do their dirty work for them, and not claim credit for such attacks."

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U.S. warns Syria upgrading its missile capability
from Geostrategy-direct.com 4/14/08

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department has reported a Syrian effort to improve its ballistic missile capability. Officials said Syrian missiles could strike Israel as well as at least one NATO ally.
 
"Syria is working to improve its ballistic missile capabilities and production infrastructure," Missile Defense Agency director Henry Obering said. "Today Syria is capable of striking targets in Israel and Turkey, our southern NATO partner, using rockets and ballistic missiles."

In testimony to the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces, Obering said Syria and Iran have linked their missile development programs. He said Syria has been extending the range of its Scud-class missile arsenal to the point where U.S. interests could be threatened.

"Syria can produce longer-range Scud variant missiles using considerable foreign assistance from countries such as North Korea and Iran," Obering said on April 1. "So our vigilance must extend well out into the future, when the threats we face today have grown and new threats may have emerged."

Officials said Syria has enhanced the Scud D ballistic missile, designed by North Korea. The Scud D, with a separating warhead, was said to have been extended to a range of 800 kilometers.

Iran and North Korea have been deemed the leading missile threats to the United States. Officials said both Pyongyang and Teheran were capable of multiple and simultaneous missile launches.

Officials said Teheran has extended its Shihab-3 intermediate-range ballistic missile. The U.S. intelligence community believes Iran could produce an intercontinental ballistic missile able to strike the United States by 2015.

"Iran has the largest force of ballistic missiles in the Middle East — several hundred short- and medium-range ballistic missiles — and its highly publicized missile exercise training has enabled Iranian ballistic missile forces to hone wartime skills and new tactics," Obering said.
 
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Washington Opens Diplomatic Door to Tehran
DEBKAfile Special Report
April 13, 2008, 9:45 PM (GMT+02:00)

Certain prominent Americans have undertaken secret colloquy with Tehran and may be preparing to go public and make it official, with the administration’s blessing.

DEBKAfile’s Washington sources name them as Thomas R. Pickering, former ambassador to Moscow, the UN and Israel, William Luers, former envoy to Venezuela and the Czech Republic, and Jim Walsh, a New York Republican Congressman.

They have been quietly encouraged by Rice, defense secretary Robert Gates and influential quarters in the US military and intelligence elite, who are anxious to avert a US-Iranian military clash in the eight months remaining to the Bush presidency and cut the ground from under a possible US or Israel attack on Iran.

They hope direct dialogue with Tehran will act as the groundwork for an understanding between the next US president and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It is seen also as stealing some of the thunder from the Democratic candidate Barack Obama’s offer to talk to the Iranians, and arm Republican candidate John McCain with a non-binding option on Iran for his campaign.

The American undercover conversations with Iranian officials have been going on for some time in Geneva, Switzerland, to explore common ground on Iran’s nuclear program.

Last month, the three emissaries produced a working paper called “A Solution for the US-Iran Nuclear Standoff.”

It proposed bringing Iran’s uranium enrichment program under a multinational consortium including Iran and other governments, such as France and Germany, who would participate in managing and operating the program within Tehran. This would solve the US-Iranian nuclear standoff, ensure that Iran stops short of producing weapons-grade fuel and lift the threat of international sanctions.

President Ahmadinejad was quoted as endorsing the multilateral solution. Although his perception is likely to be different from an American or European version, the paper’s authors believe those differences could be resolved in negotiations.

A serious setback to relations came from Tehran’s intervention in the Iraqi government’s crackdown this month on militias in the southern Basra province and rocket attacks in Baghdad. (DEBKA-Net-Weekly 343 of April 4 published details). Iran’s position as the greatest threat to Iraq was highlighted by Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker in their testimony to Congress last week - to the point that al Qaeda scarcely rated a mention.

President George W. Bush commented on April 11 that if Iran continues to help militias in Iraq “then we’ll deal with them.” But he also reaffirmed his disinclination for war and preference for diplomatic solutions. “You can’t solve these problems unilaterally. You’re going to need a multilateral forum,” he said.

This testimony and the president’s remarks did not set to rest the Washington cliffhanger over whether the president will opt for military action against Iran after all, before he leaves the White House, or stick to quiet diplomacy and relegate the Iran nuclear headache to his successor.

Bush’s immediate reaction confirmed the latter view: Without prior notice, he sent Petraeus and Crocker to Riyadh. Last week, there was talk of a limited US military action against the Iranian command centers directing, training and army Iraq’s militias. Now, the commander-in-chief was instructing the top Americans in Iraq to persuade the Saudis to blaze the way for Arab rulers to throw their support behind the Maliki government in Baghdad. The object of this exercise was to offset rather than challenge Iranian influence in Baghdad.

A diplomatic, multilateral course appeared to have been set in motion for dealing with Iranian troublemaking in Iraq - if not its nuclear defiance.

But the opposite signal came a day later in an interview the US president gave Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard. The conclusion Kristol drew was that the hearing (given by Petraeus and Crocker) was “less an argument for getting out of Iraq than going into Iran.”

Asked whether he thought there was a chance of Bush ordering a military strike against Iran before the end of his tenure, Kristol replied: “We didn’t really talk about that, in all honesty, directly. I don’t think it’s out of the question.”

Clearly, President Bush is leaving everyone guessing up to the last second about which way he will jump.

Diplomacy is meanwhile in motion – whether relevant or not to the president’s ultimate plans.

The former US president Jimmy Carter’s plan to travel to Damascus and meet Syrian president and Hamas politburo leader Khalad Meshaal drew automatic reproof from the US State Department and Secretary Condoleezza Rice. He began his trip in Israel Sunday, April 13, before heading for Syria.

However, the 84-year old Carter’s Damascus venture could fit in with the White House’s broader “multilateral” strategy with regard to Iran. His own party, the Democrats, frown on it. Barack Obama, who is ready to talk to Iran, said sternly Saturday, April 12: “I would not meet with Hamas unless it recognized Israel, renounced terror and abided by previous agreements. I don’t think conversation with them is useful.”

He thus lined up with the Bush administration and the official line of the Middle East Quartet line on the Palestinian terrorist group.

Carter, however, appears to be going with the Bush flow: Is he beating a path to Iran’s allies and proxies, Syria, Hamas, and even Hizballah, to generate an amicable environment for administration diplomats to forge an understanding between Washington and Tehran? Or striking out on his own.

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Iran claims major gains in strategic development
from Geostrategy-direct.com 4/14/08

Iran insists it has installed thousands of advanced gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment and is developing major new weapons systems.
 
As always, the claims cannot not be independently verified.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said 6,000 new centrifuges were being installed for the enrichment program. Ahmadinejad also said Iran was testing a centrifuge that was five times as fast as Iran's P-1 centrifuge, designed by Pakistan.

"Today, the phase for installing 6,000 new centrifuges at the facility in Natanz has started," Ahmadinejad said on April 8.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has reported that Iran was operating 3,000 centrifuges — in cascades of 164 machines each — at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant. Agency staffers said this could enable Iran to enrich enough uranium for a nuclear bomb by 2009.

In his statement, the president, who also visited Natanz, said Iran was testing a new centrifuge that was smaller than P-1. He did not say how many of the advanced centrifuges were being tested.

"We have attained remarkable achievements and success in the production of magnetic alloy with new devices," Ahmadinejad said. "Our new technological achievements will make a breakthrough in the country's industrial sector in the near future."

IAEA has reported the Iranian acquisition of the IR-2 centrifuge, said to be a variant of Pakistan's P-2 centrifuge. In February 2008, Teheran told the agency that IR-2, said to be twice as fast as P-1, has begun operations.

The United States, which in December 2007 asserted that Teheran abandoned its nuclear weapons program, was quick to play down Ahmadinejad's announcement. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the claim of the Iranian president could not be substantiated.

"There are always multiple claims coming out of Iran about progress on this or progress on that," Ms. Rice said. "I don't think that the underlining situation has changed, which is that Iran faces three separate Security Council resolutions."

Meanwhile, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has reported that several major weapons projects were approaching maturity. Officials said some of these programs were expected to be ready for production in 2008.

"Iranians will witness remarkable changes in utilization of new and modern weapons to preserve its security and defend its territory," IRGC commander Gen. Mohammed Ali Jaafari said.

Jaafari said Iran was developing systems in the missile, aerospace and navy sectors. He said he expected "great achievements" in Iran's defense industry, but did not elaborate.

"Although the enemies attempt to threaten the Islamic system of Iran, we witness satisfactory development in the country as a result of its appropriate security," Jaafari said.

Over the last two years, Iran unveiled a series of platforms deemed indigenous. They included surface-to-air and ship-to-ship missiles, fighter-jets and mini-submarines.

Jaafari, who became IRGC commander in September 2007, has been regarded as a leading proponent of Iran's defense industry and military reform. He said Iran's military and security forces have increased coordination to enhance internal and border security.

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Al Qaida uses silencers in Iraq
from Geostrategy-direct.com 4/14/08
 
Al Qaida has acquired weapons with silencers to kill U.S. and Iraqi officers. Al Qaida has been recruiting and training operatives to use silencers to kill police and soldiers at checkpoints around Baghdad and Diyala.

Al Qaida-aligned Internet sites have also provided guidelines to procuring silencers and their use. The reason for silencers on pistols was for Al Qaida to kill quietly and then escape.
 
In one attack, two Al Qaida gunmen walked up to an Iraq Army barracks in the Saidia district of Baghdad. Two soldiers were shot dead in broad daylight and nobody noticed for hours.

Another Al Qaida cell in Diyala has been using only 9 mm pistols with silencers. Over the last year, the cell conducted 20 attacks on Iraqi police stations using pistols with silencers as well as daggers.

Some of the Al Qaida operatives, complaining of the large size of silencers, have designed their own equipment. Others have used U.S.-made silencers, available over the Internet or on the black market.
 
http://www.geostrategy-direct.com/geostrategy-direct/secure/2008/04_16/me.asp?

http://www.geostrategy-direct.com/geostrategy-direct/secure/2008/04_16/1.asp?

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From STRATFOR

INTEL Lebanon
Lebanon: Hezbollah Sets Up In West Bekaa
April 14, 2008 1445 GMT
Hezbollah has installed recently acquired weapons (likely Syrian-provided 305mm rockets) in Lebanon's West Bekaa valley, Stratfor sources said April 14. Hezbollah has completed defenses in the West Bekaa, the source said, with tunnels that link villages in the sector and numerous munitions depots that are more than enough for "sustained resistance." Hezbollah expects Israeli forces to overrun the West Bekaa, but Hezbollah will conduct guerrilla-type warfare against them, the source added.

Iran: Hezbollah Getting Training In Iran
April 14, 2008 1429 GMT
Since the end of the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, Hezbollah has sent more than 37,000 young men to Iran for training, a Stratfor source said April 14. Hezbollah members in Iran are trained by officers from the central training unit in Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the source added, and an Iranian general code named "Noureddine" is in charge of the training.

Lebanon, Israel: UN Erects Border Fence
April 10, 2008 1500 GMT
U.N. peacekeeping forces began erecting a barbed-wire fence along the Lebanon-Israel border April 10 to prevent violations of the so-called Blue Line, media reported. The fence will also reportedly help prevent drug trafficking in the area, a U.N. spokeswoman said.

Lebanon: Witness In Al-Hariri Killing Hiding In Europe
April 10, 2008 1046 GMT
Syrian national Mohammed Zuhair Siddiq, a key witness in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, has told Kuwait daily Al-Siyassah he is hiding in Europe because he fears for his life. The paper reported April 10 that Siddiq called its offices a day earlier to say he is well, but in hiding. He had been living in France under house arrest until he disappeared March 13.

Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon: Saudi Arrested In Connection With Mughniyah Assassination
April 9, 2008 1957 GMT
Syria has arrested a Saudi citizen in Damascus in connection with the Feb. 12 assassination of Hezbollah Leader Imad Mughniyah, Israeli sources told Stratfor April 9.

Lebanon, Saudi Arabia: Sinioria Meets King Abdullah To Discuss Lebanese Political Crisis
April 8, 2008 2247 GMT
Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora met with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal and Chief of General Intelligence Prince Miqren Bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh to discuss the current political situation in Lebanon, the Kuwait News Agency reported April 8.

Syria: Report On Assassination To Be Delayed
April 8, 2008 1707 GMT
Syria plans to delay the publication of its report on the assassination of Hezbollah leader Imad Mugniyah because of fears generated in Syria and Lebanon by Israel’s wide-scale Home Front Command drill, the London-based Arabic publication, Al-Quds al-Arabi, reported April 8. The report on the assassination was scheduled April 13. Syrian security personnel have managed to track down the owners of two vehicles involved in the assassination of the Hezbollah leader and have managed to identify them, according to Lebanese sources close to Hezbollah.

Lebanon: Some Fixed Phone Lines Still Working
April 8, 2008 1422 GMT
Stratfor has confirmed that at least some fixed phone lines in Lebanon are working April 8. Israel jammed Lebanon's telephone network starting the afternoon of April 7, according to an April 8 report in Naharnet citing the daily As Safir. The jamming was said to have targeted both cell phones and regular phone lines.

Lebanon: Israel Jams Phone Network
April 8, 2008 1356 GMT
Israel jammed Lebanon's telephone network after a nationwide defense drill that Israel launched April 6, Naharnet reported April 8, citing a report in the daily As Safir. As Safir quoted security sources as saying that the jamming operation targeted both land lines and cell phone lines and began the afternoon of April 7. The As Safir report gave no further details.

Syria: Report On Mughniyah Assassination Delayed
April 8, 2008 1117 GMT
Syria is delaying the publication of its report on the assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah as a result of fears generated in Syria and Lebanon over Israel’s military drill, London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi reported April 8. Senior Syrian officials suggest publication of the report could seriously damage Syria because it would expose the involvement of Arab intelligence officials, as well Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese personnel in the killing. Separately, Lebanese newspaper as-Safir has reported that the Israel exercise has caused massive disruption in the Lebanese cellular phone system.

Lebanon: Speaker Wants Meeting On Political Crisis
April 8, 2008 1011 GMT
Lebanese parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, currently in Damascus, Syria, said he plans to call a meeting of the country’s political leaders before April 22, when parliament is expected to make another attempt to elect a president, Press TV reported April 8. However, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, following talks with Arab League chief Amr Mussa in Egypt, said the time for internal dialogue is over and called for a meeting of Arab foreign ministers on the crisis.

Lebanon: Siniora Says He Hopes Solution Will Be Reached Before Suleiman Retires
April 7, 2008 1812 GMT
Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora announced after an April 6 meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that he hopes a solution to the Lebanese presidential crisis will be reached before consensus candidate and commander of the Lebanese army General Michel Suleiman retires, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported April 7. But Siniora also said Suleiman will remain a consensus candidate even if he retires.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon: Mubarak And Abdullah To Discuss Lebanese Crisis
April 7, 2008 1808 GMT
Egypt will host a summit April 9 for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, the two most prominent Arab leaders absent from the Arab summit in Damascus last month, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported April 7. Mubarak and Abdullah are scheduled to meet in Sharm El-Sheikh to discuss the Lebanese crisis, which is currently being discussed in meetings in Cairo by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

Israel: Preparations For Possible War Underway
April 7, 2008 1740 GMT
Israel is making preparations for possible war in the region, an Israeli source told Stratfor April 7. In the next few days, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will attempt to shoot down a target designed to mimic the Iranian Shabab 3 over the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, the Syrians have been told through Mossad back channels that if Hezbollah attacks a high-value Jewish target anywhere in the world in retaliation for Imad Mughniyah's death, the IDF will retaliate with massive force against Syria. Finally, quiet IDF testing and drills have been rehearsed practicing for situations in which there is a tremendous loss of Israeli lives, such as a loss of 50 percent of the country's doctors due to a nuclear strike.

Lebanon: Al-Mustaqbal Militia In Beirut Receives AK-47s
April 7, 2008 1452 GMT
A commander of al-Mustaqbal militia in Beirut received a shipment of 300 new Russian-made AK-47 automatic rifles, a Stratfor source in Lebanon reported April 7. The commander distributed 125 rifles to his militia and sold the other 175 for $200 each. The market price in Lebanon for a Russian-made AK-47 is $900. The local commander was interrogated by al-Mustaqbal officials, but he has not been dismissed from the ranks of the militia. The militia, with about 1,600 members in Beirut, is thought to be militarily inefficient.

Israel, Lebanon, Syria: Lebanese Civilians Prepare For Israeli Attack On Hezbollah
April 7, 2008 1437 GMT
Lebanon has started to move its civilian population away from the Israeli border, in preparation for a possible armed conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, Israel's Channel Two reported April 6. The Jerusalem Post also reported that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had told Syrian President Bashar Assad that Syria would be held responsible for any Hezbollah attacks on Israel.

Lebanon: Hezbollah Security Gets Help From Iran
April 7, 2008 1352 GMT
Hezbollah, with the help of Iranian foreign intelligence, is revamping its foreign security apparatus due to concerns that Syrian intelligence has penetrated its security systems, a Starfor source in Lebanon said April 7.

Syria: President Meets With Lebanese Parliament Speaker
April 7, 2008 1135 GMT
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is meeting with Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri to discuss the political deadlock that has left Lebanon without a president for more than four months, The Associated Press reported April 7, citing Syrian official news agency SANA.

Syria, Israel, Lebanon: Armed Forces On Alert
April 7, 2008 0853 GMT
Syria has placed its armed forces on a higher state of alert because it is aware that Hezbollah is planning an attack against Israel soon for the killing of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, Israeli television Channel 2 has reported, Israel National News said April 7. Al Arabiya reported that Lebanon’s military ordered residents of southern villages to leave the border with Israel. Meanwhile, sources in the Syrian capital reportedly said the investigation into Mughniyeh’s killing determined that foreigners were behind it. Former Syrian Vice President Khalim Khaddam told a Lebanese newspaper the head of Syrian intelligence was fired because his investigation revealed that those who planned the killing came from within Syria.

Israel, Lebanon: Hezbollah Leader Says Israel Preparing For War
April 6, 2008 1928 GMT
A Hezbollah leader said Israeli military exercises are preparations for a new war on Lebanon, The Associated Press reported April 6. Sheikh Naim Kassem also said Hezbollah is ready to defend Lebanon if Israel attacks. Israel began a five-day security drill April 6, practicing responses to war, emergency situations, large-scale terror attacks and natural catastrophes. Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said the exercise was to help Israel apply lessons from its actions against against Hezbollah guerrillas in 2006. But Vilnai denied the drill was related to frictions between Israel and Syria and Lebanon.

 

 

Intel SYRIA
Syria: Missile Storage Facilities Completed
April 14, 2008 1429 GMT
Storage facilities designed to house medium range missiles supplied to Syria by Iran have been completed and will be located in northern Syria in the Shanshar area near the city of Homs, according to a Stratfor source in Lebanon. The missiles, which can be fired from mobile launchers, include Shahab-3, and North Korean Scud-B and -C system. The Iranians have agreed to comply with Syrian insistence that the missile networks be run completely by Syrian teams although Iranian experts will reportedly train them on how to operate the missiles.

Syria: Officers Executed In Connection With Mughniyah Death
April 14, 2008 1414 GMT
Syrian authorities the week of April 6 secretly executed two intelligence officers in connection with the investigation of Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyah's February assassination in Damascus, a Stratfor source said April 14. Syrian military intelligence chief Asef Shawkat is under house arrest, the source said, and Syrian military personnel on March 29 rounded up and arrested a number of ranking army officers in their homes in Damascus' Mazza suburb. Syrian security personnel the week of April 6 fired on the vehicle of an army officer close to Asef Shawkat, the source added. The vehicle was on the road leading to the Zabadani mountain resort, about 7 miles from the border with Lebanon, and the officer was unharmed.

Syria: Iraq Regional Security Conference Begins
April 13, 2008 1655 GMT
A two-day security conference hosting delegations from Iraq, United States, Russia, the United Nations, the European Union and the six states bordering Iraq -- Iran, Kuwait, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia -- began April 13 in Damascus, Syria. Iran's delegation was headed by the chief of Persian Gulf affairs at the Iranian Foreign Ministry; the U.S. delegation comprised diplomatic representatives from Baghdad and Damascus; and Iraq's delegation included its border security commander. A foreign minister-level meeting is planned for later in the week in Kuwait.

Lebanon: Witness In Al-Hariri Killing Hiding In Europe
April 10, 2008 1046 GMT
Syrian national Mohammed Zuhair Siddiq, a key witness in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, has told Kuwait daily Al-Siyassah he is hiding in Europe because he fears for his life. The paper reported April 10 that Siddiq called its offices a day earlier to say he is well, but in hiding. He had been living in France under house arrest until he disappeared March 13.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria: Mubarak And Abdullah Say Ties With Syria Depend On Lebanon
April 10, 2008 0036 GMT
After talks between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and visiting King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Egyptian presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad said the two leaders agreed that their countries' relations with Syria are not at their best and that making progress in Lebanon is the key to an improvement in Arab relations, Reuters reported April 9.

Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon: Saudi Arrested In Connection With Mughniyah Assassination
April 9, 2008 1957 GMT
Syria has arrested a Saudi citizen in Damascus in connection with the Feb. 12 assassination of Hezbollah Leader Imad Mughniyah, Israeli sources told Stratfor April 9.

Syria: Natural Disaster Drill Planned
April 9, 2008 0858 GMT
As Israel staged a nationwide emergency-readiness drill, Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji al-Otari said April 9 that Syria will soon carry out a drill to test the country's ability to handle natural disasters, Israel News reported. The drill is to include all of Syria's provinces.

Syria: Saudi Officer Arrested
April 8, 2008 2110 GMT
A Saudi Arabian intelligence officer has been arrested for allegedly participating in the assassination of Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyah, who was killed in a car bomb explosion in Syria in February, FARS News Agency reported April 8.

Iraq, Kuwait: Foreign Ministers Of Iraq's Neighbors To Meet In Kuwait
April 8, 2008 1748 GMT
A conference of foreign ministers from the countries that neighbor Iraq will be held in Kuwait from April 22-23, Saudi-owned newspaper Al-Hayat reported April 8, citing "knowledgeable sources." The ministers will discuss ways to enhance political and security cooperation to achieve stability in Iraq. Participants in the conference are expected to include the foreign ministers and representatives of Iraq, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria and Iran; the five permanent members of the UN Security Council; the G-8; and the Islamic Conference Organization. The sources said the meeting will discuss suggestions made by security experts from the United States, the United Kingdom and Iran, who will meet in Damascus, Syria, on April 13.

Syria: Report On Assassination To Be Delayed
April 8, 2008 1707 GMT
Syria plans to delay the publication of its report on the assassination of Hezbollah leader Imad Mugniyah because of fears generated in Syria and Lebanon by Israel’s wide-scale Home Front Command drill, the London-based Arabic publication, Al-Quds al-Arabi, reported April 8. The report on the assassination was scheduled April 13. Syrian security personnel have managed to track down the owners of two vehicles involved in the assassination of the Hezbollah leader and have managed to identify them, according to Lebanese sources close to Hezbollah.

Syria: Report On Mughniyah Assassination Delayed
April 8, 2008 1117 GMT
Syria is delaying the publication of its report on the assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah as a result of fears generated in Syria and Lebanon over Israel’s military drill, London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi reported April 8. Senior Syrian officials suggest publication of the report could seriously damage Syria because it would expose the involvement of Arab intelligence officials, as well Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese personnel in the killing. Separately, Lebanese newspaper as-Safir has reported that the Israel exercise has caused massive disruption in the Lebanese cellular phone system.

Lebanon: Speaker Wants Meeting On Political Crisis
April 8, 2008 1011 GMT
Lebanese parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, currently in Damascus, Syria, said he plans to call a meeting of the country’s political leaders before April 22, when parliament is expected to make another attempt to elect a president, Press TV reported April 8. However, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, following talks with Arab League chief Amr Mussa in Egypt, said the time for internal dialogue is over and called for a meeting of Arab foreign ministers on the crisis.

Israel: Minister To Visit Qatar For Talks With Syrians
April 8, 2008 0935 GMT
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will visit Qatar the week of April 14, where she is expected meet senior Syrian envoys to "complete the covert negotiations between Israel and Syria," Kuwaiti daily Al Jarida reported April 8, citing sources in Jerusalem. The report said talks between the two countries have been taking place over the past two years.

Israel: Preparations For Possible War Underway
April 7, 2008 1740 GMT
Israel is making preparations for possible war in the region, an Israeli source told Stratfor April 7. In the next few days, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will attempt to shoot down a target designed to mimic the Iranian Shabab 3 over the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, the Syrians have been told through Mossad back channels that if Hezbollah attacks a high-value Jewish target anywhere in the world in retaliation for Imad Mughniyah's death, the IDF will retaliate with massive force against Syria. Finally, quiet IDF testing and drills have been rehearsed practicing for situations in which there is a tremendous loss of Israeli lives, such as a loss of 50 percent of the country's doctors due to a nuclear strike.

Israel, Lebanon, Syria: Lebanese Civilians Prepare For Israeli Attack On Hezbollah
April 7, 2008 1437 GMT
Lebanon has started to move its civilian population away from the Israeli border, in preparation for a possible armed conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, Israel's Channel Two reported April 6. The Jerusalem Post also reported that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had told Syrian President Bashar Assad that Syria would be held responsible for any Hezbollah attacks on Israel.

Israel: Iran Could Be 'Destroyed' If Involved In Attack Against Israel
April 7, 2008 1424 GMT
Israeli National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said April 7 that Israel would "destroy" Iran if it attacked Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported. Ben-Eliezer, speaking during Israel's "Turning Point 2" emergency drills, added that, although Iran is aware of Irsael's strength, Tehran continues its alliance with Hezbollah and Syria, supplying them weapons. He said Israel would have to respond to this.

Lebanon: Hezbollah Security Gets Help From Iran
April 7, 2008 1352 GMT
Hezbollah, with the help of Iranian foreign intelligence, is revamping its foreign security apparatus due to concerns that Syrian intelligence has penetrated its security systems, a Starfor source in Lebanon said April 7.

Syria: President Meets With Lebanese Parliament Speaker
April 7, 2008 1135 GMT
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is meeting with Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri to discuss the political deadlock that has left Lebanon without a president for more than four months, The Associated Press reported April 7, citing Syrian official news agency SANA.

Israel, U.S., Syria: Coordination On Details Of Airstrike?
April 7, 2008 0927 GMT
Israel and the United States are working together to coordinate the release of details on the September 2007 airstrike in Syria, which foreign reports allege targeted a nuclear facility Syria was constructing with help from the North Koreans, Haaretz reported April 7. Details of the attack are likely to be revealed by senior Bush administration officials during hearings before Congress. Advisers to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert discussed the issue in Washington in recent days with senior U.S. intelligence officials and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, the report said.

Syria, Israel, Lebanon: Armed Forces On Alert
April 7, 2008 0853 GMT
Syria has placed its armed forces on a higher state of alert because it is aware that Hezbollah is planning an attack against Israel soon for the killing of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, Israeli television Channel 2 has reported, Israel National News said April 7. Al Arabiya reported that Lebanon’s military ordered residents of southern villages to leave the border with Israel. Meanwhile, sources in the Syrian capital reportedly said the investigation into Mughniyeh’s killing determined that foreigners were behind it. Former Syrian Vice President Khalim Khaddam told a Lebanese newspaper the head of Syrian intelligence was fired because his investigation revealed that those who planned the killing came from within Syria.

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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Also in this report:

Geostrategy Direct. The Reports Expresses the views of Geostrategy Direct

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http://www.geostrategy-direct.com/geostrategy-direct/

DEBKAfile. The Reports Expresses the views of DEBKAfile

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Last Updated ( Monday, 14 April 2008 )
 
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