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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Apr 12th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Millions in Criminal Proceeds + Iran's Oil Millions = Hearts, Minds, Votes for Hezbollah
Millions in Criminal Proceeds + Iran's Oil Millions = Hearts, Minds, Votes for Hezbollah PDF Print E-mail
Written by Counterterrorism Blog, Andy Cochran, David Schenker   
Thursday, 22 May 2008

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Lebanon's Crisis Deferred

 

Millions in Criminal Proceeds + Iran's Oil Millions = Hearts, Minds, Votes for Hezbollah

By Andrew Cochran

Our future national counterinsurgency or asymmetric threat strategy must take into consideration the success which Hamas, Hezbollah, and other segments of the jihadist community have had in building and operating a social services network which influences the local populace. Matthew Levitt has written extensively on that success; see his post here on November 21, 2007, "Zakat-Jihad Activism," in which he discusses an excellent "Military Review" article, "S.W.E.T. and Blood: Essential Services in the Battle Between Insurgents and Counterinsurgents." Matt noted, "(t)his tactic (sometimes also described as dawa activities) not only produces significant grassroots support, it also creates an ideal means to launder and transfer funds as well as a means of providing activists day jobs and a veneer of legitimacy. It many cases, it also serves as a logistical support network for less altruistic activities."

Hezbollah already has such a network in Lebanon, as Matt pointed out in a Washington Institute article. Nothing the U.S. has done has prevented Hezbollah from providing such services outside of Lebanese government channels. For instance, despite the Treasury Department's designation in 2007 of Jihad al-Bina, Hezbollah's construction company in Lebanon, that company is operating with little hindrance; David Schenker tells me that the company's subsidiary is rebuilding much of Dahyia. Hezbollah's diplomatic victory this week will enable further development of that network.

Hezbollah has two sources for hundreds of millions of dollars. First, it has a long history of using criminal activities around the world, including inside the U.S., to raise funds, as Matt wrote on November 8, 2007 and as Dennis Lormel wrote on July 16, 2006. I was told this week by two experts that recent estimates of the funds raised through such activity run from $100 to 300 million. Second, of course, it is the ward of the Iranian regime; Walid Phares recently put that support level at upwards of $1 billion, thanks to the extraordinary price of oil. And we should have no doubt that Hezbollah will use a considerable portion of those funds to buy popular support inside Lebanon. No other group there has that type of financial muscle, and in my opinion, it will enable Hezbollah to maintain and expand its power through the 2009 parliamentary elections and beyond.

 

Lebanon's Crisis Deferred

By David Schenker

Yesterday in Qatar, the pro-West Lebanese Government and Syrian and Iranian-backed Hizballah reached an agreement to deescalate the crisis. The Doha Agreement has largely been seen as a victory for Hizballah; the militia cum political party will be brought into the Government and provided a cabinet veto. Meanwhile, a discussion of the disposition of Hizballah’s weapons—a core issue for March 14th—will be deferred.

Despite these March 14th concessions, in reality, the deal will do little to change the status quo on the ground. Hizballah, as events of early May made painfully clear, already possesses the ability to veto government initiatives by force.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa has described the Doha Agreement as a historic “reconciliation.” Given the ongoing outstanding issues, however, it appears that the agreement will be more of a hudna—a temporary truce—until the next round of fighting.

An article I wrote analyzing the Doha Agreement for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy can be found here.

 

Hezbollah Wins in Lebanon - Is This the "Grand Bargain" in Action?

By Andrew Cochran

Today is a day which we should mark on the calendar and remember for a long time. For on this day, it became abundantly clear that the Iranian-Syrian axis now controls Lebanon through Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda and the Taliban now control the Northwest provinces in Pakistan (see ABC News and the AP story). Both groups of terrorists won through sustained asymmetric (and, in Lebanon, conventional) warfare which eventually collapsed the will of the opposition, which was not supported in any material way by the United States and other nations. I want to concentrate on the events in Lebanon in this post.

Just eight days ago, in an emergency briefing that I helped to arrange on Capitol Hill for Congressional staff, Walid Phares accurately diagnosed the long-term Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah strategy and forecast the outcome unless forces supporting the Cedars Revolution, specifically the U.S. and the U.N., would quickly mobilize. That didn't happen; I suspect, based on past experience, that the Administration couldn't come to a quick determination on the course of action, with the State Department probably at odds with other elements and the White House unable to build a coherent and forceful counterstrategy in time. As Walid posted below, Hezbollah not only built and runs a private strategic telecom network inside Lebanon, but now, thanks to the "victory treaty," it is capable of moving large numbers of men and material right into southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah's sizable conventional and asymmetric forces are a giant dagger aimed straight at Israel. What's the response? For some time, powerful officials in Washington and elsewhere have whispered about a "Grand Bargain" with Syria, to be concluded with the assistance of other Arab states. Rep. Gary Ackerman, chairman of the U.S. House Middle East subcommittee, concisely described the outlines of that proposal at a Congressional hearing on April 24:

"Many analysts believe that the relationship between Iran and Syria is a purely tactical and transactional one. Implicit in this belief is the idea that if only the United States would make Syria an offer of sufficient size and sweetness, the axis from Tehran to Damascus could be shattered and the Middle East transformed. Syria, in this view, might even join our team.

 

In exchange for the return of the Golan Heights, and the restoration of its overlordship of Lebanon, Syria would renege on its relationship with Hezbollah, give Hamas the boot, and slam the door shut on Iran. The mullahs would be cut-off from their Lebanese and Palestinian terrorist proxies and isolated completely in the region. The flow of jihadis from Syria would dry up-perhaps in return for a restoration of Saddam’s old largess with Iraq’s oil-and the situation in Iraq would settle down, further isolating Iran from the Arab hinterland. Faced with a united Middle East, the ayatollahs would set their dreams of hegemony and Islamic revolution aside, and give up their nuclear program in exchange for international security guarantees."

Notice the catch: "The restoration of its (Syria's) overlordship of Lebanon." That has now occurred through its proxies in Lebanon.

 

But be careful what you wish for - note Rep. Ackerman's assessment of the "Grand Bargain" that day in his statement:

"I’m not convinced. It sounds lovely, and it has a sort of logic to it. But it’s a fantasy. The relationship between Iran and Syria is longstanding, durable, and is based on a bedrock of shared interests. This relationship is meant to fulfill each party’s deepest strategic aspirations and regional ambitions. Neither state wishes to live as a second class citizen in a Middle East ordered, organized and run by Washington, Cairo, and Riyadh. They have bigger dreams."
So is today's news of talks between Israel and Syria, brokered by the U.S. and Turkey, the result of Israel's realization that it cannot count on the U.S. and U.N. to defend its northern border from a Hezbollah-led invasion or sustained guerilla warfare? Will it offer to return the Golan Heights in the hopes that it can forestall the inevitable Hezbollah invasion with guarantees for defensive measures by the U.S. and U.N.? (EDIT: Here is a McClatchy analysis supportive of the Grand Bargain. Note that it holds no hope for a Lebanon free of Hezbollah domination.)

 

I agree with Rep. Ackerman, and I hope we don't see some American official waving a piece of paper and declaring "We have peace in our time" over this. Because right now, the good Lebanese have lost their freedom, and the new peace in Beirut is just an illusion. There's nothing grand and no bargain in that.

(EDIT: Contributing Expert David Schenker takes a different view: "But given the potential outcome of the 2009 parliamentary elections, the Shiite group's victory may be short lived.")

 

Hezbollah's Communication Network Confirms Its Terror Goals

By Walid Phares

An intelligence map released by a French web site, referencing Lebanese sources, shows the extensive communications network established by Hezbollah throughout Lebanon. These closed telephone circuits are operationally independent of government networks. The Lebanese Ministry of Telecommunications has no link to these closed cable-based networks. These systems were at the heart of the latest confrontation between the Seniora cabinet and Hezbollah commander Hassan Nasrallah. The latter accused the government of attempting to seize these networks or supervising them, and the Lebanese government naturally stating that all telephonic networks in Lebanon, as in any country, must be under the auspices of the legal government. Hezbollah rejected this "normal" status and responded that since it perceives itself as a "resistance" therefore it can and should have its own "closed communications system." In other words, a state within the state.

The Lebanese government, operating under Lebanon's constitution, and under the auspices of UNSCR 1701 and 1559 declared - but didn't even act upon its declaration - that these telecommunication systems were not under government authority and thus must be integrated. This was a basic state of fact. But as soon as these ministerial decisions were publicized Hezbollah waged a blitz campaign on the Lebanese government. Even though the latter wasn't even ready to dismantle these networks nor did it have the necessary means to confront Hezbollah militarily, Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah held a press conference, declared war against the government, and gave the signal to the coup.

Why would Hezbollah wage such a risky war for a telecommunication system? Is it because of the income generated by these networks, used also to sell international phone calls? Less likely. The Iranian foreign aid to the terror group was upgraded from 300 million dollars to less than a billion dollars few months ago. Obviously more revenue isn't bad for the leaders of the so-called "resistance" but more important is the big picture revealed by the Hezbollah-phone map. Look at the web of cable (in red) on the map in this World Defense Review article and let's analyze this.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 30 May 2008 )
 
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Gebran Tueni
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Sheikh Pierre Gemayel
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George Hawi
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