Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Shocker! Hezbollah is Rearming! - Aug 29

From stratfor comes along a scenario just as I said it would happen, namely that Hezbollah is using the premature cease-fire with Israel to rearm, reload and refresh. Not to worry, I'm sure the UN will take care of it - NOT! Yep, we've deferred a smaller war now for a much bigger one down the road. I guarantee it.

Lebanon: Hezbollah Rearms
Aug 29, 2006


New indications suggest Hezbollah is receiving shipments of small arms and anti-tank munitions from Syria.


Sources in Lebanon indicate Syrian arms shipments are passing into Lebanon. Mules, rather than vehicles, are moving small arms, ammunition and some anti-tank munitions over the Anti-Lebanon Mountains along the Lebanese-Syrian border, across the Bekaa Valley and up into the western mountains, particularly through the Greek Orthodox mountain village of Bteggrine. From here, with the assistance of the Syrian Social Nationalist party, the shipments can reach Hezbollah in the southern suburbs of Beirut, where they can be dispersed south.

Hezbollah does not, however, appear to be moving these arms south of the Litani River, where the bulk of fighting took place during the recent conflict with Israel. Many more arms are probably being stockpiled inside the Bekaa, Hezbollah's main stronghold.

Significantly, no signs indicate shipments of artillery rockets are occurring. The larger Fajr series, which Hezbollah has called the Khaiber-1 and were used to strike Haifa, are difficult to transport without motor vehicles in meaningful numbers. This signals Israel is effectively interdicting large shipments of weapons into Lebanon. Israel is watching supply lines from Syria very closely, and Lebanese citizens have become accustomed to the drone of Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles conducting surveillance.

While these small arms would certainly be useful in a guerrilla war inside of Lebanon, Hezbollah has other options. Some Hezbollah elements are particularly concerned about a renewed Israeli offensive, especially after the virtually inevitable fall of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. But Hezbollah is in a remarkably good position as reconstruction money pours in and the militant group basically rebuilds all of southern Lebanon, thus becoming the de facto landlord with a new source of substantial income: rent. To this end, Hezbollah is going out of its way both to avoid provoking Israel and to rebuild its domestic support structure, while at the same time preparing for the next confrontation.

Meanwhile, Syria has kept its border with Lebanon wide open, and has virulently refused to allow U.N. peacekeeping troops to deploy along the Lebanese-Syrian border. In addition to allowing Hezbollah to maintain supply routes past Lebanese soldiers patrolling the border, Syria has preserved its main pressure tactic against Lebanon. Whenever Lebanese politics show signs of diverging from Syrian interests, Syrian customs officers severely restrict the flow of goods over the Lebanese-Syrian border as a stern reminder to its neighbor that as the country's chief fuel supplier Syria controls Lebanon's power switch.

The Lebanese army has, however, deployed its Eighth Brigade along its border with Syria. The Eighth Brigade is entirely Christian and fought against Syria in 1989, making for a strong historical animosity. The Lebanese army could not send a stronger message opposing the rearming of Hezbollah. Thus, we will be watching to see whether the Eighth Brigade can effectively interdict these pack animal shipments or whether they continue to slip through.

Copyright 2006 Strategic Forecasting Inc. All rights reserved.

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