Home » Posts tagged 'Lebanon'
Tag Archives: Lebanon
In reply to journalists’ questions on a Saudi decision which says that Saudis who join fighting outside the kingdom would incur punishment, al-Zoubi described it as “unrealistic and not possible to implement,” since terrorists coming from Saudi Arabia are sneaking into Syria from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey via illegal crossings.
”There are terrorists from 83 countries who are armed and funded by Saudi Arabia…The Saudi decision says nothing about stopping funding, arming and training terrorists, be them Saudis or of other nationalities,” the minister said.
He added that the decision does not imply punishment for media incitement and psychological support to terrorists happening inside Saudi Arabia.
”Certain Gulf states are acting like Saudi Arabia…the religious and sectarian channels are receiving sustained support and funding from figures and institutions that are supposedly meant for charity, not bloodshed.”
”If the Saudi decision is intended to embellish the image of the Kingdom, then it is not useful and is not an expression of an international commitment to fight terrorism,” the minister pointed out.
With Islamic extremists raising their ominous-looking flags over Falluja and Ramadi again, it’s not looking too good in Iraq (or the rest of the Middle East). Sure, Mark Firoe notes, Iraqi government forces may take back some territory they lost, but it’s never a good sign when you have to shell your own country to maintain order. Confused at the proxy-wars, terrorists, statists, and just who the US is friends with? Have no fear, the following brief clip will explain it all…
|Saudi Arabia has pledged $3bn in aid to the Lebanese armed forces, a gift that comes in a time when tensions run high, both inside Lebanon and across the region.Lebanese President Michel Sleiman announced the donation on Sunday describing it as the largest grant ever given to the country’s armed forces. It is almost double the amount of Lebanon’s entire defence budget for last year.
“This aid aims to support Lebanon in all its religions and support the Lebanese army that is known for supporting national unity. We will provide it with all the needed conditions to achieve the great national cause that it was set up for,” he said.
Sleiman made the announcement after the funeral of senior Lebanese politician Mohamed Shatah who was killed in a car bomb on Friday.
Shatah was critical of Lebanon’s Shia movement Hezbollah and Syria’s president, which Hezbollah supports. But there has been no claim of responsibility for his killing.
Lebanon’s army has struggled to deal with violence spilling over from Syria’s civil war and is seen as weak in dealing with armed internal groups, especially Hezbollah.
In the last three years, Saudi Arabia has been pushing to be the Middle East’s most powerful player.
In Egypt, the Saudis backed the military coup that overthrew President Mohamed Morsi; within two hours of the coup, they pledged $5bn in aid.
They have also positioned themselves as crucial players in Syria, funding the rebels against President Bashar al-Assad and providing them with weapons.
And in Yemen, Saudi Arabia carefully brokered the power transition in 2011 following the uprising there. That allowed its long-time ally, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to leave office with immunity from prosecution.
So, is the donation to Lebanon a recipe for further turmoil or will it allow for greater security? And what does it mean for Saudi Arabia’s role in the region?
Inside Story explores the reasons behind this donation and the potential ramifications. Presenter Laura Kyle discusses with Hisham Jaber, a retired Lebanese army general and head of the Middle East Centre for Studies and Research; Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor of political science at Tehran University; and Mustafa Alani, a military analyst and senior adviser at the Gulf Research Centre.
Day After Saudi Arabia Gives Record $3 Billion To Lebanese Army, Lebanese Troops Fire At Syrian Warplanes | Zero Hedge
That didn’t take long.
It was only yesterday that Saudi Arabia pledged a record $3 billion to prop up Lebanon’s armed forces, in what the WSJ described as “a challenge to the Iranian-allied Hezbollah militia’s decades-long status as Lebanon’s main power broker and security force.” Lebanese President Michel Sleiman revealed the Saudi gift on Lebanese national television Sunday, calling it the largest aid package ever to the country’s defense bodies. The Saudi pledge compares with Lebanon’s 2012 defense budget, which the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute put at $1.7 billion.
The Saudi move was announced hours after thousands of Lebanese turned out for the funerals of former cabinet minister Mohamad Chatah and some of the other victims killed Friday in a bombing in downtown Beirut. The bomb was believed to have targeted Mr. Chatah, an outspoken critic of Hezbollah’s dominance of Lebanese affairs and security. No group has claimed responsibility. Saudi Arabia on Friday responded to the assassination by calling for Lebanon to build up the government and armed forces “to stop this tampering with the security of Lebanon and the Lebanese.”
Surprisingly, the biggest winner here may be none other than France: “Lebanon would use the Saudi grant to buy “newer and more modern weapons,” from France, said Mr. Sleiman, an independent who has become increasingly critical of Hezbollah. It followed what he called “decades of unsuccessful efforts” to build a credible Lebanese national defense force.”
However, back to the Lebanese quid pro quo: less than 24 hours after the announcement, what does Lebanon go ahead and do? Why it fired at Syrian warplanes (recall Syria is the archnemesis of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar) of course, the first time it has done so since the start of the Syrian conflict. From BBC:
Lebanese troops have fired at Syrian warplanes violating its airspace, for what is thought to be the first time since the conflict in Syria began.
Lebanon’s National News Agency said the army had responded to a raid on Khirbet Daoud, near Arsal in the Bekaa Valley.
Syrian government forces have fired into Lebanon in the past, targeting rebels sheltering over the border.
The Lebanese authorities had until now not responded militarily, hoping they would not be dragged into the war.
Arsal is predominantly Sunni and its residents have been broadly supportive of the Sunni-dominated uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shia Islam.
The north-eastern town has been flooded with refugees since the Syrian military launched an offensive in the Qalamoun mountains last month.
Some 20,000 people have settled in makeshift camps, as Syrian troops backed by members of the militant Lebanese Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah have sought to cut rebel cross-border supply routes.
And that is how Syria buys proxy war access on yet another front in an indication that its hopes that sooner or later the Syrian conflict will re-escalate enough to allow the “developed west” to stage another chemical attack and finally have the US topple Assad, are still alive. The only question is whether this time Putin, instead of simply diffusing the Syrian confrontation once again, will have an incendiary present or two for the Saudi princes, in part as gratitude for the string of recent Saudi-inspired terrorist attacks in Volgograd.
Lebanese President Sleiman announced the grant on Sunday in a televised address [AP]
|Saudi Arabia has pledged $3bn for the Lebanese army, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman announced, calling it the largest grant ever given to the country’s armed forces.The pledge comes just as Lebanon held a funeral for Mohamad Chatah, the former finance minister, amid rising tensions over who might have killed him.
“The king of the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is offering this generous and appreciated aid of $3bn to the Lebanese army to strengthen its capabilities,” Suleiman said in a televised address on Sunday.
He said the funds would allow Lebanon’s military to purchase French weapons.
French President Francois Hollande, currently on a visit to Saudi Arabia where he met King Abdullah, said France would supply weapons to the Lebanese army if it was asked to do so.
He told a news conference in Riyadh: “France has equipped the Lebanese army for a while up until recently and we will readily answer any solicitation … If demands are made to us we will satisfy them.”
Lebanon’s armed forces have been struggling to deal with violence spreading over the border from Syria’s civil war.
The country, which is still rebuilding after its own 15-year civil war, has seen clashes between gunmen loyal to opposing sides of the Syrian conflict, as well as attacks on the army itself.
Lebanon’s army is seen as one of the few institutions not overtaken by sectarian divisions that plague the country, but it is ill-equipped to deal with internal threats.
The Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia may be seeking to bolster the army as a counterbalance to Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah, a Shia armed group and political party backed by regional Shia power Iran.
Rising regional Sunni-Shia tensions have been stoked by the war in neighbouring Syria, where rebel forces, made up mainly by the country’s Sunni Muslim majority, are fighting against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, who hails from the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam.
A car bomb shook downtown Beirut today, killing former Finance Minister Mohamad Chatah and five other people, underscoring how the fallout from Syria’s civil war is deepening divisions in neighboring Lebanon.
Fifty others were injured when the bomb, rigged with about 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of explosives packed inside a stolen Honda, detonated around 9:45 a.m. local time, the state-run National News Agency reported. Chatah, 62, a member of the Western-backed March 14 coalition, was traveling to meet other people in the group when the attack occurred.
The strike was the first to target a member of the March 14 organization since a wave of explosions began shaking Lebanon in July. Most of the assaults have targeted Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group, a member of the rival March 8 alliance that has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“This comes in the context of the Sunni-Shiite conflict triggered by the war in Syria,” Sami Nader, a professor of international relations at Beirut’s St. Joseph University, said in a telephone interview. This blast was a “direct message to the moderate Sunnis in Lebanon and their Saudi supporters,” he said.
News of the death of Chatah, an adviser to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, was posted on March 14’s official website.
Security officials and forensic experts inspected the scene of the blast in an area of Beirut that houses the Parliament building, government headquarters and Hariri’s house, where the March 14 coalition was set to meet. Hariri has been living abroad for security reasons.
The attack occurred amid deep divisions in Lebanon over the war in Syria, pitting mostly Sunni rebels against Assad, who is an Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. March 14, a coalition of several parties including the mostly Sunni Muslim Future Movement, supports the opposition while the March 8 alliance, which includes Iran-backed Hezbollah, supports Assad.
In his last statement on Twitter, posted shortly before today’s blast, Chatah, a Sunni Muslim, wrote that Hezbollah “is pressing hard to be granted similar powers in security & foreign policy” that Syria exercised in Lebanon for 15 years.
Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, with a stronghold in southern Lebanon, receives support from Iran. The group has sent fighters to support Assad’s army in Syria.
“This ugly crime comes in the framework of the crimes and bombings that aim at destroying the country,” Hezbollah said in an e-mailed statement. The group “strongly condemns the crime” that led to Chatah’s death, it said.
Iran, whose Beirut embassy was targeted by twin blasts last month, alleged today’s attack carried “fingerprints of the Zionist enemy,” the Islamic Republic’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ghzanfar Asl Roknabadi, told Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV today in an interview.
Violence has surged in Lebanon in the six months since Hezbollah acknowledged joining Assad’s side in the Syrian civil war. Attackers have targeted Hezbollah strongholds in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley while twin explosions also ripped through Sunni Muslim mosques in the northern city of Tripoli.
Chatah’s assassination came two weeks before the U.N.- backed Special Tribunal for Lebanonbegins the trial of four Hezbollah suspects over the 2005 killing of Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
“This is a message of terror to Lebanon,” Hariri said in a statement on Future TV, adding that those responsible for assassinating Chatah were the same who killed his father.
Chatah spent years learning and working in the U.S., according to his resume. In 1983 he received a doctorate in economics from the University of Texas. From 1997 to 1999 he was Lebanon’s ambassador to Washington. A former adviser to the International Monetary Fund, Chatah was married and had two children.
An al-Qaeda linked group claimed responsibility for the November 19 attack [EPA]
|The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah has accused Saudi Arabia of being behind last month’s two suicide bombings that targeted the Iranian Embassy in Beirut.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah’s comments on Tuesday mark the first time Hezbollah has openly accused the kingdom, and marks a sharp escalation in the Shia Muslim group’s rhetoric.
An al-Qaeda linked group has claimed responsibility for the November 19 attack that killed 23 people, saying it was in response to Hezbollah and Iran’s involvement in Syria.
Nasrallah said the claim was credible but accused Saudi intelligence of providing backing and support.
He also said Saudi intelligence was behind daily attacks in Iraq.
Nasrallah spoke in an interview Tuesday with Lebanon’s private OTV network.
Elsewhere in Lebanon, clashes resumed on Tuesday between Lebanese armed groups who back opposing sides of Syria’s war and 21 fighters were arrested by the army as it pursued a six-month-long mandate to end bloodshed battering the city of Tripoli.
The conflict between the majority Sunni Muslim Bab al-Tabbaneh district and the adjacent Alawite neighbourhood of Jebel Mohsen in Tripoli has killed more than 100 people this year.
But residents, fighters and a local politician told Reuters on Tuesday it was unlikely to end soon despite army efforts.
Over the weekend, the relatives of the car bomb victims protested in a Tripoli square, demanding that leading Alawite political leaders be arrested and calling for Jebel Mohsen’s electricity and water supplies to be cut off.
The latest clashes started after repeated attacks on Alawite targets over the past week in which several people were wounded.
Ten people were killed over the weekend.
The army provided no details on the 21 men seized by soldiers.
14 Dead In Blast Near Pro-Syria Hezbollah HQ In Beirut, Syrian Rebels Take Responsibility | Zero Hedge
- Twenty dead as car bomb blasts Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut (abc.net.au)
- Death toll from car bombing in Hezbollah’s Beirut stronghold at least 14 – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)
- Car Bomb Targeting Hezbollah in Lebanon Kills 20 (worldnewscurator.com)
- Iraq, Lebanon alarmed at spreading Syria war (scooprocket.com)
- Hatred between Sunnis, Shiites abounds in Mideast (stripes.com)
- Violence spreads in Lebanon as Lebanese troops die (updatednews.ca)
- UN peacekeepers hurt in Syria Golan clashes – Middle East – Al Jazeera English (ramyabdeljabbar.wordpress.com)
- Lebanon sectarian unrest toll rises – Middle East – Al Jazeera English (ramyabdeljabbar.wordpress.com)
- Lebanese soldiers killed at checkpoint – Middle East – Al Jazeera English (ramyabdeljabbar.wordpress.com)
- Syrian helicopter hits Lebanon town (ghanaiansentinel.com)
- Syrian rebels kill 60 Shiites near Iraqi border (timesofisrael.com)
- Syria doomed if Geneva-2 fails: Russia’s Bogdanov (dailystar.com.lb)
- Syria raid on Lebanese pro-revolt area: security official (mainbaghihoon.wordpress.com)