Ambassador Hale put out a strident press release today that said:
“To those who say American assistance to the Army is not sophisticated enough, my answer is: go ask a soldier in Arsal, or at Rayak, or at the HQ in Yarze, or at the countless other places where the Army works to keep all Lebanese safe and secure. The answer you will get from that soldier is that he needs exactly what we are providing today and in the weeks to come.”
– He may remember the losses the LAF and the Palestinians of Nahr al-Bared suffered because of the antiquated weapons that the LAF was given…. how the LAF dropped bombs BY HAND WWI style…. and how the “redline” meant helos that were delivered had their rockets stripped before delivery!
– No Mr. Ambassador – with the US WEAPONS THAT IS was able to get, you cannot make a credible argument that the announcement today changes much of anything.
– Why make this argument when you and your staff KNOW that it just does not pass the smell test with most Lebanese including our allies! It is just bad PR and public diplomacy.
The Islamic State effect: Lebanon’s new security symbiosis
By Nicholas Noe – 28 Aug 14
The full report from the European Council on Foreign Relations can be found here:
– Several months before the Islamic State (IS) surge in Mosul, a preponderant majority of Lebanon’s political elite, backed by a rare regional and international consensus, recognized the common threat that IS and its fellow travelers represent and, as a result, coordinated an effective security response built, first, on a new power-sharing agreement and, second, on a recognition that violent Sunni extremist groups are best fought by Sunnis themselves, especially within Lebanon’s borders.
– Had this arrangement not taken hold in March 2014, it is likely that an IS surge in Lebanon post-Mosul via the Bekka township of Arsal and/or the Northern city of Tripoli would have significantly fractured the Lebanese state and led to a level of sustained fighting not seen since the end of the Lebanese Civil War in 1990.
– An unprecedented level of US and European intelligence sharing with all Lebanese security agencies including those perceived as close to the militant Shiite movement Hezbollah played and is still playing a significant, positive role in shoring up Lebanons security architecture.
– At the same time, these gains are crucially dependent on the continued success of Hezbollahs military actions along the border and in Syria against violent Sunni extremists much as Hezbollah is now finding itself dependent on the gains of Lebanons security agencies, even those formerly at odds with it.
– The new security symbiosis that has emerged is fragile, with longstanding domestic, regional and international conflicts barely concealed for the moment. A more powerful surge by IS or renewed enmity by any combination of larger geopolitical actors like Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US could overwhelm the local arrangement.
– Building further on what is working now could, if not properly balanced, aid and protect Hezbollah to such an extent that its authoritarian, chauvinistic and violent aspects – at home and abroad – are encouraged and accelerated.
– The most effective way to blunt this outcome and further buffer Lebanon from IS is to provide the quantity and quality of weapons and training that the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) has long requested but which, still to this day, have been denied largely as a result of misplaced and counter-productive concerns regarding any change in the Qualitative Military Edge between Israel and Lebanon. More Hellfire missiles for the LAFs hopelessly outdated (and now outgunned) Cessnas will simply not do.
– Either way, Hezbollah is now playing a starring role in the emerging regional containment strategy for IS, despite its terrorist labeling by some actors.
– As this is happening, attitudes in Beirut are changing on all sides and in an unprecedented fashion: Key Hezbollah officials now say, privately, that the US is a factor for stability in Lebanon while key Future movement leaders also now acknowledge, in private, that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will likely have to stay if a durable regional response to IS and JAH is to be put in place. Both parties are only now, however, beginning the difficult process of preparing their respective constituencies for what would be quite dramatic and politically difficult about-faces.
Excerpt From Full Report [2500 words]– When Sunni Islamist fighters launched a series of deadly attacks in August in the Bekaa Valley border town of Arsal against the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF), the immediate repercussions for Lebanon and the wider region could have been particularly damaging. If the militant surge had been successful, those who carried out the attack, including members of the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN), and other similarly minded groups could have established an open beachhead for expanded violent operations within Lebanon. At the same time, the perception of ISs ascendency and potency in the region would have been bolstered, further fuelling the groups momentum and complicating efforts to contain it…
Nicholas Noe is a visiting fellow with ECFR. He is the co-founder of the Beirut-based Mideastwire.com and the editor of Voice of Hezbollah: The Statements of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
This probably was reported earlier… but first I see of it.
“…Banks are also frequent targets for intelligence agencies looking to collect information about their targets. In 2012, Russian security researchers uncovered a computer virus on 2,500 computers, many of them inside major Lebanese banks, including the Bank of Beirut, Blom Bank, Byblos Bank and Credit Libanais. The virus was specifically intended to steal customers’ login credentials to their bank accounts.
The researchers believed the computer virus was state-sponsored and said they had found evidence it had been created by the same programmers who created Flame and Stuxnet, two computer viruses that officials have said were unleashed by the United States and Israel to spy on computers inside Iran.”
Suddenly (perhaps I missed it) the new US coordinator for the White House on the Mideast is… a European specialist?
Welcome to Philip Gordon.. One wonders what Rob Malley’s role is via the NSA … still too controversial?
In April of 2011, one syrian activist speculated that maybe “one million syrias would have to die for fredom.” I have never forgotten this….Some of us argued as early as then that the idea of militerizing the conflict was a stupid AND immoral idea that would kill and wound so many.
Now – after everything – the pieces are starting to come together for a deal with the devil – with bashar – as I argued in May 2011 and again in January 2012.
Translated to day in MIDEASTWIRE.COM
from Qatar’s al-quds al-arabi.
On August 26, the Qatari-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi daily carried the following report by its correspondent in Jeddah Suleiman Nemr: “Arab sources close to the Jeddah meeting held by the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, the Emirates and Jordan yesterday, revealed that during the meeting, an agreement was reached to propose an Arab initiative for a new political solution in Syria. Egypt will be leading and sponsoring this initiative, with the participation of other Arab countries, one of which may be Algeria or the Sultanate of Oman. According to the sources, the initiative that is supported by the Arab League aims to put an end to the ongoing war in Syria between the opposition and the region, and launch inter-Syrian dialogue to agree over the future and shape of the political regime that will govern Syria.
“At this level, it seems that the statements issued by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah es-Sisi, in which he assured that his country “is neither supporting the opposition nor the regime,” came to pave the way with Damascus and get it to accept the Egyptian role in seeking a political solution to the crisis in Syria…”
When will Ed Husain lose his job at CFR and Blair Foundation? Soon after his NYT piece today on Saudi role behind ISIS
If you thought the pro-likud lobby was strong… the pro-Saud lobby can move fast too… and against the common enemy writers of both:
Anne’s excellent NYT story on ISIS is here:
Also – the very best from Patrick on how to understand ISIS’s rise: