From Asharq al-Awsat yesterday an excerpt in tonight’s MIDEASTWIRE.COM briefing:
“…Meanwhile, the pro-legitimacy Libyan news agency reported the death of Ahmed Rouissi, whom it described as the most dangerous Tunisian terrorist in Libya and one who is wanted by the Tunisian police in connection with several terrorism-related cases. The agency said Rouissi, classified as a Da’ish leader among thousands of Tunisians in Libya, was killed in a clash in Harawah, 70 km east of the coastal city of Surt in central Libya. It said the Tunisian Ministry of Interior admitted that Rouissi, one of the main suspects in political assassinations in Tunisia, was killed. It noted that the ministry published pictures of Rouissi, 46, who was seen as the black box of the terrorists who travelled to Libya for training and returned to Tunisia to carry out terrorist acts. He was one of the most dangerous Tunisian extremists who posed a threat to Libya’s security and stability. The Tunisian authorities said Rouissi was born in 1967 and was known for his two nicknames “Al Sukati” and “Abu Zakaria”. He lived in Tabarbah in Manouba province and was suspect in several criminal cases. He had a criminal record, as he was sentenced to 14 years in prison, and he was monitored by the antiterrorism squad…”
Just when I am working on an article on this subject exactly for Tablet magazine… still very much a developing story it seems.
TRANSLATED: As-Safir daily details US-Lebanese roles in massive July 2012 bombing of Assad inner circle
An interesting – Ronen Bergman-esque – report on the July 2012 bombing of Assad’s inner circle of security men… a bombing which had all the indications that some party was attempting to orchestrate a tipping point to finally collapse the regime. It is an interesting side of the story for all those folks who argue that the Obama administration should have assassinated or covertly killed its way to regime change in Syria. This report says essentially that the US did in fact lead just such an effort. But even after wiping out so many of Assad’s major security figures, still the army and regime…. stayed… until this day.
More details of this part of the story will come out and will be vital for better understanding the problems inherent in the dominant argument that says the US should have been more militarily and covertly involved and aggressive in Syria:
Translated today by our Mideastwire.com (for a free trial email firstname.lastname@example.org): but only the first three paragraphs here:
On March 17, the independent, leftist As-Safir daily carried the following report: “The mystery of the bombing that targeted the bureau of national security in Damascus where the “crisis management cell” used to meet on a daily basis remained hanging between different and sometimes conflicting stories… When a French diplomat stopped two journalists, a French and an Arab, in early July 2012, near a café adjacent to the French foreign ministry, the lights of the Friends of Syria conference had grown dim at the conference center following two exhausting days of debate that provided the impression to the meeting participants that the toppling of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is now a fait accompli.
“Contrary to the reigning rules of the wooden language at the Quai d’Orsay, the diplomat revealed what he had in mind and advised the journalists to slow down with their packing because a major event was going to take place in July. The bets to topple Al-Assad in Paris and between the “Friends of Syria” had turned into a mere matter of time. The defection of Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, the commander of Unit 105 at the Revolutionary Guards, on the day following the conference, i.e. July 7, turned the bets to a quasi-certainty. French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, was even whispering the name of Tlass as being the next president of Syria before he even set foot on the French lands.
“The Qatari Foreign Minister, Hamad Ben Jassem, did not argue then with the conference participants who asked him to be flexible when it comes to the language used in the final statement vis-à-vis Al-Assad… A prominent French official quoted Ben Jassem as telling the participants: “For us, there is no difference neither with the language used in the statement nor with its content because President Al-Assad will not be at the presidential palace by September anyway…”
One does wonder if all the discussion about “post snow melt” battles is overdone…. we will see shortly it seems.
Translated today by Mideastwire.com:
On March 12, the Ad-Diyyar daily newspaper carried the following report: “Day after day, and as the snow is melting away and springtime is getting closer, reports are increasingly alluding to the imminent battles that will break within the few upcoming weeks on several locations along the Lebanese-Syrian borders. These battles will see a confrontation between the Lebanese army units on one hand and the different groups of armed fighters deployed in the eastern chain on the other hand. These battles will also be paralleled by attacks to be carried out by the Syrian army supported by the Hezbollah fighters from within Syria towards the Lebanese borders. So are these reports credible?
“According to well-informed sources, one cannot say for sure that there will be decisive and imminent battles and one cannot provide precise dates for such battles for several reasons: First, the military targets of the concerned parties, i.e. the Lebanese and the Syrian armies and Hezbollah as well as the armed groups fighting the Syrian regime, are either un-similar or even conflicting at some instances. This will limit the possibility of a wide coordination between these forces and thus the possibility of a unified military operation.
“Second, the talk about an imminent attack to be carried out by the Lebanese army or the Syrian army and Hezbollah to repel the “takfiri threat” clashes with the talk about the armed groups’ preparations for attacks aimed at invading and controlling some Lebanese towns… Third, there is talk about an imminent attack by the Lebanese army against the armed groups’ locations in the barren areas concomitantly with an attack by the Syrian army supported by Hezbollah from the other side in order to corner the armed groups. However, this scenario calls for a security coordination in the highest of levels under a clear political cover. This has so far not been the case and there are no indications that it might be achieved anytime soon.
“Fourth, the talk about preparations that the armed groups are making to launch a sudden attack with the aim of breaking their seclusion and the siege against them, controlling areas inside Lebanon and thus imposing a new status quo clashes with all the field reports indicating the presence of major differences between these armed groups that are deployed along the borders in addition to the presence of a major discrepancy when it comes to their priorities and future plans.
“Based on the above, and regardless of the many rumors propagated by the different media outlets, the well-informed sources stressed that the border front will definitely not be stable. However, there are so far no signs indicating that this front will be seeing a decisive “bone breaking” battle in the upcoming few weeks or even any preemptive attack by any of the conflicting parties. The same sources added that some geographically limited military operations with specific field targets are rather expected to take place…”
The leftist As-Safir daily carried an interesting piece by Denise Attallah today, translated by our Mideastwire.com (for a free trial email email@example.com). It quotes unnamed sources that clearly lay out but a few of Iran’s major limitations in the region, where they have actually “achieved” very little – instead staving off a collapse, really, of its strategic standing:
“…This same team [i.e. Iran’s adversaries]…indicate that “the Iraqi sands forced Iran to abandon Nouri al-Maliki and to accept partnership with the Kurds, the Sunnis and even the Americans to prevent it from drowning. In Syria, despite all the political, intelligence related, military and financial efforts, Iran failed to achieve anything more than maintaining the structure of the regime with no real victories, not to mention the fact that Syria has been destroyed and has collapsed. The same goes for Lebanon. Despite Hezbollah’s military power and authority, it is unable to take Lebanon to the axis that it wants and it is unable to even push for a president close to this axis…””
Syrian Refugees clash with army in Shebaa, Hasbaya – does not bode well for context in South of expected “spring offensive”
Text of report in English by Lebanese National News Agency website: “A clash took place Sunday between a number of Lebanese citizens and displaced Syrians in the town of Shebaa in the South over money issues, which led to the injury of 4 people who were rushed to Hasbaya Hospital for treatment, while town dignitaries tried to restore matters back to normal, NNA correspondent in Shebaa reported.”