June 05, 2007

No Peace with Syria

By Michael J. Totten

Last summer in the wake of the July War between Israel and Hezbollah I wrote War is coming again, and it’s coming like Christmas.

I may have been off by six months.

The Lebanese Army reports that Syria is sending weapons and terrorist/guerilla reinforcements to the war of the camps in Lebanon.

At the same time, Syrian MP Mohammad Habash confirms (if he isn’t bluffing, and maybe he is) that Syria is preparing for a conventional war against the Israel Defense Forces this summer.

Bashar Assad is perhaps more emboldened by Israeli and American fecklessness and imcompetence that he ought to be. It wouldn’t be the first time in history that a fourth-rate power misjudged the West and blundered into a catastrophe. He may want to consult the ghosts of Gamal Abdel Nasser and Saddam Hussein.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 5, 2007 12:27 PM
Comments

Bashar Assad is perhaps more emboldened by Israeli and American fecklessness and imcompetence that he ought to be.

A direct, and inevitable, result of Israel doing so poorly against Hesbollah. The sharks smell blood in the water.

But in a conventional war, Syria will be playing to Israel's strengths-- unlike Hesbollah who played to its weaknesses. A decision they will sorely regret.

Posted by: Carlos at June 5, 2007 12:49 PM

You might be right, but it's not the Lebanese Army saying what you say it's saying...

The link quotes Beirut to the Beltway, who are quoting the highly unreliable Al Nahar/Naharnet, itself quoting "sources" close to a cabinet meeting, which said that armed men seen entering Lebanese territory near the Syrian border were "likely" from PFLP-GC and Fatah Uprising.

That is a far cry from saying with any degree of certainty that Syria is sending terrorists and weapons to the war of the camps. Good headline, though....

There are other ways of looking at the possible outcome... for example, Hezbollah now find themselves in the awkward spot of actually being on the government's side in all this.... On Tuesday the Hezb No.2 Naim Qassem was asking again for people to consider the formation of a national unity government... the Lebanese Army has stood up to a serious threat for the first time sinc, well, since ever.... and has won lots of public support in the process... the millinerian Jihadi Wahabists fighters have shown themselves to have a very, very limited support base in the camps....

So it's not all doom and gloom... maybe with some political courage and imagination from the govt. and opposition, some good can come out of all of this carnage.

However much you and your regular posters hate and fear Hezbollah, this authoritarian and militaristic group does at least play by the rules of Lebanese politics. They run for elections, discuss alliances, pull out of parliament.... call for new elections... whatever.

If they were out and out Syrian backed shock troop commandos who didn't give a shit about the country, do you think they would still be camped out in Riad Solh Sqare? Of course not. They would have stormed the Grand Serrail in the first week.

But they didn't do that. So it seems to me that neither of the major players actually wants a civil war. Which has to be a good thing.

What could be very dangerous for Lebanon, is if the Fatah - Hamas conflict replicates itself in all those camps... the Lebanese Army, brave and pluck though it is, just hasn't the wherewithall to keep a lid on all 12 or 14 Palestinian shanty towns at once.

Posted by: Pedanto-raptor at June 5, 2007 12:52 PM

Wouldn't even be an issue if Hassan Nasrallah had been added to the ghost list.

Heckuva job, Brownie, er, Olmert.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at June 5, 2007 12:52 PM

Unfortunately, also the Israeli army is preparing for war, making militant declarations and performing major drills.

I think that both sides are "playing with fire". All this distrust and all these threats could easily deteriorate to a full scale war, that I'm sure that both leaders on both sides don't really want.

War can be avoided!

Posted by: Yohay at June 5, 2007 01:08 PM

Bashar Assad ain't half the politician, or terrorist for that matter, that his daddy was. If there are Syrian machinations in Lebanon, plans against Israel, etc., I think it must be by someone behind the throne. I think Bashar would be happy to stick to his eye doctor business.

Posted by: Johnny at June 5, 2007 01:48 PM

One of the ways dictators perpetuate their power is to attack another nation so the people will have somebody else to hate and fear. This could be Bashar's way of staying alive for another six months.

Also, why shouldn't Israel seek out this war? What do they have to lose that they aren't losing already? What stability do they lose through open conflict with Syria? What enemies do they gain by attacking Syria?

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 5, 2007 02:21 PM

I think that Syrian guy is suggesting that Syria is doing what it has to do to protect itself from Israel's alledgedly inevitable initiation of hostilities this summer, rather than admitting to an intention to start a war with Israel.

Posted by: Randall at June 5, 2007 02:43 PM

If I were GW I would make a public gift of a few hundred daisy cutters to the Israelis.

They don't need nukes to level Syria.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 5, 2007 02:58 PM

Syria doesn't want, nor does it expect, to fight a war with Israel this summer.

These "reports" are basically a form of ass-covering for the IDF top brass. They were humiliated last time when the army was caught unaware, and are trying to avoid being put in the same situation.

Everyone can relax.

Posted by: Edgar at June 5, 2007 03:23 PM

I don't buy it. How do such reports ass cover for the IDF. Please explain.

Posted by: Carlos at June 5, 2007 03:36 PM

Carlos -

Nobody will complain if there ISN'T a war this summer. But they'll go nuts if there is and the intelligence services didn't anticipate it.

If you read these "reports," you'll notice that they seem to pop up on quite a regular basis. My guess is that they figure there's a small chance of something happening this summer, and they'd rather be safe (career-wise) than sorry.

Posted by: Edgar at June 5, 2007 03:42 PM

Syria went through some serious bullshit in order to gain the greenlight to invade Lebanon, all the time being politically and publicly covered with the likes of Amal, and Later on Hezbollah.

They were seen as the 'saviours', before they started showing their true face of exploitation. You hear all this garbage about them read for this and ready for that, but in Lebanon they would retreat in any of the invasions by the Israelis, even though they were so called enemies. Then, they would combat the much weaker Lebanese Forces, under the banner that they were Israels agents.

Either the Syrian echelon is sick to a point that they can lie without bluffing, or they are just crazy and thinking the enemy is lesser of an enemy than a proxy of the enemy.

In Bashar the paper Lions speach after Hezbollahs devastating war, he started talking alot about preparing for war, filthy language towards Israel, and praising the 'resistance' which hasn't gained much, whereas a peace-accord with Arab neighbours gained ten times more any 'resistance' group ever gained throughout there history of existance i.e. terrorism.

Then when this pig is put to the test, he starts begging the Americans to talk to him, and the Israelis for peace. Assad the paper lion is shaking in his boots - an airstrike on his home should send a strong message that he could be targetted anywhere anytime, and see how his policies will change.

It's time Israels effective assasinations moved from the territories - where there aren't much charismatic leaders left - to Assads home-town. At least use the threat, either stop financing Hezbollah, and we might spare your life.

You really think he gives a shit about anyone other than himself? He's a dictator, thats virtually impossible.

Posted by: Gharam at June 5, 2007 04:04 PM

Sorry for drifting off the point there. Yes, as I was saying, about Syria doing the impossible to leave Lebanon. For all those analysts and criticts of the idea of Syria assisting these terrorists enterring - one point - Where do all those Al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq come from?

Exactly.

The Iraqi government is a so-called puppet of America? They view the Lebanese one the same. As for the Hezbollah issue, as I said before, Assad firstly doesn't really care what happens to anyone other than me, most spies are killed when he gets the information he recieves. He also known that Hezbollah can not and will not join the battle, if they do, he will order them to stay away, and then you will see Nasrallah infront of his curtain again talking about red lines, and blue squares.

Posted by: Gharam at June 5, 2007 04:09 PM

**Sorry, not other than me, other than himself...assad doesn't care about anyone exept himself.

Posted by: Gharam at June 5, 2007 04:11 PM

edgar,

I'm not aware that these reports are continually popping up as you say they do. Even if so, they can't be ignored because that's what your enemies hope you do. They plant false stories until you become desensitized to them, and that's when the story turns out to be real, except you've ignored it. That's exactly what happenned in '73. All the reports of imminent invasion were true but they weren't taken seriously. So Israel has no choice but to take such reports-- this time coming out of both Lebanon and Syria-- seriously.

Posted by: Carlos at June 5, 2007 04:55 PM

Michael, what about the recent news that seems to imply that Turkey has been helping Iran get weapons to Syria and possibly Hezbollah and Hamas? With all those weapons that made it across their borders, it's obvious the Turkish state is involved.

Isn't it about time that the US finally consider ending such close ties with the fascist and terror Turkish state? How about no peace with Turkey?

Posted by: Azad at June 5, 2007 05:07 PM

"Michael, what about the recent news that seems to imply that Turkey has been helping Iran get weapons to Syria and possibly Hezbollah and Hamas? With all those weapons that made it across their borders, it's obvious the Turkish state is involved.

Isn't it about time that the US finally consider ending such close ties with the fascist and terror Turkish state? How about no peace with Turkey?" Azad

Why, Russia and China publicly sell Syria and Iran weapons, most of which falls under the hnds of Hezbollah. You can't just say "Hey, why doen't America invade Russia and China", or @Lets start a new war with them" or "end peace because they are terrorist states, for selling weapons"

I mean i'm no friend of these rogue states, but i'm sorry, saying these things is just plain stupid, aggressive and seriously dangerous.

The biggest supplier of weapons to African countries with below poverty rates of 90% and suffering civil wars, such as Sudan and Somalia, are provided by Britain, and to a certain extent, America.

It's called - Bussiness. However ugly.

Posted by: Rico AKA Gharam at June 5, 2007 05:44 PM

@Yohay: The Olmert government's lack of urgency to prepare against a large-scale Syrian attack is criminal.

This time around, Syria will use heavy missiles to attack Israel's population centers, industrial centers, population centers and medical centers; even if the IAF succeeds in obliterating the Syrian air force in the first hours of the war, the missiles will be able to slaughter Israeli civilians.

The missiles will be launched from civilian locales within Syria and, where possible, from Lebanon. At the same time, Syria will attack the Golan under cover of modernized SAM batteries supplied by Russia and Iran. At the same time, Syria's proxies in Lebanon and the PA will do as much damage as possible.

Israel needs to do an enormous amount of training and repair/procurement/positioning of equipment in a very short time. It also needs to do as much as possible to fortify industrial, military and medical centers all around Israel, because unlike in 1973, 1967, etc., Syria won't need an air force to hit them.

Israel cannot afford to let its own arrogance blind it to the danger of a Syrian attack, as happened in 1973.

Posted by: Zvi at June 5, 2007 05:57 PM

Where do all those Al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq come from?

According to

"The National Origins of Foreign Fighters in Iraq
Alan B. Krueger
Princeton University and NBER"

http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:eCbfCz7Iqv8J:www.aeaweb.org/annual_mtg_papers/2007/0105_1430_1601.pdf+iraq+insurgents+%22country+of+origin%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&client=firefox-a

(google cache of a html-ized PDF)

The 311 captured foreigners came from 27 different countries. The largest
number came from Egypt (78), Syria (66), Sudan (41), Saudi Arabia (32), Jordan (17),
Iran (13), Palestine (12), and Tunisia (10). Western countries were also represented. Two
insurgents came from Great Britain and one came from the U.S., Denmark, Ireland and
France. The countries that round out the list are: Algeria (8); Libya (7); Turkey (6);
Lebanon (3); Qatar (2); UAE (2); India (2); Macedonia (1); Morocco (1); Somalia (1);
Yemen (1); Israel (1); Indonesia (1); and Kuwait (1)

Those are just the foreign combatants, by most accounts, the overwhelming majority of the insurgents in Iraq are locals.

I wasn't able to find out what proportion of those guys were specifically affiliated with AQ.

IMO, Algeria and Libya are big surprises, but Pakistan is amazing. Algeria went through a nasty civil war with militant islamists, and Libya is run by a revolutionary lunatic... I'd expect both of them to generate far more militant types than they are. And Pakistan... well, maybe Afghanistan is more convenient, but I would have expected at least one jihadi from Pakistan in the mix.

Also interesting:

Many of the other variables are also of interest. A lower level of civil liberties in the origin country is associated with a greater number of captured insurgents from that country, and this effect is statistically significant in all of the models. The effect of civil liberties is also sizable: the model in column (3) of Table 1 implies that a decrease in civil liberties from that of the 75th to the 25th percentile country is associated with a 7 fold increase in the number of captured insurgents. An important caveat, however, is that because civil liberties and political rights are so highly correlated (r=0.96) in these data it is impossible to distinguish between the two variables with any confidence.

Looks like repressive states create people who want to create even more repressive states, which I find bizarre.

I would have expected people from that kind of background to appreciate not being oppressed more than people lucky enough to have been born in a free country, looks like I was mistaken.

Posted by: rosignol at June 5, 2007 06:03 PM

The biggest supplier of weapons to African countries with below poverty rates of 90% and suffering civil wars, such as Sudan and Somalia, are provided by Britain, and to a certain extent, America.

Ah, no. Russia and China, actually.

There's a damn good reason you see 'fighters' in those countries carrying around combloc weapons such as AK-47s and RPGs instead of US-made stuff like M-16s, and the reason is usually that the US won't sell them weaponry because we know what they'll do with it.

So they buy guns from the Russians, who don't give a damn what they're used for so long as the check clears.

Posted by: rosignol at June 5, 2007 06:09 PM

Very good posts rosignol. Stats, references, analysis? I am impressed.

Posted by: Keith at June 5, 2007 07:14 PM

@Ros:

"Looks like repressive states create people who want to create even more repressive states, which I find bizarre."

It's not a new trend, however. In fact, it is very common. People are the product of their cultures.

Repressive states rule by keeping people terrified and insecure. They lean heavily on utopian ideologies rather than on pragmatic ones. They use violence to force their people to surrender to obnoxious policies rather than resolving differences through negotiation and pragmatic agreement. They rule by arbitrary force instead of relying on a structure of laws that constrain both citizen and government.

This is the model ingested by many (though not all) citizens of a repressive state. These people learn authoritarian behavior and absolute ideologies instead of learning how to cope with people who have different beliefs.

Even if only 25% of the citizens are "stuck" in this model, that still means millions of people, and when millions passively share totalitarian world views, you will certainly find some number of these people willing to commit the most eggregious acts of terror "for the cause."

Posted by: Zvi at June 5, 2007 10:14 PM

We're preparing for war.
We want peace.
We're ready for war.
We only desire peace.
We're getting ready for war.
We demand peace talks or there will be war.
We are prepared for war if there is no alternative.
We want peace talks now.
Our people are itching for war. How long can we restrain them?
We want peace. War is what our enemies desire.
We are pursuing peace.
We are ready for war.

And just when you're tired of all this, um, crap, BINGO.

(Well, the "only maneuvers" tactic worked pretty damn well in 1973.)

(Oh, and P.S., did we mention that the middle-east will burn.)

(Oh, and one tires of having to mention it---it's so historicall obvious---but Lebanon really belongs to us. Jordan and Israel too, but we'll leave that for the time being.)

(Oh, and by the way, the countdown to Israel's, um, disappearance has begun---note we didn't say "destruction," so that you can translate our Farsi as "disappearance by natural causes, evolution, what-have-you," heh, heh; knowing how fond we are of poetry and metaphor.)

(Oh, and do us a favor, all you good boys and girls, and keep up the good work regarding those Zionist Nazi warmongers.)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at June 5, 2007 11:57 PM

MJT, your timing wasn't off -- it's just going to be 'Christmas in July' like all the retail stores.

The reports I've seen have the Israelis and the Syrians both repeatedly saying A) The other side is building up militarily in various scary ways along the border; B) We have to build up in response; C) no, no, they aren't doing anything unusual and neither are we, let's ratchet this sucker down a notch. Then it starts over. I just hope to God Israel is actually preparing sanely this time, but it's hard to be optimistic.

I'm with Rossignol -- my reading says that by far the biggest contributor to arms and training of jihadi militants in Africa now is China -- and that China's arms and infrastructure connection with Hizbullah is pretty much established, which I also heard from an Israeli military spokesman last year. Made me wonder about those Chinese UN 'peacekeepers' that got accidentally walloped last summer.

Posted by: Pam at June 6, 2007 12:30 AM

@Zvi : I don't think that the Syrian army is that strong. It will be much easier for Israel to fight Syria in a conventional war than to fight Hizballa in a guerrilla war. Despite the chance of receiving missiles in Tel Aviv, I'm sure that Israel can easily defeat the Syrian army, something that would destroy Assad's regime.

Posted by: Yohay at June 6, 2007 12:34 AM

Zvi,

The missiles will be launched from civilian locales within Syria and, where possible, from Lebanon. At the same time, Syria will attack the Golan under cover of modernized SAM batteries supplied by Russia and Iran. At the same time, Syria's proxies in Lebanon and the PA will do as much damage as possible.

There are many problems with this assertion. For one thing, if Syria starts firing heavy guided missiles into Israeli civilian areas, Israel will return the favor. And top it off with air strikes on civilian areas. All bets are off in a situation like that.

For another... US can cover the distance on the ground between Anbar and Damascus in 3 hours flat - Heavy Armor, Personnel Carriers, Humvees and Trucks. Add in US heavy lift helicopters and their ability to transport large numbers of troops, they can easily take an airfield capable of landing C-130s and other Heavy Lift aircraft.

You think the US wouldn't do that? With virtually the entire Syrian military tied up with Israel?

That's an 8 hour war.

I doubt Syria will attack Israel this summer, because that would be stupid. But if Syria attacks in such a no-holds-barred manner as you suggest, then the response will likely be equivalent. You wouldn't believe the kind of mauling the US military can hand out to a conventional military that's deployed out in the open.

I suspect that nobody will want an all-out war this summer, or any other time. That doesn't seem to be the way the game is played in the middle east. Israel in particular seems reluctant to finish enemies off, and the US certainly doesn't want to have to occupy Syria.

Maybe we could let Lebanon occupy Syria, if worst comes to worst. Payback is a bitch, eh? :P

Posted by: Craig at June 6, 2007 01:29 AM

"There's a damn good reason you see 'fighters' in those countries carrying around combloc weapons such as AK-47s and RPGs instead of US-made stuff like M-16s, and the reason is usually that the US won't sell them weaponry because we know what they'll do with it.

So they buy guns from the Russians, who don't give a damn what they're used for so long as the check clears."

Just to clarify. During Soviet era SU sold/gave license to produce light weapons to practically all members of Warsaw Pack as well as to many other anti-US/NATO states including China.

I do not know may be AK-47s (cal. 7.62 mm mod. 1947) as well as AK-74s (cal. 5.45mm mod. 1974) you are talking about are Russian made but chances are they are not. Especially if those are AK-47s, which are earlier model and look like twins with AK-74s when looked at on TV screen.

Fattah and Hamas are very likely to use M-16 along with AK-47s. However, if I understand correctly AK-47s is preferred weapon for reliability and ease of maintenance as well as unlimited availability. M-16 tends to jam in desert (sandy/dusty) conditions.

Interestingly enough earlier versions of Galil are reap off of AK-47, which in turn took a lot from Shmizer.

Posted by: leo at June 6, 2007 06:34 AM

"For another... US can cover the distance on the ground between Anbar and Damascus in 3 hours flat - Heavy Armor, Personnel Carriers, Humvees and Trucks. Add in US heavy lift helicopters and their ability to transport large numbers of troops, they can easily take an airfield capable of landing C-130s and other Heavy Lift aircraft.

You think the US wouldn't do that? With virtually the entire Syrian military tied up with Israel?"

I think to satisfy ME psyche it is important that Israel would do it alone if possible. Otherwise Israel will still not look convincing to its enemies.

Posted by: leo at June 6, 2007 06:38 AM

...something that would destroy Assad's regime.

Israel doesn't want to destroy the Assad regime because whatever would replace the Assad would be even worse for Israel (Yes, that's how bad things are in the Arab world). Notice how Israel assiduously avoided targeting Syria during the war with Hesbollah. There was a reason for that. Imagine Israel surrounded by failed states like Lebanon with no control over their borders with radicals coming and going as they please to kill Jews, and that's why Israel doesn't want war with Syria-- or any of it's (stable) Arab neighbors for that matter. Israel could shatter any one of those repressive secular Arab governments at any time of its choosing, but what would be the result? Osama Bin Laden's fondest wishes.

Posted by: Carlos at June 6, 2007 07:13 AM

Pakistan is amazing

The Taliban is the Paki alQaeda. The Pakis have been kept busy in Afghanistan and India. And it would seem, the UK as well.

Posted by: redaktor at June 6, 2007 07:20 AM

"Israel doesn't want to destroy the Assad regime because whatever would replace the Assad would be even worse for Israel (Yes, that's how bad things are in the Arab world)."

I believe regime change in Syria with Islamists coming to power will happen sooner or later. I think this is the stage, which cannot be avoided before Syria (and Israel) will be able to move on to better times.

I'd rather Israel were to initiate and run it in "controlled" environment as opposed to alternative.

Posted by: leo at June 6, 2007 07:32 AM

Craig: Maybe we could let Lebanon occupy Syria, if worst comes to worst. Payback is a bitch, eh? :P

Nice idea, but Lebanon can't occupy Lebanon right now, let alone Syria.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 6, 2007 08:18 AM

Rosignol, you missed the point about where they come from. I didn't mean what nationality, i meant where they come in from. Meaning, which border do they cross to get in. Very few come in from Turkey, even less from Iran (a conservative Shi'a country wouldn't harbour or release wahhabi or Salafi terrorists to go kill the Shi'a in Iraq), so Syria is the overwhelming place where they enter from.

"Nice idea, but Lebanon can't occupy Lebanon right now, let alone Syria." Michael J

True, but...that wouldn't be the case if the world started taking the Lebanon example serious and start making some serious funding, not political sham funding where the politicians keep 99% and the rest get 1. Give the Lebanese something to keep them busy, and none will even think about anything happening on the other side of their borders.

Also, if they are granted with a genuine chance to get everything back to it's feet, they would rather die than let any other war take place, because they would notice that Arabs don't want it, but talk about it as a slogan - same thing applying to Hezbollah. Once they start losing support, they may start asking to fight Israel from Syria, when Syria rejects, thats when it hits them and they will most likely just integrate with the Army very very silently.

Posted by: Rico at June 6, 2007 11:16 AM

"Otherwise Israel will still not look convincing to its enemies."

If you ask me, I think thats a good thing. Then any enemy coming thinking of defeating the IDF, won't come as prepared because of there underestimation. Then Israel could wipe them out in no-time. Maybe loose a battle or two to convince another enemy into oblivioun.

Posted by: Rico at June 6, 2007 11:20 AM

Why, Russia and China publicly sell Syria and Iran weapons, most of which falls under the hnds of Hezbollah. You can't just say "Hey, why doen't America invade Russia and China", or @Lets start a new war with them" or "end peace because they are terrorist states, for selling weapons"

Riko, no one said start a war with Turkey. However, the close ties US has with Turkey should certainly be reconsidered. Turkey did not simply sell weapons to terror states like Syria and Iran like how you are saying China and Russia did. Turkey has been helping transfer weapons very discreetly and illegally from Iran and Syria to the same terrorist organizations under discussion here. There is a big difference here. What kind of ally are they? They are playing the same game as Iran and Syria when realizing these facts.

So my question again is not whether US should start a war with anyone at this moment. But whether or not it is about time that the US finally reconsider their close ties with the terror Turkish state? They have caused more trouble for us than good.

Posted by: Azad at June 6, 2007 11:25 AM

Azad, thats how big nations compete and comprimise. Just like America sides with the Kurds in nearly all conflicts in the Middle East, and favours the Kurdish areas today to the Arab areas of Iraq, in some ways also supports them...Turkey must counter this influence because they are against the Kurds and the Kurdish nation or even the Kurdish nation, ofcourse.

This is just a routine procedure to keep the balance of power in check, get me?

Posted by: Rico at June 6, 2007 11:37 AM

"If you ask me, I think thats a good thing.
Then any enemy coming thinking of defeating the IDF, won't come as prepared because of there underestimation.
Then Israel could wipe them out in no-time. Maybe loose a battle or two to convince another enemy into oblivioun."

It is not 1948, not even 1967. They'll come very much prepared. Question is 'when?'. Why wait?

Besides one had already been lost. At least on PR front. I am looking to encourage different type of conviction.

Posted by: leo at June 6, 2007 12:36 PM

A bomb on a Tyre beach popular with UN forces has been found:

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&48B1504BE8366118C22572F2002AE5DE

A truck full of arms from Syria, driven by Hezbollah members (who were released), was intercepted by the army. It is thought the arms were to be used in other 'refugee camps' against the Lebanese army:

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&1DCFF511808CEC42C22572F20021CB6F

I'll repeat what I've said before: the UN will be targeted and the southern camps will flare up. The UN bugs out, Lebanese army is too stretched to monitor the south, so Hezbollah gets back in to their southern positions.

Posted by: MattW at June 6, 2007 02:14 PM

Fattah and Hamas are very likely to use M-16 along with AK-47s.

This is because the US provided a great many M-16s to the Palestinian Authority back when Clinton was President.

However, if I understand correctly AK-47s is preferred weapon for reliability and ease of maintenance as well as unlimited availability. M-16 tends to jam in desert (sandy/dusty) conditions.
-leo

The M-16 is not as tolerant of lax maintenance as the AK, however, it is a more accurate rifle. Besides the tighter tolerances and more precise machining in the M-16, the Russians put steel cores in their ammunition to enhance penetration... but they don't bother to put the steel core in the precise center of the round, which makes it unbalanced and reduces accuracy.

-----

Rosignol, you missed the point about where they come from. I didn't mean what nationality, i meant where they come in from. Meaning, which border do they cross to get in. Very few come in from Turkey, even less from Iran (a conservative Shi'a country wouldn't harbour or release wahhabi or Salafi terrorists to go kill the Shi'a in Iraq), so Syria is the overwhelming place where they enter from.
-Rico

Difficult to say. IMO, the Saudi and Jordanian borders are just as likely transit points, both countries have fairly porous borders with corruptible guards and lots of smuggling.

Turkey is a less likely route for jihadis, but that's because just across the Turkish border is the Kurdish zone, not because of the Turkish government.

Re the rest, if there's one thing everyone should realize about the middle east, it's that pretty much anyone will cooperate with pretty much anyone else to achieve a specific short-term goal if it benefits them. Case in point: Syria is run by the Assads, who are Alawites- a sect considered heretics by pretty much every other muslim sect. That hasn't stopped Syria from becoming friendly with Iran, which is run by Shia, and it didn't stop Syria from sending troops down to Saudi Arabia- run by Sunnis- as part of the coalition that ran Saddam (a Sunni) out of Kuwait.

Another few examples, specific to Lebanon- Michael Aoun. Used to be on Syria's hit list and fled into exile, today he's friends with Nasrallah and seems to expect to become President of Lebanon once Syria re-asserts control. Then there's Jumblatt, who used to think the Druze would benefit from associating with Assad, and is now on a hit list for supporting the pro-freedom groups.

Middle eastern politics are fluid. Yesterday's enemy may be tomorrow's ally. Please to not believe anyone who claims any particular sectarian or tribal animosity precludes cooperation in all situations- history has many many examples proving otherwise.

Posted by: rosignol at June 6, 2007 06:57 PM

"The M-16 is not as tolerant of lax maintenance as the AK, however, it is a more accurate rifle. Besides the tighter tolerances and more precise machining in the M-16, the Russians put steel cores in their ammunition to enhance penetration... but they don't bother to put the steel core in the precise center of the round, which makes it unbalanced and reduces accuracy."

Machine guns are not intended to be accurate. One rarely tries to aim at anything when one shoots. Machine gun is more lake a 'scatter gun'.

"unbalanced"

You are referring to AK74 model with 5.45 cal. It is done on purpose to increase bodily damage.

This bullet when fired spins around tilted axis in flights and erratically changes direction inside the body after it hits behaving like a meat grinder.

Damage is much more extensive than from its 7.62 cal. counterpart. Victim might have something, which otherwise would've been just a flush wound to shoulder (for example) and end up loosing whole arm if not worst.

If one could use term "inhumane" in respect to a weapon - this one is excellent candidate.

Posted by: leo at June 7, 2007 05:39 AM

This is just a routine procedure to keep the balance of power in check, get me?

You're right, it is a routine procedure. But the routine procedure is part of the larger problem. And it makes Turkey part of the US problem. While one NATO member is fighting terrorists, another one is arming them. This war could go on forever. Turkey is directly helping arm terrorists by helping Iran get those weapons to Syria. And now this recent news has exposed Turkey of being the same as Iran and Syria in this Middle East conflict.

And again, you're right, it's a routine procedure for power balance. But that should give the US all the more reason to reexamine their relationship with Turkey who has done nothing but always worked against us.

Posted by: Azad at June 7, 2007 12:06 PM

"Mr. Roten, just have couple stipid question ..."

m rotten,

Your sound like jealous abandoned lover.

Please, tell us more about your poor unfulfilled live.

PS. If you use "couple" you should say "questionS".

Posted by: leo at June 7, 2007 07:33 PM

Don't feed the troll, the comment will be deleted (and the troll banned) as soon as MJT sees the post.

Posted by: rosignol at June 7, 2007 08:33 PM

"Don't feed the troll"

You are correct. What was I thinking.

My reply should be deleted too.

Posted by: leo at June 8, 2007 05:40 AM

In respect of how "foreign Jihadis" are getting into Lebanon....
I heard that the Lebanese govt think many may simply fly into Rafik Harriri Airport in Beirut.

As a result - according to the norotiously unreliable Naharnet -the Lebanese govt is thinking of making Arab visitors apply for visas in lebanese consulates prior to travelling, instead of just getting a visa at the airport once they land in Lebanon.

After all, assuming they don't travel around with bandoliers of ammunition slung across their torsos, Koranic headbands, long bushy beards and wild eyed stares.... these guys probably look like any ordinary Arab male visitor to the country.

So why bother schleping under a fence and dodging barbed wire and border guards at the Leb-Syrian border, when you can just take af light from Amman or Damascus and enjoy the hospitality and air conditioning of MEA or the equivalent carrier?

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