November 22, 2006

The Stage is Set - Updated

From Stratfor:

The Lebanese army already has deployed four brigades to greater Beirut to assume combat readiness in case Hezbollah forces attack Sunnis in West Beirut. Lebanon's Sunni bloc, led by the al-Hariri clan and their regional Arab allies, also has sent a number of fighters to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to receive military training in order to counter Hezbollah's well-equipped and well-trained military forces. In the meantime, Syria continues to send reinforcements to its allies in Lebanon. Syrian army officers who previously served in Lebanon have infiltrated the country and are leading combat units of their allies in Hezbollah, pro-Syrian groups and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. Furthermore, about 2,500 Syrian troops masquerading as laborers have joined the ranks of the anti-government forces in Lebanon.
UPDATE: Lebanese readers in the comments (and not just the crazy “anonymous” one) think this excerpt from Stratfor is b.s. Maybe it is. I pulled it off a Lebanese blog, and the commenters don't have much of an argument against it. But you can't prove a negative and it isn't passing the smell test.

Stratfor has sources that I don't have, and that the Lebanese commenters don't have. And Stratfor is more reliable than DEBKAfile, which I refuse to quote, ever. So let me just tag this one as controversial. I can't stand by it because I didn't write it, but I also don't have any evidence that it's false.

Faysal, the Sunni Lebanese who posted this on his blog, said in his comments section: “STRATFOR is a private intelligence firm with very close ties to the CIA. They have credibility. And I can confirm the arming and training of Sunni and Christian factions from sources in Lebanon.” But I don't know Faysal, and I don't know his sources.

There was a great deal of talk in Lebanon even before the July war about other groups and parties re-arming themselves in response to Hezbollah. And some of my trusted and reliable Lebanese sources and friends agree that West Beirut is a lot more dangerous now than it was and that there could be clashes there. We'll see what happens.

UPDATE: Ok, more Lebanese whom I do know and trust also say this is bogus. I will take their word for it. Bogus it is.

UPDATE: Lebanese blogger Bad Vilbel adds in the comments — and I know he's right about this:
Just because i don't buy the “Sunnis and Christians training in Jordan” doesn't mean I don't think they are arming themselves. In fact, I am pretty sure they are. These folks were never “disarmed” in the first place. Everyone in Lebanon has weapons (and I don't mean little handguns here). If violence were to break out today, Hezbollah might be the best organized and financed, but I can guarantee that both the Christians and the Sunnis, and most certainly the druze are armed and ready to go (as sad as that may sound).
Posted by Michael J. Totten at November 22, 2006 1:38 AM
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