Lebanon

#1
Lebanon army begins offensive against Daesh on Syria border

Lebanon and Hezbollah launch separate battles against Daesh | Toronto Star


The Lebanese Army’s Fajr al-Joroud offensive entered its second day on Sunday as troops advanced on ISIS positions on the outskirts of the towns of Al-Qaa and Ras Baalbeck in the northeast of Lebanon. Three soldiers were killed and one wounded by a landmine near the town of Arsal on Sunday. The army also claims to have killed 15 ISIS fighters and captured 70.

On the Syrian side of the border, Syrian government forces and Hezbollah fighters also launched attacks on ISIS positions. The attacks aren't coordinated however and the Lebanese refused to cooperate with Hezbollah fighters and Syrian forces earlier n the summer.
 
#4
Lebanese army finds anti-aircraft missiles in Islamic State cache
Good work by the Lebanese armed forces. Not sure but it appears to be a JaN arms dump, captured by Hezbollah and taken over by the Lebanese Army, but could be different from Fridays find:
Lebanon's army found anti-aircraft missiles among with a cache of weapons in an area abandoned by Islamic State militants, it said on Monday.

The arms cache also included mortars, medium and heavy machine guns, assault rifles, grenades, anti-tank weapons, anti-personnel mines, improvised explosive devices and ammunition.

On Saturday Lebanon's army began an operation to dislodge Islamic State from its small enclave in the mountains straddling the border with Syria.

The Syrian army and Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah group are conducting a simultaneous but separate operation against the same pocket from inside Syria.

A Hezbollah offensive last month forced militants from the Nusra Front group, formerly al Qaeda's official Syrian branch, to quit an adjacent enclave on the border for a rebel-held part of Syria.

On Friday, the Lebanese army said it had discovered surface-to-air missiles in a weapons cache left by the Nusra militants in an area captured by Hezbollah and then taken over by the army.
 
#5
Lebanon's Hariri visits UAE as home crisis escalates
Couple of news stories about Lebanon. Basically, Hariri the PM (who must be a Sunni) has gone to KSA and resigned. His family made their money in the Saudi construction industry so his loyalties seem on the face of it to be fairly self evident. He says Iran and Hezbollah (Iranian sponsored and form part of the govt) are going to assassinate him so he won’t go back. He also accuses them of stirring up trouble in the region.

Allegations that he’s a prisoner have been denied and he’s just had a short trip to the UAE presumably to drum up support. Meanwhile yesterday KSA say they’re at war with Lebanon. No overt action taken to date.

Iran say they will support Hezbollah. Lebanon appears to have a missing PM. They’re ‘at war’ with KSA. They host 1.5M registered Syrian refugees albeit some put the refugees at close to 2.2M. Most of their aid appears to come from the US. Hezbollah haven’t disarmed as per UNSC Resolutions as Israel isnt respecting Lebanon’s territorial integrity, also according with Resolutions.

It may become the latest battleground for the ongoing Sunni and Shi’a fight. Muslims making up some 40+% of the Home population, Christians a slightly larger amount and Druze much of the remainder.

And then there’s Israel. Hezbollah feel they won in their last fracas. Since then Hezbollah have been rearming from Iran via Syria with the Israeli’s attacking some of these supply routes. Hz and other Shi’a militia allies have also become much more ‘battle experienced’ during their time in the six year Syrian civil war.

There’s a blue touch paper struggling for a light here.
 
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#6
Lebanon's Hariri visits UAE as home crisis escalates
Couple of news stories about Lebanon. Basically, Hariri the PM (who must be a Sunni) has gone to KSA and resigned. His family made their money in the Saudi construction industry so his loyalties seem on the face of it to be fairly self evident. He says Iran and Hezbollah (Iranian sponsored and form part of the govt) are going to assassinate him so he won’t go back. He also accuses them of stirring up trouble in the region.

Allegations that he’s a prisoner have been denied and he’s just had a short trip to the UAE presumably to drum up support. Meanwhile yesterday KSA say they’re at war with Lebanon. No overt action taken to date.

Iran say they will support Hezbollah. Lebanon appears to have a missing PM. They’re ‘at war’ with KSA. They host 1.5M registered Syrian refugees albeit some put the refugees at close to 2.2M. Most of their aid appears to come from the US. Hezbollah haven’t disarmed as per UNSC Resolutions as Israel isnt respecting Lebanon’s territorial integrity, also according with Resolutions.

It may become the latest battleground for the ongoing Sunni and Shi’a fight. Muslims making up some 40+% of the Home population, Christians a slightly larger amount and Druze much of the remainder.

And then there’s Israel. Hezbollah feel they won in their last fracas. Since then Hezbollah have been rearming from Iran via Syria with the Israeli’s attacking some of these supply routes. Hz and other Shi’a militia allies have also become much more ‘battle experienced’ during their time in the six year Syrian civil war.

There’s a blue touch paper struggling for a light here.
Strange days indeed.

Is this connected to the missile launched from Yemen at the weekend and for which KSA blames Iran?

Hariri is probably correct in fearing for his life, Lebanese politics is considered an extreme sport. Dad was assassinated in 2005. The July/August 2006 fighting was not a happy experience for Israel. The Lebanese had the sh1te pounded out of them but Hezbollah inflicted relatively heavy casualties on the Israelis (IDF lost 120 KIA, 1200 wounded according to Wikipedia).
 
#8
Strange days indeed.

Is this connected to the missile launched from Yemen at the weekend and for which KSA blames Iran?
In the ‘bigger picture’ of the Houthi’s supported by Iran firing what KSA (and Trump) says is an Iranian supplied missile but the IRGC say isn’t? I believe so.
Hariri is probably correct in fearing for his life, Lebanese politics is considered an extreme sport. Dad was assassinated in 2005.
Indeed. However, even if he was assassinated what would Hz gain? It still needs to be a Sunni PM. Top them all until the constitution is changed?

Or is this pre-empting Hz actions? They’re obviously confident with their performance in their neighbours civil war. Are they on a bid for power?

I think Lebanon will be yet another arena (as it is Hz's home base) for further conflict between Shi'a and Sunni. I also think KSA are pre-empting what they think is going to happen to them. Do they wait until all of Iran's ducks are lined up? Or act now?
Saudi reopens Lebanon front in struggle with Iran
The resignation on Saturday of the Saudi-allied Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri, announced from Riyadh and blamed on Iran and Hezbollah, is seen by many as the first step in an unprecedented Saudi intervention in Lebanese politics.

“The Saudis appear to have decided that the best way to confront Iran is to start in Lebanon,” a European diplomat said.
Lebanon won't be able to satisfy the Saudi demands, even if they wanted to:
Riyadh is blaming Hezbollah for the resignation of Lebanon’s preeminent Sunni politician, accusing it of “hijacking” Lebanese politics. But Saudi Arabia is also widening blame to Lebanon as a whole, saying it too has declared war on the Kingdom.

A Saudi minister has made the near impossible demand that Lebanese act against a group that is a major part of Lebanon’s political fabric and far more powerful than the weak state, with a guerrilla army that out guns the national military.
Hezbollah are pushing the corruption angle re Hariri which is of course being denied:
Coinciding with a major anti-corruption purge of top Saudis, Hariri’s shock announcement has given rise to suggestions from Hezbollah and others that his Saudi business interests had embroiled him in the probe and he was forced to resigning.

Saudi Arabia and Hariri’s allies deny that, and assertions that Hariri is under house arrest. They say his hand was forced by Hezbollah interventions in Arab countries in service of Iran.
They didn't do too well last time they used Lebanon as a battle ground. The article also fails to mention direct Russian support which will be an option if there is a military threat against their allies in Lebanon. The Shi'a are on the rise and the Sunni rebel groups be they terrorist or not in Syria have not fared that well since Russian direct support. It also begs the question about the Kurds in Iraq and Syria who are Sunni but tend to be much less religious than their Arab or Persian neighbours:
It is not clear what comes next: Saudi-backed efforts to weaken Hezbollah in Lebanon failed badly a decade ago, ending with a bout of Sunni-Shi‘ite fighting on the streets of Beirut that only underlined Hezbollah’s military dominance.

The regional struggle moved elsewhere in recent years, notably neighboring Syria where years of Saudi investment in rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad failed to withstand direct military intervention by Iran and Hezbollah.

In Iraq, Tehran-backed militias and Iranian commanders have often seemed as powerful as the U.S.-backed Iraqi military, most recently in an operation to retake Kirkuk from Kurdish forces.
A bit more on the timeline which makes a few more points on Hariri's actions:
So emboldened was Iran that top Iranian official Ali Akbar Velayati trumpeted his regional alliance’s success from Beirut last Friday, declaring victories in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. His statement to the media after a meeting with Hariri was seen as a major provocation to regional Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia.

Hariri left for Saudi Arabia immediately afterwards, cancelling previously scheduled engagements and catching even his closest advisors off guard the next day with a declaration first broadcast by Saudi-owned media.
More interestingly KSA are now apparently saying it was Hz and not Houthi's who launched the missile:
The regional standoff flared in the Gulf hours later, with Iran-allied groups firing a ballistic missile at Riyadh from Yemen. Saudi Arabia says it was launched by Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has not responded to the accusation.
The statement. Is it stall setting, rhetoric or an actual line (red or otherwise) in the sand?
“The Lebanese government will be dealt with as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia, and all Lebanese must realize these dangers and work to resolve the issues before we reach the point of no return,” he said in an interview with Al-Arabiya TV.
Then there's the refugees, Lebanon's debt and of course sanctions which have been implemented plus demo's in support of Hariri cancelled:
Hariri was spearheading efforts to garner international aid to help Lebanon deal with the strain of hosting 1.5 million Syrian refugees, or a quarter of the population.

Leaders on all sides say there should be no further escalation. Both Hezbollah and Hariri’s Future Movement have worked to contain Sunni-Shi‘ite tensions during the war in neighboring Syria.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has called for calm and patience in the face of Hariri’s resignation. Okab Sakr, a member of Hariri’s Future Movement, noted that protests in solidarity with Hariri had been canceled to avoid trouble.

Sabhan, the Saudi minister, has called for “real sanctions” and alliances “to find a fundamental solution to this cancerous disease”, saying Hezbollah should be disarmed and kept out of government.

Hariri, who was thrust into politics by the 2005 assassination of his father, Rafik al-Hariri, led years of political struggle with Hezbollah in Lebanon. But his Saudi-backed “March 14” coalition failed to make any progress toward Hezbollah’s disarmament as demanded by U.N. resolutions.

Echoing the Saudi position, the United States has also taken new measures targeting Hezbollah in recent weeks, as President Donald Trump takes a tougher stance toward Iran.

It has offered a bounty for two Hezbollah officials, and the House of Representatives has backed new sanctions targeting entities found to support it.
The July/August 2006 fighting was not a happy experience for Israel. The Lebanese had the sh1te pounded out of them but Hezbollah inflicted relatively heavy casualties on the Israelis (IDF lost 120 KIA, 1200 wounded according to Wikipedia).
No, they didn’t albeit they were constrained to an extent in what they could do. Certain parties will always shout about Israeli aggression but dismiss what damage is done to them, particularly if the anti missile defences are working.

The Israeli’s (to an extent) have to manage their actions under international monitoring and abide by certain ‘rules of war’. Hz don’t and like Iran, Syria etc. will just deny everything. The ‘information war’ is as important as the physical war now and they have some allies who are very good at it.

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All in all a pigs ear and unlikely to get better in the near future
 
#9
EU, U.S. affirm Lebanon support, diverging from Saudi
EU and US support for Lebanon which appears to be at odds with KSA statements:
The European Union and the United States on Wednesday reaffirmed support for Lebanon after the resignation of its prime minister, striking a sharp contrast to Saudi Arabia, which accuses Beirut of declaring war because of the Shi‘ite group Hezbollah.

Statements of support from EU ambassadors to Lebanon and the United States have set a different tone to their Sunni Gulf ally Saudi Arabia, which has lumped Lebanon together with the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah as parties hostile to it.
Mention again made of Hariri and the 'corruption angle' as above. The timeline would indicate differently:
The circumstances surrounding Hariri’s sudden resignation have given rise to wide speculation that he had been caught up in a high-level anti-corruption purge in Saudi Arabia, where his family made their fortune, and coerced into resigning.

Saudi Arabia has denied this along with reports that it has put Hariri under house arrest. It says he quit because Hezbollah was calling the shots in the government.
Mention is made of money given by the US to the Lebanese Army. Hz being classified by many western govts as terrorists, or their military wing and also of the EU response, but no money (or additional aid on refugee's etc.) yet:
The U.S. ambassador to Lebanon said on Wednesday the United States remained “committed to a stable, secure, democratic, and prosperous Lebanon” during a meeting with Lebanese army commander General Joseph Aoun, a U.S. embassy statement said.

The meeting was to announce a U.S. government reimbursement of $42.9 million for border operations conducted by the Lebanese army, a major recipient of U.S. military aid.

The United States classifies Hezbollah as a terrorist group even as it supports the weak Lebanese state, drawing a line between the two in a long-standing policy.

On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department said Lebanon was a strong U.S. partner. “The United States strongly supports the legitimate institutions in the Lebanese state,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

“We expect all members of the international community to respect fully those institutions and the sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon,” she said.

In a statement, EU ambassadors to Lebanon said they reaffirmed “their strong support for the continued unity, stability, sovereignty, and security of Lebanon and its people”.
 
#11
The UNIFIL mandate is to support the LAF ant Lebaniese Government extending their authority in the South.
Thanks, the mandate is here: UNIFIL Mandate
UNIFIL MANDATE
According to Security Council resolutions 425 (1978 ) and 426 (1978 ) of 19 March 1978, UNIFIL was established to:
  • Confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon.
  • Restore international peace and security.
  • Assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in
    the area.
According to Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) of 11 August 2006, UNIFIL, in addition to carrying out its mandate under resolutions 425 and 426, shall:
  • Monitor the cessation of hostilities.
  • Accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the South, including along the Blue Line, as Israel withdraws its armed forces from Lebanon.
  • Coordinate its activities referred to in the preceding paragraph (above) with the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel.
  • Extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.
  • Assist the Lebanese armed forces in taking steps towards the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL deployed in this area.
  • Assist the Government of Lebanon, at its request, in securing its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel.
By this resolution, the Council also authorized UNIFIL to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind; to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council; and to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers and, without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Lebanon, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.
 
#12
Lebanon believes Hariri held in Saudi, wants foreign pressure: top official
Hariri is still held under duress according to the Lebanese govt and he's still their PM as Aoun the President hasn't received his formal notification. Aoun being Hz supported. Hariri's aides have said he's not under house arrest as do the Saudi's. He himself has not said anything:
In his resignation speech, Hariri attacked Iran and Hezbollah for sowing strife in Arab states and said he feared assassination. His father, a veteran former prime minister, was killed by a bomb in 2005.

“Lebanon is heading toward asking foreign and Arab states to put pressure on Saudi to release Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri,” said the top government official, who declined to be identified because the government had yet to declare the initiative.

“Keeping Hariri with restricted freedom in Riyadh is an attack on Lebanese sovereignty. Our dignity is his dignity. We will work with (foreign) states to return him to Beirut.”

The official said Hariri was still Lebanon’s prime minister, echoing other Lebanese government officials who say Hariri’s resignation had not been received by Aoun.
According to Aoun the President:
Lebanese President Michel Aoun is moving toward a diplomatic approach to “uncover the mystery surrounding Hariri’s resignation”, Lebanon’s al-Manar television, which supports Iran-backed Shi‘ite movement Hezbollah, reported.
Notably, when Aoun was requested to return in '99 he declined to do so as he was unsure what the Syrians would do to him.
 
#14
EU, U.S. affirm Lebanon support, diverging from Saudi
EU and US support for Lebanon which appears to be at odds with KSA statements:

Mention again made of Hariri and the 'corruption angle' as above. The timeline would indicate differently:

Mention is made of money given by the US to the Lebanese Army. Hz being classified by many western govts as terrorists, or their military wing and also of the EU response, but no money (or additional aid on refugee's etc.) yet:
Thats all going to end badly. hezbollah have too much of a strangle hold on the country,and LAF is too sectarian riven. Can see it all fracturing into civil war part two. And Lebanese civil wars are nastier than most.
 
#15
Lebanon ex-PM meets French, UK, EU, U.S. diplomats in Riyadh: PM's office
If he is a prisoner, he's had the opportunity to mention it:
Saad al-Hariri, who resigned as Lebanon’s prime minister last weekend, met the French ambassador to Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Thursday, Hariri’s office said in a statement.

Hariri, who quit in a video broadcast from Saudi Arabia on Saturday but has not yet returned to Lebanon, also met diplomats from the European Union, Britain and United States in the past two days.
 
#16
#18
Hariri returns to Lebanon for first time since resigning as PM
Hariri has returned to Lebanon after visiting France and Egypt. Will he still resign? Will his resignation be accepted? What now for Lebanon with Hezbollah, Iran and KSA?
Saad al-Hariri landed in Beirut on Tuesday, his media office said, returning home for the first time since he resigned as Lebanon’s prime minister in a broadcast from Saudi Arabia and plunged his country into political crisis,

Hariri’s sudden resignation on Nov. 4 thrust Lebanon to the forefront of a regional power struggle between the Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia and Shi‘ite Islamist Iran, whose powerful ally Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government.
 

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