Robert Fisk: US power games in the Middle East

As the West looks anxiously at Iraq and Afghanistan, dangerous cracks are opening up in Lebanon ­ and the White House is determined to prop up Fouad Siniora’s government

The spring rain beat down like ball-bearings on the flat roof of General Claudio Graziano’s office. Much of southern Lebanon looked like a sea of mud this week but all was optimism and light for the Italian commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, now 11,000 strong and still expecting South Korea to add to his remarkable 29-nation international army. He didn’t recall how the French battalion almost shot down an Israeli jet last year – it was before his time – and he dismissed last month’s border shoot-out between Israeli and Lebanese troops.

No specific threats had been directed at Unifil, the UN’s man in southern Lebanon insisted – though I noticed he paused for several seconds before replying to my question – and his own force was now augmented by around 9,000 Lebanese troops patrolling on the Lebanese-Israeli frontier. There was some vague talk of “terrorist threats … associated with al-Qa’ida” – UN generals rarely use the word ‘terrorism’, but then again Graziano is also a Nato general — yet nothing hard. Yes, Lebanese army intelligence was keeping him up to date. So it must have come as a shock to the good general when the Lebanese Interior Minister Hassan Sabeh last week announced that a Lebanese Internal Security Force unit had arrested four Syrian members of a Palestinian “terrorist group” linked to al-Qa’ida and working for the Syrian intelligence services who were said to be responsible for leaving bombs in two Lebanese minibuses on 13 February, killing three civilians and wounding another 20.

Now it has to be said that there’s a lot of scepticism about this story. Not because Syria has, inevitably, denied any connection to Lebanese bombings but because in a country that has never in 30 years solved a political murder, it’s pretty remarkable that the local Lebanese constabulary can solve this one – and very conveniently so since Mr Sabeh’s pro-American government continues to accuse Syria of all things bestial in the state of Lebanon. According to the Lebanese government – one of those anonymous sources so beloved of the press – the arrested men were also planning attacks on Unifil and had maps of the UN’s military patrol routes in the south of the country. And a drive along the frontier with Israel shows that the UN is taking no chances. Miles of razor wire and 20ft concrete walls protect many of its units.

The Italians, like their French counterparts, have created little “green zones” – we Westerners seem to be doing that all over the Middle East – where carabinieri police officers want photo identity cards for even the humblest of reporters. These are combat units complete with their own armour and tanks although no-one could explain to me this week in what circumstances the tanks could possibly be used and I rather suspect they don’t know. Surely they won’t fire at the Israelis and – unless they want to go to war with the Hizbollah – I cannot imagine French Leclerc tanks are going to be shooting at the Middle East’s most disciplined guerrilla fighters.

But Unifil, like it or not, is on only one side of the border, the Lebanese side, and despite their improving relations with the local Shia population — the UN boys are going in for cash handouts to improve water supplies and roads, “quick impact projects” as they are called in the awful UN-speak of southern Lebanon – there are few Lebanese who do not see them as a buffer force to protect Israel. Last year’s UN Resolution 1701 doesn’t say this, but it does call for “the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon”. This was a clause, of course, which met with the enthusiastic approval of the United States. For “armed groups”, read Hizbollah.

The reality is that Washington is now much more deeply involved in Lebanon’s affairs than most people, even the Lebanese, realise. Indeed there is a danger that – confronted by its disastrous “democratic” experiment in Iraq – the US government is now turning to Lebanon to prove its ability to spread democracy in the Middle East. Needless to say, the Americans and the British have been generous in supplying the Lebanese army with new equipment, jeeps and Humvees and anti-riot gear (to be used against who, I wonder?) and there was even a hastily denied report that Defence Minister Michel Murr would be picking up some missile-firing helicopters after his recent visit to Washington. Who, one also asks oneself, were these mythical missiles supposed to be fired at?

Every Lebanese potentate, it now seems, is heading for Washington. Walid Jumblatt, the wittiest, most nihilistic and in many ways the most intelligent, is also among the most infamous. He was deprived of his US visa until 2005 for uncharitably saying that he wished a mortar shell fired by Iraqi insurgents into the Baghdad “green zone” had killed then- Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. But fear not. Now that poor old Lebanon is to become the latest star of US foreign policy, Jumblatt sailed into Washington for a 35-minute meeting with President George Bush – that’s only 10 minutes less than Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert got – and has also met with Condi Rice, Dick Cheney, Defence Secretary Gates and the somewhat more disturbing Stephen Hadley, America’s National Security Adviser. There are Lebanese admirers of Jumblatt who have been asking themselves if his recent tirades against Syria and the Lebanese government’s Hizbollah opponents – not to mention his meetings in Washington – aren’t risking another fresh grave in Lebanon’s expanding cemeteries. Brave man Jumblatt is. Whether he’s a wise man will be left to history.

But it is America’s support for Fouad Siniora’s government – Jumblatt is a foundation stone of this – that is worrying many Lebanese. With Shia out of the government of their own volition, Siniora’s administration may well be, as the pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud says, unconstitutional; and the sectarian nature of Lebanese politics came violently to life in January with stonings and shooting battles on the streets of Beirut.

Because Iraq and Afghanistan have captured the West’s obsessive attention since then, however, there is a tendency to ignore the continuing, dangerous signs of confessionalism in Lebanon. In the largely Sunni Beirut suburb of Tarek al-Jdeide, several Shia families have left for unscheduled “holidays”. Many Sunnis will no longer shop in the cheaper department stores in the largely Shia southern suburb of Dahiya. More seriously, the Lebanese security forces have been sent into the Armenian Christian town of Aanjar in the Bekaa Valley after a clump of leaflets was found at one end of the town calling on its inhabitants to “leave Muslim land”. Needless to say, there have been no reports of this frightening development in the Lebanese press.

Aanjar was in fact given by the French to the Armenians after they were forced to leave the city of Alexandretta in 1939 – the French allowed a phoney referendum there to let the Turks take over in the vain hope that Ankara would fight Hitler – and Aanjar’s citizens hold their title deeds. But receiving threats that they are going to be ethnically cleansed from their homes is – for Armenians – a terrible reminder of their genocide at the hands of the Turks in 1915. Lebanon likes its industrious, highly educated Armenians who are also represented in parliament. But that such hatred could now touch them is a distressing witness to the fragility of the Lebanese state.

True, Saad Hariri, the Sunni son of the murdered ex-prime minister Rafik Hariri, has been holding talks with the Shia speaker of parliament, Nabi Berri – the Malvolio of Lebanese politics – and the Saudis have been talking to the Iranians and the Syrians about a “solution” to the Lebanese crisis. Siniora – who was appointed to his job, not elected – seems quite prepared to broaden Shia representation in his cabinet but not at the cost of providing them with a veto over his decisions. One of these decisions is Siniora’s insistence that the UN goes ahead with its international tribunal into Hariri’s murder which the government – and the United States – believe was Syria’s work.

Yet cracks are appearing. France now has no objections to direct talks with Damascus and Javier Solana has been to plead with President Bashar Assad for Syria’s help in reaching “peace, stability and independence” for Lebanon. What price the UN tribunal if Syria agrees to help? Already Assad’s ministers are saying that if Syrian citizens are found to be implicated in Hariri’s murder, then they will have to be tried by a Syrian court – something which would not commend itself to the Lebanese or to the Americans.

Siniora, meanwhile, can now bask in the fact that after the US administration asked Congress to approve $770m for the Beirut government to meet its Paris III donor conference pledges, Lebanon will be the third largest recipient of US aid per capita of population. How much of this will have to be spent on the Lebanese military, we still don’t know. Siniora, by the way, was also banned from the United States for giving a small sum to an Islamic charity during a visit several years ago to a Beirut gathering hosted by Sayed Hussein Fadlallah, whom the CIA tried to murder in 1985 for his supposed links to the Hizbollah. Now he is an American hero.

Which is all to Hizbollah’s liking. However faithful its leader, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, may be to Iran (or Syria), the more Siniora’s majority government is seen to be propped up by America, the deeper the social and political divisions in Lebanon become. The “tink thank” lads, as I call them, can fantasise about America’s opportunities. “International support for the Lebanese government will do a great deal for advancing the cause of democracy and helping avoid civil war,” David Shenker of the “Washington Institute for Near East Policy” pronounced last week. “… the Bush administration has wisely determined not to abandon the Lebanese to the tender mercies of Iran and Syria, which represents an important development towards ensuring the government’s success,” he said.

I wouldn’t be too sure about that. Wherever Washington has supported Middle East “democracy” recently – although it swiftly ditched Lebanon during its blood-soaked war last summer on the ridiculous assumption that by postponing a ceasefire the Israelis could crush the Hizbollah – its efforts have turned into a nightmare. Now we know that Israeli prime minister Olmert had already pre-planned a war with Lebanon if his soldiers were captured by the Hizbollah, Nasrallah is able to hold up his guerrilla army as defenders of Lebanon, rather than provokers of a conflict which cost at least 1,300 Lebanese civilian lives. And going all the way to Washington to save Lebanon is an odd way of behaving. The answers lie here, not in the United States. As a friend put it to me, “If I have a bad toothache, I don’t book myself into a Boston clinic and fly across the Atlantic – I go to my Beirut dentist!”

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Trish Schuh: The Salvador Option in Beirut

Cakewalks, Forgeries and Smoking Guns
The Salvador Option in Beirut

by Trish Schuh | Counterpunch | 8 February, 2007

“The only prospect that holds hope for us is the carving up of Syria… It is our task to prepare for that prospect. All else is a purposeless waste of time.”
Zionist militant Zeév Jabotinsky, From “We and Turkey” in Di Tribune, November 30, 1915

“We should prepare to go over to the offensive. Our aim is to smash Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, and Syria. The weak point is Lebanon, for the Muslim regime is artificial and easy for us to undermine. We shall establish a Christian state there, and then we will smash the Arab Legion, eliminate Trans-Jordan, and Syria will fall to us.”
David Ben-Gurion, From Ben-Gurion, A Biography by Michael Ben-Zohar, May 1948

“It is obvious that the above military assumptions, and the whole plan too, depend also on the Arabs continuing to be even more divided than they are now, and on the lack of any truly mass movement among them… Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking Iraq up into denominations as in Syria and Lebanon… Syria will fall apart.”
—Oded Yinon, 1982. From The Zionist Plan for the Middle East

“Regime change is, of course, our goal both in Lebanon and Syria. We wrote long ago that there are three ways to achieve it- the dictator chooses to change; he falls before his own unhappy people; or if he poses a threat to the outside, the outside takes him out…”
Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), From strategy paper #474, Priorities in Lebanon & Syria, March 2, 2005

From mission statement to mission accomplished, the cakewalks continue. But from Baghdad to Beirut, the forgery looks the same.

Unlike Iraq, there is no ‘weapons of mass destruction threat’ to facilitate toppling the Syrian regime. This time a United Nations Tribunal could provide the means, deploying Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri’s murder as the weapon. But like the US show trial to convict Saddam Hussein, the show trial to convict Syria for Hariri’s murder, built by the United Nation’s International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC), has a history of problems.

Several of the UNIIIC’s prime witnesses have admitted to perjury, accusing the US-Israeli backed Lebanese government of bribery and foul play. Witness Hussam Taher Hussam claimed Future Movement MP Saad Hariri (son of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri) offered him $1.3m USD to incriminate top Syrian officials. Witness Ibrahim Michel Jarjoura said he was assaulted and forced to lie by Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamade. Star witness Zuhir Ibn Mohamed Said Saddik, who had accused Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Syrian President Bashar Assad of ordering Hariri’s murder, bragged of earning millions by falsely testifying to the UN Commission. Though much of their discredited testimony is still included as evidence, both UNIIIC prosecutors Brammertz and Mehlis said that the use of lie detector tests was not an option.

In his country, Mehlis has been rebuked for unethical and unprofessional practices. According to Germany’s Junge Welt magazine, former UN investigator Detlev Mehlis received a $10m USD slush fund to rig the UNIIIC outcome against Syria. An inquiry by German public TV Zweites Deutsche Fernsehen found that Mehlis had relied on CIA, MI6 and Mossad intelligence in prior investigations, namely the Berlin Disco bombing of the 1980s where Mehlis knowingly used testimony supplied by Arab Mossad agent Mohammad Al Amayra in his case against Libya. Mehlis also relied on NSA intercepts of fake telephone calls that former Mossad officer Victor Ostrovsky revealed were made by Mossad agents, posing as Arab terrorists. The phone calls proved Libyan guilt and justified America’s bombing of Libya.

In the Hariri case, German critics claimed “the choice of Mehlis was done because of his links to the German, American, French and Israeli intelligence agencies.” Lebanese news source libnen.com, and Le Figaro reported that the British MI6 and Mossad have been supplying much of the UN Commission’s intelligence.

When Mehlis resigned in disgrace, the UN hired Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz at Mehlis’ recommendation. But Brammertz could also be vulnerable to US pressure if he assembles a verdict not to America’s liking. Under Belgium’s Universal Competence Law, Belgian legislators charged US Centcom General Tommy Franks, President George W Bush, VP Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell with war crimes in Iraq. In 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld threatened to pull NATO headquarters out of Belgium if the prosecutions commenced. Shortly after, the Universal Competence Law was dropped. At the UN, Brammertz told me questions about similar US retaliation against his country regarding an unapproved Hariri outcome were not relevant and were “unhelpful.”

But much of the questionable case built by Mehlis has been retained by Brammertz. Though Brammertz’s secretive style preempts most outside debunking of questionable evidence, it is clear that fundamental issues remain unresolved. Brammertz’s latest UN report estimates that TNT and RDX explosives were used. But military experts and vehicle manufacturers claimed that blast damage to Hariri’s heavily armored Mercedes had the distinctive ‘melting signature’ incurred by high density DU munitions. Israel’s recent attack on Lebanon destroyed that evidence, by contaminating the crime scene with American DU-tipped GBU-28 bunker buster bomb residue.

It is also not certain where the explosion that killed Hariri was detonated. French experts assessed it was underground because the blast had cracked the foundations of adjacent buildings, manhole covers on the street had blown off, and asphalt was propelled onto nearby rooftops. After it was found that an underground explosion would not implicate Syria- but rather the pro-US/Israeli Lebanese government who had supervised road work in the days before Hariri died- the focus shifted to an above-ground blast via suicide bomber.

Then in a psyops setup reminiscent of the Pentagon’s Al Qaeda cutout Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, (who terrorized the length and breadth of Iraq with a wooden leg), several UN reports feature a ‘Zarqawi-inspired’ suicide car bomber, Ahmed Abu Adass as the killer. ‘Martyr’ Adass’s video confession debuted on Al Jazeera Bin Laden-style, with all the requisite hoopla. But according to Reuters and ABC News, the “Syrian-coerced” car bomber had never learned how to drive.

America’s United Nations Ambassador at the time, John Bolton, who usually criticized the United Nations as “irrelevent,” praised Mehlis, Brammertz and the UNIIIC investigation’s “great work” saying “the substantial evidence speaks for itself.”

But the irrelevant evidence Brammertz refuses to speak of could prove far more substantial. Last June, the Lebanese Army discovered several networks of Arab mercenaries sponsored by Israel’s Mossad conducting terrorist attacks and car bombings connected to the Hariri assassination.

Israel National News “Arutz Sheva” reported that Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh was ignored when he protested to the UN about the discoveries. The US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman, who helped manufacture the Cedar Revolution through the American Embassy in Beirut, then threatened Lebanon with very “grave consequences” and a boycott of foreign aid if Salloukh filed a formal UN complaint about the findings.

Despite Feltman’s ultimatums, Lebanese Military Investigating Magistrate Adnan Bolbol was to begin questioning witnesses over the Mossad assassinations in mid-July. On July 11, the Lebanese opposition publicized its demand for a United Nations Security Council Resolution against Israel, as well as a full inquiry into the Mossad’s Arab-camouflaged spy killings. Responding within hours on July 12, Israel hastily retaliated with a full scale attack on Lebanon using the Hezbollah border kidnapping as pretext.

Did the war on Lebanon cover up exposure of a “Salvador-style” slaying of Rafiq Hariri and and the other assassinations blamed on Syria?

Using the Salvador Option against Syria had first been raised by Newsweek and the London Times in January, 2005. After Hariri’s death on February 14, Hariri’s long-time personal advisor Mustafa Al Naser said: “the assassination of Hariri is the Israeli Mossad’s job, aimed at creating political tension in Lebanon.” (Asia Times 2/17/05) The Sunday Herald of Scotland hinted at a US role. “With controversial diplomat John Negroponte installed as the all-powerful Director of National Intelligence, is the US about to switch from invasions to covert operations and dirty tricks? The assassination of the former Lebanese PM has aroused suspicions.”

Fred Burton, in charge of counter-terrorism analysis at the Stratfor website, was also suspicious. Burton, who spent over 20 years as a counter-terrorism expert at the US State Department and the Secret Service, has investigated most terror attacks against US Embassies abroad, as well as the first World Trade Center bombing, and the murder of Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin. Stratfor’s Burton also specialized in Syrian terror operations and methods. He rejected both Syria and Hezbollah as the perpetrators behind the Hariri killing. “Syria lacks the finesse,” and the “complex nature” of the remote-control technology needed to implement “the surgical nature of the charge” are beyond their capacity, he insisted. “This is not their style… and Hezbollah would not have this capability.” (UPI 6/27/05)

According to United Press International, Stratfor’s report on the Hariri crime concluded that the Lebanese assassinations were “so sophisticated that few in the world could have done it.” Burton told UPI that only five nations had such advanced resources- Israel, US, Britain, France and Russia. “This type of technology is only available to government agencies.” Burton then asked: “Suppose that these bombings were ‘merely collateral’? That the true target in the plot is the Syrian regime itself? If Damascus were being framed, who then would be the likely suspect?”

“Israeli intelligence is standing behind this crime,” claimed German criminologist Juergen Cain Kuelbel. In his book “Hariri’s Assassination: Hiding Evidence in Lebanon” he wrote: “Syria is innocent and has nothing to do with that crime or the other assassinations.” Kuelbel discovered that the jamming system used to disable the Hariri convoy’s electronic shield was manufactured by Netline Technologies Ltd of Tel Aviv, an Israeli company co-developed with the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli law enforcement agencies, and sold through European outlets. The UNIIIC dismissed Kuelbel’s findings as “ridiculous” and irrelevant.

But two months after the Hariri convoy was destroyed, Israeli-manufactured weapons began to appear near the homes and neighborhoods of politicians in Lebanon. On April 14, 2005 UPI reported that Lebanese security forces had discovered six Hebrew-inscribed mortar shells manufactured by Israel on a deserted beach near the the southern Lebanese village of Ghaziyeh.

Similar missiles and dynamite were also found along a road frequented by Hezbollah officials, and on December 10, 2005 four anti-tank rockets attached to wires ready for detonation were found planted on the road leading to MP Walid Jumblatt’s Muktara Palace.

In February, 2006 Lebanon’s Daily Star and An Nahar reported that Hebrew-marked 55mm, 60mm and 81mm rockets were discovered close to MP Saad Hariri’s Qoreitem estate. Similar rockets had also been uncovered near the Majdelyoun home of Saad’s aunt, legislator Bahia Hariri near Sidon.

While the pro-US/Israeli ‘March 14′ government automatically blamed Syria for the findings, one of several Israeli spy rings were captured trying to assassinate Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. AFP sited nine “well-trained, professional” paramilitaries who were intercepted with an arsenal of B-7 rocket launchers, anti-tank missiles, pump action shotguns, hand grenades, AK 47 rifles, revolvers, silencers, computers and CDs.

Then in June 2006, Mahmoud Rafea a mercenary from the South Lebanon Army, (created by Israel during the civil war with $10,000 bonuses), was caught on camera after car bombing two members of Islamic Jihad, the Majzoub brothers. Israel’s ynet.com reported that Rafea confessed to committing the Majzoub slayings for Israel’s Mossad, as well as to a number of other high level assassinations.

Israeli website DEBKAfiles said that Rafea had assisted “two Israeli agents [who] flew into Beirut International Airport aboard a commercial flight on false passports three days before the Majzoub brothers were assassinated.” They “replaced a door of the brothers’ car with a booby-trapped facsimile” and left the country after an Israeli airplane “detonated the planted explosives with an electronic beam.” (Daily Star, 6/20/06)

Mahmoud Rafea, who was trained in Israel, also confessed to distributing bombs and ordnance to various locations around Lebanon to destabilize the country. A raid of Rafea’s home yielded high tech Israeli surveillance gear, fake passports, IDs, and appliances and baggage with secret compartments, and detailed maps of Lebanon.

But Rafea’s network was only one among several. Lebanese Internal Security Forces are still searching for a different spy ring led by another Arab Mossad agent, Hussein Khattab. The Times of London wrote: “In a bizarre twist, Hussein Khattab, a Palestinian member of the spy ring, who is still at large, is the brother of Sheikh Jamal Khattab, an Islamic cleric who allegedly recruited Arab fighters for Al Qaeda in Iraq”.

Equally strange, Hussein Khattab’s brother Jamal and his colleague Sheikh Obeida (mentioned in the UNIIIC report as head of Al Qaeda’s Jund Al Sham) frequently met with the Zarqawi-inspired Hariri suicide car bomber Ahmed Abu Adass in the Ein Hilweh refugee camp of Lebanon. (Like Israel and the US, Zarqawi had demanded that Hezbollah be disarmed.) Israel National News “Arutz Sheva” later wrote that “the US has been talking with Al Qaeda-sponsored terrorist groups in Syria in an all-out effort to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad”.

In early January 2007, AP and the UK Telegraph reported that the CIA had begun covert operations in Lebanon using Arab proxies. During the riots in Beirut on January 20-22, a US proxy, the Progressive Socialist Party, distributed US weapons to fighters dressed as opposition Hezbollah/Amal supporters. The riots were then blamed on the opposition.

Comparing the Hariri car bombing to the mysterious car bombings in Iraq, Asia Times said: “What remains is the evidence of Baghdad in Beirut… The iron-clad certainty, on both sides [Sunni and Shia resistance in Iraq], is that these have been perpetrated not by “terrorists” as the US claims, but rather by Israeli black ops or CIA-connected American mercenaries, with the intent of fueling tensions and advancing the prospect of civil war. Now if only someone would come up with a Beirut smoking gun.”

“The Gun” -as Meir Dagan is nicknamed- could be it.

Israeli website DEBKAfiles wrote that the above-named South Lebanon Army mercenary Mahmoud Rafea, had been assassinating/spying in Lebanon for Israel since 1989 when he was recruited by current Mossad director Meir Dagan.

In 2002, Meir Dagan was reappointed by Ariel Sharon to reprise the Mossad’s covert operations in Lebanon, notably targeted killings abroad. Coinciding with Dagan’s appointment, official Israeli policy was expanded to allow assassinations in friendly ally nations (including the US) using Kidon death squads from the Metsada Division. It was a job for which Dagan had ample experience.

Under Ariel Sharon in 1970, Dagan commanded a secret assassination unit of the Israeli Security Agency called Sayaret Rimon that eliminated over 750 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. In 1982, he helped command Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. His main assignment was to manage undercover infiltrators, and to train Lebanese collaborators for the pro-Israel South Lebanon Army.

Dagan commanded the Lebanon Liasion Unit (Yakal or Yaagal Border Unit) which was notorious for its cross-border raids into Lebanon to kidnap opponents, as well as its secret prison Camp 1391, where detainees were tortured and disappeared. Haaretz alleged Camp 1391 was the prototype for America’s Guantanamo facility.

Dagan also operated the IDF Military Intelligence Unit 504, whose expertise was assassination, sabotage and spy running in Lebanon. The Israel Defense Forces call such spy saboteurs “Mista’aravim”- “soldiers disguised as Arabs”. Used for clandestine reconnaissance and to frame enemies in false flag operations, these IDF soldiers impersonating Arabs and their proxies are “trained to act and think like Arabs”, and to blend in to the target population with appropriate manners and language. (In 2002, this writer encountered at least one such Israeli ’student’ who claimed to be in Beirut “learning to think like ‘the enemy’”.)

One Mista’aravim specialty is the donning of Arab garb. In 1973, Israel’s “Spring of Youth Operation” conducted by the IDF Sayaret Matkal in Beirut included future Prime Minister Ehud Barak dressed as an Arab woman while conducting death squad hits. Mista’aravim provocateurs camouflaged as Palestinians are still used in the West Bank and Iraq. Jane’s Foreign Report said Mossad’s Dagan had advised US officials in September 2002 on how Israeli special ops could help the US war effort in Iraq. Mista’aravim methods were exemplified in Basra where British SAS troops dressed as Arabs in a vehicle loaded with explosives were seized before detonating a car bomb. According to Israeli intelligence expert Ephraim Kahana, Sayaret Matkal is modeled on Britain’s SAS.

Mista’aravim also specialize in close quarter urban combat using micro-Uzis, short-barreled M-16s and sniper rifles. Due to fluid street and residential changes, these teams rely on satellite photos and real-time drone imaging- like the complex technique used in the killing of the Majzoub brothers, where overhead drones monitored ground activity via cameras mounted on nearby objects- a level of capability not possessed by Syria.
Concerning the 2006 Lebanon War, DEBKAfiles boasted of other Israeli

Mista’aravim successes: “two spy rings of Lebanese agents which the Israeli Mossad” operated had “planted bugs and surveillance equipment at Hizballah command posts before and during the war. They also sprinkled special phosphorus powder outside buildings housing Hizballah’s war commands and rocket launchers as markers for air strikes. Well before the war, the Beirut ring had penetrated the inner circles of Hizballah and was reporting on their activities and movements to Israeli controllers… Run by veterans of the South Lebanese Army (the force Israel created during its occupation), its job was to “paint” targets for the Israeli Air Force and artillery..” DEBKAfiles claimed that Lebanon was “heavily penetrated by agents working for Israel intelligence.”

One Lebanese in particular, General Adnan Daoud, even appeared on Israeli televsion smiling and drinking tea with IDF soldiers while taking them on a four hour tour of his military base in Marjayoun. An hour after the Israeli soldiers’ departure, IDF bombed the Marjayoun site. (AP/Jerusalem Post, 8/7/06)

Regarding yet other Mossad agents DEBKAfiles wrote: “Hizballah’s security officials detained two non-Lebanese Arabs wandering around the ruined Dahya district, taking photos and drawing maps. Several forged passports were in their possession…”

All factions concerned with the Hariri killing- the UNIIIC, Stratfor, Hezbollah, Syria, the US, Israel and the Lebanese ‘March 14′ movement, agree on one thing- the Hariri perpetrator also carried out the other 22 assassinations, and possibly more. Lebanon’s Daily Star quoted the FBI: “the same explosive was used in Hawi, Kassir and Hamade crimes” as that used against Hariri. On May 27, 2006 the Daily Star revealed that the killers of Hariri and the Majzoub brothers could be the same: “Internal Security Forces, forensics experts, judiciary police and members of Hizbullah’s security apparatus inspected the blast site shortly after the bomb detonated. The shrapnel and iron balls found extensively around the explosion indicate the bomb was a specialized mine to assassinate individuals, and it is similiar to Hawi and Kassir’s explosives.”

Sources in Lebanon and at the UNIIIC in New York concluded that the same party responsible for Hariri’s death and the other Lebanese assassinations also committed the Majzoub killings. In June, Mossad agent Mahmoud Rafea admitted killing the Majzoub brothers for Israel.

But such irrelevant evidence has been deliberately ignored by the UN International Independent Investigation Commission. At the United Nations, this writer questioned various officials over a period of months about a possible US-Israeli role in Hariri’s murder, and if it was being investigated by the UNIIIC. Prosecutor Serge Brammertz stated that because the issue wasn’t raised by the US/Israeli-backed Lebanese government, that line of enquiry would not be pursued. It seems only facts supporting a guilty verdict against Syria will be considered.

“As far as Israel is concerned, it would be difficult to imagine a more convenient scenario. Its stubborn enemies, Iran and Syria, are now being accused by the international community, one for its nuclear program, the other for its behavior in Lebanon… Israel has hoped for this outcome since the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States in 2001. Immediately after the collapse of the Twin Towers, Israeli officials began to speak about the anticipated change, and expressed a hope that the United States would bring order to the region, and would deal with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and not only Iraq.”
Aluf Benn, Haaretz, October 25, 2005

From Baghdad to Beirut, the democracy dominoes keep falling. After Syria, an Iranian “Shah and Awe” forgery is the next imminent threat …

Trish Schuh was a co-founder of the Military Families Support Network and is a member of Military Reporters and Editors. She has lived and studied in Lebanon and Syria. This the third piece in a three part series on the attempted overthrow of Syria. See also “Faking the Case Against Syria” and “Operation Change of Location.”