Friday, February 29, 2008

NSC's Johndroe: "NO, I would say we have regular consultations with Prime Minister Siniora and his government..."

NSC's Gordon Johndroe REFUTES Siniora's claims that the US did not consult with Lebanon before sending the USShips to coast off Lebanon. More at the White House site, here
Q A quick one on Lebanon, too. Prime Minister Siniora comes out today and says he has summoned the U.S. charg d'affaires to request clarifications about the USS Cole being sent to the region; says he had nothing to do with it. Was there really no coordination between the United States and Lebanon about this show of force in the region?
MR. JOHNDROE: No, I would say we have regular consultations with Prime Minister Siniora and his government, as well as our allies, both in the immediate region, as well as in Europe on the situation in Lebanon.

'Regime Change' in Gaza?

In the World Politics Review, here
Talk about "regime change" will inevitably trigger unhappy associations and thus arouse much suspicion and alarm. But it is by no means only Israeli hawks or Western "neocons" who contemplate regime change in Gaza -- the demand that "Hamas Must Stand Down" has also been made in the Saudi English-language daily Arab News, where Osama al-Sharif argued recently:
"Hamas must decide if it is acting as a government for all Palestinians or at least the Gazans, as some of its leaders have claimed, or as a militant group dedicated to fighting Israel. If it is the first choice, then it must show that it is concerned with the fate of its citizens who are enduring a huge humanitarian ordeal. If they choose the latter, then they must part ways with political grandstanding and accept to hand over responsibility for the welfare of Gaza to the PNA."

Empty Ships to Lebanon?

"b" at the MoonOfAlabama has this interesting take on the Armada deploying off the coast of Lebanon, here
".....Why is this odd?
Because the U.S. is sending empty ships.
The USS Nassau is leading an Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) consisting of an amphibious assault ship (Nassau itself), two amphibious dock ships and some cruisers for ass covering. An ESG usually carries a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) consisting of some 2,200 Marines and their material. It deploys these towards land and supports their fighting. The Marines operate their helicopters and vertical take off Harrier planes from Nassau's large flight deck
But as Navy Times reported on February 4 and on February 22, the Nassau Group left for its current mission without its Marines and their material.
That material is already on the way to Afghanistan and the Marines will follow next week or so.
So the Navy is sending big, hulky and vulnerable assault and landing ships towards Lebanon without the troops and most of the air assets that would eventually be needed for an evacuation operation or the like....."

Syria – the ’little China’ of the Middle East or an Islamic Revolution Waiting to Happen?

Soren Schmidt is a Project Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies, read more here ...with President Assad at the helm, which one will it be?

Israel ground operation in Gaza inevitable?

Haaretz, Here ... and Laura Rosen "One would guess that could be part of what the US warship off the coast of Lebanon is about - to deter Hezbollah,... if Israel moves against Hamas in Gaza. Heard earlier today such operations would be in March-April, with desire for stabiliity to be restored by time of Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations in May when Bush plans to visit.... Then again, March is next week. So is a planned Rice visit to Israel. Jordan's King Abdullah II is here this week and next, after a meeting with the Saudi king en route to New York today. Olmert back to Israel Friday from Japan, where he seemed to overlap with Rice.... And it appears that Rice did meet with Olmert in Japan about Gaza situation, at her request."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jumblatt: "Siniora does not mind attending the Damascus summit, he is Lebanon's President & Prime Minister"

As much as I hate to link to Sabra's al-shira'a, I thought that Jumblatt's allusion to Siniora as "...Lebanon's President" was worth the detour! (and his other delusions as enumerated by sabra & described by Ibrahim Al Amine in Al Akhbar, here)
Read more here

M14 and "Nation Building"....

يافطة «مستقبلية» في شارع طرابلسي (نزيه الصديق)

"O Saad, Apple of our Eyes, Arm us and leave the rest to us!"

(Future-Movement/ Tripoli Chapter)

Abdallah of Jordan 'with his intelligence Chief in entourage, on scheduled visit next week to meet Bush, Congress & Jewish leaders..'

Laura Rosen, here

U.S. says sends warship off coast of Lebanon

Reuters, here
The Coast of Lebanon has not been kind to foreign ships with bravado!
Sr. Lunch-Club Member wrote this comment for the thread below from Beirut:
"Another example of the disarray in Bush's foreign policy. He, and his Administration are out of options. He will indeed take great satisfaction in leaving to his successor a legacy of woes, pain, and humiliation. This will be his revenge from a country that has failed to toe his line.
On the other hand, the only people who seem to 'believe' in him are the cohort of Arab monarchs, dictators, and other despots. These are the ' allies' of America. The Bush Adm has managed to get an almost unanimous unity among Arabs (population) in opposing US policy whereas its only support is the association of thugs, mass murderers, despots, embezzlers, gamblers, drug addicts, and state terrorists (Bandar and his surrogates of Fath el Islam and Al Qaeda) and other 'apprentis sorciers' (their allies in Lebanon and in 'moderate' countries).
The question is: will the next administration have enough sense to reestablish some form of balance and equity in its dealings with the region? Will the double standards (raised to unprecedented levels of hypocrisy and lies) be curbed in order to reestablish US credibility in the region? Will the advisors of the new administration will have something as an agenda representing the true interests in the region and not the expansionists desires of Israel.
Already Barak Obama has set the tone by saying that the support of Israel does not mean the support of the Likud, even if the latter manages to snatch victory in the next elections.
Many questions remain up in the air but it will be nice to see a movement in the US asking for a judicial accountability of the Bush adm. and the crimes it committed in the name of the American people."

MEPGS: "...With expectations low for a third UNSC resolution on Iran,.. Administration Officials are calling for 'more concessions'..."

Excerpts from MEPGS:
"....This process, say veteran US officials will hopefully prepare them(Clinton/Obama) for the inevitable array of unappetizing options available come January 2009. Explains one Administration insider,"The force commander (unlikely to be General David Petreus by then) will present his needs. The area commander (Admiral William Fallon) will put it into a regional context. Then the Joint Chiefs of Staff ("JCS") will explain their overall needs, not just putting into a world wide context but also the
ability to recruit, train and maintain US force structure." When the process works well, says this official, there is a strong Secretary of Defense who can help channel all this information to a ready President
"... He (McCain) is a legitimate father of the surge," says one veteran US official. "But I don't think he realizes how upset the JCS are with the effect Iraq is having on the military." Regardless of who is
elected President, veteran US officials are counting on two early decisions that will set the US on a navigable course. First, for the Democrats, will be the realization that there can be, in the words of one senior official, "no precipitate withdrawal" from Iraq. Second, in order to gain public backing for this course, a wide range of officials fervently hope the new President will downplay to purely Iraqi aspects of the US involvement and instead focus on the regional and homeland security implications of the war and our attempts to extricate ourselves from it......
".... the Administration is deepening rather seeking to lessen our involvement in Iraq. Beginning in
the next couple of weeks US and (yet to be named) Iraqi officials will attempt to negotiate a status of forces agreement ("SOFA"), which will institutionalize the US presence in Iraq. ......retaining the right to conduct combat missions, maintain detention centers and have special, if not sole jurisdiction over the action of US forces in Iraq. "Doesn't look much like the arrangements the US has with Japan or Germany," notes one European diplomat....
".... Iran has had a pretty wide open field (and that time is really on its side) since the US invasion turned sour four years ago. Now, with outgoing Under Secretary of State Burns publicly admitting what others have said privately for months, time has run out for this Administration to get a handle on Iranian behavior, not only in Iraq but also on the urgent, if somewhat more long term problem of its nuclear program. With expectations low for a third UN Security Council Resolution calling on Iran to obey demands on limiting its program, some in the Administration are urging more US concessions.
Among them would be an offer to open a US consular office in Iran. Another is to attempt to expand periodic US- Iranian talks, now limited to Iraqi issues, to a wider range of bi-lateral concerns.....
"... Even the Israelis, the most outspoken critics of Iran have been forced to go back to rethinking their former relative optimism about the ability of the outside world to influence Iranian behavior. Burned as badly as the Administration by the National Intelligence Estimate ...... they, too, know time is running out, with less than a year left for the Bush Administration to check Iranian ambitions and at least six months before any successor team "gets up to speed" on the subject. And it has been clear for a while that even hard liners in Israel are uncomfortable, as one key Israeli official said recently "...being out there alone...."

"... we have been scaring ourselves into exaggerating the terrorism threat -- and by our unwise actions in Iraq making the problem worse..."

Ignatius in the WaPo, here

...and more Photos from Abou Ghraib

Via WIRED, here

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

British Police disrupted plot to kill Saudi king Abdullah ....

AFP, here

Damascus to publish findings of investigation into Mughniyeh's assassination until after Arab League Summit..

In YNETnews, here
".... According to the sources, these results prove that an intelligence organization of an Arab country helped Israel assassinate Mugniyah and that Lebanese and Palestinian elements had also assisted in the killing ...."

Poll: "64% of Israelis say the government must hold direct talks with the Hamas government in Gaza"

Haaretz/Dialog Poll, here

.... and Jumblatt to Reuters: "Nasrallah just fixing the trigger on your head and telling you: I'm making you an offer you cannot refuse,"

Interview with Reuters, here

"Mubarak says Syria part of Lebanon crisis ... " Mubarak, the King of Bahrein, the King of Saudi Arabia, the King of Jordan ... and other benevolent potentates-for-life are all interested in the ELECTION of a President in Lebanon, for the SAKE OF DEMOCRACY! This is hilarious! Needless to say, the Saudis (and to a much lesser extent, the Egyptians) will NOT use the Arab Summit in Damascus as the pulpit for their "showdown" with Damascus: That, will have to wait 'til after the summit. I expect the summit to take place, with more or less full corum (AS IN ALL PREVIOUS SUMMITS), ... and for the recommendations to carry NOTHING new....
In GulfNews, here
"We should not be (in Damascus) resolving a problem that Syria is a party to," Mubarak said during a visit to Bahrain as part of tour of Gulf Arab countries aimed at unifying positions ahead of the annual Arab League summit..."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"... Sharon and Jumblatt,... had mutual friends, including the current head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan..."

Amir Oren writes in HAARETZ, here
"...Years passed and in the summer of 1982, defense minister Ariel Sharon met with Bashir Gemayel. The head of the Lebanese Phalange party declared that the end of Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt was nearing. Sharon and Jumblatt, who hated Syria for murdering his father, had mutual friends, including the current head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan; but Gemayel boasted that the clan that was on the rise in the Druze community, the Yazbeks, were his allies. "Pull your Druze out," Gemayel demanded, and Sharon gave in and promised that the IDF officers of Druze descent would be removed from the areas of confrontation between the Maronites and the Druze."

Saudi Arabia decreases its Diplomatic representation in Damascus ...ahead of the Arab Summit

... as a sign of further tension and deterioration between Damascus & Riyadh, the Saudi Ambassador, Ahmad Al Qahtani was transferred to Doha (qatar) as a plenipotentiary Ambassador ... A "new" Saudi Ambassador does not seem in the offing, and Al Qahtani will hence be the "first" Saudi Ambassador to Qatar after a period of drought between the two Gulf neighbors because of ......the 'OLD' Al Jazeera!

George Corm: « Je ne pense pas que le pays puisse être embrasé »

In L'Humanite, here
"... Il est probable que le Hezbollah fera des représailles, mais où et comment ? Je n’en ai aucune idée. L’État d’Israël est largement responsable d’avoir semé la pratique des représailles, alors qu’il est puissance occupante depuis 1967 de divers territoires arabes et détient des milliers de prisonniers palestiniens et arabes d’autres nationalités, dont notamment des Libanais emprisonnés depuis trente ans, ce qui ne peut manquer d’alimenter le cycle des violences...."

.... terror "'inevitable consequence of Israeli occupation and laws that resemble South African apartheid" says UNHRC

Read the full report by South African John Dugard, here
"..... History is replete with examples of military occupation that have been resisted by violence - acts of terror. The German occupation was resisted by many European countries in the Second World War; the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) resisted South Africa’s occupation of Namibia; and Jewish groups resisted British occupation of Palestine - inter alia, by the blowing up of the King David Hotel in 1946 with heavy loss of life, by a group masterminded by Menachem Begin, who later became Prime Minister of Israel. Acts of terror against military occupation must be seen in historical context.... This is why every effort should be made to bring the occupation to a speedy end. Until this is done peace cannot be expected, and violence will continue. In other situations, for example Namibia, peace has been achieved by the ending of occupation, without setting the end of resistance as a precondition. Israel cannot expect perfect peace and the end of violence as a precondition for the ending of the occupation........"

Noam Chomsky & "Terrorists Wanted the World Over"

From Tomgram, here
"...........If, for a moment, we can adopt the perspective of the world, we might ask which criminals are "wanted the world over."

The 'New' Middle East: "...US should work towards 'compromise' rather than promote 'confrontation'....

Recommendations for US Policy: From Carnegie, here
".....The Bush administration narrative that sees Lebanon as the battleground between democracy and autocracy must be replaced by a more accurate perception of a deeply divided country where all factions invite outside intervention. The United States needs to work towards compromise in Lebanon, rather than promote confrontation, and realize that compromise includes accepting an armed Hizbollah and a degree of Syrian influence....."

The White House to Receive Convicted War Criminal Samir Geagea

(Thanks LR)

Washington, D.C., February 21, 2008 -

The George W. Bush Administration is set for an official meeting in March with a convicted Lebanese warlord, widely recognized for planning, ordering and committing war crimes that left permanent scars on the minds and bodies of thousands of Lebanese citizens. Mr. Samir Geagea was the leader of the "Lebanese Forces militia" during the Lebanese war that lasted from 1975 to 1990. His bloody history against the people and the national army of Lebanon has shaped Lebanon's modern history, leaving behind thousands of widows, orphans, handicapped and displaced people, as well as destroyed public and private property. If for any reason Samir Geagea should be in the United States, it should be to stand trial for his war crimes against the families and friends of many Lebanese-Americans who either lived or witnessed the Lebanese war.

As of 1994, Geagea was tried and convicted for four crimes – only a small portion of his long list of war crimes that we have listed below for your reference. He was convicted for:

1. The assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Mr. Rachid Karami

2. The assassination of a former leading figure in the Lebanese Forces militia, Elias Zayek

3. The assassination of Christian leader Dany Chamoun with his wife and two young children (ages 5 and 7)

4. The assassination attempt against Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of the Interior Michel Murr

[5. The cold blooded murder of Tony Frangieh, his wife and baby daughter and 35 hapless Lebanese***]

[6. Murder of Ghaith Khoury (head of the kataeb militia in Jbeil) and Emile Azzar (LF fighter)... And the assassination attempts of Fouad Abou Nader (LF commander) and ... Elie Hobeika.****]

[7. Geagea also killed Brigadier General Khalil Kanaan (Army officer) and Rizkallah (Razouk) Atik (LF fighter), brother of Hanna Atik (Hanoun, chef of the former Saddem elite LF unit) and tried to kill Assaad (Asso) Shaftari (the second of Elie Hobeika).****]

Zayek was a Christian leader who posed a threat to Geagea's dreams of the militia leadership. Dany Chamoun, son of late Lebanese President Camille Chamoun, was one of the most active and independent Christian leaders during the Syrian invasion of 1990, and was also a threat to Geagea's ambition of being the sole Christian leader. In 1990, Geagea commenced his collaboration with the brutal Syrian regime at the expense of the Lebanese people.

Although he was not convicted, Geagea was suspected of bombing the Maronite Catholic church of Saydet Najat in Jounieh, in which tens of worshipers were killed in 1994. The judges could not convict him "for insufficient evidence" as per the official verdict. Geagea was sentenced to death for his assassination crimes, and the sentence was later reduced to lifetime in prison.

Geagea only spent 11 years in jail, and was pardoned in a special bill passed by the Lebanese parliament on July 18, 2005. An interesting condition about this "special pardon" is that it not only included Geagea, but also included a score of Al Qaeda-inspired extremists who were captured after conducting terrorist attacks against the Lebanese army and civilians in 2001. Geagea's release is perceived by many people as a cover up and distraction for the release of these Islamist extremists.

A leader of a relatively insignificant political party, Geagea holds no public official or representative status. This criminal and insignificant party leader holds no official title or position in the Lebanese government to be received by the Bush Administration or the Republican Party.

To grant a US entry visa to a convicted war criminal such as Samir Geagea, and to permit him to defile the land of the free is not only against US law, but is also an unacceptable deed, and a great insult to the American people and to the values inherent in the American Constitution (Please see note below from Department of Homeland Security). Criminals such as Geagea should not set foot on the soil of the United States, not to mention that of the White House or the Capitol Building. The eyes that enjoyed gazing coldly at the grief of hundreds of thousands of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, grandfathers and grandmothers from all over the world, should never be allowed to look toward the home of the brave.

We trust that the Congress and the Administration of the United States will take the proper measures to put an end to this ill-conceived visit.

Thank you,

Lebanese Americans for Justice

[***addition by GPC, after a reader's reminder]

[**** addition II by GPC, after a reader's reminder:

"... sorry but you also forgot the assassinations of Ghaith Khoury (head of the kataeb militia in Jbeil) and Emile Azzar (LF fighter)... And the assassination attempts of Fouad Abou Nader (LF commander) and ... Elie Hobeika...."

[**** addition IIIby GPC, after a reader's reminder]

Nicholas Burns: Iran Nuclear Issue Will Not Be Resolved By Time Bush Leaves Office

Laura Rosen in MoJo, here

... "Hit or Miss?": The surprising Economics of assassination ...

Via AbouMuqawamah, Michael Moynihan reviews in the American, here
"....Olken and Jones discovered that a country was “more likely to see democratization follow­ing the assassination of an autocratic leader,” but found no substantial “effect following assassinations—or assassination attempts—on democratic leaders.” They concluded that “on average, successful assassinations of autocrats produce sustained moves toward democracy.” The researchers also found that assassinations have no effect on the inauguration of wars, a result that “suggests that World War I might have begun regardless of whether or not the attempt on the life of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 had succeeded or failed.”

Monday, February 25, 2008

Condeleeza "Ra I-Su" ... "a pear flower with surpassing beauty"

Read here"
"In creating her Korean name, we hope that Korea and the United States will strengthen their alliance and partnership," Seo Jin-seob, 77, head of the society, said after delivering the paper inscription of her name to the U.S. embassy in Seoul..."

Israel and Hizballah on High Alert

Nicholas Blanford in TIME, here
".... These guys are very ready for war," says Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Hizballah expert with the Carnegie Endowment's Middle East Center in Beirut. But not everyone in south Lebanon is ready for another round with Israel. Many residents of the battle-scarred south are still repairing the damage of the 2006 war and the notion of another conflict striking the region is not welcomed, even among some Hizballah supporters. "God bless Nasrallah and the resistance. They have fought and sacrificed for Lebanon. But we are tired of wars and just want to raise our children in peace,..................................Yet every time Israel has used a heavy hand in Lebanon in the past, it resulted in increased support for Hizballah"
... and yet..!

Pervez Musharraf to step down?

Ansari in the Telegraph, here
"He has already started discussing the exit strategy for himself," a close friend said. "I think it is now just a matter of days and not months because he would like to make a graceful exit on a high."

Saudi Columnist Laments Expulsion of Christians from Arab Countries

This piece was commissioned by the Archdiocese of Riyadh!!! And Egypt, Saudi Arabia & Bahrein (ALL Constitutional Democracies), call on the Lebanese to "elect a President ASAP"....!!!
MEMRI, bless their hearts, has a translation of Al Sharq Al Awsat's story, here

(At the behest of Gran' Mufti Qabbani, Lebanese Salafis "descended" on the Christian Borough of Achrafieh ... and went on a "Cartoon" rampage...")


Via MESH, from MERIA, here
"....The targeting of IDF armored forces in the Wadi Saluqi area, with resultant heavy IDF losses, received much publicity.... A ceasefire came into effect at 8:00 a.m. on August 14, 2006, following the passing of UN Resolution 1701. The end of the fighting found some IDF forces deployed at the Litani River, but with Israel far from control of the entire area between the river and the Israeli-Lebanese border. Symbolic of this was Hizballah's continued ability to fire short-range missiles into Israel
Hence, according to the "military critique," the IDF needed to reorder its priorities, abandon the idea that wars could be won "on the cheap" through air power and special forces alone, and begin to pour resources back into winning wars ..."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Assassination Is A Two-Edged Sword

In the WaPo/Newsweek, Melman & Raviv write this, here
".... But when a country encounters a highly motivated, solidified and structured terrorist group, killing its senior members proves to be counter-productive. The dead are soon replaced by members who are sometimes more skillful and more determined......... by assassinating him, Israel took a huge risk. The Middle East is already volatile, with Lebanon on the verge of a civil war and Iran's growing appetite for nuclear weapons. This development may sink the region into a new vicious and bloody circle of tit for tat...."

"Arab MKs 'a fifth column'"

Read more in YNETnews, here

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Turkey's Iraq Incursion: Barzani Draws the Line

In the World Politics Review, here
"... For Turkey, it's a fine line to walk, since the PKK is a guerilla group with popular support in the area. But the fact that the Peshmerga stepped in to keep the Turkish forces on their "observer" bases suggests that Barzani means business."
President George W. Bush welcomes Massoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan regional government of Iraq, to the Oval Office at the White House, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2005. White House photo by Eric Draper

"...En dépit des derniers incidents, qui sont le reflet de la tension sur le terrain, on se retrouve dans une sorte de guerre froide larvée ..."

Simon Abi Ramia (CPL) talks to my friend Scarlett Haddad writes in L'Orient Le Jour, here
"....Alors, c’est l’impasse totale ? Abi Ramia répond par l’affirmative, tout en précisant qu’en dépit des derniers incidents, qui sont le reflet de la tension sur le terrain, on se retrouve dans une sorte de guerre froide larvée. Selon lui, les incidents resteront limités, car une guerre civile suppose la volonté chez les dirigeants de la mener. Or ceux de l’opposition ont défini clairement les lignes rouges : pas de guerre civile."

Is Iran Winning the Iraq War?

From the Dreyfuss Report, here

FOX News: "More people think Ben Laden wants Obama to win ..."

..."more people" like who? Fox ... tsk tsk tsk, here

Mohamad Safadi in Damascus ...

... as Lebanon's (delegate) Minister of Energy, met with Syrian Prime Minster Al Ottri and with Turkey & Jordan's Minsters of Energy to discuss the "fourfold gas connection".

In Iraq, Saddam Hussein's old guard remains on fringes

In the CSM, here

"The Myth of the Surge"

My friend Nir Rosen writes this long essay in RollingStone, here

iraqi militia military surge iraq war baghdad us military photo gallery Photo

(A father cares for his daughter after shed fainted when US soldiers of Eagle Company, 2-2 Stryker Cavalry Regiment entered the house )

Friday, February 22, 2008

"Palestinian naval strike"

(A Palestinian man hurls stones at Israeli troops (unseen) during a violent protest against Israel's security fence, Feb. 22, 2008, where it cuts off Palestinian farmers from their land at the West Bank village of Bil'in. Hundreds of villagers backed up by foreign and left-wing Israeli supporters marked three years of demonstrations against Israel's controversial barrier.) FP/Passport, here

New IAEA Report Says Iran Answers Some Questions, Still Has Others to Answer

In pdf. here and comment by Laura Rosen, here
".... I confess it would take me a very long time and several dictionaries to penetrate its highly technical language. So I turned to one of the smartest nonproliferation experts I know, Jacqueline Shire, a senior fellow with the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), for highlights. "I think that paragraphs 35-42 are the most negative for Iran," Shire says, "Though the IAEA would say that they are just now receiving the info from the US necessary for confronting/challenging Iran's claims of fabrication."
The paragraphs Shire points to are in a section of the IAEA report called "Alleged Studies." They describe in dry, bullet-point form and highly technical language a quiet drama: how IAEA officials in late January and early February presented information handed over after a battle getting it from the U.S. government that concern questions of something called the so-called "Green Salt Project" and an alleged Iranian nuclear laptop that the US government obtained. Iran in turn called some of that American-sourced evidence "fabrications," on other points, the IAEA said it was still awaiting an Iranian response...."

Why Lebanon hasn't slipped into civil war ...

Helena Cobban in the CSM, here
".... But we should also note that inside Lebanon, Hizbullah and many other factions have all worked hard together to defuse potential points of conflict. They did this in late January after clashes between Lebanese Army troops and Shiite groups protesting price hikes. And they did it again this week, after turf clashes erupted between Shiites and Sunnis in southwest Beirut ...."
قباني وقبلان وحسن خلال لقائهم في المجلس الإسلامي الشيعي الأعلى أمس (وائل اللادقي)
(... and in This corner Gran Mufti M Rashid "Slugger" Qabbani ... and in this corner Shaykh Aql "South Paw" Hassan ....)

The 'known unknowns' of the Mugniyah killing

In the AsiaTimes, here

"...The new titans are coming to the rescue, if that's the right word for their mortgage on America's future"

Ignatius in the WaPo, here

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"....The assassination of Mughniyeh should be seen as an alternative to a large-scale war, and not a prelude to one..."

Seale, here, ...and Friday-Lunch-Club, (February14th) here
Seale's 'take':
"...Although such killings run the risk of provoking revenge attacks, the Israeli calculation may be that such a risk is worth taking, compared to the inevitable losses that would be incurred by a major military operation, not to speak of the missile threat to the civilian population of northern Israel.
If this analysis is correct, the assassination of Mughniyeh should be seen as an alternative to a large-scale war, and not a prelude to one -- as many Arabs fear. Israel is seeking to deter Hizbullah not to provoke it into another conflict on the scale of the ill-fated 2006 war...."
Lunch-Club's 'take:
...... folks in the region seem to believe that taking out Mughniyeh ushered a period of (in the words of a "friend")"tasfiyat" (liquidations). This of course (again, in the mind of this same source) has once and for all, ruled out the possibility of a "conventional" large scale attack on either Iran &/or Syria, ... and the nature of the hit (Mughnieh) meant to say just that! It is believed that the "discounted" Fath El Islam (& co.) are not operating according to a "purely takfiri-salafi" agenda BUT according to the "dictates" of the struggle in the region. Look for M14 to continue slognaeering and sectarian (ultra-nationalist) mobilization (s) in the hope that a "reduced & controlled" crisis would warrant a large scale foreign intervention. look for saudi-syrian relations to stoke differences further, and look .... for a major campaign of "scalping" to encompasse the whole Levant (perhaps furher in the ... Gulf!) GPC

Plan to assassinate Aoun & Frangieh

General Michel Aoun & fmr. Minister Suleiman Frangieh ... received stern warnings from their 'liaisons' with Hezbollah, that the later has clear evidence that they are targeted by the same "consortium" that killed Gen. Francois El Hajj in Baabda & Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus ... as part of a plan to further isolate Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Africa 'adores' George Bush

America's Heart of Darkness: Comments on "Taxi to the Dark Side"

From Steve Clemons, here
"....There are a number of films out now capturing the dark side of our times and lives. While mass media seems to be becoming more and more homogenized and trapped in confines of political agenda, independent films are becoming an increasingly important part of our civil society and democracy.....
Corsetti and many soldiers in his unit were charged with crimes by military prosecutors when the Pentagon realized that Dilawar's death could no longer be covered up. They were to be the fall guys taking the hit for the disturbing interrogation techniques and sinister prison ecosystem cultivated by commanders above. As Taxi to the Dark Side recounts, many of these young people did some short prison time....
Gibney, Corsetti, Wilkerson, Sheehan, and others in Taxi get what is right and what was terribly, astonishingly wrong in America's proscution of the war and management of people taken into custody. And now they want to help Americans see into what was done -- and work to correct it....
Recently Corsetti sent me this email:

Mr. Clemons this is Damien Corsetti we meet at the screening for taxi to the dark side I found your card in my wallet yesterday and remembered you wanted me to contact you. Please pardon my tardiness, just wanted to let you know that I would be happy to help the cause in any way possible.

US 'permanent' bases in the Middle East

In the WaPo, "Pause in Iraq? Try Permanent Bases in the Region", here
"....This isn't some conspiracy to install "permanent bases" in Iraq. What is unfolding is much more insidious...."

.... and Barak to Assad: We'll escalate fight against Hizbullah....

In YNetnews, here

Walid Junblatt's 'Defiance' .....

In the Guardian, here
Walid Junblatt

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

McClatchy's Exclusive: U.S. urges Pakistanis to keep Musharraf, despite election defeat ".....U.S. officials, from President Bush on down, said this week that they think Musharraf, a longtime U.S. ally, should continue to play a role, despite his party's rout in parliamentary elections Monday and his unpopularity in the volatile, nuclear-armed nation................... The U.S. is urging the Pakistani political leaders who won the elections to form a new government quickly and not press to reinstate the judges whom Musharraf ousted last year, Western diplomats and U.S. officials said Wednesday. If reinstated, the jurists likely would try to remove Musharraf from office...............Bush's policy of hanging on to Musharraf has caused friction between the White House and the State Department, with some career diplomats and other specialists arguing that the administration is trying to buck the political tides in Pakistan, U.S. officials said ....."

Israel did not know it was Mughniyeh, until Hezbollah announced it ...

.... not that it changes much, but according to a very good source, the Israelis knew they had a "big fish" at hand, but did not know it was Imad Mughniyeh until Hezbollah announced it in Beirut ... This should allow for a decrease in "mental masturbation"... (and as much as I hate to lead you to a link on Al Arabiya, I just thought that Anis Naqqash's 'personal take' on IM was worth the heresy... Thank you for forgiving me! here!)

Syria May Pay Price for Killing

Hendawi, in the Orlando Sentinel, here
"... President Bashar Assad boasts that Damascus is "the capital of resistance," a claim borne out by the presence here of Hamas leaders and a host of other radical Palestinian groups.
But the killing of Imad Mughniyeh, one of America's most-wanted fugitives, in the Syrian capital shows how costly the regime's traditional hospitality toward Arab hard-liners can be.
"The Syrian security agencies have a lot of explaining to do as to how a hit like this could be carried out in a city that's remarkably secure," said Jon Alterman, head of the Middle East program at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies..."

Al-Sadr Threatens to End Cease-Fire

AP via Huffington, here

Syria: Kuwait Jumps the Queue

From OBG, here
"...According to the state's official news agency, Kuwaiti investments in Syria now total $6bn, with bilateral trade jumping 30% last year to $350m..."

Former MOSSAD chief Efraim Halevy explains why he advocates talks with Hamas

Laura Rosen interviews Mossad's former Boss Halevy, as he advocates "talks with Hamas", here

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

U.S. strikes within Pakistan — without notice ... A MODEL FOR OPERATIONS!

In the WaPo, here

Lebanon awaits the debacle ...and Siniora meets Al Faisal after his Oval Office stint...

Non-civilian sources in Beirut, confirmed (and believe) that the a major & "nasty conflagration" (whatever that means and however it looks) between Hezbollah & Israel is at that stage, a "given" .... But I am also told that internally Hezbollah is looking to the FUTURE movement of Saad Hariri and its newly "equipped & trained" cadres AND THEIR "newly found friends in the SALAFI movement... to play a role once the bullets start flying. While people looked to the 2 "Js" (Jumblatt & Jea'jea') as the most likely candidates to provide the internal Praetorians, it is seemingly the men of the FUTURE movement (and their "assembled and assorted militias" including Fath El Islam & the likes ) who will provide the "cover" for an all out assault ...

UK police refrained from arresting Israeli general fearing shootout with ELAL's security

From the BBC, here
"... Major General (res.) Doron Almog was tipped off about plans to arrest him after he landed in London on September 11, 2005 and refused to get off his plane, staying on board for two hours before returning to Israel.
Palestinian campaigners had lobbied police to arrest him when he traveled to Britain over allegations that he ordered the destruction of more than 50 homes in the Gaza Strip. A British judge had granted an arrest warrant...."

Hasta Siempre Fidel ....

(Message from "The Commander in Chief" here)

Concerns over 'shrinking' UNIFIL...

In the JerusalemPost, here

Monday, February 18, 2008

Turkey readies for "comprehensive" ground operation

In the Turkish ZAMAN, here

Sa'ud Al-Faisal's "visits" aimed at thwarting the Arab League summit in Damascus & internationalizing the Lebanon crisis?

MEMRI, here and here via War&piece "Saudi FX remains unchanged" here
"...A knowledgeable Syrian source has said that Saudi Foreign Minister Sa'ud Al-Faisal's visit to Russia and France is aimed at thwarting the Arab League summit, meant to take place in Damascus at the end of next month.
The source also said that the visit was aimed at internationalizing the Lebanon crisis.
Also, Arab diplomatic sources said that Saudi Arabia refused to approve a visit by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mu'alem to the kingdom, during which he had intended to give Saudi King Abdullah an invitation to the summit...."

Al Akhbar: "Mughniyeh's assassination is a prelude to an Israeli assault on Lebanon, Syria & Palestine"

Ibrahim Al Amine writes in Al Akhbar, here'
".... A 'report', originated in Moscow speaks of "US Administration Lunacy, committing the worst". Same has been discussed with representatives of IMPORTANT regional powers (KSA?) on US 'Obsession' with Iran, Syria & the insurgencies across the region."
"....Palestinian forces, opposed to the PA speak of a US-Israeli "Cellule Noire", with primary task of removing certain personalities in order to facilitate the "phase ahead in the Palestinian territories."
".... Same applies to Lebanon: An 'unscheduled" trip by a non-civilian representative of a 'key Arab country' to Lebanon (met with pro-government & opposition forces) and relayed to Hezbollah that the "ordre du jour" was to liquidate Hamas & Hezbollah leaders in Beirut & ... Damascus."
".... A Key Lebanese non-civilian 'organizations' completed a file on Jordanian active participation in the training & excution of elements & operations. (with names of Jordanian Officers)"
".... A Key personality in the 'Office of Mahmood Abbas' relays information on contacts between Lebanese & Israeli sides, .... with trickling logistical support through the Iraqi semi autonomous territories ... with key roles of certain US security companies, extending beyond 'perscribed' responsabilities."
".... A senior French intelligence official relayed to 'key Arab players' that the situation in Lebanon has become "most fluid" .... with possibilities of serious repercussion on the Syrian security stage ...with mounting pressures on the Regime in Damascus, with "off the shelf" US-EU-UN sanctions ... The French Senior Intelligence official added that "Mughniyeh's hit should not only be seen as part of an Israel-Hezbollah struggle, ... that any such operation did go through a political & security approval (by the United States) not only because of the repercussions ... but to put the operation in ITS PROPER CONTEXT."
Al Amine (who is close to the Hezbollah Leadership) finished with the fact that "Hassan Nasrallah visited Mughniyeh's grave the night of February 14, read a verse from the Koran, and pledged to Mughniyeh:"You don't need a pledge from me ... I promise you we will leave them no time for regrets!"

Bracing for Revenge

Yediot's Ronan Bergman writes in the NYTimes, here
"...... Only the severest of countermeasures by the intelligence services of Israel and the United States will prevent last week’s assassination, justified as it was, from costing a vastly disproportionate price in blood."
NO, Mr Bergman. Hezbollah will not carry out attacks in the United States. You're trying too hard! However. this, without Bergman's added bonus, IS GOING to BE A ROUGH, VERY ROUGH, RIDE for Israel!
Andrew Exum writes this in "Abou Muqawama", You honestly think Hizbollah is going to carry out an assassination operation or terror attack within the United States? Really? Let's go over several of the reasons why this could happen but is decidedly not likely..." more here

"America the Illiterate"

Pat Lang after a long absence, here

...More on Al Faisal's 'unpublicized' visit to Washington ...

From Laura Rozen, here
"........ Lebanon? Talking to Russia might mean something there, since so much of Lebanese policy has gone through the Security Council. Iran? Could be."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Let Beirut Burn, They Say ...

In Counterpunch, here
"Ha'aretz correspondent Avi Issacharoff, in his book Spider Webs - The Story of the Second Lebanon War (to be published in the United States as 34 Days: Israel, Hezbollah and the War In Lebanon) says:
"For the first time, we revealthat moderate Arab states and the people close to the Lebanese government have conveyed messages to the Israeli government via different sides demanding Israel continue the war until Hezbollah was completely crushed."

Displaced Iraqis

Kurds impose limits on where Arabs can live in Iraq's north

.... lovely .... "BIG BROTHER" Kurdish style! ....... In McClatchy's here
"We have to know who they are," he said. "Kurdistan is part of Iraq, but at the same time we need someone from here to sponsor them, to say, 'I know this person and I'm going to be responsible.' ...It's to keep the security situation very strong and stop terrorists from coming to Kurdistan."

On Saud Al Faisal's Washington 'visit'

Laura Rosen asks in War&Piece, here ... and reader "b" alluded to this piece in the Russian Kommersant on Al Faisal's trip to Moscow, here
" ...Saud Al Faisal was probably in DC for all of the reasons speculated....[to] discuss Lebanon, Iran, Palestine, etc. but I've also read that we are asking/insisting? on oil profits being reinjected back into our economy pronto. The recession, you see. Only Allah knows."

Hillary and the Fork

In Mojo, here
In the wake of Obama's 10-in-row sweep, cutting, for the first time across all demographic lines, came this from Newsweek's Howard Fineman, spoken in the wee small hours last night on MSNBC:
"It is highly unlikely that Hillary Clinton is going to finish the primary season with a lead in pledged delegates. It is virtually impossible. The goal for her is to somehow lessen the difference in the number of delegates to like 30-200. If it's a small number, this may be a pipe dream, they will argue that they can use the super delegates to make up the difference. But the bigger that number is, the more difficult that is to do... and risks a storm inside the Democratic party." It's time for Hillary to get out the knives for Bam. More likely, the voters will get out the fork.
Hillary and the Fork

Israeli intelligence: "Headrest of Mughniey's car seat contained a small high-explosive charge ..."

In the SundayTimes, here

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nasrallah-Aoun: Putting a face to the other

In Al Ahram Weekly, here
".... Regardless of what Aoun and Nasrallah represent politically, these are two men who have come a long way. Like few before them, they each decided to give up a little, to find common ground, and to take it from there. They say their ultimate goal is to build a country where the citizen is king. This is what they explicitly said last Wednesday...."

"Amal" & "Future" mobs fight it off in Beirut everyday occurence but with alarmingly increasing tempo and magnitude ...Al Jazeera, here

the Palestinianization of Sinai and the Lebanonization of Egypt

Lee Smith writes in SLATE in "The End Of Pax Americana" here
"................A more troubling scenario, for both Israel and Egypt, is with Palestinians and others heading into Egypt. Egypt's state-security apparatus will do everything in its power—even "breaking legs," as the Egyptian foreign minister warned—to prevent Islamist fighters from going south, especially to Cairo.........The Egyptians say they want to add another 750 troops to their contingent in the Sinai—a plan backed by Washington and resisted by many Israeli officials—otherwise, they say, they have little control over what happens in Sinai, just as the Lebanese government can't rein in Hezbollah. .......The Israelis are only a little more open about their fears of Iran than the Sunni states are.............The White House never quite recovered from the winter 2006 Palestinian Authority elections that resulted in a victory for Hamas. That unwitting empowerment of a terrorist organization helped create the world's first Muslim Brotherhood state, an Islamic emirate on the Eastern Mediterranean, which is making the decades-old Pax Americana seem vulnerable."

Michel Sleiman offers his condolences ..

Michel Sleiman told his 'hosts' today that he believes that Mughnieh's killers are the same as those who assassinated Gen. Francois El Hajj (Purpose/method & timing) Al Balad here...and ...........Ali Hashem writes at the BBC, "When a Shadow Dies", here

Olmert may declare IDF reservists abducted by Hizbullah, dead

... this of course would apparently rrelieve Olmert from the heavy burden of 'minding' the parameters of the conflict in case he is 'compelled' to a stern reaction to any Hezbollah retaliation to Mughniyeh's death- Classic! .....In YNETnews, here and here, "Olmert extends Mossad chief's tenure" for a second time!

France and the Middle East: Nicolas Sarkozy's Nuclear Option

Judah Grunstein via War&Piece, here
"... But Sarkozy's emphasis on nuclear energy is not only a method of containing Iran. As the French official went on to explain, it also represents a "reaffirmation of French influence, through a sector where France excels..."

US Secretly Met Iran Banking Officials

Via War&Piece, in the WaPo, here and in AP, here

Friday, February 15, 2008

Suspects detained in Mugniyeh assassination ...

In Al Akhbar, here and YNetnew, here

Le Liban vit «une période d’escalade entre les élites des deux camps»

In Liberation, here

Irrational Syria Hostility

In the WashingtonIndependent, here
Monday February 11: Gen. Petraeus:
".... The flow of foreign militants entering Iraq to fight for al Qaeda has fallen by half, General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, said on Monday.
Much of the fall in numbers was due to countries barring young men from flying to the Syrian cities of Damascus and Aleppo on one-way tickets, said Petraeus.
The U.S. government has long urged Syria to take steps to stop foreign fighters crossing its long land border with Iraq. Damascus says it has stepped up security on the frontier after the U.S. criticism.
"The flow of fighters is down, we think by about 50 percent," Petraeus told Reuters in an interview.
"It’s a result not just of Syrian activity, although there has been some. It’s the result of source countries making it tougher to fly as a military age male," he added....."
Bush widens sanctions on Damascus ............

Saudi rulers see "the opportunities that existed if the Arab world and Israel could work together"

In the JerusalemPost, here
"To that list we must now add the name of Prince Turki. He recently attended a conference in Germany on the Middle East in which another former senior intelligence official, Yossi Alpher of the Mossad, participated ..."

Did someone say "Yellow-cake-Niger-Viales"? U.S. to Produce Data on Iran’s Nuclear Program

As Haifa would say "Bouss il Wawa", in the NYTimes here

Saudi rulers threatened Brits to burn London unless corruption investigation halted

The Guardian, here and via War&Piece, some of the court documents (.pdf) and highlighted excerpts, here
"...Saudi Arabia's rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed yesterday.
Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.
Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE..."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Je ne serrerai pas la main de gens qui refusent l’existence de l’Etat d’Israël"

At the traditional dinner of the CRIF (Conseil des Institutions Juives en France) here
« Je ne serrerai pas la main de gens qui refusent l’existence de l’Etat d’Israël ». En prononçant cette phrase, le président français pensait au dirigeant iranien [et autres?] à propos duquel il considère que l’enrichissement de l’uranium est inutile dans ce pays. Toutefois, il précise que « ce serait une grave erreur de croire que le nucléaire civil soit réservé à l’Occident ».

Lunch-Club's 'take' ...

...... folks in the region seem to believe that taking out Mughniyeh ushered a period of (in the words of a "friend")"tasfiyat" (liquidations). This of course (again, in the mind of this same source) has once and for all, ruled out the possibility of a "conventional" large scale attack on either Iran &/or Syria, ... and the nature of the hit (Mughnieh) meant to say just that! It is believed that the "discounted" Fath El Islam (& co.) are not operating according to a "purely takfiri-salafi" agenda BUT according to the "dictates" of the struggle in the region. Look for M14 to continue slognaeering and sectarian (ultra-nationalist) mobilization (s) in the hope that a "reduced & controlled" crisis would warrant a large scale foreign intervention. look for saudi-syrian relations to stoke differences further, and look .... for a major campaign of "scalping" to encompasse the whole Levant (perhaps furher in the ... Gulf!). GPC

Organizers: 2.5 (or more) Millions Lebanese flock to M14 Anniversary ...

(bastardly foreign dispatchers talk of mere thousands! Do I sense M14 media fatigue? Do I sense M14 bubble-burst? )

Bob Baer: On Mughnieh's bomb... Damascus' cost for such is US$200,000 ... goes off as requested...

To believe Baer, (email) you must believe in Leprechauns!
He sent Laura Rosen this email:
"An old friend of mine. Friend may not be the word. Anyhow the Israelis persuaded him to set off a car bomb in a Damascus bus station. He used the Guardians of the Cedars, paid them something like $200,000. Bomb went off as requested. Point two is Syria these days is completely corrupt, you buy what you want."

They don't have the operational capacity..(the stomach) or intelligence capacity. It is unlikely that anyone in Lebanon has anything to do with this"

Eli Lake in the NY Sun, here

On Syria: A Question for Barack and Hillary

Steve Clemons asks "presidential hopefuls if they agree with the President's action against Syria or not? If so, why? If not, what reasons would they as President use to undo our counter this action............."I'll give you my answer" says Clemons. "Bush's move is reckless -- and threatens to add further stress to a region that is wondering whether Bush's initiative to achieve some kind of Israel/Palestine deal is real or contrived. ............Syria must be a party to any arrangement with the broader Arab world -- and thus far, Syria has been on the whole reasonably behaved with regard to Israel. When Israel attacked some warehouses that Seymour Hersh argues were not nuclear weapons related, Syria restrained itself from attacking back and did not unleash agents into Israel to create domestic strife....................But beyond that, I have no idea if terrorists are really moving between Iraq and Syria or not -- but I do know that the Syrian government itself sees zero benefit to hosting insurgents or Islamic radicals in its country. The Syrian government is as worried about the impact of anti-government Islamist militancy within its borders as Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf states...." Read more, here


Retaliation fears ..

In the Washington Independent, here and the CSM, here

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

French Minister Pierre Joxe 'tips' the Iranians about a CIA's request to arrest Mughnieh at Orly

... as it happened, France was unwilling to sustain the consequences of having him arrested on their territory .... According to Remy Poutrelle (DST), Joxe (and Mitterand) hoped to cultivate Tehran's favor .... In AsSafir, here

Al Majali: "Sharon planned the invasion of Jordan in 2003"

In the Jordanian Al Ghad, here

Richard Labeviere: "The untold story behind UNSC Res. 1559"

In Al Akhbar, here

Bush imposes new sanctions on Syria

AP, here
"... The White House said the [executive] order built on one Bush issued in May 2004 that banned all U.S. exports to Syria except for food and medicine. His earlier action followed long-standing complaints that the Middle Eastern nation was supporting terrorism and undermining U.S. efforts in Iraq..."

CIA's Bruce Riedel: "Mossad behind Mugniyah killing"

In YNetnews, here

Bush trying to entangle NATO allies in Lebanese strife?

Helena Cobban, here
"......I was trying to think through why the Bush White House and its Lebanese allies have been acting in such a provocative, escalatory way in Lebanon in recent weeks. There is no way the pro-US forces in Lebanon could ever hope to "win" a civil war if the country should indeed be tipped over the brink into one ..... Then it struck me. There are 15,000 UN troops, most of them from NATO countries, currently deployed in the south of the country; and most of them aren't doing very much there. (The peace is kept between Israel and Hizbullah much more by the deterrent power that they exert towards each other than by UNIFIL's lightly armed peacekeepers, as I wrote here, a long time ago.) But if a civil war should suddenly threaten to engulf the whole of Lebanon, maybe the Bushists would seek to get UNIFIL's mandate suddenly enlarged, so that its troops could intervene at short notice, and in support of the Lebanese side that the Bushists judge to be "legitimate"?...."

"Lebanon's new proxy force"

Via AngryArab, an editorial in ElectronicLebanon, here

(A poster showing Sa'ad Hariri with his father Rafik Hariri hangs above the street in one of Beirut's pro-March 14 neighborhoods)

... Syria's 'opposition'...

.... trust WINEP's Schenker to hit the Iron while hot with a not so hot piece in the Weekly Standard, .... he's not far behind "Mighniyeh's Death" in the Syrian capital .... in "Silencing the Opposition", here

"A Whodunnit?"

A Fmr. CIA official's take:
"Don't be sure Mughniyah wasn't finished by Hezbollah or Syria himself, a former CIA officer with Mid East experience told me in an interview this morning. "He's an embarrassment for them," the former officer told me. "Hezbollah's public line is that he is not associated with them and they have no American blood on their hands. They say that when they get together with anyone trying to talk to them. And it's full of shit. It's a lie. They are a terrorirst organization."
"The Syrians might have done it themselves to cleanse them of a problem," when they are trying to improve their footing with Washington, the former officer said. Alternatively, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah might have considered Mugniyah a nuissance, he said......About one thing he was sure: "I know goddamn well we didn't do it," the former CIA officer said. "Because it's too good of an operation. If we did it, it would be fifteen years in the making, and there'd be video surveillance from Washington to make sure no bystanders get hurt. I'm serious. It's fucking ludicrous."
More Here

Imad Mughnieh Dead in Blast

Reuters: Here ..and Andrew Exum has this to say on MESH, here
"... For researchers such as myself, Mughniyah was of great interest because he represented a constant figure in Hezbollah throughout its evolution from an Iranian-backed Lebanese militia in the 1980s to a nationalist insurgent group in the 1990s and finally to its current incarnation as the most powerful political party in Lebanon—both in terms of weapons and popular support.
The timing of the assassination, from the perspective of Lebanese of all political stripes, could not have been worse. Tomorrow, after all, is the anniversary of the assassination of a great figure on the other side of Lebanon’s current political divide, former prime minister Rafik Hariri. One hopes that calm heads will prevail and that any ostentatious rallies in Hariri’s honor are postponed. At last year’s mass rally, ugly sectarian chants broke out, and surely given Beirut’s current tension, such chants could easily devolve into open violence.
This past week, Lebanon’s leaders once again irresponsibly postponed the election of a new president. So the assassination of Imad Mughniyah has taken place within a political environment that is, still, on a razor’s edge. If this year’s assassination and the memory of another lead Lebanon down a short path to civil war, Lebanon’s sectarian leaders will have only themselves to blame."