Rumours and warnings

‘Nasrallah accused his Lebanese opponents of hedging their bets before an imminent war. “I regret to tell you that some parties in the pro-government group have again started to reassure their cadres and leadership that an imminent war will eliminate Hizbullah and the opposition forces,” Nasrallah said. Those sides banked on the destruction of the Shia military and political group, which is backed by Syria and Iran, in Israel’s destructive 2006 bombardment, he said. “They mentioned April, May and June. Therefore, they are not in a hurry and are not ready for any political settlement, regardless of the concessions made by the opposition. Their American master announced his rejection of the Arab initiative but they made no comment,” Nasrallah told the crowds in the southern suburbs.’
The same article, by Lucy Fielder in the Egyptian al-Ahram, quotes Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Hizbullah expert at the Carnegie Endowment Middle East Centre in Beirut: ‘”If there is another war it will be regional this time. I would say we’re even going to see backers of elements of 14 March supporting Israel.” Saad-Ghorayeb cited travel warnings issued by Saudi Arabia, then Bahrain and Kuwait to their citizens against coming to Lebanon as a possible sign of wider Arab knowledge that security would deteriorate further in Lebanon. Pro-opposition press reports over the past week have suggested Arab intelligence involvement in stirring up some of the clashes in Beirut. Saudi Arabia is a main backer of Al-Hariri and the “14 March” ruling movement.’
The US has followed suit today by urging its citizens to leave Lebanon or to ‘take care that they maintain a low profile in public and avoid predictable or habitual behavior.’ Meanwhile, they are replacing the USS Cole with 6 other vessels, including the USS Nassau – but there is something weird about this: ‘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.’

You gotta love this guy: ex-MP Nassir Qandil, of the M8-variety, is one of the most imaginative conspiracy-hunters in this country where everybody is obsessed with hunting conspiracies. I wrote in a previous post about his last claim, where he predicted a civil war would be started by M14 on Martyr’s Square on 14th of February. In this one, the actual plan isn’t even that far-fetched or unlikely – it’s the man’s eye for detail that really makes it a killer: ‘Qandil, addressing a news conference at his Beirut office, claimed that Washington, Riyadh, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea have a plan to assassinate Aoun by a “tomahawk missile that would target Rabiyeh simultaneously with the explosion of booby trapped cars to imply that a suicide attack has targeted the FPM leader. The attack would be blamed on a radical Islamist group like Fatah al-Islam.” He warned the Americans against “implementing this crazy adventure, because the price would be yes to open war on American presence and American interests … not just in Lebanon but throughout the Arab world.” Qandil made a direct threat to the U.S. Embassy in suburban Aukar, north of Beirut, saying its “stones would be in danger if Gen. Aoun was subjected to any harm in line with the plan being prepared by Walid Jumblat” charging that Geagea has left for the United States to “set up the base for implementing it.”


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