December 8, 2006 | World Defense Review

Hezbollah Offensive in Lebanon: Days One, Two, and Three


After serious warnings delivered by Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah since early November, the generalized offensive to bring down the Cedars Revolution-backed Government has begun. As of the early hours of Friday December 1, 2006, thousands of Hezbollah members and pro-Syrian militants took the streets of Beirut, hurdling from all Lebanese areas. The demonstrators started a series of sit-ins around the offices of Prime Minister Fuad Seniora and in other surrounding neighborhoods and public places to “suffocate the cabinet into resignation or collapse” as Lebanese sources said. Following are bullet points to be updated as events will develop:

Hezbollah's “army”

Hezbollah has mobilized all its membership as well as all persons on payrolls of the organization and in the various bureaucracies controlled by the pro-Iranian militia. In addition, the entire pro-Syrian movements in the country such as the Baath, National-Socialist Syrian Party, and politicians such as Michel Aoun, Omar Karame, Sleiman Frangieh and others. Added to this list, pro-Syrian and Jihadi elements from the Palestinian camps in Lebanon. And since the Lebanese-Syrian borders haven't been sealed by a multinational force, loads of buses carrying members of the Syrian Baath, have been crossing the international frontier to join the anti-Government rally. The total number of the participants would be calculated as equivalent to the pro-Syrian March 8, 2005 demonstration led by Hezbollah then plus an undetermined number of Palestinian and Syrian elements. And since General Aoun shifted from the Cedars Revolution to an open alliance with Hezbollah few months ago, a number of his hard-core followers are expected to join the crowd.

Hezbollah's objectives

The political objectives of the “offensive” is to paralyze the Fuad Seniora Government from performing the following tasks: One, is to block the passing of the international tribunal (in the Hariri assassination) law in the Lebanese Parliament in the next two weeks. The Syrian-Iaranian strategy is to block the meetings of the Lebanese cabinet and the Lebanese legislative assembly for as long as needed to crumble this bill. Two, is to force the Seniora cabinet to resign or to accept the inclusion of pro-Syrian ministers so that any decision to disarm Hezbollah would be killed inside the Government. Three, is to crumble the UNSCR 1559 and the relations between Lebanon and the United Nations in general and the US and France in particular. In short a return of the Syrian-Iranian domination in Lebanon.

Media tactics

The media campaign by Hezbollah and its allies worldwide focuses on portraying the “battle” as one between an “opposition” and a “Government,” while in reality it is between an Iranian-backed militia receiving $300 millions annually and has about 20,000 missile on the one hand and a democratically selected Government by a democratically elected Parliament in which Hezbollah and its allies are a minority. And to break up he international unity behind the Cedars Revolution, the “axis” is directing its operatives and supporters worldwide to state that the demonstrations are “anti-American,” and when possible anti-Bush. While in reality the US legislation known as “Syrian accountability act” was launched by Democrats in 2003, and that the UNSCR 1559 was initiated by France and that the international investigation missions were headed by a German then a Belgian judges, nevertheless the “architects” of the Syro-Iranian “offensive” in Lebanon want the international media to use the words “anti-American” protests instead of pro-Syrian or pro-Iranian moves. Indeed the war of words will determine how the events will be framed in the next few days and weeks. For many in the international media elite haven't yet “digested” the fact that the Cedars Revolution has risen without an American support in money or military aid. And that the Lebanese democracy movement is genuinely indigenous, with left wing and right wing united against a “foreign occupier,” the Syrians, and an Iranian-supported Terror organization, Hezbollah. But this “oil” influenced network of “pens” inside many news distribution rooms is attempting desperately to force the slogan “anti-American demonstration” as a way to break the international unity behind Lebanese democracy and dubbing the Cedars Revolution as “American” while portraying Hezbollah as a regular “opposition” group.

The “ground” objectives

The longer aim of these movements however is to perform a penetration by Hezbollah and other pro-Syrian forces inside the areas under the control of the Lebanese government. According to inside sources, between five to ten thousand Hezbollah fighters have been mobilized to “organize the security of the demonstrators.” This means that the equivalent of one “Iranian division” will be entering Beirut from the southern suburb and deploying in downtown and in areas adjacent to the strategic Damascus road. In addition elements from the radical SSNP (the Greater Syria National-Socialist movement), who are believed to have been behind a number of political assassinations, as well as hundreds of Syrian special forces camouflaged as supporters of Hezbollah are already inside the city. According to security in Lebanon, all roads leading into Beirut with the exception of the north will be under the control of these “forces.” The regular Lebanese Army has received orders by its commander to deploy between the “demonstrators” and the official buildings. While the “core” of the Army follows the institution significant numbers of troops and many officers are either Hezbollah members or follow its instructions. Hence, according to Lebanese Army officers (names not to be disclosed) “when and if the time will come, no one will really know how many will join the Iranian-Syrian axis against the Government.”

For now, the Hezbollah offensive has begun: The infantry has moved in unarmed, yet.


In its second day, Hezbollah's offensive in Lebanon against the democratically elected Government has maintained pressures on various levels. Following are the main axis of activities:

Hezbollah's deployment

By mid week end, several thousands of Hezbollah's members, cadres and officers have settled inside downtown Beirut, surrounding the Prime Minister's office. The militia erected dozens of tents in a military fashion, with 30 fighters in each tent. Sources from the Lebanese Army described the “deployment” of the tents as a bivouac-maneuvering of about three brigades, “clearly following the Iranian military code,” said the sources. By late Saturday evening early Sunday morning, the Lebanese Army was able to move a number of these tents to the sides opening a path to the Government building. However, security sources noted that Hezbollah's units are positioning themselves in several circles around the center of Beirut. There are no weapons apparent but according to observers, the “demonstrators” can be armed in less than three hours and “become” the equivalent of half a “division” in the downtown area and close to a division inside Sunni Beirut.

Sunni resistance begins

In the early hours of Saturday through the first hours of Sunday, several incidents took place between Hezbollah's cells moving into several neighborhoods in mostly Sunni West Beirut, and between local Sunni youth. In most of these urban clashes, with clubs and stones, Hezbollah's members withdrew to their quarters in downtown and the southern suburbs. Observers believe these incidents were a sort of testing on behalf of Hezbollah's military command to assess the level of “popular resistance” against its stretching inside Muslim Beirut. It is to note that Sunni areas have been displaying more opposition to Nasrallah's militia in more than one area. More noticeably in the Eastern Bekaa where entire villages such as Kamed al Lawz and surrounding areas have erupted in small demonstrations against the pro-Iranian coalition. Also in Tripoli, and despite the presence of some solid pro-Syrian Sunni influence, anti- Hezbollah manifestations are taking place.

Shiite moderates appear

Interestingly, more moderate Shiite voices are emerging against Nasrallah's power and in support of the Lebanese Government and its supporters. In addition to the prominent Shiite Mufti of Tyre Ali al Amine, the spiritual leader of the Shiites in Jabal Amel, core of south Lebanon's community, a newly formed “Free Shiite Coalition” led by the intrepid Sheikh Mohammed al Haj Hassan is calling on the Shiites to rejects the “orders by Ahmedinijad to wreck havoc in Lebanon.” In a strong speech aired worldwide on internet Saturday night, Sheikh called on the international community to assist the Lebanese people against the terror threat, Hezbollah. This is the boldest call by a Shiia cleric against Iran's influence in Lebanon. Sunni spiritual leaders have already voiced their opposition to the “Syro-Iranian aggression” against the Government. Lebanon's national Mufti Mohammed Rashid Qabbani extended his support to the Cedars Revolution backed Seniora Government yesterday and insisted on praying inside the Prime Minister's office while Hezbollah was encircling the government building. On his part the Mufti of Mount Lebanon, Mohamed Ali al Juzu attacked Hassan Nasrallah accusing him of taking orders from Iran and targeting the independence of Lebanon.

Next Hezbollah's moves

The latest information released by the Lebanese security sources and published in the Arab press on Sunday morning, and detailed by the Kuwaiti daily as Siyassa says Hezbollah was planning on shutting down Beirut airport, possibly its port and large segments of the basic public services such as electricity and water. A memo sent by Nasrallah to his supporters inside the security and police forces asked them to withdraw and join the ranks of the “movement against the Government.”

Media tilting noted

On the media level, the campaign unleashed by Hezbollah widened on al Manar TV and was supported by Syria's press and audiovisual as well as Iran's. Al Jazeera is backing the crumbling of the Lebanese Government by “projecting” that the cabinet will fall, despite indicators that the popular majority in Lebanon backs it. But the most interesting development is the gradual editorial twist in most of the news agencies distributing information around the world indirectly towards Hezbollah. In fact, the choice of words in the reports issued by Reuters, AP and UPI indicates that they are increasingly portraying the Hezbollah's campaign as “an opposition movement against a Government refusing to accept its demands.” These mother ships of international media, that feeds thousands of newspapers and audiovisual networks around the world, have for example pushed the number of the demonstrators as “close to 800,000 persons,” or as they put it “one quarter of Lebanon's population.” While in reality, researchers in Lebanon, measuring the space these demonstrations took place in, cannot absorb more than 250,000 persons. A quarter of a million people is a large number but compared to the 1.5 million people gathered by the Cedars Revolution indicates clearly to social demographers, that Hezbollah, with the support of Syria, Iran, the radical Palestinians, cannot muster a popular support greater than one sixth of the majority. But many sectors in the international media are tilting towards producing pro- Hezbollah's trends. A reporter for Time wrote that “what he saw was a reverse of the Cedars Revolution,” using words uttered by the organizers of the pro-Iranian move. “It is not so difficult to understand,” said a human rights activist in Beirut, “Hezbollah has done a great job in influencing many correspondents on the ground. With Iranian logistics, its operatives can provide all what a journalist can dream of. Unfortunately also,” said the NGO observer, “many Hezbollah media cadres have found their way into being recruited by some media. You wouldn't believe where these infiltrations have reached,” he said. Bloggers in Beirut have begun to monitor the Hezbollah's penetration of international media as the reporting has been drifting towards promoting the pro-Iranian militia.

Lebanese facing alone

As the third day of the offensive begins, Hezbollah and its allied are bracing for bolder moves to take over the Lebanese Government. Out of Egypt, President Mubarak warned from more dramatic steps Hezbollah would take, leading to a blood shed. In New York, US ambassador Bolton warned from a Terror war against Lebanon. And in Beirut, the unarmed civil society of the country fears the worse: Being left with a democratically elected cabinet they are proud of, they feel they are facing, alone, the world's most dangerous Terror forces: the combined power of Ahmedinijad, Assad, and Nasrallah.


On the third day of Hezbollah's campaign to takeover the Lebanese Government, more sectors from civil society began to rise. But they weren't rising with the pro-Iranian militia in as much as they were rising to oppose its move. However on the other hand, it was further noticed that a number of Western media increased their support to Nasrallah's organization.

From Saturday late night into the early hours of the morning, more incursions by Hezbollah's elements were signaled inside the traditional Sunni West Beirut. A battle with rocks took place in many streets leaving a number of wounded and one Hezbollah militiaman dead. The Iranian-backed militants staged their “thrusts” into Sunni areas from their launching pad in the “protest” areas in downtown, commonly described by the opponents as the “coup d'Etat” basis. According to sources in the Lebanese Army, the gradual “coup” is taking place with a minute preparation coordinated by the Iranian embassy in Beirut. A “War room,” including Hezbollah, Syrian intelligence, President Lahoud's secret services, Baath Party, Syrian National-Socialists and representatives from General Michel Aoun's group, is directing the campaign.

On the political level, the single most important development is the decision made by the March 14 movement and the Cedars Revolution leaders to “move the headquarters of the Government to Mount Lebanon if the Syro-Iranian militias would overrun the Prime Minister's office.” Such a decision means that the Seniora cabinet and the leaders of the anti-Syrian majority in Lebanon will resist the onslaught of Hezbollah's forces and would eventually call on the people to oppose the coup d'Etat. In Washington and Paris, Governmental sources said that bringing down the Government outside the Parliament is a red line. In New York, the Security Council members, particularly the US and French delegations have clearly signified their rejection of a violent crumbling of a democratically elected cabinet. This view is widely shared by the majority of Arab moderate countries, including Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.

A new development occurred overseas as the leaders of the Lebanese Diaspora declared their “rejection of Hezbollah's aggression against Lebanon's civil society,” as they signed a joint declaration published by multiple web sites as well as as-Siyassa and al Muharer. Joe Baini, the Sydney-based President of the World Council of Cedars Revolution said “we're 12 million Lebanese in 32 countries and we are the numeric overwhelming majority of the Lebanese people.” In a letter addressed to the Lebanese Diaspora, Baini said “we are warning Iran and Syria not to interfere in Lebanese affairs, and we are warning Hezbollah not to clash with the Lebanese people. We, the overseas majority of Lebanese, who maintain the economic lifeline to Lebanon, will not accept the Terror action by a minority of radicals who take their orders from Tehran and Damascus.” It is to note that the “Lebanese lobby”, as it is known worldwide played a critical role in the calling for and making of UNSCR 1559 in 2004, which ordered Syria to withdrawal from the country and asked Hezbollah to disarm.

In the battlefield of media, more indications are developing about the Hezbollah propaganda influence. Media watchers out of Lebanon and overseas have noticed the circulation of “stories” by a support network to the pro-Iranian organization, attempting to depict the developments in Lebanon as taking place between a militant group and a Government backed by militias.

This war of ideas, launched by the “War room” in Beirut, is financed –according to leaders from the Cedars Revolution- by “huge amount of Iranian Petro-dollars.” Roger Azzam, an NGO activist in Lebanon said “the treasury of the Islamic Republic in Tehran is fully open for this battle.” Azzam said “millions of dollars have been allocated to feed all needs such as establishing a new TV station in Lebanon and taking care of media people both in Lebanon and worldwide. The Iranians we hear have hired PR companies around the world to win the public opinion battle.”

In Canada, the chairman of the Lebanese Human Rights committee said “we see some of the Hezbollah propaganda influence even here.” Elias Bejjani indicated for example an article in the Globe and Mail daily in Toronto which title is revealing: “West help Lebanon build militia to fight Hezbollah.” Mark McKinnon, the author of the article, wrote that the Internal Security Forces (ISF) is a “militia,” backed by the United States, France and Arab countries. The journalist, according to Lebanese Bloggers, was trying to “sneak a new twist in the ongoing conflict in Lebanon: that is to portray the Lebanese regular police as a militia equivalent to the Terror group Hezbollah.” In fact the article said: “Critics charge that the force is dominated by Sunnis, and that its real purpose is to defend the government of Mr. Siniora, a Sunni, against the growing power of the country's large Shia population.” Toni Nissi, an NGO leader working on implementing UN resolutions, said “the article is a piece of propaganda aiming at creating a mindset worldwide that a civil war is in the making between Shiia and Sunnis in Lebanon, just to make the point that democracy can't work in this country.” Nissi said the ISF existed for decades, this is Lebanon's internal security force; and indeed it is its duty to defend the people and the Government against the Terrorists of Hezbollah. “We're stunned that Canadian newspapers want to equate legal authorities with Terrorism.”

On another front, next steps by Hezbollah may include the introduction of Syrian intelligence in the covert operations battle against the Government. Sources in the Lebanese army told Cedars Revolution leaders that “hundreds of armed elements have been crossing the international borders between Syria and Lebanon with sophisticated individual weapons.” Lebanese and Arab newspapers said over the week end that dozens of trucks have crossed the borders and headed to Hezbollah's bases in southern Beirut and the Bekaa valley. “All indicate, said Walid Jumblat, the Socialist Druse leader, “that the Iranians and the Syrians are staging a coup.”




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