HizbAllah offensive in Lebanon: Day One
By Walid Phares
December 1, 2006
After serious warnings delivered by HezbAllah 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 HizbAllah 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:

HizbAllah’s “army”
HizbAllah 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 demonstrated led by HizbAllah then plus an undetermined number of Palestinian and Syrian elements. And since General Aoun shifted from the Cedars Revolution to an open alliance with HizbAllah few months ago, a number of his hard-core followers are expected to join the crowd.

HizbAllah’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 HizbAllah 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 HizbAllah 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 million $ annually and has about 20,000 missile on the one hand and a democratically elected Government by a democratically elected Parliament in which HizbAllah 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, HizbAllah. But this “oil” the 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 HizbAllah as a regular “opposition” group.

The “ground” objectives
The longer aim of these movements however is to perform a penetration by HizbAllah and other pro-Syrian forces inside the areas under the control of the Lebanese government. According to inside sources, between five to ten thousand HizbAllah fighters have been mobilized to “organize the security of the demonstrators.” This means that the equivalent of one pro-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 Nazi 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 HizbAllah 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 HizbAllah 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 HizbAllah offensive has begun: The infantry has moved in unarmed, yet..

**Dr Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy. He is the author of Future Jihad: Terrorist strategies against the West. Dr Phares was one of the architects of UNSCR 1559