Lebanese PM Siniora takes fateful step of okaying international tribunal to try suspects of Rafiq Hariri assassination<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 18, 2007
Ass. Secy of State for Near East David Welch is due in Beirut for a surprise visit to underline American backing for Fouad Siniora's government.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 14, 2007
It was a typical concatenation of Middle East contrasts. Monday, May 14, Israel launched a four-day war game at civilian and military command levels. The lead actors are Chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi, the General Staff, regional commanders as well as the prime minister and defense minister. The scenarios using computers, satellites and hi-tech communications are meant to simulate crisis management in the event of a full-scale war.
On the other side of Israel's troubled northern border, Hizballah is carrying out a live exercise to chase the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon-UNIFIL peacekeepers away from the border region first, then from all parts of South Lebanon. The Lebanese militia places its trust in low-tech weaponry: rocks hurled at UN vehicles and yellow Hizballah flags planted provocatively right up against the Israeli border.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 28, 2007
Security sources said the boys, Ziad Ghandour and Ziad Qabalan, were killed a few hours after they were abducted. The streets of Beirut were suddenly deserted Thursday amid fears of violent reprisals by the boys' relatives and members of the Druze Progressive Socialist Party to which they were affiliated. In a live broadcast, the Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, appealed for maximum restraint and said the authorities should handle the investigation.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 28, 2007
The Lebanese army reports an Israeli army patrol crossed into Lebanon Thursday between the towns of Kfar Shuba and Shebaa in the eastern sector. Described as reaching to within 50-100 meters past the blue line border, they were forced to withdraw by UN peacekeepers. This report is denied by the Israeli military.
In another incident, Hizballah operatives raised huge posters in the Aita al-Shaab district close to the Israeli border of the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, as they appeared before their abduction in civilian clothes. These photos have been circulated in Israel before.
Spanish UN troops in Lebanon discover an arms cache near southeastern hill-town of Rachaya el-Foukhar<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 9, 2007
The store, at a site near the disputed Chebaa Farms, contained 17 rocket launchers. Israeli military sources report that the Hizballah has almost completely restocked its Lebanon War losses.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 4, 2007
Ban went to Lebanon to follow up allegations that the arms embargo on Hizballah ordered by the UN resolution that ended the Lebanon war was not being enforced. Friday, the UN Secretary met with Lebanese security chiefs in Beirut to discuss ways of enhancing the Lebanese army's monitoring capabilities along the border with Syria, one of Hizballah's principal suppliers. The Lebanese daily An-Nahar reported that Ban showed the Lebanese generals evidence and pictures he obtained from Israel of trucks crossing in from Syrian and unloading weapons.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 24, 2007
After briefing the Security Council on his latest report, Serge Brammertz said Wednesday: "We have a clearer idea of the political context in which the crime occurred. We believe ...that the motive is most likely linked to his political activities." Asked if he was suggesting the former Lebanese prime minister was killed because he represented a growing threat to Syria, the UN investigator replied that it would be up to a tribunal to determine who was guilty.
Hariri assassination linked by UN investigators to extension of pro-Syrian Lebanese president Lahoud's term
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 17, 2007
Belgian judge Serge Brammertz, who heads the UN commission probing the Hariri murder, asks for an extension of its mandate upon submitting its seventh report Thursday. The panel concludes that a single bomb killed the Lebanese politician Rafiq Hariri and 22 others in Feb. 2005. It has implicated top Syrian figures and Lebanese accomplices in the assassination. DNA and isotope testing suggest the bomber was not Lebanese.
Bomb blasts kill at least 12, injure 20, in buses at Ain Aleq village east of Beirut - day before mass rally marking second anniversary of Hariri assassination<br/>
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 15, 2007
At 9:15 a.m. Monday, Feb. 13, the bombs tore through the buses at the ancestral village of the Gemayel clan, whose scion, anti-Syrian cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel was also murdered last year. The buses were carrying demonstrators to a rally in Beirut Wednesday on the second anniversary of the murder of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 25, 2006
After overwhelming the Hizballah stronghold of Bin Jubeil in southern Lebanon Tuesday July 25, Israeli armed ground forces and tanks are preparing to sweep forward to sanitize the town's satellites.
Israel lost two tank personnel: 1st Lieutenant Lotan Slavin, 21 from Moshav Hatzeva, and 1st Sgt Kobi Smileg, 20, from Rehovot.
Hizballah is reported by IDF sources to have lost 100-120 Hizballah fighters.
But the operation did not help reduce the rocket fire against Israel. Hizballah saw they cannot stand up to the superior firepower leveled against them by a combination of Israeli tanks, special operations units and air force. Therefore fighters in the south have been instructed to discontinue face-to-face combat with Israeli troops and take to guerrilla warfare from woods, forests, dry river beds, and fruit orchards.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 9, 2006
debkafile's intelligence and counter-terror sources report that Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal arrived in Damascus first thing Sunday morning Jan 8 with an royal order for President Bashar Assad to present himself without delay to King Abdullah in Jeddah. The Saudis were racing against time to put Assad on the carpet before the onset of the hajj later that day. From Jeddah, the Syrian president flew to Sharm el-Sheikh where he was severely rapped by Hosni Mubarak.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 21, 2005
Converging evidence points at both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in the assassination plot against former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri on February 14, 2005. This was the primary conclusion of UN investigator Detlev Mehlis whose interim report is to be submitted Friday to the UN Security Council and the Lebanese and Syrian governments. The full text was obtained by debkafile October 20 before general publication.
Other conclusions: The crime was carried out by a group with extensive organization and considerable resources and capabilities. It was prepared over several months. The timing and location of Rafiq Hariri's movements was monitored in detail. Given the pervasive presence of Syrian Military Intelligence in Lebanon, it would be difficult to envisage a scenario where this assassination plot could have been carried out without their knowledge.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 20, 2005
debkafile's Lebanese experts wonder how the Sunni Muslim interloper from the south, 35-year old Saad Hariri, who has a blood reckoning with Damascus managed to sweep the traditionally pro-Syrian north, which is dominated by such Damascus-friendly clans as the Maronite Franjiehs and the Sunni Karamis (Rashid Karami was the pro-Syrian prime minister unseated by the wave of popular protest in Beirut after the Hariri murder.)
The solution lies in the secret event that took place outside the country between rounds three and four of the Lebanese election, as disclosed in DEBKA-Net-Weekly's exclusive account on June 17. To subscribe to DEBKA-Net-Weekly click DEBKA-Net-Weekly.com/">HERE.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 30, 2005
The stunning election victory in the Beirut region attributed to Saad Hariri, son of the assassinated former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, is no more than hyperbole. Nine of the 12 seats his camp carried Sunday, May 29, were sewn up in advance. The only stunning development was the hectic pace at which Lebanon's political factions made and broke alliances with an astonishing array of partners in the days leading up to the poll. After the Americans and French dumped Maronite Catholic ex-general Michel Aoun home from 15 years of Syrian-imposed exile in Paris, the Maronites went their different ways, each faction anchoring itself to a partner with more solid backers and prospects.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 4, 2005
US president George W. Bush has set his face in his second term on extinguishing Middle East conflicts rather than starting new fires. The White House seeks formulae for avoiding war while yet somehow preventing radical Islamic groups from seizing power in Beirut and Ramallah through the ballot box. To subscribe to DEBKA-Net-Weekly click HERE. In Lebanon, the first step of this strategy was skillfully pulled off by US deputy assistant secretary of state David Satterfield. He successfully negotiated a four-cornered truce between the anti-Syrian opposition Druze and Christian leaders and the pro-Syrian and Hizballah camps. The situation is Ramallah is much trickier. Hamas expects to ride into power through the front door opened by Mahmoud Abbas by calling parliamentary elections for July. To block Hamas' rise, large sections of Abbas' own Fatah, spearheaded by the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, have risen up against him and his interior minister Nasser Yousef.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 17, 2005
Saturday, March 2003, Abu Mohammed Al Masri, or Farouq al-Masri was walking back to his store from regular prayers at the central mosque of the South Lebanese Ein Hilweh Palestinian camp when a parked white Mercedes exploded and killed him. "Al Masri" was quickly identified by Lebanese intelligence as Ahmed Mohammed Hamed Ali, a Palestinian from Nablus and undercover chief of al Qaeda forces in south Lebanon. Israeli and Jordanian intelligence verified his identity. The Jordanians had more than a passing acquaintance with "Al Masri," alleging he was the ringleader of an al Qaeda cell assigned in Christmas 1999 with attacking Christian places of pilgrimage on the Jordan River.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 24, 2003
While agreeing to hand over several hundred Lebanese prisoners, Israel has adamantly refused to release Kuntar. The Hizballah have just as firmly labeled him the sine qua non for the deal. Officials in Sharon's bureau while dropping veiled hints are keeping the bargaining cards very close to their chests. All the same, debkafile's intelligence sources have discovered that the German go-between has been handed a fresh offer: Nahariya murderer Kuntar for the Israeli Azzam Azzam, who has been languishing in an Egyptian jail since 1997 when he was convicted of spying for Israel.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 17, 2003
As Israeli eyes were riveted on the appalling effects of the synagogue bomb attacks in Istanbul on Saturday, November 15, their air force executed a stunning demonstration of might over Lebanon lasting several hours Sunday, November 16. debkafile's military sources reveal exclusively that 30-40 Israeli fighter-bombers zipped through the length and breadth of Lebanon - from the northern regions and Tripoli, across to the Lebanese-Syrian border, the Beqaa Valley and Syrian bases, through Djebel Druze in the center, to Beirut and down to the south. The aircraft made low passes in quartets, buzzing key points. There was no response from the ground.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 30, 2003
The machinery is running for the Israel-Hizballah prisoner swap. Barring hitches, debkafile's intelligence sources report it is due to take place on a date between Wednesday October 22 and Friday October 24, depending on when the sky-gazing senior imams sight the next crescent moon and proclaim the start of the holy Muslim feast month of Ramadhan. The Israeli government has agreed to this schedule, a bonus for Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah that enables him to advertise himself as the only Muslim leader - not Saddam Hussein or even Osama bin Laden or Yasser Arafat - capable of bringing about the release of "Islamic fighters".
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 23, 2003
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizballah secretary general, is an old hand at twitching Israeli nerves by dangling offers of information on prisoners, MIAs and fallen troops on terms that Israel cannot accept. The Israeli machinery dealing with prisoner recovery then swings into action expecting little more than a sign of life. Even that has not been forthcoming in most cases. The Hizballah leader is therefore rated in Israel as a big, manipulative talker who enjoys discomfiting "the Zionists". Two weeks ago, Nasrallah set in motion a fresh cycle of hope, fueling top headlines in the Israeli media. This time, he talked about a real exchange - and not just scrappy information - of the bodies of three Israeli soldiers kidnapped in October 2000 and an Israeli civilian, Elhanan Tanenboim, who was snatched at the same time, in return for Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.