Exclusive: Lebanon slides towards new civil conflict
Pro-Western Siniora government and Iran-Syria-backed Hizballah forces exchanged fire in the streets of Beirut Wednesday, May 7. debkafile‘s sources report both have ordered a general call-up of their adherents.
Hizballah fighters clad in national army and police uniforms are infiltrating government party strongholds in the capital to seize control. In the north and the western Beqaa Valley region of Kharoub, government forces are mobilizing. First units have been sighted heading for Beirut.
During the day, Hizballah blocked the roads leading to the airport and vowed to keep it under siege until the Siniora government goes back on the decision announced Tuesday, May 6, to shut down the private telecommunications network Iran installed for the group and reinstate the pro-Hizballah airport director Gen. Wafiq Shuqeir. To pile up anti-government pressure, Hizballah called labor unions out on strike.
General Shuqeir was removed after Druze Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt accused Hizballah of installing spy cameras at the airport to monitor the movements of Lebanese and foreign leaders. Jumblatt said incoming flights were bringing the Shiite militia supplies of weapons from Iran.
On August 9, 2007, debkafile first revealed that Iranian military engineers were installing a secret underground telecommunications system to support Hizballah’s missile unit. The network runs through south Beirut, the Beqaa Valley’s Yohmor region near the Syrian border – where Hizballah and the Palestinian Popular Front-GC keep their training facilities – and connect the southern towns of Tyre on the Mediterranean with Abassieh, seat of Hizballah’s southern headquarters.
For the ten months during which this military telecommunications network was being installed, the Beirut government did not dare touch it.
Prime minister Fouad Siniora finally decided enough was enough when satellite images provided by Western agencies showed work on connecting Hizballah’s network with the communications and eavesdropping systems set up by the Syrian army along the Lebanese border.
debkafile‘s military sources report that the two networks and their linkage are part of military preparations by Iran, Syria and Hizballah for a possible new flareu-up of hostilities with Israel.