Fred Hof, the US diplomat said to have excellent connections in Damascus, is due in Beirut Thursday, Oct. 7, secretly assigned by the White House to try and get Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon cancelled. debkafile's Middle East sources say he comes too late. Already, hectic preparations for the Oct.13-14 visit have advanced to the point that Beirut and South Lebanon up to the Israeli border have been taken over. It is now a virtual Ahmadinejad-land controlled by an estimated 2,500 members of the Revolutionary Guards special security unit who were imported for the occasion.
They were carried from Tehran by special airlift to Damascus whence a convoy of buses drove them to Beirut and then dispersed them across the Lebanese capital and the South.
debkafile's military sources say that it is the largest contingent of IRGC special forces ever deployed outside Iran. Gen. Qasim Sulaimani, commander of the Al Qods Brigades (which is responsible for the IRGC's external terrorist operations) arrived in Lebanon secretly to take charge of the security preparations for the visit. Wafiq Safa, head of Hizballah' Special Security unit is acting as his deputy with 5,000 Hizballah commando fighters under his command.
Wednesday, Oct. 6, the entire Hizballah militia and its intelligence and security arms were on the highest level of the preparedness as the last arrangements for the Iranian president's visit were put in place.
The event's high point, our sources report, will be the joint appearance of Ahmadinejad and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in his first public appearance in the flesh in the four years since he fled to a Beirut bunker after the 2006 war with Israel. It will also be his first visit to South Lebanon, where he will see every village, public building, road junction, highway and even one of the UN peacekeepers' posts already plastered with Iranian flags.
At Maron al-Ras, the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the 2006 war, a gigantic replica of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem has been erected to symbolically mark Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon as a step closer toward the "liberation" of Temple Mount from Israel.
And at Fatma Gate facing Israel's northernmost town of Metulla, a platform has been placed in position for the Iranian president and Hizballah leader to throw rocks across the border at the Israeli population and the IDF units guarding it. They plan to enlist thousands of Lebanese villagers to stand at the border fence and join in the stone-throwing spectacle.