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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Reports say Iran sending more arms to Assad as he prepares chemical weapons

Hezbollah has begun to speak openly and has admitted that its militias are crossing the border and fighting in Syria

I warned yesterday that President Obama's pledge to actually do something about President Assad's slaughter in Syria if he used chemical weapons might soon be tested. If this report from AP is true, Obama's pledge may be tested sooner rather than later:
Israel says Syria's Assad preparing chemical weapons

Ian Deitch
Thu Mar 14 2013 09:13:00
JERUSALEM - Israel's military intelligence chief says Syria's embattled president, Bashar Assad, is preparing to use chemical weapons.

Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi told a security conference in the coastal town of Herzliya that Assad is stepping up his offensive against rebels trying to oust him.

Kochavi claims Assad is making advanced preparations to use chemical weapons, but has not yet given the order to deploy them.

He did not disclose information about why he thinks Assad is preparing to use them. More...
Judging from their protests, the anti-interventions in the US Left and anti-war movements only object to intervention on the side of the revolution, but there is a growing body of evidence that the Assad regime is getting a lot of military support from Russia, and the active involvement of foreign troops from Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah. Newser is reporting this today:
Iran Shipping More Weapons to Assad

By Kevin Spa
Mar 14, 2013 8:35 AM CDT
Iran has drastically increased its arms shipments to Syria in recent months, sending weapons to Bashar al-Assad's regime, and to its Hezbollah supporters, in what is increasingly becoming a Shiite-vs-Sunni conflict, Western diplomats tell Reuters. The weapons are flowing primarily through Iraq—despite Iraqi protestations to the contrary—but some are also reportedly taking routes through Turkey and Lebanon. "The Iranians really are supporting massively the regime," one senior diplomat said. "And the Iraqis really are looking the other way." More...
AAWSAT thinks Lebanon has also been intervening on the side of Assad:
Will Lebanon be Held Accountable for its Pro-Assad Bias?

Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
2 Mar, 2013
Lebanese foreign minister Adnan Mansour confused everyone at the Arab League because while the league itself was trying to offer Syria’s empty seat to the Syrian National Coalition, Mansour requested the reinstatement of the Assad regime’s representatives. What happened to the dissociation policy, whereby Lebanon pledged to be neutral with regards to the Syrian conflict? And why did Mansour also choose to ignite a battle with Saudi Arabia, souring relations between the two countries?

Lebanon is now in the firing line because of the war in neighboring Syria. The domestic atmosphere is also tense because of the forthcoming parliamentary elections, which may not even be held. These two reasons alone are suffice to explain why certain individuals are intent upon stirring up problems between Lebanon and the Gulf. The reports of Lebanese employees being deported from the Gulf states, and the rumors of their financial deposits being withdrawn, are all part of psychological warfare. Lebanon now seems like a country awaiting its turn on death row.

The only ones who stand to benefit from pushing Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states towards a dispute with Lebanon are the regime in Syria and its allies in Lebanon. For example, Hezbollah believes that the fall of Assad in Damascus is almost inevitable, and one alternative is to expand the party’s role in Lebanon and further impose its dominance on Lebanese soil, as well as on nearby Syrian towns and areas that are mainly Shi ‘ite or Christian.

As the final hours are ticking away for Assad’s regime in Syria, ridding Lebanon of Saudi influence will make it easier for parties like Hezbollah and Aoun’s Christian movement to expand and fill the developing vacuum.

The controversy over Syria that exists among Lebanese parties has now taken root within local affairs, especially with regards to any involvement with Assad’s regime. Hezbollah has begun to speak openly and has admitted that its militias are crossing the border and fighting in Syria, responding to the call to protect nearby Syrian Shi ‘ ite towns. The situation has been made even more dangerous with the withdrawal of Syrian troops from border areas with Lebanon, in an attempt to allow Hezbollah militias to occupy these areas and impose a new reality.

Samir Geagea, one of Hezbollah’s prominent rivals and head of the Lebanese Forces, has publicly sought to confront Hezbollah, which claims to be fighting the Jabhat Al-Nusra in Homs so as not to fight it in Beirut. Geagea said that the Lebanese state is responsible for fighting against the Jabhat Al-Nusra, or any other extremist group, in Beirut, Hermel, Nabatieh, Zahle, Akkar or any other area of Lebanon. In doing so, the state would be supported by the Lebanese people, with the exception of Hezbollah, as was the case with the confrontation against Fatah Al-Islam in Nahr Al-Bared.

Geagea also warned that “Hezbollah’s actions in Syria will drag the Jabhat Al-Nusra into Lebanon.”

Leaving Lebanon to the desires of one party means only one thing: a remapping of western Syria in the interests of Assad, Iran, and Hezbollah.
This article tells of just one way that Lebanon is helping Assad, by looking the other way as the illegal oil trade flourishes. From the Lebanon Daily Star
Syria back on the oil trading map as deliveries boom

March 12, 2013 01:25 PM
By Jessica Donati
LONDON: Syria is back on the oil trading map this year with more than a dozen shipments of gasoil reaching a government-controlled port in February, ending months of isolation as foreign sellers and officials say it is not their job to monitor private deals.

The sales are worth over $100 million at current prices and are the clearest sign yet that oil dealers' reluctance to supply the war-ravaged country is waning. More...
Also on Sunday the Guardian turned in a fine piece of investigative reporting on a question that has been hotly debated at the Daily Kos and other places where political differences have developed between those that support the Syrian people's effort to overthrow the Assad regime and those that claim to be neutral, namely, who was responsible for over a hundred bodies that came floating down the river in Aleppo six weeks ago. I'll give you the executive summary: The Assad regime murdered these men, just as it is behind ninety plus percent of the violent deaths now happening in Syria.
Syria: the story behind one of the most shocking images of the war

Why did the bodies of 110 men suddenly wash up in the river running through Aleppo city six weeks ago? A Guardian investigation found out
Sunday 10 March 2013

Martin Chulov with photographs and video by Ben Solomon and Noah Payne-Frank

It is already one of the defining images of the Syrian civil war: a line of bodies at neatly spaced intervals lying on a river bed in the heart of Syria’s second city Aleppo. All 110 victims have been shot in the head, their hands bound with plastic ties behind their back. Their brutal execution only became apparent when the winter high waters of the Queiq river, which courses through the no man’s land between the opposition-held east of the city and the regime-held west, subsided in January.

It’s a picture that raises so many questions: who were these men? How did they die? Why? What does their story tell us about the wretched disintegration of Syria? A Guardian investigation has established a grisly narrative behind the worst - and most visible - massacre to have taken place here. All the men were from neighbourhoods in the eastern rebel-held part of Aleppo. Most were men of working age. Many disappeared at regime checkpoints. They may not be the last to be found. Locals have since dropped a grate from a bridge, directly over an eddy in the river. Corpses were still arriving 10 days after the original discovery on January 29, washed downstream by currents flushed by winter rains. More...

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

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