Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 10, 2014

War On Syria Spills Into Neighbor Countries - Lebanon Now In Serious Danger

Eighteen month ago the Syrian president Assad warned that the war against Syria would also inflame neighboring countries:

“We are surrounded by countries that help terrorists and allow them to enter Syria,” he told Turkish TV station Ulusal Kanal. “Everybody knows that if the disturbances in Syria reach the point of the country’s breakup, or terrorist forces control Syria . . . then this will immediately spill over into neighboring countries and there will be a domino effect that will reach countries across the Middle East.”

Since then the Islamic State (aka ISIS) has taken not only east Syria but also Anbar province in Iraq where it is preparing for an attack on Baghdad International Airport and the Iraqi government in the Baghdad "Green Zone".

In cooperation with Turkey the Islamic State has laid siege on the independent Kurdish enclave Kobane in north east Syria. The city is likely to fall soon just as the Turkish government wants it to. Turkey's blockade of reinforcement and supplies for the defenders inflames the 15 million strong Kurdish population in Turkey. The fall of Kobane may well lead to an end of the peace process between Turks and Kurds and to a renewed civil war in south east Turkey. Turkey houses many refugees from Syria and is a major logistic hub for the Islamic State. Its security personal is already under influence of the Islamic State:

There are signs of an anti-Kurdish and pro-Islamist backlash with Turkish police shouting Isis slogans as they charge Kurdish demonstrators.
The Turkish security forces have also revived the Kurdish Hizbullah which has absolutely nothing to do with the Shia Hizbullah in Lebanaon. The Turkish/Kurdish version was secretly founded by Turkish security services and is a collection of Kurdish Sunni radicals who want to implememt an Islamic State and who were used as death squadrons against secular Kurdish independence groups. In the last few days such revived Hizbullah groups, with tacit support from security forces, attacked pro Kurdish demonstrations by the more mainstream and secularist Kurdish PKK and its associated organizations. Over the last week some 30 people were killed during various such demonstrations against Turkey's support for the Islamic State. The death toll in the first long planned 2011 anti-Assad riots in Syria was at about the same level.

Jordan, south of Syria, is a major hub of anti-Assad activities. The CIA is running large training programs in Jordan where refugees from south Syria get prepared for fighting the Syrian government. As soon as groups of such "moderate rebels" are send over the border to fight against the Syrian army parts of them inevitably defect to the Islamic State or the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhad al-Nusra (JAN). They take the weapons they were given by the CIA and the supporting Gulf states with them. Chinese FN-6 man-portable air-defense system, supplied by Qatar to such "moderate rebels", were used in recent days by the Islamic State to shoot down at least three Iraqi army helicopters. While Jordan has mostly isolated the Syrian refugees in desert camps parts of its own population are also sympathetic to the Islamic State. Jordan has now closed its borders to all refugees to isolate itself against further IS infiltration. It might hold out a bit longer before the flood reaches its main cities.

From Jordan "moderate rebels" and Jabhat al-Nusra Islamists have progressed in north-western direction along the Golan height demarcation zone with Israel against Syrian government forces and towards south Lebanon. These groups are protected against Syrian counterattacks by Israeli artillery and do get some of their support, including medical services, directly from the Israeli side. Their task is to infiltrate through the Druze inhabited areas near the Sheba Farm into south Lebanon and to attack the Lebanese Hizbullah positions which are protecting Lebanon from Israel. Israel is also continuously probing those positions by reconnaissance by force. Hizbullah recently publicly acknowledged to counter these probes thereby demonstrating undiminished capabilities despite also being engaged in other areas. Other "moderate rebel" groups supporting Jabhat al-Nusra went north from Jordan and took the important Syrian height of Tar Harrah between the Golan heights and Damascus. Some Syrian army forces are now squeezed between the insurgents on the Golan heights and those around Tal Harrah. Both of these "moderate rebel" thrusts from Jordan progressed due to massive use of U.S. supplied TOW anti-tank missiles.

These forces in south-east Syria are not the only danger to Lebanon. On its eastern border several thousand Jabhat al Nusra fighters, here in direct cooperation with Islamic State fighters, occupy an 80 kilometer long and 10 kilometer wide north-to-south strip in the LebaneseQalamoun mountains. The Syrian army and forces of the Lebanese Hizbullah have attacked these forces throughout the summer. But the very difficult terrain with many caves and narrow valleys is an ideal defensive zone and the progress has been slow.

The Islamists in the mountains get their support and reinforcements through Syrian refugee camps in east Lebanon like in the Lebanese town of Arsal. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), with support from Hizbullah, have tried to clear militants from these towns but with the coming winter more are expected to come down from the freezing mountains and to further infiltrate into Lebanese proper. Native Lebanese Sunnis, especially in the northern city of Tripoli, have also been radicalized. There have been several attacks on Lebanese army posts in recent days in Tripoli and elsewhere. There have also been mass attacks against static and isolated Hizbullah checkpoints in several areas of Lebanon's east. Despite the coming winter the heat in Lebanon has seriously increased.

Tripoli and some flashpoints in eastern Lebanon have a strong, open Islamic fighter presences. Other areas also have such presence but less openly. In Beirut's suburbs alone some 30,000 fighting age Sunni refugees from Syria occupy ever shifting tent camps which Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State fighters use to recruit and to infiltrate further into Lebanon.

The Lebanese Armed Forces are under control of the unity government but as the Sunni faction in that government does not want to attack their spiritual kinfolks the LAF is held back from a stronger reaction against radical Sunni activities. Parts of the LAF also have sympathies for Islamic State fighters and there have been reports of direct support by individual LAF soldiers for their activities.

A coordinated attack from Islamic radical forces from the south with Israeli support, from the mountains in the east and from within Lebanese cities would overwhelm the Lebanese Armed Forces and even Hizbullah. Such an all out attack could be coordinated in a larger scenario with an attack on Baghdad and others within Syria and possibly Turkey. Such coordinated attacks would overwhelm not only the respective local government forces but also all international response capabilities.

President Assad predicted the spillover of the attack on Syria into the neighboring countries. This spillover has happened in Iraq, it is currently happening in Turkey and Lebanon looks like a quite weak target that could blow up overnight. Only Jordan looks still looks somewhat stable for now but with Islamic State fighters in its north and east as well as Islamic State sympathizers in its cities it will only be a question of time until it also goes down in flames.

Posted by b on October 10, 2014 at 13:25 UTC | Permalink

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It is an interesting argument going on here, I'll throw this in:

The Chinese Communists could certainly get rich without raising the living standards of their people, as could the Russian elite. Assad, I suppose, could have simply left Syria and found a comfortable life somewhere. And there are governments who operate, utter kleptocracies like Indonesia and more and more the USA, by destroying their people's living standards while enriching themselves.

To simply call regimes as varied as Indonesia and China "neoliberal" misses massive differences in people's quality of life that requires an explanation. The falling living standards in the US - ensured by government policy - has to be compared to the rising living standards in Russia - also ensured by government policy.

To put it another way - the Russia of Putin has to be compared to the Russia of 1993. Even better, compare Russia to that miserable wreck of the Ukraine. In the Ukraine, there are rich oligarchs as anywhere and living standards have still not really emerged from the 1990s. This just shows that if the Russian elite only wanted riches, they could have them without seeing an improvement in the living standards of their people. So how to account for this difference? Are the Russian oligarchs "nice"? No. Then it must be that Russia is more democratic (in the sense of the people's desires for a better life making itself felt in policy) than these countries. There is no other explanation. And that includes the United States.

Of course I don't think that Russia is a revolutionary power in the sense that Cuba is, or Venezuela is. But they are opposed to the power of the hegemon and allies with the revolutionary states. This requires more than to just label them "counter-revolutionary" and be done with it. That's all I'm saying.

It's a weird point maybe, and perhaps not much of one. But in this era, when the US threatens to rule the world, anyone opposing this is, in a sense, a rebel. Especially when they sacrifice their own safety and wealth to do so.

If emerges sometime soon a truly multipolar world, I won't have any special feeling for Russia. It will be one interest among many. But in it's role as a power seeking to be independent, I'm extremely sympathetic. Of course I'd support, even now, any genuine movement of people seeking to improve their lives. In a multipolar world, I might even support Pussy Riot. But unfortunately, "genuine" movements seem exceedingly rare these days and these disingenuous movements only serve to bolster the power of the kleptocrats of the US. The US seems to have a hand in a great many of these movements or the ability to steer them after they emerge - the Arab Spring toppling only US enemies being a clear example of this.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 13 2014 1:50 utc | 101

@101-It is a weird point, but that just tells you how weird the world has gotten.

Posted by: Nana2007 | Oct 13 2014 3:52 utc | 102

I wonder what sort of agreement was made to allow the US to use Turkish bases?

Posted by: Crest | Oct 13 2014 11:39 utc | 103


Biden doesn't 'blurt out' anything.

He wrote the Patriot Act.

He got his son on the Board of the Ukraine Oil Company.

'The Fool' on The Hill sees USA's Sun going down, and the
eyes in his head see the NeoMedieval World spinning round.

Posted by: ChipNikh | Oct 13 2014 12:36 utc | 104

I do not agree with Willy2 (post 1)

The murdered Dutch Jesuit Priest Frans v.d.Lugt a few months ago in Syria who had lived there since 1966 had written in a letter that the unrest and violence was created by outsiders, against the Syrian Government, NOT the Syrian people against Assad. Note Assad was re-elected by an overwhelming majority of Syrians.
ISIL is an intelligence asset and a construct of the US/MI6/Mossad. The CIA funded/trained/an armed them. They are still training foreign fighters in Jordan today. There is some form of mass insanity going on in Washington.

Assad is therefore fighting those who have invaded his country to unseat him.Would we do any different?

Posted by: Gerry1211 | Oct 13 2014 16:39 utc | 105

So how to account for this difference? Are the Russian oligarchs "nice"? No. Then it must be that Russia is more democratic (in the sense of the people's desires for a better life making itself felt in policy) than these countries. There is no other explanation. And that includes the United States.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 12, 2014 9:50:25 PM | 101

Of course there's another explanation, as I explained, I think in comment 68: the Russian elite feels Russia is under threat by the West, it is nationalistic, and it still has the economic common sense that neoliberal propaganda can sometimes overcome in elites. The Russian elite and Putin's team of advisors know that neoliberalism weakens economies (especially high-value added manufacturing sectors), reduces 'good jobs at good wages', and makes those economies' rulers much less popular, which all plays perfectly into Western subversion plans. There are many examples of that phenomenon. So a nationalist elite logically opts for neo-Keynesianism, i.e. plain old economic common sense. You can see the results of the same kind of nationalist thinking and policy in China and even in U.S. allies like Japan and South Korea.

Not that Russia might not be more democratic than the U.S. I don't know. It's not exactly a tough competition though.

Posted by: fairleft | Oct 13 2014 23:15 utc | 106

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