Hariri challenges Nasrallah, announces bid to lead new government

There is no way that Hariri would do this without the backing of the US and perhaps Israel. Debka also reports that Syria is backing Hariri because Hezbollah is getting too aggressive. Ted Belman

DEBKAfile Special Report January 20, 2011, 9:44 PM (GMT+02:00)

Lebanon swerved closer to a factional conflagration Thursday night, Jan. 20, after Saad Hariri, whose coalition Hizballah toppled eight days ago, announced he would form a new government in defiance of the opposition. Hassan Nasrallah’s supporters warned he was leading Lebanon to disaster.

debkafile’s sources note that by standing his ground against Hizballah’s efforts to oust him from Lebanese politics, Hariri may be able to abort Nasrallah’s plan for an alternative Lebanese government that would disqualify the UN tribunal and its indictment of senior Hizballah officials for complicity in the six-year old assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

Nasrallah has sworn never to surrender his loyalists to the Netherlands-based court. Therefore, by thwarting him, Hariri has raised the Lebanese crisis to a new and dangerous pitch. Nasrallah must now decide whether to rise to the challenge and go through with the steps for seizing control of the capital which his troops practiced this week, or give up and accept defeat.

Thursday afternoon, Lebanese forces showed themselves willing for the first time to stand up to Hizballah’s superior strength and ward off its takeover of the capital. Extra security was laid on for Hariri, guards were reinforced at government institutions and traffic hubs secured. Police units were seen unloading concrete blocks at the main city intersections after which military units moved in to man them.

A Lebanese military official commented that these measures were prompted by “concerns over movements on the ground by some parties.”

No one doubted he was referring to Hizballah and its repeated exercises this week to practice the rapid seizure of Beirut.
Our sources report that Hariri and Nasrallah camps now face each other for a straight duel after the latest mediation effort was abandoned. Thursday morning, the Turkish and Qatari foreign ministers departed Beirut announcing they were “halting their mediation” in the Lebanese crisis.

January 21, 2011 | 4 Comments »

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  1. Ted:

    “…Syria is backing Hariri because Hezbollah is getting too aggressive”

    makes the most sense because Syria is facing serious economic distress, and I would think only the Saudis and Gulf States can help with that, not Iran.

    With the offshore natural gas discoveries, even Syria must realize that Hezbollah’s dedication to eternal ‘resistance’ is not in anyone else’s interest.

    One bet I am willing to make is that, if Hezbollah controls Lebanon, Israeli voters will never let Tzipi Livni anywhere near the ruling majority

  2. Sam Fistel said,

    5. All Israeli concerns about lebanon now come down to hizbolla; the rest of lebanon is irrelevant to Israel.

    This has been obvious since the Israeli Jews betrayed the Lebanese Christians in 2000. Obama and the US State Department, though, appear interested in maintining a rump government in Beirut. It’s a good place to station spies.

    It looks as though Lebanon is going the way of Camelot — a place where once upon a time, long long ago, people got along. I just hope Israel’s next war there isn’t led by a Defense Minister who forgets to take the lens caps off his binoculars before using them.

  3. Lebanon as a sovereign nation:

    It was a lebanese shiite professor who talked about the “dream world of the arabs” (after he moved to America).

    1. Since the lebanese civil war, lebanon has no longer been a nation. Instead it is a loose federation pretending to have a central government and a central army.
    2. Shiite hizbolla, supported strongly by Iran, and weakly by syria, now completely controls southern lebanon (bordering on Jewish Israel) and eastern lebanon (bordering on syria).
    3. Hizbolla has its own army, and is now the strongest power inside lebanon.
    4. Hizbolla goes along with the pretense that there is some kind of central government, but exercises veto power, through force if necessary.
    5. All Israeli concerns about lebanon now come down to hizbolla; the rest of lebanon is irrelevant to Israel.
    6. Muslims don’t understand death, but they are poor, and they do understand destruction.
    7. Israel in its first war with hizbolla a few years ago caused massive destruction of shiite villages and hizbolla’s southern Beirut stronghold.
    8. This degree of destruction, with little to show for it, cost hizbolla support among the shiites.
    9. Iran contributed mass amounts of cash (diverted from its own peoples) to rebuild the shiite areas.
    10. Hizbolla now still talks the talk, but is reluctant to bring about a sceond wave of massive destruction so soon.
    11. Since hizbolla (and iran) now effectively controls lebanon, all the talk about the “unstable lebanese government” and the upcoming UN tribunal is just hot air and a sideshow.