He spoke of a hellish alliance whereby Palestinian refugees from Jordan and Syria would leave those countries to join the refugees in Lebanon and strike a war alliance with Hizbullah. The south Lebanon front would go up in flames, and the Lebanese would be divided and turn against one another. After that there will be chaos, the return of death, and the entire region will burn...The following is based on reports in two Lebanese weeklies, al-Shiraa and al-Watan al-Arabi, published last week in Beirut. Some of what they are reporting was confirmed by Roed-Larsen in his report last week, so the information is not that hard to swallow. The Syrian confrontation (or war) plan seems straight out of the Lord of the Rings, with the "dark lords" of Syria, helped by "strategic partner" Iran, preparing to unleash an army of Islamist and radical Palestinian orcs that they have been breeding for a good number of years.
According to al-Watan al-Arabi, the Syrian regime is convinced that the United States and some in the international community will not stop until there is regime change in Syria. On the other hand, the United States and France became certain that Damascus had no intention of pulling its agents out of Lebanon, handing over top officials for a trial and stopping the flow of insurgents into Iraq.
For that, adds the weekly, Syria put in place contingency plans for an inevitable confrontation. To Damascus, such a battle is cheaper than surrendering to the American and international "conditions" which would cost the regime a lot more.
Al-Watan quoted American and western intelligence sources as saying that Damascus has been re-activating the Tehran-Damascus-Beirut axis since before the Hariri assassination. Syria's prime minister, Mohammad Naji al-Otari, flew to Tehran days after the Hariri assassination, where he flaunted a "strategic alliance" with Iran. (Otari had also recently warned that the gates of hell would open on the US if Washington invaded Syria)
The Syrian regime realized that it must first clean its own house. Any possibility of internal unrest, whether it's ethnic, religious or political, would have to be eliminated. The regime embarked on a "security and political cleansing" campaign , which saw the removal of vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam, the "neutralization" of former intelligence chief Bahjat Suleiman and the liquidation of the Ghazi Kanaan. One could add to this the crackdown on Syrian opposition figures in recent months.
As a result of this campaign, power is now concentrated in the hands of Bashar, Maher and Asef. Maher is in full control of the Republican Guard and the army and Asef of all the security services.
At the same time, the regime sought to reactivate its strategic alliance with Iran, which fears that a toppling of Assad's regime could threaten its own interests in the region, especially in Lebanon. Iranian and Syrian military and security officials have been meeting in secret to "put the final touches" on a "strategic and military" cooperation plan to confront what they believe to be a plot to topple the Syrian regime. Shawkat had reportedly visited Tehran shortly after his failed Paris visit, in which he might have offered Ghazale's head. It was followed up by the visit to Syria of a high-level delegation from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, headed by General Baqer zul-Qadr. Iran has reportedly supplied Syria with advanced weapons and Hizbullah has re-deployed and mobilized its members in accordance with this plan.
Al-Watan al-Arabi quotes unnamed sources as saying Hizbullah could be a main partner in this Syrian-Iranian plan of attack. In any case, the Party of God is very far from being disarmed. In fact, al-Watan reports, they have just received a new shipment of weapons and rockets that were stored in the Bekaa and the south.
The Syrian leadership has also been mobilizing pro-Syrian Palestinian factions in Lebanon and Palestine. Large amounts of weapons were smuggled into Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and hundreds of elements from the Yarmouk camp in Syria are on standby for deployment to Beirut, Sidon, Tripoli and Bekaa refugee camps. Ahmad Jibril, head of Iranian-backed PFLP-GC and Abu Moussa, head of Fateh-Intifada were assigned the task of mobilizing thousands of elements and taking over Palestinian decision-making in the camps.
Al-Shiraa confirmed that the PFLP-GC in Deir al-Ghazal has received weapons and ammunition through entry points in the border region of Wadi al-Asha'ir. The smuggling reportedly took place under the supervision of Syrian officer Samih al-Qashmaii who was stationed in Dhour el-Shoueir prior to the withdrawal.
Many of the Palestinian refugee camps have already fallen under the control of these factions and other Islamist groups such as Jund al-Sham.
Jund Al-Sham answers directly to Syrian military intelligence, according to al-Shiraa, which quoted Security sources as saying that Palestinians from the Yarmouk camp have been added to their ranks. The latest outbreak of violence between Jund al-Sham and the Nassirites in Sidon seems to indicate that that the ranks of the once small Ain-el-Helweh-based islamists are swelling with manpower and new weapons.
Jund al-Sham is one of many Islamist organizations that were nurtured by the Syrian regime. According to reports in al-Watan, and a recent French police report, the Iranian revolutionary guard has been training Islamists in camps in Iraq, Syria and the Bekaa in Lebanon.
Another Islamist organization in Syria's arsenal is al-Ahbash, which is practically run by Syrian military intelligence. Al-Shiraa describes al-Ahbash as an armed group that took over several mosques in Beirut by force with the support of the Syrian military intelligence. Syria recognized their potential as a tool to subjugate Lebanon's Sunnis in the 80s, and effectively used them to rein in any Sunni religious leader they deemed too independent. Al-Ahbash was probably behind the assassination of Mufti Hassan Khaled in the 80s.
The Lebanese authorities have found weapon caches in Beirut in warehouses owned by Ahbash members. The latter have infiltrated the Lebanese army and Presidential guard, and despite the arrest of Ahmad and Mahmoud Abdel Al, who were charged with planning the Hariri murder, I don't think we've seen the last of them.
The Lebanese authorities are obviously aware of the above, and this explains the recent confrontation with the PFLP-GC and Fateh-Intifada in the Bekaa, and the arrest of the Abdel- Al brothers.
The Syrian-Iranian plan, if allowed to go into effect, will turn Lebanon into another Iraq. The Syrian regime would much rather opt for brinksmanship than lose power or be weakened.