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Review Category : Lebanon

Three-Dimensional Chess, Middle East Style

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri recently shocked the international community by announcing his resignation. Hariri, a Sunni political leader, made this announcement from Saudi Arabia, where some speculate that he is being held under house arrest, while others believe he is there on his own accord because he fears for his very life. These fears are not unfounded. In 2005, his father, Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, was assassinated by a car bomb that is believed to have been planted by Hezbollah.

The Middle East is a mysterious region where suspicion hangs heavily in the air—under normal conditions. But the entire region, as of late, is mired in extraordinary circumstances. Since the Iranian nuclear deal of 2015, Iran has been vastly emboldened, empowered and enriched. The Iranians have been on the march throughout the region, sowing acts of aggression in Sana’a, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut. They are attempting to establish a Shi’a crescent stretching from Tehran throughout the Middle East.

Lebanon has become a puppet state of Iran, and the Lebanese Armed Forces has now become dominated by Hezbollah. An important fact that many people do not know is that we still have a line item in the U.S. Defense Appropriations budget for $100 million towards Lebanon’s military.

There is no doubt that under today’s circumstances, that earmark falls, whether directly or indirectly, into the hands of Hezbollah. Unless and until Lebanon could rid itself of the presence of Hezbollah, American taxpayers’ dollars will be going into the hands of an organization that has been listed by our own State Department as a terrorist group.

Saad Harari knows how to read the tea leaves. The same week of his surprise announcement, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen launched a missile that had been aimed to land at King Khalid National Airport near the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The missile was intercepted by Saudi-owned U.S. Patriot batteries.

Nov. 4, meanwhile, marked the most aggressive Saudi shakedown in recent memory. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, 32, purged the government of 11 members of the Saudi royal family and other business elites—in what he described as a “corruption crackdown,” but which may well be a rouse to consolidate his power and quash his political rivals, many of whom are in his own family. As Reuters reported, the Riyadh Ritz Carlton has been turned into a temporary—albeit luxurious—prison.

Adding to the intrigue, a day after the crown prince announced his palace purge, a helicopter carrying Prince Mansour bin Muqrin mysteriously crashed, killing a potential rival to the crown prince’s power.

The aggressive and ambitious young Saudi prince is not taking Iranian aggression in the region lightly. Saudi Arabia has urged its citizens to leave Lebanon. This sends a somewhat ominous message. In fact, on Nov. 6, Saudi Arabia’s minister of Gulf affairs wrote that Lebanon “has declared war on Riyadh.”

Some feel that this might be an indicator of a new war emerging between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims—the latest chapter in a 14-century-old dispute as to who will carry the mantle of Islam. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia are experts at fighting proxy wars on someone else’s soil. As a joke that is making its rounds around Beirut goes, “The Saudis are willing to fight the Iranians, down to the very last Lebanese.”

In the meantime, there are at least 100,000 missiles staring down Israel from the Jewish state’s north. On Nov. 11, the Israeli Air Force intercepted a drone that fell on the demilitarized zone just north of the Golan Heights. A day earlier, the BBC reported that Iran has established a new  military base just south of Damascus.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated unequivocally last Saturday, “We will not allow the establishment of a Shi’ite axis in Syria as an operating base.”

Watch this space. In the Middle East, one cannot play checkers or chess. The game is three-dimensional chess, where the loss of a pawn on one board affects the positioning of the knights, queens and kings on two other boards.

Originally published at JNS.org.

Photo credit: State Department

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The IRGC, a terrorist organization that should be designated so

The Trump administration is determining whether to designate Iran’s elite arms unit, the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), as a foreign terrorist organization. Officials from both the US State and Defense departments had warned the President to hold off on the order. The State and Defense departments’ hesitation is largely due to the fear of losing Iraq, as Baghdad heavily relies on both the IRGC and the US for military aid. The fact remains that Iraq has already been lost to Shia dominance since former Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has favored his own majority, rather than serving beyond ethnic and sectarian lines.

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Be the ‘Strong Horse,’ President Trump

“When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, they will naturally want to side with the strong horse. When people of the world look upon the confusion and atheism of the West, they see that Islam is the strong horse.” Osama Bin Laden

Osama Bin Laden thought the United States was weak, and this weakness provoked his attack on 9/11 that killed nearly 3,000 Americans. 

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VIDEO: EMET’s 2016 DC Conference “Emerging Threats Out of the Middle East: The Impact on a New Administration”

Sarah Stern
Founder & President of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)

Senator Mark Kirk
R- IL
Recipient of the Winston Churchill Award for Moral Integrity 

Representative Eliot Engel
D – NY
Recipient of the Winston Churchill Award for Moral Integrity

 


Geostrategic Analysis of the Middle East: Panel Discussion
Speakers:
Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, U.S. Army (ret.) & Chairman of Stand Up America
Dr. Daniel Pipes, President of the Middle East Forum
Eitan Arusy, Intelligence Specialist & CEO of Global Impact Services LLC
Frank Gaffney, Founder & President of the Center for Security Policy

Q&A Session for Geostrategic Analysis of the Middle East Panel

The Security Threat from Iran & Hezbollah

Speakers:
Congressman Jeff Duncan, Chairman of Foreign Affairs’ Western Hemisphere Subcommittee
Dr. Harold Rhode, Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute
Joseph Humire, Executive Director at the Center for a Secure Free Society

Q & A Session for Security Threat from Iran & Hezbollah Panel

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Vilifying Walid Phares‎

History has a strange way of judging people. American history honors ‎warriors of the past such as George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Douglas ‎MacArthur and Dwight D. Eisenhower, who struggled and fought for America’s ‎freedom and independence. However, the closer one gets to our current age of ‎moral relativism, the more critical we are of those who are thrust into a state of ‎conflict — those who have had to realize that their people’s survival sometimes ‎depends on defeating an enemy.‎

Walid Phares was born in 1957 to a Maronite Christian family in Beirut. By ‎the time Phares was in his 20s, Lebanon, which has always been more of a ‎mosaic of various religions and communities than a unified nation, had ‎plunged into a bloody civil war. Naturally, Phares supported his own Lebanese ‎Maronite Christian community’s efforts to defend itself in this brutal, ‎existential struggle against Syrian occupation on the one hand and Palestinian and Lebanese Sunni and Shiite terror on the other.‎

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Lebanon & Hezbollah Fact Sheet

Lebanon Hezbollah Fact Sheet

Lebanon is a largely non-functioning Republic, where three prominent offices are divided amongst the different religious groups. The President must be a Christian, the Prime Minister is a Sunni Muslim, and the Speaker of the National Assembly is a Shia Muslim. There is a unicameral National Assembly, with 128 seats and members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by majority vote. Assembly members serve 4-year terms and seats are apportioned among the Christian and Muslim denominations. In February of 2014, the current Prime Minister, Tammam Salam, a Sunni Muslim, was chosen; he is also acting President, since the Assembly has been unable to select a President.

The Hezbollah – or “Hizbullah”, meaning “The Party of God,” and sometimes using the cover name of “Islamic Jihad” – militia “has effectively taken over the Lebanese government.” Hezbollah is a Shiite Islamist political party, militant group and designated terrorist organization, which was founded in the 1980’s by Iran. It was originally created to oppose Israel and the West. Hezbollah is funded by Iran, with an estimated $100- 200 million annually.

Click here to read the full Lebanon & Hezbollah Fact Sheet
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