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the syrian diversion nagi n. najjar

  1. The Syrian Diversion
    Nagi N. Najjar
    25 February 2003

    Syria is widely publicizing its withdrawal of Syrian troops from northern Lebanon. News from Beirut indicates that Syria is to making a substantial withdrawal from north Lebanon, the Lebanese army said last Tuesday. The redeployment was agreed upon at a meeting of the Lebanese Syrian military committee last Tuesday, the Lebanese army command said in a statement. This surprise move is bound to please Lebanese critics of Syria, mainly the opposition who have called for Syria to withdraw its troops from the country.

    A Lebanese newspaper, the Daily Star, reported that it was unclear last week if the Syrian troops in north Lebanon would return to Syria or be redeployed to the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon, near the Syrian border. A Lebanese military source said that the plan states that some 4,000 Syrian troops will leave Lebanon. He explained that the operation was to start as of last Wednesday, especially in the al-Batroun area to the north of Lebanon, and was to continue for five days. Arab News reported on February 21, 2003 that in a statement last Wednesday the Lebanese army announced the pullout operation, but did not specify if the withdrawn forces would be redeployed in other areas in Lebanon or return back to Syria. The statement gave no figures for the redeployment, but said it should be completed "within five days."

    The present Syrian withdrawal is one of many and typically means only a redeployment of troops in Lebanon for political reasons only. The present pseudo-withdrawal follows precedent and, while the Lebanese media touts the Taef Agreement as a reason for the withdrawal, they ignore that the agreement delineated Syrian withdrawal about ten years ago, without the slightest attempt by Syria to withdraw in the interim.

    Unfolding events paint another story of deceit, involving an attempt by Syria to whitewash their strong support of terror, domination of Lebanon, and full cooperation with Iraq, extending to assisting Iraq in hiding their banned weapons away from the eyes of the United Nations inspectors.

    Even this past Friday, February 21, 2003, curious events were afoot in Lebanon: all UN employees working in Lebanon received emergency orders not to cross the Litani River south under any circumstances, unless a specific order was received.


    We have received reports from our operatives in Lebanon and Syria that the Syrian controlled Sunni fundamentalists are planning on attacking Christian villages and acting as if Syria is not involved. Of course, the Sunni fundamentalists do nothing without approval from Syria and its master Iran, again leading to confusion as to Syrian motivation. The plan, as revealed by our intelligence sources, is to present the facade of Syrian non-involvement with Sunni fundamentalists, in order to free them from their terrorist contacts and cater to US needs for potential Arab allies in the portending war on Iraq. Our sources report that Syria is willing to sacrifice some Sunni fundamentalists so that they can proceed with their plan to make themselves necessary for peace in Lebanon, all the while continuing their terrorist activities. Indeed, Hizballah operatives are considering striking US interests and Christian political figures in East Beirut when the war in Iraq begins.

    Our sources report that Syria is preparing future massacres between the Sunni fundamentalists and Christian communities in northern Lebanon. What senior Lebanese security officials know to be the truth and are denying to the press and to the Christian public, is that Syria has been for the last two months supplying the Sunni fundamentalist groups in northern Lebanon with weapon and rockets, particularly in the Akkar region. Verifying this information have been credible reports coming from the Sunni fundamentalists that they plan to attack Christian villages in northern Lebanon as a retaliation for the US strike on Iraq. Supporting this information are verified reports of trucks loaded with weapons and ammunition that have been unloading all night long at different mosques in northern Lebanon.

    Daily intelligence reports coming from Lebanon indicate serious preparations by Sunni Salafist groups, including Lebanese and Palestinian military organizations in northern Lebanon, to attack Christian areas and the Christian Lebanese army positions, considered by them to be US allies. The Patriarch of Lebanon received warnings and threats not to travel to the United States in March, as his visit to the US will be considered a hostile move by the Islamic world. Cardinal Sfeir, due to fear of negative local repercussions, thus canceled his US itinerary.

    The Syrians are preparing a dangerous Sunni infrastructure inside the Lebanese army through many manipulated Sunnis, all bin Laden sympathizers, who are under orders to target northern Christian villages in Akkar . They are moving units during the night using local Sunni deputy’s cars, with "immunity" against search and moving "wanted" elements and munitions to strategic positions.

    Furthermore, the Syrian regime and its Lebanese puppet are harboring, protecting and arming most terrorist and criminal organizations wanted in the international arena, ranging from al-Qaida to Ousbat al-Ansar, Jund el-Shams, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, PFLP-GC, DFLP, and the Sunni Tawhid. We have counted more than three hundred Salafist Islamic schools in Tripoli and Akkar .They have a huge financial backbone, and their religious leaders, their sheikhs, are in every mosque, creating a cohesive military sub-group and giving instructions through religious fatwa to fight the infidels, meaning the Americans, Zionists and Christians. Their speeches indicate they are going to move during the Iraq conflict and expect a significant backup from other supporters of Iraq and through terrorist activities directed against the West.

    Syria is moving fast inside Lebanon with its plan to create religious strife during the developments in Iraq. Syria knows that after the Saddam regime will be vanished in Iraq, it will be the next target of the West, as a major terror-supporting nation, with a commensurate Syrian regime change seen as necessary for the stabilization of the Levant. This may come about by international pressure or by a military strike against its troops, proxies and the Hizballah, along with all the terror groups headquartered in Damascus.

    However, by creating chaos in northern Lebanon, Syria wants to demonstrate to the international community that its military presence in Lebanon is a stabilizing factor for the country and that if it leaves, civil war will break out again. A Lebanese presidential statement delivered by Emile Lahoud, a Syrian marionette, praised the role played by Syrian troops in "restoring stability and peace in Lebanon and in helping to reunite and rebuild the Lebanese army," which split along sectarian lines during the civil war.

    The Lebanese Foundation for Peace warns the Syrian government that it will be held accountable for any massacre in northern Lebanon. We are warning the Presidential Palace in Beirut: enough of your lies to the public, as the real situation is moving along with an alarming and dangerous momentum.
    Nagi N. Najjar is the Executive Director of the Lebanese Foundation for Peace.

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