opposition leaders hold both the Lebanese
and Syrian governments responsible for Mr Hariri’s death, and they are calling
for Syrian troops in Lebanon to be pulled out. At Hariri’s funeral, hundreds of
thousands of people from all Lebanese communities chanted “Syria out” as
Hariri’s coffin was carried in a cortege through the streets of Beirut.
Once-warring Druze, Muslim and Christian
factions, who used to slit each others’ throats, stood shoulder to shoulder, in
prayer for their deceased leader.
Beirut’s The Daily Star wrote: “The
reality the government should ponder is that Hariri’s funeral turnout was a
massive, popular vote of no-confidence in the government. Damascus should also
take heed of this poignant message.” Another paper, An-Nahar, described
the rally as “the largest referendum for unity and sovereignty in Lebanon’s
Lebanese Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt,
whose own father, Kamel, was reputedly assassinated by Syrians in 1997, said,
“This (Lebanese) regime is backed by Syria. This is the regime of terrorists and
terrorism that was able yesterday to wipe out Rafiq Hariri. I charge the
Lebanese-Syrian police regime with the responsibility for Hariri’s death.”
OPPOSITION MPs CALL FOR
FEB 18. Lebanon’s opposition, now led by
Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, has called for a peaceful “independence uprising”
to force the government to step down. The call which used the word “intifada” is
seen as a “summons to civic rebellion.” After a long meeting the opposition said
sit-ins should be held until the “illegitimate regime” (of Lahoud) resigned.
Tens of thousands have taken to the
streets in Tripoli, Sidon and Beirut in massive protests, shouting slogans that
blame Syria for Hariri’s assassination, and calling for free elections, and for
Syria to withdraw its troops.
Tourism Minister Farid al-Khazem resigned,
saying the government was unable to “remedy the dangerous situation in the
country.” But the opposition is calling for the whole cabinet to resign over
The opposition discussed whether its own
40 deputies should resign en masse from the 128-member parliament, and decided
to stay on to ensure they have a hand in drawing up a new electoral law ahead of
legislative elections due in May.
They want a representative government to
be formed which would then oversee the departure of Syrian troops from Lebanon.
THREAT OF CIVIL WAR
SIGNS of political upheaval are beginning
to emerge as Christian, Druze, Sunni and even some Shia factions join together
in an anti-Syria alliance.
Lebanese have attacked some of the
1,400,000 Syrian labourers inside Lebanon. And in response, the Syrian military
has reportedly begun supplying weapons to groups supporting Damascus, and to
workers in farms and factories “to protect themselves.”
The belligerent Hizb’allah leader Hassan
Nasrallah warned that “popular agitation against Syria’s grip on the country
could plunge Lebanon into civil war again.” Backed by Damascus and Tehran, he
exhorted the 100,000 Shi’ites massed in Beirut to mark the Ashura festival, and
not to forget the real enemy. “Death to Israel!” they roared after him.
U.S. & U.N. PRESSURE ON SYRIA
UN Secretary-General, Mr Annan, recently
wrote to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, urging him to comply with UN
resolution 1559 which calls for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon.
The US, which for some time has been
accusing Syria of supporting anti-Israeli terrorists and Sunni Muslim backers of
the Iraqi insurgency, says it will push for urgent US Security Council action to
pressure Syria to withdraw its forces from Lebanon.
Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has
warned Syria against interfering in Lebanon, but said she was not blaming the
attack on Syria, but Syria’s presence in Lebanon was destabilizing.
SOME FACTS ABOUT SYRIA
Syria is the N-E neighbour of both Israel
and Lebanon; it’s N of Jordan, and NW of Iraq, and S of Turkey. Its territory of
185,189 sq km is nearly 18 times greater than Lebanon’s, and its population at
15 million, is five times more.
Syria is separated from Iran in the east,
by a stretch of about 250 km of “Kurdistan.”
Syria is quite disparate to Iran and
normally it would seem to be an unlikely ally. The regime in Tehran (Iran) is
theocratic, absolutist and is strongly guided by the precepts of Shia Islam. The
Damascus (Syrian) government is secular, somewhat socialist in ideology, and has
a majority of Sunni Muslims.
AMERICAN AMBASSADOR PULLED OUT
THE US recalled its ambassador to Syria,
and is considering imposing new sanctions on Damascus.
According to a news report, Ambassador
Margaret Scobey delivered a stern note to the Syrian government prior to
leaving. She made it clear to Syria that the US expects Syria to act in
accordance with the UN Security Council resolution calling for the withdrawal of
all foreign forces from Lebanon, as well as the disbanding of militias there.
A Debka-file report says the US is
demanding, not only that Bashar Assad withdraws his troops and disbands the
Syrian-Lebanese militias, but more importantly, that he dismantles the Syrian
President Jacques Chirac of France, a
personal friend of Hariri, attended the funeral in Beirut, and also reacted
harshly to the assassination. Chirac is standing shoulder to shoulder with
George Bush on the Lebanon crisis.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom
said there was “no doubt that Syria … is uncomfortable with the prospect of
elections in Lebanon and the last thing they want is to be forced to leave
THE Syrian government swiftly denounced
the assassination and vigorously denied any involvement. President Bashar
Assad himself lamented the tragedy and labeled it a tragic terrorist attack.
Some commentators say that with the
increasing international heat on Syria, it would have been unlikely that Bashar
Assad’s regime would have plotted such a blatant assassination. Assad had, in
fact, been given a strong warning recently by the UN not to interfere with
Lebanon’s elections, and not to harm opposition politicians, specifically
Hariri, otherwise there would be “a total, final and irrevocable divorce from
the international community.”
Syria is grappling with serious internal
problems including divisions within the regime as the country decides, in the
coming weeks, whether it is going to yield to the pressure to pull out its
troops and cease backing terrorist movements.
pull out, it would not only loose big
trade benefits, but could face the very real danger of political upheaval in
Damascus. If it does not
pull out, the international pressure
will increase, sanctions will be applied, and again, political upheaval could
Earlier in February, Bashar Assad told a
UN special envoy that he would take steps to fulfil Resolution 1559 by the April
deadline. But he indicated that a withdrawal could be undertaken as part of a
greater peace agreement that would see Israel withdrawing from the Golan
INTELLIGENCE OUTFITS MAY BE TO
has long been a playground of intrigue for
militias and terror gangs working for various political parties as well as for
Syria and Iran.
Some observers suggest the perpetrators of
the assassination may not be the Assad regime itself, but rather, Syrian and/or
Iranian militia-intelligence groups operating in Lebanon – outfits that oppose
independence and the disbanding of militias – particularly Hizb’allah.
Israel, in fact, believes Hizb’allah is
the main culprit. Hizb’allah operates freely in Lebanon, under the Syrian eye.
Within a week of the assassination, the
head of the Syrian intelligence was removed from his post, and replaced by
Assad’s brother-in-law, Brigadier-General Asef Shawkat. Some see this as an
indication that Syrian intelligence was involved.
Whatever, Syria is now in the spotlight,
and Lebanon has been leap-froged into the centre of George Bush’s plans for
reform in the Middle East – and this time, he is supported by France.
With both Syria and Iran accused of being
sponsors of terrorism and providers of extensive support for terrorists in
Iraq, in Lebanon, and in the Palestinian territories, the war on terror widens,
the forces of radicalism consolidates, and the world presses on relentlessly
towards the climax of the age.
SYRIA AND IRAN UNITE
FEB 17. In response to the “threats facing
them,” Iran and Syria have made an extraordinary joint public statement of
unity, declaring that they would form a “common front to face all threats.” The
announcement came after a meeting in Tehran between the Iranian Vice-President
and the Syrian Prime Minister.
Iranian Vice-President Mohammed Reza Aref
said: “Our Syrian brothers are facing specific threats and we hope they can
benefit from our experience.”
Within hours of the joint statement, the
US declared it has “an increasing list of problems” with Syria!
FEB 21. A week after the killing of
Hariri, 100,000 Lebanese protesters gathered in Beirut, led by opposition
figures, and shouting slogans against Syria. Many protesters wore red and white
scarves, symbolizing the opposition’s “independence uprising.”
It was one of Lebanon’s biggest public
protests in 25 years. Many companies and schools closed for the day.
Security forces closed off most of the
capital’s central area and set up checkpoints on approaches to the city.
The European Union added to the call by
the US for an international investigation into the assassination. “There has to
be an independent probe, given the high-level of suspicion about the potential
involvement of Syria in the killing of former PM Hariri,” said UK Foreign
Secretary Jack Straw.
Lebanon’s Syrian-backed government says it
will co-operate with a UN investigation team due to arrive before the end of
Feb, but it has rejected calls for a full international inquiry.
SYRIA’S MIXED RESPONSE
FEB 21. Syria has defied US demands to
withdraw its forces from Lebanon and to disarm Hizb’allah militants. A leading
Syrian analyst and spokesman told US officials:
“Syria has national interests which must
be fulfilled before it can withdraw from Lebanon. If the US uses its leverage,
and pressures Israel to return the Golan Heights, only then can Syria fully
withdraw from Lebanon.”
FEB 24. Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed
al-Mualem says Syria will co-operate with the UN over implementing a resolution
calling for Syrian troops to leave Lebanon. Lebanon’s pro-Syrian Prime Minister
Omar Karami also warned that a quick withdrawal of Syrian troops would cause
SYRIA’S OCCUPATION OF LEBANON
THE 1975-1990 CIVIL WAR
Full-scale civil war broke out with the
Palestinians joining the domestic Muslim forces. Lebanon was informally divided,
with southern Lebanon and the western half of Beirut becoming bases for the PLO
and other Muslim militias, while the Maronite Christians controlled East Beirut
and the Christian section of Mt. Lebanon.
Beirut was effectively divided in two. The
main confrontation line, the Green Line, ran right through the middle of Beirut.
The fighting eventually spread to most parts of the country, and in June, 1976,
with the Maronites on the verge of defeat, the President called for Syrian
intervention. Syrian troops subsequently entered Lebanon and imposed a
Syria occupied the parts of Lebanon not
claimed by Muslims or Christians i.e., Tripoli and the Bekaa Valley. Despite the
Syrian occupation, fighting in Southern Lebanon continued. In the fall of 1976,
Arab summits in Riyadh and Cairo set out a plan to end the war. The resulting
Arab Deterrent Force, which included the Syrian troops already present, moved to
separate combatants. An uneasy quiet settled over Beirut, but security
conditions in the south began to deteriorate.
In 1981, armed forces of the Palestine
Liberation Organization (PLO) occupied large areas of southern Lebanon. Attacks
against Israeli territory increased, as the PLO’s armed forces used Lebanon as a
base to attack Israel with rockets and artillery. PLO soldiers fought with
Lebanese forces. In 1996, the World Lebanese Organization, the World Maronite
Union, and human rights groups concerned with the Middle East, issued a public
declaration accusing the PLO of genocide in Lebanon and stating they were
responsible for the deaths of 100,000 Lebanese civilians. Lebanon had no
effective central government at the time.
An interim cease-fire brokered by the
United States in 1981 between Syria, the PLO, and Israel was respected for
almost a year. Several hostile incidents between the parties led to the June 6,
1982, Israeli ground invasion of Lebanon. The Israelis labelled the invasion
Operation Peace for Galilee, with a view toward paving the way for an
Israeli-Lebanese peace agreement. Israeli forces drove 25 miles into Lebanon,
moving into East Beirut with the support of Maronite Christian leaders and
About this time radicalism amongst the
country’s different factions began to rise. In 1982 Hizb’allah emerged from a
loose coalition of Shia groups, supported by 1500 Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
The combat returned to Beirut in 1987,
with Palestinians, leftists, and Druze fighters allied against the Amal militia,
eventually drawing further Syrian intervention. Violent confrontation flared up
again in Beirut in 1988 between Amal and Hizb’allah.
After the war, Lebanon made progress
toward rebuilding its political institutions and regaining its national
sovereignty. Under the Taif Agreement - the blueprint for national
reconciliation - the Lebanese established a political system giving Muslims a
greater say in the political process.
Most of the militias have been weakened or
disbanded, and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have extended central government
authority over two-thirds of the country. Only the radical Shia party Hizb’allah
retains its weapons.
TAKING STOCK OF THE
IN VIEW of the increasing tension in the
region, it will be helpful to consider:
For several years, persistent rumours have been suggesting that Saddam Hussein’s
weapons of mass destruction found their way into Syria prior to the onset of the
Iraq war, and that they were hidden in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon - an area
controlled by Hizb’allah and Syrian troops.
Syria, is believed to possess a significant stockpile of chemical weapons, and
is believed to have an ongoing bio-weapons program as well. It already has
missiles capable of carrying these weapons, but it is now to be supplied with
advanced Russian missiles.
Ariel Sharon received a letter in mid-Feb from Russian President Vladimir Putin,
informing him of Russia’s decision to go ahead with the sale of advanced
anti-aircraft missiles to Syria. (Israel has been waging a diplomatic battle
against this deal. Sharon wrote to Putin that the missiles could undermine
Israel’s security as they could “leak” to Hizb’allah and other terror groups.)
Mr Putin told Sharon in the letter that
the weapons were not shoulder-missiles favoured by the terror organizations, but
rather they would be mounted on vehicles, and therefore they would not endanger
Israel. He said Syria could oversee the placement of the missiles so as not to
upset the balance of power in the area. –
Ha’aretz / 17 Feb 05
Moscow supports both Syria and Iran which are being tied into the Northern
Confederation led by Rosh.
Damascus is home to many of the world’s most deadly terrorist organizations, all
of whom are bent on destroying the nation of Israel.
Damascus, which controls Hizb’allah as well as diverse Palestinian groups and
radical Islamic organizations, has the means to plunge Lebanon into chaos. And
there’s a very real risk that civil war could break out again in Lebanon.
Syria’s newly-declared ally, Iran is currently close to obtaining nuclear
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom,
whose country regards Iran as one of its most dangerous enemies, said on 16 Feb,
that Tehran was “trying very hard to develop the nuclear bomb,” and that it is
“just six months away from being able to build an atomic bomb.”
The head of Russia’s Security Council, Igor Ivanov, has asserted Iran’s right to
find access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Iran’s former president, Hashemi Rafsanjani has said it was important for
relations to be strengthened between
Iran, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and other
Israel and Syria are bitter enemies, and with the dispute over the Golan Heights
not settled, and with Damascus refusing to stop aiding and harbouring terrorists
and the organizations that support them, an ultimate conflict between them is
only a matter of time.
With chemical and biological weapons in its arsenal, Syria is capable of
launching an attack and inflicting massive casualties on the Israeli people.
If attacked or threatened with weapons of mass destruction, Israel would find
itself in a desperate situation, and would be forced to launch a nuclear attack
on Damascus to save itself.
Damascus, the capital of Syria, the oldest continually inhabited city in the
world – 4500 years, is marked by God for destruction:
“The oracle concerning
Damascus: Look! Damascus is about to be removed from being a city, and it will
become a heap of ruins.”
Hariri’s assassination is bound to have a negative effect on the
Israel-Palestinian peace process as well as the democratic process in Iraq, but
it could also prove to be the catalyst that unleashes another major conflict in
the Middle East, and that also accelerates the growth of a major coalition …
THE NORTHERN, RUSSIA-LED CONFEDERATION
THE prophet Ezekiel foretold a great
confederation of nations led by Rosh would come down against Israel in the
endtimes. Many nations are included in the confederation, some of them being
mentioned by name. The prophecy was in about the year 580 BC:
“‘Son of man, set your face against Gog of
the land of Magog, the chief prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy
against him, and say, The Sovereign Master, YHWH, says: Listen! I am against
you, O Gog, chief prince of Rosh (Russia), Meshech (Moscow), and
Tubal (Tobolsk, in Asiatic Russia).
“‘I will turn you around, put hooks into
your jaws and bring you out with your whole army - your horses and horsemen all
fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them
brandishing swords. Persia (Iran), Cush (Ethiopia-Sudan), and Put
(Libya) will be with them, all with shields and helmets; Gomer
(Germany) also with all its troops; and the House of Togarmah from the far
north (Turkey and the Turkic peoples of Central Asia) with all its troops
- many nations with you.
“‘Get ready; be prepared, you and all the
hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. After many days you will be
summoned; in the latter years you will invade the land that has recovered from
the sword, whose people have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of
Israel which had long been desolate. Its people had been brought out from the
nations, and now all of them are living securely. You and all your troops and
the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a
cloud covering the land’.”
Syria is not mentioned in this prophecy,
but it is the traditional King of the North, and enemy of Israel. In Scripture
Syria is mostly referred to as “Aram.”
Daniel 11:21-35 speaks of the historical
Syrian kings of the North – Antiochus 3, and Antiochus Epiphanes. From verse 36
the prophecy looks forward to the end- time, and to the Great Tribulation World
The prophecy deals with the King of the
South, the King of the North, and also “the king who does as he pleases” –that
is, the Antichrist coming from the Roman Confederation. The King of the North
at the endtime is much more than Syria – it is the vast northern confederation
that Ezekiel identified. Undoubtedly Syria is included. The prophecy reads:
“At the end time the king of the South
(Egypt) will engage him (Antichrist) in battle, and the King of the
North (the Northern Confederation including Syria) will storm against him
with chariots, horsemen, and with a great fleet of ships. He (Antichrist)
will invade many countries, overwhelming and sweeping through them. He
will also invade the Beautiful Land (Israel). Many countries will
fall, but Edom, Moab and the foremost of the sons of Ammon (Jordan) will
be delivered from his hand. He will extend his power over many countries,
and the land of Egypt will not escape.”
(The words in italics
are not in the original scriptures; we have used them by way of interpretation.)
Current events indicate that the axis
between Syria, Iran and Russia is developing fast. Sudan is also tied in through
Iran, and most of the nations of Beth-Togarmah are already included. We are
keenly watching for signs that Germany and Turkey are also to be included in the
Russian-led northern confederation.
“When these things begin
to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is
PROPHECIES REGARDING LEBANON
one prophecy that indicates a disaster for Lebanon:
“Open your doors, O Lebanon, so that fire
may devour your cedars. Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, because the
magnificent trees have been destroyed.”
The chapter does not stipulate the timing
of this event, but as the chapters before and after deal with events of the
endtimes, this could well be a Tribulation event.
And then there’s another prophecy
concerning millennial blessing for Lebanon:
“Is it not yet just a little while before
Lebanon will be changed into a fertile and fruitful field, and the
fruitful field will be regarded as a forest? On that day the deaf shall hear the
words of a scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall
see. The meek and afflicted will increase their joy in YHWH, and
the needy of mankind shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”
PROPHECIES REGARDING SYRIA
“The oracle concerning Damascus: Look!
Damascus is about to be removed from being a city, and it will become a heap of
ruins.” (Isaiah 17:1)
The destruction of Damascus is expanded in
the prophecies of Jeremiah and Amos.
“Concerning Damascus: ‘Hamath and Arpad
have been put to shame, for they have heard bad news. They have melted away with
anxiety. There is distress on the sea which cannot be calmed. Damascus has
become feeble; she has turned to flee, and panic has seized her. Anguish and
pain have taken hold of her like a woman in labour.
“‘How it has been deserted - the city of
praise, the city of My joy! Therefore, her young men will fall in her streets,
and all the men of war will be silenced in that day,’ declares YHWH of Hosts. ‘I
shall set fire to the wall of Damascus, and it will consume the fortified towers
“YHWH says: ‘For three transgressions of
Damascus and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they
threshed Gilead with implements of sharp iron. So I will send fire upon
the house of Hazael (founder of the Aramean-Syrian dynasty), and it will
consume the citadels of Ben-Hadad (Hazael’s son). I will also break the
gate bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the Valley of Aven,
and the one who holds the sceptre, from Beth-Eden. The people of Aram (Syria)
will be exiled to Kir,’ says YHWH.”
A WORD FOR BELIEVERS
“Let us not give up meeting together, as
some are in the habit of doing, but let us
exhort and encourage one another - and all the more, as you see the Day
of YHWH approaching.”