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Wednesday, August 3, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

With Syria in tailspin, Lebanon said under control of Iran, Hizbullah

NICOSIA — The Lebanese government, amid the decline of its Syrian mentor, has lost control over much of the country.


Opposition sources said the government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati has lost control over the military and security services. They said the pro-Hizbullah government has watched how Iran and Hizbullah have taken virtual command over units in such areas as southern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley and the north.

"There are commanders in charge of key border areas who have little contact let alone take orders from the General Staff," an opposition source said.

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On Aug. 1, the U.S.-trained Lebanese Army opened fire on an Israel Army patrol along the border town of Rajar. The Israelis returned fire and a Lebanese soldier was injured in the second such incident in a year. The United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon determined that the Israelis had not crossed in Lebanon.

The sources, who include opposition parliamentarians, said neither Mikati, President Michel Suleiman nor Chief of Staff Gen. Jean Kahwaji has control over much of the military. They said Hizbullah now dominates all military forces along the border regions with Israel and Syria.

"The Israeli enemy tried again to revert back to attacks and provocations in the Wazani region, but you stood guard," Suleiman, a former chief of staff, told Lebanese soldiers.

Kahwaji was also said to have lost control over Sunni areas of Lebanon. The sources pointed to the lack of communications and coordination in wake of the latest bombing of a UNIFIL convoy near Sidon on July 26. Five French officers were wounded in the attack, with the Lebanese authorities unable to make arrests or identify the suspected bombers.

"The culprits for this attack and the previous attack on the Italians on May 27 must be found and detained and tried," UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Michael Williams, said on Aug. 2.

The sources said they expect attacks on Israel and UNIFIL to increase over the next few weeks. They said the decline of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has left a power vacuum filled by Iran and Hizbullah.

"It [Hizbullah] is exercising hegemony over the state's strategic decisions," Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said. "Hizbullah is not even willing to let its allies take part in these decisions."

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