The past week saw two extremely important events take place simultaneously: the US occupation forces had to stop their offensive against the Sadrists in Baghdad and the complete collapse of the pro-US/Israeli regime in Lebanon. In the latter case it now appears that Hezbollah literally *owns* Lebanon and that the puppet regime of Siniora, Hariri and Jumblatt only was left alive because Hassan Nasrallah decided to deal with them on a political rather than military level, a very wise strategic decision indeed.

LEBANON:

There can be no doubt left at all that the Lebanese Army has no desire whatsoever to taken on Hezbollah and that, in fact, Hezbollah and the Lebanese Army are now openly working hand-in-hand. This was particularly well illustrated by the fact that the Army did not fire one single shot towards Hezbollah operators and that Hezbollah was more than happy to hand over the buildings and militiamen from the various pro-government factions to the Lebanese Army.

It appears that the US taxpayer has spent over 1.3 billion dollars to train and equip a pro-Hezbollah Lebanese Army. That just goes to show, yet again, that the US intelligence community is the single most inept, incompetent and ignorant intelligence community on the planet (well, maybe Tuvalu’s or Butan ‘s are even worse, but they are also much cheaper for sure).

Hezbollah reportedly captured and disarmed over 800 militiamen from “Future” movement of Hariri. No doubt, Hezbollah intelligence carefully interrogated them and made of full list of these militiamen. One can only imagine the number of US and Israeli spying networks which were uncovered and eliminated over the past week.

Lastly, since it has now become clear that the Lebanese Army is either unwilling or unable to taken on Hezbollah (probably a combination of both, really) and that it is in fact closely coordinating its actions with Hezbollah the entire US-Israeli face-saving plan to stop the 2006 war is now publicly unraveling. If the Lebanese Army has not fired a single shot against Hezbollah while Hezbollah was capturing most of Beirut and placing top government leaders into de-facto house arrest (guarded by the very same Lebanese Army, I would add) even though the government was hollering for the Army to do something, then it is rather obvious that the Lebanese Army would do nothing in the south of the country without Hezbollah’s approval.

The Hezbollah Shura Council has decided to deal with the Siniora puppet government by political rather then military means even though it could have easily crushed it had it wanted to do so. This is fully consistent with Hezbollah’s long-time pledge not to turn its guns on its fellow-Lebanese. This week, Hezbollah was forced to defend itself as the decision to take down its communications network was truly an ‘existential threat’ to the movement and, I would argue, for all of Lebanon (because it would cripple the command and control capabilities of the only force capable of protecting the country in case of Israeli attack). Still, Hezbollah showed an amazing amount of restraint and its willingness to turn over to the Army all the territory it conquered in heavy combat shows an amazing degree of discipline and political savvy (of course, it also shows that Hezbollah knows that it can take it all back, if needed, even faster than the last time around). In other words, Hezbollah added a PR triumph to its military victory.

IRAQ:

It appears that the US occupation forces have called off their anti-Sadrist campaign in Beghdad, at least for the time being. So far, there is very little information available on what exactly happened and, in particular, who mediated the end of this operation and whether it was the CENTCOM or the Maliki government who took the decision to call it off. One needs to remember here that the Maliki government has, at times, taken decisions which have greatly irritated the American occupation forces and though Maliki and his regime are clearly collaborators they do carefully hedge their bets. I would not exclude the possibility that a great deal of pressure was exercised on Maliki by the Iranians and by al-Hakim. An alternative explanation for this sudden change of plans could be that the Americans finally came to their senses and realized that the carnage they were causing in Sadr City would yield nothing besides yet another PR disaster. Whatever the case, the anti-Sadr campaign was suddenly called off without any real explanations.

Sadr has proven over and over again that he is a survivor and that even when the Americans openly attack him he comes out unscathed – and even stronger – every time. Having survived the US campaign in Najaf in 2004, the recent operation against his forces in Basra and now the siege of Sadr City, Moqtada al-Sadr’s popularity will only rise further. In contrast, Maliki’s government is openly loathed by pretty much all sectors of the Iraqi society.

Even Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani is now in hot political waters and Moqtada al-Sadr has reportedly openly lashed out at him for his passivity during the siege of Sadr City:

BAGHDAD (AFP) — An aide to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr lashed out on Friday at Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, for keeping silent over clashes that have killed hundreds in Baghdad.

“We are surprised by the silence in Najaf where the highest Shiite religious authority is based,” Sheikh Sattar Battat said, referring to Sistani. “For 50 days Sadr City is being bombed … Children, women and old people are being killed by all kinds of US weapons, and Najaf remains silent,” he told the faithful at the weekly Friday prayers in Sadr City, Sadr’s stronghold.

Battat said the Sadr movement has not seen any “reaction or fatwa (religious decree) from Najaf” criticising the government assault on Shiite fighters in Sadr City. “For us this means that Najaf accepts the massacre in Sadr City,” a sprawling slum district that has been the site of fierce clashes between US forces and Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia since late March.

Assuming that Battat was speaking on Sadr’s behalf, and there is no reason to assume otherwise, then this declaration my herald a new era in Sadr-Sistani relations in which the latter will have to stop the careful exercise in ‘silent fence-sitting’ which he has been engaged in ever since he forced the US occupation forces to agree to a direct popular elections in 2004-2005.

It is too early to draw any further conclusions about the situation in Iraq, too little is really known about what exactly just happened. What is clear is that the two opening battles in the anti-Shia war the US and Israel have launched have not at all gone according to plans. Will that be enough to stop the entire campaign? I doubt it.

Clearly, the Imperial war on the Shia has suffered two major setbacks this week. The outcome in Lebanon, in particular, is nothing short of a strategic disaster for the USraelian Empire (the outcome in Iraq is less catastrophic, but still rather disturbing for the Neocons). To put it bluntly, the “Cedar Revolution” is over, the entire “Lebanese campaign” is lost and Hezbollah comes out stronger than ever before: Lebanon is now completely under Hezbollah’s control and clique of overweight CIA/Mossad stooges which used to run Lebanon in the past has lost all its power and credibility. Sure, they still have many millions of dollars to throw around, but that is unlikely to do the trick: the Empire might be dumping them, probably concluding – correctly – that they are useless.

The fact is that neither France, nor the USA, not even Israel have done *anything* to help their puppets in Beirut. The Empire just looked the other way while Hezbollah operators were taking over West Beirut encircling the mansions of Hariri and Jumblatt. In the bad old days, the Israelis would send their jet fighters to break the sound barrier over Beirut while the French and Americans would prepare their stormtroopers for a possible operation. This time, nothing like that happened at all (the Israelis did not even bother concealing their disgust with their Lebanese puppets).

Still, we need to keep in mind the “blame Iran for everything” delusion which is so central to the Neocon and Zionist worldview. Heck, they even blamed Iran for the abject debacle of Fatah in Gaza! Likewise, there were attempts by Neocons to blame Iran for “arming the Taliban”, nevermind that the Taliban and the Iranians are moral enemies. While Iran clearly had nothing at all to do with Gaza or Afghanistan, Iran is, beyond any dispute, a key player in both Iraq and Lebanon. There is mounting evidence that the Iranians are, in fact, supporting Moqtada al-Sadr and it is not secret at all the Iran and Hezbollah are very closely allied with each other. Thus, while *blaming* Iran for the outcomes in Iraq and Lebanon makes no sense, it is far more credible as a propaganda line as it has at least some basis in facts.

This is why I do not think that the Imperial defeats of last week will stop the assault on Iran. Quite to the contrary, I am afraid that it will only energize the Iran-bashing Zionists and their Neocon brethren in the USA to “finally take care of the Ayatollahs”.

Furthermore, a war with Iran, even if it proves disastrous, is objectively to the advantage of McCain and Hillary, both rabid Neocons and Zionists, and who can only get elected in a fearful, flag-waving America. Thus pressing ahead with the assault on Iran is a win/win strategy for the Zionists and the Neocons. That such a strategy will prove disastrous for Israel and the USA will not stop them at all.

The Saker

(PS: sorry for this very rapidly written analysis. I am very pressed for time and I cannot do better than that right now)

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