Killing Samir Kuntar.8:04 PM, Jul 29, 2015 • By LEE SMITH
Israeli media is reporting that an IAF strike on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights border killed several pro-Assad fighters today. One of them is believed to be Samir Kuntar. Many are hoping that it is.
The 53 year-old Kuntar killed a four-year girl with the butt of his rife and shot her father to death on an Israeli beach in 1979. He was held in Israeli prisons for 29 years and was released in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of two IDF soldiers killed and captured by Hezbollah. Kuntar, from a Druze family, was celebrated in his native Lebanon and throughout the Arab world as a hero of the resistance to the “occupation.” Al Jazeera threw a birthday party for him in 2008. Hezbollah gave him a job.
Kuntar was responsible for recruiting Druze from Syrian villages on the Golan to partake in Hezbollah operations on the Israeli border. Kuntar is believed to be responsible for inciting a gang of Israeli Druze to attack an IDF ambulance and lynch the two wounded Syrians the vehicle was carrying. More generally, Kuntar seems to have been tapped to lead Hezbollah Syria, the Party of God’s sister outfit, a post that was once filled by Jihad Mughniyeh, before he was killed by an Israeli strike in January.
The Golan is key strategic ground that Israel is loath to see Iran and its allies turn into a second front from where it can launch missile and rocket attacks. Accordingly, Israel has been coordinating with various Syrian rebel units in order to keep the Iranians and Hezbollah off the Golan. This morning’s strike is likely the product of intelligence provided by Syrian rebels.
It’s not yet clear how the Obama administration will react to today’s news. Surely there are no Samir Kuntar fans in the White House, and yet Kuntar was a significant part of Iran’s regional security architecture. The Iranians therefore are not going to be happy, and they may cause problems for the administration.
John Kerry says that the White House can and will push back against Iran, but that’s delusional. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is structured so that Iran pushes the buttons and controls the levers—if they don’t like what the White House is doing, or isn’t doing, they can threaten to cheat on the deal, or trash the agreement entirely. The White House is heavily invested in making sure the regime in Tehran is pleased with the new arrangements. What will the White House think about Israel bumping off Iranian assets?
Is Iran’s Lebanese client losing its grip? Feb 2, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 20 • By LEE SMITH
Last week Hezbollah buried one of its princes, Jihad Mughniyeh, the 22-year-old son of the late Imad Mughniyeh, a legendary Hezbollah commander implicated in such infamous operations as the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. The assassination
6:15 AM, Jun 23, 2014 • By PAUL WOLFOWITZ
The death of Fouad Ajami this weekend, at the age of 68, deprived this country and the world of a uniquely powerful voice – one that is at the same time both Arab and American – that could have helped guide us, as he has in the past, through the hazards and complications of his native Middle East.
11:22 AM, Jun 2, 2014 • By JONATHAN SCHANZER
Today the Palestinian Authority announced a joint interim government uniting Fatah and Hamas. West Bankers and Gazans cheer the move because the division between the two most powerful Palestinian factions has been a black eye for the Palestinian nationalist movement. Their rival religious and political visions, dating back to the creation of Hamas in 1987, have divided the Palestinians ideologically. Moreover, the territorial divisions resulting from the 2007 civil war in Gaza had made the creation of a unified, viable Palestinian entity all but impossible, until now.
Why Hezbollah is fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad—and almost didn’t.3:58 PM, Feb 12, 2014 • By MATTHEW LEVITT
Remember a few years ago when Iranian officials had to intervene to prevent Hezbollah gunmen from turning on their Syrian patrons? Few people do. Today, the "axis of resistance" is as strong as ever, with Iran and Hezbollah fully committed to fighting for the survival of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, despite battlefield losses and the political costs of siding with a brutal dictator who gasses and bombs his own people.
An exclusive interview with Lebanon’s former prime minister on the eve of the trial against the four Hezbollah members who murdered his father.12:20 PM, Jan 17, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Bombing in Hezbollah stronghold.2:18 PM, Jan 2, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
A car bomb detonated today in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold. So far, four are reported dead and over 50 have been injured. With rumors spreading that the bombing may have been the work of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a Sunni jihadist group with ties to al Qaeda, it seems that this was the latest in a series of moves indicating that the regional conflict with Syria as its red-hot center is growing ever wider, now encompassing all the Levant, from Baghdad to Beirut. In the Lebanese capital alone, within a one-week span a former Sunni minister was assassinated, Saudi Arabia bought a $3 billion share of a national army heavily infiltrated by Hezbollah, and then today the Party of God was targeted on its home turf.
But interim deal with Iran puts the White House and its traditional Middle East allies in opposing camps.2:52 PM, Nov 25, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
In the wake of the interim deal that the White House signed with Iran Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry said on the Sunday talk shows that nothing has changed, not with the American position in the Middle East, or with the U.S. alliance system in the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is screaming his head off, but Israel has nothing to worry about says Kerry.
1:44 PM, Nov 19, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
John Kerry is calling the attacks against the Iranian embassy in Lebanon today "terrorist bombings." And the U.S. secretary of state is condeming the action.
4:04 PM, Nov 15, 2013 • By KEN JENSEN
The cartoon above is from the Great Game era in Central Asia, when the British and Russians were in a contest for places like Afghanistan and Iran. It's strongly (perhaps perversely) suggestive given current events.
9:48 AM, Aug 19, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
Even with all eyes turned toward Egypt and the increasingly violent rifts pulling that society apart, the region’s active civil war in Syria burns on. Last Thursday, the two-and-a half-year-long conflict touched neighboring Lebanon, again, when a bomb detonated in the Hezbollah-held southern suburbs of Beirut killing 27 people and wounding hundreds.
After a week's worth of fighting in Syria, the Islamic resistance licks its wounds.3:16 PM, May 24, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
For over a week now, the Syrian town of Qusayr in Homs Province has seen some of the heaviest fighting in the two-year conflict. The struggle for Qusayr, says besieged President Bashar al-Assad, “is the main battle” in all of Syria.