Posts Tagged ‘Terrorism’


Guest Post: 
Clash On Israel-Lebanon Border Holds Potential For Strategic Escalation

Submitted by Yossef Bodansky for www.oilprice.com


The August 3, 2010, armed clash along the Israeli-Lebanese border was a significant strategic incident.

On Thursday, July 29, 2010, Israel notified UNIFIL that a few Israeli soldiers would be crossing the security fence in order to cut a tree and remove a few shrubs in Israeli territory but near the Blue Line (the actual border between Israel and Lebanon). This foliage blocks the view of Israeli security cameras positioned deep inside Israel. Israel also notified UNIFIL that these soldiers would be escorted by a small patrol which would stay south of the security fence.

The Israeli notification was in accordance with UNSC resolution 1701. UNIFIL then informed the nearby positions of the Lebanese Armed Forces about the planned Israeli activities in order to ensure that there was no misunderstanding. The Lebanese Army notified the local HizbAllah force.

Significantly, the Lebanese Army unit deployed along the border with Israel is the 9th Division, whose commanders and troops are Shi’ites and recruited from the same manpower pool as the HizbAllah.

Around 10:30am on August 3, 2010, about 10 Israeli soldiers with saws crossed the gate in the security fence on foot. This detachment was covered by an Israeli patrol which included a few tanks, armored vehicles, and a command vehicle. As UNIFIL had been informed, the patrol stayed 200-300 meters south of the fence.

When the soldiers approached the tree, they were attacked by small arms automatic fire from both the Lebanese Army’s position just across the border and “civilians” (HizbAllah fighters) in the nearby village of Adissyeh.

Immediately, a few Israeli commanders ran from the command vehicle toward the fence to see what was happening. Snipers hiding in the bush adjacent to the Lebanese Army position fired on them, killing the Israeli battalion commander (a lieutenant-colonel) and critically wounding the company commander (a captain). The sniper fire came from a professional ambush that had been organized on the basis of the advance warning provided by UNIFIL.

Meanwhile, the shooting at the Israeli soldiers north of the fence intensified. Israeli forces opened small-arms and mortar fire on the sources of fire in the Lebanese Army position and in a couple of unfinished houses in Adissyeh. Two Israeli tanks and an armored personnel carrier moved forward toward the fence in order to evacuate the stranded soldiers. At this point a UNIFIL patrol arrived on the scene and the UN officers urged both sides to ceasefire. The firing stopped a few minutes later.

Escorted by the UN patrol, the two Israeli tanks and the armored personnel carrier continued to advance toward the gate in the fence in order to evacuate the soldiers. Suddenly an anti-tank missile was fired from either the Lebanese Army position or the bush immediately near it. The missile barely missed the UNIFIL vehicle and the tanks. The Israeli tanks opened fire on the missile launcher.

Major activity followed. Intense fire — small arms, heavy machineguns, mortars, and RPGs — was opened from both several Lebanese Army positions as well as HizbAllah positions in Adissyeh. Israel rushed additional tanks and artillery to the area and started bombarding all Lebanese positions. One or two Katyusha rockets were launched toward Israel, impacted in open space and caused no damage.

A pair of Israeli combat helicopters arrived on the scene. They attacked the main Lebanese Army position near Adissyeh, and subsequently the Lebanese Army battalion headquarters in the village of Al-Taybeh. The helicopters also attacked and destroyed several Lebanese Army armored vehicles which were parked near the headquarters. Three Lebanese soldiers and a journalist (from the pro-HizbAllah newspaper Al-Akhbar) who was with the troops in Al-Taybeh were killed. Another soldier was killed in the position near Adissyeh. A total of five to six soldiers were wounded. There is no reliable information about HizbAllah casualties.

The fire subsided after little over two and a half hours.

This was a very serious incident for two reasons:

1. The incident started as a pre-planned pre-meditated provocation against the Israeli patrol on the basis of information provided via UNIFIL. The mere invitation by the Army of the Al-Akhbar correspondent to cover the clash suggests that this was a pre-planned incident. The incident was conducted jointly by Lebanese Army forces and HizbAllah forces, proving that the close cooperation which HizbAllah leader Hassan Nasrallah had boasted about repeatedly is indeed working (at least with the Army’s Shi’ite units such as the 9th Division).

2. Earlier, on Monday, August 2, 2010, HizbAllah and Iranian media warned that the Israeli cabinet had considered “the prospects of an upcoming war on the Lebanese, Syrian and Gaza fronts in anticipation of tensions on the Lebanese domestic scene” because of the impending indictment of senior HizbAllah officials by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). The HizbAllah, Syria, and Iran are calling on all Lebanese to ignore the STL and instead rally and close ranks behind the “Resistance” in order to confront the Israeli threat. Under these circumstances, the incident on the Israeli-Lebanese border should be considered a made-to-order “proof” of the HizbAllah and Iranian warnings.

Indeed, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman denounced the fighting and urged the Army and all Lebanese to “stand up to Israel’s violation of Resolution 1701, whatever the price”. According to the Syrian Arab News Agency, Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad stated that the “Israeli attack proves once again that Israel is constantly working to destabilize security in Lebanon and the region. Syria stresses that it is standing by its sister Lebanon in the face of the criminal Israeli aggression and calls on the UN to condemn and stop this aggression.”

However, the main event in the aftermath of the clash is an anticipated major speech by Hassan Nasrallah. The speech was scheduled for 20:30 on August 3, 2010 (Lebanon time), but its exact time was being constantly changed. Senior HizbAllah officials predict that Nasrallah’s speech “will mark a turning point” for Lebanon and the entire Middle East. They explained that Nasrallah would “focus on the national and Islamic dimension of the July [2006] war” and its implications for the current situation in the entire region. Nasrallah’s speech, the Senior HizbAllah officials stress, “will mainly be devoted to talk about the meaning of victory against Israel” in both past wars and in the historic confrontation still to come.

Given the above, the August 2, 2010, rocket firing from southern Sinai of Aqaba, Eilat, and a base of the US-led Multinational Force & Observers Organization in Sinai might also be part of this kind of made-to-order “proof” of Israeli aggression. Significantly, the six 122mm GRAD rockets fired from Sinai were made in Iran or North Korea, strongly suggesting that the perpetrators were Iran-sponsored main group rather than a Palestinian fringe entity.

Source: http://oilprice.com/Geo-Politics/Middle-East/Clash-on-Israel-Lebanon-Border-Holds-Potential-for-Strategic-Escalation.html

by Yossef Bodansky for OilPrice.com who offer detailed analysis on Oil, alternative Energy, Commodities, Finance and Geopolitics. They also provide free Geopolitical intelligence to help investors gain a greater understanding of world events and the impact they have on certain regions and sectors. Visit: http://www.oilprice.com

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from the archive of the Jerusalem Post

Assad’s Lebanon By JERUSALEM POST EDITORIAL 20/03/2010

Photo by: AP
Hariri and Jumblatt’s capitulation marks the demise of the tattered remains of Lebanese independence.

While Syria steadily makes strides toward breaking free from international isolation, and while its leaders purport to espouse the spirit of peaceful reconciliation, Damascus is teaching the world an object lesson in how it reaches understandings and what it considers accommodation. But is the world listening? There was a marked absence of shock, to say nothing of censure, when Lebanese Druse leader Walid Jumblatt apologized last week to Syrian President Bashar Assad for having dared accuse him of assassinating former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri in 2005. Jumblatt had previously “forgiven” Assad’s father, Hafez Assad, for assassinating his own father, Kamal Jumblatt, in 1977. In the wake of Hariri’s murder, the Bush administration withdrew its ambassador from Damascus. Recently, the Obama administration pointedly opted to reinstate an American ambassador in the Syrian capital, with no quid-for-quo. Indeed, rather than cleaning up its act, Damascus thumbed its nose at the new US efforts at engagement when Assad two weeks ago held a much-hyped powwow with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and Hizbullah chieftain Hassan Nasrallah. This, too, failed to elicit even a murmur of protest, much less a symbolic slap on the wrist. Seasoned political player Jumblatt has evidently internalized that Assad’s star is in the ascendent, his misbehavior notwithstanding. The Druse leader, after all, is an experienced hand at surviving amid the convoluted contortions of Lebanese affairs. With Washington pulling the rug from under him, Jumblatt plainly realized that the key to staying alive was to bow down wretchedly to Syrian dominance. To earn his ticket of admission to the reinvigorated and self-assured Damascus, Jumblatt, until recently a mainstay of Lebanon’s anti-Syrian coalition, was ordered – significantly via Nasrallah’s “mediation” – to apologize to Assad. No less. Jumblatt did so obsequiously after Hizbullah announced his “courageous review of his past stance.” Jumblatt had for years urged revenge against Syria and branded Assad a “snake” and a “tyrant.” Under Nasrallah’s supervision, Jumblatt has now atoned for “saying, at a moment of anger, what is improper and illogical against President Bashar Assad. It was a moment of ultimate internal tension and division in Lebanon.” Like a supplicant before an all-powerful despot, Jumblatt promised to both “forgive and forget” and implored that “a new page be turned.” THE DRUSE leader is not the only one to have come cap in hand to Assad recently, pleading for “a new page.” Sa’ad Hariri – Lebanon’s prime minister and Jumblatt’s principal partner in the anti-Syrian front that was established with much fanfare on March 14, 2005 – did exactly the same. He, too, extolled the virtues of the “new page,” went to Damascus, embraced the very honchos he had accused of murdering his father, Rafik, and is reportedly soon bound for Teheran as well. That’s how Syria defines compromise – unquestionable subjugation of any hint of dissent. After Syria’s opponents have been manifestly tamed and humiliated, they may be tolerated and enjoy the Godfather’s protection. Before Jumblatt saw the light, he repeatedly expressed fear of assassination. His political volte-face may have prolonged his life. But the capitulation of Hariri and Jumblatt – both sons of leaders eliminated gangland-style to the Assads’ satisfaction – underscores more than personal vicissitudes. It marks the effective end of the March 14 camp and with it the demise of the tattered remains of Lebanese independence. Although, pro forma, Syria withdrew its troops from Lebanon in 2005, its stranglehold on its small neighbor has only tightened of late, with Hizbullah actively abetting Syrian hegemony. Lebanon is today sovereign in name only. In effect, it is again nothing less than Damascus’s hand puppet. And as the international community clamors hoarsely for the establishment of a brand new state, Palestine, it acquiesces with extraordinary equanimity to the destruction of another, established Arab state’s self-determination. This is something to be pondered carefully by all those at home and abroad who urge Israel to make concessions to Damascus. Many in the security establishment argue fiercely that it is in Israel’s vital interest to seek an accord with Syria, in large part to try to peel Damascus away from Teheran, and there is indeed such an interest, if it is feasible. But the grim evidence is that not only has the Assad regime not reformed, but its attachment to the Axis of Evil is being patently reinforced. Meanwhile, the chastened Jumblatt has now remembered who to blame for Lebanon’s ills – Israel. Not coincidentally, Hariri is chanting the identical mantra. “All of Lebanon’s woes,” he intoned last week, “are Israel’s fault.” Assad must be delighted.

All rights reserved © 1995 – 2009 The Jerusalem Post.

Assad’s Lebanon

________________________

The MasterBlog



The Israeli-Lebanese border is exceptionally calm and uniquely dangerous, both for the same reason: fear that a new round of hostilities would be far more violent and could spill over regionally.

Drums of War: Israel and the “Axis of Resistance”, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines developments since the indecisive 2006 confrontation. It focuses on the de facto deterrence regime that has helped keep the peace: all parties now know that a next conflict would not spare civilians and could escalate into broader regional warfare. However, the process this regime perpetuates mutually reinforcing military preparations; enhanced military cooperation among Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hizbollah; escalating Israeli threats – pulls in the opposite direction and could trigger the very outcome it has averted so far.

Drums of War: Israel and the “Axis of Resistance”

Beirut/Jerusalem/Damascus/Washington/Brussels

MENA Report Nº972 Aug 2010
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Of all the explanations why calm has prevailed in the Israeli-Lebanese arena since the end of the 2006 war, the principal one also should be cause for greatest concern: fear among the parties that the next confrontation would be far more devastating and broader in scope. None of the most directly relevant actors – Israel, Hizbollah, Syria and Iran – relishes this prospect, so all, for now, are intent on keeping their powder dry. But the political roots of the crisis remain unaddressed, the underlying dynamics are still explosive, and miscalculations cannot be ruled out. The only truly effective approach is one that would seek to resume – and conclude – meaningful Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese peace talks. There is no other answer to the Hizbollah dilemma and, for now, few better ways to affect Tehran’s calculations. Short of such an initiative, deeper political involvement by the international community is needed to enhance communications between the parties, defuse tensions and avoid costly missteps.
Four years after the last war, the situation in the Levant is paradoxical. It is exceptionally quiet and uniquely dangerous, both for the same reason. The build-up in military forces and threats of an all-out war that would spare neither civilians nor civilian infrastructure, together with the worrisome prospect of its regionalisation, are effectively deterring all sides. Today, none of the parties can soberly contemplate the prospect of a conflict that would be uncontrolled, unprecedented and unscripted.
Should hostilities break out, Israel will want to hit hard and fast to avoid duplicating the 2006 scenario. It will be less likely than in the past to distinguish between Hizbollah and a Lebanese government of which the Shiite movement is an integral part and more likely to take aim at Syria – both because it is the more vulnerable target and because it is Hizbollah’s principal supplier of military and logistical support. Meanwhile, as tensions have risen, the so-called “axis of resistance” – Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hizbollah – has been busy intensifying security ties. Involvement by one in the event of attack against another no longer can be dismissed as idle speculation.
Other restraining elements are at play. UN Security Council Resolution 1701 led to a thickening of the Lebanese and international armed presence in southern Lebanon after the 2006 war, which has constrained Hizbollah’s freedom of action while simultaneously putting the brakes on any potential Israeli military ambition. Even as both sides routinely criticise and violate the resolution – which concurrently called for the end of arms transfers to Lebanon’s non-governmental forces, disarmament of its armed groups and full respect for the country’s sovereignty – they continue to value the framework defined by it as an integral component of the status quo.
Hizbollah’s enhanced political status in Lebanon is an additional inhibiting factor, discouraging it from initiatives that could imperil those gains. Israel’s current government – its reputation notwithstanding – appears less inclined at this point to take the risk twice taken by its more centrist predecessor of initiating hostilities, seeking to prove it can maintain stability and worried about a more hostile international environment. Despite voicing alarm at Hizbollah’s military growth, it has displayed restraint. U.S. President Barack Obama, likewise, far from the one-time dream of a new Middle East harboured by his predecessor, has no appetite for a conflagration that would jeopardise his peace efforts and attempts to restore U.S. credibility in the region. All of which explains why the border area has witnessed fewer violent incidents than at any time in decades.
But that is only the better half of the story. Beneath the surface, tensions are mounting with no obvious safety valve. The deterrence regime has helped keep the peace, but the process it perpetuates – mutually reinforcing military preparations; Hizbollah’s growing and more sophisticated arsenal; escalating Israeli threats – pulls in the opposite direction and could trigger the very outcome it has averted so far. If Israel would not like a war, it does not like what it is seeing either.

It is not clear what would constitute a red line whose crossing by the Shiite movement would prompt Israeli military action, but that lack of clarity provides additional cause for anxiety. Unlike in the 1990s, when the Israel-Lebanon Monitoring Group, operating with U.S., French and Syrian participation, ensured some form of inter-party contacts and minimal adherence to agreed rules of the game, and when Washington and Damascus were involved in intensive dialogue, today there is no effective forum for communication and thus ample room for misunderstanding and misperception.

Meanwhile, an underground war of espionage and assassinations has been raging, for now a substitute for more open confrontation. The parties might not want a full-scale shooting war, but under these circumstances one or the other could provoke an unwanted one. Further contributing to a sense of paralysis has been lack of movement on any 1701-related file, from the seemingly easiest – Israel’s withdrawal from the northern (Lebanese) part of the village of Ghajar – to the most complex, including policing the Lebanese-Syrian border, resolving the status of Shebaa Farms, disarming Hizbollah and ending Israeli over-flights. Such paralysis feeds scepticism that anything can be achieved and, over time, could wear down the commitment of contributors to the UN peacekeeping force (UNIFIL).
The key to unlocking this situation is – without neglecting the central Israeli-Palestinian track – to resume meaningful negotiations between Israel on the one hand and Syria and Lebanon on the other. This is the only realistic way to shift underlying dynamics and, in particular, affect Syria’s calculations. Without that, Damascus will continue to transfer weapons to Hizbollah, the Shiite movement will successfully resist pressure to disarm and Israel will keep on violating Lebanon’s sovereignty.
There is scant reason for optimism on the peace front, however. That means little can be achieved, not that nothing can be done. The most urgent tasks are to restore momentum on 1701 by focusing on the most realistic goals and to establish consultative mechanisms to defuse tensions, clarify red lines and minimise risks of an accidental confrontation. Better channels of communication would help. At present, the U.S. is talking mainly to one side (Israel), keeping another at arm’s length (Syria), ignoring a third (Hizbollah) and confronting the fourth (Iran). The UN might not have that problem, but it has others. It has too many overlapping and uncoordinated missions and offices dealing with Lebanon and the peace process and thus lacks policy coherence. One option would be to empower its mission in Lebanon so that it can play a more effective political role.

Nobody should be under the illusion that solving Ghajar, beefing up the UN’s role or even finding new, creative means of communication between Israel, Syria and, indirectly, Hizbollah, would make a lasting or decisive difference. They undoubtedly would help. But Lebanon’s crises for the most part are derivative of broader regional tensions; until serious efforts are mounted to resolve the latter, the former will persist. In the meantime, the world should cross its fingers that fear of a catastrophic conflict will continue to be reason enough for the parties not to provoke one.

RECOMMENDATIONS
To the U.S. Government:
1. Intensify efforts, including at the presidential level, to re-launch Israeli-Syrian and, as a consequence, Israeli-Lebanese peace negotiations in parallel to Israeli-Palestinian talks, persuading Prime Minister Netanyahu to reiterate the commitment made by past Israeli leaders to a full withdrawal to the lines of 1967 assuming all other Israeli needs are met.
2. Initiate a high-level and sustained dialogue with Syria aimed at defining both a clear and credible pathway toward improved bilateral relations and a compelling regional role for Damascus in the aftermath of a peace agreement.
3. Press, in the context of resumed peace talks, Syria to halt weapons transfers to Hizbollah and Israel to cease actions in violation of Lebanese sovereignty.
To the UN Security Council:
4. Ask the Secretary-General to review the various missions and offices dealing with Lebanon and the Middle East peace process, with the aim of developing a more coherent and comprehensive policy and enhancing coordination among them.
To the UN Secretariat:
5. Consider, in the interim, consolidating implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 in the office of the Special Coordinator (UNSCOL), with a view to more effective engagement with the various parties.
To the UN and the Governments of Israel and Lebanon:
6. Revive momentum toward implementation of Resolution 1701, focusing on the most immediately achievable goals, by:
a) pursuing discussions toward resolution of the status of Ghajar, under which Israel would withdraw from the northern (Lebanese) part, and UNIFIL would assume control, with a Lebanese army presence; and
b) using such discussions to initiate talks on conditions necessary for attaining a formal ceasefire.
To UNIFIL troop contributing countries, particularly those in Europe:
7. Reaffirm commitments to maintain the current level of troop contributions.
8. Pursue a policy of active patrolling, in order to prevent any overt Hizbollah presence in its area of responsibility, while conducting outreach efforts to the civilian population.
9. Investigate, publicly condemn and take appropriate action against flagrant violations of Resolution 1701, particularly attempts to resupply Hizbollah and Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty.


To the UN and the Governments of the U.S., France, Turkey, Israel, Syria and Lebanon:
10. Consider establishing a Contact Group or, alternatively, more informal consultative mechanisms, to discuss implementation of Resolution 1701 and address potential flashpoints, focusing on:
a) a commitment by relevant parties to refrain from provocative statements and actions;
b) an end to implicit or explicit threats to harm civilians or damage civilian infrastructure in any future war;
c) a halt to targeted assassinations; and
d) immediate intervention in the event of a violent incident so as to de-escalate the crisis.
To the Government of Lebanon and Hizbollah:
11. Make every effort to discourage and prevent hostile action by the civilian population against UN personnel and property.
To the Government of Lebanon:
12. Substantially increase the number of troops deployed in the South and provide them with enhanced training and equipment.

Beirut/Jerusalem/Damascus/Washington/Brussels, 2 August 2010


New president, old news…

Venezuela recalls ambassador to Colombia amid dispute

By the CNN Wire Staff
July 16, 2010 — Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)”

(CNN) — Venezuela recalled its ambassador to Colombia on Friday as it rejected Colombia’s assertion that Colombian rebels are living in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the administration of outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is trying to undermine the possible normalization of relations between the two countries, which have had strained ties in recent years.

“After eight years of failed diplomacy and of militarism as the only regional policy, President Uribe leaves a country at war, a government isolated in Latin America and detached from its neighbors,” the statement said.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said Venezuela was recalling its ambassador to Colombia for consultations.

Meanwhile, the Colombian government raised the prospect Friday of turning to international organizations. It said Colombia “has had a patient dialogue” for six years about its belief that Colombian “terrorists” were in Venezuela. It passed that information to Venezuelan authorities, the Colombian government said, but its overtures were “unsuccessful with relation to terrorist leaders.”

On Thursday, Colombian authorities said they have proof that high-ranking leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, live in Venezuela. The FARC is a Marxist rebel force that has been battling the Colombian state for decades.

Details of the evidence that Colombia may hold were not immediately clear.

Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva met with the members of the Colombian news media for about an hour and a half Thursday to discuss the matter.

After the meeting, Silva gave a brief statement to reporters reiterating that Colombia has coordinates and knows of apartments used in Venezuela by rebels with the FARC and another rebel group, the National Liberation Army, which is known by its Spanish acronym, ELN.

Colombian authorities are aware of meetings between rebels in Venezuela as recently as Thursday, and have evidence of rebel camps, Silva said.

“The continued and permanent tolerance of the presence of terrorists in that country is a threat to the security of Colombia,” he said.

On Friday, Venezuela criticized what it called the “pathetic media spectacle” in Colombia the day before.

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Venezuelan authorities have investigated each time Colombia has asserted that FARC rebels were in Venezuela. It also said the Colombian president had made “irresponsible” assertions that Venezuela was helping FARC rebels.

Uribe is a two-term president who has high approval ratings for his tough stand against FARC.

Colombia has accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of supporting the rebels. Chavez has previously accused Colombian officials and right-wing paramilitary units of plotting his assassination.

Security analysts have said FARC guerrillas operate mostly in Colombia but have carried out extortion, kidnappings and other activities in Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador.

FARC is accused of trafficking in cocaine to finance its insurgency.

Colombia also has accused another neighbor, Ecuador, of giving refuge to rebels. In 2008, Colombia carried out a raid in Ecuadorian territory that resulted in the killing of a top FARC leader
Venezuela recalls ambassador to Colombia amid dispute – CNN.com
________________________
The MasterBlog




Hugo Chavez
Chavez’s Reign of Legal Terror Widens
Posted By Ray Walser On July 15, 2010 @ 12:00 pm In American Leadership | No Comments
On July 12, agents of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service raided the Caracas home of Venezuela opposition figure Alejandro Peña Esclusa [2]. According Pena’s wife, Indira de Peña [3], the intelligence operatives blatantly planted evidence including explosives about the apartment and hauled her husband off to jail on treason and terror charges.
The justification for Pena’s arrest is an alleged connection to a shadowy Salvadoran with a criminal past. The Venezuelan’s say Francisco Chavez Abarca [4] attempted to enter Venezuela on a false passport with the intent of violently disrupting the September 26 legislative elections. The Venezuelans claim Abarca is a long-time associate of anti-Castro Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles [5], who stands accused of acts of terror against the Castro regime. After incriminating Peña and other Venezuelan opposition figures, the Venezuelan government conveniently shipped Abarca off to Havana for further interrogation by Cuban intelligence and a future date with a Cuban show trial.
In addition to being active in Venezuelan politics, Peña has been a driving force behind UNO America [6], a conservative-minded action group that sought to awaken Latin America to increasing danger to freedom, prosperity and security posed by the spread of Chavez’s aggressive brand of revolutionary socialism.
On a separate front, Chavez ramped up the confrontation with senior Catholic clergy in Venezuela. He demanded a review of relations with the Vatican [7] following Cardinal Jorge Urosa’s [8] criticisms of gross Chavista mismanagement in the food industry [9] and warnings about Chavez’s authoritarian tendencies. Urosa recently stated [10] Chavez “want[s] to lead the country on the path toward Marxist Socialism, which…leads to a dictatorship.”
Chavez also claims that Dutch military aircraft [11] violated Venezuelan airspace, boasting of recently acquired Russian air capabilities [12]. Chavez’s aim is to pressure [13] the Dutch government to revoke its cooperation agreements with the U.S. that allows forward basing of U.S. anti-drug flights in the Caribbean from the island of Curacao. Before an audience of adoring left-wing philosophes [14], Chavez demanded a Caribbean free of the vestiges of colonialism with calls for independence for the Dutch Antilles, France’s Martinique, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Chavez is feeling the heat of international and domestic criticism [15] on a wide front and is reacting in predictable fashion: flailing out at the opposition, ordering arrests [16], closing media outlets [4], insulting the Catholic Church, and relying on a pyrotechnic display of nationalism to tide him through to a massive electoral victory. At home, Chavez encourages a growing climate of “legalized” terror just as abroad he pursues aradical, pro-terror policy [17].

Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2010/07/15/chavez%e2%80%99s-reign-of-legal-terror-widens/
URLs in this post:

[7] review of relations with the Vatican: http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100714-712510.html
[9] mismanagement in the food industry: http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100628-709409.html
[12] recently acquired Russian air capabilities: http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100714-711949.html
[14] adoring left-wing philosophes: http://www.abn.info.ve/node/5006
Copyright © 2008 The Heritage Foundation. All rights reserved.


more on the events surrounding Entebbe

One moment that got the ‘general’ on the edge
By Patrick Mathangani

On the morning of July 2, 1976, the then Ugandan president Idi Amin gathered his aides in one room at a private villa where he was staying.

He had travelled to Mauritius where an Organisation of African Unity — now African Union — meeting was going on, but planned to get back home soon to attend to a festering hostage crisis.

Palestinian and German terrorists had hijacked an Air France flight and directed it to Entebbe Airport, just a stonethrow from State House. With nearly 100 Jews on board, Israelis were bothering Amin over the issue.

It was not unlike Ugandan strongman to call such unplanned briefings. However, that morning, as the sun rose above the Indian Ocean, not even its radiance could wash away the forlorn, scared look on his face. As usual, everyone in his entourage attended the impromptu briefing – bodyguards, journalists, and Cabinet ministers. “Young men,” he said, “There’s going to be bad news for us.”

“What’s the bad news?” a Cabinet minister asked. “The Israeli’s are planning something against us,” said Amin.

Recalling the conversation, Haji Manishur Abiriga says Amin had earlier received a call from an Israeli army general enquiring when he was planning to return to Uganda. The Standard On Saturday established the man on the phone from Israel was Baruch Bar Lev, a former head of Israel’s mission that trained Ugandan soldiers in the early 1970s. But Amin had earlier expelled the Israelis and made friends with Libya and the Russians, who were supplying him with weapons.

Now retired, Abiriga was then a journalist working with the Presidential Press Unit, and had travelled with Amin in the presidential jet.

On this morning, the president said he was bothered by the nagging calls. He asked one group of the Ugandan delegation, which had arrived in a Boeing 707, to pack and return home. The group using the presidential jet would travel the following day.

The day before, the Israelis had made an offer to negotiate with the terrorists, but this was only to buy time as they prepared a rescue plan. Amin was a central figure in the plan as he served as the link between the hijackers and Israel.

Crosshead

Unknown to the Ugandans, the Israelis had already established that although Amin was pleading innocence, he was on the side of terrorists. It would appear Amin sensed the Israeli’s were up to no good as he called his men to prepare for any eventuality.

The following day, it was time to leave. Amin had completed his main duty here, which was to hand over the chairmanship of the now defunct OAU. But before they could take off in the afternoon, the president called one more briefing. “He told us the Israelis were planning to hold us hostage, and that they had sent planes which were circling the Indian Ocean,” recalls Abiriga. But Amin had more scary news.

The president told his frightened audience: “We have explosives on board. If they come, we’ll blow ourselves up.”

As the presidential jet soared above the clouds, tense passengers clutched their seats. Everyone was cared. Amin, the burly military man the world referred as the “Butcher of Uganda,” was scared too. They kept peeping out the tiny windows to lookout for the doomsday Israeli planes.

The planes did not come.

That day, the presidential jet did not follow the usual route.

It zig-zagged in the skies for hours on end as Amin sought to shrug off any Israelis following him.

The plane eventually landed safely a few minutes to 11pm. Amin headed straight to the airport’s VIP lounge. Unlike other days, he did not hold a press briefing but promised to do so before he left for State House. Unknown to them, the Israeli planes landed at Entebbe at 11pm.

However, Major General Doron Almog of Israel’s Defense Forces disputes there were any plans to kidnap Amin, and probably have him tried for terrorism.

Almog said the only mission of the raid on Entebbe was to rescue the hostages.

“It’s not true. It’s not relevant,” he said in a telephone interview.

“The most important issue was to bring back the Jews.”

However, the fact that the Israelis landed just minutes after Amin had left the airport convinces those who were with him he had just escaped a plot to kidnap him.


A flash from the past…


Kenyan investigative report from The Standard on the Entebbe raid of 1976, and how Kenya almost went to war with Idi Amin’s Uganda.

Operation Thunderbolt
Published on 03/07/2010

By Patrick Mathangani
July 3, 1976. Four Israeli military passenger planes take off with 100 elite commandos and paratroopers on board.
The destination is Entebbe, Uganda, and the mission is to rescue 105 hostages held at the airport by Palestinian and German terrorists. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorists had hijacked an Air France flight a week before.
Two other Boeing planes also take off; one loaded with paramedics and medical supplies to attend to possible casualties. Its destination is Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, where it would be used as a mobile hospital.
The other has communication equipment to use during the operation.
It is the peak of a week of careful military planning and intelligence gathering. There are several units on board, each with specific instructions.
To avoid radar detection over Egypt, Sudan and other countries along the route, the planes hover just over rooftops at about 100 feet above the ground.
They then enter Kenyan airspace, cruise over northern Kenya, across the Rift Valley and Nyanza provinces, and eventually swoop down over the calm waters of Lake Victoria.
The pilots have been picked carefully, and had spent several days practicing to land in darkness and without the assistance of air traffic control.
The one flying the lead aircraft is a former air force pilot who had also worked with Israel’s national carrier, El Ai, and had landed in Entebbe many times before.
Night mission
A few seconds after 11pm, the first plane touches down at Entebbe, undetected by Ugandan radar and unaided by traffic control.
Tense but focused, Major-General Doron Almog is on board, and even before taxiing, and commandos jet out one after the other.
“I was the first to land in Entebbe with 10 soldiers. Four ran along the runway and marked 600m with 14 special batteries, seven in each side of the runway every 100m. Six soldiers together with me captured the new control tower that was located on a hill 400m from the runway,” Almog recalls.
The batteries were to provide backup to light the runway, just in case Uganda switched off power.
“The challenge had been to perform very accurate navigation in pitch dark night, in a place we had never been before, and subdue every Ugandan soldier along the way, and there were four,” says Almog.
Crouching in the semi-darkness, Almog’s squad fires from silenced guns and eliminate the sentries. The plan is to eliminate any ‘obstacles’ without attracting attention, which could bungle the whole operation.
“The other challenge was to surprise the seven terrorists that were holding our hostages and kill them in the first seconds of the battle before they got a chance to eliminate the captives,” he remembers.
Also with Almog is the assault squad of about 30 men, whose brief is to storm the hall holding the hostages. This unit is under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Netanyahu, a brother of Binyamin Netanyahu, who was later to become Israel’s prime minister.
This squad is handpicked from the elite Sayeret Matkal unit within the IDF. It is Israel’s best squad with exclusive training to handle dangerous hostage situations.
Another unit is charged with securing the planes, while another seizes the refuelling section and hurriedly starts filling up the tanks. Some of the Israeli soldiers had also been to Uganda in the early 1970s, where they had trained the Ugandan force they were now confronting.
Netanyahu and his unit wore the green camouflage Ugandan military uniforms to confuse the sentries. It worked perfectly.
“This was to create hesitation by Ugandans,” Almog told The Standard on Saturday in a telephone interview.
As the planes carrying the jeeps and a Mercedes Benz limo lands, the cargo hatches slide open. The cars and armoured personnel vehicles are disembarked on quickly mounted ramps, and drive along the taxiing planes.
This creates the impression President Idi Amin, or some other dignitary, is arriving. However, the Mercedes is packed with soldiers with their fingers on the trigger.
The sentries are taken by surprise, and the terrorists inside have no idea what is going on. As one civilian plane taxies towards the old terminal where the hostages are being held, the Ugandans apparently think a negotiations team has arrived.
One air force captain tells his team: “Get ready to receive our visitors. They have arrived.”
Suleman Dehiya, who was then a private in the air force, recalls these words from the captain, indicating the Ugandans were confused over Israel’s earlier offer to negotiate with the terrorists.
He was stationed at the air force hangar, some 150m from the old terminal.
Then, all hell breaks loose when one of the commandos fire loudly when he notices one of the sentries had not been eliminated. Moments later, a Ugandan sentry fatally shoots Netanyahu.
Almog recalls Netanyahu was shot outside the terminal building.
A fierce gun battle breaks out in which more than 20 Ugandan soldiers are killed, alongside three hostages. As bullets fly, several Israeli soldiers are injured.
Due to the confusion in the Ugandan camp, the air force, which was not part of the soldiers watching over the terminal, is never called to repulse the intruders.
The police air wing is also adjacent to the air force hangar, but nobody seems to know what is going on.
Last Moments
Moments later, Dehiya watches in terror as their 11 MIG jets go up in fierce balls of fire and smoke. Israeli troops have shot and destroyed them to incapacitate the Ugandan air force.
The Israeli’s used the armoured vehicle to shoot the jets, which required powerful weaponry to destroy.
“It was a big embarrassment,” Dehiya says with regret of a subdued soldier dulling his face. “But we thought they were civilians. You could not attack civilians. There was commotion. Everyone was running for dear life.”
All the while, another Boeing jet circles the airport overhead, providing communication for the squads. With the hostages safely on board, the vehicles are loaded onto the planes and off to Nairobi.

Little did Kenyan authorities know that this rescue would push it on to the brink of war with Uganda.

The Standard | Online Edition :: Operation Thunderbolt

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