W. Thomas Smith, Jr

Arrest warrants were issued Saturday for 11 Lebanese soldiers over the shooting deaths of several Hezbollah and Amal rioters during last week’s clashes in Beirut (the clashes instigated by Hezbollah, which also spread to other areas around the country). Six civilians were also arrested and charged with, among other things, “bearing unlicensed firearms.”

Investigations continue, more arrests will probably follow, and Mahmoud Koumati, the deputy commander of Hezbollah’s political-wing, has called for the execution of anyone found guilty.

WHAT’S SAD is that the arrests of the soldiers – three officers and eight enlisted men – may have been a sacrifice on the part of the Lebanese Army (LA) leadership in an attempt to salvage the hope that Gen. Michel Sleiman might become Lebanon’s next president (The country has been without a president since November, and the complexities of Lebanese politics, death threats from Hezbollah, and the equally threatening hand of Iran and Syria have created an environment that makes it nearly impossible for the parliament to elect a chief executive.).

WHAT’S SADDER is that Hezbollah – the increasingly dangerous Iranian-funded, Syrian-backed, Lebanese-based terrorist army – has been pushing for the legitimate Lebanese army and police to fall on their swords since the rioting ended last week.

Hezbollah contends the clashes stemmed from “protests” over electricity shortages in Hezbollah zones of Beirut: Keep in mind Hezbollah often launches protests over electricity shortages, the rising cost of bread, the rising of a full moon, whatever – any opportunity to block roads, burn tires, and generally test and probe legitimate army and police defenses – but conveniently arranges those protests to coincide with other events like last week’s summit between Arab foreign ministers in Cairo.

Lebanese Army insiders and a parliamentary official have said the “so-called protests” last week had more sinister objectives.

Hezbollah has stated its protests stemmed from public angriness over electricity shortages, but “the areas Hezbollah's militants are coming from have the same ratio of electricity as other areas in the capital,” said an Army officer who chose not to be named. “In addition, Hezbollah has enough generators to sustain electrical power for months.

“Many in the Western media were deceived into believing it was about electricity shortages, when in fact, it was a carefully planned and orchestrated operation aimed at strengthening the terrorists’ hand and position in Lebanon.”

The officer added, Hezbollah also was first to open fire, and it did so on Lebanese Army forces and civilians.

W. Thomas Smith, Jr

W. Thomas Smith Jr. is a former U.S. Marine rifle-squad leader and counterterrorism instructor. He is the author of six books, and he has covered war and conflict in the Balkans, on the West Bank, in Iraq, and Lebanon. Visit him online at http://www.uswriter.com.
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