Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hezbollah moving missiles to Lebanon

Fearing the fall of Assad's regime and the establishment of a pro-West, anti-Hezbollah government in its place, Hezbollah is reported to be moving its missiles from Syria to Eastern Lebanon. According to a report published in the French newspaper Le Figaro over the weekend, intelligence agencies have monitored movement of trucks from Syria to Lebanon containing long-range Iranian Zilzal, Fajr 3 and Fajr 4 missiles. The report also cites that Hezbollah is concerned Israel will bomb the convoys in transit from Syria to Lebanon.

On Friday, the European Union expanded sanctions against Syria's political and military leaders. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem related that Syria considers the sanctions "act of war". A declaration adopted at the EU summit in Brussels condemned the violence, assuring that "those responsible for crimes and violence against civilians shall be held accountable." European Union representatives also called for the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution condemning the crackdown.

Meanwhile, Syrian troops stormed villages near the Syria-Turkey border towards the end of last week, raising the influx of Syrian refugees to Turkey to a total of 12,000. US Secratary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Syrian troop build-up raises the likelihood of a border clash between Syria and Turkey. The EU similarly called for maximum restraint after Syrian military activity near the Turkish border. Diplomats in Ankara and Beirut perceived Syrian activity near the border as a veiled threat against Turkey, who has been vocal in calling for reforms. And Syria is showing no signs of reigning in; on Saturday evening the Syrian military stormed yet another village near the Turkish border. 

Walter Russel Mead at Via Meadia makes the case that Syria fulfills all the invasion criteria of Libya, and some. Assad's crackdown on protests amounts to a grave humanitarian crisis, and the fall of his regime plays into American national interest. Regime change in Syria would be a blow to the Shi'a-aligned crescent from Iran to Lebanon. In the words of Walter Mead, "Both in substance and in the way it was handled the Libyan intervention makes a Syrian intervention both harder to pull off and harder to avoid."

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