Hezbollah, Al-Qaida Girding For Major Offensive

October 30, 2013 17:39
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Israel last night released 26 Palestinian terrorists from prison. They were welcomed with big celebrations in Ramallah and Gaza. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he would expedite building projects in eastern Jerusalem as “compensation.” This includes tenders for 1,500 new homes,  a tourist center in near the City of David National Park, and reviving on-and-off plans for a national park on the slopes of Mount Scopus.

For best coverage of the release, see the NY Times, the BBC‘s profiles of several prisoners, and Amira Hass‘s take.

Al Qalamoun MtsHezbollah and Al-Qaida are getting ready for another brawl that could be bloodier for both sides than their last big fight in Qusair. The Daily Beast explains the significance of Assad’s upcoming offensive in the Al-Qalamoun Mountains northwest of Damascus:

The offensive will again pit Hezbollah fighters directly against jihadists and militant Islamists. The al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamist militias Ahrar al-Sham and Liwa al-Islamhave been reinforcing towns and villages in the region to prepare for the expected Hezbollah assault. Some reports claim that as many as 20,000 rebel fighters have poured into the region, some being redeployed from Damascus suburbs.

A grueling confrontation in Al-Qalamoun-an area 50 miles long and 25 miles broad that runs from the rural outskirts of the Syrian capital to the Lebanese border-could see Saudi Arabia accelerate its arming of certain rebel groups that the Obama administration considers dangerous to the West, adding to strained relations between Washington and Riyadh.

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Breaking up Syria might not be so bad. A Jerusalem Post op-ed points out that a Druze state would be in Israel’s interests:

According to some analysts, weak Arab states with internal strife and divisions, as well as the break-up of the existing Arab state order, plays to Israel’s strategic advantage.

In this way, Israel can form alliances with various ethnic groups that are able to form their own state or autonomous region, such as with the Kurds or possibly the Druse in Syria.

Source material can be found at this site.

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