Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lebanon - telecommunications

Phares on Hezbollah’s telecommunications expansion

by W. Thomas Smith Jr. on 17 August 2008

In a conversation last week with Middle East terrorism expert Dr. Walid Phares regarding Hezbollah’s recent strategic positioning and repositioning since the 2006 war with Israel - more specifically since the attacks on the Lebanese government in May 2008 - the subject came up of Hezbollah’s extensive telecommunications system.

I was reporting the existence of Hezbollah’s telecommunications system - and Hezbollah’s control of much of greater Lebanon’s telecom system - as early as September of 2007 (when I was in Lebanon). Dr. Phares has also been writing about it, and with much greater specificity than perhaps any other writer or analyst to date.

On Wednesday, Phares told me:

“Before the invasion of West Beirut and the assault on the Druze mountain, Hezbollah’s telecommunications systems were up-and-running and fully operational in half of Lebanon. They showed the structure of absorption for thousands of Hezbollah fighters and Iranian Pasdaran already deployed in Lebanon. The swift takeover of half of Lebanon’s capital and the multi-axis advance on the Shuf heights demonstrated that this system can insure an internal “hard” communications which can instruct, direct, guide, and move large units from one side of Lebanon to another.

“Following the political victory of Hezbollah in Doha and the surrender of the Lebanese first cabinet of Seniora and the March 14 Coalition to the Syrian-Iranian agenda, Hezbollah’s TC system not only survived, but we believe was extended and expanded. Reports - including those from media open sources - tells us that the TC system was stretched across the line of summits from the Metn area in the center northbound to Kesruwan and Jbeil mountains, deep in the Christian heartland of Lebanon. Hezbollah operatives and special forces have been seen on the commanding heights and summits of central Mount Lebanon where they’ve established “security zones.” The Iranian-backed militia today controls better strategic location than that which was ever controlled by the Syrian occupation forces before 2005.”

Strange Rumblings in Lebanon

JOHNSON: How can the covert microwave telecommunications network that sparked the internal violence in Lebanon this May allow Hezbollah to act as a state within a state?

SMITH: It’s not the telecommunications system that has allowed Hezbollah to act as a state within a state: The telecom system is only one piece of the Iranian-funded infrastructure in Lebanon that supports Hezbollah’s state – actually more of a kingdom – within the state of Lebanon.

The real danger of the system is that it provides secure command-and-control for Hezbollah by connecting Hezbollah’s stronghold in Dahiyeh (Beirut’s southern suburbs) with all points controlled by Hezbollah in south Lebanon, the Bekka Valley and elsewhere, and links them directly to Teheran and Damascus.

Hezbollah today is far-better wired than it was prior to the 2006 war with Israel.

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