Alma’s Weekly Report (11-17 February 2020)

Lebanese arena:

  • Vote of confidence in the Lebanese parliament confirming the new Lebanese Government (11 February):
    1. Outside of Parliament, demonstrations were held against the new government, claiming it is a political government (supported by Hezbollah) and not a technocrat government as demanded by protestors.
    2. The demonstrator’s intentions, among other things, was to surround the Parliament building preventing members of parliament from accessing it, aiming to prevent a valid voting forum. In order to keep them out of harm’s way, some of the MPs arrived in security forces armored vehicles while some MPs secretly entered the parliament building undetected.
    3. Stones hurled at their vehicles injured a few MPs. Among other things, a branch of the “Lebnan Wahel el Magher” Bank was set ablaze in the capital’s Riad El Solh Square.
    4. Hassan Diab’s government won the trust of 63 MPs out of 84 attending the meeting. 20 MPs voted non-confidence while one MP abstained (The Lebanese Parliament totals 128 seats, i.e. two-thirds of the MPs attended the vote)
Qasem Soleimani exam

Iranian influence, Shi’ization and indoctrination upon the 40th day anniversary of Qasem Soleimani’s death:

  1. In an exam given to students in Hezbollah’s al-Mahdi school, Lebanon, the pupils were required to reply to questions related to Qasem Soleimani (his place and date of birth, date of his death, etc.).
  2. The exam sparked widespread controversy among social network users, expressing their anger at the content of the exam wondering, “Why select this man instead of selecting Lebanese national figures which participated in Lebanon’s resurrection and independence?
  3. On 13 February in honor of the 40th day anniversary of Qasem Soleimani’s death, Hassan Nasrallah was interviewed for UNEWS News Agency: In the interview, Nasrallah said that one day after prayers, he imagined that the angel of death visited him and informed him that he was going to travel to Iran to take Soleimani’s soul. In response, Nasrallah told the angel of death to take his soul instead… (At this point during the interview, Nasrallah seemed to be on the verge of tears…)
  4. On 15 February, in the village of Maroun al-Ras in southern Lebanon near the Israeli-Lebanese border, an unveiling ceremony of a sculpture in the image of Qasem Soleimani took place. Soleimani’s sculpture was designed so that it is pointing towards Israel. During the ceremony, Hezbollah, Lebanese, Iranian and Palestinian flags were hoisted (can be viewed at: )
  5. The above footage sparked widespread debate in Lebanon. While Hezbollah supporters shared the clip on social networks, many Lebanese strongly criticized it wondering; what would be Hezbollah’s position if a village or town in Lebanon would place a statue of a US or Arab military commander…? Other social network users added; would Iran place a statue of a revered Lebanese military commander in its territory?
  6. Former Justice Minister Ashraf Rafi (one of the most prominent Hezbollah opponents) stated that the erecting of the sculpture in Maroun al-Ras has nothing to do with the confrontation with Israel, it just proves Iran’s guardianship over Lebanon. Quds force is not fighting for Jerusalem, but destroying Syria and Iraq and turning Lebanon into a failure state. Iran’s guardianship over Lebanon deepens Lebanon’s economic crisis, the President, the government and senior officials must consider this.
  7. Along with the 40th day anniversary of Soleimani’s death, the ceremonies also marked the 12-year anniversary since the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh (assassinated in Damascus February 2008). The ceremonies also commemorated 28 years since the assassination of Abbas al Mousawi (Hezbollah Secretary-General before Hassan Nasrallah, assassinated February 1992) and 36 years since the assassination of Gharb Harab, one of the former Lebanese resistance leaders (assassinated February 1984).    
Hezbollah ceremonies in memory of the victims in the village of Jebchit southern Lebanon
  • Note that the above information regarding the school exam, the signs in the ceremonies in which two of the five characters are non-Lebanese figures (Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis) raises questions as to Hezbollah’s identity as an independent Lebanese organization and its exclusive commitment to the Lebanese state.
  • Violations of UN Resolution 1701 – Blocking and interfering with UNIFIL tour activities as part of its mission to enforce resolution 1701 in the village of Baraachit- a Hezbollah Shi’ite village in southern Lebanon:
  1. Residents of the town Baraachit led by Hezbollah officials blocked a UNIFIL tour (French force), which entered the town’s inner-city neighborhoods to carry out a mapping, photography and coordinates marking assignment at several points.
  2. Hezbollah personnel took the cameras from the UNIFIL soldiers forcing the patrol commander to seek assistance from his headquarters. The situation escalated as women and children came out and threw stones at the UNIFIL soldiers.
  3. A collection of responses from residents identified as Hezbollah supporters opposed to UNIFIL and accusing them with collaboration with Israel:

“What Israel cannot achieve with its drones, is UNIFIL doing Israel’s work? Is that their job?” “UNIFIL forces must investigate their officers and soldiers who carry out these repetitive tasks in several villages in southern Lebanon” “We must be wary of these forces, the Israeli enemy mobilizes them against the residents of the south and the resistance”.

UNIFIL force entering the village of Baraachit.
The mob gathering and blockade of the UNIFIL force in the village in Baraachit.

The Syrian arena:

  • The fighting in Idlib Province (Turkish presence and involvement):
  1. Reports regarding Assad’s army and its supporter’s success capturing the leading M5 highway from Damascus to Aleppo (note: the Assad regime lost control of this highway in 2012).
  2. In the combat area, Turkish forces equipped with vehicles, APC’s and tanks were observed alongside rebel forces.
  3. In some cases, the rebels themselves use the armored vehicles painted in Turkish army camouflage colors.
  4. On 10 and 14 February, the insurgents succeeded in shooting down two Syrian Army helicopters. The helicopters dropped explosive barrels on the town of al- Nayrab in the region of the town of Saraqib, southeast of the Idlib province.
  5. The Turkish army is deeply involved in battles against the Syrian army, tens of Turkish soldiers were killed or wounded.
  6. Due to the great tension and animosity between Syria and Turkey, the Syrian parliament recognized the Armenian genocide, a step they avoided for many years, as it is an action considered a “red flag” and provocation in Turkish eyes.
  7. At the same time, Russia is trying to broker a diplomatic deal to bring about a cease-fire and to freeze the situation between Turkey and Syria.
  8. The US recognizes the abyss that is opening up between Turkey and Syria and potentially also between Turkey and Russia and sees this abyss as an opportunity to distance Turkey from Russia.
Syrian helicopter pilots killed.
  • Fighting in the Aleppo District (presence and involvement of the Shiite axis):
  1. Hezbollah announced the death of another combatant from its ranks in the battles of Aleppo: Baker Hassan Romani (Abu Elias) from the town of Deir al Zahrani in southern Lebanon.
  2. In recent days, there have been very intense battles in west Aleppo province where the rebels have an enclave in their control.
  3. As of now, and after the Assad army and the Shi’ite axis suffered heavy casualties, they seem to have succeeded in taking over the entire area around the city of Aleppo.
The funeral of the Hezbollah fighter killed in the Aleppo province.
  • Qamishli  region (Northeast Syria) – Superpower presence (US / Russia) an impending potential of flare-up with the Syrian army:
  1. An unusual event involving exchange of fire between US forces present in the area and Syrian military forces (12 February). The exchange of gunfire erupted since the Syrian forces prevented the US forces free passage.
  2. Some reports stated that there were dead and wounded among the Syrian soldiers.
  3. The bellow photo accurately expresses the great complexity in the arena of action in northeastern Syria where the different forces are in close proximity to one another, forces of whom are hostile to each other and have different and even conflicting interests:
US forces adjacent to Russian and Syrian forces near the scene of the gunfire incident.
  • Iranian presence and influence in Syria – attack on Iranian targets in the Damascus region (14 February):
  1. The targets attacked were in Damascus International Airport and on the Syrian Division 1 headquarters located in Al-Kiswah.
  2. The attack carried out only two days after Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Seyyed Abbas Mousavi officially announced, “Any stupid Israeli action against Iranian interests in Syria and the region will be encountered with an overwhelming response”.
  • Iranian presence and influence in Syria – On 10 February, the Iranian Embassy in Damascus held a reception marking the 41st year anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran:
  1. Speaking at the reception were, Iranian Ambassador to Syria, Jawad Turk Abadi and Syrian Deputy Secretary of State, Faisal al-Mekdad. Attending the ceremony were Prime Minister Imad Khamis, ministers in the Syrian government, several members of the Ba’ath Central Committee, provincial governors and other senior officials.
Address by the Iranian ambassador to Syria during the reception.
Address by the Syrian Deputy Secretary of State during the reception.
  • Breach of sanctions – Export of citrus fruit to Russia: A maritime route was inaugurated for the transport of citrus fruits between Syria, Russia and the Crimea. Three shipments are to take place each month, transporting 1500 tons of citrus fruit.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Tal Beeri

Tal Beeri

Sign up for our Newsletter

Sign up to stay current on Israel’s border conflict.
Skip to content