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Syria and Armageddon

Posted By: Philip
Date: Monday, 1-Nov-1999 10:51:09

""Armageddon" is encoded in the Bible with the name of Syria's leader, Hafed Asad. In fact, the name of the actual site of the long-prophesized Final Battle appears with his name in a single, skip sequence: "Armageddon, Asad, Holocaust."

"Syria" is encoded with "World War". It is the country that stands out, because it is not expected. "Russia" and "China" and "USA" all also appear with "World War". But they are the three superpowers most likely to be involved. "Syria" is a surprise." - The Bible Code; M. Drosnin; pgs 134-135; (1997).

Relevant quotes from the articles below include an indication that Syria could not contain Hezbollah if Israel removed troops from Lebanon and that Iran is supporting Hezbollah and anti-Assad successors: "Syria warned Israel not to withdraw troops from southern Lebanon despite Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's promise to do so. Currently mired in a succession crisis, Syria is unable to fill the power vacuum that would be left by an Israeli withdrawal. This leaves Hezbollah positioned to take over southern Lebanon, directly threatening cross-border military activity and indirectly menacing the peace. Syria is caught in a loop: the peace process is shaping its succession crisis, which in turn is threatening the peace process. It is not clear that Israel can afford to wait idly for the Syrian power struggle to resolve itself." (1) and "Second, the faction challenging Assad for power may be allied with Iran. It is even possible that Iran instigated the Syrian power struggle in response to Assad's decision to cut off aid to Hezbollah." (1)

Information in article #2 indicates a potential erosion of the Israeli ~ Syria peace talks due the declining health of Assad and the succession struggle between Bashar (Assad's son ) and their rivals - Rifat et. al.: "According to the Sept. 24 Jerusalem Post, Arab sources closely monitoring Syria say the ailing president is significantly weakened and has not appeared in public for several days. Also, Syrian television has begun using archival footage of Assad when referring to him. While these reports cannot be confirmed, Assad is known to suffer from heart and other ailments. On July 23, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak told The Jerusalem Post that it was better to deal with the "old guard," implying that a generational change could be near and could impede the peace process." and "the country will certainly witness a succession crisis, played out as a power struggle between Rifat and his loyalists and Bashar [Asad's son] and his forces. However, it wouldn't take the president's death to ignite a crisis. Bashar is only 35 years old, making him five years too young to take over the presidency by constitutional standards. The succession struggle could continue until Bashar reaches his 40th birthday. While this in and of itself is a significant event, it also has ramifications for the Syria-Israel peace process." (2)

It is my opinion that a LASTING Peace in the Middle East is essential for the prevention of "Armageddon" and that an "Armageddon" which originates in the Middle East is the evil of one man who perceives Himself as the Antichrist.

(1) STRATFOR.COM Global Intelligence Update October 28, 1999

Syrian Unable to Contain Hezbollah

Summary:

Syria warned Israel not to withdraw troops from southern Lebanon despite Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's promise to do so. Currently mired in a succession crisis, Syria is unable to fill the power vacuum that would be left by an Israeli withdrawal. This leaves Hezbollah positioned to take over southern Lebanon, directly threatening cross-border military activity and indirectly menacing the peace. Syria is caught in a loop: the peace process is shaping its succession crisis, which in turn is threatening the peace process. It is not clear that Israel can afford to wait idly for the Syrian power struggle to resolve itself.

Analysis:

The Lebanese daily al-Nahar Oct. 26 quoted "informed Syrian sources" as saying that a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon could lead to glitches in the peace process. They emphasized that Israel would not be able to contain Hezbollah after a withdrawal, which would increase the likelihood of conflicts along the Israeli border. This in turn might induce Israel to follow through on earlier threats to strike at the Lebanese infrastructure, which ultimately would cause Syria to call off the peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak promised Syria that Israel would unilaterally pull out of southern Lebanon by July 2000 as a token of goodwill in his peace-making efforts.

Why would Syria warn Barak not to deliver his promise? The answer lies in the increasingly delicate balance of power among Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Iran. The balanced is threatened by Iran's involvement in the region and the succession struggle inside Syria.

Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon will leave a power vacuum in the region, which Israel wants Syria to fill. This would leave Syria with the responsibility of curbing Hezbollah activity - a major Israeli condition for furthering the peace process. The Oct. 26 statements made it clear that Syria, which would certainly like to take charge in southern Lebanon, is unable to do so.

Syria is unable to take charge for two interrelated reasons. First, Damascus cannot commit additional forces while there is potential for a domestic move against Syrian President Hafez Assad and his potential successors. Second, the faction challenging Assad for power may be allied with Iran. It is even possible that Iran instigated the Syrian power struggle in response to Assad's decision to cut off aid to Hezbollah. Directly challenging Hezbollah would only intensify Iranian support for opponents of Assad.

Even now, Syria is finding it difficult to curb current Hezbollah activity, since Iran is now directly supporting Hezbollah through Beirut rather than Damascus. Further complicating the issue, Iran may also be supplying the guerrillas via Syrian bases and ports controlled by Assad's domestic opponents. Pressure from Lebanon's major power broker, Syria, would not be effective in curtailing Hezbollah activity.

We have noted that Iran could be a key influence in the Syrian power struggle hampering the peace process [ http://www.stratfor.com/meaf/specialreports/special16.htm ]. It is becoming increasingly clear that any chance of an Israeli-Syrian peace deal directly depends on Assad's ability to maintain control. If Assad's hold is loosening due to failing health and the succession issue, he will be particularly reluctant to draw any additional internal opposition by going up against Hezbollah. Thus, it is better for Assad if Israel maintains its current presence in Lebanon.

Barak may be open to keeping troops in Lebanon for a while, but not indefinitely. On Oct. 21, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported that Barak is "flexible" on the date of a pullback. Barak has also been quoted in private conversations as saying he would not "jump off a tower" if the withdrawal is delayed a few months. However, the prime minister may already be searching for a solution. On Oct. 27, U.S. CIA Director George Tenet made a secret visit to Israel and discussed "the prevention of acts of terrorism and the Iranian threat" with political and military leaders, Yediot Aharonot reported.

If Barak proceeds with withdrawal, Damascus will face a choice between committing troops to the region and confronting Hezbollah or abandoning south Lebanon to the guerrillas. The former threatens to weaken Assad domestically. The latter threatens to increase Hezbollah's strength. This would have the effect of upping Israeli counterattacks on the Lebanese infrastructure, which could damage Syrian interests in the country. Syria hopes to convince Israel that neither option benefits the peace process.

(c) 1999, Stratfor, Inc.

(2) STRATFOR.COM Global Intelligence Update September 29, 1999

The Stirrings of Struggle in Damascus

Summary:

The apparent failure of Syrian President Hafez Assad's health may be spawning a power struggle between Assad's son and brother. The president's brother and disgraced former vice president, Rifat Assad, is perceived as trying to gain power while Assad's son, Bashar, is being groomed to take over. It appears that Syria is headed for a power struggle over the presidency, which would not only change internal Syrian politics, but also drastically affect the Syrian-Israeli peace process.

Analysis:

According to the Israeli and Arab press, Syrian security forces controlled by Syrian President Hafez Assad's son, Bashar, recently began a search and arrest campaign against supporters of Rifat Assad, the president's brother and former vice president. The Sept. 19 crackdown was triggered by apparent attempts by Rifat to promote himself and his son, challenging the expected ascension of Hafez Assad's son and chosen heir, Bashar. This rivalry may lead to a succession struggle that could significantly affect domestic politics, as well as the country's peace process with Israel.

The power struggle between Rifat and Bashar has arisen alongside reports of President Hafez Assad's growing health problems. According to the Sept. 24 Jerusalem Post, Arab sources closely monitoring Syria say the ailing president is significantly weakened and has not appeared in public for several days. Also, Syrian television has begun using archival footage of Assad when referring to him.

While these reports cannot be confirmed, Assad is known to suffer from heart and other ailments. On July 23, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak told The Jerusalem Post that it was better to deal with the "old guard," implying that a generational change could be near and could impede the peace process.

When Assad suffered a heart attack in 1983, Rifat - then vice president - staged an unsuccessful bid for power, and was exiled to Europe until 1992. Rifat, still angered by his removal from the vice presidency, now wants the presidency. Damascus has perceived recent actions by Rifat and his son as attempts to gain power, causing deep anger in the Syrian capital. Rifat showed up at the funeral for the King of Morocco while President Assad intentionally stayed away. A few days later, Rifat's son Sumer visited Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Gaza and promoted mending ties between Arafat and Assad.

Bashar, a former opthamologist and Assad's chosen successor, has also made attempts to increase his power, adopting a higher public profile in Syria and abroad following his accelerated induction into the military, political, and economic power centers of Damascus. In an unprecedented show of force, 600 of Bashar's troops surrounded Rifat's home in Latakia and ordered Rifat loyalists to give themselves up, threatening them with accusations of corruption. At last report, Rifat's loyalists, called "the private militia," were still barricaded inside Rifat's home.

The ruling Syrian Ba'th Party is due to convene in November. Assad reportedly plans to announce a change in the makeup of the government and elevate Bashar to a senior post, while decreasing Rifat's power.

Rifat is trying to avoid further confrontation to prevent this from happening. He sent a message to the presidential residence at the height of the siege saying that he did not instruct his followers to barricade themselves inside his home. Rifat added that he was still loyal to Assad and said he had no intention of harming the stability of the Syrian regime.

If the reports of President Assad's failing health are true and he does not make it until November, the country will certainly witness a succession crisis, played out as a power struggle between Rifat and his loyalists and Bashar and his forces. However, it wouldn't take the president's death to ignite a crisis. Bashar is only 35 years old, making him five years too young to take over the presidency by constitutional standards. The succession struggle could continue until Bashar reaches his 40th birthday.

While this in and of itself is a significant event, it also has ramifications for the Syria-Israel peace process. Israeli officials already see rising tensions along the northern border with Lebanon as a direct threat to peace talks with Damascus. Israeli officials have seen a reported increase in Hezbollah violence as proof that Syrian interest in negotiations is waning. Syria has sought the return of the Golan Heights from Israel in negotiations. In exchange, Israel has requested security guarantees.

If, somehow, Rifat gains a significant amount of power in the succession, Syrian-Israeli relations will not progress as they would under Bashar. Rifat is more anti-Israel than Assad and has in the past supported Islamic extremists. Bashar tends to align himself with his father. When interviewed by the Arab daily al-Wasat, Bashar had no harsh words against Israel, going so far as to say that if Israeli forces left Southern Lebanon, the military wing of Hezbollah would wither.

(c) 1999, Stratfor, Inc.

--- Philip Henika


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AN EXPLANATION OF THE FACTIONS