The Michel Samaha Affair

It is no secret that intelligence branches in Lebanon are divided – like all the spoils of the state – among the various sects. Thus, the Shia control the General Security, while the Maronites (nominally) control the Army Intelligence, the Catholics control the Security of the State apparatus, while the Hariri family controls on behalf of Saudi intelligence the Information Branch [of the Internal Security Forces], which has become – with US, French, and Saudi generous assistance – a private militia for the Hariri family.

The role of that apparatus was increased after 7 May 2008, when the private Hariri militias proved their utter incompetence. Consequently, the US (with the cooperation of Arab regimes) worked to elevate the status of the Information Branch beyond the status and abilities of other Lebanese intelligence branches. It receives devices and equipment – not to mention secret sources of funding – that other branches only dream of receiving.

The Branch is controlled by Wissam Al-Hassan, a former bodyguard of Rafik Hariri, and serves under the director-general of the Internal Security Forces, Ashraf Rifi – who sits on the board of the Prince Nayef University for Security Studies. So the relationship between this apparatus and Saudi Arabia is not hidden or concealed. Rifi often travels to Saudi Arabia and is believed to have played an advisory role to the Saudi Ministry of Interior.

The Information Branch shocked the political class in Lebanon this week with the arrest of Michel Samaha, one of the loudest pro-Syrian regime politicians in Lebanon. He even advised Bashar al-Assad on his relationship with the West. Samaha maintained close ties with the French, Canadian, and US governments and played secret diplomatic and security roles.

It should be noted that what we know about the Samaha case came from the Information Branch itself, and it does not have a history of credibility. We remember the great fanfare with which the Branch hailed the arrest of the four generals during the investigation into the assassination of Hariri.

All the scenarios and plots about the Hariri investigation that were leaked to the press by the branch proved to be false. Yet, one has to react to the news on the assumption that there is meat (or tofu, if you are vegetarian) to this case.

The story is quite explosive: a sinister plot by the Syrian regime and its man Samaha to instigate sectarian conflict in Lebanon, to mobilize Christians against Sunnis, and to carry out assassinations against key Sunni personalities in North Lebanon. The plot also entails bombing of Syrian refugee sites in Lebanon. The plot is attributed to Ali Mamlouk – a typically ruthless but shrewd security man from the Hafez al-Assad days.

If the plot is true, it reveals a degree of criminality and stupidity on the part of the Syrian regime not seen before. Is it possible that the Syrian regime is now so desperate that it resorts to such schemes? And how does such a scheme really enhance the political and security position of the Syrian regime, when such attacks would have only mobilized the Sunni community in Lebanon against the Syrian regime in ways similar to what happened following the assassination of Rafik Hariri?

The leaked story has many details and it reads like the typical US FBI entrapment stories. A man who works as a security adviser to Minister Mohammad Safadi brought the idea (equipped with a pen camera) to Samaha, who in turn brought it to the attention of Ali Mamlouk in Damascus. But why would Mamlouk, or even Samaha, fall for such a scheme so quickly and so easily? Then again, stupidity has been a feature of the Syrian regime, especially in the era of Bashar.

If the leaked story is true, it will have important repercussions. It shows – if true – a degree of criminal cynicism on the part of the Syrian regime and it reveals a degree of sectarian manipulation that casually pushes Lebanon to the brink if not throes of civil war.

But the story and reactions to it also reveal something important: that Hezbollah has maintained an undeclared distance from the Syrian regime. Hezbollah did not rally one bit to the support of Samaha and seems to be acting cautiously given the severity of the accusations and their sectarian nature.

If the story is true, Hezbollah may discover that its ally in Damascus may be up to a scheme that could harm friends and foes of Syria in Lebanon.

Comments

I just want to sincerely CONGRATULATE the Anonymous author of the first comment. (posted on Thursday the 16th @ 8:32). If only, more fellow Lebanese would reason the way you do and adapt an open minded approach towards the regoin's politics.. Along the lines of peace and harmony perhaps.. I wish.. Nevertheless decent individuals like yourself never fail to impress and give me hope for a brighter Lebanese future (Pardon my cliche). If you are further interested in getting in touch, please feel free to email me [email protected]
I would be proud to add you to my list of friends.
I live in Sweden by the way.

Best Regards,
Mido

It's useless to argue back and forth b/c politics is like soap operas for men. The reality is, things are a giant mess either way you look at it, and the truth only reveals itself over a long time. From reading comments, it is clear this seems like a game to many or a pissing contest about who is right and who is wrong. The reality is there are no hero's in Lebanon for younger generations to look up to. They are getting their idols from outside Lebanon The lure of BMW, Fake body parts, and some sort of prestigious wealthy class association is more important to the generations coming up than the actual unity required to build a country which was once great. In order to change a country, one must know how to do it and when you don't know yourself, you have to assume and live based upon the given identity of outside influence (French, English, Syrian, Iranian, Saudi, US, ad infinitum). I pray Lebanon one day realizes it's own potential, it's own identity and can revert to a time when all sects of religions lived as a community and no one ever asked, "I know you're Lebanese, but from where in Lebanon." In other words, what relgion and family are you from so I can immediately type cast you. Enjoy this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=US&v=L76AERqV8jc

Asaad Aboukhalil continues to play dirty. Syria is a terrorist state true, and is using its agents in Lebanon to create chaos, however, what is the choice? Who will come after Baschar El-Asaad? Salafists, MB, AlQuaeda, all these terrorists groups are now waging war against the regime. The real Syrians, true patriots, liberals and seculars have been sidelined. Their hopes taken over by a bunch of terrorists who are no better than the current regime they are fighting...

The anti-Assadi Syrians won't go to their graves smiling for the likes of charlatans, "your so-called real patriots", like Nabil Fayyad or Haytham Manna, who and the Assadi regime preach a pacificism they don't apply to themselves and they can go preach secularism in Iran and see fast they will wind up in an Iranian dungeon and your ilk have no problem supporting Shi'ite Islamists in Bahrain and Qatif.

Facts are not that important to Mr. Angry Arab. Hizbollah DID in fact immediately support Mr. Samaha (did you read the reaction of Mr. Raad?), but retracted this support the next day, perhaps as it became obvious that the evidence against Samaha is embarrassingly solid.

Please add the "Army Intelligence" to the Shia's share of security apparatuses and forget about the nominal Maronite control.

The fact that some March 8 groups are willing to ask the question " If this is true ...." and " let us wait for investigation to end " , just shows how naive and easily manipulated they have become. The next step probably would be to send Nasrullah, to the international court, and wait for the end of the trial, before taking a position on the fairness of the court !
Has not previous experience with the arrest of Jamil El Sayed taught you anything ? Has anyone wondered what the situation would be in Lebanon and Syria, if Jamil El Sayed, accepted Millis's offer to incriminate Syria ( as a first step,, surely to be followed by Nasrallah and Khaminie) in Harriri's killing.
If, March 8, does not stand up firmly against these conspiracies ( regardless of the consequences), then the next target ( first El Sayed, then Samaha, then who knows ), may not be srong enough to resist pressure and temptation and may be willing to accept a deal to incriminate Syria, and Iran AND Hizbullah in return for personal safety, knowing fully well that he will be left on his own ( just like the 4 generals were left on their own, against an internatiomal conspiaracy)
One last comment: Are there no explosives left in Lebanon, so that Samaha had to bring it along from Syria.? I was under the impresion that a lot of weapons are smuggled into lebanon through the sea on its way to syria, and that Akkar region especially, has FSA terrorists crossing the border freely with their weapons, that many will sell for a handfull of dollrs.
Please correct me if I am wrong

Where were you when the Assadi regime and Iran and Hezbollah's allies were collaborating with the West?

"Has not previous experience with the arrest of Jamil El Sayed taught you anything ? "

Jamil as-Sayyid is a hypocritical scumbag who is still bitter over his wrongful arrest, forgetting his role in jailing the opponents of the Assadi regime, in addition to the hundreds of thousands who languished in Assadi dungeons over the decades of their rule.

"Syria murders 20,000 of its own citizens, works to divide them by religion and generally acts as terror conductor to the whole region and you are suprised that they want to engulf Lebanon into their war?
Which Syria are you watching?

Clearly he is not watching the NATO propaganda caricature that you are describing: to call Syria a "terror conductor" in the region is laughable. To accuse its regime of dividing the population by religion is, in relative terms, ridiculous.

Syria is subject to terrorist attacks at the hands of bigoted and ruthless mercenaries in the employ of the US empire.

The Iranian regime and Hezbollah had no problem when their own "bigoted and ruthless mercenaries" collaborated with the Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq and it was the Assadi mafia which pushed the anti-regime Syrians to use force. The days of "iqtul qateel wamshi fi-janaztu" are over and the Syrian people won't go to their graves smiling just so the Assadi regime can maintain it's iron grip on power.

walla for the first time Dr Assaad gives some potential credibility to the Interior Intelligence Services. And he, who claims not being sectarian, proceeds to subdivide the security services in Lebanon according to sectarian lines, based on the religion of the director general of each service! it is amazing how entrenched sectarianism has become in this culture... And the author seems bewildered, or surprised, by Bashar's stupidity and the Baath regime criminality! wake up doc... or take a course on Pol Sci 101-Syria...

Syria murders 20,000 of its own citizens, works to divide them by religion and generally acts as terror conductor to the whole region and you are suprised that they want to engulf Lebanon into their war?
Which Syria are you watching?

Watching? Watching what? Unless you're watching non Mainstream or Regime T.V. you're just as lost as the others. I'm no fan of the Syrian regime, but the fact of the matter is that minorities under this regime have greater rights then the majority of the people in all of the Arab world.

As for the fragmented Lebanese political structure, inherited from their engineered divisive constitution it's all smoke and mirrors. The objective is to create chaos, fear, hatred, and division. A classic formula for perpetual conflict and death. Almost every politically appointed, elected or affiliated representative in Lebanon either has a pocket full of greenbacks, or has blood on his/her hands. The accusations against this man may be valid, but that doesn't differ him from the majority of the others in positions of influence who reside in Lebanon (or in France as is the case of Mr. Harriri) from getting their orders of execution from outside.

I wonder when will Lebanon, and the Lebanese, for once as a grassroots or homegrown movement take the destiny of their country in their own hands without the external powers dogging them on to kill each other for monetary considerations. Lebanon is not the center of the Universe as many Lebanese imply or believe, far from it. But it can act as a model for the middle east as a tolerant state, because that is where it's full potential lays. It can not succeed as a state, it was designed to fail by it's creators (ie: French) but they don't need a system or constitution to display what an "Arab" country can look like. It's a shame that each sect, has it's own enforcement wing in the country.... obviously everyone is on the take looking out for everyone's interest except the Lebanese in the case of Lebanon, and Syrians in the case of Syria.

Isn't it ironic how Israel has faded away during the Arab spring, it can go so far as to threaten to destroy parts of Palestine, and Lebanon and not a peep from any of the parties involved in the dismantling of Syria, Lebanon.

Keep "watching", and please let us know when you realize that Islamic-Zionism is part of your vocabulary and if you do please share with us where you saw it during your time of "watching'

I know what you are watching. And you seem to be retaining well. Keep watching. The key to being informed is to keep watching.

Forget about the Zionist troll, I know you're watching the open-minded Ad-Dunya, NBN and Al-Manar who didn't dare host an anti-Bashar figure in contrast to "narrow-minded" Al-Arabiyah and Al-Jazeera which hosted hundreds of pro-Bashar figures. You claimed that the Syrian opposition is "narrow-minded" which is true, so what about your camp?

Forget about the "Zionist Troll"? that's exactly what they want... I see you are an obedient Manchurian candidate.

Aljazeera, and AlArabiya ? are you serious... really i shouldn't even reply to such ignorance... but then again it is bliss isn't it?

My post was and is not sympathetic to the regime in Syria... it is sympathetic to all those who are caught between this version of Zionism and that version of Zionism... and by your post you are a by product of Islamic Zionism for sure.... here you go..... 1 + 1 = 3 do you feel better?

"Forget about the "Zionist Troll"? that's exactly what they want... I see you are an obedient Manchurian candidate."

I was being sarcastic if you didn't notice.

"Aljazeera, and AlArabiya ? are you serious... really i shouldn't even reply to such ignorance... but then again it is bliss isn't it?"

I wasn't defending them but pointing out Hezbeleb's hypocrisy of accusing the Syrian opposition and their supporters of being "narrow-minded", which they are, while ignoring his people and why did Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah host hundreds of pro-Bashar figures while the "bliss" of Al-Manar, NBN and Ad-Dunya didn't and wouldn't dare host anybody who opposes Bashar?

"My post was and is not sympathetic to the regime in Syria... it is sympathetic to all those who are caught between this version of Zionism and that version of Zionism"

Where were you when Iran and Hezbollah's allies were collaborating with the Americans?

" and by your post you are a by product of Islamic Zionism for sure.... here you go..... 1 + 1 = 3 do you feel better?"

Yes, the numerous Palestinians like Ra'ed Salah who support the Syrian uprising are "Islamic Zionists". Do they have a special factory which churns outs shababeeh like yourself?

.

Okay that is fair, and for the record I'm all about truth... I did not say in any point that I am pro Regime, I don't even recognize the Ba'ath as a legitimate representative of the people... but I certainly do not want foreign backed goons who think they are serving a Divine entity whom think they can be the judge, jury and executioner on the ground........ it makes them no different from the goons currently in power.... but that is for another argument at another time.

As for Hizbullah, again, never implied that they are innocent either... for example it is well documented when they were in bed with Harriri... , they turned a blind eye to the abuse of the former Prime Minister when he was expanding his corporate interest at the cost of innocent civilian Lebanese, forced evictions, at the end of the day it is the common man who are the ones who pay the price, sometimes that price is their life.

Further, I did not imply that the legitimate Syrians who started to protest against the vile Regime in Syria or people like Ra'ed Salah are Islamist Zionist... I'll leave that role for Mahmoud Abbas and friends. But you would be rather ignorant to believe that the current Armed groups are homogeneous. I don't have a problem who rules Syria when this is all over as long as it is the will of the Syrians and not the economic clout of a third party, or a crazed former empire which dreams of imposing itself on us for another few hundred years, or the Persians so that they can too fulfill their objective of becoming an empire at the expense of the people of the Levant.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><img><h1><h2><h3><h4><h5><h6><blockquote><span><aside>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

^ Back to Top