From a DEBKAfile Analysis, May 13, 2008, 1:00 PM (GMT+02:00):
Lebanese army will not step in before Hizballah fights pro-government forces to the finish
...After six days of fighting between government loyalists and Hizballah leave close to a 100 dead and 200 wounded, the Lebanese army’s demand that all combatants lay down their arms will go unheeded until the Shiite terrorists decide they have achieved their goals.
Hizballah is now focusing on the northern Tripoli region and the central mountains east of Beirut [having already grabbed control of the capital, the south and the Bekaa valley - SL] in line with those goals after deciding there is no need at this stage to topple the pro-Western Siniora government:
1. The northern port of Tripoli is important to Hizballah and Syria - both as the largest pro-Syrian Sunni stronghold in Lebanon and as a supply hub for incoming Iranian arms for Tehran’s Shiite proxy. The arms are unloaded from Iran freighters at the Syrian ports of Latakiya and Tartous and trucked to Tripoli.
2. Hizballah has a strategic interest in crushing the Druze militias of the anti-Syrian pro-government Walid Jumblatt, which control the Chouf mountains east of Beirut. Over and above this goal, DEBKAfile’s military sources stress that, after capturing most of Beirut last Saturday, Hizballah has focused on isolating and disarming the Sunni supporters of the Siniora government.
After a series of fierce clashes, Hizballah slapped down an ultimatum for Jumblatt: Pull your militiamen out of their bases and hand over your heavy weapons i.e. cannon, mortars, heavy machine guns, RPG’s and explosives, to the Lebanese army, or face the consequences. Hizballah then brought in heavy artillery, with Syrian help, and set about pounding Druze mountain positions. It is hard to see them holding out for long before Hizballah seizes control of the hills which command the entire Beirut plateau.
After the Druze militias fall, Hizballah may be expected to focus on vanquishing majority leader Saad Hariri’s Sunni forces in Sidon. This would isolate the only armed force left in Lebanon, the Christian Phalangists led by Samir Geagea.
In the face of the Iranian surrogate army’s lightning conquest of Lebanon, US president George W. Bush’s statement in Washington, on the eve of his Middle East trip, that the United States would not let Syria and Iran undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty comes very much after the fact. His offer to help Siniora by strengthening his armed forces is equally belated.
The Lebanese army is by now more an operational arm of Hizballah than an armed force that serves the government.