NORTH KOREANS ASSISTED HEZBOLLAH WITH TUNNEL CONSTRUCTION
Recent reports about Hezbollah’s tunnel construction capabilities have received a new twist. In addition to receiving support from Iran and Syria, Hezbollah is also believed to be benefiting from assistance provided by North Korean advisers, according to a July 29 report in al-Sharq al-Awsat. The report quotes a high-ranking Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer, who stated that North Korean advisers had assisted Hezbollah in building tunnel infrastructure, including a 25 kilometer underground tunnel. The officer explained that the North Koreans were filtered into Lebanon “in the guise of [domestic] servants by Iranian diplomats” (al-Sharq al-Awsat, July 29). The report also provides specifics on Iran’s assistance to Hezbollah, such as Tehran’s training of Hezbollah naval units, the construction of underground command and control centers, the construction of underground weapons depots and the training of three Hezbollah missile units consisting of 20 men each.
NEW ASSASSINATION CAMPAIGN IN SOMALIA?
On July 28, the current instability in Somalia was marked by another development, as a senior minister for the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was assassinated while leaving a mosque in Baidoa (SomaliNet, July 29). The slain politician, Abdallah Isaaq Deerow, was the constitution and federalism minister. Although police apprehended a suspect in the killing, the motive was unclear. Nevertheless, the assassination has caused concern among other TFG ministers since Baidoa remains their last safe refuge in southern Somalia, since the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) has consolidated control over most of the south. The latest killing could be the start of an assassination campaign by factions tied to the ICU. The ICU has refrained from attacking Baidoa in force because of the fact that the TFG is an internationally-supported government and, more importantly, because there are allegedly heavily-armed Ethiopian soldiers stationed in Baidoa to protect the TFG. Ethiopia has supported with weapons the forces opposed to the Islamists, while Eritrea has funneled arms to the Islamist militias. There is concern that if the ICU makes a move on Baidoa, it will bring Ethiopia into the conflict and possibly spark a regional war.