April 18/2013


Bible Quotation for today/Patience and Prayer
James 05/07-19: "Be patient, then, my friends, until the Lord comes. See how patient farmers are as they wait for their land to produce precious crops. They wait patiently for the autumn and spring rains.  You also must be patient. Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord's coming is near. Do not complain against one another, my friends, so that God will not judge you. The Judge is near, ready to appear.  My friends, remember the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Take them as examples of patient endurance under suffering. We call them happy because they endured. You have heard of Job's patience, and you know how the Lord provided for him in the end. For the Lord is full of mercy and compassion. Above all, my friends, do not use an oath when you make a promise. Do not swear by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Say only “Yes” when you mean yes, and “No” when you mean no, and then you will not come under God's judgment. Are any among you in trouble? They should pray. Are any among you happy? They should sing praises.  Are any among you sick? They should send for the church elders, who will pray for them and rub olive oil on them in the name of the Lord.  This prayer made in faith will heal the sick; the Lord will restore them to health, and the sins they have committed will be forgiven.  So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.  Elijah was the same kind of person as we are. He prayed earnestly that there would be no rain, and no rain fell on the land for three and a half years.  Once again he prayed, and the sky poured out its rain and the earth produced its crops. My friends, if any of you wander away from the truth and another one brings you back again,  remember this: whoever turns a sinner back from the wrong way will save that sinner's soul from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins."

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources

 The long-term impact of the Boston bombs/Hussein Ibish/Now Lebanon/April 18/13


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for April 18/13
Hundreds believed injured in Texas fertilizer plant blast
US troops sent to Jordan to counter Syrian attack on kingdom
Israel Says Lebanon to Pay Price of Hizbullah Attack
Sources to NOW: Four Hezbollah members buried in Nabatiyeh

Victims want STL witness list publishers charged
Abu Dhabi Expels 20 Lebanese Nationals
Lebanon wants UN aid for Syria refugees

Syrian Ambassador Downplays Lebanon's Complaint to Arab League
Name game begins in Lebanon's Cabinet formation

Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam Calls on Officials to Facilitate Formation of Cabinet, Says Not Holding Onto Post
Berri Stresses Need to Reach Agreement on Electoral Law within One Month
Connelly Says Elections Delay May Worsen Tensions, Affect Investments
Arslan Says No Political Party Can Twist Arms of Its Rivals in Lebanon
Mikati says HIC elections void
Miqati, Salam, Ex-Premiers Deem Higher Islamic Council Elections as 'Illegal'
March 14: Hizbullah Fighting in Syria Risks Eruption of Sunni-Shiite Strife
Arab Democratic Party Official Claims was Targeted by Snipers in Tripoli
Failed Kidnapping of Iraqi Man in Metn
Mustaqbal Urges Govt. Comprising No MP Hopefuls, Slams Attack on Hermel
Aoun Urges Suleiman, Salam to Respect Constitution: Neutral Govt. is Unconstitutional
Sami Gemayel: Hybrid Law Takes us back to the Past because it Does Not Offer Fair Representation

Future MP makes new accusation against Sehnaoui
Assir prevented from holding protests set for Friday, Sunday
Assad Says West to Pay Dearly for 'Funding Qaida', Warns Regime Defeat would Spell End for Syria
Jihadists Claim Sinai Rocket Fire on Israel's Eilat Resort

U.S. to Deploy 200 Troops to Jordan over Syria War
Lavrov Says Friends of Syria 'Negative' for Dialogue


Hundreds believed injured in Texas fertilizer plant blast
By Regina Dennis | Reuters –
WEST, Texas (Reuters) - A fiery explosion ripped through a fertilizer plant near Waco, Texas, on Wednesday night and damaged or destroyed numerous buildings including a school and nursing home, and hundreds of people were likely injured in the blast, authorities said.
CNN reported two fatalities, but that could not be immediately confirmed.
The blast, apparently preceded by a fire at the plant, was reported at about 8 p.m. CDT (0100 GMT on Thursday) in West, a town of some 2,700 people about 80 miles south of Dallas and 20 miles north of Waco.
"It's a lot of devastation. I've never seen anything like this," said McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara. "It looks like a war zone with all the debris."
A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, D.L. Wilson, told Reuters the blast had probably caused "hundreds of casualties" and damaged many homes but had no word on fatalities. He added that a nearby nursing home had collapsed from the explosion and that people were believed trapped inside.
McNamara said the nursing home and much of the center of town had been evacuated, and that residences near the explosion had been leveled.
There was no immediate official word on what sparked the explosion as emergency personnel assisted victims and doused the flames. U.S. Representative Bill Flores, whose district includes West, said he doubted any foul play was involved. "I would not expect sabotage by any stretch of the imagination," he told CNN.
A Texas public safety dispatcher in Waco told Reuters that an initial explosion was followed by two smaller blasts, all of which erupted after a fire at the plant.
He said there was concern that a "second silo" at the plant could explode and that authorities were scrambling to evacuate the area around the facility.
Mayor Tommy Muska said in an interview on CNN that 60 to 80 homes around the plant were flattened.
The air in town remained thick with smoke more than two hours after the explosion, and the area around the blast site was littered with shards of wood, bricks and glass.
A Reuters reporter observed that a nearby middle school and several homes were severely burned. Dallas television station WFAA reported from helicopters that roughly a three-block area of West appeared to have been destroyed.
Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco reported treating 66 patients, including children, for injuries including lacerations, burns and broken bones.
"We are seeing a lot of lacerations and orthopedic-type injuries ... things you would expect in an explosion," said David Argueta, vice president of hospital operations.
"We are being told that we have seen most of the patients, and it's now turned into a search-and-rescue operation on scene," he added.
He said nine people suffering burns had been transferred to the Parkland Hospital in Dallas.
Governor Rick Perry issued a statement saying his office had "mobilized state resources to help local authorities" deal with the incident.
A White House official said the Obama administration was aware of the situation and monitoring local and state response through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The explosion came two days before the 20th anniversary of a fire in Waco that engulfed a compound inhabited by David Koresh and his followers in the Branch Davidian sect, ending a siege by federal agents.
Some 82 members of the sect and four federal agents died at Waco.
Jason Shelton, 33, a father of two who lives less than a mile from the plant, said he heard fire trucks heading toward the facility five minutes before the explosion.
He said he felt the concussion from the blast as he stood on his front porch.
"My windows started rattling and my kids screaming," Shelton told Reuters. The screen door hit me in the forehead ... and all the screens blew off my windows."
(Reporting by Steve Gorman, Tim Gaynor and David Bailey; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Xavier Briand)

Israel Says Lebanon to Pay Price of Hizbullah Attack

Naharnet/Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has warned Lebanon that it would “pay the price” of any attack carried out by Hizbullah on the Jewish state. Hizbullah and Hamas are armed with tens of thousands of rockets of different types and on the day they receive the order, “they’ll fire them at our cities and civilians,” Ya'alon said during an Independence Day speech he delivered in Herzliya on Tuesday. “Lebanese citizens and their leaders must understand that for every Hizbullah attack on us, the organization and Lebanon itself will be considered responsible and will pay the price,” he said.Conventional military threats have decreased, but “terrorist organizations,” rockets, missiles and Iran remain a danger, he said. “Although Hizbullah is busy these months with combat on behalf of the regime of (Syrian President) Bashar Assad, it is ready for a conflict with Israel, with Iranian and Syrian assistance,” the minister added. The bodies of several Hizbullah fighters allegedly killed in Syria have been recently brought to Lebanon for burial. But the party hasn't publicly disclosed how the men were killed, or where.
Yaalon called Iran's nuclear program "the most significant threat" to the world, the progress of which was proof "Tehran wasn't impressed by the steps taken so far." "The Western states must understand that only assertive action will curb the threat. Only forcing the Iranian regime to choose between a bomb or survival will bring Iran to halt the project." "The world should lead the campaign against Iran, but Israel must prepare for the possibility that it will have to defend itself on its own," Yaalon said. Also Tuesday, in a lengthy interview with Israel Radio, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said that Israel's military capabilities were deterring Hizbullah from carrying out attacks against the Jewish state. “Hizbullah knows very well what would happen to it if war breaks out. Lebanon knows what will happen if war breaks out. Therefore, I believe they are deterred,” Gantz said. He called Israel’s deterrent capability “significant.”

Sources to NOW: Four Hezbollah members buried in Nabatiyeh
Now Lebanon/The funeral of four Hezbollah members killed in Syria took place in Lebanon’s Nabatiyeh on Tuesday, sources told NOW, adding that the bodies of more fighters were ready for burial.
Sources told NOW on Wednesday that the burial ceremony was accompanied by Resistance chants and heavy gunfire. Sources also said that a large number of corpses of Hezbollah militants who died in combat in Syria are in the Sheikh Ragheb Harb Hospital Nabatiyeh's Jeb Sheet and that the Shiite group is burying them in installments in order not to draw attention to the growing phenomenon of Hezbollah deaths in Syria. The victims’ relatives also told NOW that some of the Hezbollah members killed in Syria were shot in the back of the head, implying that Syrian army troops who were unable to defect might have killed them. Hezbollah has been reportedly fighting on the side of the Syrian regime against rebels in the Homs province and outside Damascus, with news outlets in the past two weeks reporting that a number of party members had been killed in clashes in Syria. Earlier Wednesday, rebels told Al-Arabiya that around 700 militants affiliated with Hezbollah deployed in the Syrian town of Al-Nazariyeh near Al-Qusayr in Homs province. The opposition Syrian National Coalition on Tuesday called on Lebanon to control its frontiers, after rebels said they fired across the border in retaliation against Hezbollah. The Shiite party has acknowledged that its members living in Syrian villages on the border with Lebanon have taken part in battles against "armed groups" in self-defense. However, it refuses to discuss allegations by Syrian rebels that it has sent fighters from Lebanon to bolster the forces of its ally, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, the Lebanese government agreed to send a memorandum to the Arab League concerning Syrian violations of Lebanese sovereignty, after two people were killed and at least four others were injured in the northeast of Lebanon on Sunday in rocket attacks purportedly conducted by Syrian rebels.

Abu Dhabi Expels 20 Lebanese Nationals
Naharnet /Oil-rich Gulf emirate Abu Dhabi expelled around twenty Lebanese nationals without any clear reasons, media reports said on Wednesday. According to al-Akhbar newspaper, Abu Dhabi authorities deported the Lebanese citizens last week, noting that they have been living in the emirate for a long period of time. The newspaper said that the decision came immediately into effect without allowing the Lebanese to settle their work in the UAE. The reasons behind the deportation are still unclear, the daily said. Earlier this month, media reports said that Saudi Arabia halted issuing visas for the Lebanese, however the Saudi embassy in Beirut denied it.
In March, Gulf Cooperation Council's secretary general Abdul Latif al-Zayani handed over to President Michel Suleiman a letter expressing “great concern” over the government's failure to abide by the Baabda Declaration.
Media reports said that the letter stressed the obstacles threatening the Lebanese-Gulf relations and the interests of Lebanon in GCC states including the conditions of around 600,000 expatriates in the Gulf.
The Baabda Declaration was sponsored by Suleiman and calls for different parties to adhere to the disassociation policy to avoid the spread of the unrest in Syria to Lebanese territories.

Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam Calls on Officials to Facilitate Formation of Cabinet, Says Not Holding Onto Post
Naharnet/Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam stressed on Wednesday that he isn't holding onto the post, denying media reports about the distribution of portfolios.
“We seek for a cabinet whose members are not after personal gains,” Salam told his visitors. He urged leaders to facilitate the formation of his government, reiterating rejection to the monopolization of portfolios by a single sect. Earlier on Wednesday, Salam said in comments published in As Safir newspaper that all parties were “informed to propose their candidates and I am waiting for their suggestions.”According to sources close to the PM-designate, Salam and President Michel Suleiman will select from the proposals the competent and qualified candidates. “The candidates should not be affiliated with any party nor running for the (upcoming parliamentary) elections,” the sources pointed out.An Nahar newspaper reported that Salam has so far failed to finalize a clear perspective on the formation of the cabinet, noting that Suleiman is a key player in the matter. The daily said that the president is keen to preserve a political and sectarian balance in the formation process as the cabinet should be capable of garnering parliament's vote of confidence and be productive. Sources told An Nahar that Salam is expected to handle the foreign ministry by himself, saying that the PM-designate might form his cabinet in a week. On Tuesday, Salam stressed that he will not be hasty in forming a new government “but the process should not be slow either because the country needs a cabinet.”He made his remarks after holding talks with Suleiman at the Baabda Palace. Al-Liwaa newspaper said on Wednesday that Hizbullah insists on the formation of a political government to contribute “positively” in the process. “If Salam is holding onto the formation of a technocrat, de-facto or any other cabinet then the March 8 coalition will reject it,” sources told the newspaper. The sources noted that any other form of governments will “harm the national interests and stability.” Salam has repeatedly said that his new government will be aimed at staging and overseeing the parliamentary elections. The 68-year-old lawmaker and former culture minister is widely seen as a consensus figure but politically leans towards the March 14 alliance.

Berri Stresses Need to Reach Agreement on Electoral Law within One Month
Naharnet /Speaker Nabih Berri reiterated on Wednesday his support to any electoral law that “enjoys the agreement of all Lebanese.” He stressed however the need to reach this agreement within a month. He made his remarks during his weekly meeting with MPs at his Ain el-Tineh residence. In addition, Berri encouraged the parliamentary subcommittee to bolster its efforts to reach a breakthrough over the hybrid electoral law ahead of the parliament session that will convene in min-May. The results of this session will be decisive over this issue, stated the speaker.Berri's visitors lawmakers quoted him as saying that he would call for a parliamentary session on May 15-19 if the subcommittee was incapable of reaching consensus. On the government-formation process, the speaker stressed the importance of establishing a national consensus cabinet capable of tackling major pending issues.
Berri, who had kept himself at a distance from the differences on the shape of the new cabinet, has said Premier-designate Tammam Salam still has time to put an all-embracing government together.
In remarks to several local newspapers published Wednesday, he said he was against rushing the formation of the cabinet, while stressing he was “open to holding consultations with Salam on the all-embracing political government.”“It is the best choice at this stage,” he said.Berri is the head of the Amal movement that is a major component of the March 8 alliance which is calling for a national unity cabinet. But the March 14 coalition wants a government whose members are neither political figures nor running in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Salam, who visited President Michel Suleiman at Baabda palace on Tuesday, said he was not rushing the government formation “but the process should not be slow either because the country needs a cabinet.”The efforts to put together an executive authority come amid a dispute on the electoral law. A parliamentary subcommittee resumed meetings on Tuesday to set the stage for further discussions between rival lawmakers on a vote law. It is scheduled to hold another session on Thursday as a test of intentions.Berri said in his remarks to the newspapers that “the stage that separates us from mid May is decisive.” The speaker said he will call for a parliamentary session on May 15 to help the rival lawmakers reach an agreement on the electoral law.

Sami Gemayel: Hybrid Law Takes us back to the Past because it Does Not Offer Fair Representation
Naharnet/Phalange Party MP Sami Gemayel criticized on Tuesday the hybrid parliamentary electoral law, saying that it does not offer fair representation. He said: “This law takes us back to the past because it does not offer just representation.” He made his remarks after the meeting of a parliamentary subcommittee at parliament. “We will not obstruct any consensus reached by the political powers over the law, but we will exercise our democratic right to reject it,” he added. He was criticizing the hybrid law, which adopts the winner-takes-all system for the qada and proportional representation system for the governorate. The parliamentary subcommittee met on Tuesday to set the stage for the resumption of discussions between rival lawmakers on the draft-law. It will meet again on Thursday with discussions set to focus on the hybrid proposal.

March 14: Hizbullah Fighting in Syria Risks Eruption of Sunni-Shiite Strife
Naharnet /The March 14 General Secretariat renewed on Wednesday its call on Hizbullah to cease its fighting in Syria, “which will leave a deep scar on Lebanese-Syrian ties.”
It said in a statement after its weekly meeting: “Hizbullah's fighting alongside the Syrian regime and at Iran's behest will pave the way for Sunni-Shiite strife, which the party only warns of in words, but is actively working for.”“This strife will not only threaten Lebanon and its national unity, but the entire region and even the world,” it cautioned. It therefore demanded that Hizbullah “completely” withdraw from Syrian territory in order to avoid future acts of retaliation against it that have started in al-Hermel and may spread to the whole of Lebanon. In addition, the March 14 General Secretariat reiterated its condemnation of Syria's violation of Lebanon's eastern and northern borders, demanding the Lebanese state to deploy the army along those areas with the support of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
“Any shelling of Lebanese land or kidnapping on Lebanon territory, by Syrian rebels or regime forces, is a red line,” it declared.
Commenting on Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam's efforts to form a new government, the March 14 forces stressed that they will not make any conditions, urging him against succumbing to any pressure exerted by various political powers. On Monday, Syrian rebel commanders confirmed insurgents had fired shells on towns in the Bekaa region of Hermel on Saturday and Sunday. "Yesterday (Sunday), Hizbullah bombarded Qusayr, Nahriyeh, Burhaniyeh and Saqarji (near the Lebanese border) from its positions in al-Qasr and Hawsh al-Sayyed Ali. They bombed civilians and killed many women and children," said Abu Oday, a commander of the rebel Independent Farouq Division. "If we have to, we will target civilians just like they do. Our civilians are not less valuable than theirs. Hizbullah is killing arbitrarily in Syria," he added.Meanwhile, residents of the Bekaa revealed that the bodies of five Hizbullah fighters killed in Syria were brought back on Sunday and Monday for burial. A security source in southern Lebanon meanwhile told AFP on condition of anonymity that four other fighters from the region had also been killed in Syria.

Connelly Says Elections Delay May Worsen Tensions, Affect Investments
Naharnet /U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly on Wednesday voiced concern that delaying the parliamentary elections could aggravate the tensions in Lebanon and affect economic investments. In an interview on Future TV, Connelly revealed that her administration had a problem in dealing with the outgoing cabinet of caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati due to Hizbullah's presence in the government. She hoped the line-up of the new cabinet will allow Washington to have better ties with the government of Lebanon, but stressed that the cabinet formation process is a purely Lebanese affair. Connelly also called on Lebanon to dissociate itself from the conflict in Syria as much as possible, describing Hizbullah's involvement in the fighting as a blatant violation of Lebanon's self-dissociation policy and the Baabda Declaration, while noting that it has also created a dilemma for the party's supporters. In response to a question, the U.S. envoy ruled out an imminent modification of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 over Hizbullah's interference in the Syrian conflict.

Miqati, Salam, Ex-Premiers Deem Higher Islamic Council Elections as 'Illegal'
Naharnet /A meeting of caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati, Premier-designate Tammam Salam, and former Premiers Fouad Saniora and Omar Karami deemed on Wednesday the recent Higher Islamic Council elections as “illegal.” They said after a meeting at the Grand Serail: “Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani not only violated Shura Council decisions to halt the elections, but his call to hold them and manner in which they were staged constituted a violation of all laws on the matter.”The gatherers stressed that they had advised the mufti against calling for the elections and therefore announced that they will not recognize them or their results.
They decided that the results of the Higher Islamic Council will not be published in Lebanese dailies. They announced that they will keep their meetings ongoing to discuss the measures that “need to be taken to confront illegal practices and maintain the Sunni sect through the institution of Dar al-Fatwa and its various authorities.” Earlier on Wednesday, Qabbani had approved the results of Sunday's elections in which candidates of the Higher Islamic Council had won uncontested. He had said on Sunday that the controversial elections for the 32-member Higher Islamic Council were legitimate and a decision by the Shura Council to cancel the polls was not binding, while the boycotters slammed the vote as "illegitimate." He stressed: “The polls are legitimate and we are not concerned with the opinion of the Shura Council.” “Our hand is extended to everyone,” he said. “We don't have political differences with anyone.” Later on Sunday, the boycotters of the elections held a meeting at the office of the head of the Administrative and Financial Committee Bassam Barghout in the Beirut neighborhood of Sanayeh. “The legal quorum was not available at all polling stations, where the so-called uncontested win of certain candidates was announced,” said a statement recited by the incumbent deputy head of the council Omar Mesqawi.
“We praise everyone who boycotted this election and withdrew from the polls which can only take place through the unity of the institution,” the statement added. The conferees announced that the council will remain in a state of permanent convention. The Council, which elects the mufti and organizes the affairs of Dar al-Fatwa, has been at the center of controversy after 21 of its members, who are close to ex-Premier Saad Hariri's al-Mustaqbal Movement, extended its term until the end of 2013 despite Qabbani's objection. The mufti has refused to hold or join any meetings at Dar al-Fatwa, Lebanon’s top Sunni religious authority, and called for the elections of council members. But last month the Shura Council allegedly deemed the call illegal and canceled the elections. Its decision followed a similar move it made last year when it canceled previous polls set by the Mufti for December 30.
Mesqawi was quoted earlier on Sunday as expressing regret for the failure of the Mufti to react positively to the Shura council's decision. He made the last appeal for the remaining candidates to withdraw their candidacies and for voters not to participate in the electoral process.

Syrian Ambassador Downplays Lebanon's Complaint to Arab League
Naharnet /Syrian Ambassador Ali Abdul Karim Ali denied on Wednesday that Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour had handed him a letter of protest over the recent cross-border attacks on Lebanon, playing down an attempt to file a complaint with the Arab League. “I haven’t been delivered and will not be handed over any letter of protest from the Lebanese foreign ministry,” Ali told reporters after holding talks with Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour.
“I asked for an appointment with the minister to hold consultations on several issues,” he said, adding “he did not summon me.” Ali's visit to Mansour came against the backdrop of a decision by top Lebanese officials on Monday to submit to the Arab League a letter of protest condemning the spillover of fire from Syria onto Lebanon. The officials tasked Mansour with preparing documents and reports drafted by the army on the attacks on border towns and villages and refer them to the Arab League. But Ali accused the organization of “contradicting itself by allowing countries to give arms to terrorists in Syria.”
“The Arab League no longer has the authority to receive any complaint,” the Syrian ambassador told the reporters. He echoed similar remarks made by Mansour who has argued that the complaint should be filed against the Arab League for taking a decision to arm the Syrian opposition that is fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad.  Ali reiterated that the rebels neither want stability nor security. “The terrorists are using the Lebanese border to attack Syria,” Ali said. “Some Lebanese have went there to participate in the killing of Syrians.” Two people were killed and four others wounded when rockets fired from Syria landed in al-Qasr and Hosh al-Sayyed Ali regions in the northeastern Hermel district on Sunday.  The rebels claimed to have fired the shells, blaming Hizbullah for firing from Lebanon and positions inside Syria on rebel-held areas in the strife-torn Qusayr area in Syria, near the border. However, recent raids on the northeastern town of Arsal and the northern district of Akkar have been likely carried out by Syrian regime troops. Ali claimed Wednesday that the Syrian regime hasn't bombarded Lebanese territories. “It has only responded to the sources of fire.” “And if a few shots were fired in disputed territories then we are keen on resolving the issue through the logic of two states,” he said.

Jihadists Claim Sinai Rocket Fire on Israel's Eilat Resort

Naharnet/At least two Grad rockets fired from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula exploded in the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat on Wednesday, causing no casualties, in an attack claimed by a Salafi jihadist group.It was the first rocket attack on the southern resort city in eight months, with the Israeli army saying they were fired from the Egyptian Sinai, although there was no immediate confirmation from Cairo where a senior military official said troops were "investigating" the incident. As news of the rocket fire emerged, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- who is in London for the funeral of Britain's Margaret Thatcher -- held a telephone consultation with the security establishment on "how to react," his office said. Several hours later, a Salafi group called the Mujahedeen Shura Council posted a statement online saying its militants had "managed to target occupied Eilat with two Grad rockets" without saying where they were fired from. The attack took place as Palestinians were marking Prisoners' Day in solidarity with the thousands of inmates held by Israel, with the group saying the rockets were a "response to the continued suffering of the downtrodden prisoners in Israeli jails". The rockets struck shortly after 9:00 am (0600 GMT), both landing inside the city but without causing injuries, Israeli police said. "We've found two explosion sites in the city, we've also closed off the airport as a precaution," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Agence France Presse, later saying that Eilat's tiny international airport had been reopened.
One rocket hit a construction site in the Shahamon neighborhood, while the second struck an open area close to the Jordan border, just east of the main hotel strip, local residents said.
At the start of April, fears of an imminent rocket attack from Sinai prompted the military to move a battery of Israel's vaunted Iron Dome anti-missile system to the Eilat area, a defense official confirmed on Wednesday.
"There were warnings of possible firings, and they decided to shift the system to there," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. But an Israeli security source said the system did not engage to intercept the rockets. "Due to operational circumstances, the battery located in the area did not intercept the incoming rockets," the source said, without elaborating. Israeli media reports also said two rockets had landed in the nearby Jordanian resort of Aqaba, in reports denied by Amman.
"All military and security services in Aqaba have confirmed that nothing happened in Aqaba. It was only on the other side," Amer Sartawi, spokesman for Jordan's Public Security Department, told AFP. At least two Aqaba residents contacted by AFP said they were unaware of any rockets landing in the city. Eilat lies on the northernmost point of the Gulf of Aqaba, a narrow stretch of water bordered on one side by the Sinai and the other by Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Last April, a rocket fired from Sinai hit Eilat but caused no casualties, with police finding another unexploded rocket near the city days later. In August, another two rockets rocked Eilat, again injuring no-one.
That attack was claimed by another Salafist group called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis which said it had fired two Grad rockets at the city. Since the collapse of the regime of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, Israel's border with Sinai has seen multiple security incidents, with militants using the lawless peninsula to stage attacks on the Jewish state. The most serious incident was in August 2011, when gunmen infiltrated southern Israel and staged a series of ambushes that killed eight Israelis. Over the past few years, there has been intermittent rocket fire on Eilat from Sinai. So far, no-one has been injured but in August 2010, one landed in Aqaba, killing a taxi driver.Agence France Presse.

Assad Says West to Pay Dearly for 'Funding Qaida', Warns Regime Defeat would Spell End for Syria
Naharnet /Syrian President Bashar Assad warned on Wednesday the West that it will pay a heavy price for its alleged support of al-Qaida in Syria and said his regime's defeat is not an option. Assad, whose has been battling an uprising since March 2011, told state television al-Ikhbariya in an interview that the West is playing with fire. "The West has paid heavily for funding al-Qaida in its early stages. Today it is doing the same in Syria, Libya and other places, and will pay a heavy price in the heart of Europe and the United States," Assad said. Last week, the jihadist rebel group al-Nusra Front pledged allegiance to al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, who had previously urged rebels to establish an Islamic state in Syria. "We are facing a new war, a new method" with fighters, some of whom are Arabs, not Syrians," the president said in the hour-long interview, adding that the "army is not fighting a war to liberate Syrian territory, but a war on terror."While saying the "situation is better now than it was before," he claimed that "there are big powers, in particular the United States, that do not accept countries to be independent; they want them to be submissive." The president did not spell out how he believed the West was supporting al-Qaida in Syria. In fact, the United States and EU countries have been loathe to fulfill rebel requests for arms for fear they might fall into the wrong hands.But he insisted that "everyone who carries weapons and attacks civilians is a terrorist, be they al-Qaida or not." The regime has long used the word "terrorist" to describe those who have taken up arms against it. Assad also warned that a defeat of his government would spell the demise of Syria, and vowed that he will not surrender.
"There is no option but victory. Otherwise it will be the end of Syria, and I don't think that the Syrian people will accept such an option," he said. "The truth is there is a war and I repeat: no to surrender, no to submission."
As for his own future, he said that would be decided by the people. "The position (of president) has no value without popular backing. The people's decision is what matters in the question of whether the president stays or goes," he said Assad, suggesting he might stand for a new term in elections slated for next year.
Assad took to task neighboring Jordan, which says is hosting around 500,000 Syria refugees, accusing it of allowing rebels free movement across its borders. "I cannot believe that hundreds (of rebels) are entering Syria with their weapons while Jordan is capable of arresting any single person with a light arm for going to resist in Palestine," Assad said. "We would wish that our Jordanian neighbors realize that... the fire will not stop at our borders; all the world knows Jordan is just as exposed (to the crisis) as Syria." In Amman, meanwhile, Information Minister Mohammad Momani said the United States plans to deploy 200 troops in Jordan because of the war in neighboring Syria. "The deployment of the troops is part of U.S.-Jordanian military cooperation to boost the Jordanian armed forces in light of the deteriorating situation in Syria," Momani told Agence France Presse. He did not say when the troops were due to arrive in Jordan. Assad has repeatedly blamed enemies and conspirators for the deadly unrest rocking Syria, where the U.N. says more than 70,000 people have been killed over the past two years. And he told al-Ikhbariya that, "from the first day, what is happening in Syria is dictated from abroad." The interview was timed to coincide with Syria's Independence Day, which marks the 1946 end of French rule. Meanwhile, staunch Assad ally Russia warned that the Friends of Syria group of countries opposed to the Damascus regime was playing a "negative" role in resolving the conflict.
"Right now we see this process is making a negative contribution to the (Geneva) decisions," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Istanbul, referring to a 2012 accord aimed at ending the conflict through talks between all parties. A Friends of Syria meeting is set for Istanbul on Saturday to be attended by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as well as several of his Western and Arab counterparts.
Violence across Syria on Wednesday killed at least 92 people, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
SourceAgence France Presse.

Future MP makes new accusation against Sehnaoui

Now Lebanon/Lebanon’s Future bloc MP Ghazi Youssef made yet another accusation against the Free Patriotic Movement affiliated caretaker Telecommunication Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui.
The National News Agency quoted Youssef as saying in a press conference on Wednesday that Sehnaoui granted private Lebanese companies licenses with forged dates during the post cabinet resignation period. Youssef also said that “Sehnaoui had made promises to a number of private companies belonging to political supporters prior to the cabinet's resignation.” “To fulfill his promises, Minister Sehnaoui sent his consultants, on Saturday March 23, 2013, to the Ministry's General Secretariat, where they confiscated all the records... and kept them in their possession until March 16, as per the Minister's request,” he added. The lawmaker continued: “That was when it had been discovered that the records included new decisions with fake dates,” adding that “such executive decisions cannot be made during the caretaking period.” The Future bloc, mainly through MP Ghazi Youssef, has repeatedly accused FPM Telecommunication Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui of embezzling state funds and often called on caretaker Premier Najib Miqati to report Sehnaoui to the national financial inspection committee.
The minister denied any such allegations, claiming that “Youssef is seeking to destroy what the FPM and its MPs have accomplished over the course of the past three years.”

Assir prevented from holding protests set for Friday, Sunday

Now Lebanon/The Sidon security council held a meeting on Wednesday following which the conferees unanimously decided to prevent Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir from holding two protests set for Friday and Sunday. The National News Agency reported that the reason behind the decision was “security dangers that may lead to clashes that could threaten stability and civil peace.”
They also did not give approval for marches, gatherings and protests that might create sectarian strife, which is in accordance with decisions made by the Higher Defense Council.
Assir has repeatedly stirred controversy in Sidon with his outspoken opposition to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his calls for disarming Hezbollah.

Lebanon wants UN aid for Syria refugees
NOW/AFP/Beirut has asked the UN for $363 million to help the refugees in Lebanon
Lebanon said on Tuesday it will ask for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to ask for aid to help it cope with the influx of refugees from its war-ravaged larger neighbor Syria.
"I will ask our UN envoy Nawaf Salam to contact the necessary parties to ask for an urgent Security Council meeting to discuss the presence of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and to help us shelter them," caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour told reporters. Beirut has asked the UN for $363 million to finance a government plan to help the refugees in Lebanon, but has so far received only a small amount.
Last week, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly said that “the resources presently available do not come close to those needed to support all those in need.”
Meanwhile, World Food Program official Etienne Labanda on April 9 warned that “in one month, and with the current funding, more than 400,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon will no longer receive food assistance.”
Lebanon’s President Michel Suleiman on March 30 called for an international conference to convene in an effort to mitigate the toll that the Syrian refugee crisis is having on the country.
Over $1 billion dollars in aid for Syrian refugees was pledged in a major donor conference in Kuwait in late January, but most of the money has yet to materialize.
Lebanon has been facing difficulties dealing with the increasingly high number of refugees fleeing Syria’s violent uprising against the Assad regime, which has killed more than 70,000 people since its outbreak in March 2011.
The official figures put the number of refugees living in makeshift camps in Lebanon at around 400,000 while other unofficial reports claim that about 1 million have already sought refuge in Lebanon.

The long-term impact of the Boston bombs
It's difficult to overstate how much is at stake

Hussein Ibish/Now Lebanon/
The bomb attack on the Boston Marathon could prove a defining moment in American political culture and attitudes. Particularly for a new generation of young Americans, this tragedy is likely to be a profound formative experience. But it will also have a huge impact on the whole of American society. The identity of the still entirely unknown culprits will probably play a major role in who and what is most closely associated with terrorism in the American imagination for years to come. And such a broad cultural impact could have significant political and policy implications, for better or worse.
The night of the attack I was scheduled to give a talk at an institution for college students from around the United States serving as interns in Washington DC. But I arrived early, just as American President Barack Obama began addressing his country regarding attack. The atmosphere was deadly quiet and electric. Approximately 60 college students of every description were transfixed around a TV. I watched them watching him.
On September 11, 2001, I was Communications Director for a large Arab-American organization. As I looked at those college students, I instantly recognized facial expressions, body language, and a raw intensity I haven't seen since then. It's significant that these were 18-22 year-olds, none of them old enough to have experienced the 9/11 attacks as American adults did. They've already seen their share of tragedy, to be sure. Last year, Hurricane Sandy ravaged large sections of New York and New Jersey. And on December 14, Adam Lanza – at 20, one of their own age cohort – shot and killed himself, his mother, 20 schoolchildren, and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut.
But this is different. While traumatic events, neither of them were regarded as terrorism. No other terrorist act in the United States since 9/11 has had the profound symbolic resonance of the Boston bombings. It seemed clear that for these students this was a defining experience: an unmistakable confrontation with political violence and sabotage directly aimed at highly symbolic national targets with an evidently ideological, although still mysterious, motivation. Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, terrorism in American culture has been virtually synonymous with extremist Muslim political violence. The memories of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, and more recent experiences with other kinds of terrorists, have not shattered this false equation. But doubts have been growing. The Boston Marathon attack comes at a crucial cultural moment, just as the zone of impunity surrounding anti-Muslim bigotry has begun to palpably recede. Even on the political and cultural right, a major pushback against Islamophobia has been well underway.
The Boston bombings are perfectly positioned chronologically to have a maximal impact on how broadly or narrowly "terrorism" and "terrorists" are defined in the imaginations of many Americans.
If the culprits prove to be Arab in origin or Muslim, that could well reinforce a highly damaging stereotype that has been steadily receding back to the American social and cultural margins where it belongs. It could, at least partially, undo years of painstaking effort by so many Americans to push back against post-9/11 prejudices.
If, however, as is at least equally plausible at this stage, the perpetrators are found to be from an entirely different identity group, that would almost certainly prove the biggest blow yet to the illusion that Muslims and terrorists are more or less synonymous. It's difficult to overstate how much is at stake. Many Arab and Muslim Americans have been open about their anxieties, and organizations have rushed to issue condemnations.
A similar, and sometimes sinister sentiment, is also brewing on the far-right. Some Tea Party activists are accusing the government of staging a "false flag" operation to blame them and suppress their political activities.
The white, Christian extreme-right has less to fear, since their core identity makes them part of the majority community. But some of their advocates are conveying profound concern about the consequences should they find themselves collectively and politically blamed.
The false equation of behavior and identity has to be broken.
The conscious or unconscious conflation of "Muslim and "terrorist" in contemporary American culture is completely dysfunctional. Replacing stereotypes about Muslims with stereotypes about the far right not only isn't going to happen – it also wouldn't be an improvement. Distinguishing between behavior and identity is essential for the health of American culture. It’s also vital to sound counterterrorism and law enforcement policies, free from the distortions of false assumptions. The outcome of the Boston investigation, and how the American government and society deals with it, could provide a historic opportunity for a step backwards into deeper prejudice or a leap forward towards clearer thinking.
Watching those students watching their President left me with little doubt of how much impact it is likely to have, one way or the other.

US troops sent to Jordan to counter Syrian attack on kingdom
DEBKAfile Special Report April 17, 2013/
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Wednesday, April 17, that 200 troops of the US 1st Armored Division had been ordered to deploy in Jordan. debkafile’s military sources report that they are being sent on arrival to the north and ranged on the Jordanian-Syrian border. According to the Pentagon statement, the force will give the United States the ability to "potentially form a joint task force for military operations, if ordered.”
The new deployment will include communications and intelligence specialists, who will assist the Jordanians and "be ready for military action" if President Barack Obama orders it.
Small US units, mainly special forces and special groups trained for chemical warfare, have been have been quietly present in Jordan for the past year. The new deployment makes the US military presence official.
debkafile’s Washington sources disclose that President Obama ordered the new deployment to the kingdom when he discovered that Syrian President Bashar Assad was about to publicly and sharply condemn Jordan’s King Abdullah in a special Syrian TV broadcast Wednesday night and accuse him of responsibility for sending hundreds of armed fighters into Syria to oppose the regime.
Assad was also expected to warn the US and the West that they would regret their support for al Qaeda groups fighting with the rebels against his government.
In Washington and Amman, the forthcoming diatribe by Assad against the king was viewed as the opening shot for a presidential order to the Syrian army to launch an offensive against the Hashemite Kingdom.
debkafile’s military sources report that if full-scale war were to erupt between US troops and the Jordanian Army, on one side, and the Syrian army, on the other, Israel and the IDF would almost certainly become involved.