December 01/2013


Bible Quotation for today/Eternal Life
01 John 05/13-21: "I am writing this to you so that you may know that you have eternal life—you that believe in the Son of God.  We have courage in God's presence, because we are sure that he hears us if we ask him for anything that is according to his will.  He hears us whenever we ask him; and since we know this is true, we know also that he gives us what we ask from him. If you see a believer commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray to God, who will give that person life. This applies to those whose sins do not lead to death. But there is sin which leads to death, and I do not say that you should pray to God about that.  All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which does not lead to death. We know that no children of God keep on sinning, for the Son of God keeps them safe, and the Evil One cannot harm them. We know that we belong to God even though the whole world is under the rule of the Evil One. We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we know the true God. We live in union with the true God—in union with his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and this is eternal life. My children, keep yourselves safe from false gods!

Pope Francis:
‏ The Church invites everyone to be embraced by the Father’s tenderness and forgiveness.

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For December 01/13
DEBKAfile/Enough enriched uranium in Iran for 4 nuclear weapons. N-Bomb awaits Saudis in Pakistan/December 01/13

Israel can’t really conquer Damascus in hours/Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat/December 01/13


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For December 01/13
Lebanese Related News
Suleiman: Lebanon's Youth Should Not be Fuel for Politicians' Interests

Miqati Says Security Forces to Deal Firmly with Violators in Tripoli
4 Dead as Tripoli Clashes Resume over Another Attack on Jabal Mohsen Resident
Change and Reform, National Struggle Front to Meet Next Week

Berri to Brief Saniora on Outcome of Visit to Iran in Anticipated Meeting
Berri Says he'll Deal with Presidential Elections Crisis when Deadline Approaches
Aoun Links Cabinet with Presidential Elections, Says he Nominates Geagea
Berri to Brief Saniora on Outcome of Visit to Iran in Anticipated Meeting
Army Seizes, Detonates Grad Rockets in the Bekaa
Army Checkpoint Arrests Salafist in Arsal
Mouawad Calls for Forming 'Moderate Front,' Rejects Hizbullah's 'Occupation'
Acting police chief Basbous now major general: Charbel

Two soldiers wounded in north Lebanon

Future aims to facilitate presidential elections

Alawites in Tripoli rally to denounce attacks
Miscellaneous Reports And News
Pope to Visit Jordan during Holy Land Trip

Chemical Watchdog Says U.S. to Destroy Syria Stockpile at Sea
U.S. Forces Operating 'Normally' in China Air Zone
Syrian Rebels Re-Enter Historic Town Maalula
Peace is in the hands of the Iranians, Peres tells members of Mexican Senate
The Geneva deal: A true test of leadership for Netanyahu and Obama

Rohani: Iran will not dismantle nuclear sites
Zarif says Iran has final say on nuclear enrichment
Iran nixes possibility it would attend nuclear talks with Israel present
Iran envoy: Tehran, Ankara have 'close' intel ties

OPCW: US offers to destroy Syria's priority chemicals
Egyptian panel starts vote on draft constitution

Police Fire Tear Gas as Top Egypt Activist Surrenders
Palestinians killed in Syria mourned as heroes

Ya'alon embraces Druze community after incident of discrimination against IDF Druze soldiers 

Enough enriched uranium in Iran for 4 nuclear weapons. N-Bomb awaits Saudis in Pakistan

DEBKAfile Special Report November 30, 2013/Saudi King Abdullah and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were not won over by President Barack Obama's pledges in personal phone calls to the two Middle East leaders last week not to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. Their skepticism only grew.This development in the Iranian nuclear controversy finds two of the three leaders trapped in a credibility gap between their public pronouncements and the Iranian reality which has long overtaken them both. Obama’s oft-repeated pledge is canceled out by most Western nuclear experts, who are convinced that Iran managed to advance to a capacity for producing four nuclear bombs, under cover of protracted diplomacy. In their view, the current first-step deal, followed by a comprehensive accord in six months' time, are merely an attempt by the six world powers to hold Iran back from expanding its arsenal any further. The US president’s avowals are therefore hollow. Saudi princes and officials have often said that if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon or reaches the threshold of this capacity, the oil kingdom will not lag behind. All Riyadh needs to do now, say debkafile’s Middle East sources, is to invoke the agreement signed with Islamabad in 2004, under which Saudi funding was provided for Pakistan’s nuclear bomb program in return for some of the bombs or warheads produced to await Saudi Arabia’s call for their delivery, complete with the appropriate missiles. Pakistan denies the existence of this transaction. However, military and intelligence experts in the West are certain that although this transfer has not yet taken place, it will soon, in the light of the edge Iran has gained in its current negotiations with the West.
Therefore, Obama’s phone conversation with Abdullah was more concerned with keeping a nuclear bomb out of Saudi hands than out of Iran’s.Since 2008, the Israeli prime minister has vowed time and time again to prevent Iran reaching a nuclear threshold, making it clear that the Israeli armed forces would be sent into action - if need be. So his credibility deficit is on a par with Obama’s. At the Western Wall, Thursday, Nov. 11, on Hanukkah eve, Binyamin Netanyahu paraphrased a popular festival song to declare: “We came to drive out the darkness and the largest darkness that threatens the world today is a nuclear Iran!” What did he mean by those words, if not an intention to exercise Israel’s military option to “drive out the darkness?”
Maj. Gen. (res) Yakov Amidror – until recently National Security Adviser to the prime minister - wrote last week in The New York Times that Iran already has enough enriched uranium to make four bombs. “The Geneva deal, in short, did not address the nuclear threat at all,” he wrote Iran reached that point more than a year ago, so how to take the repeated pledges by the prime minister to “act itself, by itself” to prevent this happening?
Prime Minister Netanyahu has carefully avoided presenting the Knesset or the people with a clear picture of where Israel stands in relation to Iran’s nuclear program, has never laid out his policy on the question or depicted what the future may hold.And so his “military option” has progressively waned in credibility both at home and abroad. In Obama’s phone call to Netanyahu, debkafile’s intelligence and Washington sources report that the president described at length the US intelligence measures to be applied for verifying Iran’s compliance with the Geneva deal. He said that its findings would be referred to Israeli intelligence for a second assessment.
Obama also suggested a visit to Washington by an Israeli military intelligence delegation of nuclear experts to finalize the details of US-Israeli collaboration for verifying that Iran was living up to its commitments under the near accords. When this US-Israeli dialogue reached their ears, the Iranians were furious. Thursday, Nov. 28, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, dropping the genial mien he assumed in Geneva, reverted to harsh Islamic Republican-speak when he said: “Never such a thing will happen and definitely we will not be in the room in which representatives from the Zionist regime will have a presence!”
It was clear that Tehran would boycott the technical discussion on the details of the Geneva accord if Israeli experts were to sit in a side room, a proposal which might also be extended to Saudi Arabia, as the two Middle East nations most directly at risk from an Iranian nuclear capacity.
Then, Friday, President Hassan Rouhani weighed in to further devalue the Geneva accord’s international worth. In an interview with The Financial Times, he said Iran would never dismantle its atomic facilities. Asked whether this was a "red line" for the Islamic republic, Rouhani replied: "100 per cent."In other words, not only Netanyahu but Obama too can forget about any hopes they may have entertained of Iran shutting down its Fordo enrichment plant, or holding up the construction of its heavy water plant in Arak for the production of plutonium. Tuesday, Nov, 26, two days after the six powers signed their first-step nuclear accord with Iran, Netanyahu called the security cabinet into special session which went on into the night to hear and debate briefings from IDF intelligence (AMAN) officers. No word has leaked from that session, but some sources claimed anonymously that the ministers received the most optimistic outlook they had heard in years. Before giving weight to such possible optimism, debkafile’s analysts recall AMAN’s 2011 prediction that Bashar Assad’s downfall was imminent, and its misreading of the situations prevailing in Washington and Tehran.

Pope to Visit Jordan during Holy Land Trip
Naharnet Newsdesk 30 November 2013/Pope Francis will visit Jordan during a trip to the Holy Land next year, the state Petra news agency reported on Saturday, citing a senior Vatican source. "During his (August) visit to the Vatican, King Abdullah II invited His Holiness to visit Jordan," Petra quoted Vatican foreign affairs official Dominique Mamberti as saying in Amman. "We are currently looking at the preparations in detail for the visit, which should take place next year. "The pope's visit to the Holy Land will begin in Jordan," Mamberti said after meeting Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. He said Pope Francis considers Jordan to be "a holy land, and one that respects religious pluralism... necessary to create a climate of peace not only in the Arab world but also across the entire Middle East." During an audience at the Vatican on October 17, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas invited Pope Francis to the Middle East, saying he would "walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ". The invitation from Abbas followed one from Israeli President Shimon Peres earlier in the year. Francis had already said he would like to visit the Middle East in 2014, but the Vatican has not yet officially confirmed the trip, despite a report by Israel's Channel 2 television that it will take place in March. Francis has said he would like to visit the patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians. Last month, Abbas was the fourth Middle East leader to meet Pope Francis after Peres, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and the Jordanian monarch. Unconfirmed information from Roman Catholic sources in the Holy Land indicated a possible papal visit to a refugee camp for Syrians in Jordan. Maronite sources have also hoped for a possible trip to Lebanon to preach reconciliation in the region. Source/Agence France Presse.

Acting police chief Basbous now major general: Charbel

November 30, 2013/he Daily Star/BEIRUT: Acting Police chief Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous has been promoted to the rank of major general via decree in a move aimed at ending paralysis in the council governing the Internal Security Forces, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said in remarks published Saturday. “Filling in vacancies in the Leadership Council [of the Internal Security Forces] was necessary so that it could convene and promoting Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous to major general [was also needed],” Charbel told As-Safir newspaper. The decree to promote Basbous to major general was signed by President Michel Sleiman, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Charbel and caretaker Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi. The decree also appointed several members to the Leadership Council, an 11-member body that has been unable to convene or make decisions given most of its members retired earlier this year. Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam was appointed in April and has been struggling to form a new government to replace Mikati's resigned Cabinet.
Charbel said promoting Basbous would allow the acting chief to head the council’s meeting once it convenes. Basbous, while still an acting police chief, would also be able take on some duties reserved for the post of ISF head, Charbel added. Appointments for top security posts require a Cabinet decree. “The exceptional circumstances [in the country] necessitated such a decision after losing all hope that Cabinet would convene,” Charbel said.
“The security situation prompted me to take this step because there are major duties that require a high level of readiness within the security agency,” he said. “Such preparedness cannot be ensures in the absence of a leadership council and a police chief,” Charbel said.

3 Dead as Tripoli Clashes Resume over Another Attack on Jabal Mohsen Resident
Naharnet Newsdesk 30 November 2013/Clashes in rival neighborhoods in the northern city of Tripoli resumed on Saturday, leaving three people dead, after a resident was shot in his feet in a renewal of targeted sectarian attacks. Snipers in the Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen districts became active when Wassim al-Khatib, a Alawite, was shot in his feet in the area of al-Beddawi-al-Mankoubine, in the second such incident in three days. After news broke about the attack, snipers from both districts took aim at each other and passers-by. A 15-year-old boy, Omar al-Haswani, Abdul Rahman Merheb, and Ramzieh al-Zohbi were killed from sniper fire in the areas of al-Tabbaneh and al-Zahriyeh, the state-run National News Agency reported. Twelve others, including three soldiers, were injured, it said. The army general command said in a communique, however, that two soldiers were injured when several army bases came under fire. Troops are on the ground, responding to sources of fire, it said. It confirmed that soldiers evacuated al-Loqman school in Bab al-Tabbaneh and took students to safer areas. Security forces also diverted traffic after sniper fire reached al-Mallouleh roundabout. On Friday, Jabal Mohsen's Alawites held a sit-in over the recent attacks targeting members of the sect.
Several Tripoli municipal workers from Jabal Mohsen were shot in their feet on Thursday. The attacks were claimed by the “Military Committee to Avenge the Victims of the Tripoli Bombings,” referring to deadly twin car bomb blasts that targeted Sunni mosques in Tripoli last August. Sectarian clashes related to the Syrian civil war often flare in Tripoli, in particular between the two impoverished neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen that back opposite sides. Bab Tabbaneh is largely Sunni, as are Syria's rebels fighting against President Bashar Assad's rule. Residents of Jabal Mohsen are mostly of the Alawite sect to which Assad belongs.

Suleiman: Lebanon's Youth Should Not be Fuel for Politicians' Interests
Naharnet Newsdesk 30 November 2013/President Michel Suleiman urged Lebanon's youth on Saturday not to be the fuel that meets the interests of rival party leaders, stressing the importance of commitment to the Baabda Declaration. In remarks to runners in an annual marathon held on the occasion of Independence Day, Suleiman called for keeping the spirit of independence and avoiding dependency on other countries. The youth should not be the fuel that serves the party leaders, he said, adding they should put the national interest above any other interest. The president told the athletes, who ran from Rashaya Citadel to the presidential palace, that the Baabda Declaration supplements and consolidates the National Pact and the country's independence. Rashaya's citadel holds historic significance, as it became a prison for leaders of the rebellion against the French Mandate.  After national and international pressure, the prisoners were released on November 22, 1943 and that day was declared the Lebanese Independence Day. “We should abide by the Constitution,” Suleiman said. Last year, the leaders from the Hizbullah-led March 8 alliance and the opposition March 14 coalition agreed to distance Lebanon from the regional turmoil and affirmed commitment to the Taef Accord that ended the 1975-90 Civil War. The agreement became known as the Baabda Declaration. Suleiman's comments came amid continued criticism by the March 14 coalition of Hizbullah, which has sent its fighters to Syria to back President Bashar Assad's troops against the rebels seeking to topple him. March 14 officials accuse Hizbullah of violating the Baabda Declaration. On Saturday, Suleiman was handed the Lebanese flag, which carried the signatures of municipal chiefs and mayors of the towns that the athletes passed through to reach Baabda Palace.

Berri to Brief Saniora on Outcome of Visit to Iran in Anticipated Meeting
Naharnet Newsdesk 30 November 2013/A meeting is expected to take place between Speaker Nabih Berri and head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc Fouad Saniora over the outcome of the speaker's latest visit to Iran,media reports said on Saturday. The meeting between the two men is “expected to take place soon,” An-Nahar daily said. On his part, Berri affirmed to the daily that the meeting “will take place.”
The Speaker will brief Saniora on the results of his latest visit to Iran, “focusing on the significance of the Iran-Saudi rapprochement,” An-Nahar said. It added that the talks will pave way for further discussions on the “government formation impasse and the total situation in the country.” The speaker visited Tehran lately after an official invitation from his Iranian counterpart Ali Larijani. During his several-day visit, which he described as “successful,” Berri held talks with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and head of Shura Council Ali Larijani. On Thursday, Berri said that any consensus between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia would reflect on Lebanon positively, denying that he was asked to mediate between the two countries.

Miqati Says Security Forces to Deal Firmly with Violators in Tripoli
Naharnet Newsdesk 30 November 2013/Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati stressed on Saturday that the Lebanese state will not hesitate in taking all the necessary decisions to avert the situation in the northern city of Tripoli, saying that the security forces will deal firmly with violators. “We have takes several security decision that should aid the security forces in carrying out their tasks in Tripoli,” Miqati told reporters after talks with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X Yazigi at Balamand University. “Enough promises,” the caretaker premier said. Asked about the assault against the residents of Jabal Mohsen, Miqati denounced the act, saying that it's rejected. “We ordered security forces to deal firmly with the matter,” he added. Miqati headed earlier on Saturday a security meeting in Tripoli, attended by several political and security officials. “I wanted the meeting to remain away from media spotlight,” he told reporters. Tensions have been running high in Tripoli since Thursday, when residents of Jabal Mohsen began flying Syrian flags to demonstrate their support for the Assad regime. In response, residents of neighboring Bab el-Tebbaneh raised the flag favored by rebels seeking the ouster of Assad. Sniper activity renewed on Friday when Wassim al-Khatib, an Alawite, was shot in his feet in the area of al-Beddawi-al-Mankoubine, in the second such incident in three days. Several Tripoli municipal workers from Jabal Mohsen were shot in their feet on Thursday in the area of al-Zahriyeh. The attacks were claimed by the “Military Committee to Avenge the Victims of the Tripoli Bombings,” referring to deadly twin car bomb blasts that targeted Sunni mosques in Tripoli last August. Tripoli's population is 80 percent Sunni and 11 percent Alawite -- an offshoot of Shiite Islam -- and violence between the two communities dates back to Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. But the tensions have been aggravated by the conflict in Syria, and the city was struck by a deadly double car bombing in August that killed 45 people. Concerning the abduction of the case of Bishops Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi, who were kidnapped by armed men in Syria in April, Miqati said that the issue will take its “normal course,” expressing hope that good news will be heard soon. Miqati hailed Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X Yazigi's rhetoric, who said that there's no difference between Muslims and Christians in the region.
“We need to hear a wise rhetoric in order to unite the people,” the caretaker Premier said.

Army Checkpoint Arrests Salafist in Arsal
Naharnet Newsdesk 30 November 2013/The Lebanese army detained on Saturday a Lebanese man, who hails from the north, at a checkpoint in northeastern border town of Arsal. According to the state-run National News Agency, the man belongs to a Salafist group and was arrested at dawn on Saturday at a checkpoint in Wadi Hmeid in Arsal. Border areas in the north and east have been struck by frequent cross-border shelling and clashes linked to the Syrian crisis, while the Syrian regime has told Lebanon to better control its porous border to prevent the smuggling of fighters and arms. Lebanon is sharply divided over the war in Syria and Arsal is a particular flashpoint as refugees from the uprising and fighters and smugglers hostile to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad traverse the border

Change and Reform, National Struggle Front to Meet Next Week
Naharnet Newsdesk 30 November 2013/A meeting is scheduled to be held next week between members of the Change and Reform and National Struggle Front blocs, lawmaker Ibrahim Kanaan told al-Joumhouria newspaper published Saturday. It would be the fourth such meeting between MP Michel Aoun's Change and Reform and other blocs. Aoun's lawmakers have previously held talks with members of Speaker Nabih Berri's Development and Liberation bloc, al-Mustaqbal and the Phalange. Change and Reform lawmaker Kanaan told al-Joumhouria that such meetings have “become a necessity to urge everyone to stick to Lebanon’s principles at this dangerous stage.” He said the agenda of the meeting with the National Struggle Front of MP Walid Jumblat includes the parliamentary crisis and the activation of the executive authority either through the resigned government or through the formation of a new cabinet. The meeting would also deal with the presidential elections next year. “They should be held on time out of our rejection for vacuum or the extension” of President Michel Suleiman's term, Kanaan said.

Aoun Links Cabinet with Presidential Elections, Says he Nominates Geagea
Naharnet Newsdesk 30 November 2013/Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun has made a clear connection between the formation of a new government and the election of a president which he said should garner a huge support by the rival political parties. Aoun told An Nahar daily in an interview published on Saturday that he agreed with Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea on the need for a strong president.
Geagea “considers himself strong. So I nominate him,” Aoun said mockingly. He reiterated that he wasn't a candidate for the presidency but “he wouldn't give up his tasks if decision-makers wanted” him to reach the country's top post. Asked about a possible vacuum if parliament failed to elect a new president, Aoun said: “The extension of (President Michel Suleiman's) mandate means vacuum.” “We are living in (a state of) vacuum and we are afraid of it. Through the extension, we would be extending vacuum,” he warned. Suleiman's six-year term ends in May 2014. But there are fears that differences and lack of consensus among rival political parties would prevent the parliament from meeting and would lead to a vacuum in the presidency. Aoun, who is also the head of the parliamentary Change and Reform bloc, stressed that the solution to the crisis would come through the formation of the new cabinet. “If there was no government, there would be no presidential elections,” he told An Nahar. Aoun disagreed with his ally Marada leader MP Suleiman Franjieh, who has recently called for the election of a new president by simple majority. “Simple majority is dangerous. The president should garner a bigger understanding” among the rival parliamentary blocs and political parties, he said.  “The new cabinet is not being formed because there are connections with abroad,” he said. “Had there been independent (politicians), they would have taken the decision that conforms with Lebanese interests.” Aoun renewed his criticism of Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati over his policies in the resigned cabinet. The secretary-general of the executive authority, Suhail Bouji, is “the ruler” and gives his “instructions,” Aoun said. On Tuesday, the FPM chief called on Miqati to “leave the Grand Serail.”He “is disassociating himself from local events, and many things are taking place after securing the signature of the cabinet's secretary-general Suhail Bouji and President Michel Suleiman,” Aoun said.

Mouawad Calls for Forming 'Moderate Front,' Rejects Hizbullah's 'Occupation'
Naharnet Newsdesk 29 November 2013/Head of the Independence Movement Michel Mouawad called on Friday for forming a local “moderate front,” strongly rejecting to accept Hizbullah as a dominant force in the country.
"A civil confrontation is the only mean to face extremism in Lebanon and the region,” Mouawad said in a speech he gave at a celebration marking the 24th anniversary of his father President Rene Mouawad's assassination.
“I call for forming a front of moderates of all sects.”Mouawad noted, however, that a moderate front does not mean a group with a neutral ideology. "I urge a strong moderate front to face the Syrian regime's occupation,” he said. Mouawad stressed at the beginning of his speech that Lebanon is “not a land for jihad, al-Nusra or wilayat al-faqih.” He said: “Lebanon is a nation with an identity and a civilization and we will not accept an Israeli occupation, an Iranian domination or a Syrian mandate.”He explained that the problem with Iran is that it “violates Lebanese sovereignty and identity.”
"Iran, (Syrian President Bashar) Assad and jihadists are a danger threatening the Lebanese entity.” "But what we cannot accept is that a Lebanese party hijacks political decisions to benefit Iran and Bashar Assad,” he added. "We cannot accept that Hizbullah goes from being a partner in the country to becoming an occupier.” The northern leader explained: “When Hizbullah is above the law and when it announces its intentions to change our lifestyle and our identity, this is called an occupation.”With “full respect,” the northern leader addressed Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, telling him that refusing a national consensus or a political cover “is not acceptable.”
“The domination of one party over the Lebanese people is a rejected project. Religious coexistence cannot be guaranteed by becoming obedient and the path you are taking leads only to a total destruction.”
However, Mouawad pointed out that federalism and separation are not the solution either, stressing on the importance of the state, the National Pact and the Lebanese constitution.
Mouawad thanked Free Patriotic Movement leader for delegating a representative to attend Friday's event, telling MP Michel Aoun, however, that Hizbullah's path “does not resemble” his ideologies.
"If Hizbullah's project wins, we will all pay the price,” the Independence Movement leader stressed. Addressing Aoun, Mouawad continued: “You belong to the party defending the state and legitimacy and I sincerely urge you to meet us and the moderate front to defend together Lebanon, its identity and the presidency.” The ceremony was held in Dbaye with the participation of a wide range of March 14 politicians and representatives of President Michel Suleiman, caretaker premier Najib Miqati, Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam, Speaker Nabih Berri as well as of religious figures. President Rene Mouawad was killed on Independence Day in 1989 in an attack blamed on Syria by the Mouawad family and Damascus' foes in Lebanon.

Son of slain president stresses need for neutrality

November 30, 2013/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Michel Mouawad, head of the Independence Movement and the late President Rene Mouawad’s son, said it was necessary to keep Lebanon neutral and preserve national sovereignty during a ceremony to mark his father’s assassination. Mouawad said it was necessary to “uphold the Baabda Declaration and [keep Lebanon neutral], as well as to limit the use of weapons and national decision-making to official [powers].”
Hundreds of people attended the ceremony to mark the 24th anniversary of the assassination of President Rene Mouawad at the Emile Lahoud Center for Culture and Conferences in the Metn town of Dbayyeh Friday.
A number of political, religious and military officials attended the ceremony, which began with a recorded message by the former president titled “History is not repealed with a decision.”
Mouawad was killed on Nov. 22, 1989, not long after he was elected president following the Taif agreement that ended the country’s 15-year Civil War. His convoy was returning from an Independence Day ceremony when it was struck by a bomb that had been planted in a shop in the Beirut neighborhood of Sanayeh. The younger Mouawad said Lebanon would not accept Israeli occupation, Iranian domination or protection from the Syrian regime, nor would it accept Sunni or Shiite extremism. He also said it was not possible to “understand or accept Hezbollah transforming from a national partner to an occupying force,” and that his party “cannot understand a Lebanese political party [Hezbollah] that snatches our decision-making [abilities] and implements Iran and Syrian President Bachar Assad’s interests [in its place].”Several journalists, artists and notable figures spoke at the ceremony, including Ahmad Jarba, the Syrian National Coalition chief, who said in a televised speech that “President Rene Mouawad is a symbol of moderation and we need him very much today.”A retrospective film also showed other officials who had been assassinated, including President-elect Bashir Gemayel and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Carlos Slim pickings

November 30, 2013/The Daily Star
The news that Carlos Slim, one of the richest people on the planet, is focusing efforts on investing some of his vast fortune in Israel should come as no surprise to anyone from Slim’s ancestral homeland, Lebanon.
Slim revealed his intentions in the context of an official visit this week by Israeli President Shimon Peres to Mexico, and said the technology sector was of particular interest for his potential financial move.
The choice of Israel is a highly objectionable one as Slim is considered so connected with his homeland that he has even been given the National Order of the Cedars.
Perhaps Lebanese officials should do a better job of explaining that the country remains at war with Israel, which continues to occupy Lebanese territory, and which left behind death, destruction and millions of pieces of deadly unexploded ordnance when it staged a withdrawal in 2000. Ever since, Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty have taken place on a near-daily basis.
But on one level, Slim’s decision to invest in Israel is a relatively easy choice, due the presence of political and economic climate conducive to such ventures.
Slim has had ample time to assess the state of affairs in his native Lebanon over the past few decades, and it is obvious that there is little here to encourage him to put some of his money to work. Some businesspeople might be seeking out opportunities in areas related to the Internet and communications technology, but there are periodic problems with ensuring there is enough decent bandwith to go around. The political paralysis and infighting over who will “obtain” shares of the oil and gas sector, as Lebanon dreams about its offshore wealth, is another stumbling block to outside enthusiasm in investment.
From there, one moves to even more disappointing sectors, such as agriculture, where the lack of high-tech, forward-looking initiatives would scare away any sane investors, and real estate, where only a committee of winners of the Nobel Prize for Economics might be able to make sense of the domestic market.
Like any other sane investors, Slim is looking for dynamism, innovation and a well-developed legal-judicial system, so that his investments will be sufficiently protected. He and others like him see little to nothing of promise in Lebanon, where politicians are skilled in asking investors to come, but not in providing them with what they need.
When Slim and other prosperous Lebanese in the diaspora come here, they see an opportunity to reconnect with their roots, but no reason to get involved in a meaningful economic sense. If Lebanon can find a way to make billions of dollars off the dabke traditional dance, it might lead to something, but when it comes to benefiting from the diaspora’s wealthy “Lebanese,” there is little hope of progress any time soon.

Israel can’t really conquer Damascus in hours
Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat
When Israeli Prime Minister left the Mossad facility in Tel Aviv after he spent half a day there listening to analysis of the situation in the region, the people accompanying him spoke to the media about their impressions that the Syrian arena is in a state of collapse. They emphasized that they hold this position because many of the Assad regime’s soldiers had fled and are in a very bad situation. They said that if Israel wanted to occupy Damascus now it would only need a few hours; before the revolution, they had estimated that it would take them several days.
I believe that it will not be that easy to occupy the Syrian capital. It’s not that Damascus was weaker under the rule of Bashar Al-Assad or his father, or that it is still as strong as before, but it will be very difficult for anyone to enter Damascus because the occupation of the Syrian capital today is more costly than ever. Before, there was an established order that had handled the ties between Tel Aviv, Damascus and their neighbors, such as Lebanon.
The regime that had managed the ties between Israel, Syria and Hezbollah is gradually breaking down; the situation has become more dangerous now than it ever was over the past four decades, contrary to what the Israelis are saying. It’s not the rebel forces or the Syrian regime’s militia allies that will impede Israeli tanks from occupying Damascus; rather, it is the chaos that would make the Israelis think long and hard before they get bogged down in the Syrian situation. Israel will certainly not be venturing into sending its troops to cross the borders of the Golan Heights to the east.
I visited the Syrian front more than a decade ago and I saw the buffer zone separating Syria from Israel, monitored by international forces. There was safe and unhindered access from and to the Syrian capital, Damascus. At the beginning of Bashar Al-Assad’s reign, he was suggesting that he intended to take part in a peace plan to end the conflict. The road leading to the Golan Heights was constructed and resurfaced, and a traffic light system was installed. There were no military installations all along the road when we drove along it.
The road has never actually undergone a military test by the Israelis, because both of the Assad regimes (that of the father and of the son) have never dared to provoke Israel, which in turn did not demonstrate its powers during the conflicts that have erupted. Lebanon was the arena where Syria and Israel agreed to settle their scores, because it was best for both Assad’s regime and Israel.
The relations Israel and the Syrian government shared were proven to be successful for a long time, except for the short period during which the 1973 war broke out, which did not change much in the balance of power. Assad’s operations have never crossed the borders of the Golan Heights; he extended his influence over Lebanon and protected Israel in Lebanon and Syria to prevent more than 700,000 Palestinian refugees from becoming a security problem. Israel’s problem will worsen with the fall of Assad’s regime, because it will lose the “allied-enemy power” in Syria and will not be able to rely on Hezbollah to control the situation in Lebanon. In the absence of Bashar Al-Assad, the party will be weak, besieged and will surely be in conflict with the rest of the Lebanese militias. Moreover, there is no central authority for the army in Lebanon that can replace Assad’s forces and Hezbollah.
Despite the inevitability of Assad’s collapse and the post-Assad vacuum, we cannot anticipate the events in this troubled region in the coming few years. What is certain is that the establishment of a security structure handling this geographic triangle and working as a balance to control the fabricated conflicts and inconsistent alliances like Assad used to do seems far-fetched.
The conflict between Iran and Syria against Israel was real, but the actual reason behind it was not just the Palestinian cause, but a series of other issues. Most notable of these is the struggle for influence on the regional and strategic security levels, in addition to Iran’s desire to impose itself as a dominant force through using Hezbollah, Syria and Hamas, and through the development of its nuclear power. Iran has used the Palestinian cause and its apparatuses to reach what we are witnessing today: recognizing Iran as an influential regional power.
Therefore, if Iran signs a permanent nuclear deal in Geneva, we won’t be witnessing a firm Iranian stance against Israel anymore. As a result, the Iranians might also abandon Hamas and Hezbollah later on.
It is impossible to predict what will happen afterwards and who will fill the void, but one thing is sure: Israel will not be able to rest peacefully as long as it refuses the peaceful resolution to establish an independent Palestinian state in the occupied territories. The nuclear deal with Iran will not change much in a case involving 5 million refugees and a land occupied by force.

Ya'alon embraces Druze community after incident of discrimination against IDF Druze soldiers

By JPOST.COM STAFF LAST UPDATED: 11/29/2013/3 Druze soldiers reportedly were delayed entry to Dimona nuclear site while Jewish fellow soldiers waved in. Druze soldiers of the IDF’s Herev Battalion in training Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon expressed outrage at the incident reported in Israeli media that three Druze IDF soldiers were delayed entry to the Dimona nuclear reactor while there Jewish fellow soldiers were admitted. "The incident is serious and outrageous and it absolutely contradicts all our policies. It is difficult to stand by and watch such discrimination but this incident will not damage the ties between the State of Israel and the Druze," Ya'alon said. "The Druze community are at the heart of the IDF and its contribution is impressive and illustrious," he added. The Druze officer and two druze soldiers were forced to wait outside the gates of the site while the remaining soldiers were inside. The incident was revealed on Friday by the Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot but it took place a number of weeks ago. After half an hour the soldiers were permitted entry to the highly secure site. The group of air force soldiers was at the reactor for a training exercise. A father of one of the druze soldiers expressed his anger on Army Radio on Friday. "This is a humiliation. Everyone arrived and suddenly the Druze soldiers are told you cannot come in," he said. Following the report, the IDF spokesperson said that the incident would be investigated. A spokesperson for the nuclear reactor said that entry to the site is contingent on security check and the soldiers in this case were allowed in following this procedure, Army Radio reported. Former Druze MK Majalli Wahabi told Army Radio that he was convinced that the incident reflected severe discrimination. "It is inconceivable that there are organizations that do not fully trust the Druze, a group that has been an integral part of the state from the War of Independence until today," he said.