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Bible Quotation for today/A
01 Peter 01/03-12: " Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Because of his great mercy he gave us new life by raising Jesus Christ from death. This fills us with a living hope, and so we look forward to possessing the rich blessings that God keeps for his people. He keeps them for you in heaven, where they cannot decay or spoil or fade away. They are for you, who through faith are kept safe by God's power for the salvation which is ready to be revealed at the end of time. Be glad about this, even though it may now be necessary for you to be sad for a while because of the many kinds of trials you suffer. Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine. Even gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire; and so your faith, which is much more precious than gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure. Then you will receive praise and glory and honor on the Day when Jesus Christ is revealed. You love him, although you have not seen him, and you believe in him, although you do not now see him. So you rejoice with a great and glorious joy which words cannot express, because you are receiving the salvation of your souls, which is the purpose of your faith in him.
It was concerning this salvation that the prophets made careful search and investigation, and they prophesied about this gift which God would give you. They tried to find out when the time would be and how it would come. This was the time to which Christ's Spirit in them was pointing, in predicting the sufferings that Christ would have to endure and the glory that would follow. God revealed to these prophets that their work was not for their own benefit, but for yours, as they spoke about those things which you have now heard from the messengers who announced the Good News by the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. These are things which even the angels would like to understand.
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For December 02/13
DEBKAfile/Pakistan’s new army chief: Nuclear ties with Saudis, US exit from Afghanistan, Riyadh’s anti-Iran drive/December 02/13
News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For December 02/13
Lebanese Related News
Tripoli death toll rises to 12 as clashes persist
Berri meets Siniora for ‘ongoing communication’
Al-Rahi: It is Unfortunate that Conditions are Ripe for Clashes to Erupt in Tripoli
Army Arrests Individual Suspected of Opening Fire at Soldiers in Tripoli
Masked Gunman Kills Fatah Member, Wounds Two in Ain el-Hilweh
Amin Gemayel Meets Roknabadi over Dinner, Asks Iran to Contribute to Peace in Lebanon, Region
Rifi Urges Miqati to 'Stop the Crime' in Tripoli or Leave
Miscellaneous Reports And News
Iran says seeks better cooperation with Saudi Arabia
Report: Netanyahu orders Mossad to find proof Iran violating nuclear accord
Rouhani: Iran to start building 2nd nuclear plant in Bushehr
Iran, powers to meet next week on executing nuke deal
Netanyahu Heads to Rome for First Talks with Pope
Netanyahu: I will not 'shut up' when Israel's interests are at stake
50 killed in airstrikes on Syria's Al-Bab: Activists
China launches its first moon rover
Islamist: Egypt on precipice as constitution shapes up
Press Body Accuses Israeli Army of Targeting Journalists
Report: Israel to Join U.N. Rights Council
HRW Urges Saudi to Probe Violence in Illegals Crackdown
4 Dead, 67 Hurt as New York Train Derails
Masked Gunman Kills Fatah Member,
Wounds Two in Ain el-Hilweh
Naharnet Newsdesk 01 December 2013/A member of the Islamist Jund al-Sham group on Sunday opened fire at members of the Fatah Movement at the Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon, killing one person and wounding two others. “A masked gunman opened fire on Mohammed Abdul Qaderi Abdul Hamid, Hammoud al-Rami, aka al-Saadi, and Abdul Hamid al-Youssef,” state-run National News Agency reported.
Abdul Hamid succumbed to his wounds at hospital after he was hit by a bullet in his head, NNA said. Al-Youssef and al-Saadi were wounded in the incident and rushed to another hospital. Meanwhile, OTV identified the shooters as “two members of Jund al-Sham” as al-Jadeed television said al-Saadi was a Fatah member. The perpetrators fled to an unknown destination as tensions surged in the camp, according to media reports. The incident comes several days after an armed clash between Fatah and Jund al-Sham at the camp.
Army Arrests Individual Suspected of
Opening Fire at Soldiers in Tripoli
Naharnet Newsdesk 01 December 2013/The army carried out on Sunday a raid in the inner markets of the northern city of Tripoli where it arrested a number of suspects, reported the National News Agency. It raided the store of Hatem al-Janzarli, who is suspected of opening fire at the army. Voice of Lebanon (93.3) said that Janzarli was later arrested along with other suspects who were in his store. They were identified as A.al-Ghoul, A.al-Niz, M.Ouloulou, and M.al-Homsi. The reasons for their arrests have not been disclosed. VDL later reported that roads in the Bab al-Hadeed neighborhood in Tripoli have been blocked by locals in protest against Janzarli's arrest. Tripoli has been rocked with the latest round of clashes between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen. The Army Command later issued a statement on Sunday explaining that units had raided a number of areas occupied by Tripoli gunmen and snipers. It arrested eight gunmen and confiscated a number of light weapons and ammunition, including a siper rifle and military equipment. Earlier on Sunday, State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr issued warrants against a number of suspects linked to the latest round of clashes. The fighting erupted on Saturday, leaving nine dead and over 40 wounded. Fighting linked to conflict in Syria frequently erupts between the rival neighborhoods, with residents of Bab al-Tabbaneh supporting Syrian rebels and residents of Jabal Mohsen backing the Syrian regime.
Rifi Urges Miqati to 'Stop the Crime'
in Tripoli or Leave
Naharnet Newsdesk 01 December 2013/Former Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi on Sunday called on caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati to “raise the voice” to stop the deadly clashes in Tripoli or leave his post.“We had previously warned the state's political and security officials over the dangerous situation that might arise from leaving things in Tripoli to the chaos of the weapons that were planted by the Syrian regime and its allies in the city,” Rifi said in a statement. He accused Miqati of carrying on with the policy of “burying his head in the sand of this conspiracy, which is being implemented in cold blood and which has led to the death of hundreds of innocents, not to mention the wounded and the economic damage.”“What are you waiting for, Mr. Prime Minister?” Rifi added, urging Miqati to go to Tripoli, “raise the voice and take the decision to stop this crime, or else Tripoli will not accept less than your departure, you and all the negligent security and political officials.”The ex-ISF chief also condemned what he described as “the suspicious conduct of some security officials who are standing idly by in the face of the assault on Tripoli.” “We will not stop following up on the case of the blasts that hit the al-Salam and al-Taqwa mosques. Our demand is justice and the bringing of the assailants and perpetrators to court to hold them accountable,” Rifi said. “With the same insistence, we categorically reject the practices of shooting innocents in the legs,” Rifi added, referring to the recent attacks against Jabal Mohsen residents in central Tripoli. Deadly clashes between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen renewed on Sunday, leaving several people dead and dozens others wounded, after nine people were killed and at least 40 others were wounded overnight, including soldiers.
Tripoli death toll rises to 12 as clashes persist
By Antoine Amrieh/The Daily Star
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Fighting in Tripoli between supporters and opponents of Syria’s Assad regime raged Saturday night and carried on Sunday as the death toll reached twelve with dozens more wounded.
Some of the wounded from the Saturday-Sunday overnight fighting died Sunday. They were identified as Mahmoud al-Mohammad, a Syrian national who died from his wounds after being hit by sniper gunfire at the Malloulah roundabout and Ali Mahmoud Al-Ahmad, in addition to Mahmoud Hussein, who died of a heart attack while fleeing sniper gunfire in the Zahereyah area. A soldier identified as Abdullah Ajaj also died from his wounds after being hit by sniper fire while passing near the fighting area. An additional two people were killed Sunday as a result of the fighting, security sources told The Daily Star. One of the shells targeted a center for the army in Bab al-Tabbaneh Sunday wounding a man identified as Abu Hasan Al-Jundi who later died from his wounds. Over 49 people, including 12 soldiers and policemen, were wounded in the fighting.
Army units conducted raids in Tripoli overnight, arrested 8 militants and confiscated their light weapons and ammunitions, a statement from the military said Sunday.
The detainees were handed in to the relevant authorities, the statement said. Heavy shelling has overwhelmed the city starting Saturday 10:30 p.m. and continued for hours reaching areas that are usually not affected by the fighting, such as Azmi Street and the Maarad road. Fighting eased early Sunday morning but was resumed at around 9:00 a.m. in light of continued threats between the rival fighters.
Sniper activity at all fronts was reported on Sunday morning, including the international highway that links Tripoli to the northern region of Akkar. The highway was blocked on Saturday and remained so on Sunday morning.
Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr issued Sunday a judicial order for security agencies to arrest violators in the northern city as well as fighters engaged in the battles.
Civil society activists gathered around noon outside the Grand Serail in Tripoli protesting against violence in their country and urging the state to shoulder its responsibilities and end the fighting in the northern city.
The so-called anti-Assad ‘axis leaders’ in the Sunni-majority Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood issued a statement threatening to target the Alawi-majority Jabal Mohsen residents until the head of the pro-Assad Arab Democratic Party, Ali Eid, was handed over to authorities. Eid was charged with aiding the smuggling of a suspect involved in the Aug. 23 Tripoli bombings across the border into Syria last month. He has failed to appear in court for questioning over his alleged role.The bombings that targeted two mosques in Tripoli killed dozens and wounded scores. Seven suspects were charged with involvement in the attacks. Two of the suspects are members of the ADP, which is based in Jabal Mohsen. “All Jabal Mohsen residents are a target until the criminals from the Eid family involved in Tripoli bombings are handed in to authorities,” the statement said.
It added that the ‘axis leaders’ would also target anyone who tries to help the Eid family. They also accused the ADP of triggering the battles “in order to cover up for their crime in the [mosques] and to fuel the situation in Tripoli.” On their part, fighters in Jabal Mohsen said in a statement that they will confront any attack against their neighborhood residents and would impose a blockade over Tripoli all the way to the Mina area.
“Starting Monday, the entire city of Tripoli will be a target for our military operations,” the statement said, adding that fighters would also target anyone from neighboring districts that attempts to get into Tripoli.
Mayssa Hakim, a resident from a neighborhood close to Trpoli’s Nour square, lamented the neglect the northern city is suffering from and said the city is deserted not only by local officials and politicians but also by the Lebanese society and residents in other areas. “In other areas, they go out and have fun while we are trapped under fire... even at the entrances of Tripoli, you feel like the city has become a deserted and isolated area,” she said.
Hakim said that a car was passing in the neighborhood she lives in and opened fire at the sides of the streets without any reason.
“This happened although the neighborhood I live in is relatively safe, the disaster is in neighborhoods where the fighting is inflamed,” she said. 10-year-old Rana Masri who lives in the Tall neighborhood, downtown Tripoli, said that she could hear shelling through the night. “I heard five or six [sounds of] bombs,” she said, adding that “I even imagine hearing [sounds of] bombs every now and then but my mother tells me most of them are in my head.”
Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said in comments published Sunday that the Lebanese state will strike with an “’iron fist’ in Tripoli [and work on] installing security [measures] and preventing the situation from deteriorating which innocent citizens pay the price [for],” Charbel told Al-Mustaqbal daily. Cardinal Beshara Rai condemned during his Sunday sermon the violence in Tripoli, warning that the unrest indicates Lebanon is exposed to security threats.Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora also called on the Lebanese state to disarm fighting parties in Tripoli and urged the implementation strict measures in the city. “The situation in Tripoli can no longer be addressed through circumstantial procedures; strict decisions need to be made[to end the fighting],” Siniora said. Fighters from Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh have engaged in 17 rounds of clashes since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad began in 2011.
Al-Rahi: It is Unfortunate that
Conditions are Ripe for Clashes to Erupt in Tripoli
Naharnet Newsdesk 01 December 2013/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi condemned on Sunday the eruption of clashes in the northern city of violence, saying that the latest round of unrest between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen exposes Lebanon on the security level. He said during his Sunday sermon: “It is unfortunate that the conditions in Lebanon are ripe for such clashes to happen.”He also lamented the fighters' resorting to sniper activity, warning that saboteurs who are not affiliated with either of the neighborhoods could be behind such actions. “The national qualities that make Lebanon and its society unique should be preserved,” demanded al-Rahi. Tripoli has been rocked with the latest round of clashes between Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen. The clashes erupted on Saturday, leaving nine dead and over 40 wounded.
Fighting linked to conflict in Syria frequently erupts between the rival neighborhoods, with residents of Bab al-Tabbaneh supporting Syrian rebels and residents of Jabal Mohsen backing the Syrian regime.
Berri meets Siniora for ‘ongoing communication’
December 01, 2013 /The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Head of the Future bloc MP Fouad Siniora held talks with Speaker Nabih Berri Sunday as part of the dialogue the two officials launched in September.A source close to Siniora said the meeting aimed at maintaining ongoing communication between the two officials. “It is a way to ease the political stalemate in the country,” the source said. Berri and Siniora discussed various files at the local and regional levels, the source said.
Amin Gemayel Meets Roknabadi over
Dinner, Asks Iran to Contribute to Peace in Lebanon, Region
Naharnet Newsdesk 01 December 2013/Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel and a party delegation attended a dinner banquet overnight Saturday at the house of Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi, following an invitation from Tehran's envoy, a joint statement said. According to a statement by the party and the embassy, the meeting was an opportunity for Gemayel to “reiterate his condolences over the victims of the suicide attack that targeted the Iranian embassy in Beirut and congratulate the state of Iran on the agreement reached over its nuclear program with the P5+1 world powers in Geneva.”Gemayel hoped the deal will launch “a new approach that can boost Iran's ties with the international community and reflect positively on its relations with its neighbors,” urging all parties to “deal objectively with this major development.”He also called on Iran to utilize the agreement to contribute to “security and peace in the Middle East region and Lebanon, given its historic role and special ties with a number of parties, especially in Lebanon.”For his part, Roknabadi thanked Gemayel for his stances and lauded “the Phalange Party's steady steps towards openness.”According to the statement, the talks also tackled the Syrian conflict, with both parties voicing support for “the choice of political and diplomatic solutions” and calling for holding the Geneva 2 peace conference as soon as possible. In this regard, Gemayel underlined “the Phalange Party's stance which supports neutralizing Lebanon in the ongoing conflicts and which is keen on stopping the destruction of Syria and on the safety of all the components of the Syrian people.” The Iranian ambassador stressed Tehran's “support for strengthening national unity in Lebanon and preserving the stability of the Lebanese state,” hoping a new cabinet will be formed soon “so that Lebanon can continue to play its pioneering role in the region and the world.”Gemayel lauded this stance, calling on countries that have influence on the situations in Lebanon to “join efforts to create an atmosphere of consensus that can curb the current tensions and contribute to the rise of Lebanon and its institutions.”At the end of the meeting, the two parties agreed on maintaining their contacts with the aim of “exploring any opportunity for cooperation and coordination,” according to the joint statement. The meeting comes after two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Iranian embassy in Bir Hassan on November 19, leaving 27 people dead and more than 150 others injured, with Iranian diplomats confirming that Roknabadi was preparing to leave the embassy only minutes before the attack.
Iran says seeks better cooperation with Saudi Arabia
December 01, 2013/Reuters/KUWAIT: Iran said on Sunday it wanted stronger cooperation with U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, as it seeks to ease concerns among Gulf Arab neighbors about a potential resurgence in its influence following a nuclear deal with world powers. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, on a tour of Gulf Arab states, said after talks in Kuwait that no date had been set for an expected visit to Sunni Muslim power Saudi Arabia, Shi'ite Iran's main regional rival. But he suggested the nuclear deal reached in Geneva on Nov. 24 should not be seen as a threat. "This agreement cannot be at the expense of any country in the region," Zarif, speaking through an interpreter, told reporters at a news conference after discussions with his Kuwaiti counterpart, Sheikh Sabah al-Hamad al-Sabah. Asked about reports he also planned to visit Riyadh, Zarif said no date had yet been set for such a visit. "We look at Saudi Arabia as an important and influential regional country and we are working to strengthen cooperation with it for the benefit of the region," Zarif said. He did not elaborate on how this might be done. U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states cautiously welcomed the nuclear accord reached last month, but some officials have demanded assurances that the deal would contribute to their security. The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are wary of Iranian influence in the Middle East, fearing the Shi'ite Muslim-led country is seeking regional dominance and stirring sectarian tensions. They worry Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at producing a nuclear weapon, a charge Tehran has constantly denied. UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed called for a partnership with Iran last week when he became the first Gulf Arab official to visit Tehran since the agreement was signed. Improving relations with regional countries is a central plank of Iran's diplomatic policy under its new president, Hassan Rouhani, and Zarif was due to travel to Oman, another member of the GCC, after Kuwait. Asked about three disputed Gulf islands held by Iran but claimed by the United Arab Emirates, Zarif said Tehran was ready to talk about one of the islands, Abu Musa. Rouhani and Zarif have stressed greater regional stability as a priority, arguably an attempt to blunt the opposition of Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, to Tehran's newly minted nuclear deal with world powers.
Rouhani: Iran to start building 2nd
nuclear plant in Bushehr
By JPOST.COM STAFF/12/01/2013/Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said construction will soon start construction on a second nuclear power plant in the country's southwest Bushehr province, Iranian Tasnim news agency reported. “The first nuclear power plant is in operation in Bushehr province, and the construction of the second one will soon kick off ; development of new atomic power plants in the country will start in earnest and there will be nuclear reactors in most parts of Bushehr province,” Tasnim quoted him as sayingIn reference to the recently-signed deal in Geneva with world powers on the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear program, Rouhani said the airs in the international arena were less tense. However, the Iranian president stressed that "our enemies and rivals will not give up their hostility and rivalry." Under the Nov. 24 interim accord, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief. The agreement - reached after more than four days of negotiations between Iran and the United States, France, Russia, China, Britain and Germany - was designed to buy time for negotiations on a final settlement of the decade-old nuclear dispute. Amid the third round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers in November, senior Iranian nuclear officials spoke of plans in Tehran to construct two new nuclear power plants in the near future, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported. “The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has put construction of the second and third (nuclear) power stations on its agenda due to the government’s programs and the emphasis laid by the President (Hassan Rouhani),” Fars quoted AEOI Deputy Chief Hossein Khalfi as saying. The Bushehr site is located in a highly seismic area on Iran's Gulf coast and began operations in 2011 after decades of delays. The site is capable of holding six power reactors and Tehran has identified 16 sites elsewhere in the country suitable for other atomic plants.
The Russian-built plant is estimated to cost some $11 billion over four decades, making it one of the world's most expensive plants. Reuters contributed to this report.
Netanyahu: I will not 'shut up' when Israel's interests are at stake
By JPOST.COM STAFF
LAST UPDATED: 12/01/2013/PM responds to criticism on his approach to Iran deal; Olmert: Netanyahu has "declared war" on US by slamming ally's role in brokering interim accord; says Israel should urge US to lead efforts on preventing nuclear Iran.Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stressed Sunday that he would not diverge from his warnings against Iran's disputed nuclear ambitions.
In a trade of barbs with former prime minister Ehud Olmert over Netanyahu's criticism of the United States in light of the Iran issue, the premier, said in Rome, "Unlike others, when I see that the vital security interests of Israeli citizens are at stake, I will not shut up".Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stressed Sunday that he would not diverge from his warnings against Iran's disputed nuclear ambitions.
In a trade of barbs with former prime minister Ehud Olmert over Netanyahu's criticism of the United States in light of the Iran issue, the premier, said in Rome, "Unlike others, when I see that the vital security interests of Israeli citizens are at stake, I will not shut up". However, Netanyahu highlighted Israel's relations with the US. "We always remember that the US has been, remains and always will be Israel's greatest friend". "It is very easy to keep quiet, it is easy to receive pats on the back from the international community, to bow down, but I am committed to the security of my people," he stated. "I am committed to the future of my country, and in contrast to past times, we have a loud and clear voice among the nations and we will make it heard in order to warn - in time - against dangers".
Earlier Sunday, Olmert lashed out at Netanyhau, accusing him of publicly attacking the US, and in particular President Barack Obama, over the American role in reaching an interim nuclear deal in Geneva last Sunday. Olmert compared Netanyahu's criticism of the US to a declaration of war, and he suggested a different approach to Israel's diplomatic role in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
"We have declared war on the US. That cannot be disputed," he said, adding that Israel needs to be kept from anything that might be interpreted as a "fight" with its closest ally.
Olmert was speaking at an Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv.
Olmert affirmed that a nuclear Iran was a threat to Israel but he said that Israel's role was not to not lead the struggle against the Islamic Republic's suspected nuclear weapons program.
Instead, Olmert stressed that Israel needs to make sure that the US is the nation that leads the struggle against Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.
Last month US President Barack Obama reportedly asked Netanyahu to "take a breather" from his vocal criticism of the interim deal signed in Geneva, The Washington Post reported.
Pakistan’s new army chief: Nuclear ties with Saudis, US exit from Afghanistan, Riyadh’s anti-Iran drive
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis December 1, 2013,/Gen. Raheel
Sharif, 57, who comes from a distinguished Punjabi military family, started work
as new chief of Pakistan’s armed forces chief this weekend with three formidable
tasks on his plate, spin-offs from fast-moving events involving the United
States, Iran and Israel. He will have to adapt his military policy to next
year’s US military evacuation from neighboring Afghanistan leaving a dangerous
void. Pakistan has been inextricably bound up in the 12-year US-led war in
Afghanistan against al Qaeda and its ally Taliban, both of which used Pakistan’s
lawless tribal territories as rear bases for their war on coalition forces.
The Obama administration is trying at all costs to prevent the Taliban from seizing the government in Kabul after President Hamid Karzai’s retirement. Its strategy, so far without much luck, is to enlist Iran to help in this objective which, however, is diametrically opposed to that of Pakistan Prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Sharif is anxious to be rid of Taliban, whose expanding terrorist operations are threatening his government’s stability, and wants to push them over into Afghanistan. In particular, he would like to clear them out of the northern and western border districts, where Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri has set up his central command. To achieve this goal, the Pakistani government must reach terms with Taliban leaders for their cooperation. The new armed forces’ chief’s second mission is to complete the transfer to Saudi Arabia of the nuclear weapons plus ballistic missiles Riyadh purchased and which Pakistan held in reserve under a secret defense pact the two governments signed in 2004. This transfer may have already started. It makes Islamabad a major contributor to the evolving Middle East nuclear arms race boosted by the six-power nuclear deal which recognizes Iran’s “nuclear rights.” It also means that Pakistan has ranged itself on the side of the Sunni Arab camp against Shiite Iran, by lending a Sunni power a nuclear capability versus a nuclear-armed Shiite Iran recognized by the six world powers.
Gen. Sharif will be fully backed in this task by his prime minister, an old ally of the Saudi royal house. These critical moves have not been lost on Iran or India. Friday, Nov. 29, New Delhi announced a team of planners and engineers would soon be leaving for Tehran to accelerate the construction of the southern Iranian port of Chabahar near the Pakistani and Afghan borders, India’s most important naval base in the Arabian Ocean, which will also offer landlocked Afghanistan its first outlet to the sea. This outlet is important enough to grant India and Iran a strong foothold in the Afghan capital after the American exit, even if Taliban seizes power. New Delhi sees Chabahar port as a counterweight for the big naval base China is building at Gwadar on the Arabian Ocean to share with Pakistan.
Taking shape therefore is the first tectonic strategic-political-military movement set off in a key world region by the six-power first-step nuclear deal with Iran. It finds Beijing pulling away from its alliance with Tehran and aligning more firmly with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to counteract rising US-Iranian influence in Kabul. India is stepping into Chinese shoes in Tehran, cheered on by Washington, and distancing itself from Israel, its foremost supplier of advanced weapons. Indian-Israeli military and intelligence ties have been receding in the last two years. The change of military chiefs in Islamabad is also relevant to the covert war waged by Saudi intelligence against the Iranian regime in recent weeks. The Saudis are using Pakistani Baluchistan as their base for subversive operations against the central regime in Tehran. According to Iran and some Western clandestine agencies, Israeli intelligence is assisting this Saudi-Baluchi campaign. Gen. Sharif will have to decide whether to allow it to go on and how much leeway he is willing to grant Saudi undercover agencies. The outgoing chief of staff, the charismatic Gen. Pervez Kayani, managed during his six-year term to keep Pakistan’s armed forces for the first time clear of Pakistan’s endemic political wars, the bane of this nation of 180 million. But he also worked under a cloud as a suspected sympathizer of Pakistani terrorist organizations, which operated against India. The military Inter-Service Intelligence agency (ISI) has long been suspected of secretly supporting one of Al Qaeda’s foremost operational arms, Lashkar-e-Taiba, which conducted terrorist operations against American and Israeli targets, the most horrendous of which was the coordinated assault on 12 targets in the India city of Mumbai in Nov. 2008, which left 166 dead and hundreds maimed. Intelligence experts in the West maintain that the Mumbai outrage, one of Al Qaeda’s first serial attacks, could not have gone forward without Gen. Kayani noticing its preparations. Washington chose to take Kayani at his word when he said the ISI was an independent entity and not under his military command, because his cooperation was needed for the counter-terror operation against Al Qaeda concentrations in the Pakistan tribal areas along the Afghan border. Many eyes are watching to see whether or not the new chief of staff will continue his predecessor’s policy of tacitly approving the clandestine relations between military intelligence and Islamist terrorist movements.
Netanyahu Heads to Rome for First Talks with Pope
Naharnet Newsdesk 01 December 2013/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left for Rome on Sunday for a two-day official visit during which he will meet Pope Francis for the first time. The Israeli leader took off around midday accompanied by six of his ministers, including his newly reappointed Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, public radio said. During the visit, Netanyahu is also due to meet his Italian counterpart Enrico Letta, and will hold a joint session with the Italian cabinet, it said. On Monday, he will be granted his first audience with Pope Francis, who took over as the worldwide head of the Catholic Church in March. Six weeks ago, Netanyahu's office had said he would meet the pope during a visit to Rome in late October, but the meeting never happened -- with a diplomatic source telling AFP it would not happen because it had not been coordinated in advance with the Vatican. When the two meet on Monday, they are likely to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue and the ongoing peace talks with the Palestinians. And they are also expected to discuss the pope's planned visit to the Holy Land early next year. Pope Francis has already been invited to visit the Christian holy sites by Israeli President Shimon Peres in April, and by Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, who met him on October 17.
Israeli sources say the visit could take place before Peres ends his term as president in July. Although no date has been made official, sources on both sides say it is likely to take place on May 25-26.
The papal visit will reportedly begin in Jordan, a senior Vatican official said on Saturday, according to Jordanian state news agency Petra. "The pope's visit to the Holy Land will begin in Jordan," Vatican foreign affairs official Dominique Mamberti said in Amman after meeting Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. Israel and the Vatican first established full diplomatic relations in 1993, but have been engaged in years of thorny diplomatic negotiations over property rights and tax exemptions for the Catholic Church, which have yet to be fully resolved. The Holy See wants full recognition of the legal and patrimonial rights of Catholic communities in Israel and formal confirmation of tax exemptions enjoyed by the Church since the Jewish state's emergence in 1948 and which the U.N. has asked Israel to honor. One of the most delicate questions involves access by Catholic worshipers to a site on Mount Zion in Jerusalem called the Cenacle, where Christians believe Jesus held the Last Supper the night before he was crucified. In June, the sides agreed to step up negotiations over the outstanding issues.
Source/Agence France Presse.