December 08/2013


Bible Quotation for today/Slaves of God
01 Peter 02/13-17: " I appeal to you, my friends, as strangers and refugees in this world! Do not give in to bodily passions, which are always at war against the soul.  Your conduct among the heathen should be so good that when they accuse you of being evildoers, they will have to recognize your good deeds and so praise God on the Day of his coming. For the sake of the Lord submit yourselves to every human authority: to the Emperor, who is the supreme authority, 14 and to the governors, who have been appointed by him to punish the evildoers and to praise those who do good. 15 For God wants you to silence the ignorant talk of foolish people by the good things you do. 16 Live as free people; do not, however, use your freedom to cover up any evil, but live as God's slaves.  Respect everyone, love other believers, honor God, and respect the Emperor

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For December 08/13

A fresh approach to looking at foreign threats/By:  David Ignatius/Washington Post/December 08/13


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For December 08/13
Lebanese Related News

Suleiman Rejects Foreign Interference, Says Illegal Arms 'Tool of Destabilization'

Sleiman to MPs: Ensure quorum for 2014 election

Lebanon Mourns Mandela, Flags to Fly at Half-Mast on Tuesday
Ibrahim to Head to Qatar to Address Case of Kidnapped Maalula Nuns
Zasypkin: Why Should We Ask Hizbullah Fighters to Withdraw from Syria and Not Others?

Four Men Allegedly Involved in Murder of Former Ambassador Arrested

MP Kanaan Refers New Wages Report to Parliament's General Secretariat

Miqati Pushes for Cabinet Session to Tackle 'Piling Issues'

Wahhab: Syrian Warplanes to Bomb Armed Groups if They Attack Jabal Mohsen

Maalula Nuns Appear in Video, Say They're Fine, Will 'Leave in 2 Days

Lebanon to seek Qatar help over nuns seized in Syria

Berri warns of power vacuum

Security Forces Cordon Off Sidon Neighborhood after Suspicious Box Found near Saniora's House

Rifi Voices Support for Army's Tripoli Measures, Says No Stability without Justice

Conflicting Reports over Reasons Behind Fire in Tripoli Shop

HIC Row Ongoing as Qabbani, Mesqawi Hold Separate Meetings

Miscellaneous Reports And News

Israel faces two existential threats, Kerry warns

Iran forging ahead with uranium enrichment technology

U.S. commitment to Mideast security enduring: Hagel

U.S: Iran Diplomacy Must be Backed by Military Power

U.S. Congress May Throw Wrench into Iran Nuclear Deal 07 December 2013, 09:21

IAEA Inspectors in Iran for Heavy Water Plant

Rouhani: Tolerance Can Resolve Iran Political Prisoner Issue

Iranian students chant for release of political prisoners during Rouhani speech
Egypt Courts Order 21 Women, Girl Protesters Freed

Iran Says Afghan President to Visit Sunday

U.S. War Veteran Released from N.Korea as Biden Visits DMZ

Bomb Explodes near Israel Patrol in Golan; No Casualties

Islamists seize Free Syrian Army arms depots: watchdog

Syrian army fights rebels along key highway

Report: Germany to sell Israel 2 destroyers for 1 billion euros

Liberman: Kerry won't achieve deal in current peace talks, must temper expectations

South Africa prepares funeral for the ages for Mandela


Sleiman to MPs: Ensure quorum for 2014 election

December 07, 2013/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman urged lawmakers Saturday to secure the necessary quorum for holding the upcoming presidential election, warning against a political vacuum in the country’s top post. “As the date of the presidential election nears, I call on political leaderships and MPs to meet their responsibilities ... by securing the necessary quorum during the Parliament session to elect the next president in order to avoid making a mistake and a presidential vacuum,” Sleiman said at Baabda Palace. The president, whose term ends in May 2004, warned that history had shown that “a vacuum opens the door to the infiltration of security, political and constitutional chaos.” Sleiman, who was vowed to challenge any attempt to extend his mandate, also said he was keen on abiding by the Constitution as a guarantee “not to fall into the temptation of extension or trap of a vacuum in the country’s institutions,” particularly the post of president.  His speech came during a ceremony to unveil the busts of Lebanese presidents since the end of France’s mandate of Lebanon in 1943. Twelve busts were unveiled in total. Sleiman also warned against allowing religious and sectarian identities to gain ground on ones necessary for keeping Lebanon free of conflict.
“The awakening of religious and sectarian identities that are now dominant at the expense of the Lebanese, Arab and national identities is a recipe for permanent civil wars,” he said.
“The illusion of ... cancelling borders for the sake of a global jihad, or a sectarian front, or getting involved in foreign conflicts ... destroys to ability to forge a unifying national identity and leads to the demise of the state and nation with it,” he said. The president has on several occasions urged Hezbollah to withdraw its fighters in Syria and stressed the need for adherence to the Baabda Declaration, a deal among political rivals to keep Lebanon distant from regional conflicts, particularly in its Arab neighbor. Hezbollah’s military engagement in Syria, acknowledged by the party’s leader in May, has been a controversial issue within the country and drawn criticism both locally and abroad. Lebanon has more and more felt the repercussions of the war in its neighbor since the uprising against President Bashar Assad in early 2011 began.
Sleiman reiterated Saturday Lebanon’s need to be safeguarded through a policy of “positive neutrality from [regional] axes or, to be more precise, [keeping Lebanon] neutral from conflicts translated either in siding with Arabs if they are in agreement or being neutral when they differ among themselves.” “This was embodied in the [National] Pact of 1943 which stressed the need to keep Lebanon distant from the logic of alliances,” he added.
Sleiman urged political rivals no to repeat the mistakes of history. “The more that the Lebanese deviated from neutrality and involved themselves in the games of [regional] axes, the more the [National] Pact and [national] coexistence were exposed to being wiped out and the dormant volcanoes erupted,” he said, listing periods of tension and conflict throughout Lebanon’s short history. “Therefore, there should no pretext ... to legitimizing foreign interference or [engaging in] foreign projects,” he added. Sleiman also called for addressing the issue of weapons outside the state’s authority through the resumption of the stalled National Dialogue.

Ibrahim to Head to Qatar to Address Case of Kidnapped Maalula Nuns
Naharnet Newsdesk 07 December 2013/General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim is scheduled to travel to Qatar in order to tackle the case of the nuns who were kidnapped in Syria's Maalula region earlier this week, reported LBCI television. He told the station that he was tasked by President Michel Suleiman to address the case in the Arab Gulf state. LBCI added that he had contacted al-Jazeera television earlier on Saturday to inquire about the source of the videotape of the nuns it had aired on Friday. Jihadists and opposition fighters on Monday entered the Syrian Christian town of Maalula and took 12 Lebanese and Syrian Greek Orthodox nuns from the Mar Takla Monastery to the Yabrud area in Qalamoun, near Damascus. The Vatican slammed the move as an “abduction.” The 12 nuns join two bishops and a priest who are already believed to be held by hardline rebels, deepening concerns that extremists in the opposition's ranks are targeting Christians. A group of the abducted nuns reportedly appeared Friday in a video broadcast by Al-Jazeera, in which they reassured that they are in good health and would be released “in two days.”


Lebanon Mourns Mandela, Flags to Fly at Half-Mast on Tuesday
Naharnet Newsdesk 07 December 2013/Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati declared on Saturday a day of mourning over the death of former South African president Nelson Mandela. According to a memo issued by the premier's office, flags will fly at half-mast on Tuesday during the memorial service that will be held in the Soweto sports stadium in South Africa. On Tuesday around 80,000 people are expected to attend a memorial service in the Soweto sports stadium that hosted the final of the 2010 World Cup. President Michel Suleiman also tasked Miqati with representing him at the funeral of the modern South Africa's founding father, who died late Thursday aged 95, surrounded by friends and family.  Suleiman considered on Friday that Mandela “inspired the world with his life as an activist to end racism, fight poverty and achieving equality between human beings.”
Miqati also offered his condolences to the current President of South Africa Jacob Zuma in a cable. Memorial events begin Sunday with South Africans invited to go to churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship, to pay their respects. Mandela's body will lie in state for three days from Wednesday, ahead of his eventual burial on December 15 in his boyhood hometown of Qunu. The government announced Saturday that his coffin would be taken in a cortege through the streets of Pretoria each morning, giving the millions of South Africans still coming to terms with the death of their first black leader an opportunity to say a final farewell. Large numbers of mourners, carrying candles, flowers and messages of respect have turned up every day outside Mandela's residence in Johannesburg and in the once blacks-only township of Soweto.
Mandela spent 27 years in apartheid prisons before being elected president in 1994 and unifying his country with a message of reconciliation after the end of white minority rule. He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with South Africa's last white president, F.W. de Klerk, in 1993. Mandela had waged a long battle against a recurring lung infection and had been receiving treatment at home since September following a lengthy hospital stay.

Zasypkin: Why Should We Ask Hizbullah Fighters to Withdraw from Syria and Not Others?
Naharnet Newsdesk 07 December 2013/Russian ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin stressed that since the eruption of the conflict in Syria, Moscow had supported Lebanon's policy of disassociation, reported As Safir newspaper on Saturday. He asked: “Why should we ask Hizbullah to withdraw its fighters from Syria when two years ago our calls on armed groups from northern Lebanon to withdraw was left unheeded?”
“Moscow backed the policy of disassociation at a time when armed groups from northern Lebanon were involved in the conflict,” he remarked. “Russia backed the United Nations' Security Council's support for the Baabda Declaration,” he added. Moreover, Zasypkin said that Hizbullah got involved in Syria after the armed groups' intervention, noting: “We supported the policy of disassociation in order to avert any escalation in Lebanon.”
“We are continuing on demanding that the Baabda Declaration be implemented and respected by all powers,” he stated. “A real war is taking place in Syria and we want stability in Lebanon,” stressed the ambassador.
In addition, he warned that the arrival of extremists to power in Syria “is the most dangerous development that may happen to Lebanon.” “Their assumption of any position will mark the beginning of their expansion in all directions, because extremists seek to expand their power,” he explained. Addressing the turbulent security situation in Lebanon, Zasypkin said: “We are aware that terrorist attacks are happening in Lebanon from time to time and we cannot explain them.”“We believe however that some Lebanese authorities, with the support of the international community, can overcome these problems,” he continued. “We combat terrorism wherever it may be and we combat all who support terrorists,” stressed the ambassador to As Safir. Unanimously adopted during a national dialogue session in June 2012, the Baabda Declaration calls for keeping Lebanon away from the conflict in Syria. Some Lebanese groups, including Hizbullah and Islamists from northern Lebanon, have been involved in the unrest. The Islamists back the Syrian rebels, while Hizbullah supports the Syrian regime.
Last year, at least 14 Salafists, who mostly hail from northern Lebanon, were killed on November 30, 2012 in an ambush carried out by Syrian regime forces as they infiltrated the town of Tall Kalakh to fight alongside the Free Syrian Army. President Michel Suleiman has repeatedly urged all Lebanese factions to avoid fighting in Syria and adhere to the Baabda Declaration in order to avoid the spread of the conflict to Lebanon.
Hizbullah has justified its fighting Syria by saying that it is protecting holy religious sites and takfiri extremists in the country.


U.S: Iran Diplomacy Must be Backed by Military Power
Naharnet Newsdesk 07 December 2013/ Diplomacy with Iran must be backed up by U.S. military might, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel said Saturday in a speech addressed to Gulf allies anxious over a nuclear deal with Tehran. Hagel promised the United States would maintain a 35,000-strong force in the Gulf region, as well as an armada of ships and warplanes, despite the recent deal with Tehran. Speaking at a security conference in Bahrain, he said the interim deal with Iran to roll back its nuclear program was a risk worth taking but that Western diplomacy should not be "misinterpreted." "We know diplomacy cannot operate in a vacuum," he said. "Our success will continue to hinge on America's military power, and the credibility of our assurances to our allies and partners in the Middle East." The Pentagon "will not make any adjustments to its forces in the region -- or to its military planning -- as a result of the interim agreement with Iran," he added. In a trip meant to reassure Gulf allies wary of America's diplomatic opening with Iran, Hagel enumerated an array of U.S. weaponry and resources deployed in the region. "We have a ground, air, and naval presence of more than 35,000 military personnel in and immediately around the Gulf," he said. The military footprint includes 10,000 U.S. Army troops with tanks and Apache helicopters, roughly 40 ships at sea including an aircraft carrier battle group, missile defense systems, radar, surveillance drones and warplanes that can strike at short notice, he said. "Coupled with our unique munitions, no target is beyond our reach," said Hagel, in an apparent reference to "bunker buster" bombs designed to penetrate deeply buried targets. He was speaking at an annual conference organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
U.S. not in 'retreat'
A senior U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters the speech sent a message of solidarity to Gulf allies while also conveying a warning to adversaries "that any sort of mythology of American retreat is just wrong-headed."Gulf allies, especially Saudi Arabia, are concerned over a November 24 interim accord between world powers and Iran that offers limited relief from Western sanctions in return for Tehran rolling back elements of its nuclear program. The nuclear deal has strained U.S. relations with the mostly Sunni Gulf Arab states that view Shiite Iran as a dangerous rival. The Iran accord topped the agenda in Hagel's talks with Gulf counterparts on Friday, which included a meeting with Saudi Arabia's new deputy defense minister, Prince Salman bin Sultan. In the discussion, Hagel stressed "the centrality of the defense partnership in maintaining the long-standing ties" between the United States and the Saudi kingdom, officials said. Washington's reluctance to intervene against Syrian President Bashar Assad, a staunch ally of Tehran, as well as budget pressures and a U.S. "rebalance" to Asia have added to the doubts among Gulf governments about America's staying power in the region. Hagel acknowledged "anxieties" in the Gulf were running high. "Questions have been raised about America's intentions, strategy, and commitment to the region," he said. But he promised the United States "will remain fully committed to the security of our allies and our partners in the region."
Although the Pentagon faced the prospect of steep budget cuts, Hagel suggested the big presence in the Middle East would remain a top priority and largely shielded from spending reductions.
In addition to keeping a robust U.S. force in place, Hagel vowed to bolster the military strength of Gulf states, urging regional cooperation on missile defense.
Hagel only briefly mentioned the popular unrest that has swept aside or challenged regimes across the Middle East. He renewed calls for a "democratic transition" in Egypt and argued for political "reforms" in the region to ensure long-term stability. But his overriding focus was on defense ties between Washington and the Gulf states, and he argued that the bonds were as strong as ever. As evidence, Hagel cited more than $75 billion worth of U.S. arms sales to Gulf countries since 2007.Source/Agence France Presse.

Question: "What should we learn from the life of Job?" The life of Job is proof that man usually has no idea what God is doing behind the scenes in the life of each believer. All humans ask the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" It is the age-old question, and one that is sometimes difficult to answer in human terms, but believers have an advantage because we know that God is always in control, and, no matter what happens, there are no coincidences—nothing happens by chance. Job was such a man; he knew that God was on the throne and in total control, though he had no way of knowing why so many terrible tragedies were occurring in his life.
Job never lost his faith in God, even under the most heartbreaking circumstances that tested him to his core. It’s hard to imagine losing everything we own in one day—property, possessions, and even children. Most men would sink into depression and even become suicidal after such a nightmare; however, Job never wavered in his understanding that God was still in control. Job’s three friends, on the other hand, instead of comforting him, gave him bad advice and even accused him of committing sins so grievous that God was punishing him by making his life miserable. Job knew God well enough to know that He did not work that way; in fact, he had such an intimate, personal relationship with Him that he was able to make the statement, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face” (Job 13:15).
There is another lesson in the book of Job, and that concerns the bond between husband and wife. Satan declared war on Job, trying to prove that he was only faithful to God because God had blessed him. God allowed Satan to test Job’s faith, but He stopped him at the point of taking Job’s life (Job 1:12). God declares that a husband and wife are “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24); therefore, because of this God-ordained bond, Satan was forbidden to take the life of Job’s wife, as well as that of Job. She obviously did not have faith like that of Job, because her response to the calamity was to tell Job to “curse God and die!" (Job 2:9). Her faith did not spare her, but her marriage bond with Job did. She was considered the same flesh as her husband, so Satan could not take her life, either.
Job’s plight, from the death of his children and loss of his property to the physical torment he endured, plus the unending harangue of his so-called friends, still never caused his faith to waver. He knew who his Messiah was, he knew that He was a living Savior, and he knew that someday He would physically stand on Planet Earth (Job 19:25). The spiritual depth of Job shows throughout his writings. He understood that man’s days are ordained (numbered), and they cannot be changed (Job 14:5). Job described the experience of salvation as one in which men, destined to eternity in “the pit,” are ransomed and redeemed by a gracious God who shines His light on them (Job 33:23-30). There are also many scientific and historical facts in the book of Job. He wrote that the earth is round long before it was proven to be so, referring to the “circuit of heaven” (Job 22:14). He spoke of dinosaurs, living not before man was created as secularists teach today, but living side-by-side with man, as stated in Job 40:15: "Now behold behemoth, which I made along with you; he eats grass like an ox” (KJV).
The book of Job gives us a glimpse behind the veil that separates earthly life from the heavenly. In the beginning of the book, we see that Satan and his fallen angels are still allowed free access to heaven, going in and out to the prescribed meetings that take place there. What is obvious from these accounts is that Satan is busy working his evil on Planet Earth, as recorded in Job 1:6-7. Also, this account shows how Satan is “the accuser of the brethren,” which corresponds to Revelation 12:10, and it shows his arrogance and pride, as written in Isaiah 14:13-14. It is amazing to see how Satan challenges God; he has no scruples about confronting the Most High God because he has no fear of Him. The account in Job clearly shows Satan as he truly is—haughty, pride-filled, and evil to the core.
Perhaps the greatest lesson we learn from the book of Job is that God does not have to answer to anyone for what He does or does not do. What we learn from Job’s experience is that we may never know the specific reason for suffering, but we must trust in our sovereign, holy, righteous God whose ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30). If God’s ways are “perfect,” then we can trust that whatever He does—and whatever He allows—is also perfect. This may not seem possible to us, but our minds are not God’s mind. It is true that we can’t expect to understand His mind perfectly, as He reminds us “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Nevertheless, our responsibility to God is to obey Him, to trust Him, and to submit to His will, whether we understand it or not. When we do, we will see more clearly the magnificence of our God and we will say, with Job, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5).
Recommended Resources: Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance by Charles Swindoll and Logos Bible Software.


A fresh approach to looking at foreign threats

By:  David Ignatius/Washington Post
The chairs of the House and Senate intelligence committees stated last weekend that the world was getting more unsafe. A few days later, the Pew Research Center reported that 52 percent of Americans think the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally,” the highest such total in the nearly 50-year history of that query. Taken together, these two items symbolize a serious emerging national problem.

The crackup ahead lies in the mismatch between the challenges facing America and the public’s willingness to support activist foreign policy to deal with them. Simply put: There is a splintering of the traditional consensus for global engagement at the very time that some big new problems are emerging.

The traditional American response to such puzzles has been to form a bipartisan commission. A model is the pathbreaking 2006 Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by James A. Baker III, a former secretary of state; and Rep. Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana. Giants serving with them included Sandra Day O’Connor, a retired Supreme Court justice; and Vernon Jordan, a banker, civil rights leader and counselor to presidents. For advice, they turned to such luminaries as Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, all brilliant former national security advisers.

All are part of the traditional foreign policy establishment that still commands the high ground intellectually but does not reflect the restless, frustrated mood of the American public. The old consensus is broken and needs to be reinvented and refreshed.
What should a modern-day commission be worrying about? Rep. Mike Rogers and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairs of the House and Senate intelligence committees, respectively, said last Sunday on CNN that the world is not safer today than a few years ago. They were referring to the resurgence of al-Qaeda in Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. These are not two-bit al-Qaeda franchises anymore; the State Department received an intelligence report recently that 5,500 foreign fighters are operating with al-Qaeda’s affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. How should the United States combat this threat? Sorry, no consensus on that.
Al-Qaeda is even putting down roots in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, according to Gen. Mohammed Farid el-Tohamy, the head of the Egyptian intelligence service. How can the United States help Egypt, its most important ally in the Arab world, defeat Islamic terrorism at the same time as it moves to restore civilian government and a measure of democracy? No consensus on that one, either.
And there’s the huge foreign-policy challenge of Iran’s nuclear program. President Obama has made a bold interim deal with Iran. But to complete the agreement, and ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is truly peaceful, Obama will need strong support from Congress and the public. Right now, it’s hard to imagine that he will get it. The public doesn’t want war, but it doesn’t seem to like entangling diplomacy much, either.
A modest proposal is that Obama should convene a younger group of American leaders: strategists, technologists, professors. It would be a learning exercise — to understand how the country should deal with the problems of the next 10 years without making the mistakes of the past 10. What has America learned from its struggles with Islamic extremism? What lessons do we take from our painful expeditionary wars? How can Americans too young to remember the Iranian revolution of 1979 engage that country, but also set clear limits on its behavior?
Happily, a new generation of thinkers could form the bipartisan group I’m imagining. If you don’t know their names yet, you should: Marc Lynch of George Washington University, known to his online fans as “Abu Aardvark”; David Kilcullen, one of the architects of counterinsurgency success in Iraq and author of “Out of the Mountains,” an iconoclastic new book on future urban conflicts; Michèle Flournoy, a clear-eyed former undersecretary of defense; and Jared Cohen and Alec Ross, two technological wizards who advised the State Department under Hillary Clinton and are now with Google and Johns Hopkins University, respectively. I’d add the administration’s own Salman Ahmed , Tony Blinken , Ben Rhodes , Wendy Sherman and Jake Sullivan .
What encourages me is that the same American public that wants the United States to mind its own business internationally also registers a two-thirds majority in favor of greater U.S. involvement in the global economy, according to the Pew poll. Young respondents were even more internationalist on this issue than their elders.
This is a connected generation that can address problems in new ways — but it needs to get started.