LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/
Romans 12/17-21: "If someone has
done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do
what everyone considers to be good. Do everything
possible on your part to live in peace with everybody.
Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God's
anger do it. For the scripture says, “I will take
revenge, I will pay back, says the Lord.” Instead,
as the scripture says: “If your enemies are hungry, feed
them; if they are thirsty, give them a drink; for by
doing this you will make them burn with shame.” Do
not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For December 24/13
STL: Political preening/The Daily Star/December 24/13
Is Iran Set to Lash Out at Saudi Arabia/By: David Schenker /CNN Global Public
Egypt's New Constitution: Bleak Prospects/By: Eric Trager/Washington Institute/December 24/13
The E.U. Needs Turkey/By:
Soner Cagaptay /New York Times/December 24/13
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For December 24/13
Lebanese Related News
STL Defense Office Appoints Lead Counsel for Hassan Merhi
Hezbollah ambush kills 32 Islamist fighters in e. Lebanon
Hezbollah denied STL access to southern suburbs
Salam Warns Factionalism Leading to State's Disintegration
Sleiman, Hezbollah’s Raad discuss Cabinet
Sleiman plans new-year talks on Cabinet formation
Suleiman to Make Important Revelations, Shrugs Off Accusations of Mandate Extension
Qahwaji Warns Army Ready to Respond to Any Aggression
Qahwaji Vows to Strike with Iron Fist, Says Army to Deal Firmly with Gunmen
Raad Repeats Nasrallah's 'Advice' to Suleiman: Don't Form a De Facto Govt
Jumblat: Souairi Clash Must Force Officials to Tackle Political Disputes and Form New Govt.
Security Forces Identify Nigerian Foreign Currency Forging Gang
Nigeria Gunmen Kidnap Lebanese National Hassan Zain
Arrest Warrants Issued for 12 Roumieh Guards over Drug Network
Saudi Arabia Urges Lebanese to Resolve Disputes, Doubts Near Rapprochement with Iran
Amin Gemayel Plays Down Nasrallah's 'Unacceptable Threat'
Berri Calls for Formation of Cabinet Based on 6-9-9 Formula, Rejects Other Lineups
Charbel honors airport employee for returning $10,000
Abu Hamzeh appealing Jumblatt lawsuits
Interim Iran deal has little impact on Lebanon
Miscellaneous Reports And News
Francis Meets Benedict XVI, Prepares to Celebrate First Christmas as Pope
Rouhani wants trust while US promises to verify any nuclear deal
Not just the NSA: US spies rent a Jerusalem hotel suite to watch a secret Israeli site
Assad Says Syria Facing Major Extremist Offensive
SNC Threatens to Boycott Geneva Talks as 300 Die in Week of Air Raids on Syria's Aleppo
Kiir: South Sudan Army Ready to March on Rebel-Held Town
Egypt Army Says 184 'Terrorists' Killed in Sinai
Netanyahu Hits Out at 'Unacceptable' U.S. Wiretapping
Palestinians Rule Out Extending Peace Talks
Abbas Urges Pilgrims to Visit Holy Land for Pope's Visit
Hezbollah ambush kills 32 Islamist fighters in e. Lebanon
December 23, 2013/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: At least 32 Nusra
Front gunmen were killed in east Lebanon in a weekend ambush sprung by Hezbollah
fighters, a senior security source said Monday, adding that a member of the
Lebanese group was also killed in ensuing fighting. The ambush took place early
Saturday in Wadi al-Jamala, on the outskirts of Nahle, a rugged mountainous area
along the porous border between Lebanon and Syria, the source said. The gunmen
were making their way into Lebanon through an illegal border crossing, the
source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. The bodies of the slain Nusra
Front fighters are in Hezbollah’s possession, the source added. A source close
to the party identified Ali Dergham Fares as the slain Hezbollah fighter, adding
that another party member was wounded in the clashes. Saturday’s ambush is the
second deadly encounter on Lebanese soil between Hezbollah, which backs the
Damascus regime, and Syrian rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad. In
June, the Lebanese group ambushed a group of Syrian rebels in Ain al-Jawzeh,
three kilometers east of Baalbek, killing 12 Syrian opposition fighters.
Separately, the senior security source said a Hezbollah fighter was killed in
the ongoing fighting in the Qalamoun region between Assad loyalist forces and
STL Defense Office Appoints Lead
Counsel for Hassan Merhi
Naharnet Newsdesk 23 December 2013/Francois Roux, head of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's Defense Office, has appointed Mohamed Aouini as "lead counsel to defend the rights and interests of the accused Hassan Habib Merhi," the court announced on Monday. "The Head of Defense Office was seized of a letter from the Pre-Trial Judge, dated 20 December 2013, requesting him to assign counsel to the Accused Hassan Habib Merhi, following the decision of the Trial Chamber of the same day which decided to initiate proceedings in absentia,” the STL said in a statement. “On 20 December 2013, the Head of Defense Office appointed Mr. Mohamed Aouini, counsel at the Tunis Bar, as lead counsel to defend the rights and interests of Mr. Merhi. Mr. Aouini has extensive experience in international criminal law, notably before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and speaks Arabic and French,” it added. Aouini is already working on “interviewing several lawyers and legal officers, notably Lebanese lawyers included on the list of counsel, in order to create his defense team,” the STL noted.
“Once the team is set up, and after it has received the evidence disclosed by the Office of the Prosecutor, the team will be in a position to study and analyze the voluminous Prosecution file, and subsequently conduct its investigations so as to prepare the defense for Mr. Merhi,” it explained. The Head of Defense Office “recalls that the defense team for Mr. Merhi must have adequate time and means, on the same terms as those accorded to the Office of the Prosecutor, in order to accomplish its mission to ensure the Accused has a fair trial,” the court went on to say. On Friday, the STL said that its Trial Chamber has decided to try Merhi in his absence.
“In issuing this decision on trial in absentia, the judges relied on reports from the Lebanese authorities detailing their efforts to apprehend the Accused and to inform him of the charges against him. They also relied on efforts by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to publicize the indictment against Mr. Merhi and on its widespread coverage in the Lebanese media,” said a statement issued by STL's press office.
On October 21, STL President David Baragwanath had announced the confirmation of an indictment accusing Merhi of involvement in the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri, for which four other accused are to be tried in absentia. The trial will begin on January 16, 2014. Merhi is charged with a number of crimes including "the crime of conspiracy aimed at committing a terrorist act." He is alleged to have acted in a conspiracy with Hizbullah members Mustafa Amin Badreddine, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, and Assad Hassan Sabra in relation to the attack on February 14, 2005, all of whom have already been indicted.
The accused Merhi is alleged to have coordinated the preparation of the purported claim of responsibility as part of the preparations for and in furtherance of, the attack, said the STL.
The STL said Merhi is “a supporter of Hizbullah” who was born on December 12, 1965 in Beirut. “He is the son of Habib Merhi and Latifa Abbas,” it added, revealing that he has resided in Burj al-Barajneh and that “he is a citizen of Lebanon.”Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has rejected the STL, describing it as an American-Israeli conspiracy against his party. He has vowed never to cooperate with the tribunal, saying that the suspects will never be found.
Suleiman to Make Important
Revelations, Shrugs Off Accusations of Mandate Extension
Naharnet Newsdesk 23 December 2013/President Michel Suleiman has said he would reveal over the weekend important details on efforts he is exerting along with the International Support Group for Lebanon to resolve Lebanon's political crisis. “Something will happen in the New Year, the result of the efforts exerted by the International Support Group for Lebanon that was born in New York on the sidelines of the General Assembly session,” Suleiman said in remarks to An Nahar daily published on Monday. The group undertook to work together to mobilize support for the sovereignty and state institutions of Lebanon and to highlight and promote efforts to assist the country where it was most affected by the Syrian crisis, including in respect of strengthening the capacity of the Lebanese Armed Forces, assistance to refugees, and structural and financial support to the government.
The president said had his critics known about his contacts with the international community and ways to salvage Lebanon they wouldn't have doubted that he was seeking to extend his term. “They accuse me of seeking for extension but this is the last thing I think about whether they believe me or not,” Suleiman said. The president's six-year mandate ends in May 2014 but there are fears that the March 8 and 14 camps would continue to boycott parliamentary sessions and not elect a new head of state. Suleiman stressed that he would reveal the details of major developments and answer all questions during his meeting with the reporters of Baabda Palace on December 29. “I welcome any criticism from any political party,” he said. “This means I am working.”
Saudi Arabia Urges Lebanese to Resolve Disputes, Doubts Near Rapprochement with Iran
Naharnet Newsdesk 23 December 2013/Diplomats urged on Monday Lebanese foes no to delay the cabinet formation pending a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement, which might not happen anytime soon, depending on the developments in war-torn Syria. A prominent diplomat said in comments published in As Safir newspaper that Saudi Arabia advises Lebanese arch-foes to “resolve their disputes on their own and not to wait for Tehran and Riyadh to bridge the gap between them,” ahead of the upcoming presidential elections. Several Lebanese officials recently expressed hope that any Iranian-Saudi rapprochement would have a positive impact on Lebanon and the region and would create further detente. President Michel Suleiman's six-year tenure ends in May 2014, but the constitutional period to elect a new head of state begins on March 25, two months prior to the expiration of the president's mandate. The diplomat urged the rival parties to end media campaigns against each other, saying that Riyadh isn't behind the political deadlock in Lebanon, in particular, the cabinet crisis.
“Saudi Arabia urges the Lebanese to rectify the ties despite that it's unable to play a role in the matter due to the complicated disputes and the monarchy's stance from Hizbullah and Iran,” the diplomat quoted Saudi sources as saying. In November, Saudi Arabia's embassy in Beirut has called on citizens to leave Lebanon because of the dangerous situation. The warning came two days after a twin suicide bombings killed 25 people near the Beirut embassy of Saudi's regional rival Iran, which is located in the stronghold of Tehran ally Hizbullah. Media reports said Lebanon had "entered into the era of suicide bombings," adding that the attackers had "resorted to the takfiri (extremist Sunni) heritage sponsored by the Saudi kingdom with millions of dollars". Saudi Arabia backs the Syrian rebels, while Iran and its ally Hizbullah support the Syrian regime.
Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri is currently outside Lebanon and isn't expected to return soon to Beirut. For its part, Iranian sources said that Tehran “doesn't order Hizbullah what to do or say.”
“Iran hasn't accused Saudi Arabia and Hizbullah has the right to say whatever it wants according to its information,” the sources said. “Iran's allies has stances that at times differ with its own point of view and this is what distinguishes us from others, who oblige their allies to take their stance, even if it was against Lebanon's interest,” the sources added. The Gulf Cooperation Council said in December that it "welcome the new orientation by the Iranian leadership towards the GCC and hope it will be followed by concrete measures that would positively impact regional peace.”Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif moved last week to assure Gulf states the nuclear deal was not at their expense and called for a new page in relations as he toured the region. The tour followed comments by Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani who, when he took over from hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in August, said he hoped to bolster ties with neighboring countries, especially those in the Gulf. Like Western powers, Gulf monarchies fear Iran may develop atomic weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear program. Iran says the program is for peaceful purposes only. Ties between some Gulf states and Iran have also been strained over Tehran's support for Assad and a Shiite-led uprising in Bahrain.
Gemayel Plays Down Nasrallah's
Naharnet Newsdesk 23 December 2013/Phalange leader Amin Gemayel downplayed Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's latest threats, saying the Lebanese have no choice but to resolve their political problems peacefully. “The threat of any political party to its partners in the nation is rejected and unacceptable,” Gemayel told the Kuwaiti al-Seyassah newspaper published on Monday. “There is always the probability to meet again. Everyone should understand that no one can abolish the other in Lebanon,” he said. “All those who have thought of abolishing others have paid a high price,” Gemayel told the daily. “We have no choice but to recognize each other or else we will all be doomed.” The former president was optimistic that Lebanon's political crisis would be resolved. “Despite the escalatory stances, we can't say that doors are closed or that there are no longer any solutions,” he said. “The Lebanese people have no choice but to keep the lines open and always seek to resolve problems and not complicate them,” Gemayel said. “The alternative is war and destruction,” he warned. Nasrallah warned on Friday against the formation of a fait accompli cabinet and said the March 14 alliance had recently adopted a “very dangerous rhetoric” amounting to “a declaration of war” against his party.
He was referring to a rally that was organized by al-Mustaqbal movement in the northern city of Tripoli during which March 14 officials lashed out at Hizbullah. Gemayel reiterated that the alliance holds onto its principles of defending Lebanon's sovereignty, independence and institutions. “The Lebanese entity is under threat and not just the presidential elections,” he said.
Arrest Warrants Issued for 12 Roumieh
Guards over Drug Network
Naharnet Newsdesk 23 December 2013/The First Military Examining Magistrate issued on Monday arrest warrants against 12 guards for their involvement in a drug trafficking ring at Roumieh prison. Judge Fadi Sawan issued the warrants after questioning the 12 guards, who have reportedly obtained the drugs from people outside the prison and sold them with the help of several inmates. Their charges include the violation of instructions from their security agency and dereliction of duty. Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr has also charged 26 inmates, a doctor and an officer for forming and operating the network. Roumieh, the oldest and largest of Lebanon's overcrowded prisons, has witnessed sporadic prison breaks and escalating riots in recent years as inmates living in poor conditions demand better treatment.
Berri Calls for Formation of Cabinet
Based on 6-9-9 Formula, Rejects Other Lineups
Naharnet Newsdesk 23 December 2013/ Speaker Nabih Berri rejected on Monday the formation of a cabinet based on any formula other than 6-9-9, describing it as a national unity government. “Any other cabinet lineup will not be useful,” Berri said in comments published in As Safir newspaper. He considered that any cabinet that “might be formed without consensus and agreement among political foes will turn into a burden on the country.”Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat had proposed the formation of a new cabinet in which the March 8 and 14 alliances would get nine ministers each and six ministers would be given to the centrists – President Michel Suleiman, Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam and Jumblat. This formula, which Hizbullah agreed on, prevents a certain party from controlling the government by giving veto power to Hizbullah and its team and another veto power to March 14, he said. Sources close to Salam told As Safir that contacts are ongoing to find a suitable formula to end the stalemate. The sources pointed out that “it's time to form a capable government as the Presidential elections are near and a decision must be taken to save the country.” Salam was appointed in April but has so far been unable to put together a government over the conditions and counter conditions set by the rivals parties as fears mount that the differences between the March 8 and 14 camps would lead to a vacuum the presidential post. Suleiman's six-year tenure ends in May 2014, but the constitutional period to elect a new head of state begins on March 25, two months prior to the expiration of the president's mandate.
Raad Repeats Nasrallah's 'Advice' to
Suleiman: Don't Form a De Facto Govt.
Naharnet Newsdesk 23 December 2013/Head of Loyalty to Resistance bloc MP Mohammed Raad on Monday met with President Michel Suleiman in Baabda and repeated the “advice” of Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who had called for avoiding a “de facto cabinet.”"The meeting was positive and represented the best response to reports claiming ties were severed between the two parties," Hizbullah's al-Manar television quoted sources close to Baabda as saying. “Raad stressed the importance of electing a president within the constitutional timeframe and Suleiman backed his viewpoint,” the sources added, according to al-Manar.
The TV network said “Raad conveyed the bloc's point of view, which calls for a unity cabinet, underlining how dangerous it is to form a de facto government and repeating the 'advice' about refraining from opting for this choice given the threats it poses to the country.”For his part, Suleiman told Raad that “the issue of the cabinet formation process is in the hands of Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam," according to the same sources.
As Safir newspaper had said that the Baabda Palace talks would focus on the latest political and security developments. Raad and the Hizbullah delegation that accompanied him left the meeting without making a statement.
On Sunday, Raad had called on the March 14 camp to return to the national dialogue in order to tackle pending disputes. “I call on my brothers and partners in Lebanon to realize that time is running out,” he remarked.
“We are in need of revitalizing all of the country's institutions and we should listen to each other's needs in order to do so,” he added. “We must return to dialogue. We may change the form and agenda of the dialogue if you do not like it,” he stressed. “You silence however is leading you to the abyss and you are leading your partners to greater dangers,” warned Raad. Tensions were high between Suleiman and Hizbullah over the failure to form a new government and over the upcoming presidential election. Suleiman had suggested the formation of a government that can stage the elections even if it does not enjoy parliament's confidence. Hizbullah had rejected such a proposal, deeming it unconstitutional. Suleiman's sources had also recently hinted that he may seek the formation of a de facto cabinet if the political disputes persist. On Friday, Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had adamantly rejected such a government, saying that a national unity one should be formed instead as it will ensure Lebanon's salvation. Suleiman's term ends in May 2014.
Jumblat: Souairi Clash Must Force
Officials to Tackle Political Disputes and Form New Govt.
Naharnet Newsdesk 23 December 2013/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat warned on Monday of the weak security situation in Lebanon in light of Sunday's clash in the West Bekaa town of Souairi. He said in his weekly editorial in the PSP-affiliated al-Anbaa website: “The clash should force officials to adopt calm political rhetoric, organize their disputes, and form a national government that includes all powers.” “The government must enjoy the greatest possible consensus,” he remarked. Moreover, he urged officials to refrain from linking Lebanon's fate to that of the developments in Syria. Jumblat also called for ceasing talk of a so-called de facto cabinet “because it will only serve to complicate political, security, and constitutional affairs.” “If the Syrian crisis, social and economic problems, case of Syrian refugees, constant Israeli threats, upcoming presidential elections, the Souairi clash, and terrorist bombings are not enough reason to form a new government, then I do not know what it,” lamented Jumblat. “Why should the Lebanese constantly depend of foreign developments to determine their fate?” he wondered. “Hasn't Lebanon paid enough over the decades for this dependence?” he asked. Four people were killed over the weekend in sectarian clashes between the Shouman and Jinbeen families.
The army controlled the situation after the clashes turned fierce between Sunni family Jinbeen and Shiite family Shouman. In a statement, the army said it carried out raids, detained several suspects and seized arms.
Security Forces Identify Nigerian Foreign Currency Forging Gang
Naharnet Newsdesk 23 December 2013/The Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau arrested on Monday two Lebanese nationals linked to a counterfeiting gang, reported the National News Agency. Investigations with the suspects later led to the discovery of a five-member Nigerian counterfeiting gang. NNA said that the two Lebanese were initially arrested with a large amount of “black paper” allegedly used for forging hundred dollar bills. The amount found would have been used to forge about half a million dollars, said NNA. Investigations with the suspects revealed that they were victims of a scam by a Nigerian gang. The gang led them to believe that the paper could be turned into hundred dollar bills when their black pigmentation is erased with certain chemicals. Following further investigations, the identities of the foreign gang members were uncovered. The Nigerian suspects have been identified as Jackson Ogheneme, Emmanuel Egbo, Saturday Ohiku, Bello Hammed, and Ufuoma Ukpeje. The Lebanese nationals have since been released pending further investigations.The ISF has since published the photographs of the Nigerian suspects and requested that the public report to it if they suspect they have been victims of their scams.
Nigeria Gunmen Kidnap Lebanese
National Hassan Zain
Naharnet Newsdesk 23 December 2013/Gunmen kidnapped a Lebanese factory owner in Nigeria's second city of Kano on Monday in an attack that left two employees wounded by gunfire, police and witnesses said. "I can confirm the kidnap of a Lebanese national by unknown gunmen from his factory in Sharada area this morning," Kano state police spokesman Magaji Majia told Agence France Presse. "It is too early to say who was behind the abduction but investigations have commenced," he added. Police gave no name but employees at the MC Plastics facility identified the owner as Hassan Zain. The employees said five assailants stormed the factory compound at around 8:00 am (0700 GMT). "As soon as Zain stepped out of his car the gunmen stormed into the parking lot firing in the air which caused a stampede," said a worker who gave his first name as Musa. "Workers rushed inside for safety," he added, but said the attackers also fired directly on the security guard, leaving him with serious injuries. A female employee was also shot and wounded, said Musa, in an account confirmed by other witnesses. Kano, the largest city in the mainly Muslim north, has been attacked repeatedly by Boko Haram Islamists but it was not clear if the insurgent group was behind the latest violence. Kidnappings for ransom are common in Nigeria with scores of foreigners, including Lebanese nationals, targeted every year. Kano, like many west African cities, is home to large Lebanese population.
Source/Agence France Presse
Qahwaji Warns Army Ready to Respond to
Naharnet Newsdesk 23 December 2013/Army Commander Gen. Jean Qahwaji warned on Monday that the military would respond in case the country is subjected to an Israeli military attack.
“The army has the full capability to respond to any Israeli aggression,” Qahwaji said after he inspected army units in Marjeyoun, which lies eight kilometers from the border with Israel. The military “will not succumb to any threat,” he said, adding it will “immediately respond to any aggression.”Qahwaji also visited the headquarters of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon that lies in Naqoura and the command of the army's eighth brigade in al-Zahrani. He lauded the sacrifices made by U.N. peacekeepers, who are spending the holidays away from their families. The army chief reiterated that the military was committed to the implementation of all Security Council resolutions, mainly 1701. The resolution, which put an end to a 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah in August 2006, demanded the pullout of the Israeli army from south Lebanon and its replacement by a U.N.-backed Lebanese army deployment. It also called for the disarming of all militias -- an allusion to Hizbullah as well as to Palestinian militant groups -- and the prevention of illegal arms sales and smuggling operations in Lebanon.
Qahwaji Vows to Strike with Iron Fist, Says Army to Deal Firmly with Gunmen
Naharnet Newsdesk 23 December 2013/Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji said on Monday that he ordered military units to deal firmly with gunmen in the West Bekaa town of Souairi.
Qahwaji stressed in comments published in As Safir newspaper that the army will not hesitate in maintaining security in the country and striking it with an iron fist.
For his part, Speaker Nabih Berri denounced the incident, stressing that security forces should deal firmly with those who are involved in the incident “no matter what their sect is or political affiliation.”
According to As Safir, head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc Fouad Saniora discussed ways to control the repercussions of the incident with Berri in a telephone conversation.
On Sunday, the army was able to end clashes between two families in Souairi that left several people dead and others wounded.
The gunbattles erupted on Sunday, a day after a personal dispute between members of Jinbeen family and Shouman that soon escalated into a fight and, were contained by the Army. The clashes, which were considered sectarian, renewed on Sunday during the funeral procession of Mohammed Jibeen, a soldier. The Army controlled the situation after the clashes turned fierce between Sunni family Jinbeen and Shiite family Shouman. In a statement, the military said it carried out raids, detained several suspects and seized arms.
SNC Threatens to Boycott Geneva Talks as 300 Die in Week of Air Raids on Syria's Aleppo
Naharnet Newsdesk 23 December 2013/..Syrian warplanes have killed more than 300 people in an eight-day bombing campaign on Aleppo, with the opposition National Coalition saying it will not attend planned peaced talks if the bombing continues. The vicious campaign has seen aircraft drop barrels of TNT on rebel-held neighborhoods -- a tactic widely condemned as unlawful -- flooding hospitals with victims, according to activists, medics and others. The attacks come as President Bashar Assad's forces have advanced on several fronts recently while Western nations have been preoccupied with Syria's chemical disarmament and preparing for the January peace talks. "From December 15 to 22, 301 people have been killed, including 87 children, 30 women and 30 rebels," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists and witnesses on the ground. It later said 21 people had been killed Monday in attacks on the rebel-held Marjeh and Soukkari districts of Syria's second city, once its commercial capital. Activists released what they said was footage of a school targeted in the village of Marea near Aleppo. Children can be seen running from the school and screaming as loud explosions rumble in the background.
Inside, men pull children from the rubble, their faces caked in dust and blood. It was not possible to verify the footage.Assad's opponents say the bombing is aimed at demoralizing their supporters and turning them against the insurgents.A security source told Agence France Presse the army had adopted the tactic because of a lack of ground forces, and argued the heavy civilian toll was because the rebels -- branded "terrorists" by the regime -- are based in residential areas.Aleppo has been split between opposition and government forces since a massive rebel assault in July 2012.
Human Rights Watch has accused the government forces of using weapons and tactics that fail to distinguish between civilians and combatants, making such strikes "unlawful." The main opposition National Coalition has called on Western states to impose a no-fly zone to halt the attacks. "Until Assad's warplanes are stopped, the humanitarian disaster, regional instability and the rise of extremism will only continue to get worse," said Munzer Aqbiq, an adviser to the Coalition's president. If bombing continues Coalition 'will not go to Geneva' Later, Coalition Secretary General Badr Jamous went further and said that "if the bombing the Assad regime is carrying out and its attempt to annihilate the Syrian people continue, then the coalition will not go to Geneva." The so-called Geneva 2 talks are aimed at getting agreement on a political transition to end the war, which has claimed an estimated 126,000 lives since March 2011 and displaced millions. But the increasingly fractured opposition has said Assad must step down as part of any deal, which Damascus rejects. And several powerful rebel groups have rejected the talks outright, raising concerns that even if an agreement is reached the opposition would be unable to enforce it on the ground. The initiative is aimed at building on the momentum of a deal to eradicate Syria's vast chemical arsenal by mid-2014, which averted punitive U.S. strikes after an August gas attack near Damascus killed hundreds of people. But analysts argue the regime has been emboldened by U.S. President Barack Obama's failure to act after Assad allegedly crossed his "red line" against using chemical weapons. "There are no more red lines, there is a green light," Salman Shaikh, the director of the Brookings Doha Center, told AFP, saying there is an "element of vengeance" in the Aleppo bombings. "Any credible use of force was taken off the table by Obama and the international community." Meanwhile, Assad said Syria was being confronted with a major offensive by Islamist extremists. "The country is facing a takfiri ideology," Assad said, using a term for Sunni Muslim extremists. "This is terrorism without limits, an international scourge that could strike anywhere and anytime."
SourceAgence France Presse.
STL: Political preening
December 23, 2013/The Daily Star
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is set to begin the trial of the suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri next month, and it is hoped that the court developments will finally end the annoying sideshows that have accompanied the long-awaited proceedings. As Lebanon continues to head in the direction of a failed state because of political paralysis, the weekend saw the issue of paying the state’s contribution to the tribunal take center stage in the drama. The caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, and the caretaker finance minister, Mohammad Safadi, engaged in a disappointing round of accusations over responsibility for the delay in paying Lebanon’s court dues. They were acting as if they were doing a favor to the country by processing the payment, as each tried to convince the public that the other hadn’t followed the correct bureaucratic routine. They and other politicians often forget the importance of adhering to a government-approved, international commitment that is years old. The STL payment should be routine and not deserving of a commotion within the ranks of the same camp that claims to support the tribunal’s work. Naturally, a louder sort of noise is coming from the camp that opposes the STL. As the court date draws closer, Hezbollah and its allies are busy making overt and covert attacks on the tribunal. This camp refuses to acknowledge that the STL has moved steadily along with an investigation and preparations for a groundbreaking criminal trial, overcoming all of the stonewalling and other tactics unleashed by those who are afraid of seeing justice being served.
The STL has relied on top-caliber magistrates and other court officials who have given the defense every opportunity to present the strongest case possible – thousands of pieces of evidence and several hundred witnesses are the quantifiable aspect of these efforts.
In contrast, the parties and individuals who have worked tirelessly against the court continue to wield their skepticism and cynicism to detract from its professionalism. This camp sees no shame in having earlier peddling tale after tale about the Hariri assassination – it was the work of Abu Adas, or a group of Australian pilgrims, or Israel, and finally, the late Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, who enjoyed the utmost level of trust from the Hariri family. The sniping and wild theorizing can be interpreted as a sign of Hezbollah’s anxiety over the findings and revelations that will come out in The Hague next month.
The only thing that’s clear is that when the trial finally kicks off, arguments and counterarguments based on tangible evidence – and not verbal jousting and whispering campaigns – will finally occupy the public’s attention and allow the world to judge the credibility of the proceedings.
Is Iran Set to Lash Out at Saudi
David Schenker /CNN Global Public Square
The Beirut embassy bombing and Iran's anticipated retaliation against Saudi Arabia could threaten Lebanon's already tenuous stability.
The November 19 double suicide bombings of the Iranian embassy in Beirut may have looked shocking in the headlines -- they killed 23 people. But they also should not have come as a surprise.
Since 2011, Tehran has earned its karma in Lebanon. The attack, whose victims included an Iranian diplomat, was likely payback for the Shiite theocracy's unwavering support for the Bashar al-Assad regime's brutal repression of the largely Sunni uprising in Syria. Aided by Iranian troops, weapons and its Lebanese Shiite proxy militia Hezbollah, over the past three years, al-Assad's government has killed tens of thousands of mostly Sunni Syrians.
The real question is what comes now -- and I expect a surge in regional violence. Paradoxically, the international "first step" nuclear agreement with Iran increases rather than diminishes the chances that the Shiite theocracy in Tehran will take steps that exacerbate the regional sectarian conflict.
Notwithstanding the optimism surrounding the "moderate" presidency of Hassan Rouhani, Iran has a long history of pursuing provocative -- and oftentimes deadly -- policies during ostensible periods of conciliation with the West. Consider that during the presidency of the "moderate" Hashemi Rafsanjani, an administration in which Rouhani served on the National Security Council, Iranian proxies were widely viewed as responsible for attacks on both the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994 and U.S. Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1996.
The term of "reformist" President Mohammad Khatami was equally distinguished. Under Khatami, Iran continued its longstanding policy of targeting dissidents abroad and increased its support for Palestinian terrorist organizations, according to the State Department. In 2000, after then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ended restrictions on the sale of Iranian carpets, pistachio nuts, caviar, and spare airplane parts, and apologized for U.S. misdeeds toward Tehran, Tehran responded by continuing to surreptitiously build its uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. Three years later, Khatami's Iran -- along with Syria -- stood accused of flooding Iraq with al Qaeda insurgents and roadside bombs in an effort to derail the U.S. invasion and occupation.
Like Secretary Albright's initiative, it seems that Tehran views the "first step" nuclear agreement as carte blanche insulation against any U.S. sanction for problematic behavior on other fronts. For good reason. The Obama administration has invested so much political and diplomatic capital on the nuclear negotiations, it's difficult to imagine Washington risking the agreement on lower priority issues.
This dynamic likely means that America's uneasy ally, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, will soon become a target for Iran, because while the al Qaeda-affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the Iranian embassy blast in Beirut, it is difficult to believe that Iran and Hezbollah will not retaliate against Saudi Arabia, as the chief backer of Sunni Muslims in Lebanon and the Sunni revolt in Syria. Indeed, Hezbollah officials including Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, as well as the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese daily Al Akhbar -- whose articles frequently reflect the Shiite militia's views -- have attributed the bombing to a group tied to Saudi Arabia, suggesting that the Kingdom's embassy, diplomatic personnel, or nationals in Lebanon or abroad could be the next targets.
Should Tehran hit Riyadh, it could transform and broaden the ongoing Saudi-Iranian proxy war in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen into a more overt, deadly, and destabilizing conflict.
This isn't the first time that Riyadh has found itself in Tehran's crosshairs. In 2011, Iran was accused by the United States of plotting to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to Washington. Anticipating retaliation for the Beirut attack, shortly after the bombing the Saudi Ambassador in Beirut advised the Kingdom's citizens to leave Lebanon.
Notwithstanding a marked increase in deadly Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence, to date Lebanon has avoided the worst case scenario -- a resumption of civil war. In the aftermath of a car bombing earlier this year in Hezbollah's Beirut stronghold of Dahiya, for example, in a calculated effort to avoid escalation, both Sunnis and Shiites blamed Israel for the explosion. Likewise, Lebanese Armed Forces units are currently deployed along the sectarian fault line between Sunnis and Lebanese Alawites -- nominally Shiite supporters of the Assad regime -- in the northern Lebanon city of Tripoli, trying to calm tensions.
But the embassy bombing and Iran's anticipated retaliation against Saudi Arabia could threaten Lebanon's already tenuous stability. Indeed, just two days after the attack, an Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militia shelled a Saudi border post as "a warning message" to Riyadh to stop "interfering" in Iraq. Meanwhile, on the day of the Beirut blast, Hezbollah MP Ali Mikdad issued his own warning. "We got the message and we know who sent it and we know how to retaliate," he reportedly said.
If the past is any precedent, another "message" from Tehran to Riyadh regarding Syria and Lebanon is just around the corner. Regrettably, it will likely be accompanied by a spike in sectarian violence.
**David Schenker is the Aufzien Fellow and director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute
Egypt's New Constitution: Bleak
Eric Trager /Washington Institute
As Egypt prepares to vote on a constitution that could prove economically ruinous or, at best, ineffectual, Washington and its regional allies should discuss ways of encouraging Cairo to pursue much-needed reforms.
Egypt's new draft constitution reflects the coalition of leftist political parties and entrenched state actors that helped oust President Muhammad Morsi from power in July. In the short run, the strength of this coalition -- and its ability to achieve a convincing mandate in the January constitutional referendum -- will determine whether the political transition can move forward. In the longer run, however, Egypt's outlook remains bleak: either the massive state spending that the new constitution mandates will be enforced and thereby wreak economic havoc, or the charter will not be enforced, in which case the country will continue to be governed by an unreliable legal system.
In December 2012, following mass outcry over a constitutional declaration that placed his own edicts above judicial scrutiny, Morsi ordered the Islamist-dominated parliament to complete a new draft constitution within forty-eight hours and then put it to a referendum two weeks later. Although that constitution passed with 64 percent of the vote, the low 33 percent turnout undermined its popular legitimacy, and the noninclusive nature of the drafting process catalyzed a mass opposition movement that eventually culminated in Morsi's July 3 ouster.
As a result, the military-backed government that replaced Morsi made amending the charter a first-order priority. A July 8 declaration suspended the constitution and outlined a new process under which a ten-member committee of legal experts would amend it. Afterward, a fifty-member committee "representing all categories of society and demographic diversities" reviewed, amended, and approved the draft. While the latter committee drew from across the social spectrum, it was ideologically consistent with the coalition that ousted Morsi: it contained only two Islamists, neither of which were Muslim Brothers, and a plurality hailed from non-Islamist parties that have historically won very few votes in elections.
TO THE REBELS GO THE SPOILS
The current draft constitution reflects the anti-Morsi coalition in three respects. First, it is far less Islamist than its predecessor. While it maintains that "the principles of the Islamic sharia are the principal source of legislation" (Article 2), it erases Article 219, which delineated the specific sharia sources on which to base legislation. It also removes Article 44, which prohibited "Insult or abuse of all religious messengers and prophets," and modifies the article regarding al-Azhar, the country's preeminent Islamic institution of learning, which no longer must be consulted "in matters pertaining to Islamic law." Most notably, the new constitution bans religious parties (Article 74).
Second, the new draft grants broad autonomy to the security services, military, and other state institutions that participated in Morsi's ouster. For example, it establishes a Supreme Police Council, which must be consulted on all laws pertaining to the police (Article 207). And in addition to granting each judicial body "an independent budget" and the autonomy to "administer its own affairs" (Article 185), it empowers the Supreme Constitutional Court's General Assembly to select the court's leadership (Article 193). It also empowers the Supreme Judicial Council to appoint the government's prosecutor-general (Article 189), an authority granted to the president under the previous constitution.
The new draft is particularly generous toward the military. The preamble emphasizes that the military has been the state's "pillar" since nineteenth-century ruler Muhammad Ali, and hails "our patriotic army" that "delivered victory to the sweeping popular will in the January 25-June 30 Revolution." Like the previous constitution, the latest draft mandates that the defense minister be a military officer (Article 201), protects the military's autonomy over its budgets by empowering a security-dominated National Defense Council to review them (Article 203), and allows civilians to be tried before military courts (Article 204). But the new charter goes even further, requiring less legislative oversight for military trials, mandating that the defense minister can only be appointed with the approval of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces during the next two presidential terms (Article 234), and empowering the state to fight "all types and forms of terrorism" (Article 237) -- a virtual carte blanche for the military in its ongoing crackdown against pro-Brotherhood forces.
Third, the new draft reflects leftist parties' insistence on a more expansive government role in providing social services. In addition to the many state responsibilities envisioned in the previous constitution, the charter now commits the government to "achieving social justice" (Article 8), providing "food resources to all citizens" (Article 79), and guaranteeing the elderly "appropriate pensions to ensure them a decent standard of living" (Article 83). It also mandates an exorbitant level of specific state spending: at least 3 percent of gross domestic product must be spent on healthcare (Article 18), 4 percent on education (Article 19), 2 percent on higher education (Article 21), and 1 percent on scientific research (Article 23) -- all of which must be put into effect by fiscal year 2016/2017 (Article 238).
MOVING EGYPT'S TRANSITION FORWARD?
The fact that the new draft reflects Egypt's current governing coalition is neither surprising nor novel. The previous constitution similarly embodied the coalition that governed only a year ago, giving Morsi and the ruling Islamists a substantial foothold for instituting their theocratic agenda while securing the military's buy-in by granting it unprecedented autonomy (see PolicyWatch 2001). Still, the immediate future of Egypt's transition hinges on whether the current coalition is more durable than the previous one, which collapsed barely six months after the constitution was approved via referendum.
In the short run, the answer depends on the new referendum scheduled for January 14-15. Although it is expected to pass -- no Egyptian referendum has ever yielded a "no" vote -- a wide "yes" margin with high turnout and low voter suppression would likely solidify the current coalition and legitimize the parliamentary and presidential elections that will follow. Alternatively, a narrow "yes" vote would undermine the viability of the current process significantly, especially if accompanied by low turnout and/or widespread repression. Those rejecting the transition would be encouraged to intensify their protests, and some leftist party leaders might defect from the governing coalition. Both scenarios are plausible at the moment: polls suggest that the military, the key institution backing the current constitutional draft, retains strong support, but frustration with the transition has mounted in recent months, and participation in demonstrations against the military-backed government has broadened beyond the Brotherhood, particularly on university campuses.
Even if a successful referendum allows the political transition to move forward, the massive state spending that the new constitution entails is unsustainable in the long term, suggesting that the current government has no intention of fully enforcing the charter. In particular, if the government fulfills the constitutional requirement to spend 10 percent of GDP -- not merely 10 percent of its budget -- on specific social services, it could catalyze a severe cash crunch that would jeopardize food and fuel subsidies, angering large sectors of the population and potentially broadening support for antigovernment demonstrations. The latest economic data highlights the substantial risk of such massive state spending: Egypt's cash reserves fell from $18.6 billion to $17.8 billion between October and November, and the government does not expect indefinite generosity from the wealthy Persian Gulf states that pledged $12 billion to Cairo following Morsi's removal. Yet if the government tries to avoid these outcomes by not following the new constitution, Egypt will continue to lack the legal rationalism that any stable political system requires.
Given the U.S. interest in a stable Egypt moving toward effective civilian rule, Washington's response to the upcoming referendum should emphasize both short- and long-term goals. This means encouraging a fair and clean voting process by pledging to lift the post-Morsi suspension of U.S. military aid if the referendum is conducted properly. But since even a successful referendum will saddle Egypt with a constitution that either sinks its economy or remains largely unenforced, Washington and its regional allies should begin examining strategies for encouraging Cairo to undertake much-needed economic and political reforms.
**Eric Trager is the Wagner Fellow at The Washington Institute.
The E.U. Needs Turkey
By: Soner Cagaptay /New York Times
France and Germany need to realize that a genuine path to European Union membership is Turkey's surest path to greater democratization.
The Turks are increasingly hubristic, and not just in the Middle East. Having seen their total G.D.P. more than double in the past decade, many Turks do not feel that they need the European Union anymore. Turkey's economy is growing much faster than the European average, so the argument goes, why beg to be part of Europe's anemic Union?
Conversely, many Europeans are increasingly antagonistic toward Turkey's ongoing bid for European Union membership. Following the huge protests in Istanbul's Taksim Square last summer, in which millions took to the streets, only to be overpowered by the police, many have argued that Turkey is not a democracy and the Union does not need it.
Both are wrong.
For Turkey to continue its rise as both a regional power and a global player, it must re-embrace the European Union's liberal democratic values as accession negotiations resume. A Turkey that is a shallow democracy will not be welcome in Europe, nor can it serve as a role model for Arab countries.
And the European Union can help. Indeed, the hope of becoming a Union member has been the key driver of Turkey's democratization process for decades; the prospect of membership has provided an incentive for major democratic reforms. For instance, the European Union's 1999 promise to open accession talks with Turkey if it fulfilled the Union's political expectations led to the elimination of capital punishment and torture across the country.
When Europe shows a serious commitment to Turkey, it responds by liberalizing. In 2000, although public opinion had solidified in support of executing Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of Kurdistan Workers Party (known as the P.K.K.), the Turkish government, under pressure from Brussels, picked the possibility of Union membership over executing the leader of an organization that had killed thousands of people.
When Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came to power in 2002, he at first sought to prove his democratic credentials by aggressively pursuing European Union accession, and reforming his country with that goal in mind. Turkey adopted a liberal penal code and strengthened civilian control of the military, improving its democratic credentials and giving it a green light in 2005 for accession talks.
But Turkey will only reform itself when it believes the prospect of European Union accession is real. This explains why Mr. Erdogan's government cooled toward the idea of membership around 2005 and began to pursue blatantly illiberal policies at home, like intimidating and imprisoning journalists.
When the accession talks opened in 2005, Brussels made them a Sisyphean ordeal, creating 35 rounds, and requiring the consent of all (then 27) Union members to open and close each of these rounds. France and Germany simply did not want to have Turkey as a third power in Brussels. Because the European Union allocates voting power to its members based on population, if Turkey were to join the Union, its voting power would be greater than France's and just a bit less than Germany's.
Facing 35 rounds of talks involving 27 members meant that Turkey had to overcome hundreds of possible vetoes to gain membership. Countries opposed to Turkey's accession, like France, vetoed chapters at will. This rejection prompted Mr. Erdogan's pivot away from Europe and its liberal democratic ideals.
The European Union's recent progress report on Turkey's membership harshly criticized Mr. Erdogan's government. Yet, smartly, Europe has not pulled back, but moved closer. Leaders in Brussels are aware that Turkey will pivot further away if accession does not again become a reality. This would have devastating implications for Europe's growing community of restless Muslims, many of whom see Turkey's acceptance or rejection as a Union member as a test of whether there is room for them on the Continent.
And even the staunchest opponents of Turkey's accession are aware that Europe would be better off with a strong Turkey inside the Union, rather than a belligerent one outside it. After all, today's Turkey is no longer the "sick man of Europe." Its economy is poised to overtake the struggling Italian and Spanish economies in size in the coming years.
But Turkey has a window for reform that will not always remain open. Turkey's creative classes will flee, and those outside will avoid the country, if its leaders cannot provide unfettered freedom of expression, media, assembly and association, and respect for the individual, environment and urban space -- all key demands of the Taksim protesters.
Either the country will become a consolidated liberal democracy, taking off politically and socially, or it will remain a partial democracy, trapped where it is. A genuine path to European Union membership is the surest path toward democratization.
*Soner Cagaptay, the Beyer Family Fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute, is author of the forthcoming book The Rise of Turkey: The Twenty-First Century's First Muslim Power.
Not just the NSA: US spies rent a Jerusalem hotel suite to watch a secret Israeli site
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 23, 2013/Many Israelis
were scandalized when documents released by Edward Snowden revealed that their
best friend, America, had in 2009 targeted a former prime minister and defense
minister for secret surveillance. But their political leaders were not
surprised. For years, the United States has been running a complex eavesdropping
and surveillance web to spy on friends and foes alike, including Israel.
Satellites gather and transmit data to command centers, “informers” operate in
the field and the most fertile sources of all are not human but the instruments
which bug cell phones, tablets and social networks.
The US National Security Agency, NSA, exposed by its former agent the whistleblower Edward Snowden, can monitor these devices whenever it wants, just by beaming its instruments at a defined country, location, group of people or topics.
If, for instance, NSA electronically obtains a list of Israeli servicemen, their cell phone numbers and credit cards, its monitors can keep each one under constant surveillance.
The same applies to the personnel of Israel’s Air Force, Aerospace industry and other high-tech military manufacturers, such as Elbit and Rafael. Those lists may safely be assumed to be already in the agency’s hands.
To collect videos and images, American spy agencies only have to pan through such data gold mines as YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest, the last of which was recently crowned Content Curation. This is because Pinterest does much of the intelligence watchers’ work for them by assorting the material according to subject and field of interest and so unknowingly providing them with neat data packages.
The network catching on like wildfire of late is WhatsApp.
It is also a favorite of Israel’s elementary schoolchildren for swapping their thoughts and news.
A child may explain he or she can’t join the gang that afternoon because his or her father, an Air Force colonel or captain of a naval vessel, is just home from Crete or Sardinia. This will tell the eavesdropper that Israeli crews have been changed at those bases.
An Israeli officer driving his car only has to consult Waze for a short cut to his secret destination to reveal it to a clandestine watcher.
So who controls these armies of spies and directs their focus?
Those are murky waters which are virtually uncharted, as President Barack Obama implied obliquely in the comments he made at his end-of-year news conference Friday, Dec. 20. To still the uproar against indiscriminate spying on Americans, he promised a review and possibly reforms of the NSA, adding tellingly: “Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we necessarily should.”
Snowden’s revelations about the spies sitting on the phones of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Roussef have got Washington into hot water. They also revealed the negligence of their own security services.
However, Israel, to our certain knowledge, has lived with this unwanted American attention from its earliest days. In the 1980s, when the late Menahem Begin was prime minister, an odd-looking vehicle sprouting a forest of antennae stood permanently and quite visibly beneath his office window in Jerusalem.
His staff identified it quite frankly as a mobile American listening station. The measures used later were a lot more sophisticated. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and other Israeli officials, in their turn, had their e-mails intercepted regularly.
But after 2009, Washington introduced a high-powered, multilayered system of intelligence-gathering – especially against Israel, about which neither Snowden nor the Israelis have been forthcoming. This system had a single narrow focus: to pick up the slightest murmur or clue suggesting that Israel was about to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites, which it had threatened to do without prior notice to Washington.
Listening in on the laconic conversations Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held with Ehud Barak was not enough. What the spies were told to look for was out-of-the-way conduct, such as an order placed suddenly for a large quantity of aircraft fuel, or the import of an unusual amount of emergency medical equipment.
At the high noon of this period of mistrust, US officers of the highest ranks began dropping in on Israel with increasingly frequency. Every week to ten days, some many-starred general or fast-talking Pentagon official arrived for a visit. They were told to ferret out any signs of Israel getting ready for an attack on Iran in time for Washington to step in and stop it.
These emissaries had two directives:
1. To maintain a tight grip on the prime minister, defense minister and chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and other IDF generals and keep them in sight at all times;
2. To pick up on their every nuance of speech or behavior for signals of hidden activity too subtle for monitoring devices to register.
The tempo of these visits tapered off when Washington concluded that Israel had given up on a military strike on Iran at that stage.
However, the spying did not.
debkafile’s intelligence sources report that in recent months Israeli complained to the Obama administration about hotel suites which undercover agents had rented in Jerusalem at sites overlooking a secret military installation frequented by high Israeli officials for their most private consultations. The Netanyahu government asked Washington to stop this underhand surveillance. But meanwhile certain other - less friendly - Western spy agencies had caught on and took suites at the same location.
The conclusion from these incidents is that US clandestine surveillance of Israel is unlikely to stop in the foreseeable future – and not just against key figures and military personnel, but also involving economic and industrial espionage. To combat the expanding exposure of its secrets, Israel has been introducing “sterile spaces” impenetrable to illicit penetration as well as using tricks to misdirect attention. However, the Americans and other interested parties keep on looking for holes in these barriers - and so the contest goes on.