July 15/2013

Bible Quotation for today/The Two House Builders
Matthew 07/24-27: "So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, and the wind blew hard against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock.  But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was"!

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources
Who Is Killing the FSA Leaders/By: Abdullah Iskandar/Al Hayat/July 15/13
What’s more important, religion or politics/Mshari Al-Zaydi/AsharqAlawsat/July 15/13

Rebels Against Abu Tammam/By: Mostafa Zein/Al Hayat/Rebels Against Abu Tammam
/15 June/13

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources/July 15/13

Netanyahu: Iran 'weeks away' from crossing red line
Israel launches information war against Hezbollah
Congress examines Argentina's facilitation of Iran

Report: Israeli submarine strike hit Syrian arms depot
Israeli leader vows to keep weapons from Hezbollah
Protest urges U.S. to intervene in Syria

Domestic forces trying to eliminate Hezbollah: Hezbollah MP Nawwaf Musawi
Al-Rahi Reiterates Rejection of Non-State Arms, Urges End to 'Subordination' to Foreign Powers

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi Reiterates Rejection of Non-State Arms, Urges End to 'Subordination' to Foreign Powers
Lebanese Army Arrests Group for Transporting Arms in Arsal as Report Says 'Suicide Vests' Seized

FIBA to Consider Unfreezing Lebanon's Basketball Membership after Local Disputes Resolved
Report: Hizbullah Requested that Berri Suspend his Initiative on Ending Govt. Deadlock
Sheikh Abbas Zgheib: Hizbullah, Iran Do Not Meddle in Negotiations to Release Aazaz Pilgrims
Aoun Sticks to Understanding with Resistance and to Hizbullah Choice in Cabinet Participation
Berri says Cabinet proposals still stand
Alleged Rapprochement between Aoun and Hariri after Asiri's Visit

Report: Meetings on Sidelines of Presidential Iftar to Accelerate Cabinet Formation
Netanyahu Says May Have to Act before U.S. on Iran
Egypt Prosecutors Quiz Morsi over Prison Break
Al-Sisi: Morsi Rejected Holding Referendum, People Only Source of Legitimacy

Egypt freezes assets of 14 top Islamists: judicial sources
Syrian troops advance in Damascus
Shell from Syria Hits Israeli-Occupied Golan
Fighting Traps Hundreds of Families in Damascus as Bomb Hits Police Station

Report: Officials Willing to Cooperate with International Demands to Facilitate Refugee Aid


Netanyahu: Iran 'weeks away' from crossing red line

 By HERB KEINON07/14/2013/J.Post

Israeli Prime Minister tells CBS Iran "won't be allowed to cross" uranium threshold, though warns that Iran is closer than ever
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu launched a rhetorical offensive against Iran on Sunday. The move came amid unease that the world might be enticed by a “compromise proposal” that Jerusalem believes Tehran is hatching, and concern that regional turmoil was distracting everyone’s attention from Iran’s nuclear march.Senior Israeli officials said the Iranians were considering a proposal whereby they would agree to a temporary halt of uranium enrichment to 20 percent, and even agree to convert some of that enriched material to a lower grade, in return for a partial lifting of sanctions.“This is an insignificant and meaningless concession,” one senior official said. “The Iranians have invested a lot in upgrading centrifuges and have the technological ability to replenish their stockpiles within a few weeks. We will totally oppose this sort of proposal because it does not offer a real solution.”
Netanyahu, meanwhile, told an American audience on CBS News’s Face the Nation that regarding the 20% enriched uranium, the Islamic Republic was just 60 kilograms short of crossing his “red line.”
He defined this line – beyond which the Iranians should not be allowed to proceed – as being the possession of 250 kg. of 20% enriched uranium, enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb. He said they now had 190 kg., up from about 110 six to eight months ago.
Netanyahu said the Iranians were also building “faster centrifuges that would enable them to jump the line at a much faster rate. That is, within a few weeks.”
“They’re getting closer,” he said. “They should understand that they’re not going to be allowed to cross it.”
Asked when he would make a decision to attack, Netanyahu responded: “I can tell you I won’t wait until it’s too late.” He added that it was “important to understand that we cannot allow it to happen,” and that the Israeli and US clocks on this matter were “ticking at a different pace.”“We’re closer [to Iran] than the United States,” he said.
“We’re more vulnerable. And therefore, we’ll have to address this question of how to stop Iran, perhaps before the United States does. But as the prime minister of Israel, I’m determined to do whatever is necessary to defend my country, the one and only Jewish state, from a regime that threatens us with renewed annihilation.”
Netanyahu’s tough rhetoric is widely seen as an attempt to reinsert a sense of urgency regarding Iran, urgency that some in Jerusalem feel has been lost due to the election last month of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s new president, and also because of the tumultuous events roiling the region.
Representatives of the six world powers known as the P5+1 that are negotiating with Iran – the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany – are scheduled to meet Tuesday in Brussels to discuss strategy now that Rouhani is about to take over.
“I have a sense there’s no sense of urgency,” Netanyahu said. “All the problems that we have [in the region], however important, will be dwarfed by this messianic, apocalyptic, extreme regime that would have atomic bombs. It would make a terrible, catastrophic change for the world and for the United States.”
Regarding Rouhani, Netanyahu said the Iranian president-elect had criticized his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “for being a wolf in wolf’s clothing. His strategy is, be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Smile and build a bomb.”
Iran also figured prominently in comments Netanyahu made earlier in the day at the weekly cabinet meeting, saying that a month after Iran’s elections the Islamic Republic continued to “quickly sail forward” toward nuclear capability. According to Netanyahu, Iran was expanding and improving its uranium enrichment capabilities, and in parallel was developing a plutonium reactor so it would have two tracks to create material for a nuclear weapon. At the same time, he said, Tehran was expanding its ballistic missile capabilities.
“We believe that now, more than ever, it is important to stiffen the economic sanctions and present Iran with a credible military option,” he said.
“We are determined to stand firm by our demands [on Iran], which must become the demands of the international community,” he went on. “First, to cease all enrichment. Second, to remove from the country all the enriched uranium. And third, to close the illegal nuclear facility at Qom.” Israel’s demands are harsher than those of the international community, which – through the P5+1 – has indicated that Iran must cease enriching uranium to 20% but could keep for civilian purposes some of its stockpiles of uranium that had been enriched to a lesser degree.
On other issues in his Face the Nation appearance, Netanyahu walked carefully around a direct question posed to him about whether he thought the US should cut off military aid to the new interim government in Egypt.
“Look, that’s an internal American decision,” he said. But then he added a caveat: “Our concern is the peace treaty with Egypt. One of the foundations of that peace treaty was the US aid given to Egypt.”
He said that Israel and Egypt had maintained formal contacts during the past two years since Hosni Mubarak was deposed, “including now.”
Netanyahu also gave an answer that could be interpreted different ways when he was asked about US reports that Israel, as alleged by anonymous US officials, had been behind the attack last week on Latakia in Syria. The strike targeted Russian-made Yakhont antiship missiles that Israel has in the past warned could fall into Hezbollah’s hands.
“Oh God, every time something happens in the Middle East Israel is accused,” Netanyahu said. “I’m not in the habit of saying what we did or we didn’t do. I’ll tell you what my policy is. My policy is to prevent the transfer of dangerous weapons to Hezbollah and other terror groups. And we stand by that policy.”


Israel launches information war against Hezbollah
IDF's new media unit launches website offering in-depth information, analysis on Hezbollah, in bid to push additional countries to add group to terror list. 'Just a compilation of anti-Hezbollah propaganda,' Lebanese media say
The Media Line,7340,L-4404887,00.html

A similar website on Hamas is currently being planned. The Hezbollah website can be found at
Published: 07.14.13/Ynetnews
If you click on the Israeli army’s new Hezbollah website, you will see a red and black logo that reads, “Hezbollah, Army of Terror.” The site is a combination of graphics, text and videos, all focusing on the Lebanese-based, Iran-proxy terrorist organization and its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. One link refers back to what Israelis call the Second Lebanon War of 2006, and in fact, the site was launched on the seventh anniversary of that 34-day conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. And claims that "Seven years later," Hezbollah is stronger today more than ever.A neon-green graphic that follows the text shows the different weapons Hezbollah now has in its arsenal and how far each one is able to reach. The missile with the longest range, the Scud-D, can travel more than 430 miles, potentially penetrating deep into Egypt, Saudi Arabia, as well as Israel and a plenum of American military assets in the region.
“Since the war, Hezbollah has tripled the size of its missile arsenal,” the website says. “In 2009, an IDF intelligence report revealed that Hezbollah had built close to 1,000 military facilities throughout southern Lebanon. The installations included more than 550 weapons bunkers and 300 underground facilities. Since the report’s release, Hezbollah has continued to build facilities in the region, enhancing its ability to strike at nearby Israeli towns and cities.”The website says that Israel is in more danger now than ever before“Hezbollah’s weapons are capable of causing far more substantial damage than its 2006 arsenal,” the website continues. “With its current abilities, Hezbollah is capable of bombarding Israel with continuous, precise attacks over an extended period of time.”
New media
The website is the product of Israel’s new interactive media branch, a spin-off from the IDF Spokesman’s Unit. Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovich, the head of the new branch, says some 30 soldiers work there, and put out content in English, Hebrew, Arabic, French, Spanish and Russian. Two of the soldiers, she says, are native Egyptians who moved to Israel about seven years ago.
“This is the first time a military invests in such a platform using confidential information.” Leibovich told The Media Line. “When information will be interesting and high quality it will create a buzz about Hezbollah, and raise awareness about this organization that is sitting on our border with 60,000 rockets (pointed in Israel’s direction).”
Leibovich said some of the information came from classified sources, including combat intelligence troops based on the Lebanese border.
Anti-Hezbollah propaganda
On the other side of the border, however, Lebanese journalists were not impressed with the website.
“This is the kind of information that any person can get on the web,” Farid Chedid, the editor of Lebanon Wire told The Media Line. “There is nothing new – it’s just a compilation of anti-Hezbollah propaganda.”
In Lebanon, Chedid says, Hezbollah is seen as an Iranian proxy, but it also runs a network of schools and clinics, providing salaries to thousands of Lebanese and social services to many more.
The website was put together by Pvt. Gabriel Freund, 25, an immigrant to Israel from Australia with a background in computer graphics.
“We tried to tell the story of the terrorist organization Hezbollah to the world in a way that is easy to share,” Freund told The Media Line. “We tried to make it as interactive as possible. You can see it is user friendly and you can easily access different parts of the site.”
The website also includes animations and videos showing how Hezbollah uses civilian homes from which to launch weapons. It was launched as Israel has undertaken a campaign to convince more of the international community to define Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Seven states, including the US and Israel already define Hezbollah that way.
Leibovich says the interactive media branch has gained a large following with 340,000 followers on Facebook and more than 35 million page views on YouTube.
“This initiative shows the military has to adapt to a new media war zone which is interactive media,” Leibovich said.
A similar website on Hamas is currently being planned. The Hezbollah website can be found at


Who Is Killing the FSA Leaders?
Abdullah Iskandar/Al Hayat
Sunday 14 July 2013
Where does one place the assassinations targeting leaders and fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA)? What are the motives behind those assassinations? And to whose benefit are they being carried out? It has become clear, after it had been expected, that the parties carrying out those attacks are traveling armed groups that bear different names, but all seek to become affiliated or identified with the Al-Qaeda organization. This is after members of those groups appeared in video recordings published on social media websites, in which they engaged in acts, such as whipping or killing in accordance with “ascertained rulings of Sharia law”, in addition to chasing youngsters and women for “reasons pertaining to Sharia law”, as well as destroying cultural sites and artistic or historical artifacts under the pretext of “combating polytheism”. In other words, those affiliated with such groups have shown that their “jihad” in “the Levant” aims at destroying everything the Syrian people have accumulated throughout their history, and everything they hope for in terms of a future free of tyranny. They represent the complete opposite of what the popular movement in Syria had represented, and of what the Syrian people aspire to from getting rid of the current regime.
This is an image that the Syrian regime has worked to make of the popular movement, with all of the experience in propaganda – for which it is renowned. Thus, according to its media machine, the peaceful protesters were in fact terrorists hiding behind “a few rightful demands” in order to do away with “defiance and resistance” in Syria. Indeed, this war waged by the regime, against flesh and stone all over the country, can only be justified by entrenching this image and making it that of Syria’s future.
The Syrian regime has been able to instill in the minds of many, especially in the West and in the United States, the notion that there are terrorists fighting to overthrow it, and that the success of these terrorists would mean turning Syria into another Afghanistan. This time however, this would happen at the West’s doorstep, and without anyone having the ability to keep in it in check. Thus, while the misguided political debate was erupting about the Al-Nusra Front and the extent of its proximity to Al-Qaeda, and while FSA battalions were finding ways to organize and arm themselves without any help, the regime was focusing its entire military machine on subjecting the Syrian people. It did so by destroying, killing and displacing, while completing in parallel the formation of its “joint forces” (regular army troops with Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard). The image of the Al-Nusra Front thus played an important role in buying the regime this valuable time.
There are two factors making the task easier for the regime: the first is the Western stance, which hesitates to adopt a decisive strategy towards Syria; the second is the fact that certain people with the ability to provide funds, especially in the Gulf, have continued, on the basis of religious conviction, to donate money to such terrorist organizations.
The image of the Al-Nusra Front as a terrorist group began to recede. Also, the military and political Syrian opposition unified General Saff and reached a compromise on representation in the National Coalitions, which enabled it to carry on the battle to overthrow the regime. On the other hand, the issues of recognizing the opposition’s political representation and of the necessity of providing the FSA with weapons that would restore a minimum of balance on the field against the regime’s forces and allies began to be dealt with more seriously; In light of all what preceded, the killing machine represented by the groups linked to Al-Qaeda returned to target the leaders of the FSA. Needless to say that exhausting the FSA with this kind of attrition benefits the regime politically as well as on the field.
The question here is about the extent, to which these terrorist groups are linked to the regime, since they are fulfilling its goals. It would be difficult to conclude that these groups are part of the regime’s apparatus. Yet past experiences, especially in Iraq and Lebanon, have shown that the regime’s apparatus was facilitating the activity of groups such as these, in order to further the goals of Syrian policy. Iran has similarly embraced elements of Al-Qaeda who had fled Afghanistan for the same reasons. These experiences have clearly shown that the regime’s apparatus (in collaboration with Iran) had steered the activity of these groups away from targeting the Americans and towards targeting the leaders of Sunni “Awakening” movements, when the time came to establish a new political equation in Iraq… and the rest is history. Something similar happened in Lebanon, after the withdrawal of the Syrian army. Indeed, Damascus’s apparatus had spurred on Fatah Al-Islam in the Nahr El-Bared refugee camp, in order to exhaust the Lebanese army to punish it for its neutrality during the wave of popular movements in Lebanon, as well as to exhaust its Lebanese opponents. These organizations, which declare themselves linked to Al-Qaeda, have played a major role in undermining the opponents of the Syrian regime and of its allies in Iraq and in Lebanon. And that is what they are doing today by targeting the leaders of the FSA in Syria.


Rebels Against Abu Tammam
Mostafa Zein/Al Hayat
Sunday 14 July 2013
They are killing poets, digging up their graves to make examples of them and tearing out their statues wherever they may find them. Yesterday it was Abul Ala Al-Maarri, today it is Abu Tammam. They are against any sliver of light in this Arab tradition of ours. Their tribes live by blood and on blood. They know nothing of history, but the nonsense passed down from one ignorant fool to another across the generations. The enemies of art and poetry are the leaders of Arab revolutions from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Gulf. They form armies fully equipped with the most advanced weapons, forge alliances across national borders, compete over the spoils of war, and multiply like mushrooms. Besides, they destroy cities and archeological sites, as well as monuments, ancient and modern. They live in the past as they imagine it to have been. They build their dreams on the ruins… “This is because, on account of their savage nature, [they] are people who plunder and cause damage. They plunder whatever they are able to lay their hands on (…) Savagery has become their character and nature. They enjoy it, because it means freedom from authority and no subservience to leadership. Such a natural disposition is the negation and antithesis of civilization” (Ibn Khaldun).
Is this still the case, since the time of Ibn Khaldun and until today? All of the events we have been experiencing confirm that it is. The Age of Decadence has been ongoing for hundreds of years. It is a wonder that to this day, they have not torn out the statue of the modern historiography founder in Tunis. History for them consists of a series of enmities, wars and invasions. They live it in their deeds and in their dreams. They bring it back to superimpose it on the present, imagining the past to be their path to immortality. They immortalize its minutest details. Did they not tear out the statue of Harun Al-Rashid in Baghdad? Did the Kurds not suggest changing the name of Saladin Province, because the Arabs consider Saladin to be a hero, although he was Kurdish? Did they not think of tearing out the Sphinx in Egypt? They consider anything different from them to be an enemy, and any thinking that contradicts their own to be “an innovation, and every innovation is misguidance”. Yet, have any of them read the poetry of Abu Tammam? Are any of them familiar with his biography? Have they thought about the fact that he is one of the main founders of modern poetry? Have they read the Arabic poetry he compiled in the Hamasah anthology? If any of them has, it was only to declare him an apostate for being creative. There is no place for creativity in their lexicon. One might understand removing the statue of Hafez Al-Assad or Bashar Al-Assad, considered symbols of the ruling regime in Syria. But what do Al-Maarri and Abu Tammam have to do with this? Did they establish the rule of the Baath Party? Or did they strengthen the rule of family and sect? It is their “savage nature”, the antithesis of civilization, as says Ibn Khaldun; and one fears that the future may be darker still.

Israeli leader vows to keep weapons from Hezbollah
July 14, 2013/By Josef Federman/Daily Star-
JERUSALEM: Israel's prime minister insisted Sunday that he will not allow "dangerous weapons" to reach Lebanon's Hezbollah, following reports that Israel recently carried out an airstrike in northern Syria against a shipment of advanced missiles. The airstrike in Latakia reportedly targeted Russian Yakhont anti-ship missiles, one of the types of advanced weapons that Israeli officials have previously said they would not allow to reach Syria. It would be the fourth known airstrike against Syria this year. Asked about the reports on the CBS-TV show "Face the Nation," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to confirm or deny Israeli involvement in the latest airstrike.
"My policy is to prevent the transfer of dangerous weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and other terror groups as well. And we stand by that policy," he said, according to a transcript of the interview provided by CBS.
Israel has been carefully watching the Syrian conflict since it erupted in March 2011. While it has been careful not to take sides in the civil war, Israel has repeatedly said it would take action to prevent what it calls "game changing" weapons, including chemical weapons and advanced guided missiles, from reaching Hezbollah or other hostile groups. Syria's President Bashar Assad is a key backer of Hezbollah.
In January, Israeli aircraft destroyed what was believed to be a shipment of advanced Russian anti-aircraft missiles in Syria that were bound for Lebanon. In May, a pair of Israeli airstrikes near Damascus targeted advanced Iranian ground-to-ground missiles also thought to be headed for Hezbollah. Israel has never confirmed involvement in any of the airstrikes.
Following the May attack, Syrian President Bashar Assad vowed to retaliate if Israel struck his territory again. Assad has not commented on the latest alleged airstrike.
Yakhont missiles are powerful anti-ship weapons launched from the shore that are difficult to defend against. They travel at twice the speed of sound close to the surface of the water, making it hard for radar to detect them. Israel sees them as threatening its military and commercial installations along the coast, including its offshore natural gas reserves. Hezbollah used a less-advanced Iranian surface-to-sea missile to hit an Israeli warship during a monthlong 2006 war. That attack killed four Israeli sailors.

Protest urges U.S. to intervene in Syria
July 14, 2013/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: A group of students from the Lebanese Option Gathering urged Washington to intervene and support the Syrian opposition in a small protest Sunday close to the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon. A handful of people, outnumbered by Army personnel and security forces, held posters that read: “Help the Syrian Revolution" and "America's credibility at stake" near the embassy in Awkar.
The adviser for the student coordination section in the party, Hussein Zeineddine, criticized western policies “that only encourage the Syrian regime to oppress its people while neglecting rightful demands by the people who has been suffering for more than two years.”

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi Reiterates Rejection of Non-State Arms, Urges End to 'Subordination' to Foreign Powers
Naharnet /Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday reiterated his rejection of weapons in the hands of non-state actors and called on Lebanese parties to end their “subordination” to foreign powers.
“Lebanon needs new leaders and politicians and it needs the voice of the youth so that it can open a new chapter in its history,” al-Rahi said during a mass in Harissa. The patriarch again called for drafting a new social contract based on the 1943 National Pact, an unwritten agreement that laid the foundation of Lebanon as a multi-confessional state. He stressed that Lebanon must not be a subordinate to any foreign state. Addressing the young generation, al-Rahi added: “Lebanon needs your voice and support for the armed forces, as any weapons outside this framework are illegitimate and would breed other illegitimate arms, which would lead to the law of the jungle.”

Report: Hizbullah Requested that Berri Suspend his Initiative on Ending Govt. Deadlock

Naharnet/Efforts to form a new government are seeming more complicated with Speaker Nabih Berri halting his initiative aimed at ending the deadlock, said the daily An Nahar Sunday. Sources monitoring the formation process revealed that Hizbullah had urged the speaker to halt the initiative without explaining the reasons for it. Berri had suggested that a list of government candidates be presented by Hizbullah and his AMAL movement without the Free Patriotic Movement. Premier-designate Tammam Salam would have been charged with choosing five of the candidates, who will provide the Shiite representation at the cabinet. Amid this development, Salam's circles told the daily that he has not given up hope to form a new government, stressing that he is still seeking to form a 24-minister cabinet. Meanwhile on Saturday, President Michel Suleiman and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati had held talks over various local developments. Salam had told As Safir newspaper Saturday: “The pace of political and security developments in the country and the region require the formation of a government that confronts the challenges of the upcoming stage along with its dangers.”“The region's volcano is on fire,” he warned, saying the stalling in the new line-up would have severe security, economic and financial repercussions on Lebanon.
His remarks echoed a call made on Friday by Suleiman for rival parties to make “sacrifices” to facilitate the cabinet formation process.

Lebanese Army Arrests Group for Transporting Arms in Arsal as Report Says 'Suicide Vests' Seized

Naharnet /The army announced on Sunday the arrest of a number of individuals for transporting weapons in the Bekaa region of Arsal, reported the National News Agency. The Army Command said in a statement that a driver of a pick up truck was arrested at a checkpoint after a number of weapons were found in his vehicle. Other individuals linked to the incident were also arrested. Investigations are underway in the case. Meanwhile, the Beirut-based, pan-Arab television al-Mayadeen said the army arrested five people -- two Syrians, a Lebanese and two Palestinians -- who were carrying "suicide vests." The vests were carrying the Islamic phrase La Ilaha Illa Allah (there is no God but Allah), al-Mayadeen said. It did not mention where exactly the five men were arrested or whether it was referring to the same incident that happened earlier in Arsal. Later on Sunday, the National News Agency said the army intercepted a white van and arrested five people of Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian nationalities on Arsal's road. "Uniforms carrying al-Nusra Front badges were found in their possession and they were on their way to Arsal's barren mountains with the aim of infiltrating Syrian territory," the agency added. Border areas in the north and east have been struck by frequent cross-border shelling and clashes linked to the Syrian crisis, while the Syrian regime has told Lebanon to better control its porous border to prevent the smuggling of fighters and arms. Lebanon is sharply divided over the war in Syria and Arsal is a particular flashpoint as refugees from the uprising and fighters and smugglers hostile to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad traverse the border.

Report: Officials Willing to Cooperate with International Demands to Facilitate Refugee Aid

Naharnet/Senior officials have expressed their readiness to comply with international demands to aid the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, reported the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat Sunday. They voiced their readiness to establish “institutional foundations with full privileges” that would be capable of managing the aid as requested by the United Nations Security Council earlier this week. International donor groups had conditioned that a government mechanism be set in order to manage funds. They should be spent through the World Bank, which will in turn transfer them to a dedicated fund for the refugees that would be controlled by designated by government agencies. Earlier this week, the Security Council had called for "unprecedented" international help for the Lebanon in dealing with the refugees. Lebanon and Jordan say they cannot cope with the fallout from the 26-month-old Syria war and have called for an international conference on the humanitarian crisis. The United Nations says there are about 600,000 refugees registered in Lebanon, but the country's U.N. ambassador Nawaf Salam said there are more than one million Syrians in the country and think tanks such as the Beirut Institute give a figure of 1.2 million. A Security Council statement proposed by France called for "strong, coordinated international support for Lebanon to help it continue to withstand the multiple current challenges to its security and stability." The Security Council statement also said there should be international help for the Lebanese Armed Forces to help police the border and made a new appeal for all sides in the country to stay out of the Syria conflict. A special fund set up by the United Nations has received only a fraction of the amount appealed for.

Alleged Rapprochement between Aoun and Hariri after Asiri's Visit
Naharnet/Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and al-Mustaqbal movement chief ex-PM Saad Hariri have recently had “indirect contacts,” FPM sources confirmed on Saturday. The sources also confirmed reports about ties between Rabieh and al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc chief MP Fouad Saniora. The development in the relations between the foes came in the aftermath of a visit that Saudi Ambassador Ali Awadh Asiri made to Aoun earlier in the month, they said. The reported rapprochement included talks about a possible visit by Aoun to Paris for a meeting with Hariri, the sources told al-Akhbar daily. But sources close to the former premier denied such a move. Despite the denial, Aoun's sources stressed that any contact between the two parties would not come at the expense of the FPM chief's ties with Hizbullah. Aoun has informed the Hizbullah leadership about the alleged rapprochement with al-Mustaqbal and Saudi Arabia, the sources said.

Report: Meetings on Sidelines of Presidential Iftar to Accelerate Cabinet Formation
Naharnet /Meetings expected to be held by the country's top leaders on the sidelines of an Iftar banquet at Baabda palace next Tuesday are expected to facilitate the cabinet formation process, ministerial sources said.
Sources said on Saturday that President Michel Suleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri, Caretaker Premier Najib Miqati and Premier-designate Tammam Salam are expected to meet on the sidelines of the Iftar.
Such talks would likely give Salam a chance to speed up the formation of the new government. The PM-designate has so far failed in his mission over conditions set by the different camps. The March 8 alliance wants veto power, which Salam opposes. While March 14 is calling for a neutral cabinet, stressing that Hizbullah should be excluded from it as long as it continues fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's troops in Syria. But Salam wants a 24-member cabinet, in which the two alliances and the centrists would get 8 ministers each. The ministerial sources told al-Liwaa daily that Suleiman will make an important speech during the Iftar given the tense political and security situation in Lebanon and the region. On Friday, Suleiman called in a statement for rival parties to make sacrifices and help in the formation of a cabinet that can shoulder the responsibility of confronting the challenges of the upcoming stage.


Domestic forces trying to eliminate Hezbollah: Hezbollah MP Nawwaf Musawi
July 14, 2013/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: The Future Movement's demand to exclude Hezbollah from the government is part of a domestic push to politically marginalize the party in Lebanon, MP Nawwaf Musawi said over the weekend. “The anniversary of the 2006 July war comes at a time when the resistance is facing two types of aggression: the first is militarily represented in the aggression on the state and its people in Syria in order to isolate the resistance in Lebanon, besiege it and break its back,” the Hezbollah MP said during a ceremony in south Lebanon. “The second is the political aggression in Lebanon in an attempt to eliminate Hezbollah from the political equation,” Musawi said. Under the direction of the U.S. political parties in Lebanon are trying to erase Hezbollah from the political makeup of the country, Musawi said. “And so we find these political groups under the command from the American tutelage moving to disrupt the Parliament under a flimsy pretext and refuse Hezbollah's participation in the government,” Musawi said referring to his rivals in the March 14 coalition. Future Movement and some of its allies in the March 14 alliance have said that they will not join Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam’s Cabinet until Hezbollah withdraws its fighters from Syria, a conflict that the resistance group sees as a threat to its existence. Hezbollah politicians have called on Salam to form a national unity government where all political groups are represented. The conditions and counter conditions set by rival groups have stalled the formation of the Cabinet which Salam insists should be made up of neutral ministers. In his speech marking the passing of 40 days since the martyrdom of Hussein Talal Shalhoub, Musawi said Hezbollah’s participation in the new government is required because of its large support base.“The Cabinet in Lebanon cannot be formed at the whims of foreign countries or other parties such as Future Movement,” he said, adding that the formation should be based on constitutional guidelines stipulated in the Taif Accord and the Constitution. “It is based on equally representing the social and political components as stipulated in Article 95 in the constitution,” Musawi noted.
As for the aggression on Hezbollah via the war in Syria, Musawi reiterated Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah viewpoint and said the purpose behind such a conflict is to paralyze the group. Musawi said victory in Syria would not harm Lebanon.“However things develop, we will be affected by the consequences; if the state and people win in Syria which is expected to happen then Lebanon will remain, united, sovereign, free and independent because those betting on forcing the collapse of the regime in Syria seek to do the same with Lebanon,” he said.


Berri says Cabinet proposals still stand
July 14, 2013/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri denied claims Sunday that he would stop government negotiations with Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam, saying his offers to resolve an extended political impasse still stand.
“Berri's proposals aimed at facilitating the Cabinet formation process still stand, so does his support for the prime minister-designate’s suggestion to rotate ministerial portfolios. Everything else is inaccurate,” Berri’s office said in a statement. The statement came in response to a recent news report claiming Berri was no longer supporting one of his Cabinet proposals.Annahar reported Sunday that Hezbollah asked Berri to backtrack on a proposal that would have the speaker along with the resistance group provide Salam with a list of Shiite names for ministerial posts. Earlier this week, the speaker announced the collapse of the March 8 coalition, ending his Amal Movement's alliance with MP Michel Aoun which meant that Berri and Hezbollah could negotiate with Salam separately. He added that March 8's key demand to acquire veto power within the new government would no longer be valid with the end of the alliance, possibly paving the way for a new government to be formed

Aoun Sticks to Understanding with Resistance and to Hizbullah Choice in Cabinet Participation
Naharnet/Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun said Saturday that the “strategic understanding” with the resistance hasn't changed despite disagreements on local issues, adding the FPM and Hizbullah would have similar stances on their participation in the new government. “The strategic understanding with the resistance will not change but there are some local issues that there should be leniency in dealing with,” Aoun told Hizbullah's al-Nour radio in an interview. He accused Premier-designate Tammam Salam of putting conditions that were “impossible” to implement. Salam wants a 24-member cabinet, in which the March 8 and 14 alliances, and the centrists would get 8 ministers each. But March 8 wants veto power, which Salam opposes. The FPM wouldn't participate in the cabinet if Hizbullah refused to do so as well, Aoun said. His remark appeared to corroborate a report in al-Akhbar daily on Friday that Hizbullah officials have contacted Aoun to confirm that the party was committed to having a united stance with Speaker Nabih Berri's Amal movement and the FPM in the decision on whether to participate or not in the government. The report came after Berri said that the March 8 alliance of Hizbullah, Amal and the FPM was finished on issues linked to their shares in the new cabinet. Differences between the FPM on one hand and Hizbullah and Amal began emerging late May over the extension of parliament’s term, which Aoun opposed, and more recently over the extension of Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji's mandate.  Aoun did not make a final stance on whether lawmakers from his Change and Reform bloc would attend a session set by Berri for Tuesday or boycott it. Their attendance is linked to the session’s agenda, he said. Aoun told his interviewer that sometimes he agreed with Berri and at other times he disagreed with him. The FPM chief said his ties with him were limited to the meetings held between the speaker and the Change and Reform MPs. Asked about a report in al-Akhbar daily on Saturday about a rapprochement between him and al-Mustaqbal movement leader Saad Hariri, Aoun welcomed any such move among the Lebanese parties. “Rapprochement and stability are for all the Lebanese,” he said without confirming the report. “The Saudis are seeking for rapprochement among the Lebanese for the sake of stability,” the MP added. Aoun and Hariri have recently had “indirect contacts,” FPM sources told al-Akhbar. The development in the relations between the foes came in the aftermath of a visit that Saudi Ambassador Ali Awadh Asiri made to Aoun earlier in the month, they said.

Sheikh Abbas Zgheib: Hizbullah, Iran Do Not Meddle in Negotiations to Release Aazaz Pilgrims
Naharnet /Turkey will be held accountable for any harm incurred by the Lebanese pilgrims held in Syria's Aazaz region, said Sheikh Abbas Zgheib, who has been tasked by the Higher Islamic Shiite Council to follow up on the case of the pilgrims. He said in a statement: “Hizbullah and Iran have nothing to do with the negotiations between the regime and the kidnappers.”He made his remark in response to a call issued by the so-called Northern Storm Brigade..The Brigade had urged on Sunday the families of the pilgrims to pressure Hizbullah to speed up the swap between the Lebanese captives and female prisoners in Syrian jails. Zgheib added: “The kidnappers are responsible for stalling in providing the list of prisoners to the regime.”The families of the pilgrims will respond in “the way they deem fit” to any harm that may be inflicted to the captives, he warned.
The pilgrims were abducted in Syria's Aleppo region in May 2012 as they were making their way back to Lebanon by land from pilgrimage in Iran.
Two of them have since been released, while the rest remain held in Aazaz. The families of the captives have held Turkey mainly responsible for their ongoing abduction, vowing to target Turkish interests in Lebanon in order to pressure Ankara to exert efforts to release the pilgrims. The kidnappers had demanded that female prisoners held in Syrian jails be released in exchange for the pilgrims.

FIBA to Consider Unfreezing Lebanon's Basketball Membership after Local Disputes Resolved
Naharnet/The local basketball team of Amchit dropped over the weekend a lawsuit that was at the heart of the country's basketball crisis that had prompted the world governing body for basketball, FIBA, to suspend its membership, reported LBCI television. FIBA accepted Amchit's decision to drop its lawsuit against the Lebanese Basketball Union, which will lead to the unfreezing of Lebanon's membership.
It will take a final decision on the case on Monday. Restoring the Lebanese national team will allow it to take part in the 27th Asian Championship set to take place in the Philippines from August 1-11.
FIBA's decision will also allow the team to continue its participation at the 35th William Jones Cup International Basketball Tournament held in Taiwan.
The basketball crisis in Lebanon began with disputes over elections within the union. The dispute took place between the Free Patriotic Movement, which backs the Champville basketball team, and an alliance of President Michel Suleiman, who backs the Amchit team, the Mustaqbal Movement, and caretaker Minister Mohammed al-Safadi. A dispute emerged during a league game between Champville and Amchit, which prompted judicial interference, which sided with the latter team, said LBCI. The union, which was dominated by FPM officials after the elections, considered the judicial interference as being politicized, which resulted in the suspension of the league. The union then requested that FIBA intervene to resolve the crisis. It demanded that the disputed sides end their problems by signing an understanding, which they failed to do.
This prompted it to threaten to suspend Lebanon's membership if the disputed parties did not drop respective lawsuits they had filed over this issue.
FIBA had rejected the judiciary's meddling in sports affairs. The local parties did not comply with the world governing body, forcing it to suspend Lebanon's membership even after it had given it a deadline extension to resolve its disputes. The basketball players meanwhile filed a petition rejecting that the sport become mired in political affairs. The dispute was however resolved on Saturday when the appeals court in Metn dropped Amchit's lawsuit in favor of the Lebanese Basketball Union, reported LBCI. Captain of Lebanon's national team Fadi al-Khatib thanked fans for supporting the sport, demanding an amendment to regulations to allow the development of professional athletes in accordance to world standards. He also vowed that Lebanon will qualify for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, said LBCI.


Shell from Syria Hits Israeli-Occupied Golan
Naharnet Newsdesk /A shell fired from Syria, where insurgents and government troops are locked in fierce fighting, exploded in the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights plateau on Sunday, an Israeli military spokeswoman told Agence France Presse. "A shell fired from Syria hit an open area near the Israel-Syria border in the northern Golan Heights," the spokeswoman said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
"Initial evidence suggests the shell was a result of errant fire from Syria. IDF (Israel defense forces) soldiers are currently searching the area," she said. "The U.N. forces operating in the area were notified of the incident."
The spokeswoman did not say what kind of shell exploded in Israel, but a security source told AFP it was a mortar round. The army spokeswoman noted that in the past 24 hours, two wounded Syrian men were taken into Israel for medical treatment. A spokesman for the Western Galilee Medical Center in the coastal town of Nahariya, where they were being treated, told AFP that both were suffering blows, not gun wounds, to their heads.
The two young men, one in moderate condition and the other moderate-to-serious condition, brought the total of Syrians who were treated at Nahariya hospital since the beginning of the violence in Syria more than two years ago to 24, all of them young men except for a woman and 13-year-old girl, the spokesman said. The Golan has been tense since the beginning of the conflict in Syria but so far there have only been minor flare-ups as Syrian small arms fire or mortar rounds hit the Israeli side, prompting an occasional Israeli response. Israel, which is technically at war with Syria, seized 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the strategic plateau during the 1967 Six-Day War, which it later annexed in a move never recognized by the international community.
Source/Agence France Presse.

Al-Sisi: Morsi Rejected Holding Referendum, People Only Source of Legitimacy
Naharnet/In his first remarks since Mohammed Morsi's ouster, Egypt's military chief said on Sunday the armed forces acted according to the will of the people because the former Islamist government had stumbled.
Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made his comments on the eve of another round of mass protests by Morsi's Islamist supporters who have accused the military of staging a coup and demanded the reinstatement of Egypt's first democratically elected president. The July 3 overthrow of Morsi has come under criticism from many in the international community because of concerns about its effect on Egypt's efforts to become a democracy following the February 2011 toppling of autocrat Hosni Mubarak's regime in a popular uprising. Al-Sisi said the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces respected the June 2012 elections that propelled Morsi to power with a narrow victory and tried to stay out of politics. But he said the military could no longer stand on the sidelines as millions of Egyptians took to the streets to call for the Islamist leader to step down because of allegations he was abusing his power. Al-Sisi said he reached out to Morsi through two envoys, including then Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, on more than one occasion urging him to hold a referendum on whether voters still supported his presidency, but the suggestion was rejected out of hand. "No one is a guardian of the public, and no one can dictate or force a path or thought that they don't accept," al-Sisi said in remarks to officers, which were reported by state-run media. "The armed forces sincerely accepted the choice of the people, but then political decision-making began stumbling and the armed forces took the view that any correction or adjustment must come from only one source and that is the legitimacy of the people." The decision led to mass demonstrations by his supporters and bloody clashes with security forces and rival protesters. Morsi's supporters have been holding a sit-in to demand his reinstatement as well as calling for the ousted president to be released from detention. He has been held by the army in an undisclosed location since his removal from office. The Muslim Brotherhood and allies called for more mass rallies nationwide on Monday. Source/Agence France PresseAssociated Press.

Fighting Traps Hundreds of Families in Damascus as Bomb Hits Police Station
Naharnet/Shelling killed at least 13 people on Sunday in the Damascus district of Qaboon, where fierce fighting between the army and rebels has trapped hundreds of families, a monitor said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported a car bomb detonated outside a police station in Damascus province, causing an unknown number of casualties. "The toll from shelling on Qaboon rose to 13 people," the Observatory said, adding three civilians and seven rebels were among the dead, and that three bodies had not yet been identified. The deaths came after the Observatory warned that hundreds of families were trapped in the northeastern district by fierce fighting between troops and rebel fighters. "There is a siege because regime snipers are posted on the outskirts of Qaboon and this makes any attempt to leave difficult," said the group. "The area has also been bombed by the army." Regime troops have been trying for months to dislodge rebels from rear-bases they have established in parts of the outskirts of Damascus.
Footage filmed by activists in Qaboon showed smoke rising from the area as the sound of non-stop artillery and mortar fire rings out. The Observatory said residents of the area were facing a "stifling" siege. "There's a major shortage of food and some families have nothing to feed their children with," it said. The Observatory also reported that dozens of people detained in an underground makeshift prison near a mosque in Qaboon escaped when regime forces guarding the site left to join the fighting. Overnight, the opposition National Coalition had urged the international community to act to free "200 people" they say are being held in the mosque.
Rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad's government control several neighborhoods on the outskirts of Damascus from which they are able to shell areas in the city center, which is still in regime control.
Forces loyal to Assad have for months been trying to uproot those rear-bases, including in Qaboon and Barzeh, in northern Damascus. Nearby, in Damascus province, the Observatory reported a car bomb detonated outside a police station in the town of Deir al-Attiya. "There are casualties, dead and injured, including from the police, but we don't know yet what the details are," Observatory director Rami Abdul Rahman told Agence France Presse.
The explosion caused heavy damage to the police station. The Observatory meanwhile reported that the Red Cross delivered 5,000 rations of food to Aleppo's central prison, which has been under siege by rebel forces for three months. "Rebels allowed them to bring in rations for the Muslim month of Ramadan," the Observatory said. At least 120 prisoners died in the facility in May alone as a result of shelling and food and medical shortages, according to the Observatory. Rebel forces have been seeking to capture the prison and free around 4,000 people inside, who include political prisoners as well as common criminals. The Observatory reported continued fighting throughout Syria on Sunday, including in the northwestern province of Idlib, where a man and his three children were killed by a helicopter gunship raid.Source/Agence France Presse.

Egypt Prosecutors Quiz Morsi over Prison Break
Naharnet /Investigators began questioning Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi and members of his Muslim Brotherhood on Sunday over their involvement in a 2011 prison break, judicial sources told AFP. The inquiry follows allegations that Morsi and senior Brotherhood members escaped from Wadi Natrun prison during the uprising that ended former president Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule. Investigators are examining whether foreign groups such as Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon's Hizbullah were involved in the jailbreak. State Security prosecution service investigators interviewed Morsi at an undisclosed location, the judicial sources said.
It came hours after the public prosecutor received complaints against Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders, accusing them of spying, inciting violence and damaging the economy. Morsi, who was overthrown by Egypt's powerful army on July 3, is being held in a "safe place", interim leaders have said. His supporters accuse the military of violating democratic principles by removing an elected leader from office, and have vowed to keep fighting for his reinstatement. The interim authorities are working to an army-drafted roadmap, and Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi is closer to forming a cabinet. Parliamentary and presidential elections are expected next year.
Source/Agence France Presse.

Syrian troops advance in Damascus
July 14, 2013/By Albert Aji
Associated Press/Daily Star
DAMASCUS: Government troops fired tank shells and artillery in heavy clashes between Syrian forces and rebels Sunday on the edge of Damascus, where the military has been pushing its offensive to retake key districts that have been in opposition hands for months.
The Syrian army has seized the momentum in the civil war over the past three months, wresting back territory lost to rebel forces and solidifying its hold over contested areas, particularly on the fringes of Damascus. Two of the embattled districts are Jobar and Qaboun, from which rebels frequently launch mortar rounds on the heart of the capital.
A Syrian military commander said forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have recaptured 60 percent of Jobar, south of Qaboun, and were trying to retake the rest. The commander talked to reporters Sunday during a military escorted tour of Jobar organized by the Information Ministry. His claim could not be independently verified.
An Associated Press reporter on the tour saw widespread destruction that pointed to heavy fighting in the neighborhood. Marble tile factories were destroyed. Reporters made their way in the devastated area by climbing through holes knocked in walls because of warnings of rebel snipers in the area.
At least two bodies, apparently those of rebel gunmen, lay on the floor of a bunker described by the official as a "terrorist" hideout.
"The army is advancing rapidly in Jobar ... the area will be secured in the next few days according to a well-studied plan," the commander said. He declined to be named in line with regulations.
Jobar is near the road linking Damascus with its eastern suburbs known as Eastern Ghouta. Rebels have been using the road to transport weapons and other supplies to the capital, the seat of Assad's power.
The commander said the Jobar-Qaboun axis was important to "cleanse Ghouta from terrorist groups."
Assad's government routinely describes the rebels fighting to overthrow him as terrorists playing out a foreign conspiracy hatched by Israel, the United States and some of its Arab allies in the region, like Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
During the tour of Jobar, reporters were taken to a hideout the army said it seized a day earlier after killing 30 rebels and their leader there. Reporters were shown RPG mortar rounds and explosive devices, as well as an alleged chemical material with a strong odor.
Arabic graffiti on the walls read: "The al-Tawhid Brigade," and "the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" - names of militant groups fighting to topple Assad.
Sunday's tour came as Syria's main Western-backed opposition group claimed that 200 civilians were trapped in a mosque in Qaboun as fighting raged outside between rebels and Assad's army. It warned that thousands of civilians in Qaboun could be "massacred" by Assad's army as armored vehicles and elite forces move in.
The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said dozens of people were held captive Saturday by regime forces in the basement of the al-Omari mosque, but they were able to escape when clashes broke out between rebel and regime forces in the perimeter of the mosque, and the troops retreated.
It said 13 people, including seven fighters, died in the shelling of Qaboun Sunday.
"They (troops) are using tanks and artillery and are trying to break into Qaboun. The shelling is very intense and there is a lot of smoke," said an activist in the area, speaking via Skype on condition of anonymity, fearing retribution.
"This is day 26 of a bombing campaign, and they still haven't been able to break Qaboun," he said.
In Washington, U.S. officials said Israel targeted advanced anti-ship cruise missiles near Syria's principal port city in an airstrike earlier this month, according to a report by The New York Times. It cited the officials as saying the attack on July 5 near Latakia targeted advanced Russian-made Yakhont missiles that Russia sold to Syria.
There was no immediate comment from Assad's government, whose key political ally and arms supplier is Russia.
Asked about the reports on the CBS-TV show "Face the Nation," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to confirm or deny Israeli involvement.
He insisted that he will not allow "dangerous weapons" to reach Lebanon's Hezbollah militants.

Egypt freezes assets of 14 top Islamists: judicial sources
July 14, 2013/Daily Star/Agence France Presse
CAIRO: Egypt's public prosecutor on Sunday ordered the freezing of assets belonging to 14 top Islamists as part of an investigation into deadly violence, judicial sources said.
The order by Hisham Barakat affects nine Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including the group's general guide Mohamed Badie, and five Islamists from other groups including ex-militant faction Gamaa Islamiya, the sources said.The investigation relates to four incidents since the military's ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on July 3, including clashes in Cairo last Monday in which 53 people died.

What’s more important, religion or politics?

Mshari Al-Zaydi/AsharqAlawsat/If you were to look for a common denominator between all the crises that the Arab world is currently witnessing, you would find it in the phenomenon of religious slogans. Different parties, movements, and organizations that are fighting—from Libya and the Sahara in the West to Iraq in the East, and passing through Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon—all use religious slogans, claiming to be the “true” representative and defender of religion against their enemies. Shi’ites, Sunnis and even Christians are raising the banners of religion in a truly demeaning and harmful manner. The problem is that these slogans are not interpreted into practical and pragmatic results on the ground. Human beings, after all, are concerned about the search for their daily bread, not to mention fuel and electricity; such things cannot be politicized. Amid this ruthless exploitation of religious feelings in the political arena, the danger lies in religion itself, particularly as those who oppose this will have no choice but to hold those who promote such false slogans to account.
In fact, religion is one’s profound identity, memory, culture and belief, not to mention a potential catalyst—and antidote—for atrocities. In brief, religion is the essence of identity, particularly in the Middle East. Therefore, religion is above political beliefs and ideology, or at least that is how it should be. Many scholars and jurists take this view and dread religion being used in politics, particularly as the failure of these politicized religious parties could be seen as a failure of the religion itself, at least in the eyes of their enemies.
Traditional religious scholars do not feel comfortable about such parties, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, either in the past or the present. Traditional religious scholars have fiercely criticized Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna, and later controversial Brotherhood ideologue Sayyed Qutb. Such criticisms persisted until recently, shortly before the eruption of the Arab Spring. There are also examples of criticisms against Hassan Al-Banna leveled by Salafist sheikh Nasiruddin Al-Albani in Syria, and more explicitly in Saudi Arabia by mufti Abdul-Aziz Bin Baz and jurist Muhammad Ibn Al-Uthaymeen.
Thus, Saudi Arabia has strongly “sensed” that such groups are doing great harm by abusing religion. This was clear to see in the public address made by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, as well as Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz, welcoming the start of the holy month of Ramadan. This address read: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia . . . will not allow religion to be exploited by extremists who only work for their personal interests, and who harm the reputation of Islam.” The statement added, “We will not accept anyone in our country, and in any circumstances, to join political parties which have nothing to do with God, and which only lead to conflict and failure.” The message is clear, not only to political groups abroad that promote religious slogans, but also to the people within Saudi Arabia as well.
The message is simple: We will not accept this.