June 10/2013

Bible Quotation for today/Jesus Blesses Little Children
Luke 15/15-17: "Some people brought their babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. The disciples saw them and scolded them for doing so, but Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Remember this! Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources 

Iran’s emergency plan for post-Assad era in Lebanon/By: Huda Al Husseini/Asharq Alawsat/June 10/13


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for June 10/13

One Killed, 11 Wounded in Scuffle near Iranian Embassy
Protester killed outside Iran embassy in Beirut
Demonstrators Protest Hizbullah's Involvement in Syria in Martyrs Square
Lebanon will 'pay cost' of Syrian conflict: Catholic cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran
Fighting Erupts Again in Central Tripoli's Old Souks
Army Starts Tearing Down Barricades in Tripoli
Syria rockets, shells strike north Lebanon
Hezbollah urges reason over Cabinet formation
Syrians celebrate Qusair victory: Hezbollah TV

Qabbani Says Attack on Saudi Mufti 'Offensive to All Muslims'
Constitutional Council Put to Test over Decision on Parliament Mandate Extension
Hizbullah's Qaouq Assures Entering Galilee 'Still Possible'

Saudi Urges Nationals in Lebanon to Abide by GCC Decision
Abou Faour Reiterates Calls on Arab Countries to Aid with Refugees Influx
Report: Nasrallah to Make Televised Speech Friday on 'Wounded Veterans Day'

Israel PM Says Sharp Rise in cyber Attacks from Iran through Hizbullah, Hamas
Jamaa Islamiya Slams Hizbullah's Intervention in Syria, Accuses it of Creating Sedition
Israel aims to stay out of Syria conflict despite Golan friction: Israeli PM

Gains by Syrian regime 'make peace talks harder': Hague
Syrian army prepares to advance on Aleppo

Spin doctoring at work after battle of Qusair
U.K. says eavesdropping is legal, defends U.S. spy links

Turkish protesters call more demos, PM defiant
Death toll from Libyan clashes rises to 31: doctor
Major Military Exercises under Way in Jordan
Syria Islamists Execute Youth in Front of Family
Netanyahu, Putin Discuss Syria Crisis

One Killed, 11 Wounded in Scuffle near Iranian Embassy

Naharnet /One person was killed on Sunday and at least eleven others were wounded in a scuffle between supporters of Hizbullah and protesters near the Iranian embassy in Beirut. The Demonstrators were holding a sit-in near the embassy in the Bir Hassan area south of Beirut, to protest Hizbullah's involvement in the war raging in Syria. According to LBCI, all the wounded belong to the Lebanese Option Party, which is led by the March 14 Shiite politician Ahmed Asaad. The channel said that the number of protesters was around 40-50 people. The state-run National News Agency identified the man who was killed as Hisham Salman Later the army command issued a communique confirming that “a person opened fire at protesters, who arrived at Bir Hassan area to hold a sit-in near the Iranian Embassy." According to the statement, the person swiftly died of his wounds. The army command noted that the army swiftly intervened and dispersed protesters to restore calm in the area. “The army is pursuing the person, who opened fire, to detain him and hand him over to the competent judicial authority,” the communique added. An army spokesman told Agence France Presse that Hizbullah partisans attacked the demonstrators. Although Lebanon has officially adopted a position of neutrality in Syria's war, its people are sharply divided with Hizbullah and its allies backing President Bashar Assad's regime and the March 14 alliance the rebellion. Syrian regime forces backed by elite Hizbullah fighters on Wednesday managed to recapture the strategic town of Qusayr near Lebanon's border from rebel hands following a fierce assault. And on Saturday the Eastern Bweida village, the last rebel bastion in the area, was seized by Syrian forces, bringing the entire Qusayr region near the border with Lebanon back under regime control. Only 10 kilometers from Lebanon, Qusayr is strategic for the regime and Hizbullah because of its proximity to the border and because it lies on a route linking Damascus to the the regime's bastion on the Syrian coast. For the rebels, it was an important conduit from Lebanon for men and weapons. The army urged on Friday "citizens to express their political views on events in Lebanon and Syria by peaceful and democratic means and not to be driven by groups wanting to use violence as a means to achieve their ends". The statement was the strongest from the Lebanese army since the uprising against Assad erupted in March 2011.


Protester killed outside Iran embassy in Beirut
June 09, 2013/9The Daily Star

BEIRUT: One protester was killed and several were injured Sunday outside the Iranian Embassy in the Lebanese capital as protesters prepared to demonstrate against Hezbollah’s military intervention in neighboring Syria. A Daily Star journalist on the scene saw men in black shirts with yellow ribbons around their arms shoving protesters away from the site as they exited buses some 200 meters from the embassy complex.
The protesters barely had time to raise their banners before they were beaten up, and several were injured with sticks, he said. Several of the men in black shirts then opened fire in the air to disperse the demonstrators. They fired over two dozen shots. In a statement, the Lebanese Army said a citizen was killed as a result of a fight outside the embassy.
“Upon the arrival of a convoy belonging to a political aide in Bir Hassan for a protest outside the Iranian Embassy over the ongoing events in Syria, a fight broke out between members of the convoy and some citizens during which one of the individuals opened fire using a pistol that led to the serious wounding of a citizen, who later died,” the military said.The protest had been planned and organized by the Lebanese Option Gathering, and the party’s founder, Ahmad al-Asaad, identified the fatality as Hashem Salman, who headed the party’s student committee. The National Liberal Party’s student wing released a statement shortly after condemning the incident outside the Iranian embassy and announcing their solidarity with the “free Shiites,” of the Gathering, a predominantly Shiite anti-Hezbollah party.
The National Liberal Party, known as the Ahrar, was at the time of the clashes taking part in an unrelated event in downtown Beirut that was also protesting Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria.
“What we did in Martyrs’ Square is just the beginning of our march in facing Hezbollah, which seeks hegemony over the state by dragging the flame of war in Syria into Lebanon,” the statement said.
Several hundred protesters gathered in Martyrs’ Square at noon despite a heavy security presence to protest against Hezbollah fighters battling with President Bashar Assad’s forces against the rebels.
Demonstrators carried the Lebanese national flag and the flag of the National Liberal Party as well as the flag of the Syrian opposition. Individual protesters could also be seen waving the Islamist and Turkish flags.
Although none of the major political parties mobilized their bases, many protesters said they had come with political groups, albeit as local or youth chapters.
"Hezbollah wants to drag us into a war that doesn't concern us," said Ali Ahmed, 19, a Future Movement supporter from al-Tarik al-Jadideh.
"I came to tell [Sayyed Hasan] Nasrallah...your battle is not in Syria, it's not in Qusair, it's not in Dariyah, your battle is in Palestine and south Lebanon, so don't bring a sectarian war to Syria," said Saad, a young Syrian from Aleppo, north Syria, who came with his family but declined to give his last name.
Rabieh Dandeshli, an official with Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, said he came to offer his personal support although the party was not officially participating in the demonstration.
"There is a silent majority in Lebanon who are against any Lebanese party interfering [in Syria]," he said, adding that Lebanese mobilization should be limited to assisting Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Both sides in the Syrian crisis have accused the other of relying on foreign intervention, with Qatar and other Gulf and Western states supporting the rebels, and Iran and Russia supporting Assad.
Hezbollah recently confirmed its own involvement in Syria’s two-year conflict, with Syrian government forces supported by Hezbollah fighters retaking the border town of Qusair on Wednesday after a three-week offensive against rebels there. Yet another protest was held Sunday afternoon by the Salvation Movement in front of the Saudi embassy in Beirut against what protesters described as Saudi "weakness" in guarding the interests of Sunnis. Protesters also held banners condemning Hezbollah's interference in Syria and Iranian political influence in the region.

Demonstrators Protest Hizbullah's Involvement in Syria in Martyrs Square
Naharnet/..The Lebanese for the Freedom and Dignity of the Syrian People gathering on Sunday held a sit-in in Martyrs Square in Beirut to protest Hizbullah's activities in the Syrian war amid tight security measures.
Al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Khaled Zahraman, March 14 general-secretariat member Charles Jabbour and activist Saleh al-Mashnouq participated in the sit-in. "Hizbullah's fighting in Syria fuels sectarian tension in the region,” warned Jabbour in a speech he gave during the protest, calling on the army to control the border with the neighboring country. Referring to Hizbullah, al-Mashnouq firmly rejected the “representative of Iran's” involvement in the Syrian war. He noted: “The Sunnis of Lebanon are those who support the Lebanon First slogan, and those who agree with Sayed Ali al-Amin and late Shiite Authority Ayatollah Mohammed Mahdi Shamseddine's statements.”
“The revolutionaries will emerge victorious from the war.”Meanwhile, LBCI television reported that another demonstration supporting Hizbullah's involvement in the Syrian war was supposed to take place in Downtown Beirut as well, but noted that “no one showed up” to the event. Syrian regime forces backed by elite Hizbullah fighters on Wednesday managed to recapture the strategic town of Qusayr near Lebanon's border from rebel hands following a fierce assault.And on Saturday the Eastern Bweida village, the last rebel bastion in the area, was seized by Syrian forces, bringing the entire Qusayr region near the border with Lebanon back under regime control.
Only 10 kilometers from Lebanon, Qusayr is strategic for the regime and Hizbullah because of its proximity to the border and because it lies on a route linking Damascus to the the regime's bastion on the Syrian coast.
Nasrallah had previously justified the group's involvement in Syria by saying they were defending Lebanese-inhabited border villages inside Syria and Shiite holy sites in the Damascus province.But during a May 25 speech marking the 13th anniversary of Israel's military withdrawal from Lebanon, Nasrallah said the hardline Takfiris are the “most prevailing group in the Syrian opposition,” warning against a defeat against them in the ongoing war in Syria. He said: “If Syria falls in the hands of the Takfiris and the United States, the resistance will become under a siege and Israel will enter Lebanon. If Syria falls, the Palestinian cause will be lost.”

Hizbullah's Qaouq Assures Entering Galilee 'Still Possible'

Naharnet/Hizbullah announced on Sunday that entering the occupied Galilee region in northern Israel is still possible, despite the current Syrian crisis and the party's involvement in it. "Despite the Syrian crisis and despite political and media pressures, the resistance today is at the highest levels of readiness,” declared top Hizbullah official Sheikh Nabil Qaouq during an event commemorating the one-week passing of Hizbullah fighter in Syria Hasan Ali Zahreddine in the southern town of Mais al-Jabal. He added: “Tens of thousands of Hizbullah fighters in the South are ready at any time to respond to an Israeli attack and emerge victorious from it, creating the Galilee equation that (Hizbullah chief) Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah had promised.”Nasrallah had said in July 2012 that “all options are on the table” regarding a confrontation with Israel, adding that the resistance might one day enter the Galilee region. Qaouq accused the March 14 alliance, particularly al-Mustaqbal Movement, of “inciting sectarian tensions to besiege the resistance,” promising not to allow "American dictations to form the cabinet in Lebanon."
"Al-Mustaqbal's slogan today is Free Syrian Army first,” he said. "As long as March 14 is betting on the fall of the Syrian regime, the crisis in Lebanon will continue to exist and as long as it wants to stab the resistance in the back, there won't be stability in the country and the cabinet, if formed, cannot be productive.” The Hizbullah official stressed: “They should stop their losing and conspiratorial bets.”"American dictations are controlling their tools in Lebanon to put conditions on Hizbullah,” Qaouq considered.
“But we will not allow the U.S. to have the upper hand in the cabinet's formation.”

Fighting Erupts Again in Central Tripoli's Old Souks

Naharnet/Clashes renewed on Saturday evening in the old souks in central Tripoli between rival armed groups despite a heavy deployment by the army and security forces in the city, state-run National News Agency said.
“Heavy gunfire was being heard in Khan al-Saboun, the gold market, Bab al-Hadid, al-Diftar Square and Souk al-Nahhasin,” NNA said. The renewal of the clashes comes after a gunfight on Friday between armed Salafists and gunmen loyal to Damascus and Hizbullah left one person dead and five others wounded. The army had managed to restore a tense calm in the area after shooting back at the sources of gunfire and deploying heavily in the conflict zone. The fighting in central Tripoli first erupted on Thursday, when one person was killed and seven others were hurt the clashes. The gunfight pitted members of al-Nashar family, loyal to Syria and Hizbullah, against armed Salafists from the Hajar family, who back the Syrian revolt. It was the first battle since 2008 in central Tripoli, although frequent Syria-related violence has raged in other districts.It comes after some three weeks of sectarian fighting in the flashpoint Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhoods, during which around 40 people were killed. The state-run National News Agency had reported cautious calm on Friday morning in the souk area after the military took control of bases from al-Nashar family. The clashes came after a security plan by the army managed to relatively contain the violence in the flashpoint districts of mainly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, whose majority of residents are Alawites. Troops have set up checkpoints in all neighborhoods in Tripoli and deployed heavily in Syria street that separates the flashpoint districts.
The fighting in Tripoli is linked to the war in Syria where a mostly Sunni-led uprising is seeking to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad, who is an Alawite.

Lebanon will 'pay cost' of Syrian conflict: Catholic cardinalJean-Louis Tauran
June 09, 2013/ By Jean-Louis de la Vaissiere /Daily Star /VATICAN CITY: Lebanon will "pay the cost" of the Syrian conflict, a top Roman Catholic cardinal said in an interview. "Where do the refugees go? The Christians go to Christian homes in Lebanon, the Druze go to Druze homes in Lebanon, the Alawites go to their relatives (in Lebanon)," said Jean-Louis Tauran, who was secretary of state under pope John Paul II. "This country already has the problem of Palestinian refugees, those from the civil war of the 1980s, and now those from Syria," the 70-year-old French cardinal added in the interview Friday.
More than 500,000 Syrians fleeing the conflict have sought refuge in Lebanon, which is increasingly being sucked into the war. "Lebanon will pay the cost. I've said that since the start" of the conflict, now in its third year, said the cardinal, who as the most senior cardinal in the order of deacons had the honour of announcing the election of Pope Francis in March. We have always said, save Lebanon in order to save the Christians, and not save the Christians to save Lebanon. It has a heritage of inter-faith dialogue and conviviality." Syria dominated Lebanon politically and militarily for 30 years until 2005, and continues to exercise significant influence through its allies.
On Friday, the Lebanese army warned a plot was being hatched to embroil Lebanon in the Syrian war.

Syrian army prepares to advance on Aleppo
June 09, 2013 /By Olivia Alabaster, Lauren Williams The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Damascus allies claimed Sunday that the Syrian army has launched a new offensive to win back largely rebel held Aleppo and the surrounding areas, but an activist group said they saw no developments on the ground.
After being boosted by its victory in the strategic border town of Qusair last week, Syrian state media said Sunday that the army had “inflicted heavy losses upon terrorist groups” near the Minnagh airbase outside of Aleppo.
Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s media channel, reported that the army’s “Northern Storm” operation had started Sunday morning, aimed at “regaining Aleppo and its countryside.” Iran’s Press TV and Russia Today echoed this report.
But according to AFP, the assault on Aleppo, once Syria’s commercial center, had not yet begun.
According to a Syrian security source, "It is likely the battle for Aleppo will start in the coming hours or days, and its aim is to reclaim the towns and villages (under rebel control) in the province.”Rami Abdel-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, said he had as yet received no reports of developments on the ground.
“Shelling in many areas around the city continues as normal, but I don’t see anything special. There is no change on the ground.”The Observatory is based in Britain, but relies on a wide network of activists on the ground for its information. Mohammad Aleppo, an independent activist now based in Turkey who works with a range of Syrians still in the country, said that rebels and the army were clashing at an important hillside area to the northwest of the city of Aleppo, Ma'arrat al-Artek, in the Al-Rashideen area.
“There have been heavy clashes there for the last three days,” he told The Daily Star. “It keeps changing hands, but if the army were able to secure it then they would be able to advance on the city itself,” he added.
Pro-regime daily Al-Watan said Sunday the army has "started to deploy at a large scale in Aleppo province, in preparation for a battle that will be fought in the city and its outskirts".Rebels in July last year launched a massive assault on Aleppo, once Syria's commercial hub. The city has suffered daily regime bombardment and clashes pitting insurgents against troops.
Al-Watan also said "the Syrian army will take advantage of its experience in Qusair and Eastern Ghouta (near Damascus) to advance in the (central) province of Hama and Homs" nearby. "The consequences of the battle for Qusair will... map out the contours of Syria's political future," the daily added.
On Sunday, British Foreign Minister William Hague said that recent army gains will make it harder to organize Geneva 2 peace talks, or to ensure that the conference will be a success. In remarks to BBC television, Hague said that it was "worrying and depressing" that the so-called Geneva talks were not taking place this month, and repeated his warning that the world must do more to help the people of Syria. "The regime has gained ground on the ground, again at the cost of huge loss of life and the indiscriminate use of violence against the civilian population," Hague said. "That makes the Geneva conference harder to bring about and to make a success. It makes it less likely that the regime will make enough concessions in such negotiations, and it makes it harder to get the opposition to come to the negotiations.
"The way the position on the ground is changing in Syria at the moment isn't helping us bring about a political and diplomatic (solution)." The U.S. and Russia brokered an agreement for peace talks to be held soon, between the regime and the opposition, but the latter has refrained from committing to attend, stipulating that Hezbollah must first withdraw from Syria, and that President Bashar Assad must agree to stand down.
Also in Aleppo on Sunday, Rahman said, an Islamic extremist rebel group shot dead a 15-year-old boy after he was heard cursing. On the southern edge of the border with Iraq, rebels Sunday opened fire on two Iraqi border posts, killing one guard and wounding two others, officials said.
The Syrian side of the Al-Waleed border crossing remains under Assad’s control, but rebels have been trying to win control of it for the last few months.
Heavy fighting also occurred last week on the Syrian border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, with rebels temporarily winning control of the Quneitra border post.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that despite the violence in the Golan, "Israel is not getting involved in the civil war in Syria, as long as the fire is not directed at us." Speaking to his Cabinet in broadcast remarks, Netanyahu added that "The crumbling of the U.N. force on the Golan drives home the fact that Israel cannot rely on international forces for its security," Netanyahu said.
Quneitra is the only crossing point between Syria and the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, which was seized by the Jewish state during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in a move never recognized by the international community. After last week’s fighting, Austria – a major contributor to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the area – said it would withdraw its troops from the Golan. Russia then said t could make up any gaps left by Austria. Also Sunday, Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed this offer by phone.
"We discussed issues linked to Syria where the situation is becoming more complex by the day," Netanyahu said in remarks communicated by his office.
Putin on Friday offered to send Russian troops to bolster the depleted UNDOF.
But under the terms of the 1974 agreement which established the peacekeeping force, no troops from the permanent five members of the UN Security Council can participate. The idea was also ruled out on Sunday by Israel's minister for international relations. "The idea of Putin sending Russian troops to the Golan in place of the Austrian troops in the force is not feasible," Yuval Steinitz said at the start of the cabinet meeting, in remarks quoted by army radio.

Hezbollah urges reason over Cabinet formation
The Daily Star /BEIRUT: Members of the March 14 alliance risk destabilizing the country if they continue to set conditions over the formation of the next government, caretaker Minister of State Mohammad Fneish warned over the weekend. “We say to them: [March 14 members] Don't raise ceilings [set conditions] you can’t protect because this country cannot bear being ruled without partnership, agreement and balance and any other talk will plunge the country into an open crisis and therefore you will be held responsible for any threat to peace and stability,” Fneish said Sunday. The Future Movement, the leading political party in the March 14 alliance, has called for the formation of a non-partisan government that would exclude all major political parties. The March 8 coalition insists on veto power.
Fneish said setting conditions would also jeopardize the everyday needs of the people and that the opposition groups would too be held responsible “because the people need a government and institutions that can at the bare minimum resolve the social and [economic] issues because there are many problems in Lebanon.”
He urged the opposition groups “not to set conditions or propose anything that excludes the participation of this or that party in the government for you are not in a position to set such conditions.”
“Be reasonable and let’s discuss things realistically,” he added. The Hezbollah MP said his party sought only stability in the country, adding that “We don't move forward with any [operation] except after we see some danger to the resistance project as happened in Qusair and its outskirts.”

Israel aims to stay out of Syria conflict despite Golan friction: Israeli PM
Daily Star. Agencies.JERUSALEM: Israel aims to stay out of Syria's civil war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, despite violence eroding security on the Golan Heights border area.
The strategic plateau, most of which has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 war, saw fierce fighting last week between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces and Syrian rebels near the armistice line patrolled by U.N. peacekeepers. "Israel is not getting involved in the civil war in Syria, as long as the fire is not directed at us," Netanyahu told his cabinet in broadcast remarks.
Israel has conducted at least three air strikes on suspected Syrian depots for weaponry in transit to Lebanon's Hezbollah militia and its forces have occasionally shelled Syrian positions in response to shooting at the Israeli side of the Golan. Austria, a major contributor to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), said last week it would withdraw its troops from Golan due to the worsening fighting in Syria, putting the mission in doubt. Netanyahu used the situation on the Golan to buttress his long-standing call for an Israeli military presence along the eastern Jordan River border of any future Palestinian state.
"The crumbling of the U.N. force on the Golan drives home the fact that Israel cannot rely on international forces for its security," Netanyahu said.
He said he would raise the issue with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, expected to return to the region in the coming week to try to revive talks on Palestinian statehood.
Israeli cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz said: "We are seeing now what the Austrian forces on the Golan Heights are worth. Israel cannot trust international forces, and sometimes, as it happens, their presence during crises is more burdensome than useful." Netanyahu said he had spoken during the weekend with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Syria, but gave no details. Moscow is Assad's main big-power ally, whose advanced arms supplied to Damascus worry Israel. A Russian offer to replace Austrian peacekeepers on the Golan was turned down on Friday by the United Nations as the mandate excludes permanent members of the Security Council.


Israel PM Says Sharp Rise in cyber Attacks from Iran through Hizbullah, Hamas
Naharnet /Israel has been the target of a growing number of cyber attacks from Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
"In recent months, we have identified a significant rise in the scope of cyber attacks by Iran which are carried out directly by Iran and its proxies Hizbullah and Hamas," he told a cyber security conference at Tel Aviv University.
"The targets are essential systems," he said without elaborating, in remarks communicated by his office. "We are building the capability to deal with the attacks and we are holding back most of them while aspiring to build a 'digital Iron Dome'," he said of Israel's vaunted missile defense system. Israel has come under repeated cyber attack in recent years and has set up a dedicated government unit to combat this. In April, the Shin Bet domestic security agency reported what it said was a mass assault by hacker groups, although it caused only negligible damage. In November, Israel said it was hit by an "unprecedented" cyber-warfare campaign as it waged an eight-day operation against Gaza militants. At the time, the activist group Anonymous claimed it had downed or erased the databases of nearly 700 Israeli sites in protest against the offensive. SourceAgence France Presse.


U.K. says eavesdropping is legal, defends U.S. spy links

 June 09, 2013/Daily Star/LONDON: Britain said eavesdropping by its GCHQ security agency was legal and no threat to privacy but would not confirm or deny reports it received data from a secret U.S. intelligence program. British and U.S. newspapers have suggested that the U.S. National Security Agency handed over information on Britons gathered under the PRISM programme. In his first remarks on the subject, Foreign Secretary William Hague said the two countries did share intelligence but that GCHQ's work was governed by a very strong legal framework."The idea that in GCHQ people are sitting around working out how to circumvent a UK law with another agency in another country is fanciful," Hague told BBC TV on Sunday."It is nonsense". Promising he would give a statement on the subject to the lower house of Britain's parliament on Monday, Hague said there was no threat to privacy or people's civil liberties. He said was limited in what he could disclose."Of course we share a lot of information with the United States," he said, adding that the two countries enjoyed "an exceptional intelligence sharing relationship"."But if information arrives in the UK from the U.S. it's governed by our laws."Britain's two-party coalition government is under pressure to reveal more details of how Britain and the United States share intelligence after the reports, based on a leak, suggested such cooperation ran much deeper than was previously known. Critics said the collaboration amounted to a "snoopers' charter by the back door", accusing the security services of having much greater access to Britons' phone and electronic communications than allowed under British law thanks to the clandestine U.S. programme.
But Hague said such fears were misplaced.
"Intelligence gathering in this country, by the UK, is governed by a very strong legal framework so that we get the balance right between the liberties and privacy of people and the security of the country."
Any intelligence gathering was "authorised, necessary, proportionate and targeted," he added, saying he personally authorised GCHQ intercepts "most days of the week".
There is public debate in Britain about giving the security services more powers to eavesdrop after a British soldier was brutally killed in London last month in an incident the government described as a "terrorist" attack.
Douglas Alexander, the opposition Labour party's spokesman for foreign affairs, welcomed Hague's promise to address parliament on the subject, but said he needed to be more open. "I will be asking the Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons tomorrow to clarify the role of his Department in overseeing those legal frameworks," Alexander said in a statement. "It is vital that the Government now reassures people who are rightly concerned about these reports." Britain's parliamentary intelligence and security committee has demanded a report from GCHQ on the subject. By coincidence, its members are due in Washington on Monday to conduct talks with lawmakers and officials in the U.S. intelligence community.
Hague said most Britons had nothing to fear.
"If you are a law-abiding citizen of this country ... you'll never be aware of all the things those (intelligence) agencies are doing to stop your identity being stolen or to stop a terrorist blowing you up tomorrow," he said.
"But if you are a would-be terrorist or the centre of a criminal network or a foreign intelligence agency trying to spy on Britain you should be worried because that is what we work on and we are on the whole quite good at it."
Reports about the apparent sophistication and long reach of U.S. surveillance have also caused anxiety in continental Europe, particularly in Germany, where there are memories of the former East Germany's Stasi intelligence service.The country's data commissioner has said he expects the government to put a stop to any American surveillance of German citizens, while worried lawmakers from across the political spectrum have said they want to know more."No one has a problem with the USA keeping terrorists under surveillance - that has prevented terrorist attacks in Germany before now too," said Thomas Oppermann, a senior lawmaker from the opposition Social Democrats (SPD). "(But) total surveillance of all citizens by the USA is completely inappropriate. The German government must protect the privacy of Germans from the USA too."
President Barack Obama is due to visit Germany later this month and both the SPD and the opposition Greens have urged Chancellor Angela Merkel to raise the issue with him.
"This affair looks like it will be one of the biggest scandals in data sharing ... Merkel cannot just look away and act like nothing has happened," Renate Kuenast, a senior Green lawmaker, told Reuters.
In Switzerland, at least one lawmaker has demanded that Internet giant Google be forced to be more transparent about the user data it retains. In neighbouring France, reaction has been more muted so far though rights groups have criticised the French authorities in the past over their ability to filter, censor and block some websites without a court's approval. The French authorities are themselves preparing to roll out an electronic data gathering system to help investigators.

Iran’s emergency plan for post-Assad era in Lebanon

By: Huda Al Husseini/Asharq Alawsat
The Syrian regime is acting as if it will survive forever and is seeking to cement ties with its allies for numerous objectives—none of which are positive.
Iran and Hezbollah, despite all the evidence that proves they both adhere to the one objective of velayat-e faqih [governance by a supreme jurist], are acting on the basis that the Syrian regime will fall, no matter how long it will take or how much is sacrificed. There have recently been talks about Russian arms deals with Syria—but most importantly, S-300 surface-to-air missiles have yet to arrive. However, according to the New York Times and other international newspapers, SA-17 surface-to-air missiles and sophisticated Yakhont anti-ship missiles have already arrived. The missiles are about 22 feet long each, have a range of about 180 miles and carry high-explosive warheads.
In the interview he gave to the Argentinean Clarín newspaper, Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad said he will provide Hezbollah with sophisticated arms. Later on, Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah revealed that his troops are fighting publicly in Qusayr, thus disapproving the theory that the army, the people, and the resistance are in Lebanon. Nasrallah also said that secret plans are currently underway to transport Yakhnont missiles to Hezbollah and Iran as soon as possible, in view of the Syrian Army’s loss of many of its military bases and weapons systems.
The Syrian regime’s decision to transfer these missiles to its Iranian ally was made in view of the fact that Iran is posing a real threat to Western presence in the Gulf, as well as to the trade activities in the Mediterranean. In such circumstances, and in view of the continual fighting within Syria, Western and Arab states and Israel are anticipating the arrival of sophisticated Russian weaponry to Syria, as well as efforts to transport them to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
In the meantime, both Iran and Hezbollah are preparing to engage in the struggle over Lebanon following Assad’s ouster. The parties have endeavored to strip Hezbollah of its Lebanese identity, exposing the fact that Hezbollah is carrying out the orders of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (It has recently been noticed that Lebanese flags have disappeared at Hezbollah events, and that the platforms on which Hezbollah’s leaders stand, either to lament their victims or justify their party’s interference in Qusayr, present two huge portraits of both the original supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Khamenei.) There is, in fact, an implicit Iranian acknowledgment that the Syrian regime will fall. Thus, senior state officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran are well aware that Iran’s next main foothold will be Lebanon.
In view of such an assessment, senior officials in Iran and in Hezbollah have drawn up a plan for what comes after Assad’s fall. The plan’s key points incorporate transporting their joint headquarters from Syria to Iran, preparing an air bridge to transport arms from Tehran to Beirut, and targeting anyone who is not a political ally in order to intimidate and silence them.
In early March 2013, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, Qassim Solimani, and the secretary-general of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, agreed to embark on the first stage of the strategic Emergency Plan that was prepared last year with the aim of maintaining Tehran’s political and military influence in Lebanon. Information was leaked regarding preparations currently underway to move the headquarters of the general leadership to Tehran to serve as a place for Iranian experts in the political and strategic military domain. Iran’s participation will incorporate representatives of the ministries of foreign affairs and intelligence, apart from the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) troops under the leadership of the commander of the Lebanon Brigade, Hassan Mahdawi. The Lebanese participation includes representatives of Hezbollah, who will be in direct contact with the secretary-general’s senior security consultant.
The main objective of the Emergency Plan drawn up by the Iranian Supreme Council for National Security, assisted by elements from Hezbollah who participated in strategic planning, is to undermine the Lebanese opposition, which will attempt to benefit from Assad’s possible fall to destabilize the internal strategic front in Lebanon (supported by Hezbollah) aiming at undermining its internal influence.
From an Iranian viewpoint, given its detachment from Syria and Lebanon, Iran can become a decisive state through which the country can become capable of dominating the Arab region.
As for Hezbollah, it is concerned about the eruption of possible popular uprisings against it on the day Assad is overthrown, similar to the protests of March 14, 2005.
With regards to the military part of the plan, the first practical step will be building an intensive air bridge to transport arms and riot control equipment. According to directives, the IRGC must be prepared to rapidly prepare jets and equipment and send them directly to Beirut International Airport.
Lebanese reports indicate that Hezbollah’s trend of containing its sympathizers from within the Lebanese army continues unabated. In this endeavor, Hezbollah is assisted by some senior officials and the fact that the Lebanese army refrains from confrontations with Hezbollah’s leaders. The reports added that Hezbollah is working towards strengthening its own intelligence unit so as to abort any possible plan by the Lebanese opposition, which includes training private combat groups to quell riots.
The Emergency Plan’s second operational stage, which both Hezbollah and Iran can jointly undertake, is focused primarily on sharply dividing the Lebanese political arena. What Hezbollah and Iran aspire to achieve, following the cancellation of elections and extending the term of the current parliament, is the “one-third quorum” in the parliament with regards to all the Lebanese government’s decisions. Among the plan’s objectives for the Lebanese opposition is branding them as traitors and intimidating them by all means possible to eventually reach a state of terror and complete silence. Furthermore, Hezbollah has its own plan to control the government, communication and infrastructure facilities in Lebanon. The plan aims at strengthening security in areas with Hezbollah presence in southern Beirut, as well as on all highways that link the south with the capital. Whenever necessary, the entire capital city can even be dominated militarily.
The secret Emergency Plan was drawn up on the basis that the Iranian Security Office is aware that all civil activities Tehran has undertaken towards Lebanon in the past two years have failed to accomplish the desired results. During this period, Iran—whether unilaterally or jointly with Hezbollah—worked towards expanding political, economic and militarily cooperation with Lebanon.
With regards to the military, on several occasions Iran expressed its wish to expand security cooperation with Lebanon and to assist with arming the army. This bait was refused by Lebanon, and so Iran did not succeed in strengthening its influence over the resentful majority there; on the contrary, the Iranian manner of conduct and all its proposals were sharply and overtly criticized in Lebanon. This is despite the courtesy Lebanese senior state officials have shown when receiving Iranian guests.
Perhaps when these emergency plans were prepared, there was only little hope that they would ever be applied. Even during the July 2006 war, and despite the subsequent destruction, the Lebanese people accepted Hezbollah’s discourse regarding the causes of the war. Yet the involvement in Syria has intimidated the majority of the Lebanese people and has made them wonder who will bear the consequences of this involvement. Hezbollah’s reasons for this came successively: from defending “holy sites” and Sayeda Zainab district, to defending Shi’ite villages inside the Syrian border that are inhabited by Lebanese, to defending Assad regime against the so-called takfirist attack.
But who said that all everyone in Qusayr is a takfiri? The final cause for interference was defending Lebanon to avoid its elimination. (MP Nawwaf Al-Mousawi said last Sunday that the war is an American–Israeli attempt, along with the participation of European and Arab regimes, that aims to overthrow the Syrian state, making it a toy in the hands of the Americans and the Israelis.)
Finally, Sheikh Naim Qassem said the decision to participate in the war is a strategic one. Contrarily, it was odd of Mosawi to say the “objective of the struggle now is to tear apart Islamic unity and promote Islamic factions to fight one another.” The question to be raised here is: Hezbollah got caught in such an awful trap, but what will the result be?