LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Quotation for today/A
Matthew 15 /21-28: "Jesus left that place and went off to the territory near the cities of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman who lived in that region came to him. “Son of David!” she cried out. “Have mercy on me, sir! My daughter has a demon and is in a terrible condition. ”But Jesus did not say a word to her. His disciples came to him and begged him, “Send her away! She is following us and making all this noise! ”Then Jesus replied, “I have been sent only to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.”At this the woman came and fell at his feet. “Help me, sir!” she said. Jesus answered, “It isn't right to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs.” “That's true, sir,” she answered, “but even the dogs eat the leftovers that fall from their masters' table.” So Jesus answered her, “You are a woman of great faith! What you want will be done for you.” And at that very moment her daughter was healed.
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources
Opinion: Obama, isolationist
in Syria/Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat/ June
The Arab Spring dubbed in Turkish/By: Diana Moukalled/Asharq Alawsat/June 11/13
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for June 11/13
The Gulf Cooperation Council
(GCC) Announces Adopting Measures against Hizbullah
Hashem Salman Laid to Rest in Adloun after Hizbullah, AMAL Refuse Burying Him in Local Cemetery
Death at anti-Hezbollah rally spurs stability fears
Analysts: Hizbullah's Intervention in Syria Risks Regional Chaos
Lieberman Criticizes EU for Failing to Blacklist Hizbullah
President Slieman Uurges Hezbollah, Iran cooperation over protest killing
Roadside bomb damages vehicles in east Lebanon
Death at anti-Hezbollah rally spurs stability fears
Lebanese football referees sentenced in Singapore
Lebanon’s beaches swimming with waste
Kataeb: Salam should stop delaying Cabinet formation
Salam should form Cabinet or step down: Geagea
Report: GCC, Lebanon Ties Heading to Further Deterioration
Geagea Lashes Out at Hizbullah's Role in Syria, Describes Party as 'Illegal'
The Rains of History
Constitutional Council Likely to Accept Parliament Extension Challenges amid Warning by Berri
KSA Condemns Hizbullah's 'Blatant Interference' in Syria
Red Cross Convoy Carrying Qusayr Wounded Interrupted in Bekaa, Changes Route
Phalange Fears Salam 'Stays a PM-Designate', Urges Quick Cabinet Formation
Khalil Warns: Number of Syrians Seeking Treatment in Lebanon Exceeds Country's Capacity
Jumblat Denounces Incident Near the Iranian Embassy, Says it is 'Barbaric'
Qusayr Wounded Make Grueling Trek to Lebanon
Madi Retires, Hands over Prosecutor's Helm to Hammoud
U.S. to weigh arming Syrian rebels, U.S. official says
Syrian army prepares for Aleppo battle
Syria rebels advance on key Aleppo airbase: activists
Qusair refugees overwhelm Bekaa Valley town of Arsal
Moscow sets up Russian Golan brigade, warns Israel Sunnis plus al Qaeda are bigger threat than Assad
Turkish protesters hold fast despite PM's warning
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Announces Adopting Measures against Hizbullah Members
Naharnet/The Gulf Cooperation Council has decided to adopt several measures against Hizbullah members in the council's member-states as a response to the party's involvement in the Syrian crisis, Al-Jazeera satellite television reported on Monday. "The GCC strongly condemns the party's involvement in the fighting in Syria,” Al-Jazeera noted, adding that the council announced adopting measures against Hizbullah members regarding their stay permits and their financial transactions in the member-states.The council also urged the Lebanese cabinet to assume its responsibilities regarding “the party's behavior and activities” in the Syrian crisis, according to Al-Jazeera. On Wednesday, Bahrain launched investigations and started gathering information about “Hizbullah's interests” in the kingdom ahead of taking “measures” against them. “These investigations are part of the steps being taken as a result of designating Hizbullah as a terrorist organization by the Kingdom of Bahrain,” Bahrain's state news agency said. The Gulf Cooperation Council recently announced that member states will consider Hizbullah as a terrorist organization and will look into the activities of the party's members in the Gulf region. Hizbullah fighters spearheaded a devastating 17-day assault on the Syrian town of Qusayr near the Lebanese border which culminated on Wednesday with its recapture from the rebels. The party's chief Sayyed Hasan 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. But during a May 25 speech marking the 13th anniversary of Israel's military withdrawal from Lebanon, Nasrallah said the 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.”
Hashem Salman Laid to Rest in Adloun
after Hizbullah, AMAL Refuse Burying Him in Local Cemetery
Naharnet/Lebanese Option Party member Hashem Salman was buried on Monday in the southern city of Adloun after Hizbullah and AMAL Movement rejected laying him to rest in the town's cemetery. "Both parties rejected burying Salman in Aldoun's cemetery or allowing his family to receive condolences in the local husseiniya,” MTV reported. The same sources noted, however, that the family of Lebanese Option Party leader Ahmed Asaad has offered Salman's family a piece of land to bury their son. Meanwhile, LBCI television revealed that the security forces have not yet contacted Salman's family to follow-up on the case. It also remarked that the victim's family refused to discuss Sunday's incidence with the media. "We refuse the use of Salman's death for political interests,” the family expressed. “We also reject the statement released by the Salman clan in the (southern) villages of Markaba, Akbieh, Adloun and Dardghia that hold Asaad responsible for Sunday's incident.” Future television pointed out that the funeral took place amid an atmosphere of anger and that “no flags, pictures or banners were held.” Salman 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 television, all the wounded belong to the Lebanese Option Party, which is led by the March 14 Shiite politician Ahmed Asaad.
President Suleiman Urges Iranian
Embassy, Hizbullah to Cooperate in Probe into Assault on Protesters
Naharnet/President Michel Suleiman urged on Monday the Iranian embassy and Hizbullah to help investigators uncover the details of a deadly attack on protesters in the Hizbullah stronghold of Beirut's southern suburbs.
In a statement issued by Baabda palace, Suleiman stressed “the importance of the cooperation of citizens and the region's parties mainly Hizbullah, and the Iranian embassy to facilitate the mission of specialized agencies in revealing the circumstances” of the incident. The president said unveiling the truth behind Sunday's attack would “prevent the recurrence of similar incidents.”On Sunday, Hizbullah members wielding batons assaulted protesters from the Lebanese Option Party and killed one of them after shooting him in the abdomen outside the Iranian embassy in the neighborhood of Bir Hassan. The demonstrators had barely time to stage their rally near the mission when they came under attack by the Hizbullah members who were wearing black shirts with yellow ribbons around their arms. Suleiman telephoned acting General Prosecutor Judge Samir Hammoud and other security officials to speed up the investigation into the incident and “arrest the wrongdoers and the instigators,” said the presidential statement. The Lebanese Option Party is headed by Ahmed al-Asaad, a Shiite politician who is a fierce critic of Hizbullah. The head of al-Mustaqbal movement, ex-PM Saad Hariri, telephoned al-Asaad on Monday to condole him over the death of the protester, who was the head of the party's student committee.
He condemned the attack and said the Lebanese reject turning Hizbullah's strongholds into “security reserves.”
Death at anti-Hezbollah rally spurs stability fears
June 10, 2013/Stephen Dockery, Mohammed Zaatari /The Daily Star
BEIRUT/SIDON: Fears over the country’s stability grew Sunday after an anti-Hezbollah protester was killed and several others were injured outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut in one of three rallies staged to protest the party’s involvement in the Syria war. The victim, identified as Hashem Salman, 28, belonged to the Lebanese Option Party, a fierce Hezbollah critic. Later in the day, a large anti-Hezbollah rally in the city of Sidon drew about 10,000 people, including 2,500 Syrians, but took place without incident. Addressing the rally at Sidon stadium, and protected by police and 750 security personnel from Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, which organized the event, speakers denounced Hezbollah for sending hundreds of its men to fight alongside regime forces against Syrian rebels. The protest outside the Iranian Embassy was organized by the Lebanese Option Party, which is headed by Ahmad al-Asaad, a Shiite politician from south Lebanon. The embassy is located in Bir Hassan, a predominantly pro-Hezbollah district south of Beirut.
A number of Hezbollah supporters, wearing black shirts and yellow ribbons around their arms and wielding batons, shoved the 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.
Several of the men in black shirts then fired over two dozen shots in the air to disperse the demonstrators.
The Lebanese Army said a man was killed as a result of a clash.“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 Army said in a statement.
Local TV reports said Salman, who headed the Lebanese Option Party’s student committee, was shot twice in the leg, once in the back, and was hit on the head with a baton.
“Hashem Salman is a Shiite and his father and great-grandfathers are Shiites. They killed him because he disagreed with their [Hezbollah’s] opinion,” a furious Asaad said.The embassy protest coincided with another small rally at Martyrs’ Square in Downtown Beirut that also condemned Hezbollah’s military intervention in the 2-year-old civil war in Syria.
Some 100 protesters, including Syrians waving the Syrian opposition flag, gathered under a large banner reading: “Rejecting Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria.”
One of those addressing the rally was Saleh Mashnouk, a son of Future Movement MP Nouhad Mashnouk, whose parliamentary bloc supports the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.“Those fighting in Syria are not Lebanese. Their culture, their flag, money and weapons are Iranian,” said Mashnouk, an outspoken critic of Hezbollah. “We are here to wipe out the shame that struck Lebanon because of them.”
The low turnout at the Martyrs’ Square rally was blamed on stringent security measures taken by the Lebanese Army following reports that Hezbollah and its March 8 allies were planning to hold a rival demonstration at the same location.
Although no major political parties mobilized their supporters for the event, 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 Ahmad, 19, a Future Movement supporter from Beirut’s Tariq al-Jadideh neighborhood.
“I came to tell [Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan] Nasrallah ... your battle is not in Syria, it’s not in Qusair, it’s not in Deraa. 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 even though 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.
The National Liberal Party’s student wing condemned the incident outside the Iranian Embassy and announced its solidarity with the Lebanese Option Party’s “free Shiites.”
The Free Shiite Movement, an anti-Hezbollah group, condemned Salman’s killing at the hands of what it called “Hezbollah’s shabbiha,” a term used by Syrian rebels to refer to Assad’s militiamen.
“It saddens us to see the resistance party turn into a killer militia that exercises brutality and sheds the blood of the oppressed and Muslims,” the movement said in a statement.
Hezbollah has confirmed its involvement in the Syrian fighting. Syrian government forces, backed by Hezbollah fighters, last week captured the rebel-held strategic town of Qusair near the Lebanese border after a three-week offensive against Syrian rebels.
Elsewhere, a protest was held Sunday afternoon by the Salvation Movement outside 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 Iran’s political influence in the region.
– Additional reporting by Meris Lutz
Geagea Lashes Out at Hizbullah's Role
in Syria, Describes Party as 'Illegal'
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea slammed on Monday Hizbullah's intervention Syria, considering that the party surpassed the state's decision, canceled its existence and described it as an “illegal” party.
“The Lebanese fear Hizbullah's endeavors in Syria and it's clearly stated goals that toppled the constitution and the Lebanese law,” Geagea said in an interview with An Nahar newspaper. Hizbullah's intervention in Syria and its major role in taking over the Syrian town of al-Qusayr by government troops threatens to bring that country's conflict even further into Lebanon, where rebels have vowed to retaliate with attacks on the Shiite group's home turf.
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 Christian leader lashed out at Hizbullah's supporters, saying that “several protests took place near foreign embassies in Lebanon, in particular the U.S. and French embassies, but none of the demonstrations ended like Sunday's sit-in near the Iranian embassy” in Bir Hassan area south of Beirut.
He considered that Hashem Salman, the Lebanese Option Party supporter who was killed on Sunday near the Iranian embassy, “paid the price of Freedom in Lebanon.”
“This is Hizbullah's actual nature and this is the violent community it represents,” Geagea added. On Sunday, Hizbullah protagonists wearing black shirts and yellow ribbons around their arms beat up the Lebanese Option Party protesters near the Iranian embassy without giving demonstrates any warning. Salman, who was the head of the party's student committee, was killed and at least 11 others wounded in the clash. Concerning the process of cabinet formation, Geagea expressed hope that Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam would form his cabinet this week or give the chance to another person to do so.
“We have to confront the non-state concept that some party's adopt,” Geagea told An Nahar. He stressed that the March 14 alliance backs the state and will take a series of endeavors to press the formation of the government. “If Hizbullah rejects the formation of the cabinet then it's the party's concern. It's not the majority of the people,” Geagea said, describing it as an “illegal” and “unconstitutional” party.
The PM-designate's efforts to form a new government came to a halt in recent weeks in light of the dispute over the extension of parliament's mandate and the political powers' failure to reach an agreement over a new parliamentary electoral law. Salam will launch new consultations with various political powers to garner their views over the new government after the legislature extended its term for 17 months.
Salam should form Cabinet or step down: Geagea
June 10, 2013/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam should form the new Cabinet this week or else step down and make way for someone else to fulfill the task, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said in remarks published Monday. “We are holding contacts to push for the formation of the Cabinet and the prime minister-designate should make his choice. We cannot leave the country this way: either Salam forms the Cabinet, and this is what I wish for and prefer, or he should pave the way for someone else [to do so],” Geagea, who spoke to An-Nahar daily, said. Salam must form the Cabinet this week at the latest,” he told the local daily.
Salam was appointed on April 6 to form the next government after caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati stepped down in late citing internal disputes in his government.
Although endorsed by the majority of MPs in Parliament, Salam’s efforts to form the government have stalled due to differences between the country’s rival political blocs over the shape of the next Cabinet.
While the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition has called for a national unity Cabinet in which they are granted veto power, the Future Movement, which heads the March 14 coalition, has called for a nonpartisan Cabinet that excludes all major political parties. Geagea also criticized Salam for postponing consultations to form the next government under the pretext of waiting for the results of recent challenges to Parliament’s extension.
“Whether the challenge is accepted or rejected, we will be in a stage of preparation for the parliamentary elections. Whether the preparation period was five or 17 months, I do not think there will be much of a difference,” said Geagea. “In both cases, we need a Cabinet that takes care for the interests of the people and prepares for the elections,” he added. Salam has said that he is stalling efforts to form the new Cabinet, awaiting the results of a challenge filed to the Constitutional Council over the recent extension of Parliament’s term for a period of 17 months. In his remarks to An-Nahar, Geagea also condemned the death of Hashem Salman, who died Sunday after he was attacked outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, and blamed Hezbollah over the incident. “I extend my warm condolences to the family of martyr Salman, and I would like to say that this is the price of freedom in Lebanon,” Geagea said. “This is Hezbollah’s actual nature and this is the violent society it is calling for, and I would like to call on the Free Patriotic Movement to realize which party it is allies with,” he said.
Salam, who headed the student committee of the Lebanese Option Gathering, was killed outside the Iranian Embassy in the Lebanese capital Sunday as protesters prepared to demonstrate against Hezbollah’s military intervention in neighboring Syria. Geagea also slammed Hezbollah’s growing role in the Syrian conflict, saying the “illegal party” had crossed the line and rendered the state impotent.
“Hezbollah has canceled the existence of the state through its intervention in Syria and its behavior, actions, and statements,” the LF leader said. “Hezbollah has bluntly announced its goals, regardless of Lebanon’s laws and Constitution, which makes it a non-Lebanese organization with regard to abiding by the [National] Pact,” he added.
Constitutional Council Likely to
Accept Parliament Extension Challenges amid Warning by Berri
Naharnet/The Constitutional Council is likely to approve challenges made by the president and the Free Patriotic Movement against parliament's extension of its mandate but Speaker Nabih Berri warned that elections cannot be held amid the deteriorating security situation in the country. Informed sources have told several local dailies published on Monday that the council's decision is expected to be issued no later than June 20 when parliament's four-year mandate expires. President Michel Suleiman and the Change and Reform bloc of FPM chief Michel Aoun made the challenges respectively on June 1 and June 3 after the legislature extended its term for 17 months, pushing the elections date to November 2014. The parliament's move came after the rival parties failed to agree on a new law to govern the polls and amid the rejection of the implementation of the 1960 law that was used in the 2009 elections. But in remarks to the newspapers, Berri wondered how the elections would be held amid the spread of security incidents throughout the country. “Does the candidate and the voter have the freedom of movement in these circumstances?” He said that Lebanon would end up in a vacuum if the council's decision on the challenges was made after June 20. But if its 10 members were able to reach a decision before that date, then parliament would meet to make a technical extension of its term to allow the elections to take place in a couple of months. “Everything is so far frozen pending the ruling of the Constitutional Council,” he said.
Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel also said that his ministry is ready to hold the elections within two months if the challenges were approved. But it needed around six months to prepare for the polls if the rival parties agreed on a new law that adopts proportionality.
Kataeb: Salam should stop delaying Cabinet formation
The Daily Star /BEIRUT: The Kataeb Party urged Prime Minster-designate Tammam Salam Monday to stop delaying the formation of the next government. “[We urge Salam to] abandon the policy of waiting because there may be a orchestrated plan to keep him as a suspended prime minister by tying the formation process to never-ending [deadlines] with the aim of ... keeping the country without a government,” the party said in a statement after its weekly meeting headed by former President Amin Gemayel. The views of the Kataeb were echoed earlier by Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea who urged Salam, nominated as premier-designate on April 6, to get on with the task of forming his Cabinet. The previous government stepped down at the end of March. In its statement, the Kataeb also condemned the weekend killing of a protester outside the Iranian Embassy, describing the death of Hashem Salman as an “orchestrated assassination.”Salman, 28, was shot and killed at a rally outside the Iranian embassy Sunday while protesting Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict. The party urged authorities to arrest the culprits and that they be referred to the courts immediately. It also condemned Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria, describing it as an “abuse to the state’s [foreign] policy and the ‘Baabda Declaration,’” referring to a non-interference with Syria pledge. It warned that Hezbollah’s actions in Syria harmed Lebanon’s position at the Arab League.
Moscow sets up Russian Golan brigade, warns Israel Sunnis plus al Qaeda are bigger threat than Assad
DEBKAfile Special Report June 10, 2013/Moscow is not ready
to give up on getting Russian troops posted on the divided Golan as part of the
UN force policing the Israeli-Syrian separation sector, even after rejections by
the UN and Israel. Monday, June 10, the Russian lawmaker Aleksey Pushkov, an
influential foreign relations policy adviser to the Kremlin, said: “The issue
has not been yet solved, it is being considered. We must take some real action
because we cannot exclude that the Syrian-Israeli topic would be involved in
large-scale military action.”
Shortly before he spoke, the military announced in Moscow that the Russian Airborne Troops had formed a separate brigade especially designed to serve as peacekeepers “under the aegis of the United Nations or as part of the force set up by the Russian-led CSTO (Russian-Asian) security bloc for combating
terrorism. Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan contribute special units.
Vladimir Shamanov, commander of Russian Airborne troops, said the new brigade had been awarded the status of “a peacekeeping unit” on June 1. He did not say by whom. debkafile’s military sources disclose the Moscow proposes to give the “peacekeeping” brigade from the Russian Airborne Troops “teeth” in the form of of MI-24 combat helicopters.
The idea of placing Russian peacekeepers on the Golan was first voiced by President Vladimir Putin on June 7, after Austria decided to withdraw its 377-strong contingent from the area over an outbreak of fighting there between Syrian troops and rebels.
The idea was quickly shot down by the United Nations and Israel on the grounds that the Israeli-Syrian 1974 ceasefire accord barred veto-wielding UN Security Council members from participation in the peacekeeping force.
On June 8, debkafile reported exclusively that Putin was determined to override Israeli and UN objections and get Russian troops deployed on the Syrian Golan by hook or by crook.
On June 9, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu publicly rejected the Putin offer, saying Israel could not afford to place its security in the hands of international forces.
Speaking at a Moscow press conference on Monday, MP Pushkov went on to say that it was too early to say that Vladimir Putin’s suggestion of placing Russian peacekeepers on the Golan Heights lacked perspectives or could not be implemented.
As though on cue, the Hizballah-controlled Lebanese Al Akhbar Monday quoted President Bashar Assad as warning that, for him, opening a front on the Golan against Israel was “a serious matter” and would not just consist of firing a few improvised rockets from time to time.
This gave Pushkov the opening for his warning to Israel: That Israeli authorities would oppose this step (Putin’s offer) was not surprising, he said, but he warned about possible consequences: “Assad could be replaced by radical Islamists in comparison with whom Assad would seem an angel from heaven,” said the Russian lawmaker.
“The people who are now offering friendship to Israel would not necessarily see Israel as their partner when they come to power, rather they would see it as an enemy,” the Russian MP said, hinting at the references made by Hizballah and Syrian government spokesmen to the relations Israel had purportedly formed with certain Syrian rebel groups. Hizballah broadcasts even depicted outdated Israeli tanks and other equipment, booty captured in its 2006 war with Israel, to prove its point.
Therefore, Pushkov advised Israeli leaders to pay more attention to the possible future scenarios in Syria and take into account that Russia could play a positive and stabilizing role in the region.
debkafile notes that this was the first time any Russian official had mentioned the unmentionable: a possible future turn in the wheel of the Syrian conflict that would oust Assad and bring his foes, the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, to power in Damascus.
U.S. to weigh arming Syrian rebels, U.S. official says
By Arshad Mohammed, Matt Spetalnick /Daily Star
WASHINGTON: The United States could make a decision as early as this week on whether to arm Syrian rebels, U.S. officials said on Monday, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry put off a Middle East trip to attend meetings on the subject. However, the U.S. government has debated for months whether to provide weaponry to the rebels in their civil war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces and has so far decided against.
One U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity stressed that while a decision on whether to start arming the rebels is possible as soon as this week, deliberations on the issue could easily take longer. Kerry put off a planned trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories to attend the White House meetings, an Obama administration source said.
What has changed in recent weeks is the tilting of the battlefield against the rebels as Lebanese Hezbollah has entered the fray on the side of Assad's forces, helping them to retake the strategic town of Qusair. .
That shift has made it less likely that a U.S. and Russian planned peace conference to bring the rebels and the government to the table would succeed in U.S. President Barack Obama's aim of a negotiated political transition to remove Assad from power.
With Assad's forces, backed by Hezbollah and Iran, gaining the upper hand, he has little incentive to give up power. The United States and other governments are also weighing evidence that Assad's forces may have used chemical weapons, something Obama has said would cross a "red line." A consensus remains elusive, with U.S. policymakers still wrestling with concerns that any American weapons could fall into the wrong hands. Also, growing controversy at home over the government's sweeping surveillance programs are expected to occupy much of Obama and his national security team's time.
The renewed focus on Syria comes two years into the uprising against Assad that has seen at least 80,000 people killed and has sent hundreds of thousands of refugees into Turkey and Jordan and displaced millions within Syria.
Fredric Hof, an analyst at the Atlantic Council think tank, said the Obama administration might decide to take charge of the distribution of weapons to the rebels but not necessarily to provide U.S. arms.
"If the president is going to make that decision this week ... I suspect it would be a decision for the United States to take charge of the process by which carefully vetted units of the Free Syrian Army get what they need both in terms of lethal and in terms of non-lethal (aid) and that General Salim Idriss of the Supreme Military Council gets full credit and indeed things would be passed through him," Hof, a retired official who worked on Syria policy in the Obama administration.
If the United States were to channel arms through Idriss, who leads the military wing of the main civilian opposition group, the former Syrian military officer could gain credibility from other fighters and perhaps gain greater control over the notoriously fractious anti-Assad fighters.
Obama this year shifted policy to take the step of giving U.S. medical kits and military rations to the rebels. Arms, however, have been left to Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar to provide to the rebel fighters.
"What's been needed here is American leadership and management of a process which, if left in the hands of local actors, simply results in the accumulation of clients and a very uneven supply system in terms of effectiveness," Hof added. By centralizing the delivery of arms - whatever their origin - it might become easier to get the fractious rebels to work under a single command authority rather than as multiple militias with allegiances to various external powers.
A possible move by the United States to arm the rebels who are fighting President Bashar al-Assad's government forces, was first reported by The Associated Press late on Sunday.
Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said the Obama administration was continually looking at ways to strengthen the opposition but had nothing new to announce.
"At the president's direction, his national security team continues to consider all possible options that would accomplish our objectives of helping the Syrian opposition serve the essential needs of the Syrian people and hastening a political transition to a post-Assad Syria," Meehan said.
"We have prepared a wide range of options for the president's consideration, and internal meetings to discuss the situation in Syria are routine," she added. "The United States will continue to look for ways to strengthen the capabilities of the Syrian opposition, though we have no new announcements at this time."
Opinion: Obama, isolationist in Syria
Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat
Ever since Barack Obama took office some five years ago, he was compared to former President Jimmy Carter, and was described to be identical to him.
This description was repeated during the periods of unrest in Egypt and Tunisia, because he repeated Carter’s stance during the Tehran unrest, which led to the toppling of the Shah of Iran and Khomeini’s taking of power.
It is fair to say, however, that Obama made the right choice when he took a neutral stance on Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, even when he chose to join in the war, along with Britain and France, in Libya, in order to topple the Gadhafi regime. This is because they were actions which had come from the street against regimes which had failed to develop themselves, and which became difficult to save from their own mistakes.
In Syria, however, Obama chose the wrong stance, which has dangerous repercussions on the region, and later the world. He allowed the Assad regime, along with the Iranians and Hezbollah, to besiege the popular uprising until it became a danger to the region. Senator John McCain is more aware of what is going on; he knows that Syria is filled with many dangers, and that his country should be taking a lead role. He said: “The Middle East is more important than just oil. The United States has friends and allies in the Middle East who rely on the United States for their security, and contribute to America’s security and stability more than Americans’ know. However, they will recognize this role; believe me, if the navigation in the Suez Canal was affected, or if we lost important partners like Jordan.”Obama’s Administration is currently making every effort to pursue Iranian ships around the world, to stop them selling oil, or to search their cargo to stop them delivering weapons. The irony is that the same American government is today keeping quiet about thousands of Iranians who are fighting in Syria. This massive contradiction between chasing ships around the oceans, and keeping quiet about thousands of armed men, is confusing many. We have not known such a great role for Moscow in the region since 1972, and Iran has not been able to operate in the region, except in Lebanon and Gaza, and in a limited way. Does Obama’s position mean the end of the Eisenhower principle, which became US policy since 1957, and to leave the Middle East to the Russians and the Iranians? Like McCain said, the dangers of the Middle East for the world have always been great, and what the Iranians are doing in Syria is to turn it into a base to launch their terrorist projects which will threaten everyone. President Obama is almost the only US president to have been liked by many Arabs because he came to their area and he spoke their language and addressed their hopes, and supported their revolutions. Today, he has lost all that because he let them down in Syria, despite the terrible things that are taking place, and the massacres, and the terrible weapons being used in its war, including banned heavy and chemical weapons.
The Arab Spring dubbed in Turkish
By: Diana Moukalled/Asharq Alawsat
Syrian state-run media outlets, and other loyal news agencies, were awash with funny comparisons during their coverage of the protests in Turkey. They described the use of water cannons and tear gas by Turkish security forces as being “brutal.” How terrible water must appear, compared with sarin gas, bombs and Scud missiles deployed by the Syrian regime. But, apart from this light hearted comparison, the protests at Taksim Square merit analysis from different points of view, including the role of media and journalism throughout the events. While the famous Taksim Square in downtown Istanbul was full of angry protesters, the best-known news channels in the country were busy covering other topics. One broadcast a documentary about penguins, whilst another broadcast cooking shows. The Turkish media helped turning the protests in Taksim Square into a global event. It did so not by broadcasting the events, but by ignoring them. Turkish protests made headlines on main CNN networks, but CNN Turk broadcast a documentary on penguins. Penguins have since then become a symbol of the scandal of Turkish media, and a joke that circulates amongst Turks. It seems that, during his ten-year rule, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has successfully incorporated private media channels into the network of his economic interests. He has made them submissive to a group of companies that are part of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s economy.
The Taksim uprising is, in one aspect, one against Erdoğan’s efforts to discipline media figures, after he succeeded in making such institutions submissive. In the past, he requested media outlets to discipline their journalists, and the organizations obliged. He has also taken legal action against a number of other journalists. At the height of the protests at Taksim, he culminated this tendency by saying that social media is the worst menace to society. The truth is that, when traditional media failed to fulfil its duties, social media did the job. It is identical to what happened at Tahrir Square in Egypt. Turkish Twitter activity became a phenomenon as, on one night, 3,000 tweets were sent per minute. Erdogan’s statement that social media is a menace indicates that controlling traditional visual, audio and print media is no longer enough to prevent events from being covered. As the world’s media broadcast developments to the world, the Turks in Taksim resorted to Twitter and Facebook to ensure coverage of the domestic public opinion. In the confrontation between social and traditional media, the latter lost. They have admitted to this, and apologized for their shortcomings. However, this in itself is meaningless, since the discussion that preceded the media downfall had exposed the private media interests of the government-sponsored networks.
Activists and protesters launched huge campaigns in Turkey to punish media outlets for their failings, calling for them to be boycotted. They took it upon themselves to cover the developments of their activities after they felt that traditional media betrayed their cause. Some Arabs rejoiced with the protests in Taksim, considering it the first time for an Arab soap opera to be dubbed in Turkish. Let us hope this is an inaccurate comparison, so Turkey does not end up in the same situation as the rest of the Middle East.
The Rains of History
History is attacking us. It has risen from its grave and unleashed its warriors. The warriors are attacking the cities and occupying the mountains. There are long rivers of spears, axes, knives, and hatred. Our history is a violent monster that we failed to read well to make sure that it is dead. We failed to learn from it in order for us to corner it; and we lived under the illusion of having escaped our history, while it lurks still in our heads and our hearts.
Our nations are nothing but the horses of darkness. There we are, naked in front of the vindictive cries coming from the caves. These aren’t nations; they are just traps for the wretched. These are hungry graves devouring the fathers then the sons. We stand naked. These aren’t nations. These are flimsy curtains decorated with lies. These are mock castles waiting for their demise. Ours are failing institutions in times of peace and in times of war; institutions that have no power to convince the people, bring them together, prevent them from evil, or guide them towards what is right. These are mere sects and groups united under fake slogans. This is a government only for some of the people and a part of the land. The army is similar to this government, whose main task is to hunt down the others and annihilate them.
History flows in the form of rivers of blood and mud. We have no umbrella and no wall to take refuge. We have lied for too long to our people and the others. We lied when we talked about the state of the institutions, the rule of law, the justice of the judiciary system, the legitimacy of the voting ballots, the respect of the voters’ desires, and the dignity of the citizens. We lied when we alluded to respecting the international borders, treaties, good neighborly relations, international norms, UN resolutions, and the sob stories of the Arab League.
Our former nations have turned into angry armies, agitated militias, disrupted cabinets, failing parliaments, and stolen budgets. We are celebrating over the shredded maps, the fallen borders, and the aborted coexistence. We are handing our children to the daredevils.
We now stand naked. Where are our values of coexistence and tolerance? Where is our talk about diversity, the acceptance of the others, and the respect of their right to be different? Where are the universities and their graduates? Where are the writers and the poets? Where are the voices that paved the way for the grand dreams?
We once feared that the region might explode under the burden of injustice, poverty and marginalization; but it actually exploded under the burden of the programs that can no longer bear the pressure. The interesting part is that the killings are confined to the Arab part of the region. This is the beginning of the fire. We are at the start of the sedition. What will remain in Syria if this massacre were to proceed? Who will pay the price of the imminent weakness? What will remain in Lebanon if Hezbollah were to proceed with its bloody adventures on the Syrian territory? Would Iraq have dashed towards the abyss had the Sunni Iraqis enjoyed a natural presence in the institutions and had Massoud Barazani been living in Baghdad and a full partner there?
We always pay the price for the agreements, the consensus, and the middle-ground solutions. We prefer to take risks, to gamble, and to slide towards the abyss. History attacks us and takes us back to its caves.