June 15/2013

Bible Quotation for today/Running toward the Goal
Philippians 03/12-21: "I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself. Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God's call through Christ Jesus to the life above. All of us who are spiritually mature should have this same attitude. But if some of you have a different attitude, God will make this clear to you. However that may be, let us go forward according to the same rules we have followed until now. Keep on imitating me, my friends. Pay attention to those who follow the right example that we have set for you. I have told you this many times before, and now I repeat it with tears: there are many whose lives make them enemies of Christ's death on the cross. They are going to end up in hell, because their god is their bodily desires. They are proud of what they should be ashamed of, and they think only of things that belong to this world. We, however, are citizens of heaven, and we eagerly wait for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come from heaven. He will change our weak mortal bodies and make them like his own glorious body, using that power by which he is able to bring all things under his rule.'

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources 
Nabatiyeh is Hezbollah’s fortress/By Hazem Saghyeh and Bisan Al Sheik/Now Lebanon/June 15/13
Fantasy and reality clash in Iran’s elections/By: Amir Taheri /AsharqAlawsat/June 15/13
What is “Islamic” statehood/By: Sherif Ayoub/Asharq Alawsat/June 15/13


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for June 15/13
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for June 15/13
Unspecified US weapons for Syrian rebels, but no intervention to save Aleppo

Obama mulls action after Syria 'red line' crossed
Egypt Brotherhood backs Syria jihad, denounces Shi'ites
Israeli Defense Minister, Ya'alon: Israeli intervention in Syria would not help
UN skeptical of US drums on Syria chemical arms
Boycott paralyzes Lebanon's Constitutional Council

Sources: Lebanon Sends 'Memo' to U.N., Files 'Complaint' with Arab League over Syria Attacks
Kuwait Renews Warning to Citizens against Traveling to Lebanon
Hezbollah will keep fighting in Syria: Nasrallah
Hizbullah Chief Sayyed Nasrallah in Speech Marking 'Wounded Resistance Fighter Day'
Hezbollah slams U.S. for interfering in Lebanon
Hariri: Hezbollah dragging Lebanon into the abyss
Slieman Franjieh: Suleiman Making Promises to West, Resistance Has Right to Intervene in Syria

Muallem Sends Memo to Mansour, Urges Lebanese Army to 'Control Border'
Hezbollah says GCC decision shameful

Suspect Killed in Zgharta Shootout as Family Members Retaliate
President Gemayel: Suleiman Assumes Responsibilities amid State's Paralysis, Hizbullah Arms Hinder Its Establishment
U.N. Human Rights Council Slams Hizbullah Role in Syria
Raad: Mustaqbal Bloc Changed Position on Extending Parliament's Mandate at U.S. Orders
Connelly Warns Constitutional Council Crisis 'Undermines International Confidence'

Long-Awaited Wage Scale Referred to Parliament
Lebanese Army chief calls for zero-tolerance to violence
March 14 Officials Hold Consultative Meeting on Hizbullah Role in Syria
Reports: Jumblat Met Salam, Government Formation Deadlock Focus of Discussions

Hamas Denies it Has Fighters in Syria
Berlin Won't Arm Syria Rebels, Says 'Respects' U.S. Pledge
EU: U.S. Claims on Chemical Arms Boost Need for Syria U.N. Inspection
Syrian Rebel Chief: U.S. Aid Would Boost Rebels
Hague Agrees with U.S. on Syria Chemical Weapons Use
Activists: Battles Rage in Syria's Aleppo
Russia Tells U.S. Not to Make Iraq Mistake Twice in Syria
U.S. Officials: Obama to Step up Military Support of Syrian Rebels

Report: U.S. Military Proposes No-fly Zone over Syria
Key Court Ruling Puts Kuwait Democracy on the Line
NATO Urges U.N. Inspection over Syria Chemical Weapons
Syria Calls U.S. Claims on Chemical Weapons Use 'Lies'

Millions of Iranians vote in presidential election


Unspecified US weapons for Syrian rebels, but no intervention to save Aleppo

DEBKAfile Special Report June 14, 2013/The White House, in a second statement, said early Friday said the US would provide “direct military support” for the first time to the Syrian opposition after obtaining proof that the Syrian government had used the chemical weapon sarin against rebel forces. The nature of the package was not specified. The rebels responded to this apparent evasion with a demand for anti-aircraft and other advanced arms to save them from Syrian air bombardment. The first White House statement, eagerly awaited for months, amounted to a rejection by President Barack Obama of proposals to intervene to save Aleppo and Idlib from a defeat that would give Bashar Assad a decisive victory. It followed a special consultation on Syria by the president and his national security team, necessitated by the need for drastic action to thwart the Syrian-Hizballah offensive to capture Aleppo, Syrian’s biggest city of more than 2 million..Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Thursday, June 13: "The president and every member of his national security team are greatly concerned by the terrible situation… and the worsening situation in Syria. As terrible as the situation is in Syria, he has to make decisions when it comes to policy toward Syria that are in the best interests of the United States.” What Carney conveyed on behalf of the president was that while stopping the battle for Aleppo was crucially important in terms of the Syrian war, intervention was not in the interests of the United States. Our sources learn that the US president even turned down a plan for a limited no-fly zone being imposed over the northwest city of Aleppo and the province of Idlib, the largest piece of territory still remaining in rebel hands. This plan entailed no more than 20 US and Turkish fighter bombers for preventing the Syrian air force from extending air support to the decisive Aleppo offensive launched by the Syrian army Monday as Operation Northern Storm.
Our military sources report that the Syrian and Hizballah armies need between one to two months to wrest from rebel hands the northwest town of Aleppo and Idlib province which abuts the Turkish border. While their conquest of Al Qusayr was a major regional victory, the fall of Aleppo and Idlib would make Bashar Assad the winner of the 28-month Syrian civil war, just when its death toll nears 100,000 according to official figures.


Egypt Brotherhood backs Syria jihad, denounces Shi'ites

By REUTERS 06/14/2013/Muslim Brotherhood spokesman in Cairo accuses Hezbollah of launching a new "sectarian war" by joining Iran, Assad in a fight that pits mainly Sunni rebels against Assad's Alawite minority, a Shi'ite offshoot.  CAIRO - Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood blamed Shi'ites for creating religious strife throughout Islam's history, as the movement joined a call by Sunni clerics for jihad against the Syrian government and its Shi'ite allies. In a striking display of the religious enmity sweeping the region since Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah committed its forces behind Syrian President Bashar Assad, a Brotherhood spokesman in Cairo told Reuters on Friday: "Throughout history, Sunnis have never been involved in starting a sectarian war." Until recently, Egypt's new Islamist president, the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, was promoting rapprochement with Iran, the bastion of Shi'ite political power and in February he hosted the first visit by an Iranian president in over 30 years. But spokesman Ahmed Aref said Hezbollah had launched a new "sectarian war" last month by joining Tehran's other key ally Assad in a fight that pits mainly Sunni rebels against a Syrian elite drawn from Assad's Alawite minority, a Shi'ite offshoot. For that reason, Aref said, the Brotherhood, which emerged from oppression after the fall of military rule two years ago to run by far the most populous Arab state, had joined a call made on Thursday by leading Sunni clerics for holy war in Syria. That statement, made at a Cairo conference of more than 70 religious organizations from across the Arab world, urged "jihad with mind, money, weapons - all forms of jihad", but stopped short of repeating an explicit call by high-profile Brotherhood-linked preacher Youssef al-Qaradawi for fighters to go to Syria. Asked whether the Brotherhood would urge Egyptians to travel to the war, Aref said it was still considering its position and would coordinate with the other groups at the conference. Morsi would address the assembly on Saturday, he added, saying that speech may clarify the Egyptian position: "Up to now there's merely been talk," he said.
"We need to coordinate well in terms of logistics."
An aide to Morsi said on Thursday that Egypt disapproved of external intervention in Syria, notably that by Hezbollah. It was not sending fighters but, he said, the government could not stop Egyptians from traveling and would not penalise any who went to Syria, where he said many were engaged in relief work.
Also on Friday, a leading Sunni cleric from Saudi Arabia, Mohammed al-Arifi, preached at an ancient Cairo mosque, calling for jihad in Syria "in every way possible". Some worshippers waved Syrian rebel flags and dozens of men gathered outside afterward to chant their support for bringing down Assad.
Saudi Arabia, where the monarchy espouses the strict Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam, is locked in a regional rivalry with Iran and has been arming the Syrian rebels while Egypt's leaders, who rose to power in the same wave of Arab Spring protests that began the Syrian civil war, have held back from such engagement. The 7th century rift between Sunni and Shi'ite Islam has fueled violence across the Middle East in recent decades, including the sectarian bloodletting unleashed in Iraq since the 2003 U.S. invasion and the Lebanese civil war of 1975 to 1990.

Israeli Defense Minister, Ya'alon: Israeli intervention in Syria would not help
By JTA 06/14/2013/ Defense minister in Washington to meet Pentagon chief Hagel.
 US Secretary of State Chuck Hagel and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. Photo: Courtesy of Ministry of Defense  

WASHINGTON — Israel will not intervene in Syria in part because any such intervention would harm the side Israel favors, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Friday. “We don’t intervene, we do not interfere,” Ya'alon said Friday in Washington prior to a meeting with his US counterpart, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. “Any Israel intervention might affect the side we support, and not for its benefit.”'It’s not clear what side Israel would favor. Israel has said it backs the American demand that Syrian President Bashar Assad step down, a move that would wound Israel’s most dangerous rival in the region, Iran, as well as Hezbollah, the potent terrorist force in Lebanon. On the other hand, Israel appreciates the quiet that successive generations of Assads have ensured on its border, and fears the rise of Islamists among rebels in that country. Ya'alon’s remarks come as the Obama administration says it is ready to increase military support for the rebels. Ya'alon said the red lines that would trigger Israeli actions in Syria are cross-border fire and the transfer of chemical and strategic weapons. Ya'alon said the worst possible outcome in Syria would be “a chaotic situation, but we can manage it.”He called for increased western and US support of Jordan, which has absorbed most of the refugees fleeing bloodshed in Syria. Ya'alon was bluntly dismissive of Obama administration efforts to restart the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, blaming the Palestinian insistence on a settlement freeze before talks start again for the failure of the process.He also dismissed as “just spin” the recently revived 2002 Arab peace initiative favored by the Obama administration. Ya'alon said US-Israel defense and intelligence cooperation was close and that he believed it was still possible to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons through peaceful means.

U.N. Human Rights Council Slams Hizbullah Role in Syria
Naharnet /The U.N.'s top human rights forum on Friday condemned the involvement of foreign fighters in Syria's civil war, singling out the pro-regime forces sent across the border by Lebanon's Hizbullah. The 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council backed a resolution from the United States, Britain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, with 37 votes in favor, nine abstentions and just one member, Venezuela, against. The text said that the council "condemns the intervention of all foreign combatants in the Syrian Arab Republic, including those fighting on behalf of the regime and most recently Hizbullah".It said that the involvement of foreign forces in the conflict "further exacerbates the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation, which has a serious negative impact on the region". At a May 29 sitting the council had also condemned the Syrian regime's use of foreign fighters in the besieged town of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border, and ordered an urgent probe into the killings there but stopped short of naming Hizbullah.
Friday's resolution condemned "in the strongest terms all massacres taking place in the Syrian Arab Republic and stresses the need to hold those responsible to account", as well as "all violence, especially against civilians, irrespective of where it comes from, including terrorist acts and acts of violence that may foment sectarian tensions". It also noted the "widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms and all violations of international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities and the government-affiliated Shabbiha militias". At the same time it also condemned similar abuses by rebels, but underlined that a U.N. commission of inquiry had stated that they had not reached the intensity and scale of those committed by the regime camp. The council also reiterated its demand that Syria admit the commission of inquiry, which was set up in September 2011 but has failed to win entry. The council vote came a day after new figures from the United Nations showed that at least 93,000 people -- including 6,500 -- have been killed since the war erupted in March 2011 after protests against Syrian President Bashar Assad. More than 1.6 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries, and the U.N. warns that the number could more than double this year.Source/Agence France Presse.


Sources: Lebanon Sends 'Memo' to U.N., Files 'Complaint' with Arab League over Syria Attacks
Naharnet/Lebanese authorities have sent a “memo” to the U.N. Security Council on Syrian air raids and rocket attacks and “filed a complaint” with the Arab League over the assaults carried out by Syrian regime troops and the rebel Free Syrian Army, government sources said Friday.
The sources told An Nahar daily that the two moves were made on Thursday night after reports that President Michel Suleiman and caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour had argued on what measures to take. Baabda palace sources denied that such an argument had taken place, saying Suleiman held a telephone conversation with Mansour and urged him to consult with caretaker Premier Najib Miqati on ways to file “two complaints.” The president also asked the caretaker FM to include the details of attacks carried out by both regime troops and the rebels in the letter to the Arab League given that the Security council does not officially recognize the Free Syrian Army. The “memo” sent to the Security Council seemed to be a toned down version because lodging a complaint against Syria would set a precedent among Arab countries in taking their disputes to the world body. Even before Lebanon took the move, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem sent a memo to Lebanon stressing “the importance that the Lebanese army control the border to preserve security and stability."According to Mansour, Muallem urged Lebanese authorities to "take the necessary measures that consolidate joint efforts … to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the two states." There have been several attacks from rebel-held areas of Syria on Hizbullah strongholds in northeastern Lebanon in recent months. Such attacks increased after Hizbullah, along with Syrian army forces captured from rebels the key central Syrian town of Qusayr. Syrian regime troops have also carried out attacks on border areas, mainly air raids on the northeastern town of Arsal, which has become an escape route for rebels and people running away from the fighting in Syria. Syria's army command insists that it respects Lebanon's sovereignty but would continue to target rebels.


Kuwait Renews Warning to Citizens against Traveling to Lebanon
Naharnet /Kuwait hailed on Friday Lebanese security agencies for thwarting a kidnapping attempt against a Kuwaiti national in Lebanon. It renewed however its travel warning to its citizens against heading to Lebanon. The Kuwaiti Embassy in Lebanon thanked in a statement the security agencies for stopping the kidnapping of a Kuwaiti national in Bhamdoun, noting that such incidents are aimed at tarnishing Lebanon's image and violating its stability. It warned all of its nationals against traveling to Lebanon given the current situation in the country, renewing its demand for them to leave it immediately for their safety. The National News Agency had revealed on Friday that the security forces had thwarted the kidnapping of a Kuwaiti national, who is residing in Bhamdoun. It said that the assailants were seeking to abduct him for material reasons. On May 26, the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry had stated that “it is monitoring with concern the unstable situation in Lebanon, hoping that it would overcome this difficult phase.” On Monday, the Gulf Cooperation Council 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 conflict.

MP Mohammed Raad : Mustaqbal Bloc Changed Position on Extending Parliament's Mandate at U.S. Orders
Naharnet/Head of the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Mohammed Raad reiterated on Friday his bloc's support for the extension of the term of parliament, accusing the Musatqbal bloc of going back on its agreement to back the extension. He revealed: “We reached an agreement with the Mustaqbal bloc to extend its mandate, but the United States then announced that it opposed such a measure.”
“The bloc was consequently prompted to stage the parliamentary elections based on the 1960 law,” he added. The MP noted that the United States is pressuring officials in Lebanon to stage the elections and overrule the extension decision. “You at first accepted the extension, but now you want to stage the elections at the United States' behest,” he said in reference to the Mustaqbal bloc. Moreover, Raad remarked that the recent developments at the Constitutional Council regarding the extension are “purely democratic practices.”“Members of the Council are entitled to hinder quorum if they believe that their views will not be taken into consideration,” he explained. In addition, he noted that it is only normal for a delay to take place in the government formation process, linking it to reaching a solution over staging the parliamentary elections. The Council was expected to meet earlier this week in order to address petitions filed by President Michel Suleiman and the Change and Reform bloc earlier this month to challenge the 17-month extension of parliament’s four-year term. Three judges - two Shiites and a Druze - boycotted a meeting of the Council for the second day in a row on Wednesday, depriving the 10-member body of the quorum needed to rule on the petitions. The absence of the three judges was a clear sign of political interference and an attempt by several officials to prevent the Council from issuing a decision on the petitions. The lack of quorum would make the 17-month extension law valid after the end of parliament's mandate on June 20.

Connelly Warns Constitutional Council Crisis 'Undermines International Confidence'
Naharnet /U.S. Ambassador Maura Connelly has reiterated that the Constitutional Council's failure to meet without the interference of Lebanon's political leaders undermines the confidence of the international community in the country. “It is for the Constitutional Council and its members alone to rule on the matters before it, but what is most important is that the Council meets as required by law and that it considers the issues before it without political interference,” Connelly said in remarks at an entrepreneurship reception held at the embassy in Awkar on Thursday night. “The inability to do so undermines international confidence in Lebanon and will have ramifications beyond the political arena,” she added. Three judges - two Shiites and a Druze - boycotted a meeting of the Council for the second day in a row on Wednesday, depriving the 10-member body of the quorum needed to rule on petitions filed against the extension of parliament's mandate. The meeting was aimed at discussing a report drafted by the Council's president, Judge Issam Suleiman, on the petitions filed by President Michel Suleiman and the Change and Reform bloc earlier this month to challenge the 17-month extension of parliament’s four-year term. The absence of the three judges was a clear sign of political interference and an attempt by several officials to prevent the Council from issuing a decision on the petitions. The lack of quorum would make the 17-month extension law valid after the end of parliament's mandate on June 20. The embassy said on its twitter account on Wednesday that the boycott further erodes Lebanon’s democracy, and reflects lack of respect for Lebanon’s institutions and rule of law.
The council “should consider and rule on the challenges before it without political interference,” it said.


Slieman Franjieh: Suleiman Making Promises to West, Resistance Has Right to Intervene in Syria
Naharnet /Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh on Thursday accused President Michel Suleiman of “making promises to the West,” stressing that Hizbullah “has the right to intervene in Syria” militarily.
“The president turned against the March 8 camp and when we reached a juncture, he made his choices, and here we raise a question: why did all these countries cling to him? Is he the 'Bismarck of Lebanon' or did he make promises to the West and endorsed their policies?” Franjieh said during an interview with LBCI television.
“The president wants to turn himself into a hero over the (Syrian) shelling (of Lebanese territory). When Syria makes a violation, he directly condemns it, but when Israel makes a violation, Baabda remains silent,” Franjieh added. The northern leader rejected any attack on any region in Lebanon, saying “we're against these violations, especially those committed by the Free Syrian Army.” Criticizing the Suleiman-sponsored Baabda Declaration -- which calls for Lebanon to disassociate itself from regional crises, most notably the one in Syria – Franjieh said the declaration “was one of the tools that are aimed at bringing down Hizbullah after bringing down the Syrian regime.” “They wanted Hizbullah to hand over its weapons and as the regime did not fall, a new round of pressure started, and it can be war or other means,” he added. The MP also described the Baabda Declaration as a “Sunni-Shiite settlement at the expense of Christians, even if the Syrian regime fell.”
When asked what he was betting on, Franjieh said: “On the strength of our allies and on this entire camp that comprises political figures, parties, countries and axes that are built on firmness, not evanescent interests."
Asked about Hizbullah's military involvement in the Syrian crisis, the Marada leader said: “The resistance has the right to intervene in Syria – ideologically, religiously and politically – and it is an ideological organization that fights at the orders of one side, and there is a major axis in the region – an Arabist axis that is resisting and fighting.”
Franjieh added: “The target has always been the anti-Israel resistance axis and the weakening of the Syrian regime, and this plan actually started with (U.N. Security Council) Resolution 1559,” which was adopted in 2004 and calls upon "all remaining foreign forces" to withdraw from Lebanon" and "for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias."  "We cannot neutralize Lebanon when there is a (new) Sykes–Picot (Agreement) in the region and major players are involved,” he went on to say.
Franjieh stressed that “Syria is not being targeted for the sake of freedom and democracy or human rights, but rather because of its political choices.”“I don't believe that Arabs can be pro-Israel, but they have succeeded in creating Sunni-Shiite sectarian tensions,” he added.

Reports: Jumblat Met Salam, Government Formation Deadlock Focus of Discussions

Naharnet /Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat discussed the latest government and security developments in Lebanon during his meeting with PM-designate Tammam Salam late Wednesday, highlighting the necessity to form a cabinet that includes all Lebanese factions including Hizbullah. Discussions between the two men focused on the various stages of the consultation process that kicked off in March between Salam and the different Lebanese parties in a bid to line up a cabinet. They focused on the conflicting stances that obstructed Salam, so far, from forming the new government, informed sources told al-Joumhouria daily.
Moreover, Jumblat touched on the “reasons that make him adhere to Hizbullah's representation in the cabinet. He insisted on having all Lebanese components represented without any exception,” the sources said.
On his part, Salam reiterated his will to form a “national interest government” composed of 24 ministers, and rejected to give veto power to any party so “it will not bear a ticking bomb within its own formation decree that could blow up in light of the abnormal situation prevailing in the region,” the sources added.
Jumblat's visit could be a prelude to another round of consultations that could kick off next week, according to the sources, as soon as the constitutional council decides on the appeal submitted on extending the Parliament mandate, they added. The security situation has lately deteriorated in some Lebanese regions mainly in the northern city of Tripoli, which further delayed the consultation process.
Following the resignation of PM Najib Miqati's cabinet in May, Salam was designated to line up a cabinet, amid conflicting positions between the March 14 alliance that demands forming an impartial cabinet and the March 8 insisting to form a political one, and Jumblat's insistence not to vote for a cabinet that does not represent all Lebanese parties.

March 14 Officials Hold Consultative Meeting on Hizbullah Role in Syria

Naharnet /March 14 alliance leaders held a consultative meeting on Thursday night to discuss a memo they plan to refer to President Michel Suleiman on Hizbullah's involvement in Syria's war, An Nahar daily reported.
The newspaper said Friday that the memo had received the final approval of all parties that make up the March 14 coalition. An Nahar said last week that the document addresses the Arab countries and the international community, saying the majority of Lebanese reject Hizbullah's fighting alongside regime troops in Syria.
The memo also criticizes caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, saying he neither represents Lebanon nor the foreign ministry. It accuses him of being a Hizbullah complicit. The March 14 leaders discussed during their meeting on Thursday a plan to confront Hizbullah's involvement in Syria's crisis and the air raids carried out by Syrian helicopters on the Lebanese border town of Arsal, An Nahar said. They also discussed ways to express solidarity with the family of Hashem Salman, the head of the student committee of the Lebanese Option Party, who was killed last Sunday during a protest near the Iranian embassy in Beirut's southern suburbs. Salman died when Hizbullah members wielding batons assaulted the protesters in the Bir Hassan neighborhood.

Suspect Killed in Zgharta Shootout as Family Members Retaliate

Naharnet/A wanted suspect was killed in a shootout with police during a chase in the district of Zgharta in the North, the Internal Security Forces announced in a statement on Friday. It said that as an ISF patrol was monitoring an unlicensed constitutional site, when the suspect Abdul Hamid Hassoun happened to pass by the area.
The security forces promptly demanded that he halt, but he responded by opening fire against them from a gun that was in his possession, added the statement. He soon got into a white Mercdes Benz and fled the scene with another unidentified man. A chase ensued along a dirt-road until they reached a dead end. Hassoun then got out of the car and began shooting at the patrol, forcing it to fire back in defense. He was wounded and transported to nearby hospital, but he soon passed away, said the ISF statement. The National News Agency Hassoun was heading towards the area of al-Aayrouniyeh in his white Mercedes when the security forces began chasing him in Mejdlaya. Hassoun was wanted for possessing arms at construction sites and for preventing security forces from performing their duties. Later on Friday, Wassef Abdul Hadi and Ziad Hassoun tossed a hand grenade at an ISF vehicle parked in front of a police station in the Abi Samra neighborhood of the northern city of Tripoli in retaliation to the Zgharta incident, reported Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3). Security forces are pursuing the assailants to arrest them, it added. Armed members of the Hassoun family have since taken to the streets in a number of neighborhoods in Tripoli, said VDL. The army has brought in reinforcements to the city to ease the tensions, it reported.

Boycott paralyzes Lebanon's Constitutional Council

Now Lebanon/This week’s monkey business should prompt calls for reform, even though it won’t
Political pressure prevailed this week as a boycott by three of its members prevented the Constitutional Council from ruling on the legality of parliament’s 17-month term extension – meaning that unless the boycott ends before June 20, the extension will stand.
On Tuesday, the council’s two Shiite members and one Druze member did not show up for a meeting to begin discussions on how they will rule. By Wednesday morning, two local papers were reporting that Druze chieftain Walid Jumblatt and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri were orchestrating the boycott by keeping members loyal to them from attending.
Berri all but confirmed that by praising the boycott on Wednesday afternoon.
“The stance taken by the three Constitutional Council members, who were absent from the session, is based on their commitment to abide by the law and constitution to avert strife,” he said.
Eight of the council’s 10 members must be present for a meeting to be considered legal, according to its bylaws. Seven members must also vote in unison for the council to render a decision, but the boycott paralyzed the institution. On June 20, the current parliament’s mandate was set to expire. The legislature voted on May 31 to extend its term until November 2014 – which subsequently pushed back the next parliamentary elections, which are tied to the end of parliament’s mandate.  President Suleiman and lawmakers from the Free Patriotic Movement immediately challenged the constitutionality of the law, hoping the council – whose decisions are binding and cannot be appealed – would throw it out, paving the way for elections originally scheduled for June 9 to take place soon.
Marwan Saqr, a constitutional expert, previously explained to NOW that the council cannot amend the extension law, it can either uphold or reject it. However, he noted that the council could potentially reject the extension, and in reasoning why, hint to parliament a shorter extension that would pass the test of constitutionality.
For the council to reject the law but suggest a shorter extension, the decision would have to come before June 20 so there is still a valid parliament in place with the legal power to pass a new extension law. If the council rejected the extension after June 20, Lebanon would enter a political vacuum the constitution offers no way to remedy.
On Monday, the constitutional council’s president submitted a report on his initial findings. According to the council’s bylaws, that submission triggered a time-frame mechanism whereby the council has only 20 days to reach a decision. The internal deadline can be extended, explained Jihad Rizkallah, a partner with the Badri and Salim El Meouchi Law Firm, but the council would have to reach a quorum to approve such an extension.
If the boycott persists past the council’s internal deadlines, the law will stand. Should that occur, the three boycotters could also be subject to internal sanction. Rizkallah explained that the council’s bylaws say that if a member misses three consecutive meetings he or she (he in this case) is “considered resigned.”
However, Rizkallah noted, the council has to declare the resignation by virtue of a decision – which requires it to achieve quorum, meaning the three can avoid any “practical sanctions” by simply continuing their boycott.
One source familiar with the council told NOW that all of its members will attend a session next week to reject the challenges against the law, meaning the 17-month extension will be legal. NOW called a half-dozen other political sources to try confirming the rumor, but no one else NOW spoke with had heard anything.
Regardless of what the council does, the boycott proves what so many already know: The fact that all of its members are political appointees severely limits its independence and calls into question its general effectiveness. Now would be an ideal time to begin a debate on restructuring and reforming the council. That, of course, certainly won’t happen.


Nasrallah says Hezbollah will not bow to sectarian threats
Now Lebanon/Hezbollah's leader said his party will continue its responsibilities and warned against sectarian language
Hezbollah’s leader on Friday said that his party would continue its military role in Syria and warned against sectarian rhetoric amid the growing tension between Sunnis and Shiites following Hezbollah’s military intervention on the side of the Bashar al-Assad regime.
“We will be where we should be, and what we began we shall continue when it comes to taking up our responsibilities,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in an implicit reference to his party’s fighting in Syria.
“If anyone thinks that by using lies, killings, or threats we will change our stances, they are wrong,” he said in a televised address during a commemoration for Hezbollah’s injured fighters.
“Our position after Al-Qusayr is the same as before, nothing has changed.”
Nasrallah further defended his party’s role in Syria by warning that “those who want to bring down Syria, want to bring down Lebanon and the rest of the region and put it under the control of the Israeli-American-takfiri powers.”Hezbollah-led troops defeated rebels in Al-Qusayr on June 5, weeks after Nasrallah promised his Shiite party would emerge victorious in its fighting alongside the Syrian regime. Following the conclusion of the battle, Gulf powers have acted to blacklist the Shiite party while Sunni clerics, including Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, have called on their Sunni brethren to take action against Hezbollah.
Nasrallah responded to these developments by warning that opponents of his party and the Assad regime were “trying to create a sectarian war in the region.”
“The crisis in Syria is not pitting two sects against each other, the battle in Syria is not sectarian, but those who consider it as such are those who are weak and those who are losing out.”
“The worst that has happened recently is sectarian rhetoric,” Nasrallah added.
The Hezbollah chief also addressed the looming threat of sectarian violence breaking out in Lebanon, saying that security incidents in the Beqaa are worsening ties between Sunnis and Shiites.
“[Some] are working on creating problems between Sunnis and Shiites in the Beqaa.”
“We will find a solution to this problem,” he added.
Barrages of rocket fire originating from Syria in recent weeks have hit Shiite-populated areas of the Beqaa amid Syrian rebels’ threats to fight Hezbollah in Lebanon. Meanwhile, the Syrian regime on Wednesday bombed the center of the Sunni-populated town of Arsal for the first time since the Syria conflict erupted.
“I call on our supporters to exercise self-restraint,” Nasrallah also said, especially since “any dispute is being given a sectarian meaning nowadays.”
The Hezbollah chief further defended his party as an “integral” component of Lebanon.
“We are a constituent part of this country, this land and the Lebanese people,” he said, warning, “We were born here, we will be martyred and buried here, and no one will rout us out of here.”
Nasrallah also addressed critics who say his party aims to stifle dissenting voices within the Shiite sect itself, saying, “Let [Shiites] object and criticize us.”
Nasrallah’s comments come after the Shiite anti-Hezbollah Lebanon Option Gathering party was attacked during a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy on Sunday, which led to the death of one Hezbollah critic.

Hizbullah Chief Sayyed Nasrallah in Speech Marking 'Wounded Resistance Fighter Day'
Naharnet /

Nasrallah: The incident outside the Iranian embassy is rejected and unacceptable and it is a spontaneous incident in which a dear person was killed and aggrieved.
Nasrallah: Some people tell us to respect the other opinion and accuse us of not respecting the other opinion, while we are the ones who are being cursed night and day on daily basis. Our figures, scholars, sect and ideas are being cursed on podiums and we haven't responded because our religion and our brains forbid us from doing so.
Nasrallah: Why did they shoot on Sheikh Maher Hammoud on his way to perform the Fajr prayer.
Nasrallah: We are facing assassination attempts and physical assaults and sometimes entire regions are being punished because of their political affiliation. Muslim scholars, journalists and Sunni families were attacked.
Nasrallah: They are trying to take advantage of the sectarian and political dispute, that's why Hizbullah urges all the rational men, the scholars and the dignitaries of Baalbek-Hermel to foil any attempt at inciting strife.
Nasrallah: Some media outlets are spreading lies and I call on everyone to verify any report. I announce that the rockets were not fired from Arsal, but rather by the armed groups inside Syrian territory and God willing we will find a solution to this issue.
Nasrallah: And whenever a Arsal resident is killed or attacked, some politicians directly accuse Hizbullah.
Nasrallah: There is a delicate situation in the Baalbek-Hermel area -- that includes the rockets that are falling on the area -- that needs special care. The sensitive point is that some media outlets are circulating rumors that these rockets are being fired from Arsal and its barren mountains -- they are accusing a Sunni town of shelling Shiites towns.
Nasrallah: The Lebanese open fire in the air on every occasion and whenever a politician makes a televised appearance, including me. People are being terrorized and sometimes people are being killed or wounded and houses are going up in flames. I consulted with the religious authorities and their reply was that "these acts are definitely impermissible in Islam." The fatwa is more strict if the weapons are our weapons and the party does not allow the use of its ammunition in such a manner.
Nasrallah: Even in personal, financial and commercial disputes, and in kidnappings and shootings, I urge further patience, even over personal rights, because any personal dispute will take on a sectarian dimension due to the incitement and political conspiring.
Nasrallah: We urge the highest levels of restraint concerning the security situation and we call for avoiding any form of tensions, whether during grief, anger or joy, because any incident might have inappropriate repercussions on people, security and on all of us.
Nasrallah: Everyone is awaiting the result of the challenge filed before the Constitutional Council and we are waiting with the rest of the Lebanese, but we must condemn the U.S. embassy's interference and intimidation of the Lebanese to push things in a certain direction.
Nasrallah: The strongest army in the Middle East, the Israeli army, was smashed at the feet of our jihadist fighters. Who are those who are speaking of uprooting us from here or there? We will remain here for the sake of this country's freedom and dignity and we will remain ready to pay a hefty price.
Nasrallah: We were born here, we grew up here and we will stay here. We will die here, we will be martyred here and no one will be able to uproot us from our land and country.
Nasrallah: We are among the people who are the keenest on Lebanon and its state, entity, existence and unity, and we offered our blood for its sake.
Nasrallah: We are amid a major media confrontation that is trying to distort this past.
Nasrallah: The new generations must know about that period. They must know who conspired, who betrayed, who resisted and who offered sacrifices. They must know who fought and who remained silent, they must know who are the real patriots and who are the collaborators. They must know who chose death over shaking hands with the occupiers.
Nasrallah: The resistance preserved Lebanon and I tell Arabs and Muslims that this near past must not be forgotten because some parties are seeking to get rid of this past. The current battle is an extension of the past and it is targeted against all the sacrifices of the near past.
Nasrallah: Today, if there is a state in Lebanon and if there is dignity, fortunes, water, oil and gas, the credit goes to all the resistance fighters and their wounds.
Nasrallah: These wounds tell the story of the resistance in Lebanon, which had enough awareness and the clear vision to realize the danger of remaining silent over the American and Israeli occupation or coexisting with the American hegemony in 1982. In addition to awareness, this resistance possessed the will to fight for liberation despite the Arabs' betrayal, the numerous enemies and the collusion of some Lebanese parties. This resistance offered martyrs and wounded fighters and thousands of its men entered detention camps and their homes were destroyed. This resistance, through these countless sacrifices, is the side that liberated Lebanon from occupation.
Nasrallah: Your wounds remind us of the heroism of the resistance fighters in the face of the Grapes of Wrath in 1996 and remind us of the victories of the resistance in 2000 and 2006.
Nasrallah: Al-Abbas is the idol of the jihadist fighters who continue to do everything in their capacity to perform the mission that serves the objectives. His birthday is a day for every wounded resistance fighter and every jihadist warrior. It is a day for our wounded who were the men of courage and steadfastness in all battlefields ... and are today proving their steadfastness on this path in all the places.
.14 June 2013, 14:38
Nasrallah: We salute all the families of the martyrs, especially the families of the martyrs who fell in the latest confrontations, who have been showing a high level of presence and steadfastness.
Nasrallah: I salute their families and all the medical crews who accompanied our wounded fighters from the very first moment, from first aid to the continuous health care, and I thank all the members of the Wounded Institution.
.Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in a speech on the occasion of the Wounded Resistance Fighter Day: I salute and laud all the wounded brothers and sisters who are present at the rally or in hospitals or in their homes.


Syria Calls U.S. Claims on Chemical Weapons Use 'Lies'
Naharnet/ Syria on Friday slammed Washington's claims that it had used chemical weapons in its fight against rebels, accusing the United States of "lies" based on "fabricated information.”"The White House published a statement full of lies about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, based on fabricated information, through which it is trying to hold the Syrian government responsible for such use," state news agency SANA quoted a foreign ministry official as saying. The official said the U.S. claims came "after reports affirming that armed terrorist groups active in Syria are in possession of deadly chemical weapons and the technology necessary to make them.” Washington said on Thursday there was evidence that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons including sarin nerve gas in attacks that killed up to 150 people. The U.S. administration also said it would now provide "military support" to rebels, a decision condemned by Damascus. "The American decision to arm armed terrorist groups demonstrates... the direct involvement of the United States in the Syrian bloodbath," the official said. "This raises serious questions about their good faith when it comes to finding a political solution in Syria," the official added. Washington and Moscow -- which is allied with the Syrian regime -- have been spearheading efforts to organize a conference in Geneva to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict.
SourceAgence France Presse.



Question: "What happens after death?" Within the Christian faith, there is a significant amount of confusion regarding what happens after death. Some hold that after death, everyone “sleeps” until the final judgment, after which everyone will be sent to heaven or hell. Others believe that at the moment of death, people are instantly judged and sent to their eternal destinations. Still others claim that when people die, their souls/spirits are sent to a “temporary” heaven or hell, to await the final resurrection, the final judgment, and then the finality of their eternal destination. So, what exactly does the Bible say happens after death?
First, for the believer in Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us that after death believers’ souls/spirits are taken to heaven, because their sins are forgiven by having received Christ as Savior (John 3:16, 18, 36). For believers, death is to be “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23). However, passages such as 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 describe believers being resurrected and given glorified bodies. If believers go to be with Christ immediately after death, what is the purpose of this resurrection? It seems that while the souls/spirits of believers go to be with Christ immediately after death, the physical body remains in the grave “sleeping.” At the resurrection of believers, the physical body is resurrected, glorified, and then reunited with the soul/spirit. This reunited and glorified body-soul-spirit will be the possession of believers for eternity in the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21-22). Second, for those who do not receive Jesus Christ as Savior, death means everlasting punishment. However, similar to the destiny of believers, unbelievers also seem to be sent immediately to a temporary holding place, to await their final resurrection, judgment, and eternal destiny. Luke 16:22-23 describes a rich man being tormented immediately after death. Revelation 20:11-15 describes all the unbelieving dead being resurrected, judged at the great white throne, and then being cast into the lake of fire. Unbelievers, then, are not sent to hell (the lake of fire) immediately after death, but rather are in a temporary realm of judgment and condemnation. However, even though unbelievers are not instantly sent to the lake of fire, their immediate fate after death is not a pleasant one. The rich man cried out, “I am in agony in this fire” (Luke 16:24). Therefore, after death, a person resides in a “temporary” heaven or hell. After this temporary realm, at the final resurrection, a person’s eternal destiny will not change. The precise “location” of that eternal destiny is what changes. Believers will ultimately be granted entrance into the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21:1). Unbelievers will ultimately be sent to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). These are the final, eternal destinations of all people—based entirely on whether or not they had trusted Jesus Christ alone for salvation (Matthew 25:46; John 3:36).Recommended Resources: Logos Bible Software and Heaven by Randy Alcorn.What's new on

Iran Extends Presidential Election by Three Hours

Naharnet/Iran kept polls in Friday's presidential election open an extra three hours because of high voter turnout, state television reported. "On the order of the interior minister (Mostafa Mohammad Najjar), the polls will remain open until 9 pm (1630 GMT)," a ministry statement carried by Iranian media. It was the second extension of polling hours. Earlier, Najjar had announced an additional two hours of voting. According to Iran's presidential law, polls are open for 10 hours, with a likelihood of extensions. The Guardians Council electoral watchdog said voting was taking place "without any problems." The Interior Ministry has not given any turnout figures but some polling stations in the capital were packed with voters, according to AFP journalists. State television also broadcast footage of long queues at polling stations across the country, where more than 50 million people are eligible to vote. Iran is electing a successor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is constitutionally barred from serving a third consecutive term.Source/Agence France Presse.

Ahmad el-Assaad, président de l’Option libanaise. «Nous allons vers l’escalad

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Ahmad el-Assaad, président du parti de l’Option libanaise, a déclaré qu’il était présent lors de l’incident qui a coûté la vie à l’un de ses partisans, Hachem Salman, devant l’ambassade d’Iran. Il promet une escalade de son action.
Comptez-vous entreprendre d’autres mouvements après l’assassinat du responsable estudiantin du parti, Hachem Salman?
Bien sûr, nous allons vers l’escalade. Pour le moment, nous examinons les mouvements à entreprendre dans le cadre d’un plan concret. Nous n’acceptons pas que le sang du martyr ait été versé pour rien. Hachem Salman est mort pour le Liban et nous espérons que son martyre soit l’étincelle qui réveillera le peuple afin qu’il pense à se soulever contre le statu quo, à l’instar de Mohammad Bou Azizi en Tunisie. Hachem représente chacun d’entre nous, s’ils veulent nous tuer tous, pas de problème!
Les partisans du Hezbollah ont eu recours à 
l’intimidation pour vous empêcher de manifester dans la rue. Allez-vous réussir à faire face aux chemises noires?
Nous connaissons leur style. Nous savons qu’il y a des sacrifices à consentir. J’étais présent avec les protestataires. Ma voiture était à l’arrêt et j’ai assisté au spectacle. Nous avons réussi à quitter les lieux. Aujourd’hui, la liberté ne se présente pas sur un plateau d’argent. Tous attendent un changement de la conjoncture régionale, ce n’est pas de cette façon que les vrais changements s’opèrent. La révolte du peuple libanais doit être à la mesure de son désespoir. Il y a un prix, nous sommes prêts à le payer.
Vous contestez l’implication du Hezbollah dans les batailles en Syrie, alors que, lui, dit vouloir protéger les arrières de la Résistance…
Le Hezbollah raconte beaucoup d’histoires. Il prétend combattre à Qoussair pour empêcher les takfiristes de pénétrer au Liban pour nous agresser… C’est pourquoi, je voudrais demander au Hezbollah si Hachem Salman le chiite, fils et petits-fils de chiites, est takfiriste. Après ce qui s’est passé, on peut dire que le Hezbollah a un problème avec celui qui ne partage pas son avis, qu’il soit chiite, sunnite ou chrétien. Ils sont prêts à liquider toute personne qui n’appuie pas leur projet. Nous étions devant l’ambassade d’Iran pour adresser un message au régime iranien. Le groupe était formé en majorité d’étudiants, et tout le monde sait que l’intervention du Hezbollah en Syrie lui a été dictée par Téhéran. Nous voulons dire à ce régime: s’il est de votre intérêt de défendre Bachar el-Assad en Syrie, fort bien! Envoyez votre armée pour l’aider. Pourquoi demander à nos jeunes de combattre à votre place? Jusqu’à quand allons-nous continuer à servir de bouclier?
Le chef du Hezbollah pense que l’emprise des groupes armés en Syrie représente un grand 
danger pour tous les Libanais, et pas seulement pour le Hezbollah et les chiites. C’est pour garder le Liban à l’abri qu’il a été combattre en Syrie. Votre commentaire?
Il veut justifier son action en Syrie et pour cela il invente des motifs. La vérité, et nous le savons tous, c’est que les agissements du Hezbollah en Syrie provoquent un très grave problème, qui s’étendra sur des générations, pour le Liban et les chiites du Liban. Pourquoi nous créer des ennemis dans le monde arabe? Juste parce que le régime iranien veut protéger Bachar el-Assad? Telle est la vérité. Tout le reste n’est que prétextes peu crédibles.
Estimez-vous que le Hezbollah a enregistré une 
victoire à Qoussair ou qu’il se dirige vers sa chute?
Chaque balle tirée par le Hezbollah à l’intérieur du territoire syrien est une défaite. Il n’y a pas eu de victoire. Avons-nous remplacé Jérusalem par Qoussair? C’est une mascarade. Ce qui se passe à Qoussair ou ailleurs constitue une défaite pour tout citoyen doté d’une conscience et d’un sens des responsabilités. Ce n’est pas permis! Il existe en Syrie deux camps qui sont en conflit, nous souhaitons évidemment que la Syrie devienne un pays démocratique, civilisé, pluripartite, quel rôle le Hezbollah ou tout autre parti a à faire là-dedans?
Le renforcement de la force armée du Hezbollah constitue-t-il une garantie pour les chiites?
Ces armes représentent un danger qui menace les chiites et le Liban tout entier. Parce que ces armes nous attirent des ennemis au sein même de notre environnement.
Qu’est devenue l’équation tripartite (l’armée, le peuple, la Résistance) contre laquelle 
vous vous insurgez?
C’est un grand mensonge. Malheureusement, le Liban est en manque d’hommes d’Etat. Nous avons de «jeunes enfants» d’Etat, des individus qui convoitent des fonctions supérieures. En l’absence d’hommes, l’Etat est inexistant. Les hommes d’Etat doivent être crédibles, transparents, fermes…
Ceux qui se prétendent responsables chez nous occupent des postes sans y être responsables.
Propos recueillis par Saad Elias
Lu 158 fois

Fantasy and reality clash in Iran’s elections

By: Amir Taheri /AsharqAlawsat
Almost a month ago, Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei described today’s presidential election as “a celebration.” Although not a candidate, Khamenei has remained firmly in the limelight thanks to a series of speeches hammering home that theme. However, a study of the speeches and televised debates of the eight approved candidates reveals anything but a celebratory mood. Despite real or affected differences, the eight reflected Iran’s sombre mood.
Let us start with the lexicon used by the eight candidates. A number of the words and phrases reflected the state of Iran’s economy, which the candidates saw as “catastrophic.” These phrases included: “inflation,” “fall in purchasing power,” “mass unemployment,” “currency collapse” and “economic decline.” The eight agreed that, after three years of “negative growth,” Iran was poorer than four years ago. In the debates, the word “inflation” was used 26 times. Other words and phrases described the causes of the “catastrophe.” The words “mismanagement” and “wrong directions” were most frequently cited. Other words and phrases, such as “corruption,” “misuse of public funds,” “social injustice” and “wasting resources” were also bandied around.Another word most frequently used was “crisis,” refuting Khamenei’s claim that Iran is prospering in peace and harmony.
The candidate who most used this term was Mohammad-Reza Aref. He said: “The first task of the next president is to save the nation from crisis.”
All candidates—except Saeed Jalili—placed the blame for the “crisis” on sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union over the nuclear issue. Of the candidates, only one—again Jalili—clung to the belief spread by Khamenei that sanctions have either had no effect or even been beneficial. The other seven admitted that sanctions have been effective in hurting the people, though, perhaps, not in changing Khamenei’s mind. Jalili echoed Khamenei’s claim that Iran could beat sanctions through “economic resistance.” However, others poured scorn on that claim. “How long should we resist?” demanded Mohsen Rezaei Mirgha’ed. “Should we resist until our people die of hunger?” Mohammad Qarazi insisted that economic problems could not be solved by “empty slogans.”The exchanges on the nuclear issue revealed an interesting fact. Apart from Jalili, none of the candidates share Khamenei’s position. Even Ali-Akbar Velayati, who has been Khamenei’s foreign policy advisor for 16 years, implicitly accused Jalili of failure.
Velayati also revealed part of the chaos that policy-making suffers under Khamenei. He recalled secret negotiations he held with French president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008 which he had hoped would lead to an accord under which the international community would recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium. According to Velayati, the accord collapsed when “a prominent figure” in Tehran announced during a Friday sermon that Iran rejects negotiations. Velayati made another important charge. He claimed that in the recent talks in Almaty, the P5+1 group comprised of the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany had offered “proposals on which we could have progressed.” However, Velayati claimed that Jalili had rejected the proposals.
In one way or another, the candidates admitted the failure of Iran’s foreign policy. The next most frequently used word was “America.” Jalili echoed Khamenei’s belief that the United States is in terminal decline and that we will soon witness “the end of America.” The other candidates, however, urged a revision of foreign policy in order to “reduce the cost we have to pay,” as Velayati put it.
Hassan Rouhani, the only mullah among the candidates, acknowledged the United States’ global leadership position by describing it as the “village headman” that could not be ignored. With the exception of Velayati, who served as foreign minister for 16 years, all candidates demonstrated a surprising lack of knowledge regarding international affairs. Some even made mistakes on issues concerning Iran itself.
For example, Jalili seemed to believe that the UN had passed the famous Resolution 598, which ended the Iran–Iraq War, after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.
Another candidate, Mohammea-Baqer Qalibaf, did not know that then president Khatami had visited France during Jacques Chirac’s presidency, not that of François Mitterrand who had died three years earlier.
All candidates, except Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, Rezai and Aref, tried to blackmail others by claiming they possessed “secrets” and “documents” against their rivals.
Qalibaf, a former police chief, had a heated exchange with Rouhani, a former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, about their joint responsibility in crushing the student revolt under Khatami.
Jalili accused Velayati of falsifying history and threatened to publish unspecified documents, including audiotapes.
Other frequently used words were “insecurity,” “freedom” and “individual liberties.” Aref and Rezai insisted that Iran is suffering from a shortage of liberties. Haddad-Adel, a philosopher by trade, tried to explain that freedom and liberty do not have the same meaning in Islam as in secular society. Some words stood out for their absence. “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad” was hardly mentioned, although all claimed the country is now in a terrible mess. That implies only one thing: the blame for the mess rests with the supreme guide, not the president. “Israel” was not mentioned either, because the candidates knew that the slogan about “wiping Israel off the map” has become a sour joke. The debates and speeches reveal another remarkable fact. The candidates know that, as president, they would have to deal with reality, while the supreme guide is a prisoner of his fantasy world.
Whoever is made president—even the servile Jalili—is sure to run into trouble with the supreme guide, continuing the pattern set from the start when president Banisadr and Supreme Guide Khomeini clashed just one year after the revolution. Iran’s problems are not solely due to the quality of its political personnel: they are mainly caused by the nature of the irrational system concocted by a few politically illiterate mullahs almost four decades ago.
A bad man in a good system cannot do his worst. A good man in a bad system cannot do his best.

What is “Islamic” statehood?

By: Sherif Ayoub/Asharq Alawsat
The resurgence of Islamic thought in the 20th century has served as a call to action by some Muslim leaders, demanding the adherents of the religion, such as myself, work together to supplant the Western-dominated models of statehood in Muslim countries. In fact, it could be argued that the root of the most organized opposition movements in the last century in these countries has been the aspiration for social transformation corresponding to Islamic jurisprudence, rather than the liberal ideals promoted in the West. However, beyond the euphoria of latest successes of political Islam in bringing Islamic movements to power in the wake of the Arab Spring, this transformation poses challenges for Muslims seeking the truth about the claims that Islamic statehood promises bliss and salvation to the populace. The conundrum, of course, becomes apparent in the contrast between the stature of Islamic Empire in the seventh and eighth centuries, and the less-than-stellar performance of attempts to establish Islamic states in the modern era.
Essentially, two questions present themselves here: first, given that God is omnipotent and will undoubtedly not keep his benevolence from his true followers, how is it that the countries that seek to impose a model of Islamic statehood in the modern era are consistently ranked lower in development indicators than their Western counterparts?
And, second, when one thinks of the achievements of the Islamic Empire, did that success rest more on being Islamic, or on having an effective and functional state that was the most advanced in its time?
As it turns out, these two questions depend on the perception of the relationship between the Islamic belief system (including its moral underpinnings) and the effective functioning of a state. More specifically, they demand a clearer assessment of the role of the state in enforcing moral conduct as one of its core functions, especially with regard to ensuring well-being for its citizens.
To be sure, there should be a complementary relationship between the state and religious authorities in promoting (and enforcing) certain behavior among the populace. It is, however, the consistent demand by the leaders of political Islam for a state-centric model of enforcing religious beliefs that is being disputed here. Besides the fact that Muslim countries are, by and large, endowed with limited budgetary resources with which to face up to the large and increasingly complex challenges that confront them, this state-centric model of religious enforcement has paradoxically shifted the discourse in the religious centers from focusing on explaining religious values to explaining instead the importance in winning political battles against the liberal “infidels” to impose Islamic law by force.
As for the vilification of the Western model of statehood, it is not entirely clear where the basis of such fervent animosity resides. On the face of it, this model proposes democratically elected executive and legislative branches and an independent judiciary co-existing in an effective balance of power, governed by a constitution that also outlines the rights and freedoms of its citizens. In fact, it may be argued that this “Western” model of statehood conforms more closely to Islamic jurisprudence than the one on offer by some of the states in the Muslim world (for example, responsive leaders, effective judicial system, greater welfare, and so on).
Bearing this in mind, aspirations for the revival of the Islamic empire through the imposition of moral conduct using the powers of the state are misplaced. Instead, a more pragmatic approach is better, whereby religious authorities concentrate on their God-given opportunity to lead the Muslim populace on the path established by divine guidance. The state, for its part, should concentrate on the well-being of its citizens (all of them equally, no matter their gender or religion) in the most effective and efficient manner possible. With that, the Western models of statehood may not be so un-Islamic after all.

Nabatiyeh is Hezbollah’s fortress
Now Lebanon
This is the first in a three-part series translated from the original Arabic version published in the Lebanese Al-Hayat newspaper. Parts II and III will be published here on June 15 and 16.
NABATIYEH, Lebanon – We have met with many male and female natives of Nabatiyeh in their southern city, as well as in Beirut and its southern suburb. The majority of those requested anonymity, but a few said they do not mind having their names mentioned. We decided not to mention any names throughout the article for fear that every piece of information mentioned in this report would be attributed to those people whose names were disclosed.
One native of Nabatiyeh, who makes no secret of his adherence to old religious traditions and customs, says that the Shiites are now divided into two categories, one which wants to defend Sayda Zeinab and her shrine and another which silently believes that Sayda Zeinab is the one defending us.
This comes up in the context of Hezbollah and its participation in the ongoing fighting in Syria. However, such statements are often twisted and laden with innuendos and those making them often wish for anonymity.
The posters of various shapes and colors that greet Nabatiyeh’s visitors paint a vivid image of the region’s political identity. Right at the entrance of the town, visitors are greeted by posters of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, slain Hezbollah official Imad Mughniyah, Iranian leaders Imams Khomeini and Khamenei, and Amal leader Speaker Nabih Berri. One finds alongside these posters a few others of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
This does not mean that Hezbollah is ruling Nabatiyeh based on repression, deterrence, and force, but rather through potentially far more effective tools. Indeed, the party provides job opportunities and medical and educational services that go far beyond simple daily offerings. These include, for instance, the Al-Nour card: Based on a 20,000-LL ($13) monthly subscription, it allows its holders to benefit from prices reductions in various Hezbollah-affiliated shops and warehouses, entertainment locations, kindergartens, restaurants, and organized hajj pilgrimages.
Furthermore, the number of religious rituals and celebrations has grown exponentially, thanks to the addition of Iranian ceremonies and occasions which were elevated to religious obligations by the Khomeini doctrine. These events, in addition to those linked to Hezbollah’s rich organizational and political history, create a fake unified identity. Anyone who diverts from it feels as if they are living unprotected out in the wilderness.
An industry targeting children
This parallel society is completed with a wealth of colors and clothing, such as the prevalence of black garments, women wearing the abaya, and men sporting beards and toying with prayer beads. It is also manifested physically, in schools and boy scouts troops, which contributes to the shape of society as a whole.
Not even children are spared in this human-fashioning industry. For the past three years, condolence gatherings have been organized for children between three and six years of age. During which, they are told moving and simplified stories – sometimes in the shape of cartoon movies – about Karbala and the death of Hussein. Ceremonies are also organized to celebrate girls reaching the age of wearing the hijab (nine years old), which is labeled as a “religious obligation.” During the hajj season, a representation of the Kaaba is placed in the center of Nabatiyeh, and children wearing the garments of Mecca pilgrims go around it in a reenactment of hajj rituals. Children provide Hezbollah with a gateway into families that are not part of its traditional supporters, whether by showering the child with party images and symbols that drive a wedge between the household’s inclinations, or by controlling entertainment facilities to which mothers – regardless of their personal political inclinations – are forced to turn when their children are on vacation. Things are no different in death than they are in life, as the families of those martyred are confiscated both materially and symbolically. A martyr may leave behind a family that needs to be supported, something which may prove too heavy a burden for his parents. The same holds true for those wounded who require medical treatment and follow-up. The party also honors its martyrs in such a manner as to leave his family with no choice but to support it, as failing to do so would be tantamount to denying its own martyred relative.
Moreover, Hezbollah’s ties to its public can be likened to calling an apostate to account. Indeed, anyone steering away from the party would be exposed to a costly sanction. In addition to accusations of wrongdoing, the “apostate” may be called upon to pay back all funds and allocations they and their family have received in the past. Whoever opts out of this relationship may be asked to pay back what the party gave to his household, or the medical expenses of a family member down to the last penny. Still, the mechanism of fusion and assimilation goes far deeper than that, giving an illusion that Hezbollah rules its public based on joint unanimous agreements among its members. Since 2000 at least, the party has been covertly relying on an arsenal of ideas blending the leftovers of leftist activism, Nasserism, and Palestinian resistance in order to spread unquestionable principles pertaining to the Resistance (‘the Cause’), and whatever relates to them. These principles are shared by everyone, be they rulers or regular people, as many Hezbollah critics use expressions like “we all support the Resistance.”
“You are a traitor”
Hezbollah has the authority to hand out definitions and define the appropriate behavior linked to them. Accordingly, it can brandish accusations of “treason” in the face of anyone who does not adhere to the party’s instructions and definitions. It can also selectively unearth files from a bygone era and infer some connection or relation between the person whose loyalty is being questioned and some former Israeli collaborator. This is an easy task in a region that spent 18 years under Israeli occupation, which – like any long-term occupation – created a web of relations in the region.
This “new” history that started with Hezbollah is portrayed in terms of integrity, and it is even “sanctified.” In contrast, the “old” history is frowned upon and discarded. One cannot imagine that any hand could be laid upon a poster of Hassan Nasrallah or Ayatollah Khomeini, but the same does not hold true for the statue of Nabatiyeh-born scientist Hassan Kamel al-Sabbah. One newspaper described what happened to the statue as follows: “Once more, students of the Hassan Kamel al-Sabbah High School in Nabatiyeh recklessly distort the memorial statue of the late Lebanese inventor after whom their school is named. The base and body of the statue thus bear the graffiti writings of teenagers and the names of students and their girlfriends, and some have even adorned it with injurious drawings. Far from being content with chalk and white-marker drawings, the students also placed an empty beer bottle above the book in the statue’s right hand.”
The destruction of old heritage houses has become a daily concern for Nabatiyeh’s inhabitants against a backdrop of collusion between Hezbollah’s clout and the rampant wave of construction with the interests it represents. The 1992 destruction of the al-Fadl family mansion remains the greatest achievement of this tendency, given that the al-Fadl family acted as the city’s traditional leaders until the 1960s.
The “city of Jabal Amel”
Nabatiyeh has an “old” history,” one that has been a source of pride for its residents. Up until the 1950s, it was known as “the city of Jabal Amel” and was a Mecca for educated people. It was even said that “a poet cannot be called a poet until he has proven his worth in Nabatiyeh.” This aura is due to old religious schools run by Shiite scholars in Jbaa, Mashghara, and Jezzine, all of whom had Nabatiyeh as their ultimate target. When these schools waned somewhat, they were soon revived with the Hamidiyya School (known as the ‘Mother of All Schools’) established by Ahmad Youssef Makki in the late 19th century. This school attracted Shiite talents, be they students or teachers, including Suleiman al-Daher, Mohammad Jaber al-Safa, Mohammad Rida, Ali Fahas, Mohammad Ali al-Houmani, and others.
These schools, which originally had a religious character, also taught subjects associated with modern schools. This coincided with the tenure of Rida al-Solh, (former PM Riad al-Solh’s father) at the helm of the Nabatiyeh regional directorate in 1883, as he had a special interest in education. The establishment of the al-Irfan magazine in 1909 in Sidon by Ahmad Aref al-Zein, along with Nabatiyeh Sheikhs Ahmad Rida and Suleiman al-Daher, was viewed as the start of modern Shiite and southern expression. The independence period in the 1940s saw the establishment in Nabatiyeh of an official elementary school known as the Algeria School, which was run by Antoun as-Sayegh. During Kamel al-Assaad’s tenure as the minister of Education, a teachers’ training school and a secondary school were established in 1962 as part of the broad orientation of former President Fouad Chehab’s era.
Key educated figures in the South, such as Ali al-Zein, Ahmad Jaber, Jaafar Sharafeddine, Mohammad Serhan, and others, had an essential participation in Nabatiyeh’s cultural activities during the 1960s and 1970s. This can be likened to religious and literary figure Sheikh Abdel Hussein Sadeq’s moving from his hometown of Khiyam to Nabatiyeh, where he founded the first Husseiniyya (a meeting place for social and religious occasions) in Lebanon in 1901.
An atmosphere of optimism
By and large, this accumulation of benefits resulting from worldly and religious sciences impacted the situation of women. Nabatiyeh’s women were renowned as the most open of all women in the South. Many women still wore the niqab and hijab in the 1950s, but they had a social backdrop devoid of any sectarian or political dimensions, proven by the fact that even Christian women covered their hair before the drastic changes of the 1960s and 1970s.
Optimism in the future had other sources, as in the burgeoning modernization of political representation in the 1960s.
The al-Fadl family went politically extinct and their last representative was Mohammad al-Fadl, an eccentric MP and minister who was viewed as more a native of Beirut than of Nabatiyeh. His tenure marked the end of the partisan loyalty to the al-Fadl family, which went over to their allies from the al-Assaad family who were competing with their rivals from the Osseiran family. This was due to the fact that Ahmad al-Assaad, Adel Osseiran, and Youssef al-Zein, all of whom were major land owners, monopolized the greatest share of popularity in the area until the 1960s. While it is true that the al-Assaad family’s clout extended beyond Nabatiyeh to the remaining parts of the Shiite South, the fact is that an agreement between any two of these three forces allowed them to prevail over the third, both in Nabatiyeh and its district. More importantly, land ownership provided reason enough for one to be regarded as a leader. Yet, Nabatiyeh undertook the modernization of leadership and representation through several of its natives who went into the political fray at the time. These include, for instance, Rafiq Shaheen who studied political science in the early 1960s. Then came his cousin Anwar as-Sabbah who studied engineering, and Ghaleb Shaheen, who held a PhD in political science. In addition to these three US graduates, Abdellatif al-Zein, a lawyer and native of the neighboring village Kfar Remman, replaced his father Youssef.
Much like other capital cities, Nabatiyeh does not rely on a guaranteed loyalty to one creed or party. Rather, it is the home of a trade tradition consolidated by traditional immigration that took Nabatiyeh natives to faraway countries like Mexico and Cuba starting in the 1930s, as well as by the ‘Monday market’, the most important popular meat and relevant goods market in the South. This was an early testimony to the role of the trade sector in the city’s life.
Why Nabatiyeh?
Nabatiyeh lies at the heart of the South. It is located near Sidon and Zahrani and not far away from Tyre and Bint Jbeil. It easily became a regional trade and cultural center thanks to its position at the heart of the district’s 28 villages. It is also renowned for having the most uniform sectarian composition of all districts in the Shiite South.
This central position and sectarian uniformity explain Hezbollah’s early interest in this city, especially since it has been a traditional cradle for Ashura observances in the shape of condolence gatherings to mourn the death of Imams Hassan and Hussein (and their companions) for centuries, even if these gatherings only acquired their current shape in 1909. Yet, another version recounts that these commemorations were brought in from Iran to Nabatiyeh by Iranian national Bahjat Mirza during the 1920s.
The Ashura symbolism, as exalted by Hezbollah, was further consolidated by the start of the uprising against the Israeli occupation following the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. This is added to the role played by Sheikh Ragheb Harb, a native of Jebshit in the Nabatiyeh district, in the resistance against the Israeli occupation, and by Kfar Remman, native Sheikh Hassan Malak’s close relation with Hezbollah, knowing that Sheikh Malak was originally a member of the Iraqi Da’wa Party. An equation specific to the South was written as of 2000, painting Tyre as the playground of the Amal Movement and Nabaiyeh as Hezbollah’s.
In truth, the arduous road that led to this stage acted as a prelude to the birth of Hezbollah.