June 22/2013

Bible Quotation for today/ Paul Gives Thanks to God
02 Corinthians 01: " Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes!  He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God.  Just as we have a share in Christ's many sufferings, so also through Christ we share in God's great help.  If we suffer, it is for your help and salvation; if we are helped, then you too are helped and given the strength to endure with patience the same sufferings that we also endure.  So our hope in you is never shaken; we know that just as you share in our sufferings, you also share in the help we receive. We want to remind you, friends, of the trouble we had in the province of Asia. The burdens laid upon us were so great and so heavy that we gave up all hope of staying alive.  We felt that the death sentence had been passed on us. But this happened so that we should rely, not on ourselves, but only on God, who raises the dead. From such terrible dangers of death he saved us, and will save us; and we have placed our hope in him that he will save us again,  as you help us by means of your prayers for us. So it will be that the many prayers for us will be answered, and God will bless us; and many will raise their voices to him in thanksgiving for us.

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources 
The threat facing Turkey/By: Aylin Kocaman/Asharq Alawsat/June 22/13
President-elect Rouhani faces inflated expectations/By: Amir Taheri /Asharq Alawsat/June 22/13
Israel's Go-Ahead on Natural Gas/Simon Henderson /Washington Institute/June 22/13

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for June 22/13

US Congressmen call for renewed EU push to blacklist Hezbollah
Constitutional Council Fails to Meet Again as Parliament Extension Law Becomes Valid
Lebanese army seals off parliament after protests
Lebanon: Anti-Extension Protesters Issue Symbolic Verdict Preventing 'Illegitimate ex-MPs' from Entering Parliament

Rocket Attack on Yarze-Baabda Not Ruled Out as Launch Pads Discovered in Ballouneh
Rocket hits high tension cable, Army disables second

Lebanese DM
, Ghosn: When Needed, Army Will Resort to Force in Order to Preserve Security
Lebanese Army Warns Outlaws, Vows to Confront them with All Means
Suleiman Accuses Syria of Sparking Diplomatic Spat with Lebanon
Suleiman Requests Measures Be Taken against Qanso over His Accusation of High Treason
Sleiman wants legal action against MP Qanso: source

President Suleiman Accuses Syria of Sparking Diplomatic Spat with Lebanon
Geagea Calls for Prosecuting Suleiman's Critics
Connelly Meets Aoun, Voices Concern over Increasing 'Sectarian Clashes'
Miqati: Hizbullah's Priority Lies in Supporting Syrian Regime

Tensions in Bir al-Abed as Personal Dispute Erupts into Gunfire
Saniora Meets Lavrov, Explains 'Dangers' of Hizbullah Involvement in Syrian War
One Person Accidentally Killed in Bab al-Tabbaneh

Man killed in Tripoli, three wounded in Bekaa clashes
Syrian Arrested for Attempting to Smuggle Drugs through Airport
Lavrov: Russia will honor its S-300 missile contract with Damascus. Two Russian warships head for Syria 
Iranian exile: Iranians against regime's policies
Kerry to defend Syria policy in Mideast visit
UN: More arms for Syria mean more war crimes
Russia: Swift Assad exit may leave political vacuum

Putin: 600 Russians, Europeans Fighting with Syrian Rebels
Syria Rebels Say They Received New Types of Arms
Kerry Heads to Qatar to Talk Syria Rebel Support

Jordanian Protesters Rally against Hizbullah, Assad
Ankara to Summon German Envoy, Warns Merkel against Obstructing Turkey EU Bid

Abbas in Beirut to Discuss Conditions of Palestinian Refugees Fleeing Yarmouk Camp
Palestinian PM Hamdallah Withdraws Resignation after Talks with Abbas


US Congressmen call for renewed EU push to blacklist Hezbollah

WASHINGTON -- After developments on Wednesday set back efforts to convince the European Union to list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, members of Congress are expressing their disappointment and calling for a renewed push against reluctant EU member states. Great Britain had been leading the initiative, but Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic continue to harbor reservations, Reuters reported, fearful that the listing would result in terrorist reprisals in Europe and further upheaval in the Middle East.
A unanimous vote by EU members is required to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist enterprise.
In a statement to The Jerusalem Post, Congressman Eliot Engel (NY-16) said he was "very disappointed" that some countries in the EU "continue to believe that Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization."
"EU-US cooperation on combating global terrorism will continue to face unnecessary obstacles until Hezbollah is properly labeled a terrorist organization, in its entirety," the congressman said. "Nonetheless, I applaud the efforts of the UK, France and Germany, and am confident that this situation will change in the future."
Speaking to the Post, Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05) signaled that the pressure on reluctant EU countries would not abate.
“It is critical that our friends and allies across the Atlantic publicly declare Hezbollah a terror organization so that we can choke off the funding this dangerous terrorist group gets across Europe,” Lamborn said. “All of our friends and allies in Europe need to step forward against this organization which has killed more Americans than any other after al-Qaida because inaction is only emboldening them."

Suleiman Accuses Syria of Sparking Diplomatic Spat with Lebanon
Naharnet /President Michel Suleiman considered that Syrian authorities were the first to spark the dispute on the complaints against Lebanon, considering that the memos sent to the United Nations and the Arab League on Syrian violations as constitutional. “The constitution states that the president is in charge of maintaining the safety of citizens and Lebanon's sovereignty and territorial integrity,” visitors quoted Suleiman as saying. They told As Safir newspaper published on Friday that the president considered that Syrian authorities initiated the matter, accusing the Syrians of sending “memos of stronger contexts to the U.N.”
“I stressed on the importance of stability in Syria in my memos... I also pointed out at the violations committed by both the rebels and the regime forces against Lebanon,” Suleiman said. He noted that Lebanese authorities at the beginning chose to “deal with the matter according to the norms that govern the relations of any two countries... But I was personally attacked and threatened.” Suleiman said that he is only interested in “safeguarding Lebanon and its citizens,” denying accusations that he is defending the Syrian opposition.
“My duty obliges me to safeguard Lebanon from any danger... I had to send those memos and I didn't demand any measures to be taken,” he added. On Wednesday, Hizbullah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem said in a hint to Suleiman that “those who are keen on Lebanon should not be subject to the U.S. dictates under the excuse of defending constitutional institutions.” Qassem also accused the president without naming him of “standing in the same trench of the American-Israeli project.”Another March 8 figure, Baath Party MP Assem Qanso accused Suleiman of “high treason.”The memos handed by the president to the U.N. and the Arab League deal with the violations and attacks carried out by all the warring parties in Syria.
Syrian regime troops have carried out attacks on Lebanese 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. There have also been several attacks from rebel-held areas of Syria on Hizbullah strongholds in recent months.

Tensions in Bir al-Abed as Personal Dispute Erupts into Gunfire

Naharnet/A personal dispute between a building janitor and members of the al-Meqdad clan erupted into gunfire on Friday in the al-Meqdad neighborhood near al-Msharrafiyeh, state-run National News Agency reported.
The janitor opened fire from his pistol, which left Mohammed al-Meqdad and a man from al-Ashhab family critically wounded. Earlier, MTV said two people were killed in the incident as al-Jadeed television said one person was killed and another was wounded. “The Hadi Nasrallah Highway was closed near al-Zaghloul Restaurant as the army sent reinforcements to the area,” al-Jadeed said.
Security forces have launched a probe and are pursuing the shooter, NNA said.

Rocket Attack on Yarze-Baabda Not Ruled Out as Launch Pads Discovered in Ballouneh

Naharnet /..The army, the presidential guards and security forces were on Friday conducting a search operation in the town of Araya in Baabda district where a strong blast was heard overnight, informed sources told Naharnet, as two rocket launch pads were found in Kesrouan district.
The mysterious blast that reverberated across several districts at around 12:43 am could have been caused by a rocket launch, the sources said. The information they provided to Naharnet came as the launch pads with one of them a 122mm Grad rocket installed on it were discovered in the town of Ballouneh in Kesrouan. The army drew a tight security dragnet and prevented reporters from approaching the area. The sources said the military and the security agencies were hearing witness testimonies in Aley, the North Metn and Kesrouan's mountainous areas after residents said they heard the buzz of a rocket and red flares going up into the night sky.
They did not rule out that a rocket had been intended to target a “state institution” in the area near Araya.
The defense ministry lies in the nearby town of Yarze while the presidential palace is in Baabda not far from it.
The participation of the presidential guards in the search by hundreds of armed forces for clues in the blast area was a sign that the palace could have been targeted, the sources added. Meanwhile, a security source told Agence France Presse that "a rocket hit an electricity line in the Jumhour area." "The army found two rocket launch platforms, one of which had an unlaunched rocket on it, in the Ballouneh area," northeast of Beirut, the source said. "It's not yet clear what the target was," the source added, calling the rocket fire "a terrorist act of sabotage." "This is intended to intimidate," he added. Electricite du Liban technical teams also inspected the Jiyyeh-Bsalim line in the Monteverde valley after initial reports that a high voltage electricity cable had exploded or a suspicious object had hit the line.
EDL said in a statement that small debris of metals gathered from the area confirmed the theory that a “metallic object” had hit the cable, without disrupting the power supply.
Military and security sources confirmed to Naharnet that investigators were studying all possible scenarios, without confirming any of them.
An official announcement will be made when the investigation is over, they said. Last month, two rockets slammed into the Hizbullah stronghold of Beirut's southern suburbs, wounding four. Meanwhile, the Army Command issued a statement on Friday afternoon, saying that “after the sound of an explosion was heard yesterday night in the Jumhour area, army units intensified their investigations.”As a result, “an army patrol found a launchpad equipped with an armed 122mm Grad rocket and a timer at noon Friday at the Mar Elias forest in the Kesrouan area of Ballouneh,” it added. “Another launchpad was also found and investigations revealed that it was used to fire a rocket of the same type overnight that landed in a valley between the areas of Jumhour and Bsous, cutting off high voltage power lines in the area,” the statement added. “A military expert arrived on the scene and defused the armed rocket as a probe got underway under the supervision of the relevant judicial authorities in order to identity the perpetrators and arrest them.”

Geagea Calls for Prosecuting Suleiman's Critics
Naharnet /Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea called on the state prosecutor to take measures against the parties criticizing President Michel Suleiman for sending memos to the U.N. and the Arab League on Syrian violations of Lebanese sovereignty. Geagea told An Nahar daily published Friday that the critics “are trying to target the last legitimate institution that is trying to assume its responsibilities after they succeeded in paralyzing the parliament and the Constitutional Council and the obstruction of the cabinet formation.”  He hoped that the general prosecutor's office “would take the necessary measures against the persons whom we have heard addressing the president inappropriately.” Geagea also accused them of “threatening him (Suleiman) or making false allegations.”The Lebanese should raise their voices in support of the president, he said. Suleiman has come under the criticism of several March 8 alliance figures. On Wednesday, Hizbullah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem said in a hint to Suleiman that “those who are keen on Lebanon should not be subject to the U.S. dictates under the excuse of defending constitutional institutions.” Qassem also accused the president without naming him of “standing in the same trench of the American-Israeli project.” Another March 8 figure, Baath Party MP Assem Qanso accused Suleiman of “high treason.” The memos handed by the president to the U.N. and the Arab League deal with the violations and attacks carried out by all the warring parties in Syria. Syrian regime troops have carried out attacks on Lebanese 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. There have also been several attacks from rebel-held areas of Syria on Hizbullah strongholds in recent months.

Lebanon: Anti-Extension Protesters Issue Symbolic Verdict Preventing 'Illegitimate ex-MPs' from Entering Parliament

Naharnet/Dozens of protesters rallied for the second consecutive day on Friday to denounce the extension of parliament's term, after the Constitutional Council failed to rule on the filed challenges due to the absence of three of its members. In a statement issued by a coalition of civil society groups and activists, the demonstrators said “the accused – the speaker and members of parliament – have usurped power and prevented the Constitutional Council from practicing its authority.” “The accused have tried to cover up for their continuous crimes of obstructing state institutions, undermining judicial authority, terrorizing the media, making deals under the table, discriminating against women and the disabled, weakening social security institutions, harming the environment and inciting sectarian sentiments,” the statement said.
And as the protesters noted that “the acts of the speaker and the MPs represent crimes punishable under the constitution,” they issued a “unanimous” symbolic verdict accusing “the speaker and the MPs of the 2009 parliament of usurping power and preventing them from entering parliament.” They called on citizens to “consider the 2009 MPs as former illegitimate lawmakers and to raise their voices against them during any rally they organize and not to implement any laws issued by their illegitimate parliament.” Protesters also urged citizens to take part in a demonstration organized by the civil society movement on Friday at the Riad al-Solh Square in downtown Beirut.
During the sit-in, some protesters tried to remove the barber wire surrounding Nejmeh Square which houses parliament's building, which resulted in a scuffle with security forces who prevented them from advancing.
“We will not stop until you leave” and “Go home,” read some of the banners carried by the protesters. Around 7:30 p.m., protesters started dismantling tents they had erected on Thursday evening, promising to stage a demonstration every Friday and noting that they suspended their sit-in in order not to “exhaust the participants.” On Thursday, hundreds of citizens and civil society activists demonstrated in rejection of the extension, as security forces prevented them several times from crossing the barriers into Nejmeh Square. Riot police several times tried to push protesters away from the square as demonstrators hurled plastic water bottles on them amid appeals from the organizers to keep the protest peaceful. Ninety-seven out of 128 MPs had voted in favor of extending parliament's term as three judges of the 10-member Constitutional Council have failed to attend four sessions so far, depriving the council of the needed quorum to rule on challenges. On Friday, parliament's extended 17-month term entered into force as the Council failed to meet to issue a ruling on petitions filed by President Michel Suleiman and the Change and Reform bloc against the extension.

Suleiman Requests Measures Be Taken against Qanso over His Accusation of High Treason

Naharnet/President Michel Suleiman demanded on Friday that measure be taken against Baath Party MP Assem Qanso over his recent accusation of high treason against the president. Suleiman made the request to caretaker Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi. Qanso had directed the accusation against Suleiman in light of the latter's filing of memorandums to the Arab League and United Nations on Syria's violations of Lebanese territory.
Suleiman defended his decision to send the memos, saying that his move was constitutional, reported As Safir newspaper earlier on Friday. The president said that he is only interested in “safeguarding Lebanon and its citizens,” denying accusations that he is defending the Syrian opposition. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea came to Suleiman's defense on Friday, calling on the state prosecutor to take measures against the parties criticizing for sending the memos. Syrian regime troops have carried out attacks on Lebanese 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.

Constitutional Council Fails to Meet Again as Parliament Extension Law Becomes Valid

Naharnet/The parliament's extended 17-month term entered into force on Friday as the Constitutional Council failed to meet for the fourth and last time to issue a ruling on petitions filed against the extension. The council's head, Judge Issam Suleiman, drafted a report to detail the reasons and the circumstances behind the failure to convene the 10-member body. He referred it to President Michel Suleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri, caretaker Premier Najib Miqati and the Change and Reform bloc of MP Michel Aoun. Later, the presidency confirmed receiving the report. “The president calls on the parliament with the beginning of its extension term to immediately start discussions over the adoption of a new electoral law,” a statement issued by the presidency said. The statement noted that “the parliament should shorten the extension timeframe by adopting a new vote law,” noting that an extraordinary parliamentary round will be set after discussions with the premiership to this end. For the fourth time Friday, three judges – 2 Shiites and a Druze – boycotted the meetings of the council after coming under political pressure aimed at preventing a ruling in favor of the petitions filed by President Suleiman and the Change and Reform bloc. The approval or the rejection of the challenges required the go-ahead of seven out of the council's half-Christian and half-Muslim members. But an eight-member quorum was needed for the body to convene. The lack of quorum made the 17-month extension law, which was approved by parliament end of May, valid after the end of parliament's mandate at midnight Thursday.The parliamentary elections will now be held in November 2014.

Connelly Meets Aoun, Voices Concern over Increasing 'Sectarian Clashes'

Naharnet/U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly expressed on Friday her country's deep concern with the rising number of sectarian-based clashes in Lebanon, calling on parties to exercise “restraint.” “The rising number of sectarian-based clashes... pose a threat to the country's overall stability... Parties should exercise restraint and respect for Lebanon’s sovereignty, stability, and security,” Connelly said after talks with Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun. Since the eruption of Syria's clashes in 2011, Lebanon has been witnessing several security incidents in the northern city of Tripoli, the southern port city of Sidon, along the Lebanese-Syrian border and in several other regions. Multi-confessional Lebanon, which fought a bitter civil war from 1975-1990, is deeply divided over the conflict in neighboring Syria, which is complicating its political life.
The March 14 opposition widely supports the Sunni-led uprising against President Bashar Assad, while the Hizbullah and its allies is actively aiding his forces inside Syria. At the same time, some Sunni fighters have gone to help the rebels. The diplomat pointed out that the primary concern of the U.S. is the “survival of Lebanon's democratic institutions and processes and the rule of the law.”
Connelly said that the Lebanese people and their representatives have the right “to decide under which law elections take place and who comprises the next government.” The parliament's extended 17-month term entered into force on Friday as the Constitutional Council failed to meet for the fourth and last time to issue a ruling on petitions filed against the extension. “The key issue for any democracy is that leaders and officials are accountable to the people and respect and abide by the rule of law, which includes allowing its democratic institutions to work,” the ambassador said. She stressed that the inability to carry out this “undermines the international confidence in Lebanon and will have ramifications beyond the political arena.: 
Connelly reiterated calls for politicians to abide by the Baabda Declaration. The Baabda Declaration was unanimously adopted during a national dialogue session in June 2012. It calls for Lebanon to disassociate itself from regional crises, most notably the one in Syria.She renewed the commitment of the U.S. to a stable, sovereign and independent Lebanon.

Lebanese Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn: When Needed, Army Will Resort to Force in Order to Preserve Security

Naharnet /Caretaker Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn warned on Friday that some sides “have awakened strife” in Lebanon given the recent developments in the country. He stressed in a statement: “The army will not stand idly by and it will resort to force when needed in order to preserve internal security and stability.” He explained that the “recent unrest and the remarks of incitement against the army are aimed at harming its morale in order to drag Lebanon towards strife.”he stressed. “The major duties the army is performing throughout Lebanon and its wise handling of developments is not a sign of weakness,” he continued.
“The military institution's actions stem from its keenness on higher national interests and civil peace,” said the minister.
Ghosn therefore called against the employment of the media and political rhetoric to divide the people, saying that they should be used to unite them. “Citizens who are loyal to Lebanon should realize the fragility of the current phase Lebanon is passing through and ignore the calls for strife and division,” he stated. Earlier on Friday, Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji stated that the army “will not tolerate attempts to undermine the security and stability of the Lebanese.”He added that the military will not tolerate any security violations, stressing that it will confront any attempts to destabilize the country. The army, the presidential guards and security forces were on Friday conducting a search operation in the town of Araya in Baabda district where a strong blast was heard overnight, informed sources told Naharnet, as two rocket launch pads were found in Kesrouan district. The mysterious blast that reverberated across several districts at around 12:43 am could have been caused by a rocket launch, the sources said. The information they provided to Naharnet came as the launch pads with one of them a 122mm Grad rocket installed on it were discovered in the town of Ballouneh in Kesrouan.

Miqati: Hizbullah's Priority Lies in Supporting Syrian Regime

Naharnet/Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati announced that the Lebanese state is more powerful than all Lebanese parties, including Hizbullah, while condemning its involvement in the fighting in Syria, reported CNN television. He told the television in an interview aired on Friday that Hizbullah's priority at the moment lies in supporting the Syrian regime. “We demand that no Lebanese side, whether it backs or opposes the regime, interfere in the Syrian crisis because that will have negative repercussions on Lebanon,” he added. Hizbullah has its priorities and at the moment they include supporting the regime, Miqati said. He noted however that the party will soon realize that protecting Lebanon should be the most important goal. “Our meddling in Syria will not change anything, but it will only negatively impact us,” remarked the caretaker premier.
“My greatest concern is not the Syrian crisis itself, but the ongoing flow of refugees into Lebanon,” he revealed. He noted that some 550,000 refugees have been registered in Lebanon, without counting the ones that have not been recorded, which amount to some 750,000. “These figures are too great for us to handle and we call on the international community and aid organizations to help Lebanon,” Miqati stated. Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had confirmed that members of the party are taking part in the fighting in Syria alongside regime forces. He justified the move, which has brought widespread criticism in Lebanon and abroad, by saying that the fighters are defending holy Shiite sites in Syria and combating American, Zionist, and takfiri agendas in the region.

Saniora Meets Lavrov, Explains 'Dangers' of Hizbullah Involvement in Syrian War

Naharnet /Head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc, former premier Fouad Saniora, on Friday explained to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “the dangers” of Hizbullah's involvement in the Syrian war, calling for the withdrawal of the group's fighters. According to Lebanon's National News Agency, Lavrov received Saniora during the International Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg. Saniora explained to Lavrov “the dangers of Hizbullah's participation in the Syrian war and the need to withdraw its fighters, return them to Lebanon and deploy the army on the border with the assistance of the U.N. peacekeeping force,” NNA said. For his part, Lavrov stressed "Russia's commitment to Lebanon's independence and sovereignty over its territory and the need for Lebanon to abide by the self-dissociation policy and the Baabda Declaration.”
Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has publicly announced Hizbullah's participation in the Syrian war. After the party helped regime forces recapture the strategic town of Qusayr near Lebanon's border from rebel hands, Nasrallah stressed that Hizbullah “will be where it needs to be” in Syria and that it will continue to “shoulders its responsibilities.”Hizbullah fighters, who have a strong presence near the Sayyida Zeinab Shiite holy shrine in southeastern Damascus, are trying to seize control of villages near Zayabiyeh and Babila in Damascus province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Wednesday.

Ankara to Summon German Envoy, Warns Merkel against Obstructing Turkey EU Bid

Naharnet/Amid a sharp spike in tensions between Turkey and the EU, Berlin and Ankara summoned each other's ambassadors in tit-for-tat moves Friday as fresh obstacles to the Turkish bid to join the bloc emerged.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called the envoy to his offices "due to remarks from Turkish officials toward Germany", a ministry spokesman said, leading Ankara to later threaten consequences over the row.
Turkish European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis had fumed Thursday that German reluctance to open a new chapter in EU accession talks was linked to Chancellor Angela Merkel's "election campaign". "That is unacceptable," the German spokesman, Andreas Peschke, told reporters.
"These remarks met with great disbelief here. We will make our position abundantly clear."But Ankara immediately fired back, saying it was planning to send for the German envoy to get an "explanation" of the summons in Berlin, a Turkish diplomat said. Bagis warned that Germany would face consequences if Merkel did not lift her resistance.
"I hope she corrects the mistake she has made by Monday... or this will lead to reactions," he told reporters.
He had warned earlier this week that "Merkel should consider the benefit of some 4,000 German businesses in Turkey." Bagis had reacted angrily to news from Brussels Thursday that EU member states failed to reach the necessary consensus on opening a new negotiating chapter with Turkey next week, which could have marked an upswing in ties. Diplomats said that Germany and the Netherlands expressed "reservations" at the closed-door talks between EU ambassadors. Bagis on Thursday had placed the blame squarely on Germany, the EU's top economy with the world's largest Turkish emigrant community as well as Ankara's biggest trade partner.
"If Merkel is looking for material for her election campaign, it should not be Turkey," Bagis told reporters, referring to the general election in Germany slated for September.
Bagis said Turkey's negotiation process would not come to an end "over a politician's remarks" unless there is a unanimous decision to block Turkey's accession.
Turkey's membership talks officially started in 2005 but so far only one out of 35 chapters has been closed, mainly due to disagreements over Cyprus, which joined the bloc in 2004, as well as serious German doubts about the bid. The dispute comes amid mounting tensions over Turkey's violent crackdown on protests in major cities.
Merkel said Monday that she was shocked by the authorities' response, calling it "much too harsh".
Peschke said there was "no direct link" between Ankara's handling of the demonstrations and the EU negotiations because the chapter in question dealt with "technical issues", but he confirmed that Germany "and other countries" had expressed reservations on Thursday.
And he noted that "of course accession negotiations take place in a political context". In February Merkel indicated she backed the opening of the new chapter, while warning that she was "skeptical" about the outcome of the negotiations. Her deputy spokesman Georg Streiter insisted Friday that neither Merkel nor her government "is questioning the accession process". "This is not about whether but rather how to move forward with the accession process," he said. He added that the EU wanted to continue working together with Turkey "also in the area of human rights". However the leader of Merkel's Christian Democrats' parliamentary group, Volker Kauder, said Friday that the crackdown could have serious consequences for Turkey's EU ambitions. "I can only warn (Ankara) against sending in the military" against protesters, he told the daily Die Welt in an interview to be published Saturday. "That would push Turkey light years away from Europe. Then the EU would have to suspend accession negotiations."
The Turkish government threatened this week to send in troops if the demonstrations, which have left four people dead and thousands wounded, continued.
Source/Agence France Presse.

Syria Rebels Say They Received New Types of Arms

Naharnet/Syrian rebels have recently received new weapons that could "change the course of the battle" against the Syrian regime, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army told Agence France Presse on Friday. "We've received quantities of new types of weapons, including some that we asked for and that we believe will change the course of the battle on the ground," FSA political and media coordinator Louay Muqdad said.
"We have begun distributing them on the front lines, they will be in the hands of professional officers and FSA fighters," he said. He did not specify what weapons had been received or when they had arrived, but added that a new shipment was expecting in coming days and recalled that the rebels had asked for "deterrent weapons." The apparent influx of weapons comes after the United States said it would provide rebel forces with "military support," although it has declined to outline what that might entail. "The weapons will be used for one objective, which is to fight the regime of (President) Bashar Assad," Muqdad insisted. "They will be collected after the fall of the regime, we have made this commitment to the friends and brotherly countries" who supplied the weapons, he said. On Thursday, Muqdad said rebels needed short-range ground-to-air missiles, surface-to-air missiles known as MANPADS, anti-tank missiles, mortars and ammunition.Source/Agence France Presse.

Question: "What are the attributes of God?" The Bible, God’s Word, tells us what God is like and what He is not like. Without the authority of the Bible, any attempt to explain God’s attributes would be no better than an opinion, which by itself is often incorrect, especially in understanding God (Job 42:7). To say that it is important for us to try to understand what God is like is a huge understatement. Failure to do so can cause us to set up, chase after, and worship false gods contrary to His will (Exodus 20:3-5).
Only what God has chosen to reveal of Himself can be known. One of God's attributes or qualities is “light,” meaning that He is self-revealing in information of Himself (Isaiah 60:19; James 1:17). The fact that God has revealed knowledge of Himself should not be neglected (Hebrews 4:1). Creation, the Bible, and the Word made flesh (Jesus Christ) will help us to know what God is like.
Let's start by understanding that God is our Creator and that we are a part of His creation (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 24:1) and are created in His image. Man is above the rest of creation and was given dominion over it (Genesis 1:26-28). Creation is marred by the fall but still offers a glimpse of God’s works (Genesis 3:17-18; Romans 1:19-20). By considering creation's vastness, complexity, beauty, and order, we can have a sense of the awesomeness of God.
Reading through some of the names of God can be helpful in our search of what God is like. They are as follows:
Elohim - strong One, divine (Genesis 1:1)
Adonai - Lord, indicating a Master-to-servant relationship (Exodus 4:10, 13)
El Elyon - Most High, the strongest One (Genesis 14:20)
El Roi - the strong One who sees (Genesis 16:13)
El Shaddai - Almighty God (Genesis 17:1)
El Olam - Everlasting God (Isaiah 40:28)
Yahweh - LORD “I Am,” meaning the eternal self-existent God (Exodus 3:13, 14).
God is eternal, meaning He had no beginning and His existence will never end. He is immortal and infinite (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:2; 1 Timothy 1:17). God is immutable, meaning He is unchanging; this in turn means that God is absolutely reliable and trustworthy (Malachi 3:6; Numbers 23:19; Psalm 102:26, 27). God is incomparable; there is no one like Him in works or being. He is unequaled and perfect (2 Samuel 7:22; Psalm 86:8; Isaiah 40:25; Matthew 5:48). God is inscrutable, unfathomable, unsearchable, and past finding out as far as understanding Him completely (Isaiah 40:28; Psalm 145:3; Romans 11:33, 34).
God is just; He is no respecter of persons in the sense of showing favoritism (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 18:30). God is omnipotent; He is all-powerful and can do anything that pleases Him, but His actions will always be in accord with the rest of His character (Revelation 19:6; Jeremiah 32:17, 27). God is omnipresent, meaning He is present everywhere, but this does not mean that God is everything (Psalm 139:7-13; Jeremiah 23:23). God is omniscient, meaning He knows the past, present, and future, including what we are thinking at any given moment. Since He knows everything, His justice will always be administered fairly (Psalm 139:1-5; Proverbs 5:21).
God is one; not only is there no other, but He is alone in being able to meet the deepest needs and longings of our hearts. God alone is worthy of our worship and devotion (Deuteronomy 6:4). God is righteous, meaning that God cannot and will not pass over wrongdoing. It is because of God’s righteousness and justice that, in order for our sins to be forgiven, Jesus had to experience God's wrath when our sins were placed upon Him (Exodus 9:27; Matthew 27:45-46; Romans 3:21-26).
God is sovereign, meaning He is supreme. All of His creation put together cannot thwart His purposes (Psalm 93:1; 95:3; Jeremiah 23:20). God is spirit, meaning He is invisible (John 1:18; 4:24). God is a Trinity. He is three in one, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. God is truth, He will remain incorruptible and cannot lie (Psalm 117:2; 1 Samuel 15:29).
God is holy, separated from all moral defilement and hostile toward it. God sees all evil and it angers Him. God is referred to as a consuming fire (Isaiah 6:3; Habakkuk 1:13; Exodus 3:2, 4-5; Hebrews 12:29). God is gracious, and His grace includes His goodness, kindness, mercy, and love. If it were not for God's grace, His holiness would exclude us from His presence. Thankfully, this is not the case, for He desires to know each of us personally (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 31:19; 1 Peter 1:3; John 3:16, 17:3).
Since God is an infinite Being, no human can fully answer this God-sized question, but through God’s Word, we can understand much about who God is and what He is like. May we all wholeheartedly continue to seek after Him (Jeremiah 29:13).
Recommended Resources: Logos Bible Software and Knowing God by J.I. Packer.
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Lavrov: Russia will honor its S-300 missile contract with Damascus. Two Russian warships head for Syria
DEBKAfile Special Report June 21, 2013/Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday, June 20, that Moscow will honor its controversial contract to deliver S-300 air defense missile systems to Syria. He spoke the day after the announcement that two warships carrying 600 Russian marines were heading for Syria "to protect the Russian citizens there” along with air force cover as needed. Lavrov told Russian TV: “We respect all our contracts and are honoring all our contractual obligations.” debkafile: Both Russia and the United States are pumping more arms into Syria for the decisive battle for Aleppo between the HIzballah-backed Syrian army and heavily mobilized rebel forces.
debkafile reported earlier:
Just one day after the G8 Summit ended in the failure of Western leaders to overcome Russian resistance to a resolution mandating President Bashar Assad’s ouster, Moscow announced Wednesday June 19, the dispatch to Syria of two warships carrying 600 Russian marines. They were coming, said the official statement, "to protect the Russian citizens there." Russian Deputy Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Gradusov added that an air force umbrella would be provided the Russian expeditionary force if needed.
debkafile's military sources report that the pretext offered by Moscow for sending the force thinly disguised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intent to flex Russian military muscle in response to the delivery of Western heavy arms to Syrian rebels – which debkafile first revealed Tuesday, June 18.
Putin was giving the West due warning that if they persisted in arming the rebels any further, a Russian troop landing in Syria would take place in the guise of an operation to evacuate endangered Russian nationals.
Some 20,000 Russians live in Syria. In former stages of the conflict, they were given the locations of assembly points should Moscow decide to lift them out of the war-torn country. The evacuation of Russian citizens would in itself dramatically denote the expansion of the Syrian conflict.
The Russian Interfax news agency identified the warships heading for Syrian shores as the Nikolai Filchenkov Large Landing Ship and the Vice Admiral Kulakov, a Udaloy 1 class destroyer, each carrying 300 marines. Aboard the former are also 20 tanks and 15 armored troop carriers or military trucks, while the Kulakov is designed mainly for anti-submarine warfare.
debkafile's military sources also reveal that, although Moscow described the warships are preparing to depart for Syria, they have actually been cruising in the Mediterranean since mid-May. Upon receiving their orders, they could reach Syria in just a few hours.
Maj.-Gen. Gradusov was quoted as saying: "We won't abandon the Russians and will evacuate them from the conflict zone, if necessary."
Asked if the Russian aircraft were intended as air cover for the Russian warships coming to Syria, he declined to answer, saying said only "They will act on orders."
The Moscow communiqué does not say when the Russian forces are scheduled to reach port in Syria or in which part of the country they are to operate. Our military sources say their impending presence in the war zone and the possibility of Western-supplied weapons in Syrian rebel hands causing Russian casualties are enough to contribute three more perilous dimensions to the Syrian conflict:
1. The harming of Russian soldiers would give Moscow an excuse to pile on more military reinforcements in Syria;
2. Russian air power is on its way to Syrian airspace before any decision is taken in the West about imposing a US-led no-fly zone over Syria;
3. The presence of Russian military personnel in Syria would pour more fuel on the already highly incendiary diplomatic and military tensions between Washington and Moscow over this conflict.

The threat facing Turkey
By: Aylin Kocaman/Asharq Alawsat
Turkey has found itself in the international spotlight over the past two weeks, despite the continuing slaughter in Syria, the Iranian elections, and the tensions in Iraq. The crisis in Turkey, which is escalating, is being covered live second-by-second by the world media.
The agenda in Turkey this week was a critical one, of course. The police operation in Taksim Square was covered live by international media. This was followed by coverage of the face-to-face meetings between the Gezi Park representatives and Prime Minister Erdoğan and members of his government. Following this, we saw the European Parliament’s decision regarding Turkey and the prime minister’s feverish response that which will certainly go down in history! And now, let us turn to the new uprising that has erupted on Turkey’s streets. . . .
How should we evaluate all this? Let’s take a look.
I have been saying in my articles and television appearances for a long time now that Turkey is facing a grace threat, namely the threat of communism. This is a bloody and savage communism that seeks to divide the country. Taksim Square, which the whole world watched live on June 11, revealed the scale of this threat. We saw illegal organizations declare Taksim to be a “liberated zone.” They made it impossible for local traders to go about their business and for local people to leave their homes, closing off entry and exit points with barricades. They also burned and looted cars, using the destroyed remains to reinforce the barricades that reached as far as the Republic Monument and the Atatürk Cultural Center.
The governor of Istanbul issued a series of statements via Twitter. “Peaceful protesters in Gezi Park should remain where they are; the police will protect them. Our aim is to remove the posters of the communist groups from [nearby] Taksim Square,” he emphasized.
This was a singularly appropriate and necessary operation. The barricades were torn down, the banners were removed and replaced with Turkish flags. The communist groups pulled back and the police stood guard in Taksim Square for the next two nights. These communist groups had literally been holding a rehearsal on Turkish territory for future action. But how prepared is Turkey for a violent communist uprising?
Supporters of the three main football clubs, who were perhaps the strongest backers of the protests, subsequently announced they were withdrawing from the protests, publishing a declaration that they would not be a tool of communist aggression.
The peaceful environmental protesters who had initially taken to the streets to complain against the Gezi Park project also complained. One protester said: “There are leftists everywhere: SODEP [Social Democracy Party], ODP [Freedom and Solidarity Party], TKP [Communist Party of Turkey], EDP [Equality and Democracy Party], DSIP [Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party], and many others are present. These demonstrations were not supposed to be political.”The protester added that the environmental protesters were unable to take down the communist banners and the photos of Kurdistan Workers’ Party leader Abdullah Öcalan without being subject to attack.
The same protester said that although there had been no police operation for about a week in Gezi Park, because of the fighting caused by the communist groups the first aid stations were full. “There were people from all sections of society in the park. But not now. Now there are only communists,” the protester said.
The people destroying vehicles in Taksim Square on live television are not the same peaceful environmental protesters that came out against Gezi Park. The people who attacked cafés for not joining in the protest and who reportedly dragged a woman wearing a headscarf and her six-month-year-old baby along the ground are not the same peaceful and democracy-loving youth who were demonstrating for the sake of Turkey’s future.
Turkey is facing communist aggression. The protests are a democratic movement turned into an attempted communist uprising. Those people from abroad who encouraged violence in the name of “supporting the protests” were unaware of the grave error they were making. Those people who described Erdoğan—who has been praised for recommending secularism to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt—as being akin to a Islamist dictator did not know what they were saying. However, others were perfectly aware. The manner in which the European Parliament issued a largely one-sided decision by describing an operation that was clearly targeting the communist groups as being against the protesters was both strange and suspicious. The European Parliament appears to have forgotten a very important fact: Turkey is not a member of the EU!
On what basis can the European Parliament issue a decision regarding Turkey? While I have always criticized the prime minister’s harsh language, I back his reaction of the European Parliament’s statement.
Here, I must insist on saying that I fully back the environmental protests in my country and our young people’s defense of their rights and demands for greater democracy. I want the prime minister to adopt an affectionate and inclusive discourse and to stop appearing to be oppressive and aggressive. At the same time, I also believe that the disorder in the country is merely serving those circles that are seeking to take advantage of it. I do not want these protests to transform into something that will not only harm Turkey, but the entire Middle East and Islamic world. This could fuel the communists, serving the material interests of various secret groups. That is why Turkey needs calm.
A major uprising is again taking place in Turkey, despite the government’s meetings with the Gezi Park protesters and accepting their democratic demands. Those who did not withdraw from the park were removed in a police operation; however, the atmosphere remain tense and and nervous.
I hope that this disorder will have come to an end by the time you read this article. Let us now hear words of reconciliation; let us disappoint those who hope for violence.

President-elect Rouhani faces inflated expectations
By: Amir Taheri /Asharq Alawsat
He is the “moderate reformist” that many have dreamt of. No, he is an apparatchik with little desire to seek significant change. Over the past week, these two contradictory analyses have dominated the debate regarding the election of Hassan Rouhani as the new president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Is another analysis possible?
To answer that question we must recall some key points.
To start with, Rouhani did not enter the election as the candidate of any faction. Even after the carnage conducted by the Council of Guardians at the start of the process, the four factions of the establishment still had their respective standard-bearers. Thus, Rouhani was able to cast himself as a trans-factional candidate.
At the same time, his record made him acceptable to all factions. Among the candidates left in the field he was unique in a number of ways.
He is a mullah and thus acceptable to clerics although he has never worked as a cleric. Thanks to decades of close association with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), he is acceptable to the military that have emerged as a power behind the scenes in Iran. His position as a security official for years also makes him acceptable to the powerful intelligence services that helped wreck Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s second term. Rouhani is also acceptable to technocrats and managerial elites of the regime. He is a successful businessman and, for years, was chief executive of the IRGC’s biggest conglomerate, granting thousands of lucrative contracts to the private sector.
But Rouhani is also a diplomat with many contacts abroad. Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and former French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin claim him as friend. Rouhani owes his election to no one but a combination of circumstances. As far as Rouhani is concerned, all that is on the positive side.
However, his election also includes negative features. To start with, he has no constituency of his own. Many of those who voted for him did so simply because they did not like the candidates of rival factions. They saw Rouhani as the only alternative to Velayati, Jalili, and Qalibaf who were—perhaps wrongly—believed to be Khamenei’s choices. The protest vote against the Supreme Guide went to Rouhani as the outsider. To be sure, as president, Rouhani would be able to use the resources at his disposal to build a personal support base. But that takes time and, as Ahmadinejad’s experience has shown, is no easy task.
Rouhani’s election has another negative feature.
Of the seven presidents of the Khomeinist republic, Rouhani has been elected with the lowest share of votes, a whisker above 50 per cent. The average share of the votes for the six previous presidents stands at over 70%, while Khamenei was first elected president with 96% of the vote. Last Friday’s election also showed the second lowest voter turnout in Iranian presidential election history. The turnout in the presidential election four years ago was almost 12% higher. More interestingly, the turnout in major cities was at an all-time low. In Tehran, Rouhani collected 1.2 million votes out of 6.5 million eligible voters. Lack of support in major cities is important if one wishes to see Rouhani introducing a program of reforms desired by urban middle classes. Rouhani faces another major problem. Because no one is quite sure who he is, many are likely to project their wishes and fantasies onto him and, if he cannot deliver, are likely to turn against him. This is what happened to Muhammad Khatami, a decent man but a poor politician who was swept into the presidency as the anti-establishment candidate before retiring as a vilified character eight years later. Iranians have already posted endless lists of desiderata on the Internet for Rouhani to deliver.
Many want him to release political prisoners on his first day. Others want him to stop the Iranian rial’s rapid meltdown and rein in inflation that has topped 30%. Some think his election spells the end of sanctions imposed by the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union.
For their part, the major powers are also dreaming of Rouhani solving the nuclear file with a magic wand. Inflated expectations could derail Rouhani’s presidency before it begins. No one knows how Rouhani’s presidency might turn out. We have to wait and see whether he can even form a cabinet of his own and ensure control of key ministries such as the Security and Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Defense, Interior, and Oil ministries.
I am told that Rouhani is negotiating with Khamenei to begin his presidency with a major symbolic move such as ending the house arrest of former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi and former Majlis Speaker Mehdi Karroubi. On the international front, he is reportedly seeking permission to devote his first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia to ease tension in the region and find a common solution to the Syrian tragedy.
Those who have high hopes for Rouhani would do well to lower their expectations. After all, in the Khomeinist system, the final say goes to the Supreme Guide under Articles 110 and 176 of the constitution. In the past two years, Khamenei has reasserted his powers with greater vigor and is determined to be seen as the sole decision-maker in Iran.
Like all his predecessors as president, Rouhani is bound to clash with the Supreme Guide. What matters is the manner in which that clash takes place.
Fortunately for him, Rouhani has promised almost nothing. The symbol of his campaign—a silver key—was an apt choice. A key opens a door, but we don’t always know what is behind the door it opens.

Israel's Go-Ahead on Natural Gas
Simon Henderson /Washington Institute
Israel's export decision should be welcomed, but domestic opposition could discourage necessary foreign investment.
Israel's decision to export natural gas, expected to be endorsed by the cabinet on Sunday, is a compromise that leaves the country's energy debate unresolved. Although the long-awaited decision largely endorses the findings of a 2012 report by the government's so-called Zemach Committee, it also increases the amount of gas to be used domestically from 47 to 60 percent -- an apparent concession to local lobbies that believe exporting the gas would damage the environment and further enrich certain Israeli entrepreneurs. Yet this change is partly offset by another provision: any exports to the West Bank and Jordan will be categorized as part of the domestic allowance.
The decision was delayed by Israel's January elections and the fact that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's new governing coalition wanted to reopen the debate. Even now, opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich has threatened to ask Israel's Supreme Court to intervene. Speaking on Wednesday, Netanyahu described the decision as being jointly made with Finance Minister Yair Lapid (who emerged as leader of the second-largest party in the Knesset after the elections), Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom, and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer. He also noted the need to balance between ensuring energy sources for Israelis and generating revenue, which he predicted would reach $60 billion with currently forecast exports.
Unmentioned was an ultimatum by Woodside Petroleum of Australia, which last year announced plans to invest $1.5 billion for a 30 percent stake in the huge offshore Leviathan field. Woodside had said it needed a decision on Israel's export policy by the end of this month in order to finalize the deal.
Israel has so far discovered around 800 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas in its Mediterranean Exclusive Economic Zone, the bulk of it in two fields: Leviathan (discovered in 2010 but not yet in production) and Tamar (discovered in 2009 and in production since this March). Another 200 bcm lies in the Aphrodite field belonging to Cyprus, on the other side of the maritime border from Leviathan. In 2010, the U.S. Geological Survey forecast that as much as 3,500 bcm lies in the Levant Basin, which encompasses the waters off Israel, Cyprus, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip. The area might also contain oil deposits.
The challenge facing these countries is to attract specialist exploration companies to look for more hydrocarbons. Both Leviathan and Tamar lie several thousand feet below the seabed, in areas where the water itself is 6,000 feet deep. The best places to drill are predicted by analyzing seismic data, but each hole requires around three months and $100 million to drill -- and may turn up dry. Texas-based Noble Energy, working in partnership with Delek of Israel, has a 100 percent strike rate so far, finding seven fields, five with commercially exploitable volumes of gas. But other companies' efforts have been fruitless.
In addition, even after initial discovery, fields need to be delineated before their size can be confirmed. The "60 percent" that Netanyahu has designated for domestic use is based on the overall amount of gas discovered, not the actual "proven" reserves, so the percentage could conceivably change again if Israel encounters shortfalls when bringing the fields onstream or finds greater-than-expected volumes of gas.
One danger of Israel's latest decision is that it may dampen enthusiasm among foreign companies to explore in the Eastern Mediterranean, which could leave valuable oil and gas undiscovered. The Israeli domestic market for gas is limited in both size and growth rate -- consumption is expected to total around 7 bcm in 2013, rising to only 13 bcm per year by 2020. Foreign and Israeli companies therefore want to maximize the amount exported from any discoveries.
The United States has a key interest in enlarging the indigenous energy resource base of countries in the region and encouraging increased prosperity. American businesses are already actively involved in the recent gas findings as contractors, suppliers, and investors. Initial enthusiasm was dampened after further exploration failed to turn up more big fields -- a factor that no doubt contributed to Israel's caution on export volumes. Yet Cyprus and Lebanon are anxious to develop any gas resources they have and will be competing with Israel for investment and drilling capacity. Regardless of final percentages, it is important that Israel's decision to export gas be seen as a step forward, not as a stopgap measure to placate domestic constituencies reluctant to exploit what Netanyahu called the "gift from nature."
**Simon Henderson is the Baker fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute.