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Bible Quotation for today/The Wisdom
James 03/13-18: "Are there any of you who are wise and understanding? You are to prove it by your good life, by your good deeds performed with humility and wisdom. But if in your heart you are jealous, bitter, and selfish, don't sin against the truth by boasting of your wisdom. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven; it belongs to the world, it is unspiritual and demonic. Where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is also disorder and every kind of evil. But the wisdom from above is pure first of all; it is also peaceful, gentle, and friendly; it is full of compassion and produces a harvest of good deeds; it is free from prejudice and hypocrisy. And goodness is the harvest that is produced from the seeds the peacemakers plant in peace."
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For November 03/13
Behind The Lines: Assad’s North Korean connection/By JONATHAN SPYER/J.Post/November 03/13
Null negotiator/The Daily Star /November 03/13
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For November 03/13
Lebanese Related News
Lebanon can attend conferences on Syria: Sleiman
Lebanon Averts Internet Cut as Sehnaoui Confirms Payment of Dues
No peace in sight for troubled Tripoli
Six Wounded as Bab al-Tabbaneh Gunmen Intercept Van Carrying Jabal Mohsen Residents
Israel vows to deny Hezbollah weapons as details of Syria raid emerge
Judicial Police Detain Two Germans after Kidnappers Free them
ISF Hits Back at Eid: He was Summoned following Judiciary Permission, Driver
Repeated Confessions Several Times
Airport Security Thwarts Cocaine Smuggling Operation into Lebanon
Three Killed in Individual Dispute in Jbeil
Berri Urges Formation of National Unity Cabinet to Press Officials to Assume their Responsibilities
Suleiman: Lebanon's Neutralization from Syria is First Step towards its Neutrality
Mansour to Attend Arab Foreign Ministers Meeting in Cairo on Sunday
U.N.: Syrian Children in Lebanon Need Urgent Help ahead of Winter
ISF Hits Back at Eid: He was Summoned following Judiciary Permission, Driver Repeated Confessions Several Times
Miqati Meets Tripoli MPs: Army Will Continue its Mission to Restore Calm in City
Cocaine from Brazil seized at Lebanon airport
Miscellaneous Reports And News
Behind The Lines: Assad’s North Korean connection
Turkey denies cooperating with Israel in strike on Syria air base
The nuclear diplomacy of North Korea and Iran
Syrian opposition leader meets Arab League chief
Brahimi: No preconditions for Geneva II
Brahimi is 'One-Eyed, Many-Tongued', Says Syria Govt. Paper
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks: The ‘day after’ now only 6 months away
Pakistan Summons U.S. Envoy to Protest over Mehsud Drone Strike
Iran Guards want to keep 'Death to America' chant
Tunisia Ruling Islamists, Opposition Deadlocked over PM
Lebanon Averts Internet Cut as Sehnaoui
Confirms Payment of Dues
Naharnet Newsdesk 02 November 2013/Lebanon avoided being cut from the India-Middle East-Western Europe (IMEWE) consortium project after caretaker Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui announced that the country had paid its dues, he announced via Twitter on Saturday. He revealed that the payment was made at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday. “The payment problem was solved thanks to a successful coordination between the Minister of Finance and myself,” he tweeted. Earlier, al-Akhbar and al-Mustaqbal newspaper had warned that Lebanon's Internet connection was at threat over its failure to pay its dues to the IMEWE consortium project.
Sources from the Telecommunications Ministry told al-Akhbar that the consortium had warned Lebanon that it should pay its dues of some 1.6 million dollars before a November 3 deadline otherwise the consortium would be forced to vote Lebanon out of the project. The sources said that this warning was given “a while ago” to Abdul Monem Youssef, the general director of the state-owned OGERO Telecom, but he only informed Sehnaoui of the development on Friday. His memorandum held the minister responsible for any repercussions that may erupt should Lebanon fail to meet the deadline, which would cost the country some 60 percent of its Internet, said al-Akhbar. Al-Mustaqbal reported however that OGERO Telecom had sent the memorandum to the Ministry on May 21, but it did not receive any reply from Sehnaoui. Youssef then informed state officials, starting with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati, of the development. Al-Mustaqbal explained that cabinet had tasked on December 13, 2011 the telecommunications minister of “representing Lebanon at all agreements linked to the IMEWE cable”. This task includes paying Lebanon's dues and performing maintenance operations on the cable, which therefore exempts OGERO Telecom from any legal or contractual obligations towards the consortium, explained the daily.
Detain Two Germans after Kidnappers Free them
Naharnet Newsdesk 02 November 2013/The Judicial police detained on Saturday two German citizens after they were freed from their kidnappers in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa over drug trafficking accusations, the state-run National News Agency reported. The news agency reported that the two Germans were kidnapped after financial disputes with their abductors. The Germans reportedly failed to pay their kidnappers 5,000 Euros. A soldier and suspect Mohammed Shuqair were killed during a raid by the Lebanese army in the Dar al-Wasiaa area in the Bekaa to detain the kidnappers of the Germans. The two men were freed in the Bekaa town of Douris in the Baalbek district after resolving financial disputes that led to their abduction. The two Germans, who were kidnapped on Friday overnight, were "taken to an unknown location" after their kidnappers tried in vain to coerce a cash transfer bureau to hand over money in one of the abductees' names. "The kidnappers later made a call to one of their friends, demanding the payment.”The two men hold both German and Lebanese citizenship. The kidnapping is the first of its kind since 2011, when a group of seven Estonian cyclists were abducted for four months. An Army Command statement issued on Saturday explained that Shuqair was wanted for several offenses, including killing an Internal Security Forces member and a citizen firing at military and security forces. On Saturday, Shuqair opened fire at an army patrol in Dar al-Wasiaa in Baalbek, killing a soldier. The patrol fired back and killed the suspect.
Source/Agence France PresseNaharnet.
Six Wounded as Bab al-Tabbaneh Gunmen Intercept Van Carrying Jabal Mohsen Residents
Naharnet Newsdesk 02 November 2013/At least six Jabal Mohsen residents were wounded when a van carrying 14 passengers came under gunfire at al-Mallouleh intersection in Tripoli on Saturday, state-run National News Agency reported. “The army transported the wounded to the al-Saydeh Hospital in Zgharta for treatment,” NNA said. LBCI television identified the men as Ghawi Hasan, Ali Rabih al-Haithi, Ali Dib, Ali al-Mazloum, Hassan Youssef and Saeed Issa. "The gunmen opened fire at the bus and then beat some of the workers travelling in it. All nine Alawites had either gunshot or beating wounds and were taken to hospital for treatment," the security official said. "The bus they were on stopped at the entry of (Tripoli's Sunni) Bab al-Tebbaneh. That's when the gunmen attacked," the official added. A doctor who treated the men said none had been injured critically.
Three more Alawites suffered knife wounds on Saturday after they were attacked by unknown men in Tripoli's central Tal Square. Another man, who works for the city municipality, was also attacked by a knife-wielding assailant in a separate incident. Earlier on Saturday, Arab Democratic Party spokesman Abdul Latif Saleh told al-Jadeed television that “14 workers from Jabal Mohsen were kidnapped and shot in Bab al-Tabbaneh as they were returning in a bus from their workplaces.”He later reassured that all the passengers were evacuated from Bab al-Tabbaneh and were receiving treatment at al-Saydeh Hospital. “Our neighborhood is besieged and the gang of the criminal (former Internal Security Forces chief) Ashraf Rifi is behind the shooting,” Saleh added.
“This is a crime against the entire Lebanese republic … where is Mufti (of Tripoli and the North) Malek al-Shaar who is calling for coexistence, where are Tripoli's MPs and the president of the republic?” Saleh said. “They're saying that their problem is with the Arab Democratic Party, but it is clear that their problem is with the entire (Alawite) sect,” the spokesman added, wondering “why doesn't the army enter Bab al-Tabbaneh.”Saleh urged Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji to bring the culprits to justice, warning that “there is extreme anger among the residents in Jabal Mohsen.”
Meanwhile, Jabal Mohsen residents blocked al-Shamal road that separates Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh in protest at “the recurrent attacks on the neighborhood's residents,” al-Jadded said. The army also closed the road to avoid any escalation, the TV network added. On Wednesday, sporadic sniper gunfire returned to Tripoli and tensions surged after gunmen shot and wounded four Jabal Mohsen residents in the city despite an army security plan that had managed to end seven days of clashes on Monday. The army had deployed on Sunday in Jabal Mohsen as part of a security plan to put an end to seven days of deadly clashes in the northern city. On Monday, three troops were wounded as the army deployed in Bab al-Tabbaneh.
At least 14 people were killed and more than 80 wounded in a week of clashes between the two rival neighborhoods. The fighting broke out on October 21 as celebratory gunfire erupted in Jabal Mohsen over Syrian President Bashar Assad’s appearance on al-Mayadeen television for an interview.
The neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen have been for years witnessing deadly gunbattles, but skirmishes began to flare with increasing intensity after the Syrian uprising began in March 2011. Intermittent clashes and sniper activity continued on Thursday between Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, leaving one person dead and several others were wounded, including soldiers. Long-running tensions between the rival districts were stoked further after the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau summoned ex-MP Ali Eid – leader of the Arab Democratic Party, Jabal Mohsen's main political and armed force – for interrogation in the case of the deadly twin bombings that hit two Sunni mosques in the city in August.
Eid's driver Ahmed Mohammed Ali is being held by the Intelligence Bureau on charges of smuggling to Syria Ahmed Merhi, one of the main suspects in the bombings against al-Taqwa and al-Salam mosques in Tripoli on August 23. Merhi is reportedly the driver of the second explosive-laden vehicle that blew up near al-Taqwa mosque.
On October 14, seven people involved in the August bombings were charged, including three in custody. The majority are from Jabal Mohsen. Forty-five people were killed and over 800 wounded in the twin bombings. The Arab Democratic Party has denied any involvement in the attacks and stressed that the suspects are not members of the party while slamming media leaks attributed to the Intelligence Bureau. On Thursday, the Islamic Alawite Council noted that “it is unjust to accuse the entire Alawite sect" of the bombings, noting that "this cannot be accepted by any Muslim."
And in remarks published Thursday in As Safir newspaper, Arab Democratic Party top official Rifaat Eid, Ali's son, warned that “the ISF Intelligence Bureau crossed red lines when it summoned my father and he will definitely not comply with the request.” He declared that the accusations against his father are not based on any facts and that they are part of a Saudi Arabian agenda to settle scores with Syria.
Israel vows to deny Hezbollah weapons as details of Syria raid emerge
ISF Hits Back at Eid: He was Summoned
following Judiciary Permission, Driver Repeated Confessions Several Times
Naharnet Newsdesk 01 November 2013/The Internal Security Forces on Friday responded to remarks voiced by Arab Democratic Party leader Ali Eid after he was summoned for interrogation by the ISF Intelligence Bureau, stressing that the request was authorized by the relevant judicial authorities.“In response to remarks reported by some media outlets about Ali Eid rejecting to appear before the Intelligence Bureau and his willingness to appear before any other legal authority, and his claims that a person called Bassam al-Halabi who allegedly serves at the office of the bureau's chief had advised Khodor Shaddoud and his relatives to leave their neighborhood to avoid being arrested … the ISF Directorate General clarifies that the Intelligence Bureau does not have and did not have any officer, non-commissioned officer or agent with the name Bassam al-Halabi,” a statement said.
“If he was referring to First Adjutant Bassam al-Halabi, his place of service is the Halba judicial department, and therefore he has nothing to do with the work and missions of the Intelligence Bureau whatsoever, and supposing al-Halabi had prior knowledge, wouldn't it have been more logical for him to inform all the perpetrators, who are far more dangerous than Shaddoud, the thing that would have prevented the arrest of Youssef Diab, one of the main suspects in the case” of the deadly Tripoli bombings, the ISF added. It said Eid's accusations that Intelligence Bureau chief Col. Imad Othman had facilitated the escape of the Tripoli blasts suspects “are against the simplest rules of logic.” “How could the Intelligence Bureau chief arrest a culprit and seek to facilitate the escape of others?” the ISF added.
It noted that “the preliminary interrogation of Ali Eid's driver -- in which he openly admitted that Eid had asked him to smuggle the suspect Ahmed Merhi – did not happen at the Intelligence Bureau department,” but rather before army intelligence interrogators. “After the case was referred to the aforementioned bureau, he repeated the same confessions,” the ISF went on to say. It stressed that Eid's summoning over the issue of smuggling Merhi “happened following a permission from the relevant judicial authorities, which oversaw all the stages of the investigation from its onset.”“If he has any information related to the investigation, he better submit them to the investigators of the military judiciary, not through media outlets,” the ISF added. On Thursday, Eid said he was willing to appear before any security agency except for the Intelligence Bureau. “I don't trust it at all and its history is not honorable, especially with Syria's allies,” he added. “There is a conspiracy against our (Alawite) sect and I have abandoned politics to focus on serving people, but there is a conspiracy to eliminate all of Syria's allies,” Eid said. Eid's driver Ahmed Mohammed Ali is being held by the Intelligence Bureau on charges of smuggling to Syria Ahmed Merhi, one of the main suspects in the bombings against al-Taqwa and al-Salam mosques in Tripoli on August 23. MTV reported that Ali was first arrested on October 26 by Lebanese army intelligence agents on charges of smuggling Merhi into Syria at the request of the pro-Damascus former lawmaker.
Merhi is reportedly the driver of the second explosive-laden vehicle that blew up near al-Taqwa mosque. On October 14, seven people involved in the August bombings were charged, including three in custody. The majority are from Jabal Mohsen. Forty-five people were killed and over 800 wounded in the twin bombings. The Arab Democratic Party has denied any involvement in the attacks and stressed that the suspects are not members of the party while slamming media leaks attributed to the Intelligence Bureau.
Israel vows to deny Hezbollah weapons as details of Syria raid emerge
By Crispian Balmer | JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel said it would not allow advanced weapons to fall into the hands of Hezbollah, after a raid on Syria that opposition sources said had hit an air force garrison believed to be holding Russian-made missiles destined for the militant group. Israel has a clear policy on Syria and will continue to enforce it, officials said on Friday, after U.S. and European sources said Israel had launched a new attack on its warring neighbor. Israel declined to comment on leaks to U.S. media that its planes had hit a Syrian base near the port of Latakia, targeting missiles that it thought were destined for its Lebanese enemy, Hezbollah.
"We have said many times that we will not allow the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah," said Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan, a member of the inner security cabinet which met hours before the alleged Israeli attack. "We are sticking to this policy and I say so without denying or confirming this report," he told Israel Radio. Israel is believed to have attacked targets in Syria on at least four occasions this year, the last time in July, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying he would not let sophisticated anti-aircraft, anti-ship and long-range missiles move from the hands of Syria to its Hezbollah ally. One U.S. official and two European officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel was understood to have carried out the latest air strike on Wednesday. The officials did not identify the target in Syria, but the U.S. official and one of the European officials noted that in the past such Israeli operations have destroyed missiles to prevent their transfer to Hezbollah. A Latakia activist told Reuters that an explosion had rocked a garrison area that houses an air force brigade loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad near Snobar Jableh village mid-afternoon on October 30. Ambulance sirens were heard rushing to the scene, however, the activist, who calls himself Khaled, said there was a "total media blackout" about the incident. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights quoted sources as saying there were four or five explosions at the base, but only limited damage reported. Al-Arabiya news network said SAM 8 anti-aircraft missiles were destroyed. Former Syrian intelligence agent Afaq Ahmad, a defector now in exile in France, told Reuters on Thursday that contacts of his inside Syria, including in Latakia province, told him Russian-made ballistic missiles had been kept at the site that was attacked. Assad's forces, backed by Hezbollah and Iran, are battling rebels in a civil war that has killed well over 100,000. Khaled said Assad loyalists were frustrated about Israel's apparent impunity, recalling that the Syrian president had previously indicated Syria would respond to further attacks.
"Yet Israel keeps hitting us and there's no retaliation. So even the staunchest loyalists are getting very upset," he said.
IRRITATION BETWEEN ALLIES
Israel deliberately remains silent over its actions in Syria to keep a lid on tensions and try to avoid pushing Assad into a corner where he would feel compelled to respond. Locals said they did not hear warplanes at the time of the blasts and there was initial confusion about who was behind the attack. One source, who declined to be named, said the limited damage on the ground suggested pinpoint missile strikes. A foreign diplomat said that in the past the Israelis had succeeded in creating such confusion by using stand-off ordnance - missiles or gliding bombs that can be released many miles (kilometers) from the target. There was clear irritation in Israel about the U.S. leaks, which analysts said might signal irritation in Washington over Israeli action at a time when Syria had bowed to international pressure and was dismantling its large chemical weapons arsenal. "Washington is selling our secrets on the cheap," said top-selling Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth. Still, the White House and Pentagon declined to comment on reports of the strike. Israel has grown increasingly frustrated by U.S. policy in the Middle East, worried that President Barack Obama had been too soft on Assad and anxious over his rapprochement with Iran. Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University, said Israel had to make many calculations before approving attacks on Syria. "Israel is sending a message to Assad, saying 'don't play games with us'. But Israel must also realize that the situation is becoming much more delicate than ever before because this is going against the U.S. diplomatic agenda," he said. Rabi said the "working assumption" in Israel was that Assad was so focused on battling rebels that he could not afford to retaliate. However, he expected that Syria would seek international support to prevent Israeli air strikes. A senior Israeli official, while declining to confirm any Israeli attack, did not expect Syria to respond. "Assad is disarming (his chemical weapons) out of his own interests. He knows how to make the necessary distinctions," said the official, who declined to be named. Technically at war with Syria, Israel spent decades in a stable standoff with Damascus while the Assad family ruled unchallenged. It has been reluctant to intervene openly in the 33-month Islamist-dominated insurgency rocking Syria, however is determined not to see Hezbollah profit from the unrest. Hezbollah fought Israel to a standstill in a 34-day war six years ago. Israel has warned that any future conflict will be much more brutal. (Additional reporting by Maayan Lubell and Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Erika Solomon in Beirut, Khaled Oweis in Amman, and Phil Stewart and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Giles Elgood and Vicki Allen)
Pakistan Summons U.S. Envoy to Protest
over Mehsud Drone Strike
Naharnet Newsdesk 02 November 2013/Pakistan summoned the U.S. ambassador on Saturday to protest over two recent drone attacks including the one that killed the leader of the Taliban, the foreign ministry said. The government was determined to pursue talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, whose commander Hakimullah Mehsud was killed by a U.S. drone on Friday, the statement said. Mehsud, who was under a $5 million U.S. government bounty, was buried late Friday after being killed when a drone targeted his car in a compound in North Waziristan tribal district. The killing of its young, energetic leader represents a major setback for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a coalition of factions behind some of the most high-profile attacks to hit Pakistan in recent years. But it also threatens the government's efforts to begin talks to end the TTP's bloody six-year insurgency that has left thousands of soldiers, police and civilians dead. Source/Agence France Presse.
The Daily Star /November 02, 2013/ Arriving in Beirut from Damascus Friday, the Arab League and U.N. envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, announced that his opinion was not relevant to the peace process. Having previously stated that Syrian President Bashar Assad would not be part of any transitional government that the Geneva II conference might create, on his latest visit to the Syrian capital the veteran peace negotiator seems to have rescinded this position. But while Brahimi himself seems to have recognized that his personal opinion is of no import to negotiations, it is perhaps regrettable that the U.N. has not similarly realized that his overall presence is not terribly constructive. With Assad’s forces having gained the upper hand on the ground since the first Geneva conference of June 2012, Brahimi now finds himself having to distance himself from his original position, and one that the opposition is still pushing for: that Assad should be excluded from any discussions. Not only is Assad gaining ground, but his regime’s compliance with the Russian-U.S. brokered chemical weapons destruction plan has also curried favor with international actors. He can still count on the ideological and material support of friends Russia and Iran, and even Israel seems relatively content – give or take the odd weapons transfers to allies – with the status quo. All the while the opposition seems in greater disarray than it has been since the outbreak of the war over two years ago.
So why would Assad want to attend the Geneva talks, the date of which seems as unclear as ever? He has nothing to gain and everything to lose.
Brahimi now seems to be focusing instead on attempting to halt the violence on the ground. But does his career history leave us with much hope on this front? Both in Afghanistan and Iraq, the levels of daily violence seem to be increasing, not abating. And in Lebanon, whose cease-fire Brahimi helped broker in 1990, the political system is still a weak and faltering example of how a nuanced peace process is essential for any hope of future, and sustainable, stability. In the U.S. also we see an increasingly worrying lack of coherent foreign policy thinking on Syria. From President Barack Obama to Secretary of State John Kerry, and from Congress to the Republicans, there is so much confusion and zigzagging vis-à-vis Syria that the rest of the world is left wondering if this is the most inconsistent U.S. administration of recent times. And across the pond, Russia is left looking stronger and more determined than ever, never faltering in its pursuit of its goals. If one thing is to come from this increasingly depressing and bloody war, it’s that the U.S. is no longer a reliable ally for any of the states of the Middle East. And that if the rest of the world really wants to help Syria find a political solution now it must disband Brahimi’s role, for he is providing little more than sedatives for the Syrian people, and ultimately supporting Assad’s approach.
Behind The Lines: Assad’s North Korean
By JONATHAN SPYER LAST UPDATED: 11/02/2013/ J.Post
Reports that Pyongyang has sent pilots to Syria suggest the Damascus regime can no longer rely on its own airmen; ties precede current Syrian war, forms part of North Korea's broader network of relationship in Mideast. Reports have emerged this week indicating the presence of North Korean military personnel in Syria. They note that 15 North Korean helicopter pilots are operating there on behalf of President Bashar Assad’s regime. The reports have been validated by the pro-rebel but usually reliable Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.The nuclear diplomacy of North Korea and IranSpecter of N.Korea lurks in US debate on Syria's chemical weaponsThey are also not the first evidence that Pyongyang is actively involved on the ground in the Assad regime’s war effort.
Earlier this year, the Saudi-based regional newspaper Asharq al-Awsat carried eyewitness reports revealing the presence of North Korean officers among the Syrian regime’s ground forces in the city of Aleppo. On this occasion, the Syrian Observatory was itself the source of the report.
Asharq Al-Awsat detailed the presence of between 11 and 15 North Korean officers in the city. Rami Abdul Rahman of the organization said the men were artillery officers.
They were not, he said, taking part directly in the fighting. Rather, the men were engaged in providing “logistical support in addition to the development plans of military operations.”
These sightings are the latest confirmation of the long, close and cooperative relationship maintained between Pyongyang and the regime of the Assads.
The connection precedes the current Syrian war. It forms part of North Korea’s broader network of relationships in the Middle East. Most famously, of course, the plutonium reactor under construction at the al-Kibar facility near Deir ez-Zor, destroyed by Israel in September 2007, was built under North Korean supervision. North Korean participation in the reactor’s construction was confirmed by a high-level Iranian defector, Ali Reza Asghari. According to Der Spiegel, North Korean scientists were present at the site at the time of the bombing.
But Assad’s fledgling nuclear program was not the only project in which Damascus was aided by Pyongyang. Cooperation also took place both in the field of conventional weapons and in that of nonnuclear weapons of mass destruction. In an October 3 interview with Radio Free Asia, former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Bruce Bechtol noted that North Korea has been supplying weaponry, including chemical weapons, to Syria since the early 1990s. According to Bechtol, North Korea provides the Syrians with the ability to “marry up” chemical weapons with missile systems. He noted that the North Koreans constructed two chemical weapons facilities for the Syrians, which remain in operation today. In terms of conventional weapons, North Korea has played a vital part in Syria’s missile program.
The North Koreans are acknowledged experts in weapons smuggling process. They have continued to transport spare parts for Assad’s missiles into the country throughout the war, by air and by sea, coolly dismissive of the supposed international arms embargo. According to a 2012 report prepared for the UN Security Council, South Korea intercepted one shipment in May 2012, which was carrying graphite cylinders en route to Syria for Assad’s missiles. The Iraqi authorities also claim to have diverted a plane carrying North Korean material to Syria, last September.
Bechtol, the former DIA man, noted that “in the past few months, there’s been an uptick in the number of North Korean advisers and logistics personnel on the ground that are helping Syrians resupply themselves,” and in the maintenance of weapons systems earlier supplied by Pyongyang. Such maintenance and resupply, of course, is vital for a country engaged in a long war, in which systems are in daily use.
Why are the North Koreans doing this? The answer does not lie in the realm of ideology. Rather, the North Koreans are isolated and subject to sanctions. They need money, and will sell to whoever pays them.
So who is paying them? In the case of Syria, the answer is – almost certainly – the Iranians.As with Russia, Syria does not get free arms handouts from its sponsors outside of the region. It instead gets free cash handouts from its regional patron, Iran, for which the survival of the Assad regime is most vital.This money is then used to pay for Pyongyang’s and Moscow’s hardware and expertise.Of course, Iran is North Korea’s main customer in the Middle East.So Pyongyang’s evident involvement in the Syrian war is also a matter of longstanding alliances, as well as monetary gain. Most intriguing in the latest development is the involvement of North Korean pilots. It is not clear if these men are actually engaged in combat on behalf of Assad, or in other tasks. But their presence appears to suggest that the dictator’s problems with manpower also extend to his air force. The lack of trustworthy fighters has been the main problem facing the regime since the outbreak of the war. Iran has sought to solve it through the insertion of large numbers of Hezbollah fighters, Iraqi Shi’ite volunteers and Iranian Revolutionary Guards into the fighting lines. If Pyongyang is now supplying pilots to the regime, then appears it can no longer rely even on its own airmen. This is quite plausible.
On the one hand, the Assad regime is, among other things, an “air force” regime. Hafez Assad was himself a pilot and a commander of the Syrian Air Force. But as with other parts of the armed forces, the most loyal men in the air force are to be found in the most politically sensitive positions, not the most dangerous ones. So while the very powerful Syrian Air Force Intelligence (Idarat al- Mukhabarat al-Quwwa al-Jawiya) is largely officered by Syrian Alawites, the majority of the pilots are Sunnis. As such, it is perfectly possible that the same problems of trust apply to Assad’s aircrews as those which afflict his ground forces.
The evidence suggesting the presence of North Korean soldiers and aviators in Syria ultimately furthers testimony to the determined, effective and continuing effort by Assad’s allies, from the very start of the war, to keep him in place. It may also be assumed that the North Koreans have noted and enjoyed the rudderless, wavering US policy toward the same issue over the same period.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards committed to 'Death to America'
Ynetnews/AFP Published: 11.02.13/In light of negotiations with US, conservative groups in Iran call for continued use of 'Death to America' as official slogan, celebrate anniversary of US Embassy hostage crisis.The Revolutionary Guards, the elite Iranian regime's army, said Saturday they are committed to the slogan "Death to America," chanted at official ceremonies, just days before the 34th anniversary of the storming of the American Embassy in Tehran. "The slogan Death to America is the symbol of strength and determination of the Iranian nation against the dominance of the United States, which is an oppressive and untrustworthy nation," said the Revolutionary Guards on their official website. In recent weeks, a debate was launched in Iran on the merits of continuing to chant "Death to America " during official ceremonies, while some relaxation occurred in relations between Tehran and Washington since the election in June of moderate President Hassan Rohani. Telephone espionage by the United States government against the people of other countries are proof that you can not trust the leadership of the White House", the military group said. The Revolutionary Guards is a military organization that was founded after the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, and is directly loyal to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. It is made up of some 200,000 soldiers and its main role is to protect Iran's Islamic system. Hard-liners in Iran have unveiled two new "Death to America" songs at the former US Embassy in Tehran, hoping to keep anger high ahead of nuclear talks with Western powers. They performed the songs Saturday ahead of a planned massive protest Monday to mark the anniversary of the US Embassy takeover in 1979.
Authorities pulled down dozens of anti-US banners and posters around Tehran last week. The Imam of the Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, has said that Iran would continue to chant " Death to America " even while continuing negotiations on Iran's nuclear program. Conservative groups have announced that the celebration of the anniversary of the US embassy hostage crisis in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979,
would be more powerful than in previous years, in response to gestures of rapprochement to the West posed by President Rohani. The "Conquest of the American spy den", as it is known in Iran, was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the US in which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days after a group of Iranian students overtook the US Embassy in Tehran. It led to the severance of diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States. AP contributed to this article