November 07/2013


Bible Quotation for today/Warning to the Rich
James 05/01-06: "And now, you rich people, listen to me! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming upon you!  Your riches have rotted away, and your clothes have been eaten by moths.  Your gold and silver are covered with rust, and this rust will be a witness against you and will eat up your flesh like fire. You have piled up riches in these last days. 4 You have not paid any wages to those who work in your fields. Listen to their complaints! The cries of those who gather in your crops have reached the ears of God, the Lord Almighty.  Your life here on earth has been full of luxury and pleasure. You have made yourselves fat for the day of slaughter.  You have condemned and murdered innocent people, and they do not resist you."


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For November 07/13

Success is in sight, if sanctions can be lifted/By: Seyed Hossein Mousavian/Asharq Alawsat/November 07/13

Tripoli Dilemma: Justice by choice/The Daily Star/November 07/13
Let Us Prepare Ourselves For The Great Frustration/By: Hazem Saghieh/Al Hayat/November 07/13

Iran: A Week For Testing Intentions/By: Elias Harfoush/Asharq Alawsat/November 07/13


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For November 07/13

Lebanese Related News

Report: Suleiman to Attend Arab-African Summit as Date of Saudi Visit Unclear

Salam Still Patient but Obstructed by Grim Reality

Rifaat Eid Accuses Lebanese State of Adopting 'Law of the Jungle'

Berri Suspicious of Miqati's Call for Parliamentary Session on Caretaker Cabinet Tasks

Army Disperses Protesters near Tripoli's Bab al-Tabbaneh

Berri: Israel Installed Espionage Stations along its Border with Lebanon

Student Dies at AUB after Falling Off Engineering Faculty Building

Jumblat Assures He’ll ‘Never’ Visit Damascus, Calls for Dropping Discussion on Hizbullah’s Arms

Lebanon: EX MP charged with hiding suspect in Tripoli bombing
Independents emerge as kingmakers in AUB polls

Jumblatt: Ties with Arslan help Syria’s Druze


Miscellaneous Reports And News

Iranian FM: Only talks with world powers can resolve Tehran's nuclear issue
New book quotes Obama calling Netanyahu 'a pain in the a**'
US sets conditions for sanctions relief
US willing to offer Iran 'reversible sanctions relief' in exchange for 'first steps' on nuclear program

Netanyahu Says Palestinians Creating 'Artificial Crises' and Kerry Reassures 'Settlements Are Illegitimate'

Liberman to be sworn in as FM next week

Kerry seeks movement in Israeli, Palestinian talks

Kerry: US considers Israeli settlements to be 'illegitimate'

Peres urges Kerry not to allow anything to interrupt his mission for peace
Deadly Bombs Hit Syria Cities after Peace Talks Flop

US: Syria may try to hide chemical weapons

One Dead in Blasts Near Communist Provincial HQ in China

Assad Compares Syria War to Algeria Conflict

Syria rebels said to have seized arms cache in Homs

Is U.S. policy in Syria changing?

Will new-old Foreign Minister Lieberman join Netanyahu's talks with Putin in Moscow?

Blasts in Damascus, southern city kill 16

Palestinian leader Arafat was murdered with polonium: widow

Bab al-Tabbaneh protestors struck by tear gas

Report: Suleiman to Attend Arab-African Summit as Date of Saudi Visit Unclear
Naharnet Newsdesk 06 November 2013/Baabda Palace has informed Kuwait that President Michel Suleiman would attend the Arab-African Summit this month, al-Joumhouria daily said Wednesday amid a report that his visit to Saudi Arabia is imminent. Baabda sources told al-Joumhouria that during the summit, which will be held in Kuwait on November 19-20, Suleiman will call for the payment of funds that Arab countries had pledged during a donors' conference on Syria last January. Kuwait hosted the conference when participating nations pledged $1.5 billion for Syrian refugees among which around $374 million would go to Lebanon. Meanwhile, An Nahar daily said that the arrangements for Suleiman's visit to Riyadh have made progress, a sign that the president could kick off his trip over the weekend. Officials close to Suleiman confirmed to As Safir newspaper that no date has been yet set for the visit. “Contacts are underway to arrange a date,” the officials, who were not identified, said.

Salam Still Patient but Obstructed by Grim Reality
Naharnet Newsdesk 06 November 2013/Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam said Wednesday that had a decision to give up his task to form the new government served the nation, he would have taken the move. “Everyone knows that in my political career I haven't been after posts,” Salam told reporters at Baabda Palace following talks with President Michel Suleiman. “I would have given up my task had it served the nation,” he said. “May God give me patience,” Salam said after reiterating that the current stalemate was neither comforting to him nor to the president. He stressed that his objective remains the country's national interest.
“Since the beginning I said I will try not to procrastinate the (cabinet) formation but intentions are something and reality is something else,” he said. “Had I given myself a timeframe (for assembling a government) we would have been faced by failure,” the PM-designate told reporters. Asked about his recent visit to al-Mustaqbal movement leader former Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Paris, Salam said Hariri supported him in his mission. Salam has repeatedly blamed the conditions and counter conditions set by the rival March 8 and March 14 camps on his failure to come up with a cabinet line up since his appointment in April. “Everybody knows that the regional situation is confrontational which does not help at all not only at the level of the cabinet formation but also in all issues,” he said. Salam said he was being patient over his keenness not to behave in a way that would be seen as a challenge by one of the rival parties.

Berri Suspicious of Miqati's Call for Parliamentary Session on Caretaker Cabinet Tasks
Naharnet Newsdesk 06 November 2013/Speaker Nabih Berri has hinted that he needed guarantees from caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati that he would attend a parliamentary session to specify the jurisdiction of a caretaker cabinet. In remarks to several dailies published on Wednesday, Berri asked: “What are the guarantees that he would attend a parliamentary session if I reacted positively to his call?” Miqati told his visitors at the Grand Serail on Tuesday that it has become necessary to spell out the tasks of the caretaker government. “Parliament is the arena where this can take place,” he said. “How can I respond to his suggestion as long as he boycotts sessions?” Berri wondered in his remarks. Miqati has been boycotting parliamentary sessions with 45 items on their agenda over claims that the legislature should only meet for emergency issues amid a resigned cabinet. The sessions haven't been held yet over the boycott of several parliamentary blocs, mainly al-Mustaqbal, which has severely criticized Berri for trying to impose the power of the legislature on the rest of the state institutions. Al-Mustaqbal has also been calling for the withdrawal of Hizbullah fighters from Syria as a condition for the formation of an all-embracing cabinet. But Berri said: “I don't understand the link between the two.”Both the March 8 and March 14 alliances should get veto power to resolve the cabinet formation crisis, he said. “March 14 would emerge victorious because it doesn’t even exist in Miqati's cabinet,” the speaker added.
Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam has so far failed to form his government more than seven months after his appointment. He blames the conditions and counter conditions set by the rival parties on the inability to assemble his government.

Berri: Israel Installed Espionage Stations along its Border with Lebanon
Naharnet Newsdesk 06 November 2013/Speaker Nabih Berri revealed on Wednesday that Israel had set up a number of spying stations along its border with Lebanon, reported the National News Agency. He said during his weekly meeting with MPs at his Ain el-Tineh residence: “The stations begin at al-Naqoura, pass through Khiyam, and end in Shebaa.” The stations include advanced equipment that enable Israel to monitor the whole of Lebanon. They are also connected to stations that were set up at Mount Hermon and the Shebaa Farms and are linked to Tel Aviv, explained Berri. He stressed the need for concerned officials at the Foreign and Telecommunications Ministries to convene in order to tackle this issue, proposing that a complaint be filed to the United Nations Security Council.


Army Disperses Protesters near Tripoli's Bab al-Tabbaneh
Naharnet Newsdesk 06 November 2013/A number of youths gathered at the Abou Ali roundabout in the northern city of Tripoli on Wednesday to protest the army's recent measures in the neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh, reported the National News Agency. It said that the army soon arrived at the scene to disperse the protesters by opening fire into the air. The gatherers were protesting the army's setting up of a barrier at one of the entrance of Bab al-Tabbaneh. The youths described the barrier as a "blockade" of the area. The army later blocked with barbed wire one of the entrances of the neighborhood and used tear gas to disperse the youths, reported LBCI television.

Rifaat Eid Accuses Lebanese State of Adopting 'Law of the Jungle'
Naharnet Newsdesk 06 November 2013/Arab Democratic Party official Rifaat Eid accused the authorities of adopting the “law of the jungle” as caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel refused to approve a request for the party to hold a march on Friday. In remarks to As Safir daily published on Wednesday, Eid said: “Charbel's rejection to grant a license (for the demo) means there is no security in Tripoli and that the state cannot protect a march and cannot definitely protect a sect.”“The state is now adopting the law of the jungle and inciting citizens to follow it,” he said. Eid warned that he should not be blamed for failing to call for self-restraint on the residents of Jabal Mohsen, a neighborhood in the northern city of Tripoli that is an Arab Democratic Party stronghold. State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged on Tuesday Arab Democratic Party chief Ali Eid and his driver Ahmed Mohammed Ali with helping a suspect in the Tripoli mosque bombings escape justice. They were charged with hiding suspect Ahmed Merhi and smuggling him to Syria.
In remarks to An Nahar, Charbel said any march out of Jabal Mohsen would lead to unwanted repercussions. “We won't allow it under such delicate circumstances,” he said. But Eid told al-Joumhouria newspaper that his party had three options – “either to surrender to the Saudi plan, which will not happen, or head to civil war, which we rule out, or to extend our hands and say enough bloodshed.”Jabal Mohsen, whose residents are from the Alawite sect of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has been for years at odds with the majority Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. The rival districts have been involved in several rounds of deadly gunbattles, which intensified after the rebellion against Assad in March 2011. Eid accused the state of inciting for civil war and stressed that his party was avoiding bloodshed.

Student Dies at AUB after Falling Off Engineering Faculty Building
Naharnet Newsdesk 06 November 2013,/A student died at the American University of Beirut after he fell off one of the campus' buildings, reported the National News Agency on Wednesday. It said that Marwan Mustapha Hamzeh, 20, died after he fell off the fifth floor of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture building. Security forces soon arrived at the scene to investigate the incident. AUB later issued a statement confirming the death of the third-year engineering student “Out of respect for the family's privacy and grief, AUB will not be issuing further media statements on the tragedy,” it said. AUB Dean of Student Affairs Talal Nizameddin added: “Out of respect for his grieving parents and close family I strongly count on your support to discourage idle speculation and gossip on a very sad personal tragedy.” One of the victim's relatives had told al-Jadeed television earlier on Wednesday that Hamzeh had committed suicide.

Lebanon: EX MP charged with hiding suspect in Tripoli bombing
Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—A Lebanese MP was charged with involvement in the bombing of two mosques in the Lebanese city of Tripoli in August on Tuesday. Ali Eid, the Alawite leader of the pro-Assad Arab Democratic Party (ADP), was charged by military prosecutors with hiding a suspect in the bombings from the authorities and then smuggling him into Syria. The bombings, which killed almost 50 people and wounded over 100, caused a dramatic escalation in sectarian tensions in the city, leading to fatal clashes between Sunni and Alawite inhabitants of Tripoli, and the deployment of the Lebanese armed forces in a bid to keep order.
A source close to the investigation into the bombings told Asharq Al-Awsat that Eid is “to appear before a military tribunal judge…to testify and defend himself against the relevant accusations.” Following investigations by Lebanese security forces, the military prosecutor in charge of the case, Judge Saqr Saqr, charged Ali Eid and his driver, Ahmed Mohamed Ali, with hiding a suspect and helping him evade justice. The suspect is believed to be Ahmed Merhi, a member of the ADP. According to Article 222 of Lebanon’s Penal and Sentencing code, Eid and Ali could face two years in prison if found guilty.
The source said, “The judicial investigation will follow legal procedures outlined in the criminal procedure code, starting with the first military investigating judge Riad Abu Ghida. He will question Ahmed Ali and issue his view with regards to his arrest. He will also determine a time to question Eid and issue his judgment in accordance with regulations.”“If he does not comply with the investigation or does not attend, he will be served with an arrest warrant in absentia. This matter also applies to the other two defendants, Sukaina Ismail and Shehadeh Shadoud,” the source told Asharq Al-Awsat. Eid has previously refused a summons for questioning in August, citing a “conspiracy” against Tripoli’s Alawite community. In response, Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that Eid should testify before a competent court.
Mikati said Eid should “be present before an investigative judge to hear his testimony. As long as he denies his relationship with any of the arrested persons, suspected of planning the escape of Ahmed Merhi, accused of the Al-Taqwa Mosque bombing.” Mikati stressed that “the compassionate Alawite sect is part of the [social] fabric of Tripoli, and these accusations are not directed against them.” “I do not see and justification for the uproar we are witnessing on the matter, as long as the judiciary has taken charge of the case,” he added. The Lebanese Minister of Interior in the caretaker government announced that he will not approve the request filed by the ADP and the city’s Alawite Islamic Council on Tuesday, to hold a peaceful demonstration at the end of the week. The Minister informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the reasons for my refusal are known.”
A spokesman for the ADP, Abdul Latif Saleh, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Nobody wants a real solution in Tripoli,” adding, “We will not drag on any confrontations with anyone, but the message has been received and they do not want to achieve reconciliation, nor do they want to say: enough blood.” Salah alleged that the timing of the charges was suspicious, as it coincided with Eid’s call for a peaceful protest march through Tripoli. Salah said, “History will record that [the Arab Democratic Party] and the Alawite sect have preserved the local peace.” He added that his party aims to prevent “the outbreak of sectarian strife and civil war in Lebanon.”

Jumblat Assures He’ll ‘Never’ Visit Damascus, Calls for Dropping Discussion on Hizbullah’s Arms

Naharnet Newsdesk 05 November 2013/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat assured on Tuesday that he is not going to Damascus, stressing also that he “is still a centrist.” “I am never going to Damascus,” Jumblat said in an interview on LBCI television, denying reports that claimed he was reaching out to President Bashar Assad's regime. He elaborated: “I am still a centrist amid this division in politics, between religious sects and regarding the war in Syria.” “I want to neutralize Lebanon from the repercussions of the Syrian crisis and I am trying alongside President Michel Suleiman, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati and Speaker Nabih Berri to fend off the dangers.”Jumblat explained that unlike other political figures that thought the neighboring country’s regime would collapse, he “knew it would be a long war.” He detailed: “I gathered my information from (former Syrian army chief of staff Lt. Gen.) Hikmat al-Shihabi and he told me that Syria is heading towards a war.” “The Syrian regime aggravated imprisonments and killings until the revolution turned into a sectarian war.” The PSP leader considered that the Friends of Syria “disappointed” the revolutionaries due to the presence of “different agendas.”“What is required is stopping the smuggling of Takfiris into the country, uniting the financing and the military efforts of the Free Syrian Army, and sending a single delegation that represents all factions to attend the Geneva II summit.”“Whatever were the difficulties, not attending the Geneva II summit is a mistake because it would send a message that the regime is fighting Takfiris only,” he remarked, pointing out also that extremists were “created” by the regime itself. Jumblat revealed that he had asked United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman for weapons to be given to the FSA. “But I did not get a positive response,” he said. “I still believe that the FSA is the solution, with the participation of Syria’s army.”Regarding the effect of the neighboring country’s war on Lebanon, Jumblat expressed that he recommends a “partial neutralization.” “I urge a partial neutralization like forgetting about Hizbullah's weaponry and in case it was up for discussion, let's hold national dialogue sessions to tackle it,” he explained. He continued: “We should not suspend other issues in the country awaiting Hizbullah's withdrawal from Syria. We should reduce the damage.”“There are topics that we cannot have a decision over, like the possession of weapons and getting involved in the Syrian war on both sides of the conflict. Let us leave these issues aside and deal with daily matters that concerns citizens.” “It is not in my powers, nor in (ex-PM) Saad Hariri's powers to withdraw Hizbullah's fighters from Syria,” he added. “Hizbullah is a military and political reality. Let's forget about this issue.”The Druze leader, however, slammed the party's role in the Syrian war as a “historical mistake.”“(Hizbullah chief) Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has his own facts and I have my own political view. He is not a foreigner in the country but he is an extension of Iranian politics,” Jumblat said.Regarding the cabinet’s formation, he announced he would name premier-designate Tammam Salam again to head the council of ministers, if another round of parliamentary consultations took place. Jumblat also stressed that he rejects a de facto cabinet. “I have informed Suleiman that I will not take part in a de facto cabinet because it is not respect the National Pact.”“I support a consensual formula,” he clarified.

Tripoli Dilemma: Justice by choice
November 06, 2013/The Daily Star
As the Lebanese city of Tripoli has been in the news recently due to political tension and violence witnessed there, a local political leader defied the country’s judiciary, which was merely interested in questioning him.
Tuesday’s news that the politician had been charged with suspicion of involvement in one of the year’s deadliest terror crimes will only pose further challenges for the authorities.
Ali Eid, the leader of the pro-Syrian Arab Democratic Party, and a party member face charges that they smuggled a suspect in the twin Tripoli car bombings of late August out of Lebanon and into Syria. Nearly a dozen Lebanese and Syrians have seen arrest warrants issued in their names for their alleged roles in the attack.
The news of the warrant came as senior politicians and officials gathered to mark the golden anniversary of a judicial studies institute. President Michel Sleiman spoke of the need to punish the perpetrators of the Tripoli bombing. The caretaker government is also researching the process to ban the ADP in the wake of the investigation.
One hopes that all of the talk about making a move to limit the ADP, much as the authorities did to the Lebanese Forces in the 1990s, won’t obscure the key issues: the warrants and whether they can be served to Eid, who has political backing from influential parties.
The prominent MP Butros Harb, who was the victim of an assassination plot more than a year ago, revealed the other day exactly how the law works, or doesn’t work, in such cases. When Harb contacted a senior judicial figure inquiring about the people wanted in the attempt on his life, the response was, “We only apply the law where we can.”
This sums up the situation in Lebanon, where there are thousands of ignored arrest warrants in circulation and little capacity to serve those that should be served.
When an average person breaks the law and defies the authorities, that person usually pays a price. When someone “more important” does the exact same thing, sometimes with cameras and microphones in front of him, a very different scenario unfolds. Rounds of negotiations must be undertaken, supposedly to ensure that the case doesn’t have repercussions.
But every time the authorities have to ask permission in order to apply the law, there are repercussions anyway: More people have less respect for the law and the words of their elected officials.
In the end, the authorities will have to make a choice in Tripoli. Will the warrants for Eid and others eventually end up in the drawer marked “sensitive,” referred to only on the anniversaries of horrific crimes? Or will the Tripoli bombings, as painful as the memories are, be referred to in the future as the start of something positive for Lebanon’s judiciary?

Netanyahu Says Palestinians Creating 'Artificial Crises' and Kerry Reassures 'Settlements Are Illegitimate'
Naharnet Newsdesk 06 November 2013/Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday accused the Palestinians of creating "artificial crises" in nascent peace talks and called on Washington to get the negotiations back on track. "I am concerned about progress because I see the Palestinians continuing with incitements, to create artificial crises ... and run away from strong decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace," Netanyahu said at a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jerusalem. "I hope your visit will help steer them back to a place where we could achieve the historical peace that we seek," he told Kerry. The Palestinians threatened Tuesday night to bolt the talks, after a stormy meeting between negotiators from both sides in Jerusalem, with a Palestinian official telling Agence France Presse the negotiations had "broken down."
Netanyahu told Kerry at the start of their meeting Wednesday that the Israelis were "scrupulously" standing by the terms of the U.S.-brokered deal under which Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were relaunched in late July after a three-year hiatus. Acknowledging the tensions and difficulties, Kerry insisted: "I am very confident of our ability to work through them." "This can be achieved with good faith and a serious effort on both sides," he said, adding that with "real compromises and hard decisions this can be achieved." Kerry later met in Bethlehem with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, before returning to Jerusalem for talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres and a private dinner with Netanyahu.He reaffirmed after the talks Washington's rejection of Israeli settlement activity on Palestinian land as "illegitimate." "We consider now, and have always considered, the settlements to be illegitimate," Kerry said. "I want to make it extremely clear that at no time did the Palestinians in any way agree, as a matter of going back to the talks, that they could somehow condone or accept the settlements," Kerry said. "That is not to say that they weren't aware -- or we weren't aware -- that there would be construction," he added. His remarks related to a bitter row that has erupted over Israeli moves during the past week to push ahead with construction of more than 3,700 new settler homes. Several Israeli officials have claimed the settlement announcements were in keeping with tacit "understandings" between the two sides linked to the release last week of 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners. Their comments sparked furious denials from the Palestinians. "The Palestinians believe the settlements are illegal. The United Sates continue to believe the settlements are not helpful," Kerry said.
After months of cajoling, Kerry persuaded Israel and the Palestinians to reopen peace talks in late July after a nearly five-year break. The parties have largely honored Kerry's request to keep the content of the negotiations secret. But officials on both sides have acknowledged that no progress has been made, though they say that the talks have addressed all key issues at the core of the dispute. These include defining the borders of a future Palestine, and addressing Israeli security demands. The Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. They say they're willing to adjust those borders to allow Israel to keep some West Bank settlements as part of a "land swap." Netanyahu opposes a withdrawal to Israel's pre-1967 lines, saying such borders would be indefensible. He has also demanded that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, a condition they reject on the grounds that it would harm the rights of Israel's Arab minority and Palestinian refugees who claim lost properties inside what is now Israel. Netanyahu also rejects shared control of east Jerusalem, home to key religious sites and the Palestinians' hoped-for capital.
Source/Agence France Presse

Deadly Bombs Hit Syria Cities after Peace Talks Flop

Naharnet Newsdesk 06 November 2013/Bomb attacks in Syria's capital Damascus and the country's south killed at least 16 people on Wednesday, a day after Moscow and Washington failed to announce a date for proposed peace talks. In Russia, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Moscow was ready to host informal talks between Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and the opposition. Russian and U.S. officials on Tuesday failed to agree a date for a proposed peace conference in Geneva that has been delayed multiple times. On the ground in Syria, at least eight people were killed and 50 wounded in Damascus by a blast in the central Hijaz Square, state news agency SANA reported. "Eight citizens including two women were killed in an explosion caused by a bomb placed by terrorists at the entrance to the Hijaz railroad company," SANA said, using the regime's term for rebels. And in the southern city of Sweida, eight intelligence officers were killed in a suicide car bomb that went off by their facility, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"A suicide attacker detonated himself in a car bomb in front of the air force intelligence headquarters in Sweida, killing the intelligence branch chief and seven other officers," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The city is a bastion of the Druze minority and is under regime control. SANA also reported the attack, citing a police source who said "eight citizens" were killed and 41 others injured.
In central Homs province, the Observatory reported that rebels had seized part of a key arms depot, two weeks after they launched an offensive aimed at the facility, near Mahin in the countryside.
Fighters from Al-Nusra Front and ISIL -- both linked to Al-Qaida -- and the Al-Khadraa and Baba Amr battalions "took over buildings of an army weapons depot near Mahin," the group said.
The rebels "seized a large amount of weapons" in the complex, which comprises some 30 buildings, it added. But a regime security official denied the report, saying: "The battle is continuing. The terrorists did not take any weapons, and there are many losses in their ranks." The fighting has been fierce at times, with more than 50 rebel fighters and 20 loyalists dead on Tuesday alone, according to the Observatory. In northern Aleppo province, the monitoring group said regime forces had seized control of most of Tal-Aran town, strategically located on the main road between the city of Aleppo and town of Sfeirah. Sfeirah is near a military site believed to hold some of the regime's chemical weapons, and was recaptured by the army last week. The group also reported that ISIL fighters took control of the nearby Aleppo power plant on Wednesday, raising fears it could cut electricity to parts of the city. Only regime-held parts of Aleppo still receive power from the plant. And in the northern city of Raqa, the only provincial capital under rebel control, the Observatory said ISIL fighters had executed a local doctor, accusing him of being a spy for Turkish intelligence. ISIL fighters also decapitated a statue depicting a male and female peasant, known locally as the Statue of Liberty, said the Observatory, which takes its information from activists and doctors on the ground. The latest upsurge of violence came a day after Washington and Moscow failed to announce a date for proposed Syria peace talks. U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters in Geneva he was still hopeful the conference could be held before year's end. The United States and Russia have been pushing for peace talks in Geneva for months, but Brahimi said divisions within the Syrian opposition were an ongoing obstacle to a conference. Much of Syria's opposition opposes talks with the regime and wants Assad's departure to be a condition of any conference, which the Syrian government rejects. On Wednesday, the main opposition National Coalition said recent statements by officials "expose the regime's paralysis with regards to any political solution". Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said Monday that the regime will not attend if the aim is for Assad to hand over power. More than 120,000 people have been killed in Syria's 31-month conflict, which began when Assad's regime cracked down on anti-government protests.
Source/Agence France Presse.

Will new-old Foreign Minister Lieberman join Netanyahu's talks with Putin in Moscow?
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 6, 2013/Avigdor Lieberman’s unanimous acquittal by a Jerusalem court on charges of fraud and breach of trust, Wednesday, Nov. 6 - and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s instantaneous welcome of his ally’s return to government - dovetail neatly with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of talks with the Israeli prime minister in Moscow on Nov. 20.
Lieberman was quickly invited to be sworn in again to this old post of foreign minister from which he stepped down in January after he was indicted.
Russian-speaking Lieberman, who was born in Moldavia, has friendly personal ties Putin. It will be interesting to see whether Netanyahu asks the restored right-of-center foreign minister to accompany him on his visit to Moscow for a meeting which may be of pivotal importance in the rapidly changing international balance in the Middle East
The hard-line politician’s return to the political scene with added clout will no doubt affect the internal balance of the Netanyahu government coalition and Israeli politics at large.
If he decides to take him to Moscow, Netanyahu will be sending three signals:
1. He may be tapping him as next Likud leader. Netanyahu and Lieberman merged the parliamentary lists of their parties, Likud and Yisrael Beitenu, running them as a unified list in the last general election in January. For Lieberman to succeed him, the prime minister would have to expand this merger into a full amalgamation of the two parties and overcome resistance in both to this step.
2. Unlike Netanyahu, Lieberman always opposed exercising a military option against Iran’s nuclear program and favored alternative measures. If he is invited to accompany the prime minister to Moscow, it would indicate that Netanyahu is open to discourse on non-military ways for integrating Israel in the US-Russian strategy for dealing with that program as well as the Syrian war.
As long as the former foreign minister was out of action, Netanyahu acted out the role of lone knight in shining armor ready to take on the whole world in order to disarm a nuclear Iran. A partnership with Lieberman would put an end to that posture.
3. The economic aspect of a tie-in between Jerusalem and Moscow has been overlooked by Israeli spokesmen and media in the hue and cry over partisan politics. However, Moscow has long been angling for a share in the export facilities of Leviathan, Israel’s largest offshore natural gas well, in particular a contract for the pipeline to be laid to Europe.
For Putin this is a major objective against which Netanyahu has resolutely dug in his heels. Lieberman was more amenable to a Russian stake in Israel’s energy industry. With the rapid expansion of Russian footholds across the Middle East, this could no be an ace up Israel’s sleeve. The new-old foreign minister is well-placed to act as broker in such a bargain.
His return to the cabinet is bad news for US Secretary of State John Kerry’s deeply-committed effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a negotiated final-status accord. Kerry was not exactly happy when Netanyahu interrupted their conversation in Jerusalem Wednesday to congratulate Lieberman on his acquittal and welcome him back to the cabinet.
As foreign minister, Lieberman argued outspokenly against a lasting peace agreement with the Palestinians, arguing that was unattainable at this time and pushing for interim accords on specific issues.
debkafile examined the implications of the forthcoming Netanyahu-Putin talks in Moscow in an exclusive report Tuesday. Click here to read it.

Opinion: Success is in sight, if sanctions can be lifted
Seyed Hossein Mousavian/Asharq Alawsat
The inability of the United States to maintain a meaningful dialogue with Iran for over a third of a century has remained a serious obstacle to peaceful crisis management in the Middle East, and could erupt into an all-out war at the least provocation or error by the two states. However, new signs of hope emerged following the 2012 re-election of Obama and the recent election of Hassan Rouhani in Iran. At the opening of the latest session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama noted: “We are not seeking regime change…we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy…I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road towards a different relationship—one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.”
Iranian President Rouhani did not neglect this opportunity to respond positively at the same forum, asserting that Iran sought “constructive engagement” and did not “seek to increase tension with the United States,” adding, “Let me say loud and clear that peace is within reach.”
This was followed by the first direct talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, on September 26, 2013 at the United Nations. The following day, Obama and Rouhani held their first telephone conversation and instructed their respective foreign ministers to continue direct talks.
The new political atmosphere following the Iranian presidential election, coupled with direct talks between Washington and Tehran, had substantial impact on two regional developments.
Firstly, trilateral cooperation between Russia, Iran, and the US led the Syrian government to relinquish its chemical weapons, sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, and open the country to international inspectors with a mandate to destroy its chemical weapons. Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif summed up this success by noting, “[War] was averted through a concerted effort on the part of a number of players, including Iran and Russia, and the United States, and a good number of other players, because there were forces that were pushing for war.” Secondly, in the first round of nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers on October 15-16, Tehran presented a “very comprehensive” package to overcome the decade-long standoff over the Iran’s nuclear program. The Iranian side also held landmark talks with US officials. “I have never had such intense, detailed, straightforward, and candid conversations with the Iranian delegation,” a senior US official admitted to reporters.
Thirdly, at the two-day session in Vienna on October 28-29, Iran opened a new chapter in dealings with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to resolve remaining technical ambiguities. Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi put forward a new proposal to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and pledged a new approach.
Although the contents of the Iranian package has been kept confidential, during two different conferences representatives of two members of the international delegation attending the recent nuclear talks in Geneva informed me that “the new Iranian nuclear package addresses all major concerns of the world powers.” Russia’s “Step-by-Step Proposal” from 2011, plus credible media reports and statements by former US officials engaged on the nuclear issue, reveal that the major demands of the world powers are twofold.
Firstly, they insist that Iran show the maximum level of transparency by implementing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty’s Additional Protocol, Subsidiary Arrangement Code 3.1 and cooperating with the IAEA to resolve the so-called “possible military dimension” issues. Secondly, they want Iran to accept measures to prevent the chance of a “breakout” to a nuclear weapon: cap uranium enrichment at 5 percent, limit the number and type of centrifuges, accept a maximum ceiling on stockpiles of enriched uranium, ensure no reprocessing takes place at the heavy water facility in Arak, and forbid plutonium separation.
The Russian step-by-step plan contained all these major elements required by the world powers, and was welcomed by Iran because it includes two major Iranian demands: the recognition of Iran’s right to enrichment, and the lifting of sanctions. Reliable sources informed me that the Russian proposal failed because of US inability to provide sanctions relief in return for substantive Iranian measures.
All of the above suggests that a comprehensive deal on the nuclear issue is possible if the US and the world powers respects the rights of Iran under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and if Iran gets proportionate sanction relief in return for accepting their major demands. This, in effect, places the demands of both parties within a package and implements a step-by-step, proportionate, and reciprocal process.
To prevent such a breakthrough from materializing, hawks in Tel Aviv and Washington are pushing a misleading proposal on “freeing up funds.” “My biggest concern is that if the administration takes out a brick from the sanctions regime, you won’t be able to put it back together,” asserted Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He called the “freeing up funds” plan a way to offer a concession without changing the sanctions.
About USD 50 billion of Iran’s oil revenue is currently held in escrow accounts in countries that continue to import oil from Iran. Iran employs these assets to pay for imports from these countries. The resumption of nuclear negotiations has provided Israeli hawks and US hardliners the opportunity to freeze these funds entirely. Their suggestion that President Obama temporarily allow Iran access to those funds is most likely tied to nuclear concessions. Iran’s compliance will result in monetary rewards which leave the structure of the current unilateral and multilateral sanctions regimes imposed by United Nations, US, and Europeans intact.
Failure to comply, however, will result in the freezing of Iran’s assets abroad and placing it under a virtual embargo. Therefore, this proposal is in fact nothing but a Trojan horse. This policy not only blocks the nuclear deal, but would complicate the situation further at a time when—after a decade—the world powers and Iran are in a position to reach a final deal if the US can deliver real action on sanctions relief
**Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former Iranian ambassador and spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiators, is a research scholar at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. His latest book is The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: A Memoir, published by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Let Us Prepare Ourselves For The Great Frustration
Hazem Saghieh/Al Hayat
After the defeat of June 1967, frustration overwhelmed the Arab peoples and their elites, in a manner that went even beyond what happened after 1948. Frustration spread everywhere, in daily discourse as in literature and theater, and in intellectual analysis as in the press and television. Arabs were frustrated and for good reason.
To be sure, that defeat, which routed three countries and three armies in six days, was humbling as much as it was shocking, and only increased in magnitude and impact with the fact that the one who was defeated was none other than Gamal Abdel Nasser, the idol of the Arabs, who had not prepared them for anything other than imminent pan-Arab unity and victory against the Jewish state. Moreover, those who were frustrated by the catastrophe of 1948 had relied on military regimes as a reaction, only for the setback, less than two decades later, to occur and reproduce their frustration as despair.
This was the moment of nationalist frustration, or frustration with nationalism. Afterwards, the Palestinians would assert their Palestinian – rather than Arab – identity, as the path to “liberating Palestine.” Anwar Sadat then separated Egypt from the pan-Arab narrative of Nasser. For his part, Hafez al-Assad reduced the unionist discourse of the Baath to focus on the mere defense and survival of the regime, as did Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
Today, the Arabs are living a democratic frustration, or frustration with democracy. The brutality of the military regimes and the rise of political Islam succeeded in breeding and propagating the worst things about our communal and cultural makeup: In Egypt, a military-popular apology for the January revolution is underway. In Syria, the civil war and the regional-international crisis is swallowing the revolution. In Libya, the state and the revolution appear like two parallel lines that never meet. Perhaps Tunisia alone remains a glimmer of hope, but it remains faint and at risk. And even if it should become a fully-fledged hope, the position and role of Tunisia limit this event’s ability to gain a cathartic pan-Arab dimension.
The Islamists and the military have succeeded, with backing from the worst features of our historical experiences, in slaying the revolutions of the Arab Spring. Most probably, we will soon be face to face with more of the pervasive conspiratorial thinking, and perhaps more nihilistic radicalisms that proceed to fragment societies that are not in want of further fragmentation, along with Bonaparte-like attempts, either tragic or comical, to sell us salvation through the military.
In truth, the former nationalist frustration would have been healthy, in that it would have brought the Arabs closer to the reality of their countries and states, to realizing the difference between abilities and slogans, and to taking the world into account when calculating the balance of power. This only happened partially and in extremely awkward ways. As a result of its not happening, something that was exploited by tyranny and militant faith, layers upon layers of crises and contradictions accumulated, and the 'Arab Spring' now had to confront these.
Yet the coming frustration is even more dangerous. Indeed, it does not simply declare the collapse of everything, regimes and revolutions, secular and Islamist alike, but also declares that there is no cure in sight, and that the supposed theoretical treatment is countered by an allergy afflicting the body, preventing it from accepting it. Ideas and societies could be racing to return to the zero state: The first collapse as they are dominated by a debilitating and total agnosticism and the second collapse into raw components that can only be attained through much blood.
Reality is unbearable, change is at an impasse, and those who say that the worst is yet to come are not lying.

Iran: A Week For Testing Intentions
Elias Harfoush/Asharq Alawsat
This week constitutes a test of the flirtation that began between Washington and Tehran ever since the tortured lover, Barack Obama, did his best to obtain the historic opportunity of having a phone conversation with the so-called “moderate” Iranian President, Hassan Rohani. The week kicked off yesterday with the 34th anniversary celebration of the occupation of the “spies’ den,” which used to be called the American Embassy in Tehran prior to November 4, 1979. Fifty-two diplomats and employees of that embassy were held hostage for 444 days. The spokesperson for the individuals who occupied the embassy, without any consideration for Tehran’s responsibility of protecting the diplomatic delegation, was none other than Masoumeh Ebtekar, who is currently one of the most prominent and closest aides of Rohani.
Yesterday constituted a chance to prove the Iranians’ good intentions by responding to what has come to be described as the new climate of relationships between the two countries. However, media reports indicated that the masses chanting “Death to America” in front of the former building of the American embassy were the largest in years. Furthermore, the Chairman for the Committee for National Security at the Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, spoke on national television and said that this slogan represented the simplest response to the American hegemony.
This comes in light of the ongoing negotiations between the two countries in Geneva over Iran’s nuclear file. The next round of negotiations will be held in two days, on Thursday. The Iranian Guide, Ali Khamenei, preceded this round by announcing that he is not optimistic in regard to the talks with the Americans but that he is ready to give the negotiators a chance. Hours later, Hassan Rohani repeated Khamenei’s words and added: “However, this does not mean that we cannot have hope in solving the problems”.
The question to be raised at this point is: Why are the Iranians questioning the success of the negotiations if they are convinced that “the other side has experienced a positive transformation” as per the Deputy Foreign Minister and negotiator on the nuclear file, Abbas Araghchi? The answer to this question, quite clearly and simply is: Iran is not ready to commit to the terms needed to reach an agreement and to convince the world that Iran is determined to prove the peaceful nature of its nuclear program. Iran does realize Obama’s desire to reach a settlement to this matter. Therefore, it is ready to play the game of gaining time. Iran is also working for its own interests, i.e. for lifting the sanctions that are greatly affecting the Iranian economy and the regime’s credibility and popularity. These sanctions might constitute a cause for a popular coup against the Iranian regime. In this endeavor, Tehran is relying on the fact that the American president will not be staging any kind of confrontations in order to prove the seriousness of the American decision, even if this would ultimately hurt America’s reputation and regional relations. And because Tehran is aware of Barack Obama’s weakness, it is now taking advantage of the unprecedented regression in the American president’s popularity by proposing a deal that will further enhance his weak position. This was explained by the Iranian Chief of Staff Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi who alluded to Iran’s “rational diplomacy,” which, according to him, represents a winning card in Obama’s hand. Firouzabadi expressed an unprecedented keenness on “rescuing” the head of the state dubbed the “Great Satan” by saying: this is a major historic opportunity and the American Embassy must not waste it…
The American oppositionists do not want to see Obama making use of this winning card in the internal and international relations. However, Obama must not surrender to his adversaries. Iran is rescuing Obama…from his adversaries. Such is the current situation of the United States under its 44th president. This is perhaps the right time to mourn the present status of a major country. However, this could also constitute a lesson on the threat of depending on America’s friendship. The lesson could very well come from Ali Khamenei who said: Every population or state that trusted America ended up receiving a blow from it. An old saying goes: O God, save me from my friends…