November 11/2013


Bible Quotation for today/Warnings and Instructions
Jude 01/17-23: "But remember, my friends, what you were told in the past by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.  They said to you, “When the last days come, people will appear who will make fun of you, people who follow their own godless desires.” These are the people who cause divisions, who are controlled by their natural desires, who do not have the Spirit.  But you, my friends, keep on building yourselves up on your most sacred faith. Pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,  and keep yourselves in the love of God, as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy to give you eternal life.
 Show mercy toward those who have doubts; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and to others show mercy mixed with fear, but hate their very clothes, stained by their sinful lusts

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For November 11/13

Lebanon: Water for export/The Daily Star/November 11/13

Is Syria a headless chicken/By: Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat/November 11/13


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For November 11/13

Lebanese Related News

Report: Suleiman Aims to Keep Saudi from Local Disputes by Refusing to Tackle Govt. File in Riyadh
Miqati Warns Higher Relief Council Chief: Your Accusations Are Punishable by Law

Fares Soueid criticizes tactics of Hezbollah supporters
Alain Aoun: FPM Talks with Mustaqbal Did Not Tackle Issues of Contention

Suleiman to Chair Security Meeting to Tackle Developments in Tripoli

ISF Files Complaint against Rifaat Eid and Charbel Says His 'Terrorist' Statement Unlawful

Kenya's William Kipsang Wins the 2013 Beirut International Marathon

Saudi Ambassador denies Saudi role in Lebanon crisis

Tripoli rally demands justice, Eid threatens ISF

Large turnout at 2013 Beirut Marathon

LBCI won’t apologize for Hezbollah skit

Lebanon tensions tied to regional developments

Sleiman honors Amin Maalouf at palace ceremony


Miscellaneous Reports And News

Kerry defends proposed Iran nuclear deal; Israel objects
Iranian leaders urgently mull some nuclear flexibility. Rouhani tells Khamenei: The cupboard is bare!

Why did France toss a wrench in the Iran nuclear talks?

Major differences emerging in US, Israeli tactics on Iran

Israel to lobby against any deal that would leave Iran with enrichment capabilities

US envoy to Mideast: Washington must be ready to step up Iran sanctions
At GA, Netanyahu hammers home message on Iran

Kerry: U.S. 'Not Blind, Stupid' in Nuclear Talks with Iran

French President Hollande to address Knesset next week

Rouhani: Right to nuclear enrichment is Iran's 'red line'
Cabinet okays Liberman to return as foreign minister
State Media: Syria Army Retakes Key Base Near Aleppo

Turkey's Davutoglu in Iraq to Push Fresh Start

Syrian Opposition wants Geneva OK from rebels, activists

Syria Opposition Says will Spurn Geneva Talks without Rebel Backing

Kidnapped Syrian MP Executed by Jihadists, Says NGO

Over 10,000 feared dead in Philippines typhoon

Iranian deputy industry minister shot dead

HRW: Syria has used incendiary bombs in dozens of attacks


Iranian leaders urgently mull some nuclear flexibility. Rouhani tells Khamenei: The cupboard is bare!

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 10, 2013/Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif asked Sunday, Nov. 10 for an urgent meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the day after France aborted a nuclear accord at the Geneva conference with the six powers, debkafile’s exclusive sources report. Before flying out of Geneva, Zarif called the president and warned him that unless Iran displayed a measure of flexibility, the negotiations with the powers would remain stalled - and badly-needed relief from sanctions stay out of reach – even at the reconvened conference on Nov. 20. The two Iranian leaders estimate that the West will not give ground on two basic demands: the removal of Iran’s stock of 20-percent grade enriched uranium and a commitment not to activate the heavy water plant under construction at Arak. The completion of the reactor some time next year would therefore find Iran prohibited from using it under its international commitments. In a public statement Sunday, Rouhani declared that enrichment is a red line for Iran. “We have said to the negotiating sides that we will not respond to any threat, sanction, humiliation or discrimination. The Islamic Republic has not and will not bow its head to threats from any authority.” But privately, the president asked to be received by the supreme leader in order to warn him that persistent Iranian intransigence would blow up negotiations on the first, six-month step of a comprehensive agreement and bury the prospect of eased sanctions. Our Iranian sources doubt whether Khamenei will agree to the export of Iran’s 20-percent refined uranium stock out of the country, but he might consider its conversion into fuel rods to allay the concerns Western delegates raised in Geneva that Iran had accumulated this material ready for assembling a nuclear weapon. Rouhani and Zarif are also expected to ask the leader for permission to accept a freeze on the introduction of new centrifuges at the enrichment plants. They will tell him that this restraint needs to hold good for no more than a six-month period and would meanwhile elicit relaxations of some sanctions. The president warned Khamenei earlier that the Iranian treasury is empty and without some sanction relief in the next couple of months, the government will be unable to cover its current operating expenses. Western sources with access to the closed-door deliberations held in Geneva from Thursday to Saturday reveal that for the sake of a deal, Washington was ready to offer Iran a sanctions relief package worth nearly $20bn, to save the Iranian economy from bankruptcy. Secretary of State John Kerry told Iran’s foreign minister the US was ready to advance at once $3 billion of the estimated $50 billion of Iranian assets frozen in Western banks, and also end restrictions on Iranian’s gold, petrochemical and car industries. This would have netted the Iranian treasury another $16.5 billion. Zarif asked the package to also include restoring SWIFT foreign transfer services to Iranian banks. Both Washington and Tehran counted on a deal being clinched at the Geneva conference. Following its disappointing outcome, the Iranian regime is gripped with rising concern that the country’s further plunge into economic crisis may touch off violent protests and street demonstrations that could spill over into a popular uprising.


Why did France toss a wrench in the Iran nuclear talks?

BERLIN – France blocked an agreement on Sunday to curb Iran’s nuclear program because, to cite French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, it did not want to be part of a con game that would allow Tehran to continue with its illicit atomic program. France’s resistance to a perceived woefully inadequate deal prompted surprise among Iran observers and pure rage from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who described Paris on his Twitter feed as “openly hostile” toward Iran and “inept.” Al Jazeera reported that “diplomats at the talks said the last-minute objections [from France] came as a surprise and complicated the chances of agreement.”US envoy to Mideast: Washington must be ready to step up Iran sanctionsFrench President Hollande to address Knesset next weekHowever, did France, in fact, ambush Iran’s clerical regime and veteran Iran watchers? According to Middle East experts in the US and Israel, France’s policy is far from shocking and part and parcel of its security-conscious approach to Iran’s destabilizing foreign policy.Speaking from Washington to The Jerusalem Post, Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, said that the French “take Iran very seriously” and their “diplomats have a lot of Iranian expertise.” They “love Iranian culture” but realize “they have to take an aggressive position when negotiating with them.”
Doran, who served as US deputy assistant secretary of defense and a senior director at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush presidency, said France demands the elimination of Iranian uranium stockpiles and the closure of its Arak nuclear facility. “Will the French hang tough on this?” asked Doran. The BBC’s State Department correspondent Kim Ghattas wrote on Sunday, “French diplomats have told me in recent years they believed the Obama administration was willing to concede too much too soon.” The French-born Israeli political scientist Dr. Emmanuel Navon told the Post that France sees “the Americans and Germans as giving too much to Iran.” He cited French President François Hollande’s interventionist foreign policy. He is “not a pacifist” and showed his willingness to use “military force” in Mali to stop an al-Qaida insurgency earlier this year.
Navon, the director of the political science and communications department at the Jerusalem Orthodox College, and teacher of International Relations at Tel Aviv University and at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, said France sees an agreement that “must remove the threat of Iran reaching military capability” with respect to its nuclear program.
Navon pointed to Hollande’s willingness to confront Iran’s proxy – the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria, which was a French Mandate following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire – with military force. He “gave the orders to shoot” but US President Barack Obama pulled the plug on missile strikes and deferred the dispute to Congress for approval. Richard Landes, a distinguished historian at Boston University with an expertise in French history, told the Post, “The fact is that his [Hollande] administration has proven to be tougher than [former French president Nicolas] Sarkozy.”Landes noted that Hollande rapidly made the decision to go into Mali. Commentators “did not anticipate this kind of backbone.” The perceived lack of US tenaciousness and seriousness toward Iran’s drive to build a nuclear weapons device was captured in the US media. Writing on the blog of the conservative The Weekly Standard website, Daniel Halper titled his blog entry: French Socialist Administration Tougher on Iran than Obama Administration. Traditionally, France showed reluctance to pick fights in the Middle East over security and promotion of democracy. But, unsurprisingly, its policy toward Iran remains consistently robust. The alliance of Iran with Assad and Hezbollah to decimate Syria has added greater urgency to France’s skepticism toward Tehran’s nuclear program. Benjamin Weinthal is the Post’s European affairs correspondent and a fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

At GA, Netanyahu hammers home message on Iran
By JPOST.COM STAFF, SARA MILLER 11/10/2013/PM tells Jewish Federations GA he is skeptical of Iran's willingness to compromise on nuclear weapons; urges world against "pampering Palestinians"; says Western Wall is in Jerusalem, but belongs to all Jews. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stuck to his often repeated warning about Iran's nuclear ambition, telling the Jewish Federations General Assembly in Jerusalem on Sunday night that, a deal which allows Iran the possibility of becoming a nuclear state in the future was "a bad deal" Taking the stage at the convention center, Netanyahu immediately made clear what would be the main theme of his speech. He told the audience that the Iranians had only come to negotiate in Geneva because of the crippling sanctions that had been imposed upon them and that they had no choice. But, he warned that any agreement by the international community that saw an easing of those sanctions in return for "meaningless minor concessions" would lead to disaster. The prime minister also expressed his skepticism on the Palestinian leadership's willingness to reach a peace agreement with Israel, yet voiced hope that an agreement between the two sides would be resolved. Netanyahu criticized the global community's dealings with the Palestinians saying it "cannot be that the Palestinians are forever pampered by the international community". "If the Palestinians expect us to recognize a Palestinian state for Palestinian people, they must recognize a Jewish state for Jewish people," he said.
While reiterating his call for the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the premier voiced his hope that the current round of US-brokered peace talks will result in a "historic compromise" between the two sides. "Cold peace is better than hot war, but I'm hoping for warm peace," he said.

Kerry defends proposed Iran nuclear deal; Israel objects
By Karen DeYoung/The Washington Post
GENEVA — Secretary of State John F. Kerry heads home Monday to defend a proposed nuclear deal with Iran in testimony before doubting lawmakers, as the Obama administration is moving to head off rising criticism from Israel. Kerry has already begun making the case that an Iranian agreement to temporarily freeze elements of its nuclear programs in exchange for a partial easing of Western sanctions would be a viable step toward negotiating a permanent end to Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. If negotiators in the next several weeks can reach an agreement on the draft proposal — a result that eluded top world diplomats in intensive sessions with the Iranians that ended here Sunday — talks can move toward making “absolutely certain . . . that Iran never has a nuclear weapon,” Kerry said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Far from being naive about Iran’s capabilities and intentions, as some opponents have suggested, administration negotiators are “some of the most serious and capable, expert people in our government, who have spent a lifetime dealing with both Iran” and nuclear proliferation issues, Kerry said. “We are not blind, and I don’t think we’re stupid,” he added. “I think we have a pretty strong sense of how to measure whether or not we are acting n the interests of our country and of the globe.”Congress is threatening to push through additional financial sanctions against Iran, which could complicate the talks.
For those convinced that Iran still has every intention of building a nuclear weapon, the relaxed demeanor of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a brief news conference here early Sunday proved their point. Despite the failure to conclude the deal, Zarif said, he found “political determination, willingness and good faith” among his diplomatic counterparts.
Iran would not be so publicly cheerful, Israeli officials and doubting U.S. lawmakers argued, if it was not on the verge of winning a deal that was bad for their side.
But an additional reason for Zarif’s smiling banter with journalists may have been that those across the table from the Iranian team reportedly spent at least as much time debating each other as they did him.
“Obviously, the six countries may have differences of views,” Zarif said benignly of his counterparts from the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China. “But we are working together, and hopefully we will be able to reach an agreement when we meet again” 10 days from now, he said.
‘Why the haste?’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has kept up a steady drumbeat of public criticism, said on Sunday that he has begun calling world leaders to convince them that the proposed agreement was “dangerous not just for us; it is also dangerous for them.”“I emphasized that the proffered deal does not include the dismantling of even one centrifuge. I asked all the leaders — why the haste?” Netanyahu said at a commemoration for Israel’s founding father and first prime minister, David Ben Gurion. “I proposed that they wait, that they consider the matter seriously.”

Report: Suleiman Aims to Keep Saudi from Local Disputes by Refusing to Tackle Govt. File in Riyadh
Naharnet Newsdesk 10 November 2013/President Michel Suleiman announced on Saturday that he will not discuss the government formation process during his upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, reported the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat on Sunday. It said that the president is seeking to distance Saudi Arabia from local Lebanese disputes by refusing to tackle this file. Ministerial sources interpreted the announcement as an “indirect response to March 8 camp claims that the trip to the kingdom will decide the fate of the formation of a new cabinet.”They told al-Hayat: “The March 8 camp is accusing Saudi Arabia of obstructing the formation of a government.” Meanwhile, Suleiman's sources told al-Mustaqbal daily on Sunday that he will discuss with Saudi officials bilateral ties, while stressing the importance of the Baabda Declaration and Lebanon's policy of disassociation from the Syrian crisis. Talks in Riyadh will tackle the case of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the crisis in Syria and efforts to hold the Geneva II conference, they added. Suleiman is scheduled to meet with Saudi King Abdullah, Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, and Mustaqbal Movement leader MP Saad Hariri. He will kick off his visit on Monday.

Saudi Ambassador denies Saudi role in Lebanon crisis
November 11, 2013/By Hussein Dakroub The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Assiri rejected in remarks published Sunday Hezbollah’s accusations that the kingdom was obstructing the formation of a new Cabinet and preventing Parliament from meeting to approve draft laws.
Assiri also reiterated Saudi support for Lebanon’s stability and sovereignty. The envoy’s remarks come on the eve of President Michel Sleiman’s crucial visit to Saudi Arabia during which he will hold talks with King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman on the deepening political crisis, attempts to restart the stalled National Dialogue between the rival factions, and the impact of the 31-month war in Syria on Lebanon’s security and stability. Sleiman’s visit, scheduled for Monday, comes against the backdrop of a heated campaign launched by Hezbollah against Saudi Arabia and its key ally, the Future Movement, which the party blamed for the seven-month Cabinet deadlock and paralysis in Parliament.
It also comes amid deep national divisions between the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance and the March 14 coalition over the conflict in Syria. The Lebanese crisis has been deepened by Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria on the side of President Bashar Assad’s forces. Referring to political divisions in Lebanon, Assiri urged the feuding parties to engage in “a constructive dialogue” to resolve their differences. “Saudi Arabia wants to preserve Lebanon and its unity. This is at the crux of its concerns,” he said in a televised interview. “The kingdom has no demand except the demand to intensify efforts for dialogue and for preserving Lebanon.”
In another interview with the Saudi daily Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, Assiri indirectly dismissed Hezbollah’s accusations, saying those launching media campaigns against the kingdom lacked credibility among the Lebanese people. “Those behind the campaign against the kingdom lack credibility among the Lebanese people and their intention can be summed up as an attempt to mislead a section of the Lebanese public opinion,” Assiri said.
In an indirect reference to Hezbollah’s military engagement in the Syrian war, he said: “The goal [of the campaign] is to divert attention away from a path in which [Hezbollah] has entered with a regional orientation and abandoned its declared principles.”
“There is no need to recall the kingdom’s stances toward Lebanon and all sections of its people,” Assiri added.
“All of Lebanon realizes the kingdom’s true stances and its permanent keenness on respecting Lebanon’s sovereignty and non-interference in its internal affairs,” he said. He added that Saudi-Lebanese relations would not be affected by “other parties’ calculations.”
Senior Hezbollah officials, including party leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, have launched a vehement verbal campaign against Saudi Arabia in the past few weeks, accusing it of using its March 14 allies to obstruct the formation of a new Cabinet and paralyze Parliament by boycotting its sessions.


Suleiman to Chair Security Meeting to Tackle Developments in Tripoli
Naharnet Newsdesk 10 November 2013/A security meeting is scheduled to be held on Sunday afternoon in order to tackle the situation in the northern city of Tripoli, reported An Nahar daily on Sunday. President Michel Suleiman will chair the meeting that will be held at 5:30 p.m. Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji, Army Intelligence chief Brigadier General Edmond Fadel, and acting Internal Security Forces chief Ibrahim Basbous. Tripoli had witnessed a number of clashes in recent weeks between the rival Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen neighborhoods that have left scores dead and injured. Tensions were also high in the city after a subpoena was issued against Arab Democratic Party leader Ali Eid on Thursday. Eid has been charged along with his driver Ahmed Ali with helping Ahmed Merhi, who is the suspected driver of the explosive-laden vehicle that blew up near al-Taqwa mosque in the northern city of Tripoli, to escape justice.  His son, Rifaat, on Saturday slammed the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau as a “spy agency working against Lebanon's interests,” stressing that his father will not go to the ISF's office for questioning. “We will act only in accordance to the law,” he said, making a veiled threat that killing ISF members was permissible. Later on Saturday night, the ISF filed a report with judicial authorities against Rifaat Eid. “The ISF General Directorate filed a complained with the Public Prosecution, demanding the adoption of the necessary procedures against Eid that permitted the killing of Intelligence Bureau staff,” Future TV said. Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel meanwhile on Saturday condemned Rifaat Eid's “terrorist” statements, warning that his comments are "punishable by law." Forty-five people were killed and 800 injured in car bomb blasts that targeted the al-Taqwa and al-Salam mosques in Tripoli on August 23.


Tripoli gathering calls for justice, Eid threatens police

November 11, 2013/By Antoine Amrieh The Daily Star
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Sectarian rhetoric escalated in Tripoli over the weekend, as senior Sunni sheikhs called for justice for the victims of August’s twin car bombings, one day after the leader of a pro-Assad party warned that Alawites would fight back if targeted. Around 3,000 people, many carrying black flags bearing the declaration “there is no God but God,” gathered for a rally dubbed “Achieving Justice” at the Rachid Karami Expo in Tripoli to demand that the perpetrators of the car bombings be punished. “The Sunnis will no longer be silent over the blood of their martyrs,” said Salem al-Rafei, the head of the Muslim Ulama Commission and the imam of Al-Taqwa Mosque, adding that failure to apprehend those responsible for the bombings would threaten the “disintegration” of Lebanon. The Salafist Rafei criticized the state’s treatment of Ahmad Assir, the embattled Sunni sheikh who went on the run after being defeated in a battle against the Lebanese Army in the southern city of Sidon in June. Many at the rally chanted: “We will sacrifice ourselves for you, Assir.”
“We call on the state to deal with those as it dealt with Sheikh Assir,” he said. “If that criminal in Jabal [Mohsen] is their symbol then Assir is the symbol of the Sunnis.” He was referring to Ali Eid, head of the pro-Syrian regime Arab Democratic Party who was charged last week for facilitating the escape of one of the alleged perpetrators of the August twin bombings. Speakers in Sunday’s rally condemned the Syrian regime and its allies in Lebanon and called on the state to arrest the perpetrators of the Tripoli bombings, while criticizing what they called a double standard in dealing with Assir and allies of the Syrian regime.
The rally featured chants against Tripoli mufti Malik Shaar, who was criticized for calling on fighters in the predominantly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh to clear their positions and not being sufficiently tough on their rivals in Jabal Mohsen. The rally came a day after Rifaat Eid, a leading member of the pro-Assad Arab Democratic Party, accused the Information Branch of the Internal Security Forces of coercing a suspect into naming his father in relation to the bombings case. During a one-hour news conference at Jabal Mohsen, ADP politburo head Eid accused the police and other security agencies of framing his father Ali Eid and also lambasted Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr over his handling of the investigation. “The Information Branch [shed] our blood and therefore we regard the [shedding of their] blood as halal [permissible],” he told reporters, describing the police branch as “an agent in Lebanon.” Last week, Saqr charged Ali Eid along with his driver, Ahmad Mohammad Ali, with helping Ahmad Merhi – a key suspect in the August bombings in Tripoli – flee to Syria.
During the news conference, Rifaat Eid alleged that Army Intelligence had tortured the driver, forcing him to name Ali Eid as having ordered him to smuggle Merhi into Syria.
“Ali made his confessions after he reached a stage where he could no longer tolerate the beating and torture. He made his confessions at the behest of Army Intelligence after they told him the political cover was lifted from Ali Eid,” Rifaat Eid said. “They first told him you can say either Rifaat Eid or Ali Eid,” he said. The ADP official said that once Army Intelligence had obtained the confession of Ahmad Ali, the driver, he was sent to the Information Branch, where he was treated for his wounds but also coerced into repeating the fabricated confession under threat of being tortured. Eid said while in the custody of the Information Branch the driver was exposed to “psychological” torture, including being shown devices used for torturing people. “They then forced him to sign a document that he smuggled Ahmad Merhi to Syria,” Eid said.
On Aug. 23, two car bombings outside two mosques in Tripoli led to the killing of at least 47 people and the wounding of more than 500. Eleven people have been charged in the case, several of them with reported links to the ADP and Syrian army intelligence. Tripoli has been affected by the spillover of the war in Syria, with repeated clashes between the predominantly Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen and majority Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh. Fighters in Bab al-Tabbaneh blame the ADP for the bombings outside the Al-Taqwa and Al-Salam mosques, an allegation which the party denies. During the news conference, Rifaat Eid, a staunch ally of the regime in Damascus, alleged his Alawite community was facing a conspiracy hatched by Saudi Arabia, which he claimed had infiltrated security agencies in Lebanon. Eid reiterated that his father “would never go to the ISF Intelligence for questioning” but later said “I am under the law and I always will be.

”The Interior Ministry defended over the weekend the Information Branch in the face of the allegations.“Legitimating the killing of others is a takfiri, criminal language and can hold the person accountable by law,” the office of caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said in a statement. “The office strongly condemns this degrading language which expresses a spirit of hostility and irresponsibly poses danger to civil peace and [promotes] reprisals,” it added. Hezbollah has also accused the Future Movement and its March 14 allies of implementing an alleged Saudi-U.S. plan to target the resistance party and punish it for its role in Syria. For their part, the Future Movement and its March 14 allies have repeatedly accused Hezbollah of obstructing the Cabinet formation with its demand for veto power and its insistence that the tripartite equation, “the Army, the people and the resistance,” be mentioned in the Cabinet’s policy statement.

Assiri also highlighted Sleiman’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia.“The visit will be an occasion to reiterate support for the Baabda Declaration, which calls for neutralizing Lebanon, particularly from the crisis in Syria,” he said. “Sleiman’s visit is of utmost importance given the deep-rooted brotherly ties between the two brotherly countries and peoples.”

Meanwhile, Sleiman denied media reports that the Cabinet crisis and the extension of his six-year-term in office, which expires in May 2014, would be among topics of discussion with top Saudi officials.“There are interpretations and speculations [about the visit] but they’re all unrealistic and inaccurate with regard to the Cabinet [formation] and the extension [of my term],” Sleiman told Al-Mustaqbal newspaper. “I am the president, not a president-designate and I will not speak about the issue of government formation with Saudi officials.”
“The main themes of my visit will be Lebanon, Lebanese expatriates [in Saudi Arabia], the situation in Syria and Iranian-Saudi ties, all of which have repercussions on Lebanon,” he added.
He also reiterated his opposition to the extension of his mandate. “I will not accept attempts to extend [my term] and I will not discuss the extension issue in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“I challenged Parliament’s extension of its mandate [earlier this year]. How could I approve my own extension?” he asked, adding that extending a president’s term was undemocratic.Asked whether he would oppose a presidential candidate with a military background, Sleiman said: “Everyone has the right to run but a constitutional obstacle should be eliminated if a [member of the] military were to run.”Sleiman also said he would meet former Prime Minister Saad Hariri during his one-day visit to Riyadh. Despite low expectations by the March 8 camp, Sleiman said he expected his visit to Saudi Arabia to be beneficial for Lebanon.
Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai was also optimistic about Sleiman’s visit to Saudi Arabia.“There is great friendship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. The president’s visit in this difficult time in which we are living will have big fruitful results on our crisis in the region,” Rai told reporters at Beirut airport after returning from a visit to the Vatican. He praised Sleiman’s rejection of the extension of his mandate. “We support him [Sleiman] with all our strength that the presidential elections be held on its constitutional date with the election of a new president,” Rai said.


Fares Soueid criticizes tactics of Hezbollah supporters
November 11, 2013/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: March 14 General Secretariat Coordinator Fares Soueid criticized Sunday Hezbollah supporters who rely on blocking roads as a tactic against security forces, especially in Jbeil, the National News Agency reported. Soueid, who made the comments at a news conference held at his residence in Qartaba, was referring to an incident that took place Saturday, after the family of a man summoned for questioning by the authorities held a protest, severely congesting weekend roads as a result. According to Soueid, a personal dispute took place between two individuals Thursday and both individuals were called in by security forces for questioning at the Jbeil Serail. One of the two appeared, was interrogated and later released. The other man, who has apparent links to Hezbollah, did not show up and his family took to the streets over the release of the other man. “The family objected to the decision made by the authorities to release the other man involved in the dispute and waited until Saturday afternoon, when all of Qartaba’s residents return to their villages for the weekend, to block the roads for over an hour, under the eyes of the security forces, who failed to reopen the roads,” Soueid said. Dozens of young men reportedly blocked the road leading to Qartaba Saturday, leaving motorists stranded. Soueid said that while the road was eventually reopened, this happened only after the protesters decided to conclude their demonstration. Soueid complained that the incident was becoming a pattern, as similar protests by Hezbollah supporters were becoming common. “There is a party in Jbeil which thinks that it enjoys excessive power in Lebanon and thinks that it can control the security decisions in the area, and reacts much like the [protesters] who rallied on the road leading to Qartaba on Saturday,” Soueid, a former Jbeil MP, added. “We ask what role Hezbollah played in this incident and other incidents in our area,” he said. Soueid addressed the “thugs” who blocked the road Saturday, saying the people of Jbeil refuse to be oppressed. “In Jbeil, men and women refuse to feel disempowered and oppressed, and we are ready to defend our dignity. We will not resort to violence unless we were humiliated and insulted, and when this happens we will do whatever it takes to defend our villages and to keep our heads held up high,” he said.

Miqati Warns Higher Relief Council Chief: Your Accusations Are Punishable by Law
Naharnet Newsdesk 09 November 2013/Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati warned the Higher Relief Council's chief on Saturday that the “haphazard accusations” Ibrahim Bashir voiced a day earlier are punishable by law. “What you said violates the law that stipulates you are not allowed to give any statements before taking a permission from your immediate superior,” Miqati told Bashir in an open letter. “Your statement lacks morality.”  He added: “What you said also contradicts with the regulations that govern the work of the HRC, because, as you know, there are no relations between the Council and the position you used to hold and the premiership or the cabinet's secretary-general.” Bashir had denied on Friday that he has embezzled USD 10 million from public funds, accusing the caretaker premier and the cabinet's secretary-general of trying to “eliminate him.”  He elaborated to al-Manar television: “Since I took office there hasn't been harmony with the cabinet's secretary-general, Suhail Bouji, because the Council strives now to serve all the Lebanese while they want it to cater to Sunnis only.”"After I took office, I made sure the HRC serves all the Lebanese,” Bashir told LBCI television. Miqati revealed in his open letter that the council of ministers' directorate-general and its secretary-general will take the necessary “legal and judicial measures and procedures towards (Bashir's) irresponsible defamation.” “Launching haphazard accusations is punishable by the penal code and it is a desperate attempt to change the case's path."He continued: “It is also a failed attempt to politicize and doubt the investigation committee's decision that is probing the incident.” “Your statement also incites sectarian and regional tensions.” Miqati stressed that a copy of this “warning” will be sent to the Public Prosecution, along with Bashir's statement, for investigation.

ISF Files Complaint against Rifaat Eid and Charbel Says His 'Terrorist' Statement Unlawful
Naharnet Newsdesk 09 November 2013/Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel on Saturday slammed the Arab Democratic Party Secretary-General's statement as "terrorist," warning that Rifaat Eid's comments are "punishable by law."“Supporting the killing of others is a criminal takfiri act that is punishable by law,” Charbel warned in a released statement. “We strongly condemn this kind of language that expresses a violent and irresponsible attitude.”He added: “Eid's speech also puts civil peace at risk and gives way to mutual retaliations.” Earlier on Saturday, Eid slammed the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau as a “spy agency working against Lebanon's interests,” stressing also that the party's head Ali Eid will not go to the ISF's office for questioning.  “We will act only in accordance to the law,” he said, making a veiled threat that killing ISF members was permissible. Rifaat Eid's televised speech came after First Military Investigation Judge Riyad Abu Ghida issued on Thursday a subpoena against Ali Eid. Eid has been charged along with his driver Ahmed Ali with helping Ahmed Merhi, who is the suspected driver of the explosive-laden vehicle that blew up near al-Taqwa mosque in the northern city of Tripoli, to escape justice.  Charbel's statement assured that “Intelligence Bureau, its head and all its members are affiliated with the ISF and the Interior Ministry and take orders from them.” “It does not, under any condition, work under any sectarian or partisan guidance,” Charbel assured. “Facts have proven that the Intelligence Bureau serves all Lebanese without exceptions and has succeeded in dismantling many spying networks and uncovering terrorist plans that aimed at targeting innocent and safe citizens.” Earlier in the evening, the ISF filed a report with judicial authorities against Rifaat Eid. “The ISF General-Directorate filed a complained with the Public Prosecution, demanding the adoption of the necessary procedures against Eid that permitted the killing of Intelligence Bureau staff,” Future TV said. LBCI television also confirmed the news in its evening newscast.


Lebanon: Water for export
November 11, 2013/The Daily Star
According to a recent news item, Cyprus is looking into the possibility of purchasing water from Lebanon – and transporting it across the Mediterranean sea by either ship or pipeline.
Lebanon has been governed for months by a caretaker Cabinet, but the public might be encouraged to learn that a bilateral process has been established for this promising project. Cyprus’ agriculture minister made the announcement after receiving caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil for talks; he said Lebanon had submitted a proposal to provide water to Cyprus.
Committees will now study whether it is feasible for Cyprus to alleviate some of its agricultural needs by securing water supplies from Lebanon. After hearing such news, the Lebanese public might have a few different reactions, starting with checking one’s calendar to find out whether it is April 1.
The most immediate reaction is, naturally, to ask why, as in why on earth would Lebanese officials spend any of their supposedly precious time exploring ways to export water, when local communities have a long-standing difficulty securing water supplies?
The Shabrouh Dam in Kesrouan was supposed to alleviate some of the problem, but a detailed media report has shown that the facility suffers from clogging and a steep deficit in water, meaning that the precious commodity is being wasted. Elsewhere, there are the horror stories of how local produce is being irrigated by polluted water supplies; perhaps the Cypriots haven’t heard about such matters.
In Mount Lebanon alone, there are some 400 villages and small towns that continue to endure regular water cuts. The authorities, of course, can’t be bothered to inform the public of a regular schedule for such cuts, or when they will finally end. In addition, there are also the many localities that don’t even have running water flowing to people’s homes.
Everyone is familiar with the sight of water trucks that pull up to people’s homes, with citizens obliged to pay hefty sums just to keep washing and doing household chores. Meanwhile, expenses are also racked up for paying for drinking water. Private water companies are apparently able to get their hands on sufficient sources of water to sell that good to the public, while the state authorities condone the practice. This is a seemingly simple two-step process: Take water from government-controlled facilities and reservoirs; and then sell it to consumers, after charging a huge markup.
The water situation mirrors the situation on the electricity front, where again, mafias and not the state call the shots. The mafias of generator owners enjoy the protection of influential political parties and politicians and are allowed to gouge the public, which is unable to force the authorities to do the job – supplying electricity – that they are supposed to be doing.
Perhaps the next development on the energy and natural resources front will be the news that Lebanon has begun high-level discussions to export electricity to surrounding needy countries.

Alain Aoun: FPM Talks with Mustaqbal Did Not Tackle Issues of Contention
by Naharnet Newsdesk 10 November/Free Patriotic Movement MP Alain Aoun stressed that the movement's series of talks with various parties is aimed at ending the political deadlock in Lebanon, reported the Kuwaiti al-Seyassah daily on Sunday. Aoun revealed: “The FPM's meeting with the Mustaqbal Movement on Thursday however did not address issues of contention.” “We are seeking to find a mechanism that will help us resolve the country's problems,” he added. “We are conducting our actions away from the disputes between the Mustaqbal Movement and Hizbullah,” he continued.
“We are not seeking to persuade Hizbullah to accept the Mustaqbal's positions and we are not making the Mustaqbal Movement accept the other's views,” stated the MP.
“The FPM wants to break the deadlock between the political parties, regain the initiative, and see how things will unravel without being attached to the Syrian crisis,” stressed Aoun.
He revealed that the FPM and Mustaqbal Movement presented their views on the government formation efforts during their meeting on Thursday. He noted that no breakthroughs have been achieved in this file, hoping that President Michel Suleiman's visit to Saudi Arabia would yield positive results in this file. Suleiman is scheduled to travel the kingdom on Monday where he is set to hold talks with King Abdullah, Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, and Mustaqbal Movement leader MP Saad Hariri. The president stated on Saturday that he is not seeking to tackle the government impasse with Saudi officials. A meeting between Change and Reform and the Mustaqbal blocs' lawmakers on Thursday did not result in an accord between both parties, although it was an opportunity to “share ideas and reach common grounds,” the MPs said after the talks. “Both parties were honest and we shared some ideas,” Mustaqbal MP Atef Majdalani told reporters after the meeting. He added: “We agreed on continuing the talks to discuss pending national issues.”Change and Reform bloc MP Ibrahim Kanaan explained that the dialogue initiative that his party came forward with aims at “reaching out to all parliamentary blocs.”Thursday's meeting is one of a series of talks the FPM is seeking to hold with political forces in order to end Lebanon's political deadlock. The Change and Reform lawmakers had met on Wednesday with a Hizbullah delegation.

LBCI won’t apologize for Hezbollah skit

November 11, 2013/By Rayane Abou Jaoude /The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Lebanese director Charbel Khalil told The Daily Star Sunday that he would not apologize for impersonating Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and Prophet Jonah in an episode of his comedy show. “I will not apologize,” Khalil said. “We are continuing with our work, and this issue is behind us now.”After tuning in to the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International’s satirical show “Basmat Watan” – a play on words in Arabic meaning both “smiles of a nation” and “death of a nation” – over the weekend, a number of Hezbollah supporters took to the streets in Beirut and Baalbek to protest the comical impersonation of the party’s secretary-general. Others in Tripoli also protested over the impersonation of the Prophet Jonah. But the show’s director, Charbel Khalil, challenged his critics and said he would not apologize for the episode.
“Apologizing is not possible because what would I be apologizing for?” Khalil told LBCI Saturday night, a day after the episode, which airs on the local television channel, raised tensions.
“I will continue with my show but not for the sake of provoking [anyone],” he added. Khalil told The Daily Star Sunday that an objective media outlet had the right to criticize and satirize any political and religious figure.
“[The show] has impersonated every religious figure, it does not mean I have reservations against anyone,” he said. “I respect them all.” He added: “The impersonation of religious figures has become a regular thing in Lebanon.”Protesters blocked roads and burned tires in Beirut’s Sin al-Fil as others demonstrated in front of the Baalbek Serail Friday. Others blocked the international highway in Tripoli and gathered at the Abu Ali roundabout. Members of the Association of Muslim Scholars also gathered in Nour Square in the northern city Sunday to protest the show, carrying banners that read: “Religion and its rituals are a red line.”
The association, as well as the party Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, said the show aimed to incite sectarian strife in the country and called for its cancellation. Ahmad Hazim, spokesman for the association, said that the show should be boycotted. “We call on those concerned in the country, including our parents and students, to boycott the program and the station, that could be the start of a response which could escalate if the concerned station does not apologize,” Hazim said. Friday’s show aired two separate segments with actor Jean Boujedoun impersonating Nasrallah, wearing his trademark black turban and sporting a similar beard. The other segment showed another actor impersonating the Prophet Jonah. In response to the episode, Dar al-Fatwa in the northern region of Akkar issued a statement asking Charbel Khalil to apologize for impersonating the Prophet Jonah.
“A man’s freedom ends when it infringes on another man’s freedom,” Dar al-Fatwa said in a statement.
A delegation of media professionals are also set to visit the head of the Audiovisual Media Council, Abdul-Hadi Mahfoud, Monday and present him with a petition calling to end programming that might harm religious figures.
In 2006, “Basmat Watan” impersonated Nasrallah, prompting violent protests in Beirut and other parts of the country. Khalil then apologized for the sketch, saying it was not meant to insult the Hezbollah leader.
“It was different then, there were injuries during the protests, and there was a war going on,” Khalil told The Daily Star. “I will not apologize now.”Hezbollah supporters lashed out at Khalil and LBCI on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and also called for the cancellation of the show. Participants of a group on Facebook called “Stop Charbel Khalil” went so far as to call for “Death to Charbel Khalil.”
A tweet from an angry citizen read, “Haven’t you learned, Charbel Khalil, from the first time?”Some stood in solidarity with Khalil, claiming that the show was a satire and protesters were making a mountain out of a molehill. Some called Khalil brave. “People in Lebanon should begin to get used to protests and stupid insults, they will not work and will not scare anyone, if anything they garner more attention,” one tweet translated from Arabic read.
Some Twitter postings joked that the incident united rivals in Tripoli and the southern suburbs of Beirut against Khalil. Pierre al-Daher, chairman of LBCI, reiterated to The Daily Star Sunday that neither the broadcaster nor Khalil would apologize for Friday’s program. When asked if another Nasrallah impersonation could happen in the future, Daher replied, “Why not?”
“There is an issue, and I don’t know who put that idea in people’s mind, that there are some people who cannot be criticized,” he said, adding that “it was media’s right” to impersonate and satirize whomever it wanted.Media analyst Sarah Rishani argued that while the impersonation was completely legal and legitimate, such reactions were expected, particularly since Nasrallah is both a political and religious actor. “It is expected that there be some disgruntlement,” Rishani said. “We’ve seen it before, but the fear of offending people should not stifle free expression.” Rishani also said that the program’s ratings spiked and hits online to view the episode had increased because of the protests. “[The show] got more clicks which defeats [the protesters’] purpose. It is an interesting paradox,” she said.
According to Rishani, if the show were to be canceled, it would be a step backward for Lebanese media and freedom of expression. The show was taken off the air for a few months back in 2006 for similar reasons. She said “the timing of the episode should be questioned,” adding that it might have been intentional and the reactions expected. Rishani also said that while it was too early to tell, there was a very large possibility the show would not be taken off the air, at least not at the moment.“Luckily, the system [in Lebanon] is chaotic, so this freedom is unintentional,” she said. With a caretaker government in place, deteriorating security, and increasing concern over the conflict in neighboring Syria and the large number of refugees, the television program is clearly not on the top of the agenda. Rishani said the sensitivity of the issue was heightened because of the prominence of the channel that aired it. “LBCI is a leading channel, no one wants to alienate it, not even Hezbollah,” she said. “They need LBCI, it has the largest audience in Lebanon.”She added there was no telling what the reactions would be this coming week. “Let’s see how this plays out,” she said. “Right now the government is a mess. Maybe Charbel Khalil will have to apologize.” – With additional reporting by Antoine Amrieh

Kerry: U.S. 'Not Blind, Stupid' in Nuclear Talks with Iran
Naharnet Newsdesk 10 November 2013/The United States is "not blind, and I don't think we're stupid" in nuclear talks with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry said in a U.S. television interview that aired on Sunday.
The top U.S. diplomat also insisted there is "zero gap" between the Obama administration and its commitment to Israel, with diplomatic relations between the two allies under strain over the Iran nuclear talks. Kerry made his remarks in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" program after talks with world powers in Geneva failed to produce a deal to curb Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief
"Some of the most serious and capable, expert people in our government, who have spent a lifetime dealing both with Iran as well as with nuclear weapon and nuclear armament and proliferation, are engaged in our negotiation," Kerry said, speaking after intensive talks.
"We are not blind, and I don't think we're stupid," he said.
"I think we have a pretty strong sense of how to measure whether or not we are acting in the interests of our country and of the globe, and particularly of our allies like Israel and Gulf states and others in the region."Three grueling days of Iran's parallel talks with the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany, known as the P5+1, ended with no agreement but the two sides will meet again on November 20.
Hopes had soared for a deal after top world diplomats rushed to Geneva to join the talks, but faded after cracks began to show among world powers when France raised concerns. Kerry told "Meet the Press" that the United States is "absolutely determined that this would be a good deal or there'll be no deal."
That is why "we didn't close the deal here in the last couple of days, because we are together unified, pushing for things that we believe provide the guarantees that Israel and the rest of the world demand here," he said.
"We're talking about stopping their program where it is, with enough guarantees to know that it is in fact stopped where it is, while we then negotiate the full measure of the deal with our allies, with our friends, with all of the interested parties, advising at the table, consulting, and their interests well represented," the U.S. secretary of state said.
Meanwhile hawkish Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a leading voice in the U.S. Congress on defense and military matters, warned against easing sanctions on the regime in Iran, saying Sunday it could have dire consequences.
"My fear is that we're going to wind up creating a North Korea-type situation in the Mideast, where we negotiate with Iran and one day you wake up, they don't give up their enrichment capabilities, they don't divest themselves of plutonium-producing reactors, centrifuges continue to spin and you're going to have a nuclear Iran," Graham said during an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" program.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was the first to reveal that a deal had failed, pre-empting the official announcement after the talks broke up. Fabius had earlier raised concerns that the proposal did not go far enough to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.
He insisted that France wanted an agreement, despite claims from some officials that Paris had stymied efforts to reach a deal.
The draft deal said to be on the table could have seen Iran freeze parts of its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of some of the sanctions on its battered economy.
He also spoke during the interview on the strength of U.S.-Israeli ties.
"There is zero gap between this president, between this administration and our commitment to Israel, our commitment to its safety, the commitment of the president to our allies in the Gulf and the region," Kerry said.
He added that President Barack Obama "is prepared to engage in an agreement with respect to defending our allies in that region" and "will defend them, as we have in the past, against any kind of external attack."
Meanwhile Israel on Sunday launched a diplomatic offensive to prevent what it considers a "bad and dangerous" deal with Iran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he spoke to the U.S., Russian, French, German and British leaders -- five of the six world powers negotiating with Iran -- and "told them that according to the information reaching Israel, the looming agreement is bad and dangerous."
According to Netanyahu, the deal on the table would have removed sanctions on Iran while still enabling the Islamic republic to enrich uranium and advance works on a plutonium reactor.
"I asked them what was the rush? I suggested they wait, and seriously consider things," Netanyahu said at the opening of Israel's weekly cabinet meeting. Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said earlier he would lobby the U.S. Congress to thwart the deal.
Source/Agence France Presse.World

Is Syria a headless chicken

Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat
Most companies closed down in Syria after the fire of the revolution reached the Damascus suburbs and chaos spread in big cities like Aleppo. Shutting down fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken’s last remaining branch there is further proof that the situation is deteriorating as there’s no money, no funding and no customers.
The Damascus Airport is only working at one fourth of its capacity.
ing goods for restaurants like KFC are no longer spotted on the roads. Almost all land border crossings are controlled by rebels, except for the al-Masnaa border crossing next to Lebanon. Turkey began building a wall with Syria out of fear of regime affiliates and terrorists from the Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The regime hasn’t tired yet, and it continues to fight fiercely to regain some strategic border crossings, like Iraq’s, in order to bring in weapons and fuel as the Iraqi regime is still its biggest source of funds. Battles are ongoing far away from the borders as well, in order to regain the suburbs and neighborhoods near the Damascus Airport, as during the past few months the opposition besieging the strategic road there. It’s no longer easy for residents to go from one neighborhood to another inside Damascus itself. There’s no life in areas controlled by the regime so all restaurants and companies have shut down.
This is Syria’s situation today and those who want to negotiate with Bashar Al-Assad’s government must know how the situation is on the ground and how the government has become merely a virtual mailing address. This, of course, does not mean that there’s an alternative regime to replace it. The country is entering a political and administrative vacuum. So how can some think that a conference like the Geneva conference can impose decisions on a country without functioning institutions?
If the opposition wasn’t divided into dozens of uncoordinated battalions, it would be in control of the land it has managed to seize. But the opposition is merely a collection of militias taking over checkpoints and posts or sometimes seizing entire cities. And even in the latter case, it does not have the capabilities to defend these cities or the capabilities to manage them. Syrian regime forces withdrew from some areas, leaving them for Al-Qaeda in order to punish these areas’ residents and show other rebellious areas that they will fall in the hands of the extremists. The regime is thus telling the people: the only choice is between the and the extremists of Al-Qaeda.
This is what makes us talk about basic facts. The regime’s ability to recover, survive and once again manage the country has disappeared. What the Assad regime can keep doing is fighting the war, as it is spending its savings and men on it. It’s also receiving aid from parties which support it in hopes there will be a political solution that may save it later. It’s difficult to answer the question of how can a political solution restore the regime since the latter possesses nothing anymore to run the state. All what’s left is destroyed cities and a desire for revenge.