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Bible Quotation for today/God
01 John 01/05-10: "Now the message that we have heard from his Son and announce is this: God is light, and there is no darkness at all in him. If, then, we say that we have fellowship with him, yet at the same time live in the darkness, we are lying both in our words and in our actions. 7 But if we live in the light—just as he is in the light—then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us. But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing. If we say that we have not sinned, we make a liar out of God, and his word is not in us.
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For November 13/13
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For November 13/13
Lebanon: Spying stick
November 12, 2013/The Daily Star
The latest political “controversy” to explode in Lebanon has refocused attention on the southern border with Israel, where the Jewish state has been busy installing surveillance devices that pose a threat to national security. The warning bells have been sounded recently by Speaker Nabih Berri and MP Hassan Fadlallah of Hezbollah. As a result, Nijmeh Square has become a beehive of frantic activity as warnings are issued, and steps to correct the situation are promised. But more importantly, the “Israeli spying” scandal is also falling into the same old predictable story of becoming a stick for the March 8 coalition to use against its March 14 rivals. It takes only a short trip through the various statements and innuendo to discover the twisted logic that is in play, because in raising the issue, March 8 politicians have been kind enough to insert just enough facts into the discussion to make people scratch their heads. As they roll out this latest warning, March 8 politicians have talked about how the problem has become steadily worse since 2010. In fact, Fadlallah issued similar warnings in his parliamentary capacity back then, but to anyone with a basic knowledge of Lebanese politics, there is a problem with using the last three years to bash the March 14 coalition over government inaction. The March 8 coalition brought down the national unity government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri right at the beginning of 2011. Since then, the executive branch of government has largely been in the hands of pro-March 8 groups, or has been in a state of limbo, largely due to unreasonable demands on the part of March 8. Fadlallah complained on Monday that the Israeli devices nearly doubled in that period, raising the question of which factions should be held accountable – the ones in government or in the opposition? The Telecommunications Ministry, it should be added, has been in the hands of Free Patriotic Movement politicians during this time, another matter that should be brought to the attention of people angry over the spying issue. In the end, the March 8-led effort has resulted in the following solution: Submit a complaint to the United Nations, or the same world body that the same politicians regularly accuse of being hopelessly biased in favor of Israel when it comes to such sovereignty issues. The fact is that March 14 politicians are just as keen about national sovereignty when it comes to Israel, just as they are when the matter involves Syria. If the political factions running the show in Lebanon were truly serious about the spying issue, they would be busy lobbying other countries for their support in the forum of the U.N. And they should also explain who should be held accountable – in the government – for the lack of action during the last three years of rising Israeli spying activity on the border.
Islamic Action Front Official Shot
Dead in Bahsa in Tripoli
Naharnet Newsdesk 12 November 2013/..Islamic Action Front official Saadeddine Ghiyyeh was killed on Tuesday after sustaining gunshots wounds to his head. According to state-run National News Agency, masked men opened fire at Ghiyyeh in al-Bahsa in the northern city of Tripoli. The news agency reported that two men on a motorcycle shot Ghiyyeh, who was in his car, in the head. He was submitted to the hospital in a critical condition with media outlets reporting his death later on. Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) reported that the Lebanese army swiftly cordoned off and deployed in the area to halt any negative repercussions to the incident. In September, a bomb exploded in the car of the 43-year-old Ghiyyeh after he parked it in al-Qobba area in the northern city. The explosion only caused material damage. The Islamic Action Front is an umbrella grouping of pro-Syrian regime Sunni groups in Lebanon. Head of Islamic Tawhid Movement-Command Council Sheikh Hashem Minkara, who is close to Ghiyyeh, denounced the Islamic official's death. He called on the Lebanese state to reveal those who are responsible for the attack and end the security chaos in Tripoli. “The assaults against Islamic figures and Ulemas in the north were enough... The killing of Ghiyyeh was on the hands of mercenaries, who don't have a religion,” Minkara told reporters. He considered that the incident comes as a result of the strong rhetoric of some figures. “Ghiyyeh's fate will become the fate of all those who are pro or anti (Syria),” Minkara added.
“We should all realize the critical stage that the country is passing through,” he stressed, urging all sides “to return to the voice of reason.” Later on Tuesday, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told radio Voice of Lebanon that concerned authorities have started investigating the incident. "We have questioned several detainees over Ghiyyeh's assassination and we gathered some clues that can be used in investigation," he said.
Charbel pointed out, however, that the killing of the Tripoli figure has political links and "is not an assassination." Tripoli is regularly the scene of violence between its Sunni majority and a minority of Alawites -- the religious community from which Syria's President Bashar Assad hails. Violence has usually pitted the Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh, which backs the Syrian uprising, against the neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen, which is populated by Alawites. The Syrian uprising, which pits a Sunni-dominated rebellion against the Assad government, has inflamed existing sectarian tensions in Lebanon.
Suleiman Returns from Riyadh, Urges Lebanese to Maintain Close Ties with Saudi
by Naharnet Newsdesk 12 November 2013ظPresident Michel Suleiman stressed on Tuesday the importance of preserving Lebanon's good relations with Saudi Arabia, the same day he returned from a one-day official visit to Riyadh. Suleiman met with a delegation from the Lebanese Business and Investment Council in Saudi Arabia which briefed him on its good ties with Saudi officials, Baabda Palace announced in a statement. The president “stressed the importance for the Lebanese to preserve these relations through the respect of the kingdom's laws,” it said. Suleiman told the delegation that abiding by the Saudi regulations would help consolidate the ties of mutual respect, the statement added. The president returned on Tuesday from Saudi Arabia, where a day earlier he held talks with King Abdullah during a meeting attended by top Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Salman and the Saudi ministers of foreign affairs, interior and information. Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Saad Hariri was also present. The state-run National News Agency said discussions focused on the situation in the region, particularly in Syria and the ongoing consultations to hold the Geneva 2 peace conference.
Ali Eid Evades Questioning over
Naharnet Newsdesk 12 November 2013/Arab Democratic Party leader Ali Eid on Tuesday evaded a summons to undergo questioning by a military tribunal judge over his alleged aid to a suspect in the mosque bombings of the northern city of Tripoli. Eid's attorney handed First Military Investigation Judge Riyad Abu Ghida a report claiming that the suspect cannot attend the questioning session for medical reasons. Lawyer Huyam Eid submitted the alibi to Abu Ghida, who referred it to the military prosecutor, Judge Saqr Saqr, for the appropriate response. On Thursday, Abu Ghida issued a subpoena against Eid, a former MP who is from Syrian President Bashar Assad's Alawite sect. He has been charged along with his driver Ahmed Ali, who is under arrest, with helping Ahmed Merhi escape justice by smuggling him to Syria. Merhi is the suspected driver of the explosive-laden vehicle that blew up near al-Taqwa mosque. Huyam Eid called on Tuesday for Ali's release and said the military tribunal should withdraw the arrest warrant issued against the Arab Democratic Party leader. The twin car bombings that targeted the Sunni al-Taqwa and al-Salam mosques on August 23 have left hundreds of casualties. Separately, General Prosecutor Samir Hammoud tasked on Monday the head of the Criminal Investigation Department to question Eid's son, Arab Democratic Party Secretary-General Rifaat Eid over his recent threats against the Internal Security Forces. On Saturday, Eid slammed the ISF Intelligence Bureau as a “spy agency working against Lebanon's interests.”
Berri Hopes for Positive 'Nuclear Blast,' Says March 14 Shouldn't Miss 'Golden Opportunity'
Naharnet Newsdesk 12 November 2013/Speaker Nabih Berri has expressed optimism that a deal on Iran's nuclear program would have positive effects on Lebanon, reiterating his call on the March 14 alliance to agree to its participation in the government with nine ministers similar to the March 8 coalition. In remarks to local newspapers published on Tuesday, Berri said: “The region would witness a political nuclear explosion whose shrapnel and effects would reach the entire region, including Lebanon” if world powers agreed on a deal to curb Iran's nuclear program. “If such a deal is reached, then President Barack Obama's administration would be the first U.S. administration that takes a decision serving the U.S. away from Israeli pressure and interests,” he said. Diplomats insist world powers are close to reaching a landmark interim deal to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief despite failing to do so in Geneva over the weekend. The so-called P5+1 group -- Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China plus Germany -- and Iran will reconvene again in Geneva on November 20 to try to iron out differences. In his remarks, Berri reiterated that there is an urgent need for a new government in Lebanon.
“The 9-9-6 formula is a golden opportunity for the March 14 alliance,” he said. “Its share in this cabinet would be in its favor.”Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat has suggested a cabinet in which both March 8 and March 14 would get nine ministers each and centrists would have 6 ministers after the failure to agree on another formula. “We tried to form a cabinet with an 8-8-8 formula but March 14 didn't accept it,” Berri said.
“We are now proposing the 9-9-6 formula but it hasn't accepted it either. What does it want?” he wondered. The March 14 alliance and mainly al-Mustaqbal movement has conditioned the formation of an all-embracing cabinet to Hizbullah's withdrawal from Syria and its adherence to the Baabda Declaration. But Berri said he was surprised by such a condition, saying “everyone approves the Baabda Declaration as part of the deal reached on the dialogue table.” “It has never mentioned the arms of the resistance,” he said. The rival political leaders agreed last year to keep Lebanon away from the policy of regional and international conflicts and spare it the negative repercussions of the region's crises. The March 8 and March 14 leaders also affirmed commitment to the Taef Accord and promised to continue efforts to implement all its provisions.
Aoun Urges Cabinet Session on Oil Exploration: Those Opposing It Want Lebanon's Bankruptcy
Naharnet Newsdesk 12 November 2013/Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun urged on Tuesday holding a cabinet meeting to discuss oil extraction, accusing those obstructing a governmental session of “wanting Lebanon's bankruptcy.”"I call on the president and the (caretaker) prime minister to hold a cabinet meeting and discuss the issue of petroleum extraction,” Aoun said after the weekly meeting of his Change and Reform bloc.
He warned: “This is our last resort to protect the Lebanese people.”Aoun accused political factions “obstructing” a cabinet session on this issue of subjecting the state to “bankruptcy.” He explained: “We are committed to this and those opposing oil extraction want to subject the state to bankruptcy because this issue draws an end to the collapse of the financial situation and to chaos.”Acute discord among Lebanese officials is delaying the awarding of 10 of the oil blocks as Speaker Nabih Berri is calling for the assigning of the 10 offshore blocks for oil exploration at once. Meanwhile, caretaker Energy Minister Jebran Bassil is calling for designating only two blocks for the meantime. Lebanese factions are also at odds regarding a cabinet session to endorse two decrees essential to award the oil blocks for the oil companies. The decrees call for demarcating 10 maritime oil exploration blocks and setting up a revenue-sharing model. Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati continuously argued that holding a session for the cabinet requires a unanimous political agreement, pointing out that a caretaker cabinet can't approve non-essential decrees. However, Berri and Bassil call for the caretaker to hold an extraordinary session to approve the two decrees and guarantee Lebanon's rights. In a related matter, the FPM leader noted that classifying some banks in Lebanon under B and C levels signals bankruptcy. “The state's expenditures and the financial situation must be controlled,” he stated. On the situation of the northern city of Tripoli, Aoun said it “has not changed” after the recent truce. "And the proof is the assassination of Sheikh Saadeddine Ghiyyeh.” He added: “No security decision will end the clashes in Tripoli and we lament that this topic our main discussion everyday.”Ghiyyeh, a pro-Syrian regime Islamic Action Front official, was killed on Tuesday after sustaining gunshots wounds to his head when masked men opened fire at him in al-Bahsa in Tripoli.
Mustaqbal Slams Hizbullah's Escalatory Political Rhetoric, Urges it to Accept Baabda Declaration
Naharnet Newsdesk 12 November 2013/The Mustaqbal bloc slammed on Tuesday Hizbullah's escalatory rhetoric, while demanding that the case of the twin bombings in the northern city of Tripoli be tackled by the Judicial Council. It said in a statement after its weekly meeting: “Hizbullah must announce its complete commitment to the Baabda Declaration.”It noted that Hizbullah officials have resorted to threatening tones during their statements, while others have demanded a return to dialogue among political powers. These contradictory positions reflect the confusion the party is experiencing, said the Mustaqbal bloc. Commenting on the investigations into the August twin bombings in Tripoli, it demanded that the Judicial Council take over the case. It hailed the concerned authorities for the breakthroughs they have achieved in uncovering the suspects, demanding that they all comply by interrogation requests. “All those involved in the bombings should be apprehended, regardless of their political position and power,” stressed the Mustaqbal bloc. Head of the Arab Democratic Party Ali Eid and his driver have been found to be linked to the bombings. Eid has been summoned for questioning, but he evaded on Tuesday a summons to undergo questioning by a military tribunal judge claiming medical reasons. His son, Rifaat, has declared that his father will not comply with the demand instead slamming the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau as a “spy agency working against Lebanon's interests.”General Prosecutor Samir Hammoud tasked on Monday the head of the Criminal Investigation Department to question Rifaat Eid over his recent threats against the ISF Intelligence Bureau.
Miqati Prefers Extension on Vacuum, Says Lebanon's Interest Lies in Having Good Ties with Riyadh
Naharnet Newsdesk 12 November 2013/Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati has said he would prefer the extension of President Michel Suleiman's mandate if given the choice between it and vacuum in the country's top post. “If the elections were not held, then I would support the extension of President Michel Suleiman's tenure which is a better option than having vacuum,” Miqati told As Safir newspaper in remarks published on Tuesday. But the caretaker PM was optimistic that the presidential elections would be held when Suleiman's mandate expires in May next year. “It would not be impossible to elect a new president and find the appropriate person for this post,” he said. Asked about his relations with Saudi Arabia, Miqati said he didn't have personal ties with it. While claiming he did not have a problem with Saudi officials and that he was keen on the best of ties with them, Miqati said he could not force them to have better relations with him at the personal level. “Saudi Arabia has always stood by Lebanon which does not have any interest to have a negative stance from it,” he said.
Miqati also criticized the accusations made by some local parties against Riyadh. “It is neither responsible for bombings, nor it is arming fighters in the North.” As Safir also asked him about his ties with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Miqati denied that he has sent Assad a message, stressing he “has no ties” with him. On the formation of the new cabinet and the conditions set by the rival parties, Miqati said: “Is Hizbullah going to respond if we tell it to withdraw from Syria?” “Political pragmatism requires the formation of the government first,” he said. The March 14 alliance and mainly al-Mustaqbal movement has conditioned the formation of an all-embracing cabinet on the withdrawal of Hizbullah members, who are fighting alongside Assad's troops, from Syria. Miqati echoed remarks made by Speaker Nabih Berri that the 9-9-6 formula is in the interest of March 14. The proposal lies in giving nine ministers to March 14, another nine to March 8 and six ministers to the centrists.
Salam Expresses Relief over Suleiman's Visit to Riyadh, Says Cabinet Formation Local Affair
Naharnet Newsdesk 12 November 2013/Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam described on Tuesday the visit of President Michel Suleiman to Saudi Arabia as positive, pointing out that the formation of his cabinet is a local affair linked to foreign circumstances. “Suleiman's (visit to Saudi Arabia) definitely has benefits,” Salam said in comments published in al-Akhbar newspaper. Suleiman kicked off on Monday his one-day official visit to Saudi Arabia, meeting with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and holding also talks with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Riyadh. Salam stressed that the local political powers are highly affected by foreign powers, noting that the regional tension doesn't facilitate the government formation process. “The tensed regional situation is reflected on the Lebanese political powers,” Salam said. The PM-designate told al-Akhbar that the cabinet formation process should be discussed locally, denying that President Michel Suleiman will tackle the matter with senior Saudi officials. Endeavors are ongoing to end the cabinet deadlock amid reports that Suleiman insists on forming it ahead of the Independence Day on November 22 based on any distribution of portfolios as long as the rival parties agree. Salam continuously said that conditions and counter-conditions set by the rival sides have brought his efforts to form a cabinet to a stalemate. Since his appointment to form a cabinet in April, Salam has been seeking the formation of a 24-member cabinet in which the March 8, March 14 and centrists camps would each get eight ministers. Salam urged officials in the interview published on Tuesday in al-Akhbar to fortify the local situation amid the unknown changes in the region that the Lebanese can't impact. “Contacts are ongoing with the political foes,” he said. Salam stressed that he “isn't challenging any one,” saying that his “patience is running out.” “I will hold on to my post as long as the people support me,” he noted, Salam stressed that he isn't a “gambler or reckless.” “I will not form a de-facto cabinet as I am not seeking to make the country enter a confrontation stage or cause new disputes among the rival parties,” he told al-Akhbar.
Lamani Denies Contacting Kidnappers of Bishops in Syria, Lashes Out at 'Inaccurate' Media Reports
Naharnet Newsdesk 12 November 2013/Mokhtar Lamani, U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's representative in Damascus, denied on Tuesday that he is personally contacting the kidnappers of the two Orthodox bishops, who were seized in northern Syria in April. Lamani's office denied in comments published in al-Akhbar newspaper that he contacted head of a radical Chechen group led by Mohammed Akroff via Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan. Bishops Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi were kidnapped on April 23 in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo while they were on a humanitarian work. Lamani also ruled out in his comments reports saying that he had received a tangible evidence that the two bishop are safe or a 6-minute audio recording with Akroff. The official expressed surprise over the scenario published in some media outlets, wondering about the aims behind publishing such fabricated reports. He pointed out that he contacted several Syrian nationals to help free the two bishops, pointing out that they are held captive by an al-Qaida-affiliated group. “The Syrians who are contacting the kidnappers had previously confirmed to me that they are still alive,” Lamani said. He described reports saying that the fate of one of the bishops is unknown as “inaccurate,” saying that the information published in media reports led to cutting all contacts between the mediators and the kidnappers. General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim has met with Syrian President Bashar Assad to discuss the case of the bishops earlier in October. However, Syria expressed resentment over Lebanon's exploitation of the case of the two bishops, who are Syrians, considering it as “a national Syrian matter,” which Lebanon is interfering in.
Source/Agence France Presse.
Iran FM Denies Tehran Scuttled Nuclear Talks
Naharnet Newsdesk 12 November 2013/
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday denied U.S. claims that the Islamic republic had scuttled nuclear talks in Geneva, pointing instead to France as the culprit. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Abu Dhabi on Monday Iran had balked at the Geneva talks just as world powers were closing in on a deal to curb Tehran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. "The P5+1 was unified on Saturday when we presented our proposal to the Iranians... But Iran couldn't take it," said Kerry, who took part in the high-level talks. Zarif, on his Twitter account, alluded to comments by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who has been pilloried in the Iranian media after reports emerged that he scuppered a potential deal. "Mister Secretary of State, is it Iran which changed half the text of the Americans on Thursday and made contrary statements on Friday morning?" Zarif asked. Late Monday, Zarif, played down Kerry's remarks. "If we want to be fair, sometimes these comments are made to address certain concerns, or those of the hosting country," the foreign minister said.
Fabius joined the talks on Friday and immediately issued a statement saying that while there had been progress in the talks, "nothing has been agreed yet". The following day he was even less upbeat. "There is an initial draft that we do not accept," Fabius told France Inter radio Saturday morning. "There are some points on which we are not satisfied," he added, citing the "extremely prolific" Arak nuclear reactor and the question of uranium enrichment.
The talks, which saw the foreign ministers of the P5+1 group -- Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China plus Germany -- rush to Geneva in hopes of finally concluding a deal with Iran, ended inconclusively early on Sunday. They will resume in Geneva on November 20. Diplomats insist a deal is close despite the lack of breakthrough at the weekend.Source/Agence France Presse.
Briton Hurt in Iraq Oilfield Row over 'Shiite Insult'
Naharnet Newsdesk 12 November 2013/ Iraqis angry over alleged religious insults beat up a Briton working at an energy company in the country's south and spurred another firm to suspend operations, officials said on Tuesday. The two separate incidents come as Baghdad relies on foreign oil firms from the United States, Britain, China and elsewhere to help it ramp up crude output dramatically in the coming years in order to fund much-needed reconstruction. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki waded into the disputes, which involved American oilfield services companies Schlumberger and Baker Hughes, calling for the deportation of one of the expats involved.
Iraqi officials said a British employee of security firm G4S working at a Schlumberger camp near the giant Rumaila oilfield had on Monday tried to remove flags and pamphlets commemorating Imam Hussein, a venerated figure in Shiite Islam, just days before annual rituals marking his death. "A British employee took down a flag for Hussein and a picture of Imam Ali (another key Shiite figure) from the cars of the security company, and tore them down with a knife," said Ali Shaddad, a member of the provincial council of Basra, which is predominantly Shiite Muslim. Rumaila, located in south Iraq, is the country's biggest oilfield, where Britain's BP and China's CNPC have been working with oilfield services companies to ramp up output. "This provoked a group of workers, and they went and hit him repeatedly," said Shaddad. He said the man was transferred to a hospital in Basra and had yet to be discharged. The provincial councillor added that there were demands for Schlumberger's offices in Basra to be closed and its foreign staff deported. Maliki himself issued a statement calling for the expat to be deported, while also urging local residents to exercise restraint. The British embassy in Baghdad said only that it was "aware of a consular issue, and we are following up." The incident follows a similar one days earlier in which an Egyptian employee of Baker Hughes, another American oil services firm, also tried to remove flags commemorating Imam Hussein and Imam Ali from vehicles he was to use. It sparked protests which spurred the authorities to arrest the Egyptian, Shaddad said, on charges of insults against religion. The case is ongoing. Baker Hughes, which said in a statement that no injuries were suffered and its facility was secured, suspended its Iraq operations in the aftermath of the incident and declared a force majeure to its clients because of a "significant disruption of business". "While we investigate this incident, and until the work environment has stabilized, we are halting activities in Iraq," Baker Hughes chief executive Martin Craighead said in a statement. "We hope to resolve this issue in a timely manner, and resume operations in support of our customers and the country of Iraq, as soon as it is safe to do so."The two incidents come amid commemorations marking the death of Imam Hussein in 680 AD at the hands of the armies of the caliph Yazid, which has over time come to mark the symbolic split between Islam's Sunni and Shiite sects. To commemorate the occasion, millions of Shiites converge on the Iraqi city of Karbala, which houses a shrine to Imam Hussein. Several major international energy firms operate in south Iraq, which is rich in oil reserves, but take security precautions in the form of fortified camps and secured convoys due to the high level of violence in the country. In a sign of the importance attached to Iraq, however, outgoing Shell chief executive Peter Voser met with Maliki on Tuesday on a visit to Baghdad.
Source/Agence France Presse.
Israel Must Avoid Spats with U.S.,
Lieberman Says on Return
Naharnet Newsdesk 12 November 2013/ Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, newly reappointed after being cleared of corruption, on Tuesday urged his government to avoid spats with the U.S. over its policy on Iran's nuclear drive. Israel and the United States have been locked in a war of words over negotiations between world powers and Iran that could see sanctions relaxed in exchange for Tehran curbing or freezing parts of the disputed atomic program. "Regarding our recent differences with the United States, it's now time to calm things down," Lieberman said at a ceremony marking his return to the foreign ministry after an absence of more than a year. He said he had met U.S. ambassador Dan Shapiro in his "first work meeting" on Tuesday morning, and stressed that "relations with the U.S. are crucial, and without them we cannot maneuver on the world stage."
"Our relations are good and stable, and nothing can change that," he said. "It's only natural that we'll sometimes have differences of opinion with the U.S. ... but these differences need not be expressed publicly."
Shapiro on Monday sought to quell Israeli fears over an emerging deal with Iran, vowing that Washington would never let Tehran acquire a nuclear weapon. President Barack Obama "will not permit Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, period," he told delegates attending the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in Jerusalem. Western countries accuse Iran of seeking to develop an atomic weapon, a charge Tehran denies.
Diplomats have said they are closing in on an interim agreement that would freeze or curb some of Iran's nuclear activities for as long as six months in exchange for an easing of the tight sanctions on the Islamic republic, after failing to secure a deal at weekend crunch talks in Geneva. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has furiously denounced the emerging agreement as "dangerous", reaching out to world leaders and to the American public to get his point across. Officials in Israel have warned they could carry out unilateral military action to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons capability.
Lieberman took the oath of office in Israel's parliament on Monday, and was welcomed back by Netanyahu, who had been holding the foreign affairs portfolio himself during his absence.
The right-wing leader quit in December 2012 after being charged with fraud and breach of trust for appointing diplomat Zeev Ben Aryeh as ambassador to Latvia after he warned Lieberman about a police probe into his affairs.
A Jerusalem court on Wednesday agreed Lieberman had engaged in "inappropriate conduct". But it did not find it warranted a criminal conviction and announced his acquittal in a hearing that lasted just a few minutes.
SourceAgence France Presse.
Lavrov to confirm Russian air defense system, surface missiles for Egypt, Russian Navy facilities at Alexandria
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 12, 2013/Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu start a two-day visit to Cairo Wednesday, Nov. 13, to wind up a major sale of advanced Russian weaponry for the Egyptian army and the Russian Navy’s access to port facilities on the Mediterranean. debkafile’s military sources, which first revealed the coming transactions in the last week of October, now amplify that report by disclosing that Moscow has agreed to equip Egypt with a sophisticated combined double-layered system which covers both its defensive and offensive requirements.
1. The first layer will provide a shield against attack by
stealth aircraft, drones and cruise missiles for all of Egypt’s airspace,
including the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and its coastal waters, up to the central
Mediterranean. Our military sources add that part of the system will be
positioned in eastern Egypt for the protection of key Saudi cities as well. 2.
The second layer will be built around sophisticated surface missiles with ranges
that cover all points in the Middle East including Iran. Moscow and Cairo are
keeping the types of missiles secret.
Saudi Arabia is putting up the estimated $4 billion to pay for the transaction. The Russian delegation will include the first deputy director of the Federal Service on Military-Technical Cooperation, Andrei Boitsov, and officials from state-arms exporter Rosoboronexport. Egyptian officials continued Tuesday to deny reports that a Russian naval base would be established in an Egyptian port as “illogical,” saying it would “undermine the country’s independence and sovereignty.”However, according to our sources, planning is already underway for the deployment of some 1,500 Russian military personnel in Egypt to have the new missiles up and running and local personnel trained in their use by mid-2014. A similar number of Russian naval and marine servicemen have been assigned to setting up the naval base, most probably in Alexandria.
We have learned that the visiting Russian ministers and Egypt’s rulers will also discuss permission for Russian warships to dock in Egypt’s Red Sea waters opposite the Saudi coast.
Several thousand Russian military personnel will therefore soon be deployed in Egypt, 42 years after the entire body of Russian “military advisers” was expelled from the country by President Anwar Sadat.
The visit to Egypt by Lavrov and Gen. Shoigu was heralded at the port of Alexandria by the arrival of the Soviet Pacific Fleet flagship, the guided missile cruiser Varyag. Egyptian Navy commanders greeted the ship with unusual honor, including a gun salute. Varyag will remain in the Egyptian port for the duration of the Russian ministers’ stay. When US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Cairo on Nov. 3, he tried to induce Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to call off the arms deal with Russia by offering to restore in full the $1.3 billion US military aid package which the Obama administration left hanging after the coup which deposed Mohamed Morsi as president in July. Gen. El-Sisi replied that Cairo does not intend severing its military ties with Washington and would prefer to continue to receive American airplanes and tanks, but will also be glad to take delivery of advanced Russian weapons which the US has withheld from Egypt.
Opinion: Tehran should fear the Iranian people, not the West
By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Asharq Alawsat
During the week’s slower days in Iran, Thursday and Friday
(which are tantamount to the weekend there), the news did not attract much
One of the top concerns was preparations to eat chelow kabob—everyone’s favorite meal—as families gather to sit down at the dining table. Unfortunately, not many families can afford this weekly meal as prices of meat, fruit and vegetables increased as a result of the sanctions. During this very calm weekend, Iranian diplomats headed to Geneva to see if they could strike an agreement between Iran and the P5+1 on Tehran’s controversial nuclear program. On November 5, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told France 24 during his visit to France that some progress was achieved, although the negotiations failed to land a deal.
The Iranian diplomats, committed to maintaining complete secrecy, did not make any statements on the details of a potential deal for weeks since the first round of their meeting with the P5+1. The details that were leaked came from American officials who made statements to the New York Times on the condition of anonymity.
The report said that as part of the deal, Iran will halt uranium enrichment to the 20 percent level for six months and, in exchange, the US may unfreeze Iranian assets—that is, Iranian oil revenues held in banks in Japan, China and India. Whatever the agreement that was discussed during these failed Geneva talks, it would have been a significant step for President Rouhani’s administration.
It’s interesting that people in Iran don’t have any opinions regarding the nuclear program and the details of the negotiations. What concerns them is whether it’s possible to get enough butter, chicken and eggs, and whether it’s possible to bring these goods to the market for lower prices.
It may surprise you to know that in May, Iran faced a national crisis due to a butter shortage. Apparently, 95 percent of it is imported. Butter disappeared from markets the minute sanctions were imposed on Iranian shipping companies. I was shocked and surprised when I heard people complain of the butter shortage for days. All the daily papers were full of news on butter shortage, as if this is more important than national news. They discussed the issue as if it is the most important of necessities.
Believe me, Iranians appear to be extremely upset if they have to live without butter, and they wouldn’t care if all nuclear facilities are shut down next week.
The middle-class Iranian citizens I have spoken to in Dubai were generally unhappy about the nuclear program. What worries them most is the high price they had to pay. Some are suspicious about the regime’s real aim. Some whispered in my ear saying: “They wanted to produce a nuclear bomb but they changed their minds. Do you know that?”
The people’s real opinion is completely different than the optimism on display on state-owned television channels.
If Iran currently intends to reach an agreement with the West and to stop part of its nuclear program, or if it is to be more transparent to prove its peaceful intentions, then this is due to its fears of rising public anger and not of the West’s threats. He who knows the Iranians is aware that they will not protest against the nuclear program or against producing a nuclear bomb, or against anything that has to do with the government. When the Iranians’ stomachs are full, they don’t care about politics. But they may protest due to a shortage of butter or increase in egg prices.
When oil prices rose in June 2007, people set fire to gas stations and no one was capable of controlling the angry masses. You may ask about the reason the revolution erupted when most people’s stomachs were full and when there was no shortage of butter or cigarettes. Perhaps one of the reasons is that Ayatollah Khomeini promised he would spare the people electricity and water charges and to cash in their oil shares every other month. What an affluent life. Perhaps the current supreme guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, should take history into consideration and not his aspirations, as the threat of hungry people is more dangerous than the American administration’s threats which will always exist.
***Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard
The Illusion Of A “Political Solution” In Syria
Elias Harfoush/Al Hayat
There is now a quasi-consensus between the mediators dealing with the Syrian crisis as well as the western politicians who are involved in this crisis to say that there will be no military solution to the conflict and that the best way to end it is to look for a political solution.
Those parties who are discussing this idea and making these statements undoubtedly realize what a political solution means as well as its related commitments and terms. In all the regional and international crises, from the Lebanese war to the Bosnian conflict, to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the political solution reached in all these instances was the outcome of the military defeat of one side or the result of one regional or international sponsor abandoning this or that party.
When it comes to the Syrian conflict, there is certainly no room for such a solution. To this moment, there is no proof that either side, the regime or the opposition, will be achieving a definitive military victory, one that will force the other side to surrender. In addition, the external sponsors that are arming, financing and supporting this conflict on the political level are now more ready than ever to keep providing this support or even to enhance it.
Moreover, there is no room for a mid-way solution allowing for a settlement to be reached between the conflicting parties in Syria even if these parties were to agree to take part in the Geneva Conference. Indeed, how can the Syrian regime and its opponents reach a common agreement with everyone being fully aware of their clearly conflicting positions? The oppositionists are ruling out the possibility of Bashar al-Assad obtaining any post in the post-settlement phase. They believe that a regime that had its hands soaked with its people’s blood is not fit for staying in power. As for Al-Assad, he believes that this is a “pre-condition” that should not be imposed prior to the launching of the negotiations. He is also promoting his pretext in the western media by claiming that his fate is to be decided only through the voting ballots and that this is a purely internal Syrian affair. It is as if the constitutional falsification that allowed him to access power represents a shining example of reverting to the voting ballots!
Those parties who are alluding to a political solution to the Syrian crisis are doing so because they wish to shy away from their human, ethical, and even religious commitments as well as their duty to rescue Syria and its people and to help the Syrians in getting rid of this killer regime. This opportunity presented itself last year. However, Barack Obama let the Syrians down like everyone else.
Currently, the westerners are holding the Syrians responsible for finding a “political solution” with Bashar al-Assad. However, they all know that the only solution envisaged by the Syrian regime and its security services is one that will end up wiping out all the regime’s opponents, i.e. “the traitors and the terrorists”.
Those parties who are calling for a political solution actually want no solution at all. As a proof to that, the western officials who reached a deal concerning the Syrian chemical weapons with the Kremlin failed to discuss the future of the regime and the need to impose its departure as part of the solution based on the pledges that they had previously made. On the contrary, this deal actually revived the Al-Assad regime.
Another proof can be seen through the deal that the West is trying to arrange with the vilayet-e-Faqih rule in Tehran. Everyone knows that the involvement of Iran and its affiliated armed groups (be it in Iraq or in Lebanon) in the Syrian war is actually allowing the Al-Assad regime to remain standing. However, those brave negotiators did not consider that it was necessary for them to ask the Iranian regime to halt its interferences in the Syrian regime in order to provide a good opportunity for the political solution that the westerners are talking about and designating as the only possible solution to the Syrian crisis.
A Deal In Iran, Syria And Palestine In
George Semaan/Al Hayat
Three major Middle Eastern issues are on the discussion table both internationally and regionally: the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations, the Syrian crisis, and the Iranian nuclear file. These issues cannot be dissociated from one another, nor can they be separated from other files with which they are intersecting and interacting, and are also ablaze. This is true whether in Iraq, where the political crisis is deepening to the beat of the expansion and escalation of violence, or in Lebanon, whose institutions are about to collapse in a way threatening the state’s entire entity. In the meantime, the country is about to witness presidential elections next spring amid an obstruction affecting most of its constitutional institutions, as well as a vertical civil division between its sects and denominations that is seriously threatening the coexistence formula. This is also true in Yemen where the fire suddenly erupted in its North and South, at a time when the reconciliation conference was proceeding with great difficulty.
The noticeable common denominator among the three major files – despite the different actors in them – is the timeframe. Firstly, we have the talks between Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the Palestinian authority, which are supposed to end with an agreement over all the pending issues (the final status issues) by next April, or so was agreed by the two sides under the supervision of Washington, i.e. the main sponsor of the negotiations, prior to their resumption following a long period of severance. Secondly, there is the Geneva 2 conference, which is supposed to implement the Geneva 1 decisions and end with an agreement between the fighting parties over the formation of a transitional authority with full executive prerogatives, in order to manage the stage until the end of President Bashar al-Assad’s term next spring. The end of this term is expected to coincide with the destruction of the Syrian chemical arsenal, or most of it. And despite all the objections, conditions and counter-conditions being issued, the conference might see the light even in the absence of any hope of it achieving the desired goals, especially for the Syrian opposition.
Thirdly, there are the Geneva talks held by Iran and the P5+1 during the last couple of days. These talks are on the verge of securing a transformation or achieving real breakthrough, as the “framework agreement” between the two sides discussed concomitant measures featuring Tehran’s freezing of wide activities in the context of its nuclear program, in exchange for the alleviation of some of the banking and oil-related sanctions, especially the American ones which are the fiercest and the harshest among the ones imposed by the Security Council at earlier stages. The agreement set a six-month deadline for these joint measures, i.e. also until the spring of 2014, a period during which a comprehensive and final agreement would be secured.
Was it a coincidence that these three thorny issues were tied to one schedule? Maybe. But what is known is that American diplomacy, the main actor in all three issues, has been very active lately on the Middle Eastern front. It thus benefitted from the dynamic of the understanding with Russia to destroy the Syrian regime’s chemical arsenal, and quickly met President Hassan Rohani halfway to launch a new approach vis-à-vis the Iranian nuclear file. It had previously pushed the Palestinian and Israeli sides to resume the peace talks, without resorting to any new aggressive strategy. President Barack Obama’s first administration had tried and failed to launch talks between the authority and Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, and had addressed more than one message to the Iranian people and government during the days of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but was always warded off. It had even decided not to become involved in the Syrian crisis since its eruption two and a half years ago, thus refusing all forms of intervention or even the provision of qualitative military assistance to the opposition it supports.
President Obama thus remained loyal to the slogan of international and regional understanding and partnership in approaching the solutions, far away from wars, confrontations, and intervention. The reasons for that do not require much explaining, as America became tired of wars which depleted its economy and did not want to be the only one assigned to manage the world’s affairs, without this meaning that it has relinquished its leading and advanced position despite the weakness it suffered, as no power can constitute a real threat to its military force. What the current administration wants is to explore other areas in the Far East, and it consequently needs a period of calm or truce on the Middle Eastern front. In other words, its diplomacy might not necessarily reach its targets at the level of whichever regional issue. The Middle Eastern populations have coexisted for a long time with the Palestinian cause, but also for many years with the repercussions of the Iranian revolution and its nuclear file. In addition, the American administration was able to close the Syrian chemical file which worried its ally Israel, and was probably forced to take into account the anger of its allies among the Friends of the Syrian People, who felt it betrayed them and limited the Syrian crisis to this file alone. Therefore, it is nowadays trying to active the Geneva 2 conference, although none of the sides in it believes it will accomplish its desired goals. On the Iranian level, all it wants is to reach an understanding that would reassure the Hebrew state, but also some Arab partners, especially in the Gulf.
It would be too soon to conclude that the circumstances are ripe for a comprehensive deal on these three fronts and at the level of the files linked to them throughout the region. Had this been the case, it would have deserved the organization of an international conference next spring, to announce the arrival of spring in the entire Middle East! Quite simply, what is new in American diplomacy is that the sanctions system was able to push Iran towards a different approach in dealing with the international community. In the last few years, it was said that this regime had lost its efficiency, at least during the two terms of President Ahmadinejad whose successor addressed fierce criticisms to him and his administration, and held him responsible for the economic and international situation reached by the Islamic Republic. President Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry managed to impose their viewpoint, which called for meeting President Rohani halfway and enticing him with the lifting of some sanctions, in order to get Tehran to cooperate with the demands of the P5+1. In exchange, he had to be given something with which he could face the hardliners on the domestic arena, i.e. the alleviation of some of the sanctions, as opposed to what was called for by a number of Congressmen who wanted to tighten the siege and push the Islamic Republic against the wall to force it to surrender. But this policy will not lead to any results and might push the vast majority of Iranians who voted in favor of normalization with the United States back into the lap of the hardliners, which would enhance their position.
Those opposing rapprochement or agreement with Iran are blaming Obama’s administration for giving the Islamic Republic a break, allowing it to mend part of its economy which is on the brink of collapse and to gain time. But in reality, Tehran can stop its high-grade enrichment and cooperate with the demands of the international community during this stage, no matter how short or long it is. Indeed, it now possesses the tools and scientific knowledge to manufacture the bomb, and this alone is enough for it to resume the acquisition of its weapon as long as it can re-launch its activities whenever it wants. Hence, the nuclear file is not the issue.
What the oppositionists want, especially Israel, is to see whichever American-Iranian dialogue or agreement ending with a clear respect of the interests of the Hebrew state, just as it happened with the Syrian chemical file from which it came out as the biggest winner. This is also what is happening at the level of the talks with the Palestinians, considering that it wishes to see them recognizing the Jewish character of the state, while proceeding with the settlement activities on whatever is left of the land. What is therefore required is for the others to change their policies, strategies, and doctrines to go in line with Tel Aviv’s, and what Netanyahu’s government wants is not just the settlement of the nuclear file, but also Iran’s clear and blatant relinquishing of its entire ideology. It wants it to recognize the right of the Hebrew state to exist and stop supporting its branches in Lebanon, Palestine and elsewhere. But this cannot be done by the Islamic Republic. What would be left for it from the revolution? And what would be left for it on the Arab street? It is aware of the fact that reaching this stage of the dialogue with the United States would mean the full relinquishing of a strategy which allowed it to outbid the Arabs in embracing the Palestinian cause and groups with which it converges ideologically and denominationally, and which it uses as a card to ensure its expansion and hegemony in the region, from its far Yemeni southern end to its Syrian north and Lebanese west.
At this level, there is also another more complicated obstacle, i.e. Iran’s repositioning in the regional system on the political, economic and security levels. This process will not be easy at all, as it involves regional players, whether close Arab ones on the shores off the Gulf or distant ones on the Nile banks, who linked their national security to that of the Peninsula on more than one occasion, along with the Turks and the Israelis. Hence, it will be difficult to reconcile between the seat which the republic wishes to reserve in this system and the objections that might emerge from within an influential Arab bloc, and other wide and various international blocs that deem themselves essential partners in whichever regional structure hosting the oil fields, seas and passageways.
The United States needs to guarantee Israel’s security in the region, and needs something to ensure stability - even if temporarily - in light of the circumstances sweeping the Arab world from North Africa to Syria, Iran and Egypt, in which the situation might not remain as calm. It is seeking a period of truce, in order to neutralize Iran if it is unable to reach comprehensive understanding or a major deal with it. Therefore, it would be difficult for the region’s populations to expect quick settlements for chronic and complex issues, and all they can hope for is a period of calm to catch their breath. But what happens once the six-month stage expires in Palestine, Syria and Iran? And what will happen until then? Is this short period enough to secure transformations at the level of strategies, ideologies, interests and relationships whose building took decades?
John Kerry And The Shift In
Hazem Saghieh/Al Hayat
The U.S. Secretary of State, whoever occupies the post, is not a likeable person in the Arab world. Indeed, it is this person who implements a despicable policy and represents despicable interests over which we have become accustomed to agree, albeit in varying degrees, in expressing our hostility to them as well and vice versa.
Among the U.S. secretaries of state, there are many famous names that shine like bright stars in the skies of our hatred. There is, for example, John Foster Dulles, the secretary of state under Dwight D. Eisenhower in the fifties, whose name has been associated among us to the conflict with Nasser and the establishment of alliances which we claimed were created to besiege us and subjugate us, under the pretext of combatting communism and the Soviet Union.
There is also Henry Kissinger, the secretary of state under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford in the seventies, whose name among us is equivalent to an obscene curse. Indeed, Kissinger was Anwar Sadat’s “dear friend,” who withdrew Egypt to Camp David, and fooled Syria and its astute and intelligent President Hafez al-Assad! Some even add his Jewish faith to his long track record, to further claim that the man did nothing in his life but render services to Israel.
Today, there is newfound hatred for the current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. However, the reason for the current hatred differs from previous reasons. Now, Kerry is not being censured for being “against us” and “with Israel,” but because he is accused of being “with our regimes” and working “against our peoples.”
To corroborate these accusations, their proponents cite everything from what they see as favoritism toward Bashar al-Assad to favoritism toward the mullah’s regime in Tehran. Another proof they advance is the U.S. reluctance to conduct a military strike against the Syrian regime, in addition to U.S. talks with Iran over its nuclear weapons, and preparations for the Geneva 2 conference on Syria without matching them with pressure on the regime.
But regardless of whether these accusations against U.S. foreign policy and its implementers are valid or not, it remains that we are seeing a notable shift in the popular sensitivity of broad segments of Arabs. Without this new sensitivity being necessarily built on clear theories or being entrenched, it has placed the local tyranny in the category of enemies occupied previously by foreign enemies, and it also condemns and opposes, or sympathizes and befriends, based on this criterion.
In truth, this is reminiscent of the features of a different political culture: It is something that resembles this, for example, when criticism of the policy known as “appeasement” spread in Europe, specifically involving then-British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. As is known, this criticism took place in response to the signing of the Munich treaty, between the leaders of democratic nations in Western Europe and Germany, on the eve of the Second World War. Thus, in the name of the desire to avoid war, Hitler was allowed to seize parts of the former Czechoslovakia, and annex them to the Reich.
John Kerry’s critics today remind us of the Western critics of “appeasement” more than they remind us of the Arab critics of Foster Dulles and Kissinger. They know that compromise, in the event it happens, does not avoid the worst except inasmuch as the treaty of Munich helped avoid the Second World War, and they also know that the Syrian regime does not accept compromise except when threatened credibly by force: This happened in 1998 with Turkey when Damascus forsook Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, in 2005 with Western powers, when Syria pulled out its troops from Lebanon, and again a few weeks ago when Syria surrendered its chemical weapons.
But if the critics of John Kerry are right, then it is the United States itself that is the most prominent reason behind squandering this new sensitivity.