LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation for today/
James 04/06 But the grace that God gives is even
stronger. As the scripture says, “God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.”
Malachi /The Day of the Lord Is Coming
04/01-03/The Lord Almighty says, “The day is coming when all proud and evil people will burn like straw. On that day they will burn up, and there will be nothing left of them. But for you who obey me, my saving power will rise on you like the sun and bring healing like the sun's rays. You will be as free and happy as calves let out of a stall. On the day when I act, you will overcome the wicked, and they will be like dust under your feet.
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For November 15/13
What do Lebanese Christians Want/Lebanese Forces Web Sit/November 15/13
The rising cost of globalization/By: Abdel Monem Said/Asharq Alawsat/November 15/13
Occupation under the pretext of combating terrorism/By: Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Alawsat/November 15/13
Aleppo Battle: Bulk Complicity/By: Zuheir Kseibati/Al Hayat/November 15/13
Iran and the US Are Looking for a Way Out/Hassan Haidar/Al Hayat/November 15/13
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For November 15/13
Lebanese Related News
U.N. Chief Says Syrian War Seriously Affects Lebanon
Nasrallah: Hezbollah will stay in Syria to help Assad as long as needed
Nasrallah: Understanding between Iran, West or regional war
Nasrallah Says Hizbullah in Syria to Defend Lebanon, Rejects March 14 Conditions
Rockets from Syria Land in Bekaa Amid Helicopter Raid
Damascus Bombs, Mortar Fire Kill Three
Syrian gunships raid outskirts of Lebanon’s Arsal: source
Hariri: Nasrallah sacrificing Lebanon for Assad, Iran
Hariri Snaps Back at Nasrallah over 'Reckless' Policies, Accusations on New Cabinet
Report: Suleiman, al-Rahi to Hold Meeting Away from Media Spotlight on Friday
Lebanese Shiites March in Dahiyeh to Mark Ashoura amid Tight Security
Report: Miqati's Decision to Replace HRC Chief 'Illegal'
Judge Saqr Rejects Lifting Legal Warrant against Ali Eid, Freeing Ahmed Ali
Lebanon Central Bank to keep interest rates stable
Two of Lebanon’s most wanted arrested: police
Miscellaneous Reports And News
Report: Geneva Peace Talks on Syria Set for December
Syria says opposition delusional in demanding Assad quit
Key Republican compares Obama push to delay Iran sanctions to appeasement of Nazis before WWII
Kerry briefing on Iran was fairly anti-Israeli'
Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan slams Kerry's claim that Iran deal shouldn't be criticized before it is final
Further setback to Iran nuclear diplomacy: Khamenei’s refusal to see nuclear
Argentina-Iran deal challenged in terror probe
Egypt's Sisi sees new Russia defense cooperation
Egypt 'not replacing US with Russia as top ally'
IAF strikes underground rocket launchers in Gaza following mortar fire
Russia, Egypt want 'political' solution to Syria war
Iraq Bombers Kill 41 as Millions Mark Shiite Holiday
Aid Steams in to Philippines as Obama Launches Appeal
Sen. Mark Kirk, Key Republican compares Obama push to delay Iran sanctions to appeasement of Nazis before WWII
By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS 11/14/2013/Sen. Mark Kirk
claims White House statements are anti-Israeli. Key US
Senate Republican Mark Kirk slammed the White House's
push to delay new sanctions against Iran on Wednesday,
comparing the Obama administration's actions to Neville
Chamberlain’s “appeasement” of Nazi Germany before World
War II.Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John
Kerry and other top officials visited Capitol Hill
Wednesday to warn senators that implementing the new
measures could scuttle delicate talks between Iran and
world powers over Tehran's nuclear program. Related:
Kerry warns that new US sanctions could torpedo Iran
talksYadlin: Washington and Jerusalem should end discord
over Iran talks“I do think we ought to accelerate
sanctions,” Politico quoted Kirk, a leading Israel
supporter in the Senate as saying. “The pitch was very
unconvincing. It was fairly anti-Israeli.” Politico
quoted Kirk as saying that he’d met with Israeli
officials earlier Wednesday who said the proposed deal
with Iran would only set back its nuclear research
effort by “24 days.”
“This administration, like Neville Chamberlain, is yielding a large and bloody conflict in the Middle East involving Iranian nuclear weapons, which will now be part of our children’s future,” Kirk stated.
Additional senior US lawmakers expressed sharp frustration with the Obama administration's call to delay new sanctions against Iran on Wednesday, underscoring the difficult sales job the Democratic president has as he pursues a rapprochement with Tehran. Kerry told reporters before the closed-door briefing that "the risk is that if Congress were to unilaterally move to raise sanctions it could break faith in those negotiations and actually stop them and break them apart." But some key lawmakers said after the meeting that they had not been convinced. "It was a very unsatisfying briefing," said Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. However, Corker, also a member of the Senate Banking Committee, which oversees the sanctions measures, said he had not yet made up his mind about whether they should go ahead now.
Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, the banking committee's chairman, said he was still undecided about whether to go ahead. Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat who is chairman of the foreign relations committee and a member of the banking committee, still wants the new sanctions, a spokesman said after the briefing. President Barack Obama's administration wants a "temporary pause" on new sanctions on Iran to allow diplomats from the United States and five other world powers to negotiate with Tehran and test whether it might be possible to resolve a decade-long standoff over its nuclear program. "We have the unity of the P5+1, Germany, Great Britain, France ... and Russia, China and the United States are all agreed on this proposal that's on the table," Kerry said. "If all of a sudden sanctions were to be increased, there are members of that coalition who have put it in place who would think that we are dealing in bad faith, and they would bolt. And then the sanctions would fall apart," he said. But Obama's diplomacy with Iran has been greeted with skepticism from many quarters, including US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as among Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, adding a new element to the White House's diplomatic calculations. Negotiators failed to reach an agreement during weekend talks in Geneva. A new round of talks starts on November 20. Western nations fear that Iran's nuclear program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, while Tehran says it is purely peaceful. But Iran's refusal to halt sensitive nuclear work has drawn tough sanctions targeting the oil exports that are its lifeblood.
Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan slams Kerry's claim that Iran deal shouldn't be criticized before it is final
By JPOST.COM STAFF 11/14/2013/"What do they expect from an Israeli prime minister? Not to cry out when the knife is in the hand, but only when it is across our throat?" Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan on Thursday rejected claims by US Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel should not criticize a potential nuclear deal with Iran before it is done. Speaking at at an Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv, the Likud minister said, "I was astounded to hear John Kerry's remarks about why the Prime Minister is criticizing the agreement being formulated in Geneva without waiting for it to be signed. I have not heard such a claim for many years." Erdan continued: "This is a country that wants to destroy Israel and the conditions that will enable it to carry out its wishes. What do they expect from an Israeli prime minister? Not to cry out when the knife is in the hand, but only when it is across our throat?" Erdan said that the fact that parts of the discussions between Iran and the West that took place behind closed doors have gone public has allowed for an additional delay in a deal being finalized "and perhaps even an improvement in the terms of the agreement."Erdan reiterated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's claims that the deal allows Iran to keep the important parts of its nuclear program while giving up little. "Iranian Foreign Minister [Mohammad Javad] Zarif and his cohorts are going around Geneva and it is impossible to wipe the smiles off their faces; even they cannot really believe the ease with which they have succeeded in wrecking the sanctions regime."Erdan rejected the notion that the agreement would be a "first step" deal as it has been called. "We must not be mistaken - an interim agreement will be a permanent agreement. All those involved in the agreement must understand that the moment Iran becomes a nuclear threshold state an arms race will begin in the Middle East and regional uncertainty will increase."
Further setback to Iran nuclear
diplomacy: Khamenei’s refusal to see nuclear watchdog
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 14, 2013/The visit to Tehran Monday, Nov. 11, by Yukiya Amano, head of he Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, was intended to show him meeting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a signal that he approved of further efforts at an understanding to overcome the impasse reached last week in Geneva. This is reported by debkafile’s intelligence sources. The Iranian leader’s show of goodwill would have been used by the Obama administration to persuade Israel, France and Saudi Arabia to stop fighting the draft accord on Iran’s nuclear program that was tossed out at the Six-Power negotiations with Iran last Saturday. However, Khamenei’s brush-off for Amano put paid to that effort. The White House failed in its initial search for an European leader able to make an impression on the supreme leader and get him to sign off on diplomacy for a nuclear deal. No volunteers willing to risk a snub stepped forward. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif then promised the Americans that if the IAEA chief came to Tehran, an audience with Khamenei would be set up.But from the moment Amano set foot in Tehran Monday until he left, no one mentioned an audience. He was fobbed off with “a roadmap for cooperation,” which he signed alongside the head of Iran’s atomic energy commission Ali Akbar Salehi for a photo op. This worthless piece of paper permitted IAEA visits to the uranium mines at Garchin and the unfinished a heavy water plant in Arak, but continued to withhold permission to inspect projects suspected of clandestine work on developing a nuclear weapon – for instance, the Parchin military complex, to which the IAEA has repeatedly been denied access to check on suspicions of nuclear-related explosion tests of warhead detonators. A normally calm and collected official, Amano was so put out by the disrespect shown him by Washington and Tehran that he went on record Wednesday, Nov. 13 to remark pointedly that he had seen no changes in Iran’s nuclear activities in the three months since the election of Hassan Rouhani as president: Iran continued to enrich uranium up to the 20 percent level just as before, he stressed.
This dry comment exploded the optimistic assumption at the root of the Obama administration’s soft policy on Iran, namely that Tehran had assumed a new, moderate face, amenable as never before to talking through a deal on its nuclear program. The IAEA director lifted just a corner of the veil concealing Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities. Not only had nothing changed, but contrary to suggestions put about of a slowdown, uranium enrichment continues apace at all levels, 3.5, 5, and 20 percent grade. And not one centrifuge has been dismantled. Centrifuge production has indeed been accelerated and the machines are being quickly installed at all the enrichment plants. The new centridfuges are not yet spinning, but they are standing ready to be switched on at any moment. Construction at Arak has also been put on fast forward.
The Iranian regime therefore stands poised ready for “a freeze” on its program for the sake of eased sanctions. But whether or not an understanding is concluded through dialogue, its entire nuclear weapons production machine is ready to go on full power at a moment’s notice.
What do Lebanese Christians Want?
Lebanese Forces Web Site/Lately, I was thinking about
Bachir Gemayel famous words: “We were attacked as
Christians but fought as Lebanese”.
What came to my mind was the obvious question: “What do Lebanese Christians want in this lovely country? this country who once, under their government, was the Switzerland of the Middle East”.
Yes, we are Lebanese before being Christians; And yes, Lebanon is our country and will always be.
We can travel the entire planet but we will keep our country in our heart and mind, days and nights. We will always wait the day when this country will be once again the jewel of the Middle East.
We are Lebanese first because many Lebanese, our ancestors in particular, gave their life to keep our beloved country free; Free for us to pray, to live our heritage and our culture; Free so that all Lebanese keep living in freedom and in dignity.
However, it is important to say that those Lebanese fighters were Christians and proud of themselves.
Therefore, I ask the Lebanese Christians again: What do you want?
Is it to live in dignity and prosperity under a fair democratic system or to succumb to a syrio-iranian dictatorship?
I beg you to ask yourselves these questions:
What is destroying the Lebanese Economy?
Who is using their military power, the so-called “Black Shirts”, to impose their law?
Which side is closing the Airport roads?’
Who is denying tourists and Lebanese families abroad from visiting Lebanon?
Who is terrorizing foreign artists and performers from coming to Lebanon?
Who is keeping the ‘Baalbek Festival’ from being held in Baalbek?
Who is defending dictatorships, those same dictators who terrorized our countrymen?
Remember the destruction of Achrafieh and Zahlé; who assassinated Bachir Gemayel, Dori Chamoun, Gebran Tueini, and Pierre Gemayel; Remember!
The answer to Bachir, Dany and Pierre, to all of our martyrs is very clear: The killer is the same since 1975.
Time for judgment is near and you will be the judge.
U.N. Chief Says Syrian War Seriously Affects Lebanon
Naharnet Newsdesk 14 November 2013/Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned Wednesday that the conflict in Syria is having a serious impact on neighboring Lebanon, citing increased cross-border violence and broader threats to stability and security. Ban said the spillover of the 2 1/2-year Syrian conflict has caused more than 800,000 Syrians to flee to Lebanon, straining the country's finances and increasing social pressures. In a report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Wednesday, he condemned the shelling, shooting and aerial incursions into Lebanon and called on all parties to respect the border. He said the shelling had injured one Lebanese citizen and caused "material damage." The Lebanese Armed Forces also reported "continued smuggling of weapons across the Lebanese-Syrian border," Ban said. The U.N. chief reiterated his call on Hizbullah to stop fighting in Syria, where they are supporting President Bashar Assad's military. "The continued involvement of Lebanese citizens in the conflict in Syria is of deep concern, including Hizbullah's acknowledged and high profile role in the fighting there," Ban said. The secretary-general said the Syrian conflict was a contributing factor for two terrorist attacks in the southern suburbs of Beirut in July and August and simultaneous car bombings in Tripoli later in August. The deepening unrest in Lebanon is a troubling sign for a country that has gone through its own 15-year civil war and has an explosive sectarian mix as well as deep divisions between pro- and anti-Syria factions, many of them armed. In May, Lebanon's parliament extended its mandate by a year and a half by skipping scheduled elections largely because of the instability in the country. Politicians also have been unable to form a new government since outgoing premier Najib Miqati resigned in March. Ban urged all parties to engage with Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam to form a new government to address the crises impact on Lebanon.
He also appealed to U.N. members to step up contributions to an appeal for over $1.6 billion to address refugee needs in Lebanon through the end of 2013. The appeal is only 44 percent funded.
Syria Land in Bekaa Amid Helicopter Raid
Naharnet Newsdesk 14 November 2013/At least six rockets launched from the Syrian side of the border landed on Thursday on the outskirts of the town of Sarin in the eastern Bekaa Valley as President Michel Suleiman urged the army to retaliate against border assaults, the state-run National News Agency reported. NNA said the attack did not cause any casualties after the rockets hit uninhabited areas. But Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5) said several houses were damaged in the nearby town of Nabi Sheet where three rockets landed. After the attack, Syrian warplanes raided the northeastern town of Arsal, NNA said. They launched four rockets on the town's al-Smaili neighborhood, it added. The planes carried out a second raid in Kherbet Younin in Arsal's outskirts, NNA said. Arsal, which lies 12 kilometers from the border with Syria, has been used as a conduit for weapons and rebels to enter Syria, while also serving as a refuge for people fleeing the conflict. Suleiman later held talks with Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji to discuss the raids, demanding that the army retaliate to them. He stressed “the need to take the necessary measures to protect the people and Lebanese towns against assaults.”
Damascus Bombs, Mortar Fire Kill Three
Naharnet Newsdesk 14 November 2013/Twin bombings and mortar fire killed three people and wounded 22 near the Syrian capital's famed Ummayad mosque on Thursday, state news agency SANA reported. "Three people were killed and 22 wounded in terrorist attacks with mortar rounds and the explosion of two bombs," SANA said, citing police officials. The attacks took place on Mardam Bek Street and in the Kalassa district, near the outskirts of the historic mosque and the bustling Hamidiyeh market. Rebels in neighborhoods on the outskirts of Damascus have regularly fired rockets and mortar rounds into the center of the city. In recent weeks, the attacks have caused increasing numbers of casualties, with four children and a man killed on Monday when a shell hit a school bus in the Bab Sharqi neighborhood. Source/Agence France Presse.
Nasrallah Says Hizbullah in Syria to Defend Lebanon, Rejects March 14 Conditions
Naharnet Newsdesk 14 November 2013/Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah made on Thursday a public appearance for the second day in a row, describing the conditions set by the March 14 alliance as “crippling” and saying his party was fighting in Syria in defense of Lebanon. The conditions imposed by the March 14 alliance for the formation of the new government are “crippling,” Nasrallah said. Hizbullah fighters are in the neighboring country “to defend Lebanon, Palestine and Syria,” he said at a massive Ashura ceremony held in the Rweiss neighborhood of Beirut's southern suburbs. His public appearance came a day after he made a similar speech, urging followers to participate in the Ashura despite "security threats. Nasrallah normally appears via video link for fear of assassination by Israel. Thursday's ceremony came amid tight security, including a ban on vehicles in the area, following huge bombings last summer that killed and wounded hundreds of people. Describing Syria as the protector of the resistance, Nasrallah said: “As long as the reasons stand, our presence in Syria remains.”
“Those talking about Hizbullah's pullout from Syria as a condition for the formation of a cabinet are imposing a crippling condition,” said Nasrallah, standing on the podium and surrounded by bodyguards.
“When there are strategic dangers that are threatening the people and the governments of the region ... there couldn't be a condition for partnership in the cabinet,” he said. "We won't negotiate on the existence of Syria (in exchange for) a handful of ministries." Nasrallah urged March 14 to be more pragmatic and put its conditions aside. “We don't need your cover for our presence in Syria neither today nor in the future,” he said, a day after al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri said the alliance will not be under any circumstance a partner in a political process that gives Hizbullah a cover to its participation in the Syrian war.
In his speech, Nasrallah stressed that the disarmament of resistance groups come only after the abolition of the enemy. “The enemy facing Lebanon is still there. It is threatening us and spying on us … It is also preparing for war,” he told his supporters in reference to Israel. “As long as the enemy threatens us, the resistance will remain to confront this threat,” he said in a challenge to the March 14 alliance which has repeatedly called for the party's disarmament. “No one whatever the circumstances should give up on the cause of Palestine,” he said. He urged all Muslims to stand by the Palestinian people and extend a helping hand.
Nasrallah called for dialogue, wisdom and political solutions in the Arab countries. The Hizbullah leader turned to the threat posed by Takfiri groups, saying they target both Muslims and Christians. “The collaboration of everyone can abolish them,” he said.
Hariri Snaps Back at Nasrallah over 'Reckless' Policies, Accusations on New Cabinet
Naharnet Newsdesk 14 November 2013/Al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri slammed Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday, saying the March 14 alliance will not give his party any legitimacy to its “reckless” policies and will not become a partner with the party in a government that covers its role in Syria. “We won't give Hizbullah any form of national legitimacy to reckless policies” that shove Lebanon in the region's turmoil, Hariri said in a statement in response to a speech made by Nasrallah earlier. “Hizbullah won't be able from now on to impose on the Lebanese the conditions of participation in political life,” he said. He said “Hizbullah has chosen to sacrifice the sovereignty and national unity of Lebanon” in the service of the Assad regime and in response to a decision by the Iranian leadership. Hariri lamented that Ashura had become “an occasion to support an unjust regime against the oppressed people.” Earlier, Nasrallah said in a speech marking Ashura that he would keep his fighters in Syria as long as needed to shore up Syrian President Bashar Assad's struggle against rebels seeking to topple him. "We won't negotiate on the existence of Syria (in exchange for) a handful of ministries," Nasrallah said. Hariri had issued a statement late Wednesday after a similar speech made by Nasrallah. “We reiterate that we reject to become partners with Hizbullah in a cabinet that covers up its participation in the fighting against the Syrian people,” said Hariri. He accused Hizbullah of turning its back at the national consensus reached through the adoption of the Baabda Declaration last year. Rival leaders from the March 8 and 14 alliances have agreed to distance Lebanon from the region's crisis. But Hizbullah has sent its fighters to Syria to assist troops loyal to President Bashar Assad against the rebels seeking to topple him. Hariri said however that the March 14 alliance “will not be under any circumstance a partner in any political process that gives Hizbullah a cover to its participation in the Syrian war and its violation of the state's sovereignty.” Nasrallah said in a speech on Wednesday that a cabinet lineup in which the March 8 and 14 alliances would get 9 ministers each and centrists 6 ministers was the only possible formula. He also accused Saudi Arabia of asking March 14 to block the formation of a government with a Hizbullah representation. Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam has so far been unable to form his cabinet over conditions and counter conditions set by the rivals. But Hariri slammed Nasrallah, saying in his statement that the Hizbullah secretary-general “is either held captive by a circle of illusions and unfounded information or … he seeks to blind Lebanese public opinion.”
Report: Suleiman, al-Rahi to Hold
Meeting Away from Media Spotlight on Friday
Naharnet Newsdesk 14 November 2013/A meeting will be held on Friday between President Michel Suleiman and Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkirki on the sidelines of issuing the memorial book on the official visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Lebanon. According to al-Joumhouria newspaper published on Thursday the behind-closed doors meeting will address Suleiman's recent visit to Saudi Arabia and the new cabinet formation standstill.
The president returned on Tuesday from Saudi Arabia, where a day earlier he held talks with King Abdullah during a meeting attended by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, top Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Salman and the Saudi ministers of foreign affairs, interior and information. The daily reported that al-Rahi will also brief Suleiman on his latest visit to the Rome and the Vatican's stance from the crises in Lebanon.
Al-Rahi traveled to the Vatican in October for a one-week visit after wrapping up his pastoral trip to the United Stated. A source in Bkirki told al-Joumhouria newspaper that al-Rahi rejects extending the term of President Suleiman, who in his turn continuously ruled out any possibility for extending his presidential tenure. The tenure of Suleiman ends in May 2014. “The matter will be discussed during al-Rahi and Suleiman's meeting on Friday,” the source said. Talks over the presidential elections come amid soaring political tensions and the failure to form a new government. Under article 49 of the Lebanese Constitution, the president shall be elected by secret ballot and by a two thirds majority of the 128-seat parliament.
Lebanese Shiites March in Dahiyeh to Mark Ashoura amid Tight Security
Naharnet Newsdesk 14 November 2013/Tens of thousands of Lebanese Shiites are marching in a Hizbullah stronghold in southern Beirut to mark one of their sect's most important religious occasions, the Ashoura.
Thursday's massive ceremony is being held amid tight security, including a ban on vehicles in the area, following huge bombings last summer that killed and wounded dozens of people. The Shiites are observing the Ashoura, the annual commemoration of the 7th-century death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad's grandson. Hizbullah's leader sayyed Hassan Nasrallah made rare public appearances on Wednesday in southern Beirut, urging followers to participate in the Ashoura despite what he described as "security threats." He also appeared in public on Thursday to commemorate Ashoura. Source/Agence France Presse
Report: Miqati's Decision to Replace
HRC Chief 'Illegal'
Naharnet Newsdesk 14 November 2013/Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati's decision to task Higher Defense Council chief General Mohammed Kheir to temporarily head the Higher Relief Council is “illegal,” al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Thursday. According to the report, Kheir is an officer at the Lebanese army and tasking him with any duties needs the approval of the Army Commander, General Jean Qahwaji, and at times the Defense Minister. Kheir and Mohammed al-Deen Dandachli, Miqati's financial adviser, were delegated to take unanimous decisions regarding the accounts of the HRC. Miqati's decision had sparked the anger of HRC Chief Ibrahim Bashir, who was given an administrative leave. On Wednesday, Financial General Prosecutor Judge Ali Ibrahim charged Bashir and his wife with embezzlement of public funds, money laundering and smuggling of money. They were referred to Beirut's First Investigative Judge Ghassan Oueidat and are facing 15 years in prison if convicted. The owner of Vaocau company, Hussein Fawaz, and his wife were also charged with the two suspects. On Monday, Acting General Prosecutor Judge Samir Hammoud ordered the arrest of Bashir and his wife for their alleged embezzlement of $10 million from public funds pending investigation, after probing the case that was referred by a special committee at the Banque du Liban. Bashir and his wife gave their testimonies on Monday afternoon and were referred to Judge Ibrahim. Bashir had denied the charges, accusing the Miqati and the cabinet's secretary-general Suhail Bouji of trying to “eliminate him.”Investigations come in light of Miqati's warning on Saturday that “haphazard accusations” by Bashir are punishable by law, revealing that he will take all the necessary “legal and judicial measures and procedures towards (Bashir's) irresponsible defamation.”
Opinion: The rising cost of globalization
By: Abdel Monem Said/Asharq Alawsat
In the Hollywood movie Enemy of the State, Will Smith plays a simple citizen who has to confront the technological capabilities of the state.
Satellites can locate your position at all times while your mobile phone’s signal can also be picked up at all times and used to locate you. Your credit cards not only shed light on where you live but also provide information regarding how much you spend and on what, whether we are talking about huge financial deals or simply buying some underwear. When this movie was first released, it was not yet known that the state could possess information on your DNA and iris. Using fingerprints to identify people has become old-fashioned. What’s completely new is tracking human bodies by detecting their thermal energy.
Biometric identification technology can tell us a lot about a person’s emotional state. For example, sweating or pupil dilation can be measured to reveal nervousness or fear. In a book published in 1651, Thomas Hobbes described those governments with absolute power as the eponymous Leviathan. Hobbes affirmed that absolute power must be capable of managing relations among humans who are evil. During his era, the government’s only tools of power were arms, predominately the sword. This is not to mention spies, as well as various tools such as murder, torture and intimidation—more than enough to keep people in line. However Hobbes did not know what lay in store, thanks to science and knowledge, not just for the state, but the entire world.
Technology may have developed more over the past two decades than it did throughout history. Technology is something that affects the entire world, not just governments. Years ago, we learnt that the US was working to build the largest network of satellites the world has ever known. A network is completely different to relying on a single satellite. This network is different due to how technologically advanced and progressive it is, in addition to how many countries and people it covers. The International Space Station in orbit around the earth is an additional tool, while 16 countries are participating in this as partners. But the point is not to be a participant. The point is: What’s your share of the partnership? The US, of course, has the greatest share.
Those who believe that the US is just a country that exists in North America do not know much about changes in the world of geography as the US has extended its reach to outer space. America’s scope of operation and vision has expanded and extended to include the entire known universe. Where there is vision and capability, there’s also influence and power.
What we’ve recently heard and read about the US surveillance scandal—spying on its allies—does not reflect the real truth, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The problem is that it’s not possible to estimate just how huge this iceberg really is because the tools needed to carry out these calculations are only possessed by the US and Russia.
Hobbes’ theory regarding the social contract, sealed between the individual who presents his loyalty and obedience, and the authority which provides protection, has completely changed. This is because the individual is now on one side while the authority is operating on the global level. This authority knows no limits and its capabilities cannot be estimated.
Political ideology as a whole is now confronting the biggest problem in history. What Rousseau, Locke, and Montesquieu, and indeed all liberal and democratic thinkers, contemplated was how one can limit the authority’s capability of tyranny. Elections, devolution of power, legislative councils, public and private freedoms, and major and minor institutions. All of the above aimed to grant the individual the largest extent of responsible freedom in exchange for authority. Even if this authority does monopolize the use of force, it does not monopolize truth, fortune, or even decision-making.
All of this must have a context. The context in this case is the state which has limits, regulations, laws and checks and balances. So, what about when the authority lies in Washington but the bounds of its authority goes beyond its own borders and citizens? The individual is no longer submissive to the authority of the country he lives in, but he’s become submissive to another distant authority that is spying on him and monitoring his activity—an authority that can know his health condition, and, who knows, his psychological and sexual conditions as well.
Notice people’s movement at airports. Notice the amount of information accumulated about the person the minute he arrives in an airport. Notice how this information is stored and how viewing it is a click of a button away. This is an equally moral, political, and economic dilemma. No one knows how the US will exploit the technological capabilities it possesses.
Washington did not see a problem in spying on its allies. For those who don’t know, relations among allies also include the use of power. The more powerful party is the one who benefits the most from this relationship. But the era of globalization is not only linked to diplomatic relations. Spying can also be carried out against companies. Secrets of giant multinational companies are often no less important than countries’ military secrets. We are living in a time when countries are technologically competing against one another. Another dangerous precedent is for spying to reveal economic decisions. The decision to sell or buy a stock could lead to the transfer of huge fortunes.
Therefore, the cost of globalization is higher than we think. Spying on leaders of countries is only a small fact. There are bigger facts which humanity must address. We managed to avoid George Orwell’s dystopian society and government, as depicted in his books 1984 and Animal Farm, through democracy and liberal philosophy. But how can individuals and societies which did not participate in electing an American government and which do not have stocks in Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, or Twitter find themselves subject to such procedures? I think this is the dilemma of the 21st century.
*Abdel Monem Said is the director of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo.
Occupation under the pretext of
By: Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Alawsat
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif did well to reveal Tehran’s regional strategy, particularly that over the past two years all the talk about it has been confined to Iran’s allies and subordinates in the Middle East. Zarif, talking openly to the BBC in the heart of the West, said: “I think all of us, regardless of our differences over Syria, need to work together on the sectarian issue,” adding, “Fear-mongering has been a prevalent business.” The Iranian foreign minister affirmed that “nobody should try to fan the flames of sectarian violence. We should rein it in, bring it to a close, try to avoid a conflict that would be detrimental to everybody’s security.” Zarif, according to the BBC, also accused Arab leaders of “fanning the flames of sectarian violence.”This kind of discourse reproduces Bashar Al-Assad’s logic and justification for the destruction of Syria and the killing of more than 160,000 people. It also endorses the claims made by the Syrian representative to the UN, Bashar Al-Jaafari, who earlier this year said that the Damascus regime was “fighting the Takfirists on behalf of the rest of the world.” We can add to this the public stances taken by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah who it seems has recently “discovered” that the Takfirists represented much greater threat than the Israeli occupation. It was this discovery that prompted Hezbollah to suspend its “resistance” against Israel and devote itself to fighting Takfirism. Last but not least, let us take a look at the official position taken by Nouri Al-Maliki’s government in Iraq, which follows precisely the same approach as Zarif’s—and Maliki himself expressed this during his recent visit to Washington.
We are, therefore, standing before an orchestra that is being conducted by the maestro in Tehran. That maestro is cunningly exploiting the deep wounds in the West’s political psyche following the 9/11 attacks on the US and its repercussions of this in Europe. Here, the message is clear: We are the “moderates” and they are the “extremists,” so make your choice!
The very same message goes on to say, ‘Accept us as we are, with our religious–military system, our arbitrary judiciary, our vengeful approach to domestic opposition, and our nuclear project which we deceived you with over the past 18 years. Accept us on all of these points, because, first, we were only defending ourselves against Takfirism and terrorism, and, second, because we were also defending you and your interests.’
In return, we must acknowledge the existence of everything that serves this strategy, without the need to return to discuss Iran’s and Syria’s active and on-going role in supporting these same Takfirist and jihadist groups. The feeling of frustration across the Arab and Islamic worlds has, along with other factors, helped create deep resentment that has led to a stronger presence of exclusionist and extremist religious ideas.
We have witnessed a disastrous situation emerge in Syria, with some extremist groups reversing many of the revolution’s gains on the ground. They are fighting against the Free Syrian Army harder than they fought against the regime they portrayed as being infidel whose supporters they said deserved to die. The damage caused by these groups has not been limited to the field; they have also caused great political harm. The heinous acts committed by these extremist groups against innocent people and places of worship, as well as against cultural monuments in liberated areas, led many disgruntled members of the regime—both civilian and military—to question the wisdom of defecting. This, of course, has only served to extend the life of the Assad regime, and has even provided it with some justification for its crimes.
Outside Syria, the practices of these groups have served as a suitable “fig leaf,” disguising the dismal failure of the international community to support the oppressed and punish the oppressor in Syria. Even when the regime committed the crime of using chemical weapons in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, many came out to cast doubt about just who was responsible. This allowed an already lukewarm international community to exploit the confusion surrounding that attack to treat the entire Syrian crisis a “chemical weapons” issue.
The Syrian regime was once described by leading opposition figure George Sabra as “occupying, not ruling, Syria,” and its occupation is currently being bolstered by Iraqi and Lebanese regional militias being commanded from Tehran. The Iraqi people recall well who was behind the appointment of Nouri Al-Maliki as prime minister, and whose support has allowed him to stay in power in the face of opposition and, consequently, who actually rules Iraq. As for Lebanon, it is the third of three entities that are effectively being occupied by Iran—in Lebanon’s case, through Hezbollah. The Lebanese people still remember that the state’s military and security forces destroyed the “Salafi” Sunni militia led by local sheikh Ahmad Al-Assir in the city of Sidon in just 48 hours. However, these same forces are now unable to confront another non-Sunni local militia in Tripoli, although the chieftain of that militia issued death threats against the staff of a state security agency in a TV appearance, and then took a swipe at Lebanon’s president, speaker and prime minister. Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are now effectively “occupied” by Iran under its pretext of “fighting Takfirist terrorism.” This pretext is now being peddled at the highest levels to the international community, couched in Zarif’s diplomacy, Rouhani’s alleged moderation, and an “expressed” Iranian readiness to reach an agreement on the nuclear issue. In the meantime, the Syrian opposition is facing immense international pressure to participate in Geneva II without preconditions, and so it seems that Zarif has made the breakthrough he was striving to achieve. True, this breakthrough is not complete yet. It is also true, however, that separating Iran’s nuclear issue from its regional expansionist policies is equally problematic as the international community’s shameful silence on the Assad regime’s crimes in return for Damascus giving up its chemical weapons.
Tehran has imposed its own agenda on the issue from the start. It continues to stress the “peaceful nature” of its nuclear program while complaining about being a victim of “double standards,” an allusion to Israel’s and Pakistan’s nuclear weapon capabilities. Furthermore, it has engaged the international community in endless bargaining over levels of enrichment it is allowed and the number of centrifuges it can operate, while sending contradictory messages about the mechanisms of negotiations. And, thus, we reached the position we’re in today. Realistically, we are now facing an Iran that surely possesses nuclear technology. International experts say that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon within a matter of months. Therefore, the international community must openly discuss the “political approach” towards a state which is now–whether we like it or not—a “nuclear state.”
For Iran, politically, there is one certainty. It requires an acknowledgement of its “regional superpower” status, when the price of Tehran’s regional ambitions will no doubt be paid by others. Thus, Iran’s neighbors have every right to be concerned about any international deal agreed with Iran that does not include curbing its regional political ambitions. These ambitions, in at least three cases, have reached the extent of effective occupation.
**Eyad Abu Shakra is the managing editor of Asharq Al-Awsat. He has been with the newspaper since 1978.
Aleppo Battle: Bulk Complicity
Zuheir Kseibati/Al Hayat
Is Russia America’s “proxy” in the management of the Syrian war and file or is Washington Kremlin’s “agent” in covering up its project for a new Middle East?
This is a paradox for some of those who do not favor the Syrian regime and have started perceiving the opposition and the National Coalition with pity. To the latter, the picture is no longer ambiguous: the Kurds who did not fight the regular army have found themselves caught between the authority and the Jihadists, thus resisting them and coming up with the civil administration solution. Their situation quickly changed in Northern Syria and the northeast regions, at a time when the Free Army, which is caught between the jaws of the regime and An-Nusra Front, is retreating.
The transitional government announced by the Coalition from Istanbul has quickly been caught between An-Nusra and its likes, the regime and the Kurds with their civil administration. This administration will erode the transitional government’s authority, while the Syrian army is gradually undermining the victories of the Free Army. In the meantime, despair is prevailing over the sympathizers with its factions, because Damascus is preparing to settle the Aleppo battle prior to the Geneva 2 conference – if it is held – to allow the regime to head to Geneva victorious and seek interlocutors under its own conditions.
Where is America at the level of all the opposition’s setbacks? Was it convinced by Moscow that the military exposure and defeat of President Bashar al-Assad’s opponents will push them to practice realism and accept the best possible option, i.e. the extension of the regime’s stay with a few improvements? The best example for that is the appointment of figures from outside the Baath party as ministers in the context of the game to polish its image, although their loyalty in the face of the “terrorists” is recognized.
In reality, the proclamation of the transitional government from Istanbul, which should have been considered an accomplishment in favor of the revolution had it emerged one or two years ago, saw its momentum stolen by the Kurdish civil administration and the dubious American silence. Was Washington not the one that repeatedly encouraged the Coalition to form its own executive body, in order to organize the mechanism supporting the changing of the regime and spare Syria from the repercussions of vacuum if the state institutions were to collapse? This odd silence was said to convey reservations or reluctance, under the pretext that the Geneva 2 conference might be threatened or even annulled because of Ahmad Tomeh’s transitional government. It is as though the Americans truly believe that the regime will negotiate with those seeking its death and as though the Russian is convinced of its ability to tailor an opposition that suits Al-Assad.
Kremlin was certainly able to win hearts with a campaign of terrorization from the liver-eaters among the brothers of Al-Qaeda and its offshoots, ones who did not disappoint President Vladimir Putin as they are proceeding with their decapitations, even if the heads belong to the regime’s oppositionists.
Whether or not Geneva 2 will be held at the beginning of 2014 is no longer the question. Indeed, the major setback which might topple the Free Army is the Aleppo battle, its possible inability to fight back, and the fall of all its positions there in the hands of the Syrian army. As for the pretext related to the presence of fighters from Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guard in the fierce confrontations with those dubbed by the regime and its allies as terrorists, it is no longer useful in changing the facts or the doubts surrounding Washington’s abandoning of the armed oppositionists between the jaws of the regime and the Jihadists.
Is it not odd that the regime troops and allies regained - one by one - areas that were under the opposition’s control, in parallel to the Americans’ disregarding of the transformation affecting the balance of power on the ground, as opposed to what they used to reiterate in public to justify their reluctance to undertake any action aiming to end the massacres on Syrian soil?
If the utmost wish of President Barack Obama’s administration for now is to lead the oppositionists who are part of the Coalition to Geneva, will it try to reach an agreement with the regime over the selection of figures from this Coalition who are qualified to negotiate? Or will the march onto Aleppo suspend the conference for an additional period of time, which might not be long if the Damascus-Moscow-Tehran alliance is able to oust the opposition from Aleppo and its countryside? And if this is achieved, will there be any need to stage the conference?
Seeing American Ambassador Robert Ford giving the Coalition the choice between the Geneva train or leaving the oppositionists to their fate between the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and Al-Assad’s regime was not without meaning. Obama’s need to activate this train appears to be tactical in order to improve his image at the level of foreign policy, at a time when the fighting of terrorism after the destruction of the chemical weapons supersedes all the human calamities that are witnessed in Syria and have become regular news which does not affect the West.
Between the proxy and the agent in the new Arab land of catastrophes, there is mobilization, tragedies, bulk complicity and another dying country.
Iran and the US Are Looking for a Way
Hassan Haidar/Al Hayat
After the failure of the first round, the difficult negotiations will be resumed next week between the five major powers plus Germany (P5+1) and a “moderate” Iran, to reach a balanced agreement, perhaps within months if intentions are sincere, that would allow for putting a stop to uranium enrichment and placing the Iranian nuclear program under complete international supervision, in exchange for gradually lifting sanctions. That is if the Americans do not commit another blunder by pressuring their allies, and especially France, to accept a formula that would give Tehran much more than it would take from it, in their rush to achieve rapprochement that would open the door to parallel agreements, among them safe withdrawal from Afghanistan, after they had leapt over those allies and neglected them during their negotiations with the Russians of the agreement to dismantle Syria’s chemical arsenal.
And despite the effectiveness of France’s “breaks” to America’s hurried policy in the previous round, both Washington and Tehran have a strong desire to reach a “Grand Settlement” that would exceed the nuclear issue to other areas of overlapping influence.
In reality, such a desire clashes with domestic difficulties both of them face. This is especially true in the United States, where numerous members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, have been voicing their opposition to a hurried deal with Iran that would not ensure putting a stop to its nuclear program, and calling for strengthening sanctions in order to force Tehran to submit to the will of the international community. The White House has resorted to frightening Americans against “another war” the sanctions could drag them into, but this has has not succeeded to soften the stance taken by those who oppose it.
Meanwhile in Iran, the new government is finding it difficult to back down on uranium enrichment, an issue which Supreme Leader of the Republic Ali Khamenei has designated as a red line that cannot be crossed, raised as a slogan tantamount to the country’s independence and sovereignty, to which successive governments were bound. Indeed, relinquishing the “right” to enrich uranium might leave the impression that Tehran could back down on other essential issues as well, among them in particular the issue of Syria, thereby increasing pressures on it in every issue, while it would prefer to negotiate over them all at once, in such a way as to compensate in one what it might lose in another. This is an option the Americans seem inclined to opt for because it is convenient for them as well, while the Europeans stress the principle of keeping the different issues separate.
And although these obstacles faced by the Americans and the Iranians reduce the margin of negotiations and embarrass both sides, they might also drive them, along with other reasons, to achieve what the Americans consider to represent a “historical breakthrough” that could save them both, despite the fact that it would mean violating the conditions and red lines they had always stressed, and letting down the allies they continue to reassure.
Obama’s popularity has dropped to its lowest point, with 54 percent of Americans now considering the President, whose administration and healthcare program are meeting with difficulties, to be “dishonest and untrustworthy”. The Iranians, for their part, are making sure to deny that the tough sanctions might be behind their decision to resume negotiations with the West, without providing any other clear reasons apart from speaking of “an opportunity that must be seized”. Meanwhile, reports assert that their economic and financial capabilities have reached “rock bottom”, and now not only pose a threat to their influence abroad, but also threaten with broad domestic social unrest, which the new government claims to only be due to the mistaken policies that had been adopted during Ahmadinejad’s two successive terms in office. Perhaps the reports now being published about Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s “real estate and financial empire” make it clear that the economic influence with which Khamenei has compensated for his reduced religious authority, when compared to that of his predecessor Khomeini, could be threatened as well.