LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation for today/The
Enemy of Christ
01 John 02/18-28: "My children, the end is near! You were told that the Enemy of Christ would come; and now many enemies of Christ have already appeared, and so we know that the end is near. These people really did not belong to our fellowship, and that is why they left us; if they had belonged to our fellowship, they would have stayed with us. But they left so that it might be clear that none of them really belonged to us. But you have had the Holy Spirit poured out on you by Christ, and so all of you know the truth. I write you, then, not because you do not know the truth; instead, it is because you do know it, and you also know that no lie ever comes from the truth. Who, then, is the liar? It is those who say that Jesus is not the Messiah. Such people are the Enemy of Christ—they reject both the Father and the Son. For those who reject the Son reject also the Father; those who accept the Son have the Father also. Be sure, then, to keep in your hearts the message you heard from the beginning. If you keep that message, then you will always live in union with the Son and the Father. And this is what Christ himself promised to give us—eternal life. I am writing this to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But as for you, Christ has poured out his Spirit on you. As long as his Spirit remains in you, you do not need anyone to teach you. For his Spirit teaches you about everything, and what he teaches is true, not false. Obey the Spirit's teaching, then, and remain in union with Christ. Yes, my children, remain in union with him, so that when he appears we may be full of courage and need not hide in shame from him on the Day he comes. 29 You know that Christ is righteous; you should know, then, that everyone who does what is right is God's child.
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For November 16/13
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For November 16/13
Lebanese Related News
Al-Rahi Praises Suleiman's Rejection of Mandate Extension
Miqati: Safeguarding Lebanon a National Interest, Necessity to Arab World
Washington 'Strongly Condemns' Rocket Attacks on Bekaa
Report: March 14 Coalition to Hold National Conference in Tripoli to Address Security Chaos
Report: Hizbullah Warns Sunni Allies in Tripoli from New Wave of Assassinations
Candice Swanepoel Wears 10m Bra by Lebanon's Mouawad at Victoria's Secret Show
Suriname Probes Leader's Son over U.S. Hizbullah Charges
U.S. Official Calls for Uprooting Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing from Lebanese System
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Youhanna X Yazig Hopes for Deal Among Politicians to Form All-Embracing Cabinet
Arab-Country Bound Captagon Pills Seized at Airport
Mansour to Encourage Kuwaitis to Visit Lebanon, Have Confidence in Security Situation
Saniora Blames Arms for Lebanon's Slow Political Process
Hizbullah Official: Party's Interference in Syria Prevented Regime's Collapse
Nasrallah Says Hizbullah in Syria to Defend Lebanon, Rejects March 14 Conditions
Rockets from Syria Land in Bekaa Amid Helicopter Raid
Miscellaneous Reports And News
Diplomat: 'Quite possible' Iran deal reached next week
Poll: Majority of Israelis Oppose Iran Nuclear Deal
Iran: World must recognize our 'nuclear rights'
Israeli PM 'unimpressed' by IAEA report on Iran
Iran halts nuclear capacity expansion under Rouhani, IAEA report shows
Obama: Military strike could lead Iran to 'pursue nukes more vigorously'
Peres warns against feud with US over Iran diplomacy
Power: We have to test the Iranian regime before signing permanent nuclear deal
Behind the IAEA report: Iran halted uranium enrichment for maintenance purposes
Senator Cruz tells 'Post': Obama is degrading the US-Israel relationship
14 days in post-Ahmadinejad Iran
Watchdog Meets on Syria Chemical Arsenal Destruction Plan
Turkey Warns against Syrian Kurd Autonomy
North Korea denies aiding Syrian regime
Syria Air Strike Hits Islamist Brigade Leadership
Albania Rules Out Destroying Syria Chemical Arms on Its Soil
Jihadists Say Syria Rebel Beheaded in Error
One Killed in Clashes as Thousands Protest in Egypt
U.N. Warning over Syria Refugees Refused
Diplomat: 'Quite possible' Iran deal
reached next week
Reuters Published: 11.15.13, 19:17 /ynetnews
Talking to reporters, senior US official says major power, Iran close to first-stage deal on nuclear progam. 'Still tough issues to negotiate,' he says, adds diplomats will meet on Nov 21-22 Major powers and Iran are getting close to a first-stage agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program and it is "quite possible" a deal could be reached when they meet Nov. 21-22 in Geneva, a senior US official told reporters.
"I don't know if we will reach an agreement. I think it is quite possible that we can, but there are still tough issues to negotiate," said the official.According to him, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif were to meet on Nov. 20 in Geneva and a wider group - including Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - would meet Iranian officials there on the following two days.
Earlier on Friday, Zarif said he is hopeful ahead of next week's negotiations with world powers and reiterated Tehran's demand for recognition of what it calls its "nuclear rights." There is no chance for the upcoming round of talks to succeed if the West ignores Iran's demand for formal recognition of its right to enrich uranium, Zarif said in comments carried by the semi-official Fars news agency. Zarif's statements were made against the background of a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency according to which Iran has frozen its uranium enriching activities. The IAEA said that, in the past three months, only four new centrifuges had been installed at Iran's Natanz plant, compared with 1,861 in the previous period. Meanwhile US President Barack Obama sought to reassure skeptical US lawmakers on Thursday that any easing of sanctions on Iran that emerges from negotiations could easily be reversed and "ramped back up" if Tehran fails to curb its nuclear program. "If we're serious about pursuing diplomacy, then there's no need for us to add new sanctions on top of the sanctions that are already very effective, and that brought them (the Iranians) to the table in the first place," Obama told a White House news conference. "Now, if it turns out they can't deliver, they can't come to the table in a serious way and get this issue resolved, the sanctions can be ramped back up," he said.
Poll: Majority of Israelis Oppose Iran
Naharnet Newsdesk 15 November 2013/Nearly two thirds of Israeli Jews oppose a deal being reached between world powers and Iran on Tehran's controversial nuclear program, the results of a survey published on Friday said. When asked "Should Israel support or oppose the nuclear agreement being discussed with Iran?" 65.5 percent said they were against it, and 16.2 percent expressed backing for an accord. The remainder of those asked in the poll conducted by the daily Israel Hayom were undecided. The question was put to 500 people estimated to be a representative sample of the country's Jewish population, and the survey had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.
No Israeli Arabs -- who make up 20 percent of the population -- were among the 500. Israel and world powers suspect the Islamic republic's program of uranium enrichment to be a covert drive to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, an allegation vehemently denied. The survey also showed 52.4 percent supported an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities in the event of a "bad deal" and if Tehran pursued its nuclear ambitions.
But 26.8 percent said they would oppose such an attack. A strong majority of 68.8 percent said they believed the Israeli military was capable of going it alone in a strike on Iran, however. Israel is widely thought to be the Middle East's sole -- albeit undeclared -- nuclear power. It has clashed publicly with the United States on the draft deal being negotiated between Iran and the so-called P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the U.S. and Germany. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants international sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program to be tightened even further. But U.S. President Barack Obama favors the option of talks along with a gradual easing of sanctions. Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, sent by Netanyahu to Washington to campaign against the nascent nuclear deal, accused the U.S. on Thursday of gambling with Israeli security. With Iran's economy squeezed "now is the precise time to tell them, 'either or'. Either you have a nuclear weapon program, or you have an economy, but you can't have both," the leader of the far right Jewish Home party said in a speech. The Jewish state fears that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to its very existence, and has not ruled out carrying out a pre-emptive assault against Tehran's nuclear facilities.Source/Agence France Presse.
Can Israel survive Obama?
By: Noah Beck Published: 11.15.13, 11:28 / Ynetnews
Op-ed: Isolated like never before, stark choices facing Israel's leadership are unimaginably difficult
In the spring of 2012, when I wrote "The Last Israelis," I thought that the pessimistic premise of my cautionary tale on Iranian nukes was grounded in realism. I had imagined a US president who passively and impotently reacted to Iran's nuclear ambitions, leaving it to tiny Israel to deal with the threat. But something far worse is happening: The Obama administration is actively making it harder for Israel to neutralize Iran's nukes, and more likely that Iran will develop a nuclear arsenal.A few months after my apocalyptic thriller was published, the New York Times reported that "intense, secret exchanges between American and Iranian officials (dating) almost to the beginning of President Obama’s term" resulted in an agreement to conduct one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. In those secret talks, did Obama long ago concede to Iran a nuclear capability? If so, then the current Geneva negotiations merely provide the international imprimatur for what Iran and the US have already privately agreed. That might explain why France (of all countries) had to reject a Geneva deal that would have left Iran with a nuclear breakout capability.
An investigation by the Daily Beast also reveals that the "Obama administration began softening sanctions on Iran after the election of Iran’s new president last June, months before the current round of nuclear talks in Geneva..." The report notes that Treasury Department notices show "that the US government has all but stopped the financial blacklisting of entities and people that help Iran evade international sanctions since the election of its president, Hassan Rohani, in June."
Obama's desperately eager posture towards the smiling Mullahs has doomed any negotiation to failure by signaling that the US fears confrontation more than anything else. Obama's pathetic approach to the world's most pressing national security threat also makes US military action virtually impossible from a public relations and diplomatic standpoint because it promotes the naive idea that more diplomacy will resolve what a decade of talking hasn't. And as long as the Iranians are "talking," world opinion will also oppose an Israeli military strike, so naturally Iran will find ways to keep talking until it's too late for Israel to act.
Obama has been downright duplicitous towards key Mideast allies. When in campaign mode or speaking to Israel supporters, Obama emphatically rejected containment as a policy option for dealing with Iranian nukes but he's now taking steps that effectively make containment the only option available (while repeating the same empty reassurance that he has Israel's back and won't be duped by the smiling Iranians).
Despite his repeated reassurances, Obama rejected Israel's estimates for how much more time Iran needs to develop its nuclear capability, and accepted overly optimistic timetables that assumed at least a year for more talking. Soon afterwards, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) confirmed Israel's estimates that Iran could be just weeks away from the critical nuclear threshold. Ignoring these critical facts, Obama has given diplomatic cover to Iran's nuclear program by seizing on the cosmetic changes presented by the Iranian regime's Ahmadinejad-to-Rohani facelift.
That this makeover is just a ruse becomes obvious from this video, in which Rohani boasts about masterfully manipulating diplomacy to achieve Iran's nuclear objectives. So Obama must have known all along that "talks" are a fool's errand that allow him to "fall back to" what has been his position all along: containment.
And despite repeated assurances from Secretary of State John Kerry that "no deal is better than a bad deal," the current Geneva talks appear headed towards precisely that: A bad deal that leaves Iran with the very nuclear breakout capability that a diplomatic "solution" was supposed to prevent.
On the other hand, after Obama's weak response to Syria's crossing of his "red line" against the use of chemical weapons, the threat of US force against Iranian nukes lost all credibility, making it even harder to change Iranian nuclear behavior without force. So containing the mess produced by weak negotiations is really all that's left of Obama's Iran "strategy."
Only epic ineptitude or anti-Israel hostility no longer checked by reelection considerations can explain Obama's moves on Iran. And the stakes couldn't be higher for the rest of the world. After all, if Iran is the world's biggest state sponsor of terrorism without nuclear weapons, what will terrorism look like once Iran goes nuclear? And there are already hints of the nuclear proliferation nightmare that will follow Iran's nuclearization: Saudi Arabia has Pakistani nukes already lined up for purchase. Remarkably, Obama has known this since 2009 and apparently doesn't care about that consequence any more than he does about Israel's security. How else to explain his acceptance of the dreadful Geneva proposal granting Iran a nuclear weapons capability?
Exacerbating an existential threat against Israel is bad enough, but Obama has been an abysmal ally in other respects. Despite being history's most aggressive president to punish leakers (except when they make him look good), Obama's administration has repeatedly leaked sensitive Israeli information that could have easily provoked a Syrian-Israeli war. Obama summarily dumped a decades-long alliance with Egypt (that is also key to Israeli security) over some Egyptian state violence that is dwarfed by the decades-long brutality and terrorism of the Iranian regime now enjoying Obama's overzealous courtship. And Obama's image as a multi-lateralist who subordinates US interests to higher principles has been exposed as a fraud following reports that he knew that the US was spying on close European allies (contrary to his denials).
Add to that list Kerry's increasing hostility to Israel and reports that the US plans to impose its undoubtedly risky vision of peace on Israel in a few months, and you have Israel's worst nightmare in the White House. The irony is that the less Israel feels secure because of Obama's betrayals, the less likely it is to behave as Obama would like. Why humor Obama's requests and take unrequited risks for peace with the Palestinians or indulge yet another round of counter-productive "talks" about Iran's nuclear program when Obama has apparently abandoned Israel anyway?
As if Israel didn't face enough threats and challenges, it must now survive the Obama nightmare until he's out of office in 38 months. Isolated like never before thanks to Obama, the stark choices facing Israel's leadership are unimaginably difficult. With roughly 75 times more territory, 10 times as many people, and two times as big an economy, Iran is a Goliath compared to Israel, and has repeatedly threatened to destroy it. So what does David (Israel) do now that Obama's perfidy has been exposed? If the neighborhood bully is bigger than you, has threatened you, and is reaching for a bat, do you preemptively attack him before he gets the bat and becomes even more dangerous?
***Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis , an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East
Secret Israeli document to White House shows how US strategy shortens route to Iranian nuclear weapon
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 15, 2013/Thursday, Nov.
14, Israel sent the White House in Washington a confidential document outlining
blow by blow how and when Iran will attain a nuclear weapon if the Obama-Kerry
strategy for dealing with the issue goes through. The document was addressed to
the National Security Council headed by Susan Rice, debkafile reports.
Communications between the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem and the State
Department have almost petered out since exchanges between Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu and Secretary of State John Kerry sharpened in tone. Our
Washington sources report that Rice and the NSC have taken a critical stand
against the State Department’s policies – not just on the Iranian nuclear
question, but also on Saudi Arabia, the Arabian Gulf and Egypt. However, the
Israeli document does not take issue directly with Obama administration policies
per se. It confines itself to a dry account, step by step, of how the Iranian
nuclear bomb program will continue to unfold if the administration’s secret
proposition is accepted.
Much of the document’s content is highly technical for the perusal of US experts. It concludes that by putting Iran’s nuclear program on hold for six months, as the administration claims, US diplomatic strategy will shorten its path to a bomb or warhead. The Israeli document also sought to rebut Kerry’s argument that Netanyahu has been attacking the US proposal without knowing its content.
Washington and Tehran continue to use their back channels of communication to bypass their five fellow world powers before they meet in Geneva for the next round of negotiations with Iran on Nov. 20.
The root of the disagreement between the Obama administration and Netanyahu was illustrated in the exchanges around the visit the nuclear watchdog (IAEA) Director Yukiya Amano paid to Tehran Monday, Nov. 15.
Amano commented to reporters after the visit that he had seen no changes in Iran’s nuclear program in the three months since Hassan Rouhani became president – an indirect dig at the White House insistence that the election of a moderate Iranian president opened the door to a diplomatic solution of the nuclear controversy with Iran. Amano added that 20 percent enrichment of uranium continued.
Both these comments flew in the face of official Washington’s presentation of the state of Iran’s nuclear program. And indeed, 12 hours later, responding to US pressure, “IAEA sources” countered Amano’s comments by stating that Iran had stopped installing the new IR2 centrifuges, proving that enrichment had slowed.
Wednesday, debkafile’s exclusive sources, after checking these statements, found that Iran had been racing ahead without pause in the manufacture of the new centrifuges and installating them at the enrichment plants, but had not so far activated them. However, they stood ready to be switched on at any moment.
This is the nub of the disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem. Obama and Kerry welcome this situation as a “freeze” for which they are offering a loosening of the sanctions stranglehold on the Iranian economy, if it is extended to other key parts of nuclear program.Netanyahu sees it as a lease of life for a dangerous process.
The document he has presented to the NSC shows in detail how the US proposal spurred the Iranians into rushing forward the work for finishing all the working parts of their nuclear weapons program and making them ready to go into full operation at a moment’s notice, including enrichment and centrifuge production, as soon as sanctions are eased.
The American proposal, says Israel, has therefore shortened Iran’s road to breakout for a nuclear weapon.
Al-Rahi Praises Suleiman's Rejection
of Mandate Extension
Naharnet Newsdesk 15 November 2013/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi hailed on Friday President Michel Suleiman's rejection to extend his mandate and warned that changes introduced to the Lebanese entity are leading to the violation of the nation's principles. “We back your efforts to hold the presidential elections on time so that there would be rotation of power that characterizes Lebanon's democracy,” al-Rahi told Suleiman during a speech he made in Bkirki at a ceremony to launch a book on former Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Beirut last year. “The changes of the Lebanese entity are being manifested by the violation of the national principles,” he warned. Al-Rahi said he backed Suleiman's efforts to hold national dialogue, and urged the parliament to approve a new law that would guarantee equality among the Lebanese and hold the elections on time.
He reiterated the need to form a new all-embracing cabinet capable of confronting all challenges. The patriarch criticized efforts to turn Lebanon and its “institutions into the victim of the sectarian conflict in Lebanon, which is linked to the conflict in the region.” Addressing Suleiman, al-Rahi said: “You showed the pope Lebanon's coexistence and the rotation of power.” Suleiman also made a speech at the ceremony, calling for “implementing the results” of the pope's visit in Sept. 2012. The Lebanese showed that they were capable of organizing the “successful visit” despite rumors of security threats, he said. The president urged Christians to implement the Apostolic Exhortation. The pope's exhortations were made public during his three-day visit to Lebanon when he put his signature to recommendations emerging from a synod of bishops he had convened three years ago to examine the future of the Christian minority in the region and its relations with Islam and Judaism. Suleiman called for dialogue, freedom, openness, the adoption of democratic and humanitarian values, and the rejection of terrorism and extremism. Al-Rahi handed Suleiman the first copy of the book on Benedict XVI's visit.They later held closed-door talks.
Washington 'Strongly Condemns' Rocket Attacks on Bekaa
Naharnet Newsdesk 15 November 2013/The United States has condemned rocket attacks from Syria on Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley and called for the respect of Lebanon's dissociation policy.
The U.S. “strongly condemns” the attacks, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday. “The government of Lebanon has also said that they will be conducting an investigation, so we will look to that,” she said. “We of course call on all parties in the region to respect, as we always do, Lebanon’s sovereignty and its stated policy of disassociation,” Psaki added. Lebanese security officials said at least seven rockets fired from Syria on Thursday fell in the eastern village of Nabi Sheet, a Hizbullah stronghold, but caused no casualties. Such attacks have been common since Hizbullah joined the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad in fighting the rebels seeking to topple him.Syrian army helicopters also fired several rockets on an area along the border near the northeastern town of Arsal, said the officials. Arsal has been used as a conduit for weapons and rebels to enter Syria, while also serving as a refuge for people fleeing the conflict.
Report: March 14 Coalition to Hold National Conference in Tripoli to Address Security Chaos
Naharnet Newsdesk 15 November 2013/The March 14 alliance will hold a conference in the northern city of Tripoli to urge all fighting sides to end the chaos in the city, the Kuwaiti al-Anbaa newspaper reported on Friday. The daily reported that the conference is to stress the importance of coexistence, the joint national responsibility and civil peace in the northern city.
The report said that the conference will include various religious, political, economic, civil society organization and lawmakers in Tripoli. The attendees are expected to issue a final statement that rejects to consider Tripoli as a city for a certain sect that excludes all other. The final statement will also reject violence as a mean to impose a certain political stance, terrorist acts and extremism. It will also call on the rival parties to prioritize the security situation in the northern city. 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 latest, week-long battle killed 15 people on both sides and ended earlier this month when the army deployed along Syria Street, which separates the two districts and acts as the makeshift frontline. The Syrian uprising, which pits a Sunni-dominated rebellion against the Assad government, has inflamed existing sectarian tensions in Lebanon.
Suriname Probes Leader's Son over U.S. Hizbullah Charges
Naharnet Newsdesk 14 November 2013/Suriname has launched a formal investigation into the son of President Desi Bouterse after he was charged by U.S. authorities with attempting to funnel weapons to Hizbullah, officials said Thursday. Dino Bouterse is currently in U.S. custody following his extradition from Panama in August. U.S. justice officials last Friday hit Bouterse with further charges, accusing him of attempting to supply weapons to Hizbullah, and offering to allow the party's fighters to train in Suriname.Suriname's Procurator-General Subhas Punwasi said in a statement that officials were now investigating whether Bouterse broke local laws. Punwasi said officials may request information from foreign countries as part of the probe. According to an indictment unsealed in in a New York federal court, Bouterse was arrested after a meeting with undercover U.S. agents posing as Hizbullah associates to discuss hosting 30 to 60 militants in Suriname for training and operations. Bouterse was given millions of dollars to allow dozens of purported Hizbullah operatives to use Suriname as a base.If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison on the Hizbullah charge and a maximum sentence of life in prison over cocaine trafficking and brandishing a weapon.Bouterse was previously jailed in 2005 after a judge convicted him of leading a gang that trafficked cocaine and weapons. When he was released after serving three years of an eight-year sentence, his father gave him a job as director of the country's anti-terrorism unit. Bouterse was elected president by parliament in 2010 but led a ruling military junta from 1980-1987, during the former Dutch colony's civil war.SourceAgence France Presse.
Miqati: Safeguarding Lebanon a National Interest, Necessity to Arab World
Naharnet Newsdesk 15 November 2013/Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati reiterated on Friday that Lebanon is paying a “huge price” for the conflicts surrounding it, stressing that safeguarding Lebanon is a national interest and a necessity to the Arab world. “The delicate stage that we are passing through requires us to act wisely,” Miqati said during the 2013 Annual Arab Banking Conference, urging all parties not to meddle in the local affairs of any Arab country.“We will have to suffer from any negative repercussion while we are keen to avoid allowing the turmoil of other countries to spill over to our land,” the caretaker PM said before the attendees.
He stressed that the state is keen that the Arab countries will help Lebanon confront all the challenges, noting that the Arab solidarity is the “umbrella that will safeguard Lebanon and its civil peace.”The Union of Arab Banks (UAB) organized its two-day Annual Arab Banking Conference 2013 entitled “Economic Implications of Arab Transitions: Reforms and Role of Banks” in Beirut.The conference is representing an international platform to explore the economic damages caused by political, security and social developments in the region, develop suggestions & recommendations that can mitigate the impact of these damages in the Arab societies, address emerging economic and social problems, draw a roadmap for implementing growth, stability and progress plans, and finally identify priorities of the banking and financial sector in facing these challenges. Miqati restated that Lebanon can't aid the Syrian refugees on its territories by itself as it “lacks the capabilities to do so.”The Premier hailed the Lebanese banking sector's “credibility,” considering that its growth rate is still “good.”“There are investments that are still available in Lebanon and very tempting,” Miqati said, adding that the “desired reforms are not impossible to implement.”He noted that “despite the chaos in neighboring countries, the Lebanese financial sector was able to maintain its stability.”
Report: Hizbullah Warns Sunni Allies in Tripoli from New Wave of Assassinations
Naharnet Newsdesk 15 November 2013/Hizbullah warned its allies in the northern city of Tripoli from a new wave of assassinations targeting them, the Kuwaiti al-Seyassah newspaper reported on Friday. According to the newspaper, Hizbullah urged all Sunni leaders, who are close to the party, to take all the necessary precautions after receiving information on a scheme to assassinate them. The report comes in light of the assassination of pro-Hizbullah Sunni Sheikh Saadeddine Ghiyye in the head. On Tuesday, two masked men on a motorcycle shot Islamic Action Front official Ghiyyeh in Tripoli's al-Bahsa area. Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah considered the killing “an attack against the resistance and its supporters.” Ghiyyeh was close to Sheikh Hashem Minkara, the head of the Islamic Tawhid Movement, who is an ally of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. However, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel ruled out on Wednesday that the murder of a Ghiyyeh would lead to a new round of assassinations in Lebanon.
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Youhanna X Yazig Hopes for Deal Among Politicians to Form All-Embracing Cabinet
Naharnet Newsdesk 15 November 2013/Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Youhanna X Yazigi called on Friday for the formation of a government in which all the rival parties are represented and stopping the emigration of Christians. In remarks ahead of a trip to France and Germany, Yazigi stressed “the importance of forming an all-embracing cabinet so that we hold the presidential elections away from vacuum.”
“We hope we would find a solution and that politicians would reach an agreement for the sake of the country,” he said. “Our people belong to this land, our homes are here so are our families,” Yazigi said. He hoped that the Lebanese would continue to coexist in the country which is made up of all factions. Yazigi denied there was progress in the case of two bishops kidnapped in Syria. Bishops Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi were abducted by gunmen at the end of April near the Syrian city of Aleppo. Last month, General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas discussed the case with Syrian President Bashar Assad. He has also traveled to Qatar to secure their release. Nine Lebanese hostages held for 17 months by rebels in northern Syria were exchanged last month for two Turkish pilots abducted in Beirut in August. Syrian authorities have also released scores of women detainees as part of the hostage exchange brokered by Qatar and the Palestinian Authority.
Mansour to Encourage Kuwaitis to Visit
Lebanon, Have Confidence in Security Situation
Naharnet Newsdesk 15 November 2013/Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour traveled to Kuwait on Friday, saying he would encourage Kuwaiti officials to advise their citizens to visit Lebanon despite a travel ban. In remarks to reporters at Rafik Hariri International Airport before heading to Kuwait, Mansour said: “We have friendly ties with Kuwait and we are keen on this relationship.”He said he will tell Kuwaiti officials that Lebanon welcomes Kuwaitis any time and hopes that they would resume their travels to Beirut. “We want them to have confidence in the security and political situation,” Mansour added. Last year, Kuwait advised its citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon and its nationals present in the country to leave due to the unstable security situation. The caretaker FM traveled to Kuwait to participate in meetings in preparation for the Nov. 19-20 Arab-African Summit to which President Michel Suleiman will lead the Lebanese delegation. Mansour told the reporters at the airport that the summit will boost relations between Arab and African countries and could pave way for future cooperation between them. He said he will discuss with several of his counterparts on the sidelines of the summit the situation in Lebanon and the region, in addition to Lebanese expatriates in Africa. Asked whether the Syrian war is on the agenda of the conference, Mansour said: “No doubt the Syrian issue is a major topic today and it interests not only Lebanon but the states of the region and the world.”“It will be discussed during the meetings there,” he added.
U.S. Official Calls for Uprooting Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing from Lebanese System
Naharnet Newsdesk 15 November 2013/The U.S. Department of Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, Daniel Glaser, called on Friday for the Lebanese state to uproot money laundering, terrorist financing and other forms of illicit finance from the Lebanese financial system. “The Lebanese financial system is a critical asset to the Lebanese people and the basis of the national and regional economy,” Glaser said after talks with Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati at the Grand Serail. Glaser is on an official visit to Lebanon, where he participated in the 2013 Annual Arab Banking Conference. The meeting was held in presence of U.S. ambassador to Lebanon David Hale. Glaser held talks later on with PM-designate Tammam Salam at his residence in el-Msaytbeh. “There is still much work to be done and many challenges ahead... that have been magnified by recent politic developments in this region,” the U.S. official said earlier during the conference. He pointed out that Lebanon's ability “to retain its its position as an important regional and international financial center requires constant vigilance.” Glaser lashed out at Hizbullah during his speech, stressing that “working together we can stop illicit financial activities of groups that seek to destabilize the region such as al-Qaida and Hizbullah.” He highlighted the case of the Lebanese Canadian Bank, which was accused of laundering money from drugs and other operations for clients tied to Hizbullah, saying that the party's involvement in a “wide range of illicit activities and its ties to sanctioned regimes... will only increase as more countries apply sanctions on Hizbullah.” In June 2013, LCB agreed Tuesday to pay U.S. authorities $102 million to settle the charges. Beirut-based LCV was singled out in February 2011 for allegedly moving hundreds of millions of dollars for criminal groups and traffickers operating in Latin America, West Africa and the Middle East. Some of the customers it served were closely linked to Hizbullah, which Washington has blacklisted as a "terrorist organization."
Arab-Country Bound Captagon Pills
Seized at Airport
Naharnet Newsdesk 15 November 2013/Airport security thwarted on Friday an attempt to smuggle a large quantity of Captagon pills at the Rafik Hariri International Airport, the state-run National News Agency reported.
"The 23 kg of pills were in the possession of S. A., a Kuwaiti national born in 1981,” the NNA detailed. The detained suspect confessed in the interrogation that he planned to transfer the 17,000 seized pills to an Arab country via Beirut, the same source elaborated. "The competent court referred the suspect along with the seized pills to the Internal Security Forces Anti-Drug Bureau for further investigation.”
Syria Air Strike Hits Islamist Brigade Leadership
Naharnet Newsdesk 15 November 2013/A Syrian air strike has killed a senior commander of the Islamist Liwa Al-Tawhid rebel brigade in Aleppo and wounded its chief and another leader, a watchdog said Friday.
Four more rebel chiefs were killed in other incidents, three in the northern Aleppo province and the fourth in Homs to its south, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Yussef al-Abbas, known as Abu al-Tayyeb, was intelligence chief for Liwa al-Tawhid and was killed in a strike Thursday on an army base captured by the rebels a year ago, the Britain-based Observatory said.
He had been in a car along with the brigade's top commander, Abdelkader Saleh, and another senior figure of the group, Abdelaziz Salameh, both of whom were wounded. Following the attack, Liwa al-Tawhid arrested 30 people suspected of being informers for the regime of President Bashar Assad. The powerful brigade is among a number of Islamist units that have rejected the mainstream opposition Syrian National Coalition. Meanwhile, two chiefs of rebel battalions were killed in fighting with loyalist forces near the international airport outside Aleppo.A security source in Damascus confirmed that there were still rebel pockets of resistance in the environs of the airport. Elsewhere in the province, a former army colonel who commanded another rebel brigade was killed in fighting in the Maarat al-Artiq area.
For three weeks, the army has been pressing a campaign to retake rebel-held areas in Aleppo, particularly east of the country's second city, and jihadist fighters have called for mass mobilization to counter regime advances.
Syria expert Fabrice Balanche told Agence France Presse the regime is aiming to progressively fragment rebel territory in the north of the country.
"The army is trying to cut off eastern parts of Aleppo held by rebels from (their bases) in the countryside," he said. "At the same time, it is trying to open an approach to Idlib and Jisr al-Shughur (both southwest of Aleppo) to break up rebel territory, taking it bit by bit."Meanwhile, in Homs province, to the south of Aleppo, a rebel chief was killed in Mahine, which the army said it had captured, along with a large cache of arms there that had been seized by the insurgents.However, the Britain-based Observatory said fighting was still underway there. An estimated 120,000 people have been killed and millions displaced by Syria's civil war, which erupted after a fierce government crackdown on pro-democracy protests first held in March 2011.SourceAgence France Presse.
Russia’s strategy is based on fear and fantasy
By: Amir Taheri/Asharq Alawsat
What does Vladimir Putin want? In Western “think tanks” and chancelleries, the question has been making the rounds for almost two decades as “Tsar” Vladimir’s star has continued to rise. One answer may be that Putin sees post-Soviet Russia as a character in search of a role in a script it did not write. The brief tactical alliance dictated by the Second World War notwithstanding, under Lenin and Stalin the USSR regarded the US and its “capitalist” allies as enemies.
Then, leaders from Nikita Khrushchev to Leonid Brezhnev saw the post-World War system as a duopoly defined by the Yalta accords and the subsequent grammar of the Cold War. They regarded the United States as an adversary but did not wish to upset a system that guaranteed the USSR parity as a “superpower.” Mikhail Gorbachev tried to redefine the USSR’s position as a partner for the US and its European allies. Adopting the concept of “universal values” he de-emphasized the role of ideology.
Boris Yeltsin developed Gorbachev’s analysis further by trying to re-cast the Russia that re-emerged from the debris of the Soviet Empire as an ally of the “capitalist camp.”However, a good part of the Russian elite started to feel that the end of the Cold War did not guarantee their nation the place it deserved in the global system. Strategies based on Russia acting as enemy, adversary, partner and ally of the West had all failed.
Putin became the symbol of the new elite’s quest for a new role for Russia. Over the years, Putin has tried to redefine Russia as an adversary of Western powers led by the United States. Putin’s strategy catered for some of Russia’s deep-rooted needs. From its earliest stages as a nation, Russia has been an ideological construct defined against real or imagined enemies.
First, Russians had to shake off the Tatar yoke and become the core-nation of a Slavic confederation. The onion-shaped cupolas that adorn the cathedral of Saint Basil on Moscow’s Red Square symbolize the turbaned heads of Tatar chiefs cut off by Ivan (The Terrible).
Russia defined itself as the “Third Rome” and claimed Moscow as the final “bastion of Christianity” after Rome fell to Catholics and Constantinople to Muslims. Pan-Slavism, a cocktail of nationalism and religious zeal provided the ideological template.
Pan-Slavism, developed by people like Aleksey Khomyakov among others, emphasized Russia’s “specialness”, as a nation chosen by God to spread the Good News. “We are a New Testament nation,” Khomyakov liked to boast.
The trouble was that, from the beginning, while it wanted to be itself, Russia also dreamed of becoming another. That dream of otherness was reflected in the Westernization movement symbolized by Peter the Great who hoped to make Russia a Western nation.
Russia’s political schizophrenia is nowhere better reflected than in the complex of palaces that constitute the Kremlin, the seat of Russian power since the 13th century. Initially erected as a wooden structure to house the Tsar’s guard, the Kremlin was intended to intimidate in a very Russian way. Over the centuries, however, it was redesigned to reflect Russia’s dream of otherness. New stone structures copied from Italian Renaissance buildings, especially in Bologna, were erected within six-meter high walls. The complex expanded into a 62 acres “city within the city” with giant-size reception halls, endless corridors, and nooks and crannies to entice fear and fantasy in equal measures.
The fears reflected in the Kremlin’s memory are not abstract concepts. Its capture by Boris Godunov, the usurper Tsar of Tatar origin, sounded a warning that reverberated for centuries. Worse still, the heart of Russian power was seized by Polish conquerors and then by Napoleon. Russians had to burn much of it to make sure that the French invader ended up with a hollow victory.
Today, claims of Western, especially American, “conspiracies” provide the fear ingredient of the Putin ideology. Russians are told the US is trying to undermine their nation by sowing dissension, creating opposition groups, and inciting the youth to rebellion through pop groups such as Pussy Riot. Worse still, so the Putin message runs, the US is “invading” Russia through Christian evangelists who hope to destroy the Orthodox Church.
Putin fears that the US might try to topple his regime through a “velvet revolution” of the kind that produced regime change in Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia, among others. This is why he is determined to prevent regime change in Syria even if that meant derailing Moscow’s relations with Arab nations.
The Putin narrative also claims that the “conspiracy” includes an Islamic ingredient. The plan, we are told, is to help Russia’s Muslim citizens become a majority in a few decades. Today, Muslims account for 25 percent of Russia’s population of 140 million. However, thanks to higher birth rates Muslim numbers are rising by 2.3 million while the Orthodox Russian population is falling by around 800,000 annually. Muslim numbers are also on the rise thanks to conversions, including by many Orthodox Russians.
Fear of Islam is fanned through racist groups such as Alexander Belov’s “Movement Against Illegal Immigration.” Since the overwhelming majority of Russian Muslims are Sunnis, Putin regards Shi’ite-majority Iran as a natural ally. Neither Putin nor Iranian “Supreme Guide” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei want to see regimes based on Sunni majorities achieve power in their geo-political habitat from central Asia to North Africa.
Russia has always been torn between the Asiatic and Western halves of its national identity. As a result it has not been fully accepted by either side as a legitimate family member. Emphasizing one aspect has always provoked violent reaction from the other. Only a Russia that assumes the totality of its identity can hope to dispel the fears and fantasies that have marked its history, often with tragic results. Many, including some within the ruling elite, understand that.
I am not sure Vladimir Putin is one of them.
**Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked at or written for innumerable publications, published eleven books, and has been a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat since 1987. Mr. Taheri has won several prizes for his journalism, and in 2012 was named International Journalist of the Year by the British Society of Editors and the Foreign Press Association in the annual British Media Awards.
The Great Bear slips up again
Michel Kilo/Asharq Alawsat
Russia has started to pay for the catastrophic mistakes it made in Syria, defending the regime of a criminal who guaranteed himself certain defeat. How did Assad manage that? He placed himself in a bloody confrontation with a people who were determined to get rid of him, while he made the perpetuation of his rule–which is contrary to nature—his only objective. That objective convinced him that a minority could forever use oppression to enforce its rule over a majority that rejected it.
From the beginning of the struggle, Putin’s Russia adopted a vision that saw the Syrian issue as a conflict between fundamentalist Islam and the last of the secular regimes in the region. It did not acknowledge any legitimate demands from an oppressed people, the acceptance of which would have changed its challenged the theory of fundamentalism, whether Islamist or secular. It ignored the blatant fact that Syrian people went out to demand a political system based on citizenship, the rule of law, democracy and freedom. Notably, they didn’t take to the streets under the leadership of a party or a political or sectarian movement, whatever their identity.
By failing to acknowledge the desires of the Syrian people, the clever men of the Kremlin committed a mistake they will be unable to rectify. Even if the Syrian people forgave them their mistake, they could not build normal relations with the new Syria in one day. The Russians have lost the illustrious relations they have had with the Syrian people for more than 60 years, and they have wasted the confidence the Syrians afforded to Russia above all others. They committed themselves to a regime rejected by its own people—a regime that oppressed its people more than any oppressive regime ever known to Arabs.
Russia could have taken advantage of its relationship with the regime’s army and security to stop the destruction of Syria and the killing of its people in massacres that have shocked the world. Instead, Putin welcomed them with glee, as if they were charitable actions taken by a sympathetic regime against a group of monsters and predators who deserved to be killed and crushed.
Putin’s Russia has lost in Syria, because it overlooked the fact that the Syrian people will defeat the Assad regime. But we must still ask if it has won instead among Arabs, in the Middle East, or internationally.
First, Russia failed to understand what was going on in Syria. It did not understand the American–Israeli strategy, and so it felt confident in Assad’s eventual victory and rejected all that the Syrians tried to draw its attention to repeatedly. They didn’t account for Washington and Tel Aviv protecting Assad as long as he continued to destroy the Syrian state and society and eliminate Syria from the power equation in the region. It did not realize that the destruction of Syria, which Russia supported and which used its arms, would represent a permanent source of shame to Russia and a reason to achieve the opposite to what it wanted. The only result has been the rise of fundamentalism on the corpse of democracy.
However, Russia continued to fight alongside Assad, unwittingly contributing to America’s efforts to turn Syria into a hotbed of tension. America has managed to make Syria into battlezone that is attracting its regional and international adversaries, and it is now able to pick them off without sacrificing a dollar, a shekel, or a single American or Israeli soldier.
Now, Washington is taking away Assad’s chemical weapons and it has become clear that the Assad regime has had no objectives in the last half-century apart from remaining in power. Russia’s Putin has been forced to play the role of a broker who could not save Assad, and thus Washington forced him to do what the US and Israel wanted.
America is now beginning to achieve its second objective: to place the Iranian nuclear dossier under its supervision. If it doesn’t get this in the next few weeks, it will tighten its siege of Tehran and escalate its pressure. The US will focus on beating Iran down wherever it has influence, in Syria and elsewhere, while Russia stands helpless—just as it was unable to stop Assad from being forced to hand over his chemical weapons. It will have no option other than to face its strategic defeat in Tehran tomorrow, while still looking back at its strategic defeat in Damascus yesterday.
Putin’s Russia will remain in the position of someone who makes defensive reactions. The strategic equation will remain in the hands of America and Israel, and victory will be theirs. This is true not only because of their abilities, available options, and well-considered policies, but also because of Russia’s and Iran’s involvement in the Syrian crisis. That involvement is weakening them strategically.
What could Russia do other than accept defeat when Tehran consents to its own downfall the way Damascus consented before it? It will only be left with disappointment at Putin and his failures, and it will have to leave a region it entered in the 1950s while trumpeting its promises of liberation and progress. Russia has now been pushed out of the Middle East by the Americans and the Israelis, because it despised the Arab people and ignored their interests and desires. Russia tied its fate to trivial oppressors who never objected to becoming no more than minor servants of America and Israel’s plans and strategies.
Russia has carried out some truly stupid policies, which Washington deliberately lauded as very smart, policies, in order to make Putin’s fall more painful and more costly—as we can see today.
**Michel Kilo is a Syrian–Christian writer and human rights activist, who has been called "one of Syria's leading opposition thinkers."