November 18/2013



Bible Quotation for today/The New Command
01 John 02
/07-17:"My dear friends, this command I am writing you is not new; it is the old command, the one you have had from the very beginning. The old command is the message you have already heard. 8 However, the command I now write you is new, because its truth is seen in Christ and also in you. For the darkness is passing away, and the real light is already shining. If we say that we are in the light, yet hate others, we are in the darkness to this very hour.  If we love others, we live in the light, and so there is nothing in us that will cause someone else[a] to sin.  But if we hate others, we are in the darkness; we walk in it and do not know where we are going, because the darkness has made us blind.  I write to you, my children, because your sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ.  I write to you, fathers, because you know him who has existed from the beginning. I write to you, young people, because you have defeated the Evil One.  I write to you, my children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who has existed from the beginning. I write to you, young people, because you are strong; the word of God lives in you, and you have defeated the Evil One.  Do not love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you do not love the Father.  Everything that belongs to the world—what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are so proud of—none of this comes from the Father; it all comes from the world.  The world and everything in it that people desire is passing away; but those who do the will of God live forever.

Pope Francis ‏

Jesus kept his wounds so that we would experience his mercy. This is our strength and our hope.

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For November 18/13
Iran must reach out to its Arab neighbors/By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Asharq Alawsat/November 18/13

After the Pax Americana/By: Jonathan Spyer/PJ Media/November 18/13
Increased Drug Trafficking from Iran, Ankara's Challenges/By: by Behsat Ekici and Ali Unlu/MEF/November 18/13 


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For November 18/13
Lebanese Related News
March 14 candidate elected head of Beirut Bar Association

Lebanon's Arsal struggles with refugee influx
Syrian army launches offensive near Lebanon border
Clashes with gunmen breach precarious security plan for Tripoli
Hezbollah: March 14 disavowed Baabda Declaration first
Three Syrians kidnapped in east Lebanon
Report: Suleiman Among Candidates to Replace Diouf in Francophonie

1 Inured in Blast at Pharmaceutical Company in Kahhale
Report: 16,000 Syrian Refugees Fled to Lebanon Since Friday
Rahi Sets 3 Conditions as Catholic Patriarchs Head to Rome
Mansour Makes Thinly Veiled Criticism of GCC 'Involvement' in Lebanon

Miscellaneous Reports And News

Report: Mossad working with Saudis on contingency plans for potential attack on Iran
Hollande in Israel: France won't yield in opposing Iran nuclear weapons

France assures Israel it will stand firm on Iran deal
Netanyahu slams 'exceedingly bad' Iran nuclear dealo
Bid for more sanctions on Iran could reach US Senate this week
US official says Iran interim nuclear deal 'quite possible' next week
Kerry to return to Israel as Netanyahu publicly admits to differences with US on Iran
Iran points to possible way round nuclear sticking point

Syrian opposition fighters demand ISIS leave Latakia
Iran: No need for West to declare uranium 'right
Israel PM 'gravely concerned' Iran deal will go through
Olmert mocks Netanyahu, backs Obama over Iran nuclear talks
Bad deal on Iran could lead to war, Netanyahu says

Blast Near Damascus Kills 31 Troops

Report: Mossad working with Saudis on contingency plans for potential attack on Iran

By JPOST.COM STAFF 11/17/2013/J.Post/The Mossad is working with Saudi officials on contingency plans for a potential attack on Iran in the event that Tehran's nuclear program is not sufficiently curbed in the deal that may be concluded between Iran and world powers in Geneva this week, The Sunday Times reported. Both Jerusalem and Riyadh have expressed displeasure at the deal being formulated between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers that they see as doing little to stop Tehran's progress toward a nuclear weapon.According to the Times, Riyadh has already given its consent for Israel to use Saudi airspace for a potential attack on Iran.
The paper quoted a diplomatic source as saying the Saudis were willing to assist an Israeli attack by cooperating on the use of drones, rescue helicopters and tanker planes.
“Once the Geneva agreement is signed, the military option will be back on the table. The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs,” the Times quoted the source as saying.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in an interview with French daily Le Figaro on Saturday that there is a “meeting of the minds” between Israel and the “leading states in the Arab world” on the Iran issue – “one of the few cases in memory, if not the first case in modern times. “We all think that Iran should not be allowed to have the capacities to make nuclear weapons,” he said. “We all think that a tougher stance should be taken by the international community. We all believe that if Iran were to have nuclear weapons, this could lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, making the Middle East a nuclear tinderbox.”
Saying that an Iran with nuclear arms would be the most dangerous development for the world since the mid-20th century, and stressing that the “stakes are amazing,” Netanyahu urged the world’s leaders to pay attention “when Israel and the Arabs see eye-to-eye.”“We live here,” he said. “We know something about this region. We know a great deal about Iran and its plans. It’s worthwhile to pay attention to what we say.”Netanyahu made the comments as French President Francois Hollande was set to arrive in Israel for talks on Iran on Sunday. French objections are widely viewed as having held up an agreement with Iran last Saturday night in Geneva. The nuclear talks are set to resume in Geneva on Wednesday, and US officials have suggested that a deal may likely be signed. Diplomatic officials said one reason for France’s tough position on Iran – the toughest position among the P5+1 states that also include the US, Russia, China, Britain and Germany – has something to do with its close ties to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which are as adamantly opposed to Iran getting nuclear weapons as is Israel. **Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

Hollande in Israel: France won't yield in opposing Iran nuclear weapons
By HERB KEINON D: 11/17/2013/J.Post
French President Francois Hollande swore that his country would stand firm in opposing a deal on Iran's nuclear program that left the Islamic Republic with the option of producing atomic weapons.
Hollande, welcomed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Sunday afternoon with full pomp and ceremony and a great deal of warmth by President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, said France will not surrender to nuclear proliferation and that Paris will stand by its demands – and continue with sanctions – until Iran gives up on a nuclear weapons.Iran, he said, "is a threat to Israel, to the region, and to the whole world."
"I will always remain a friend of Israel," Hollande said in Hebrew at the end of his brief address.
The president arrived in Israel as head of a massive delegation, including seven ministers and nearly 200 businessmen, aides and journalists, just three days before the P5+1 – of which France is a member - will meet again in Geneva with Iranian negotiators. Iran will be a central topic of discussion during his meetings here, and France's tough stand on Iran means that the visit is taking place at a time where there is a great deal of appreciation in Jerusalem for Paris' position on this matter.Regarding the Palestinian issue, Hollande said he pinned a lot of hopes on the current negotiations. "You will need courage," he said. "But you have courage."
"I came to deliver a message of support of France, based on our long history, a history of joint fate, but also of suffering, pain and tragedy," he said.
Netanyahu welcomed Hollande by saying that Zionism was influenced a great deal from the lofty ideals of the French revolution: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (liberty, equality, and fraternity). He added that other elements Zionism took from the French revolution were the belief in progress, human rights, and the "sovereignty of the people, not of the ruler."Israel was the only state in the region that sanctified those values, he said, adding that Israeli-French ties are long-standing and deeply rooted. "We appreciate France's decisive contribution to our security during the first and fateful years of our state," he said, saluting Peres for playing a large role in establishing those ties.
"We are preserving and developing those ties," he added. France, according to Netanyahu understands very well the dangers of extremist factors who do not shudder from violence and terrorism to achieve their aims. He praised Hollande for the "courageous decision" to fight Islamic radical terrorists in Mali, and for the tough stance Paris has taken toward Syria and Iran's continued attempts to get nuclear arms.
"It is forbidden for Iran to get nuclear arms," he said. "This will not only endanger Israel and other states in the Middle East, but also France, Europe and the whole world."
Netanyahu said that when he went with Hollande to Toulouse last year after the terrorist attack there, and saw his unwavering stand against anti-Semitism, and his warm relations with the French Jewish community, "I saw in front of me a leader with principles and deep humanity."Peres was also effusive in his praise of France.
"The people of Israel owe France a great debt for standing by our side in times of peace and of war," he said. "For allowing the development of Israel's defensive force. Especially in the first years of the state, when we needed France more than at any other time."Peres, who was instrumental in forging close ties with Paris during the early years of statehood, said that with the support of its citizens, its soldiers, its writers and its leaders, France enthusiastically "allowed us to defend ourselves as a sovereign state and to build a new society. We will never forget it. Thank you from the depth of our hearts. The true historic friendship between our two people is founded upon mutual values and a deep sense of mutual respect. We share a legacy of fighting slavery and rejecting tyranny." Hollande told the assembled government ministers and dignitaries that there was great empathy for Israel's position in his country and that he wished to strengthen relations between the two peoples. "I want to bring you a message of support from France based on joint history, suffering, pain and tragedy," the president said. "With 150,000 French Jews living in Israel, I have come to give a new push to our ties, especially in business and cultural spheres." After a welcoming ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport, Hollande will go directly to the President’s Residence in the capital for a formal reception and meeting with Peres.He will then lay a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl, visit Yitzhak Rabin’s grave, and go to Yad Vashem.
In the evening he has a private meeting planned with Netanyahu, followed by a joint press conference, and then dinner with the prime minister.
On Monday, following a visit to Jerusalem’s Old City, he will go to Ramallah for some five hours, after which he will return to Jerusalem, address the Knesset and attend a state dinner hosted by Peres.
On Tuesday, after visiting the graves at the Har Hamenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem of the victims of the March 2012 Toulouse terrorist attack, he will take part in a joint economic meeting in Tel Aviv and meet French Israelis at Tel Aviv University. He will leave Tuesday afternoon. staff contributed to this report.

March 14 candidate elected head of Beirut Bar Association

November 17, 2013/By Youssef Diab The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The March 14 coalition candidate, George Jreij, was elected Sunday as the new head of the Beirut Bar Association at the Justice Palace. Jreij received 1,223 more votes than his competitor Fadi Barakat, the March 8 candidate for the post. Jreij received an overall 2,662 votes. Speaking to reporters after the results were announced, Jreij said he will adopt a different approach than his predecessor, Nuhad Jaber, vowing to work for the entire association regardless of his political affiliation. "Although I am the choice of some but I will work for the entire association," Jreij said in his first remarks as head of the Beirut bar. March 14 coalition candidates also won two out of four vacant seats on the Association’s board in the by-elections earlier Sunday. George Jreij received most of the votes in the by-election while the other 14 March coalition candidate, Samih Beshrawi, came in second, a judicial source told The Daily Star. The March 8 group candidate Barakat came in third while independent Nader Kaspar came in fourth place in the by-elections to fill the four vacant seats on the 12-member board.
Jreij received 2,641 votes, Beshrawi received 2,132 votes, and Barakat received 1,612 votes, while 1,487 voted for Kaspar, the source said, adding that Amal Movement candidate Hussein Zbib was the first to lose with 1,470 votes. The by-elections kicked off around 10 a.m. at the Justice Palace with thousands of lawyers flocking into the bar’s headquarters to cast their ballots before the former President of the Bar Association Nuhad Jaber ordered the closure of the voting booths around 12:30 p.m. The elections for the president's post began around 3 p.m. An estimated 7,000 lawyers were eligible to vote in Sunday’s elections and by-elections.
March 14-backed candidates, Costi Issa and Omar Morad, had triumphed in last Sunday’s Bar Association’s by-elections for its northern chapter, with 550 and 407 votes respectively.

Lebanon's Arsal struggles with refugee influx

November 17, 2013/By Rakan al-Fakih The Daily Star /HERMEL, Lebanon: Local officials in Lebanon’s northeastern town of Arsal sounded the alarm Sunday over the lack of available space to house thousands of refugees from Syria who have flocked into the Lebanese-Syrian border as a result of clashes between Hezbollah-backed regime forces and rebel groups at the Qalamoun Hills. An additional 500 Syrian families arrived at Arsal Sunday joining some 1,200 families who fled to the northeastern region earlier this week. “We have placed them in mosques, wedding halls and in some host residencies but we are running out of place,” Arsal Deputy Mayor Ahmad Fliti told The Daily Star. He urged the government as well as other United Nations refugee agencies to assist the town in coping with the sudden large influx of the refugees. Fliti said that his town is now home to 2,000 families, an estimated 13,000 people including children. The arriving Syrians have fled Qalamoun, a mountainous area lying roughly north of Damascus and adjacent to Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, where battles between President Bashar Assad’s forces and rebel groups are raging. Media reports said the Syrian government's offensive in Qalamoun which began earlier this week is aimed at cutting rebel supply lines to opposition-held areas around the capital. The influx marks a significant increase in the number of refugees in Arsal, a town that already hosts a refugee population of more than 30,000.
In its latest report on the Syrian refugee situation in Lebanon published Friday, the UNHCR said the number of displaced people in the country stood at 816,000, with around 11,000 newcomers between Nov. 8 and Nov. 15.
The Social Affairs Ministry said Saturday it was responding to the refugee crisis in Arsal and that concerned agencies were placed on full alert to address the influx. The statement said a team from the ministry accompanied by a team from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had been dispatched to the area to assess the situation and take “the necessary measures.”


France assures Israel it will stand firm on Iran deal

Lebanon's Arsal struggles with refugee influx November 17, 2013/By Rakan al-Fakih The Daily Star /HERMEL, Lebanon: Local officials in Lebanon’s northeastern town of Arsal sounded the alarm Sunday over the lack of available space to house thousands of refugees from Syria who have flocked into the Lebanese-Syrian border as a result of clashes between Hezbollah-backed regime forces and rebel groups at the Qalamoun Hills. An additional 500 Syrian families arrived at Arsal Sunday joining some 1,200 families who fled to the northeastern region earlier this week. “We have placed them in mosques, wedding halls and in some host residencies but we are running out of place,” Arsal Deputy Mayor Ahmad Fliti told The Daily Star. He urged the government as well as other United Nations refugee agencies to assist the town in coping with the sudden large influx of the refugees. Fliti said that his town is now home to 2,000 families, an estimated 13,000 people including children.  The arriving Syrians have fled Qalamoun, a mountainous area lying roughly north of Damascus and adjacent to Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, where battles between President Bashar Assad’s forces and rebel groups are raging.
Media reports said the Syrian government's offensive in Qalamoun which began earlier this week is aimed at cutting rebel supply lines to opposition-held areas around the capital. The influx marks a significant increase in the number of refugees in Arsal, a town that already hosts a refugee population of more than 30,000. In its latest report on the Syrian refugee situation in Lebanon published Friday, the UNHCR said the number of displaced people in the country stood at 816,000, with around 11,000 newcomers between Nov. 8 and Nov. 15. The Social Affairs Ministry said Saturday it was responding to the refugee crisis in Arsal and that concerned agencies were placed on full alert to address the influx.  The statement said a team from the ministry accompanied by a team from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had been dispatched to the area to assess the situation and take “the necessary measures.”

Syrian opposition fighters demand ISIS leave Latakia

Asharq Al-Awsat /Al-Qaeda linked group ordered to leave province and surrender its regional leader following recent clashes Free Syrian Army fighters stand on the back of a truck mounted with an anti-aircraft weapon in Syria’s northwestern Latakia province November 1, 2013. REUTERS/Khattab Abdulaa
Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Sources close to the Syrian opposition in the Latakia region told Asharq Al-Awsat that Free Syrian Army (FSA) and independent Islamist fighters have joined forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to force the group out of the area and ensure the surrender of its leader Abu Ayman Al-Iraqi, following recent clashes.
The sources said the refusal of ISIS to abide by agreements reached in efforts to mediate in recent clashes between armed opposition groups in the area “may lead to a wide war between the two sides.”This followed an attempt last week to assassinate Abu Rahhal, commander of the “Hijra to Allah” brigades, which is affiliated to the FSA, resulting in the death of his bodyguard. Sources said the clashes erupted when a checkpoint manned by Abu Rahhal’s group stopped armed members of ISIS in a car, leading to an armed clash between the two sides. They added that FSA leaders and other activists in the region mediated between the two sides, and received a promise from the emir of the ISIS group, Abu Ayman Al-Iraqi to “ensure the safety of FSA prisoners held by his group.” The sources further added that “the next day, six prisoners… held by ISIS were found dead in Al-Shaghr village in the Jisr Al-Shughour area, with signs of torture and following a public execution.” Meanwhile, sources said Jalal Bayerly, a shari’a judge in the Kurdish and Turkmen territory who attempted to mediate the dispute “was killed when he visited an ISIS base, resulting in an escalation in the military situation.” They added that “following the death of… Bayerly, the FSA’s Omar Al-Mokhtar Brigade detained three ISIS members who were found to be Russian immigrants who had come to Syria to fight alongside ISIS.” Following this incident, “a shari’a court was formed, including all factions in the region, in order to stop the bloodshed and punish the criminals, and a number of demands were made to ISIS to restore calm.”Sources close to the shari’a court told Asharq Al-Awsat that the court demanded that “new checkpoints erected by ISIS in the area be removed, and the emir of ISIS in the coastal region, Abu Ayman Al-Iraqi surrender to the court for breaking the promise [he made], in addition to the departure of ISIS from the region permanently.”
Meanwhile, the Al-Nusra Front took charge of negotiations on a prisoner exchange between the FSA and ISIS, and issued a deadline for implementation. The sources added that “the deadline was long and may even extend to weeks, in order to stop the bloodshed and end the fighting between the two sides.” They further added that “the situation in the area is still tense, and a solution has not yet been found,” warning that “if ISIS failed to surrender its emir, Abu Ayman Al-Iraqi, the two sides will fight again, and a huge war will ensue.”

Iran must reach out to its Arab neighbors
By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Asharq Alawsat
The 10-day pause between rounds of talks with Iran has increased the danger that a deal could not be reached in Geneva, because it gave opponents on all sides time to regroup and cast more doubts on the negotiations.
The US Congress is one of the opponents, fueled by Israeli lobbyists and conservative Republicans. But there are also opponents from the Iranian side, namely the hardline conservatives. Those hardliners are against basically any negotiations, and they also refuse to give credit to the West—particularly the United Sates. In this atmosphere, both sides’ patience will almost certainly have run out after having failed to reach a nuclear deal in Geneva last week. In the US, Congress is threatening to impose a new round of sanctions against Iran while the Obama administration’s representative, Secretary of State John Kerry, fights to prevent anything scuppering the negotiations.
Reaching a deal would mean taking options off the table—and we’ve all heard US officials irritate Iranian politicians with their “all options are on the table” motto.
But the option both the US and Iran are trying to avoid, no matter how seriously Israel lobbies for it, is obvious: bombing Iran.
Unfortunately, the only outcome that could appease the Israeli administration is nothing less than war with Iran. What Israel is asking for—no uranium enrichment whatsoever—is simply never going to happen. Basically, if Iran proves that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, then it has the right to enrich uranium on its soil for use in its nuclear reactors, just like any other country that adheres to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s standards. Last Monday, the IAEA announced that Iran had agreed to work to resolve all its outstanding issues with the agency, and that it would allow international inspectors “managed access” to two important nuclear facilities. That agreement with the IAEA has probably thrown a lot of its opponents off their guard. They had been ready to implement a new round of sanctions, after all! So after the statement from the IAEA last Monday, and after the last round of talks between Iran and the West, we’ve seen a lot of action from Secretary of State John Kerry to shore up support for the talks. Most notably, he made intensive trips to the Middle East to brief US allies about the negotiations with Iran. At a press conference in the United Arab Emirates, Secretary Kerry said that the Obama administration is not in a “race” to strike a deal. But, clearly, Israel can’t get what it wants in this circumstance. As President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech to parliament last Sunday, “enriching uranium is our red line and is not negotiable.”
What Mr. Kerry’s remarks clearly aimed to do was reassure the US’s allies that if a deal is reached, it would be a good deal for everybody—not only for Iran. It has been interesting to watch the US administration’s efforts to promote the deal and convince Israel and their Arab allies to trust the talks with Iran, especially since Iran has been so passive about reaching out to other countries for support.
The US administration has been travelling around the world to negotiate with their opponents, both internal and external. Why hasn’t the Iranian side had the courage to do this, and especially to try to improve their relations with their Arab neighbors? True, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif traveled all over the West to negotiate with governments about the sanctions, and also to talk about Iran’s nuclear program in general. He appeared on several foreign media outlets, but so far he hasn’t traveled to any Arab countries or spoken to any of their media outlets.  Internal opponents and Western negotiators are obviously of great concern to Iran, but Iran also has to have an eye on their Arab neighbors, who also have their own voice and the power to make a difference. If Rouhani and Zarif can warm up to the US, why can’t they work things out with their own neighbors? Arab voices and support are no less important than those of Western countries. **Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard


After the Pax Americana
by Jonathan Spyer/PJ Media
A report this week in the pro-Hizballah newspaper Al-Akhbar claimed that the Turks have expelled a number of Saudi intelligence officers from their soil, because of disputes between the two countries over policy toward Syria and Egypt. Whatever the veracity of the report (Al-Akhbar can have a vivid imagination), a quote in the article from an un-named Turkish source succeeds in pointing out pithily and concisely the current core strategic dynamic in the Middle East. The quote is "Turkish officials believe Saudi Arabia, along with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, are strategically working against the interests of two different regional blocs: Hezbollah, Syria, Iran and Iraq on one front, and Turkey, Qatar, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood on the other." If Turkish officials do indeed believe this, then they have it right. There are today three discernible de facto alliances operating in the Middle East. Interestingly, for the first time in half a century, none of the major blocs engaged are clearly aligned with the U.S. and the West. Let's look at these three blocs in a little more detail.
The first, Iranian-led bloc, including Assad in Syria and Hizballah in Lebanon, is the most familiar. The Iranian ambition, clearly stated, is to replace the U.S. as the dominant power in the energy-rich Gulf area, to build a contiguous alliance of pro-Iranian states stretching from the Iranian border to the Mediterranean and into the Levant, and thus to emerge as the strongest force in the Middle East. It is committed to acquiring a nuclear capability to underwrite and insure this process against action to prevent it.
Iran's Shia nature means that this bloc has a legitimacy gap outside of the minority Shia Arab populations which is probably insurmountable. Because of ideological conviction and also to bridge this gap, Iran noisily proclaims itself for the destruction of Israel. It believes sincerely in this, but it also hopes to woo the Sunni Arab masses through this appeal to an objective also dear to their hearts. The second bloc noted by the "Turkish officials" is that of "Turkey, Qatar, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood." This is the Sunni Islamist alignment that a year ago looked to be on the march across the region, as a result of the popular uprisings once misleadingly called the "Arab Spring." But 2013 has been a terrible year for the Muslim Brothers. They have lost power in Egypt and in Tunisia. A new emir in Qatar appears to prefer a more modest regional stance. And in Syria, al-Qaeda and Salafi-oriented units now form the most active pillar in a confused insurgency which shows signs of turning in on itself. The eclipse of this bloc in turn draws attention to the third alliance mentioned in the quote. This is the bloc consisting of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries excluding Qatar. It is the bloc of the conservative Sunni Arab monarchies.
The monarchies survived intact the recent wave of popular agitation in the Arab world, which instead took its toll on the "secular," military regimes. But Saudi Arabia was infuriated by the Qatar-MB nexus, and set out to roll it back. Saudi support for Sisi's coup in Egypt formed an important part of the latter's success. The Saudis are also terrified at the prospect of a nuclear Iran and subsequent domination of the Gulf and the wider region. Saudi support for and cultivation of allies in Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen and elsewhere should be seen in this light. So the Saudis are engaged in a political war on two fronts, with an acute awareness of the high stakes involved.
The Iranians and their allies have a clear-eyed view of the obstacles to their ambitions, as indicated by the appearance of this article in Al-Akhbar.
The Turks and the Muslim Brotherhood also well understand the nature of the power political game. Their current dismay reflects their recent setbacks in it. Israel, too, has an acute understanding of the Iranian threat and is a powerful, un-declared ally to the Saudi-led bloc. Everyone gets the nature of the game. Until you look outside of the region.
The dominant trends in the U.S. and western Europe entirely fail to grasp the nature and the dynamic of this contest. There, the talk remains filled with airy hopes of a new era represented by President Rouhani of Iran, focus on the insolvable, currently dormant Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nostalgia for the "Arab Spring," and hope that a new wave of supposedly democratizing protest may still be ahead, or simply fatigue and a desire to disengage. In general — confusion and feeble-mindedness. Now, the Saudis have so far done quite well, using money and political influence, against the Muslim Brotherhood.
But against the Iranians, who know how to utilize hard power effectively, as they are demonstrating in Syria, the monarchies are in a far weaker position. The Saudis can do politics, but have a poor record of organizing insurgencies. In the days when they were just part of a larger pro-American formation in the region, this didn't matter much. Uncle Sam took care of keeping the really bad guys at bay. But Uncle Sam isn' t quite there anymore.
This leaves Israel, the undeclared ally, as the only element with both the will and the ability to effectively deploy force against the Iranians and their allies, as it has demonstrated at least five times over the skies of Syria in the past year. Which means that if the U.S. and the West really are determined to disengage, then the stage is set for a three-bloc fight for the regional crown. This fight and its outcome will define the Middle East in the era following the long Pax Americana that held sway from 1973 til sometime around now.
**Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Increased Drug Trafficking from Iran,Ankara's Challenges
by Behsat Ekici and Ali Unlu
Middle East Quarterly/Fall 2013, pp. 41-48
The past decade has seen a dramatic improvement in Turkish-Iranian economic relations, culminating in a 2007 memorandum of understanding on the transfer of Iranian and Turkmen natural gas to Europe via Turkey, and the 2009 treaty for cooperation in air, land, and sea transportation. This led to the rapid expansion of bilateral trade by 30 percent with the number of Iranians visiting Turkey growing by 118 percent and the number of Iranian vehicles entering Turkey rising by 66 percent.[1] And while bilateral relations have somewhat soured as a result of the Syrian civil war, with Tehran backing the Assad regime and Ankara supporting the rebels, economic interaction has remained largely intact.[2]
The growing border porosity and unchecked movement of people has, however, kindled fears of serious security challenges, including an escalation in terrorism and transnational crime.[3] Pointing to Iran's role as both a major production center of methamphetamine and a transit route for Afghan opiates, security experts have argued that economic integration and free movement could spur drug trafficking and increase collaboration between transnational organized crime syndicates.[4]
How well-founded are these concerns? Has the Turkish-Iranian economic integration led to a significant increase in drug trafficking across the joint border? And how did the nature of drug trafficking and interdictions of drug enforcement agencies change over the course of the transition process?
Trade agreements can inadvertently facilitate drug trafficking due to exploitation of the free movement of goods, vehicles, and passengers. Turkish police report that the overall volume of drug seizures from Iranians has increased significantly subsequent to the 2007 Iran-Turkey memorandum of understanding.
Trade Expansion and Drug Trafficking
The dilemma of balancing free trade and national security has captured the attention of many scholars in the post-9/11 era. According to these analysts, the threat posed by terrorists and organized crime syndicates could undercut, and potentially outweigh, the possible positive outcomes of economic-integration processes.[5] In particular, drug-trafficking syndicates may exploit the opportunities presented by free trade as the increasing numbers of international containers and travelers make it extremely difficult to devote appropriate time to security checks at the borders.[6] Beyond the risks associated with the international flow of goods, several analysts have argued that the free movement of capital also functions as a catalyst for laundering the proceeds of illicit drug trade.[7]
On the other hand, there are those who claim that the benefits of the free-trade regime outweigh associated security costs. Laissez-faire economists oppose strict security controls on foreign trade because they perceive free trade as an essential requirement for economic development.[8] Some have argued that no strong evidence exists on the catalyzing impact of trade openness on trans-border drug trade.[9] Others maintain that enhancing trade relations may pave the way for greater cooperation among the security agencies. Economist Patrick Clawson and political analyst Rensselaer W. Lee suggested that enhanced cooperation may strengthen institutional capacities of the drug enforcement agencies and overcome the negative impacts of trade openness.[10]
While governments often seek trade expansion and economic integration with surrounding states for the common good, trade agreements can inadvertently facilitate drug trafficking due to exploitation of the free movement of goods, vehicles, and passengers.
Implications of Expansion of Turkish-Iranian Economic Relations
This was clearly the case with Turkey. Over the years, it has been involved in various economic integration projects, including the Economic Cooperation Organization (1985), the Black Sea Economic Cooperation initiative (1992), and the European Union Customs Union (1995).[11] The AKP government, which came to power in 2002, has been an avid proponent of regional economic integration and elimination of trade barriers and has signed free-trade agreements and adopted a free visa regime with potential regional trade partners. In this context, Ankara and Tehran signed two comprehensive energy and trade agreements in 2007 and 2008, and top executives in both states promised to increase the volume of bilateral trade to $20 billion within the immediate future.[12]
These efforts to promote regional economic integration have had a significant impact on Turkish-Iranian trade. From 2005 through 2010 (the period studied in this article), annual bilateral trade increased 144 percent from $4.4 billion to $10.7 billon (see Figure 1). Turkish exports in the same period increased from $913 million to $3 billion, with imports growing from $3.47 billion to $7.45 billion. The aggregate trade in the post-entente period (2008-10) was significantly higher than its precursor. The total trade at that time was $19.1 billion which increased 27 percent to $26.4 billion. Over 95 percent of Turkey's imports from Iran were in the form of energy, mainly petroleum and natural gas, while exports were mainly in the form of electronics and other finished goods.
Increasing economic integration can also be gauged by the number of passengers and vehicles coming out of Iran. The number of Iranian passengers entering Turkey increased 96 percent (from 957,245 to 1,885,097) from 2004 to 2010 while the number of vehicles entering Turkish territory from Iran increased 102 percent. In aggregate, the number of passengers was 53 percent higher and the number of vehicles 50 percent higher in the post-entente period.[13]
One of the more interesting findings was that close to a million Iranians did not return home after their arrival in Turkey. Many stayed on, living as illegal aliens and often engaging in drug related crimes. The Turkish Department of Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime (Kaçakçılık ve Organize Suçlarla Mücadele Dairesi Başkanlığı, KOM) reported in 2011 that Iranians constituted the largest group (34 percent) of foreign nationals involved in drug trafficking in Turkey that year. In the previous decade, Iranians were also the dominant foreign group in drug trafficking.[14]
KOM investigations revealed that the trucks transporting legal goods to Iran were often exploited to bring drugs into Turkey and that the number of vehicles confiscated from drug trafficking increased 31 fold between 2005 and 2010.[15] The bulk of these vehicles carrying heroin, methamphetamine, and cannabis came from Iran. The number of vehicles in the post-entente period confiscated by the KOM for drug trafficking charges was almost six times higher than the earlier triennial period studied. It should also be noted that although KOM seizures do not represent the entire Turkish national figures, they do represent the vast majority of drug related information in Turkey. Nonetheless, the general trend lines indicate that economic integration spurred the number of border crossings by land vehicles, and a significant portion of these vehicles were used for drug trafficking.
An Expanding Drug Trade
In 2009, Turkey's imports and total trade volume declined sharply due largely to energy supply disruptions (see Figure 1), yet Turkish law enforcement agencies seized a record level (16 tons) of heroin coming out of Iran.[16] The authors studied six years: 2005-2007 (before entente) and 2008-2010 (after). During these years, 361 operations were classified as Iran-related, international drug-trafficking cases with at least one Iranian suspect arrested in each incident. In these operations, 1,294 people were involved in drug trafficking; of the traffickers, 578 were Iranians, 671 Turks, and 45 of other nationalities.
Heroin constituted the highest proportion of drug seizures (45.7 percent) while the second most frequently seized drug was opium, followed by cannabis and methamphetamine. (See Table 1.) Transnational crime syndicates used various concealment and transshipment methods. Seizures on the courier's body were most common, followed by seizures from residences and vehicles. Among the 361 interdictions, 23.5 percent were linked to organized crime groups while 76.5 percent were classified as individual-level drug trafficking attempts.
All in all, law-enforcement units seized 746 kilograms (kg) of heroin, 555 kg of cannabis, 305 kg of opium, and 21 kg of morphine base in 2005-07, but the number of heroin seizures doubled during the second term to 1,539 kg. While there was also a sharp decrease in cannabis and opium seizures, methamphetamine began to appear mainly after 2008 and increased sharply thereafter. The international trafficking trend moved from inexpensive drugs such as cannabis toward more expensive drugs such as methamphetamine and heroin.
The number of counter-narcotics operations by Turkish law enforcement agencies targeting Iranian syndicates increased regularly over the six year period with the total number of operations rising 11 percent from the pre-entente period. Of the 495 suspects arrested in the first period studied, 239 were Iranian, 241 Turks, and 15 were from other nations. Of the 799 suspects in the second period, 339 were Iranians, 430 were Turks, and 30 were other nationalities. While the number of operations did not change dramatically in the two periods, a significantly higher number of people were involved in drug trafficking in 2008-2010. The case file analysis indicated that transnational drug networks planned more sophisticated trafficking schemes in the post-entente period, thus necessitating a greater numbers of actors.
The volume of the trafficked drugs and the transportation methods used display the growing capabilities of drug-trafficking networks. In general, higher volume is a sign of a network's greater capacity. The amount of drugs found in each seizure also changed between the two periods: Seizures below 250 grams fell while seizures above 5,000 grams rose. In 2008-2010, traffickers tended to carry drugs in higher volumes, which in turn, required more space and carrying capacity.
The amount of drugs carried is closely related to the methods of transportation available between production sites and consumption markets. In general, route longevity and border-control rigidity have an impact on drug shipment quantities. While drugs on couriers' bodies constituted the primary method of trafficking between Iran and Turkey in both periods, case file analysis shows this method decreased in the later post-entente period. As expected, due to eased restrictions, the use of motor vehicles for trafficking rose. There was a marked decrease in drug trafficking through concealment in goods (the personal belongings of passengers), which may, in turn, reflect the ease by which drugs could now flow in through vehicles and freight.
When border controls are tight, traffickers are more likely to recruit drug couriers who can carry no more than 5 or 6 kilos regardless of the carrying methods (e.g., wrapping, swallowing, and inside luggage).[17] For larger scale trafficking activities, the crime syndicates need to calculate the risks at customs, provide appropriate documentation, and use vehicles that require more space for smooth transition at the borders. The content analysis of the case files indicated that the economic integration and higher trade volumes provided ample opportunities to conceal drugs within the legal freight between Iran and Turkey.
The research further shows that the percentage of suspects linked to a criminal group in 2005-07 increased in the second study period (see Table 2). These findings can be explained two ways and are not mutually exclusive. First, law enforcement increased its operational capacity and was able to identify more criminal groups through investigations. Nevertheless, criminal groups expanded their capacity and used more sophisticated connections for drug trafficking.
The success of law enforcement is partially determined by its information gathering. The use of intelligence-based analyses increased from 3 percent to 24.9 percent in the second triennial period allowing law-enforcement personnel to identify more connections between Iranian and Turkish criminal groups. Turkish law enforcement agencies have long used domestic intelligence to combat drug traffickers. The upsurge in drug trafficking, however, would call for greater cooperation with Iranian drug-enforcement agencies.
The success of routine law-enforcement controls and officers' risk analysis played greater roles during the second term. On the flipside, the use of informants decreased in the second term (Table 2). Routine controls at borders are managed by regular police or customs officers, who have no advanced training in drug interdictions. A significant increase in drug seizures at the borders is an indicator of increasing volume of drug trafficking between Iran and Turkey.
Comparing the number of Iranians involved in trafficking across the two terms, the study found that 73.3 percent of arrested Iranians in the first term worked alone, which decreased in the second term. Expressed differently, Iranians were more likely to have associates in the post-entente period. (See Table 3.)
Table 3: Iranians and People Involved in Trafficking
Periods of operations
First Period Second Period
percent N percent N
Iranian People in Trafficking1
1 person 73.7 126 56.8 108
2 people 19.9 34 26.8 51
3 people 3.5 6 7.4 14
4 people 1.8 3 5.8 11
5 and more 1.2 2 3.2 6
Number of People in Trafficking2
1 person 48.0 82 32.1 61
2 people 24.0 41 26.8 51
3 people 9.4 16 11.6 22
4 people 1.8 3 6.8 13
5 people 2.9 5 5.3 10
6 people 3.5 6 4.2 8
7 and more 10.5 18 13.2 25
1 X2= 13,594; df = 4; p = .009
2 X2= 13,498; df = 6; p = .036
The total number of actors involved in trafficking, regardless of nationality, also rose. The study indicates that the nature of drug trafficking has changed: More people became involved and had more complex relationships, connecting different ethnic groups into a single criminal task.
Ankara's burgeoning trade relations with Tehran over the past decade have significantly worsened its drug problem. While Iranians were long considered the principal ethnic group in Turkey engaged in drug-related crimes, their activity has significantly widened as a result of the 2007 memorandum of understanding with Iranian transnational syndicates stepping more aggressively into the fray and the overall volume of drug seizures from Iranians rising sharply.
In addition to the existing opiate and cannabis trades, drug traffickers began to exploit new substances such as methamphetamine. This broadening repertoire indicates that Iran has become a significant source or transit destination for drugs. Turkish law-enforcement agencies seized substantially larger amounts of drugs even from the non-Iranian crime syndicates, but with 80 percent of the methamphetamine seizures involving Iranian individuals, it is hard not to conclude that Iranian nationals are overseeing the bulk of methamphetamine trafficking across Turkey.
This state of affairs notwithstanding, Turkish-Iranian security cooperation remains surprisingly limited, with drug enforcement agencies rarely sharing actionable intelligence and no joint operations carried out. The KOM has conducted 166 international controlled interceptions, but none were performed with Iranian counterparts. Turkish and Iranian agencies should enhance information exchange and execute joint operations to compensate for the negative impacts of the open-border policy.
Over the past three years, illicit drug trade from Iran to Turkey has diversified with significant quantities of methamphetamine and cannabis trafficked apart from heroin. As a result, Tehran has become the main source of methamphetamine targeting the Asia-Pacific region: According to KOM statistics, a total of 2.2 tons of heroin, 570 kg methamphetamine, and over 10 tons of cannabis were seized from Iranian nationals between 2010 and 2012. The traffickers exploit Turkish licit trade arrangements with both Iranian and Asia-Pacific markets as the free-visa regime allows recruitment of abundant couriers by the transnational crime syndicates. This, in turn, necessitates that Ankara and Tehran enhance the capacity of the Drugs and Organized Crime Coordination Unit of the Economic Cooperation Organization to overcome the unintended consequences of regional economic integration.
This issue has broader policy implications for the international community. While governments have a legitimate imperative to seek ways of enhancing the economic well-being of their citizens, they would do well to remember that economic integration can have adverse security implications as free trade may facilitate the operations of transnational criminal organizations and expand black markets. Additionally, trans-border criminal enterprises and underground financial transactions could blunt the impact of sanctions placed on Iran.
A major limitation in data gathering for this article has been the dearth of statements from convicts about the influence of free-trade agreements on their motivation and on drug trafficking in general. In the existing interviewing system, criminals are often asked about their own roles, their cooperators, vehicles, and the whereabouts of the activities and modes of operation, but only a limited number of interviewees claimed that free-trade agreements had been a major catalyst for their drug-trafficking activities. A further difficulty is the lack of information about the volume of non-interdicted narcotics. Law enforcement agencies cannot come up with a ratio of interdicted to non-interdicted drugs while transnational crime syndicates may use alternative routes when confronted with intensified counter-narcotics measures. Global structural shifts in heroin markets can also have defining effect on seizures. The rise of the Russian market and the downsizing of consumption in Europe may shift the heroin routes and reduce the abuse of licit trade by traffickers along the traditional Balkan route.[18]
Behsat Ekici is a superintendent at Turkey's Central Narcotics Division of the Department of Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime and teaches at the Institute of Security Studies in Ankara. Ali Unlu is a superintendent at the Narcotics Division of the Istanbul Police Department and head of its Drug Prevention and Monitoring Unit.
[1] Turkish Institute of Statistics, Turkish Ministry of Customs, Ankara, 2013, accessed Jan. 21, 2013; "Araç Istatistikleri," Turkish Ministry of Customs, Ankara, 2013, accessed Jan. 21, 2013. The economic integration process has been institutionalized by the Economic Cooperation Organization based in Tehran.
[2] Other disagreements, such as the deployment of NATO antimissile systems on Turkish soil, had limited effect on the bilateral relationship as Ankara has emerged as a major economic provider for Iran since 2011 when the international sanctions began to bite seriously. See Nadar Habibi, "Turkey and Iran: Growing Economic Relations Despite Western Sanctions," Middle East Brief, Brandeis University, Crown Center for Middle East Studies, May 2012.
[3] Behsat Ekici, Is Turkey Realigning? A Three Dimensional Investigation of Turkish Iranian Security Rapprochement (Saarbrücken: Lam and Lambert Publishing, 2012), p. 61.
[4] Peter Andreas and Ethan Nadelmann, Policing the Globe: Criminalization and Crime Control in International Relations (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 37; Ekici, Is Turkey Realigning? p. 292; Annual Drug Report 2012 (Ankara: Department of Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Publications [hereafter, KOM], Turkish Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction [hereafter, TUBIM], 2012), pp. 58, 147; Phil Williams, "Cooperation among Criminal Organizations," in Mats Berdal and Monica Serrano, eds., Transnational Organized Crime and International Security: Business as Usual (Boulder: Lyenne Rienner, 2002), p. 75.
[5] See, for example, Raymond W. Baker, Capitalism's Achilles Heel: Dirty Money and How to Renew the Free-Market System (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley and Sons, 2005), p. 183; Berdal and Serrano, Transnational Organized Crime and International Security, p. 49; Phil Williams, Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents: Organized Crime in Iraq (Carlisle, Pa.: U.S. Army War College Press, Strategic Studies Institute, 2009), p. 221; Thomas R. Naylor, Wages of Crime: Black Markets, Illegal Finance, and the Underworld Economy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002), p. 44.
[6] "Container Control Programme," U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, New York, and World Customs Organization, Brussels, June 2009.
[7] Baker, Capitalism's Achilles Heel, p. 48; William F. Wechsler, "Follow the Money," Foreign Affairs, July/Aug. 2001, pp. 40-57.
[8] Joseph E. Stiglitz and Andrew Charlton, Fair Trade for All: How Trade Can Promote Development (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), chap. 13; Jacques Delors, "European Integration and Security," Survival, Mar./Apr. 1991, pp. 99-109.
[9] Horace A. Bartilow and Kibong Eom, "Free Traders and Drug Smugglers: The Effect of Trade Openness on States' Ability to Combat Drug Trafficking," Latin American Politics and Society, 2 (2009), p. 122.
[10] Patrick Clawson and Rensselaer W. Lee, The Andean Cocaine Industry (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996), p. 250.
[11] Nihal Yıldırım Mızrak, Dünya Ekonomisinde Bütünleşme Hareketleri ve Türkiye (Ankara: Siyasal Kitabevi, 2005), chap. 1.
[12] Ekici, Is Turkey Realigning? p. 218.
[13] Ministry of Customs and Turkish Institute for Statistics Turkish Institute of Statistics, Turkish Ministry of Customs, Ankara, 2013, accessed Jan. 21, 2013.
[14] Behsat Ekici and Salim Ozbay, "Iranian Methamphetamine and Turkey: An Emerging Transnational Threat," Trends in Organized Crime, 10.1007/s12117-013-9204-6, 2013, p. 2.
[15] KOM, MNS (Mali, Narkotik, Silah) database, accessed July 15, 2013.
[16] Annual Drug Report 2011 (Ankara: KOM, TUBIM, 2011), p. 152; Kaçakçılık ve Organize Suçlarla Mücadele: 2010 Raporu (Ankara: KOM Yayınlar Dairesi Başkanlığı, 2010), p. 10.
[17] Ali Unlu and Ugur Evcin, "Sosyo-Ekonomik Ve Çevresel Faktörlerin Sokak Satıcıları Üzerindeki Etkileri: Istanbul'da Kesitsel Bir Çalışma," Polis Bilimleri Dergisi, 2 (2011), pp. 29-48; Ali Unlu and Behsat Ekici, "The Extent to which Demographic Characteristics Determine International Drug Couriers' Profiles: A Cross-Sectional Study in Istanbul," Trends in Organized Crime, Dec. 2012, pp. 296-312.
[18] The Global Afghan Opium Trade: A Threat Assessment (Vienna: U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, 2011).
Related Topics: Criminality, Iran, Turkey and Turks | Fall 2013 MEQ
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