LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation for today/Our
Victory over the World
01John 05/01-05: "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Messiah is a child of God; and whoever loves a father loves his child also. This is how we know that we love God's children: it is by loving God and obeying his commands. For our love for God means that we obey his commands. And his commands are not too hard for us, because every child of God is able to defeat the world. And we win the victory over the world by means of our faith. Who can defeat the world? Only the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For November 27/13
Lebanon’s Sunni-Shi’ite ‘Sushi’/By: Diana Moukalled /Asharq Alawsat/November
Iran, the West and the Rest/By: Mshari Al-Zaydi/Asharq Alawsat/November 27/13
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For
Lebanese Related News
Suleiman Hails Iran Nuclear Deal, Hopes it Will Improve Ties between Regional Countries
Al-Rahi: Reports about My Resignation Are Lies and We Apologized to the Vatican
Al-Jadeed Crew Freed after being Beaten, Detained by Customs Agents in Downtown Beirut
Saniora Urges Dialogue on Deploying Army on Border, Hizbullah's 'Return to the State
Aoun Demands Miqati to Leave the Grand Serail, Blames Universities for Students' Clashes
STL Trial Chamber to Hold Second Pre-Trial Conference ahead of January Trial
Hizbullah on USJ Incident: Those Who Were Politically Defeated are Creating Incitement
Report: Abu Dahr Entered Lebanon with his ID Two Months Prior to Iran Embassy Attack
Report: Army Monitored Bekaa Car Bomb, Seized it without Any Assistance
Tripoli International Highway Briefly Blocked to Protest Transfer of Inmate
Lebanon Cannabis Trade Thrives in Shadow of Syrian War
Army Intervenes after LF-Marada Fistfight at LU's Law Faculty in Jal el-Dib
Miscellaneous Reports And News
Pope attacks 'tyranny' of markets, urges renewal in key document
Putin, Pope Back Negotiated Solution to Syria Conflict
Iran nuclear deal bears Obama's personal stamp
Netanyahu shifts to backroom diplomacy on Iran deal
Livni: Israel must advance peace talks to help Iran deal
Sunni Arab unease about Iran deal runs deep
Iran ready to join Syria peace talks if invited: Zarif
Free Syrian Army says will not halt fighting for Geneva 2 talks
France Says Syria Peace Talks to Take Place without Assad
Syria Opposition Says No Role for Assad in Transition
Yemen Shooting Victims Came from Belarus, Not Russia
U.S. Warns Karzai it May Leave No Troops in Afghanistan
Obama, Senate spar over new Iran sanctions threats
Pope-Putin Visit: Is church détente in the works?
Syria polio cases spread to Damascus and Aleppo: WHO
Israel, EU agree on scientific cooperation: Israeli official
Analysis: Nuclear deal faces hard-line test
Netanyahu Should Remember: Obama is a Friend
Nuclear Deal Only Strengthens Iran As Regional Power
Former Hostages React to Iran Nuclear Deal
Iran Deal Won't Mean More Oil in Global Market
STL Trial Chamber to Hold Second
Pre-Trial Conference ahead of January Trial
Naharnet Newsdesk 26 November 2013/The Trial Chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will hold a second Pre-Trial Conference on Monday, December 2, in preparation for the start of the trial in the Ayyash et al. Case, it announced in a statement on Tuesday. The Pre-Trial Conference, which will be public, will begin at 3 p.m. Beirut time. The Trial Chamber may decide to go into closed session if confidential matters need to be discussed, said the STL statement. This Pre-Trial Conference is aimed at preparing for the start of trial on January 13, 2014. It follows a previous one held on October 29. The STL is tackling the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005. In 2011, four Hizbullah members, Mustafa Amin Badreddine, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, and Assad Hassan Sabra, were indicted in the attack. A fifth Hizbullah suspect, Hassan Habib Merhi, was indicted in 2013. The STL had urged the Lebanese authorities to apprehend the suspects, but they have failed. The suspects will likely be tried in absentia. Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has rejected the STL, describing it as an American-Israeli product bent on destroying the party. He has vowed never to cooperate with the tribunal, saying that the suspects will never be found.
Hizbullah on USJ Incident: Those Who
Were Politically Defeated are Creating Incitement
Naharnet Newsdesk 26 November 2013/Hizbullah MP Hassan Fadlallah criticized on Tuesday the politicization of the incident at Universite Saint Joseph at the Huvelin neighborhood in Beirut on Monday.
He said during a press conference: “Those who have been defeated on the political scene are taking out their frustrations and creating incitement through the USJ incident.”“They will continue to take out their frustrations against Hizbullah and create incitement whenever they suffer regional setbacks,” he said. “Illusory problems were created at USJ on Monday,” he remarked. The MP explained that the tensions arose when students where being harassed and prevented from expressing themselves, so they were forced to leave the campus and stage a sit-in outside its doors. Media reports had said that Hizbullah supporters had surrounded the campus in protest against last week's student elections results. Phalange MP Sami Gemayel on Monday said that the tensions were sparked after Hizbullah supporters wrote graffiti on the campus praising Habib al-Shartouni, who assassinated former President Bashir Gemayel in 1982. “The USJ administration denied claims that the university campus was surrounded,” continued Fadlallah. “Tensions are normal between students and we didn't see the need for political intervention,” he noted “The tensions were fueled however after political meddling that incited the students against each other,” he added. “The students are Lebanese. They are not thugs or blind followers as they have been described by some officials,” he said in an indirect reference to MP Sami Gemayel and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea's respective press conferences on Monday to address the USJ incident.
“Such remarks reveal the political culture of such officials. Is this the culture of mutual coexistence, diversity, and dialogue?” wondered Fadlallah. “Such remarks are a sign of political fascism, which we reject,” he stressed. “USJ is not affiliated with any party and no one has the right to claim otherwise,” he declared. The MP accused officials of political meddling and of seeking to create political and sectarian incitement. “What does incitement serve?” he asked. He therefore urged students to reject incitement and avoid dragging political disputes to the classroom. The incident at USJ on Monday resulted in a standoff between Hizbullah and March 14 camp supporters.
The army and security forces intervened to avoid any escalation and unrest.Classes at USJ Huvelin on Tuesday have been suspended.
Report: Abu Dahr Entered Lebanon with
his ID Two Months Prior to Iran Embassy Attack
Naharnet Newsdesk 26 November 2013/One of the suicide bombers behind the attack against the Iranian embassy in Beirut last week had arrived in Lebanon from Kuwait two months ago, reported An Nahar daily on Tuesday. It said that Moein Abu Dahr spent the two months residing in Lebanon and Syria and that he entered the countries using his identification card. Investigations also revealed that he had held a telephone conversation with an inmate at Roumieh prison, who was arrested over his links to unrest in the Abra neighborhood in the southern city of Sidon in June. The other suicide bomber, Adnan al-Mohammed, was a Palestinian resident of Ain el-Hilweh. Investigations also revealed that the Abu Dahr and Mohammed had been indicted by the military judiciary for their links to the Abra clashes. They were supporters of Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir, but not prominent members of his following, it explained. Supporters of the cleric were involved in clashes with the army in Abra in June. Eighteen soldiers were martyred and 20 others were wounded in the attack and in the fierce clashes that ensued. Twenty of Asir's gunmen were also killed in the fighting. The fighting in Abra was among the worst in Lebanon since the outbreak of conflict in neighboring Syria 27 months ago deepened sectarian tensions. Asir, a 45-year-old cleric who supports the overwhelmingly Sunni rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, is wanted by the Lebanese authorities and has been missing ever since the army defeated his supporters in Abra. Twenty-five people were killed and over 140 wounded in twin suicide bombing near the Iranian embassy in the Bir Hassan neighborhood of Beirut on November 19. An al-Qaida-affiliated group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that it was aimed at pressuring Hizbullah to withdraw its fighters from Syria.
Report: Army Monitored Bekaa Car Bomb,
Seized it without Any Assistance
Naharnet Newsdesk 26 November 2013/The Lebanese army had monitored the movement of the black Buick rigged with around 350 kilograms of explosives and seized it without any help offered by any side, media reports said on Tuesday. According to As Safir newspaper, a security source denied reports saying that a specific party helped the army in seizing the explosive-laden car. On Friday, the army defused the Buick vehicle, which was located between the towns of Maqne and Younine in eastern Bekaa, and rigged with a large quantity of explosives. The source told As Safir that investigations are ongoing, pointing out that key details were uncovered. An Nahar newspaper reported on Monday that the assailants of the explosive-rigged vehicle have been arrested by Hizbullah. The army command has said in a terse communique that the car was seized by soldiers, without giving further details although media reports said the car was also carrying mortar rounds and a high-tech remote control that triggers the explosives through a phone or a suicide bomber. Despite the conflicting reports, An Nahar confirmed that the Buick was heading to Beirut through the international Baalbek-Homs highway.
Lebanon Cannabis Trade Thrives in Shadow of Syrian War
Naharnet Newsdesk 26 November 2013/Lebanese marijuana grower Abu Sami is practically rubbing his hands together with glee: the Syrian conflict has paralyzed authorities at home and left the nearby border virtually uncontrolled. "This year, the harvest was abundant, and the authorities have left us alone because they are otherwise occupied," he tells Agence France Presse in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa region. In the past, the Lebanese army would descend annually to destroy some of the illicit crop, but this year the harvest has gone untouched. The area shares a long, porous border with Syria and is a stronghold of Hizbullah, which is fighting alongside the Syrian regime against a 32-month-old uprising. After the harvest in Abu Sami's bucolic village, at the foot of an arid mountain, marijuana is brought to buildings where it is dried and processed into hashish.
All along the winding roads of the Shiite hamlet, men and women work on the crop behind half-closed curtains, and defend the industry as their only source of employment. During Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, Lebanese hashish, which is known for its quality, fed a flourishing industry that generated hundreds of millions of dollars a year in income. Hashish is a cannabis product derived from the resin of the plant, and produced in large quantities in the Bekaa. Under pressure from the United States, Lebanon has launched eradication campaigns, and in past years, the army bulldozed thousands of hectares of cannabis. Farmers have often taken up arms to defend their crop -- growers fired a rocket at an eradication team in 2012 -- and call for the legislation of what they say is part of their ancestral culture. But this year, there's been no sign of the army. "The state is immersed in problems related to Syria and doesn't want to open a new front. Otherwise they would have come down hard on us," says Afif, a villager. Government officials admit as much. "There was no destruction of growing this year... The Syrian crisis played a major role in that," Joseph Skaff, chief of Lebanon's office for countering drugs, money laundering and terrorism, told AFP. For Abu Sami, Afif and others working in the industry, Lebanon's instability and the war raging in Syria are blessings in disguise. 'Where there is war, drugs follow'In a bid to stem the flow of fighters and weapons from Lebanon, Syria has replaced its border guards with army troops who are too busy fighting to patrol. And routes back and forth across the border to Syria have increased as refugees and rebels chart new paths.
"Nowadays, anything goes because it's chaos on the Syrian side," says Abu Sami. "Where there is war, drugs follow," he adds, contemplating a mound of sifted golden brown cannabis grains on the floor of a shed.
A few meters (yards) away, the leftover stems are burnt to remove any trace of the activity. The farmers say local and foreign demand for their crop is up more than 50 percent in the last year, with "the majority of the merchandise being sold in Syria," which has become a crossroads for drugs destined for Europe and elsewhere. According to Abu Ali, a local resident, traffickers from Syria buy 30 to 100 kilograms to take on to neighboring countries. "From Turkey, they sell to European traffickers, and from Iraq and Jordan, they sell it to the Gulf countries," he says. "Even though it's risky, 40 grammes that would sell for $20 in Lebanon will be sold for $100 in Syria and for $500 when it arrives in Turkey. "There are also fighters in Syria that buy in small quantities for their own consumption," he adds. The prices are high, but the abundance of the crop this year has pushed them down. A kilogram that used to fetch $1,000 now sells for $500. No one wants to comment on the role of Hizbullah, which publicly opposes the drug trade but is accused by critics of turning a blind eye to the thriving industry in one of its strongholds. The trade has also drawn in Syrian refugees in Lebanon, including Ibrahim, who left his beet field in the Kurdish area of Afrin in northern Aleppo province and produces hashish in Abu Sami's village.
"Because of the war, the number of Syrians working here has doubled," the 32-year-old says, his voice nearly drowned out by the sound of the sifting machine he operates for around 12 hours a day.
"It's very profitable," says Samer, another Syrian from Afrin, who says he makes $33 a day, instead of the $13 he was earning in a Beirut vegetable market. Local residents fiercely defend their illicit activity. "It supports entire families," says Afif, a father of three, who says his two hectares bring in tens of thousands of dollars a year. The most skilled traffickers can reportedly haul in $1.5 million a year. "Here there's not a plant that survives except hashish. It's a gift from God. Can we oppose God?" Afif asks with a laugh. SourceAgence France Presse.
Free Syrian Army says will not halt
fighting for Geneva 2 talks
Reuters – BEIRUT (Reuters) - The head of the Free Syrian Army said on Tuesday that rebel forces loyal to him would not join a planned peace conference in Switzerland in January and would continue their fight to topple President Bashar al-Assad throughout the talks. "Conditions are not suitable for running the Geneva 2 talks at the given date, and we, as a military and revolutionary force, will not participate in the conference," General Salim Idriss told the pan-Arab news channel Al Jazeera. "We will not stop combat at all during the Geneva conference or after it, and what concerns us is getting needed weapons for our fighters." (Reporting by Erika Solomon; Editing by Alison Williams)
Iran ready to join Syria peace talks
if invited: Zarif
Reuters – DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that Tehran was prepared to take part in the Syria peace talks in Geneva, slated for January 22, if invited. "Participation of Iran in Geneva 2 is in our view an important contribution to the resolution of the problem. We have said all along that if Iran is invited, we will participate without any preconditions," Zarif told Iran's Press TV. Iran is the main backer, along with Russia, of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a conflict that has lasted more than two years, killed more than 100,000 people and uprooted millions more. Tehran's participation in the peace talks would likely strengthen any agreement reached in Geneva. But for Western governments, Iran's reluctance to endorse last year's international accord on Syria has been a bar to its attendance at the talks, widely referred to as "Geneva 2".
Washington has opposed Iran attending the talks because it has not signed on to a core element of the so-called "Geneva 1" framework. This says a future Syrian government must be formed by "mutual consent" of the authorities and the opposition, a stance the United States says means Assad cannot stay in power. But relations between Iran and Washington, frozen for decades, have improved sharply since the election in June of President Hassan Rouhani who promised to pursue a policy of "constructive engagement" with the West in order to win relief from international sanctions over Iran's nuclear program. At the same time, however, Iran has maintained its unswerving support for the Assad government. Zarif said resolving the Syria crisis was an issue of "national importance" for Iran and whether invited or not, Tehran would continue to work for a peaceful solution.
He also denied reports that Syria was discussed during Iran's nuclear talks with six world powers in Geneva last week. (Reporting by Isabel Coles; Writing by Yara Bayoumy and Jon Hemming; Editing by Gareth Jones)
Pope attacks 'tyranny' of markets, urges renewal in key document
By Naomi O'Leary
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis called for renewal of the Roman Catholic Church and attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny", urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff. The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March. In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the "idolatry of money" and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens "dignified work, education and healthcare". He also called on rich people to share their wealth. "Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills," Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday. "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses 2 points?" The pope said renewal of the Church could not be put off and said the Vatican and its entrenched hierarchy "also need to hear the call to pastoral conversion". "I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security," he wrote. In July, Francis finished an encyclical begun by Pope Benedict but he made clear that it was largely the work of his predecessor, who resigned in February. Called "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), the exhortation is presented in Francis' simple and warm preaching style, distinct from the more academic writings of former popes, and stresses the Church's central mission of preaching "the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ". In it, he reiterated earlier statements that the Church cannot ordain women or accept abortion. The male-only priesthood, he said, "is not a question open to discussion" but women must have more influence in Church leadership.
A meditation on how to revitalize a Church suffering from encroaching secularization in Western countries, the exhortation echoed the missionary zeal more often heard from the evangelical Protestants who have won over many disaffected Catholics in the pope's native Latin America. In it, economic inequality features as one of the issues Francis is most concerned about, and the 76-year-old pontiff calls for an overhaul of the financial system and warns that unequal distribution of wealth inevitably leads to violence. "As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems," he wrote. Denying this was simple populism, he called for action "beyond a simple welfare mentality" and added: "I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor." Since his election, Francis has set an example for austerity in the Church, living in a Vatican guest house rather than the ornate Apostolic Palace, travelling in a Ford Focus, and last month suspending a bishop who spent millions of euros on his luxurious residence.He chose to be called "Francis" after the medieval Italian saint of the same name famed for choosing a life of poverty. Stressing cooperation among religions, Francis quoted the late Pope John Paul II's idea that the papacy might be reshaped to promote closer ties with other Christian churches and noted lessons Rome could learn from the Orthodox such as "synodality" or decentralized leadership. He praised cooperation with Jews and Muslims and urged Islamic countries to guarantee their Christian minorities the same religious freedom as Muslims enjoy in the West. (Editing by Tom Heneghan and Alison Williams)
Iran nuclear deal bears Obama's personal stamp
By REUTERS 11/26/2013/WASHINGTON - When push came to shove
in the closing hours of marathon negotiations in Geneva on Iran's nuclear
program, it was President Barack Obama, back at the White House, who approved
the final language on the US side before the historic deal was clinched.It was
perhaps only fitting that Obama had the last say. His push for a thaw with
Tehran, a longtime US foe, dates back to before his presidency, and no other
foreign policy issue bears his personal stamp more since he took office in early
2009. Related: Obama defends Iran nuclear agreement, pans 'tough talk' of deal's
criticsSome fear nuclear deal with Iran may intensify sectarian tensions in
Middle EastBehind the risky diplomatic opening is a desire for a big
legacy-shaping achievement and a deep aversion to getting America entangled in
another Middle East conflict - motives that override misgivings to the Iran deal
expressed by close allies Israel and Saudi Arabia. That may explain why Obama,
even as he left the troubleshooting to Secretary of State John Kerry and gave
him much of the credit for securing the diplomatic coup, has taken "ownership"
of the Iran issue like no other. His engagement - both in private and in public
and according to aides, at a level of minute detail - is in contrast to a more
aloof approach as Egypt came under military rule and Syria descended into civil
war. "It's the top item on his foreign agenda for the rest of his term," a
source close to the White House's thinking said of the Iran issue. "He doesn't
want to leave anything to chance."
The stakes are enormous for Obama. If the talks break down and Iran dashes to build an atomic bomb before the West can stop it, he could go into the history books as the president whose naivete allowed the Islamic Republic to go nuclear. The breakthrough with Iran is also worrying the many pro-Israel members of Congress, including heavyweights in his own Democratic Party like Senator Charles Schumer.
Last weekend's Iran pact - a preliminary agreement on modest sanctions relief in exchange for temporary curbs on Iran's nuclear activities - was no case of accidental diplomacy.
Obama promised to seek direct engagement with Iran and other US enemies during the 2008 presidential campaign, drawing accusations from Republicans that he was promoting appeasement.
He then used his first inaugural address in 2009 to offer to extend a hand if the Iranian leadership would "unclench their fist." After being snubbed, he galvanized international support for crippling sanctions that ultimately forced Tehran into the latest negotiations. Obama instructed his aides to arrange the historic telephone conversation he had with Iran's relatively moderate new president, Hassan Rouhani, in September, and authorized secret bilateral talks that laid the groundwork for the more formal Geneva rounds between Iran and world powers, US officials say.
On Saturday, Kerry spoke by phone to Obama from Geneva to discuss the outstanding issues in the final tense stages of negotiations, a senior State Department official said. "This went all the way up to (Obama) personally approving the final language," the official said. While it may not be unusual for Obama to cast his trained legal eye on government-to-government agreements, his close attention to the wording of the deal-in-the-making underscored the sensitivity of the breakthrough document and his determination to get it right. Once the deal was signed in Switzerland, Obama stepped in front of the cameras at the White House in a rare late-night appearance and hailed it as "an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns."It was a chance to tout a foreign policy accomplishment at a time when Obama is struggling with a flawed healthcare rollout and low approval ratings at home.
Lebanon’s Sunni-Shi’ite ‘Sushi’
By: Diana Moukalled /Asharq Alawsat
A young, modern, married couple sits calmly on a sofa with their baby between them. The father is holding up a piece of paper that reads “I am Shia” while the mother holds up one that reads “I am Sunni.” The child, sitting between his parents, is holding up a piece of paper of his own. It reads: “I am Sushi.” Many people in Lebanon have sought to promote this photo in the wake of the twin suicide bombings that targeted the Iranian Embassy in Beirut. This attack has launched an era of bloodshed and violence in Lebanon that brings Al-Qaeda to mind. Sectarian hatred surfaced in the country following the explosions, with the ugliest sectarian emotions and views being expressed. Many cheered the attack via social networking websites and many others engaged in virtual confrontations and arguments. Sectarianism appeared at its worst during this period; the same period that “I am Sushi” went viral. Many people circulated the photo but there was ultimately more concern over the sectarian insults and threats that were issued following the twin Beirut bombings. Some sadly commented saying that while the photo is beautiful it does not reflect the Arab world today. However the couple and their child’s situation is not unique; this is certainly not the first child of mixed Sunni-Shi’ite background. Last month Lebanon celebrated the birth of the first child who will carry an identity card that does not denote his sect. This child was the fruit of the first civil marriage in Lebanon. However there is a challenge at the heart of this “I am Sushi” principle today, even if some consider the term a shallow cliché. It’s a challenge because as identity crises deepen, discussing or promoting openness towards others becomes more and more difficult.
The first time that I heard the term “Sushi” in this context was two years ago in the US when I met with some nieces and relatives who described themselves as being “Sushi,” that is to say the product of a Sunni-Shi’ite marriage. I realized that the term was popular among Muslim youths in America and the West. At the time, one of my nieces smiled at me and said: “We are a new sect and the future is ours.”
However when I saw the photo of the couple and their “Sushi” child, I remembered my niece’s statement and felt dispirited. The future she had hoped for appeared to be nothing more than a mirage.
We’ve heard several Islamic Sharia court judges claim that the number of mixed marriages between Sunnis and Shi’ites have decreased, while the divorce rate is on the rise. This reflects the deep sectarian division that has struck the heart of our lives in Lebanon, whether as individuals, families, or society as a whole. While this lethal division is now being played out on social media, with the internet being used to reproduce and incite sectarianism. This shows that modern technology, if misused, can become a tool of death, not progress. Indeed, isn’t this precisely what happened when terrorists used civilian aircraft to kill innocent people?
While the “I am Sushi” photo ultimately won’t change the reality of the situation in Lebanon, it certainly is a breath of fresh air amid all this sectarian hatred.
*/*Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Isreali "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained world wide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.
Iran, the West and the Rest
By: Mshari Al-Zaydi/Asharq Alawsat
It seems that US President Barack Obama can only conclude agreements that are measured in months. He survived the political and economic crisis with the congressional Republicans by making a deal that will last only a few months, and this week he is boasting of securing an interim agreement with Iran that will end in six months. Commenting on the deal, US Secretary of State John Kerry, the eternal negotiator, said: “I believe that from this day—for the next six months—Israel is in fact safer than it was yesterday.” In order to further complicate and confuse the scene, in addition to boosting Israeli hopes, Kerry added that further action is required on Iran’s part to reach a comprehensive deal, but did not clarify just what concessions the West will ask of Tehran over the next six months. During a televised interview with CNN commenting on the Geneva nuclear deal, Kerry said that if Iran wants to develop long-term relations with the US, it must change its conduct. So, this step brings with it both hope and pain.
According to what has been published about the agreement, Iran appears to have made some economic and political gains. This includes the unfreezing of Iranian funds abroad, commitments not to impose new sanctions on its oil exports, and other economic gains. Khamenei regime needed this sanctions relief to calm public anger at the difficult economic situation in the country. In return for this, Iran offered nuclear concessions. Tehran committed to a framework that will make it very difficult for it to acquire nuclear weapons, pledging to adhere to an international nuclear inspections schedule according to specific criteria. The Iranians are skeptical, and never leave anything to chance. What does this all mean? Iran is being deliberate and delaying its military nuclear moment. The West has responded by offering funds and political recognition. So this is a preamble to an agreement, not a full agreement by any means. A full agreement requires that each party examine the other until they can come to a long-term accord. The Obama administration and the rest of the West have hailed the agreement as a political victory.
As for Iran, it also hailed the Geneva deal as a victory for the course being chartered by its supreme leader, with celebrations including some flexing of muscles and spicy discourse about the “Great Satan” intended for domestic consumption. The Arabs are, by nature, sentimentalists, and so they are taking these proclamations at face value. Iran’s regional supporters are also hailing the deal as a victory. In fact, Iraqi State of Law coalition MP Sami Al-Askari, a member of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee, claimed that the agreement represented a victory over Saudi Arabia! The Syrian Foreign Ministry thinks it should try and copy Iran’s Geneval deal in its own negotiations. So this is how the US and its allies view the deal, and how Iran and its supporters view it. How do we Arabs really feel about it?
The Iran deal won’t harm Syria’s
Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed /Asharq Alawsat
Some Syrian revolutionary figures said the Syrian public may pay the price of the nuclear agreement reached between the US and Iran in Geneva, but this is not true. I think Syria will be the last of those to be negatively affected—that is, if anyone is harmed at all. The agreement reached is a preliminary one, which is set to last six months. Based on the agreement, the US will decrease part of its economic sanctions, and, in turn, Tehran will stop part of its nuclear activity. Over the next six months, the two parties will negotiate to reach a permanent solution, or solutions—that is, if they can—to end the struggle. Nobody will pay a price during this short time, because the agreement is temporary. The agreement may not achieve results by the end of the six months, either due to Iran’s lack of seriousness or due to pressure from the US Congress. Even if a permanent agreement is reached, Syria, the Syrians and their revolution will be the last of those to be negatively affected, because the Syrian revolution is a result of internal activity and of foreign intervention. It cannot, for example, be compared with the situation in Afghanistan, because toppling the Taliban and establishing an alternative regime in Kabul were acts carried out by foreign parties. These achievements may not last once American troops leave. The situation is completely different in Syria, as the fighting erupted due to a widespread popular rejection of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. The fighting against the regime is only partially supported by foreign parties like Saudi Arabia and other countries. If this foreign support ends tomorrow—and it will not—it does not mean that the revolution will end and that the regime will survive.
My belief that Bashar Al-Assad’s regime will inevitably fall is not based on hopes or on Iran abandoning it in the future or on the increase in Gulf support to the rebels. The main reason I believe Assad will fall is because the regime no longer has the abilities that enabled it to survive and govern for the past 40 years.
The political, security and military system has crumbled. and the regime currently stands on two wooden Iranian feet, and this will not last. Another important reason is that Bashar Al-Assad, and before him his late father, portrayed themselves as Syrian nationalists in the past. The majority of the Syrian people currently view Bashar Al-Assad as a sectarian figure from a minority sect. This makes it impossible to accept a regime rejected by the Sunni majority, which constitutes 70 percent of the population. Another reason is the amount of the blood that has been shed. It cannot be compared with the amount of blood shed during the Hama events 30 years ago ,as these events were relatively limited and the regime regained strength after those events.
There are solid reasons that make it impossible for Assad’s regime—which only rules a few areas—to last. When we say it’s impossible for the Assad regime to survive, it does not mean there will be a good, patriotic alternative to replace it or even that there will be an alternative to begin with. This is another issue, because possible alternatives are not guaranteed.
Whether the Americans and the Iranians agree or not, Syria will be the last of those to be harmed. The opposite is actually true, since the Syrian revolution’s success at toppling the Assad regime will represent a grave loss for the Iranian regime and weaken it during negotiations. This will push the Iranian regime towards sealing an agreement and towards making more concessions. In the past, Iran used to count on proxies—of which the Syrian regime is the most prominent—to implement its agendas and pressure the West by threatening, blackmailing and stirring chaos. The second proxy is Hezbollah, which will be militarily weakened and besieged if the Assad regime collapses.
Iran asked to hold negotiations because sanctions are suffocating the country and it wants to decrease them. Iran’s promises may be another trick, or they may be honest. The truth is we don’t really know, but we think the American administration rushed into believing President Rouhani’s promises. Iran is suffering from a lack of spare parts for its civil aircraft, airport radars and computers. It failed to sell its oil and convert its riyals into dollars. Therefore, it wants to break the Western siege through negotiations that grant it room to breathe, and then it will strengthen itself without halting its nuclear program. This is just a possibility.