October 18/2013

Bible Quotation for today/
Strive to enter in by the narrow door
Luke13/22-30: "He went on his way through cities and villages, teaching, and traveling on to Jerusalem.  One said to him, “Lord, are they few who are saved?” He said to them,  “Strive to enter in by the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter in, and will not be able.  When once the master of the house has risen up, and has shut the door, and you begin to stand outside, and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ then he will answer and tell you, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’  He will say, ‘I tell you, I don’t know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity.’ 13:28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets, in the Kingdom of God, and yourselves being thrown outside.  They will come from the east, west, north, and south, and will sit down in the Kingdom of God.  Behold, there are some who are last who will be first, and there are some who are first who will be last.”


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For October 18/13

DEBKAfile/How Turkey shopped Mossad spies to Iran: A story leaked by Washington to caution Netanyahu/October 18/13
Turkey blows Israel’s cover for Iranian spy ring/By David Ignatius /Washington Post/October 18/13

Syria’s people deserve the chance to assert themselves/By: Amir Taheri/Asharq Alawsat/October 18/13


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For October 18/13

Lebanese Related News

Syria Rebels Kill Jamaa Jamaa, Top Intelligence Officer

Beirut Ranks 20 among World's Top Tourist Destinations

Brother of Abducted Lebanese Cameraman in Syria Demands to Know his Fate

No Cabinet without 9-9-6 formula: Hezbollah MP

Jumblat Says Paris Trip for Medical Reasons, Not Political

Qabbani in Phone Call with Al-Rahi Says Politicians Worsening Situation in Lebanon

Israeli Website Says Mustafa Badreddine Is Hizbullah's New Military Commander

Berri calls Hariri to wish him well after surgery

Beirut among top 25 best cities in the world

Ibrahim Interrupts Belgium Visit, Heads to Turkey for Talks over Aazaz Pilgrims

Aoun Meets al-Rahi, Urges Unity to Reach Lebanon's Salvation

Miscellaneous Reports And News

U.S. to Sell $10.8 bln in Missiles, Bombs to Saudis, UAE

Analysis: Turkey's unprecedented act of betrayal against Israel

Turkey Denies Tipping Off Iran about Israeli Spy Ring

Senators seek more Iran sanctions after talks

Netanyahu to meet Pope next week

US official lauds most 'intense, detailed, straightforward and candid talks' with Iran ever
Syrian Observatory: At Least 41 Killed in Kurd-Jihadist Fighting

Chemical Watchdog Says Half Syria Inspection Work Done

Turkey Shells Jihadist Positions in Syria for First Time

Syria Official Says Peace Talks Possible in November

Soccer's Impact on Middle East Politics

Suicide Bomber Kills 15 in North Iraq

Congress ends US shutdown, avoids default
Obama Signs Bill Ending U.S. Shutdown, Raising Debt Ceiling

Netanyahu: Border must remain in Jordan Valley - like Rabin said
Peres: Status quo with Palestinians cannot go on

Palestinian president invites Pope to Holy Land

Canada PM Says Close to Reaching Free Trade Deal with EU

WHO: Air pollution causes cancer



No Cabinet without 9-9-6 formula: Hezbollah MP
October 17, 2013/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: A Hezbollah MP said Thursday that a Cabinet can only be formed in the country if both rival political camps in Lebanon are granted veto power in the upcoming government.
“We are just wasting the time of the Lebanese people but eventually there will only be a 9-9-6 Cabinet formula," MP Ali Fayyad said during a graduation ceremony in south Lebanon. “Whoever thinks otherwise is delusional and will sooner or later wake up from his illusions.”Fayyad assured that no one can exclude the resistance from the Cabinet or marginalize its role at either the domestic or regional level. “The resistance is a real [power] that no one can overlook locally or regionally. No matter how some try to marginalize or narrow down [the resistance] or launch accusations against it, facts eventually impose recognizing and acknowledging its role locally and regionally,” Fayyad said. “Those who think they can overcome Hezbollah in the process of forming the Cabinet will eventually realize that they can postpone forming the government but cannot exclude Hezbollah from it and that they were just wasting the time of the Lebanese,” he added. Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam’s attempts to form a Cabinet have been stalled for over six months over conditions and counter-conditions set by political rivals in the country. Hezbollah has been pressing for the 9-9-6 formula.


Brother of Abducted Lebanese Cameraman in Syria Demands to Know his Fate
Naharnet/George Kassab, the brother of a Lebanese cameraman who disappeared in Syria, said on Thursday that the Lebanese authorities isn't seeking to reveal the fate of Samir. “Should we start burning tires?” George wondered in comments to Free Lebanon radio. He called on officials and President Michel Suleiman to return Samir back to his family safe.  “It's not the first time that Samir travels to Syria or Turkey to cover the developments in the two countries,” George pointed out. He told the radio station that Samir was kidnapped along with Abu Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia crew in a town that is an hour-far from Aleppo. Three-crew members, Kassab along with reporter Ishak Moctar, a Mauritanian national and a Syrian driver whose name is being withheld at his family's request, were on an assignment in northern Syria when the Sky News lost contact with them on Tuesday morning. The team was covering the humanitarian aspects of the Syrian conflict, the channel's head, Nart Bouran, said. "We will continue to make every effort to contact them and to ensure their safe return so that they can continue their vital work.”The conflict has been difficult to cover since it erupted with an uprising against President Bashar Assad in March 2011. International press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) describes Syria as currently the world's most dangerous country for journalists to work in. Since the conflict began in March 2011, RSF has recorded the deaths of 25 journalists and 26 citizen journalists.

Israeli Website Says Mustafa Badreddine Is Hizbullah's New Military Commander

Naharnet /An Israeli website that is expert on terrorism revealed on Wednesday the identity of Hizbullah's new military commander, the successor of slain official Imad Mughnieh. "Mustafa Amin Badreddine assumed his responsibilities as the party's new military commander,” the website, 910, said according to Palestinian news agency SAFA. Badreddine is one of the party's founders and was the commander of several special operations, according to SAFA. The website also published never seen pictures of the new military commander. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon has accused Badreddine along with 3 other Hizbullah-linked suspects of being involved in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. According to the arrest warrant in the murder case, he is accused of planning and overseeing the execution of the assassination. Badreddine, also known as Sami Issa, was born 1961 and has strong ties with Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Iran.  He is a cousin and the brother-in-law of slain Hizbullah military commander Mughnieh.
He is a member of the Hizbullah’s Shura council and the head of its external operations. He was arrested and imprisoned in Kuwait in 1983. In 1990, he managed to escape prison and flee to Iran where the Revolutionary Guard returned him to Beirut. The 910 website drew its name from the title given to the external operations' cell in Hizbullah, 910, and it strives to gather information on this unit and has also offered financial rewards for those willing to reveal new data about it. Badreddine, is reportedly in charge of the 910 unit which, according to the website, is also behind the deadly blast in Bulgaria's Burgas. Five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian driver were killed in the July 18, 2012 bombing on their tourist bus. The identity of the lone bomber, who also perished, has so far remained a mystery. The attack was the deadliest on Israelis abroad since 2004 and Israel immediately blamed it on Iran and its "terrorist" proxy Hizbullah, but Bulgarian investigators have however been more cautious. Iran denied involvement.

Jumblat Says Paris Trip for Medical Reasons, Not Political
Naharnet /Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat stressed on Thursday that his visit to the French capital, Paris, is to carry out the necessary medical checkups. He pointed out in comments to LBCI that he arrived in Paris on Sunday aboard Jumblat's National Struggle Front MP Nehme Tohmeh's private plane. Jumblat revealed that he is suffering from back pain and was accompanied by the family's doctor Ghattas Khoury, who informed him that ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri is also in France for medical treatment. The Druze leader added that he contacted Hariri to check on his health, noting that his visit to France will not include any political meetings.
Hariri's press office said on Tuesday that the Mustaqbal leader underwent a successful surgery to remove pins placed in his leg after a skiing accident in January 2012.


Analysis: Turkey's unprecedented act of betrayal against Israel
By YOSSI MELMAN/10/17/2013/J.Post
If Turkey did blow cover of Israeli spy ring in Iran, it would violate unwritten code of conduct that governs relations between allied intelligence agencies.
In April 2012, Iran announced that it had uncovered a spy ring numbering 15 operatives working at the behest of Israel. Iranian authorities fingered the operatives as being responsible for the killings of nuclear scientists in recent years. Tehran had long suspected the Mossad as the mastermind of these operations. In announcing the arrests, Iran touted the apprehension of “Zionist spies” and the revelations regarding “Zionist” intelligence activity in a neighboring country.
The announcement, which didn’t garner much attention at the time, takes on added importance Thursday just hours after The Washington Post reported that Turkish intelligence revealed the identities of 10 Iranian spies working for Israel. According to the report, Iranian agents would meet with their Mossad handlers on Turkish soil.
This information was revealed by the newspaper’s senior foreign affairs analyst, David Ignatius, a journalist who is known to maintain extensive contacts with both the American and Israeli intelligence communities. If the report is accurate – and it is difficult to doubt the credibility of Ignatius’ sources – then we are talking about a very egregious – even unprecedented – act. In fact, this is the basest act of betrayal imaginable.
For over 50 years, Israel and Turkey were strategic allies. At the heart of this relationship were the extremely close ties between the Mossad and Military Intelligence on one hand, and the Turkish MIT and its military intelligence apparatus on the other hand. These ties were first established in 1958, and they were an integral part of the “Trident” partnership that also included Iran’s intelligence services during the reign of the Shah. It was only recently that Israeli intelligence chiefs permitted archived, previously classified material about the nature of this special relationship to be released for public consumption.
This strategic alliance is manifest in the bi-annual meetings between the heads of Mossad and MIT as well as intelligence analysts and experts on both sides. This relationship was also characterized by the frequent exchanges of information about common enemies and adversaries in the region, including Iraq, Syria, and post-Islamic Iran.
Even during the most tense periods in relations between the two countries, intelligence ties remained intact, even if they did cool somewhat. While intelligence work is often interest-driven, devoid of sentiment and cruel in nature, there are still unwritten rules of conduct that govern relationships.
If it is indeed guilty of blowing the cover off of the Israeli spy network, then Turkey blatantly violated these codes. Despite the deteriorating ties triggered by the violent Mavi Marmara incident of two years ago, Israel and Turkey have never been – and are not today – enemies.
According to foreign media reports, Turkey has long been a base of operations for Mossad agents operating against Iran. Nonetheless, it was only recently reported that an Iranian-Belgian businessman who was arrested in Israel on charges of being a spy for the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force had created straw companies in Turkey to serve as a cover.
One may assume that Turkish intelligence was monitoring both Israeli and Iranian espionage activity taking place on its soil. Despite the caution and the efforts taken to maintain total secrecy even from close allies, it is possible that Turkish intelligence agencies discovered the Mossad apparatus and its ties with the Iranian network.
It was assumed that despite the bumpy road and tensions in relations, interests would trump all other considerations and smooth relations between the intelligence agencies would continue. Earlier this year, there were reports that Mossad chief Tamir Pardo met with MIT director Hakan Fidan in Ankara. According to Ignatius, Israeli officials wryly view Fidan as “Iran’s station chief in Ankara.” Though this statement was made with tongue firmly planted in cheek, it was meant to convey the sense that Fidan is perceived as very close to Iran. If the Israeli spy network was indeed unveiled, it was done so at the order of Fidan and with the full approval of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His obsessive animus toward Israel and his anti-Semitic tendencies are known to all.

Writer Turkey blows Israel’s cover for Iranian spy ring
By David Ignatius /Washington Post
The Turkish-Israeli relationship became so poisonous early last year that the Turkish government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is said to have disclosed to Iranian intelligence the identities of up to 10 Iranians who had been meeting inside Turkey with their Mossad case officers.
Knowledgeable sources describe the Turkish action as a “significant” loss of intelligence and “an effort to slap the Israelis.” The incident, disclosed here for the first time, illustrates the bitter, multi-dimensional spy wars that lie behind the current negotiations between Iran and Western nations over a deal to limit the Iranian nuclear program. A Turkish Embassy spokesman had no comment.
Israeli anger at the deliberate compromise of its agents may help explain why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became so entrenched in his refusal to apologize to Erdogan about the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident . In that confrontation at sea, Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish-organized convoy of ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. Nine Turks were killed.
Netanyahu finally apologized to Erdogan by phone in March after President Obama negotiated a compromise formula. But for more than a year before that, the Israeli leader had resisted entreaties from Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to heal the feud.
Top Israeli officials believe that, despite the apology, the severe strain with Erdogan continues. The Turkish intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, is also suspect in Israel because of what are seen as friendly links with Tehran; several years ago, Israeli intelligence officers are said to have described him facetiously to CIA officials as “the MOIS station chief in Ankara,” a reference to Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The United States continued to deal with Fidan on sensitive matters, however.
Though U.S. officials regarded exposure of the Israeli network as an unfortunate intelligence loss, they didn’t protest directly to Turkish officials. Instead, Turkish-American relations continued warming last year to the point that Erdogan was among Obama’s key confidants. This practice of separating intelligence issues from broader policymaking is said to be a long-standing U.S. approach.
U.S. officials were never sure whether the Turkish disclosure was done in retaliation for the flotilla incident or was part of a broader deterioration in Turkish-Israeli relations.
Israeli intelligence had apparently run part of its Iranian spy network through Turkey, which has relatively easy movement back and forth across its border with Iran. The Turkish intelligence service, known as the Milli Istihbarat Teskilati, or MIT, conducts aggressive surveillance inside its borders, so it had the resources to monitor Israeli-Iranian covert meetings.
U.S. officials assessed the incident as a problem of misplaced trust, rather than bad tradecraft. They reasoned that the Mossad, after more than 50 years of cooperation with Turkey, never imagined the Turks would “shop” Israeli agents to a hostile power, in the words of one source. But Erdogan presented a unique challenge, as he moved in 2009 to champion the Palestinian cause and, in various ways, steered Ankara away from what had been, in effect, a secret partnership with Jerusalem.
The Israeli-Turkish intelligence alliance was launched in a secret meeting in August 1958 in Ankara between David Ben-Gurion, then Israel’s prime minister, and Adnan Menderes, then Turkey’s prime minister. “The concrete result was a formal but top-secret agreement for comprehensive cooperation” between the Mossad and Turkish intelligence, wrote Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman in their 2012 book, “Spies Against Armageddon.”
The groundwork had been laid secretly by Reuven Shiloah, the founding director of the Mossad, as part of what he called a “peripheral alliance strategy.” Through that partnership, Israelis provided training in espionage to the Turks and, ironically, also to Iranians under the shah’s government, which was toppled in 1979.
Fidan, the Turkish spy chief, is a key Erdogan adviser. He became head of the MIT in 2010 after serving as a noncommissioned officer in the Turkish army and gaining a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a doctorate in Ankara. After Fidan took over the Turkish service, “he rattled Turkey’s allies by allegedly passing to Iran sensitive intelligence collected by the U.S. and Israel,” according to a recent profile in the Wall Street Journal. The Journal also noted U.S. fears that Fidan was arming jihadist rebels in Syria.
The Netanyahu-Erdogan quarrel, with its overlay of intelligence thrust and parry, is an example of the kaleidoscopic changes that may be ahead in the Middle East. The United States, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are all exploring new alliances and struggling to find a new equilibrium — overtly and covertly.

How Turkey shopped Mossad spies to Iran: A story leaked by Washington to caution Netanyahu

DEBKAfile Special Report October 17, 2013/Early last year, the Erdogan government blew the cover of up to 10 Israel agents in Iran who had been meeting inside Turkey with their Mossad case officers. This story was published in The Washington Post, by David Ignatius, who has excellent connections in the US capital, Thursday, Oct. 17 – the day after a two-day conference in Geneva between six world powers with Iran on its nuclear program. A chorus of Western powers led by the US hailed the event as “substantive” and “forward-looking.”
But on the quiet, the WP story was directed against Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as a caution to him to drop his “lone voice” posture against trusting Iran to abandon its nuclear weapon aspirations. Instead, he must look forward and start getting used to the “new Middle East" and role Barack Obama has assigned for Iran. If he persists in his defiant attitude, Israeli intelligence may face more debacles like the Turkish betrayal.
The WP story reveals from “knowledgeable sources” that Israeli intelligence had apparently run part of its Iranian spy network through Turkey, which has relatively easy movement back and forth across its border with Iran. “The Turkish intelligence service MIT had the resources to monitor those meetings, but after 50 years of cooperation with Turkey, Israel never imagined the Turks would “shop” Israeli agents to a hostile power.
Ignatius reports: “US officials assessed the incident as a problem of misplaced trust, rather than bad tradecraft.”
Still, the article presents Israel’s Mossad in an unflattering light, claiming that Israeli intelligence officers in 2010 complained to the CIA that Hakan Fidan Turkish intelligence chief was in fact “the MOIS station chief in Ankara.” MOIS is Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security.
He describes “Israeli anger at the deliberate compromise of its agents,” which he said may help explain why Netanyahu “became entrenched in his refusal to apologize to Erdogan about the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident" in which nine Turks were killed. He did apologize later but the “severe strain with Erdogan continues.”
debkafile’s intelligence sources underline five lessons from the WP article and its timing:
1. The US never protested to Ankara about over its deliberate compromise of the Israeli network because President Barack Obama was intent on cultivating Prime Minister Erdogan as a key Muslim ally.
2. Washington wasn’t sure of Turkey’s motives. According to one theory, Erdogan was settling a score with Israel for its commando raid on the Turkish Mavis Marmama which was leading the flotilla to Gaza with pro-Palestinian activists.
3. Netanyahu’s apology, forced on him by Obama, did not ease strained relations with Ankara.
4. Although US officials treated the exposure of the Israeli network as an unfortunate intelligence loss, they continue to work with Hakan Fidan on sensitive issues despite his suspected collaboration with Tehran.
“This practice of separating intelligence issues from broader policymaking is said to be a long-standing US approach,” the writer reported.
5. “Kaleidoscopic changes” lie ahead of the Middle East, says Ignatius, and countries like Israel, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are searching – openly as well as covertly - for alliances in the constantly changing Middle East.
The sixth lesson appears between the lines of the article. It is that if Netanyahu wants to escape more punishment over his bad relations with Erdogan and attitude on Iran, he must change his approach and acclimatize to the new Middle East, however cruel and cold, in which the US and Iran are beginning to cooperate.
The same message applies equally to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, both of which actively challenge Barack Obama’s approach to the region.
As usual in the covert world of intelligence and espionage, the WP story has another dimension. It is also the answer to a Wall Street Journal piece of Oct. 10 entitled “Turkey’s Spymaster Plots Own Course on Syria,” which quotes former US Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey as saying, “Hakan Fidan is the face of the new Middle East.”
He accused Fidan of working against US policy by helping to supply arms and ammunition to the al-Qaeda-linked jihadis fighting with Syrian rebels. Jeffrey describes Fidan as one of three spy chiefs acting to shape the “new Middle East.” The other two are Prince Bandar bin Sultan, director of Saudi General Intelligence, and Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the notorious Iranian Al Qods Brigades intelligence and terror network.
Mossad chief Tomer Pardo did not make the list.

Soccer's Impact on Middle East Politics
James M. Dorsey /Washington Institute
On October 15, James Dorsey, a syndicated columnist and author of the blog (and forthcoming book) The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, addressed a Washington Institute Policy Forum. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
Over the past several years, soccer fields across the Middle East and North Africa have become battlegrounds for political, gender, and labor rights, as well as issues of national, ideological, and ethnic identity. Examining the recent and historical role of militant soccer fans in Egypt, Jordan, Iran, and other countries can help shed light on where each society stands on these issues today.
Most soccer clubs in the region were established with some kind of political or ideological leaning, whether pro-colonial, pro-monarchy, nationalist, or other. In Egypt, two such clubs have had tremendous influence -- al-Ahly and Zamalek. The former was home to students who later became revolutionaries; President Gamal Abdul Nasser himself eventually led the club. In contrast, Zamalek was associated with pro-monarchy and pro-colonial movements. Today, the demography of the two fan bases has hardly changed. For example, celebrated Egyptian player Ibrahim Hassan described Zamalek as the "King's Club" in a 2010 interview, despite being born years after the overthrow of Egypt's last monarch.
The soccer pitch can also be a barometer of future events. In Jordan, statements openly critical of the royal family's corruption first gained notoriety on the soccer field. And at Saudi soccer matches, many princes are booed, pelted with various objects, and sometimes forced off the pitch entirely. Last year's removal of the head of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation was perhaps the first time a royal family member was forced to resign from a post due to public pressure.
Although soccer players themselves rarely engage in political protests, the sport evokes the kind of emotion that can spark such actions. In Iran, Tabriz's main soccer club has been a major symbol of Azerbaijani ethnic identity; most recently, it was the driving force behind demonstrations demanding reunification of Iran's East Azerbaijan province and the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. In Tehran, a ceremony held to commemorate deceased player Nasser Hejazi, who had been openly critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, turned into a mass antigovernment demonstration. Moreover, Iran's presidential elections often fall around the same time as its final World Cup qualifying matches; in some cases, celebrations of national team victories have led citizens to break social codes and hold antiregime protests.
Jihadist and theological leaders in the region look to soccer as a rallying tool well. Many Islamist mosques are affiliated with specific clubs, and militant figures such as Usama bin Laden, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh understand the role that the sport has played in recruiting followers and facilitating bonds between those who later carry out violence. At the same time, strong disagreement persists between hardline Islamist groups as to whether soccer is sanctioned under religious law. On one hand, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood considered forming its own club in 2011, while Hezbollah and other groups own and operate teams in Lebanon. On the other hand, the Somali group al-Shabab has been known to execute people just for watching soccer matches.
The sport has also been an important battleground for women's rights. Saha al-Hawari, the daughter of an Egyptian referee, worked to break down regional opposition to women's soccer by convincing families, clubs, and governments to allow women to organize their own teams. She also partnered with Jordan's Prince Ali in convincing the member states of the West Asian Football Federation to declare that women had an equal right to pursue soccer as a career.
Around 2004-2006, passionate soccer fans in the Middle East connected with like-minded groups around the world who embraced absolute commitment to their clubs. These fans, called Ultras, saw players and coaches as opportunistic or corrupt; this and other factors spurred them to develop an especially strong sense of ownership over their clubs.
The growing influence of the Ultras challenged the power of some regimes, but also presented them with opportunities. Leaders such as Ahmadinejad, former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and former Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali sought close public association with national teams in order to harness their massive popularity. Mubarak in particular used the sport to deflect attention from government mismanagement and manipulate national emotions.
Meanwhile, Egypt's Ultras defiantly claimed ownership over their clubs, and by 2007, they were clashing with security forces on a weekly basis, whether at the stadium or elsewhere. By 2011, they represented tens of thousands of undereducated, unemployed young men who resented the regime and saw an opportunity to respond. Once the revolution began, Ultras played a key role in breaking the barrier of fear for the masses -- they approached Egyptians who had never spoken out against the government, brought them to demonstrations in Tahrir Square, and pressured them to remain once security forces cracked down.
Following Mubarak's ouster, the Ultras lost much of their public influence. Yet the February 2012 stadium brawl that killed seventy-four in Port Said reignited empathy toward the Ultras, sparking revolts in cities along the Red Sea and Suez Canal.
While other nations tend to bid on hosting the World Cup in order to project influence, create opportunities for their citizens, and improve infrastructure, Qatar's focus in seeking the 2022 Cup was security. After Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Qatar learned that it could not rely on the Saudi defense umbrella. And despite importing massive amounts of weapons and foreign personnel to staff its armed forces, the small emirate still lacks the hard power needed to defend itself. Soccer therefore represents a valuable soft-power tool and a boon to national security.
Yet Doha's successful World Cup campaign has been subjected to intense scrutiny. Although the country has major domestic issues, especially regarding labor, much of the controversy surrounding its bid has stemmed from envy and prejudice. Qataris did not expect the deluge of criticism they have received. After all, many in the international community remained silent for years regarding concerns about foreign workers in Qatar; powerful international trade federations did not truly assert themselves until after the country's bid gained momentum. In any case, the emirate is attempting to address these labor concerns, partnering with source countries such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to make sure migrants are not being exploited by middlemen.
Meanwhile, dismal attendance in Qatari soccer stadiums has prompted discussion of reform. Knowing that they are only temporary residents, the country's numerous foreign workers are less likely to become passionate fans, and many citizens are uninterested in supporting government-owned soccer clubs. This has spurred talk of transferring ownership from the state to publicly held companies. More broadly, the Qatari government is perhaps the first to try building a complete sports industry -- including sports medicine and sports security -- from the ground up. In doing so, it has tied sports to the emirate's burgeoning national identity.
The reforms being contemplated in Qatar may eventually spread to other Persian Gulf states with similarly unsustainable demographic challenges. For now, though, soccer's role in the Gulf will continue to create controversy. For example, FIFA may have erred in appointing Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa as president of the Asian Football Confederation despite his crackdown on athletes who participated in antigovernment protests. Yet there were really no good alternatives for the position.
This rapporteur's summary was prepared by Jeremy Brinster.

Canada PM Says Close to Reaching Free Trade Deal with EU
Naharnet /Canada is close to reaching a free trade deal with the European Union, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday. "We will soon complete negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union," Harper said in a Twitter message. He was echoed by EU Trade spokesman John Clancy, who said: "Discussions are indeed continuing at the highest level between the EU and Canada towards a comprehensive free trade deal (CETA) -- with the hope to conclude the negotiations in the coming days."
Official sources told Agence France Presse the deal would give the European Union increased access for cheese sales, clearing one of the last hurdles to a free trade pact.
The agreement-in-principle must now be sent back to Canada's provinces for final approval, they said.
On several previous occasions officials on both sides of the Atlantic have touted a deal was imminent but deadlines passed and no announcement was forthcoming.
Negotiations started in 2009 with the expectation they would be concluded by late 2012, but they became deadlocked over a few holdout issues, mainly in agriculture.
Canada asked for increased European access for its beef while the EU sought to lower tariffs of up to 300 percent shielding Canada's supply-managed dairy industry from imports of European cheeses.
On Wednesday, the Canadian dairy farmers' association said it would not support a deal that would allow the EU to sell more cheese in this country, arguing that its current quota was already generous.
"This (potential) deal would displace our local products with subsidized cheeses from EU and risk our small businesses being shut down or put out of business. This is unacceptable," the Dairy Farmers of Canada said in a statement.
Rudy Husny, spokesman for Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast, however, reminded that Harper committed to protecting Canada's supply-managed agricultural sectors.
"Our government has been clear. All of the three key pillars of our domestic system of supply management must remain intact: production controls, import controls, and price controls," he said.
The actual amount of the proposed EU cheese quota increase is small, he said.
Canadian business leaders meanwhile applauded Harper's commitment to seal the Canada-EU trade deal soon.
"After four years of negotiations, we are heartened by the prime minister's assurance that negotiations are close to complete on the Canada-EU Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA)," John Manley, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, said.
"On both sides of the Atlantic, the CETA will create jobs, spur investment and promote economic growth."
Manley, a former top minister in previous Canadian governments, noted that in most trade agreements, "neither side will get everything it wants."
But he said: "Narrow issues - whose economic value is arguably marginal in the context of this trade agreement - should not distract us from the huge gains for both sides."
A transatlantic deal would give Canadian companies access to 500 million European consumers and eliminate 98 percent of Canadian tariffs on EU goods.
If Europe can secure a free trade deal with Canada, it would lay the groundwork for a planned, much larger accord with the United States, both French and Canadian leaders said in March.
Source/Agence France Presse.

Syria’s people deserve the chance to assert themselves

By: Amir Taheri/Asharq Alawsat
When talking of Syria, Russian diplomats peddle the old cliché of “non-intervention in the affairs of a sovereign country.”
For their part, the Americans are trying to change the narrative from a civil war that has claimed over 150,000 lives to one about identifying Bashar Al-Assad’s chemical weapons.
The Russian and American positions would not survive even the most cursory examination.
More than a dozen nations, including Russia, have been intervening in Syria for years and continue to do so. Also, Syria’s “internal affairs” are affecting the rest of the world, notably by producing the largest number of refugees the world has seen since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. According to UN estimates almost two million Syrians refugees are already in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan. Syrian “boat people” are appearing in the Mediterranean fleeing to Europe, at times with tragic results. Caught inside Syria, some 4.5 million “displaced persons” are refugees in waiting.
In a sense, Syria has ceased to be a nation-state in the normal sense of the term. The administrative network has collapsed or been transformed into a mechanism for repression. The Ba’athist regime has shrunk into one faction in a civil war. Deputy Premier Qadri Jamil admits that the war has led to stalemate and that large chunks of territory are under rebel control.
US talk about “eliminating chemical weapons” is a red herring. Under the Washington-Moscow deal, inspectors are only allowed to visit sites “declared” by Bashar Al-Assad’s faction. They have neither the authority nor the means to identify suspected undeclared sites.
If Russians are right about “non-intervention,” why are they promoting a second Geneva Conference precisely aimed at interfering in Syria’s domestic affairs?
And if Americans are right that the issue is chemical weapons, why are they promoting a vast agenda that also includes flirting with Iran’s mullahs?
In its current shape, the Geneva conference, if it does take place, is no more than a cynical ploy by Washington and Moscow to pretend that they are “doing something” about what is the most tragic situation in the world today.
The international community, including Russia and the US, has every interest in taking the Syrian tragedy more seriously.
As always, refugee camps—hell-holes where the wretched of the earth are caught in a spiral of misery and anger—become recruiting grounds for merchants of violence. In these metaphorical swamps mosquitoes of terror breed by the thousands.
China, too, would be wise to take the issue more seriously at a time its Muslim minority is showing fresh signs of restiveness.
By backing Assad, Russia has further blackened its image among Muslims across the globe, an image already tarnished by decades of brutal repression in the Caucasus, notably Chechnya.
As for Obama’s cynical maneuvers, their net effect is that the US now has no friends in Syria on either side of the divide.
It took the world, especially the neighbors of Afghanistan, almost 30 years to absorb the consequences of the refugee explosion produced by the Soviet invasion. As an “ungoverned space” Afghanistan provided bases for dozens of terror groups, mainly against Russia, the US, and China.
This time, Europe, too, would be wise to worry.
According to estimates some 3,000 citizens of the European Union are involved in the Syrian war alongside different factions, including the Assad clan. A Somalia-type “ungoverned space” on the Mediterranean would not be good news for Europe.
The long-term impact of the Syrian refugee flood on Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan is hard to gauge. Iraq is in even greater danger because the de facto secession of Syria’s Kurds could reignite dreams of an independent Kurdistan, with this issue set to be discussed at a pan-Kurdish conference in Erbil next month. The outcome of the Syrian crisis could be a redrawing of the region’s map.
In other words, the Syrian civil war is an international issue. Tinkering with it would amount to a dereliction of duty by the United Nations.
The Syrian crisis has three facets.
The first is the collapse of the military-security based state structures that have been in place since the 1960s. Regardless of the outcome of the war, these structures cannot be salvaged. Thus, the first issue is about how to help Syria create new state structures, and regain its independence.
The second facet concerns the internal tensions among the rebel factions. The anti-Assad groups have little interest in going to Geneva. The proposed conference is not really about Syria. It is designed to foster the illusion that Obama is still engaged with the world while allowing Russia to pose as a rising power.
The third facet is, perhaps, the most important.
It concerns finding ways and means of enabling the mass of Syrians, now mostly voiceless victims of a tragedy beyond their control, to re-enter the political arena and gain a decisive say in shaping the future. The Syrian uprising was the only genuinely popular revolt in the so-called “Arab Spring.” It cut across ethnic and sectarian divides and, initially at least, espoused strong democratic aspirations.
With the uprising degenerating into a civil war that popular energy has been stifled. Ordinary people are willing and able to take risks even with their lives through civil disobedience and non-violent struggle. But not everyone is capable of picking up a gun or triggering a car bomb. The ruthless repression unleashed by Assad succeeded in producing a violent backlash in which armed struggle became the mantra.
However, it is wrong to suggest that the only way to see the back of Assad is through the barrel of a gun.
Syria needs a political transition in which the mass of the people are helped to assert themselves as arbiters of the nation’s future.
Everyone in the international community, including the cynical leaders of Washington and Moscow, have an interest in trying to make that possible.