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Bible Quotation for today/Warning
James 02/01-13: "My friends, as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, you must never treat people in different ways according to their outward appearance. Suppose a rich man wearing a gold ring and fine clothes comes to your meeting, and a poor man in ragged clothes also comes. If you show more respect to the well-dressed man and say to him, “Have this best seat here,” but say to the poor man, “Stand over there, or sit here on the floor by my feet,” then you are guilty of creating distinctions among yourselves and of making judgments based on evil motives. Listen, my dear friends! God chose the poor people of this world to be rich in faith and to possess the kingdom which he promised to those who love him. But you dishonor the poor! Who are the ones who oppress you and drag you before the judges? The rich! They are the ones who speak evil of that good name which has been given to you. You will be doing the right thing if you obey the law of the Kingdom, which is found in the scripture, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” But if you treat people according to their outward appearance, you are guilty of sin, and the Law condemns you as a lawbreaker. Whoever breaks one commandment is guilty of breaking them all. For the same one who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Even if you do not commit adultery, you have become a lawbreaker if you commit murder. Speak and act as people who will be judged by the law that sets us free. For God will not show mercy when he judges the person who has not been merciful; but mercy triumphs over judgment.
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For October 29/13
Iran's Terror Entity in Lebanon/By: by Yaakov Lappin/October 29/13
Fool me once (17th round of fighting in the northern capital of Tripoli/The Daily Star/October 29/13DEBKAfile/Mystery of missing ayatollah: Ali Khamenei’s three-week seclusion for work on nuclear deal with US/October 29/13
مهم الإطلاع عليه: حزب الله حول لبنان إلى مقاطعة إيرانية وجعل من منازل بيئته
الحاضنة مخازن للأسلحة ومنصات لإطلاق الصواريخ وهو أمر غير مسبوق في مفهوم الإحتلال
Iran's Terror Entity in Lebanon
by Yaakov Lappin
October 28, 2013
One out of every ten homes in Lebanon now has a rocket launcher or Hezbollah weapons stored in it, according to Gilad Erdan, Israel's Home Front Defense Minister. Civilian homes are constructed in a way that allows the roof to open up for the firing of a rocket at Israel. Added up, the number of rockets and missiles reached is 200,000.
In the chaotic Middle East, every day brings new strategic changes and brutal instances of violence, the one thing that has remained constant is Iran's continuing construction of a military-terrorist missile base in Lebanon.
Through its Shi'ite Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, Iran today has formed a terrorist entity that is unprecedented in scope and firepower, whose rockets and missiles can strike any point in Israel.
During a recent security conference held at the Begin-Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, senior Israeli officials divulged some staggering figures that give a sense of the significant capabilities Hezbollah has built-up.
To be sure, Israel has been preparing for the day it will need to tackle Hezbollah, and the Israel Defense Force apparently feels ready to deal with the threat if and when it is required to do so.
The threat, however, remains potent; and Hezbollah's cynical use of Lebanese civilians as a cover from which to attack Israeli civilians remains a serious challenge facing Israeli defense planners.
During the conference, IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, pointed out that, "in Lebanon today, there are homes in which there are guestrooms alongside missile storage rooms. This is a clear intelligence reality."
The situation was also addressed by Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan, who unveiled a government plan to find solutions quickly for the 30% of Israeli civilians who do not have rocket-proof rooms in their apartments, or access to bomb shelters in their buildings or the immediate vicinity.
In any full-scale war, Erdan warned, the Israeli home front will be pounded by thousands of rockets for up to three weeks, and every point in the country could be hit by Hezbollah.
One out of every 10 homes in Lebanon now has a rocket launcher or Hezbollah weapons stored in it, Erdan said. Civilian homes, he said, are constructed in southern Lebanon in a way that allows the roof to open up for the firing of a rocket at Israel.
An increasing number of Hezbollah's projectiles, Erdan cautioned, are guided, accurate weapons, with which the terror organization will seek to strike Israeli national infrastructure sites, such as electricity production centers.
If the number of rockets and missiles possessed by Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are added up, he added, the number reached is 200,000.
"Our enemies," he said, "want to break the spirit of Israelis, and get them to stop believing that we can have a normal life here."
The IDF has very effective offensive plans for these threats, but the government also had to come up with new ways of keeping civilian life going during a future war, he continued.
"We need to create a mechanism to allow the continuous functionality of the home front, and not to return to scenes of the Second Lebanon War of 2006," he said. "No other country is facing the threat we are today."
Hezbollah is heavily armed, more so than most Western countries, but it is also deterred by Israel's firepower. Additionally, its main focus today is on fulfilling the orders of its masters in Tehran and fighting in the Syrian civil war on the side of the Assad regime, a move that has provoked the wrath of Sunni jihadis. This change was noted in recent days by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who stated: "To those who are not yet aware, there is already a civil war in Lebanon. [The Sunni] Global Jihad, which has infiltrated Lebanon and is attacking Hezbollah, is blowing car bombs in [the south Beirut Hezbollah stronghold of] Dahia, and is firing rockets at Dahia and the Beka'a Valley [in northern Lebanon, where Hezbollah is also based]."
During the conference, new ideas were put forward by top security figures on how Israel might enhance its deterrence even further.
Giora Eiland, former head of the National Security Council (which advises the prime minister), said Israel should reject the idea that it must fight against terrorist guerrilla organizations embedded in civilian areas, and return to the idea that it is fighting enemy states.
It is impossible to defeat guerrilla forces, Eiland argued; but if the enemy and its territory are defined as a hostile state, victory becomes possible once again. "In 2006," he said, "we tried to do something impossible by hitting rocket launchers. If tomorrow there is a third Lebanon war and if we try to do the same thing, the result will be worse. We and Hezbollah have improved tactically."
"If war does break out," he added, "treating Lebanon as an enemy would end the conflict in three days, not three weeks," Eiland predicted. "This entails bombing bridges and other state-affiliated targets, though staying clear of civilian sites like schools and hospitals," he stressed. "It is not right for us to accept the idea of fighting low-intensity counter-terrorism conflicts. We should move to an interstate conflict system."
Mystery of missing ayatollah: Ali Khamenei’s three-week seclusion
for work on nuclear deal with US
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 28, 2013/Spy services world wide have been mystified by the unusual absence from public view of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for nearly three weeks. He was last seen in public on Oct. 5 visiting the military college in Tehran with army chiefs. According to one theory, he suffered a relapse from a chronic ailment and was secretly treated in the small hospital installed at his home. Another suggested he had gone into seclusion to escape the furor raging in his regime over the future of Iran’s nuclear program and relations wit the United States. This dissonance erupted most recently in conflicting statements issued Friday, Oct. 26: One official reported that 20 percent uranium enrichment had been halted – only to be contradicted by another. Khamenei can’t just drop out of sight unnoticed like some other world leaders because he routinely officiates at a heavy schedule of political and religious events. His absence was widely remarked, when he failed, for instance, to deliver the keynote sermon at the annual Eid, Festival of the Sacrifice, two weeks ago, with explanation. Neither did he send his usual message to this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca. Indeed, the Shiite pilgrims abstained from demonstrations in closed tents during the hajj, an arrangement permitted under an agreement with the Saudi authorities after years of violent outbreaks. And finally, no messages or blessings came from the supreme leader - not just for Eid but for Ghadir, a most important festival on the Shiite calendar. It is a celebration of the Shiite belief that Prophet Muhammad anointed Ali as his successor before a large assembly of the faithful – a claim repudiated by Sunni Muslims. The rumor that Khamenei was undergoing life-saving medical treatment in the privacy of his home was, according to debkafile’s Iranian sources, denied by recent visitors who found him to be in good health and active. They said he had gone into seclusion by choice, to immerse himself in the final evaluation and drafting of the trilateral US-Russian-Iranian accord for resolving the issues of Iran’s nuclear program. They add that this accord is already secretly in the bag. But the three leaders have decided not to break the news too abruptly. President Barack Obama is expected to announce publicly in the third week of December that an initial understanding has been reached on the road toward a partial and gradual accord. Ayatollah Khamenei and President Vladimir Putin are planning to drop word of a final agreement unfolding in stages, to avoid shock effects in Tehran as well as in other concerned Middle East capitals, such as Jerusalem and Riyadh.
Iranian deputy FM pledges 'new approach' in nuclear program talks
By REUTERS 10/28/2013/VIENNA - Iran's deputy foreign minister pledged a "new approach" to resolving UN concerns about its nuclear program as he began talks on Monday on easing a deadlock over an investigation into suspicions of illicit nuclear bomb research by Tehran. Abbas Araqchi met UN nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano in Vienna, the first such high-level encounter since Iran's election in June of a moderate president committed to improving its foreign relations after years of increasing confrontation. continuing 20% uranium enrichmentIranian officials remove anti-American posters in Tehran"It is very important for all of us that we can show concrete progress," Amano said, sitting across a table from Araqchi at International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters in Vienna. "We think this is the time to take a new approach to resolving (questions) between Iran and the IAEA and look to the future for further cooperation in order to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program," Araqchi said. He gave no details. The IAEA hopes to resume an investigation, long stalled by Iranian non-cooperation, into what it calls the "possible military dimensions" of the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. Tehran says it is enriching uranium solely for electricity generation and medical treatments. "It is peaceful and it will remain peaceful for ever," Araqchi said. New President Hassan Rouhani has raised hopes of an end to the international standoff over the nuclear program by promising to engage with the West, in return for an easing of sanctions that are severely damaging Iran's oil-based economy. Expectations for Monday's talks were relatively high and diplomats believed Iran might soon offer some concessions, perhaps by allowing U.N. inspectors to visit its Parchin military base southeast of Tehran - long an IAEA priority. The one-hour meeting between Amano and Araqchi was to be followed by lower-level Iran-IAEA discussions later on Monday. Iran and six world powers are engaged in separate negotiations aimed at a broader political settlement to the dispute, which has raised fears of a new war in the Middle East. Their last meeting was held in October in Geneva, and another one is scheduled for November. An end to Iran's higher-grade enrichment of uranium is a main demand of the powers. Refining uranium to 20 percent is sensitive as it is a relatively short technical step to raise that to the 90 percent needed for making a nuclear weapon.
Report: Salam to Hold Talks with Hariri in Paris
Naharnet Newsdesk 28 October 2013,/Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam is expected to visit the French capital, Paris, where he will hold talks with ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri. According to An Nahar newspaper published on Monday, Salam is expected to tackle with Hariri the cabinet formation process. Salam is currently in Geneva on a several-day private visit. The report comes amid rumors that Salam intends to give up his task to form a new government. Salam has been facing since April conditions and counter conditions set by the rival March 8 and March 14 alliances. An Nahar also reported that head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc ex-PM Fouad Saniora arrived in Paris on Sunday for talks with Hariri.
STL Pre-Trial Judge Transfers Complete Case File in Hariri Assassination to Trial Chamber
Naharnet Newsdesk 28 October 2013/Special Tribunal for Lebanon Pre-Trial Judge Daniel Fransen completed the transfer of the entire file in the case of the 2005 assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri to the Trial Chamber, announced the STL in a statement on Monday. The case filed contains the evidence and all other documents that relate to the case. The Trial Chamber will now continue to prepare for the start of trial, which is scheduled tentatively for January 13, 2014. The indictment against the four Hizbullah members— Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra – was confirmed in June 2011. A fifth Hizbullah supporter, Hassan Habib Merhi, was revealed by the STL in October. “The transfer of the case file is a significant development in the proceedings of the Ayyash et al. case and it marks the start of the transition from the pre-trial to the trial phase,” explained the STL statement. During trial, the Prosecution, Defense Counsel and the Legal Representatives of the Victims will present their arguments before the judges of the Trial Chamber. STL judges decided in 2012 that the Tribunal can try the accused in their absence, which is permissible under Lebanese Law. The five accused remain at large, but the Lebanese authorities have an ongoing obligation to search for, arrest and transfer the accused to STL custody. According to the Tribunal’s rules, the pre-trial judge is required to submit a complete file in order to allow the Trial Chamber to be seized of the case. A publicly redacted version of the confidential report accompanying the transfer of the case will be available in due course. It is now for the Trial Chamber to confirm a final date for the start of trial, added the STL in its press release. A public hearing will be held on Tuesday by the Trial Chamber judges to discuss matters related to the preparation of trial. Hariri was assassinated in a major suicide car bombing in Beirut on February 14, 2005.
Twenty-two others were also killed in the attack.
17 Charged with Firing Rockets at Baabda, Dahieh
Naharnet Newsdesk 28 October 2013/A number of suspects were charged on Monday in the case of firing rockets at Baabda and Beirut's southern suburbs of Dahieh. Military Examining Magistrate Fadi Sawwan charged 17 arrested suspects in the case. Ten of the suspects were previously charged with forming an armed gang aimed at carrying out terrorist activity and firing rockets. They were also accused of attempted murder.
If convicted, all these charges can lead to the maximum punishment of the death penalty. Sawwan also issued search an investigation warrants against a number of Lebanese and Syrian individuals. On August 30, State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr ordered the detention of suspects allegedly involved in the cases of firing rockets from Ballouneh on Baabda and from the South towards Israel.
Media reports had said that the suspected intended to target the Defense Ministry in Yarze, but one rocket hit a high-voltage power line in a nearby town and a second rocket failed to launch. The launchpads were found in Ballouneh. On August 1, two rockets fired from an area near the town of Aramoun in Aley struck locations near the presidential palace and the Defense Ministry in Baabda. In May, four people were wounded when two rockets were fired at the Maroun Misk neighborhood in Dahieh.
Lebanon: Gas, oil reserves may be higher than thought
October 28, 2013/By Laila Bassam/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Lebanese caretaker Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said new estimates for nearly half of Lebanese waters suggested the country’s reserves of natural gas and oil might be larger than previously thought.
“The current estimate, under a probability of 50 percent, for almost 45 percent of our waters has reached 95.9 trillion cubic feet of gas and 865 million barrels of oil,” he said.
The estimates are based on seismic surveys conducted ahead of an auction for exploration rights which has already been delayed by several months due to a political stalemate in Lebanon.
As Lebanon prepares to move toward exploring and developing its offshore oil and gas resources, Bassil said he hoped that hydrocarbon revenues would give the country “political, economic and financial independence.”
“This definitely needs more exploration and drilling activities to get more precise figures, but this is an indication that with more work, surveys and analyses, we are getting higher results and higher expectations,” he said in an interview at the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit. The figures are the first estimates by the government for such a large area of Lebanon’s 10 exploration blocs, which range from 1,500-2,500 square kilometers, and appear to imply higher reserves than several previous estimates. A 2010 U.S. Geological Survey study estimated that the Levantine Basin, an area of 83,000 square km which includes waters outside Lebanon’s jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean, held 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas and 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil. An analyst at survey firm Spectrum estimated in May that the country’s total deep-water gas reserves could be up to 80 trillion cubic feet. Lebanon has been hoping that sizeable gas discoveries could help address both its high level of government debt and its chronic domestic power shortages. But progress will be difficult given the country’s political turmoil, after Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigned in March amid partisan squabbling that has stalled most government decisions. Earlier this month, Bassil said he had delayed Lebanon’s offshore gas licensing round by another month until January after politicians failed to form a new government, which is needed to approve decrees to launch the bidding process. Without approval of those documents, Lebanon’s efforts to exploit maritime reserves are on hold and 46 companies it selected in April to bid for gas exploration will have to wait. Bassil said that although no companies had formally withdrawn from the bidding round because of the delays, some were “hesitant and there are questions being raised.”Drilling could also be delayed in southern exploration blocs by disputes over a maritime border between Lebanon and Israel that has never been delineated because the two countries are technically at war. Bassil warned in July that Israel had the technical ability to draw from Lebanese underwater gas fields. Israel’s Energy Ministry declined to comment on Bassil’s remarks. Separately, Bassil said an onshore oil and gas survey was proceeding as planned in the hope surveys of Lebanon’s Mediterranean waters will be matched by similar prospects on land.
Report: Salam to Hold Talks with Hariri in Paris
Naharnet Newsdesk 28 October 2013/Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam is expected to visit the French capital, Paris, where he will hold talks with ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri. According to An Nahar newspaper published on Monday, Salam is expected to tackle with Hariri the cabinet formation process. Salam is currently in Geneva on a several-day private visit. The report comes amid rumors that Salam intends to give up his task to form a new government. Salam has been facing since April conditions and counter conditions set by the rival March 8 and March 14 alliances. An Nahar also reported that head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc ex-PM Fouad Saniora arrived in Paris on Sunday for talks with Hariri.
Geagea Calls for Declaring Tripoli an Arms-Free City
Naharnet Newsdesk 28 October 2013/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea called on Monday on the caretaker cabinet to hold an extraordinary session to call the northern city of Tripoli an arms-free city.
Geagea said in comments published in An Nahar newspaper that most of the residents of the northern city are demanding to announce it an arms-free city. He said that prominent figures in Tripoli and parties provided the necessary political cover to declare the city arms-free, wondering what the concerned officials are waiting for to take such a step. “Remaining mum over the situation in Tripoli is a crime,” Geagea told the newspaper. The LF leader slammed officials, considering that they are neglecting their responsibilities. The death toll from a week of clashes between supporters and opponents of Syria's regime in Tripoli has risen to 13.
Sunni and Alawite gunmen have been fighting since Monday in the Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen districts. Residents of Bab al-Tabbaneh support the revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad, while those in Jabal Mohsen back Assad. They have fought frequently since the Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011. Tripoli is home to 200,000 people, 80 percent of whom are Sunni Muslims, 6-7 percent Alawites and the rest Christians.
The fighting broke out on Monday as a Lebanese private television aired an interview with the Syrian president, in which he said the time is not ripe for a peace conference to try to resolve the 31-month conflict and said he was ready to run for re-election in 2014. The violence prompted residents to flee the impoverished neighborhoods, and schools and universities have been closed since the middle of last week. Lebanon is deeply divided into pro- and anti-Damascus camps. The division has widened since Hizbullah admitted in May it was sending fighters into Syria to support Assad's troops. Small radical Sunni organizations have also sent men across the border to fight alongside rebels. Lebanon was dominated politically and militarily by Damascus for 30 years until 2005.
Fool me once (17th round of fighting in the northern capital of Tripoli,
October 28, 2013/The Daily Star /After perhaps the 17th round of fighting in the northern capital of Tripoli, we have been presented with a 17th security plan for the city, designed to minimize violence between the pro- and anti-Syrian regime elements. Obviously this latest plan, announced by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati over the weekend, will not work comprehensively. For if the first such security plan had been successful, we would not have witnessed countless rounds of fighting and deaths since, with at least 16 killed since last Monday alone. With the Army spreading out across the conflict zones Sunday, it is likely violence will be reduced, but it will only be temporary. Because unless systemic changes are made in the city and the ways in which politics and violence interact, this cycle of violence will continue ad nauseum. Meanwhile members of the Army and police are forced to act like sitting ducks, risking their own lives to restore a minimum of peace, and one which the city’s leaders are not even genuinely invested in protecting. This advocacy of a security plan for Tripoli is apparently relying either on the amnesia or the stupidity of the Lebanese people. But after dozens of lives have been lost, including many civilians caught in the cross fire, the people of Lebanon, and certainly those of the northern city, are not to be fooled any longer. For they know full well that the fighting in Tripoli is being promoted and exacerbated by the very same politicians who condemn it. Not only that, but in some instances the militants involved are being directly financed and armed by Mikati himself. And for some, the conflict has become an existential one. Many residents of Jabal Mohsen, which is staunchly pro-regime, see themselves as part of a Greater Syria, a point President Bashar Assad himself made in an interview last week. It is clear he has no qualms about instigating violence in Tripoli whenever he feels the need. Those militants in Jabal Mohsen are not acting and reacting independently, but clearly under the orders, or at least the encouragement of, the Syrian regime and protection of elements of segments of the caretaker government of Mikati. So whether as a method of diverting attention from the ongoing bloodshed in Syria, or as a means of sending messages to political parties and individuals in Lebanon itself, stirring up violence in Tripoli is an easy way for Assad to create havoc across the border. And after several years of this now, he shows no signs of letting up. Unless parties in Lebanon refuse to interact with this dangerous game, unless they refuse to either blindly follow Assad’s every order, or alternatively to rise to the bait and fight those militants working for him, this depressing cycle will continue. The Lebanese people are now fully aware of this hypocritical and cynical game being played out in their name. It is time for the country’s political leaders to wake up too.
blames Saudi Arabia for deadlock, Parliament paralysis
October 28, 2013/By Hussein Dakroub/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Hezbollah indirectly blasted Saudi Arabia Sunday, accusing it of prolonging Lebanon’s political crisis by using its March 14 allies to prevent the formation of a new Cabinet and Parliament from meeting to approve draft laws. The party also accused an Arab Gulf state – a clear reference to Saudi Arabia – of holding Lebanon hostage to settle political scores with Syria, where the regime of President Bashar Assad has accused Riyadh and other Gulf states, Turkey and Western countries of funding and arming Syrian rebel groups fighting to oust it. The accusations by Hezbollah, a key ally of Assad, are bound to heighten tensions in Lebanon, where the March 8 and March 14 parties are sharply split over the 31-month conflict in Syria. The charges come as Lebanon is in the throes of a chronic political crisis, deepened by Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria on the side of Assad’s forces and a Cabinet deadlock which has entered its seventh month with no solution in sight. In what appeared to be coordinated indirect verbal attacks on Saudi Arabia, a number of Hezbollah lawmakers blamed Riyadh for the Cabinet crisis, Parliament’s failure to meet due to lack of quorum, and the latest outbreak of violence between Assad’s supporters and opponents in the northern city of Tripoli, which left at least 16 people dead and over 80 wounded in seven days. “It is the right of the Lebanese public to know who is responsible for setting off the situation in Tripoli, hindering the Cabinet formation and preventing Parliament’s legislative sessions,” Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad told a student graduation ceremony in the southern town of Nabatieh. “There are some regional powers that are exercising a policy of escalation, threatening regional stability and opposing all attempts to find solutions to crises,” Fayyad said. “Lebanon has been taken a hostage by these escalatory policies at the regional level. Lebanon, a country of civilization, has become a hostage of Bedouin policies based on a vendetta mentality and on sectarian hatred.”Fayyad criticized the use of oil wealth to fund armed rebel groups in Syria. “This oil, which is a grace from Almighty God and which was supposed to build misery belts spread throughout the Arab world, is feeding the mentality of explosive belts that are threatening civilians and innocent people.” Two Hezbollah MPs also lashed out at Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal for warning that Lebanon was on the brink of civil war because of Hezbollah’s role in Syria.
“Lebanon is on the brink of civil war as Hezbollah continues to implement its own agenda without giving any consideration to law and order,” Faisal, a former chief of Saudi intelligence, said during a lecture he delivered at the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in Washington on Oct. 22. Responding to Faisal, Hezbollah MP Hasan Fadlallah told a rally in the southern town of Bint Jbeil: “Some are today telling the Lebanese of a civil war and strife, and inciting for strife and civil war in Lebanon. Why should a civil war happen in Lebanon? Why are those who insist on undermining stability and unity among the Lebanese?”He claimed that because “a regional-international project” designed to remove Assad from power was defeated in Syria, “they wanted to wreak havoc with regional countries, including Lebanon.”
Referring to the March 14 coalition, Fadlallah said: “There is a Lebanese political group which has a point of reference abroad. This point of reference has issued orders for the situation in Lebanon to be frozen regardless of the negative consequences on the people’s lives.” Hezbollah MP Nawwaf Musawi also slammed Faisal, blaming the Saudi policy for the paralysis in Parliament and the obstruction of the Cabinet formation.
“What did this lecturer [Faisal] say amounts to threatening Lebanon and the Lebanese. This reveals the policy of this Gulf state toward our country. It is an escalatory subversive policy that puts Lebanon in danger,” Musawi told a memorial ceremony in the southern village of Sowana. He added that this Gulf state, whom he did not name, was to blame for the paralysis in Lebanon’s constitutional institutions: Parliament and the Cabinet.
“This Gulf state is preventing the formation of a government that reflects the real will of the Lebanese people,” Musawi said.
The Future Movement and its March 14 allies have repeatedly accused Hezbollah of obstructing the formation of a new government with its demand for veto power and its insistence that the tripartite equation, “the Army, the people and the resistance,” be mentioned in the Cabinet’s policy statement. Caretaker Health Minister Ali Hasan Khalil acknowledged that the caretaker Cabinet was unable to meet the people’s demands and called for the formation of a new government. “We must push for understanding on the formation of a new government that reflects the balance of power and political representation,” Khalil said. “A government capable of taking decisions at a delicate time through which Lebanon is passing as a result of what is happening in the region.”
No clear information on bishops abducted in Syria: Sayyah
October 28, 2013/The Daily
Star /BEIRUT: There is no clear information regarding the whereabouts of two
bishops abducted in Syria earlier this year, Lebanese Bishop Boulos Sayyah said
a day after Syria’s grand mufti claimed the prelates were in Turkey. “There has
been no clear information about the two abducted bishops in Syria, Paul Yazigi
and Yohanna Ibrahim, since they were kidnapped," Sayyah told al-Mada radio
“Even Qatar does not have a clear picture of the abductors and what they asking for in exchange for the bishops' release,” he added. Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim were abducted in April by armed men while en route to the northern Syrian city from the Turkish border. Reports had placed the bishops in the hands of a small group of rebels in the town of Bshaqtin, 20 kilometers northwest of Aleppo, but Syria’s Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun said Sunday that they were in Turkey. Qatar has recently vowed to help resolve the case of the abducted bishops and try to secure their release.
Sayyah regretted that “the bishops were kidnapped and all these states supporting gunmen are unable to determine their fate.”“The kidnappers have a state backing them and it is the duty of this state to work for revealing the fate of the bishops,” he added.
Lebanon charges 12, including Turk, over explosives-rigged cars
October 28, 2013/The Daily
Star /BEIRUT: Lebanon charged Monday 12 individuals – one of them a Turkish
citizen – with rigging bombs in vehicles, including one that blew up killing a
terrorism suspect in east Lebanon and another recently dismantled in Beirut’s
southern suburbs. Military Prosecutor Saqr Saqr charged all 12 cell members with
"carrying out terrorist acts and booby-trapping cars with the aim of detonating
them in specific parts of Lebanon." Only two of the twelve – Lebanese suspect
Mohammad Nayef Atrash and Mohammad Misbaheddine Ozamir, a Turkish national – are
currently in custody. A judicial source told The Daily Star that one of the
explosive-laden vehicles detonated last week in a narrow valley separating the
mountainous area of Arsal and the Syrian border. Terrorist suspect Omar Atrash
and a local resident identified as Samer Hujeiri were killed in the blast.
Atrash was allegedly involved in planting explosives in Hezbollah strongholds
and killing several soldiers on Arsal’s outskirts. Local media has also reported
that Atrash, who hailed from the Bekaa Valley town of Arsal, was involved in two
car bomb attacks that rocked Bir al-Abed and Ruwaiss in the southern suburbs of
Beirut in July and August, respectively. Atrash is also suspected of planning
two rocket attacks in May that wounded four people in the Beirut southern suburb
of Shiyah. The Lebanese Army also dismantled a rigged vehicle in the Beirut
southern suburb of Maamoura earlier this month. The judicial source said the
suspects - who include eight Lebanese, a Syrian and an Iraqi national at large -
could face the death penalty if convicted. The Lebanese and Turkish suspects
have been referred to Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghayda.
Christians and Alawites target of Tripoli attacks
October 28, 2013/By Misbah al-Ali/The Daily Star
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Residents of the Tripoli neighborhood of Zahrieh were still reeling from attacks targeting businesses owned by Christians and Alawites over the weekend, with some fearing the incidents were meant to fuel sectarian hostilities. The attacks took place overnight by unidentified armed men, as owners were surprised to learn early Friday when they arrived at the main street of Zahrieh to open up their shops. They rummaged through the debris, as many shops had been burned, to see if any of their merchandise could be salvaged.
All of the owners belong to the Christian and Alawite communities of Zahrieh, causing some observers to muse that they were paying the price for long-standing sectarian tensions in the northern city.
The affected shop owners, identified as Fadi Khoury, Jean Maamari, George Rachkidi, Farid Estephan, Tamim al-Atrash and the owners of retail chains Eskandar and the Nidal boutique, expressed frustration over the incidents, saying they were shocked and saddened that their properties had been damaged and fearful that there were certain parties in Tripoli seeking to remove them from the city.
Belonging to a minority group in Tripoli, some shop owners said they didn’t have authority figures to complain to either.
“My neighbor called at 6 a.m., and told me that plumes of smoke could be seen billowing from my shops after unidentified men attacked the stores and threw fire bombs,” shop owner Maamari told The Daily Star. “When we arrived at the scene it was horrible, we could see our properties and stores, our only means of making a living, burning before our eyes.”
“There is no one here to protect us, because we live in Tripoli,” Maamari said dejected. Residents have long complained that the area is underdeveloped and constantly overlooked by the government, centered in Beirut.
Both Maamari and his neighbor, the owner of Adib Khoury, a retail shop, refused to say they were attacked because they were Christian, but did say they believed those who planned the attack aimed to demolish coexistence in Tripoli and portray the city as an anarchic hub for gangs. “Those who burned our shops don’t want to drive us away from here because we are Christians, but because they don’t want Muslims to live side by side with Christians in one city,” Khoury said. “Our Muslim neighbors and relatives have suffered similar attacks in the past.”
He added: “My [Muslim] neighbor told me this morning that they would not stay in Tripoli if we decide to leave, because if we leave we would be taking away a cherished part of his daily routine and his memories.”
The Muslim residents of the neighborhood helped to console their Christian and Alawite neighbors, relieving some shop owners. However, some expressed fear that the attacks would occur again, aiming to drive them away from the northern city. Some pointed to the example of the Christian-owned Paul Mansour chain that moved its offices to Zghorta because of recurrent attacks and robberies on employees.
The city is still plunged in the most recent bout of violence, which has killed at least 16 people and wounded 75 and erupted last week after Syrian President Bashar Assad made a televised appearance. Some say calm will remain restive, as the preponderance of armed gangs, comprised mostly of young men, still wield power in the area. Even Army personnel turn a blind eye to their activities, some residents say.
Some armed groups are collecting protection money from residents, claiming this was the only way to guard shop owners from attacks and theft.
Shop owners in general were hesitant to talk of the rise of protection racketeering in their neighborhoods, fearing reprisals from gangs.
Residents complained that some gangs were protecting those carrying out construction violations, some of which are even encroaching on public properties. Gang members are even building on top of already standing edifices illegally, residents said. The gangs have threatened security forces with arms when ordered to hand them over to state institutions. They said they would not hand over their weapons until Hezbollah relinquished control of its arsenal as well. The neighborhood of Zahrieh is close to the traditional front lines in Tripoli, separating the neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh. Its residents say it is still a model of coexistence, despite the security situation. Zahrieh features many churches and Christian schools and before the 1967 war was inhabited by Muslims, Christians and Jews. Elderly residents recall the presence of the latter community, pointing to one notable figure named Joseph Mizrahi and his two brothers. The Mizrahi family fled the area in 1967 and now resides in France. Family members are still in touch with their former neighbors in Tripoli.
Architect Hadi Ghamrawi, a Muslim resident, said he studied in one of the Christian schools run by the Rev. Carmelo Venianos.
“We are all the sons of Tripoli,” he said. “In our school thousands of students from Zghorta, Akkar, Bsharri and Dinnieh came to learn. It’s a shame we look at one another from a sectarian perspective.”
“I am proud because I was raised by a Christian man,” he said of Carmelo. “I feel as though he is a second father to me.”
Kerry, Quite Contrary: US Secretary of State Reveals Ignorance on Iranian
by Nima Shirazi/Foreign Policy Journal
John Kerry on CBS 60 Minutes
In an extensive interview with Scott Pelley on CBS‘ “60 Minutes” on September 30, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry revealed a startling lack of awareness of certain basic facts regarding Iran’s nuclear program and the history of various proposals Iran has made to alleviate suspicion over its intentions.
Such ignorance goes a long way to explaining how and faulty and false information is disseminated by politicians, goes unchallenged by the press and is subsequently regurgitated by professional pundits who take government declarations at face value without engaging in either critical thinking or independent verification.
Interviews such as Kerry’s on “60 Minutes” effectively launder lies by turning false information into uncontested fact, simply by virtue of their repetition by someone believed to be both knowledgeable and reputable.
During the interview, the Secretary of State and interviewer Scott Pelley said a great many questionable things; however, perhaps none was as egregious as this bizarre exchange:
John Kerry: Iran needs to take rapid steps, clear and convincing steps, to live up to the international community’s requirements regarding nuclear programs, peaceful nuclear programs.
Scott Pelley: Give me an example, one concrete step, one thing that they can do to assure the world that they’re giving up their ambitions.
John Kerry: They could immediately open up inspection of the Fordow facility, a secret facility and underground in the mountains. They could immediately sign the protocols, the additional protocols of the international community regarding inspections. They could offer to cease voluntarily to take enrichment above a certain level, because there’s no need to have it at a higher level for a peaceful program.
Scott Pelley: Enrichment of uranium, which is what happens at Fordow.
John Kerry: Correct.
Scott Pelley: Throw the doors open to that place.
John Kerry: Well, that, among other things. Look, I believe, that we have hopes. President Obama clearly welcomes President Rouhani’s overtures. But words are not going to replace actions. What we need are actions that prove that we and our allies, our friends in the region, can never be threatened by this program.
Scott Pelley: But the United States would look favorably on relaxing or eliminating the sanctions if the Iranians were serious about abandoning their nuclear weapon.
Where to begin?
First, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors and safeguards “international community’s requirements regarding nuclear programs” has never once found Iran to be in violation of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has consistently affirmed that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful, as no nuclear material has ever been diverted to a military program.
Regardless of what questions may remain about Iran’s past research or hypothetical ambitions, the IAEA has repeatedly noted ”that the Agency has not detected the actual use of nuclear material in connection with the alleged studies.”
Pelley’s weird comment about “the Iranians…abandoning their nuclear weapon,” literally makes no sense considering that the United States intelligence community and its allies have long assessed that Iran is not and never has been in possession of nuclear weapons, is not building nuclear weapons, and its leadership has not made any decision to build nuclear weapons.
Beyond this, though, the “one concrete step” Kerry suggests to Pelley that Iran might do to signal its transparency and good intentions is something Iran is already doing.
Kerry states that Iran “could immediately open up inspection of the Fordow facility, a secret facility and underground in the mountains,” yet the enrichment facility at Fordow is already open to intrusive IAEA inspections and has been since being declared to the agency by Iran itself in September 2009.
The site was announced by Iran to the IAEA on September 21, 2009, well in advance of the 180 days before becoming operational as required by Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. At the time, the facility was still under construction and did not actually begin uranium enrichment until early January 2012, roughly 840 days after it had been declared to the IAEA. The facility was subsequently described as “a hole in a mountain” and “nothing to be worried about” by then-IAEA Secretary General Mohammed ElBaradei.
When the plant began operation, IAEA spokesman Gill Tudor confirmed to the press that “all nuclear material in the facility remains under the agency’s containment and surveillance.” To date, this continues to be true.
Furthermore, Iran has never refused IAEA inspectors admission to any of its safeguarded nuclear sites. All sites and facilities are under video surveillance, readily accessible to IAEA inspectors, open to routine inspection, and subject to material seals application by the agency. In addition to the two regular inspections all of Iran’s enrichment facilities are subject to each and every month, “two unannounced inspections are conducted every month at Fordow,” according to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
So, when Pelley suggests—and Kerry concurs—that Iran should “throw the doors open” to Fordow as a sign of good faith and legal obligation, they reveal their staggering ignorance of the facts on the ground.
uclear expert Mark Hibbs has explained on the Arms Control Wonkblog,”There are IAEA safeguards personnel in Iran 24/7/365,” pointing out that inspectors enter and examine enrichment sites like Fordow “frequently and routinely,” where they carry out “two kinds of inspections: ‘announced inspections’ and ‘short-notice announced inspections.’” The “announced inspections” are conducted with “24-hour notification” given to Iran, while “Iran’s subsidiary arrangements in fact permit the IAEA to conduct a short-notice inspection upon two hours’ notice.”
Former Iranian nuclear negotiator Seyed Hossein Mousavian, now a lecturer at Princeton University, has noted, “Since 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has implemented the most robust inspections in its history with more than 100 unannounced and over 4000 man-day inspections in Iran.” And in 2012 alone, IAEA investigators spent 1,356 calendar days in Iran, conducting 215 on-site inspections of the country’s 16 declared nuclear facilities, and spending more than 12% of the agency’s entire $127.8 million budget on intrusively monitoring the Iranian program, which fields only a single functional nuclear reactor that doesn’t even operate at full capacity. Again, no diversion of nuclear material to a military program has ever—ever—beenfound.
Sami Gemayel to Nasrallah: 662 Lebanese detained in Syria
October 28, 2013/The Daily
BEIRUT: Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel dismissed Monday Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah's account of Lebanese nationals missing in Syria, saying their whereabouts were known and that most are being detained in Syrian prisons. “The 662 names that we have are in Syria, Sayyed Hasan, and they are not missing but have been detained and kidnapped,” Gemayel told reporters after his party’s weekly meeting in Bikfaya. “They were kidnapped by Syrian forces and put in Syrian prisons and we have files for all the names, that also include witness testimony, documents and the visitation permits given to their relatives,” he said.
Lebanese non-governmental organizations argue they have names of over 500 people who went missing during the Civil War and are still being held in Syrian prisons.
Gemayel described the detainees as members of the Army and civilians who fought against Syrian forces. He said the state has failed to help the families of the detainees.
“Do you want us to kill, block roads, hurt and kidnap people?" the MP asked, referring to state authorities. He families have a more civil means of pressuring for the release of their relatives, he added, by protesting outside the offices of ministers and the United Nations. Addressing Nasrallah, Gemayel said: “You are an honorable man with your rivalries and alliances so don't cover up on the issue of the detainees whose location is known.”
During a televised speech earlier Monday, the Hezbollah leader said the recent release of nine Lebanese hostages held by Syrian rebels had raised the issue of many Lebanese who went missing during the Civil War. “The release of the hostages opened the wounds of some families of the missing and detained who were taken to Syria,” Nasrallah said. “It is useful to designate someone to take responsibility for this issue, especially because there have been some efforts in the past to exchange lists of names between Syria and Lebanon,” he added. He also said such an issue should remain distanced from political disputes and should not be used for political purposes.
The Hezbollah leader said that Syrian authorities have informed him of their intention to resolve this case of the missing Lebanese.
Nasrallah said releasing detainees has always been a priority for Hezbollah, given that the resistance group has repeatedly called for the release of its members detained by Israel.
“We have some 17,000 missing in Israel, mostly Lebanese and some Palestinians. These issues should be part of a serious framework of constant follow-up with one person responsible to work on the case,” Nasrallah said.
He said a state that adopts such measures is one that "respects its citizens and respects itself."
Gemayel also criticized Nasrallah for differentiating between detainees in “sisterly Syria and others held in enemy prisons."
“Syria shelled Lebanon and kidnapped Lebanese, violated its sovereignty on land, at sea and its airspace,” Gemayel said.
“Syria destroyed Lebanon and occupied it. Syria has done what an emery would do in our opinion and therefore, [I think] categorizing an enemy should be based on actions not identity,” he added.
Meanwhile, the NGO Support of Lebanese in Detention and Exile said they were relieved with Nasrallah’s remarks urging that a committee be formed to follow up on the disappeared and to keep the issue separate from politics.“This is what we have always and are still calling all officials to do,” the group said in a statement. They have long called for drafting a law to establish a draft law to establish an independent national commission for the victims of enforced disappearances. In August 2012, caretaker Justic Minister Shakib Qortbawi had submitted a draft decree to establish an the national commission to investigate the fate of the missing Lebanese in Syria and elsewhere.
Hassan Nasrallah: Security,Oil in Lebanon Bear no Delay, Syrian Army Winner on
Local Editor /AlMannar
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah stressed Monday that liberating the nine Lebanese citizens who were kidnapped and held in Syria's Aazaz for 17 months gives hope to the families of the rest Lebanese missing and kidnapped people that their day of freedom is near to come.
During a speech he delivered on the 25th anniversary of Al-Rasoul Al-Aazam hospital in Shahed School of Beirut southern suburb, Sayyed Nasrallah underlined the Syrian situation militarily and politically and the Lebanese internal situation regarding the oil file and the security developments.
His eminence congratulated Aazaz liberated Lebanese thanking all those who contributed to their freedom and emphasizing that the two bishops, Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazeji, must be freed, which represents a mutual concern between the Lebanese and the Syrian people.
"All the Lebanese who were kidnapped due to the events in Syria must be freed, including Hassan al-Miqdad, Samir Kassa and the residents of Maaroub town," Sayyed Nasralla said, stressing that someone should be delegated to follow-up on such affairs in order to know the responsible for the kidnapping and to "open the door for old files," and calling the Lebanese judiciary to review the file to know reasons behind their kidnapping.
"If we are in a respectful state, humanitarian issues must be reviewed regardless any political aspects... Regarding the Indonesian boat (which sank last month) the Lebanon reclaimed its citizens... This is the school of Resistance which does not accept to keep prisoners and bodies of martyrs for its enemy," His eminence noted, stating that there are more pending files with the Zionist enemy and the Syrian brother.
"As for the Israeli side, files regarding the missing Lebanese are still pending since the invasion and the occupation era, including Yahya Skaf. The Israeli army bears the responsibility of all those missing whether by Lebanese militia groups, Lahd army or Antony Haddad army," Sayyed Nasrallah stated.
Hezbollah Secretary General also noted that "there are 17 thousand missing persons due to the Israeli occupation, including the four Iranian diplomats along with other people during the Lebanese war," calling for "the formation of a serious framework and appointing of a certain party to follow-up on the matter.
"I've got a clear word from the Syrian government that aims at reaching a reasonable ending for those files. This issue requires solution at the end of the day," he stressed, underlying the case of Imam Sayyed Musa al-Sadr with whom contact had been lost since he went to Libya in 1979.
"Another very serious file emerges ... The case of the Imam of Resistance who lifted oppression on people. The case which has nothing to do with a family, sect or people. It is all about the dignity of the nation. It is a pure national case ... We've sent letters to Iran urging to exert double efforts to bring Imam Sadr's case to an end," his eminence said, pointing out that Moussa Koussa, former Libyan foreign minister during Moammar Gaddafi's era, and Abdulla al-Sanosi are wandering in the Arab capitals' hotels while they both had worked for the Libyan intelligence and know the place of Imam Sadr.
"There is also another man whom the Libyan authorities must interrogate. He is found in the prison and they are hindering the matter."
Domestically, Sayyed Nasrallah expressed beliefs that Syrian events are affecting everything in Lebanon, because a certain Lebanese party hindered matters on the basis of waiting the results in Syria and the fall of President Bashar al-Assad, and that there are people who do not want to rturn to Lebanon only via Damascus airport.
"The Lebanese people become sick of hindering accusations, and they know - more than others - who is hindering the Parliament, the legislation, the dialogue, the caretaker cabinet sessions and the formation of a new government," his eminence said.
On Syria, Sayyed Nasrallah noted that major development occurred during the last months, where the battlefield evolves in favor of the Syrian army, underlying the inability of armed groups to change the game rules, due to the international and Arab change of direction following opposition limitations to unify ranks and the failure of any possible military action on Syria.
"The whole world believes that there will be no military solution for Syria. The available and acceptable solution is the political one," Sayyed Nasrallah stated, adding that "the available way for political option is through dialogue without precondition.
"Talks on Geneva II conference open horizons regardless conditions and details. Lebanon and all peoples of the region must push towards the political solution in Syria," he said, indicating that there are regional countries very mad about what is going on in the region, "i.e. the Saudi Arabia, which is not secret, that attracted tens of thousands of fighters from across the world," and provided them with $ 30 billion so far, along with weapons, incitement, mass media and other tools.
"They (the Saudis) did their best to topple Syria but they failed."
"The region cannot keep ablaze just because there are angry countries. There is a state which wants to hinder the dialogue and to postpone Geneva II, but all those who oppose the political solution in Syria are drinking from the same well. Those who oppose the solution want more destruction in Syria, in the regional states and in Palestine," his eminence highlighted.
Sayyed Nasrallah made it clear that stubbornly has no horizons at all, and catching the opportunity of dialogue is a chance for all other parties:
"All those whose hearts beat for the Syrian people must point their fingers at the party which hinders the political solution... It is the responsibility of the nation. Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League are calling for a political solution."
Hezbollah Secretary General voiced beliefs that the local, regional and international front which worked on toppling the regime in Syria have failed.
Sayyed Nasrallah also called March 14 bloc and al-Mustaqbal party not to hinder the formation of the new Lebanese cabinet, warning that any delay will improve the situation of the other party, indicating that the chain of salaries, the oil file, the electoral draft law and the presidency of the Republic are all pending issues that must be solved.
"Your bets on Syria have failed," he told March 14 figures, adding that everyone feels the country is disabled.
"March 14 believes that the solution is to form cabinet before going to dialogue, before the legislation and before other things. We've agreed upon the 9-9-6 formula but they haven't. If they agreed, the country would be better, there would be room for dialogue, the parliament would return to tackle the people's affairs, and all resolutions which do not need the approval of two thirds would pass. We can solve all other problems," Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah stated.
"If there isn't any possibility to form the cabinet, is it acceptable to disable the parliament for unconstitutional reasons?" he asked, pointing that the vast majority of the ministers agree on holding a cabinet session to review the oil file and the security events in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli, but there are heavy political pressure since caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati resigned.
"If only those for whom Mikati resigned respect him. They attack him every day," Sayyed Nasrallah said, adding that there are two serious files that bear no delay.
Firstly, his eminence urged the government to tackle the oil file without preconditions, indicating that "the Israelis are working day and night while we cannot meet," describing such obstacles as "failure to do our duties" regarding this matter.
Secondly, Sayyed Nasrallah called for handling the Lebanese security situation in general and Tripoli events in particular, stating that what is going on in the northern city is painful for everyone and what we really need is the political will and a definite decision that the Lebanese army and other security apparatuses to handle situation there.
"This is the solution. the only solution is to call on the Lebanese army and the state, not to call on the Al-Nusra Front and ISIL (the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Levant)," he stressed.
His eminence urged clerics in Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen neighborhoods in Tripoli to issue Fatwas that ban fighting and shooting at the army, noting that "state agencies know about the bombings and explosions, they know the locations of booby-trapped cars but didn't move a finger."
"Perpetrators shouldn't have any political cover because every explosion is condemned and all the people are under risk," he said.
Sayyed Nasrallah expressed hopes that a national humanitarian establishment to be created, indicating that not only the Christian presence is threatened, but entire peoples in the region as well.
"The entire region is moving towards more conflicts," he said.
"Therefore, shall we act with the mentality that our country needs careful attention?" Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah ended up asking.