April 18/14


Bible Quotation for today/Good Friday

John 19,31-37/: "Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘None of his bones shall be broken.’
And again another passage of scripture says, ‘They will look on the one whom they have pierced.’


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For April 18/14

Hezbollah softens approach in Lebanon, hardens stance in Syria/By: Joyce Karam/Al Arabiyia/April 18/14

Opinion: Profuse Apologies to Sykes and Picot/By: Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Alawsat/April 18/14

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For April 18/14

Lebanese Related News

Al-Rahi Washes Feet of Roumieh Inmates, Urges Quick Trials

Salam Meets al-Rahi, Sees No Reason for Presidential Elections to Be Postponed
Report: Mustaqbal Movement to Support Geagea for Presidency
Abdullah Azzam Brigades Member Arrested, Death Penalty Issued against 6 Fugitives

Suleiman and Salam Hail Security Plans in Tripoli and Bekaa

Suleiman Congratulates Geagea on his Vision for 'Strong Republic'
Israeli Army Kidnaps 5 Lebanese from Shebaa

Arab-Israeli Journalist under House Arrest after Lebanon Visit

General Security Detains Gang Kingpin for Counterfeiting Return Cards

Berri Denies Parliament Can't Discuss Wage Hike during Presidential Elections

Senior Officials to Head to Vatican to Celebrate Sainthood of Two Popes

Jumblat Refuses to Announce his Nominee for Presidency ahead of Parliamentary Session

Report: Gemayel to Announce Candidacy this Week

Syria war has changed Hezbollah's tactics

30 arrest warrants for Tripoli clashes suspects

Miscellaneous Reports And News

Scenarios of possible Canadian involvement in Syria revealed
Saudi Spy Chief Ousted under U.S. Pressure

Jordanian air strike destroyed Al Qaeda raider force heading for US military base

Pilot Killed in Jordan Military Plane Crash

Former Iran atomic agency head tells about sabotaged material, deceiving IAEA
Iran in Compliance with Nuclear Freeze

Iranian official: US sabotaging nuclear program

Iran negotiators reject criticism of nuke talks

Abbas willing to extend peace talks by 9 months

Brahimi Says Talks on Lifting Homs Siege Should Restart
Gulf Ministers to Meet over Qatar Dispute
Syria Presidential Hopefuls to Register from Monday

Syria Rebels Attack Army Barracks in Aleppo

Algeria's Bouteflika Votes in Wheelchair in 4th Term Bid

Confident Putin Keeps All Options Open on Ukraine

115 Nigeria Schoolgirls Still Missing after Kidnap

Turkish parliament approves wider spy agency powers

Scenarios of possible Canadian involvement in Syria revealed
By Dina al-Shibeeb | Al Arabiya News
Thursday, 17 April 2014
Internal documents obtained by a Canadian newspaper show that Ottawa has drawn up at least five scenarios in which it could be involved in the three-year Syrian conflict, including the deployment of Canadian Forces. The Ottawa Citizen paper said on Monday that while Canada’s federal government has no official plans so far for the country to be dragged in the conflict, the National Defense has developed five scenarios to address the problem of “rapidly deteriorating conditions in Syria, its impact on neighboring countries and … the importance of Middle East stability.”
Military intervention is included in one of the potential scenarios, per the existence of is “a legitimate armed opposition group has been recognized” by Canada.
The scenarios rest on the several assumptions, such as the Syrian government remains “defiant,” and include possible outcomes for each plan, including those “most likely” and the “worst case.”
Worst case scenarios include extremist groups getting ahold of advanced or chemical weapons or the conflict spilling beyond Syria’s borders.
Further specifics about the remaining scenarios have been censored. Theodore Karasik, the Dubai-based Director of Research and Consultancy at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA), reasons that the conflict affects a myriad of countries not just in the region but globally. “Many countries face the threat from the Syrian theater because jihadists there have gained incredible battlefield experience and were further indoctrinated of jihadist violence,” he told Al Arabiya News. Karasik urged all countries prepare adequately if they intervene in the conflict which must include a contingency plan. “Not only militaries but police forces have to be prepared as well,” he added. While the United States and its main ally, the United Kingdom, have both had their parliaments veto a military airstrike against the Syrian regime over chemical weapons accusations last year, a source who spoke to Al Arabiya News on the condition of anonymity said “in [neighboring] Jordan, the Brits are on ground already, in special operations forces.” Hinting at additional covert support from other nations, the source added: “It is to varying degrees of how these [NATO] countries are involved and under what circumstances.”Additional documents show that Canada has already started training anti-sectarian activists, journalists and others so they can provide a political alternative to Islamic extremist groups if the fighting stops.


Salam Meets al-Rahi, Sees No Reason for Presidential Elections to Be Postponed
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam expressed on Thursday his optimism that the presidential elections will be held on time and according to democratic practices. He said: “We believe that the polls can be held given that Lebanon has been respecting its democracy as demonstrated through the formation of the government and the various parliamentary sessions that have been held lately.”
He made his remarks after holding talks at Bkirki with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on the occasion of the Easter holidays. “There is no reason for the polls to be postponed seeing as democracy is being applied,” stressed Salam. “We have no reason to be doubtful of the elections,” he continued.The premier stated that he is keen on respecting the wishes of al-Rahi in holding the elections on time, saying: “It is our duty to comply with national demands, especially if they are made by Bkirki.” President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ends in May. The constitutional deadline to elect a president began on March 25 and ends of May 25. Earlier this week, Speaker Nabih Berri called for a parliament session for April 23 to elect a president. So far, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea is the only candidate to submit his candidacy.

Suleiman and Salam Hail Security Plans in Tripoli and Bekaa

Naharnet /President Michel Suleiman and PM Tammam Salam hailed on Thursday the security plans implemented in the northern city of Tripoli and the eastern Bekaa Valley, and agreed to intensify security measures mainly near places of worship during the holidays, the state-run National News Agency reported. Suleiman held a security meeting at the Baabda Presidential Palace in the presence of Salam, Minister of Defense Salim Moqbel, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq in addition to several security and military chiefs. Pointing to the success of the security plan implemented in Tripoli and Bekaa, the interlocutors agreed to intensify measures near houses of worship to cut the way short on any terrorist plot. The officials also highlighted the necessity to enhance security mainly on the airport road now that the tourism season is looming which would appease tourists coming to Lebanon. The remote border village of al-Tufail and its residents' miserable living conditions was also discussed and the officials agreed to coordinate efforts in a bid open the roads to and from the isolated village. The security plan was first implemented in Tripoli in an attempt to put an end to the clashes that frequently erupt between the city's rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen. It was then implemented in the Bekaa region, with the security forces cracking down on gunmen, car theft gangs, and other outlaws.

General Security Detains Gang Kingpin for Counterfeiting Return Cards
Naharnet /A kingpin and two members of his cell were detained by the Lebanese General Security over charges of counterfeiting return cards to Lebanon. The general security said a communique issued on Thursday that the head of the gang, who was identified by his initials, Kh. Aa. and Lebanese national Aa. Gh. and Syrian national Kh. Aa. were arrested after carrying out the necessary investigations. The three men are charged with forming a network specialized in forging return cards to Lebanon in return for a sum of money that could reach $100. The felons were referred to the competent authority.
The statement pointed out that the general security will continue investigations to apprehend the rest of the gang's members

Suleiman Congratulates Geagea on his Vision for 'Strong Republic'
Naharnet /President Michel Suleiman has telephoned Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea to congratulate him on the announcement of his candidacy for the presidential elections and his platform, the LF chief's press office said Thursday. The terse statement said the phone conversation between Suleiman and Geagea took place on Wednesday night. “Suleiman congratulated him on the announcement of his candidacy for the presidency and his presidential program, and lauded … its clear vision for a strong Republic,” it said. Geagea announced on Wednesday his presidential program that focused on restoring the authority of the state against the proliferation of weapons during a time of regional unrest. The LF chief also called for a state monopoly on the use of force, including confronting Israel. He is the sole politician to have officially announced his candidacy for the polls, whose first round is scheduled to be held on April 23. Speaker Nabih Berri called on MPs to meet next Wednesday, although the election is not expected to be a easy process amid a lack of agreement on a consensual candidate. President Michel Suleiman's six-year tenure ends on May 25.

Report: Gemayel to Announce Candidacy this Week
Naharnet/Kataeb party leader Amin Gemayel has informed his allies that he would officially announce his candidacy for the presidency, the party's officials said. As Safir daily quoted the officials, who were not identified, as saying that Gemayel, a former president, informed the March 14 coalition that he would make the announcement by the end of this week. According to An Nahar newspaper, the Kataeb leadership held a meeting on Wednesday night to assess the presidential elections after Speaker Nabih Berri called for a meeting to elect a new head of state on April 23 and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea launched his program. Geagea is the sole politician to have officially announced his candidacy for the polls. Other candidates include Gemayel, who along with Geagea is a member of March 14, and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, who according to sources in al-Joumhouria has informed his March 8 ally Hizbullah that he is prepared to take the post if there was consensus on him.
Aoun has reportedly sent similar messages to al-Mustaqbal movement leader Saad Hariri who leads the March 14 camp. Berri has said that any candidate must secure two-thirds of votes to win in the first round of elections and half-plus-one or 65 votes of the 128-member parliament to win in the second round. A Kataeb official told An Nahar that the party does not veto any candidate.
But he stressed that “no one asked the Kataeb on its point of view although it is in continuous contact with all parties.”The official hinted that Gemayel is capable of receiving the support of MPs from outside the two major camps – the March 8 and 14 alliances. He said Kataeb lawmakers will attend the parliamentary session next Wednesday. Kataeb MP Elie Marouni also told Voice of Lebanon (100.5) that his party believes Gemayel could be a strong president. Parliament should choose a head of state by May 25, when President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ends.

Jumblat Refuses to Announce his Nominee for Presidency ahead of Parliamentary Session
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat refused to reveal the name of his candidate to the presidency a day after Speaker Nabih Berri called for a session to elect a new head of state.
“Those who want to know my candidate for the presidency should wait until the parliamentary session,” Jumblat said in comments published in As Safir newspaper. “I will not announce my stance now,” he added. On Wednesday, Berri called for a parliamentary session to elect a new president on April 23. Berri has said that a candidate should receive two-thirds of votes to win in the first round of elections and half-plus-one or 65 votes of the 128-member parliament to win in the second round. President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ends on May 25, but the Constitutional deadline for parliament to start convening to elect a new head of state started on March 25. Under the 1943 power-sharing agreement, the president should be a Maronite, the prime minister a Sunni and the speaker a Shiite.
On Wednesday, Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, a Maronite Christian, has announced his program for the presidency, a week after he officially declared his candidacy. Al-Joumhouria newspaper reported that Jumblat held talks on Wednesday night with the adviser of al-Mustaqbal movement leader, Nader Hariri. The newspaper said that the two officials discussed the latest developments and coordinated their stance concerning the upcoming first round of parliamentary sessions to elect a new president. Hariri had previously held a meeting with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, who had reportedly informed him that Free Patriotic Movement chief Michel Aoun will not announce his candidacy for the presidency if there was no political consensus on him. Similar meetings were held in the past week between Geagea and Saad Hariri's envoy.

Senior Officials to Head to Vatican to Celebrate Sainthood of Two Popes

Naharnet /Lebanese officials will attend the ceremonies that would canonize two of the 20th century's most influential popes together. According to al-Liwaa newspaper published on Thursday, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi will head to the Vatican on April 24 to participate in declaring Popes John Paul II and John XXIII saints. The patriarch will be followed by President Michel Suleiman.
The two popes will be canonized together in St Peter's Basilica on April 27, with many pilgrims -- anything from hundreds of thousands to a few million -- expected. Analysts have said the decision to canonize them together was aimed at unifying the church, since each pope has his admirers and critics. A spokesman for Poland's bishops' conference, the Rev. Jozef Kloch, said the dual canonizations would stress the fact that John Paul II continued the ideas introduced by John XXIII, who called Vatican II. Originally, the canonization was expected to have taken place Dec. 8. But Polish bishops complained that a December date would make it difficult for Polish pilgrims to come to the Vatican by bus along snowy, icy roads. As a result, the first Sunday after Easter was chosen instead — a feast day established by John Paul himself. It was on that same feast day — Divine Mercy Sunday — that John Paul was beatified in 2011, drawing 1.5 million pilgrims to Rome. John Paul made Jorge Mario Bergoglio — the current Pope Francis — a cardinal. Francis' immense popular appeal has also been likened to that of John XXIII, dubbed the "good pope."

Berri Denies Parliament Can't Discuss Wage Hike during Presidential Elections
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri has denied that the parliament would not be able to vote on the controversial wage scale after he called on MPs to meet to elect a new president on April 23.
“The two issues are not linked,” the speaker told An Nahar newspaper published on Thursday. Berri's denial came after critics warned that the parliament would not be able to convene to legislate.
Article 75 of the Constitution states that “the chamber meeting to elect the president … shall be considered an electoral body and not a legislative assembly. It must proceed immediately, without discussion of any other act, to elect the head of the state.” But Telecommunications Minister Butros Harb, who is a lawyer, told An Nahar that Article 73 of the Constitution, which states that parliament should convene a month at least and two months at most before the end of the president's term, does not say that the assembly cannot legislate. “This means that legislation and the elections could take place until May15,” when President Michel Suleiman's six-year tenure ends, Harb said. Berri's call for a parliamentary meeting next Wednesday is expected to be the first in several attempts to elect a president.
But the parliament has an important item on its agenda, the controversial pay hike which will be studied by a committee before allowing MPs to deliberate on it. The assembly formed the committee on Tuesday after lawmakers failed to agree on the wage scale over fears that the state lacked the appropriate sources to fund it. The committee will meet on Thursday to propose an amended version to the draft-law and put it up for discussion in parliament around the beginning of May. The controversy on the pay raise has led to protests and strikes by the Syndicate Coordination Committee, which has also announced an open-ended strike on April 29. The SCC is a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employee.

Arab-Israeli Journalist under House Arrest after Lebanon Visit
Naharnet /An Arab Israeli journalist has been arrested after making a visit to Lebanon, his mother said Thursday, on suspicion he could have joined a "hostile organization." Majd Kayyal, 23, from the northern coastal city of Haifa, crossed into Jordan on March 23 and traveled on to Lebanon for a conference organized by As-Safir newspaper, Israel's Shin Bet domestic security agency said.
A Shin Bet spokeswoman stressed Lebanon is defined as "an enemy country" and Israelis are prohibited from visiting. "A suspicion arose that he was recruited by a hostile organization, and therefore upon his return on April 12 he was arrested by police and taken to us for questioning," she told Agence France Presse. Kayyal was later released from custody but placed under house arrest until April 22, when he will stand trial, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement. Public radio said Kayyal was suspected of contacts with Hizbullah, an archfoe of Israel. The spokeswoman said Kayyal had arranged the paperwork to enter Lebanon through the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Kayyal had been already questioned by security services in 2011 for having taken part in an aid flotilla to the besieged Gaza Strip, she said. Speaking to AFP, Kayyal's mother Suhair Badarni said he worked for As-Safir, and that the family "did not consider Lebanon an enemy country". "They are trying to prevent us from contact with our Arab surroundings," she said. "Israeli Jewish reporters have gone to Lebanon and Syria who haven’t been investigated." Kayyal's arrest was placed under a gag order, which an Israeli court lifted on Thursday. Arab Israeli rights group Adalah said the gag order was to prevent public debate about "the prohibition on Palestinian citizens of Israel from entering numerous Arab countries".
Adalah, which also employs Kayyal, said "the crimes for which Kayyal is accused are essentially carrying out his duty as a journalist, and his rights to freedom of movement and freedom of expression."
The Shin Bet spokeswoman said the agency would decide in coming days how to proceed with the investigation and charges of "entering an enemy country."Source/Agence France Presse

Report: Mustaqbal Movement to Support Geagea for Presidency
Naharnet /Al-Mustaqbal Movement will adopt the candidacy of its ally Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea for the presidency, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Thursday. Sources close to the LF said in remarks published in the daily that Mustaqbal lawmaker Ahmed Fatfat, who attended Geagea's presidential program launching in Maarab on Wednesday, has reportedly informed the Christian leader of al-Mustaqbal's candidate. “The movement decided to support Geagea's candidacy for the presidency,” the sources quoted Fatfat as saying. The newspaper said that al-Mustaqbal's official decision is expected to be announced after the Easter holiday and the meeting of the March 14 General-Secretariat. The daily said that the heavy participation of Mustaqbal officials in Geagea's presidential campaign launching is a further indication that the movement's chief Saad Hariri will support the LF leader's program. On Wednesday, Speaker Nabih Berri called for a parliamentary session to elect a new president on April 23.
Berri has said that a candidate should receive two-thirds of votes to win in the first round of elections and half-plus-one or 65 votes of the 128-member parliament to win in the second round. President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ends on May 25, but the Constitutional deadline for parliament to start convening to elect a new head of state started on March 25. Geagea is the only presidential hopeful who had officially announced his candidacy.

Al-Rahi Washes Feet of Roumieh Inmates, Urges Quick Trials

Naharnet/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi washed the feet of 12 prisoners on Holy Thursday, calling for the quick trial of inmates who have been held without receiving sentences. During his sermon at Roumieh prison, al-Rahi considered every person “innocent until proven guilty.”The patriarch also called on the state to assume full responsibilities towards the prisoners. Earlier, al-Rahi washed and kissed the feet of a dozen prisoners in Roumieh, Lebanon's largest prison, which has roughly 4,000 inmates.  The ceremony was held in the courtyard of the 200,000 square meter prison's block D.
The feet washing ritual commemorates Jesus' gesture of humility towards his apostles the night before he was crucified. Top security and military officials attended the rite. Algeria's Bouteflika Votes in Wheelchair in 4th Term Bid

Israeli Army Kidnaps 5 Lebanese from Shebaa

Naharnet /The Israeli army kidnapped on Thursday five Lebanese, including 2 women and a child, from Lebanese territories in the South. The kidnapping occurred in the farm of Bastara after a unit crossed the technical fence, said the army in a statement. It identified the two men as Shebaa shepherds Hassan Zahra and his brother Ismail Zahra. The two women are Nuhad Awad and Wafaa Ali Moussa while the child's name is Wouroud Hussein Zahra, it said. The women were detained after they attempted to thwart the kidnapping, but Israel later released them, stated the army communique. The Lebanese army and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon held contacts to secure the freedom of the two men. Israel occasionally kidnaps shepherds, claiming they were in Israeli territories. But it later sets them free after questioning them.

Abdullah Azzam Brigades Member Arrested, Death Penalty Issued against 6 Fugitives

Naharnet/Army Intelligence arrested a member of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades terrorist group, while Military Examining Magistrate Fadi Sawan asked on Thursday for the death penalty against six Palestinian fugitives on charges of forming an armed group aimed at carrying out terrorist attacks. Palestinian Bilal Kayed Kayed was arrested on charges of carrying out criminal acts in Lebanon, announced the army in a statement. They include an attack against a United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon patrol in al-Qassemiyeh area in 2007, which resulted in the deaths of several members of the Spanish contingent. He is also charged with carrying out terrorist attacks, transporting weapons, committing and attempted murder, and sabotaging public and private property. Kayed was captured in an ambush in the Bekaa region of Arsal on Wednesday, reported al-Manar television. Al-Jadeed television meanwhile revealed that the confessions of detainee Naim Abbas, a top official in the al-Qaida-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades, led to his arrest. Three Spanish and three Colombian peacekeepers were killed in June 2007 when a booby-trapped car exploded as their patrol vehicle drove by in southern Lebanon.
On Thursday, Sawan asked the death penalty against fugitives Bilal and Kamal Bader, Sari al-Hujair, Mahmoud Azab, Ali Khalil, and Nidal Mohammed, reported the National News Agency.
He issued arrest warrants against them and referred their case to the permanent military court. Several of the latest bombings in Hizbullah strongholds in Beirut's southern suburbs and the eastern Bekaa valley have been claimed by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, whose leader, Majed al-Majed, was captured by Lebanese authorities in December and died in custody later.

Syria Presidential Hopefuls to Register from Monday
Naharnet /Candidates for Syria's presidential election can begin registering on April 21, when the date for the vote will be announced, a government source told Agence France Presse on Thursday.
"On Monday April 21, the Council of the People (parliament) will meet to open registration for presidential candidates and set a date for the election," the source said. Syria's government has insisted it will go ahead with presidential elections this year before the end of President Bashar Assad's term on July 17. But it is unclear how it will do so during a raging civil war that has killed more than 150,000 people over the past three years, displaced nearly half the population and seen the regime lose control of large swathes of territory. The vote will be Syria's first multi-candidate elections, after a new constitution did away with the old process of presidential referendums. Assad has all but said he will stand, and is expected to easily win the vote. New electoral regulations, including a requirement stating that candidates must have been living in Syria for the last decade, will exclude prominent opposition figures who live in exile. The government's plan to hold the vote has drawn criticism from much of the international community, with U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warning it could jeopardize further peace talks. Syria's opposition has insisted that Assad can have no role in the country's future and his departure from office is one of their key demands. Source/Agence France Presse

Jordanian air strike destroyed Al Qaeda raider force heading for US military base
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 17, 2014The Royal Jordanian Air force strike Wednesday, April 16, against a combat vehicle convoy from Syria destroyed an Al Qaeda raider force on its way to attack US military targets in the kingdom, debkafile’s military sources reveal. Jordan’s first assault on a target outside the country took place on the Syrian side of the border opposite the eastern town of Ruwaished.
This episode brought to the fore how dramatically the threat al Qaeda-Iraq poses to Jordan, the US forces based their and Israel has escalated.
Amman has not disclosed where the air strike took place, who rode in the destroyed armored vehicles and where they came from. According to debkafile’s counterterrorism sources, they were driven by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) fighters, coming from the western Iraqi province of Anbar. To avoid running into Jordanian military formations around Ruwaished, the group moved through Syria in the Abu Kemal region and, after refueling and collecting extra fighters and arms, turned south and aimed for the Jordanian border, where their expedition was abruptly brought to a close. Our intelligence sources report that their target was a secret US-Jordanian training facility situated west of Ruwaished, where Iraqi army troops are being instructed in advanced counter terror combat tactics. At the end of these courses, the graduates return to their units, better able to put up a fight against the al Qaeda forces continuing to overrun large swathes of their country, and posing a real danger to Baghdad.
This episode broke new ground in more than one area. It was the first ISIS operation directed against the American military presence in Jordan, and also the first time the jihadists used stealth to creep through a crack between the Jordanian, Iraqi and Syrian borders.
ISIS planners were well aware of the two full divisions the Jordanian army had strung out along its borders with Syria and Iraq, to seal the kingdom off from Islamist terrorist incursions. Those planners were crafty enough to find away around this barrier. However, many Jordanians have joined up with the Al Qaeda branches of Iraq and Syria. It is thought to be only a matter of time before they return to home ground fired up with the jihadist doctrine of terror. The Jordanians don’t say how they knew the ISIS vehicle convoy was heading their way. It stands to reason that US or Jordanian surveillance aircraft detected the vehicles on the move. Since there was no time to drop Jordanian commandos to apprehend the terrorists in Syria before they crossed the border, it was decided in a hurried conference between Amman and Washington to send the Jordanian air force into action. The commanders likely used the US Command and Control Headquarters established near Amman a year ago to maintain close US-Jordanian military coordination.

Hezbollah softens approach in Lebanon, hardens stance in Syria
Thursday, 17 April 2014
Joyce Karam/Al Arabiyia
Hezbollah, the armed Lebanese party, is trying to find a balance between its large scale military involvement in the Syrian conflict and containing its repercussions inside Lebanon. The strategy has so far seen the party pursue more conciliatory policies in Beirut, as it goes on the offensive and strengthens its foothold in Damascus.
In broader terms, Hezbollah is more dug in militarily and politically in its involvement in Syria, which is going into its second year next month. While many questions surrounded its scope and duration in the early stages, Hezbollah appears to have adjusted to an expanded and lengthy mission in Syria, and has recently compensated with a compromising political approach inside Lebanon.
Entrenched in Syria
A report by Marisa Sullivan of The Institute for the Study of War illustrates the gradual escalation in Hezbollah’s role in Syria. While training and defensive tactics defined the early stages of the involvement, Hezbollah is now directly involved in key battles on behalf of the Syrian regime, in places beyond the border area or the Shiite sites in Damascus. Today, fighters from Hezbollah are reportedly involved in the Qalamun region bordering Lebanon, in Damascus’ suburbs, in Homs and in the fighting taking place in Aleppo.
“As it widens its mission in Syria, Hezbollah has moved to contain the repercussions inside Lebanon”
Their combat tactics and skills in fighting a guerrilla war have been critical in helping the Assad regime and training members of Iraqi militias involved on the ground in Syria. U.S. officials who spoke to Al Arabiya News point to a deeper involvement for Hezbollah in the war, one that will not end anytime soon. Washington expects a long drawn-out war in Syria, one that could easily last another two years, and they expect a long term role for Hezbollah.
The military role is also blended with an aggressive political front for Hezbollah’s operation. Party officials have been more defiant about their involvement in Syria, and media affiliates of the party such as Al-Manar TV, and other friendly outlets such as Mayadeen TV and Al-Akhbar newspaper, have been at the forefront, championing the coverage from Syria and highlighting Hezbollah’s role in capturing territory from the rebels. Al-Manar lost three of its journalists this week while covering the Maaloula battles. Ironically, however, this increased political operation for Hezbollah has rubbed the Assad regime the wrong way, and the party’s media came under criticism from Syrian officials for giving Hezbollah, and not Assad, credit for recent gains. Live broadcasting from conflict areas is now banned for those stations, and Mayadeen withdrew their correspondent from Damascus.
Balancing inside Lebanon
As it widens its mission in Syria, Hezbollah has moved to contain the repercussions inside Lebanon. Key compromises that the party has agreed to by entering a government with its staunch rivals is paying off in bringing more stability and less attacks in Hezbollah’s strongholds in Beirut. Hezbollah’s coordination with high-ranking Sunni figures in the government, such as Nouhad Machnouk and Ashraf Rifi, has given the Lebanese army the political cover it needs to act in places like Tripoli and Bekaa.
Rifaat and Ali Eid, two militiamen that are considered Hezbollah allies in Tripoli and are responsible for a large portion of the Sunni-Allawite violence in the city over the last seven years, have fled their houses and reportedly gone to Syria. Also, in Bekaa, Hezbollah has evacuated a few checkpoints, ceding control to the Lebanese army.
Hezbollah’s calculus today sees strategic value in fighting in Syria, to protect the arms supply routes, prevent the collapse of the Assad regime or at least protect against the emergence of an anti-Hezbollah government. This strategy is driving Hezbollah’s operation inside Syria, and forcing the party to amend its approach in Lebanon by working with its rivals to contain the instability exacerbated by its own intervention and prevent a backlash on the home-front.
For the time being, with no end in sight in Syria, it is fair to expect a continuation of this strategy, pivoting Hezbollah’s military role more towards Syria while it attempts to forge consensus politics inside Lebanon.

Opinion: Profuse Apologies to Sykes and Picot

Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Alawsat
Thursday, 17 Apr, 2014
Conflicting field reports emerged earlier this week about the Syrian town of Maaloula falling into the hands of the regime’s army, Hezbollah and other allies of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, as well as leaks about the imminent withdrawal of rebels from the besieged city of Homs.
Amid these rumors, a friend informed me about something that is happening in the Middle Eastern Studies department of a major British university. According to my friend, this department—once supported by an Arab Gulf country—has become one of the eminent academic centers under the aegis of Iran, serving Tehran’s interests and sponsoring its approach and perspective. In fact, I had been aware for some time of an academic in that department who practically considers toppling the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) rulers his major— if not only—role in life, with a number of books and articles about this issue to his name.
This respectable international university whose Middle Eastern Studies Department, once bankrolled by a GCC country, was working against the stability of that region and provoking upheavals and disturbances across it.
This, however, is not an isolated case, and it is high time that we as Arabs realize the dangers of what is going on, lest we face the same fate as that of Muhammad XII of Granada during the Arabs’ last days in Spain. A couple of days ago, I received an interesting e-mail about the issue of Kurdish secession from Iraq I am sad to say it did not surprise me at all. The e-mail was sent by a self-proclaimed “research institution working to highlight developmental issues that concern the international community, in general, and the Arab world in particular, conducting research for some institutions, centers and governments and taking part in global seminars with the aim of achieving global development.”
The center predicts “Kurdistan’s secession from Iraq and the declaration of the independent Kurdish state” in the near future, explicitly stating that “the financial pressures imposed by Baghdad in failing to approve the [region’s] budget and oil exports will prompt the region’s authorities to declare an independent Kurdish state.” The report indicates that oil exported from the region represents the first sign of the establishment of the Kurdish state, particularly in the light of a number of signs from Ankara that it does not oppose this. The report also cites a number of incidents as overt signs of Turkey’s approval of the declaration of a putative Kurdish state in northern Iraq, including increased commercial exchange, statements that Kurdistan represents a “strategic ally,” the presence of approximately 1,600 Turkish companies in the region, and preparations for Kurdish oil to be exported to Turkey and other international countries. The report also indicates that Iran does not oppose the development either, as it is well aware that this Kurdish state would reduce Iraq’s OPEC share, which would serve its interests given that Tehran plans to make a strong return to the global oil market after international sanctions are lifted.
The same report said that Syria is no position to have a say on the Kurdish issue—having seen its ethnic Kurdish nationals becoming part of the bloody conflict that has been taking place in the country over the past three years. For their part, neither the US nor the EU oppose Kurdish independence and the declaration of Kurdish state, given the presence of their oil companies in the Kurdistan region—not to mention the contracts signed with the region’s government and their desire to overcome obstacles created by disputes between Baghdad and Erbil, blocking oil exports from reaching international markets.
If Kurdistan separates, Iraq as we know it today would disappear.
Syria does not appear to be in better shape, especially if we consider the pace at which the fighting is raging in the country, the suspicious silence of the international community about the massacres being committed there, and the way in which the Syrian regime and its backers are acting as if everything is normal. The military movements on the ground over the past months and the international community’s deafening silence betray the fact that the partition of Syria is underway. As part of this partition scheme, Lebanon, with its Shi’ite military, security and political hegemony, would become part of the Shi’ite-dominated western part of Syria. Northern Syria would be left under Turkish and Kurdish influence, while the east of the country would turn into a theatre of genocide planned by the militant Sunni jihadist groups, and particularly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This group is, actually, operating as if its main objective is to facilitate the partitioning of the Levant and placing the entire region under Iran’s mandate—or shall we say occupation?
The end of the Syria we know will inevitably be followed by the end of Lebanon, a country that has seen the best of its citizens flee, its wealth squandered and its economy destroyed since the 1975–1990 civil war. When the war ended, it witnessed the establishment of the “rule of the resistance”—Hezbollah—on the ruins of the few remaining hallmarks of a proper institutional state.
As for Palestine and Jordan, the fragmented state of affairs imposed on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip did not happen by chance, regardless of which slogans one believes or what sides are plotting against the unity of the Palestinians as a prelude to their extermination, both as a people and a nation. In the case of Jordan, I heard this week that the number of Jordanians emigrating to the West is truly alarming—and half of them are Christians. This does not bode well for the future of a country that will, in the next few years, lose the very best of its intellectuals, experts and investors.
Turning to the Gulf and Yemen, it is no secret that one need not revisit the biography of pre-Islamic Himyarite king and liberator Sayf Ibn Dhi-Yazan to recall Iran’s expansionist plot in the southern Arabian Peninsula. Naturally enough, some of the military and political officials of Iran do not allow us to forget this, using references to the “Persian” Gulf and claims that Bahrain is part of Iran.
Having previously been immune to internal divisions—translated today into the de jure partition of Sudan, existential disputes in Egypt, and regional, religious and ethnic strife and tensions in Libya and Algeria—even the GCC, the only Arab organization based on common interests rather than emotions, has seen its harmony disrupted. What the GCC has experienced, as well as what is now taking place across the Arab world, is another sign that some Arabs do not read history, and even those who do fail to adequately comprehend it. Perhaps this is exactly what US President Barack Obama hinted at in his historic interview with Bloomberg View, in which he said that he is gambling on the Iranians because their thinking is “strategic” and because they were not “suicidal.”
President Obama may be right about the Iranians.
As for the Arabs, it does appear that we are truly suicidal.