February 26/14


Bible Quotation for today/Where do wars and fightings among you come from
James 4/1-10: " Where do wars and fightings among you come from? Don’t they come from your pleasures that war in your members?  You lust, and don’t have. You kill, covet, and can’t obtain. You fight and make war. You don’t have, because you don’t ask. You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures.  You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously”?  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Be subject therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 4:9 Lament, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you."

Pope Francis's Tweet For Today
All of us who are baptized are missionary disciples. We are called to become a living Gospel in the world.
Pape François 
Nous tous, baptisés, nous sommes disciples-missionnaires. Nous sommes appelés à devenir dans le monde un Évangile vivant.

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For February 26/14

Is Hezbollah ‘sleeping with the devil/By Ahmad Adnan/Al Arabiya/February 26/14

Clarifying the Security Arrangements Debate: Israeli Forces in the Jordan Valley/By: Michael Eisenstadt and Robert Satloff/Washinton Institute/February 26/14
Conspiracy theories that will not die /
By:: Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed/February 26/14

Lebanese lawmakers, make it a priority to protect women/By: Octavia Nasr/Al Arabyia/February 26/14


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For February 26/14
Lebanese Related News

Policy Statement Delayed Anew as Abou Faour Suggests Formula Containing Baabda Declaration
Israel Bombs 'Hizbullah Target' on Lebanon-Syria Border, Observatory Says Missile Base Hit

Western sources: Israel Air Force hits SS-21 batteries, first attack in Syrian war on nuclear-capable missiles
Netanyahu on alleged airstrikes: We will do everything necessary to protect our citizens
Netanyahu cites "security" following Lebanon border raid

Israel bombs Hezbollah post in east Lebanon: security source

Hezbollah commander said killed in alleged Israeli strike

Sleiman hopes policy statement gets approved by next week

Lebanese parents urging children to move abroad

Man confesses to killing 21-year-old in east Lebanon
Jolie lauds Lebanese generosity

Car of bombing suspect’s father torched in s. Lebanon
Suspect detained in Tyre for making bombs

Nusra Front in Lebanon says Army fair game

Al-Nusra Front Gives ISIL Ultimatum after Commander's Death
Suspect Arrested in Tyre on Charges of Making Bombs, Transporting Arms

Iranian Delegation in Lebanon to Discuss Confrontation of Terrorism

Suleiman Hopes Policy Statement Will Be Approved before March Int'l Support Group Meeting

Army Releases Image of 'Dangerous' Fugitive

Report: Suleiman Insistent on Including Baabda Declaration in Policy Statement  

Miscellaneous Reports And News

Merkel in Jerusalem: Iran not just a threat to Israel

Iran has studied Israeli strike tactics
Report: Iraq signs deal to buy arms, ammunition from Iran
Erdogan: Tapes of talk with son a fabrication

Leader of Syrian militant group challenges rivals

Outgoing Minister Mahlab says named new Egypt PM: media

New Egypt PM says to 'crush terrorism'

Ukraine: No new government before Thursday

Will Ukraine affect Syria 

Israel Bombs 'Hizbullah Target' on Lebanon-Syria Border, Observatory Says Missile Base Hit
Naharnet/Israeli warplanes waged strikes on Monday evening near the Lebanese-Syrian border which reportedly hit a "Hizbullah target" suspected of being a "missile base."
"Two Israeli raids hit a Hizbullah target on the border of Lebanon and Syria," a Lebanese security source told Agence France Presse. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the target was a Hizbullah "missile base that is taking part in the military operations in the Syrian Qalamoun area near the border with Lebanon. In remarks to the Associated Press, a military spokesman said the Lebanese Army had no indication of any airstrikes in the area but was investigating the reports. Residents of al-Nabi Sheet, on the Lebanese side of the border, told AFP they saw flare bombs light up the sky ahead of the raids, which shook their houses.
Residents in neighboring areas said they heard planes flying low before the raids. Al-Nabi Sheet is a bastion of Hizbullah and the group has a suspected weapons store and training camp there. Quoting unnamed sources, Al-Arabiya TV said “Hizbullah members were killed in the Israeli raids in the Bekaa.”The pan-Arab, Saudi-owned TV network said the airstrikes targeted the outskirts of the town of Brital and “Hizbullah positions in Brital, al-Nabi Sheet and Ali al-Nahri.”Citing reports, Al-Arabiya said the Israeli raids hit two Hizbullah trucks that were headed for Syria. And quoting other unconfirmed reports, Al-Arabiya said Hizbullah was seeking to transport “ballistic missiles” from Syria into Lebanon when the airstrikes occurred. Earlier on Monday, MTV said "Israeli airstrikes targeted the areas of Brital, Hawrtaala, al-Nabi Sheet, al-Khodr and Ali al-Nahri" in the Bekaa.
MTV, however, said later that the strikes hit targets inside Syria. OTV said Israeli raids struck Janta, al-Nabi Sheet and an area near Brital. Earlier, Al-Arabiya quoted witnesses as saying that "more than two Israeli airstrikes have targeted Hizbullah posts in the outskirts of the towns of Janta, Brital and al-Nabi Sheet." For its part, Lebanon's state-run National News Agency reported two Israeli airstrikes on "the outskirts of al-Nabi Sheet near the Lebanese-Syrian border." LBCI television, however, said the Israeli warplanes struck targets inside Syria "in the countryside facing the towns of Janta and Yahfoufa." And Hizbullah's al-Manar TV said "security sources have not confirmed that any Israeli airstrike has taken place inside Lebanese territory in the Eastern Mountain Range."


Hezbollah commander said killed in alleged Israeli strike
Ynetnews/Roi Kais, Omri Efraim/02.25.14/ Israel News,7340,L-4492476,00.html
When asked about Israel's alleged involvement in strike, Netanyahu says Israel does whatever necessary to protect its safety. A Hezbollah field commander was reportedly killed in the alleged Israeli strike on the Syrian-Lebanese border Monday night, NOW Lebanon reported on Tuesday.Hajji Hassan Mansour, who was also known as Abu Haitham, was a field trainer in a Hezbollah base in the Nabi Chit area of the Beqaa Valley. The sources quoted by NOW Lebanon said Mansour was "killed in the Israeli raid while carrying out a martyr operation."Lebanese media reported on an airstrike Monday night targeting a weapons convoy en route from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Reports said Israeli Air Force planes were behind the strike, in which several Hezbollah militants were said to have been killed. Hezbollah's Al-Manar television, however, denied the strike had occurred and rejected reports of Hezbollah losses. When asked about Israel's alleged involvement in the strike, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "I don't talk about what is claimed we did or did not do - that's the first part. The second part is that we do whatever it takes to protect the security of the people of Israel."


Netanyahu on alleged airstrikes: We will do everything necessary to protect our citizens
By JPOST.COM STAFF, TOVAH LAZAROFF/02/25/2014/Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu failed to confirm or deny reports that Israel struck targets on the Syria-Lebanon border late Monday night, cryptically stating that Israel does everything in its power to defend its citizens. While some Lebanese reports suggested the attack was carried out against a Hezbollah missile base, others stated that the target of the bombing sorties was a key stop on the route through which arms are smuggled between Lebanon and Syria. Asked during a joint press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel whether IAF jets were behind the strike, Netanyahu stated, "Our policy is clear - we will not speak about reports of what we did or didn't do - but we do all that is necessary in order to defend our citizens."Hezbollah denied the airstrike on their television network al-Manar. They said there had been "no raid on Lebanese territory," reporting only the "strong presence of enemy planes over the area north of Bekaa" in eastern Lebanon.Thus far, the Israeli army has refused to comment on the reports. Netanyahu has said repeatedly that Israel would not allow the Syrian regime to transfer chemical weapons or "game-changing" weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel has reportedly struck weapons convoys traveling from Syria into Lebanon on at least three occasions in the past year.


Report: Hezbollah militants killed in Israeli strike
Roi Kais/02.24.14 / Israel News/Ynetnews,7340,L-4492110,00.html
Israeli military allegedly strikes Hezbollah facilities in Lebanon near border with Syria, killing several militants, according to Arab media. Several Hezbollah militants were killed in an alleged Israeli attack in Lebanon's Beqaa Valley near the border with Syria, Al Arabiya reported.
A Lebanese security source confirmed that Israeli warplanes struck targets in the coastal country. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed the attack targeted a Hezbollah "missile base."
Earlier, the official Lebanese news agency reported that Israeli fighter jets have carried two attacks on Monday in the vicinity of the Syrian-Lebanese border.
The objective of the attack was the destruction of Hezbollah facilities near the border in Lebanon, according to Al Arabiya, whose journalist reported that loud explosions were heard across the Beqaa Valley.However, Hezbollah's television channel Al-Manar said that there had been "no raid on Lebanese territory," reporting only the "strong presence of enemy planes over the area north of Bekaa" in eastern Lebanon.
Lebanese television channel LBC claimed that the area allegedly attacked has several passageways between Lebanon and Syria, through which weapons and equipment are passed in an unofficial manner. Another report, on Lebanese channel MTV, claimed that the target was a weapons delivery from Syria to Lebanon.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese news website Al-Nashra reported that Israeli fighter jets struck twice in the area of the Syrian-Lebanese border. Al-Nashra did not specify a target for the alleged incursion.
It was reported earlier Monday on Lebanese media that Israeli Air Force jets were hovering over Baalbek in the Lebanon Valley.
Residents of Nabi Chit, on the Lebanese side of the border, told AFP they saw flare bombs light up the sky ahead of the raids, which shook their houses.
Residents in neighbouring areas said they heard planes flying low before the raids.
Nabi Chit is a bastion of Hezbollah, which is helping the Syrian regime battle insurgents. The Shiite group has a suspected weapons store and training camp there.
Since the beginning of the three-year-old Syrian civil war, the Israeli Air Force has allegedly targeted weapons convoys, arms depots, and missile installation reportedly en route to Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon.
Last month, Lebanese media reported a loud explosion was heard in the area of Syria's port city Latakia. Western media reported that the explosion came from an Israeli attack. According to the sources, quoted in the Palestinian site Zamnpress, the attack was on an arsenal of S-300 rockets. AFP contributed to this report.


Western sources: Israel Air Force hits SS-21 batteries, first attack in Syrian war on nuclear-capable missiles
DEBKAfile Special Report February 25, 2014/Western military and intelligence sources report that Israeli Air Force strikes in Lebanon and Syria overnight Monday, Feb. 24 came on the heels of the first use in the three-year Syrian war of a Russian-made nuclear-capable Tochka (Point) surface missile - NATO-coded SS-21 Scarab - which carries a 480-kilo warhead with a range of 70 km. These missiles were fired earlier Monday in the Syrian-Hizballah battle for Yabroud. There was no information about the effect of the Israeli strikes. According to Lebanese sources, however, the target was a cluster of five Hizballah bases or command posts in the Lebanese Beqaa Valley. Hizballah casualties were reported. That was one Lebanese version of the incident. In the absence of independent confirmation or official information, different sources offered a variety of alternative targets.
Some sources named them as missile-launchers fired from Lebanon in support of the Hizballah-Syrian army battle for the strategic town of Yabroud, the last Syrian rebel stronghold in the Qalamoun Mts just across the Syrian border. This town, 80 kilometers north of Damascus, has held out against two months of vicious combat. A fourth version claims that the air strikes hit a convoy ferrying weapons from Hizballah’s Lebanese stores into Syria or, alternatively, convoys transporting missiles in the opposite direction, from Syria to Hizballah bases in Lebanon. The Air Force went into action the day after Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz commented during a visit to the Golan that a close watch is being kept on the movements of Iranian weapons and ammo present in all the troubled sectors of the region. This is of extreme concern to Israel, he said.
As he spoke, Syrian intelligence detonated a large car bomb at a military hospital near the Iraqi border treating Syrian rebel casualties. The attack cost 14 lives, including several wounded men.
debkafile’s military and intelligence sources estimate that Israel’s action has left two big question marks:
1. Was it a one-off, or the start of a series?
2. Will Hizballah or Syria hit back?
Up until now, any military actions Israel undertook in Syria and Lebanon were cloaked in secrecy and never admitted by the IDF, even when images emerged of the damage caused. This time, there are no images and even Lebanese security sources can’t agree on the targets that were hit. That is because the shoe is now on the other foot. The Iranian Al Qods Brigades chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani has ordered the Israeli air strikes to be kept under tight wraps. Earlier this month, Soleimani was placed officially in charge of Iran’s military interventions in the battlefields of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian “resistance.”
This was part of the distribution of tasks ordered by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to hold Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) chiefs back from sabotaging Iran’s nuclear negotiations with the six powers. Diplomacy was left in the province of President Hassan Rouhani, but his government was barred from interfering in Iran’s external military operations. Khamenei’s solution for separating the two rival camps in Tehran has placed Israel and its armed forces face to face for the first time with the Iranian command center directly orchestrating its Arab adversaries. It is one of the ruthless Gen. Soleimani’s principles never to let any assault on Iran or its interests go unanswered. Israel may therefore expect retaliation for its air strikes – though not necessarily from Syria or Lebanon.


Policy Statement Delayed Anew as Abou Faour Suggests Formula Containing Baabda Declaration
Naharnet/The panel drafting the ministerial policy statement finished its fifth meeting on Tuesday evening without managing to reach an agreement on the clause related to resistance against Israel. "Discussions will be resumed tomorrow, Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.," the members of the committee said in a concise communique. In a session that lasted around three hours, Health Minister Wael Abou Faour proposed a formula that “includes the Baabda Declaration and the consensual issues,” but Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil said “it needs discussion and it is not complete.” “We need a consensual, balanced statement that resembles the government,” Khalil added.
State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Mohammed Fneish declined to give any statement before the meeting. “I will not speak outside the committee's meetings,” he told reporters. Quoting sources close to Prime Minister Tammam Salam, al-Manar TV said “no efforts were made to resolve the obstacles before the meeting of the panel and things were left for discussions inside the session." Meanwhile, sources close to President Michel Suleiman told al-Manar that "the president does not accept to be the one who is obstructing the finalization of the policy statement." According to al-Jadeed television, Labor Minister Sejaan Qazzi, the Phalange Party's representative in the panel, left the meeting "due to a personal appointment." Earlier on Tuesday, Suleiman hoped the policy statement will be finalized and the government will win parliament's vote of confidence before the meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon in Paris.

Report: Suleiman Insistent on Including Baabda Declaration in Policy Statement
Naharnet /President Michel Suleiman has emphasized to his visitors on Monday the need to include the Baabda Declaration in the new government's policy statement, reported the daily al-Joumhouria on Tuesday.
Widely informed sources told the daily that Suleiman will not, “under any circumstances,” accept the elimination of the Baabda Declaration from the statement. He had relayed this message to Prime Minister Tammam Salam and head of the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Mohammed Raad during separate meetings on Monday. “The complications that the region is passing through as a result of the Syrian crisis obligates the Lebanese government to commit to the Declaration,” he explained to Salam. For his part, Raad presented to the president Hizbullah's “reservations on the Declaration that are preventing the party from recognizing it in light of the developments in Syria and their impact on Lebanon.”
Suleiman responded however by highlighting how the Declaration helped outline Lebanon's foreign policy, which in turn brought about international support for the country on all levels. This was demonstrated through the formation of the International Support Group for Lebanon in September 2013. The president will not be lenient with the attempts to eliminate the Baabda Declaration from the ministerial statement and “this position will be demonstrated through his ministers during the session to discuss draft statement.”
The ministerial committee tasked with drafting the policy statement failed again on Monday to agree on a final proposal as the March 14 camp insisted on including the Baabda Declaration as a main clause.
The March 8 coalition was given 24 hours to consider the suggestion before the committee's meeting at 6:30 pm at the Grand Serail on Tuesday.
Foreign Minister and committee member Jebran Bassil told al-Joumhouria after Monday's meeting: “Attempts to include the Baabda Declaration in the statement will fail.”
The International Support Group was launched by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon with Suleiman to help mobilize support and assistance for Lebanon’s stability, sovereignty and state institutions and to specifically to encourage assistance for the Lebanese army, Syrian refugees in Lebanon and host communities and government programs and public services impacted by the Syrian crisis.

Army Releases Image of 'Dangerous' Fugitive
Naharnet/The army released on Tuesday the image of a "dangerous" fugitive, calling on whoever acknowledges him to report to the military institution. The army command circulated the picture online, pointing out that the suspect had committed “dangerous crimes.” “Whoever recognizes the suspect should swiftly contact the army operations room on 1701, report to the nearest military center or use the LAF application,” the army said in its communique. On Monday, The Lebanese Armed Forces captured two of three inmates who escaped from Lebanon's main jail in Roumieh. The third, who is on the run, is Syrian Muhannad Abdul Rahman. The army recently made public the pictures of several wanted men.

Suleiman Hopes Policy Statement Will Be Approved before March Int'l Support Group Meeting
Naharnet /President Michel Suleiman hoped on Tuesday that a government policy statement will be approved before March 5. He hoped that the statement will be approved and granted parliament's vote of confidence ahead of the International Support Group on Lebanon's meeting in Paris set for March 5 and 6. He made his remarks before a delegation of ambassadors from the countries included in the Group. “The Paris meeting is aimed at assessing what was achieved by the support group meeting in New York” in September, continued Suleiman. It should also outline the necessary measures to support Lebanon on the political, economic, and military levels.
It should also address the case of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, said the president. The support group was inaugurated in New York in September 2013, on the sidelines of the 68th session of the General Assembly. It undertook to work together to mobilize support for the sovereignty and state institutions of Lebanon and to highlight and promote efforts to assist the country where it was most affected by the Syrian crisis, including in respect of strengthening the capacity of the Lebanese army, assistance to refugees, and structural and financial support to the government. The Paris meeting will focus on humanitarian aid to help improve the situation of displaced Syrians in Lebanon, boosting the capabilities of the Lebanese army and tackling Lebanon's economy. The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon had surged to around 900,000 according to the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) as Lebanon has been facing difficulties in coping with their burden.

Iranian Delegation in Lebanon to Discuss Confrontation of Terrorism

Naharnet/An Iranian Parliamentary delegation is expected to arrive in Lebanon on Tuesday on a four-day official visit to discuss with senior Lebanese officials means to help security agencies in their confrontation with uncontrolled terrorism. According to al-Joumhouria newspaper, the Chairman of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi will head the delegation.
The delegation will arrive in Lebanon coming from Syria. On Monday, Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi reiterated after talks with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil that his country is ready to contribute with any kind of aid to Lebanon in its war against terrorism. Lebanon witnessed a string of of bomb attacks in recent months targeting mainly strongholds of Hizbullah, which has drawn the ire of Sunni extremist groups in part because of its role fighting alongside the regime in Syria. On Saturday, the latest attack a suicide bomber blew up a car rigged with explosives at an army checkpoint at the entrance to Hermel, in an attack that was claimed by a group calling itself al-Nusra Front in Lebanon, an apparent offshoot of the Syria-based extremist organization.

Suspect Arrested in Tyre on Charges of Making Bombs, Transporting Arms
Naharnet /A suspect was arrested on Tuesday for making bombs and transporting we
apons and ammunition, reported the National News Agency. It said that the Lebanese national, identified as Safeiddine M.R., 54, was arrested in the southern city of Tyre. He has several outstanding arrest warrants against him, reported Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3). The Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau that carried out the arrest has since turned him over to an ISF station in al-Abbasiyeh.

Merkel in Jerusalem: Iran not just a threat to Israel
Ynetnews//02.25.14/Israel News
Israeli and German leader hold press conference after joint meeting of their two governments in Jerusalem.
Omri Efraim, Reuters
Germany views Iran as a potential threat not just to Israel, but also to European countries, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday at a news conference in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But she stopped short of endorsing her host's demand that Tehran give up all sensitive nuclear projects under any negotiated deal with world powers. Germany is Israel's most important ally in Europe, where the Netanyahu government frets it is losing support given troubled peace talks with the Palestinians. That makes Merkel's views a bellwether of European sentiment on Middle East issues."We see the threat not just as a threat for the state of Israel but as a general threat for Europe as well," she said at the joint news conference, adding that Germany would pursue international talks with Iran on its nuclear activities.
Netanyahu acknowledged that world powers had "talked about the possibility of some enrichment" continuing in Iran as part of a final deal.
"I think it's a mistake," he said. "Every single leader that I've talked to in the Middle East agrees with that position, whether they say so publicly or not. Why? Because if Iran really wants just civilian nuclear energy, then they don't need any enrichment. They don't need centrifuges."
Asked if she agreed, Merkel was circumspect.
"It is clear that there is a difference of opinion here with regard to these negotiations and whether they ought to take place. We have set out on the path of low enrichment, but enrichment does take place and I believe that we can succeed," she said.
"We can expect a kind of shield being set up in order to make sure that Iran does not achieve in the short future a (military) nuclear capability," she added, in an apparent allusion to an envisaged regime of low-volume enrichment and enhanced nuclear inspections.
"The question is whether we will be able to achieve a result that is better than the present state of affairs. We have decided it is better to participate in the negotiations because we believe that to be better than the status quo."
Merkel, in Israel with most of her cabinet for a joint meeting of the two cabinets to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties, also said that boycotts of Israeli products were not helpful for the peace process.
A nuclear Iran would be "the equivalent of 50 North Koreas," Netanyahu said. He reiterated his view that the goal of nuclear talks with the Islamic Republic was to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
"I believe in zero enrichment, zero centrifuges and zero plutonium in Iran," the premier stressed.
He also echoed Merkel's comments on a boycott of Israel, arguing that it would only serve to hurt Palestinian economy.
A boycott is not the "moral productive way" to advance peace, it only hinders it, the prime minister noted.
"There can be criticism but those that call for boycotting Israel boycott only Israel and blame only the Jewish state," he said.
Netanyahu added that he hopes other countries in Europe follow Germany's lead and reject the boycotts against Israel.
German Environmental Protection Minister Barbara Hendricks told her Israeli counterpart Amir Peretz earlier Tuesday that Germany would never boycott Israel.
Touching on the peace process, Netanyahu reiterated his support of a two-state solution, and expressed hope Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was willing to walk the path of peace.
Merkel noted that while Germany and Israel do not always see eye to eye on the settlements issue, she said Germany supports Israel's requests for security assurances in a peace accord with the Palestinians.
"We don't agree on everything but we shall have to overcome this obstacle," she said.
Merkel met with Netanyahu on Monday night at his official residence, and the two cabinets held a joint meeting in Jerusalem on Tuesday morning.
The two governments were to sign a series of agreements covering defense, foreign relations, trade, scientific research and development, culture and welfare, according to the PMO. They were also to sign cooperation agreements on cancer research, senior citizen care and preservation of the White City in Tel Aviv as a center for Bauhaus architecture.
Also Tuesday, Merkel was to attend a special ceremony at the official residence of President Shimon Peres, who was to award her the Presidential Medal of Distinction, Israel's highest honor.
The Associated Press and Margarita Erbach contributed to this report


Iran has studied Israeli strike tactics
Ynetnews/02.25.14/ Israel News/Tehran collected photos of buildings destroyed during Second Lebanon War and changed its defense plans accordingly. Associated Press. TEHRAN - A senior Iranian military official said Tuesday the Islamic Republic has analyzed Israeli strikes during the 2006 Second Lebanon War to boost its own defense capabilities against the US and Israel. Iran sees Israel as its arch-nemesis. The Jewish state fought the 2006 war against Iran's ally, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Israel and the US have not ruled out a military option against Iranian nuclear facilities. Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali, who heads a unit in charge of civil defense, said Iran sent a team to Lebanon and collected 5,000 photos of buildings destroyed in Israeli attacks during the 2006 war and changed its defense plans accordingly. His comments were published in the conservative daily Kayhan Tuesday. He said Iran has built underground facilities and spread out its installations and forces

Report: Iraq signs deal to buy arms, ammunition from Iran
Ynetnews/02.24.14/ Israel News
Shiite-led government uses arms deal with Islamic republic to signal US it will not abide delays in armament purchases.
Iran has signed a deal to sell Iraq arms and ammunition worth $195 million, according to documents seen by Reuters – a move that would break a UN embargo on weapons sales by Tehran. The agreement was reached at the end of November, the documents showed, just weeks after Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki returned from Washington, where he lobbied the Obama administration for extra weapons to fight al-Qaeda-linked militants. Some in Washington are nervous about providing sensitive US military equipment to a country they worry is becoming too close to Iran. Several Iraqi lawmakers said Maliki had made the deal because he was fed up with delays to US arms deliveries.
A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister would not confirm or deny the sale, but said such a deal would be understandable given Iraq's current security troubles.
"We are launching a war against terrorism and we want to win this war. Nothing prevents us from buying arms and ammunition from any party and it's only ammunition helping us to fight terrorists," said the spokesman, Ali Mussawi.
The Iranian government denied any knowledge of a deal to sell arms to Iraq. It would be the first official arms deal between Shi'ite Iran and Iraq's Shi'ite-led government and highlight the growing bond between them in the two years since the departure of US troops from Iraq.
One US official, told of Reuters' findings, said such a deal could further complicate Washington's approach to negotiating with Iran on easing international sanctions over its nuclear program.
"If true, this would raise serious concerns," the US official said. "Any transfer of arms from Iran to a third country is in direct violation of Iran's obligations under UNSCR 1747."
Political significance
The official documents seen by Reuters showed that six of eight contracts were signed with Iran's Defense Industries Organization to supply Iraq with light and medium arms, mortar launchers, ammunition for tanks as well as artillery and mortars.
A final two contracts were agreed to with the state-owned Iran Electronic Industries for night vision goggles, communications equipment and mortar guiding devices.
One of the contracts includes equipment to protect against chemical agents. An Iraqi army major with knowledge of procurement issues said that would include items such as gas masks and gloves, as well as injections. Baghdad has expressed fear the militants will use such agents against its forces.
Officials from the Iraqi and Iranian defense ministries signed the agreements, according to the documents. They did not list a timetable for deliveries and it was not possible to confirm whether they had taken place.
Maliki is engaged in a nearly two-month-old battle in western Iraq against Sunni al-Qaeda-inspired militants and rebellious tribesmen. The prime minister has blamed the unrest in Anbar on the conflict spilling over from neighboring Syria.
One Western security official said US government experts believed an Iranian-Iraqi arms deal had been in the works for some time.
The growing friendship between the two countries is discomfiting for the United States, which has accused Iran of having shipped arms to the Syrian government through Iraq.
Iran already supplies Baghdad with electricity and gas and reiterated an offer of military assistance in January.
The weapons purchases amount to a drop in the ocean for Iraq, which receives most of its arms from the United States and has also bought weapons and helicopters from Russia and other countries.
But they are politically significant as Maliki purses a third term in office.
Iraqi politicians consider Iran's blessing as a necessity for seeking power. Maliki won his second term in 2010 only after the Iranians exerted pressure on recalcitrant Shi'ite parties on his behalf.
Many Iraqis accuse Iran of funding Iraqi Shiite militias who have seen a resurgence in the last two years as Iraq's security has deteriorated.
Images of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei now decorate posters seen around Baghdad of Iraqi Shiite fighters slain fighting in Syria.
"We have here a political and not a military deal," said Amman-based Iraq analyst Yahya al-Kubaisay from the Iraqi Center for Strategic Studies, a think tank filled with political opponents of the Shiite-led Iraqi government. "On one hand it is aimed at financing Iran, which is desperately in need of dollars, and on the other it is clearly aimed at winning Tehran's support for Maliki's third term."
Maliki's message
Three Iraqi lawmakers, who said they had knowledge of the deals, argued they were due to Maliki's unhappiness with Washington's response to his request to supply Iraq with arms and ammunition to fight militant groups during his visit late last year. Iraq has long complained the timetable for US weapons and aircraft delivery was too slow.
"The Americans were obviously dragging their feet from implementing the arms deals signed with Baghdad and under different pretexts, and that was a reason to get urgent shipments from Tehran," said one of the lawmakers, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.
The US government in recent months has delivered Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones to Iraq as part of its long-standing relationship with Baghdad, which it invaded in 2003. It has also supplied Iraq with M1 Abrams tanks and is in process of delivering F-16 fighter jets.
Since fighting broke out in western Anbar in January, Washington has pushed to move ahead with the sale of 24 Apache attack helicopters to Iraq, which had been held up for months due to the concerns of US lawmakers about how Maliki, who is increasingly at odds with minority Sunnis, would use them.
A Shiite lawmaker close to Maliki said the deal with Iran sent a message to Washington that threatening to withhold or delay arms purchases would no longer work.
"If you went to a shop to buy a toy and they refused to sell it to you, then as long as you have the cash, you can get it from the shop next door. It's as simple as that," said the official, who also asked to remain unnamed due to the sensitivity of the issue.
A senior Iraq army officer said Iran was the best source for quick shipments as some of the arms used by the Iraqi army are similar to those manufactured by Tehran, including assault weapons, mortars, artillery and tank ammunition. Iran even produces ammunition for US-made M-12 assault rifles, used by the Iraqi military.
Maliki defended Iraq's counter-terrorism strategy last week in an editorial published on the website of US journal for international affairs Foreign Policy: "Thanks to our rapidly growing economy, we are able and willing to pay for all the military equipment we need," he wrote.
Mohammad Marandi, a professor at University of Tehran, told Reuters he had no knowledge of an arms deal with Iraq, but that Iran would not be troubled by the idea: "Iranians don't accept the legitimacy of sanctions. Plus, Iran sells military equipment to many countries."
The eight contracts signed with Iran are as follows:
Ammunition for light and medium weapons: $75 million
Ammunition for tanks artillery and mortars: $57.178 million
Light and medium weapons and mortar launchers: $25.436 million
Artillery ammunition type 155 mm: $16.375 million
Day and night vision goggles and mortar guiding devices: $7.320 million
Protective equipment against chemical agents: $6.676 million
Communications equipment: $3.795 million
M12 USA ammunition 20 X 102 mm: $3 million

Clarifying the Security Arrangements Debate: Israeli Forces in the Jordan Valley
Michael Eisenstadt and Robert Satloff/Washinton Institute
February 24, 2014
U.S., Israeli, and Palestinian negotiations could lower the heat and shed some light on the clash over Jordan Valley security arrangements by promoting a public debate grounded in the facts of current and prospective Israeli deployments.
As U.S. diplomats work to reach "an agreed framework" for future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations before the April expiration of current talks, security arrangements along the Jordan River have emerged as a key sticking point. Both parties have drawn lines in the sand about their respective positions, injecting passion and emotion into an agenda item that -- unlike the issues of Jerusalem and refugees -- was expected to be resolved through technical discussions among professional military experts.
So far, each side is holding to a position based on principle. For the Israelis, the principle is that the Jordan River must, for a lengthy period, remain their eastern security border. This means maintaining an Israeli military presence that not only guards against terrorist infiltration and weapons smuggling, but that could also provide the basis for a first line of defense against threats that may someday emerge east of the river. While Israel welcomes cooperative security arrangements with Jordan and the Palestinians in this effort, it looks around at the ineffectual third-party forces on its other borders -- especially the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights, and the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which still operates in Jerusalem six decades after its creation -- and rejects the idea that international forces, even from NATO, could replace its own troops. Israel also wants the term of its military presence along the river defined by certain criteria, not limited by a "date certain" that would be determined without regard to existing strategic realities.
For the Palestinians, the principle is that the independence and sovereignty of their future state require the removal of all vestiges of Israel's military occupation. Palestinian Authority leaders say they recognize the need for a transition period in which Israel would retain some military presence in the area; PA president Mahmoud Abbas recently told New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that this could be up to five years, after which, he stated, "my country will be clean of occupation." In addition, he has said he welcomes the deployment of international forces -- including NATO troops -- along the Jordan River and throughout the future state of Palestine as a way to ensure security and allay Israeli fears. But on numerous occasions, he has declared that there will be "not one single Israeli soldier" on Palestinian territory at the end of the transition period.
The United States has attempted to bridge this gap through creative proposals devised by Gen. John Allen, former commander of international forces in Afghanistan and former deputy head of U.S. Central Command. While the details of his ideas have not been made public, they are said to be premised on a sympathetic understanding of Israeli security requirements while drawing on the U.S. experience in Afghanistan to inject a heavy dose of technology, with multiple layers of sensors, drones, high-tech fences, and other measures proposed as a means of reducing Israel's post-transition presence along the river. While Israel has not formally rejected these suggestions -- some of which have appeared in previous rounds of negotiations going back to Camp David and Annapolis -- various statements by Israeli leaders have disparaged them for suggesting an over-reliance on technology as a substitute for people.
One item missing from the public debate over security arrangements is a factual discussion of Israel's current deployments. Virtually all public statements and press reports on the topic reference "Israeli forces" in the Jordan Valley without detailing their size and composition. Most journalists also blur distinctions between Israeli deployments throughout the West Bank (i.e., the traditional "military occupation") and deployments in the Jordan Valley and along the Jordan River, whose principal task is border security. As a result, it is easy to conclude that Israel's military presence in the valley consists of brigade- or even division-size formations with thousands of troops, and that Israel seeks to retain a presence of this magnitude after the transitional phase of a final-status agreement.
In fact, the current Israeli military presence in the valley is much smaller than that widespread impression. It consists of a handful of infantry companies (totaling between 200-500 troops) plus a smaller number of security personnel at the border crossings, many not in uniform. Israel does not hide the small size of this contingent, but it does not advertise it either. It is able to maintain such a limited force because of close coordination with highly professional Jordanian security forces, cooperative working relations with still-developing Palestinian security forces, and the supplementary use of advanced technology.
During the transitional period of implementing a final peace deal, one can expect Israel's military presence in the Jordan Valley to be roughly in line with its current size. There may be some fluctuation as Israel adjusts force levels to deal with potential threats emanating from the east and west. In any case, its security arrangements for the valley would eventually transition from relying mainly on people enabled by technology (e.g., inspectors at border crossings and dismounted infantry patrols) to relying mainly on technology enabled by people (e.g., scanners, sniffers, and remote sensors), while progressively handing over certain security responsibilities to the PA and Jordan. In so doing, Israel would also have to transition from accepting zero risk in the pursuit of absolute security to accepting a more complex set of risk and security calculations in order to reap the strategic benefits that a peace agreement would hopefully yield.
In the post-transition period -- whether defined in advance by specific criteria (as Israel demands) or by a set schedule (as the PA demands) -- Israel would like to keep a small deployment of "invisible" monitors at border crossings (operating behind two-way mirrors or watching video monitors in adjacent rooms) as well as a contingent of troops to patrol a corridor along the Jordan River. This force would be roughly the same size as that currently deployed in the area and would work with the Jordanians and Palestinians to provide a buffer against infiltration and terrorist activity. As noted above, however, PA officials have ruled out any kind of enduring Israeli presence in the valley once the transition period has concluded.
Security issues were not supposed to be the toughest nut in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, but they have assumed center stage in Secretary of State John Kerry's determined efforts to achieve progress. Indeed, the size and status of residual Israeli forces in the Jordan Valley is only one of several thorny security issues that remain unresolved, including Israel's demand for lightly manned early warning stations on strategic hilltops in the West Bank; arrangements for the aerial approaches to Ben Gurion International Airport; access and control over the main east-west roads and passes in the West Bank; management and control of airspace and the electromagnetic spectrum in the Palestinian territories; and details of the Palestinian state's demilitarization.
Here again, focusing on the details of Israel's actual and prospective deployments along the Jordan River may provide a way to deescalate tensions on this issue and promote a more dispassionate public debate. Palestinians may take a different view if their leaders clarified that the question of Israel's future military presence in the valley concerns a few hundred personnel, not the thousands that are often implied.
Regional experience could also be used to soften the debate's edges. For example, it is not difficult to imagine that future developments in the region -- especially the jarring potential for tumultuous change in Jordan -- could cause the PA to welcome, not just endure, some external presence in the Jordan Valley. Even today, the PA often finds it politically convenient for Israeli forces to arrest Hamas suspects in "Area A" -- the portions of the West Bank under full PA civil and security control -- rather than having its own forces do the job, though it is difficult to envision this practice continuing after the Palestinians have an independent state.
Similarly, Egypt was reluctant to accept significant restrictions on its sovereignty in the Sinai as part of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, and Israeli leaders rejected Cairo's past requests to loosen some of these restrictions. Today, however, Israel is eager for Egypt to enhance its military presence in the peninsula beyond what is allowed under the treaty in order to counter the growing jihadist threat there. And Cairo has turned a blind eye to (and perhaps even abetted) Israeli drone strikes against these jihadists -- a violation of sovereignty that no Egyptian government would have countenanced a decade or two ago. The lesson is that security arrangements evolve over time and with changing regional circumstances.
At the end of the day, security issues may prove to be the sticking point that prevents an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. But before that point is reached, it behooves the parties -- and their American mediator -- to promote a public debate grounded in facts, not in exaggeration or misrepresentation.
**Michael Eisenstadt directs the Military and Security Studies Program at The Washington Institute. Robert Satloff is the Institute's executive director.


Will Ukraine affect Syria
February 25, 2014/The Daily Star /The weekend’s dramatic events in Ukraine have been hailed as a turning point, but the coming days and weeks will be just as important in defining whether the Maidan Square uprising is remembered as the beginning of something better, or something worse.
For now, Russia is complaining about its neighbor’s lack of political legitimacy. Ukraine faces the prospect of economic collapse and possibly disintegration, unless politicians inside and outside the country can find solutions.
The West believes that it represents the political model for Ukrainians who deposed their president, but it is offering economic assistance – with painful conditions – that could aggravate the situation. In contrast, Russia believes that it holds the economic key to Ukraine’s short- and medium-term future, but it suffers from political bankruptcy in the eyes of many Ukrainians.
Both sides – Russia and the West – will have to work together to treat the potentially explosive situation, because Ukraine could easily be torn apart if it is treated merely as a prize in a revamped version of the Cold War.
Russia might not have a clear-cut idea – for now – of what it intends to do next in Ukraine, after Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev labeled the new leaders “mutineers.” For this part of the world, a more pressing question is whether the Ukrainian uprising will affect the situation in Syria, where two blocs of outside powers have mobilized their verbal and material support for the warring sides. Policymakers should ask themselves whether even more pressure on Russia in Ukraine will harm efforts to arrive at a political solution in Syria, one of the remaining “vital” areas for Moscow.

Opinion: Conspiracy theories that will not die

By:: Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
on : Tuesday, 25 Feb, 2014
According to some people, Iraq’s former president Saddam Hussein only invaded Iran during Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini’s rule because he was entangled with foreign parties and only invaded Kuwait after receiving his cue from the US envoy in Baghdad.
Some argue that Libya’s revolution against Muammar Gaddafi was a foreign act and the toppling of Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak was also a conspiracy. Some think the Muslim Brotherhood made it to power because of US planning. The Brotherhood thinks Egypt’s General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi turned against them because of Western interference.
And for three years now, the Syrian regime has been saying that the West is behind the revolution against it, while the rebels insist there’s a conspiracy to besiege their revolution for the sake of keeping Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in power.
A few days ago, my colleague Eyad Abu Shakra wrote an article saying it’s time to acknowledge there are conspiracies being planned outside our region. My colleague, Eyad, is not the only one who sees a conspirator behind every crisis. For decades now, this has been the common belief among intellectuals. This belief was strengthened by books that became popular in the 1960s and 1970s such The Game of Nations by Miles Copeland.
I don’t want to completely deny conspiracy theories because secret apparatuses from each country are involved in activities that are meant to influence situations in a direction that best benefits their country. But there is a proliferation of conspiracy theories in modern history books.
There’s a lot of confusion between exploiting events to alter their path and outcome and between actually triggering the events themselves. For example, the fall of Iran’s Shah in 1979 was almost inevitably as a result of the unrest in Tehran. The West preferred to support Ayatollah Khomeini and favored him from among all competitors.
Sending Khomeini to Tehran via an Air France jet from Paris strengthened his chances against other competitors from the leftist and nationalists parties. But Khomeini was already a prominent figure, not an invention of the West.
When Saddam decided to invade Iran a year after Khomeini seized authority, the decision was his alone and it reflected his mentality and his naϊve understanding of the world around him. He thought that the fall of his enemy the Shah and the chaos in Iran represented a chance to regain what he considered to be occupied Iraqi lands.
There’s no doubt that the US exploited Saddam’s stupidity—especially considering he was a character whose stupid actions were easy to predict. The possible conspiracy in this is not that the West pushed Saddam towards crossing the border, but has to do with the re-establishment of relations with him after he got involved in the war and after arms warehouses were opened to him. In the meantime, Israel was selling arms to Iran. This exploiting of the situation was aimed at pushing rivals into a long war because Khomeini and Saddam were rivals of the west.
So it is not a conspiracy as much as an exploitation of the stupidity of two leaders who hated one another and who wanted each other’s land. The same thing happened in Kuwait. Saddam made several indications about his intention to occupy Kuwait. These indications represented his greed and ignorance of the principles of the superpowers’ higher interests.
The fact that the US envoy did not prohibit him from invading Kuwait is of no significance. Back then, the Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, said the US conspired against Saddam and claimed that was why the latter invaded Kuwait.
They also claimed that the US were conspiring to occupy Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, so Saddam had to be supported. All this turned out to be false. The same is being said about Syria’s revolution. But the reason behind this revolution is that the Assad government is truly a regime which expired following the death of Hafez Al-Assad.
The decadent sectarian security regime eroded, making a coup or revolution inevitable. It’s a natural result. The inability of the revolutionaries to see the revolution through is a result of Iran and Russia’s interference. Hurting the cause further, US President Barack Obama is not enthusiastic about engaging in another war. In the end, the regime will fall—but unfortunately the price will be very high.
We Arabs hold onto conspiracy theories whenever there’s something we cannot settle or understand. This is because conspiracy theories are a comfortable pillow on which those who want to justify their failure or incompetence can sleep. Those who use conspiracy theories the most are people who failed to carry through the empty promises they made—such as Gamal Abdel Nasser, Saddam, Gaddafi and Assad.
I am not saying there is no merit to some conspiracy theories, but most of them are an exploitation of emerging circumstances. Each party is conspiring to gain from these circumstances but we must blame no one but ourselves. There are countries which rose from the ashes throughout history such as Japan, Germany and Turkey, and no one prevented them from being successful.

Lebanese lawmakers, make it a priority to protect women
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
By: Octavia Nasr/Al Arabyia
Growing up in Lebanon, I always felt that some men and women assumed ownership over me, my body, my thought, even my feelings and my expression. I despised these people who existed everywhere, in families, government, school, and religious establishments. They were constantly clashing with other men and women who wanted me to thrive and to be “me” in all its possibilities.
Growing up in Lebanon, I always felt that some men and women assumed ownership over me, my body, my thought, even my feelings and my expression. I despised these people who existed everywhere, in families, government, school, and religious establishments. They were constantly clashing with other men and women who wanted me to thrive and to be “me” in all its possibilities.
I have seen men and women act as if they own women by controlling them fully or partially. It was painful as I could barely shield myself of that servitude and slavery.
I have known women who sold themselves willingly and others who did the same under a different guise, also known as denial. The sale price was sometimes very cheap; at other times very high, if you measure “price” by hard currency or materials.
Underestimated, undervalued
I have seen us, women, suffer more because of our natural build, working harder, putting more effort to be heard, seen, felt or simply included. But, as a group, we always ended up underestimated, undervalued. It doesn’t always take a male to do that to us, women hurt women too. Sometimes, we hurt ourselves the most as we try to fit in a merciless patriarchal society.
Growing up in Lebanon, I always felt that some men and women assumed ownership over me
It is abominable that despite women’s indispensable contributions, women still fight for their existence, and some lose the battle in their homes alone or in front of a silent audience.
Anyone who belittles a woman, or hurts a woman or insults a woman or appoints himself an advocate or dictator of rules of conduct for a woman is retarded no matter who he is or what his rank is.
From the beginning of times, women led, fought and lived alongside men. They participated in war and peace, they governed, they philosophized, but they faded through history as they gave more life. That same life marginalized women and continues to do so in many places around the world.
I am ashamed of Lebanese lawmakers who don’t make it a priority to protect women and fight for their human rights and civil liberties. This country will not be saved by extremism and backwardness. Nor will it be saved by superficiality and idiocy. It will not be saved as long as we allow one woman to die at the hands of a spouse.
Shame on all who don’t send a message to every violent man out there that we will not let this happen again!
**This article was first published in al-Nahar on Feb. 24, 2014.

Is Hezbollah ‘sleeping with the devil?’
By Ahmad Adnan | Special to Al Arabiya News
Tuesday, 25 February 2014

An explosion that targeted Beirut's southern suburbs on Feb. 19 came 48 hours after Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said: "Takfiris threaten the region as they don't accept those whom they ideologically, politically and intellectually disagree with, and they seek to eliminate them and cancel them."
Nasrallah is portraying Hezbollah as an enemy of takfiris, but is that so? The first incident linked to political Islam in Lebanon happened in May 2007 in Tripoli, where a battle erupted between the Lebanese army and the Fatah al-Islam organization. The latter was established by Palestinian guerrilla Shaker al-Abssi, who was serving jail time in Damascus. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad released him under a special amnesty.
Abssi came to Lebanon and established his takfiri organization, which defected from the Fatah al-Intifada organization. Assad wanted to weaken Sunni leader Saad Hariri by attracting the Sunnis of northern Lebanon to a takfiri organization that derives power from the tough economic and social situation there.
Ever since the army emerged victorious from its battle with Fatah al-Islam in Nahr al-Bared, northern Lebanon, the group's members have been in Roumieh prison in eastern Beirut. They have not been tried, nor will they be until Assad is toppled. He who made the decision to eliminate this takfiri group was then-Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, while he who objected to this move was Nasrallah when he declared Nahr al-Bared a "red line."
In Aug. 2008, Hezbollah signed a memorandum of understanding with the Salafi movement. It wanted to build an alliance to weaken Hariri's Future Movement, but this attempt failed. Hezbollah, which had signed agreements with certain parties, now considers them a regional threat financed by Saudi Arabia and the Future Movement.
The role of Qatar
Relation between Hezbollah and takfiri groups cannot be understood without pointing out the Qatari role in Lebanon. Following the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri, Qatar had an opinion different from all Arab countries. It supported the parties of political Islam rather than the March 14 coalition. This led Qatar to side with the Syrian-Iranian axis in Lebanon and the region.
The end of the Nahr al-Bared battle was a signal for Qatar to infiltrate Sunni society in northern Lebanon via Salafis and political Islamist factions. Funds came in, and figures and institutions that later allied with Hezbollah against the Future Movement were invited to visit Doha. During that time, the presence of a controversial figure in northern Lebanon increased.
It was Sheikh Omar Bakri Fustok, who came from Britain after he made statements sympathizing with those who carried out the London attacks in 2005. "Assassinating Rafiq Hariri served Islam and Muslims because he did not serve as God [ordered]," said Fustok, who joined Salafi institutions in northern Lebanon. He built relations with Salafis - even those who were rivals among each other - and was a source of advice to them.
His visits to Doha continued, as did his bragging about the comprehensive Qatari support for him financially and morally. Qatar hired an army of lawyers to defend Fustok amid the detentions and cases filed against him. His compass is in total harmony with the Qatari radar in Lebanon and the region.
When he arrived in Lebanon, Fustok considered Hezbollah an infidel. When Hezbollah allied with Qatar, he considered them good Muslims like himself. When Qatar's policy turned against Assad after the Syrian revolution began, he again categorized the party as an infidel.
Hezbollah's alliance with Qatar was a means for the movement to ally with takfiri groups. Hezbollah wanted to target the Future Movement, and Qatar wanted to protest against Saudi Arabia in the region and to weaken Riyadh's influence in Lebanon. Relations between Doha and Hezbollah ended, so rivalry erupted between takfiris and Hezbollah.
Not long ago, Qatar produced another version of political Islam that suits its new orientations: Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir in Sidon, southern Lebanon. Before Assir went into hiding, no Arab country minded him except for Qatar, which invited him to visit Doha.
Former Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, despite his rivalry with Saudi Arabia, described Assir as "a Qatari project aiming to sabotage Lebanon." Lahoud knows well that since the Sept. 2001 attacks, Riyadh has excluded political Islam from its tools of international activity.
Hezbollah's upper hand
Nasrallah's speeches, and his decision to go against the Syrian revolution, prove that he and his party know Syria and Iran well, but they know nothing about Lebanon. Hezbollah, which accuses takfiris of aiming to eliminate others, has accused all its rivals of being traitors and Israeli agents. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon has accused Hezbollah of political assassinations that targeted its Lebanese political rivals.
The movement has never missed a chance to humiliate and weaken Saad Hariri, to the extent of toppling his cabinet. This is how Hezbollah - directly during the period of alliances, and indirectly during the period of rivalry - supported Salafis who want to turn everyone against Saad Hariri.
The parties that are targeting Hezbollah are the same ones that were allied with it to target the Future Movement. Qatar financed these parties and Hezbollah armed them. Hezbollah wanted a battle to erupt between Salafis and the Future Movement, but instead Hezbollah's men are being assassinated in Lebanon and Syria.
**This article was first published in Al-Arab Online on Feb. 22, 2014