LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/Behold, the Lamb
of God, who takes away the sin of the world
John 01/29-34: "John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, 'A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.' I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel." John testified further, saying, "I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the holy Spirit.' Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God."
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For January 04/14
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For January 04/14
Lebanese Related News
Miscellaneous Reports And News
Kerry to Netanyahu: Israeli-Palestinian peace not 'mission
Liberman: Peace deal must be based on Israeli security, stable Palestinian economy
Slow deterioration in functioning of Sharon's vital organs, says hospital
Last chance for Lebanon
January 03, 2014/The Daily Star
The cycle of violence that Lebanon is experiencing comes as no surprise to anyone, and should be fully expected because of the lack of functioning state institutions to take responsibility for the situation on the ground.
Wednesday’s bomb blast in Beirut’s southern suburbs is merely the latest reminder that whoever wants to destabilize Lebanon can exploit the country’s sectarian divide to sow terror and even more tension and polarization.
The formation of a new government is the top priority during this critical stage, while all of the political bickering and armchair analyses are luxuries that the country can simply no longer afford.
President Michel Sleiman and Tammam Salam, the prime minister-designate, must be allowed to put into place a full-fledged executive branch of government that can shoulder the heavy burden of stabilizing the country, and allowing it to move forward. It’s being repeated in many quarters that certain “formulas” governing the makeup of a new Cabinet will be dangerous for Lebanon’s immediate future, but the current situation of drift and paralysis has been shown to be particularly deadly. Sleiman and Salam are perfectly aware of the dangers to national interests, and they are certainly uninterested in putting forward a government lineup that serves as a provocation to any side. All political parties should put aside their differences and grievances and allow the president and the prime minister-designate, who received overwhelming support when he was named to the job nearly a year ago, to act.
The overriding priority is to ensure the safety and security of people in Lebanon, and a caretaker government is politically unable to handle such a responsibility.
A new government is needed to act, and if political parties are unhappy with its performance after it has begun to function, they should take their case to the people, through peaceful and democratic means.
Lebanon is deteriorating on a daily basis and no amount of wishful thinking or betting on outside developments will buy a little more time – it’s time for someone to take charge.
President Michel Sleiman won’t back fait accompli Cabinet
January 03, 2014/By Antoine Ghattas Saab The Daily Star
BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman has no intention to sign the decree of a fait accompli government following the New Year holiday, a source close to the president told The Daily Star Thursday. “If a new Cabinet is formed, it will take into account all the parties’ balance of power in the country,” the source said. The source said that Sleiman insisted on giving more time for consultations with political leaders and Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam with the aim of forming a Cabinet that satisfies all the parties. Political sources said that given the soaring political tensions in the country, Sleiman was unlikely to add further tension by forming a fait accompli government.
Speaking to Al-Manar TV station in the aftermath of the suicide bombing that claimed the lives of five civilians in Beirut’s southern suburbs, Hezbollah’s deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem warned against the formation of a fait accompli Cabinet, reiterating that unilateral decisions would plunge the country into chaos. Qassem called for the formation of a national unity government because “only solidarity will spare the country more terrorist schemes.”
Speaker Nabih Berri has joined Hezbollah in warning against the formation of a neutral, nonpartisan Cabinet, saying such a government would be toppled by a no-confidence vote in Parliament, according to visitors to the speaker’s residence in Ain al-Tineh. Berri said that the formation of a neutral government was basically aimed to exclude Hezbollah. “If this government is formed, as they say, from neutral and nonpartisan [figures], the aim and the outcome of this action will be to exclude Hezbollah from the government and nothing else,” Berri was quoted as saying by the visitors. Berri warned that a neutral, nonpartisan Cabinet would be toppled in Parliament. He pledged to oppose any attempt to exclude Hezbollah from the government, recalling that his Amal Movement and its leader, the missing Imam Musa Sadr, stood against the isolation of the Kataeb Party in 1975.
“A decree on the formation of this government will be issued on Jan. 7 or 8 as they say,” Berri was quoted as telling visitors. “Then [this government] will take time to draft its policy statement after which it will go to Parliament to debate it and seek a vote of confidence. But this government will collapse as it will not win a vote of confidence in Parliament,” he added. He said lawmakers from his parliamentary Liberation and Development bloc as well as from MP Walid Jumblatt’s bloc would not give a confidence vote to a neutral government that would exclude Hezbollah. Berri’s remarks come as Sleiman was reported to have agreed with Salam to seek the formation of a neutral Cabinet before Jan. 25. The move is likely to throw the country into further turmoil given stern warnings by the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition which strongly opposes such a government. Hezbollah and its allies have demanded a 9-9-6 Cabinet formula representing all the political parties as a way out of the nine-month Cabinet deadlock. The Future Movement and its March 14 allies have rejected outright the 9-9-6 Cabinet formula which would give veto power to the March 8 and March 14 camps. Instead, they have demanded the formation of a neutral, nonpartisan government to oversee the presidential vote in May.
Berri reiterated that his proposal for a 9-9-6 Cabinet lineup was the best formula for the March 14 parties because it would grant them veto power, in addition to the ministerial portfolios of the prime minister and centrists.
“What’s the worst about such a [neutral] government is that it will deepen differences. I had hoped to reach a consensus on a new Cabinet according to the formula I had proposed,” he said.
In remarks published by As-Safir newspaper, Berri warned that a fait accompli government would lead to “dangerous consequences” and scuttle the presidential election scheduled in May. He said that taking the choice of a neutral Cabinet requires that Salam step down because he is part of the March 14 coalition and that new parliamentary consultations be held to name a new prime minister.Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai urged Sleiman to ensure that the election of a new president take place on time. “You [Sleiman] took an oath before Parliament to be loyal to the homeland and the Constitution. And you, yourself, declared, more than once, that you would hand over the [presidency] to the newly elected president before May 25,” Rai said in his message during the World Day of Peace Mass in Bkirki Wednesday.
Reports: Akkar Man is Haret Hreik Suicide Bomber
Naharnet Newsdesk 03 January 2014/A deadly bombing in Beirut's southern suburbs was carried out by an anti-Assad suicide bomber who hailed from the northern district of Akkar, media reports said Friday.
The reports said the identity paper of a 20-year-old Lebanese University student named Qutaiba al-Satem was found near the bombing site in Haret Hreik district. LBCI TV said al-Satem, who hails from the border area of Wadi Khaled and is a student at the LU's Tripoli campus, left his parents' house along with his cousin on December 30. His father, the Imam of a mosque in Wadi Khaled, reported them missing the next day, it said. Investigators were on Friday trying to determine whether DNA tests carried out on human remains found in the bombing site belonged to him. According to Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3), al-Satem was previously fighting in Syria alongside rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad. The Lebanese army, which is questioning his father, did not confirm the reports. Acting General Prosecutor Samir Hammoud, who inspected the site of the blast along with State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr, told reporters however that the attack was most probably carried out by a suicide bomber. The army said on Thursday that 20 kilograms of explosives were placed in a dark green Grand Cherokee, which was allegedly driven by the young suicide bomber. The explosion came a week after a car bombing in downtown Beirut killed Mohammed Shatah, former finance minister and top aide to ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri. In November, suicide bombers targeted the Iranian Embassy in Beirut's southern suburbs. Al-Satem family condemned the Haret Hreik bombing after news broke Friday that the explosion could have been carried out by Qutaiba. It called for a transparent investigation and said it rejected any assault on any Lebanese citizen. (Photo circulated on social media networks)
March 14 Delegation Meets Geagea: Post-Shatah Period Won't Be Like Previous Period
Naharnet Newsdesk 03 January 2014/A delegation from the March 14 coalition on Friday announced that the period after the assassination of former minister Mohammed Shatah will be nothing like the period that preceded the operation. The announcement came after the delegation met with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea at his headquarters in Maarab. During the two-hour meeting, the conferees discussed “the situations in the country after the assassination of ex-minister Mohammed Shatah and the Haret Hreik blast in Dahieh,” according to a statement issued by the LF. The delegation comprised al-Mustaqbal bloc MPs Nohad al-Mashnouq, Jean Oghassabian and Hadi Hbeish and March 14 General-Secretariat Coordinator Fares Soaid. Geagea and the March 14 figures also discussed “the broad lines of March 14's strategy for the coming phase, which will be under the slogan 'Post-Shatah Period Won't Be Like Previous Period',” according to the statement. Last week, Shatah, his bodyguard Tareq Bader and six other people were killed in a powerful car bombing in the Starco area in downtown Beirut. The March 14 camp blamed the attack on Hizbullah and the Syrian regime. Both parties have dismissed the allegations as politically motivated. And on Thursday, four people were killed and 77 others wounded in a bombing that rocked the Beirut southern suburb of Haret Hreik, a Hizbullah bastion.
Analysts: More Unrest Likely for Gridlocked Lebanon
Naharnet Newsdesk 03 January 2014/Politically paralyzed by deep divisions exacerbated by the war in neighboring Syria, Lebanon is likely to see a continuing cycle of political violence, analysts say.
On Thursday, four people were killed and dozens others wounded in a bomb blast in the Beirut southern suburb of Haret Hreik, a stronghold of Hizbullah, less than a week after the assassination of former finance minister Mohammed Shatah, a member of the March 14 coalition. The attacks were the latest in a string of incidents linked to the Syrian conflict that have strained Lebanon's fragile multi-sectarian political system.
"I expect an escalation of the deterioration in the security situation," said Hilal Khashan, a professor of political science at the American University in Beirut (AUB). "The explosions are a direct consequence of the situation in Syria and finding a solution to the crisis in Syria is facing a deadlock," he told Agence France Presse. The effects have been far-reaching for Lebanon's political scene, traditionally fractious but now increasingly dysfunctional.
The government effectively collapsed nine months ago, with the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Miqati, and lengthy negotiations on the formation of a consensus replacement have gone nowhere.
Parliamentary elections have been postponed, and there are doubts about whether a presidential vote scheduled for May will go ahead. At the root of the tensions lies a deep division between Hizbullah and the March 14 camp. The split has only widened with Hizbullah's decision to fight alongside Syria's President Bashar Assad against an uprising that is supported by many Lebanese Sunnis.
"There is a deep underlying split (that is) obvious in this country," said Karim Makdisi, a professor of political studies at AUB. "It comes in phases. The underlying issue remains, and then when there's a particular regional issue, this stuff comes back up to the surface." Since the war in Syria began, Hizbullah has seen its southern Beirut stronghold targeted in three bomb attacks, along with a double suicide bombing that hit the Iranian embassy in Beirut.
The attacks illustrate a growing trend of Sunni radicalization in Lebanon fueled by the Syrian conflict and heightened sectarian rhetoric, said Sahar Atrash, an analyst at the International Crisis Group.
"The traditional leaders of the Islamists... are losing in favor of those who are more radical," she said. "In the view of many they proved not to be strong enough to act against Hizbullah," she said, with the conflict in Syria adding a "new layer to the whole Sunni-Shiite divide."Lebanon fought a civil war between 1975 and 1990 and its delicate sectarian balance is reflected in a complex political arrangement that has regularly generated political crises.
In March, PM Miqati resigned, effectively bringing down the government, but ongoing disagreements between Hizbullah and the March 14 movement have prevented even the formation of an interim replacement government.
Later this year, President Michel Suleiman's term expires and parliament should be called upon to elect a replacement for the office. The candidate is usually chosen by consensus, which will be hard to come by in such a polarized environment. "I don't see the two parties sitting at the table, agreeing on a government or a president," said Atrash. "The gap is so deep and the issues at stake for both parties are so important, so existential in a way, that none of them would be willing to make a compromise." Makdisi described all Lebanon's key political players as demonstrating "incredible irresponsibility." "I don't think there's any strategy and I think that all sides are just playing a game of chicken," he said. But he also pointed to the regional influence at work in Lebanon, where Saudi Arabia holds sway over much of the Sunni community, while its arch-enemy Iran arms, funds and trains Hizbullah. The only solution for Lebanon is if "the Saudis say okay we're going to move towards some kind of agreement, they get together with the Iranians and they strike some kind of deal."In the meantime, Lebanon's stalemate appears as intractable as Syria's war."I think the country will be on hold until after an agreement is reached on Syria." Khashan said. Source/Agence France Presse.
Ashton Urges 'Determined Political Response' after Haret Hreik Bombing
Naharnet Newsdesk 03 January 2014/European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Friday condemned the deadly “terrorist attack” that rocked the Beirut southern suburb of Haret Hreik, calling for a “determined political response.”In a press release, Ashton extended her “sincere condolences to the families of the victims” and hoped for a “speedy recovery for those injured.” Citing last week's bomb attack that killed former Minister Mohammed Shatah and seven others in downtown Beirut, Ashton reiterated her “deepest concern at the spiraling violence in Lebanon.” “These repeated acts of political violence and terror seek to undermine the peace and stability of Lebanon; they should not be allowed to prevail. A determined political response is called for, to oppose the language of violence,” she underlined. Ashton noted that the EU will continue to “stand by the Lebanese people and support the political and security institutions to overcome the challenges they face."On Thursday, four people were killed and around 77 others wounded in a likely suicide bomb attack that hit Haret Hreik, a Hizbullah bastion.
Report: Saudi Arabia Rejects Iranian Request to Participate in al-Majed's Questioning
Naharnet Newsdesk 03 January 2014/ Saudi Arabia rejected a request by the Islamic Republic of Tehran to participate in the investigation with the “emir” of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, Saudi national Majed al-Majed, who is allegedly detained by the army intelligence. According to al-Joumhouria newspaper published on Friday, the issue is set to inflict further deterioration in the Saudi-Iranian ties.
Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour confirmed on Thursday an Iranian request to “participate in investigations with al-Majed given that the explosion took place on an Iranian soil.”
Media reports had said that al-Majed, who is wanted by Saudi authorities, is the suspected chief of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which claimed it carried out a deadly November 19 double suicide bombing at Iran's Beirut embassy that killed 25 people. For his part, Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri said in comments published in As Safir that “the matter (of including Iran in the investigations) concerns only the Lebanese authorities as Saudi Arabia doesn't have any information on when al-Majed entered Lebanon.” Officials said the suspect's DNA was being tested to remove any doubt over his identity.
Tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran has affected the situation in the region with the ongoing conflict in Syria a main point of contention. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades group was designated in the United States in 2012 as a "terrorist organization." The group was formed in 2009 and is believed to have branches in both the Arabian Peninsula and Lebanon. The Lebanese unit is named after Ziad al-Jarrah, a Lebanese who took part in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. It has sporadically fired rockets into northern Israel, and the Brigades also claimed responsibility for the 2010 bombing attack of a Japanese oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
It is named for the Palestinian mentor of the late al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. He was killed in a 1989 bomb blast. According to Islamist sites, al-Majed was revealed to be the leader of the Brigades in 2012.
On Wednesday, a Twitter account belonging to Sirajeddin Zreikat, a member of the Brigades, appeared to have been suspended. Zreikat had claimed responsibility in the group's name for the Iranian embassy bombing.
That attack came amid rising tension in Lebanon over the role of the Iran-backed Hizbullah in the war in neighboring Syria. Hizbullah and Iran are allied with the Syrian regime, and it has dispatched fighters to battle the uprising alongside government forces. In claiming the embassy bombing, Zreikat warned of more attacks in Lebanon if Hizbullah kept sending troops to support Syrian President Bashar Assad. In 2009, Lebanon sentenced al-Majed in absentia to life in prison for belonging to a different extremist group, the al-Qaida-inspired Fatah al-Islam.
Lebanese army says DNA tests show man held in Iran embassy bombing is top al-Qaida suspect
By Bassem Mroue And Ryan Lucas, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press –
BEIRUT - DNA tests confirmed that a man in Lebanese custody is the suspected leader of an al-Qaida-linked group that has claimed responsibility for bombings across the Middle East, the Lebanese army said Friday.
In a brief statement, the military said the tests established the detainee's identity as Majid al-Majid, a Saudi citizen and the commander of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades. Al-Majid is on Saudi Arabia's list of 85 most-wanted individuals, and the U.S. State Department has designated the group he leads a foreign terrorist organization.The group has claimed responsibility for attacks throughout the region, including the 2010 bombing of a Japanese oil tanker in the Persian Gulf and several rocket attacks from Lebanon into Israel. The latest attack claimed by the group was the Nov. 19 double bombing of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut that killed at least 23 people and wounded dozens.In 2012, the U.S. declared the Abdullah Azzam Brigades a terrorist group. The State Department's action froze any assets it holds in the U.S and banned Americans from doing business with the group.
The Lebanese authorities have not disclosed when or where al-Majid was arrested.Al-Majid took over the group in mid-2012 after the organization's previous leader, Saleh al-Qarawi, was gravely wounded in Pakistan, said Mustafa Alani, the director of the security department at the Geneva-based Gulf Research Center. Al-Majid, who is believed to have serious kidney problems that require dialysis, was an important figure, and the group grew from a relatively small outfit to a larger player under his leadership, Alani said. "It's become much bigger. Majid al-Majid was able to recruit a lot of Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese," Alani said. "He's more active, and far more clever than Qarawi." Al-Majid, who lived for a period of time in the Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp outside the Lebanese port city of Sidon, shifted the group's attention after he took control from its earlier anti-Western and anti-Saudi line and focused instead on the civil war in Syria and the fight to oust President Bashar Assad, Alani said.
In the spring of 2013, after the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah group announced that it was fighting alongside Assad's troops against the Syrian rebels, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades began to target Hezbollah as well — and by extension, their Iranian patrons. "Since Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, they started to focus their attention on Hezbollah," Alani said. "Before that, they had no problem with Hezbollah." In its claim of responsibility for the deadly Iranian Embassy bombing in Beirut, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades threatened more attacks against Hezbollah unless the group withdrew its fighters from Syria. In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Islamic Republic is planning to send a team to Lebanon to assist in the process of questioning al-Majid. The official IRNA news agency said Zarif made the remarks during a telephone conversation with his Lebanese counterpart on Friday. Earlier in the day, families of those killed in the Iranian Embassy bombing demanded that al-Majid, who has not been charged in the attack, be tried in Lebanon and not be sent to his homeland.
Zeinab al-Husseini, whose husband Bilal Kaddaha was killed in the attack, said putting al-Majid on trial in Lebanon would give peace to the families and could act as a deterrent against future violence.
"My husband will not return and I want this man to be executed so that my husband can rest in his grave," said al-Husseini, who had a photo of her late husband pinned to her shirt. "Putting him on trial will be a lesson to others who might think of carrying out terrorist attacks here."Associated Press writers Ali Akbar Dareini in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report
Canada Condemns Beirut Bombing
January 2, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today released the following statement:
“Canada condemns today’s car bomb attack in southern Beirut that killed five people. On behalf of all Canadians, I wish to express condolences to the families of those killed and wish a speedy recovery to those who were injured. “It is imperative that Lebanon avoid being pulled into regional conflicts. Lebanese leaders must maintain peace and security through a national dialogue and the formation of a government.
“Canada strongly condemns all attempts to destabilize Lebanon, and we stand firmly with the Lebanese people in the face of such terrorist threats.”
Nordic Ships Head to Syria for Delayed
Naharnet Newsdesk 03 January 2014/Danish and Norwegian vessels left the Cypriot port of Limassol Friday and headed towards Syria to escort a delayed shipment of chemical weapons for destruction, a spokesman said. "The Norwegian-Danish task group to transport Syria's chemical agents to destruction left the port of Limassol this morning," said Norwegian armed forces spokesman Lars Magne Hovtun. "The four ships have now set a course toward a holding area in international water outside Syria, so we are most ready to enter the port of Latakia when the order arrives," he added. The ships are to be joined by Chinese and Russian vessels inside Syrian waters under a plan agreed in Moscow on Friday. The removal had been scheduled to take place before December 31, but the deadline passed and a new one has not yet been set. The year-end deadline for the removal of key weapons components was the first major milestone under a U.N. Security Council-backed deal arranged by Russia and the United States that aims to eliminate all of Syria's chemical arms by the middle of this year. Syria's worsening civil war, logistical problems and bad weather had held up the operation to move chemical agents to the port of Latakia, said the joint U.N.-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons mission overseeing the operation. Under the plan, the chemicals will be taken from Latakia to a port in Italy where they will be transferred to a U.S. Navy vessel fitted with equipment to destroy them at sea. Source/Agence France Presse.Middle
Saudi Arabia Considers Dahieh Blast
'Criminal Act', Urges Media to Halt Incitement
Naharnet Newsdesk 03 January 2014/Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri denounced in a statement the deadly blast that targeted Haret Hreik neighborhood in Beirut's southern suburbs, considering it a “criminal act.”“Terrorism doesn't distinguish between anyone and the best way to confront it be by constructing a Lebanese national agreement,” Asiri said. He lashed out at media outlets, calling on them “not to provoke” people and to “restore calm.” Asiri also offered his condolences to the families of the victims. On Friday, pro-Hizbullah al-Akhbar newspaper published on it's front page “the Saudi sedition” referring to the blast that rocked Dahieh a day before. Tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran has affected the situation in the region with the ongoing conflict in Syria a main point of contention, which had largely affected Lebanon. Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia has been locked in a decades-long rivalry with Shiite-dominated Iran. Gulf monarchies have never made a secret of their concerns about Iranian regional ambitions. Tehran is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, of the Shiite Alawite sect, in his fight against a nearly three-year insurrection backed by Gulf states.
Iran Denounces 'Terrorist' Blast in Haret Hreik
Naharnet Newsdesk 03 January 2014/Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham condemned on Friday the “terrorist” explosion that targeted a day before Beirut's southern suburbs.“We strongly denounce the terrorist attack that targeted Beirut's southern suburbs,” Iran's state-run News Agency quoted Afkham as saying. She pointed out that the “Lebanese people and its wise leaders have been trying to prevent Israeli division conspiracies and will not allow it this time to succeed.” “Lebanon will cut the hands that are attacking its stability, security and national unity,” Afkham added. At least four people where killed after a car bomb rocked Dahieh's neighborhood of Haret Hreik, the fourth attack to hit the Hizbullah bastion since it group announced its intervention in Syria last year. It was the latest in a wave of attacks to hit Lebanon in recent months as the civil war in Syria increasingly spills over into its smaller neighbor. The violence has targeted both Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods, further stoking sectarian tensions that are already running high as each community in Lebanon lines up with its brethren in Syria on opposing sides of the war. The explosion comes a week after a car bombing in downtown Beirut killed prominent Sunni politician Mohammed Shatah. The former finance minister and top aide to ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri was critical of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Hizbullah allies.Hizbullah's once seemingly impenetrable bastion of support — Beirut's southern suburbs — also has been hit several times in recent months.
Report: Hizbullah Moved Parts of Anti-Ship Missile System to Lebanon
Naharnet Newsdesk 03 January 2014/U.S. officials believe Hizbullah is smuggling advanced guided-missile systems into Lebanon from Syria piece by piece, the Wall Street Journal reported. Some components of a powerful anti-ship missile system have already been moved to Lebanon within the past year, including supersonic Yakhont rockets, according to previously undisclosed intelligence. Yet “to make it lethal, a system needs to be complete," said a senior defense official. Other systems that could target Israeli aircraft, ships and bases are being stored in expanded weapons depots under Hizbullah control in Syria, the Journal quoted current and former U.S. officials as saying. They said Iran's elite Quds Force has been directly overseeing the shipments to Hizbullah warehouses in Syria. As many as 12 anti-ship guided-missile systems may now be in Hizbullah's possession inside Syria, according to U.S. officials briefed on the intelligence. Israel targeted those Russian-made systems in July and again in October with mixed results, according to U.S. damage assessments. The officials warned such guided weapons could sharply increase the party's ability to deter Israel in any potential new war. Hizbullah already has around 100,000 rockets, according to Israeli intelligence estimates, but those are primarily unguided weapons that are less accurate. Its longer-range rockets are spread across Lebanon, said the Journal.
Army Says 'Secret' Investigations
Ongoing over Arrest of Terrorist, Denies Media Reports
Naharnet Newsdesk 03 January 2014/The Lebanese Army denied on Friday media reports concerning the circumstances that surrounded the arrest of a “terrorist,” stressing that investigation are ongoing in a “disclosed manner.”“Secret investigations are ongoing and we are not responsible for any information published regarding the matter,” the army said in a communique. Media reports had said that the “emir” of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which claimed it carried out a deadly November 19 double suicide bombing at Iran's Beirut embassy that killed 25 people, was detained by the army intelligence. The statement said that any alleged reports published in TV stations and newspapers, including al-Akhbar, An Nahar, As Safir and al-Liwaa are fabricated. “We will hold on to our right to file a lawsuit against any media outlet and any source publishing fabricated and false news concerning the military institutions and its tasks,” the statement added. The group was formed in 2009 and is believed to have branches in both the Arabian Peninsula and Lebanon. It has sporadically fired rockets into northern Israel, and the Brigades also claimed responsibility for the 2010 bombing attack of a Japanese oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. According to Islamist sites, al-Majed was revealed to be the leader of the Brigades in 2012. On Wednesday, a Twitter account belonging to Sirajeddin Zreikat, a member of the Brigades, appeared to have been suspended. Zreikat had claimed responsibility in the group's name for the Iranian embassy bombing. That attack came amid rising tension in Lebanon over the role of the Iran-backed Hizbullah in the war in neighboring Syria. Hizbullah and Iran are allied with the Syrian regime, and it has dispatched fighters to battle the uprising alongside government forces. In claiming the embassy bombing, Zreikat warned of more attacks in Lebanon if Hizbullah kept sending troops to support Syrian President Bashar Assad. In 2009, Lebanon sentenced al-Majed in absentia to life in prison for belonging to a different extremist group, the al-Qaida-inspired Fatah al-Islam.
Medic: Detained Saudi Jihadist 'in Poor Health'
Naharnet Newsdesk 03 January 2014/An al-Qaida-linked Saudi suspect detained in Lebanon is being held in a military hospital because "he is in poor health", a medical official told Agence France Presse Friday. Another official familiar with the investigation said the interrogation of Majed al-Majed "has been delayed because he is in poor health," and that the suspect is being "heavily guarded" at the Baabda military hospital near Beirut. According to the medical source, who had been treating Majed before his arrest without knowing who he was, he suffers from kidney failure and requires regular dialysis. "On December 27, the hospital where Majed was being treated contacted the Red Cross to arrange his transfer to another hospital," said the source. But before the suspect arrived at the second facility, "the Lebanese army intelligence intercepted the ambulance and arrested Majed," the source said, adding that neither the hospital nor the ambulance teams had prior knowledge of who Majed was. Majed is the suspected head of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which claimed responsibility for an attack in November on the Iranian embassy in Beirut, killing 25 people. According to Islamist websites, Majed was revealed to be the leader of the Brigades in 2012. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades group was designated in the United States in 2012 as a "terrorist organization". It was formed in 2009 and is believed to have branches in both the Arabian Peninsula and Lebanon. In claiming the embassy bombing, brigades member Sirajeddin Zreikat warned of more attacks in Lebanon if Hizbullah kept sending troops to support Syrian President Bashar Assad. In 2009, Lebanon sentenced Majed in absentia to life in prison for belonging to a different extremist group, the al-Qaida-inspired Fatah al-Islam.
Source/Agence France Presse.
Miqai: We Cannot Reactivate Role of Caretaker Government for Any Reason
Naharnet Newsdesk 03 January 2014/Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati rejected on Friday suggestions to convene cabinet to address pending issues, saying that such a proposal contradicts the Taef Accord. He told the General Security magazine in an interview: “We cannot reactivate the role of the caretaker government for any reason.” Such a suggestion also violates the constitution, he added. Moreover, he blamed the political powers' insistence on their positions for the failure to form a new cabinet. “All sides must realize the danger of the situation in Lebanon,” warned Miqati. “We should all cooperate together instead of raising the bar of our demands,” he stressed. “We must be realistic and all sides must abandon their conditions and counter-conditions,” continued the caretaker premier. Furthermore, he urged the rival powers to halt their attempts to politically “isolate the other.”
Since his appointment in April 2013, Premier-designate Tammam Salam has been facing difficulties in forming a new government. He has been confronted with conditions and counter-conditions set by the rival March 8 and March 14 alliances over the formation of a new cabinet. Given the deadlock, some political powers have demanded that the caretaker cabinet convene in order to address pending issues.
Commenting on the Syrian conflict, Miqati said: “The Lebanese government adopted the policy of disassociation because it comforts us and keeps us at an equal distance from the disputed sides.”
This stance was enforced through the Baabda Declaration, he said. “Resolving our problems lies in committing to this policy and the Declaration in full,” he stressed. The meddling of Lebanese powers in the Syrian crisis will not alter developments in that country, remarked Miqati. In addition, he stated that he “senses that the international community has taken the decision to protect Lebanon's stability.” He also reiterated his appeal to the international community to help Lebanese authorities in catering to the needs of Syrian refugees who have flooded Lebanon to escape their country's conflict.
UAE Renews Travel Warning to Lebanon
Naharnet Newsdesk 03 January 2014/The United Arab Emirates on Friday reiterated its call on its citizens not to travel to Lebanon over the deteriorating security situation in the country. A statement issued by the Foreign Ministry also asked UAE nationals currently in Lebanon to leave the country immediately and coordinate with the country's embassy to facilitate their travel. The statement urged UAE citizens to abide by the travel warning pending another decision from the Foreign Ministry. It urged them to take precautions while traveling abroad and read travel advices on the ministry's website. The UAE first advised its citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon in May 2012. Tourists from Gulf states formed the bulk of the wealthy visitors to Lebanon, whose vital tourism industry has been hit hard by unrest in neighboring Syria.Most GCC states began urging their nationals to avoid traveling to Lebanon when sectarian clashes linked to Syria's war began shaking the country. The security situation became worse after assassinations and bombings began targeting Sunni and Shiite areas. The latest attacks were a deadly bombing in the Haret Hreik district of Beirut's southern suburbs, a Hizbullah stronghold, and a car bomb blast that killed former Finance Minister Mohammed Shatah, a Sunni politician.
Danish Muslim Apostate Faces Hate Speech Charges
By: Andrew E. Harrod/FrontPageMagazine.com
"Muslims love to take advantage of" free speech, Danish-Palestinian poet Yahya Hassan says, "and as soon as there is someone else saying something critical against them, they want to restrict it." In an action previously indicated by this writer, Hassan is now personally facing this double standard in Danish "hate speech" charges for his anti-Islam comments.
Following Danish-Iranian artist Firoozeh Bazrafkan's conviction under Danish Penal Code Section 266b (in Danish here) for condemning Islam as misogynist, a local Muslim Aarhus politician demanded a similar prosecution of Hassan. His poetry "says that everybody in the ghettos like Vollsmose and Gellerup steal, don't pay taxes and cheat themselves to pensions," the Somali-Dane Mohamed Suleban stated after reporting Hassan to the police on November 27. "Those are highly generalizing statements and they offend me and many other people." Authorities are currently considering Section 266b charges for, according to one English translation, any public "communication by which a group of persons are threatened, insulted or denigrated due to their race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, religion or sexual orientation."
The 18-year-old Hassan's eponymous debut book contains about 150 poems, "many of which are severely critical of the religious environment he grew up in" according to Wall Street Journal reporters Clemens Bomsdorf and Ellen Emmerentze Jervell. Written in all capital letters, Hassan's poems treat "issues like the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, child abuse, and the interplay between violence and religion" with "[p]rofanity and vivid analogies." Yahya Hassan has sold 80,000 copies following an October 17 release in the comparatively small Danish market and is expected to exceed 100,000 copies by Christmas. Hassan's publisher Gyldendal reports that Danish poetry books are fortunate to sell 500 copies. A recent book forum honored Hassan as the debut author of the year and an English translation of his poetry is underway.
Hassan first became prominent with an October 5 Danish newspaper interview entitled "I F**king Hate My Parents' Generation." In it he blamed poor Muslim parenting for the juvenile delinquency and social maladjustment experienced by many Danish Muslim youth such as Hassan himself. With more than 85,000 social media shares, the interview became the most shared Politiken article of the year.
Days thereafter Hassan recited from his "LANGDIGT" or "LONG POEM" before his book's release on the Danish news program Deadline. Extract: "between the Friday prayers and the Ramadans/you want to carry a knife in your pocket/you want to go and ask people if they have a problem/although the only problem is you." Such verses brought Hassan more death threats than any other previous Deadline guest. Hassan has subsequently reported 27 Facebook threats against him, of which the police investigated six as serious and pressed charges in one case of a 15-year old boy. A subsequent assault against Hassan occurred on November 18 in Copenhagen Central Station by a 24-year old Palestinian-Danish Muslim who had previously received a seven-year terrorism sentence.
Hassan now wears a bulletproof vest and receives protection from Denmark's domestic intelligence agency PET at speaking engagements. A November 26 reading by Hassan from his book in a school in the Danish town of Odense, moreover, required an estimated one million kroner in security costs, more than the amount spent on a high-risk soccer game. Several hundred policemen had observed the school for two days before the event occurred with road checkpoints, a bomb sweep, and a five kilometer no-fly zone around the school.
Police safety concerns had forced the cancellation of an earlier, sold-out reading at a public library in Odense's troubled district of Vollsmose. Along with Hassan, Culture Minister Marianne Jelved and several other Danish politicians criticized the Vollmose cancellation as "completely unacceptable." Jelved demanded that police in Vollmose "make the necessary precautions" in order "to hold on to what democracy is, or otherwise we reduce it day by day."Yet Suleban's charges might succeed in silencing Hassan where violence has failed. Jacob Mchangama, legal affairs director at Denmark's liberal think-tank Cepos, sees a "strong case" against Hassan, particularly given a "range of similar preceding cases" like Bazrafkan's. Hassan's media attention and public popularity, though, might make conviction difficult, as "his poems are important social commentary." Hassan's acquittal "for making statements similar to what other people have been convicted for," Mchangama nonetheless observed, "will expose a random legislation where no-one can be sure of what is legal to say."
Calling for Section 266b's abolition, Mchangama further questions the law's "arbitrary limits." What "is sufficiently degrading" and why should, for example, homosexuals receive protection, but not disabled people. Mchangama also sees no "good science" correlating speech laws with "less hate crimes." Other commentators, moreover, have argued that speech trials simply bring more attention to the offending statements.
Hassan's case presents speech codes functioning not just as a de facto blasphemy, but also as a de facto apostasy law protecting Islam. How, after all, can an atheist like Hassan, who says that there is "something wrong with Islam," decide upon his religious views without rigorous testing of all faiths? For that matter, how could anyone answer Hassan's call for a "reformation" in an Islam that "refuses to renew itself" without similar scrutiny? Such questions aside, Hassan remains committed to his criticisms, stating that he does not "care about getting convicted of racism." Muslims threatening violence can likewise "all come and get me if they want. I don't give a s**t about these morons." "I know these people," Hassan adds, "They can't handle criticism…they're not interested in dialogue."
**This article was commissioned by The Legal Project, an activity of the Middle East Forum.
Question: "Who am I in Christ?"
GotQuestions.org/ Answer: According to 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” There are two Greek words which are translated “new” in the Bible. The first, neos, refers to something that has just been made, but there are already many others in existence just like it. The word translated “new” in this verse is the word kainos, which means “something just made which is unlike anything else in existence.” In Christ, we are made an entirely new creation, just as God created the heavens and the earth originally—He made them out of nothing, and so He does with us. He does not merely clean up our old selves; He makes an entirely new self. When we are in Christ, we are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4 KJV). God Himself, in the person of His Holy Spirit, takes up residence in our hearts. We are in Christ and He is in us.
In Christ, we are regenerated, renewed, and born again, and this new creation is spiritually minded, whereas the old nature is carnally minded. The new nature fellowships with God, obeys His will, and is devoted to His service. These are actions the old nature is incapable of doing or even desiring to do. The old nature is dead to the things of the spirit and cannot revive itself. It is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) and can only be made alive by a supernatural awakening, which happens when we come to Christ and are indwelt by Him. Christ gives us a completely new and holy nature and an incorruptible life. Our old life, previously dead to God because of sin, is buried, and we are raised “to walk in newness of life” with Him (Romans 6:4).
If we belong to Christ, we are united to Him and no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:5-6); we are made alive with Him (Ephesians 2:5); we are conformed to His image (Romans 8:29); we are free from condemnation and walking not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1); and we are part of the body of Christ with other believers (Romans 12:5). The believer now possesses a new heart (Ezekiel 11:19) and has been blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:3).
We might wonder why we so often do not live in the manner described, even though we have given our lives to Christ and are sure of our salvation. This is because our new natures are residing in our old fleshly bodies, and these two are at war with one another. The old nature is dead, but the new nature still has to battle the old “tent” in which it dwells. Evil and sin are still present, but the believer now sees them in a new perspective and they no longer control him as they once did. In Christ, we can now choose to resist sin, whereas the old nature could not. Now we have the choice to either feed the new nature through the Word, prayer, and obedience, or to feed the flesh by neglecting those things.
When we are in Christ, “we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37) and can rejoice in our Savior, who makes all things possible (Philippians 4:13). In Christ we are loved, forgiven, and secure. In Christ we are adopted, justified, redeemed, reconciled, and chosen. In Christ we are victorious, filled with joy and peace, and granted true meaning in life. What a wonderful Savior is Christ!
Ex- Israeli envoy: Israel killed majority of those behind Buenos Aires blasts
AFP Published: 01.03.14/ Ynetnews
Two decades after deadly terror attacks in Argentina's
capital, former Israeli ambassador says 'large majority of those responsible are
no longer of this world, we did it ourselves' Israel has killed most of those
behind the deadly attacks on its embassy and a Jewish charities building in
Argentina in the 1990s, a former Israeli envoy said Thursday. The July 1994
bombing of the Argentine Jewish Charities Federation (AMIA) building in Buenos
Aires killed 85 people. Hundreds were hurt in a bombing Argentina says was
masterminded by Iran.
Two years earlier, in March 1992, a car bombing in front of the Israeli embassy in the capital killed 29 and wounded 200 others. The large majority of those responsible are no longer of this world, and we did it ourselves," Itzhak Aviran, who was Israel's ambassador to Argentina from 1993 to 2000, told the Buenos Aires-based AJN Jewish news agency. Two decades after the blasts, those who instigated them have not been brought to justice.
Neither Carlos Menem, who was Argentina's president from 1989 to 1999, nor his successor Fernando de la Rua and those who followed "did anything to get to the bottom of this tragedy," Aviran said. "We still need an answer (from the Argentine government) on what happened," he added. "We know who the perpetrators of the embassy bombing were and they did it a second time." Argentine courts have charged eight Iranians over the AMIA bombing and authorities are demanding their extradition. They include former defense minister Ahmad Vahidi and ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Argentine authorities also suspect Iran of being behind the 1992 bombing. Iran has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attacks. Argentina's 300,000-strong Jewish community is the largest in Latin America