January 18/14

Bible Quotation for today/Who Is the Greatest?/Temptations to Sin
Matthew18/01-09: "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, asking, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” So Jesus called a child to come and stand in front of them,  and said, “I assure you that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.  The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child.  And whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me. “If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea.  How terrible for the world that there are things that make people lose their faith! Such things will always happen—but how terrible for the one who causes them! “If your hand or your foot makes you lose your faith, cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you to enter life without a hand or a foot than to keep both hands and both feet and be thrown into the eternal fire.  And if your eye makes you lose your faith, take it out and throw it away! It is better for you to enter life with only one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

When you Venomously dig a hole for others, You ultimately fall it
Elias Bejjani/16/14/Just remember, that actual life is a two way path. So, and if you are wise, fear God and know how to avoid the consequences of your acts, do not ever forget that when you evilly and intentional make others go through a misery, that this same misery might turn on and hit you. Our Lebanese proverb portrays this inevitable fate: "You will drink from the same cup that you made others drink from it". This popular proverb delineates this life reality that pompous, stupid, shot sighted, vindictive and echo inflated people keep a blind eye on.


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

STL heralds new era/By Kareem Shaheen/The Daily Star/January 18/14

DEBKAfile/Putin to visit Tehran. King of Morocco invites Iran to Jerusalem Committee – with Kerry’s approval/January 18/14


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For January 18/14

Lebanese Related News

Hariri 'Optimistic' on Cabinet, Says He Hasn't Offered Concessions
STL Hearing for Legal Representatives of the Victims

Second Day STL Trial of 4 Suspects Details Hours before, After Hariri's Assassination

Swift Hints by Prosecution to Open Door for Potential Surprises during Trials

STL prosecution: Badreddine was ‘ghost’ of hit squad
Iran speaker says Tehran sacrificing for Hezbollah

Hariri sees STL trial as ‘first page of true justice’

Prosecution Unveils Route Taken by Booby-Trapped Truck to Reach St. Georges

Confrontation as Journalist Asks Al-Sayyed 'Don't You Fear Returning to The Hague as Suspect

STL Prosecution Shows Confidence as Trial Chamber Foils Defense's Attempt at Procrastination

Rocket fired from Syria kills seven in Lebanese border town

Al-Qaeda-linked rebels claim Lebanon blast

Sleiman warns against involvement in Syria crisis
Hale in Paris for Talks with Hariri, French Officials on 'Int'l Support for Lebanon'

French Envoys in Beirut over $3 Billion Saudi Military Aid Pledge

Abou Faour Calls on Rival Parties to Swiftly Agree on Cabinet Lineup

Four Men with British Passports Detained in Bekaa

Seven Killed, 15 Wounded in Syrian Shelling on Arsal

Report: Army Seizes Detonators from 6 Syrians in Bekaa

U.S., UK Welcome Start of STL Trial, Say Perpetrators Must be Brought to Justice

Actress Amalia Abi Saleh Dies after Battle with Illness

Saniora Hails Cabinet Consultations Progress, Says Ministerial Statement Remains Obstacle

U.S. Urges 'Restraint, Thorough Investigation' after Hermel Blast

World won't be fooled by Assad regime at talks: Kerry

Miscellaneous Reports And News

Netanyahu says if Rouhani agrees to recognize Israel, he would consider meeting him

Netanyahu, Rouhani to attend World Economic Forum in Davos

Netanyahu slams EU after Israel envoys censured over settlements
Iran has $100 billion abroad, can draw $4.2 billion: U.S. official

Liberman summons European envoys to reprimand them over anti-Israel 'bias'
Syria says it is ready for cease-fire in Aleppo, prisoners exchange ahead of conference

Exclusive: Russia steps up military lifeline to Syria's Assad - sources

White House: World security hinges on success of Iran nuclear deal
IAEA inspectors to visit Iran uranium mine
Hillary Clinton mulled green light for Israeli strike on Iran’
Drugs and dreams of paradise in Syria

FM Muallem Says Syria Ready for Prisoner Swap with Rebels

Jihadists Pull Out of North Syria Town

Canada Welcomes Opening Trial at Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Canadian man killed last August in Syrian conflict: Report
Death of Canadian in UK immigration custody sparks public debate


Hariri 'Optimistic' on Cabinet, Says He Hasn't Offered Concessions
Naharnet Newsdesk 17 January 2014/Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Friday announced that he is showing positivity in the cabinet formation process, noting that Hizbullah is a political party that is leading a “big coalition.”“We are positive regarding the cabinet formation process. This is something good for the country and for stability in the country,” Hariri said in an interview. He noted that he has not offered “concessions” concerning participation in a cabinet containing Hizbullah and its allies, stressing that “according to the principle of trials, any accused is innocent until proven guilty.” “We know that, theoretically, they are the ones who committed these crimes,” Hariri added, in reference to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon trials that started Thursday in The Hague. The STL has accused five Hizbullah members of involvement in the 2005 assassination of ex-PM Rafik Hariri. The party has dismissed the court as a U.S.-Israeli scheme and vowed to never cooperate with it. “We know that this might be the case, but in the end, this is a political party that is in a major alliance with the Aounists (Free Patriotic Movement) and other groups,” Hariri added. “We are trying to run the country together with everyone because we don't want to exclude anyone as Lebanon is going through a difficult period, especially after the international community miserably failed in addressing the Syrian issue,” he said. Asked whether he was optimistic regarding the cabinet formation process, Hariri answered: “I'm very optimistic … I don't know when it will be formed but I'm optimistic.” And in response to a question on whether there are any “red lines,” the ex-PM said: “Red lines are defined by the country's needs and we want the country to stabilize.”
The Hariri-led al-Mustaqbal movement has agreed to join a cabinet containing Hizbullah, but the main dispute is still revolving around the ministerial policy statement. Al-Mustaqbal and the March 14 forces are rejecting the inclusion of the so-called army-people-resistance equation in it and are insisting that it should endorse the Baabda Declaration.

Rocket fired from Syria kills seven in Lebanese border town
HERMEL, Lebanon (Reuters) - Rocket fire into the Lebanese border town of Arsal killed at least seven people and wounded 15 on Friday, Lebanon's state news agency said, in one of several such salvoes to hit towns bordering war-torn Syria. At least 20 rockets launched from across the border struck Lebanese frontier areas, according to the Lebanese army, in further spillover from Syria's civil war that has raised tensions across Lebanon.
Lebanon, itself shattered by civil war from 1975 to 1990, has been struggling to keep itself out of the nearly three-year conflict raging in its much larger neighbor, with more than 100,000 people killed there.
But with sectarian sympathies aligning different Lebanese groups with Syria's warring parties, spillover has become increasingly frequent. Lebanon is now coping with increased car bombings, some of them hitting the heart of the capital Beirut. The National News Agency said a single rocket was responsible for the death toll in Arsal, an area sympathetic to the mostly Sunni Muslim rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
A Lebanese national security source said there were eight casualties from two rockets in Arsal, but could not confirm how many were dead or wounded. Security sources inside the town said seven rockets crashed around Arsal, with a field clinic and a Syrian refugee camp both hit. The security source said that a Syrian fighter jet was targeting a town on the Syrian side of the frontier, but was not the source of the rocket fire.
Rockets also crashed into areas around the northern Lebanese border town of Hermel. One hit inside Hermel but caused no major damage, while two more rockets fell in neighboring villages, without reported casualties.
Hermel is supportive of Lebanon's powerful Shi'ite Muslim militant movement Hezbollah, which has been fighting in Syria on the side of Assad, himself from the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
A day earlier, Hermel, which is regularly the target of rocket and mortar attacks from Syrian rebels, suffered its first car bomb attack. The attack, which killed four people including a suicide bomber inside the car, was claimed by the Lebanese branch of the Nusra Front, the Syrian rebel group affiliated with al Qaeda. It has not been possible to verify the claim. (Writing by Erika Solomon; Editing by Mark Heinrich


Eight Killed, 15 Wounded in Syrian Shelling on Arsal
Naharnet Newsdesk 17 January 2014/A number of people were killed and wounded on Friday in shelling from the Syrian side of the border against the Bekaa border town of Arsal. The National News Agency reported that seven people were killed and 15 wounded in the attack. Five of the victims have been identified as children from the al-Hujairi family, whose ages range from 2 to 11-years-old, added NNA. Another victim has been identified as Hassan Ezzeddine. Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) later said that the death toll from the shelling had risen to eight after a young women died from injuries she had sustained. The town's municipality chief later told VDL (100.5) that four houses received direct hits in the shelling. Several rockets fired from the Lebanese-Syrian border area struck a number of other regions in the Bekaa region on Friday, reported NNA earlier. Rockets landed in the area between al-Qaa's barren mountains and Ras Baalbek near the border with Syria. Al-Jadeed television said that the mortar shells landed near an army position in the area. Other shells hit Sahl al-Ain in north of Bekaa and Bouwaida. The areas of al-Labwe, Zaboud and the outskirts of Hermel were also hit by four rockets. Earlier the news agency said that two rockets hit the villages of al-Qasr and al-Kwakh, which are located in northeast Lebanon's Hermel district. The Army Command later confirmed the shelling in the various regions, adding that a total of 20 rockets and mortar shells were fired from Syria. President Michel Suleiman later condemned the shelling, demanding that the army and military officials take the necessary measures to protect border towns and villages. “Protecting Lebanese regions and people against any assault is a priority,” he added. Moreover, the president warned against the “dangers of getting involved in the Syrian crisis as the Lebanese people are paying a hefty price for it.” He also offered his condolences to the families of the victims of Friday's attacks.
Caretaker Premier Najib Miqati later condemned the Arsal shelling, saying that he had requested that the army take the necessary measures to protect Lebanese territories.
In addition, Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam condemned the attack in a telephone conversation with caretaker Minister Marwan Charbel. Hermel comes under frequent shelling from the Syrian side of the border. On Thursday, a group calling itself Al-Nusra Front in Lebanon said it was responsible for the deadly bombing that targeted Hermel, a bastion of Hizbullah. The Bekaa town of Arsal and others areas in the Bekaa have also been targeted by rockets fired from Syria in recent months and most attacks were claimed by Syrian rebels.Source/Agence France PresseNaharnet.

Report: Army Seizes Detonators from 6 Syrians in Bekaa
Naharnet Newsdesk 17 January 2014/The Lebanese army arrested on Friday several Syrians for the possession of detonators in the eastern Bekaa Valley, Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) reported. VDL quoted sources as saying that the arrest of the six suspects was made during a raid in the central Bekaa town of al-Rafid. Some of the suspects admitted to have entered Lebanon illegally and of being in contact with security and military leaders in the Syrian opposition. The sources refused to divulge more information on the alleged targets of the six Syrians.

Hale in Paris for Talks with Hariri, French Officials on 'Int'l Support for Lebanon'
Naharnet Newsdesk 17 January 2014/U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale traveled to France on Friday morning, the U.S. embassy said in a statement. “While there he is scheduled to meet with Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri as well as French officials,” the embassy added. “The meetings will focus on international support for Lebanon,” it said. An adviser to French President Francois Hollande was in Beirut on Friday for talks with top Lebanese officials on the $3 billion Saudi pledge to buy military equipment for Lebanon from France. Emmanuel Bonne, who is Hollande's adviser on North Africa and the Middle East, arrived on a several day official visit. He will be joined in the next couple of days by Admiral Edouard Guillaud, the chief of the defense staff. Bonne met Friday with Speaker Nabih Berri, Premier-designate Tammam Salam and Phalange party leader Amin Gemayel.The first item on the agenda of their talks is the announcement of Saudi Arabia last month to provide assistance to Lebanon in the form of $3 billion for the Lebanese army to strengthen its capabilities. Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Qahwaji was in Paris last week for talks with top French military officials on the Saudi assistance. Caretaker Premier Najib Miqati has also been informed by his Italian counterpart that Rome will host next month a conference to support the Lebanese army.

Four Men with British Passports Detained in Bekaa
Naharnet Newsdesk 17 January 2014/The Lebanese army detained on Friday four men, holding British passports, between Zahle's industrial district and Terbol road in the central Bekaa, media reports said. The four men entered Lebanon illegally. The National New Agency described the men as extremists. They were allegedly seeking to offer Syrian refugees aid and are residing in Kadri Hotel in Zahle. Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) identified the men as Mohammed Monhaf, Sayyed Nazir, Khalil Batel and Mohammed Norgat. The four men were taken to the army barracks in Ablah for questioning.


Iran speaker says Tehran sacrificing for Hezbollah
January 17, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Iran is making sacrifices for Hezbollah and will support the Lebanese group in the event it is attacked, Tehran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said Friday. "The Islamic Republic is sacrificing itself for Hezbollah,” Fars News Agency quoted Larijani as saying during a ceremony in Tehran. “Certainly, if Hezbollah is attacked, Iran will be its backbone because Hezbollah is the pride of the Islamic world and it broke Israel's back,” he added. Larijani also hit back at the U.S. after Washington criticized Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for placing a wreath on the grave of slain Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh during a recent visit to Lebanon. “They said Zarif shouldn't have visited the graveyard of a commander in a terrorist organization, but on the other hand we saw American officials at the funeral of [former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon, the butcher of Sabra and Shatila [Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut],” he said. He also said that the entire Muslim world respected Mughniyeh and saw him as a symbol of courage.
“If Western officials badmouth Hezbollah and the resistance, they will surely be met with slaps,” Larijani said. Mughniyeh was wanted by the U.S. for terrorist crimes.


Sleiman warns against involvement in Syria crisis
January 17, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman warned Friday of the consequences of Lebanese involvement in the war across the border after deadly rocket attacks from Syria struck Lebanese areas earlier in the day. “Sleiman warned of the far-reaching consequences of involvement in the Syria crisis that now represents a high price that the Lebanese are paying at the levels of coexistence, property and livelihoods,” according to a statement from Baabda Palace. “He urged military and security officials to take all necessary measures to protect Lebanese border villages and towns with Syria which were hit today [Friday] by rockets that led to fatalities and wounded,” the statement added. A rocket attack from Syria on the northeastern Lebanese town of Arsal killed six people, including two children, a Lebanese security source told The Daily Star.
The source said the rocket attack was most likely the result of violent clashes in Lebanon’s neighbor. The rocket attack was one of several to target Lebanese border areas, another security source told The Daily Star. They struck areas including Hermel and Al-Qasr. Sleiman said the protection of Lebanese regions and their populations were a priority “in terms of any attack, regardless of where they are from.” The president has in the past indirectly criticized Hezbollah over the party’s military involvement in Syria and stressed the need for Lebanon to remain neutral from developments in its neighbor. Hezbollah accuses its March 14 coalition rivals of intervening in Syria. The March 14 alliance denies the allegations, stressing that its support to the uprising in Syria is solely on a moral and humanitarian basis. In 2012, rival political leaders endorsed a pact known as the Baabda Declaration that calls for distancing Lebanon from regional crisis, particularly in Syria.


STL prosecution: Badreddine was ‘ghost’ of hit squad
January 17, 2014/By Kareem Shaheen/The Daily Star
THE HAGUE: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon opened its second day of deliberations Friday, with the prosecution further outlining the telecoms evidence it relied on to identify five Hezbollah suspects being tried over the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The team also offered portraits of Abu Adass, the man the prosecution says appeared in a false claim of responsibility for the Feb. 14, 2005 killing, and Mustafa Badreddine, who the prosecution described as a “ghost” and “apex” of the hierarchy of the assassination team. Also Friday, lawyer Peter Haynes introduced all the victims present in the courtroom including Hariri’s son – former Prime Minister and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri - in an emotional and moving description of the damage wrought on their lives by the attack.
The prosecution began the proceedings, attended by seven of the victims, by elaborating on an alleged false claim of responsibility in which a man named Abu Adass took credit for the bombing on behalf of a fictitious group called Nusra and Jihad in Greater Syria. They outlined telecommunications evidence they said showed Oneissi, accused of orchestrating the false claim, in the vicinity of Arab University mosque where Abu Adass regularly prayed, and where he met a man called “Mohammad,” claimed to be Oneissi by the prosecution. The telecoms evidence also shows Oneissi in the vicinity of Abu Adass' home.
Oneissi was also in contact around that time on the “purple network” of telephones with Assad Sabra and Hassan Merhi, two of the other suspects in the case.
The purple network is a group of telephones allegedly used by the group involved in orchestrating the false claim of responsibility.
The network showed activity farther away from Abu Adass' mosque and home coinciding with week-long disappearances by him. The prosecutor also offered a chilling account of the disappearance of Abu Adass, saying he told his family that he would be leaving on the day he disappeared with “Mohammad,” who had prepared a surprise, and would be back later that day to help clean the carpet. He left on Jan. 16, 2005, leaving his belongings and copy of the Koran at home, never to return. A caller telephoned his family the next day, saying Abu Adass was stuck in Tripoli, north Lebanon, after his car broke down and that he would be coming back to “clean the carpet.”
But in a second call, a caller said the car had not broken down and that Abu Adass wanted to go to Iraq and would not be coming back. The prosecution also discussed the purchase of the Mitsubishi Canter van that was loaded with explosives ahead of the attack. The van was set up on display in December 2004 in a car dealership in al Baddawi in Tripoli and purchased on Jan. 25, 2005.
The blue and yellow networks of telephones, which are linked to the purchase of the van ahead of the assassination, were activated in an area north of Tripoli around the time of the purchase, the prosecution said.
During the proceedings, the prosecution also offered a portrait of Abu Adass aimed at disproving the theory he had carried out the killing, with the devastating revelation that he was not even able to drive.
Abu Adass was painted as a frail and simple man, who lacked the confidence and even driving skills to maneuver the manual-transmission, massive Mitsubishi Canter van laden with explosives to the desired spot to kill Hariri.
Someone who knew Abu Adass “very well” had told the prosecution that he was a “simple” man, generous with his money and weak physically, while the delivery of the van at “the right spot at just the right time was the culmination of all those months of preparation” and required a skilled and confident driver in Beirut's busy streets. The prosecution said Abu Adass was most likely dead.
The prosecution sought to explain the fact that none of the suspects in the alleged conspiracy spoke out about the crime and turned against the cell, by saying they shared special bonds of kinship and religion.
All the suspects are Muslim Shiites who lived within a couple of kilometers of each other in south Beirut, the prosecution said.
In addition, Salim Ayyash, another suspect in the case, is married to a relative of Badreddine. “Despite the enormity of the contemplated crime, no one broke ranks and informed after the crime, the most horrendous in Lebanese history,” said senior trial counsel Graham Cameron. They also offered some personal details on the suspects: Ayyash, for instance, worked at several civil defense stations and dealt in cars. Oneissi, who was 30 when the attack happened, is the youngest of 13 children and has three children of his own, and worked as a “self-employed accountant” on a very modest income. Sabra was at some point an Army reservist and house painter and employee of a printing firm. Merhi had five children and has no records of bank accounts for him or his family. But the most intriguing description was of Badreddine, whom the prosecution described as “ghost” and one with at least two identities. He drove an expensive Mercedes automobile and had an apartment in Jounieh, had “several concurrent girlfriends” and was seen regularly in restaurants and cafes socializing with friends, accompanied by armed bodyguards. He had five children from his first marriage and a sixth child from a second wife. Personal records of Badreddine are rare after 2000. He was never issued a passport or driver's license, the prosecutor said, and is not the registered owner of any properties in Lebanon. He has never officially left Lebanon nor does he have any bank accounts and there are no photographs of him at the time of the assassination.
He was “fastidious in avoiding having his picture taken.” “This was well-funded, well-organized and meticulously planned over a long period of time,” said Cameron, who described Badreddine as the “apex” of the assassination cell. “Badreddine passes as an unrecognizable and untraceable ghost throughout Lebanon, leaving no footprint as he passes,” said Cameron. Haynes, for his part, said the victims were part of a “large breadth” of sect, religion and background. He also reiterated the independence of the victims' team. "We are not the prosecution's deputy,” he said. “We are not the Hariri family's lawyers."
Haynes introduced victims whose families bore the scars of psychological distress after the attack.
One victim suffered amnesia in the attack and lost her sense of taste and smell. Another victim survived three bombings in Lebanon and jokes that her luck will run out, said Haynes.
The wife of one of the victims of the attack was five-months pregnant and her son now asks about his father, he said.
The wife of Abdel-Hamid Ghalayeeni was also present, a man who was jogging near the St. Georges Hotel when the bombing destroyed him.
Haynes also introduced Saad Hariri, saying he was here as a “son who lost his father,” not as a politician or former head of state.The victims of the attack had suffered a sense of “hopelessness” and a keen frustration at the political process, and the trial would aim to provide closure to the victims.“That is why we are here,” said Haynes.

Second Day STL Trial of 4 Suspects Details Hours before, After Hariri's Assassination
Naharnet Newsdesk 17 January 2014/The Special Tribunal for Lebanon held a second day of deliberations on Friday in the trial of four Hizbullah suspects in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's Feb. 14, 2005 assassination. The STL held its first in absentia hearing at the Hague on Thursday. The suspects were absent as they have not been arrested. Hizbullah denies involvement in the murder and the group's leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has denounced the court as a conspiracy by his archenemies — the U.S. and Israel. The four suspects are Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Assad Sabra and Hassan Oneissi. A fifth Hizbullah member, Hassan Habib Merhi, was indicted later than the other four suspects and is not currently on trial. The prosecution's case is made up of evidence including large amounts of data from mobile phones allegedly used by the plotters to plan and execute the suicide car bombing on the Beirut seafront. Evidence showed that several phone users closely monitored Hariri in several areas in the last few days before his assassination. From the time Hariri emerged from parliament on Feb. 14 at noon, six co-conspirators were moving in and around parliament and between the parliament and the crime scene and at the crime scene, it said. Ayyash called Badreddine using the Green Network. He connected with a cell site at the crime scene while Badreddine was in Beirut's southern suburbs. This was the last time the phones were used. The prosecution also said that the northern city of Tripoli was chosen as a location to buy the Mitsubishi van that was loaded with the explosives because it is 84 kilometers away from Beirut and is majority Sunni. So is Abou Adas who made the false claim of responsibility for the attack through a tape broadcast on al-Jazeera.“This is aimed at keeping a false trail,” it said. Merhi, Sabra and Oneissi were responsible for the calls to Reuters and al-Jazeera on the claim, the prosecution told the court. The upper level of the hierarchy of the operation to kill Hariri included Badreddine, Ayyash and Merhi for whom others worked, it said. The prosecution expected evidence to show there was a family bond between Ayyash and Badreddine. Plus, all suspects lived close to one another. This type of operation, sophisticated as it was, required a division of responsibilities led by Badreddine, it said. He directed Ayyash and Merhi, while Ayyash was responsible for the command of the surveillance team, it added.

STL Prosecution Shows Confidence as Trial Chamber Foils Defense's Attempt at Procrastination
Naharnet Newsdesk 16 January 2014/ The Hague - Naharnet Exclusive
From the very first minutes of the opening session of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon trials in The Hague, the strategies of the court's competing organs became evident.
As soon as Trial Chamber Presiding Judge David Re announced that the first three days will be dedicated to the demonstration that will be presented by the Prosecution and will be followed by an intervention from the victims' representatives and another from the Defense, head of Defense Office Francois Roux requested to make a statement, in what resembled an interruption of Prosecutor Norman Farrell's presentation.
Roux asked Judge Re to allow him to make an intervention pertaining to the procedural aspect, noting that the Lebanese penal code, which is endorsed by the STL, permits the filing of preliminary pleadings related to procedural matters.Prominent legal sources pointed out that Roux's decision to resort to the tactic known as “preliminary pleadings” in the Lebanese judicial system reflected the strategy that will be implemented by the Defense, which is based on procrastination, postponement and delaying the tribunal's procedures. Judge Re's reaction was decisive as he stated that the procedural issues were sufficiently discussed throughout long pre-trial sessions that were held over the past few months. He noted that he had already declared that the first presentation would be made by the Prosecution, which will be followed by that of the victims' representatives and then the Defense.
Re added that the Defense would then be able to say whatever it wants, be it related to form or to content. The legal sources who are following up on the work of the STL said Re's decisive response to the Defense's strategy was indicative of the court judges' own plan of action, which is based on firmness and resoluteness in carrying on with the trials according to the decided measures, in a bid to unveil the truth away from all forms of procrastination, delay and betting on time, things that would harm the court's credibility and the seriousness of its work. As for the Prosecution's strategy, it turned out from the first day that is based on "self-confidence," the thing that was expressed by Prosecutor Norman Farrell and his team, who distributed roles among each other and took turns during the demonstration, each according to his competence. Farrell was responsible for exhibiting details pertaining to the indictment and the accused while his assistant Alexander Milne continued the presentation in its part that is related to evidence and criminal reports. Their fellow Prosecution counsel Graeme Cameron then took center stage in an exhaustive demonstration of the details of the telecom data evidence. Simple indications showed the Prosecution's determination to abide by the deadlines. In response to a question from the tribunal's president, the Prosecution demanded that the Friday session begin at 9:30 a.m. instead of 10:00 a.m. so that it can finish its presentation according to the timeframe set by the court. Also on Friday, the representatives of the victims will begin their interventions and the sessions dedicated to demonstrating the case will end on Tuesday ahead of hearing the testimonies of the Prosecution's witnesses starting Wednesday

Prosecution Unveils Route Taken by Booby-Trapped Truck to Reach St. Georges
Naharnet Newsdesk 16 January 2014/The Hague - Naharnet Exclusive
The opening session of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon trials witnessed a recollection of the bloody scenes of February 14, 2005, as the incidents of that day were demonstrated through pictures, videos and the oversized maquette of the crime scene which was placed in the middle of the courtroom. These scenes evoked feelings of sadness and grief among the families of the victims and culminated to anger against the perpetrators of the crime. Some of the relatives sat inside the courtroom, led by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who seemed to be fastened to his seat for long hours as if he was not believing what his eyes were seeing.
The wife of one of the February 14 victims said the Prosecution's demonstration introduced her to previously unheard-of details about her husband's martyrdom. Although the Prosecution did not exhibit during the first day anything other than the details of the indictment that was announced several months ago, observers who attended the session stopped at a number of new elements that the Prosecution had never mentioned in the past and which he is expected to thoroughly address as the trials move forward. The new elements that were revealed during the opening session can be summarized as follows:
1. The information about the “green” mobile phone network which was used for months by a group involved in the assassination of ex-PM Rafik Hariri: It turned out that the mobile phone lines were postpaid rather than prepaid and were purchased using nine fake identification papers – one ID for each two lines.
One person was tasked with paying the bills at the main headquarters of the Alfa mobile phone operator in Furn al-Shebbak for a long period of time. It was noteworthy during the Prosecution's demonstration the information that five of these lines were permanently terminated on October 1, 2004 – the day of the attempt on MP Marwan Hamadeh's life. This fact could become the basis of linking the Hamadeh case to Hariri's case at the judicial level.
2. For the first time ever, the Prosecution announces that the telecom data evidence is backed up by other pieces of evidence that have nothing to do with the so-called “co-location.” The Prosecution also hinted that the content of some SMSes that are in its possession would clarify the identities of the users of some mobile phone lines that were used in the crime.
3. The Prosecution did not settle for the evidence of co-location between mobile phone lines to defend its accusations. It demonstrated two other points that are of the same importance: the first tackled the political stances and decisions that prompted the criminals to launch the process of monitoring Hariri's activities as well as the elements that led to intensifying the surveillance actions, while the second point addressed the movements of ex-PM Hariri and his shuttling between his Qureitem residence, the presidential palace in Baabda, the parliament building in downtown Beirut, the Beirut airport and his house in Faqra, Kesrouan.
4. For the first time ever, the Prosecution reveals that it has documented information about the routes that are relatively far from the crime scene that were taken by the booby-trapped Mitsubishi truck. All the previous available footage showed the truck as it approached the Phoenicia Hotel. But the videos exhibited by the Prosecution on Thursday included footage taken from cameras that captured the entry and exit of the truck to and from the Suleiman Franjieh Tunnel, which can only be accessed from three routes: the Salim Salam-Zoqaq al-Blat tunnel, Beshara al-Khoury and Ashrafiyeh. This presentation could be the prelude to new videos that would show how the truck came from locations that are beyond the Suleiman Franjieh Tunnel. Specialists in criminal cases are saying that the Prosecution could not have demonstrated all the evidence it has in the indictment it issued months ago or in the presentation it made during the opening session of the trials. They are also saying that according to the history of criminal trials, it is safe to say that what's awaiting the accused is a lot more than what has already been announced until the moment, and that the Prosecution possesses undisclosed information that surpass anything imagined by those who are questioning the STL and its capabilities.

Swift Hints by Prosecution to Open Door for Potential Surprises during Trials
Naharnet Newsdesk 17 January 2014/The Hague - Naharnet Feature
It will be difficult on Hizbullah and its supporters to go on with the theory that Israel violated the telephone networks in Lebanon in an attempt to alter the data and point the accusation in the murder of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri away from the party's members and its prominent leaders after the extensive demonstration by Prosecution counsel Graeme Cameron during the opening session of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon trials in The Hague.
The issue isn't linked to one cellular phone or a particular number of them but with the networks of tens of phone, which the prosecution proved were moving according to a specific mechanism in specified geographical areas and specific protocols to ensure the secrecy of the movement. Although the team of the prosecution rejects to talk to the media and reveal the remaining information, observers close to the investigation and the indictment pointed out that Hizbullah is seeking to admit that the party's ranks were breached en-mass, which allowed Israel to detect the secret numbers used by tens of its prominent and security members and modified the data afterward to prove the theory of spatial correlation, which was proved by the prosecution. The observers wonder if Hizbullah's theory concerning the Israeli breach of the Lebanese telecom networks was true then what would those who are defending the party justify the political association between the data of tailing Hariri and his notable stances that his enemies, in Lebanon and their allies in the region, didn't favor. Did Israel alter the reality of the political course that Lebanon passed through in 2004 and 2005? The observers continue that the prosecution identified the owners of the phone numbers through various methods including submitting their numbers in bank transactions, administration records, vehicles registration papers and even through phone calls with “girlfriends” and old companions.
Despite the extensive explanation during the opening session regarding the phone calls, observers noticed that the prosecution focused on several other indications that it will endorse throughout the trials, most significant:
1- The type of explosives used in assassinating Hariri and his companions. After reports said that C4 was used in the bombing, the prosecution stressed that the matter used was explosive material RDX. Which poses a question whether this kind of material would point the accusation finger towards a specific side based on the fact that it has ties with those who are manufacturing this type of explosives or own it?
2- A number of suspect that haven't been revealed yet, which the prosecution is calling them by numbers, used more than one cellular phone that were used plotting the crime, which indicates that “leadership” sides owned a phone that managed each of the networks and direct them. The matter requires the usage of one cellphone for each network by a “leader” to contact its group without making the five networks overlap.
3- The counterfeit report that claimed responsibility for the crime would allow opening new testimonies in the investigation file linked to phone calls received by several media outlets from a prominent security official to demand the broadcasting of the video recording that showed “Abu Adas” claiming responsibility for the assassination. 4- Linking between trailing of Hariri and his stances and specific decisions taken by him indicates that there was a political decision to assassinate him, prompting the groups that tracked him to implement the decision. The implicit reference by the prosecution could open wide doors in the upcoming stages that aim at identifying the side that issued the assassination order that will lead, if they were successful, to transferring the responsibility to the “president,” who in turn is responsible for the actions of his followers.

Confrontation as Journalist Asks Al-Sayyed 'Don't You Fear Returning to The Hague as Suspect?'
Naharnet Newsdesk 16 January 2014/The Hague - Naharnet Feature /Former General Security chief Jamil al-Sayyed did not succeed in attaining the goals he had set by attending the opening sessions of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is probing the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri. Al-Sayyed appeared to be isolated in the gallery where politicians and journalists were seated to follow-up on the trial's work, except for the lawyer of Hassan Merhi, the fifth suspect in Hariri's assassination. The attendees remarked that al-Sayyed left the gallery for over an hour during Thursday morning's session and did not return to the courtroom in the afternoon.
The former General Security chief, however, commented on former Prime Minister Saad Hariri's statement on the STL's first session. A reporter tried to provoke al-Sayyed by asking about his impression while watching the images of the explosion that killed Hariri. "I did not feel a thing,” he responded. “A person who gets imprisoned for four years can no longer be affected by such images.” "What about those that wear jailed for 11 years?”, the reporter then asked, referring to Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea. "It depends on what they have committed,” al-Sayyed replied. The journalist, who is known for her support to Geagea, continued asking al-Sayyed: “Don't you worry about returning back to The Hague as a suspect in Hariri's assassination?” He said: “Maybe it would be better. Then, I would be able to face the trial as an insider.”“You know that I never give up my rights,” he added. “And if Geagea has something to say in the trials he had gone through, he only has to ask for reopening all cases in which he was tried. And I am here to confront the STL and to demand reopening the case of the false witnesses whose testifications caused my imprisonment,” al-Sayyed explained. "Let Geagea do what I am here to do today if he was really unfairly tried.”The dialogue between al-Sayyed and the reporter was not interview, but more of a skirmish that was heard by many attendees of the STL's opening session and was commented on during the break.


French Envoys in Beirut over $3 Billion Saudi Military Aid Pledge
Naharnet Newsdesk 17 January 2014/An advisor to French President Francois Hollande was in Beirut on Friday for talks with top Lebanese officials on the $3 billion Saudi pledge to buy military equipment for Lebanon from France. Emmanuel Bonne, who is Hollande's adviser on North Africa and the Middle East, arrived on a several day official visit. He will be joined in the next couple of days by Admiral Edouard Guillaud, the chief of the defense staff. Bonne met on Friday with Speaker Nabih Berri, Premier-designate Tammam Salam and Phalange party leader Amin Gemayel. The first item on the agenda of their talks is the announcement of Saudi Arabia last month to provide assistance to Lebanon in the form of $3 billion for the Lebanese army to strengthen its capabilities.Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Qahwaji was in Paris last week for talks with top French military officials on the Saudi assistance. Caretaker Premier Najib Miqati has also been informed by his Italian counterpart that Rome will host next month a conference to support the Lebanese army.

Saniora Hails Cabinet Consultations Progress, Says Ministerial Statement Remains Obstacle
by Naharnet Newsdesk 17 January 2014/Head of al-Mustaqbal Parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Saniora stressed that contacts are ongoing with the March 8 alliance over the cabinet formation process, noting that the remaining obstacle is the cabinet's ministerial statement. Saniora expressed optimism, in comments published in al-Liwaa newspaper on Friday, over the progress of negotiations with the rival coalition. The government formation process has witnessed an intensified a political activity in an attempt to end the standstill since Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam was appointed in April. Saniora said that the March 14 coalition is in constant communication to safeguard its unity and coherence between its parties. The March 14 official pointed out that the only matter hindering any agreement with the March 8 alliance is the cabinet's policy statement. The March 8 alliance and mainly Speaker Nabih Berri have called for keeping discussions on the policy statement until after the formation of the cabinet. He has also stuck to the army-people-resistance formula. But the March 14 camp, which is holding on to a deal with its rivals on several of the government's aspects, has insisted on having the Baabda Declaration as the basis of the policy statement. The cabinet formation process was put on the front burner after Speaker Nabih Berri proposed a revised 8-8-8 government formula and President Suleiman said he would form a so-called neutral cabinet if the political rivals don't agree on an all-embracing government within ten days. Amid the Lebanese Forces' rejection of Hizbullah's participation in the cabinet, the March 14 camp has reportedly accepted the 8-8-8 formula in principle, but it is awaiting answers pertaining to the ministerial policy statement and the rotation of portfolios among political parties. The 8-8-8 formula divides ministers equally between the centrists and March 14 and 8 alliances, in which each get eight ministers with “decisive ministers” for the March 14 and 8 coalitions.


Actress Amalia Abi Saleh Dies after Battle with Illness
Naharnet Newsdesk 17 January 2014/Lebanese actress and comedian Amalia Abi Saleh, who was in a coma after a long battle with illness, died at dawn at Bahman hospital in Beirut. She was 68. In June last year, several hospitals refused to admit cash-strapped Abi Saleh for lacking social security. She was suffering from a respiratory tract infection. Her case became known only after fellow actress Lilian al-Nemri posted a Facebook message calling for those concerned to interfere and help Abi Saleh after her health deteriorated. She is known for her roles in several of Ziad Rahbani’s plays and also for starring in the “Al-Moallima Wal Ustaz” series back in the 1980s. The facebook plea worked after thousands of shares on the social networking site. Nemri later updated her post thanking caretaker Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil into agreeing on her hospitalization to get the proper treatment.

Iran has $100 billion abroad, can draw $4.2 billion: U.S. official
By Fredrik Dahl/VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has about $100 billion in foreign exchange assets around the world, of which it will be able to access $4.2 billion under last year's nuclear agreement with six world powers, a senior U.S. administration official said on Friday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the money and assets were held in various countries and that a significant proportion was Iran's oil revenue. Financial and other sanctions have meant Tehran has not had free access to spend it. The governor of Iran's central bank said in mid-2012 it had built up $150 billion in foreign reserves to protect itself against tightening punitive measures on the country. Under the November 24, six-month accord between Iran and the major powers, Tehran will receive limited sanctions relief, which the U.S. estimates to be worth about $7 billion, in return for curbing its disputed nuclear program.Of this amount, $4.2 billion is in the form of access to currently blocked Iranian revenue held abroad. The U.S. official said Iran would identify from where it wants to take the funds and that Western authorities would facilitate their transfer in a series of installments during the next half year, depending on the Islamic Republic carrying out its part of the deal. The White House also referred to the $100 billion figure in a summary it released on Thursday of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany. The value of the sanctions relief was a "small fraction" of this amount of Iranian foreign exchange holdings that will continue to be blocked or restricted, it said. The interim accord - meant to buy time for negotiations on a final settlement of the decade-old nuclear dispute - also pauses Western efforts to cut further Iran's oil exports, which Washington says have plunged by around 60 percent to 1 million barrels per day since early 2012. The U.S. official made clear that the volume would not increase if the oil price were to fall during the six-month agreement, the implementation of which is due to start on Monday. Japan, South Korea, China, India, Taiwan, and Turkey are still importing Iranian oil, and the official said that if another country started purchasing crude from Tehran it would likely violate U.S. law.
The administration official also underlined the U.S. view that businesses should not rush to return to Iran, saying the sanctions relief under the Geneva agreement was both limited and reversible.
European companies are sizing up the potential of an end to the economic isolation of Iran, attracted by an urgent need to overhaul its creaking infrastructure, a young population of 76 million and major oil and gas reserves.
Reuters reported this week that Belgian chemical firm Tessenderlo will ship fertilizer to Iran within weeks as the easing of Western financial sanctions has helped Tehran complete its first potash tender purchase in two years.
Sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies over Iran's controversial nuclear program did not ban the supplying of fertilizer to the country. But measures that have isolated Tehran from most of the global banking system have significantly limited its trading, shipping and payments over the past two years. The administration official said it would not be good business to begin re-engaging with Iran now, because sanctions still made it very difficult to carry out transactions with the country and receive or make payments. Iran rejects Western allegations that it has been seeking to develop the capability to make nuclear bombs. But last year's election of a relative moderate, Hassan Rouhani, as Iranian president paved the way for a diplomatic thaw with the West, which led to the Geneva accord.(editing by Jane Baird and David Evans).


Syria says it is ready for cease-fire in Aleppo, prisoners exchange ahead of conference
By Zeina Karam And Laura Mills, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press –
BEIRUT - Syria's foreign minister said Friday his country is prepared to implement a cease-fire in the war-torn city of Aleppo and exchange detainees with the country's opposition forces as a confidence building measure ahead of a peace conference opening next week in Switzerland.
Walid al-Moallem told journalists about the cease-fire plan after meeting in Moscow with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. He did not divulge details of the plan, which would contain "measures to enforce security" in Aleppo, 310 kilometre (190 miles) from the Syrian capital, Damascus.
The announcement came as heavy battles raged between Syrian government forces and rebels near the border with Lebanon on Friday.
A barrage of almost two dozen missiles and shells from Syria slammed into Lebanese border towns and villages, killing seven people, including several children who were out playing, Lebanese security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorize to talk to media.
The attack was the latest incident in what has been an increasing spillover of Syria's civil war into Lebanon, where violence from rockets, car bombs and sectarian clashes has claimed dozens of lives in the past year.
The meeting between Russian and Syrian sides was part of a final diplomatic push ahead of a peace conference dubbed Geneva 2, which opens on Wednesday in Montreux, Switzerland.
But prospects for the talks — the first between the warring sides in Syria since the start of the conflict — are dim as each party shows no inclination for compromise.
Syria's main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, is meeting in Istanbul Friday to decide whether to participate in the peace talks.
The opposition group has remained adamant that the ouster of Assad is a condition for any deal, and al-Moallem's overtures in Moscow appeared to be an attempt to coax the group into attending the talks.
"As a result of our confidence in the Russian position and its role in stopping the Syrian bloodshed, today I submitted to Minister Lavrov a plan for security arrangements that have to do with the city of Aleppo," said al-Moallem. "I asked him to make necessary arrangements to guarantee its implementation and specify the zero hour for military operations to cease."
Al-Moallem said that if Lavrov's efforts were successful, the cease-fire plan could be used as a model for other parts of the country, where the conflict between Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and opposition forces has claimed over 130,000 lives since March 2011.
Al-Moallem also said his government has agreed "in principle" to release prisoners from Syrian jails in exchange for people kidnapped by armed groups, but he said there needs to be an exchange of lists and a mechanism for implementation.
Both a cease-fire and prisoners exchange have been a key demand of the opposition ahead of the planned talks. But it was unclear whether al-Moallem's announcement would help sway the opposition meeting in Istanbul, which is deeply skeptical of any government overtures.
On Thursday, Lavrov also met with the foreign minister of Iran, Syria's staunchest regional backer. Lavrov strongly urged the West to invite Tehran to participate in next week's peace conference.
In Lebanon, seven people, including at least three children who were out playing, were killed when a barrage of 20 rockets from Syrian slammed into Lebanese border towns and villages.
Most of Friday's casualties occurred in the town of Arsal, where thousands of Syrians have fled to escape their country's civil war over the past months. The state-run news agency said the attacks also wounded 15 people.
It was not immediately clear who fired the rockets, which struck several towns and villages in the northern Bekaa Valley, including Baalbek, Hermel and Arsal. A security official in the area said it was not known whether it was errant shells or deliberate firing. There was a total of 20 impacts, he said.
Residents in the area said heavy fighting between Syrian troops and rebels has been taking place on the Syrian side of the border since Thursday. Loud explosions could be heard from across the border and smoke billowed from the Syrian side.
On Thursday, a car bomb struck the centre of the predominantly Shiite town of Hermel, which is about 10 miles (16 kilometres) from the Syrian border and a stronghold of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group. At least three people were killed and more than 20 wounded in that attack.Mills reported from Moscow.

Syria hands Aleppo ceasefire plan to Russia, wants prisoner swap
By Thomas Grove | Reuters – By Thomas Grove
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Friday he had handed Russia plans for a ceasefire with rebel forces in Syria's biggest city, Aleppo, and was ready to exchange lists on a possible prisoner swap. Washington and Moscow have been trying to negotiate some confidence-building measures between the warring sides and allow humanitarian aid to flow to areas worst hit in the nearly three-year-old civil war.
"I count on the success of this plan if all sides carry out their obligations," Moualem told a joint news conference in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before a planned peace conference on Syria in Switzerland next week. "We would like this to serve as an example to other towns," Moualem said of the plan for Aleppo, he said. He and Lavrov underlined the closeness of their countries' views on the peace conference in Montreux starting on January 22. Russia is Syria's most powerful international protector and arms supplier Lavrov held talks on Thursday with Moualem and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and called for Iran to be represented at the conference, but Lavrov said their meeting was not part of a "hidden agenda". Sitting beside Moualem, Lavrov criticized factions in the Syrian opposition that have yet to decide whether to take part in the peace conference. "It worries us very much that some kind of game is being played," he said. The centrist opposition National Coordination Body announced its decision not to attend, while the main umbrella opposition body in exile, known as the National Coalition, is due to decide on Friday. Hope for a small-scale temporary ceasefire, however, has been boosted by promises from Syrian rebels backed by Washington that if the government commits to such a partial ceasefire, they would abide by it, Washington has said. Given the history of failed attempts to end the war, which has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions, it remains far from clear that even a partial ceasefire can be achieved or, if it is, can hold for long. It also seems unlikely to be honored by powerful militant Islamist rebel factions, some of whom are at war with both Damascus and other rebel groups backed by the West and Gulf states. Moualem said Damascus had also put together a list of prisoners and was ready to take part in a prisoner exchange. (Editing by Will Waterman)


Syria's FM Muallem Says His Country is Ready for Prisoner Swap with Rebels
Naharnet Newsdesk 17 January 2014/Syria said on Friday it was ready to swap prisoners with the rebels and would take swift steps that could lead to the first such mass exchange in nearly three years of fighting. The announcement by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem in Moscow could mark another diplomatic success for Russia after the Kremlin managed to convince its ally Damascus to renounce its chemical weapons in order to avert imminent U.S. air strikes. It also came just as the war-torn country's divided opposition prepared to hold decisive talks in Istanbul on whether to join a peace conference that is due to begin on Wednesday in Switzerland. Muallem failed to specify how many prisoners such a swap would involve or when it might begin. But it would represent a concession to one of the opposition's key demands before it agreed to peace talks.
"I informed (Russian Foreign Minister Sergei) Lavrov of our principled position in favour of an agreement to exchange those held in Syrian prisons for those taken by the other side," Muallem said following talks with his Russian counterpart in a government mansion in the heart of Moscow. "We are ready to exchange lists and develop the necessary mechanism for accomplishing these goals," Muallem said in remarks translated from Arabic into Russian.
Muallem also confirmed his government's plans to send a senior delegation to the Swiss lakeside city of Montreux where the long-delayed peace conference -- the first since June 2012 -- is due to begin. Syria "will take part in Geneva II and make every effort to ensure this event is a success and meets the aspirations of the Syrian people and the direct orders of President Bashar Assad," said Muallem.
He added that Assad will send his representatives to Switzerland "irrespective of the situation around the participation or the non-participation of the National Coalition at this conference."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday also called the umbrella rebel group not to boycott the talks because they represented "the best opportunity for the opposition to achieve the goals of the Syrian people and the revolution." Plans for the peace conference were first announced in May by Kerry and Lavrov in Moscow amid indications that the war that has now claimed 130,000 lives had reached a stalemate.
But more recent government advances have put the rebels at a disadvantage at any negotiations. They have also been increasingly riven by rivalries between jihadists and more mainstream Islamists -- as well as among groups with allegiance to Saudi Arabia and those getting military and financial backing from Qatar. Russia meanwhile has been on the diplomatic ascendent ever since managing to avert seemingly inevitable U.S. strikes against Assad's forces in September by forcing the regime to renounce its chemical arms. Lavrov and Kerry this week also issued a joint call for Syria's regime and the rebels to agree to ceasefires in parts of their battle-scarred country that could begin in the devastated northern city of Aleppo. Muallem did not address the ceasefire call directly but said he had handed Lavrov "a plan concerning measures for ensuring security in Aleppo."
Lavrov said Muallem had informed him of Assad's readiness "to take a series of humanitarian steps" that would lead to the speedy delivery of assistance to those suffering from the 34-month civil war.
"This concerns specific proposals that are already being implemented concerning the delivery of humanitarian supplies to settlements in the Eastern Ghuta region and other areas, including the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo," Lavrov said.Source/Agence France Presse.


Exclusive: Russia steps up military lifeline to Syria's Assad - sources
LONDON (Reuters) - In recent weeks Russia has stepped up supplies of military gear to Syria, including armored vehicles, drones and guided bombs, boosting President Bashar al-Assad just as rebel infighting has weakened the insurgency against him, sources with knowledge of the deliveries say. Moscow, which is trying to raise its diplomatic and economic influence in the Middle East, has been a major provider of conventional weapons to Syria, giving Assad crucial support during the three-year civil war and blocking wider Western attempts to punish him with sanctions for the use of force against civilians. The new Russian supplies come at a critically fluid stage of the conflict, with peace talks scheduled for next week in Switzerland, the factious opposition losing ground, and Western support for the rebellion growing increasingly wary of the role played by foreign militants. Syria has even said some countries formally opposed to Assad have begun discussing security cooperation with his government. Several sources told Reuters that Assad's forces had since December received deliveries of weaponry and other military supplies, including unmanned spy drones known as UAVs, which have been arranged by Russia either directly or via proxies.
"Dozens of Antonov 124s (Russian transport planes) have been bringing in armored vehicles, surveillance equipment, radars, electronic warfare systems, spare parts for helicopters, and various weapons including guided bombs for planes," a Middle East security source said. "Russian advisers and intelligence experts have been running observation UAVs around the clock to help Syrian forces track rebel positions, analyze their capabilities, and carry out precision artillery and air force strikes against them," said the source, who declined to be identified.
Vyacheslav Davidenko, spokesman for Russia's arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport, said they could not comment on arms deliveries to Syria.
Russia has said it violates no international laws with its military supplies to Syria and does not sell Damascus offensive weapons.
Syrian officials could not be reached for comment.
A source within the international arms industry with knowledge of Middle Eastern weapons movements also confirmed a pick-up in supplies to Assad's forces, including UAVs.
"Equipment has been moving into Syria, and Russia is either bringing it in themselves or sourcing supplies from Black Sea areas like Bulgaria, Romania or Ukraine, where there is surplus stock floating around," the source said. "Suppliers in that region cannot afford to upset the Russians." Arms trackers say Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine all have stockpiles of Russian-styled light arms that were produced in the countries dating back to the Soviet era, when factories were set up with help from Moscow. A Bulgarian foreign ministry spokesman said Bulgaria's intergovernmental council, which oversees arms trades, had not issued any certificates for arms deals destined for Syria. "We have data that shows that Bulgaria has not authorized any arms sales to Syria," he said. Former foreign minister Solomon Passy said it was "very unlikely" that Bulgaria, as a NATO and EU member, would be involved in such shipments. A Ukraine foreign ministry spokesman said the former Soviet republic had already denied allegations of arms supplies and transfers last year when it said Kiev had voluntarily and completely stopped military and technical cooperation with Syria since May 2011. Romania's foreign ministry said its export control department had not registered or authorized any foreign trade operations involving military products, including light weapons, with Syria during 2013 or 2014. The arms industry source said: "Stuff is definitely coming into Syria, and Russia realizes they have to keep Assad in power if they want to keep a hold of what they have there, especially with oil and gas reserves up for grabs." Russian oil and gas company Soyuzneftegas signed a $90 million deal with Syria's oil ministry in December for oil exploration and production in a 2,190 square kilometers (845 square miles) bloc of Mediterranean waters off the Syrian coast between Tartous and Banias. Syrian oil officials say they are confident their waters hold significant oil or gas reserves, pointing to substantial discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean off Israel and Cyprus and promising surveys carried out in the waters of Lebanon. Moscow says its Middle East diplomacy is based on standing up for the principles of international law and upholding the role of the United Nations. The situation also offers Russia an opportunity to show it still has weight on the world stage and to win potentially lucrative contracts once the fighting is over in Syria and the dispute over Iran's nuclear program ends. Russia is particularly keen to establish and keep a foothold in the Middle East through Syria and Iran because it lost out during the Arab Spring revolutions, particularly in Libya, where it had backed Muammar Gaddafi. Reuters last week revealed that Russia is negotiating with Iran an oil-for-goods swap worth $1.5 billion a month that threatens to undermine sanctions that helped persuade Tehran to agree a preliminary deal to curb its nuclear program.
Tom Wallace, of U.S. based non-profit conflict research group C4ADS, said: "Assad absolutely needs to keep refreshing his supplies. People's mind most obviously goes to bullets, but they underestimate what an incredibly heavy logistical burden a modern mechanized military really is. "Tank treads, helicopter blades, jet fuel, ball-bearings, gyroscopes - virtually every component of every piece of equipment can and will break down without maintenance and/or replacement." James Bevan of Conflict Armament Research, who tracks weapons for governments and other organizations, said Syria's munitions use had been high for over two years.
"Further evidence of that is that they have been using barrel bombs dropped out of helicopters, which may suggest that they are running low on air-launched or air-delivered munitions," he said.
Britain has accused Syria's government of committing "yet another war crime" by spraying civilian areas with barrel bombs - oil drums or cylinders that are packed with explosives and metal fragments and dropped from aircraft.
A Syrian opposition source said some supplies had been delivered to Syria's Latakia airport around three weeks ago, with further equipment reaching through the country's major cargo ports in Tartous and Latakia.
The source said the port of Tartous, which is also the location of Russia's naval base, had been sealed off for several hours over three to four weeks ago. "During the time, non-authorized personnel were not allowed to enter, and it is a sure sign a delivery came through. This happens from time to time when supplies come in, usually at night." The Middle East security source added: "Given the risk of rebel attack on arms depots and landing strips at Syrian air bases, Russia has also been shipping large amounts of small arms and munitions to Tartous and Latakia, allowing Assad's forces to keep fighting apace." C4ADS's Wallace said past shipments of Russian military cargo had also come by both air and sea. "Lighter, less sturdy equipment often is loaded onto a plane, whereas large and heavy shipments typically are loaded onto a ship of some kind," he said. "Wheeled vehicles would need to be transported on a roll-on, roll-off ramped ship, but most smaller stuff could be containerized and loaded onto a standard cargo ship," said Wallace, who co-authored a recent report into arms transfers from Russia and Ukraine. (For a link:
(Additional reporting by Timothy Heritage and Thomas Grove in Moscow, Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia, Pavel Polityuk in Kiev, Radu Marinas in Bucharest, and Dominic Evans in Beirut; Editing by Will Waterman)

Canadian man killed last August in Syrian conflict: Report
By The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press –TORONTO - A Canadian man was reportedly killed last August while taking part in the conflict in Syria. According to CBC News, Andre Poulin of Timmins, Ont., had changed his name to Abu Muslim and arrived in Syria in late 2012.The report says he died during an attack carried out by jihadis on a government-controlled airport in the country's north. The network says the young man’s body was found and buried by other jihadis and that he left behind a wife and young child in Syria. Earlier this week, Mustafa al-Gharib, a 22-year-old born in Nova Scotia as Damian Clairmont, reportedly died in heavy fighting in the city of Aleppo. He was apparently killed by Free Syrian Army forces as fighters opposed to the regime of President Bashar Assad turned on each other in bloody infighting. During a visit to Washington, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said his officials were aware of the reports of al-Gharib's death, and suggested he may be just one among many Canadians fighting overseas.

Canada Welcomes Opening Trial at Special Tribunal for Lebanon

January 16, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:
“Canada welcomes the opening of the first trial at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. This is an important step toward bringing those responsible for the political assassinations of former prime minister Rafik Hariri and others to account.
“Canada remains a committed partner in the global struggle against terrorism in all its forms. We have been a strong supporter of this tribunal.
“Canada is grateful for the Lebanese government’s support of and cooperation with the Tribunal, and we will continue to work with the government to strengthen democracy, the rule of law and security in Lebanon and the region.”
Canada listed Hezbollah as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code in December 2002 and listed its principal backer, Iran, as a state supporter of terrorism under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act in September 2012.
A backgrounder follows.
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Backgrounder - Canada and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) was established in March 2009 under UN Security Council Resolution 1757 to investigate the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and 21 other people. The STL has indicted five suspects; all are members of Hezbollah, including one who is believed to be the commander of the organization’s military wing. Despite facing considerable opposition from Hezbollah and its allies, trials started on January 16, 2014.
The Government of Canada has contributed more than $6.5 million to the STL through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada’s Global Peace and Security Fund and in secondments of police officers. Canada also serves as vice-chair of the STL’s Management Committee, which provides administrative and budgetary oversight to the Tribunal. Former deputy attorney-general of Canada Daniel Bellemare was the STL’s first prosecutor. He was succeeded in 2012 by fellow Canadian Norman Farrell.


Death of Canadian in UK immigration custody sparks public debate
By The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press /LONDON, England - A death of an elderly man identified as a Canadian who died in handcuffs in British custody has sparked questions about the treatment of immigration detainees. The death of the man is getting considerable attention in British media, and several outlets have identified him as a Canadian named Alois Dvorzac. The case has prompted an investigation by Britain's prisons and probation ombudsman. The British newspaper The Telegraph quotes Britain's Chief Inspector of Prisons as saying Dvorzac was one of several cases where the use of restraints was "grossly excessive."
Nick Hardwick said the 84-year-old man was restrained in handcuffs for five hours before his death in February, 2013. The Telegraph says Hardwick's report indicates the cuffs were only taken off after Dvorzac suffered cardiac arrest and medics were called in. According to the Telegraph, Dvorzac had been refused entry to the UK and after a hospital stay in which a doctor described him as frail and declared him unfit for detention.
The newspaper said an attempt to deport Dvorzac had been postponed when he was declared medically unfit to fly. He was sent to the privately-run Harmondsworth immigration detention centre in west London where he was held in handcuffs. The Guardian newspaper quotes British immigration minister Mark Harper as saying the use of restraints for Dvorzac appears to be completely unjustified and should not happen again.
It's not clear where in Canada Dvorzac is from.

Hillary Clinton mulled green light for Israeli strike on Iran’

By MICHAEL WILNER 01/17/2014/J.Post/Former US secretary of state suggested exploring benefits of unilateral Israeli strike, according to Obama administration official.

WASHINGTON – In her role as secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton suggested the United States weigh the benefits of giving Israel “a tacit While Clinton did not explicitly endorse the idea, she suggested that by exploring it, a unilateral Israeli strike could “take care of the problem for” the US, one senior administration official quoted her saying, as first reported by Time journalist Michael Crowley. The idea was raised at senior-level meeting in 2010 “as one option to consider,” another US official said. The notion was quickly rejected by those in the White House.
The year 2010 marked an important turning point in US President Barack Obama’s policy toward Iran: Its leaders appeared to reject his outreach efforts and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was disinclined to believe that Obama would ever be prepared to order American military action. In his revelatory memoir published this week, former secretary of defense Robert Gates said that the US, at that time, began preparing for a unilateral Israeli strike, “including whether the US would assist.” “Militarily, I thought we needed to prepare for a possible Israeli attack and Iranian retaliation,” Gates wrote

Putin to visit Tehran. King of Morocco invites Iran to “Jerusalem Committee” – with Kerry’s approval

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 17, 2014/Tehran’s offensive for establishing itself as the leading Middle East power bar none is in full flight. On his arrival in Moscow Thursday, Jan. 17, Foreign Minister Javad Zerif handed Vladimir Putin an invitation to visit Tehran from President Hassan Rouhani. The Russian president replied: “I hope to visit you in Tehran very soon.” Iran also sent out invitations to Gulf rulers to tour its nuclear reactor at Bushehr, combined with a round table discussion on regional nuclear cooperation. This visit would be tantamount to the Arab oil emirs’ recognition of the legitimacy of Iran’s nuclear program. It is likely to come off because the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman are already in favor of rapprochement with Tehran. A development more directly affecting Israel’s interests is the King of Morocco’s offer to Iran of full membership in the Al Quds (Jerusalem) Committee of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (IOC), with the approval of US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Friday and Saturday (Jan. 17-18), in Marrakesh, the king chaired the Al Quds Committee’s 20th session, its first in ten years, announcing an effort to contribute to John Kerry’s efforts to revive the Middle East peace process. The gathering is attended by the foreign ministers of the committee member states, UN Security Council member states, the UN, EU and the Arab League, as well as Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
debkafile reports that Kerry has been keeping King Mohammad VI in Rabat au fait of the state of play in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, hoping to win the organization’s cooperation on the tough Jerusalem issue. Any US-backed Israeli-Palestinian accords involving Jerusalem, if achieved, would be referred to the Al Quds Committee.
Therefore, by inviting Iran to join, Kerry and the Moroccan king have inserted Tehran into one of the most sensitive decision-making hubs affecting the Middle East peace process.
These pivotal developments flow directly from the events disclosed by debkafile Thursday, Jan. 16:
Thursday, Jan. 16, Iran’s Javad Zarif and Syria’s Walid Moallem flew together to Moscow aboard the same flight and went straight into a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Zarif caught the flight in Damascus after a consultation with Syrian President Bashar Assad and a government-building exercise in Beirut. debkafile’s Middle East sources and intelligence sources report that this spurt of diplomatic motion came after Assad gave the nod to the plan Tehran had prepared to put on the table of the Geneva 2 conference, which opens in Switzerland on Jan. 20 for a political solution of the Syrian conflict. The two foreign ministers came to Moscow to collect Putin’s signature on the Iranian plan.
debkafile has gained access to its four high points:
1. Since the Assad regime and the rebel movement have no hope of coming to terms at this point in the three-year war they have been fighting, a political solution must be sought in stages.
2. The first stage would be agreement on a truce in the fighting. debkafile notes that a ceasefire has existed de facto in many parts of Syria for the last two months.
3. Humanitarian corridors respected by both sides will be opened up for essential American, Russian and European aid in food, medicines and equipment for withstanding the cold winter, to reach the rebel-held zones of Syria, most of which are under army siege.
4. Al Qaeda militias are counted out of any agreements. Therefore, an initiative must be launched for Syrian and rebel forces to collaborate in fighting al Qaeda elements in the areas under their control.
Zarif also planned to show Putin the plan he has drawn up for bringing political stability to Lebanon with Hizballah’s cooperation. It centers on forming a national unity government of 24 ministers – eight for Hizballah and its allies and eight for the opposition bloc, each grouping holding the right to veto ministerial appointments.
The Iranian foreign minister has clearly lost no time in filling the Middle East role of leading Middle East power broker and strongman, just allocated Tehran by Moscow and Washington.
According to prearranged procedure. Iranian officials first hammer out an accord with local rulers, such as Assad, Nasrallah and Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. They then present it to the Russian leader for endorsement, after which Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov refers the document to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.
The Iranian foreign minister set the new arrangement in motion for the first time in Lebanon. Iran’s next exhibition of muscle-flexing as senior Middle East power will be staged on Jan. 20 at Geneva 2.

STL heralds new era

January 17, 2014/By Kareem Shaheen/The Daily Star
THE HAGUE: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon holds a second day of deliberations Friday in the historic first international trial for a crime of terrorism, a day after the prosecution provided a detailed account of the day statesman Rafik Hariri was assassinated and the surveillance network that tracked him for weeks before his murder.
“The attack captured the attention of the world, its effect reverberating long after the explosion subsided,” Prosecutor Norman Farrell said in his opening statement. “The people of Lebanon have the right to have this trial, to hear the evidence and to seek the truth.”
The U.N.-backed court held its first in-absentia hearing at the Hague in the trial of four Hezbollah suspects accused of complicity in the suicide bombing that killed Hariri and 21 other victims.
The prosecution painted a gruesome, painful portrait of the day of the attack, recounting all the details leading up to the moment when Hariri’s motorcade swung by the explosives-laden Mitsubishi Canter van that left an 11-meter-wide crater in its wake.
The opening salvo in the trial also detailed the movements of the telephone networks that allegedly planned the assassination, and which supposedly belonged to the suspects.
One of the phone networks began tracking the former premier shortly after he announced his intention to resign from the government in October 2004, the prosecution said, pointing for the first time to the potential political motive for the attack. The resignation also coincided with the lowering of Hariri’s security detail from 40 ISF officers to about eight.
In its first court day, which former Prime Minister Saad Hariri described as historic for Lebanon, the prosecution offered a distressing account of the deadly attack as some of the victims present in the court wept at the horrifying footage.
In his opening statement, the prosecutor, standing behind a model of Downtown Beirut where the explosion took place, opened the trial with emotional images of the devastation in Downtown Beirut following the attack, including images of the remains of Hariri’s convoy.
Saad Hariri, Rafik’s son, along with MPs Marwan Hamadeh and Sami Gemayel, was among several Lebanese officials who attended the session, reliving the Feb. 14 bombing which plunged Lebanon into political turmoil and ended Syria’s formal tutelage over the country.
“It is not that the perpetrators simply did not care about killing their fellow citizens,” Farrell said. “They intended to do so.”
Voicing confidence that the evidence would prove the guilt of the suspects beyond reasonable doubt, Farrell said the assassination was aimed at sending “a terrifying message and to cause panic among the population of Beirut and Lebanon.”
He said the telecommunications evidence showed a complex and sophisticated surveillance plan of the former five-time premier which was not “innocent” or coincidental, adding that the suspects took steps to conceal their identities and to create a false trail to mislead investigators.
“Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Hussein Oneissi and Assad Sabra, as the evidence will show, conspired together with others to commit this terrorist act,” he said, listing the suspects’ names.
In 2011, the court indicted the four suspects, described as “supporters of Hezbollah,” for involvement in the Feb. 14, 2005, attack.
A fifth Hezbollah suspect, Hassan Merhi, was accused last year of complicity in the killing. The STL has not yet decided whether to try the fifth man along with the others.
Hezbollah has repeatedly criticized the tribunal, describing it as a U.S.-Israeli tool aimed at inciting strife in Lebanon and targeting the resistance group.
The party’s leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has said the suspects would never be apprehended.
Hezbollah has sought to discredit the tribunal with Nasrallah questioning the credibility of former STL prosecutors and criticizing investigators as having ties to Western intelligence agencies.
Attending the court’s opening at The Hague was a delegation of the victims and their families, whose hopes hang on the trial’s outcome.
Senior Trial Counsel Alexander Milne spoke about Hariri’s activities that day, including his visit to Parliament and his unexpected stop at Cafe de l’Etoile.
The prosecution showed CCTV footage showing the explosives-rigged Mitsubishi Canter van slowly moving before Hariri’s convoy passed by. The truck came from a tunnel that is part of a highway linked to the southern suburbs. The footage also showed images after the blast including scenes of anguished bystanders and security personnel as well as the blanket-covered body of the former premier.
“Those who died were victims, those who were injured were victims, their families were victims, and the people of Lebanon as a whole were victims of this attack,” Milne said.
The prosecution said the bomb was detonated manually, saying there was no evidence to suggest it was done wirelessly. Milne said the “generous” Lebanese onlookers rushed to help without any regard for their safety.
The prosecution said there was no evidence that the man who appeared in a claim of responsibility for the attack by the group Nusra and Jihad in Greater Syria, Abu Adass, had anything to do with the assassination.
The prosecution also said the bomb was most likely placed above the ground when it was manually detonated and contained 2 tons of RDX, an explosive material more powerful than TNT.
The prosecution also began outlining details of the surveillance of Hariri, showing copies of falsified ID cards allegedly used by the suspects to purchase telephones used by leaders of the assassination cell.
Trial counsel showed the movement of the surveillance networks overlayed on maps of Beirut. The prosecution argues that the sophistication and level of surveillance shows criminal intent.
Also attending the trial was Mahmoud Eid, the father of Wissam Eid, an ISF officer who was assassinated after working on the telecommunications evidence in the Hariri case. Eid voiced “pride” because of his son’s work.
“He opened the road and the first breakthrough in this investigation,” he told The Daily Star during a court break.
“I feel that Wissam’s martyrdom has borne fruit, because he was martyred in the path of truth,” he said.
Trial will resume Friday at 10:30 a.m. The prosecutor is expected to detail the rest of the evidence which relied on telecommunications data. The analysis of call data records allegedly revealed several networks that tracked Hariri and were responsible for the assassination.
The court is likely to proceed next week to presenting some of the prosecution’s first witnesses

Hariri sees STL trial as ‘first page of true justice’
January 17, 2014/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Thursday described the opening of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as a historic day and the first step toward real justice, but said Hezbollah’s refusal to hand over the suspects accused of killing his father was yet another crime.
“Today is a historic day par excellence and Rafik Hariri’s presence was strongly felt as well as all the martyrs who died with him and those who fell after him, including Mohammad Shatah and his bodyguard, and the hundreds of victims who died in the bombings and political assassinations,” Hariri said outside the STL headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands.
He said that it was useless to try and hinder the path of justice: “From now on, any attempt to try to disrupt this path will be in vain.”
The STL began its first hearing in the presence of Hariri, Lebanese officials and some of the families of victims from the Feb. 14, 2005, assassination, when a suicide bomber killed the former premier and 21 others in Downtown Beirut.
The United Nations-backed court in 2011 indicted four members of Hezbollah over their alleged involvement in the killing and last year accused a fifth member of the resistance group of complicity.
Hariri’s assassination was followed by a series of political assassinations of Lebanese figures, mostly those who were against Syria’s presence in the country.
Referring to Hezbollah’s refusal to hand over the suspects, Hariri said: “Protecting the accused in the assassination of Rafik Hariri and his companions and insisting on not handing them to justice is another crime added to the main crime.
“We were certainly appalled to have a Lebanese group accused in this crime, based on evidence and extensive investigations,” he added.
“We never thought that there would be, in the ranks of the Lebanese, people who could sell themselves to the devil, volunteer to kill Rafik Hariri and execute the most horrible terrorist operation with that enormous amount of explosives,” said Hariri, who is currently living abroad for security reasons.
He voiced regret that the perpetrators behind his father’s killing were part of “a certain political party.”
“But they are innocent until proven guilty,” he added. “We want justice, not revenge.”
“Starting today, the eyes and the sentiments of the Lebanese people are drawn to the work of this tribunal, which has opened the first page of true justice and laid the required cornerstone to fight political assassinations and organized crime in Lebanon and the Arab world,” he said.
“Today is the day of Lebanon and the tribunal. We struggled for nine years to reach this day. Lebanon is a very complicated country, and we worked very hard to get to where we are,” he added.
“At the end of this trial we will know who killed Rafik Hariri and the March 14 leaders, and those who did will pay the price.”
The former prime minister said that the tribunal was a step in the right direction in terms of deterring future criminals: “In the past in Lebanon, somebody would be killed and we would forget the whole case, today we are telling the world, no, this is not going to happen, not with Rafik Hariri, and not with any other politician.”
The former premier also acknowledged the role played by France and its presidents in the establishment of the tribunal.
Also Thursday, Hariri met with Dutch Ambassador to Lebanon Hester Somsen, who expressed hope that the tribunal would put an end to impunity.
“It is a great honor to meet with Prime Minister Hariri on this day that is both sad and good for him. The work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has launched, and I hope that puts an end to impunity, especially after the country has witnessed so many crimes with the perpetrators going unpunished,” Somsen said in a statement released by Hariri’s office.
The ambassador added that it was important for the Netherlands that the criminals be apprehended, and expressed her nation’s support for Lebanon.