June 11/14


Bible Quotation for today/"He called his disciples and chose twelve of them"

Luke 6,12-19/: "Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them."

Pope Francis's Tweet For Today

Let us pray for all victims of sexual violence in conflict, and those working to end this crime.


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For June 11/14

Hezbollah plays a dangerous game at Lebanon’s expense/By: Khairallah Khairallah/Al Arabiya/June 11/14
Obama backs the wrong horse, again/By: Dan Calic/Ynetnews/June 11/14


Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For June 11/14

Lebanese Related News

Geagea's father passes away

LF Leader's Father Farid Geagea Passes Away
Geagea ready to back Bkirki’s candidates

French Ambassador Stresses Support for Taef after Paris Accused of Proposing 'Tripartite Power-Sharing'

Teachers refuse to budge

Negotiations Collapse between SCC, Bou Saab as Open-Ended Sit-In Continues

Exams' fate in the air after Parliament failure

Berri condemns constant state paralysis

Chammas volunteers to correct official exams

Central Bank protects economy's stability: Salameh

Obama hails Baabda Declaration, Sleiman

President Gemayel Slams 'Unethical' Boycott, Says Priority for Presidential Election
Jumblatt: I will not vote for Geagea, Aoun

Jounieh rejects ‘floating island’

Syrians, Lebanese kidnapped in east Lebanon

Bassil to discuss refugee crisis in Athens

Lebanese banks help U.S. fight tax evasion

Patriarchy and violence

Miscellaneous Reports And News

President elect Reuven Rivlin: Shattered faith in Presidency must be restored

Poll: Palestinians prefer suing Israel at the ICC rather than starting third intifada

Mosul falls to militants, Iraqi forces flee city

UN chief 'gravely concerned' by Iraq city takeover
Over 600 dead in ISIS offensive in east Syria
US encourages Iran nuclear talks remain 'behind the scenes' as France airs concerns

Kuwait again shuts two newspapers over ban  


Obama hails Baabda Declaration, Sleiman
June 10, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the Baabda Declaration Thursday, praising former Lebanese President Michel Sleiman’s efforts during his six-year term. “The Baabda Declaration of 2012 that consists of isolating Lebanon from regional conflicts is an asset of your leadership,” Obama said in a letter to Sleiman, according to the latter's office. “It is an extremely important heritage for the next generations,” he continued, “who should reinforce it for the sake of supporting the Lebanese state, protecting its independence and defending its institutions.”The accord signed in 2012 by rival political leaders who met at Baabda Palace, stated that Lebanon should be distanced from regional crises. The pact’s significance was that it announced a unified Lebanese opinion against engaging in the Syrian war. However, after Hezbollah announced its involvement in fighting alongside the Assad Regime in Syria, the declaration became widely contested, especially by the March 8 coalition. Sleiman had called for the incorporation of the declaration in Lebanese constitution in November 2013, stating that it should not be a perceived as provocative by Hezbollah. Obama’s letter also praised the cooperation between the two countries’ governments during Sleiman’s presidency, especially in terms of supporting Lebanon and its army.


LF Leader's Father Farid Geagea Passes Away
Naharnet/The father of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Farid Geagea, passed away on Tuesday evening. Geagea, the father, was around 92 years old and he was suffering from health complications related to aging in the past months, LF sources told Naharnet. "He spent the last three months of his life at the hospital,” the sources said. The LF leader revealed last month in an interview on LBCI television that his father had served in the Lebanese Army band. "My father did not encourage me to join the military institution, although he was himself a member. And then I decided to enter the medical field,” Geagea commented. The LF media office announced that Farid Geagea's funeral will be held on Thursday at 5 pm at the St. Saba church in the northern city of Bsharri, his hometown. Condolences will also be received on Friday at the same church, and on Saturday and Sunday at the LF headquarters in Maarab from 11 am to 7 pm.

Geagea's father passes away

June 10, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: Farid Geagea, father of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, passed away Tuesday, a statement released by the party said. The statement added that funeral arrangements will take place on Thursday, June 12 at 5 p.m. at the Saint Saba’s church in Bsharri, north Lebanon. Condolences will be received before and after the funeral, starting 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. on the same day, and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, June 13 at the hall of the church. On Saturday and Sunday June 14 and 15 the Lebanese Forces will accept condolences at its headquarters in the Kesrouan village of Maarab, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt was the first politician to call Geagea to pay respects, the National News Agency reported. In addition to Jumblat, Geagea received sympathy calls from Speaker Nabih Berri, former Prime Ministers Najib Mikati and Fouad Siniora, Telecommunication Minister Boutros Harb, MPs Hadi Hobeish, Henry Helou,Fadi Karam, Antoine Zahra, Joseph Maalouf and Fares Souaid, as well as from the Lebanese Army General Commander Jean Kahwagi.

Negotiations Collapse between SCC, Bou Saab as Open-Ended Sit-In Continues
Naharnet/Negotiations between the education minister and the Syndicate Coordination Committee over official school exams collapsed on Tuesday evening, with the SCC announcing that it will not reverse its decision to boycott Thursday's exams. “The SCC has not changed its stance,” said Nehme Mahfoud, SCC member and head of the private school teachers syndicate.
"There will be no exams on June 12 should Minister Bou Saab maintain his stance," another SCC member warned. Earlier in the day, Bou Saab met with an SCC delegation at the ministry after a dispute over Mahfoud's attendance was resolved. The minister had accused Mahfoud of insulting him. During the meeting, "the SCC apologized to Bou Saab over the insult ... telling him 'your dignity is our dignity'," several TV networks reported. But in the evening, Mahfoud said "a member of the SCC clarified what happened to the minister and we did not make a mistake so that we apologize."
"My decision is almost ready and I will back it up with some facts before announcing what my conscience obliges me to do," OTV quoted Bou Saab as saying later. "I do not bow to political pressure and my mission is ensuring balance between the teachers' rights and the students' interest," the minister added.
Earlier, head of public employees association Mahmoud Haidar announced a general strike from June 11 till June 19 at all ministries and public institutions to press for the approval of the stalled new wage scale. On Tuesday morning, the SCC had kicked off an open-ended sit-in inside the Ministry of Education in UNESCO area to demand the approval of the wage hike.
Enraged public sector employees and teachers gathered inside the ministry, shouting slogans and holding banners that reject the ongoing delay in endorsing the draft-law by lawmakers as the parliament failed to reach a breakthrough over the controversial dispute. Head of Public Secondary School Education Teachers Association Hanna Gharib called on SCC protesters to remain at the Ministry of Education, announcing that the committee will kick off an open-ended strike.
He accused lawmakers of holding the Lebanese people as “hostages.”“The official exams will not be held,” Gharib told demonstrators. Earlier on Tuesday, Bou Saab held talks with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat, who announced a day earlier that his parliamentary bloc would attend the legislative session but would not approve the pay hike draft-law. A behind closed doors meeting was also held between Speaker Nabih Berri, Bou Saab and Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil ahead of the parliamentary session.
Another meeting was held between Prime Minister Tammam Salam, MP Bahia Hariri and Berri. However, Berri postponed the session to June 19 after the parliament failed to convene over lack of quorum anew. Only 54 MPs attended the session. “The official exams cannot be held in this manner,” Berri said after talks with Bou Saab. He stressed that the “public institutions shouldn't be obstructed.”Bou Saab told reporters later on that he “agrees with Berri's stance on official exams,” expressing regret for being compelled to take such a decision. “The solution for the controversial dispute is political,” the minister said. He vowed to continue the battle, adding: “We support the adoption of a balanced wage scale.”“The decision to carry out official exams is in the hands of the Education Ministry only.” The March 14 alliance held a press conference at the parliament, reiterating their complete rejection to the new wage scale over the economic risks it poses.
The SCC is angered by the failure of lawmakers to approve the new pay hike, and had continuously vowed to escalate its measures to pressure blocs into attending parliamentary sessions set to discuss the matter. The SCC, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, had called for a two-day strike, starting Monday, after the Education Minister pledged to hold the official exams on time even if parliament failed to approve the pay hike.
Official exams for Brevet (BR) students are scheduled to begin on Thursday. Bou Saab reiterated in comments ahead of his meeting with Berri that the official exams will be carried out “no matter what.” He expressed hope that a positive breakthrough would occur regarding the new wage scale. The minister welcomed the sit-in held by the SCC at the Ministry of Education, saying: “It is the right place for them to protest and not the streets.” “The concerned teachers will not lose their way,” Bou Saab said. Students from public and private schools participated in the SCC's protest on Tuesday, expressing solidarity with it. Mahfoud also lashed out at the head of the Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc Fouad Saniora, accusing politicians of leading the country towards “bankruptcy.” On Monday, Saniora announced that al-Mustaqbal bloc will not take part in “pushing the country towards bankruptcy.”Finance Minister Khalil also criticized Saniora's comments, saying: “I am concerned with maintaining the financial stability in the country and rectifying the old policies adopted by previous officials.”He pointed out that the endorsement of the new wage scale would decrease the budget deficit. “We already had an agreement over the matter but some parties overturned it later on,” the minister continued. The public sector employees and teachers are holding onto a 121 percent increase in their salaries. But a ministerial-parliamentary committee has proposed to reduce the total funding from LL2.8 trillion ($1.9 billion) to LL1.8 trillion ($1.2 billion). It has also called for raising certain taxes, which are a source of controversy among parliamentary blocs.

Central Bank protects economy's stability: Salameh
June 10, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: Governor Riad Salameh said Tuesday the Central Bank will protect the economy’s stability and overcome the recent crisis, calling for the quick revival of political institutions.“In these circumstances, I would like to confirm that the Central Bank will protect monetary and credit stability in Lebanon,” Salameh announced during at the 11th Banking and Economic Conference 2014 - intitled “Banque du Liban after Half a Century,” and organized by First Protocol. The Central Bank’s policies and the conservative banking model increased trust and stimulated economic growth by reducing interest rates, Salameh said. Salameh mentioned the Syrian refugee crisis in his comments, arguing that “it demonstrated the solidity of the national economy.”“[It proved] that Lebanon has succeeded in confronting the difficult political and security circumstances, and was able to stand the burden of over 1 million Syrians,” he continued. Concerning the recent developments over the salary scale, Salameh said the “realistic solution is to pay it over five years so that salaries are increased on a yearly basis.” “The presidential void is an unnatural thing that will hopefully not last long, because it creates pressure on ... the Cabinet and the Parliament’s performance,” he said. He called on all political actors to take responsibility for reviving institutions, and thus helping Lebanon’s economy.

Fate of school exams up in the air after Parliament failure
June 10, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: Education Minister Elias Bou Saab remained adamant on holding official school exams, dismissing calls to postpone the tests from Speaker Nabih Berri as well as civil servants, who threatened an open-ended strike after a Parliament session on wage hike failed to achieve quorum.Bou Saab held a lengthy meeting with the teachers later in the day to reach a compromise on the matter, but to no avail. "The exams will be held on Thursday," Bou Saab told a news conference from Parliament. "Students are suffering the most. I am not willing to postpone the exams, not even 15 minutes." Parliament again Tuesday failed to meet to vote on the controversial wage hike bill that has been a key demand by the Union Coordination Committee for holding the exams.
Berri postponed the session to June 19 over lack of quorum. Only 54 MPs showed up while the required quorum is 65.
He urged Education Minister Elias Bou Saab to postpone the exams for Grade 9 and Grade 12 students. “Exams can’t be held in this climate,” Berri told Bou Saab. Bou Saab has already postponed Brevet exams from June 7 to June 12 and Baccalaureate exams from June 12 to June 16 and June 22 to June 27. "We are the ones who announce exam dates. [Exam] Certificates in exchange for the salary scale," Hanna Gharib, the head of the Union Coordination Committee, warned during a sit-in at the Education Ministry in the Beirut neighborhood of UNESCO. “Security forces cannot do anything to us. They can hide if they do anything bad to the teachers,” said Hasan Ismail, the president of the Federal International Education Syndicate. Before the failed legislative session, lawmakers held a flurry of meetings to resolve the salary increase deadlock, as the UCC stepped up pressure by taking its protest into the Education Ministry, days before official exams are due. Nehme Mahfoud, head of the Private Schools Teachers Association, said protesters would not leave the Education Ministry until Bou Saab made a decision. "It's not acceptable after three years of mulling the salary scale to tell us more time is needed to study the bill," Mahfoud said from the Education Ministry. "Education is not business. We hope we can sit down with the education minister and find a way to earn our rights and do the exams at the same time."Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil slammed the lawmakers who boycotted Tuesday's session."It is obvious that the boycott does not only target the wage hike, but is aimed at disrupting the Parliament," Khalil said. “We have proposed a number of solutions that, if approved, would not destabilize the economy." MP Ibrahim Kanaan, from Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, said the problem of the salary scale had nothing to do with figures. “The salary scale had undergone extensive studies by the Cabinet and the Budget and Finance Committee and had gained the approval of 54 MPs,” said Kanaan, who heads Parliament's Budget and Finance Committee. "The problem is not in numbers, but in options." Soon after the UCC sit-in kicked off at 9 a.m., protesters moved inside the Education Ministry headquarters, in a bid to block access for teachers hoping to sign contracts to monitor and correct official exams. Bou Saab has announced a backup plan for holding official exams whereby he would hire contract teachers to replace the full-time staff. But the UCC pledged not to allow the tests to be conducted unless the wage hike was endorsed first. The two-day strike by the UCC has disrupted the operations of ministries, public departments and institutions as well as municipalities across Lebanon. Public schools throughout the country were also closed by the strike.


President Gemayel Slams 'Unethical' Boycott, Says Priority for Presidential Election
Naharnet/Phalange leader Amin Gemayel called on Tuesday for the immediate election of a new president amid an “unethical” boycott by several blocs, reiterating that parliament should not legislate in case of a vacuum at Baabda Palace. “Parliament should only focus on electing a new president. It should not legislate in case of vacuum as the Constitution states,” Gemayel said following talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkirki. “The election of a president should be a priority. All efforts should focus on pressuring MPs who are boycotting the sessions,” he told reporters.
The majority of March 8 lawmakers have caused lack of quorum in several rounds of parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a new president. The boycott of the MPs, which Gemayel described as an “unethical (move) against the Constitution, parliament and the nation,” comes amid differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances on a compromise candidate. While March 14 backs the candidacy of Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, the Hizbullah-led March 8 camp says there is a need for a consensual president. Their differences led to a vacuum in the country's top Christian post when President Michel Suleiman's six-year term expired on May 25. “Legislation should only take its normal course after the election of a president,” Gemayel said a few hours after parliament failed once again to discuss a controversial draft-law on a wage hike for the public sector. “We support social rights but there are priorities,” the former president stressed. “Political, constitutional and parliamentary life would be organized only after the election of a head of state,” he said. Kataeb MPs were among other March 14 alliance lawmakers who on Tuesday boycotted the legislative session on the wage hike. The boycott is aimed at sending a message of protest to the March 8 alliance that has paralyzed the electoral sessions.

French Ambassador Stresses Support for Taef after Paris Accused of Proposing 'Tripartite Power-Sharing'
by Naharnet/French Ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli announced Tuesday that his country's stance is based on supporting the Lebanese Constitution and the Taef Accord, after Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah accused Paris of being the first party to raise the issue of “tripartite power-sharing” during a meeting with Iranian officials. Following talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail, Paoli said he expressed France's support for the Lebanese state institutions and for the government, which has assumed presidential powers since Michel Suleiman's mandate as president expired on May 25.“There are questions regarding the French stance which are not based on any facts. I have once again highlighted the well-known and clear French stance, which is based on supporting the Constitution, including all its known elements – the Lebanese National Pact, the Taef Accord and the current Constitution,” Paoli added. Nasrallah had said Friday that “years ago, the French were the first party to raise this issue (of tripartite power-sharing) in Tehran.” “They told the Iranians that the Taef Accord had become outdated and asked them about their opinion regarding tripartite power-sharing. The Iranians had never thought of this matter, but they asked us about it and we said that it is totally out of the question,” Nasrallah added. And on Monday, the Kataeb Party called on France to clarify its stance on tripartite power-sharing in light of Nasrallah's remarks. Paoli also said that his country believes that Lebanese state institutions must continue functioning “according to the Constitution” amid the current presidential void, calling for the election of a new president. “This stance is clear. As Lebanon's friends, we today call on the Lebanese to elect a president away from any interference, as the selection of a president is a Lebanese affair before anything else,” the French ambassador added. “As Lebanon's friends, we also hope the Lebanese would support the institutions, the government and the parliament,” he went on to say.

Jumblatt: I will not vote for Geagea, Aoun

June 10, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: MP Walid Jumblatt will inform former Prime Minister Saad Hariri of his opposition to the presidential candidacies of both MP Michel Aoun and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, the lawmaker said Tuesday. “I will tell [former] Prime Minister Saad Hariri that I will not vote for Michel Aoun or Samir Geagea,” Jumblatt told Al-Arabiya in an interview. While rejecting Aoun’s candidacy outright, Jumblatt said he made it clear he supports moderation via his party's nomination of one of their own, MP Henry Helou. The head of the Progressive Socialist Party also said that it would be a precedent for Lebanon if the parliamentary elections scheduled for November were held amid a presidential vacuum. Lebanon has been without a president since May 25, as lawmakers remain deadlocked and unable to agree on a consensus candidate. Aoun has reportedly been waiting for Hariri to endorse his presidency but the Future bloc and the March 14 coalition have repeatedly said that Geagea was their only candidate for the country's top post. Aoun, a former Army general, has been the March 8 coalition's undeclared candidate. umblatt said he hoped that the coming president would follow the footsteps of former President Michel Sleiman, who he said established the foundation of the state in the Baabda Declaration, seen as the former president’s most renowned achievement. The declaration, signed by rival groups in 2012 during a Dialogue session chaired by Sleiman, stipulates that Lebanon should remain at a distance from regional turmoil, especially the crisis in Syria. Jumblatt also commented on the recent controversy with regards to the tripartite power-sharing, saying that both Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah Chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah have confirmed their support of the equal distribution of power between Muslims and Christians. Last week, Nasrallah denied what he said were allegations against Hezbollah that the party was seeking to establish a new formula that divides power between Shiites, Sunnis and Christians, replacing the equal power-sharing set out in the Taif Accord. Speaking on the crisis in Syria, Jumblatt, a staunch critic of President Bashar Assad, said the Syrian regime was only capable of assassinating.""In Syria, there was a state and Bashar Assad turned it into a mob governing the people," he said. "It is a disgrace for Syrian Druze to support someone who is killing his people."

Hezbollah plays a dangerous game at Lebanon’s expense

Tuesday, 10 June 2014/Khairallah Khairallah/Al Arabiya
At this point, perhaps it’s more beneficial for Lebanon to look into the alternatives to a presidential void – is there a more dangerous scenario out there? It might be useful to focus on what Lebanon is subjected to as an independent state, which at least theoretically, seeks to find a place of its own on the Middle East map and to provide the minimum of welfare, freedom and dignity to its citizens.
This does not at all mean that presidential elections are not important. On the contrary, these elections are exceptionally important because there are attempts to eliminate our small country through them.
Hezbollah’s military involvement in Syria harmed whatever was left of Lebanese sovereignty”There’s no need to talk much about the threats Lebanon is confronting. It’s enough to take a quick look at the recent speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to realize that everything in the country is targeted - beginning with the country’s top post of the presidency and all the way to the lowest governmental rank.
In total control of Lebanon
The speech revealed a new reality in which Hezbollah, which is a mere brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, considers itself in total control of Lebanon. Hezbollah has trespassed Lebanon. For the first time in the history of this country, there’s someone saying that he protects the state, its institutions, the presidency and the entity. There’s someone saying that he protects the state as an arena for its party where it can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants and however it wants.
Nasrallah’s latest speech seems to be the most dangerous of his speeches by all standards. This recent speech has trespassed all borders and not just Lebanon’s borders. He confirmed that there will be no president for Lebanon unless this president has certain characteristics - characteristics laid down by Hezbollah, i.e. Iran which specifies Hezbollah’s policies and what the latter must do inside and outside Lebanon. The president must thus be like any other Christian member of parliament from Jezzine or Nabatiyeh or Marjayoun or Metn or Jbeil or even Kesrouan where no candidate can win without the votes of Hezbollah and other parties affiliated with it. There’s of course an exception called the district of northern Metn where deputies like Sami Gemayel succeeded at preventing Hezbollah from monopolizing parliamentary representation. There are also free members of parliament who represent both the Christian and the Lebanese conscience. These belong to districts where Hezbollah has no influence on the ground. This current attack against the presidency falls within the context of a policy that merely aims to cancel Lebanon. This is not an exaggeration of the situation. It actually reflects a reality that’s begun to crystallize the minute Hezbollah decided to engage to in the war which the Syrian regime has launched against its people.
Against the Syrian people

Hezbollah got involved in the war against the Syrian people after Iran requested it to do so. This is it. The Shiite party was ordered to get involved in the war regardless of the price it’s currently paying and it will have to pay sooner or later. Hezbollah’s military involvement in Syria harmed whatever was left of Lebanese sovereignty and recognized borders between two countries that are members of the Arab League and the U.N. The intervention alongside Assad’s forces was according to sectarian basis. Hezbollah put sectarian affiliation above all other affiliations because Iran requested it to. This is a new development on the level of the entire Middle East. It was former president Michel Suleiman’s fault that he objected to Hezbollah’s behavior and committed to the constitution - which he swore to respect. The result was a relentless war against him. This war expanded to disciplining the entire Christians by confirming to them that any president must be like any Maronite member of parliament from Jezzine or southern Metn or Jbeil or Baalbeck or Hermel. In other words, the president must be a mere employee, with the rank of an MP, working for Hezbollah and continuously striving to gain its approval.
Hezbollah has decided to be the state. It temporarily neutralized the Sunnis by approving to form the current cabinet of Tammam Salam, the patriotic figure who’s widely respected by most parties. Hezbollah practically wants to be free for the battle of the presidency and wants to make use of this for a much bigger battle represented in participating in redrawing the region’s map.
How can this happen? By connecting the Lebanese Bekaa and Hezbollah’s security zones there and in other Lebanese areas with Syrian territories, particularly the Syrian coast. This plan would be carried out in a manner that provides protection for the Alawite state in case Bashar al-Assad has no other choice but to establish it.
At Lebanon’s expense
What’s simply requested is to have a Lebanese president who engages in this dangerous game being played at Lebanon’s expense. Michel Suleiman was not the man fit for this role. On the contrary, Suleiman voiced his commitment to the Baabda Declaration when his term ended and as he walked out of the Baabda presidential palace with his head held up high. He’s publicly spoken of the Baabda Declaration for the sake of protecting Lebanon at a time when some parties want no one to protect the small country with its recognized borders and established regime. A while ago and during the long crisis that accompanied forming the current Lebanese government, former Speaker of Parliament Hussein al-Husseini said something very important as he described what Lebanon is going through as an “entity crisis.” It is truly an entity crisis and not just a crisis linked to marginalizing the Lebanese Christians to the maximum. It’s a crisis linked to the future of Lebanon where there are currently shameless parties saying they “protect” everything in the country, i.e. that they are its guardians. Is it possible that there will be new tutelage over Lebanon? Is this possible? Or has everything become possible with Syria’s collapse as an entity following the semi-collapse which happened in Iraq?

Patriarchy and violence
June 10, 2014/Daily Star/Violence against women and children is a global problem, but in Lebanon it must be tackled in a culturally specific way. The unspeakably horrific case Sunday of a 5-year-old Syrian refugee raped and murdered, his body left in a dumpster, is just the latest example of such acts and follows the murders of several women this year, all at the hands of partners or men close to them. These are just the cases we hear about, the women courageous enough to come forward. Many more incidents happen behind closed doors. All these acts are about power and the opportunity to control these women and children. They stem from the patriarchal structure of society, which in turn is influenced by religious and cultural norms. A widespread campaign is needed that addresses the roots of this problem, one which uses education to open up people’s minds to an existence where violence against women and children is not natural, or inevitable, but an aberration that will be severely punished.
For although Lebanon has signed all the relevant international conventions on such acts of barbaric violence, this has changed little on the ground. And when a recent law against sexual violence was passed, it was virtually meaningless, having been stripped of much of its content after its draft form was sent to the country’s various religious bodies for editing. Marital rape, apparently, does not exist.
From the judiciary to the education system, the country needs to overhaul its approach to sexual violence and violence against women and children, so that victims can feel comfortable enough to come forward and so that potential perpetrators learn another way.

Mosul falls to militants, Iraqi forces flee northern city

June 10, 2014/By Ziad al-Sinjary/Reuters
MOSUL, Iraq: An al-Qaeda splinter group in Iraq seized control of the big northern city of Mosul on Tuesday, putting security forces to flight in a spectacular show of strength against the Shi'ite-led Baghdad government. The capture of the city of some two million by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Sunni Muslims waging sectarian war on both sides of the nearby Iraqi-Syrian border, adds to its grip on key western cities and followed four days of heavy fighting in Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province. The United States, which pulled out its troops two and a half years ago, pledged to help Iraq leaders "push back against this aggression" as the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asked parliament to declare a state of emergency.
But the battle, for the time being, seemed to be over, with police discarding uniforms and weapons and fleeing a city where the black flag of ISIL was flying over government buildings.
"We have lost Mosul this morning," said a colonel at a local military command centre. "Army and police forces left their positions and ISIL terrorists are in full control. "It's a total collapse of the security forces."A Reuters reporter saw the bodies of soldiers and policemen, some mutilated, littering the streets.
"We can't beat them. We can't. They are well trained in street fighting and we're not. We need a whole army to drive them out of Mosul," one officer told Reuters. "They're like ghosts: they appear, strike and disappear in seconds."The fall of Mosul, a largely Sunni Arab city after years of ethnic and sectarian fighting, deals a serious blow to Baghdad's efforts to fight Sunni militants who have regained ground and momentum in Iraq over the past year, taking Falluja and parts of Ramadi, in the desert west of Baghdad at the start of the year.
Control there, in Anbar province, as well as around Mosul in the north, would help ISIL and its allies consolidate control along the barely populated frontier with Syria, where they are fighting President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Shi'ite Iran. Thousands of families were fleeing north from Mosul, one of the great historic cities of the Middle East, towards the nearby Kurdistan region, where Iraq's ethnic Kurds enjoy autonomy. " Mosul now is like hell. It's in flames and death is everywhere," said Amina Ibrahim, who was leaving with her children. Her husband had been killed last year, in a bombing.
In a statement, the U.S. State Department said it was "deeply concerned" and had senior officials in Baghdad and Washington monitoring events in coordination with the Iraqi government, Kurdish officials and other Iraqi figures. It said Washington would "support a strong, coordinated response".
"The United States will provide all appropriate assistance to the government of Iraq," it added, saying that its use of arms and fighters from Syria showed "ISIL is not only a threat to the stability of Iraq, but a threat to the entire region".Police, military and security officials told Reuters the insurgents, armed with anti-aircraft weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, had taken over almost all police and army checkpoints in and around the city early on Tuesday. Two army officers said security forces had received orders to quit Mosul after militants captured the Ghizlani army base and set more than 200 inmates free from a high-security prison. Two police sources and a local government official said the militants had also broken into another jail called Badush, allowing more than 1,000 prisoners to escape. Most of these, they said, belonged to ISIL and al Qaeda. The army and police set fire to fuel and ammunition depots as they retreated to prevent the militants from using them, the officers said.
ISIL, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, broke with al Qaeda's international leader, Osama bin Laden's former lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahri, and has clashed with al Qaeda fighters in Syria.
ISIL posted photographs of its fighters wearing black balaclavas on its "Nineveh State" Twitter account, interspersed with verses from the Koran. The group dubbed the Mosul offensive "Enter Upon Them Through The Gates".
In a newsletter, ISIL enjoined Sunnis to join them in the fight against Maliki's "Safavid" army - a reference to the Persian dynasty that promoted Shi'ite Islam."Join the ranks oh brothers!" ran one slogan. "Maliki's tyrannical strength no match for pious believers."Ibraheem al-Sumeide'i, a former adviser to Maliki who fell out with him over policy, said the prime minister should make way for a government of national unity: "The fall of Mosul into the hands of ISIL means that ISIL has unified the Iraqi and Syrian front and they have achieved their goal," he said.Some Iraqi security sources estimate more than a thousand mainly Shi'ite troops have been killed and many more deserted from the army, as regular soldiers complain their leadership has not provided them with the equipment and training.
Maliki's critics blame him for leading Iraq to ruin by monopolising power and alienating the Sunni minority that long dominated Iraq until U.S. forces overthrew Saddam Hussein and oversaw elections that empowered the Shi'ite majority. Militants also control the Qayara district near Mosul, where there is a military base and an airfield, security sources said.
In the neighbouring province of Salahaddin, they overran three villages in the Shirqat district, torching police stations, town halls and local council buildings before raising ISIL's banner. Over loudspeakers, insurgents said residents - and the police - would be safe if they remained in their homes.
On Monday, provincial governor Atheel Nujaifi made a televised plea to the people of Mosul to stand their ground and fight. Hours later, Nujaifi himself narrowly escaped the provincial headquarters in the city after militants besieged it. Nujaifi's brother Osama, who is speaker of the parliament in Baghdad, called on the Kurdish leadership to sent their region's peshmerga forces to Mosul and wrest it back from "terrorists". Kurdistan Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said his region had tried to coordinate with Iraqi federal authorities to protect Mosul, but Baghdad's stance had made it impossible.
Nearly 800 people were killed in violence across Iraq in May - the highest monthly death toll so far this year. Last year was the deadliest since the sectarian bloodletting of 2006-07.
At least 20 people were killed on Tuesday when two bombs exploded at a cemetery in the city of Baquba about 50 km (30 miles) northeast of Baghdad, as mourners buried a university professor shot dead the previous day, police and medics said. "Mourners' bodies were flung among the graves by the force of the blasts," said Muhsin Farhan, a relative of the professor. "Even the dead are suffering in Iraq."

Kuwait again shuts two newspapers over ban
By AFP | Kuwait city /Monday, 9 June 2014
A judge in Kuwait on Monday ordered two newspapers to close for the second time in two months for defying a ban on an alleged coup plot, the dailies said. The independent Al-Watan and Alam al-Youm were ordered to close for five days following an information ministry complaint last week after they published a story on videotapes allegedly showing former senior officials plotting a coup.
Al-Watan is owned by a senior member of the Al-Sabah ruling family while Alam al-Youm is close to the opposition. The two papers were closed for two weeks from April 20 for carrying news on the videotapes after the Gulf state's attorney general ordered a total blackout while the issue was under investigation. The videos have shaken the oil-rich emirate, prompting the investigation and parliament to hold a secret debate on the issue. The royal court has also called for calm. The new developments unfolded with the opposition planning a public rally for Tuesday, its first in more than a year, to expose what it calls major corruption scandals. The OPEC member appeared to be sliding back into political turmoil following months of relative calm after years of bitter crises between MPs and the government.
Between mid-2006 and last year, about a dozen governments were formed and parliament was dissolved six times.


President elect Reuven Rivlin: Shattered faith in Presidency must be restored
Published: 06.10.14/Ynetnews/President elect Reuven Rivlin speaks to Knesset upon victory; Netanyahu offers congratulations.
You put up quite a fight," Reuven Rivlin told his rival in the presidential election, Meir Sheetrit, on Tuesday after he was announced as the successor to President Shimon Peres.
Rivlin addressed the Knesset members who elected him as Israel's 10th president after the announcement, telling them, "We have reached the end of a difficult election campaign, the faith of the public in the office of president received a harsh blow and it is our duty to rehabilitate it and restore it."Looking at the crowd of his soon-to-be former colleagues, he added: "The Israeli Knesset was home for me." First elected to the parliament in 1988, Rivlin expressed his great love for the office and for his fellow MKs. "The Knesset is the spice of life of the Israeli democracy. From this moment I begin a personal process of seperation from the place that has been my home." But Rivlin will also have to seperate from his political home, the Likud. "This party was my home as I said it would be until I was legally obligated to leave it. Now, I am no longer a party man, I am no longer a faction man. I am everybody's man. A man of the people." The president-elect thanked his fellow party members Gideon Sa'ar and Haim Katz, as well as members of competing factions: "I also thank my friends Eli Yishai and Shelly Yachimovich, we prove that despite our differences we can live together as one united society."
Outgoing President Shimon Peres offered congratulations to Rivlin saying that he deserved the post of president but playfully reminding him that he would now have to consider all his words carefully. Rivlin's opponenet Sheetrit noted that the victory was an honorable outcome. Head of the opposition Yitzhak Herzog announced full support from his side of the partisan divide saying, "I'm convinced that you will be an excellent president and give voice even to those whose opinions differ from yours." Before Rivlin's speech, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated him, saying, "You are tasked with two great missions: To unite all the layers and components of society from within and to represent the State of Israel to the rest of the world."Netanyahu told his fellow faction member that "Israel is the most challenged country on the face of the Earth. We have managed to curb the threats to our existence to this day and to develop this country and take in millions of olim. We have built a glorious state here, but we cannot rest on our laurels."

Obama backs the wrong horse, again
By: Dan Calic/Ynetnews/Published: 06.10.14/
Op-ed: No one should be surprised that US is willing to work with Palestinian unity government.
No one should be surprised the US government is "willing to work" with the new unity government announced by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Nor should we be surprised at US Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement indicating that the "Palestinian government has no Hamas members."
Also unsurprisingly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out at the American administration, saying he is "deeply troubled" by the decision to accept the new government.
The reason we shouldn’t be surprised at any of this is because it’s part of a familiar pattern which has been in place since the Obama administration took office in 2008.
Obama made it clear from the moment his address became 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that US relations with the Muslim world were going to change. Indeed, his first international speech was delivered in Cairo, where he spoke eloquently about the "sweetest sound on earth," being the Islamic call to prayer in the morning.
During the so-called "Arab Spring," he tossed Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, a 30 year ally of the US, under the bus faster than you could blink an eye. He then staunchly defended the takeover of Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood.
After a year of attempting to take Egypt back to fundamental Islamic rule, the people rose up against Mohamed Morsi and the army removed him from office. He has been incarcerated on a number of charges ever since. Ironically, when the same "voices of the people" that Obama championed against Mubarak lashed out against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama voiced concern about the "democratic process" not being followed.
I am not suggesting Mubarak exemplified the best type of leadership. However, he maintained steady relations with Israel and was a stabilizing force in the region.
Since Morsi was ousted, Egypt has questioned the commitment of the US. Consequently they turned to Russia for a huge arms deal. Egyptian-US relations remain uneasy as a result of Obama.
On wrong side of every important issue
How about US-Saudi relations? When Obama made it clear he was prepared to negotiate with Iran regarding their rogue nuclear program, this raised eyebrows in the region, most notably in Riyadh. The Saudi royal family and the ruling Shiite ayatollahs of Iran have long disliked each other. With Obama willing to soften sanctions against Iran, this sent a message to the Saudi’s that the US was on a new course. They openly began to question Obama’s commitment.
Consequently, the Saudis and Israel entered into a new era of covert understandings, since they share a mutual enemy – Iran.
Next, the Syrian crisis. On a humanitarian level it’s staggering. Over 160,000 lives have been lost. However, it’s important to understand who the players are. Those trying to overthrow President Assad are a collection of Islamists, who if they gained power would take Syria back to fundamental Islam, under Sharia Law. Many of them are either al-Qaeda members, linked to them or get support from them.
By this I am not suggesting the just re-elected Assad is a good guy. However, this scenario is clearly the lesser of two evils. With respect to regional stability as well as relations with Israel, Assad is the better bet. However, once again as was the case in Egypt, Obama is backing the Islamists.
These are merely three examples of Obama’s pro-Islamist policies in the Middle East.
With respect to Israel, it’s been clear since day one his "unshakable commitment to Israeli’s security" has been anything but. For example, at one point he threatened to expose a 40-plus year confidential understanding the US had with Israel regarding official acknowledgment of its nuclear capability. He also interrupted what had been routine travel for Israeli scientists between Israel and the US.
He once went so far as to blackmail Israel by suggesting his effort to curb Iran’s nuclear program would depend on how flexible Israel was with the Palestinians.
On a personal level, it’s clear there is no love lost between him and PM Netanyahu. Remember when he shuffled Netanyahu through a White House side door and left him alone for dinner, after he had just warmly welcomed Mahmoud Abbas with full press and diplomatic protocol?
Let’s not forget how he sabotaged Netanyahu when he was en route to Washington in 2011 by making a speech to Congress demanding Israel return to the '67 lines. Congress was so incensed with him that when Netanyahu spoke to a joint session just days afterward, they gave him 30 standing ovations, and leadership of both parties publically disagreed with Obama’s '67 border speech.
Why am I bringing all these issues up? To remind us why no one should be surprised that the US is willing to work with the Palestinian unity government.
Keep in mind they are desperately trying to keep the "peace process" alive. They believe their decision prevents it from total collapse. Obama also knows the coalition Netanyahu has is not as strong as it once was. He may hope those who oppose him will mount an effort to force Netanyahu to accept the Hamas-backed unity government. Indeed, MK Meir Cohen of the Yesh Atid party has stated that if peace talks are not renewed, "we will not be in the government."
As for the make-up of the unity government, while it may be correct to say "it has no Hamas members," one doesn’t have to belong to Hamas to agree with its views. The fact that thus far they aren’t objecting to the government is quite telling. Time will tell if this arrangement survives.
With respect to Obama’s track record in the Middle East, he has shown himself to be on the wrong side of virtually every important issue. As of the moment, and on this issue, the status quo remains unchanged.