LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/Keep Your tongue from evil, and You lips from speaking deceit
Peter's First Letter 3/10-12: " For He who would love life, and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil, and do good. Let him seek peace, and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears open to their prayer; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For June 23/14
Remember lessons of first Lebanon War/By: Ron Ben-Yishai/Ynetnews/June 23/14
Chaos in the states of Iraq and Syria/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya/June 23/14
Convergence between Obama, Rowhani to pressure Maliki/By: Raghida Dergham/Al Arabiya/June 23/14
Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For June 23/14
Lebanese Related News
Berri calls for security recruitment boost
Salam: Breakthrough on governing mechanism
Beirut festival draws crowd despite tense situation
Women make the best presidents: director
Lebanon is not about to fall back into the abyss
Five detained after Broumana prostitution bust
Fadlallah’s office sets June 28 as Ramadan start
UAE reissues Lebanon travel advisory
Hezbollah hails security forces' response
Report: Hariri-Jumblat Meeting Fails to Achieve Breakthrough over Elections
Report: French-Arab Arrested during Hamra Raid
5 Suspected Terrorists Held in Bekaa, Including Cousin of Haret Hreik Bomber
Ibrahim: Lebanon Not Isolated Island from Regional Unrest
Abductee Freed, Grenade Kills Man in Arsal as 2 Syrians Shot in Baalbek
Two Families Clash in al-Beddawi, Forcing Closure of Key Tripoli Road
Kerry to meet with Hariri in Paris
Mufti: No ISIS in Tripoli
Miscellaneous Reports And News For June 23/14
Netanyahu in first comments on Iraq: US should try to weaken both ISIS and Iran
Kerry presses Sisi to build inclusive Egypt
Iran rejects U.S. action in Iraq, ISIS heads east
Israeli teenager killed in blast on Golan Heights
U.S. dream for Iraq has failed. Time for plan B
Israel Strikes Syria After Missile Attack Kills Teenage Boy
Hamas warns of third intifada amid West Bank raids
Israeli Pm says Abbas’s condemnation of Hamas kidnappings was ‘good’
Syria army battles rebels in Damascus foothills
Quebec woman's jailed Saudi husband faces whippingIranian Double standards
Lebanon is not about to fall back into
June 23, 2014/By Antoine Ghattas Saab/The Daily Star
Friday’s suicide attack came as no surprise to security experts. In fact, the car bomb that went off at a checkpoint in Dahr al-Baidar on the main Beirut-Damascus highway, killing an ISF member and wounding 32 people, was expected. Among experts who have been monitoring the current regional turmoil, most were bracing themselves for something that would damage the understanding between the various Lebanese political parties that earlier this year resulted in the formation of a government after months without one.
Lebanon is currently experiencing the calm before the storm, and this year’s events seem likely to prove that the country cannot dodge threats from regional terrorist organizations.
Western security forces, especially Americans, see the Syrian crisis as a serious threat to the region, especially given that it has instigated religious rifts among the region’s Sunnis and Shiites.
The deteriorating situation has also been exacerbated by the huge influx of Syrian refugees to neighboring countries, posing a further threat to regional stability.
For some observers, Israel is the primary beneficiary of everything that’s happened. Prior to Friday’s suicide bomb, Mossad – Israel’s secret service – released a document detailing plans by Al-Qaeda-affiliated group the Abdullah Azzam Brigades to “most likely” assassinate the director general of General Security, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim.
By leaking this report, sources explain, Israel has managed to dash Lebanon’s hopes of a fruitful tourism season, something the Lebanese were relying on to revive the country’s troubled economy.
However, with the exception of Friday’s attack, the last month has gone according to plan, with sources explaining that a proactive plan has seen security forces arresting major terrorist suspects and fundamentalist groups. Although forces weren’t able to prevent Friday’s attack, sources do believe that authorities deserve to be praised. Security forces have seen a remarkable success in maintaining peace and stability by detecting groups whose aim is to destabilize the country. For instance, Friday’s raids of two hotels in Hamra by security forces saw 17 men arrested for suspicion of involvement in a plot to assassinate Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. The same thing goes for Lebanon’s intelligence apparatus. Despite its limited financial and material capabilities, it has been on high alert, and this has pushed some Western countries to consider strengthening the agencies that have proved to be vital for the country’s national security.
Investigations of terrorism networks has led to collaborations between the Lebanese security forces and Arab and Western ones, a coordination that helps to combat imminent dangers posed by terrorist groups. In essence, sources said Dahr al-Baidar’s attack didn’t indicate that the security situation in Lebanon would return to the way it was before Prime Minister Tammam Salam formed his government. Instead, security will continue to be controlled, especially given the cooperation between security forces and the judiciary system.
However, one source emphasized, this should motivate the various factions to work on resolving their political issues. Everything begins with electing a consensus president, reactivating the country’s intuitions and reviving the Baabda Declaration, which calls for insulating Lebanon from the turmoil in the region, the source said, all of which are essential for Lebanon’s stability.
5 Suspected Terrorists Held in Bekaa,
Including Cousin of Haret Hreik Bomber
Naharnet /Five people were arrested on Sunday in the Bekaa region on suspicion of plotting an act of terror. “Army intelligence agents apprehended a group of five people who were plotting a terrorist act,” state-run National News Agency reported. “They were referred to the relevant judicial authorities and an investigation is underway,” NNA added. Meanwhile, Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) said the army arrested “five Lebanese and Syrian gunmen, among them Omar al-Satem, who were en route to Arsal.” It described al-Satem as “one of the most dangerous fugitives,” saying the militants were arrested a checkpoint in Baalbek on suspicion that they were plotting an act of terror. Later on Sunday, the Army Command issued a statement saying the five suspects were arrested at the Hrabta-al-Labweh checkpoint in coordination with the intelligence directorate. It identified the detained men as “Lebanese nationals Omar Mnawer al-Satem -- a cousin of the terrorist Qutaiba al-Satem who had blown himself up in Haret Hreik – and Ibrahim Ali al-Braidi, in addition to the Syrians Atallah Rashed al-Berri, Abdullah Mahmoud al-Bakkour and Jawdat Rashid Kammoun.” The statement said they were arrested on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization. Meanwhile, al-Satem family, which hails from the northern region of Wadi Khaled, issued a statement clarifying that Omar Mnawer al-Satem who was arrested by the army “is not the fugitive wanted by the Lebanese state” and that the name of his mother is Suad. “The fugitive is called Omar Ahmed al-Satem and the name of his mother is al-Sheikha,” the family clarified. On Friday, a suicide car bombing rocked an Internal Security Forces checkpoint in the Bekaa area of Dahr al-Baydar, killing an ISF member and wounding over 30 people. The blast went off only 200 meters away from the convoy of General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim but it is still unclear if he was the target of the attack. On the same day, the busy Hamra district in Beirut was the scene of a major security crackdown, with security forces raiding two hotels in the area and interrogating around 102 people. The majority of suspects were freed but investigations are ongoing with three of the individuals who were arrested at one of the hotels, reported the daily al-Mustaqbal on Sunday.It said that one of the suspects is a French national with Arab origins.
Salam: Breakthrough on governing
June 23, 2014/By Hussein Dakroub/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam said Sunday a breakthrough had been made in the mechanism governing government work, a move that sets the stage for a Cabinet session this week. “The thorny issue of the mechanism governing the Cabinet’s work has been resolved,” Salam told reporters on the plane that flew him to Kuwait for a one-day official visit.
Separately, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet former Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Paris Thursday, the Saudi daily Al-Hayat reported Sunday. The planned meeting comes a few days after Hariri had met at his residence in Paris with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt, with whom he discussed the presidential election stalemate.
Salam stressed the importance of consensus among the 24 ministers on Cabinet decisions, refusing to give details of the governing mechanism that had threatened to paralyze government work.
“The problem arises when we make decisions outside the framework of consensus while putting aside every divisive matter. I am committed to this matter [consensus],” he said.
“Consultations are an essential part of our work in this difficult period because our goal is to shoulder responsibility in the best way in order to limit all divisive issues,” he added.
Later, speaking at a news conference in Kuwait after holding talks with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah and Parliament Speaker Marzouk Ali Ghanem, Salam said Cabinet would meet this week following a breakthrough in the governing mechanism.
Salam, accompanied by a ministerial delegation, arrived in Kuwait Sunday morning. In addition to bilateral relations, the talks focused on addressing a number of issues, particularly the influx of more than a million Syrian refugees into Lebanon. Salam told reporters that the purpose of his visit to Kuwait was to “thank our Kuwaiti brothers for their moral and financial support for Lebanon.”
He said he would brief Kuwaiti officials about the situation in Lebanon, mainly regarding the Syrian refugee crisis. “Lebanon has unconditionally welcomed refugees from Syria,” he said. “But today there is a need to support the Lebanese and the Syrians to bear this burden.”The Cabinet did not meet last week apparently due to a row over a mechanism to exercise its full executive powers, including the president’s prerogatives, during the vacuum in the presidency. Lebanon plunged into a presidential vacuum following Parliament’s failure to choose a successor to former President Michel Sleiman, whose six-year term ended May 25. Since May 25, the Cabinet has failed in three sessions to agree on a mechanism to govern during the presidential void.
Ministers from MP Michel Aoun’s bloc and Hezbollah’s bloc refuse to discuss any of the 25 items on the Cabinet agenda before an agreement is reached on a mechanism to govern its work.
While Salam had agreed to send the Cabinet agenda to the ministers 72 hours before scheduled sessions, the ministers remained at odds over whether Cabinet decrees needed the signatures of all 24 members, only two-thirds or half of them. Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas told MTV an agreement over the governing mechanism had been reached under which some ministers would be authorized to sign Cabinet decrees on behalf of the president. Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said in remarks published by Al-Mustaqbal newspaper Sunday that he expected this week to be “a week of a political breakthrough to be translated into a consensus on a government mechanism because everyone is aware of the dangers of the current stage.”
Sources close to Salam said the premier would call the Cabinet to meet at the Grand Serail Thursday.Salam said the presidential void has caused “political suffering” in the country, adding that efforts should be stepped up to swiftly elect a new president. “There is a political struggle [over the presidency] which we hope will lead to the election of a president,” he said at the news conference in Kuwait.
The lawmakers’ failure to elect a president has raised fears of a prolonged vacuum in the presidency, an issue that has already paralyzed Parliament legislation and is casting its shadow on government work.
Following Parliament’s failure in two separate sessions last week to elect a new president and discuss the public sector’s salary scale bill due to a lack of quorum, Speaker Nabih Berri has warned that the disruption of Parliament sessions on the pretext of the presidential void would lead to the disruption of Cabinet sessions.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah indirectly blamed the March 14 coalition for obstructing the presidential election with their refusal to elect Aoun, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, for the country’s top Christian post. Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah slammed March 14 lawmakers for boycotting Parliament sessions on the pretext of the presidential vacuum. “During the [presidential] vacuum, the mother institution, Parliament, should not be disrupted at all because this would lead to obstructing the people’s interests and to social unrest,” Fadlallah told a memorial ceremony in south Lebanon.
“The ones responsible for this [presidential] vacuum are those who refuse to elect the one who, by virtue of his political, popular and parliamentary support, deserves to be president,” he said, in a clear reference to Aoun, Hezbollah’s key Christian ally. Although Aoun has not yet announced his candidacy for the president, he is considered as the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition’s undeclared candidate.
For his part, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai called for Christian-Muslim collaboration for the building of a pluralistic society and a culture of moderation in Lebanon.
“We acknowledge the role assigned to us as Christians, [which is] to continue, with our Muslim brothers, the construction a culture of moderation, acceptance of the different others, freedom of religion and belief and pluralism in the age of globalization,” Rai said during his Sunday Mass in Bkirki. Rai prayed for the protection of the “Lebanese society” from “the evil of those who mess with its security and institutions and from the phenomenon of violence and car bombs.” The patriarch talked about two extreme doctrines endangering pluralistic societies around the world, including Lebanon.
From one side, there are “religious [political] systems that seek to eliminate the others and to impose their faith, traditions and laws on them,” he said. On the other hand, Rai added, “there are the secular atheist systems that dismiss God from the life of the society and state, legitimizing whatever they want, regardless of God’s natural law.”
UAE reissues Lebanon travel advisory
June 22, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: The United Arab Emirates Sunday warned their nationals not to stay in or travel to Lebanon in light of the dangerous security situation, according to Elnashra.com website, only a month after loosening the previous advisory. The Gulf state called on its nationals in Lebanon to “immediately leave [the country] by contacting and collaborating with the embassy in Beirut.”
Hamad Mohammad al-Juneibi, charge d’affaires at the UAE Embassy in Beirut, said the warning “comes out of the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s concern over the safety of its nationals abroad.”
He called on all citizens to “completely adhere to this warning until any further notice [is issued].”The warning came after a terrorist suicide bombing targeted Friday an Internal Security Forces checkpoint on the Beirut-Damascus highway at Dahr al-Baidar in east Lebanon. The bombing, which killed a police officer and injured 33, coincided with a police raid on two hotels in Beirut's Hamra district, after security agencies received information that an Islamist group was preparing to assassinate Speaker Nabih Berri.
Ibrahim: Lebanon Not Isolated Island
from Regional Unrest
Naharnet/General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim warned that Friday's suicide bombing against a security forces checkpoint in the Dahr al-Baydar region in the eastern Bekaa was not a “verbal warning, but an actual terrorist attack,” reported the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat on Sunday. He told the daily: “We are in a constant battle with the terrorism that is targeting the region and not just Lebanon. Lebanon is not an isolated island, but it falls within the grasp of takfiri or Zionist terrorism, which are both two sides of the same coin.”“We must therefore remain diligent and in a constant state of alert in order to prevent the enemy from taking us by surprise,” he stressed. “Friday's attack should serve as a warning to the security agencies and the Lebanese people to remain constantly diligent to combat terrorist attacks to preserve our security and safety,” Ibrahim added. “Yes, we are connected to region and the terrorists in the area are trying to transfer their battle to our land. They will not exempt anyone from their harm,” he remarked. “This is the war we are waging and we will be victorious, God willing,” said the General Security chief. “Coordination is ongoing with western and Arab security agencies to combat terrorism because it is a global problem,” he revealed. A member of the Internal Security Forces was killed and at least 30 people were wounded in a car bombing that targeted an ISF checkpoint in the Dahr al-Baydar area on Friday. Media reports had speculated that Ibrahim was a target after his convoy had passed the hit area shortly before the attack.
Hezbollah hails security forces'
response to Friday's suicide bombing
June 22, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: Hezbollah MPs Sunday praised the security forces’ efforts in the last few days, saying that Friday's suicide bombing was one of the vestiges of a terrorist attack on Lebanon and the region, the National News Agency reported. “What the security forces did deserves our applause, and there is improvement, evolution and progress in the forces’ performance,” Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Ali Fayyad said. Fayyad, who spoke at the one-year commemoration of martyr Wassim Ali al-Azzi, described Friday’s suicide bombing as a consequence of the “savage terrorist attacks targeting the region.” He stressed on the need to parallel the security forces’ improvement with “political improvement.”“What I mean by political improvement is that we all deal with security as a priority for the sake of which we should all cooperate, regardless of the different political affiliations,” he added. In parallel, the head of Hezbollah’s bloc, MP Mohammad Raad, said that what happened Friday was the residue of a terrorist plan in the region. “The bombing that occurred in Dahr al-Baidar is from the remains of what could penetrate into Lebanon and settle in our regions, neighborhoods and countries,” he said. Raad said the terrorist organizations’ plans had failed, so they are now subject to exploitation by different interests. “Since their arrow’s head has been broken, they are now moving according to orders they receive, and they are used for others’ interest,” he said. “The takfiri terrorists plan to sow evil and spread civil war and internal fighting in Lebanon,” Raad added. “They are subject to the will of their regional masters,” he continued, “who [seek] to retrieve Syria, Iraq, Egypt and all the countries that have deviated from their political line back into their reckless policies.”
Raad said that Lebanon had overcome the strategic threat to its security and the Israeli threat to its sovereignty. “Even though skirmishes will continue, the situation is still under control,” he said. “Hence, no one should be afraid, because things are being followed up carefully and with high readiness and wisdom.”He called for collaboration among the security agencies to diminish as far as possible any perturbing actions, hailing what they had done so far in this concern. He denounced the plan to assassinate Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri as “craziness,” “especially in such a difficult era of our country’s history when no one [else] can keep the balance between different [parties].” “There are some in Lebanon who applaud and work for such goals to be achieved,” he said concerning Berri’s assassination plan. On Friday morning after receiving a tip-off that a group of Islamists planning an assassination plot against Speaker Nabih Berri were in a Beirut hotel, a joint raid by the ISF's Information Branch and General Security resulted in the apprehension of 17 people. Berri was to speak during a conference at UNESCO Friday morning. Western intelligence informed security agencies in Lebanon of an imminent terrorist attack against the gathering, prompting the speaker to cancel the event altogether, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk has said. Hours later, a suicide car bombing hit a police checkpoint in east Lebanon, killing a 49-year-old ISF officer and wounding 32 other people. Authorities say the target of the attack was a location in Beirut.
Berri calls for recruitment boost by
June 23, 2014/By Hussein Dakroub /The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Military intelligence arrested two Lebanese and three Syrians Sunday in east Lebanon on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist group, in the Lebanese Army’s latest crackdown on terror, a senior military official said. “Sunday’s arrests are as part of the ongoing war against terrorism launched by the Lebanese Army and other security forces,” the military official told The Daily Star. “This war against terrorism will go on. Terror groups will not be allowed to destabilize the country,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Prime Minister Tammam Salam, meanwhile, reassured Gulf states during a visit to Kuwait Sunday that the security situation in Lebanon was under control despite a suicide bombing at a police checkpoint on the Beirut-Damascus highway last Friday that fueled fears of violent spillover from Syria and Iraq. A police officer was killed and 33 people were wounded in the bombing. For his part, Speaker Nabih Berri, commenting on an alleged plot to assassinate him and carry out bombings in Lebanon, was quoted by visitors as saying he would prod the government into recruiting 3,000 members for the Army, and 1,000 members for each of General Security and the Internal Security Forces in a bid to beef up security. “Even if this matter is costly, it will be less costly than the loss of the tourism season from which tens of thousands of Lebanese and Lebanese families make a living,” he said. “This investment in security will prompt terrorist groups and anyone who thinks of attacking Lebanon to think a thousand times before embarking on these acts,” Berri was quoted as saying.
The speaker, according to the visitors, said the source of information about alleged terrorist attacks in Lebanon was the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, as evidenced by U.S. Ambassador David Hale canceling three meetings last Friday when Lebanon went on high security alert. Berri voiced fears the fallout of the attacks in Iraq might reflect negatively on the presidential election.
Earlier, the Army said in a statement that five men, two Lebanese and three Syrians, were arrested at the Harbta-Labweh checkpoint in the Baalbek region on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist group.
“An Army patrol, in coordination with Army Intelligence, arrested at 1 p.m. Sunday Omar Mounawer al-Satem and Ibrahim Ali al-Breidi, two Lebanese, and Syrian nationals Atallah Rashed al-Barri, Abdallah Mahmoud al-Bakkour and Jawdat Rashid Kammoun on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization,” the statement said. It added that Satem was the cousin of Qutaiba al-Satem, who blew himself up in a suicide bombing in the southern suburb of Haret Hreik in January 2014. The five have been handed over to the relevant authorities for interrogation, the statement said.
The state-run National News Agency said the five men were plotting “a terrorist act.” A security source told The Daily Star that the five men from Arsal riding a minibus were arrested at a checkpoint in Harabta, as they were reportedly heading to Arsal hills to provide Syrian rebels with aid. The arrests came two days after the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch and General Security raided two hotels in Beirut’s Hamra district, arresting 17 people suspected of planning a terrorist attack in Beirut.
Only three are being held for further interrogation while the rest have been released for lack of evidence. Lebanese authorities had received a tip-off that a militant group was planning to assassinate Berri. Western intelligence informed Lebanese security agencies of an imminent terrorist attack against a gathering, prompting Berri to cancel a conference he was scheduled to speak at in UNESCO in Beirut, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said.The hotel raid came shortly before the suicide attack at the police checkpoint in Dahr al-Baidar. “Investigation into the Dahr al-Baidar explosion is focusing on identifying the suicide bomber,” a judicial source told The Daily Star. Security sources said the car bomb that exploded in Dahr al-Baidar was one of three bomb-rigged vehicles which authorities are trying to uncover. Also, security forces are searching for a truck carrying three tons of explosives, the sources said. ISF chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous, who visited the family of slain ISF officer Mahmoud Jamaleddine, 49, in the village of Saadnayel to extend his condolences, said investigation into the bombing was ongoing seriously and with “complete secrecy.” He inspected officers and ISF members at the Dahr al-Baidar checkpoint, promising to reinforce it.
Salam reassured the jittery Lebanese and Gulf states, concerned about the return of car bombings, that the security situation in Lebanon was under control, describing the Dahr al-Baidar blast as a “passing” incident. He also said security forces were on high alert to maintain security and stability. “Security forces are on high alert and security and stability in the country are prevailing on a very wide scope,” Salam told reporters on the plane that flew him to Kuwait for talks with the Gulf state’s emir and prime minister. He said suicide bombings were hard to anticipate, adding that when the country was united on various levels – namely at the security level – the threat of suicide bombings was significantly diminished. Later, speaking at a news conference in Kuwait, Salam was told that the United Arab Emirates, citing security concerns, warned its nationals not to stay in or travel to Lebanon. “The security situation in Lebanon for a long time has not been stable as it is today in all Lebanese cities and areas,” Salam said. “The situation in Lebanon is stable in a healthy way.” He urged Arab Gulf citizens to spend the summer in Lebanon, saying the Dahr al-Baidar explosion was “a passing incident.” He called on the UAE to revoke its advisory to its nationals against traveling to Lebanon. “ Lebanon has gone through bigger and more difficult situations and life did not stop in Lebanon,” he said.
Noting that security forces have constantly been uncovering “terrorist and subversive networks,” Salam said: “I can objectively say and without exaggeration that the security situation is largely under control.”
Fadlallah’s office sets June 28 as Ramadan start
June 23, 2014/The Daily Star /BEIRUT: The office of the late Shiite preacher Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah announced Saturday that the first day of Ramadan would be June 28. In a statement, the office said the fasting month would begin Saturday June 28, based on precise astronomical calculations. Neither Dar al-Fatwa nor the Higher Shiite Council has announced the beginning of the month in which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, according to Islamic doctrine. Ramadan starts roughly 10 days earlier every year, due to the Islamic lunar calendar.
Israel struck nine Syrian targets in
response to boy’s death on Golan
DEBKAfile Special Report June 23, 2014/Israel carried out nine air strikes against Syrian military targets after midnight Monday, June 23, in retaliation for the missile attack which killed an Israeli boy, and injured two others a few hours earlier. They hit Syrian firing positions, its 90th Brigade command center in Quneitra and three battalions, using Spike NLOS (Tamuz) anti-tank missiles.
The IDF Spokesman called the strikes a direct response to ongoing cross-border aggression which culminated in Sunday's deadly missile attack. “We identified precise hits on the targets,” following “the gravest provocation which followed a series of terrorist attacks in recent months against Israel military positions in the border region in general and this area in particular.”
Muhammad Karaka, 12, from the Galilee village of Arraba was killed by a cross-missile rocket on the Golan Sunday afternoon, his father, a defense ministry contractor working on the Golan fence was seriously injured and a third person slightly hurt, when their truck was hit by a rocket.Israel reacted on the instant with tank fire into Syria, after which the IDF spokesman said that there would be a further response to the extremely serious incident.Muhammad Karaka was the first Israel to be killed in repeated cross-border fire in the more than three years of the Syrian civil war.
Netanyahu in first comments on Iraq: US should try to weaken both ISIS and Iran
By HERB KEINON/J.Post
Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, PM urges US not to allow Iran to dominate Iraq the way it dominated Lebanon and Syria.
Washington’s approach to the fluid situation in Iraq should be to try simultaneously to weaken both Iran and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
Netanyahu, speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, in his first public comments about the situation there, said that both the radical Shi’ites, led by Iran, and the radical Sunnis, led by al-Qaida and ISIS, are both enemies of the US. “When your enemies are fighting each other, don’t strengthen either one of them.
Weaken both,” he said.
Asked whether he thinks American air strikes against ISIS in Iraq, something currently under consideration, would strengthen Iran, Netanyahu advocated a dual course of action.
“One is to take the actions that you deem necessary to counter the ISIS takeover of Iraq,” he said. “And the second is not to allow Iran to dominate Iraq the way it dominated Lebanon and Syria. So you actually have to work on both sides. As I say, you try to weaken both. There are actions that could be taken.”He refrained, however, from giving specific suggestions.
In an apparent reference to concern that the US and Iran may cooperate, something that could conceivably lead to less Western vigilance to keep Iran from gaining nuclear arms, Netanyahu said that the worst outcome by far would be that Iran “would come out with nuclear weapons capability.” “That would be a tragic mistake,” he said. “It will make everything else pale in comparison. I think the ultimate and the most important goal in the Middle East is to make sure Iran does not have nuclear weapons capability because those weapons, unlike mortars and machine guns that can kill thousands and chemical weapons that kill tens of thousands, these weapons – nuclear weapons – could kill millions. That should be prevented at all cost.”
Asked directly if he is concerned that the US is softening its negotiating stance vis-a-vis Iran to get Tehran’s help on Iraq, Netanyahu responded that, “I hope they don’t come up with a bad deal.”
He then went on to describe what a “good deal” on Iran would look like, saying in praise of US President Barack Obama that “a good deal is actually what was negotiated by the United States and President Obama in the case of the chemical weapons in Syria. You haven’t solved the problem in Syria between Sunnis and Shi’ites, but you did remove the bulk of the weapons and soon all of the weapons, and the stockpiles.
You removed them.”
In contrast, he said, what is currently being discussed with Iran is removing most of the economic sanctions, and allowing Iran to keep most of its capabilities, including stockpiles of enriched uranium and the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons. “That’s a terrible mistake,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t come to pass, because I think this would change history. It would be a monumental mistake.
In the context of the world at large and the Middle East as it is today, this would be a tragic, tragic outcome.”
In Cairo on Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States wanted Iraqis to find an inclusive leadership to contain a sweeping Islamist insurgency, but Washington would not pick or choose who rules in Baghdad. Kerry was speaking at the start of a Middle East tour after talks in Cairo with Egypt’s new President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, which covered Western concerns over Egypt’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and the fallout of the crisis in Iraq.
Governments across the Middle East and beyond have been alarmed at the speed with which Sunni gunmen drove Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s troops out of large parts of northern and western Iraq and pushed toward the capital. The United States is sending 300 military advisers to Iraq, prompting Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to accuse Washington of trying to regain control of the country it once occupied and rule “by its stooges” - a charge Kerry denied. “The United States is not engaged in picking or choosing or advocating for any one individual, or series of individuals, to assume the leadership of Iraq,” he said. “That is up to the Iraqi people and we have made that clear since day one.”He said, however, that the US noted dissatisfaction with Maliki’s leadership by Kurds, Sunnis, and some Shi’ites and wants Iraqis to find a leadership “prepared to be inclusive and share power.”
At a joint news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, Kerry also defended US involvement in the Middle East when asked whether US policy had caused recent violence in Iraq and Libya. “What is happening in Iraq is not happening because of the United States in terms of the current crisis. The United States shed blood and worked hard for years to provide Iraqis the opportunity to have their own government.”Kerry, who is expected to travel to Iraq soon at the request of Obama, will also discuss possible oil disruptions from the Iraq conflict with Gulf oil producers this week, a senior State Department official said. “Egypt and the United States share the deep worries about the ongoing situation in Iraq and it is important that the two countries and their Gulf partners coordinate to face the challenges and risks,” Shukri said.
Remember lessons of first Lebanon War
By: Ron Ben-Yishai/Ynetnews/06.23.14,
Analysis: Endless cleansing and destruction operation against Hamas in West Bank will not serve State of Israel's interests.
At the time I write these words, the kidnapped boys have yet to be released. I hope this sentence will no longer be relevant when these words are read, but the rest of the article may still be relevant.
Alongside the patrol and extensive search, another military operation, a nameless one, is taking place in Judea and Samaria with the purpose of destroying the Hamas infrastructures. It is starting to remind those of us who have a good memory, like me, of the first Lebanon War, Israel's most unnecessary, foolish and ongoing war.
Analysis: With nothing left to lose, Hamas will hope to improve relations with Egypt while Israel will attempt to deal death blow to Palestinian terrorism.
Obviously, the present and the past are never identical. In order to justify the first Lebanon War, then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and Chief of Staff Refael Eitan used the assassination of Israel's ambassador in London. Although the Palestinian Liberation Organization led by Yasser Arafat was not involved in the assassination, the Israeli government used it as an excuse to "destroy the PLO's terror infrastructures" in southern Lebanon.
Now Israel is operating against Hamas' terror infrastructures based on information (credible information, we hope) that the organization is deeply involved in the abduction of the three teens. While the PLO was considered a national liberation movement, Hamas has been defined in the world as a fanatic Muslim organization. So the invasion of Lebanon was immediately condemned by most Western countries, while the actions against Hamas are welcomed by many.
Moreover, Begin, Sharon and Eitan were trigger-happy. They prepared the army for war and were only looking for a reason to start it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, on the other hand, are not rushing into war. The composition of the Netanyahu government is completely different from the Begin government: It has a solid sane majority.
And after presenting and detailing all these differences, there is still cause for concern today over the loss of decision makers' inhibition ability. Political and defense officials are already declaring openly that this is not a limited operation neither in its goal (finding the kidnapped) nor in time (until the Ramadan holiday). This is an evolving cleansing operation aimed at dealing Hamas a final blow. It will "last as long as it lasts"; months, years.
Such statements sound familiar: These were the words used by those who turned the 40-kilometer operation in southern Lebanon into a pointless war which lasted years.
Israel will not succeed in removing Hamas from the Palestinian Authority territories. It can deal it a painful blow, weaken it, crush some of its strongholds – but not erase its existence.
This organization is deeply rooted into the Palestinian reality, and the Palestinians themselves are the only ones capable of freeing themselves of its burden one day. There is no external force which could have blocked the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; this was done by the Egyptian army.
An endless cleansing and destruction operation in the territories will not serve the State of Israel's interests. It will reemphasize the brutal aspect of the Israeli military presence in the Palestinian Authority territories, it will make it difficult for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to cooperate with us, it will generate growing international criticism and strengthen the radicals.
A public denied the hope to free itself of the violent hand of an occupation army soon tends to join radical resistance and terror organizations.
Today the IDF's activity discourages terror; tomorrow it will serve as its catalyst. We must not reach that tomorrow. We should let a wounded, haunted and persecuted Hamas lick its wounds, and make sure that the Palestinian population feels disgusted by it and opposes its methods. Only then, Hamas' wounds will fail to heal.
In the Second Lebanon War, the Israeli government was wise enough to stop the fighting without the IDF "completely destroying" Hezbollah's infrastructures, and that it precisely why it had long-term, unprecedented strategic achievements. Now, under different circumstances, we are once again threatened by the danger of deteriorating to the cursed model of the first Lebanon War, although the lesson from that war is known and clear: It's easy to sink into swampy mud; it's very difficult to get out of it.
Chaos in the states of Iraq and Syria
Sunday, 22 June 2014
By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya
When the Syrian revolution began, many thought it would not last for one year; it would either be suppressed and quelled by the regime at an early phase or it would spread and eliminate the regime. Its beginning was simple. A few children were detained in Daraa after they wrote anti-regime graffiti on Feb. 26, 2011. The revolution soon spread as protests erupted across the country from Damascus to Homs to Hama. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad practically succeeded in taking the country hostage and he also involved everyone in a war on his behalf.
Roots of crisis in Iraq
In Iraq the crisis began in Ramadi and soon spread to Mosul and it's still in its beginning. Its parties are limited and its demands are clear. There are Sunni protesters from clans and the former military whose revolution is being exploited by the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).“Nouri al-Maliki wants to prolong the crisis in order to extend his time in power”If protests and confrontations last for more months, they will get complicated and escalate with time and more foreign parties will become involved. It will thus become difficult to predict which path it will take and how it will end. This is why if major players fail to contain the conflict today, tomorrow it will be more difficult. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki desires to prolong the crisis in order to extend his time in power. He's totally following in Assad's footsteps.
ISIS didn't fail to read the future when it called itself the "State of Iraq and Syria." The two countries have a mutual crisis as parts of their borders collapsed following attacks by the extremist ISIS and as government troops at the borders fled their posts. Syria and Iraq have become a land united by chaos for the first time in 100 years. The “League of the Righteous” and other extremist Shiite Iraqi militias are returning from Syria to Iraq to protect their areas and are thus leaving the regime of Bashar al-Assad to its fate. ISIS fighters, Sunni extremists, entered Iraq from Syria through open border crossings to support their comrades west of Iraq.
Chaos is expanding in the State of Iraq and Syria and superpower and regional nations have been forced to intervene. Meanwhile, Iraqi forces are dominated by their inability to address the situation. It's also unlikely that the new parliament will convene on time to choose its speaker and his deputies and that it will hold a second session to choose a prime minister. It has become unlikely because Maliki has made the situation difficult for his allies too. He threatens everyone, telling them that he's won the elections and that the people want him to suppress the revolt.
Without finalizing the new cabinet, which Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has urged, the situation may turn into a long-term civil war. The crisis has erupted at a time when Maliki's governmental term has come to an end. The government today is mainly a problem for the Shiite sect. The Shiites are the ones who can contain the crisis by not leaving it in Maliki's hands.
Maliki has been recently planning to stay in power for four more years. If he does, he will not eliminate Sunni protesters only but he will probably eliminate his Shiite rivals as well and rule the country in military style. The long duration of the struggle will lead to intra-Shiite and intra-Sunni struggles just like there are multiple fronts in Syria among the Free Syrian Army, Al-Nusra Front, ISIS, the Assad regime and its allies.
Convergence between Obama, Rowhani to pressure Maliki
Sunday, 22 June 2014
By: Raghida Dergham/Al Arabiya
There are two conflicting theories regarding the impact of the recent developments in Iraq, first on the future of Iran's regional role, including in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon; second, on the Iranian interior in the battle between moderates and hardliners; and third, on the nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 countries as well as on Iran's bilateral relationship with the United States. One of the two theories expects the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) to insist on not losing its foothold in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. This means that the IRGC would be more determined to fight the forces gathered against Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, cling on further to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and seek Hezbollah's help to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) at all costs. The IRGC would also prevent moderates in Iran from giving in to U.S. demands to get rid of Maliki to save the nuclear negotiations, and the desired bilateral relationship between President Barack Obama and President Hassan Rowhani.
The other theory sees, first of all, that the Iraqi uprising will defeat the Shiite Crescent project, since Sunni forces have taken over key areas, including border areas and crossings with Syria. Second, that this could result in the removal of Nuri al-Maliki, one way or another, followed by Bashar al-Assad, and possibly also the leadership of Hezbollah. Third, the Iraqi uprising could precipitate new region-wide developments involving Saudi Arabia and Iranian moderates, which would contain sectarian tensions and avoid Sunni-Shiite wars. Fourth, all this could advance nuclear negotiations between the West and Iran, and help Barack Obama push for qualitative reform in U.S.-Iranian relations. Examining the breathtaking developments in Iraq over the past ten days can help us analyze the situation, and determine whether it is part of the theory of escalation, partitioning, and deadly wars, or the theory of containment and correction of misguided paths.
“The Obama administration will not be able to extend support to Maliki as long as he persists with his intransigence”
On the surface, there seems to be an American-Iranian convergence over supporting the Iraqi government and army against ISIS, whose name initially dominated the Iraqi uprising. In effect, the uprising involves at least ten Iraqi factions, in addition to the Sahawat (Awakening) tribes and a spontaneous uprising against Maliki's exclusionary policies against Iraq's Sunni Arabs, whom he marginalized while monopolizing power. Therefore, the convergence between the U.S. and Iran, to the point of appearing as allies in Iraq and in supporting Maliki against the ISIS threat, is being frowned upon.
When examining the U.S. and Iranian positions more deeply, particularly in light of reports about a U.S. request to the Iranians for Maliki to be replaced, things seem a little different.
There are signs of convergence between President Barack Obama and President Hassan Rowhani, based on compelling Maliki to work with Sunni Arabs and Kurds to correct the situation and mend the problems that have arisen with it. Maliki's response has been that there is no room for an accord with Sunni Arabs and Kurds at present, and that the only course of action to be taken is a decisive military response. Within Iraq, there are Shiites who object to Maliki's accusations against the Kurds of backing ISIS, and consider this to be a strategic mistake. Some also blame him for underestimating the willingness of Iraq's Sunnis to establish Sahwat councils against ISIS similar to those established in 2007 to defeat al-Qaeda.
Things could develop in a way as to prompt Obama and Rowhani to work together to get rid of Maliki and find a replacement for him, though they might find themselves, in the battle to topple Maliki, facing the IRGC and the Quds Force led by General Qassem Suleimani, who has since rushed to Iraq to support Maliki.
The Obama administration will not be able to extend support to Maliki as long as he persists with his intransigence, not only because of his dictatorship and his transformation into a tyrant like Saddam Hussein, but also because Obama would be surrendering to hardliners in Iran and their desire to keep Maliki in his post, which would directly stoke sectarian war in Iraq and its surroundings.
Tension with Gulf states
Furthermore, Obama clinging to Maliki now would lead to the return of tension with Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, particularly that this would practically mean an alliance with the hardline Iranian elements in Iraq. In addition, any U.S.-Iranian alliance in Iraq today will not only be reprehensible, but will also be unacceptable for certain parties in the United States itself, in light of the ongoing nuclear negotiations that require firmness rather than acquiescence - a least in the view of these parties.
At the same time, there have been signs of differences between Sunni fighters and ISIS, which will become more and more of a pariah for the Iraqi Sunni community that rejects its extremism. These differences allow the Obama administration to distinguish between its insistence on defeating ISIS and its desire to encourage the emergence of Sahwat-style gatherings to combat Sunni extremism and terrorism.
This requires Barack Obama to pursue a careful policy with the Arab Gulf countries, because these countries will not support ISIS and its ilk for fear that things would get out of control, and that such groups would run amuck in the region and threaten the Gulf. However, these countries will not sit idly by and watch the battle for a new Iraq to end Maliki's authoritarianism and reduce Iranian hegemony. Obama must walk a tightrope in order not to side with a certain camp and appear as though he is a biased party in this key battle for Iraq.
U.S. and Iranian officials have held direct talks on the sidelines of nuclear negotiations in Vienna. In a rare move, they discussed the developments in Iraq and issues of "common concern" for Washington and Tehran, including the ISIS debacle, as spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department Marie Harf said. U.S. officials have rushed to declare that "We are open to continuing our engagement with the Iranians, just as we are engaging with other regional players on the threat posed by ISIS in Iraq," giving out the impression that the Obama administration has outsourced the task of running Iraq to Iran, as well as winning Syria and controlling Lebanon.
Some see that the events in Iraq have exposed Iran's failures in light of the fall of major Iraqi cities and the collapse of the Iraqi army following the Sunni uprising. They believe that the Iranian military machine is also unable to achieve real victory in Syria, no matter how much it seems as though Iran is accomplishing what it wants there, including keeping Bashar al-Assad in power. This segment of people believes that internal and regional political confusion is clear through the conduct of various Iranian leaders, especially with the approaching deadline of July 20 for the nuclear negotiations.
The shock of the Iraqi earthquake might be the worst possible development for Iran, which wants to negotiate from a position of strength. Suddenly, Iran found itself in a fragile situation that exposes its weakness in Iraq and also Syria. If the issue in Iraq was indeed an offensive by ISIS - as was said in the beginning - this would have been in the interests of Iran and its negotiations with the West. However, now that it appears ISIS is only one party that other factions have started to sideline, the situation is now the opposite, and it could adversely affect the Iranian side.
The United States would benefit from a weaker Iran in Iraq and Syria to get what it wants in the nuclear negotiations. The United States will not be able to ally with Iran against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and their ilk, because eliminating them can only come through Sunni Sahwat-style groups, and not by provoking and marginalizing Sunnis, or allying with Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
In Iraq, it is likely that Nouri al-Maliki will maintain his intransigence and reject political solutions, which will worsen military and sectarian battles. Iran has sway over Maliki. If the IRGC-led faction decides that this is its battle, then Iran would not abandon Maliki and would not back down in the face of the Sunni uprising. If Hassan Rowhani's faction prevails and Iran agrees to replace Maliki to save the nuclear negotiations, which would gradually cause the sanctions to be lifted from Iran and usher in a period of official rapprochement with the United States, then a new roadmap for Iraq may emerge on the basis of more autonomous regions rather than partitioning.
Syria’s crossings to Iraq
In Syria, Bashar al-Assad is waking up to the real prospect that he could not have imagined when he started feeling comfortable with his temporary victories and his reelection as president: Crossings to Iraq are of paramount importance, and they threaten those imaginary victories, because their seizure by disenfranchised Sunnis in Iraq and Syria will alter the military equations in the Syrian arena.
In Lebanon, it will not be easy for Hezbollah to intervene in Iraq as a military party in its battle on behalf of Iran, because Iraq is not Syria, and because geography makes the task more difficult and exposes Hezbollah's positions in Lebanon to further fragility and retaliation. Hezbollah will remain on alert in the Iranian command and control room, but it might have to make alliances to protect its back in Lebanon. For this reason, Hezbollah is seeking accords with the Future Movement for joint action toward repelling the likes of ISIS from Lebanon, in return for political concessions. For one thing, Hezbollah's leadership understands that the Future Movement resembles the Sahwat in Iraq in terms of its role in deterring radical groups, at least given its leading Sunni representation.
Anything can happen in this era of sweeping change in the Arab region, Iran and Turkey. Most likely, the nuclear talks will not be disrupted, regardless of whether a final deal will be sealed come July 20 or later on in the fall. The U.S. decision is to make those negotiations a success, because Obama wants a final agreement to be at the heart of his legacy. What is vague, however, concerns the Iranian regional ambitions and Obama's position on them. Clearly, Iran was until recently negotiating from a position of strength. Now, after the Iraqi earthquake, Iran is negotiating from a position of confusion.
**This article was first published in al-Hayat on June 20, 2014 and was translated by Karim Traboulsi.