June 26/14

Bible Quotation for today/The Samaritan Parable
Luke 10,25-37/Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, "Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend." Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’


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

A Sunni Hezbollah/By: Hanin Ghaddar/Now Lebanon/June 26/14

To Obama: Syria’s moderate opposition is the only option/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/June 26/14

What it takes to reconstruct Syria/By: Moataz al-Khayatt/Al Arabiya/June 26/14

How popular is ISIS/By: Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat/June 26/14


Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For June 26/14

Lebanese Related News

Suicide bomber strikes at Beirut hotel
Terror strikes Beirut hotel

Vehicle explosions in Lebanon since 2011

World calls on Lebanon to fill presidency quickly
Hariri Hits Back at Aoun, Urges Hizbullah to Withdraw from Syria

Christian dialogue essential for election: Hariri
Report: Dahr al-Baydar Explosives-Rigged Vehicle Prepared in Arsal
U.N., P5 Envoys Meet al-Rahi, Urge Speedy Election of President

Army Apprehends Terrorist Cell Planning to Assassinate Prominent Security Official
Reports: Army Arrests Asir's Cousin in Abra
Salam Says Security Situation and Baabda Vacuum Not Linked

Man Accused of Monitoring Streets of Beirut Apprehended

Officials: Salam Not Visiting Egypt Anytime Soon

Future: Hezbollah brought terror to Lebanon

Berri: Lebanese Should Avoid Differences to Confront 'Dangerous Situation'

Azzam Brigades to Hizbullah: You Won't Enjoy Safety until Security Returns to Syria, Lebanon People

Hizbullah Lauds 'Security Achievements', Urges 'Highest Levels of Vigilance'

Terrorist cell planned to kill security official

Hezbollah MP says party was “right” to fight ISIS
Activists protest Lebanese citizenship law

Fayrouz releases tribute to Rahbani

Academics arrested in n. Lebanon

Miscellaneous Reports And News For June 26/14

US: Syria may have struck in Iraq

ISIL strengthened on Syria border after Qaeda unit joins it

ISIS battle for Iraq air base as US advisers

Gaza rockets aim at Kurdish oil route via Israel. More security for Ashkelon and Eilat depots

Palestinian President Says Syria Election Helps to End War

Israel Army Presses Operation in West Bank, Arrests 17

Qaida Merges with ISIL at Syria-Iraq Border Town

Police: 4 Bombs in Cairo Metro Stations, at Least 2 Hurt

Egypt Christian Jailed for Insulting Islam

Emirates Suspends Flights to NW Pakistan over 'Security'

Russian Parliament Revokes Option to Invade Ukraine



An Important Rumor and report regarding today's Beirut Hotel Explosion
A very dangerous unconfirmed piece of news was circulated an hour ago on the net suggesting that Hezbollah and the SSNP (Syrian Social Nationalist Party) were behind the incident that occurred in one of Beirut's hotels this morning. The circulated news alleged that Hezbollah and the SSNP killed the Saudi tourist, Booby-Trapped his body and connected the wires to the Hotel room's door. Then they called the internal security informing about a suicide bomber in the hotel. When the Security forces arrived and opened the hotel room's door the explosion took place.


Suicide bomber strikes at Beirut hotel
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Wednesday, 25 June 2014
A suicide bomber blew himself up at a hotel in the Lebanese capital of Beirut Wednesday, wounding at least three members of the security forces, the third such attack in less than a week. A group named the Brigades of the free Sunni Muslims claimed responsibility for the evening attack at the Duroy hotel in the bustling district of Raouche and said “other of our mujahedeen brothers safely fled the area where the operation took place.”Members of Lebanon’s General Security were raiding the premises of the hotel, which is only meters from the Saudi Arabian embassy, when the blast occurred. At least three people, including a second suicide bomber, were arrested in the hotel raid, according to an Al Arabiya correspondent. Lebanon’s National News Agency said a suitcase set to explode was also located in the vicinity of the hotel and authorities had been dispatched to disable the device. Military Investigative Judge Saqr Saqr said at least three members of the security forces were wounded in the explosion which left the multistory building on fire. Ambulances could be heard rushing to the hotel, with reports of people still trapped. “We are coordinating with security forces to get into the hotel,” Lebanese Red Cross official Georges Kettaneh said. Meanwhile, security forces beefed up their presence from the airport road leading to the southern suburbs of Beirut, Hezbollah’s stronghold. Impact on tourism Wednesday’s is the third suicide attack in Lebanon and is expected to negatively affect the country’s tourism sector, already battered by the crisis in neighboring Syria. The most recent explosion comes only days after the UAE issued a travel warning to its citizens against traveling to Lebanon. Yo u can watch footage of the aftermath of the attack here.

Terror strikes Beirut hotel
Now Lebanon

BEIRUT - A suicide bomber detonated himself Wednesday evening during a security raid in the Duroy Hotel along western Beirut's seaside Raouche promenade, injuring a number of people in the latest terror attack to rock the country. An Arab-national suicide bomber detonated himself as General Security members raided the hotel, while another would-be bomber suffering from severe burn wounds was arrested following the blast, Lebanon's state National News Agency reported. Security forces cordoned off the Duroy Hotel to keep civilians at a distance as investigators swept the area for explosives and firefighters worked to extinguishing the fire in the third floor of the hotel. The NNA added that during their security sweep, investigators discovered an explosives-laden case.
A top Lebanese judicial official rushed to the scene of the blast and confirmed to reporters that one bomber killed himself while another was arrested during the raid. Government Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr added that three General Security members were injured in the explosion. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Nohad Mashnouq told reporters at the scene that the incident was a "preemptive strike from General Security because the suicide bomber wanted to detonate himself elsewhere." "The security measures that are being taken are preventing suicide bombers from reaching their targets," he added. Shortly after the blast, the Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigades claimed responsibility for the hotel explosion, and said that its other "mujahideen are now safely outside of the suicide operation area." "Our blessed operations will not spare [Hezbollah], the crusader army, or whoever else targets free mujahedeen," the little-known terror group posted on its @Ahrarsunab3lbek Twitter account.
However, Mashnuq said the group's responsibility claim was a "traditional statement that can neither be confirmed nor refuted."


Vehicle explosions in Lebanon since 2011
ALEX ROWELL/Now Lebanon/June 25, 2014
The violent fallout from the Syrian conflict has increasingly taken the form of vehicle explosions
Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in early 2011, Lebanon has witnessed a multifarious deterioration in security, as tensions between domestic supporters and opponents of the Bashar al-Assad regime have sporadically broken out into armed clashes, assassinations, rocket attacks and roadside bombings.
Moreover, since October 2012, the violent fallout from the civil war next door has increasingly taken the form of deadly vehicle explosions, including suicide bombings. After a lull between March and June 2014, these attacks have restarted, with two in the span of just four days in June. Many of the bombings have been claimed by extremist Islamist groups with links to al-Qaeda, such as Jabhat al-Nusra in Lebanon, who have declared their intention to continue targeting predominantly Shiite civilian population centers until Lebanese Hezbollah fighters withdraw from Syria; a demand the pro-Assad group has repeatedly rejected. All in all, a total of 148 people have been killed so far by 22 explosions.
Above are two graphics illustrating the timing, location, and outcome of each of these vehicle explosions. Should more occur in the future, NOW will update the graphics accordingly.
Editor’s note: This article was last updated on June 25, 2014, to include the Dahr al-Baidar and Tayyouneh bombings.

Hezbollah MP says party was “right” to fight ISIS
Now Lebanon/BEIRUT – Hezbollah MP Hussein al-Moussawi said that the latest military advances and terror attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham in the region proved the party right in its fight against terrorist organizations. “ISIS’ invasions in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have proven the rightness of Hezbollah’s decision to fight them in their strongholds,” Moussawi said on Wednesday.
He also stressed the “necessity to face this [takfiri] project and the current division battle,” after two car bombs ripped through the Dahr al-Baydar area in Beqaa and a southern Beirut suburb in less than a week’s time.


Army Apprehends Terrorist Cell Planning to Assassinate Prominent Security Official
Naharnet/The army intelligence detained the members of a terrorist network, who are suspected of planning to assassinate a high-ranking security official in the North, the military said in a communique issued on Wednesday. According to the statement, the army intelligence apprehended a terrorist cell in the Lebanese Qalamoun region. The network was seeking to assassinate a prominent security official in the North. The detainees were identified as: Wassim Ahmed al-Qass, Wissam Ahmed al-Qass, Dani Ahmed al-Qass, Amjad Nouhad al-Khatib and Nabil Kamel Bayda. “The army intelligence will continue to pursue suspects to arrest the remaining members of the cell and reveal their connections and schemes,” the statement said. Security forces began recently enforcing strict measures and carrying out raids in several areas after obtaining information on a plot to target hospitals and high-ranking security officials. On early Tuesday a suicide blast in Beirut's southern suburbs, Hizbullah's main bastion, killed a security officer and wounded 20 others. No one has claimed the attack, but an audio recording posted on YouTube by Abdullah Azzam Brigades said there would be more "strikes" if Hizbullah does not pull out of Syria. The bombing in Tayyouneh came three days after a suicide attack in eastern Lebanon that killed one person and wounded 30. The Abdullah Azzam brigades is an al-Qaida-linked group that has previously claimed responsibility for other Syria-related violence in Lebanon. Meanwhile, media reports said that the Anti-Terror Bureau apprehended overnight Wednesday Abdullah and Ahmed Salah Eddine, Wiam al-Mustapha, Mohammed Khaled Salah Eddine, Bilal al-Mustapha and Abdul Rahman al-Sayyed in Tripoli's al-Zahiriyeh area. Ahmed al-Mustapha meanwhile managed to escape.
The six men hail from the northern town of Fneideq and are charged with opening fire after the arrest of a man from the Zahraman family.
They are also charged with carrying out other security violations.

Reports: Army Arrests Asir's Cousin in Abra
Naharnet/The army intelligence arrested on Wednesday the cousin of fugitive Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir in Abra, a suburb of the southern city of Sidon, reports said. Abdul Rahim al-Asir was apprehended at the pharmacy where he worked, they said. Al-Asir went into hiding following deadly gunbattles with the Lebanese army in June 2013. Indictments were issued in February against him and 56 of his followers that called for the death penalty. The 45-year-old cleric, who supports the overwhelmingly Sunni rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, is still nowhere to be found along with pop idol Fadel Shaker. Al-Asir teamed up with Shaker, a onetime prominent singer, when around three years ago he began agitating for Hizbullah to disarm. Al-Asir's supporters opened fire on an army checkpoint near the cleric's headquarters in Abra in June last year. The attack and the fierce clashes that ensued left around 18 soldiers and more than 20 gunmen dead. The gunbattles concentrated in the area of the Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque, where Asir was a preacher, and nearby buildings in Abra.

Report: Dahr al-Baydar Explosives-Rigged Vehicle Prepared in Arsal
Naharnet/The gray Nissan Murano used in the bombing that targeted last week an Internal Security Forces checkpoint in the eastern town of Dahr al-Baydar was reportedly rigged with explosives in the eastern border town of Arsal, As Safir newspaper reported on Wednesday. The daily said that the army intelligence is investigating if any illegal border crossings between the Syrian town of al-Qalamoun and Arsal are still accessible or if the car was prepared with explosives in Arsal. It reported that the analysis of the telecom data indicates that the suicide bomber driving the Murano planned to target a high-ranking official in the attack. General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim had driven past the site of the explosion in his convoy shortly before the blast. According to the report, another booby-trapped vehicle was spotted in the area of Sawfar before it disappeared. The suicide attack killed one person and wounded 30 others. Early Tuesday another suicide blast in Beirut's southern suburbs, Hizbullah's main bastion, killed a security officer and wounded 20. No one has claimed the attack, but an audio recording posted on YouTube by Abdullah Azzam Brigades said there would be more "strikes" if Hizbullah does not pull out of Syria. The Abdullah Azzam brigades is an al-Qaida-linked group that has previously claimed responsibility for other Syria-related violence in Lebanon. The last explosion to hit Lebanon occurred on March 29. Earlier in the year, a series of car bombs struck Shiite areas across Lebanon, killing and wounding hundreds of people. Hard-line Sunni groups have claimed responsibility for those killings, saying they are meant to punish Hizbullah for supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

U.N., P5 Envoys Meet al-Rahi, Urge Speedy Election of President
Naharnet/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Wednesday held a meeting in Bkirki with U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly and the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. The meeting was held following an invitation from the patriarch. “The Patriarch underlined to us his concern about the continuing inability of Parliament to elect a President and the resultant vacancy in the office of the Presidency. We share that concern,” the envoys said in a statement recited by Plumbly after the meeting. “The process of selecting a new President must remain a Lebanese one. But Lebanon’s friends in the international community have a strong interest in its completion successfully, and as soon as possible,” added the statement. “At a time of conflict and instability in other parts of the region, and when Lebanon itself faces multiple economic, humanitarian and security challenges, a prolonged vacuum in the highest office of the Lebanese state would indeed be a matter of grave concern,” the envoys warned. They called on Lebanon’s leaders and members of parliament to “engage intensively to ensure the election of a President without further delay.”“Lebanon’s long standing democratic tradition and the challenges the country presently faces mean that this is indeed a matter of great importance to us all,” the statement said. Lebanon was plunged into a presidential vacuum after Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25 with rival political blocs still divided over a new leader. Over the past two months the parliament convened seven times to try to elect a successor to Suleiman but failed during the last six sessions due to a lack of quorum caused by a boycott by most of the March 8 forces.

PM Says Security Situation and Baabda Vacuum Not Linked
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam has said that Lebanon “enjoys stability” despite the latest suicide bombings that struck the country, adding that the vacuum at Baabda Palace was not causing the deteriorating situation. In remarks to the Kuwaiti al-Seyassah daily published on Wednesday, Salam said: “Lebanon is safeguarded and enjoys stability.” “Terrorist attacks could take place … they are not a permanent situation,” he said. The premier did not draw a link between the bombings in eastern Lebanon and Beirut, and the failure of the rival parties to elect a new head of state.“There is an incomplete political situation in the absence of a president,” Salam said. But he stressed that the vacuum at the presidential palace “does not mean” a deterioration in the security situation. “There is an agreement among the political parties to preserve the nation.” “Investment in security is something and the election of a president is something else,” the premier told al-Seyassah. Speaker Nabih Berri called for the recruitment of thousands of soldiers and security personnel to confront terrorists and help the army and security agencies thwart future attacks. The Lebanese authorities “should invest in security,” he was quoted as saying on Monday. Salam said that security issues are linked to agencies and the government. As for the election of a president, it is a political and constitutional matter. He reiterated that the vacuum in Baabda neither benefits nor harms political consensus or the division of shares between Muslims and Christians. Salam stressed however that the rivals parties should “continue to exert all efforts to hold the presidential elections as soon as possible.” Meanwhile, officials close to the premier told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that the different parliamentary blocs that are represented in the cabinet are holding consultations to resolve the differences on the government's work. The officials said the discussions have focused on a proposal to allow representatives of each bloc in the cabinet to sign decrees and decisions taken by the cabinet, which should exercise full executive authorities in the absence of a president. But An Nahar said that the plan to form a seven-member committee to sign the decrees on behalf of the other ministers has faced difficulties over reservations expressed by more than one party. The issue will become clearer during a session set to be held on Thursday.

Hariri Hits Back at Aoun, Urges Hizbullah to Withdraw from Syria
Naharnet/Head of the Mustaqbal Movement MP Saad Hariri on Tuesday snapped back at Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun over the latter's remarks on guaranteeing the “political security” of the former premier if he returns to Lebanon. “I don't need any political security when I decide to return to Lebanon as God protects everyone. General Aoun may have clarified what he meant but despite that his statement was inappropriate and should not be said to Saad Hariri or to any other Lebanese politician,” Hariri said in response to a reporter's question after meeting ex-president Michel Suleiman in Paris. “We have a path and we will continue it and it is based on Lebanon's unity and the interest of Lebanon which must come before anything else,” Hariri added. On June 17, Aoun said he is waiting for al-Mustaqbal movement to nominate him or endorse someone other than Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea for the presidency, revealing that he had told Hariri that he would guarantee his “political security” if he returns to Lebanon. “I told him that I can guarantee his political security if he returns to Lebanon but noted that I cannot guarantee it if I'm not in power,” Aoun said during a TV interview. On the issue of the stalled presidential election, Hariri said blocking the election of a new president is “a crime against the Lebanese.” “As a political movement, our stance is clear on the need for an inter-Christian dialogue so that viewpoints can be reconciled and a consensus becomes possible, especially that this post is for all Lebanese, but it is also a Christian post,” Hariri said of the country's top post.
“We call on everyone to truly think of Lebanon's interest, the Christians' interest in the Levant and the presidency's interest,” Hariri added. Asked about the latest bombings in Lebanon, the ex-PM described them as “a cowardly act by some groups who do not want the state in Lebanon,” urging the government and security forces to exert “serious” efforts to put an end to the renewed wave of attacks.
Hariri also called on Hizbullah to “withdraw from Syria and spare Lebanese these tragedies that we are witnessing.” “The fire will reach us if some parties are interfering in the Syrian or Iraqi affairs,” Hariri warned. One person was killed and at least 20 wounded when a suicide bomber detonated himself near an army checkpoint and a cafe in Tayyouneh at the entrance of Beirut's southern suburbs in the early hours of Tuesday. The car bombing came three days after a suicide attack in the east of the country which left one person dead and 30 wounded. That attack was the first in Lebanon since March.
Earlier on Tuesday, Hariri held talks in Paris with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. The talks tackled the latest developments in Lebanon and the region, said the former premier's press office in a statement. The meeting was attended by French Ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli.

Berri: Lebanese Should Avoid Differences to Confront 'Dangerous Situation'

Naharnet /Speaker Nabih Berri has urged the rival Lebanese parties to unite against the dangerous security situation in Lebanon, saying they should elect a president and activate state institutions.
“The situation is very dangerous particularly after what happened in Iraq” and the freeze in the rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, local newspapers quoted Berri as saying. The Lebanese should “unite … and steer clear of differences,” the speaker, who is also the head of AMAL movement, told visiting officials on Tuesday. “Muslims should become Christians and vice versa. Shiites should also become Sunnis and the other way around," he stressed. The officials spoke to the dailies that hit the newsstands on Wednesday, saying Berri called for the swift “election of a president and the activation of institutions particularly the parliament and the government.” The speaker's warning came after two suicide bombers struck different areas of the country in the past week. The authorities have arrested several suspected terrorists in raids in Beirut and the eastern Bekaa Valley. There are also mounting regional tensions over dramatic events in Iraq, where the al-Qaida splinter group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has seized large chunks of territory in the country's north and west. The troubling security jitters in Lebanon come amid a political crisis that has left the country without a head of state.
President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended on May 25 after the rival March 8 and 14 camps failed to elect a successor.

Azzam Brigades to Hizbullah: You Won't Enjoy Safety until Security Returns to Syria, Lebanon People
Naharnet/The Qaida-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades on Tuesday warned Hizbullah that its strongholds in Lebanon will not know safety if the party does not end its military intervention in neighboring Syria. “The targeting of your agent (General Security chief Abbas) Ibrahim and the (attacks) you witnessed in your Dahieh (region) only confirm that you will not enjoy safety until security returns to the people of Syria and Lebanon,” Sirajeddine Zureiqat, a fugitive Lebanese cleric who has been described as AAB's spokesman, said on his Twitter account. Zureiqat described his tweets as “comments on the latest incidents in Lebanon.” His remarks come one day after a suicide car bombing occurred near an army checkpoint and a packed cafe in the Tayyouneh area on the peripheries of Dahieh, a Hizbullah bastion, killing one person and wounding 20 others. Monday's attack was the second in four days. On Friday, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged car at a security checkpoint in the Bekaa area of Dahr al-Baydar, killing one person and wounding several others. Maj. Gen. Ibrahim's convoy was only 200 meters away from the blast, but it is still not clear if he was the target of the attack.
“The Iranian party (Hizbullah) ignores the fact that its aggression against the Sunni community in Syria and Lebanon has antagonized the Sunni community,” Zureiqat said. “But we tell the Iranian party: Your battle is not only with us anymore but rather with the Sunni community in Syria and Lebanon,” he added. Referring to the latest attacks, Zureiqat noted that Sunnis in Syria and Lebanon are seeking to “strike” Hizbullah, which “has brought this upon itself through its adventures in Syria.” “The latest bombings are clear evidence that your war is not against takfiri organizations as you claim, as the majority of Sunnis have started defending themselves with their own means,” the fugitive cleric added. Zureiqat had announced Abdullah Azzam Brigades' responsibility for the twin bombing that rocked the Iranian embassy in Beirut on November 19, 2013. Hizbullah's strongholds in Beirut's southern suburbs and the Bekaa have been recently targeted by around 10 deadly bombings, which were claimed by Sunni extremist groups who blamed the party for sending thousands of fighters into Syria to support President Bashar Assad's regime against rebels seeking to oust him.

Officials: Salam Not Visiting Egypt Anytime Soon
Naharnet/A trip to Egypt is currently not on the agenda of Prime Minister Tammam Salam, officials said in remarks published on Wednesday. The officials, who are close to Salam, told al-Liwaa newspaper that Salam is not planning to visit Cairo anytime soon although he is ready to accept official invitations that he receives from Arab and friendly countries. They also did not reveal if the prime minister would travel to any other Arab country. The remarks of the officials came after al-Joumhouria daily reported on Friday that Salam is scheduled to travel to Egypt soon to discuss the latest local and regional developments with top officials. It said that the premier is set to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, his counterpart Ibrahim Mahlab and Arab league chief Nabil al-Arabi.
Salam made a one-day official trip to Kuwait on Sunday. His first official visit since he took office on Feb. 15 was to Riyadh in May.

Hizbullah Lauds 'Security Achievements', Urges 'Highest Levels of Vigilance'
Naharnet /Hizbullah on Tuesday strongly deplored the suicide car bombing that rocked the Tayyouneh area at midnight, hailing “the latest security achievements” and urging the Lebanese to show vigilance. “Terrorism struck again last night in the Tayyouneh area, targeting entire Lebanon and its security, economy, people and institutions, which resulted in the martyrdom of one person and the wounding of several others, sowing destruction in a dear Lebanese region,” the party said in a statement. And as Hizbullah expressed its “deep distress over the continued criminal wave of terror against the country and its people,” it strongly condemned “this cowardly act and its perpetrators.”The party extended its warmest condolences to the family of slain General Security member Abdul Karim Hodroj, saying “he sacrificed his blood to rescue civilians after intercepting the criminal terrorist.”Hodroj had been driving home late on Monday with a colleague, Ali Jaber, when they saw a car driving against the traffic flow towards the packed Abou Assaf Cafe in Tayyouneh. Hodroj and Jaber stopped the driver and questioned him after he said his car key was broken but the suicide bomber blew up the vehicle when Jaber went to the closest army checkpoint to report his suspicions, as Hodroj stayed to ensure the man did not get away. As a result, Hodroj was immediately killed while around 20 other people were injured. Hizbullah lauded “the latest achievements of the relevant military and security agencies,” urging them to “continue their blessed efforts to foil criminal conspiracies and plots against Lebanon and the Lebanese.”The party called on the Lebanese to “show the highest levels of vigilance and responsibility to thwart the plans of those who are plotting against the country and its people.”Later on Tuesday, a leader of the Qaida-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades warned Hizbullah that it "will not enjoy safety until security returns to the people of Syria and Lebanon."Monday's blast was the second in four days inside Lebanon after several months of calm. Hizbullah's strongholds in Beirut's southern suburbs and the Bekaa had been earlier targeted by around 10 deadly bombings, which were claimed by Sunni extremist groups who blamed the party for sending thousands of fighters into Syria to support President Bashar Assad's regime against rebels seeking to oust him.

Man Accused of Monitoring Streets of Beirut Apprehended
Naharnet/Security agencies detained a Syrian national accused of monitoring a number of streets while he was on his way to the eastern border town of Arsal, An Nahar newspaper published on Wednesday. The man who is from Raad family was allegedly heading to Arsal to get paid for monitoring several streets in the capital Beirut. The suspect confessed that he was paid $300 for each information he presented. He also told security agencies that he was dealing with a man called Abou Mouhannad from the eastern Bekaa town of Majdel Anjar. Early Tuesday a suicide blast in Beirut's southern suburbs, Hizbullah's main bastion, killed a security officer and wounded 20 others. No one has claimed the attack, but an audio recording posted on YouTube by Abdullah Azzam Brigades said there would be more "strikes" if Hizbullah does not pull out of Syria. The bombing in Tayyouneh came three days after a suicide attack in eastern Lebanon killed one person and wounded 30. The Abdullah Azzam brigades is an al-Qaida-linked group that has previously claimed responsibility for other Syria-related violence in Lebanon.

Reports: Army Arrests Asir's Cousin in Abra
Naharnet/The army intelligence arrested on Wednesday the cousin of fugitive Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir in Abra, a suburb of the southern city of Sidon, reports said. Abdul Rahim al-Asir was apprehended at the pharmacy where he worked, they said. Al-Asir went into hiding following deadly gunbattles with the Lebanese army in June 2013. Indictments were issued in February against him and 56 of his followers that called for the death penalty. The 45-year-old cleric, who supports the overwhelmingly Sunni rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, is still nowhere to be found along with pop idol Fadel Shaker. Al-Asir teamed up with Shaker, a onetime prominent singer, when around three years ago he began agitating for Hizbullah to disarm. Al-Asir's supporters opened fire on an army checkpoint near the cleric's headquarters in Abra in June last year. The attack and the fierce clashes that ensued left around 18 soldiers and more than 20 gunmen dead. The gunbattles concentrated in the area of the Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque, where Asir was a preacher, and nearby buildings in Abra.

Police: 4 Bombs in Cairo Metro Stations, at Least 2 Hurt
Naharnet/Four makeshift bombs exploded within minutes of each other at three Cairo metro stations during morning rush hour on Wednesday, wounding at least two people, Egyptian police said. One bomb went off at the station of Ghamra, in central Cairo, while the others occurred at Shubra el-Kheima and Hadayek al-Kobba on the outskirts of the capital, a police official told Agence France Presse.
The explosive devices were "very primary" and of "low intensity," the official said. Militants have stepped up attacks in Egypt, mostly against security forces, since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 and the authorities launched a deadly crackdown on his supporters. The attacks come nearly a month after ex-army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who led Morsi's ouster, was elected president. Since Morsi's ouster, a crackdown on his supporters has left more than 1,400 people dead and seen at least 15,000 jailed, while hundreds have been sentenced to death in speedy mass trials that have sparked an international outcry. Agence France Presse

Qaida Merges with ISIL at Syria-Iraq Border Town
Naharnet/Al-Qaida's Syrian branch issued a loyalty pledge on Wednesday to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant at a tinderbox town on the Iraqi border, a monitor said. The merger is significant as it opens the way for ISIL to take control of both sides of the border at Albu Kamal in Syria and Al-Qaim in Iraq, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. ISIL -- which aspires to create an Islamic state that straddles Iraq and Syria -- has spearheaded an lightening jihadist offensive that has captured swathes of territory north and west of Baghdad this month. After months of clashes between the two sides, Al-Qaida's official Syrian arm the Al-Nusra Front "pledged loyalty to ISIL" in Albu Kamal, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. "The pledge comes amid advances by ISIL in Deir Ezzor province" in eastern Syria on the Iraqi border, Abdel Rahman told AFP. An ISIL jihadist confirmed the reports on Twitter, and posted a photograph showing an Egyptian Al-Nusra Front commander shaking hands with a ISIL leader of Chechen origin. Although both ISIL and Al-Nusra are rooted in Al-Qaida, the two have been rivals for much of the time that ISIL has been involved in Syria's civil war since spring last year. "They are rivals, but both groups are jihadist and extremists. This move will create tension now with other rebel groups, including Islamists, in the area," said Abdel Rahman.
An opposition activist in Albu Kamal told AFP via the Internet that "there is a lot of tension, and the situation is only going to get worse." Using a pseudonym for security reasons, Hadi Salameh also said the merger would "cause a big problem with the local tribes, who will not welcome this change". Another activist said the merger comes days after local rebel brigades who had been working with Al-Nusra signed a declaration excluding the official Al-Qaida branch from the Islamic court, which acts as the de facto authority in many rebel areas of Syria. "The loyalty oath (to ISIL) comes after tension between Al-Nusra and the local rebels," said the activist, Abdel Salam al-Hussein. He also said hundreds of thousands of people, including displaced families from neighboring Iraq as well as flashpoint areas in Syria, are living in Albu Kamal, and that it would be a "catastrophe" if fighting broke out in the town. Hussein said: "ISIL fighters are now positioned at the entrance of Albu Kamal, on the Iraqi side."Meanwhile, Deir Ezzor province's rebel spokesman Omar Abu Leyla warned "Albu Kamal is a red line", and that should ISIL fighters cross over from Iraq, the opposition "Free Syrian Army will fight them".
Rebels fighting ISIL and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad distributed amateur video footage of a rebel parade in Albu Kamal, which Abu Leyla described as a warning to the jihadists positioned just across the border. Abu Leyla meanwhile complained that "the FSA has received no external support at all, even though we are fighting ISIL."Also on Wednesday, the Syrian air force carried out air raids targeting ISIL-controled Raqa in the north of the country and Muhassen in the east. The Assad regime has rarely targeted ISIL bastions, except in recent days after the group and other Sunni militants launched an offensive in Iraq, wresting control of Mosul and other pars of Iraq. A Syrian government newspaper reiterated frequent regime claims that the United States and Israel are behind the rising violence, and that they are vying to "divide Syria along sectarian and religious lines". Agence France Presse

Russian Parliament Revokes Option to Invade Ukraine
Naharnet/Russia's upper chamber of parliament on Wednesday voted to scrap an earlier resolution allowing President Vladimir Putin to send troops into Ukraine, in a move Moscow says will help the peace process. Only one senator voted against Putin's Tuesday proposal to rescind the March 1 decision granting him the right to intervene in Ukraine to protect Russian speakers, while 153 voted in favor.

Egypt Christian Jailed for Insulting Islam

Naharnet/An Egyptian court has sentenced a Coptic Christian man to six years in jail for insulting Islam and stirring up sectarian strife in his village, his lawyer told AFP on Wednesday. Egypt's constitution outlaws insults against the three monotheist religions recognized by the state -- Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Kirollos Shawki, 29, was convicted Tuesday by a court in the southern province of Luxor, Mohamed Ahmed Abdelaal told AFP.He handed himself in to police at the end of May after tension flared between Christians and Muslims in his village in Luxor, because he posted a picture of Muslim prophet Mohammed with an insulting comment on his Facebook page, Abdelaal said. But a police official said the man was arrested along with six others who had hurled stones at his house after he posted the picture, and that the six were later released. Islam forbids the depiction of God or Mohammed. The court sentenced him to three years for "contempt of religion" and another three years for "stirring up sectarian strife," Abdelaal added. The man has appealed the verdict and should be freed on bail until an appeals court rules, his lawyer said. Copts, who comprise up to 10 percent of the country's 86-million population, are the Middle East's largest religious minority. They have long suffered sectarian violence including attacks on churches. Earlier this month, an appeals court in Luxor sentenced a female Coptic teacher to six months in jail after parents of her students accused her of evangelizing and insulting Islam. Parents had filed a complaint alleging that she had told her students that late Coptic pope, Shenuda III, was better than the prophet Mohammed. Agence France Presse

Palestinian President Says Syria Election Helps to End War
Naharnet /Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said in a letter to Bashar Assad that his election as Syrian president will help to end the country's three-year war, Damascus said on Wednesday.
"Your election to the presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic guarantees Syria's unity and sovereignty, and starts of a countdown to the end of Syria's crisis and its war against terrorism," Abbas wrote, according to the Syrian presidency's Facebook page. The letter was the strongest expression of support yet to Assad from the Palestinian president and from his Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since the outbreak of an uprising against the Syrian regime in March 2011. Since then, more than 162,000 people have been killed in a savage war that began as a peaceful protest movement, but which became militarized after the Assad regime unleashed a brutal campaign to crush dissent.Assad was kept in power for a new seven-year term by a controversial June 3 election that was held only in regime-controlled areas of Syria. In the letter dated June 18, Abbas said the election will help to "end the crisis, and (create) political dialogue between all sides of the Syrian people, and will allow the country to recuperate its privileged position."Abbas also expressed hopes for "progress and stability" in Syria, while wishing Assad "success". The opposition and Western countries slammed the vote as a "farce" and as a "parody of democracy", as no opponents to the Assad regime could actually run. The main Palestinian camp in Syria, Yarmuk, has been reduced to rubble since it was struck by all-out violence in 2013.
The camp has also been under a suffocating siege since last year, and the U.N. refugee agency for Palestinians is frequently blocked from accessing the area despite the dire humanitarian situation.
Rights groups say more than 100 people have died in Yarmuk since 2013 because of food and medical shortages. Agence France Presse

Israel Army Presses Operation in West Bank, Arrests 17
Naharnet/Israeli troops searching for three teenagers it says were kidnapped a fortnight ago by Hamas militants, arrested 17 Palestinians in the West Bank overnight, an army spokeswoman said on Wednesday. The arrests took place across the West Bank and included a Palestinian MP, she said. The latest detentions raised to 371 the number of Palestinians arrested in the two weeks since the teens disappeared from a hitchhiking post in the southern West Bank. Of that number, 282 are allied to the Islamist Hamas movement, an army spokesman told Agence France Presse.
He said soldiers had searched 1,955 locations and raided 64 Hamas institutions. So far there has been no claim of responsibility and no sign of the missing students, with the search focusing on the southern West Bank. Palestinians living in the town of Yatta village south of Hebron told AFP the soldiers had beaten up several people as they entered their homes. Others accused the troops of stealing money and gold during the raids. The army had no comment on the claims. Agence France Presse

Emirates Suspends Flights to NW Pakistan over 'Security'

Naharnet/Dubai's Emirates Airlines said Wednesday it has suspended flights to Peshawar, in northwest Pakistan, after gunmen opened fire at a landing plane killing a passenger and wounding two crew members. "Emirates has suspended flights to and from Peshawar effective 25 June 2014 until further notice, due to the security situation at the destination," an Emirates statement said. Unidentified gunmen opened fire late Tuesday as a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight arrived in Peshawar from Riyadh with more than 170 passengers on board. A female passenger was killed in the attack and two stewards were wounded. Police said flights at the Basha Khan International Airport in Peshawar, in Pakistan's troubled northwest, have been temporarily halted following the gunfire.
Agence France Presse


To Obama: Syria’s moderate opposition is the only option
Wednesday, 25 June 2014
By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
In Syria and Iraq, it is easy to make a conclusion similar to that of U.S. President Barack Obama who said that there is no moderate Syrian opposition capable of defeating Bashar al-Assad. This judgment could have been said about Libya when the revolution erupted against Muammar Qaddafi and it could have been said about Ukraine’s current situation as well. We could've simply said that and left these two countries for extremists.
We tell President Obama that the Syrians, including those who support the regime, now want the moderate opposition to prevail because they only have three options: 1) the Assad’s regime and its Iranian extremist allies; 2) al-Qaeda; and 3) the moderate opposition. The latter is represented by the coalition which is made up of Sunnis, Alawites, Christians, moderate Islamists, seculars and women. Why haven't the moderate ones won the war, and why does Obama think they are incapable of defeating Assad? It's because they're deprived from everything - from obtaining advanced weapons, having safe border zones and from recruiting inside refugees' camps. In addition, Russia and Iran are helping their enemy, the Syrian regime, and are providing it with weapons, food, information and funds.
President Obama must accept the truth that Bashar al-Assad's regime is incapable of staying in power no matter how much support he receives from the Iranians, the Russians and others. Assad represents a very small minority. He's become wreckage breathing with an external lung.
In Iraq, the bad situation is in its beginning. The current opposition may lose its momentum but if Nuri al-Maliki remains in power, chaos and violence will continue and the rebels will repeat their attempts until they either overthrown him or turn the country into mayhem. Iraq's chaos will threaten everyone. Amidst these fast-moving events, Obama's advisers must ask: What can the American government do without becoming militarily involved and without making wrong calculations in the region?
If the first American objective is to thwart al-Qaeda groups, then neither Assad nor Maliki are capable of fighting al-Qaeda. The Syrian and Iraqi regimes represent the popular motive for extremists. If it weren't for them, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria (ISIS) would not have returned in force. The Sunnis consider it a revolution against injustice and are willing to support any group -even if it's a terrorist one - that fights Assad and Maliki.
If the first American objective is to thwart al-Qaeda groups, then neither Assad nor Maliki are capable of fighting al-Qaeda.
Former President George Bush risked all his country's capacities with the hope of changing the situation in the Middle East, especially changing bad regimes like that of Saddam Hussein. What's happening in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Egypt is undoubtedly the result of the events after invading Iraq in 2003. President Obama currently have limited options, either support bad regimes like Assad and Maliki and ignore the opposition, therefore leaving land for extremists – such as the Syrian regime with its allies Hezbollah and al-Qaeda organizations - or support the moderate opposition to reach Damascus and rule Syria and support the political reconciliation in Baghdad.
In this case, Obama's options are few and difficult. He's tried for long to stay away from our region - the region of political earthquakes - but as he can see, the problem grows when ignoring it and it's no longer possible to evade it. If he decides to support Maliki in Iraq, the Iraqis will live in chaos and long-term civil war. And if he abandons the Syrian opposition believing that it's too unsuccessful to topple the Assad regime, then Syria will continue to be an international zone for global terrorism.
He can now push for a political reconciliation in Iraq - a reconciliation that helps the Sunnis and Shiites work together to fight ISIS. In Syria, the U.S. can support the moderate opposition and help it to reach power in a government that that unites all the Syrians against ISIS. This way, the United States can achieve its major goal and support reconciliation and stability in the region.

What it takes to reconstruct Syria
Wednesday, 25 June 2014
By: Moataz al-Khayatt/Al Arabiya
Recent data published by a U.N.-sponsored report unveiled the devastating scale of the damage incurred by the Syrian economy and infrastructure as the revolution entered its third year last March. The human toll of the conflict, already inexcusable in the sheer horrific number of those dead and wounded, is a reminder to us Syrians that our survival and the survival of the Syrian state serve as the ultimate defeat to an Iranian auxiliary regime that is systematically attempting to eradicate and demographically reshape large swathes of the country.
Accordingly, we must begin now in earnest to develop a reconstruction plan even in the midst of the fighting.
Scorched earth policy
Assad’s military offensive has led to a loss of over $140 billion (Syria’s overall GDP prior to the revolution was $67 billion) to the economy-- and that is just a conservative estimate of the overall infrastructure damage incurred to civic institutions and industry. The economic devastation that has wrecked the country is in large part a result of the regime’s scorched earth policy. Assad’s war planes, artillery tubes, tanks and ground to ground rockets systemically target infrastructure required for governance, production, and service delivery in areas outside of the regime’s writ of control.
We must begin now in earnest to develop a reconstruction plan even in the midst of the fighting
Compounding the vicious cycle of war-time destruction and economic stagnation has been the relocation of Syrian businesses and the loss of capital to more stable countries in the region.
Last week, the Iranian government announced that it is prepared to “help” reconstruct Syria. The regime has plastered announcements over the rubble in Homs that proclaim “together, we will rebuild.” The revolutionary movement must demonstrate to the Syrian people and to the world that rebuilding Syria is possible without Ba’athist institutions or the Ayatollah’s largess.
The establishment of an interim government with ministries designed to resuscitate service delivery in the hardest hit areas in Syria that have been liberated from Assad’s forces. A plan has been reportedly established to expand the presence of these ministries inside Syria. This is a step in the right direction.
As the head of multi-billion dollar business holdings with construction and industrial projects throughout the region, and as a proud Syrian, I am well aware of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that face the Syrian people in attempting to establish a semblance of normality.
A trust fund
We must begin by working with international partners and donor countries to expand the scope of the current Syrian reconstruction trust fund. A renewed effort is needed to begin an economic and political transition starting in the liberated areas. This will require a financial commitment and organizational effort of an unprecedented scale.
Humanitarian support must not be viewed as mutually exclusive with reconstruction and establishment of service delivery. This will not be easy given the security environment, but establishing a model of governance and reconstruction will send a powerful signal to the world that there is a viable alternative to the Assad regime that can function and serve the Syrian people.
According to the U.N. Report the destruction has resulted in 2.67 million individuals losing the source of their livelihood. For a country the size of Syria this loss of capital impacts nearly 11 million citizens roughly half of the pre-revolution population. Construction development agro-business institution building can set the stage to meaningfully employ many who otherwise have no other viable options.
This will require both innovation and security. The Assad regime’s recent targeting of newly built schools and the provincial council building in Allepo show that Assad’s forces will not permit the requisite security environment needed for the success of independent efforts to improve the lives of Syrians living in the liberated areas.
Rebuilding roads water pumps water distribution networks sewage and even residential buildings will require a measure of security from the regime’s airforce.
Political ingenuity can also be a tool in progressing reconstruction. Localized cease fires can be utilized as a means to rebuild and possibly offer hope for the return of some of the displaced.
Establishing protected industrial parks with the support of regional allies can help reinvigorate the moribund manufacturing sector. According to the U.N. Report, “Manufacturing GDP in 2013 was just 18.6 per cent of that of 2010. Textile production contracted by 20 per cent and it is expected to face further challenges in 2014 due to the low cotton production. During 2013 the production of cement was down by 50 per cent, food processing by 58 per cent...”
Oil protection force
Establishing an oil protection force and developing an alliance with Kurdish forces to reject extremist and radical elements attempting to capture the remaining functioning oil wells will be a crucial element to long-term recovery. We must also prioritize safeguarding oil wells from being damaged by primitive extraction and refinery techniques. Mobile refineries and local cease-fires that would allow industry experts an opportunity to survey functionality of existing wells in the liberated territory will help ensure that a critical element of Syria’s livelihood remains in tact.
Crude oil exports need not be sold to the regime for financial gain (as some elements of Al Qaeda have tended to pursue). Rather by developing new routes that connect to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s new pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan Syrian oil can find a market.
The Syrian people have a history of perseverance in times of calamity. Syria was the basin for civilization because of the tenacity, ingenuity and forward thinking of its people. Rebuilding Syria will require tapping into that reservoir of survival independence and endurance to ensure that future generations of Syrians have a home that they can return to and that Assad’s Iranian backed attempts to radically shift the essence of the country through nihilistic scorched earth policies never succeed.
**Moataz al-Khayatt is a member of the Syrian opposition with a professional background in business.

A Sunni Hezbollah
 Hanin Ghaddar/Now Lebanon
Published: 24/06/2014 06:40 PM
Both ISIS and Hezbollah feed on the idea of injustice
Lebanese Hezbollah militants carry the coffins of their two comrades killed the day before in a firefight with Sunni gunmen in the eastern Lebanese city of Baalbek, on September 29, 2013
A new wave of suicide bombings is hitting Lebanon, but this time around, the regional context and the rapid developments in Iraq cannot be ignored. Today, everyone in Lebanon is asking the same question: Is ISIS coming here after conquering so much of Iraq? Are we going to see militants waving black flags coming through the borders to take over Lebanon?
The answers to these questions are not a simple yes or no. “ISIS” today is a vague enough term that it could be applied to any Sunni militant entity choosing extremism and violence to fight their enemies, i.e. Maliki, Assad, Iran, or Hezbollah. The phenomenon of “ISIS” has gradually developed in the region as the influence of moderate Islam has declined. In this sense, ISIS will not “come to Lebanon:” ISIS is already here, and it has emerged slowly but surely since the events of May 7, 2008, continuing through the Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir movement in Sidon, and escalating to today’s suicide bombers.
The promise of power
ISIS’ increased regional strength did not come from nowhere. In the 1980s, Hezbollah was empowered through a feeling of injustice within the Shiite community. After Lebanon gained independence in 1943, Shiites found themselves politically underrepresented and economically very poor compared to other sects in Lebanon. Decades of marginalization and poverty gave Lebanese Shiites less cause to trust the state and more reason to bank on groups like Hezbollah, which at least came with the promise of resistance and political power.
As years of civil war, Syrian hegemony, Israeli occupation, rampant corruption, and illegitimate weapons bled authority from the Lebanese state, Hezbollah came to look like the only protector of Lebanese Shiites, despite increasing criticism – by the Shiites themselves – of its corruption and its involvement in Syria. But that wasn’t enough for Hezbollah. It ignored Sunni resentment and consistently acted as if its power were eternally sacred.
Today, ISIS has become empowered by a similar feeling of injustice within the Sunni community, and what we are seeing is the emergence of what can be described as a Sunni Hezbollah.
This feeling of injustice has grown within the Sunni majority as Shiites and Alawites – Iran’s proxies – rose to power in Syria after 1970, Iraq after 2005, and Lebanon also after 2005, all with the international community’s blessing. So we shouldn’t be surprised that “ISIS” happened: injustice creates extremism and an inclination toward violent revenge.
The majority of Sunnis in the region are neither part nor fans of ISIS, but the group is extending the same promise as the one Hezbollah offered in the 80s: resistance and political power. Resistance to the Iranian hegemony in the region, and the reclamation of power for the Sunnis in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. These promises, if not necessarily the accompanying ideology, will appeal to the people.
Shiite extremism vs. Sunni extremism
Extremism is not limited to an ethnic or religious group in the Arab and Muslim world. These ideas and beliefs exist everywhere, in each dictatorship and autocratic regime. Any group or leadership that refuses to acknowledge state authority, practices violence to impose its own rules, and denies the freedom of the individual and their basic right to freedom, equality, and citizenship, is not that different from ISIS. Hezbollah is no exception: all Parties of God that use religion and ideology to force themselves on other citizens are “ISIS.”
Hezbollah refuses to acknowledge the Lebanese state’s authority and refuses to surrender its arms, which have killed innocent Lebanese civilians, to the Lebanese State. Hezbollah committed violence on May 7, 2008 against fellow Lebanese, killed Hashem al-Salman in 2013, and is still murdering – or at least is complicit in murdering – thousands of innocent Syrian civilians across the border. Hezbollah denies individual freedom in its own areas: good luck buying or drinking alcohol in the South or the Beqaa. Hezbollah does not accept democracy: they have toppled two governments since 2005 (Siniora and Hariri’s), the only two governments that resulted from the March 14 victory in the parliamentary elections.
Hezbollah, like ISIS, are foreign fighters participating in the Syrian war; indeed, they came to Syria even before ISIS was formed. And the Party further promises its martyrs the same heaven ISIS guarantees to theirs.
So how is Hezbollah really different from ISIS? Is it because they do not film their crimes and broadcast them on YouTube? Or is because they prefer to kill from a distance instead of beheading people?
Extremist groups feed on each other in order to grow and justify their existence. Today, ISIS is not as organized as Hezbollah, and it certainly does not have a recognizable sponsoring state like Iran. But this could be just the beginning. ISIS now has land, money, and revenues, and eventually could become more regimented.
A Sunni Hezbollah in conflict with a Shiite Hezbollah is bad news. A regional sectarian war between Sunnis and the Shiites, spearheaded by ISIS and Hezbollah, will only lead to more bloodshed and extremism that will spread to other states in the region. Moderate Islam will become history and no one will be safe from the consequences, not even western states.
As Iraqi Shiite groups return to Iraq to fight against ISIS, Hezbollah will have to fill the vacuum in Syria. This means more involvement in the war, but it also means spreading itself increasingly thin in terms of its military and logistical capabilities. The crisis in Iraq moreover makes it harder for Maliki to continue funding Iranian and Hezbollah operations in Syria, meaning even more hardship for the Party.
At the same time, ISIS appears to be bringing in arsenals seized in Mosul into Syria, mainly to Deir el-Zor and Hasaka. The result is that ISIS will probably take over more areas currently under FSA or Jabhat al-Nusra control.
Ultimately, this means ISIS and Hezbollah will clash in Syria and spark heightened sectarian violence in Lebanon – not merely through suicide bombings and explosions, but probably through a new civil war, this time between Sunnis and Shiites.
It is likely already too late to stop this. As long as the international community – especially the US – still thinks ISIS is bad news while Hezbollah and Iran are not, Hezbollah will never compromise, and ISIS will only grow.
**Hanin Ghaddar is the Managing


Gaza rockets aim at Kurdish oil route via Israel. More security for Ashkelon and Eilat depots
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 25, 2014/The Trans-Israel Pipeline from Ashkelon to Eilat is the real target of the increased Grad rocket fire on Ashkelon and nearby coastal areas, military sources tell debkafile. Its momentum has quickened since the launch this month of a transit route for oil exports from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq via Turkey and Israel.
Islamic Jihad and other Salafist militants in Gaza are in cahoots with the Al Qaeda affiliated Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis operating out of Sinai. All are potential sources of the rocket fire and certainly have an eye on civilian targets, but the sources say the uptick of the last few days is a clear attempt to take out the new Kurdish export route. (see attached Special Map)
Islamic Jihad and Al Qaeda in Sinai are strange bedfellows – their backers, Iran and ISIS, are at loggerheads in Iraq. But they share an interest in preventing Israel from using its small oil ports, Ashkelon and Eilat, to become a major conduit for Kurdish oil. Through its geography and infrastructure, Israel has quickly become a key element in the war in Iraq and its future.
Iran wants to put a stop to oil sales out of the northern Iraqi oilfields near Kirkuk, while ISIS considers Iraqi oil to be an important war spoil and strategic asset, likewise the oilfields in eastern Syria.
ISIS is already using captured Syrian oilfields as a major source of income, bringing in some $1 billion per year. With control of Iraq’s oilfields, refineries, and pipelines, the Al Qaeda-affiliated group could easily double or triple its annual oil income. Israel’s role puts a damper on these plans.
Both Tehran, which has its own designs on Kirkuk, and ISIS, were amazed to discover the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had signed onto a combined Kurdish-Turkish-Israeli concern for the new Kurdish export route. No time was lost for this transaction after the Kurdish peshmerga moved into Kirkuk as Iraqi troops fled the oncoming ISIS fighters.
The crude flows to Ceyhan, Turkey’s port city on the Mediterranean. From there it is loaded onto tankers that sail to Ashkelon, where the cargo is unloaded either into storage or poured into the 254-kilometer Trans-Israel Pipeline. Traditionally the pipeline has served companies from Russia and Central Asia who use Israel as a middleman for their sales to Asian countries. But with the arrival of the first Kurdish tankers in the past few weeks, the pipeline has begun to operate at its capacity of 20 million tons per year. Our sources report that Kurdistan, which exports 120,000 barrels of oil a day, has already sent 2 million barrels of oil to Israel via Ceyhan. Most of this shipment is due to arrive in Ashkelon and Eilat in the coming days.
Oil industry insiders believe that Irbil pays Turkey and Israel a dollar each for every barrel that passes through their territory.
Now that the tanker channel between Turkey and Israel has opened in the service of oil, Western military sources say that the two countries’ navies have boosted their cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean to secure the channel, the tankers, and their precious cargo. They add that Israel has put special security measures in place to bolster its defenses against terror and rocket attacks in Eilat and the Gulf of Aqaba, lest newly arrived Iranian and ISIS elements in Sinai target Eilat’s oil terminal and the tankers full of Kurdish oil.

How popular is ISIS?
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat
Wednesday, 25 Jun, 2014
After prayers in the Jordanian city of Ma’an last Friday, around 20 to 30 people took to the streets holding banners saluting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and announcing that they support the “Islamic state.”
Of course, the fact there were only a few dozen protesters shows there was not really much support, especially when compared with past protests during major political events. But there may be more supporters who are hiding their true sentiments out of fear of being monitored and seen as a threat for their support of a terrorist organization.
Mohammed Shalabi, a leader of the Jordanian jihadist movement, disowned the pro-ISIS protest and its goals. He even disowned some of the movement’s younger members, saying they had been deceived and that ISIS neither serves his movement nor represents it.
If the small number of people who turned out in Ma’an were not enough to cause alarm, then the large numbers of people taking to Twitter to support and sympathize with ISIS must certainly provoke some response. We have not seen anything similar since the days of Al-Qaeda. Back then, Arabic media marketed Al-Qaeda as a group that was supporting Islam and defending the oppressed. It was only after most of Al-Qaeda’s leadership were killed off that any hope the organization would be buried at sea like Bin Laden could be expressed. Back then, we could still have hope that Muslims would turn the page on extremism.
The current reality has shattered these hopes. Extremist ideology has been revived once more because of the Syrian war, which brought ISIS infamy as the Syrian president committed crimes against millions of his own defenseless people. Iraq is now going down the same path, and Iraqis in embattled areas are saying they need someone to save them from the government—and in many cases, that someone is ISIS, although they haven’t yet seen ISIS’s dark side.
I fear that ISIS, which has proven itself more brutal than even Al-Qaeda, its ideological parent, has made it into the hearts and minds of the youth. We can see that support in a woman who tries to sneak from Saudi Arabia to Yemen along with her kids to go to Syria and work with the jihadists. We can see it perhaps even more clearly in the number of Western Muslims joining the war in Syria. Examples such as these show us that ISIS has capabilities, it has means to recruit members, and it has supporters beyond just a few on the fringes who are unusually enthusiastic about the Syrian cause.
No doubt, ISIS’s victories in Iraq will be even better advertising. The sectarian war will mobilize more fighters on both sides, and so these factors make it incumbent on everyone in the world to think about the repercussions of what’s happening in these two wars. Without genuine concern, useful intervention, and work toward political solutions, the situations in Syria and Iraq will head inescapably toward outright disaster.