May 07/14


Bible Quotation for today/I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry

John 6,34-40/They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always. ’Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.’


Pope Francis's Tweet For Today
A society which abandons children and the elderly severs its roots and darkens its future.
Pape François
Une société qui abandonne les enfants et les personnes âgées coupe ses racines et assombrit son avenir.

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For May 07/14

In the Mideast, immoral politics reign supreme/By: Octavia Nasr/AlArabiya/May 07/14
Ahmed Jarba attempts to persuade the White House/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/May 07/14

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For May 07/14

Lebanese Related News

Lebanon: A burning problem

STL to meet May 12 to set date to resume trial
Al-Rahi: It's My Duty to Welcome Pope in Jerusalem and I Ask Those against My Visit Not to Come to Bkirki

Rai stands firm on decision to visit Jerusalem

Christians divided over Rai’s visit to Israel
Report: Rahi Proposed One-Year Extension of Suleiman's Term

LebanonReport: Jumblat Urges Maronite Action over Rahi's Jerusalem Visit

Amin Gemayel Meets Geagea, Urges President Who'd 'Fully Reassure' Christians, Lebanese

Berri to Suleiman: No Change in Power-Sharing Under Any Circumstance
Al-Mustaqbal Urges March 8 to Endorse Presidential Candidate

Hezbollah must clarify Iran comments: Future bloc

Change and Reform: We Will Not Vote for Compromise President

Rifi Vows to Resist May 7's 'Destructive Path,' Says Adventures Will Fire Back
Five Arrested in Dahieh for Opening Fire, Possession of Arms

Saudi Ambassador Holds Talks with Officials on Presidential Elections

Officers, Inmates Charged with Smuggling Drugs into Roumieh Prison

Bassil Warns Direct Assistance to Refugees Encourages their Stay in Lebanon

Washington Asks Lebanon to Impede Syrians Voting from Lebanon in Syria Elections

Arsal kidnappings denote frail security along Syria border

Miscellaneous Reports And News
An Iranian stealth submarine sinks before targeting a mock US carrier in an a naval exercise

Iran's Zarif Says New Diplomacy Has Isolated Israel

90 Percent of 180 Identified Girls Kidnapped by Boko Haram Profess Christianity
Sisi Says if Elected There Will be No Brotherhood in Egypt

Saudi Dismantles 'Terror' Group
Top U.S. Officials to Visit Israel this Week

An Iranian stealth submarine sinks before targeting a mock US carrier in an a naval exercise

Iran's Zarif Says New Diplomacy Has Isolated Israel

Al-Nusra Gunmen Nab 4 Syrians from Arsal Refugee Camp

'Qaida Cell' Trial Opens in UAE

Huge Bomb in Newly Dug Tunnel Kills 30 Syria Troops

Central Security Council Asks General Security to Devise Refugee Entry Mechanism amid Outcry

Liberman on Independence Day: Abbas must decide if he wants peace, and with whom

Obama expresses commitment to two-state solution on Israel's Independence Day

90 Percent of 180 Identified Girls Kidnapped by Boko Haram Profess Christianity
Kidnapped Girls Being Sold into Slavery by Boko Haram

05/05/2014 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) - International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Islamic insurgency and U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) Boko Haram has overwhelmingly abducted self-proclaimed Christians in its raid on a government-sponsored secondary school in Chibok, northern Nigeria. Boko Haram leaders have formally claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping of 243 school girls and, as reported by the parents of the abducted, Boko Haram is suspected to still be in possession of more than 230 school girls who are being sold into domestic and sexual servitude for as little as $12.00 each.
On the night of April 14, more than 100 armed Boko Haram insurgents abducted a reported 243 students from an all-girls government-sponsored secondary school after shooting their way past the compound's security staff. The mass kidnapping lasted approximately six hours as the kidnappers hand-selected their victims from the more than 250 students attending the secondary school. The overwhelmingly Christian crop of abductees was then loaded onto the backs of military-grade trucks and driven deep into the Sambisa Forest located on the Nigerian-Cameroonian border. Though an estimated one to two dozen of those abducted have reportedly escaped, search parties comprised of Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) vigilantes and parents continue to search alongside the Nigerian Army for the remaining missing girls. Evangelist Matthew Owojaiye of the Old Time Revival Hour Church in Kaduna compiled a list of 180 kidnapped girls who have been identified. The list, which includes the girls' names, religious affiliations, and photographs, has yet to be verified by Nigerian authorities. The Northern States Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF), an affiliate of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), first released the list late on May 4. Identifying 163 Christian girls and 15 Muslim girls suspected to still be in captivity, CAN claims the disproportionately Christian inclination of the abduction points to targeting by Boko Haram in the selection of their victims. "Chibok local government is 90% Christian. Majority of the girls abducted are Christian! Why did Boko Haram visit Chibok local government? Why didn't they visit so many other local government girls secondary schools in Borno State?" lamented Owojaiye.
Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is a sin," continues to pursue its goal of carving out a separate Islamic state from Nigeria's northern regions where it can establish its ultra-conservative interpretation of Sharia law. The insurgency, currently a U.S.-designated FTO, often targets schools, government institutions and religious minorities-mostly Christians-as part of a broader strategy to create a purely Islamic society in northern Nigeria. In 2014 alone, it's estimated more than 2,500 innocents have been murdered by Boko Haram, many of whom are known Christians whose communities have been pillaged and churches set ablaze. ICC's Regional Manager, William Stark, said, "Boko Haram's deliberate targeting of Christian students for sale into domestic slavery and forced marriage once again illustrates the group's limitless repertoire of evil and its willingness to unleash that evil in pursuit of a separate Islamic state ruled by Sharia law. While ICC continues to join the international community in calling for a return to a peace in northern Nigeria, we cannot refuse to recognize the Nigerian State's inability to provide the security necessary to ensure prosperous living for the nation's Christians and other minority religions, especially in the increasingly lawless northern regions. If the Nigerian state and international community continue to fail to respond to Boko Haram effectively, 230 innocent school girls could be lost to a lifetime of suffering and oppression at the hands of these Islamic militants."
The list released by NOSCEF is as follows:
Ten of One-Hundred Sixty-Three Identified Christian Abductees
Deborah Abge, Mary Dauda, Gloria Mainta, Ruth Kollo, Esther Usman, Hana Stephen, Rebecca Mallum, Blessing Abana, Rejoice Musa, and Rachael Nkeki.

A burning problem

May 06, 2014/The Daily Star
A television or movie scriptwriter might have hesitated before writing such a tale because it would stretch the imagination, but there it was Monday: A fire raging just above the Baabda Presidential Palace, as top leaders gathered for a session of National Dialogue. While the blaze ultimately failed to disrupt the session, it came close to the residence of the head of state and highlighted how Lebanon’s problems will only be solved by serious planning and proactive policies, not empty rhetoric. Firefighting helicopters were nowhere to be seen for hours after the blaze broke out, while municipal officials were ready with a standard answer, namely, “It’s not our problem.” Civil Defense personnel made it to the scene, but only after trekking up from the southern suburbs of Beirut, which is administratively part of the district of Baabda. In other words, a forested region that hosts the residence of the president lacks the firefighting capacity to act in such emergencies – and the summer heat hasn’t started yet.
Politicians might have a field day with the weak response, but they should bear in mind that in recent years, the March 8 and March 14 camps have shared a considerable amount of responsibility when it comes to endorsing budgets and related spending items in Parliament. More importantly, the same politicians who demand more public spending on Civil Defense might easily turn around the very next day and warn of how increasing state spending will wreck the economy. If someone could come up with a feasible plan to save Lebanon’s green spaces and avoid the kind of national embarrassment that nearly happened Monday, the public would be all ears.

Amin Gemayel Meets Geagea, Urges President Who'd 'Fully Reassure' Christians, Lebanese

Naharnet/Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel stressed Tuesday the need to elect a president who would “fully reassure Christians and the Lebanese,” urging respect for the constitutional timeframe which ends on May 25. “At the moment, our objective is to rescue the republic before it's too late and this would begin by electing a president within the constitutional timeframe,” Gemayel said after meeting Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea in Maarab. “We want a president who would lead the country rather than manage the presidential palace. We want a president who would fully reassure Christians and the Lebanese,” Gemayel underlined. He added that “in this plight that we're going through, the president is required to preserve real partnership in the country.”Gemayel underscored that it is necessary for the president to “enjoy the confidence of Christians amid the circumstances that we're going through.”  Asked about March 14's candidate, Gemayel said: “Nothing has changed until the moment. LF leader Samir Geagea is our candidate.” On Monday, Gemayel slammed attempts to impede the presidential elections, noting that some foreign powers are keener on the polls than Lebanese officials.
He revealed that he would begin Tuesday a series of meetings with political leaders in a bid to avert vacuum in the presidency. The first round of the presidential elections was held on April 23 with Geagea and Democratic Gathering MP Henri Helou the only two officials so far running in the polls. A candidate needed the vote of 86 lawmakers in order to emerge victorious in the first round. The second round was scheduled for April 30, but it was not held over a lack of quorum at parliament after the March 8 alliance, except Speaker Nabih Berri's Development and Liberation bloc, boycotted the session.
Berri scheduled a third session for Wednesday, but observers are expecting it to fail once again over a lack of quorum. The ongoing divisions between the March 8 and 14 camps over the elections are raising fears of a presidential vacuum. President Michel Suleiman's term ends on May 25 but the constitutional timeframe to elect a new president began on March 25.

Christians divided over Rai’s visit to Israel
May 06, 2014/By Rayane Abou Jaoude /The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai’s trip to occupied Jerusalem has divided opinion among Lebanon’s Christians, but will not have negative repercussions in the long term, analysts said Monday. “I am against this visit in general, however, I do not understand and cannot accept this negative campaign that he is being subjected to,” said Sami Nader, professor of economics and international relations at Université Saint-Joseph. “He is not committing a big sin. There is no single country that does not have a liaison or is [not] holding discreet talks with Israel, including Iran,” Nader explained. While he said he personally opposed the trip on the grounds that the timing was not right, he said the visit was a way of showing support for Christians in the area. Rai confirmed last week that he would join Pope Francis on a trip to occupied Jerusalem later this month, becoming the first head of Lebanon’s Maronite Church to visit Israel since it was founded in 1948. Pope Francis’ May 24-26 itinerary includes visits to Jordan, Israel and Palestine. Rai will celebrate Sunday Mass in the West Bank city Bethlehem, where Jesus is believed to have been born. He will also meet Palestinian and Syrian refugees, as well as visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. But according to local daily An-Nahar, diplomatic sources said that Israel has imposed several conditions on the patriarch’s visit, including not shaking hands with any Israeli officials. Journalist and publisher Antoine Saad noted that criticism of the trip was not voiced by everyone.
“Hezbollah did not criticize it, Amal did not criticize it, [Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid] Jumblatt did not criticize it. Why consider it a sin?” he asked. According to Saad, the situation could be evaluated through the country’s political position, and the fact that the majority of Lebanese and Palestinian politicians have not openly admonished Rai for the trip.
But the visit has stirred controversy in local media, particularly from leading pro-Hezbollah newspaper As-Safir, which described it as a “historic mistake.”
“This will not benefit the Christians, or the Lebanese, or the Arabs, [only] Israel,” said Sanaa Khoury, an editor at As-Safir, who has been vocal in criticizing the patriarch on her Twitter account.
She told The Daily Star that Rai’s status as the head of the Maronite Church should not exempt him from Lebanese laws which prohibit citizens from traveling to Israel. “Could it be that Rai is unaware of [how dangerous the] matter [is]?” she asked. According to As-Safir, Palestinian opinion was divided over whether Rai should make the trip. The patriarch himself told An-Nahar that he was surprised at the criticism, calling it “shameful.” His predecessor, Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, had apologized to Pope John Paul II, refusing to join the pontiff on his visit to Israel.
USJ’s Nader cited further differences between Sfeir and Rai. The former had also declined to visit neighboring Syria and was an outspoken critic of its role in Lebanon. Rai, on the other hand, visited Damascus last year and met with Syrian officials. According to Nader, there is a tradition of positive neutrality when it comes to the Maronites, who did not involve themselves in any military confrontation with Israel. Rai was following this tradition, Nader said. However, “this does not mean at all that he is normalizing [ties].”The most important goal of the pope and Rai’s visit was to show that Christians have a “stake in Jerusalem,” he said, and to confirm the international status of the city.
But lawyer and former Kataeb Party leader Karim Pakradouni disagreed, telling The Daily Star he opposed the visit because he believed the Jewish state would take advantage of it politically.
Even though Rai “will try not to contact any Israeli official, the Israelis are able to take advantage of [the visit],” he said. Boulos Sayyah, Rai’s representative and a former bishop in Palestine and Jordan, told The Daily Star over the weekend that the patriarch would avoid political meetings and would not fly through Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport with the papal delegation, opting to cross into occupied Jerusalem through the Jordan crossing instead. “This could threaten the popularity that Rai enjoys, and it could lead to losses, and I don’t see any benefits,” Pakradouni said. “In these matters, the patriarch has a group of bishops which serve as a protection to Bkirki. “He should have discussed it with them,” he said. This view was echoed by Hisham Melhem, bureau chief of Al Arabiya News Channel in Washington, D.C. and correspondent for An-Nahar. “I bet he did not even make serious discussions, did not consult his surroundings, but made the decision on his own,” Melhem said, describing Rai’s actions as “reckless.” The last thing the Maronite community needed was this visit, Melhem added. However, some in the Christian community disagreed. One man, Fadi, said the trip should go ahead without obstruction. He also said it would have positive effects on Christians in the Middle East, and would make the Palestinian Christians feel “valued.”But he acknowledged that from a political perspective, Rai was likely to be heavily criticized. “Half of the population prefers the devil over Israel,” he explained. Elementary schoolteacher Nancy Bassil also said that as long as the patriarch’s trip to occupied Jerusalem was only for religious purposes, then it should not be met with strong opposition. “It’s just a religious trip, and that’s what’s important,” she told The Daily Star.
Concerns have also arisen concerning the potential repercussions of the visit on the security situation in Lebanon. “There is a possibility to divert attention away from ... the Sunni-Shiite conflict and the Syria crisis,” Nader said. For Melhem, the situation is “very brittle, with tensions between Muslims and Christians in the region and sectarianism; it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire,” he said.

Al-Rahi: It's My Duty to Welcome Pope in Jerusalem and I Ask Those against My Visit Not to Come to Bkirki

Naharnet/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi announced on Tuesday that it is his duty to welcome Pope Francis in Jerusalem, asking those against his visit "not to come to Bkirki."
"I am the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of regions expanding from Turkey to Mauritania, Saudi Arabia and to Iran,” al-Rahi stated upon his arrival at Rafik Hariri International Airport coming from France. "It is my duty to welcome the Pope in any country in these regions,” he said. The head of the Maronite Church elaborated: “Jerusalem is our city as Christians before anyone else, and it is an Arab city. I am going there to say this is our city. We have (religious) authority there and we have people who follow our church. I am going home and I am going to see my people. We have been present in Haifa and Galilee long before Israel.”“I am a Patriarch and I have a duty to visit my people,” he reiterated.  “I ask the Lebanese to respect me and I am not asking anyone to accept my visit.”
“Those bothered by my visit, I ask them not to come to Bkirki. These are my duties and I am going to fulfill them,” he remarked. Al-Rahi assured reporters that he will not hold talks with any Israeli official.
“I know Lebanon is in enmity with Israel but I have nothing to do with Israel. I am going to see my people and I have said I will not meet with anyone. I have nothing to do with political affairs I deal with church-related matters only.” “I am going to defend the land along with (Palestinian) President (Mahmoud) Abbas. This is your land and you have the right to defend it,” he said, addressing the Palestinian people. Al-Rahi is expected to travel to the Holy Land to welcome the pontiff during his brief May 24-26 visit. He would be the first patriarch to do so since the creation in 1948 of Israel, with which Lebanon is technically at war. Lebanese citizens are banned from entering Israel, but Maronite clergy may to travel to the Holy Land to minister to the estimated 10,000 faithful there.
While some considered the visit a “historical mistake that opens the door for normalization with Israel,” Church authorities have repeatedly assured that it has a strictly religious character.

Report: Rahi Proposed One-Year Extension of Suleiman's Term
Naharnet/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi has suggested the one-year extension of President Michel Suleiman's six-year tenure, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Tuesday. Al-Rahi made his proposal during talks with al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri in Paris last week, the daily said. But Hariri expressed surprise at the patriarch's proposal, it added. Al-Akhbar reiterated that the patriarch has suggested the names of former Ministers Ziad Baroud, Deminaos Qattar and Roger Deeb as possible consensus candidates for the presidency. The report came despite repeated denials by al-Rahi that he backed a certain candidate for the country's top Christian post, which faces vacuum after May 25 if MPs failed to elect a new head of state. Parliament was unable in the first and second rounds of the elections from electing a new president due to differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances. A new round is set to take place this Wednesday although it is almost certain that the parliamentary session would face the same fate of its predecessors due to the boycott of March 8 lawmakers.

Berri to Suleiman: No Change in Power-Sharing Under Any Circumstance
Naharnet /Speaker Nabih Berri has stressed that power-sharing between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon would not change under any circumstance, An Nahar daily reported on Tuesday. “There is no going back from the concept of power-sharing,” Berri reportedly said during the national dialogue session in response to a recent warning made by President Michel Suleiman. Suleiman said during a speech on Sunday that “the procrastination in the election of a new president poses a threat to the Lebanese entity and opens the door for dangerous scenarios.”“Don't drag the country and its citizens into a constituent assembly that would topple the Taef Accord and equal power-sharing,” Suleiman told the Lebanese. But Berri, a Shiite Muslim, was quick to respond to Suleiman during Monday's all-party talks, saying he was speaking on behalf of Shiites, Sunnis and Druze. The speaker denied rumors that a senate cannot be formed before the election of a non-sectarian national assembly. “On the contrary, there is a possibility to form this senate in accordance with the Orthodox Gathering electoral draft-law in parallel with the election of a parliament based on proportional representation and the consideration of Lebanon a single district,” he said. Differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances have so far prevented the election of a new president, leading to fears of vacuum in the country's top Christian post. Suleiman will leave Baabda Palace on May 25.

Report: Jumblat Urges Maronite Action over Rahi's Jerusalem Visit

Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat has reportedly asked Christian political leaders to stop Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi from visiting the Holy Land despite the insistence of the cardinal that he was backing the Palestinian cause. Al-Liwaa newspaper said Tuesday that Jumblat made the appeal during the national dialogue session that was chaired by President Michel Suleiman at Baabda Palace a day earlier. The PSP leader, who is also the head of the National Struggle Front bloc, asked the conferees to keep his statement confidential and not reveal it to the media. According to the daily, most Maronite leaders oppose the visit of al-Rahi, who will accompany Pope Francis to Jerusalem later this month. The leaders are awaiting the patriarch's return from his visit to France to discuss the possibility of canceling the Holy Land trip, it said. But al-Rahi reiterated in remarks to An Nahar daily that his visit was not aimed at consolidating the Israeli occupation. “I want to stress that this is our land … You want the Palestinian cause? Then I m going there to tell them that we support you and we are at your side,” al-Rahi said. “Jerusalem is our city. Enough criticism. This is a shame,” he said.
On Monday, the patriarch urged the Lebanese to resolve their problems rather than create new ones. Al-Rahi regretted that “some Lebanese wanted to create problems out of nothing.” Bkirki officials said the patriarch would avoid political meetings during his trip and would not seek to normalize ties with Israel.

Change and Reform: We Will Not Vote for Compromise President
Naharnet /The Change and Reform bloc defended on Tuesday its decision to boycott last week's presidential elections session, saying that it is a political right. It said after its weekly meeting: “We will not vote for a compromise president.”“A compromise president means relinquishing some of the fundamental principles of the state,” added former Labor Minister Salim Jreissati after the bloc's meeting. “We support a capable and all-embracing president who does not provoke any side,” he continued. “We are prepared to elect a president who enjoys the qualities we have mentioned,” he said.
He therefore explained that Change and Reform bloc chief MP Michel Aoun chose not to run in the elections in order to avoid acting as a provocative candidate. Jreissati stressed the need for the election of a president “who adheres to the National Pact, which is the cornerstone of political life.”Moreover, he stated: “Agreement, not consensus should be reached over the presidency, because consensus entails concessions.”“Are they bothered that we are holding contacts with head of the Mustaqbal Movement Saad Hariri? We are at least communicating with an influential Lebanese figure,” Jreissati said in an indirect reference to criticism the Change and Reform bloc received over its boycott of last week's presidential elections. “At least Hariri chose to make concessions that led to the formation of a government,” he noted. Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil of the Change and Reform bloc had held talks last week with Hariri in Paris on the presidential elections. They stressed the need to hold the elections on time. Lawmakers last week failed to elect a new president as differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances led to a lack of quorum in the second parliamentary session aimed at choosing a new head of state. While the March 14 camp held onto its candidate Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, the Hizbullah-led March 8 alliance, except for Speaker Nabih Berri's Development and Liberation bloc, boycotted the second round over lack of consensus on one candidate. The third round of the polls is scheduled for Wednesday, but hopes are low that quorum will be met due to the lingering political differences

Five Arrested in Dahieh for Opening Fire, Possession of Arms
Naharnet /The army announced on Tuesday the arrest of a number of suspects in Beirut's southern suburb of Dahieh. It said that Hamza Rashid Zoaiter, Mohammed Wehbe Zeineddine, Abbas Samih Hjoula, Karam Ramez Zeineddine, and Hassan Jamil Mannoun were arrested at dawn on charges of opening fire and brandishing weapons. Four hunting rifles, a hand grenade, ammunition, and military equipment were seized in the possession of Mannoun. The suspects have since been referred to the concerned authorities for investigation. Last week, the army arrested 12 suspects in Dahieh on similar charges. The arrests have risen in frequency since the army and security forces began implementing a security plan in the area, as well as the northern city of Tripoli and the eastern Bekaa region.

Officers, Inmates Charged with Smuggling Drugs into Roumieh Prison
Naharnet/Two officers and a number of inmates were charged on Tuesday with smuggling drugs into Roumieh Prison, reported the National News Agency. It said that State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr filed the charges against two officers and 13 inmates. The two officers are already in custody, while five of the prisoners were originally detained for similar charges. Saqr has since referred the case to First Military Examining Magistrate Judge Riyad Abu Ghida. Roumieh is the largest and most overcrowded of Lebanon's prisons. It has a capacity for 1,500 inmates, but over 4,000 are imprisoned there. Protests frequently erupt at Roumieh given the poor conditions and the overcrowding.

Washington Asks Lebanon to Impede Syrians Voting from Lebanon in Syria Elections
Naharnet/The U.S. government conveyed a clear message to the Lebanese government asking it not to facilitate the voting process of thousands of Syrians living in Lebanese territories in the Syrian elections slated next month, a U.S. diplomat told As Safir daily on Tuesday on condition of anonymity. “Lebanon's interior minister is required not to issue any supportive statement on behalf of the Lebanese government backing the elections, which comes in commitment to the Baabda Declaration and the dissociation policy adopted by the cabinet since the mandate of PM Najib Miqati,” the source said.
The United States looks at the Syrian elections as a “kind of farce” (as it comes during Syria's 3-year-old civil war), said the diplomat and asked “how can these elections take place exclusively in areas controlled by the Syrian regime?” The diplomat stressed that the international community will not recognize the elections outcome. Syria's Supreme Constitutional Court named Syrian President Bashar Assad and two others candidates in the coming June presidential elections. Assad, who is seeking a third seven-year term, will face Hassan bin Abdullah al-Nouri, a 54-year-old lawmaker from Damascus, and 43-year-old Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar, a lawmaker from the northern city of Aleppo. The number of refugees who have fled Syria and registered in Lebanon has exceeded 1 million according to U.N. reports.

Bassil Warns Direct Assistance to Refugees Encourages their Stay in Lebanon
Naharnet/Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil warned on Tuesday that direct assistance to Syrian refugees in Lebanon would contribute to their stay in Lebanon, suggesting aid to the Lebanese government instead.
During a press conference with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin, Bassil said: “The number of displaced Syrians has exceeded the logic.” The Lebanese state needs a direct assistance to resolve this case, he said. Bassil warned following the talks with the German FM that direct assistance to the displaced would encourage them to stay in Lebanon after the end of the war in Syria.
The number of refugees who have fled Syria and registered in Lebanon has exceeded 1 million, according to the U.N. Bassil said he will meet Steinmeier in Beirut on May 30. The German FM said during the press conference that Lebanon is the country most suffering from the burden of the Syrian refugees. “It now faces the most difficult mission in containing the huge number of the displaced and meeting their needs, he said. Steinmeier promised a bigger role for Berlin to resolve the problem. “We tried to help by welcoming 10,000 Syrian refugees in Germany,” he said after Berlin granted the exiles two-year residence permits. It said it could extend them if the war in Syria continues. The U.N. refugee agency on Sunday rebuked donors for not doing enough to help millions of Syrian refugees and the countries hosting them, saying the crisis demanded "massive support." "There must be massive support from the international community at the level of government budgets and development projects related to education, health, water and infrastructure,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres. On Monday, Bassil urged Berlin to assist the army in its “war on terror.”He met with Kristof Hausken, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's political and diplomatic adviser, and Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Silberhorn.

Saudi Ambassador Holds Talks with Officials on Presidential Elections
Naharnet /Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri held a series of meetings on Tuesday with a number of officials on the latest local and regional developments, especially Wednesday's presidential elections, reported the National News Agency. He kicked off his talks by meeting Speaker Nabih Berri at his Ain el-Tineh residence after which he expressed Riyadh's support for Lebanon's security and agreement among its people. “I also stressed to the speaker that the election of a new president is up to the people themselves,” he remarked. The ambassador then headed to the Grand Serail for talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam. Asiri had arrived in Lebanon with his family on Friday to resume his diplomatic duties, but denied that his return is linked to the upcoming presidential vote.
"The Kingdom did not and will not meddle in Lebanese affairs,” he said. He added: “The Lebanese are the ones to choose their president and they are capable of doing so. The choice must be made in Lebanon and I returned to resume my diplomatic duties.” "We are working on reaching an agreement between all local political forces to avoid vacuum (in the presidency),” Asiri noted.
Lawmakers last week failed to elect a new president as differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances led to a lack of quorum in the second parliamentary session aimed at choosing a new head of state.
While the March 14 camp held onto its candidate Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, the Hizbullah-led March 8 alliance, except for Speaker Nabih Berri's Development and Liberation bloc, boycotted the second round over lack of consensus on one candidate. The third round of the polls is scheduled for Wednesday, but hopes are low that quorum will be met due to the lingering political differences.

Al-Mustaqbal Urges March 8 to Endorse Presidential Candidate
Naharnet /Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc urged the March 8 camp to announce its candidate for the presidency so that he competes in the third round of the elections on Wednesday.
The bloc, which held its weekly meeting under MP Fouad Saniora on Tuesday, stressed that it “backed the candidacy of Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea in accordance with the agreement (reached) in the March 14 alliance and called on March 8 to announce its candidate to hold competitive elections.”The Mustaqbal lawmakers rejected vacuum in the presidency, describing it as a “stabbing of the Lebanese Constitution and the choices of the people to hold onto the democratic system that is based on the rotation of power.”Lebanese lawmakers failed in the first and second rounds of the vote to elect a new president due to differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances. A new round is set to take place on Wednesday although it is almost certain that the parliamentary session would face the same fate of its predecessors due to the boycott of March 8 lawmakers. Geagea, who is the March 14 alliance's only candidate, failed in the first round to garner the needed two-thirds of votes of the 128-member parliament. In the second round, March 8 MPs boycotted the session, resulting in a lack of quorum. March 8 hasn't yet officially announced its candidate. But the coalition’s officials have reiterated that Lebanon needs a consensual person in the country's top Christian post. During the bloc's meeting, Saniora briefed the Mustaqbal MPs on the national dialogue session that was held at Baabda Palace on Monday. Saniora said he hailed President Michel Suleiman's role in preserving the Constitution and the National Pact, and in contributing to lowering the tension in the country. He added that the president, who leaves Baabda Palace on May 25, held onto dialogue as the only means to resolve the dispute between the rival parties.

Rifi Vows to Resist May 7's 'Destructive Path,' Says Adventures Will Fire Back
Naharnet /Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi stated on Tuesday that the adventures of those who “violated the state's dignity” on May 7, 2008 will fire back at them, vowing to continue “resisting this destructive path.” Rifi commented on the infamous May 7 events on the eve of their sixth anniversary in a released statement, describing the day as one of the darkest in Lebanon's modern history. On that day “an armed group violated the state's integrity, its institutions and its prestige and terrified the Lebanese, killing them in Beirut and Mount Lebanon in a dull show of force,” he said in the statement. "But these adventures no matter how much gains they secured for those behind them at that time, they will fire back at them,” he declared. "And we assure that we will continue resisting this destructive path that has drowned Lebanon and Syria, made them submissive to a regional project, and did not pay attention to the interest of Lebanon and of the Lebanese,” he added. "We will resist this path until we reach a state of law and of institutions, who are alone capable of protecting all the Lebanese.” Rifi reminded Iranian Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi of a statement he made, and in which he said the power of his country “could expand to reach the Mediterranean, and that Iranian defense line have arrived in southern Lebanon.”"This memory is a coup that Lebanon is still suffering from its consequences until today, in its security and in its stability,” the Justice Minister expressed. On May 7, 2008, clashes in Beirut and Mount Lebanon erupted that year when gunmen belonging to Hizbullah and its allies swept through the capital's neighborhoods after the government of Fouad Saniora decided to dismantle the group's telecom network and sack airport security chief Brig. Gen. Wafiq Shqeir.

Al-Nusra Gunmen Nab 4 Syrians from Arsal Refugee Camp
Naharnet /Gunmen from the Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front on Tuesday abducted four Syrians after attacking a refugee camp in the outskirts of the Bekaa border town of Arsal. “Al-Nusra Front armed men riding in two SUVs raided a Syrian refugee camp in the Wadi al-Hosn area in Arsal's outskirts and kidnapped four Syrians who hail from the town of Qara,” state-run National News Agency reported. It identified the abducted men as the brothers Imad and Ahmed al-Ghawi, Fouad Yassine and Mohammed Hassan al-Ghawi, saying they were taken to an area under the control of gunmen on the Syrian side of the border. On April 3, the army shot dead a Syrian man and wounded two others after they fled on a motorcycle from a checkpoint in the Wadi Hmayyed area. NNA said they were members of al-Nusra Front. In March, fifteen Syrians, including members of al-Nusra, were held at the army's Wadi al-Shaab checkpoint in Arsal for attempting to enter Lebanon with “fake identification papers.” Since the eruption of the uprising in Syria in March 2011, security forces and the army have arrested a number of gunmen and individuals who sought to enter Lebanon illegally.
The un-demarcated Lebanese-Syrian border has facilitated the flow of gunmen to and from Syria.

Sisi Says if Elected There Will be No Brotherhood in Egypt
Naharnet /Egypt's ex-army chief and leading presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Monday the Muslim Brotherhood movement of deposed leader Mohamed Morsi was "finished" in Egypt and would not return if he was elected. Following the Sisi-led army ouster of Morsi in July, the Brotherhood has been banned, its leaders arrested and more than 1,400 people, mostly Islamist backers of Morsi, killed in protest clashes. "I did not finish it, you Egyptians finished it," Sisi said in his first television interview since announcing his candidacy when asked if the Brotherhood was "finished". Asked if he were saying it would not exist under his presidency, he responded: "Yes." Sisi's remarks ruled out any chances of reconciliation with the blacklisted Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. The movement, which swept all elections since the 2011 fall of longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak, has already been blacklisted as a "terrorist organization" by the military-installed authorities. Sisi, dressed in a suit and appearing composed and often smiling in what was a pre-recorded interview, said Egyptians had rejected the group's ideology and would not allow it to return. The retired field marshal also said in what was the first part of the interview that if he was elected the army would "not have a role in ruling Egypt", adding that he was not a candidate of the army. Aside from Morsi, all of Egypt's previous presidents have come from military ranks, including Mubarak who was toppled following a popular 18-day uprising in early 2011. Sisi's only rival in the upcoming election is leftist leader Hamdeen Sabbahi who has often raised concerns that Egypt was returning to the autocratic era witnessed under Mubarak. These concerns grew after some leading symbols of the anti-Mubarak revolt were jailed by the interim authorities for organizing unlicensed protests. Last month an Egyptian court even banned the April 6 youth movement which had spearheaded the anti-Mubarak revolt. Groups such as April 6 have increasingly protested against the interim government, accusing it of restricting freedom while giving police a free hand to crush dissent. Egypt's interim authorities had justified the ouster of Morsi following mass protests against his divisive one-year rule. Sisi is riding a wave of popularity after ousting Morsi on July 3 after millions took to the streets demanding the Islamist's resignation. But the ouster of Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, and an ensuing police crackdown on his supporters and the Muslim Brotherhood has deeply polarized the country. Morsi and most of the top leadership of his Muslim Brotherhood have also been put on trial. When asked, meanwhile, if he had faced any assassination attempts, Sisi without elaborating said: "Two attempts". The interview's second part will be broadcast on Tuesday. Source/Agence France Presse

Central Security Council Asks General Security to Devise Refugee Entry Mechanism amid Outcry
Naharnet/The Central Security Council on Tuesday asked the General Directorate of General Security to devise a mechanism that would organize the entry of Syrian and Palestinian refugees from Syria into Lebanon, amid criticism by the U.N. and a rights watchdog over a recent incident. “The council discussed the access of Syrian citizens and Syria-based Palestinian refugees into Lebanon by land and air, stressing that there is no resolution that totally prevents their entry and that the borders are not closed in their face,” state-run National News Agency said. The conferees also tackled the measures that were taken last weekend against a number of Syrian and Palestinian citizens who sought to transit from Lebanon into Arab states. The council noted that they were deported for possessing fake travel papers, describing their behavior as a “criminal offense.”During the meeting, “the General Directorate of General Security was asked to suggest a mechanism that would regulate the entry of Syrians and Syria-based Palestinian refugees into Lebanon according to clear standards,” NNA said. It added that the sought-after mechanism will be referred to cabinet for discussion and approval.
Earlier on Tuesday, Human Rights Watch and a U.N. refugee agency expressed concern that Lebanon was blocking Palestinians fleeing Syria from entering the country. UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, said it was "concerned about the increased restrictions on Palestine refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria from entering Lebanon."  "We are monitoring the situation on the border carefully and have been given assurances by the Lebanese authorities that these restrictions are temporary," said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness in a statement. Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, criticized Lebanon for refusing entry to Palestinians from Syria and returning them to the war-torn country. HRW accused Lebanese authorities of "arbitrarily" denying entry and documented the deportation of around 40 Palestinians accused of having forged documents. Lebanon has not announced a blanket ban on the entry of Palestinians from Syria, but government sources have confirmed a general policy to keep out Palestinians fleeing the conflict.
Speaking to Agence France Presse on condition of anonymity, one source said the government felt Palestinian refugees registered in Syria should stay there, pointing out Lebanon already has more than one million Syrian refugees. But HRW said the Lebanese government was violating international law by sending civilians back to an active war zone. "The Lebanese government should urgently rescind its decision to bar Palestinians from Syria from entering Lebanon," the group said in a statement. "Lebanon is turning people back without adequately considering the dangers they face," the New York-based organization added. The group said the Palestinians seeking to enter Lebanon from a crossing with Syria had been "arbitrarily denied entry" over the weekend. At the same time, a General Security official told AFP that 41 people, many of them Palestinians, were returned to Syria after they were caught trying to fly out from Beirut airport using fake visas. "Eight were allowed to stay because they have Palestinian Lebanese relatives here, or other documentation that allows them to be here," said the official. Among the more than one million refugees from Syria registered in Lebanon are around 52,000 Palestinian Syrians.
Once numbering 500,000 in Syria, Palestinians have been targeted by both sides in the war, making them one of the country's most vulnerable groups, rights groups say. But Lebanon is also home to around 422,000 Palestinian refugees, whose presence in the country remains a source of tension.
Unlike Jordan and Turkey, which also host a large number of Syrian refugees, Lebanon refuses to set up camps for people fleeing Syria's war. Some politicians have cited the semi-permanent status of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon dating back to the 1948 creation of Israel as the reason why Lebanon does not want more camps. The international community has praised Lebanon, which has a population of just four million, for absorbing so many of those fleeing Syria. And while HRW criticized Lebanon for returning Palestinian refugees to Syria, the group urged foreign governments to better assist Beirut in hosting refugees. "The Lebanese government is bearing an incomparable burden with the Syrian refugees crossing its borders, but blocking Palestinians from Syria is mishandling the situation," HRW's deputy Middle East and North Africa director Joe Stork said.

Top U.S. Officials to Visit Israel this Week
Naharnet /U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice will visit Israel this week for high-level talks only days after the collapse of a U.S.-led peace bid, the White House said Tuesday. Rice will "lead the U.S. delegation to the U.S.-Israel Consultative Group meetings" on Wednesday and Thursday, said Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council. It will be Rice's first trip to Israel since becoming the top security advisor to President Barack Obama in July and also comes just ahead of resumed negotiations on Iran's nuclear program. The consultative group meets regularly for "strategic interagency consultations with senior members of the U.S. and Israeli governments to discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional security issues." Rice will also meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hayden said in a statement. The trip comes as the White House is evaluating whether to continue with its hard-fought negotiations to strike a peace deal after Netanyahu last month announced Israel was pulling out of the process. The Israeli leader has angrily denounced moves by the Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to strike a reconciliation deal with Hamas militants, who control the Gaza Strip. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf Monday dismissed reports that Secretary of State John Kerry had decided to dismantle the team of negotiators who have been based on the ground in Jerusalem for months trying to push forward the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. "We're going to see where this goes from here and, you know, figure out what makes sense in terms of staffing," she told reporters, saying "we have some senior officials that will be going soon" to the region, without going into specifics. Chief U.S. negotiator Martin Indyk was said to have been quoted anonymously in an interview in the Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, in which U.S. officials blamed Israel for the breakdown in the talks and said Netanyahu "did not move more than an inch." Harf insisted no one side was to blame, saying "both sides did things that were incredibly unhelpful." She did confirm, however, that Kerry is mulling whether to release a document laying out some of the principles reached during the nine months of talks. Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, has meanwhile returned to Washington for consultations, Harf confirmed. Source/Agence France Presse

Saudi Dismantles 'Terror' Group
Naharnet/Saudi Arabia has dismantled a "terrorist organization" that was plotting attacks against government installations and foreign interests, the interior ministry announced Wednesday.
Authorities have arrested 62 suspected members of the group, among them three foreigners, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Al-Ekhbariya satellite channel. Those arrested include 35 Saudis who had previously been detained on security-related allegations and released, it said. Members of the organization have "links with extremist elements in Syria and Yemen," it said, adding that authorities are still hunting down 44 others whose names have been submitted to Interpol. The statement said "suspicious activities on social networks" had facilitated the arrests, without providing further details. The interior ministry in March published a list of "terror" groups, including Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Nusra Front, which is Al-Qaida's official Syrian affiliate, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, another jihadist group fighting in Syria and Iraq. It also includes the little-known Saudi Hezbollah Shiite militant group, as well as Shiite Huthi rebels fighting in neighboring Yemen.
The ministry has said it will prosecute anyone who back such groups "financially or morally", or who seeks to promote them in the media and on social networks. It also forbids "participation in, calling for, or incitement to fighting in conflict zones in other countries" as well as calling for demonstrations or taking part in them. After a wave of deadly Al-Qaida attacks in the kingdom between 2003 and 2006, Saudi authorities cracked down on the local branch of the group founded by the late Osama bin Laden, himself Saudi-born. Members of that group went on to merge with Yemeni militants to form Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen and seen as one of the network's most formidable affiliates.Source/Agence France Presse

An Iranian stealth submarine sinks before targeting a mock US carrier in an a naval exercise
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 6, 2014/A new Iranian Ghadir-class stealth mini-submarine, home-built with Chinese technology, recently sank near the Strait of Hormuz, while preparing for a Revolutionary Guards naval exercise to practice sinking or disabling a mock-up US aircraft carrier, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report exclusively. The sub was launched just a year ago.
The Iranians drew a tight veil of secrecy over the accident, curtailing the search for the estimated 10 crewmen to avoid drawing the notice of US or other intelligence agencies in the region.
Chinese and Russian teams secretly enlisted to help search for the sunken mini-submarine, quickly abandoned it saying that none of the crew could have survived. It was up to Iran to decide, they said, whether to continue the search at the risk of exposing its plans for sinking US carriers in a war contingency. So long as the sub stayed on the bottom, its stealth technology would make it hard for Western intelligence to locate it. The ill-fated submarine was to have shown its paces by striking a replica of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier Iran had built at the Bandar Abbas naval base. The replica was spotted by US satellites. Challenged for an explanation, the Iranians first tried claiming it was to be used in a film documenting the naval forces present in the Persian Gulf. But then on April 27, the Navy Commander Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi gave the game a way by saying: “Iranian forces should target the carrier in the trainings. We should learn about the weaknesses and strengths of our enemy.”
On May 6, Adm. Fadavi made a more warlike statement that clearly defined “the enemy” when he said: "They [Americans] know nothing. We have been making and sinking replicas of US destroyers, frigates and warships for long years, and we have sunk the replica of their vessels in 50 seconds through a series of operational measures."
The semi-official Fars agency quoted him as saying also: “Destroying the US navy remains one of the top operational goals of the Tehran forces. If war with the United States breaks out, the Iranians will attack American aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, their size making them easy to target.” Tehran assumed its aggressive face the day before US National Security Adviser Susan Rice and senior US nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman were due in Israel to persuade Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to live with the comprehensive nuclear accord shortly to be signed with Iran by the six world powers. They will also demand an Israel guarantee not to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, although the prime minister made this threat on Holocaust Day on April 27.
The Iranian navy chief’s words were a message to Washington that if Netanyahu does engage in military action against Iran, the American fleet will be at risk.
Iran’s military planners had assigned the new Ghadir-class mini-submarines the task of an attack to bring the US navy fleet, especially the carriers, to a halt - easy prey for a thousand IRGC torpedo boats armed with sea-to-sea missiles to strike the stationary vessels from all directions.
Iranian naval experts count on sinking a carrier or leaving it too crippled to move to safety and forced to call on US bases in Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Yemen for air cover.
Adm. Fadavi’s words, placing “destroying the US navy” among the operational goals of the Tehran forces” were meant to deter the US and Israel against military action.
debkafile’s military sources reveal that IRGC chiefs are also looking at ways of disabling US warships in the Mediterranean, to put them out of action for a second-strike attack on the Lebanese Hizballah by missiles or for sending bombers over Iran. Not all Western naval experts agree on Tehran’s objectives or capabilities. Some discount the Iran’s speedboats’ ability to carry more than one sea-to-sea rocket - or two at most. And the US helicopters taking off from the targeted warship or ground bases would soon be able to sink them. Iranian forces recently tested the option of arming the explosive speedboat’s crews with shoulder-carried anti-helicopter rockets, but gave up after 10 boats tipped over during the test. The Revolutionary Guards Corps has a fleet of 10,000 small boats which are capable of great speed but easily overbalance. If the US or Israel do decide to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, the anchorages of these boats would be among their first targets. Each of these anchorages, which are strung along the Iranian Persian Gulf coast, houses around 100 boats.

In the Mideast, immoral politics reign supreme
Tuesday, 6 May 2014 /Octavia Nasr/AlArabiya
You can write all you want, demonstrate all you can and shout as loud as possible; nothing will change. Simply because those you are trying to reach have already crossed the threshold of morality. They live in a zone where immoral politics reign supreme. At this level, if you reason with them, they take it as a sign of weakness and submission. If you criticize them, they take it as an insult and a good excuse to retaliate. The only acceptable option to them is for you to do as they say. The Middle East has entered that zone a while back and it continues in a free fall without much hope left for salvation.
When the Arab uprisings exploded across the region and dictatorships fell like dominos, some of us celebrated the youth finally taking the reigns and shouting out their dismay at decades of backward thinking and reverse actions that led to retarded mentalities drowning out forward-thinking and creative leadership models. We rejoiced because we believe that the future belongs to the youth and that we owe it to them to give them room to breathe fresh new ideas into our lives and our world. This is in direct conflict with those who love the status quo, hate change, and are bound to power like beings are bound to oxygen.
Despite progress, injustice remains

When an already failure of a system is overtaken by bullies and others who lost their minds and consciences, how can logic serve anyone anymore? How can anyone promote dialogue and peaceful resolutions when faced by only stiff opposition and nonnegotiable disagreement? When certain groups hijack religions, political systems, even slogans and ideologies, extremism prevails. It pushes moderates to become passive and move out of the way or turn violent and extreme to deal with the imposed challenges. That’s when words don’t matter any more. Ideas and suggestions have no listeners let alone takers and adopters. Thus, everything dies at the doorstep of hope and the future. In the age of unethical politics, a mass murderer imposes his person “elected” president over the ruins of Syria, ignoring the stench of death and destruction and the longing of millions of displaced citizens.In the age of unconscionable politics, mass murderers continue to rule in Lebanon. They dare point fingers at one another while driving their nation into the drain of a constitutional vacuum.When corrupt politics lead to corrupt times, good people are faced with a dilemma: If peaceful action seems like a useless dream, violence is undoubtedly a costly nightmare, and inaction is as immoral and villainous as the vile, immoral politics themselves!
**This article was first published in al-Nahar on May 5, 2014.

Ahmed Jarba attempts to persuade the White House
Tuesday, 6 May 2014 /By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Ahmed Jarba, public opponent of Syrian president to Bashar Al-Assad, is visiting Washington in a new attempt to acquire anti-aircraft missiles, the weapons which expelled the Soviets from Afghanistan and whose absence from the Syrian revolutionary–rebel arsenal has prolonged Assad’s survival in Damascus.
I do not know how Jarba will manage to persuade the stubborn officials in the White House to allow him to have these missiles.
Jarba is not asking for them free of charge nor is he asking the Americans to directly sell them to him. He wants the U.S. to allow those who already have them to sell or give them to the Free Syrian Army.
Despite the magnitude of the tragedy and the ongoing use of aircrafts and barrel bombs by Assad’s regime to indiscriminately bombard cities and towns on a daily basis despite the U.N. Security Council’s continuous warnings not to do so, there is no evidence the White House is prepared to change its mind in arming the opposition.
Syrian opposition seeks a fighting chance
Due to the lack of anti-aircraft weapons, Syrian airspace remains open to Assad’s forces. Planes carry out raids every day unhindered. The air force is the main reason the regime has survived this long and now that its ground forces have been decimated, Assad is also relying heavily on Iraqi militias and Lebanese Hezbollah to fight for him.
“The U.S. ban on the opposition’s owning anti-aircraft weapons has practically enabled the Assad regime and its allies—Lebanese and Iranian alike—to make headway in the conflict.”
Because of the Assad regime’s air superiority and constant bombardment, most Syrian cities and villages have been destroyed and nine million people have been displaced, half of which have fled the country. The U.S. ban on the opposition’s owning anti-aircraft weapons has practically enabled the Assad regime and its allies—Lebanese and Iranian alike—to make headway in the conflict.
This is the main reason for the tragic refugee situation which has now begun to threaten the stability of neighboring states, especially Jordan and Lebanon.
In order for the opposition to stop the defeat and the humanitarian tragedy, Jarba will continue to petition the Americans to allow his forces to be armed, especially after their success of using the anti-armor TOW missiles, all of which were counted to ensure they do not fall into the wrong hands.Washington’s hesitation no longer justified
Fear of the anti-aircraft missiles falling into the hands of extremists can no longer be justified. even if al-Qaeda has succeeded in taking over the Syrian arena. Jarba has personal knowledge and experience in transferring weapons into Syria, and is capable of providing the guarantees the Americans need to ensure the operation would be run according to tight and accurate monitoring and auditing processes.
All those who follow the war are in agreement that it is spiraling out of control, and that depriving the moderate opposition from its needs for essential weapons has succeeded in achieving two things: first, prolonging the tragedy with far reaching consequences for the region and second, strengthening the extremist groups who impose themselves as a force on the ground that must be obeyed. America’s fear of weapons being put in the hands of the wrong groups – mainly the al-Nusra front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – is no longer justified. There is now an on the ground trusted opposition group close to the Americans who are watching events closely from neighboring Jordan and Turkey.
There is also no longer an excuse that the U.S. fears being implicated in the war believable either. After all, nobody wants American fighters on the ground.
They only want Syrians to be allowed to buy the weapons they need to confront this massive killing machine they are fighting and to impose realities on the ground which would force the Assad regime to go to Geneva and negotiate a reasonable and acceptable political solution.
**This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on May 5, 2014.