May 13/14


Bible Quotation for today/Where is your faith?’

Luke 8,22-25/: "One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’

Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For May 13/14

Homs, Syria’s Martyr/By: Michel Kilo/Asharq Alawsat/May 13/14

Muslim world should act on the Boko Haram kidnapping/By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya/May 13/14

Pope Francis's Tweet For Today ‏
Our life has been saved by the blood of Christ. Let us always be renewed by this love.
Pape François
Notre vie a été sauvée par le sang du Christ. Laissons-nous toujours renouveler par cet amour.

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For May 13/14

Lebanese Related News

Hariri court to resume trial June 18

Lebanon might pull out of UNIFIL meetings with Israel

Geagea Says Bkirki Doesn't Confront Any Party but Would have 'Harsh Words' over Boycott
Lebanese Parliament to pass balanced wage hike: Adwan

Israeli violations spark Lebanese ire

Seven wounded in Ain al-Hilweh clashes

Syrian army severely injures two Lebanese at border crossing

Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi: State will not build refugee camps

Panel Puts Wage Hike Ball in Parliament Court as SCC Mobilizes for Grand Battle with 'Thieves'
Kataeb Leader Reveals Sami Gemayel Met Hariri, Considers Presidential Elections 'National Responsibility'

Report: FPM Suggests Total Vacuum to Resolve Presidential Deadlock
Al-Jadeed to Confront STL in the Hague as al-Akhbar Demands Guarantees
ISF Seizes Weapons in Tripoli Warehouse
Jumblat: Financial Situation Must Be Taken into Consideration when Approving Wage Hike
Suleiman Condemns Israeli Violations, Calls on Bassil to File Complaint
Legal Measure Allows Suleiman to Rule as Acting President
Berri Threatens to Suspend Naqoura Tripartite Meetings if Israeli Violations Continue

Miscellaneous Reports And News

Egypt's Al-Sisi: I won't allow religious leadership to operate in parallel to state
Nigeria's Boko Haram offers to swap kidnapped girls for prisoners
Police arrest Israeli man wanted in US for selling military equipment to Iran
EU: Foreign ministers 'extremely concerned' about breakdown of peace talks

Peres speaks out against canceling presidency, delaying election

Netanyahu in Tokyo: Iran and North Korea cooperate, so should Israel and Japan

Iran officials: Assad victorious in Syria with Tehran's help

Assad omnipresent in Damascus ahead of vote
Donetsk Rebel Leader Declares Region Sovereign State, Calls for Attachment to Russia

Drone Kills Six Qaida Suspects in Yemen 'War on Terror'

Japanese-Israel defense accords cover cyber security cooperation against China, North Korea and Iran

Kuwait minister accused by U.S. of terrorism funding quits  


Kataeb Leader Reveals Sami Gemayel Met Hariri, Considers Presidential Elections 'National Responsibility'
Naharnet/Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel revealed on Monday that MP Sami Gemayel held talks with al-Mustaqbal Movement leader Saad Hariri in the French capital Paris, urging officials to reach a breakthrough over the presidential elections dispute.“Hariri is keen to safeguard the state institutions and the role played by the Christians in the country,” Gemayel told reporters from Bkirki after holding talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi. Later, Hariri's adviser Nader Hariri arrived in Bkirki for talks with al-Rahi. “The presidential elections are a national responsibility,” Gemayel said.
He remarked that the meeting with the Patriarch focused on his recent talks with the various political arch-foes concerning the presidential bid. He described the meetings as important and should lead to a breakthrough. The Christian leader warned that “any presidential vacuum will have dangerous repercussions on the future of the country and its institutions.”“Al-Rahi and I agreed on rejecting any vacuum” at the helm of the country's highest Christian post, Gemayel continued. He urged the rival parties to exert efforts to facilitate electing a new president, noting that “the country witnessed stability after the formation of the new government.”“But it will all collapse if we didn't act responsibly,” the official added. Gemayel has met with several leaders in the country in the past week as part of his initiative to resolve the presidential deadlock. He has held talks so far with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, Marada movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh and Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat. The ongoing disagreement between the March 8 and 14 camps is raising fears that they will fail to elect a president before May 25, resulting in vacuum in the country's top post. “We are seeking to reach common grounds between the rival parties,” Gemayel said. He told reporters that “the Kataeb party aims at resolving the crisis without having any hidden intentions.”Gemayel also considered the parliamentary lack of quorum “unconstitutional.” One presidential elections session was held on April 23, but neither Geagea nor Democratic Gathering MP Henri Helou garnered the necessary 86 votes to emerge victorious. Two other sessions were supposed to be held, but they failed over lack of quorum after a March 8 camp boycott over the ongoing disagreement over a candidate.The fourth session is scheduled for May 15.


Geagea Says Bkirki Doesn't Confront Any Party but Would have 'Harsh Words' over Boycott
Naharnet /Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has said Bkirki would not enter into a direct confrontation with any political party over the presidential deadlock although it would have harsh words against those paralyzing the elections. In an interview with el-Shark daily published on Monday, Geagea said: “Bkirki does not play the role of a political party and does not put itself in a confrontation with any party.”The LF chief, who is the March 14 alliance's only candidate in the presidential elections, was referring to MP Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement which has been boycotting the polls.
Aoun has stressed that he would announce his candidacy only if there was consensus on him. But his bloc's lawmakers and the rest of the March 8 camp's members have caused a lack of quorum in the past rounds of the elections. A new parliamentary session is scheduled to take place on Thursday. But the lack of agreement between March 8 and 14 will likely lead to a similar boycott.
Geagea warned that “the Christians would lose the presidency” and urged Bkirki to have a tougher stance against the Christian MPs boycotting the elections. “Because of this boycott, the Christians will miss the chance to bring a real president to power,” he said. Geagea told the newspaper in the interview carried out on Friday that Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi would have “harsh words” against Aoun's FPM but away from the media spotlight. Reports said Saturday that al-Rahi pressured Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, who is an FPM official and Aoun's son-in-law, that the elections should be held on time.
The LF chief denied that Kataeb party chief Amin Gemayel has been proposing an agreement to elect him as a consensual president. He said Gemayel discussed with him during talks that lasted two hours and a half, the longest meeting between them, the need to come up with a solution to avoid vacuum at Baabda Palace. Geagea told the daily that he reiterated to the Kataeb chief that he would be willing to withdraw his candidacy if another March 14 official would be seen as a consensual president with the same political plan. Gemayel has been touring top officials to urge them to resolve the presidential crisis.
President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ends on May 25.

Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi: State will not build refugee camps
Now Lebanon/BEIRUT - Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi said that rather than building refugee camps inside Lebanese territory or turning Syrian refugees, the Lebanese state would work to return refugees to Syria through a political deal between the Syrian regime and opposition. “The Lebanese state is not about to accept [the idea] of setting up camps for Syrian refugees inside its territory,” Azzi said during a meeting with United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugees representative in Lebanon Ninette Kelley. “[Camps could be set up] on [Lebanon’s] borders with Syria through a political deal between the Syrian regime and the opposition under Arab and international supervision.” “In the same way as a cease fire happened in Homs, a deal could be made between the two Syrian sides to respect the refugees’ safety.”He added that Lebanon would not be “organizing the Syrian refugees [in to a] Labor [force] in Lebanon,” but would instead be “organizing a way to return them to Syria.”
“The humanitarian efforts being made by the UN must not neglect the national and security [related] aspects. Lebanon is an important entity and a precisely formed society that cannot [be expected to] sacrifice its security, stability, and independence under any pretext.”Earlier Monday, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour said he was surprised by recent reactions to the growing number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and criticized the way the state has dealt with the crisis, saying that anti-Syrian discourse should be limited and that refugee camps should be built. According to a report released at the beginning of April, over one million Syrian refugees have now registered with the United Nations in Lebanon, equaling a quarter of the country’s population.

Lebanon might pull out of UNIFIL meetings with Israel
Now Lebanon/BEIRUT - Lebanon’s speaker of parliament on Monday warned that Israel’s violations of Lebanese territory could push Beirut into abandoning the UNIFIL-brokered meetings between Lebanese and Israeli military officials. “Israel’s persistent violations, breaches and escalation on the border, from the Wazzani to Naqoura, threaten the tripartite committee’s work, the UNIFIL forces mission, and stability in the region,” Nabih Berri told UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly during a meeting.
“This could push Lebanon to freeze its participation in the committee’s meetings as they are incapable of preventing Israel from carrying out these hostile acts,” he said after Israel’s latest violation of Lebanese territorial water on Monday morning that followed a ground violation the night before.  Plumbly, in turn, issued a statement that “the Speaker and I agreed on the importance of the calm along the Blue Line and of safeguarding it and of course UNIFIL is exerting all efforts to achieve that.”However, the UN official refused to go into details on the latest Israeli violations during his press conference following the meeting. “UNIFIL is looking into the matter,” Plumbly told reporters. Berri earlier in the day told As-Safir newspaper that the tripartite meetings were “meaningless” and called on Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil to file an urgent complaint to the UN Security Council against Israel. Israeli military boats violated Lebanon’s maritime borders in the south of the country Monday morning, the Lebanese Armed Forces reported. \“Between 10 a.m. and 11:45 a.m., military boats pertaining to the Israeli enemy violated Lebanon’s regional waters at the Al-Naqoura point, and pushed one of the border buoys 20 meters into the [Lebanese] water,” the LAF said in a statement. This incident came a day after an Israeli patrol crossed the Lebanese border at the Ras al-Naqoura point and cut down trees and removed two blocks of concrete belonging to a nearby site for the Lebanese Armed Forces. The following morning, President Michel Suleiman requested that Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil file a complaint with the UN Security Council “to protect Lebanese sovereignty from Israeli aggression and preserve security and stability in the South.”

Seven wounded in Ain al-Hilweh clashes
Now Lebanon/BEIRUT – At least seven people were injured on Monday in Sidon’s Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp after a gunfire exchange between rival groups escalated into severe clashes that left children trapped in a school. Supporters of Alaa al-Din Ali Hojeir, a Fatah al-Islam member who was shot three days earlier, opened fire on an the Palestinian Baathist As-Saiqa faction’s office and as well as Palestinian security forces headquarters in the camp’s Al-Fawqani Street when Hojeir was rumored to have died. The shooting soon escalated into clashes between the Bilal Badr Group and the Talal al-Ordoni Group, leading to seven injuries. The clashes also led to 200 children being trapped inside the Ghassan Kanfani kindergarten, some of whom were pupils with special needs, NOW’s correspondent reported. An official in the institution’s administration told the site that one of the children was in need of medicine. Shortly afterwards, members of the UNRWA and the Palestinian Follow-up Committee opened a safe passage for the trapped children with the cooperation of the Lebanese army. The Palestinian security committee launched intensified talks to restore calm to the area of clashes, while angry residents took to the streets to demand a ceasefire and an “end to tampering with the camp’s security.”

Syrian army severely injures two Lebanese at border crossing

Now Lebanon/BEIRUT – Two Lebanese citizens were severely injured on Monday afternoon, after the Syrian army opened fire at the Fares border crossing in North Lebanon. A security source told NOW that Oussama Ahmad al-Ali and Khaled al-Mohamed were present at the Lebanese side of the Wadi Khaled border crossing when gunshots were fired from the Syrian side. Tension prevailed over the area, the security source added.


Report: FPM Suggests Total Vacuum to Resolve Presidential Deadlock
Naharnet/The Free Patriotic Movement of MP Michel Aoun has proposed to the Maronite church a vacuum in the government and parliament to pressure lawmakers into electing a new president, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Monday.Al-Akhbar quoted Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil as telling Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi that neither Sunni nor Shiite officials were eager to hold the elections on time.
Bassil is a top FPM official and Aoun's son-in-law. Speaker Nabih Berri, a Shiite, has stressed on several occasions that the parliament could exercise its legislative authorities whether a president was elected or not, Bassil allegedly told al-Rahi during a meeting they held in Bkriki last week. Sunni Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is the leader of al-Mustaqbal movement, is also unenthusiastic about the elections, Bassil said. These stances led to the proposal to have a vacuum at parliament and in the government to paralyze the country and then exert internal and external pressure for the quick election of a president, al-Akhbar said. But according to the newspaper, al-Rahi categorically rejected the idea, saying the paralysis would hit the country’s stability.
The patriarch stressed that the election of a president and his continued presence gives legitimacy to the state's institutions. In his Sunday sermon, al-Rahi blamed a possible presidential vacuum on “those who are seeking it and those who might cause it.”Aoun's Change and Reform bloc and the rest of the March 8 camp's lawmakers, except for Berri's bloc, have been boycotting the elections over lack of consensus on a president.


Al-Jadeed to Confront STL in the Hague as al-Akhbar Demands Guarantees
Naharnet/New TV S.A.L. and Karma Tahsin al-Khayat will testify before the international court on charges of “contempt and obstruction of justice,” while al-Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. and Ibrahim al-Amin will participate in hearings by video-conference, the Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper reported. Al-Jadeed TV Director General Dmitry Khodr, director of news and political programs manager Mariam al-Bassam, and her deputy al-Khayat will attend on Tuesday morning the hearing in the Hague, As Safir newspaper announced. According to the daily, al-Jadeed team is ready to face the STL after appointing British lawyer Karim Khan to defend it. However, al-Amin and al-Akhbar will not attend the court session in the Hague. Hassan Oleik, the head of the political section in al-Akhbar newspaper, said that al-Akhbar “wants security guarantees and clarifications from the court concerning their rights.”“We need time to study the legal suit.” He added that “al-Amin has the right in theory not to attend the trial.”As Safir said that al-Akhbar hasn't appointed a lawyer yet to defend it. Al-Khayat announced over the weekend that she chose “to confront the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in its home and according to its own laws.”“We are keen that we will emerge victorious in the end.”The Contempt Judge at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has ordered initial appearances on Tuesday of the accused in the case against New TV S.A.L. and al-Khayat, and of the accused in the case against Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. and al-Amin. The two journalists and two media organizations were charged with contempt before the tribunal for knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice. New TV S.A.L. and al-Khayat are charged with “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by broadcasting and/or publishing information on purported confidential witnesses” and “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by failing to remove from al-Jadeed TV’s website and al-Jadeed TV’s YouTube channel information on purported confidential witnesses.”Akhbar Beirut S.A.L. and al-Amin, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, are also charged with “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by publishing information on purported confidential witnesses in the Ayyash et al. Case.”In April last year, a list of 167 names of so-called witnesses for the former Premier Rafik Hariri trial was published by a previously unknown group identified as "Journalists for the Truth". The group said it wanted to "unveil the corruption" of the STL. Both al-Akhbar and al-Jadeed published the list.

Israeli violations spark Lebanese ire
May 12, 2014/By Mohammed Zaatari/The Daily Star
LABBOUNEH, Lebanon: Lebanese officials Monday slammed an overnight Israeli operation to remove cement barriers and uproot two trees about 10 meters inside Lebanese territory with the government expected to lodge a complaint to the U.N. Security Council against the Jewish State. Israel claimed the cement barricades that were placed facing a Lebanese Army post and a number of trees in the southern village of Labbouneh were blocking the view into Lebanon. On Sunday, Israel used a heavy machine with a long arm parked on the Israel side of the Blue Line, the legally demarcated international boundary between Lebanon and Israel, security sources told The Daily Star. A few meters east of Ras Naqoura, an Israeli vehicle was seen removing barbed wires installed there since 2000. An officer with the U.N. peacekeeping force said this was not a violation, and that the Israeli soldiers were working within what is known as the technical fence, which runs parallel to the Blue Line. Hours later, the Lebanese Army said several Israeli gunboats violated Lebanon's territorial waters near Ras Naqoura and moved existing floating barriers some 20 meters inside Lebanese waters. The incident took place between 10 a.m. and 11:45 a.m., the military said in its statement. UNIFIL said Force Commander Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra decided to launch an investigation into Sunday’s developments to confirm allegations of Israeli violation, adding that the situation along the Blue Line remained calm. In a statement, the peacekeeping force also said Israel informed UNIFIL of its maintenance work along the technical fence on a short notice. “ UNIFIL in turn conveyed this information to [the Lebanese Army] in line with the established liaison and coordination arrangements,” it said.Speaking to The Daily Star, UNIFIL Spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said they did not have information regarding the maritime violation and that the Lebanese Army has not yet sent a letter to the peacekeeping force. During talks with U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly in Ain al-Tineh, Speaker Nabih Berri slammed the “recurrence and escalation of Israeli violations against the border from Wazzani to Naqoura.” Berri said such violations put the monthly tripartite meetings that officers from both the Lebanese and Israeli armies hold in separate rooms under U.N. patronage at risk. “ Lebanon might suspend its participation in the tripartite commission meeting because they seem to be ineffective in preventing Israel from carrying out such aggressive acts, especially as the repeated complaints to the [U.N.] Security Council do not seem to affect Israel,” he said. “These meetings do not address the ongoing Israeli violations,” he said. For his part, Plumbly said he agreed with the speaker on the “importance of the calm along the Blue Line and of safeguarding it, and of course UNIFIL is exerting all efforts to achieve that.” Meanwhile, President Michel Sleiman condemned the operation as a violation of Lebanese sovereignty. Sleiman asked Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil to file a complaint with the U.N. Security Council in order "to protect Lebanon's sovereignty from Israeli violations and preserve peace and stability in the south." "This violation is in the hands of the international community so that it can make a decision to deter the enemy and pressure it to stop its violations and attacks,” he said.

ISF Seizes Weapons in Tripoli Warehouse
Naharnet /The Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau raided on Monday a warehouse in the northern city of Tripoli, confiscating a number of weapons, reported the National News Agency.
It said that an ISF Intelligence Bureau patrol raided the warehouse, belonging to A.N., in the al-Soweiqa al-Mahatra neighborhood, seizing a number of rocket-propelled grenades, Energa-type rockets, bombs, and light and medium weapons. Last month, the army deployed heavily in Tripoli and started implementing a major security plan devised by the government to end violence in the city.
Tripoli witnessed around 20 rounds of deadly gunbattles in recent years between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen.The security plan has resulted in the arrest of dozens of gunmen and fugitives in Tripoli and the Bekaa but a lot of wanted men have managed to escape, while others remain at large.Last week, a number of leaders of armed fighters in Tripoli turned themselves over to the military intelligence.


Suleiman Condemns Israeli Violations, Calls on Bassil to File Complaint
Naharnet /Outgoing President Michel Suleiman condemned on Monday a new Israeli breach along Lebanon's southern border, considering it violates United Nations Security Council resolution 1701.
He called on the international community to take the necessary decision to prevent the Jewish state from further violating the Lebanese sovereignty and to press it to end its aggression. Suleiman also called on Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil to file a complaint against Israel to the U.N. Security Council in order to safeguard Lebanon's sovereignty and maintain stability and security in the South. The National News Agency also reported that “Israeli forces continued digging in al-Labbouneh using bulldozers as soldiers were on high alert..” UNIFIL peacekeepers also deployed along the border to monitor the Israeli forces. An Israeli army infantry force crossed on Sunday the Blue Line in the al-Labbouneh border area and uprooted trees thus exposing a Lebanese army checkpoint. The unit also lifted a cement block that belongs to the Lebanese army. The NNA later said that the Israeli navy violated Lebanese territorial waters off Ras al-Naqoura. It said that the gunboats pushed a line of buoys 20 meters into Lebanese territorial waters. Lebanon's southern border has continuously witnessed violations carried out by Israel. Israel routinely sends F-16 fighter planes over Lebanon, in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution that ended the 2006 war. The Israeli planes have often broken the sound barrier over Beirut and other places as a show of strength, most recently after the drone incident.


Legal Measure Allows Suleiman to Rule as Acting President
Naharnet/President Michel Suleiman is mulling a legal measure to exercise his authorities as acting head of state if MPs failed to elect a new president by May 25, reports said Monday. According to al-Akhbar newspaper, Suleiman asked Shadi Karam, one of his advisers, to draft a clause that would allow him to stay in power. It quoted sources as saying that Suleiman claims the government of Premier Tammam Salam would not be able to fill the vacuum and that the country's top Christian post should be dealt with the same respect made to the speakership and the premiership. Under the National Pact of 1943, the presidency is reserved for Maronite Christians. The prime minister should be a Sunni and the speaker a Shiite. An Nahar daily said that Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi will intensify his contacts this week to pressure MPs into electing a new president. If the parliament failed to choose a successor to Suleiman before the expiry of his six-year term on May 25, then efforts will be exerted to keep him at Baabda Palace pending the election of a new head of state, it said. Western countries will also request the different parties to elect a president. An Nahar quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the Ambassadors of the U.S., France and Britain are carrying out routine weekly meetings to discuss the presidential deadlock.


Jumblat: Financial Situation Must Be Taken into Consideration when Approving Wage Hike
Naharnet/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat hoped that a wage hike with “reasonable” figures would be adopted, but defended the people's rights for the raise.
He said in his weekly editorial in the PSP-affiliated al-Anbaa website: “Parliament and the syndicate committees must take into consideration the general financial situation and the Lebanese treasury when adopting the hike.” He warned that given the current reality, the approval of the raise would be “pointless and it would harm the financial sector.”A wage scale with “reasonable and un-inflated numbers” should be adopted, “not one with compensations that even the most advanced European countries would not be able to afford,” noted Jumblat. “If only the popular action on the ground over approving the wage hike could have been used to push for economic, financial, and administrative reform,” added the MP. Reforming the energy sector should be the first step through increasing the production and improving coverage and the collection of taxes, he explained. He lamented the fact that Lebanon's economy does not garner enough attention from officials and that they only pay attention to it when people take action on the ground. The SCC, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, held on Monday protests across Lebanon to pressure the parliament into approving the public sector pay raise without amendments by May 25. Public sector employees and teachers have been on strike since last Wednesday to urge MPs to approve the scale without the amendments introduced to it by a ministerial-parliamentary committee and without installments.

Berri Threatens to Suspend Naqoura Tripartite Meetings if Israeli Violations Continue
Naharnet/Speaker Nabih Berri threatened on Monday to suspend the tripartite meetings held at al-Naqoura crossing between the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon and senior Lebanese and Israeli officials if the Jewish state continues violating the country's sovereignty.“Those who are keen to safeguard Lebanon's sovereignty and independence and those who are in a hurry to get rid of the resistance should take into consideration first the Israeli violations,” Berri said in remarks published in As Safir newspaper. He described the tripartite meetings as “useless,” as long as the Israeli violations continue.
He pointed out that the “problem is in the Jewish state's aggression and not the resistance.” Berri, who revealed a new Israeli violation on Sunday, told the newspaper that “the Israeli army blatantly crossed the border with Lebanon and tampered with the area while the international forces stood by.”An Israeli army infantry force crossed on Sunday the Blue Line in the al-Labbouneh border area and uprooted trees thus exposing a Lebanese army checkpoint.The unit also lifted a cement block that belongs to the Lebanese army. The Speaker considered that the ongoing violations require a swift action by the government, in particular, the foreign ministry, calling for filing a complaint against Israel to the U.N. Security Council. For his part, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil told As Safir daily that all Israeli violations are condemned, noting that “filing a complaint against Israel is a self-evident.” However, he said that the ministry needs the army to provide it with all the developments and the details concerning the violation in order to document it. Bassil expressed regret over “the routine process in filing complaints against Israel,” noting that the government shouldn't “get used to this classical kind of reaction.”
“It's a shame that the Israeli violations are accumulating and we are not able to stop them.”The minister told the newspaper that the defense strategy should highlight ways to confront the Israeli violations, adding that it will create a balance of power and impose calm, stability and peace at a later stage. Lebanon's southern border has continuously witnessed violations carried out by Israel.
Israel routinely sends F-16 fighter planes over Lebanon, in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution that ended the 2006 war. The Israeli planes have often broken the sound barrier over Beirut and other places as a show of strength, most recently after the drone incident.

Lebanese Parliament to pass balanced wage hike: Adwan
May 12, 2014/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan, a member of the parliamentary committee studying the salary scale bill, said Monday lawmakers will aim to pass the long-awaited public sector wage hike this week. "We handed over our review of the draft law to Parliament's committee which will meet today at 5 p.m. to reach common ground,” Adwan told reporters after meeting with Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil. "We are heading to Parliament on Wednesday to approve the salary scale while we preserve the [financial] balance,” he added, referring to Wednesday’s session called for by Speaker Nabih Berri to discuss and possibly pass the controversial draft law. He also said that unions should recognize that any increase to the salary scale should be met with a source of income generation to maintain balance in the treasury otherwise “beneficiaries of the wage hike will be affected.”He also criticized the fact that public sector wages had taken too long to review, saying: “The salaries should not be discussed every 12 years but we should meet annually to assess the economic situation and the public debt and reevaluate the wages accordingly.”The parliamentary committee tasked with restudying the salary scale draft law reduced the total funding from L.L2.8 trillion to L.L1.8 trillion. The committee endorsed a number of proposals such as raising the rate of the Value Added Tax from 10 percent to 11 percent, increasing customs by 1 percent and increasing taxes on bank profits from 15 to 17 percent. Adwan’s comments came hours after the head of the Union Coordination Committee called for massive turnout for a rally to be held May 14 to protest Parliament’s plan to cut funding for a public sector wage hike. “I call on students, particularly those in Grades 9 and 12, as well as their parents and teachers to participate in the ‘day of rage’ rally at 11 a.m. Wednesday outside the Banks' Association,” Hanna Gharib told hundreds of cheering protesters Monday at a sit-in outside the Social Affairs Ministry. “Let’s be united on Wednesday to throw the ball in their court and let them shoulder the responsibility,” he said. “We will finally win the battle,” Gharib vowed. Gharib called for the strike Wednesday after a special Parliamentary committee tasked with studying a controversial salary scale cut funding from LL2.8 trillion to LL1.8 trillion. He also urged Berri to hold daily meetings “until the wage hike [amendment] is approved.”

Hariri court to resume trial June 18
May 12, 2014/By Kareem Shaheen/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The trial of five Hezbollah suspects accused of complicity in the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri will resume on June 18, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s trial chamber announced Monday. The majority decision by the U.N.-backed court will end a temporary break in the trial intended to give defense lawyers for Hasan Habib Merhi, a member of Hezbollah indicted just last summer by the court, enough time to prepare their case. David Re, the presiding judge of the trial chamber, said the court had to balance the rights of the suspects with trial needs without unnecessary delays. The STL is tasked with investigating the 2005 Valentine’s Day bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others and plunged Lebanon into political turmoil.
The court initially indicted four members of Hezbollah in the case and began their trial in January. But Merhi, a fifth member of the group, was indicted last summer and his trial joined to the other suspects. Merhi is accused of being one of the leaders of the assassination team and helping orchestrate a false claim of responsibility for the attack. The resumption of trial is aimed at giving defense lawyers more time to prepare more contentious parts of the case, including the telecommunications evidence amassed against Merhi and his alleged role in the conspiracy to assassinate Hariri.
The hearings that will resume in June will include 25 witnesses divided into three groups. In the first phase, five witnesses will testify about the underwater search near the St. George Hotel for fragments from the site of the explosion, as well as the identification and collection of human remains at the scene and the activities of law enforcement agencies there. The second group will include experts in forensics and DNA evidence, as well as three witnesses who will testify about collecting fragments of the Mitsubishi van that was allegedly used to destroy Hariri’s convoy. The group will also include a seismologist whose equipment registered a tremor caused by the Hariri bombing. The last group will include witnesses who are expected to testify on the nature of the explosion and the size of the resulting crater.

Donetsk Rebel Leader Declares Region Sovereign State, Calls for Attachment to Russia
Naharnet/The self-proclaimed head of the "People's Republic of Donetsk" in eastern Ukraine on Monday declared the region a sovereign state and asked Russia to consider allowing it to accede.
"Proceeding from the expression of the will of the people of the Donetsk People's Republic and in order to restore historical justice, we ask the Russian Federation to consider the issue of the Donetsk People's Republic becoming part of the Russian Federation," Denis Pushilin told reporters. Pushilin was speaking after he claimed 89 percent of people in the region supported independence in Sunday's referendum slammed as illegal and a farce by both the West and Kiev. "We, the people of the Donetsk People's Republic, based on the results of the referendum held on 11 May 2014 ... declare that the (republic) is henceforth a sovereign state," Pushilin said. Pushilin had said earlier that a presidential election that the West sees as vital to ease tensions in the crisis-wracked country "will not happen" in the Donetsk region. This raised the possibility of stronger Western sanctions against Russia, whom the West blames for fomenting unrest in the former Soviet republic. U.S. President Barack Obama has said he will impose sanctions that target whole sections of the recession-threatened Russian economy if the elections do not go ahead as planned. The European Union on Monday ramped up sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, adding two Crimean firms and 13 people to an existing blacklist. Reacting to the referendums in the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, Russian President Vladimir Putin's office said that "Moscow respects the expression of the people's will" there. Putin called for the results to be "implemented in a civilized manner, without any repeat of violence, through dialogue between representatives of Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk."Source/Agence France Presse

Nigeria's Boko Haram offers to swap kidnapped girls for prisoners

Video seen by AFP reportedly shows around 100 girls wearing full veils and praying in an undisclosed location.
ABUJA - The leader of the Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram has said he will release more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by his fighters last month in exchange for prisoners, according to a video seen by Agence France-Presse on Monday. Around 100 girls wearing full veils and praying are shown in an undisclosed location in the 17-minute video in which Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau speaks, according to the French news agency. Militants fighting for an Islamist state stormed a secondary school in the northeastern village of Chibok on April 14 and seized 276 girls who were taking exams. Some managed to escape but around 200 remain missing. The group has killed thousands since 2009 and destabilized parts of northeast Nigeria, the country with Africa's largest population and biggest economy. The attack has provoked global expressions of outrage, and concern about the fate of the girls deepened when Shekau threatened in a video released earlier this month to sell the girls "in the market". Nigeria said Saturday it had deployed two army divisions to the hunt for the girls, while Israel along with the United States, Britain, and France, have offered assistance or sent experts.
The Nigerian government has been sharply criticized for its response to the abductions, but President Goodluck Jonathan said Sunday that international military and intelligence assistance made him optimistic about finding the girls. French President Francois Hollande on Sunday offered to host a summit in Paris next Saturday with Nigeria and its neighbors that would focus on the militant group. The leaders of Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger might also attend and Britain, the European Union and the United States would probably be represented as well, Hollande's aides said.

Iran officials: Assad victorious in Syria with Tehran's help
By JPOST.COM STAFF/05/12/2014/
Iranian officials have reportedly told a top British newspaper that Tehran and its ally Syrian President Bashar Assad have won the over three-year war between Damascus and opposition forces.
Senior Iranian political figures have said the West's strategy to support rebel groups opposed to the Syrian regime has failed and backfired, the Guardian reported on Monday.
In a series of interviews conducted by the Guardian, top Iranian figures claimed that US attempts to bolster opposition forces in Syria have prompted radicals and increased chaos plaguing the country.
"We have won in Syria," Alaeddin Boroujerdi, Chairman of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission was quoted as saying. "The regime will stay. The Americans have lost it," he claimed. According to the Guardian, Boroujerdi said with the government in Damascus secured, Sunni jihadist groups and individuals now posed the main threat to Syria. More than 150,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, which has become increasingly sectarian as rival regional powers have backed either Assad, a member of the Shi'ite offshoot Alawite sect, or the overwhelmingly Sunni rebels who oppose him. Iran and Russia have been Assad's strongest supporters during the crisis and world powers have called from them to exert pressure on the Syrian government for humanitarian deals.
Shi'ite Iran has already spent billions of dollars propping up Assad in what has turned into a sectarian proxy war with Sunni Arab states.
Another Iranian government advisor told the Guardian that the US had erred in seeking to topple Assad without proposing a viable alternative rule.
"We won the game in Syria easily. The US does not understand Syria. The Americans wanted to replace Assad, but what was the alternative?" Amir Mohebbian said.
During the interviews, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi charged that Syria's main priority now was to restore stability ahead of presidential elections schedule for June 3, and for Assad's alleged victory to be accepted. "Extremism and turmoil in Syria must be tackled seriously by the international community. Those countries that are supplying extremist forces must stop helping them," he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.

Police arrest Israeli man wanted in US for selling military equipment to Iran
By BEN HARTMAN/J.Post/05/12/2014/REUTERS
A 64-year old Israeli man was arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday at the request of US authorities on suspicion of illegally selling military equipment to Iran.
The man, a resident of central Israel, had previously been named back in February in a Greek press report alleging that he and another Israeli man are suspected of trying to sell spare parts for F-4 Phantom jets to Iran. The man was indicted in a US federal court in May 2013 on charges including the export of US military equipment without a license and money laundering between 2000-2004, as well as more recently selling security equipment to Iran in contradiction of a presidential decree. At the time of the indictment, the US court issued an arrest warrant for him, but the arrest was not carried out by Israeli authorities until Monday. He was attempting to depart Israel when he was arrested Sunday at Ben-Gurion Airport. A spokesperson for the Justice Ministry, which issued a press release on the arrest on Monday, could not explain why the arrest was only made on Monday even though US authorities filed a request on March 3rd to have Israeli authorities arrest the man. The State Attorney's Office Department of International Affairs is requesting that the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court extend the suspects remand by 20 days in order to allow US authorities to issue a formal extradition request.
The suspect was previously sentenced to six months in prison for a conviction on charges of unlicensed trade of American military equipment.
US authorities were expected to file an extradition request within 60 days.

EU: Foreign ministers 'extremely concerned' about breakdown of peace talks

By HERB KEINON/J.Post/05/12/2014/After Israeli officials expressed concern that the EU would publicly blame Israel for talk failure, their worries failed to materialize when ministers refused to apportion blame for breakdown. EU
European Parliament. Photo: REUTERS
EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday said they were "extremely concerned" about recent developments in the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process, but did not single out for blame either side for the breakdown of the talks.As such, a concern articulated over the last few weeks by numerous Israeli officials – that no matter what happened, if the talks broke down the Europeans would blame Israel – failed to materialize. One diplomatic official in Jerusalem said that the Europeans understand that the issue is complex, and that Fatah-Hamas unity accord further complicated the situation, making it difficult to blame Israel for the current impasse. A statement released after the monthly meeting of the foreign ministers said that the "extensive efforts deployed in recent months must not go to waste." The meeting focused primarily on the Ukrainian crisis, with that issue of much greater concern to most EU countries – especially those bordering Russia and Ukraine, as well as the former Iron Curtain countries – than the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The EU statement did, however, seem to contain a warning to Israel not to expand settlements, reflecting long-standing EU policy.
"The EU calls on all sides to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid any unilateral action which may further undermine peace efforts and the viability of a two-state-solution, such as continued settlement expansion," the statement read. "The European Union will continue to closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and will act accordingly."No specific parallel warning to the Palestinians to refrain from unilateral actions, such as applying to international organizations, treaties or conventions, was contained in the statement. According to the EU foreign ministers, "a negotiated two-state solution remains the best way to resolve the conflict once and for all. The EU regrets that despite US efforts, greater progress has not been made by the parties to date in the talks."
The EU reiterated its willingness to give both Israel and a future Palestinian state a "Special Privileged Partnership," which will ensure unprecedented economic, political and security support in the event that a final status agreement is reached. It urged the parties to used the coming weeks "to find the common ground and political strength needed to resume this process and make the necessary bold decisions."
Regarding Fatah-Hamas unity, the statement said that the EU has "consistently supported intra-Palestinian reconciliation on clear and certain terms."
The statement said the EU will continue its support – including direct financial support – for a new Palestinian government "composed of independent figures" that commits to the principle of non-violence, achieving a two-state solution, and accepting previous agreements and obligations, "including Israel's legitimate right to exist." "The EU's engagement with a new Palestinian government will be based on its adherence to these principles and commitments," the statement read.

Egypt's Al-Sisi: I won't allow religious leadership to operate in parallel to state

Frontrunner in upcoming presidential elections says he plans to make improve living conditions within two years, but will step down if Egyptians rise up against him.
Associated Press
CAIRO -- Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi, Egypt's former military chief who is poised to win the presidency in elections later this month, said in an interviewed aired Sunday that he said he would not allow a religious leadership, which is how he said his ousted rivals the Muslim Brotherhood tried to present itself, to exist in parallel to the state and its religious institutions. Al-Sisi was speaking with the Emirates-based Sky News Arabia, giving his first televised interview as a presidential candidate to foreign media. The first part of the interview was broadcast Sunday. Riding on a wave of nationalist fervor, the 59-year old al-Sisi faces a single rival in the May 26-27 vote. The media and supporters tout him as the nation's savior for ousting the elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, in July following massive rallies against him and a rising specter of civilian infighting. Al-Sisi repeated his criticism of Morsi's term in office and the Brotherhood's rise to power, saying the group maintained a parallel leadership and was concerned about amassing power and not solving the country's problems. He said the group must reassess its ideology.
Al-Sisi said the Brotherhood has lost the trust of Egyptians. "It is their problem, not mine. They need to reevaluate themselves," he said, accusing the group of turning a political problem into a religious war.
"It is not an animosity, it is not revenge between me and them," he said. The government has branded the Brotherhood a terrorist group, accusing it of orchestrating a violent campaign to destabilize the country. The Brotherhood denies it adopts violent means and accuses the government of seeking to smear its name. Thousands of Morsi supporters and leading figures in his Brotherhood are behind bars on charges varying from holding illegal protests to inciting and carrying out violent attacks and cooperating with foreign militant groups. More than 1,300 were also killed in the security crackdown on protests.
Al-Sisi refused to comment on mass trials and sentences against Brotherhood members, including a death sentence already issued against the group's leader Mohammed Badie on charges he instigated violence. The sentence can be appealed. He said the courts are independent and the law must be respected.
Prosecutors on Sunday said seven alleged Muslim Brotherhood members were sentenced to life in prison for blocking a highway and damaging a security post outside of Cairo last summer after security forces violently broke up sit-ins supporting Morsi. Another court on Sunday sentenced 36 students from an Islamic university in Cairo to four years imprisonment for taking part in a December protest against Morsi's overthrow. The crackdown has widened to include secular and non-Islamist critics of the current interim government's campaign to quell dissent, including issuing a draconian protest law that bans all political gatherings and protests without prior permission and imposes heavy fines and jail times for violators. Al-Sisi defended the law and repeated his concern for improving security and fighting terrorism, saying police must be given the chance to combat militants and not be distracted with protests. "We want to give the police the chance to work with its current capabilities in better circumstances," he said.
The turmoil in Egypt has also included violent attacks against security forces and the military, most claimed by militant groups who say they are avenging the authorities' crackdown on Islamists and protesters. The government says more than 400 policeman and military troops were killed in that violence. On Sunday, security officials said suspected militants attacked an army convoy in the restive Sinai Peninsula, killing one soldier and wounding another. The former army chief said he has plans to make improvements in people's living conditions within two years but will step down if they rise up against him - without waiting for the army to remove him.  The protesters were complaining that a year into office Morsi and his Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood were monopolizing power. Morsi refused to step down or hold a referendum on his leadership following an ultimatum from al-Sisi. The military also moved in to replace longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 after days of protests against him. Mubarak stepped down, and the military ruled for a transitional period before Morsi was elected as part of the Brotherhood's steady, subsequent sweep at the ballot box.
Al-Sisi said he has plans to make improvements in people's living conditions within two years but will step down if they rise up against him -- without waiting for the army to remove him.
"Do you think I will wait for a third time? If people go down to protest, I will say, I am at your service," he said. "I can't wait until the army asks me to (step down), I can't be like this. I fear for my country. I fear for the people." Al-Sisi retired in March to run for office, but he was a career military officer and is unlikely to be at odds with the armed forces, which have provided all of Egypt's presidents except for Morsi since 1952. Al-Sisi was head of military intelligence when the uprising against Mubarak erupted in 2011 and was promoted to defense minister by Morsi.
This was al-Sisi's second televised interview of the campaign. Last week, he gave his first interview to two Egyptian private TV stations. He has so far made no street appearances campaigning because of security concerns. Al-Sisi said he plans to be frank with Egyptians about the extent of their problems, hoping they will lower their expectations and line up behind him to solve the country's challenging economic and security problems. "We say if things go according to our planning, they will see improvements within two years."Al-Sisi said widening poverty, rising internal and external debts and an energy crunch are the country's most pressing economic problems. "On my own, I can't" solve the problem, he stressed.

Assad omnipresent in Damascus ahead of vote
May 12, 2014/By Rana Moussaoui
Agence France Presse
DAMASCUS: Syria's presidential election campaign, launched at the weekend, has transformed the streets of Damascus into a glorification of incumbent Bashar al-Assad, who is expected to easily win the June 3 vote. On the streets, parks and buildings of the city, barely a wall can be seen without a picture of the president, who is running for a third seven-year term as his troops battle rebels trying to oust him.
For the first time, Assad faces an election rather than a referendum for the post, but with the two other candidates virtually unknown, the competition appears more like a one-horse race.
In the Syrian capital, residents profess ignorance when asked about his rivals, Maher al-Hajjar and Hassan al-Nuri. "Nuri, who's this one?" asked a student near the University of Damascus in the city's Baramkeh neighbourhood, pointing at a small sign on which the businessman calls for a "free economy". In a country where the cult of personality surrounding Bashar and his father and predecessor Hafez has been built up for nearly 50 years, Syrians are used to towering posters of the Assads. Their portraits have long appeared on billboards, in shop windows and stuck to electricity poles. Busts of the father and son even watch over the entrances to public parks. And although the election will be the country's first multi-candidate presidential vote in 50 years, and a term seen on many of the posters is "mubayaa" -- a word meaning to chose a leader by pledging allegiance. Syria's opposition and western countries have lambasted the election as a "farce".
But the government sees the vote, coupled with recent successes on the battlefield, as an opportunity to portray itself as the "victor" in the country's devastating three-year war.
Alongside the slogan "Assad's Syria," other posters in the city announce that the president is "the only choice" for the ballot, which will only take place in areas controlled by government troops.
The president appears in some of the posters smiling, and in others he wears a pair of sunglasses as he throws a salute. "Our Bashar, we do not accept any other president than you," some of the posters read. Others proclaim simply: "We love you". One sign near Damascus's opera house announces that Assad has become not only "the choice of journalists and intellectuals," but also for "investors and entrepreneurs". "Syria will remain the den of lions," another poster adds, in a play on the name Assad, which means lion in Arabic. "Yes to the one who preserved Syria's pride," is emblazoned on banners that hang across busy roads. Interviewed in public, few Syrians express plans to vote for anyone but Assad. "For us, it's not even an election, it's a referendum, we want him to stay," said Maher, in his clothing shop in the Salhiyeh commercial district. Mayada, a 55-year-old housewife out in the Baramkeh neighbourhood, is equally adamant. "Those outside must understand that... we don't want anyone but him," she told AFP. "It's those abroad who are the cause of our problems."Assad is campaigning under the slogan "Together," and has launched an online presence, with a Facebook page that had over 109,000 likes by Monday morning, and a Twitter account with 1,200 followers. In Damascus's Mazzeh district, supporters have hung a banner declaring the campaign unnecessary.
"The decision (to stand) is not yours, the people have chosen you," it informs Assad, alongside the signatures of residents. The two other candidates are almost invisible by comparison, maintaining a low profile, giving no new conferences and remaining unreachable by journalists. Their slogans, ranging from "Syria... for Palestine" or "for social equality," seem out of touch with the reality of the country after more than three years of devastating war. Despite the atmosphere, some Syrians in the capital openly dismiss the election. "This doesn't concern us," one jaded watch-seller at a market said. Two young women, dressed elegantly, pause for a moment when asked about the upcoming vote, before bursting into laughter. "It's a masquerade, intimidation," one said, laughing.
"He charges ahead and doesn't look at anyone but himself, without seeing what's happening in his country," the other one said, referring to Assad.
Elsewhere, the tone is one of simple resignation, after a conflict that has killed more than 150,000 people and wrought massive destruction throughout the country. Near the Barada river, Salma is carrying her young daughter. "People are tired, we want peace," she said.


Drone Kills Six Qaida Suspects in Yemen 'War on Terror'
Naharnet/A drone strike killed six al-Qaida suspects in Yemen's east Monday, the first such raid since government troops launched their biggest offensive on the jihadists in two years, tribesmen said.
In the capital Sanaa, the U.S. embassy announced the mission "will remain closed for consular services through May 15," adding that it could remain shut for even longer depending on the situation.
The pilot-less aircraft deployed over eastern Yemen on Monday targeted a vehicle near Al-Husun, a village in Marib province, killing at least six "al-Qaida members", tribal sources told AFP.
The United States is the only country operating drones over Yemen, but US officials rarely acknowledge the covert program.
Yemen's army says it has inflicted heavy losses on al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula since it launched a major offensive against its strongholds on April 29.
But suspected AQAP militants have carried out attacks in apparent revenge for the offensive.
AQAP is regarded by Washington as al-Qaida's most dangerous franchise and has been linked to failed terror plots in the United States.
On Monday, militants opened fire on an army convoy heading from Azzan to Huta, in the southern province of Shabwa, a military official said, prompting an exchange of fire between both sides.
Troops on Thursday announced they had entered Azzan, which had been a jihadist bastion in southern Shabwa province. The interior ministry said, meanwhile, it has beefed up security in several provinces to prevent likely attacks by jihadists and infiltration by Somali jihadists. Fears of reprisals as well as a spate of attacks against foreigners prompted the United States to close its embassy in Sanaa on Wednesday.
The State Department "has been apprised of information that, out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting the embassy, indicates we should institute these precautionary steps," said the mission's website. Last week, a Frenchman was killed and another was wounded when gunmen opened fire on their car in Sanaa's diplomatic district. Both worked for a private security firm that officials said was guarding the European Union delegation in Yemen. On Wednesday, Yemeni security forces said the head of a terror cell" behind the attack was shot dead. Late Sunday the interior ministry said checkpoints were set up around the provinces of Sanaa, Ibb, Baida, Lahij and Marib to prevent the entry of jihadists fleeing the offensive in Shabwa and Abyan. A statement said jihadists aimed to "regroup" in these provinces and carry out "terrorist attacks targeting important military and security installations, as well as assassinations."
The ministry added it was on alert to "prevent the infiltration of radical fighters coming from Somalia". It did not elaborate. On Sunday, a suspected al-Qaida suicide bomber killed 12 soldiers and a civilian in an attack on a military base in the southeastern province of Hadramawt. The bombing came just hours after three gunmen were killed when they attacked a checkpoint close to the presidential palace in Sanaa, the same post where five soldiers died on Friday in a similar attack. AQAP's leader Nasser al-Wuhayshi recently appeared in a rare video in which he vowed to attack Western "crusaders" wherever they are. Jihadists use the term crusaders to refer to Western powers, especially those countries which have intervened militarily in Muslim countries, such as Britain, France and the United States.
The ongoing army offensive followed a wave of U.S. drone strikes that killed scores of suspected jihadists in southern and central regions. Both the White House and Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi have defended the use of drones despite complaints by human rights groups concerned over civilian casualties. AQAP took advantage of a 2011 uprising that forced veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh from power to seize large swathes of southern and eastern Yemen. The army recaptured several major towns in 2012 but has struggled to reassert control in rural areas, despite the backing of militiamen recruited among local tribes.Source/Agence France Presse


Japanese-Israel defense accords cover cyber security cooperation against China, North Korea and Iran
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 12, 2014/Japanese-Israel military intelligence collaboration in cyber security was at the center of bilateral defense agreements reached in Tokyo Monday, May 12, between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report. The two leaders agreed to join forces against China’s cyber war capabilities, some of which Beijing has transferred to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the North Korean armed forces.
Netanyahu and Abe agreed that Israeli cyber specialists would visit Japan to help set up cyber security programs for combating potential attacks on military infrastructure, strategic utilities and companies. Officers of Japan’s Self-Defense forces would also visit Israel to attend Israel Defense Forces courses on this subject.
More exclusive details about the cyber collaboration agreed on between Japan and Israel in the coming DEBKA Weekly out next Friday.
At a meeting with Japanese politicians Monday, Netanyahu remarked: “You face North Korea, which is a rogue regime with nuclear weapons. We face the same possibility from Iran, which is a rogue regime that wants to have nuclear weapons. They're cooperating between them, and we should cooperate between us.”
Speaking at a joint news conference after their meeting, the two prime ministers "expressed their strong hope for the early resolution of various issues of concerns regarding North Korea, including its nuclear development," Netanyahu added that Abe had told him in no uncertain terms that “Japan was facing a very real threat from North Korea,” which is believed to be preparing for a fourth nuclear test.
“The same words - 'clear and present danger' - certainly apply to the Iranian nuclear program as well," the Israel prime minister said.
debkafile adds: This was the first time the Israeli prime minister had openly mentioned a prospective Iranian nuclear test like those carried out by North Korea.
"Like North Korea before it, Iran wants to keep its military capabilities, military nuclear capabilities while easing the sanctions that are applied to it,” Netanyahu said. "We cannot let the ayatollahs win."
Tuesday, May 13, Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany are scheduled to meet in Vienna and begin drafting the text of a comprehensive and nuclear deal, which Israel has challenged for failing to dismantle Iran’s nuclear military capacity.
Sunday, on his first day in Tokyo, Japan’s Kyodo news agency, citing an unidentified government source, reported that Netanyahu is also set to hold talks with Abe on bilateral cooperation in dealing with cyber attacks. This kind of comment is rarely heard from Japanese officials who tend to be tight-lipped on the highly sensitive military issue.
However, the Israeli prime minister’s visit to Tokyo coincided with Abe’s push for Japan's highly competent military to take a more active role in world affairs, and expand the scope of is activities beyond the limitations placed by its constitution since World War II.

Opinion: Homs, Syria’s Martyr
By: Michel Kilo /Asharq Alawsat
Monday, 12 May, 2014
Now that Syrian government forces have entered Homs—the cradle of the Syrian revolution and a model of justice and freedom whose people have made supreme sacrifices for the sake of the Syrian uprising—some frank remarks must be made.
Over the past three and a half years, the population of Homs has spared no effort for the sake of all Syrians, doing everything in their power to help win the battle for freedom. Despite the losses and the suffering inflicted upon its people during the two-year siege, Homs never hesitated to shoulder the burden of the revolution. We should not forget that those who left Homs had stood out against Syrian government forces for two years, fighting under extremely harsh conditions from which many died of hunger or fled.
Many will say the regime has managed to crush the Homs rebels. Certainly, the Syrian government has for a long time been trying to enter Homs. But the city remained steadfast, driving the Damascus regime to despair. No wonder the Bashar Al-Assad government regarded Homs as its main—and for a while, sole—source of danger, laying siege to it before any other city, dropping tons of explosives and emptying the city of its people. While the number of rebel fighters has dwindled over time, the residents of Homs never hesitated in displaying their legendary heroism and bravery.
On the other hand, among the reasons that led to the rebel withdrawal from Homs are the divisions within the opposition itself, unpatriotic allegiances prevalent among its ranks, the personal considerations of rebel leaders, international and regional interference in the affairs of the revolution, and the opposition’s lack of plans to direct and protect the revolution against the government’s tricks. This is not to mention the lack of a unified, national army, fraying social solidarity, the participation of foreign fighters, the absence of organization, the failure to take clear positions towards the revolution on the part of the democratic opposition, and the apathy of large segments of Syria’s intelligentsia—who refrained from filling the political vacuum produced by the opposition’s partisan attitudes.
The role the opposition has played in the fall of Homs is not insignificant. Rather, it represented the other face of the Syrian regime. We have tolerated our mistakes for a period long enough to supersede all the acts of heroism Homs had demonstrated. If they truly want to keep territory, the rebels must learn the political and military lessons of what happened in Homs by building effective military bases and solid political structures to enable them to win the battle. The reason why victory has not yet been achieved is because the opposition have neglected the basics of success and waged battles among themselves.
What will happen after Homs? Will the rebels achieve victory with the right policies and through fostering national unity? Or will they be defeated as a result of chaos, political and military divisions, and the lack of an independent decision-making capacity?

Muslim world should act on the Boko Haram kidnapping
Monday, 12 May 2014
By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya
In the West, or more specifically in the United States and some European countries, when a girl goes missing it seems as if the world has come to an end and governments and rescue teams work tirelessly to find the missing persons. I have always admired the value for life in Western cultures and the governments responsibilities towards its citizens. In a shocking act, 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped on April 14 in Nigeria by a terror group called Boko Haram. They kidnapped the girls in the name of Allah to justify their shameful act (according to the kidnappers) and the Muslim world is yet to act. The Saudi Grand Mufti and other Muslim leaders have decried the seizure of the girls, still, nothing effective enough to resolve the issue has happened.  In a horrifying act which hasn’t happened in the history of hostage taking, a terrorist group calling themselves Muslim took the schoolgirls hostage and assaulted them because they were going to school.
The sick mind of Boko Haram
In the sick mind of Boko Haram, the girls shouldn’t get education and as punishment, according to the leader of this group, they deserve to be sold.“While Western countries condemned the act of terrorism against schoolgirls, the Muslim word remained silent”
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard
Two of them have died from snakebites and twenty of them are critically sick, according to the latest reports. The campaign to save the girls was launched in West when a person claiming to be Shekau, a member of Boko Haram, appeared in a video obtained by Agence-France Press saying he would sell his victims. “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” he said. “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.” The man- Shekau- said Western education is sin and girls should marry rather than to school. It took three weeks for the Nigerian president to set up efforts to rescue the girls and publicly acknowledge the kidnappings, which still lead to nothing.
Negative image
On a trip back to New York, I read an article in the International New York Times about the abduction, it drew the interest of a passenger seated next to me who said he could not understand why Muslims are so violent. This is how such a thing is portraying Islam in the mind and eyes of the Westerners who don’t know much about religion and Islam in particular. I told my fellow passenger that this was not true of all Muslims since Islam in fact encourages parents to give equal opportunities to both their sons and their daughters. I told him about Muslim female’s achievements and their educational levels and the support they are receiving from their parents. My fellow traveler shrugged his shoulders and said, “if this is what Islam is saying, why have none of the Muslim leaders expressed their disgust or anger towards this kidnapping?” I didn’t have an answer. Maybe the Islamic world is too busy with other matters such as terrorism, corruption, war and competition among each other, so they completely forgot the fact that these 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped in the name of Islam, according to the terror group.
A nightmare
What a nightmare the parents of the children must be going through by thinking if these girls are being sexually or physically harmed and if they ever will be rescued unharmed. U.S. officials will establish a joint coordination unit at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja where the goal will be to provide intelligence, investigations and hostage negotiation expertise. ‘The cell will include U.S. military personnel, who are expected to arrive in Nigeria in the coming days,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. Britain is sending a small team of experts to complement the U.S. team and China also offered satellite and intelligence services to aid in the search. Boko Haram is a terrorist group with link to al-Qadea and has aimed to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Africa’s most populous nation, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south. To enforce Sharia law, Boko Haram members, overpowered security guards at an all-girls school in Chibok, yanked the girls out of bed and forced them into trucks. While Western countries condemned the act of terrorism against schoolgirls, the Muslim word remained silent. The U.S. first lady, Michelle Obama, tweeted a photo of herself holding a sign that read: #BringBackOurGirls. “Our prayers are with the missing Nigerian girls and their families,” Michelle Obama said in the post. What does the Muslim world have to say?!

Kuwait minister accused by U.S. of terrorism funding quits
Reuters, Kuwait /Kuwait’s justice and Islamic affairs minister has resigned after a senior U.S. official said he had called for jihad in Syria and promoted the funding of terrorism. Last month Nayef al-Ajmi rejected the comments made in March by U.S. Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen as “groundless and baseless,” and was backed by the cabinet. But on Monday, Ajmi said the Gulf state’s ruler had accepted his resignation, local news service al-Rai reported on Monday. Kuwaiti media reported last month that he had already offered to resign once, citing health reasons. “I thank His Highness the Emir for accepting my resignation and for understanding my reasons,” Ajmi said according to an SMS alert from al-Rai, which gave no further details.
Ajmai also tweeted the same message on his official Twitter account on Monday.  Attempts to reach Ajmi were unsuccessful. He has given statements to the private news group on the topic before.
Cohen said that Ajmi had “a history of promoting jihad in Syria” and that his image had featured on fundraising posters for a financier of a Syrian rebel group linked to al-Qaeda - the Nusra Front.
has been one of the biggest humanitarian donors to Syria and Syrian refugees through the United Nations, but it has also struggled to control unofficial fundraising for opposition groups in Syria by private individuals. Unlike some other Gulf states, U.S. ally Kuwait is against arming rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But it has tolerated fundraising in private houses, mosques and on social media. In particular, some Kuwaiti and U.S. officials fear that campaigns that give militant Islamist groups funds to buy arms will not only fuel the violence in Syria but also stir sectarian tensions in Kuwait. Like other Western countries, the United States considers that Assad has lost legitimacy for his violent repression of what began as a peaceful protest movement, but does not want to see him replaced by the more hardline Islamist groups that have gained ascendancy among Syria's armed rebels. In another sign that Kuwait was reacting to concerns about Syria financing, a Kuwaiti official said a recent fundraising campaign backed by local clerics and politicians was illegal. Munira al-Fadhli, an assistant undersecretary in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, was quoted by Monday's English language daily Kuwait Times as saying that "our department does not authorise or license individuals to collect donations. Licences are only given to official charities".
Fadhli said the recent “Syria Calls” campaign violated the law and legal action will be taken against its organizers. “Syria Calls” describes itself as a “Union of Kuwaiti campaigns to support Syria” and is backed by well-known local clerics and opposition politicians.
An online poster for the group does not make clear exactly what the money is for.
Last Update: Monday, 12 May 2014 KSA 18:25 - GMT 15:25