LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For Today/The
Obligation of Bearing Those who Are failing
Romans 15/01-33: "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.” Again, it says,“ Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.” And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.”May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand. ”This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.
But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ. I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 14-15/14
The Rummenigge file opens: Mossad's top agent in Lebanon speaks for the first time/Ronen Bergman/Ynetnews/November 14/14
Is Turkey heading for a train wreck with the West/ARIEL BEN SOLOMON/Jerusalem Post/ November 14/14
Fear and Loathing in Jerusalem/Jonathan Spyer/New York Daily News/November 14/14
A Quiet Clash at the Swedish Foreign Ministry/Daniel Pipes/The Washington Times/November 14/14
Rafsanjani’s Recipe for Reconciliation/Amir Taheri /Al Arabiya/November 14/14
The Western Jihadist Phenomenon/Osman Mirghani/Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/14
Identities and job opportunities for Syrian refugees/Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya/November 14/14
Iranian-Israeli tensions heat up as both side trade slurs/Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya/November 14/14
On assassinations and interrupted independence in Lebanon/Nayla Tueni /Al Arabiya/November 14/14
Lebanese Related News
published on November 14-15/14
Lebanese Army ambushed after bomb wounds 3 soldiers in Arsal
Abu Faour to critics: Stop giving me beef
Fed up with bad food
Abu Faour requests closure of 3 food shops
Peru Judge Orders Alleged Hizbullah Member Held 18 Months
Report: Fugitive Fadel Shaker Opens Bakery, Pastry Shops in Ain el-Hilweh
Fletcher: Lebanon needs president, not new formula
STL allows Assad-related political evidence in trial
Machnouk: Assad linked to Hariri bombers
Jumblatt hails 'Hajj Kerry' over Aqsa opening
Tripartite meets ensure peace: UNIFIL chief
What's on this weekend in Beirut?
Lawyer demands Lebanon release FSA commander Gemayel Holds Onto Election of New President, Blames Local Parties for Extending Vacuum
UNIFIL Commander Discusses with Berri, Salam Situation in the South
Report: Berri, Saniora Discussed Parliament Extension Appeal Police Arrest Palestinian in 'Sextortion' Case
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 14-15/14
Canada's FM, John Baird Strengthens Canadian Relations with U.A.E.
Spain to vote November 18 on Palestinian state recognition
Israel lifts age bar on J'lem mosque prayers
experiencing their own intifada
'Israel, Jordan committed to al-Aqsa status quo'
Hamas threatens to renew violence
Israel moves to destroy terrorists' homes
Britain to introduce new laws against jihadis returning to UK
Amman talks publicly boosts King Abdullah custodial role in Jerusalem, Israeli envoy to Jordan says
Spain to hold symbolic Palestinian state vote
ISIS leader still alive despite death reports
Message from ISIS leader emerges
UN reveals ISIS' 'crimes against humanity' in Syria
France police downgrade tiger hunt to cat chase
Steinmeier to meet Israel, Palestinian leaders
Lebanese Army ambushed after bomb wounds 3 soldiers in Arsal
The Daily Star/Nov. 14, 2014
BAALBEK, Lebanon: A Lebanese Army unit was ambushed on the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal as it headed to the scene of a roadside bomb that wounded three soldiers earlier in the day. In a statement, the Army said a military unit came under fire by militants on the outskirts, prompting soldiers to fire back and pursue the gunmen who fled to the highlands surrounding Arsal. The unit was inspecting the site of a bomb blast that targeted a military vehicle around 9 a.m. in Wadi Ata on the outskirts of Arsal, wounding three soldiers. The bomb exploded as the Army vehicle passed through Wadi Ata, a security source told The Daily Star, adding that a lieutenant colonel was among the wounded personnel. Meanwhile, the Nusra Front accused Hezbollah of being behind the bomb attack on the Army, saying it detected two Hezbollah members planting the explosive in Wadi Ata late Thursday. Militants fighting in Syria have taken refuge on the outskirts of Arsal given its proximity to the Qalamoun region, where Syrian regime forces and rebels have battled for months. The Lebanese Army engaged in heavy clashes with militants in August after gunmen affiliated with ISIS and the Nusra Front attempted to overrun Arsal. The military has been the target of attacks in recent weeks.
Peru Judge Orders Alleged Hizbullah Member Held 18
Naharnet/A Peruvian judge has ordered a Lebanese man held for 18 months for investigation for entering the country with false documents and who authorities say belongs to Hizbullah. Police arrested Mohamed Hamdar on Oct. 28, saying traces of explosives were found among his possessions. Prosecutor Wendy Calero also claimed Hamdar had been gathering information for Hizbullah. Judge Angel Mendivil on Thursday ordered him held for investigation. The 28-year-old Hamdar denied he belonged to Hizbullah or had any violent intent and told the judge that police interrogators tried to coerce a confession from him. "They told me that if you're not going to collaborate with us we're going to arrest your wife now," Hamdar said in court. "I am not a terrorist," he said. Police have said they were tipped off to Hamdar's arrival in Peru by Israeli intelligence. Source/Associated Press
Abu Faour to critics: Stop giving me
Nov. 14, 2014
Dana Khraiche/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Health Minister Wael Abu Faour Friday sought to quell criticism about his recent naming of establishments selling contaminated food, revealing details about the laboratory work on samples and blasting chicken farms as a “catastrophe” on food safety.
At the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute in a Beirut suburb, Abu Faour brought the head of the institute and a lab worker to explain the sampling process and the bacteria found in contaminated food sold by supermarkets and restaurants.
“Some people turned this campaign from one to reveal the truth and corruption into a defamation campaign by some shop owners and politicians who sympathize with them,” Abu Faour told reporters in a televised news conference.
“Enough with political debauchery,” he said.
The head of LARI, Michel Afram, said the institute had worked in accordance with international standards for almost 75 years and was accredited by the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Afram also denied allegations of corruption and malicious behavior toward the establishments that Abu Faour named earlier this week, saying: “The samples we receive must be fresh otherwise we return it."
"We work based on a set of international specifications to test the sample,” he added.
Afram hinted that some of his laboratory workers were approached with bribes to manipulate the results of the testing, but denied that they accepted them, emphasizing that LARI was an independent, objective institute.
Earlier this week, Abu Faour unleashed havoc in the food industry by publicly naming several renowned restaurants and supermarkets selling contaminated poultry and beef in several parts of the country.
The controversy prompted some ministers to criticize Abu Faour for his hasty move to publicly name the institutions, while several owners of some of the institutions accused the minister of defamation.
During his tour at LARI, Abu Faour also invited a laboratory head to detail the types of bacteria found in the samples and the side effects that could occur after consumption.
The laboratory technician said traces of E. coli were present in samples of beef, particularly ground beef, which indicated that the food had come in contact with sewage and that the grinding machines were dirty.
Other bacteria found in beef indicated that either that the problem was from the slaughterhouse that distributed the meat, or the handling of the meat at kitchens in supermarkets or restaurants.
The lab technician also spoke about the presence of Salmonella in chicken samples, which she said was caused by mishandling chicken and slaughtering them in a way that would allow the intestines of the bird to spill out. “This can cause diarrhea, stomach pain and vomiting,” she said. She also spoke about “the most dangerous bacteria” found in the meat: Listeria, which is especially harmful to pregnant women and their fetuses, and could cause miscarriage and meningitis.
Abu Faour and Afram spoke about chicken farms in Lebanon with the minister saying that such farms were a “catastrophe” on food safety in the country and that slaughterhouses needed rehabilitation.
The health minister also said that many supermarkets and restaurants began secretly removing large quantities of their meat and chicken in the late hours of the evening, days after he named and shamed most of them.
He urged supermarkets to approach the ministry to take a look at the results before trying to discredit them. “Come to the ministry so we could show you the results and we see where you went wrong and we are happy to test your samples once again and exonerate you in the media,” Abu Faour said. He said Roadster Diner, one of the main establishments using contaminated chicken breasts as per the institute’s results, sent their own samples after being named this week, and the results were similar.
Abu Faour said the campaign was ongoing and that the ministry has reached an agreement with the American University of Beirut to send samples to its laboratory because the institute could no longer accommodate additional work, which Afram estimated at 280 samples per day. The institute would continue working during the weekend to test incoming samples in the ongoing campaign, Abu Faour said.
Report: Berri, Saniora Discussed
Parliament Extension Appeal
Naharnet /Speaker Nabih Berri has discussed with al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc leader MP Fouad Saniora the political crises gripping the country, As Safir daily reported on Friday. The newspaper quoted sources as saying that Saniora visited Berri along with Nader Hariri, the adviser of al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri. The meeting, which took place several days ago, was attended by Berri's aide Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil. The conferees discussed the Free Patriotic Movement's appeal of the parliament extension law, which was adopted by 95 lawmakers last week. The FPM has submitted the challenge before the Constitutional Council. On a different note, the “positive signs” that Berri has been talking about are serious, the sources said. Berri has recently claimed there were improvements in the presidential deadlock, a hint that a deal was in the making on a new head of state. Al-Joumhouria said Friday that the speaker preferred to stay mum on the “encouraging” signs on the presidential elections.
He said a call by the U.N. Security Council for Lebanese lawmakers to elect a new president does not have certain intentions but is aimed at urging parliamentarians to quickly choose a new president. On Wednesday, the 15-member council "expressed concern at the prolonged vacancy in the office of the presidency with a view to preserving the stability and the unity of Lebanon," said Australian Ambassador Gary Quinlan, whose country chairs the council. The top U.N. body requested that parliament move "without delay" to a vote and said Lebanon's politicians must show the "flexibility and sense of urgency" needed to agree on a successor to Michel Suleiman, whose term ended in May. The rival MPs have failed to find a successor over their differences on a compromise candidate.
STL allows Assad-related political evidence in trial
Nov. 14, 2014/Kareem Shaheen/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon will allow prosecutors to present evidence on the deterioration of relations between former premier Rafik Hariri and Syrian President Bashar Assad, paving the way for the first courtroom examination of Syria’s alleged role in the Hariri assassination. Defense lawyers characterized the admission of the evidence as a “sea change” and major expansion in the scope of the Hariri case, saying prosecutors were now pointing to Syria as being ultimately behind the assassination.
“Let us not be coy about it: The prosecutor now is putting his case on the basis of Syria being behind the assassination of Rafik Hariri,” said Iain Edwards, a defense lawyer for Mustafa Badreddine, a senior Hezbollah operative accused of complicity in the attack. “With such a dramatic change of course, the defense now has, to a very significant extent, to consider how the rest of its trial strategy is to be amended.”In an oral ruling, the trial chamber’s Presiding Judge David Re said the court will hear the evidence of MP Marwan Hamade, who survived an assassination attempt in late 2004, on Monday. Hamade is the first of over a dozen politicians, journalists and advisers of Hariri who are scheduled to give testimony in the coming months detailing tensions in the relationship between Syria and Lebanon, aimed at pinpointing a political motive for the 2005 Valentine’s Day bombing that rocked Lebanon and sparked massive street protests that ended Syria’s occupation of its smaller neighbor. Edwards said prosecutors were now clearly pointing in the direction of Assad’s security apparatus as being the focal point of the conspiracy to assassinate Hariri. “The Syrian connection, [or] element, of the prosecution's case is indeed a material fact underpinning the charges and therefore ought to have been pleaded in the indictment,” he said.
“Is Bashar Assad going to be formally named as a co-conspirator in the killing of Rafik Hariri? Rustom Ghazaleh? Are they going to be added to the indictment?” he asked. Ghazaleh, head of Syrian military intelligence, had allegedly threatened to break Hariri’s arm if he did not support the extension for former President Emile Lahoud. No Syrian official has ever been charged in connection with the Hariri assassination. The Hague-based court indicted five members of Hezbollah instead, and their trial in absentia is ongoing.
Machnouk: Assad linked to Hariri bombers
The Daily Star/Nov. 14, 2014/BEIRUT: Lebanon's interior minister alluded that Syrian President Bashar Assad orchestrated the assassination ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri during a speech Friday. "Bashar Assad had direct contact with the people that killed the martyr Rafik Hariri," Nouhad Machnouk told a crowd at the Phoenicia Hotel. A day earlier, defense lawyers at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, tasked with prosecuting those responsible for the 2005 bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others, said they had received evidence linking Assad's phone to the case. Machnouk made his remarks during a conference organized by peace-building NGO international Alert and the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies. The conference is focused on the findings of a report on Lebanese people's perception of the security situation. Machnouk slammed the findings of the report and also blamed the people's lack of trust in the state on the period of Syrian tutelage in Lebanon, 1991-2005. "While the Syrians were in Lebanon, they intentionally did not build a state."
Iraqi Christians patrol village
retaken from Islamic State, vow to hold ground
Robert Spencer/Jihadi Watch
Nov 13, 2014
Bakufa flagUPDATE: The U.S. has finally cut ties with the FSA. There is still no indication that U.S. officials know how to tell a “moderate” from an “extremist,” however.
“Those who do not own a weapon cannot join and many said that Dwekh Nawsha would have 250 men if only they had the needed firepower.” But Obama is busy arming groups like the Free Syrian Army.
In July 2013, Free Syrian Army fighters entered the Christian village of Oum Sharshouh and began burning down houses and terrorizing the population, forcing 250 Christian families to flee the area. Worthy News reported that just two days later, Free Syrian Army rebels “targeted the residents of al-Duwayr/Douar, a Christian village close to the city of Homs and near Syria’s border with Lebanon….Around 350 armed militants forcefully entered the homes of Christian families who were all rounded-up in the main square of the village and then summarily executed.” And in September 2013, a day after Secretary of State John Kerry praised the Free Syrian Army as “a real moderate opposition,” the FSA took to the Internet to post videos of its attack on the ancient Syrian Christian city of Maaloula, one of the few places where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken.
This is just the faction Obama is backing. This is America’s shame.
“Iraqi Christian militia patrols village retaken from Islamic State group, vows to hold ground,”
Associated Press, November 13, 2014:
BAKUFA, Iraq – An Iraqi Christian militia’s flag is hoisted high over the village of Bakufa in northern Iraq, less than a month after Islamic State militants were pushed out and the extremists’ black banner taken down.
The predominantly Christian hamlet of 95 houses that had about 500 people, located some 390 kilometers (243 miles) north of Baghdad, was overrun by the Islamic State group during its shocking blitz this summer, along with 22 other villages nearby.
In a counter-offensive, the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters swept in from the north, battling the Islamic State fighters house-to-house. The fighting forced the villagers to flee to Kurdish towns and cities elsewhere in northern Iraq.
Once Bakufa was retaken, the Kurdish fighters helped set up the village militia, made up of about 70 volunteers and known as Dwekh Nawsha, or “self-sacrifice” in Assyrian.
The men of Dwekh Nawsha now patrol and guard Bakufa round-the-clock, in the hope that the village stays free long enough so their families can return.
“We found ourselves helpless,” said Caesar Jacob, a deputy of to the Christian militia’s commander. The 44-year-old electrician said the militiamen worked “side-by-side” with the peshmerga fighters but then gradually took over responsibility for their village.
“We must depend on ourselves to defend our land for now and the future,” Jacob told The Associated Press.
The militia commander, Albert Kisso, 47, said Christian territories in Nineveh province needed their own protection and the forming of the militia was the logical outcome….
The Kurdish peshmerga fighters are proud of what they did for Bakufa.
“We came here … to protect our Christian brothers and their homes,” said Abdul Rahman Kawriny, the local peshmerga brigade commander. “There is constant cooperation and assistance. We are always together.”
The Dwekh Nawsha militiamen spend the days patrolling the narrow village streets in bullet-proof vests, their insignia prominently displayed on their fatigues.
n donations from Christian charities abroad and wealthier members of the Iraqi Assyrian community, the Christian fighters must supply their own weapons.
Those who do not own a weapon cannot join and many said that Dwekh Nawsha would have 250 men if only they had the needed firepower.
Fletcher: Lebanon needs president, not
Nov. 14, 2014/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Lebanon can do without discussions on a new constitutional formula and should instead concentrate on electing a new president, British Ambassador Tom Fletcher said Friday, emphasizing the critical need for protecting the border with Syria in the face of an ISIS infiltration. In an interview with As-Safir published Friday, Fletcher said there were continuous discussions about reconsidering the confessional system in Lebanon but that the focus should be to work according to the current Constitution and to elect a new president.
He said the presidential election was an easy and clear process that required meetings not in Iran, Russia, Britain or the United States but a single meeting under the roof of the Lebanese Parliament.
As for the future of the Constitution, Fletcher said such deliberations only brought major challenges Lebanon did not need.
Fletcher also commented on recent talk about dividing the region into smaller sectarian entities, saying Lebanon was a small country and could not be divided as such or revised into a federal state.
The ambassador also spoke about the recent security breaches in Lebanon and the Lebanese Army’s measures as part of a nationwide security plan to curb the rise of terrorist activities.
While he commended the security plan led by the military, particularly on the border with Syria, Fletcher said the authority of the state had declined, making the situation frailer.
He voiced concern that ISIS could infiltrate several parts of the border with Syria, which he said was the biggest challenge facing the military, saying that his country had recently donated nearly $7.8 million to train an Army unit on border security.
He said the U.K. had so far trained more than 3,500 Lebanese troops, most of whom fought against militants in Tripoli and Arsal.
Asked about Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria, Fletcher said it was sad that Iran was sending young Lebanese to die in Syria and that the approach should be to build a strong Lebanese state.
He also expressed hope Hezbollah would make the right decision to preserve stability in Lebanon as a priority, saying there was disputes within the party over its
Hezbollah: Aoun a consensus candidate
Nov. 14, 2014 |
Hasan Lakkis| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Hezbollah said Thursday it considered Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun a consensus presidential candidate, as the international community pressed the country’s political class to end the nearly six-month vacuum in the top Christian seat.
“[Aoun] has full agency over his decisions and has no foreign agenda ... and he heads the largest Christian bloc and he might be the only [real] leader of Christians in Lebanon and the Middle East,” said Hussein Khalil, a political aide to Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.
Khalil went on to describe Aoun as the “epitome of the patriotic leader.”
“If we want to agree on a person to fill the presidential seat, he should be a man like General Aoun. This is a conviction that we will not change until further notice,” he added.
Khalil spoke following talks with Aoun at his Rabieh residence. Khalil was accompanied by Wafiq Safa, Hezbollah’s top security official. Also attending the talks was Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, Aoun’s son-in-law.
The meeting came hours after Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc challenged before the Constitutional Council the extension law endorsed by Parliament last week.
“The challenge has constitutional and national reasons,” MP Ibrahim Kanaan told reporters on his way out of the council’s building.
“As for constitutional reasons, we ask: What does democracy mean? It means elections and transition of power, what remains of democracy if these two values were undermined?” he said.
Last week, Parliament endorsed a law to extend its own mandate for another two years and seven months, after a similar move in 2013, when it renewed its term for 17 months.
Ninety-five out of the 97 MPs attending the session, including those from Hezbollah, voted yes, citing “exceptional circumstances’ resulting from the deteriorating security situation in Tripoli, Arsal and other areas in the country. Lawmakers from Aoun’s bloc and the Kataeb Party boycotted the vote in opposition.
Kanaan dismissed the pretext of Lebanon’s deteriorating security based on which the extension law was passed.
“Where is the destructive war based on which the international law defines exceptional circumstances? Do events in Arsal and Tripoli, where the situation is getting back to normal, amount to a destructive war?”
Khalil described divergent stances between Hezbollah and Aoun over extension of Parliament’s term as a “trivial matter.”
“It indicates that neither we impose our convictions on our allies nor our allies accept that we impose on them our convictions.”
According to a Constitutional expert, if the Constitutional Council accepted the challenge, then the Lebanese government would have to hold elections.
“If the council accepts the challenge after Nov. 20, the day Parliament’s term expires, then the government should hold parliamentary elections within three months in line with Article 25 of the Constitution,” the expert said, requesting to remain anonymous.
Speaking to The Daily Star, the expert added that MPs could file another extension draft law if the challenge was accepted before the expiry of Parliament’s term.
The Constitutional Council has 30 days to look into the challenge, if no decision was made during this period, the extension law will automatically become valid.
Former President Michel Sleiman and Aoun’s bloc challenged the first extension law before the council, but the challenge was not discussed after Shiite and Druze council members, loyal to Speaker Nabih Berri and MP Walid Jumblatt, boycotted its sessions.
In a news conference Wednesday, Issam Suleiman, the head of the council, pledged that the body would meet the quorum this time to discuss the extension law.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said his group’s support for the extension law was not influenced by Saudi Arabia, which he visited last month.
“I did not raise the issue of extension with [Saudi Foreign Minister] Prince Saud al-Faisal, and Saudi officials care the least about whether extension happened,” Geagea told LBCI television station.
Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday also urged Parliament to swiftly elect a president to boost stability.
The 15-member council “expressed concern at the prolonged vacancy in the office of the presidency with a view to preserving the stability and the unity of Lebanon,” said Australian Ambassador Gary Quinlan, whose country chairs the council.
The top U.N. body requested that Parliament moves “without delay” to a vote and said Lebanon’s politicians must show the “flexibility and sense of urgency” needed to agree on a successor to Sleiman.
For his part, U.S Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale reiterated calls for electing a president as soon as possible.
“We have called on Lebanon’s Parliament to elect a president as soon as possible, and in accordance with the country’s Constitution,” Hale said during a speech at the American Lebanese Chamber of Commerce.
“The election of a president is a decision entirely for the Lebanese to take, but take it, they must,” the ambassador added.
Hale later repeated the same calls after visiting Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, also urging Lebanese leaders to hold parliamentary elections as soon as possible after the “regrettable, recent decision to postpone parliamentary elections and extend the term of the current Parliament again.”
Canada's FM, John Baird Strengthens Canadian Relations with U.A.E.
November 13, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today concluded a successful visit to the United Arab Emirates, where he met with His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, and other senior officials to advance a number of foreign policy priorities and review progress in the two nations’ Shared Strategic Agenda. “We had warm and productive discussions on keeping up the momentum in our strategic partnership,” said Baird. “We are very like-minded on a number of international issues, and share deep concern about the regional security situation. “I welcome the substantial progress achieved in the development of a defence cooperation arrangement between our two nations. Canada is firmly committed to working with the U.A.E. and other allies to combat the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL].” The U.A.E. is also Canada’s largest merchandise export market in the Middle East and North Africa region. While in the U.A.E., Minister Baird met with the Canada-U.A.E. Business Council, a private sector-led initiative launched in October 2013 to help create economic opportunities for both countries. “As a priority market under the government’s Global Markets Action Plan, the U.A.E. offers tremendous opportunities for Canadian businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises,” said Baird. “Canada is constantly seeking opportunities to strengthen the trade and investment ties between our two countries, and I firmly believe that our engagement in the U.A.E. commercial sector is a strategic investment in Canada’s own prosperity and security.” Baird was accompanied on his trip by a business delegation seeking to capitalize on the many opportunities across a variety of sectors in the U.A.E., which has one of the region’s most dynamic economies. His trip wraps up this weekend after participating in the Sir Bani Yas Forum, an annual, high-level international gathering to discuss critical issues of peace and security in the Middle East.
Fear and Loathing in Jerusalem
By: Jonathan Spyer/New York Daily News
November 13, 2014
The new violence, though indiscriminate and murderous, is concentrated in specific parts of Jerusalem. The current atmosphere in Jerusalem is reminiscent of the Second Intifada's opening days, in the autumn of 2000. Tension and fear. A sense of foreboding.
"I can feel it in my bones, what's coming," says Daniella, a native Jerusalemite who owns a restaurant in central west Jerusalem, and whose sister was killed in a suicide bombing in 2002. What's coming, she and many others think, is more violence. There are fewer pedestrians on the streets. People have become cautious and alert in public places. Most of all, a familiar, stoic melancholy has returned. The wave of shootings, automobile attacks and stabbings that hit the city this month has had a profound affect. The faces of the innocents murdered are all over the news. Talk of a Third Intifada is everywhere.
Yet atmospherics notwithstanding, in a number of substantive ways the current reality differs sharply from the time of the two intifadas (1987-92 and 2000-04). While Abbas spouts incendiary rhetoric, his security forces are continuing to cooperate with the Israelis in ensuring relative quiet on the West Bank. The new violence, though indiscriminate, brutal and murderous, is more narrowly focused. It is limited, for now, to specific areas of the country and to specific parts of Jerusalem. But the West Bank, the cauldron of so much violence and hatred during the last two intifadas, has so far stayed largely quiet. Why? Because the Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank appears to be playing a double game.
On the one hand, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is engaging in incitement, spreading fear and anger about supposed Israeli plans to upset the delicate rules for Jewish worship on the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque area. Abbas has spoken of Jews "desecrating" and "contaminating" the site — the holiest place in Judaism.
According to the status quo arrangement, Jews may visit at certain times but cannot pray at the Temple Mount. Whether such an arrangement is fair or just is a different question. But there are no plans to change it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reaffirmed Israel's commitment to it. Meantime, while Abbas spouts incendiary rhetoric, his security forces are continuing to cooperate with the Israelis in ensuring relative quiet on the West Bank. This reflects the general lack of Palestinian enthusiasm to provoke another mass confrontation with Israel. This is a dangerous double game. While the attacks on Israeli civilians have been presented in some news reports as spontaneous acts of rage, an examination of the biographies of the perpetrators so far suggests something quite different.
All of them are or were committed members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad, both groups that have been fanning the flames of anger over the trumped up threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. It's unlikely that the terrorists who carried out the attacks received specific and personalized orders. But clearly a general green light has been issued. The Palestinian Islamists want to leverage Muslim concerns regarding Al-Aqsa into a violent uprising with themselves at its head.
Things have not been going so well for the Islamists in recent months — what with the inconclusive campaign in Gaza, a chronic shortage of money due to the Egyptian government's closing of the tunnels into Gaza and general Arab concern for more pressing regional matters.
Maybe Hamas and Islamic Jihad hope to launch themselves back to regional and global attention by trumping up an Israeli threat to a Muslim holy site. The memories of the recent past have produced a mood of gloom in Jerusalem. This, amid the stories of the latest lives to be snuffed out, is entirely understandable. But as of now, the spark set by Hamas and the Jihad has yet to fully catch. Let us hope it never does.
**Spyer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center, Herzliya, Israel, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Is Turkey heading for a train wreck
with the West?
By ARIEL BEN SOLOMON \ 11/14/2014/Jerusalem Post
Turkey’s foreign policy is becoming more aggressively Islamist by the day. How far can it go before it ruins its relationship with the West? Or perhaps the question should be, what would Turkey have to do to get kicked out of NATO? Quite a lot, it turns out.
Ankara is set to take over the presidency of the G20 next month, and aims to use the opportunity to promote its image as a global economic power and assuage its self-image as a country increasingly isolated on the world stage and buffeted by conflict on its southern frontiers.
According to a Pew Research Center poll released in July, only 19 percent of Turks view the US positively, and 25% feel that way about the EU.
Moreover, seven in 10 Turks have an unfavorable view of NATO.
“The problem is that NATO has no mechanism to kick out a member,” Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
“Countries have withdrawn before, of course, but once NATO allows a country in, it’s stuck with it,” he said. “No one expected that any NATO member would change direction so radically.”
“Even if [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan swore allegiance to al-Qaida tomorrow – NATO wouldn’t have any mechanism to expel him short of dissolving the alliance entirely,” said Rubin.
Since the Turkish people gave Erdogan and his Islamist AK Party a first-round victory in the presidential election in August, he has increasingly become dictatorial, clamping down on the press and the Internet, and weeding out his opponents in the police, military and the prosecutor’s office.
As Erdogan has consolidated power at home, he has had a freer hand to act abroad.
Ankara has been reluctant to play a frontline role in the US-led military coalition. US officials have said Turkey's open border policy with Syria helped allow radical groups to grow there.
Libya has descended into chaos three years after the toppling of strongman Muammar Gaddafi, with warring factions battling for control and the capital Tripoli currently run by an alternative government partly backed by Islamist groups.
Turkey's appointment last month of a special representative to Libya, who became the first envoy publicly to meet with the internationally unrecognized authorities in Tripoli, is part of Ankara's efforts to promote UN-backed peace negotiations, according to senior Turkish officials.
Unless NATO comes up with a mechanism to expel or suspend members, the whole alliance could be at risk,” said Rubin. “It could go the way of CENTO, the Central Treaty Organization, which also counted Turkey as a member, but couldn’t survive the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.”
“NATO governance by consensus was one of those things that looked good on paper but doesn’t work well in reality,” asserted Rubin. “It is the Trojan Horse all over again. Turkey can do far more harm from the inside than outside, but NATO is too paralyzed to do much about it.”
And the release on Thursday of 12 Turkish nationalists detained after an attack on US sailors in Istanbul can only increase tensions. The men could still face charges for causing insult and injury.
They assaulted three sailors on a crowded street in Istanbul on Wednesday, shouting “Yankee go home,” throwing paint and trying to pull hoods over the Americans’ heads.
The group, members of the Turkish Youth Union (TGB), were told they faced possible charges of insult, injury and breaching laws on public protests in an Istanbul court before being released by the prosecutor, the Dogan News Agency (DHA) said.
The Pentagon said shore leave had been canceled for servicemen from the US Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS Ross, which was expected to leave Istanbul on Thursday.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the attack, branding it disrespectful and “impossible to view with tolerance.”
“Turkey’s population has displayed for many years anti-American feelings. The US will downplay the recent incident in Istanbul,” Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, told the Post.
“The US actually mulls changing strategy in Syria – going after [President] Bashar Assad – to please the Turks and enlist their support against Islamic State,” he said. “Obama’s Washington still sees Turkey as an indispensable ally.”
Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish columnist for Hurriyet and a regular contributor to The International New York Times, told the Post on Thursday that “although most Islamists in Turkey dislike the US, these aggressors were not Islamists, but secular nationalists.”
Those that attacked the US sailors represent “a strident synthesis of Kemalism, the ideology of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and ‘anti-imperialist’ leftism, which has its roots in the upsurge of Turkish Marxism in the ’60s,” explained Akyol.
“In their mind, they were taking the revenge of the ‘hood incident’ of 2003, when some Turkish soldiers in Iraq were arrested by US soldiers,” he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Spain to vote November 18 on
Palestinian state recognition
J.Post/Spain's parliament will hold a symbolic vote on November 18 over recognition of a Palestinian state, according to a report in Spanish newspaper El País. The vote initiative is being spearheaded by the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party in order to urge the government "to recognize 'Palestine' as a state... with the belief that coexistence between the states of Israel and 'Palestine' can be achieved through dialogue and negotiations that guarantee peace and security, respect for citizen's human rights, and stability in the region."
The possibility of a recognition vote was first reported on October 17, following shortly after Britain's symbolic Palestinian recognition vote, though a date was not set at the time. At the end of October, an Israeli petition calling on the Spanish parliament to recognize a Palestinian state garnered 469 signatures. Among those spearheading the Israeli initiative was former Foreign Ministry director-general Alon Liel, in hopes that Palestinian statehood recognition would help break the stalemate in the peace process. “We are horrified by the possibility, almost a reality, of a single state,” Liel told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “We are afraid that such a state will end up being an apartheid state.”
Amman talks publicly boosts King Abdullah custodial role in Jerusalem, Israeli envoy to Jordan says
By TOVAH LAZAROFF \ 11/14/2014 10:14
King Abdullah’s role as the custodian of holy Muslim places in Jerusalem and as a moderate Arab leader in the region was publicly boosted by Thursday’s Amman talks, Israel’s Ambassador to Jordan Daniel Nevo told Army Radio on Friday.
It also underscored the relationship between Israel and Jordan, even though there was no forthcoming announcement that Amman would return its ambassador to Tel Aviv.
The violence of the past weeks has weakened the King standing with regard to Jerusalem, because it leaves him open to attack by extremists elements in Jordan, Nevo said.
He spoke with Army Radio the morning after a trilateral meeting in Amman between US Secretary of State John Kerry, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After the trilateral meeting, Kerry announced that both Netanyahu and Abdullah were putting in place a mechanism to quell weeks of violence in Jerusalem, that has already spilled over into the West Bank.
Netanyahu also pledged yet again to maintain the status quo on Temple Mount in which the Islamic Wakf controls the Al-Aksa Mosque compound. Muslims are allowed to worship there. Jews and Christians can visit, but they can not pray at the site.
Many Jordanian citizens are Palestinian, so they have a personal interest in what happens in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza he said.
Every event, particularly the violent ones, is felt in Jordan, he said.
"Israel recognizes the importance of King Abdullah as the custodian of Islam's holy sites in Jerusalem," Nevo said. “We have always tried to support this,” he said.
"We have never renounced this [position] - on the contrary, we have supported it as much a possible, “ he said.
It is also a role that is officially set out in the 1994 peace treaty, he said.
The visual of Netanyahu speaking directly with King Abdullah was also important, he said.
After the meeting Kerry spoke of Jordan’s as an important US ally and recognized its custodial relationship with the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Al-Haram Al-Sharif.
Jordan, Kerry said, has a played a “historic role as the custodians of the Haram Al-Sharif.”
Since 1967, it has worked with Israel to administer the site, he said.
Kerry also praised Abdullah as a “courageous leader” who has play a significant role in resolving regional crises.
“I thank him for his exhaustive personal efforts in trying to resolve some of the region’s most difficult challenges, whether it’s Syria and Iraq, ISIL, or the longstanding conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Kerry said.
“Through all of these challenges, one constant has been the enormously constructive role that Jordan has played under difficult circumstances in order to try to resolve those challenges. And we’re very grateful and we admire those efforts,” Kerry said.
Britain to introduce new laws against
jihadis returning to UK
J.Post/British nationals who become foreign fighters abroad could be prevented from returning home under tough new laws to deal with jihadists fighting in conflicts like Iraq and Syria, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday.
A new counter-terrorism bill will also prevent airlines that do not comply with Britain's no-fly lists or security screening measures from landing on its territory, Cameron said in an address to Australia's parliament.
Britain's security threat level was raised to its second-highest level in August due to the risks posed by Islamic State fighters returning from Iraq and Syria. Security analysts say foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria now number in the thousands.
"We will shortly be introducing our own counter terrorism bill in the United Kingdom: new powers for the police at ports to seize passports, to stop suspects traveling and to stop British nationals returning to the UK, unless they do so on our terms, new rules to prevent airlines that don't comply with our no-fly lists, or our security screening measures from landing in the UK," Cameron said in Canberra, before heading to Brisbane for the Group of 20 Leaders Summit.
"We must ban extremist preachers from our countries. We must root out extremism from our school, universities and prisons. As we do so, we must work with the overwhelming majority of Muslims, who abhor the twisted narrative that has seduced some of our people. We must continue to celebrate Islam as a great world religion of peace," he added.
Under the new powers, police will be able to seize passports to stop suspects traveling abroad and to stop British nationals returning unless they submit to screening processes.
Cameron first mooted the new laws in September. On Friday he said they would be introduced "shortly", without providing a specific date.
The rise of Islamist militants in Britain has been a growing concern since four Britons -- two of whom had been to al-Qaida training camps in Pakistan -- killed 52 people in suicide bomb attacks in London in July 2005.
The murder last year of an off-duty soldier, Lee Rigby, on a London street by two British Muslim converts exacerbated the concerns.
The United States is pushing for the United Nations to adopt international standards to deal with foreign fighters in Middle East conflicts and the threat they could pose when they return to their home countries.
Britain is also focused on what Cameron termed the "new and pressing challenge" of getting extremist material taken down from the internet.
"In the UK we are pushing companies to do more, including strengthening filters, improving reporting mechanisms and being more proactive in taking down this harmful material. We're making progress but there is further to go. This is their social responsibility, and we expect them to live up to it," he said. Cameron is expected to head to Brisbane with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott later in the day.
On assassinations and interrupted
independence in Lebanon
Friday, 14 November 2014
Nayla Tueni /Al Arabiya
On November 5, 1989, Rene Moawad was elected president of the Lebanese republic. He was elected after the Taif Accord, which ended the civil war, was approved. On November 22, he was assassinated after attending Independence Day celebrations. Moawad did not have the chance to implement his aspirations but he certainly wanted to implement the Taif Accord without any obstructions or modifications. This cost him his life because the tutelage power wanted to obstruct the implementation of the agreement, just as it made the Arab Deterrent Force deviate from its path to be composed of entirely Syrian forces and resemble an occupying force. The Taif Accord resolved issues relating to the relationship with Syria in order to pave way to the redeployment of its army before the complete withdrawal in September 1992. The Syrian command, which was supposed to ensure the security of the new president who didn’t even make it to the Baabda presidential palace, did not like this. It is rumored that Syrian intelligence officer Jamea Jamea was always at the forefront of the elected president’s motorcade and that his car was about 200 meters ahead. It’s also rumored that when the explosion went off near Raml al-Zarif high school, Jamea had arrived near then-Prime Minister Salim al-Hoss’ residence and simply went on his way as if nothing happened. My aim is not to dig up the past or to carry out public trials although all case files of political assassinations have not been finalized by the Justice Council and no progress has been marked in any investigation. Perhaps no one dares to look into these case files lest they suffer the same fate if they attain any evidence as to who the murderer is. This is why the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was established after former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated. When Hariri was killed, we had all had enough of crimes being committed without the perpetrators coming to light.
“In 1989, a foreign power assassinated the president to prevent the realization of civil peace”
My aim of bringing up this subject today is to firstly remember the martyr, Moawad, who paid for his patriotism with his life. Remembering him may be a lesson to the nominees who sacrifice the country to attain a political seat or who don’t hesitate to obstruct the political and democratic path and continue to obstruct the country’s development and subject it to foreign interferences. Lebanon has been emptied of all value and has thus become controlled by majorities and by the power of arms and money.
Independence Day is near – and we confront issues that are more difficult than the assassination of Moawad. This is because the state celebrates a suspended and an incomplete independence. The state is without a president and assassination threatens the state’s structure regardless of the government’s actions and regardless of the legislations the parliament approves. In 1989, a foreign power assassinated the president to prevent the realization of civil peace. Today, the entire country is being targeted by a domestic power that works in accordance with the aims of foreign powers.
The Rummenigge file opens: Mossad's
top agent in Lebanon speaks for the first time
Published: 11.14.14,/ Israel News
He grew up with Imad Mughniyeh in Beirut; family members hold key positions in Hezbollah, and no less than nine death sentences await him in Lebanon – but for three decades, Amin al-Hajj (codename Rummenigge) was one of the most significant, sophisticated and audacious agents working for Israel in the Middle East. So why does he now say in an exclusive interview that Israel 'threw me to the dogs'?
In the mid-1980s, senior Israeli intelligence officials began monitoring a new and dangerous development in the Middle East: Palestine Liberation Organization operatives, who just a few years earlier had been chased out of Beirut to Tunisia under Israel Defense Forces fire, were slowly but surely returning to Lebanon. For the intelligence officials this meant only one thing: The PLO was clearly rebuilding, and one of the few significant achievements of the First Lebanon War was about to be wiped out.
Israel's intelligence systems began monitoring the PLO infiltration routes and soon learned that many of the terrorists were leaving their training camps in Tunisia and Libya and choosing to enter Lebanon via Cyprus, to which they would fly. Once in Cyprus, the PLO members would board yachts and small boats and head for Lebanese shores. The busy maritime lines between Lebanon and Cyprus, however, made it impossible for Israel to stop and check all of the many vessels in the area.
Israeli intelligence officials sought a solution – and then someone offered a suggestion: "Call Rummenigge."
Rummenigge was the nickname the Israeli intelligence community had assigned to Amin al-Hajj, who was then one of Israel's key agents in the region and thought of as a highly significant intelligence asset. A Shia Muslim of immense proportions, sharp-witted and unscrupulous, whose spectacular mustache made him a true legend in the espionage community, Rummenigge listened studiously to the problem posed to him and then he proposed his solution – prostitutes.
"I went out and recruited several high-class prostitutes who worked at a number of nightclubs in Limassol where PLO members used to hang out," Rummenigge says of the network he set up in an exclusive interview with Yedioth Ahronoth. "Under the influence of alcohol and the pampering of these women, they would talk about what was happening – who's coming, who's going, and how he's getting there."
Rummenigge was the recipient of the information flowing from hotel bedrooms in and around Limassol; and to this intelligence provided by the prostitutes, he added information collected from Cypriot cab drivers, customs officials and elsewhere, and passed everything on to his handlers. From that point on, it usually went something like this: An Israel Navy missile boat, with prisoner interrogators from Unit 504 Military Intelligence on board too, would wait for vessels singled out by Rummenigge's network.
"Our explicit objective was to capture them and not to kill them," says a former Military Intelligence officer, "because we knew a proper and intensive interrogation would yield much more than a corpse floating at sea. It was easy to make them talk. The problem remained of course how to locate the ships from among the thousands of yachts and boats coming and going from Cyprus, and Rummenigge solved this problem for us."
This wasn't the only problem that Rummenigge solved.
For three decades, Amin al-Hajj served as one of the Israeli intelligence community's most senior agents in the Middle East. He was at the center of a long list of hair-raising operations, most of which remain highly classified and not for publication. His efforts led to the capture of hundreds of terrorists, helped to uncover numerous tons of arms, and put his life at risk on more than one occasion.
Listening to al-Hajj's monologues, one is immediately drawn into a dark world, seeped in intrigue, which sometimes sounds fantastical. But conversations I have held over the past months with senior officials in the intelligence community reveal that Rummenigge was indeed involved in numerous important intelligence affairs and operations. While some of these intelligence officials may remember him as an unruly agent, prone to extravagant and ostentatious behavior, there's no disputing the bottom line: For years on end, Rummenigge was a huge intelligence asset for Israel, and his actions saved the lives of a great many Israelis and contributed significantly to the country's security.
And now he's going to war – not against the Palestinians, who tried so often to kill him; not against his Lebanese family, many of whom have joined Hezbollah and ostracized him; not against his Dahiyeh neighborhood friends, who have imposed nine death sentences on him; but in fact against the people who were his handlers and worked alongside him all those years.
"Israel's security establishment has thrown me the dogs," al-Hajj says in anger. "I'm living in Israel under an expired travel pass, without rights, without medical insurance, with only a few good friends who help me now and then and come to my rescue. They used me, extracted all they could from me, and I gave my heart and soul – and now they've tossed me aside like some kind of a rag."
Hide-and-seek with Mughniyeh
Born in 1955 in al-Dahiyeh al-Janubiyeh (the southern suburb) in Beirut, Amin Abbas al-Hajj comes from one of the richest and most important families in Lebanon's Shia community, the country's largest and most influential ethnic group. In Dahiyeh, al-Hajj and his family lived on streets named after renowned family members – his father, grandfather and uncle; and a well-known Beirut printing house once printed a copy of the Koran that bore a picture on the front page of his father, Abbas al-Hajj – a very unusual step designed to demonstrate the tremendous respect for the man in the Lebanese capital.
Amin, the boy, was raised in a very religious home, a home that identified strongly with Lebanese nationalism, a home that hosted the country's leaders, leading business executives, religious clerics and other people of influence; and saved on his cell phone are photographs of his father with presidents and prime ministers. His father had a special and close relationship with Lebanon's pro-West president, Camille Chamoun, who was destined to play a crucial role in Rummenigge's future.
Amin's grandmother lived on the same street in Dahiyeh and he used to visit her almost daily. Armed with the candy she would give him, he'd go out onto the streets to play with the other neighborhood children. On one such day, he met a kid who would one day drench the Middle East in blood. "A group of children a little younger than me were playing outside my grandmother's house, on Abbas al-Hajj Street," Rummenigge recalls. "They knew that I candy from my grandmother and asked me to share some with them too. That's when I met him – Imad."
Imad is Imad Mughniyeh, who went on to become Hezbollah's military commander and one of the most notorious terrorists to come out of the Middle East. Mughniyeh, too, came from a traditional Shia family, albeit far less respectable and wealthy than Amin's. "His father was a worker at the Jabar sweets and biscuits factory in Beirut – a simple man. We were in contact as children," al-Hajj says. "He was very naughty. Then I heard he had joined the Force 17 training camps and we lost contact."
It wasn't long before the young al-Hajj saw his country slide into a bloody civil war. In 1978, Rummenigge recounts, he got caught up in a street battle in Beirut with PLO fighters and killed a number of Palestinians. Ever since, the mere mention of the word, Palestinians, is enough to spark a burning hatred in his eyes; he won't even speak Yasser Arafat's name, and instead uses a series of epithets and curses, the most low-key of which even is not fit to print.
In the wake of the street battle, the Palestinians and the Syrian forces, that supported them, put a price on Rummenigge's head and the danger to his life was palpable. While no longer president, Chamoun remained a central figure in the complex web of Lebanese politics, and he smuggled al-Hajj out to the Christian sector of the city.
The young Rummenigge was appointed initially as Chamoun's aide, and then went on to serve as head of the former president's team of bodyguards. He was trained in close-quarters combat and VIP protection techniques by then-Jordanian King Hussein's personal security guards. On one occasion, he sustained injuries in a car-bomb attack aimed at taking out Chamoun. The assassination attempt would become one of many that Rummenigge would survive. The injuries he sustained left their mark: He needs to get out of his chair every few minutes to straighten his back – a reminder of the piece of shrapnel that pierced his body in one of the attempts to kill him. Most of these attempts resulted in the death of the assassins, or as Rummenigge customarily puts it when describing the elimination of his enemies: "We sent them to their mothers."
And he sent quite a few people to quite a few mothers.
Meanwhile, throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Rummenigge became more and more involved with Camille Chamoun, and was exposed, too, to the clandestine ties between Lebanon's Christians and Israel. "The Chamoun family had absolute faith in Amin and they entrusted him with some of the logistics of the ties with Israel," says a source who was serving in 504, the Israeli Military Intelligence unit dealing with the requirements of live agent, at the time. "We saw it as an excellent opportunity to get close to this wild man."
The fact that Rummenigge was sitting slap-bang in the middle of a critical intelligence crossroads, was no fan of the Palestinians to say the least, and was well connected within a torn-apart Lebanon made him a prime candidate for recruitment as an agent for Israel. Unit 504 officials decided to make the move and slowly began using the meetings Rummenigge would come to on behalf of Chamoun to get close to him, until he was recruited.
Rummenigge became an Israeli agent; and at the time, no one - not even al-Hajj himself – could have imagined where the young man from Dahiyeh in the south of Beirut would end up.
Not even one dollar
"Initially I simply told them (the Israelis) what I knew – a piece of gossip from here, a story from there, and some other information we received about the PLO," Rummenigge says of the beginnings of his ties with Israeli intelligence. "From meeting to meeting, they wanted to know more and more. They would always come to me with a long list of questions and tasks."
Shortly thereafter, he acquired the nickname that would stick with him throughout the years. The issue of the nickname is an essential component in the recruitment and handling of a source. The idea is to create a divide between the true identity of the source, his name and particulars, and the person who gets to read the material the source provides, all for the sake of guarding his safety and keeping his ties with Israel under wraps. For this very reason, a source may have several nicknames, in keeping with the type of intelligence he provides, the identity of the consumers, or the organization for which he is working on a particular operation.
According to one of Al-Hajj's handlers early on, "After it was clear that he was collaborating with us, we needed to record him as a source and assign him a nickname. Usually, headquarters (of Unit 504) determines the nicknames, something that's supposed to be random. But I wanted to do something different this time. I was a big fan of Bayern Munich at the time, as I am today. Back then, supporting a German soccer team wasn't the done thing. Many of my friends, soccer fans from within the unit, were very angry with me for daring to show such fondness and support for something German.
"So I decided to rub it in a little, and to pay a little respect to the player I admired most – Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who was the league's top scorer that year, 1979; I think he scored 25 goals. They were also born in the same year, and in the same month, too, I think – Amin and Rummenigge.
"I requested special permission from headquarters to select the nickname myself, and they agreed. Only then, they asked me what I had chosen. And I said: Rummenigge. They were a little shocked, but accepted it. I told everyone that day at lunch, at the Unit 504 base in Nahariya; and just to annoy them, I said: I hope Rummenigge the agent provides the same amount of intelligence as Rummenigge the footballer scores goals for Bayern."
And so, with the unusual nickname ascribed to him, al-Hajj relayed intelligence to Israel.
"With time, the information I had was no longer sufficient, and I began deploying an entire network of informants throughout Lebanon," he recounts. "I'd pay a little money to some young boys and they'd run errands for me based on the tasks the guys from 504 would ask me to carry out.
"We had a special communications arrangement: They'd call from a certain number in Cyprus to a telephone in Camille Chamoun's office and say they wanted to see me, seemingly to pass on a particular item or message to Camille. When I wanted to get in touch with them, I'd call the number in Cyprus and says it's Old Fox on the line. Then I'd board a yacht that belonged to the Chamoun family, sail out to sea, and meet there with the 504 people on an Israel Navy missile boat or Dabur (patrol boat)."
At that time, before the 1982 War between Israel and Lebanon, Unit 504 was dealing primarily with PLO activity in Lebanon and collecting data on the organization's deployment, the size of its forces, the location of its headquarters, and anything else that could be of assistance to Israel.
"They wanted information about the apparatus in the western sector under the command of Abu Jihad, and about his senior commanders in Lebanon" Rummenigge recalls. "They wanted to know the location of the headquarters of Nadim Matraji, Awna al-Hilo, Naim Juma'a from Force 17…"
And from here, al-Hajj goes into a detailed description of the various objectives presented to him by his handlers, making extensive use of the excellent memory for detail with which he is blessed. "At some of the meetings that concerned the location of headquarters and forces," he says, "they would produce updated aerial photographs, lay them out on a large table on the missile boat, and I'd point out the various sites."
Over time, the network Rummenigge wove grew and developed. Within Fatah, he had two very senior sources (named Rummenigge 3 and Rummenigge 4) who passed on information to him in return for money. Al-Hajj claims the money came from his own pocket and that he never once asked to be reimbursed or for any payment for his services.
"We were ready to pay him a lot of money," confirms one of his handlers from Unit 504. "But Rummenigge adamantly refused. On one occasion, during a meeting on an Israel Navy gunboat, he slammed his fist on the table with tremendous force and made a huge scene, saying that if we try one more time to push money on him, he will cease all ties with us. 'I'm a Lebanese patriot,' he said to us. 'And I'm helping you to help us get rid of those fucking dogs (the Palestinians). I don't need your money and don't taint the work we are doing here with bribery.'"
According to Rummenigge in our interview, "I helped Israel because I thought it would be the only force that could fight the Palestinians."
What did you think would happen?
"Very simple: I wanted Israel to enter Lebanon and wipe out the PLO."
'He's a dead man'
At one point, the network Rummenigge set up for Israeli intelligence numbered no fewer than 15 secondary agents. And the information provided by the network served to aid many bombing operations and ground raids carried out against PLO forces in the years leading up to the First Lebanon War.
One of the primary targets about which the network gathered intelligence was Ali Hassan Salameh, whom the Mossad dubbed Burner, in keeping perhaps with Israel's wish to see him go up in flames. Salameh, one of Arafat's closest associates and chief of operations of Black September, was the man Israel held chiefly responsible for the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.
"It was clear to me that as far as Israel was concerned, he was a dead man, and as soon as they manage to get to him, they'll put a bullet in his head," Rummenigge says. "They wanted information about his office, about his home and about the routes he takes every day between these, and the gym where he used to train, and sometimes the family of his second wife, Miss Universe Georgina Rizk."
In 1978, the information provided by Rummenigge prompted Caesarea, the Mossad's special-ops unit, to dispatch its so-called "Warriors" to try to meet up with Salameh at the gym, where they initially thought to assassinate him. Salameh was eventually killed by a car bomb planted by the Mossad in January 1979.
Another principal objective at the time was the pro-Syria as-Sa'iqa faction of the PLO, and its leader, Zuheir Mohsen. Thanks to intelligence relayed by Rummenigge, as well as other sources on Mohsen, Israel knew that Mohsen had left Lebanon and had traveled in early July 1979 to the south of France. On July 25, Mossad assassins shot and killed him. Following the assassination, his faction lost most of its power.
In June 1982, with the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Rummenigge's network was a principal component of Israel's intelligence efforts. Rummenigge at the time was running a small vegetable market in Achrafieh, a Christian neighborhood of Beirut; and with the market serving as his cover, surrounded by crates of indigenous cucumbers and juicy oranges from Sidon, he operated his sources. Unit 504 officials, for example, asked him for as much information as possible about the leaders of the Palestinian organizations, in an effort to carry out strikes against them from the air or the ground. "They were interested primarily in Abu Jihad and Abu al-Hol (who was responsible for internal security in the PLO)," Rummenigge says.
During the time leading up to the outbreak of the war, the Mossad also strengthened its ties with another significant force in Lebanon – the Christian Phalange, under the command of the Jumail family. Rummenigge wasn't too fond of them, but his collaboration continued.
"On a number of occasions, Bashir Jumail came with us on a yacht to meetings in Haifa and puked his guts out all the way from seasickness," he mockingly relates. "Once, I was present at the start of the meeting between him and Prime Minister Menachem Begin, in Room 214 at the Carlton Nahariya. Joining forces with Bashir and his people was your biggest mistake. They were truly devoid of boundaries, morals or loyalty, and got us all into trouble in the end. Take, for example, what happened when Israel invaded Lebanon – the Phalange entered Sidon and started looting the businesses of Palestinians and raping their women. You shouldn't have let that happen."
Towards the end of 1982, with most of the PLO forces out of Beirut and in Tunisia, and the Israel Defense Forces withdrawing in the direction of southern Lebanon, the nature of Israel's intelligence operations against the Palestinian organizations underwent a major adjustment – and Rummenigge's life changed significantly too. He left the service of Camille Chamoun and began operating as a private businessman, involved in the transportation of goods by land and by sea throughout the Middle East. Rummenigge transported cars, beverages, cigarettes, and even salt from Israel – and accumulated significant wealth.
There was talk at the time that his import-export network was actually a cover for drug trafficking – allegations that Rummenigge adamantly denies. "I have never dealt in drugs; it's all a myth. Charges have never been filed against me. No one has ever produced a shred of evidence to support this lie," he says.
The rumors, of course, didn't stop Israeli intelligence from continuing to employ Rummenigge, despite the fact he had a tendency to brush off his new supervisor and failed to behave modestly and discreetly, as might have been expected from someone who was collaborating with Israel.
"He put on the whole Lebanese arrogant show-off act," says a Unit 504 member, "and made sure everyone knew he was filthy rich, driving the fanciest cars, and hanging out with the most beautiful women. Whenever he'd go to a restaurant, Rummenigge would only wait to be told there's no room – and then he'd shove a few hundred-dollar bills that he'd peel off from a thick wad in his pocket into the hand of the maitre d'. And suddenly, lo and behold, there was room.
"We were really scared to go out to eat with him in public places because he immediately drew so much attention.
"He'd come to the meetings with his handler from 504 at the Rosh HaNnikra base in a new and shiny black Mercedes SEL-500 black. The poor handler would arrive in his trashy Renault 4. The entire scenario story sparked antagonism that Amin didn't really try to dispel."
Antagonism or not – Israeli intelligence still had much to do with Rummenigge; and the shipping enterprise he had set up became a wire service of sorts in part too: Rummenigge hired captains and sailors who added eyes and ears in ports to which Israel had no access; and some of Rummenigge's ships were used by his arch enemies in the PLO to transport equipment and people from place to place. Rummenigge would then relay all this information to his Israeli handlers.
One of the captains who worked for Rummenigge was Samir Asharfi (Rummenigge 13), who turned out to be a particularly useful source of information. "Many terrorists at that time would go for training in Libya and Tunisia," Rummenigge recounts. "Samir would send us all the details. A number of these boats fell into the hands of the Israel Navy."
This part of the story ended very badly. The PLO began to suspect Captain Asharfi, and he was abducted in Beirut in August 1985. "They called me from the ship and I realized that Samir had been made," Rummenigge recalls. "I had someone at the port, who followed the vehicle in which he was taken. He told me they got to the Ein el-Hilweh camp and took him into a certain house, where, as I understood, they were going to interrogate him.
"It was a difficult time. Samir knew a great deal – not only about what he was doing, but also about me and very many other people and our ties with Israel. I realized that if he were to speak, it would lead to the exposure and capture, and surely the death, of many others."
What did you do?
"I placed an urgent call to 504 and told them what had happened. I gave them the exact coordinates of the location where he was interrogated. A few hours later, the air force dispatched an aircraft that bombed the house and killed everyone, including poor Samir, may Allah have mercy on him. I was very sorry about it. Samir was my good friend – but there was no alternative."
Hated but feared
Sophisticated and complex operations like these became Rummenigge's natural environment. The operation in Cyprus that was mentioned at the beginning of the article and in which Rummenigge recruited prostitutes and taxi drivers to report on PLO terrorists returning to Lebanon didn't end in the bedroom.
At some point, through a firm he owned, Rummenigge purchased a shipping company that had two passenger ships that worked the Larnaca-Beirut line. "I knew that the PLO used these ships to transport people. After taking control of the company, I told them to load one of the two ships, the Maria R, with as many people as they could the next time. I instructed them to give those son-of-a-bitch terrorists blankets and plenty of water and provisions for the journey – anything to make them feel at ease about putting as many as possible on the ship."
That night in February 6, 1987, around 50 PLO operatives boarded the ship, which set sail in the dead of night with Rummenigge tracking it from afar, from a lookout point on the shore, accompanied by an Israeli intelligence official. Some 50 kilometers off the coast of Beirut, the Maria R was surrounded by Israel Navy vessels – and all those on board were unceremoniously transferred to Unit 504's underground interrogation facility. The ship's crew was subsequently released. The PLO members were jailed in Israeli prisons for many years.
This time, too, however, the operation wasn't an entirely smooth one.
The capture of the Maria R set off alarm bells in the PLO's offices in Larnaca. Their investigation revealed Rummenigge's secret ownership of the shipping company. Two PLO assassins tried to kill him outside the hotel at which he was staying in Limassol. Al-Hajj and his wife fled on a cruise ship from Larnaca to Haifa, from where they were then quietly taken to the Tel Aviv Hilton.
A party attended by several of Israel's intelligence elite and the commander of the Israel Navy was held that same week at a restricted security installation. Everyone was there to pay their respects to the star attraction, the man of the hour – Rummenigge.
But with all due respect to Rummenigge, the fact that his shipping enterprise had been burned didn’t of course stop the wave of PLO terrorists who wanted to return to Lebanon. Israel revealed that the PLO had approached a Cypriot shipping agent by the name of Naoum in an effort to coordinate the smuggling of its people through him. Initially, Shin Bet security service officials tried to recruit Naoum – but to no avail. Rummenigge got word of the matter and asked to be entrusted with the recruitment task.
Naoum was summoned by al-Hajj to a meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel in Athens. To his surprise, Israeli intelligence officials were waiting there for him too. Rummenigge did the talking and made Naoum an offer he couldn't refuse.
"He came to the meeting with a briefcase," Rummenigge recounts. "I asked him: 'What's that? Where's your suitcase?' He replied: 'I didn't bring one because I'm not staying. I'm going back to Cyprus in the evening.' I said: 'You'll stay here for as long as these people tell you to stay. And from now on, you give everything you have to these people – otherwise I'll get you a ticket for a cruise without a ship.' He knew I was serious and that he wouldn't want to mess with me."
According to an intelligence official who was in the know about the operation at the time, "Naoum was always telling me how much he hates Rummenigge, really despises him, but that he's scared to death of him, and that he has no choice but to obey him."
Rummenigge confirms the story. "I know he hated me – like many did; but he was afraid. He knew that if he didn't do what I said, I'd send him to his mother."
The flow of information from Cyprus resumed. On one occasion, Naoum came through with information that the PLO's commander of the Beirut sector would be arriving in Lebanon from Cyprus on a small boat. The intelligence came in late, and there were concerns that the navy wouldn't have enough time to capture the prime target.
A special ops unit that was rushed to Cyprus arranged a "fault" with the PLO commander's car and he was forced to remain on the island for another 24 hours. The delay gave the navy time to mount an operation to capture the commander, who spent the following years in an Israeli jail and was only released after the signing of the Oslo Accords.
Meanwhile, Rummenigge's Cypriot network continued to grow, and yielded huge quantities of high-quality intelligence. A relative of one of the network's members owned an Athenian restaurant frequented by senior PLO officials, and the dining establishment became a hub of extensive activity on behalf of Israeli intelligence.
It emerged later that the son of one of the network's members was involved in a stormy homosexual affair with a senior Fatah money man. The ensuing pillow talk led to the exposure of the organization's convoluted and corrupt funding operations. On the advice of Rummenigge, Israeli intelligence officials decided not to tell the network member about his son's sexual orientation, "because he would have killed him on the spot, no qualms," Rummenigge says.
And Naoum? What happened to him meanwhile? He served Israeli intelligence loyally until August 1997. Then, during a meeting in Limassol with his Israeli handler, he suffered a heart attack and died.
Throughout all these years, al-Hajj didn't budge from his adamant refusal to accept payment from Israel, and wouldn't even accept money for air tickets. As far as he was concerned, it was a matter of honor. Truth be told, Rummenigge didn't really need the money. He reaped the benefits of his ties with Israel elsewhere entirely. Following the Maria R affair, al-Hajj became less secretive about his ties with Israel. He built a luxury and ostentatious office block at the border crossing between Israel and Lebanon; and from there, from the heart of an IDF base, he coordinated his booming trade operations. So as not to live too far from his office, Rummenigge leased an entire floor in an apartment building in Nahariya, a cost city, few kilometers south to border, broke down the interior walls, and created a huge living space where he resided with his extended family.
As a cub reporter in 1998, I heard rumors of a strange Lebanese man, boasting a spectacular mustache, who was doing as he pleased in the north of Israel; and I went to Nahariya to meet Rummenigge. From the heart of the huge apartment, surrounded by various means of communication, including a direct link to the naval base in Haifa, Rummenigge would navigate his ships around the Mediterranean, with the room full of fawning companions and beautiful women.
At the time, Rummenigge was in the habit of traveling in a convoy of luxury Mercedes vehicles adorned with diplomatic plates, which he received, according to his version - or stole, according to another - from the Swiss Embassy in Beirut. Late one night, after a few hours during which he refused to say much at all, I got into his car with him. He was going out for a night on the town in Haifa, and I had asked for a ride home.
"Are you ready?" he asked me, his hands gripping the steering wheel of the Mercedes. "Ready for what?" I asked. "For this," he replied – and slammed his foot down hard on the gas. The Mercedes sped wildly forward. A note to all: The State of Israel has traffic laws; Rummenigge has his own.
Shortly after we passed Acre, a police car with flashing lights appeared suddenly behind us. "No problem," Rummenigge said with a smile and brought the Mercedes to a screeching halt. The policeman who approached out of the darkness appeared extremely agitated. "Good Evening, Mr. Police," Rummenigge said with a smile as he lowered his window.
"Ah, it's you," the policeman said, clearly disappointed. "Good evening, good evening" – and on his way he went.
"For years, he ran wild in the north like he owned the place," says a senior Northern District police officer from the period. "But we couldn't touch him. He had the broad and impenetrable backing of the intelligence community."
Rummenigge's relationships with the women in his life were complex affairs. He claims to have been married to no less than 22 women who bore him a total of eight children (one was killed in 1987). One of his wives was a beautiful Lebanese model. Rummenigge convinced her to join him in Israel and the two were involved in a troublesome relationship.
Once, when he was being treated at Ichilov Hospital for complications stemming from one of his injuries, he heard that she was about to return to Lebanon. He lost his cool at the hospital in front of the doctors and his Mosssad handlers, who had shown up just then to visit him, ripped out his IV tubes, and set off on foot with the intention of apprehending his beloved before she escaped. He managed to catch up with her, but she returned to Lebanon in the end.
Rummenigge, however, didn't remain alone for very long. The same wife returned to Israel, lived in Nahariya and gave Amin a son and a daughter. In 2012, she returned to Lebanon with their daughter, while their son remained her with Amin. She wasn't the last.
Some of his relatives who remained in Lebanon paid a price for his choice. One of his brothers was arrested by Syrian intelligence officials and died following his interrogation, which probably included severe torture; another brother was thrown to his death from a high floor of a Cairo hotel; "and I have no doubt that it was because of my ties with Israel," al-Hajj sadly concludes.
All of this took place after Hezbollah had already become a key player in the Lebanon arena. Rummenigge claims that Israel played a significant role in the rise of the terrorist organization.
"The Israelis decided to invest everything in the relationship with the Christians," he says. "But look, when you they invaded Lebanon, the Shias welcomed the Israeli troops with flowers and rice. Thereafter, you they treated the Shias like dogs. They meddled in their lives and allowed the Christians to meddle in their lives. This gave rise to the platform from which Hezbollah subsequently sprouted."
Many members of Amin's family have occupied senior positions in Hezbollah, and many still do including the director of Hezbollah's legal department, brigade commanders in the organization and one of leaders of Hezbollah's operational wing. In an opinion piece that appeared in one of the organization's publications, a group of Rummenigge's relatives announced his expulsion from the family and his absolute excommunication. He knows he'll never be able to return to Lebanon.
Like a used rag
At the end of the 1980s, Rummenigge had a falling out with the intelligence community. The backdrop, he says, was an order made for vehicles for Unit 504 and for which he claims he didn't get the money. Rummenigge took the matter up with the Israeli courts – and failed.
Since then, things for him have gone from bad to worse. First, he was suspected of forging his passport. "I had a Lebanese passport that I'd keep extending for myself, and all with the consent of the guys from 504," Rummenigge says. "And then what happened? Just because 504 is angry with me now, it's become illegal?"
Rummenigge was arrested and detained for a few days, but was subsequently released after representatives of the intelligence community came forward to confirm their consent for his actions.
Then, one of his ships was caught in Israel with 3.85 tons of hashish on board. In his defense, al-Hajj claims that corrupt elements in the South Lebanon Army were responsible for loading the hashish onto the ship, and that he was the one who reported the drugs. "They conducted a search of the ship only because of my report," he says.
To support his claims, Rummenigge points out that no charges were ever filed against him in the case.
Thereafter, he ran into trouble over his purchase of a new fishing vessel, which was confiscated by the Egyptian authorities. Rummenigge went to Egypt to fight the decision, won his case in an Egyptian court, but then discovered that someone had sunk the ship. The Egyptians, for their part, apprehended him and threatened to deport him to Lebanon. Rummenigge took the matter up with Knesset members who had served previously in the intelligence community and knew him from there, and with defense establishment officials; he also placed a tearful call to yours truly with a request for help. Just moments before he was due to be deported to Lebanon, and following intervention on his behalf by a high-ranking member of the intelligence community, he was returned to Israel.
And al-Hajj has been stuck in Israel ever since. He's here under a temporary residence permit that has expired, without medical insurance, without a livelihood, barely able to support himself, bitter and angry at the whole world. A few months ago, he suffered a stroke from which he barely recovered. And six weeks ago, after the series of conversations we had ahead of the publication of this article, he suffered another stroke, more severe this time – and he was admitted again to hospital, where he still remains today. He's receiving treatment thanks only to a number of doctors who know him from the past, know of his contribution to the country, and instructed that he be hospitalized despite not having medical insurance.
"It's a little hard for me to understand why I'm being treated like this, why, after everything I did, everything I provided, all those who were caught thanks to me, they're tossing me aside like a used rag," Rummenigge says from his bed.
"People have plenty gripes about Rummenigge, there's no doubt about that," says one of his former handlers. "But then again, if he was a saint or a priest or rabbi, he wouldn't have been able to help us. We look for people just like him. The things he did – and I say this to you based on years of experience – are not the norm; they're on another level, in a different league, a totally different volume of activity. This man of all people, cannot be left to spin around like a UFO (that) doesn't exist anywhere. We need to put an end to this shame of treating someone who helped us for so long and saved the lives of so many Israelis in such a way."
The official response
In response to the claims raised by Amin al-Hajj (Rummenigge), the Prime Minister's Office, in charge of the Mossad, issued the following statement: "In 1995, Amin al-Hajj was deemed entitled to the services of the Security Assistance Administration. Due to the actions of the individual in question and the fact that he has cut ties with Administration officials, the resolution of his status in Israel could not be completed. Assuming the individual in question submits an approach to us on the matter of resolving his status in Israel, we will again review it."
As for the quarrel with Military Intelligence's Unit 504, the IDF Spokesman's Office stated: "For obvious reasons, and in light of the sensitivity of the entities mentioned in the article, we are unable to elaborate and respond to the heart of the matter. Nevertheless, we must stress that we are unaware of claims against the unit regarding his rehabilitation, and that other claims raised in the past against the unit were rejected by the various legal instances."**Responding to these statements, Rummenigge says that contrary to the claims made by the Prime Minister's Office, the process of recognizing him as a rehabilitated agent has even yet to begin, and thus he never stopped it.
A Quiet Clash at the Swedish Foreign
by Daniel Pipes/The Washington Times
November 13, 2014
WT title: "Sweden's wishful thinking on the Mideast: Naive notions about Iran and 'Palestine' smell like nonsense"
Sweden is arguably the most "European" of European countries by virtue of its historically cohesive nationhood ("one big family"), militaristic and socialist legacies, untrammeled immigration, unmatched political correctness, and a supercilious claim to the status of a "moral superpower." These features also make it perhaps the most alien of European countries to an American conservative.
In this context, I offer a summary and paraphrase of my discussion with two senior members of the permanent bureaucracy in the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) held during a recent visit to Stockholm. Our affable but pointed discussion focused on the Middle East, on which we agreed on almost nothing; I might as well have been in Sudan's or Syria's MFA.
Arvfurstens Palats, an eighteenth century royal palace occupied since 1906 by the Swedish Foreign Ministry.
The following contains the seemingly sober officials' more colorful statements, then my responses. First, we discussed the Iranian nuclear program:
1.The IAEA inspection regime in Iran is the most intense ever mounted anywhere; it includes cameras that watch the Iranian installations around the clock, so we definitely know what's going on there.
My response: How does the Swedish MFA know that those cameras cover every last nuclear installation? In fact, neither Stockholm nor any other capital has any idea what's going on. The Iranians' program could be far more advanced than is known; indeed, Tehran could have even purchased nuclear weapons from North Korea or Pakistan.
2.The Islamic Republic of Iran abandoned its program to build nuclear bombs in 2003.
My response: The Iranian government, as its president, Hassan Rouhani himself has indicated, never for a moment stopped its nuclear program.
3.If an outside power attacked the Iranian nuclear sites, this would counterproductively cause Tehran to get really angry and decide to build The Bomb.
My response: The notion that striking the installations would inspire the Iranians to proceed is precisely backward. Also, recall that both the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs collapsed after being struck by Israeli jets.
Iran's centrifuges, as shown by the government news agency.
We also discussed the Arab-Israeli conflict in the context of the Swedish government's very recent decision to recognize a state of "Palestine":
1.This move is aimed, I was told, not to punish Israel but to give heart to those Palestinians despairing of the two-state solution, consisting of an Israel next to a Palestine. As such, it is not hostile to Israel (where government and population back the two-state solution) but hostile to Hamas (which rejects this outcome).
My response: The Israeli government and population reacted very negatively to the Swedish decision and will, no doubt, be annoyed to learn that it was patronizingly intended for their own good. Conversely, Hamas has hailed this move and called on other governments to follow Stockholm, in order to isolate Israel.
2.Israeli "settlements" on the West Bank (which I prefer to call "towns") render impossible the two-state solution, making it urgently imperative to prevent their further expansion.
My response: I flip this around and see Israeli building as constructive pressure on the Palestinians to get serious about ending the conflict. The longer Palestinians procrastinate, the less land remains.
3.The many statements and posters in which Fatah endorses "car jihad" are unimportant because Fatah is not the official Palestinian "government." So, the Swedish MFA does not concern itself with this homicidal incitement.
My response: Fatah, the PLO, ad the Palestinian Authority are three names for the same entity. Making a legalistic distinction among them permits Mahmoud Abbas, the head of all three, to get away with murder.
4.The demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state is a trap for Abbas, who cannot do so because of the many Arabs living within Israel.
My response: Not to accept Israel as the Jewish state means rejecting the entire Zionist enterprise. Nor is this demand a trap; rather, it responds to changes on the Israeli Arab side in 2006. Why else would Ehud Olmert, then Israel's prime minister – who displayed a Swedish-like fervor for an accord with Abbas – have initiated this demand?
Fatah endorsed Palestinian car jihad in a cartoon showing an Aqsa-like car and the words "The killing of Israelis by running-over operations in Jerusalem."
This complete disagreement on facts, interpretations, and predictions points to an enormous and ever-widening gap between countries and governments founded on like values. At a time when the ranks of enemies are proliferating, that those who should be realistic and friendly prefer instead fumes of fantasy leaves me discouraged about the future of Europe. What disaster will it take to awaken the Swedes -- starting with their estimable foreign policy functionaries?
**Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
Rafsanjani’s Recipe for Reconciliation
Amir Taheri /Al Arabiya
Friday, 14 Nov, 2014
For decades, relations between the United States and Iran have been marked by attempts to make a deal at the eleventh hour. This started in 1978, even before the mullahs seized power. Recent revelations show that leading Khomeinist figures, notably Ayatollah Muhammad Beheshti, regarded as the Islamic Republic’s “strongman” until his assassination in 1981, held secret meetings with a range of US diplomats and CIA agents.
According to accounts of those meetings which have just been published, the mullahs demanded US support by arguing that if they didn’t come to power, Iran could fall into the hands of pro-Soviet communists. President Jimmy Carter bought that bill of goods, and sent the Deputy Commander of NATO, a certain General Huyser, to Tehran to persuade the Iranian military to declare “neutrality” and let the mullahs to stroll into power.
In 1984 the mullahs used the same tactic again by persuading President Ronald Reagan that the Islamic Republic’s defeat in the war against Iraq would mean seizure of power by more radical factions, while a victorious Saddam Hussein might move against Israel.
With Israel acting as intermediary, Reagan agreed to rush weapons to Iran to help Khomeini turn the tide of the war. Amiram Nir, then Mossad’s rising star, supervised the shipments. Hashemi Rafsanjani chaperoned the secret contacts, and his protégé Hassan Rouhani was one of the foot soldiers in shady maneuvers that led to the “Irangate” scandal.
Today, having captured the presidency of the Islamic Republic, the same faction is using the same tactic to clinch a deal with President Barack Obama, who is desperate for a “success” to conceal the mess he has made of American foreign policy.
The Rafsanjani faction claims that unless the US endorses a deal on the nuclear issue, hardliners in Tehran would win two key upcoming elections. If a deal is made, the Rafsanjani faction would be able to start “capturing other levers of power,” with the ultimate aim of closing the chapter of the revolution and making Iran a “normal country.”
Rafsanjani and his clique believe they could trigger Iran’s Thermidor, in other words to bring Iran out of its revolutionary fever, by winning the Speakership of the Assembly of Experts next March. This post, vacant since the death of Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani in October, is important because the 86-man organ selects the “Supreme Guide.” The current “Supreme Guide,” Ali Khamenei, is trying to move one of his pawns, Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, into the vacant chair. However, Rafsanjani has indicated his intention to throw his turban into the ring. If he wins, he would be holding the Sword of Damocles above Khamenei’s head.
If Rafsanjani wins the Speakership next March, his faction would be in a strong position to secure a majority in the next election for the assembly.
The faction’s next target is to win a majority in the Islamic Consultative Majlis, Iran’s ersatz parliament. With its current control of the Interior Ministry, which organizes the elections, the faction has a good chance of arranging the outcome provided it controls the Council of Guardians, or at least bribes and/or browbeats enough of its members to endorse the results.
Political mullahs always follow winners in any power struggle. Thus, if the Rafsanjani faction wins enough power within the establishment, it would have little difficulty persuading many mullahs to switch sides.
Some members of the faction are already talking of the “golden day” when Rafsanjani himself becomes “Supreme Guide,” perhaps also absorbing the post of the President of the Republic.
The beauty of all this history is that successive US administrations have fallen for the same trick. They have ended up backing one faction against another in a power struggle that has marked the Khomeinist era from the start. The problem, however, is that none of the factions involved have the power to deliver what the US wants, that is to say a friendly Iran that does not try to stir up trouble in the Middle East in the name of Islam and revolution.
The reason is that people like Khamenei, Rafsanjani, and others are influential players only in the context of the Khomeinist movement. Outside that context they are nothing, because the majority of Iranians are disillusioned with Khomeinism.
This has led to a Catch-22 situation: Rafsanjani must distance himself from the revolution to win American support, but to wield influence within the revolution he has to be, or at least pretend to be, anti-American.
In recent years, a new complication has been added to the mix: the rising power of the military-security institutions that, at least as far as the younger generation is concerned, owe little or nothing to mullahs.
Today, Iran’s military elite consists of thousands of young, highly educated individuals with experience in a range of domains. In contrast, the political mullahs lose on both scores. Active in politics they have not had enough time to develop proper clerical careers and thus cannot claim legitimacy or respect on religious grounds. At the same time, they are shunned by the genuine theological elite in Najaf and Qom.
For decades the US, and other democracies, played the “hawks-and-doves” game in the context of policy on the Soviet Union. Western policy-makers did not understand that not even the most dovish of Soviet doves could deliver the real thing: an end to the USSR as enemy of Western democracies. During the so-called détente, some “doves,” notably Leonid Brezhnev, pretended to be changing course. But, having realized that outside the context of the Communist Party‘s monopoly on political power they were nothing, and failed to deliver. Mikhail Gorbachev, the “dove” that tried to change the context, ended up presiding over the collapse of the Soviet Empire.
A year later when he stood for election as president of post-Soviet Russia, he collected less than one per cent of the vote. In other words, outside the context of the Soviet system, he was a nobody.
Iran’s problem is not Khamenei. Even if Rafsanjani manages to get rid of Khamenei, which is doubtful because the “Supreme Guide” is more popular among Khomeinists than Rafsanjani could ever be, the existing context does not allow Iran to become a normal country.
The solution is not a change of personnel but change of system.
And that is not in Rafsanjani’s gift.
The Western Jihadist Phenomenon
Osman Mirghani/Asharq Al Awsat
Friday, 14 Nov, 2014
The arrest of four people a few days ago in Britain on suspicion of planning a terrorist operation, and the raising of the national security alert level, reflect the concern of several Western countries over the thousands of their citizens who have gone to join the fighting in Syria and Iraq—some estimates place the figure as high as 9,000. Large numbers of these jihadists have joined the ranks of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). There are serious fears that those jihadists—loaded with radical ideology and the culture of beheadings—will return and carry out terrorist attacks in their home countries. In an effort to deal with these returning extremists, the authorities in several Western countries have taken measures and enacted laws to hold them to account for fighting abroad and joining terrorist organizations. But laws do not provide answers to the deeper questions surrounding the recruitment of home-grown jihadists. One of the most prominent questions is: what attracts Western youth to terrorist organizations such as ISIS? How was the radical ideology of terrorist groups able to infiltrate the minds of young people, despite all the precautions taken, laws enacted, and funds spent ever since the war on terror was declared? Has the war on terror become a lifeline for extremism and a key weapon in the arsenal of terror ideologues and preachers who employ it in their rhetoric to attract new followers?
The West may find answers to some, but certainly not all, of these questions in the experience of Arab and Muslim countries that have suffered from terrorism and the involvement of their youth in terror groups while under the influence of the discourse of radical preachers. The circumstances of young people who have grown up in the West, attended Western schools, and were exposed to its culture differ in several aspects from those in Arab and Muslim countries lured by extremist ideology and terrorist groups. The overwhelming proportion of the Western youth joining ISIS or Al-Qaeda and its offshoots were born to parents who emigrated from Arab and Muslim countries, but they remain the products of Western culture—born, raised, and educated in the West.
It is true that ISIS has developed effective propaganda tools more advanced than those of Al-Qaeda, and it is certainly employing social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter and YouTube, with extreme efficiency. But these alone do not explain why youths have left their countries and their families behind, risking their lives on the battlefields in Syria and Iraq, or why they were attracted to extremist ideology in the first place.
Indeed, there is a lost generation of youth disillusioned by their circumstances and societies, with many becoming a target and fuel for terror movements. Some of them suffer from identity crises and feel alienated and marginalized, and perhaps also victims of racial discrimination. Others are indignant at their Western societies and angered by the news coming out of the countries of their forefathers. This is not to mention the scenes of destruction and slaughter—whether in Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, or Palestine—which extremist preachers and terror ideologues employ in their speeches and propaganda videos in order to consolidate the idea that the West is oppressing Muslims and destroying their countries. Others may act out of a spirit of adventure and romanticized ideas of warfare, or are attracted by ISIS propaganda that portrays the group as defying Western hegemony and might.
This is not to deny the presence of young people who choose to embrace extremist ideology out of a sense of “spiritual alienation,” given the declining significance of religion in Western societies in general. Such people look for groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda and find their rhetoric of establishing an “authentic” Islamic state appealing. They believe that by joining these groups they are fulfilling a religious duty.
The biggest challenge facing the West is not to eliminate ISIS, but rather to understand the reasons that make some Muslim youth vulnerable to being entrapped by extremism. There is no way to address this phenomenon without understanding the reasons behind it. The West can learn lessons from other countries in this area, or it risks making the same mistakes. One such mistake includes harboring large numbers of radical Islamists who are now taking advantage of the atmosphere of freedom to promote their extremist discourse. The war on terror must be of a global character because this epidemic is not limited to one geographic spot, and its ideology, as shown in the past, operates across national borders. This is particularly the case in the age of the Internet and social networking, which pose another set of challenges that require careful study and a considered response.
The importance of two issues should be recognized, a step which requires political courage. First, the reasons behind the political and social grievances should be addressed. Second, the West has to reconsider some aspects of its foreign policy which have led to the formation of hotbeds of terrorism. Otherwise, all efforts to understand the reasons behind, let alone truly address, the phenomenon of thousands of Western youths joining groups like ISIS will fail.
Identities and job opportunities for Syrian refugees
Friday, 14 November 2014
Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya
The announcement by the Turkish labor minister to grant Syrian refugees something more than tents and blankets was a positive one. He said that refugees will be registered as temporary residents and the government will help them obtain jobs in sectors that need labor force. Not only is it a humane gesture for 1.7 million Syrian refugees but also a progressive political stance as it would help the refugees remain steadfast against the regime and at the same time benefit the Turkish economy.
The Syrian regime’s policy is to force its citizens to emigrate. When Assad’s forces target populated areas, they are in fact bombing these areas to punish ordinary residents in cities which joined the rebellion. The Assad government also seeks to punish neighboring countries with an outpour of millions of refugees.
“It is impossible to defeat terrorism as long as Syria is not stable and it will not be so under Assad”
The Assad regime, its thugs and other terrorist groups, have destroyed cities and villages, terrified people and forced them to flee. These hapless people left their homes both out of fear and to look for food and treatment after their cities were systematically besieged and international aid was blocked.
Displacement of people
In the largest displacement of people in modern history which has continued for the past three years, around nine million Syrians have crossed borders to seek refuge in neighboring countries including Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The Assad regime is hoping that the neighboring states as well as a majority of resentful refugees will be forced to reconcile with the regime and come back under its terms. This explains the regime’s strategy of rendering millions of people living in revolting areas homeless. However, after these three difficult years, this policy no longer remains viable.
Despite displacing more than one-third of its population, the regime is still unable to control the partly freed areas and is also unable to provide the basic necessities needed to live a normal life in such a weak state. This shows that the regime will not be able to keep its promise of bringing back the refugees even if they recognize its authority.
After punishing those living in the areas that revolted against it, the regime is now forcing the youth in the less-affected areas to join its Iranian-led militias and defend the territory left under its authority.
The compulsory recruitment attempt may harm the regime and cause an internal friction within the army itself.. This is because most of those who are refusing to be enlisted are from among the regime’s supporters, which shows the state of despair Assad’s regime is in.
A recent Washington Post report re-enforces the notion that Assad’s camp has much to fear. The paper reported a decrease in Assad’s support among Alawites, seen as his last pillar of support.
Further evidence of the regime’s possible ouster is a U.S. official’s remark. The official commented that President Obama – who can no longer be trusted on the Syrian issue - changed his opinion and asked his aides to look for alternatives to Assad, believing that if he were to remain in power, fighting ISIS would be impossible. Whether or not Obama is being sincere or just wants to appease Arab governments, the fact remains that it is impossible to defeat terrorism as long as Syria is not stable and it will not be so under Assad.
While we wait for a political or military solution, granting refugees the opportunity to live with temporary identities and giving them simple jobs to make a living is a beautiful humane step that will give these oppressed people a glimpse of hope after years of suffering and torment.
Iranian-Israeli tensions heat up as
both side trade slurs
Friday, 14 November 2014
Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya
The geopolitical tension between Iranian and Israeli leaders has been heating up in the last few weeks. This heightened tension appears to be a rhetorical conflict so far, which underlines significant concerns for politicians on both sides.
Most recently, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei published a nine step plan which would “annihilate” Israel. In response to the question “what is the most urgent action to take for militarily confrontation in Israel,” the supreme leader stated: “The West bank should be armed like Gaza and those who are interested in Palestine’s destiny should take action to arm the people of the West bank, so that the sorrows and grieves of the Palestinian people will reduce in the light of their powerful hands and the weakness of the Zionist enemy.”Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded in a statement: “There is no moderation in Iran. It is unrepentant, unreformed, it calls for Israel's eradication, it promotes international terrorism,” and he added “This terrorist regime in Iran must not be allowed to become a nuclear threshold power. And I call on the P5+1 countries [the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany -the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany] - don't rush into a deal that would let Iran rush to the bomb.”
Later, Iran’s supreme leader took to Twitter, tweeting a series of messages to call for the elimination of the “barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of Israel.”
“From the Israeli leaders’ perspective, the U.S. appears desperate to strike a final nuclear deal while giving up to the demands of President Hassan Rowhani ”
The underlying reason of the heightened Iranian-Israeli tensions rests in the U.S.-Iran nuclear dialogue, American willingness to cooperate with the Islamic Republic on crucial national security issues, indirect cooperation in fighting the Islamic State, and the potential tilt in the regional balance of power against Israel and in favor of Iran.
Iran-U.S. cooperation on major national security issues
The recent secret letter from President Barack Obama, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, has ratcheted up Netanyahu’s anxiety towards the reliance of the White House on Iran, rather than Israel, in one of the critical issues in the Middle East. The other concern is linked to Tehran’s increasing role as a regional power with regards to the latest developments.
Accordingly, President Obama’s letter delineated the shared interest that the Washington and Tehran bear in the region, particularly in fighting the Islamic State. The letter also asked the supreme leader to grasp the opportunity in nuclear talks in order to seal a final nuclear deal. The messages from Iranian leaders, in response to President Obama’s letter, have been mixed and divided. But overwhelmingly, it appears that the Iranian leaders are signaling that they are open to overtures. This issue has sidelined Israel, close ally of the U.S., when it comes to crucial security matters in the Middle East.
In addition, what has ratcheted up the concerns of the Israeli leaders is the robust political will in the U.S. and Iran, particularly from President Obama, to seal a final and comprehensive nuclear deal and add to his questionable achievements and accomplishments in the Middle East. For Israel, the final nuclear deal would dramatically alter Iran’s geopolitical role in the region, its economic status, ratchet up cooperation between the West and Tehran as well as pull Tehran out of isolation by opening the Islamic Republic to the international market. From the Israeli leaders’ perspective, the U.S. appears desperate to strike a final nuclear deal while giving up to the demands of President Hassan Rowhani and foreign minister Javad Zarif. In the last two weeks, and particularly in Oman’s round of nuclear talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been holding multiple bilateral talks in addition to multilateral nuclear negotiations with the French politicians, primarily Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, as well as the Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.
Since France was critical of the interim nuclear deal, calling it a “sucker’s deal”, and raised concerns that it would not go along with what was outlined in the interim nuclear deal, the U.S. is currently attempting to make sure that France is on the same page with the United States with regards to the final points of nuclear negotiations, and that no final hurdles will come up in the eleventh hour.
On the other hand, the bilateral talks with the Russian foreign minister are aimed at guaranteeing to Moscow that the final nuclear deal will be a win-win contract for Russia, as it will host Iran’s uranium and then enrich and reprocess the uranium into nuclear fuel for Tehran. This follows that the Islamic Republic will technically be dependent on Russia. More fundamentally, in addition to the aforementioned issues that have increased the tensions between Iran and Israel, Israel believes that the Islamic Republic will cheat its way through to build a nuclear bomb after a final and comprehensive nuclear deal is reached, or the U.S. will allow the Islamic Republic to become a “nuclear threshold state” such as Japan. Netanyahu stated, “Israel will not countenance an agreement that leaves Iran as a nuclear threshold state. This endangers us all.” In addition, from the Israeli leaders’ perspective, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the international community would not be capable of fully monitoring all the technicalities of nuclear enrichments in the Islamic Republic as well as verifying that the Islamic Republic is complying with the rules of the final agreement. In other words, the Islamic Republic will have the international sanctions lifted and simultaneously progress to become a nuclear power.
Due to the fact that Iranian and Israeli leaders view their relationships from the perspective of a zero-sum game, for Israeli leaders, all these developments score a victory for the Islamic Republic and significant blow to Israeli leaders.