April 01/15

Bible Quotation For Today/If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him,
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 11/47-54: "So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, ‘What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.’But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.’He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to put him to death. Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.

Bible Quotation For Today/For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father.
Letter to the Hebrews 02/05-12: "God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels.But someone has testified somewhere, ‘What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them? You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honour, subjecting all things under their feet.’ Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, ‘I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.’

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on March 31 April 01/15
A joint Arab coalition against whom/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/March 31/15

Iran reaches deadline day – but what happens next/Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya/March 31 April/15
GCC must unite on Yemen for sake of citizens/Salman Aldossary/Al Arabiya/March 31/15

Lebanese Related News published on March 31 April 01/15
Report: STL Gives Deadline for Lebanese Government to Cooperate with Defense
Salam Asks Donors for Assistance to Confront Syrian Refugee Crisis
Syria Aid Pledges Hit $3.8 Billion
Hizbullah Slams Nasrallah's Critics, Considers Counter-Remarks Worthless
Salam Vows to Suspend Cabinet Sessions if Ministers Discuss Arab Summit Stance
Mustaqbal Throws Weight behind Salam: Lebanon Can't Breach Arab Consensus
Syria aid pledges top $2 billion as donors meet
UCC resumes protest for wage hike 
Joreige: No crack in Cabinet over Yemen differences 
Abu Faour sues hospital, baby products company 
Lebanese woman stabbed to death by husband in Sydney 
Spy software in 10 countries originated in Lebanon
Syrian army secures mountain area near Lebanese border
Change and Reform Demands Cabinet to Carry out 'Stalled' Military Appointments
Fresh Tit-for-Tat Abductions in Arsal, al-Labweh
SCC Rallies across Lebanon, Lashes Out at Parliament’s Procrastination
Families of Arsal Hostages Meet Ibrahim, Will Not Escalate Actions
Report: Block 'D' Inmates Mobilizing to Stage Riot
SCC Rallies across Lebanon, Lashes Out at Parliament’s Procrastination
Dahiyeh Security Plan Reaches Zero-Hour

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on March 31 April 01/15
Iran, powers push for nuclear deal as clock ticks toward deadline
Official: Iran nuclear talks drawing to a close, will continue in new phase
Western official says talk of broad understanding with Iran 'premature'
Netanyahu: Under emerging deal, Iran's nuclear breakout time is a year or less
Nuclear talks advancing, but 'slowly': Iranian negotiatortor

‘Decisive Storm’ targets Houthis for fifth night
Iran says Saudi 'attack' on Yemen endangers region
Saudi FM: ‘We are not advocates of war, but we are ready for it’
Saudi-led forces block Yemen ports

Saudi pilot who made history by downing two fighters in 30 secs
UNSC members ‘stand behind’ GCC resolution on Yemen
Iraq forces retake government HQ in Tikrit
ISIS executes at least 30 civilians in central Syria
Turkish forces enter courthouse after prosecutor taken hostage
Palestinians to ask FIFA to suspend Israel
Egypt court frees 68 activists in rare move
Merger of factions in Syria to contain Nusra

Jihad Watch Latest News
Niger: Muslims torch 68 churches
Iran militia top dog: “Erasing Israel off the map” is “non-negotiable”
Islamic State justifies using child executioners by invoking Muhammad’s example
Bangladesh: Killers of atheist “think they have done a very good job for their religion”
Spain police arrest family: children were to join the Islamic State
Russia: Fatwa denounces Islamic State, says its members should be killed
Canada: Muslim accidentally poisoned himself, refused to get help from infidels
UK: Muslim women abused under Sharia courts
Muslim Youth League UK declares jihad against the Islamic State
Necessary Lies

Report: STL Gives Deadline for Lebanese Government to Cooperate with Defense
Naharnet/The Trial Chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has given the Lebanese government a deadline to meet the demands of the defense team, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Tuesday. If the Lebanese authorities do not cooperate with the defense during the coming 21 days, then the Trial Chamber could refer the issue to the STL President, Judge Ivana Hrdličková, said the daily. The lack of cooperation could also be the subject of discussion at the U.N. Security Council, which might take several measures, including economic sanctions, against the Lebanese government in accordance with Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, the report added. Founded under the Charter's Chapter 7, the STL is the first international court with jurisdiction to try an act of terrorism. On several occasions, defense lawyers accused the Lebanese government of not providing them with the material sought. The attorneys claimed they have not received any information to help their case. Five Hizbullah members have been charged with plotting ex-PM Rafik Hariri's Feb. 14, 2005 assassination in a massive explosion at the Beirut seafront but have not been arrested. Their trial in absentia began in January 2014 and is ongoing. Hizbullah denies involvement in the murder and the group's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has denounced the court as a conspiracy by his archenemies — the U.S. and Israel.

Hizbullah Slams Nasrallah's Critics, Considers Counter-Remarks Worthless
Naharnet/Hizbullah lashed out on Tuesday at critics who slammed the speech of it party leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, describing their remarks as “worthless.” “For the past three days we read and heard the reactions to Nasrallah's speech, which were far from the reality he conveyed and failed to counter his argument” Hizbullah's media officer Mohammad Afif said in a statement. The skeptics only caused fuss and justified the assault against the Yemeni people, he pointed out. “The remarks ignored the essence of (Nasrallah's) speech, which called on the Yemenis to engage in dialogue to reach a political solution far from foreign intervention,” the statement continued. Afif noted that the party continuously calls for dialogue in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Lebanon. He stressed that Nasrallah's speech doesn't provoke sedition or call on Yemenis to fight each other, “but merely underlined their right to defend themselves against invaders.” “The remarks against (Nasrallah's speech) came by weak and bitter sides and don't require any comment by us,” Afif added. A Saudi-led coalition began bombing Yemen last week, saying it was targeting the Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies.  The Hizbullah chief unleashed a tirade against Saudi Arabia after the offensive over its intervention in Yemen, calling it "surprising and painful," and suggesting Riyadh would suffer a "humiliating defeat" if it didn't resolve the conflict through negotiations. But the March 14 alliance backed the Saudi campaign. On Monday, Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri hit out anew at Nasrallah, considering his fiery speech reflected a “psychological crisis.”
On Sunday, Asiri issued a statement accusing Nasrallah of misleading the public over the Yemeni crisis and defaming the kingdom.

Mustaqbal Throws Weight behind Salam: Lebanon Can't Breach Arab Consensus
Naharnet /Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc on Tuesday threw its weight behind Prime Minister Tammam Salam, after his remarks on Yemen at the Sharm el-Sheikh Arab Summit drew criticism from Hizbullah. “The bloc lauds the balanced stance that was voiced at the Arab Summit by PM Tammam Salam and stresses that Lebanon cannot breach Arab consensus or endorse unilateral policies,” it said in a statement issued after its weekly meeting. “In this regard, the bloc renews its stance that is committed to the Baabda Declaration and the Arab and international resolutions,” it added.  On Monday, Hizbullah said Salam's Arab stances were not discussed or sanctioned by the cabinet, pointing out that the PM's remarks do not reflect the viewpoint of all Lebanese. “We want to clarify that these two stances – the aggression on Yemen and the creation of a joint Arab force – were not discussed in the Lebanese cabinet,” Hizbullah Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan said in a statement. Last week, Saudi Arabia launched military operation Firmness Storm to combat the growing influence of the Iranian-backed Huthi movement in Yemen. It has launched airstrikes in the country, backed by several Arab and Muslim countries. In his speech at the summit, Salam said the threats emanating from the Yemeni crisis prompted Saudi Arabia to "heed President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi's call and launch an Arab-Islamic military coalition to contain the dangers, consolidate legitimacy and restore normalcy in Yemen."In its statement on Tuesday, Mustaqbal said the Saudi-led campaign aims to “confront the Persian (Iranian) attempt to seize control of the Arab state of Yemen … through armed militias that staged a coup against the law and the free democratic choice.”“Al-Mustaqbal bloc clearly declares its support for the Arab stance in the face of the Persian domination attempts, on the one hand, and the Israeli attempts on the other,” the bloc added. It stressed that Saudi King Salman's invitation for all Yemeni political factions to meet and hold dialogue in the kingdom remains “the valid approach to reach a political solution in Yemen.”The bloc also voiced support for the Arab leaders' decision to establish a joint Arab military forces. Separately, Mustaqbal called on the Lebanese government to exert efforts to secure the release of the troops and policemen who were abducted several months ago by jihadist groups, noting that “it is no longer acceptable to continue this painful plight.”The bloc also expressed support for the statement of the spiritual summit that was held Monday in Bkirki, “especially the call for electing a new president.”

Salam Asks Donors for Assistance to Confront Syrian Refugee Crisis
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam asked donors on Tuesday for humanitarian assistance to help the Lebanese authorities implement a plan to overcome the Syrian refugee crisis. “The crisis should be managed through a more than $1 billion plan set up by the Lebanese government,” Salam said at an international conference for donors held in Kuwait. The PM's call for assistance to the Lebanese government is only 37 percent of the pledges that Lebanon is expecting to receive at the conference. The remaining 63 percent of the $2.1 billion in assistance that the country is asking for will cover humanitarian cases such as aid to Lebanon's most vulnerable communities and the refugees. Lebanon is hosting around 1.5 million refugees. The country is already suffering from infrastructure-related problems and political issues, Salam said. He stressed that the Syrian refugee crisis has also caused a dangerous security situation. “The price that our country is paying is more than it can handle,” he told the conference, which was attended by representatives from 78 nations. Salam called on donors and the international community to prevent the crisis “from turning into a demographic tragedy.”The direct humanitarian assistance should be made to the refugees. But it should also intend to create a sustainable development in the Lebanese economy, the PM said. Earlier, Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah made a pledge of $500 million in humanitarian aid for Syria. In his opening remarks, he said the Syrian conflict is the "biggest humanitarian crisis in recent history."The civil war, now in its fifth year, has killed at least 220,000 people and displaced 11 million, according to U.N. figures. Kuwait has hosted a donor conference for Syrians in each of the last two years, generating several billion dollars worth of pledges. Countries and organizations at last year's conference pledged some $2.4 billion.

Change and Reform Demands Cabinet to Carry out 'Stalled' Military Appointments
Naharnet /The Change and Reform bloc demanded on Tuesday that the government carry out the security and military appointments, calling on it to end “the flawed situation” in the country. Former Minister Salim Jreissati said after the bloc's weekly meeting: “The cabinet should carry out the appointments seeing as it is not acting in a caretaking capacity.”He stressed that it should perform the appointments according to the laws, adding: “The bloc will no longer tolerate the ongoing flawed situation.” A dispute had erupted earlier this year between bloc leader MP Michel Aoun and Defense Minister Samir Moqbel over the latter's extension of the term of security officials. Aoun had slammed the move, saying that the minister exceeded his privileges. For his part, Moqbel defended his measure, explaining that it adhered to the constitution. The MP went so far as to withdraw his confidence from the minister over the extension of the term of the head of the Higher Defense Council, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair. The military positions in Lebanon are suffering as a result of the months-long presidential vacuum in light of the parliament's failure to elect a successor for Michel Suleiman. The vacuum also threatens the position of Internal Security Forces chief Major General Ibrahim Basbous who is set to retire in June.

Dahiyeh Security Plan Reaches Zero-Hour
Naharnet/A security plan set to be implemented in the capital Beirut and its southern suburbs has entered the final stages as security forces are mobilizing to deploy heavily in the area to clamp down on outlaws. Sources told al-Mustaqbal newspaper published on Tuesday that the security plan will kick off in April and will include all the neighborhoods of Dahiyeh, including Hizbullah's strongholds. The sources said that Hizbullah is in complete harmony with the state's plan after the increase in drug and prostitution cases busted in the area.
Media reports had said earlier this month that the party informed concerned officials that it can no longer tolerate the “repercussions of the proliferation of arms” in its stronghold, in particular after the clashes between al-Jaafar and Zoaiter families in Burj al-Barajneh and the spread of crimes “which only the state can combat.”

Families of Arsal Hostages Meet Ibrahim, Will Not Escalate Actions
Naharnet/A delegation from the families of the servicemen abducted by extremists from the northeastern border town of Arsal announced on Tuesday that they will no longer carry out escalatory measures following a meeting with General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim. They declared: “An exchange with the captors is ready.”“Negotiations are ongoing however and some minor complications remain,” they stated after receiving reassurances from Ibrahim. “These complications will be solved soon,” they added. “We are not eligible to carry out the negotiations with the kidnappers as we do not have the means to do so. This is the responsibility of the government,” they explained. “We trust the government, which wants to see its sons returned safely,” said the families. The servicemen were kidnapped in August in the wake of clashes between the army and Islamic State and al-Nusra Front jihadists. A few of them have since been released, four were executed, while the rest remain held. The families of the hostages have repeatedly staged sit-ins to protest the government's failure to resolve this issue. They vowed on Monday to take “unprecedented measures” to pressure the state, but they backed down from it following the meeting with Ibrahim, who is handling the negotiations in the case. The kidnappers are demanding the release of a number of Islamist prisoners from Lebanese jails as one of their conditions for releasing the captives.

Fresh Tit-for-Tat Abductions in Arsal, al-Labweh
Naharnet/Gunmen kidnapped two residents of the northeastern border town of Arsal on Tuesday, in retaliation to the abduction Monday of one of their relatives. “Armed men from the Seifeddine family abducted two members of the Kranbi family from the square of the northern Bekaa town of al-Labweh,” state-run National News Agency reported. It identified one of the kidnapped men as Amer Kranbi. The agency noted that Hussein Seifeddine was abducted Monday from Arsal' square and that the kidnappers took him to the town's outskirts. Arsal and al-Labweh had witnessed several abductions and counter-abductions linked to the Syrian conflict in recent years, with the crisis in the neighboring country inflaming sectarian tensions across the border.Arsal largely supports the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad while neighboring al-Labweh is predominantly pro-Hizbullah. Hizbullah has sent elite fighters across the border to assist Assad's embattled regime against rebels and jihadists seeking to topple it.
The border town of Arsal hosts thousands of refugees who fled the conflict in Syria. Militants from the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida's Syria branch, and the Islamic State are entrenched in the town's outskirts. In August 2014, they stormed the town and engaged in bloody battles with the Lebanese army.The situation is still volatile in the town's outskirts amid near-daily clashes between the army and the militants.

SCC Rallies across Lebanon, Lashes Out at Parliament’s Procrastination
Naharnet /The Syndicate Coordination Committee staged a rally on Tuesday near the Ministry of Education in Beirut's UNESCO area over the ongoing procrastination by officials to resolve the wage hike dispute. “We have been protesting over the years and we are convinced that our demands are righteous but politicians only aimed at undermining our endeavors,” the SCC said. Protesters reiterated calls on the state to “rectify the wage scale, which is their right.” UNESCO's rally was accompanied by simultaneous demos across the country as private and public schools closed their gates at 12:00 pm to take part in the protest. The SCC, which is a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, claimed that the state is neglecting its demands regarding the new wage scale despite all endeavors to resolve the dispute with Speaker Nabih Berri and the cabinet. Parliament failed to discuss in October the wage hike draft-law, prompting Berri to return the bill to the joint parliamentary committees, which agreed to unify the new wage scale for public and private school teachers. Instructors had held a rally near parliament to protest the exclusion of private teachers from the raise, demanding equality among teachers. The SCC accused lawmakers of trying to create divisions among its members.
The salary hike has been at the center of controversy since it was approved by the government of ex-Prime Minister Najib Miqati in 2012. Several parliamentary blocs had refused to approve the draft-law over fears that it would have devastating effects on the economy.
The SCC had been holding demonstrations over the past three years to ask for the wage hike.

Syria Aid Pledges Hit $3.8 Billion
Naharnet/International donors pledged $3.8 billion on Tuesday to help alleviate war-torn Syria's humanitarian crisis, which Kuwait's emir warned was the worst in "modern history". U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon told participants at the meeting in Kuwait that four out of five people in Syria were living in "poverty, misery and deprivation". "The Syrian people are victims of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time," he said. Addressing the closing session of the Third International Pledging Conference for Syria, Ban welcomed the promised funds as "very generous".The amount almost equals the combined total of $3.9 billion promised at the two previous conferences. The EU pledged nearly 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion), double the amount the bloc offered last year, while Kuwait opened the conference with a promise of $500 million. The United States pledged $507 million and non-governmental organizations committed more than $500 million. Other major contributions came from Britain with $150 million, United Arab Emirates with $100 million and Norway which promised $93 million. Jordan and Lebanon, which together host close to 2.5 million refugees, were represented by their premiers who appealed for international aid to help their economies cope with the tragedy. Qatar's Foreign Minister Khalid Al-Attiyah proposed to set up a special fund for the education of Syrian children. In Brussels, EU aid commissioner Christos Stylianides said in a statement that "the needs are overwhelming, and an extraordinary effort is needed by the wider donor community to mobilize significant funding". The money pledged by the bloc consists of 500 million euros in "humanitarian aid, early recovery and longer-term stabilization assistance" from the European Commission, with the balance coming in pledges from the bloc's 28 countries, the EU said. "Four out of five Syrians live in poverty, misery and deprivation. The country has lost nearly four decades of human development," Ban said.
Kuwait has hosted a donor conference for Syrians in each of the past two years, generating several billion dollars worth of pledges. Tuesday's conference, attended by representatives from nearly 80 countries, was preceded by a meeting of charitable organizations, which pledged a total of $506 million. "Failing to meet the required funds risks resulting in a horrifying and dangerous humanitarian catastrophe," Abdullah al-Maatuq, U.N. special envoy for humanitarian affairs, said as he opened that meeting. The U.N. has complained that not all previous pledges for aid had translated into funding. Ban said in a report last week that the war had forced around 7.6 million people to leave their homes in Syria, while another 3.9 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries. "Every day brings more death, displacement and destruction," the report said. U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres warned of an "unsustainable" situation. "After four years of conflict, we are at a tipping point. It is clear that the world's response to the crisis in Syria cannot be business as usual. The situation is becoming unsustainable," he said. Almost half of all Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said. The United Nations has launched an appeal for $8.4 billion in 2015 to fund its humanitarian operations in Syria, with $5.5 billion intended for Syrian refugees and $2.9 billion for people inside the war-ravaged country. On Monday, international aid agency Oxfam criticized the international response to the Syrian crisis, saying money pledged was woefully inadequate. Last year was the deadliest yet in the conflict, with at least 76,000 people killed out of a total of more than 215,000 since it began in March 2011 with peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations. Agence France Presse

‘Decisive Storm’ targets Houthis for fifth night
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Tuesday, 31 March 2015/The Saudi-led coalition carried out a fifth straight night of air strikes against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, as well as al-Hodeidah sea port west of the country, Al Arabiya News Channel reported on Tuesday. The air strikes also targeted militias linked to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Footage acquired by Al Arabiya showed explosions shaking Sanaa. Fighter jets roared in the skies above Sanaa from 9 p.m. (1800 GMT) until around dawn, according to Agence France-Presse.The Saudi-led coalition has vowed to keep up the raids until the rebels abandon their insurrection against President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi, who has fled to Riyadh. Positions held by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and soldiers of the renegade Republican Guard overlooking the presidential palace were believed to have been targeted overnight. A Republican Guard camp in south Sanaa was also hit, witnesses said. The Houthis are backed by army units loyal to Saleh, who stepped down in 2012 after a year of bloody protests. In the area around Marib, 140 kilometers (90 miles) east of Sanaa, radar facilities and surface-to-air missile batteries were targeted, local officials said. In western Yemen, anti-aircraft defenses were targeted in the port city of al-Hodeidah, as well as several military positions farther south along the coast, residents said.[With AFP]

Yemen FM calls for Arab ground intervention
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Tuesday, 31 March 2015
Yemen’s foreign minister called on Tuesday for Arab ground intervention against the Houthis “as soon as possible.”Asked in interview by Al Arabiya News Channel’s sister channel Al Hadath whether he sought Arab ground intervention, Riad Yassin said: “Yes, we are asking for that, and soon as possible, in order to save our infrastructure and save Yemenis under siege in many cities." Yassin also revealed that Yemeni President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi will be officially asking to join the Gulf Cooperation Council within the coming days.
Yassin added that the war that has plagued Yemen is the doing of the Houthi rebels. For six days, a Saudi-led coalition of ten regional countries has bombed Iran-allied Houthi fighters and army units linked to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saudi Arabia has vowed to keep up the raids until the rebels abandons their insurrection against Hadi, who has fled to Riyadh and whose last bastion in the southern city of Aden was heavily shelled overnight. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal also reiterated on Tuesday that the air campaign, dubbed “Operation Decisive Storm,” will continue until Yemen is “stable and unified.” “Operation Decisive Storm will continue to defend legitimacy in Yemen,” al-Faisal said during his speech at the weekly meeting of the Shura Council in the capital Riyadh. “We are not advocating war, but we are ready for it,” he said. Yassin also revealed that his ministry is resuming its work in the Saudi capital Riyadh for the time being, and that it is working tirelessly to find solutions for some Yemeni citizens who are stranded in some countries.

Saudi FM: ‘We are not advocates of war, but we are ready for it’
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Tuesday, 31 March 2015
Iranian-backed Houthi militias and forces allied to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh are ruining Yemen, said Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Tuesday. “We are not advocating war, but we are ready for it,” said al-Faisal during his speech at the weekly meeting of the Shura Council in the capital Riyadh, reported Al Arabiya News Channel. “Operation Decisive Storm will continue to defend legitimacy in Yemen,” he said, adding that the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen will persist until the country is stable and unified again. Saudi Arabia and a coalition of nine other regional countries have launched a military campaign against the Houthi coup and in response to Yemeni President Abdrabbu Mansou Hadi’s request for immediate help. Tuesday marks the fifth nigh of air strikes against the Shiite rebels in the Yemeni capital, and other locations in the country. Speaking about the conflict in Syria, the Saudi FM said that Saudi Arabia will stand behind any effort to “revive the Arab and international conscious to put an end to the humanitarian crisis in Syria,” adding that what is happening in Syria is shameful. “The solution to the Syrian crisis is based on the principles of Geneva II [Conference],” said the foreign minister, adding that a “military balance” should be achieved in Syria to force “Damascus’ butcher” to respond to peaceful resolutions. Read Also: Kuwait pledges $500 million at Syria donors meet. Coinciding with the Saudi minister’s speech, Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah on Tuesday pledged $500 million at a U.N. donors conference for Syria hosted in his country.
The devastation from the fighting in Syria had left around 7.6 million people internally displaced. Another 3.9 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

Iraq forces retake government HQ in Tikrit
By AFP | Kirkuk, Iraq/Tuesday, 31 March 2015
Iraqi forces have retaken the Salaheddin provincial government headquarters in Tikrit from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, a significant advance in the battle to recapture the city, officials said Tuesday. The spokesman for the Badr militia said members of the Popular Mobilization units - pro-government paramilitary forces dominated by Iran-backed Shiite militias - took part in the fighting, after some froze offensive operations last week in response to U.S.-led air strikes. “Iraqi forces cleared the government complex in Tikrit,” an army major general said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The government buildings have been under our control since last night (Monday).”It is the most significant advance in Tikrit since pro-government forces launched an operation to retake the city on March 2, their largest since ISIS led an offensive that overran much of the country’s Sunni Arab heartland last June. Salaheddin Governor Raad al-Juburi confirmed that the government headquarters had been retaken, saying that Iraqi flags now flew over various recaptured buildings in the city. Badr spokesman Karim al-Nuri also said that the government headquarters was recaptured, and that Popular Mobilization members fought alongside federal police in the operation. Key Shiite militia forces said they were halting Tikrit operations when a U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition began air strikes in the area after weeks in which Iran was the main foreign partner in the operation. The coalition strikes started last Wednesday, angering Shiite militiamen who accused Washington of attempting to hijack their victory. The Pentagon conditioned its intervention on an enhanced role for regular government forces, and on Friday hailed the withdrawal from the fight of “those Shiite militias who are linked to, infiltrated by, (or) otherwise under the influence of Iran.”The coalition said it carried out three strikes in the Tikrit area from Sunday to Monday, in its most recent statement on the operation. After giving themselves political cover by declaring that they do not want to work with each other, both sides are still taking part in the Tikrit operation.

A joint Arab coalition against whom?
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/Tuesday, 31 March 2015
Establishing joint Arab institutions, a joint economic market and a unified currency and passport have always remained mere wishes. Nothing was ever achieved on this level and this is why Arabs become desperate when it comes to the Arab League.
The Egyptian foreign affairs minister has brought back to the table the idea of establishing a joint Arab force at a time when this is specifically-needed as millions of Arabs are pleading for foreign help in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Somalia. As a result of what’s happening to them, the desperation of some Syrians’ has led them to turn to Israel seeking refuge or a cure. What if there’s a force capable of imposing Arab League decisions by force if that’s what it takes? What if the characteristics of the Arab League membership include the commitment that when threats are posed, members are protected via military power and not just via a powerless joint defense agreement? What if this force’s tasks also include confronting terrorism, chaos and whatever threatens stability of the 20 member states?
Preventing the catastrophe
Arab countries have since the 1940s sought military cooperation to confront Israel. However they didn’t succeed at preventing the catastrophe. They tried but they had poor capabilities and political coordination among them was weak. The Arab League established a deterrent force only once. This force was formed of many Arab forces, mainly Syrian troops, to intervene in Lebanon and end armed confrontations.
However the Syrian regime exploited the Arab League and its power jurisdictions to invade Lebanon under the slogan of protecting it, and it did not exit Lebanon until it further divided it and enhanced the concept of militias in it. The concept of an Arab force is constructive and significant as it gives value to the concept of the League and it also helps the latter gain international significance. Such a force is also required in a region where chaos reigns and at a time when foreign governments and international organizations have enough of military intervention in it after its human, financial and political costs increased.
The concept of an Arab force is constructive and significant as it gives value to the concept of the League
This is how our region is and its fate is for struggles and chaos, which obstruct development and spread fear in the entire world and not just among Arabs, to continue. It’s normal to have the desire to cast away this monster behind all current strife. Intervention and wars are of course difficult tasks and a dangerous risk every time they are launched; however, they are a necessity for survival and they are also one of the tasks of major institutions like the Arab League. There are many difficulties confronting the establishment of a military power that raises the flag of the Arab League and they mainly concern the decision mechanism and its limits in order to prevent this Arab force from turning into an armed group used to settle political accounts or serve regimes’ interests at the expense of their own people, like the regimes of Syria and Sudan.
‘Imposing stability’
Establishing a force, funding it and leading it are complicated issues which require thinking about all future possibilities and considering all status quos. The first case (Arab intervention in Yemen) enjoys legitimacy and a majority of Arab governments support this military intervention. We can say that intervention in Yemen is a rare case where there is semi-consensus over a huge military operation aimed at protecting the legitimacy of the Yemeni regime as recognized by the Arab League and the United Nations.
The second case is Libya. There’s legitimacy there represented in parliament and the army. However there are many heavily armed opposition groups who took over vast areas of the country and thus besieged this legitimacy. Imposing stability will only be achieved by fighting armed rebellious and extremist groups, and this requires huge Arab military intervention. The problem is that there’s no country that is willing to do what Saudi Arabia did in Yemen - that is ready to launch a direct and large military operation.
The third case is Iraq, where there’s a stronger legitimate government which is in more control than others. However it’s helpless due to the domination of armed parties and above all it’s also subjected to foreign intervention by Iran. In this case, an Arab force could not be included due to sectarian differentiation and the government’s incapability to keep its promises. This has reached the extent where Iraq refused to allow Arab aerial forces to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and only allowed Iran and the U.S.-led western alliance to do so. The fourth case is Syria where there’s a government that’s no longer legitimate and which has been excluded from the Arab League. Should intervention here be in favor of a besieged regime who committed hideous crimes against its people or should it be in favor of the Syrian people whose tragedies have doubled after more than 10 million were displaced and around a quarter of a million were killed? If the Arab League does have a military force, it’s illogical for it to intervene in favor of the regime. It’s also irrational to watch the tragedy continue, and in this case, there are big legal and logistical problems. Anyway, the concept of a joint Arab force will confront many difficulties; however, an Arab force which represents one camp in particular may succeed with attaining a permit from the Arab League when necessary.

Netanyahu: Under emerging deal, Iran's nuclear breakout time is a year or less
By JPOST.COM STAFF/03/31/2015/J.Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tuesday that Iran's breakout time to a nuclear weapon would be "a year or less" under the terms of the emerging deal between Tehran and world powers in Lausanne, Switzerland. Netanyahu spoke at the ceremonial opening of the 20th Knesset on Tuesday, hours before the deadline for the P5 + 1 group of world powers - the US, UK, China, France, Russia and Germany - to reach a framework agreement with Iran to restrict its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
He said that, while he appreciates the friendship and support of the US, Washington and Jerusalem disagree on Iran, which is an existential threat to the Jewish State and he must speak up. Netanyahu warned that the deal would leave Iran with advanced centrifuges, underground nuclear facilities and the plutonium reactor at Arak, in addition to allowing Tehran to continue to refuse to cooperate with UN nuclear inspectors. "Israel does not bury its head in the sand," Netanyahu said. "We will do all in our power to ensure our security and our future."Netanyahu said that his views on Iran, which he accused of openly spreading terror, were shared by many countries in the region. He said that these similar views on Iran and on the threat of extremist Islamism, create an opportunity for cooperation with neighboring Arab states. It can also help advance peace with the Palestinians, Netanyahu added. "Israel's hand is outstretched for peace to all our neighbors who want peace."

Iran reaches deadline day – but what happens next?
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya/Tuesday, 31 March 2015
While most of the foreign diplomats present in Lausanne for the most important session of the Iranian nuclear talks have described the meetings as hard, they have also talked of progress and hopefulness. Just a day before the March 31 deadline - a date which was arranged and agreed by Iran and the U.S. in Vienna last November with the hope of reaching a political agreement - today this will have changed. A day before this ‘soft deadline,’ the tone of the major negotiators changed in a way which indicated there were still issues - quite important ones - which need more time to be worked on to find solution. This March 31 deadline is not the one that closes the door to further negotiations if they fail. The actual deadline, which has been extended twice, has been set for July 1. But in order to pave the road and reach a comprehensive deal, this midway-agreement has to be reached.
Ultimately the right path for Iran and the U.S. is to use diplomatic efforts to reach a deal Iranians insist the sanctions are the major issue which remains on the table, and the Americans are talking about the number of centrifuges. Not all the sanctions can be lifted in a comprehensive agreement, as some have been imposed by the U.N. Security Council and it may take time for the IAEA inspectors to send their reports to the U.N. when Iran fulfills its obligations. If there are no sanctions lifted early, and no less than 9K centrifuges accepted by Iran and the U.S., then somehow we can understand the problems that create the barrier against the nuclear deal. Of course there are still some problems and sincere ones, but during these 18 months of negotiations there has also been great progress for both Iran and the U.S. Iran’s economy has been boosted since the interim agreement reached in Vienna, in November 2013. The release of the partially frozen Iranian oil revenue helped the government of Hassan Rouhani improve the economy and inflation, while the talks continued with the Western powers. Choices will be limited if Iran isn’t satisfied with the terms and conditions proposed by the Western powers and the U.S..
For both Iran and the U.S. there are different reasons for the continuation of the talks.
The political changes in the region might not work to Iran's advantage, therefore it needs to seek a final deal sooner rather than later. Speedy resolution needed Furthermore, next year’s budget has already taken a hit from the significant drop in the price of oil. Securing the final deal will pave the path to attract foreign investment to offset the balance, not to mention Iran's access to billions of dollars of its own assets that are frozen or deposited outside the country. Iran will gain much from a final deal, to include the potential to end the decades-long disputes between it and other world powers. Ultimately the right path for Iran and the U.S. is to use diplomatic efforts to reach a deal, even if other parties fail to fulfill their obligations. In my opinion what makes the talks continue without any sense of tiredness or disappointment is the urgent need to find a peaceful solution for this nuclear issue that has been lagging for years. But the Iranian people need a speedy resolution, as any delay in signing a deal increases the risk of no deal at all and that will keep sanctions in place.
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Abaas Araghchi on March 29, told Iran State TV that most of the issues have been solved, but two or three remain, which need more time to be addressed. Araghchi, who was talking live on camera in a very calm and peaceful manner, and with confident body language, expressed his hope to anxious Iranians, who are on National New Year’s holidays, that everything was under control and the negotiation team was working hard and giving it their best.

GCC must unite on Yemen for sake of citizens
Salman Aldossary/Al Arabiya/Tuesday, 31 Mar, 2015
No one can deny that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has been the best example of pan-Arab efforts to achieve unity. But the GCC has always been at the receiving end of criticism from the people of the Gulf. Rarely have they been satisfied with its performance; they often underestimate its benefits, claiming that they have not received the perks they were expecting as citizens of GCC countries. They are right to a certain degree: the performance of the GCC has not been satisfying even to Gulf leaders themselves who consider their citizens’ aspirations, no matter how high, as their legitimate right. However, when the winds of Operation Decisive Storm blew, and the Gulf bared its teeth to the Houthis and Iran, the GCC’s popularity soared after hitting an all-time low.
Regardless of the reservation Oman has expressed concerning its participation in Operation Decisive Storm and its decision to remain neutral on an issue that affects the national security of the Gulf states, the remaining five member states have chosen to give precedence to their supreme interests, rising above, or freezing, previous differences among them. This is a sign of the profound sense of responsibility these countries have towards their security and citizens. In fact, despite its previous differences with three GCC members, Qatar must be credited for not opposing the Gulf coalition or splitting Gulf ranks. As an effective and essential GCC member, Doha realizes that the undermining of legitimacy in Yemen by the Houthis runs against its own interests. Once Yemen slides further into chaos and the country becomes consumed by civil war amid an extension of Iranian influence, no one will be free from danger. Everyone will be affected by the growing Houthi influence in Yemen, whether they share borders with Yemen, as Saudi Arabia and Oman do, or are geographically remote from Sana’a, which is the case for the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. When chaos sets in, it will spread like wildfire, and each of the Arabian Peninsula countries will have its share of the flames.
All GCC states, except Oman, have set an example of collective work and crowned it by cobbling a ten-state-strong coalition to oust the Houthi militias from Sana’a and reinstate the legitimate president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. It reminds us of the Gulf-allied Operation Desert Storm that evicted Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait in 1990. Should Gulf states make use of this coalition beyond the operation by developing it to preserve their security and stability, they may be able to convince their citizens that the council is not just for services, as a wide segment of the public in the Gulf see it. Rather, it is an assembly that gains strength, coherence and integration year after year. If the GCC’s Peninsula Shield Force, which was effective in liberating Kuwait and preserving stability in Bahrain by foiling the Iranian project there in 2011, was the best fruit of GCC cooperation, the anti-Houthi coalition should act as the core of the Joint Arab Force, or as a prelude to a military and security coalition to protect the security and stability of the Gulf.
The GCC has bared its teeth and made its message clear. Though coming somewhat late, this message has now reached those in Tehran. My only fear is that warm relations between some countries and Iran will blunt those teeth.
It is understandable that some Gulf States cannot face Iran with the same strength and clarity that Saudi Arabia has shown. At the end of the day, every country has its own role to play. But it would not be acceptable to indulge in boosting ties with countries that antagonize the GCC and target its security and stability.

Western official says talk of broad understanding with Iran 'premature'
Reports that world powers have reached broad understandings with Iran which would usher in a new phase of negotiations are "premature," a Western diplomat told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he would rejoin talks on Iran's nuclear program in Lausanne later on Tuesday and said there was a good chance of success. "The chances are high. They are probably not 100 percent but you can never be 100 percent certain of anything. The odds are quite 'doable' if none of the parties raise the stakes at the last minute," Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow. Moscow is keeping stern on the mechanism with which the United Nations Security Council would lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for permanent actions by Tehran rolling back its nuclear program, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Lavrov left his counterparts on Monday warning that a instituting a "snap back" mechanism on any sanctions lift would set a dangerous Security Council precedent.

Official: Iran nuclear talks drawing to a close, will continue in new phase
News Agencies/Ynetnews/Latest Update:03.31.15/Israel News
Sides had rushed to complete deal by March 31, despite 'difficult issues'; final statement from Lausanne indicates talks will continue before final June deadline.
Wrapping up six days of marathon nuclear talks with mixed results, Iran and six world powers prepared Tuesday to issue a general statement agreeing to continue negotiations in a new phase aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord by the end of June, officials said Tuesday. The joint statement is to be accompanied by additional documents that outline more detailed understandings, allowing the sides to claim enough progress has been made thus far to merit a new round, the officials said.
The talks have already been extended twice as part of more than a decade of diplomatic attempts to curb Tehran's nuclear advance, and the next stage will be presented as a new phase, because most of the parties had ruled out another prolongation of this round.
One of the officials said the statement was general in part because differences between the sides remained ahead of a new phase of negotiations toward a comprehensive deal by late June. The second official said other documents will be more technical in nature and will also be made public later in the day.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was heading back to Lausanne on Tuesday, indicating an end to the talks is near. He had departed Monday but said he would return if a deal was imminent before the self-imposed March 31 deadline for a preliminary deal.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif already have been joined by the foreign ministers of the five other nations at the table. The officials demanded anonymity Tuesday because their information is confidential. Iran and the six world powers had ramped up the pace of negotiations Tuesday as the deadline stood less than 24 hours away, while both sides warned it was crucial to overcome differences that could wreck an agreement.
For nearly a week the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have been trying to break an impasse in negotiations aimed at stopping Iran from having the capacity to develop a nuclear bomb, in exchange for an easing of international sanctions that are crippling its economy. But disagreements on enrichment research and the pace of lifting sanctions threatened to scupper a deal that could end a 12-year standoff between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear ambitions and reduce the risk of another Middle East war.
"We need to get this done now," a Western official said condition of anonymity. "We only have a few hours left to get a framework agreement or the job is going to become much, much more difficult."Officials in the Swiss city of Lausanne said talks on a framework accord, which is intended as a prelude to a comprehensive agreement by the end of June, could yet fall apart. They set the deadline of midnight Tuesday for a framework agreement, but officials from all sides said it was possible the talks could run past the deadline.
"There still remain some difficult issues," Kerry told CNN on Monday. "We are working very hard to work those through. We are working into the night."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has campaigned against the negotiations, said Monday that the agreement being put together in Lausanne sends the message "that Iran stands to gain by its aggression". He opposes engagement with Iran.
Both Iran and the six have floated compromise proposals but agreement has remained elusive. Western officials said Tehran has recently backed away from proposals it previously indicated it could accept, such as on shipping enriched uranium stocks to Russia. But a US State Department spokeswoman said there was never a definite agreement on shipping uranium stocks abroad and other options existed to resolve the issue. Officials close to the talks said dilution of the stockpiled uranium was an option.
The goal of the negotiations is to find a way to ensure that for at least the next 10 years Iran is at least one year away from the ability to produce enough fissile material for an atomic weapon. In exchange for temporary limits on its most sensitive atomic activities, Tehran wants an end to sanctions. "Our feeling is that this is the moment," a Western diplomat close to the talks said. "Either we get a deal or not. Because if we don't come out of this period with some type of framework (agreement) it's going to be difficult to explain why we would get one on June 30."
Iran and the six powers have twice extended their deadline for a long-term agreement after reaching an interim accord in November 2013. They set a goal of securing a framework agreement by the end of March and a comprehensive accord with all technical details settled by June 30. Assessments from negotiators close to the talks have been swinging between pessimism and optimism since they arrived in Lausanne nearly a week ago. All sides say an agreement is possible but uncertain.
With the US Congress warning it will consider imposing new US sanctions on Iran if there is no agreement this week, there is a sense of urgency in the talks.
"With Congress, the Iranian hawks and a Middle East situation where nobody's exactly getting on, I'm not convinced we'll get a second chance if this fails," the Western diplomat said. "If we don't have some type of framework agreement now, it will be difficult to explain why we would be able to have one by June 30," he added.
US President Barack Obama has threatened to veto any sanctions moves by the Republican-dominated Congress. Officials close to the talks said the most difficult sticking points remain the removal of UN sanctions and Iranian demands for the right to unfettered research and development into advanced nuclear centrifuges after the first 10 years of the agreement expires.
The six powers want more than a 10-year suspension of Iran's most sensitive nuclear work. Tehran, which denies it is trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability, demands a swift end to sanctions in exchange for temporary limits on its atomic activities.
Western officials said the two sides had previously been closing in on a preliminary deal that could be summarized in a brief document that may or may not be released. Iran said the key issue was lifting sanctions quickly.
"There will be no agreement if the sanctions issue cannot be resolved," Majid Takhteravanchi, nuclear negotiator told Iran's Pars news agency. "This issue is very important for us."
Even if a framework deal is reached by the Tuesday deadline, officials say it could still fall apart when the two sides attempt to agree on all the technical details for the comprehensive accord by the end of June.