April 12/15

Bible Quotation For Today/For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Luke 12/32-48: "32 Don’t be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. Sell that which you have, and give gifts to the needy. Make for yourselves purses which don’t grow old, a treasure in the heavens that doesn’t fail, where no thief approaches, neither moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. “Let your waist be dressed and your lamps burning. 36 Be like men watching for their lord, when he returns from the marriage feast; that, when he comes and knocks, they may immediately open to him.  Blessed are those servants, whom the lord will find watching when he comes. Most certainly I tell you, that he will dress himself, and make them recline, and will come and serve them. They will be blessed if he comes in the second or third watch, and finds them so.  But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched, and not allowed his house to be broken into.  Therefore be ready also, for the Son of Man is coming in an hour that you don’t expect him.” Peter said to him, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everybody?” The Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the right times?  Blessed is that servant whom his lord will find doing so when he comes.  Truly I tell you, that he will set him over all that he has.  But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My lord delays his coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken, 46 then the lord of that servant will come in a day when he isn’t expecting him, and in an hour that he doesn’t know, and will cut him in two, and place his portion with the unfaithful.  That servant, who knew his lord’s will, and didn’t prepare, nor do what he wanted, will be beaten with many stripes, but he who didn’t know, and did things worthy of stripes, will be beaten with few stripes. To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked."

Bible Quotation For Today/ Today if you will hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.
Hebrews 04/01-16: "Let’s fear therefore, lest perhaps anyone of you should seem to have come short of a promise of entering into his rest. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, even as they also did, but the word they heard didn’t profit them, because it wasn’t mixed with faith by those who heard.  For we who have believed do enter into that rest, even as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, they will not enter into my rest;” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.  For he has said this somewhere about the seventh day, “God rested on the seventh day from all his works;” and in this place again, “They will not enter into my rest.” Seeing therefore it remains that some should enter into it, and they to whom the good news was preached before failed to enter in because of disobedience,  he again defines a certain day, today, saying through David so long a time afterward (just as has been said), Today if you will hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts. For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day.  There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For he who has entered into his rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from his.  Let’s therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience.  For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. There is no creature that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account. Having then a great high priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let’s hold tightly to our confession.  For we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.  Let’s therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace for help in time of need."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 11-12/15
Lebanon Civil War Still Haunts Families of Disappeared/Naharnet/ April 11/15
Syria’s cruel ‘Hunger Games’/Hisham Melhem/Al Arabiya/April 11/15
Saudi generosity to Lebanon repaid with insults/Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor/Al ARabiya/April 11/15
April 13, 1975: the day that destroyed peace in Lebanon/Hussein Dakroub/April 11/15

Lebanese Related News published on  April 11-12/15
Report: Hizbullah Engaged in Battles alongside Huthi Rebels in Yemen
Report: Hoblos was Seeking to Activate Dormant Terror Cells in Bekaa, Tripoli
Lebanese Forces media officer Melhem Riachi Says LF Determined to Carry Out Reconciliation with FPM
Hezbollah decries Ain al-Hilweh murder of party-linked man
Report: Al-Mustaqbal Keen to Continue Dialogue with Hizbullah
Hariri, Nasrallah close, STL told
Lebanon vows to uproot terrorists 
Farmers incur heavy losses after border closure 
Report: Ibrahim in Turkey amid Tough Negotiations with Nusra Front
Lebanon Civil War Still Haunts Families of Disappeared
Khalil ups campaign to clean up Customs 
Army distributes aid to Syrian refugees in Arsal
Orthodox Christians mark 'Holy Fire' rite in Jerusalem
April 13, 1975: the day that destroyed peace 
Ain el-Hilweh to Witness Implementation of New Security Plan
Stop the mudslinging

Lebanon witnesses winter-like weekend weather

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on  April 11-12/15
US, Iran at odds over checks at nuclear sites
Military sites not open for inspection under nuclear deal, senior Iranian army official says
US, allies conduct airstrikes in Syria and Iraq: US military
UNRWA chief heads to Syria on 'urgent' Yarmouk aid mission
PLO backpedals on Yarmouk military action
35 dead as Syria forces repel attack on airport: activists
Syrian Kurds battle ISIS in northeast
Hundreds defy ban to protest Saudi Arabia in Iran's capital
Italy rescues almost 1,000 migrants at sea, one dead
Turkey sends in troops after clash with Kurdish militants
Obama, Castro shake hands before historic
Islamists arrested in Spain targeted Jews
Egypt Court Confirms Death Sentence for Brotherhood Chief, 11 Others
IS in Egypt Claims Soldier's Execution-Style Killing
UAE official slams ‘contradictory’ Pakistan vote
Is Turkey spearheading a new Middle East foreign policy?
Saudi Grand Mufti calls for compulsory military service

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Report: Hizbullah Engaged in Battles alongside Huthi Rebels in Yemen
Naharnet/Hizbullah and Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards are reportedly engaged in battles alongside the Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen, al-Mustaqbal newspaper reported on Saturday. According to the daily, several Hizbullah fighters have been killed as the coalition of largely Sunni Muslim countries led by Riyadh has been hitting Huthi rebels in Yemen with air strikes in a bid to restore the government of fugitive President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. Saudi Arabia has vowed to bomb the rebels, who it says are backed by Tehran, into surrender to prevent them establishing a pro-Iran state on its doorstep. Sources told al-Mustaqbal daily that Hizbullah's involvement in battles in Sanaa is “possible as several of its fighters and experts, who hold the Lebanese nationality, were in Yemen's Saada before the rebels seized swathes of territory in Yemen since they entered Sanaa last September. The sources stressed that Hizbullah and Iran's presence in Yemen isn't a secret, pointing out that several military experts have been sent to aid the Huthis. “The military experts entered Yemen by using fake identification papers,” the sources continued. Yemen has slid deeper into turmoil after a Saudi-led air campaign began on March 26 to push back the Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels advance after they forced President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee the country.

Lebanon Civil War Still Haunts Families of Disappeared

Naharnet/Forty years after Lebanon's civil war began, the families of thousands of people who disappeared are still haunted by the conflict and fighting to learn of their loved ones' fate. "We just want to know what happened to them... we want a grave where we can leave flowers," Wadad Halawani, president of the Committee of the Families of the Kidnapped and Disappeared, told Agence France Presse. The civil war lasted 15 bloody years from 1975 to 1990, killing more than 150,000 people and leaving some 17,000 missing, according to official figures. The conflict primarily pitted Christian groups against Palestinian factions backed by leftist and Muslim parties, with significant regional and international intervention. "Those who buried their children were able to weep for them, but we have not been able to mourn," said Mariam Saidi, whose 15-year-old son Maher disappeared in 1982 while fighting near Beirut. "It's a cause that must not die," she insisted in her apartment on the old line that separated largely Christian east Beirut from the mostly Muslim west of the city. Like the Argentine Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo movement, Saidi has since 2005 participated in a permanent protest camp outside the UN headquarters in central Beirut. But despite the long-running protest and various campaigns, the parties to the civil war have refused to share information about the missing.
"They refuse to reopen the files, saying it will threaten civil peace. As if the country was at peace!" Halawani said. Lebanon has experienced many spasms of violence since the war, and has been criticized by international NGOs for its "collective amnesia" about the conflict.
- 'We want the truth' -
"To learn the lessons of the war, the past must be confronted," said Carmen Hassoun Abu Jaoude, director of the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) in Beirut. "It's a wound that was closed up while it was still infected," she added, noting that investigations into the fate of the disappeared in other countries had not rekindled conflict. In 1991, Lebanon issued a broad amnesty that benefited the country's warlords, allowing many of them to become political leaders. "Abroad, people are astonished when I tell them we don't want justice or the cancellation of the amnesty law," said Halawani, whose husband was kidnapped in front of her in 1982. "We cannot put all the political leaders in jail. We just want to know the truth and reconcile with the past." Under pressure from relatives, Lebanon's government in 2000 acknowledged the existence of mass graves in the capital, without beginning any identification efforts. And last year, the country's highest judicial body ruled that the families had the right to know the fate of their loved ones.However, little progress has been made.Since 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross has been compiling a database of information about each disappeared person.
Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC Lebanon president, said efforts were under way to get approval from the authorities to collect saliva samples from still living parents of the disappeared for future DNA analysis. A bill drafted by the families of the disappeared, with the help of the ICTJ, would create a commission of inquiry led by the police and aided by specialized archaeologists and anthropologists. It has yet to be approved by parliament.
- Unending pain -
As they fight for information, many relatives of the disappeared struggle to live normally, feeling that time just stopped when their loved ones went missing. "There's Um Issam, who hasn't left her house for several years, convinced that her son will knock on the door any minute," Halawani said. Other mothers sit by the window, hoping to see a returning child; or they have left their children's rooms untouched since their disappearance. Many, like Saidi, have experienced dashed hopes and false promises of a reunion. "When they would tell me Maher was free, I would start dancing," she said. "The next day there would be no news, and I would cry and scream his name all night."Despite her pain, she harbors no desire for vengeance. "I support the cause of all the mothers of the disappeared, even those whose sons were Lebanese Forces" and fought against Maher. Among the disappeared are dozens of people who were taken to Syria during the war and in the early 1990s. Damascus has always denied holding political prisoners, despite the presence of Lebanese detainees in several releases between 1976 and 2000. Marie Mansourati, 83, is sure that her son Dani is still alive, more than two decades after being taken to Damascus in 1992. Her hands trembling, she smokes cigarette after cigarette in her Beirut apartment. "I don't meet people any more -- I have worn black all these years.""I just want him to come back and call me 'Mum'."Agence France Presse

Lebanese Forces media officer Melhem Riachi Says LF Determined to Carry Out Reconciliation with FPM
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces media officer Melhem Riachi stressed on Saturday that the party insists on carrying out reconciliation with the Free Patriotic Movement and announce the “declaration of intent.” He pointed out that prominent officials at the LF don't oppose the reconciliation with the FPM, noting that he is only a mediator tasked by the party chief, Samir Geagea, to follow up the matter. Riachi said in remarks to OTV channel that “polls indicate that there is almost a unanimity over dialogue” on dialogue between the two rival Christian parties, expressing hope that positive results would surface soon. On Thursday, Change and Reform bloc MP Ibrahim Kanaan held talks with Geagea at his residence in Maarab in presence of Riachi. Kanaan said after the meeting: “The declaration is almost complete.”
Media reports said that the declaration of the document will be crowned with a meeting between Aoun and Geagea with the timing and venue of the talks to be decided later on. Both Geagea and Aoun have announced their candidacies for the presidency. Their rivalry, in addition to other issues, have left Baabda Palace vacant since President Michel Suleiman's six-year tenure ended in May last year. The dialogue between the two parties recently kicked off in an attempt to defuse tension and safeguard the country. Riachi told OTV that “the reconciliation between the FPM and LF is progressing at an average pace.”“We consider that Iran doesn't want the election of a new head of state in Lebanon at the meantime,” he concluded. Agence France Presse

Report: Al-Mustaqbal Keen to Continue Dialogue with Hizbullah
Naharnet/Nader Hariri, the adviser of the Mustaqbal Movement leader Saad Hariri, reportedly contacted Speaker Nabih Berri's aide Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil to confirm that dialogue with Hizbullah will not be suspended. According to the pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat published on Saturday, Khalil briefed Berri on the telephone conversation with Hariri as the speaker was contacting Hizbullah's leadership to tackle the tension between the two parties. Sources said that Berri's statement on Friday was to deny media reports saying that al-Mustaqbal movement is mulling to suspend talks over the recent verbal spat with Hizbullah officials. The speaker stressed on Friday Friday that dialogue between the rival two parties will continue, pointing out that the upcoming session will remain on time.
“Dialogue will continue and will continue to achieve Lebanon's best interest,” Berri said. Sources told the newspaper that Berri is seeking to defuse tension between the two parties after they were engaged in a war of words over the Saudi role in Yemen. Officials from the two sides have been meeting in Ain el-Tineh under the auspices of Berri since December to defuse sectarian hostility linked to the war in Syria. The upcoming session is set to be held on April 14. Hariri on Wednesday had slammed Iran's expansionist plans in the region, defended Saudi Arabia, and attempts to link Lebanon to the neighboring conflicts, in direct response to a speech by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. However, Hariri's statements prompted Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance bloc chief MP Mohmmed Raad to condemn the remarks against the criticism directed to Saudi Arabia, saying that linking Iran to the developments in Yemen and Lebanon are a “major mistake.”“Only ignorants and cowards remain silent over Saudi Arabia's genocide in Yemen,” he stressed.

Hariri, Nasrallah close, STL told
Elise Knutsen| The Daily Star/Apr. 11, 2015
BEIRUT: Over the years, Rafik Hariri and Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah developed a friendship that was politically beneficial to both, according to Mustapha Nasser, a former aide to the late prime minister. In his second day of testimony, Nasser told the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that Hariri and Nasrallah “were able to build a real friendship” over the years. The two leaders met, often in secret, throughout Hariri’s tenure as prime minister and worked through difficult political issues including the reconstruction of Downtown Beirut and the shooting of unarmed Hezbollah protesters by the Army under the airport bridge in September 1993. While difficulties arose, Nasser said that there were never any confrontations between the two leaders. Nasser worked as an aide for Rafik Hariri, acting primarily as a liaison between the former prime minister and Hezbollah. He played a similar role for Saad Hariri, who succeeded his late father as head of the Future Movement in 2005, and said Thursday that he still maintains this post. But Saad Hariri’s office issued a statement Friday saying that Nasser was “terminated” in 2010 and is no longer employed as an adviser.
The relationship between the elder Hariri and Nasrallah became more engaged after the extension of President Emile Lahoud’s term and the adoption of Resolution 1559 by the United Nations Security Council in the fall of 2004, Nasser told the court. While Resolution 1559 called for the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon, Hariri adopted a liberal interpretation of the text and assured Nasrallah that Hezbollah would be able to maintain its military stockpile until a peace deal with Israel was signed. Defense attorney Yasser Hassan, who represents the interests of one of the five Hezbollah members charged with plotting Hariri’s assassination, suggested that Hariri’s stance on 1559 put him squarely at odds with the Israelis. Nasser agreed that Hariri’s cooperation with Nasrallah posed “a risk” to Israel, and admitted that the Jewish state had been responsible for a number of political assassinations in Lebanon’s history. The defense’s argument has yet to fully take shape, but allusions have been made to the possibility of Israeli involvement in the blast which killed Hariri and 21 others in February 2005. Hariri and Nasrallah were on good terms in the days and weeks preceding the former’s death, Nasser testified. Just a few days before his assassination, Hariri conveyed to Nasrallah that he had personally appealed to French President Jacques Chirac to refrain from listing Hezbollah as a terror organization. Nasser agreed with the defense counsel Hassan’s assessment that Hariri “used his international contacts in favor of Lebanon, including the resistance of Lebanon, represented by Hezbollah.”The relationship, however, was not one sided. Hezbollah, Nasser said, was working to mend the relationship between Hariri and the Syrian regime. The day before Hariri’s assassination Nasrallah’s political aide Hussein Khalil traveled to Damascus to prepare for a meeting between Hariri and Syrian President Bashar Assad, Nasser told the court. Nasser’s statements run contrary to the testimony of numerous witnesses who have appeared before the STL in recent months. All close allies of Hariri, almost all the so-called political witnesses have stressed the tense relationship between the late prime minister and Hezbollah. Last month, MP Fouad Siniora testified that Hariri had uncovered multiple attempts on his life orchestrated by Hezbollah. Nasser said that Hariri had “never heard” anything of that nature and questioned why Hariri would continue to meet with Nasrallah if he knew the group had plotted his murder. Although he was called to testify by the prosecution, Nasser’s testimony seemed to bolster the defense’s position that Hariri and Hezbollah were not political enemies. A source affiliated with the tribunal suggested that the prosecution had misjudged Nasser as a witness. “I think the prosecution didn’t know the guy very well,” the source told The Daily Star. Throughout his testimony Nasser suggested on more than one occasion that the only individual who might have more knowledge about Hariri’s relationship with Hezbollah was Hariri’s widow, Nazik.

Report: Hoblos was Seeking to Activate Dormant Terror Cells in Bekaa, Tripoli
Naharnet/Investigations with Sheikh Khaled Hoblos and two other suspects revealed that they were trying to activate dormant terrorist cells affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in eastern Bekaa Valley and the northern city of Tripoli. According to As Safir newspaper published on Saturday, the arrest of Hoblos, who is wanted for his involvement in clashes with the army in Bhannine in late 2014, and two other accomplices were seeking to awaken sleeper cells in the Bekaa to carry out terror acts. The newspaper said that security forces couldn't confirm the identity of Hoblos until he was transferred to Beirut's Internal Security Forces General Directorate as he told security members that he was the brother of Sheikh Hoblos during his arrest. “Investigations showed that Hoblos forged his identification papers and changed his appearance to avert his apprehension.” Sources told the daily that investigations are still at the first stages, estimating that “Hoblos will not easily confess.”On Thursday, security forces succeeded in arresting Hoblos and killing Mansour and Ahmed al-Nazer in an ambush in Tripoli. Two members of the ISF unit were seriously wounded in the clash that lasted about five minutes, added As Safir. Security sources told al-Joumhouria newspaper that “Hoblos informed investigators about his hideouts in (the northern district of) al-Koura and the venue of his meetings with Osama Mansour.” An Nahar newspaper reported that Mansour and his group remained in Tripoli after the unrest in October. The daily said that the group moved around in Tripoli wearing explosive belts, revealing that Mansour refused to join his accomplice Shadi al-Mawlai in the southern Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh. Soon after the security operation, Sirajeddine Zureiqat, a so-called spokesman of the Qaida-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades, warned security forces of targeting Islamists in Tripoli. Hoblos and Mansour had been wanted for taking part in clashes with the army in Tripoli in October 2014 and were suspected of links to jihadist organizations in Syria. Mansour, along with prominent fugitive al-Mawlawi, was wanted for leading armed groups that engaged in deadly gunbattles with the army in Tripoli and its surrounding areas in October. Mansour and al-Mawlawi were also charged with recruiting people for the purpose of carrying out terrorist attacks, assaulting the army and planting bombs.

Lebanon witnesses winter-like weekend weather
The Daily Star/Apr. 11, 2015/BEIRUT: Winter-like weather returned to Lebanon late-Friday, with heavy overnight rain along the coast and snowfall in the mountains. Intermittent rain and snow will continue over the weekend as temperatures slowly drop until Monday, according to the Meteorological Department at Beirut airport. Some mountain roads, including the Kfar Debian road linking Beirut to the Bekaa Valley, were only opened for cars equipped with chains as a result of the snowfall Saturday, according to the Traffic Management Center. Saturday will see cloudy weather, intermittent rain fail and occasional thunderstorms, in addition to snowfall in areas 1,400 meters above sea level. On the coast, temperatures will range between 19 and 21 degrees Celsius during the day and will drop to as low as 10 degrees Celsius in the evening. In mountainous areas, temperatures will be as low as 8 degrees Celsius during the day and will drop to 3 degrees Celsius in the evening. Sunday will also be cloudy with intermittent rainfall, and snow falling in areas 1,300 meters above sea level. Temperatures will slightly drop by one to two degrees on the coast and mountains. Cloudy weather will continue on Monday with intermittent rainfall early in the day. Weather will start warming up later Monday.

Army distributes aid to Syrian refugees in Arsal
The Daily Star/Apr. 11, 2015/ARSAL/BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army distributed over 200 food packages to Syrian refugees and Lebanese nationals residing in areas outside the northeastern border town of Arsal Saturday, as the Egyptian Embassy announced that a shipment of Syrian refugee aid will arrive to Beirut next week. Saturday’s aid distribution, which was carried out by the Army’s Civil and Military Cooperation branch in partnership with civil society groups and the American Embassy in Beirut, was met with hospitality from Syrian refugees who raised Lebanese flags above their tents. Food packages were also provided to Arsal locals residing in areas around the town. Youssef Meshref, the head of the Army’s Civil and Military Cooperation Branch, said that “as long as the Army can cooperate with donors it can provide assistance to residents of remote areas.”He said that aid distribution will also target the northeastern town of Arsal in the future and not just refugee camps surrounding the town. The Army’s Civil and Military Cooperation Branch will continue to provide assistance to Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese in partnership with civil society groups, he said. Soldiers in military uniforms handed out food packages to residents. One image showed noodle packages inside the boxes. Separately, the Egyptian Embassy in Lebanon Saturday announced that Cairo’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday will send donations to Syrian refugees for three consecutive days on planes flying out from Egypt to Beirut. The aid packages will consist of medical supplies, food, tents and bed sheets along with other humanitarian supplies. Syria's four-year war has forced more than 3 million people to flee the country. The UNHCR says there are more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon now. Beirut estimates there are another 500,000 unregistered Syrians in the country.

Stop the mudslinging
The Daily Star/Apr. 11, 2015
Lebanese politicians have long held a fondness for public bickering, but the increased tone and scale of the rhetoric in recent days is becoming dangerous, and could threaten to destabilize an already heady situation. The country is surrounded on all sides by violence, some of which has spilled across the border over recent years. The political structure is in chaos, and we are still without a president. As everyone keeps warning, Lebanon appears on the brink. In such a fraught climate, politicized words can often be just the spark that is needed to start a fire, and as we approach the 40th anniversary Monday of the outbreak of Lebanon’s own devastating Civil War, this is an important time to remember that. With enough problems of its own to deal with at home, why do Lebanese politicians insist on embroiling the country in external conflicts? When the needs of citizens here cannot be met, not just in terms of security, but in terms of social welfare, employment and basic services, then who is fighting whom in Yemen should not be a matter of national priority, nor will attacking Saudi Arabia yield any good for the Lebanese. Over the last few years, a concerted will to maintain the peace has largely been sufficient, except in tragic and repeated outbreaks of violence in Tripoli and elsewhere. If the current atmosphere of – relative – internal stability is to remain, then real commitments are needed, from all sides, to tone down such inflammatory language, and to work together for the good of the country, and to keep foreign conflicts away from these shores.

Hezbollah decries Ain al-Hilweh murder of party-linked man
The Daily Star/Apr. 11, 2015
BEIRUT: The murder of a member of the Hezbollah-linked Resistance Brigades in Sidon last week is considered an attack on the Lebanese resistance, the deputy head of the party’s executive council said Saturday. “The assassination of Marwan Issa served to ignite sectarian strife in Ain al-Hilweh,” Nabil Qaouk said during a Saturday ceremony in Sidon commemorating his death. “This crime stabs the back of the Lebanese resistance,” he added. He said that the victim's blood will not go to waste, and the blood of the party’s youth will no longer be shed, calling on security forces in the camp to crackdown on the perpetrators of the crime Hezbollah’s response comes almost one week after Issa was found dead in the trunk of a car in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh, in southern Lebanon. Issa was believed to have visited Ain al-Hilweh to complete an arms deal with Khaled Kaawash, a Palestinian, and Rabih Serhal, a Syrian. The two are suspects in his killing and were handed over to the Lebanese government for investigation. Fingers have also been pointed at members of al-Shabab al-Muslim, which is a jihadi coalition that includes Jund al-Sham and Fatah al-Islam, many of whom reside in the Tawari neighborhood.
The incident in Ain al-Hilweh targeted the security of Palestinians before it targeted the security of the Lebanese resistance. The Hezbollah official called on security forces in the camp to crack down on the “hotbeds of corruption” before they spread in the camp like “thyroid cancer.”The Higher Palestinian Security Committee in Lebanon is preparing to implement a new security plan in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp following last weekend’s murder. The plan includes erecting new checkpoints and strengthening the positions of the year-old joint security force. The new security measures will focus on the camp’s Tahtani Street and the borders of the Tawari quarter, an adjacent neighborhood that sits between the Taamir neighborhood and the camp itself. It is expected that the new security measures will be implemented on the ground within a few days, following a series of talks between the Higher Palestinian Security Committee and the Palestinian joint security force, in coordination with Lebanese Army Intelligence. The head of the Palestinian joint security force in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Munir Maqdah, said Thursday that the security situation in Ain al-Hilweh would remain under control. “Any person whose name comes out of the inquiry into Marwan Issa’s death will be asked to come in for investigation,” Maqdah said. “We have made a decision to strengthen all security forces’ positions in the camp in order to preserve both its security and that of neighboring areas.”During a visit to Sidon MP Bahia Hariri, head of Palestinian National Security Sobhi Abu Arab said the probe into Issa’s death was ongoing.
Abu Arab informed Hariri of the recent incident Thursday, and reassured her that the situation in the camp was under control.

April 13, 1975: the day that destroyed peace in Lebanon

Hussein Dakroub| The Daily Star/Apr. 11, 2015
On Sunday, April 13, 1975, I went to work as usual to The Daily Star offices located near my house, some 300 meters from Riad al-Solh Square in Downtown Beirut.
It was my sixth year at Lebanon’s only English-language newspaper, working as a sub-editor and translator after spending my first five years from 1969 to 1974 working as a proofreader.
The city’s peace on that horrible day, which would later be the catalyst for a bloody and devastating civil war that would kill more than 150,000 people and leave the country’s infrastructure in tatters, was shattered by what some local media dubbed the “Ain al-Rummaneh massacre.”
Shortly after, news broke that Kataeb Party militiamen opened fire on a bus carrying Palestinians passing in the east Beirut suburb of Ain al-Rummaneh, killing over 20, tension ran high in both the Muslim and Christian areas of Beirut.
The streets were left deserted as people rushed home to follow up on the fast-moving, dramatic developments that would change the normal and peaceful lives of Lebanese for the worse for the next 15 years.
However, the two sides traded blame for who was responsible for the bloody incident on the bus, which was driving through Ain al-Rummaneh as it crossed Beirut from the Palestinian Tal al-Zaatar refugee camp in the northeast on its way to the Sabra and Shatila camps in the southwest. The Kataeb accused Palestinian gunmen in the bus of opening fire on the militia’s supporters, killing a bodyguard of the party’s then leader Pierre Gemayel and another man, while the Palestinians charged Kataeb militiamen with spraying the vehicle with gunfire leaving several people dead.
The tension was soon accompanied by the din of sporadic gunfire, mortar attacks and bombings that reverberated throughout Beirut, further adding to the jittery citizens’ fears.
Filled with tension and worries about the country’s fate, I entered The Daily Star’s newsroom to see colleagues, editors, reporters and photographers busy trying to follow up on the grave repercussions of the Ain al-Rummaneh incident.
I remember hearing an American editor asking the then Editor-in-Chief Jihad Khazen: “What’s going to happen after the Ain al-Rummaneh incident?” to which Khazen replied: “I expect trouble.”
With no Internet or cell phones and not even a television set in the newsroom to follow up any breaking news, we relied, in addition to our reporters, on radio sets and Lebanese, Arab and foreign news agencies for urgent developments.
We also relied on reporters from The Daily Star’s sister Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat, which had its offices in the same four-story building.
Staying in the office until a late hour that day, some people would call the office to inform about explosions targeting shops owned by Christians on Hamra Street or the Kataeb headquarters in the Starco area.
I remember a Palestinian young man who used to deliver copies of the printed Palestinian news agency (named first as Kowat al-Assifa, Arabic for Storm Forces, and later as WAFA), brought the latest bulletin on that night carrying a strongly worded statement issued by Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat’s Fatah Movement. The statement accused what it called “Kataeb gangs” of committing a massacre against unarmed Palestinians.
In tandem with the fast-moving security developments, there was a flurry of activity by the country’s top political and religious leaders to try to prevent the situation from spinning out of control and descending into total chaos and sectarian warfare as many Lebanese feared.
However, the most significant and alarming development came from an urgent meeting held by the so-called Nationalist Movement, a coalition of Syrian-backed leftist and Muslim parties, led by the influential Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt, which issued a statement late at night calling for the “isolation” of the Kataeb Party from the government in response to the Ain al-Rummaneh incident.
Many Lebanese Muslim leaders later acknowledged that the decision to isolate the Kataeb Party from the government was a big mistake because it deepened sectarian divisions at a time when the country’s Muslims and Christians were sharply split over the sensitive issue of the armed Palestinian presence in Lebanon.
One of the editorials published by The Daily Star during the first few months of the war said that Lebanon gave the word “cease-fire” a bad name after hundreds of truce agreements were shattered hours after they were reached by the warring factions.
Soon after the war began The Daily Star, located on the confrontation lines between the rival militias, was forced by escalating fighting to close down in early 1976, I left Beirut with my family to south Lebanon where I stayed for several months until the capital was relatively safe to return.
In the eyes of many Lebanese, particularly the leading Christian parties, the Palestinian military presence in Lebanon was the spark that triggered the 1975-90 Civil War.
A few years before the war broke out, pitting Muslim and leftist militiamen backed by Palestinian factions against Kataeb and other Christian fighters, tension was building up across Lebanon over the influx of arms and gunmen into the Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut and other areas, in defiance of Lebanese state authority and sovereignty.
The late Pierre Gemayel, father of former President Amine Gemayel and slain President Elect Bashir Gemayel, would accuse Arafat’s PLO of running “a mini-state” within the Lebanese state.
The Kataeb Party and other Christian factions were the first to sound the alarm about the dire consequences of the proliferation of armed Palestinian presence in the country and called on the Lebanese Army to intervene to put an end to it.
The repeated bloody clashes between the Lebanese Army and Palestinian guerrillas in south Lebanon and around camps in Beirut in the late 1960s and early 1970s provided the harbinger of what was in store for the multi-sect country.
In an attempt to prevent a renewal of fighting between the Army and PLO guerrillas, Lebanon was reportedly forced to sign the so-called Cairo Agreement with Arafat’s organization under the sponsorship of the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser in 1969.
Although it had been approved by the Lebanese Parliament, the agreement, seen by many Lebanese leaders as an infringement on Lebanon’s sovereignty, gave Palestinian guerrillas the right to launch rocket attacks against Israel from certain bases in south Lebanon. However, Palestinian attacks on Israel invited retaliatory Israeli shelling and airstrikes against Lebanese towns and villages in the south.
As the Lebanese mark Monday the 40th anniversary of the Civil War, they wonder whether their bloody history will repeat itself, given the current political divisions and sectarian tensions fueled by the 4-year-old war in Syria.
While the Lebanese were divided in the 1970s over the Palestinian military presence (with some Muslims supporting this presence and Christians opposing it), they are now sharply split over Hezbollah’s arsenal and its military intervention in Syria. Hopefully, having learned a tough lesson from the 1975 strife and seeing the daily bloodshed and sectarian fighting ravaging Syria and other Arab countries, the war-weary Lebanese will not indulge in a new bout of self-destruction.
“Civil war will never return to Lebanon because the Lebanese have been traumatized by its fire and they are not ready to slide again into a new cycle of self-killing,” Future Movement MP Mohammad Qabbani, a senior official of the Nationalist Movement in 1975, told The Daily Star Friday. “We must realize that our national unity is our guarantee and that no one can eliminate the other.”

Military sites not open for inspection under nuclear deal, senior Iranian army official says
By JPOST.COM STAFF /04/11/2015
Iran's military sites will never be open for inspection under a comprehensive nuclear deal with world powers, Iran's Tasnim news agency reported a senior Iranian commander as saying. Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said on Friday that Iranian officials have already announced “clearly and explicitly” their opposition to the inspection of the country’s military and defense facilities, Tasnim reported. According to the report, Jayazeri dismissed US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter as "lacking in understanding" with regard to his claim that a final deal on Iran’s nuclear program would include inspection of Iran’s military facilities. “The American side's insistence on attending Iran’s military centers can be evaluated with regard to the repressed and unattainable wishes of the White House officials,” Iran's official Press TV quoted Jayazeri as saying Friday. Carter has addressed the possibility of a military option against Iran, saying that bunker busting bombs, meant to penetrate Iran's underground facilities, are "ready to go." Speaking to CNN in an interview aired Saturday morning, Carter said that the deal between Iran and the P5+1, the basics of which were recently laid out in during negotiations in Switzerland, will hinge not on "trust but rather on "verification." Since the signing of the framework deal earlier this month, the issue of inspections joins the issue of the pace of sanctions relief as a potential stumbling block to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal. The tentative accord, struck on April 2 after eight days of talks in Switzerland, clears the way for a settlement to allay Western fears that Iran could build an atomic bomb, with economic sanctions on Tehran being lifted in return. Under the framework deal, framing the parameters of a larger, more technical agreement due by June 30, Iran will be allowed to continue the enrichment of uranium and will close no facilities. Reuters contributed to this report.

Saudi generosity to Lebanon repaid with insults
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor/Al ARabiya
Saturday, 11 April 2015
Now I really do despair of Lebanon’s golden era ever returning; at least not during my lifetime. In the early 1970s, my frequent visits to a place where people were friendly and always welcoming were always special, which is one of the reasons I was driven to invest in Beirut, so beautiful and so blessed. Sadly, whereas Gulf nationals appreciate everything Lebanon has to offer, a Lebanese minority is willing to sacrifice the country’s future on the altar of sectarianism and hatred.
Gulf states have always stood by Lebanon in good times and bad. Saudi Arabia, in particular has been a good friend to the Lebanese people; last year alone, Riyadh pledged to provide the Lebanese government with a $3 billion grant to upgrade its military that was followed-up with a further $ 1billion in military aid to assist the army to fend off ISIS fighters.
Lebanon has traditionally been the go-to holiday destination for Saudis and Gulf Arabs and by some estimates there are hundreds of thousands of Lebanese expatriates in Saudi, the UAE and Qatar alone, many of which send regular remittances to their families at home. So when the Lebanese economy is depressed - weighed down by the needs of 1.5 million Syrian refugees - and its tourism industry has taken a severe knock due to Lebanon’s unstable security environment, Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah decides this is the time to be as offensive as he possibly can to the Saudi leadership and its coalition partners.
Not only are Saudis upset over his vicious diatribe, rebroadcast on Lebanon’s State TV, so are their Gulf neighbours. I don’t want to repeat Nasrallah’s exact words. I’ll paraphrase. In essence, he behaved like the obedient Iranian puppet he is by announcing his hope that the Saudi-led Arab coalition battling Houthi militias in Yemen would be defeated which, he said, would impact the Kingdom’s internal stability and its ruling monarchy. He’s no savvy politician. If he thinks insulting Saudi Arabia will resurrect Hezbollah’s dwindling popularity, he’s mistaken.
Erasing the hurt
Lebanon’s Minister of Information subsequently apologized to the Saudi ambassador for the broadcast and even politicians from the March 14 bloc have issued statements criticising Nasrallah – who in my opinion is Lebanon’s actual leader – for over-stepping the mark. But no amount of apologizing can erase the hurt, and I would imagine that many Saudis will think twice about investing or vacationing there for the foreseeable future. Few countries in the world allow state television to provide a platform for militias to spew their propaganda, let alone those under the wing of foreign governments!
I stopped being shocked at anything Hezbollah does years ago, especially since its triggering of a war with Israel in 2006
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
However, Nasrallah isn’t the only Lebanese going after the Kingdom’s jugular. There are frequent attacks on GCC states, especially targeting Saudi, by certain Lebanese politicians and so-called analysts on television and in newspapers. This trend is self-defeating and dismaying and if it continues, the consequences will backfire on the Lebanese people.
I stopped being shocked at anything Hezbollah does years ago, especially since its triggering of a war with Israel in 2006 and its decision to join hands with the Assad regime, one of the most ruthless our planet has ever known. Those are brands of shame it can never shake-off. But I do admit feeling disappointment with prominent politicians allied to March 14 who have neglected to take strong measures to ensure respect and appreciation for Saudi Arabia and the other GCC member states, March 14’s biggest allies and material backers.
How would they feel if Saudi channels had championed an Israeli victory in 2006? March 14 is duty-bound to hold accountable any politician or anyone else who trashes Lebanon’s closest regional friends. I’m sure they would love to hide behind the arguments that Hezbollah is too powerful to cross or Lebanon believes in the democratic principle of free speech.
Firstly, the country is just a sham democracy as long as Hezbollah’s hand rocks the cradle and those proponents of free speech merely use that argument to cover their own cowardice. In any case, anything that threatens Lebanon’s economic health or national security should trump the free expression of traitors with Persian loyalties.
March 14 has the resources to act but lacks the courage or the will; the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice and the media are all under its control – or that’s what its leaders would have us believe. It’s about time they stopped burying their heads and stood up for what is right. If their positions are nothing more than honorary to keep up a façade, then they should let us know, so that our heads of state don’t waste their time discussing with them.
Lebanese ministers and politicians must stop playing Hezbollah’s game. They were elected and funded to defend the people’s interests and those of the Lebanese diaspora in the Gulf, which should include deterring agenda-led thugs to hurl insults at Saudi Arabia or any other GCC country. Instead, they stand and watch while those thugs throw boulders in the well that they drink from. If they’re not very careful, they’ll end up having to find jobs for returning Lebanese expatriates because if hostile sentiments keep coming our way, leaders might find that many Lebanese nationals doing business or working in their countries pose a risk to national security.
How long is this sad state of affairs going to continue? How long will it be until the Lebanese people - whether Muslim Christian, Druze or Armenian - refuse to allow their strings to be pulled by ayatollahs threatening not only their safety and livelihoods but their very Lebanese identity. I can only hope they’ll find their voices to speak up against this dark cloak stifling any chance of a new Lebanese dawn. And in the meantime, I’m watching intently for signs that they reject absolutely any insult to brotherly nations that have always sheltered them with open arms.

Syria’s cruel ‘Hunger Games’
Hisham Melhem/Al Arabiya
Saturday, 11 April 2015
Yarmouk is a Syrian name which will live in infamy. For the past two years, this poor district a few miles away from the heart of Damascus has been subjected to a diabolical plan by the Assad regime that combines all medieval barbaric warfare tactics; including siege and starvation, and the use of modern destructive weapons a conventional army possesses such as heavy artillery, bombers and that brutal and efficient killer of civilians; barrel bombs.
Yarmouk, home for more than half a century to the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, and later on, a permanent sprawling concrete neighborhood for many Syrians as well, lacks the allure of the ancient city of Homs, or the charm of the famed city of Aleppo, but shares with them the same fate of medieval siege and the Assad regime’s sickening version of the Hunger Games.
It shall be said, that in the 21st Century, in the environs of Damascus, Syria, the country that used to be part of the granary that fed the Roman Empire, people are dying of hunger, living on grass, and subsisting on cats and dogs – after receiving religious edicts allowing for that abomination- one hundred years after the great and partially man-made famine that swept Lebanon and parts of Syria during the First World War. Like that distant famine, which remained alive in our folklore, literature and collective memory, today’s brutal Hunger Games, are killing young men, destroying children and infants, physically brutalizing women and tearing apart the social, familial and cultural fabrics of society.
‘The deepest circle of hell’
Unlike the savagery of the past which remained hidden from the world for some time, the chamber of horrors that Syria has become in the last four years is there for all to see the horrendous physical destruction, smell the stench of death and hear the pleas for mercy. When Yarmouk fell into the rebel’s hands two years ago, the Assad regime responded with its terror campaign that forced tens of thousands of residents to flee, leaving behind 18000 civilians too weak, too old, too young and too destitute to leave, they were trapped with an assortment of Islamist rebels who in turn subjected the civilians to varying degrees of intimidation. It’s as if the world has abandoned not only the people of Yarmouk but the more than half a million Syrians trapped in besieged communities, and left them under the tender mercies of humanitarian organizations that are themselves susceptible to the dark machinations, deceptions and intimidation of the Assad regime.
It is not too late for the U.S. to do the right thing morally and try to finally break that ‘deepest circle of hell’ in Syria
The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tried to shame the world a couple of days ago by invoking Dante’s circles of the inferno, when he said ‘in the horror that is Syria, the Yarmouk refugee camp is the deepest circle of hell’. But there were no takers. Is it possible that the world has grown accustomed to the worst human tragedy in recent decades? The U.S. is still focused on an Iraq-first approach to fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) with Syria remaining an afterthought, and finalizing the ‘Parameters’ nuclear agreement with Iran is the chief political objective for the Obama Administration in the Middle East. The European Union has an abundance of sympathy with the people of Syria, but no one wants to make serious sustainable political choices in Syria. That leaves the Arab states, the source of all the disillusionment of the Syrians today. But unfortunately for the Syrian people, their civil wars are not the only ones raging in the Arab world today. From Libya on the Mediterranean to Yemen on the Indian Ocean, new victims are falling in the crazy fratricide, in a landscape strewn with shattered dreams and schemes.
Barbarians within and Barbarians without
The dire situation in Yarmouk became truly hellish recently when the ISIS fighters stormed Yarmouk and occupied most of it. Now the residents of Yarmouk have to endure Assad’s siege, which includes cutting-off of water supplies; and the wanton savagery of ISIS. One resident told the Guardian, “We are being killed here; Yarmouk camp is being annihilated.” He continued “the situation inside the camp is catastrophic … There is no food or electricity or water, Daesh [Arabic acronym for Isis] is killing and looting the camp, there are clashes, there is shelling. Everyone is shelling the camp. As soon as Daesh entered the camp they burned the Palestinian flag and beheaded civilians.” There are 3500 children caught in the crosshairs of the Barbarians without and the Barbarians within. The inferno could only get worse; the Assad regime cannot tolerate such a close area to the heart of Damascus to remain teaming with Jihadists, which means the siege will be tightened up. When the bombs fall, including the barrel bombs, one can seek a shelter, and when the invaders march in, one can take to flight. But where would a dehydrated, malnourished, and starving middle aged man or woman go?
Laying siege to cities and forts is as old as warfare itself. In the Middle Ages the building of moving siege engines was almost perfected .In modern times sieges are easier to carry out, one can cut-off water and electricity supplies with one switch. In Syria, the Assad regime used siege and starvation early on against Homs, where most of the city was isolated and starved for three years, and then the same tactics were used against the Damascus suburbs such as Moaddamiya, and later against parts of Aleppo. It was very unsettling that the United Nations kept refusing to distribute food and medicine in rebel held areas, insisting on the principle of getting the permission of the government of the country receiving it. Such complicity in Syria was devastating.
A history of brotherly violence
With the exception of the violent crackdown that Jordan initiated against armed Palestinian groups in September 1970, following a series of clashes caused by the reckless and provocative activities of radical leftist organizations resulting in the expulsion of all armed groups from the country, Syria under the Assad dynasty was the Arab state that used most violence against Palestinians in both Syria and Lebanon. Syria’s military intervention in Lebanon in 1976, in support of right wing Lebanese groups in their war against a leftist- nationalist coalition supported by the Palestinians let to the first massacre of Palestinians (armed and civilians) at the Tal al Zaatar camp (The hill of thyme) at the hand of armed Lebanese militias backed by Syria. Casualty figures vary between 1500 and 3000. Syria continued its campaign against Arafat’s forces until it succeeded in expelling him, through its proxies from Northern Lebanon in 1983. Bashar Assad continued his father’s legacy of using and abusing the Palestinians to serve his political goals all the while claiming that he is the champion of Palestinian rights. There is a trail of Palestinian blood caused by the Assad dynasty that stretches from Tal al Zaatar in 1976 to Yarmouk today.
Given that the Palestinian refugees in Syria are stateless, and cannot travel or seek asylum like refugees of other countries, the United States in collaboration with its allies in the United Nations Security Council should shame Russia to lean on Assad to at least evacuate the civilians out of Yarmouk. It is not too late for the U.S. to do the right thing morally and try to finally break that ‘deepest circle of hell’ in Syria.