April 17/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Jesus expels out Merchants From The Temple
John 02/13-25: "The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.

Bible Quotation For Today/"Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander
First Letter of Peter 02/01-10: "Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: ‘See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’ To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner’, and ‘A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 16-17/15
Iran "Deal": West's Surrender Triggering War/Guy Millière/Gatestone Institute/April 16/15
How Resolution 2216 thwarted Iran’s plans in Yemen/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/April 16/15
Russia makes regional comeback/Salman Aldossary/Asharq Alawsat/April 16/15
Obama's lies about Iran framework agreement/Shoula Romano Horing/Ynetnews/ April 17/15

Lebanese Related News published on April 16-17/15
Al-Jadeed editor demands STL apologize for 'attack' on media
Saudi Arabia is Yemen's Israel: Hezbollah
Al-Jadeed, al-Khayat Contempt Case Starts at STL
Al-Rahi Meets with Ambassadors of Western Powers to Press End of Presidential Vacuum
Hariri to seek protection for Lebanon on US visit 
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea Says State Split, Believes Arab Coalition to Intervene in Syria
Lebanese Army Clashes with Jihadists on Outskirts of Ras Baalbek
Mustaqbal Hits Back at Hizbullah: It Merely Prioritizes Iran's Interests
General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim Advises Palestinians to Preserve Ain el-Hilweh after Yarmuk Clashes
Army Arrests 5 People in Tripoli Raid
ISIL Fighters Flee Arsal to Syria's Riqqa
Pro-Hizbullah Journalists Banned from Entering Gulf as Saudi Mulls Deporting 400 Lebanese
NBC changes account of reporter's kidnapping in Syria
Family mourns Lebanese expat murdered in Abidjan 

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on April 16-17/15
Framework deal opens floodgates for investment in Iran
Netanyahu is anxious, says Barak in Time
Footage of Syrian gas attack deaths brings UN Security council to tears
Report: Two Canadian Teens in Court over 'Terrorism' Threat
Iran releases ‘fact sheet’ of nuclear agreement at odds with US version
European Parliament votes to call 1915 Armenian killings genocide
New round of Iran nuclear talks April 22-23 in Vienna: EU
Netanyahu Likens Iran to Nazis during Holocaust Remembrance
U.N. Yemen Envoy Quits as Saudi-Led Air War Enters Fourth Week
UN's Ban Ki-moon calls for immediate cease-fire in Yemen
Yemen's Deposed President Saleh's request for safe exit rejected: Source
Turkish PM’s Armenian-origin advisor steps down: official
Bahraini king lands in Saudi Arabia to ‘deepen relations
Bomb kills soldier, wounds another in Egypt's Sinai: sources
Indonesia urged to ‘resolve problem in Yemen’
The Truth about “America’s Project”
Time to lift the U.S. Embargo against Cuba
Airstrikes near Tripoli as UN peace talks on Libya resume
Saudi Executes Second Indonesian Woman, Says Jakarta
More than 220,000 Dead in Syria Conflict
Russia hopes UN Syria talks will lead to united fight against ISIS
ISIS advances in Anbar, Abadi seeks help

Jihad Watch Latest News
Canada: Muslim teens in custody until Monday for fear they’ll wage jihad
Ohio public high school hosting “A Covered Girl Challenge,” asking students to wear hijab for a day
Muslim ex-rapper from Germany threatens Charlie Hebdo-style attacks: “We want your blood, it tastes so wonderful”
Slain Charlie Hebdo editor’s new book: “Letters to the Islamophobia Swindlers who Play into the Hands of Racists”
UK: Muslim politician’s son arrested for trying to join the Islamic State
Wisconsin: Public school students must “pretend you’re a Muslim”
Eastern Michigan U: Muslims disrupt “American Sniper” showing, force cancellation

Question: "How should Christians stand up for their faith in such an anti-Christian world?" As Christians, the two things we can do to stand up for Christ are to live according to His Word and grow our own knowledge of Him. Christ said, “Let your light shine before men…” (Matthew 5:16). This means that we should live and act in a way that supports the gospel. We should also arm ourselves with knowledge, both of the gospel (Ephesians 6:10-17) and of the world around us. First Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” All we can do is live and teach as Christ would and let Him take care of the rest.
Critics of Christianity have become more vocal recently. This is partly because there are many people who do not believe in God or understand the truth about Him at all. Yet the apparent increase of anti-Christians is also due to perception. As with many topics, those who truly despise Christianity are the loudest and most vocal of the non-believers. The vast majority of those who do not believe don’t care enough to bother believers. The few angry, vocal, bitter unbelievers make enough noise to seem more numerous than they are.
The typical insult from the non-religious crowd is to refer to believers as “ignorant,” “stupid,” “brainwashed,” or to otherwise suggest that those who have faith are less intelligent than those who do not. When a Christian stands up intelligently for his faith, the terms change to “bigot,” “extremist,” or “zealot.” When people who know that the believer is kind and loving hear this, the atheist starts to look like the fool that he or she is (Psalm 53:1). Most non-believers have no personal reason to see Christians negatively, but they sometimes hear so much from the loud anti-Christians that they just assume it is so. They need examples of Christ-like living to see the truth.
Of course, when someone claiming to be a Christian says or does something that is not Christ-like, the angry, loud crowd is there to identify him as a typical religious hypocrite. This is something we have been warned to expect (Romans 1:28-30; Matthew 5:11). The best thing to do is to cite a passage of the Bible that speaks against what the person did. And remind the atheists that just because a person says he is a Christian, and even if he thinks he is a Christian, that does not mean that he is. Matthew 7:16,20 tell us that true Christians will be known by their actions, not merely by their profession. And remind critics that absolutely no one lives without sinning at all (Romans 3:23).
An important thing to remember is that no one, no matter how persuasive, can force anyone to believe anything he doesn’t want to believe. No matter what the evidence, no matter what the argument, people will believe what they want to believe (Luke 12:54-56). Conviction is not a Christian’s job. The Holy Spirit convicts people (John 14:16-17), and they choose whether or not to believe. What we can do is present ourselves in a way that is as Christ-like as possible. It is sad that there are many atheists who have read the entire Bible looking for ammunition against Christians, and that there are many Christians who have hardly read the Bible at all.
It’s hard for the angry crowd to accuse a Christian of being a hateful, cruel bigot when that person demonstrates a life of kindness, humility, and compassion. When a Christian can discuss, debate or debunk secular arguments accurately, the label of “ignorant” no longer fits. A Christian who has read the secular arguments and can politely expose their flaws helps to deflate the stereotypes advanced by atheists. Knowledge is the weapon, and it is invincible when we let Christ direct us in how to use it.
Recommended Resources: Living Loud: Defending Your Faith by Norm Geisler and Logos Bible Software.

Saudi Arabia is Yemen's Israel: Hezbollah
The Daily Star/Apr. 16, 2015/BEIRUT: Hezbollah censured the U.N. Security Council decision to impose an arms embargo on Yemen’s Houthis Thursday, comparing the Saudi-led military campaign to the Israeli wars on Gaza. “What Saudi Arabia is committing [in Yemen] is identical to what Israel commits in Gaza,” Hezbollah deputy chief Naim Qassem told France 24 in an interview Thursday. “It is about attacking infrastructure and shelling civilians.” The Hezbollah no. 2 said it was time for Saudi Arabia to “learn” and push for a political solution through national dialogue in Yemen. The Security Council resolution adopted Wednesday imposes an arms embargo on the Houthi rebels and calls on them to withdraw from areas they had seized, including the capital Sanaa.
It was adopted after 14 countries voted yes with one abstention from Russia, which said the embargo should target the whole country. “The Security Council decision in Yemen is unjust, because it looks at one part of the problem, and not at the whole [picture],” Qassem said. “The Security Council should have stopped the Saudi aggression against Yemen and treated the issues related to the civilians and wounded and destruction of infrastructure.” “It was supposed to set the steps for a dialogue to reach a political solution. This, the Security Council has not done.”Hezbollah’s parliamentary group, the Loyalty to Resistance bloc, also denounced the U.N. decision in its weekly statement Thursday. “The catastrophic results and consequences on the stability of Yemen and the region have confirmed that the Saudi regime’s aggression against Yemen is a historic and strategic sin,” the statement said. “No unfair international decision could erase this fact or end the severe crisis in Yemen, even if issued under the 7th article.”
Qassem, who accused Saudi Arabia of committing genocide in Yemen, also sent an indirect message to Future Movement officials, referring to them as “the voices that act harshly and condemn our stand on Saudi aggression.”“We understand that these voices have to take this stance because of their monthly budgets and their affiliation and relationship with Saudi Arabia,” he said. Tensions had simmered between Hezbollah and the Future Movement recently, but Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri was able to prevent a collapse to the ongoing dialogue between the two parties, which he sponsors. The two groups are in strong disagreement over the Saudi-led military campaign. Future defends it as necessary to stop the expansion of Iran’s influence in the region. Since the Saudi military campaign in Yemen was launched late-last month, Future and Hezbollah have been engaging in a bruising back-and-forth war of words. The Future Movement's Secretary General Ahmad Hariri launched a fresh attack on Hezbollah over the Yemen controversy Thursday.
"The ironic thing is that Hezbollah takes on the Future Movement for defending Saudi Arabia, while it sinks from head to toe in the battle to defend the Iranian dominance plan, and acts in words and action as the military wing of Iran in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq," Hariri said in a meeting with Arab tribes in the northern town of Akkar. He said the party “allows itself to fight and commit the most dangerous acts” against Lebanon’s interest, while it expects its rivals to remain silent towards “Iranian crimes in Arab countries.”
He thanked Saudi Arabia and its King Salman for “blowing the Iranian volcano of hate against Arabs” through the recent military campaign. “[KSA] has proved to everybody that the “Iranian illusion” agenda is weaker than a spider web, and that the “Arab determination” agenda too strong for the Vali-e-Faqih to rub its face in the dirt. Vali-e-Fakih refers to Iran’s Supreme Religious Leader Ali Khamenei, who recently said that Saudi Arabia’s nose will be "rubbed in the dirt," meaning that its military campaign would eventually fail.

Al-Jadeed editor demands STL apologize for 'attack' on media
Hashem Osseiran/The Daily Star/Apr. 16, 2015
BEIRUT: The prosecution should apologize for targeting Lebanese journalists, Al-Jadeed news editor Karma Khayat told the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Thursday on the first day of her trial over carrying reports on alleged witnesses. Speaking after prosecutor Kenneth Scott accused Al-Jadeed of endangering lives by airing a series of reports in 2012 disclosing personal details of alleged witnesses, Khayat said the court was waging an "attack on investigative journalism." "The power is with you, but the right is with us, and he who has the right fears nothing," a defiant Khayat declared before the The Hague-based court set up to investigate the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The court is trying five Hezbollah members in absentia over alleged involvement in the Downtown Beirut blast, which killed Hariri and 21 others. But last year, the court announced that it was also charging Khayat and Al-Jadeed's parent company, and Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar and its editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin, with obstruction of justice and contempt of court for reports carried on alleged prosecution witnesses. The court has "diverted the path of justice" by going after journalists, Khayat said, insisting that it was the right of Lebanon's media to investigate how the country's $500 million in public funds spent to create the tribunal were being used. Turning the tables on the court, she ran through a list of examples of when it released identifying information on witnesses that she said may have endangered their lives. She also pointed out that other media have published secret court information without facing charges, attempting to show how Al-Jadeed is being targeted for actions that have been taken by the court itself and other foreign news agencies.
Lead prosecutor Scott should admit that journalists in Lebanon are as free as journalists in the West, Khayat added, calling on him to admit to the court that he made an error by prosecuting Al-Jadeed, and apologize.
In his opening statement, Scott said that freedom of expression had limits. He insisted that the case against Al-Jadeed had nothing to do with the right to criticize the court, saying there was wide space for criticism.
Rather, it was about protecting witnesses, their families and livelihoods, he said. Reports such as those carried by Al-Jadeed hamper the court's ability to gather and collect evidence, Scott added.
"No judge can say that this is the first time or a rare instance in which a journalist is charged with contempt of the court," he said, claiming that "most international tribunals have tried journalists for contempt, and most of them were convicted."
Scott presented evidence he said indicated Al-Jadeed’s intent to “undermine the court's work and intimidate its witnesses.”
Khayat has said that the reports on the alleged witnesses were carried to alert the court of leaks.
But Scott said leaks inside the court were never discovered, accusing the television station of a campaign to undermine the court by alleging leaks that did not exist.
"Maybe this information came from monitoring the witnesses and their movements, or from hacks, or from phone tappings. Maybe the information was stolen or collected from different sources and not one source," Scott said.
"But Al-Jadeed never confirmed that the information was leaked from the court. In fact the evidence will suggest that Al-Jadeed did not know where this information came from," he added.
He said that Al-Jadeed's broadcasts revealed identifying information of the alleged witnesses such as their voices, their vehicle license plate numbers.
"These alleged witnesses were contacted by friends and family members who expressed their worries over the broadcast," Scott said.
Defense attorney Karim Khan, who is representing both Khayat and Al-Jadeed, said the prosecution could not prove criminal intent since interviews with alleged witnesses blurred the faces of those individuals and withheld their names to protect them. He also noted that Al-Jadeed's decision to not release the full list of names of alleged witnesses also indicated that there was no criminal intent. No alleged witness was ever threatened or had their life put in danger as a result of the reports, Khan added.

Al-Jadeed, al-Khayat Contempt Case Starts at STL
Naharnet/The contempt case against al-Jadeed TV network and journalist Karma al-Khayat, accused of obstructing justice, kicked off on Thursday at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague. Al-Khayat and al-Jadeed S.A.L. are charged with two counts of contempt and obstruction of justice under rule 60 of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The case against them comes over broadcasts aired on the TV network in 2012, which revealed information about alleged confidential witnesses at the court.
According to the STL, al-Jadeed and al-Khayat are charged with “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by broadcasting and/or publishing information on purported confidential witnesses” and “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by failing to remove from al-Jadeed TV’s website and al-Jadeed TV’s YouTube channel information on purported confidential witnesses.”Kenneth Scott, who is prosecuting al-Jadeed and al-Khayat, told the STL that this case is linked to a conduct that puts certain people, their families and their interests at risk. Scott stressed in his opening statement before Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri that he believes in freedom of expression, but the information which puts people in danger should be taken seriously. “The witnesses are now exposed" because of al-Jadeed's broadcasts, he said. The witnesses' faces were hidden and names were not mentioned, but "nobody was fooled," Scott told the judge.
He said witnesses' voices were not masked and information such as initials, occupations, the businesses where they worked and even their vehicles' license plates were mentioned or appeared in camera shots.
But defense counsel for al-Khayat and al-Jadeed, Karim Khan, praised the TV network in the Defense's opening statement.
Al-Khayat later made her statement to Lettieri, saying: “It is our duty as journalists to find the truth that destroyed our country.”
“The court was established for us and from our money,” she said.
“We are facing accusations because we dared to expose the mistakes of the prosecution,” the journalist added.
She accused the court of not bringing into trial or holding accountable other personalities who had taken bribes or had leaked confidential STL documents.
“We believe in the verdict of the public opinion ... including our viewers” she said. Journalist Ibrahim al-Amin and al-Akhbar daily are facing similar charges for publishing an article over the alleged witnesses in 2013. The STL is trying five Hizbullah members who have been charged with plotting ex-PM Rafik Hariri's Feb. 14, 2005 assassination in a massive explosion at the Beirut seafront. They have not been arrested. Their trial in absentia began in January 2014. 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.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea Says State Split, Believes Arab Coalition to Intervene in Syria
Naharnet/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea considered on Thursday that the Lebanese state is fragmented, expressing belief that the Saudi-led Arab coalition will head to Syria after the crisis in Yemen ends. “The state is incomplete and will never rise amid the absence of the strategic and security decision in it,” Geagea reiterated in an interview with the Egyptian newspaper el-Yom el-Sabe. He said that the main point of contention between the March 14 and 8 alliances is the abnormal situation in the country. “The March 14 coalition is seeking for the rise of an actual state, while the March 8 alliance deems the situation in the country as ideal.” The LF leader reiterated that Hizbullah and its allies in Lebanon, who are affiliated to Iran, are obstructing the presidential elections, saying: “Since the first moment I expressed readiness to discuss the name of a third candidate, but unfortunately Hizbullah and its allies are not ready.”“It is useless to discuss the name of a third candidate... even if I said I'll withdraw from the presidential race this will not change anything,” Geagea added. He considered that Iran is “seeking to fortify its role in the Middle East by controlling the presidential polls in Lebanon or pressing for the election of its candidate.” MPs failed on several occasions to elect a new head of state over lack of quorum. President Michel Suleiman's term ended in May without the election of a successor. Hizbullah and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun's Change and Reform bloc have been boycotting electoral sessions due to a disagreement with the March 14 camp over a compromise presidential candidate.
Geagea expected that the Arab coalition will head to Syria in the upcoming months at the end of the crisis in Yemen. “This is why Iran's allies reject Saudi Arabia's intervention” against the Huthi rebels, the Christian leader told his interviewer. More than 215,000 people have been killed in Syria in four years of conflict, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, as the brutal civil war entered its fifth year. Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes in Yemen on March 25, announcing that it had put together a coalition of more than 10 countries, including five Gulf monarchies, for the military operation to defend Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansur Hadi's government against Huthi rebels. It said that it will continue its operation Decisive Storm until Hadi is restored to power and the rebels, backed by Iran, are defeated. The military move against the Shiite Huthi rebels triggered fury from Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran, Hizbullah's main regional ally, with officials in Tehran warning that the military action threatened to spill over into other countries.

Al-Rahi Meets with Ambassadors of Western Powers to Press End of Presidential Vacuum
Naharnet/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi discussed at Bkirki on Thursday with the ambassadors to Lebanon of the five permanent United Nations Security Council members local and regional developments. Al-Rahi demanded the international community to facilitate the election of a new head of state, expressing support to the ongoing dialogue between the rival parties to bridge the gap. He considered the presidential crisis a priority. The meeting was held in presence of papal ambassador to Lebanon Gabriele Caccia, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag and European Union Ambassador to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst. Kaag told reporters after the meeting that western powers “share with al-Rahi his concerns about the protracted vacancy.”She pointed out that the eleven-month stalemate in the election of a president is “undermining Lebanon's ability to address the security, economic and social challenges it faces and has jeopardized the normal functioning of Lebanese institutions.”The official called on Lebanese officials to “adhere to the country's Constitution, including the Taef Agreement and National Pact,” urging lawmakers to “uphold Lebanon's longstanding democratic tradition and convene to elect a president without further delay.”Kaag sent a strong message to all parties, calling on them to “act responsibly and put Lebanon's stability and national interests ahead of partisan politics and to show the necessary flexibility and sense of urgency to apply mechanisms provided for by the Lebanese Constitution with regard to the election.”MPs failed on several occasions to elect a new head of state over lack of quorum. President Michel Suleiman's term ended in May without the election of a successor. Hizbullah and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun's Change and Reform bloc have been boycotting electoral sessions due to a disagreement with the March 14 camp over a compromise presidential candidate.

Army Arrests 5 People in Tripoli Raid
Naharnet/The Lebanese army said on Thursday that it has arrested five individuals in the northern city of Tripoli's al-Beddawi area. A military communique stated that during a raid on a sawmill and a grocery shop on Wednesday night, an army patrol apprehended two suspicious men. It found rifles, guns, ammunition, mortar shells, hand grenades, telecommunications equipment and other military gear at the two locations, said the communique. The same army unit arrested three people for the obstruction of justice and for assaulting the troops, it said. The detainees and the seized material were handed over to the involved authorities to take necessary measures against them, the communique added.

ISIL Fighters Flee Arsal to Syria's Riqqa
Naharnet/Prominent leaders affiliated to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) reportedly retreated from the northeastern border town of Arsal to Syria's Riqqa. According to the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat published on Thursday, ISIL's command decided to limit its presence in Arsal and its outskirts to 200 fighters and a single leader, spiritual judge Abou Balqis. Informed sources told the daily that eight ISIL leaders and their groups withdrew to Riqqa, without clarifying the reasons behind the move. However, the sources pointed out that ISIL became weak in the area along Lebanon's border. In August, extremists from the ISIL and al-Nusra Front overran Arsal where they engaged in brief clashes with the army. They withdrew from Arsal at the end of the fighting, but kidnapped a number of servicemen. A few were released, four were executed, while the rest remain held. The ISIL and al-Nusra Front want to exchange the captives with Islamist prisoners in Lebanon and Syria. Meanwhile, concerned sources denied to Asharq al-Awsat that ISIL transferred the soldiers and policemen in its captivity to Riqqa. The sources stressed that the hostages are held in a Syrian village near Arsal. Last week, the relatives of the hostage men demanded the state to clarify media reports saying that ISIL transferred the soldiers and policemen in its captivity to Riqqa. The families called on negotiators who are following up the case to bring them a new video for the servicemen within a week, warning of escalating their endeavors.

General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim Advises Palestinians to Preserve Ain el-Hilweh after Yarmuk Clashes
Naharnet/General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim told Palestinian factions and officials form the Palestinian joint security force that it was important to preserve the security of the southern camp of Ain el-Hilweh, sources said. “The security of the camp is part of the security of Lebanon and Arabs,” Ibrahim said during a meeting he held with the two sides on Wednesday, according to the Palestinian sources. “Preserve the camp and all your problems could be resolved,” the sources quoted the General Security chief as saying in remarks published in al-Joumhouria daily on Thursday. The meeting was held over fears that Ain el-Hilweh would be dragged into fighting after divisions emerged among Palestinian factions in Syria's Yarmuk camp. According to the sources, Ibrahim warned that the Palestinian cause would be lost if Ain el-Hilweh was engulfed in violence. Jihadists from the Islamic State group have lost ground to Palestinian fighters in Yarmuk after they established a "joint operations room" with government forces. But fighters from Fatah and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine groups are not participating. Both groups have said they want Yarmuk to remain neutral and do not want to be seen as taking a side in the conflict between Syria's government and opposition forces. Wednesday's meeting also dealt with the case of around 50 Palestinians whose residencies have expired, the sources said. The Palestinian officials asked Ibrahim to resolve their case and provide assistance to Ain el-Hilweh, which like the rest of Lebanon is hosing refugees who have escaped the fighting in Syria, they added.

Mustaqbal Hits Back at Hizbullah: It Merely Prioritizes Iran's Interests
Naharnet /Al-Mustaqbal Movement slammed on Thursday Hizbullah, accusing it of prioritizing its subordination to the Islamic Republic of Iran over the Arab identity and Lebanese interests. The statement that was published in al-Mustaqbal newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Sunni party, lashed out at Hizbullah, stressing that the party's allegations against al-Mustaqbal movement is merely a new attempt to impose the developments in Yemen on Lebanon. The statement stressed that Hizbullah's “hatred storm” in response to the Saudi-led Arab coalition against the Huthi rebels in Yemen only serves Iran, pointing out that it will have repercussions on the national interests of the Lebanese. “Hizbullah condemned itself by drowning the Lebanese in a war of words,” the statement added, justifying al-Mustaqbal movement's counter response by considering it “an attempt to defuse the tension caused by those who are waging a campaign against Arabs and to defend Lebanon's Arab identity and the interests of the expats.”“Al-Mustaqbal movement admits with pride its allegiance to the Arab nation, identity and unity that was adopted by the international legitimacy.”The statement said that Hizbullah's “insults only tarnish Lebanon's image,” warning that “the party is turning a blind eye to clearly announcing its loyalty to Iran instead of the Arab nation.”
Hizbullah “is delusional if its thinks that adopting the exclusion and terror policy would shut the mouths of the Lebanese, who believe in Lebanon's sovereignty.”“Al-Mustaqbal movement will always prioritize the nation and Arab countries over any foreign interest... it will always block the storm of hatred by Iran against Saudi Arabia and the rest to the Arab countries.”Tensions recently flared between the Mustaqbal Movement and Hizbullah over Saudi Arabia's military operation against Yemen. The former has backed the campaign, while the latter has slammed it as blatant interference in the country's affairs. A war of words soon ensued between the two sides, with movement chief MP Saad Hariri declaring Saudi Arabia's right to defend Arab interests against Iran, while Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah vowed that the kingdom will suffer a defeat in its mission. Despite the tensions, the two officials have repeatedly voiced their commitment to continuing the dialogue. Tuesday's latest round of dialogue between the movement and party emphasized this commitment. Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes in Yemen on March 25, announcing that it had put together a coalition of more than 10 countries, including five Gulf monarchies, for the military operation to defend Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansur Hadi's government against Huthi rebels. It said that it will continue its operation Decisive Storm until Hadi is restored to power and the rebels, backed by Iran, are defeated. On Wednesday, Hizbullah slammed al-Mustaqbal as a subservient to “the Saudi regime.”“Al-Mustaqbal movement's attachment to the Saudi leadership and its efforts to satisfy it and defend it will not make us remain silent over an aggression of this magnitude against a brotherly Arab Muslim people” in Yemen, Hizbullah's media department said in a statement. “The rhetoric of al-Mustaqbal movement gives the impression that this movement supports the extermination operations and mass murders that are being committed by the aggression's warplanes against innocent civilians,” the statement added.

Lebanese Army Clashes with Jihadists on Outskirts of Ras Baalbek
Naharnet /The Lebanese army clashed at dawn Thursday with al-Nusra Front fighters on the outskirts of Ras Baalbek in northeastern Lebanon, the state-run National News Agency said. The intermittent gunbattles took place on the western side of Asal al-Wared, said NNA. Also at dawn Thursday, troops targeted with heavy artillery the movement of jihadists on the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal. The fighters were furthermore targeted in Wadi Hmeid, Muheet al-Malahi and al-Rihwa, the agency added. The army continuously clashes with jihadists, whose threat rose in August last year when they overran Arsal and took with them hostages from the military and police following heavy gunbattles with troops.

European Parliament votes to call 1915 Armenian killings genocide

By Adrian Croft and Ayla Jean Yackley | Reuters, Brussels/Istanbul
Thursday, 16 April 2015/The European Parliament backed a motion on Wednesday that calls the massacre a century ago of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces a “genocide”, days after Pope Francis triggered fury in Turkey by using the same term.
Although the resolution repeated language previously adopted by the parliament in 1987, it could stoke tensions with EU candidate nation Turkey. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said even before the vote took place that he would ignore the result. After the vote, the Turkish foreign ministry accused the European Parliament of attempting to rewrite history. Muslim Turkey agrees that Christian Armenians were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces that began on April 15, 1915, when large numbers of Armenians lived in the empire ruled by Istanbul, but denies that this amounted to genocide. Armenia, some Western historians and foreign parliaments refer to the mass killings as genocide. Voting by show of hands, European lawmakers overwhelmingly backed the motion stating that the “tragic events that took place in 1915-1917 against the Armenians in the territory of the Ottoman Empire represent a genocide”.Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian hailed the resolution as a move aimed at defending human rights. “The Resolution contains an important message to Turkey to use the commemoration of the centenary of the Armenian Genocide to come to terms with its past, to recognize the Armenian Genocide and thus pave the way for a genuine reconciliation between Turkish and Armenian peoples,” he said in a statement. Pope Francis sparked a diplomatic row last Sunday by calling the killings “the first genocide of the 20th century”. His remarks prompted Turkey to summon the Vatican’s ambassador to the Holy See and to recall its own. The European Parliament sprang to the pope’s defense, commending the message the pontiff delivered at the weekend.“In one ear, out the other”
Turkey is a candidate country to join the 28-nation EU but accession talks have dragged on for years with little progress. Earlier, Erdogan told a news conference that “whatever decision the European Parliament took on Armenian genocide claims would “go in one ear and out the other”. “It is out of the question for there to be a stain, a shadow called ‘genocide’, on Turkey,” he said at Ankara airport before departing on a visit to Kazakhstan. Last year, when he was Turkey’s prime minister, Erdogan offered what his government said were unprecedented condolences to the grandchildren of Armenians killed during World War One. Wednesday’s resolution said such statements were a step in the right direction, but legislators urged Turkey to go further. In a statement after the vote, Turkey’s foreign ministry said lawmakers who backed the resolution were in partnership with “those who have nothing to do with European values and are feeding on hatred, revenge and the culture of conflict”.

Yemen's Deposed President Saleh's request for safe exit rejected: Source
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Wednesday, 15 April 2015/Deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh has sent envoys to a number of GCC capitals in an effort to gain safe exit for himself and his family out of Yemen by denying his links to Houthi militias, Al Arabiya News Channel reported citing a GCC official. The diplomat said Saleh’s envoys were visiting Gulf capitals to enhance Saleh’s image. The envoys have also reportedly declared that Saleh is bankrupt, which the Gulf state official in turn called morally and politically bankrupt. This is not the first time that Saleh has reached out to the Gulf states. His son, Ahmed, had reportedly told Saudi authorities that he would turn against the Houthi militias in return for immunity for him and his father. Ahmed Saleh suggested a deal that would see him, Saleh’s eldest son, launch a coup against the Shiite group with 5,000 security personnel loyal to Saleh and 100,000 members of the Saleh-aligned remnants of the republican guard units. Ahmed took up his post as the Yemeni ambassador to the UAE in 2013. On Wednesday, the Gulf Cooperation Council welcomed a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing an arms embargo against the Houthi militias, which also blacklisted the country’s deposed president Saleh. Saudi Arabia is leading a 10-state coalition against the Houthi militias, whom Saleh had allied himself with as they took control of the country’s capital earlier this year.

Report: Two Canadian Teens in Court over 'Terrorism' Threat

Naharnet /Two Canadian students appeared in a Montreal court Wednesday over fears they were plotting to commit crimes related to "terrorism," CBC's Radio-Canada said. El Mahdi Jamali and Sabrine Djaermane, both 18, were ordered to remain in custody. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police did not specify why the pair was arrested, saying only an investigation was ongoing and could lead to their indictment. Radio-Canada said they were students at Montreal's College de Maisonneuve. The school was also apparently attended by five of seven people who allegedly went to Turkey en route to Syria, where they planned to join Islamic State militants, according to some of the youths' parents. A school official could not confirm whether the students were enrolled there. The latest arrests follow the recent detention of two other Montrealers, Merouane Ghalmi, 22, and Daniel Darko Minta, 26, who are accused of plotting acts that would threaten national security. The federal government has proposed toughening the nation's counterterrorism laws following a lone gunman's killing of a ceremonial guard and storming of parliament in October. Agence France Presse

U.N. Yemen Envoy Quits as Saudi-Led Air War Enters Fourth Week
Naharnet /The U.N. envoy to Yemen has resigned after failing to avert large-scale violence, dealing a blow to hopes of a diplomatic solution to the conflict between rebels and Saudi-backed government forces. The announcement from the United Nations came as a Saudi-led coalition pressed its air war against the Iran-backed rebels into a fourth week, promising "no half measures" in its campaign to restore President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. As U.N. envoy, Jamal Benomar had tried desperately to avert all-out conflict as the Shiite Huthi rebels seized the capital last September and then placed Hadi under effective house arrest in January. But Hadi's escape to second city Aden the following month to rally opposition to the rebels effectively brought negotiations to an end and Benomar's efforts to revive them came to nothing as the rebels advanced on the president's last refuge, triggering his flight to Saudi Arabia. Benomar retained the support of U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, who has repeatedly called for a return to the negotiating table, but he lost the confidence of Riyadh and its allies.
Last month, a Gulf diplomatic official accused the U.N. envoy of appeasing the rebels and their allies as they overran Saudi Arabia's impoverished but strategically important neighbor. "They pressed to redraw the political map of Yemen and, in a way, they were encouraged by Benomar," the official said. The Moroccan diplomat had been instrumental in negotiating a peace deal that eased former president Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office in February 2012 after a year of bloody protests against his three-decade rule, and Ban paid tribute to his work. The U.N. chief "greatly appreciates the tireless efforts Mr. Benomar has made over the years to promote consensus and trust on a peaceful way forward in Yemen," a statement said. Among the candidates to replace him is Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who currently heads the U.N. Ebola mission in Accra, a U.N. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Benomar's resignation came hot on the heels of the adoption by the U.N. Security Council of a resolution that the Saudi-led coalition saw as support for its bombing campaign. The resolution -- the first formal action taken by the Security Council since air strikes started on March 26 -- demands that the rebels withdraw from Sanaa and all other areas they have seized. It also slapped an arms embargo on the rebels and army units still loyal to Saleh who have allied with them, providing crucial support as they have advanced out of their stronghold in the northern mountains into mainly Sunni areas. Hadi's newly appointed Vice President Khaled Bahah called on those army units on Thursday to drop their support for the Huthis. "I call on all troops and security force personnel to accept the command of the legitimate government and protect the country," he told reporters in Riyadh, where he is exiled along with the president. As the air campaign entered its fourth week, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States vowed that it would continue until all its objectives were achieved. "There can be no half measures," Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in Washington. Jubeir said the first three weeks had been "very successful" and had "been able to degrade and destroy much of the military infrastructure that Huthis and Saleh possess."Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri said the bombing campaign had "in a large proportion" succeeded in halting the rebels' advance in the south. Troops and militia loyal to Hadi have been battling the rebels in Aden and other southern provinces. Overnight, coalition aircraft carried out fresh air strikes on rebel positions in Aden, killing at least eight rebels, a military source said. The World Health Organization says at least 736 people have died in the conflict since April 12 and more than 2,700 have been wounded. The United Nations said nearly half the casualties were civilians, and U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called Tuesday for an investigation. Agence France Presse

Iran "Deal": West's Surrender Triggering War
Guy Millière/Gatestone Institute
April 16, 2015 at 5:00 am
Russia and China have also agreed to build nuclear plants for Iran. And North Korea has also been supplying Iran with technology, a "minor detail" hidden from the UN by U.S. President Barack Obama. And the U.S. thinks that if Iran is caught cheating, sanctions can be re-imposed?Other countries in the region have already started scheduling delivery for their nuclear weapons. They have made it clear they will not sit idly by while Iran goes nuclear.
Iran has already bragged that it will sell "enriched uranium" on the open market, and will be "hopefully making some money" from it, said Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
No agreement was signed between Iran and the P5+1 group[1] on April 2; no agreement will be signed on June 30.
The text defining the "framework" of some agreement to be signed in June was immediately challenged by Iran. Western leaders speak and act as if they have no idea what Iran is saying or doing.
Western leaders wanted something akin to an agreement. They got something akin to an agreement.
Iran's leaders seem to have spotted pretty soon that Western leaders would willingly concede everything -- and possibly more -- to get any "agreement"; so that is what Western leaders got.
Western leaders not only failed to reach an agreement; they capitulated. The reason for the talks was to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. When, according to Western reports, they saw that Iran would not agree to stop, they "flipped" and instead became complicit.
All signs indicate that the West is planning to give a lawless, expansionist, terrorist regime nuclear weapons capability -- as a reward for violating international treaties again and again. What message are other rogue nations to take from that?
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hugs French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the close of nuclear talks in Geneva, Nov. 23, 2014. (Image source: ISNA)
Not only have Western leaders given the Iranian regime the opportunity to acquire nuclear weapons; they have let Iran initiate and sanctify a nuclear arms race to destabilize an already volatile region. They have also given Iran the opportunity to get billions of dollars to accelerate its nuclear weapons programs – and they are negotiating to lift all sanctions either early or late so that Iran can get still more.
They also allowed Iran to keep four American hostages: Jason Rezaian, Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Robert Levinson, who has not been heard from for years and may be dead. The State Department has said that "their freedom should not be linked to negotiations," so their release was not even discussed. Their immediate release was the first matter that should have been discussed.
What Western leaders have deliberately ignored is the nature of the Iranian regime: Totalitarian regimes never abide by the agreements they sign. Islamists often refer to Muhammad's treaty of Hudaybiyyah. In 628, Muhammad agreed to a 10-year truce with the Quraysh tribe of Mecca. Two years later, when Muslim forces had gathered strength, Muhammad broke the treaty and marched into Mecca.[2] Since then, in Islam, no treaty can be made for more than ten years, and even then, it is not a treaty, it is a truce -- to be broken again if Islam's side is strong.
This spring, while negotiations were held in Lausanne, Ali Khamenei, the "supreme leader" of Iran, led huge crowds, shouting "Death to America." Every year, he promises a "world free of infidels" as well as the Messianic return of the "Twelfth Imam," the Mahdi, a descendant of Muhammad who will guide martyrs during a "final battle".
Western leaders act as if all important decisions in Iran are made by its President, Hassan Rouhani. They know perfectly well, however, that nothing happens in Iran without the approval of Ali Khamenei, and no one else. Perhaps Western leaders are hoping that Rouhani will unseat Khamenei, a succession scarcely conceivable. The Iranian leadership is not accountable to its people.
Moreover, based on Rouhani's account of how he duped the West in previous negotiations, it is doubtful if Rouhani unseating Khamenei would be any more desirable for the West. Since Rouhani was elected President in June 2013, the number of executions carried out by the regime has soared compared to the number under his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Reportedly, 753 persons were executed in 2014, a 10% increase over 2013. Just 291 of these cases (39%) were announced officially. "The aim of these executions is not to fight crime, but to spread fear among the population," according to Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of Iran Human Rights.
To paraphrase Natan Sharansky,[3] if a government does not treat its own people well, it is not likely to treat anyone else any better.
Iran is clearly interested in all oil producing regions. It has taken over four Arab capitals -- Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad and Sana'a -- while the U.S. has fled from three countries: Iraq, Libya and Yemen. Iran now surrounds all the oilfields of the Middle East.
Iran is also trying to take over the Middle East's major sea lanes -- the Strait of Hormuz, the choke point of the Persian Gulf, and the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait at the mouth of the Suez Canal. If Iran succeeds, it will be able to control most of the oil trade in the Middle East.
Iran also continues to repeat its threats of genocide against Israel. In late March, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of Iran's Basij paramilitary force, announced that "the destruction of Israel is non-negotiable."
Hamas is still on the terrorist list maintained by the State Department but was removed from the list of the European Union in December 2014. No Western leader seems to know that Iran has been helping Hamas to build over 100 new tunnels and replenish its weapon stockpiles.
Although many of the terms of the "framework" are, we are told, known only to the negotiators, what we do know so far about what Iran wanted and got includes:
Retaining its enriched uranium stockpile, not having to ship it abroad.
Keeping thousands (at least 6000) centrifuges to produce weapons-grade uranium, and modernizing its Arak plutonium reactor.
Continuing its operations at the Fordow plant, under a mountain, in bunkers designed to withstand aerial attacks.
A massive lifting of sanctions. It wants still more, "immediately."
Continuing to develop its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program
Iran's ICBM program was not even mentioned during discussions.
Also not included in discussions was Iran's ongoing funding of terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, was just removed by the U.S. State Department from its list of terrorist threats; and Iran was removed from its list of states that sponsor terrorism.
The "armed wing" of Hezbollah is still on the European Union's list of terrorist organizations, but Hezbollah's "political wing" is not. Iran can tell European leaders that the Iranian regime supports the political wing of Hezbollah, but not its military branch. There is no doubt that European leaders, pressured by companies eager to do business in Iran, will pretend they received a satisfying answer.
On April 12, Russia lifted its ban on the delivery of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. Russia and China have also agreed to build nuclear power plants for Iran. And North Korea has also been supplying Iran with technology, "including components for a long-range nuclear missile," a "minor detail" hidden from the UN by U.S. President Barack Obama. And the U.S. thinks that if Iran is caught cheating, sanctions can be re-imposed?
Iran says it will accept only scheduled visits by IAEA inspectors, and it can endlessly contest any findings. The IAEA in the past never found anything anyway. All the illegal nuclear facilities that Iran wanted to hide were discovered by Iranian dissidents, and American and Israeli intelligence agencies -- not by the IAEA.
Senator Mark Kirk has said that Neville Chamberlain got a lot more out of Adolf Hitler at the Munich Conference. British commentators noted that the difference between Chamberlain and those who negotiated with Iran is that Chamberlain had never encountered that kind of duplicity before, and was the head of a weakened, and largely disarmed, Britain.
Iran supports Shiite militias fighting ISIS in Iraq, where the Shiite militias behave as wildly as ISIS.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman and other Arab leaders have realized that they are facing a clear and present danger. At the Arab League summit on March 29, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced the creation of a joint Arab military force. The positions of Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen are being bombarded, but the Houthis do not retreat. Other countries in the region have already started scheduling delivery for their nuclear weapons. They have made it clear that they will not sit idly by while Iran goes nuclear. Iran has already bragged that it will sell "enriched uranium" on the open market, and will be "hopefully making some money" from it, said Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Benjamin Netanyahu knows that Israel faces an equally obvious danger. He said that "the agreement" would be a "threat to the survival of Israel." Yesterday, on April 15, speaking at the state ceremony commemorating "Yom Hashoah" (the day of remembrance of the Holocaust), he stated, "The danger is there for all to see... and yet the blindness is vast. Even if we are forced to stand alone, we will not falter. ... We will not allow the State of Israel to become a passing phase in the history of our people."
The U.S. President who cut off military supplies to Israel during the Gaza war, who has interfered in the Israeli elections to an unprecedented degree, and who wants to force Israel to return to indefensible borders, said he would "defend" Israel. It is not at all certain that Netanyahu can trust him.
Iran's Defense Minister, Hossein Dehghan, hailed the framework as a step towards "establishing stability and security in the region." Israel's Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said: "This is a direct result of the legitimacy that Iran obtained from the emerging deal."
On the evening of April 3, Western leaders were smiling. Mohammad Javad Zarif, was smiling too. He was the only one who had good reason to.
[1] The U.S, the U.K., Russia, France and China, plus Germany.
[2] William J. Boykin, Harry Edward Soyster, Shariah: The Threat To America: An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, Center for Security Policy, 2010.
[3] Natan Sharansky, The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, PublicAffairs, 2006

How Resolution 2216 thwarted Iran’s plans in Yemen
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Thursday, 16 April 2015
On the night of the U.N. Security Council’s session to vote on a resolution regarding Yemen, Iran was actively buying time, suggesting ideas to reach a ceasefire and return to negotiations. Iran’s Russian allies tried to market the idea that the Iranians were saying they were capable of convincing the Houthi rebels to negotiate and engage with a Yemeni government, therefore peacefully ending the crisis. The idea of a peaceful solution is tempting to the extent that even rivals cannot reject it. If it’s really possible to achieve a solution that ends the war, then this is of course better than resuming the fighting and achieving a peaceful solution later - considering that all fighters on ground are Yemenis. The Iranians went a step further when their foreign affairs minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Houthis had agreed to engage with the government, hinting that they’d given up their demands to dominate it. There are two problems with the idea of the Iranians speaking on behalf of the Houthis.
Painful military relapse
The first problem is not the idea itself, but the intentions of the rebel groups. The Houthi movement and the militias of the deposed leader Ali Abdullah Saleh - who the war was launched against - are now being subjected to a painful military relapse and they are trying to reorganize themselves, gather their forces and bring more support at local and foreign levels. The idea of stopping means one thing: for the alliance it means to halt the daily air strikes launched from Saudi airspace. The act of stopping shelling would grant the rebels a chance to breathe and to reorganize on the ground.
The idea of a peaceful solution is tempting to the extent that even rivals cannot reject it It will enable them in the areas they have seized to later resume their plan of controlling Yemen - which they were close to achieving, before the airstrikes against them began when they were at the gates of Aden, the last of major cities confronting them. The U.N. Security Council resolution 2216 is important on many levels as it imposed an arms embargo against Yemen’s Houthi militias and blacklisted the country’s deposed president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The Iranian suggestion
However, I think what’s more important is that the Security Council indirectly rejected the stopping of the shelling - i.e. it was against the Iranian suggestion.
Therefore, it strengthened the legitimacy of the alliance attacks, being carried out under the slogan of ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ and who is the core of the military operation that aims to impose the agreement reached upon U.N. sponsorship and which the rebels themselves agreed to and signed before staging a coup against it. The second problem in the Iranian suggestion is Iran itself. What made matters worse was Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s promising statement to Arab Gulf countries in which he stated he had contacted Iranian officials urging them to bring Houthis to the negotiating table. We wish he hadn’t done that as Iran, for more than 2,000 years, has never been a party in Yemeni affairs and it does not know the Yemenis. No one wants to host it as an involved party now, as everyone is aware that Iran’s aim of supporting the Houthis is to be an efficient partner in deciding Yemen’s fate and turning the country into another Lebanon, Iraq, Syria or Gaza so it can use it to reach compromises regarding its own affairs. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries certainly do not want that and will confront it. If the Houthis and deposed president Saleh are serious about a reconciliation, then they know who to turn to - to the Gulf Cooperation Council who represents the regional and familial system that’s closer to Yemen.

Russia makes regional comeback
Salman Aldossary/Asharq Alawsat
Thursday, 16 Apr, 2015
As much as it has surprised the international community, Russia’s decision not to veto the UN Security Council resolution on Yemen has sent a glimmer of hope that it will deal with Arab issues more fairly in the future. The real diplomatic triumph for the Gulf in New York was in convincing Moscow not to obstruct the draft resolution. Although it could use the veto to hamper the draft resolution, Russia seems to be in favor of making a more positive comeback to the region and its issues through the gateway of Yemen.
The Russians are finally convinced that betting on the Houthis and the militias loyal to toppled president Ali Abdullah Saleh is not the right course of action in Yemen. Despite their link to Iran, it was the Houthis and Saleh who inflamed the situation in Yemen, in the process impacting security and stability not just in Yemen but across the entire region. The continuation of instability in the region does not serve the best interests of Russia who, having distanced itself from the region over the past few years, remains keen on safeguarding its interests there. The UN resolution plays into Russia’s strategy of halting the war in Yemen and returning everybody to the negotiating table. However, the resumption of talks depends on the Houthis meeting certain conditions, namely withdrawing from the areas they have occupied and returning the weapons they have seized, with the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) initiative and its executive mechanisms acting as a point of reference in this regard. Given that it is among the countries that have sponsored the GCC initiative, Russia would not accept the Houthi coup against the initiative it backed and participated in implementing as a means to get Yemen out of its 2011 political crisis.
It is obvious that Russia has had enough with the Houthis and Saleh loyalists who failed to comply with the international consensus regarding the situation in Yemen, along with all previous UN resolutions. Although Russia has amended UN resolutions on Yemen out of sympathy to the Houthis, the Shi’ite group’s refusal to respond to peace talks even before Operation Decisive Storm has prevented Moscow from maintaining its support. Russia realized that Operation Decisive Storm enjoys an international legitimacy and that it would lose its credibility should it vote against the UN resolution. The international community is well aware that Operation Decisive Storm is firmly based on international laws and has never been a miscalculated political adventure.
I think Moscow realizes the great significance of Yemen and the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait which, if occupied by the Houthis, will direct a fatal blow to global security. If the Houthis seize this strategic strait, through which approximately 20,000 ships pass per year, they will control international trade and military routes in the Indian Ocean. Commenting on this issue, head of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev said that the desire to shift the current regional balance of power may lead to a long-term war. And Moscow would neither risk nor accept this balance being altered at this time.
Russia’s positive position sends an indirect message, particularly to the Gulf States, of its desire to return to engage with Arab issues after seeing its role recede in the region in a manner not in line with its size or significance. Russia has taken honorable positions throughout history towards our major causes. Russia is a significant country and the Gulf States do not wish to oppose it or its interests. There is a consensus about Russia’s significance to the Gulf States and once the two sides realize this, tensions between them will give way to interests.

Iran releases ‘fact sheet’ of nuclear agreement at odds with US version
By ARIEL BEN SOLOMON/J.Post/04/16/2015
The Iranian parliament’s nuclear committee has released a fact sheet regarding the framework agreement reached in Lausanne over its nuclear program, and it differs significantly from a previous US version.
The US released its fact sheet after Washington and other major powers reached a framework agreement with Iran on April 2 on curbing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, which is supposed to lead to a final deal by June 30.
“The [Iranian] fact sheet urges operation of 10,000 centrifuge machines at Natanz and Fordow, a maximum five-year-long duration for the deal and for Iran’s nuclear limitations, [and] replacement of the current centrifuges with the latest generation of home-made centrifuge machines at the end of the five-year period,” the Fars News Agency reported on Wednesday.
“The Iranian parliament fact sheet for a revision to the Lausanne agreement came after the US released a fact sheet different from the joint statement issued by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Federica Mogherini, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs,” the Iranian version said.
According to the American document, Tehran agreed to reduce the number of installed uranium enrichment centrifuges it has to 6,104 from 19,000, and for 10 years will only operate 5,060 under the future final agreement with the six powers.
The Iranian fact sheet also said that once the final agreement is signed, there must be an immediate end to all US and EU sanctions and to UN Security Council resolutions.
However, the US fact sheet says that Iran would only gradually receive relief from US and European Union sanctions as it demonstrates compliance with the future agreement.
The US version also states that UN Security Council resolutions on Iran’s nuclear file would only be lifted after Iran has fully addressed all nuclear concerns.
Moreover, in place of the US claim that Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment to 3.67 percent for 15 years, the Iranian fact sheet says that after only five years, enrichment would continue at below 5%.
Reuters contributed to this report.

Framework deal opens floodgates for investment in Iran
ARIEL BEN SOLOMON/J.Post/04/17/2015
The framework nuclear agreement Iran and world powers signed this month has opened the floodgates toward an end of sanctions and to new business deals. In the past week, Russia moved quickly to renew a contract to deliver the S-300 missile defense system to Tehran, and China agreed to build nuclear plants in the country. And Austrian President Heinz Fischer may take a business delegation there later this year. “With the progress of the Iranian nuclear track – and that is obviously positive – we do not see any reason to continue to keep the ban [on the delivery of the S-300] unilaterally,” Putin said in his annual marathon call-in show with Russians on Thursday.
Speaking at a Moscow security conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the preliminary deal meant Iran’s “vicious” international isolation should come to an end. Meanwhile, Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency, announced on Tuesday that China would soon start building nuclear plants in the country, coming after a previous agreement with the Russians to construct two. And the Austrian president told the Wiener Zeitung, in an interview published on Thursday, “Now that a framework agreement with Iran exists, a trip in the second half of 2015 has become likely. “The first step is awaiting a final result of the negotiations. Then we will set a date, and only then will the composition of the delegation be an issue,” Fischer said.
No Western head of state visited Iran during the two terms of President Hassan Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This spurt of activity signals that several countries are trying to get a head start on what they expect to be a flood of transactions with the Shi’ite state once a final agreement is reached. But this also shows that a final nuclear deal may not be necessary for the sanctions regime to unravel. “Once Iran begins to get significant sanctions relief, and billions of dollars and scores of European and other companies move back into Iran, the snap-back sanctions will run into a wall of Russian and Chinese intransigence at the UN and market-drive human greed,” Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Thursday.
“Iran has already benefited from significant direct and indirect sanctions relief which helped the supreme leader avoid economic collapse in 2013,” continued Dubowitz, adding that Iran’s fragile economic recovery would only improve after a final agreement.
“This positions Iran well to immunize itself against future economic pressure,” he added. Asked about the chances for a final deal, Dubowitz responded that one is “more likely than not,” because the Obama administration’s behavior indicates that it “will find a way to accommodate the supreme leader’s redlines on both sanctions relief and access to Iranian military bases. “As the US loses economic leverage to enforce a deeply flawed nuclear deal, a future president will be left with only two choices in response to Iranian cheating: military action, which is unlikely in the face of Iranian incremental cheating, or surrender,” he said.
**Reuters contributed to this report.

Footage of Syrian gas attack deaths brings UN Security council to tears
By REUTERS/J.Post/04/17/2015
UNITED NATIONS - Members of the United Nations Security Council teared up on Thursday when Syrian doctors showed a video of failed attempts to resuscitate three children after a chlorine gas attack in March, prompting renewed calls for accountability.
The children, aged 1, 2 and 3, their parents and grandmother were killed in the March 16 attack on Sarmin village in northwest Idlib province, said Dr. Mohamed Tennari, director of the field hospital where the family was taken.
Government and opposition forces in Syria have denied using chlorine 'barrel bombs,' which the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) says are dropped from helicopters. The Syrian air force is the only party in the conflict known to have helicopters.
Tennari, Dr. Zaher Sahloul, President of the Syrian American Medical Society, and Qusai Zakarya, a survivor of a sarin gas attack in Ghouta near Damascus in August 2013, briefed the informal closed meeting organized by the United States.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said it was an "extremely unusual and very emotional meeting." She added: "If there was a dry eye in the room I didn't see it." Several others attending said many people cried.
"Those people responsible for these attacks have to be held accountable," Power told reporters later.
"If we don't act on this then others will believe that they can do this sort of thing with impunity and that would be a deplorable outcome," New Zealand's UN Ambassador Jim McLay told reporters.
The Security Council failed last year to refer the civil war in Syria, now in its fifth year, to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Syrian ally Russia, backed by China, vetoed the move.
The attack on Sarmin came 10 days after the 15-member council condemned the use of chlorine as a weapon in Syria and threatened to take action if it was used again.
Chlorine is not a prohibited substance, but its use as a weapon is banned under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria joined in 2013. A fact-finding mission of the OPCW is examining the Sarmin attack but it is not mandated to ascribe blame.
Russia has said there would need to be strong proof of who is to blame for any chemical attacks before the council could take action.

UN's Ban Ki-moon calls for immediate cease-fire in Yemen
By REUTERS/04/17/2015
The UN secretary general says "The Saudis have assured me that they understand that there must be a political process. I call on all Yemenis to participate in good faith."
UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called for an immediate halt to the fighting in Yemen, the first time he has made such an appeal since Saudi-led air strikes against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels began three weeks ago.
"I am calling for an immediate cease-fire in Yemen by all the parties," Ban said in a speech to the National Press Club in Washington. "The Saudis have assured me that they understand that there must be a political process. I call on all Yemenis to participate in good faith."
Last week, the United States said it was speeding up arms supplies to the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi fighters opposed to US-allied Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters on a visit to Riyadh, Blinken called for all political parties to commit to what he called a consensus political solution, and said Washington was stepping up intelligence sharing with the anti-Houthi alliance.
"Saudi Arabia is sending a strong message to the Houthis and their allies that they cannot overrun Yemen by force," he said, referring to Riyadh's leadership of a military campaign by several Arab countries to prevent Iranian-allied Houthis from ruling over the whole of Yemen.
"As part of that effort, we have expedited weapons deliveries, we have increased our intelligence sharing, and we have established a joint coordination planning cell in the Saudi operation center."
Warplanes from Saudi Arabia and Arab allies have been striking Shi'ite Muslim rebels fighting to oust Hadi, in an attempt by the regional heavyweight to check Iranian influence in its backyard.
Sunni-ruled Gulf states aim to use military pressure to push the Houthis to resume a UN-backed political transition led by Hadi that was interrupted by the group's seizure of Sanaa in September.
Their takeover angered Riyadh, which sees the once obscure Zaydi Shi'ite group from the northern highlands as terrorists.

Obama's lies about Iran framework agreement
Shoula Romano Horing
Published: 04.17.15 /Israel Opinion
Op-ed: After failing desperately for months to convince Iranians to agree to any concessions on an interim nuclear deal, its seems US president and secretary of state decided to create something from nothing and to sell it to all as if Iran agrees to it.
It is a sad moment in American history when the supreme leader of the Islamic dictatorship of Iran is much more believable than US President Barack Obama.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was correct when he said on April 9 that the White House was lying about what the Americans call a framework agreement regarding the Iranian nuclear program.
Obama is untruthful when he repeatedly claims that Iran has agreed to a detailed and comprehensive nuclear framework agreement. Iran has never signed or agreed to the framework agreement. The framework agreement, with its many specific numbers, productions limits and specific deadlines, is an Obama and Kerry wish list of their own best case scenario of a futuristic agreement.
Two documents were produced in Switzerland on April 2. The first document is a detailed US fact sheet titled, "Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program," which the Americans refer to as "The Framework Agreement," which Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and the media have repeatedly discussed.
The second document is a thin, page and a half statement read jointly by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, which lacked any of the details, numbers, and deadlines mentioned in the framework agreement. Those two documents contradict each other on many points and reveal Obama and Kerry's dangerous lies.
As David Ignatius, a well- known columnist for the Washington Post, wrote: "The late-night sessions and threats to break off the talks weren't enough to get Iran to commit formally to the terms the United States laid out in a meticulous, four-page list of 'parameters' for a binding 'joint comprehensive plan.' The Iranians instead postponed that sign-off to another day, after the final, final negotiations." He concluded that the framework agreement "looks like a pretty good deal. I just wish it were signed."
It seems that after failing desperately for months to convince the Iranians to agree to any concessions on an interim nuclear deal, Kerry and Obama decided to create something from nothing and to sell it to all as if the Iranians agree to it.
Sadly, the majority of the world, including the US and Israeli media, lacking any journalistic integrity, chose to trust and adopt the Obama and Kerry version and applauded it as a detailed, comprehensive and "better than expected deal," while ignoring the Iranian version.
On April 2, an hour or so after Obama began distributing the framework agreement, calling it "an historic understanding with Iran," Zarif, the main Iranian negotiator, contradicted the Americans in several posts on Twitter.
"There is no need to spin using 'fact sheets' so early on," he wrote in one. In another tweet, he suggested that sanctions would have to be lifted far earlier than one might think listening to Kerry, saying that ,in essence, all the economic sanctions would be lifted once a final agreement was signed. At another point, Zarif cautioned that no one had signed anything in Lausanne, Switzerland and "nobody has obligations now" and that would come after a final agreement.
Even the New York Times, two days after applauding Obama's efforts, had to acknowledge that "one problem is that there are two versions. …which have raised the question of whether the two sides are entirely on the same page, especially on the question of how quickly sanctions are to be removed."
The New York Times reported that "Obama administration officials insist that there is no dispute on what was agreed behind closed doors. But to avoid time-consuming deliberations on what would be said publicly, the two sides decided during Wednesday’s all-night discussions that each would issue its own statement," and that "American officials acknowledge that they did not inform the Iranians in advance of all the 'parameters' the United States would make public in an effort to lock in progress made so far, as well as to strengthen the White House’s case against any move by members of Congress to impose more sanctions against Iran."
Ironically, even setting the Iranian version aside, the Obama’s version is a very bad and weak deal. The framework will leave in place the Iranian nuclear program including all their nuclear facilities and the underground facilities they build illicitly as well as thousands of spinning centrifuges which are enriching uranium. But comparing it to the Iranian version is much more telling about the likely final deal.
The framework discuses in 17 sentences the different plans and procedures of inspections and transparency of all of Iran’s nuclear facilities and all elements of its nuclear chain for 25 years and different bans on Iranian reprocessing of uranium, plutonium and building reactors. But the Iranian version only states in one general sentence that "the International Atomic Energy Agency will be permitted the use of modern technologies and will have announced access through agreed procedures including to clarify past and present issues."
The framework discusses the suspension of US and EU sanctions and the convoluted "snap back" provision that would allow sanctions to be re imposed if Iran were found to be cheating. But the Iranian version talks in great detail only about the "termination" of all nuclear related sanctions by both the EU and the US simultaneously once the initial compliance of future agreed terms is verified by IAEA and the "snap back" is not mentioned.
In reality, the Iranians could start cheating the moment the sanctions are lifted and will be able to begin building a bomb immediately. Contrary to Obama’s spin, both documents do not even mention a gradual lifting of sanctions.
It is quite pathetic that the president, for the sake of achieving any foreign policy success, has been willing to blatantly lie about such a dangerous issue and it is worrisome as to what will he be willing to do and say when he needs to finalize the deal by June 30.
Consequently, the American Congress and public should not trust such an untrustworthy and desperate for a deal president. The Democrats and Republicans in the Congress must insist on reviewing and verifying any future final deal to guarantee its authenticity, validity and enforceability.
Moreover, if the Iranians had a problem agreeing to an interim agreement, it is doubtful that they will agree to any final deal unless it includes all their demands. Those Democrats and American Jews who encourage the president to use the months ahead to forge a much tougher and more effective final agreement are delusional.
The framework is the best and toughest deal the US will ever get. The final agreement will be much weaker. Diplomatic negotiations in the Middle East are not much different than bargaining in a Middle East bazaar. You always restart from the most recent diplomatic concessions of your enemy in the previous negotiation. Many eager Israeli governments on the left experienced such endless and fruitless negotiations with the Palestinians.
Obama, by lying so effortlessly, showcased his desperation, untrustworthiness, and weakness. Now the Iranians will exploit it even more to get further concessions or continue endless negotiations while finishing building the bomb.
*Shoula Romano Horing is an attorney. Her blog can be found here: .